The third Discourse.
Of the inconstancie whereby many do vse to hate, condemne, and detest their neighbours, because of their contrarieties in religion.
THE onelie disputations holden about * this matter in diuerse Countries with∣in these few yéeres, were sufficient to in∣gender great hatred, yea, euen among néerest kindred. But when to the con∣tention of wordes they ioyne déedes, (from whence haue proceeded infinite iniuries) then are the passions corobo∣rated, and many mens heartes so poiso∣ned, that in the time of peace they cānot satisfie their hatred against such as agrée not vnto their religious opinions, neither their cruell reuenge in the time of warre. In this matter when we come to de∣mand what cause hath and yet doth ingender and bring forth these extremities, many doe sufficiently declare that it is the zeale that e∣uerie one beareth to his own religion, that causeth them to be per∣suaded that all doctrine thereto repugnant is spotted with impietie, and therefore they abhorre both it and all that professe it. Now to the end not to stumble in this so rough a waie, I haue thought it nothing amisse to open the signification of the word Zeale, as also to shew the fruites that should procéede from so good a trée. Zeale* in my opinion, is an ardent affection of the soule which tendeth to the honour of God and the saluation of our neighbour, whereof it also followeth, that it is offended when he is dishonoured. Moses* and Saint Paule did greatly declare the zeale that they did beare, euen to Gods people, when the one of them said, Lord forgiue them this trespasse, otherwise blot me out of the booke which thou hast writ∣ten. And Saint Paule, who wished to be separated from God, that his*brethren according to the flesh, who glorified God might bee brought into the waie of saluation. By these speeches, which some take to bee excessiue, we are to vnderstand the vehemencie of their affection. Likewise may Helias and Phinees bee vnto vs examples of the Page 46 wrath that some conceiue when they sée impietie and wickednesse to abound. F•• it moued the one of them to put to death all the * Prophettes of Baal, and the other Zambry and the Madianite.* And suche zeale is commended in the holy Scriptures, because it was guided by the wisedome of God.
In this miserable worlde wherein we nowe liue are there fewe to be found that imitate Moses and Paul, either that followe the ex∣amples * of Helias and Phinehes, notwithstanding many would vse the same for a cloake to their violent passions, as peraduenture not considering that those wer perticular actions, procéeding of in∣ward motions, or expresse commandements, and so not to be made consequents. Moreouer, those dayes had especiall reasons for such kinde of iudgements, which cannot well agrée with ours. But the lawe of Charitie which is perpetual and the foundation of the two aforenamed wishes ought to reduce vs to the same practise, and so might we aduowe our zeale to be good, when leaning vppon the said Charitie it is guided by knowledge, which are the two princi∣pall markes to discerne the true zeale from the false. The Apostle Saint Paule teacheth vs to eschue that which is without know∣ledge, for being destitnte thereof, it aimeth rather at reuenge, than Charitie, as in himselfe it appeared when he assisted at the death of *Steuen.
Now will it be easie for vs to knowe the markes of false zeale, if we doe but consider of the vices that are opposite to the aforesaide * vertues, which are Ignorance, (wherewith mallice is oftentimes mixed) and hatred of our neighbour: for whosoeuer diligentlie obserueth not those differences, the same doe runne into errour. Of these affections, which euerie one attributeth to pietie, are ingende∣red the iudgements that we make of our neighbours, whereof the most part are wonderful rash: for many there are who séeing some one that consent not with them in pointes of religion, doe not one∣ly * charge him that he walketh in errour, but also imediatly account him a prophane and wicked man. This opinion hauing once got∣ten holde in the minde, is hard to be rooted out againe, and is the cause of breach, as well of brotherly loue as of publike concorde. We must therefore take heede that in our selues wee conclude not so hastilie vpon the condemnation of those whō we will not vouch∣safe to take leisure to know throughly. If we were to enquire whe∣ther a horse or a dogge were good or bad, we would haue a time of triall before we would iudge, how much rather should we put that Page 47 rule in practise concerning men? otherwise we must make lesse ac∣count of them than of the sayd beasts. But see how diuerse do now gouerne thēselues herein. If a man say to one, This man is a Pro∣testant, by and by he will answere, Then is he a wicked heretik. and saie to another, This man is a Papist, and he also wil say, Then is he naught. And why do you thus reproue him? Because saie they, his religion is contrarie to ours. Truely this readinesse is ouer readie.
