A short Dialogue con∣cerning the Plagues infection.
SIR, I make bold to trouble you, and to desire your reso∣lution in a point wherewith I finde the minds of manie ho∣nest men (better acquainted with the Scriptures than I am) much cumbred and perplexed: I cannot be quiet till I be re∣solued; therefore pardon my boldnesse I pray you.
Neighbour, you are very welcome: for I take you to be of that discretion, that you will not (as manie do) trouble your selfe and others with friuolous, or curious questions. And therefore if I were as able as willing, you should not go away vnresolued: Page 2 but you shall haue mine opinion with all faithfulnesse, and then iudge therof in the sobrietie of wisedome. Tell me then: What is the matter?
May it please you: We heare your selfe, and other faithfull Preachers in this Citie, reproue such as (for the cō∣fort of their soules) come to Church, ei∣ther with plague sores, or out of infected houses. As also those, that of charitie vi∣site such as haue the plague, and accom∣panie the diseased of that disease, vnto the graue. In all which duties we thinke (with your fauor) that Preachers should rather incourage then discourage vs. Now because I am vnder your ministe∣rie, and you haue publikely willed vs to resort to you for satisfaction, if we either vnderstand not, or approue not any thing by you deliuered: I am bold to come and craue your satisfaction accor∣dingly.
You do well, & I thank you: for there be too many that runne coun∣ter in a contrarie course. For whereas they should be swift to heare and slow to speake,* they haue heauie eares,* and Page 3 readie tongues to speake euil of things they know not,* and so scandalize (that is,* stumble) themselues and other, in hearing the word,* which is to be heard not as the words of men, but as indéed the word of God. But I pray you tell me, in what sense, and for what rea∣sons haue you obserued me and other Preachers to reproue the offendors you speake of?
Truely Sir, sith you put me to it, I must acknowledge mine infirmitie: for assoone as I heare you or other begin to checke Pietie and Charitie, (so see∣ming to me) I am presently so troubled, that I cannot vnderstand, much lesse rightly remember, what hath bene deli∣uered.
If it be so with you, who professe the obedience of faith, how is it with the rude multitude, whose ima∣ginations are in no good sort brought into captiuitie to the obedience of Christ? But we sée the words of Christ fulfilled:* That we do not vnderstand his talke, because we cannot heare his word. Me thinkes, professors should Page 4 attribute so much to their teachers, yea such as they acknowledge to be faith∣full, as to heare with the Athenians,* and to examine with the Bereans. For doth the law of God iudge a man,* be∣fore it heare him? But truely ye pre∣sume too farre in censuring your tea∣chers, as those that checke Pietie and Charitie. What? Is this Pietie, with an high hand to breake godly Orders of a gracious Prince set downe for pre∣seruation of life? Is this Charitie, pre∣sumptuously to hazard the liues, God knoweth of how many? Is this either Pietie or Charitie, wilfully to runne our selues into mortall daunger?
I am enforced of conscience to confesse it to be a fault, that we haue pre∣sumed to censure our teachers, and that so seuerely, before we well vnderstood and humbly examined their doctrine: for by our deed we speake that in Gods eares, which irreligious people, by word vttered to Ieremiah his face,* viz. The word that thou hast spoken vnto vs in the name of the Lord, we wil not heare it of thee; but we will do whatsoeuer goeth out of our Page 5 owne mouth. But pardon me, and let me now with your patience intreate you to proue, not by mans pollicie, but by Gods word (according to your profession) that Princes may inhibit, or forbid the works of Pietie and Charitie.
Neighbour, you still begge the question, which is the common fal∣lacie of the common sort, who dote v∣pon whatsoeuer commeth out of their owne mouth, as you said. For it is in question, whether the workes you cō∣mend, be the workes of Pietie & Cha∣ritie or no. But I will shew you by the word of God, that Princes both may and ought keepe from assemblies, such as be no lesse daungerous to them, thā one scabbed shéepe is to an whole flock, and restraine the whole and sound frō vnnecessarie running into eminent daunger. This I will do vpon conditi∣on, that you will then shew me, what reasons you haue to doubt of so cléere a truth, or obiect against any thing I haue said, or shall say, that I may ei∣ther satisfie you, or reforme mine own iudgement.
If I do not so, my second error will be worse than the former: for then I should be like them that pretended with protestation to be informed by Ieremiah,* but yet obeyed not his voyce, when it was against their mind: for the truth is, the longer we talke, the more I remem∣ber what is muttered by the common, and what obiected by the better sort.
Vpon this condition I pro∣céed, yet so, as not intending any large discourse: for I néede not, speaking to a professour; and I would you should haue time enough to propound al your doubts. In one word therefore consi∣der well this argument:* Kings and Quéenes ought to be nurcing fathers and nurcing mothers to the Church, so as that Gods people may leade a quiet and a peaceable life, in all godlinesse and honestie. But this is an honest thing before God and men, that Kings should (out of a fatherly care) preserue their subiects from destruction, by infe∣ction, as wel as by the sword.* As Dauid was no lesse carefull for his people, when the Pestilence raged, than vali∣ant Page 7 in defending them against their e∣nemies. Againe, what other thing do sundrie lawes and customes of Israel teach vs?* Priests were forbidden to drinke wine or strong drinke, that they might put difference betwéene the cleane and vncleane:* that euery leaper and euery one that had an issue, and whosoeuer is defiled by the dead, shold be put out of the host: that garments and houses defiled by leprosie,* should be destroyed:* that euery one to do the worke of nature, should go out of the hoast:* and that the dead were buried out of the citie.* What (I say) do these lawes and customes (well considered) teach vs in their equity, but that Gods people should be carefully preserued from filthinesse and contagion? Let vs a litle better consider the lawes of Le∣pers, as most nearely concerning vs, and we shall find that they were not onely to haue markes to be known by, but also to giue warning to companie approching,* by saying: I am vncleane, I am vncleane. Whereby it is euident, that Lepers should shunne other, and Page 8 other should shun them. And it is as e∣uident, that they were not to come into the house of God.* For a King being a Leper, was kept out thereof all the dayes of his life. Much more may Mo∣ses (a Magistrate) shut Miriam (though his sister) out of the hoast for 7.* dayes. But the plague is more daungerously contagious being mortall,* then the Le∣prosie which is not mortall: therefore Princes and Magistrates (which are called sheapheards) may and ought to be very carefull, to kéepe the sound frō the infected, and the infected from the sound, especially in assemblies. As the sheapheard is carefull to keepe scabbed shéepe from his flocke, and his flocke from scabbed shéepe. Let this suffice for this time: let me now heare your doubts.
As king Agrippa said vnto Paul: Almost thou perswadest me to become a Christian,* so I may say, you haue almost chaunged my mind. But yet for my pro∣mise sake, and for further resolution, I will propound certaine doubts: and will first begin with that which I know doth Page 9 most trouble most men, especially of the poorer sort. To wit, they thinke it most extreame crueltie, to be barred from go∣ing abroad to seeke reliefe or mainte∣nance for them and theirs, except they either had sufficient of their owne, or their wants were supplied.
I am of the same mind: for Lepers might go abroad to séeke re∣liefe:* but yet in such sort, as hath bene shewed. And so I could wish that our infected poore, sith they must néeds go a∣broad, wold remēber ye 10. Lepers, how they stood afar off, & lift vp their voyce, when they craued helpe of our Sauior: so they would go abroad in such sort as authoritie directeth: to wit, out of the most frequented way, and with a rod in their hand. I say with griefe (must needes) for if authoritie had regarded these things betimes, when there were but few infected houses, they might haue bene well shut vp and prouided for, till they were cleansed, either of their owne, or the common charges. But what say you to those, who are not so poore, but that they may kéepe Page 10 their houses at their owne charges, till they be cleansed?
They thinke it an hell to be so long shut vp from companie and their businesse: the neglecting whereof is the decay of their state.
Indéed this impatiencie is the cause why so many smother the plague in themselues and their fami∣lies, so long as they can to the hazar∣ding of life: but I aduise them to consi∣der the resolution of Paul, which was, neuer to cate flesh rather then he would offend his brother:* much more ought they patiently to endure a litle re∣straint and losse, rather then to indan∣ger the life of many.* O bloud is a grie∣uous and crying sinne!* and therefore Dauid would not drinke the water of the well of Beth-lehem though he lon∣ged for it,* because it was gotten with the ieopardy of liues, but called it blood. Let them beléeue that God is able to giue them more then they loose by fol∣lowing his direction.* Let them know what this is: I will haue mercie, and not sacrifice.* Let them shew their faith by Page 11 patience. For he that beléeueth, maketh no hast,* being assured of Gods promise: that in quietnes and confidence shall be their strength. Let them imitate Moses and Aaron,* who were as hastie in behalf of their sister Miriam, but yet were per∣swaded by God to shut her out of the host seuen dayes. Thus much for these goers abroad. But what say you now for those that come to Church, in whose behalfe you séemed much affected at the first.
I was indeed affected as I see∣med: but that which you haue said to go∣ers abroade, belonging for the most part to commers to Church, hath stopped my mouth: and the rather because I remem∣ber the King, who was kept from the Temple,* whiles he liued, for the Lepro∣sie. Why then (thinke I) should not the infected with the Plague be content to forbeare for a while, sith in the Plague they vsually mend or end in short time?
