Chapters 31-Concluding Material
CHAP. XXXI. The Parson in Liberty.
THe Countrey Parson observing the manifold wiles of Satan (who playes his part sometimes in drawing Gods Servants from him, sometimes in perplexing them in the service of God) stands fast in the Liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free. This Liberty he compasseth by one distinction, and that is, of what is Necessary, and what is Additionary. As for example: It is necessary, that all Christians should pray twice a day, every day of the week, and four times on Sunday, if they be well. This is so necessary, and essentiall to a Christian, that he cannot without this maintain himself in a Christian state. Besides this, the Godly have ever added some houres of prayer, as at nine, or at three, or at midnight, or as they think fit, & see cause, or rather as Gods spirit leads them. But these prayers are not necessary, but additionary. Now it so happens, that the godly petitioner upon some emergent interruption in the day, or by over-sleeping himself at night, omits his additionary prayer. Upon this his mind begins to be perplexed, and troubled, and Satan, who knows the exigent, blows the fire, endeavouring to disorder the Christian, and put him out of his station, and to inlarge the perplexity, untill it spread, and taint his other duties or piety, which none can perform so wel in trouble, as in calmness. Here the Parson interposeth with his distinction, and shews the perplexed Christian, that this prayer being additionary, not necessary; taken in, not commanded, the omission thereof upon just occasion ought by no means to trouble him. God knows the occasion as wel as he, and He is as a gracious Father, who more accepts a common course of devotion, then dislikes an occasionall interruption. And of this he is so to assure himself, as to admit no scruple, but to go on as cheerfully, as if he had not been interrupted. By this it is evident, that the distinction is of singular use and comfort, especially to pious minds, which are ever tender, and delicate. But here there are two Cautions to be added. First, that this interruption proceed not out of slacknes, or coldness, which will appear if the Pious soul foresee and prevent such interruptions, what he may, before they come, and when for all that they do come, he be a little affected therewith, but not afflicted, or troubled; if he resent it to a mislike, but not a griefe. Secondly, that this interruption proceede not out of shame. As for example: A godly man, not out of superstition, but of reverence to Gods house, resolves whenever he enters into a Church, to kneel down, and pray, either blessing God, that he will be pleased to dwell among men; or beseeching him, that whenever he repaires to his house, he may behave himself so as befits so great a presence; and this briefly. But it happens, that neer the place where he is to pray, he spyes some scoffing ruffian, who is likely to deride him for his paines: if he now, shall either for fear or shame, break his custome, he shall do passing ill: so much the rather ought he to proceed, as that by this he may take into his Prayer humiliation also. On the other side, if I am to visit the sick in haste, and my neerest way ly through the Church, I will not doubt to go without staying to pray there (but onely, as I passe, in my heart) because this kinde of Prayer is additionary, not necessary, and the other duty overweighs it: So that if any scruple arise, I will throw it away, and be most confident, that God is not displeased. This distinction may runne through all Christian duties, and it is a great stay and setling to religious souls.
CHAP. XXXII. The Parson's Surveys.
