OF THE GOVERNEMENT OF THE TONGVE.
CHAP. I. Of the generall meanes of ruling the Tongue.
THE gouernement of the tongue is a vertue pertaining to the holy vsage of the tongue according to GODS word.
And for the well-ordering of it, two things are requi∣site: a pure heart, and skill in the language of Canaan.
The pure heart is most necessary, because it is the foun∣taine of speech, and if the fountaine be defiled,* the streames that issue thence can not be cleane.
And because the heart of man by nature is a bottomlesse gulfe of iniqui∣tie, two things are to be knowne: first, how it must be made pure: & then how it is alwaies afterward to be kept pure.
The way to get a pure heart is this. First, thou must seriously examine thy life and thy conscience, for all thy sinnes past: then with a heauie and bleeding heart confesse them to God, vtterly condemning thy selfe. Thirdly, with deepe sighes and groanes of spirit crie vnto heauen to God the father, in the name of Christ for pardon, I say, for pardon of the same sinnes, as it were for life and death, and that, day and night, till the Lord send downe from heauen a sweete certificate into thy perplexed conscience by his holy spirit, that all thy sinnes are done away. Now at the same instant in which pardon shall be graunted, God likewise will once againe stretch forth that mightie hand of his, whereby he made thee when thou wast not, to make thee a new creature, to create a new heart in thee, to renue a right spirit in thee, and to stablish thee by his free spirit. For whome he iustifieth, them also at the same time he san∣ctifieth.
The purified heart appeareth by these signes. I. If thou feele thy selfe to be displeased at thine owne infirmities and corruptions, and to droope vnder them as men doe vnder bodily sicknesse. II. If thou begin to hate and to flie thine owne personall sinnes. III. If thou feele a griefe and sorrow after thou hast offended God. IV. If thou heartily desire to abstaine from all manner of sinne. V. If thou be carefull to auoide all occasions and entisements to e∣uill. VI. If thou trauell and doe thine endeauour in euery good thing. VII. If thou desire and pray to God to wash and rinse thine heart in the blood of Christ.
When the heart is pure, to keepe it so is the speciall worke of faith,*which purifieth the heart.
Faith purifieth the heart by a particular applying of Christ crucified with all his merits. Elisha when he went vp and lay vpon the dead child, and put his mouth on his mouth, and his eyes vpon his eyes, and his hands vpon his hands,*and stretched himselfe vpon him, the flesh of the child waxed warme. Afterward Elisha rose and spread himselfe vpon him the second time:*then the child neezed seuen times and ope∣ned Page 714 his eies. So must a man by faith euen spread himselfe vpon the crosse of Christ, applying handes and feete to his pierced handes and feete, & his wret∣ched heart to Christs bleeding heart, and then he shall feele himselfe warmed by the heat of Gods spirit, and sinne from day to day crucified with Christ, & his dead heart quickened & reuiued. And this applying which faith maketh, is done by a kind of reasoning, which faith maketh thus. Hath god of his mer∣cie giuen his own sonne to be my Sauiour, to shed his blood for me? and hath he of his mercie graunted vnto me the pardon of all my sinnes? I will therfore endeauour to keepe my heart and my life vnblameable that I doe not offend him hereafter in word or deede, as I haue done heretofore.
*The language of Canaan is, whereby a man endued with the spirit of adopti∣on, vnfainedly calleth vpon the name of God in Christ, and so consequently doth as it were, familiarly talke and speake with God. This language must needes be learned, that the tongue may be well gouerned. For man must first be able to talke with God, before he can be able wisely to talke with man. For this cause when men are to haue communication one with another, they are first of all to bee carefull that they often make their praiers to God that hee would guide and blesse them in their speeches, as Dauid did, Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth, and keepe the doore of my lippes. And againe, O Lord open thou my lippes, and my mouth shall shewe forth thy praise.* Where we may see, that the mouth is, as it were locked vp from speaking any good thing, vntill the Lord open it. And Paul hauing the gift of ordering his tongue in wonderful measure,* yet desireth the Ephesians to pray for him, that vtterance might be giuē him, and good reason, because God ruleth the tongue.
CHAP. II. Of the matter of our speech.
THe gouernment of the tongue containeth two partes: holy speech, and holy silence. In holy speech must be cōsidered the matter of our speech, and the manner.
The matter is commonly one of these three: either God, our neighbour, or our selues.
As concerning God, this caueat must be remembred, that the honourable titles of his glorious Maiestie be neuer taken into our mouthes, vnlesse it bee vpon a weightie and iust occasion, so as wee may plainely see that glorie will redound to him thereby: and for this cause the third commandement was gi∣uen, that men might not take vp the name of God in vaine,* that is, rashly and lightly.
And therefore lamentable and fearefull is the practise euerie where. For it is a common thing with men to beginne their speech, and to place titles of Gods most high Maiestie in the fore-front almost of euery sentence, by say∣ing, O Lord! O God! O good God! O mercifull God! O Iesu! O Christ, &c. If a mā be to say any thing, he will not say, Yea, or Nay: but, O Lord yea: or, O Lord nay. If a man be to reprooue his inferiour, he will presently say, O Lord haue mercy on vs, what a slowbacke art thou, what a lie is this, &c. An earthly Prince, if hee Page 715 should haue his name so tossed in our mouthes at euery worde, would neuer beare it, and how shall the euerliuing God suffer it? nay how can hee suffer it? I say no more, but thou with thy selfe thinke how: for in the third commande∣ment the punishment is set down, That he will not hold him guiltlesse that taketh his name in vaine. And the Angels in reuerence to Gods Maiestie couer their faces, Isai. 6.2.
Concerning our neighbour, wee are to consider whether the thing which we are about to speake be good or euill.
This being weighed, if it be good, and so commendable, then we are readi∣ly and cheerefully, and that vpon euery occasion to vtter it, especially in his absence, whether he be a friend or a foe: as Saint Iohn writeth of Demetrius. Demetrius (saith he) hath good report of all men, and of the trueth it selfe: yea,*and we our selues beare record, and ye know that our testimonie is true.
As for the euill which any shall knowe by his neighbour, hee is in no wise to speake of it, whether it be an infirmitie or a grosse sinne, vnlesse in his con∣science he shall find himselfe called of God to speake.
A man is called to speak in three cases: First, when he is called before a ma∣gistrate, and is lawfully required to testifie the euil which he knoweth by ano∣ther. II. When any is to admonish his brother of any fault for his amendment. III. When the hurt or danger that may arise of the euil is to be preuented in others. As a man may say to one well disposed, Take heed of such a mans cō∣pany: for he is giuen to such or such a vice.
To this ende, they of the house of Cloe doe certifie Paul of the disorders in Corinth.* And Ioseph certifieth his father of his brethrens slanders. In this case all treasons are to be reuealed, as tending to the ruine of the whole common wealth. Thus Elisha reuealeth the secret of the king of Syria.
