AMENDMENT of life: THREE SER∣MONS, VPON ACTES 2. VERSES 37. 38. CONTEINING the true effect of the worde of God, in the conuersion of the godly: and the ma∣ner how it changeth their harts, and re∣formeth their liues, which is the true vvorke of regeneration.
By IOHN VDALL, Preacher of the worde of God, at King∣stone vpon Thames.
IOHN. 3. 3.
Except a man be borne againe, he can not see the kingdome of God.
AT LONDON, Imprinted for Thomas Man, W. B. and N. L. 1584.
TO THE RIGHT HONOVRABLE CHARLES, LORD HO∣VVARD, BARON OF EFFINGAM, Lord Chamberlaine of the Queenes Maiesties most honorable houshold, Of the moste noble Order of the Garter Knight, and one of her Maiesties moste Honorable Priuie Counsell: IOHN VDALL wisheth continu∣all encrease in all vertue & godlines.
AS there is no field, be it neuer so wel tilled, and be the seede ne∣uer so good that is sowne in the same, but weedes will of their owne accorde spring therin, and without the diligent Page [unnumbered] care of the husband-man, choake the good seede, and deceiue the owner of the expected fruit of his former labour: so there hath neuer since the world be∣gan (right honorable) bene any church so pure without corruption, that hath not had many blemishes in the same: the which without the great mercie of God, and prouident care of the gouer∣nours thereof, both hath, and doeth, & to the ende of the world will, so growe and encrease, that they will neuer staye, vntill they haue brought to passe the vtter subuersion and ouerthrow of reli∣gion there professed: for if we beginne with the Church of the Iewes, not one∣ly the first visible, & established church, but also the image and picture of the Church of God for euer: and consider what corruptions haue crept into the same, howe they haue increased from time to time, & often preuailed against the sincere worship of God, to the vtter ouerthrow of true religion, and streng∣thening of idolatrie: it is so manifest in the bookes of Moses, Kings, and the Page [unnumbered] Prophets, that either we must refer the consideration thereof, to those places, or els (which is needeles) make a whole volume of the discourse of the same. We see the same practize in the Primi∣tiue Church, euen in the time of the A∣postles, that both corruption of doc∣trine, and also loosenes in conuersation, did greatly infect that age. The which is euident in the times following, and euen vntill this day: that the true doc∣trine of the Gospel hath bene most bla∣sphemously peruerted, and godlesnesse in life so rooted into the heart of man, that the number of true Christians hath euer bene a small, poore, and contem∣ned flocke. And in truth, we neede goe no further than to these present times, wherein we liue: in which (because tho∣rough the great mercy of our good and gracious God, the seedes of Popishe tares can take no such roote, as Satan wisheth) we may behold, and (to the great griefe of Christian hartes) too plainely see, how greatly Atheisme and vngodlines preuaileth, that it is a hard Page [unnumbered] matter, euen in this bright sunne shine of the Gospell of Iesus Christ, to finde many of them, that together with puri∣tie of religion, doe studie to keepe a sin∣cere and vpright conscience, in their life. For religion (now adayes) is made a cloake, to hide sinne: a myst, to bleere the eyes of the world: a den, for trans∣gressors: and a cage, for all vncleane birds in the world. All which springeth hence, that Satan can perswade men, that if they professe themselues to be Gospellers, and make shew of religion, it is not onely sufficient, (because no man shall be saued by his works) but al∣so it shall bring them into more credite and estimation in the world, thereby to growe greater: which bringeth forth these three most pernicious and daun∣gerous euills among men: first, that the Papists, (who measure all things by the outward shew) are not onely kept from listening to the truth, but also more hardened in their blind superstition. Se∣condly, that the glorie of the highe and mightie God, which should shine in our Page [unnumbered] liues, by the Gospell, is trampled vnder feete. Lastly, that their owne soules and bodies are in a most daungerous estate, (being driuen by the prouocation of the deuil) headlong into the pit of con∣demnation, whereinto so many, as with out repentance, runne on to the ende, must needes fall at length, feeling the torments increased vnto them: that (for laying stumbling blocks in the way to ouerthrow others, and defacing the glory of the great God, and proceeding in satisfieng their owne appetite with sinne) they haue most iustly deserued. The consideration of which mischiefe, moued certaine godly, and well dispo∣sed persons, (who were by the proui∣dence of God, eare witnesses of a dis∣course, that it pleased the Lord to strēg∣then me, to vtter in my ordinary course, vpon the Acts of the Apostles) earnest∣ly to intreate me, that I woulde penne the same, for their further comfort: which good & godly motion of theirs, for that it proceeded (I doubt not) from an earnest desire in them, of spiri∣tuall Page [unnumbered] edification, I condiscended vnto. And because it hath pleased God, to make me, by speciall dutie, bound vnto your Honor: I therefore haue made es∣peciall choice of the same: wherevnto, these my simple & small labours might be dedicated, most humbly beseeching your honor, that, as it is the summe and substance of all the religion, taught, and professed in this poore Towne of King∣ston, so it would please your L. to ac∣cept therof, not according to the quan∣titie (that is but small) nor expecting the inticing words of mans wisedome, (which is most vnfit for the Gospell of Christ) but according to the substance of the thing, and the mind of the poore labourer. So shall your Honor bind me, (which notwithstanding is my duetie) with the rest of them, that feare God, a∣mong vs, to pray continually vnto the father of our Lord Iesus Christ, for you: that it woulde please him, so to direct, guide, and blesse all your enterprises, as may best tende to the glorie of his most blessed name, the benefit of his Church, Page [unnumbered] and this common weale, and the eternal & euerlasting com∣fort of your owne soule.
Your Honors most humble to com∣maund in the Lord Iesus Christ. IOHN VDALL.
Three Sermons of the a∣mendment of life.
Acts. 2. verse. 37. 38.
WHen our Sauiour Iesus* Christ (according to his promise) has sēt dawn y• holy ghost into the hearts of his discipls, which was so effectual in them, that they who were vnlearned spake with di∣uers languages, the Iewes and straun∣gers of diuers countreyes gathered togi∣ther to sée that straunge wonder, and some admired it as the wonderfull worke of God, others mocked them, af∣firming them to be droncke: wherevpon Page [unnumbered]Peter stoode vp making an Apologie for himselfe and the rest: first deliuering them from that lying slaunder of dron∣kennes, and then proued it to be the worke of Iesus Christ, whome though they had crucified, yet God the father had raysed, and had exalted him to bée Lorde and King ouer all thinges both in hea∣uen and earthe. The which beyng pro∣ued vnto them that: he was the very Mes∣sia•, whom they had so wickedly cruci∣fied, they perceiued themselues to bée in daunger of the heauie vengeance of God for it, and their feare it wronge in them, as is sette) downe in the former of these verses. In which (togither with the latter) for our better remem∣brance, wée haue to note these thrée thinges: First, the effecte that Peters Sermon wrought in the heartes of these Iewes: Secondly their care to bée re∣solued what to doo: and lastly▪ Peters counsell vnto them.
When they heard it: that is, who he was whom they had so abused, and what danger they were in for it: it wounded Page [unnumbered] them euen at the very heart, and strooke them in a marueilous feare of Gods suddaine vengeance to be powred downe vpon them for their so hainous a facte, & so horrible murther, as to kill the Lord* of life, from whome all they that euer shall be saued, doe receyue their life and saluation. Which declareth vnto vs their wonderfull blockishnes, and palpa∣ble blindnes, y• they reading the prophe∣sies (concerning the Sauiour to come) e∣uery Saboth day & daily looking for him, yet when he commeth do thus behaue* themselues towardes him. The cause wherereof was for that they dreamed of a worldly King full of pomp & glory, and Christ being so base and poore, they were offended at him: much like ye carnall chri∣stians of our time, who are ashamed of ye basenes of the gospel & simplicitie of reli∣gion, and therefore thinke that it is too meane a thing for mē of great estat & ho∣nor: but we sée ye cōtrarye in Gods word: that there is no ioy wtout Christ, but sor∣row: no, honor, but ignominie: no bles∣sednesse, but curssednesse, howsoeuer it Page [unnumbered] séemeth otherwise to carnall people, that iudge fleshly and according to naturall reason: and therefore we reade that the greatest dishonour that euer came to the Kings of Iuda and Ierusalem, was their* negligence in religion, and their grea∣test praise is their care to establish it in sinceritie: and therefore, how base, poore & contemptible so euer Christ séeme to flesh & blood, there is no glory, riches, nor ho∣nor that profiteth, excepte it be gouer∣ned by him, and directed to his glory. We learne further by these Iewes, that there is no way in the worlde that can serue to conuert man vnto God, vntill the appointed time doo come: For they heard Christ often, and yet his word was to them as water powred vpon a stone, vntill this houre wherein God had de∣termined their conuersion. Which doc∣trine ministreth a double vse vnto vs: first to y• magistrate that he compell all, (yea euen the obstinate) to the outward exercises of religion: for by y• meanes it may please God to worke their conuer∣sion. Secondly for euery priuate person Page [unnumbered] that is already called, (yea and the mi∣nister of the worde especially to beare with pacience the vnregenerate, and not to determine or iudge rashly of their re∣probation: But still to hope for the time of their conuersion. Moreouer in that it is said here that they were pricked in their heartes when they hearde it, we learne how néedfull it is for vs to haue the worde of God continually sounding in our eares, whereby wée may be rou∣zed out of the sléepe of sinne. For wée are naturally prone to euill, and slouth∣full in the seruice of Gods worde, ve∣ry dull to goodnesse, néeding the goade of Gods threatninges to pricke vs in the sides, and to make vs procéede in the feare of the Lorde: else wée fréese in our sinnes, and if any good motions come in our mindes nowe and then, they are choaked: and so wée waxe worse & worse. The consideration hereof made Dauid a Kinge to meditate in the word of God day and nighte, and made it his* counseller, a good example for all greate estates to looke vnto and follow.
Page [unnumbered]Pricked in their heartes. Howe com∣meth this to passe, that Peter speaking onely to the outwarde eares, they are sayed to be pricked in their heartes, euen by the wonderfull power and Maiestie that God hath printed in his woorde, that it shoulde sounde the bot∣tomelesse deapthe of mans moste se∣crete thoughtes, and enter betwéene the soule and the spirite. And this ef∣fecte it hath in all, though it haue a con∣trarie fruit: for the wicked take occasi∣on hereby, to be more seuere against the Children of GOD. As we may sée* in Pharaoh, Achab, Ieroboam, and the Pharises. But the children of God vse meanes assoone as they be touched* to amende their liues as did Dauid, and Iosias, and these Iewes▪ Whereby wée may take good occasion to examine our selues, whether wée be the Chil∣dren of God or no: for if the contempt or neglecte of amendemente of our li∣ues argueth (as yet) no grace to be in vs, then the care to amende, and the indeuour therevnto indéede, is a speci∣all Page [unnumbered] motion of the spirite, which we muste be carefull to cherrish, leaste it be quenched, and so our estate waxe mi∣serable.
