On Tewsday the iij. of December. 1555 The Cx. Sermon which is the fourth vpon the eighteenth Chapter.
16 According to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God at Horeb, in the day of the assemblie, when thou saiedst, Let mee henceforth heare the voice of the Lord my God no more, nor see this great fire any more, least I die.
17 And the Lord said vnto me, they haue done well, to say so:
18 I will raise them vp a Prophet from among their brethren, like vnto thee: and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speake vnto them, all that I com∣maund him to say.
19 And it shall come to passe, that whosoeuer obeyeth not my words that hee shall speake in my name, I will call him to account for it.
20 But the Prophet that shall presume to speake words in my name, which I haue not commanded him to speake, or which speaketh in the name of other gods: that Prophet shall die for it.
AFter that God hath declared that he wil gouern his church by meanes of his word prea∣ched by men: he addeth that the same is done at ye request of the people themselues. As who shoulde say, that they which will not obey the doctrine of the law, are dubble guiltie. For [ 40] they despise the maiestie of God: and that is too outragious a rebellion. And besides that, they be also thanklesse, in that God vseth them after their owne desire. For how was the Lawe publi∣shed? Did not God giue signes of his presence as though he had come down from heauen,* and spoken visiblie to the Iewes? But they percei∣uing that Gods glorie amased them and made them at their wittes ende, desired to haue some Prophet to speake to them, and to bring his [ 50] messages to them: which thing was graunted vnto them. Nowe if they cannot like of the con∣dition that they themselues required: what ex∣cuse is there for them? Wee see then what the meaning of Moses was, in saying that GOD woulde raise vp Prophetes from time to time a∣mong the Iewes, yea euen according to their owne request, as who should say that nothing coulde be better for them. Sith it is so, it was for them to holde them to that order. For if they [ 60] coulde not abide the thing that was graunted them at their owne request; what a thing were that? Should they not shewe themselues vtterly vntractable and vnruly?
Moreouer it behoueth vs to wey yet better the circumstances that are set downe heere, namely according to all that thou desiredst at Horeb. God thinkes it not ynough to say that it came of the Iewes themselues to desire a Prophet: but he doth also shew that he condescended in al points to their desire. For the Gentler that God shew∣eth himselfe towards vs, and the more he fashi∣oneth himselfe to our nature: the more are wee bounde vnto him: and if wee drawe not nigh vn∣to him, surely we bee dubble to blame. We heare how S. Paul saith;* Brethrē, be ye as I am; for I de∣sire not but to be as you are. If a mā speake after yt maner, shal he not be heard? If God thē shal ap∣peare in his glorie, and shal say: That hauing pi∣tie of vs, he will for our sake stoope downe & de∣base himselfe; and we hereupon remaine hard-harted, & can at no hand bow our selues to obey him: must it not needs follow, that we are vtter∣ly void of all sense, and yt the diuell hath so blin∣ded vs, that there is no more natural vnderstan∣ding in vs? Yes: For it must needes be a horrour to vs, not to followe our God when he sheweth vs such example. Who are we that our GOD shoulde as it were transforme himselfe (as wee see hee maketh himselfe both a father and a mo∣ther, and a nource towards vs,) and that wee on our side shoulde holde skorne to bowe any whit vnto him? Thus yee see what we haue to marke vppon this saying, where Moses telleth vs that God gaue his people all that they had desired of him.
But therewithall we must also remember the fearefulnesse of the people. It is saide, Let vs not heare the voyce of our God any more, nor see this great fire any more,*for feare least we die. I haue tolde Page 674 you already howe it was Gods will to authorise his Lawe by doing the myracles that were seene at mount Horeb. And it was meete that the Lawe shoulde be ratified after that fashion, to the intent men might knowe that Moses deuised it not of his owne heade, nor added any thing to it of his owne: but that God was the author ther∣of. When the trumpettes sounded in the aire, when the skie was on a fire, when the greate thunders were hearde, and when the order of [ 10] nature was chaunged: the Iewes ought well to haue vnderstoode, that God shewed himselfe to bee their gouernour, and that the Law came of him, and that he auowed it to be his. Yee see then that that was as a seale to make the Law of God to bee of authoritie. But there was yet a∣nother reason; which was that God meant to make the Iewes perceiue that the Law could do them no good, but onely make them at their wits ends, I meane the Lawe so farre foorth as it [ 20] sheweth vs the rule to liue well. For whereas God commandeth vs to do the thinges that hee alloweth; indeed it is the way of life and welfare. But what are wee? Wee haue a frowarde nature: and in steede of obeying and of beha∣uing our selues as becommeth vs;* wee cease not to offende God. Nowe hee pronounceth his curse vpon all such as transgresse his commaun∣dements. All of vs therefore are condemned by the Law, and there is no remedie but God must [ 30] be our Iudge. And therefore it was meete that all the tokens which God gaue at ye setting forth of his Lawe, should be terrible, and that the peo∣ple should be made afraide with them.* And in the same respect doth S. Paul say that we receiue not the spirite of fearefulnesse in the Gospel; & after the same maner also is it spoken of in the Epistle to the Hebrewes.
Also heere is a thirde reason alledged by Mo∣ses, which is, that God ment to shew howe it was good [ 40] for the maintenance of the Church, that men shoulde be the bringers of the doctrine of saluation. For surely, God knowing that the best way to go∣uerne vs, was by sending vs Prophets and tea∣chers to speake vnto vs in his name: would that the people also shoulde knowe the profite thereof. True it is, that whensoeuer God spea∣keth wee ought to bowe downe our neckes and yeelde him such reuerence, as none of vs refuse to obey him, though hee speake to vs by the [ 50] mouthes of mortall men. Yet notwithstanding, his meaning is not that his worde should but on∣ly haue such maiestie among vs as to make vs a∣fraide: but that it should be sweete and amiable to vs, and that wee shoulde receiue it with a free heart, and take pleasure in it, and knowe that to rest vppon it is our soueraigne welfare. So then, Gods intent was to make men desirous to bee taught by the Prophets and preachers whom he woulde sende vnto them. And that is the thing [ 60] which Moses toucheth in this present place.
