And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.
~ Matthew 14:14
For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
~ Hebrews 4:15
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
~ Luke 22:31-32
For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd.
~ Zechariah 10:2
My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their restingplace.
But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
~ Matthew 15:24
Antipharmacum Saluberrimum: Or, A Serious and Seasonable Caveat to All the Saints in This Hour of Temptation, by John Flavel.
God hath stretched out the expansum, or firmament of heaven, over the natural world, so hath he stretched out his word over the rational world; and as in that he hath placed the stars and luminaries to enlighten the earth, and to be for signs and seasons, Gen. i. 14. so hath he placed a constellation of scriptures in this also, by which they that are skilful in the word of righteousness may discern very much the designs and issues of these rolling and amazing providences that are over our heads.
And doubtless, nothing more settles and supports the hearts of saints under terrible and tempestuous providences, than to view them in their reference and relation to the world: for of these we may say, as David doth, Psal. cxlviii. 8. of the stormy winds, that they fulfil his word, and are the undoubted accomplishments of its predictions and prophecies.
Now to those that heedfully observe the Scripture-prophecies, relating to the ruin and destruction of antichrist, it cannot but appear that their accomplishment is nigh, and that glorious design come even to the birth. * But then, as the darkest part of the night is that which immediately precedes the dawning of the day, so before the vial of the Lord’s indignation be poured out upon the throne of the beast, it will be a time of trouble to the saints, such
* All right and laws shall perish and be confounded; there shall be no faithfulness in men; no peace, nor shame, neither safety nor order; and of this confusion this shall be the cause, that the Ronzan name, by which the world is now ruled, · shall be taken away from the earth, as never was since man was upon the earth, Dan. xii. 1. *Rev. xi. 7,8. The witnesses of Jesus must first be slain, and their dead bodies for a time lie in the streets of the great city: And as the naturalists observe, that a beast never bites more furiously and deadly, than when dying, even so it is with this beat also which hath iron teeth, and is terrible above all that were before it, Dan. vii. 7. And when the strong God ariseth to judge Babylon, the shall be found quite drunk with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus, Rev. xvii. 6. So that we, whose lots are fallen into such a day as this, wherein the fiercest rage of the last and most furious of all the beasts, is falling in a dreadful storm upon all the reformed churches of Christ, had need of a more than ordinary degree of faith and patience, to establish us in the truth, and enable us to bear a glorious testimony for the Lord Jesus.
If any man’s heart now shall fail him, and to avoid the fury of antichrist, shall basely betray the truth, and forsake the camp of Christ, and receive the mark of the beast, though not in his forehead, yet in his hand, by a politic and secret compliance with his worship, that man is adjudged, by the dreadful sentence of the great God, to drink the cup of his pure and unmixed wrath and indignation, Rev. xiv. 10. even such as the devils and damned drink: For we may say of that wrath, which is ordinarily poured out upon sinners in this life, as they say of darkness, Non dantur pure tenebræ; there is no pure or perfect darkness here; so neither is there any pure unmixed wrath here, it hath in this life an allay of sparing mercy in it; but this is pure.
To prevent this sad issue, and preserve thee from this terrible wrath of the Lamb, are the following counsels and cautions designed and intended: And Oh! that they might be blessed to establish the sliding feet of tempted faints; for I cannot without trembling observe, how many forward professors begin to give ground already and fall into a compliance with antichristian abominations; surely this is the worst time that ever they could have chosen for it, now that the day of vengeance is in the heart of Christ against her, and the year of his redeemed even come; his righteousness so nigh at hand, and his salvation ready to be revealed.
I shall detain thee no longer, but intreat thee to weigh these things, brought to thy hand by providence, and with the spirit of love, to cover the weaknesses of the author, who is sensible of his own infirmities, and continual need of divine assistance, to enable.
It is observable, that Rome, in this prophecy, bears the name of Egypt and Babylon, in respect of the misery and bondage exercised upon God’s people by it; by which also is not obscurely hinted, the time and manner of their deliverance from it. For both from the one and the other, were the Jews delivered, when reduced to the greaceft extremity, Exod. vi. 9. and ‘Ezek. xxxvii. 11, 12 him to stand; and to that end earnestly begs a remembrance in thy prayers, when thy heart is most * warmed, enlarged, and raised in communion with thy God.
Antipharmacum Saluberrimum, &c.
Then our Lord Jesus Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep, beheld the multitude, he had * compassion on them, because they fainted to and were as sheep having no shepherd, Matth. ix. 36.
After the pattern of those tender bowels of Christ, the chief Shepherd, do the bowels of compassion infused by him into his ministers, the under-shepherds, work and move towards the flock, in like cases and exigencies. God is my record (faith that great apostle) how greatly I long after you all I (in) or after the manner of the bowels of Jesus Chris, Phil. i. 8.
And truly, considering the deep distresses, and languishing conditions, to which many thousands of the Lord’s flock are at this day exposed, how many among you are wandering from mountain to hill, seeking pasture, but finding none; and like those troops of Tema, Job vi. 19. return ashamed, and disappointed, from those places where you were wont to be refreshed, enlarged, quickened: And how your pretended shepherds have taken to themselves the | instruments of a foolish shepherd, ruling you with force and rigour, Ezek. xxxiv. 4. “not sparing the flock,” it makes my heart melt within me, and my compassions for you flow together.
And further, apprehending what a deep and desperate design your adversary the devil bath upon you, in this hoar of temptation, to overthrow your faith, quench your love, and undermine the very foundation of your profession; and what singular and extraordinary advantages he hath now upon you, engaging you fingly and apart; your faithful teachers being removed into corners, your societies broken, dangers threatening on every fide, carnal neighbours and relations, by persuasions, examples, and dangerous
* Dulce commercium, fed breve momentum, cum talis fueris, memento mei. Bern.
* His bowels yearned, ETTdayxvidn. Bowels are a metaphor, to fignify motherly and tender mercies, Luke i. 78.
+ Exashupavor xott eppape penos, quite spent, tired, and fallen down.
# (In) put for (inftar.) | Forcipes, et mulare,
insinuations, digging about and loosening your root, and so preparing for your utter subversion, by the next gust of temptation: I thought it high time to come into your assistance and relief, with a word of counsel and support, though I venture for you, as David’s. I worthies did, to bring him the waters of the well of Bethlehem through the host of the Philistines.
And may I but preserve the peace of mine own conscience, by discharging faithfully a duty to which it impells me, and have the blessing of some poor soul ready to perish come upon me, I shall little regard the pains or hazard of this enterprize for you.
