The true remedie against Famine and warres.
Fiue Sermons vpon the firste chapter of the prophesie of Ioel, wherein the Councell that the holy Ghoste gaue the Israelites to redresse the famine which they felt and preuent the warres that were threatened to come vpon them; is applied in particular vnto our present time: Preached in the time of the dearth. 1586.
By Iohn Vdall, preacher of the worde of God at Kingston vpon Thames.
VVherefore vvil ye plead vvith me, ye al haue rebelled against me, saith the lord, I haue smiten your children in vaine, they receiued no correction.
AT LONDON. Printed by Robert Walde-graue, for T. Man, and T. Gubbins.
TO THE RIGHT HONO∣rable, Lord AMBROSE DVDLEY, Earle of Warwicke, Baron Lisle, Master of hir Maiesties Ordinance, Knight of the most no∣ble order of the Garter, and one of hir Highnes priuie Councell: And to the right Honorable, and godly Lady his wife; Iohn Vdall, wisheth in∣crease of all true Honor, and comfort in this life, & euerlasting happines, in that which is to come
IT hath euer bene the na∣turall disposition of man, (right Honourable) in all those miseries that fall v∣pon him, to turne his minde a con∣trary way, and thinke amisse of the cause of his estate and condition, & therevpon to vse such means for the redres thereof, as shal neuer amend, but rather make worse that whiche they would helpe; or if they take in hand any of the wayes that be law∣full, yet it is that which shoulde bee the laste, as their owne pollicie and wisdome, and neuer thinke of their Page [unnumbered] sinnes that haue procured Gods di∣spleasure against them, that they might begin by repentance to seeke reconciliation with him: which pre∣postrous dealing doth not only pos∣sesse the hart of perticular men, but also beareth the swaye (for the most parte) euen in common-wealthes and gouernements. For we see, that when any thing is amis in the same, there is great consultation, and pro∣uident aduising, how things may be redressed: but the wayes that be ta∣ken, are (for the most part) framed in the shop of humane pollicy only, & therefore the effect thereof, is but as the loppinge of some boughes or twigges from the toppe of a tree, after which, it doth rather flowrish the more, then wither away: wher∣as it shoulde bee considered, that all ennormities and disorder doe pro∣ceed from sinne, and euerie breach in a state, from the displeasure of the Page [unnumbered] Lorde for the contempte or neglect of his holy commaundements: and therefore (if euer wee looke to haue our policies prosper) to search more narowly into the wil of God, to the end it may be established with more authority, and practized with more holy obedience; and then shoulde those wise plots, that the guiftes of nature or experience doe teach vs, (when once they com in their place attendinge vppon that Souereigne scepter of Gods most blessed word) receiue a blessinge from the Lorde and haue a good issue, whiche else shall bee as the winde, that beeinge long trauelled of, whē it is brought forth doeth vanishe, as the smoake in the sight of the sunne. This lesson doth the holy Ghoste, (by this his Prophet IOEL) teache vnto vs in his firste chapter, more at large, the doctrine wherof (as neere as I could remember) according as the Lorde Page [unnumbered] did inable me to vtter it, I haue pen∣ned, being drawne thereunto, both by the importunitie of some, whom I might not well denie in so honest a request, as also by the conuenien∣cye of the doctrine, for the instru∣ction of moe then heard it.
Nowe among many other nota∣ble instrumentes, that the Lorde (in his mercie) hath stirred vp, not one∣ly to wishe well vnto, but also to trauayle for the good of that poore people his faythfull seruauntes, a∣mong whom it hath pleased him to place me, not onely I, but they also doe stand bound in dutie (and shall so remaine still) vnto your HH. for that carefull diligence, that it plea∣sed you both to vse, then, to intreat for vs, when (if God had not beene on our side) the floodes of malici∣ous mens practises had runne ouer our heades, to the vtter vndoing of all good beginninges among vs, so Page [unnumbered] that whatsoeuer good it shall please the LORDE to dooe in his Churche by my weake laboures, (wherevnto I thought an ende had beene added) your Honours may iustly bee reputed the instrumentes of the same: In regarde whereof, I (desiringe too haue some oppor∣tunitye, to shewe the thankfulnesse of our hearts) haue especially made choyce of youre Honours, vnto whome I might dedicate these my poore laboures, most humblye in∣treatinge the same, to accept heere∣of, not accordinge to the valewe that it caryeth, (whiche is verye small) but accordinge to the affec∣tion of the giuer, whoe acknowe∣ledging him-selfe (together with that people whiche haue the bene∣fit of my ministery) to be bound to pray vnfeignedly vnto the Lord for your Hh. that it would please him to increase al the graces of his sanc∣tifying Page [unnumbered] spirite vppon the same, to the further aduauncement of his glorie, the greater benefite of hys poore Church, and fuller con∣solation of your owne soules. Sobeit.
Your Hh. most humble to commaund in the Lorde. Iohn Vdall.
IOEL. 1. vers. 1, 2. ¶ The word of the Lord that came to Ioel, the sonne of Pethuel. Heare ye this, O elders, and hearken ye all inhabitants of the land, whether such a thing hath bin in your days, or yet in the dayes of your fathers.
IOEL. 1. vers. 1, 2. ¶ The word of the Lord that came to Ioel, the sonne of Pethuel. Heare ye this, O elders, and hearken ye all inhabitants of the land, whether such a thing hath bin in your days, or yet in the dayes of your fathers.
COncerning the time when this Prophet liued, and prophecied, diuers men haue shewed their diuers iudgements and opini∣ons: whereof, if the best and most probable be receiued, yet it is but a coniecture, and therefore I will leaue it (as doth the holie ghost in this place) vndetermined, and so much the rather, for that the ignoraunce thereof, bringeth neither anie dammage to the truth of the prophesie, nor yet any dark∣nesse vnto the vnderstanding of the same. This onely is to be obserued, that the time when he liued, and the age wherevnto hee did prophesie, had great need of the doctrine which he taught them: for that (as appea∣reth by the course of his wordes) they were growne vnto great extremitie in rebellion against the Lord, and besotted so senslesly in their iniquitie, that albeit the hand of God was heauie vppon them, yet they con∣sidered it not, but to the ende that those on Page [unnumbered] whome God had ordained to bestowe his grace, might be rowzed out of their sleepi∣nesse, and they whom in his heauie and e∣ternal displeasure he had cast off, might be made the more without excuse: the Lorde stirred vp this prophet to speak vnto them, which teacheth vnto vs this doctrine for our instruction, that in those places, and among that people,* where (in any maner) his name is called vpon, the Lord wil euer (in more or lesse measure) make knowne his iudgements for their particular sinnes, and shewe vnto them the way to escape the same, and meanes howe to preuent it: to this end, that when either in any one pri∣uate person, the matter shall be discoursed in the court of his owne conscience, or when the Lord shall call men vnto a recko∣ning, all colour of excuse may be taken a∣way, and their iudgement (if they repent not) may be made vnto them (euen by their owne confession) more iust: for albeit that the verye visible creatures of God, which we dayly see before our eies, and haue (by the blessing of God) from time to time to attend vppon vs, and minister vnto our se∣ueral necessities, are sufficient to teach vs, so much of the wisedome and knowledge of Page 2 God, as to make vs excuselesse: yet when God ••all go thus far with vs, as to speake vnto vs out of his holie worde, to teach vs, not onelie in generall, what he required at our handes, but in particular also, to con∣uict vs of the sinnes that wee stand guiltie of before his maiestie, and to shewe vs both the meanes howe to be ridde of them, and to do the things that he commandeth: when (I say) the Lorde shall go thus farre with vs, if then we turne not vnto him, in forsaking the waies of wickednes, and sub∣mitting our selues to the rule and gouern∣ment of his blessed worde, our excuse being (euen in our owne iudgement) lesse, our iudgement must needs be the more heauy. Nowe euery one of vs must applie this to our owne hearts, and make it a particu∣lar doctrine for our seuerall instructions, seeing that God (in most plentifull ma∣ner) hath shewed vnto vs this vnspeakeable mercie and grace, as to teach vs from time to time the waies that we are to walke in, which if we doe not, we make our selues guilty of our iudgement aboue thē of So∣dom, and bring our selues into a more miserable condition than they of Gomor∣rah?
Page [unnumbered]Now, to shew you ye cause, of this change of my course, in leauing of our ordinary por∣ti•ns of scripture, & taking this in hand, it is briefely this: as all scripture doth at all times belong to gods church, good is to be taught therin: so are there some parts ther∣of that do more properly belong vnto some times,* places, & persons: Now for so much as that time, & this, wherein wee presently do liue, being compared togither, are found to bee (in euery respect) very like the one to the other, I think the doctrine that then fit∣ted them, to be very necessary for vs, vpon ye like occasion, for as the hand of God was vpon them in the want of bread, so (though not in the like measure) is it vpō vs: as they had little sence, or feeling therof, to acknow¦ledge it, the punishmēt of god vpon thē for their sins, but ascribed it to other causes, so do we, imputing it, some to the hardnes of wise mens hearts, some to the the euery of transporting, and some to the vnseasonable times,* but few look into themselues, & their sins, that procure the Lord to turn ye hearts of men, & the benefit of heauen & earth from vs: as the Lord hauing sent famine, which preuailed not with them, to their conuersi∣on, did threaten to send a more violent and Page 3 forcible rod, the inuasion of strangers vpon ye land: so doth hee by many warnings & to∣kens threaten the same vnto vs, & (lastly) as the Lord prescribed vnto them, if euer they looked to haue his iudgements present, re∣moued, or those yt hanged ouer their heads, turned away, they must meet the Lord, and preuent his wrath, by fasting and praier, which might be as means to bring them to the true humiliation of their soules: so we, that by the same sins, are punished, & threat¦ned in the same maner, by the hand & rod of the same ielous God, if euer we look to be reduced soundlye againe into his fauour, must take the same course, that hee (which did knowe the best waye) prescribed vnto them.
The word of the Lord.) Before that the holy Ghost setteth downe vnto vs the mat∣ter of hys prophesie, he first of all speaketh of the party, that was sent to doe thys mes∣sage, and the Author from whome it was addressed, conteyned in the first verse: wher∣in, hee describing the Ambassadour that GOD, did send, doth not shewe hys pede∣gree, from anye notable, and famous man in Israell, nor of what Tribe hee was, whether he was of the ordinary ministers Page [unnumbered] of the order of Leui, or of some other fami∣lie, raised vp extraordinarylie from God, wythout the calling of men: the which, (though it be so) bringeth no doubt either of the doctrine to be deliuered, or of the party by whom it is to be made knowen. For as concerning the doctrine, albeit it be euery way authenticall (that is, of suffici∣ent authoritie in it selfe) yet when wee looke into the matters for which this pro∣phet is alleadged, in the new Testament we shall see, that with the Lord it is of so∣ueraigne account, being made (as it were) the vmpare of so great matters: for it is not only alleadged by the apostle a Peter in the defence of the disciples accused to be full of new wine, and the myracle of di∣uers toongs bestowed vppon them: but al∣so in that graue and waightie disputation of the calling of the Gentiles, the apostle bPaule doth alleadge it, as a testimonie of most euident truth to cleare the matter in hand, and as concerning the partie, the lad (no doubt) of speciall purpose, passeth him ouer with few wordes, not so careful∣ly describing his slocke, as often he doeth in others of the Prophets, to the ende, that the matter wherof he was to speake, being Page 4 of so great importance they might regarde and respect it, and not the party by whom it was to be vttered: which thing is also vnto vs worthy the consideration, to teach vs that wee maye not hang the credite or truth of the worde of God,* on the sleeue of him that vttereth it, but to receiue and im∣brace it (as it is indeede) for the worde of God whatsoeuer hee bee that speaketh it: whereby I doe not meane that wee are in∣differently, and with the like affection to heare him that sinisterly, or of a sinister purpose preacheth the word, and him also that sincerely, and with a sincere cōscience deliuereth it, but for the thing it selfe, to esteeme of it as it is, in what vessell soeuer it be carried, and yet to desire, and (by al meanes) to labour that wee may receiue it in a vessell fit and worthy (as neare as can be) so pretious treasure: the which may be made more euident by a comparison from the body to the soule, and from the food of the bodie to the foode of the soule: for as meate is stil the creature of God, ordained for the nourishing of mans bodie whatsoe∣uer it be, dressed and made ready by a neate and cleanlie cooke, or by him that doeth handle it sluttishly and vnhansomly: so is Page [unnumbered] the worde of God, being ordained for the feeding of the soule, still to be esteemed the same in it selfe, whatsoeuer he be that dispenseth it vnto vs, but as there is no man that hath care of the health of his bo∣dy, that will haue his meate dressed (if he can choose) by him that either for want of skill can not, or of curious vanitie will not vse it as hee should, least by the raw∣nesse thereof, or by some euil and vnwhol∣some mixture, it bring poison in stead of nourishment, euen so, no man that hath care in deede of his owne soule, will com∣mit it indifferentlie (without any choice) to the riffe-raffe, and common sorte of Popish priests, but to such a one, as both for knowledge is able, and willingnes wil be careful to diuide vnto him the worde of God aright, and giue him his portion in due season.
The word of the Lord that came vnto Ioel, that is, ye doctrine which is to be deliuered, is that which God determining to make knowen vnto the people of Israel, did first reueale vnto his seruāt Ioel, that he might speake it vnto them, which wordes beeing diligently marked, doe affoorde vnto vs di∣uers doctrines for our instruction, the first Page 5 is that, wherein the calling of the prophet is prooued both vnto his owne conscience, and also to the people: to his owne consci∣ence thus, that when hee should enter into the triall of himselfe,* and into the conside∣ration of his estate, and seeing his course to be such as fewe woulde like of, yet this might be his comfort, the Lord had set him aworke: & surely this is a thing most need∣ful to be examined & considered of, in these our dayes of the ministers of God, not on∣lie in generall in respect of their calling, and the manner of their dealing in it, that is almost euery where gainesaid, but espe∣cially in those particular things, for which they are often called into question, cōdem∣ned, and (as malefactors) punished by the worldlings that vsurpe vpon them: for as on the one side, if we shall take that course which is displesant vnto God, and wherby wee doe also come into disgrace with men, our estate is most wretched & miserable, so on the other side, if we do nothing but that which is come vnto vs by the worde of the Lorde, that is inioyned vs from God that hath placed vs in our calling, though the world think hardly of vs for it, & we suffer ignominie, losse, and smarte because of it, Page [unnumbered] yea, though it bring tediousnesse vnto our owne flesh, and wearisomnesse to our spi∣rits, yet this shall be vnto vs as an inuin∣cible fortresse, as a brazen wall against our aduersaries, and as a thousand witnesses to testifie with vs, and giue vs comfort in the middest of all extremities. Againe, the calling of the prophet is approoued by the fame (euen) vnto men, for, if they shoulde haue denied yt which he spake to be true, or him to be the prophet of God, he had wher∣with to answer & conuince them in both re∣spects: in the first, that that which he said must needes be true, for that it came from God: on the behalfe of the second, that he was the prophet of God, for that the word came not in generall to all, or to many, but particularly to him, for that he was furni∣shed, and euery way inabled, not onelie in the vnderstanding of that which hee was to deliuer, but also in his owne conscience perswaded to be the man, forsomuch as GOD, sending the message vnto him, did thereby assure him, that he had alotted, and called him to that function. Which if we marke it well, and gather a generall doc∣trine for our instruction out of it, doeth teach vs how to knowe the most reall and Page 6 essentiall markes of those whome wee are to esteeme the messengers of God sent vn∣to vs:* for if it be true that God sendeth first his word vnto him (that is, furnisheth him with knowledge of his wil, and care to ad∣uance his glorie in the deliuerance of it vn∣to his people) then must it needes follow, that they who by reason of lacke of know∣ledge, diligently imploy themselues (in an ordinarie and lawfull calling, to breake vnto the people of GOD the bread of life, and train them vp to the knowledge of the gospell, were neuer sent of God into that place, and therefore are not (of his people) to bee receiued & esteemed as ambassadors from his maiestie, but as wolues bursting in, and rauenners sent of Satan to the kee∣ping from them the kay of knowledge, and so fore-closing vnto them (as much as in them lieth) the passage and entry into the kingdome of heauen, for Gods people (who are to think as the Lord hath taught them in his word) must acknowlege and receiue (onely them that are found to be qualified with the giftes of his ministers, the first wherof is euery where in the word of god) saide to be the gift of teaching, the know∣ledge of his mysteries, which caused the Page [unnumbered] Lord (before he sent the prophet aEzech. to preach vnto his people, & denounce those iudgementes that he meant to inflict vpon them) to shew to him a booke, & command him to eat it, which signified, ye knowlege & present readines that he should haue in exe∣cuting his office: it is alwaies said, ye word of the Lord came to ye prophets: our sauior christ saith, that b a Scribe taught vnto ye law, must be as one that bringeth out of his tresury old & new, & S. Paul describeth a B. (by which he meaneth euery Minister of ye gospel) that he c must be apt to teach & cō∣uince the gainsaier: but I wil not stand on this point that is so clear (to thē that haue eies) as the sunne at noone-daye. Euerie man will confesse, that no earthlie prince will send an ambassador that wanteth ey∣ther knowledge or vtterance to deliuer his message, & is not God far wiser than men?
Againe, in that it is said, The word of the Lord came vnto Ioel, we must note to what ende it was, namely, as followeth in hys practise, that he might make it known vn∣to the elders of the land, which is to be noted, for many there be in the world, who (if they haue any more vnderstanding than the common sort haue) do by & by persuade Page 7 thēselues that they are (as they are termed) learned ministers, albeit they haue neither vtterāce to deliuer that which they know, neither (if they haue any gift that way) yet make smal cōscience whether they imploy themselues in painfull preaching or no: the end for which ye word came to Ioel,* condē∣neth both the sorts of thē. For the first we must note, that ye holy ghost when he requi∣reth of a Minister, to be apte to teach, wee must not thinke, that he meaneth him that hath it within him, & is as a tub without any vent, for that is but as a candle ligh∣ted, & after couered with a bushell, but he meaneth him that is so prepared and fur∣nished thervnto, that he is also set on work in the same: and therefore it is, that the prophet Esay saith a that God had geuen vnto him a learned toong, that hee might know to minister the word in time to him that is weary: & the apostls in their praier intreated God for ye gift ofb vtterance: & for the second it is clear as the sun, that he who (hauing all the gifts that may furnish a Minister vnto his calling) laboreth not painefully wyth them to teach others, de∣nieth the end for which he is placed there, which is cto preach in season & out of seson, Page [unnumbered] to teach, impro•ue, exhort, and comfort with all continuaunce, and long-suffering to lift vppe his a voice like a trumpet, to bwatch dayly, and shew the comming of the enimy: to conclude, to deliuer c all the councell of God, so farre as hee hath recei∣ued, and to d teach his people to obserue whatsoeuer Christ hath commaunded, and therefore lette a man haue neuer so muche knowledge, and imploye it not painefully herevnto, though hee bragge of his suffici∣encie neuer so muche, and his people or worldly friendes enroll him neuer so high in the catalogue of learned Ministers, the holie-ghost wil take him downe, and place him in his proper standing, that is, in the rank of thosee dumbe dogges, and idoll sheepeheards that the Lord by his prophet condemneth. Moreouer, in that it is said, that this word of the Lord was vnto Ioel, before it came to the people, we learne an∣other lesson for our instruction, which is, that as the Lorde meant, that this worde shoulde be common vnto all Israell, yet sent it first to his prophet, that by his mini∣sterie they might be taught it, so doeth hee euer (in that ordinarie waie which hee in his word hath commended and commaun∣ded Page 8 vnto vs) deale with his people, that is, bring them to the knowledge of his worde by the ministerie of men, to the ende,* that wee may learne (if wee bee willing to let God be our teacher) to submit our selues vnto that his ordinance, and by such means as he hath and doth out of the same daylye affoorde vnto vs, to begge and expect the blessing of knowledge, and the graces that accompany the same from his hāds: which doctrine is very needfull to be learned, for we see that men waxe so wise in their own conceit, that for the knowledge of the way to heauen, they thinke (as their practise declareth) to finde out a better waye, and make it a shorter cut than GOD hath ap∣pointed: for whereas God hath ordayned the preaching ministerie of his worde to be dayly sounding in his church, to bring men vnto knowledge, and by knowledge vnto faith, and so to saluation, it is come now to passe, that (the most men thinke that waie not so needfull, but as an indifferent thing to be attended vppon, or to be refused at their pleasure, and therefore doe betake themselues, either to such a sheepeheard, as shal keepe them in ignoraunce (for that he cannot open vnto them the Scriptures) Page [unnumbered] al the daies of their liues, and thinke their estate better then theirs that bee dailie in∣structed, or els they perswade them selues, that they can come to knowledge sufficient by their owne priuate reading, and so con∣temne, or accoūt it too base a matter to be a scholer to preching, but if they had learned that the gouernour of Queene Candares, was as wise as they, and yet confessed that he could a not vnderstand that which he read, without a guide, if they could be per∣swaded, that God is wiser then they, and yet he hath ordeined ytb foolishnes of pre∣ching, (as wordlinges account it) to saue them that beleeue: they were come so farre as to thinke, that the blessing of God is ty∣ed vnto his owne ordinance, and his cursse vpon them, & all their doings, that swarue from the rule of his commandements, they would be a great deale more carefull, to let him bee their counseller, and his woorde their instructour in this point, but the c GOD of this world hath so blinded their eies, that they beleeue not the word of the Lord to be true, and therefore no marueile, if they yeelde no obedience therevnto: but let vs that haue learned otherwise, take heed that their example draw vs not away, Page 9 but that we with feare and reuerence, sub∣mit our selues vnto the ordinances of gods woorde, knowing that by it wee shalbe a iudged at the day of reckoning: Lastlie, in that it is said, that the woord of the Lorde came vnto him saying, Heare, &c.) Wee may obserue what it was that he deliuered vnto them, to wit,* that which he had recei∣ued, the word of the Lord, whereby is sette downe vnto vs the dutie of euerie faithfull Minister of God, which is to keepe him∣selfe vnto the contents of his commission with all faithfulnesse, neither declineth to the right hand, nor the left, neither dy∣minishing anye thing there-from, nor ad∣ding anie thing therevnto, but teaching all that which God hath put into his mouth, and no more, which is diligentlie to be ob∣serued, and carefullie to bee looked vnto, because there is (often) greate faulte com∣mitted heerein on both sides, for some are verie willing to deliuer, or haue deliue∣red vnto the people, some of the woorde of GOD, but if there be anie thing, that maye offend, or bring anie daunger vn∣to the parties, they thinke that in anye case, that should not bee medled wythall, affirming, that other thinges are more Page [unnumbered] necessarie, and that they belong not so much (as they perswade them selues) vn∣to the auditorie which in some things may after a sorte bee true, for albeit the know∣ledge of the woorde of GOD, and eue∣rie part thereof, belongeth vnto euerye member of his Church, in respect of the doctrine therein conteined, yet there is some place and time, wherein the Mini∣ster of GOD, is not bounde to speake some thinges conteyned directlie in hys commission: as for example, to make choice of a text to preach vpon vnto a country peo∣ple, that teacheth the dutie of kings, & out of the same to deliuer onelie that doctrine, is not conuenient: howe then is it, and af∣ter what sort muste wee deliuer all that we knowe? Surely thus: we proceeding in an ordinarie course, and comminge by or∣der of the text vnto places of Scriptures, that conteine the duties of those that hear vs not, yet are we bound to deliuer herein, al the councell of God: but you wil say vn∣to me, those matters (not belonging vnto your people) you are to passe ouer and to teach that which is more necessarie. I an∣swere: that so should I betraye that worde that God hath put into my hande. For al∣beit Page 10 the practize of a Kinges office belon∣geth not vnto the ploughman, yet the doc∣trine is needfull for him to know. For see∣ing the Lorde will be praysed for the bles∣sing that wee reape by good and vertuous rulers, and praied vnto for the amendment of them that bee euill, howe shall this bee perfourmed of him that hath not beene taught it out of the woord. For God ac∣cepteth no praises, neither heareth anye praiers, which are offered vnto him with∣out faith and nothing is doone in faith, but that which is grounded vppon knowledge: the like is to bee sayde of the corruptions, and wants that are from time to time de∣scried to bee in the Church, for the attai∣ning of the amendment whereof, the prai∣er of the faithfull, is verie forcible in the presence of GOD: and so of all other thinges, what soeuer concerneth the good or hurt of the whole Church of God, or anie member of the same: (though it bee not for euerie one to practise) is to be taught by the Minister of GOD, vn∣to the Church, and learned of euerie hea∣rer, that hee may giue GOD hys due praise for the one, and entreat his fauour for the other.
