A SERMON Preached before The Honourable House OF COMMONS At the Publike Fast, September 27. 1643.
MARK. 1. vers. 2, 3.
I Will not begin my Sermon, as commonly Prin∣ters doe their Books with some flourish or gaudy pictures on the first leafe, but fall immediately upon that speciall matter which is contained in my Text, & that cannot be handled rightly, unlesse I take in the former words, The beginning of the Gospel of Iesus Christ the Sonne of God: for in the whole contexture of these words, you have a proposition to be con∣firmed, and the argument confirming it: I call it a proposition, and Page 2 not a Title or preface, such as that is, the Revelation of Iohn, and in doing thus I borrow gold of the Egyptian, (I mean) fetch my interpretation from a Popish Commentator, who had much lear∣ning, and more malice; and that this is more probable, consider the use of the word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Gospel, which signifieth in the Scrip∣ture * sometimes any joyfull matter that is published, sometimes in particular, the Doctrine of Christ; and lastly, for the preaching of this, which is the frequent use of the Word; and as for the sense of taking 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, for the Booke and History of Christ, that is not a Bible-sense, but an Ecclesiasticall; even as Evangelist in the Scrip∣ture doth not signifie one that made the History of Christ, as wee call the soure Evangelists; but one, who accompanied the Apostles in preaching the Gospel: so that Gospel is here as much as preaching; and when it followeth, the Gospel of Iesus Christ, Iesus Christ is not the matter, but the author, so that the sense is, The beginning of Christs preaching was as it was foretold by the Prophets. This be∣ing explained, you have first the manner of proving, which is by te∣stimony, and although that be the weakest argument in humane things, yet it is the strongest in divine; and secondly, there is the matter or proofe it selfe: and in the clearing of all this, we might enter into two disputes; 1. In vindicating the Author from perver∣ting the meaning and scope of Esay, as the Iewes would perswade us; 2. In answering the doubts about the diverse readings, whether it should be the Prophets, or in Esay onely, which Beza contends for as the true reading, and this is made so great a difficulty by Ierome, that he saith he will crave pardon for his ignorance, as if the knot could not be untyed; but should I handle these at large, you would say I gave a stone or serpent of controversies, when you askt for the bread of nourishment; this therefore take briefly for the explanation: the words in the Text you shall find in Esay 40. 3. (for those of Malachi tend to the same purpose) and are not to be un∣stood onely literally, as the Iewes would have it, of an exhortation to the people of Israel to make ready and prepare for their returne from captivity; nor as others onely as a prophesie of John Baptist, and our Redemption purchased by Christ, for whose entertainment we are to prepare, but we think it literally true of the Iewes, and the voyce enying in the wildernesse to be all those severall Prophets, that proclaimed their return; and also typically true of Christ and Page 3Iohn Baptist in his time, and consequentially to be applyed to any time when Christ is comming graciously to deliver us from any such captivity.
So that from the manner of proving, and the matter or proofe it selfe we will gather two Doctrines seasonable for these times.
Doct. 1. That Gods Word is the onely rule and principle in matters of Religion and Reformation: It holds à majori ad minus, if the Prophets that were acted infallibly would yet confirme their matter delivered by Scripture, how much ra∣ther others?
2. From the matter or argument, and in that, the duty pressed.
Doct. 2. That it is a speciall duty upon all, to remove all impediments, and to make way for Christ when he is comming to us.
We will begin with the first.
Doct. The Word of God is the onely rule and principle in matters of Religion or Reformation.
It hath the properties of a Rule, which are these:
1. It is known and easie. Psal. 19. 78. It is compared to a light, and a Lanthorn to our feet; Nor will that evasion of the Papists serve their turnes, that it is lumen or light in it selfe, but not quoad nos (as if the Scripture were a light under the bushell; God should then doe that, which our Saviour saith no man doth,) for that the Scrip∣ture is light effective as well as formaliter, appeares by the addition, giving understanding to the simple. Besides, to be a light in it selfe, but not quoad nos, is a kind of contradiction, seeing the light it hath is for us. It is true indeed, there is a two-fold obscurity, one of matter, which sometimes is so excellent and perfect, that our under∣standings cannot reach it, and so in this sense it is said, the naturall man perceiveth not the things of God:〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, a naturall man, one that doth excolere animam, such as Aristotle and Tully; but this blame is to be cast upon our understanding, not the Scripture, for as we say, Sol est maxime visibilis, & Deus est maxime intelligibilis, the Sunne is most visible, and God most easie to be known, because the one hath the greatest motive of seeing which is light; and the other of being understood, which is verity; so are these truths most full Page 4 of light, if our understandings were opened. The second obscurity is of the phrase, and that the Scripture useth not in things essentiall to salvation, and commonly what is obscurely set down in one place is cleare in another; and shall not the Spirit of God which giveth a cleare understanding and expressions unto men be cleare? See the Papists folly, they hold it possible to fulfill the Law, but not to un∣derstand it; for when we urge that place, Deut. 30. 12. The Word is not hidden from thee, and it is very nigh thee; Oh, say they, this is to be understood of the fulfilling of the Law, not the knowing it; wee conclude then, the holy Scriptures are the holy Ladders, whereby we climbe up into heaven, and know Gods meaning.
2. It is infallible and certain. The infallibility of it is witnessed by those places where Gods Word is compared to Gold seven times refined, and where it is said, Heaven and earth shall sooner passe away, then one jot or tittle, (a). And so thy testimonies are sure; By all * this it appeareth, that the Word of God is a fixed Canon, it can∣not be wrested and wyer-drawn, so as to approve one thing to day, and the contrary to morrow: It is hellish blasphemy to compare it to a nose of Wax; and to say that it is to be interpreted secundum currentem statum Ecclesiae, as the condition of the Church altereth, so must the Scripture alter; thereby they confirme that of Tertullian, Deus non erit Deus nisi homini placuerit, God shall not be God un∣lesse man please. If you say, that the Apostle Peter speakes of some who did wrest the Scripture, and put it upon the wrack; This is to be granted concerning the words, not the sence, and matter of the Holy Ghost intended by those words: That is invariable and can∣not be a Reed shaken with every wind of interpretation, and be∣cause Heretiques would flye to the words, denying the sence, there∣fore hath the Church of God been constrained to use new words to distinguish them by. Irenaeus doth well compare Heretiques to the Beast Hyaena, that imitates the Shepheards voyce, and so by that meanes seduceth the Sheep into destruction. Now this infallibility of the Word is so great that when some, as Saul and Uzzah, have gone against it, as if their speciall considerations might give them a protection, which were indeed faire and plausible, yet they were se∣verely punished by God.
