The Fourth Lecture.
HOSEA 2. 5.
Shee that conceived them hath done shamefully; for she said, I will goe after my lovers, that give me my bread, and my water, my wooll, and my flaxe, mine oyle and my drinke.
GOds threats against Israel to make her as a wilderness and as a dry land, to slay her with thirst, in the 3. verse, to shew no mercy to her children, in the 4. ver. The reason because her mother had played the harlot, in the beginning of this 5. ver. we finished the last day. Onely in a word to give you one note from that title of Mother here, that wee ob∣served not before.
The Community of the Church and civill State is called Mother, in way of distinction from private people, and private people are as the children of that Mother, so we opened it in the second ver.
The Observation is,
The Community of a State and Church should be to particular persons as a Mother.* They should have the affection of children to it, they should take much to heart those things that concerne it, the sufferings of State or Church should be the sufferings of all particulars. There are children of Be∣lial that are risen up among us,* that are even taring the bowels of our Mo∣ther, a viperous generation that seeke to eate out the bowels of her Mother, let our hearts breake for this, as Psal. 35. 14. I bowed down heavily as one that mourneth for his Mother. Let not us lift up our heads and be jolly now, but for the present bow down heavily as those that are called (though in some respects to rejoyce,) yet in many others to mourne this day for our Mother. Yea let our hearts rise against these vile monsters that joyne with a Malignant party to bring such woefull confusion and trouble even to our Mother. We may say to them justly as Saul said unto Ionathan passionat∣ly, You children of the rebellious and perverse, why have you chosen to joyne with them for the confusion of your Mothers nakednesse. Let us do what we can to help. Shall we see her bowells torne and not stirre at all? She calleth now to us to come and help her, and let us know that if it go ill with her, it cannot go well with us.
Page 210 If the Mothers breast thorough some incurable disease must be cut off, the tender Father takes away the children and will not suffer them to be∣hold the torture of their Mother; Who knows but that this hath been Gods end in taking away his deare children in former times, because hee would not have their tender hearts to see so much sorrow and evill as should befall their Mother? And what God hath reserved us to see in the sufferings of our Mother we do not know. Howsoever let not her suffer by us, let not her suffer for want of our help, let not her suffer without us, let not us be so unnaturall as to be every one shifting for himselfe, for the private and parti∣cular, neglecting the publicke, the community, neglecting our Mother that should be as deare to us as the bowels out of which we came.
She hath done shamefully. VVe should have the affections of children to her though she hath done shamefully. [ 1]
But further, Here you have the amplification of her whoredomes, shee hath plaid the harlot, and so plaid as she hath done shamefully: The latter end of the verse is by way of probation of this amplification, for how doth it appeare she hath done shamefully? for she hath said, I will goe after my lovers, &c. For the first then, this amplification of her whoredome, her whoredome is such as is shamefull, Hence first observe.
That sinne,* but especially whoredome is a shamefull thing. Pro. 13. 5. A wicked man is loathsome, and commeth to shame: Pro. 14. 34. Sinne is a reproach to a nation, or to any people; Sinne of its owne nature let it bee what it will be, it is shamefull: Much more then whoredome, to play the harlot, for all sinne doth drowne a man, it brings him beneath the excellency of a man, it is contrary to the image of God in man, to that wherein true honor, beauty, glory doth consist. It makes men vile. I will give you but one Text for it, Dan, 11. 21. And there shal arise a vile person. Who was that? It was according to interpreters, Antiochus Epiphanes, the great King of Assyria, and yet a vile person. Josephus tells us that the Samaritans when they were in danger of suffering from him because he thought them to be Jewes, they wrote to him in this manner. To Antiochus the mighty God; and his very Epithet, Epiphanes, is as much in our English as Illustrious, Antiochus the Illustrious, the famous, bright in his glory: He that was so illustrious and so great a Prince, that was written unto as the mighty God, yet in the Scripture language being wicked he is a vile person.
It is a special note of one that is fit to dwell in Gods Mountain,* of one that is a Saint, Psal. 15. 4. to be able to see the vilenesse of sin thorough all the glory of the world, in whose eyes a vile person is contemned. Sin is a shame because it deceiveth a man, The way of the wicked shall deceive him, What profit have you now of those things where of you are ashamed? It is a good signe of grace to be able to see into the deceits of sinne, so as to be ashamed of it. But though all sin be shamefull, yet whoredome especially, and that either bodily or spiritual.
First bodily, the expression of shamefulnesse though especially it aymeth Page 211 at their Idolatry, yet it hath its rise from bobily whoredome, if that were not shamefull, the expression could not be full; that she had played the har∣lot, and done shamefully, Pro. 6. 32. Whoso committeth adultery with a woman, lacketh understanding, he that doth it destroyeth his own soul; a wound and dishonour shall he get, and his reproach shall not be wiped away. It makes one to be as one of the fooles in Israel. And I (saith Tamer when Amnon defiled her) whether shall I cause my shame to go? and as for thee thou shalt be as one of the fooles in Israel. 2 Sam. 13. 13. Amnon though a Kings sonne, though a brave gallant, yet by his uncleannesse he makes him∣selfe as one of the fooles in Israel, Deut. 23. 18. Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, nor the price of a dogge into the house of the Lord; they are joyned both together, for Scripture language makes those to be doggs who are uncleane and filthy. When Ishbosheth charged Abner with the sinne of uncleannesse, 2 Sam. 3. 8. Am I a dogs head, saith he, that thou chargest me with a fault concerning this woman? Many Adulterers goe very fine and spruce, many young wantons are bravely drest, but in Gods esteeme they are as dogges thorough their uncleanness. It is not a harsher title then the spirit of God gives them. I have read of a people amongst the heathen that condemned this sinne with death, and with a shamefull death according to the nature of the sinne, the death was this, they would have the adulterers or adulteresses head to be put into the paunch of a beast, where lay all the filth and uncleannesse of it, and there to be stifled to death, a punishment fit for so filthy a sinne. And as this sin is ever shamefull, so especially the more lovely any yoke fellow is that is forsaken, and the more vile and fowle the whore is, so much the more shamefull is the sin: Athenaeus bringes in Pla∣to, bewayling himself in his own condition, that he was taken so much with a filthy whore. It is more shamefull for Christians then for heathens, because they know that the covenant of mariage is the covenant of God, as Pro. 2. 17.
But further, corruption in Gods worship is most shamefull, for that is aymed at especially here. The shamefulness of corrupting the worship of God is exprest in that most famous Text we have for this purpose. Exod. 32. 25. Aaron made the people naked unto their shame, how was that, but by false worship though it was of the true God? In false worship, there is shame because in that a man subjects his conscience to vile things.
Conscience that is not to be subject to any creature, only unto God him∣selfe is here made subject to low and vile things. Indeed it is not shamefull to subject our consciences to God in the use of creatures though never so meane appointed by himselfe, but those that doe subject unto creatures in wayes of false worship not appointed by God, subject not their consciences to God but unto those creatures, and that is shamefull.