The plain design of these few sheets, is to countermine the enemy of your souls in his present grand designs against you; either in point of stability, by unsettling you; or of duty, by affrighting. you; or of comfort, by discouraging you.
To prevent the success of the tempter, in all, or either of these, I shall offer you my best assistance under these eight ensuing heads of advice and counsel; beseeching you, by all the dear regard you have to the dreadful and glorious name of God, which is called upon you, Eph. iv. 1. Col. i. 10, 11. 2 Tim. ii. 19. or to your own precious and immortal souls, whose eternal happiness is not a little engaged in these things. Matth, x. 33. Gal. vi. 9. or to the comfort and encouragement of your suffering and amicted ministers and brethren abroad, a great part of whose joy, yea, life, lies at your mercy, 1Thess. iii. 8. Col ii. 5. and is, as it were, bound up in your stability, that you will heedfully observe and embrace these admonitions, according to the weight and evidence that are in them, and let not any fleshly interest in the world carry you against the convictions that may, hereby, be left upon your consciences. And the first advice to counsel is this:
COUNSEL I. Cleave fast to Christ, and the profession you have formerly made of Him, what aspect soever the times have upon you.
Psalm xliv. 18, 19, 20, 21. Our heart is not turned back, “ neither have our steps declined from thy way, though thou haft 6 sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the “ shadow of death. If we have forgotten the name of the Lord, or stretched out our hands to a strange god: shall not God search this out? for he knoweth the secrets of the heart.” Hence those new converts, who were turned to the Lord in a time of great temptation and persecution, were so earnestly persuaded, Acts xi. 23. “That with purpose of heart they would “cleave unto the Lord;” i. e. as they had made a good choice, so now to stick to their choice, and not repent of it, what ever afterward they should meet with. O take heed, left after you have lifted up your hand to God, you should lift up your heel against him. Though the * hypocrite will not pray always, yet + the upright soul abhors to flinch from his duty, let come on him what will. It is now autumn with many flourishing professors, but if thou be a tree planted by the river-side, thy leaf shall not wither, Psalm i. You look for happiness as long as God is in heaven, and be sure God looks for holiness as long as you be on earth. What duty is more importunately urged upon you by every part of the gospel, than stability. The preceptive part peremptorily requires it. “See Rev. ii. 1o. Heb. iv. 14. Rev. iii. 11. these be commands flowing from sovereignty, clothed with the highest authority. The minatory part urges us: See Heb. x. 38. Mat. X. 33. Rev. xxi. 8. and these dreadful threats are discharged against the soul, and levelled at the very breast of the apostate,
The promissory part marvellously encourages it, a sweet voice seems to come down from heaven in these promises, saying, Good souls, hold fast, if ever you hope to profess the glory that is here, hold fast, Gal. vi. 9. Mat. X. 22. Rev. iii. 12, 21. Rev. xxi. 7.
Now, left all this should leave but a floating and ineffectual conviction upon you, give me leave to follow it a little farther, and endeavour to work it in by a few warming considerations upon your hearts.
1. Consider, God hath hanged the whole weight of eternal happiness upon this wire; so that the deepest, dearest, and everlasting interest of thy soul is bound up in thy perseverance, Rom. ii. 7. Gal. vi. 9. Heb. iii. 14. and if so, methinks this should make thee cling fast, despise dangers, face the storm, and make a stand for Christ, let come on thee what will: For, consider soul, what comparison betwixt a moment’s suffering, and this eternal glory? Rom. viii. 18. 2 Cor. iv, 16, 17, 18. Oh that vast eternity! that amazing word! which none but he that was from eternity, and is to eternity, comprehensively understands: When a soul is swallowed up in it, yea, or when it fits in a dying hour trembling upon the brink of it, how are its apprehensions of present things altered!
2. Consider how constant and faithful Jesus Christ was to thee, when he condicted in the days of his flesh, with sufferings, dangers, and difficulties infinitely beyond thine; and what a motive i that should be to persuade thee to a bold and constant owning of him in this day of thy trial? 1 Tim. vi. 12, 13, 14.
Fight the “ good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and halt professed a good profession before
* Job xxvii. 10.
+ Đan vi. 10. Excepting cowardice, or away from God’s cause, you may suppose any thing of me who have borne the hatred and outrage of the whole world. Luther.
many witnesses. I give thee charge in the fight of God, who ” quickeneth all things, and before Jesus Christ, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession, that thou keep this “ commandment without spot.” He flinched not when the terrors of death and hell beset him round: He was faithful to the trust committed to him, till death beat the last breath out of his breast If thou now start from him, may not he say to thee as that Roman soldier said to his general, who refused his petition after the war was ended, “Well (faith he) I did not serve you so at ” the battle of Actium.’
3. Never imagine to be owned and acknowledged by him in that great day, if thou desert his cause and interest now, Mat. X. 33. “ He that is ashamed of me before men, of him will I be ashamed,” when I come in my Father’s glory, and mine own glory, and the glory of the holy angels. Oh, sirs, one of these days the Lord will break out of heaven with a * shout, accompanied with + myriads of angels, and ten thousands of his faints, those glistering courtiers of heaven, † the heavens and earth in a dreadful conflagration round about him; 9 the graves shall open, the sea and the earth give up their dead: il Thou shalt fee him ascend the awful feat of judgment, f his faithful ones fitting on the bench as assessors with him; + all flesh gathered before him, ** even multitudes, multitudes in that valley of decision; and then to be publicly disowned by him in the face of that great assembly, and proclaimed a traitor and delinquent to him that fearedst not to deny him, and betray his truths into his enemies hands, because of the frowns of a poor worm that shall die, and be made as grass: O what confusion and everlasting shame shall cover thee! This, this is the portion of all such from the hand of the Lord; 2 Tim. ii. 12. “ If we deny him, he also will deny us.”
4. Consider, e’er thou let go thy profession, how remarkably the righteous hand of heaven hath met with, and paid home the apostates, even in this life; which nevertheless, is but as a few drops upon them before the cloud dissolve, and the whole storm falls; but as the parboiling of them, before they be roasted in the eternal flames. See what is become of Judas, Mat. xxvii. 3, 4, 5. compared with Acts i. 18. Poor Spira, though I determine not of his final state, yet what a living monument of wrath was he whilst he lived; I feel (faith he) “the very torments of hell in my soul.’ Lucian and Julian, two scoffing apostates, the one torn to pieces by dogs; the other, when mortally wounded by a dart, flings up his blood towards heaven in a way of revenge,
1 ‘Thess. iv. 16.
| Matth. xxv. 31.