Page [unnumbered]But the Minister of God, which labou∣reth to do that which shalbe foūd vnblame∣able, will both deliuer without feare, (as God offereth conuenient oportunitie)a all the counsel of God, and also, (knowing the fountaine of knowledge and wisedome, to bee infinitelie deepe in the woorde of God, and past drying vp, and him selfe neither to haue receiued anie thing els in commission nor to haue anie promise of blessing vpon a∣nie other course) will keepe him selfe from time to time, within the boundes of the same, for euery thing that he shall deliuer vnto the people of God.
Heare ye this) the calling of the prophet being confirmed, and the manner how hee was furnished, being laid down vnto vs, it remaineth that we come to the words that he vttered vnto them, wherein (before we come to the matter) hee exh••teth them to attendaunce, and diligently to listen to that which he was to speake vnto them: as if he should haue said, seing that I am sent from God, and furnished with the knowledge o• his word, to the end that by my meanes you may be instructed from him in that whic• he would haue you to knowe & put in prac∣tise, it behooueth therfore that euery one o•Page 11 you, from the highest to the lowest, not one∣ly the rulers & auncients of this land, but also all that dwell therein, doe carefullie and with all reuerence harken vnto and re∣ceiue, that which I am to deliuer vnto you: this being the summe of his entrance, it remayneth that wee consider more at large, the particular duties that are to bee learned out of the same. First, let vs note:* how and vppon what cause, this exhortati∣on is vttered, (for no man will be perswa∣ded to harken vnto a thing, but being indu∣ced therevnto by some reason rather) and if you marke well, you shall see that it is inferred vpon the words of the former vers, as if hee shoulde saye vnto them on this wise, the Lorde hath ordeined me his mes∣senger, and giuen me a message, to deliuer vno you, and therefore it is meete, that with all carefulnesse, you hearken vnto the same, and (if it bee ryghtlie conside∣red) it is a most forcible reason, for see∣ing that the LORD is hee by whome a wee haue our beeing, to whose glorie bwe are created, and from whome wec receiue euerie good thing, there is great re∣son that when he speaketh, wee should laie our hands vpon our mouthes, & with all re∣uerence Page [unnumbered] receue that which he wil vtter: but how soeuer, men in general termes, wil ac∣knowledge that it should bee so, yet indeed, when we come to the trial of ye generall, by his particulars, we shall finde ye very few do beleue yt it should be so: or if the tree be kno∣en by his fruit, a then this perswasion is seen to rest in the harts of a very few. For albeit many are found, that with their out∣ward appearance, seem to be thus affected, yet, few are foūd, that learn this word with any loue, or reforme their liues after ye rule of the same with any care or endeuor. Now can wee thinke, that they beleeue it to bee gods word, or the messenger thereof to bee sent from God, which despise the particu∣lars, that bee taught vnto them out of the same, and care not a iote for any obedience therevnto; no, it is vnpossible for if euer it entred into their minds, that it were a mes∣sage from God in deed, then wold they also be perswaded, that the contempt & disobe∣dience therevnto, were great & heinous of∣fences against his glorious maiestie, which he would neuer leaue vnreuenged, & so (if not for loue of virtue, yet for very feare of punishment) they would not goe on in such mōstrous disobediēce as they do. And ther∣fore Page 12 let euerye one of vs make triall of our selues by this,* how surely we are persuaded in our harts yt it is the word of God, which is euen in so much measure, as we careful∣ly yeeld obedience therevnto, & no more. A∣gain, we se how the prophet nameth first of al the elders, wherby he meneth those, that were assistant vnto the priests in ye gouern¦ment of the church, who are so called, for yt they were (cōmonly) before they were acoū∣ted fit for that place, men of ancient yeeres, & of gret grauity among the people, now he spake first vnto them, because yt they being by reason of their authority, and persons of great regard among the people (& therfore easily drawing after thē the greater num∣ber) yelding obedience,* might bee forcible meanes to bring on others, or refusing to harkē, might lead many with thē to disobe∣dience: the holy ghost thought it meet, that his prophet shold be al first with them: wher¦by we haue to learne this lesson for our in∣struction, that it behoueth thē whome God hath placed in authority, either in ye church, or common-weale, to be very carefull and take especiall heede that they (yeelding o∣bedience to the voyce of GOD by hys prophet, in this place) doe carefully harken Page [unnumbered] vnto the woorde of God, and in their liues (as they bee placed aboue others) giue no example for them to follow, but that which is good and holie, and (if they would well consider of it) they should see that there is great cause that they should doe so, for as the great Cedars in Libanon, while they staied, are a defence vnto manie shrubbes and bushes vnder them, but if they fall, they crush all that be within their reache, euen so, they that are of higher estate and calling, while they continue in the feare of God, & the waies of holines, are as props and staies vnto many that look vpon them, and great meanes to drawe others on by their authoritie & example, but when they fal and giue them selues vnto the waies of sinne and wickednes, they go not that waie alone, but are an occasion of falling vnto manie others besides of their inferiours, and followers, nowe albeit it be true that (because one man sinneth willingly) thea soule that sinneth shall die, yet shall their bloude bee required at the handes of all them, that haue not doone their dutie to bring them to GOD, but being meanes to driue them from hym, if wee could bee perswaded of the trueth of thys, O Page 13 what care it would woorke in the heartes of euery one in his calling, it would make the princes of this worlde,* and all the ru∣lers put in authoritie to reason thus with thēselues, is it true that I haue a share in ye actions of euery one that is vnder my iu∣risdiction, either in his goodnes (if by my authoritie & good example hee be brought thervnto) or in his wickednes, if I gouern him not aright, or giue him in my life any other example than that which is good and lawful: then surely haue I great neede to looke narrowly vnto my own ways, & stu∣die carefully howe I may be vnto all that cast their eies vppon mee, a president and patterne of all vertue and godlinesse, then woulde the Minister that hath charge of mens soules reason thus with himselfe: so would the maister of familie, the father of children, and in a worde, all of any superi∣our estate would make this vse of it.* But alas, it is cleane contrary, for almost euery man looketh vppon the pleasure, ease, and gaine, that may be had in his calling, and followeth after that to the vttermost, not respecting what offence he giue either vn∣to God or man, but fewe are found in any estate whatsoeuer, that duly enter into the Page [unnumbered] meditation aforesaide: and yet howsoeuer this is followed after, and the other not regarded, sure it is, that the former is that which GOD looketh for at our handes, and (which he teacheth vs in this place) and the latter is that whiche shall most seuerely be punished. Moreo∣uer, the Prophet hauing spoken vnto the elders, thereby assuring them, that the matter concerneth them in priuate, least either they or the rest of the people shoulde thinke, that it shoulde stretch no further, he also calleth vppon all the inhabitants of the land, of what condition soeuer they be, to the end, that the iudgements that were to be denounced, lessons that were to bee taught, & persuasions (for their own good) to be inforced, might be known aforehand to appertaine vnto them all. Which teach∣eth vnto vs thus much for our instruction, that the worde of GOD (forsomuch as it proceedeth from that GOD who requi∣reth obedience of all, ministreth instructi∣on needefull for al, and offereth those bene∣fites that euery man persuadeth hym selfe to haue portion in) is not to bee restrained vnto anie one kinde of people, and thought not to belong vnto some others, but is to Page 14 be heard, learned, beleeued, and practised of all: for if that be true, that a wythout faith it is not possible to please God, and that also, that b none can beleeue wyth∣out hearing of the word preached (for that by the same is knowledge, the ground-worke of faith begotten in the heart of man) and that hee that beleeueth not c hath not the Sonne, that is, no part of re∣demption purchased by Iesus Christ the Sonne of God, it must needes follow, that if euer we looke to please God in this life, or to inherit the kingdome of heauen after this life, wee must most carefully (of what estate soeuer wee bee) indeuour our selues to vse those meanes (which GOD hath ordained therevnto) that may daylie increase and confirme knowledge in our hearts. If wee were persuaded of this, it woulde make the word of GOD to be of more price wyth vs than it is, and pro∣uoke vs more carefullye to seeke after it than wee doo: then shoulde not the neg∣lect and contempt of so precious and in∣estimable a Treasure, so generallye ouerspread the face of this lande, as it doeth. But lette vs, whome it pleaseth GOD to teach these thinges, labour, Page [unnumbered] to make right vse of them. For our con∣tinuall instruction and comforte wee haue yet to obserue an other thing in the maner of the Prophets speach, which is, that whereas he might haue spoken indefinite∣ly vnto the inhabitants of the land, which indeede comprehendeth the elders also, hee speaketh distinctly vnto the elders, and then vnto the inhabitants, as if he should say, hearken, both you to whom God hath giuen greatest measure of his graces, and so are aduanced vnto the place of gouern∣ment, and also you who haue obteined lesse, and therefore liue in meaner condition: that is, lette neither the knowledge or au∣thoritie of the elders, keepe them from the hearing this word of God, nor meane e∣state or calling driue away the inferiour, but let euery one of euery condition hear∣ken: in the manner of which speache, the prophet seemeth, as it were of set purpose, to take away the excuse, that they might alleadge to keepe them away,* first from the elders, and then from the people, from the elders thus. It might be (if he had spo∣ken indefinitly) that the elders might haue refused to heare, saying thus: God will haue his word heard, but of whome, euen Page 15 them that are ignorant and neede instru∣ction, but as for vs wee are learned, and knowe as muche of the worde as the prea∣cher can tell vs: or, we haue busines about our offices and calling, that we cannot at∣tend to heare him, wee will doe it when o∣ther things are dispatched: no doubt, if the elders were of that mind, wherof the grea∣test part of superiors be among vs, they would quickly alleage such things for thē∣selues that they might be exempted from hearing:* for it is a common thing nowe adaies, that if a man haue in his owne opi∣nion, any smattering in learning, that hee be able in anie sort to speake of the princi∣ples of the humane artes, hee is by and by puffed vp with such a pride in himselfe by the ouerweening of his owne gifts, that he disdaineth to submitte himselfe to the or∣dinaunce of GOD for any instruction, not onelie refusing to be instructed by the same, but persuadyng hymselfe (the spirite of pride possessing his heart) that he can learne as much, yea farre more by his owne priuate studie, in so much that hee accounteth hymselfe abused if hee shoulde be thought so meane, as that hee coulde learne any thing at sermons, and therfore Page [unnumbered] doth he vsually absent himselfe: or if it hap∣pen that he come nowe and then dropping in, is it, think you, wyth reuerent prepara∣tion of his heart to receiue, & humble sub∣mission of his affections to be informed by the Lordes message? Nothing lesse: but that he may sit there as a iudge, to censure whatsoeuer shall be spoken, to approoue or disproue whatsoeuer his humor leadeth him vnto, and so in deede to set him selfe against the Lords ordinaunce, to disgrace it, neuer giuing any more reuerence vnto the worde of God there deliuered, than the man that speaketh, carieth opinion of lear∣ning in his foolish conceit: and this is (in very deed) no lesse than to iudge euen the Lorde, as many doe vse it, and to set him to schoole: but when the wisedome of suche men shall be founde more perfite than the Lordes, then shall they haue part in the benefite brought vnto vs by that woorde which they make so small account of: on the other side, if we be called vnto office, be it neuer so meane and easily performed, it is as common with the most to make that a sufficient excuse to keep them from the hearing of the worde of GOD,* and if they can alleage, that they haue such and Page 16 suche affaires of the common-wealth, to bee imployed about (albeit it bee often∣times nothing so) they doe thinke them∣selues excused sufficientlye, both before GOD and man, in so much, that it is a rare thing of all other men, to see magi∣strates be ordinarie hearers of the word: but if they had either anie care to dis∣charge their dueties with a good consci∣ence, or anye religion in their heartes at all (which maketh men to thinke reue∣rently of the woorde) they woulde saye with themselues, howe can wee thinke, that anye thing wee take in hande shall prosper, seeing wee haue no more care to heare the voice of GOD: if good successe depende vppon GODS blessing vnto that course which he hath commaunded, then must wee first a seeke the king∣dome of GOD, and his righteousnes: but whilest these thinges are not thought vppon, and so the woorde of GOD (e∣uen at their doores) neglected, and not hearkened vnto, it commeth to passe, by the iust iudgement of GOD, vpon that preposterous dealing, that little, or no good at all is doone, by the authoritie and gouernment of the most: but contrariwise, Page [unnumbered] they being great, and despising of instru∣ction, become (often) the most notorious enimies vnto religion in the places where they dwell: not wythout speciall reason therefore, doth the Prophet speake to the elders by name, least they shoulde finde some hole to creepe out at, and think them selues exempted. Againe, hee seemeth to take away excuse from the people,* in that hee nameth them apart, after he had cal∣led vpon the elders, for (if they were of the minde of the common sorte in our time) they woulde quickly haue saide for them∣selues, wee are vnlearned, the woorde of God is a mystery that exceedeth our capa∣citie, and wee are meane men that haue i∣nough to do in our calling, we can spare no time therevnto, wee are not bookish, and therefore hee dooth not meane vs, but our rulers, and them that bee learned, that are able to vnderstand him. The Prophet therfore in the maner of his speaking doth preuent such obiections, and teacheth vs, that euen the simplest and vnlearnedst is to be taught out of the worde of God, and not to refuse it because he lacketh lerning, but rather to be more desirous of it: for it is the onely treasurie of all true and hea∣uenly Page 17 learning, and it is so tempered by the holie-ghost, who indited it, that (vnles hee bee a foole that hath it in handling) it speaketh to the vnderstanding of the most ignorant and simplest of al other, I meane of them that be the children of: God, and are sealed by his spirite, for else it is too profound, and passeth the capacitie of the learnedst clearks in the worlde, which are (in Gods iust iudgement) cast off: which caused our sauiour Christ a to praise hys father, who had kept the secrets of the gos∣pell from the wise and prudent, and reuea∣led them vnto habes, and therefore •nles thou thinke thy selfe too meane to desire to bee saued, neuer make thy selfe too simple to keepe thy selfe from the knowledge of the worde of God.
Whether such a thing) the Prophet ha∣uing shewed vnto whom this his commis∣sion is to be made knowen,* he nowe ente∣reth into an admiration of the matter, be∣fore he speake it: and all to the ende that the people might be affected with ye grea∣ter expectation of some strange and vnac∣customed matter: for the matter beeyng extraordinarie, it behooueth them that will rightly profit by it to be mooued with Page [unnumbered] extraordinarie affections. Now albeit the workes of God, euen in the course of the same, and moouing of the planets: yea, to the order of nature in euery thing, bee in themselues straunge and woonderfull, yet for so much as wee are daily vsed vnto them, and costome hath made them fa∣miliar vnto vs• the viewe of them doe not make so deepe impression in our heartes, 〈◊〉 that which commeth seldome, though it be of his owne nature not of the like importaunce dooth strike vs with grea∣ter consideration: therefore is it that the Prophet saith, that the matter is so 〈◊〉, that neyther they nor their fathers haue heard of ye like: so that by this manner of speache hee setteth before our eies, first himself for an example of a faith∣full Minister of GOD,* who is to labour by all meanes, to affect the heartes of the people with the fence and feling of the do∣ctrine that they teach, and not to passe it ouer (as the greatest number doe) with a 〈◊〉, regarding rather howe to shewe themselues learned, than to bring the people to feeling, by their patheticall and powerfull persuasions. Againe, in that they had felt the thing (especiallye Page 18 the first punishment of Famine) and yet had not laid it to heart, nor beene affected there wythall: but in a certayne sleepie se∣curitie had passed it ouer; not vsing it as a meanes to drawe them vnto anie further consideration of their sinnes, and the hor∣rour of them before the Maiestie of God, that they might learne them, his manner of speach dooth the more reprooue them, and conuince them of the greater hardnes of heart, and setlednesse in sinne, as if hee shoulde haue said: You haue passed ouer the matter sleightly, and had no more care to amende than before, and yet the thing that GOD hath wrought among you, is straunge and woonderfull: which (doubt∣lesse) is doone to this end, that you might bee made the more willing to be reduced out of your sinnes. The Prophet Amos handling the like argument, speaketh in the same maner, but in more expres terms, saying: aI haue giuen you cleannesse of teeth in al your cities, and scarcenesse of bread in all your places, and yet haue yee not re∣turned vnto mee, saith the Lorde: as if hee shoulde haue saide, I haue not onelye bestowed vppon you my woorde, where∣by you may learne to leaue your synnes, Page [unnumbered] but also haue pinched you with penurie, to bring you home the more effectually, and yet all will not serue, so that this doth first shew vnto vs, that they are farre gone in obstinacie, whom none of these things doe mooue:* secondly, it sheweth to what ende the Lorde doth from time to time exercise vs with sundrie temporall calamities and troubles, which is, that we might be the more effectually drawne vnto him, whyche is diligently to be noted, and by the same our owne hearts to be examined how they stand affected in this behalfe, whereby we shall haue iust matter ministred vnto vs, either of comfort, or of feare: for it is eui∣dent, that not onely the Lorde dooth nowe and then sende vppon whole nations some punishment or other, but more, that euery one of vs of what estate soeuer, if he looke narrowlie into his owne estate, shall find the Lordes rodde vppon him, and hym∣selfe greatly to be crossed one waie or o∣ther. Nowe euery man either vseth his crosse, as a meanes to humble hym fur∣ther, and make hym returne the more ef∣fectually vnto GOD, or hee passeth it o∣uer as a matter of course, perswading hymselfe, that there is no further matter Page 19 in it: So then, heere is the triall of thy selfe, GOD punisheth, that we might amende, and wee doe not, then surelye, wee are such as profite not in his schoole: on the other side, GOD layeth his crosse vppon mee, I feele it, I acknowledge it his rodde for mine offences, and I am brought to a more carefulnesse, and heede-taking vnto my wayes, then may I con∣ceiue comfort vnto mine own hart, in that I profit by the Lords correction.
The second sermon.
Vers. 3. Tell you your children of it, and let your children shewe it to their children, & their children to another generation.
Vers. 3. Tell you your children of it, and let your children shewe it to their children, & their children to another generation.
TEl it vnto your children) Hauing shewed how strange a thing it is that hee is to speake,* least they should think, that it were but for the time present, or for themselues alone, he sheweth in these words,* that they must so learne and marke it, that they may from time to time recount it, and teach it their children, with charge to haue it pro∣pagated vnto the generations that shoulde come after: whereby wee learne first, that Page [unnumbered] wee are not to heare or make vse of the words of God for the time present, or con∣sider of his workes in mercie or iudgemēt while they are fresh and newe, and no lon∣ger, but to vse his word as we do the foode of our bodies, that is, to eate it, that we may digest it, be norished by it, and made more able in the strength of it to walke in the course of this life.
*Againe, wee see, that it is enioyned them, not onely, to knowe and consider those thynges themselues, but also to make them knowne, and teach the right vse of them to their children, which be∣ing spoken to them in one particular, is also enioyned vnto vs in regard of ye whole worde of God in generall, that is, that we haue a care to instruct and bring vp our children in the knowledge and feare of God, that the honour of God may bee re∣tained among men, and to their posteritie, as also, that wee may leaue behinde vs a godlie seede: the which, albeit it was en∣ioyned vnto them vnder the a lawe, and confirmed vnto vs in the time of the b gos∣pell, that it might appeare to be a duty for euer required of the people of God, yet we see how litle it is (almost euery where) re∣garded: Page 20 in so much, that for lacke of god∣ly education (the parents letting them run at randon) the youth of this land doth seem already to haue receiued vnto themselues the profession of Atheisme and al impietie▪ which (if parents thought it their duetie to instruct them otherwise) should among vs be redressed. But lette all that feare GOD, and make a conscience to obey his will, looke vnto their dueties in this be∣halfe, and take heede, that they passe not ouer with carelesnesse, the education of their children, as is the manner of the wic∣ked among whom they doe dwell. Besides this, we see that the Prophet willeth this to be made knowne to the generations fo∣lowing, and so from one to an other, and yet it is a particular action, the force whereof they onely felt,* which teacheth vnto vs, that the workes of God that hee bringeth to passe in extraordinarie maner vppon the face of the earth, are (in re∣gard of the vse and end of them) to be con∣sidered and regarded in all generations. For if they bee the workes of hys wrath in the punishementes of hys foes, or sharpe and bitter afflictions vppon hys people falling from obedience to hys truth, Page [unnumbered] or yet of his mercie shewed vnto penitent sinners, or reuenge for the iniuries doone vnto his saints (the Lorde being alwayes the same) they are to be looked for vppon the like occasions, and especiallye those that it hath pleased the holie-ghost to re∣gister in the holie Scriptures, which are therefore set downe, that we might learne by them the punishments that wee sin not as they did that felte them, least wee feele them also, and the mercies that wee may take the same course which they did (that in the loue of God) wee may finde the like fauour, and so make the worde of GOD both in the preceptes, and also examples therof a continuall direction for the course of our whole life.