3. It is universall in regard of time, place, and persons, so that he is the true and good Catholike that keeps to this Catholike rule. The Word Page 5 was ever a rule; to declare unto the Church any thing besides that we have received, nunquam licet, nunquam licuit, nunquā licebit, Vinc. Lyr. Hence in the Old Testament, Esay 8. 20. To the Law and to the Testimony; if they speake not according to this, it is because there is no light in them: Hence also the good Kings Hezekiah and Io∣siah were guided by this pillar of fire when they set upon Reforma∣tion. It was a rule in the New Testament, therefore our Saviour often, Luk. 10. 26. Psal. 11. 17. How readest thou? and how is it written? Paul when he would reform the abuses crept in the Church of Corinth about the Sacrament, goeth to the first institution, and as it was delivered from Christ; And if wee consult with the Fa∣thers, we shall finde that this Scripture was the brook, out of which they gathered those stones which they slung in the forehead of those Goliahs that oppressed the truth; There was never any errour, but it went up and down, like Cain, from one place to another, fearing lest every place of Scripture that met it, would kill it. Then it is universall for all places, as the Sun in the firmament is light for the whole world, not for this Kingdome only, or that, but it is for Na∣tions; so is Gods Word a rule to England, to Scotland, to Rome, to all where it is promulged. Lastly, it is universall to all persons, for as the Psalmist saith of the Sunne, there is nothing hid from the heat thereof; so no person or persons are exempted from the Obliga∣tion of the Word; there is none too great to have his faith and life controlled by it: Hence it is able to make the man of God wise to sal∣vation, 1 Tim. 3. 17. And not onely a Minister, but an whole Councell; yea, this is a rule that binds Kings and Parliaments. We must all stoop to his Word.
4. It is Indivisible: When we say a rule is indivisible the mea∣ning is, that nothing may be added to it, or detracted from it, and this the Scripture in the close of all, Rev. 22. challengeth to it self; how great a breach of this truth hath been made when the Apocry∣phall Book, and many other traditions and Ceremonies have been equallized to Scripture, and made as necessary as that? Nay, is there not such folly in people, that they are as willing to be with∣out Gods Word as mans inventions? It is a necessary truth, which all Magistrates, all Ministers, all people should beleeve, that Gods Word is perfect; There is enough in it as a rule to direct and worke holinesse in us; How wretched then are the Papists, that will have Page 6 Images, the Lay mans Bible, as if Gods Word were not e∣nough; and see their perverse disputings, they will not have the Scripture read in the known tongue, lest people through mistake, make errours, whereas Images are suffered by them, though they doe naturally teach idolatry. When therefore these traditions and ceremonies climbe up, like Reuben, into their Fathers bed, let them lose all their glory. The Word of God is Heb. 9. 15. & alibi, called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, a Testament; now you know to a mans Will nothing may be added, nor any thing detracted: And this you will alwayes find to be true, all subversion of true faith, and pure worship, flow∣eth from this, either because something of Scripture is neglected, or something that is not Scripture, is introduced.
5. It is adequately proportionable unto our faith: The rule and the thing regulated must be fitted one to another, Faith and the Word of God must runne parallel; all that is written must be be∣leeved, and all that is beleeved must be written; and oh that the Church of God had in all ages kept to the Scripture as Ruth to Na∣omi, where the one liveth the other would, where the one dyeth the other will. Non credo quia non lego, I doe not beleeve it because I do not read it, was a known speech in Antiquity; Thou art to say, Hitherto thou shalt goe O my Faith, and no further; hitherto thou shalt goe O my worship, and no further; Hoc primum credimus cum credimus, quod nihil ultra credere debemus, this we first beleeve when we doe beleeve, that we ought to beleeve nothing beyond Scrip∣ture; and this also is to be extended unto your practise and con∣versation; As you are to take no other Religion then what the Scripture allowes, so neither to live any other life then what the Word commands; come therefore thou who livest a prophane and wretched life, let us expostulate with thee, thou art no Papist, thou wilt not hold transubstantiation, why? because it cannot be proved true by Scripture; And can thy profanenesse, thy lusts, thy oathes, be proved lawfull by Scripture; Doth not the same Scripture that bids thee beleeve thus, bid thee also live thus? Is not Gods Word against profanenesse as well as popery? If this were attended to, men would have holy lives as well as sound judgements.
6. And lastly, a rule must be first, and before the thing to be re∣gulated; a rule is a measure, and therfore must be first in its kind; To question whether the Church should be before the Scripture, is Page 7 to question whether man be before God: 'Tis true, Divines doe well observe, that the Scripture may be considered, either quoad formale externum, in respect of the outward forme, as it is a wri∣ting; or quoad formale internum, in respect of the inward sonne and sense of it, as it is the Word of God: Now in the latter sense, Gods Word was alwayes before a Church, because by the Word we are begotten againe, and so made the Church: Hence it is that Gods Word is more ancient then Churches and Fathers, and this is the antiquity we should set up. It is true, the Church in regard of her Ministery, and leading us to beleeve, is before the Scripture, but we never put forth a Divine holy Faith till the Spirit of God worke our assent to his Word, because it is his Word; so that to stay in the authority of the Church, is to stay in Iohn Baptist, that did beare witnesse of Christ, and not goe to Christ himselfe. Seeing therefore the Word of God is most ancient, why should men presse us in faith or worship, to go and see what was done 5. or 600. or a thousand yeares agoe, and not rather goe to the Scripture which was before this? But as the Owle and Thiefe cannot endure the light, so neither can errour or superstition the Word of God.
Now take these Cautions,
First, the Word of God is the onely rule. In Popery they share with God in every thing; to grace they joyne freewill to Christs merits their owne, to God, Angels and Saints, to the Scriptures their traditions, and Church authority; and this is urged so precisely that if the Church doe determine an errour to be a truth, yet they are bound to beleeve it yea, that they doe mereri credendo, merit by beleeving it; even as it was among the Sadduces and Rabbins, if their Elders said the right hand were the left, or the left the right, they must assent to it; If we would be content with this, that the Scrip∣ture were an halfe rule all would be well, but as God is a perfect God, so is his Word a perfect Word, we must have no other Gods besides him, so also no other Scripture or Word beside this. Doe not then in matters of Religion make this thy Compasre to saile by, What say others; and what is the custome; but, What saith Gods Word? Are not politique considerations a rule to many? is not custome a rule to many? Vae tibi flumen moris humani, quis tibi resistet? Woe to thee, ô thoutorrent of custome, who is able to resist thee? cryeth Austin. It is true if this be received, here will appeare much nicety, much singula∣rity, Page 8 here must be loud cries for a Reformation, which the world doth so much oppugne; The world is not able to beare this exhorta∣tion, Let the Word of God rule you, let the Word of God reforme you.