God be praised, for now you vnderstand and remember well, I haue therefore the lesse to say: only this, tou∣ching the comfort of soule, which they Page 12 desire by comming to Church. I pray them examine what true comfort they can haue, when they consider that they are more dangerous than they who go abroad. For in the Church they sit by it, and that in a throng and heat: whereas if they humble themselues vnder Gods hand, and tarie at home, though taking it as a part of their crosse that they kéep so long from the Church; I doubt not but that they shall find God (who tur∣neth his childrens bed in time of sick∣nesse) as a sanctuary to them.* And this I further say,* that he rather is in the as∣sembly of saints,* who is there in spirit, though absent in body;* then he that is present in body, but absent in spirit.
All this (as I vnderstand) con∣cernes such as being infected themselues, do yet come to Church. But what say you to those who haue spacious houses, so as they come not neere the sicke of their fa∣mily, and be sound themselues: may not they come to Church as well as those, be∣tweene whom and the infected there is but a wall?
They may, as I am perswa∣ded. Page 13 But all things are not expedient which are lawfull.* For many too foolish∣ly fearefull (another extremitie of this time, as generall and daungerous, as Presumption) knowing their houses to be infected, wil verily suppose that they haue béene about the sicke, and that the plague is in their garments; and there∣fore if it fal out so that they sit together, their fearefull conceipt may bréede the Plague.
O sir, are you of that mind, that the Plague may be in a garment, and the partie not sicke; and that one may take the Plague onely with feare, and do you beare with such a conceipt?
No, I do not. But I déeme them guiltie of their owne bane, who take it with such a conceipt. And yet I thinke euery charitable Christian will grieue at the heart, that he should be the occasion of such a fright, and could wish that he had rather béen from the church a moneth, especially being in some sort Gods prisoner, and the affrighted ha∣uing likelyhoods that either he or his garment might be infected. That a gar∣ment Page 14 may be infected, and the Plague taken onely by feare, experience and reason do make manifest. Concerning the former, it hath béene proued that clothes of infected persons layed vp and not well ayred, being opened though a yéere or more after, haue instantly re∣newed ye Plague. Againe, we perceiue by the smell that garments wil retaine the sent of Wormewood or muske for a long time: the cause is not in the sent by it selfe considered, but in the ayre which is the subiect of the sent. The plague in a garment is a poysoned aire (being according to the nature thereof called by the learned the Death of the ayre) procéeding from the partie infe∣cted, and infecting the garment, though not perceiued by smell: as the open, cléere and wholesome ayre of the hea∣uens is healthfull for the body, though not perceiued by smell.* Lastly, leprosie infecteth garments: and he that sléepeth or eateth in an house, shut vp for lepro∣sie, must wash his clothes: which argu∣eth that infection may be by the ayre, sith a man may eate in the house, and Page 15 not touch the walles infected. If Lepro∣sie be so contagious, much more the Plague, which is a stronger poyson, be∣cause it infecteth and killeth.
This is more then euer I heard and considered, and I think it reasonable: but I cannot conceiue how the garment can be infected, and yet the person that weareth it escape the Plague.
I will shew you that in a word. Do you not consider that either the infection may be but weake, or the party of a strong and healthfull consti∣tution. Cinders will not set fuell on fire so soone as burning coles: neither will gréene wood be so soone kindled as chips and drie deale-boord.
I now see and in some sort as∣sent to your opinion: proceed therefore I pray you to giue reasons why by onely feare a man may be infected with the Plague.
The spirit of a man will sustaine his infirmities:*but a wounded spirit, who can beare it? saith Salomon. By spirit here is meant a comfortable heart, which a∣nimateth a man in all troubles: but if Page 16 that fayle, hée is soone ouerthrowne. From the heart procéed (as Phisitions say) vitall spirits, whereby man is made actiue and couragious. If they by feare be inforced to retire inward, the outward parts be left infirme: as may appeare by the palenesse and trembling of one in great feare, so that as ene∣mies easily scale the walles of a towne abandoned by souldiers: so the Plague (especially in a season disposed to infe∣ction) doth find readie passage into the outward parts of a man, destitute by feare of the vitall spirits which should correct ye same.* Againe, as faith maketh vs partakers of Gods helping hand, so vnbeléefe depriueth vs thereof:* & feare (aduersarie to faith) pulleth to the wic∣ked the euill which he feareth.
By this conference I haue lear∣ned to feare more then I haue done, and yet to take heed of feare: to feare because the plague may be caried about in gar∣ments, and therefore may infect me, kee∣ping company with one that is cōuersant with the infected, I being peraduenture not of so strong a constitutiō as the party. Page 17 To take heede of feare, lest I be guiltie of mine owne bane.
Your collection is good, espe∣cially if you remember the distinction of feare in that sence which I haue of∣ten taught it: to wit, Feare is contrary either to Security,* and so it may be cal∣led Héedfulnesse, or to Faith, and so it is cousin germain to Despaire.* But ho∣ping that now you see our doctrine a∣gainst vnruly and vncharitable going abroad of the infécted, either in person or garments, not to be a checke to Pie∣tie and Charitie, I pray you tell me, what you can say for vnnecessarie and desperate running to the sicke and bu∣ried of the Plague?
What? I tell you (be it with∣out offence) that many maruell (I will not say, cry out) that Preachers, who should be examples of loue and faith in visiting the sick according to their office,* do yet so flatly speake against the ex∣presse words of Christ. For doth not he say:* That we shall be iudged at the last day, according to our workes of charity, and amongst the rest, our visiting, or not Page 18 visiting the sicke?
O neighbour you now lay on loade! I must therefore ease (a litle) the shoulders of Preachers whom you charge heauily, for not visiting the sick of the Plague; before I can nimbly en∣counter your maine obiection. Surely ye Professours, who so vrge this pre∣tended dutie, are farre from the louing care and kindnesse of the Israelites, who would not suffer Dauid to hazard himselfe in battell,* lest if he, being woorth tenne thousand of them, were slaine, and the light of Israel should be put out. Againe, ye forget that Christ said to him that desired to burie his father:*Follow thou me, let the dead bu∣rie their dead. If ye did consider this well, you could not but thinke, that as Paule said,*Christ sent me not to baptize but to preach: so Preachers may say: Christ hath sent vs not to visite the sicke, but to preach, and thereupon cō∣clude; that the lesse dutie (if a dutie) es∣pecially being daungerous, must giue place to the greater, and the visiting of a few sicke and lesse capable of instru∣ction, Page 19 must giue place to the teaching of the whole congregation, and more ca∣pable of doctrine and comfort. Now if they visite euery one that is sicke, how can they attend vnto reading, and fol∣low Christ in the most proper and ne∣cessarie worke of the ministerie?* Last∣ly, I sée not (but herein I humbly sub∣mit mine opinion to the Church) that visiting the sicke is a proper dutie of a Minister, as he is a Minister. For as none can ordaine officers in the Church but Christ,* so none (as I am perswa∣ded) can prescribe duties to those offi∣cers,* but Christ. But I cannot find where Christ prescribeth visiting of the sicke, as a Ministers dutie. If not Christ, why should any surcharge Mi∣nisters, and the rather because they are not (no not the best) sufficient for duties prescribed?* Did not the Apostles pronounce it an vnmeet thing to be hindred from giuing themselues conti∣nually to prayer, and to the ministra∣tion of the word, by ministring to the poore, and therefore put ouer that duty to speciall men? If the Apostles extra∣ordinarily Page 20 assisted, by the Spirit, both with gifts and blessing, cast off an im∣pertinent burthen (yea such an one as is no lesse necessarie then visiting.) A∣las, why should Ministers, who néede all helpes (as much reading, diligent conference, and frequent meditation,) be further charged than they are by Christ? Indéed I confesse that a Mini∣ster ought (as you said) to be an exam∣ple of all good workes,* especially of that as being the fittest man to satisfie the doubtfull conscience, to humble the stubburne heart, and to comfort the wounded spirit.
I neuer heard this matter doubted of before. But (I pray you Sir) doth not Iames say:*Is any sicke among you, let him call for the Elders of the Church? Doth he not vnderstand Ministers by Elders? If so, doth not this place proue plainely, that it is a Ministers dutie to visite the sicke?
