A LEARNED TREATISE OF THE PLAGUE: WHEREIN, The two Questions: Whether the PLAGUE be Infectious, or no: And Whether, and how farr it may be shunned of Christians, by going aside? are resolved.
Written in Latine by the famous Theodore Beza Vezelian.
LONDON, Printed by Thomas Ratcliffe, and are to be sold by Edward Thomas at the Adam and Eve in Little Britain 1665
To the Honorable Sir JOHN ROBINSON, Lieutenant of his Majestie's Principal Fortress, the Tower of London.
THE confidence of a Stranger will (I hope) easily meet your pardon, when the worth of the Author, and the occasional Subject of the Discourse (in these contagious and calamitous times) have given me too sad an opportuni∣ty of presenting it to your Honour, whose con∣cerns for the Publick Welfare, (even in this Great City) are as eminently great as any o∣thers. The matter of the Discourse is a Confutation, and recon∣ciling the onely two destructive Opinions, that in all Ages (in Contagious and Infectious times) have ever proved fatal to the World: the one too much presuming and relying upon this bold Opinion, That the PLAGUE is not Infectious: and the other, Tum pavor sapientiam omnem mihi ex animo ex∣pectorat: out of a weak and unspirited Precipitation, without exception, flye away from it; both of which are so contrarie to Humanity; that as they are utter Enemies to each other, so (like the dis-agreeing Brothers) they are both in opposition to Chri∣stian Page [unnumbered]〈1 page duplicate〉Page [unnumbered]〈1 page duplicate〉Page [unnumbered] Community and Charity. To say more, were too great a wrong to the Judicious Beza, and to anticipate Your Honours Judgement; To whose Noble Approbation I commend the Author; and hope from Your Noble Candour, You will easily censure this Presump∣tion in,
Your Honours (though unknown) most devoted, and most humble Servant, Edward Percivall.
A LEARNED TREATISE OF THE PLAGUE: Wherein the two Questions: Whether the PLAGUE be Infectious or no? And Whe∣ther, and how far it may be shunned of Christians, by going aside? are resolved.
I Confess my self to have been so unacquainted with this question, Whether the Plague be to be reckoned amongst infectious Diseases? that un∣till within these few years, I am of belief, that it was never doubted; but that this Sicknesse alone, amongst all others, was to be judged Contagious; for testimony whereof, before any man that is not given to quarrel, I refer my self to the judgement of* Wri∣ters of all Countries, who have treated of these things. But now in our times men have taken in hand to dispute this question upon this occasion, That many do so greatly fear this disease, and death which commonly followeth the same▪ Page 2 that forsaking all duties, not onely of Christians, but also of Humanity, they have greatly increased the very wrath of God, which is the chief cause of this Sicknesse: and there hath in a manner been no* stay or lett in them; but where this great misery hath happened, the bonds of Man's fellowships being once broken, it is much to be wondered at, that all Mankinde hath not perished and been destroyed. And these men be∣ing demanded what they can alledge for so impious a crime, for that they commonly bring nothing else for their excuse, but the fear of Infection, wherof it hath come to pa•s, that those in whom there is a great∣er boldness, do think that they can no way more certainly finde a remedy for this evil, than by teaching that this Sickness is falsly supposed to be in∣fectious.
But I, because I think that this Paradox or strange opinion can no more be proved by good reason, then if a man with Anaxagoras should hold the Snow to be black, or out of the Hypothesis of Copernicus, labour to prove, that the Earth doth really move, and the Sun stand still, as the Cen∣ter of the World, do judge, that this so great fear, which bringeth with it a forgetfulness of all duty, both may, and also ought otherwise to be put away: neither will I believe this Disease not to be infectious, untill some man shall teach me, either out of the Word of God, or by evident and good reasons to the contrary; for there are in the very course of Nature certain and most sure grounds and proofs of this verity, so long as the order of neces∣sary Causes agree with themselves.
For I deny, although it be agreed upon, that the Plague, of all other diseases, is most infectious; yea, and that unavoidable death for the most part doth presently follow: that therefore the Standing, in which God hath placed every man, is to be forsaken. I deny, I say, that therefore that thing is not to be preferred before Life it self, which we owe unto God, to our Country, and which we owe unto men, either for some publick or pri∣vate respect. And I had much more rather they would bestow their en∣deavours in perswasive disputes, to restrain mens flying away for fear of the Plague, than that they should labor to prove their strange opinion of the Plague not to be contagious. Indeed, I had rather have the Consequent (according to the School-phrase) in that same Enthymeme to be denied, than the Antecedent; for by that means something might be brought to pass, not only by probable, but also by necessary Arguments, according to their own desire, namely, That those do very greatly offend, who, for fear of any peril do offend against God, or against their Neighbour. For what Christian man dareth to call these things into controveisie? or if he dare do it, shall not be reproved by the restimony of his own Conscience, though all the world should be silent? For I do not think that there are Page 3 any, which do hold, that with a good conscience, the Plague by all means without exception is to be fled from; which notwithstanding, I see by some in such sort disputed against, as if it were by others maintained. Yet, if there be any of that minde, I do no more favour their errour, than I al∣low of those men, which of a clean contrary opinion do think, that the Plague is not to be fled from. But surely it is the part of a wise man to follow the Golden mean, so that he fly not when he should tarry, neither when he should go aside (for the term of flying away in this Argument seemeth to me to be very improper) by his rash tarrying, offend against the self-same Charity, which seemed to counsel him to stay. These things I thought good in manner of a Preface to set down, before I come to the handling of the matter: To the end, that all men at the first en∣trance may perceive, what I have undertaken to defend, and what to dis∣prove. Then for as much as there are some not wanting, which do think that this discourse of the Plague to be fled from, or not to be fled from, doth depend upon the first question, Whether the Plague be infectious or no? let us examine with what reasons and arguments they so boldly deny the Plague to be infectious; a thing which hitherto of all men without contro∣versie hath been believed.
