For the Right Worshipfull, his much honoured friend, M. ROUS, One of the Members of the Honoura∣ble House of COMMONS.
THese late times have produced many great and sensible changes in many, * both matters and persons: I must acknowledge the power of time, that mighty changeling, over my minde also. Some four yeers ago, it was my wish, and very passionate desire, then publikely expressed, to have had that favour of your honorable House, as once to speak in their audience: * Notwithstanding, the other day, when, in their Honours Name, you did offer to me that singular courtesie, how unwilling I was to entertain it, my own heart doth know fully, and you in a part can bear witnesse. Verily, my former desires to speak when I could not be heard, were no greater then my present to keep silence, when I was requi∣red to speak.
As I would have been very glad in so honourable an Audience to have said nothing, so when your entreaty, in sō great a Name, had necessitated me to speak something, I could have wished that what then was said, might have past away without any farther notice: But being it was your desire that what then was spoken should now go abroad, esteeming it unfit to dispute any of your Com∣mands, Page [unnumbered]in this also you shall have me obedient.
Be pleased therefore to receive what you required of me, the Notes of that poor Sermon, without any addition at all, and without any change considerable: It is well if it finde in the eyes of others when read, that patience and respect which it had in your ears at the first hearing.
I know the matter it self is above any just contempt, * for it is not mine, but the Spirit of God's, speaking to the Churches: That of it which belongeth to me, the mana∣ging of these divine Truths, and their Application to the auditor, I leave to the benigne construction of every Rea∣der: intreating his belief, it was my sincere intention, with so great simplicity and clearnesse as I was able, To speak a word in season to every soul, To let out from the foun∣tains of Scripture the streams of consolation on the dry and parcht ground, To send down from the Lamps of the Word the Rayes of divine Light, for direction in these dark and misty days: By the terrours of the Lord to per∣swade some, To smite with the rod, with the Sword of the Spirit, the secure souls of our sleeping friends, to awaken them; and of our too watchfull enemies, to pull them with fear (but yet with all compassion) out of the snare of Satan, wherein now they lie captive at his will.
The Text led me by the hand to that most seasonable Consideration, That in all quarrells about the build∣ing or rebuilding of a Church,*the chief and prin∣cipall parties are Christ and the Devill; Men are but inferiour and subservient agents to these two Princes: It is most certain, That side which is for Truth, for Piety, for Justice, must in the end triumph: For it is utterly impossible, that the Dragon and all his Angels, though for a time and a long time, they maintain the Page [unnumbered]fight, should ever prevail over Michael the Arch-Angel and his followers.
These extraordinary Commotions, whereby not our King∣dom alone, but the most of the neighbouring Nations, are at this very hour so terribly shaken, we trust they shall prove preparations for a glorious Work. At the build∣ing of a Royall Palace, where much rubbish is to be remo∣ved by many hands, where timber, stones, and other ma∣terialls, are to be brought together, and set in the work by a multitude of divers Crafts-men, no marvell if in that place, for a time, there be much noise and stirre, much commotion, and some confusion also.
Doubtlesse, ere long, * the Scene of this world must be closed, the Man of Sin must be beaten from the Stage, which long he hath possessed; The Rebellion must be re∣moved from Jacob, and the Iron sinew taken out of the neck of Israel: The fulnesse of the Gentiles must be brought in with them, that both may mourn after Christ their common Saviour. The shaking of the Heavens and Earth are the Lords Prefaces and Prologues, his ante∣cedent Acts, which must be followed with such joyfull Con∣clusions. When we are most tossed with Tempests, when we are most likely to be split upon the Rocks of desperate dangers, then would we cast up within the Vail the holy An∣kor of this hope, the strong Cable of this confident expect∣ation.
In the subsequent Discourse I glance at one Point which I wish were well weighed by all who truely minde the pro∣sperity of the Work in hand: * Durst I have taken the bold∣nesse of prefacing to the whole House, as indeed I was loath to presume it, having already by the length of my Sermon, taken from them so much of their precious time, it Page [unnumbered]would have been all, or at least my main purpose, to have proposed to their Honours, and pressed that one Considera∣tion, which now, forsooth, is become so triviall and com∣mon in the mouth of every one, that it seemeth to be rare in the heart, and reall sense of many; I mean these extra∣ordinary and unexpected delays of setting up the Government of God in his House.
The ordering of the State and Kingdom, * how necessary soever, ought not to precede the setling of the Church; In this, the interest of God, in that, the interest of man is chiefest: If any could be so impious as to avow their postponing of God to the world, yet they would do well to be so wise as not to marre their own ends, by the mis-or∣der of their proceedings. Except the Lord build the house of a Kingdom, the industry of the wisest men is for little purpose: And how shall the Lord concurre with men in building their state, when men are so carelesse of his Honour and Service, as not to build his Church? Nehe∣miah laid not a stone in the wall of the City, untill Zerub∣babel had set the Cap-stone on the wall of the Temple.
It cannot without injury be denyed, that the endeavours of this noble Senate, for the House of God, have been greater then any Parliaments we ever read of in this Land: That notwithstanding their excessive Labours, the Work is not yet neer an end, it must be imputed to all others, ra∣ther then to them.
That most Reverend, Learned, and Pious Assembly of Divines, on whose shoulders the task of Religion is principally devolved, cannot in any Justice be charged with neglect of dutie herein: They have so many, and so notable witnesses of their daily indefatigable Labours, that no honest mouth will be bold to fasten the least slander of this fault upon them.Page [unnumbered]
How then cometh it to passe, that the Wheels of the Lords Chariot should move with so slow a pace? This is it which all the godly farre and neer, do vehemently desire to be taken in the most serious thoughts of every Religious Member of either House. It passeth, I confesse mine and every common understanding, to hit upon the true and full Cause, and the solid remedy of this great Evill, whereof the world doth see and proclaim, the sad and sensible effects.
