« PreviousContinue »
commandments concerning theirneighbours, which command them to express hearty love towards every man, as
Zach. vii. Zachary laid unto the people in God's behalf. Give true judgment, shciv mercy and combajsion every one to his brother, imagine no deceit towards widows, or children fatherless and motherless, towards jlran^ers, or the poor; let no man Jorge evil in his heart againjl his brother. But these things they paffed not of; they turned their backs, and went their way; they stopped their ears, that they might not hear; they hardened their hearts as an adamant stone, that they might not listen to the Law, and the words that the Lord had sent through his holy Spirit, by his ancient Prophets. Wheresore the Lord shewed his great indignation
Jer. v!i. upon them. came to pass, faith the Prophet, even as I told them: as they would not hear, jo when they cried, they were not heard, but were scattered into all kingdoms which they never knew, and their land was made desolate. And, to be short, all they that may not abide the word of God, but following the persuasions and stubbornness of their own hearts, go backward and not forward, as it is faid in
Jer. vii. Jeremy, They go and turn away from God. Insomuch that Origen faith, He that with mind, with study, with deeds, with thought and care, applied' and giveth himself to God's word, and thinketh upon his laws day and night, giveth himself wholly to God, and in his precepts and commandments is exercised; this is he that is turned to God. And on the other part he faith, Whosoever is occupied with fables and talcs, when the word of God is rehearsed, he is turned from God. Whosoever in time ot reading God's word is careful in his mind of worldly businels, of money, or of lucre, he is turned from God. Wholoever is entangled with the cares of poffeffons, silled with covetousness of riches, whosoever studieth for the glory and honour of this world, he is turned from God. So that after his mind, whosoever hath not a special mind to that thing that is commanded or taught of God, he that doth not listen unto it, embrace, and imprint it in his heart, to the intent that he may duly fashion his lise thereafter, he is plainly turned from God, although he do other things of his own devotion and mind, which to him seem better, and more to God's honour. Which thing to be true, we be taught and admonished in the holy Scripture, by the example of king Saul; who being con1
i Kings rr.manded of God hv Samuel, that he should kill all the Amalekites, and destroy them clearly, with their goods and cattle; yet he, being moved partly with pity, and partly
fas he thought) with devotion unto God, faved Agag the ting, and all the chief of their cattle, therewith to make sacrisice unto God. Wherewithal God being displeased highly, faid unto the Prophet Samuel, J repent that ever I node Saul king; for he hath forfaken me, and not followed my words: and so he commanded Samuel to shew him. And when Samuel asked wherefore (contrary to God's word) he had faved the cattle, he excused the matter partly by sear, faying, he durst do no other, for that the people would have it so ; partly, for that they were goodlyr beasis, he thought God would be content, feeing it was done of agood intent and devotion, to honour God with the facrifice of them.
But Samuel, reproving all such intents and devotions, (seem they never so much to God's honour, if they stand not with his word, whereby we may be assured of his pleafure,) faid on this wife, Would God have sacrifiees and off erings, or rather that his word should he (keyed? To obey him is hetter than offerings, and to lijlen to iim is hetter than to offer the fat of rams j yea, to repugn again/t his voice is as evil as the fin of soothsaying: and not to agree to it is like ahominable idolatry. And now forasmuch as tbou hajl cajl away the word of the Lord, be hath cajl cu\:y thee, that thou shouldejl not he king;
By all these examples ot holy Scripture, we may know,The tumthat as we forfake God, so shall he ever forfake us. And JJ*^* what miserable state doth consequently and necefffarily follow thereupon, a man may easily consider by the terrible threateuings of God. And although he consider not all the faid misery to the uttermost, being so great that it paffeth any man's capacity in this life sussiciently to consider the fame; yet he shall soon perceive so much thereof, that if his heart be not more than stony, or harder than the adamant, he shall sear, tremble, and quake, to call the fame to his remembrance. First, the displeasure of God towards us is commonly expreffed in the Scripture by these two things: by shewing his searful countenance upon us, and by turning his face, or hiding it from us. By shewing his dreadful countenance is signisied his great wrath: but by turning his face, or hiding thereof, is many times more signisied, that is to fay, that he clearly forfaketh us, and giveth us over. The which signisications be taken of the properties of men's manners. For men towards them whom they favour commonly bear a good, a cheerful, and a loving countenante: so that by the face or countenance of a man, it
F 2 doth