For the better determining of this question, they would have it to be considered what the Plague is, from whence it commeth, what is the cause of it, by what means it is sent unto us, what is the nature of it, and what the end?
I take their Proposals, for it is most lawful and reasonable: But how shall we come to the knowledge of these things? By no means (say they) from any reasons out of Physick, but only by the word of God. Then let all things di∣sputed by Physicians be blotted out; and instead of the Books of Hypocra∣tes, Galen, and others, Let Physicians read only the Bible; and let there be no difference between them, and Divines; between the Physick of the body, and the minde. Nay, God forbid, will they say; for we condemn no other reasons of Physick, than such as are against the word of God. Let us enquire then (forasmuch as Infection hath its beginning from Natural causes, and therefore proceedeth from them,) whether concerning Natural causes of the Plague, there be any thing taught in the word of God, contrary to the Rules and Judgement of Physicians. They say that the Plague is cal∣ed by the Hebritians Dener, of the word Daner, which also signifieth to destroy, by Sentence given by God: and that the Grecians do render it Thanaton, that is to say, Death. Be it so, it is not much to the matter; •or hereof it followeth not, that the Plague proceedeth not of Natural •auses coming between, because it is sent by God, unless that we will •ave therefore all Natural causes of Diseases taken away, because no man di∣•th, but God decreeing of what kinde and manner of death soever it be that Page 4 he die. Nay, (say they) it is a folly to call the Sentence of God, where∣by he appointeth unto every man, not only death it self, but also the kinde of death, and Second causes, infections. But who I pray ever doted so much as to call the Sentence it self, of God, infectious? But that which we say is far otherwise, namely, That the Infection it self is to be reckon∣ed amongst Second causes; for who can deny that many Diseases are got∣ten by Handling and Touching? of the which some are deadly, and other some are less dangerous; unless they will also contend that the Sun shineth not at noon day? Sinne indeed, wherewith we are all born infected, and from which all this Dying cometh, by a certain Spiritual infection, not without the Decree of God, it is conveyed and spread into all the posterity of Adam: therefore there is no substance at all in this Reason. But they also demand, if Infection be reckoned amongst Second causes ap∣pointed by God, how we can avoid that which is ordeined by God? that hence they might gather, that if the Plague be granted to be infectious, that in vain a Remedy is sought against it, by flying away. But this is also a very dull reason; For if this reason be good, shall it not be lawful to affirm the same of all Second causes of death? If so, Let us neither eat, nor drink, nor seek any remedy against any Diseases; let Souldiers go unarm∣ed to Battel, because Death ordained by God cannot be avoided. But thus the Case standeth, doubtless neither Death, nor the Time, or any kinde of Death appointed by God, can be avoided: Neither do we eat, or use Remedies against Diseases, or put on armor against our Enemies, as if we meant to withstand God. But leaving those things, which God would have kept secret from us, we must use those things which God him∣self going before, Nature telleth us to be ordained by him to prolong our life so long as it shall please him; which if we do not, we shall worthily be deemed to tempt and most grievously to offend God; so far off is it, that using the means set down by him to avoid death, we should sinne against him, although that sometimes we use them in vain, that is to say, when as the end doth plainly shew, that even then we must die, when as we thought our life should yet for a time have been prolonged. So is Asa re∣buked, not for that he sent for Physicians, but for that he put his hope of life in the Physicians: So that when experience hath taught us, that In∣fection creepeth rather into things near, than afar off; he is not to be ac∣cused, who leaving no part of Christian duty undone, withdraweth him∣self and his Family: Nay, he shall be greatly blamed, who rashly casteth himself and his into the danger of Infection; when as the Apostle beareth witness, he is worse than an Infidel which hath not so great care over his, as with a pious safety and charity he ought to have.
Now let us see whether this following Reason be of any more force. By those Names, say they, which in the holy Scripture are attributed to the Page 5 Plague, is sufficiently and thorowly expressed, what the quality and man∣ner of the same is. Now the Plague is called The hand of God, 2 Sam. 24. The word of God, 1 Chron. 21. and is also signified by the name of Ar∣rows, Ps. 31. & 90. Therefore it cometh not of Infection: when asneither Hand, nor Sword, nor Arrow, woundeth by Infection. But besides that, peradventure I might worthily call into doubt, whether all these testimonies alledged deny this Argument also; for in another place, as Psalm 17. David calleth his Enemies the hand of God, who by natural means assault∣ed him. And when as the hand of God is said to have made us, Natural generation is not left out; and it is manifest, that in the Scripture all evils, and punishments whatsoever God sendeth unto Mankinde, using either ordinary Laws of Nature only, or else using the service of Angels, are cal∣led Arrows. I demand moreover, what they call the quality and manner of the Disease? They will say, The nature thereof it self: But I say by those me∣taphorical terms of hand, sword, arrow, is no more signified of what manner or quality this Disease is in it self, than what is Hail or the Scabb, when God is said with a stretched out hand to have smitten Aegypt: And to be short, what is the force and nature of every Disease, when as in the addi∣tions of the Law, they are reckoned up amongst the Curses which God would send upon them? What then? surely then it belongeth unto the Phy∣sicians to search out the nature of Diseases, so far as they depend upon the laws of Nature; which we often see by them performed with such good success and certainty, that they can foreshew both them, and what issue they are likely to come unto. But concerning Supernatural and Divine causes of Sickness and other Miseries, those do Divines declare, teaching, That we must mount far above Nature, and all things appertaining unto Nature, when with our Prayers we deal about the avoiding and removing of them far away from us; for the true and principal cause of them is our Sins, wherewith God being provoked, doth raise and stir up against us all these inferiour Causes, to be revenged on Mankinde with just punishments. I therefore say, that it is an absurd and fond thing, to confound these things, so far severed asunder, and distinguished by their most diverse, yet not contrary ends, but onely such as are placed, the one under the other. And because that in this Argument they contend, that the Plague therefore is not infectious, for that it is often called the hand, and sword, and arrow of God, I demand of them, whether the Leprosie were not the hand of God? and whether it were not therefore infectious; and the rather, because it was infectious whether therefore the Leprous were not commanded to depart aside from the rest that were clean? I demand this also, If there be no evil in the City, which the Lord doth not, whether at this day, notwith∣standing, the foul black sporty and scurvy Leprosie called the Elephantia∣sis be not accounted infectious. And I would gladly ask of them which Page 6 finde fault with our going