*That which is left of the palmer-worme, &c.) This is the thing that hee hath made so much preparation for, the summe whereof is thus much, that the hand of God was so vppon them with punishment by famine and dearth, that not their superfluitie, or a part of their necessarye foode was kepte from them, but the LORD hadde sent his seuerall punishementes vppon them, one after an other, that among them they had deuoured all, and left nothing. Now Page 21 if wee looke into this that the Prophet speaketh according to the action don, there was none of the people that needed to be so prepared, that they might vnderstand it, for it was apparant euen before their eies, so that the prophet seemeth after so great speeches afore hande, at the end to say (in effect) nothing, for if a man should come a∣mong vs, and call men in the market-place to drawe neere, and calling for attention, to a solemne proclamation, shoulde in the end tell the people that corne is deare, and so depart, a number would condemne him of follie, and yet hee should say as much (in effect) as the wordes of this prophet do ex∣presse: but wee must vnderstand and that it is not simplie the thing, that the prophet na∣meth them to consider of, and no more, but it is their sencelessenesse, and securitie, in that they beeing thus smitten of the Lord, were not yet mooued with repentance, nor cared any whit to seek reconciliation with his maiestie: so that, the meaning of the holie ghoost beeing euident, it remaineth that wee obserue those thinges out of the words that are to be noted for our instruc∣tiō, first, these so diuers and present punish∣mentes one after another, to execute that Page [unnumbered] part of the Lordes determination, which ye former had left vndone, doth cōmend to vs ye power that God is of to punish ye sinners & transgressors of his law, to ye end that we may learne to take heed, & beware that we cast not behind our backs (as many mē do) ye consideration of Gods high hand against iniquity,* but rather (cōsidering his power to plague his foes) to haue all watchfulnes ouer our own affections, & regard to his cō¦mandements to do thē, least we procure a∣gainst our selues ye force of that his power, which (taking hold on vs) must needs throw vs into a most forlorne & wretched cōditiō. Besides this, we may behold ye readines of the lords wil to put this his power in exe∣cutiō, which also is to be obserued: for eue∣ry one of vs, is easly drawn to acknowlege gods power & abilitie, to do what he will, but we think so litle of his iustice, and pre∣sume so much vpon his mercy, that we per∣suade our selues he wil not execute his vē∣geance vpon vs, albeit, we haue done & doe daily prouoke him therto by our manifold rebelliōs against him, but if we could be∣leue that this people had as great cause (in¦deed) to stand vpon his mercy (for that they had as much experience as any since euer had, or could haue) as we can any way pre∣tend Page 22 for our selues, & yet whē they walked a course, not agreable to the calling wher∣vnto he had called thē, were seuerely puni∣shed, it would make vs more carefull to do wel, yt we feel not ye smart of his powerfull vengeance, & not go on in the course of our own ways, persuading our selues yt no euil shal happen to vs, bicause the lord is graci∣ous & merciful. Againe, we are to consider of the instruments that God vseth to shew forth his displeasure vpon thē in this place, & they bee, not the great & puissant princes that then liued, (thogh they be also at gods cōmandement) nor the power of darknes yt ruleth in the air, nor the angels that attend continually vpon him to do his will, for all those we acoūt to be great & mighty in our own eies, but it is the seely & pore vermin, yt be of al other gods creatures in their own nature the weakest, & in our eies most con∣temptible, which notwithstanding) when they bee set on worke are armed with such force & might,* as ye holy ghost termeth thē & such like, ye lords mighty host, wherby god hath many times ouerthrown great & migh¦ty monarks, as Pharao, Herod, & others, to teach vs on ye one side, how al the creatures of God, that haue their beeing in and vpon Page [unnumbered] earth round about vs, are Gods prepared souldiours to worke our vtter ruine, when wee transgresse hys holye commaunde∣mentes, and on the other side, what little cause man hath (if hee weigh his estate a∣right) to bee proud in his owne conceit, or perswade him selfe of anie valour whereof he may boast to be in him selfe, (especiallie when hee walketh in the waies of wicked∣nes) seing hee is inuironed with so manie and diuers of Gods creatures, the least, and meanest whereof, is of power sufficient, (if God speake but the woorde) to deface all that whereof he boasteth, and to dissapoint him of that felicitie, that he vainly perswa∣deth him selfe long to enioye: we may fur∣ther obserue out of these wordes, that God punished not this people with one afflictiō, and so leaue them vntouched any more, but sendeth vpon thē one of these creatures af∣ter another, because that the first had not effected that in their hearts for which the Lord sent it: for GOD scourged them to the end that they might be reclaimed from their wicked waies, vnto true repentance, and amendment of life. Now when he see∣eth that, the destruction which the Palmer-worme made in their fruites, did not draw Page 23 them therevnto, he sendeth the grassehop∣per to spoile that which the other had left, and so after a third and a fourth kinde of consuming vermin. Wherby we may learn this lesson for our instruction,* that when∣soeuer. God sendeth vpon a people, anie pu∣nishment to call them to repentaunce, and it worke not the same effect, God wil still send punishment vpon punishment, and al∣waies the latter to be sharper then the for∣mer, vntill that people bee either brought to renounce that course which God punish∣eth them for, and to walke in his waies, or else vntill it appeare, (as it did in Phara∣oh, & his people, by their seuerall plagues, whereby they profited nothing) that it is a stiffe-necked generation, apparantlie refu∣sing his grace, & so to be cast off in his eter∣nall displesure.* Which doctrine (if we can rightlie applie it vnto our selues) is verie necessarie for our present instruction, to make vs see in what case wee be at this in∣stant. We all know, that God hath begun to deal with vs in this point, as he did with the Israelites in this place: that is, to a∣bridge vs of that plentie of breade, that heretofore (by his great mercie) wee haue long enioyed: & yet by the shew that appea∣reth Page [unnumbered] vpon the earth, in the forwardnes of the corne, hee seemeth to haue made, or (at ye least) to promise, an end of ye former scar∣sitie, wherby we also promise to our selues abundance, and in the meane-while, neuer alter our waies from anye former course, wherein they haue bene framed, nor amend any thing that is amisse, either in the whol church and common-wealth, or anye parti∣cular member of the same: wherein it may be, that we shall not be dissappointed of our hope, (for God may doe what pleaseth hym best) but this I dare saye, (& as sure as the Lorde liueth, and his woord is true, it shall come to passe) that for somuch as this small sign of gods anger, hath wroght no amend∣ment in vs, (which is the end why God af∣flicts his people) either he seeth, that we are a nation who haue so long dallied with his word that he meaneth to remoue it to a na∣tion that wil bring forth more fruit, and so (leauing of to smite vs anye more) will let vs run on to our own destruction: or (if we be that people with whome he meaneth to continue his word, & whome he will sound∣lie conuert vnto him selfe, hee will not let vs alone with this light easie blow that he layde vppon vs, but hee will either in the Page 24 same kinde, by remoouing all the fruits of the earth from vs) touche vs more nearely, then yet hee hath, or by some other more sharpe and bitter purgation, cleanse away the drosse that cleaueth so fast vnto vs, that hee maie make vs pure gold, fit to be made vessels of his honour, and therefore, let vs not thus •ooth vp our selues in perswasion of peace and plentie, for if they be restored vnto vs without our sound conuersion vnto God, and that in a more effectual maner, then yet England hath seene, our state shal∣be of all mens most miserable.
Awake ye drunkards) The prophet in these words,* laboreth to draw the people vnto the due consideration of their estate, & to make ye right vse of that punishment which was vpon them, wherin albeit he speaketh vnto ye drunkards perticularly, yet we must not thinke that hee meaneth them alone, for the want, laying holde generally vpon all the end thereof, must also be vrged vnto al, but hee nameth one kinde of people, in∣stead of al, and them aboue anie other, both for that the abuse of their former plenty was most apparant (euen in the sight of the blyndest) in them, for who is so senselesse, that will not confesse, that the Page [unnumbered] drunkard mispendeth the creatures of god, as also, because of all the sortes of people, that were most settled in their sinnes, and broght vnto the greatest depth of security, the drunkarde is the greatest, for as it is the nature of the excesse of drinke, why∣lest it is in mans head, by his fuming pow∣er and efficacie, to make that man reason∣lesse like a bruite beast, and sencelesse, as a blocke,* vnfit vnto the common and natural duties of a man: so it is the naturall effect of drunkennes, to depriue him (euen when he is sober) of all vnderstanding▪ and capa∣citie of instruction, in so much, that of all wanderers from the Lord, they go the fur∣thest, and of all impenitent sinners, they are in the most desperate condition, & the hard∣liest conuerted▪ to the ende therefore that the Lorde might by his Prophet declare, that he looked for such a generall amende∣ment of the land, as might reforme euerye estate, he speaketh by name vnto the drun∣kardes, which of al other were the furthest off from any such repentance. He maketh also choice of this kind of sin, rather thā a∣ny other, to the end that he might shew vn∣to the people what estate they were gene∣rally in, euen so setled in sinne, and drow∣ned Page 25 in the depth thereof, and contented to abide therin as the drunkard is in his drun∣kennes, that they might bee brought the more thorowlie to see their owne wretched condition, the more vnfaignedlie conceiue detestation of the fame•, and the more en∣deuour their speedie amendment, whiche doth also teach vs, how necessarie a matter it is for vs to haue our sinful condition layd open vnto vs by the ministerie of Gods ho∣lie woorde, not onelie in a generall man∣ner to bee tould that wee bee sinners, for that passeth awaie as water from the top of a stone, and pearceth not our heartes, but euen in perticular, how seuerallie and diuers waies wee are faultie, how ouglie and lothsome our estate is before the ma∣iestie of God, and in what fearefull plight wee bee, when our hearts are not wrought vnto vnfaigned remorce for the same. A∣gaine, in that the Lorde by his generall pu∣nishment, doth labour to drawe the verie drunkard vnto sense and feeling, we learn that when God beginneth to inflict his pu∣nishmentes vppon a people,* hee will make them of such force, that they shalbe felt of the most senselesse, euen of them that haue laboured most to put out of their heartes, Page [unnumbered] the remembrance of all punishment for sin▪ which is worthy to be noted, for if we look into the affections of men, we shal plainely see,* yt he who putteth furthest frō himselfe the euill day, & least beleeueth anye part of the word of God, persuadeth himselfe to be in best case: for yt he taketh his pleasure in yt things of this life according to his harts desire: but if he knew in what state he stan∣deth, & how sodēly god wil tech him by his own foolish experience, ye vanity of his own perswasion, it would make him looke bet∣ter about him, & examine his owne waies, not by the crooked measure of his own de∣ceitful hart, but by the vndeceiueable line of gods holy word, and esteeme of them ac∣cording as (in deede) they are, and not as they haue seemed vnto his owne reason to be. If we looke further into these wordes in searchinge of the causes why, this one kinde of sinne is named rather then any o∣ther, we shal see, yt by this example, whose offences were palpable, ye holy ghost would shew them, the principal cause of this scar∣city that nowe they suffered, to be their la∣uishing, and excessiue mispending of Gods blessings wherwith he had inriched them, and therefore doe thea prophets often (no Page 26 doubt, not meaning them only, but al other mispenders of gods blessings) inuey sharp∣lie & threaten most greeuous punishments against drunkards,* to the end that all those that had in anie other kinde, mis-bestowed the things of this life, might be brought to amendment of their wais: which is worthy ye consideration for vs to be admonished by, to see (as it were afore-hand) what GOD threatneth & may by the same iustice bring vpon vs: for if the abusing of the fat of the land of Canaan, by ye Israelites, gods own people, prouoked the lord in his iustice, not onely to remoue from them the superfluity & superaboundance, that they wallowed in, but euen those necessaries, which nature for the sustentation therof did need: O Lorde, what may we looke for, frō the seat of gods iustice to befall vs, if he should deal with vs as he did with thē? surely nothing but vtter ruine & desolation from being a people any more in ye sight of ye sun: for if we shal match our state with theirs in perticular,* & lay o∣pen (euen) the worst that is in all the word of GOD to bee found of them, and then looke into our selues with that blinde sight that our weknes can offend vs, we shal find that in nothing we are behind them, but in Page [unnumbered] manie, doe wee farre goe beyond them, for, is not drunkennesse which wee haue heard to be so apparant a misusing of Gods bles∣sings, so it is, yea, & much exceeding with vs, then euer can bee prooued to bee in Is∣rael? With vs it is not onelie a common thing to sinne, (as it were for the prize) who can bee strongest to deuour strong drinke, and exceede his companion in heaping vp the measure of his beastlines aboue hys fellowes: but also (which former times, were neuer acquainted with) to bestow not small cost vpon others, to the end to make them also of our owne wretched condition, to the end that wee may sport and laugh at them, and bee not the blessings of God a∣nother way, (I meane in eating and drink∣ing) as farre misbestowed? what super∣fluitie in banquetting? what excesse in or∣dinarie diet? what varietie of dishes more then neede be euery-where vsed? whereby it commeth to passe, that of all people, wee Englishmen are termed (and that worthy∣ly) the greatest eaters that are, and as for aparell, another of the blessings of God, or∣deined (onelie) for to couer our shame, in a ciuil decencie, is not our exceeding vanity, most monstrously to be seen therin? not on∣lie, Page 27 in the excesse and cost lines thereof, but in the seuerall formes and fashions also, wherein, wee are so apish in imitating all nations, that wee shewe our selues the most inconstant people of all other: yea and for the feeding of our monstrous humour of vanitie, euen in the hyghest degree, howe manie thousands of quarters of the purest wheat, which God ordeined for the food of man, are yearlie conuerted into that most deuelish deuice of Startch, it cannot bee vnknowen vnto manye, for so much as it was euidentlie layd open (not long agoe) in the Parliament, and yet (alasse) no re∣medie prouided to redresse it. A sinne so abhominable, that (if there were no other) it dooth crie so loudly in the Lordes eares for vengeaunce, as his iustice must needes proceede against vs for it, without speedie repentance: so that (all these laid together) the Lords riches wherewith hee hath infi∣nitly beautified this land, being euery-way so heinoussie abused, there remaineth no∣thing for vs to looke for, (except GOD worke in our hearts speedy repentance) but finall hauock, & vtter desolation. The pro∣phet in this place perswadeth ye drunkards to weep, which is a behauior, that of all o∣ther Page [unnumbered] people, they are furthest from, & which they labour (as it were of purpose) to put from themselues,* & rather to inforce their senses vnto an extraordinary riot & mirth, which they propound vnto themselues as their finall felicitie: & yet the prophet per∣suadeth them vnto weeping, which is the thing that they least of all dreamed euer to be brought vnto: but such is the manner of the Lords dealing, with them that seeke to build themselues in sin, & to bee persuaded of an assuraunce, thereby euen vtterlye to dissapoint them of their purpose, to the end that we may learne to behold the exceeding vanity that man is blinded with, when hee promiseth vnto him selfe any good conditi∣on, with the disobedience vnto gods com∣mandements, or leauing of any part of hys duty vndone: which is a thing worthy to be learned of vs, & so much the rather, for that so few do obserue the ishue of it, & therfore beleue it not, for do we not see that (almost) euery man in euery calling, doth of purpose keep back, & (as it were) abridge the Lorde of that obedience yt his calling oweth vnto him? & al vpon these grounds: if I do these, & these things, I shall expose my selfe vnto many dangers, & inconueniences, and if I Page 28 leaue them vndon, & in steed therof, do such & such a thing, (which indeed be vngodly & sinful) I shall find great ease & benefite in it: if we could be persuaded (which is most true) that the onely true safety is to yeelde obedience vnto the woord of God in euery point: and (on the other side) saue the ••a∣uing of any part of our duties vndone, or ye committing of any sin, to carrie neuer such a shew, and make vs neuer so fair promises we shalbe dissapointed therby and fall vnto that which wee least feared, it would make vs not to trust (as the moste men doe) vnto such weake and broken reedes▪ but onelie vnto the LORDE, in his bles∣sing vppon the obedience of his owne com∣maundement, labouring aboue all things to put the same in practize, and to com∣mitte the successe of it vnto hym, who (onelye is wise, and knoweth howe to bring euerye thyng to a prosperous end. The Prophet dooth yet further proceed, in laying open thys matter,* and vrging them to bee affected wyth it, shewing that the drunkardes, who heretofore haue wallowed in all aboundaunce of wyne, euen vnto excesse, shall haue theyr con∣dytion so farre chaunged, that it shall Page [unnumbered] vtterly be cut from their mouthes, that is, they shal not haue any tast of it at al a mer∣ueilous chaunge, (if it bee well considered) that they shall come from so great plentye vnto such exceeding penury: but we may see therin the iust iudgement of God, y• sendeth vpon man the gretest want of those things wherein hee hath most abused himselfe, the which is notablie set down by our Sauiour Christ,* in the example of the prodical son, of whom it is said, yt after he had lauished out his patrimony vpon whores & riotous cōpa∣ny, he came vnto such exceding misery, that he would gladlie haue fed vpon the huskes that the swine ate, but none gaue them vn∣to him, to the end (if we will profit by it) that wee may learne to imploye all Gods blessinges aright, but especiallie those whereof wee haue moste aboundaunce, least the Lorde conceiuing displeasure a∣gainst vs, doe so remooue them from vs, as we be brought into greater misery & want then they y• neuer inioyed any of them. The maner how this great want shall come vp∣pon them, is also to bee obserued, where∣as it is sayde, that it shal be pulled or (as the originall woord signifieth) be cut from their mouthes, whereby hee meaneth, that Page 29 it shall be taken away wythout anye rem∣nant left, to come vnto them, to the ende, that they might further consider of the ex∣ceeding neede that they shoulde be driuen into, and so bee persuaded, that the wrath of the Lord was more fierce against them▪ which coulde not bee appeased wythout a speciall repentance on their behalfe, and that in more measure than was required of others, who had in lesse measure prouoked his displeasure. For albeit the Lorde is no way appeased with any, vnlesse hee doe vnfeinedly repent him of his wicked wais: yet he looketh for a more deepe lamentati∣on and sorow to be in those who haue most greeuously offended his maiestie.* Besides this, the manner of the speach doth shewe vnto vs the maruellous securitie that they were ouerwhelmed in, and the greatnesse of their incredulitie, that being so sinfull, as their owne consciences could not choose but nowe and then accuse them, and ha∣uing among others, this prophet,* so plain∣ly to deale with them, do yet cleaue so fast vnto their sinnes, as nothing can remooue them from delighting therein, vntill the meanes whereby they are fostered, be vio∣lentlie taken awaie, in whome wee see a Page [unnumbered] right patterne of the obstinate and impe∣nitent sinner, who will neuer bee brought to mislike his offences, nor to bee persua∣ded that hee is (by reason of them) in dan∣gerous plight, vntil such time as GOD doe sette to his hand, and by some vn∣woonted worke of his iustice doe punishe them, or vntill they fall into that pun∣nishement which before hath bene threat∣ned against them: the examples that the worde of GOD dooth affoorde vnto vs (besides the too plentifull experience that wee haue of it) doe shewe this to be true: the destructiō that was denounced against the olde worlde by the space of a 120 yeeres, coulde neuer make them beleeue, that GOD would punish them indeede: it had beene a harde matter to make the b Sodomites beleeue that they shoulde be consumed with fire and brimstone vntil they felt it by their wofull experience: lit∣tle thought Pharaoh that euer the Israe∣lites should depart out of Egypt, and hee with his people be drowned for pursuing them, vntill the sea c ouerwhelmed him and all his hoste: and would not the Iews haue laughed him to scorne (thinke you) that should haue auouched that vnto them Page 30 which our sauiour tolde his disciples, that euen the day shoulde come when a one stone of their goodly temple shoulde not be left vpon an other. The Scripture is ful of such examples, and the world more ful: it is the nature of sinne to chaine mens af∣fections so neare vnto it, as all the threat∣nings, persuasions, exhortations, or anie other the most forcible kinde of speach that can be vsed, are not able to preuaile with him, to make him beleeue it shall be so, vntill it come to passe, and that hee see it is so indeede: and therefore it is no maruell (there being no discipline to driue men vnto outward godlinesse vnlesse it please them) if so manie in euerye place, (yea where the woorde is most sincerelie preached) doe runne the race of wicked∣nesse (it being a matter so hard to leaue) and so few that doe vnfainedly feare God, and shewe foorth the fruites of it in their conuersation.
Yea a nation commeth) Albeit the woord that is here translated, Yea,* doth naturally signifie, For, or Because, and the word, Com∣meth, in the Hebrewe bee the time past: whereby these wordes may seeme to be ei∣ther a reason of the former threatnings, Page [unnumbered] or else a speach of an other punishement, which the Iewes did already feele more greeuous than the Famine: for that it is not greatly materiall, it being spoken to declare their mysterie, and bring them to repentaunce: whether it bee spoken of the plague past, or to come, I will not muche stand vpon the one more than the other, al∣beit I see nothing against it, why we may not rather vnderstand it of that which is to come, than of any thing that they felt al∣ready, both for that it is cleare, that hee speaketh of a different plague from the former, as also, that some things be spo∣ken in the discourse following, which can hardly be saide of the time past: neither dooth that any way preiudice this sence, that the words in the Hebrew doe all run, in the time past, as speaking of a thing al∣readie done: for they that are but a little acquainted with the phrase of the Pro∣phets, do know, that it is their vsuall ma∣ner, to speake of the thinges to come, as though they were already come to passe; to the ende, that the certaintie of their pro∣phecies may more euidently appeare. The summe of the woordes, is a description of the force and 〈◊〉 of their enimies, to Page 31 the end, that they might be driuen to seeke vnto GOD for aide and strength to resist them. The lessons that we haue to learne out of the same be diuers: first, in that the Lorde, for the reclaiming of man vnto him selfe,* doth (besides his worde which is the ordinarie meanes) vse many and diuerse afflictions, oftentimes of contrarie kinde one to an other, to the end, that if hee will not bee mooued wyth the one, yet he may be drawen on by the other, so did he deale wyth the Egyptians his ennimies, first, sending one plague, then an other, after that a third, and so to the number of tenne, and all to the ende that hee might drawe them to yeelde obedience to his comman∣dement of letting his people go: so dealte he also with the Israelites his chosen peo∣ple, often, sometimes afflicting them wyth ciuill warres ata home, sometimes with inuasion of ennimies from b farre, and sometimes with great c dearths and scarcitie of vittailes, sometimes wyth greeuous diseases, as the d plague and pestilence: and all to this ende, that they might be drawne out of those corruptions and enormities wherin they delighted, vn∣to the true and sincere seruice of the euer∣liuing Page [unnumbered] God, whose people they alwayes professed themselues to be, so dooth hee deale with vs (as wee maye see by our owne experience) sometimes he afflicteth vs wyth sickenesse, and if that doe vs no good, hee sendeth outward trouble by vn∣quiet neighboures, if that preuaile not, hee bringeth vs into pouertie, after that into troubles, in respect of our wiues, children, families, or kinsefolkes: all which hee dooth to driue vs from deligh∣ting in any thing of this life, that might drawe vs vnto sinne, and to put our whole affiaunce in him alone:* the which, as it dooth on the one side commende vnto vs the great desire that the Lorde sheweth himselfe to haue of our good, in that hee tieth so many conclusions to profit vs, so on the other side it sheweth vnto vs, howe al coulor of excuse is taken from man, that when he doth any way amisse, and is puni∣shed for it, he shal be able to lay the blame in nothing in the worlde but himselfe one∣lie, yea, hee shall by his owne knowledge aggrauate vnto himselfe his owne damna∣tion: for hee shall truely saye of hymselfe: Hath not GOD from time to time tolde mee of my faultes, by the ministerie of Page 32 hys seruanutes, and called mee to repen∣taunce? And when that would not serue, hath hee not putte to his owne hand tou∣ching mee wyth diuerse afflictions, to bring mee vnto hymselfe, and haue not I despised all these meanes, and prefer∣red my delight and pleasure in sinne a∣boue whatsoeuer was promised in his ho∣lie woorde? What can I say for my selfe but euen this? That all the punishements that can be inflicted vppon mee, eyther in this life, or in that which is to come, are no more than my misdemeanour and obstinate refusall of grace and goodnesse haue iustly deserued.