In false worship though there may seeme to be a great deale of humility, yet there is notorious pride and presumption,* and therefore much shame.
For a creature to take upon him by his owne fancie and conceit to raise up creatures higher then ever God hath raised them, to put higher respects up∣on Page 212 creatures then ever God hath done, this is boldnesse and presumption, yea to presume so far as by his owne fancy and conceit, to raise up the crea∣ture so high as that God himself according to the humors of men must come to be nearer men, and to be more present with these creatures then other∣wise he would. Thus men presume to bring God to be under their fancies, and is not this shamefull.
Further it is extreame folly, for we contradict our selves when we thinke to honour God and yet goe against him, when wee put high esteeme upon such things as are abominable and detestable. Marke that excellent Scrip∣ture for this, Ierem. 44. 4. I sent unto you all my servants the Prophets, rising early and sending them, saying, O doe not this abominable thing that I hate. Marke, God cryeth out with a kinde of shrieke, all my servants the Prophets I sent, saying, O doe not this abominable thing; It is a delight∣full thing 〈◊〉 your eyes, but abominable in Gods. And Ezek. 22. 3. they are called by a word that signifieth the very excrements that come out of a man they glory in them,* but he saith, they defile themselves by them.
When God opens their eyes they will see false worship a shamefull thing, and when they doe so, God will shew them the Excellency of his own.
You have an excellent Scripture for this, Ezek. 43. 10. 11. Sonne of man shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their ini∣quities, and if that they be ashamed of all that they have done, that is, of all their false worship, what then? Then shew them the forme of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the commings in thereof, and all the formes thereof, and all the Lawes thereof, and all the Ordinances thereof, and write it in their sight that they may keepe the whole for me thereof, and all the ordinances thereof and doe them.
Marke my brethren, you see how God standeth much upon formes, all the formes thereof, and the forme thereof: Let not us slightly account of any thing in Gods worship, of circumstances for God standeth much upon his own forme in his own worship. Many who have no Religion but a forme, yet neglect Gods forme. Men love to stand much upon their owne forms, let them know God stands much upon his formes, and it is no hinderance but a furtherance to the power of Religion to keep close to Gods forme, and if we would come to know what are Gods Ordinances (we cry out, O that we could but know what is the right way) this is one way for you to know: First, be ashamed of what you have done, be ashamed of your former false worship, and then God will shew you the Ordinances of his House, and the true beauty of his true worship: till then there are so many distinctions, and evasions, and objections that they never come to understand it: when God humbleth the heart, and makes ashamed of what hath been naught be∣fore, all the distinctions, and evasions, and objections vanish away as the mist before the sunne.
And the more excellent the Lord is, and those Ordinances are from which we doe depart, the more shamefull is that ••lse worship that our hearts doe decline unto.
Page 213She hath done shamefully, why? she hath forsaken such a husband, she hath forsaken the Lord JESUS CHRIST who is so lovely, she hath forsaken the blessed Ordinances that God hath appointed,* and turned her selfe to vanities of her owne. Cant, 5. 16. Christ is there said to be altogether lovely, there is lovlinesse enough in Christ to satisfie the soul for ever. And Ezek. 7. 20. As for the beauty of his ornament (speaking of Gods Ordinances in his Temple) hee set it in Majesty, but they made the images of their abominations, and of their detestable things therein.
Oh how shamefull was this! This sheweth the shamefulnesse of it, be∣cause God set the beauty of his ornament in Majesty. The Ordinances of God that he appointed himselfe, they are Gods ornament they are the beau∣ty of his ornament, they are the beauty of his ornament set in Majesty; and shall these beautifull glorious things be forsaken, for vanities of our own in∣ventions? This is shamefull.
She hath done shamefully for she hath said thus and thus; Here is im∣plyed, that the thing done was not onely shamefull, but that she was shame∣lesse in that she had done. She hath played the harlot, and done shameful∣ly, for she hath said, &c.
From hence the Observation is,
Sinne,* especially whoredome either bodily or spirituall, being let alone to grow to a height, will growe to an impudencie; those that continue in these, will grow not onely to doe shamefully, but to be shamelesse in their doings, Ier. 6. 15. Were they ashamed they committed abomination? No, they were not all ashamed, neither could they blush. At first sin may seeme to be a little shame-faced, but afterward it growes brazen-faced; modest a little at the first, but bold, and impudent, and daring afterward. True, in∣deed if men should be told before-hand what they would doe afterward, they would be ready to say as Hazael to the Prophet, Am I a dead dog that I should do this? Their hearts would even shake at the thought of it: yet when sinne hath hardned their hearts but a while, they will doe it, and that with open face too. Whoredome you know at first, it is that that eve∣ry man blusheth at, but within a while, uncleane ones can make their boast of their filthynesse, But especially spirituall whoredome, the corruption of Gods worship at first may be a little modest, but see to what a height it growes if in time this be not prevented. I will give you a notable example of this, and that is of Solomon himselfe. At the first we shall finde Solomon very modest in the matter of Idolatry. 2 Chron. 8. 11. the Text saith there, that he brought up the daughter of Pharaoh out of the City of David to the house he had built for her, for he said, My wife shall not dwell in the house of David King of Israel, why? because the places are holy whereunto the Arke of the Lord hath come. Marke how carefull Solomon was of any pol∣lution, of any thing that had any seeming holinesse in it; My wife shall not so much as dwell in the house of David, I have so much respect to the Arke of God, to the worship of God, to those places that are holy that my wife Page 214 shall not so much as dwell there; But oh what did Solomon grow unto af∣terward• he suffered Idolatry most shamefully, as we shall finde 1 King. 11. 5. there the Text saith, that he went after Ash•oreth the goddesse of the Zid•nians, and after Mileom the abomination of the Amorites, and built a high place for Ch•mosh the abomination of Moa• in the hill that is be∣fore Jerusalem, just there he built it too, as if it had been in defiance to the Temple of God and his true worship, and that for Molech the abomina∣tion of the children of Amm••; and thus he did saith the Text, ver. 8. for all his strange wives which burnt incense, and sacrificed unto their gods.
This shamefulnesse he was grown unto▪ And thus we see it in experience; how faire are men in their wayes of superstition at first? At first it is one∣ly decency, that is all they plead for; well, afterward it riseth from decency to significancy, that is a little higher, to put them in minde. Thirdly, from significancy it riseth to efficacy, to stirre up the dull mind of man: Fourth∣ly, from efficacy, it riseth to necessity, that now it must be done, and the worship of God cannot be without it, and there shall be no ordinance, no administration at all without it. Decency, significancy, efficacy, and ne∣cessity, thus it riseth to be shamefull at last. So amongst the Papists in their traditions,* surely at first only they would come with this argument, What, will you not regard them as you would doe other bookes and other Histo∣ries? they are the traditions of our fore-fathers; but at length they came to this, in the fourth Sexion of the Councell of Trent, the Synod doth take & honour the bookes of the old and new Testament, and the traditions of the Fathers, with equal• affection of piety and reverence as they doe them. To this shamefulnesse they grew to at last. And so for worshipping of Ima∣ges, why, it is it for the decency of Churches to have them, and they are but to put you in minde at the most; but at length they came to this, these are the very words, the same honour is due to the Image and to the Exemplar.