I say not but that it is a Ministers dutie to visite the sicke, for example sake: and as he is more able to do good than other, but not as he is Mi∣nister. Page 21 I graunt also, that long since the same doctrine from this place hath bene gathered, which you now apprehend. So as vpon the same, Papistes haue grounded their bastard Sacrament of Extreame vnction.* Which taken away, the cursed people (which know not the law) neither care to know it (being e∣uer addicted to superstitious vanities) must néedes (forsooth) in stead thereof, haue a Minister to visite their sicke, though they be more then halfe dead. As in stead of Dirgies and Trentals, they must haue funerall Sermons for fashion sake. Thus the holy Ministery, and most glorious name of God must be abused and taken in vaine, by fol∣lowing the vaine humour of arrogant Folly, which neuer cared for Mini∣sters, or Sermons (as al ought to haue done) in time of health. I graunt that some Professors (for all this Plague, whereby humours (I trow) should be mortified) haue a mind, that funerall Sermons attend their credit. So strōg a temptation is the Pride of life incou∣raged by Custome. But to come to the Page 20〈1 page duplicate〉Page 21〈1 page duplicate〉Page 22 point: this place of Iames doth not proue, yt it is the proper dutie of a Mi∣nister to visite the sicke. For the Elders were sent for to heale the sicke by pray∣er and oyle, according to that miracu∣lous grace which was then bestowed vpon them,* for confirmation of the Word: so that I am of your mind, that teaching Elders be here vnderstood. Which gift discontinuing, this Canon is annulled: so that in time of Pesti∣lence, it is absurdly concluded: that be∣cause Iames inioyned Ministers to go to heale the sicke, therefore Ministers must vpon euery call aduenture their liues, by visiting the sick of the plague. Againe, if it be the proper dutie of Mi∣nisters to visite the sicke, as it was the proper gift of Elders, for confirmation of the word, to heale with oyle, then none must visite the sicke but Mini∣sters,* as none must minister the Sacra∣ments (which properly belong to their function) but they. Lastly, this word, Elders in the plurall number, putteth me in mind, that Ministers were in the primitiue Church, assisted with Page 23 other Elders,* (for there were two sorts of Elders) who looked to the manners of people, and with Deacons who loo∣ked to the poore, that they themselues might attend their studie, prayer, prea∣ching, and the Sacraments. Why then should we thinke, that visiting the sicke, was laid vpon them as a du∣tie properly pertaining to their mini∣sterie? But rather that Elders by spi∣rituall comfort, and Deacons by out∣ward reliefe visited the sicke as there was néed: so that the Minister was not troubled but in extraordinarie ne∣cessitie. As when none but he could sa∣tisfie the despairefull conscience, or mind doubtfull in a fundamentall er∣rour, of one likely (otherwise) to die out of the faith. In which case, I thinke a Minister ought to hazard his life. My reason is: It is the reueiled will of God that he must saue a lost shéepe:* but it is Gods secret, whether he shall be infe∣cted. And the rather because of the pro∣mise made to him that walketh in his way.* The premises considered tou∣ching ordinarie visitation, thus I con∣clude, Page 24 that as Ministers are exempla∣rily (but not as Ministers) to releeue the poore, according to their abilitie, and where they haue some speciall cal∣ling: so they are exemplarily (but not as Ministers) to visite the sicke, accor∣ding to their leysure, and where they haue some speciall calling.
I know not whether I should be glad or sad, for drawing from you so probable, and (it may be) a profitable discourse: but I will suspend my iudge∣ment, sith you submit your opinion to the censure of the Church, and proceede (with your fauour) to re∣quire the iustifying of that vnchari∣table doctrine (so seeming) against visi∣ting the sicke of the Plague, and so con∣trarie to Christ his iudgement, as hath bene shewed.*
But haue you shewed that the plague is expressed? And haue you neuer heard, that there be few rules so generall, but they admit some exception? By the same iudgement pri∣soners are to be visited, and yet none were bound in conscience to go into the Page 25 dungeon there personally to visit Iere∣my,* though he were the Lords prophet. Againe, you vtterly mistake the point: for the question is not whether the sick of the Plague are to be visited; which God forbid that any Preacher should gainesay: but whether they are to be so visited and with such resort, as other sicke of diseases not contagious. Lastly, in the place so much vrged, Christ doth not necessarily require personall visita∣tion (though that also be comfortable in cases conuenient, and so required accor∣dingly) but real, that is, by reléefe, either brought,* sent or procured: for in the 44. verse of that chapter you may find, Mi∣nistring to Christ vsed, for all other workes of Charitie before specified. Whereby it is manifest, that Christ re∣quireth not so much personall visiting, as charitable ministring to the necessi∣tie of the sick. Of all other, Princes and Magistrates (who are foster-fathers and shepheards) are to visite the sicke. But who will say they are to do it in person, and not rather by a faithfull care, that the sicke of the Plague be wel Page 26 prouided for.
But how can the sicke be wel prouided for, if none do personally attend them? and if none be bound in conscience personally to visite, how shall they be at∣tended?
All this is true. But hus∣bands and wiues, parents and childrē, masters and seruants, neare neighbors and deare friends, are mutually to at∣tend each other: if otherwise conueni∣ent attendance cannot be procured.
Why do you adde this con∣dition?
Because life is precious:* so that we must not destroy the dam with the yong: and therfore séeing the plague swéepeth where it findeth many toge∣ther, life ought to be preserued with as much care as may be, by separating the sound from the infected, except there be necessary cause of the sound, or some of their attendance or repaire. Moreouer, it may be that the sound, or some of thē, be profitable members in the Church, or common wealth: now the more hope there is of good by them, the more care Page 27 there ought to be of their preseruation; according to the peoples care for the safetie of Dauid, before spoken of.
In my conscience this seemes to be very true: but I pray you tel me what you think of them who send their seruants vnto the Pest-house.
Right wel: especially if they want conuenient roome & other means at home: for I vnderstand of the Cities right honorable and christian prouisiō for that house: I know diuers there wel vsed, and thence well returned: and it is extant in print, that when there were buried in and about London 3385. in one wéek, yet of all pestred in that house there were buried but six. And therfore I condemne those that raised a slander vpon that house, holding them as de∣spisers of gouernment,* and wicked ill speakers of them that are in authoritie.
If you conuersed amongst peo∣ple as I do, and must do, I know your spi∣rit would be griued to see how ready they be to lay hold on euery light occasi∣on and false report, to speake their wic∣ked pleasure of Gouernors. O that they Page 28 would consider the example you lately in a Sermon vrged of a plague kindled a∣mongst the Israelites,* for charging Moses and Aaron with killing Corah and his re∣bellious complices. Well, God amend vs all, and giue vs grace to humble our selues vnder this his heauie hand, that we may be raised again and comforted,* according to the dayes he hath afflicted vs. Now I speake of cōfort (that we may go on with the main matter) I wold know (if it might be without offence) whether you would haue those pittifull creatures that are tor∣mēted with the plague, to want the com∣fort, which they may take by the very pre∣sence of their good neighbors & friends, much more by their comfortable words?
O neighbour! I wish them all true comfort of body and mind, the Lord knoweth, and I graunt that the very presence of those we loue, is very comfortable in time of sicknesse: but yet I aduise all visited with that deadly and contagious disease, to manifest their mortification from vnnecessarie desires, & their charitable loue to their friends, by not desiring them to come Page 29 into far greater daunger than their pre∣sence can do good, without necessarie cause.* And let them remember how Dauid refused that water which was gotten with ieopardie of life, and called it bloud, though he had longed for it, & the daunger was past. As for comfor∣table words, I likewise acknowledge their speciall vse: but before I answer that point, let vs consider how needfull it is (especially in time of mortality) to hide in their hearts the word of life, lest wée be iustly punished with want of comfortable words, when we most need them: according to that of Amos,* where a famin of the word is threatned to despisers of the Sabboth, and that at such a time, when to find the word, they would run from the East to the West. Now to the point. Sith all sicknesse (e∣specially the plague, vntill the worst be past, when cōfortable words are not v∣sually in great request) maketh vs vnfit for long & learned discourses, & therfore short sentēces may (through Gods bles∣sing) do much good: whereby attendants & friēds, repairing for necessary causes, Page 30 may sufficiently comfort the afflicted, according to that which is required by the Apostle, in Thess. 4. 18. except there be extraordinary néede of resolution or consolation, whereof I haue spoken be∣fore.* Again, the Spirit of God is called a Comforter, because he bringeth the words of Christ vnto remembrance: and that especially in time of néed, as when we iustifie wisedome before au∣thoritie,* so when we are sick. For when the outward man perisheth,* the inward man is renewed: so that we often heare, not onely men but euen children also, speake diuinely and admirably in their sicknesse. We may the rather make ac∣count of this holy assistance, if we fol∣low Christ his counsel in laying vp his words in our hearts,* and praying for the holy Ghost. All the premises const∣dered, I hope that you are now of my mind, touching the restraint, as of the infected from the sound, so of the sound from the infected.
Indeede I confesse that your probable discourses haue won (I know not how) a certaine inclination to your Page 31 opinion, but yet I must suspend my reso∣lution, till you haue answered certain ob∣iections against the maine grounds of your opinion: but before I come to them, let me haue but one word with you about buriall. I say but one word: for if those that are infected in person or garment, are to keep from Church for a time con∣uenient: and if friends are to forbeare re∣sorting to friends sicke of the Plague, ex∣cept they haue necessary cause, then I may (of my felfe) conclude, that we are not to throng after infected corpses (which haue no good thereby) without some reasona∣ble cause. That one word (I spake of) is this, I would gladly know (if I may ob∣taine that fauour) your iudgement, con∣cerning the direction of authoritie, that but sixe persons, besides the Minister, Clerke and bearers, should accompany infected corpses.
