CHAP. XXI. The Parson Catechizing.
THe Countrey Parson values Catechizing highly: for there being three points of his duty, the one, to infuse a competent knowledge of salvation in every one of his Flock; the other, to multiply, and build up this knowledge to a spirituall Temple; the third, to inflame this knowledge, to presse, and drive it to practice, turning it to reformation of life, by pithy and lively exhortations; Catechizing is the first point, and but by Catechizing, the other cannot be attained. Besides, whereas in Sermons there is a kinde of state, in Catechizing there is an humblenesse very sutable to Christian regeneration, which exceedingly delights him as by way of exercise upon himself, and by way of preaching to himself, for the advancing of his own mortification; for in preaching to others, he forgets not himself, but is first a sermon to himself, and then to others; growing with the growth of his Parish. He useth, and preferreth the ordinary Church-Catechism, partly for obedience to Authority, partly for uniformity sake, that the same common truths may be every where professed, especially since many remove from Parish to Parish, who like Christian Souldiers are to give the word, and to satisfie the Congregation by their Catholick answers. He exacts of all the Doctrine of the Catechisme; of the younger sort, the very words; of the elder, the substance. Those he Catechizeth publickly, these privately, giving age honour, according to the Apostles rule, I Tim. 5. I. He requires all to be present at Catechizing: First, for the authority of the work; Secondly, that Parents, and Masters, as they hear the answers prove, may when they come home, either commend or reprove, either reward or punish. Thirdly, that thoseof the elder sort, who are not well grounded, may then by an honourable way take occasion to be better instructed. Fourthly, that those who are well grown in the knowledg of Religion, may examine their grounds, renew their vowes, and by occasion of both, inlarge their meditations. When once all have learned the words of the Catechisme, he thinks it the most usefull way that a Pastor can take, to go over the same, but in other words: for many say the Catechisme by rote, as parrats, without ever piercing into the sense of it. In this course the order of the Catechisme would be kept, but the rest varyed: as thus, in the Creed: How came this world to be as it is? Was it made, or came it by chance? Who made it? Did you see God make it? Then are there some things to be beleeved that are not seen? Is this the nature of beliefe? Is not Christianity full of such things, as are not to be seen, but beleeved? You said, God made the world; Who is God? And so forward, requiring answers to all these, and helping and cherishing the Answerer, by making the Question very plaine with comparisons, and making much even of a word of truth from him. This order being used to one, would be a little varyed to another. And this is an admirable way of teaching, wherein the Catechized will at length finde delight, and by which the Catechizer, if he once get the skill of it, will draw out of ignorant and silly souls, even the dark and deep points of Religion. Socrates did thus in Philosophy, who held that the seeds of all truths lay in every body, and accordingly by questions well ordered he found Philosophy in silly Trades-men. That position will not hold in Christianity, because it contains things above nature: but after that the Catechisme is once learn'd, that which nature is towards Philosophy, the Catechism is towards Divinity. To this purpose, some dialogues in Plato were worth the reading, where the singular dexterity of Socrates in this kind may be observed, and imitated. Yet the skill consists but in these three points: First, an aim and mark of the whole discourse, whither to drive the Answerer, which the Questionist must have in his mind before any question be propounded, upon which and to which the questions are to be chained. Secondly, a most plain and easie framing the question, even containing in vertue the answer also, especially to the more ignorant. Thirdly, when the answerer sticks, an illustrating the thing by something else, which he knows, making what hee knows to serve him in that which he knows not: As, when the Parson once demanded after other questions about mans misery; since man is so miserable, what is to be done? And the answerer could not tell; He asked him again, what he would do, if he were in a ditch? This familiar illustration made the answer so plaine, that he was even ashamed of his ignorance; for he could not but say, he would hast out of it as fast as he could. Then he proceeded to ask, whether he could get out of the ditch alone, or whether he needed a helper, and who was that helper. This is the skill, and doubtlesse the Holy Scripture intends thus much, when it condescends to the naming of a plough, a hatchet, a bushell, leaven, boyes piping and dancing; shewing that things of ordinary use are not only to serve in the way of drudgery, but to be washed and cleansed, and serve for lights even of Heavenly Truths. This is the Practice which the Parson so much commends to all his fellow-labourers; the secret of whose good consists in this, that at Sermons, and Prayers, men may sleep or wander; but when one is asked a question, he must discover what he is. This practice exceeds even Semons in teaching: but there being two things in Sermons, the one Informing, the other Inflaming; as Sermons come short of questions in the one, so they farre exceed them in the other. For questions cannot inflame or ravish, that must be done by a set, and laboured, and continued speech.
