OBEDIENCE TO the Gospell.
TWO SER∣MONS, CONTEI∣NING FRVTEFVL MATTER, both of doctrine, and exhortation: very needefull to be knowne, and practi∣sed in these our dayes: vpon the words of the holy ghost, written by the Euan∣gelist S. Luke, chapter 2. verses 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20, conteining the effect of the birth of Christ, (reuealed by the Angell of God) in the sheepeherds, and others that heard of it.
GATHERED OVT OF THE SER∣mons of IOHN VDALL, Preacher of the worde of God, at Kingston vpon Thames, and published, at the re∣quest of some of them that heard them preached.
ROM. 10. 16. But they haue not all obeyed the Gospell: for Esa•… sayth: Lord, who hath beleeued our report?
AT LONDON Imprinted for T. Man, W. B. and N.L. 1584.
TO THE CON∣GREGATION OF CHRISTES PEOPLE, IMBRA∣CING THE TRVTH OF THE GO∣spel, by a liuely faith, and obedience to the same, the ordinarie hearers of the worde of God, at Kingston vpon Thames, IOHN VDALL wisheth increase of knowledge, faith, reformation of life, Zeale, & all other vertues of true god∣lines, and holines in this world, and the rewarde of the same, (tho∣rough the mercie of God in Iesus Christ) in the world to come.
SEEING it hath plea∣sed the Lord, of his great mercie, and goodnes, to vouchsafe vnto vs that inestimable treasure of his holy word: the preciousnes where∣of, Page [unnumbered] surmounteth all things vnder the sunne: wherein he doth offer, euen his owne selfe vnto vs, and teacheth vs the way whereby we may come vnto him: it behoueth vs with all reuerence, and feare, to imbrace the same, preferring it before any thing that we can desire vp∣on the earth. And forasmuch as it hath pleased him, to put that precious trea∣sure in these earthly vessells, subiect vn∣to corruption, and mortality: which by the natural disposition that they are of, will striue to infect all the fruite of that precious treasure, with the stenche of sinnefull and vngodly desires: we are diligently to watch, and contend, that we see, that these fleshly and inordinate motions (that seeke so greatly to extin∣guish euery good thing) may be dayly more and more kept vnder: that the word of God may (by the working of his holy spirit) get the victorie in our harts, and sit there as a Prince, to rule the cogitations therof, captiuing them daily vnto the kingdom of Iesus Christ, thorough obedience to his most bles∣sed Page [unnumbered] will. The which, forsomuch as it is done, especially, by the ministery of the word, wherein the Lord hath printed such force, that it throweth downe all munitions reared against it: and vnto the worke of the same, hath appointed me among you (of many other most vnable) to do that, which he commaun∣deth, and my duety requireth at my hands: it standeth both me, and you, in hand, to be most heedefull, that we be not carelesse in these great and weighty matters, which doe concerne the glory of Almightie God, and the eternall sal∣uation, both of our soules and bodies: and so much the rather, because Satan fearing the continuance of the world to be short: and therefore, that which he doeth for the aduancement of his owne kingdome, he must doe it quick∣ly: laboureth by his instruments, with tooth and naile, to extinguish the light of the glorious Gospell, that it should not shine with open face, vnto Gods people: for we see daily, what mischie∣uous practises he broacheth, what er∣rors Page [unnumbered] he spreadeth, what slaunders he in∣uenteth, what lyes he disperseth, and all to discredite the course of religion: the truth whereof we doe feele, and see in our owne experience: for you knowe, what enimitie the establishment of the Gospell amongst you had, by your en∣uious foes, that would haue kept you still in palpable ignorance, with them∣selues: howe many pullbacks and hin∣derances were deuised, and be daily in∣uented, to stay the course thereof, all which, for so much, as (thorough the mercie of God, to vs-ward) they haue not had that successe, which the au∣thors hoped for: they labour now, and haue done continually, to imagine slaū∣derous lyes, and most wicked forgeries, which they doe daily spread abroad, to the ende, to defame the religion, which we professe: so that there is not (al∣most) any sinne, that can be commit∣ted, but it is fathered vpon some of vs: which deuillish dealing, albeit we know that it shall turne to their eternall de∣struction, vnlesse the Lorde in mercie, Page [unnumbered] giue them grace to repent: yet not∣withstāding we may learne a very good lesson out of the same, and make a pro∣fitable vse of it vnto our selues: let me therefore intreate you, to marke with diligence this which I shall write vnto you, as you are wont to doe, when I doe speake. The greatest accusation (you knowe) in generall, that your foes, the aduersaries of the Gospell, doe charge you with, is, that you professe one thing, and practise another: that you say well, and doe naughtily: that you reprehēd others, you your selues being worse: which (in deede) is a most hei∣nous accusation, and such a thing, as, your owne selues can witnesse, I neuer haue winked at, but most carefully re∣proued, and such a thing as our religi∣on neither teacheth, nor permitteth▪ for it is of that force, where it entreth▪ that it will reforme all these things (in measure) in those that haue it within them. This slaunder goeth yet further: for our profession is accused, to be se∣ditious, contentious, and troublesome Page [unnumbered] vnto the state, and enemie to good or∣der, and gouernment: & we our selues accounted malicious, proude, finding rather fault with others, than amen∣ding our selues, seeking rather for sin∣gularitie, than loue and charitie. You are not ignorant of the sleights of Sa∣tan: and therfore knowing, that he was from the beginning, an accuser, and ly∣ar, may the better, by the mercie of God, haue vse of your knowledge, to comfort you in these temptations. But marke, how the Lord maketh Satan, & his imps, to be as spurs and pricks, to driue the godly forward, though they be very grosse, and dull in the behol∣ding of their owne faults: (for Satan casteth a myste ouer their eyes, when they should see them) yet they be very quicke eyed, to prye into the doings of others, especially, the godly, and are able, if our foote doe but slip, to find it out, and haue it as a reason to discredit our profession, which aboue all things, we labour to keepe vnspotted. There∣fore it behooueth you, to looke dili∣gently Page [unnumbered] vnto your selues, to watch your owne soules, to attend and looke vnto euery worde that you speake, euery thought that you thinke, and euery a∣ction that you commit: to examine it diligently, by the line of Gods word, which is the touchstone, that wil either approue it, or disproue it: and if you find, by the vndoubted warrant there∣of, that it is lawfull, and that you ought to doe it, then let neither slaunder, speach of people, deuill, nor hell, staye you from the practise thereof: but if, (thorough the remnants of old Adam) you be at any time allured to doe, or speake any thing, that either is forbid∣den, or hath no warrant from the word of God, then reason thus with your selues: this is not agreeable to my pro∣fession: this is contrary to that I haue learned: this will procure the name of God to be dishonoured, my religion to be defamed, and my selfe to be discre∣dited: therefore, though it might be gainefull, delightfull, or any other way pleasure me, I may not doe it: this you Page [unnumbered] had neede to marke very well: for (I tell you) you haue many lookers on, that would laugh to see your fall: you dwell in a country, where the Gospell is very litle preached: insomuch, that your ignorant neighbours make them selues sport, to mocke at you, that will be so foolish, as to suffer your selues to be seduced by the Scriptures: you haue godlesse and profane men, that doe de∣ride you: Libertines, and freewill men, that doe despise you: worldlings and bellygods, that doe carpe at you: inso∣much, that you haue very great neede to walke warily: that it standeth you vpon, to behaue your selues circum∣spectly: therefore doe thus: be dili∣gent in publike hearing, and, (as it may stand with your calling) priuate rea∣ding of the worde of God, (for that is the onely schoolemaister, to teach you all truth) vsing daily and hartie prayer vnto God, for the presence of his holy spirite, to teach you the true meaning thereof: looke what you finde therein required of euery Christian, be carefull Page [unnumbered] to doe it: in your dealing with others, deale faithfully, without facing out of ill matters: without swearing, or lying: reproue others with the spirite of mild∣nes, that doe amisse, in your presence: shewe your selues obedient vnto all au∣thoritie, that is appointed of God: and that for conscience sake. Bring vp your children, and seruants, in the feare of God, instructing them in the principles of religion: detract no man secretly, but tell them plainely of their faults: to conclude, shewe your selues approued vnto the Lord, in the testimonie of a good conscience, being alwaies carefull to seeke the glorie of God, and benefit of your brethren: be alwaies in worde and deede, that, which (according to the Scriptures) ye professe: and then, let Satan broach his lyes: let the wicked carry them abroad: let godlesse per∣sons hate you, as long as they may, it shall turne to their shame at the length, as (to our great comfort) we see it doth daily, and (being a triall of your pati∣ence) to your greater glorie in the king∣dome Page [unnumbered] of heauen: and let not the glory of this world bewitch you, for ye are not of this world: let not the successe of godlesse persons dismay you, for the world loueth his owne, and is liberall vnto them: let not the slaunders of the wicked discourage you: for because you runne not on into the same excesse of riot with them, therefore they speake euill of you: let not the multitude of your aduersaries feare you, for God is strōger then all men: let not the threat∣nings of great ones daunt you, for their heartes are in the handes of the Lord, to be guided at his pleasure: let not the pronenesse of your owne na∣ture seduce you, for he that liueth af∣ter the flesh, shall die: let not the crosses that accompanye the Gospell wearie you, for they bring the ioyfull fruite of righteousnesse, to all that are exercised thereby: so shall the name of God be glorified by you: so shall your foes be put to flight, & your profession known to be the truth of the eternall God, that liueth for euer. Now, to come to speake Page [unnumbered] of these present sermons, which I haue dedicated chiefly vnto you: partly for that, by that calling which the Lorde hath layd vpon me, I am at this instant, bound, by all lawfull meanes, to doe you good: partly, because it is the ear∣nest sute of some of you, to haue them penned: & partly, for that they contain in them sundrye pointes of religion, which you doe professe, and for which, you are of the world condemned: that euery man may see thereby, the impu∣dencie of Satan, that dare note Gods owne word with the marke of infamie: onely let me craue this at your hands, as a recompence for my trauaile, that you woulde expresse the doctrine in your liues, that I haue expressed, (though simply, yet truly) therein: that I may once see in you all that zeale, which the example of these sheepe∣herds may teach you: then shal I thinke my labour well bestowed, when the beames of righteousnesse doe breake forth, as the sun at noone day: which, the Lord, for his mercie, graunt, in his Page [unnumbered] Sonne, our Sauiour Iesus Christ: to whome with the father, and the holy ghost, be all honor and glorie, both now, and for euer.
Your seruant, for Iesus Christes sake, his vnworthy messenger. IOHN VDALL.
- The birth of Christ, reuealed by the An∣gells, did worke ef∣fectually, in
- the sheepeherds, in whome are to be considered these things:
- their confe∣rence,
- the time when it was. 1.
- the maner of it. 2.
- their iorney in going with haste vnto the place where the childe was. 3.
- the fruite of the confe∣rence and ior∣ney
- 1. founde the child. 4.
- 2. publi∣shed it a∣broad. 5.
- returned, praysing God. 6.
- the people, who wondered at the thinges which they had heard. 7.
- Marye, who
- kept all these things 8.
- pondred them in her hart. 9.
Two sermons, of obedi∣ence to the Gospell.
Luke 2. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20.