And if it shall be thought conuenient to mention the euil which we know by any man, it must be done onely in generall manner: the person and all cir∣cumstances which wil descrie the person, concealed.
Concerning things which are secret in our neighbour, we are not to be su∣spitious, but to suspēd both speech & iudgement.*Loue suspecteth no euill. Iudge nothing (saith Paul) before the time, vntill the Lord come, who will lighten thinges that are hid in darkenes, and make the counsels of the heart manifest. Augustine hath a good and speciall rule to this purpose, that there be three things of which we must giue no iudgement: Gods predestination, the Scriptures, and the estate of men vncalled.
As touching a mans selfe, hee is neither to praise nor dispraise him∣selfe. As Salomon saith,*Let another praise thee, and not thine owne mouth: a straunger, and not thine owne lippes. Yet otherwhiles the times doe fall out that a man may vse an holy kind of boasting, especially when the disgrace of the person is the disgrace also of the gospell, and of religion, and of God him∣selfe: as Paul did.*But wherein (saith he) any will vse boldnesse, (I speake foolishly) I will vse boldnes. They are Hebrewes, so am I, &c.
CHAP. III. Of the manner of our speech, and what must be done before we speake.
THus much of the matter of our speech. Nowe followeth the man∣ner.
In the manner of our speaking three things are to bee pondered: what must be done before we speake: what in speaking: what after wee haue spo∣ken.
Before we speake, consideration must bee vsed of the thing to be spoken, and of the ende. Iames requireth that men should be slowe to speake, and swift to heare. Salomon saith,*Hee that answereth a matter before he heare it, it is folly and shame to him. The minde is the guid of the tongue: therefore men must consi∣der before they speake. The tongue is the messenger of the heart, and there∣fore as oft as we speake without meditation going before, so oft the messen∣ger runneth without his arrand. The tongue is placed in the middle of the mouth,a and it is compassed in with lips and teeth as with a double trench, to shewe vs, howe we are to vse heede and preconsideration before wee speake: and therefore it is good aduise, to keep the key of the mouth not in the mouth but in the cupbord of the mouth. Augustine saith well, that as in eating and drinking men make choice of meates:* so in manifolde speeches wee should make choice of talke.
Here are condemned idle words, that is, such wordes as are spoken to little or no end or purpose. And they are not to be esteemed as little sinnes,* when as men are to giue account of euery idle word.
CHAP. IV. What is to be done in speaking; and of wisdome.
VVHen we are in speaking, two things are to bee practised: first, care must be had of the speech, that it be gratious: secondly, it is to be vt∣tered with conuenient bonds of trueth.
The speech is gratious, whē it is so vttered, that the graces of god wrought in the heart by the holy Ghost,* are as it were pictured and painted forth in the same: for speech is the very image of the heart.
*Contrarie to this is rotten speech, that is, all such talke as is voide of grace, which is the heart and pith of our speech.
And by this it appeareth, that no voice can bee named but with disliking:* and hereupon in Scriptures when by occasion a vice should be named, in to∣ken of a loathing thereof, the name of the vice is omitted, and the name of the contrarie vertue vsed in the roome thereof, as in these wordes: For Iob thought, It may be that my sonnes haue sinned and blessed, that is, blasphemed God.* This be∣ing true, then by proportion the visible representation of the vices of men in the world,* which is the substance and matter whereof plaies and enterludes are made, is much more to be auoided.
*Gods graces, which we are to shew forth in our communication are thes• Wisdome, Truth, Reuerence, Modestie, Meekenes, Sobrietie in iudgement, Vrbanitie, Fidelitie, Care of others good name: and let vs consider of them in order.
Page 717Wisdome in our speech is a goodly ornament. The Apostles when they waited for the holy Ghost in Ierusalem, it descended vpon them in the forme of fierie tongues:* & then it is said that they spake as the holy Ghost gaue them vt∣terance in Apophthegmes or wise sentences. And hee that gouerns his tongue wisely addeth doctrine to the lips, that is, so speaketh, as that others be made wise thereby.
This wisedome is then shewed, when a man can in iudgement apply his talke, and as it were in good manner make it fit to al the circumstances of per∣sons times, places, things.*A foole poureth out all his minde, but a wise man keepeth in till afterward. A word spoken in his place, is like apples of gold with pictures of siluer.
Now he that would haue his speech to be wise, must first of al himselfe be∣come a wise man. And the wise man of whome the holy scriptures speake, is a godly man, and such an one as feareth God: because this feare of God is the beginning and head of wisdome:* as on the contrarie, the foole, whereof the scrip∣ture often speaketh, is the vngodly person, that maketh no conscience of any sinne. And indeede such an one is the most sensles foole of all. He that shall e∣uer and anon be casting himselfe into the fire and water, and run vpon dan∣gerous places to breake his legges, armes, necke: and further shal take pleasure in doing all this, is either a foole or a mad man. Now the vngodly man as oft as he sinneth, he endeuoureth as much as in him lieth to pitch his soule into hell, and whereas he taketh pleasure in sinne, he sports himselfe with his owne destruction.
Furthermore the man fearing god must haue two things in his heart: a per∣swasion of Gods presence; and Awe.
The perswasion of Gods presence is, whereby a man is continually resol∣ued, that whersoeuer he is, he standeth before God, who doth see euē into the secrets of his heart. This was in Cornelius:*Now therfore (saith he) we are in gods presence to heare all things that are commanded thee of God.
Awe in regard of God, is that whereby a man behaueth himselfe reuerent∣ly, because he is in Gods presence.
Awe is either in regard of sinne, or of chastisements.
Awe in respect of sinne, is when one is afraid to sinne, fearing not so much the punishment, as sinne it selfe, because it is sinne. For he feareth God indeed which is of this minde, that if there were no Iudge to condemne him; no hel to torment him; no deuil nor conscience to accuse him; yet hee would not sinne, because Gods blessed Maiestie is by it offended and displeased: and if hee had it in his choice, whether he would sinne or loose his life, he had rather die thē willingly and wittingly sinne against God. This awe being in Ioseph, was the cause that moooued him not to commit folly with Putiphars wife.*How then (saith he) can I doe this great wickednes, and sinne against God?
Awe in chastisements is, when one humbleth himselfe vnder the mightie hand of God with all meekenes and patience, when God laieth his hand on him more or lesse. When Shemi came foorth and cursed Dauid, and flung stones at him, what did he? truely he stood in awe of God, and therefore said,*What haue I to doe with you, ye sonnes of Zeruiah? for hee curseth, euen because the Page 718 Lord hath bidden him curse Dauid, who dare then say, Wherefore hast thou done so?