Now then, we must vnderstand first of al, that our Lorde will not come downe from heauen vi∣siblie to speake vnto vs: for that were not for our benefite. In deede many men are of that minde that they would faine haue God to sende them his Angels: and they thinke it a matter of no great authoritie that a man which is but a fraile creature and but an earthen pot, shoulde goe vp into the pulpet: but yet doth God know it to bee for our behoofe. And therefore wee must vnder∣stand, that forasmuch as the Iewes found by ex∣perience that it was a dreadfull thing to them to heare God speake: it behoued God to alter that manner of declaring himselfe, and to send Mo∣ses vnto them. Therewithall let vs marke also that Gods authorising of the Lawe was not for the Iewes onely; but to the ende that wee also at this day shoulde receiue the same with all hum∣blenesse, and vnderstande that whosoeuer de∣spiseth it, aduaunceth himselfe against the ma∣iestie of the liuing God, and maketh warre a∣gainst him. That is the thing which wee haue to remember where mention is made of the ter∣riblenesse of Gods voyce, and of the fire that filled the aire. And thereuppon let vs marke (as hath beene treated of alreadie), that God promised a Prophet, not onely to the Iewes, but also to vs; and that it is a continuall order in his Church. So then, will wee bee reckened for the children of God? Let vs suffer our selues to bee gouerned by his word. Yea, and let vs not hold skorne to heare men that speake to vs in his name. But although they bee from among vs and of our owne companie, so as wee might al∣ledge that we owe them no such duetie as in re∣spect of their persons: yet notwithstāding seeing they be set in Gods steed, and by his will; let that suffice vs. And if we intend to honour God, and to haue him to reigne ouer vs: it behoueth vs to shew it in this case, by yeelding such obedience to his worde, as those whom he sendeth to vs be heard of vs. And hereof wee see what is saide by the Prophet Esay.* For like as Moses had foretold yt God would raise vp a Prophet: so yt Prophet E∣say saieth that at the comming of our Lorde Iesus Christ, and in the time of his reigne▪ God would put his worde into his mouth, & into the mouth of his seed, and of his childrēs children. This thing then ceased not when ye Gospel was published throw ye world: but rather it was new∣ly confirmed, as I haue also shewed before. For who was this Prophet, but our Lord Iesus Christ? True it is that in that saying are comprehended all the Prophetes from Moses to Zacharie and his fellowes. But yet did GOD restore all the prophesies in our Lorde Iesus Christ, which had beene as it were broken off for a time. For the Iewes had beene berefte of that benefite a long time together, and GOD had not ap∣peared to them any more as hee had beene woont to doe before. And the reason was, to the ende they shoulde with the earnester desire looke for the Messias that had beene promised them, and vnderstande that hee shoulde bring them the full perfection of all wisedome. Our Lorde Iesus therefore is nowe come to per∣forme all Prophesies, and to make such a re∣stitution as men might perceiue that God had then laide foorth the treasure most bountifully: which he had spokē of afore by Moses. And this was not done alonely for our Lord Iesus Christ Page 675 himselfe as S. Paul sheweth in the fourth to the Ephesians,* where he saieth that Iesus Christ be∣ing gone vp into heauen, hath prouided for the state of his Church to the end that it might bee mainteined by the foresaide meane, ordeining some to be Apostles, some Prophets, some shep∣herds, and some teachers. To be short, it is the will of Iesus Christ, to execute his office by the mouthes of those whom he ordeineth to be mi∣nisters among his faithful. And herein is accom∣plished [ 10] the forealledged text of Esay, that the seede of Iesus Christ and his childrens children shall haue the worde in their mouth at this day. God saieth not, I will sende you my worde from heauen, or, I will cause it to bee preached vnto you by mine Angels: What saith he then? I wil put my word into thy mouth In deede our Lord Iesus is set there in highest degree: but yet there followeth; and into the mouth of thy seede, and of thy childrens children. Then let vs conclude, [ 20] that euen to the worlds ende, if we wilbe mem∣bers of our Lorde Iesus Christ, and (to be short) if we wilbe taken for Christians: wee must hear∣ken to the worde which God putteth into mens mouthes, whensoeuer it is preached vnto vs.
And in that respect is it saide, that the man which will notheare the Prophet, shall die without release. Here God thinkes it not ynough to haue exhorted the Iewes to receiue his woorde with meeke and lowly mindes: but also threa∣teneth [ 30] them, because thinges are neuer so well ordered among men, but that there is some in∣countering and rebelling. Our Lord therefore is faine to vse heere some rigor. Which thing he doth, saying: Looke to your selues, for my sending of Prophetes vnto you is to your bene∣fite, and it were as much ease for mee to make my voice ring from heauen: but I know what is meetest for you, and you yourselues haue found by experience that it is most for your behoofe. [ 40] Therefore see that ye heare my woorde, and re∣ceiue it meekely, and submit your selues to mee with all mieldnesse. And hereunto also doeth S. Iames leade vs,* saying that if wee wilbee edified by Gods word, we must be meeke. And as the earth that shal receiue seede to yeeld fruite, must first be well tilled: euen so the true preparation that God requireth of vs, is to humble ourselues: for our Lorde Iesus began at the same ende. Howbeit forasmuchas there are some so bloc∣kish, [ 50] that they cannot be moued by gentlenesse: therfore is this threatening added, wherein our Lorde declareth that if wee despise his worde when it is brought vs so by men, such a fault shall not scape vnpunished: for I will require a reckoning thereof, saith hee, As if he should say, Indeede it may well bee that such contempt shall bee let alone, and not once thought vpon in the worlde: but yet shall I continue still to warrant my worde, and yee must come to ac∣count [ 60] before mee though yee bee scaped the handes of men. And this is to bee well mar∣ked. For when our Lorde will haue men to o∣bey him, hee saieth not singly, hee that will not obey my worde; but he that will not heare the Prophetes whom I sende. For wee see many nowadayes which protest that they bee readie to submit themselues to God; but yet in the meane while they cannot finde in their heartes to yeelde him obedience in respect of his Lawe, or in respect of the holy scripture, or also in re∣spect of the order of the Church. Yee shall see a sort of skoffers which will needes bee taken for good Catholikes, but as for sermons, they let them alone, and they thinke them to bee super∣fluous. And if they chaunce to come to any, it is but in a ceremonie, and for fashions sake, as men terme it: so as if it were not for shame of men, they woulde neuer come at the Church. Ye shal neuer heare that they be desirous to be taught: And what Christianitie is that? Contrariwise we heare howe it is saide heere, that God will haue vs to hearken to him. As howe? They can say wellynough that they bee willing to obey. But he addeth whosoeuer heareth not the Prophets whom I sende. I haue shewed already that seeing God hath set this order in his Church: it ought to be helde as vnuiolable. Therfore who∣soeuer hee bee that maketh none account of Sermons, ne resorteth to them; doeth shew him selfe to be a rebell against God. Who sayes so? Euen he himselfe. We neede not go to reasoning thereupon. For our Lorde telleth vs that all such as will not quietly submit themselues to the or∣der which hee hath appointed, are rebelles a∣gainst him. Yee see then that the thing which we haue to marke here in the first place, is that we must not seeke starting holes to deceiue God withall; for if wee desire that he should reigne ouer vs, the men that haue the charge and office to speake to vs in his name, must be receiued, & all of vs both great and small must frame them∣selues thereafter.