dotli commonly appear what will or mind he beareth towards others. So when God doth shew his dreadful countenance towards us, that is to fay, doth send dreadful plagues of sword, famine, or pestilence upon us, it appeareth that he is greatly wroth with us. But when he withdraweth from us his word, the right doctrine of Christ, his gracious affistance and aid, (which is ever joined to his word) and leaveth us to our own wit, our own will and strength; he declareth then, that he beginneth to forfake us. For whereas God hath shewed to all them that truly believe his Gospel, his face of mercy in Jesus Christ, which doth so lighten their hearts, that they (if they behold it as they ought to do) be transformed to his image, be made partakers of the heavenly light, and of his holy Spirit, and be fashioned to him in all goodness requisite to the children of God : so, if they after do neglect the fame, if they be unthankful unto him, if they order not their lives according to his example and doctrine, and to the setting fortli of his glory, he will take away from them his kingdom, his holy word, whereby he should reign in them, because they bring not forth the fruit thereof that he looketh tor. Nevertheless, he is so merciful, and of so long sufferance, that he doth not shew upon us that great wrath suddenly. But when we begin to shrink from His word, not believing it, or not expreffing it in our livings; sirst he doth send his messengers, the true preachers of his word, to admonish and warn us of our duty: that as he for his part, for the great love he bare unto us, delivered his own Son to suffer death, that we by his death might be delivered from death, and be restored to the lise everlasting, evermore to dwell with him, and to be partakers and inheritors with him of his everlasting glory and kingdom of heaven; so again, that we for our parts should walk in a godly lise, as becometh his children to do. And if this will not serve, but still we remain disobedient to his word and will, not knowing him, nor loving him, nor searing him, nor putting our whole trust and considence in him; and on the other side, to our neighbours behaving ourselves uncharitably, by dildain, envy, malice, or by committing murder, robbery, adultery, gluttony, Heb. iii. deceit, lying, swearing, or other like detestable works, and ungodly behaviour, then he threateneth us by terrible Psat xv comminations, swearing in great anger, that whosoever i Cor. vi. doth these worksshall never enter into his rejl, which IS the kingdom of heaven.
The Second Part of the Sermon of Fairing from
IN the former part of this Sermon ye have learned how
By these threatenings we are monished and warned, that if we, wliich are the chosen vineyard of God, bring not forth good grapes, that is to lay, good works, that may be delectable and pleafant in his sight, when he looketh for them, when he sendeth his messengers to call upon us for them, but rather bring forth wild grapes, that is to lay, four works, unfavoury and unfruitful; then will he pluck away all desence, and suffer grievous plagues of famine, battle, dearth, and death, to light upon us. Finally, if these serve not, he will let us lie waste, he will give us over, he still turn away from us, he will dig and delve no more about us, he will let us alone, and luster us to bring forth even fuch fruit as we will, to bring forth brambles,
F 3 briers,
briers, and thorns, all naughtiness, all vice, and thatso abundantly, that they shall clean overgrow us, choke, strangle, and utterly destroy us. But they that in this world five not after God, but after their own carnal liberty, perceive not this great wrath of God towards them, that he will not dig nor delve any more about them, that he doth let them alone even to themselves. But they take this for a great benesit of God, to have all their own liberty: and io they live, as if carnal liberty were the true liberty of the Gospel. But God forbid, good people, that ever we should desire such liberty. For although God fuffer fometimes the wicked to have their pleasure in this world, yet the end of ungodly living is at length endleis destruction. Kum. xi. The murmuring Israelites had that they longed for; they had quails enough, yea, till they were weary of them. But what was the end thereof? Their sweet meat had sour fauce: even while the meat was in their mouths, the plague of God lighted upon them, and suddenly they died. So, if we live ungodlily, and God suffereth us to follow our own wills, to nave our own delighrs and pleasures, and correcteth us not with some plague, it Is no doubt but he is almost utterly displeased with us. And although it be long ere he strike, yet many times when he striketh such persons, he striketh them at once for ever. So that when he doth not strike us, when he ceaseth to asflict us, to punish or beat us, and suffereth us to run headlong into all ungodliness and pleasures of this world that we delight in, without punishment and adversity, it is a dreadful token that he loveth us no longer, that he careth no longer for us, but hath given us over to our own selves. As long as a man doth prune his vines, doth dig at the roots, and doth lay fresh earth to them, he hath a mind to them, he perceiveth some token of fruitfulness, that may be recovered in them : but when he will bestow no more liich cost and labour about them, then it is a sign that he thinketh they will never be good. And the father, as long as he loveth his child, he looketh angerly, he correcteth him when he doth amiss: but when that serveth not, and upon that he ceaseth from correction of him, and suffereth him to do what he list himself, it is a sign that he intendeth to disinherit him, and to cast him away for ever. So surely nothing should pierce our heart so sore, and put us in fuch horrible sear, as when we know in our conscience, that we have grievously offended God, and do so continue, and that yet he striketh not, but quietly fuffereth us in the naughtiness that we have de