And said vnto Peter. This is the seconde generall parte conteining their care to séeke the righte way, to be deli∣uered from the gulfe of perdition that hanged ouer their heades: which is a Note of a true Childe of God, for it is the nature of euery man to say, when his sinne is reproued, that the Preacher sayeth true, and that wée shoulde amende, but they neuer sette one foote forwarde to putte it in practise, onely the Godlie haue that care, that when any thing is founde by the word of God to be amisse in them, they canne neuer be at quiet vntill they finde oute meanes, wherey it may be redressed. Lette vs obserue further in them a won∣derfull change: They had mocked Christ and his doctrine, and neuer were at reste, till they had killed him: they not long before this time did estéeme the Apostles no better then. Dronckardes, Page [unnumbered] and yet the Lorde in this shorte time so altereth their mindes, that they come to them louinglie, terming them Men and Brethren: which will bée so farre from a wicked man vntouched with Gods spirite, that he will rather with*Iudas and Achitophel hange himselfe, then séeme (forsoothe) to bée so muche beholdinge to the godly, whome hée taketh to be his enimies. But if once Gods word take déepe and sound roote in any man, it will alter and chaunge him quite from his former wicked mind: Whereof wée haue notable examples in the Scriptures: Saule wente to Nai∣oth,* entending to persecute Dauid, but God chaunged his minde, that he* prophesied: Paule wente toward Da∣mascus with intente to make hauecke of the Sainctes of God: But when he came there hée preached Christe vn∣to them. The Souldiours wente out from the Pharises to take Christe, but the Maiestie of his woorde strooke them downe to the grounde, and made* them returne this aunswere: that they Page [unnumbered] neuer hearde man speake as he spake. They in this place came to mocke, and you sée howe God turneth their moc∣kinges into earnest intreating the A∣postles to giue them good counsell. Whereby wée learne the truthe of the* saying of Salomon, that the heartes e∣uen of Kinges are in the handes of the Lord, as a boate in the Riuers of wa∣ter: and therefore it is not in man to di∣recte his owne wayes: which teacheth vs to pray vnto the Lorde continually, that it woulde please his maiestie so to go∣uerne vs, as may beste tende to his glo∣ry, and the comfort of our owne soules. It teacheth vs moreouer, that seeing God turneth, at his pleasure, euill in∣tentes to good purposes, that wee must wishe, and desire, and dayly exhorte al men (of what minde soeuer they bée) that they haue a care to heare Gods worde: for in that they come, thoughe their intente be not to learne, but to carp and cauell, they bée welcome: God may caste the nette of his mercy so farre on them, that contrary to their purpose, Page [unnumbered] they may be wonne into the shéepefolde of Christe Iesus, to their endlesse com∣forte.
What shall wee doe. Béeing grieued with the sight of their sinnes, they séeke what to doo to be eased, shewing vnto vs an example of the heart truely touched, to séeke the way to amend, and not as is the manner of hipocriticall repenters, to abide in the same sinne, and continue without amendment: for such (as yet) did neuer knowe what it is to be pricked in heart with the true sight of sinne.
Then Peter said. The third generall part of the text, which containeth the counsell that Peter gaue vnto them: the which (before we come to handle) wee must obserue two profitable lessons, for our comforte, and instruction.
The first is an experience of the truth of the promise of our Sauiour Christ: for they that séeke shall finde, and to those* that knocke it shall be opened, and that God is néere at hande to all them that* call vppon him faithfully: For our good and gracious God, béeing full of mer∣cy Page [unnumbered] and tender kindnesse, doeth open the treasures thereof vnto his Children, when they seeke it by repentance from the bottome of their hearts, and in the anguishe of their soules acknowledge their wofull estate, and wretched condition if he shoulde leaue them to themselues. So he dealte with the Is∣raelites in their slighte before Phara∣oh* and his hoaste. So with Dauid bée∣ing wounded with the sighte of his* owne sinnes. So with Paule, being* caste downe and blinded in bodie, to teache hym the blindnesse of his soule. And thus he dealeth with his dearest beloued Children: to witte giueth them a sighte of their owne sinnes, and his Iudgementes deserued for the same: that they may learne to goe out of themselues, where is nothing but confusion, and so to séeke vnto him with an vnfained desire of comforte. The vse of which Doctrine (béeing rightly applyed) is mooste swéete and com∣fortable: For it is the lotte of Gods Children to bée often grieued in their Page [unnumbered] soule and afflicted in conscience, through the view of their owne sinnes: where∣by Sathan would make them beléeue, y• it is for that God hath cast them of, and giuen them ouer into hardnesse of heart: thereby labouring to driue them to dispaire. But wée must striue to be perswaded of the cleane contrary: for to be giuen ouer of God, is to wallowe in all sinne without remorse, to heape transgression vpon transgression, with∣out sight of the daunger thereof, and so to make a sporte of iniquitie: but to be grieued with sinne, to féele the burthen thereof with desire to be eased (though we feale no present comforte) is the vn∣doubted worke of the holy ghost, and shall (by Gods grace) in time conueni∣ent (when he hath sufficiently humbled and triēd vs) bring forth the quiet fruite of righteousnesse vnto all them that be* thereby exercised. And therfore when the Lorde layeth any triall vpon vs, that we séeme to be ready to be swallowed vp of many daungers that are immi∣nent, though it be the propertie of Page [unnumbered] flesh and bloud to be grieued at it, yet we muste striue to fly vp farther, to wit, to learne this lesson, that if we be the children of God, when greatest daun∣gers assaile, we muste assure our selues that the Lord hath an especiall worke to bring to passe by vs, whereby he will not only haue his owne glory to shine out more brightly, but also that we may perceiue his loue vnto vs more euident∣ly. The second thing y• we haue to note, is Peters readinesse to salue that soare that he had made, & to heale the wound that they were pained with all: which sheweth in him two qualities, that be required to be in all the Ministers of Gods words: to wit a readye and wil∣ling minde to helpe, and power to per∣forme the same. The first we sée was in him, and was the marke that he shot at, in reprouing them so sharpely, euen their conuersion: which as it should be the care that all the Ministers of Gods worde should haue, to doe the worke of the Lorde willingly, to séeke soules vn∣to Christe, and bring them out of dark∣nesse, Page [unnumbered] into light: so it sheweth vnto the people, that when the Minister repro∣ueth sinne sharpely, and galleth them to the quicke, he neither doth it of mallice nor choler, neither yet of hatred, but of meere loue vnto them, to doe them good, to bring them to sée themselues, and so to séeke to God. And therefore (how∣soeuer fleshe and bloud iudgeth other∣wise) they are the greatest fooes to mans soule that doe▪ tickle the eares with painted eloquence, studying ra∣ther for pleasing speaches, to delight the senses, then the power of the spirit to cast downe mans pride, that he may be humbled to God: these be they whome the Prophet speaketh of, that sow Cu∣shions* vnder mens elbows, to lull them a sléepe in their sinnes: these be fitte Preachers for such as crie oute: preach to vs pleasant thinges. But Saincte Peter was not in the number of them, and yet did loue this people most deare∣ly. The seconde qualitie that wée note in Peter is his habilitie, in that he was able presentlie to tell them what Page [unnumbered] they shoulde doe: For if (when by the threatninges of Gods iudgementes he had wounded them) he had not béene able to helpe their brused heartes and comforte their sorrowing soules, he had béene no better then a tormen∣tor: But in that he was able, and rea∣die to doe both, his example commen∣deth vnto vs a patterne of a right Mi∣nister of the worde, who muste be a∣ble to bring out of his treasurie both* olde and newe: hee muste be able to teache, to resiste the gainesaier, to instructe, to reproue, and comforte. But (alas) the worlde is come nowe to that passe, that if he canne reade (and that barely) that is laied before him, he is accoumpted and accepted for sufficient: and yet the Scripture calleth such Idell shéepeheardes, dumbe* Dogges, that cannot barke. Salt with out saltnesse not good for the Dung∣hill, and yet this churche of Englande (a grieuous thinge to bée considered)* is euen pestered with suche, and they swarme like Locustes lette oute of Page [unnumbered] the lake. The Lord for his mercy sake either conuert them to better vses, or in his good time send an east winde to blow them into the bottome of the sea, and place séeing watchmen, and painefull labourers in his vineyarde, that will* dresse it and not fast themselues therein.
Amend your liues. This is the coun∣sell of Peters a sentence very shorte in wordes, but long in matter, contai∣ning the very substance of all religion, and the whole 〈◊〉 of Christianitie:* the originall word signifieth to recou•• with griefe, it is commonly translat•• repent, and the m••ter called repen∣tance, which is a turning of our liues vnto God, procéeding from a true feare of his iudgments for sinne, imbracing God his promises in Iesus Christ, and reforming the life according to the pre∣script rule of Gods worde: the which (that we may the more orderly procéed) consisteth of these thrée principall partes 1. A sorrow for sinne. 2 Faith in Christ, and 3. Godlinesse of conuersation: which laste in truth is rather a fruite of Page [unnumbered] faith, (as in a place conuenient shall be proued) then any part of the whole: all which things in some measure more or lesse are to be found in all them that are Gods children and haue receyued any* tast of his grace.
The first, Sorrowe for sinne may be thus defined: it is a griefe of the soule for sinne, wrought by the iudgementes of God, layed out in his word, whereby the party conuicted is truly humbled. I call it a griefe of the soule, because it bringeth man euen into the gulfe of con∣demnation, and setteth before his eies the heauie wrath of God and hell torments, that his owne conscience telleth him he hath iustly deserued. This was wrought* in Dauid, when his owne mouth con∣demned him to be the child of death. It was in Iosias when his heart melted at the hearing of the Lawe expounded vnto him. It was in Marie that washed our* Sauiour Christ Iesus his féete with hir teares: it was in these that cried out in the anguishe of their hearts: men and brethren what shall we doe: it is in all Page [unnumbered] them among vs, that haue any work∣ing of Gods spirit in them, when they consider God to be a iust God, a reuen∣ger of iniquitye, and themselues to be most horrible and wretched sinners. Whereby we may take good occasion to examine our selues, whether we be of God or no: which we shall do thus: If I do not tremble at Gods iudgments: if my sins grieue me not, surely I am har∣dned: but if they make me sigh & grone vnto the Lord vnder the weight thereof: if I loth them both in my selfe & others, then I haue a marke of Gods grace in me, that he worketh my saluation, and sealeth it vnto me. This sorrowe may after a sorte be in a man, and yet not the true sorrowe: for many are grieued be∣cause they they are not better: for that through their naughtinesse, they for∣gette preferment, or credit, that else they shoulde haue: and therefore it is saide that this muste be wroughte by the iudgementes of God, laid out in his worde: that is, when by Gods Lawe I perceiue the straighte lyne that is in∣ioyned Page [unnumbered] to me, and the cursse of God that hang ouer my heade for my disobedience, that bringeth with it condemnation of bodye and soule: this is the thing wherefore I shoulde be grieued. And if wée wey the matter well, it carry∣eth with it iust cause of sorrowe: for though I inioye all the delightes and pleasures that bee in the worlde, I shall haue them a very shorte time, and the rewarde of sinne is eternal wo, without ease or intermission, which all men haue iustly deserued, and from which none shall be deliuered, that is not broughte to sorrowe for sinne and to séeke to Iesus Christe, the life of them that rightelye séeke him. This (being the firste steppe to God, and en∣trance into his fauour) is mightely gainesaid by the subtile enimie Sa∣than, that would haue vs make a sporte of sinne. Secondly by the world that ble∣reth our eies with the poysoned baits of vanities, & 3. by our owne flesh y• lusteth after those things that bring perdition: and therefore the Lord (who hath a care Page [unnumbered] that his chosen should not be deceyued by all these or any of them) hath in his* word set downe many most strong rea∣sons, and forcible persuasions, to induce vs to this sorrow for sinne, as first, his seuere iudgementes executed vppon o∣thers. Idolators were giuen ouer into* the handes of spoilers. Blasphemers con∣sumed* by the Angell of God. Corrup∣ters of Gods sincere worshippe present∣ly strooke downe dead. Disobedient re∣bells swallowed vppe quicke into the* earth, Murderers requited with mur∣ther. Generally, the whole world (except eyght persons) drowned for sinne. So∣dome and Gomorrah burned with fire and brimstone from heauen, because of* pride, riotte, idlenesse, and contempte of y• poore. Foure sins, that