2. When we say its a rule, it must be extended to that end for which it is a rule; for as the Scripture is not a rule to Physicians or Mathematicians in their proper arts, so neither doth it particularly tend to this, or that individuall action for all essentials it is a rule, and a generall rule for circumstantials. Nor doth this detract from the perfection of the Scripture, that it doth not command every circum∣stance because then a thing is imperfect, when it wants some perfe∣ction that is due to it: It is not an imperfection in the body, that its not every where, because this is not requisite to the body, so neither is it to be expected from the Scripture, that all circumstantials must be by name commanded; Its true, the Church must take heed that under the name of circumstances she doth not bring in worship, which hath beene alwayes the subtilty of Satan. Thus Altar-worship, and Image-worship were made but circumstances in mens bookes by distinctions, but in their practise as much as Gods owne instituted worship. Be sure to give enough to the Scripture. Adoro plenitudi∣nem Scripturae, I adore the Scriptures fulnesse, saith Tert. As Bonaven∣ture said, if he were to er, he wuld rather er in giving to much to grace, then to free-will; so do you, in giving too much to the Scripture, rather then to little, though its best to go neither to the right hand, nor the left. 3. Though it be a rule, yet it does not exclude other mini∣steriall helpes, and here commeth the office of Pastours and Teachers in, as also of praying unto God, and diligent reading of Gods Word; Therefore its a vaine and absurd question of the Papists, Let a man be lockt up in a study, with a Bible, what good will he get by that, if he cannot reade? as if because we say its a rule, therefore other mini∣steriall helpes were not also necessary. The Pastors and Teachers have indeed a light, yet as God when he created the world, conveyed the whole light of the world into the body of the Sunne, so that though the Moone and Starres should give light, yet they should shine with no other light but what they received from the Sunne; So God in the constitution of the Church, conveyed the whole light of it into the Scripture, and the Offices of the Church are to shine with light from thence; The godly Pastours and Tea∣chers of the Church, they doe not make truths, though they may Page 9 declare them; As Solomon by his prudence did not make the childe, the true mothers child but declare it; and the skilfull Ieweller doth not make the Iewell, but doth distinguish it from the counter∣fait.
This rule doth extend, first, to matters of faith.
A sound faith is the soule of Religion, its like the Sunne in the fir∣mament, like the eye in the body; and commonly ubi male creditur, ibi nec bene vivitur, An ill faith and ill life goe together: Hence Hymeneus and Philetus, as they made shipwracke of their faith, so they did also of a good conscience, 1 Tim. 2. 17. There is no buil∣ding of any confessions of faith, but the materials must be fercht from this mountain. Errour and Heresie have no such enemy as the Scripture. The holy Fathers were scrupulous in using the word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and Trinity, and all because they were not Scripture words; Hence Heretiques are lucifuga Scripturarum, Owles that cannot in∣dure the light: therefore Lindan the Papist was not ashamed to say, That it had beene better for the Church if there had been no Scripture at all, but only Traditions. Now the Scripture being the ground, faith, though we be never so orthodox, yet if it be not because of Scripture, its but an humane faith. As men may have anhumane repentance (when their hearts are troubled) meerly upon humane considerations which is farre from godly sorrow: So he may have an humane faith, meerly because of education and humane custome, and all this comes farre short of divine faith.
Secondly, to worship and discipline. An orthodox Church with∣out good discipline and pure worship, is like a field of Come with∣out hedges. What a comely Church should we have, if Scripture Or∣ders were lookt too? In worship, all that is done without Gods Word, is doing we know not what, Iohn 4. 22. You worship you know not what. And by what ground they receive one voluntary worship, they might receive more. The Pope once resolved that he with his Cardinals should at a set time ride on Asses partly to shew their hu∣mility, and partly to imitate Christs riding on an Asse to Ierusalem; But the Cardinals refused it as too absurd, yet they might on the same ground have received that as a custome, as all their other rab∣ble of worship. So for discipline and order, a prophane man should be as rare in the Church, as a blazing starre, If any one be an Idolater, a reviler, no not to eat with such an one, 1 Cor. •. 11. And Page 10 againe, If any walke disorderly, withdraw from such an one. I know different judgements improve these places to different opinions, but I presse that which all agree in; I acknowledge that governours are more to be incouraged in this work, because the ignorance and pro∣phanenesse of people cannot indure to see a brazen serpent broken down. You worthy Patriots, you have indeavoured to bury Moses his Body, left it should be worshipped and how doth the Devill with∣stand you?
Thirdly, to our outward conversation, Psal. 19. By them thy ser∣vant is forewarned; The Scripture is the Antidote against sinne, Psal, 19. 9. A young man may cleanse his wayes by them: in the former a King, in the latter a young man. Where there are the grea∣test temptations, even there Gods Word will prevent. Now this use of the Scripture men doe not consider, they dare not have any other faith then the Scripture propounds, yet they date live another life, Verba Scripturae non sunt legenda, sed vivenda. As therefore you beleeve as it is written, so live and feare and joy as it is written: canst thou prove thy drunkernesse lawfull, more then thy heresie?
Fourthly, to the heart and conscience of man: and herein it differs from all other Rules and Lawes, they bind onely the outward man, but these reach to the heart and conscience, Rom. 7. The Law is spi∣rituall, it doth convince even a selfe-admiring Pharisee; when this Sunne-light shineth, it discovereth all the hidden thoughts of the heart all those moates, that otherwise would not be seene, so Heb. 4. 12. Its a two edged sword, &c. The eloquence and wit of men doth not awe and terrifie the conscience, but the Word of God doth, that makes the heart cry out, I am overcome, overcome. Its true God makes use of humane eloquence, Qui dedit Petrum piscatorem, dedit & Cyprianum Rhetorem; but all must be subordinate to the Word: As God is the Father ofspirits, so the Word is a word of spirits; If the word comfort, though all the world threaten, the heart beareth up it selfe, and so if that threatens, the heart is discou∣raged.
Use 1. Of exhortation, to set up this rule.
Let the Word of God dwell in you, sollow that in your reforma∣tions, as the Wisemen did the starre: you are carefull (as Ma∣gistrates) to keep Parliament priviledges; be as tender about Scrip∣ture Page 11 priviledges, this is your spirituall Magna Charta: Then will God set you up in the consciences of men, when they shall see that you are as seriously bent to keep Gods right as your own. Esay 8. 19. Should not a people enquire of their God? Every Nation seeks to their own god; The voluptuousman takes counsell from his belly, the ambitious from his great ones, the Papist from the Popes chaire; and shall not we from God? It was a complaint of an A∣nonymus in his Epistle to Calvin; (we hope through the blessing of God this Parliament will take it away) this man writing out of England to Calvin concerning the disorders in our Discipline and Church way, saith,
Now there are other rules set up by men.
1. Antiquity: This is the Gorgons head that all superstitious men hold up, thinking to silence all men immediately, whereas in∣deed they deale as the Gibeonites did, who came with their mouldy bread and old shooes which they had newly got, as if they had en∣joyed them a long while: so it is with most of their old traditions, and their mouldy inventions, which they obtrude upon us. But how many things are improved? are not your states, your revenues im∣proved? and shall not the light and gifts that God hath given be improved? Is it not Austins observation, that the Epistles of the Fa∣thers were mended by Provinciall Councels, and Provinciall by Page 12 Vniversall, and the first Vniversall by the latter: mark that, the first by the latter; so that what is said of old age naturall, may sometimes be true of ecclesiastique, ipsa senectus morbus. It was the observation of an acute wit, That time was like the River of waters, that bore up all the frothy and empty things, but all the ponderous things sunk and were seene no more.