I dare not presume to iudge of the determinations of authoritie without sufficiēt reason, which I want in this case: but rather I am perswaded (according to that I am commaunded by these words, Honor thy father and mo∣ther)*Page 32 to indge the best, and take it as an argument, that authoritie careth more for the liuing then for the dead, their pompe so dangerous in these times and not necessary, as wise men thinke. But mine own opinion is this I could wish ye friends of the diseased would respect the preseruation of life more than com∣plements of buriall. But I vtterly mis∣like that infected persons should thrust into the throng, and it grieueth me to heare how the poorer sort, yea women with yong children, will flocke to buri∣als, and (which is worse) stand (of pur∣pose) ouer open graues, where sundry are buried together, that (forsooth) all the world may see that they feare not the Plague. This peruerse course of too too many, in doing that which authori∣ty forbiddeth, and despising that which authoritie commandeth, to wit, fasting and praier, occasioneth me to obserue a notable proportion betwéene ye plague & the wickednes of this time: by which proportion, God séemeth to teach men to say in their hearts, we would not be ruled, neither by reason nor authority, Page 33 therefore are so many, as it were di∣stracted in their sicknesse, and by no meanes to be ruled: so that some leape out of the windowes, and some runne into ye Thames. As the rough spéeches of Ioseph caused his brethren to say:*As we would not heare Ioseph, so this man will not heare vs. I rather obserue this proportion betwéene the vnrulinesse of our sinne, and the vnrulinesse of this sicknesse, because I find in the Scrip∣tures, that the Plague was especially threatened against, and inflicted vpon wilfull offendors. At your leysure con∣sider these places. Leuit. 26. 23, 24, 25. Num. 14. 37. and 16. 41, 45, 46. 2. Sam. 24. 1, 2, 3, 4, 15. and you will perceiue as much. But now let me heare one of your obiections against the grounds of mine opinion.
The ground whereon you build your opinion, of separating the sound from the infected, is the law of Lepers. Which (vnder your correction) seemeth to be no rocke, but a sand, because that law was meerely ceremoniall.
Nay Sir, my ground is the Page 34 mortall contagion of the Pestilence, which we call the Plague. Indeed I re∣ceiue confirmation from the law of Le∣pers. For thus I reason: If such care is to be had of infection which is not mortall, much more of ye Plagues infe∣ction which is mortall. And this argu∣ment holdeth good, your obiection not∣withstanding. For the lawes of sepa∣rating women in time of their flowers,* and not eating strangled beasts, were ceremoniall: but yet husbands are now to forbeare the act of matrimonie in that time, and all are to take héede how they eate of strangled flesh, and both are to be héeded in naturall consi∣deration of bodily hurt, which is still to be feared, in such copulation and ea∣ting. So Leprosie is still infectiue, as experience sheweth: if now, why not then, notwithstanding the lawe of Le∣pers was ceremoniall? And the rather because in Sacraments and ceremo∣nies, there must be a resemblauce be∣twéene the signe and the thing signifi∣ed: so that, as we obiect against Trans∣substantiation, and say: If the sub∣stance Page 35 of bread and wine be taken a∣way by consecration, how can there be bodily nourishment? if no nourish∣ment, how can our spirituall féeding be resembled? So I say to you, If in the Leprosie there were no infection, how could the contagion of sinne be signi∣fied?
I graunt that in Leprosie there was somewhat to signifie a sinne to be shunned. But that was Pollution, not In∣fection. For vpon occasion of this que∣stion,* I haue read both the Chapters cō∣cerning Leprosie, and find them still mention Vncleanenesse, and neuer Infe∣ction. Againe, if the Leprosie were infe∣ctiue, how chaunced it that the Priestes, who so often viewed the Lepers, were neuer infected?
Do not you consider, that though all vncleanenesse be not infe∣ctiue, yet all infection is vncleane, and therefore you might haue vnderstood Infection as well as any other Pollu∣tion, by the word Vncleanenesse. And though you find not the very word In∣fection, yet you may find enough to Page 36 make it euident, that the Leprosie is infectiue.* For it was not to be pro∣nounced Leprosie, except it were found spreading and fretting as a Canker,* or Gangrene in a mans bodie. And why was the Leper to couer his lips, and to to cry,*I am vncleane, I am vncleane, but to giue warning, that none shold come within the infection of his breath? As for the Priestes escape, that is to be at∣tributed to the prouidence of God, who set him on worke.* As he promised to preserue Ieremy and Paule for that cause.
If my memorie faile me not, I haue heard you say, that the ceassing of Man,* presently after the children of Is∣rael had eaten of the corne of the land of promise, teacheth vs not to depend vpon extraordinarie meanes (viz. Miracles and such like) when we may enioy ordinarie. So I thinke it may be said, we are not to suppose the extraordinarie prouidence of God, in preseruing Priests viewing the Lepers, where we may find an ordi∣narie, to wit, their not touching of Le∣pers, whereby they might be defiled.
How find you that to be the cause? Sith you find not in both your Chapters Touching spoken of.* Where∣as in the next Chapter you find Pollu∣tion communicated by touching and not otherwise in the vncleannesse of a man by fluxe of séed, and of a woman by issue of flowers. Nay in this case of of Leprosie,* a man is become vncleane, by going into an house shut vp for Le∣prosie in the wals, which he néed not to touch, as hath bene said.* So that if you consider your two Chapters well, it may rather appeare to you, that as the infection of the Plague, so of the Leprosie was communicated by the ayre, and not onely by touching. But suppose that Pollution not Infection, were the cause that cleane men should shunne vncleane Lepers, lest they should be defiled, not infected; yet this makes for my purpose. For if. Pollu∣tion be to be shunned, much more In∣fection, and that deadly.
I see I must either depart not fully satisfied, or come to a point which I haue hitherto auoyded, because I wold Page 38 not offend you, whom I haue heard so carnest against it, so as you haue pro∣nounced it to be a bloudie errour, to wit, It is stiffely maintained by no small num∣ber of people, that the Plague is not con∣tagious.
I graunt that mo than a good many do more stiffely than wisely maintaine that bloudie error, so I will call it againe and againe. For most of that many do wilfully maintaine that opinion, because they cannot abide to be Gods prisoners. It is a death to be out of companie, and they had rather indanger a thousand liues, than want any part of their pleasure or profite. As may appeare by the discoured course of many, who hold the Plague to be infectiue, while they and theirs be wel: but when they or theirs be infected; thē (forsooth) the Plague is not infectiue. So their reason followeth and is fra∣med to their will, and not their will followeth reason to be ruled thereby. But me thinkes euery reasonable man should say to his owne soule: O let me be sure mine opinion touching the in∣infection Page 39 of the Plague (whether nega∣tiue or affirmatiue) be vndoubtedly true, lest by maintaining an error, in a case and time of so great mortalitie and vnspeakeable miseries, I do infinite hurt. For if it be true that the Plague is contagious, then of necessitie, he that maintaineth the contrarie, is guil∣tie of the bloud of so many, as are in∣couraged by his opinion to runne into daunger. On the other side, if the Plague be not contagious, then he that maintaineth the contrarie, is guil∣tie of all the wants and miseries of so many as want conuenient reliefe, not ministred for feare of contagion, appre∣hended by the maintenance of his opi∣nion. But neighbour, I wonder that any should deny the Plague to be con∣tagious against so generall and wofull experience. Do not the botches, blains and spots (called Gods tokens) accom∣panied with rauing and death, argue a straunger infection, then that of the Leprosie, to be iudged by botches and spots? Doth not the ordinarie experi∣ence of laying liue Pigeons to plague Page 40 sores, and taking them presently dead away, and that one after another, de∣monstrate mortall infection? In that the Plague rageth and raigneth espe∣cially amongst the younger sort, and such as do not greatly regard cleane and swéete kéeping, and where many are pestred together in alleyes or hou∣ses: is not this an argument of infecti∣on? Thousandes can directly tell, where, when, and of whom they tooke the Plague. Doth not all this make it more then manifest, that the Plague is contagious? All Magistrates, all Diuines, all Phisitians, all learned men, and all wise men, in all ages, haue held the Plague to be contagious. Dare any but blind bayard, be so im∣pudent to deny it, without such rea∣sons, as may sway against so great ex∣perience, and so great authoritie? If you haue any such, I pray you let me heare them.
That I haue any such I cannot say, in regard of the weaknes of myiudg∣ment, as also of the probabilitie (at least) of that I haue heard already spoken to the Page 41 contrary: but such as they be (if it please you) I will bring them out, humbly desi∣ring your answers. The first, is thus vrged with open mouth: This opinion of infecti∣on doeth vtterly ouerthrow charitie to∣wards the visited by the plague, being the cause, why they by whose meanes the sick and sound are especially to be prouided for, do runne away, viz. Magistrates, Mi∣nisters, (such I meane as indeed were ne∣uer faithfull, for (blessed be God) many faithful remaine) Phisitians and rich men: and why so many be thrust out of doores, perish in town and field for want of help, and are so cruelly vsed by country people: so that it is a very countermaund to Christ his iudgement concerning visitation of the sicke.* But by that which hath bin said, and by gathering from the last point we talked of, that the precise commaunde∣ment touching Lepers to be separated from Church and companie, was no hin∣derance to their visitation, but that they were to be ministred vnto, according to their need: I am for my part induced to lay the blame of all this vncharitable dea∣ling vpon the excessiue feare of people, Page 42 occasioned perhaps, but not well groun∣ded vpon the opinion of the Plagues in∣fection: for though the Plague be to be feared, because of the infection, yet (as I take it) not so excessiuely and inordinatly. For of such feare, the cause is want of faith, rather then the opinion of infection; as I may partly gather from that which you deliuered before:* I will therefore pro∣pound an argument (so deemed) which we haue not yet handled.