WHEN the birth of our Lorde, and Sa∣uiour Iesus Christ, was made manifest vnto the shéepeherds, that were kéeping their shéepe by night, it wrought effectually (as you haue heard): first, in the Angels of God, that they were moued to praise and glorifie God, saying: glorie to God in the highe heauens, and peace in earth, & towards men good will. Whereby, they both de∣clared, that all praise, honor, and glorie was due to God, for the work of Christs incarnation: and also made knowne the blessing of god, ye was shewed vpon man∣kind thereby: to wit, that here on earth they should féele themselues at peace in conscience, because of the full perswasion Page [unnumbered] of the remission of their sinnes: and also should be tyed together one to another, in a true league of spirituall vnitie: all which, floweth neither from mans will, nor desert, but onely from the frée fauour, and good will of God, our heauenlye father. Secondly, it wrought most effec∣tually in mankind, generally so many as were made partakers of the know∣ledge thereof. Which parties remayne now (together with the doctrine contei∣ned in the historie of them) to be conside∣red of: that we may learne out of the same, such doctrine as may serue for our edification & comfort: the place of Scrip∣ture, therefore (that we may procéede ac∣cording to our ordinarie maner) offereth the doings of thrée sorts of people to our consideration. 1. The shéepeherds. 2. The people that heard of it. 3. Marie. In the doings of the shéepeherds, the holy ghost setteth downe their conference, their ior∣ney to the place, where it was told, that Iesus was: and the fruite or euent of their iorney: In the conference, there is set downe the time when it was, and the Page [unnumbered] thing it selfe. The maner of their iorney is set downe to be in haste: the fruite or euent that came of it, is thréefold: first, that they found Marie, and Ioseph, and the child: secondly, published those things that they had heard: thirdly, (which is in the last verse of all) they returned, glori∣fieng, and praysing God. The second sort is the multitude, that wondered at the thing. The third is Marie, y• kept al these things, and pondered them in her heart. These be the braunches of the matter, conteined in this text.
And it came to passe, that when, &c.] The first braunch, that is to be conside∣red of, is the time when these shéepeherds conferred: to wit, presently vpon the de∣parture of the Angells: that is, as soone as euer the Angells had made an ende of speaking, and were gone from them, they began to consider with themselues, that the matter was of great importance, and therefore not to be deferred: that it was a thing most necessary, and therefore not to be neglected, but further to be enqui∣red after. Out of which we haue to Page [unnumbered] learne, for our instruction, two profitable doctrines. First, that we may not linger or prolong the time, in the performance of those things, that God enioyneth vnto vs: we may not deferre the matter vntil hereafter, but presently vpon the hearing* of his worde by his ministers, we must obey it: the reason whereof is most ap∣parant: for when God speaketh, then doth he offer the thing, whereof he spea∣keth. If he threaten his iudgements for sinne, his word speaking the same, his hand is ready to powre downe the thing: if he teach vs any point of doctrine, for the confirmation of our faith, then is he ready with his spirite, to seale the same in our hearts: if he exhort vs vnto a∣mendment of life, with promise of re∣ward, then doth he mercifully bind him selfe to the performance of the same, so that we may surely settle our faith vpon an vndoubted expectation of it: the which doctrine is notably vrged, in the epistle to the Hebrewes, out of the say∣ing* of Dauid: to day, if ye will heare his voice, harden not your hearts. Where Page [unnumbered] the holy ghost doth tell vs, that whensoe∣uer the worde of God is preached vnto vs, euen at that instant doth Almighty God offer his mercie, and maketh this vse of it, that then we should not harden our harts with contempt, or carelesse harkening therevnto, and (to imprint it the déeper in our hearts) the Lord, by the mouth of Salomon, hath vttered this* fearefull threatning: because I haue cal∣led (sayth he) and ye refused, I haue stretched out myne hand, & none woulde regard: but ye haue despised all my coun∣sell, and would none of my correction, I will also laugh at your destruction, &c. then shall they call vpon me, but I will not answere: they shall séeke me earely, but they shall not finde me, because they hated knowledge, and did not choose the feare of the Lord: wherevnto that of the Prophet, accordeth: beholde, the dayes* come (sayth the Lorde God) that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hea∣ring the word of the Lord, and they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the Page [unnumbered] north, euen vnto the east, shal they runne to and fro, to séeke the word of the Lord, and shall not finde it. We haue a moste terrible example of Gods iustice herein, in that profane person Esau, who despi∣sing* the blessing of god, in the birth right, sold it away for a portion of meate: of whome it is sayd, that he found no place to repentance, though he sought the bles∣sing with teares. We sée then, both the necessitie of present imbracing Gods word with faith and amendment of life, and also the terrible threatnings that God denoūceth to powre vpon the heads of the contemners: the which we ought to apply most diligently vnto our selues: for if God estéeme so greatly of his word, and punisheth so sharpely the neglect thereof, we haue great cause to searche our owne consciences, how faithfull obe∣dience we haue yéelded therevnto: for we haue heard his word longe, we haue professed the same, and doe professe it, to the sight of the world. Nowe, if by triall we can finde, thorough the testimonie of gods spirite in our hearts, and examina∣tion Page [unnumbered] of our liues, that we haue not heard in vaine, but haue increased both in knowledge of the gospell, and also refor∣mation of life, according to the same, our owne consciences may minister vnto vs matter of vnfeined consolation: but con∣trariwise, if we haue long time bene hearers of the worde, and haue neither profited in knowledge of god, nor obedi∣ence to his lawes, surely our estate is most lamentable, howsoeuer we flatter our selues in our owne imagination: and therfore let vs search our owne con∣sciences, whether we finde that ready mind in our selues, that we sée to be in these shéepeherds, to make present pro∣fit of gods word, when we haue heard it.
The second thing, that we haue to marke out of this point, is, that we sée the word of god was effectuall in them, and made them carefull to séeke further, to be informed in the matter of the birth of Christ: that they hauing the whole knowledge of the thing in euery point, might not lacke the vse of it any way, be∣cause they did know, that the thing both Page [unnumbered] being straung, and also comming from God, must néedes be most necessary for them to know. The lesson that is to be gathered out of the same, for our instruc∣tion, is this: that those who be truely called vnto the faith in Iesus Christ, and haue the vnfeined earnest of Gods spirit within them, doe perswade them∣selues, that Gods word in euery point,* is to be knowne of them, and also euery way to be practised: which is a doctrine most néedefull to be learned: for Satan hath so inueigled the hearts of a number, yea euen of them that take themselues to be gospellers, that they thinke the most part of Gods worde not to appertaine vnto them: that the knowledge thereof is néedelesse, the comfort of it fruitlesse, and the particular obedience therevnto, more precise, than necessarie: insomuch that they settle themselues in these, and such perswasions. I beléeue in Iesus Christ, & hope to be saued by his bloud∣shedding: I knowe that Christ died for my sinnes, and that I ought to liue wel: as for those points of doctrine, that be so Page [unnumbered] many, they belong to preachers, and men that professe learning, and so forth. In which kind of people you may most liue∣ly behold the subtiltie of Satan, that vn∣der pretence of beléefe in Christ, would ouerthrow the knowledge of God, and perswade them, that he can bring them a nearer way to heauen, than by that ordi∣nary way, which God hath ordeined: but we are to know: that God, whose wise∣dom shineth in the least of his creatures, hath not set downe his word to be an i∣dle thing, or belonging vnto a fewe, but vnto al, yea euen to giue vnto the simple wisedome, and sharpenes of wit, and to* the childe knowledge, and discretion. And therefore, howsoeuer they arme themselues against knowledge, and hide their hearts in the dungeon of igno∣rance, we must make this vse of it: that* as God hath appointed his ministers to teach all the councell of God vnto his people: so it is his will, that his seruants should learne it all, to the ende that they may haue vse and consolation of it, in the gouernment of their liues, and Page [unnumbered] strengthening of their faith. If this were truely learned, it would ouerthrow that setled perswasion which Satan hath grounded in the heartes of many, whereby they thinke themselues (if they haue heard the word for some smal time) that they haue learned enough: that they haue sufficiently profited in religi∣on: and therefore they become colde, and carelesse, not regarding whether they frequent the holy exercises of religion, or no. Which is the cause (at this day) that so heynous enormities reigne in mens liues, to the great dishonor of God, and slaunder of the Gospell. But let vs per∣swade our selues, that euery poynt of Gods word is of most weightie impor∣tance, néedefull for vs to be knowne: and that (doe what we can) we shall neuer* knowe, but in part, neuer go farre e∣nough, neither in knowledge, nor strict obedience, for still we be vnprofitable seruants: and therefore, that we with all humilitie, and reuerence, be most di∣ligent in frequenting those places where we may learne to knowe more and Page [unnumbered] more of Gods will, and praye vnto him, that we may become euery day more godly than other, so long as we liue.