2. Custome: This a rule more then all Scriptures to many; This we and our fathers have been used to doe; Now how vaine is this? for by the same reason Heathens and Pagans might plead for their Idolatry. Yea Symmachus did when he intreated the Empe∣rour not to bring in Christian Religion; Oh, saith he, sequendi sunt parentes, qui sequuti sunt feliciter suos, contumeliosa est emendatio se∣nectutis: our fathers lived quietly doing thus and thus, it is a re∣proachfull thing to be wiser then our fathers. And this is the great mountaine in the way of Reformation; Customes, though never so ridiculous, though never so dangerous, yet they will stand for. Austin tels us, that he came into a City where the people had a custome upon one day in a yeare to meet together, and to throw stones at one another, whereby many were killed, yet because it was a custome, he could not make them leave it.
3. Fathers: Thus the Papists were the fathers of this new Re∣ligion: now although it be true, that our learned Divines do prove all our orthodox positions out of them; yet withall we say, they are no rules of faith. Call no man Father, saith our Saviour, that is, so as to rely and rest upon his authority: And indeed there are none set forth the fulnesse of the Scripture more then they. It was the insolent speech of that proud Heretique Dioscorus,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, I am cast out with the fathers; so let any error, any will∣worship be cast out of the Church: then the cry is, this is cast out with the fathers; The Fathers works are uncertain, they contradict one another, yea themselves sometimes, and how then can they be rules?
4. The name of a Church: This is another rule to many; they will be of that faith which the Church they live in doth professe, and this hath been the Goliahs sword, none like that. It was Eras∣mus his speech, as Gerhard cites him, That the Church had so much authority over him, and he gave so much to it, that if she should conclude the Arian and Pelagian opinions to be the true faith, hee Page 13 would beleeve it. What? do you goe against the Church? where if you askt, what is the Church, it would have been found to have been nothing but the will and resolution of a proud Pope, for he is the Papists virtuall Church. It is true, the authority of a Church that is holy and true, ought to work much upon men; We, saith the Apostle, nor the Church of God have no such custome; and therefore that is commendable, Contra rationem nemo sobrius, contra Scripturam nemo Christianus, contra ecclesiam nemo pacisicus: but then still pro∣vided that the Church shines with the Scripture light. The autho∣rity of the right Church must not be a cypher, and yet must not be all things. To keep Church-government from tyranny, and Chri∣stian liberty from a Socinian 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, or doubting, is very hard.
5. Reason: And this hath been much extolled by a Socinian party a ate, but they confound the instrument and the rule together; rea∣son is the instrument applying, not the rule it selfe, and they are not reasons truths, but Scripture truths: As the Artificer, that beats out his golden metall into such and such forms, it is not the hammers Gold, but only it is formed by it; And as they argue against Scrip∣ture, that one interprets it thus, and another thus, so we may say of Reason, this is right reason to one, that is not to another; Tu haere∣ticus mihi, & ego tibi. Especially all reason severed from Gods Word is corrupt and carnall, a very ill Iudge in the worship of God and our conversation.
6. Universality: To doe as the most doe; this is a great rule; they never consider what the Scriptures direct to, but they will be∣leeve, and worship, and live as the most doe; now God hath ex∣presly forbidden this, Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evill; They are but few to whom Christ revealeth himselfe: The whole world lyeth in darknesse; And as that mould of the earth which turneth into stones is farre greater then that which becomes metall; and as the weeds are farre more then the flowers; so are sinners far more then those that doe truly worship God. This sect is every where spoken against, say they of Christs way; And you shall be hated of all men for my names sake; But as hell is not the more comfortable, be∣cause so many are there, so neither ought the paths thither to be the more pleasant, because there are so many companions, which lead to destruction.
7. Enthusiasme: That is, when men set up their private fancies Page 14 and spirits against the meaning of God in his Word. But because all the godly are traduced by following a private spirit, and because that place of Scripture is urged by some, No Scripture is of private inter∣pretation, it is good to consider the distinction I shall bring, grant that it be read 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, not 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, (which signifieth an impulse or comming upon us:) An interpretation may be said to be private either 1. in regard of the person, and so that is not forbidden, for it is lawfull for one private man to gain-say the whole world, if he have a true interpretation of Scripture; or 2. it is private ratione medii, when he takes a false medium, he doth not take the context, and the circumstances; and this private interpretation, which doth not pub∣likely appeare in the words, is forbidden: or 3. private is ratione finis, the end of a man, when though he take a right way and course, yet he hath some sinister end, and this also is forbidden: So then, a private spirit is then made a rule, when we take our own thoughts of the Scripture, and doe not found or establish our meaning upon the context. The Papists and Enthusiasts are contrary one to a∣nother; Thus Christ, as Tertullian saith, is alwayes crucified be∣tween two theeves, truth suffers between two contrary errours.
Now if we follow Scripture Rules, there will these consequents flow from it.
1. Such a man will be sure and constant in his way; for as the truth is yesterday, and to day, the same for ever; so also will the frame and temper of the man be the same for ever; whereas a man that doth not build upon Scripture, he hath a weekly and a monthly Faith: Hence are those phrases, Holdfast the words of Life, Tit. 1. 8. The godly men (saith Fox) were called the just, and hold-fast men, because they would not abate of the least tittle they held; It was a proverbe to expresse the difficulty of a thing, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, you may sooner unteach a man Christ: whereas men that have not built upon this foundation, they are like Theophilus Bishop of Alexandria, who was nick-named Euripus, because of his ebbing and flowing in matters of Religion; for a Bishopricke hee would sweare to the Nicene Councell, and then to keep it he would forsweare it againe.
2. He will be holy and spirituall in his conversation; for such as those rules are, such will he be: The Scriptures are called holy, not onely because the matter of them is holy, and the efficient Author of Page 15 them holy, but because the end and effect of them is to make us holy; They will not onely make orthodox in judgment, but right in affections and conversations also; Hence it is that there is as little holinesse in the lifes of the Papists, as there is sound faith in their judgements: and how can it be otherwise, seeing the Church of Rome hath dealt with the people of God, as if a man would commit a Ship into the Sea without Pilot, Compasse, or Sailes, and so venture it into the Ocean? And this Scripture holi∣nesse doth as farre surpasse that which people call piety, as the Sun doth the glow-worme.
3. This will bring peace and security to him, and to the Kingdome that receives it: As many as walk according to this rule, peace unto them, Gal. 6. 16. Ignorant and prophane people cry out, it is this crying for Scripture so much, that makes all this trouble; but see the contrary, 2 Chron. 5. 35. When there was no teaching Priest, nor the Law in Israel, then there was trouble to him that went in and went out: Again, 2 Chron. 17. 9. 10. when Iehoshaphat Reformed according to God, then all was quiet, and feare fell upon all the Nations round about. The bringing in of Gods Word, and a Scripture Reforma∣tion, is like the bringing in of the Ark to Obed Edoms house, it car∣ries much blessing with it.