Moreouer let vs proceed to ye cōparison which ye Apostle maketh in the Epistle to ye Hebrewes. For he sheweth (as trueth is) that Moses and his fellow Prophets were but seruaunts.* The master himselfe is come: and that is the onely sonne of GOD, who hath superioritie ouer the whole Church, and he speakes by his Gospel: which if a man despise he is not to be borne withal. He that transgressed the Lawe of Moses, was stoned to death as we haue seene before. But nowe our Lorde Iesus speaketh more liuely in the Gospell: and shall men make no account of hearing him? Let vs marke then that all such as striue nowa∣dayes against the doctrine of our Lorde Iesus Christ, offend much more greeuously, and shal∣be punished more rigorously, because they spite God openly, as though they protested in effect, that they passed not to prouoke him to battell, and to deface his maiestie vtterly. Therefore let vs beare in minde,* that as oft as the Gospell is preached vnto vs, it is all one as if the sonne of God speake to vs himselfe: and therefore that hee ought much rather to bee hearde than Mo∣ses. True it is that the Lawe is of God like∣wise, and it was giuen by the verie spirite of our Lorde Iesus Christ. But as nowe we stand vp∣on the meanes that God hath vsed in the Lawe and the Gospell. For the more that our Lord hath vttered his glorie, the more ought wee to Page 676 be prouoked to submit our selues vnto him: and that is done in the Gospell. Wherefore let vs conclude, that as nowe we must haue a greater regard to harken to the things that are brought vs and set forth vnto vs in the name of our God, than our forefathers had in the time of the law. And that is the thing which our Lorde Iesus ment by this saying, that Iohn Baptist excelled al the prophets,* so as there was neuer any man that had so excellent an office as he had, and yet [ 10] that the least of them which preach the Gospell nowadayes, excelleth Iohn Baptist. Iesus Christ speaketh not there of the holinesse of mens per∣sons: but magnifieth the doctrine of saluati∣on which is preached to vs at this day, inso∣much that Iohn Baptist was preferred before all the Prophetes, as in respect that he brought the tydings that the Redeemer was come.
But wee proceede yet further; for wee shewe that our Lorde Iesus hath performed his medi∣atorship [ 20] in reconcyling vs to God his father;* that his death and passion are the euerlasting sacrifice whereby perfect righteousnesse is pur∣chased to vs; that all our sinnes are washed away by his bloude;* that he continueth still our aduo∣cate and spokesman at this day, to procure vs fauour in Gods sight: that his obedience is im∣puted to vs for righteousnesse: and that God ad∣opteth vs in him to make vs heires of his king∣dome. All these thinges then are at this day de∣clared [ 30] vnto vs largely in the Gospell. And see∣ing that God is so gracious to vs in preferring vs before all the kings and Patriarks that liued vn∣der the olde testament: Wo worth vs if we can∣not fare the better by such a prerogatiue. Seeing that the kings (I say) which were desirous to haue hearde the thinges which wee heare,* and to haue seene the thinges which wee see, obtai∣ned not their desire; and nowe GOD hauing giuen vs more than them, can winne nothing [ 40] at our hands by so doing but skorne and despite: what will our rewarde bee? Hee may well vp∣braide vs as hee did the Iewes in olde time,* say∣ing: My people what haue I done to you? My vyneyard, I haue planted thee, I haue husban∣ded thee, and I haue taken great paines about thee: and thou bringest foorth bitter grapes that are able to choke their master. If GOD blamed the vnthankfulnesse of his people after that fashion in olde time: howe much more [ 50] may hee blame vs in these dayes? Are not wee worthie to receiue a hundred folde more dam∣nation than they? Yes certainely. So then let vs marke well, that if God coulde not beare the despising of his Lawe: he will much lesse nowe suffer the skorning of his Gospell, or that men shoulde make none account of the order which hee hath set for them to resort to sermons, there to bee taught by the mouthes of those that are in that degree and office. For as I [ 60] haue declared, it is not ynough for vs to say, Gods worde is worthie to bee hearde: but wee must also shewe the same by proofe. When∣soeuer our Lorde speaketh, although it bee by the meane of creatures: yet let vs receiue him quietly and obey him.
Let vs note further, that where as it is saide hee will require an account of it: the meaning thereof is: that wee shall haue gained nothing by scaping the handes of men. For why? God will maintaine his owne honour. And this is notable in many respectes. For oftentimes yee shall see, that they which shoulde holde the sterne to make Gods worde to bee receiued with reuerence, haue no regarde of it at all. The Princes, Magistrates, and Iudges of this worlde, doe punish thinges which they knowe to bee to their owne domage: such offences are straitely looked to. And why? For if they shoulde goe vnpunished, great disorder woulde insue thereof. This respect were not amisse, so they did not set the cart before the horse. For if God be offended, they let that slippe. And why? Because they thinke there growes no inconuenience of it. And in verie deede it is growen to a cōmon by word to say, Who is hee that accuseth mee? Whome haue I wronged? The partie that shall haue spited God openly, and therefore deserueth to bee rooted out of the worlde, shall but wring his mouth or rather his groyne, and steppe forth with a shamelesse foreheade to aske who accuseth him. The verie Angels of heauen, yea and all other crea∣tures crie out against him; and yet hee hath not offended. And why so? Because no bodie is against him heere among men: for it may chaunce that no man will stande in Gods de∣fence. Euerie man will wellynough pleade for themselues: but they be not so zealous as to set themselues against such as offende God. And yet in the meane whyle the Iudges are asleepe, and let all such manner of vngodly dealings slip. Yea there are some which are worse than Iewes and Sarasins, shewing no token of Christianitie, but openly despising both Sermons and vse of Sacramentes. Othersome are not contented with such contempt, but they doe also make warre against God, and play the venemous beasts in spewing out their vilenesse to make all religion to bee set light by. These thinges are to bee seene: and yet men winke at them. Ther∣fore doeth God tell vs that hee will call them to account for it. Verie wel (saieth hee): let men bee as negligent as they will: yet wil not I forget these things, whatsoeuer come of it.
Heereby wee bee warned to receiue Gods worde when it is set forth vnto vs, and to inure our selues to the hearing thereof, not for feare of men onely, but to eschew the wrath of the hea∣uenly Iudge, seeing hee is minded to defende the authoritie of his worde. Were this well marked, men woulde bee better disposed to suf∣fer themselues to be taught by Gods worde than they be. Men woulde make more speede when they heare the bel tol, than they doe. But what? We can scarce finde in our heartes to goe three steppes to a Sermon. And why? For feare least wee shoulde afterwarde be censured. If I go con∣tinually to sermons, men will point at me with their fingers, and I shallbe called afterwarde in∣to the Consistorie for it: and in the end I shalbe cēsured. After yt maner do these Sarasins speake Page 677 that dwell among vs here, who haue neither faith nor Christianitie in them more than dogs. Their comming hither commonly is but to scrape the ground with their pantoples in moc∣kage of God. But it were better for them to breake their neckes, than to come to vnhalowe Gods temple after that sort. Others come with gay Ceremonies and outwarde shewes: and in the meane while haue no affection at all. But let vs bethinke vs howe it is saide here, that our [ 10] Lord wil not let men alone so: for although no mā maintain his glorie, but presume malapertly to despise him: yet shall not their so doing boote them. For why? He telleth vs that he will doe his office, & not bury things in forgetfulnes. Then if men winke at the despising of Gods worde: God himselfe must in the end shewe, that he set∣teth such store by it, that hee will be auenged of them for it. Thus yee see what we haue to mark, in Gods vttering of such threatnings against all [ 20] the despisers of his Law.