THe Countrey Parson hath not onely taken a particular Survey of the faults of his own Parish, but a generall also of the diseases of the time, that so, when his occasions carry him abroad, or bring strangers to him, he may be the better armed to encounter them. The great and nationall sin of this Land he esteems to be Idlenesse; great in it selfe, and great in Consequence: For when men have nothing to do, then they fall to drink, to steal, to whore, to scoffe, to revile, to all sorts of gamings. Come, say they, we have nothing to do, lets go to the Tavern, or to the stews, or what not. Wherefore the Parson strongly opposeth this sin, whersoever he goes. And because Idleness is twofold, the one in having no calling, the other in walking carelesly in our calling, he first represents to every body the necessity of a vocation. The reason of this assertion is taken from the nature of man, wherein God hath placed two great Instruments, Reason in the soul, and a hand in the Body, as ingagements of working: So that even in Paradise man had a calling, and how much more out of Paradise, when the evills which he is now subject unto, may be prevented, or diverted by reasonable imployment. Besides, every gift or ability is a talent to be accounted for, and to be improved to our Masters Advantage. Yet is it also a debt to our Countrey to have a Calling, and it concernes the Common-wealth, that none should be idle, but all busied. Lastly, riches are the blessing of God, and the great Instrument of doing admirable good; therfore all are to procure them honestly, and seasonably, when they are not better imployed. Now this reason crosseth not our Saviours precept of selling what we have, because when we have sold all, and given it to the poor, we must not be idle, but labour to get more, that we may give more, according to St. Pauls rule, Ephes. 4. 28. I Thes. 4. 11, 12. So that our Saviours selling is so far from crossing Saint Pauls working, that it rather establisheth it, since they that have nothing, are fittest to work. Now because the onely opposer to this Doctrine is the Gallant, who is witty enough to abuse both others, and himself, and who is ready to ask, if he shall mend shoos, or what he shall do? Therfore the Parson unmoved, sheweth, that ingenuous and fit imployment is never wanting to those that seek it. But if it should be, the Assertion stands thus: All are either to have a Calling, or prepare for it: He that hath or can have yet no imployment, if he truly, and seriously prepare for it, he is safe and within bounds. Wherefore all are either presently to enter into a Calling, if they be fit for it, and it for them; or else to examinewith care, and advice, what they are fittest for, and to prepare for that with all diligence. But it will not be amisse in this exceeding usefull point to descend to particulars: for exactnesse lyes in particulars. Men are either single, or marryed: The marryed and house-keeper hath his hands full, if he do what he ought to do. For there are two branches of his affaires; first, the improvement of his family, by bringing them up in the fear and nurture of the Lord; and secondly, the improvement of his grounds, by drowning, or draining, or stocking, or fencing, and ordering his land to the best advantage both of himself, and his neighbours. The Italian says, None fouls his hands in his own businesse: and it is an honest, and just care, so it exceed not bounds, for every one to imploy himselfe to the advancement of his affairs, that hee may have wherewithall to do good. But his family is his best care, to labour Christian soules, and raise them to their height, even to heaven; to dresse and prune them, and take as much joy in a straight-growing childe, or servant, as a Gardiner doth in a choice tree. Could men finde out this delight, they would seldome be from home; whereas now, of any place, they are least there. But if after all this care well dispatched, the house-keepers Family be so small, and his dexterity so great, that he have leisure to look out, the Village or Parish which either he lives in, or is neer unto it, is his imployment. Hee considers every one there, and either helps them in particular, or hath generall Propositions to the whole Towne or Hamlet, of advancing the publick Stock, and managing Commons, or Woods, according as the place suggests. But if hee may bee of the Commission of Peace, there is nothing to that: No Common-wealth in the world hath a braver Institution then that of Justices of the Peace: For it is both a security to the King, who hath so many dispersed Officers at his beck throughout the Kingdome, accountable for the publick good; and also an honourable Imployment of a Gentle, or Noble-man in the Country he lives in, inabling him with power to do good, and to restrain all those, who else might both trouble him and the whole State. Wherefore it behoves all, who are come to the gravitie, and ripenesse of judgement for so excellent a Place, not to refuse, but rather to procure it. And whereas there are usually three Objections made against the Place; the