A SERMON of Gods Pro∣uidence.
Uery godly and profi∣table: Preached at South∣shoobery in Essex, by Arthur Dent, Minister of Gods word.
The third impression.
Iohn. 19 vers. 10. 11.
Imprinted at London for Iohn UUright. 1609.
A platforme made for •e proofe of Gods prouidente, that is,•r the examining of the trueth of this 〈…〉ctrine, whether God by his prouidence, rule all things generally, and euery crea∣ture, and action particularly.
Prou. 10. 33.
IT were to be wish∣ed that all Christi∣ans did vnderstand, that, which with mouth they confesse, when they rehearse the articles of their 〈…〉th, gathered out of the Apostles 〈…〉ine.
The Consession is briefe, and euery 〈…〉rde in it very significant, and well 〈…〉erstood, would roote all heresies out •ur mindes.
Page 2The principles of religion are ther• contained, and if hée bée but a w•• Philosopher, that is ignorant in • principles of Philosophy, and if it b• shame for all artificers to be ignor• in the grounds of those artes they pro∣fesse, it is a greater shame for vs Chri∣stians to make shew of christianity, a• yet to be ignorant in the rudimen to our Religion.
I would to God that euery one, •• hath the name of a christiā, did through∣ly vnderstand, & were fully instruct in them, then néeded not I labour much, for the proofe of this doctrine.
For euery one of vs, when we do o•∣fesse God to be almighty, doe acknow∣ledge that he by his prouidence rul• euery thing: and that wee may knew what we say, I purpose chiefly to ha∣dle these two points.
First that Christ the Sonne of G•• hath the selfe same prouidence, the God the Father hath: Secondly, t•• the prouidence of God, doth goue••• all things generally, and euery spec•• thing specially.
And yet in handling these two, I ••Page 3 not recite all that may be said touching his matter, but only touch some chiefe pointes summarily, which may helpe •n the better to vnderstand the large and learned tracts, that many notable •en haue written hereof. For the first:
That Christ the Sonne of GOD doth gouern• all things as well as God the Father, is prooued by rea∣son, example, and au∣thoritie.
BY reason; if God by his wisdome made the world: that is, if that the eternall wisdome of God, which is his word, the euerlasting Sonne of God, was present with God, when he made the worlde: he is also with him in go∣uerning the world: but hée was with God when he made the world, there∣fore he is with him in gouerning of it.
The equity of the first proposition is Page 4 grounded vpon most strong reason:
For as God created the world by his wisdome, so it is not to be beléeued, that God gouerneth the world with∣out his wisdome, otherwise hée should gouerne by chance.
The second proposition is pr••ed by the testimony of the Apostle. Heb. 1. by whom also he made the worlds.
By example, Gen. 48. vers. 13. 14. 15. Then tooke Ioseph them both, Ephrain• in his right hand towards Israels left hand, Manasseth in his left hand toward Israels right hand, so hee brought them vnto him.
But Israell stretched out his right hand, and laid it on Ephraims head which was the younger, and his left hand vpon Manassehs head (directing his hands on purpose) for Manasseh was the elder.
Also hee blessed Ioseph, and said the GOD before whom my Fathers Abra∣ham & Isack did walke, the God which hath fed me al my life lōgvnto this day▪
In which words Iacob acknowle•∣geth Gods prouidence to stretch particular men, euen to himselfe.
Page 5Then it followeth as vers: 5. 26. The Angell which hath deliuered me from •ll euill, blesse the children, and let my name bee named vpon them, and the name of my Fathers Abraham, and I∣zacke, that they may grow as fish, into • multitude in midst of the earth. In these words, the holy Patriarke Iacob giueth that particular prouidence to y• Angell, which in the former verse hée had giuen to God: And that by the •ame of Angell he vnderstandeth no treature, is hereby proued, in that hée •ffirmeth, that this angel had power to ••esse: saying to him, Blesse the chil∣dren: Hée then is the angell, whom Ia∣cob was wont to call, the angell of the Lord, that is the Sonne of God.
Therefore in this place Iacob attri∣buteth a prouidence ouer al things and persones, to the angell: that is the Sonne of God, as well as to God the Father.
By authority Iohn 5. ver. 17. My Fa∣ther worketh and I worke: This works that Christ speaketh of, is not to be vn∣•erstood of the creation onely, but also of the gouerning of al things created.
Page 6For this particle (hitherto) sheweth that he ment not onely that first worke of his in creating all things with his Father, but also another worke, which he daily excerciseth, which cannot bée vnderstood of any other then of gouer∣ning all things with his Father.
But here we must obserue this rule that the workes of the Trinity are vn∣deuided.
Therefore that which is the Fathers worke is the worke also of the Sonne, and of the holy Ghost.
That the Sonne of GOD doth the same workes that the Father doth, is already prooued: the same is to be af∣firmed also of the holy Ghost, by the warrant of Gods word, as by that I read in the 139. Psame Whether shal I goe from the Spirit? or whether shall I flie from thy presence? If ascende into Heauen, thou art there: If I lie downe in hell thou art there: let mee take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the vttermost partes of the Sea, yet thether shall thine hand lead mee, and thy right hand hold mee: Thus is the first point briesly▪ prooued, that Page 7 Christ the Sonne of God, and the holy Ghost, do gouerne all things as wel as God the Father.