Besides this, it is his minde also to prouide yt wee be not deceiued nor abused vnder pretence of this honourable title of Prophet. For as it be∣commeth vs to obey God by being taught by such men as he hath set in the office of teachers: so on the other side it is not for any man to take that charge vppon him, thereby to deceiue the plaine and ignorant people. God then hath pro∣uided here for both twain. First he sheweth how there is no cause why the people should grudge seeing there was no want of teaching: and ther∣fore that they which turne away after Witches, Soothsayers, and Inchanters, are leawd and vn∣thankfull. For why? God commeth to vs, and re∣quireth no more but to teach vs familiarly. Therefore when men step aside after that ma∣ner to superstitions, and cannot bee contented with Gods trueth which is the perfection of all wisedome: must it not needes bee that they are [ 40] possessed of Satan, and worse than starke madde or out of their wits? Yes truely. And therefore seeing our Lord protesteth that he hath so pro∣uided for his Church, as men may well holde themselues to that which he hath done: Let e∣uerie man bee readie to heare and receiue the doctrine which he setteth forth.
Nowe he commeth to those that are appoin∣ted to be teachers. Let no man (saith he) Presume to speake in my name. For I must put my worde in the [ 50] mouth of the Prophetes.* Hee saieth expresly, I will put my word in their mouthes: and therunto an∣swereth the text of Esay which I cyted afore. Whereby it is shewed vs that God raiseth not Prophets vp to lay the bridle in their necks, and to giue them full libertie to preach what they list: but hee raiseth them vp to be as his instru∣mentes to deliuer the thinges faithfully which they haue heard of him. Yee see then with what condition God hath raised vp prophets in all a∣ges, [ 60] namely yt he put his word in their mouthes. And whereas we preach nowadayes; it is not for that Christ hath giuen vp his office. For he is al∣wayes a teacher,* he is the heade of the Church, yea & the only head, not to be as an ydoll, but to rule vs with his doctrine. Therfore we must not presume to alledge any thing which we receiue not of the only sonne of God. Wherefore let vs marke well, that as it was Gods will heere to sub∣due folk to humble themselues, so as they should not refuse to bee taught by his worde when it is preached: so on the otherside he hath prouided that such as haue commission to speake, must not bring their owne dotages and dreames, nor deuise any newe doctrine, but onely first learne of their master, and afterwarde deliuer the same faithfully to others, without adding any thing at all of their owne. For whatsoeuer men inuent of their owne heades, is vtter corruption: there needs no more Leauen to sower the whole lump of paste.* And if a man take heade neuer so little, he shall vtterly peruert Gods truth, and turne it into vntruth. And this serueth also to put al men in mind vpon what condition they should heare the Prophetes. For here are two extremities, as in deede wee neuer keepe any meane, vn∣lesse our Lorde drawe vs to it by force. If wee keepe it not, wee become heathenish, and his worde is skorned of those to whom hee sendeth vs: which contempt wee see in the most part of the worlde. Howe deale wee when wee come to framing of our selues? We vse a kinde of fond and beastly deuotion, without putting any diffe∣rence betweene good and euill, and God will none of that. Indeede hee will haue our faith matched with humilitie, but not that we should be starke blockes without discretion. For cleane contrariwise hee willeth vs to trie mens spirites.* Then must wee haue skill to examine thinges whether they be true or no, when men speake to vs in the name of God. The way therefore which wee must holde, is that when Gods name is alledged, wee must bee touched with reuerence to hearken earnestly to the thinges that are spoken, and howsoeuer the world go, wee must bee prepared to receiue them. And when wee haue this modestie of yeelding our selues teachable by the thinges that are set forth in the name of God: Wee must also pray him to giue vs his holy spirite, that wee bee able to discerne aright and not be beguiled, nor imbrew∣ed with lyes vnder false pretence of his name, but that although Satan transforme himselfe in∣to an Angell of light,* yet he may not so blind our eyes, but that wee may perceiue what is good. That is the way which wee must holde. And it is the thing whereto God intendeth to leade vs, saying that although he will haue vs to hearken to the Prophets, and addeth this threat that the despising of them shall not abide vnpunished: yet notwithstanding hee meaneth not therefore to bereaue vs of all discretion, and to stop our eyes that we should not knowe what to followe. No: but he wil haue vs to examine mens doctrine, & to •ift the Prophetes whether they teach aright or no. We must not be so doltish as to admit al that euer is tolde vs without exception: but (as I saide,) when men speake to vs in the name of God, we must serch whether it be truth or false∣hood. And now must we lay forth the things par∣ticularly which are conteined here.
First of all let vs marke, that God meant not〈2 pages missing〉
Page 680faithfully or no; wee must compare the thinges that are cleane contrarie. We knowe that the true touchstone whereby to try the goodnesse of any doctrine, is the referring of all thinges vnto faith,* (as Saint Paul saith thereof,) and to the gloryfying of God, that men be taught to put their whole trust in the grace of our Lorde Iesus Christ, to mislyke of themselues and to be asha∣med of their own doings, & to frame themselues to a true amendment. Thus is it a true tryall of [ 10] good doctrine, when wee see ye preacher indeuour that God may be purely honored and serued, and that the prayse of all power, wisedome, and righteousnesse be yeelded vnto him. That do∣ctrine is alwayes good, and that is an infallible rule. When men are condemned in themselues; when they be shewed that there is nothing but corruption in their nature, and that they be ac∣cursed of God; when they be so beaten downe as they wote not what to doe, but onely to craue [ 20] forgiuenesse lyke wretched sinners: that is a sure doctrine. For faith leadeth vs thereunto, and compasseth it as a certeine rule. Againe, when sinnes are condemned by Gods lawe, and men are shewed what true repentance is, to wit, a mislyking of their sinnes & a desiring to be go∣uerned by Gods spirit, and to bee altogether chaunged: that is a sure doctrine. Moreouer, when men are tolde that they must flee to God for refuge, and call vppon him onely, and not [ 30] be vnthankfull to him for his helping and succo∣ring of them: the doctrine also is of the holy scripture, and men cannot faile in embracing of it. If it be sayd that the very vse of the Sacra∣ments is to leade vs to our Lord Iesus Christ, and to assure vs the better of the benefites which he bringeth vs that we may be partakers of them▪ and that God also putteth vs in possession of thē: that also is a trueth which ought not to be reuo∣ked nor doubted of. And hereof there is no dis∣puting [ 40] to be made: for men knowe that in those pointes is nothing but good doctrine. On the contrarie part, a man may iudge that a doctrine is false, when it darkeneth or diminisheth the glorie of God. If the thing that belongeth to God bee plucked away from him to be bestowed vpon creatures: it is a practise of Satans to turne vs out of the right way. Againe, if one doe puffe vp men with pride and ouerweening; and make them beleeue that they be able folke, & so rock [ 50] them asleepe in their sinnes: or if he teach them to serue God with pelting toyes, and to forget his Lawe, and in the meane while to giue mens inuentions their ful scope: or if the Sacraments be vsed but as light or fond pastimes: a man may easily see that such doctrine is leawd and cursed, and that it was forged in Satans shop.