+ Jude 14.
q i Cor, vi. 2o
12 Pet. iii. 10.
+ Mat. xxv. 32.
S John v. 28. ** Joel iii. 14.
and cries, ‘Thou hast overcome me, O Galilean.’,
5. Suppose thou escape such a stroke, yet never expect a comfortable hour in this world any more, unless the Lord give thee unfeigned repentance to life, which, in such cases, is but seldom: Thou mayest have as much comfort in thy enjoyments here, for which thou haft fold Christ, as Judas had in his thirty pieces, or Spira in his wife and children; Mark viii. 35. “ Whosoever will save his life, shall lose it,” (i. e.) at least its comfort.
COUNSEL II. Touch not with idolatry and superstition; under what name or motion soever it be presented to you.
i John v. 21. “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” Here you had need be exceeding cautelous, and * circumspect, (1.) Because it is a creeping thing which works in itself by plausible pretences and insinuations, 2 Pet. ii. 1. Eph. iv. 14. Col. ii. 23. In which respect (mystery) is written in the whore’s forehead, Rev. xvii. 5. For as Dr Usher well observes, The Roman apostasy
stole into the church disguised, and by degrees. It is a mystery of iniquity (faith the apostle) and a working mystery, 2 Thess. ii. 7. Iniquitas, fed mystica, pietatis, et fidelitatis nomine palliata; i. e. iniquity, but a mystical iniquity, because palliated and cloaked under the name and pretence of piety and fidelity. Idolatrous practices have a shew of wisdom, Col. ii. 23. (i. e. faith † Davenant on the place). They are more modest than to pretend an immediate revelation of the Spirit:” Yet left their placets and inventions should want a pretext of Divine wisdom, they are wont to say, that their doctrines and traditions are not indeed consigned to writing by the apostles, but delivered by lively voice, according to that, We Speak of wisdom among them that are perfect: And by the name of this wisdom, every one calls his own fi&tions. Saith Irenæus, lib. 3. cap. 3. *Thus sometimes under the pretext of wisdom, order, decency, apostolical traditions, antiquity, the power of the church, ‘ &c. it steals upon men insensibly, especially being so advantaged by the proneness of corrupt nature to it. To this purpose it is observable, that Babylon, the mother of harlots, is said, Rev. xvii. 4. to give the wine of her fornication in a golden cup. Wine in itself is temptingly pleasant, but more so when presented in a golden cup; the brims whereof are sugared and sweetened to make
Qui cavet ne decipiatur, vir cavet; čum enim cavet, et cum cavile ratus eft, fæpe is cqutor captus eft. When a man watches againtt being deceived, he does it with human infirmities, when he even actually watches and apprehends he hath done it to purpose, yet such an one is often ensnared.
+ Davenant in loc. # It gradually began to be had in esteem by long use, and the tacit approbation of the learned, increasing in esteem insensibly.
|| Veluti pueris abfynthia tetra medentes, cum dare conantur prlus oras pocula circum: Contingunt dulsi mellis, flavoque liquore. Lucr. 1. 834.
it the more grateful. Therefore, little children, I mean you simple, plain, credulous souls, apt to be taken with fine glittering things, look to yourselves; (2.) Because nothing more provokes and inflames the firey wrath of the Lord, who is a jealous God, than this doth; it makes his anger come up in his face, as that expression is, Ezek. xxxviii. 18. and kindles consuming wrath, Ezek. xliii. 7, 8, 9. Upon this account the blessed God complains, after the manner of men, as if his heart were broken, Ezek. vi. 9. “I ” am (broken) with their whorith heart, and with their (eyes) “ which go a whoring after their idols.” If it be but an unchaste glance upon an idol, it goes to the very heart of God: When he seeth his people yielding to the temptations of it, he shrieks, as it were, and cries out, Oh! do not this abominable thing that I hate; Oh! if there be in you the hearts of children, do not that which doth, as it were, break the heart of your father.
Quest. But what mean you by idolatry and superstition? We hope there are no such things practifed among us; Pagans and Papists may be guilty of it?
Sol. Give me leave here to open these things unto you, and then, perhaps, you may see them nearer to you, than you are aware of; and that this caution is a word in season.
Idolatry then, according to the true and generally received definition of it, is * a religious worship, given either to that which is not the true God, or to the true God himself, but otherwise than he hath prescribed in his word. From hence we plainly fee that worship may be idolatrous two ways; (1.) In respect of the object: if it have any thing besides the true God for its object, it is gross idolatry; such as the first commandment condemns. Pagan idolatry, which the light of the gospel hath long since profligated and expelled out of these parts of the world. Or, (2.) In respect of the manner, when we worship the true God, but in a way and manner which he hath not prescribed in his word, but is invented and devised by ourselves; and this is condemned as idolatry in the second commandment; Thou shalt not (make to thyself,) i. e. out of thine own brain, or of thine own head, any (graven image;) under which title all human inventions, corrupting the pure and simple worship of God, are prohibited as idolatrous; for images
* Cultus religiofus qui exhibetur rei, quæ non eft verus Deus: Vel etiam iph vero Det, fed aliter quam ipfe præfcripfit in verbo fuo. Ravanelus.
$ Eß autem idololatria, cum vel fingitur effe Deus, ‘et colitur pro Deo quod non eft, vel cum verus Deus colitur aliter quam vult coli. Paræus com. in Rom. i. 23.
