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.
~ Numbers 25:11
Moreover, because I have set my affection to the house of my God, I have of mine own proper good, of gold and silver, which I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house,
~ 1 Chronicles 29:3
And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves; And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me. My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words.
~ Mark 11:15-17, Psalm 69:9, Psalm 119:139
And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.
~ 1 Kings 19:10
As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
~ Revelation 3:19
Zeal for God’s House Quickened. Or, A Sermon Preached before the Assembly of Lords, Commons, and Divines at their solemn fast July 7, 1643. In the Abbey Church at Westminster. Expressing The Eminencie of Zeale requisite in Church Reformers, by Oliver Bowles, Pastor of Sutton in Bedfordshire.
But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.
~ Galatians 4:18
And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.
~ John 2:17
(The following was sourced from the original, written in old English.)
The Prophet Malachi, prophecying concerning the Lord Christ, that he should in due time come to visit his Church, sets him out as a Refiner, as a Purifier of silver, tells us that he should purifie in speciall the Sonnes of Levi, purge them as gold and silver, that they might offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousnesse. And as an accomplishingment of this prophecy, the same Lord Christ gives a specimen, in the story immediately preceding my Text, by that heroicall fact of his in whipping the buyers and sellers out of the Temple (an evill which the Priests for their gaine had fomented.) I call it an heroical fact, for that it was done by a speciall spirit, in its kinde not imitable by us. The which act of the Lord Jesus being carried on with an eminent and remarkable zeale and magnanimity gave the Disciples an occasion of calling this to minde, The zeale of thy house hath eaten me up. Of which zeale we have a remarkable discovery in these particulars.
1. In the weaknesse of the meanes whereby he did both attempt and effect the work; in that the persons but few in comparison, and those despicable in the eyes of the world, Christ and his Disciples, not armed with any weapons that might carry dread and terrour with them, at most but with a whip made of a few small cords, which probably were scattered by the Drovers which came thither to sell their cattell; and to some of them with his voice only, he said to the money changers, Take these things hence, and it was done.
2. In the strength that the opposite power did hold out, which makes the encounter so much the more dangerous: As first, a garrison of Souldiers in Arce Antonia ready at hand to appease (as it is probable) occasionall Tumults. Secondly, the temper of the mens spirits with whom the businesse was, they were men set upon gaine, the worlds god. Thirdly, the great confluence of the people, it being the most solemne Mart of the Passover. Behold then the greatnesse of Christs zeale; when neither the weaknesse of the meanes on the one side to effect it, nor the greatnesse of the power on the other side to hinder it, did at all dismay him, or cause him to desist from this attempt of reforming that so apparent an abuse of the Temple, the house of God. Learne we hence, that
It matters not how weak the meanes of Church-reformation is, nor how strong the opposite power is, if we can but draw Christ into the businesse, if we can procure him to sit as President in the Assembly: If he be there, he will heale our ignorances, hee will clear up all our doubts, he will guide us by the spirit of truth, he will be as a wall of Brasse against all our adversaries, he will work all our works for us.
I do ingenuously confesse, that when we do consider and view the difficulty of the work of Church reformation, and our weaknesse, who are summoned to be advisers in the work, it may amaze us: but when we look upon the Lord Almighty, the great Jehovah, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, to whom nothing is too hard, who hath broken through gates of Iron, and Barres of Brasse, which we could never have dreamed that they had been perviable, this againe may raise up our spirits, and give us hope, that if we seek the Lord in his way, he will certainly be found of us. It all one to him, whether by an Army or by power, or by quickening the spirits of his, raising them above themselves: whether by a day of small things, or by doing terrible things that wee looked not for, hee bring about his Churches cause. It is nothing to him to make Mountaines plaine: who art thou O great Mountaine? The Lord by the Prophet speaks in a holy scorne of all the enemies the Jewes had in rebuilding the Temple and City. Wee accordingly, by a grant from the Right Honourable the two Houses of Parliament, with so many of them as have heere pleased to embody themselves with us, are assembled this day afflict our soules in Fasting and Prayer before the Lord, that we may seek of him a right way in these great and important affaires to be treated on, that he would give us such a frame of spirit, such an assistance from on high, such a cleare light, as may raise us above our selves, fit us for that work whereunto we have no sufficiency as from our selves. Thus did Ezra and the Jewes out of a conscience of their owne inability to help themselves in their passage from Babylon to Jerusalem: So we being now upon a further progresse, not from Babylon (as some have unjustly slandered us) but from the remnants of Babylon to the new Jerusalem; our work is (the Lord assisting) to humble our soules before him in a more than ordinary way. Oh that the Lord would put us into such a posture of abasement as might make both our persons and services acceptable before him, so should we not doubt but the Lord Christ would be in the middest among us.
The words read unto you are for the latter part taken out of the sixty ninth Psalme, uttered by David as a type of Christ, as appears by this application of them. Consider in the verse, first, the Scripture alledged: secondly, the meanes whereby it came to be alledged. For the latter, it was an act of a sanctified memory in the Disciples calling to minde what was written, whereunto the fact done did serve as a remembrancer.
That conscionable reading of holy Scriptures shall be attended with a seasonable remembring: That is conscionable reading, when we take up reading of Scriptures in the severall seasons which the Lord commands as an act of obedience unto him, this shall have seasonable remembring; for so is the promise of Christ, The Comforter shall bring all things to your remembrance.
How industrious then should we all be in frequent search of Scriptures? Are not they the Paradise of God, wherein growes the Tree of Life, and the leaves are good to heale the Nations? Are not Scriptures as that Poole whereunto God hath promised a vertuall power, wherein we may wash and be cleane? Scriptures are that golden Mine wherein we may dig riches that may make us rich to God, that enrich us to life eternall. So zealous was Luther to have the Scriptures read, that he professed, that if he thought that the reading of his Books would hinder the reading of the Scriptures, he would burne them all before he died. But thus much of these things briefly; the Scripture it selfe alledged being that which I intend principally (by Gods help) to insist upon. And in this Scripture alledged in the Text, three particulars offer themselves.
1. The grace, Zeale.
2. The Object whereabout it was conversant, Gods House.
3. The Degree wherein it seized upon David and Christ, they were eaten up with it.
First then for the Grace it selfe, What is Zeale?
It is a holy Ardour kindled by the holy Spirit of God in the affections, improving a man to the utmost for Gods glory, and the Churches good; Zelus est intensus gradus pura affectionis: It is not so much any one affection,as the intended degree of all. Affections are the motions of the Will, as carried out to the prosecution of good, or avoiding of evill: They are, as the Philosopher speaks, exitus animae, the out-goings of the soule. What the Wheeles are to the Cart, the Sinewes to the Body, Wings to the Bird, the Wind to the Sailes spread, such are the Affections to the Soule, implanted by God to carry it hither and thither as the objects do more or lesse affect. Man lies like a logge, the soule moves not, but as the Affections stirre.
For their order they are so placed in the soule, as that they are subservient one to another; the irascible to the concupiscible. When the desiring faculties flag, grow remisse by intervenient impediments, then comes in the irascible faculties, as removent impedimenta, as taking away the impediments; and is not this that which is properly called Anger? This made Luther to say, Ira suo loco est optimum Dei donum.
The second thing is the Object, Gods House; the house of God under the Law, was all the externall pledges of Gods presence, the Altars, Temple, Tabernacle, Ark, &c. The house of God under the Gospel, is (as the people of God elsewhere, so) the Ordinances of God here.
The third thing is the Degree, hath eaten me up; a metaphor taken from men that receive nourishment, and the meat after its severall concoctions, is assimilated into the nature of them that receive it. Zeale doth totally surprize us in what concerns God, we so minde the things of God, as if we minded nothing else. What was said of Peter, that he was a man made all of fire: and of Saint Paul in respect of his sufferings, that he was a spark of fire burning in the middle of the sea; that may be much more said of Christ when he was upon the work of Church-reformation.
The Text thus opened, this proposition offers it selfe.
