CHAP. VI. Of Modestie and of Meekenesse.
MOdestie in speech hath diuers caueats: first, if a man speake any thing of himselfe, that is, in his owne commendation, let him alter the person and speak of himselfe as of another:*I know a man (saith Paul, speaking of himselfe) in Christ aboue fourteene yeares agoe, &c. which was taken vp into Paradise, and heard words which can not be spoken. And Iohn saith of himselfe:*When Iesus saw his mother, and the disciple whome he loued, standing by, &c. Here take heede of boasting, whereby men imitate the deuill, who said,*All this power will I giue thee, and the glorie of those kingdomes: for that is deliuered vnto me, and to whome∣soeuer I will giue it.
Againe, when a man shall haue occasion to speake of his owne faults and corruptions, let him speake the vttermost against himselfe, as Paul called him∣self the first of all sinners.* But if he be to mention any thing of himselfe; that may minister matter of commendation, let his speech rather incline to the de∣fect, then to the excesse: as Paul saith, I am least of the Apostles, which am not meete to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God.
Secondly, in the mentioning of things which mooue blushing, we are to vse as seemely wordes as may be chosen. Gen. 4.1. Afterward Adam knew He∣vah his wife, which conceiued and bare Cain. 1. Sam. 24.4. And when he came to the sheepcoates by the way where there was a caue, Saul went into to couer his feete, that is, to doe his easement.
Meekenes also is required in communication, which is, when a man vseth courteous and faire speech.*Put them in remembrance, &c. that they be courteous, shewing all meeknes to all men, for we our selues also were in times past vnwise, diso∣bedient, &c.
Page 723Meekenes and gentlenes shewes it selfe in Salutations, Answers, and Re∣proofes.
For the first daily experience sheweth, that it maketh much for the main∣taining of loue, to call men by their proper names or surnames. And this was a signe of special fauour that God called Moses by his proper name. Yet more conuenient it is to salute our betters by names of honour or office. Thus the disciples call our Sauiour Christ Rabbi: and it was the vsuall manner among the Iewes, to call their betters Adon, that is, Lord, or Syr.
The formes of salutations are to be after the order practised in Scripture. An Angel saluted Gedeon thus:*The Lord be with thee thou valiant man. And Boaz came to Bethlehem, and saide to the reapers, The Lord be with you: and they answered, The Lord blesse thee. And the Angel saluted Marie, Hayle, free∣ly beloued, the Lord is with thee, &c. Christ comming among his disciples, said, Peace be among you: and he taught them comming to any house to say, Peace be to this house.
By this it appeareth, that our common formes of salutations are commen∣dable: which are of diuers sorts; as when one meets another, God saue you: when one goes away, God be with you: in the morning, God giue you a good morning: after noone, God giue you a good euening: when one is going on his iourney, God speede your iourney: when one is working, God speede you: in eating, much good doe it you: when one hath a new office, God giue you ioy of your office: when one is sicke, God comfort you, &c.
And when children salute their fathers and mothers after this manner: I pray you father blesse me. I pray you mother blesse me: it is a seemely thing. For God hath made parents to be the instruments of blessing to their children, in nurturing them and praying for them: as the fifth commandement saith, Ho∣nour thy father and thy mother, that they may prolong thy daies. Now they prolong the childrens daies by praying to God for blessings on them, and by such like duties.
It is an vse in all places, when a man neeseth to salute him by saying, Christ helpe you: But there is no cause why the words should then be vsed more then at another time. The reasons are, I. it is an olde custome fetched from the Gentiles before Christ, and hath no ground at all: for they vsed with the like wordes to wish men health,* because they thought neesing to be a sacred and holy thing: and because some take it to be a signe of vnhappie and euill suc∣cesse, which indeed is otherwise. II. If there be any daunger in the braine be∣fore neesing, when a man hath neesed the danger is past, as learned physitians teach: therefore there is no cause of the vsing such words then, more then at coughing.
Against the practise of saluting each other, some things may be obiected, 1. Ioh. epist. 2. vers. 10. If there come any vnto you, and bring not this doctrine, receiue him not to house, neither bidde him, God speede. Answer. This place doth not forbid common ciuilitie and curtesie of man to man: but onely fami∣liaritie and acquaintance with heretickes: yea such acquaintance and familia∣ritie as may seeme to giue approbation and applause to their badde procee∣dings. II. Elisha sending Gehazi his seruant to lay his staffe on the dead 〈1 page duplicate〉Page [unnumbered]〈1 page duplicate〉Page [unnumbered]Page 724 childe of the Sunamite, bad him if he met any not to salute them, and if they spake to him not to answer them. 2. King. 4.29. And whē our Sauiour Christ sent his Disciples to preach in Iudea, he had them to salute no man by the way. Luk. 10.4 Answ. The intent of these two places is not to forbid men to salute others, but rather to inioyne Gehazi and the Disciples of Christ onely to o∣mit for that time the practise of the duties of common curtesie, so farre forth as they might hinder or delay the performance of weightier affaires.