When a man is thus made wise, that is, righteous and fearing God, he is so guided by the spirit of feare, that he can not but speake wisely. Salomon saith, The lippes of the righteous know what is acceptable: but the mouth of the wicked speaketh froward things.* And againe, The heart of the wise guideth the mouth wisely.
Contrarie to this is fonde and foolish talke: an example hereof we haue in Luke, where Pilate wanting the feare of God, saith, I finde no fault in Christ: let vs therefore chastise him, and send him away.* Whereas he ought to haue rea∣soned thus: I finde no fault in him: therefore let vs send him away without chastise∣ment.
CHAP. V. Of Truth, and of Reuerence in speech.
TRuth of speech is a vertue whereby a man speaketh as he thinketh: and so consequently, he speaketh as euery thing is, so farre forth as possibly he can. It is made a note of a righteous man,*to speake the truth from the heart: and they that deale truly are Gods delight.
This is alwaies required in all our doctrines, accusations, defences, testimo∣nies, promises, bargainings, counsels:* but especially in Iudges and Magistrates sitting on iudgement seat, because then they stand in Gods stead, who is truth it selfe.
To this place belongeth Apologie, which is, when a Christian called before a Magistrate,* and straightly examined of his religion, confesseth Christ bold∣ly, and denieth not the truth.
Contrarie to this, is lying, cogging, glosing, smoothing, dissembling: as for example, Gehazi, after he had receiued money and garments of Naaman the Syrian against Elishas will,* he went and stood before his master, who said vn∣to him, Whence commest thou, Gehazi? who making it nothing to lie for a vantage, smoothed it ouer finely, and said, Thy seruant went no whither. To the like effect and purpose, report is made of a rich man that had two chests: the one whereof he calleth all the world, the other his friend. In the first he putteth nothing: in the second he putteth all his substance. When his neighbour came to borrow money, he vseth to answer, truly I haue neuer a pennie in all the world, meaning his emptie chest, but I will see (saith he) what my friend can doe, looking thereby for interest by the money out of his other chest.
This vice is very common, and it is a rare thing to finde a man that maketh a conscience of a lie.
Lying is, when a man speaketh otherwise then the truth is, with a purpose to deceiue. Here note that there is great difference betweene these two spee∣ches, It is an vntruth, and, It is a lie. The first may be vsed when a man speaketh falshoods. But in vsing the second, we must be heedie and sparing: for when a man is chalenged for a lie, three things are laid to his charge. I. That he spea∣keth falsly. II. That he is willing to doe so. III. That he hath a desire and purpose to deceiue.
Page 719Quest. Whether may not a man lie, if it be for the procuring of some great good to our neighbour, or to the whole countrey where we are?
Ans. No: Reasons are these. I. Lying is forbidden, aas an abomination to the Lord. II. cWe are not to doe any euill that good may come thereof. III. He which lieth, in so doing conformeth himselfe to the deuil, who cis a lier and the father thereof.
Obiect. I. Such lying is for our neighbours good and not against charitie.
Ans. No: for dcharitie reioyceth in the truth.
Obiect. II. The holy Scriptures haue mentioned the lies of the Patri∣arkes.
Ans. We must not liue by examples against rules of Gods word.
Obiect. III. Rahab and the midwiues of Egypt in sauing the spies, and in preseruing the Israelites infants vsed lying, and are commended for their facts.
Ans. They are commended for their faith, not for their lying. The workes which they did, were excellent works of mercie, and the•efore to be allowed: and the doers failed onely in the manner of performing them.
As truth is required in speech, so also reuerence to God and man.
Reuerence to God is, when we so speake of God and vse his titles, that we shew reuerence our selues, and more reuerence in others.*If thou wilt not keepe (saith the Lord) and doe all the wordes of this law (that are written in this booke) and feare the glorious and fearefull name, THE LORD THY GOD, then the Lord will make thy plagues wonderfull.
Here take heede of all maner of blaspheming, which is, when men vse such speeches of God, as doe either detract any thing from his Maiestie, or ascribe any thing to him, not beseeming him: a sinne of all other to be detested. Rea∣sons. I. A blasphemer is viler then the rest of the creatures: for they praise God in their kind, and shew forth his power, goodnesse, and wisdome: but he dishonoureth God in his wretched speech. II. He is as the madde dogge that flieth in his masters face, who keepeth him and giueth him bread. III. Cu∣stome in blas•hemies sheweth a man to be the child of the deuill, and no child of God as yet. A father lying on his death bedde, called the three children to him which he kept, and told them that one only of them was his owne sonne, and that the rest were onely brought vp by him: therefore vnto him he gaue all his goods: but which of these was his naturall sonne he would not in any wise declare. When he was deade, euery one of the three children pleaded that he was the sonne, and therefore that the goods were his. The matter beeing brought before a Iudge could not be ended: but the Iudge was constrained to take this course: he caused the dead corpes of the father to be set vp against a tree, and commaunded the three sonnes to take bowes and ar∣rowes, and to shoote against their father, and to see who could come neerest the heart. The first and second did shoote at their father and did hi••e him, the third was angrie with both the other through naturall affection of a child to a father, and refused to shoote. This done, the Iudge gaue sentence that the two first were no sonnes, but the third onely, and that he should haue the goods. The like triall may be vsed to know who be Gods children. Page 720 Such persons with whome blaspheming is rife, are very deuills incarnate, and the children of the deuill, who rende God in pieces, and shoote him through with their darts, as it is said of the Egyptian when he blasphemed, that he smote or pierced through Gods Name.* Magistrates and rulers seuerally punish such as shall abuse their names, and they doe it iustly: how much more then should blasphemers of Gods name escape without great punishment.
Againe, here we must be warned to take heede of that customable swea∣ring, and also of periurie. It is a very straunge sinne: for the periuried person doth not onely sinne himselfe, but withall he endeauoureth to intangle God in the same sinne with himselfe.
Further, take heede least thou dost either make or recite the iests which are contriued out of the phrases of Scripture: which are very many and very vsu∣ally rehearsed in companie. The oyle wherewith the tabernacle and the arke of the Testament and the Priests were annointed,* was holy: and therefore no man might put it to any other vses, as to annoint his owne flesh therewith, or to make the like vnto it. a Pilate a poore Painym when he heard the name of the Sonne of God was afraid: and we much more ought to tremble at the word of God, not to make our selues merrie with it. And therefore the scof∣fing of Iulian the Apostata is very fearefull, who was wont to reach Christi∣ans boxes on the eare, and withall, bid them turne the other, and obey their masters commandement,*Whosoeuer shall smite thee on the right cheeke, turne to him the other also. And he denied pay and like reward to his souldiers that were Christians, because he said he would make them fit for the kingdome of heauen, considering that Christ had said, Blessed are the poore in spirit: for theirs is the kingdome of heauen.