They sayd one to another.] The second braunch of the first part, which contey∣neth the maner of the conference, the meaning wherof is this: that when they did sée, both the weightines of the mat∣ter, and also the necessitie of the know∣ledge thereof in themselues, they began one to exhort and stirre vp another, to the earnest & hastye séeking out of the thing. Out of which, there may be gathered di∣uerse doctrines, for our instruction. First, in that they say one to another, let vs go vp then vnto Bethleem: we may behold the beginning of the performance of that propheste: where it was foretold, that in* the time of Christ they should say: come, let vs goe vp to the mountaine of y• Lord, to the house of the God of Iacob, and he will teache vs his waies, and we will walke in his pathes. Whereby the holy Ghost teacheth vs, that in the time of the* Gospell, there should be such zeale, that Page [unnumbered] euery one should excite, and stirre vp his neighbour vnto religion: which prophe∣sie being verified in these shéepeherds, doth teach vs our dutie: to wit, that if we acknowledge our selues to be of that number, whom Christ in his Gospel ru∣leth, then must we practise this point of obedience to him, and loue to our bre∣thren: that we be meanes to stirre them vp, to exhort, and further them in the du∣ties of christianitie: wherevnto, in the doctrine of the Gospell, (which is the sta∣tute law that Christ gouerneth his king∣dome by) we are oftentimes exhorted. The holy Apostle S Paule▪ sayth: wher∣fore exhort one another, and edifie one another, euen as ye doe. And in another place: exhort one another daily, while it is called to day. And againe: let vs con∣sider one another, & prouoke vnto loue,* and to good works. The reason whereof is this: that séeing by the mercifull cal∣ling of God, we are members of one bo∣dy, wherof Iesus Christ is the head, and linked together by one spirit, the fellowe féeling of the griefe of others, (if we be Page [unnumbered] féeling members in déede) constraineth vs to doo good one to another: and there∣fore especially to informe those that néede, in the way of righteousnes. Thus we sée what is our dutie, required of vs by the Lord himselfe, which we are dili∣gently to consider of: for we may not thinke, that the gifts of God bestowed vpon vs, are for our selues alone, but for the benefite also of others. Which, if it were rightly weyed, religion would not be so geason amongst vs as it is: for men thinke now adayes, that if they sée others wallow in ignorance, and bring forth the fruites of the same, (most enor∣mious sinnes) in their conuersation, it is not their dutie to instruct them, be∣cause (forsooth) it is the office of the prea∣cher: nay, they thinke the minister ought not to doe it neither, vnlesse he be in the pulpit: and therefore his documents are vnsauerie, vnlesse he himselfe be hedged in with a péece of wood on eche side: but howsoeuer they would shut out know∣ledge, by these and such like spéeches: we are to learne, that it is the duetie, not on∣ly Page [unnumbered] of ministers publikely, but also of all men priuately, to instruct those that be ignorant, and to bring them from error: & the partie informed, is not to cauil at the man that doth it, nor the place where it is done: but in reuerence to receiue it, as from the Lorde, and to laye it vp in his heart, for the amendment of his life
Secondly: in that these shéepehers doe (after they haue hearde the message of God, by the Angell) thus conferre of it, howe they may be further edified: we learne that they were careful, that they shouldnot forget the things that they had heard: & therfore they are earnest to goe to y• place▪ which the angels had named, for their further satisfaction. An example of fruitful hearers of the word of God, by whom we may learne a very profitable lesson, which is, that when we come to y• hearing of the word of God. (forsomuch as we are vnfit, & (in truth) vnable to ca∣ry al things away that we heare, partly thorough y• corruption of our nature (the remnants whereof we shal alwaies car∣ry about with vs) & partly thorough the Page [unnumbered] subtiltie of Satan, wherby he suggesteth other cogitations into our minds, to the ende that he may bereaue vs of the bene∣fite of Gods heauenly word & steale our minds from attending to it. After that the sermon is done, we ought at our com∣ming home, to méete together, & say one to another: come, we haue al bene where* we haue heard Gods word taught, let vs confer about it, that we may not onely call to remembrance those things that e∣uery one of vs haue caried away, but also that one may haue y• benefit of the labors of others: & surely it must néedes proue a very profitable way: for if one haue mis∣sed y• obseruation of this or that point, an other hath marked it, so that among them they may bring away the whole, and so be edified one by another. And as all are to be careful herein, soespecialy it is to be practised by maisters, & fathers of fami∣lies, that forsomuch as children & seruāts be often carelesse, in attending vnto the word of God, the very feare of rebuke or correction, at their faithers or maisters hands, wil make them learne somwhat. Page [unnumbered] If the benefite of this course were per∣ceiued, and the practise of it vsed (besids the commodity redoūding to the parties) it would be ye meanes to stay manie hor∣rible offences, that are committed: For what is ye cause of such idle talk that mē haue delight in? Euen the lack of better matter wherein they might be occupied. What is the cause y• Lords saboths be so ill spent: yea so horribly prophaned? E∣uen this, that so soone as they come from Church, (if yet they come there at all) they thinke their dutie to God fully per∣formed, and so go in all haste; to dice, cardes, bowling, tipling, and euerie o∣ther wicked pastime (as they call them) wherin want neither cursing, swearing, nor blaspheming, to the great dishonour of God, and procuring of his heauie wrath to be powred vpon this land, and the decay of all religion: but marke in this point the height of all iniquitie, in these out daies, whereas Magistrates should redresse these things, and others that take vppon them the correction of vice in the Church, do make a shewe of Page [unnumbered] defending religion: if there be anie smal number (which is rare) y• woulde glad∣lie (following the example of these shéep∣heardes) confer priuately of those things that they haue hearde, and be carefull to grow in the knowledge of religion, by and by it shalbe charged to be within the compasse of a conuenticle: and their good and godly course shalbe checked and bla∣med by pretence & colour of law: but if twenty méete togither in an Alenouse (though they most prophanely abuse the creatures of God, lewdly mispend their time, blasphemously dishonour the Lord, and vncharitably reuile, euen the very profession of Iesus Christ: all this is no harme: it is but good neighbourhood, it is no conuenticle, they haue (or will haue) no law to punish it: from hence do spring all the abominable sinnes that reigne in this land: euen that religious exercises (by the secret papistes and prophane a∣theistes* that be in authoritie and abuse the law and meaning thereof) are discoū∣tenanced, & godlesse and irreligious dea∣linges boalstered, whose reckoning, for Page [unnumbered] their partes, in the day of account, wil be most intollerable, which they least think of: but let vs pray vnto God y• he woulde grant vs reformation of these and such thinges when his good will and pleasure is: and in the meane while to grant vs the spirit of wisdome, and discretion, that we may walke warily in these daunge∣rous dayes. Moreouer in the considera∣tion of the parties, what kinde of people they were, we may note that which con∣cerneth our instruction. They were (as you see) shéepheardes, men of no greate calling, and most like of small learning: yet beholde, both howe the Lord doth re∣ueale the birth of his Sonne, first, vnto them, and also how carefull they are, to search out euery circumstance of ye same. There is no doubt, but if they had liued in these our dayes, they should haue bene charged with great presumption (that being men of meane vnderstanding) durst meddle with such high matters, whereof the very Rabbines could not a∣grée. But we learne by their example: 1. to admire the wonderfull wisdome, and Page [unnumbered] loue of God: wisdome that doth thus re∣ueale his Sonne to these simple ones & not to the great clarkes of the Iewes y•* Scribes and Pharisies, his loue, that so mercifully maketh him self knowne vn∣to these, that in their own eies (no doubt) and also in truth, were by reason lesse capable of so high mysteries: ye vse wher∣of we must acknowledge to be this, which (also) S. Paul teacheth vs, that the Lord thereby stoppeth the way for anie man to reioice or boast in himselfe: but that he may learne to ascribe all glorie onelie vnto God: Secondly, we learne, that it is the dutie euen of the simplest, to séeke the knowledge of Iesus Christ out of his word, and to exercise himselfe continual∣ly in the same: and not to say, (as com∣monly is said) I am a Lay man, I haue* no learning: let them that are preachers, and haue béene brought vp in Schooles meddle with Scriptures: I must attend vpon my worldlie businesse: by which, (and such like spéeches) they thinke they haue gotten inuincible shields, to defend them from knowledg, and shrowd them Page [unnumbered] in their ignorance: but they will proue no better than broken réedes, and figge∣leaues in the daie of iudgement: for God hath not placed any man in this earth, to the ende, that he (sléeping in ignoraunce) should fatte vp himselfe, with the vse of Gods blessings here, and seeke no fur∣ther: but that he should aboue al things, be carefull to search out of Gods worde, how to know his will, that knowing it, he may obey him, and so earnestly set foorth the glorie of his holie name.
Againe, we sée the maner of their pro∣céedings to be this: that they say, let vs go then vnto Bethlehem, and sée this thing that is come to passe, which the Lord hath shewed vnto vs, as if they should haue said: as we are careful to be further certified in this matter, so must we both be wary that we go to the place, and also search the things that haue been told vs, least we (doing otherwise) reape no benefite by our iorney: wherein wée may behold (for our example) a patterne of right obedience vnto God: they are verie forward, and yet notwithstanding Page [unnumbered] ty themselues vnto that which they had heard. Al men by the verie instinct of na∣ture, are desirous to knowe the trueth,* but yet in the manner all naturally doe erre, for they seek it after the course that their owne fancies doe imagin: but they that wil séeke the truth truly, & in truth: they that euer shal come to ye knowledge of the same, do follow the stricte rule of Gods worde, neither swaruing to the right hand, nor declining to the left: and they be most earnest and diligent in the same. Whereby we may make notable triall of our selues: both whether we be in the way of truth or no, and also how carefull we be to finde it. Which triall if it were duely applied vnto our hearts, ye greatest number of vs no doubt should find themselues carelesse and so haue iust matter with in themselues either to conuince themselues, & so be excuseles, or else to find their owne wickednsse, & so become more diligent and attentiue to ye word of the Lord. Lastly this doth no∣tably declare vnto vs the cause that so fewe do shew forth that care in obeying Page [unnumbered] the Lord as they should, euen because they make so small reckoning of Gods* word perswading themselues that either the knowledge thereof is not néedfull at al, or if any whit, yet they goe about it as though they had no stomacke to it: but sillie soules, if they did either know the necessitie, or comfort of it, they would not estéeme it so base: the necessity: that it should be our continuall counsel, for the directiō of our affaires: that it should* be as a lanterne to our féet & light vnto our paths: that we are naturaly in dark∣nesse, & it must be the candle to directe vs, or else we cannot choose but fall into spiritual dangers: y• comfort, that among the diuers troubles of this miserable world (the waywardnesse of our owne nature, and the manifold temptations of Sathan) it is not possible that we should stand or haue any hope of consolation but only in the promises of God, which be there set downe, whereon the soules of al holy men haue euer sed, and bene stayed: and therefore Dauid who was a kinge* indued with wisdome, strength, and Page [unnumbered] riches, yet sayeth he plainelye that that it was his comforte in his trouble: and, except the law of God had béene his delight, he had perished in his afflictions: and therfore let vs not flatter our selues, who are manie and infinite waies infe∣riour, and more vnable to stand, than he was: but let vs continually craue at Gods handes, that wée may be dailie more and more rauished with the loue of his word, and may haue the right vse of it, and then we shall sée, that of al things in this worlde it is the thing that wée should most desire.
So they came in haste]. The second ge∣nerall branch of the effect is this, that when they had one stirred vp another, and being earnest in enquiring out the matter, and also knowing by the directi∣on of the Angel, both the place where vn∣to they should go, & also the thing where▪ of they would be certified, do now, in all haste, without anie further delay, go to the place to sée the thing, wherein wée may beholde the true worke of Gods word, that it not onelie instructeth them Page [unnumbered] to conferre and talke of the thing, but al∣so to do it indéed. The maiestie of Gods word (as we shall sée hereafter) getteth an assent' vnto it (almost) of all men: in∣somuch, that all nowadaies are conten∣ted to professe wel, and to make a shew: they are willing to crie, Lord, Lord, and carrie the countenaunce of Gospellers, but to bring foorth the fruit of it in their conuersation, this is the thing that they straine curtesie at: but we are to learne (by the example of these shéepherds,) that if we wil be indéed, that which we wold* be accompted to be, then must we be as carefull to practise Gods commaunde∣ments in our life, as to speake of them in our months: for religion standeth not in profession onelie: the seruice of God standeth not in wordes alone: he is not straightway a Christian, that carieth the countenaunce of one: but he onelie who is careful both of profession, and also true obedience. For as it is most true, that without professing of the Gospel we can not be the members of Christs Church héere vpon earth: so is it as true, that Page [unnumbered] without the fruit of that which we make shew of, we cannot perswade our selues* to be (neither in déede are we) the ser∣uants of God. For whom God teacheth by his word, he indoweth with his spirit where the spirit of God is, there be the fruites of the spirit: and the body is dead because of sinne, but the spirit is life for righteousnesse sake. Let euery one of vs (therefore) lay this vnto our owne con∣sciences, and labour to make profit of it vnto our selues.