4. This Scripture man will bee accounted nice and scrupulous. If you doe regard his conscience, which attends Gods Word only, it must needs be nice and scrupulous in the Worlds account, That as they wonder you runne not into the same excesse of riot with them, so also that you cannot use all such Worship and receive all such Tra∣ditions as they doe: A tender constitution feeles the least blast of wind, so also doth a tender heart; Look upon the carriage of our Sa∣viours not washing his hands, it was but a civill. thing, he knew how much the neglect of this would prejudice him, and yet he would not doe it. For as he will have a liberty of conscience where some are superstitiously fearefull; so againe hee will have an holy feare of conscience, where others are desperately bold; never then let Reformers startle at this, to bee thought more strict then needs.
5. He will be judged singular from others: This ariseth from the o∣ther, for seeing his conscience is so tender, thence also his life will be disagreeing to the most, as the Apostles rule, Rom. 13. 2. Not to fashion Page 16 our selves according to this world; and so Jam. 1. 27. pure Religion is to keep our selves unspotted from the world: it is true on the other side, if there be any irregularity, it is in the most men of the world that they conforme not unto the Word of God which is the rule, for the godly doe as they should doe; as in a pasture where a flock of sheep is, if all but two or three break the hedges and runne into the high-wayes, who are wanderers? the multitude? no, those two or three that abide in the pastures.
6. It will make him become hated and abhorred of all; You shall be hated of all men for my names sake: Hence the Papists, because we would have all decided by Scripture, they call us Scriptuarios, and atramentarios Theologos, Inky Divines; and to be a Bible bearing Puritan was matter of scoffe: How would the fire of Chrysostom have kindled against these wretches; who upon that place, Let the word of God dwell plentifully in you, Cor. 3. 16. cryeth out, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Hearken all you tradesmen, get Bibles; this undoeth you, that you think it belongs onely to some speciall men to read the Scripture: And how can it be but that the world must hate this, seeing there is such a contrariety between a Scripture life, and the life of carnall men? A Scripture conversation, and a Scripture reformation can be no more indured by the world then David by Saul, because the pulling down of one is the establishing of the other: Semper aliena virtus formidolosa est, one mans vertue makes him that wants it afraid.
But how may we get good by this rule?
1 Wee must be frequent in it: see that Col. 3. Let it dwell in you, you must know it, and bee as familiar with it as your own houses: and then plentifully, that is, both for the object and subject; the object, not this or that parcell of the Word of God, but the whole Scripture; and then for the subject, in all the parts of the soul, the understanding, the will, and the affections it must be like Aarons Oyle running down from the head to the feet; hence God would have the King himselfe to write his word with his own hand, that so he may bee acquainted with it, and rule accordingly, Dent. 17.
2 Pray for understanding: Only a spirituall understanding and an heavenly eye can discerne an excellency in the Scripture; it argued a prophane spirit in Politian, who said there was more in one of Pindars Odes, then all Davids Psalmes; But David prayeth Page 17that God would open his eyes, that hee might see the wonderfull things in Gods Law. All truth is sweet, but the Scripture truth above all; men may reade the Scripture, write Comments on it, and yet not have spirituall and savoury understanding of it: Nunquam Pauli mentem intelliges, nisi prius Pauli spiritum imbiberis, unlesse God give thee the heavenly spirit of Paul, thou wilt never un∣derstand the heavenly meaning of Paul.
3 Be humble and meek, submitting to the simplicity contained therein; The humble he will teach his way. It is a great matter to stoop to the Scripture; Austin complaineth of this, that literarum typho tumidus, swelling with pride of humane learning, hee did refuse the simplicity of Scriptures: Bradwardine speaking of him∣selfe, before he felt the power of grace upon his heart, saith that hee was much offended, when hee heard Paul read in the Church, be∣cause hee had not metaphysicum ingenium: Thus proud men sel∣dome ever come to know the truth, God hideth these things from the prudent and wise of the world.
4 Get love to Gods truth; And this is the reason of all An∣ti-christs errours, and beleeving such lies as they doe, because they receive not Gods Word in the love of it; They loathed this Manna, and therefore God makes a famine among them; and there is no more terrible prognostique of Gods delivering up a people to blindnesse and hardnesse, then their rejecting of the Word. Take we heed then how we reject God reforming, lest he sweare in his wrath, that we shall never be reformed; What is the great crying sinne of England this day? even an hatred of Gods truth, they love not the power and purity of it, but as the Gadarens had rather have their Swine then Christs presence, so these their brutish lusts rather then Gods truth; God removeth these meanes of grace when people are incurable, as when the Pati∣ent is dead, all the physick boxes and cups are taken away.
Now that the Word of God may be set up, these three things are necessary:
1 To incourage preaching; which is that great work so severely charged upon the ministers; Hezekiah spake comfortably to those that taught the good knowledge of God. There was a very noxious and de∣structive opinion, that reading was preaching; The question is not whether reading may not in some sense be called preaching, (taking Page 18 preaching for any declaration of Gods truth;) But whether it be mi∣nisteriall preaching whether whē the Apostle saith, he must divide Gods Word aright, he meaneth no more then to reade? whether when he saith, who is sufficient for these things, he meaneth, who is able to reade? when he saith. Give thy selfe to study, that thy profiting may appeare to all men, he meaneth that all men see thou readest better then thou didst.
2 Catechizing; This would doe good both to Minister and peo∣ple: the ministery in the first place; Memorable is that which Chemnitius relates of his Master Chytraeus, that when he read over divers Authors, and devoured many Volumes, he set himselfe to prove the Catechisticall points of Divinity by Scripture, and then he sound himselfe in a new world, he was not able to doe it. As for the Minister, so much more for the people. Who will give us to weep rivers of teares for the generall ignorance in all Parishes and Congregations? Bellarmine saith that faith may be defined better by ignorance then knowledge; This is true, that the faith of the common people (such as it is) may bee so defined: Help the the Church of God, O you Wotthies in this.
3. Incouraging learning, and the knowledge of the tongues; for howsover translations may be good, yet in regard of the emphasis of the Originall, we may say as the Queen of Sheba to Solomon, that which shee heard was nothing to the glory she saw. Then came in errour and superstition, when it was Heresie, or at least suspicion of it, to understand Greek and Hebrew. A Divine ought to bee that which was said of Nazianzene,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, an Ocean of Divinity.