now (I am per∣swaded) are as rife, as euer they were in those Citties: and al these, as they re∣ceyued suddaine punishment in this worlde: so (to vs) no other is knowen, but that eternall condemnation follow∣ed. Now how must these thinges bring vs to sorrowe for sinnes? Thus we haue Page [unnumbered] committed the same sinnes (in some pointe) that they did, and therfore being guilty of the same condemnation, there is no way for vs to escape it, but to flée to the Lorde with penitent heartes, and sorrowing soules. Saint Paule teacheth* vs this doctrine, & the same vse of it, sai∣ing: these are written as exampls for vs, that we sinne not as they did, least we receyue the same condemation. Where∣by we learne that the scriptures of God are not written to vs as histories to read* and heare for pleasure, but for our lear∣ning and instruction, that we may learne by the example of the wicked there men∣tioned, to leaue sinne: and of the godly* to be stirred vp vnto godlines. Againe, when we consider how mercyfull God hath bene vnto vs: that whereas in his iuste iudgemente be might haue not onely cutte vs of, and cast vs into eternal condemnation, when first we began to conceiue any inclination vnto sinne: but euen before we were borne, haue drowned vs in originall guilte, and ne∣uer sufferd vs to come to any knowledge Page [unnumbered] of good or euill, hath so long a time (we committing so many and infinite sinnes against his maiesty) yet spared vs, & not dealt rigorously with vs: this shoulde make vs very sory that we haue so long prouoked so merciful a God vnto anger:* which vse S. Paule setteth downe, saying that the mercy of God leadeth to repen∣tance. But (alas) we take occasion to sin by the same, and so are carelesse to amend, euer hauing this in our mouths, God is mercifull, and so we incurre the danger of the seuere denunciation following in the same place, where it said: that such heap vp wrath against the day of wrath. For we must know that as God is mer∣cifull to all penitent sinners, so is he iust to all carelesse and loose people that with∣hold the truth of God in vnrighteousnes:* & therefore let vs not be so abused by Sa∣tā, to think y• God hath mercy in store for him that goeth on stil in his wickednesse. But let vs try our selues by ye touch stone* of Gods word, how the consideration of Gods great mercy worketh in vs. Be∣sides this we sée that when or wheresoe∣uer Page [unnumbered] the word of God hath béene preached it hath wrought either to their conuersiō & comfort, or hardning and condemna∣tion: it was to Noe a safegard, because he beléeued: to ye worldes ouerthrow, for y• they harkned not: to the Israelites deli∣uerance,* to the Egiptians destruction: to the apostles saluation, to the Scribes and Phareseis condemnatō. The due conside∣ration of this must bring vs to sorow for sin: for thus we must reason wt our selues we haue the word preached, out of which yt iudgements of God are threatned to fall on the wicked: & contrarywise his promises to be performed to the godly: of which sort am I? if of the godly, then the word preached hath moued me to amēd∣ment, & cōtinuall griefe of heart y• I can amend no better: if I be not thus moued thereby, surely thē I am of the worst sort* to whom the gospel is folishnes, and in whom it sauoureth to death. Thē I may not abide in sin thus, but by sorow for the same, I must conceiue a loathing of al i∣niquitie. And to the end that this remorse* may take déeper holde in me, I must en∣ter into a vew of my former conuersatiō, Page [unnumbered] and that by the candle of Gods lawe, whereby I cannot choose but sée the vgly deformities of mine owne heart, the cor∣rupt desires of my mind, the fruitelesse (if not blasphemous) speaches of my tounge, the god lesse actions of my conuer∣sation: all which heretofore, euery one of vs haue taken pleasure in, and estée∣med them as our great felicitie: and this being truely viewed, and withall the re∣ward thereof in his owne nature consi∣dered, must (if any sparke of grace be in vs) not only pinch vs at the very hearte, but also make vs say with the Apostle,* that it is sufficient that we haue spente the time past after the will of the fleshe. And so much the rather, for that our time is very short, and a great parte thereof already mispense, and therefore we may not differre any longer to beginne the seruice of our God, in gloryffyng his ho∣ly name in these our mortall bodyes. Neither may this be a remisse or slacke sorrowe which is ordinarily (almost) in al men: for if y• would serue, then should al, or the greatest number be saued: and Page [unnumbered] yet we sée both by the course of Gods worde, and also euident sentences of the same, that the least number are ac∣cepted of God: for where eyght were sa∣ued, thousandes were drowned: Where*Abraham and his family were, there was the Church: the Israelites were the pe∣culiar people of God: a small handfull in respecte of the worlde: so it was in the time of Christ and his Apostles, and yet euen of them that were outwardly of the number many were hipocrites, and dis∣semblers. So true is that saying vttered by the month of Christ Iesus our Saui∣our. Straighte is the gate and narrow is the way, that leadeth vnto life, and fewe there be that finde it. And wide is the gate and broade is the way that lea∣deth to distruction, and many goe that way. And therefore this same vsuall and* ordinary saying. I am sory, and it grie∣ueth me, when yet they amend not, can∣not be the sorrowe to repentance, which is not to be sorrowed for: seing besides that the pangs of death shall try whether we haue sorrowed vnfainedly or no. Ie∣sus Page [unnumbered] Christ, who séeth the darkest corner of our hearts shal be the Iudge, and will giue sentence of euery one as they are, & and not as they séeme to the world to be. And lastly eternall torments are proui∣ded both for hipocrites, and hard hear∣ted persons. Let vs not deceiue our selues with an outward shewe of religi∣on: let vs not (like glowormes) make boast of that we are not. But all pleasu∣res and vanities set a side, let vs beginne to rippe vp our owne heartes, returne to the Lord our God with earnest and hear∣ty sorow for our former transgressions with ful purpose of taking a better course then yet we haue done. I know that as this is the entrance vnto God, and so the first slip that we giue vnto Sathan, so he* lacketh not his perswasions & glorious baits to trump in our way, whereby our eyes may be turned, and our hearts alie∣nated from this course. For sayeth he: do∣est thou beléeue y• there be so many tor∣ments prouided for them, that take their pleasure in y• things of this world? will God be so seuere as so? will he marke so Page [unnumbered] diligentlie what is done amisse. Is there such knowledge in the most highest? No no, it is but the cholerick rayling of these precise and wayward preachers, that loue to be alwayes chiding. God is mer∣cifull, he knoweth man cannot kéepe his Lawes in all pointes, and there∣fore he will beare with him. Doest thou not sée and beholde greate men, yea and learned men, they beleeue no such mat∣ter, and they be wiser then thou arte, being a simple man: for they take all the delighte and pleasure that canne be. Thou haste taken greate delighte in sinnne and wickednesse thus longe, and if thou shouldest doe as they say, it were euen to make a metamorphosis of thy selfe, and thou haddest better be out of the worlde, then to leaue thy for∣mer companions, thy delectable past∣times and merrimentes. Thus oulde thou art: and thus many yeares thou hast liued at thy pleasure & what hath hapned vnto thée for it? if it were such a grieuous thinge in the sight of God, thou shouldest neuer haue enioyed it so longe without Page [unnumbered] punishement, for behold there be no men vnder the Sunne more void of calami∣ties then they be y• are not so precise, but follow their owne desires. And though it did offend the Almightie (which is to be doubted) yet thou mayest returne vnto him many yeares hence▪ he wil re∣ceyue thée at any time, yea if thou doe but cry, Lord haue mercy vpon me, when thou liest sicke and séest no other way but death, it will serue. Were it not greate pitty, that thou being a gallant, young, and comelie person, shouldest be abando∣ned from the pleasures that thine estate both require? Yes doubtles. These with infinite such like motions doeth Sathan put into the heades and heartes of natu∣rall men, which are so fitte to their natu∣re and so agreable to their complexion, that they quickly assente and followe the steppes prescribed by him. Where vpon it commeth (as dayly experience decla∣reth too manifestly) that infinite num∣bers, yea almost the whole worlds, is drowned in sinne and iniquity: For ei∣ther they be Papistes, blind with super∣stition: Page [unnumbered] or carnall gospellers, contented with bare profession, or Athiests addicted to no religion: thinking it the safest way* to meddle no whitte that way: and all these agrée in one conclusion, to delight in sinne and iniquity: so that, to find one that maketh a conscience of sinne, that striueth for sincere reformation, & wrest∣leth against his owne corruptiō, to please God, is very hard, euen among a great number: and he whome God hath in∣lightned to take that course: What is he? a precision, a puritane, one that taketh himselfe to be without sinne, a wayward body, and busie controller, a medler, and what not? Which is the cause that sinne euery where so reigneth, and truth and godlinesse so generaly decayeth, that (vn∣lesse a generall and spéedy repentance preuent it) the wrath of God must néeds fall vpon this land, and vtterly roote out this most diuelish generation. Therefore let them that haue any sparke of Gods grace, mourne, houle, and lament for the desolations of Iacob, and the transgres∣sions of Israell, that at least they may es∣cape Page [unnumbered] the rodde of Gods visitation. Thus wee sée both the reasons that the holy Ghost vseth to moue vs to sorrowe for sinne, and the temptations wherewith∣all Sathan séeketh to kéepe vs backe, and stay vs in the delight of the flesh, Let e∣uery one of vs examine himselfe which preuaileth most with him. Whereby we may sée our selues in what state wée stand, before the Lorde our God. The ende of thie sorrowe for sinne is, not to deserue thereby the fauour of God, or y• the force thereof shoulde merit iustifi∣cation: for the debter that did fall downe* at his maisters féete, deserued not there∣by to haue his debte forgiuen him. And therefore the true end of this sorrow for sin is twofold. First, it is to shew our hu∣militie to the Lord: for by nature we be proud & high minded, not bending one whit (notwithstanding our huge masse & heape of sin) but walk with stiffe necks: & therefore it is néedful y• the Lord should lay open before our eies the miserable e∣state and condition that we stande in: to the ende that we séeing his maiestie both Page [unnumbered] great and terrible, and his iustice bēt vp∣on vs, to pronounce our condemnation, may haue our proud lookes abated, our peacockes feathers pulled, and our hauty stomackes quailed, to beholde Gods wrathfull countenance bente vppon vs: tha: wée may be caste downe before his throne, with vnfained humilitie, aba∣sing our selues, whome wée haue well thoughte of, and ascribing all glorye and power to him, whome wée haue little regarded. Secondly it is to make way for the grace of GOD to come neare vnto vs, and his greate mercy in Christe Iesus our Lord and Sauiour, to dwell in our heartes: for as it is vn∣possible for fyre and water to agrée to∣gither, for Heauen and Earth to méete in their naturall motions, for Lighte and Darkenesse to be matched as yoke∣fellowes: so vnpossible is it, to lincke the naturall Man and Christe in one, or to finde any abode for the spirite of God in the hearte of that man or womā who hath not bene touched wt the griefe of cōscience for his sins, nor the terrours Page [unnumbered] of Gods iudgements for the same: which to be true our Sauiour himselfe hath af∣firmed, when he said that he came not to call the righteous (meaning such as dee∣med themselues righteous) but sinners* to repentance: for sayth he, the poore, that is, such as are naked in their owne eies, receiue the glad tydings of the Gospell: and those shalbe blessed that are poore in* hearte, which also is manifest by the Pharesey, who leaned vpon his owne workes, and the Publicane that fell downe, and prostrated himselfe before the Lord, shewing nothing to be in himselfe but sinne, and therefore sued vnto the Lord for his mercy and pardon. There∣fore the doctrine of mercy in Christ Ie∣sus appertayneth not to them that boast in their owne strength, and are merit∣mongers, neither yet vnto the stony and hard hearted, who haue no touch of con∣science, no sorrow for sinne: but a con∣tinuall delight and pleasure in the sweet∣nesse thereof, striuing to fulfill the déeds of the flesh, and to offend, euen with gredinesse. But vnto the broken hear∣ted, Page [unnumbered] the wounded soule, the grieued hart, and sorrowing spirit, that féeleth it selfe (by desert) in the gulfe of condemnation, that be cast downe and truly humbled by the sight of his owne offences: to suche, when they aske, the Lorde giueth: when they séeke, he is found: when they cry, he heareth: and when they mone their case, he (with his mercy) doth comforte them. Let then euery one of vs enter into con∣sideration of his owne estate, and trye what effecte the iudgmentes of God for sinne, worketh in him, assuring our selues that vnlesse it beat vs downe in humility, we are no vessels for Christ to dwel in, neyther doth the doc∣trine of faith (now folowing) in any respect appertai∣nie vnto vs.