It dooth also declare vnto vs the mi∣serable corruption that Manne is na∣turallye defiled wythall:* and the greate backewardnesse that is in him towardes anie good thing, that being by so many, and so excellent meanes inuited vnto his owne wealth, dooth yet notwythstanding, still renounce and refuse it, to the ende, that wee maye learne howe harde a mat∣ter it is for a manne to beecome truelie religious, and howe easie a thing it is for a man to deceiue hymselfe, in a perswasion of that whych (in deede) hee is farre from. Page [unnumbered] For doe wee not see, that he whose estate (of all other) is most wretched, doth yet notwithstanding flatter him selfe, deem∣ing his condition to be as good as the best, and so either thinketh that hee is so religi∣ous as hee needeth to bee, or else, that it is a thing easly attained vnto, wherevppon it commeth to passe that he saith a vnto knowledge, depart from me, and vnto re∣formation, I will not be acquainted with thee. But if his eies were opened by the spirite of God, that hee might see what a straight gate hee must enter in at, before he can come to the treasure of an vpright conscience, and how many lets and hinde∣rances rest in himselfe to keepe him from it, how many colourable deceits his own heart hatcheth to keepe him in sinne, then shoulde hee bee brought willingly to con∣fesse howe deepely hee had drunke before, of the cup of corrupt iudgement, and how farre hee was from anie goodnesse, when hee thought him selfe to bee in excellent e∣state.
*The prophet describing the qualitie of their enimies, dooth speake in such man∣ner, as euerye worde that he vttereth doth preuent an obiection that they might al∣leadge, Page 33 and for their safetie and securitie in that land against all aduersaries.* For first, whereas they might saye for them∣selues, we are such a people as there is not the like, being al of the stocke of one man, and brought from else-where to inhabite this land, in spite of all that coulde bee a∣gainst it, and therefore being placed heere by the hand of god, what people is there in the world that can annoy vs, to which the prophet answereth, by saying: a nation com∣meth, as if he should say you can alleage no thing for your selues in regarde of any pri∣uileges or immunities that you inioy, but God is able to intitle an other people into the like: yea, and wil now do it, for the sins of the Cananites hauing driuen them out before your face, what cause can there bee why your sins also should not expel you be∣fore your enimies, vnlesse you thinke that God is not as much displeased with sin in one people, as he is in another. Nowe this being diligētly marked, is very profitable for our present instruction: for when wee heare of inuasions to come vpon this land, and of forren foes to bend their power a∣gainst vs, we do by & by flee vnto that bro∣ken reed of our own setled estate, & allege Page [unnumbered] carnall reasons for our selues whereby we persuade our own harts of continuance in the same condition, as before, and so make no reckoning (at least to work any amend∣ment in vs before god) but say peace, peace, and promise to our selues inuincible secu∣ritie: but let it be said vnto vs, as it might iustly be said to the Israelites. Was not the people that inhabited this land, of as great valor as we are? Nay, were they not Anachims, that is, great & mighty giants vpon the face of the earth? what was it thē that ouerthrew them, & placed vs in their roomes, our owne strength or multitude? Alas, no, for they were mo in number, and stronger in strength than they that ouer∣came them, but it was their exceeding sin, the measure whereof was come to the ful, and the hainousnesse whereof ascended in∣to the eares of the Lorde of Hostes, and cried for vengeaunce: but this (you maye saye) was long ago, and it may be it was not true. Admit it were so, let mee then propound it in an example, so late & newe as many of vs are eie and eare-witnesses of: the kingdome of the Pope, that euen (as it were) yesterday, was so seated and setled in this land, that it helde all men Page 34 willingly captiue therevnto. What ouer∣threwe that? Wee cannot say, that it was our number, for the most of vs were then in the loines of them that mourned for the ouerthrow of their honor, neither can we say, that it was our strength, wisedome, or policie, for in all these they didde farre ex∣ceede vs: but it was euen the hainous and horrible synnes that were commytted (without controllment) amongst them, euen in the sight of the Sunne: if then it bee founde (which a blinde man maye easilye finde out) that sinne is growne vnto as greate a head amongest vs as it was amongest them, and as little puni∣shed as then it was: what can wee looke for, but euen the iudgement that fell vp∣on them, vnlesse wee thinke the Lorde to bee partiall on our sides more than on theirs.
But you will say, the case is not alike, for they were idolaters, & throwne out for their idolatrie, that wee might bee plan∣ted that professe and maintaine true reli∣gion: it is true, but might not the Israe∣lites alleadge this much rather for them∣selues? and yet when they sinned, it profi∣ted them nothing: let vs not therefore co∣uer Page [unnumbered] our shame with any of these fig leaues, but rather say with the apostle a if God spared not the natural branches, take heed least hee also spare not thee. They might further say for themselues, the Lords in∣heritance is heere, and though hee shoulde be willing to let vs be ouer-runne, yet hee will respect vs, forsomuch as wee are the people with whom he hath chosen to dwell for euer. That this pretence might also be remooued, the Lorde saith by his Pro∣phet, A nation commeth vppon my land, as if he shoulde say, albeit I haue separa∣ted it vnto my selfe, and chosen my selfe a seate to dwell there, yet shall not that pri∣uilege be any let: but I will neuerthelesse send vpon them the rodde of my wrath to execute my iustice and vengeaunce vppon their sinnes: this being then the meaning of the holie-ghost in this point, it remain∣eth that we obserue out of the same, these two profitable doctrines for our instructi∣on: the first is this, in that the Lorde cal∣leth it his land, we do learne, that what∣soeuer preeminences they had, wherewith they coulde preferre themselues vnto o∣ther people, it came from the Lordes bles∣sing alone, for they themselues were as Page 35 miserable when God tooke them to him∣selfe as any people coulde be (which if it be well weyed) will teache vs when wee thinke of our prerogatiues that wee excell others in,* not to insulte presumptuous∣ly ouer them, and to waxe insolent, for∣getting who separated vs, but to giue all glorie vnto God alone, from whome (in∣deede) euery good thing that wee haue did come, & not from any thing in our selues: secondly, in that he sendeth this nation to the ouerthrowe of his owne people, wee learne, that the priuiledge of grace and mercie, in the fauour of GOD, or anye prerogatiue of this life dooth not giue vs licence to sinne,* or be more carelesse of the true worship and seruice of God, but (not∣withstanding all that wee can saye for our selues) when we transgresse the comman∣dements of God, we shall receiue the pu∣nishment due vnto the same, which thing is worthie to be noted, for we see that ve∣ry many take occasion to liue looselie in the course of their life, vnder pretence of this, that they are receiued vnto grace, Christ died for sinners: and many will doe that which is vnlawfull, because they be wealthy, and can buy it out, or great in Page [unnumbered] calling, and can bolster it, or haue manie freendes, and who dare meddle with them. If any of these woulde reason thus wyth themselues, the Israelites had as manie things to alleage for themselues as they, and yet when they sinned, they escaped not vnpunished, it woulde make them more carefull that they offende not the Lord, whose punishing hand is not turned away, but rather made more heauie, by those his blessings, wherewyth hee hath enriched vs.
*Moreouer, if they shoulde say, though they come, they can doo vs no harme, for wee are strong, and full of manhoode and courage, the Prophet wipeth awaye that obiection also, when hee saieth, that the nation that commeth is mightie, as if hee shoulde haue saide, neuer stand vpon such termes, as that you bee valiaunt, and therefore they can not hurt you, for they are a mightie people strengthened wyth the power of that God, who hitherto hath enabled you against all those enimies that set thēselues against you, but now he hath turned his face, not against thē that come against you, but euen against your selues: wherby the Prophet teacheth vnto vs this Page 36 lesson, that it is a vaine thing for anye man (when hee heareth of the commyng of enimies) to stand vppon hys reputa∣tion, and perswade hymselfe, that he and his countri-men be of such courage, that none shall doe them anye hurte, and it is (indeede) the common speache of vs En∣glishemen, for wee are so proude in our power, and so warlike (as wee take our selues, especiallye when wee sitte on our ale-bench) that wee thinke euery stran∣ger doth quake at the name of an English∣man, and we haue to alleage for our selues the Histories of former times, in which it appeareth that our auncestours haue doone great matters that way: which I doe confesse to be true, and if wee were as well acquainted wyth the Chronicles of other nations, it maye bee wee shoulde finde as great matters (if not greater) brought to passe by manye of them, for GOD hath euer giuen vnto seuerall na∣tions their glorie one aboue an other, to one in this age, to an other in the nexte, as the course of the foure Monarchs dooth euidentlye declare. But can wee saye anye more for our selues in thys poynt, than the Babylonians might haue sayde Page [unnumbered] for themselues, the Medes & Persians for themselues, the Assyrians for themselues, the Grecians for themselues, and the Ro∣manes for themselues? and yet their glo∣rie is decayed, and euery one of them hath sustayned a shamefull foile by their aduer∣saries, yea, of obscure name in the world. Nay, can wee builde our selues in more saftie than the Israelites might? who had all the priuiledges that God euer bestow∣ed vpon any, and so many triumphant vi∣ctories ouer their seueral aduersaries, that their very name made the heartes of the kings on the earth to quake: and yet for all this, where are they nowe? what is become of their glorious estate that was so famous throughout the world? Surely, it is defaced and brought to vtter ruine, so that they are become a by-word, and speech of reproch vnto all nations vnder the sun, a most vaine thing it is therefore, to stand vpon our owne strength, seeing, that they onely shall preuaile in battell, whome the Lord will make mightie, yea though they be as weake as Dauid, and their aduersa∣ries so strong (in the iugement of men) as Goliah the Philistin.* Now if they should yet except against the Prophet, that they Page 37 are a people of infinite number, insomuch, that to go about to ouerthrow them, were to dry vp the sea, and measure the sand vp∣pon the shore. He preuenteth that when he saith, that this mightie people that com∣meth, is without number, that is, as many as no man is able to reckon: and this is al∣so a common allegation, that we bring to perswade our selues that no forreine foes can ouerrunne vs, seing that our land is so peopled, that wee seeme to bee as the stars in the skie, that cannot be numbered: but it is as vaine, as anie of the former. For may not one nation bee as populous as an other? can there be so manie fighting men in one kingdome, as cannot bee found else∣where, and though it were so, that our ad∣uersaries were not able to match vs this way, hath the victorie alwais fallen on the side of the greatest hoste? no, for the holie woord of God affordeth vnto vs manie ex∣amples to the contrarie. aAbraham go∣ing out with 318. men, onelie did discom∣fite four kings and all their hosts, and deli∣uered Lot from their captiuitie. A man would thinke that the b Medianites and Amalekites, being against Israel in num∣ber as the sand of the sea, should neuer haue Page [unnumbered] bene ouerthrowen: and yet the Lorde dis∣comfited them by the hand of Gideon,a and his three hundred souldiours, without any stroke of weapon, but onely the breaking of pichers, blowing of trumpettes, and cry∣ing, the swoorde of the Lord and of Gide∣on. Was not ye power of Senacherib king of Ashur, with a mightie number by the conduction of his seruaunt Rabshaketh, when hee besieged Ierusalem with an ar∣my of b an hundred, foure score & 50000. valiant men, & yet they were al ouerthrow∣en in one night: so that it is a broken reede of Egypt, when we relie vpon multitudes, who are nothing against those fewe, vnto whom the Lord will giue the victorie.* In the words following doth the prophet also preuent that which might bee alleaged a∣gainst the enemies, that if they come, being in a strange land, they could not tell in how many daungers they should bee, they should not be able to haue any stomach to proceed or if they did, they would quickly bee quai∣led, because they should neuer see an end of encounters, and so forth: all which is meet with al, when he sayth, that they shal haue teeth as a lyon, that is, be sharpe and fierce, and besides that, haue the iawes of a great Page 38 lyon, that is, not runne them selues out of breath, wyth theyr fiercenes, but preuaile and become inuincible: In which words, are the enemies of the Church of GOD verie notably described, whether they bee suche as haue a will and cannot, or haue not onelie a will, but also power to make hauocke, and doe hurt vnto Gods people.
The first sort of enemies bee described in the former Metaphor, wherein they are sayd, to haue the teeth of a lyon, that is, to be sharpe, and bitter, verie willing and de∣sirous to rauine and deuour, and prepared for the purpose against the daye that they desire. And of this minde are (no doubt) all the Papists, that are in England, whe∣ther they be recusants or church-papistes, notwithstanding that they pretend a loue vnto the state,* and a contentednesse to liue quietlie in it, so that they may be let alone to vse their conscience (as they falselye do terme their hereticall opinions) yet in∣deede, because they beare a deadly hatred vnto the religion of Iesus Christ (which is the onelie piller whereon the safetie of her Maiestie, and the common-wealth standeth, and shall stand so safelye as they leane vnto it, & no more nor longer) if they Page [unnumbered] do not vnto vs all the mischiefe that can be deuised, it is for no other cause but onelye this, that God taketh awaie from them o∣portunitie to bring it to passe: and to the end that this may appeare to bee true, (for they haue plaide the part of Ismael so long, that too manie of vs bee brought to bee as credulous as Gedoliah) looke into the per∣ticulars of their behauiour,* in their seueral countries where they dwell, and callinges wherin they are: and you shall see that they bend all their credite, and authoritie to the crossing of religion,* (which is the staffe of our state) and the countenauncing of trea∣cherous papists, who be the sworne vnder∣miners of our welfare, either in soule or bodie: and therefore I maruell, that anie wise men can be drawn to thinke, that euer a papist can perfourme anie loyall seruice to hir Maiestie, or good to his countrey, vnlesse it bee to winde him selfe in, that he may after do the greater hurt, as the expe∣rience of many of them hath shewed in the sight of all men. And this is not onelie true in those rich enemies to religion the pa∣pists, but euen in all other that be wicked men, whether they bee Atheists, or men giuen vnto wickednes of life: wee see how Page 39 (oftentimes) manie of them doe currie with Gods Children, but yet let vs neuer trust them the more, albeit, it bee better that a dogge fawne vppon vs, then barke and bite vs, yet it is most sure that they ne∣uer fawne, but to the end that they maye come neare vnto vs, and bite more earnest∣lie. The seconde sort of enemies, is descri∣bed in both these termes set together: for the one importing sharpnes, and the other strength or might, his meaning is, that they shall haue an earnest desire to deuour, and an inuincible might to execute the same: which when they meet togither, what spoil they make of all good things, the dailie ex∣perience of them where they are lysted to do what they wil,* doth euidentlie shew vn∣to vs, and the effect that this of theirs in this place bringeth to passe, will declare vnto vs in the next sermon: onelie let this bee the summe for this time, that all men who are not trulie religious, doe beare a bitter emnitie vnto the same, and the pro∣fessours thereof, which if it appeare not by their works, it is either because, they want power to their will, or because God bride∣leth them by one meanes or other, to the end that we may learne to take heed, how Page [unnumbered] we bee familiar with any of them, or trust them further than wee see them, for if wee doe, wee shall see at one tine or other, that they neuer did beare anye faithfull friend∣ship vnto vs.
The third sermon.
Vers. 7. He maketh my vine waste, and pil∣leth off the barke of my figge-tree: he ma∣keth it bare, and casteth it downe: the braunches thereof are made white.
Vers. 7. He maketh my vine waste, and pil∣leth off the barke of my figge-tree: he ma∣keth it bare, and casteth it downe: the braunches thereof are made white.
*HE maketh my vine waste.) The prophet hauing shewed, ye po∣wer, multitude, & furie of the enemies that came vppon the land, hee now proceedeth to declare, what they shal do, and that in a borrowed speech, wherein he comparing the people of Isra∣ell and their land, vnto a vine, hee doth in the perticulars, explane the hurt that this inuading people should doe, saying, he pul∣leth downe the hedge, and all defence that was round about it, and not onelie that, but least it should flourish, and bring foorth in such aboundaunce, as heeretofore, he pil∣leth Page 40 the barke from it, to the ende that the sappe which it should be nourished withall, maie neither ascend, nor descend, yea hee maketh it bare round about, that no hope of iuyce maie bee left in it, hee throweth it downe, least the rootes should send vp some newe braunches, insomuch that it is cleane wythered awaye: the meaning (in one woorde) is, hee bringeth it to vtter ru∣ine and finall destruction, that it shall bee past hope, euer to recouer againe. The ende of all these so manie woordes to ex∣presse the thing, is, that the people might be brought vnto a deep consideration ther∣of, not onelie in the trueth, but also the measure of it: For such is our nature, that when anie daunger is fore-tolde, to fall vppon vs, eyther wee doe not beleeue it, perswading our selues that no suche mat∣ter shall come to passe, or if wee thinke it will so fall out indeed, wee doe in our own opinions so extenuate and lessen it, that it maketh (in a manner) no impression in our hearts, neuer moouing vs to take it to heart vnfeygnedlie: and therefore doth the Prophet lay open this iudgement of theirs so perticularly: so that the prophets mea∣ning being this, we learn from ye same, first Page [unnumbered] this lesson,* to wit, by what note, and mark wee may discerne the godlie from the wic∣ked, which is by their fruites, for as it is the propertie of gods children (considering) that they are placed in this life to aduance Gods glorie, and benefite his Church) to labour by al lawful meanes how they may do good, and better thinges that anie waie are amisse, and may bee amended by them: so on the other side the wicked, because they are the children of confusion, and dis∣order, doe (if it lie in their hands) make ha∣uocke of euerie good thing, quicklie ouer∣turning that, which hath beene long in fra∣ming by the carefull diligence of others. Now in that the Lord by the mouth of hys prophet sayeth that they bring destruction vpon his vine, he meaneth thereby (as Da∣uida dooth in the like case) the people of Israell his Church, which hee had there planted with his owne right hand, where∣by he doth first of all giue them to vnder∣stande, that what soeuer priuileges they coulde any waie chalenge vnto themselues aboue all other nations, the same proceeded not from anie good thing, that came of themselues, but onely from this, that the Lord had beautified them with some excel∣lencie Page 41 beyond others, to the ende that they might know, that the Lord in his promise, of deliueraunce and protection, was no lon∣ger tied vnto them, then they were careful to perfourme the couenaunts of the league which were to bee doone on their behalfe: which thing is worthy the noting, that wee may make our own profite of it, for wee see that many men, beeing of greater gifts in the outward things of this life then others bee, do so insolently demeane them selues, that they offer iniurie vnto manye, yea (by sinning against the Lord) vnto their owne soules, and perswade them selues, that for such and suche causes no euill shall happen vnto them: but if they did consider with themselues, yt if they enioy any good thing, it ariseth from this, that the Lord hath (in mercy inriched them) it would make them both more hūble in their own eies, & made carefull to yeeld obedience vnto the Lorde, who hath so manye waies beene good vnto them: againe, in that the Lorde calleth not onely the land his (as in the former verse) but also them with all the beautye wherein they excelled to be his, that is brought to ye passe by his framing & furnishing of them: he shewed that hee had so put his blessings Page [unnumbered] into their hands,* as yet they remained still his own by which he did look to be honored & serued: which techeth vnto vs this lesson, yt al the things which we do enioy here vpō the face of the earth, (whether they be for ye furniture of the mind) as learning, wisedom & such like) or for the body, as riches, honor, credit, helth, or strength, or whatsoeuer els: are not so absolutely in our possession as we maie imploye them as please vs without controllment, but onelie as of trust, to bee bestowed vnto his vse that is the owner of them: that is, to the glorie of that GOD, whose only they are: which thing is worthy to be noted, for albeit it bee true, that there is not (almost) any one that will not easilie confes in words, that we are but stewards of these thinges for a time, yet (indeede) a verie fewe of vs doe steadfastlie beleeue it, for if euerie man were fullie perswaded, that he must giue accompt of his steward∣ship vnto the Lord, who will be answered how euerie thing is bestowed: were it pos∣sible (thinke you) that the blessings of God that are giuen vs for the aduauncement of his glory & our own good, shold so generaly he turned to the defacing of his honour, & destruction of our owne soules? is it possi∣ble, Page 42 for the idle person that loytereth out that good leasure which hee hath, doing no good? or the ruffin that lauisheth out all his patrimonie vpon brauerie? or the whoor∣monger, that giueth him selfe ouer to vn∣cleannesse, or the Atheist that maketh a iest of Gods woord, to make anie man of reason beleeue, that hee thinkes that euer hee shall come to a reckoning for these thinges? no, no: if hee did thinke it (in∣deed) it would make his heart quake with∣in him to thinke of the rearedges that he is alreadie runne into, and the straightnes of the iudge, when he taketh the account, and in consideration therof, it would make him haue such a watchful eie ouer himselfe, that he would neuer cease to vse al good meanes that might draw his affections inwardly, & his temporal blessings outwardly, to be ho∣ly bent to honor him▪ whose heauenly dispo∣sition hath cast them vpon him to ye end, be∣sides this: he calleth it his vine, to this end, that he might bring thē to a due considera∣tion of his continuall care ouer them, that so their own cōsciences might conuict thē of the greater ingratitude against his ma∣iesty, and declare them to be worthy of the more heauy iudgemēts which also serueth Page [unnumbered] for our instruction, for if this be a true sai∣ing of Christ our Sauiour, that hee that hath * receiued fiue talents must make his account according to that rate, that is, must gaine to his maister, the encrease of such a quantitie, if he and his reckoning be accep∣ted: & if this be also true, that hee who hath most b debt forgiuen him, ought (in rea∣son) to acknowledge himselfe best beholden vnto the forgiuer, and so loue him more en∣tirelie: then surelie that standeth as an in∣fallible truth, in the eies of the maiestie of God, that the more blessinges wee receiue from his hand, the greater must our obedi∣ence bee vnto him, or els the more intolle∣rable shall our damnation be. Which if it were learned, then should this bee a gene∣rall rule in the worlde, the greater that a man is in riches, wisedome credite, or anie other preferment, the holier, the zealouser, and more obedient vnto God he should be, but while it is not regarded, the clean con∣trarie is practised, that so many thinges as we excell others in, or abound in, so manie occasions do we take to draw vs into sinne, & wickednes, but let such persons (if they will learne anie thing) knowe, that as they haue beene aduaunced higher, in the Page 43 things of this life then others haue, so shall they (for abusing the good blessings of God be throwne downe lower into hell, and re∣ceiue the greater condemnation. Moreo∣uer in that, this vine of the lords own plan∣ting and dressing, is saide to come to such a miserable confusion and ruine, we may first beholde the vnspeake-able hatred that the Lord beareth vnto sinne, who cannot abide it, nor let it goe vnpunished,* no not in hys peculier people whome he made more rec∣koning off, then of all the worlde besides, which if we could see and perceiue, & make profit of it for our selues, we should finde it an exceeding help vnto godlines, & a break∣necke, of all impietie and wickednes: for we see that the most men now-adaies (yea manie of them, that take them selues to bee great gospellers) do but make a very mock of sin, not esteeming it of anie importance, either to do good or harme, but if they haue committed it, laugh it out, or if they can∣not shift it off, an other helpe shall come, God is mercifull: they them selues in the mean while conceiuing no grief at it at al, but if they had learned on the one side, that God doth most infinitlye detest sinne in all men, whose fierce wrath (without repen∣tance) Page [unnumbered] they can neuer hide themselues from: and on the other side, that if they bee the children of GOD, there must be a like∣nes betweene him and them, that those thinges which he loueth without measure, they ought to loue vnfeignedlie, and those thinges that hee hateth with a perfect ha∣tred, they must hate from the bottome of their hearts, or els they canne haue no assu∣rance, that they be any better thā bastards, it would (doubtles) make them to look bet∣ter about them, and haue in more detesta∣tion, all sin and iniquity both in themselues and others.* Secondly we do learne the vn∣appeasable malice, that the wicked do bear to the church of God, for albeit this punish∣ment was a iust iudgement of God vppon the Israelites for their rebellion againste his maiestie, yet the instruments that he v∣sed for the effecting thereof, had no such in∣tent, but did run on head, beeing set on fire with an hatefull spite against them, and a thirsting desire to satisfie their owne affec∣tion: now in that it is said, that they not one∣ly lay it wast, but pill it, make it bare, & cast it down: it appeareth manifestly, that their malice was not satisfied in hurting them, nor spoiling them, nor yet in killing and Page 44 destroying many of them: but stil they pro∣ceeded to the vtter racing out of their me∣mory (as much as in them was) from vn∣der the sunne: and if we looke into the ex∣amples of the word of God, we shall see the same verified in practise from time to time. Pharaoh the king of Egypt, did not onelie impose vpon the Israelites such a burdens as they were not able to bear, but also gaue commandement, that all the male children should be killed, to the end, that within one generation, they might bee rooted out: the malice of the Iewes against Christ, & hys church, appeareth in the historie of the E∣uangelists & Acts, to be so great, that they not onelie pursued him to death, but also o∣ther, that would any way take his part, the dailie experience of the bloud-sucking pa∣pists doth verifie the same: & if any man doe seeme to meruaile whye it shoulde bee so, seeing, that wee bee all the sonnes of A∣dam, and therefore shalbe desirous to aske a reason of it, if he will looke into the holie word of God, hee shall easilie find that the cause therof is this: God hath not ordeined all men to bee saued,* but hath cast off the greatest number in hys eternall displea∣sure to bee vessels of his wrath wyth the Page [unnumbered] Deuill and his angels, all which beeing in this life the vassals of sathan, to put in exe∣cution his auncient emnity against Gods people, are set on fire by him, from time to time, to woorke Christ Iesus (in his mem∣bers) the greatest spite that they can, wher∣vpon it commeth, that the wicked doe from time to time do so much hurt, and beare so vnreconcilable hatred to the godlie: the vse of which doctrine is, that wee neuer pro∣mise vnto our selues anie security heer, but prepare our bodies & soules vnto the batel against sinne, the world, and the Deuill, so long as wee shalbe in this vale of miserie. The hauocke that the enemies make in Israell, dooth clearlie shew vnto vs, what will and courage they came vp withall, to wit, with a hope and purpose to ouercome the whole Lande, and yet a man woulde haue thought (if they hadde but conside∣red the vnspeake-able victories▪ that the Israelites hadde gotten agaynste all theyr enemies of all nations) that they neuer durst haue sette vppon them, least the same cude shoulde befall them, that came vnto the attempters of the like, and so muche the rather, for that it was obserued by the wise men of the Gentiles Page 45 (as appeareth by the woordes of aZe∣resh, the wife of Haman, who told her hus∣band, that if Mordecay were of the seede of the Iewes, before whome hee had be∣gunne to fall, hee shoulde not preuaile, but fall before him) that the people of Is∣raell had alwayes the victorie ouer theyr ennimies in the ende. But their example doth shew vnto vs, the maruellous blind∣nesse of the enimies of the truth, who albe∣it they haue neuer so often the repulse, and receiue neuer so many shamefull ouer∣throwes by setting themselues against the godly, yet they will neuer learne to leaue off, but alwayes go on in the hardnes of their heart (as Pharaoh did) vntill they come to bee drowned in the redde sea of e∣ternal perdition from the presence of god, which is the cause that men go on euen in these last dayes, as earnestly in the course of vngodlinesse, as euer they did. For if time (which maketh men wise by expe∣rience in other thinges) coulde teach the vngodlie any feare of God, or if continual course of Gods vengeance against sinners (some presidentes whereof the eies of all men doe nowe and then beholde) yea, if our owne particular experience could pro∣fite Page [unnumbered] vs any whit that way: the world being now so olde, should haue beene before this time maruellous holie: but the god of this world hauing (aboue all other) fore-closed the eies of the reprobate, that they shoulde not see these things, and also ruling in thē, with that vncessāt hatred (which we heard of before) against the godly, dooth so cun∣ningly blindfold them, that the wiser they shoulde bee (by reason of their time) the worse they wax, and further from al good∣nes.