aside in the Plague time, whether they think that those which are infected with it, are to be suffered in the Common company and society of men? And if they suppose that they are to be suffer∣ed, why they declaim not, and cry out against them also by whom they are shut out? if not, and think them to be avoided for fear of the Infecti∣on, why without all exceptions do they blame those that shun the infecti∣ons of the Plague, as the most hurtful to all persons? But they will perad∣venture deny that kinde of Leprosie to be the hand of God: Let us speak of the Pox, whether it be the French, or the Spanish, I would to God it were not also the English, That it is a punishment sent of God for Whoredom, which in these times is accounted as a sportive recreation; I think there is no man which dareth to deny that it is indeed the hand, sword, or arrow of God, which striketh Whoremongers. But is it not therefore infectious? And doth not a Whore even infect many with this disease, who again bewray one another? So that this most filthy Sickness is gotten, not onely with lying together, but also by breathing and handling, and is sucked out by in∣fants from their Nurses Breasts; and the Nurses get this Disease by giving suck unto the Infant, which is is either conceived by an unclean Father, or born of an unclean Mother: Thsoe Arguments also are therefore such, as do indeed need no confutation. Without all question it is absurd and against all reason to think, that there are immediately (as they say) rather sent unto every several man so many several Plagues, than the kinde it self of the Disease, by the which one corrupteth another by Infection: For whether God kill at one stroak, or whether, as it fell out unto the Midia∣nites, he strike them down by one wounding another, whomsoever he hath appointed to die, what difference is there? Neither concerning what we have in hand is there any difference, whether any man be slain with the Dart of God himself, or the Infection of another.
Let us now come unto that which they alledge concerning Second cau∣ses, which they deny to be any certain placing of the Stars, or corruption of the Aire: Neither will the Physicians have any Plague or Infection to grow of those Causes. But if we grant this, and imagine that all Natu∣ral causes of the Plague are by them rehearsed, they must tell me, Why they shut out all these at once, insomuch that they will have them to have but small skill in Scriptures, who impute the plague (next after God) to these Causes? Because, say they, that the Holy Scriptures bear Record, that the Plague is sent by Angels, as Psalm 88. 1. 1 Chron 21. Ezech. 9. also in the History of Zennacherib, and in the Revelation, where there is mention made of a most noysom Ulcer; for, say they, that which God sendeth by Angels is not of Natural causes. I grant that, so far as concern∣eth the Angels themselves, who I yield are not reckoned among Natural Page 7 instruments: But what hinders, God so commanding, the Natural causes themselves to be stirred up by the Angels? For surely it cannot be doubt∣ed that they, borh the good and the bad, do stir up the minde of man after a certain sort, what kinde of moving soever it be, when as Satan is said to have entred into the heart of Judas, (unless we shall peradventure say, that the Good Angels have somewhat less power than the Bad) and that also is manifest by the Story of Achab, and by the efficacy and power of the Spirits of Errour. And who can deny that the will of man is to be reckoned amongst the very Chiefest causes of Mens actions? But if the will of Man be not debarred from the Ministery of Angels, why shall we think that other Natural causes must needs by the same be taken away? Moses stretch∣ing forth his Rod, raised up Lice, and innumerable sorts of Flyes, brought out upon the suddain fearful Hayl, and struck the Aegyptians with most noysom Boyles and Botches. And this Ministry of Moses was doubtless altogether as extraordinary, as the Ministry of Angels. But did not there∣fore the Lice and Flies come of Rottenness, the Hayl of Vapours growing together on the sudden by restraint of the contrary, and the Boyles and Botches also of corruptions of the Humors? Satan receiving a Grant from God, by a suddain raising of the Winde, and by throwing abroad the Fire from Heaven overthrew, and burnt the House of Job, together with all his Children. But doth it therefore follow that this came to pass with∣out any Natural causes stepping in between? Or shall we not rather say, that those Princes of the Air (as the Apostle, not without cause, calleth them) made in a moment, those indeed natural impressions of the Air? The De∣vil sendeth the Godly to Prison, Revel. 2. 10. But by Tyrants and Per∣secutors of the Church. In the same Book, cap. 6. vers. 8. The pale Horse on whom Death the Rider sitteth, receiveth power to kill with the Sword, Famine, and Pestilence, and sending of wilde Beasts: Here, if we shall by that Rider understand an Angel, why shall we not aswell say, that he used Natural matter to cause the Plague and Famine, as a Sword and Wilde beasts, when themselves are also natural instruments? and after∣terwards, cap. 9. v. 1. The Angels are commanded to stand in the four quarters of the Earth, and to keep back the Windes, that they hurt not the Sea and the Land with blowing. Whereof followeth, that at the Commandment of God, the Windes are in like manner sent forth by them; from the which doubtless it is manifest, that many Infections of the Air, and chiefly infection, doth proceed. So that Natural causes, whether they be moved by little and little of their own force planted in them by Nature, or otherwise beyond Order, God so commanding, they be in a moment carried to their effects, they are natural, and so far forth are their effects also worthily judged natural, which no man of reason can deny. For if there come in no Natural causes in the Plague, those whom Page 8 the Plague hath touched, doubtless they cannot be at all eased, much less be healed by Natural remedies. And to prove this to be most false, expe∣rience and very sense doth demonstrate; yet I profess my self to be one of those which doe so far detest the superstitious judicious Astrology, of Ca∣sters of Nativities, and all other such like predictions, that I could wish the old Statures of Princes concerning those things were renewed, and streightly to be observed. But to take from the divers concourses of the Stars, the natural Constitutions of the Air, and such effects as de∣pend thereupon in our Bodies; as if the Stars were onely placed in their Spheres to be looked upon, or for difference of times, I think to be no sign of Judgement, but rather of a perverse Stubbornness, when as the Husbandmen have a daily knowledge of this, and the Tempests do speak the same; and that the thing it self doth prove, that the temperature and distemperature, and even Infection it self in some measure may before told by skilfull Astrologers. But now should we grant, that those Plagues, the example whereof are taken out of holy Scripture, were sent by An∣gels, and therefore to have been without Infection; why should it be less absurd and against Reason to conjecture and resolve, that no Plague is sent by Angels, than to hold that no Hayl, no Showres, no Lightning is made by the course of Nature? because that in many places of the Scrip∣tures we read, that by the ministry of Angels it hath both hayled, and that most rough and blustring windes have blown, and that it hath horri∣bly thundred. But, say they, those examples of the Plague by Angels are set forth unto us for example, that thereby we may learn rightly to judge of Middle causes, and of the Original of the Plague.