one, the abuse of it, by taking petty Countrey bribes; the other, the casting of it on mean persons, especially in some Shires: and lastly, the trouble of it: These are so far from deterring any good man from the place, that they kindle them rather to redeem the Dignity either from true faults, or unjust aspersions. Now, for single men, they are either Heirs, or younger Brothers: The Heirs are to prepare in all the fore-mentioned points against the time of their practice. Therefore they are to mark their Fathers discretion in ordering his House and Affairs; and also elsewhere, when they see any remarkable point of Education or good husbandry, and to transplant it in time to his own home, with the same care as others, when they meet with good fruit, get a graffe of the tree, inriching their Orchard, and neglecting their House. Besides, they are to read Books of Law, and Justice; especially, the Statutes at large. As for better Books of Divinity, they are not in this Consideration, because we are about a Calling, and a preparation thereunto. But chiefly, and above all things, they are to frequent Sessions and Sizes; for it is both an honor which they owe to the Reverend Judges and Magistrates, to attend them, at least in their Shire; and it is a great advantage to know the practice of the Land; for our Law is Practice. Sometimes he may go to Court, as the eminent place both of good and ill. At other times he is to travell over the King's Dominions, cutting out the Kingdome into Portions, which every yeer he surveys peecemeal. When there is a Parliament, he is to endeavour by all means to be a Knight or Burgess there; for there is no School to a Parliament. And when he is there, he must not only be a morning man, but at Committees also; for there the particulars are exactly discussed, which are brought from thence to the House but in generall. When none of these occasions call him abroad, every morning that hee is at home hee must either ride the Great Horse, or exercise some of his Military gestures. For all Gentlemen, that are now weakned, and disarmed with sedentary lives, are to know the use of their Arms: and as the Husbandman labours for them, so must they fight for, and defend them, when occasion calls. This is the duty of each to other, which they ought to fulfill: And the Parson is a lover of and exciter to justice in all things, even as John the Baptist squared out to every one (even to Souldiers) what to do. As for younger Brothers, those whom the Parson finds loose, and not ingaged into some Profession by their Parents, whose neglect in this point is intolerable, and a shamefull wrong both to the Common-wealth, and their own House: To them, after he hath shew'd the unlawfulness of spending the day in dressing, Complementing, visiting, and sporting, he first commends the study of the Civill Law, as a brave, and wise knowledg, the Professours whereof were much imployed by Queen Elizabeth, because it is the key of Commerce, and discovers the Rules of forraine Nations. Secondly, he commends the Mathematicks, as the only wonder-working knowledg, and therefore requiring the best spirits. After the severall knowledg of these, he adviseth to insist and dwell chiefly on the two noble branches therof, of Fortification, and Navigation; The one being usefull to all Countreys, and the other especially to Hands. But if the young Gallant think these Courses dull, and phlegmatick, where can he busie himself better, then in those new Plantations, and discoveryes, which are not only a noble, but also as they may be handled, a religious imployment? Or let him travel into Germany, and France, and observing the Artifices, and Manufactures there, transplant them hither, as divers have done lately, to our Countrey's advantage.
CHAP. XXXIII. The Parson's Library.
THe Countrey Parson's Library is a holy Life: for besides the blessing that that brings upon it, there being a promise, that if the Kingdome of God be first sought, all other things shall be added, even it selfe is a Sermon. For the temptations with which a good man is beset, and the ways which he used to overcome them, being told to another, whether in private conference, or in the Church, are a Sermon. Hee that hath considered how to carry himself at table about his appetite, if he tell this to another, preacheth; and much more feelingly, and judiciously, then he writes his rules of temperance out of bookes. So that the Parson having studied, and mastered all his lusts and affections within, and the whole Army of Temptations without, hath ever so many sermons ready penn'd, as he hath victories. And it fares in this as it doth in Physick: He that hath been sick of a Consumption, and knows what recovered him, is a Physitian so far as he meetes with the same disease, and temper; and can much better, and particularly do it, then he that is generally learned, and was never sick. And if the same person had been sick of all diseases, and were recovered of all by things that he knew; there were no such Physician as he, both for skill and tendernesse. Just so it is