Now to the second: that God by his prouidence gouerneth all and euery thing.
There are very many that can wil∣lingly graunt, that God by his proui∣dence gouerneth all things in general, but that euery particularthing is ruled by the same, they deny: with these men therefore I minde to deale some what largely, though not so learnedly, as the cause requireth: (& who is able to han∣dle it worthily?) Philosophers haue in this point had sundry opinions: Epi∣curus said, that all things were ruled by chance and fortune, and that God li∣ued idelly, and at ease in the Heauens: which opinion, as impious, all men in wordes condemne, and yet so we liue that our liues are euident proofes a∣gainst vs, that in heart and soule wée imbrace it.
For surely if we thought any better of GOD then Epicurus did, wée would not walk so directly in Epicurus pathes as we do, or liue so licentiously Page [unnumbered]Page 6〈1 page duplicate〉Page 7〈1 page duplicate〉Page 8 as though God regarded vs not.
The Periapatetickes, and other sort of Philosophers, broched another opi∣nion, teaching that those things which are aboue the Heauens, are mooued, guided and gouerned by God himself: but those things that are vnder the cir∣cle of the Moone, are gouerned partly by chance and fortune, partly by the counsailes and deuises of men, & partly by a brutish▪ or senceles force of nature.
There is a third opinion of the Stoicks, which is that all things are ruled by fate or destiny, that is by a se∣cret order and linke of causes: in which chaine, all things are so surely tied, that both God himselfe and man are straighted within those bounds.
This was a very dainty opinion in the iudgement of the Poets: who to ex∣cuse the weakenes of their God Iupi∣ter, fained that he wept, for that he was so hindered by the force of destiny, that he could not set Sarpedo at liberty.
The fourth opinion is Platoes, who graunteth that God by his prouidence ruleth all things in generall, which af∣terward God cōmiteth to petty Gods, Page 9 halfe Gods, and diuells, who haue the charge and care of particular things: From these foure opinions spring all other whatsoeuer, touching Gods pro∣uidence: and there is no one opinion, which may not easily be reduced to one of these.
But some of vs (euen of vs Christi∣ans) flying one danger, run into ano∣ther: & for that they dare not deny that God by his prouidēce ruleth al things, yet will they not graunt, that by it, hée gouerneth euery particular thing, least they should thereby be driuen (as they think) to some absurdities: thus whilst they would auoide absurditie, they commit impiety and fal away from the truth most dangerously: But farre bee this frō your heart (Right worshipful) and that it may neuer possesse you: a∣uoid the cause that worketh it in them, which is ignorance of the word of God: and for that God in great mercy hath kindled in your heart a desire of know∣ledge, quench not that godly desire, in you, but pursue hotly with hearty and feruent prayer, after knowledge, and you shall finde it: and if you shall finde Page 10 it, you shal•certainely know▪ that there will no absurdity be inforced vpon any doctrine grounded vpon Gods word, & that you néed not feare this doctrine, as they do: I wil first discourse breifly of the truth of it, and wil proue, that God gouerneth by his prouidence al things generally, and euery particular thing particularly: then wil I answere to al those chiefe obiections which are brought against it, and by which some vaine men think to make the doctrine absurde. To the first:
For that this argument hath béene diuersly handled, and men haue béene very curious in discoursing thereof: es∣petially since what way soeuer they winde themselues, many absurdities doe séeme to follow them: it wil be best I thinke for me to kéepe me in the high beaten way, least séeking by-wayes, I wander out of the way: I meane to discourse so of this doctrine, as I am taught in the word of God▪ & then dili∣gently to remooue al those things what∣soeuer they be not beséeming the most pure nature of God, which in the iudg∣mēt of man, shal séeme hereof to follow.
Page 11But if my ignorance were so great, that I could not remooue these incon∣ueniences: yet notwithstanding, are you & all Christians bound to receiue with all humilitie this true doctrine: & to blame me, not the doctrine, if I be not able to cleare it o•••l those things, which in the iudgement of man may séeme absurd: And although it is not my purpose, to examine all, that Philo∣sophers & others say against the gouer∣ning of euery thing by the prouidenc• of God, yet in my minde, all that they cā say against it, may by this one argu∣ment be easily ouerthrowne. If he be a God (which they all confesse, & though they would deny it, yet may it easily bée prooued against them) he is a most perfect thing: but y• which is most per∣fect hath nothing perfecter then it selfe, neither can we imagine any thing to be more perfect, then that which of it selfe is truly & absolutely most perfect: ther∣fore there is nothing▪ neither can we imagine any thing to be more perfect then God: herevpon I infer, if God did not gouerne al things in general, & eue∣rie thing in particular, we might well Page 12 imagine that there was some-thing more perfect then God: euen such a dei∣ty, which had charge and care of euery particular thing: but it is shewed y• no such deity or Godhead cā be imagined.
It is false therefore, that they herevp∣on would infe〈…〉 that God by his proui∣dence ruleth no• euery particuler thing & the contrary is true, which we teach: for else surely that God, which they dreame of to liue idly, and at case, & to haue no care of any thing, as they bab∣ble, is not in truth a God, but as Tully somtime said of their maister Epicurus so say I of them, that they in words ac∣knowledge a God, but in truth deny y• there is any. But leauing Philosophers let vs sée what the Scripture teacheth vs: the first place I will vse for y• proofe of this doctrine, I take out of the Epi∣stle to the Hebrues the 1. Chapt. verse. 3. where it is said of the sonne of God, that Hee beareth vp, that is, mooueth and gouerneth all things by his migh∣tie worde: hee that graunteth that he ruleth al things, excepteth no one thing from his gouernment: We may then well conclude out of this place of Page 13 God, that God gouerneth all, and eue∣rie thing.