Verily who will deny, that what things soever are written, are there∣fore written that by them we should be instructed, and that all things which are mentioned in the holy Scriptures, of the ministry of Angels not onely of the Plague, but also of Famine and other Calamities, both to destroy the wicked, and also to correct and exercise the good, doth bring unto us great profit, that we may learn both to fear and love God, who is not tyed unto the laws of Nature, as the Sto•ck Philosophers have thought and hath certain instruments of his Judgements more fearful even that those which are perceived by our senses. But hereby is not concluded that which thou wouldst have, namely, That thus we are taught, that there are no Natural causes used by Angels in the performance of the Commandments of God. The Scripture affordeth us examples of Plague sent upon men, making no mention of Angels; and those agains• whom I dispute, do grant, that it was the Plague of which Ezekias wa• sick, yet is he not said to have been stricken by Angels. God doth ofte• by Moses and other Prophets threaten the Plague unto Sinners neither 〈◊〉 there any doubt but that these threatnings were not in vain; yet doth he 〈◊〉Page 9 where recite that he will alwayes send them by Angels. The Psalmist seemeth in certain Psalmes to shew that he was taken with the Plague, whom notwithstanding we never read to have smitten with any sore, or wound given by the Angels. All these things therefore, unless I be very much deceived, make nothing at all to the taking away of the contagious air, the Second cause of this Sickness.
But this also which they set down, upon what reason I know not how grounded: They say, that the Plague is sent unto men by the singular and especial providence of God; and what is here which may not be affirmed of every thing which cometh to passe in the world? for, as he saith, not so much as a Sparrow falleth to the earth without the providence of God, and the hairs of our head are numbred; which providence, if it be stretched unto singular things, doubtless it is in such sort universal in the general, that it is also singular in the singular. They say moreover, that so often as the Plague reigneth in the World, that all those are kept from this Infection whom God hath appointed to preserve alive; and that unto the others all places are infectious, though they be never so far from those which are sick of the Plague. And they adde further and say, why then do we fear Infection? is it not a fond thing to sear that which is not? I for my part cannot d•scern how these things can hang together; for how can all places be infectious to any man, if there be no Infection? unless peradventure they out it to be the Case. But it cannot by any means be truly gathered by certainty of Gods providence that the Plague is not infectious; there∣fore this Argument runneth beyond the Question propounded.
Besides, shall we think that the number of those which shall dye, is more certain as often as God sendeth the Plague, than when he casteth other Darts? Now if they offend not against the providence of God, (who lea∣ving, as it is meet, things unknown unto us, to the good will and plea∣sure of himself) who do use remedies of Physick both preservative and sa∣native, to keep away Sickness, and also to heal when it cometh; why shall we do the like also in the heat of the Plague? As therefore God hath appointed some which shall not die of the Plague, so also hath he appointed Remedies, by which, so far as in them lieth, men may avoid the Plague. And it is one and the same providence of God in all kind of diseases with which he hath ordained by an unchangeable Decree what shall come to pass, al¦though the natures of the diseases differ never so much in themselves. Now among the chief remedies and provisions in Physick against Infection, tha going aside in due season is worthily reckoned, the very nature and signifi¦cation of the word Contagion doth declare: although neither all be save which fly, neither all die which tarry. God without all doubt when h〈◊〉 sent a Famine into Aegypt and the Regions thereabouts, had determine〈◊〉 who should die in that scarcity; yet for all this Joseph ceaseth not with 〈◊〉Page [unnumbered] best diligence and most wise counsel to provide for the Aegyptians: The which things the Churches in the time of Claudius the Emperour also did, when as they understood by Agabus the Prophet that a Famine should shortly come. The Lord also knew who should dye in that most cruel war of the Assyrians in the dayes of Ezekias, and yet both Ezekias and the Prophet Esay himself secure themselves within the walls of the City: what should I say more? when as Paul knew assuredly, that neither he him∣self, neither any of those which were with him should perish in the ship∣wrack, yet said he to the Mariners who were preparing to fly out of the ship, Ye cannot be saved unless these tarry. Christ also, though he well knew that his hour was not yet come, yet did he more than once with∣draw himself when the Jews sought to kill him.