The Second Sermon of amend∣ment of life.
THE second branch of this amendment doth now fol∣low: which is faith in Ie∣sus Christ, whereby they in whome the former doc∣trine worketh terrour for their sinnes, are erected and comforted: of the which, be∣fore I speake, it shall not be amisse to de∣clare* the diuers vses of the word fayth, in the scriptures, least we should take that for faith in Christ which is not: it is ta∣ken especially in thrée significatiōs. First, it is vsed for beleuing the word of God to be true, called commonly, a historicall fayth, whereby man is perswaded that the things done and recorded in the scrip∣tures are not fayned, going no further: this faith is most properly in deuils, for they know and beleue that all the things there spoken shall be performed, but be∣cause they haue no comfort therein, they Page [unnumbered] tremble at the consideration thereof. which thing we sée also vttered by the de∣uils* through the mouth of the possessed, saying: art thou come to torment vs be∣fore our time? whereby they acknowledg that they looked for torments, but they would haue the time prolonged, so longe as they could: this fayth is hardly to be found in mankinde, for Satan can teach them that be wicked a lessō that he could* neuer learne him self, namely that the word of God is not true: that it is but a fable. And therefore you shall sée, & heare them being reprooued by the ministery of the word, either to be as blockes not mo∣uing abit, or sung a sléepe with the voice of the minister: or else openly blaspheme and mocke the word. These be notable Schollers, that haue learned more then their maister the Deuill. It must néedes be therefore, that they be as neare con∣dempnation as he. Secondly, it is taken for the working of miracles, in which sense it is vsed where it is saide: if ye had* but fayth as a graine of mustard séede, & should say vnto this mulbery trée, pluck Page [unnumbered] thy selfe vp by the rootes, and plante thy selfe in the sea, it should euen obey you. This kinde of fayth was very rife in the* primitiue church, when the gospell was to be planted in the whole worlde: for God gaue vnto the Apostles power to confirme their doctrine with signes and wonders. But afterwarde it ceased, only the ordinary confirmation by the prea∣ching of the word remayneth now amōg vs. This fayth hath bene and may be in* a man that is a reprobate and cast away:* for some shall say in the latter day, Lord haue not we cast out deuils in thy name? to whome it shallbe answered I know ye not, departe from me ye workers of ini∣quitie. The strength of Antechrist was foreshewed to be with signes and greate* wonders. And it is also sayde by our Sauiour himselfe, speaking of the last & dangerous times: that there shall arise false Christes and false Prophets, that shall shew great signes and wonders, so y•, if it were possible, they should deceiue euen the very elect: which we haue séene and dayly doe sée by experience, especially Page [unnumbered] in the confirmation of Antechristes king∣dome. Thirdly, faith is taken in the scrip∣tures, for that fayth whereby we appre∣hende the mercy of God to saluation, com∣monly called Iustifiing fayth, which so beleueth the word of God to be true, that it applieth the whole, as profitable to himselfe, the threatenings to feare him from sinne, and the promises of God in Iesus Christ, vnto his owne comfort and consolation: and then both to drawe him on to godlynesse: in these thrée senses is fayth most commonly vsed in the worde of God. The last is that which appertay∣neth to our purpose, whereof we are to speake yet more at large. It may be thus* desyned. Fayth is a certaine knowledge, and sure perswasion of the frée fauour of God in Iesus Christ, grounded vpon the promises of God in his holy worde, and sealed in our hearts by the holy Ghoste. This definition, containing in it ye whole substance and summe of our fayth, is to be enlarged further, to the ende that eue∣ry parte and parcel thereof may the more plainely be knowen.
Page [unnumbered]Certaine knowledge. This is the beginning and (as it were) the cause of fayth: for* (as the appostle sayeth) he that commeth to God, must beléeue that there is a God: so he that beleueth, must first know what to beleue, and learne the doctrine of sal∣uation out of the worde: and therfore our Sauiour Christ in that heauenly prayer that he made a little before his passion* hath these wordes. This is life eternall that they know thée to be the onely very God, and whome thou hast sent Iesus Christ. The which place (though it con∣taine in it fayth also) yet it is forcible to prooue, that knowledge must goe before faith, for it is the nature of faith to beleue that it certainely knoweth: and therfore where there is no knowledge, there can be no faythe. Then let all men iudge what doctrine that was, which taught ignorance to be the mother of deuotion: and forbid the people the knowledge of the worde of God, it was euen to blind∣folde our eyes that we might fall into the pitte of perdition before we beware, it was to hide the keyes of the kingdome Page [unnumbered] of heauen, so that they neyther entered them selues, neyther suffered others to* enter. But blessed be God, who of his great and infinite mercy, hath eased vs of that burthen, and granted vnto vs his holy word. The which albeit many a∣monge vs do little estéeme, because their consciences are seared with a hote yron, that they cannot sée the necessity of it.* And therefore doe loath the hearing of the same preached: yet we know that fayth commeth by hearing, and hearing by the worde of God. And albeit, it was to the Iewes a stumbling blocke, and the Gre∣cians* foolishnesse: and is now to the su∣persticious Papist, Heresie: and to the conceited wise man of the worlde néede∣lesse, or too base for him to meddle with∣all: yet it then was, and now is, and euer shall be, to them that beleue, the power of God to saluation, and that by preaching* the which must make vs (if we haue any loue to our owne soules health or desire of fayth) to meditate in the worde of God day and night: and to loue and like it a∣boue* any profite or pleasure, this know∣ledge Page [unnumbered] must be certain, for knowledge be∣ing the ground work of fayth, if it be vn∣stable, the building cannot stande sure: which certeinty standeth in these two poyntes: first to be perswaded of the vn∣doubted truth of Gods word: and second∣ly of the absolute sufficiencie thereof, not to néede any traditions of men to make it perfect, for so much as it is euery waie perfect it self. These two things are duely to be considered, and so much the rather, for that Sathan fighteth to shake them both, laying the truth of the word vpon the approbation and allowance of men: and foysting dreames, and fancies of idle brayned persons into it, to consūmate the perfection of the same.
Sure perswasion. This is the substance and nature of fayth, which doeth arise (by the working of Gods spirite with the worde) out of the knowledge of the same: that hereby we are not only perswaded of the truth of his worde, but also beleue vndoubtedly without wauering, to be partakers of the mercies of God in Iesus Christ. The names that the holy Ghost Page [unnumbered] ascribeth vnto this fayth, in the doctrine of the apostles, be notable to proue the same not to be wauering, but sure and certaine: it is called a ground or founda∣tion: a stedfaste fayth: and assurance of fayth without wauering: a full assurance:* an anchor of our soule both sure and sted∣fast: which comparison is notable, for as the anchor, though the shippe be tossed & moued with the waues and tempests, yet it is still safe and holdeth fast: euen so faith, what troubles or trials so euer befal vnto the godly in this world, doth neuer let go his hold that it hath in Iesus Christ but cleaueth vnto him and dependeth vp∣on his mercy in all extremities, and so the Children of God féeling the comfort of Gods grace, and hauing a sure hope of the performance of Gods promises vnto them are certaine and sure to be saued. The which doctrine, Satan hath euer la∣boured, and doth greatlie at this day la∣bour to darken and extinguish: affirming it pride and presumption to dare be so bold, as to be assured of saluation. Which thing is true, if the certainty therof stoode Page [unnumbered] any way in man himselfe, who is natu∣rally filled with al sinne and incredulity, but while they take their markes amisse, they greatly dishonour God. For marke this well: God promiseth in his worde eternall life to all that beleue: thou say∣est thou beleuest, and I say so too: thou art not sure to be saued: and I say that I am. Which of vs twaine doth offende most? the cause why thou canste not be sure, is for that thou arte sinfull. And therefore God may cast thée off. Contra∣rywise the cause why I am sure is the truth and the power of God: his truth, because I doe not doubt, but that he will be as good as his promise: his power, be∣cause all things are possible to him. This is the ground and foundation of the cer∣tainty of my hope, least I should mistrust God, or extenuate his power. For in this I looke not vpon mine owne worthynes (for then must I néedes doubt) but vpon him that promised: and that I doe well in so doing, I prooue by the testimony of* the scripture concerning Abrahā, whose fayth I am to followe: of whome it is Page [unnumbered] said that he neither did consider his owne body being now dead (which was almost a hundred yeares olde) neither the dead∣nesse of Saraas wombe: neyther did hée doubt of the promise of God through vn∣beliefe (marke, here doubtinge termed vnbeliefe) but was strengthened in the fayth, and gaue glory to God (then wa∣uering dishonoureth God) being fully assured that he which had promised, was also able to performe it. This being my warrante I am assured that whosoeuer doubt of their saluation, haue no fayth at all. The reasons that the aduersaries* of this doctrine doe alleadge (because they séeme to carrie some colour of truthe in them) are to be considered: first (say they) there is in al men naturally a feare: but where is feare, there is doubting, and therefore all men must néedes doubte. Whereunto I answere confessinge the whole, and yet it maketh nothing against me: for the feare that is in all men is na∣turall, and is the worke of the flesh, and (indéede) doth striue against fayth, as the regenerate man doth against the vnrege∣nerate, Page [unnumbered] or the outward man against the inward: but as the Children of God are through Iesus Christ more then conque∣rers through him that loueth them: so true faith ouercometh, yea expelleth feare and maketh vs to approche with confi∣dent boldnes vnto the throne of his grace. Further they obiecte, that we are com∣maunded,* by Sainct Paule to worke our saluation with feare and trembling, the which we néeded not to doe, if we were sure to be saued. I answere that we must so, but we doe not worke fayth in our selues, and therefore the apostle speak∣eth there of the continuall conuersation of Christians, which in regarde of the maiestie of God, alwayes beholdinge them, and the quicke eyes of the wicked narrowly espying into them, must bée maruelous careful that they doe not dis∣please so great and good a God, and wary that they giue the aduersary no aduaun∣tage. Whereby he may take occasion to dishonour God, and to speake ill of the Gospell. A meditation neuer to passe out of our mindes: and yet maketh nothing Page [unnumbered] against the assurance of our fayth. They obiecte yet further, and say, no man is sure that he shall stand: for Dauid, Lot,* & Peter, with many moe that were god∣lier then we, haue fallen. I answere, I am not sure to stand in sinceritie of con∣uersation: for it may please God to suf∣fer me to fall into that sinne, wherevnto I am naturally prone, to the end to shew me my owne weakenes, and his greate mercy: but I am sure I shall neuer fall finally, because he that hath begonne a good worke in me will performe it vntill the day of Iesus Christ: for whom God* loueh he loueth vnto the ende. so that I or whosoeuer else doth féele himselfe comforted with an vnfained persuasion of Gods loue, may thererby assure him∣selfe of Gods fauour for euer. A notable example whereof we haue in the seruant of God Dauid, who by the consideration of the helpe that he had against the Lion* and the Beare, in the wildernesse, is strengthened to go against Goliah, say∣ing, that God that deliuered me out of the hands of them, shal also saue me from Page [unnumbered] vncircūcised philistine: so y• our assurance standeth in the mercy of god & not in our obedience, which staggereth daily. Lastly they say, certainty of saluatiō standeth in Gods eternal election, and who knoweth* whether he is elected or no? answere, the foundation (indéede) standeth in election, & is the root of our assurance, but to say ye none knoweth whether he be elected or* no, is to say that none be called: for he y• is called is elected, because whom god elec∣teth him he calleth: so that whosoeuer can proue to me by infallible marks out of y•* word, that he is called wt the inward cal∣ling, to him I can proue his owne parti∣cular election: & therefore whē they say y• none knoweth whether he be elected, they shewe plainelie that themselues be not called, and then no maruaile if they doubt of their saluatiō when they know not whether they be within the compasse of Gods grace in calling or no. Therfore let him (whosoeuer he be) whether papist pelagian, libertine, familiā or atheist (for al these shake hands in this point) labour diligently by hearing and reading of the word, and praier, to find out what ye will Page [unnumbered] of God is, and to try himselfe whether, it doth work in him or no: and not con∣demne ye truth of God to be false, because his carnal wit cannot attaine vnto it: but let him rather cōdemne himselfe, because he findeth not in himselfe the marks that the word of God painteth them out with all, that are the children of God
Of the free fauour of God. This is the thing which we must know, and where∣of we must be undoubtedly perswaded: that is that God of his mere mercy in Ie∣sus Christ hath vouchsafed to adopt vs to be his children, not regarding any thing in vs that is ill to hinder: nor any good to further the same. Which doctrine is in many places of scripture set downe to vs,* as in that confession of Peter, our Saui∣our saieth, flesh and bloud hath not re∣uealed this vnto thée but my father which is in heauen. And in another place: No* man commeth vnto mée, vnlesse my fa∣ther draweth him: without Christe we can doe nothing for we are not able of our selues to thinke a good thought, seing that it is he that worketh in vs both to Page [unnumbered] will, and to performe. And yet notwith∣standing all these expresse sentences of the holy scripture we sée how man labou∣reth by maine and might, to establish merit, and to maintaine frée will in man: to be good if he list. But we haue learned out of Gods word that all the imaginati∣ons of the heart of man are altogither e∣uill,* and that there is in our selues no good thing: and therefore our faith lea∣neth vpon the sole and onely mercy of God for our saluation, and in regarde of our owne vnworthinesse doth in true humility cast downe our mindes to bée ruled, and guided by his blessed worde.