CHAP. XXII. The Parson in Sacraments.
THe Countrey Parson being to administer the Sacraments, is at a stand with himself, how or what behaviour to assume for so holy things. Especially at Communion times he is in a great confusion, as being not only to receive God, but to break, and administer him. Neither findes he any issue in this, but to throw himself down at the throne of grace, saying, Lord, thou knowest what thou didst, when thou appointedst it to be done thus; therefore doe thou fulfill what thou didst appoint; for thou art not only the feast, but the way to it. At Baptisme, being himselfe in white, he requires the presence of all, and Baptizeth not willingly, but on Sundayes, or great dayes. Hee admits no vaine or idle names, but such as are usuall and accustomed. Hee says that prayer with great devotion, where God is thanked for calling us to the knowledg of his grace, Baptisme being a blessing, that the world hath not the like. He willingly and cheerfully crosseth the child, and thinketh the Ceremony not onely innocent, but reverend. He instructeth the God-fathers, and God-mothers, that it is no complementall or light thing to sustain that place, but a great honour, and no less burden, as being done both in the presence of God, and his Saints, and by way of undertaking for a Christian soul. He adviseth all to call to minde their Baptism often; for if wise men have thought it the best way of preserving a state to reduce it to its principles by which it grew great; certainly, it is the safest course for Christians also to meditate on their Baptisme often (being the first step into their great and glorious calling) and upon what termes, and with what vowes they were Baptized. At the times of the Holy Communion, he first takes order with the Church-Wardens, that the elements be of the best, not cheape, or course, much lesse ill-tasted, or unwholsome. Secondly, hee considers and looks into the ignorance, or carelesness of his flock, and accordingly applies himselfe with Catechizings, and lively exhortations, not on the Sunday of the Communion only (for then it is too late) but the Sunday, or Sundayes before the Communion, or on the Eves of all those dayes. If there be any, who having not received yet, are to enter into this great work, he takes the more pains with them, that hee may lay the foundation of future Blessings. The time of every ones first receiving is not so much by yeers, as by understanding: particularly, the rule may be this: When any one can distinguish the Sacramentall from common bread, knowing the Institution, and the difference, hee ought to receive, of what age soever. Children and youths are usually deferred too long, under pretence of devotion to the Sacrament, but it is for want of Instruction; their understandings being ripe enough for ill things, and why not then for better? But Parents, and Masters should make hast in this, as to a great purchase for their children, and servants; which while they deferr, both sides suffer; the one in wanting many excitings of grace; the other, in being worse served and obeyed. The saying of the Catechism is necessary, but not enough; because to answer in form may still admit ignorance: but the Questions must be propounded loosely and wildely, and then the Answerer will discover what hee is. Thirdly, For the manner of receiving, as the Parson useth all reverence himself, so he administers to none but to the reverent. The Feast indeed requires sitting, because it is a Feast; but man's unpreparednesse asks kneeling. Hee that comes to the Sacrament, hath the confidence of a Guest, and hee that kneels, confesseth himself an unworthy one, and therefore differs from other Feasters: but hee that sits, or lies, puts up to an Apostle: Contentiousnesse in a feast of Charity is more scandall then any posture. Fourthly, touching the frequency of the Communion, the Parson celebrates it, if not duly once a month, yet at least five or six times in the year; as, at Easter, Christmasse, Whitsuntide, afore and after Harvest, and the beginning of Lent. And this hee doth, not onely for the benefit of the work, but also for the discharge of the Church-wardens, who being to present all that receive not thrice a year; if there be but three Communions, neither can all the people so order their affairs as to receive just at those times, nor the Church-Wardens so well take notice who receive thrice, and who not.
CHAP. XXIII. The Parson's Completenesse.