But least I should leaue any starting hole for the aduersary to winde out at, let vs further sée what the Scriptur• teacheth vs of the gouerning of euery particular thing by Gods prouidence.
Neither will I heape vp many pla∣ces, but content my selfe with a fewe examples, out of which the truth of this doctrine may be gathered.
And thus I do endeuour to prooue it briefly: All the creatures of God are either indued with y• gift of frée choise, or else want this liberty of choise: they that haue it, are Angels, both good and euill, and men also both good and euill: they that want this liberty of choyse, are all other liuing things created by God, & also those his creatures, which haue no life: and yet of all these crea∣tures, God hath a speciall care, so as he disposeth of euery one of them ac∣cording to his pleasure.
The booke of Iob, and the Psalmes, do very often handle this argument, so that if I should gather out of them all their proofes, I should write out almost Page 14 their whole bookes: yet some I will bring, and leaue the rest for you to ga∣ther, hoping it wil be a means to bring you to the often reading of them.
In the 147. Psalme the Prophet saith thus of God, hat he couereth the Heauen with cloudes, and prepareth raine for the earth, and maketh the grasse to grow vppon the Mountaines▪ But the cloudes, the raine, and the grasse are things without soule & life, and yet by his wonderfull prouidence he driueth, and ruleth at his pleasure the cloudes in the ayre: he sendeth the raine downe vpon the earth, and he ma∣keth the grasse to grow: In the 148. Psalme the Prophet saith, that fire and haile, snow, and vapours, stormie windes doe execute his worde, and what is it to execute the word of God, but to bee ruled and gouerned by his word? it is to be at his beck and plea∣sure: Againe, in the 135. Psalme, it is said, that whatsoeuer pleased •he Lord, that did hee in Heauen and in earth, in the Sea▪ and all the depthes: hee bringeth vp the Clowdes from the endes of the earth, and maketh thePage 15lightnings with the raine, hee draweth ••rth the windes out of his treasures▪〈…〉d Christ our Sauiour in the ••••Math. biddeth vs learne how the Lil∣•ies of the field doe growe, they labour •ot, neither spin: and a little afterward •e telleth vs, that God doth cloath the grasse of the field▪ these •ew places •rooue that God hath a prouident •are, •o kéepe and gouerne euen his lifelesse creatures, not onely generally, but also particularly: as cloudes, raine, windes, crasse, fire, haile, snow, va∣pours, lillies, and such like: the like prouident care he hath for other of his creatures, whome hee hath indued with ••fe and sence, but not with rea∣•on, and that liberty of choyce, whereof I spake before: Wes read in the 147. Psalme, that GOD giueth to beasts their foode, and to the young Rauen••hat cric: and in the 104. Psalme verse 14. the Prophet saith, that GOD cau∣seth grasse to growe for the Cattell,•nd afterward in the 27. verse he saith that all beasts, foules, and fishes, waite vpon thee O Lord that thou maist giue them foode in due season: Thou giuestPage 16it to them, and they gather it, thou 〈…〉 penest thy hand and they are fille• with good thinges▪ This also our Sa¦uiour Christ affirmeth in the 6. of 〈…〉 th•w, saying, behold the sowles of 〈…〉 heauen, for they sowe not, neither reap〈…〉 no• carry into the barnes: yet y•• Heauenly good Father feedeth the• And in the •0. of Math. Are not 〈…〉 Sparrowes sold for • farthing and o〈…〉 them shall not fall on the ground wit••ut your Father? meaning God: by the •ew places you may sée it sufficien• prooued, that GOD hath a prouide• care of euery particular creature, v• on whom he hath not bestowed the 〈…〉 liberty of choise, whether they ha•• not life, or haue life & sence and w•• reason. Now as for those creatures 〈…〉 whom God hath giuen that gift of fr•• choise, which I said were Angels an• m•n, some do thinke, that God in tru•• hath a speciall prouident care ou•• man whom he made after his owne 〈…〉 image and likenesse: but not ouer other creatures: which opinion how false 〈…〉 is you may easily gather out of that 〈…〉 haue already written. Others do mak•Page 17 this to be the difference betwéene man 〈◊〉 man, that God taketh a special care of •he godly, but casteth away all care of •he wicked: but the word of God doth manifestly ouerthrow this opinion: In the 5. of Mathew. Christ our Sauiour teacheth vs, that our heauenly Father maketh the Sun to rise on the euil and on the good, and sendeth raigne on the iust and vniust. And Paul in his first Epistle to Timothy the 4. chapter, saith •hat God is Sauiour of all men specially of those that beleeue: wherof I gather •hat God hath a speciall care of those •hat are his, but yet not so, as that hee •aueth y• wicked to be ruled by chance •nd fortune: for if God haue a care of •hose things & creatures y• the wicked •o••esse, as of their cattell, grasse, and •orne and such like: surely hee proui∣•eth also for them, the owners & mat∣ters of th•se creatures: neither can he 〈…〉 prouident and carefull for the god∣•▪ but hee must also gouerne and rule •e wicked according to the pleasure of 〈…〉 diuine power. For as a Prince •nd Generall of an Armie is not •nely carefull for the Troupes and Page 18 companies of Soldiers that bee in his host: but also for mumtion & vittaile ne∣cessary for them, that hè may haue his army so furnished, that it may be a ter∣ror to the enemy, and may kéepe them amongst whome he lyeth incamped in such dutifull obedience, that they may bee ready to doe whatso•uer his Cap∣taines and officers command them: so can it not be that God doth prouide for his Church, but he most, also moderate and gouerne all those things, without which his Church cannot be here vpon the earth.