in Divinity, and that not without manifest reason: for though the temptations may be diverse in divers Christians, yet the victory is alike in all, being by the self-same Spirit. Neither is this true onely in the military state of a Christian life, but even in the peaceable also; when the servant of God, freed for a while from temptation, in a quiet sweetnesse seeks how to please his God. Thus the Parson considering that repentance is the great vertue of the Gospel, and one of the first steps of pleasing God, having for his owne use examined the nature of it, is able to explaine it after to others. And particularly, having doubted sometimes, whether his repentance were true, or at least in that degree it ought to be, since he found himselfe sometimes to weepe more for the losse of some temporall things, then for offending God, he came at length to this resolution, that repentance is an act of the mind, not of the Body, even as the Originall signifies; and that the chiefe thing, which God in Scriptures requires, is the heart, and the spirit, and to worship him in truth, and spirit. Wherefore in case a Christian endeavour to weep, and cannot, since we are not Masters of our bodies, this sufficeth. And consequently he found, that the essence of repentance, that it may be alike in all Gods children (which as concerning weeping it cannot be, some being of a more melting temper then others) consisteth in a true detestation of the soul, abhorring, and renouncing sin, and turning unto God in truth of heart, and newnesse of life: Which acts of repentance are and must be found in all Gods servants: Not that weeping is not usefull, where it can be, that so the body may joyn in the grief, as it did in the sin; but that, so the other acts be, that is not necessary: so that he as truly repents, who performes the other acts of repentance, when he cannot more, as he that weeps a floud of tears. This Instruction and comfort the Parson getting for himself, when he tels it to others, becomes a Sermon. The like he doth in other Christian vertues, as of Faith, and Love, and the Cases of Conscience belonging thereto, wherein (as Saint Paul implyes that he ought, Romans 2.) hee first preacheth to himselfe, and then to others.
CHAP. XXXIV. The Parson's Dexterity in applying of Remedies.
THe Countrey Parson knows, that there is a double state of a Christian even in this Life, the one military, the other peaceable. The military is, when we are assaulted with temptations either from within or from without, The Peaceable is, when the Divell for a time leaves us, as he did our Saviour, and the Angels minister to us their owne food, even joy, and peace; and comfort in the holy Ghost. These two states were in our Saviour, not only in the beginning of his preaching, but afterwards also, as Mat. 22. 35. He was tempted: And Luke IO. 2I. He rejoyced in Spirit: And they must be likewise in all that are his. Now the Parson having a Spirituall Judgement, according as he discovers any of his Flock to be in one or the other state, so he applies himselfe to them. Those that he findes in the peaceable state, he adviseth to be very vigilant, and not to let go the raines as soon as the horse goes easie. Particularly, he counselleth them to two things: First, to take heed, lest their quiet betray them (as it is apt to do) to a coldnesse, and carelesnesse in their devotions, but to labour still to be as fervent in Christian Duties, as they remember themselves were, when affliction did blow the Coals. Secondly, not to take the full compasse, and liberty of their Peace: not to eate of all those dishes at table, which even their present health otherwise admits; nor to store their house with all those furnitures which even their present plenty of wealth otherwise admits; nor when they are among them that are merry, to extend themselves to all that mirth, which the present occasion of wit and company otherwise admits; but to put bounds, and hoopes to their joyes: so will they last the longer, and when they depart, returne the sooner. If we would judg ourselves, we should not be judged; and if we would bound our selves, we should not be bounded. But if they shall fear, that at such, or such a time their peace and mirth have carryed them further then this moderation, then to take Jobs admirable Course, who sacrificed lest his Children should have transgressed in their mirth. So let them go, and find some poore afflicted soul, and there be bountifull, and liberall; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Those that the Parson findes in the military state, he fortifyes, and strengthens ; with his utmost skill. Now in those that are tempted, whatsoever is unruly, falls upon two heads; either they think, that there is none that can or will look after things, but all goes by chance, or wit: Or else, though there be a great Governour of all things, yet to them he is lost, as if they said, God doth forsake and persecute them, and there is none to deliver them. If the Parson suspect the first, and find sparkes of such thoughts now and then to break forth, then