THe Countrey Parson desires to be all to his Parish, and not onely a Pastour, but a Lawyer also, and a Phisician. Therefore hee endures not that any of his Flock should go to Law; but in any Controversie, that they should resort to him as their Judge. To this end, he hath gotten to himself some insight in things ordinarily incident and controverted, by experience, and by reading some initiatory treatises in the Law, with Daltons Justice of Peace, and the Abridgements of the Statutes, as also by discourse with men of that profession, whom he hath ever some cases to ask, when he meets with them; holding that rule, that to put men to discourse of that, wherin they are most eminent, is the most gain full way of Conversation. Yet when ever any controversie is brought to him, he never decides it alone, but sends for three or four of the ablest of the Parish to hear the cause with him, whom he makes to deliver their opinion first; out of which he gathers, in case he be ignorant himself, what to hold; and so the thing passeth with more authority, and lesse envy. In judging, he followes that, which is altogether right; so that if the poorest man of the Parish detain but a pin unjustly from the richest, he absolutely restores it as a Judge; but when he hath so done, then he assumes the Parson, and exhorts to Charity. Neverthelesse, there may happen somtimes some cases, wherein he chooseth to permit his Parishioners rather to make use of the Law, then himself: As in cases of an obscure and dark nature, not easily determinable by Lawyers themselves; or in cases of high consequence, as establishing of inheritances: or Lastly, when the persons in difference are of a contentious disposition, and cannot be gained, but that they still fall from all compromises that have been made. But then he shews them how to go to Law, even as Brethren, and not as enemies, neither avoyding therfore one anothers company, much lesse defaming one another. Now as the Parson is in Law, so is he in sicknesse also: if there be any of his flock sick, hee is their Physician, or at least his Wife, of whom in stead of the qualities of the world, he asks no other, but to have the skill of healing a wound, or helping the sick. But if neither himseife, nor his wife have the skil, and his means serve, hee keepes some young practicioner in his house for the benefit of his Parish, whom yet he ever exhorts not to exceed his bounds, but in tickle cases to call in help. If all fail, then he keeps good correspondence with some neighbour Phisician, and entertaines him for the Cure of his Parish. Yet is it easie for any Scholer to attaine to such a measure of Phisick, as may be of much use to him both for himself, and others. This is done by seeing one Anatomy, reading one Book of Phisick, having one Herball by him. And let Fernelius be the Phisick Authour, for he writes briefly, neatly, and judiciously; especially let his Method of Phisick be diligently perused, as being the practicall part, and of most use. Now both the reading of him, and the knowing of herbs may be done at such times, as they may be an help, and a recreation to more divine studies, Nature serving Grace both in comfort of diversion, and the benefit of application when need requires; as also by way of illustration, even as our Saviour made plants and seeds to teach the people: for he was the true householder, who bringeth out of his treasure things new and old; the old things of Philosophy, and the new of Grace; and maketh the one serve the other. And I conceive, our Saviour did this for three reasons: first, that by familiar things hee might make his Doctrine slip the more easily into the hearts even of the meanest. Secondly, that labouring people (whom he chiefly considered) might have every where monuments of his Doctrine, remembring in gardens, his mustard-seed, and lillyes; in the field, his seed-corn, and tares; and so not be drowned altogether in the works of their vocation, but sometimes lift up their minds to better things, even in the midst of their pains. Thirdly, that he might set a Copy for Parsons. In the knowledge of simples, wherein the manifold wisedome of God is wonderfully to be seen, one thing would be carefully observed; which is, to know what herbs may be used in stead of drugs of the same nature, and to make the garden the shop: For home-bred medicines are both more easie for the Parsons purse, and more familiar for all mens bodyes. So, where the Apothecary useth either for loosing, Rubarb, or for binding, Bolearmena, the Parson useth damask or white Roses for the one, and plantaine, shepherds purse, knot-grasse for the other, and that with better successe. As for spices, he doth not onely prefer home-bred things before them, but condemns them for vanities, and so shuts them out of his family, esteeming that there is no spice comparable, for herbs, to rosemary, time, savoury, mints; and for seeds, to Fennell, and Carroway seeds. Accordingly, for salves, his wife seeks not the city, but preferrs her garden and fields before all outlandish gums. And surely hyssope, valerian, mercury, adders tongue, yerrow, melilot, and Saint Johns wort made into a salve; And Elder, camomill, mallowes, comphrey and smallage made into a Poultis, have done great and rare cures. In curing of any, the Parson and his Family use to premise prayers, for this is to cure like a Parson, and this raiseth the action from the Shop, to the Church. But though the Parson sets forward all Charitable deeds, yet he looks not in this point of Curing beyond his own Parish, except the person bee so poor, that he is not able to reward the Phisician: for as hee is Charitable, so he is just also. Now it is a justice and debt to the Commonwealth he lives in, not to incroach on others Professions, but to live on his own. And justice is the ground of Charity.