That Church-reformation doth call for utmost zeale. Our love to promote that work must be such, as many waters cannot quench: Our desires must be enlarged, as those which break through all impediments, admit of no deniall, give me my request or I die: our hope must be more longing, our endeavours full of activity, our hatred of the opposites more perfect, our anger in removing the hindrances more violent. These stirrings of the Spirit expell Lukewarmnesse, indure Zeale. Zeale sets on work the whole tide of our affections; All my springs are in thee: in promoting the good of Gods Church, David had a spring-tide of his affections, they all ran in that channell. To what dangers, hazards, and censures did Christ here in the exercise of his zeale expose himselfe in the case of Church-reformation. Davids zeale for the setling of the Ark, how did it make him deny himselfe in his most necessary refreshings, I will not goe into my house,&c. his house was not house, his bed no bed, his rest no rest; so in his worldly credit, I will yet, for my Gods sake, bee more vile; So in those innumerable heaps of gold and silver, which out of his earnest zeale he had prepared and set apart for the building of the Temple. Nehemiah that Embleme of Reformers, what a measure of zeale did he discover in leaving all his Court preferments, putting himselfe in his owne person upon a hazardfull and tedious journey, in the encounters and oppositions both open and secret he met withall, in his expensefulnesse and that to prodigality, as it may seeme, for the common cause, in his unwearied persisting in the work till it was accomplished. How iron-like was the spirit of Elias? how did he out of a spirit of zeale against the idolatry of Baal set his face agtainst Ahab, Jezebell, and all the Priests of Baal? how was he driven to flie for his life? (some Geographers compute his journey at many hundreds of miles;) How great were the exigences he was put unto to, affamishment, to a weariness of his life. John the Baptist of what an invincible spirit he was, his encounter with a generation of vipers, his bold and daring (for it cost him his life) reproofe of Herod for his Herodias, his turning of Mountaines into Valleys, his making of rough wayes plaine, doe all witnesse. The want of zeale in the people of Jehosaphats time, they having not prepared their hearts to seek the God of their fathers, kept up the high places; but in Hezekiahs time the zeale of the people plucked them downe; the work was done suddenly, for the people were read; of such moment it is, that where Church-reformation is in hand, a spirit of zeale should run in the veines of the Reformers: No such unbeseeming evill as, when the cause of God lies at stake, for men to be cold, lukewarme Neuters, warping sometimes one way, sometimes another.
In the further prosecution of this truth, three particulars doe present themselves.
1. Convincing reasons must be rendered, why zeale must be present in Church- reformation.
2. What influence zeale ought to have in Church-Reformers.
3. How Zeale must be qualified, that it may be kept within its bounds; zeale not confine is as wildefire.
For the first of these, three Reasons doe offer themselves as arising from the nature of the work in respect of its
3. The destructive nature of Church-evills, if not reformed.
The excellency of the work I argue three wayes.
1. In that the work of Church-reformation is one of Gods speciall favours, whereby the Lord would endeare his Church to him. When after the Churches had sufferings, he would doe his people a speciall favour, he tells them that he will purge away all her drosse, and take away all her tinne. So when the Lord would expresse himselfe in the greatest declarations of his love to his Church. Oh thou afflicted and tossed with tempest, I will lay thy stones with faire colours, thy foundations with saphires, &c. God will set up his ordinances in a more glorious way; all thy children shall be taught of the Lord. Accordingly in this latter age of the world, what is the great work, for which the Church blesses God with the song of Moses, and the song of the Lambe, is it not the victory over the beast, his name, mark, &c. all done by Church-reformation: Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty, &c.
2. The excellency of the work is argued jointly from the relations betwixt God and his Church, and the office which Reformers do. The Church is Gods Garden, which being planted with all variety of flowers is apt to be overgrowne with weeds, that not only marre the beauty of it, but eat out the good herbs: Reformers, their work is to weed the Lord his garden, throw out all those noisome herbs which would have spoiled all the good ones. The Church is the Lords Orchard, wherein trees of all kindes, both for fruit and and medicine, grow upon the banks thereof: The Master of that Orchard is impatient of any such trees that cumber the ground, and after many yeares beare no fruit; Reformers, their work is to root out the plants that God never planted. The Church is Gods house, wherein he delights to dwell; Reformers are to cast out all the durt, drosse, and garbage that was odious and irksome to the Master of the house; they sweep downe all the cobwebs werein the Spiders did build. The Church is Gods house, in whose beauty his soule delights; that she should be deformed with strange attire, ornaments borrowed from notorious strumpets, the Lord cannot endure; Reformers they strip her of all her harlotry attire, take off all her Jezebel-like paintings, and render her to Christ in her native simplicity. The Church is the Lords Vineyard, which he keeps and waters every moment; Reformers their work is to take the Foxes that destroy the Vines. How welcome should the feet of such be? and how should the precious nature of the work in relation to God, draw out all our strength?
3. That the excellency of the work may be yet further evidenced: consider it in the objects whereabout it is conversant; that is, either Things, or Persons. Things are Doctrine, Worship, and Government; Doctrine is a ray or beame of supernaturall truth issued out from God as a speciall favour to his people, tending to informe them in right notions and apprehensions concerning God, Christ, our soules, and the whole way of salvation. This is called the word of life, the wholesome word, the word of salvation; how usefull is this word, since men do as surely perish by damnable heresies, as by morall vices. Doctrine is as the waters of the Sanctuary, how great a sinne to puddle or poison these. was it not capitall among the Romans to poison the common springs? How noisome was that plague to the Egyptians to have all their waters whereof they should drink, turned into blood? was it not much more (as the soule is more excellent then the body) pestilentiall to have all the maine Articles of our Religion (not that of Justification excepted) to be all, or the most, desperately corrupted, as may be seene in the Ministers Remonstrance exhibited, together with their Petition for Reformation.
The second particular, whereabout Reformation is conversant, is worship; whereby God and we have communion one with another, wee doe in a holy manner trade with God and hee with us. This is as Jacobs ladder, The Angels of God ascend and descend by it; our prayers ascend, Gods blessings descend. The ordinances are those golden pipes by which the golden oyle empties it selfe into the hearts of Gods people; They are the Churches breasts from whence her children such nourishment; They are the Churches barne and her Wine-presse: They are on Christs par the kisses of his mouth, the mutuall embraces betwixt God and the Christian Soule; Dry np all the breasts in such a City as this, how great will the cry of the Infants be? This mischief by the putting down of Preaching, and strange Innovations brought and urged upon us in our most solemn worship, had in a great part seized upon us, and will yet certainly prevaile if the Reformers doe not seasonably and strongly oppose.
The third particular is Church Discipline or Government; all Societies, and so the Church, is upheld by ruling and being ruled. This amongst other benefits it will yeeld, That it will preserve the honour of Gods censures and ordinances, that great censure of Excommunication, which is no lesse then the delivery up of a man to Satan, and (next the day of judgement) it is judicium maxime tremendum, it shall no longer Lackey up and down for Duties and Fees as it hath done amonst us, and as it did in the darkest times of Popery as Gerson complaines, Lib. de Eccles. defect. Quid est, quod Gladius Ecclesia, scilices Excommunicatio, extrabitur pro re nihili, ut pre re nummaria? This once established, will direct us to put a difference betwixt the holy and the prophane, the cleane and the uncleane, for want whereof the Lord challenges the Priests. Hath not this been, and is it not yet in a great part, remaining upon us, as one of our land destroying sinnes; the promiscuous thrusting in of scandalous and ignorant persons upon the Sacrament of the Lords Supper, to the horrible prophaning of the same, and no power that would hitherto be allowed as legall, no not for making stay of such? Misunderstand me not, I meane not, that men should be cut short of that latitude which the Lawes of Christ allow; only let that hedge and mound of Discipline be erected, whereby holy things may not be indifferently administred, as well to men egregiously prophane, and that after conviction, as to the Lord his holy ones.