Lastly, from this amplification that she hath done shamefully; VVhen men doe grow shamelesse, impudent in evil, there is little hope of them.
I will have no mercy upon them, Why? For they have done thus, they are grown thus impudent. It is a good thing to keepe the bridle of shame as long as we can upon our children and servants, and any of our inferiours▪ therefore take this one instruction with you, be not too ready to rebuke and chastise your servants, your children, in reproachfull manner before others, left you bring them to that, that they shall see they have no honour to lose, and then there is little hope of them: Evermore keep such a hand over your children and servants as they may see they have some respect to lose,* that they may not be so ashamed by you, as for them to thinke they cannot be worse, they cannot be more disgraced, there is no such way to bring them to grow desperate as that is. It is very great wisedome in Governours to keepe the bridle of shame still, and not to let those raines goe, and this is the reason that your Bride-well or Goale-birds seldome or never come to good, why? because they have no bridle to keepe them in, they have lost Page 215 all their honour and they can lose no more, and there is no rational creature but would have honour, there is not the meanest servant you have but hath a kinde of respect to honour, and that will doe more then blows except they be grown to be very beasts.
But how doth he prove that it is shamefull? Thus, For she hath said, I will go after my lovers that give me my bread and my water, my wooll and my flaze, mine oyle and my drinke.
For she hath said: Hence first. Deliberate sins are most shamefull sinnes.
This is a proofe of her shamefulnesse, because that which she hath done she hath done upon deliberation,* she said she would do thus and thus, she con∣sidered before what she would doe, and yet she would doe it. Wickednesse committed de industria, ex consilio, of purpose resolved upon, this is very shamefull. Gal. 6. 1. It is said of Godly men that they may be overtaken with a fault: If a man be overtaken with a fault. It is one thing to be over∣taken with a sinne,* and another thing to overtake a sinne; a gracious heart may have sinne overtake it, but it is a shamelesse heart that overtakes sinne.
Secondly, She hath said I will goe. Whoredome either bodily or spiri∣tuall is usually very wilfull: as if she had said, let all the Prophets say what they can, let them talke out their hearts, I will have my minde, I will follow my lovers still. Thus it is with bodily whoredome. Those who are guilty of this usually grow extreame wilfull. Prov. 2. 19. None that goe unto her return again;*neither take they hold of the paths of life: It is a most dreadfull Scripture against all adulerers & unclean ones, There is none, saith the Text, make it out how you will, there is none that goe unto her return a∣again; neither take they hold of the paths of life, those are the words of the Holy Ghost, I leave the words with you. So Pro. 23. 27. A whore is a deepe ditch, and astrange woman is a narrow pit: they cannot easily get out, nor will they easily get out they are so▪ plunged in, 2 Pet. 2. 14. Eyes full of a∣dultery that cannot cease to sinne: why cannot they cease to sinne? it is not because they have a heart but no power, but their wills is brought into that bondage and subjection that they cannot will otherwise: therefore Ezek. 47. 11. wee finde that though the waters of the Sanctuary were very heal∣ing, yet saith the Text, the miry places and the maershes were not healed, miry, filthy, uncleane hearts are very seldome healed by the waters of the Sanctuary,* I remember AElian reporteth that there was a whore that did boast that she could easily get scholars away from Socrates, but Socrates could get no scholar from her, none of her followers. It is true, that a whore is prevalent, and when she hath once gotten them it is almost impossible to get them away from her. Therefore that place Heb. 6. that speakes of that sinne that is impossible to have repent anoe, Tertullian interprets it to be no other but the sinne of uncleannesse: The Author of this Epistle (saith hee) knew no promise of second repentance to the adulterer and fornicator; that is his expression, shewing how ordinarily those that are guilty of that sinne and are given up to it, grow wilfull in it: And therefore in Ephes. 4. 19, Page 216 these two are put together, being past feeling, and having given themselves over to laciviousness and want onness, wantons usually grow past feeling.
And for spirituall adultery, that usually is very wilfull too, for those that are left by God to that way of false worship,* to Superstition and Idolatry, they seldome returne againe but grow exceeding wilfull in that wickedness.
You have a notable Text for that, Jer. 44. 16. 17. the people say there, The word that thou hast spoken to us in the name of the Lord we will not heare, but we well doe whatsoever commeth out of our own mouth, to burn incense to the Queen of Heaven. VVee will goe on in that way to burne Incense to the Queene of heaven talk as long as you will.
And so you have it Jerem. 20. 10. Goe (saith God) passe over the Isles of Chitrim, and see, and send unto Kedar, and consider deligently, and see of there be such athing; Hath a nation changed their gods, which yet are no gods? Men are setled in the wayes of Idolatry, and will never give o∣ver the worshipping of their gods; but you have forsaken me: therefore be astonished O ye heavens at this, and be ye horribly afraid, be ye very de∣solate, saith the Lord. So Micah. 4. 5. All people will walke every one in the name of his god: Their hearts are set upon it, they will doe it.
Spirituall whoredome doth mightily besot the heart. I suppose you know the sext, it is a very famous one, Esay 44. 19. 20. None considereth in his heart, neither is there knowledg nor understanding to say, I have burnt part of i• in the fire, yea also I have baked bread upon the coales thereof, I have rosted flesh and eaten it, and shall I make the residue thereof an abomina∣••? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree? He feedeth on ashes, a seduced heart hath •urned him aside that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand. And so Rev. 16. 11. where, those that were gi∣ven up to Antichrist, though they were tormented, they blasphemed the God of heaven, because of their pains and their sores, and they repented not of their deeds.
Thirdly,* wilfulnesse in any sinne, but especially in these sinnes, is a very great aggravation of it: I will have no mercy upon them, I will give them up, why? They have done shamefully, and they have said, I will goe after my lovers. There are a great many who in their passion think it a brave spi∣rit to say, I will, and I will, and I will, and I care not, say what you can, or whatsoever becommeth of it I will doe, or I will have this and this: Espe∣cially men in place and of estates are not able to endure the controlling of their will in any thing, and therefore when their wills are but crost, they burst out into outragious speeches, and fall a blaspheeming, and swearing, and saying they will have their wills, though it cost them their lives.
Thus we find it in the people of Israel, 1 Sam. 8. 19, when Samuel from God came and told them in a long narration what hardship they should endure in having a King that was not them according to Gods minde, they 〈◊〉 him all that he said, and they doe not stand to answer any of Samu∣els arguments, but presently they break out into this resolution, Nay, but we will have a King.