Here also men must learne to take heede of all maner of charmes and en∣chantments, which commonly are nothing els but words of Scripture or such like, vsed for the curing of paines and diseases both in men and beasts. As for example, the first words of S. Iohns Gospel, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, &c. are vsed to be written in a paper and hung about mens necks to cure agues. But the truth is, such kind of practises are deuillish. Patrons of charmes hold that in such words as are either diuine or barbarous, is much efficacie. But whence is this efficacie? from God? from men? or from the deuill? If it shall be saide from God; we must know that the word vsed in holy manner, is the instrument of God to conuey vnto vs spirituall blessings, as faith, regeneration, repentance: but it doth not serue to bring vnto vs cor∣porall health. Well then, belike words take vertue from the speaker, and are made powerfull by the strēgth of his imagination. Indeed of this opinion are some Phisitians, as Avicenna and Paracelsus,* who thinke that phantasie is like to the sunne, which worketh on all things to which his beames doe come, and the latter that by imagination miracles may be wrought. But this opinion is fond, and the reasons alledged for it are without weight. For imaginations are no things but shadows of things. And as an image of a man in a glasse hath no power in it, but onely serues to resemble and represent the bodie of a man: so it is with the phantasie and conceit of the mind, and no otherwise. And if i∣magination haue any force, it is onely within the spirits and humours of a Page 721 mans own bodie: but to giue force to worke in the bodies of others it can not; no more then the shadow of one bodie can ordinarily cure the bodie of ano∣ther on which it lighteth. Wherefore words vsed in the way of bodily cure, be they in themselues neuer so good, are no better then the deuills sacraments: and when they are vsed of blinde people, he it is, that comming vnder hand, worketh the cure, and by turning himselfe into an angel of light, deludes thē. But it were better for a man to die a thousand times then to vse such reme∣dies, which in curing the bodie, destroy the soule.
Lastly, auoide all imprecations and cursings, either against men or other creatures: for God in iudgement to punish such cursed speaking, often brings to passe such imprecations: as may appeare in the Iewes, who at the arraign∣ment of Christ, cried, saying,*His blood be vpon vs and vpon our children: which imprecation is verified vpon them till this day. At Newburge in Germanie a certaine mother cursed her sonne, saying,*Get thee away, I would thou mightest neuer come againe aliue: the very same day he went into the water and was drowned. Againe, a mother brought her child to the Vniuersitie of Witten∣berge, by reason he was possessed with an vncleane spirit: beeing demaunded how it came to passe, shee answered in the hearing of many, that in her anger shee said, The deuill take thee, and thereupon presently the child was possessed. And in our countrey men often wish the plague, the poxe, the pestilence to their children, their seruants, their cattell: and often it falls out accordingly.
In the daies of king Edward, certaine English souldiers (as I am certenly in∣formed by a witnesse then present) being by a tempest cast vpon the sands on the coast of France, gaue themselues to praiers, and commended their soules to God, as in so great danger it was meete: but one among the rest, desperatly minded went apart and cried out, saying, O gallowse claime thy right, gallowse claime thy right. Now the said partie among the rest (as God would haue it) e∣scaped safe to land; and afterward liuing some space of time in France, retur∣ned againe to England, where he was hanged for stealing of horses: and thus according to his desire the gallow•e claimed her right.
Reuerence to man is in two respects, either because he is created after the image of God, or because he is aboue vs in age, gifts, authoritie.
In the first consideration, men must haue care to giue such names to chil∣dren as are proper and fit, vsuall, and knowne: the signification whereof may admonish them of the promises of God; of godlines, or of some good dutie. And there be foure allowed ends of giuing names. I. To preserue the memo∣rie of some thing by the name giuen, as Adam, Israel, Isaac. II. To signifie some thing to come, as Euah, Abraham, Iohn, Peter. III. To preserue the name and memorie of parents and kinred, which was vsed in the birth of Iohn Baptist. This custome may still be retained, if there be any good exam∣ple in the ancetours that the child may follow. IV. That the life and profes∣sion of good men may be reuiued in the renuing of their names.
Here we must take heede, in no wise to giue to children, the proper names or titles of God, as Iesus, Immanuel, &c.
Neither are the professours of the Gospel to be intituled by the names of such as haue beene famous instruments in the Church, as to be called Calvi∣nists, Page 722 Lutherans, &c.*Now this I say, that euery one of you saith, I am Pauls, and I am Apollos, I am Cephas, and I am Christs: Is Christ deuided? was Paul crucified for you? either were ye baptized in the name of Paul?
And it is a bolde part of the pestilent generation of Papists, who take to themselues the name of Iesuits,* whereas the like name of Christian was giuen to the disciples at Antioch not by the deuise of man, but by diuine oracle.
As the changing off the name giuen in baptisme is not to be allowed: so the varying of it according to the varietie of language, (if neither hurt nor fraud to any be intended thereby) is not vnlawfull. Vpon this ground Saul is called Paul: and Christ cals Simon his disciple otherwhiles Cephas, otherwhiles Pe∣ter. And very worthie Diuines in this age, that their writings might be read of the aduersaries, haue in like sort without offence varied their names. Melan∣cthon calls himselfe Dydimus Faventinus, and Melangaeus. Bucer intitles himselfe Aretius Felinus: and Theodore Beze once writ himselfe Nathaniel Nezechius.
Reuerence to man as he is superiour, is in vsing fit titles of reuerence. Sara is commended in Scriptures for obeying her husband, and for calling him Syr. But excesse must here be auoided,* when titles of honour proper to God are giuen to men, as head of the Catholike church to the Pope, Ladie and Queene of heauen to the mother of Christ. This fault Christ reprooueth in the young man, saying,*Why callest thou me good, there is none good but God.
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.
CHAP. VII. Of Sobrietie, Vrbanitie, Fidelitie, and care of others good name.
SObrietie in iudgement is, when a man either suspendeth his opinion of his neighbours sayings or doings, or else speaketh as charitably as hee can, by saying as little as may bee, if the thing bee euil: or by interpreting all in better part, if the speech or action be doubtfull. Therefore doe thus; despise not thy neighbour, but thinke thy selfe as bad a sinner, and that the like defects may befall thee. If thou canst not excuse his doing, excuse his intent, which may be good: or if the deede be euill, thinke it was done of ignorance: if thou canst no way excuse him, think some great temptation befel him, & that thou shouldst be worse, if the like temptation befel thee: and giue God thanks that the like as yet hath not befallen thee. Despise not a man beeing a sinner, for though hee be euil to day, he may turne to morrowe.