# In this command the question is answered, which hath so disquieted the church in all ages, fc. Who shall prescribe the form of God’s worship, shall angels? shall men? hall the church? shall councils? The answer is, that when we have chosen JEHOVAH for our God, and rejected all false gods, according to his first law, left our minds Mould invent him any service, he hath here prescribed laws
are here, by a synecdoche, put for all false ways of worshipping God, as the best expositors tell us*. This inventing or making to ourselves, is that which makes it idolatry, Amos v. 26. Numb. xv. 39. Hence the molten calf became an idol to the Israelites, not because it was the object of their worship; for it is plain, it was Jehovah, the true God, they intended to worship by it; appears from Exod. xxxii. 4, 5. “To-morrow is a feast to the Lord.” And, as Dr Willet observes, it had been impossible, that so good a man as Aaron, would have yielded to them, if they had intended to worship it as a god: But yet it being a way or manner of worshipping the true God, which was of their own devising, it became idolatry. And this worship of God, in ways of our own invention, becomes idolatrous upon a double ground: (1.) As it is will-worship; i.e. such worship as hath no other ground or warrant but the will of man, Col. ii. 23. and so dethrones God, by setting up the will of the creature above his, and bestowing the peculiar honour, and incommunicable sovereignty and glory of the blessed God upon the creatures; for the absolute sovereignty of God, which is his glory, 1 Tim. vi. 15. is manifested in two things especially; in his decrees, Rom. ix. 20. and in his laws, Isa. xxxii. 22. James iv. 12. The Lord is our King, and Lawgiver; and there is one Lawgiver. Now, by prescribing any thing by our own authority in the worship of God, the commands of God are made void, Mat. xv. 6. his royal law is flighted, the throne of God invaded by the creatures, who will be a lawgiver too, which can no more be borne, than the heavens can bear two suns; and God is hereby forgotten, as Hos. viii. 14. “ Israel hath forgotten 6 his Maker, and builded temples;” i. e. by building (temples) when God had appointed but one temple. This is, as Melancton observes, Cum Deo certare, alliud instituendo: To strive with God, by instituting something of our own. And Chrysostome notes, Hom. ii. in Rom. That it is a greater sin, in God’s worship, to da what we sould not, than to omit what we should: For, (faith he) by the one we bew the difficulty of the law; but by the other, we charge the law and lawgiver with folly; make ourselves wiser than God: in the one we shew our weakness, in not doing the will of God; but in the himself, for his own most divine and spiritual service. Holland’s fourfold state of man, pag. (mihi) 31.
* See Ames. Medulla, lib. 2. p. 334. Holland on the second command. Willet, Hexapla in loc.
† (It is true) that God loves indeed a willing worshipper, that is, one who cheerfully and willingly does whatever God has commanded him to do; but it is as true on the other hand, that he hates will-worship, that is, those services that are persor med to him for immediate worship, when as they were not prescribed and comm anded by him for that end; because this, as it is expressed, Psal. cvi. 39. ” is to go a whoring with their own inventions.” Davenant or the place.
And it is, as Lactantius phrases it, lib. 3. cap. 13., Summam arrogantiam, fibi virsdicare quod humana conditio non recipit: The highest arrogance, to challenge that to ourselves, which the condition of a creature is not capable of. And upon this account it is, that the indignation and wrath of God smoke so dreadfully against such usurpers, as in the sad story of Nadab and Abihu, you fee, because God is a jealous God; and jealousy is the rage of a man. Zelotes eft, nolens habere, confortium in amando, can endure no rival. This God looks upon as the greatest and most daring wickedness that a creature can lightly commit, Hos. ix. 15. All their wickedness is in Gilgal; ( pro summo) i.e. the height of their wickedness is there, because there they worshipped him according to their own devices; which was such an affront to the wisdom and sovereignty of God, that he could by no means bear it. This is called, a setting our threshold besides the Lord’s threshold, Ezek. xliii. 8. and the nearer this comes to him, the more it provokes him. Therefore it is said in the fame text, “There was a wall betwixt me and them;” i. e. either it caused a wall of separation betwixt me and then, as a it is generally expounded; or else it notes, how God is provoked, ‘by bringing their own inventions so near him: For in the Hebrew it is, There was but a wall betwixt me and them.” And hence it is evident, that doctrinal, symbolical ceremonies, I mean such rites and ceremonies as are brought into the worship of God, with a spiritual signification, merely upon the authority of man, are idolatrous mixtures and additions, and such by which the Lord is dreadfully provoked. It is true, men pretend order and decency, and the power of the church in such cases: but, as learned Amesius well notes*, “Those things which pertain to order and decency, are not so left to the will of man, that they may, under that “ name, obtrude what they please upon the churches.” All the liberty that scripture, 1 Cor. xv, 46. gives us, is but this, to ob serve and perserve those things which God hath instituted, in an orderly and comely manner; and not to innovate new things, what, and as many as we please. And then, (2.) It becomes idolatrous upon this ground also, because this daring impudence of men, in worshipping God in their own way, argues gross and carnal notions and conceptions of God. When we devise a carnal, pompous way of worship for him, it is an argument we have set up an idol god first in our imaginations, one like ourselves, and utterly unlike the true God; who is a most simple, pure, spiritual Being; and, as such, will be worshipped, John iv. 24. But by devising
* Illa igitur quæ pertinent ad ordinem & decorem, non ita relinquunter hominum arbitrio, ut pofont quod ipfis libet, fub illo nomine ecclefiis obtrudere. Medulla. p. 345.
such a fleshly way of worship, I say it is manifest, we have fancied to ourselves another god, altogether different from that God revealed to us in the word. Hence it was that Joshua told the people, Josh. xxiv. 19. “ Ye cannot serve the Lord, for he is a jealous God, and will not forgive your sins.” q. d. You cannot serve the true God, till you have gotten right apprehensions of him: You fancy to yourselves a God made up of all mercy, as if he had no justice nor righteousness to call you to an account for your sins; and so do but worship an idol, formed in your own imagination, instead of the true God. And if the thing be duly weighed, it will appear as well idolatry to submit to, and acknowledge the sovereign* authority of a creature, in appointing laws for worship, or falling down before an imaginary god, or idol, formed in our own phantasy, as to bow to, and worship a graven image, or the stock of a tree.
Now, hence you may come to see at once, both the nature of this second sort of idolatry, and also the rise and original- of it; which is nothing else but the proud and carnal heart of man, which not willing to contain itself within the limits of the word, wherein a plain, simple, and spiritual way of worship is ruled out, invents to itself new rites, ceremonies, and ways of worshipping God, more suitable and pleasing to the flesh. And hence it is, that idolatry is in scripture reckoned a work of the flesh, Gal. v. 20. because man naturally having a proud heart, and a working imagination, which depending upon sense, and not elevated and rectified by faith, first forms to itself carnal conceptions and notions of God; and then deviseth a way of worship suitable to those notions of him. So that as one well observes; This is the fountain and principle of all error, that men think that those which please them, must needs please God; and what displeaseth them, must also displease him.” So that this brat, idolatry, is begotten betwixt a proud, carnal heart and the devil; who, since he cannot draw men to the former fort of idolatry, endeavours all he can to entangle and defile them with this, and that partly out of malice to God, knowing what a dear thing his worship is to him, and partly out of a design of ruining such as he can entice to it: For he knows their sorrows shall be multiplied.
