An exposition of the prophesie of Hosea begun in divers lectures vpon the first three chapters, at Michaels Cornhill, London
Burroughs, Jeremiah, 1599-1646.

The First Lecture.

CHAP. 2. VER 1. 2.

Say 〈◊〉 your brethren, Ammi, and to your sisters, Ruhamah.

Pled with your mother, plead; for she is not my Wife, neither am I her husband, &c.

SOme joyne the first verse of this Chapter to the end of the former: and (according to a sense that may be given of the words, agreeable to the scope of the latter part of the for∣mer Chapter) it may seem more fit to be made the end of that, then the beginning of this.

In the latter end of the former, God was in a way of pro∣mising mercy to his people, that those that were not his people should be his people, and those that had not received mercy should receive mercy. Now he calleth upon all whose hearts were with God, to speake to one another of this great favour of God to his people, fo their mutuall encouragement, and for the praise of his Name. As if he should say, Well, you have been under dreadfull threats of God, your sins have called for dreadfull things; but my grace is free, and it is rich & powerfull, therefore you that were not my peo∣ple, and have deserved to be for ever cast off from being my people, you that had not obtained mercy shall obtaine mercy; Say to your brethren, Ammi, and to your sisters, Ruhamah, that is, O you that are godly, speak one to another, and tel one another, for the quickning of one anothers hearts; of this great favour of God of his free grace, Oh say, Ammi, Ammi, the peo∣ple of God, Ruhamah, Gods mercy: We were not his people, but now Ammi again, God hath promised to make us to be his people; we were re∣jected from mercy, but mercy is come again, now Ruhamah, O the mer∣cy of God, O that free grace of our God, that wee that have beene: so vile, so provoked the eyes of his glory, we that have so sinned against mercy it self, yet mercy should thus follow us, to make us his people, and to save us from his wrath!* It is a good thing to speake of the loving kindnesse of our God. Psal. 92. 1. It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to be telling of the goodnesse of God in the morning, and his faithfulnesse every night. That Psalme is appointed for the Sabbath. It is a work of the Sabbath to be speaking one to another of the goodnesse of God: Especially in this case, when a people were afraid that they should have been for ever reject∣ed, Page  145 that now God should call them againe,*Ammi, my people, and say now againe that he will have mercy upon them. Psal. 145. 4. 5. One generation shall praiss thy name to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts; I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works.

Mark what the wayes of God are toward his Church, when he commeth in the wayes of mercy; they are wondrous works of God, they are the migh∣ty acts of God, they are such wherein the honor of God appears, yea they are the honour of his Maesty, yea they are the glorious honour of his Majesty There is Majesty, honour of Majesty, glorious honour of Majesty, mighty works of God, wonderfull works of God. When these appeare, these are to be declared indeed; And for them to be able to say to one another, Ammi and Ruhamah, it was to declare the wonderfull works of God, and the glori∣ous honour of his Majesty. Yea it followeth further in that Psalme, verse 6.

Men shal speake of the might of thy terrible acts, and I will declae thy greatnesse. And verse 7. They shall abundantly utter the memory of thy great goodnesse. Euctaut, so Arias Mntanus renders it, they shall not be able to keep it in, but break orth in the memory of thy goodnesse.

Happy are those people that God gants such subjects of discourses unto, that they may say one to another, to their brethren and sisters, Ammi, and Ruhamah. It was not long since, that when we met with our brethren, we could not have such a subject of discourse as this is, but usually when Chri∣stians met together after their Salutations, their first question was; Oh! what shall we do? what shall we doe? what course shall we take? All the Newes almost that was in the Kingdome, and the subject of discourses (specially among the Saints) was this, Such a Minister silenced in such a place, such a one banished in another place, such a one imprisoned in ano∣ther place, such a one High-Commissioned in another place, such signes of the wrath of God upon us, we are afraid that God is going, if he be not quite gone already, we are afraid that he will not onely reject us from being his people, but reject us from being a people upon the fac of the earth.

But blessed be God, he hath changed the subject of our dscourses. Now Gods wayes have begun to be towards us as if he intended to make us again to be his people. Now we may when we meet together have plentifull sub∣jects of discourses about Gods grace & mercy, to say Ammi, Ruhamah, O the Lord manifesteth goodnes to an unworthy Nation & we have hope that yet he will owne us to be his people, we have hope that yet he will shew mer∣cy to us though never so unworthy. Who would have thought ever to have seene and heard of such things as we have seene & heard? who would have thought ever to have seene the hearts of the adversaries so daunted,* their power so curbed, their rage so quelled, the wicked in their own workes so ensnared; their hopes so disappointed? who would ever have thought to have seene the Saints so rejoycing, their liberties so inlarged, their hearts and expectations so raised? This is the free grace of God: Ammi, Ruha∣mah, we have obtained mercy, God hath dealt with us in abundance of grace.

Page  146 This we must not discourse of when we meere,* as matter of newes onely, but we must speake of it to the praise of God, for the sanctifying of our hearts. Our brethren in Ireland have another subject of their discourses at this day. When a brother or a sister meet this is the subject of their discourse, Oh my Father, my mother taken such a day by the Rebels and cruelly masa∣cred, such a kinsman, such a kinswoman taken such a day and fearfully mur∣thered, such houses were fired, such Cities and Towns were taken, and with what gaftly visages doe you think they look one upon another, when they are thus relating these sad things?* The word of God came out against En∣gland, but it hath lighted upon Ireland. O unworthy are we of these mer∣cies we enjoy, if when we meete together our discourses be frothy and light, about vain and trivial things, when God hath given us such a subject of dis∣course as he hath done by such gracious, and wonderfull, and glorious wayes of his mercy towards us in this latter age.

Say to your brethren Ammi, and to your sisters Ruhamah.

The mercies of God are to be inculcated upon our spirits,* we should not onely tell them one to another, but again and again inculcate them upon our hearts. Indeed Gods mercies at first they seeme to take impression upon our spirits, but the impression is soone vanished.

Say to your brethren. This is (according to some) Let Judah to whom God shewed special mercy, say to Israel, to the ten Tribes that were more threatned then Judah, for Judah was not so threatned as Israel was, to be cast off from being the people of God. Let Judah rejoyce in this, that their brethren are received again to mercy.

A gracious heart should rejoyce in Gods mercies towards others.* Gods mercies are an infinite Ocean, there needes no envying there, no grieving for that which others have. Indeed when one man is richer then another, a∣nother is ready rather to envy him then to rejoyce: A Courier is ready to envy the favour that another hath, why? because these are narrow things.

