THE Opening of Heauen gates, OR The ready way to euer∣lasting life.
Deliuered in a most Familier Dia∣logue, betweene Reason and Religion, touching Pradestination, Gods word, and Mans Free-will, to the vnderstan∣ding of the weakest Capacitie, and the confirming of the more strong.
By ARTHVR DENT, Preacher of the word of GOD, at South-Shoobery in Essex.
Imprinted at London for Iohn Wright, and are to bee sold at his shoppe at Christ-Church gate. 1610.
The Epistle to the Reader.
THis Diuine worke (gentle Reader) though the Au∣thor left vnprinted, yet comming to his hands that wisht a continuance to the memory of the famous Writer, and a comfort to the soule of the desirous Reader, hee thought good to bring it to the presse: and the rather seeing that the points herein handled (beeing in them-selues very difficult, and here∣tofore Page [unnumbered] not so plainly expressed) are here laid down that the meaner capa∣city may be instructed, & the skilful∣ler more confirmed. Heere thou maist see Reason contending with Re∣ligion, and Religion resoluing those doubts which to Reason seeme dissol∣uable. Here thou shalt know, though Reason tel thee, if God haue praede∣stinated his elect, yet, Religion will tel thee, except thou worke out thy sal∣uation with feare and trembling, thou art none of Gods fore-chosen: If from hence Reason say vnto thee thou hast absolute free-will, yet Reli∣gion will tell thee that thy willing comes from God. In a word; heere Ignorance shall be taught by Truth, and Atheisme confuted by Religion. Then (courteous Reader) peruse this worthie Worke (of the emi∣nent Preacher Maister ARTHVR DENT) wherein thou shalt finde the ready Pathway to eternall life; Page [unnumbered] through which if thou wilt soiourne, at the end thereof thou shalt finde Heauen-gates set wide open to re∣ceaue thee, and troopes of An∣gels ready to carry thee into Abraham his bosom, where thou shalt rest from thy labor, and haue all teares wiped from thy eyes.Page [unnumbered]Page 1
A fruitfull Dialogue be∣tweene Reason, and Religion tou∣ching Gods Predestination, and mans freewill &c.
WHO made this world?
God of his owne singular mercy, for the loue that hee bare vnto man∣kinde.
Of what substance did God ere∣•e it?
Truely of nothing, but by his 〈…〉ly word.
And is it euerlasting, or shall it •ee haue an end?
The scripture doth testifie, that shall bee destroied with fire from hea∣ven, at such time as the Lord hath ap∣pointed; Moreouer we▪ are informed by Page 2 common experience, that it is by nat••• sabiect to dissolution.
I pray you what are we to think• of God that wonderfull workemaster?
Wee ought stedfastly to beleeue, th• hee is almighty, righteous in ••• thinges, and eternall.
That of nature he is indeuisible, and yet consisting of three distinct persons the Father, the Sonne and the ho•• Ghost. This God is called God of in∣comprehenstble wisdome, according t• which he hath most wisely foreseene, and appointed all things. He is vnchange able, alwaies one, neuer passionate: •• is the Lord of reueng, the God of Judge∣ment, at whose breath the mountai••••oe shake: whose seat is the lofty Che••• bines, whose foote-stoole is the earth, h• is a iealious God, striking idslators, a•• such as derogate, from his honor, wi•• terrible plagues, Hee is a consuming •ire, the king of kings, the onely Lord •• all worlds, the beginning, the end, an• yet without beginning, and euerlasting Hee is inuistble, though at one ••••ant beholding all things, at wh••ecke, the heauens are obedient, t• clouds dos gather themselues together Page 3 and the earth doth quiuer and tremble: This God rebuketh the windes, calmeth the seas, limiteth to euery starre his instuence, course and name: this God formed light, and darkenesse, sendeth and calleth backe lightnings, thunders, tempestes, fearefull commets, bla•ing •starrs, and all other wonderfull impres∣sions of the ayrs; This is the God, that •ouldeth the huge earth in his hand hanging like a Globe, in the midest of the world, that fouldeth the heauens like a •crowle, that sendeth the seasonable spring-time, Summer, and Harnest, Frost, Could, Hunger, Famine, and ••stil•nce: he it is that by a certaine in∣•used fertility, causeth trées, herbes, flo∣wers, and euery little grasse to sprout and •pring, to the behalfe of all liuing crea∣tures. So that neither birdes of the •••••e••ts of the ••eld, nor the silly worme••••he earth, doe want sustenance: this is ••at prouident God, that conta•neth the •welling se• within her ban•••s, that or∣••reth that maruelous waterchange of ••owing and ebbing w••••s, that feedeth •e whales, and euery •••ing thing dwel∣••ng in the deepes this is that searcher of ••ret•s: whome no place doth exclude Page 4 whose presence, no action, word, nor thought can escape. This is the good God, that created man according to his owne likenesse, made him Lord of the earth; And when he had plaied the rebe• against him, that recomforted him being throwne out of Paradice with the pro∣mise of the séed of the woman: This God is he that sent his people Israel remedy when they were in thraldome, in the land of Egipt, that parted the red sea, & drow∣ned their enemies, that did safe conduc• them in the wildernesse, that rained downe Manna, that defended Dauid from the force of Saul, that foiled the G• ant, that saued Ionas in the bottome o• the sea, that deliuered Daniel out o• th• Lions denne, Ieremy out of the dung• on, the thrée children out of the hot con∣suming Duen: he is that God that se• his welbeloued sonne, to abide th• death, to redéeme mankinde from th• bondage of sinne, and from the iawe• of sathan: Finally this is that God by whole power all things were ma• and by whose onely prouidence eue• thing is effectually mooued, ordered, a•• brought to passe.
All praise therefore bee vnto this •od most mighty, most righteous, and •ly, that on this tender wise hath loued •wnworthy wreatches, deseruing no∣••ing but the rigor of his Iustice. Now I •ay you declare what was the caus∣•at moued God to create man and to set •im in the world?
That he should serue him, and •cri•ie him.
Which is the way to serue God, •d to glorifie hi••right?
To acknowledge him, as he hath* appointed by his word.
Which call you the word of God?
The same which the Patriarches, Prophets, and Apostles receiued by the ••ly ghost, and committed to writing, which we call at this day by the name of •e eld and new testament.*
How should a man know, that •hose monuments left by the Patriarkes, Prophets, and Apostles, came from God: or that they did euer leaue behind them ••y such writings, as we tearme the old •nd new testament.
As touching the authority therof, though the orderly dispositiō of the wis∣dome Page [unnumbered]Page 4〈1 page duplicate〉Page 5〈1 page duplicate〉Page 6 of God, the doctrine it self, sau•ring nothing of earthlinesse, the Godly agrée▪ment of all parts together among them-selues the maiesty of God shinyng forth in that homelinesse of spéech, the laying together of the foresayings of the pro∣phets, and the successes of the same, and many other such arguments, may •o•pell the wicked ones to confesse, that God is the only Author of the Scripture yet certainely by none other mean, the• by the secret testimonie of y• holy Ghost are our barts truely perswaded, that it is the word of God, for saith y• Apostle, that which we preach, is the word of faith: And* in another place, the whole Scripture (saith he) is giuē by the inspiratiō of God.
But what doe you say to those sel▪lowes* that account the scripture, a dou•sed or positiue law, made for ciuill gouernment onely and authorised by Antiquity, as if it were the diuine word of God, least man not beeing restrained of the heddinesse o• his own affections by some other terrour then that of corporal punishment, should* not yeeld himselfe vnto necessary order?
For my part, I haue little to say t• those Monsters, neither by the grace •Page 7 God, in any society, will I haue to doe with them, but my praier, shalbe that the •ord will sodenly turne their hearts, or • his good timt, pay them their iust de∣•rts. Truely of this sort of mē, I thanke God, in all my daies (although I haue •ard of many) did I neuer know more •en thrée, which if it had pleased the*•ord, were to many by two and one; these •rée, were naturall bretherēn, men ma•∣•lous politique insundry sciences, and •orldly wise, but we the iudgements of God: the two •ounge• were hanged, not many yeares since iustly condemned for ••gh •reason, and the third being the elder •rother, was taken in adultery, and with • knife •iabbed in, and slaine by the hands of his owne wife: and so farre as I vn∣•erstand, ther• is not one of the name left •liue. The foole (saith the Prophet) doth* say in his •••art there is no God, and doubt∣•esse they which with their toungs doe prophāe his word deny not y• same thing, or at least y• which is as •u•l: for besides, that betwéene God and his word there is •lwaies a mutuall relation, so as the one •• not without the other, we finde in the* Scripture, that God is the word; •s for al Page 8 those that are departed this life, in that mind, I leaue them to God, (though with∣out repentance, we say they could not b• saued,) And as for those that bee yet •• uing I looke for nothing more assuredly then to heare tell of their ruine, and so likewise I leaue them.
There is yet an other sort, which do not so brodely blaspheame God, as those* incredulous wretche •• of whome wee haue spoken: But they affirme, yea and that very boldly, that through the diuersity of trans∣lations the Scriptures are falsified in suc• wise, that no certenty is left, for beleefe to rest vpon. This thing although wt the grau• & learned sort may happily not go for pay▪ment, because they are able to iudge be twixt euery translation, and his original yet are the meane sort shrewdly handle• with that suggestion; for thus streach the• out that obiectiō. The Scriptures (say they were deliuered by y• Patriarches, Prophe••* and Apostles, set downe in the Hebrue, and Greeke toungs, afterwards ••anslated aft• diuers fashios by men: yea suchmen as w•• either ignorant of the truth, ••partial • their owne •on ceits, for doth •ot the di• agreemēt of our English translations be••Page 9 witnesse, and make the case plaine inough.
I know these wranglers some∣what* to well, and doe p•••eaue the wili∣nesse, not of them (as •〈◊〉) but of S•∣tan: These men, because they can no 〈…〉 ger with their Pope-holy-righteousne••• sit in the consciences of the Godly, and cause them to imbrace that whoredome of the sea of Ro••, would y•t be loth, that Satan should •eese his intrest, in those that may be ••ayed, by any swing of rea∣son, to incline to their part, if those good men would be so good, as to shew forth our errours, they should both bee heard and thanked. I remember well yt I haue often heard this obiection, but who were* ye obiectors? truely a few sillymen, either papists, or Newters of some little iudge∣ment more then horses, at whome the wise doe laugh, and the Godly harted spew. It is sufficient for our assurance, that the Lord hath promised, to be such a patron, and protector of his word, That it*shall not perish, when heauen and earth shall be brought to naught; and that hee will haue no title added to it or diminished from it. Therfore let vs giue them ouer, and har∣ken to our Sauiour Christ, promising Page 10 that. Whosoeuer beleeueth shalbe saued, is,*blessed, shalbe pardoned of all his sinnes, and haue life euerlasting. And contrariwis••••eatning, that, whosoeuer beleeueth not, 〈…〉 neuer be saued but abide the cuerlasting ••rse of God.
Well let thus much suffice con∣cerning the word of God. Now I pray* you let vs returne, to speake of God some∣what more: you say that the nature, or essence that is common in the god-head, among the persons of the Father, the Son, and holy Ghost, is one single substance, vn∣able to be seuered?
So I say indéed, for otherwise should it come to passe, that so many per∣sons as there be, so many Gods should there bee seuerally deuided: therefore these thrée persons vnited together, in nature, are neuer seperated, but distin∣guished, so as the father, is the father on∣ly, the Sonne, the Sonne onely, and the holy Ghost, the holy Ghost only.
As these three persons are but one God in godhead, so, are they likewise of one euerlastingnesse or eternity? and of one equality without degree?
Yea truely, saue that in order,*Page 11 the father is the first▪ being of none, but himselfe alon•• the Sonne is second be∣gotten* of the Father: the holy Ghost is the third, by an vnspeakeable maner pro∣ceeding of them both.
Surely so farre as I can perecaue, this mistery, is most wonderfull, and vnpossible to be conceiued by man?
Therefore full wisely hath hée taught vs to beléene, and reuerence the secrots of God, that saith, Fides non habet meritum vbi ratio habet experimentum.
Besides these, what other things* are we to consider chiefly in God?
That he is excéeding iust in punish∣ing* the disobedient, and wicked, and that hée is excéeding mercifull to the Godly, and such as loue him, for it is written, that vnto such the Lord is mercifull and graci∣ous, slow to anger, abundant in goodnesse and*truth, reseruing mercy for thousands, forgi∣uing iniquity and transgression.
But it seemeth by this order of his mercy and iustice, that some things doe come to passe, which God willeth not, o∣therwise should there neede no punish∣ment, and therein I cannot perceaue, how his omnipotency is not impeached?
Doubtlesse he could not be God, if any thing should happen, that he would not haue come to passe, whereof the Apo∣stle was full wary in this saying, God bringeth all thinges to passe according to* the councell of his owne will.
Yet can I not perceiue, how his Iustice and mercy, do agree together.
These two are reconciled, and well made manifest, in his sonne. For after our first parent Adam, by the eter∣nall decreement, had cast him-selfe, and al his progeny, into the defilement of sinne, God did raise him vp againe in this se∣cond Adam, euen Iesus Christ, for which* cause he is called, the Lamb slaine from the beginning of the world.
What meane you by that word sinne?
I call any thing sinne, that in thought, word, or deed, is committed con∣trary* to the law and will of God.
And may a man say without sinne, that sinne is willed by God?
Surely God ought not to be cal∣led the author of sinne▪ for how can ini∣quity issue from that fountaine, where nothing is, saue onely the clear• water Page 13 of righteousnesse? Notwithstanding, so farre am I of from holding him a sinner, that reuerently doth ascribe all things to the prouidence of God, that I accompt him rather an Ignorent, and blasphe∣mous sinner that supposeth any thing to happen by fortune, or chance, as if God were ignorant, or carelesse thereof.
Here I perceiue the nayle is dri∣uen to the head, therefore you had need go discreetly to worke, least God bee disa∣bled in any thing, that is dew to his omni∣potency,* or that more be attributed to his power, then agreeth with his iustice. Ve∣rily this is the thing, wherein I haue not onely long time longed to bee instructed, but also beene greatly troubled in minde about the same: I pray you therefore what is the prouidence of God?
By this word prouidence, is* meant the incomprehensible fore-know∣ledge, and wisedome, whereby from the farthest end of eternity, God did behold, appoint, and prouide, when, where, and wherefore, all thinges in heauen and earth should bee: as also his vnmeasura∣ble, and omnipotent power, by which hee hath brought, bringeth, and will bring, all Page 14 the same things, in their seasons, effec∣tually, to passe, according to his own will and purpose.
But sith the Lord is righteous, and so farre off from willing sinne, that on the contrary part, hee doth not only forbid it, but also most greeuously punish it, how can we say that sinne doth attend vpon the ordinances of God?