Page 217 Those whom God leaveth to hardnesse of heart, and intendeth ruine to, he usually giveth them up to this wilfulnesse in their evill wayes.
The Scripture records Pharaoh for a famons example of one hardned and prepared for ruine. He was of a most wilfull spirit. Exod. 15. 9. you shall find his wilfulnesse expressed foure times there in that one verse, I will pursue, saith he; and then again, I will overtake, and thirdly, I will divide the spoile; and then fourthly, I will draw my sword: and there are two o∣ther expressions that come to the same effect, that are equivalent to the for∣mer even in the same verse, My lust shall be satisfied, my hand shall destroy them. Put all these six expressions that you have in that one verse, together, and where have you such an expression of a wilfull creature as Pharaoh was? and what became of him you all know.
Only one more example I find in Scripture paralleld to this, and that is the King of Babylon; Egypt and Babylon were two the most eminent for Ido∣latry and persecution of the Church that ever were in the world, and these are the two most famous examples for wilfulnesse that ever were, Esa. 14. 13, 14▪ you have in these two verses five times I will. 1. I will ascend in∣to heaven. 2. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. 3. I will si• upon the mount. 4. I will ascend above the heights. 5. I will be like the most high. And what became of him afterwards you all know, yea the next wo•ds tell you, Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, &c.
These two little words, [I] and [Will] doe a great deale of misch•efe in the world. Luther I remember npon Psal. 127. saith, I am of that opinion, saith he,* and verily perswaded, Monarchies would longer time by farre en∣dure, if those that are high Monarchs and States would but omit this one Pronoun, I, this same Ego. It is true, in publique wayes they express them∣selves in the plurall number, We, but private resolutions are in the singular number, I. This for that little word, I.
The second is Will, I will, that is a little word too; But I may say of this little Will, this little word, as James saith concerning the Tongue, It is in∣deed a little member in the body, but it setteth the whole world on fire, and it selfe is set on fire of hell. So it is true that this same little Will it is but a little word, but it setteth whole Kingdomes on fire, it setteth whole Townes and Cities on fire, and it is it selfe s•ton fire of hell, Bernard hath an ex∣pression, Take away Will once, and there will be no hell. O the mischiefe that it doth in the world! I will only say these two things to those that keepe such ado with these two little words, I, Will.
First, That which thou dost so much pride thy selfe in, and thinkest thy selfe such a man that canst say, I will and I will, know, It may be as heavy a judgement of God upon thee as can befall thee in this world, for God to give thee up to thy will.*
There is nothing wherein God doth more let out his wrath upon the chil∣dren of men here in this world, then in this, in giving them up to their will. Therefore tremble at this when thou hast so many expressions, I will and IPage 218 will doe this. I will give you a Scripture or two for it, sutable to the busi∣nesse: shevving the wilfulnesse of those that had their will in wayes of false worship, perhaps some of you may be set upon this, that you will have this, and let men say what they can, you will have this used: The place is, Ezek. 20. 39. Goe (saith God) serve yee every one his idols, and hereafter also, if you will not hearken unto me. Goe, saith hee, you will not hearken to me, you heare out of the word what should be the way of my worship in the purity of it, oh say you, that is novelty, a new thing, and you will not have it thus,* you answer not any arguments, but you cast it off, and say, you will not have it, wel saith God, go and serve your idols, if you will not heare me, if you beset upon your will, go and serve your idols, and take your fill of your own wayes. And Psal. 81. 11. My people would not hearken to my voyce, Israel would have none of me, they were all upon their will, they would not, and they would not: Marke what followeth, so I gave them up unto their owne hearts lusts, and they walked in their owne counsels. You will have your owne counsels, and your own will, and so God giveth you up to them, and then woe to you, you are undone.
Secondly, you that are set upon your wils in that which is evil, know God is and will be as wilful toward you as you can be toward him. Marke that notable Text, Jer. 44. 25. that setteth out the notorious height of wicked∣nesse that was in the people of those times who were so wilfull, You and your wives have both spoken with your mouths, & fulfilled with your hand that which is evill, you vvill not say onely you will doe it, but will doe it indeed. Well saith God, you have done so, you have both spoken with your mouths, and fulfilled with your hands, saying, We will surely perform the vowes wee have vowed, we have vowed it, and we will do it, we have vowed to burne incen use to the Queen of heaven, and to pour out drinke-offerings unto her; you will surely accomplish your vowes, and surely performe your vowes; you will goe on in your false wayes of worship; mark what followeth in vers. 26. Therefore heare ye the word of the Lord, I have sworn saith the Lord, you have vowed, and I have sworne, I have sworne by my great Name, that my Name shall no more be named in the mouth of any man of Judah, in all the land of Egypt: and vers. 27. Behold, saith God, I will watch o∣ver you for evill, and not for good, and all the men of Judah that are in the land of Egypt shall be confirmed by the sword and by the famine untill there be an end of them. God will be as resolute as you for your hearts, as the stoutest sinner that liveth: you will, and God will, who shall have their will think you? Answer to this you stout hearted that are farre from God, answer to this you stout children, and stout servants, and stout wives, you will and you will. A wilfull man never wanteth woe. If you will be resolute in any thing, my brethren, be resolute in that which is good, be resolute in the work of repentance: say with David, Psal. 32. I will confesse my sins, indeed I had many thoughts to come and shame my selfe, and open all un∣to God, but I could not get it off, at length I grew resolute, and said I willPage 219 and I have sworne to keepe thy righteous Precepts; and as they Mic. 4. we will walke in the name of the Lord our God; and as Joshua, I and my Louse will serve the Lord, doe you what you will, wee are resolute that wee will serve the Lord. This is a blessed wilfulnesse indeed. Oh that 〈◊〉•outnesse and wilfulnesse of many people might be turned to this resolution for God and for his truth! especially carry this note home with you, you that have had such often expressions of your will, you will and you will, and turn it un∣to the willing of that which is good, I will follow my lovers, sayes the Apo∣state, from God; I will follow my Beloved, who is altogether lovely, let e∣very gracious soul say.
Fourthly, For she said: She profest what she would do. Profest sinnes are shamefull sins. It is an evill for sin to lye lurking in any ones heart, but for sin to breake out into open profession, this certainly is a great evil: This is to prove that she had done shamefully,* because she said she would doe so and so. There is a great deceite in the hearts of many men, they are ready to say, I were as good say so as thinke so, I say so, and perhaps others think so, it were as good for me to speake it as to keepe it in my heart. My bre thren there are two deceits in this kind of speaking.