Thus of things now of persons; These bee as all Church Officers, whereof a ground in Scripture, so more specially, the Ministers of the Word, the Dispensers of holy things; These, if good, are the best of men; as, who are one of a thousand, when others at the utmost but one of foure or five hundred; to these God hath committeth the Ministry of Reconciliation even of God with men; these the Lord hath betrusted with the power of opening and shutting Heaven, when the like Commission is not given to the Angels themselves, for to which of the Angels did God ever say, Whatsoever yee binde on Earth is bound in Heaven, &c. These worthily stiled, Saviours, and of such as these, Reformers hold out a hope; all their endeavours are and ought to be, that the Churches, those have sate in darknesse and in the shaddow of death may bee furnished with bright shining lights. Now as these who attend at the Altar, if good the best, so is evill the worst; for as it is among the Marriners who see the wonders of the Lord in the deep, they either are the best or worst of men; the best, if what they see, works for the best; or the worst, if not bettered: so we Ministers, whom God acquaints with the depths of Scripture, come off from that priviledge either as most prophane, or most holy. If Salt hath lost its savour, what is it good for, but to be cast to the dunghill. What hope of salvation for such, where remedies are turned into loathing & poison, as a Gerson. And hence is that of Chrysostome, Who ever saw a Clergy man easily brought to repentance. And does not that work, which will thus reserve all honour to Gods ordinances, keep them from the prophane ones, furnish the Church with faithfull watchmen, and ridde us of such burdens as are of all other most insufferable, require our utmost zeale?
The second particular, evincing the necessity of zeale, is the difficulty of the work in respect of the mountianous oppositions, Reformers shall and must encounter with; as first, not onely a large-spread, but also an unanimous combination of the Churches enemies, Gebal, Ammon and Amalek, the Philistim and them that dwell at Tyre, and they have consulted together with one consent, &c. Pope, Spanyard, French, and the whole generation of the English-Jesuites, Papists, and Prelaticall Faction, and Libertines, all looking upon the work of Reformation, not only as hindring their design, their good work in hand as they call it; but undermining their Kingdome: How industriously vigilant are they in laying out themselves, their heads, hands and purses? They leave no stone unremoved, that my hinder our work or promote their own; Doth not all this challenge our utmost zeale?
Secondly, in respect of the prevailing nature, the close adhering of Church-men’s (as they are called) sinnes, with whom Reformers must contest: These are sensuality, ambition, and idleness. It was the Monks bellies, and the Cardinalls Caps, which (as Erasmus observed) did create Luther his greatest trouble. Sensuality is a sinne where ever it seizes maxime adherentiae, of the greatest adherence, as the Schoole speaks: I will though smitten said the drunkard, seek it yet againe; and of sensuall sinnes it is said, They return not againe; The Philosopher could say, The intemperate man is seldome a penitent man: The guise of such Church-men an old Writer deciphers as those which did turn their scribere into libere, and their cadices into calices: Such the Prophet describes, Come, say they, and we will fill our selves with wine, and to morrow shal be as today: Another describes them as patinu magis quam paginis incumbentes: Such belly-gods as these; another sayes of them, no dainties suffice them; as if to bee judged rather by their complexion then their profession: Against such evil beasts and slow- bellies, not only the Ancient Councels and Synods, but even Julian himselfe shall rise up in judgment: He perceiving that the Christian faith did grow and encrease by the sobriety and abstemiousnesse of their Ministers, gave command to his Arch-Flamine Arsatius, that his Priests should not drink in a Tavern, if any should doe so he should bee removed from his Priests Dignity; and for that horse-leach humour of ambition, which hast so eaten up the vitals of our Clergy-Masters: May we not see a picture of them in Balaam, who that he might have been capable of Balack’s great preferments, how doth he winde and turn himselfe every way that he might curse Gods people, Num. 22. & 13. How lively doth Bernard decipher them, Curritur in Ecclesiastica, &c. learned and unlearned runne ad curas Ecclesiasticas, ac si sine cura victuri cum jam ad curam pervenerint, as if men were to live without all care when they came to a charge: The same authour tartly derides them when hee speaks on this manner, Hasten to multiply Prebends, from thence flie to an Archdeaconry, at length climb up to a Bishoprick, not satisfied with that, because this is the way to Heaven? Whether dost thou post o miserable man? So a forenamed Author who lived in the twelfth century, Hodie per fas & nefas, &c By right and wrong, unhappy men, who runne to the Pastorall Chaire and observe not that it is to them a Chaire of Pestilence.
As for the idlenesse of men in the ministry, may we not justly take up the complaint of the Prophet, They have eaten the fat, cloathed themselves with the wooll, but they have not fed the Lord his flock: May wee not say, as sometime a Canon of Christ- Church, in the beginning of Queen Elizabeth her raigne, when men were backward in preaching, spake by a prosopopeia to the Pulpit; Oh good Pulpit how hast thou offended the Canons of Christ-Church, if thou wert an ambling Palfrey, they would ride on thee, if a Table well furnish’d, they would feed on thee, if a bed of down, they would sleep on thee, if a goodly garment, they would weare thee, alas good Pulpit, what hast thou done that none of them will preach in thee. Might wee not well compare sundry of our Clergy-men to Lepidus in the Orator, who when he lay tumbling in the green grasse, cryed out, Utinam hoc esset laborare, I would this were to labour; This is the humour of many of them, who when they doe swagger, haunt Taverns, play the Epicures, even then they say, Utinam esses pascere gregem: I would this were to feed the Lord his flock; had not those need be men made all of zeale, that shall encounter with men on whom not only these vices have deeply seized, but they are armed armed with wit and parts to plead for themselves.
The third particular that puts a difficulty upon the work of this present Reformation above former: Heretofore the Reformers have had to deale with the grosse thick cloud of Popery, the Duncery of the Monks and Fryars, with such palpable corruptions, as many of them were discernable by a common light; But now the work lies with men, many of whom retaine the same fundamentalls with us, are come out of Babylon in respect of the foggy part of it, yet retaine many of the dregges of it which may in time prove pernicious and help to carry us back againe into Egypt; These, many of them, are learned Gamaliels, men renowned for worth and parts, whom for my own part, I love and honour; but yet in such things wherein God hath hidden from them what hee hath revealed to others, I say, as once Augustine said of his friend, Ille hoc non vidit, ut aliquid amplius videret; It is possible that the Lord hath revealed greater things to them, given them a clearer light in many of the greatest mysteries of Religion: Here is the zeale of Reformers, that they may refuse to swallow any thing that is unsound, because it is offered as countenanded with Authority of men famous for their learning and esteeme in the Churches; zeale knows no respect of persons in doing her work.
The fourth particular that makes the work difficult is Demetrius and his whole traine that follow him, who cry out, Sirs, you know that by this craft we have gotten our wealth, I meane our Chancellors, Commissaries, Officials, Registers, Proctors, and these, what mighty piles of wealth, what large and rich estates have they heaped together. These have been as those canker-wormes and cater-pillers, who have eaten up almost all the green things of the Land, they have formerly pickt our purses, scratched our faces, vexed our spirits, hurried us from Court to Court, and all this hath been practised under a pretence of Reformation: But what have they indeed done by all their specious visitations, have they been any other to us then like the Juglers Feast, who on a time invited his friends to a solemn Banquet, whereunto they came in great expectation to have their bellies filled, a Table was richly furnished with all variety of Cates, they all set about it, but when they put forth their hands, they brought back nothing but aire, rose and departed as hungry as they came; so hath it been with us in our most solemn visitations: Or may wee as m Gerson did sometimes compare the Visitours of this kinde to the Cat, which being by the good Housewife, put in the Dairy-House to save the Cheese from the Mise and Ratts, doth more harme then they all. Yea, where the greatest pretence of good was held out, what have all our Visitours and Reformers done more then the Popes Cardinals, whom hee sent out in Luthers time to blinde the world with a pretence of Reformation? as they, so ours, may well be compared to the Foxes taile which raises the dust, but carries none away.
The fifth difficulty is a potent Army of Nonresidents, whose glory hath been a Polygamy of Benefices. An evill which we may well wonder at, that Gospel light being so farre advanced as it is, learned and modest men should not be ashamed of it, when as the most learned Divines in the Councell of Trent did generally protest against it, as appeares by their severall Tractates. I might urge these men with variety of Scriptures, with arguments of divers kinds; but I referre the Reader to Caranza his Tractat, de non residentia, who speaks so fully in this argument, as if his book were translated into English, he would be deemed a Puritan that wrote it. i will only use one argument, which I thus propound; Every command of a duty does necessarily imply all the necessary wayes and means whereby the duty is to be effected, else the Lord should contradict himselfe, if hee should command a duty and dispence with that without which it cannot be peformed. But residence in or neare the place where the duty is to be done, is evident by the light of nature.