Well, whether this iudgement may be false or true, yet are we * in the meane time to vse great moderation in both. When he that is blinded with ignorance shall condeinne the true doctrine and the maintayners thereof, his zeale shall not so iustifie him, that he may not iustly be accused to be a prophaner of the truth, neither wil it a∣ny whit auayle him to alledge his good intent, because the same can not alter the nature of things. But is there not matter sufficiēt, not to laugh at, but euen to bewayle him, who being spiritually blind, doth not so think, but rather noteth the cléerest sighted of blindnes? Wel may it be said vnto him, Thou Phisitiō that iudgest thy neigh∣bor to be sick, & in stead of seeking to cure him, wouldest that he were knocked on the head, enter into a little consideratiō of thy selfe, & thou shalt perceiue that it is thou that doest aboūd in diseases, & those most dangerous. Thinke therfore thrice before thou say once to another: Thou art an heretike. But in truth it is a word in these dayes * common in most mens mouths, and some there are from whom if we should take the vse of yt tearme, their beades from their girdles, and hatred from their hearts, they would be as much astonied as a couetous wretch that hath lost his purse. And yer are these men lesse to bee blamed than some that willingly doe erre, in that they know the thing that they reiect, not to be reprouable. Before these last mens eyes will I set a saying of the Prophet Esay, Cursed bee you that call euill good and good euill, or that make darknesse light, or light darknesse: to the end so hard a sentence terryfieng their con∣sciences * may withdrawe them from iniquitie to righteousnesse. O∣thers there bee also which beeing well instructed, doe neuerthelesse * growe into such arroganice, that to those that yet walke in the paths of straunge doctrine, they giue ignominious names, and do greatly disdayne them: Whereby they shewe theyr owne abuse of Charitie which in liew of pride and insolencie, should bee meeke as Saint Paule saith. Page 48 It were rather their partes to haue compassion of them, with all gentlenesse to take them by the armes, and by little and little, re∣mouing the vaile that blindeth their sight, to shewe them the gulfes wherein they doe inconsideratlie plonge and cast themselues awaie. For it is horrible crueltie, séeing the soules in euident dan∣ger, to curse the bodies. One thing there is that moueth these men, namelie, the falsenesse of the doctrine, which in truth is to bee con∣demned. But they ouerskipping this consideration, doe build their hatred vpon the persons that are deceiued therein, and doe neuer thinke that they may in time be lightned and conuerted, as some of those were that consented to the death of Iesus Christ, who after∣ward worshipped him as God, notwithstanding they had before crucified him as an heretike and seditious person. Reason woulde wee shoulde presume of our neighbour that he will rise rather than perish, vnlesse we sée anie euident tokens of hardnesse of heart in him. Yet doe I not here meane that he shoulde bee flattered in his imperfections, neither take awaie all place from perticular iudge∣mentes * procéeding of a good conscience, because as well the one as the other woulde be hurtfull, for so shall I couer the disease that ought to be opened, to the end to be the better cured. But let him that will iudge kéepe himselfe within the rules of charitie. For it so falleth out, that those which through presumption doe condeme o∣thers, God condemneth by iustice.
Other some of these inconsiderate zelators are of a verie bad o∣pinion. That is, that they are persuaded, that those whose religi∣on they haue reproued in themselues, are not to be accounted their * neighbours, no more than the Turkes or Tartarians, wherein they are grosely deceiued. And in case they were as diligent in reading the Scriptures, as they are to cleaue to the readinesse of their pas∣sions, they would be of another minde. For there should they find that the word neighbor stretcheth indifferentlie to all men, because mankinde is conioyned together with a sacred bonde of communi∣tie, to the end that by that bond men shuld be stirred vp to loue each other. It is enough therefore for any one to be our neighbour, be∣cause he is a man. For it lieth not in vs to blot out common na∣ture. And who is he how barbarous so euer, that beareth not the * image of God printed in his soule, although it may be that it is al∣most blotted out? And for this cause ought wee among so many blemishes, and in so noble a creature, still to consider the excel∣lent marke that God hath imprinted, to the end we hold not that to Page 49 be abhominable which himselfe can crowne with his grace.
In olde tyme the Pharisies violating the lawes of nature, ac∣co••pted * none for their neighbours but their kindred, friendes or benefactors, restrayning within that small number, the thing that should be common to all. But Iesus Christ corrected their false in∣terpretation by the example of the Samaritaine that relieued the poore Iew whom he found woūded by the way, whom also a Priest and a Leuite had denied of all mercie: thereby shewing that euery one is bound to doe good euen to the vnknowne, also that he is our neighbour that vseth most humanitie toward vs. Besides that we are to note that in those daies there was greater enmitie betwéene the Iewes and Samaritaines, then is in these daies betwéene the Christians and Turkes. How then will they excuse themselues that with the only names of Catholick and Protestant are so shar∣pened one against another, that they disaduowe each other to bee their neighbours? Yet are there some so bitter as to affirme that * they haue reason so to doe: and if you aske them why, they will aunswer, that he that is vowed to Satan is woorthie all rigour and vnwoorthie any fauour. Oh proude pecocke! what worse canst thou say of a Caine or of same detestable Sorcerer? Knowest thou not that it is written in the Epistle of Iude, that when Michael the Archangell contended with the deuill about the bodie of Moses he durst not curse him, but sayd; The Lord reproue thee? For although he applye this place to those that doe malitiously backbite their su∣periours, yet may it also bee appropriated vnto thee that doest de∣nounce eternall damnation against thy like. Why is not thy im∣placable wrath satisfied when thou doest imagine his soule to bee destinate to eternall torments? This should cause thee to pitie his bodie, as wee doe the transgressor that is condemned to bee broken vppon the whéele. Correct thy crueltie, that thy selfe bee not con∣demned.