Stay here a while, for I can not but thanke God that you iudge so rightly betwéene mine opinion, and others feare of infection. If Professors would wisely obserue what is taught, there would not be so many spiders to suck ranke poison out of sound doctrine. Then might we hold the plague in the nature thereof to be contagious, and men would not take occasion before it be giuen, of excessiue and inordinate feare: then might we inuey against ex∣cessiue and inordinate feare, and men would not take occasion before it be gi∣uen, of inordinate and dangerous pre∣sumption: but foolish men (as wise men Page 43 obserue) are euer running into extremi∣ties.* If Paul teach, that we are iustified by faith, without the works of the law; the carnal gospeller taketh occasion be∣fore it be giuen, to neglect good workes. And if Iames teach,* that faith without workes is dead, the arrogant Papist taketh occasion before it be giuen, to ad∣uance good workes to merite and super∣erogation. Mine heart bléedeth to heare of the crueltie and inhumanitie you mentioned: so that if I were in the cun∣trey, I would (by Gods grace) set my selfe against those damnable effects of inordinate feare, and make it euident that the Plague is not so contagious as excessiue feare makes it to be. But now I follow this course (which God blesse) because I liue where the contra∣rie sinne of Presumption is more gene∣rall, and more dangerous; both because of that bloudy errour, as also of the ab∣sence of Magistrates, who should sée good orders put in execution: through which default it is come to passe, that men, women and children with run∣ning sores, go commonly abroade, and Page 44 thrust themselues into company, so that some haue perceiued when they tooke the infection of such. How many may be supposed to haue taken the infection from such, though they perceiued it not? I would be loth to make Magistrates neglecting their charge, guiltie of all this bloud: but (if I were in place) I would humbly and earnestly intreate them, seriously to consider the nine first verses of the 21. of Deuteronomy, where they may learne, how fearefull they (of all other) should be of bloud-guiltines. But leauing them to Gods direction, I pray you propound your argument so déemed.
That I will, and (as neare as I can) in such sort as it is inforced. If the Plague be contagious, why is not one in∣fected as well as another? I haue lyen in bed with many that haue had the plague∣sores running on them, I haue bene still about them, when they swet, their sores brake, and breath went out of their bo∣dies, and yet I (and a great number besides me, who haue done as much) had neuer the plague yet, and trust neuershal, so long Page 45 as I haue a strong faith in God: for is it not written,*Thou shalt not be afraid of the pestilence, for thousands shal fal besides thee, yet it shall not come neare thee; for thou hast said, The Lord is my hope.
This aduenturous argu∣ment standeth vpō two points, viz. first the escaping of some, and secondly their strong faith. Concerning the former, I answer, (in the name of the opponent) Is thine eye euill because God is good?* Wilt thou by thy bloody errour poison other, because God hath glorified his speciall prouidence ouer thée? Is this thy thank∣fulnesse for so great deliuerance, to ob∣scure Gods prouidence by attributing thine escape to this, that the plague is not infectiue? Consider better the very text alleaged for thy strong faith, and you may (if you will) sée clearely, that God doth hereby set forth his proui∣dence, in that he preserueth those that trust in him, and walke in his wayes, by Angels, and then, when by the pesti∣lence, thousands fall about them: for the greater the daunger is, the greater is Gods prouidence in deliuering his Page 46 people: as may further appeare by their walking vpon Lions,* Aspes and Dra∣gons, mentioned in the same Psalme. Therefore take héede how you obscure the prouidence of God, and draw many into daunger by denying the plague to be contagious; lest as he that feared not the day of the Lord,* met with a Beare when he had escaped a Lion: so you méete with a iudgement heauier to you, though you still escape the plague. But neighbour, I will turne my spéech to you, praying you to consider this Psalme wel, and you shall sée me proue from the same the Plague to be conta∣gious. For if an extraordinary proui∣dence of God be manifested in preser∣uing those that beléeue from pestilence, then is the pestilence very dangerous: as be the Lion, Aspe and Dragon, but the former is true, therefore the latter. If then the pestilence be dangerous to one that is in the middest of thousands dying thereof, it must néedes be so by contagion: as may further appeare, in that it is called noisome; and in that it is said,*it shall not come neare thee. But let Page 47 vs trie the strength of the former part of that huge argument, layed downe in this forme. Many haue bene with the sicke of the plague, when they swet, &c. & yet are not infected, therefore it is not contagious. Certaine Priests said to a Philosopher, All these monuments which you sée in this Temple, be in re∣membrance of so many deliuered from shipwracke, by prayer to the God of this Temple. But (quoth the Philoso∣pher) can you shew me how many prayed, and yet perished? As the Philo∣sophers answer was stronger against their God. then the Priests obseruation was for their God: so it maketh much more to proue the plague to be conta∣gious, to say: an hundred (if not a thou∣sand) infected by being where the plague is, may be brought for one that escaped. Againe, if that argument be good, then these be as good: Many haue had the plague sores and were sick, and yet died not; therefore the plague is not in it owne nature mortall. Many run vpon the mouth of a canon, and escape, therfore canon shot is not murthering.
We see the canon shot to kil, but we see not the Plague to infect.
By common experience it is obserued, that souring of drinke, and other effects follow thunder, wherunto they are attributed: and children take the small pockes comming where they be: though it be not séene how thunder and being where small pocks are, cause such effects. Why then should we not feare aswell the pestilence that walketh in darknes, as the plague that destroy∣eth at noone day: sith by common expe∣rience it is obserued, that thousands fall sicke of the plague presently vpon their being where it is, though it be not séene how ye infectiō is conueyed. Truly the commō people herein do litle differ from brute beasts: in that (for the most part) they are moued by sense, and not by reason.
I feare it is so in too many: for go∣ing amongst thē, I hardly perceiue one of ten once looke for help, though they haue a rising of the plague in some part of their body vntil they be heart sick, & then often they seeke for help too late. Whereas if in Page 49 reasō they wold cōsider, that as the plague may be some good time in the garmēt, be∣fore it infect the outward parts, so it may be in the flesh a good while, before it strike the very heart, no doubt they wold betime preuent the worst. Through which default I am perswaded hundreds do perish daily: but commending such to Gods gracious prouidence. I pray you tell me what causes are giuen by the lear∣ned, why so many escape, though they be continually in so great daunger of the Plague,* as hath bene said.
There be causes both na∣turall and diuine. For naturall causes I referre you to learned Phisitians. Onely I will shew you somewhat, which euery reasonable man (as I thinke) may conceiue. Before any qua∣litie, good or bad, can qualifie any sub∣iect, the subiect must be first disposed thereunto, or capable thereof. The Sa∣lamander liueth in the fire, though the flie, playing with the flame of a candle is consumed therewith. Gun powder takes fire presently, but so doth not chalke. So persons of a tender consti∣tution, Page 50 or corrupt humours sooner take the Plague, then those that be of a strong constitution, & sound bodies, as hath bene said:* & some infected are much fuller of poisonfull corruption then o∣ther. The infirmities of many women in trauell, and other diseases turne vn∣to the Plague. We sée few auncient people die in comparison of children, and the younger sort. Lastly of those that kéepe a good diet, haue cleane and swéet kéeping, liue in a good aire, vse reasonable and seasonable preserua∣tiues, and be not pestred many in one house, or haue conuenient house-roome for their houshold, we see few infected in comparison of those, that faile in all these good meanes of preseruation, and yet will thrust themselues into danger. This well considered, may not an ar∣gument be drawn from hence, to proue (euen by reason) that the Plague is not so infectiue as faithlesse people con∣ceiue, and therefore they need not feare the Plague so extreamely as they do? But I will procéed to the diuine causes or reasons. The chiefe whereof is this: Page 51 God worketh al things after the coun∣sell of his owne will,* and therefore he hath mercie on whome he will haue mercie,* and none shall die but they who are appointed. For though the Phari∣sies sought to lay hands on Christ, yet they could not, before the appointed time came: and therefore be ye Plague neuer so contagious in it owne nature, none can be smitten with it, but those, whom God hath specially appointed.
Here I remember an opinion of some people (with whom I con∣uerse) whereby they seeme to thēselues, to reconcile the difference, touching the Plagues infection; and that is this. Let one (say they) go neuer so daungerously where the Plague is, he cannot die be∣fore his time, and yet indeed he may take the sicknesse. What thinke you of this opinion?
What thinke I of it? as I do of other opinions which brain-sicke men (despising the word of God, and ministerie thereof) do forge in their owne phantasticall braine-pans. How wittie soeuer it séeme to them, I tel you Page 52 it sauoureth strongly of Epicurisme. For doth God dispose of capitall and principall, and not of lesse matters, as Epicures dreame? Shall we say:* The issues of death belong to the Lord, and shall we doubt with the Philistims,* whether sicknesse be by chaunce? If they knew the Scriptures they might learne,* that God forgetteth not spar∣rowes, but so regardeth them, that without him, not one of them falleth to the ground. Doubtlesse Gods proui∣dence is the same, though not alike manifest, in litle and great matters.