Such things as appertaine to the nourishment, cloathing, safe and quie〈…〉 harboring of the members of th〈…〉 Church: They therefore who ar〈…〉 not of the true Church, are yet, for th〈…〉 benefit of Gods Church, to be ruled 〈…〉 his prouidence, so are the Patriarch〈…〉 said to haue found fauor in the eye〈…〉 of infidels, for that the Lord did ru〈…〉 and mooue the hearts of infidels, whic〈…〉 way it pleased him.
Now how God ruleth not one〈…〉 euery particular man, but also all th〈…〉 seuerall actions of men, is prooued 〈…〉Page 19〈…〉t which is in the 16. of the Pro∣••rbs, commit thy workes vnto the •ord, & thy thoughts shal be directed:•nd by that also which is in the 4. of 〈…〉es: goe to now yee that say. to day 〈…〉 tomorrow wee will goe into such a Citie, and continue there a yeare, and •uy and sel and get gaine: aud yet yee •annot tell what shall bee tomorrow: for what is your life? it is euen a va∣pour, it appeareth for a little time, and afterward vanisheth away: for that wee ought to say, if the Lord will, and if wee liue wee will doe this or that: Thus Iames speaking of the act••ns 〈◊〉 doings of men, affirmeth that God ••leth them all, so that without his •ill wée can doe nothing, no not so •uch as passe from one place to ano∣•her: and Paul confesseth that he was ••ten hindred and staid by God, that •e could not goe to those Churches hée ••rposed, vntill hee had his iourney ••anted him by the will of God: God ••erefore ruleth al the seuerall actions 〈…〉ll men. I wil vse onely two exam∣〈…〉, to illustrate and make plain this ••st true doctrine, y• God gouerneth Page 20 the seuerall actions of all men, 〈…〉 good and bad: In the history of Iose〈…〉 many things to this purpose are to 〈…〉 found. The end of that history w〈…〉 that which Ioseph spake of, Genesi. 〈…〉you thought euill against mee saith 〈…〉 to his brethren, but God disposed it 〈…〉 good: In this history these men 〈…〉 their seuerall actions are to be way 〈…〉 First father Iacob, then the breth〈…〉 of Ioseph, Ioseph himselfe, the Ish〈…〉 clites to whom he was sold, that 〈…〉 huswife his mistris. Putiphars w〈…〉 Pharao and his seruants: the acti〈…〉 of •ll these persons are diuers & 〈…〉 different one from another, so〈…〉 them were laudable, others dete〈…〉 ble, and yet some of those better 〈…〉 others, and some of those actions 〈…〉 ther to be altogither allowed no〈…〉 praised, and yet as Ioseph witness〈…〉 God by his prouidence ruleth and 〈…〉 poseth them all both men and 〈…〉 actions to Iosephs good.
So as Dauid saith, Psalm 105. 〈…〉God sent a man before them, Io〈…〉 was sold for a slaue: For so God 〈…〉 uemeth the wicked actions of th〈…〉Page 21 men, that the most peru••se practises of Iosephs brethren, the shamelesse and beastly part of Putiphars wife, and o∣ther heauy actions, had a most happy end: So that euen those things that they did to Ioseph, purposing by the• vtterly to destry him, brought Io∣seph to great honour: so mighty and wonderfull is God, that he is able to wake the light to shine out of darke∣nesse. Moreouer in the last chapter of the prophesie of Ionas, we shal sée how wonderfully God doth not onely go∣•erne men, but also al maner of Crea∣•ures sensible & vnsensible: for I read••hat Ionas went out of the citty of Ni∣〈…〉y, & sat on the East-side of the citty, 〈…〉 there made him a booth & sat vnder 〈…〉t in the shadow til he might see what ••ould be done to the City: & the Lord 〈…〉epared a Gourd, & made it come vs 〈…〉er Ionas, that it migh•be a shadow 〈…〉er his head, and deliuer him from 〈…〉s griefe: So Ionas was exceeding 〈…〉ad of the Gourd. But God prep•∣〈…〉d a worme when the morning bo∣〈…〉 to rise the next day, and it smote 〈…〉e Gourd •hat it withered: and Page 22〈◊〉 the Sunne did arise, God pre∣pared also a seruent East winde, & th• Sunne beate vpon the head of Ionah▪ that hée fainted, and wished in his heart to die, and said It is better for mee to die then to liue: in this that I haue written out of Ionas wée haue these things to waie: First Ionah a man, the most excellentest creature, the other baser creatures, as the Gourd, the worme, and the winde• the worme is a creature that hath life in it and is of that kind of beasts that be denided in their bodies, the head & breast from their belly and taile, the Gourd & the wind they are creatures without life, & yet you sée how God by his prouidence ruleth & moueth at his pleasure all th•se creatures. If Epicurus had béene at this fight, hée would haue ascribed all to chance: if Aristotle, t〈…〉atut all causes: if Chry∣sippus or Zeno Stoicks, to fate and de∣stiny: if Plato to some petty God: and amongst them all there had not béene •ne word of the truth of God.