Againe we sée in these shéepheardes, that as they make the motion one to a∣nother, that they may goe, so they leaue not there, and so let it rest, but they goe forward also, a notable example for our instruction. When men that haue more* ciuill honestie and moderation of them∣selues then the common sorte haue, doe méete togither often, they haue vp whole common wealthes in their talke: euer saying, this is not wel, and that mighte be amended: & it were wel if such a thing were so: but you shal neuer heare more: They content themselues with (it should Page [unnumbered] be) & neuer put to their hands to further it: euen like to them, that being repro∣ued for swearing, saie: indéede I am to blame, and I confesse it is a fault: or be∣ing exhorted to this or that godly course, answere: indéede it should be so: hearing a minister teach any pointe of religion, say: he said very well, he is a very good man: I would we could followe him: but neuer striue to amend: neuer labour, nor indeuour to doe so: but couer all vn∣der this cloke, flesh is fraile, we are all sinners, and so thinke that to be excuse sufficient to kepe themselues still in the state they be, or else waxe worse and worse: Euen so deale these men: they moue or approue any good motion, and neuer striue to stirre vp others, that it may be practised, and these people be com monly such, as either beare offices, or are some way assistantes, in corporati∣ons, where they be gouerned by the cō∣sultation of man: and therefore you here presēt may haue good vse of this doctrine when you haue anie publique matters in hand: especially when you do méete to∣gither, Page [unnumbered] for the election of your Magi∣strates, I am sure you will all saie and wish in generall termes, that a suffici∣ent man may haue this and that office: but surely it falleth out, that euerie man almost is led by his priuate affection, in the particular wishing either the prefer∣ment and benefite of him selfe, or his friend, neuer regarding how able hée is to discharge it. And hence it is that (as Salomon saith) we may sée a great euil vnder the sunne, as an errour that pro∣céedeth from the face of him that ruleth:* follie is set in great excellencie, and the rich (in al manner of wisedom) set in the law place. I haue séene seruants on hor∣ses, and Princes walking as seruants on the ground: wherevpon foloweth all disorder, because the gouernours either can not, or dare not, or wil not execute their office aright.
We may moreouer sée in these shéep∣herds a note of great zeale, that their mindes being rauished with desire of the thing, they went in haste: striuing (as it were) to go one before an other: and Page [unnumbered] they had great reason for it: for being taught that the sonne of God, the saui∣our of mankinde, their redéemer, was to be séene in Bethlehem: who can blame them, if they ran one ouer an other for hast? Which teacheth vs what we are to do in matters of religion. Forsomuch as in the worde of God, we séeke the same Christ, yea, farre more glorious than he was, when they sought him: we are to contend with all possible indeuor, that we may euē go before our teachers, that (as Dauid did) we may excel them, in wisedome, zeale, vnderstanding, and godlines: But do we so? Alas, no, we are maruellous manerly herein: we giue place to euerie one to go before vs, and* we would be so fine (after the fleshly maner) that we looke at men, and follow them: and though we sée manie goe for∣ward before vs, if anie in whom wée haue anie confidence, procéede not, wée tarrie also: and this is our excuse, loe (say we) is not such a mā wise, and lear∣uedder? is not he of great accoumpt with the best? trowe you if it were the right Page [unnumbered] way to heauen that he would so little regard it? I know him to haue more skill then I, and therefore looke how he doeth so will I doe: for he is an honest substantiall man. And thus we builde vpon men, forgetting the rocke Iesus Christ, vpon whom we should settle our ground, and of whome we must learne both knowledge, and example of life: but in our worldlye matters (which* should be meanes to induce vs to the cō∣sideration of heauenly thinges) we doe not so, for if we heare of a benefite, or preferment, or any other thing whereby we may gaine: we say not, he is a man more worthy to haue it then I, he hath more néede of it then I: but we striue by all meanes to preuent our neighbor: then happie is he (thinke we) that can rise eareliest, and can spurre his horse to runne the fastest: then is our mannerli∣nesse that we vse in Gods matters clean forgotten: the gredy desire of gaine hath so rauished our heartes, that we cleane forget, nay that we are carelesse, whom it is that we goe before, father or mo∣ther, Page [unnumbered] friend or foe. Whereby we doe euen condemne our selues to be méere worldlinges, wholly addicted to the mucke of this worlde, not caring what become of all our dearest friendes, yea of our owne soules after this life, so that we may haue present gaine. O that we were thus minded towards heauenly thinges: that we had such a care to get vnto vs true wisdome, vertue and holi∣nesse. O that we were as vigilant to in∣crease in knowledge, faith and righte∣ousnes: as we be in dignitie, welth, and worldly pleasure. O that we could con∣sider the excellencie of the soule aboue the body: and thereby compare the or∣namentes of the one with the other, and the necessitie of the one beyond the other: then (doubtlesse) would our righteousnes burst foorth as the starres, and our holi∣nesse as the sun at mid-daie: then should not wée poore preachers of Gods worde, crie out so much as we do, for religion and reformation, with so small profite: then should not Christ be turned behind •…s, and our owne denises be preferred: Page [unnumbered] then should not the counsel of God giue place to the decrées of men, nor follie beare the sway, and wisedome be despi∣sed as it is euerie where, to the great dis∣honour of our most louing and bountiful God, and griefe of the consciences of all that feare his holie name.
And found) Now foloweth the fruit of this trauaile of the shéepherds, in thrée points (as you heard in the beginning) first, they found that they sought for: se∣condly, published it abroad: and thirdly, glorified God for it.
And found both Marie, and Ioseph, and the babe laid in the cratch) The first fruit, which is this: that according to their ex∣pectation and earnest desire, they vsing the meanes, and taking the course that was inioyned vnto them, obteine their desire, & find Christ, as it was told them:* wherein we may behold generally the truth of the word of God that euer com∣meth to passe according as it is foretold: to teach vs to repose vnfained confidence in it. And perticularly we may sée that veryfied in this place, that our Saui∣our Page [unnumbered] Christ promised, saying: aske, and it •…halbe giuen you: séek, and ye shal find:*•…nocke, and it shalbe opened vnto you: •…r whosoeuer asketh receyueth, and he •…hat seeketh findeth, and to him that •…nocketh it shalbe opened: God is not •…ke vnto worldly men, that are very li∣•…rall in promises, and sparing in per∣•…rmāce, but what soeuer he promiseth, we vse those meanes that he prescri∣•…eth, for the obtaining of it, he perfor∣•…eth it, yea and that not niggardly: so at, if at any time thou beest not parta∣•…r of those thinges in particular: which God hath generally promised vnto his, •…ure thy selfe, that the cause is only in •…ee, and no part in him: for the most •…dlesse that euer were, coulde neuer •…ccuse God of this, to be shorte in •…e performance of his word. And •…herefore let vs make this vse of it, vnto •…ur selues: y• séeing he is so free in word, •…d so bountifull in déed, let vs cast all •…ur care vpon him, let vs cleaue, with∣•…t doubting, vnto his mercy, and take •…at course of life that he inioyneth, vsing Page [unnumbered] all the lawful meanes that he hath sanc∣tified in his word, & then shall we proue* what is the good will of God, acceptable and perfect: then shall we to the greate comfort of our soules, séele that it is no vaine thing to serue God: that we haue not washed our handes in innocency for naught. But here we are to be very wa∣ry, that we tempt not God, and so accuse him of breach of promise. For in truth•…* there be many that séeke and finde not: that aske and haue not: that beg and ob∣teine not: that would enter in, and can∣not. Whereof S. Iames giueth the rea∣son:* for that (saith he) they aske amis, that they might consume it vpon their owne lustes: which wee doe sée moste euident in our owne experience: for euery man wisheth, that he were perswaded of the loue of God towards him, that he coulde serue God, as he commandeth, and might come to the kingdome of heauen, and yet the most part neuer the nearer. For either they dispise and contemne y•* meanes that should bring them to the thing that they desire, (as he that doth wishe he were religious, condemneth Page [unnumbered] word preached: he that would be holy, refuseth to striue against the lusts of his •…wne flesh: he that would be rich, refuseth •…he paines to trauaile for the same or else •…edoth it so distrustingly, that he reposeth •…ot y• confidence in God, which he should. The world is full of both these sortes of people: the former are espied folishe, e∣uen by naturall reason, the latter séeme to haue greater colour: for (thinke they) I coulde be verye well contented to be religious, and so inioye the reward of y• same. But what is now in this world? I sée yet what is there, I cannot tell, I will not therefore be so foolish, as vtterly to renounce these present pleasures so farre, as to denie my selfe wholly: but this I will doe, I will take vpon me the profession of Iesus Christ, and giue him some intertainement in my heart, but not wholly: I will not trust him too farre, but take him in the one hand, and the world in the other, that if at any time, I be troubled for the one, I may cleaue with honesty to the other, and say I neuer meant any lesse. Thus doe Page [unnumbered] a number in these dayes (as their déeds doe most euidently declare) but what get they by it? Surely, the Lord in his iust iudgement, doth so bridle them be∣cause they would not trust him wholly to be their gouernour, that they doe neuer féele the swéetnesse of Religion, in so much that in time of persecution they vanish away, and in the dayes of trouble they knowe not which way to turne, be∣cause they would gladly retaine Christ, and yet feeling no comfort by his worde dare not cleaue wholly vnto him. But let vs beware of parting stakes betwéene God and the world: let vs not come lim∣ping vnto the Lord, but with our whole wils, hearts and minds, haue affiance in him: that by his mercy we may reape the benefit of Iesus Christs obedience, for our full contentment in this world, and glorification in the world to come.
And whē they had seen it, they published abroade that which was tolde them of the Childe.) Nowe followeth the second fruit of their trauaile: to wit, that they séeing the truth of God in his promise, and per∣ceiuing Page [unnumbered] that God had some greater work to doe in him, they dispersed it abroade, and told it to others, as they coulde get conuenient occasion: so that this being the meaning of the wordes, let vs ob∣serue those things that are to be learned out of the same, for our instruction: & first let vs consider the time whē they pub∣lished it, euen when they did sée and per∣ceiue plainely, that it was so indéed, as they were told of the Angell, so that there could be no deniall of it any way. Which teacheth vs this lesson: that reli∣giō must first be knowen before it be vt∣tered: for how can a man reueale a thing vnto an other, whereof he is still igno∣rant* himselfe? How can a blind man sée to directe an other in the way? and ther∣fore the first thing that is required at our handes, in the seruice of God, is that we seeke thoroughly to knowe his will, to the end that we may haue a most certain ground, both how to directe our owne wayes, and also to make our lightes shine to others, which al men do desire to do, or at least to be so accounted: but be∣cause Page [unnumbered] they haue not that care to be di∣rected by certaine knowledge, both their own wayes that séeme good in their own eyes (yea thoughe they be workes in themselues good) are odious in the sight* of God, as being fruits that procéede not from faith, and also their profession or outward shewe, is espied faultie euen in the world, and they accounted hypo∣crites: so that if we enter duely into the cōsideration of the estate of such persons, we shall sée it to be of all others most de∣sperate: for in the sight of God, their do∣ings are abhominable, insomuch as they haue not learned by the knowledge of his word to do them in faith, and in the iudgement of men, they are also re∣iected: for both the godly (to whom the Lord hath giuen the spirit of discretion to discerne those thinges that differre) do sée their course to be only in outward ap∣pearance, and therefore ioyne not with them: and also the wicked who cannot discerne otherwise then by the fruites, do sée that they make a shewe of one thing, and practise an other: and there∣fore Page [unnumbered] doe euen of all other detest them most, so that they being neither beloued of God, nor man, must néedes (of all o∣ther) be in the worst case. Therefore they that intend to take a right cause, where with they may both please God, •… bring comfort vnto their owne soules, and also stoppe the mouthes of their ad∣uersaries, as they be desirous to doe those thinges that may be approued be∣fore men, so let them first beginne with this that they may learne of the worde how they may haue warrant from him, and be sure that they doe his will, and not to take vpon them for any priuate occasion (either of gaine, credit, or plea∣sing others) to make shewe of that, which neither they know, nor yet haue any féeling of: so shall they in any extre∣mitie haue the testimony of a good con∣science, the comfort whereof ouercom, meth all those euils that the godly are continually (thorough the malice of Sa∣tan) haunted withall.