Certainely my very soule doth* feare, least by ouer much bouldnesse, I should violate, or séeme to neglect that rule of reuerence, that in Gods behalfe, is to be obserued: On the otherside I would be loath, that by to much coward∣ize, I should dishonor the truth: therefore as there want not testimonies of scrip∣ture, to warrant this doctrine, so I thinke it not vnméete, that herein, I follow that generall sentence of the Apostle, whereof wee haue already spoken, namely, that* God bringeth all things to passe accord∣ing to the councell of his owne will, and least I may s•en•e to giue to much liber∣ty, to my owne interpretation, I wil also incline to the doctrine of Saint Augustine who sayth to the very same ef∣fect. The wil of God is the chiefe and prin∣cipallPage 15cause of all maner of actions, & mo∣tions whatsoeuer, for there is nothing, that*proceedeth not from that vnsearcheable wisdome and will of his. Of these two we gather, that if the wil of God, be the prin∣cipall, and originall cause of all things, that is to say, of all actions and motions: Either that sinne doth come to passe ac∣cording* to that souereigne will of his, or else that sinne is nothing at all: that is to say neither action, nor motion, which ob∣surdity by no meanes can be granted: wherefore vnder these two banners, though the first may animate a right co∣wardly soldier, I dare now more bould∣ly shew thée a reason of mine owne, & this it is: By Angels & men did sinne take pos¦session of this world, as appeareth right∣ly, in the derlining of our first parents. Adam and Eue. But neither Angels nor* men, were euer seperated from the go∣uernment, and subiection of their Lord and maker. Ergo. Sinne doth possesse the world, by the ordinance, that is to say the will and appointment of God: This thing is witnessed by the ••ostle. who saith, that: No man shal re•i••••e wil of God. Moreouer behold saith the*Page 16Lord I haue created the Smith that blow∣eth the coales in the fire, and him that bringeth sorth an Instrument for his work.* I, I say, haue created the destroyer to de∣stroy. Many such testimonies may bee recited out of the word of God; But be∣cause the wicked will here take the bitt in theyr teeth (accompting God the au∣thor* of sinne) and runne on head-long af∣ter theyr owne appetite, to all kinde of mischiefe as though it were not meerley vnlawful: wee must before wee go any further, seeke to abate their courage, and take away that buckler, where-vnder they will shield and defend their preten∣ded innocency; Therefore, although by that almighty eye of God, nothing doth passe in the whole world vnséene, and therefore not vnwilled: yet cannot God* be called the Author of euill, for saith the Apostle, there is no vnrighteousnesse with God.
But the corr•••••n of the minde of the first mon (sai••••••ter Caluin) by which we are ••c•me ••eers •ame partly by the pr••••ement of Sathan, partly by* the fr•••y of nature, which nature man did de••e, by his owne voluntary and Page 17 wilfull fall from whence we perceiue, •pecting the meane and second cau∣•) that mankind doth perish through •owne default; And in as much as no*•• sinneth, vnwillingly, but of his own •ord for the most part, no man is vn∣•ly punished, by the hand of God, for •y? That is the only cause of sinne, that 〈…〉 exclude all other causes besides it 〈…〉: But God excludeth no mans wil in*•own actions: Ergo, God is not y• only •se of sinne. If any man wil obiect, y•*〈…〉 is not the cause of his owne euill, in much as God the soueraigne cause of •ses doth prescribe the euent, and di∣•t euery action to the appointed end, answer out of the Maior of my former*•ument: That is the onely cause of •ne, which excludeth all causes besides •elfe.
But man in the wicked actions of •olatry, Murther, Adultery, Theft, and ••h other neglecteth the commande∣••nt of God, and so far forth as in him ••th, excludeth all causes, saue his •ne wicked lust onely, Ergo: Man in •t respect, is the only cause of sinne 〈…〉 iustly deserueth the wrath and cor∣rection Page 18 of God, as witnesseth the Pro∣phet, saying, thy destruction O Israell com∣meth* of thy selfe.
I haue heard thee say ear now, that Angells and men were created according* to Gods owne likenesse, that is, of a sound and vpright disposition, and will: which thing truely is very conuenient, in the eye of reason, for if they had beene ordayned euill by nature, or to that end, that they should decline from that estate by the will of God, it would argue God to bee vn∣righteous, at least in respect of that pur∣pose of his.
Nay it is rather an inconueni¦ence many waies which thou vtterest except the will of God were not worthy to bee the rule of righteousnesse; but s• what other absurdities doe arise out o•* this suggestion of thine, as this: God cre¦ated Angels and men in al points sound not pretending that they should degene∣rate, neuerthelesse they are become euill and haue peruerted that estate of integri∣ty, Ergo they haue broken the wil of God and conuayed them-selues out of his o• dinance: as who should say they are there∣fore exemted from all subiection of their Page 19 maker, because they haue béene stub∣burne against him. Againe, al men at this day are corrupt and euill. Ergo, All men that are now liuing, are without the compasse of the ordinannce of God. These and many other such absurdities, doe follow necessarily of thine obiec∣tion.
Nay Sir, herein as I take it you haue deceued your selfe, with plausible* surmises: sor if the essentiall estate of man be considered apart, from his faulty quali∣ty, not onely Adam in the time of integri∣ty, was the subiect of God, but after his fall also, and in this case may the conse∣quent proue, that the whole route, or sort of wicked men are comprehended with∣in the ordinance of God; Neuerthe∣lesse the corruption of natue and all the euill actions of men, may simply be trans∣ferred to the will and mallice of Satan, and* the fraylty of the workers.
Truely I must néeds confesse, that this shift procéedeth not altogether from simplicity. Notwithstanding if we •end our affection simply to accept of the •ame, we shal fal very fondly to consēt, 〈◊〉Page 20 the blasphemous Maniches, which do op∣pose* Satan against God, for yet againe, how shall God bée omnipotent, if any o∣ther successe of things fall out, then as doth best agrée, with his good pleasure? nay then how shall we not take the holy Ghost napping with infinite leasings which saith, there is no euill in the Citie, which the Lord hath not done. Againe* out of the mouth of the Lord procéedeth good and euill: he hath made all things for his own sake, yea euen the wicked, for an euill day &c. Notwithstanding, if we alude to that will of God, which hée hath reueled vnto vs, according to which he is truly said to be God, that can in no wise will sinne, but he shall forth with bee vn∣righteous,* so farre am I from not consen∣ting thereunto, that on the contrary part I yéeld the whole assent of my soule. But* that wee may discourse of this matter more familiarly, we are especially to ob∣serue two things: the first whereof is this: how, or in what sort sin entered in∣to the heart of man: the second, of what effect or powre sin is against God, these two, shall make it manifest enough, that Satan neuer hitherto did, neither shal a•Page 21 any time, hereafter, ruffle out his part, ei∣ther in this world, or elswhere, without •is pattent, or commission frō the Lord:*•s touching the first of these, we agrée ac∣cording to the scripturs that Adam, in his •state of innocency in all the instrumen∣•all par•s of his body, had a proportiona∣•le resemblance, aswel in soule, as minde to the Image of God (I mean not in per¦•on, but in holinesse) so that he stood at that time in such high and heauenly per∣fection that no tittle could be added for* his greater integrity: how bee it we are well assured, that God neuer did beauti∣•e him with the ornament of constancy whereby he might haue obtained able∣nesse, and power to stand out in that e∣•tate. Now therefore is it manifest, that •inne, beginning at the same vnconstan∣ty, to insinuat among the good •arts of Adam tooke not euen there his very ori∣ginal as a thing hapning, or comming by chance, for this only reason, that God would not furnish him (as in truth there was no law to bind him) with constancy, 〈◊〉 well as with all other notable endou∣•ents, as in whom he had fore-ordained, that y• high estate should be tickle, & but Page 22 change ably good. For how was it possi¦ble, that any thing should intrude it selfe into the worke of God, where of hée was not only most wary, & héedful, but of pow¦er also to intercept any thing that might osseud him? for this cause doubtlesse, it is said. That the people of Israel, & the gen¦tiles* did gather themselues together, a∣gainst our Lord and Sauiour Iesus Christ to do what soeuer the hand and counsel of God, had appointed to be done from euer lasting, in whom (saith the Apostle) we were predestinate before the foundation of the world. Finally we finde that be¦fore* the instant of mans creation, mu•• more then before he fel away from righ¦teousnesse, God had planted in the ga• daine, a trée of the knowledge of good & •¦uil: In this truly can we perceaue one •¦ther apparance of truth, but that God vnchangeable purpose would haue hi• to tast thereof, although hee were forbi• dent for why? had not this thing bin pr•¦fixed by the decrement of God, why mad• he that tree of nature by yt selfe contr•• to al the rest? why made he any different of good and euil at al? who without doub• could haue made as easily the things y••Page 23 would, as hee can easily doe the things that be done. Why made he any of the in∣struments whereby man was changed, •amely, Satan, and the Serpent: loe thou •ost perreaue (I hope) day light at this little wicket.
As touching the second thing herein to* be obserued, namely, of what power or efficacy sinne is against God, I say that albeit many fond & vntoward witted men, haue maintayned in time past two originall beginnings of things, ascri∣•ing to good things, GOD for the au∣thor, and to the euill things the diuell, whome with his euill things, they diuel∣•ishly déemed more eternall, then God & good things, and that Maugre the might of God, the diuell played all his vngrati∣ous pageants: yet considering, that eve∣ry man but meanely instructed in the •chole of reason, is ready to spew at this •lasphemy: I hope a few testimonies, from among many, may serue to suffice the Godly: we read therefore in the his∣tory* of that righteous man Iob, that Satan could not once touch his person, goods, nor cattle, before such time, as the LORD had giuen him leaue. Page 24 Likewise, the deuells besought our Sa¦uiour* Jesus Christ saying: If thou cast v• out, suffer vs to go into the hear'd of swine Moreouer, if we should hunt out by cu∣rious speculation, the creation of angels the cause, m••mer, time, and place of thei• fal, (which little partaineth to edification but rather to séed their itching and fan¦tasticall eares, that cannot content them selues, with the simplicity of faith) we should find that Satan in his first esrate was the creature of God, and there fore can haue but a power subiect, in the ex¦ecution* of such wickednesse, as he execu¦teth.
Be it as thou hast said, for it accor∣deth well with reason: But let vs come backe to the second instrument or meane* cause of Adams sall, namely the serpent because I would gladly vnderstand, whe∣ther he serued Satan as an instrumēt in that enterprice, or whether of his owne malice he did helpe to delude the woman, know∣ing before hand the Lamentable euent o• transgression.
Truely albeit the serpent was most subtill of beasts, before such time as the gift was taken from him for his Page 25 fault, and in that respect like enough to maligne the estate of man, if he weare capeable thereof; yet doe I perceue no reason, that he should haue any insight* at all, into the calamity, of transgression; Nor yet that he might any way be incen∣sed by mal•tious pretence, to bring man∣kind into Apostacy: But this doth offer it selfe more méetely to mine opinion, that Satan, (as saith M Caluin in his ex∣position, vpon that part of Scripture) ha∣uing then had no familiarity, or commu∣nication with man, standing then in néed of an instrument, did choose out the sub∣till Serpent, because he was the aptest, or most actiue for such an exployt, into whom for the better finishing thereof, he conneyed him-selfe, and so gat accesse, more fitly to the woman.
Well then, as for thine arguments of Gods diuine prouidence, truely I must needs cōfesse, that I find them in some res∣pect so plausible, & matching with reason, that thou dost almost compell me to yeald vnto thee: yet for as much, as God is there∣by* brought in suspition of euil I draw back and dare not franckly yeald my consent: Therefore may it not be said, that GOD Page 26 doth appropriat all things which haue any instinct of nature, besides man to his owne direction, and turne man ouer to his pecu∣liar choyse of well, or ill doing, hauing rea∣son and the word of God, as Lanterns to guide him aright.
Uerrily neither can I perceue a∣ny reason that should moue the Lord to* giue the Law out of his own hand, consi∣dering he was not ignorant, how apt man was to abuse him-selfe, and to incline to the euill part; Except God were well pleased, that man should run beadlong into that laborinth of mischiefe, into which we all are fallen, through his de∣fault: and then commeth all to one rec∣knoning,* for his will is also there. Not∣with-standing, I wot well there be •er∣••ine▪ Frée-willian Papistes, Anabap∣tists, Pelag•ans, Celestines, and others, wich doe ••outely maintaine that man in his naturall powers hath that validity to climbe into the heauens: But our Sa∣uiour Jesus Christ, reproueth all such,* saying. No man can come to me, except the father that sent me drawe him, Againe, you haue not chosen me (saith •e) but I haue* chosen you and ordained you, that yea go and bring forth frute. To which merrit∣m•ngers, Page 27 the Prophet saith: Their owne arme did not saue them but the right* hand of the Lord, and the light of his* countenance, because he did fauour them, Like-wise saith the Apostle: what hast thou that thou hast not receaued, if thou hast reaceued it, why dost thou reioyce, as though thou hadst not receaued it? More∣ouer,*the stoppes of a man, saith Salomon, are ruled by the Lord, the way of a man is not in him-selfe, the Lord hath mercy on* whome hee will haue mercy and harde∣neth whome hee will harden, it is not in* the willer, nor in the runner, but in God that sheweth mercy: yea are saued by grace through faith, and not of your selues: it is the gift of God: wee are not of our selues able to thinke any thing as of our selues. Notwithstanding all these I say, and al∣most* infinite numbers of such like, doe these deuout men, as though it were for the onely defence or safety of a Christian common-weale, violently and with whole thousands of bloudy combats, and challenges, like foolish bould champions, maintaine the quarrell of mans frée will and power.
And why▪ for sooth because they would Page 28 in no wise intangle God, or bring him in within the lists or compase of euill, this deuotion of theirs, will not suffer them, to entertaine such testimones of Scrip∣ture, as doe make mention of Gods pre∣destination and prouidence, wherin they shew themselues more nice, or would be accounted more holy, then the Holy Ghost him-selfe: well let it bee that all their sturres and bra•les do issue forth of that fountaine of zeale, and not from the slaughter-house of infidelity, and Pa∣gamsme, yet saith the Apostle: All this* zeale is blindnesse and damnable, as not being seasoned with the Salt of know∣ledge: woe be to him, (saith the Prophet) that for saketh God, to make flesh his right arme; Yea heare me not, saith our Sa∣uiour* Christ because yea are not of God. Hereof it commeth, that the Lord doth complaine by the month of the Pro∣phet saying, I haue nourished and brought vp children, but they haue rebelled against* me, the oxe knoweth his owner, and the Asse his Masters Crib, but Israel hath not knowne my waies.