* Hence (even by. God’s own interpretation of the case) we implicitly make any one a god to us, and give him the homage due to a Deity, when we subject ourselves to his authority and institutions in the matter of religious worship. Ames. Medulla, l. 2. page 535.
† Erroris hoc eft principium quod quæ nobis placent, Deo etiam placere putamus: et que nobis difplicent Deo etiam difplicent putamus.
Psal xvi. 4. and God seldom lets it escape without some remarkable stroke.
Upon the whole then, you plainly fee, worship may be right as to its object, and yet idolatrous in respect of the manner; because the assuming of a despotical power in this case, is not only a slighting of that vquor Beoblixov, that royal law, but as high a piece of treason against Jesus Christ, as can lightly be committed by a creature. I will shut up this with two worthy and full testimonies to the truth of the point in hand. The first is Mielanéłon* in loc Com. de ceremon. humanis. His words are these, and they are grave and weighty.
Accedit et hoc, quod episcopi arrogant fibi potestatem condendi traditiones, quam tamen non concedit eis evangelium, &c. non eft leve crimen tentare Deum, eft enim non infirmitate labi, fed contemptu Dei, proposito ipfius verbo, quasi cum eo certare, aliud inftituendo, mas Qirovitely, et illius fapientiæ nostram anteferre. The bishops arrogate to themselves a power of making traditions, which the gospel hath not given them. It is no small crime to tempt God, for this is not to slide by infirmity, but by contempt of God, his word being set before them, as it were, to contend with it, by instituting another thing, and overcome it. This is to preserve our wisdom to his.’
And a little after (having given some instances of it) he proceeds thus:
Tales fuerunt et funt fontes cultus idolorum. Hac funt arcana mala, quæ politica fapientia non poteft judicare, sed nos in ecclefia, ea considerare debemus; ut moniti, fubjiciamus nos verbo Dei, nec noftris opinionibus regi velimus. Such have been, and are the fountain of the worship of idols. These are secret evils, which political wisdom cannot judge. But we in the church ought to consider these ‘ things, that being warned, we may submit ourselves to the word of God, and not be willing to be ruled by our own opinions,’ &c.
To this I shall add the most worthy testimony of the right honourable Lord Brookt.
‘ A bishop’s wearing a surplice, cope, mitre, using the cross, bowing to the altar, &c. (although they may be errors) yet all, or one of these make him not a Pope, or popeling, or properly antichristian; but receiving these from the Pope’s dictates, doing them because he commands, acknowledging him in commanding them, pressing them on others with such a despotical power, makes a true Pope, a real Antichrist! Nor may our bishops evade by this, which I easily fee will be answered, that though
* Pbil. Melan. in loc com. p. 631, 632.
+ Lord Brook’s Treatise of Episcopacy, p. 60, 61.
(indeed they do, and command these things, yet they neither do.. them from the Pope’s command, nor command them in the Pope’s power.’
Though I should grant this, which yet many wife men will (not grant (for our bishops’ first power came from the Pope; and of late also we have found letters, advice, commands, dictates from the Pope to some of our bishops, and that in matters of greatest consequence, both for the church and state:) But grant all this they say, yet they may be Antichristian, and so such ( (in res). as the Pope is; though not literally Romanists, except they do or command in the power of Rome. This I shall be bold to affirm and maintain, till I see better reason, that he (whoever he be) that commands the least tittle of doctrine or disipline, merely ex imperio voluntatis, in his own power and authority, without licence or warrant from scripture, or right reason, (where the scripture hath been filent) though the thing he so commandeth, should happen to be good in itself, yet he, in his so commanding, is not only tyrannical, but antichristian, properly antichristian, encroaching on the royal office of Christ; ‘ which is truly high-treason against God, and most properly antichristianism.’
By all which, you see where the idolatry of worship lies. The instituting of any, though the smallest part of worship, in and by our own authority, without scripture-warrant, makes it idolatrous, as well as if we worshipped an idol. And hence it is, that God gives his people the same call from this latter fort of Romish idolatry; See Rev. xviii. 4. as he doth from the more gross pagan idolatry, 2 Cor. vi. 17,’ So that if that worship you perserve to God, be corrupted by a mixture of mere human, doctrinal, symbolical rites and ceremonies, which God hath not appointed in his worship by the word; though your worship be right for the object, yet it is idolatrous in the manner. Here you had need to be advised, and careful, for you are upon a ticklith point.
And for superstition, that is nothing else, but an excess in religion, For the better understanding whereof, consider three things.
1. That all, and every part of God’s instituted worship, depends entirely upon his own sovereign will and pleasure: So that no man can appoint any part of it, but God alone, forasmuch as man knows what will be acceptable to God, but God himself; that which is highly esteemed among men, is an abomination to God: Besides, none can give efficacy to a creature, as bread, wine, water, or raise them up to such high supernatural ends and uses, but God.
2. The will of God, which is the foundation and rule of his worship, is only revealed to us in the scriptures; whence it is no manifest, that in worship, all men are bound to keep close to the word; and besides the reason that is in the thing itself, the command is express, Exod. xxiii. 13. Deut. iv. 2. Gal vi. 10. (7W xOYONI TOUTW) according to this canon, or rule: This is true canonical obedience. So Rom. xii. 7. (noyoun latpesce) is properly wordservice; (i. e.) such as the word prescribes.
3. Hence then you may see the door at which superstition enters, even addition of new and uncommanded things. When we invent new rites and ceremonies, and bring them into the worship of God, with a spiritual signification and use, this is superstition; being (supra statutum) something above and beyond what God appoints and requires.
And as all the water in the Tyber, cannot wash the Papists, from the filth of their idolatry and superstition, in their mass, altars, surplice, cross, &c. So neither can any thing besides the blood of Jesus, cleanse us from the fame, if we do like them.
Having thus opened the nature of idolatry and superstition to you, I shall reinforce that apostolical caution upon you; “Little children, keep yourselves from idols;” I beseech you, get senses exercised, Heb. v. 14. and suffer not yourselves to be abused by an easy credulity: “ The simple believeth every word,” Prov. xiv. 15. There is no idolatry or superstition in Rome so gross, but is glossed over with plausible pretences, and many subtile * distinctions invented to defend it. But take not you any thing upon trust in God’s worship; be like those well-bred Beræans, Acts xvii. 11. examine the grounds of your practice. It was a good saying of Sir Thomas More, I will pin my faith (faith he) upon no man’s sleeve, because I know not whither he will carry it.’ See that you be provided with an answer, if God should speak to you, when you are at your divine service, as he did to Elijah, Kings xix. 9. when he was hid in the cave at Horeb, “What dost thou “ here, Elijah?” Or as to the Jews, Isa. i. 12. “Who hath required this at your hands?” See that you be able by the word, to juftify your practice: And as you love your souls, defile them not with idolatry or superstition. And the rather,
Arg. 1. Because, should you be found in a false way of worship, you betray a special trust committed to you by the Lord.
