This is the Third rule of Christ touching happinesse: which as the* former, containeth two parts: first, the parties blessed: secondly, where∣in this blessednes consists. For the first: The parties blessed, be the meeke. That we may know aright who be meeke, I will somewhat lay open the vertue of meekenes, and briefly handle these foure points: first, Page 15 what meekenes is: secondly, what be the fruits thereof: thirdly, where∣in* it must be shewed: fourtly, the cause and ground thereof.
I. Point. Meekenes is a gift of Gods spirit, whereby a man doth moderate his affection of anger, and bridle in himselfe impatience, ha∣tred, and desire of reuenge.
II. Point. The fruits of meekenes are principally two: First, it* makes a man with a quiet and patient heart, to beare Gods iudgemēts:* which is a worthie grace of God, and the greatest fruit of meekenes: Levit. 10. 3. When Aarons two sonnes Nadab and Abihu were bur∣ned with fire from heauen, which was a grieuous iudgement, he went to Moses to know the cause thereof, who told him, that God would be glorified in all that came neere him; which when Aaron heard, he held his peace, and was not mooued with grudging or impatience: So Dauid beeing in great distresse through the hand of God vpon him, doth notably shew forth this grace, saying, aI was dumbe, and opened not my mouth, because Lord thou diddest it. Secondly, meekenes causeth* one with a quiet minde to beare the iniuries men doe vnto him: yea, to forgiue and forget them; and to requite good for euill, referring all reuenge to God that iudgeth righteously. When bDauids enemies laid snares for his life, vttered sorrowes, and imagined deceit against him continually; yet by this vertue he suffered all patiently, beeing as a deafe man that heareth not, and as the dumbe which openeth not his mouth: so farre was he from priuate reuenge. And our Sauiour Christ sets forth himselfe a patterne of this vertue; saying, cLearne of me, that I am meeke and lowly in heart: herein he left himselfe an example that we should follow his steppes, dwho when he was reuiled, he reuiled not againe, when he was buffeted, he threatned not, but referred all to the iudgement of him that iudgeth righteously: yea, ehe praied for them that crucified him: So did Stephen, Act. 7. 60. Lord, lay not this sinne to their charge: so Zachariah the sonne of Iehoida, beeing stoned, saide onely this; The Lord will see and require it at your hands. 2. Chron. 24. 22.
III. Point. Wherein must this meekenesse be shewed? Ans. Not* in the matters of God, when his glorie is impeached: for therein we must haue zeale as hote as fire: but in the wrongs and iniuries that concerne our selues. Moses was the meekest man vpon the earth in his time, Numb. 12. v. 3. and yet when the Israelites had made a gol∣den calfe, in zeale to Gods glorie, fhee brake the two tables of stone; & put to the sword that same day, three thousand men, of them that had so dishonoured God. Dauid also, that held his tongue at his owne wrongs, did consume away with zeale against his enemies that forgatPage 16Gods word, Psal. 119. 139. And our Sauiour Christ, who as a lambe be∣fore the shearer opened not his mouth for the wrongs done vnto himself; did yet in rescue of his fathers glorie, make a whip of cordes, and driue the buyers out of the Temple, who made his Fathers house a denne of theeues: Math. 21. 12.
IV. Point. The cause and ground of this meekenesse, is affliction and*pouertie of spirit, as the order of these rules declareth; where it is placed after pouertie of spirit, and mourning: and therefore Psal. 37. 11. whence these words are borrowed, the meeke person is called by a name that signifieth one afflicted; to teach vs, that hee that is meeke indeede, is one* who by affliction and distresse, hath beene brought to mourne for his offences: for hardly can he bee meeke and patient in spirit, that hath not beene acquainted with the crosse, Lamen. 3. 27, 28, 29. The Church commendeth this bearing of the cr•sse in youth, because it maketh a man to sit quietly alone, to put his mouth into the dust, and to giue his cheeke vnto the nippers.
Doth blessednesse belong to meeke persons? hereby then wee are* admonished to labour for the moderation of all our affections, especi∣ally of anger, hatred, and reuenge; and to beware of all hindrances to this blessed vertue, as choller, hastinesse, grudging, impatience vnder wrongs, with all rayling, reuiling, chiding and brawling, and all such threatning speeches, which come too oft in practise, that wee may for∣giue, but we will neuer forget: yea, in Action we must auoyd all quarrel∣ling, fighting, contending, and going to law on euery light occasion; for true meekenesse admits none of all these to take place with Gods chil∣dren.* And to induce vs hereunto, consider first Christs precept and ex∣ample, bidding vs glearne of him, for he is meeke and lowely. Againe,* consider Gods owne dealing with vs, we daiely wrong him by our of∣fences, and yet he beares with vs; shall we then bee so vnlike our hea∣uenly* Father, that we will straight reuenge the wrongs that others doe vnto vs? See Colloss. 3. 12, 13. As the elect of God, holy and beloued, put on the bowels of mercie, gentlenesse, lowelinesse of minde, meekenesse, long suffering, forbearing one another, and forgiuing one another, if any man haue a quarrell against another; euen as God for Christs sake forgaue you, so doe yee. Lastly, the fruition and practise of this grace hath the* promise of blessednesse belonging to it; and therefore as we would bee happie, so we must get the spirit of meekenesse into our hearts, and ex∣presse the vertue and power thereof in our liues.