But that wee may better bethinke vs, and not so negligently passe ouer that Page 29 pure and vnspotted, Romaine Catholi∣que zeale, it is necessary that wee call backe the nature of mankind to her first creation. And thē if it be demanded whe∣ther frée-will were in mans nature at his first creation; I answer, (& yet not I) but the word of God) ther was so, for I make no do 〈…〉 frée-will, be in God, then was there and frée-will in man; who in that estate was the liuely likenesse and I∣mage of God: but if it bee demanded, whether in that nature, were any frée∣will, to deliberate on the euill part I de∣ny it; for how could Adam debate vpon ye* thing, that yet was not entered into the world, especially, séeing with the whole assent of his mind and body, he was dispo∣sed to obey the commandement of God: Furthermore, behold I pray you the gal∣lant zeale of these Godly men: which wil in no wise suffer y• Scripture, according to the wisdome of God, to transfer al the actions of men to the foreknowledge of* God: & yet they themselues, will not only not cease with most hateful blasphemy, to proue him an outward consentor to al vn∣graciousnesse, but also more blasphemosly goe about to attaint the very nature of Page 30 God, of so much abontynation, & wicked∣nesse, as by that generall propagation, is descended from Adam, into his progeny. Here haue I néed to bestur me apace, for if I handle not the matter right nimbly, this bould challendge, shal quickly bring more fists about mine eares, then mine owne; but it is no matter, I feare not the quarrel, & therefore must I now make it good, though I séeme to stand in briers vp to y• chin, or else cry creake, like a dastard crauin: for I know defendants more thē to many, y• are ready to snatch vp y• gloue before it come at y• ground. Let vs yet a∣gaine therfore returne to Adā, & with one blow or twaine this fray shalbe ended. This mā y• Lord said was created accor∣ding to his own likenes whom y• Papists doth affirme, to haue receaued fréewil to those euill, by y• prerogatiue of his first e∣state: but God therin is slaundered & that Annocēcy of Adam belied, for yet again I* say, euil was not thē in y• world, & therfor I perceiue not, how God did set before him fire & water, & cōmit the acceptāce of either to his choise; but I finde y• hee said vnto him, thou shalt not taste of the tree, if thou dost, thou shalt die the death: goe to* thē: the wil of God was alwaies righte∣ous, Page 31 e•en so was Adams fréenesse, fréely righteous, according to y• righteousnesse of God, saue that it was chāgeable: but if the defendant wil not for shame say, that sinful appetite is righteousnes, either let him confesse that Adam had the same ap∣petite, y• did carry him frō hi• pure estate somewher else, thē immediately from y• hand of God by creation: or else, let him cōclude against God, that that vncleane∣nesse of Adam, came from an vnclean• workemaister: or at the least that Adam was neuer the image of the righteous God, & so consequently proue God a liar, in that he did so call him. If all this be to no purpose, I desire to be resolued, how the Papist hath not done open wrong to God, and wherein my assertion is false, they say (perhaps that which they would not) that only the nature of God, I mean• his righteousnesse according to which he created Adā hath some respect of euill, as* also y• ther procéeded from y• hand of God a substāte corrupted, naturally inclinable to inquity, but moreouer, & most vntru∣ly, y• God by a palable indifferency, and luke-warme affection, hath giuen his owne outward consent, to all the wicked∣nesse of the world, if this were true then Page 32 shal we neuer haue néeded Jesus Christ, to pay our debt, for no remission néedeth, if a commission be once granted: but the word, or commandment of God, doth re∣fraine vs of all manner of euill, therefore may we stedfastly beléeue, that God ne∣uer gaue man frée-will to commit euill.
Now Sir let the indifferent giue sentence, whether these men haue committed high treason against God, or I haue cited them to answer for them∣selues, by iust accusation: if it be found, that I haue done them iniury, I will not faile to séeke some way, to make them so large amends, as my fault shall be ad∣iudged to require, and so to appease their charitable anger: if they be found to haue retayned no more modesty or defence,* for the righteousnesse of God then his own word, let their zeale (a Gods name) be condemned as foolish, & that I may vse the words of the Apostle, without know∣ledge: and they at last leue off their frée∣will and meritorious righteousnesse, and* reuerently giue place to the word of God which is not ashamed thus bouldly to plead in the behalfe of his omnipotency, and prouidence in ruling, and disposing the actions of all things. Page 33The Lord did harden, the heart of Phara∣•.* He sent an euill spirit to vexe Saul. He •h appointed euill, and put a spirit of ly∣•g in o y• mouth of the Prophets. He cau∣•h man to depart from his feare. He hath ••t strong delusion, that lyes might bee •leeued: Hee raizeth vp the euil in the ••ses of his owne seruants. Hee doth ••ke peace, and create euill: He giueth vp •o a reprobate minde: He doth all the •ll that is in the Cittie: He deceaueth the ••phets which bee deceiued, stretcheth ••th his hand vpon those Prophets, that ••-selfe hath deceiued, and destroyeth ••m from amidds his People, and yet is •aies all holy and Righteous.
Well not-withstanding these, & whole 〈…〉ds of such like, which crush in •ces the frée-will of man and most •ngly vnder prop the ordinance of ••d, yet may I not thinke thus to pack my pipes & be trudging, least I séem triumph before the victory, and to •st of a blast, that shaketh no corne▪ •erfore hauing setled my selfe once ••ne to my defence, at length there •ghteth this perilous stroke: What •a, sayth maister Aduersary, yf Page 34 you will so malapertly, auouch th•*Adam, had not frée-will, it shall come passe that in that action of falling, he h• no will at all, and so consequently t〈…〉• God did vse some actuall constrai〈…〉 which being graunted, how I pray y〈…〉 could God punish him, or his posteri〈…〉 as being •eiected in the same fall; F〈…〉 sooth I answere; That after such •i〈…〉* as Adam had giuen eare to Sath〈…〉 his heart began to swell, and wa〈…〉 so bigge with concupiscence that he would néeds strike saile to his own misfortune: yee sée now I goe abo〈…〉 nothing lesse then to robbe, and 〈…〉 poyle Adam of a will, that was s〈…〉 vnto euill.
But my purpose is that Sath〈…〉 be accompted the mediate Author th• of: For surely it can in no wise 〈…〉 akinn• to that will which was giue him of God, except it were possible 〈…〉 GOD to haue a sinfull will also, whose likenesse he was framed, as w〈…〉 haue already proued.
Nay I say moreouer, that as the w〈…〉* of Adam before his fall was free vn〈…〉 righteousnesse, and to the seruice Page 35 God, euen so after hee had giuen his 〈…〉•nsent vnto satan, that his will, and 〈…〉nsequently, the will of his ofspring, 〈…〉as alwayes frée vnto euill, and the 〈…〉ruice of sinne, not able of it selfe, with∣out the grace of God, once: o rise vp to 〈…〉hold the beauty of righeousnesse, nor 〈…〉 thinke a good thought; for it is writ∣〈…〉. After yee were the seruants of sinne,*〈…〉e were free from Righteousnesse: All are one out of the way, they are all corrupt, 〈…〉ere is none good, no not one: the Lord 〈…〉w that the wickednesse of man was*〈…〉eat in earth, and all the imaginations of 〈…〉s heart, and thoughtes, were onely euill*〈…〉ntinually.
Héere if the heat of mine Aduersa∣〈…〉es were so farre past, that they would 〈…〉use and breath, I might take oportu∣nity to lette fall this one féeble stroake. 〈…〉f Adam in his righteous estate, and 〈…〉gh perfection, had power to doe the 〈…〉ill of God, if he would; and yet did fall 〈…〉rough infirmity, how shall the Papist that of him-selfe, hath not power to 〈…〉ink one good thought) fulfill the whole 〈…〉aw, and deserue so bountifully for* him-selfe, and such of his friends, as wil Page 36 friendly consider his paynes: Alasse poore soule, hee had néed to stand hard to his tackling, and to plye his stumps apace, or else I feare me, he wil be taken tardy, with hyp ocrites and deceiuers of men.
Wel al this while doe I beap who• coales vpon mine own head, for hauing graunted, that the first mans fall did spring out of y• bosom of infirmitie, now must I prepare my selfe to beare this counterbuff, for saith the aduersary now* are ye taken like a desperate Cockerel of your Father Manicheus own brood. For how could infirmity destroy the li∣neaments and good parts of man, & gett the goale against all that vprightnesse wher-with God indued him.
I answer, it is true indéed: Ergo what* an absurdity ariseth out of frée-wil? ther∣fore if I had not transferr'd the whole interest of things ere now to the Di∣uine prouidence of God, yet shal this ob∣iection come too late.
By the processe of this circum∣stance* I perceiue that Adam had once power to stand, & obserue the Comman∣dement of God, if he would, but in that he Page 37 not only would not, but also on the other side wilfully & like a rebel did cast down him-self, and his ofspring into base mis∣fortune, from the top of felicity, surely it is most wonderfull to me: wherof there yet ariseth this que••ion? Why would he nor.
Doubtiesse I cannot aduertise thée, of a more forceable cause, then the ordinance of God: but if thou wilt, wée may yet speak more plainly.
Therefore it fared with Adam i•* that estate, as now adaies it doth with many men, that will not haue great plenty of money in their coffers, because they cannot get it. So Adam would not continue in his integrity (for intruth •• fel willingly) because he could not resist the ordinance of his God: But least wee may séeme to wander without our lists, let our Sauiour Christ witnesse the truth in this case: Come ye blessed of* my father (saith he) possesse the Kingdom prepared for you before the foundation of the World; Agayne, hee is called the* Lambe slayne from the beginning of of the VVorld. Therfore let vs con∣clude, that if she Lambe were slayne from the beginning (wherof we may not Page 38 doubt, in as much as ye holy Ghost ha• spoken it) & the Kingdom of heauen (th• same Kingdom I mean y• wee shal in•o through Iesus Christ) were prepared f•• the children of God, before the foundat¦ions of the world, that the fall of ma• was prepared in like manner: for th• one cannot •e without the other.
Verily in this wonderfull secret 〈…〉 so, Reason doth vtterly falle me.
Answer thy selfe, it was not f•• naught that the Apostle himselfe hauing waded in this matter, whose insight wa• neither to be measured by reasō, nor th• art prospectiue, was forced to cast down himself in this humility. O the deepe i•∣ches* both of the wisdom, & knowledge• God, how vnsearchable at his Iudgmen• & his waies past finding out? It shall he• part therfore of al the children of God although they faile to comprehend the s• cr•ts of his vnsearchable wisedom, 〈…〉* the Apostle to be•éeue, wher •umane wi•¦dom ceaseth: And not to reiect the tru•• (which we know by ye scripture) becau•• they a• not able alwayes to discry it.
Truly • haue not much to say again•• thee, not withstanding it seemeth yet y• be¦tween Gods prouidence, & mans free-w〈…〉Page 39 the truth hangeth in doubtful ballance.
Well I graunt, it may seeme so •nto reason, I will therefore shew the* two Reasōs, that shal conclude the mat∣ter; when God▪ had set before him ye wō∣derfull masse, out of which hee formed •eauen and earth, & all thinges that they •oth do containe, we are to bethinke vs •hether he did behold man, for whom he made the world, and were wel aduised that event should sollow him: if hee •ere not, where is then that foreknow∣ledge appertayning to the wisedome of God, wherof the Apostle sayth, The foun∣dation* of the Lord is sure and hath this •ale, he knew who were his: And in ano∣ther place, coupling to the same fore∣knowledge, his own wil: whom saith he, ••e Lord hath foreknowne them also hath ••e predestinated that they might bee like ••e Image of his Son: If vnto God wee*••āt this foreknowledg, which without •oubt, without great wickednes, we cā∣not deny, because wee should accuse him 〈…〉 ignorance, and so in effect allow ••m for no GOD at all, then is the •nclusion both true & casie, that albeit ••e total of mans demerites were in y••••ighty eye of his perceiuing that man Page 40 would apply him-selfe to all kind of 〈…〉 demeanor, yet did he find nothing tha• did mislike, which he suffered to hap•• for he might haue staid his hand in t• good ynough as I suppose.
My second reason cleaueth so fast to* foreknowledge of God, that they 〈…〉 séeme ka•er Cousins, and some what n〈…〉* rer; How-beit for as much as it wil g〈…〉 great light in the matter, as also beca〈…〉 Reason may very well play her p〈…〉 therein, we will not neglect the sa〈…〉 Therfore this it is; Considering t• the end is the first intent of euery ag〈…〉 or doer, so that wise men of this wo〈…〉 do seldome take such a thing in h〈…〉 without an especiall purpose what 〈…〉 become thereof, which notwithstand〈…〉 in respect of God are very blocks and their actions of vile regard: We are d〈…〉 gētly to obserue, whether the fame pur¦pose, ought much more to be granted the God of al wisedome in that nota〈…〉 action of mans creatiō: if it bee graun• (as granted it must bee) in as much* the Apostle doth warrant it, saying, whome wee were chosen when we were Predestinate according to 〈…〉Page 41purpose of him which worketh all thi〈…〉 I would faine learne of Sim Sophister, whether God hauing appointed our end* sure and certaine, in his owne vnchan∣geable purpose, had forgoten the efficy∣ent causes of the same, or left them to the wild hazard of the dice, or to the gentle curtesie of Lady-fortune. If because we séeme to carry the head in our owne hand (which neuer the lesse are for the most part restrained of those things wee would) he will say, that God had no pur∣pose, when yet we were not, what to doe with vs. What asse will not laugh, if he shall confesse, that, that purpose is inuio∣lable, séeing in al earthly causes the Lord worketh by meanes? who will not thinke him mad, that shall exclude our thoughts, wordes and déedes, from working the end of Gods foreknowledge and pur∣pose?
But if God in this sort be the wor∣ker of all things, it seemeth that all free∣dome of mans-will is bereft, and truely this is euen as much as to deny man to be a reasonable creature.
Although I haue not detracted* from the fréedome of will, so much that Page 42 thou hast cause to gather that conse∣quent out of my words: yet for my better answer to this obiection, I will vse the helpe of Saint Augustine, who saith. It is vndoubted that we do will, when we will, and that we doe worke, when we worke; but to be able to will, and to bee able to worke; hee bringeth to passe in vs, of whome it is said, God is he, that worketh in vs, both to will, and to doe, againe the* same Augustine, which of vs (saith he) dare avouch that man kind was vtterly spoy∣led of freewill by the sinne of the first man? freedome perished in deed through sinne, but it was that freedome, where with man was created in Paradise, free to inioy full righteousnesse, and imortallity: for the which the nature of man standeth in need* of grace, according as the Lord him-selfe doth testefie, saying. if the Sonne doe de∣liuer you then shall you be free indeed, free I meane to liue well, and vprightly: for so farre is it off, that freewill did perish alto∣gether in sinners, that by the same freewill, men doe offend, especially they that take pleasure in sin, and which being delighted with sinne, doe with pleasure greedily fol∣low their own lustes: thus much S. Augu.
Page 43And now to conclude, if by that fréedom* of mans will which thou saist is bereft, by the doctrine of prouidence, thou mean that man doth not euill willingly, and with a plaine consent and tractablenesse vnto Satan the tempter, so farre am I from bereauing him of that will, that I affirme, his mind and will to be carried to euil things most willingly, according to the sa〈…〉after sinne, man is free from* righteousnesse: for the more certinty, let a man enter into himselfe, and consider, whether it be compulsion, that doth cause him to sinne, or his owne voluntary will, and I doubt not but he shal soone perceue the whole fault in his owne fréewill: but if by fréenesse, thou meane neuer so little an ablenesse of mans own proper strēgth, to performe neuer so little good o• euill: I willingly d•e embrace thy obiection; namely, that man hath no fréedome at al,* vnder the warrant of all those places of Scripture which I haue already cited to that effect, and many other such: for who knoweth not, that if the Lord him-selfe, by his only magnificent power should not continually support the world, that we should anon bee made an hotchpatch, Page 44 and tumbled together into vtter confu∣••on? how then can we haue the face to say, that wee haue hability to doe this good thing, or that bad thing, be it neuer so little, as of our owne proper strength.