Here is condemned all headie and rash iudgement,* whereby men make things either worse then they are, or else they take and turne all things to the worse part. Thus the deuil dealt with Iob, saying,*Doeth Iob feare God for Page 726 nought, &c. but stretch out thine hand now and touch all that hee hath, to see if hee will not blaspheme thee to thy face. Such was the dealing of Doeg with Dauid,*I saw the sonne of Ishai (saith he) when hee came to Abimelech the sonne of Ahitub, who asked counsell of the Lord for him, and gaue him victuals, and he gaue him also the sword of Goliah the Philistim. Here the backebiter concealeth the necessary circumstances, whereby Abimelech might haue bene excused, as that Dauid asked bread beeing hungrie, and that he told not Abimelech that hee was out of Sauls fauour: but he turneth al his speech to this end, to bring the priest in∣to suspition with Saul.
Thus the Pharises dealt.*Iohn came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, he hath a deuill. The sonne of man came eating and drinking, & they say, Behold a glut∣ton, and a drinker of wine, and a friend of Publicans and sinners.
Contrarie to this Sobrietie is Flatterie, whereby for hope either of fauour or gaine, men, and especially such as are of dignitie and place, are soothed vp in their sinnes, and extolled aboute measure, euen to their faces. As when He∣rod arrayed in royall apparell, and sate on the iudgement seat and made an o∣ration, the people gaue a shout, saying,*The voice of God, and not of man. But marke what Salomon saith,*Hee that praiseth his friend with a loud voice rising early in the morning: it shall be counted to him for a curse. One being asked which was the worst of all beasts, answered, Of wild beasts, the tyrant: of tame beasts the flatterer. And another said, that flatterers were worse then crowes: for they eate onely dead carrion, these feede on liuing men.
And of all kinds of Flatterie, that is the worst when a man shall speak faire to his neighbours face and praise him; but behind his backe speake his plea∣sure, and euen cut his throat. Dauid complaineth of his familiar friend•* that the words of his mouth were softer then butter, yet warre was in his heart: that his words were more gentle then oile, yet they were swordes. The Pharises behinde Christs backe tooke counsell howe they might intangle him in talke; but be∣fore his face they say,*Master, we knowe that thou art true, and teachest the way of God truely, neither carest thou for any man: for thou considerest not the person of men.
Vrbanitie, is a grace of speech, whereby men in seemely manner vse plea∣santnesse in talke for recreation, or for such delight as is ioyned with profit to themselues and others. The Preacher saith,*There is a time to laugh → , and a time to weepe. When the Lord brought againe the captiuitie of Sion, wee were like them that dreame. Then was our mouth filled with ← laughter → , and our tongue with ioy.
Nowe this mirth must bee ioyned with the feare of God, otherwise Salo∣mon saith well, I haue said to ← laughter → , thou art mad: and of ioy, what is that tho• doest? And Christ saieth,*Woe to you that now ← laugh → , for ye shall weepe. Secondly with compassion and sorrow for Gods people in affliction and miserie. They drinke wine in bowles, and annoint themselues with cheiefe ointments, but no man is sorry for the affliction of Ioseph. Thirdly, it must be sparing and moderate. Paul condemneth such as are louers of pleasures, more then of God.* Fourthly, it must be voide of the practise of sinne.* Moses is commended that he refused the plea∣sures of sinne.
*The vsuall time of mirth is at meates. And here Sampsons practise may be Page 727 followed, who at his marriage feast propounded a riddle or hard question to his friends. And Ambrose thinketh that hee did this to stoppe the mouthes of talkers, and to occupie their wits.
With all it must be remembred to be a Christian dutie, euen at the table to maintaine talke of religion,* and of duties of godlinesse, after the practise of our Sauiour Christ: though many vpon little ground thinke otherwise. Tertullian recordeth of the Christians of his time,* that they vsed in their loue-feasts to talke togither, as considering with themselues that they had God himselfe as an eare-witnesse to them. ← Chrysostome → of this point saith well.*I would to God (saith he) that in tauerns and feasts, and at bathes, men would talke and dispute of hell: for the remembring of hell would hinder a man from falling to hell. And it was the manner of the primitiue Church at Dinner and supper to vse the rea∣ding of the Scriptures.*When yee come to the table (saith Augustine) heare that which is read according to custome, without any stirre or striuing: that your mouthes may not onely receiue the meat, but your eares may hunger after the word of God. And this ancient custome is to this day retained in the Colledges of the Vni∣uersitie of Cambridge.
And this holy reioycing at meates is specially to bee vsed with such as are godly. As Salomon saith,* that he which eateth at the couetous mans table, shal vo∣mit his morsells, and shall loose his sweete wordes. The faithfull at Ierusalem did breake bread togither, with gladnes and singlenes of heart.
Question. Whether iesting be tollerable in any sort, or not?
Answer. That iesting which standeth in quippes, taunts, and girdes, which serueth onely for the offence of some, with the delight of others is not tollera∣ble: because all speech must edifie, and minister grace to the hearers:* neither doth it agree with Christian grauitie and modestie. But two kindes of iesting are tol∣lerable: the one is moderate and sparing mirth, in the vse of things indifferent, [unspec 1] in season conuenient, without the least scandall of any man, and with profit to the hearers. The second is that which the Prophets vsed, when they iested a∣gainst [unspec 2] wicked persons yet so, as withall they sharpely reprooued their sinnes. At noone Eliah mocked them, and said, Crie aloud, for hee is a God:*either he talketh or pursueth his enemies, or is in his iourney, or it may bee he sleepeth and must be awaked.
As for ← laughter → , it may be vsed: otherwise God would neuer haue giuen that power and faculty vnto man: but the vse of it must be both moderate and seldome,* as sorrowe for our sinnes is to be plentifull and often. This we may learne in Christs example, of whome wee reade that hee wept three times, at the destruction of Ierusalem, at the raising of Lazarus, and in his agonie: but we neuer read that he ← laughed → . And specially remember the saying of Chry∣sostome. Si risus in Ecclesia diaboli opus est, that is, to mooue ← laughter → in the Church, is the worke of the deuill.
Fidelitie is constancy in all our lawefull sayings and promises.
A promise is to be made with this condition (if God will) and then if a man be preuented by death,* or by any like meanes, he is not to blamed: otherwise a mans lawefull word and promise bindeth him according to the will & plea∣sure of him to whome it is made.
Page 728Nowe if afterward it be hurtfull to him that made it, hee may craue to bee free from his promise:* and libertie beeing graunted, take it. But a promise bound with an oath is to be kept, though priuate hinderances followe: yet so, as the Magistrate may order the matter, and proceede in equitie, that the dam∣mage may be the lesse.
The last grace which is to bee vsed in speech, is care of our neighbours good name,* which is farre better to him then great riches.
Here is condemned the tale bearer, which of an euill minde telleth a thing of an other, to bring him into hatred, or to reuenge himselfe, or to get some∣thing, which otherwise he could not obtaine.