But when we come to Gods mercy there is roome enough there, that soul that hath beene made partaker of mercy, counts it a great happinesse that a∣ny way the mercy of God may be magnified.

Say to your brethren and sisters, &c.

These whom God hath received unto mercy,* we should receive into bro∣therly affection. Hath God shewed mercy to such and such, well may wee account them our brethren and sisters then. If God takes them to mercy we must be ready willingly to take them into brotherly society.

But now if we take these words as the beginning of the second Chapter, then we shall see them carried in some different way. And taking of them so (as most doe) I shall first shew you the scope of the Chapter in the parts of it, and then shew in what sense the words may be carried, as the begin∣ning of this Chapter.

The scope of thi••ond Chapter is much according to that of the first, viz.〈◊〉 shew unto 〈◊〉 their sinne and their danger, and secondly to pro∣mise Page  147 Gods aboundant grace and mercy again.* The first is especially from the beginning to the 14. verse, and the second, from the 14. verse to the end of the Chapter. Yet this is not an exact division. neither can we give an exact division of this no more than we could give of the other. Why? Be∣cause things are so intermixed; for they are the patheticall expressions of a loving, and yet a provoked husband, and therefore when he is comming to ••••vince his spouse who hath dealt falsely with him, and to shew her her sin and danger, whilst he is manifesting of his displeasure, the bowels of his compassion begin to yerne, and he must have some expression of love in the middest of all; then when he hath had some expressions of love, he falls a∣gain to rebuke her and to shew her her sin again, and then his bowels yerne again, and he commeth to expressions of love again. We have found it so in the former Chapter, and shall find it so in this: For though the beginning of this Chapter to the 14. verse is specially spent in convincing of sinne and threatning of Judgement, yet in the sixth and seventh verses there is promise of mercy and favour, and expressions of love, and then in the eighth verse he goes to threatning againe, and in the 14. ver. begins to express mercy again.

As God doth in this case, so should we. When we rebuke others that are under us, we should so rebuke them, as yet to manifest love to them, and when we manifest love, to doe it so as yet to take notice what is amisse and to reprove them. Many parents know not how to rebuke their children, but they do it, so as that there is nothing but bitternesse; and they know not how to manifest their love but they do it so as that there is nothing but cockering and immoderate indulgency. God mixeth both together.

Say to your brethren, &c.

Take it for the beginning of the first part of this second Chapter, for the shewing of them their sinne, and rebuking them, What then must be the sense and scope of the words, Say to your brethren, Amm, &c.

Then it is carried thus. Some thing must be supplied for the making up of the full sense. As if God should have said, Oh Ammi, you whom I have re∣served to be my people, you to whom I have shewed mercy, there is yet re∣maining a handfull of you, while you remaine to be may people, and others cast off, and you obtayning mercy, and others rejected, let it be your care to exhort, perswade, convince, use all the meanes you can to bring your bre∣thren and sisters on to that grace of God you have received: Say to your brethren, say, it is not expressed what they should say, but by that which fol∣loweth wee may understand what the meaning of God is, when hee saith Plead with your mother, &c. that is, you that have received mercy and are my people, there is a remnant of you; do not you think that so long as you scape and are well enough your selves, no great matter what becomes of o∣thers, oh no, but let your hearts be much toward your brethren and sisters, let your bowels yerne toward them, oh seeke if it be possible to draw them unto God that they may receive mercy too, labour to convince them, say and speake to them that they may not yet stand out against God and be ob∣stinate; Page  148say to your brethren Ammi, and to your sisters Ruhamah, you that are Ammi, and you that have received mercy do you speake to your bre∣thren and sisters. And this affordeth unto us many excellent Observations.

As First, That in the most corrupt times of all, God doth use to reserve a people,* to deliver some from the guilt of the generall corruptions of the place where they live.* For so this Ammi and Ruhamah, were a remainder, that God did deliver thorough his grace from the generall corruptions of the place where they were; for otherwise they had not beene fit to have said to their brethren or to have spoken to their sisters in this sense.

Secondly, those whom God delivers from the guilt of generall corrupti∣ons are to be acknowledged the people of God, such as have receiv•• mercy from God in a speciall manner; It is free grace that hath made this differ∣ence between you and others; Augustin in his second book concerning pre∣servation, has a good note upon that Scripture, 1 King. 19. 18. I have left me seven thousand in Israel, God sayes not, there are left 7000, or they have left themselves, but I have left; It is the speciall work of God to pre∣serve any for himselfe in evil times.

Thirdly, the Lord takes speciall notice of such who are thus by his grace preserved in evill times. Ammi, Ruhamah, There are a people amongst these that are Ammi, my people, that have obtained mercy from me, mine eyes are upon them, my heart is toward them; there are a number that have kept their garments undefiled even in Sardis, and I will remember this for ever for their good.*Noah was a just man, prefect in his generation, Gen. 6. 9. and what then? Chap. 7. 1. Come thou and all thy house into the Ark, for thee have I seene righteous before me in this generation.

Fourthly,* Such as keep themselves from the corruptions of the times wher∣in they live, they and onely they are fit to exhort and reprove others.

Those that are not guilty themselves as others are, are fit to speak to others, to say to their brethren and to their sisters. They are fit to exhort, who per∣forme the duties themselves that they exhort unto.* We say it is a shamefull thing for one to be teaching if he be guilty himself; he cannot with freedom of spirit, say to his brethren and sisters.

Fifthly, It is the duty of those whom God hath delivered from the cor∣ruptions of the times, to seeke to draw all others to God; to seeke to con∣vince others of their evil wayes, and so bring them in to the truth. We eade Levit. 19. 17. Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart, thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, & not suffer sin to lye upon him. Surely those who have obtained mercy, have the impression of Gods mercy upon their spirits, they are farre from having hatefull hearts; now it is hatred for any to suffer sinne to lye upon his brother, and not to doe what in him lyeth to help him. It is desperate pride for men to triumph over others in their falls, and it is wicked cruelty to suffer others to lye down when they are fallen if they can raise them. 〈◊〉-faring men who are delivered themselves from ship∣vvrack, and all is 〈◊〉 with them, if they see another ship ready to sink in the Page  149 sea; and those on ship-board shoot out to have them come to helpe to save them, though they be never so farre remote, yet if it should be knowne that they decline to goe out to help them, all the sea-men would cry out shame on such, and be ready to stone them for etting a Ship sinke when they might have helped: Certainly the same case-it is with those to whom God hath shew ed mercy, if others lye in their sins they do not what they can for their help.