On the otherside, if thou meane the Papists deliberating, or chosing frée-wilt, as being authorised by God to doe, or* not to doe his owne commandement, who will not laugh at this 〈…〉? for how can there be frée liberty giuen, and yet a sharpe restraynt? againe, as we haue al∣ready sayd, those frée-willians cease not to make the Lord of so grosse and rude vnderstanding, as if good and euill were all good in the eye of God: but how can that br•bling be true, when the price of righteousnesse was faine to be paid, with the blood of Jesus Christ? or how could he call for satisfaction, when as by a cer∣ten carelesnesse he had consented to e∣uell, except he were new •angled accor∣ding to the manner of men?
Last of all, if (I say) man were so much* Lord of himselfe, that he had power, to shape out his own proper fortune, where is that purpose of God become, that we spake of eue now? if God held that pur∣pose, Page 45 how can man dispose of him-selfe? •or there cannot be a setled determinati∣on, and purpose in God of man, and yet a peculiar power in man to appoint his owne end: if by any colour the pur∣pose of God might be denied, which can∣not be (for as much as it is written of the* childeren being not yet borne, which had done neither good nor euil, The elder shal serue the yonger, that the purpose of God which is according to election might re∣maine sure; then would all these inconue∣niences following, fall out against God.
- 1. First and chiefely, that he is care∣lesse of man, whome in such sort he hath giuen vp to himselfe.
- 2. Secondly, that God is vaine, & idle: for how can he bee otherwise, yt without any mediation, or request, hath done such things as him-selfe in no wise regardeth.
- 3. Thirdly, that the Scripture bearing witnesse of his tender loue, and •elousts ouer his people, is false.
- 4. Fourthly, that he neuer sent Jesus Christ, to pay the ransome of our sinne.
- 5. Fiftly, that he made not man for his glory, with that Angelicall difference from insensible creatures to serue him, Page 46 but rather to obay his owne lust.
- 6. Sixtly, that God doth communicate with some fellow parteners, as Satan, fortune, or man, in the gouernment of those creatures, that be his owne.
- 7. Seauenthly, so farre as I can per∣ce•ue, we might from hence shew presi∣dents of authority that it is not vnlaw∣full for vs to liue carelesse of God alto∣gether, for if God be carelesse of vs, by what meane should he bind vs to so much duty & a legiaunce, as he hath comman∣dstd by his own word; nay it should séeme that we might be carelesse of such a God as had in none other sort vouchsafed to prouide for our safety: but we know, that all these are false, and therefore doe finde our selues most bound to serue our God in all thankefulnes & dutiful obedience.
Now Sir, if Maister Aduersary will* cast about, and come vpon me with this double blow, according to his custome, and say, God foreknew indéed from e∣uerlasting who were his, and according to y• same fore knowledge, determined of man all after his desart should requier; & that answerable to y• proportion of his good or euil, God did foresée and purpose to shape out his rewards for him, like to Page 47 the Tailor, that for sauing of cloath cute•h after the scantling of his measure: I leaue the Apostle to doe my message in his care which otherwise may séeme to call him open liar, Saying: The purpose of God* doth examine according to election, not of workes, but of him that calleth: and againe*That election is of grace & not of workes. On the other side, the ouer sitting of slat contraries doth require, that the repro∣bates or •seastes, should be reiected ac∣cording to the iudgement of God, whom he had prepared for his glory to destruc∣tion: for so doth the Apostle witnesse; be∣sides this also, very reason doth instruct* vs, that as often as y• Scripture maketh mention of the predestination of the cho∣sen sort, so o•t is the predestination of the reprobats confirmed: Now therefore to giue frée will his packing penny, we may boldly say, y• if frée wil be, Gods prouide∣nce is not: if Gods prouidē∣ce is, let these testimonies suffice. He is with every little bird y• falletho• the ground he feedeth the* Rauens & prouideth for euery foule of the aire: he numbereth the heares of our head, & suffereth not on heare to perish without his wil; he disposeth the lots: he telleth our daies, numbereth our monthes, and limi∣tethPage 48our bounds: which we shall not passe.* &c. To proue that fréewill is not, I craue none other witnesse then S. Augustine, writing vpon the 2. Epistle of Pelagius chap. 10. I can see nothing (saith he) in the whole Scriptures giuen by God in com∣mandement to man, to proue that man* hath freewill, that may not bee found ei∣ther to be giuen of Gods liberality, or re∣quired to set forth ye assistance of his grace.
What thinke you then, of the per∣mission, or sufferance of God, whereby he is said to suffer sinnes.
If in sufferance, wee obserue al∣waies this thing, that God worketh not properly in the wicked, but doth leaue them ouer to Satan, and their own lusts, and yet reserue his prouidence, that he may not stand as an Idle looker on, sure∣ly wee ought not to reiect it, but if any shall goe about, to set Gods sufferance, and his will at oddes, he shall loose his labour, and proue him-selfe a foole. Here∣vpon saith M, Beza full well, in his booke* of questions and answers, if sufferaunce bee matched against willingnesse, first I say it is faulse, and secondly vtterly against reason. Page 49 That it is false is manifest by this, y• if •od suffer any thing to be don against his •ill, then surely is he not God, that is to •a•, almighty: But if he be said to suffer • thing, as though hee were retchlesse, •ow farre are we from the opinion of •picurus? It remayneth then, that looke what he su•••reth, to be doue, he suste∣•th i• willingly: herewith doth Saint Augustine,•••ée saying: If we suffer such*•• are vnder our correction, to doe •ickedly •• ou• sight: We must needs bee •hought accessaries to their wicked• esse, ••t God doth permit sinne to range with∣•ut measure, euen before his eyes, wherin •he were not willing, surely hee would •ot suffer it in any wise, and yet is hee •ghteous notwithstanding: Now there∣•e to stoppe the mouthes of cauillers, •hich in no sence will away with this ••inction of will and sufferance, but •on doe giue sentence by a necessary •sequent, that God is the Author of •ne, let vs sée whether the Apostle doth conclude: what (sayth he) It God wil∣•• to shew his wrath, and to make his*••e• knowne: did suste• with long pa∣••ce, the vessels of wrath, prepared toPage 50destruction: Wee sée hee made no conscience to binde, or knitte vppe, the will of GOD and his suffe∣rance together, as by the circum∣stance of the same Chapter most eui∣dently appeareth: Ergo, they are all cauillers that doe say that GOD suffe∣reth* any thing that hee hath not willed before hand.
Thus hast thou not onely defen∣ded, and very sufficiently proued the pro∣uidence of God, but also as it were by the hayre of the head haled free-will of choo∣sing, and all idle sufferance out of dores▪ which in truth haue beene the professed enemies to the same prouidence of old time: Now therefore I pray you declar• in what sort GOD doth will sin, and ye•* Iustly punish it with that dreadful destruc∣tion of body and soule.
Thou knowest the will of God is onely the rule of righteousnesse from whence it is his good will and pleasure to bee glorified: for so it i• written of Pharao, therefore doth he•* will, or suffer it iustly, and because that Commandement or Lawe, where by hee limiteth the courses of righte∣ousnesse, Page 51 is not onely transgressed, •ut also no sparke of inclination found •• man to performe the righteous∣•esse therein requyred, therefore •oth the LORD most iustly punish ••nne.
But this is no answere, for if •obee the LORD doth appoynt man •o sinne for his glory sake, and neuerthe∣•esse restrayning the execution thereof▪ 〈…〉se his rodde or correction, shall it not •e sayd, that God is vnrighteous, in that •ee stretcheth forth his hand vppon In∣•ocents.
Nay rather, hée that shall bu∣••ly goe about to knitte the LORD ••ppe in such a straight, that hee may not ••oe with his owne creatures, which*•ée created for him selfe, what see∣•eth best vnto his wisedome, doth •ndoubtedly committe double and vn∣•peakable abhomination, for (sayth ••e Prophet) Woe vnto him that*•il contend with his Maker, a brittle •otsherd, of the out-cast potsherdes of •he earth, shall the clay say vnto the pot∣••r▪ why dost thou make mee thus, did 〈…〉 handes fayle thee in thy worke?Page 52Wo vnto him, that saith to his father, what hast thou begotten? or to his mother, what hast thou brought forth? What though the Lord will haue mercy? And will harden whome hee will harden? Is there vnrigh∣teousnesse with God? God forbid, saith the Apostle: if this answer may not seru• sufficient, take this by the way which we haue already handled: The cause o• sinne is resiant: but the cause wherfor• sinne doth become sinne, and so punis▪able must bee ascribed to the ordinanc• of God: now who-soeuer doth conte•• him-selfe with this, doth séeke a caus• beyond the will of God. Yet wee kno• that darknesse doth seruice to the light and sinne (so farre as it is willed, or pu∣nished by God) doth illustrate the glor• of God.
In what sort therefore ma• wee say that wicked men do the will o• GOD.
If by the name of Will; yea me〈…〉* that thing, that is pleasing in the sight 〈…〉 GOD, and conuey the word doe, to〈…〉 right intent of obteyning, in this ca• truly, the wicked sort, not onely doe 〈…〉 the will of God: but also wholy doe le〈…〉Page 53 away them-selues to the will of Sa tan: But if the word will bée taken in that generall signification, to wit •or that thing which the LORD •ath willingly purposed to bring to •asse, and refer the word doe, not to the •ntent and and purpose of the doer, but to the euent and successe of the matter, •t may in no case be doubted, but God •oth excute his will by Satan, and all the wicked company of men: As for ex∣ample:* it is sayd that the Cauldaeans were appointed of God to punish the disobedient Israelites, theeefore as far as they wrought according to this appoint∣ment which was secret, and kept close •rom them, they did the will of God: but*•or as much as the Lord had giuen no outward commandement, or token to them, wherby they might be think them∣selues, to doe the worke of God in that •ction, but did rather hearken to South∣•ayers, and obey their owne cruelty or •ust, they did not onely not the will of God, but also opposed them-selues full •utte against it: for the commandement •ayth, thou shalt loue thy neighbour as •hy selfe: thou shalt commit no murther,Page 54 The like wee find of Pharao, pursuing* the people of God: of Ioseph, his bre∣theren, & many other.
I perceiue then the will of GOD* is to bee taken two manner of wayes, to witte, eyther for that prouident and vn∣searchable wisedome, not alwaies mani∣fested to the world, by which al things are most measurably ordred according to the euerlasting purpose of god; in which sence we ought to detract nothing from y• good pleasure of God, because he should not be omnipotent, if any smal successe of thinge• should sal out contrary to the same: & also that Gods wil is taken for that, which by word or commandement, he hath opened vnto vs, the performance wherof is onely good and acceptable in the sight of God.
So it is.
But may wee not say that GOD commandeth sinne, seeing he doth after • sort wil it.
God forbid: it is the most horrible o•* al blasphemies: neither is the consequēc• good, God willeth althings, therefore h• alloweth al things: for he willeth many things, which he doth suffer, not because simply he doth alow of them, but after •Page 55•ertain manner: for so far as he suffereth so far doth he allow & wil them: but so far as he hath respect to the Instrument• whose actions they are, so farr doth hee disallow and punish them.
Therefore although we do faithfully hold, and beleeue according as we are taught, in the confession of Christian fayth, that God the father almighty wil∣leth all thinges, and by his power bring∣eth all thinges to passe, euen as hee wil∣leth them, yet doth it not follow that hée is the author of sinne, delighted with in•∣quity: or that Satan, & men doing euill, do obey God, in that they do euil, or that they do the will of God, in that they doe euil, & therefore are not to be blamed: for besides that, wicked men doe the wil of God, that is to say, those things that are ordayned from euerlasting, they for the most part do their own worke, that is to say, that which they haue a will in them-selues and most greedy appetite to doe, as wee haue oftentimes said al∣ready.
I perceiue your meaning neuerthe∣les y• it is a strange purpose or wil whose effects are not appliable: and familiarly Page 56 consenting there-vnto: yet doe not the effects of Gods Ordinance méet well in that secret purpose of God: for why? the* secret ordinance comprehēdeth al things without exception: and the Comman∣dement doth as it were, countermand all euill, and simply allow of none, sau• good things only: Therefore I would haue you, by some example, to make these things more capable, which yet do rather seeme to make God contrary to him-selfe, then otherwise.
I will therfore take the case to* stand thus: A King consulting with him∣selfe, and purposing to declare his honor, and authority, enacteth such lawes, and statutes, as the best industry of his sub¦iects, shall not be able to obserue: preten∣ding neuerthelesse, of his owne especial grace, to be fauorable, or mercifull to some, and vppon the rem••nt of trans∣gressors, to execute Justice: From this head-spring, to witte, the honour of th• King: doe distill two streames, the on• for his beloued subiects to drink at, and •iue, the other for the malignant, to brown themselues in: the courses of thes• two being made contrary in effect, as i•Page 57 respect of their property, by him that had the lawe in his hand, be neuerthelesse made fast in the bosome of the fountaine, and doe méete together againe, together in the vttermost point, to wit, the honor of a King, as a Bée going out empty, doth returne laden with honny to her Hiue: for as the King without lawes, had bin no King, nor his dignity discerned: so by his lawes his honor is become twofould as in punishing ••home he liste, and in shewing mercy on whom he will; so that his mercy and iustice (if he had had no lawes, or if his lawes had béene capable to all his people) that had neuer béene knowne, are two notable pillors of his Kingdome to his onely honor; and the great dread and admyration of his sub∣fectes, Assure thy selfe, y• so it is in that wonderfull ordinance of the almighty, whose purpose is not of election and re∣probation,* nor of any other successe of common things (which not withstanding he ordereth as is said already) so much, as of his owne glory, according to the saying. For my glory I created, formed,* and made man. This thiug the heauenly wisdome of God did perceaue might Page 58 come to passe most conueniently by such a prescription, as should enforce the like effects to the law aforesaid (though in the first man his iustice is very well de∣fended,) yet note, alwaies betwéene the purpose going before the law (which is the glory of GOD) and the effects of the law (which are his mercy and* iustice) is no repugnancy, but one pure and peaceable agréement, for the law condemning all men in the pur∣pose of GOD, doth shew forth his glory, in the most liuely colours of* mercy, and iustice, according to his first intent.
What shall wee say then? man is not punished for his due desart, but for the glory of GOD: and who, I pray you, shall not accoumpt him mad, that will strike a horse beeing teathe∣red, because hee doth not feed at li∣berty.
Nay rather who shall not accompt him more then twise besides him-selfe,* that doth resemble the image of God, to a brute beast? Did not God giue vnto man vnderstanding, will and ablenesse • stand vpright, till such time as he wil∣fully Page 59 for went it, as well as hee gaue him a commandement? besides this, al∣though the horse vsing lawfully, as in respect of him-selfe (hauing kind, his na∣tnrall mistres, for his warrant) the bene∣fit of his teacher, so that al fault (if faults may be here rehearsed,) resteth in the teatherer, and none in the teathered ei∣ther for féeding, or not féeding; what of this? to whome had GOD done in∣iury, if he had tyed him to that teather? that he were as insensible as a blocke? is not he the true, and onely owner of all things? If he be, to whome is hee bound, that he may not vse the benifit of his wil▪ without controwlment? shall the pot say to the potter, why hast thou made mee thus? thus dost thou sée the fal•hod of Simylies, whereby the wily wran∣glers of the world, doe often times proue them-selues more doultish, then doultes, measuring GOD with earth∣ly things, and his wisdome by their owne folly.