Our answers must be soft, that anger be neither kindled nor increased.*A soft answer putteth away wrath, but grieuous words stirre vp anger. Nabal by churlish language prouoked Dauid to wrath, but Abigail by the contrarie appeased him. Gedeon spake gently to the men of Ephraim, when they were angrie against him, and appeased them. For the text saith,*When he had thus spoken, then their spirits abated towardes him. Therefore Salomon saith well, A ioy commeth to a man by the answer of his mouth, but how good is a word in due season.
Now if any shall raile on vs, our dutie is, not to raile againe.*Blesse them that persecute you, blesse, I say, and curse not. Be courteous, not rendring euill for e∣uill, neither rebuke for rebuke, but contrariwise blesse, knowing that ye be thereunto called, that you should be heyres of blessing. This thing was notably practised by Dauid, Psal. 109.4. For my friendship they were mine aduersaries, but I gaue my selfe to prayer. And therefore in this case, either silence is to be vsed, or at the most, onely a iust and manifest defence of our innocencie to be made. Eze∣chias commaunded the people to be silent,* and not to say any thing to the speech of Rabsachai now flattering now threatning. When Eli spake hardly of Anna, and bad her put away her drunkennes, shee answered,*Nay, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit, I haue neither drunke wine nor strong drinke, but haue powred out my soule before the Lord. Thus Ioseph cleares himselfe, saying,*I haue done nothing wherefore they should put me in the dungeon. And Daniel to Nabuchodonosor: Vnto thee, O King, haue I done no hurt. And our Sauiour Christ when the Iewes said vnto him,*Say we not true, that thou art a Samari∣tane and hast a deuill? answered, I haue not a deuill, but I honour my father, and ye haue dishonoured me. And Paul beeing to make an Apologie for himselfe, be∣ginnes thus:*Men and brethren, I haue in all good conscience serued God vnto this day.
Now when a man hath thus cleared himselfe, though his owne word in his owne behalfe take no effect, yet let him patiently commit his cause to God, who in time will manifest the truth, and bring it to light: as Dauid did,*Iudge me, O God, (saith he,) for I haue walked in min• innocencie. And againe,*The wic∣ked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him: but the Lord will not leaue him in his hand, nor condemne him when he is iudged.
Meekenes in reproofe is, when any shall admonish his brother of any fault for his amendment, with the like moderation that Chirurgeons vse, who bee∣ing to set the arme or legge that is forth of ioynt, handle it so tenderly, that the patient shall skant feele when the bone falls in againe. This counsell Paul gi∣ueth:*Brethren, if any man be fallen by occasion into any fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such a one (or set him in ioynt againe,) with the spirit of meeknes. This was practised by Abraham towards Lot, when their heardmen were at variance, Page 725 saying,*Let there be, I pray thee, no strife between thee & me, neither between mine heardmen and thine: for we are brethren.
And this is done foure waies. First, when we reproue a man generally, as Nathan did Dauid by a parable. Secondly,* when in the roome of a reproofe we put an exhortation: in the exhortation insinuating an oblique reproofe, as when a man shall sweare in his talke, I shall not neede alwaies to say, Ye do very il to sweare, and so to dishonour God: but I wil lap it vp in the forme of an exhor∣tation, as pills are lapt in sugar, by saying, Yea and nay, yea and nay shall serue a∣mong vs. Rebuke not an elder, but exhort him as a father, and young men as brethrē,* saith Paul to Timothie. Thirdly, when the reproofe is propounded in a mans own person, as though he were faultie which reprooueth. Paul practised this:*Now these things, brethren (saith he) I haue figuratiuely applied to mine owne selfe and Apollos for your sakes, that yee might learne by vs, that no man presume aboue that which is written. Fourthly, when the fault is directly reprooued, but yet partly with prefaces, that we doe it of loue, that we wish well to the partie,* that we speake as considering our selues, that wee also are in danger of the same fault: and partly by framing the reproofe out of the worde of God, that the partie may see himselfe, rather to be reprooued by God, then by vs: after this maner the inferiour may admonish his superiour, especially when there is no other way of redresse, and he is to listen, yeelding himselfe tractable. Naaman is aduised by his seruant, who said,*Father, if the Prophet had commanded thee a great thing, wouldst thou not haue done it: howe much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, & be cleane? Then went he downe and washed himselfe seauen times in Iordan.
When any shall in this manner be admonished of a fault, they are to yeelde themselues tractable and thankfull, and heartily glad of so good a friend. No∣table is the speech of the Psalmist:*Let the righteous smite me, it is a benefit: and let him reprooue me, it is the chiefe ointment, let it not be wanting to my head. And Salomon saith, A reproofe entreth more into him that hath vnderstanding, then an hundred stripes into a foole. And, Open rebuke is better then secret loue.