Finally, that which they take for most certain, namely, that happening or chance is repugnant unto the sure and stedfast Decree of God; which not∣withstanding it maketh not much to the matter, yet who will grant it them? we call those happening or chancing Causes, which of their own nature may fall out unto either part; if any man should take them out of the nature of things, I know not whether he should have any man of a right Judgment to hold with him. They say out of St. Augustine, That the will of God is the necessity of things; I grant so far as pertaineth unto the end and effects of the Causes themselves: But as St. Augustine saith very well, It followeth not, that though all things which God hath decreed shall come to pass, must needs come to pass, that therefore they come to pass of necessary Causes; like as the Stoicks did falsely conclude, and the same may be proved by most certain and most plain examples: For do we not believe that Christ had indeed Man's bones; and therefore such as of their own nature might at any time have been broken; and yet indeed they could not be broken, for that it was otherwise decreed by God: There∣fore by hap and chance, concerning their own nature they were not bro∣ken; when as notwithstanding they were such as might have been broken, and yet by God's Decree they remained of necessity unbroken. Again, that Christ from the very time that he took upon him our Human nature was indued with a Mortal body, all Christians do confesse; therefore of his own nature he might have been slain by Herod, with the other little Children; but by God's Decree he could not: Therefore that he was not then slain, fell out by hap and chance, if you consider the nature of his Body, when as it might have chanced otherwise: But, by God's Decree, he could no more be slain by Herod, than the will of God could be chan∣ged. Christ when he was carried to be crucified, was then undoubtedly of such health, that he needed not at that time to have died; he died there∣fore by chance, if you do consider the cause of his Natural death; and yet be died of necessity, if you look to the unchangeable appointment of his Page 11 Father, because his hour was come: and withall he died willingly, be∣cause he laid down his Life for us. Thus far therefore is neither chance nor will repugnant unto the most certain Decree of God.
There remaineth one Argument taken from Experience, which in shew seemeth very strong, yet is it of no force to take away Infection, I mean to prove the Plague not to be infectious. If, say they, the Plague come of Natural causes, or of some certain Constellation, or of corrupt Air, then should all they doubtless be infected which dwell under the same Constella∣tion, or breath in the same corrupt Air; which is found to be false; for even reason it self doth prove the falshood of this Argument: For who is so unskilfull that knoweth not, that one and the same Cause doth not al∣ways operate alike, much less equally; nay, that the effects are divers, ac∣cording unto the diversity▪ of the matter it worketh upon? one and the self-same North-winde doth not equally annoy men with Cold; every man therefore seeth how weak this reason is. But let us grant, that in some place every man of himself is apt to receive the corrupt air, yet may many things happen why the same effect in all would not follow; as for example, one man taketh a Preservative medicine, another doth not; one forthwith useth a good medicine, another very late, or never. Lastly, that which is the principal point is to be considered; That Almighty God doth govern Natural causes and their effects, as it pleaseth him; So that hence it co∣meth to pass, that Infection toucheth not every one which is in danger of it, as it is written Psal. 91. 6. Neither yet is it deadly unto every one that it hath infected; like as Poyson also drunken is not, as it is written Mark 16. 18. Therefore this Argument also is not of force to prove there is no infection in the Plague, because that many which keep company with those that are sick of the Plague are not taken; and contrariwise, they that are absent are infected: As if the poyson of a Viper were not deadly, because that Paul being bitten of one felt no harm at all, Acts 28. 5. And thus far concerning Infection.
Now we must treat of going aside; for so I had rather call it, than flying; though I think it the part of a Wise-man to fly peril with reason. There are some therefore, which do without exception finde fault with going aside for the Plague, that they count it a very heynous offence, though they think that those which tarry ought not to use rashness. There are on the other side which hold that every man, so soon as the Plague co∣meth, ought to provide for himself, having no regard, or but very small of the fellowship and duties which Christian Charity doth command. Now I for my part do dissent from both these▪ and especially from the latter, as having most lawful causes: But ere I set down my own judge∣ment in this Controversie, let us hear these disputing the one against the Page 12 other. Thus therefore they which think it not lawful to fly, do first of all Philosophically dispute against those that hold it not lawfull to tarry at all, they alledge out of Plato his Gorgias, That it is foolishnesse to fear Death; and that he cannot seem to be a temperate person which flyeth Death, because it proceedeth of too much delight in life; nor yet to be a just man, for that he which in the time of the Plague provideth for him∣self by running away, doth yield neither to God nor Man his due. To these Reasons they set down others taken out of the holy Scriptures, as That they think not well of the providence of God, by whose unchangeable Decree the course of man's life is limitted: That they distrust God, and be∣lieve not his promise, I will be thy God, and the God of thy Seed: That they are void of all Charity, nay, and more, of all Natural pitty and affe∣ction: That they tempt God after the example of the Israelites, Exod. 17. 3. & Psal. 78. 18. appointing God by what manner, time, and place, and by what means he may save them: That they love not God from their hearts; for being enamoured and in love with Earthly goods, they neglect and are careless of the heavenly: That they fear death too much, for that they set themselves against the will of God, which is always good: That they think themselves stronger than God, and that they can escape his hand: That they do openly break the law of Christ, and of Nature; by which they are commanded to do unto others as they would be done unto themselves: That they do, and teach that which no Christian hath done, but that which hath often been done by the Heathens. And thus much say the first: unto whom these later have nothing to answer, who under pretence of saving their lives, perswade flying away without excepti∣on. Wherefore if these things alledged against those which do in such sort fly the Plague, so that they in any thing swerve from the Rules and Laws of Godlinesse and Charity; I hold with their Adversaries, and count them worthy of all blame, which fly from thence whither they should rather run, if they had but the least spark of humanity. But if these Reasons be wrested against those, who being moved with just causes go aside, and keep that mean by which they let passe no part of their duty either towards God or their Neighbours, (which we say may oftentimes be done,) we affirm, that all these Arguments, in shew never so plausible and strong, to be of no force or value, if the matter it self be diligently weighed* and considered. For answer to their first Reason, albeit the Decree of God be unchangeable, and that his eternal providence hath set the unremovable bounds of our lives; Yet doth not this take away the ordinary and lawful means to save our Lives; no, not although a man have received an answer from God of prolonging his life, as we have shewed by the manifest example of Saint Paul, Acts 27. 14. Page 13 and 31. much lesse that we may not use these means, when it is yet hid from us, what God from everlasting hath decreed concerning the prolonging and ending of our life. Moreover, why should he be said to distrust the promises of God, who doth follow the wayes appointed by God, to avoid Evils, that notwithstanding he dependeth wholly upon God; unlesse peradventure we can any where finde in the holy Scriptures this Commandment expresly written, When the Plague rageth, flye not away. And amongst them, preservative Remedies are to be reckoned; and amongst these, going aside in due time; the like also, as the very name of Conta∣gion doth manifest. And this also is plain, That he doth not onely not offend against Christian Charity, neither yet tempt God, who in such manner by going aside doth avoid the Plague, so that in the mean time he let passe no act of Piety towards God, or of Charity towards his Neighbour; That on the contrary, unlesse he perform these Duties, he may be thought to provoke the wrath of God against himself, and to be worse than an Infidel, as being one that rashly puts himself in danger of deadly Infection, without any care of himself, or his.