Christians, unto you hath the Lord committed his precious gospel-truths and appointments, as precious treasure to defend and keep for him, Rev. iii, 10. Jude 3. Phil. i. 7, 17. and one special means of its preservation, is by witnessing against all those errors and innovations, that corrupt and endanger it: O see that none of Christ’s jewels be embezzled, if you can help it. You
* Additio corrumpens, et converfans. Additio accidentalium, et effentialium.
yourselves have committed a trust to Jesus Christ, 2 Tim. i. 12 and expect he should be faithful in what you have committed to him; and he expects the same from you. O consider what precious things the pure inhiitutions of Christ are: All the good in this world cannot compensate the loss of one of them.
Let heaven os rush (said * Luther) rather than one crumb of truth should ro perish.” O what hard things have the saints in all generations suffered, to preserve and transmit it to us: And shall we now betray it? Would not the generations to come curse us, and abhor our remembrance? And then to speak nothing of any solemn bond or engagement under which you have put your souls to the contrary.
Arg. 2. Shall we not hereby oppose and cross the great design which God is carrying on in the world, by his present providences? O it will be sad to be found opposing God’s design. Now what is that but, by + shaking heaven and earth, to remove the things that are (made) viz. by man invented in his worship, Heb. xii. 27: To pluck up by the roots, every plant; (i. e. ) ceremony and tradition not of his planting, Matth. xv. 13. Are not all these things appointed to perdition? Col. ij. 22. and darest thou then by thy presence, or pleading for them, go about to support and establish them, and so strive against God! ( consider it seriously.
Arg. 3. Is it not dangerous to be found amongst idolaters? Doth not judgment sometimes sweep away the whole community and neighbourhood of such sinners? Read í Sam. vi. 19, 20. i Chron. xv. 13. And hath not God given thee timely warning of the danger before it come? Rev. xviii. 4. And is it not more than ordinary dangerous, to be found among them now, when God is preparing his troops to invade Babylon; I mean ready to pour forth the vials of his wrath upon her?
Arg. 4. And may not your example have a mischievous influence upon others? May it not harden sinners in their ways? And even compel and draw away the weak Christian? Gal. ii. 13, 14. and so draw the guilt of their sins upon thine own soul? And what a dreadful thing is that: factors and consenters are alike guilty and
punishable: you have too much personal guilt of your own; add not the guilt of others sins to it: Nay, by this means thou mayest be sinning in another, when thou lieft in the dust.
* Ruat cælum potius quam una mica veritatis pereat. Luth.
+ By such a shaking he prepared the way for Christ’s first coming, and in like manner he will for his second appearance. Great have been the changes he has made in the world before this, but there is still to come a much greater. Grotius.
# Accefforium fequitur naturam principalis. Agentes et consentientes, pari pane pleciuntur.
Lastly, Consider-how careful God hath always been to keep his people off at the greatest distance from idolatry. Compare these scriptures, 2 Kings xvii. 15. Ezek. xliv. 20. Numb. xxxii. 38.
1 Theil. v. 22. Heb. iv. I. Olet these arguments be impartially weighed, and let not any low fiehly intereft be set up to oppofe them.
COUNSEL III. Beware of such persons as are factors and agents for antichrist, and keep of from such a ministry, the tendency and scope of which, is to entice and draw you to idolatry, Matth. vii. 15. and x. 17. Phil. iii. 2. Col. ii. 8.
There is a * generation of men now abroad, skilful to destroy souls, who would make merchandise of you, and by good words and fair speeches, deceive the hearts of the simple such as mean well, but want prudence to discern such as mean ill. These are of two forts; the generality of them are, by the righteous hand of God, given over to such dissoluteness and debauchery, that their folly and madness is made manifest to all men, 2 Tim. iii. 9. And others that have gifts and parts, how few are there of them, but en ploy them in defending abominable superstitions, and persuading their congregations to submit to them: So that you have your choice, whether you will drink poison, mixed with water, or infused into brisk and generous wine, which will give it a speedier access to the spirits. There are $ wells without water, deceiving the hope of weary and thirsty souls: Clouds they are without rain, that fend not forth one gracious tower to refresh the inheritance of the Lord: The best of them is a brier, and the most upright of them sharper than a thorn-hedge, Micah vii. 4.
I believe there be many among you that are sharp set, and by this time have felt the misery of a spiritual famine. It is bread you come for, but your Father hath shut up house, and is gone for a time, the glory is departed; they are become wells without’ water, breasts without milk: Is there not a vanity in these, as well as in the creatures, when God is withdrawn from them? We may say concerning them, as Isaac did to his father, Gen.
“ Behold the fire and the wood, but were is the sacrifice?” Here you may see the skin and shadow of an ordinance, but where is the power? Where is the life, quickening, and soul, refreshment, that was wont to accompany them? Ah poor
* It is not my design to asperse any godly person, that by the prevalency of temptation may join with them; The Lord, I hope, will recover such out of the snare: But I speak of the body and generality of them.
† They boast and make no small noise about scripture, but understand it not; yea, they pervert it, they open, as it were, fountains of learning, who, however, are destitute of the wholesome waters of sound doctrine.
England! what halt thou loft! what a ministry hast thou sinned away! Walt thou not renowned among the nations for the power and purity of ordinances? Were not thy ministers as sheep coming up from the warning, whereof every one bare twins, and none was barren among them? How was the Lord Jesus lifted up in thy ministry, that all might see the necessity, beauty, and excellency of him! and did not the pangs of the new-birth frequently come upon souls in thine assemblies? But alas, those days are over, they are gone, they are gone is we must say, so it was! Well then, what will you do in this cafe? Will you seek the living among the dead? Will you suck empty breasts, whence you can draw nothing but wind or blood? O no, but rather say, as Cant. i. 7. “ Tell me, O thou whom “ my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy ~ flock to rest at noon, for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?” These companions of Christ, must be none of yours. Arg. 1. Because it is the manifest drift and design of their ministry, to unteach and beguile you of those precious gospel-truths which you have formerly received and learned: this some of them have not shunned to declare in the face of their congregations; and nothing is more apparent, than that it is the delign they all manage. I appeal to your own observations, what is more common with them, than to tell you, you have been misguided by your teachers these twenty years, and now must return to the good old way, which themselves are utterly unacquainted with?