Moreouer, as wée sée that these shéep∣heards begunne with knowledge, and Page [unnumbered] were first instructed thoroughly in the thing themselues: so we see▪ that as soone as they had sure intelligence of the mat∣ter, they published it, and made it know∣en to others: wherein they make know∣en, both their thankfull heartes to God, and also their louing affections to their bretheren: their thankfull heartes, that hauing reciued such a benefit from the hand of God, thinke it their duetye to make knowen vnto others, what a bountifull God he is: Their louing af∣fections to their brethren, that are desi∣rous to haue them partakers of those no∣table benefits of God, in the birth of his Sonne Iesus Christ: whereby we may learne a most notable point of our duety, that our thankefulnesse to God, and loue* to our brethren must moue vs, by al law∣full meanes, to make that knowen vnto others which we our selues doe learne out of Gods worde, the summe whereof standeth in these two pointes: to reproue our bretheren offending, and to instruct them when we sée them ignorant. The carnall man that would not be reproued, Page [unnumbered] because he will not amende, nor be in∣structed, for that he despiseth knowledge, will say, that a minister must doe so, but priuate persons are not to meddle in any such matter: against whom if I shoulde aleadge no more but only the doings of these shéepheardes, he were thoroughly answered: but to make it more cleare by the Scriptures, for reprouing sinne,* which is the first point: The Lord sayth thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart, but thou shalt plainely rebuke thy neighbour, and suffer him not to sin. Whereby we do most euidently sée, both that we ought to reproue one another offending, and also that if we doe it not we hate him: and for instructing, the se∣cond point, Dauid saith, restore to me* (O Lord) the ioy of thy saluation, and sta blish me with thy frée spirit, then shall I teach thy wayes vnto the wicked, and sinners shall be conuerted vnto thee. So that it appeareth plainely hereby what is the duety of euery Christian, which (indéede) causeth them that haue a care to kepe Gods commandementes, to take Page [unnumbered] this course where with all the godlesse are moste of all offended, and are readye* to offer them any violent iniury, char∣ging them to doe it not of care ouer Gods glory, nor loue to them, but either to shew themselues buste, in carping with others, or else of an arrogant brauery, for praise to be accounted religious persons, whose accusation thoughe it may fall out to be true in some, (for we haue exam∣ples of both in the Scriptures: Iudas was a buste body, carping at the déede of*Marie, for spending the precious ointmēt vpon Christ, that might haue bene sold, and giuen to the poore: and Simon Magus* was an arrogant person, who desired the gifts of the holy ghost, for vaine glory sake, rather then to doe good with them: Yet it is no excuse for them: for though a man reproue me of malice, mistrust me of vaine glory, yet that is only to him and not to me. I must respecte the thing which is for my owne benefite, and not the intent of the party which he shall an∣swere for Therefore seeing the worlde cannot abide this, and yet thou seest it Page [unnumbered] inioyned vnto thée from the Lord: be* carefull that in thy owne consci∣ence thou be not guiltie of any sinister minde in doing it, and then let them storme neuer so much, thou standest vp∣on a sure foundation, and discha•…•…st thy duety, so that his bloud shall be vpon his owne heade.
It is said here of them, that they pub∣lished abroad the thing which was tolde them of that child: that is, all that they had heard, & no more shewing their faith∣fulnesse for our instruction: that as God hath giuen his word, so would he haue it al published & made known, as he hath perfected it himselfe, so is it hys wil, that we should neither adde to it, nor detract from it, but leaue it as we find it: a les∣son that is very néedefull to be learned: For the world doth commit high treason* against God in this point, on both sides: some doe estéeme certaine pointes of doctrine, too high misteryes, and therfore would not haue them medled withall, but buried in silence: as namely the doc∣trine of Gods eternall predestination: Page [unnumbered] the very staffe & vndoubted stay of our hope in Iesus Christ: which is moste largely handeled in many places of the Scripturs at large, and euen (as it were) discoursed vpon of purpose. Especially* by the holy apostle S. Paule in two seue∣rall places: the which, whosoeuer would haue vnknowen, doth accuse God, ei∣ther* of lacke of discretion, to set y• downe in his reuealed word that is not to be taught, or of folly to trouble himselfe in reuealing it, and man in séeking to know a néedelesse thing. Others (not hauing the right vse of Gods word) doe in some thinges thinke it insufficient, and therefore they must adde (forsooth) some deuise of their owne braine, where∣by the Scriptures might be made per∣fect, and these do accuse the Lord of great* carelesnesse ouer his Church, that would giue them such an vnper fect lawe, wher∣by all and euery cause and person in his Church cannot be directed: and therefore letting them both goe, let vs imbrace all Gods worde, and nothing else: let vs publish that all, and nothing but it, by the Page [unnumbered] example of these shéepheardes.
We may yet further behold in them the victorie of the spirit against the flesh, there were diuerse reasons to induce thē not to beléeue it: as the basenesse of his* birth, the simplicitie of his mother, and contemptiblenesse of his kindred (for the stocke of Dauid in those dayes was most hated by the heathen kinges, and goue∣nours): There were also reasons to moue them (though they did beléeue it, yet not to publish it, as, that Herod would be his enimie, because he shoulde be king of the Iewes, and so they clapte in prison for spreading it abroade: that the Phareseis and Scribes woulde be grieued wih it, because they looked for a Messias comming in worldly pompe: & so would excomunicate these poore sheep∣heardes, if they confessed this child to be Christ: so that they might feare both the gouernours of the church, and also of the comon wealth to be against them: which must néeds bring vnto them great trouble: and as for Christ, he was but a child, and his kindred being poore, and Page [unnumbered] therfore his partie weake, they coulde haue no rescue at his handes from their violence: but none of these considerati∣ons troubled them so, as to feare them from publishing it: why? because they were fully perswaded, that the saluation* both of their soules and bodies, rested on∣ly in that child, and therefore it was their duty to vse al meanes, that the glo∣ry of God might be aduaunced for it, by whose example we may learne a moste necessary lesson. Many thereby, that take vpon them the profession of Christ, who, notwithstanding by the considera∣tion either of his base estate, or for feare of wordly losse or tribulatiō for his sake, or by one temptation or other, are driuen backe from that sincere course that once they did practise: whose doinges are cleane contrary to the doinges of these shéepeheardes: this then is the lesson for vs, where the feare of God taketh roote, & religion is once truly sealed in the heart, by Gods holy spirit: the seale of y• glory of God doth so possesse that man▪ that al worldly considerations cease, that agrée Page [unnumbered] not with it: al alurements are lothsome, that draw him from it: and all afflictiōs are swéete, that come to him with it: this is a most necessary meditation in these our dayes, wherein men are so generally carried away with the pleasures, de∣lights, and riches of this present world, that there séemeth to be euē such a reuolt, as was in the time of our sauiour Christ,* when many of his disciples went backe∣ward, insomuch that Christ may say to a very small number, that serue him truly, now will you goe too? whose stay and comfort is that beauenly aunswere of Peter, to whom should we goe? Seing Christ hath the wordes of eternall life, whome we beléeue and knowe to come from God, and to haue all the treasures of knowledge and wisdome hidden* in him. The Lord open our eyes that we may sée his waies, & truly walke in the same.
THE SECOND SERMON OF OBEDIENCE TO THE Gospell.
Luke. 2. verse. 18.
NOWE followeth the second sort of people wher in this thing was effectu∣all (for the third thing y• is to be considered in the shéepheardes because the holy ghost hath set it last in the text, I will also referre it vnto the latter ende) for it is said when they heard of the shéep heardes both the thing that was come to passe and also the mean parties by whō: they wondered, for euery point of religi∣on is straunge to naturall men, where∣in Page [unnumbered] we may sée y• wonderful force of gods word which carrieth with it such a ma∣iestye, that it béeing sincerely deliuered, shaketh the heartes euen of all estates of men. Which we may also learne of the Lord himselfe, by the mouth of the holie Prophet saiyng. Surely as the raine commeth downe and the snow from hea∣uen, & returneth not thether, but watreth* the earth and makes it to bring forth and to bud, that it may giue séed to the sow∣er and bread vnto him that eateth: so shal my word be that goeth out of my mouth: it shall not returne vnto me void, but it shal accomplish that which I will and it shal prosper in ye thing whereto I send it. Now to what end and for what purpose the word of God is sent that we may knowe how it worketh S. Paule doth notably set downe. God saith he maketh* manifest the Sauour of his knowledge by vs, in euey place. For we are vnto God the swéete sauor of Christ in the•… that are saued, and in them which pe∣rish▪ to the one we are the sauor of death vnto death: and to the other the sauor Page [unnumbered] of life vnto life. So that we may sée here* that the word of God is euer more effec∣tuall but not to all in any manner: for some it hardeneth through their owne peruersnes, others it molifieth and ma∣keth them more obedient vnto God and surely this is a doctrine wherewithall we haue great neede to examine our selues. We haue heard the word along time and it is plaine that it all wayes worketh one way or other: so that eue∣ry* one of vs may thus reason with our selues: Hath the Gospell béene profita∣ble vnto me? then haue I encreased in knowledge, growne stronger in faith, and holier in life, by the hearing of the same, if I can finde these fruits of the word in me, truly, then haue I (to the comfort of my owne soule) a testimonie within me, that Gods word is vnto me, the sauour of life vnto life: but contra∣riwise,* am I as ignorant as I was? as faithlesse as I was▪ and sinnefull as I was? Surely I am in a wofull taking, for (though I féele it not) my heart is hardened euerie daie, and I (the longer Page [unnumbered] I liue) am still further from GOD. This is a fearefull thing (if it were rightly weyed) not onelie to them that be professed foes to the worde that they heare (whome all men accompt to be in desperate estate) but also, to them that otherwise are taken and doe take them selues for ciuill honest men, that for orders sake will present them selues* in the place where the worde of God is preached, and thinke thereby that the Preacher is beholden vnto them, that they wil vouchsafe to giue countenaunce to him with their presence: but neuer care nor regarde what is spoken, nei∣ther reape anie benefite by it: such may assure them selues (for most sure it is) that they doe depart worse than they came, because the worde that they haue heard must néedes haue his worke, and returneth not to God in vaine.
