The tenth Chapter, Of carnall gospellers, by whose euill liuing Gods truth is shamefullie slandered.
IWill now speake with great dolor and hea∣uinesse in my hart, of a sort of people, which be in the world, that be called professors of the Gospell; and by their words doo declare and shew, they be much affected to the same. But I am afraid, some of them doo build vpon the sand; as Si∣mon Magus did, making a weake foundation: I meane, they make not Christ their chiefest foundation, professing his doctrine, of a sincere, pure, and zealous mind; but either for bicause they would be called gos∣pellers, Page 70 to procure some credit and good opinion of the true and verie fauourers of Christs doctrine, either to find out some carnall libertie, either to be contenti∣ous disputers, finders or rebukers of other mens faults, or else finallie to please and flatter the world. Such gospellers are an offence, and a slander to the word of God, and make the wicked to reioice & laugh at them, saieng: Behold I praie you their faire fruits. What charitie, what discretion, what godlinesse, ho∣linesse, or puritie of life is among them? Be not they great auengers, foule gluttons, slanderers, back bi∣ters, adulterers, fornicators, swearers, and blasphe∣mers; yea and wallowe & tumble in all sinnes? These be the fruits of their doctrine.
And thus it may be seene, how the word of God is euill spoken of, through licentious and euill liuing: and yet the word of God is all holie, pure, sincere, and god∣lie, being the doctrine & occasion of all holie and pure liuing. It is the wicked that peruert all good things, into euill. For an euill tree can not bring foorth good fruit. And when good seede is sowne in a barren and euill ground, it yeeldeth no good corne: and so it fareth by the word of God. For when it is heard and knowne of wicked men, it bringeth no good fruit: but when it is sowne in good ground, I meane the harts of good peo∣ple, it bringeth foorth good fruit abundantlie: so that the want & fault is in men, and not in the word of God. I praie God all men and women may haue grace to become meete tillage for the fruits of the Gospell, and to leaue onlie the iangling of it. For onlie speaking of the Gospell maketh not men good Christians, but good talkers, except their facts and works agree with the same: so then their speech is good, bicause their harts be good. And euen as much talke of the word of God, without practising the same in our liuing, is euill & de∣testable in the sight of God: so it is a lamentable thing Page 71 to heare, how there bee manie in the world, that do not well digest the reading of scripture, and do commend and praise ignorance, and saie, that much knowledge of Gods word is the originall of all dissention, scismes, and contention; and maketh men hautie, proud, and presumptuous, by reading of the same.
This maner of saieng is no lesse than a plaine blas∣phemie against the holie Ghost. For the spirit of God is the author of his word, and so the holie Ghost is made the author of euill, which is a most great blas∣phemie, and (as the scripture saith) a sinne that shall not bee forgiuen in this world, neither in the other to come. It were all our parts and duties, to procure and seeke all the waies and meanes possible, to haue more knowledge of Gods word set foorth abroade in the world, & not allow ignorance, and discommend know∣ledge of Gods word, stopping the mouthes of the vn∣learned with subtile and craftie persuasions of Phi∣losophie, and Sophistrie, whereof commeth no fruite, but a great perturbation of the mind to the simple & ignorant, not knowing which waie to turne them. For how is it not extreame wickednesse, to charge the holie sanctified word of God with the offences of man? To alledge the scriptures to be perillous learning, be∣cause certaine readers there of fall into heresies?
These men might be inforced by this kind of argu∣ment, to forsake the vse of fire, because fire burneth their neighbours house: or to absteine from meate and drinke, because they see manie surfet. O blind hate! They slander God for mans offence, & excuse the man whome they see offend; and blame the scripture, which they can not improue. Yea I haue heard of some, that haue verie well vnderstood the Latin tongue, that when they haue heard learned men persuade to the credite and beleefe of certaine vnwritten verities (as they call them) which bee not in scripture expressed, Page 72 and yet taught as doctrine apostolike, and necessarie to bee beleeued; they haue beene of this opinion, that the learned men haue mo Epistles written by the A∣postles of Christ, than wee haue abroad in the Canon of the old and new testament, or knowne of anie, but onlie to them of the Clergie. Which beleefe I did not a little lament in my hart to heare, that anie creature should haue such a blind ignorant opinion.
Some kind of simplicitie is to bee praised, but this simplicitie, without the veritie, I can neither praise nor allow. And thus it may bee seene, how wee that bee vnlettered remaine confused, without God of his grace lighten our harts and minds with a heauenlie light and knowledge of his will. For wee bee giuen of our selues to beleeue men better than God. I praie God send all learned men the spirit of God aboundant∣lie, that their doctrine may bring forth the fruits ther∣of. I suppose there was neuer more neede of good do∣ctrine to bee set foorth in the world than now in this age. For the carnall children of Adam, bee so wise in their generation, that if it were possible, they would deceiue the children of light. The world loueth his owne, and therefore their facts and doings be highlie esteemed of the world: but the children of God are ha∣ted, bicause they bee not of the world. For their habita∣tion is in heauen, and they do despise the world as a most vile slaue.
The fleshlie children of Adam be so politike, subtile, craftie, and wise in their kind, that the elect should bee illuded, if it were possible. For they are cloathed with Christs garment, in vtter appearance, with a faire shewe of all godlines, and holines in their words: but they haue so shorne, nopped, and turned Christs gar∣ment, and haue so disguised themselues, that the chil∣dren of light beholding them with a spirituall eie, do accompt and take them for men which haue sold their Page 73 maisters garment, and haue stolne a peece of euerie mans garment. Yet by their subtile art, and craftie wits, they haue so set those patches and peeces togi∣ther, that they do make the blind world, and carnall men to beleeue, it is Christs verie mantell.