Now it remaineth that we make one en∣tire aplication of ye whole matter vnto our selues, for our further instruction consider∣ing that a whatsoeuer was written before was written for our learning, and seeing that the Holy-ghost telleth vs, that b these things fell vpon ye Israelites for exampls, and were written to admonishe vs vppon whome the endes of the worlde are come, that the word of the Lord being the vnser∣chable rule of his eternal wil, might tech vnto vs what we are to looke for, either in the performance of his mercies to thē that feare him, or ye execution of his iudgemēts vpon the transgressors of his commaunde∣ments, to the end (then) that this applicati∣on Page 46 may be the more euident,* we are first to lay this foundation, that God remaineth now the same that then he was, the arme of his power to execute his vengeance being no way shortned, & the fountain of his mer∣cie towardes his elect, beeing not drawne dry: secondly, we are to be resolued of this, yt his word is therfore left vnto vs that we may learne out of the same what is his wil (which he wil in his appointed time bring to passe) among men. These two principls being laide, wee must a little consider the maner of the Lordes dealing with the Is∣raelites▪ how it agreeth with his dealing with vs, and so conclude the application vnto our selues. The Israelites hauing had many a blessing bestowed vpon thē (as namely the quiet possession of the lande of Canaan, with the plentiful store of al good things that it yeelded vnto them) were not only taught by the lords messēgers (which hee raised vppe among them from time to time) the true feare of God, and manner howe hee will be worshipped, but also the right vse of those blessings: and wee haue receiued from his handes the like tempo∣rall blessinges (if not greater) and haue been taught and instructed in as plentiful Page [unnumbered] a manner, howe to feare God and imploy his benefites bestowed vppon vs (or if wee haue not, the cause resteth in our selues, that haue refused instructiō, and the means that might haue doubled it amongest vs.) The Israelites beganne to waxe fat wyth the good things of this life, and ouer tur∣ning the sincere worshippe of God, fell to Idolatrie, and all other vngodlie behaui∣our: and wee did long ago beginne to bee at a ease in Syon, and rest vppon the mountaines of Samaria, insomuch that we are nowe approched vnto the seate of all iniquitie, not onely in that, many that ne∣uer sawe the golden calfe in the wilder∣nes, are fallen to the worshippe of the whoore of Rome, but also in that all ini∣quitie doth so preuaile that a generall A∣theisme ouerspredeth the face of the whole land. The Israelites were (by those pro∣phets whome God sent vnto them) repro∣ued for their backesliding, threatned to be plagued by the hand of God, and cryed out of that good land, and also taught how to beginne and proceede in a reformation ac∣ceptable in the sight of God: and we haue (both by the liuelie voice, and writings of Gods ministers) bene reproued the iudge∣ments Page 47 of God denounced out of his worde against vs, and plainely taught out of the same worde, what way to take, both for the appeasing of Gods wrath against our sinnes alreadie committed, and also for taking such a way, as may (indeede) stop vp the spring heades of all the abhomina∣tions in this land. The Israelites were so farre from hearkening to the voice of God by his Prophets, that they intreated them euill, imprisoned, and shamefullie abused them: and wee haue so little profi∣ted by the voice of God sounding in our eares, by the mouths of Gods Ministers, and make so little account of the reforma∣tion offered vnto vs by the mouth of God, that wee conceiue displeasure against the messengers.
The Israelites (when the Lorde sawe that the ministerie of his seruants profited them not) were afflicted with the hand of God, and among other scourges, wyth a scarcitie of bread, which they had inioyed before in great abundance: and wee haue had the hand of God many wayes vppon vs (howsoeuer we haue felt it) and among others, with that scarcity of bread (though not in the like extremitie) that they felt. Page [unnumbered] The Israelites not profiting by this gen∣tle correction from the Lord, but continu∣ing in their vngodly ways without repen∣tance, were threatned to haue their forrein foes inuade them, and vtterly to ouerturne both the state of religion, and the common wealth, subduing the lande vnto intolle∣rable miserie: and we are threatned (I wil not say with whom, nor when, no more thā this Prophet did) with a people as great as they were, as rauenous to deuoure, as desirous of our confusiō, as their foes were of theirs. If then we haue no more to al∣leage for our selues than they had, if wee haue sinned as greeuously as they had, if God haue taken the same course with vs, that he did with them, if we profite as litle by it as they didde, and if hee remaine the same God without changing that then hee did: then let me see who can alleage anie reason why I may not conclude, that as fearefull a destruction approcheth fast vp∣on England as fell vppon them.
*Mourne like a virgine) The Prophet ha∣uing denounced against the Israelites those iudgements which their sinnes had procured against them, and the holy-ghost had put in his mouth to speake of, least that Page 48 now they should proceede in desparate ma∣ner in the committing and encreasing of their sinnes, because there was no waye with them but destruction, he proceedeth now to shewe vnto them the only way that is to be found for thē to take, that they may escape the iudgements which aproched on them, & be freed frō those that they did al∣redy feele.* In that the prophet hauing sim∣ply denounced gods iudgments without a∣ny clause of exception (vnles they repent or any such like) & yet dooth afterward enter into this trety of persuading thē to mourne, we may plainely see the end of the Lordes threatning of vs by his word, through the ministery of his seruāts, not to be our final desolation (vnles wee stop our eares refu∣sing admonishment, & harden our harts, not beleeuing his word) but to the end that we being brought to the sight of our miserable estate by reason of sinne, and of the punish∣ments that we deserue for the same might be rowzed from the delighting in, & loue of any transgression, vnto a true & vnfaigned amendment of our ways, & so into a better condition than before: the which (indeed) causeth ye godly not only to be contented to hear their faults ripped vp, their sins repro¦ued, Page [unnumbered] and the iudgements of God laid open against them, but euen to desire and long after it in such wise that they think them∣selues best edified, when their corruptions be most ripped vp, because they thinke it to be an argument of the Lordes great loue towardes them, who will not onely haue them to professe, beleeue, and take comfort in his truth, but also to be daily more and more conformed vnto the image of his son Christ Iesus, by vnfained obedience vn∣to his lawes. But the vngodly on the o∣ther side) because they cannot a discerne the thinges that are of God, and therefore not perceiue what good the Lorde offereth vnto them, when hee launcheth the festered wounde of their sinnes, with the sharpe knife of the lawe of God, nay because they cannot bee perswaded, that the perticular application of reproofe vnto their seuerall conditions of men, is of God, but onelye proceeding from the fantasticall imma∣gynation or chollericke affection of the speaker, therefore it commeth to passe, that they hearing any thing spoken that semeth to point at them, they storme like mad men and conceiue such a heauie displeasure a∣gainst the speaker, that (if it lie in their Page 49 power) hee shall knowe by their kicking, that they felt themselues pitifully galled: but if they do knowe, or could bee brought to beleeue, that such reproouers bee the instruments of GOD for their good, it woulde make them to be so farre from be∣ing offended with thē, that it would make them esteem of them with such reuerence, as the messengers of so good thinges are woorthie of, but because it worketh these contrarie effectes in men of contrarie dis∣positions, the one beeing a note of a god∣lie heart▪ and the other bewraying a wic∣ked minde; it resteth, that euery one of vs, enter into consideration of our owne estates, tying our seuerall hearts by this touch-stone, whereby wee shall knowe whether wee be of that number which are godlie, or of the sort of them which abhorre the waies of the Lord.
When the Holy-ghost dooth in this place by the mouth of the Prophet exhorts the Israelites to mourne, he meaneth not onely the outward lamentation which is apparant in the eyes of men, but rather that, whereby this mourning is effected, to wit, the sorrow and inward griefe of hart, which they were to conceiue in regarde of Page [unnumbered] the anger of God against them appearing by so manie fearefull effectes: So that the meaning of the Prophet being laid down, it remaineth that wee obserue the things that are to bee noted for our instruction: the first is, the ground wherevppon this lamentation must bee taken vppe, whiche may seeme to be onely in regarde of the temporall punishementes that so heauily pressed them,* which if it were true, then were there no more required at their handes, but onely that which the wicked may easilie, and doe dailye (in the like case) perfourme: for wee see it a common thing, in dailie proofe, that the vngod∣lie (whose felicitie is in this life) being depriued of any worldlie commoditie, doo take it so to heart, as it wringeth (often) from them great sorrowe and lamentati∣on, and yet they no whit the nearer to GOD: so did aEsau, when he sawe that hee had lost the blessing, which con∣tained in it many worldlie priuiledges, it is saide, that hee wept for very sorrowe, and yet b founde hee no place to repen∣tance.
The Holy-ghost (therefore) laieth the foundation of this mourning more deepe, Page 50 and fetcheth it from a further fountaine, which is the meditation of this▪ that they had so misdemeaned themselues, that they had not onely purchased worldlie miserie and desolation to fal vpō them, but (which was muche more greeuous to thinke of) the anger, wrath, and deepe displeasure of that GOD, of whose loue, liberalitie, and protection, they had had so manifolde experience, which is diligently to be mar∣ked, and to be meditated of by euery one of vs in the like case. For albeit it bee a gre•uous thing to bee punished wyth a∣nye miserie in this life, as sickenesse, po∣uertie, disgrace, or any such like. Yet wee remaining in the fauour of GOD, these thinges can not greatly hurt vs, but when it commeth to passe, that these, and whatsoeuer else light vppon vs, proceede from the Lordes wrath and displeasure. Where then shall wee haue anie comfort? Of whome shall wee bee releeued? And what meanes can wee finde out whereby we may be holpen? Surelie none, for all good things come from him, and all places are in his presence, we cā neither in death nor in life hide vs from the fiercenesse of his wrath. And therefore of all things that Page [unnumbered] may greeue vs, this must sitte nearest vnto vs, that wee doo anye way displease his Maiestie, whose goodnesse wee haue so much tasted of, and whose heauy hand is euerie waie so intollerable: and surely, the repentaunce of the godlie, is in this point especially discerned from that of the wicked, for whereas they are drawne to repentaunce by the losse of some carnall pleasure and worldly profite, the godlie are induced therevnto by this, that they haue wandered from him, in whom their chiefe felicitie consisteth, but because the heart of manne is full of subtiltie, and (this beeing a principall grounde of true religion) Sathan dooth easily de∣ceiue manne, perswading him, that hee mourneth aright, when (indeede) it is nothing so, wee are to knowe that the true lamentation which is that not to bee lamented for, approoueth it selfe, both vnto the Lorde, our owne hearts, and vn∣to others, by two such infallible effectes, as will be able to cleare and iustifie the same against all aduersaries whatsoeuer, and those be, first an vnfained and heartie loathing of that former estate which pro∣cured the anger of God against vs, and a Page 51 turning of it into a better, that is, a se∣rious and earnest indeuor to practise those vertues, which are most contrary vnto our former transgressions: and without this, wee plainelie declare our selues either not to mourne, or to doo it with Esaus affec∣ction, which shall profite vs nothing, but to encrease our punishment in more cleare and euident condemnation.
Againe, in that the Prophet hauing shewed the miseries of the land, and after going about to teache them howe to re∣dresse them, perswadeth the people vnto repentaunce, wee learne: that whensoe∣uer the Lord hath conceiued a displeasure against any nation, or any particular con∣gregation, or person, the onely waye to bee reconciled againe, and to returne in∣to his fauour,* is true and vnfained repen∣taunce, or whensoeuer any bee oppressed wyth the burthen of any affliction, where∣with they are greeued (afflictions beeing to vs, the punishements of GOD for sin) the onely sounde remedie against it▪ and meanes to turne it away, is, seeking vnto him that smiteth by humble praier, in the anguishe of thy repenting soule. Which doctrine is diligently to be noted: for as Page [unnumbered] it is the nature of al men when any griefe trobleth them, or any danger hangeth ouer their heads, to indeuor many ways how to be eased, & to vse diuers remedies to preuēt the dangers approching: so is it not in the nature of any man to go about or finde out the right salue for any such kind of sore, & therefore we see it commeth to passe, that some labour to putte from themselues▪ the sence of sorrowe present, or remembraunce of dangers imminent by musicke, •••des, or s•me other pastime (as they terme it) that their mindes being possessed with the vanitie present, maye bee emptied of the griefe, which else shoulde haue possessed them▪ others (persuading themselues to be of inuincible valor) do rest vpon their own wisedome, knowledge, or strength, as on a tower, not able to be ouerthrowne▪ others betake themselues vnto the politike deui∣ses of their worldlie wise acquaintaunce, thinking that to bee a meanes that must needes preuaile: to conclude, all (whose heartes the spirit of grace hath not taught to aspire higher) rest vpon the second cause and leane vnto the worldlie helps that are to be had vnder the sunne. Whereas (in∣deede) they shoulde consider; that all mi∣series Page 52 are the punishements of GOD for sinne, and euerye approching daunger, a messenger of the Lords heauy hand for the same: and that there is no way to satisfie Gods anger but by repentance: and there∣fore that the onely true refuge in anye di∣stresse is to flee vnto him in the greefe of our hearts, crauing pardon for that which hath procured his heauie countenaunce a∣gainst vs, & promising (by the assistance of his gracious spirit) the vnfained indeuour of the amendement of our wayes. But while these things are not thought vppon of many, nor knowne of moe, it commeth to passe▪ that we are smitten oftentimes, & neuer feele it, or if we do, yet conceiue we not whose hand it is, what cause thereof is in our selues, nor to what ende we are tou∣ched, and so become so farre from ma∣king the right vse of it, that it rather hardeneth our heartes, and maketh vs more carelesse, ascribing the same to Na∣ture or Fortune, which wee coulde not wythstande, and not at all to our sinnes,* which we shoulde amende. Lastly, in that they are persuaded by the Prophet vppon the iudgements laid open against them, to mourne, we do learne that the threatning Page [unnumbered] of Gods iudgements against sinne by the ministery of his seruants, is not lightly to be regarded, or easily to be passed ouer, but so to be applied vnto our owne heartes, as that the consideration of them doe effect vs in such manner, that it may woorke in vs a sorrowing of heart, and mourning of soule, yea though they be such iudgements as wee our selues (by the mercie of God) shall be sure to escape, for if our hearts be framed vnto that sympathie and fellowe feeling that one member hath of anothers condition, then must the myseries of our brethren (yea though they bee onely bre∣thren according to the flesh) so greeue vs, as the meditation therof do leaue that im∣pression of the greefe in vs, which maye inforce vs in the feruencie of our spirites, to powre out our praiers vnto the Lord in their behalfe: then much rather must wee take heede, that when those threatnings are vttered, whereof wee our selues are guiltie, that we be not senselesse, and (as the greatest number doe) carelesly lette it passe: for those mē must needs be in a fear∣full plight, who are not moued with those things whereat the very diuelles do quake and tremble.