Who ever made question, whether the Porter, to whom the care of opening and shutting the doore is committed, should reside at the doore: or whether he that governes the ship should sit at the Helme; or whether Watchmen are not to attend upon the Tower over which they are set as Watchmen? This is Bellarmin his owne argument which upon occasion he makes use of. And whereas men are apt to plead the discharge of their duty ordinarily by another, the unlawfulnesse thereof I thus evince.
1. For that the Lord himselfe quarrels with such deputies as were uncircumcised in heart, but that is but an aggravation; but with deputies as deputies. You have set others to take the charge of my Sanctuary, and have not your selves kept the charge of my holy things. So doe our Non-residents lay the Ark, as Uzza and his fellows did, upon the Cart, when they should have carried it on their shoulders.
2. If deputies would ordinarily serve the turne, why then does the Apostle cry out, Who is sufficient for these things?
3. Such as are chosen to the work of the Ministry, are chosen for their speciall gifts, not for that they can chose others.
4. No man to whom a trust, with respect to his fidelity is committed, may devolve his trust to another, unlesse it be so expressed in his Grant; a ruled case among the Civilians: But no such liberty lgranted by Christ.
5. Why should Christ admit of that in those to whom hee commends the care of soules, that no master of a family will admit in any of his servants, that when he hath hired them at such a rate to do his work, they shall ordinarily serve him by those whom they hired at a lower rate.
But may it not make Non-residents blush (if they have so much modesty as my hope is some have) if they look upon it, first, in the originall of it: secondly, in the indirect shifts whereby it was upheld in the Councell of Trent: thirdly, in the expressions concerning it, as they have beene uttered by Friars, Cardinalls, and Popes themselves.
For the originall of it, among many other grounds not now to be insisted upon; was it not at first brought in to maintaine the Pope his magnificence, who having gotten large territories to himselfe, when he would advance himselfe above all the Western Monarchs, saw it necessary (that he might not be as an owle among the birds) to make great his Cardinalls by a worldly pomp. This that he might effect, he challenges to himselfe, as the priviledge of Peter, the collation of all Ecclesiasticall Dignities: and to the end he might enrich his Cardinalls, and make them Princes fellowes, he gave dispensations to severall men to hold ducenta, trecenta, quadringinta, & quinginta Beneficia &c. This made a great accession to his Greatnesse, when those of his Conclave were able to maintaine such a State.
Secondly, for the carriage of the cause in the Councell of Trent, know wee must, that the severall Popes who lived in the time of the Councell, gave it in speciall charge to their Legates, That among other things, to be reformed in the Court of Rome, they should be sure that Non-residence should suffer no dammage; and accordingly when that businesse came in question, the Legates found out a diversion at least six severall times. And in the issue, when Spanish Divines did presse the cause so farre, as it could not be avoided, but a Canon must be made against it; the Pope creates forty titular Bishops, sends them to the Councell, and by that meanes was the cause carried so, that although a Canon was made against it, yet with such Proviso’s, as makes it to be of no effect.
Thirdly, for the expressions of the Popish party, one saith, Since Christs ascension, no greater evill in the Church then plurality of Benefices. “Another saith, That but that it is supposed they have the Churches absolution at their death, they ought not to have the Benefit of Christian Buriall.” Another calls the distinction of Residence and Non-residence, a distinction never enough to be detested.” Another sayes, that antiently men were admonished to be resident, but it never came under dispute. ” One of the former counts the justification of this evill to be a choaking of the light of nature, a shutting of our eyes in Lute meridians. We read of two Popes Clement the fifth, and Gregory the eleventh, who being visited by the hand of God, did, out of the sense of their sinne, make void all their dispensations for Non-residents. What a measure of zeale is required to performe them, whom all this shames not.
The sixth difficulty that will exercise a Reformers zeale, is the multitude adhering to their old customes, idolizing their formalities. We may see the Genius of the people in this regard in those, Jerem. 44. What thou hast spoken to us in the name of the Lord we will not doe, but we will doe so and so; in Micah, who when the Danites had taken away his idols, he makes after them with hue and cry; they demanding, what ailes the man? he makes this reply, Have you taken away my gods, and doe you ask me what I aile? You see the prevalency of old customes in the people called Hircani, who when their King went about to alter a Heathenish Custome of casting their dead to Mastives in stead of Buriall, he had like to have lost both his life and Crown: This impatience of the people to have any thing altered, the Papists will shame us; for who in the times of Paulus tertius, and Pius quintus, though they professe infallibility in their way, yet have they yeelded to have their Breviaries twice changed.
And thus you have the second Reason, why Zeale is of great use.
A third convincing Reason of the necessity of zeal, is,
The destructive nature of those evills, which is Reformation remove not, will be the ruine of Kingdoms. As the wickednesse of Ministers: when the Lord calls for all the beasts of the field to devoure and spoile Jerusalem, the fore-runner thereof was the wickednesse and idlenesse of the Priests, Doth not wickednesse goe from them into all the land? Thy watchmen are blind, they are all dumbe dogs, they cannot bark: they are greedy dogs, they all look to their owne way, everyone is for his gaine from his quarter. So when Jeremiah mentions the cause of Jerusalems destruction, he inserts this, Thy Prophets have looked out for thee vaine and foolish things They have not discovered thine iniquity, to turne away thy captivity, &c. So in the tenth Century, which was most barren of all good writers, and fruitfull in all manner of wickednesse, wherein the Pope got up on horseback, What saith a good writer of the Clergy at that time, What do we Ministers who are so much the more inferior to others in holinesse of life, as we are more eloquent in words, who stirring up others fall asleep our selves; holding out light to others, are so much the more darkned in our selves. So when did Antichristianisme and Mahometisme grow to their full maturity, An. Dom. 1300. was it not then when the Prelates became Idoll shepherds, when the Pastors became wolves, and the Angels of the Churches, Devills? Was not the wickednesse of the Priests a principall in-let of the Saxons to expell the Brittains out of this land? Brittany, saith a good Author, hath Priests, but foolish ones, they understand not; Pastors as they are called, but indeed wolves, ready to slay the soues of the people, not seeking the good of the people, but the fullnesse of their owne bellies &c. So for matter of Doctrine, when the Saxons invaded this land, the Pelagian heresie had with a filthy contagion defiled the Brittaines faith. Should not zeale bestirre it selfe, when such evills as these overspread a State.
The second Head to be considered, is what influence zeale ought to have into Reformers.
First, Zeale will and must doe her work throughly: It is Gods work, men must not halve it, there is danger least corruptions grow againe, unlesse pull’d up by the roots: Experience hath taught what sad persecutions, a partiall reformation hath made way for: What hope doth such an imperfect proceeding give to the enemies, that wee come on to them againe.
Seconly, Zeal must and will summon all the powers of soul and body, and all that we can prevaile withall, to further the work: God delights in men of activity, he cares not for the dull Asse to be offered in Sacrifice, the neck of it was to be broken: It was earnest Baruch that had the prayse above the rest: The twelve Tribes did serve God, What should wee be earnest for, if not for God and his cause? Wilt thou be earnest for thy friend, thy profit, thy pleasures, and cold for thy God?
Thirdly, Zeale after she is convinced of the justice of the cause, over-looks all dangers though never so great. So Caleb, when hee heard of the difficulties, resolves, Let us goe up at once: So Esther, If I perish, I perish: So Saint Paul, what doe you, weeping and breaking my heart? It also treads under foot all allurements, all hope of great things; God doth now as good as say, That which I have planted, I will pluck up, and seekst thou great things for thy selfe? Is it now a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and Oliveyards, and Vineyards, and sheep and oxen?
Fourthly, Zeale helps a Reformer against the tentation of being alone; This prevailes much, especially where the devill and our carnall friends catch us at an advantage, and amplifie the discouragement: How have the mighty been here overthrown? Zeal takes notice, for the support of her selfe, of Joshua his resolution, Chuse yee whom yee will, but I and my house will serve the Lord: So of Elias his complaint, that he was left alone: So of Paul, At my first answering no man assisted me: Zeale takes notice that numbers begin in one, and had there not beene one first, there had never been two.