Furthermore, whereas nowadayes men are inquiring whereon to stay in ye middest of these troubles and diuersities of opinions that are in [ 60] the world: it is no very hard thing to doe, so they be attentiue and discreete in discerning after the maner that our Lord hath shewed vs. For all the whole doctrine of poperie tēdeth to none other end, but to aduaunce men, and to puffe them vp in such wise with their owne deserts, as they may be halfe at defiance with God, as though they could accuse him. Againe, it sendeth men too and fro. In stead of putting their trust in the onely freegoodnesse of God, and in stead of imbracing our Lorde Iesus Christ: men are taught other infinite meanes to saue themselues. Moreouer, in steed of hauing the only Lawe of God for their onely rule in all thinges, and for their onely holynesse and perfection: men haue set out their owne trifling traditions. Thus may ye easily iudge of these thinges. And what is to be sayd of their Sacraments? It is euident that they be meere witcheries in the Popedome, so as Iesus Christ is driuen a great way off by them. and men make idols of the visible signes & liue∣lesse creatures, and Satan hath so imbrued the wretched world with his illusions, that men are become starke beastes. Now then, if a man in∣tend to make trial of a good doctrine; he shal find the thinges which I spake of afore, to be sure & infallible markes thereof. But in this text our Lord meant onely to tel vs that he will discouer the false prophet, at leastwise one way or other, whereof hee setteth downe one kinde here.
I haue told you alreadie that there are diuers other meanes to discerne the true doctrine from the false: but none of those come in question here. Our Lorde hath tolde vs, No no, yee shall not be beguiled so long as ye indeuour to follow the trueth that proceedeth from me. If a decei∣uer haue any countenance among you; I will make his leawdnes to be layd open: I will giue you some such token thereof, as ye may always keepe your selues vndefiled, so ye haue the mind and zeale to sticke to my pure worde. Thus much concerning this text, which importeth a kinde of promise, as if our Lord should tell his people that he would discouer the hypocrisie of deceiuers, and not suffer them to reigne euer, but that in the end they shall in some respect or other come to confusion. Now we see the prin∣cipall drift of Moseses wordes.
But here a question might be moued. For heretofore in the thirteenth Chapter,* it was said that if a Prophet tolde a thing to come, and the same came to passe in deede▪ yet was he not to be beleeued, because God would suffer such thinges to try his people withall. And here it is sayd that a false Prophet shall be knowen and iudged by the not falling out of the things which he prophesieth. Now here seemeth to be some contrarietie. But the solution is easie, in marking that though a false prophet be knowen by his ly∣ing: yet it followeth not that he should be takē and deemed a true Prophet because it falleth out that he speaketh some trueth. Truely if he spake the trueth at all times and in all cases, then were he a true Prophet. But hee may well say the trueth in some respect, (which may be done for some iust punishment from God, as is decla∣red in this same text:) and yet he shall be but a deceiuer neuerthelesse. As how? Put the case that folke seeke to bee soothed in their vices, and are loth to be waked and quickened vp as they should be, and had rather to be borne with: (for such hath the fashion of ye world euer bin:) Page 681 Well, God seeing such leawdnesse, suffereth de∣ceiuers to plaster them, and to beare the folke in hand (which are so desirous to sleepe in their wilfulnesse) that their faultes are nothing. Here ye see how those men are beguiled, because of the desire which they had before. And God ad∣deth the same thing moreouer, namely that those false Prophetes and deceiuers shall haue wherewith to confirme their doctrine, that they which were imbrued wt lyes before, may become [ 10] more wilful. For they will thinke then, yt there is no more daunger in beleeuing them. And what is the cause hereof? Euen Gods iust vengeance. Forasmuch as men shut their eyes at the light, & wil needs dwel in darknesse: God giueth Satan the bridle. By meanes whereof it commeth to passe, yt false prophets doe sometimes speake ye trueth; as is to be seene euen at this day. For what a number are there to be found, which seek after witchcraft to abolish ye authoritie of Gods [ 20] word? Ye shall see on ye one side a sorte of curious heads, & on ye other side another sorte yt haue no feare of God: & yet ye mark which they all shoote at, is to put away Gods word, yt they might not be ruled by it. And in ye meane while they wil needs haue some Wizard to tel them of their good for tunes: & our Lord suffereth thē to be drawen by such meanes into al ye deceites of Satan, notwith∣standing yt some trueth bee mingled therewtall. Now thē, though a false Prophet speake ye truth, [ 30] yet is not that a warrāt that his doctrine is true: our Lord will not haue men to credit him a whit ye more for yt: for we see for what cause he putteth the trueth oftētimes into the mouthes of decei∣uers. And so, notwithstanding the thinges that are set downe here, yet doth it abide true still, yt when our Lord is minded to haue pitie vppon his people, and not to suffer them to bee abused by false doctrine: he giueth them some token whereby to find the deceiuer: and whereas earst [ 40] he was in estimation, and might haue amazed the wretched world: God bewrayeth his leawd∣nesse, & so he is found to be a lyer. Thus wee see now the whole meaning of Moses, concerning the thinges that are conteyned in this text.