CHAP. XXIV. The Parson arguing.
THe Countrey Parson, if there be any of his parish that hold strange Doctrins, useth all possible diligence to reduce them to the common Faith. The first means he useth is Prayer, beseeching the Father of lights to open their eyes, and to give him power so to fit his discourse to them, that it may effectually pierce their hearts, and convert them. The second means is a very loving, and sweet usage of them, both in going to, and sending for them often, and in finding out Courtesies to place on them; as in their tithes, or otherwise. The third means is the observation what is the main foundation, and pillar of their cause, whereon they rely; as if he be a Papist, the Church is the hinge he turnes on; if a Schismatick, scandall. Wherefore the Parson hath diligently examined these two with himselfe, as what the Church is, how it began, how it proceeded, whether it be a rule to it selfe, whether it hath a rule, whether having a rule, it ought not to be guided by it; whether any rule in the world be obscure, and how then should the best be so, at least in fundamentall things, the obscurity in some points being the exercise of the Church, the light in the foundations being the guide; The Church needing both an evidence, and an exercise. So for Scandall: what scandall is, when given or taken; whether, there being two precepts, one of obeying Authority, the other of not giving scandall, that ought not to be preferred, especially since in disobeying there is scandall also: whether things once indifferent, being made by the precept of Authority more then indifferent, it be in our power to omit or refuse them. These and the like points hee hath accurately digested, having ever besides two great helps and powerfull perswaders on his side; the one, a strict religious life; the other an humble, and ingenuous search of truth; being unmoved in arguing, and voyd of all contentiousnesse: which are two great lights able to dazle the eyes of the misled, while they consider, that God cannot be wanting to them in Doctrine, to whom he is so gracious in Life.
CHAP. XXV. The Parson punishing.
WHensoever the Countrey Parson proceeds so farre as to call in Authority, and to do such things of legall opposition either in the presenting, or punishing of any, as the vulgar ever consters for signes of ill will; he forbears not in any wise to use the delinquent as before, in his behaviour and carriage towards him, not avoyding his company, or doing any thing of aversenesse, save in the very act of punishment: neither doth he esteem him for an enemy, but as a brother still, except some small and temporary estrangling may corroborate the punishment to a better subduing, and humbling of the delinquent; which if it happily take effect, he then comes on the faster, and makes so much the more of him, as before he alienated himselfe; doubling his regards, and shewing by all means, that the delinquents returne is to his advantage.CHAP. XXVI. The Parson's eye.