The fifth and sixth Allegation is not any whit truer, They love not God, say they; and, gaping after earthly things, they care not for hea∣venly; Because they which love God desire nothing more than to be with him, which falleth out unto us by death; but they on the contrary fear nothing more. Then truly he, who in loving hath onely his last end be∣fore another, for his own profit-sake to enjoy the thing he loveth, by what means soever it be, shall worthily be judged to love himself rather than his Friends. Therefore the self-same person which desireth to be loo∣sed and to be with Christ, wisheth also, for his Brethrens sake, to be se∣parated as a thing accursed, Acts 9. 3. Neither doth he deliver up his Life into the hands of them that lay in wait for him, appealing unto Caesar, Acts 25. 11. and giveth thanks for his health restored unto him, 2 Cor. 1. 11. That David also doth not so much flye Saul and Absalon, as Death, being notwithstanding a Worshipper of God; That he and Ezekias do expresly pray against Death; therefore whosoever flyeth Death is not rashly to be judged or censured not to love God: as contrariwise, whosoever desireth Death is not to be thought to love God; but he onely, who lawfully and with a good Conscience, obeying the will of God, prepareth himself either to suffer or avoid death. The like also is to be judged of the fear of Death, that is, if it be grounded upon good reason and moderately, it is not one∣ly not to be condemned, but also to be allowed as a Preserver of life graft∣ed in us by God; Therefore that fear of Evil is condemned by Philoso∣phers, which is contrary to Fortitude, and calleth us from that which every one of us oweth unto each other, and out of holy Scripture, that Fear which is against Faith and Charity: For it is one thing to take clean away Natu∣ral Page [unnumbered] affections, (which no man could ever possibly do) and another to moderate and rule them; the which the Philosophers very well teach ought to be done, but how it may bedone, the Word of God, by the Holy Ghost, doth onely declare. And concerning those things which they cite out of Tertullian, they shoot partly beyond his Mark, when as he speaketh of fly∣ing onely in Persecution, and partly with the great consent of the Church▪ are reckoned amongst his blemishes, as one that in this Argument was car∣ried beyond the Butt. No man questionless that is godly, and of right un∣derstanding, ever condemned the going aside of Jacob; no man ever con∣demned David flying the fury of Saul, and conspiracy of Absolon; nor Elias avoiding by his flight the rage of Jezabel; no man ever condemned the going aside of Athanasius more than once: neither do we here fly ei∣ther unto the Agonie of Christ, or unto that of Matthew 10. 23. If they persecute you in one City, fly unto another: which places I confesse are of some not fitly alledged; for as touching the fears of Christ, they are ground∣ed upon a peculiar consideration, and are not to be drawn into example; when as there is handled of the mysterie of our Salvation, the parts where∣of Christ alone both could and did take upon him, in the which he did see that fearful wrath of his Father, and indeed felt it, bearing the Punishment due unto our Sins: we contrariwise are not at our Deaths tryed with the same fears, because we have the Father appeased with us, and, through Faith, behold Life in Death it self. And that saying of Christ is doubtlesse no Command of flying away; but on the contrary, admonisheth faithful Pa∣stors, that being feared with no threatnings, if they be driven out of one place, they hasten unto another; the which afterwards we see diligently to have been done by the Apostles.
But let us hear something else of more weight peradventure; There can be nothing sent of God (say they) but that which is good; nay; there is nothing Good, but that which cometh of God: But the Plague is sent of God, therefore it is good; if not of its own nature, yet in respect of the good end; namely, to punish our Sins, to try our Faith, to drive us to Repentance, and to bring forth Hypocrites to light. Who therefore (say they) can deny, but that They fly the thing that is good, which fly the Plague, by the which God bringeth all these things to passe? Again, that which God sendeth upon all, that is to say, upon any one Church or King∣dom; as for example, the Plague, the same he will have born of all; how is it to be fled from? Therefore they set themselves against the will of God, which fly the Plague; nay, they fly in vain, because it is in vain to strive against the will of God; but what could have been more vainly said than these things; For to let passe the falshood that lieth in these words, Good and Evil, in this Argument, to what end I pray you should they enter into this disputation concerning the nature of things? There is no Evil Page 15 (that is to say, no calamitie or punishment) in the City, which the Lord hath not done, saith the Prophet. Why therefore shall we call Famine, Pestilence, War, and such like, Good? Because, say they, they fall out unto the good of the Godly. I grant it, because the Lord fetcheth Light out of Darkness: Yea, but the Godly are instructed by Sinne it self. Are Sinnes I pray you therefore good, and doth he which resisteth them resist God? To be short, who seeth not, that to pray unto God against things which of their own nature are hurtful unto us, and withall to use just and lawful remedies to avoid them, if it may be; So that we commit the end to God, to be a far other thing than it is, or that we should hope to with∣stand God, or by any means to escape his Judgements? Abraham him∣self, Isaac and Jacob did fly Hunger, the which notwithstanding was sent of God; who yet cannot be said to have fled the thing that was good, or to have sinned: As for that which they so greatly stand upon, namely, That those which fly the Plague do break that immoveable Precept which Humanitie it self teacheth, Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye the same unto them; as it is worthily turned upon them which do in such sort fly the Plague, or any other danger, that then neglect the Du∣ties of a Christian: So doth it in no case make against them who shun the Plague by going aside, unlesse they may be judged to have neglected to perform those Duties which they owe both unto their Country and to their Neighbour. And truly, I do marvel that those who without exception do condemn going aside, as being of it self repugnant unto Charity, doe not consider, that Charity doth less require that we provide for the whole, than that we help those that are taken with that Sickness.