First you suppose that when you speak so, that therefore it is not in your heart, and you make this comparison of what is in other mens hearts, and in your mouthes, as if the evil were in your mouthes onely, and in their hearts onely, as if the comparison lay thus, they think and doe not speak, and you speak and doe not thinke. Here is the deceit, for if you speake you have it in your hearts too, you both speak and think, for so the Scripture telleth us, that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh; if you speak malici∣ously you have a malicious heart, if you speake uncleanly, you have an un∣cleane heart, if oathes be in your mouthes, you have a profane heart.
Secondly, here lyeth the deceit, as if you should have lesse in your heart because you vent it; as your passionate people will say, I were as good vent my minde and then I shall be quiet. Thou deceivest thy selfe; the venting of the corruption that lyeth in thy heart will never lessen it but increase it.
It is not with the corruption of our hearts, as it is with liquor in a vessell, that the more is let out the lesse is within it; but as it is with a fire in a house, that when it is kindled within and burstech out, there is not lesse within be∣cause it bursteth out, no, the more it bursteth out and flames, the more still b•rneth within: and as it is with water in a fountain, when it bursteth out of the fountain, there is never a whit the lesse water in the fountain, it may rather have the lesse by stopping, and fire may be lessened by smothering. Know therefore that professed wickedness it is aggravated wickednesse. It is true, secret sins may be more dangerous in regard of the cure, but they are more abominable to God in regard of the open dishonour that is done to him by them. The aggravation of the blood that was shed by the people, that God speakes of, Ezek. 24. 7. it is set out thus, The bloud that was shed, saith the text, it was not poured upon the ground to cover it with dust, that it might notPage 220 cause fury to come up to take vengeance, you did not conceale the blood, you did not cover it, but set it upon the top of a rock; what then? Not being co vere•, but being professed and lad open, this did cause fury to come up with vengea••• against them, Gods anger would have been against them if they had shed blood though they had covered it; but to shed blood & not to co∣ver it, it causeth the fury of the Lord to come with vengeance. So you know he saith in that place of Isa. Chap. 3. 9. They declared their sin as Sodome, and hid it not: Woe unto her soul, saith he, woe unto them when they shall presume to declare their sin as Sodome. And as I said before, God will be as wilfull in punishing a sinner, as a sinner is wilfull insinning; so here God will be as professed in plauging, as thou shalt be professed in sinning for thy heart. That you shall see in that forenamed place of Ezek. they did not co∣ver the blood, well marke it, saith the Text, I have set her bloud upon the top of the rock that it should not be covered; Woe therefore to the bloody City, I will even make the pile for fire great, &c. I will be as profest in my plagues and punishments as you are profest in your sins.
My brethren,* if we will be profest in any thing, let us be professed in that which is good, let us do that as openly as we can, 2 Cor. 9. 13. the text saith there that God is glorified for their professed subjection to the Gospel, for their subjection of profession, so the words are. It is not enough for to sub∣ject to the Gospel, but there must be a professed subjection to it: therefore Rom. 10. 10. Confession with the mouth is there made as necessary to sal∣vation as beleeving with the heart, they are put together. There may be times that confession may be called for as well as beleeving, and as necessa∣ry to salvation. I remember I have reade of one Gordius a martyr, who when his friends came to him, and would have him keepe his heart to him∣selfe, & only with his mouth to deny what in his heart he beleeved was true, Oh no saith he,* it is fit for my mouth that was made for God should speake for God: And Zwinglius is of the opinion that we may even as well wor∣ship the Altar of Jupiter or Venus as hide our faith and profession when we live uuder Antichrist, such a speech he hath. The way to honour Religion & bring it into credit, it is for those that are godly to professe what they doe.
I knew once one that was noble both in birth and grace, and having to doe oftentimes with those of his ranke, greatones, that would be scorning at Religion under the name of putirrnisme, he would usually take this course, when he was to come into such company he would begin himselfe & owne himselfe to be one of those that they called a Puritan, and so he prevented them, and by that meanes prevented much sin in them, and much scorne of Religion by thus owning of it. It is certain, that the best way for the hono∣ring of Religion it for every one to owne it, though there be ignominous termes put upon it. If ever we were called to profession of what we doe be∣leeve, we are now called to it in these dayes. Certainly God professeth for us, God doth not onely respect us, but he doth professedly, he doth it open∣ly, Page 221 in the eyes before the faces of our adversaries. Let us not onely have God in our hearts, but professe his name openly before the faces of our adver∣saries. It is time now to do it.* It had beenewell if. you had professed here∣tofore when Gods truth called for it. It may be many of you may be found to be guilty in betraying the truth of God for professing no sooner then you did, but however betray it not now for want of profession, be willing now to professe of what party you are, that as wee reade of Jonah Chapter 9. when he was in the storme, and the marriners awaking he saith unto them, I am an Hebrew that feare the God of heaven, which made the sea and the dry land, and so he goeth on in making an open profession of himselfe.
My brethren, if we be not in a present storme, yet the clouds grow black, therefore awake you sluggards, you that are secure awake out of your secu∣rity, and now professe what you are, I am an Hebrew that feare God, whatsoever they talke of such and such men under such ignominious terms and titles, I am one of them, and I am willing to appeare so.
Many times you will be like Nichodemus you will come to JESUS by night, you are affraid to be seene: You would give in money to the Parli∣ment, and help to forward that worke God hath in hand, but onely you are affraid to be seene. I know there may be possibly some occasion to keepe some men in from appearing, but not many, the cases are very rare; Ordi∣narily, certainly it is not enough to do it, but to doe it professedly, let it bee declared who you are, and what side you take,
She said I will goe after my lovers.
If you say we live in wicked and evil times, it is dangerous to appeare, I may not onely keepe my heart right, but I will doe as much as another, but why should I appeare?
The worse the times are,* the more thou shouldest appeare. Mark. 8. 38 Whosoever shal be ashamed of me in this adulterous generation, of him shal the Son of man be ashamed when he commeth in the glory of his Father, with his holy Angels, If the generation were holy, it were nothing to appeare, not to be ashamed or affraid; but wee must not be either ashamed or af∣fraid in the midst of an adulterous generation. 2. Why should wickedness have this advantage, that it dares appeare, but godlinesse dares not?
3. If all should reason as you doe, what would become of the Cause? why should others venture themselves more then you? What is your flesh, your estate, your liberty more then theirs?
4. You must appeare for examples sake, to provoke others. This is a duty as well as any. 5. If the adversaries prevaile, they will finde you out, except you meane to give up your consciences to them, and then you will escape no more then others; to be sure you will not have so much peace as others who have most appeared. Fifthly, I will follow after my lovers,
Who are they? Either first they who they were in association withall, as the Egyptians and the Assyrians, (and so I finde some Interpre∣ters carry it) or thef•Idols, and that is especially aymed at, but the Page 222 the other may beare an Observation, and perhaps both may be included.