THe Countrey Parson at spare times from action, standing on a hill, and considering his Flock, discovers two sorts of vices, and two sorts of vicious persons. There are some vices, whose natures are alwayes deer, and evident, as Adultery, Murder, Hatred, Lying, &c. There are other vices, whose natures, at least in the beginning, are dark and obscure: as Covetousnesse, and Gluttony. So likewise there are some persons, who abstain not even from known sins; there are others, who when they know a sin evidently, they commit it not. It is true indeed, they are long a knowing it, being partiall to themselves, and witty to others who shall reprove them from it. A man may be both Covetous, and Intemperate, and yet hear Sermons against both, and himselfe condemn both in good earnest: and the reason hereof is, because the natures of these vices being not evidently discussed, or known commonly, the beginnings of them are not easily observable: and the beginnings of them are not observed, because of the suddain passing from that which was just now lawfull, to that which is presently unlawfull, even in one continued action. So a man dining, eats at first lawfully; but proceeding on, comes to do unlawfully, even before he is aware; not knowing the bounds of the action, nor when his eating begins to be unlawfull. So a man storing up mony for his necessary provisions, both in present for his family, and in future for his children, hardly perceives when his storing becomes unlawfull: yet is there a period for his storing, and a point, or center, when his storing, which was even now good, passeth from good to bad. Wherefore the Parson being true to his businesse, hath exactly sifted the definitions of all vertues, and vices; especially canvasing those, whose natures are most stealing, and beginnings uncertaine. Particularly, concerning these two vices, not because they are all that are of this dark, and creeping disposition, but for example sake, and because they are most common, he thus thinks: first, for covetousnes, he lays this ground: Whosoever when a just occasion cals, either spends not at all, or not in some proportion to Gods blessing upon him is covetous. The reason of the ground is manifest, because wealth is given to that end to supply our occasions. Now, if I do not give every thing its end, I abuse the Creature, I am false to my reason which should guide me, I offend the supreme Judg, in perverting that order which he hath set both to things, and to reason. The application of the ground would be infinite; but in brief, a poor man is an occasion, my countrey is an occasion, my friend is an occasion, my Table is an occasion, my apparell is an occasion: if in all these, and those more which concerne me, I either do nothing, or pinch, and scrape, and squeeze blood undecently to the station wherein God hath placed me, I am Covetous. More particularly, and to give one instance for all, if God have given me servants, and I either provide too little for them, or that which is unwholsome, being sometimes baned meat, sometimes too salt, and so not competent nourishment, I am Covetous. I bring this example, because men usually think, that servants for their mony are as other things that they buy, even as a piece of wood, which they may cut, or hack, or throw into the fire, and so they pay them their wages, all is well. Nay, to descend yet more particularly, if a man hath wherewithall to buy a spade, and yet hee chuseth rather to use his neighbours, and wear out that, he is covetous. Nevertheless, few bring covetousness thus low, or consider it so narrowly, which yet ought to be done, since there is a Justice in the least things, and for the least there shall be a judgment. Country people are full of these petty injustices, being cunning to make use of another, and spare themselves: And Scholers ought to be diligent in the observation of these, and driving of their generall Schoole rules ever to the smallest actions of Life; which while they dwell in their bookes, they will never finde; but being seated in the Countrey, and doing their duty faithfully, they will soon discover: especially if they carry their eyes ever open, and fix them on their charge, and not on their preferment. Secondly, for Gluttony, the parson lays this ground: He that either for quantity eats more then his health or imployments will bear, or for quality is licorous after dainties, is a glutton; as he that eats more then his estate will bear, is a Prodigall; and hee that eats offensively to the Company, either in his order, or length of eating, is scandalous and uncharitable. These three rules generally comprehend the faults of eating, and the truth of them needs no proofe: so that men must eat neither to the disturbance of their health, nor of their affairs, (which being overburdened, or studying dainties too much, they cannot wel dispatch) nor of their estate, nor of their brethren. One act in these things is bad, but it is the custome and habit that names a glutton. Many think they are at more liberty then they are, as if they were Masters of their health, and so they will stand to the pain, all is well. But to eat to ones hurt, comprehends, besides the hurt, an act against reason, because it is unnaturall to hurt ones self; and this they are not masters of. Yet of hurtfull things, I am more bound to abstain from those, which by mine own experience I have found hurtfull, then from those which by a Common tradition, and vulgar knowledge are reputed to be so. That which is said of hurtfull meats, extends to hurtfull drinks also. As for the quantity, touching our imployments, none must eat so as to disable themselves from a fit discharging either of Divine duties, or duties of their calling. So that if after dinner they are not fit (or unweeldy) either to pray, or work, they are gluttons. Not that all must presently work after dinner; (For they rather must not work, especially Students, and those that are weakly,) but that they must rise so, as that it is not meate or drinke that hinders them from working. To guide them in this, there are three rules: first, the custome, and knowledg of their own body, and what it can well disgest: The second, the feeling of themselves in time of eating, which because it is deceitfull; (for one thinks in eating, that he can eat more, then afterwards he finds true:) The third is the observation with what appetite they sit down. This last rule joyned with the first, never fails. For knowing what one usually can well disgest, and feeling when I go to meat in what disposition I am, either hungry or not, according as I feele my self, either I take my wonted proportion, or diminish of it. Yet Phisicians bid those that would live in health, not keep an uniform diet, but to feed variously, now more, now lesse: And Gerson, a spirituall man, wisheth all to incline rather to too much, then to too little; his reason is, because diseases of exinanition are more dangerous, then diseases of repletion. But the Parson distinguisheth according to his double aime, either of Abstinence a morall vertue, or Mortification a divine. When he deals with any that is heavy, and carnall; he gives him those freer rules: but when he meets with a refined, and heavenly disposition, he carryes them higher, even somtimes to a forgetting of themselves, knowing that there is one, who when they forget, remembers for them; As when the people hungred and thirsted after our Saviours Doctrine, and tarryed so long at it, that they would have fainted, had they returned empty, He suffered it not; but rather made food miraculously, then suffered so good desires to miscarry.