In Iesus Christ. Because wée finde in the word of God that God is iust and that we be sinners, and therefore in his iustice though he would he cannot pardon vs: our faith findeth out a meane whereby the iustice of God is satisfied to the full & also his mercy purchased for vs, which is Iesus Christ both God and man▪ to o∣uercome (as he is God) all the enimies of our saluation, Sathan, sinne, and death, and to suffer (as he is man) all y•Page [unnumbered] paines and tormentes that we had de∣serued both in body and soule, and so pre∣senteth vs in his owne righteousnesse and merits, blamelesse before the face of God, and maketh vs heyres of his e∣ternall glory. This being set downe in fewe wordes, is the substance of the gos∣pell: he telleth vs by his owne mouthe* that no man commeth to the father but by him and S. Paule saieth that in him are all the promises of God, yea, and a∣men: because he is the waye whereby al the mercyes of God are conueyed vnto* vs, the father being we pleased in him. The vse of which doctrine (being right∣ly applied) is very comfortable: for first it bringeth vnto vs a comfort, that the seuere wrath of God is appeased a∣gainst vs. Secondly it teacheth, that in all our néedes and necessities, in all our praiers and thankesgiuing and in the whole course of our conuersation, we are to begge the Lords assistance: in & through his sonne our Sauiour Iesus Christ, in whome he is pleased, and with∣out whose mediation, our praiers are Page [unnumbered] abhominable, our praises stinck in the nostrells of the father, and we our selues are the abiecte and refuse of the world.
Grounded vpon the promises of God. &c. This is set downe to shewe whereupon faith taketh hold, to wit the promises of God: for when we heare out of the word of God, what mercy God promiseth vn∣to them that beléeue in him: it is the of∣fice of a true faith to apply the same par∣ticularly vnto our selues: whereby we sée that same yet further veryfied that was spoken before, that faith respecteth not our selues, nor nothing that is in vs, but the promises which God offereth vnto vs in his blessed word: and therefore our faith is not to respecte the decrées of mā, nor to leane vpon any thing, sauing ye word of God only, which is the thing whereby faith is wrought, strengthe∣ned and established in our heartes.
Sealed in our heartes by the holy Ghost. The promises of God are generall offe∣red indifferently to al men both good and bad, without exception, in the ministery of the word, and yet effectuall only to a Page [unnumbered] fewe: and therefore here may arise a question, how I may assure myne owne soule and cōscience that they be particu∣larly applied vnto me. Which is an∣swered thus by doctrine, though euery man féeleth best by his owne experience when the word is preached to many, we sée that it is effectuall onelie to fewe, because in the most it knocketh only in their outward eares, & moueth them no∣thing at al: but to those few vnto whom it is effectuall, God openeth their hearts that they attend vnto the word: and as by* the same he speaketh, through the mini∣stery of man, vnto the outward eares, so inwardly he preacheth vnto the soule by his holy spirit, whereby those words are ingraffed into their hearts, & they vnfai∣nedly perswaded of them in their soules: which spirit doth kéep cōtinual residence* in their hearts afterward, assuring them of his mercy. This S. Paul setteth down, saying we haue not receiued ye spirit of bōdage to feare againe, but the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba father: ye same spirit witnesseth we ours, that we Page [unnumbered] are the children of God: and in an other place: it is God which stablisheth vs with you in Christ, and hath anointed* vs, who hath also sealed vs, and hath gi∣uen the earnest of his spirite into our heartes, hereby we know that we dwell in him and he in vs, because he hath gi∣uen* vs of his spirit. This being euident by the word, that whomsoeuer God cal∣leth he sealeth with his holy spirit, it re∣steth y• euery one of vs examine him∣selfe how he féeleth himselfe affected in this point: whether we can féele this spirite comfort vs at all times and sea∣sons or no. The which triall that it may be the better, I will set downe thrée ef∣fects of this spirit in them that haue it,* whereby thou mayest examine thy selfe. The first is this, whereas we by nature cannot away with, or care not for the worde of God, because it is to our rea∣son méere folishnes, the holy ghost wor∣keth in vs alone of the same, to take de∣light and comfort in hearing and rea∣ding of it & therefor they are said to be of God y• heare his word. Which sentence Page [unnumbered] Saint Iohn applieth to the hearing of of the ministers of God, preaching the the same worde. The second is the fruit that floweth out of this, which is com∣fort by the word, and increase of faith, with féeling of the working of the same in our hearts: for many heare the word, and that with some ioy, who yet haue lit∣tle comfort by it, for that they cannot ap∣plie it to themselues for their particular vse and profit. Therefore this is the ef∣fect of the holy ghost, to be vnfainedly perswaded, that all the mercies of God in Iesus Christ promised in his word are as effectuall to me, as if they were set downe only to me by name. The 3. is a loathing of sinne, and a thirsting after godlines: whereby we indeuour to leaue sinne, and to liue in all obedience of conuersation. This Saint Paule set∣teth* downe in expresse wordes, saying, if any man haue not the spirit of Christ the same is none of his: and if Christ be in you the body is deade because of sin: but the spirit is life for righteousnesse sake: so then these thrée, Loue to the Page [unnumbered] word, Perswasion of Gods mercyes, and Reformation of life, are in all them that haue the holy ghost. Thus we sée briefely the particular pointes of of faith set downe out of the word of God.
The third Sermon of amend∣ment of Life.
NOw remaineth to speak of the fruites and effectes of the same faith, which are wrought by it in the heartes of all them that* haue it, which be of two sorts, inward in the soule, and outward in the conuersation, inwarde be 1, Re∣mission of sinnes. 2. The loue of the Fa∣ther. 3, Promise to be hearde in our praiers, All which procéede one out of another: Outwarde is godlines in life and conuersation. For the first which is remission of sinnes, to be the fruite of faith, is proued by many places of scrip∣ture: our Sauiour Iesus Christ hauing a man sicke of the palsey broughte vnto him, seing their faith, said, be of good comforte, thy sinnes are forgiuen thée. Where we haue to cōsider, that not their* faith, but his owne, applied remission Page [unnumbered] of sinnes vnto him. S. Paule in a long discourse in that heauenly Epistle writ∣ten* to the Romans, concludeth with these wordes: We conclude that a man is iustified by faith, without the works* of the law. The prophet also sayeth▪ that a iust man liueth by his faith. The rea∣sons that the Apostle vseth to proue this are many: I will onelie set downe three of them which are most apparant, and e∣uident: The first is this: by the testimo∣nie of the old testament it is proued,* that al men haue erred and done amisse, there is none that doth good, no not one: so that al hauing sinned, and be that hath sinned in one is guiltie in all: it muste needes follow, that none can be saued by their workes, and therefore, either by faith or not at all. The second is by the sentence and promise of the Lawe. This doe and thou shalt liue: but curssed is he that abideth not in all these commande∣mentes to doe them: but none is able to doe so, for then Christe dyed in vaine, and his death had béene to no purpose: & therefore al men beyng, by nature, vnder Page [unnumbered] the cursse, and not able to redéeme them∣selues: it followeth that he who was* without sin (Iesus Christ) must be their redemption, and applied vnto them by faith. Thirdly by the nature of the pro∣mise made to our father Abraham, thus: The same way that Abraham was ius∣tified and acquited from sinne, the same way are all his children iustified: but he was iustified by faith, for he beléeued God, and it was imputed vnto him for righteousnesse: and therefore must all the godly for euer be iustified by faith: so that this must stand for an vndoubted truth, that he which séeketh any other way to haue his sinnes put away (whe∣ther it be by pardons, merits, or any way else) then onely by faith apprehen∣ding the merites of Christ, cannot be comforted in his soule by certaine per∣suasion, but must néeds stagger and wa∣uer continually.
The second inward fruite of faith is the loue of God the father, which com∣meth vnto vs when our sinnes are for∣giuen: for as man is separated from God Page [unnumbered] by reason of sinne and iniquitie, so the same being remoued and taken away, God and Man are made one, and be re∣conciled togither againe, by which recon∣ciliation the loue of God is precured by the reconciler Iesus Christ, to haue his full course and passage vnto man. The which our Sauiour ment, when he saied: the father loueth you, because ye haue lo∣ued mée and beleued in me: which thinge S. Iohn also ment, when he said, that ye effecte of the Gospell is that we mighte* haue fellowshippe with the father and with his sonne Iesus Christe: Of which* thing whosoeuer is truly perswaded, he shall haue in his soule and conscience an vnspeakable comforte: for as there is no∣thing more grieuous vnto man (if he cō∣sider it well) then to haue the heauie hād of God vpon him, and his seuere counte∣nance against him, so nothing can bée more swéete and comfortable, then to bée perswaded of his fauour, and fatherlye loue towardes him. Out of which ariseth to the godly that peace of conscience, and ioy in soule, that passeth all vnderstand∣ing: Page [unnumbered] which thing our Sauiour ment* whē he said to his disciples: peace I leaue with you, my peace I giue vnto you: not as the worlde giue, giue I vnto you. Let not your heartes be troubled, nor feare:* which also S. Paule ment when he said: being iustified by faith we haue peace toward God: and in another place, peace is reckened vp among the fruites of the spirit. Examples whereof we haue in* the scriptures: the Eunuch of Ethiopia, being instructed in the faith, and bapti∣sed by Phillip the Euangelist, it is saide that he went on his way reioycing. The same is reported of the Iayler that was conuerted by the preaching of Paule, that he reioyced because that he with all his houshold beléeued in God: Marie likewise ieioyced (not so much in that she was the mother of Christ) but in God hir Saui∣our. So that this being by the word of* God proued to be one of the fruites of a true faith, it resteth that euery one of vs doe wey our selues, examining our hearts how great we finde this ioy in vs, the which although (I doubt not) it is Page [unnumbered] found in great measure in the heartes of some, yet I feare in the most it is ve∣ry little or nothing at all. For if we* may iudge the trée by the fruites, some haue so so great pleasure and delighte in scraping worldly pelfe togither: other in banquetting and dronkennesse: and ma∣ny in chambering and wantonnesse: y• it is hard to finde that man or woman, that sheweth forth vnto the worlde, the signes: of ioy in the holy ghost which argueth vs to be carnal and fleshly min∣ded, not sauouring of the spirit of God.