It is a dangerous thing, very sinfull and vile for the people of God to joyne in aff••ciation with Forraigners that are of a different Religion,* to think to have help from them. The people of God, Jer. 42. were set upon this, to have their association with Egypt, and they could not be brought from it; and if you read that Story, it will appear to be very vile and dange∣rous; they seemed to yeeld unto God, that they would doe what hee would have them, and they would not goe into Egypt if he forbade it; but in Chap. 43. when Ieremiah had told them the mind of God, that they should con∣tinue in the land of Iudah, and not goe down into Egypt, Then spake A∣zariah, and Joha•an, and all the proud men, saying unto seremiah, Thou speakest falsly, the Lord hath not sent thee to say, Goe not into Egypt to sojourn there. They are loth to break off their association with Egypt. I remember Gwalter in his Comment upon Hosea, though not upon this Text, telleth a story of the Grecian Churches, that in the yeare 1438. be∣cause they were afraid of the Turks breaking in upon them, they sent to the Bishop of Rome, that they would be under his subjection, meerly that they might have the help of the Latine Churches to keep them from the rage and tyrannie of their adversaries; but within a few yeares they were destroyed, Constantinople and the Empire were subdued, so as Heathenisme and A∣theisme prevailed, and this is the fruit saith hee of seeking the association of others in a sinfull way. But because this is not the chi•• thing that is aimed at we passe it by.
She said she would goe after her Lovers,* that is, her Idols. What those were we shall see by and by.
Idolaters use to keepe good thoughts of their Idols. They call them their Lovers, they look upon their Idols as those that love them; and hence they used to call them Baalim, from Baal, a husband. So it should be the care of the Saints, evermore to keep good thoughts of God, to look upon God as their Lover, as one that tendereth their good. Idolaters doe so to their Idols, shall not the Saints do so to the true God? My brethren, let us not be ready to entertain hard thoughts of God, it is a dangerous thing. Gods great care is to manifest to us, and to all the world that he loveth us, and he hath done much to manifest to us here in England,* and to our brethren of Scotland, that he loveth us and them. In Revel. 3. 9. the Text saith of the Church of Philadelphia, that God loved them. Forty yeares ago Master Brightman interpreted that Text of the Church of Scotland; Philadelphia signifieth as much as brotherly love: You know how they are joyned in Covenant one with another, and wee see that those that said they were Iewes, they were the Church, the Church, but proved themselves to be of the Synagogue of Satan, are forced to bow before them; and if they were not madde with malice, they must needs acknowledge that God hath loved that Church. And since God hath done great things for us, to manifest that he is the lo∣ver of England, let us then keep good thoughts of God.
Page 223 Seventhly, Idolaters highly prize the love of their Idols. They do not on∣ly maintain good thoughts of their Idols, or thinke that their Idols are their lovers,* but they set a price upon them, they said I will follow my lovers, I must make account of their love, they must doe me good for ought I know more then any thing you speak of.
It is true both of bodily whoredom and spirituall whoredom, I will one∣ly make use of one Scripture to daunt the heart of whore-masters and un∣cleane wretches that so much prize the love of their whores and whore-ma∣sters. You prize their love, but what get you by it? you get Gods hatred by it. You rejoyce that you have the love of your whores, and upon that God hateth and abhorreth you. Marke that good you will say. Thus, Pro. 22. 14. The mouth of a strange woman is a deepe pi•, he that is abhorred of the Lord shall fall therein. What get you by this? your whores imbrace you, and God abhorres you. If there be any whore-master, any unclean wretch in this Congregation, either thou art an A•heist or this text must strike thee at thy heart. Art thou in that way and yet not repenting, thou art the man that this day God tells thee to thy face, that he abhorres thee.
But how then should wee prize the love of JESUS CHRIST our husband? Cant. 1. 4. The remembrance of thy love is better then wine.
The Church prizeth the love of JESUS CHRIST more then men in the world prize their delight in wine.* And my brethren doe you prize Christs love, and Christ will prize yours, and that is observable, according to the degree and way of your prizing Christs love, so Christ will prize your love. Cant. 4 18. you have there the same expression of Christs love to his Church, answerable to what hers was before, Thy love is better then wine saith the Church to Christ, How much better is thy love then wine? saith Christ to the Church:
Eightly, I will follow my lovers. In bodily and spirituall whoredome there is a following hard after those things they commit whoredome with∣all.* I will follow them and not onely say they are my lovers, but I will expresse it by following of them. The heart of whore-masters and Idola∣ters do follow hard after their uncleannesse in bodily and spirituall filthy∣nesse.
First for bodily filthyness, observe whore-masters how they follow their lovers, Josephus in his Antiquities tells us this strange story of one Decius Mundus, that offered to give so many hundred thousand Drachmies, that came to six thousand pound English money to satisfie his lust one night with a whore, yet could not obtaine his desire neither. Will not you be content now who have been guilty of spending a great part of your estate, in a way of uncleannesse, now to doe as much for Religion, for God, and Christ, and his Kingdome, as ever you have done for your whores? If there should be any in this place that have beene profuse for their uncleannesse, and yet now are strait handed in these publike affaires, such as these are fitter to be taken out of Christian congregations, and to be shut up in slies.
Page 224 For spirituall whoredome, I shall shew you how superstitious and Idola∣trous people as they prize their idols, so they follow hard after their lovers.
You know that story of the children of Israel when the Calfe was to be set up, upon proclamation all the men and women tooke off their ear-rings and their jewels, and brought them to Aaron to make the Calfe. What a shame will it be to us if we should keepe our eare-rings, and our jewels, and things perhaps that have not seene the sunne a great while, that we should keepe them now when God calleth for them! Let women do that for God & his truth, for your own liberties & posterities that they did for their Idols.
Though you have care-rings, and jewels, and rings that you prize much, yet let them be given up to this publicke cause. And it were a shame that gold-rings should be kept meerly to adorn the fingers when the Church and State is in such necessity as it is. Away with your niceties now and your fineness and bravery, and look to necessities, and to the preservation of the lives and liberties both of your selves and your children, If you should see a malignant party come with their spheares and pikes, and your children sprawling upon the toppes of them, and their blood gushing out, what would your gold-rings, what would all your niceties and braver doe you good?
I will give you for this (because it is a point of such concernment) foure notable expressions in Scripture about Idolaters eagerness and earnestness of spirit in following after their Idols.
The first is Isa, 57. 5. The Text saith there, that they were inflamed af∣ter their Idols, they were on fire after them.
The second is, Jer. 50. 38. They were madde upon their Idols.
Thirdly, You have a text more sutable to that I am speaking of; It is Isa 46. 6. it is said there, that they did lavi•h gold out of the bagga. They did not onely give their gold rings that were of no use, and part with that which they could well spare, but they did lavish gold that was in the bagge: they would not onely bring some of it, but they did lavish it, for so the word is; and they lavished not their silver but their gold, and that not a piece or two out of a paper, but out of the bagge, they brought their bagges of gold, and did lavish gold out of them, and this they did for their Idols, Oh what a shame is it then that any should be penurious, and not come off full in the publicke cause of the Church and Common-wealth?