Wee come now to the Testimony it selfe, Prepare yee the way of the Lord, &c. which doth containe the effect of Iohns Ministery, as also the duty of his hearers, who were fallen into a corrupt time, when the Philistims had filled up all the Wels the Pharisees & Scribes had corrupted the Word of God by false interpretations: The word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, he wil prepare, and〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, prepare yee, are taken from the custome of great Ones, who use to have way made for them; or as others, when great Commanders were to lead an Army, they sent some before, who were called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that did complanate and make levell the way; and the Hebrew Word is emphaticall, * which signifieth such a removall of all offensive things, that the Page 19 face may no longer behold them: and thence wee observe that,
It is the duty of a people to remove all difficulties and op∣positions * in the way, that so Christ may come and dwell with them: for so the Text carrieth it, either literally to take every thing away that may stop their speedy returne from Babylon, or typically, what should oppose the spirituall restauration of the Church, by the Messias; and so proportionably, whatsoever mountaine or valley may be in the way, where Christ is comming. As they threw gar∣ments in the way, and with much acclamation cryed, Hosanna, bles∣sed be he that commeth in the name of the Lord; so are we with all earnestnesse of affection, to cry, Blessed be that Reformation, which commeth in the name of the Lord; This also the Psalmist cryeth, Lift up your heads yee gates, that the King of glory may come in.*
We will first shew what are the impediments, the hills and val∣leyes, that hinder Christs comming to reigne in his Church.
1 A corrupt judgement, as if there were no necessity of prepara∣tion, of Reformation; That was Laodicea's case, shee thought her selfe full, and rich, therefore she is counselled to buy eyesalve, Rev. 3. 18. Thus the Church of Rome is in a desperate disease, because she thinks she cannot be sick, she cannot erre: Thus all Reformation is accounted needlesse, what need we any more doe? As he said, many had been learned, if they had not conceited they were so; so many Churches had beene more pure and reformed, if they had not thought themselves reformed enough and therefore as for a particu∣lar person, Paul [saith, I had not known sinne, had not the Law said, Thou shalt not lust; so also may a Church say, I had not known this to bee an abuse, this to bee errour, had not the Scripture manife∣sted it.
2 Attending to carnall policy: This makes men vary according to State consideration; there are many men that can place their consci∣ences, as Diogenes bragged he could doe his Tub, which wayes soever the wind blew, he could turne the mouth of his barrell from it. There are a certaine people spoken of in story, that worship no set God, but the first thing they met with, Hodie tu Iupiter esto, cras mihi trun∣cus eris, To day this shall be good Divinity, to morrow error to day this shall be a reformation, to morrow turbulencie. This carnall re∣spect is a loadstone to many, Fac me Episcopum Romanum, & ero Page 20 Christianus, make me Bishop of Rome and ile be a Christian: There be some who thought gaine godlinesse; how many children of Balaam are there who may be hired to curse the people of God?
3 A sinfull symbolizing moderation; How hard a matter is it, not to take a lame and halfe Reformation? Si dimidio Christo essemus contenti, facile transigremus omnia, all quarrels would soone end if we would take up with a halfe Christ, saith Calvin; Let the childe be divided, saith the false mother; Purge out the old leaven, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Chrysostome ponders that, hee doth not say 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, but 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, that is, throughly and fully; And Peter Martyr followeth this of Chysostome; In Reformation, these are our princi∣ples, ad multa connivendum est, leniter est agendum; sed alia est se∣veritas verbi Divini, We must wink at many things, and proceed gently, but the severity of Gods Word is another matter of thing. But you will say, Shall there be no moderation, must we all be like frogs that cannot goe, but leape? Yes, there is a lawfull moderati∣on, but here we condemne a sinfull symbolising one.
4 Love to earthly things: If you reade the Prophet Haggai, you will find that the care and love to build their own houses, made them neglect to build the Temple of God: Thus also the Pharisees to satisfie their covetousnesse, made corrupt interpretations of the Scripture; and what is all Popery, but the Daughter of ambition and covetousnesse? When men had rather lose their God then their wealth, part with their Religion then their riches; how can they promote the cause of God or make way for Christs comming? when men can delight more in the glory of their own houses then in the spirituall beauty of Ordinances; when they have more joy in their hearts, by the encreasing of wine and oyle, then in God and his wayes; it is no wonder if so few make way for Christ; it was Nazianzens excellent temper, to thank God he had any thing to lose for Christs sake.
5 A fifth impediment to reformation is prophanenesse and licence in wickednesse; This is that which troubles men so, They shall not be so merry in their lusts and their sinnes; but this should comfort you, Christ indured the contradiction of sinners, this comforted the Christians heretofore as Tertullian notes; Who are they that speak against us, but the Ale-houses and Brothel-houses? you may ask, What is the good we would doe, that the mouthes of the bad are so Page 21 open? Hence it is that men are patient under all Popish burthens, because these and their lusts may stand together, but when Christ comes, then they rage, crying. Let us break his bonds. It is a tor∣ment to wicked spirits, that they cannot be wicked, as they have been, Mat. 8. 29. Why art thou come to torment us before our time; what torment could that be to the Devill, to be cast our of the possessed bodies? yes great, because they could not vex and destroy as before: so a Reformation comes and torments proud Church-Governours, and why so? because they cannot oppresse and rage as they use to doe.
6. The generall opposing and disliking of it by people: This is a great stop in the way, What should some sew stirre for and against the current of mens desire? especially if many great, and many learned rise up against it; and this Luther confest was no little temptation to him, Túne solus sapis? totne errant universi? Art thou onely wise, are all others in an errour? But if this were to be regarded, then neither Prophets, nor Christ, nor Luther, nor Calvin, should have set upon any Reformation: for the world could not beare them. Alwayes Reformations have been judged impossible things; Abi in cellam, & dic, Miserere nostri, saith he to Luther, goe and pray in thy Cell, for thou art not likely to doe any thing by stirring; so Psal. 2. Why doe the people rage and take counsell together; that Christ may not be exalted on his Throne; But this will not excuse, better it is to endure the rage of people then the anger of God; better have the world frown on you, then God frown on you.
7. The seeming newnesse that is in it; For indeed, truth is be∣fore errour; it is for our sinnes that truth is new; It argueth our deep Apostasie and revolting, that the orders and wayes of Christ should be new: That prophane persons should lift up their heads so high among Christians, was not so from the beginning; 'tis a novell thing to be erroneous or superstitious, thy breaking of the Sabbath, thy neglect of piety, these are new things; and it is strange to consi∣der, how doting men are of the old wayes they have lived in, though never taken up at first upon any Scripture consideration: and see the corruptions of mens hearts, new fashions are admired, superstitious innovations were generally received, but truth and discipline that is seeming new, is rejected.