The third inward fruite is a promise that God hath made vnto vs, that he will heare our praiers, and graunt our re∣quests: which thing is promysed by: the* mouth of Christ Iesus vnto al beléeuers, saying, verely verely I say vnto you, whatsoeuer ye aske the father in my* name he will giue it you, which thing wée sée veryfied vnto the Centurion, to whome it was said: as thou haste belée∣ued so bée it vnto thée, and his seruaunt was made hole the same houre. And likwise to the two blind men, who cried, Page [unnumbered] sonne of Dauid haue mercy vpon vs: to whome he aunswered, according to your faith be it vnto you. Which doctrine must néedes be vnto the faithfull an ex∣ceading comfort: for we sée the mani∣fold daungers wherevnto we be subiect, the diuerse temptations wherewithall Satan laboreth to ouerthrow our soules and the manifold tribulations that doe dayly befal to the bodye, as the slaun∣ders and iniuries done vnto vs by the wicked, the sicknesse, pouerty and néede that lay hold vpon vs: against all which we haue no shield nor defence, but only to fly vnto the Lord by humble and hear∣ty praier. the which if he should not re∣gard, our state were miserable and we of all other most wretched, if wee shold not be heard of him, for whose sake we hazzard all our liberties in the world, and oppose our selues against his soes: then could we looke for nothing but vt∣ter confusion both of body and soule: but in that he hath promised, that if we call vpon him in y• day of our trouble he wil* heare and deliuer vs: we gather thereby Page [unnumbered] an vndoubted comfort against al afflicti∣ons, that either the Lord will remoue them from vs, or else graunte vs suche strength and patience, that we shall not onely sustaine and beare them, but also triumph ouer them, to his greate glory, and our owne exceading comfort. where vpon we resting (as vpon an anchor both sound and stedfast) doe most willinglye lay downe our neckes vnder the yoke of Gods correction, being certainely persua∣ded, that all things shall fall out for the best vnto vs, if we doe vnfainedly feare him. Yet this doctrine giueth no warrāt to the carnall and fleshly praiers of na∣turall* men, who when they heare that God will graunt whatsoeuer is asked in his sonnes name, doe by and by aske ri∣ches, honor, promotions, and worldely* dignities: but for such wishes S. Iames telleth vs that we aske and receiue not, because we aske amisse, that we mighte bestowe it vpon our owne lusts. There∣fore* to aske in the name of Christe, is to aske according to his wil, that is, to pray for the gifts of the spirit, for the strength∣ning Page [unnumbered] of the soule absolutely, and for the thinges of this life, with condition, that is, if it be his will: and if we thus pray against any inward weakenesse, or out∣ward extremitie: & yet are not heard, we must thinke our praiers haue not bene sufficiently faithfull and feruent, or God séeth it better for vs, to kéep vs vnder the rod, to schoole vs: and hauing learned this lesson, we should haue great com∣fort in our prayers, though they be not granted: and ioy in the crosse, euen whē it is most grieuous, for whē we are wea∣kest in our selues then be we strongest in the Lord. This fruit of faith bringeth forth many other, as first Hope, which* is a looking for the performance of that which is promised, with a trust to ob∣teine it. For when I sée that God hath not onely promised eternall life, but all things also necessary for this present life vnto al them that with a hearty and true faith aske them at his hands, I beléeuing the Lord that he will performe it, doe dayly expect & looke for the performance thereof, and in the meane while doe féed Page [unnumbered] my desire with a continuall expectation for the same to be reuealed: wayting for the Lordes leasure, vntill it be his good pleasure to accomplish the same vnto me And this is a notable vertue, being stead∣fast: for we sée both by the Scriptures, and our owne experience, how the Lord promiseth, and then séemeth to with∣drawe* his hand, he promised the lande of Canaan to the Israelites, and yet kept them 400 yeares without it. He pro∣mised deliuerance from Captiuitie, and yet kept them seuentie yeares in it. He promised Iesus Christ the Sauiour of the world, the séed of the woman to bruse the heade of the Serpent, almost foure thousande yeares before he came in the flesh, and so he dealeth with vs: which thing because it is not presently perfor∣med, the wicked distrust, and take their* present pleasure of those things that bée here, following their greate graundfa∣ther Esau. in selling the birthrighte of the kingdome of Heauen for a messe of pot∣tage of pleasure, in this world choosing rather to enioy the pleasures of sinne for Page [unnumbered] a season, and so perish afterwarde eter∣naly, thē to suffer heauinesse for a night, and want for a moment that they might inioy the kingdome of heauen. But contrarywise, the godly beléeuing God, and trusting to his promises, doe with patience abide, with earnest praier beg, and with hope looke for the manifestati∣on of all Gods promises to their great and endlesse comfort: and of one of these sortes is euery one of vs: and therefore let vs examine our owne consciences. The second vertue is Patience y• daugh∣ter* of Hope: for as it is in thinges of this world, a man that hath bene longe ex∣ercised in any labour, though it be at the first neuer so grieuous vnto him, be∣cause he séeth it cannot be auoided, he is contented to vndergo the paine there∣of, and with patience he procéedeth: euen so it is in the looking for the promises of God, the troubles that we indure here for Christes sake, at the first they be very grieuous, and the wante of the ac∣complishment of them doth bring greate lamentation and griefe: but when we sée Page [unnumbered] that God hath ordaind that it must be so, that his must be fed with hope, and tried with adueruties: it maketh vs (if we be Gods children) as méek as lambs, and milde as Moses, and as patient (as we say) as Iob. So that you sée, howe those thinges that be bitter to the fleshe, turne to the great honor, and glory of God, and our owne good: in that it in∣creaseth vertue & godlinesse in vs. The* third and last vertue that this hope brin∣geth forth is Contentation: a singular and heauenly vertue, the rarest flower that the garden of mans soule bringeth forth: which is this, when I sée by the eyes of faith, the narrow way that God hath appointed for his children, and that euery extremitie bringeth forth a happie successe to them that feare God, therefore doe hope that the Lorde being pleased with me in his sonne my sauiour Iesus Christ: it bréedeth this in me and must doe the same in all Gods children, to be very willing, and contented with that crosse which he hath lotted out vnto me, and be so farre from murmuring and Page [unnumbered] grudging, that God hath left me vnder the crosse: that I muste greatly re∣ioyce therein. Which thing we doe not only sée practised by y• holy apostls of our Sauiour Iesus Christ, who did reioice y• they were counted worthy to suffer for* his name, but also prescribed vnto all Gods children, that because all that will liue godly in Iesus Christ must suffer persecution, and enter into the knigdom of God by many tribulations and afflic∣ons: that therefore we must account it exceading ioy, when wée fal into diuers temptations, knowing that the triall of our faith bringeth forth patience, and pa¦cience, hauing hir perfect worke, brin∣geth forth perfection. The outwarde fruite of which Contentation is also cō∣tentatyon with our estate and calling, wherein the Lord hath set vs: that, so it be neuer so poore, base, contemptible, or laborious: seing that God in whō we repose all confidence, of whose loue we be perswaded, hath set vs therein, we must thinke it the most conuenient standing for vs: and be well contented Page [unnumbered] therewithall, labouring to do our duty therein, with all sinceritie and care to deale iustly and truly: which lesson (a pitifull thing to thinke) is scarse lear∣ned of any: for we sée how ye poore acount rich in good estate: the rich déemeth the poore to liue most at ease: subiects admi∣re the happinesse of princes: and princes wish to themselues the secure condition of their inferiours, Wherevpon it com∣meth, that euery one (almost) setting his eies vppon the glory and outwarde shewe of an other man, starteth aside from his standing and is carelesse in his calling: as magistrates become careles: mean men (looking aloft) wax couetous, séeking to grow greate by extortion and vsery: artificers to inrich themselues vnlawfully, by facing and lying, swea∣ring and forswearing: so that the head is sicke and the whole heart heauie, from the top to the toe, there is nothing whole* therein, but woundes and swelling, and soares full of corruption, And in this generall apostacy (I quake to think it) & my toūg faltereth in my mouth to speak Page [unnumbered] it: they that should be lanternes of light to others, they from whose mouthes should come the swéete word of eternal life, and in whose liues should shine the Image of Christ Iesus most cléerely (a∣las) are so clogged and cloyed with pro∣motions and dignities of this worlde, that they cleane forget what calling they haue, what charge is layed vpon them, and what a heauie reckoning they haue to make: in so much, y• some falling from their first loue, doe now persecute that which heretofore they haue prea∣ched: others, because they thirst after gaines and vaine glory, forsake Christ* with Demas, and imbrace this world, vsing all lawfull and vnlawfull wayes to winne the woll, not regarding what become of those pilled shéepe, the flocke. Where from springeth a mistery more grieuous then all these: that the people of God, for whom Christ Iesus did shed his most precious bloud, are so harde∣ned in Atheisme. and godlesnesse: that a man bad as good speake to a stone, as to y• most, concerning any matter of re∣ligion. Page [unnumbered] And all these with infinite mo abhominations spring hence, ye men are so carelesse to kéepe their standing: to be contented to abide the heate of the day, and discharge that duty with an vpright consciēce that God hath laid vpon them I would to God that the due considera∣tion of these enormities were setled in the heades and heartes, not only of e∣uery particular person, whose faulte it is, but especially into theirs, vnto whō God hath inioyned to sée these thinges redressed: that thereby we might be cō∣pelled not to trifle with God, and his ser∣uice, as we doe, and extoll a bare sha∣dowe so long, vntill the Lord remoue from vs the substance (which God for∣bid) but that we might all be compelled to labour in the vineyard of the Lord, for the instruction and comforte of his peo∣ple, or else cast out as stones that make men stumble, and salt that being vnsa∣uery is good for nothing. That euery mā (if of himselfe he will not) may be con∣strained to obey the Lord according to his word, and to serue him for the furthe∣rance Page [unnumbered] of his glory in a lawful and holy calling, warranted by the word of God: vntill which time it is vnpossible that the Gospel should florish effectually in this land, because God will blesse no∣thing but his owne institution and or∣dinance: for the chaffe and corne cannot agrée togither, neither is it law∣full for the Gentiles to be suffered to ioyne with the Iewes in the building of the temple, though they seeme neuer so glosingly to offer their helping hande therevnto. Least it should afterwarde be said that the Iewes were not able to doe it, without the helpe of their foes, and so it should be a dishonour to their God. The Lord giue vs eies that we may see, and heartes that we may per∣ceiue what is his will, and howe he wil be serued.