The fourth Text is Jerem. 8. 2. and there we have five expressions toge∣ther of the pursuance of the heart of Idolaters after their Idols, the like wee have not in all the booke of God in one verse. Speaking of their Idols. First he saith, whom they have loved. Secondly, whom they have served. Third∣ly, after whom they have walked. Fourthly, whom they have sought. And Fifthly, whom they have worshipped: and all this in this one verse, O how are the hearts of people set upon the wayes of Idolatry! I remem∣ber Cambden reports of a King of England, Canutus, that spent as much upon one crosse, a• the revenues of the Crowne came unto in a whole yeer, Page 225 he was so profuse in charges about his superstitious vanities.
Master Calvin in a Sermon of his upon that Text seeke ye my face, hath this expression. Foolish Idolaters when they endure much in their pilgri∣mages spend their money, waste their bodies, and abused in their travail, yet they goe on, and thinke all sufficiently recompenced, if they may see and worship some Image of a Saint or holy relicke: Shall the beholding, saith he, some dead carrion or apish Idol have more power to strengthen them then the face of God in his ordinances shall have to strengthen us?
My lovers that gave me my bread and my water, my wool and my flaxe, mine oyle and my drinke.
What were these Idols? The Idol that gave their bread was Caeres, shee was the goddesse that the Heathens did worship for corne. For their water, Luna, the Moone was the Idol they worshipped for their drinke, and all moist things.* For their wool and flaxe Ashtaroth was their god: And for their oyle Fryapus. The seventy translate that which wee say here wooll, clothes; and that which we say flaxe, they linnen; and they likewise for the fuller expression adde a word or two more, and all other necessary things.
So they, though their Idols gave them all, flaxe, and wool, and hempe and all things. Observe from hence.
Idolaters have a great many idols to supply their severall wants.*My lo∣vers, in the plural number. The idols of the Heathen do not supply all good, but one one thing, and another another thing. And that is the difference be∣tweene the true God and Idols. The excellency of the true God is, that he is an universal good, we have all good, flaxe, and oyle, and bread, and wine, and all in one, in our God, in our lover. And that is the reason that God chalengeth the whole heart. Idols are content with a partiall obedience, be∣cause they are but partiall in bestowing of good things, but God justly re∣quires the whole heart of his worshippers, because he is an universall good to them.
My Lovers that gave me my bread, &c.
Marke, The end that Idolaters ay me at in their worship is very low.
They follow their lovers and are very earnest, for what I pray? for their wool, and their flaxe, and their bread, and their water, their oyle and their drinke. These are the things they aime at; they desire no more, they look no higher, may their flesh be satisfied, give them but-liberty to sport on the Lords day, to have their feasts, their wakes, merry meetings and they care for no more. Their spirits are vile, and accordingly is their worship. There∣fore their worship is external, it is bodily, because their aimes are at exter∣nall and bodily things. As a mans end is, so is a man, either base or honou∣rable. There are many men that cry out as if they aimed at God and Reli∣gion in many things they doe, they make a noise about Religion, and God, and Christ, and his Ordinances, and the publicke good, but the truth is, their aimes are at gaine and credit, and at their wool and their flaxe, and herein they shew the baseness of their spirits, like the lapwings that make a loud Page 226 cry, as if they were come neere their nests, when their neasts are somewhere else.* VVhatever their cry be for God and the publicke good, but if you marke them, their neast is in their wool, in their flax, in their profit in their honour and preferment, in these outward things. But the end of the true wor∣shippers of God is a great deale higher, they soare aloft, there is a spirituall heighth of soule whereby they are raised upwards by the grace of God. A godly mans feete are where a wicked mans head is, that which he account∣eth his chiefe good, a godly man can trample under his feete. He lookes at God himselfe, at his service, he worshippeth the high God: he is a child of Abraham, not Abraham but Abraham, what is the signification of that? Pa∣ter excelsus;* a high Father, for he is the father of children of high spirits, not only of Children that are beleevers, but of those that have high & raised spi∣rits, so Abraham signifieth a high father. Cleopatria told Marcus Antoni∣us, that he was not to fish and angle for gudgeons and trouts, but for Castles, & Forts, and Towns; so I may say of a Christian, he doth not fish & angle, especially in matters of Religion, for wool, and flax, and oile, he hath no such low and base ends, but at God, and Christ, and heaven, and glory, and i∣mortality, he lookes there; he serves God not for these things, hee desires these things, that by them he may be fitted more to serve God. One that hath beene acquainted with the free grace of God in Christ will serve God for himselfe without indenting with him, he will be willing to go into Gods Vineyard, and not indent for a penny a day. You that will indent with God in his service and will have your penny, you who have such low and meane spirits, God may give you your penny and theres an end of you.
But further marke,* there is another observation flowes from hence.
There ends are •ow, they looke no higher then corne, and flaxe, and wooll, and oyle.* Hence it followes, that that way of Religion that men can get most bread, and wool, and flaxe, and oile by, that is the way that most peo∣ple will follow, because the hearts of most people are low and base, and they aime at no higher things. That way of Religion that most estate is got by, that can please the sence, that is the Religion that pleases most people. It is the speech of one Pamchtius an Heathen, Make me a Bishop, saith he, and though I be now a Heathen yet I will bee a Christian as well as any other:* He saw in what pompe the Bishops lived, and by that he thought it was a fine thing to be a Christian. By outward pompe and glory Antichrist draw∣eth many followers, they go where they can have most wool and flaxe, they can get most preferment that way. I remember a story I have read of AE∣neas Silvius, hee observed the reason why the Pope prevailed against the Councel, though it was a general councell, which hee said was above the Pope, though afterwards when he came to be Pope himselfe his minde was changed, but how came it to passe that the Pope alwayes prevailed? this is the reason, saith he, the Pope hath a great many places of preferment and honour to give, the general councel hath none, the general Councel can en∣quire after the truth, and present the word, and can tell what is Gods mind, Page 227 but it hath no honour, no promotion, no preferment to give, therefore alas the general Councel prevailes little; the Pope getteth all, and all because he hath Bishopricks,* and Cardinals places, and livings, and great honours to bestow. Luther in his Comment upon Hosea, and upon this Text tells a notoble story of one that he knew that lived like a Noole man by his many Ecclesiasticall preferments, who when he was at his table, and bread and wine was brought to the table, that was excellent bread and wine, he (point∣ing to it with his finger) said these are the things tha• make me that I can∣not leave this kinde of life, and so after he came to be a Bishop, who had se∣veral Canon-ships before. So certainly these are the arguments that pre∣vaile most in the world, arguments taken from bread, and flaxe, and wool and oyle, are stronger arguments then any taken from the Scripture, then a∣ny thing taken from the honour of the Father, Sonne, and holy Ghost, When men can come with Sauls arguments, 1 Sam. 22. 7. Will the sonne of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, and make you all Captaines of thousands, and Captains of hundreds? what will you follow him? can he prefer-you? O no, he can doe little for you; so I say when men come with this argument, you go along in this way, I pray what will this bring you in? what preferment will you get this way? you may get preserment in the o∣ther way, this drawes, this prevails. It was a speech, not many yeers agoe, in a publicke Commencement at Cambridge, made by the Vice-Chancel∣our, speaking to the young Scholars, wishing them to take heed of being Puritans, what can you get in that way saith he? you shall live poorely, per∣haps you may have some three halfe-penny ben•fice in following that way; but in the other way come to be children of the Church, and then you may be sure to have good benefices, you may come to be Prebends, to be Deans, to be Bishops: Thus he perswaded the young scholars to take heed of Puri∣tanisme. There is a mighty strength in this Argument upon the hearts of most.*
Hence the poverty of Christ is great scandall and offence to most people, when they see that Religion will not bring them flaxe, and wool, and oyle, but that they must live poorely, they scandalize at this exceedingly.