6. Say to your brethren and to your sisters.* The neerer the relation of any is to us, the more should our compassion be towards them, in seeking to de∣liver them from their sins; There is more likelihood of prevailing with your brethren and sisters. Hath God converted you, and have you a brother or a sister not converted, or any of your kindred? goe and say to them, tell them of the danger of their evil wayes, tell them of the excellency of the wayes of God, exhort them to come in, to make tryall of the blessed wayes of God.

When a brother speaks to a brother, or a sister to a sister, it is the bringing a hammer of gold to work upon gold,* and of silver to work upon silver.

Lastly, Say to your brethren and sisters. Exhortations unto and repre∣hensions of others should be with much love and meekenesse. Say to your brethren and sisters, yet look upon them as brethren and sisters, though they have not yet obtained the like mercy that you have. Saint Paul, 2 Thes. 3. 15. speaking of one that walketh inordinately, from whom we are to with∣draw in respect of any private familiar society, yet saith he, admonish him as a brother. Those who reprove and admonish others with bitternesse of spi∣rit and evill speaking, are like a foolish fowler who seekes to get the fowle, but he goes on boysterously, and makes a noise; the way (if he would get it) is to goe on quietly, softly, and gently; so the way to gaine a brother, is not by boisterousnesse and violence, but sofness, and gentleness. It is observed by some of the Jews out of that 25. Exod. ver. 3. where the matter of the Tabernacle is said to be gold, and silver, and brasse: you doe not see nor hear of iron to be required for the building of it; No, iron, rigid, severe, hard dispositions are not fit either to be matter of the Tabernacle themselves, or to draw others to be the matter of it.

Yea but if saying will not be enough to doe the deed, then there followes pleading. That is the second. Say to them, admonish them, exhort them, but what if that will not doe? doe not leave presently, but Plead, yea and Plead with your mother too, not onely with your brethren and with your sisters, but with your mother.

Plead with your mother, plead, for she is not my wife, &c.

Pleade, Litigate, so some, Contendite, strive, the old Latine hath Iudi∣cate, Iudge your mother.* It may seeme to be a hard and harsh phrase at first, but we shall labour to acquaint you with the minde of God in it.

Here is an exhortation even to the private members of the Church, to all, one o other, to plead even with their mother, to plead even with the Church of which they are members, and so to plead as to deale plainly and to tell her that she is not the wife of God. Pleade with her,

Page  150 First, here we see Gods condescension, that he will have us pleade the ease betwixt others and himselfe,* as Esay, 5. 3. Iudge between me and my Vine∣yard, faith God. This sheweth the equity of Gods dealing. Pleade the case, perhaps some of you might thinke. I deale hardly with your mother in so re∣jecting of her, in bringing such judgements upon her. No, not so, but plead you the case, plead rather with her then complaine of me for my dealing with her.

Secondly,*Plead with her. When exhortations and admonitions will not doe, we must strengthen our selves and falla pleading. If there be any way more powerfull then exhortation and admonition we should take that way, and not presently give over, for though it is not said here, Pleade with your brothers and sisters, yet they are included in this when he saith, Plead with your mother.

Thirdly, It is a hard thing to convince Idolaters of their sin, and of the Justice of God comming against them for their sinne. Plead with your mo∣ther, plead, shee will not acknowledge it, she will stand it out, and say she hath not done so ill, shee is not worthy to be cast off, you had need pleade and plead hard with her, she will stand out else: Idolaters have so many di∣stinctions, so many evasions, so many shifts and pretences, that it is a thou∣sand to one ever almost to prevaile with them. When you deale with Pa∣pists about worshipping of Images they will have such distinctions of wor∣ship,*perse, and worship per accidens, of honouring the creature, Propter se, & propter aliud, Proprie, improprie, and a hundred of such kinde of di∣stinctions and evasions, till they distinguish out the truth, and scarce under∣stand themselves what they meane by their distinctions. Hence Idolaters scorne at judgements threatned, they thinke onely a company of foolish & timorous people fear such things, they cry out, say they, that we are Idolaters, Idolaters and grievous judgements of God are comming ••on us, a com∣pany of foolish melancholly people they feare their own 〈◊〉. Was it not so heretofore when we were going on in the wayes of Idolatry space? Was it not the jeere and scorne of all such spirits? If any did seeme but to make a question about Idolatry, they would never be convinced of such a sinne, nor never feare any judgements hanging over our heads, Though God hath prevented it through his grace, and hath shewed his preroation in the ways of his mercy, yet certainly there was signe enough of dreadfull wrath hang∣ing over us, and what yet may be we know not.

Fourthly,*Plead with your mother, pleade. It is a 〈◊〉 of forensecall word, and carrieth with it such a kinde of pleading, as must be a convincing, a powerfull pleading. God loveth to have people dealt withall in a convin∣cing way. The Lord doth not cry out to the Prophet or to these other good people that were free from that Idolatry that the people of Israel were gene∣rally corrupted withall, he doth not say, I say, bid them go and terrifie them, and cry out of the〈◊〉 speake bitterly unto them; but 〈◊〉 and plead the cause with them, seeke to convince them, doc not goe and 〈◊〉 upon 〈◊〉〈…〉 them.

Page  151 God loveth to have people dealt withall in a convincing way, Let not therefore any thinke it enough either Minister or other, that they can speak terribly to people, and cry out of the sinnes of the people, but let them la∣bour to convince them, to deale with them as rationall creatures, and to take away their secret objections and their secret shifts, and to make their sinnes plaine before their consciences. A convincing Preacher and a convincing Christian is such a one as may be very usefull, and doe aboundance of good to the Church of God.

Fifthly, Pleade with your mother. It is very fit that God should have some to pleade for him,* to pleade his cause as well as the devil hath to pleade his. The devill never wants pleaders. When was there ever such an ill cause came to a Bench, or to any society in any publique way, but found some that would pleade for it? A shame that the worst cause in the world should have pleaders for it, and many times the cause of God suffers by mens be∣ing mute that should pleade for it. God will take this very ill at their hands.

It is true, God saith, hee will pleade his owne cause, and wee are bound to pray according to that of the Psalmist, that God would arise and pleade his owne cause. And indeed if God had not risen and pleaded his owne cause better then we did, his cause would have been in the dirt before this.

Though it is true, God is raising up his own cause, no thanke to us; wee have cause to lay our hands upon our mothes as guilty, in that we did so basely and cowardly let the cause of God suffer, and God appearing so im∣mediately and gloriously, is the rebuking of us because we did not, wee would not before stand up to plead his cause.