By this wearisome procrastination to erect the Discipline of God, * that so the Laws of the Gospel might be really execute; it cometh to passe, that millions of men and wo∣men, live as they list, in Blasphemy and Drunkennesse, Chambering and Wantonnesse, Strife and Envy, Ignorance and Impietie, without the controll of any spirituall correction.
Beside these open vices, which like a flood without the opposition of any Bulwarke, carry down to hell such a mul∣titude of souls; there is another more subtill device of Satan whereby daily many thousands are destroyed: Here∣sies, and Schismes, under the colour of Truth, and more then ordinary devotion, eat like a Gangreen, and Canker, run like a Pest, from City to City, to the over-spreading of the whole Land, without all possibilitie of remedy, so long as Christs Discipline is holden out at doors.
How can it be, but the losse of so many thousands, so many millions of poor souls, which prophanenesse and er∣rour, daily doth destroy, should not cry to Heaven for judgement against them, be who they will, who for what respect soever, are retarders, or but faint promovers of the Lords Ordinance, the onely spirituall, the onely proper remedy of all these heavy evils?
There be some who care for none of these things, the Page [unnumbered]losse of souls, the flourishing of Satans Kingdom, the defiling of Christs Crown in the dust, toucheth not so much as the utmost skin of their carnall heart; Let such worldlings bewar they feel not sooner then they expect, the civill inconvenience, which to them alone is considerable of that matter whereof we speak. For what I pray should hinder numbers of our people rooted in prophanenesse upon occasion, if they were tempted, to desert the Cause of Re∣ligion, and side with the enemy for our ruine: Can con∣stancy be certainly expected, where piety its onely bottome cannot be found. Also what disturbance may be wrought in the state by the multitudes of Hereticall and Schis∣maticall people, habituated by long custome in their wayes of errour; It is no difficult matter for wise men to prog∣nosticate, who either from story or experience, are acquaint with the ordinary course of humane affairs.
These and many other the like lamentable fruits of the too too long Anarchy of this Church, are a matter of daily discourse to many, but of great sadnesse and heavy∣nesse of heart, to the children of God: A remedy of them none doth expect, out of Heaven, from any but the wisedom and zeal of this high Court.
To these who have no experience of the many strong in∣visible Impediments, * whereby the motion of all publike good Works use to be retarded, it seemeth a prodigie, that the reparation of this Church should stick so long in the way: especially when they consider that no Protestant Church to this day, did ever stay the half of the time in purging the whole Body of Religion, in Doctrine, Worship, Discipline and all, as this Land hath already spent on some few points of Discipline alone. It seemeth they were in∣compassed with as many, and great difficulties in their Page [unnumbered]action, as we are in ours: Consider when we will, Ger∣many or France, Scotland or Holland, we shall finde the hands of their Reformers were fewer and weaker, for all worldly strength, and their opposers, whether ye speak of Princes or Clergy, or Nobles, or People, were more and more potent then ours this day: However, we have little reason to pretend difficulties from any of these quarters: by the mercy of God these two by-gone yeers, neither Prince, nor Papist, nor Prelate, nor any open Malignant have been able in the least degree, to stop the wished Reforma∣tion: Such an imputation during the named time, cannot be charged upon any of them: what ever may be said of their will, yet the good hand of our God hath circumscri∣bed their power within so narrow a line, that for any resist∣ance of theirs, it was fully in our hands, to have set up what ever Church-policie we had found meetest, in the most, and best parts of the Kingdom.
I do verily think, if any Church in the World had taken our present course, they should have found it exceed∣ing hard, ever to have attained to their wished end: If England, either in Edward or Elizabeths dayes: If Scotland, either in their first or second Reformation, had suspended over all their Kingdoms the exercise of any Re∣formation, till every puntillo thereof had been Scholasti∣cally debated, in the face of an Assembly; till every Dis∣senter, over and over, had made to the full, against every part of every Proposition, all the contradiction, his wit, his learning, his eloquence, was able to furnish him: It seemeth apparent, that these tedious delays had casten them so open, and given such pregnant advantages to the enter∣prizes of their active adversaries, as easily they had been surprized, and all their designes crushed before they had Page [unnumbered]ended half their consultations, or so much as begun their practise; And who knoweth what all this prodigall ex∣pence, and spinning out of precious and irrecoverable time, may produce.
Certainly, this method of proceeding, cannot bring us to any quick issue. If these points of Government, of Worship, of Doctrine, which yet are before us, be handled as these that are behinde us, which in themselves are far lesse considerable then many of the former: If every op∣ponent must be heard upon every point, to object, to reply, to double, to triple his exceptions (as I know no reason why it must not be so, if we proceed in an equable pace, and our motions to come, be of a length proportionable to these that are past.) This course, I say, if constantly kept, can∣not but hold us in hewing of our Stones more then a week of yeers, before we can begin to lay so much as the Foun∣dation of our Building.
But I must hold, for unaware and unsensibly, my Pen has run beyond the bounds of an Epistle: Your more then or∣dinary benignitie did invite me to that libertie; It is our comfort, when either, the mentioned, or any other incon∣venience begins to discourage us, that God has put in that supreme Court, men of your Zeal, Wisedom, and Experi∣ence; by whose deep prudence and industrious Action, what to us seems desperate, can quickly be remedied to the full satisfaction of all, whose understanding, and affecti∣ons permit them to be capable of reason. Thus praying God to asist every man of your minde and temper, that so this afflicted Church and State, may come in Gods due time to a happy end of all the present troubles, I rest
Your Worships to be commanded, ROBERT BAYLY.