But heere I may turne reprooving into rejoycing, that preaching is growne in any better fashion and grace with our times, by royall and reverend, both examples and countenance: only I wish that every Archippus may fulfill his Ministery, be instant and constant in preaching. Salomon the older, and wiser hee grew, the more hee taught the people, sharpened his goads, and fastned his nails; whereas many amongst us are so wise in their youth, as to affect the foolishnes of preaching; but in their dotage, Ease slayes the foole; when the doore is oyled, it leaves creaking; they must then fall to make much of themselves, till contrary with the Prophet they cry out, My fatnesse, my fatnesse, my belly, my belly; so favouring their lungs, that they will bee sure never to die of Davids consumption of zeale; let such preach, say they, that want livings: and if for shame they preach at all, it must bee rarely and easily, for breaking of their winde (my meaning is not to tax such, whom God disinables by weaknesse of body; or such as recompence their rarity with industry, as Perkins, &c.) and yet forsooth these thinke they may justly challenge, and weare the double honor of countenance and maintenance; I marvell with what right, or with what face, so long as there remaineth expresse Canon of Scripture, bequeathing it to those, that toyle in word and doctrine. Neither will zeale set us on worke onely to preach, or to preach often to avoyd the infamy of bare readers; but it will teach us to preach painefully, and that in the evidence and demonstration, not so much of art, or nature, as of the spirit and grace; regarding onely, that the people know Christ and him crucified; not caring whether they know what wee have read, how many quotations our memory will carry levell, how roundly wee can utter our minde in new minted words, in like sounding, idle, vaine, and offensive Paranomasies; I blush to fall into the least touch of that kinde: yet at once to shew and reproove that childish folly, It is a vaine of vaine preaching, turning sound preaching into a sound of preaching, tickling mens eares, like a tinckling cymball, feeding them, [Greek: hedusmati kai ouk edesmasi], spoyling the plaine song, with descant and division: what is this but to shew our owne levitie and want of true Art; indeede affecting such a dancing, piperly and effeminate eloquence (as Tully, Demosthenes, or any Masculine Oratour would scorne) in steade of that divine powerfull deliverie, which becommeth him, that speakes the Oracles of God. If ever wee meane to doe any good, wee must exhort and reproove, with all vehemency and authority; lifting upp our voyce as a trumpet, as the sonnes of thunder; pearcing their eares, witnessing, striving and contending, according to our gift whatsoever it bee, to manifest our affections, that wee may worke upon the people; which all the Art in the world will not teach us to doe: onely zeale at the heart will naturally produce it, without straining or affecting. If God require the heart as well as the head; why should wee not labour to moove the affections, as well as enforme the judgement; There is a doctrinall, and as some tearme it, a Doctorly kinde of preaching, which is admired of some that understand it not; of others that could be content with the Masse againe, because it was gentle, and had no teeth in it. And such Sermons I have sometimes heard, for matter voyd of exception, but so delivered, as if one were acting a part, or saying a lesson by heart. It hath called to minde a song which sometimes I have met withall, excellently composed, full of sweet ayre, surely and truely sung; but with flat and dead voyces without spirit, which hath marred the musique: Of such a Sermon and Preacher, the Countreymans verdict did well, that said, this man may bee a great scholler, but hee wants beetle and wedges to heaw our knotted timber withall, our greene wood will not burn unlesse it be better blown; you shall sometimes see an excellent horse of shape and colour, having many of those markes Du Bartes describes in Caines supposed horse; which yet wanting mettle hath beene of little worth, and lesse use. If there were no other Preachers then these, which hold themselves the onely profound and learned Preachers, I muse what should become of conversion of soules, which they that covet; must come with the spirit of Elias, to turne the hearts of the fathers to their children, I may in truth, and I hope with modesty speake with the Preacher, that in observing I have observed, and have found, that divers great Clarkes have had but little fruit of their ministery; but hardly any truely zealous man of God (though of lesser gifts) but have had much comfort of their labours, in their owne and bordering parishes, being in this likened by Gregorie, to the yron on the Smiths anvile sparkling round about. And if for this any bordering neighbours, whose cold labours worke not the like successe, shall accuse them of some kinde (I know not what) of policie in bewitching the people; they may well reply, Behold our zealous affections are our charmes, and zeale all our witchcraft, as Latimer well answered one that accused the people of partiality, for not affecting him that preached one of his printed Sermons, that hee had indeede his Sticke, but wanted his Rosen; meaning his zealous manner of preaching and living, without which last, all the former will doe but little good, if a good ensample of life accompany not their doctrine, as lightning doth thunder. For there are some (I speake with sorrow of heart) that seeme to have fire in their preaching, but carry water in their life; being notoriously proud, covetous, or debauched, stained with odious vices. Let us heare the summ of all. Doe wee love Christ more then ordinary? would wee give proofe of our trebble love to him? Let us then feede his flocke with a trebble zeale, expressed in our prayer, preaching and living: Let us make it appeare to the consciences of all, that the top of our ambition is Gods glory: and that wee preferr the winning of soules, to the winning of the world.