Obiect. I. Here some will say, If I put vp all iniuries, I shall be coū∣ted a dastard and a foole. Ans. In this case learne of Paul, to passe lit∣tlePage 17for mans iudgement, but be carefull to get and 〈…〉 this grace of meekenesse, and then Christ will pronounce thee •••ssed, which ought more to preuaile with thee, then all mens estimatiō in the world; and so it will, vnlesse thou loue the praise of men, more then the praise of God: Ioh. 12. 48.
Obiect. II. Again, it will be said, The more I vse to put vp wrongs, the more shall I haue still done vnto me. Ans. That is onely so▪ ••th wicked men; for hwho else will wrong thee, if thou followe that which is good? Yet say they doe, thyipatient suffering, is praise-worthy with God: and, khe will take the matter into his hand: yea Christ Iesus, who iudg∣eth not by the sight of the eie, *he will rebuke aright, for all the meeke of the earth.
Obiect. III. But yet thou saist, this is the way to loose all that a man hath, and to be thrust out of house and harbour. Ans. Nothing lesse: for Christ here saith, the meeke shall inherit the earth; doubt not but Christ will make good his word: and therefore if thou respect these outward things, labour to get and exercise the spirit of meeke∣nesse.
II. Point. Wherein doth this blessednes of the meeke consist? name∣ly, in their inheriting of the earth. And this is a great happinesse, for a man to be Lord of the whole earth. But how can this be true? sith ma∣ny of Gods dearest seruants, haue beene strangers on this earth, thrust out of house and land, and constrained to wander in mountaines, and desarts, afflicted and miserable, yea destitute of conuenient foode and raiment, Heb. 11. 37, 38. Ans. The meeke are here called Inheritors* of the earth, not for that they alwaies haue the possession thereof; but first, because God giues a meete and conuenient portion of the earth,* either to them, or to their posteritie: thus hee dealt with Abraham, I∣saac, and Iacob, they had sufficient for themselues, and a promise of great possessions, which their posteritie did enioy. Secondly, if it fall* out, that meeke persons die in want, or banishment; yet God giues thē contentation, which is fully answerable to the inheritance of the earth: so Paul saith of himselfe, and other Apostles, mthey were as men hauing nothing, and yet possessed all things: meaning through contentation, with the peace of a good conscience. Thirdly, the meeke haue this in∣heritance,* in regard of right, being the members of Christ, who is Lord of all. Hence Paul saith to the beleeuing Corinthians, nall things are yours, whether it be Paul, or Cephas; or the world, things present▪ or things to come, all are yours, and ye Christs. Fourthly, the meeke are made kings* by Christ, and after the last iudgement, they shall rule and raigne withPage 18him for euer〈…〉•eu. 5. 10. And in these two last respects, the meeke are more properly said to be the inheritours of the earth. Obiect. Yet here it will be said againe, that wicked and carnall men are oftentimes the greatest Lords of the earth, as Nimr•d in his time, and the Turke* at this day. Answ. The right vnto the earth is two-fold; Ciuill and Spi∣rituall: Ciuill right is that, which stands good before men, by their lawes an••ustomes; and in regard therof, men are called Lords of such lands,* as they haue right vnto in the Courts of men: and so the Turke at this* day, is a mightie Lord of a great part of the whole world. Spirituall*right is that, which is warrantable and approoued with God himselfe;* and such right and title had Adam to all the world, before his fall, which he lost by his sinne, both from himselfe, and all his posterity: but yet in Christ, the same is recouered to all the elect. And of this right, Christ here speaketh, when hee calleth the meeke inheritours of the earth: in regard whereof, the Turke, & all vnbeleeuers and vngod∣ly persons, are but vsurpers of those things, which otherwise ciuilly they doe lawfully possesse.
Here then is an excellent priuiledge of all the true members of* Christ, that in him they be Lords of the earth: whereby first, wee may* see how farre most men doe ouershoote themselues in seeking earthly* possessions; for the manner is, without all regard of Christ, to hunt after the world: but this is a preposterous course, these men set the Cart be∣fore the horses; for seeing all our right to the earth was lost by Adam, and is onely recouered by Christ, doubtlesse till we haue part in Christ, we cannot with the comfort of a good conscience, either purchasse, or possesse any inheritance vpon earth. In regard of certaintie, men desire to hold their lands in capite, that is, in the Prince, as beeing the best te∣nure; but if wee would haue a sure title, and hold aright in capite, wee must labour to become true members of Christ, and hold our right in him, for he is the oPrince of the kings of the earth, and Lord of all the world: and till we be in Christ, wee shall neuer haue an holy and san∣ctified right to any worldly possessions.
Secondly, this serues for a bridle against all immoderate care for the* world; for if wee be members of Christ, and meeke persons, then the inheritance of the earth is ours: what neede haue we then to carke & care so much for worldly pelfe, as most men do, who neuer thinke they haue enough?
Thirdly, this serues for a iust rebuke of all those that seeke to enrich* themselues by crueltie, lying, fraud, and oppression: for if thou bee in Christ, thou hast right to the whole world; what neede then hast thou Page 19 to vse vnlawfull meanes to get that which is thine ow•e? But sure it is, thou hast no part in Christ, while thou giuest thy selfe to these courses; for if thou haddest, thou wouldest bee content; with whatsoeuer God sends in the vse of lawfull meanes. Philip. 4. 11.
Lastly, hence all Gods children may learne to comfort their hearts* against the feare of any punishment for the name of Christ; for keepe Christ sure, and whither soeuer thou art sent, thou art vpon thine owne ground: for the whole earth is thine, and in Christ one day thou shalt possesse it, when all Tyrants shall be banished into hell. Now beeing on thine owne ground, what need hast thou to feare?