These people that thus wondered at* the thing, are yet further to be considred, to wit, that for all their wondering, wée reade not, that euer they set the one foot before the other, to go to the place where Page [unnumbered] Christ was, that they might sée him: which argueth, that they did not mar∣uel in respect of the benefite that redoun∣ded to mankinde by Christ, but onelie. because of the strangenesse of the thing, and that for the time present. The world now adaies is ful of people that be right of the same disposition, for let them come to the Church where they heare Gods word preached, you shall sée them pre∣sently so attentiue as though they would catch the doctrine before it be vttered: sée∣ming so to depend vpon the mouth of the minister, that they thirst for the doctrine before it come, and also departing from thence, you shal heare them with one cō∣sent & general applause admire ye know∣ledge, zeale, boldnes & gifts of the man: commending it highly to be as good a sermon as euer they heard: but ask them what it was, they cannot tel, it is but as the flash of a lightning vnto them, quick∣ly vanished from their vnderstanding: yea looke into their liues howe they pro∣fit by that doctrine for their amendment: they be euen as they were before▪ neuer Page [unnumbered] benefited by it, whereby they do notably* condemne themselues: For, in hearke∣ning to it so diligently, they consent that it should be heard: in commending it so highly, they confesse it should be obey∣ed, and yet in that they neyther are in∣structed nor reformed by it, they shewe themselues to walke contrarie to that which their consciences do approoue: and so they néede no other Iudge but their owne hearts, nor witnesse against them, but their owne consciences, therefore, (if wée desire not to be of this number) let vs growe in knowledge and refor∣mation by the word, and then doe wée heare and professe the Gospel aright, let vs not saie, he said well, and neuer care to remember his sayings: let vs not say, we should do thus, or (as the manner is) he touched such and such persons no∣tably to daie: but let vs applie it vnto our selues, and reape fruit from it for our owne amendement, which all must doe that will be right hearers of Gods word.
But Marie kept all those things and pon∣deredPage [unnumbered]them in her heart] This is the third parte, wherein the birth of Christ re∣uealed by the Angell is effectuall, shée was the mother of the childe, and did knowe that hée was wonderfully con∣ceiued, and therefore was perswaded, that God had a marueilous worke to do by him: And séeing first the Aungell comming to her, and then the shéepe∣heards, was further induced to muze of the matter, and therefore she did as is here expressed: First, she kept them, secondly, she pondred them in her heart.
Kept all those things) The first: the originall word is, that she kept them all togither as it were in one bundle, both the Angels speach and the shéepeheards comming to hir, and euery other circum∣stance in the maner of her sons incarna∣tion and birth, wherein she sheweth her selfe obedient euerie way vnto the word of God, so often as she heard it: for the Angell Gabriel had told her this matter before hand, and nowe she hearing the same from the shéepeherds, laieth it then also vp in her hart. If she had béen of the Page [unnumbered] minde that manie be in these our daies,* and yet take them selues to be good Christians, shée woulde haue saide vnto the shéepeheards: Why do I heare this from you? I haue béene tolde it be∣fore by an Aungell from heauen. Why then shoulde I giue eare vnto it a∣gaine especially being spoken by you, that be but inferiour persons, of no reputation? So saie manie among vs, if they heare one doctrine twice, they thinke it not worthie the hearing a∣gaine, because they thinke they lear∣ned ynough at the first: but if it be the second time by a meaner Minister than at the first, they abhorre it so much the more, saying: I heard this hand∣led by a learneder man than hée is, by Maister Doctour, by Maister Arch∣deacon, &c. I am sure he can saye no more in it (nor so much) as hée did, therefore I will be gone. But Ma∣rie was not of this minde: for shée considered, that the shéepeheards could not come to the knowledge of the thing, without the will of God: and that the Page [unnumbered] Lord who guideth all things, had dire∣cted them to come thither, and therefore it was méete forher to harken diligent∣ly, and marke euerie word verie atten∣tiuely. Which vse also we must make of the like: for if a Sparrowe fall not* vppon the grounde without our fathers* will: then can not wée, neither shal we heare anie part of his heauenlie worde▪ without his appointment. Therefore I must make this vse (rather) of it, reaso∣ning with my selfe thus: I thinke that I know this point that is now in hand∣ling well ynough: but yet I am decei∣ued, for God woulde not then haue it spoken to me againe, therfore I am now to heare it as diligently and marke it as carefully, as though I had neuer known •…rst what it meant: and on the other side, the partie, who hath heeretofore refused to obey such or such a doctrine, and heareth it sounding in his eares againe, may reason thus with him∣selfe, why doth God offer it vnto me, knowing, that héeretofore I haue despi∣sed it? Surely because hée hath a loue Page [unnumbered] vnto me, and would haue me repent, and* not be condemned: Beholde the greate loue and mercie of God vnto me vile, and wretched sinner: therfore now will I goe vnto him, and saie, Father I haue sinned against heauen and in thy sight, and am not worthie to be called thy seruant: I haue done wickedly, in contemning so often thy holie worde, in casting it behinde me despitefully: and now Lord, for thy mercies sake be fauo∣rable vnto me, and receiue me vnto thy mercie. Happie is that man that can make this vse of Gods word: but if they doe not, they may take it thus (for it is vndoubtedly so) that the oftener they be inuited to amend, aud conuert not, the more horrible shall their condemnation be.
And pondered them in her heart) The second thing that Marie did, they beeing kept in the chest of her heart, it is saide moreouer, that she pondered them, that is, called them often to her remem∣brance, and was alwaies muzing of them. Wherein wée may beholde an Page [unnumbered] example of most Christian modestie, that hauing so great matters reuealed vnto her, she maketh no bragge of it, as* though she were to be honoured of all men and admired for it, but is rather carefull to make vse of it vnto her selfe. By whose example is corrected that proud spirite of worldlings, who, albeit they neither knowe one point of religi∣on aright, nor yet can tell how to begin the practise of a godlie life: yet notwith∣standing* they wil oppose them selues, both in knowledge against the learned∣est, and in godlinesse against the most holie, whose helpe (in déede) Sathan vseth to out face the true seruants of the Lord with their bragges: and to the vt∣termost of their power, to bring them into hatred and contempt. But Marie was not of that minde, she was inspired with that spirite which teacheth true hu∣militie, which instructeth the godlie to be lowlie in their owne conceit, and* humble in their owne imaginations, bi∣cause it doth bring them to the sight of their manifold sinnes, and the desert of Page [unnumbered] the same: wherby they are brought low and taught to depend vppon the méere mercie of God, to boast in nothing, but their owne infirmities: to desire to knowe nothing but Iesus Christ, and* him crucified.
Againe wée are to obserue, that shée therefore pondered them in her heart, because shée did not yet beholde what would be the euent of these things: and yet shée would not neglect them. By whose example we may learne a profi-table lesson, to teach vs how to vse the doctrine that wée learne from the Lords messengers. It may be, that at that* present time when we heare it, we can∣not tel how to haue the present vse of it, as they that be certainely perswaded of Gods fauour to them, haue not present or so great néede of the comforts against distrustfulnesse, they that be sufficiently humbled, néede not greatly the seuere reprehensions of the Law: yet notwith∣standing, when they heare the doctrine, they are not straightway to thinke they néed not harken vnto it, but rather they Page [unnumbered] ponder it in their heart, and lay it vp there as in a store house. We may learne this lesson by the example of a good hous∣holder,* who finding anie implement in his house, which he presently knoweth not how to bestow, wil saie, I wil keep it seauen yeares, and once in that time I shall haue vse of it: euen so it fareth with Christians, they are to prouide for warre in the time of peace: to arme them selues as wel where Sathan stri∣keth not, as where he doth strike, and to be furnished with the complete armor of God, to be instructed with doctrine euerie waie, that wheresoeuer, or when∣soeuer he shall assaile vs, his blowes may be warded, and kept backe with the sword of the spirit which is the word of God, for we are not worthy to be so much of Gods counsell, as to know with what trial he wil search vs next, & there∣fore we are to be euerie way prouided, persecution, sicknesse, pouertie, and all other Crosses that we are subiect vnto, come very sodenly, whē it wil be too late, than to séeke armour of proofe for our Page [unnumbered] comfort, if we lacke it then, we had as good lacke it still, and therefore lette vs* prouide for it aforehand, that we neuer be found as the foolish Uirgins without oile in our lamps.
And the sheepherds returned glorifying and praising God, for all that they had heard and seene, as it was spoken vnto them) This is the third and last effect that is sette downe vnto vs to be wrought in the shéepeheards, by the knowledge of the birth of Christ: which containeth in it three things: first, their returning: se∣cond, their glorifying, and praysing of God: third, the cause wherefore, for al that they had heard and seen as it was shewed vnto them.
The sheepeheards returned) The first thing (as you sée) is, that when they had séene, and were fully instructed in the birth of Iesus Christ they returned back againe from Bethlem vnto the place of their former abode, to exercise the due∣ties of their ordinary vocation: wherein we may beholde in what place they set the workes of their calling, euen in the Page [unnumbered] last place of al: for we sée, that they first went in haste to the place where Christ was to be séene, then published it a∣broade tothe worlde, and lastly, when they had done, they returned: wée are to learne then (if we mean to profit by their* example) to preferre the knowledge of Iesus Christ, and the spreading abroad of his will, whereby he may be glorifi∣ed before our owne matters of this* world. For the first end of our creation is Gods glorie, and the second, our own saluation, wherevnto in their seuerall places the businesses of this world must attend and giue place, that is, that no things that be in, or vppon this earth, should be anie hinderaunces vnto vs for the setting foorth of Gods glorie, and the séeking of our owne saluation▪ a les∣son that is sooner taught than it is lear∣ned, and sooner spoken than practised: for howe fewe are there to be found in this▪ worlde that doe kéepe their worldlie de∣sires so farre vnder, that they be wholly eaten vppe with the glorie of the Lorde? And howe manie are there euerie where Page [unnumbered] that do place this world in equall degrée with religion, yea and suffer it (beeing of it self an vnderling, the things wher∣of God hath put vnder mans feet) to be so saucie as to be check-mate with reli∣gion, yea and to checke (often times) and to controll the very motions of the spirit of God? But of all other, how ea∣sie a thing is it to find euery where those persons that do entertaine this present world as a Quéene, giuing vnto him the whole rule and gouernement of their hearts and minds, and turning religion cleane out at the doores, do bid her fare∣well, and set her to begging. Where∣vppon, she hauing so long offered herselfe vnto this land, and finding so base inter∣tainement, shée is at this present almost banished out of it, so that a man may séeke whole houses, and not finde her, townes and countries, and yet her face is founde scarce to appeare. But howe∣soeuer the worlde despiseth her (being that wisedome of God spoken of by Sa∣lomon, that crieth in the stréets) we are to preferre her before golde and siluer, Page [unnumbered] before delights and pleasures, we are to* make it the finall end of all our deuises, and counsels, to procure him vnto vs, who onely teacheth the seruice of God, and openeth the way to eternall life. And not to doe, as is the manner of ma∣ny, who, when they be exhorted to make religion their chiefest care, and not to wed them selues thus to the world, wil answere (their owne consciences telling them that it should be so) indéed I confes* I am too blame to be so negligent, but to say the truth, I could not as yet do as I would, for I haue had so many mat∣ters in hand as I could possibly turne my selfe vnto, which are indifferent wel ouergone now: so that if I had once done with one or two businesses moe, or, if I had such and such a commoditie that I am about, then you shall sée me be at an other stay. Thus doe these persons think that they do answere wislly, & yet euen in such spéeches they declare, that when they haue serued the worlde, then wil they serue God: (for they shal neuer want such excuses so long as they liue) Page [unnumbered] when they haue nothing else to doe, they will be religious: in effect, when sinne for saketh them•…, then will they forsake it: But God looketh for the first fruites for the prime of all our labours, he will be serued before and aboue al other thin∣ges: and therefore let vs not thinke to deale with him so: let vs not deceiue (or flatter our selues) thus: but let vs fol∣lowe the example of Dauid, dedicate al* that is within vs, to the praise of his ho∣lie name, and that from our youth vp∣ward, so shall we be sure of the bles∣sing of God in this life, and in the world to come.