These thinges were performed among the people of olde time, and the examples thereof which we see, ought to shewe vs the vse of them and what fruit we should gather of this warning which Moses giueth. When the Prophets meant [ 50] to proue that they were sent of God: they would say, I am no prophet if this come not to passe. See how Ieremie submitteth himself to the Law, saying:* I tell ye, ye shall be led captiue to Baby∣lon, and thinke not your selues to be discharged by yt which hath hapned vnto you already: (for the citie had bin taken once before, and there∣fore they thought themselues discharged by being become tributaries after that fashion to the king of Babylon: and so they thought them∣selues [ 60] escaped:) No no, ye must indure yet more. This chastisement, which hath not amended you at al, seemeth ouer hard and too sharp a rod vnto you. But forasmuch as god hath called you, and you continue still vnamended: he is feine to deale now more roughly with you: the tem∣ple must be beaten downe, the citie must be ra∣zed, you your selues must be no more a people, there must be no more sacrifice, all thinges must be so cleane taken away, as ye may seeme to bee vtterly perished. To this extremitie must yee come, because ye haue abused Gods patience euen vnto this houre. And if it come not so to passe, take me no more for a Prophet, but let me bee stoned to death, for I am well worthie of it. But I am well assured of that which I haue fore∣told you, for God himself hath told it me. We see how the Prophets submitted themselues to the Lawe, & also did set themselues against the false-prophets, as we see by the example of Ieremie▪ when Ananias came and sayd, No, the vessels of the Temple shall be brought again from Ba∣bylon, and the kingdome of Dauid shal be set vp againe in our time, and we shall florish more thā euer we did: and thereupon did breake the chain of Ieremie, who walked about the streetes as it were with a with about his necke. For it behoued him to represēt the captiuitie, because men were so blind in their sinnes, that they tooke all Gods threatnings to be but a iest, and thereupon did make euen a mocke of them. And therefore it behoued the Prophet to goe about the citie af∣ter that fashion with a with about his neck, as who should say, Euen thus shall you be misera∣bly haled into captiuitie, yee make a goodly shewe, nowe yee triumph, ye thinke it a goodly thing to besot your selues in your pleasures and delightes; but this yoke that I weare, serueth to shewe that you your selues shalbe put vnder the yoke of subiectiō. Behold, Ananias breaks me this yoke asunder, saying: no, we shall liue still at li∣bertie, and be deliuered from that bondage. It is a wonder. Yea, but how did these wretched and wicked folkes afterward behaue themselues? How did God ratify the thing that Ananias had spoken? I wishe it might be so, (sayd Ieremie:) but yet must I goe further and tell him his con∣demnation, seeing the Lord hath commaunded mee so to doe. So then, we see that Ieremie ra∣tifyed the thing which hee had vttered in the name of God, and that maner of dealing was common among all the Prophets. Wherefore let vs marke that our Lordes intent here was to declare that he wil not suffer vs to be beguiled, so wee be willing to receiue his worde, and to bee taught thereby, and be diligent in discer∣ning betweene trueth and falshood. Although there be neuer so many false Prophets, and that Satan striue continually to turne vs away from goodnes: yet shall we euer haue some discretion, that is to say, God wil giue vs some token where∣by to keepe ourselues from being deceiued. It is a promise that can neuer faile vs. And therefore let vs holde vs thereto, and secke to obey our God. His reaching out of his hand is enough for vs: and though there be neuer so many meanes to deceiue vs; yet will he not suffer them to pre∣uaile, according to that that is promised here. Wherefore let vs looke to our selues. Whereas we haue no Prophets nowadayes to foretell vs thinges to come, or yt haue reuelations aforehād of warre, pestilence, and famine: it is because we Page 682 haue greater perfection of doctrine, that the people had in old time. We therefore must hold our selues contented with the Gospell, for it is ye fulnes of light. But yet therewithall let vs also haue an eye to the thinges which are written, and let vs examine the doctrines that are prea∣ched vnto vs: and if we finde them to be drawen out of the Lawe, the Prophetes, and the Gospel: let vs be assured of them that they are certein. And if we vse that touchstone continually to try [ 10] things by: surely God wil preserue vs frō all Sa∣tans falshoods. Thus ye see what we haue to re∣member vppon that text.
Now it is sayd expresly that such a Prophet shal dye the death. And that is a cause also why our Lord sayth, that he wil giue the sayd marke. For it were foule treacherie to iudge & condemne a Prophet without knowing why or wherefore. If a guiltlesse person should bee condemned vnder colour of some euill deed not vttered: it were too [ 20] great wrong & vniustice to be done to a mortall man. But if a bringer of Gods word be condem∣ned, euen as though he had done amisse in his office, without being found faultie: that toucheth not the creature only, neither is the wrong done to a mortal man alone: but it is an outrage done vnto God also, & that is high treason to his per∣son. Ye see then that the cause why Moses saith here, that God will discouer the false Prophets, is to the end they should bee iudged, and also to [ 30] warne folk that they should not couet to be foa∣ded with vaine hope, as I haue tolde you that ye maner of the world is cōtinualy to doe. The pro∣phets had hard hold from time to time with the most part of ye Iewes, because they brought no∣thing but threatnings. These Prophets (quoth ye Iewes) doe trouble vs, & are too importunate v∣pon vs, they speak of nothing but of Gods wrath & cursings: & should they not as well tell vs of gladsome and pleasant things? Those are the [ 40] thinges which the world requireth. Yea but in so dooing we prouoke Gods wrath. We would haue him to be our friend: & wee on our side are ene∣mies to him. If we came to God wt true repentāce & sought him as our father: wee should haue no tydings but of peace & prosperitie to delight in. But what? We suffer not God to be fauorable to vs, nor to shew his loue towards vs. For we make war against him as I said afor•. Therefore let vs learn yt god wil turn ye sayings of ye false Prophets [ 50] to the contrarie, so as when they promise folke welfare and peace, mischief shall insue, whereby they shall be found to haue vsed vaine flatterie. Wherfore let vs not desire to be rocked asleepe with mens deceitfull speeches. For what shall it boote vs to be acquit by them yt haue no power at all: when we shall be condemned before God? And let vs not tary till God to our cost doe be∣wray ye leawdnesse of the false Prophets, & so we be caught in some calamitie. But let vs preuent [ 60] Gods wrath as soon as we see our sins, & let vs be touched with them. And if there be any yt flatter vs, let vs not giue eare to them to bee seduced to our confusion.
Now our Lord setteth downe here two sortes of false Prophets. The one is of thē that speake false∣ly in his name: and the other, is of them that speake in the name of straunge Gods. Then is it not enough for a Prophet to shroud himselfe vnder ye name of the liuing God: but he must also execute his office faithfully. Neither is it enough for him to be put in commission by God, except he execute it with a pure and vpright consciēce. For we see yt the deceiuers haue sometimes obiected thus against Gods seruāts: what? Am not I a Prophet as well as thou? Yes verily, thou art in office: but see how thou dischargest thy selfe of it. Let vs marke then, yt all the matter lyeth not in spea∣king in Gods name: and yt doth experience well shewe vs. For the Pope at this day will speake in Gods name; and yet we shall finde nothing but starke abhominations in his doctrine: there is nothing there but a gulfe of hell to swallowe vp mens soules into destruction. And therefore let vs marke well, that when a Prophet speakes in Gods name, we must examin whether it be truly or no. For if Gods name bee abused, ye expressing thereof is dubble wickednesse. And yt is ye cause why Moses declareth here, first that if a Prophet bring vs word in ye name of ye liuing god, we must consider whether the word be committed vnto him or no. That is one point which wee haue to marke here. And because the wretched worlde hath bin beguiled vnder false pretence of Gods name: let vs learne to make narrower search, and not suffer our selues to be seduced at alauē∣ture, and so to be led by the noses lykebrute beasts. True it is that Gods name ought to haue such reuerence among vs, yt we should all hūble our selues to hearkē to ye things yt are set foorth or spokē of him. But yet must we hold ye meane, as was declared yesterday; which is, yt wee must not receiue all things indifferently yt are spoken; but yt our faith must be the tryer of them. For our Lorde hath not left vs his holy Scripture for naught. It is ye true touchstone whereby we must try all doctrines, yt we may iudge of them aright.
