THE DIGNITIE OF PREACHING: IN A Sermon vpon 1. Thessal. 5.20.

By SAM. HIERON.

ROM. 10.15.

How beautifull are the feete of them which bring glad tydings of peace?

BY PEACE PLENTY. BY WISDOME. PEACE

AT LONDON Printed by FELIX KYNGSTON for VVil­liam Welby, and are to be sold at his shop at the signe of the Swanne in Pauls Church­yard. 1615.

TO THE RIGHT WOR­SHIPFVLL KNIGHTS, SIR FARDI­NANDO GORGES, Commander of his Maiesties Fort at Plimmouth, Sir WILLIAM STRODE of New­ingham, Sir WARVVICK HELE of Wenbury, Sir CHRISTOPHER HARYS of Rad­ford, and to the Worsh. GEORGE CHVDLEIGH of Strach­leigh Esquier.

RIGHT WORSHIPFVLL, Let it not (I beseech you) be thought presumption in me, to present that now to your view by Penne, which not long since, I commended to your eares by Voyce. I am, among many others, thankefull to God, who hath put it into your hearts, both to commiserate, and to helpe, the spirituall necessitie of an vntaught Towne, by pro­curing the establishment of a weekely Lecture in it. I hope, the Lord shall remember you in goodnesse,Nehem. 5.15. according to that which herein you haue cared to doe for that people. And I doubt not but the soules which shall reape comfort by the ordinance of God, there, will blesse you, and God for you, acknowledging you his Instruments for their best Good. It is fallen to my lot, by your chusing, to be one in this Preaching-course: when my first turne came, I thought it fitting, to hansell (as it were) the Businesse, by treating vpon the worth and necessitie of that seruice, which the rest of my Brethren and my selfe, were there called to dis­charge; that both they which wanted it, might vnderstand their Hazard, and they which enioyed it might know their Happines, if they might be so happie as to embrace it. This thing thus la­boured in by me, (according to my measure) though it was glad­ly [Page] entertained by the most, yet by some it was not so wholly ap­proued of, but thought in some particulars, to smell too much of selfe-opinion. This hath moued me (contrarie to my first thoughts) to aduenture it by printing, vpon the Common Cen­sure. I haue deliuered nothing in it, but that which I haue lear­ned, partly in the Vniuersitie, partly since by my poore studies in the Country, and that from the chiefest for learning, Place, and Paines, in this our English Church; whereof I reioyce to be a sonne, and wherein, it shall be my glorie and my crowne in the day of Christ to haue been employed as a Minister. Now, I am bold, to shroud it vnder your patronage, in as much as your cal­ling me to a Turne in this Lecture, was the occasion of its first Being, and you all likewise gaue countenance to it by your Pre­sence, (according as you haue respectiuely done the like to vs al, and I trust will doe still) when it was deliuered. If you shall please to accept it as a fruit of my due respect to each of you in your places, it is all the recompence I looke for: In confident exspectation whereof, I binde my selfe vnder my hand, to be

Euer at your Worships seruice in the Lord, SAM. HIERON.

THE DIGNITIE OF PREACHING.

1. THESS. 5.20.

Despise not Prophecying.

THE verse next before this, I handled not farre hence, now well neere halfe a yeere agoe. My meaning was to haue there al­so treated, both vpon this & that which followeth, if there had been opportuni­tie. But now, this Lecture being well begun, (and I pray God it may so long continue) and my selfe being called to beare a part therein, I thought with my selfe, I could not chuse a more fit text, wherwith, to set on with this worke, it being so direct to pro­cure honor to this preaching businesse, which the gentlemen of these parts (for their own good and the Townes) haue see­med so desirous of, and vpon which they professe to haue de­pendance. I delight not to be long in preambles, I am come hither to discharge the dutie of a Preacher, not of an Orator.

Thus then, it was Pauls aduice in the precedent verse,The coherence of the text. to euery one sensible in himselfe of the graces of Gods spirit; such as doe accompanie saluation, to beware of quenching them, and so accordingly to endeuour to keepe life in them; yea and to adde more heate vnto them, by all good meanes. Now a speciall meanes both to continue and to augment this sacred fire, is here prescribed, and it is this, not to despise pro­phecying: [Page 2] so haue you of a short text the connexion in short.

I cannot be profitable to you in discoursing vpon these words,The opening of the words. vnlesse I make you to know what that is which is here termed Prophecying, and what not to despise Prophecying. In the strictest taking of the word, to Prophecie, is to foretell some future thing, and so accordingly they were anciently termed Prophets, to whom God reuealed his special purposes touching the after times. But now in the new Testament we finde this Prophecying, not so much to signifie a reuealing before hand, by diuine inspirement, what touching States and Common-wealths, and particular persons shall ensue, as an expounding the Scriptures in such sort as might best ad­uance the common benefit. Me thinkes I finde in Paul an ex­act definition of Prophecying; It is a speaking to men, to edi­fying, to exhortation, to comfort 1. Cor. 14.3.. It is euen the very same which we terme, Preaching. I could countenance this inter­pretation, by the names of men, which deserue respect, but Pauls description is warrant enough: whatsoeuer any say, discouering their opinion touching this words meaning here, they ground vpon the place of Paul which I haue na­med. Plowing therefore with the same Heifer, we may soone attain to the depth of that which may be thought the Riddle of this place.

Now not to despise, here is to honor: for in this case there can be no third. He who doth not despise Prophecying, doth honor it, and he who doth not honor it, doth despise it. So that to come as soone as I can to the principall matter of this verse, you may please to entertaine it as it is presented you in this forme:The generall doctrine. That the exercise of preaching ought to receiue from vs all esteeme.