Let vs yet obserue further the do∣ings of these shéepeherds, who (though they were verie zealous and forward) yet you sée, that in his due place they had also a dutifull care of their calling, not béeing so farre carried awaie from their shéepe, that they vtterly forgotte them: but it is reported of them héere, (and allowed by the spirite of God) that they returned, to wit, to their charge a∣gaine: by whose example wée do learne Page [unnumbered] this lesson, that religion (euen in the perfection thereof) doeth not abolish the ordinarie calling of this world, nor ex∣empt any man from taking some law∣full waie or other for the maintenaunce of him selfe and his familie. For God hauing placed man in this world, and a∣dourned it with the wonderful riches of his creatures, and made them all for the vse of man, permitteth vnto him (recei∣uing them as from him with thankeful∣nesse, and vsing them for his necessitie, and comfort) the frée vse and benefite of this world, and al the things contained in the same: yea rather religion is so far from hindering or exempting a man from his calling, that it is the onelie di∣rection for man, both to choose vnto him∣selfe such a calling as is lawfull: and also (hauing admitted himselfe therevn∣to) to employ him selfe in the same a∣right, and to vse it lawfully: the scrip∣ture is plentifull for▪ the proofe of this point. Let vs consider of certaine pla∣ces for the warrant of this doctrine. But we beseech you (brethren) that ye increase*Page [unnumbered] more and more, and that ye studie to be quiet, and to medle with your owne bu∣sinesse, and to worke with your owne hands as we commaunded you, and in* an other place: This we warned you of, that if there were anie that woulde not worke, that he should not eate, for wée heare that there are some which walke among you inordinately, and worke not at al, but are busie bodies: therefore them that are such, we commaund and exhort by our Lorde Iesus Christ, that they worke with quietnesse, and eate* their owne breade. Iohn the Baptist teaching the people the right fruites of* repentance, councelled no man to leaue his calling, but rather taught him the right vse of the same. Saint Paul like∣wise telleth vs, that we may vse this world, yet it must be as though we v∣sed it not, that is, not to fix our mind vp∣on it, but estéem of it as a necessary thing in this present pilgrimage, so▪ that the do∣ctrine* being most euident, it teacheth vs to condemne the doings of foure seuerall sortes of people: first of them that vnder Page [unnumbered] the pretence & shew of religion, will liue an idle life, being carelesse both for them selues & their families, alleadging this: God wil prouide, & in the meane while they despise the means whereby he pro∣uideth, liuing a careles & idle life, yea are burthenous (often) to their brethren, and think, that bicause they professe religion, others ought to support thē, but they are to know, y• (if they be not within the nū∣ber of lame & impotent persons, who can not prouide for themselues) The Apo∣stle enioineth to them, to eate their own bread with quietnes. And if they do pro∣uide for themselues, & are able (through their smal charge) to do it in smal time, & so loiter ouer the rest, thei are yet further* o learn, that they must also labour that they may giue to him that néeds, to haue such a care ouer their poore brethren, that al the help that they can possibly affoorde, is to be employed to the benefite of the saints that are on the earth, & this is not only to be looked to generally in thē that* haue ye gouernment of thēselues in these things, but also to be diligētly considered Page [unnumbered] of by seruants that professe religion: for it is a common complaint (the trueth whereof I referre vnto euerie mannes conscience) that if once they become re∣ligions, they waxe more carelesse in their Maisters businesse, which if they do, it is a greeuous sinne in them, for re∣ligion teacheth them no such matter, neither giueth them anie such leaue, but rather cleane contrarie, for Saint Paul enioineth vnto seruants, that they* should be obedient vnto them that are their Maisters according to the flesh in all things, not with eie seruice as men pleasers, but in singlenesse of heart fea∣ring God: and bringeth a reason (in an other place) to perswade them therevn∣to: to wit, that whatsoeuer good thing* any man doth, that same shal he receiue of the Lord, whether he be bond or frée, and saith further in an other place, that else they make the name of God and his* doctrine euill spoken of, and therefore, if anie shall by colour of religion, waxe carelesse in his Maisters affaires, lette both himselfe and others knowe, that he Page [unnumbered] is not religious indéede, but abuseth the name of religion, to couer his owne sinnes. For this is most true, that re∣ligion is the onelie thing that maketh seruauntes haue a conscience to looke to their Maisters gaines, and therfore they* that would haue profitable seruants let them not onelie be carefull to retaine such as they know to feare God, but also* that they instruct them dailie in the feare of the Lord, teaching them to do euerie thing by knowledge out of the word and conscience of obedience vnto God. The second sort of people that by this doctrine* are iustly reprooued, be the Anabaptiste, and their Cousingermanes the family of Loue, (of Lust I may terme them bet∣ter) who (mistaking that place of Scrip∣ture in the Actes of the Apostles where* it is said, that they that were conuerted vnto Christ, had all things common) do holde, that no man hath anie proper∣tie in any thing that he possesseth, but that euerie brother hath as lawfull in∣terest in it, and may vse it when he will, as the partie him selfe, and though the Page [unnumbered] words of the text at the first blush séeme to import so much: yet being duely con∣sidered they containe no such matter, for the verse following doth shewe the meaning of the former where it is saide, that they sold their possessions, and parted to euerie one as they had need, that is, they had such a zeale and loue vnto the brethren, that they did reléeue and helpe them. But if it should be so taken, it were manifest contra∣rie to other places of the Scriptures (which were great blasphemie to think that any parte of Gods worde shoulde be contrarie to an other) for trueth is one, and alwaies like it selfe▪, and nothing commeth from God, but it is all truth, and nothing but truth. Nowe in the Scriptures we reade, that God hath set downe lawes to gouerne men buying and selling, that euery one shold deale iustly therein, and that none shold defraud an other by false waights, or measure, or counterfaite wares, which were a néedelesse doctrine, if men had no propertie in things, for then why should Page [unnumbered] they sell? Or what néeded the other to buy? Besides that, the Scripture is plentiful in this, to exhort rich men vnto liberalitie and pitie in reléeuing their néedie brethren, and neuer enioi∣neth vnto anie, to accompt nothing his owne. Againe we reade of manie god∣lie men that were rich, and had great possession, as Abraham, Iob, Salomon, Zacheus, Ioseph of Aremathia, yea, and after the time of those conuerted by pitie as Cornelius, Simon the Tanner, and* Gaius, who is saide to be the hoste of the whole Church. Lastly, (which is the most inuincible place of all) God hath commaunded that we shoulde not steale, which commaundement is ne∣uer broken, if no man possesseth of his owne, or if one mans goodes were com∣mon to an other man, therefore let vs imbrace this as an vndoubted truth, that God hath giuen vnto euerie man a pro∣pertie in that which he lawfully posses∣seth: onelie let him know this, that he is to haue care that he be liberall to his po∣wer, vnto those that néede, or else he Page [unnumbered] is no féeling member of Iesus Christ.*
The third sort is that rout of Friers and Monkes, who pretending the more oportunitie to serue God, abandoned themselues from all callings both of the Church and common wealth to the ende that they might liue an idle and loyte∣ring life, who through their hypocrisie robbed the people to enrich themselues, and their celles, and being carelesse of euerie good exercise, whereas by the Apostles rule (afore alleadged) they should not haue eaten yet notwithstan∣ding they were (for the most) so stall∣fed, and were so fatte Abbey lubbers, (that though they had béen willing) they were vnfit, and not able to performe a∣nie good thing: these be they that would deuoure (not onelie widows houses, but euen whole Lordships, yea, and the fat of whole countries, vnder the pretence of deuotion, and long superstitious prai∣ers, and yet notwithstanding the veriest Caterpillers that euer were, whereby we may behold (discerning the trée by the fruit) what gréedie vermine Poperie Page [unnumbered] doth hatch and bring foorth, to the greate impouerishing of whole cōmon welths, and kingdomes. Wée are not (Gods name be praised for it) much troubled with such people in these our daies, yet we are maruelously pestred with a kind of men that be much like them in quali∣ties, and those be they that when they could not thriue in their trades, or could not liue idly in them (being good for no∣thing, though they can neither teach o∣thers, nor yet haue learned what reli∣gion is themselues) haue (and do dailie) thrust them selues into the Ministerie, being of qualities much like vnto Iero∣boams Priests, where vpon aryseth this enormity, of all other, most to be lamen∣ted, that poore people (notwithstanding thys long libertie of the Gospell) re∣mayne stil as ignorant as they were in the time of Poperie, and are now more prophane in life, and godlesse in conuer∣sation than euer they were, because they sée these people that should leade them, who haue onelie chaunged their coats, liue so wickedly, that they neyther care Page [unnumbered] for religion nor yet ciuill honestie, who in truth (I speake that I knowe by ex∣perience) are the greatest foes that the true Ministers of Gods worde haue, peruerting priuately that whiche they teach publiquely: the Lorde putte it in the hearts of gouernours to see it redres∣sed.
The fourth, and the last sort of peo∣ple,* is, the gréedie couetous worldlings, who (respecting onely their own gaine) haue no regard what course they take, be it lawful or vnlawful, so that they may haue great aduantage by it, which peo∣ple generally be such, as séeke either to féede the veines and itching desires of fantastical heads with gay gorgeous and new deuises, whose gaine (through the follie and fickle headed alteration of vs Englishmen) is great: but if they had truely learned this doctrine, that reli∣gion enioineth vnto euerie man a lawe∣ful calling, and such a one, whereby he may be a profitable mēber among men,* they would with those godly Ephesians, not onelie leaue those curious Arts, but Page [unnumbered] euen burne the bookes whereby such fol∣lie is learned. Contrariwise, where religion is taught, and the fruit not she∣wed, such persons prooue the sorest eni∣mies, and most professed foes vnto reli∣gion. For, what a stirre did Demetrius* make in Ephesus at the preaching of Paule? and al to defend his owne trade of vngodlie gaine, by making still tem∣ples or shrines for Diana, much like vn∣to the boxes wherein the Papists are wont to putte their little God almigh∣tie (as they terme him) so that it behoo∣neth euerie one that is careful to please God, and benefite by religion, to la∣bour to be certified out of the worde of God, of the lawefulnesse of his calling, to the end, that he may embrace the Gos∣pell with a good conscience. But parti∣cularly those be especially by this doc∣trine seuerely to be reprehended, that either respecting the greatest gaine, or idlest life, doe conuert all that they haue into money, and putte it out vnto Usurie, of all other synnes the verie Canker of the common wealth Page [unnumbered] at this day, and a thing so generally v∣sed, euen of them that would be counted religious, as if it were as lawful, as to reape the fruites of the earth: againste which offence I meane not to make any* great inuectiue at this present, because the common place is long, and handled most learnedly of others, onely thus much wil I say of it, that it is flatly forbidden by al law, both Statute law, Ciuil law, and Canon law, and as for the law of God (whose only authoritie I fight withal against it) it is as plaine to be prooued, that it is a horrible sinne to take any gaine, in any commoditie for the loue of money, as that Iesus Christ our sauiour died vpon the Crosse for the guilt of our sinnes, and therefore let no man flatter himself with this or that qualification, as why may I not? &c. For no excuse may serue against Gods owne word, no exceptions may be made* against it, for God saith flatly, Thou maist not giue out thy mony vppon vsu∣rie, nor take any interest: for if thou do∣est, there is no place for thée in the Ta∣bernacle Page [unnumbered] of God, neyther shalt thou rest vpon his holie hill, and therefore neuer excuse the matter for lucres sake. Damn not thine owne soule for money: sel not thy birth-right for a messe of pottage: for wel maist thou by pretences shift out the matter from the punishment of man, but al is no better than fig-leaues to couer thy nakednesse when God shall call thée to accompt.