This tale bearing is of diuers sortes. One is, when men whisper abroad se∣cretly the fault of another,* whereas they should rather admonish the partie, as Cham when he had seene his fathers nakednes, ran straight and tolde his bre∣thrē. The secōd, whē they adde to or chāge the thing said or done, as it serueth for their purpose. Some of the witnesses which came against Christ, charged him to say, I will destroy this temple which is made with handes, and in three daies build another without handes. Where first they change his meaning; for Christ spake of the temple of his bodie. Secondly, they adde to the words, For Christ said not,*I will destroy this temple: but, destroy ye this temple. Therefore the holy Ghost noteth them with the name of false witnesse bearers. The third, when men surmisse, and tell that which was neuer done. When Ieremy was going out of Ierusalem to the land of Beniamin, and was in the gate of Beniamin, I∣rijah tooke him and said, Thou fliest to Chaldeans. Then said Ieremie, that is false, I flie not to the Chaldeans, but hee would not heare him.* The fourth is the coloured tale-bearing, when one speaketh euill of another, with fine pre∣faces & preamples, faining that he is very sorrie that his neighbour hath done such or such a thing: that he speaketh it not of malice, but of a good mind: that he is constrained to speake: that he speaketh not all he could speake: that the partie to whome the tale is tolde must keepe it secret. Luther writeth of this fault very well.*This vice (saith he) whereby wee tell abroad the things which wee heare of others, and take them in worse part is very rife, and of great force to sowe discords: the rather, because it often shewes it selfe vnder the pretence and name of counsell and good aduise. And it is a notable vizard for a talebearer to transforme himselfe into an angel of light, and vnder zeale for Gods glorie to backbite and accuse his neighbour of heresie, errour, and wicked life.
Therefore the Prophets meaning is, that we should conceale the euils that bee in our neighbour, and not speake them to others, though hee be an enemie and de∣serue it at our handes, and onely speake of those good things in him which seeme to preserue concord: for this we would that men should doe vnto vs. Yea, and let vs take heede that we iudge not or condemne any mans saying or doing rashly.* Augustine saith, that this was the care which his mother had towards her enemies. To doe this is a notable point of iust dealing, but indeede there is no man vtterly without this fault in this life: such is our wretched state in this world. For though some are of this minde, that they desire not to haue other mens wants tolde them, and will not take all in worse part, yet if they bee tolde and taken in worse part of others, they can willingly heare them,*neither will they checke the teller, but suffer bad surmises Page 729 to take place with them. But Gedaliah the sonne of Ahicham excelled in the con∣trarie vertue, who •hose rather to hazard his life, then to suspect euill by Ismael.
This tale-bearing is the common table talke in England: and it is wonder∣full to see, how those who are otherwise godly, are ouertaken with it: but men must learn to stand more in awe of Gods cōmandement, and also to consider that the same thing a man speaketh of another, commeth home againe by his owne doore. Such as vse tale-bearing and backbiting, are by Gods iust iudge∣ment paid home in the same kind: and hereupon Christ saith, Iudge not that ye be not iudged, for with what iudgement ye iudge, ye shall be iudged. Wherefore when men shall enter any euill communication of others, we are to interrupt it by other talke, as not regarding it.
Here remember, that when gouernours and magistrates shall vse hard words, not in the way of defamation, but for the reproouing of a vice, it is not to slaunder:* as, O foolish Galatians: O generation of vipers. And Christ tearmeth Herod, Foxe.
CHAP. VIII. Of the bondes of Truth.
THus much of grace in speech. Now followeth bonds of truth, whereby the truth of our talke is testified and confirmed.
There are three: A simple assertion, an asseueration, an oath.
A simple assertion, is either a simple affirmation, as yea, yea: or a simple ne∣gation, as nay, nay. And they are to be vsed onely in our familiar and common talke.*Let your communication be yea, yea: nay, nay: and whatsoeuer is more, commeth of euill.
If the trueth which wee affirme or denie be doubtfull or contingent, then such clauses as these [It is so, or, it is not so as I thinke, as I remember, as I take it] are to be added. If one shall say, It is so, and afterwards it prooue otherwise, he receiueth discredit, because he spake an vntruth. But if he shall say, I thinke it is so, though it fall out otherwise, yet he saueth his credit, because he deceiueth not, but onely is deceiued.
An asseueration is a forme of speech, wherby one doth vehemently affirme or denie any thing: as when a man shall say, Verily, in truth, in very truth, with∣out all doubt, &c. These and such like are not to be vsed at euery word: but then onely when a truth of greater importance is to be confirmed. When the false prophets among the Iewes and the Priests would not beleeue that Ieremie was sent of God: what saith he? not simply, The Lord hath sent me: but, In truth the Lord hath sent me. Our Sauiour Christ, when he vsed to speake any weigh∣tie matter, vsed to say, Amen, Amen, Verily, verily, which is a plain asseueration: for Amen is more then a simple affirmation, and it is lesse then an oath, as the very sense of the word doth import: which is no more, but truly, certenly.
The third is an oath, which must not be made by any thing in heauen or earth, but onely by the Name of God alone.
It must be vsed as the last refuge and remedie of all. For when any truth of great importance is to be confirmed, and all signes, euidences, proofes, witnes∣ses, faile among men on earth: then we may lawfully fetch the Lord as a wit∣nesse from heauen, who is the knower of all truth.
And in this case an oath may be taken; either publikely before a Magi∣strate, Page 730 or priuately among priuate persons, if it bee done with reuerence and consideration,* as it was betweene Iacob and Laban.
CHAP. IX. What is to be done when we haue spoken.
*AFter a man hath spoken his minde, very few words more are to be added. He that hath knowledge spareth his wordes. In many wordes there can not want iniquitie: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.
He that speaketh many wordes, speaketh either false things or superfluous, or both: as when a riuer ouerflowes, the water gathereth much slime: so many wordes, many faults. When a vessell being smitten makes a great noise, it is a token that it is emptie: and so the sound of many wordes shewes a vaine heart. The Gentiles haue said; that God gaue a man one tongue and two eares, that he might heare more and speake lesse. Valerius Maximus reporteth of Xe∣nocrates, that beeing in the company of some that vsed railing speeches, helde his tongue: and beeing asked why hee did so, answered, That it had re∣pented him that he had spoken, but it neuer repented him that he had held his peace. And the prouerb is, He that will speake what he will, shall heare what hee would not.* To the framing of our speech Ambrose requireth three things: a yoke, a ballance, and a metwand: a yoke, to keepe it in staied grauitie: a ballance to giue it weight of reason: a metwand, to keepe it in measure and modera∣tion.
This rule must be practised carefully, for the auoiding of chiding, braw∣ling, and contention. Let nothing be done by contention, Phil. 2.3. Let students & schollers learne to practise this: for what shall an other mans opiniō hurt thee: though in reasoning he be not of thy minde in euery point.