The more I conferre with you, the more I perceiue (I thank God for it) the presumptuous wit of foolish men, and herein I see euidently, that they measure the infinite prouidence of God, by the shallownesse of their owne capa∣citie. The Lord graunt vs grace to vnder∣stand according to sobrietie.* I haue ano∣ther argument against the opinion of in∣fection from the prouidence of God, but I would first heare some mo causes or reasons, why so many escape so great danger of infection.
Neighbour you still harpe vpon, so many, so many. I tell you they be few or nonein comparison of them, who daily are infected by being within daunger of the Plague. As for your de∣sire to heare mo causes, I am content to satisfie the same. But I must first tel you, that he is happy who can know the causes of things, to the end you may content your selfe with those few I can presently gather out of the word. God preserueth some to manifest his power and prouidence. As may ap∣peare by the 91.* Psalme before discus∣sed: and by Esa. 1. 9 (2) God will take none hence before they haue done him all that seruice, which in his counsell was appointed, as appeareth by these places, Luk. 13. 31, 32, 33, and Act. 13. 36. (3) God reserueth some for an hea∣uier iudgement, as may appeare by these places: 1. King. 19. 17. 2. King. 8. 10, 15. Amos 5. 16, 17. And 4, towards some he perfourmeth his promise in preseruing them, in their wayes: that is, wayes whereinto God calleth thē: according to the 91. Psalme, vers. 11. Page 54 For which cause Priests, though ta∣king often view of Leprosie, were pre∣serued,* as I shewed before, and kée∣pers, buriers, and such as haue necessa∣rie cause of comming to the infected of the Plague, are (for the most part) now preserued So that Peter may boldly go on the water when Christ biddeth him come. As you may reade, Mat. 14. 28, 29.
I thank you heartily for yeel∣ding me this satisfaction. For amongst all your good notes I take hold of the se∣cond with some comfort, and thereon ground this conclusion: If I shall not die, before I haue done God all the seruice I am appointed: why shold I be vnwilling to die, when my time is come, and not rather be prepared to say, yea sing with good old Simeon:*Lord now lettest thou thy seruant depart in peace. But I misse one principall cause of preseruation from the Plague: to wit, A strong faith according to the 91. Psalme.
I thought verily you wold not let go your hold on that part of the mightie argument. But I assure you there is no such force in it, as it séemeth Page 55 to haue. Nay rather it ouerthroweth the former part of that argument. For in that Psalme, the promise of preser∣uation is not made only, to our taking hold of Gods promise, but also to our walking in our wayes. Wherefore as that faith which standeth vpon the precept (which is implyed) to walke in our wayes, and forgetteth (as it were) the promise of helpe, sauoureth of di∣strust in God. So that faith which ta∣keth hold of the promise, neglecting the precept, sauoureth of presumption, and therefore hauing no promise (with cō∣fortable assurance) cannot hope for preseruation. Againe, though faith do equally respect both the promise & the precept, yet sith all temporall blessings are promised, not absolutely but condi∣tionally, so farre as the performance of them shall be to the glorie of God, and good of the beléeuer, as I wil proue if néed require, it cannot be otherwise assured of preseruation, then with res∣pect to those conditions. If without such respect it be absolutely assured, thē it is not faith, but presumption. Except Page 56 you will haue it to be a miraculous faith, which taketh hold of the will of God instantly and by inspiration re∣ueiled. But that faith liueth and dieth with miracles, because (I say a∣gaine) it hath no promise. For howsoe∣uer saluation be absolutely promised to beléeuers, because it is reuealed that the performance of that promise is for Gods most glory and the beléeuers best good, and is therefore absolutely to be beléeued: yet because it is not reuealed at any time, that then the performance of a temporall promise, is for Gods most glory and the beléeuers best good: therefore a temporall promise, is in the nature thereof, conditional, and accor∣dingly to be beléued. Lastly, do you not perceiue that the stronger faith is re∣quired,* the greater danger is supposed. But if the plague be not contagious, what daunger is there? if no daunger, what néed of faith?
There is no need you should proue your conditions: for they stand with all reason,* sith God hath made all things for his owne sake, and promiseth Page 57 deliuerance for his glory sake,* and his promises pretend the good of his people. But yet it will not out of my mind, but that godly men who die in this plague, do therefore die because they faile in faith: I meane not touching their saluation, but touching the particular promise of pre∣seruation from the plague. Therefore I pray you for my better instruction, shew me how by the death of godly men dying of the plague, and beleeuing the promises both of eternall saluation and temporall preseruation, God may haue glory and the deceased benefit.
I graunt that a right godly man may faile, as in obedience to the precept of kéeping his wayes, by pre∣sumption: so in faith to the promise of preseruation, by feare, especially when he heareth nothing but crying of wiues and children, mourning of husbands and parents, sorrowing of friends and kinsfolke, and withall séeth the plague wéekely to increase from tens to hun∣dreds, from hundreds to thousands, and to draw nearer and nearer to him∣selfe, and that God in visiting him may Page 58 iustly take hold of this feare: for Peter walked on the water for a while,* but when he saw a mightie wind, he was afraid and began to sinke. But this po∣sition, A godly man dying of the plague failed in faith, touching promised pre∣seruation, I hold to be as vnsound as this: All godly men dying before their dayes be long, failed in honouring their father and mother. But I will shew you in a word how the death of godly men dying of the plague, and in the ab∣solute faith of eternall saluation, and conditionall faith of temporall preser∣uation, may be to Gods glorie and the beléeuers good: for by the death of the faithfull, God glorifieth his iustice and wisedome. His iustice amongst the wic∣ked,* in giuing them cause to say, If God spare not the gréene trée, what will be∣come fo the drie? His wisedom amongst the godly, least they should say, For our righteousnesse we are deliuered.* As for the good of the beléeuer, I maruell that you should forget that which is so often taught in funerall sermons, that as the wicked are reserued for a further mis∣chiefe, Page 59 so the righteous is taken away from the euill to come:* besides, that he resteth in glorie from mo and greater labors, then the wicked are commonly subiect vnto.
God helpe vs, for our owne conceiued errours will hardly out of our minds, but we easily forget that which may reforme our iudgement. Well, ac∣knowledging that you haue fully answe∣red my first argument, I proceed to ano∣ther, grounded on the prouidence of God, in this sort. If God shoote his ar∣rowes at a certaine marke, and not at ran∣don, if none die before his hower: and if those that are appointed to die, shal dy, and those that are appointed to perish by sword or famine, shall so perish, and none other,* as you proued euē now; otherwise I had those proofes ready for this purpose: then if I go where the plague is a thou∣sand times, I shall not die of the plague, if God haue not appointed me to dy there∣of: and if he haue, I shall die thereof though I come not neare it by a thousand miles.
How now neighbour, stay Page 60 you there, shall we haue no conclusion? All this is granted: but what infer you hereupon touching our question?
Trust me sir you pose me now. I haue shot the bolt which many deeme to be a kill cow. But indeed I know not to what purpose.
Then may you sée what kind of reasoners heady people be: euen such as are blamed by God for darkning the counsell of God with words without knowledge.* But to vse the words of Paul,* if God will, I will know, not the words of them that are puffed vp, but the power. To bring this about, vnder∣stand that vpon that ground of Gods prouidence, you must of necessity frame one of these two arguments, if you will reason to the purpose: None can die of the plague but such as are specially ap∣pointed thereunto, therefore the plague is not contagious: or this: None can die, &c. but such &c. therfore we may as boldly resort to them that are sicke of the plague, as to those that are sicke of any other disease. Which of these cōclu∣sions do you like better? or do you like Page 61 both? or will you make some other that may serue your turne better?
If neither of these will serue the turne, I cannot imagine any other: for my dull wit could not so distinctly haue gathered these. I see that learning is a good help to iudgemēt: for the very fra∣ming of these in this seuerall sort (which I neuer heard before) maketh me stagger. For the former conclusion seemeth now to be absurd: for (as I now conceiue) by the same reason, the bloudy sword in a fu∣rious battell, and extreme famin amongst a multitude of miserable poore people, may be concluded to be in their owne na∣ture without daunger of death: for in the same chapter of Ieremy (now so much vr∣ged) it is as well said,*Such as are for the sword to the sword, and such as are for the famine to the famine, as Such as are appoin∣ted to death vnto death. As for the second conclusion, if the plague be contagious, I see not how it holdeth good. But yet I pray you to say somewhat to it, that I may the better satisfie my selfe and other, as occasion shall serue.
Certaine Anabaptistes of Page 60Amsterdam, crossing the seas vsually without any weapons, were demanded why they did so, considering the Dun∣kirkers were then abroade? They an∣swered, If God haue determined that we shall fall into their hands, we shall not escape though we had all the guns and weapons in the world: if God haue determined otherwise, we shall escape though we haue no weapons, nor any shew of defensiue prouision. Another being sicke of the plague, and aduised to take some phisick, denieth so to do, vsing the same argument. What thinke you of these conclusions?
If the onely setting downe of your former conclusions, did make me stagger, the laying of these by them (and that in so goodly proportion) must needs make me stumble: for now I see not, but that we may as wel hold it vnnecessary to eate and drinke, though it be for a yeare together, if God haue determined that we shall liue so long.