without opposing directly (for disputation is no Cure for Atheisme) he scatters in his discourse three sorts of arguments; the first taken from Nature, the second from the Law, the third from Grace. For Nature, he sees not how a house could be either built without a builder, or kept in repaire without a house-keeper. He conceives not possibly, how the windes should blow so much as they can, and the sea rage so much as it can, and all things do what they can, and all, not only without dissolution of the whole, but also of any part, by taking away so much as the usuall seasons of summer and winter, earing and harvest. Let the weather be what it will, still we have bread, though sometimes more, somtimes lesse; wherewith also a carefull Joseph might meet. He conceives not possibly, how he that would beleeve a Divinity, if he had been at the Creation of all things, should lesse beleeve it, seeing the Preservation of all things; For Preservation is a Creation; and more, it is a continued Creation, and a creation every moment. Secondly, for the Law, there may be so evident, though unused a proof of Divinity taken from thence, that the Atheist, or Epicurian can have nothing to contradict. The Jewes yet live, and are known: they have their Law and Language bearing witnesse to them, and they to it: they are Circumcised to this day, and expect the promises of the Scripture; their Countrey also is known, the places, and rivers travelled unto, and frequented by others, but to them an unpenetrable rock, an unaccessible desert. Wherefore if the Jewes live, all the great wonders of old live in them, and then who can deny the stretched out arme of a mighty God? especially since it may be a just doubt, whether, considering the stubbornnesse of the Nation, their living then in their Countrey under so many miracles were a stranger thing, then their present exile, and disability to live in their Countrey. And it is observable, that this very thing was intended by God, that the Jewes should be his proof, and witnesses, as he calls them, Isaiah 43. 12. And their very dispersion in all Lands, was intended not only for a punishment to them; but for an exciting of others by their sight, to the acknowledging of God and his power Psalm 59. 11. And therefore this kind of Punishment was chosen rather then any other. Thirdly, for Grace. Besides the continuall succession (since the Gospell) of holy men, who have born witness to the truth, (there being no reason, why any should distrust Saint Luke, or Tertullian, or Chrysostome, more then Tully, Virgill, or Livy;) There are two Prophesies in the Gospel, which evidently argue Christs Divinity by their success: the one concerning the woman that spent the oyntment on our Saviour, for which he told, that it should never be forgotten, but with the Gospel it selfe be preached to all ages, Matth. 26. 13. The other concerning the destruction of Jerusalem; of which our Saviour said, that that generation should not passe, till all were fulfilled, Luke 21.32. Which Josephus's History confirmeth, and the continuance of which verdict is yet evident. To these might be added the Preaching of the Gospel in all Nations, Matthew 24. 14. which we see even miraculously effected in these new discoveryes, God turning mens Covetousnesse, and Ambitions to the effecting of his word. Now a prophesie is a wonder sent to Posterity, least they complaine of want of wonders. It is a letter sealed, and sent, which to the bearer is but paper, but to the receiver, and opener, is full of power. Hee that saw Christ open a blind mans eyes, saw not more Divinity, then he that reads the womans oyntment in the Gospell, or sees Jerusalem destroyed. With some of these heads enlarged, and woven into his discourse, at severall times and occasions, the Parson setleth wavering minds. But if he sees them neerer desperation, then Atheisme; not so much doubting a God, as that he is theirs; then he dives unto the boundlesse Ocean of Gods Love, and the unspeakeable riches of his loving kindnesse. He hath one argument unanswerable. If God hate them, either he doth it as they are Creatures, dust and ashes; or as they are sinfull. As Creatures, he must needs love them; for no perfect Artist ever yet hated his owne worke. As sinfull, he must much more love them; because notwithstanding his infinite hate of sinne, his Love overcame that hate; and with an exceeding great victory, which in the Creation needed not, gave them love for love, even the son of his love out of his bosome of love. So that man, which way soever he turnes, hath two pledges of Gods Love, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established; the one in his being, the other in his sinfull being: and this as the more faulty in him, so the more glorious in God. And all may certainly conclude, that God loves them, till either they despise that Love, or despaire of his Mercy: not any sin else, but is within his Love; but the despising of Love must needs be without it. The thrusting away of his arme makes us onely not embraced.CHAP. XXXV. The Parson's Condescending.