Moreouer I pray you, where is that fine fellow that wil not confesse himselfe a sinner • if hee bee a sinner, why is Page 60 he captious, as though he were pure and* vnspotted? what wrong is offered vnto him, if he be cast into the bottom of hell? let me sée the braue fréewillian, st••ding most vpon the pantaples of supereroa∣tion, that is not glad rather to ride at this anker, when hee perceueth the seas of death ready to close him (God is righ∣teous,* I am a wreatched sinner, and were there no desert aboue mine, the torments of hell should be mine inheri∣tance) then to affirme, that by the liber∣ty of debating on the ends of good and euill, hee hath purchased heauen by his owe worthinesse.
Well I perceaue the mistery of the matter resteth in Adam our first parent, whose fault doth heape the iudgments of God vpon his posterity: but how can it* stand with Gods iustice, to punish all men for one mans fault?
Urily and this exception also might haue some good colour, if any man being free of his owne fault, could proue, the burden of another mans to be cast* on his shoulders: but alasse why should any man complayne of wrong, knowing him-selfe guilty of so many Page 61 euiles, as are •owched in his owne na∣ture: doth it not fare (saith M. Caluin) with such fellowes, as with the••es which being led to the gallowes, doe ex∣clame of the iud•e? yes 〈◊〉: but if they would consider how miserable the comfort is, that is borrowed of that poore reueng, they would occupy their heads, about their owne desarts which doe make them before God alwaies 〈◊〉 of euill deseruing more then bodily death, and for the most part, to bee iustly con∣demned of the world, and not vse that malip•r•nesse, especially finding there∣in no remedy. The conclusion is this, and my aduise also, that such as doe Ande them-selues greeued in Adam, séeks hence forth to be well pleased in Christ.
Surely I haue nothing to say a∣gainst thee, therefore I come yet backe to that, which thou hast partly answered: for why? I cannot be satisfied in this wonder∣full mistery, of Gods sea•ret, and reucaled will; therefore I pray you to enlighten mee once againe, with some example more fa∣milar, then that other.
Néeds must he wonder and to no purpose, that goeth about to be as wise Page 62 as God, and to vnder stand all the sea∣crets of his will (saith the Apostle) are past finding out, but againe take the case to* stand thus; the Lord that disposeth of all things in their appointed seasons putteth the partridge into the marlins foote, the pretty bird, into the fowlers snare, set∣teth the oxe foot vpon the silly worme, bringeth the swelling waters out of their channels to the store-house of the poore prouident Ant, the little fish into the net, the lambe to the slaughter-house, the lion to the hunters hand, and man for his due desart oftentimes to a sharpe and sod∣den death: this God in his righteous iudgement, hath pre-ordayned my sonne to die, amidest the mercilesse waues of the sea.
But for as much as nature the enemy to wisdome, doth not suffer me to yéeld vp mine interest, to the ordi∣nance of God (which you must suppose, according to some extraordinary manner is disclosed vnto mee) I say vnto him, sonne assure thy selfe that no action in this world shall discontinew my fauour and good will towards thée. Againe, I Page 63 make thée LORD, of my whole reue∣newes, vse all that I haue, or may procure for thée; so that in considerati∣on hereof, thou wilt graunt me thy true and faithfull alegeaunce in this onely point; depart not thy natiue country, and I craue no more: for at what time so euer, thou shalt com∣mit thy selfe vnto sayle and mast, thou diest the death, there is no remedy; thus standeth thy safty, thus thy perill, thus my hearty request, and thus I leaue thée. Well, this my sonne, accor∣ding to the maner of men, hauing a body at home, and a mind else where, then where it should be, neither ma∣king conscience of my great liberallity, commandement, nor any other good desert, nor yet respecting the daun∣ger of his owne person, like a man led away with nouelties, and the try: all of strange aduentures, rather then estéeming an honest life, and the duty o• of a child (committeth him-selfe; to the safe conduct of will, that idle and des∣perate loadsman, and at last after many tormoyles, is forced to fish Page 64 in the déepes without his boat, like as be∣fore I had tould him, shall not the man séeme to do me iniury, that shall reproue me, for this fault of my sonne, who euery way so well, and fatherly intreated him as became me?
Thus much I compare with the Lord of Heauen, who created man Lord of the whole Earth, saue that hee debard him the trée in the midst of the garden. But if thou hapily say that all this is not to the purpose, because in the affaires of this processe, I haue concealed no sea∣cret but imparted my whole pur∣pose to my sonne: well I graunt, let vs now therfore procéed, euen here the case is altered, let it be graunted also, that be∣fore I begat my sonne, I saw the sequell of this matter: howbeit sith it concerned my will, I would not onely obserue mine owne pleasure in that behalfe, but also giue my willing consent to his fa∣tall desteny. I pray you in this case, who shall let me to doe the thing that pleaseth me? what hath my sonne to say against me, or if hee say, and repine neuer so much, is it not folly to kicke against the Page 65 pricke? but if I, in the eye of reason, may séeme somewhat faulty, or cruell in this action, yet note that which is most vn∣righteous in man, is alwaies most righ∣teous in the Lord of heauen, with whom no creature doth stand in comparison: Moreouer, suppose that I sée a blind man* taking a direct course vnto a daunge∣rous caue, and before his fall, I step vnto him and say, father beware, and turne the •acke, for euen here at hand is such a per∣•ill, as threateneth thy death: the man, not onely blind of body, but of mind lame also, not regarding my friendly admoni∣tion, tumbleth downe headlong, and doth breake his necke. Is it strange to •ée him burnt, that will not come out of the fire? but now to the matter, let it be graunted, that I set him in that way, fore∣seeing his fall, shall he not therefore be in∣〈…〉ited of his owne death.
Surely, but here canst thou not goe cleare away without touch, for hadst thou not set the blind man in that way, he might right well haue escaped that mis∣fortune. The like may bee sayd of thy Sonne also.
Did I not tell thée that no crea∣ture is to be compared with God? who if he should damne the whole world, setting the desert of Jesus Christ apart were neuerthelesse righteous? true it is, if I had neuer be gotten my sonne, he had neuer bin drowned. But the cause stan∣ding vpright as I left it, canst thou shew any reason, why I should not be get him, séeing it was my will? euen so, if God had neuer made man, doubtles it had bin long ere man had sinned: but in those things, which we know the Lord, hath iustly done for his owne glory sake let vs be content and leaue off these tovish ob∣iections, of iffes, and ands, for what pre∣tend we thereby, but to set the Lord to Schoole, and to take him forth a lesson of our owne mother wit? who (God know∣eth)* hath much lesse néed thereof, then the sea to borrow some small streame of wa∣ter from poore brookes, which the Sunne hath dried vp.
Wel then, considering that nothing in the whole world commeth to passe rash∣ly, or casually, but according to the will of God, that is to say, his ordinaunce, may it be said that God hath appointed any Page 67 thing that hee misliketh, where-vpon hee doth take occasion to minister ius∣tice?
Doubtlesse it must be graunted,* that whatsoeuer God hath appointed is appointed altogether willingly, and with∣out misliking, otherwise might he séeme variable or to be canstrained to wil those things that he willeth: but stay thy selfe, herein appeareth the wonderful wisdom of God: for those▪ things that in their owne proper nature are naught, haue yet be∣fore him great respect of goodnesse, wher∣by* it commeth to passe, that sinne exac∣•ing at the hand of God, the due execu∣tion of iustice, in respect of his ordi∣nauncei, is no sinne, but righteousnesse •ather?
How proue you that?
Is it not proofe enough, to proue that it concerneth his endlesse glory? if it*〈…〉, remember thy selfe what I haue said already thereof before, this directory in the margeant, shal bring thee to the place, Moreouer we may proue it thus, God sa∣•eth his chosen by the death of his sonne, 〈…〉r so is it written in the Epistle of Page 68Paul to the Ephesians: But God should* haue saued no man in his sonne, if there had béene no sinne, but rather the Holy Ghost might haue tould a lye; Ergo, in respect of Gods ordinaunce it is iust that man is a sinner.
Againe, it is greatly to the glory of God, that he sheweth mercy to sinnere: but if sinne had not beene, man should haue néeded no mercy: Ergo in respect of Gods glory, it is good that man is wick∣ed; finally, it is greatly to the glory of God, that he doth iustlye punish sinne but if there had béene no sinne at all, his iustice had béene vtterly vnknowne o• obscured, Ergo in respect of GODS glory, it is necessary that sinne be in th• world.
By this reckoning wilt thou mak• sinne no sinne.
Not before it ceaseth to offen• God in the breach of his commaunde∣ment. But I say yea, and that well ad∣uised, that in respect of the glory 〈…〉 God it is good that sin should be, and bet∣ter thē good (if better may be) as it is wr••∣ten* in Exodus. I will harden Pharao 〈…〉 heart, and hee shall follow after you, an•Page 69I will be glorified in Pharao and in all his* hoast and in his Chariots and horsemen. Neuerthelesse I assure thée that sinne of the owne nature is so monstrous, that it* deserueth some name more odious then sinne, because the de•ilements thereof haue in such wise bespotted the nature of man, that the sluces of Heauen are o∣pened thereby, and the iudgements of God daily powred down vpon vs, which is well verified in that generall ouerflo∣wing of the world.
But if sinne be good in respect of* God, whose glory is wrought, and euill in respect of the workes, how commeth the difference.
How oft shall I answer this question? thou knowest, that mans or•∣••nall nature was sound, whereof could 〈…〉•me none but sound frute, but after •hat nature was corrupted by wilfull 〈…〉sobedience, from thence must néedes •ring the rotten frute of sinne: so that the difference came by the wil of man 〈…〉d so consequently resteth in man, till 〈…〉h time as hee is regenerated, being 〈…〉en by imputation clothed with the 〈…〉ghteousnesse of Christ.
But God him-selfe the soueraigne* worke master is said to worke all things Ergo, he worketh sinne.
If by the same worke of his, thou meane his almighty power, that vphou•¦deth the world, and all things there in without which nothing can containe i• selfe, I graunt that euill things are wrought by God, that is to say mediatly or by the same power, because no thought of wickednesse, much lesse any execrable action could burst out if he would take a¦way that life and strenght that he lendet• men, which presume to play the rebell• against him: but if by the working •• sinne, thou dost suppose the hand of God to be imediately stretched forth, to per forme any wicked action, or else that sinne happeneth by his together working with sinnefull instruments: first I den• the consequence for it is faulse: and s• condly I condemne it for the most wick∣ed of all blasphemies: my reason is this the name of sinne cannot agrée with GOD, who is the soueraigne root•* of all righteousnesse: the nature of sinne cannot once lay hould thereof, because Page 71 it is vnchangeable, nor yet can the paine of sinne touch that thing, that is not faulty: and yet of necessity should all these follow against God, laying his hand to iniquity: therefore I conclude thus, the name, the nature, nor the paine of sinne, are any thing accidentall to the nature of God, but all these thrée are bred, fostered, and found in the soule and flesh of man: Ergo man is not the instrument so much as the cause of sinne.
It seemeth therefore that the worke of the instrument, and the worke of God vsing the instrument goe not alwaies ioyntly together.
This doubtlesse is very true, for the worke that should alwaies be*••t one in the opened will of GOD is often times made two-fould by the worker: yet GOD by his power working in all ahings, worketh alwaies well, and is glorified, and the iustru∣ments not regarding his commande∣ments, but obeying their owne lustes, •oe alwaies worke ill, and are iustly punished.
Yet of the contrary part I thinke,* that the worke of God in the good, and the worke of the good by vertue of the Holy Spirit, which worketh in them, are e∣uer one.
I graunt it, for so farre doe they worke together, that God doth worke in them to will, and performe the good workes of the Holy Ghost, and they for the assurance of their well working, doe guide them-selues by the light of his word. So then maist thou perceiue that although by Satan, and the most wicked men, the iust decrées and councels of God are executed, yet are they thereof for the most part ignorant, and because they obay them-selues, not regarding the will of God, their workes are made* dooble. Of this we haue spoken some what before by the example of Ioseph, his bre∣theren. Pharao, and the Caloées punish∣ing the disobedient Israelites: but that notable example of our Sauiour Jesus Christ, doth yet make it more euident to our vnderstanding, Christ was the good instrument, out of whome God* wrought the pardon of our transgression▪ Page 73 who before lay fast bound vnder si•nne;* This instrument at all times, and in all things, shewed himselfe obedient to the will of his father, whereby it is manifest that he alwayes wrought wel with him; but on the other side, what bloudy but∣chers were the Jewes, which in them∣selues* did cause the worke of God to be∣come double.
Christ being a pure innocent, without one spot of sinne, and such a one as neuer gaue offence did they crucifie, not regar∣ding any thing that had bene told them by the Prophets.
Wherby neuer the lesse it came to passe that GOD performing that thing by* them, which before all worlds he had ap∣pointed to be done, did excéeding merci∣full and well, and they yeelding to theyr owne tyranny committed the most horri∣ble murder that euer was.*
Well then to make an end of pro∣uidēce, tell me I pray, whereto shal we as∣cribe y• fal of the first man? I mean whether to Gods enforcing, or to his for saking.
Doublesse his falling from God ought simply to bee imputed to Gods for saking: for if we say that GOD did Page 74 Inforce him by any compulsion, I can∣not perceiue, but we burthen him with a maruaylous vntruth, notwithstanding it is alwayes graunted, that the same fall came by the necessity of Gods appoint∣ment,* but for as much as that necessity, tooke not away his owne willingnesse, it shall neuer excuse him. So that here in rightly appeareth the wonderfull wise∣dome of God, who deriuing his glory* (determined off before) from the grosest of all faults, is neyther the cause thereof properly, nor doth suffer it to come to passe besides his ordinance: He allowed so much as came from him-selfe, saying, Loe it is good: but now forsaking the good, it became euill for want of God: and in the same forsaking God suffered (yet willingly) corruption to créepe vn∣der his ordinance, in such wise into the nature of man, that his owne will became the cause of that euill act of eating that forbidden fruite.
But why did GOD forsake him, beeing righteous in his owne sight.
Nay, rather would I haue thée to shew som reason, that should moue God Page 75 not to forsake him, whome he knew it most expedient to leaue.
Here agayne dost thou allude to the glory of God, but if I might still fol∣low the appetite of reason, I should de∣mand why God why such praeposterous meanes doth exact his glory at the hands of his poore creatures.
Truly thou maist, but I wil take a day to answer thée, till such time as the Lord hath called me to sit in commission about the affayres of his secret councell, yet if I say he wil be so glorified, because* it his owne will, what then? Is ther any* fault? But take the words of Maister Caluin for thine answer in this case, who saith thus.
Well let vs stay here, concerning the prouidence of God, from which I per∣ceaue nothing can be excluded, and ther∣fore in vaine doe men babble of Fortune, Chance, and other casuall Goddesses; now therefore let vs proceed to the predestina∣tion of God, of which thou oft hast spo∣ken in this treatise of Prouidence, and first of all I would haue thee describe vnto me what predestination is.
Truly the prouidence of God considered, in that generall signification,* that is to say in the foreknowing, or dey∣ning, ordering, and ending all manner of things, so farre as yet I vnderstand, doth Page 77 comprehend the predestination of God, and is one selfe-same-thing therewith: yet because predestination may bee re∣strayned, in a more particular pro∣perty, namely to Gods ordering and dis∣posing* of mankind, thus it may bee de∣fined.