Fiftly, Zeale commands perseverance, and holding out in the work: Many begin in the spirit, but end in the flesh; how many brave worthies that blossom’d faire, come on as promising great things, yet have split them upon the rock of an unsound heart, withered away, if not in the end proved false to God and their Countrey; worthy Patriots for a time, but their hearts failing them, they prove, such as relinquish their station. In Christianis non initia sed fines laudantur; He only receives the Crown that overcomes. That heat in a Reformer that is from heaven will hold out, not that which is meerely adventitious, set on work from outward causes.
The third Head, how zeale must bee qualified.
1. It must bee founded in knowledge, the understanding is the eye of the soule: As mettall is dangerous in a blind horse, so zeale when not directed by a judgment well informed; zeale, as fire, must have light as well as heat. It is Hell where is is heat and no light but utter darknesse.
The minde, and so zeale, cannot be good without knowledge: The Jewes zeale, defective in that, not according to knowledge: This zeale must not be conjecturall, probably seeming, such only as wee have received from others without examination. Nothing more ordinary then plentifull allegations of Scripture to carry a cause; it matters not how specious and frequent quotations of Scripture there bee, as what they prove upon sound tryall: You whom God hath betrusted with this work take not all for gold that glitters.
2 It must be ordered with wisdome, zeale must be wary, as well as warme: Fire is good, but in a wise mans hands, that will not put it into the thatch; fire is good in the Chimney, but if it catch the rafters of the house it sets all on fire: Sapientis est videre, non quid debeas salum, sed quid possis: In the encounter with vice to bee Reformed, wisedome will not have a Reformer to set upon the Reforming, Quando necesse id, ut sit impar vitio, that will but enrage vice more: Many mischiefes men that meane well are subject to even their good endeavours, but wisdome is profitable to direct. Beware here of that overwary discretion that destroyes zeale.
3 It must bee tempered with love, zeale is apt to bee harsh, but love lines the yoak and makes it easie to be borne: sit zelus, said my Author, but non immoderate sieviens, &c. Love takes us off from all bitternesse to mens persons; Dilige & dic quod voles, love and say what you will: Love allowes us to be warme, sharp, home in our reproofes, but not scalding hot: The stomack admits not that which burnes the lips, nor the eare that reproofe that is contumelious: Love calls upon us as to bee zealous for the truth, so to make it our work to endeavour to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephes.4.3. What should rend and divide us one from another, whom the Lord hath united with so many bonds, as to meet in one God, one Christ, one Spirit, one Faith, one Baptisme, one Heaven?
Farre be it from us, on whom the Apostle hath laid so many charges; if any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies fulfill my joy, that ye be of one accord and one mind. Doe not our Adversaries studdy to make rents among us, shall we gratifie them, weaken our selves? Doe not they cry out that if they can but divide us they shall conquer us? It is memorable what is reported of Julian, that hee did nourish dissentions among Christians, ut non timeret postea unanimem plebem.
If zeale bee so requisite in him that God calls to bee a Reformer, then we must give diligence that our zeale may be of the right stamp: As every grace so zeale may and often hath its counterfeit, as
First, if it want a true light, There be false lights that mislead men over bogges and dangerous places; we are exceeding apt to be misled when prejudiced by mens persons, their learning, or holinesse, antiquity, or novelty, as if we were necessarily to receive a thing because ancient, or to reject it because new, by a hasty engaging of our judgments before we be able to judge, and an unwillingnesse to retract when we have judged by an undue enquiry, when we rather seek that things may be lawfull, then whether they be lawfull or not, when transported by selfe conceitednesse of our owne opinion; it is onely the eye-salve of the Spirit by the Word must guide us, To the Law and to the Testimony.
Secondly, If it suffer not it selfe to be ordered by wisedom; This take in right meanes as conducive to a right end; there is a precipitancy whereby he that hasteth in his matters, sinneth. There is a spirit of deliberation and counsell; consider, consult, then give sentence, then practise. A good cause often miscarries by indiscreet handling, The labour of the foolish wearieth every one of them, because he knoweth not how to goe to the City; Ignorance of the right meanes, tires our men in their endeavours to no purpose.
Thirdly, if it easily fall into wrangling and quarrels: Love, that is and ought to be the orderer of zeale; suffereth long, beareth all things, endureth all things: love knowes that a little breach will quickly bee a great one, It prevents them or speedily makes them up, It gives the water no passage, no not a little; zeale for God, is tenderly respectfull of mens persons; It is wild-fire and not zeale, that casts fire-brands and arrowes, and deadly words, and sayes, I meane no harme, Prov. 26.18, 19.
Fourthly, if zeale bee right, she will not bate ought of what lies under the command of God, no not a hoofe; its false zeale that cryes, neither mine nor thine, but let it bee devided, that makes nothing of small matters: True zeale drives on the work of Reformation so as it leaves not the least remnants of Baal, removes all high places, as considering that great persecutions have been raised upon small matters, and that conscience is a tender thing, as the eye, the least moat troubles it.
Fifthly, if our zeale be only flashy, (like those unnaturall heats that come and goe by flushings) it is not right, wee have many that begin well, are hot and eager while in such a company, while they have such props, while carried on by such hopes, while not assaulted with such tentations, while they thought the cause would goe thus they were eager and hot in the work of Reformation, but as things alter from without, they alter from within, even to the totall remitting of their zeale.
Sixthly, If true zeale, as that which hath the cause of God in the eye, then tract of time, multitude of discouragements, falsenesse of men deserting the cause, strength of oppositions will not tire out a mans spirit: zeale makes men resolute, difficulties are but whetstones to their fortitude, it steeles mens spirits with an undaunted magnanimity.
If zeale be so necessary in a Reformer, the wee are all first to blesse God for that fire of zeale the Lord hath kindled in many of your hearts, (right Honourable and beloved) whereby you have been willing to spend and be spent for the common cause: We may read your zeale in your unwearied paines, in your deniall of your selves in matter of profit and pleasure, in the many hazards you have runne, even of all you are, have, or may expect in the railings and speakings against of men: Have not we cause to be thankfull for that zeale of yours whereby you have taken off unsufferable burthens from our backs, for the many snares from which you have for the discovery of and delivery of us from the most dangerous ruining plots, for the many precious Ordinances of Parliament that have issued out for the common good? Have not many unworthy scandalous and soule-starving Ministers been displaced, and good ones placed in their roome? Hath not the Lords day been restored to its pristine sanctification and (by burning the book of Sports, with other Commands for the better sanctifying of the day) been vindicated from all those former unsufferable profanations? How have superstitious monuments been defaced, secret Idolatries suppressed, Seducers of the people been banished the Land; For all these, and many more, everlasting honour shall be upon the head of you our Reformers, Goe on and prosper (You Noble Parliament Worthies) doe worthily in our Ephrata, and be famous in our Bethlehem, so shall the Lord make your names as a savoury ointment, crowne you with his best blessings, make your Families flourish when you are dead and gone, remember you according to all the good you have done for Gods cause: But above all, that you have found out a way in these distracted times (wherein Religion it selfe, groanes under the wantonnesse of our people, loathing the Manna, and hunting after Novelties, under the uncouth and irreligious opinions crept in among us, under the bitter divisions that overspread City and Countrey) to call an Assembly of able and Worthy Divines, with whom you might advise for the settling of Doctrine, Worship, and Discipline. (Oh that this work had been sooner in hand) Not only have you found such a way, but you have embodied many worthies from among your selves with us: Have not we a a double benefit hereby; first, you by this your association, put honour upon us who should without you in the eyes of many carnall men have been very despicable; secondly, by this happy conjunction, you both help to order us who are ignorant of the nature of such meetings, and withall by a seasonable interposall may stay divisions among us. Only wee have a double suit to you.