But the holy Ghost attributeth the ••urse of gouerning al th•se things to Page 23 God alone, who p•••ared them a• for Ionah his good: for by these meanes, Ionah that was wandring was set in the right way, as if you will read the chapter you may sée more fully of that which I haue already written▪ I may safely conclude, that both all the crea∣tures which want the gift of choice, & all they that haue it, are gouerned and▪ ruled by God, by his most high and might• prouidence.
Of the Angels, which I placed at the first amongst these creatures, that haue the liberty of choice, I wil write now the lesse, hoping that I shal haue this backe againe to view, polish, and inlarge: but their name teacheth vs that they are ruled by God him selfe, for they are called Angeli Angels, that is, messengers sent from God: and in the Epistle to the Hebrewes are cal∣led the ministers, and seruants of God.
Thus much for the first part, that is for the truth of this doctrine, that God by his prouidēce ruled al things in general, and euery particular thing in particular.
Now I come to that • promised to Page 24 handle in the 〈◊〉 place, namely to the vnfolding and answering of those arguments which are made against this doctrine. The first argument they make is this: God cannot gouern all things generally, and euery crea∣ture and action without exceeding toile and griefe of mind: But it agrée∣eth with the nature of God, that hee rest in quiet & be free from all labors: Therefore God doth not gouerne all and euery particular thing.
To this argument drawne thus from the nature of God, I answere, that their first proposition is false, which is that God cannot gouerne all things generally and particularly without exceeding toile, and griefe of minde: but for that I will not only de∣ny it as false, but shew the reasons that m••ue me so to do, you must know that there are diuers kinds of actions, •ome are naturall, some are violent, o∣ther some meane: that is neither alto∣gether natural, nor altogether violent: natural actions are they that do slow from the principles of nature it selfe, without any helpe elsewhere: such are Page 25 the round motions of the heauens, th• flowing and ebbing of the Sea, th•• light things do of their natural light∣nesse mount vpward, heau• things all downeward, that we breath •nd such like: these actions are done without any labor, because they moue of them∣selu•s without any other helpe: Other actions there are, which are done by, force, and therefore are called violent▪ as by force to make a stone mount vp∣ward, whose nature is to fall downe∣ward▪ And such like violent actions, which cannot long last as Aristotle•eacheth, because they are done with force. There is another sort of actions which I called meane, whose be∣ginnings are of nature, but yet they cannot bée done vnlesse they bee helped by some other meanes, as to eate, to drinke, to walke, and such like. But now that, that God doth, hée doth without labour, because ••• he doth it naturally, and therefore most •reely: againe, there is no force that can compell GOD, and therefore hee worketh of himselfe freely, and without any compulsion: Page 26 neither is he trobled with griefes, but gouerneth all things according to the rule of his will: neither is there any thing more agréeable to the nature of God, then to gouerne, and preserue the whole worlde, euen with the word of his power.
A second argument of theirs is this, It is an vnméete thing for God, and cleane repugnant to his nature, to entermeddle in filthy, and vncleane matters: but he cannot gouern euery seueral creature, and their actions, but he must entermeddle with many vn∣cleane and filthy matters▪ therefore he doth not gouerne them.
I deny the second proposition, which is, that God cannot gouerne euery se∣ueral creature & their actions, but he must mingle himselfe with many vn∣cleane, and filthy matters: For that amongst the creatures, and their ac∣tions, there are many vnclean things: this consequence, though it be the ground of the proposition is false, for although the power of God is in all his creatures, & ruleth all, yet doth it not therefore follow, that the nature Page 27 of God doth entermeddle with th•••∣pure actions of his creatures, which may be made plaine by this similitude: the Sunne of all visible creatures most excellent (man onely excepted (doth most set forth the glory of God: it doth shine in euery place, so that it shineth often vpon the dunghil, and though the beames thereof do heate the dunghill, as they do all other places, and things which they pierce: Yet for all that the Sunne is not polluted with the defile∣ments and vncleanesse of it, neither doth the substance of the beames of the Sunne mingle it selfe with those things which it pierceth.