Now what do you, by attendance on such a ministry, but run your souls upon a temptation to unsettlement and apostasy, and dig a grave (as I may say) to bury all the precious truths you have learnt under your former faithful ministers? who may sigh over you, and say as Peter Martyr did, when he was in Oxford, at the coming in of Queen Mary. He heard a college-bell ring to mass, and looking out at his study-window, saw the scholars flocking pace to it; being struck to the heart with this fight, he brake out into this expression, Hæc una notula (said he) omnem meam doctris nam evertit (i e.) This bell rings a pailing-peal to all my doctrine: And upon serious consideration, this will appear to be no small evil. For you cannot but be convinced, that it is your duty to be immoveably fixed in the truths of the gospel, which you have received, and to suffer no man to spoil you of them: If you doubt that, read 2 Pet. iii. 17, 18. Col i. 23. Eph. iii. 17. Col. ii. 6, 7. I Cor. xv. 58.
And if this be your sin, to be moved away from it, then it must needs be your duty, to avoid the temptations, means and occasions of such unsettlement. And this is that which is intended in all those cautions given in the word, and but lately recited.
I am against the prophets that steal the word, every man from his neighbour, Jer. xxiii. 30. He means the false prophets that enticed the people from those truths, which the true prophets had taught them. There be spiritual cut-purses abroad, pray look to yourselves: The old Chemarims are revived again in this generation: The word Zeph, i. 4. is conceived to come from ou incaluit; (i.e.) Men more zealous and hot than ordinary, for their superstitious traditions; inflamed with desires to draw you to it: Ut multitudine fequacium, fefe efferant: Which the apostle englishes, Gal. vi, 13. that they may glory in your flesh: And therefore beware of men.
Arg, 2. Doth not your attendance upon, and following of such a ministry, help to midwife and bring forth all those evils with which their ministry travails, and is in pain to be delivered of? Could they do any hurt, if they were generally declined and avoided? Their strength lieth in you: As a great commander once said to his soldiers, “That be flew upon their wings.’ Hence it was the Pharisees were so often disappointed in their attempts to lay hands upon Christ; they had a strong design to do it, but the text faith, They could not because of the people,” Mark xiv. 2. Acts iv. 21. So the false teachers in Jeroboam’s time, Hosea vii. 6, 7. were as hot as an oven, with desires and designs to draw the people to false worship, but the people were a great lump, and could not presently be leavened; and therefore in the mean time, till that were done, the baker slept, and ceased from rising. This for a time, obstructed the design; but here is the misery, the people are materia disposita, matter fit for them to work into any form, if they give them but a heat or two in a plausible sermon, they are malleable, and fit to be hammered into any shape, Jer. v. ult. “ The people love to have it fo:” And Amos iv. 5.
This liketh you, O house of Israel. Fear of persecution makes them comply with any thing, Gal. vi. 12.
Arg. 3. Can you attend lawfully and comfortably upon such a ministry, upon which you cannot pray for, or expect a blessing? Doubtless, you will readily confess you may not. pray for, or expect a blessing, where you have no promise in all the book of God to warrant or encourage you so to do? It is clear you cannot. Now produce but one promise to the labours of such as God hath not sent. A curse upon their labours you may find, Jer. xxiii. 32. and upon their gifts and parts. And a prohibition of hearing them, you may find, Jer. xxiii. 16. But no promise of a blessing; that only attends a ministry of Christ’s own sending, Mat. xxviii. 19, 20.
Object. But hath not Christ sent them? How fall we be satisfied in that?
And can you consider what is requisite and necessary in the fending, or due call of a minifter. (1.) Whether it be personal qualifications, described, I Tim. iii. 7. 2 Tim. iii. 16, 17. i Tim. iii. 2. 2 Tim. ii. 2. John xxi. 15, 16, 17. (2.) Or free election by the church,
( to which the ministry is given: See Acts i. 23; 24. and vi. 5. (3.) Or (according to true Presbyterian principles) ordination, by fasting, prayer, and imposition of hands, Acts vi. 6. and xiii. 3. and xiv. 23. i Tim. v. 22. and iv. 14. 2 Tim. i. 6.
If the sending or call of a minister, consists in all or either of these, then judge yourselves whether these men are fent. For their gifts and qualifications necessary to fit them for such a work, let their congregation witness, who are fed upon husks, and starved under them.
For their election by the church, let the godly in their respective parishes witness, whether they were elected by them, or obtruded upon them, and so stand upon the ruins of their own lawful and godly pastors.
And for their ordination, their own canons may inform you: Wherein it is ordered, (1.) That they be made deacons: (2.) Then after a year’s space, they must be presented to the bishop, or his suffragan, by an archdeacon or his deputy, saying, · Reve(rend father in God, I present these persons to be admitted to ‘ the order of priesthood.’ (3.) Then after the Litany and some ( collects, the prelate asketh them, “Do you think in your hearts, ‘ that you be truly called according to the will of Christ, and the order of this church of England, to the ministry of priesthood?’ And every one of them answers, I think it. (4.) Then they promise reverently to obey their ordinary, and other chief ministers of the church. (5.) And then kneeling down at the prelate’s feet, he, with the priests present, lạy their hands on their heads, saying, Receive the Holy Ghost. Whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven; and whose sins thou doit retain, they are retained: and be thou a faithful dispenser of the word of God, and ‘ of his holy sacraments, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen. (6.) Then delivering to each of them a Bible, he faith, Take thine authority to preach the word of God, ‘ and to administer the holy sacraments, in the congregation where ” thou shalt be so appointed.’ (7.) And after all this, by the canons of 1603. none of them are to be admitted to any ecclesiastical living, or suffered to preach, except he be licensed so to do, by the archbishop, or bishop of the diocese, and shall subscribe, – That the book of common prayer, and of ordering bishops, priests, and deacons, contains in it nothing contrary to the word r of God, and that it may be lawfully used, and that he himself will use the fame; and that he alloweth the book of articles of religion.’ (8.) And then lastly, having abjured the covenant, &c. he is a complete priest to all intents and purposes.