Page 53Like a virgin girded, &c.*) To the end that the prophet might inforce this mourning the more effectually, he vrgeth it by a com∣parison, that is more familiar, euen vnto naturall men, which is, that this mourning which they are to take vp, in regard of the miseries that they feele, and are to look for, must not bee a slight touch of heart, easilie conceiued, and quicklie passed awaie, but it must bee like vnto that which the virgin is affected withall, who beeing be-couched in hir youth vnto an husband whome shee dooth dearelie loue, and settling hir affecti∣ons vpon him aboue all men in the world, reioycing in the hope of that societie where in shee is to liue with him all the daies of hir life, hath him suddenlie taken from hir, and all hir expectation beeing dissappoin∣ted, shee is driuen into an exceeding ago∣nie, and griefe of minde, which woundeth hir so wofullie, as anie earthlie thing, can anie man in the worlde. Nowe (saith the prophet) this goeth verie near hir, and your miserie must as deepelie affect you: so that this beeing the meaning of the prophet: it remaineth, that we see what profitable in∣structions, this same comparison affordeth vnto vs: First albeit the comparison, bee Page [unnumbered] brought to inforce the sorrow of the Isra∣elites, yet the proportion thereof vnto the matter in hande is to bee weighed, which also carrieth not the least force, in the vr∣ging of the thing: for it is an vsual thing in the scriptures, to compare the Lord and his church,* vnto the husband & the spouse, both in regard of that nearnes which it hath ple∣sed the Lord to make betwixt himselfe, and hir, as also in respect of the loue and liking of the one vnto the other: now this compa∣rison dooth first of all conuict the Isra∣elites of most heinous and horrible ingrati∣tude, for that the Lorde finding them in such wofull case as the prophe•*Ezechi∣ell doth tell vs he did, and hauing aduaun∣ced them to so high a dignitie as to make them euen his own darling, that they shold so monstrouslie requite him with vnthank∣fulnes, as to fall from him, and go a wh••∣ring after their owne waies: for we all of vs easilie condemn that wife, who (the hus∣band making choice of hir aboue all other women) shall refuse him & be take hir selfe to a stranger, but especiallie if he being a king, of royall maiesty, shall (finding hir no better than a beggars brat▪) aduaunce her 〈◊〉 the estate of a Queene • if shee do not Page 54 loue him, reuerence him, obey hym, and bee euerie waie pliable vnto his will, wee all of vs will easilie say that shee is vnwor∣thie to liue, much more vnwoorthie of that high and glorious dignitie: and euen so it fareth with vs, wee professe our selues to bee the church of God, and therefore looke to bee pertakers in those priueleges which God bestoweth vpon the same, he found vs in the state of damnation, of his owne free mercie, hee begate vs againe by the woord of trueth, and hath sette vs into the glori∣ous libertie of the sonnes of God, ioyning vs in the inheritance with his onely sonne: Now if wee shall by our wicked liues anie waie staine that glorie that hee hath be∣stowed vpon vs, if our conuersation be not euerie waie answerable vnto that thanke∣full loue, feare, and obedience which hee requireth at our handes, then shall wee be found guiltie (euen our owne mouths con∣demning vs) of the most heynous rebelli∣on, and most horrible ingratitude, that can bee committed amongest the sonnes of men: And therefore wee haue great need to looke more circumspectlie vnto our wayes, that our steppes bee straight in the wayes of Godlinesse, for the blessings Page [unnumbered] of God (with the imbracing of his gospel) are so many & so great, that if they draw vs not to an vnfained holines of life, they shall rise vp against vs at the day of iudgement, as so many witnesses to iustifie, and so ma∣nye iust accusers to aggrauat and encrease our condemation, the drift of this compari∣son, is to vrge them vnto a deepe, and vn∣feigned griefe of hart for sinne, wherby we learne, that we must haue it in a high dete∣station, loathing & abhorring it in all men, but especiallie in our selues, and greeuing at the committing of it in any, laboring by all the good meanes wee maye to staye the streames of it, and where we cannot, to bee grieued at the very hart at it, which lesson, though euery one will acknowledge to bee true, yet very few do in any measure put it in execution, but rather clean contray, ma∣king but a test of sinne, as though it caried no inconueniences with it, but the Lord in this place teacheth al them that will be in∣structed by him out of his blessed woord, to haue it in more detestation, and when it is committed, to bee more sensiblie affected with griefe for it, then for anie other thing in the world: the which is further to bee learned in the consideration of this compa∣rison, Page 55 for when he biddeth thē mourn like a virgin for the husband of hir youth, it is as much as if he should saie, you haue as great cause to mourne as euer any such virgines haue, for you haue lost as great a losse and greater, as anie of them can, thereby decla∣ring, that their disobedience had so ascen∣ded into the eares of the Lorde of hostes, that it had procured a a diuorce between him and them: for as the Lorde matcheth his church vnto him selfe in righteousnes, and in iudgement, and in mercie, and com∣passion: so when wee fall to iniquitie, and forgetting the Lord, fall to do those things that seeme good in our own eies, then is it the nature of those sinnes to be bseperate betwixt God and vs, and to hide his face that hee will not heare: and therefore, see∣ing, that it depriueth vs of al the blessings of God, and procureth his anger and dis∣pleasure against vs, what cause haue we to bid battaile against it, all the daies of our life, and to hate it, aboue all thinges that wee hate most, seeing, that it is of that na∣ture, to depriue vs of euery good thing, and to wrappe vs in all miserie and desolation.Page [unnumbered]
The fourth sermon.
Verse. 9. The meat offering and the drinke-offering is cutte off from the house of the Lord, the priests the lords ministers mourn.
Verse. 9. The meat offering and the drinke-offering is cutte off from the house of the Lord, the priests the lords ministers mourn.
THe meat-offering, &c.) Hauing shewed the sorrowe that they were to conceiue,* in regard of the heauy hand of God vppon them, and also the maner how it was to bee increased by the comparison of the virgin mourning for the husbande of hir youth, and knowing that this true and vnfeigned re∣pentaunce, is hardly perswaded vnto fleshe and bloud, because naturallie wee like not of it, he proceedeth now to lay open the cau∣ses, that were yet further to induce them therevnto: the first whereof consisteth in the consideration of the miserye that was vpon them in regard of the temple, and the publike seruice of God: for when he sayth, The meat-offering and drinke-offering is cutte off from the house of the Lord, his meaning is as much as if hee should say▪ haue you not great cause to mourne and lament? seeing that the temple which is your glory amōg the nations, and the daily sacrifices where∣with you daily serued God there, shall by Page 56 reason of the ruin that your foes shall bring vpon the land, bee so left desolate and forsa∣ken, that there shalbe no resorting thither, with any meate-effrings & drink-offrings: 〈◊〉 this wofull state did fall vpon them be∣cause of their transgressions, & disobedience vnto the word of God, which teacheth vnto vs this doctrine, that when, or whersoeuer, the publik profession of the gospel decaieth, or the gifts of the ministery wither away,* or the labor of gods seruants become fruit∣les, it ariseth from the disobediēce and vn∣godly behauiour of the people, it springeth from this, that they for whose instruction ye lord hath erected ye ministery of his gospel, reiecting the food of their soules offred vn∣to them, do acount themselues a vnworthy of eternal life, which doctrine is diligently to bee obserued: for it is now euery where the iust complaint of al that haue any sight into religion: that the profession of there∣of dooth decaie, the lyking thereof is in so few mens hearts, that Atheisme and pope∣rie is in more request euery wher then true religion, which is true: again it is the com∣plaint of many, that the word is not of that power in the mouth of ye ministers thereof▪ yt it hath bin hertofore, which also is to true.
Page [unnumbered]But where is the fault▪ no doubt, Satan is not to bee excused, that slaundereth the truth, nor his instruments to be accounted giltlesse, that could stop the passage of the same: but if we could learn the lesson which the holie ghost teacheth the Israelites in this place, we should say, let vs mourne for that our sinnes haue caused the meat-offe∣ringes and drinke-offeringes to cease from the house of our God, that is, the passages of true religion to be stopped, that it flowe∣eth not vnto vs in such streames as it hath doone heeretofore, and doth at this daie vn∣to others, for why should we think that the sinnes of the reprobate, ordeined to destruc∣tion,* should anye way hinder or further the proceedings of the gospell: for whether it bee taught, or buried in silence, whether it flowrish, or be extinguished, it is no matter to them: it is therefore the sinnes of the people of god, that dammeth vp the procee∣ding of the truth: for euen as it was a mat∣ter no waye appertaining to the nation which GOD threatneth by his prophet to come vpon the land of Israel, whether the lords worship in the temple florished or no: but was a thing perticularlie belonging vnto the Iewes, Gods chosen nation, and Page 57 it was not their sinnes, but the sins of the Israelites, that procured the decaie there∣of: euen so it is in the Church of God for euer, the sinnes of the vngodlie, and those that are without, doe neuer cause the Lord to ouerturne, or giue smal successe vnto his owne ordinance, but the transgressions of those who hauing receiued the woord of life, doe not frame their hearts within, and conuersation without, according to the rule of the same, this made the prophet aIere∣mie to tell them of Iudah, that their sins had turned away Gods blessings, and their transgressions turned good thinges from them, the Propet Isaiah like-wise telleth them b that their sinnes were the cause, that iudgement was turned backward, and iustice stood a farre off, that truth was fal∣len in the streets, and equitie could not en∣ter. And therefore, let vs neuer poste the fault ouer to anie other, as Adam did vnto Eu••, if any thing bee not as it should be, but let vs laye the fault where it is, to wit, in our owne sinnes: for assuredlie, if wee could in the vnrighteousnesse of our hearts, consent together amongest our selues,* and with one accord seeke the aduauncement of Gods glorie. First in our selues, and Page [unnumbered] then in others: What wicked man? what Pope? What Deuill shoulde bee able to withstand vs? and therefore haue we iust cause to mourne when wee see the prea∣ching of the Gospell cutte off from the peo∣ple, and the power thereof lessened that it conuerteth not where it is preached, see∣ing that our owne sinnes bee the cause of al these, with manie more abhominations: For the zeale of the people to receiue and practise the trueth, dooth open the mouth, inlarge the heart, and furnish the minister of GOD with graces in great aboun∣daunce, that may make his woorde more powerfull vnto them: whereas on the o∣ther side, their sinnes, and colde attendance therevnto, doe freeze his affections, and stoppe his mouth, that hee cannot speak vnto them wyth that maiestie, that so glo∣rious a message requireth. Againe, by this sequell following, vpon the warres in Israell, that the dailie offerings should bee cutte off, wee learne, that of all the trou∣bles, and afflictions that befall vnto the Church of GOD, warres bee the grea∣test enemie vnto the publike profession of religion:* for though it be true, that as all other trialls, so this maketh the godly more Page 58 feruent▪ and stirreth them vppe to more feeling then they hadde in the time of their prosperitie and peace, yet, such is the con∣tradiction betwixt warres and the open profession of religion, that they do hardlie stande together, but especialie if the eni∣mies therof preuaile, then proue they the bane of it, and though they do not, yet such is the hurt that it receiueth thereby, as it is longe before it recouer the former con∣dition: For a good course beeing once in∣terrupted, is hardlie renewed: So many hynderaunces can Sathan inuent, and so readie is our nature to take vppe euerie lette, and alleadge it for an excuse, be∣sides that, because it is the nature of man: first to prouide for his owne * steeled house, though the Arke of GOD dwell betweene the curtaines, that is, to haue greater care of hys priuate estate: then of the publique benefite of others, espe∣ciallie in matters of Religion: and yet when troubles arise in a nation, the first thyng that is discontinued, is Religion: Therefore it is, that Warres bee so greate an enemye therevnto: Then it shoulde followe of the contrarie, that peace should begette the most perfect building Page [unnumbered] of the kingdoome of Christ, and so should wee bee the most glorious that waie: but alasse, though it should bee so, yet it is fal∣len out cleane contrarie, for wee haue im∣ployed our selues in this time of our quiet∣nesse to build our selues strong in sinne, and to fortifie our hearts against the entraunce of anye good thing, so that in steade of the grapes, that our vine being so dressed shold haue brought foorth, we haue yeelded sow∣er a grapes, and such as causeth the Lord to threaten the casting downe of the hedge, the ouerthrowe of the wine-presse, and the vtter ruine of the whole vineyard: howe much better had it beene for vs (if God had so beene pleased) if wee had beene left with the rest of our breathren, and good neigh∣bours round about vs, vnto the winde and wether, that our faith might the more haue bene purged, and our zeale made more fer∣uent: and not placed in this settled securi∣tie (as a standing people) which gathereth vnto it, and reteineth all kind of filth and corruption: let vs nowe consider (a lit∣tle) the reason which the Prophet vseth, to see whether it bee of force sufficient to perswade them to mourne, and it may seem that it is not: for the meat-offeringes and Page 59 drinke-offeringes that were brought into the temple, were either consecrated vnto the fire, or (for the most part) allotted vnto the priestes, and therefore this reason see∣meth to reach no further then onelie vnto them, that were to minister in the temple, because their liuings did decaie: but wee must note, that he meaneth not onelie that they should mourne because their ministers lacked liuing, (albeit, euen that is a iust cause, for the people of God to mourne) but especiallie hee had regard vnto the exercise of the ministerie in the temple, which con∣cerned both the glorie of God, and the sal∣uation of their own soules, and then the re∣son is in effect thus muche: there is great cause you should mourne, seing not onelie, the meanes wherby your soules haue bene fed, is taken away, but also the maner how the honor of God hath bin made more glo∣rious among you then in any other nation vnder the sunne. And surely the reason (vn∣to all those that haue anye sparkle of grace in them) is very forcible, for seing it is eui∣dent by manie places of the scripture, that the principall ende of our creation, is, that wee might with all possible endeuour, set forth the glory of God, it must follow that Page [unnumbered] when hee is glorified by vs in deede, wee must reioyce aboue all other things wher∣of we may take pleasure in this worlde: a∣gaine, the principall ende of our creation, and redemption (in respect of our selues) being the saluation of our soules, when the meanes to drawe vs therevnto bee (by the the mercie of God) bestowed vppon vs, it ought to affect our hearts with more glad∣nes, then anye other thing that can befall vnto vs: but when it shall come to passe, that the passage for both these shalbe stop∣ped vp, that is, that the greatest helpe for the aduancement of his glorie, and the at∣taining vnto the saluation of our soules, is taken away: what cause haue we then, to take delight in any thing vnder the sunne, but euen to wishe that our eyes may bee made a fountaine of teares, that wee may thorowly bewayle our miserable estate,* and so passe out our time in lamentation and sorrow. There is no question, vnto thē that see anye thinge, whether the publike ministerie of the gospell in the puritie and sinceritie thereof, be this principall means whereof we speake▪ and therefore we are to make this vse of this doctrine vnto our selues, that whensoeuer the Lorde shal re∣mooue, Page 60 or threaten to extinguish the same, it being the chiefe thing that we can inioy in this life, and our sinnes being the onely cause of the remouing of the same, it must sit (of all other things) most neare vnto vs, and draw our hearts vnto the greatest sor∣row: and (doubtles) it dieth so in them that haue receiued any feeling of the sweetnes of the same: for they know what heauenly consolations are to be learned out of it, and in what wofull case they be that are depri∣ued of it.
What miserable condition bee they then in, that are so farre from taking this course, or being of this minde, that they bende all their powers both of their mindes and bodies, to extinguish and race out of memorie, that inestimable treasure of Gods holye woorde, and neuer thinke themselues in good estate, vntill they haue defaced the same? surely if the aduaunce∣mente of it bee an argumente of a care to honour GOD, and to haue thine owne soule saued, then the disanullinge, or desi∣ring the ouerthrowe thereof, is a fearefull token, that thou neyther carest for the glo∣ry of God, nor the saluation of thine owne soule, but rather (for that thou settest Page [unnumbered] thy selfe against the meanes of them both) art a professed enemie both to God & thine owne saluation. If those that are such eni∣mies vnto the preaching of the word, were perswaded, that this were true of them, they woulde looke more carefullie about them, weying in what state they stand, but while they go on in the contempt of all in∣strucion, and consider not that they con∣temne the Lord of hostes, and destroy their owne soules, it commeth to passe, that they passe on blind-fold vnto their own destruc∣tion.
The Priests the Lords ministers do mourne) these words conteine in them a second rea∣son to perswade them to mourne, which is thus: there is great cause that you should all mourne and lament, seeing they whom I haue made your guydes, in the matters of religion, who know more then you doe, and who are to haue that estimation a∣mong you, which becommeth messengers of so great affayers frō so mightie a prince,* do go heauily, & take vp a lamentation, out of which reason, ye prophet doth teach vnto vs this lesson, that the ministers of ye land, whom he hath placed ouer a people, are by the same people diligētly to be obserued, & Page 61 their affections to bee imitated by those whom they are sent to instruct, for in this reson ye Lord saith vnto them mourne you, because the Lordes Ministers do mourne, as if he should saye, marke them well that I haue set ouer you: and in all things that are not vnlawfull, frame your selues ac∣cording vnto them, the reason of the same is this: God appointing his minister to be his owne mouth vnto his people, reuea∣leth vnto him all that his will, whiche hee would haue them to know. And againe, he being a watchman vnto the people, stand∣eth aloft in the tower, and espieth a farre off the enimies that are a comming and gi∣uing the people a signe therof, they receiue it, and demeane themselues accordingly, or els are worthily set vpon by their enimies of a sudden, and ouerthrowne: so that the minister knowing more than the people of the will of GOD, and seeing the iudge∣ments of GOD approching, when the people (otherwise very godly) can not de∣serue them, it is meete that they so ob∣serue his course, as if he take vp a mour∣ning, it is because of the euil that he seeth approching vpon them, and therefore they are to mourne also, to the end, that by their Page [unnumbered] vnfained ioyning together in repentance, they may meete the Lorde by the waye, and preuent his iudgementes, that else shoulde haue light vppon them. Againe, in that he willeth them to mourne because the Lordes Ministers do so:* we do learne that that people among whome the Mini∣ster of GOD hath cause geuen to be gree∣ued, haue iust cause to bee greeued them∣selues, whether it doo arise from that badde entertainement that hee hath a∣mong them, or from that carelesse atten∣daunce that they giue vnto the doctrine of the trueth taught them by him, in both which respectes our Sauiour Christe she∣weth the causes: for in regarde of the person hee saith: * Hee that refuseth you refuseth mee, as if hee shoulde saye, that entertainement which they giue to you, who represent my person vnto them, I take to bee geuen vnto my selfe, and nei∣ther more nor lesse. And in respecte of the doctrine hee saith: * When you en∣ter into a house, abide there, and if the sonne of peace bee there, your peace shall abide with him, but if not, it shall re∣turne vnto you againe: and whosoeuer shal not receiue you, nor heare your wordes, Page 62 when you depart thence, shake off the dust of your feete. Surely, I saye vnto you, it shall be easier for them of the land of So∣dome and Gomorrha in the day of iudge∣ment than for that citie. The reasons then are thus to bee gathered, they that giue Gods Minister cause of greefe a∣mong them, doe it either in the euill en∣treating of his person, or reiecting of his doctrine: but if they receiue not his per∣son with the entertainement due to the messenger of god, they refuse Iesus Christ, and if they refuse his doctrine, the dust of his feete that brought vnto them glad ty∣dings of peace,* shall be a witnesse against them.
And therefore haue that people, who by either of these meanes make GODS Minister heauie hearted iust cause to sor∣rowe, for that the misery which gree∣ueth him shall one daye light vppon them. If this were considered, and the trueth thereof perswaded vnto our consciences, coulde wee (thinke you) offer vnto them that villanie which wee doe, by slaun∣ders, reproches, disgraces, and all kinde of molestations? Coulde wee suf∣fer them to liue amongest vs like beggars Page [unnumbered] for want of maintenance, while they a make vs rich with the heauenlie treasure of Gods holy worde? No, no, it woulde make vs so affected to them, as the Gala∣thians were to saint Paule, who b if it had beene possible would haue plucked out their owne eies, to haue giuen them vnto him: it would make vs learne, c that he who is instructed in the word, should make him that teacheth him partaker of all his goodes: or coulde wee (thinke you) make a marte of the doctrine taught by them, re∣fusing to giue it the hearing? Or if we do determine before hand, not to beleeue it, sauing so farre as it pleaseth our humour, no it is not possible, but rather it woulde make vs, with all zealous care attend vnto the voice of God speaking to vs by them: pray to God continually, to teache vs the vnderstanding of the same, and to inde∣uour vnfainedly to put in execution what∣soeuer appeareth vnto vs to bee enioyned from the mouth of the Lorde. I am per∣suaded, that among many our sinnes that crie to the Lorde for vengeance vppon vs, this is not the least, that the true Mini∣sters of God, and indeede the doctrine of the trueth taught by them, haue so manie Page 63 snubs, and discouragements: and on the o∣ther side, they that prophecie vnto vs of wine and strong drinke, and speake vnto vs pleasant things, are had in such estima∣tion, and their lying vanities so highlie regarded: wherein is truelie performed that euill that Solomon sawe a in hys time, that follie is set in great excellencie and the rich set in lowe place. Well, the land hath cause to mourne that giueth the Ministers of God occasion of sadnes.
The field is wasted) In these woords the Prophete sheweth yet an other reason to induce them vnto mourning,* which is an∣nexed vnto the former, as a thing, thoughe (in it selfe) not greater, yet by reason of mans corruption, who feeleth the wantes of his body sooner than of his foule, it is that which woulde more sensibly be felt, in which wordes hee reasoneth thus: Albeit neither the decay of religion, nor the sor∣rowe of Gods Ministers doe mooue you to mourne, yet (if you doe looke well into your estate) there is a miserie comming vpon you, which wil touch you verie neer∣ly, and that is, your fruitefull and pleasant fieldes, shall be so laide waste, that euen the very ground shall mourne and lament, Page [unnumbered] to see her encrease so consumed, for the corne, the wine, and the oile (which are the chiefe yeeld in the lande, and the fruits which, you stand in greatest neede of) pe∣rish and come to nothing. Out of whiche wee learne first this lesson, that those whome neither the care of Gods glorie by the flourishing of true religion,* nor the saluation of their owne Soules, by the preaching of the trueth, will anie thing mooue at all, are yet (often) by the iust iudgement of GOD, brought vnto the sence and feeling of their miserie by the remoouing of those things, that their af∣fections are most setled vppon: the which, (if we looke into the word of God) is ma∣nifest vnto vs by diuerse exampls, aCain that wicked murtherer, when hee would neither be moued with the voice of GOD speaking to him from heauen, nor the in∣nocencie of his brother, iustified vnto him, to refraine from his diuellish purpose: the Lorde sette a marke of such ignominie vp∣on him, as made him euen by hys guiltie conscience thinke that all men abhorred him. All the wicked (of whome we reade from the beginning to the ending of the booke of GOD) haue euer reiected the Page 64 woord of truth, that they might with more free libertie delight in the pleasures of sinne: but the LORD, hath euer in the ende, either remooued from them those thynges which possessed theyr myndes, and kept them from Godlinesse, or (which is more) inflycted vppon them the earnest of his eternall displeasure: the which is dili∣gentlie to bee noted, (that wee maie make our profite of it) for if wee could learne it, and bee trulie perswaded of it, wee shoulde heare with more reuerence, and o∣beye wyth greater obedience, the holye woord of the Lorde our GOD. What is the cause that maketh men so lightlie to esteeme,* that heauenly course of life which the Gospell propoundeth vnto vs, but one∣lie this: that thorowe the corruption of their owne hearts, and seducementes of Sathan: They haue framed vnto them∣selues, some course of life, and promised to their owne hearts some present blessed∣nesse, whych can not stande wyth the practise of sincere Godlinesse: Nowe if thys could bee dryuen into their heades, that there is nothing wherein wee canne haue anye safetye or true happynesse, when the woord of the Lorde is disobeyed, Page [unnumbered] it woulde make them aboue all thinges seeke vnto it, that they might learne out of the same, that true and vnfained attone∣ment with God, whereby the lawfull frui∣tion and delight in the thinges of this life, might bee possessed by them wyth more peace: but whilest they neuer once inter∣taine any such cogitation, but rather, on the contrary part thinke, ye religion bring∣eth with it these and these inconueniences, depriueth of such and such commodities, and abandoneth manye of those pleasures that they cannot leaue, it commeth to passe that they are so farre from thinking well of godlinesse, as they bid battell vnto it, as if it were their greatest foe, to the end (as they falsely persuade themselues) that they may bee the more safe in their sinfull pur∣pose. But (poore soules) if they coulde learne, or be perswaded of that which both Gods worde, and daily experience laieth before our eies, that the Lord will be sure to crosse that course which is anie waie ta∣ken in hand, to the impairing of his glory, (yea which hindereth vs from being gree∣ued at it when other impare it) they would alwaies labour to learne that lesson taught by our Sauiour Christ, a first seeke the Page 65 kingdome of God, and his righteousnesse, and then all these things shal be ministred vnto you. Againe, in that the Prophet pre∣sently vpon the ouerthrow of religion doth speake of the misery of the land, as a pre∣sent sequele vpon the former, wee learne, that wheresoeuer the honor of God in the building of his church, by the ministery of his woorde decaieth, or is hindered,* there dooth followe desolation and miserie to that common-wealth. For seeing that the glorie of God is the end for which he hath ordained people to be ruled by magistrats, which glorie is no way aduaunced but by the gospell. And seeing that the Lord saith plainly, a that kings raigne by him, and it is he that b giueth peace and maketh war, sendeth plenty, & pincheth with penu∣rie: to conclude, seeing that God ordained, that euen c kings should be foster fathers, & queens nursing mothers vnto the church of God, & therfore commanded them dto kisse his son Iesus Christ, least he waxing angry, they perish in the way it must needs be that that cōmon-wealth which is foun∣ded vpon any other ground-work, than on∣lie true religion, must needs come to ruine and desolation▪ which doctrine is diligent∣ly Page [unnumbered] to bee obserued, especiallie in these our daies, wherein the moste blasphemous conclusions, and pestiferous platformes of that Italian helhound Machiauell,* are so reputed of and esteemed, that he onely is reckoned a right politist, that frameth his course after his rules, and who so doth not iumpe with him, is esteemed no man of state, (as they bee termed) nor worthye to rule in the lowest place of anie gouerne∣ment: and yet doth he esteeme as much of religion, as of Aesopes fables: wherevpon it commeth that one chiefe principle wyth the Machiauilites is Athisme, or refusal of all religion further then maye serue their turns, for the better effecting of their prac∣tises. And whereas it may bee sayde, that manie common-wealths haue flourished, whose law-giuers neuer knew God, as the Lacedemonian, Grecian, and Romane, gouernements: I answere, that for a time, they did seeme to be glorious, and quicklie vanished away: but (indeed) there was no such matter in them, for not euerie gouern∣ment,* whose Princes are victorers, & gret∣ly honoured of men, is flourishing (for then should the popedome, then which none was euer more tyrannicall, be reckoned in the Page 66 same rank) but that is truly to bee so estee∣med, whos subiects in general, & perticular do enioy the benefit therof, as well as their nobles & princes, but he that marketh wel, shall see that the most florishing state that can be without the aduancement of true re∣ligion, though it haue many outward titles of glory in the face of men, yet doth it gall ye hearts, & grieue the soules of the best peo∣ple, that liue vnder the fame, and shal in the end (albeit God may suffer it to grow for a time) bring in vtter hauock and miserable confusion: the which wee see also verified in perticular men, for manie seeme in most nottable manner, to growe great in thys lyfe, some in honour, some in riches, some in one preferment, some in another, the foot-steppes of whose excellencie (if you looke into theyr posteritie) are scarse to bee found: Nowe from what ground shall wee saye that thys did arise, but euen hence, that the foundation was not layed in the Lorde, the kingdoome of GOD was not first sought and conscience groun∣ded vppon true Religion, did not direct thē in the course which they tooke, but they would seeme to growe great, whether the Lorde woulde or no, and therefore in the Page [unnumbered] continuaunce of their building, he letteth them see their owne follie at the begin∣ning.