When one laide this in Diogenes his dish▪ that he went into a stewes or brothel-house, why saith he the Sunne commeth thither also, and yet is not defiled therewith: thereby shewing, yt a wise & godly man though he enter in∣to vncleane and filthy places, and come into the company of filthie persons, doth not forthwith •o•n• himselfe to their filthines, neither is infected with their vices: If therefore this Philoso∣pher could enter into the stewes, and Page 28 come forth againe vnspotted with their vncleanesse, so that their filthinesse could not fasten vpon him: much lesse is God (whose nature is most pure and simple in gouerning of his creatures) infected with their filthinesse. There is a third obiection, which they thus frame: Euery wise and good gouer∣nour, vnlesse hee bee greatly hindred; bringeth his worke that hée fram•th, and that thing that he ruleth to a good; perfect and wished end: This may be prooued by many examples, as by the example of a skilfull Pilot, who direc∣teth & bringeth his ship to the purposed hauen, and such like: but nothing can let God from perfecting his workes, & yet many of his creatures, as many monsters, mad men, lame, are imper∣fect. Therefore God ruleth not euery generation and conception: To vnlose this knot wée must remember this dis▪tinction of order: there are two sorts of orders or courses ye God taketh in go∣uerning all things: the one of them we may call ordinary▪ which God doth of∣ten vse, the other extraordinary with which order thogh we be not acquain∣ted, Page 29 yet doth God him-selfe know the cause why he so worketh: & yet of this may we not conclude, that God in his workes is contrary to himselfe: for if so vs there appeare some diuersity and difference in the gouernment of all things by God, certainely that diffe∣rence is not of Gods rule, but of the vnstable iudgement of our troubled minds: for Gods workes are not to be balanced by our iudgements, which are deceiueable, and for the most part vntrue: Augustine proposed the exam∣ple of two children, one of which is du∣tiful and louing to his father, the other is a wicked stubborne child: both their fathers are deadly sick, the good childe praieth earnestly vnto God▪ to deliuer his father from his sicknes: y• graceles graft thinketh euery houre twenty vn∣till his father be breathlesse: both their fathers died & that according to Gods appointment and direction.
But now that childe that prayed for the prolonging of his fathers life highly pleased GOD: and yet it pleased not GOD, that his father should liue any longer: And againe, Page 30 that childe that longed for his fathers death, as highly di•••eased God, and yet it▪ was Gods pleasure that his fa∣ther too should die: how commeth it to passe, that that which pl•aseth GOD may displease him also, and that which displeaseth him, please him? as he was pleased with the good childs kindnesse, but not pleased that his father should liue••nd againe displeased with the vn∣naturall part of the lewd childe, & yet pleases with his fathers death.
Surely there is in God a certaine secret ordinance which yet is iust, and a certaine ordinance open and mani∣fested, which also is righteous; But certaine idle companions to draw both Augustine and vs into hatre•, for this doctrine, obiect against vs, that they cannot perceiue in God this double wil, which we speake of, to wit, a secret and a reuealed will: for they say wee all know and you confesse, that God is most plaine without all shew of do•∣•••nesse, and therefore his will must be also as plaine, and •uen so is it, though we cannot comprehend it: but let them first answer to that which Page 31 Augustine and wée haue proposed, and 〈…〉ill they, nill they, they must acknow∣ledge with vs, that this differance of 〈…〉ill, of which I haue spoken, is not 〈…〉operly in God, but in vs, who ac∣cording to our reach and capacity, mea∣••re diuine matters: and therefore in 〈…〉espect of vs and of our capacity, ther••éemeth to be th•• difference in the will 〈◊〉 God: According to our censure and ••dgement, wee will iudge the birth 〈◊〉 monsters, mad men & crooked men, 〈◊〉 be an vnperfect worke of God, but▪ 〈◊〉 the iudgment of God their creation 〈◊〉 most perfect and absolute.
If Aristotle were asked what the 〈…〉use were of their imperfections and 〈…〉eformities, he would answere that 〈…〉ey procéeded of a defect and want in 〈…〉ture. But Christ saith otherwise of 〈…〉e man that was borne blind in the 9. 〈◊〉 Iohn. Neither hath this man sinned, 〈…〉or his parents, but that the workes of 〈…〉OD should be shewed on him: that 〈◊〉, that God might be glorified by him.〈…〉ow since y• last end of al things is the 〈…〉ory of God, and since al things are to 〈◊〉 accounted perfect, which attaine to Page 32 their desired end, and since the glory God more appeareth by the imperfec∣tions of some of his creatures, the〈…〉 he had made them all of one forme 〈◊〉 perfection, surely we may not iudg〈…〉∣ny of his workes vnperfect: I gr〈…〉 y• if they be considered in themselue〈…〉 there will appeare in them some i〈…〉 perfection: but when they are refer〈…〉 to the glory of God, if they illustra〈…〉 and set it forth, they are euen therefo〈…〉 to be accounted perfect: for if no m〈…〉 should be mad, if none deformed, no〈…〉•ame, none blinde, wee would ascri〈…〉 the perfection of our birth, which w〈…〉 perceiue that all men haue necessar〈…〉 either to nature or to our parents: a〈…〉 we would easily slip into this opinio〈…〉 that wee had our solues also of our p〈…〉∣rents: but since there appeareth su〈…〉 a diuersity in the outward form•s 〈◊〉 creatures, the prouidence of God •o〈…〉 more clearly appeare by that their dif∣ference in shape. In the iudgement 〈◊〉 man, many flies and wormes, an•〈…〉 sort of serpents are reputed not one〈…〉 vnprofitable but also hurtfull: B〈…〉 the Lord (•s Moses•h•weth in 〈◊〉Page 33〈…〉ng) calleth them his treasures, out 〈…〉f which hee draweth vengeance for 〈…〉s enimies, as arrowes out of a qui∣〈…〉er.
These were the shafts hee shooke 〈…〉harao with; With these Antiochus,〈…〉ith these Herod was also punished: 〈…〉ho therefore will account them vn∣〈…〉ofitable, or who superfluous, since 〈…〉e Lord himselfe hath such vses to 〈…〉t them to?