Sixthly,* When any have found mercy from God, the sweetnesse of that mercy so warmeth their hearts, that they cannot endure to see that blessed God be dishonoured. Pleade you Ammi, Ruhamah; what, my people, those to whom I have shewed mercy, what though it be your mother, what though it be any deare to you, what though they be great ones, though they be a multitude, yet pleade, plead for me against them, this note is grounded upon the title that God giveth them who should plead Ammi, and Ruha∣mah, those that are Gods people, those that have found mercy from God.

Gods mercy is so sweet, it doth so inflame them, that they must plead for God against any in the world.

Seventhly,*Pleade with your Mother. That is, with the Church, called a Mother, because as the Mother is as it were the roote from whence chil∣dren come, divideth her selfe into branches; so the community of a Commonwealth or a Church, any community, is called in Scrip∣ture a Mother, and the particulars they are as severall branches that growe from that roote, they are as children. Therefore you have such expressions in Scripture as the daughters of Jerusalem oftentimes, and there is no great difference between calling Jerusalem, that is, the State, Mother; or Jeru∣salem, that is, the Church, Mother, for indeed the Church and State were mixed both together. From this expression we learne that it is lawfull for Page  152 children to plead with their parents. Though it is true, this aimeth at a high∣er thing then what is between natural children and their parents, yet from the expression this is intimated and implied, That it is lawfull for children to pleade with their parents. If children see their parents in an ungodly way, they may lawfully pleade with them,* and their parents are bound to hearken to their pleading Gods cause. It is a speech of Tertullians, the begetter is to be beloved, and we may adde, he is to be honoured, but our Creator is to be preferred.* Children must give due respect to their parents, yet so as prefer∣ring the Lord before them; and if the parents goe against God, even their children must plead against them. As it is a great sinne for parents to pre∣fer their children before God, so it is a great sin for children to prefer their parents before God. Do not think I come to set children against their pa∣rents in this, be but content to heare to the end (though I will not be long in this observation) and you will be convinced I suppose of it, that it is fit for children to plead with their parents when they go from God.

Thus we see it was with Jonathan, 1 Sam. 19. 4. there you shall finde that he pleaded with his father when he saw him so furious and in such a pas∣sionate mood as he was in, and in such a cruell way toward poor David, Let not (saith he) he King sinne against his servant: Let not the King, he gives him very respectufll words, and sheweth his due honour to his father, Let not the King sinne against his servant, and then goeth on and tells his father of the good service David had done, and that David did not deserve such ill usage from him. Thus when children shall see their Fathers or Mo∣thers to be in a f••ous rage or passion, it is fit enough for them, if they come in an humble and submssive way, in a beseeching way, I be seech you father or mother, consider that by these distempered passions, in stead of helping your self, you sinne against God, you have known it by experience that you have often in such passion so broken out, that many sinnes have broken from you, and you have grieved for it afterwards, oh doe not againe that which your Conscience hath so often checked you for. If children should come thus in an humble and submissive way to plead with their parents, they doe no more then their duty, and their parents are bound to hearken to them in it.

I confesse they should be very carefull in keeping their due respect to their parents, and not speake mallapertly, but with all reverence and submission to them, and to speak privately too, if possibly it can be, not to divulge their parents weaknesses. You know Cham was cursed for discovering his fa∣thers nakedness, though he was drunk he did not shew his due respect at that time to his father; but if he had sought to cover his fathers nakednesse, and after had come and pleaded the case with him, certainly he had not beene cursed, but received a blessing.

Yea and there is a great deale of reason that children should pleade with heir parents, and that you should give them leave so to doe, because you know, children are the worse for your sinnes, God thrtneth to visit the sinnes of the parents upon the children, unto the third and fourth generati∣onPage  153 there are many threatnings against children for the sinnes of their parents, therefore it concerns your children that they should plead with you, and that you should suffer them. For you say, Sirrah what have you to do with me? What doth it concern you? Yes, the child if he doth it in modesty and hu∣mility may say, O father it doth concern me, I may fare the worse for your sinnes, God may come upon me for them, therefore give me leave I be∣seech you to pleade the cause of God with you. And if you will not give your children leave in this, they may rise up as witnesses against you ano∣ther day. If children in an humble and submissive way plead with their parents, and they will not hearken unto them then, a very good pleading will be for them to burst out into teares before their parents, and it is a very sutable and powerfull pleading, that when children cannot prevaile in an humble and submissive way, then to burst out into teares before them.

We read in the story of King Edward the sixth, when Cranmer and Rid∣ley came to him, and were so earnest to let him give way to his sister the Lady Mary to have Masse, he stood out and pleaded the case with them, & told them it was a sinne against God, they used many carnall arguments to perswade the King, but hee withstood them a great while; at length when King Edward (who was but a childe about 15 years of age) saw hee could not prevaile with pleading against those grave men, he burst out into teares, and that so prevailed with them, that they went away and concluded that the King had more Divinity in his little finger, then they had in all their bodies, and so yeelded to him. Certainly in such pleadings the heart of a parent must needs be much hardned if hee will not breake and yeeld to his child. You that are parents, looke upon your childrens pleading with you, and consider with your selves, what doth God send one out of my loins, out of my own wombe to come and plead the cause of God with me, to draw me from the wayes of sinne, and to do good to my soul for ever, surely it is a mercy to have one out of my owne bowels to stand for the cause of God; surely God is in it, I see this child in other things walks humbly and obediently unto me. As indeed you that are children, that plead with your parents, you need be carefull so much the rather to be obedient to them and not take upon you in an unseemly manner to check and reprove them; and then it cannot but convince the heart of a parent. What a blessing will it be to your children if you that have received your naturall life from your pa∣rents, should be a means of the spiritual and eternal life of them.

Thus much for the expression. Plead with your Mother.

Now for that which is chiefly aimed at, Plead with your mother, that is, the Church and State. Hence the Note is,

Those that are Godly should not onely sacrifice themselves to do good to themselves or friends in private,* but they are to labour to doe good to the publique too. Not onely say to your sisters and to your brethren, but pleade with your mother. There are many narrow spirited men, who if they can discharge as they think their consciences with their families, and can plead Page  154 with their servants and children, or some of their own neere acquaintance perhaps, they have done enough, though for the publique they take no care at all.* Hence it is apparently implyed, that all those that are members of any Church, ought to be men of knowledge; why? because they are such as are called upon to plead with their Mother. It is not for an ignorant Sot to plead with a Church of God; and yet such should be all the members of every Church,* as in some cases they should plead with their mother.