There is great difference in the cases propounded by me, and that propounded by you. For it is im∣possible Page 61 to liue a yeare without meate and drinke, except God worke a mi∣racle: but the Anabaptists might happely escape the Dunkirkers by not méeting with them: & there may be in a man, though in outward appearance dangerously sicke of the plague, yet some secret power of nature to pre∣uaile against the disease.
All this may be; And yet be∣cause the Anabaptist, and sicke man do not know that God hath determined such a misse, and graunted such a power, they both presume (in mine opinion) as well as he, that refuseth meat and drinke: because they neglect lawfull meanes, the one of defence, the other of recouery.
Now haue you hit vpon the very point. For God, who is onely wise, hath in his counsell determined the meanes as well as the euent. Which appeareth, as in the case of e∣ternall saluation, wherein we sée, that God calleth all them to faith, whom he * predestinated to life: and cōtrariwise, he leaueth them in their reprobate minds, whom he hath ordained to con∣demnation: Page 64 so in cases of temporall deliuerances. For though God graun∣ted Hezekiah recouery,* yet he prescri∣bed a plaister for his sore. And though Paule was assured by an Angell,* that not one in ship with him should be lost: yet, if they had vsed any other meanes of preseruation, then God had determined, they could not be safe. And howsoeuer Christ could not die before his houre (as hath bene sayd) yet his life was preserued till that houre by shunning danger.* On the other side: as God had determined to giue Sihon & his land vnto the Israelites, so he made his heart obstinate to refuse peace, the onely meane of his preseruation.
I perceiue your meaning; namely, from all these instances to con∣clude, that as God hath determined to infect any with the plague vnto death, or otherwise, so hath he determined, by what meanes they should be infected: I graunt all this. But do you thinke that taking infection one from another is the onely meane?
No: For there must of ne∣cessity Page 65 be (a First) that is infected, & we sée the godly aswell as the wicked, and not onely yong and poore folke, but an∣cient and wealthy persons: yea, such as dwell in a good aire, and auoid infe∣ction with all care, to haue the plague as well as other: for otherwise how were it a calamity, or a iudgement? And yet many of them (I doubt not) are infected by being in company of some other infected, in person, or gar∣ment, though they do not perceiue it many dayes after, for causes giuen before.* But to answer your question more fully: I will tell you, what I thinke further: To wit. As God him∣selfe bringeth some to their destruction, by working vpon, and by the spirituall corruption he findeth in their soules, as Pharaoh and Sihon,* but many moe by outward meanes, as our first pa∣rents and Rehoboam: so he himselfe infecteth some, by turning the naturall or accidentall corruption he findeth in their bodies into the plague, but (ac∣cording to his prouidence) he visiteth many moe, by the meane of taking in∣fection Page 66 one from another. But howso∣euer God striketh whom he will un∣modiatly, yet the Plague being conta∣gious in it owne nature, it cannot be denied, but that one man may be infe∣cted by another, except Gods proui∣dence be to the contrary? Now be∣cause that cannot be knowne, but by the euent, therefore as the Anabap∣tist, sicke and hungry men presume (in your opinion) when they neglect the meanes of their defence, recouery and feeding: so he that doth not keepe him∣selfe from the daunger of infection, ex∣cept he haue a necessary calling, doth by such neglecting his owne safety, pre∣sume on Gods prouidence. For (to confirme you in your opinion) it is written:* That secret things belong to God, and reueiled things belong to vs. So that I may conclude, that sith the prouidence of God touching life or death is secret before the euent, and it is reuealed, that the Plague is conta∣gious: therefore it followeth, that howsoeuer it be true that none can die of the Plague, but such as are specially Page 67 appointed thereunto, yet there ought not to be that bold and free resort to them, that are sicke of the plague, as to those that are sicke of any other dis∣ease. To confirme this point further, thus I argue: A wanton or vnnecessa∣ry putting of God to the manifestation of his power or speciall prouidence, is a tempting of the Almighty: as may appeare by these places, Psal. 78. 18. 19. Esa. 7. 12. Math. 4. 6. 7. But to runne in∣to danger of the plague without neces∣sary cause, as they do, who resort as boldly and fréely to them that are sicke of the plague, as to those that are sicke of any other disease, is wantonly and vnnecessarily to put God to manifest his power and speciall prouidence in preseruing them from the Plague: therefore to runne into danger of the plague without necessary cause, as they do, who resort as boldly, &c. is a tempting of the Almighty. The as∣sumption or second propositiō I proue by the fourth of Mathew, verse, 6. 7. where Satan would haue perswaded Christ to cast himselfe downe from a Page 68 pinacle of the Temple, vpon this pre∣sumption, that the Angels had charge to preserue him, being the Sonne of God. Where it is to be noted, that Christ doth not take knowledge of Sa∣tan his abusing the Psalme 91. by him alleaged, in putting in these words, At anie time, for these, In all thy wayes: but alledgeth another Scrip∣ture forbidding vs to tempt the Lord our God. Whereby it is euident, that to presume vpon Gods protection, when we are not in our wayes, or to neglect meanes (as the staires of the pinacle were) is to tempt the Almigh∣ty, and that without necessary cause: to runne into danger, as Satan would haue had Christ to haue done, is to be out of our wayes, therefore to runne into danger of the plague, without a necessary cause, is to tempt the Al∣mighty. Thus you sée, that from the prouidence of God, you cannot con∣clude, that either the plague is not contagious, or we néed not shunne it more than other diseases. Indéed vpon that ground, he that hath a necessary Page 69 cause of resort where the plague is, may thus argue: It is the reuealed will of God, that I am in my way, and therefore haue a promise of preserua∣tion, if it shall be to Gods glory, and my good, and it is not reuealed, that I shall be infected, therefore I may procéed with hope and comfort. I say more from the prouidence of God manife∣sted, the beléeuer ought in euery affli∣ction, to conclude thus: Howsoeuer I vsed meanes as Dauid did to preuent this affliction,* yet perceiuing by the e∣uent that God hath decréed it, I will (by his grace) take it patiently as Da∣uid also did. Thus for your satisfaction I haue sayd that which I thinke suffi∣cient to the second conclusion. But yet if you haue any thing to reply, or any other argument to obiect against the infection of the Plague, I would not haue you (in any case) to hold it in.
If I staggered and stumbled before, how is it likely that I should be able to reencounter now in this skir∣mish? I am therefore to seeke supply from another obiection, which if you Page 70 ouerthrow I must yeeld: for I remem∣ber no moe. But before I assault you with that, perceiuing by your discourse, that shunning the plague is the cause of preseruation, as being within the danger thereof is the cause of infection, I pray your iudgement touching flying into the country for feare of infectiō: which some iustifie,* by these words of Salomon: The prudent man seeth the Plague, and hideth himselfe. Other say this place is miscon∣strued, yea some preach against Flying in∣to the countrey because of the plague.
If you had sayd, a cause, in stead of, the cause, you had more rightly reported my mind: for I haue deliuered sundry causes or meanes of Infection and Preseruation. Amongst the rest, I thinke, going, and abiding in the countrey, to be an excellent meane (in it selfe) of preseruation. But that this meane may be sanctified to them that vse it, let it be considered, Who may take the benefit thereof, and How it is to be vsed. I thinke that they whose residence is not necessary, may take the benefit of going into the coun∣trey, Page 71 as well as a man, who hath a large house, may remoue from one side infected, to another not infected. But let vs further examine this point by considering those 4. sorts of people whō you taxed for running away,* viz. Magistrates, Ministers, Phisitians, and rich men. As for Magistrates and Ministers, I thinke they should be re∣sident:* the one for reasons I gaue be∣fore: the other for reasons no lesse eui∣dent. For when will they offer to God the supplications of his people for helpe and health, if not now, when their miserie is so great? When will they comfort the afflicted, if not now, when there be so many wofull hus∣bands and wiues, parents and chil∣dren, friends and kinsfolkes? When will they preuaile against sinne with the word of exhortation, if not now, when men are humbled with the pu∣nishment of sinne? And when will they do good by preparing men to pa∣tience, and teaching them to make good vse of affliction, if not now, when (euery houre) they looke to come to the Page 72 triall of their faith and wisedome in Christ Iesus? I will say no more, sith Christ hath sayd inough, when he set∣teth it downe,* as a property of an hire∣ling to leaue the shéepe when he séeth the Wolfe comming. As for Phi∣sitions, I onely propound this que∣stion: Whether they be bound in conscience to be resident, in regard of their profession, and ability to do good, or they may vse their liberty to shift for themselues, & (as they thinke) for their liues, in regard they are no publicke persons, and liue (not by a common sti∣pend, but) by what they can get. But howsoeuer this question be answered, I dare say thus much, That a Phisi∣tion, who may do much more good than a keeper, hath as great interest in Gods promise and prouidence. There remai∣neth Rich men to be considered, vnder which name I vnderstand also such as are able to prouide for themselues a∣broad. I thinke they may go and abide in the countrey, sith the good they can do (as they be rich men) is to reléeue the sicke and néedy: which they may Page 73 do well inough, without their resi∣dence, if they were so well minded. To which purpose I spake somewhat be∣fore.* But though they may be non re∣sident, yet they must not vse their li∣berty,* as a cloake of their naughtines, and therefore let them consider: how, or with what cautions, they are to vse that benefite. The cautions be two: One concerning Feare. The other concerning Loue.* Their feare must be neither excessiue, one argument whereof is, their carelesnesse to pro∣uide for their soules, so they shift for their bodies, nor too litle, which ap∣peareth when they forget miserable Ierusalem, and giue themselues to pleasure. Out of their Loue, they are to mourne with, and pray for their di∣stressed brethren,* as if they themselues were in their case: they are to be no lesse liberall in reléeuing their afflicted neighbours,* then they should be, by or∣der from authority or otherwise, if they were resident, and they are to haue a speciall care, that their seruants whom they leaue behind,* may be well Page 74 gouerned while they be in health, and well prouided for, if they fall sicke. If they flie, not respecting these, or like cautions, or good considerations, Prea∣chers (as you say) reproue them iustly. Otherwise I dare say they do not.