There are also in thē many profitable 〈…〉ings for man, wherof som• we know 〈…〉t, other-some the Phisitians know, 〈◊〉Nicander & others haue very lear∣〈…〉dly written of them: Ancient lear∣〈…〉d Chrisostome in his tenth Homily 〈…〉pon Genesis, vsed this similitude: (saith hee) in earthly matters when 〈…〉e see these things that bee done, ap∣〈…〉oued by graue and mighty men, 〈…〉e mislike not their censure, not 〈…〉in-say it, but preferre their iudge∣ment before our owne: how much more 〈…〉uld we carry the same minde of all 〈…〉ble creatures, which we know that▪ 〈…〉d the Creator of all things made▪ 〈…〉at since wee haue receiued his Page 34 censure of them all, that all that h〈…〉 made was very good, let vs suspe〈…〉 our iudgments & bury them in silenc〈…〉 and let vs not dare to prefer the iudg∣ments of al men before the Lords: a〈…〉 we may perswade our selues wi〈…〉 strong and sufficient arguments, th〈…〉 the Lord made all things in great w〈…〉 dome and mercy, and in a worde, th〈…〉 the Lord made nothing vnaduised or without cause: but though we kno〈…〉 not the causes of his workes, beca〈…〉 of the weakenesse of our vnderstan•∣ings: yet hath he made all things 〈…〉∣cording to his wisdom and most mi〈…〉∣ty mercy.
Thus farre Chrisostome: If the〈…〉∣fore by the testimonie of Aristotle,〈…〉 ture made nothing in vaine. As y• m〈…〉 who was vtterly ignorant of true r•∣gion, affirmed of nature, which he 〈…〉 iudged to be both blind & brutish: ho〈…〉 much more are we bound to attrib〈…〉 vnto the most wise creator of all thin〈…〉 this •erfection in his creation▪ that made nothing in vaine, but all thi〈…〉 in great wisdome: since all his wor〈…〉 redounded to his glory, which is Page 35〈…〉st, and the chiefest end of all things, 〈…〉d by the common consent of all men, ••ery thing is iudged either perfect or ••perfect, by the attaining of his end? •here is a fourth argumēt, thus made ••ainst the prouidence of God: If God 〈…〉ho is most wise and righteous in his ••dgements, do gouerne all things, & ••ery particular thing, there should not 〈◊〉 so great troubles in cōmon wealths, ••d specially in the Church, whereof ••e Lord hath a speciall care, for that it 〈◊〉 his Sanctuary: but both in Church ••d common-wealth there is great vn∣••ietnesse, so that all laws both diuine ••d humane are openly violated: good •en most cruelly are dealt withall, e∣•ill men doe reioyce and triumph in ••eir wickednesse without controle∣••ent: God therfore gouerneth not all ••ings that are in common-wealths ••d in the Churches.
This argument thus drawne from ••e nature of Gods iustice (which sée∣•eth to be contrary to his gouernmēt 〈◊〉 his prouidence, if he should sée, mo∣••rate and suffer all these out-rages & 〈…〉orders) is one of the chiefest props Page 36 of Epicurus his opinion and this arg•∣ment troubled many that now liue〈…〉 dayly labor to bring Epicurus name 〈…〉 obloquy with al men, and yet are co•∣tent to liue-like Epicures: & this arg•∣ment also the Lurkes, and our cap•∣tall enemies (the papists) obiect m〈…〉 against vs: and sure it carrieth s〈…〉 waight with it, that Dauid confesse〈…〉 y• he was so astonied, that his féet we〈…〉 almost gone: and his steppes had w〈…〉 neare slipt, when he saw the prospe〈…〉∣ty of the wicked, and punishments a〈…〉 hard entertainement of the godly, v•∣till he went into the sanctuary of G〈…〉 then vnderstood he their end, •hat vntill Dauid entred into Gods school & learned by his word & holy spirit he ordered al things most wisely, a〈…〉 iustly. After Pompey had bin put t〈…〉 worst in the battaile fought betw〈…〉Caesar & him, in the consines of Ph〈…〉∣salos, & escaped by flight to Mytele〈…〉 he went to Cratippus, and disput〈…〉 with the Philosopher in his Gard〈…〉 whither he thought there was a〈…〉 God which by his prouidence ruled earth: and for that before in very 〈…〉Page 37〈…〉uarels hee had had most prosperous 〈…〉ccesse, as when he had subdued, & in 〈…〉aitaile vanquished the inhabitants •f the East part of the world, & was 〈…〉ow in a most good cause ouercome, 〈…〉ripped off his army, & forc•d to fly a∣•ay himself alone most shamfully: he •ere of gathred that God regarded not •hat was done amongst men, but y• al •hings were done by chāce: thus doth 〈…〉 wise men of y• world iudge & speak of •uch euēts. But ye holy Ghost teacheth •s to iudge far otherwise of thē: when Moses in his song Deu. 32. was to de∣〈…〉uer to the people the threatnings of God, if they were disobedient, which •fterward ye rebellions Israelits felt, •ée vseth this preface: perfect is the worke of the mighty God: for all his waies are iudgement: God is true and without wickednes, iust & righteous is 〈…〉e: teaching hereby that whatsoeuer 〈…〉e world doth prate of the causes of •fflictions, that GOD with great •isdome, doth send forth of his trea∣〈…〉res all sortes of calamities: some∣〈…〉me by them to punish the wick∣〈…〉, sometime to excercise the Godly Page 38 with them. For the sins of the peopl• the hipocrite doth raigne: That is, t• rants sit in the throne of Justic• which vnder pretence of executi• iustice, are but hipocrites and oppre•• the people: Iob. 34. verse 30.
