But heere mee thinke I heare the lukewarme worldling of our times, fume & chafe, and aske what needs all this adoe for zeale, as if all Gods people were not zealous enough.
Such as thinke they are, or can bee zealous enough, neede no other conviction to bee poore, blinde, naked, wretched and pittifull Laodiceans: Fire is ever climbing and aspiring higher; zeale is ever aiming at that which is before; carried towards perfection; thinking meanely of that which is past, and already attained, condemning his unprofitable service, as Calvin his last Will: this rule tries full conceited Christians.
[Sidenote: 2 Object.]
What would you have us doe? wee professe, keepe our Church, heare Sermons, as Christians ought to doe.
Affectionate friendship and service is not onely for publique shew and pomp, upon festivall dayes, in Chambers of Presence; but for domesticall, ordinary, and private use; to such holy-day and Church retainers, God may well say, Let us have some of this zeale at home and apart.
All affections are most passionate, without a witnesse. Such as whose families, closets, fields, beds, walkes, doe testifie of their worship, as well as temples & Synagogues, are right servitors: God much respects their devotions; and they have strong proofe of the power of godlinesse.
[Sidenote: 3 Object.]
Wee would you should know, that wee are such as have prayer sayd or read in our families and housholds; or else we say some to our selves at our lying downe, and uprising and more then that, say you what you will, wee holde more then needs.
First, know that zeale knowes no such unmannerly courses, as to slubber over a few prayers, whiles you are dressing and undressing your selves, as most doe, halfe asleepe, halfe awake; know further, that such as hold onely a certaine stint of daily duties, as malt-horses their pace, or mill-horses their round, out of custome or forme, are far from that mettle which is ever putting forward, growing from strength to strength, and instant in duties, in season, out of season: and this sayes hard to lazy Christians.
[Sidenote: 4 Object.]
May not wee goe too far on the right hand?
It is true: but liberality baulkes, and feares covetousnesse and niggardize, more a great deale then prodigallity; so does zeale lukewarmnes and coldnesse, more then too much heate and forwardnesse; the defect is more opposite and dangerous to some vertues, then the excesse.
[Sidenote: 5 Object.]
Why? are not some thinke you, too straight laced, that dare not use their Christian liberty in some recreations? sware by small oathes, or lend money for reasonable use? hath not God left many things indifferent, wherein some shew themselves more nice then wise?
Zeale will cut of the right hand, if it cause to offend; much more to pare the nayles and superfluities: it consumes the strongest, dearest corruptions; much more will it singe off such haire and drosse as these: If ought be praise worthy, it imbraceth such things; if any be doubtfull, carrying shew of evill, of ill reporte, it dares not meddle with them; it feares that some of these are as indifferent, as fornication was among the heathen.
[Sidenote: 6 Object.]
There are but few such, no not of the better sort, as you speake of.
Graunt there bee any, and zealous emulation culleth the highest examples. Such as meane to excell in any Art, travell to find out the rarest workemen, purchase the choysest Copies; hee that hath true zeale, will strive to purge himselfe, as Christ is pure.
[Sidenote: 7 Object.]
Will you have us runne before our neighbours, or live without example or company?
Cowards and cravens, stand and look who goes first: souldiers of courage will cast lots for the onset and fore-rank, for desperat services, and single combats. Lades will not go without the way be led.
[Sidenote: 8 Object.]
So we may soone come to trouble, and danger enough.
What daunger can there bee, of an honest, peaceable, religious forwardnesse?
The slug or snaile, puts out the tender horne to feele for lets in the way, and puls them in where there is no cause; so doe the fearfull that shall be without: but zeale either findes no dangers, or makes them none; it neither feares to doe well, or to reproove ill doers, let who so will be displeased.
Some indeed care not whome they offend, they are so harsh and fiery, they can beare with nothing.
[Sidenote: 9 Object.]
Will true Christianity allow us to beare with any sinne?
Can tinne, or hot iron choose but hisse againe, if cold water be cast on it? can a righteous soul choose but vexe it selfe at open evill? Such Ostriches as can digest oathes, prophane and filthie speeches, shew what mettle they have for the Lord of hosts; who yet will be ready enough to offer the challenge, or stab, for the least disgrace to themselves, or their mistresse: Phineas had rather, if it were lawfull, fight in Gods quarrels then his owne.
[Sidenote: 10 Object.]
All are not by nature of so hot dispositions, or so fiery-spirited, as others.
If there bee such a dull flegmaticke creature as hath no life nor spirite in any thing hee goes about, or whome nothing will moove; hee may plead complexion, and yet grace is above nature: but the best way is; See every man compare his devotion in matters of God, with his spirits and mettle in other affayres, wherein his element or delight lies; if the one equall not the other, the fault is not in nature: the oldest man hath memory enough for his gold, and the coldest constitution heate enough where it likes.
[Sidenote: 11 Object.]
Well, our harts may bee as good as the best though we cannot shew it.
Fire cannot be long smothered, it will either finde a vent, or goe out; zeale will either finde word, or deede, to expresse it selfe withall.
[Sidenote: 12 Object.]
All have not the gift of utterance.
Violent affections have made the dumbe to finde a tongue; If it be lowe water the mille may stand; but aboundance of heart will set the wheeles on going What earnest discourses will unlearned Mariners make of their voiages? Huntsmen of their game, &c.
[Sidenote: 13 Object.]
All have not ability and meanes: many have great charges.
Love and zeale are munificent, make money their servant, not their master: wheresoever the heart is enlarged, the hand cannot bee straightned; where the bowells are open, the purse is not shut. Herod for his pleasure, cares not for halfe his kingdome; what will not some Gentle-men give for hawks and hounds? not onely the poore woman that spent the rich oyntment on Christ, the widow that gave all her substance, the converts that solde all, and threw all at the feet of the Apostles, but even the bounty of the superstitious Papists shall rise in judgement against such as professe a religion, wil give it good words & countenance; but bee at no cost with it, and know a cheaper way to save charge withall.
[Sidenote: 14 Object.]
All have not so much leisure to spend, so much time and study, about matters of religion, they have somewhat else to doe.
There are indeede many vanities, which distract and divide the minde of worldlings; but zeale counts one thing needefull, to which it makes all other veile and stand by. Is there any so good an husband of his time, that will not steale some houre for his pleasure; that cannot spare his God and his soule halfe an houre, morning and evening; that bestowes not idly, as much time as a Sermon or two would take upp in the weeke? The soule I confesse hath his satiety, as well as the body; but why should we sit on thornes, more at a Sermon then at a Play; thinke the Saboths longer then holi-daies; but for want of zeale? If thou beest not a vaine and willing deceiver of thy selfe, and others; deale honestly & plainly with thy soule, try thy selfe by these few rules; and if thou judgest thy selfe to come short of them, amend and be Zealous.