Lastly, which indeed is the maine Observation of all, God giveth liber∣ty to some private members of Churches,* yea it is their duty in some cases to plead with the whole Church. This we must speak unto a little more.

Gods wayes and his Cause are so equal, that private Christians, though they be very weak,* yet they may be able to plead it with a Church. It is true, there is a great deale of disadvantage that a poore, weak, private Christian hath, when he is to deale with a whole Church, where there are many godly and learned: but where as there is a disadvantage one way, so the advantage is as much the other way, in regard that the Cause of God is one the one side, and not on the other. The goodnesse of the Cause is as great an advan∣tage as the abilities and number on the other side is a disadvantage.

And sometimes particular members of a Church have no other way to free themselves from the guilt of the sinnes of the Church, but onely by pleading with them; except they plead, they are many times inwrapped in the guilt, and therefore of necessity they must do it, though they be never so weak,

Yea and sometimes God hath blessed the pleading of some few, and of weak ones too, with a multitude. Perhaps you may have heard of that no∣table Story we have in Ecclesiasticall Histories of Paphnutius, who being in the Councel of Nice where there were 318. Bishops, and the businesse was about the marriage of Ministers, and generally they cast against it, that those that were single should not marry: only Paphnutius, one man, comes and plead against them all in that case, and God so wrought it that he car∣ried the Cause, and he, one man, convinced all these 318. Bishops. There∣fore this is no discouragement for one man to stand up and plead against a great many.* So Petrus Waldensis in the Story of Waldenses, though he was but one at first, yet he stood against many thousands, and God blessed that which he did for the conversion of thousands. And Luther you know he stood against all the world almost.

Yea and though this one man may be but a private man, a weake man. God may blesse that which he saith sometimes more then that which more learned men shall say. I remember I have read in the Centuries this Story: A company of Bishops being met together, there was a Phylosopher that stood out against the Christian Religion, and so reasoned against them all, that be seemed to have the better of it: amongst them there was one, a very godly and holy man, but a very weak man; he seeing the Cause of God like 〈◊〉 suffer, desired leave to speak and encounter with this Phylosopher; all the rest being troubled at it, thinking that Gods Cause would suffer more by Page  155 him, knowing he was a very weak man, but yet knowing withall that hee was a very holy man,* none would oppose, but let him speak: So he begin∣neth with the Phylosopher, reciting many Articles of the Faith, Tell me, saith he, do you believe these things are so? (and spoke with Majesty and authority) doe not so reason the case about these Articles of our Faith, but do you believe? Presently the Phylosopher acknowledged himselfe over∣come: Hitherto (saith he) I have heard words, and returned words, but now I feel the Divine power, and I cannot further answer; and so yeelded to be a Christian upon the pleading of this poor weak man, yet a very holy and godly man. God hath blessed the pleading of weake ones, though it be a∣gainst those that are very strong, therefore they must not be contemned.

I remember Oecolampadius hath such an expression as this, saith hee, * Christ should be contemned and dishoncured, if we should not heare, were it but a child speaking with his Spirit, though all the world should be against it. And in Esay. 11. 6. there is a promise that in the times of the Gospel, the spirits of men should be so brought down, that they should not stand upon their greatnesse and learning, but the Text saith, A child should leade them; that is, the humble temper that God would have under the Gospell.

But it may be said, Will not this argue self-conceit? What, for one man, a private man to plead with so many, with a Church? it is a signe that such a one is very well opinionated of himself, that should think that what he ap∣prehendeth should be sufficient to stand against the apprehension of so ma∣ny learned and godly men as are in the Church. How can this be freed from arrogancy and proud conceitednesse.

I answer, Not so, it may be conscience, and not self-conceit, for the rule of conscience is not the abilities,* nor the holinesse, nor the multitude of o∣thers, but it is that light that God doth let in to convince according to his Word.* Nay further, I suppose I may convince you that this pleading for God, may proceed from much self-deniall, and the not pleading may pro∣ceed from very vile, sinfull self-respect.

How will that appeare?*

Thus. For a private man when he sees the truth of God to suffer, certain∣ly if he be an humble and an ingengous spirit, it cannot but be exceeding grievous unto him to think, that he must contest with such a multitude of a∣ble and Godly men,* more able then himself, it cannot but be to him a very hard work that God putteth him upon. He would rather a hundred times, if he did look at his own quiet and ease, sit down: For, think he, if I come to speak, then by this I shall be endangered to be accounted self-conceited, I shall have the accusation of pride, I shall displease many of my friends, I shall make a great disturbance in my self, I am sure to my own peace, what∣soever I do to others, and how much bette were it for me to sit still and be quiet. An humble spirit would reason thus; but only? Conscience puts him upon it; I shall contract guilt to my self, if I be not at least a witnesse for Page  156 Gods truth, therefore though I shall suffer so much in it, yet rather then the truth shall suffer, rather then conscience shall plead against me, I will plead though never so much to my disadvantage.

Now if such an one carry it humbly and quietly, certainly he is rather to be accounted a self-denying man in it; for it is a very hard taske.

VVhereas on the other side, self-love is more like to think thus; It is true, these things are right, I see they are not according to the truth of God.

Conscience indeed would have me speak, but I shall trouble my self, and what will they think of me on the other side, where there are so many able and godly men? surely I shall be thought a conceited fool, and therefore I were as good hold my peace, and sleepe in a whole skin, and be quiet.

Thus because they have so much self-respect, and love their own quiet, and cannot endure to suffer any trouble, they will leave the truth to suffer, and their consciences to be pleading with in against themselves; rather then thus to plead for the cause of God.

Certainly they that are charitable should rather take things in the better part then in the evill. It is true, it is possible that men may through pride of spirit be pleading with others (I shall speak a word of that by and by) but yet you may perceive it in the carriage of such a one, in the generall course of his way. Now if in the generall course of the way of a man, hee doth carry himselfe humbly and submissively, that you see him yeeldable as much as ever he can in all lawfull things, and then when he commeth to plead against an evil he is not suddain, he is not rash, and he pleads not a∣gainst every light evil neither, but when he comes he comes with a great deale of trouble in his spirit, and carrieth it with all quietnesse and humility, It is your rigidnesse, and that spirit which doth not beseeme a Christian, that is not the spirit of Christ in this thing, for to judge of this to be pride. For cer∣tainly under this false judge ment the cause of God hath suffered exceeding much.* You will say, How can it be imagined, that one man should see more then many, more then others that are able?

To that I answer.* In a community where there are many, though they should be godly, yet many of them may have their spirits biased with pre∣judice, vvith selfe-ends, and so not come to see the truth though they be more able.