The second sort of false Prophets which Mo∣ses hath set downe heere, is of those which speake in the name of Idols; which abuse crept in at length euen among the Iewes. For after that thinges were once growen out of kinde; All tooke vpon them to be Soothsayers and Prophets: but that was altogether in the name of idols, according to the cities wherein they dwelt. Wheresoeuer there was a Temple: there was a Iewe that said, we haue the foreknowledge of thinges to come, euen by byrth: and yet in the meane while they solde their Prophesies, as these deciuers doe which trot vp and down the world, and say they can tell folkes their fortunes. And it was a com∣mon practise of all the Iewes, as appeareth euen by the prophane histories, when they were once become idolaters. Surely it is a great vnshame∣fastnesse of them, to make such boast of the gift of Prophesie. And why so? They haue that gift because they be the linage of Abraham, because they be circumcised, because they bee Gods owne people and heritage, and because they haue the Lawe, and looke for their promi∣sed redeemer: and yet for all this, they giue o∣uer themselues to such abhominatiōs, that they Page 683 will needes borrowe the meanes of idolaters. And we see in maner the lyke altogether nowa∣dayes in the Popedome: For the Priestes and Monkes boast themselues to haue the office of praying for ye whole Church: and yet in ye mean while they will sing a Masse of our Lady, and a Masse of such a Saint & such a Saint: and so idols are intermingled with the maiestie of the liuing God. For although ye Saints as in respect of thē∣selues, be no idols: yet doe they make them so, [ 10] which doe so abuse their names. And therefore let vs learne to keepe our selues from both these sorts of falshoodes, by hearing no man speake but in the name of God. For wee know there is nothing but vanitie in mans minde, and that we shall be deceiued if we giue our selues to any mortall creature: and therefore onely God is to be heard. Againe, when Gods name is preten∣ded, let vs try whether it be in trueth or no: we haue his word, we cannot lye: and hee will giue [ 20] vs the vnderstanding thereof, if we be lowly and meeke. And if we submit our selues wholy vnto him; it is certeine that he will neuer suffer vs to be deceiued. Well may we be tēpted, as we haue seene in the thirteenth Chapter, yt God wil try vs whether we loue him or no. But if there be such an vpright minde to be found in vs yt we wil seeke to serue him purely, & to obey him: surely hee will deliuer vs frō all deceit. Thus ye see in effect what we haue to remember vpon this text. [ 30]
Now in the end it is sayd, that when a false prophet is found out by tryall, then it shall appeare that he spake vppon presumption, and therefore be not afraid of him. Here are two sayings which import two good and profitable warninges. The one is, yt he which aduanceth himselfe beyond measure, speaketh proudly. For is there a more diuelishe pride, than for a mortal man to thrust forth him self as if he were an instrument of Gods spirit, as though he were an Angel frō heauen, whē in ve∣ry [ 40] deed he is but a lyer, and hath nothing but winde in him? If I take vpon me another man• name, & say, such a one hath giuen me commis∣sion: is it not too leawd a falshood? The partie to whom I haue done ye wrong may come and say, Ah thou lyar, how durst thou abuse my name? Such dealing (I say) would bee counted great in∣iurie. Then if a mortal man auaunce himselfe in the name of God, (as for example, if I step vp in∣to ye pulpit & require audiēce in ye name of God, [ 50] & yet notwtstanding doe fal to seducing of ye peo∣ple:) yt is a pride which passeth al others, as I said afore. For it is not simple lying, it is not single deceit, it is not a simple falsifying of this or yt: but a turning of Gods trueth into vntruth, & a wrap∣ping of God in our falshoods, & an vnhallowing of his holy & sacred name. Therfore let vs mark wel, how it is not for naught yt Moses sayth yt the false Prophets shall be condemned, yea euen be∣cause of their proud & presūptuous dealing, and [ 60] for their vntollerable rashnes. And hereby as ma¦ny as haue ye charge to beare abroad Gods word are warned to walke warely & circumspectly, & to take heed yt in their preaching of ye word, they intermingle nothing of their owne: but yt they haue a speciall care, yt all their sayinges be refer∣red to the true & pure expounding of yt which is written, & that they doe nothing else but apply Gods word to ye vse of the people: As for exāple, I stand not here to make newe Lawes, nor to forge new articles of faith. What then? Our Lord hath vttered his whole will vnto vs in the holy scripture,* & it is not lawful to ad any thing there to. What am I to do thē? wherfore do we preach yea & that continually day by day? To the ende y• the scripture should be well vnderstood, that it should be applyed to our vse, & that men might know how to benefit thēselues therby; as how to imbrace Gods promises, how to order their lyfe aright, & how to liue quietly euery man after his owne calling. The shewing of these thinges is to minister force to ye holy scripture yt wee may vn∣derstand it and fare the better by it, and bee edifyed therewith. Such (say I) as haue ye charge of preaching Gods word, ought to haue a special regard of these thinges.
Howbeit forasmuch as no creature no not euen ye Angels of heauen, are able to execute so high & noble a cōmission: we must pray God to guide & gouern vs, bearing in minde therewith∣all (as S. Paul sayth) yt no man could say yt Iesus is ye Lord,* (yt is to say, no man can giue glory to ye sonne of God,) but by the holy Ghost: & to bee short, yt he which is aduanced highest to teach others, ought to abace himself lowest, for feare least any thing may scape him which hee hath not receiued of God, so as he may safely protest yt he hath not amed at any other end, than the worshipping & seruing of God, euen according to ye doctrine which hee hath deliuered hereto∣fore in his holy scripture. Againe the people are to be exhorted to take heede yt Gods glory bee not defaced. For ye Papistes think it an humilitie allowable before God, & a very good & commē∣dable deuotion, to be so brutish as to receiue all yt euer is put vnto thē. O say they, we must submit our selues to our mother holy Church, yea but in so doing they be guiltie of ye defacing of God himself & of ye bereauing & robbing of him of his authoritie. For why? The Pope & his cleargie are so full of stinking pride & statelynesse, that they make Lawes & subdue mens consciences to thē at their pleasure. Ye see thē yt that is an vsurping of tyrannie ouer Gods people. They excommu∣nicate all good doctrine, to set forth their owne corruptions, & so they defile the pure simplicitie of Gods worde. Well, they be suffered in these thinges, yea & mainteined & defended in their malitiousnesse. And in the meane while God is halfe shaken off, & no account is made of him: for men doe ouermaister him. For as for all them that hearken to false prophets after that fashion, doe they not set vp their diuelish pride to the in∣tent to thrust downe God thereby?
