Gods providence, a sermon preached before the honourable House of Commons at their late solemne fast, Decemb. 28, 1642, in S. Margarets Church at Westminster by Ed. Corbett ...
Corbet, Edward, d. 1658.
1. Do not contemne thy weak brother.

God can raise his thoughts, or direct his follie to a happie end, he can make him an Instrument of glorie,* who is now a subject of weaknesse, and can strike a streight stroake with a crooked stick.* Let us remember that we our selves in times past were un∣wise, disobedient, deceived, serving lusts, and divers pleasures, that we continue clay of the same lumpe, branches of the same root, and the same Grace which supports one, may raise another: For who made us to differ? or what have we that we have not recei∣ved?* Although the Iews be now a by-word amongst the heathen, and have lien long under Captivitie: Although they are broken off from the stock,* yet God is able to graff them in againe and to let the day of his glory shine forth upon them. Nay God will re∣member his covenant with Abraham and Jacob, his calling is without change, No sin can frustrate his Election. Those who are Enemies to the Common-wealth of Israel, and are darknesse it self, may be enlightened by the sunne of righteounesse: God may have Children amongst Turkes and Pagans, the wildernesse may nourish sheep,* and the hard Iron afford soveraign spirits: The theef upon the Crosse became a Saint, and persecuting Saul was changed into Paul an Apostle. Other mens imperfections therfore may be our instructions, they may be arguments of great devotion, they must not be objects of any derision: the least sin deserves contempt, but the greatest sinner charitie: let us hate the vice but help the man, pittie him, pray for him, let us exend our breasts of compassion, wheresoever is hope of Conversion. But above all let us not despise our zealous brother, who out of a pious apprehension of the joys of Heaven and of the torments of Hell, of the love of Christ, and wickednesse of sin, makes a consci∣ence of the least transgression, startles at all appearance of evill, is strict and tender, and fearefull in all his conversation, who lookes upon the world with contempt,* and for the Gospell sake will kisse the rod, and welcome death. Calvin dedicates his Commentary Page  21 on the 1. to the Cor to one Caracciolus a Marquesse of Italy, of great honour and Estate, blessed with a noble and chast wife, and with many sweet Children, and full of peace and earthly happi∣nesse; notwithstanding parted with his Countrey, bid fare-well to his pleasant and rich possessions, forsook his wife and children, and friends, and all for the love of Christ and libertie of his con∣science; following the Counsell of Saint Hieron,* to his beloved Heliodor, if thy little Grandchild hang about thy neck, if thy mother with her haire untied and her garments rent, shew thee those breasts which gave thee suck, if thy father cast himself down upon the threshold to keep thee in, tread upon thy father and with drie Eyes flye unto thy Saviour. It is Religion in this case to be cruell, and the greatest pittie to be pittilesse.*Ignatius the Martyr was of the same minde, I would to God (saith he) I might enjoy those beasts which are prepared to eate me up, I will make much of them, and use them with all kindnesse, that they may devoure me presently: Let the fagot, the gallowes, the furie of wild beasts, the rack, the tearing and unjointing of all the body, let the tor∣ments of the Divell come upon me, so that I may gaine Christ Iesus: it is better to dye for Christ, then to be Emperour of the whole world. Call not then devotion weaknes, or zeale folly, rank not them in the Kalender of fooles who prefer Salvation be∣fore the world, and by a bold assertion of the Truth, fight for Mar∣tyrdom. God is never more honoured then when the Kingdom of Heaven suffers such violence: The Church never shewed more wisdom than when her zeale flamed highest. It was an ancient Complaint of Justin Martyr in the behalfe of the primitive Chri∣stians, that they were condemned and put to death,*〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 upon an ill report, and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 for the Name of Christian, and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 for the profession of goodnesse: And in this kingdom there was a time when vertue and pietie were accoun∣ted crimes, and the Name of Puritan a greater accusation than drunkennes or whoredom: Luther that glorious light of the Gos∣pell, was called the Trumpet of rebellion.* The Prophet Eliah the Troubler of Israel, and Saint Paul was made the filth of the world and the off-scouring of all things.

Page  22Take heed therefore of rash and ungodly censures in matter of Religion, which requires our prayers, and patience, and charitie, abhorres reproaches:* Thou mayst abuse a Court with the Name of faction; and under the calumnie of Brownist condemne a Saint: Salvation ought to be the businesse of our whole life: We cannot be more studious to preserve our soules then the Divell is to de∣stroy them, we cannot be too carefull about that work, in which our greatest care is not enough.