THe Countrey Parson is a Lover of old Customes, if they be good, and harmlesse; and the rather, because Countrey people are much addicted to them, so that to favour them therein is to win their hearts, and to oppose them therin is to deject them. If there be any ill in the custome, that may be severed from the good, he pares the apple, and gives them the clean to feed on. Particularly, he loves Procession, and maintains it, because there are contained therein 4 manifest advantages. First, a blessing of God for the fruits of the field: Secondly, justice in the Preservation of bounds: Thirdly, Charity in loving walking, and neighbourly accompanying one another, with reconciling of differences at that time, if there be any: Fourthly, Mercy in releeving the poor by a liberall distribution and largesse, which at that time is, or ought to be used. Wherefore he exacts of all to bee present at the perambulation, and those that withdraw, and sever themselves from it, he mislikes, and reproves as uncharitable, and unneighbourly; and if they will not reforme, presents them. Nay, he is so farre from condemning such assemblies, that he rather procures them to be often, as knowing that absence breedes strangeness, but presence love. Now Love is his business, and aime; wherefore he likes well, that his Parish at good times invite one another to their houses, and he urgeth them to it: and somtimes, where he knowes there hath been or is a little difference, hee takes one of the parties, and goes with him to the other, and all dine or sup together. There is much preaching in this friendliness. Another old Custome there is of saying, when light is brought in, God send us the light of heaven; And the Parson likes this very well; neither is he affraid of praising, or praying to God at all times, but is rather glad of catching opportunities to do them. Light is a great Blessing, and as great as food, for which we give thanks: and those that thinke this superstitious, neither know superstition, nor themselves. As for those that are ashamed to use this forme, as being old, and obsolete, and not the fashion, he reformes, and teaches them, that at Baptisme they professed not to be ashamed of Christs Cross, or for any shame to leave that which is good. He that is ashamed in small things, will extend his pusillanimity to is greater. Rather should a Christian Souldier take such occasions to harden himseife, and to further his exercises of Mortification.CHAP. XXXVI. The Parson Blessing.
THe Countrey Parson wonders, that Blessing the people is in so little use with his brethren: whereas he thinks it not onely a grave, and reverend thing, but a beneficial also. Those who use it not, do so either out of niceness, because they like the salutations, and complements, and formes of worldly language better; which conformity and fashionableness is so exceeding unbefitting a Minister, that it deserves reproof, not refutation: Or else, because they think it empty and superfluous. But that which the Apostles used so diligently in their writings, nay, which our Saviour himselfe used, Marke IO. 16, cannot bee vain and superfluous. But this was not proper to Christ, or the Apostles only, no more then to be a spirituall Father was appropriated to them. And if temporall Fathers bless their children, how much more may, and ought Spirituall Fathers? Besides, the Priests of the Old Testament were commanded to Blesse the people, and the forme thereof is prescribed, Numb. 6.[22-27.] Now as the Apostle argues in another case; if the Ministration of condemnation did bless, how shall not the ministration of the spirit exceed in blessing? The fruit of this blessing good Hannah found, and received with great joy, I Sam. I. 18. though it came from a man disallowed by God: for it was not the person, but Priesthood, that blessed; so that even ill Priests may blesse. Neither have the Ministers power of Blessing only, but also of cursing. So in the Old TestamentElisha cursed the children, 2 Kin. 2. 