The Ancients aimed right, and shot neere, if not somwhat with the shortest. The moderne well discovered the use and exercise of more affections, then love, within the fathome and compasse of zeale; but in helping that default, went themselves somewhat wide, and came not close to the marke: which I ascribe not to any defect of eye-sight in those sharpe sighted Eagles; but onely to the want of fixed contemplation. And to speake truth, I have oft wondered why poore Zeale, a vertue so high in Gods books, could never be so much beholding to mens writings as to obtain a just treatise, which hath beene the lot of many particular vertues of inferiour worth; a plaine signe of too much under-value and neglect.
Hee that shall stedfastly view it, shall finde it not to bee a degree or intension of love, or any single affection (as the Schooles rather confined then defined zeale) neither yet any mixt affection (as the later, rather compounded then comprehended the nature of it) but an hot temper, higher degree or intension of them all. As varnish is no one color, but that which gives glosse & lustre to all; So the opposites of zeale, key-coldnes and lukewarmnesse, which by the Law of contraries must bee of the same nature, are no affections, but severall tempers of them all.
[Sidenote: Acts 26.7.]
Paul warrants this description where hee speakes of the twelve Tribes. They served God with intension or vehemency.
The roote shewes the nature of the branch. Zeale comes of [Greek: zo], a word framed of the very sound and hissing noise, which hot coales or burning iron make when they meete with their contrary. In plaine English, zeale is nothing but heate: from whence it is, that zealous men are oft in Scripture sayd to burne in the spirit. [Greek: zeontes pneumati].
Hee that doth moderately or remisly affect any thing, may be stiled Philemon, a lover; he that earnestly or extreamely, Zelotes, a zelot; who to all the objects of his affections, is excessively and passionately disposed, his love is ever fervent, his desires eager, his delights ravishing, his hopes longing, his hatred deadly, his anger fierce, his greefe deep, his feare terrible. The Hebrewes expresse these Intensions by doubling the word. This being the nature of zeale in generall, Christian zeale of which wee desire onely to speake, differs from carnall and worldly, chiefly in the causes and objects.
It is a spirituall heate wrought in the heart of man by the holy Ghost, improoving the good affections of love, joy, hope, &c. for the best service and furtherance of Gods glory, with all the appurtenances thereof, his word, his house, his Saints and salvation of soules: using the contrarie of hatred, anger, greefe, &c as so many mastives to flie upon the throat of Gods enemies, the Divell, his Angels, sinne, the world with the lusts thereof. By the vertue wherof a Zealot may runne through all his affections, and with David, breath zeale out of every pipe, after this manner for a taste;
[Sidenote: Psalme Love.]
How doe I love thy Law (O Lord) more then the hony or the hony-combe, more then thousands of silver and gold!
Thine enemies I hate with a perfect hatred.
Thy testimonies are my delight: I rejoyce more in them, then they that finde great spoyles, more then in my appoynted food.
Mine eyes gush out rivers of teares. Oh that my head were a fountain of teares, because they destroy thy Law.
Mine eyes are dimme with wayting: how doe I long for thy salvation?
Thy judgements are terrible, I tremble and quake, etc.
Look what pitch of affection the naturall man bestowes upon his dearest darling, what unsatiable thirst the covetous worldling upon his Mammon, the ambitious upon his honour, the voluptuous upon his pleasure; the same the Christian striveth in equall, yea, (if possible) farre exceeding tearmes to convert and conferre upon God and his worship.
In briefe, to open a little crevise of further light, and to give a little glimpse of heat: Zeale is to the soule, that which the spirits are to the bodie; wine to the spirits, putting vigour and agility into them. Whence comes that elegant Antithesis in the Scripture. Bee not drunke with wine wherein is excesse, but be filled with the Spirit.
[Sidenote: Ser.41. in Can.49.]
[Sidenote: Acts 2.]
Christ is sayd to lead his Spouse into the wine-cellar: which Simily Bernard delighting oft to repeat, in two or three Sermons interprets of a speciall measure of zeale inspired into his Church. Thus (saith hee) Christ led his Disciples into the wine cellar on the day of Pentecost; and filled them, and the house with such zeale as they came forth like Giants refreshed with wine, and seemed to the people as men drunke with new wine.
It is to the soule, as wings to the foule: this also is a Scripture embleme to picture the Angels with wings, as in the hangings of the Temple, and in the visions of the revelation, in token of their ardent and zealous execution of Gods will: whence also they have their name Seraphim; hee maketh his ministers a flame of fire.
To this fire and these wings, which we in the Lords prayer desire to imitate, there is nothing in us answerable but our zeale; as wheeles to the charriot: which makes us not goe, but runne the wayes of Gods Commandements, and so runne that we may obtaine. As sailes to the ship, and winde to the sailes, to which alludes the phrase so frequent in Scripture, Plerophorie.
As courage to the souldier, mettle to the horse, dust to the ground, which makes it bring forth much fruit, yea an hundredfold: vivacity to all creatures. To conclude this, this is that celestiall fire which was shadowed out unto us by that poore element in comparison, and beggarly rudiment, the fire (I meane) of such necessary use in the law, which rather then it should be wanting, the Lord caused it to descend from heaven, that it might cause the Sacrifices to ascend thither againe, as a sweet incense unto the Lord, without which no burnt offering was acceptable.