Predestination is the euerlasting, and vnchangeable decree of the almighty, which going before all causes, draweth man to his appointed end, that is eyther in Christ to saluation, or else in Adam to condemnation, & the endlesse torments of hell.
And what is election? not the same thing?
No, for that is vtterly vnpossible,* and against all conueniency of Reason, because the Reprobate is predestinate,* as wel as the Elect, as witnesseth Saint Iude, but we cannot say, that the Repro∣brate or offcast is elected: therefore Election is peculiar to the good, beeing chosen out of the totall number, and pre∣destination common to the good, and the bad.*
But it seemeth, that before electi∣on goeth the mercy of God, whereby the Page 78 clect are saued: and then doth the nature of contraryes requyre, that the hatred or wrath of God, should be the cause that the damned, are damned: Ergo, God dam∣neth some, not for their sins, but because he doth hate them.
If to the word hatred, or wrath, thou had'st put this litlle word Iust (whereby God in Justice might haue cast off the ofcasts, who neuer doth vn∣iustly) I would haue liked wel of thy con∣sequent. But I pray you where did you* euer find, that God hated man except it were for sin? shew me the place and then will wee conclude against him, that hee hateth his owne worke: In the meane time, content thy selfe with that which we haue already spoken touching this matter.
Well: but it may seeme a hard and cruel case that som should be appoin∣ted to damnation, although GOD may iustly do it for his glory sake.
I will not sée thy folly in these* two words Cruel, and yet Iust. But yet I say it may seem a case more harder, if God could bee found in the fault of re∣probation, whereaf he is but the fayling Page 79 cause, the efficient beeing grounded in man him-selfe. And if we may speake of the handnesse of causes, it séemeth much more harder on Gods behalfe, that if hee could be proued the cause of transgres∣sion (which is vtterly vnpossible) that ye• he may not vse his pleasure with his owne creatures.
But what say you to these generall*sentences, God would haue All men saued, God would haue all men come to repen∣tance, that they might not perish?
You must construe of the word. All, in that place, not after the letter: or else auouch to the face of GOD, that some are damned whether hée will or not, therefore (All) hath relation* here to all sorts of men, in degrée and cal∣ling, that is to say, Princes, Magi∣strates, Gentlemen, Bondmen, Ar∣tificers, and such other, aswell of the Iewes, as of the Gentiles: thus doubtlesse wee must expound the word All. For GOD forbid that the Doc∣trine of predestination, the very ground-worke of saluation, should hang in suspence for a few texts that pre∣tend outwardly a kind of repugnancy: Page 80 if this will not suffice, then credit the Apostle saying according to the whole course of Scripture: Though the children* of Israel were as the sand of the sea, yet shall but a remnant bee saued, Many are called, but few are chosen, few enter at the straight gate.
Truly, thou compellest me to yeald vnto thee in this point, for if God would not haue some damned, they should in no wise be damned, that be damned: But here againe ariseth a doubt which troubleth many: If that necessity of things be prefix∣ed by the eternall decreement, it is su∣perfluous* and a mere kinde of madnesse to teach what euery mans duty is: for why: all the teaching, and preaching in the world, shal not alter the least lot of Gods determination.
Indeed this is the onely refuge whereto the fexe flyeth, being hunted from euery other haunt: But the Lord wil one day vnkennel him, when his case & carkasse both, shal pay tribute to the fa∣ther of foxes, if meane whiles hee offer not to God a more acceptable sacrifice: These be they that make ship wracke of all religion, although some whiles vnder Page 81 the vayle thereof, they would seeme for credit sake, to haue som little smack of y• feare of God: But they which bée the children of God, eyther know or will know, yea & the wicked also shal know, not only, that in that security which they would draw from hence, resteth the vt∣ter contempt of Christ, and of all true knowledge of God, but also that doctrine* is appointed as an vnder seruant to the Lord, whereby he doth iustly accomplish that, which he had purposed touching his elect, as also the reprobate.
Therfore I pray you what is the drift of this obiection other then that the Lord should leaue al things at large, according to the opinion of Epicure, & the Papist, to a carelesse happening, whereby man for his behoof, pausing vpon his owne wayes, might addresse himselfe, as of his owne proper power, to will and worke these things, that should win Saluation? truly if they were called together among them al, is not one to be found, that can cleare him-selfe of this intent.
Therfore it is manifest, that they are not enemies alone to the predestination of God, according to whose foreknow∣ledge Page 82 a couenable necessity • things is prescribed, as best beséeme•• his omnipotency: but also that they ar•* angry with frée iustification, where-vpon they will eyther conuey them▪selues in to the place of Christ, or at least become assistant in his office.
But why should the reprobate him selfe accompt Doctrine vnnecessary, •• beit he will not yéeld himselfe obedient is he not therby left vtterly without ex∣cuse before the Lord?
Moreouer it is commanded to b• sette before the reprobate, not because it might intercept that thing that God hath purposed of him, but that by ••* incredulity, it should appeare and b• more manifest, how forceable the grace of secret election is: for wherein m• the same more euidently be perceiue then when in one selfe same doctrine and in one self same calling, there should fall out among these men sondry or se•• rall effects, one reuerently to imbrace another stubbornely to skorne and ••▪iect it: and the third sort, to stand a lukewarme and carelesse quandra•• as if to imbrace it, or not to imbrace Page 83 were all one thing: Againe there is no doubt, as it pierceth the hearts of the chosen, and doth lead them as it were by the hand to conformity of life, whereby to their great comfort, they seale vp to theyr consciences theyr election: euen so •t striketh the hearts of the wicked, and oftentimes doth restrayne their mali∣•artnesse, albeit it proceed from the mouth of a man: last of all, if those vn∣reasonable Cauillers could be content •o take any light at the hands of the god∣ly, the Apostles should soone perswade them, how necessary doctrine is. They*•reached predestination, and the free election of God, notwithstanding they were well assured, that not only them∣•elues, but all that were predestinate to ••e, were in no case remoueable from the estate of saluation.
They knew also on the contrary part, that the reprobates by no industry could •••rit the kingdome of God: and al∣••it before theyr faces, whole thou∣•ndes were caught with this lime∣•wigge of Sathan, and did tipple them∣•elues with the drunkennesse of diuelish •curity; yet I say were the Apostles Page 84 neuer the colder, to walke in theyr du∣ties and offices, but painfully, and wi•• all diligent care and endeauor, to they continuall danger, and at last with the losse of theyr liues, discharged them selues therof.
But wise men of this world, do* plainly affirme, that the Doctrine of pre∣destination, ought not to bee taught, or at least is not conuenient to be taught before common people, because they are not able to comprehend it.
But if wise men of the world were any thing wise in the wisedome • GOD, this would be farre from they thoughts, and twise so farre from they tongues. For I pray you what d• moue the Lord to reueale the same do•▪trine, so plentifully in his word? Some intent of secresie? Shall the sunne neu• shine because all are not able to compre∣hend it with their bodily eyes? Let t•• same wise men gatze vpon the ground for that is the treasory of their vnde standing: they cannot perceiue how o• little grasse groweth, and shall the ear• therefore not yeeld her increase as •• Lord doth appoint? If hidden and sec••Page 85 causes may lawfully preuent common profits, then shall it behoue vs to waxe more sharpe sighted then men, or shortly •o haue another world.
Those men whatsoeuer they pretend haue small regard of Gods true seruice •r honour: therfore is there no cause that the truth of GOD should bee dissem∣bled for theyr number or authority, be it neuer so great.
I remember that Saint Augustine*•ath sayd full well to the matter. This Doctrine being heard (sayth he) som are •urned into a sluggish heauinesse and •lownesse, and beeing readily bent to fall from labour vnto wantonnesse, do go after their lusts: must therefore that be thought false, which is said of the foreknowledge of God? And will we not also speake, that which the Scripture being witnesse, it is lawful to speake? by likelyhood we are af∣fraid, least he should bee offended which cannot take it, and are not affraid, least we holding our tongues, that hee which can take the truth should bee deceiued with •alshood. Therefore as true religion is to be taught, that GOD may be truly worshipped, so is the Doctrine of pre∣destination, Page 86 that hee which hath eares to heare of the grace of GOD, may glory in GOD, and not in him∣selfe.
But haue the children of GOD any assurance in this world of their election?
Yea verily, for from whence com∣meth Repentance and the fruits thereof, but from Regeneration? of the faith of Christ, but this fayth is giuen to the elect only, Ergo, only the elect do repent and giue them-selues to obey the com∣mandement of God, The rest haue not •• will to thinke a good thought, much less•* to do any good, and least of all to conti∣nue in weldoing: for that is also a pecu∣liar marke in election: Therefore letn• man climbe vp to the cloudes, to search whether hée bee inrolled in the secret councell of GOD, nor busie him∣selfe with many curious speculation• below▪ but let him that would be assu∣red or Saluation enter into him-selfe and consider how his faith doth stand i• Christ, in whose blood if he finde it v•* fayned, there-vppon let him rest, wrap∣ping his whole bodie and soule vn∣der Page 87 his promises.*
This thing can no man truly bring to passe, exept his name be written in the booke of life.
What▪ if a man feele not in him∣selfe* these testimonies, should hee there∣fore dispayre of saluation.
GOD forbid, let such men ra∣ther bée sent to the word preached and sacraments, whereby the grace of election may worke these testimonies in them: and no doubt, those whome the LORD hath foreknowne in his good time, he will call home into his houshold* of fayth.
For wee know as hee hath predesti∣nated of his owne vnspeakable mer∣cy, whome hée would, so also hee cal∣leth them at such seuerall seasons, as hee will: Some early, and some* late, as it is written in the Gospell of the laborers that were called into the Uineyard.
But by that parrable may wicked men take encouragement to neglecte the time of calling, be∣cause they that were called in the last Page 88 houre were accepted & rewarded equal∣ly with those which came in the first hou∣re of the day.
Nay, let me shew which of those laborers being once called, did refuse to come: it séemeth rather to me, that here∣by they should learne without delay to turne vnto the Lord, hearing his voyce, for we must consider that he is not bound* to vs, but we vnto him, therefore the wi∣sest councell, that I can giue, is that wee take héed betimes, and lay hold when hée offereth himselfe, least our sins do make seperation, betwéene him and vs: for i• thorough our negligence we ouerslippe the day of health, we cannot recouer it afterwards although wée séeke it with teares, which we find truly verified in the foolish Virgins, rich Glutton, and ma∣ny* other: Therefore he that thinketh him∣selfe in most security, and sayth my age is not yet fitte who am but young, or my businesse is not past, which is great, I will turne to the Lord at some better leasure: let him remember that all fles• is as grasse of the field, & hath no charter for one minute of an houre, and if we b• taken napping with sinners, our rewar•*Page 89 is with them, wherevpon it is full true∣ly* said.
But yet must they needs be dam∣ned that are appointed to damnation?
It is true; yet alwaies because they are sinners and doe not harken to the voyce of the Lord.
Truely in my iudgement, euen that is enough to stoppe any mans mouth, be he neuer so captious: but I pray you is their no especyall strength in this doctine, whereby the childeren of God in the peri∣luos time of temptatiō, may comfort them∣selues, and wage battaile as it were against Satan in the depth of his assaults?
Doubtlesse this either is, or ought* to be no question, for if wee consider that satan hath no power to plucke one heare from their head, more then the Lord* shall appoint, and that al the wicked rout are houlden in by the hand of God as by a bridle, that they can neither conceue any mischiefe against them, or goe about it, when they haue conceued it, or if they Page 90 goe about it neuer so much, that they* can bring nothing to passe, but that which hee doth command: what dastards are they that will shrinke one haire bredth from such a simple enemy, hauing so mighty a God, with so many legions of Angels watching ouer them continually, for their defence.
But for all this thou knowest that Gods dearest childeren are oftentimes o∣uerset with feare of his power, yea and peeuishly intreated thereby also.
It is graunted, and truely, this may serue for a glasse for Gods dearest childeren, to behould their wantes in the* faith of Christ, as also their corruption, houlding them downe so fast vnder sinne, that when they are at the best, euen then are they not without desert of Gods chastismentts.
And what? is the same faith, whose obiect is the sonne of God crucified, the onely condition where-vpon all the chil∣deren of God in their seasons are gathe∣yed vp into immortallity?
It is so.
Ergo, It is no matter if we obey not the law of God, wherin we learne to serue Page 91 him, and to performe such actions of socie∣ty: as be requisite betweene man and man.
This is but a •and starting hole, for as the mercy of God is not extended, but through frée election, not without the condition of faith included by God for the externe: so also is it prouided, that the same faith, bee accompanied with righteous exercises. But concerning this matter, and other mo whereof I am to confer with thée, I would we might méet hereafter at more conuenient lea∣sure.
I am well content, in the meane time I thanke you of your pacience in this discourse, beseeching God that I may al∣waies beare in minde the Godly aduise∣ments thereof.
By ARTVR DENT.
An earnest perswasion to a Worshipfull Gentleman, and his good friend to continew constant in Christian Religion, and to loath and detest the slights of Superstitious Papistry. By the former Author, Arthur Dent.
ALthough the Bée, be not so easely caught in the gynnes of the Spi∣der, as the poore Fly, or being once intang∣led, is not so easely poysoned: yet com∣mon experience, doth make it a plaine case, that oftentimes she is ouerthrowne therein, and compelled to yeald her-selfe a prey vnto tiranny. But considering how easily our affections be caried away by corruption, to witte, faultinesse, natu∣rall to decline to the worse part, it sée∣meth Page 93 most wonderfull to me, that you being so néere a neighbour to heresie, are yet vndrowned in the dreggs thereof more then vntaynted, to the daunger of your ouerthrow yet to come: for why? are not the best subiect to change? I meane the wisest, to folly? and the holi∣est to wickednesse? let the example of Salomon, wilnesse the trueth in this case, who although he were the only parragon of the world, fel to idolatry, the most noy∣some of pestelences, and to all vncleane∣nesse of body. Doth not likewise the ex∣ample of our first parent Adam, make it plaine, that our nature being at the best, is euen then most subiect, to take the wickeddest course? O wretched estate, what reckoning shall we make of our selues which séeming to stand, are euer falling, which outwardly carrying the countenance of security, haue at home, such an enemy, as doth practise our con∣tinuall estraungement with God! and besides this are inuironed with a world of vngodly allurements. But yet amids these daungers, twise, O Merciful God whose grace superaboundeth sin, whose mercy dispenceth with all our faults, Page 94 and whose holy spirit doth indue vs with wisedome, to destry the subtilt••s of Sa∣tan, with strength to stand against them, yea and with constancy, to continew in his loue, feare, and true worship. I ap∣peale to your conscience, whether the Lord hath dealte with you lesse fatherly, then in ould time he did with Daniell in the Lyons denne, with Ieremy in the mi∣ry dungeon, or with Ionas, in the belly of the whale? they saw their daunger immi∣nent, which did put them in mind to re∣paire to the Lord. But you I know, yea I know it to well (if it pleased GOD it should be otherwise) haue continu∣ally layd before you the fairest baytes of the world to betray you, where-vn∣der lurketh the perrill of perpetual dam∣nation, and yet the Lord be praysed, doe continew his true and faithfull seruant vnuanquished. But to speake more plainly, thus it is, by reason that the ad∣uersaries to all trueth, I meane the Papists, haue the colourable accesse vnto you of friendshippe, you are al∣waies endaungered by ther wily per∣swasions to forsake your GOD. This Page 95 truely hath béene often tould me, and I sée no reason why I should not beléeue it, considering that I know, how busily they vse to buzze in euery dish, where oportunity promiseth the inser∣tion of their lothsome corruptions: But most chiefly; if they be on a sure ground that their bodely danger is not thereby threatened, they are imp•bent to blas∣pheame GOD and his holy Religi∣on with all treasons of their owne wick∣ed inuentious: which thing although commonly and of custome, it hath hap∣pened vnto you by them, yet am I to restraine my selfe, to the answering of one particular, and principall attempte that was made against you, at your table, by certaine Gentlemen not long since, whose names though I partly know, yet I thinke not canuenient at this time to deliuer to common obloquy.