The vse then of all this whiche is saide, (if wee haue anie care to profite by religion in deede) is first in generall for whole peoples, nations, and kingdomes, that if euer they looke to haue such a setled estate as shall be vnmooueable, then must they build it vpon mount Sion, that is, they must lay the first stone of the foundation in true religion, by the sincere establishment of the same, for god cannot away with that building, whose arch-piller & corner stone his son Christ Iesus is not: and secondly, it is for the instruction of euery particu∣lar man, that seeing wee do all desire our owne good, and the benefite of our poste∣ritie, that wee haue this care aboue all things, that we aduaunce true religion in our owne heartes, and in the heartes of our children, making it the principall care that we haue, and then in all other thinges to go no further than the rules thereof wil permit vs, either in the matter that wee take in hande, or in the manner howe wee doe it, which is, the onelie way that the Lord prescribed to the Israelites for their Page 67a wealth and good of their posteritie after them. If this lesson were learned, it woulde make these greedie and coue∣tous worldlinges that thinke the tyme spent ill which is bestowed in the hear∣ing and learning of the woorde of GOD, more carefull to attend vppon the same: but while they esteeme Religion a neede∣lesse thing, and thinke they shall do well enough, though they neuer looke into it, (all one in effect, as if they should thinke to doo well enough whether GOD will or no) it commeth to passe, that they pros∣pering for a time, receiue that successe, which such vngodly proceedings do iustlie deserue.
Be yee ashamed O yee husbandmen) The Prophet hauing perswaded them vnto lamentation for their miseries,* and en∣forced the same by diuerse effectuall rea∣sons, because that it is a harde matter to frame the heart of manne vnto that true repentaunce, whiche is required at hys hande: hee entreth nowe into a more nar∣rowe waye, and applieth hys speaches whiche before were generall, vnto parti∣cular estates: and firste hee beginneth with the husbandman, laying before hys Page [unnumbered] eies the particular miseries that he should feele.
Now in that the Prophet hauing laid open their miserie so plainely, as none coulde exempt him selfe, but euerye one must needes be touched, doth yet notwith∣standing enter into a more particular ap∣plication.* We are to consider what should be the cause thereof, for we may not think that it was for lacke of other matter (as the wicked thinke of Gods Ministers in the like case) nor, that the people were well enough taught that point before, for then had hee spoken in vaine: but it was (doubtlesse) to teach them, and vs, and all the godlie for euer, that it is meete and conuenient, if wee looke for anie profite by the ministerie of Gods worde, or would haue his Ministers deale substantiallye wyth vs for our good, that not onelye they tell vs the trueth in generall, but also ap∣plie it so neerelie vnto vs, that euery one of vs haue no way to shift the doctrine from being specially spoken to our selues, for such is the backwardnes of our nature, and vnwillingnes to make aplication vn∣to our selues, that if we can finde any star∣ting-holes, or any shifts to remoue it from Page 68 vs, it shall take no hold on vs, to do vs anie good.
Wherevppon it commeth to passe (as we see by daily experience) that whensoe∣uer we heare any sin reproued in generall termes, or the iudgements of God denoun∣ced against the same, wee are very readie to applie it vnto others, and to saye, hee meaneth by such a one, or this was a good lesson for such and such people (albeit he be as neerely touching himselfe) neuer en∣tring into his owne heart, to make vse of it for his proper instruction: the Lord ther∣fore knowing our wants this way, and (in his mercy) intending vnfainedly our good, hath prouided a remedie against the same, in the ministerie of his seruaunts, putting not onely his worde in their mouths to de∣liuer vnto his people, but also giuing them the worde of wisedome, whereby they may applie it according to the circumstaunces of time, place, and person, vnto euerye estate and condition, to the ende, that ei∣ther they might be soundly brought home vnto him, or else al colour of excuse might be taken away from them.
Againe, in this application the Prophet nameth one kinde of people, and leaueth Page [unnumbered] the rest, because it were very tedious to write euerye particular calling: but the cause why (of all the common-wealth) hee nameth the husbandmen may seeme to bee this, for that they might perswade them∣selues to bee furthest from that miserye which he had spoken of, because that (if a∣nye fruite of the earth at all were to bee had) they being the owners thereof, would first serue them-selues, and therefore might (as fleshe and blood would easilye teache them) saye, let them mourne that want, for wee are likest to shift of all o∣thers, seeinge they can haue nothing but our reuersion and leauinges: to the ende that they might also put that in practise which (from the mouth of the Lord (he had enioyned vnto all, he speaketh vnto them by name, whereby we learne first this les∣son, that those, who hauing greater aboun∣dance then others in time of a common ca∣lamitie,* doe labour onely to prouide for themselues, and are carelesse and harde hearted to them that are in need, the Lord will increase that punishement vntill it take holde also vpon them, or els send some other, which they shalbe sure to haue their part in with ye depest, which lesson is wor∣thy Page 69 to be learned, for it is to cōmon a thing with men, that the greatest prouide onely for them selues, and euerie man (as the saying is) to see to one, in the meane while little care is had ouer them that cannot see to them selues, yea I appeale vnto euerie mans conscience, whether (in this time of scarcitie) hee hath not had this cogitation often, in his head: I hope I shall prouide for my selfe, and mine owne familie: I trust I shall haue sufficient for mine own turne, and then I care not: but if we would learn the right vse of this doctrine, wee must say in such a case, GOD hath straightned his hand among vs, partly to see howe wee of more wealth will open ours to them that neede, and partlie to see how carefull wee will bee to make the best, for many, of that which is in the possession of a few, and ther∣fore are we carefully to aduise how we may remedie that want which is among vs, and not (as is the maner of the most) make the dearest times serue our turnes beste, and seeke to grow rich by the miseries of ma∣nie, for if we do so, wee shall heare such a voice as GOD vttereth vnto this people: that he will send a punishment that shalbe sure to touche vs, because wee had no re∣morse Page [unnumbered] nor pittie ouer the want of our pore brethren:* Secondlie it teacheth vnto vs this lesson, that when the Lorde meaneth to punishe a nation, hee will not (of all o∣ther) suffer them to escape, that pretende moste priuileges to exempte them selues from the same, as for example, in this case of the Iewes generall hauock is threatned to all, but by name, vnto the husband-men, who might haue manye thinges to say for them selues: but (if you note it well) it fal∣leth out to be especialy grieuous vnto such by the iust iudgement of God, for when the Lord sent famine vpon the land, (no doubt) there were many among them that beeing of more wealth then others, were hard har∣ted towards them, nowe the second punish∣ment comming to mooue them, whome the former could not, of all other it must needs lay hold vpon them, & surely this fitteth vs in these our daies merueilous well, for if yt shold ensue, this want of bread, which was threatned to come vppon the Israelites, should the rych (thinke you) whose hearts are pyttilesse to their brethren bee spa∣red? no, no, the hungrie souldiour, that fighteth for the spoyle, will bee sure (of all other) to ransacke hym, because there Page 70 is more hope of bootie, then with the pore man that is in extremitie, and then maie the rich man saye that against himselfe, whiche hee woulde neuer beleeue before: this is gods iust iudgemēt vpon me, for my hard heart against the needy, that because I hadde no care to let hym haue something of that which GOD hath giuen mee in plentifull manner, when hee was dryuen into exstremitie: he hath iustlie sent vppon mee these spoilers, who shall haue no pittie ouer mee, and therefore let vs bee carefull to demeane our selues religiouslie in thys time of the Lordes gentle warning▪ least wee prouoking hys Maiestie vnto dis∣pleasure, purchase vnto our selues, those iudgementes that shall lie more heauilie vppon vs. The thyng that hee willeth them to doe, is, that they should bee asha∣med, that is, by reason of their sins & trans∣gressions, to account them selues vnworthy the name of men, & (as it were) to hide their faces before the creatures of God: whereby the Prophet teacheth vs, how greatly we should bee greeued with our selues, and mislike our condition when we consider of the sinnes and rebellions that wee com∣mit against the Lord, for you knowe that Page [unnumbered] the thing whereof man is ashamed, dooth greatly moue him vnto an inward condem∣nation of that which hee hath done: but (a∣lasse) sinfulnes thorowe custome,* hath put on suche a brasen face, and godlines by dis∣continuance is so straunge among vs, that it is an easy thing to find him that wil be a∣shamed of weldoing, and beare out all ma∣ner of vngodlinesse with a bolde counte∣nance, and hard to find him that is ashamed of sinne, blushing at the committing there∣of, and contrariwise, followeth after truth and righteousnes with a bolde face, and an inuincible courage.
The reason why the prophet perswa∣deth them heerevnto,* is sette downe in the woords following, to witte, because the haruest of the field is perished: the vine is dried vp,*&c. Generallie, because they had so ill successe in their callings, wherby we learn this lesson, that whensoeuer we do careful∣lie employe our selues in the discharge of our duty in that calling, wherin the Lord hath set vs, and we see little fruit redound vnto vs from the same, we haue iust cause to howle and be ashamed, because that our sinnes haue stepped betweene the Lorde and vs, to keepe from vs his blessing vpon Page 71 our labours, which doctrine is needfull to bee learned in euerie condition, for if wee, that are the ministers of the word, could be perswaded, that ye not profiting of our peo∣ple is because of our sinnes, if the Magi∣strate could beleeue that the rebellion and vnrulines of his subiects, were the fruit of Gods anger against him for his offences: if masters and Parents coulde be perswa∣ded that the vnfaythfulnesse of their ser∣uants, and vngratiousnes of their children were a punishment from God for their transgressions. To conclude, if he that go∣eth backwarde, in the worlde, could thinke that God punisheth him therewith for his carelesnesse in godlines, it woulde make e∣uery one of vs more religious and godly, & to lessen the kingdome of sinne within vs daylie more and more. The cause whiche the Prophete alleageth is, (as you see) sett downe in very many wordes,* all which do signifie one thing in effect, and might (as before) haue beene expressed in one shorte sentence, but the Prophet knowing howe hard a thing it was to make them beleeue that they shoulde so bee depriued of their commodities, doeth not onely tell it vnto them, but also vrge, and (as it were) in force Page [unnumbered] it vnto them, that they might with the more sence and feeling bee affected with the same, which teacheth vnto vs, howe necessarie a thing it is, for vs, not onelye to haue the trueth of Gods woorde tolde in plaine and clear termes, but also vrged, inlarged, & stood vpon to the ende, that our harts which are dull, may by little and lit∣tle, receiue impression with the same, & be the more throwly conformed to the liking of it, and therefore it is, that the holy-ghost requireth in a minister, to bee instaunt in season and out of seson, to improue, rebuke, exhort with al long suffering, and doctrin, for wee see that the capacitye of man is so narrowe, that oftentimes he gainsaying a good thing propoūded generally vnto him, which afterward being laid open, & inlar∣ged by the causes, commodities & circum∣stances therof, he imbraceth with great li∣king, to the end that we may learne to like of & imbrace: the necessitye of those conti∣nuall discourses, whereby the word of God is persuaded vnto our consciences, & not (as is the maner of many) to contemne and de∣spise them. Lastly, the prophet hauing laid open this matter by his particulars, con∣cludeth it with an epiphoneme, or general Page 72 sentence, saying: surely ye ioye is withered away from the sonnes of men, that is, the thing wherein the sonnes of men vse to re∣ioyce, the which the Prophet doth not on∣ly terme by the name of ioye, because men so relie of it, but also, because the Lorde hath allowed vs so to vse them as we may reioyce therein, for that they are the bles∣sings of God bestowed vpon vs, for our ne∣cessitie and delight, yet so, as it be with these conditions, first, that our greatest and chiefe pleasure be in the meditation,* & pra∣ctize of the law of God: secondly, that our harts be purified by faith in Christ, for thē are all things cleane vnto vs: thirdly, that we do reioyce in them to the end to make vs more fit to ioy in the Lorde, who is the giuer of them, if these thinges bee not ob∣serued, not onelye our reioycinge in the thinges of this life is vnlawfull in vs, and sinnefull vnto vs, but also, euen the ver•e vse thereof for our necessitie, shall turne to our condemnation.Page [unnumbered]
The fifth sermon.
verse 13. to the ende▪ 13 Gird your selues and lament, ye priests: howle ye ministers of the altar come, and lie al night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offring, and the drink offring is taken away from the House of your God. &c.
verse 13. to the ende▪ 13 Gird your selues and lament, ye priests: howle ye ministers of the altar come, and lie al night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offring, and the drink offring is taken away from the House of your God. &c.
GIrde your selues, O ye priests) the Prophet hauing spoken before in particular vnto the husband-men,* doth nowe continue his former course of application vnto an other sorte of men, and that is, to the priestes of the Temple, that attended vpon the daily sacrifices, and were the Lordes ministers, and before that he shew them what they are to doe, in pub∣like to the Lord, in the name of al the peo∣ple, he teacheth them, the things that con∣cerne them-selues in priuate, and whiche may the better prepare them vnto that pu∣blike action: saying, Gird your selues, &c as if he should say, seeinge that this miserie commeth vpon the whole land, and seeing that you haue the places of the Lordes re∣membrancers, to put him in minde of his couenant vnto Abraham,* and his mercy to his church, it behoueth you not to think Page 73 lightlie, or careleslie of these thinges, but with suche griefe and sorrowe to conceiue them, as may inforce you to all outwarde signes of the same, that your example may draw the people on vnto the like humilia∣tion and repentance:* which speache of the Prophet doth teache vnto vs, first this les∣son, that the ministers of the word of God (for so much as they are to guide the peo∣ple in the wayes of knowlege, and to per∣suade thē to the obseruation of those things which they teache them out of the woord) and for so much as they bee lyke vnto the Citie set on a hil, that is,* looked vnto farre and neere, whose behauiour is (often) re∣garded, as much (if not more, as their do∣ctrine) must not onely in generall haue a care and regarde, that their behauiour bee agreable to their speches, but yt also as the knowledg of the will of God, is first reuey∣led vnto them, and by their ministerie vn∣to the people, so they may be the firste, and most forwarde in the execution of euerye good dutie of Christianitye, to the ende, that it maye appeare that they teache o∣thers no course of life, but that which they them-selues do•e with all carefulnesse walke in. And surely, howe so euer it bee Page [unnumbered] true, that the ill life of the minister is no sufficient cause to make any man giue lesse obedience vnto the doctrine, then is meet, for that they sittinge in Moses his chaire,* we are to doe as they saye, and not as they doe: when they saye well, and doe not ac∣cordingly, yet (whosoeuer looketh into the experience thereof) shall see, that suche as doe as well in their holy behauiour, as wholesome doctrine preache vnto their people, bee the onely ministers, whose la∣bours are found fruitfull: and on the other∣side, they that haue not this care, are seene to labour (if yet they labour at all) with little or small profite to them that heare them.
For the simple people (yea, and those that thinke them-selues no fooles also) when they heare anye doctrine deliuered vnto them, that seemeth not to agree with flesh and blood, do by and by say: but wil he doe as he sayth, if it appeare by any of his disorders, that he doeth not, forthwith they say: why should wee beleeue him, or do as he telleth vs, when he doth cleane contra∣ry him-selfe, with out doubt, that whiche hee sayeth, is but for fashion sake, for hee knoweth some nearer way to heauen then Page 74 hee telleth vs (for els hee would not doe cleane contrarie) and therefore wee will venture as well as hee. I know (beloued) that the ministers of God, whose life is no way to be reprooued of men, are often char∣ged to be such: but it is not of them that I speake, it is too true, that the complaint is most iust of manie, whose behauior (though they can speake neuer so smoothly in their pretenced eloquence) doth sow more seedes of atheisme in one year, then their doctrine will root out in their whole life: & so much the greter cause haue we to lament our con∣dition, that (being plunged in so many mise∣ries) haue so few to be found among a gret number, that may faithfully goe before vs in the practise of ye course, which may lead to the preuenting of gods iust iudgement a∣gainst vs. In that the ministers are willed to gyrd them selues, the Prophet vseth a borrowed speech, from the behauiour of the bodie in the businesses of this life vnto that whiche concerneth the life to come. For it was the maner (as many places of scrip∣ture teach vs) of the Iewes and other the people of the East countreis, to go in long garmences, which (when they were to do any labour of importance) they did gird vp, Page [unnumbered] to the end that they myght no waie be hin∣dered, but might perfourme the same, with more readines, and more effectuallie. Now the prophet by this kinde of speach, dooth teach the ministers, first, that they imploy themselues in the execution of those means that may turne awaie the iudgementes of God from the people with all expedition, and teacheth vs this lesson, that whatsoe∣uer the Lorde commaundeth vs out of hys woorde,* wee take heede, of deferring or putting of from daie to daie, (for that the wrath of the Lorde commeth of a sudden) and with all speedines, endeuour to do the same, not consulting with flesh and blood, but propounding before our eies the autho∣ritie of him that commaundeth, and the pu∣nishments which doe abide the transgressi∣•ours, and disobedient. Secondlie, (in this kinde of speach) hee willeth the Priestes, the Lords ministers to laie aside all lettes and impediments that might any way keep them from, or make them colde in the per∣fourmaunce of this dutie: whereby wee learn,* that the Lord our God, doth not on∣ly require at our handes (in a generall sort) that wee do his will, but also that wee doe waxe wise by obseruation, and diligentlie Page 75 marke by experience, what things they be that are anie waie a hinderance vnto vs in the discharge of that dutie that we owe vn∣to God, & carefullie to vse al those meanes that may direct vs to auoyd them, which is a lesson that is verie needfull to be learned of euerie Christian, and (beeing rightly v∣sed) shall greatlie increase vs in true spi∣ritual wisedome and holines, for in this re∣gard it is, that christians are called souldi∣ours not onelie that they may fight against the enemies of their soules, but also, that by experience, they may waxe wise and spiri∣tuallie polliticke, to obserue diligentlye wherein it is that they bee most ouertaken, and carefullie to fortifie them selues there, not onelie by strengthening their spirituall armour, but also by lessening the power of the olde man, in taking away all those al∣lurements, or baytes that hee hath fedde him selfe vppon, to fight against the soule. Hee willeth them to lament, which is that earnest griefe whiche is conceiued in the heart by the liuelie sence of anie miserie. And this is not onelie enioyned vnto them, as they are a part of the people, and ther∣fore subiect to the generall punishment, but especiallie, for that they beeing the Page [unnumbered] ministers of GOD, to stand (as it were in the gappe) betweene God and his peo∣ple, to intreat the Lorde for them, and to speake in the name of all: for which cause it is requisite that the Ministers of God bee suche as haue an especiall sence of the thinges that the people stand in neede of, and that in more measure then anie com∣mon Christian, for els shall they neuer deale effectuallie with the LORDE for them, nor faithfullie with them from him.
Againe, He biddeth them lie in sackcloth, which is also a phrase of speech expressing the manner of their behauiour in the acti∣ons of griefe and sorrowe: for they were woont in suche cases to couer themselues wyth Sackclothe, that they myght be the more induced vnto mourning: the mea∣ning (for the generall equitie and trueth thereof vnto the Godlie for euer) is, that as wee were taught out of the woord Gird, to remooue from vs all impediments that maie let vs from well-dooing: so in this wee learne,* that wee must take vnto our selues, all prouoking meanes, whereby we maie bee made more fitte, and able to dis∣charge our duties the more effectually, the Page 76 which is (also) diligentlie to bee obser∣ued, for as the nature of man, being prone to all ill, hath (on the one side) manie in∣ticements, to drawe him from all goodnes, if they bee not wiselie looked vnto: so hath it (on the other side) by reason of the dul∣nesse that it is of vnto anie goodnesse, need of manie spurres and prickes to sturre him vppe, without which, hee shall not onelie keepe him selfe from the perfourming of many duties that be required at his hands, but also freeze and waxe cold in that which hee hath begunne: So that (ioyning the former and this together) hee that deter∣mineth to beecome a Christian indeede, and euer looketh to attaine vnto anie ac∣ceptable measure of Godlinesse, or hauing attained therevnto, to contynue therein, vnto the ende, must carefullie watche to remooue all thinges that hee seeth maye hynder hym, and diligentlie take vppe, all those helpes which maie further him in the same.