1 That you would not suffer the work to be either spun out beyond what is meet, or yet hastily slubber’d over. Not the first, for that the enemy is sowing tares, and much harme may be done, while we are consulting; Error may enter so deeply, that they may prove incurable. Nor yet let it be done negligently: first, for that it is the Lords work, to the negligent doing whereof belongs a curse: secondly, in that it is to us of neare concernment, all our wealth goes in this bottom: thirdly, for that many eyes are upon us from abroad, both of friends who will praise God for what we doe well, and of foes who watch for our halting.
2 Our second suit to you is, that when the Lawes of Christ, for the due administration of his ordinances, shall be discovered, you would be pleased to account it your greatest honour to submit to them. Christs government is the only liberty, thraldome to your lusts is the only true bondage; If you honour God, he will honour you. It is his Gospel that hath clothed you with scarlet, put ornaments of gold upon you, put every precious stone in your garments. Be not jealous, as if Christs government would eclypse your greatnesse. Christs rule and your honours are not incompatible, the Lord Jesus tells us his Kingdom is not of this world, he commands that Cesar have his right. It is the style of the Spirit of God that calls you dignities (with respect to which the Schoole allowes that outward Pomp which Magistracy is honoured with;) and the same Spirit mentions the pomp of Agrippa, when hee came to sit in Judgement, without dislike, Acts 25.23.
Secondly, as it sets out the unspeakable good of a zealous Reformer, and what a blessing such a one is, so it points out to us what that is, which of all other doth most unbeseeme a Reformer, viz. the want of Zeale, which will render such whom God hath called to this office, most odious to him, most abominable to men; ages present will count themselves unfortunate in such, ages to come will curse such, the opportunities which God afforded them, and which they for want of zeale have squandered away, will rise up in judgement against them. What might such have done, if a spirit of zeal had eaten up their spirits, they might have saved the Churches at home and abroad, given Antichrist that blow that should have thrown him as a mill-stone into the middle of the sea, delivered liberties, lawes, and inheritances to posterity, saved City, Countrey, the lives of millions of men, they might have finished the work they began, all succeeding ages might have blessed God for them, their owne works have praised them in the gate. Now if zeale be wanting, they will undoe all the Churches of Christ, as much as in them lies; they will uphold tottering Babylon, destroy flourishing England, deliver up their posterity to absolute slavery, make themselves the monuments of shame and ignominy to all that now or shall heare of them. Oh tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Askelon, &c. Must it not needs be so when so necessary a correquisite as zeale is wanting? for what is a Reformer without zeale, but as a body without a soule, a Bee without a sting, salt without savour. Oh then you Noble Senators, who are under God the Chariots and Horse-men of our Israel, what ever you part withall, part not with your zeale, let this be your honour and crown and as diadem upon your head, that yet you be zealous for your Religion, your Countrey, your Lawes, and Liberties: shall you but remit your former zeale, a spirit of lukewarmnesse (which God forbid) seize upon you, sell truth for peace; you will live and die without honour, and render your selves and us the most miserable Nation under heaven.
Let me addresse my selfe to you, Right Reverend and beloved in the Lord.
Behold the Lord hath, by a providence of his, singled us out among our Brethren, for this great worke in hand. Both you and we all are desirous this day to lay our selves low before the Lord, importunately to intreat his assistance, that he would be pleased to magnifie his power in our weaknesse. Hee might have made choyce of many of our Brethren every way as able, if not more able then our selves, but so is his pleasure, and we dare not but be at his dispose. The Lord can worke as well by the Oaten Pipe, as by the Silver Trumpet. Be then exhorted by him who reckons himselfe the meanest of you all, and who in respect of his many infirmities might well have been dispensed withall, be I say exhorted to cloath your selves, out of respect to the worke in hand, with zeale as with a cloak, to fall upon the businesse you are designed to, toto animi impetu, you are called out to contend for the truth that was once given to the Saints, which hath beene sealed with the bloud of Martyrs, hath beene justified by the learned pennes and disputes of all the Worthies of this Kingdome, without interruption, for above this 80. yeeres, but of late, by a cunning, ambitious, and corrupt party, we had almost beene cheated of it, even of that truth which ought to be dearer then our lives.
Blessed be our God who hath given a turne, and made a stop of their proceedings, whose worke was, as to put out the eyes of the people of the land by Ignorance, so to have leavened them with Heterodox Opinions: and were we not indeed gone almost as farre as Rome gates in a declining way? Our worke is a noble work, it is servare depositum, to be Feoffees in trust for that saving truth, that patterne of wholesome words, which hath been derived to us, as from the pure fountaine of Scripture, so also by the Channell of purer Antiquity comes with letters of commendation from the sufferings of Gods choysest servants; such they were whom the world was not worthy of. I beseech you in the bowels of Jesus Christ, we may quit our selves like men, doe our utmost, that we may vindicate the truth of God from all the aspersions of evill- minded men, cleere it from those ambiguities wherewith ungodly men have perplexed it, and doe such further worke, in worship and discipline, as shall by God and man be requited of us. What would our Ancestours, those glorious lights of former times, have given to have had such a price put into their hands, as we unworthy ones at this time have? May we not justly think, that what opportunity we have, is but the effect of the fervent prayers, the many teares, and sad sufferings of our sage and Reverend Predecessors, that are now with the Lord? Are there not already upon us in this worke for which we are assembled, the eyes of our Brethren of the Reformed Churches, as expecting the issue of this businesse? Nay, is not the whole Nation in expectancy of what this meeting will produce? What manner of persons ought we to be, in humbling of our soules before the Lord, crying mightily to him who alone keeps the key of the Cabinet, unlocks the secrets of his will, opens the eyes of our understandings. Can we looke backward, to the many brave excellent-spirited and well-parted men, who have turned some to Justinian, some to Galen, some to Litleton, others betaken themselves to a retired Privacy, which long agoe might have sate in Moses Chaire, had there not stood the fiery blade of corruptions in worship and government to keepe them out? How many silver Trumpets, that might have made sweet melody in Gods house, have beene hanged upon the willow trees, and all because this worke was not done? How many hundreds of worthy, learned, soule-saving Ministers, men excellently fitted for the worke, have beene driven out of our Land? (the Lord lay it not to our charge.) No small affliction to be put upon the disserting of ones native Countrey, and all those Charitates which under God are the life of our life, and further to be cast upon forraigne Countries, those sometimes unwholesome for our English bodies, placed among inhumane people, put upon wildernesses, wilde beasts, savage people, and unknowne necessities, because by reason of our sinnes this worke hath not beene yet effected, they saw no hope of it. Oh the swarmes of godly men that like Noahs Dove, could find no rest for the soales of their feet, being hunted up and down, hurried hither and thither, and wasted with vexatious suits, to their utter undoing, who have been in the end forced, they and their whole families, with heavy hearts, and some with poore estates, to bid farewell to deere England, as never to see it againe? these would have beene content to have lied in a smoaky house, and a meane condition with freedome of conscience, Yea they have beene put upon it to commit themselves rather to the mercilesse rage of the tempestuous Seas; to a long, tedious and irkesome Sea-journey, wherewith they were utterly unacquainted, rather then to endure those sad impositions which were charged upon their consciences: and now the Lord puts it into the hands of you the right Honorable that sit at the stern in point of reformation utterly to remove. What shall I say to those millions of souls, who have perished through the negligence, insufficiency, scandalous and corrupt proceedings of that order of men, which it is to be hoped, if our iniquities doe not hinder, will be rectified by that clericalis disciplina, which learned Bucer did so often call for, in King Edward the 6. dayes.
To this end I once againe doe humbly beseech you, Men, Brethren, and Fathers, that you would take up the practise of such holy duties, as may conduce to this so pious, so necessary a worke.
And first let us all stirre up in our selves the gift of Prayer; let it be frequent, fervent, and full of faith: you know the efficacy of prayer, it sets God on worke, and that with a holy kinde of command, it hath an omnipotency with it, it never went of any arrant and returned empty. Be confident if God do but stirre up our hearts in prayer hee will come in and help us in the worke. What if we be weake? yet he is strong. What if wee want, in our own apprehension, those abilities fit for the work? he can lift us up above our selves, & supply us with helpe. What if we want that quicknesse of understanding, activity of parts we see in others? yet if we can but assist and encourage others, God will accept. Only resolve of this, never any man a successfull reformer without a spirit of prayer. Elias and Luther tell us much. To encourage us, Gods promises stands sure, Ask of me and I will shew thee great and hidden things, which thou knowest not. If thou seekest for wisdome as for silver,&c if thou cryest after knowledge,&c. then shalt thou understand the feare of the Lord, the knowledge of God. We attaine not truth onely by disputing, but by learning from him who onely knowes, said one of the Ancients. And you know who said, that prayer, reading, meditation, tentation, doe compleat a Divine.