These Gentlemen grounding all their religion vpon hoarye hayres, which they call Ambassadors of experience, and vppon the graue visors of their Fathers, which wée accompt the wi∣sest parts of them, hauing preferred. Page 96 fancy before faith: and their owne hu∣mors before the honor of God, brought all the battery of their reasons and ar∣guments against the poore bulwarke of your onely defence (being a man able to be seduced by the violence of perswasi∣on, or at least to haue bin driuen to silence that extreame refuge, had not God béene present with you in the reseue of his own honor) saying was their not in those daies, wherein our religion slorished, a goulden and plentifull world? was there not loue and Charity? vnity of religion? the seruice of God established by gene∣ral counsells of holy doctors and fathers? how then should not those waies, be the best to serue God, which they obser∣ued, and haue left vnder the warrant of sufficient authority to the memory of our present age? haue so many wise men bin deceued, so many learned men liued in folly and ignorance? haue so many Kings and Emperors slept in blindnesse of hart and died in the darkenesse of heresey? Nay hath all Christendome wandred out of the way till now. &c. This thréedbare discourse (which they drawe out to the Page 97 whole length of a Carterope) is able to bewitch so many, as make reason their iools, euen as themselues are bewitched by the wilinesse of the deuill and their Pope: but let vs suruey these water∣lesse clouds, and we shal •asiely perceaue them as they be.
Haue not these wise men laid true re∣ligion in water and sacrifized their zeale to reason, as if she were some Goddesse? here is nothing but a plaine collection of reasons, a•• Carnall experiences, and shall we make them the platformes of holinesse? is the wisdome of man of so forcible a capacity, and the word of God •onuinced of so great debility, that in cases of religion we shall g••und vpon likelihoode o• mans immaginations? let vs be wise, the Elder hath most pith of all the trees in the wood, but lesse s•ength and goodnesse then any other: the thunder a huge〈…〉, but a little stone and these men great choyse of boas∣••gs, but small verity, or vertue in their words.
•ust not that building néeds be naught •e it neuer so faire, whose foundation Page 98 is vtterly rotten; and must not that reli∣gion of necessity be worse, whose princi∣ples God hath flattly forbidden? he cal∣leth mans reason, a traterous enemy to GOD, saying, it neuer was nor shalbe subiect to his law: they honor it, as the* true penny of their whole trust: hée con∣demneth the preceptes of our forefa∣thers, forbidding vs to pray for them, which doe imbrace the same, because they are Sepulchres full of rotten bones, cloudes with out water, and they them-selues hvpocrites, but they estéeme them no lesse then loadesmen to all piety and life euerlasting.
Alasse why doe we feare their vnion in idolatry (for that is the vntay, that they reioyce in, and bragge of) more then we sorrow for the dishonor of our God? or why should we be troubled with the long, and prosperous estate of Popish religion, more then be comfor∣ted in the newes and glad tidings of the Gospell? doth not the Apostle tell vs that before the dissolution of the world, there should befall a generall Apostacy, and departing from the faith Page 99 of Christ? and that all this should hap∣pen by one man, namely the man of* sinne, and child of perdition? saying, that hee should bee an aduersary to all Godlinesse, and exalt him-selfe aboue all that is called God? why then should they go about to blears your eyes with the wonder of such words, more then instruct them-selues in the prouidence of God, who hath prouided, and made vs wary of such a G•nerall departing? why say they too char•ge the can∣nons, decrées, and decretalls of their Popish fathers (séeing the Lord him∣selfe pointeth out the Pope as with a finger, and dèciphereth 〈◊〉 for Anti∣christ, as plainely, 〈…〉, to disco∣uered in the secrets of 〈◊〉 body, by the anatomy off another) more then yeald their owne due subiection to the ordinaunce •nd institutions of their GOD▪ Nay why should wee (whose eyes and eares the LORD hath ope∣ned for the entertainement of his trueth) lend them away to the view of mothe∣aten nouelties, and to the sound of such false laromes as these, more then ex∣ercise them in their seuerall duties and Page 100 offices? if they will not confesse that these and such other testimonies of Gods ho∣ly word do reproue their man of Rome, together with them being his vncircum∣siced generation of Antichrist•anity, let vs then apply them: the man of sinne, (saith the Apestle) exalteth him-selfe a∣boue all that is called GOD, vaunting him-selfe insolently in the temple of GOD, if (I say) they will not con∣fesse this of their Pope, let them shew vs what regard of obedience he hath reserued to GOD ward, in making his booke, (I meane the holy Bible) the vassell of vile estamation, which he doth not onely bury, in obliuion, by his owne despensations • but in all contempt doth trample, and 〈…〉 vnder his féete: knowing notwithstanding that it is the word and wisdome of GOD: let them shew vs to what prerogatiue their Pope hath yealded which proclameth himself so many degrées aboue Angells, or that denounceth him-selfe the spirituall head of the Church of Christ: Hath their Pope performed any couenant 'of league with the Lord, whose searunats and childe∣ren he hath rent from the face of the Page 101 earth canceling the date of their daies, with moe then a thousand butcheries? doth the Pope yeald to the omnipotency of GOD, so much as he goeth about to make him-selfe GOD, and is not a∣shamed to momise all the effects of Gods power? saying that he both can and may doe all that GOD can doe, to wit in the pardoning of sinnes, in the sauing of soules, in the transmutation of times, in the altering and abrogating of lawes, in the administration of spirituall giftes, to be short in all other things whatso∣euer? nay he is not thus content, for more expresly doth he mayntaine his quarrell against GOD, for by cer∣tain necessary, conceqences▪ •e proueth, that he is aboue the onely GOD of heauen carth. O hellish insination! how hast thou caryet poore ignorant soules to the slauery of this monster? euen in the totall of there déeds and beliefe? what should I article any longer against him, whome these few haue condemned to the pit of hell▪
But sée the pollicy, whereby this sub∣tile Serpent hath deluded vs so long: the word of GOD, which ought to be the Page 102 launtorne to our pathes,, hath her kept backe and led the frute of one whole thousand yeares in the wildernesse of barkenesse (God knoweth to how great confusion) and now braggeth in the an∣tiquity of his owne naughtinesse and mischiefe.
Alasse is their any maruill, the world being once couered with the spirit of slumber, that it should be ouer-taken, with the witchcraft of sléepy deseases: is it any thing, strange, that men doe spew at religion, being made drunken with heresie? or is it any wonder (the word of GOD being once brought into 〈…〉rall contempt) that the infection 〈…〉ry hath béene so common? gl•• once the gorge of man with any foule •inion, and he will hardly be purged thereof: make him to beléeue the mor∣tality of the soule, and hee will con∣sent with Protagoras that there is no GOD.
They will say that all this winde maketh •• corne, and 〈…〉 are that wee doe belye their Pope and them; truely Page 103 I cannot blame them, if they would vn∣father him of such hatefull blasphemics: but let our selues be charged with the wrong we haue done them herein, and our liues stand, vpon the slaunder, let his owne cannons be conuinced of all the euill that haue written them, and more then ten thousand such in exasting of his name, and the Pope him-selfe bee condemned of madnesse and frensie, ha∣uing as like a beast, as a bedlame, and as néere the quality of a bedlame, as the quantity of man, consented vn∣to them, with all pride and presump∣tion.
O good God, how mearuelous is it tobe∣hould so many wise men, somuch decea∣ued, so many gray headed fathers so chil∣dish? so many tgnirant accoumpted wise? and so many infants allowed for men of graue and ripe iudgement? if they can say against vs, where is the citty on the mountaine, the visible Church? the catholicke and vniuersall Church? they are learned enough: but they can∣not preceaue that these are fained fiers, Page 104 paynted out with fayre glosses, where∣in is no warmeth, nor that they be Illu∣sions and shadowes without substance▪ Take theyr Church from the pontificall hill: take away theyr Pompe and braue∣ry, or theyr generall consents, and take away theyr life, Nay if this were all, it were well (if euill may bee well) But which is worse▪ they must haue theyr Churches beautified with▪ Ima∣ges, Feminine and Masculine curiously carued, gallantly guilded, prodigally be∣set with pretious stones, and most deli∣cately adorned with great choyce of Iewels. They must haue theyr Rood∣loftes with flags and silken banners, with Crosses, Roodes, and Saints, like a storehouse of superstition. They must haue theyr braue Altars, garnished with petty Gods, with well lifting Prelates, and other holy reliques: they must haue shauen crown'd Chaplens, strangely atti∣red, they must haue theyr Albes, with silke of all colours, they Mytres and Crossyars, and what should I say, they must haue holy bread, holy water, Page 105 holy oile, holy ashes, holy candles, an hun∣dred holy orders, like hypocrites that beautifie the out-side besides a thousand other holy things.
Finally they may not want any thing that can please the eye, delight the eare or slatter the minde: And loe, yet do all these most plainly proue theyr Church the 〈…〉y Church of Antichrist: for where nothing is wanting that may allure the minde to lust after vanity; or to stir the heart vnto folly and wickednesse, this may be termed (by much better right) a Court for an Atheist, then a Church for a Christian, for was Jesus Christ so high set on a hill, that all the world did wor∣ship him, o• outwardly so glorious, so full of pompe and brauery, that they haue drawne from him such an ensample of imitation? or were there so many of his church (which yet we doubt not was and is the true Church) that the same Church hath lined theyr mouthes with multitudes, with vniuersalities, and vnities generall? Then is this true, Christ him-selfe was neuer borne in an an Derstall, but in the Pallace of some Monarchy: then was not he a poore dispi∣sed Page 106 soule on the earth in worse case then foxes & birds which haue holes & nestes* to sheild them from the wether, but some mighty prince of the world, ruling wt all maiesty & power: And then had Christ to imbrace his Doctrine not the Apostles, & a few other silly Disciples, but the gene∣ral consent of all the Iewish Churches.
How then came it to passe, that he was put to such a shame ful death? was 〈◊〉 be∣cause he was welbeloued of the multi¦tude? if this be loue, I know not what to make of hatred; but sure I am, that few will consent so to be beloued.
I would to God the Papist would looke wisely vpon his Church, and after∣ward tell vs how farre it differeth from the Churches of the Pharisees, which re∣proueth, and condemneth our Sauiour CHRIST as a faise Prophet, and all his Doctrine, as new-found doctrine, and schismaticall, saying and swearing that theyrs was of antiquitie, obserued of theyrfore-fathers, and hauing the warrant and consent of the world, what say they at this day against vs which do imbrace the selfe-same Doctrine, that was so condemned? Do not they say and Page 107 sweare that Martin Luther is the father of our religion? Do they not cal it a Sect, a Schisme, an•Heresie? Do they not cal vs traytors to God & man, giuing vs such titles as they themselues deserue, and haue they not slaine whole thousands in that quarrel. If we demand of thē whe∣ther y• Church of God were at any time comparable to the S•nagog•e of Iewes in re•••ct of the multitude, which way wil they turn thē? if they answer that it was not, they condemne theyr owne rea∣sons of very much weaknes, which do go about to confirme tho authority of their Church by other marks then the Church of God euer had: If they answer that the church of Christ was alwaies the greatest, they are already conuicted of as great foolishnesse, for there-vppon would al this packet of vntruth lustly de∣pend, viz. That the Church of God, was drowned in the generall ouerflowing, when al the world was drown'd, and the church of satan saued in the Arke. That the church of God perished-among the Sodomites, and iust Lot, and his family, were y• church of the diuel: y• the Iewes, Scribes, & Pharisees, were the Church of Page 108 Christ, and Christ him-selfe with the remnant of beléeuers the Church of An∣tichrist: In conclusion that theyr Church is now the true Church because of the multitude, and ours the false: we wil de∣mand but one thing of those multitude of men, which if they truly tell vs and proue, they shall haue our hand and▪ our heart, wée will become as true to them as stéele, and consent to any religion of theyr forefathers; which is, that they shew forth, at what time the estate of the world, was in so good case, that the best thinges did please the greatest number, or when iniquity had not the most con∣sent of adherents (except at that time, when all were drown'd except eight per∣sons) Alasse theyr proofe is euen as farre to séeke, as heauen is distant from hell; God graunt therefore the condition of* consent, be no nearer vnto vs. For it is written broad is the way, that lea∣deth* to perdition, and many walk there∣in, but narrow is the path to saluation,* straight is the gate. and few do enter therat. And further, though the childrē of Israel were as y• sand of the sea, yet shall but a remnant be saued; This is yet Page 109 more plainly verified by Elias the Pro∣phet who saw not one man frée from Idolatry, and the subiection of Be∣lial,* besides himselfe, in all the world, yet did he willingly (all regard of the mul∣titude laid apart,) serue the Lord of hea∣uen truly.
Wherefore, though our fore-fathers, serued those Gods on the further side of*the flood, or the Gods of the Amorstes, or the gods of their owne handes: Let it amaze vs no more then it did good Iosua who said (and let vs also say with him) we and our houses, will serue the God of heauen. And with Iudith, we will not follow the sinnes of our fore-fathers which forsake their God, and worshipped strange gods.
The holy Hrophet receaued from the* mouth or secret inspiration of God all that doctrine y• they deliuered or taught: the Apostles proued their Doctrine out of Prophets: the godly of ensuing ages haue rested vppon them; And shall wee alone be carelesse, or accompt it ynough, if many men haue gon before vs, contra∣ry to the Prophets and Apostles? No, no, Al men haue sinned from the first (except Page 110 one) and shall doe to the last, yet it is no∣thing lawfull for vs to follow their steps therein: Therefore although our fore∣fathers were Idolaters, yet must wee learne to serue the Lord, And that wee may the better performe our duties in that behalfe, it behoueth vs to be wise in the trying of spirits, least we become clyents to our forefathers superstitions, or superstitious in our owne fancies, & so ignorantly neglect the precepts of our God.