Againe, though these Shéepeheards shewed themselues maruelous forward, yet you sée, that after they had found that they did desire, they had their flockes to returne to againe, wherein we may be∣hold the great loue of God vnto them, that in those daungerous times their flocks were preserued vnto them, wher∣by wée may learne this generall lesson, that religion rightly vsed is no enimy to* lawful gaine: neither of it selfe doeth it bring vnto man any hindraunce: a doc∣trine that will hardly sincke into the heads of a number, for they perswade themselues, that nothing is more eni∣my to worldly gaine than religion, Page [unnumbered] whom I do briefly answere thus, that if they meane euerie kinde of gaine which way soeuer it be come by, without regard whether it be had by right or wrong, they say truly, that religion is the onely foe (next vnder God) that it hath: and as for such, it is but lost labour to tell them of anie religion, for the feare of God is not before their eies: but if they meane that gaine which may lawfully be got∣ten with the warrant of Gods worde, no point of religion can be against it, for the Lorde (as you haue heard) enioineth such a course to gaine vnto euerie one of his children: whereby it is proued law∣full, and for the fruit of their labour the Lord hath promised that he shal reape it. First séeke the kingdome of God and his* righteousnesse, and al these things shalbe ministred vnto you. Where you sée, that God hath promised his blessing euen in this life to them that be truly religious. But you wil say to me, how is that tru? For we sée in experience the godlie man commeth vnto many extremities. I an∣swere, that religion was neuer the cause Page [unnumbered] of any of them: for you must vnderstand, that God neuer punisheth, but either to correct, to trie, or else to giue example: one whereof is the cause of euerie affli∣ction, and therfore let no man say, if I had not béene a Gospeller, this had not befallen vnto me, or religion is the cause of this miserie. For if he will truly enter into the consideration of the thing by the word of God, he shal find, that God ne∣uer afflicteth any man because he is reli∣gious, contrariwise, wée reade and sée daily by our owne experience, that God seuerely plagueth the lacke or contempt of religion euen in worldly matters, for you shal see some that are so vigilant and careful about their earthly commodities, that they can not affoord themselues any time to refresh their weary bodies with sléepe and food, nor the Lord anie part of his Sabaoths to be duly honored in, that a man woulde thinke they can not choose but prooue marueilous rich, and yet not∣withstanding they are neuer the néerer: & why? surely, because they not hauing that care of gods seruice that they shold, Page [unnumbered] nor that regard to depend vpon his bles∣sing that God requireth, but thinke to bring greate matters to passe by their owne industrie, and (as it were) in despite of the Lord: he of his iust iudge∣ment laieth such a curse vppon their la∣bours, that they profite nothing at all: whereby such persons may haue iust occasion to learne, that man liueth not* by bread onely: For the Lord can break the staffe of bread, that is, the strength* thereof, that it shall not nourish: and can frustrate the hope of the labourer, that he shall not reape the fruit of his owne works. And therefore we are first to séeke his glorie, and then in all our trauailes to acknowlege them to be vn∣fit to yéelde vs any comfort without his gratious blessing be vpon the same.
Glorifying and praising God] The se∣cond point of this last branch, is, that they did in and after their returne glori∣fie and praise the Lord. Wherein they shewed them selues not to be forgetfull or vnthankefull of Gods mercie toward them, by whose example we may learne Page [unnumbered] what duetie we owe vnto the Lorde our God in respect of his manifold blessings, that we must glorifie his holy name con∣tinually for them: which lesson we had verie much néede to obserue and folowe: for it is the course of the worlde now a∣daies to be thankefull vnto God, as they are to men, with a worde and away, neuer remembring him any more: But we are to know, that God will not be so serued: he requireth continuall and heartie thankes at our handes: which, if we would rightly consider, we shoulde not generally be so secure as we be. For time (which should teach vs experience of the loue of God towardes vs▪ and so make vs more zealous) doeth cleane weare out of our mindes the remem∣braunce of former benefites receiued, so that you shall sée them that by special fa∣uor that they haue found at Gods hands, are (for a season) excéeding hote and for∣ward in religion: But it is with them according to the common Prouerb, soone hote, soone colde, for they become after∣ward so faint and cold in their course be∣gunne, Page [unnumbered] that it may be truly said of them, as it was of the Church Ephesus, that haue fallen from their first loue. I wold to God, that I had not iuste cause to make this complaint in this place, for surely (to speake generally) I haue séene more zeale, more loue and care vnto re∣ligion than nowe I can beholde: the world doth so carie men awaie, and they be so crammed with the word, that now they be ready to surfet of it: they be cloied with it, & séeme to loath it, as the Israe∣lites did that heauēly Manna: but assure* your selues, that if the plentie thereof do make you estéeme it lesse precious, God will send you that darth & famine that he threatneth by the Prophet, that yée shall séeke it from sea to sea, and not finde it.
Moreouer, in that these are saide to haue this wroght in them by the vnder∣standing of the thing, that they glorifi∣ed* and praised God, we learne, that where religion is truly imbraced▪ where the word of God taketh root & true holde, it wil bring foorth the fruit conuenient & agréeable to the same: for of it selfe it is Page [unnumbered] a most liuely séede, & is mightie in opera∣tion: so when it méeteth with a heart that is pliant therevnto, it is verie for∣cible, and therefore let no man flatter & deceiue himself by perswading his own hart, that he is truly religious, when in the meane while he is cold and carelesse in the fruits of it: for Gods spirit accom∣panieth religion, which is a spirite of heate and zeale making mans heart (as it were) to melt at those things y• are for the glorie of God, & encrease of true reli∣gion in the harts of Gods people, which ought to be farre more glittering in vs, than it was in the shéepeheards, for wée haue greater cause: the whole passion, death, & glorificatiō of Christ is manife∣sted vnto vs, so that we lacke nothing to perfect our knowlege (if we will receiue it) & therfore there must be no lingering in vs, to shew forth al y• praises of god in most perfectiō, which we do litle regard.
For al that they had heard and seene, as it was spoken vnto them) The third and last point of all, which is the cause that mooued them to reioice and Page [unnumbered] praise the Lord euen the things that they had heard and seene, by whom we must learne the last (but not the least duetie) that we owe vnto God, euen continual∣ly to recount, ponder, and consider the manifold blessings that the Lorde doeth multiplie vpon vs daily by the iust consi∣deration whereof we cannot choose, but burst out into admiration of his woon∣derfull loue and mercie towards vs mi∣serable and wretched sinners, and so to deuise with our selues howe wée may shewe our selues effectually thankefull: so did the Prophet Dauid. What shal I* render vnto the Lord (saith he) for al his benefites towards me? I wil receiue the cup of saluation, and call vpon the name of the Lord, I will pay my vowes vn∣to the Lord, euen now, in the presence of all his Saints. Whose good and godlie example if we will reape benefite by, we must doe as he did, worship him truely according to his word, and perfourme that dutie in obedience to his commaun∣dements, that he requireth at our hands As for the manner of his praise wée may Page [unnumbered] also learne it by these shéepeheards, that they did it as it was tolde them, that is, according as God had commaunded: so must we do, praise his holie name, (as he requireth at our hands) and doe it as himselfe hath commaunded in his word, and so shall it be acceptable in his sight: Let vs therefore (to conclude) séeing we be hedged in on euerie side with y• great blessings of God, séeing that by him wée liue and moue, and haue our being, sée∣ing he sheweth himselfe most kinde and liberall, both in things that concerne the soule and the bodie: let vs (I say) stu∣die and indeuour by all possible meanes, that so long as we abide in this transito∣rie world, we may shew foorth the glorie of his name according to his will: then shal we be sure of his fauour vnto vs in this life, and of eternall ioies in the world to come, by the merites and blood∣sheding of Iesus Christ our sauiour: to whome with the father and the holie ghost, be all glorie and honour, now and for euer.
Let vs pray,
O Eternall God in Iesus Christ our most louing and mercifull Father, vvee render vnto thy Maiestie most humble and hartie thanks for all thy blessings and mani∣fold benefites bestovved vpon vs, namely, for those inestima∣ble graces of our election, crea∣tion, vocation, iustification, san∣ctification, and redemption: & for this great treasure of thy ho∣lie vvord, vvherein vve acknovv∣ledge thy great loue tovvardes vs vile vvretches and miserable sinners. And for as much (O Lord) as thou hast taught vs at Page [unnumbered] this present, hovve forcible and effectuall thy vvorde vvas vnto the Sheepeherdes, vvorking in them such an ardent and burn∣ing loue to see thy sonne Iesus Christ, vvhen he vvas manife∣sted in the flesh, such forvvard∣nesse and haste to satisfie that godlie desire vvhich thy holie spirit had vvrought in them, & finding that vvhich they soght for, vvere carefull to publish it abroade, that others might be partakers of that comfort, and after returned vnto their voca∣tion againe, glorifying thy ho∣lie name, vvith all obedience vn∣to thy blessed vvorde. And moreouer, bicause vve haue ler∣ned from thee, that the multi∣tude Page [unnumbered] that heard of it, yet shevved not anie zeale or care to see the truth of it themselues, but suffe∣red the cogitation therof to va∣nish out of their mindes, vvith∣out any profit vnto themselues: but contrarivvise, thy seruaunt Marie kept euerie thing in re∣membrance, being carefull by continual pondering thereof in her heart, to make vse of it for her comfort and further instru∣ction. VVe confesse (good fa∣ther) that the example of these parties doth teach vs both the duetie that vve ovve vnto thee, the obedience that thy vvorde requireth at our hands, and the zeale vvhich vvee shoulde ex∣presse in our liues, to set foorth Page [unnumbered] thy glory, and also hovv to shun that carelesse course vvhich the greatest number doth follovve: but (O Lord) vve acknovvlege against our selues, that vvee are not able to thinke a good thought, much lesse to yeelde that obedience to thy vvorde that thou requirest, nor to make anie fruit of it vnto the comfort of our soules, vnlesse thou of thy mercie vvorke it in vs: vvee therefore most humbly beseech thee mercifull father, to graunt vs thy grace, that euerie one of vs may be so truely persvvaded of the trueth of this doctrine, novve deliuered vnto vs, that thy holie spirite may imprint it in our hearts, and vve may feele Page [unnumbered] the comfort of it in our soules and consciences, and labour diligently to bring foorth the fruit of it in our liues and con∣uersations: most gratious Fa∣ther, vve pray thee subdue our affections and rule our desire by the gouernmēt of thy grace and holie spirite that the entice∣ments of sinne doe not pull vs avvay from that seruice that vve ovve vnto thee, that vvee neuer faint or vvaxe vvearie in the course of godlinesse, that our zeale be neuer quenched by a∣nie allurements of Sathan, but that vvee may daily grovve and encrease in all the Vertues of Christianitie to the glorie of thy blessed name and consola∣tions Page [unnumbered] of our ovvne conscien∣ences, through Iesus Christ our Lord: to vvhom vvith thee and the holie Ghost, be all praise▪ novve and euer,