Secondly, that God may impart to us that way of sincerity in his worship, that forme of government, which may be most according to his will, (a favour worth the knowing, and which God refuses not to acquaint them with that feare him; but his secret is revealed to such) let our study be to be doers of his wil. If the Glasse by cleane and soyle not the cleane water that is poured into it, we poure in more; if otherwise, we hold our hands: so the Lord doth with us that bee ministers, hee will not poure the sweet water of truth, but into the sanctified heart. If any man, saith the Evangelist, will doe his will, hee shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God or no. Many perplexed disputes, much difference there is among Brethren, whether this be the forme Christ hath left, the distractions are sadly to be lamented: Would wee be able to winde our selves out of these Labyrinths of disputes, see the good and right way God would have us to walke in, take notice of that promise in Ezekiel, If the house of Israel shall be ashamed of their iniquities, and of all that they have done, I will shew them the forme of the house, &c. onely here we must beware, we dare not to offer to Gods people such a forme, as hath not its ground out of plaine places of Scripture, but such onely as are Typicall and Allegoricall. Allegorica Theologia, (unlesse the Lord himselfe make the application) non est argumentativa: It is our errour that oft times we doe afferre sensum ad Scripturam non referre: we are oft times in fancying formes of government, like that Sect of Phylosophers, who having drunke in this principle, that all the world was made of numbers, where ever they went, they thought they saw numbers. If the Lord shall but behold us lothing our selves for our wayes that have not beene good, disallowing our sinnes, personall and nationall, setting our hearts in a right frame, then wil he open our understandings that we may know the Scripture.
Thirdly, that God may so farre delight in us, as to make us Instruments of such a glorious worke as this is, let us take all occasions to dispence the holy truthes of God to his people: the more wee poure out, the more God will poure in; the oyle in the Cruse increased by pouring out; the bread wherewith Christ fed his followers multiplyed in the breaking. ‘Tis true that this duty hath been looked upon of late as that which had neither forme nor beauty. Was it not our shame that even Bellarmine, yea the Councell of Trent it selfe, should stile Preaching, Praecipuum Episcopi officium, the chiefe duty of a Bishop, when we suppressed it, put gaggs in the mouthes of the Preachers, cast all scorne upon it? The Lord bee blessed, who hath in a degree restored it to its pristine dignity, opened the mouthes that were stopped, encouraged the faithfull Preachers. Oh that our sinnes may not mke the shadow of the Dyall to goe back. A maine danger here may be from those that will thrust in upon this worke that are not fit for it, that will be Canales before they be Conchae, Channells to let out before they be vessels to retaine. There is in many an effusion before infusion. Excellently spake that Father who said: We cut not greene wood to build withall, but we first season it, lest it shrinke and deceive us.
Why observe we not, that such are not to be admitted to the Ministery that are Novices*. It was the complaint of Greg. Naz Orat. in Laudem, Basil. That though no man could obtaine the name, no not so much as of a Painter, but he must first have mingled many colours, yet men are easily found fit for the Ministery. As the Poets fained the Giants, we make them Saints one day, and we bid them to be wise and learned men another day, which have learned nothing, nor brought any thing to the Ministery, but onely their Velle. And now my deare brethren, whom I love and honour, give me leave to remember you of the Prophet Ezekiels sad threatning, and Saint Pauls deepe charge. If the Watchman see the sword come, and blow not the Trumpet, and the people bee not warned, their blood will I require at the Watchmans hands. Who, saith one of the Ancients, so stony so iron hearted a man as whom this Scripture would not amaze. And Erasmus sayes of these words, they are rather thunderbolts then words, such thunderbolts which the Judge of all the world will dart against negligent Pastors. Bloud-guilt is a sad sinne, but guilt of soule-bloud is more dreadfull and inexpiable. We may have many sinnes, but beware we adde not this to all the residue. No such remarkable plague fell ever upon any Family, as upon Eli for the wickedness of Hophni and Phinehas, who made people to abhorre the offerings of the Lord. The wickednesse of Eli his house shall not be purged with sacrifice or offering for ever. As for Saint Pauls deep charge upon Timothy, weigh it throughly. I charge thee before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead, in that his appearing and in his Kingdome, preach the word, bee instant in season and out of season. At other times it suffices to urge Gods Name, here the sweet Name of the Lord Jesus, that is honey in the mouth, Musicke in the eare, a joyfull shout in the heart, is pressed; At other times the Name of Jesus Christ suffices, here he sets it on by an argument taken from the glorious and last appearing of Christ, and that to judge the quicke and the dead, which will be a day of terrour, and such a day wherein Christ shall cast it in the teeth of every idle Minister, Perditam non quaevisti, thou hast not sought the sheepe that was lost, redde rationaem villicationis, give an account of thy stewardship. How heavy an account will that be to those to whom the Lord has said, Occupy your talents till I come, when the Lord shall call them to a reckoning, and every one come in and say, Lord here bee the soules thou hast given me; and thou an idle or scandalous Minister, who hast built with one hand and destroyed with another, hast nothing to offer but a poore leane ignorant starved Flock, when others bring in large harvests. How sad will thy account bee. If terrour will not affright us, then let the glorious crowne that abides every faithfull Minister worke upon us, for such there is laid up a Crowne of Righteousnesse, 2 Tim. 4.8. a Crown that withers not, 1 Pet. 5.4. an Euge enter into thy Masters joy, thou hast beene faithfull in a little, I will make thee ruler over many. Shall not they that winne many soules unto God shine as starres forever? Dan. 11.3. Doe not all the contents that are apt to Byas us from our work, fall short of that eternall weight of glory? Why consider wee not, other men have other wayes to goe to heaven, Magistrates if they rule well, rich men if they distribute liberally and give to the poore; private men by diligence in their Calling, but a Minister can goe no way to heaven but by faithfully attending the Lords flocke. Yea, if it coud be so that there should be no reward that abides a zealous faithfull Teacher (which notwithstanding is surely laid up in heaven) yet the very comfort that arises from the diligent doing of our duties, would abundantly recompence all our paines. Ecquod gaudium, ecquod tripudium, &c. Is there any joy, any dance can more cheere up a mans spirit, then the comfort of a soule wonne to Christ? Let other men enjoy their fat and rich preferments, hunt after dignities, be called of men Rabbi; as for us, if we can say, here be the children the Lord hath given us, it suffices. Let others say, who will give us such a Bishopricke, such a Deanry, such a rich Parsonage; a good Minister will say, as the King of Sodome said to Abraham, Give me the persons (so many Converts) take thou the goods to thy selfe. Was ever Caesar more glorious in his Diademe, when he put downe whom he would, and set up whom he pleased when he rode in triumph before whole Armies of Captives, then Saint Paul when he glories how he had spred the Gospel from Jerusalem, and all the circumjacent is Countryes to Illyricum? I have whereof I may glory through Jesus, &c.
And on the contrary, is there any such wounding crosse, is there any such torturing fury that can so torment and eat up the heart, as when an unfaithfull Minister shall seriously and in cold blood weigh what heapes of soules he hath beene a meanes to plunge forever into the infernall Lake? Can his bravery, his luxury, his good companions, his jollity? can the excellency of his parts and learning, his applause in the world priviledge him, when the hand writing shall appeare upon the wall? Surely when a Minister shall lie upon his death-bed, nothing can uphold his drooping spirit, but the testimony of his conscience, that he hath fought a good fight, kept the faith; This alone must be our Paradise.