Finally, They say that as many as fly the Plague, do that which no Chri∣stian ever did, when as there is no example thereof in the holy Hi∣stories.
I answer, That this is too deceitful an Argument, when as it is appa∣rent that in the holy Scriptures is not fet down what every one hath done; and that in many the general Rules of Doctrine, there is sufficient to de∣termine those things whereof we have no Commandment, nor any parti∣cular Example; and that it is without doubt that it is not set down how often the People hath been visited with the Plague, neither yet how every man behaved himself in the Plague. But they say they have altogether contrarie counsel in the holy Scriptures; for that David doth call us back unto the Tabernacle of the Most Highest, Psal. 91. as though he fled not unto God, which lawfully useth going aside: But yet, say they, David did not fly that very sore Plague whereof mention is made, 2 Sam. 24. neither removed his Hcushold unto any other place. I grant this; but how many peculiar circumstances do forbid us to make of that a general Conclusion? for he himself was the cause of that Plague, and deservedly Page [unnumbered] so far forth troubled, that he is ready even with his own destruction to redeem the Publick calamitie; further, when as this Plague continued not above three daies at the most, what place was there left him to take advice or to fly unto? whither should he have fled, when the Plague was hot in all his Dominion, and yet is said not at all, or very little, to have touched the Chief Citie it self? Again, they say Esaias fled not from Ezekias being sick of the Plague: As if we held, that the Shepherds with a good Conscience, might willingly, and of their own accord, leave their Sheep; Yea, and what if I should take exception that Esaias came not to Ezekias but by the special command of God? for so doth the Histo∣rie bear Record. But, say they, Jeremiah also and Baruch, with other godly men, fled not out of the Citie being besiedged of the Chaldees, though a great part of the People died aswell of the Plague as of Famine; Neither do we say that we may worthily shun the Plague by going aside, if we depart from that which we owe unto God, our Country, and every of our Neighbours: But I cannot but wonder, that those which alledge this example of Jeremiah have forgotten that he was taken at the Gate of the Citie, when he assayed to get out, Jer. 37. 12.
Last of all, they bring a notable example of the Church of Alexan∣dria, out of the seventh Book of Eusebius, Cap. 20. as though we did allow the going aside either of all, or in all places, and times, or do not teach that such Constancy and Charitie ought both to be praysed, and al∣so followed, so that a General Rule be not made thereof; for Euse∣bius doth not say that every one, but that very many of the Christians did it.
Therefore to conclude these things, there hath been nothing yet al∣ledged whereby the Plague hath been proved either not to be infectious, or that going aside to avoid Infection is without exception to be condemn∣ed; for that going aside is one of the Chief among Natural remedies and provisions in Infectious diseases, Reason and Experience it self doth teach; For doubtlesse the word Contagion in it self doth aloud speak this▪ That those things which are less far off are more in danger of it; and it is daily to be seen, that by removing in due time unto more healthful places, ma∣ny have been preserved; which if any man will except against, should have been saved if they had tarried still at home, because God had so de∣creed: What then shall he say, who agreeth not also unto the other shun∣nings and remedies of all perils? Therefore we ought to laugh at, as need∣less, not only Physick, but also all prudence and wisedome, which is used in avoiding dangers of all sorts; neither should there be any difference be∣tween Rashness and Discretion, between Fortitude and Boldness. But the matter is far otherwise, because like as God by his everlasting and unchangeable Decree hath appointed the course of our Life, so hath he Page 17 also ordained Middle causes, which we should use to preserve our Lives withall.
It now remaineth that I shew you when it may be convenient to go a∣aside; for as in other indifferent things, so also may a man use going aside both well and ill: and so far am I from perswading the same to every man without exception, that on the contrary I confesse that they offend much lesse, who when they might otherwise, with a good Conscience, with∣draw themselves, had rather yet tarry; and to venture and endanger their Lives, rather than that they might seem to have forsaken their Neigh∣bour, or Family. I confesse, I say, that these offend much lesse than those, who being carried away with too much distrust, or with unmeasurable fear of death, forgetting and neglecting all duties of Humanitie, have this on∣ly before their eyes, Away quickly, a far off, long ere you return again. Men surely most worthy to be thrust out of all company of men, the bonds whereof they break all to pieces. Now what in this point may be observed, I think may this way be determined.
First of all I think it is to be proivded, That every man do summon himself unto the Judgement▪seat of God, unto the Plague as the coming of news of the wrath of God, condemning himself, that he may be acquit∣ted by him, and that withall he weigh with himself, that he is called to stand forth and plead his own Cause, and that this Rod cannot be avoided by change of place, but of manners; and that if he must die, that this is de∣creed for the good of them which die, forasmuch as they are blessed which die in the Lord.