The outwarde fruite of faith is god∣linesse of conuersation, which in the be∣ginning was made one branch of amēd∣ment of life: and you sée nowe how it procéedeth from faith & floweth out of it, as the fruite from the trée, and water Page [unnumbered] out of the fountaine. The which may be thus defined: it is an earnest, and care∣full* indeuour to obey and fulfill the law of God, growing out of faith, and direc∣ted to those which God hath appointed: that is, to his glory, the comfort of our consciences, and the benefit of our bre∣thren. In that it is said, that obedience is an earnest and carefull indeuour: the meaning is, that we must not only think* it our duty to serue God according to his will, and to obey his commande∣mentes (which all godlesse persons will confesse) but also study and earnestlie care to doe the same in déed. For eue∣ry one that sayth Lord, Lord, shall not enter into the kingdome of heauen: But he that doth the will of my heauenly fa∣ther* (saith Christ) which is in heauen: Not the hearers of the lawe are righte∣ous before God, but the doers of the law shalbe iustified: for if any (sayth S. Iam) heare the word and doe it not, he is like vnto a man that beholdeth his naturall face in a glasse, but when he hath consi∣derd himselfe, he goeth away, and forgets Page [unnumbered] imediately what manner of one he was. But who so looketh into the perfect lawe of liberty, and continueth therein, he not being a forgetfull hearer, but a doer of the worke, shall be blessed in his déede. All which sentences are spoken by the holy Ghost to this ende, that we should knowe, that it is néedefull for vs (nay faith will bring it forth, if it be in vs) to liue in godlines to reforme our affection inwardly, & our conuersation outwardly according to the prescript rule of Gods word. Wherein how carelesse y• worlde is, and how little reckoning is made hereof, all men that will try the truth by the touchstone of Gods word shall ea∣sily sée. For euery man now a dayes, if he can put on the name of a protestant if he can make any shewe at all, by and by he taketh himselfe, and is also taken of others, to be of a true and sound re∣ligion: yea though his life and conuersa∣tion doe sweare the contrarye, being fraughted with all sinne and iniquitie. These are they that turne the grace of God into wantonnesse: that sinne be∣cause Page [unnumbered] they are not vnder the law but vn∣der grace▪ that will make sinne abound that grace may superabound, that will doe euill, that good may come thereof: whose damnation is iust. But we haue not so learned Christ, and notwithstan∣ding the worldlinges be carelesse of god∣ly conuersation, yet we haue vnto vs many reasons set downe in the word of* God to bring vs therevnto: First the commandement of God in the Law re∣iterated by the mouth of our sauiour Ie∣sus Christ: be ye perfect, euen as your heauenly father is perfecte: and S. Paul meaning to set downe the same thinge, sayeth this is the will of God, euen your sanctification. Now it being the commā∣dement, and will of God, who is ye God of power, a reuenger of sinne, and puni∣sher of iniquitie, it should be euen as a thousand whippes to driue vs, and ten thousand cartropes to hale vs vnto the* same: for he is not a God that loueth wickednesse, neither shall euyll dwell with him: and we knowe that we shal al come before his throne and seate of iudg∣ment, Page [unnumbered] where he will giue sentence we∣out partiality, and iudge all men, not ac∣cording to their outward confession, but acording to their deedes, where he will say: depart from me ye workers of ini∣iquitie: so that this should marueylously* inawe vs, to consider with our selues, that if we carelesly goe on, and heape sinne vpon sinne, neuer a whit or little regarding whether we liue godly or no, surely we can assure our selues of no o∣ther sentence at the day of iudgment, but goe ye cursed. Secondly, the consi∣deration of Gods manifold blessings be∣stowed* vpon vs in his son Iesus Christ should make vs to liue godly: The which was notablie figured to vs in ye world∣ly blessings that God bestowed vpon y• Iewes: vnto whom the Lord (meaning to set before them as in a glasse their e∣state by nature, and wherevnto he had* brought them) sayeth, thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother an Hittite. I found thée in the wast and roaring wil∣dernesse: and led thée about, and taughte thée, and kept thée as the apple of myne Page [unnumbered] eye, As the Eagle stirreth vp hir neast, flootereth ouer hir birds, stretcheth out hir winges, taketh them and beareth them on hir winges: so I alone led thee (saieth the Lord) All which being sette downe in earthly tearmes vnto them, as was his manner, for their instruction are more plainely exhibited vnto vs: which are in effect thus much. Wée are* conceiued and borne in sinne, by nature the children of wrath, the bondslaues of Sathan, and hejres of Hell: which state of ours, the mercifull father of heauen pittiyng, rather then we should perish, hath sent his deare and only son Iesus to take on him our nature, to suffer ye paine that we haue deserued, and thereby not only hath fréed vs from condemnation, but purchased for vs eternall saluation in the kingdome of heauen: whereby in the meane whyle, all that we doe (which of it selfe is stincking in the nos∣trills of the Lord) is accepted, being in any measure good: and his creatures, which before were accursed, vnto vs and for vs are blessed, sanctified to our com∣forte. Page [unnumbered] The which (so oft as we consider it) must make vs very carefull to shew our selues thanckefull vnto our good and mercifull God: and carefullye to glorifie him with that obedience that he hath prescribed vnto vs in his holy & blessed worde. Unto which the holy ghost doth often times take occasion to exhort vs: I beséech you bretheren, by the mercyes of God, that you giue vp your bodies a liuely sacrifice, holy and acceptable vnto God, and fashion not* your selues like vnto this world, but be you changed in your shape, by the re∣newing of your minds. And in an other place: I pray you that ye walke worthy* of that vocation where vnto ye are called, for ye were darkenes but nowe ye are* light in the Lord, walke as it becom∣meth the children of lighte, being a chosen generation, a royall priesthood,* an holy nation, a veculiar people, that ye should shewe forth the vertue of him that hath called you, out of darkenesse, into his marueylous light: considering that for this ende we are deliuered from Page [unnumbered] the hands of our enimies that we might serue him without feare, all the dayes of our life, in holinesse and righteousnes before him: contrariwise if we haue not this care, and doe not thus indeuour to serue him, what doe we? surely no bet∣ter then did the Phariseis, that perse∣cuted Christ, and Iudas that betraied him, and the souldiours that nailed him on the crosse: for we crucifie him againe, and make a mocke of him. The which thing I would to God y• all they would* consider that haue no care, but how to excell in sinne: no study, but how so defraud: no delight, but how to become the most singular and notorious sinners, as extortioners, vsurers, ruffians, blas∣phemers, and such like: whose whole ioy is in this, that their most mischeuous practises may take place, for the satisfi∣ing of their owne most diuelish desires without either respect of God or the De∣uil: yea and all they likewise, that séeme to be of a better stampe, seruing the Lord with the fancies of their owne braine: and caruing oute for him so Page [unnumbered] much as they thinke good, without any regard or eye vnto his will and commā∣dement: whose gold will proue copper, and their siluer wil be tryed to be drosse, when they shalbe fined in the fornace of Gods iudgementes. Thirdly, the consi∣deration* of our calling is also in y• word of God set downe, as a reason to induce vs to godlinesse. And what is it? Truly if we be of the number of Gods children we are citizens with the Saincts, and of the houshold of God: and we knowe ye* whosoeuer will not obey y• will of a go∣uernour of a house in this world, he tur∣neth him out at ye dores, as an vnfit persō to abide in ye societie of seruāts: & dare we professe to be the houshold seruantes of God, & disobey him? not scaring that he wil cast vs out of his family? We are not called to vncleannesse, but to holines so, if our life be vnpure we deny our* calling: & shut our selues from among Gods children: we are said to be temples for God to dwel in, & wil God dwel with sinfullnesse? can he abide to be in an vn∣cleane* and vnholy habitation? no God Page [unnumbered] is light, and in him is no darknesse: God is pure, and cannot match with the pol∣luted heart. And therefore let vs assure our selues y• without reformation of life; we haue not y• spirit of Christ. Whoso∣euer hath not the spirit of Christ is none of his, but is a reprobate and cast away,* ready to be throwne into the fire of con∣demnatiō. Fourthly, our baptisme must moue vs to godlinesse, for by it we brag our selues to be Christians: but all that* are baptised with the outward baptisme haue not put on Christ, but they onely* ye are baptised with him into his death: that as he died & rose againe vnto righ∣teousnes, so should we dye vnto sinne, & rise againe vnto newnesse of life. For if we he graffed with him into the simili∣tude* of his death▪ euen so shall we be to the similitude of his resurrection: know∣ing this that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sinne may be destroyed, that hence forth we should not serue sinne. Read the whole sixte to the Romans, and consider of it: and if you finde not the same worke in you (at Page [unnumbered] the least in some measure, that is there set downe, assure your selues, you haue not yet learned Christ aright, neither do expresse the fruite of your baptisme in your conuersation, but rather haue got∣ten an outward shewe of godlinesse, and* deny the power thereof, from which all true Christians are commanded to turn* away. Lastly the Lord (who in iustice might compell vs, and giue vs nothing, hath set downe vnto them that liue god∣ly, a reward: that whatsoeuer we doe in his name (that is in a true faithe, with care to obey him, and set forth his praise) though it be worth nothing in it selfe to deserue any thing, yet wée shall haue our reward: which is increase and augmentation of our ioyes in the king∣dome of heauen: and therefore the Lord saith by the mouth of the Prophet, that they which be wise shall shine as the* brightnesse of the firmament, but they that turne many vnto righteousnesse, shall shine as the starres. A doctrine ve∣ry néedfull to be vrged, because of the lazines of Christians in practise, of Page [unnumbered] their profession. And as this is true in the godly, that the greater obedience they shewe, the greater shall be their glory. So on the other side in the wic∣ked, the more heynous their sinnes be, the more intollerable shal their tormēts be, which is to be laid very often before their eyes: for it is the common speach of godlesse persons: if I be damned then what maketh it the matter what I doe, I may giue ouer my selfe to fullfill my lust in all pointes. But let them know this, that as it was said to the pharyseis that they should receiue the greater dam∣nation,* so shal it be vnto thée: thy offen∣ces shall be punished, according to the quantity thereof. And therefore though thou art no otherwise perswaded but y• thou shalt come into condemation, yet feare to haue it multiplied vnto thee, for the least torment wil be more then thou shalt be able to beare. Thus we sée, that the holy ghost in the scripture exhorteth vs (by weighing the commandement of God, by considering the manifolde blessings of God offered to vs in Christ, Page [unnumbered] by the looking into the nature of our cal∣ling, by calling to mind the ende of our baptisme, and lastly by viewing the re∣ward that God hath laid vp to bestowe vpon them that serue him, to liue godlie in this present world: nowe let vs lay them vnto our owne heartes and consci∣ences, and sée whether we haue not iust cause to bid battaile to Satā, to striue a∣gainst our owne lustes, and corrupt af∣fections: and let vs be more carefull thē heretofore we haue béene. Let vs not de∣light in any thing that may displease so louing and mercifull a father. But let vs make an ende of our saluation, with* feare and trembling. Thus much for the first part of the definition of Obedience (that it is an earnest indeuour to obey the Lawes of God) this is the thing we must indeuor to doe, which we are all∣wayes to haue an eye vnto. These lawes are set downe briefely, in the first and second table. The summe whereof stan∣deth in these two pointes, first that we séeke to set forth the glory of God, accor∣ding as he prescribeth in the first table: Page [unnumbered] a thing commonly knowen to all men, but practised of very few: for we think, if we doe any thing that may séeme to tend neuer so little towards Gods glory that we haue done a glorious worke. But marke this wel: the Lord requireth not onely of thée, to séeke his glory in thy selfe by worshipping him in spirit and truth, by sanctifiing his holy name, & thy selfe to the obseruation of his Saboath, but also to thy power, to séeke it (accor∣ding to thy calling) in others. The magi∣strate to establish and defend true religi∣on, and maintaine it by holy discipline warranted by the word. The minister to teach, instruct, and exhort, the priuat man also in his calling, to vse all law∣full meanes for the aduancement of the same. The second table containeth the outward godlinesse that we must shewe forth in the world for the benefit one of another. Which we sée very little prac∣tised: for it is euident vnto the sight of all men (to the great griefe of them that feare God) how some be altogither set vpon treacherous rebellion, & conspira∣cies: Page [unnumbered] others on malitious murther, & en∣yuing hate: others on fornication, & vn∣cleanenesse, with all allurementes to the same: as pride, banquetting, surfet∣ting and dronkennesse, with all lewde and vnchast gestures that can be: others, bent to extort, and wring out of mens handes their owne proper possessions, and goods, by forging, by extremitie of lawe, by deceyuing, and by that foule canker vsury, and what not? I ceasse to speake of the particular pettie sinnes, wherewith men doe so swarme, and so customably liue in, that they estéeme them to be no sinnes, the least whereof deserueth eternall condemnation, both in body and soule: and yet all these be Christians, and say they haue faith, but I say of them, and that by the warrant of Gods owne worde, that if they had the least sparke of faith in the worlde, these things would be reformed: for it is vnpossible for a man to haue faith, but therewithall is the spirit of God. But where the spirit is, there can be no de∣light in sinne, no such carelesnesse to re∣formation, Page [unnumbered] as appeareth: and therefore examine thy selfe and be not deceiued, presume not of the mercy of God, and stil abide in sinne: for then be sure thou shalt find no place to repentance, though thou séeke it with teares. Then séeke* the Lord while he may be found: put not of from day to day: for suddainely com∣meth the wrath of the Lord: and in his anger he will consume thee. Then let vs without prolonging amende.