Finally my Brethren, why consider we not that God hath engraveed our duties upon our names? we are watchmen, shepheards, workemen, builders, the Lords husbandmen, his souldiers, if we slack or forget our duties, we shall forget our names. Nay, our names will be our accusers; the ground of the Lords quarrell against us. That which of old was given in charge to a Roman Consull, Consul es praesta nomen, the same should every one of us enforce upon our selves, Minister verbi es, hoc age, paster es, praesta nomen tuum. I conclude with that of Hierome, Reade what your name is, and be what you are call’d.
And now, beloved, having endeavoured to quicken you and my selfe to the duty of preaching, give mee leave to suggest something concerning the manner that it may be done to the best purpose; the Lord requires not onely that we preach the Word, but so to preach it as that our hearers may bee brought on to the Faith: Paul and Barnabas are said [so] to have taught that multitudes beleeved. If it bee an advantage to a hearer in his work how he hears, is it nos so to a preacher how he preaches? That our Ministery may be successeful;
First, we must preach zealously; that was the honour of John the Baptist; that he was a burning light; of Saint Paul, that with respect to the Idolatry at Athens, his spirit was stirred within him; so of Apollos it is witnessed, that he was fervent in spirit. This Zeale must shew it self by a holy indignation against sinne; It is reported of Saint Chrysostome, that he reproved sinne against God, as if he himselfe had received an injury. It appears also by enlarged desires, that the souls of the bearers may be brought to God; so in S. Paul, Rom. 9.3. I could wish my selfe accursed from Christ, &c. This Zeale in Preacher will put life and quicknesse into their expressions; Men of cold and dead spirits, their words die in their mouthes, and usually beget a coldnesse in their hearers; Zeal is as Rosin to the strings of the musicall Instrument, without which it makes no sound. Only, as the good Huswifes fire on the hearth is enlarged or lessens according as the family occasions, so according to the nature of the Offences, as great or small, should the Preachers Zeale be proportioned.
Secondly, we must preach compassionately; what else is insinuated in those phrases, wherein God is brought in, speaking, as putting on the bowels of a man, and teaching us so to do. It is said of Christ, that he had compassion on the people, for that they were as sheepe without a Shepherd; and ib another place speaking to Hierusalem, how compassionately doth he expresse himselfe, O Jerusalem, Jerusalem. how would I have gathered thee together, as a Hen gathereth her Chickens; no compassion greater than that of a Hen to her Chickens: How did he in the foresight of her miseries approaching, weepe over her, and crie, O that thou hadst known,&c. The high Priest was therefore to be taken from among men, that he might have compassion on them that were ignorant and out of the way. Is there any object in the world that deserves more pitie than a lost Soule, in the snare of the Devill; blessing it selfe as if it were well; when it is poore, blinde, beggarly, and naked, and every houre lyable to an insufferable, an eternall destruction.
Thirdly, We must preach convincingly; First, there must be evidence of reason convincing the understanding of that we would perswade men to. Man is a reasonable creature, not drawne hither and thither by a thunder and lightning of blustering termes, which at the utmost onely startle the affections for a time, but afterwards for want of a convicted judgement, they return to their old temper; This is that which is called, The full assurance of understanding.
2. There is also required a conviction of the conscience, whereby we evidence to men, that they be guilty, convincing them that they are the men: That was it that vexed the Priests, that the Apostle taxed them in particular, as guilty of the blood of Christ, He intends to bring this mans blood upon us: The Jewes that stoned Steven, were cut to the heart, when he charged them in particular as stiffenecked and uncircumcised in heart. Men will endure much so be it you let their sinne alone, or them in the practice of their sins, but if they be apprehensive that your reproofes come home to them, they then are stirred and filled with wrath. When the Preacher is manifest in the conscience of the hearers, then they confesse that God is in him, they crie out, You prophecy evill to us. As the Philosophers say, that all action is by touching, so all doctrine works by particular application; he that delivers himself altogether in generalls, seldome workes upon the people: It is the spreading of the Net (which is done by particular Application) which takes the Fish; Alwayes provided that we must not decipher men by personall circumstances or distinguishing Characters; this will take off the efficacie of our reproof, in that the reproved will question the good affection of the reprover, as not tendring his good name, while does that openly, which should have been done secretly; only, if any mans sinne, or a known circumstance of his sin do discover him, ’tis not the reproer, but the offender does discover himselfe. Sinnes must not be passed over in silence which declare themselves, because men complaine that wee particularize.
Fourthly, We must preach feelingly according to the nature of the Doctrine; we doe so when we preach as sensible in our own hearts of what we would have take impression upon another: The best way to speake to the heart, is to speak from the heart; Saint Paul when he would beget in the Corinthians a godly sorrow of heart, he writes unto them out of much affliction and anxiety of spirit, with many tears. He that will make men sensible of wrath and damnation, or make men apprehensive of the greatnesse of Gods love in Christ, must manifest the like afflictions in himselfe: There are many (saith my Author) clamorous Preachers, who declaiming, or rather thundering against other mens faults, carry a great shew of zeal, and in the meane while are very secure themselves, as if they did onely, per lusu exercere gutiur & latera, sportingly exercise their Throats and Sides: But a godly Pastor must weep himselfe, that he may stirre up compassion in others, and retain more sorrow in himselfe than he seekes to create in others.
Fiftly, When we preach frequently; taking all occasions to dispense the Word; the Apostle calls it, In season, and out of season. The peoples uncapablenesse, their slownesse to beleeve, their aptnesse to be carried away with the torrent of the times, the many wayes whereby the Word may miscarry; all these, besides the iimportant nature of the worke, as tending to bring men from the power of Satan unto God, from hell to heaven, call for our redoubled pains. How constant and assiduous are Merchants, Mariners, Husbandmen, in their attendance on their earthly affairs, which notwithstanding they ordinarily find as they left them? should not we be much more industrious in Soul-work, which we seldom or never return to it but we find it worse than we left it? Of the Lords Watchmen it is said, That they shall not hold their peace all the day nor all the night, Es. 62.6. of Christ it is said, He was daily in the Temple teaching, Lu. 21.37. of the Apostles, That they were daily in the Temple, and from house to house preaching the Gospel, Act. 5.42. The diligence of the Ancients, as Chrysost. Basil, Augustin, the custome of the Church whereof Eusebius reports, ought to be as incitements unto us. If fifteene Masses in a day was not enough for the Popish priests, shall one Sermon suffice us, said learned Hooper. Therefore in the moring sow thy seed, and in the evening let not thy hand cease, thou knowest not whether this or that shall prosper.
Sixthly, We must preach gravely, so as to preserve the honour of that God whose mouth wee are in preaching, of that Christ whose person we represent, of the high nature of the things we treat about. Wee are to to deale with men, and that in the presence of God and his holy Angels, about the recovery of them out of their damnable condition by nature, in setting out of the infinite love of God in Christ, with all the advantages that belong thereto, the soules salvation or destruction to all eternity: How ill doth anything that is ludicrous tending to move laughter me discourses of so high a nature. All our care should bee to preserve the spirits of men in a serious temper, wherein they are fittest to be wrought upon: All laughter in the Churdh is from the Devill saith Chrysostome: Jocular Stories are from this ground to be banished from the Pulpit. A Minister must be an example to the people in all gravity, this gravity must appeare as in our whole conversation, so specially when we stand betwixt God and the people as his Embassadours.
And now having represented to you, my Reverend Brethren, the important and pressing nature of your work, laid before you those generall duties, by which you may be fitted and made successfull in the work, set on those duties by quickning motives; what remaines but that I commend you to God, and the Word of his Grace who alone must enable you for it, and without whom all is done will come to nothing. And for you, our Parliamentarie Worthies, you are (as things stand) under God the breath of our nostrils, the light of our eyes, as a naile fastned (as yet) in a sure place; if you goe on to doe the Lords work with wisdome and courage, God will certainely goe along with you,; if you refuse or withdraw your selves (however our eyes shall be to the Lord, but) in the eye of man wee are but an undone Nation. The God of heaven who hath his way in the Seas, who alone fashions the hearts of the children of men, raise and keep up your spirits, cloath you with Zeale, fit you for all encounters, make way for you through all difficulties: So shall our Religion, our Lawes, and Liberties, be preserved to our selves, and transmitted to posterity; and we have cause to praise God for you so long as the Sunne and the Moone endureth.