Again perhaps though they may be moreable in most things, yet in some one God may leave them.* Yea, though they may be more able at other times, yet for some one time God may leave a man in a thing that he is ve∣ry able in it another time. And perhaps a great many of them for the pre∣sent may have so much distemper of spirit, as they may not speak according to what they think themselves. Therefore it may be usefull for some one man to be pleading with many others.

I beseech you consider of this, it is very usefull. Men must not think that God doth dispence the knowledge of his truth alwayes according to natural 〈…〉. For want of this consideration many are led into much evill.

Page  157 For thus they think with themselves, If a man have more abilities to un∣derstand natural things then others have, therefore he must needs have more abilities to understand spirituall things then others have. There is a mistake in this. A great learned man that hath great abilities, understands the rules of nature, yet a poor weake man may have the mind of Christ more then he hath. For the promise is to them that feare God. Psal. 25. 14. The secret of the Lord is with them that feare him. It may be another man hath more abilities, but this spirit may be more soild, may be more distempered then the poor weake mans.*I thanke thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast re∣vealed them unto babes; even so Father, for it seemed good in thy sight.

If multitudes had beene an argument against the truth, then in the Primi∣tive times, when Christian Religion began, certainly very few should have followed JESUS CHRIST. Yea, and there is not more disadvan∣tage and disproportion between one or two private members of a Church and the whole Church, then there was at that time disadvantage and dispro∣portion between the whole Church then and all the world. And if we mark Saint Iohn,*We know (saith he) that we are of God, and that the whole world lyeth in wickednesse. We know. What a singular spirit was here? here was singularity indeed, if you talke of singularity; you are afraid you should be counted self-conceited, and singular in differing from others. We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lyes in wickednesse.

Thus we see the thing a little cleared, as this point had need be, but we have not done with it, we must not let it go so. There must be some rules given for this, or otherwise we should wrong the point in naming it.

Christians may plead, private members may plead with their Mother, yet they must observe these rules.

First.* They must not plead with her for every light thing. For the Scrip∣ture giveth us this rule, That Love covereth a multitude of infirmiies; We must not stand pleading for every infirmity with our brother,* but rather passe by many and cover them, much lesse then with the Church.

But if there be that which is notorious, or if I be called unto it, that I can∣not have communion with them, but in my communication with them, I shall be wrapped up in the guilt except I testifie the truth. Certainly then I am bound to plead,

The second rule is,* it must be orderly done, that is, if possibly it may bee, you must make the Officers of the Church to be your mouth in pleading, I say if it can be. If it come to such a way of rebuking or declaring the evill to the Church, it should rather (if it can be) be by him whom God hath appointed to be his mouth to the Church. For you doe it in Gods name, therefore the most orderly way to do it (if it may be done) is by him that is Gods mouth.

Thirdly, It must be so as you must manifest all due respect to that socie∣ty you are of,* to that Church, shewing in your carriage, that you are appre∣hensive Page  158 and sensible even at this time of that distance that is betweene you and that whole society whereof you are a member.

[ 4] Fourthly, You must do it in a very peaceable way, so as to manifest that you desire peace, and not to be the least disturbance to the peace of the Church, but that the peace of it is deare & precious to you. Therefore when you have witnessed the truth and discharged your conscience in it, you must be then content to sit down quiet, for so the rule is, That the spirits of the Prophets must be subject to the Prophets, in that case: But if it should prove that the Church should continue, if the evill be notorious and great as re∣quires departing, and the Church after all means used & all patience should continue in it, in such a case, you may desire to be dismissed from it and de∣part. But in as peaceable a way as possibly can be, yet continuing in due re∣spect unto the Church for all that, though you should depart, onely leaving your witnesse behind you. The Papists cry out against us for pleading a∣gainst them, and say it is an ill bird that will defile its own nest, and they tell us the curse of Cham is upon us for discovering our parents nakednesse.

They are to know this, that there is more liberty for a member of a Church to plead with a Church then for a childe to pleade with his parent. Though there be liberty for a child, yet there is more liberty for the member of a Church. For a parent though he should be never so evil, yet hee doth not lose his right over his childe. Though your parents should be very wicked, yet know, that their wickednesse doth not discharge you of your duty; that all children should take notice of But a Church may so fall off from God, as the members of it may be free from their duty to it, and therefore may have more liberty to plead then a child with his parent. That but onely in answer to them. And certainly so far have they fallen from God, as they have dis∣charged those that plead against them.

Well but if a member, a particular may plead with a Church, a whole Church,* with their mother; Certainly then, there is no one Member of a Church so high but he may be pleaded withall, even by private people in that Church. Colos. 4. 17. Say to Archippus, look to thy Ministry, It is an Ex∣hortation to all the Church to say to Archippus and admonish him to looke to his Ministry. For though the officer of a Church be nearer to Christ the head (of which you heard before) then other members are, as the Arme is nearer the head then the hand; yet if the arme shall send forth any thing to the hand that it hath not from the head (as in a flux of putrid humours that resteth in the arme) then it would be the strength of the hand to resist those ill humours that the arme sends forth. So if any Officer of the Church shall send forth that which he did not receive from the head, to any Member, but some putrid humour of his own, It is the virtue of that Member to resist the receiving of any such humour.

Certainly it is the pride of many that thinke it scorne for any private peo∣ple any way to have to do with them. It is I say a pride in men which tho∣rough want of that right order that should be in all Churches is growen to Page  159 that height, that those that take to themselves as proper the name of Clergy, they think it such a dishonor to them for any other that is not a Clergy-man (as they speak) to speak to them or admonish them of any thing, or to rea∣son with them about any thing, or when they have preached, to come to them for further satisfaction in somewhat that they have delivered, or if they be negligent in their duty, to tell them of it though never so submissively & meekly, their pride makes them rise so high.