8. The divisions that seem to arise by it, and errours multiplying at such times; It is true, it were a happinesse if as in nature mon∣sters Page 22 are barren, (a monster cannot beget a monster) so also in spi∣rituall, a monstrous errour could not beget another; but there must be heresies. As the rending of the Temple was a signe of the aboli∣shing of that Church and State, so are rents and divisions in a Church. The Physitians make that Patient in a dangerous condition, whose distempers have an 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 in them, that while they labour to heale one disease, they hurt another way; but still you are to know a Reformation doth not make these, but find these: It is the tyranny of Church Officers, that make divisions in the Church, as we see by Pope Victor, who excommunicated the Easterne Churches about a trifling businesse. You shall have many cry out of the divers sects that are risenup, but yet they never blamed those that occasi∣oned them: and I must further adde, its causa, non separatio facit schis∣maticum, it is the cause, not a separation that makes a schismatick: This hath alwayes been the slander cast upon Reformation, Quot ho∣mines, tot Evangelia, so many men, so many Gospels; and Luther was often required not to divide the inconsutilis tunica, the seamlesse coat of Christ, therefore he calls his adversaries inconsutilistae, and Tunicastri; Lay then this blame not upon Reformation that onely can remove such things, but upon those who were the Fathers of these Rents.
9. The ninth let to Reformation, is, the outward troubles and commotions that doe accompany it: And certainly these lye in the way of Reformation, as Amasaes carkasse that stopt all the passen∣gers; but this our Savior foretold, I come to send a fire and a sword, and to set Father against son, and son against Father: not that our Saviour meanes this was the Finis operantis, that he intended this, but that it was Finis operis, there would be this event wheresoever his pure and powerfull preaching was set up: for he is not the cause of it, but the stubborn and rebellious hearts ofmen make it; neither the Physician nor the Physick are the cause of the paines and troubles the sicke man feeles, but the ill humours that have been long gathering in him.
10. The unthankfulnesse of people, that they should no more e∣steem or prise those instruments which God sends to deliver them by. Thus they were unthankfull to Moses and Aaron: and the Roman Worthies have drank of this cup. Therefore one Hea∣then, when his sonne was desirous of publike service, he carrieth him Page 23 to the boards and planks of old weather-beaten Ships that lay upon the shoare; Loe (saith he) thus the people will doe to thee after they have used thy service. And so another Heathen complained, who had done much publike service, but neglected, that he was like the Trees, which the beasts run to in time of a storme, and when that was over they fell on cropping and browzing of it. Now as this un∣thankfulnesse is a grosse sinne, so it ought not to be any discourage∣ment for those who are employed in the publike good: Luther was much offended at this, and therefore he tells us his temptation, Cum hac itavideo, non nunquam impatientia frangor, & serio cogio, nisi illa doctrina in mundū jam sparsa esset, me quidvis potius facturum quam ut ingrato mundo ostenderem; Sed hae cogitationes sunt carnis; When I see this (ingratitude) I am sometimes broken with impatience, and seriously resolve unlesse this doctrine had been already disperst, I would rather have done any thing then declared it to this unthank∣full world; but these are the thoughts of the flesh.
But yet there are many urgent motives and arguments, why Re∣formers should goe on.
1. Because God hath severely punished the neglect of any order he hath left with his Church; though they have done much, yet if they have not done compleatly, he hath been angry; Hence you read so often, Neverthelesse the high places were not taken away; May not the judgement upon Nadab and Abihu, for offering strange fire; may not the breach God made upon Uzzah, for ever awaken Refor∣mers, that they should not be conniving and indulgent to the breach of the least command of his? O ye worthy Patriots, think not that you are free, and at your owne disposall, how much or how little is to be done for God, you are accomptable to God for jotaes and tittles.
2. There is nothing more odious unto him then corruptions in his Church: what detestable names doth che Scripture put upon I∣dols? and the false Prophet is called the taile; and our Saviour when he was to purge out the corruptions from his Temple, He makes a whip, and drives the polluters out; a strange way it was, but hereby he would shew how odious such were to him, even as so many dogs in his presence; Consider that speech, Iohn 4. My Father seeketh such who worship him in spirit and in truth: he seekes such, which argueth how precious and delightsome they are unto him, that worship him Page 24 in his owne way, therefore our Saviour tells the Pharisees, that, that which was highly esteemed amongst them as great piety and devotion, it was 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, an abomination before God: oh then let us not doe any abominable things.
3. A third motive is, whatsoever carnall Statists think, yet doing the will of the Lord in this, we are sure ofblessings: Remember those two places quoted before (for we desire they may alwayes stick upon your hearts) how ill it was, when there was no law, nor no preaching Priest, and then how well it was when Iehosaphat set up those that taught the good knowledge of God: It is true, we may be a long while in the Wildernesse, and God for the sinnes ofhis owne people may suffer the enemies to prevaile, but we are alwayes to remember the end of the Lord, mark the ends of all Reformation, and you shall find them to be peace: And as we say of the sorrowes and sadnesse of a particular godly man, it is not his godlinesse that makes him so, but because he hath not godlinesse enough: so of a Church or State, it is not a Reformation that makes woe and misery, but because we are not reformed enough, we are not willing for this.
4. Consider how much men venture, to prepare wayes for anti∣christ, and to make his paths streight; Do not men venture their estates, and their lives, that the man of sinne may become a man of glory? and shall not we doe as much for Christ? will not the pri∣sons and miseries wherein they suffered, witnesse against our da∣stardlinesse? Did not the people bring their eare-rings to make the gol∣den calfe? Did not the Corinthians suffer the false Apostles to buffet them and smite them? shall there be Martyrs for errour, and not for Truth? As that good old Pambus wept when he saw a Strumpet cunningly dressing her selfe to please her Lover, because he could not take as much pains to please God; so do thou, when thou hearest of the Papists and such adversaries, making themselves poore, and venturing their lives, that errour may be advanced; why dost thou not humble thy self, because thou art not so forward, or self-denying for the truth?
Use of Exhortation. That now we would prepare the way for Christ: God will reforme his Church by other meanes if we doe not promote it; take heed, lest while we are negligent, he come downe himselfe as it were, and scourge out all prophanenesse from his Tem∣ple, and so you lose both your reward and comfort; consider, that Page 25 as it is your danger to prepare Christs wayes; so it is the greatest honour that God did ever put upon you: How many thousands that shall finde the benefit and sweetnesse of drinking the pure streames of Gods Ordinances, will then blesse God for you? In these mat∣ters of God consult not with flesh and blood, remember that he is ingaged for his truth more then you; you indeed have your lives and estates to lose, but God hath his Honour, and his Truth to lose, which is more then all the World. How will you ever answer it, if God at the day of Iudgement shall say, he put an opportunity into your hands, and you have not improved it, when the blood of other mens soules may be required at your hands? Take heed that at your death-beds there be no out-cry, O my England sinnes! I speake not this in any spirit of discontent, but rather of joy, seeing those clusters of grapes you have already brought us from the Land of Canaan those good and wholesome Lawes that have been enacted since your sitting; onely be exhorted to hold on, and take the op∣portunities that God puts into your hand: Those that would not gather Manna in the morning, could find none all the day after: one∣ly the man that stept in first into the pool of Bethesda, could be hea∣led. And you are the more engaged to this, by the solemne Cove∣nant you have entred into; so that you must needs break many bonds asunder, if you grow forgetfull of this work: Take David for an ex∣ample, Psal. 1 32. there he had vowed to bring the Ark back into a fit place; now when he had thus sworn, see how carefull he was, Re∣member David and all his troubles, or more neer the Originall, in his whole affliction, that is, in all that trouble, and fear, and care that was upon him, when God smote Uzzah, and so hindred him in his in∣tended Reformation: There is his griefe, where was a stop in his work. Then consider again his resolution, hee would not sleep, nor eat, (its an hyperbolicall expression of the indefatigable paines hee would take) that the Ark might be setled. I shall therefore pray as David, when the people were willing, The Lord keep this alwaies in their heart; the Lord alwaies keep your Covenant and resolutions alive in your hearts.