CHAP. XXVII. The Parson in mirth.
THe Countrey Parson is generally sad, because hee knows nothing but the Crosse of Christ, his minde being defixed on it with those nailes wherewith his Master was: or if he have any leisure to look off from thence, he meets continually with two most sad spectacles. Sin, and Misery; God dishonoured every day, and man afflicted. Neverthelesse, he somtimes refresheth himselfe, as knowing that nature will not bear everlasting droopings, and that pleasantnesse of disposition is a great key to do good; not onely because all men shun the company of perpetuall severity, but also for that when they are in company, instructions seasoned with pleasantnesse, both enter sooner, and roote deeper. Wherefore he condescends to humane frailties both in himseife and others; and intermingles some mirth in his discourses occasionally, according to the pulse of the hearer.
CHAP. XXVIII. The Parson in Contempt.
THe Countrey Parson knows well, that both for the generall ignominy which is cast upon the profession, and much more for those rules, which out of his choysest judgment hee hath resolved to observe, and which are described in this Book, he must be despised; because this hath been the portion of God his Master, and of Gods Saints his Brethren, and this is foretold, that it shall be so still, until things be no more. Neverthelesse, according to the Apostles rule, he endeavours that none shall despise him; especially in his own Parish he suffers it not to his utmost power; for that, where contempt is, there is no room for instruction. This he procures, first by his holy and unblameable life; which carries a reverence with it, even above contempt. Secondly, by a courteous carriage, & winning behaviour: he that wil be respected, must respect; doing kindnesses, but receiving none; at least of those, who are apt to despise: for this argues a height and eminency of mind, which is not easily despised, except it degenerate to pride. Thirdly, by a bold and impartial reproof, even of the best in the Parish, when occasion requires: for this may produce hatred in those that are reproved, but never contempt either in them, or others. Lastly, if the contempt shall proceed so far as to do any thing punishable by law, as contempt is apt to do, if it be not thwarted, the Parson having a due respect both to the person, and to the cause, referreth the whole matter to the examination, and punishment of those which are in Authority, that so the sentence lighting upon one, the example may reach to all. But if the Contempt be not punishable by Law, or being so, the Parson think it in his discretion either unfit, or bootelesse to contend, then when any despises him, he takes it either in an humble way, saying nothing at all; or else in a slighting way, shewing that reproaches touch him no more, then a stone thrown against heaven, where he is, and lives; or in a sad way, grieved at his own, and others sins, which continually breake Gods Laws, and dishonour him with those mouths, which he continually fils, and feeds: or else in a doctrinall way, saying to the contemner, Alas, why do you thus? you hurt your selfe, not me; he that throws a stone at another, hits himseife; and so between gentle reasoning, and pitying, he overcomes the evill: or lastly, in a Triumphant way, being glad, and Joyfull, that he is made conformable to his Master; and being in the world as he was, hath this undoubted pledge of his salvation. These are the five shields, wherewith the Godly receive the darts of the wicked; leaving anger, and retorting, and revenge to the children of the world, whom anothers ill mastereth, and leadeth captive without any resistance, even in resistance, to the same destruction. For while they resist the person that reviles, they resist not the evill which takes hold of them, and is farr the worse enemy.
CHAP. XXIX. The Parson with his Church-Wardens.