Woe be to thee (saith the Proph•Isaiah) which spoylest, for thou sha• bee spoiled: And indéed, one tyra• plagueth another, and though tyrant be a plague to al natiōs & kingdome• yet are they themselues in due tim• in like sort punished by other tyrant• In the person of Sennache•ib y• iudg•∣ments of God are very liuely set for by the Prophet Isaiah in the te• Chapter of his prophesse: The Lo• stirreth vp the king of the Assirians punish the easterne people: Sennach rib was a wicked man, & he is asco•• to wicked peopl•, yea he cruelly ver• the people of God, he spoileth almo• all Palestina, hee bes•egeth Ierusal• the chiefe Citty of that Country: A• thus saith God of him by the Proph• in that place: O Ashur the rod of • wrath and the staffe in their hands my indignation: I will send him t•Page 39dissembling nation, and I will giue him a charge against the people of my wrath, to take the spoyle, and to take the prey, and to treade them vnder∣foote like the mire of the streete. But hee thinketh not so, neither doth his heart esteeme it so: and so forth. And a little after, thus saith God by the Pro∣phet of him: But when the Lord hath accomplished all his worke vppon Mount Sion, and Ierusalem, I will visit the fruite of the proude heart of the King of Ashur, and his glorious and proude lookes, Because he said, by the power of myne owne hand haue I done it, and by my wisdome because I am wise: And a little after this, thus saith the Prophet, shal the axe boaste it selfe against him that heweth therewith? If Pompey had looked on this example, thus laide forth by the Prophet, hée might haue b•ne better occupied & in∣structed then hée was by his toring with Cratippus: And this would haue taught him, that though the Lord suf∣fereth tyrants to bée for a time a plague to an• natiō, yet in his appoin∣ted time he suffereth them to bée pu∣nished Page 40 by other tirants, & to haue the same measure that they measured vn∣to others: Now if we compare Senna∣cherib, and Pompey that gloried in this title The greate: which name Sil∣la gaue him for his victories: we shall finde many things alike in their histo∣ries. Both of them was an axe in the hand of God to strike the people of the East: Both of them destroyed Pales∣tina, and afflicted the people of God: Sennachetib besieged Jerusalem, Pompey tooke it, the Assirian was put to flight by an Angel and was slaine in his Temple, that is in his Sanctuarr, by his owne Sonnes: Pompey was put to flight by Caesar▪ and flying to Ptolomy King of Egipt, whose father being dispossessed of his kingdome, he had restored again to his crowne, and therefore Ptolomy should haue béene as a sonne vnto Pompey, was there in Egipt with him miserably slaine. So vnsearchable are the waies of Gods iudgements: for that which Michah speaketh of the Caldeans in the 4. chap. of his propheste: (They know not the thought• of the Lord, they vnder∣standPage 41not his councell; therefore they shall bee thrashed as sheaues is the barne, (may be spoken of all these Gy∣ants and proude tyrants, who for that they knowt not the counsaile of the Lord, shall in his apointed time beare the punishment of their pride: Neither doth the holy Ghost teach vs, that the wicked only are punished, but that the church of God is also afflicted though for another end and purpose: And there may many reasons bee brought, to shew why the church of God is subiect to so many calamities, but I will at this time alleadge onely thrée, by which as by many other wee may know, that the Lord in truth and iudgement, doth excercise his church with afflictions. The first is y• so long as we carry about with vs this bur∣then of corruption, we are not onely subiect to sinne, but do continually by sinning prouoke the Lord to deale in iustice with vs: And therefore it is agréeable to the iustice of GOD, that wée bee chastned of the Lord with a fatherly rod, which may keepe vs in obedience: Yea wee must all Page 42 say with Ieremy in the third chapter of his Lamentations, verse 22. It is the Lords mercies, that wee are not consumed, because his compassions fayle not.
My second reason is this: It is best for vs to bée humbled vnder the mighty hand of God: for wée know how fierce and haughty minded we are by nature, so that it is necessary for vs, that God keepe vs vnder his schooling, and so haue vs in some awe: therfore Dauid saith in the 1. 19. Psal. ver: 67. Before I was afflicted I went a∣strav: but now I keepe thy word, & ver: 71. It is good for me that I haue beene afflicted, that I may learne thy statutes. The third reason is deliuered by Paul in his first Epistle to the Corin∣thians the 11. Chapter, vers. 32. Whē we are iudged wee are chastned of the Lord, because wee would not bee con∣demned with the world: Therefore let vs conclude this whole discourse with Moses thus: The iudgements of the Lord are true and righteous, nei∣ther let vs measure them according to our owne conceit & iudgements whichPage 43are very deceiueable, but let vs know that the Godly are punished for their sinnes they dayly commit, that they may be humbled, and that they perish not with the wicked: but God in pu∣nishing the wicked, doth shew & open the treasures of his long sufferance, patience and iustice: but when he af∣flicteth vs, hée maketh vs like to his owne Sonne Christ, and stirreth vp in vs an earnest desire to be dissolued and to be with Christ.
Let vs in the meane time giue our selues to harty and earnest prayers, praying con∣tinually with the Saints of God.