The lacke of obseruation whereof, is the cause, that so many in these last and dangerous daies take vpon thē the name of christians with so smal reformation, & that so many shrink away from that good course Page [unnumbered] which at the first they had begun. It is not onelie required at their handes, that they doe this, but also, that they lye therein all night, whereby he meaneth to shew them, that they must abide in that kind of humi∣liation, and not presently to begin and end the same, teaching vnto vs this doctrine, that the Lorde our God doth not onely re∣quire at our hands,* onely that wee beginne well, or that we like of good and godly mo∣tions for a time, and after suffer them to be quenched and die, but also that we so begin that we may continue, and so continue, that it may endure vnto the ende, which lesson we haue great need to learne, in these de∣clining daies, when men doe so generallie fall from their first loue for we see, that the truth is of suche maiestie in it selfe, that it captiueth the hearts of the very reprobate, vnto the like thereof for a season, but it is (onely) as the flashe of a lightning, that commeth & goeth (almost) in one moment, but we are to know, that albeit it be a good thing to begin well, yet it profiteth vs no∣thing, vnlesse wee continue therein, a for none are crowned but they yt striue aright, and hee onely that b endureth to the ende shall bee saued. In most miserable case Page 77 then be they that haue set their hand to the a plough and looke backe, that haue b lost their first loue, and fall away from the sinceritie of religion, for our Sauiour tel∣leth vs c that the ende of such persons is woorse than their beginning.
Nowe least they shoulde take excepti∣ons against him, as one that took too much vpon him, and reprooued those that were to reprooue him, hee calleth them, Ye mi∣nisters of my God) wherein first of all, he a∣uoucheth his authoritie and warrant, by vertue whereof hee did so instruct them, to shew them that in disobeying his words their offence was not against him, but the Lorde. Secondly, hee sheweth that he doth acknowledge them to be the Ministers of God, and yet dooth iustly shew them their duety, teaching vnto vs, that euen the mi∣nisters that are to instruct others when they do amisse, or faile in anie duetie, are to be reprooued for their fault, and taught howe to amend.
As hee dealt with the husbandmen, so dooth hee with the priests, that is,* decla∣reth them the special cause that is to draw them to lamentation and mourning, which is, that the meat-offering and drinke-offe∣ring Page [unnumbered] is taken away from the house of god: whereby hee dooth first of all teach them, that forsomuch as the glorie of God in the visible aduancement of the same, stoode in this, that the temple had great abundance of sacrifices brought vnto it: nowe that those offerings were to cease,* the Mini∣sters of the Lord must so much be greeued therewithall, as the glorie of God is deere vnto them. The vse of which doctrine (for our instruction) is this, that as the out∣ward seruice consisted then in the multi∣tude of sacrifices, so dooth it nowe in the enlargement of the preaching profession, and practise of the gospell, so that when∣soeuer the same is any waye abridged (if we haue that zeale of Gods glory that we shoulde) it must driue vs vnto the same sorrowe that these are commanded to take vp in the like case. Again, we learn by this (comparing it with the cause thereof) that whensoeuer the word of God, either in the profession or practise of the same hath not that free passage that is meete, the cause therof resteth in the sins of the people, that profes ye same word according as we heard yesterday deliuered vnto vs more at large.
Now in that hee sayth (The house of your Page 78 God) he doth not only put them in mind of their calling from whence it came, and the Iudge to whome they must giue account, howe they haue demeaned themselues in it,* but also (in the generall backeward∣nesse of the people) comforteth so many of them as laie these thinges to heart, that howsoeuer they might bee discouraged by the frowardnes of the people, and fear, that God was not therfore pleased with them, hee notwithstanding remained still their God, & reckned of them according to their faithfulnes in their calling, & not after the fruit that came of it, which hee always re∣serueth in his owne hand, to lessen or en∣crease it, according to his good pleasure. And surely, this lesson is very needefull to bee learned in these euill dayes, of those faithfull Ministers that doe with a good conscience discharge their duties: for ye dis∣coragements that we haue, by the careles∣nes, & obstinat disobedience of the people to whom our feete ought to be most beau∣tifull, are many and greeuous,* the depth whereof is hardly conceiued by any, saue those that haue experience of them. Nowe if we should measure al our comfort by the succes that we see our ministery haue in yePage [unnumbered] world, wee shoulde quickly be brought to say with the Prophet a that we wil speak no more in the name of the Lorde, but we haue a more sure staffe to lean to, which is that whatsoeuer fruit come of our labors though we be to all b that heare vs, the sauour of death, yet are wee still a sweete smelling sauour vnto the Lorde, for as it pleased his Maiestie to c like well of A∣brahams intreaty for Sodome, and to ac∣cept it as a worshippe vnto his name, not∣withstanding nothing to their profite: so is it his gracious good will, to accept of the faithfull diligence of his seruauntes in the ministerie of his woorde, though they doe not conuert one soule, for howsoeuer it be, Gods glorie shall be aduaunced therby, which must bee the principall marke that we are (in all our actions) to aime at.
Sanctifie you a fast, &c.) After that hee hath shewed vnto them howe they are to behaue themselues priuately,* and to pre∣pare themselues to giue the people al good example of forwardnesse, he nowe procee∣deth to shewe vnto them what they are to doe publikely, that the punishment threat∣ned beeing generall, the whole people might bee drawne vnto a solemne repen∣tance. Page 79 These woordes (contained in the first of these verses) doe describe vnto vs, the exercise of a publike fast, almost in e∣uery circumstaunce of the same: so that I might haue iust occasion heere to handle the whole common place of it, which I thinke not so meete at this present, yet wil I briefly set it downe, so farre as this pre∣sent place giueth warrant. And first of al, whereas hee willeth them to sanctifie a fast,* we are first to consider what this fast is, to the ende, that it may the better ap∣peare howe it is to bee doone: briefly ther∣fore it may be thus described▪ it is an ab∣stinence commaunded of the Lord, there∣by to make solemne profession of our re∣pentance. It is called an abstinence, not as if that were all and euery thing requy∣red at our hands in such an action▪ but be∣cause it is the most noted outward helpe therevnto: for indeed fasting is no part of the thing, but onely an outward helpe to drawe vs the better vnto the inward sense of that vnfained repentaunce, which wee are to shew foorth. Nowe this fasting is not like that of the Papists, wherein they abstaine from some kinde of foode, and cram themselues with others: but it is an Page [unnumbered] vtter refusall of all the commodities and pleasures of this life, therby to make vs ye apter to the inward vertue. And therfore wee reade, that the godlye were accusto∣med to refraine from all kinde of foode, vnttil the euening.* Secondly, wee are to see, when, and vpon what occasion this exercise is to bee taken in hande. One, and not the least, the woordes of our Pro∣phet doe shewe vs, who vppon considerati∣on of the miserie that they felt, and iudge∣ments that they feared, were commaun∣ded to humble themselues before the lord: so that whensoeuer the Church of God is in any distresse, or feareth any danger ap∣proching, it is the duetie of the guides thereof, to call them vnto this solemne fasting. Other causes there be of the same, as the electing of ministers or magistrats,* but because they be not in my text, and my purpose is not to handle anie more of the common place than it affordeth, I wil not speake of them. Furthermore, this being an extraordinarie exercise, it is to be consi∣dered, whom the Lorde hath geuen the au∣thoritie vnto to proclaime it, some saye, that it resteth in the authoritie of the Magistrate, and some affirme it to bee a Page 80 dutie of the ministers:* they that lay it vp∣on the magistrate, doe alleadge for their profe the examples of Iehosaphat, king of Iudah, and the king of Niniuie, who both in the like extremitie proclamed ge∣nerall fasts amongest their people: but they are aunswered thus: First, that their particular examples doe not prooue a ge∣nerall doctrine in this case, seeing that the commandement of God (as shall appeare) is expresse on the other side. Secondlie, it can not bee prooued, that Iehosaphat (for the other was a heathen king, whose example can prooue nothing) didde anye more in that action, than both hee might and was commaunded to doe in euery part of religion, and, that is, to proclaime and by his authoritie to compel them to whom the Church matters appertained to doe their dueties faithfully, and therefore it is, that the Holie-ghost in that place, (and also in that of Ionah) vseth a worde farre different from this in this place: for there the woorde signifieth to call or send forth, which maye in generall bee applied vnto the promulgation of anye edict whatsoe∣uer, and heere it importeth (as it were) a conseecration, or hallowing withall, Page [unnumbered] which is a thing peculiar to ye Ministers of the worde, so that thus farre it belongeth to the Magistrate to see it done, to enioine the doing of it, and (if it please him) to ap∣point the time thereof vnto the ministers, but that the particular notifieng of it to ye people belongeth vnto the ministers of the worde it is euident by these reasons: first, that which the Lorde commaundeth out of his worde vnto the Ministers of a Church established, the same (vnlesse it be repea∣led by some countermaunde) is the office of the Ministers of the word for euer: but the Lorde out of his worde commaundeth in this place, the Ministers of the Church of Israel, which was an established Chur∣che, and that vnder a king, to sanctifie a fast, & call the solemne assemblie, therfore it is the duetie of the Ministers of ye word for euer: secondly, yt which cannot be done without doctrine and publike praier, that same is the office of the Minister: but the sanctifieng of a fast (that is, the preparing of the people by instruction what it is, and to what ende, and praying vnto God to enable them therevnto) can not bee doone wythout doctrine and praier,* (for euerie thing is sanctified vnto vs by the woorde Page 81 and praier) therefore to call a solemne fast, is the office of the Minister: thirdly, what∣soeuer belongeth to the publike seruice of God in the congregation, that same is the proper dutie of the Minister, but to sanc∣tifie a fast belongeth to the publike seruice of God in the congregation: therefore, it is the proper duetie of the Minister. And that it belongeth to the publike seruice of God in the congregation, it appeareth by the turning of the reason thus: whatsoeuer is required of a Minister in regarde of hys ministerie, that same is a part of the pub∣like seruice of God: but to sanctifie a fast, is required of the priests in this place, in respect of their ministerie, and therefore it is a part of the publike seruice of God. But you may say vnto me, euery Minister hath his proper charge, the limits where∣of he may not passe, but a solemne fast is a generall thing, peraduenture thorowe a whole kingdome, and therfore is it a mat∣ter, that (being larger than he hath autho∣ritie to deale in) belongeth not vnto him. Wherevnto I answere, that it is true,* one Minister hath no further authoritie than his particular flocke, and therefore can cal no publike fast further than amongest his Page [unnumbered] owne people. But the whole Church be∣ing guided by a Councell of Ministers, is to be prepared to a fast, by the authoritie of the whole.
You may further saye vnto me: What if the Eldershippe of Ministers doe not, or will not proclaime it, whether oughte a particular Minister (who in that case is as a priuate manne) to doe it or no?* I answeare, that if other men will not doe their duetie, yet I may not meddle wyth it, but the example or authoritie of others, must not make me leaue mine owne duety vndone. So that it is true a general fast, in a whole kingdome, or in manie partes thereof may not be proclaimed by one mi∣nister: yet may hee, (and by the worde of God hee ought) when God threatneth or punisheth,* call his owne charge vnto this same exercise.
Lastly, he sheweth in the latter ende of the verse,* to what ende all this is, to wit, that they may crie vnto the Lord, that is, bee the more effectually drawne vnto the feeling of their sinnes, and the desert ther∣of, that so they might powre out their prai∣ers more effectually vnto the Lord, for the remission of the same: so that this fasting Page 82 or solemne assemblie or anye other of the outward thing thereof, he not commaun∣ded as any part of Gods seruice (for bo∣dily exercise profiteth nothing,* and whe∣ther we eate we are not the worse,* or whe∣ther wee eate not we are neuer the better, in respect of any religion or holinesse) but as meanes to drawe vs the better vnto it.* And therefore, when all these things are enioyned, to the ende, that wee may crie vnto the Lorde: wee learne, that it is not an ordinary sorrowe for sinne, a crauing of pardon, that will serue the turne at suche a time, but as the circumstaunces bee more, and the causes more weigh∣tye, so must our humiliation bee in more measure, than at anye other time before or after, if it may bee accepted of the Lorde.
Alas for the day) The crie that they are to make vnto the LORD, is in ge∣nerall sorte sette downe in this Uerse, wherevnto the entraunce is wyth a kinde of speache, not onelie expressing a great and heauie griefe, but also a minde excee∣dingly troubled in the same: for the words (Alas this day) which should go together, doe in effect signifie thus much: Great and Page [unnumbered] greeuous is our miserie, and the burthen thereof lieth so heauie vppon vs, that thys day we are as vtterly cast away, and feele such a smarte of the Lordes displeasure at hande as we tremble and quake to thinke of it: So that these woordes doe expresse vnto vs, what humbled soules, and what greeued heartes wee are to bee of, when (the Lorde threatning to punish vs) wee are employed in this exercise, to the ende that wee may learne, euen (as it were) to breake our owne heartes, and to enforce them vnto a more deepe meditation of our forlorne condition than euer hath entered into vs heretofore. Againe, whereas they are willed to say, the day of the Lorde is at hand, hee dooth not meane that generall day, wherein hee wil call to account both the quicke and the dead: but in considera∣tion of that miserable ruine which was to fall vppon the land,* wherein the people thereof shall seeme to be cutte off from vn∣der heauen, and in regarde of the mighty power wherewith the Lorde will stretche out his arme in such a manner, as though he meant to consecrate it, as a peculiar daie to expresse his maiestie. For as the Lorde is saide (of manne) to sleepe,* when Page 83 hee sheweth not foorth his might, and (as it were) to haue lefte thinges vnto theyr owne disposition, so on the other side, it is saide to bee hys daye, when by any ex∣traordinarie power he declareth himselfe, eyther by deliueraunce of hys, or ouer∣throwe of their foes.
Moreouer, it is saide to bee at hande, thereby to teach them, that if they woulde in such maner as might be acceptable vn∣to God, humble themselues before him, then must they beware of promising vnto themselues one houre space, but rather to assure themselues of present desolation, which is diligently to bee learned of all persons, and at all times of repentaunce: For hee that will any way sooth him selfe in hope of the least tyme of forbearing,* shall so quench all the motions of true re∣pentaunce, that hee shall perfourme no∣thyng therein, but in such superficiall ma∣ner as shall bee to no purpose. The foun∣taine from whence all thys woe must bee looked for to fall vppon them, is sayde to be the Almighty, which name is properly geuen to God, when hee sheweth hymselfe a victorer or ouercommer, whereby the Prophet geueth them an other meditation Page [unnumbered] of their miserie, that the Lord of heauen and earth, by whome, not onely all things are guyded and gouerned, but also they (in peculiar manner) had many waies bin enriched and blessed, was no more to bee looked for as a deliuerer or a protector, but as a most terrible Iudge, and seuere de∣stroier, because that they had rebelled a∣gainst him, who hadde euer beene so gra∣tious and bountiful vnto them: and it tea∣cheth vnto vs this lesson, that if wee en∣ioye the blessings of God, and make not the right vse of them, when the Lorde seeth that we swarne from him, & doe that which seemeth good in our owne eies, hee will come against vs wyth his seueritie so much the more intolerable, as we haue re∣ceiued his blessings in greater abundance.
*Is not the meat-offering, &c.) The causes of mourning (which wee haue heard at large before) are heere repeated: for in a solemne sorrowe before the Lorde, what can go more neare vs (if we looke into the matter aright) than this, that the honour of God shall be stained, and (the ministe∣rie of the woorde ceasing) the price of the pretious bloud of the Sonne of GOD fall to the ground, by reason that his king∣dome Page 84 receiueth no encrease by the prea∣ching of the Gospell which maye conuert soules vnto him? Nowe in that hee cal∣leth it ioy and gladnesse, hee dooth first of all teach vs, that (if wee bee of the num∣ber of them that doe in heart wishe, that which in woordes they daily begge at the hand of God, that is, that his kingdome may come, then is our principall ioy, and chiefest thing that wee long after to labor to enlarge the spreading abroad of the gos∣pell, that manie may embrace it,* and bring foorth fruites woorthie the same, but if wee haue litle or small care hereof (which indeede is the disposition of the most) it is a signe, that wee neuer yet profited so farre in godlinesse, as these people, who (for all that are ready to be throwne into finall destruction.
And moreouer, it doth teach vs,* that if wee want this, and see that it goeth to wracke, then is there nothing vnder the sunne that can giue vnto vs anie iust mat∣ter of gladnesse. And (indeede) if wee consider well of it, wee shall see, that it is most apparaunt: For if wee a gaine the whole worlde, and doe loose our owne soules, what doth it auaile vs. But if we Page [unnumbered] be not partakers of the ministery of Gods worde, the meanes of our saluation dooth ceasse, and therefore, though wee shoulde enioy honour, wealth, pleasure, and all that our heart can desire, and be without Christ Iesus, who is the Sauiour of them (onelie) that learne by the knowledge of his blessed woorde, to beleeue in hym, we shoulde but enioy so many weyghts to wey downe our condemnation, and make it more intollerable vnto vs.
*Is not the seed?) The destruction of the common-wealth (which also we heard be∣fore) is here repeated as a matter for them to meditate vppon, and commend the re∣dresse of it to the Lord, the particular spee∣ches which are heere more than in that be∣fore, are to be considered: first, where hee saieth: that the seede is rotten vnder the clods, his mening is, that their seed which they did sowe, and hoped to reape agayne wyth encrease, did neuer spring vppe, but rotted vnder the grounde. Nowe if this was a cause to induce the Israelites to saye: Alas for this day, then surely haue wee iust cause for to sing the verye same Song, or rather for to mourne wyth the verye same lamentation: for we can none Page 85 of vs be ignorant, how the Lorde hath delt with vs, in sending so great aboundance of moisture, whose nature is to nourish, and so drowning the earth therewith, whose kind is to bring foorth for the vse of man, that the earth was vnto the corne, as a graine, & the raine vnto the earth, as the running of a floode, and both they, so bent againste man for his disobedience to his maker, that in manie places of this land, they de∣nied him all, not accompting him woorthy to receiue his seed againe: so that we may assure our selues of the lords anger against vs, which will be sure to burst out as a a fire, which none shalbe able to quench, vn∣lesse, we returne by speedy repentance.
How did the beasts mourne?) The prophet dooth further will them to saie vnto the Lord, that the beasts did mourne, whereby hee first sheweth the miserable case of this people, that were so afflicted, as the verye sence thereof did (after a sort) mooue the brute beasts, and yet did they remaine hard harted, wherby he sheweth their condition to bee worse then that of the beast without vnderstanding. Secondly hee sheweth the miserable confusion that the sinne of man bringeth vppon all creatures, that for the Page [unnumbered] same (euen) the whole frame of heauen, and earth becommeth out of square: and the dumbe creatures, are pinched with penury, in suche wise, as they according to their kinde do grone, vnder the burden of mans transgressions.
Nowe whereas hee sayeth, that the flockes of sheepe are destroyed, hee tou∣cheth one kinde of punishment that wee are to thinke of, for albeit, it be true that if wee respect the generall number, it is not so with vs, yet in regarde of the particu∣lar estate of diuers, it may bee trulie saied that it hath also fallen vppon vs, for it is knowen, that the vnseasonable wette that did fall, infected with rottennes, verie ma∣nie flockes in diuers countries, so that thys beeing another of the causes of the Israe∣lites sorrowe, wee are to assure our selues that vnlesse we make the right vse of it, we shall feele that punishment, and farre grea∣ter,* (except in time wee repent) that yet we doe not perceiue.
In all this councell, which the Lorde by his Prophet giueth them heere, is no mention made of anie aduice to prepare them selues for the Warres, that they myght resist the enemies, nor of pollitike Page 86 prouision in the time of this dearth to make things reach so farre, and bee so well ordered as maie bee, which hee dooth not leaue our, as though they were vnlawe∣full.
But hee speaketh of that which is the first to bee doone, and beeing trulie per∣fourmed, will both teach and gyue a bles∣sing vnto the seconde meanes, whereby wee learne this lesson, that vnlesse wee take thys course first, and afterward pro∣ceede vnto the second, (whych also was the practise of that good king: aIe∣hosaphat, in the like case) all our prepa∣ration and politike deuises shall vanish as the smoake, and doe more harme then good: which thing (O the want of Eng∣land heerein) if it were considered, then should wee see a better issue, of manie no∣table plottes, that fall to the grounde, and doe no good, because the LORD cannot awaye to bee made seruaunt vnto fleshe and blood, and therefore when hee smyteth or threateneth to smyte vs, and wee flee to anye other helpe then hym, or to anye other good meanes that hee hath allowed vs, before wee seeke re∣conciliation wyth hym, hee will bee sure Page [unnumbered] to laie his cursse vpon our labors, that they shall bring forth wind, and therefore let vs pray vnto the Lord our God, that he would direct those that he hath set ouer vs, first, to seeke true reconciliation with him, and then shall their pollicie prosper, or els can we looke for nothing in the end but mise∣rie and desolation: and let euerye priuate man learne the lesson for his owne profite, that whensoeuer anye thing goeth a crosse with him, and hee would amend it, let him know that the cause being in his sinne that hath displeased the Lorde, if euer he looke to haue it helped indeed, hee must beginne with this sound conuersion vnto GOD, with whome hee beeing once at one, other things shall fall out well, but hee continu∣ing in displeasure with him (which he will doe so long as he abideth in impenitencie) how can any thing that hee taketh in hand go well with him.
To thee will I crie.) The prophet seeing that these things did mooue them very lit∣tle,* and perceiuing the wretchednesse that they are now growing into, resolueth with himselfe, that though they regard not their owne good, yet will hee continue his care ouer them, in intreating the lord for them, Page 87 whereby wee learne first this lesson, that the ministers of God,* must neuer be so dis∣couraged, as to leaue that calling wherein GOD hath set them, for any desert of the people: againe, that Gods ministers must haue a care ouer thē (being of their charge) that care not for themselues, but run head∣long to destruction: according as our saui∣our hath giuen them an example, praying for his pesecutors, & saying: aFather for∣giue them for they know not what they do: last∣ly, when all thinges are in suche desperate condition, that godlines is oppugned (euen) with high hand, & the minister of the word, can do no good in his ministery, no nor bee suffred to exercise the same, yet must he not cast of the care of the church of God, but e∣uen get him (with Ieremy) a cottage in the wildernes,b and spend his dais in mourning for the desolation of Syon. Let vs beseeche the Lord our God, euen for his beloued son Christs sake, to pardon the sinnes, & forget the offences of this land, or els, the mini∣sters of his truth shall (before it bee long) haue iust occasion to lament with Ieremie & say: How doth the land become solitary, &c.