It is reported in the story of Charles the great, that he having war with an heathen King, Aygolandus King of Africa, because this King would make peace with Charles, hee made some profession as if hee would be a Christian, and Charles was very glad of this, and got him to his Court to parley with him; being in his Court he saw 30. poore people that Charles fed, who were halt, and may med, and blind, and in a very poore garb, Charles the great did it on purpose, because he would have poverty before his eyes continually, that hee might not be too high in, and proud of his prosperity. Now when Aygolandus saw them, who are these saith hee? These saith Charles are the servants of God: nay then replyed he, if your God will keep his servants no better, I will be none of his; I thought to be a Christian, and to serve your God, but seeing those that serve him have Page 228 no better food nor no better rayment then these, I will be none of those ser∣vants. Thus it is with many, thought their consciences are convinced which is the best way, yet because of the want of flaxe, and wool, and oyle, they will not come off.
It is a shamefull thing for men to make Religion to be in subjection to their wool,* and corne, & oyle. They have done shamefully in this. Many wil do this,* but this is very shamefull. Before I shewed that it is shamefull to subject Religion to politique affairs, to the publique State of a Kingdome, but now to subject Religion to our owne base sensualities, to our own par∣ticular ends, for profit and preferment, oh this is very shamefull. Gain got∣ten this way, it is filthy lucre, as the Scripture saith of it, yet hujusmodi lucri dulcis odor, the smell of this gaine is very sweet unto many. What, is thy Religion serviceable to gain, to a trade, to sensuall lusts? what is this but to stop the holes of a mudd wall with diamonds and precious pearls? That were a folly you will say, that because you have a hole to be stopped in a mud wall, to put in diamonds and pearls to stop it, and to make such preci∣ous things serviceable to such base ends, thou dost as much, thou wouldst have that which shall be a content to thy flesh, and thou wilt make Religi∣on subject to that, thou art as base and vile in this. Religion my brethren is the glory of a man, the glory of a nation, and shall we turn this glory into shame? It is a base thing in Magistrates to subject the acts of justice to their base ends, for gain and profit; for a Judge, or a Justice of peace, or a Prelate to shew most favour where there is most flaxe, and wool, and oyle, where Butts, or rundlers of Sack, or the like are to be got, this is basenesse in them: But to subject Religion to such base ends as these, this is the villany of all basenesse. A generous spirit is far from this. It is observed of the ge∣nerous spirit of Luther, that when a Papist was vexed at him for his prea∣ching and writing, faith a Bishop, there is such a stir with this Luther, why do you not stop his mouth with preferment? As it hath been the speech of a Bishop here in this land, that hearing that a Kinsman of his was a zealous Preacher;* well falth he, let me alone, I will silence him; and indeed hee did, How? He gave him two livings, and that silenced him presently. So here, why do you not stop this Luthers mouth with preferment? He presently answered, That Germane beast cares not for money, he is above money. He called him beast in his anger, whereas he might have called him an An∣gel, because his spirit was above these things, his mouth would not be stop∣ped with them. Some mens lust of malice goes beyond their lust of cove∣tousnesse, like those Cockatrices,*Jer. 8. 17. that will not be charmed, it is a shamefull thing then that our zeale for God should not goe beyond our lust for gaine, to subject your Religion to flaxe, and wool, and oyle, it com∣meth from a base diffidence in God, as if he would not provide for us such outward things, therefore Luther hath this expression in his Comment up∣on Hosea. They followed their idols for bread, and wool, and flaxe, and Page 229 oyle, as if God would not give bread to his Church, or as if it were more safe to goe to the Devill for it, as if we could not have wool enough, and flaxe e∣nough, and oyle enough from God. Oh let us trust God for all, for our cloaths, for our meate and drink, for our estates, for our children, God cer∣tainely will feede his Church. And yet those men that have hearts so base themselves, they thinke it impossible for any man but to be taken with such arguments: They may talke of Religion and conscience say they, but I will warrant you they may be taken off with money, and preferment, places of profit and honour. They think it impossible for men to stand against these arguments. It putteth me in mind of that speech that Balaak used to Ba∣laam, Did not I earnestly send unto thee to call thee, wherefore camest thou not unto me? Am I not able to promote thee to honour? As if he should have said, Thou art a strange man indeed, did not I send thee word that I would promote thee to great honour, and give thee silver and gold, or whatsoever thou wouldst have? What will not preferment and money tempt you? I thought this would have tempted any man in the world. Thus many think that whatsoever mens Spirits are, they may be taken off with promotion and money: But let all such know that there are a generation of men in the world of true generous Spirits, that are above all these things, and take as much delight, and have as much sweetnesse in denying these places of honour and preferment, and gaine, as those that offer them have in the enjoying of them. It was a notable speech Plynie had concerning Ca∣to (It is in his Epistle Dedicatory to his naturall History) speaking of what a notable spirit he was, Cato (saith he) tooke as much glory in those digni∣ties and honours that he denyed, as he did in those he did enjoy, Certainly it is so with the Saints, the true generous spirit of Christians take as much content in those places of preferment they deny for Christ, as in any gaine they enjoy. There is no tempting of such men.
Let us pray therefore for those that are intrusted by us, not onely for ci∣vill things, but for matters of Religion, that temptations for bread, & corne, and wool, and flaxe, and wine, and oilemay never tempt them, that the pre∣ferment, and gaine may never byasse their spirits, may never sway them.
These meanes have been assayed (certain it is) totempt some of them with, such wayes have not been left untryed by some, and have prevailed, but tho∣rough Gods mercy he hath preserved others, and he hath made the world to know that Christ hath a people to whom Religion and the publicke good is more deare then all the flaxe, and wooll, and wine, and oyle in the world, then all the estates, and high places, and great preferments that can be offer∣ed them. And now the Lord our God keepe this in their and in our hearts for ever.