THe Countrey Parson doth often, both publickly, and privately instruct his Church-Wardens, what a great Charge lyes upon them, and that indeed the whole order and discipline of the Parish is put into their hands. If himselfe reforme any thing, it is out of the overflowing of his Conscience, whereas they are to do it by Command, and by Oath. Neither hath the place its dignity from the Ecclesiasticall Laws only, since even by the Common Statute-Law they are taken for a kinde of Corporation, as being persons enabled by that Name to take moveable goods, or chattels, and to sue, and to be sued at the Law concerning such goods for the use and profit of their Parish: and by the same Law they are to levy penalties for negligence in resorting to church, or for disorderly carriage in time of divine service. Wherefore the Parson suffers not the place to be vilified or debased, by being cast on the lower ranke of people; but invites and urges the best unto it, shewing that they do not loose, or go lesse, but gaine by it; it being the greatest honor of this world, to do God and his chosen service; or as David says, to be even a door-keeper in the house of God. Now the Canons being the Church-wardens rule, the Parson adviseth them to read, or hear them read often, as also the visitation Articles, which are grounded upon the Canons, that so they may know their duty, and keep their oath the better; in which regard, considering the great Consequence of their place, and more of their oath, he wisheth them by no means to spare any, though never so great; but if after gentle, and neighbourly admonitions they still persist in ill, to present them; yea though they be tenants, or otherwise ingaged to the delinquent: for their obligation to God, and their own soul, is above any temporall tye. Do well, and right, and let the world sinke.
CHAP. XXX. The Parson's Consideration of Providence.
THe Countrey Parson considering the great aptnesse if Countrey people have to think that all things come by a kind of naturall course; and that if they sow and soyle their grounds, they must have corn; if they keep and fodder well their cattel, they must have milk, and Calves; labours to reduce them to see Gods hand in all things. and to beleeve. that things are not set in such an inevitable order, but that God often changeth it according as he sees fit, either for reward or punishment. To this end he represents to his flock, that God hath and exerciseth a threefold power in every thing which concernes man. The first is a sustaining power; the second a governing power; the third a spirituall power. By his sustaining power he preserves and actuates every thing in his being; so that corne doth not grow by any other vertue, then by that which he continually supplies, as the corn needs it; without which supply the corne would instantly dry up, as a river would if the fountain were stopped. And it is observable, that if anything could presume of an inevitable course, and constancy in its operations, certainly it should be either the sun in heaven, or the fire on earth, by reason of their fierce, strong, and violent natures: yet when God pleased, the sun stood stil, the fire burned not. By Gods governing power he preserves and orders the references of things one to the other, so that though the corn do grow, and be preserved in that act by his sustaining power, yet if he suite not other things to the growth, as seasons, and weather, and other accidents by his governing power, the fairest harvests come to nothing. And it is observeable, that God delights to have men feel, and acknowledg, and reverence his power, and therefore he often overturnes things, when they are thought past danger; that is his time of interposing: As when a Merchant hath a ship come home after many a storme, which it hath escaped, he destroyes it sometimes in the very Haven; or if the goods be housed, a fire hath broken forth, and suddenly consumed them. Now this he doth, that men should perpetuate, and not break off their acts of dependance, how faire soever the opportunities present themselves. So that if a farmer should depend upon God all the yeer, and being ready to put hand to sickle, shall then secure himself, and think all cock-sure; then God sends such weather, as lays the corn, and destroys it: or if he depend on God further, even till he imbarn his corn, and then think all sure; God sends a fire, and consumes all that he hath: For that he ought not to break off, but to continue his dependance on God, not onely before the corne is inned, but after also; and indeed, to depend, and fear continually. The third power is spirituall, by which God turnes all outward blessings to inward advantages. So that if a Farmer hath both a faire harvest, and that also well inned, and imbarned, and continuing safe there; yet if God give him not the Grace to use, and utter this well, all his advantages are to his losse. Better were his corne burnt, then not spiritually improved. And it is observable in this, how Gods goodnesse strives with mans refractorinesse; Man would sit down at this world, God bids him sell it, and purchase a better: Just as a Father, who hath in his hand an apple, and a piece of Gold under it; the Child comes, and with pulling, gets the apple out of his Fathers hand: his Father bids him throw it away, and he will give him the gold for it, which the Child utterly refusing, eats it, and is troubled with wormes: So is the carnall and wilfull man with the worm of the grave in this world, and the worm of Conscience in the next.