This title of Angels why may it not also be extended to Magistrates, as well as that higher stile, of Gods; Sure I am, that the scarlet robe of zeale would exceeding well become them. Jethro maketh it their prime and essentiall character; God and Moses, their onely and sole, in the charge and commission to Jehoshuah so oft repeated; Onely be of good courage. And if David were now to re-pen his Psalme; I thinke hee might alter the forme of his counsell, and say, Bee zealous yee Rulers and Judges of the world, and not wise and politique: or rather under the tearmes of wisdome, hee comprehends indeede the zeale wee call for, the most now adayes being Gallio's, wise onely for the matters of the Commonwealth; not having a sparke of that spirit which was in Phineas, Daniel, and Nehemias, &c. for the Lord of hosts, or to his Lawes and Commandements; as if God had made Magistrates keepers onely of the second Table, governours of men, and not of Christians; guardians onely of civill societies, and not of his Church, and shepheards also of his flocke. Are Idolatries, blasphemies, prophaning of Saboths, no sinns? Why then either have not the lawes force and strength enough in them (as sometime wee are answered when wee complaine) or why are they not executed for the suppressing of these raging sins? are not all they punished with death in the Scriptures, as well as breaches of the second table? Blood I leave to the malignant Church, and admire clemency in Rulers, as much as any; but yet I know the prophane dissolutenesse of the times, requires a three stringed whipp of severity to purge our Augean stable of the soule abuses, whipt often with penns and tongues, but spared by them that beare the sword (a man may say of many Governours) altogether in vaine for matters of religion. Are not kings of the earth charg'd to render double to the bloody strumpet of Rome? Why then doth the hurtfull pitty of our times imbolden and increase their numbers? Laodicea it selfe, I doubt not, for matters of mine and thine, had (as their name imports) good civill justice and justicers; but what was God the neerer for it? doth hee not threaten for all that to spue them out of his mouth? shall hee not curse those that doe his worke negligently, fearfully & partially? Our times complaine of two speciall canker wormes of justice, which eat up zeale in Magistrates. The first is Covetousnesse, which makes men of place to transgresse for a morsell of bread; the zeale of their owne houses consumes the zeale of Gods house: The building of great houses, keeping of great houses, and matching with great houses, raising and leaving of great houses behinde them, makes them so ravenous, that they devoure so much, as choakes all their zeale; which would teach them to shake their laps of bribes, and scorne to accept gifts, though men would augment them for the perverting of judgement. The other is Cowardice and Fearfulnes: which how unfit, and base a quality did Nehemiah thinke it for a man of his place? no better then shynesse in a fore-horse, whose eyes men fence on both sides, that they may lead the way, and goe without starting; unto which, zeale is answerable in Magistrates, causing them onely to see him that is invisible, without casting a squint eye at men; to sing to God onely of judgement and mercy, without tuning their songs to mans eare; to walke in the perfect way, without turning, either to the right or left hand for feare of favour. Oh that there were such an heart in our leaders; how easily would our people follow! what a spring tide of zeale should wee have, if the Sunne and Moone would cast out a benigne aspect upon them! Doth it not flourish in all those shires and townes, where the Word and Sword doe joyntly cherish it? In others which are the greatest number, how doth it languish and wane away, and hang downe the head? where is it in diverse places of the land to bee seene? I had almost sayd in my haste and heat, there is none that hath zeale, no not one, there is no courage for the truth; but that I remember that Eliah was checked for over-shooting himselfe in his too short and quicke computation. I hope the Lord hath his fifties amongst us, though but