Now that you may not be as those who built the Ark for Noah, but were drowned themselves; or as Hiram, that sent materials to build a Temple to that God, whom he did not know, that you may have comfort and benefit in all that is done,
Page 26 1. Humble your souls for all your failings, and sinnes; one mis∣carriage may imbitter many mercies. 2 Sam. 6. When David was with great pomp and chearfulnesse bringing back the Ark, on a sud∣den God manifesteth his displeasure against Uzzah, not as some think, because he toucht the Ark, seeing he was a Levite, but because it was put on a cart whereas it ought to be carried on mens shoul∣ders; see what a sad obstacle was put in the way, David hereupon leaveth the Ark, and will carry it no further. Take the advantage therefore on these dayes, that all the sinnes which stand upon your account may be wiped off.
2. Labour for a spirituall heart, to be such as can delight in the spi∣rituall worship of God, that can account spirituall things glorious things: men that are affected with outward glorious pomp in the service of God, it is a signe they have no spirituall things to rejoyce in; the woman that hath no children to play with, she can delight in dogs, and other creatures? Hag. 2. there is a promise, that God would make the glory of the second Temple far above that of the former, and how was this true, but because of Christs spirituall prea∣ching and presence there. I cannot but name a passage out of Isidore Pelusiota, lib. 2. epist. 246. because its so parallel with our times alate, and I would all were of his judgement: There was one Eusebius a Bishop, that did cast out and revile the good people, and in the mean time was very devout in building and adorning the Churches; now saith, Isidore,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the Church is one thing, the place of the Church another; the one consists of un∣blameable men, the other of wood and stone which if the Bishop did consider, he would not any longer overthrow the one, and adorn the other. And in the Apostles times, when the Church did abound with spirituall graces and holinesse of life, they had no Temples; but in our time the Temples are more adorned then is fitting, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, but the Church is scorn'd and mockt: If I might have my wish, I had rather be in those times wherein the Temples were not so beautified, but the Church splendent with heavenly graces, then in these our times, wherein the Temples are very glo∣rious, but the Church empty of graces.
3. Get sincere and holy aimes, even in doing Gods commands: let there not be Pauls complaint, All seek their owne, and not the things of Jesus Christ; Be willing to be even an Anathema that Page 27 the Church may prosper. It was a noble resolution of Tullies, Ne immortalitatem quidem contra rempublicam acciperem, he would not have immortality it self to the prejudice of the Common-wealth: You have a notable instance for this in John, how did he reform ac∣cording to all that was in Gods heart? and yet he lost the reward; nay, Hos. 13. God threatens to be revenged on him; and why is all this, but because his heart was not right to God? Doe not thou aime at glory, and at fame, but at Gods own glory and honour.
4. Reforme your owne lives and conversations; for how reaso∣nable is it that you who make lawes that others doe not sweare, you your selves should not? how fit is it that you who bind others to the keeping of the Sabbath, you your selves should sanctifie it? And this againe did undoe Iehu, that although he pulled down Baal, yet he did not reform himselfe from Ieroboams sinnes: lege historiam ne fias historia, reade the history of Iehu, lest thou thy selfe be made such an history to others. Oh therefore let it be true of thee, that since thou hast been labouring in this publike Reformation, thou hast been more holy, thou hast been more pure: Thou that hast en∣deavoured to make way for Christ in the Church and State, hast much more made way for him in thy owne family: What will it profit to have holy Ordinances, holy Worship, if wee our selves still remaine unholy?
Vse 2. Of Instruction unto people not to mutter under these sad calamities, if hereby Christ may come and reign in his Church. Con∣sider,
1. That a Reformation doth not make these troubles, but sinne. Do not murmur under Gods providence as is forbidden, 2 Cor. 10. The Iewes, they murmured under Moses and Aaron, how many of them did God destroy? so again, the Corinthians, because Paul did urge strict Discipline about the incestuous person and other dis∣orders, therefore they were prone to murmur: And thus people think that this Reformation is the cause of all this evill, and that Re∣formers are the troublers of England: but sure it is our sinnes and an unwillingnesse to bee subjected to Christ that works us all this woe; and if we had more truth, we should have more peace.
2 How slowly we prepare and fit our selves for mercies; Its true, speed is a great advantage in publike works; The heavenly bodies conveigh their sweet influence, non quà calida, sed quà velocis Page 28 motus, as they are swift: but yet you are to take notice of it, that our slownesse in fitting our selves for mercy is more to be blamed. Its your complaint, the Parliament is slow; Why not rather wee reforme our lives slowly, wee prepare our selves slowly, and there∣fore it is that good things are kept off? Moses and Aaron were not the causes that the people were kept so long in the wildernesse, but their own sinnes and rebellions against God; Let this there∣fore stop your mouthes and doe not discourage those who labour for your good, that is not profitable for you, as the Apostle speaks in the like case.
3 How grievous a sinne it is, to wish for thy old condition a∣gaine or to magnifie that; This was the temper of the perverse and froward Jewes, would they were in Egypt againe, Moses and Aaron would destroy them; and see how they amplifie that condition, the bondage of which they did so much complain of before: They sate down by the fleshpots in Egypt: [sate down] as if they had so much ease; and by the fleshpots, as if they had had so much plenty: whereas indeed their estate was miserable. It is true, our times are very sad, and as Tully of his civill warres, so may we say of ours, Non est civit Romanus qui in hac tempestate ridere potest, he is not a true Christian that can be heartily merry in these dayes. But were not the times of Superstition, of Altar-worship, of silencing your Mi∣nisters as bitter unto you?
4 How the mercy when it doth come, will make amends for all. Canaan will satisfie for the troubles in the wildernesse. That the Church hath brought forth a man-child of Reformation will make all former sorrowes and pangs be forgotten: When and how God will put a period unto these sad Distractions, wee know not; but certainly God will own his own Truth, he will not forget his pro∣mises to his people: and if we should perish, yet when wee have done our duty, we shall have our comfort and reward in heaven; and certainly God hath not raised all these hopes of his people, to make them the more miserable; Will God doe with his people, when they have layd up all for his service, as the husbandman with his Bees, when they have enriched themselves with their honey, and layd up all their stock, then to set fire on them, and burn them? no certainly; if the servent prayer of one righteous man prevail much how much rather the prayers of many thousands?