Here take heed of the spirit of Contradiction, whereby some by thwarting and contradicting euery man, at length prooue either obstinate heretickes, or lewd Atheists, and make no bones to contradict the holy Ghost, and to call the scriptures in question, and dispute that there is no God.
*Nowe if a man speake necessarie things, though he continue his speech till midnight, as Paul did, it can not be called immoderate or superfluous talke.
CHAP. X. Of writing.
ALL this which is set downe concerning speech, must as wel be practised in writing as in speaking. Whereby are condemned ballads, bookes of loue, all idle discourses and histories, beeing nothing els but enticements and baites vnto manifold sinnes, fitter for Sodome and Gomorrah, then for Gods Church. And it must be followed as well in speaking of latine or any other tongue, as English, which students haue not marked; for whereas they wil not sweare in English, yet in Latine they make no bones of it, saying, Mehercuse, mediùs, fidiùs, aedipol, per deos immortales. And whereas they hold but one God in iudgement, yet in their Latine exercises they speake of Iupiter and of the im∣mortall Gods• after the manner of the heathen. What a shame is this, that a Christian, and that in Christian schooles, should either be ashamed or not vse to speake as a Christian, but as Atheists doe? If thou haue many tongues and knowest not how to vse them well: he which hath but his mother tongue, or∣dering it aright, is a better linguist then thou.
CHAP. XI. Of silence.
VVIse and godly silence is as excellent a vertue as holy speech: for hee knoweth not howe to speake which knoweth not howe to hold his tongue. The rule of our silence must be the law of God. By meanes of which, wise consideration must be had, whether the thing which wee haue in minde be for Gods glorie, and our neighbours good: which done, we are answerably to speake or to be silent.
Here must be considered the things of which •ilence must be vsed, and the persons before whome. The things are many. First, if any truth be to the hin∣derance of Gods glorie, or of the good of our neighbour, it must be cōcealed.
The concealing of the truth is either in whole or in part. In whole, when the speaking of the least word is hurtfull:* As for example, the father and the sonne are both sicke at once: the sonne dieth first, the father asketh whether his sonne be dead or not: if it be said no, an vntrueth is tolde: if yea, then the fa∣thers griefe is increased, and his death hastened: therefore silence is the best. In daies of persecution holy Martyrs haue chosen rather to suffer death then to reueale their brethren, that haue beene of their priuate assemblies with them.
The concealing of a thing in part is, when a man speaketh a little of the trueth, and concealeth the rest. Which is warranted in all good and lawefull proceedings, which manifestly tend to the glory of god. Whē Samuel is sent to annoint Dauid, he answereth the Lord and saith,*Howe can I goe? for if Saul heare of it he will kill me. Then the Lord answered, Take an heyfer with thee & say, I am come to doe sacrifice to the Lord: and call for Ishai to sacrifice, and I will shewe thee what thou shalt doe, and thou shalt annoint vnto me him whome I shal name vn∣thee. When Ieremie had shewed king Zedekiah howe he might escape death, then the king said vnto him,*Let no man know of these wordes, &c. but if the prin∣ces vnderstand that I haue talked with thee, and they come vnto thee, and say vnto thee, Declare vnto vs what the king hath said vnto thee, &c. then shalt thou say vn∣to them, I humbly besought the king that hee would not cause me to returne to Ieho∣nathans house to die there. And afterward he so answered, and the matter was not perceiued. The like practised by Paul, Acts 23.6.
Secondly thou art to conceale thine owne secrets. Sampson reuealing his owne secret, Iudg. 14. ouerthrew himselfe. If thou desire ease by reuealing, thē tell them but to few, and to such as are faithfull.
That which thou wouldest not haue knowne, tell no man: for howe shall another keepe thy counsell, when thou canst not doe it. Keepe thy friends se∣cret likewise, if it be not hurtfull; and let ministers conceale the sinnes & wants that trouble the cōscience of such as are dying. Let magistrats conceale things done in the Senate, especially concerning warre, least they bee reuealed to the enemie.
If God bring any strange thing to passe, speake not boldly of it, but ra∣ther in silence wonder. Iob at the consideration of Gods maiesty in his works, saith,*Beholde, I am vile, what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand vpon my mouth. Nadab and Abihu for offering incense with strange fire, before the Lord, were both destroyed with fire, which beeing done, Moses told Aaron that god would be sanctified in thē that come nere him, & be glorified before Page 732 all the people:* and then the text saith, but Aaron held his peace. When Peter had taught the Gentiles, and after returned to Hierusalem, they of the circum∣cision contended with him: he then rendreth a reason of his fact, which beeing made, they were silent. For so the text is, When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God.* When Gods iudgements befal men among vs, if we speake any thing we must iudge charitably. Blessed is he that iudgeth wisely of the poore, the Lord shall deliuer him in the day of trouble.*
Thirdly, the infirmities and sinnes of our neighbour are alwaies to be con∣cealed, vnlesse it be in the case before named, that we finde our selues called of God to speake.*He that couereth a transgression seeketh loue. If god in mercy co∣uer his sinnes, why shouldst thou reueale them? Salomon saith, It is the glory of a man to passe by an infirmitie.*
Fourthly, all vnseemely matters, al things vnknown, things which concerne vs not, things aboue our reach are in silence to be buried.
The persons before whome silence must bee vsed, are these. I. Malitious e∣nemies of religion:*Giue not that which is holy vnto dogs: neither cast your pearles before swine. This was among the rest one cause of the silence of Christ before Caiphas and Pilate. II. Before Magistrates in their open courtes: where such as come before them are not to speake till they be bidden. Then Paul after that the gouernour had beckened vnto him that he should speake, answered.* III. In the presence of our elders and betters, who must haue leaue and libertie to speake first, and must of others be heard with silence.* The practise of this was in Eli∣hu to Eliphaz and Bildad. A company of men (as some say) is like to the Al∣phabet, in which are vowels, halfe vowels, & mutes; vowels are old men, lear∣ned, wise, expert: halfe vowels, are young men and women, who are then only to speake when they are asked: mutes, are the same parties, who being not oc∣casioned, are in silence to heare their betters.* And here all seruants and childrē must remember when they are iustly reproued, to be silent and not to answer any thing againe. IV. Fooles and pratlers are not to be answered, vnlesse it be to let them see their folly.
CHAP. XII. An exhortation to keepe the tongue.