24. which though our Saviour reproved as unfitting for his particular, who was to shew all humility before his Passion, yet he allows in his Apostles. And therfore St. Peter used that fearfull imprecation to Simon Magus, Act. 8. [18-25]. Thy mony perish with thee: and the event confirmed it. So did St. Paul, 2 Tim. 4.14. and I Tim. I. 20. Speaking of Alexander the Coppersmith, who had withstood his preaching, The Lord (saith he) reward him according to his works. And again, of Hymeneus and Alexander, he saith, he had delivered them to Satan, that they might learn not to Blaspheme. The formes both of Blessing, & cursing are expounded in the Common-Prayer-book: the one in, The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, &c. and: The Peace of God, &c. The other in generall, in the Commination. Now blessing differs from prayer, in assurance, because it is not performed by way of request, but of confidence, and power, effectually applying Gods favour to the blessed, by the interesting of that dignity wherewith God hath invested the Priest, and ingaging of Gods own power and institution for a blessing. The neglect of this duty in Ministers themselves, hath made the people also neglect it; so that they are so far from craving this benefit from their ghostly Father, that they oftentimes goe out of church, before he hath blessed them. In the time of Popery, the Priests Benedicite, and his holy water were over highly valued; and now we are fallen to the clean contrary, even from superstition to coldnes, and Atheism. But the Parson first values the gift in himself, and then teacheth his parish to value it. And it is observable, that if a Minister talke with a great man in the ordinary course of complementing language, he shall be esteemed as ordinary complementers; but if he often interpose a Blessing, when the other gives him just opportunity, by speaking any good, this unusuall form begets a reverence, and makes him esteemed according to his Profession. The same is to be observed in writing Letters also. To conclude, if all men are to blesse upon occasion, as appears Rom. 12. 14. how much more those, who are spiritual Fathers?
CHAP. XXXVII Concerning detraction.
THe Countrey Parson perceiving, that most, when they are at leasure, make others faults their entertainment and discourse, and that even some good men think, so they speak truth, they may disclose anothers fault, finds it somwhat difficult how to proceed in this point. For if he absolutely shut up mens mouths, and forbid all disclosing of faults, many an evill may not only be, but also spread in his Parish, without any remedy (which cannot be applyed without notice) to the dishonor of God, and the infection of his flock, and the discomfort, discredit, & hinderance of the Pastor. On the other side, if it be unlawful to open faults, no benefit or advantage can make it lawfull; for we must not do evill, that good may come of it. Now the Parson taking this point to task, which is so exceeding useful, and hath taken so deep roote, that it seems the very life and substance of Conversation, hath proceeded thus far in the discussing of it. Faults are either notorious, or private. Again notorious faults are either such as are made known by common fame (and of these, those that know them, may talk, so they do it not with sport, but commiseration;) or else such as have passed judgment, & been corrected either by whipping, or imprisoning, or the like. Of these also men may talk, and more, they may discover them to those that know them not: because infamy is a part of the sentence against malefactours, which the Law intends, as is evident by those, which are branded for rogues, that they may be known; or put into the stocks, that they may be looked upon. But some may say, though the Law allow this, the Gospel doth not, which hath so much advanced Charity, and ranked backbiters among the generation of the wicked, Rom. I. 30. But this is easily answered: As the executioner is not uncharitable, that takes away the life of the condemned, except besides his office, he add a tincture of private malice in the joy, and hast of acting his part; so neither is he that defames him, whom the Law would have defamed, except he also do it out of rancour. For in infamy, all are executioners, and the Law gives a malefactour to all to be defamed. And as malefactors may lose & forfeit their goods, or life; so may they their good name, and the possession thereof, which before their offence and Judgment they had in all mens brests: for all are honest, till the contrary be proved. Besides, it concerns the Common-Wealth, that Rogues should be known, and Charity to the publick hath the precedence of private charity. So that it is so far from being a fault to discover such offenders, that it is a duty rather, which may do much good, and save much harme. Neverthelesse, if the punished delinquent shall be much troubled for his sins, and turne quite another man, doubtlesse then also mens affections and words must turne, and forbear to speak of that, which even God himself hath forgotten.
The Authour's Prayer before Sermon.