Hereby doe we see that the errors of the minde doe enforce the * hatred of the hart. But Iesus Christ doth giue vs a farre other les∣son in that notable sermon that he made to the Iewes when he sayd vnto them. You haue heard that it hath bene sayd, Thou shalt loue*thy neighbour and hate thy enemie: But I say vnto you. Doe good to those that hate you, and pray for them that scaunder and persecute you, that you may be the children of your father that is in heauen. For if you loue those that loue you, what reward is it? Doe not the Publi∣canes euen so? And if you salute your brethren only, what singuler Page 50 thing doe you. Doe not the heathen the same? Be ye therefore perfect, euen as your father which is heauen is perfect. I thinke if those men that are so hard harted did often reade these words, their stomacks * would come downe when they see the soueraigne maister com∣maund so holie things, and that with such méekenesse. Sith also himselfe speaking of the most of them that crucified him sayd: Fa∣ther forgiue them, for they wot not what they doe: Let vs at the least, setting before vs this example, say for them that doe vs no harme and to whom wee wish no good, Father forgiue vs, for wee wot not*what we doe. All these hatreds whereto diuers do seeke to lay some ground are to say the truth, no other but Iewish dealings, that is to say, a subuertion of the lawe of common charitie through false destinctions agréeing with the lawe of our owne appetites.
I doubt not but some will bee sorie that we should endeuour to * reduce them to such méekenesse, therein peraduenture resembling a certeyne Abbot whose only felicitie consisted in molesting all the world with law matters, whom a French king vtterly forbad that exercise: but he aunswered that now he had not past fortie matters, all which he would cease sith his maiestie so straightly commanded him, neuerthelesse he besought him to leaue him one halfe dosen for his pastime and recreation. And so would they that we should leaue them some, vpō whom to discharge a little of the aboundance of their choller. Howbeit, herein they deceiue themselues: for God will not be cōtent with halfe obedience, but will haue it perfect and altogether from the hart. But they will replye that these be euan∣gelicall counsailes, but no obligatorie precepts. This is another starting hole digged out of the schoole of Sophistrie, & is of no va∣lew. Howbeit hereof it ensueth not, that we must quite burie vp all hatred: but wee ought so to guide it that it take no hold of things prohibited. Such as abound in this passiion may find scope enough to walke in, yea vntill they bee wearie. First they may discharge their stomackes against the deuils, who of all creatures are the worst, neither neede they feare to exceede therein. For we cannot too much de•est any thing that is so repugnant to God. Next they may hate all and euery the sinnes which sprout forth in the world as grasse in the medowes: because they bee the stinges of death. The same may they doe to all impious doctrines, for that God by them is forgotten and dishonored: The wicked likewise, generally considered, may be somewhat abhorred, as those that alter and po∣lute publique societies, although peeticulerly the rule of charitie Page 51 afore mentioned be to be obserued toward them. But if any, hauing mallice to sell, would seeke any more familier or ordinarie subiect to employe himselfe vpon, I would say vnto him. Friend, open the closets of thy soule and of thy hart, peraduenture if thou seekest well, thou mayst finde matter enough whereon to exercise thy selfe, as am∣bition,*intemperance, pride, crueltie, vniustice, ingratitude, lying, de∣ceipt, with other vices: whereof thy selfe wilt be abashed. There stay thy selfe, for hatred is the meanes to tame those monsters whom thou makest as thou knewest not of, and which doe diffame thee. So knowe that thy hatred shall be fruitfull and sweete, wherein powring it foorth vpon thy neighbours, it breedeth thee hurt and trouble.