Let vs therfore looke vpon the iniun∣ctions of Popery, that we may be able to reprehend the Church of Rome, but let vs call home theyr generall Councels, with the rabble of theyr decretals to the same Prophets and Apostles, And woe shal anon perceiue that we haue no cause to feare (theyr times out of mind) know∣ing that an euil custom is no better then a commō pestilence, which by how much the more is old and ancient, by so much the more it is rotten & stinking: nor yet their commō consents, séeing the state of gods childrē is oftētimes to be desolate. And because there is no heresie but will challenge som maintenance out of Gods Page 111 word, saying that theyr Church is the Church Apostolicall, which the Papist as boldly sweareth & taketh vpon him, as if nothing were good but his Masse, let them shew vs the Prophets and Apo∣stles for their Masses, Dirges, Trentals, praying to Saints, praying with brads, praying to help soules out of purgatory, worshipping of Idols, Bishopping of baptized children, kissing of Pares, Crée∣ping to Crosses, baptizing of bells, con∣iuring of water, coniuring of balme, con∣iuring of hearbes, buying of bulles and pardons, and auricular confession; & the rest of their sacraments, paying of vaine vowes, going on pilgrimage, pace-eggs, manyples, licking of rotten bones, Auc-Maryes blessing with two fingers, an∣noynting, annoyling, absoluing, knéeling knocking, whipping, crouching, kissing, crossing, shauing, greasing, and ten thou∣sand such trickets moe. I appeale to the iudgement of the wise-harted, whether God abrogating the ceremonies of his own law, did purpose, that the Pope should institute and erect a new, of such traditions as these.
If we hold them hard to the proofs Page 112 of these and such other, by the touch∣stone, aforesaid (namely y• word of God) theyr next leape, is longer then the pas∣sage betwéene Douer and Callice: for they crosse the broad ss as to vnwritten verities. But how colde theyr enter∣tainment is there, we would not much feare to make thē-selues the Iudges, if shame & grace had not forsaken them. In déed wee know and confesse that more was spoken, then is written: And that whatsoeuer Christ & the Apostles prea∣ched, was the word of GOD were it written or not: But we know also that if more had bene necessary to saluation then is written, God would not suffer vs to want it, least with them we might happen to runne a whoring after our owne deuises: But aboue all, wee are most assured that the Spirit of God ne∣uer was, nor will be contrary to it selfe: Therefore let vs try how truly theyr be∣rities vnwritten doe accord with the written word.
We finde in the Scripture, that wee ought to worship God alone, and not to make our selues any grauen Image; but is it possible that the Word vnwritten Page 113 should tollerate their prayers to saints? theyr sacrificing to Idols, and theyr fal∣ling downe before blocks? In his word written, it is called the Doctrine of di∣nels to forbid matrimony to any man, and can it bee his word vnwritten that Ministers shall neuer marry? it is his word written that all that depart this world in the Lord, do rest from theyr labours: and is it also in the word vn∣written that they bee purged of many torments in the fire of Purgatory before they do rest: it is playne by the word written, that wee haue no remission of sinne but in the blood of Christ, without whome we are dead and condemned to the bottome of hell: but is it as playne by his word vnwritten, that the Pope can saue? that who-soeuer shal die in a white fryers scapulary, shal be saued? or he that dyeth in a gray fryars frocke, shall ney∣ther come in Purgatory, nor in hell? and aboue all is it his word vnwritten, that a man may get in s〈…〉 heap of deser∣uings (〈…〉 superrerogati∣on) 〈…〉s friendes? w〈…〉 against the hea∣〈…〉
Page 114Is not this preposterous geare? who would thinke that these men standing so much vppon the fouly▪ slippers of theyr wisedom & gray heads would thus ouer∣shoote them-selues: which so farre forth as in them lyeth, do make God a con∣temptible changeling: Religion more vn∣certain thē the Lesbian rule, & tye them∣selues to the continuall slauery of theyr own deuice? & theyr maister the man of Rome? & yéelding theyr whole contem∣plation to the works of darknesse.
Alasse with what blind spirit are these poore soules vexed, that will haue theyr Pope and the Church of Rome againe exalted? that take away the playne Doc∣trine of faith, and iustification in Christ? and teach a fayth solted vppe in an Idle fancy? saying: that we must beléeue of Christ, as theyr Church beleeueth, be∣cause theyr Church beléeueth, as they be∣léeue: But if we demand what they, or theyr Church doe beléeue, the next way for vs to know, is euen to get looke: for doubtlesse they know not, neyther can they tell vs.
Truly howsoeuer they cotten y• matter with deuout countenances, or coragious Page 115 bragges, with perswasions of the time past, or the scarcety or iniquity of the time present, or with the outward face or visor of theyr charity, theyr estate is la∣mentable, it fareth with them euen as with butchers, that vse to blow vp their flesh that it may seeme bigger, they are grubling so much in the myre of theyr own desart to the world: ward, that they forget or neglect all that true religion and seruice they owe vnto God.
For note this well, where is that Pa∣pist in all the world, that will not sooner bid vs behold his charity towards his neighbour then his integrity in the wor∣shipping of God? So that charity béeing the vnderseruant to religion, and a se∣cond thing required, they make it the head-stone of the corner, and the foun∣dation wher-vpon they build all theyr righteousnesse vnto saluation: Truly we dare not deny that in respect of the world (wereit not depraued) the Papist hash som good matter in him, because his déeds doe often times extend to the benefit of GODS Church: And euen in this (I write in the gréef of my conscience wher∣in I call the Lord to witnesse) shall they Page 116 condemne many professors in the day of visitation, that are lewd speakers, and lewd liuers altogether, yet I say al∣wayes that in this his only poynt, if fa∣reth with him, as with the Cow hauing giuen a iolly messe of milke, that after∣ward, doth spill it with hir foot.
For to they beare vs in hand that they haue many good workes, and that they are continuall workers, not because they are so commanded of God, but rather because, therby they will w•••e out theyr saluation and purchase heauen.
Alasse it is a Crauen Cock that crow∣eth* no where but on his owne dunghill, We know that all the good works of the world, being done without loue, are no∣thing worth; and that theyr superreroga∣tions being examined, and theyr grea∣test workes of dignity next vnto them, are found without loue, mercy, pitty or compassion. But if it may bee accomp∣ted a déed of mercy, to giue rich Altar clothes, to the beutifying of Altars; a déed of loue, to build Chappels and Chaun∣tries, and a déed of pitty to go farre on knées, to giue great gifts to shrines, then are they passing full of loue, mercy, pitty Page 117 and compassion: otherwise they haue none at all, at least that is acceptable. For they pitty the pouerty of lime and stones, & them they cloath.
They pitty a sort of foule fat Priests infurr'd gov•nes, and them they decke with golden Copes, and supply in all other theyr vanities and Idlenesse, as if it were a good déed to grease a fat hog in the tayle: But where is the loue, and compassion of theyr poore brother all this while? I will say no more, let them that fare the better for these and such other good workes, praise them: but yet Let them beware they sinne not there in▪ like vnto these are theyr Idols which ex∣ecutors vse to giue after men be dead, that liberality is idle, hauing no good in∣tent, and the reward rotten that is payd backe againe; which is, Lord haue mer∣cy on the soule of this charitable dead man. O grosse folly: where is the loue that should make this deed acceptable? if we should speake generally of al theyr works, they are euen drosse and more shamefull vices then these, if more may bee, for I say, and yet not I, but the holy Ghost, if they be not done in loue spring∣ing Page 181 out of the bowels of true fayth, they stink before y• face of God. Yea but they wil say they haue al loue, mercy, pitty & compassiō. Yea but how can this be true. ••. Let it be granted, y• they giue many gifts to the poore, that they hely to defend the widow, to harbour the fatherlesse, to cloath the naked, to féed the hangry, &c. 〈…〉• They do not these things 〈…〉 of the néedy, but to getto 〈…〉 she •nspeakable be∣nefit of saiuation, this is loue indeed I graunt: but is it not the onely loue of them selure? For I lend or giue a man a hundred pounde, because I would gaine a thousand or a thousand, because I would gayne tenne thousand, whome loue I? my poore neighbour, hauing néed of mée? or my selfe? O blindnesse, that seeth not these euills, nay twise O blind∣nesse that doth not sée, more then this! what is it to say that we are able to saue & iustifie our selues before the tribunall seat of God, but to reproue our most wise God of folly & doltishnesse, in that without need, hee sent Jesus Christ his welbeloued Son, by so great torment, as he indured to deliuer vs from the bon∣dage Page 119 of sinne? And what is it else but to contemne the vnspeakable loue of our sa∣uior, who being a God so mighty, y• King of all Kings, and the only Prince of all worlds, disdayned not to take vnto him, the contemptible shape of a seruant, and to beare the burden or all our sins, euen vnto the death of the vile and shamefull crosse, that hee might present vs blame∣lesse before his father. Which grosse opinion so outragiously blasphemous, some Papists at this •ay waxing halfe ashamed of, and daring not so broadly to maintaine, will seeme to qualifie with a poore shift of deskant. And because very infants or fooles in this light of the gos∣pell (for which the Lord be praysed) might otherwise point at them for their folly, they ar contct not to be priue Christ of his dignity altogether, and therefore doe attribute some part of iust fication to him, & the rest to them-selues. Surely this is scarcely so good a recompence, as hauing cracked his crown, to giue him a plaster: for except som insufficiency were or might iustly be foūd in him, what mad∣nes should moue them to intrude them∣selues into his office? But if these enter Page 120 commoners with Christ, though they séeme to haue retayned a certaine blinde modesty be heedfully examined, in truth they doe but practise to delude them∣selues and vs, hauing no mind to deale with Christ whot or cold.
For if we demaund of them for Gods eternall predestination, whereby he bringeth the elected and reprobate sort to the•r appointed ends, they are at defiance with that doctrine: and euen in this haue they taken away all that part of iustification, that they ascribed to Christ before, for why? If we be not safe conducted to heauen by the predestinate on of God in Jesus Christ, if followeth that we are carryed thether by same de∣sert of our owne, or else that wee neuer come there at all, it were a strong en∣gine that should hale them from this opinion, and yet is Christ heereby made altogether Jacke out of office. Let vs not wonder at these men, so much as pray for them: let vs not quarrel so much with them, as perswade with them, nor laugh so muck at theyr folly & wickednes as lament theyr ignorance: for this is true, if they be right, we be wrong, if we Page 121 be wrong, we are already sold vnder sin: contrary wise if we be right (whereof let vs not doubt, because the spirit of truth hath sealed vs vppe in the Prophets and Apostles) then are they wrong: if they be wrong, there is nothing more certayne then theyr iust damnation, vnlesse they turne to God with hearty repentance (which God for his son sake euen spéedily grant them) if it be his will.
And although they are not ashamed to denounce against vs, that we are Liber∣tines and despisers of good works, be∣cause we preferre our fayth in free iusti∣fication: be it as farre from vs to be trou∣bled at those false suggestions, as we are frée of that fault, we know & confesse, that Gods dearest children, haue smal féeling of God without righteous doing: there∣fore wee professe that if wee sée no good workes in our hands, if we perceiue not that the preaching of the Gospell hath mortified in our concupiscence, and made vs to hunger & thirst after righteousnes, we haue smal testimony of Gods electi∣on, we may talk til we are weary of our hope and faith in Christ, we may prattle till we ar hoarse of the Gospell and our Page 122 profession, and we may desie the Pope and his accomplices to the bottome of hell. But except our selues loue the righ∣teousnesse of God, and we exercise the same, Satan doth féed vs forth, with the strength of illusion: for Godlinesse is not made of talke as bookes are of leaues nor as woods are of trées, but it is such a holinesse as doth clime, from vice to vertue, and from one vertue to another without ceasing.
Good sir, this being true, we haue néed to looke about vs, and euery man haue an especiall eye to Gods glory in the execu∣tion of our actions: and if we haue attai∣ned to some knowledge in the schoole of Christ; we sée in the Gospell, that he is condemned, that hideth his talent, as∣wel as the other, that riotously wasted it, I pray you apply this to your selfe whom the Lord hath loued with long continew∣aunce of his goodnesse, and you shall find out a right Christian exploit euen in the man, that sat next at your elbow. Set vp∣on it, or if you haue begon giue it not o∣uer, for the winning of one soule to Christ is more acceptable in the sight of GOD, then to offer the whole world for a sacri∣fice; Page 123 what though he be a man, the spirit of GOD is able to encounter him, if hee bee neuer so wyly or peruerse in opinion. God who is able to rend the heart, and to pierce the marrow in the bones, is alwayes presont in his owne worke.
What though hee happily may commaund your silence, your spirit must bee touched with his sinnes, you may not suffer him to rest in vnclean∣nesse: for they that are of CHRIST are alwayes carefull to bring others to Christ-ward, but especially those that are so neare vnto them, as hee is to you, you know that in processe of time, the soft drop of raine doth break the hard flint, the silly worme doth throw downe the mighty oake, and the slow snayle doth attayne to the top of Mountaines. Therefore let nothing discon age you.
If this opinion be established vpon the prescriptions of his forefathers, try him by the Prophets & Apostles, if the length and continuance of his religion doth séeme forceable toperswade him. shew him the law, where God punished y•Page 124 transgression of Israel with four hundred yeares blindnesse; and no doubt hee that would punish the transgression of that Law, the gaue by Angells, with so long ignorance, may as iustly perswade him, that the same God can punish the contempt of his Gospel, with a thousand yeares blindnesse; Nay proue vnto him (I say) the generall apostacy wherof the Apostles haue told vs, if he dare not sub∣scribe to the Gospell, because he may be∣come an offence to his friendes, proue from thence, that he feareth his worldly friendes, more then hee loueth his hea∣uenly God: if he shun the Gospel because of those herestes, that dayly spring vp in the light therof, shew him that he neuer knew, or else hath forgotten the Scrip∣ture, which doth witnesse: The He∣resies must needs be, that the faithful may* be tryed, if his eies be presixed vpon pro∣fessors, that he can find many faults in theyr manners, let him look backe into him-self, and he shall sée that Papists and Protestants are very men, néeding the Phisition: But if he find not so great cor∣ruption in him-selfe; First let him take* héed least it fare with him, as with men Page 125 that be sicke, which when they thinke them-selues recouered & nearest to health, ar euen then furthest from health and nearest theyr end. But if there bee not indéed such corruption in them (which is hard to be determined on eyther side, considering how partiall our nature is in it owne behalfe, and ready to sla•ter it selfe) let him neuer impute this to the dignity of his religion, but to the good∣nesse of God the giuer of al good things. If he feare the Gospell because it is ill spoken off, Let him remember that Christ* himself is a stumbling stone made for the fal of many: if he be affraid of corrupt trā∣slations, let him either correct, orshew vs y• causes of his misliking, and he shall be satisfied. Finally if he shall stumble at Jarre that is now ava••s among Di∣uines, let him without partiality, read the monuments of Popery, & he shal per∣ceiue ten times more oddes among the Doctors thereof: For there is none of thē al (& almost as few of the old fathers) but ar so far wide one from another, yea and most of them from them-selues, that neyther Papists, nor Protestants doe want matter thereof to authorize and Page 126 maintaine theyr religion, nor any here∣tique that hath bene since the first begin∣ning of Papistry. Therfore you may proue vnto him, that this fault ought not to be fathered on the word of God, which doth plainly and truly set forth all points of religion: But rather vpon Sa∣than and his mallice, whose continuall practise hath béene, by al meanes and de∣uices possible, to discredit the religion of God: for such Darnell did hee throw among the Apostles, as did set great dis∣sention betwéene Paul and Barnabas, and* likewise made Paul and. Peter at open destance.
Al these things I leane to your conti∣nual meditation, and by you, to be im∣ployed to the benefit of Gods Church, as your duty and occasion shall requyre: And so beséeching you not to neglect any other, that by your godly study, you can call to remembrance, wherby Gods truth may be maintayned, I doe humbly take my leaue.