And for that observe, because they do it upon that ground that they are the Clergie, which signifies Gods inheritance and Gods lot, and so contemn∣ing others as inferiour. You shall find in Scripture the people are called Cler∣gy in distinction from the Ministers, and never the Ministers in the New Te∣stament from the people, the word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 is not attributed to them to my re∣membrance, but I am sure it is attributed to the Congregation, to the pri∣vate members by way of distinction from them. That you shall see in 1 Pet. 5. 3.*Be not Lords over Gods inheritance. Doe not Lord it over Gods Clergy, over Gods Lot, so the words are, Now in that he saith do not Lord it, certainly that is spoken to the Officers of the Church, and they must not Lord it over Gods inheritance, that is, over Gods Clergy, for so I say the words are. The word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 therefore, from whence Clergy commeth, is you see attributed to the people. And we shall find in Scripture, Acts 18. 25. that Apollos an Eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, and a man of a fervent spirit, yet the Text saith, that Aquila and Priscilla, that were private people, tooke him unto them and expounded to him the way of God more perfectly. Where have you an Apollos now, an Eloquent man, a Schol∣ler, a great Clergy man, but would scorne and contemne that a poore man and his wife should take him home & instruct him in the way of God more perfectly? Yet Apollos an Eloquent man & mighty in the Scriptures tooke it well and was willing to receive further instruction from these people: And we finde Cant. 5. that in the time of reformation of the Church, the Church went to the watch-men, the watch-men beate her, shee had more reliefe from the daughters of Jerusalem then from them.

But we must not leave this so neither. It is true, there may be a notorious abuse of both these, and it is exceeding hard for a people to understand their liberty without abusing of it,* either against the Church or against the Offi∣cers of a Church. This power may be abused in people very much in too much pride, arrogancy, mallapertness, a spirit of contention in some, taking a delight in contradiction. There are many people I say that are of such a hu∣mor that it is their very delight to be in a way of contradiction, & they think they are no body except they have somewhat to say against their officers or against what is delivered, and upon that very ground will go quarrelling, not out of meere conscience, but that it may appear to others that for their parts they have a further reach than other men; It is true, such things are deliver∣ed, generally they are received: yea, but men must know that they look in∣to things further then others doe: And if they be in a community, they con∣ceive Page  160 that every one would think them no body if they stand still and say no∣thing, therefore that they may appeare to be some-body, they will speake, they will have somewhat to finde fault withall, though they scarce under∣stand what they say, or whereof they affirme, and shew it they will in a vi∣rulent spirit, in a domineering way, and brave it to the faces of those that God hath set over them. Certainly this is a grosse and abominable thing giving it may be reproachfull tearmes to such: Whereas the Rule of Christ is, Rehuke not an Elder, (1 Tim. 5. 1.) but intreate him as a Father, do not you think presently that because you may pleade with them, that Gods cause may not suffer by your silence; that therefore you may rebuke them in an undecent and unseemly manner. You may indeed in an humble way goe as acknowledging the distance betwixt you and him, hee being an Officer, and so inEreat him as a Father. Doe many of you so when you go and rea∣son the case with a Minister, whom you your selves will acknowledge to be Officers of Christ, yet it may be sometime through bitternesse of spirit you will be casting them off from being Officers of Christ before you have suffi∣cient warrant for it: and therefore the Apostle saith in the same Chapter ver. 19. Against an Elder receive not an accusation but before two or three witnesses; Marke, you must not receive an accusation, much lesse a con∣demnation, for the credit and honour of the Ministers of Christ are very deare and precious unto him, therefore take heed how through a violent and turbulent spirit you cast any dishonour upon those that Christ hath set over you. Thus I have indeavoured to discover the truth unto you, and so limi∣ted as I hope it may be for edification, and not for hurt at all to any.

Pleade with your Mother.

But what is this pleading? She is not my wife, neither am I her Husband.

It hath much bitternesse in it indeed if it be considered of, yet it is in as faire termes as can be set out. Shee is not my wife.

He doth not bid them say to their mother she is a whore,* but she is not my wife. You will say, why? what difference is there between her not be∣ing his wife and her being a whore? May we not call things as they are?

It is true,* the thing is the same, but hence the Spirit of God teacheth us an excellent note, that those who pleade against others must not give ill termes, especially when those they plead against are superiors, you may declare your mindes fully, but in as faire, modest, comely, the least provoking termes that can be. It is a foule evill in many if they see Ministers or Churches do things they ought not, presently to give reviling speeches, nothing is in their mouths but there is one of Baals Priests, and Antichristian, they cry out of every thing they dislike as Antichristian, whereas you are to study with your selves if there be any terme more mollising then other to make use of that terme, although the fault you pleade against might beare a harsher terme if rebuked by one in authority, yet you who are but private Christians should be very carefull in the fairest, gen••st termes that may be to erprove what you dislike. Again, ••ee is not my wife.

Page  161 For that point, that a people that have been Gods people, may prove not not to be Gods people, that we have already met withal in the former Chap∣ter. We shall not speak of it as then we did. Onely now wee have it more fully, that a Church may come to be un-churched.

Here is a difficult case, that is, when a Church may come not to be a Church. It is through Gods providence more then I did make account of when I began this Prophesie of Hosea, though I had spent some time in it before, yet little thought to have met with so many things so fully presented to me as I have found, that doth so neerly concerne us and the times.

I would not violently draw on any thing but what is so presented to us, as that I should be injurous to the Scripture and to you not to take notice of it: We have already met with as tickle points as can be almost, and this also is exceeding difficult. I desire in this to go as I have done, your own conscien∣ces witnessing with me as in the other, without the least spirit of contention and division, or medling with controversies, but laying the truth in the prin∣ciples of it plaine before you.

When may a Church come to this, that had God before to be her Hus∣band, now not to have God to her Husband.

I confesse for the Church of the Jews I cannot finde any thing to pitch up∣on certainly when they did cease to be a Church but onely this;* e••er when God did send them a bill of Divorce by some extraordinary men (as ever they had some amongst them, some Prophet) or that they did wholly leave off from being under the pedagogie that God put them under: For I finde this that their Idolatry was not enough to cut them off from being a Church actually. It is true their Idolatry was that which did deserve it. They broke the marriage bond by their Idolatry, but God did not alwaies take the ad∣vantage of that, hee did not alwaies send them a bill of Divorce when they did commit Idolatry. These ten Tribes had beene Idolaters a long time be∣fore God had said to them they were not his wife. Therefore barely Idola∣try did not cut off, no not the Jews. Neither do I think that all Idolatry (if it be through ignorance) cutteth of a Church now in the time of the Christi∣ans. The Lutherans certainly are guilty of Idolatry by consequence, and so other Churches may be through ignorance, and yet they not cease to bee Churches. Therefore in the time of the Jews, I say I do not finde any parti∣cular sin that did actually cut them off so long as they did keep under the pe∣dagogie of the Law, unlesse God by some extraordinary messenger sent them a bill of Divorce, they yet remained the people of God, Isa. 15. 1. Where is your bill of Divorce, saith God? It is true you have deserved it, but where is it? I have not given you a bill of Divorce, therefore they were a Church. But for the time of the Gospel this I think may very safely be as∣serted, that so long as there is a Communion of Saints imbodied, holding forth the profession of all fundamental truths, and joyning in all Ordinan∣ces, so far as they are convinced, so long there is a Church. Any commu∣nion of Saints imbodyed, holding forth the profession of all fundamentall Page  162 truths, and are willing to set up ordinances so far as they know to be Gods mind they should set them up,* this multitude though it should have abund∣ance of corruptions, though many wicked be mingled amongst them, yet they are a Church of God, though they should not set up all Ordinances, though perhaps through ignorance they are not convinced that such an Or∣dinance is an Ordinance, yea though they be convinced that it is an Ordi∣nance, and yet perhaps they are not convinced that it is Gods minde they should set it up, though this should be their error, yet this communion of Saints imbodyed, remaine0th a true Church of Christ.