Another Point is, That no man either Go aside, or tarry with a doubt∣ful Conscience: But when as he shall have learned out of the Word of God what his Dutie is; that commending himself unto God, he continue constantly therein.
And although that in so great varietie of Circumstances, Rules for eve∣ry singular thing cannot be set down; yet is it no hard matter to give cer∣tain General Precepts agreeable unto the Word of God, by the which, as by a certain Rule, singular Cases may afterwards (as they say) be tried; Let them therefore which think to tarry, know, that it is the Command∣ment of God, Thou shalt not Kill, and that therefore neither their own, nor the Lives of any belonging or depending on them, are rashly to be put in danger of deadly Infection. Let them on the other side, which think to Go away, know, that no man ought to have so great regard either of him∣self, or of his Family, that he forget what one oweth unto his Countrie, and Fellow Citizens. To be brief, what he oweth unto another, whe∣ther they be bound by the common bond of Humanitie and Societie, of by any other kinde of Friendship; for Love seeketh not the things which are her own: Wherefore, I confess, that I cannot see by what reason at all any Page 18 man is forbid to depart, which either by reason of Age, or of Sickness, past hope of Recovery, cannot help others; and if they tarry, they may therefore seem onely to be stayed, that they may die, to the great losse of the Common-wealth; for as their Crueltie can never enough be blamed, which thrust them out of their Cities, especially if they be of the poor•• sort; so both the pious natures of Parents in time providing for the pre∣servation and life of theirs, without prejudice or hurt to any man, seemeth unto me to be greatly commended; And also the providence of the Ma∣gistrates is much to be praysed, where their care shall be extended (with∣out dammage to the Common-welfare) to see that those weak ones, as seed-plots of Citizens, be well looked unto.
And here cometh in the way that General bond, wherewith Man is espe∣cially bound unto Man, and that without taking away of Humanitie it self, cannot be broken; There is also another Bond binding every Citizen un∣to his Country and Citie But both these Bonds I affirm to be natural and universal, that every one must have regard of his Estate, and Calling; for some serve in Publick Offices, either Civil, or the Ministry; the rest are Private persons; And the bonds of Private persons between themselves are manifold, the which Nature it self knitteth, and Christian Godliness bind∣eth; the which, unlesse they be discerned asunder, that every man may know what his Dutie is in all things, it must needs follow that Confusion shall bear the sway in all things, under a shew of Order; Therefore let Man help Man; Citizen Citizen, that needeth his help, according to his power, and let him not think of Going aside, by which it may justly appear like∣ly unto him to come to pass, that by this means some bodie shall be ill looked unto; much more that through contempt of any man, or of an overthwart fear of Death, he depart not any whit from the dutie of Huma∣nitie, but when as without the neglect of his Dutie and Publick offence, he may be careful both for himself, and his, by going aside. I see no cause why he may not onely not do it, but also why he is not bound to do it; yet, lest in this case, any man by flattering of himself, might sinne against his Neighbour, it is the dutie of a Christian Magistrate to provide, that those things which either breed or nourish the Plague, so far as they may, be ta∣ken away, and that regard may be had of those that be visited with this Sick∣ness, that A•l benot driven to be careful for All. But how they that serve in any Publick Civil Office may leave their Charge in the time of the Plague, I do not see; and for faithful Pastors to forsake but one poor Sheep at that time when he most of all needeth Heavenly comfort, it were too shame∣ful, nay too wicked a part. As touching Private persons, their bonds of F•iendship and Amitie are divers and manifold; among these, this is the Chiefest, unto which also Natural conjunction of Blood (as God witnes∣seth) must g•ve place, I mean the bond and tye of Wedlock; so that in my Page [unnumbered] judgement the Husband cannot with a good Conscience go 〈…〉 or the Wife from the Husband, especially if one of them be 〈…〉 the Plague: And how much Parents do owe unto their Children, and Children to their Parents, Kinsmen to Kinsmen, the verie Laws of Na∣ture declares, the which Christian Charitie is so far off from letting loose, that contrariwise it draweth them more and harder together: Yea, and for Servants to forsake their Masters, or Masters to look slenderly to their Servants being sick (which cometh too often to pass) who have made use of their Service when they were well, is Crueltie. Yet is not the bond of all these friendships alike or equal, and therefore that which is not so near must give place to the nearer, forasmuch as many cannot be discharged at once.
Furthermore, as there is place also for forsaking amongst those which are present, unless they which tarry do their dutie; so heed is to be taken both of those that are sick, that they abuse not the love of their Kindred and Friends, whilst they are desirous to have themselves provided for: and also of those which continue in doing their duties, that they cast not them∣selves rashly into the danger of Infection, which is used to be done by some of desperate boldness, rather than of true and Christian judge∣ment, who being wont to contemn those that are sick of other dis∣eases, doe visit those that are taken with the Plague, that they may seem to despise Death. And this conrempt of God's judgements, I should less bear withall, than with the too much weakness of the fearful. But how others are affected and disposed in the craving of the presence of their Friends I know not, when as my self being visited with the Plague, and that divers of my Friends offered unto me all kinde of Courtesie, I suffered none to come unto me, lest I might have been thought to have provided for my self with the loss of my Friends. But if in such Calamities the Ma∣gistrate do not in time provide, as much as may be, both by such lawful means as are not repugnant unto Christian Charitie, that the Infection may be prevented, and also that the sick of the Plague want nothing; he shall doubtless do very well both for the sick & the whole, and shall take away ma∣ny Questions which in this Argument are wont to be raised: but this especi∣ally must be agreed upon, that as our Sinnes are the chief and true cause of the Plague, so that this is the onely proper remedie against the same; if the Ministers dispute not of the Infection (which belongeth to Physicians) but by their Life and Doctrine stir up the People to earnest Repentance, and Love, and Charitie one towards another.