thinn sowne in comparison of the swarmes of professed Recusants, and Church-Papists, of prophane Atheists, key-cold worldlings, and lukewarme professors. The bodies of our many severall Congregations, yea even of the better sort, whereunto have they beene likened by our separated adversaries; but unto the Prophet Hosea his cake, halfe baked upon the hearth, having one side, that is, the one side to the world-ward, in publique service, scorched a little and browned over; but the inside to God-ward, in private, and family-duties, no better then dough; many of them making indeede some shew, as the out-landish fruits that are plashed upon our walls, but wanting heat never come to maturity. If wee should make good their resemblances, how then should wee please the stomacke of God? who hath indeede brooked and borne us a long time, I doubt but wamblingly. How neare were wee going in 88. and in the powder treason? Doe we thinke he will ever digest us, in the temper wee are in? which (to confesse the truth of the fashionable Christian) what is it but a state of neutrality, indifferency, or such a mediocrity, as will just serve the time, satisfie Law, or stand with reputation of neighbours? beyond which, if any step a little forward, do not the rest hunt upon the stop? If there hap to breake out a sparkle of zeale in any one house in a parish; is not the whole towne in an uprore, as when the bells ring awke every man brings his bucket, to the quenching of this fire? If hell bee in an Ale-house, who cryes out of it? & as for our Sundayes Church-service, which is all that God gets at our hands; how perfunctorily, and fashionably is it slubbered over; how are his Saboths made the voyder and dung-hill for all refuse businesse, divided betweene the Church and the Ale-house, the May-pole commonly beguiling the Pulpit? What man would not spue to see God thus worshipped? This want of devotion makes the foule mouthed Papists to spet at us: this want of reformation, makes the queasie-stomacked Brownists cast themselves out of the Church; and shall God alwayes suffer the land to beare us? But behold, he stands at the door & knocks, by treasons, by plagues, by the hammer of dearths, discontents, fires, inundations, especially by the word; his locks are wet with waiting. Oh before hee shake off the dust of his feet against us, and turne to some other nation more worthy, let us open the doore, that hee may come in and sup with us; if hee love us, hee will purge us, and scoure us, by one chastizement or other: if hee have no pleasure in us, hee cannot but unburthen his stomacke of us; If all the land besides should turne the deafe eare, yet let mee entreat and charge you of my flock to heare his voyce, & be zealous. Since my comming amongst you, I have handled some bookes of the olde Testament, the Epistles to the Romanes, to the Hebrewes, of Saint James, Peter and John, out of them taught the doctrine of the Law, of Faith, Love and good Workes: now in the choyce of this Epistle of Christ to Laodicea, my desire was to boyle up the former to their just temper: in which worke I can willingly bee content to spend my strength, and dayes, if God see it fit. I cannot be a better sacrifice then to God, and for you, if I waste my selfe, so you may have light & heat; what else is the end of my life? God hath given you a name, your zeale is gone abroad, & I hope you have many names among you; the Lord encrease their number and zeale. If but one of us this day, shall open this doore of his heart with Jehoshuah, let others chuse, I and my house will serve the Lord more zealously then heeretofore; neither I nor hee shall have lost our labours. A lively picture casts the eye upon every one that comes neere it: such is the word with whom, and with which we have to do; Let him that is now colde, grow colder & colder; but let him that hath an eare, heare what hath beene sayd to the Churches; and be zealous and amend.
The Lord give us not onely understanding, but zeale in all things: he baptize us with fire: hee breath on us, and inspire into us the spirit of life & power, &c. So shall wee runn the wayes of his commandements.
End of A Coal From The Altar, To Kindle The