Judge now what a fair and regular call here is to the ministry. I remember Acquinas tells us, that if the artificer’s hand were his rule, he could never work amiss.’ And if fo, if the prelate’s hand be the rule of ordination, they cannot but be well ordained; but if the scriptures be indeed the rule, I am at a loss where to find a text parallel to this practice, unless it be that in 2 Chron. xiii. 9. which, I confess, suits it to an hair’s breadth.
Object. But this will invalidate and nullify the call of our former, ancient and gedly ministers, for they came in the same way: yet God hath owned them, and they have made full proof of their ministry.
Sol. Not at all. For, (1.) Though it must be confessed (and themselves will not deny) but there were many grand irregularities in their ordination; yet it was comparatively, a time of ignorance and darkness; and in such cases, God is more indulgent, and the fin receives not such aggravations, Acts xvii. 30. Heb. v. 2. Heb. vi. 5, 6, 7. James iv. 17. (2.) As hard as the terms then were, they are harder now by far; several things since that have intervened, which are considerable. (3.) They were holy men, qualified with graces and gifts, able and apt to teach, which is mainly considerable in a minister’s call. (4.) Lastly, They generally came into their places at the desire, and upon the call of the most godly persons in the places where they lived. And this, if they had no more, makes them true ministers, (in the judgment of many judicious divines) although their Episcopal ordination should be a nullity. Let us hear what is said in this case by others. * Amefius’s words are these, speaking to this question; in whom is this right of calling the ministers? He answers; (1.) Summum jus vocationis, eft penes Christum solum, qui eft Ecclefia caput, et ministerii auctor, ac Dominus ministrorum. (2.) Fus delegatum non poteft proprie ele, vel episcoporum dioecesanorum, vel patronorum, vel magiAratum, qua funt tales; quia Christus qui ministerium instituit, de iftis ordinabus nihil singulare prafcripfit, nihil novi juris ipfis communicavit, et ecclefiam fine illis oprime ordinatam reliquit. (3.) Jus delegatum eft penes ecclefam illam totam, cui minister vocandus debet infervire, &c. (1.) The chief right of calling, is the power of Christ alone, who is the head of the church, author of the ministry, and Lord of ministers. (2.) The delegated right cannot properly be, either of diocesan bishops, or patrons, or magistrates, (as such) because Christ, who instituted the ministry, prescribed nothing singular concerning those orders, communicated nothing of any new right to them, and left
* Amef. Caf. confcien. lib. 4. p. 233.
his church well ordered without them. (3.) The delegated right is in the power of that whole church, to which the minister that is to be called, ought to serve, &c. which he proves by many weighty arguments. To this I shall join the testimony of that blessed man, now with God, * Mr Jer. Burroughs, his words are these: For their calling, I make no question, but there are many ministers ‘ in England, as they were, and as they are, that are the true ministers of Jesus Christ, and have a true call from Christ.’ Object. But how can that be? They hold their standing from the bishops, and so from antichrist.’
Answ. Take it for granted, that their authority from the bishops was wholly naught and sinful, yet that doth not follow, but ” that many ministers, that had their ordination from them, are true ministers of Christ: Why? Not because of that they had from them, but they had their calling likewise from the people of God, as well as in a seeming way from them: For we will take that for granted, that that they had from them, there was such corruption in it, that they sinned against God; but yet mark, ‘ that doth not nullify their call, because they had somewhat super added, wherein they sinned against God. This he farther illustrates, in the same place, by this similitude, If a man have two deeds or evidences for a piece of land, and one be naught, yet if the other be good and found, he hath a true title. + Mr Collings also, answering this objection, Ministers had their ordination from bishops, and they from Rome, Rome is no true church, and hath no true ministry: and those that were not ministers themselves, could not make others. Having inferred several absurdities from the objection, gives this answer;
Suppose the reformers had no ordination but the call of the people, it was a plain case of necessity; and they had power, doubtless, to restore that ordinance to the church again.’
So that as long as they were holy men, so eminently qualified, and fairly called by good people, far be it from me to question the validity of their call. But the case before us differs heaven wide from this.
Object. But they are not worse than the Scribes and Pharisees were? Yet Christ commands his disciples to hear them, Mat. xxiii. 2, 3.
Šol. Because this is the Archillean argument, I shall endeavour to satisfy you in this scripture, and destroy the argument commonly drawn from this place, by these plain and (as I judge) satisfactory replies to it.
1. Those that infer from this text a duty, or a liberty of attend
* Burroughs on the xi. of Mat. 12. second book, p. 110. † Mr Collings Vindiciæ, minift. t. p. 73.
…joining with a profane or corrupt ministry, do thereby (though perhaps unawares) gratify the popish cause and interest’; for from this very text, they draw many of their arguments to condemn our separation from them, and also to convince us of the necessity of obeying the mandates of their prelates, and hearing their jesuits and monks, notwithstanding their corruptions in worship, and filthy sodomitical lives. Huc enim torquent verba Christi, faith Calvin, To this sense they wrest the words of Christ. And to the same sense Paræus speaks, ‘Ut hodie papa, et episcopi clamant, omnia, omnia, servate; as the pope and the bishops cry out at this day, all things, all things they bid you do, observe and do. So that by taking the words in such a large unlimited sense, we do the cause of Christ more disservice than we are aware of.
2. It is further considerable, that the arguments drawn from this text, are commonly fallacious, taking it for granted, that religious hearing, as an act of worship, is here enjoined; whereas there is not a syllable of any such thing in the text: Indeed Christ bids them observe and do whatsoever they bid them; but it doth not thence follow, they should religiously attend on their ministry. (1.) Because it is evident, these Scribes and Pharisees sustained a double capacity; they were expositors of the law, that we allow; and they were also of the Sanhedrim, in a civil capacity, as rulers; that appears from John iii. 1, 10. Acts v. 34. In this civil capacity, they are most properly said, to fit in Moses’ feat: For the 70 elders which made up this sanhedrim, came in upon a civil score at first, as appears from Numb. xi, 16, 17. and so were joined with Moses in the government. Now then this command seems most properly to respect them as rulers; who in that capacity both opened the judicious laws of Moses, and enjoined the people to obey them. (2.) Because Christ had before warned them, to take heed of their leaven, i. e. their doctrine, Mat. xvi. 6, 12. and told them they were blind guides, and what the fatal issue of them, and their disciples that followed them, would be, Mat. XV. 14 both should fall into the ditch; and that their worship was vain, Mat. xv. 9. and it is not like he would afterwards encourage them to attend on it.