Like as those that be well taught, hating mens imperfections * can neuerthelesse loue them, euen so is it meete that wee should in like for behaue ourselues toward our like, and not vtterly with∣drawe our loue from their persons, although wee condemne their errors and wickednesse: for many tymes they doe through grace chaunge, and from their vnpure waies come to those that bee pure. This charitie whereof I speake is nothing repugnant to ciuill Iustice, neither doth it abolish the indignation that wee are to beare vnto the contemners of God: for if it were contrary to pie∣tie and publique order, then were it not humaine but inhumaine. Also the proportion betwéene the same and deuine charitie is good, for the one sayth: Thou shalt loue God with all thy hart, and the o∣ther: Thou shalt loue thy neighbour as thy selfe.
Concerning conuersation, whereof some make such scrupulosi∣tie, * alleadging for their excuse. This man is an hereticke, or that man is an Idolater: me thinkes they doe ouer rashly denye it to those that haue an immortall soule as themselues, and doe weare the especiall badge of Gods people: which is Baptisme. If they thinke others defiled and themselues cleane, is it not a part of hu∣manitie to visite them to make them also cleane? They will aun∣swer, that they feare least spiritual vncleannesse should infect them. But examining the matter a little néerer, wee shall finde that that is not the matter, but rather that it is a certeyne vyolent hatred that kéepeth them from casting any good looke vpon those whom they accompt prophane, which they seeke to shroude vnder the cloake of conscience. I thinke that diuers doe herein faile through ignorance, as being persuaded by some false teachers so to doe: but there bee others that make themselues very scrupulous vp∣pon a méere péeuishnesse, to the ende to seeme the more holie, Page 52 and yet in marking them well wee shall knowe them to be as they are, as Plutarke saith. Lyons at home and Foxes abroade: that is to say, In outward shewe Hipocrites and inwardly replenished with pride and vengeance.
We cannot hold any better rule in this case, then to imitate our Lord Iesus Christ, who made no difficultie to haunt with all per∣sons * according to the rule of his vocation, notwithstanding ye Pha∣risies found fault with him for it when they sayd to his desciples. Wherefore doth your maister eate with Publicanes and sinners? But Iesus hearing them, sayd: The whole neede not the Phisition, but those that be sicke. By which his example he teacheth vs to take compassion of those whom wee finde in the possession of sinne and error, whom we may in some measure helpe by instruction, if they receiue it. Some there are that say that he was neuer conuersant with Heretickes. But I would faine aske these newe Doctors what the Pharisies and Sadduces were? For he taught the one sort and did many tymes dispute of the scriptures with the other. Wee shall finde that the first did woorship straunge Gods, and the second denyed the immortalitie of the soule. Moreouer, what were the Apostles pilgrimages but continuall communications with the Gentiles, to the end to reclaime them from their errors? Then must not wee be so cruell, sith those whose followers we boast our selues to be, vsed so great méekenesse toward all. Some man may * here replye with S. Paule writing to Titus cap. 3. saying: that he must after the first and second admonition flee the companie of an hereticke: whereto I aunswer: first that his meaning is that he be so indeede, and not by imputation. Secondly, that he be well kno∣wen, and by lawfull and ecclesiasticall procéedings manifestly and sufficiently conuict so to be. Thirdly, that we see him so obstinate, that notwithstanding whatsoeuer exhortations either priuate or publique, he will not amend, but endeuoureth to infringe the vnitie of the Church in making others to goe astray. Then is it méete to put in practise his precept: for of the frequenting wt such a man can there come no fruite, but rather most euident daunger. But all that erre are not noted with that marke. Sith therfore we see the world so bent, that not only in townes and villages, but euen in families and small households, the dwellers doo differ in their opinions con∣cerning the maner of the true seruice of God, let vs not woonder, neither be offended thereat: for euer since the birth of the Christian*Church haue there appeared such diuisions, which haue continued Page 53 sometimes in secrete, sometimes openly, and so will continue to the worlds ende.
In such occurrences the best course that we can holde to auoyde * the shipwrack of our soules, is to seeke the way that leadeth to sal∣uation, which is not to be found but in the truth, & the truth in the holy Scriptures. This being found, those that feele themselues adorned and clothed with so holy a knowledge, are to employe so precious a gift of God to the benefite of their neighbours, and not thereof to gather an argument to despise and disdaine them: to the ende they may haue their part in this blessing of Christ, who saith: Blessed are the mercifull for they shall obteyne mercie. And as for those whose inconsiderate zeale doth many tymes moue them to * wrongfull iudgements and condemnations, let them remember the saying of S. Paule. That whatsoeuer is not of faith is sinne. That * is to say, that no worke, how goodly a shewe so euer it maketh, if it be not done of an vpright conscience, grounded vppon the word of God, is good. A Deuine might haue written a whole booke vppon this argument, but I am content only to haue spoken a word or two by the way, as well in some sorte to seeke to moderate our bit∣ternesse, which doth but too much deuide vs, as also to kindle a new our charitie, to the ende the same may serue at the least to reunite vs in a good politique concord.