O Almighty and ever-living Lord God! Majesty, and Power, and Brightnesse, and Glory! How shall we dare to appear before thy face, who are contrary to thee, in all we call thee? for we are darknesse, and weaknesse, and filthinesse, and shame. Misery and sin fill our days: yet art thou our Creatour, and we thy work: Thy hands both made us, and also made us Lords of all thy creatures; giving us one world in our selves, and another to serve us: then did'st thou place us in Paradise, and wert proceeding still on in thy Favours, untill we interrupted thy Counsels, disappointed thy Purposes, and sold our God, our glorious, our gracious God for an apple. O write it! O brand it in our foreheads for ever: for an apple once we lost our God, and still lose him for no more; for money, for meat, for diet: But thou Lord, art patience, and pity, and sweetnesse, and love; therefore we sons of men are not consumed. Thou hast exalted thy mercy above all things; and hast made our salvation, not our punishment, thy glory: so that then where sin abounded, not death, but grace superabounded; accordingly, when we had sinned beyond any help in heaven or earth, then thou saidest, Lo, I come! then did the Lord of life, unable of himselfe to die, contrive to do it. He took flesh, he wept, he died; for his enemies he died; even for those that derided him then, and still despise him. Blessed Saviour! Many waters could not quench thy love! nor no pit overwhelme it. But though the streams of thy bloud were currant through darknesse, grave, and hell; yet by these thy conflicts, and seemingly hazards, didst thou arise triumphant, and therein mad'st us victorious. Neither doth thy love yet stay here! for, this word of thy rich peace, and reconciliation, thou hast committed, not to Thunder, or Angels, but to silly and sinfull men: even to me, pardoning my sins, and bidding me go feed the people of thy love. Blessed be the God of Heaven and Earth! who onely doth wondrous things. Awake therefore, my Lute, and my Viol! awake all my powers to glorifie thee! We praise thee! we blesse thee! we magnifie thee for ever! And now, O Lord! in the power of thy Victories, and in the wayes of thy Ordinances, and in the truth of thy Love, Lo, we stand here, beseeching thee to blesse thy word, wherever spoken this day throughout the universall Church. O make it a word of power and peace, to convert those who are not yet thine, and to confirme those that are: particularly, blesse it in this thy own Kingdom, which thou hast made a Land of light, a store-house of thy treasures and mercies: O let not our foolish and unworthy hearts rob us of the continuance of this thy sweet love: but pardon our sins, and perfect what thou hast begun. Ride on Lord, because of the word of truth, and meeknesse. and righteousness; and thy right hand shall teach thee terrible things. Especially, blesse this portion here assembled together, with thy unworthy Servant speaking unto them: Lord Jesu! teach thou me, that I may teach them; Sanctifie, and inable all my powers, that in their full strength they may deliver thy message reverently, readily, faithfully, & fruitfully. O make thy word a swift word, passing from the ear to the heart, from the heart to the life and conversation: that as the rain returns not empty, so neither may thy word, but accomplish that for which it is given. O Lord hear, O Lord forgive! O Lord, hearken. and do so for thy blessed Son's sake, in whose sweet and pleasing words, we say, Our Father, &c.
A Prayer after Sermon.
BLessed be God! and the Father of all mercy! who continueth to pour his benefits upon us. Thou hast elected us, thou hast called us, thou hast justified us, sanctified, and glorified us: Thou wast born for us, and thou livedst and diedst for us: Thou hast given us the blessings of this life, and of a better. O Lord! thy blessings hang in clusters, they come trooping upon us! they break forth like mighty waters on every side. And now Lord, thou hast fed us with the bread of life: so man did eat Angels food: O Lord, blesse it: O Lord, make it health and strength unto us; still striving &prospering so long within us, untill our obedience reach the measure of thy love, who hast done for us as much as may be. Grant this dear Father, for thy Son's sake, our only Saviour: To whom with thee, and the Holy Ghost, three Persons, but one most glorious, incomprehensible God, be ascribed all Honour, and Glory, and Praise, ever. Amen.