Let vs mark well then, yt whereas Moses spea∣keth here of ye pride or ouerheaddinesse of ye de∣ceiuers: it is not onely to make them to bee mis∣lyked, punished, and cut off from among ye peo∣ple: but also to warne vs that if a man presume to mingle any of his inuentions with Gods word or goe about to alter any part of the order yt he hath set: wee must bee no fauorers of such rash∣nesse. For in so dooing wee diminishe Gods honor, and become guiltie of the vtter defacing Page 684 of him as much as in vs lyeth. And therefore all of vs in general, as well the preacher as the hea∣rer, are warned to consider what the plaine re∣uerence is which God requireth at our hand. It consisteth not in ceremonies, nor in vaine bab∣linges as men say: but in this, that he onely doe speake and all mens mouthes be kept shut. Not yt there should be no Shepheardes, to preach the doctrine vnto vs: but that all should be fetched from him, and he be held as chiefe Maister. The [ 10] way then to beare down all pride and rashnesse, is that the holy scripture haue his full force, so as men vnderstand that that is the standard vnder which we must gather our selues, and that God will be obeyed by mens submitting of themselues therunto. For without that, there will be nothing but pride and ouerstatelynesse among vs. And so ye see that the deuotion of the Papistes is di∣uelish, because they haue left God to submit themselues to creatures, and suffer thēselues to [ 20] be led lyke beastes without any discretion.
And in the same respect is it sayd in the end, Thou shalt not be afraid of such a Prophet. He saith not, thou shalt not feare such a prophet: but word for worde it is, thou shalt not be afraid of such a Prophet. For here God meant to arme his faith∣full ones with constancie, that they might not be put out of countenance by any faire disguise∣ment: but that when they are once instructed in the faith, they should defy all such as vaunt thē∣selues [ 30] and come to make gay shewes vnder the name of God, as I haue tolde you afore, that sometimes men are too fearefull. In deed there are that mocke at God and haue no feeling of conscience at all, but set as light by the trueth as they doe by leasings: & euen at this day, there are that make as much account of the Gospell, as of ye abuses of the Popedome: Iesus Christ & the Pope are all one to them. What a sorte of mockers are to be seene, which will needes bee [ 40] coūted good Christians because they hold skorn of the popish superstitions; and yet in the meane while are despisers of God and his word? Surely they be but dogges and hogs, without any feare of God or ciuil honestie. And yet is the worlde too ful of such corruption and infection. Againe there are othersome very tenderharted. Not yt it is not a vertue to stand in some feare: but be∣cause they be ouerfearefull: when they be vexed with any scruple of conscience, they wote not [ 50] which way to turne them. For if an error be put vnto them, they dare not receiue it for feare: a∣gaine on the other side, if the trueth be put vnto them, their agreeing to it (if they doe agree) is not with any certeintie. Ye shall see a number yt are euer wauering, lyke reedes shaken with the winde. The Masse is holy with them, & the Gos∣pell is holy with them also, and yet they be cer∣teine of none of both. Now our Lord will not haue vs to stand in any such feare. He will haue [ 60] vs to be sure of his worde; & when his trueth is throughly proued vnto vs, he will haue vs to de∣fy the world; & all the diuels of hell; Insomuch yt if the very Angels of heauen should set them∣selues against the Gospell,* wee see how S. Paul sayth that we must hold them for accursed and excommunicate. God then will haue his worde honored so highly, that whē we once knowe it & are sure of it, we must not be any more afrayd.
It standeth vs in hand to put this lesson in vre nowadayes, because the Popes thundring were able to make all the world to quake, if men were not armed aforehand against him, with ye thinges that are told vs here by Moses. The Pope names himself Christes vicar, ye head of the Church, S. Peters successor, & the mainteiner of the Apo∣stolike sea, so as there is no Church of God but ye Church of Rome: nor any Shepheard, or Pre∣late, if the Pope be not head of all: nor any king∣dome of Iesus Christ, otherwise than in ye Popes person, who hath the keyes of the kingdome of heauen. Woulde not the alledging of all these thinges make the stoutest of all to shrinke, if we were not armed against them? Yes: but when al these thinges are pretended, wee must consider whether the reporter of thē do discharge his du∣tie faithfully. For if he speake in Gods name, and yet be found to be a false harlot; hee is ye more to blame for abusing so honorable a title. And the more he was esteemed before, ye lesse is he to bee regarded afterward. Let him thunder his belly full; yet shall all his excōmunications passe into smoke, and all his threatninges shall be but mere vanitie. The effect therefore of ye thinges which our Lord ment to say in this text, is yt being well assured of Gods word, and hauing examined all doctrine, (howbeit with humilitie,) & hauing v∣sed ye foresayd touchstone of the holy scripture: we may wel defye all thē ye cloke thēselues vnder ye gay mantle of Gods name, abusing their com∣mission & executing tyranny in stead of seruing the Church of God. I say we may defy all ye rable of them, & cry out against ye Pope & his abhomi∣nable wickednesse, & not be afraid of any thing yt he can doe vnto vs. For so lōg as we haue God on our side, wee may boldly hold skorne of the whole Popedome, how proude & stately soeuer they be there. That is the thing in effect which we haue to marke, yt wee bee not fearefull where God will haue vs to be stout. But yt when we haue his doctrine & truth, we must so profit our selues by thē, that whatsoeuer ye diuell doe practise, he may not turne vs aside from ye way of saluation: but wee must hold on our course, according to this saying which we shall see hereafter, This is the way,* walke ye therein: and also according to the Prophet Esayes account who saith, This is the rest. Therefore let vs continue therein, and holde on to the marke whereunto God calleth vs: and then can we not doe amisse.
Now let vs kneele downe before the Maiestie of our good God with acknowledgement of our faults, praying him to make vs feele them better thā we haue done, & to strengthen vs more and more by his word, yt his kingdome may be ad∣uaunced among vs, & we indeuour so to serue & honor him, as we may be vnder his protection, and he mainteine vs in such wise, that we know∣ing him to be our good father & Sauiour, may take the more courage to giue our selues wholy to him, all our lyfe long. And so let vs all say. Al∣mightie God heauenly father, &c.