But thus. Though it be a true Church of Christ, yet it may be such a Church, that perhaps you, nor I, nor another cannot have communion withall.

You will say,* How is that possible for any Church to be a true Church of Christ, and yet we may not have communion with it?

So far communion we may have as to acknowledge it to be a Church, and to have communion in some duties, but it may be a true Church of Christ, and I may acknowledge it so, & yet not have communion in all Or∣dinances. In what cases may that be?

First, If this Church shall so mingle any Ordinance, any work of their publique communion, as I for the present cannot joine without contradict∣ing guilt upon me,* as not seeing Gods will in it, I cannot have communion [ 1] with them now in such Ordinances.

[ 2] Yea secondly, If a Church shall require me to yeeld in my judgement, and subscribe to such and such things that I cannot satisfie my conscience in, they put me off communion with them, it is not my fault, but they violently keep me off. That is a second case.

[ 3] Thirdly, When they shall not suffer me to do the duty that God requires of me, I cannot have communion with them there neither, because if I should joine with them, not doing my duty which my conscience tells me I am bound to doe, I thereby contract guilt.

Nay further, A man may be of a Church, and perhaps they may not be so ill, but it may be lawfull to have communion with them in many ordinan∣ces, and yet for those that are free,* and are not by any speciall call of God ty∣ed to such a place, they are bound in consciences in some cases not to joyne with them as a member of them in a constant way. As thus.

First, when I cannot enjoy all Ordinances with them, but God openeth a door to another place where I may have communion in all Ordinances, I may receive Sacraments with them upon occasion, and yet not be constant∣ly with them as a member of that Church.

[ 1] It is true, if God did shut the door that I could not enjoy all Ordinances any where, then it were better to joine with a Church that hath not all, though I doe but en joy some.

[ 2] Secondly, when God offereth 〈◊〉 else where that I may enjoy the Ordi∣nances with more power and pu••, and with more freedom of spirit, and 〈…〉 (I suppose one to 〈◊〉 and not to be tied) then if there be no∣thing Page  163 but outward accommodations that shall cast the ballance on the one hand, and the purity and power of the Ordinances on the other, if I shall ra∣ther chuse the one then the other, it will be apparant that I love my body bet∣ter then my soule: In this case Conscience biddeth me to shew more re∣spect to my soul then my bodie.

This can be no controversie, for it is generally acknowledged by all that if one will but remove his house from one parish to another, he may go and joine with that parish. But that which I affirme is not so far as that, I doe but suppose that a Man is free and not yet actually joined, he is then if he be free to regard more the puritie and power of the Ordinances then outward accomodations.*Let her therefore put away her whoredoms.

The end of all pleading and exhortation,* is reformation, & not contention.

Plead with her; to what end? Let her put away her whore domes. Plead with her that she may reforme, oe not plead for contentions sake. There are many Men that will rebuke others, and plead with others, but what for? meerly in a spirit of contention, meerely that they may brave it over them, that they may upbraid them, shame them, and not out of love to reforme them, they care not whether they reforme or not;* if they have vented their gall and malice they have what they would have.

But how will you know that? how can you know a Mans heart? [ 1]

Thus. You shall know that Men come not to plead for reformation but for contention, first, if they rather make it appeare that they are glad of the sinnes of their brethren and doe not grieve for them. You shall have many a Man come in a sury and rage to rebuke Men they have advantage against,* but not with a spirit of sorrow and mourning; if you came to plead and re∣buke them for reformation, you should have come with a mourning spirit, You should have mourned that such a one should be taken away from you, [ 2] saith the Apostle to the Corinths. You should mourne at your very heatts that Church or the Member of it hath offended.

Secondly, VVhen Men are partiall in their pleading, when they will re∣buke others and that sharply too that are afar off, but such as are neere to them they are carelesse of. Ezek. 18. 32. Turne yee, turne yee that ye may not dye; (say your bookes there) turne your selves and live. Now the word is Reverti facite,* for so it is in Hiphil, Doe you make to returne, and so it may well be read. So Arias Montanus reads it, make others to returne.

You must plead so as to desire reformation, not that you may get the vic∣torie and have the better of it by your pleading, but with bowels of compas∣sion to seeke Reformation you must not cut as an enemie to conquer, but as a Chirurgian to heale: Therefore before you goe to rebuke and to plead you must goe to prayer, that God would blesse your rebuking, and your exhor∣tation to your brethren, and when you have done pray againe to God for a blessing upon it. And look after your reprehensions, and see what becom∣eth of them; and if they doe not prosper to Reformation, then mourn, and crie to God for your brethren; and if it do prosper, then blesse God that you Page  164 have converted a soule. Thus it was with the Tribes on this side Jordan, when they pleaded with the Tribes on the other side Jordan, you shall finde in the story that when they heard the answer of their brethren they blessed God when they saw that their brethren were free from sinne:* so you should do, you should goe and plead with your brethren, perhaps your brethren may have the better of it and may convince you that that which you appre∣hend to be a sinne is not a sinne, now many men perhaps are angry & will not be convinced that it is no sinne, then I shall goe a way with the shame, what dloe I rebuke him of a sinne, and it is no sinne? Many a man holds on in an argument what he hath begun, and is loath to yeeld that it is not a sin, whereas he should be glad to yeeld it. If a Minister plead or preach that men do any thing that he conceives is a sin, if another should come and convince him that it was no sin, it is a vile spirit in any Mnister not to blesse God that he is mistaken, why? Because now the g••ilt of his brother is removed in his heart. If I had not beene mistaken, tis true, my credit had beene some∣what, but I am mistaken, the sin is removed from my brother, Oh blessed be God that my brother is not guilty, though I am mistaken; if we plead a∣gainst others with such a spirit as this, God will blesse us.