Indeed your cautions make me remember, that they speake much what to that purpose. But Sir, I cannot let you passe without saying somewhat to that place, concerning Hiding our selues from the plague: and the rather be∣cause some excuse their not comming to Church thereby. Therefore I eftsoones craue your iudgemēt touching the same.
Will you let nothing passe? Well. That I may incourage you to séeke resolution, and not (as many do) build opinions vpon so vaine imagina∣tions, I am, and will be willing to sa∣tisfy you as I may. The truth is, many abuse that place to iustifie their inor∣dinate feare, taking hold of the words Plague and Hide. Amongst other, they who will not come to Church because of the Plague: of whom I would de∣maund these questions: Whether they Page 75 thinke that because of the Plague, the Lords day should, by warrant of Gods word, cease to be sanctified by an holy assembly? If not, but that ra∣ther speciall dayes of publike humilia∣tion and prayer, are to be ordained and kept, during the visitation: then what dispensation haue they to be a∣way from holy assemblies, more then other? Againe, if the promise of prote∣ction belong to such, as frequent holy assemblies in time of this visitation, as to those that trust in God and walke in their wayes: and if God can strike them with the Plague, as well tarying at home, as comming to Church, what griefe will it be to their conscience (if God do strike them) to consider that they haue failed in faith, forsaken their wayes, and are found in their sinne? Touching the place, whereunto you would haue me say somewhat, thus I vnderstand it. The word Plague doth signifie a stripe, or stroke, and therefore not onely the Pestilence, but euery pu∣nishment for sinne is meant thereby. Hiding is put for Preseruing,* as IoashPage 76 was, by hiding preserued from mur∣ther. But it is to be considered, from what a prudent man hideth or preser∣ueth himselfe. In a Plague two things are to be auoided. The wrath of God, and the punishment it selfe. That men may take héed of inordinate feare, let them know that a prudent man hideth not himselfe, or obtaineth preseruation from the former, other∣wise then by Prayer and Fasting, Faith and Repentance. For we can∣not hide our selues from God,* who is infinite, but by God himselfe. That is: as the woman appealed from King Philip sléeping, to King Philip awake∣ned, so a prudent man hideth himselfe from Gods wrath, vnder Gods mer∣cy,* which is as great as himselfe. As we may learne by these sayings of Da∣uid: In the time of trouble the Lord shall hide me in his Tabernacle.* And: How excellent is thy mercy, ô God, therefore the children of men trust vnder the shadow of thy wings. As the pru∣dent man hideth himselfe from the pu∣nishment it selfe, he vseth, and may vse Page 77 lawfull meanes, temporall, as well as spirituall. And therfore a prudent man may vse lawfull meanes of preserua∣tion as well from the Pestilence, as from other lesse Plagues, or strokes of Gods anger: & by consequence, if shun∣ning infection be a mean to preserue, as being within danger is a meane to in∣fect, then a prudent man may flie out of the City infected, into the country not infected: prouided his residence be not necessary, and he obserue cautions con∣uenient, as I sayd before.* This is mine opinion touching flying into the countrey for feare of Infection, and that place concerning hiding our selues from the Plague. Now let me heare your last obiection, if you re∣member no moe.
I haue troubled you so long, that I trow it is high time to come out with my last obiection, and yet (I tell you) it is deemed none of the least: for it see∣meth to be against all reason, that the Plague should be infectiue, seeing it is spoken of in the Scriptures so often, and yet in no place is said to be infectiue.
Howsoeuer that séemeth, I am sure this is against all reason, to make the Bible a booke of phisicke: or to conclude thus, the Scriptures do not in any place say that ye plague is infectiue, therfore it is not infectiue. It may be as well concluded thus: the Scriptures do not in any place say that the French dis∣ease commeth by whoredom, therefore it commeth not by whoredome, and by consequence whoredom is not to be fea∣red for that cause. I obserue with griefe the humour of most to be this, if they haue a mind to any sinfull pleasure, vn∣lawful profit, or erronious opinion, thē they stoutly demaund: What expresse Scripture haue you against it? Contra∣riwise, if they haue no mind to any holy duty, then they must know where scrip∣ture doth expresly commaund it. But neighbor, tel me, do you not thinke that baptizing of infants is lawfull, sith it may be iustified by sound conclusions from the word, though in all the new Testament, there is neither precept for, nor example of baptizing infants?
No doubt of it. But can you proue Page 79 the plague to be infectiue by conclusions? If you can, for Gods sake let me heare some, & then I wil beleeue, through Gods grace, and informe others as wel as I can.
What néed you be so earnest for proof out of the scripture, sith I gaue you before an argument out of the 91.*Psalm, which may be sufficient to proue a point, wherein the scriptures séeme to be so silent. But that I may giue you contentment (if I can) at our parting, I will shew you some other Scriptures which speake to this purpose. In the 14. of Ezechiel, verse 21. God nameth foure principall iudgements appointed to de∣stroy, viz. the sword, famine, noisome beasts, and pestilence: where note, that (without question) thrée of them be fit means in their nature to destroy many: why not ye pestilence? Consider further, that God doth not threaten to destroy by dogs, buls or such like creatures; but by noisom beasts, such as should destroy not to satisfie hunger, but to make ha∣uocke: as may appeare by ye destruction of thrée and forty children,* only by two Beares: so in that God doth not kill by Page 80 the burning ague, consumption, or any other disease, when he meaneth to de∣stroy many, but by the pestilence (which also is called Neisome in ye 91. Psalme, verse. 3.) it is to be gathered, that the Pestilence is a destroyer by infection: and the rather, because God saith in the 26. of Leuiticus, verse 25. When ye are ga∣thered in your cities to escape the sword, I wil send the Pestilence amongest you. Why should the Pestilence be more noisome when people are thrust together, then when they be seuered, but that it is cō∣tagious? Lastly, in ye 24. of the Acts, ver. 5. Paul is called a Pestilent fellow, or (according to ye originall) Pestilence it selfe. And why? Because as the Pesti∣lence is contagious, so was he accused to be by sedition and heresie. Doth it not now appeare vnto you by the scrip∣tures, that the plague is contagious?
It doth, I confesse it freely, and thanke God that I had the grace to come to you for resolution, beseeching his hea∣uenly Maiestie for Christ his sake, not to charge me with that bloud wherof I may be guiltie, by incouraging my selfe and Page 81 other, vnnecessarily to runne into danger, in maintaining that bloudy errour, as you rightly call the denying of the plagues infection: which error I wil neuer defend againe whiles I liue, but will hereafter (by Gods grace) take heed▪ as well of headie presumption, as inordinate feare.
I also thanke God with you, in the name of Christ, for this blessing of our conference: but neighbor, I must put you in mind, and charge you with your promise, to informe others. For it may be that people, howsoeuer (for the most part) they learne corrupt opinions one from another, sooner then sound do∣ctrine from the godly and learned Mini∣sters, yet they may conceiue this truth better by your familiar talking with them, then by my maner of teaching. As children learne sooner to speake by pratling one with another, then by hearing the discourses of their parents. Therefore as Christ said to Peter, When thou art conuerted, strengthen thy brethren:* so I eftsoones require you, that being re∣formed in iudgement your self, you wil wisely and zealously indeuor to reform Page 82 the iudgement of other in an error of so great danger. And withal I desire you, that if you méet with any argument a∣gainst the plagues infection, or for vn∣restrained repaire to the infected, that is worth the answering, let me know it, and I promise you either humbly to yéeld to ye truth, or clearely to answer it when God shal be pleased that we méet againe. In the meane while let vs pray that God would sanctifie this grieuous visitation both to Prince and people, that thereby the King (whom God pre∣serue from all contagion both bodily and ghostly) séeing so many thousands of his people dying wéekely, and that in his royall Citie, and beginning of his raigne, may be occasioned to take héede that he leaue not his first loue, decline not from his professed sinceritie, and be not drawne away from his owne sted∣fastnes, but rather to vow reformation of whatsoeuer maybe found by diligent inquirie, to be offensiue in the Church and common-wealth, and that thereby the people may be stirred vp out of a true faith to séeke the Lord, with con∣trition Page 83 of hart, confession of mouth, and amendment of life, that so he may be found in due time to heale the sores of his people, and to restore health and wealth to Israel. All which God grant for Christ his sonnes sake, in whom he hath professed himselfe to be well plea∣sed,* as being the Mediatour of the new couenant; whereby he bindeth himselfe not to take his mercies from vs,* though he chasten vs with the rods of men. To whom (for this time and euer) I commend you and all our neighbours. Farewell.