And fulfill. That is, a strife must be in vs, against all lets that may hinder vs to be in all pointes perfect: and that in such a perfection as by the word of God is not to be found fault withall: & though it be true that we cannot attaine therevnto in this life, yet we must not faint, nor be weary: but goe on still: for∣get that which is behinde, and looke at that which is before: neuer casting our eyes aside vpon any baite of sinne in this world: but euer goe on in striuing for this perfection, all the dayes of our life. In which course (least we should be discouraged) we are to knowe, that Page [unnumbered] we are neuer able to attaine to that per∣fection in this life, because of our wret∣ched and sinfull nature: because of the clogges of sinne that doe so hang on vs, and the remnantes of old Adam that sticke so in the fleshe, that it can ne∣uer be wholly cleare therof. The which* we finde to be in the Apostle S. Paule, who had a lawe in his members, stri∣uing against the lawe of the spirit, lea∣ding him captiue vnto the lawe of sinne. Whereby it commeth to passe, as our fa∣uiour* saith, y• when we haue done al that euer we cā, we are vnprofitable seruāts, and therefore we are taught to say day∣ly: forgiue vs our sinnes: which doctrine sheweth forth diuers most necessary vses: as first it sheweth the workes of super∣erogation, imagined by y• papistes, to be a méere doctrine of an idle braine: flatte contrary to the trueth of God, and blas∣phemous against Christes passion. Se∣condly, displayeth the diuelish error, of that pestiferous secte, the family of loue, who hold, that a man may liue without sinne, and therefore accounteth it a note Page [unnumbered] of imperfection to praye: so that none may be of the number of their illumina∣ted Elders, vntill they be of that perfec∣tion: and yet we read that the Apostles* praied not only when they were weake∣lings (as they fondly affirme) but after* Christes aseension, and the descending of the holy Ghost. And therefore (for the* censuring of their heresie, and our owne perswasion) let vs say with S. Iohn, if we saye we haue no sinne, we deceiue our selues, and there is no truth in vs, for we make God a lyer. But if we acknow∣ledge our sinnes, he is faithfull and iust to forgiue vs our sinnes, and to clense vs from all vnrighteonsnes. Thirdly it is an excéeding comfort to the weake, that finde themselues willing, and yet vnper∣fect in the seruice of God: for God doth accept of vs according to that we are, and not according to that we are not. The least sparkes of obedience (insomuch as they be his owne worke) are accepted in his sight, so that it be wt earnest ende∣uour to encrease: and therefore this gi∣ueth no libertie to licentious loosenesse, Page [unnumbered] (which notwithstanding we sée to pre∣sume herevpon: for, (say the Atheistes) who can kéepe Gods commandements? is any man without sinne? and so forth. Which in déede is true, but they, by oc∣casion thereof, haue no regard nor care of any reformation, but runne on from sin to sinne, and that with gréedines. But let such knowe, that they can not please the deuill better with any thing in the world, because hereby, they be as like him, as if they were spitted out of his mouth: for he knoweth that no man can absolutely obey Gods lawes: and there∣fore he prowleth to mocke them in eue∣ry* point, to breake them: and thou sayst thou canst not obey him perfectly, and therefore art carelesse to doe any good at all. Wherein doest thou now differ from him? But let vs haue a care to winne ground of our aduersary, to obtaine more and more strength against sinne, & make it weaker in vs euery day than other, by continuall meditation in the worde of God, and prayer for his grace, to fructifie therein, & then we shall shew our selues Page [unnumbered] valiant souldiers, and not dastards in the quarrell of our Lorde and Captaine Ie∣sus Christ.
Now follow the ende that we are to ayme at, in this fight against our selues: to liue godly, which is duely to be consi∣dered: for Satan hath gone thus farre with a number, either to perswade them (without al doubting of the matter) that they shall merit heauen, and deserue to be Gods children by their workes, or els that they néede to doe none at all: and we sée euen the greatest number put the one of these in practise: for either they be obstinate and blind Papistes, forgetting Christ Iesus, and hoping to come to hea∣uen by their works: or els they be A∣theists, affirming plainly, that if they de∣serue nothing for them, they will doe no good works. From which fountaine flow∣eth this generall securitie, where with all the world is so rocked on sléepe, that euery man séeketh for him selfe, neuer thinking that he is any way bounde to benefite his poore and needye brother.* Whereby (as in many other things) we Page [unnumbered] may behold the vsuall practize of Satan, either to make vs lye wallowing in all carelesnes, or els to driue vs too farre in∣to the con trary extremitie. Which thing we are to haue a great care of, euen in e∣uery thing that we do, that we may kéepe within the bounds of that meane prescri∣bed by the Lord in his word, from which it is not lawfull to decline, neither to the right hand, nor to the left, least Satan o∣uertake vs, and worke our confusion.
The endes wherevnto (by the word of God) we are to haue regard, and re∣spect, be in number thrée. First Gods glo∣rie. 2. Our owne comfort. 3. The good of our brethren among whome we liue.
The glorie of God, which is the first* ende, is to be sought in our good and god∣ly conuersation: for it is euident, that we are by nature vnfit to doe any good thing, but rather prone and bent to sinne, but when it pleaseth God so to alter and re∣forme our harts, that the frute thereof shineth in our conuersation, this sheweth the great glory of God, in that he (of ser∣uants vnto sinne and vncleannes) ma∣keth Page [unnumbered] vs to serue him in godlines. The which thing our Sauiour Christ ment, when he sayd: let your light so shine be∣fore* men, that they may sée your good workes▪ and glorifie your heauenly fa∣ther, which is in heauen. Where vnto al∣so the Apostle S. Peter had especiall re∣gard, when he sayd: Déerely beloued, I* beséech you as straungers and pilgrims, absteine from fleshly lustes, which fight against the soule: and haue your conuer∣sation honest among the Gentiles, that they which speake euill of you, as euill doers, may by your good workes which they shall sée, glorifie God in the daye of visitation. Unto which ende S. Paule had respect also: when he exhorting the Thes∣salonians to godlines, sayth: that y• name* of our Lord Iesus Christ may be glori∣fied in you. The which poynt is duely to be obserued, for our instruction: because that now a dayes, all men will say they doe loue God, and honour him, but their bare wordes must not goe for proofe: for we sée the holy ghost setteth downe, that the glorifieng of God by vs, consisteth in Page [unnumbered] godly conuersation: for if thou sayst ne∣uer so much, thou louest God, and doest honour him, vnlesse it shine in thy con∣uersation, it is a lye in thée, and a thing not to be beléeued of others. For our Sa∣uiour saith: If any loue me, he wil kéepe* my sayings, so that the tryall standeth in this: looke howe carefull thou art to re∣forme thy life, according to the word of God: and looke howe much thou hast sub∣dued the heate of thine owne affections: and so much thou doest glorifie God, and no further. Nay if thou béest slacke here∣in, & carelesse to doe that in déede, wherof thou makest profession, thou doest, euen as much as lyeth in thée, dishonour God: and therfore sayth S. Paule, thou that glo∣riest in the law, thorough breaking of the law, dishonorest God. I would to God* that the carnall professors, and enemies to sinceritie (of these our dayes) both in them selues, and others, could consider of this, with a single eye. For those that be enemies to reformation, be commonly loose in life, as we sée in our owne experi∣ence. If it were so, I doubt not, but their Page [unnumbered] conuersation would be found euen of thē selues, most vile, and filthy, not worthy once to be named among them that pro∣fesse the gospell of Iesus Christ.
The second ende, which we are to* looke vnto, is, for the establishment and comfort of our owne soules and consci∣ences. For we sée that all men are con∣tented to make a shewe of religion, and to take vpon them y• profession of Christ, which can not be sufficient: for then should all, or at least, the greatest num∣ber, be saued: & yet we know the words* of our Sauiour Christ: that narrowe is the way that leadeth to life, and fewe doe walke therein. Then what shall we doe to examine our selues vnfeynedly, to sée whether we are of the number of them, or no? S. Peter shall tel vs most notably,* what we must doe. Flye (sayth he) the corruption which is in ye world through lust. Therefore giue euen all diligence therevnto: ioyne moreouer vertue with your faith, and with vertue, knowledge,* and with knowledge, temperance, and with temperance, patience, and with pa∣tience, Page [unnumbered] godlines, and with godlines, bro∣therly kindnes, and with brotherly kind∣nes, loue: for if these things be among you, and doe abound, they will make you that ye neither shall be idle, nor vnfruit∣full in the knowledge of our Lord Iesus Christ. But he that hath not these thin∣ges, is blind, and can not sée a farre off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his olde sinnes. Wherefore Bre∣thrē, giue rather diligence, to make your calling & election sure. By which words we sée, that the fruite of the gospell, in holines of life, doth make our calling and election sure, (not to God, for it was sure in him before the foundation of ye world) but to our selues, approuing thereby vn∣to our owne soules and consciences, that we be the elect of God, because we féele the working of his grace in our hearts, and shew forth the fruites thereof in our conuersation.*
The third ende of our good workes, hath relation vnto our brethren, which is diuerse wayes. First thus: there be many that be weake in the faith, & new∣ly Page [unnumbered] conuerted vnto the Gospel: who haue great néede to be supported, and holden vp: the which (as we may doe manye wayes) so chiefly it is to be declared in our conuersation: for when he beholdeth our godly and vpright behauiour, great occasion is offered vnto him, not onely to glorifie God in vs, but also to consider of his owne imperfection and weakenes, how farre he is behind, and therevpon is moued to striue more strongly against his owne infirmitie, to growe stronger, and more established. Contrariwise, if he should behold vs greater professors, or of longer continuance in the profession of the Gospell, than he, doe those things that swarue fowly from our shewe, we make it not onely an offence, whereby his weake conscience is wounded, but (as much as in vs lyeth) a stumbling blocke for him to fall from his profession withall. A lesson of all men to be lear∣ned: for we sée many, that in shew, (and to their owne thinking) be forward in religion, who, (when they be reproued, or by méekenes exhorted) to leaue some Page [unnumbered] abuses, that they commit, because they agrée not with their profession, and are offensiue to y• consciences of many weake ones. Tush (say they) if they be offended with these things, let them: what haue they to doe with me? they are not to medle with my dealing, for I haue not to doe with them: and such like spéeches. In the meane while, they haue cleane for∣gotten, not onely the care that we ought* to haue one ouer another, but also the* example of S. Paule, who would neuer eate fleshe when he liued, rather then he would offende his brother: (which of it selfe was a thing lawfull, and to be re∣ceiued with thanks giuing.) And there∣fore, we are not onely to be carefull, that we giue none offence: (for woe be vnto* him, by whome offences do come,) but euen to depart from those thinges that we may vse, if they be any occasion of of∣fence to the weake: for many things are lawful, that are not expedient. This end is yet further to be considered another way, and that is in respect of them that are without, who be so obstinate, that Page [unnumbered] they will not onely oppugne the profes∣sion of religion, but euen refuse to heare* the voice of the charmer, charme he neuer so wisely: not once frequenting the pub∣like méetings of Christians, with whom yet we haue some dealings in the world. Whereby it may please God to bring them to some consideration of our profes∣sion, by our conuersation. The which thing S. Peter setting downe in one par∣ticular calling, is also to be applyed as a generall doctrine: the words are these: Let the wiues be subiect to their hus∣bands,* that euen they that obey not the word, may be wonne without the word, while they behold your pure conuersati∣on, which is with feare: and surely, as the vnblameable conuersation is verye forcible to moue the aduersarie, to consi∣der of the profession it selfe: so we often sée, both by example of the word of God,* as in Moses, whome Pharao accompted godly, and himselfe wicked: and Dauid, whome Saule accompted vpright: and also by our owne experience, that it coo∣leth the courage of the enemie, and stop∣peth Page [unnumbered] his mouth. And therefore it is our dutie, (and I pray God we may rightly consider of it) to be marueilous circum∣spect and carefull, that we liue so obedi∣ent to the decrées of our God, and be so carefull to giue none occasion to any, to sée vs faultie in our dealing: that there∣by our good and gracious God may be glorified, our harts and consciences com∣forted, and all men by vs may either be encouraged vnto godlines, or conuic∣ted in their owne consciences of vngodlines. Which God for his mercies sake graunt.