THus haue I in part set downe howe the tongue is to bee gouerned: and I hartily desire, that all Christians would put these rules in practise. Rea∣sons. I. If any man seeme to be religious, and restraine not his tongue, hee deceiueth himselfe, and his religion is in vaine.* II. The man of an euill tongue, is a beast in the forme of a man; for his tongue is the tongue of a serpent, vnder which lieth nothing but venim and poison:* nay he is worse then a serpent: for it cannot hurte, vnlesse it bee present to see a man, or to bite him or to strike him with his taile: but he which hath not the rule of his tongue, hurteth men as well absent as present, neither sea nor land, nor any thing can hinder him. And againe, his throat is like a graue that hath a vent in some part, and there∣fore sendeth forth nothing but stincke and corruption. III. As the holy men of God when they preached,* had their tongues, as it were, touched with a cole from the altar of God: and as godly men when they speake graciously, haue their tongues enflamed with the fire of Gods spirit: so contrariwise, whē thou speakest euill, thy tongue is kindled by the fire of hell:* and Sathan comes from Page 733 thence with a cole to touch thy lipps, and to set them on fire to all manner of mischeife. ← Chrysostome saith,* that when men speake good things, their tongue is the tongue of Christ: but all manner of vngodly and cursed speaking is the deuils language. IV. The moderating of the tongue is a matter of great diffi∣cultie. S. Iames saith,*The whole nature of beasts & of birds, and of creeping things, &c. but the tongue can no man tame: it is an vnruly euill. Pambus, one without learning came to a certain man to be taught a Psalme: who when he had hard the first verse of the 38. psalme, I said, that I will keepe my waies that I offend not in my tongue, would not suffer the next verse to be read, saying, this verse is e∣nough, if I could practise it. And whē his teacher blamed him, because he saw him not in sixe moneths after, he answered that he had not yet done the verse. And one that knew him many yeres after, asked him whether he had yet lear∣ned the verse. I am forty yeres old (saith he) & haue not yet learned to fulfil it. Now thē, the harder it is to rule the tongue, the more care is to be had therein. V. The strange iudgements of God for the abuse of the tongue,* especially in blasphemies & periuries are many & feareful. Three men conspired togither against Narcissus Bishop of Ierusalem, a man that led a godly and blamelesse life, and they charged him with a most hainous crime: all three confirme their accusation by oath. The first wisheth, if it were not so, that he were burnt. The second, that he might die of the iaundise. The third, that hee might loose his eies. Afterward in processe of time, the first had his house set on fire in the night: and he with all his family was burnt. The second had the iaundise from the head to the sole of the foote, and died thereof. The third seeing what was befallen these twaine, repented, and confessed the conspiracie against Narcis∣sus, and yet for all that he lost his eies.
Againe, in the daies of Q. Marie,* as Iames Abbes was led by the Sheriffe to execution, diuerse poore people stoode in the waie and asked their almes: hee then not hauing any money to giue them, did put off all his apparell saue his shirt, and gaue it vnto them, to some one thing, to some another: in the giuing whereof he exhorted them to be strong in the Lord, and to stand steadfast in the trueth of the gospell. While he was was thus instructing the people, a ser∣uant of the Shiriffes going by, cried out aloude, and blasphemously said: Be∣leeue him not good people, he is an hereticke, and a mad man out of his witte: beleeue him not, for it is heresie that he saieth. And as the other continued in his godly admonitions, so did this wicked wretch blow forth his blasphemous exclamations, vntill they came vnto the stake where he should suffer. But im∣mediatly after this martyr was bound to the stake and fire put to him, such was the fearefull stroke of Gods iustice vpon this blasphemous railer, that he was there presently in the sight of all the people stricken with a frensie, where∣with he had before railingly charged that good martyr of God: who in his furious rage & madnes, casting off his shooes and the rest of his cloaths, cried out vnto the people, & said, thus did Iames Abs the true seruant of God, who is saued, but I am damned: and thus ran he about the towne of Burie, still cry∣ing, that Iames Abbes was a good man and saued, but I am damned.
Againe,* children sitting in companie togither, fell into communication of God, and to reason what God was. And some said one thing, some another: Page 734 among the rest, one saide, He is a good old father: to which an other, named Dennis Benfield, replied with a most outragious blasphemy: What, he (said she) is an old doting foole. But shortly after this yong gyrle was so stricken, that all the one side of her was blacke, and she became speechles•e, and died.
*Againe, one Leaver a ploug-man, rayling, said that he saw the euill fauou∣red knaue Latimer when he was burned: and also in despite, said, that he had teeth like an horse. At which time and houre, as neere as could be gathered, the sonne of the said Leaver most wickedly hanged himselfe.
*Againe, in the time of K. Edward, a young gentleman of Cornwall beeing in companie with other moe gentlemen together with their seruants, beeing about the number of twentie horsemen, among whome this lustie yonger en∣tred into talke, and beganne withall to sweare, and vse ribauld speech, beeing gently reprooued, the yong gentleman tooke snuffe, and saide to the reproo∣uer, Why takest thou thought for me? take thought for thy winding sheete: well, quoth the other, amend, for death giueth no warning: for assoone com∣meth a lambes skinne to the market, as on old sheepes skinne. Gods woundes (said he) care not thou for me: raging still in this manner worse and worse in wordes, till at length passing on their iourney, they came riding ouer a great bridge, standing ouer a piece of an arme of the sea, vpon which bridge this gentleman-swearer spurred his horse in such sort, as he sprang cleane ouer with the man on his backe, who as he was going, cried, saying, Horse and man and all to the deuill.
*Againe, there was a seruing man in Lincolnshire, who had still in his mouth an vse to sweare Gods pretious blood, and that for very trifles: beeing often war∣ned by his friendes to leaue the taking of the Lords bloode in vaine, did not∣withstanding still persist in his wickednesse, vntill at the last it pleased God to acite him first with sicknesse, and then with death: during which time of the Lords visitation, no perswasion could mooue him to repent his foresaid bla∣spheming, but hearing the bell to toll, did most hardly in the very anguish of his death, start vp in his bedde, and sware by Gods blood this bell tolled for me. Whereupon immediatly the bloode aboundantly from all the ioynts of his bodie, as it were in streames, did issue out most fearefully from mouth, nose, wrestes, knees, heeles, & toes, with all other ioynts, not one left free, & so died.
These and such like iudgements must be as warnings from heauen to ad∣monish vs, and to make vs afraid of the abuse of the Tongue: especially when it tendeth to the dishonour of God. And we are to imitate the example of Po∣licarpe the Martyr, who when he was bidden to take his oath, & curse Christ, answered, Fourescore and sixe yeares haue I beene his seruant, yet in all this time hath he not so much as once hurt me: how then may I speake euill of my King and Soueraigne Lord, which ••th thus preserued me? VI. Lastly, God hath honoured thy tongue with the gift of speech and vtterance: and the great excellencie of this gift thou shouldest perceiue, if thou werest stricken dumme for a time. Therefore let thy tongue be applied to the honouring of God, and to the good of thy neighbour.