Wouldest thou that the spirit of God, namely, the sauing graces thereof, might bee conueied into thee and preserued in thee? loe, God hath giuen gifts vnto men, and hath fur­nished them with skill of right diuiding his holy and sacred word, Pastors and Teachers for the gathering together of his Saints, and for the comfortable discouerie of the secret of the Gospell: see thou hearken vnto these, and let their labour in [Page 3] the word, be sweete and precious to thy soule. This is the ef­fect of Pauls counsell here, which now that wee haue found out, to the end it may bee more vsefull, I am now a little fur­ther to enlarge. My proofe of this doctrine shall be made good by the declaring of two things. 1. That it is the ex­presse will and ordinance of God, that there should be in his Church a certaine calling of men, set apart to this worke and seruice, of making the holy Scriptures vsefull to the people by the act of preaching. 2. That this act of preaching is so ordained by God, that wee haue no assurance in the world to attaine saluation but by it. These two poynts well cleered, will take away all doubt touching this doctines truth. For if preaching be Gods ordinance, shall it not be honoured? and if we haue without it no hope of being saued, shall it not de­serue esteeme? If then I shall be able to double these two two poynts, I shall hope to procure an easie passage for the maine doctrine into the heart and soule of euery one that heares me. So that you wil not crie when I haue done, as they did against Paul, Away with such a fellow from the earth Act. 22.22., but rather breake out into some such note, as theirs that followed Christ, Lord euermore giue vs this preaching Ioh. 6.34.. My first taske must be this, to make it to appeare, that God neuer purposed to leaue his holy word to be no more but read, either priuat­ly in mens houses, or publikely in our Churches; but appoin­ted there should be men ordained, to expound the same by voyce, and applie it to the occasions and necessities of the people for their edifying. For this is the soule of prophecy­ing, and the very life of preaching. It openeth the Scripture, to shew what it meaneth, it fits it to the particular vses and cases of the hearers. Now that there hath been from the be­ginning a Calling of men to deale betwixt God and man in the things of God, the course of the holy storie makes it plaine. In the daies before the flood (besides that the first borne of euery familie was an officer of this kinde) we reade particularly of Enoch and of Noah; the one a Prophet by the testimonie of S. Iude Iude vers. 14., the other a Preacher of righteousnes by the witnes of S. Peter 2. Pet. 2.5.. In the following times, notwith­standing [Page 4] the smalnes of Gods Church for diuers yeeres, yet that which is said of Melchizedech, that he was a Priest of the most high God Gen. 14.18., is an argument, of some such ranke and con­dition of men as I now speake of. As the people of God mul­tiplied and began to put on the shape of a Body politique, so this course became more euident and more ordinary. Then the Tribe of Leui was deputed to a speciall attendance vpon this function Deut. 33.10., and from thence there was a continuall suc­cession of men sitting in Moses chaire vntill our Sauiours time. Christ when hee came did not ouerthrow this course, but establish it. He appoynted Apostles first Luke 6.13., they being by him instructed in the things which pertaine to the kingdome of God Act. 1.3., and precise to ordaine nothing but that which thē ­selues had receiued 1. Cor. 11.23., as they were diligent in respect of their personall industrie, so they appoynted such as themselues (in regard of the substance of their office) and gaue order (for the perpetuating of this course) to make choyce of faithfull men still to be employed in this seruice 2. Tim. 2.2.: and Paul saith expresly that Christ ascended on high to giue gifts vnto men, euen that there might be such for the gathering together of the Saints to the end of the world Eph. 4.11. &c.. Now, as such a Calling was of old, and must continue till time shall be no more, so the speciall intendment was to teach. See for proofe in the old Testa­ment, Deut. 33.10. 2. Chro. 15.3. and in the new, Mat. 28.19. 2. Tim. 2.2. Therefore (as we gather by our Sauiours speech to Nicodemus) they of this profession were called Masters in Israel Ioh. 3 10., and after in the same sort Teachers Eph. 4.11.. The matter of their teaching was in the old Testament termed the Iudge­ment and Law of God Deut. 33.10., and in the new it is said to be what­soeuer Christ hath commanded Matth. 28.20., and more briefly the Word 2. Tim. 4.2.. The manner of their teaching in the old Testament, is repor­ted to be reading in the booke of the Law, distinctly giuing the sense, and causing the people to vnderstand the reading Neh. 8.8.: in the new, a publishing of the secret of the Gospell Ephes. 6.19.; a dealing vnto the people the Gospell of God 1. Thes. 2.8.. Now in teaching it is mani­fest, that there is a further matter then the publishing to the people, by reading from out of the booke, the words and te­nour [Page 5] of the Scripture. Euery ordinary man will quickly con­ceiue so much out of the nature of the word; Teach: Doth a Schoolmaster teach his scholler in reading to him his Rule, vnlesse he doe also cause him to vnderstand it, and shew him how he may practise that which is the purpose of it? Doth a man of occupation teach his apprentise his trade, by pro­pounding certaine generall precepts, if hee doe not discouer to him that which wee terme the Mysterie of his profession in particulars? Thus farre we are come in the proofe of this first branch.

It is the ordinance of God, that there should be a Calling of men, to deale betwixt him and man, and that euery one called to this calling should be apt to teach 1. Tim. 3.2.. He that wants this knowledge is no Priest for me, said the Lord of old Hos. 4.6.. A­greeing hereto is ye wholesome order of our English Church, in which no man is admitted Presbyter,See the booke of ordination of Bishops, Priests and Deacons. but he is first exhor­ted by the Bishop, to consider that his office is of great excel­lencie, and of great difficultie, such as he cannot by any other meanes compasse, but with Doctrine and exhortation taken out of the Scripture: and then, after he is asked, whether hee is de­termined to instruct the people committed to his charge with the Scriptures; in the end (a Bible being deliuered into his hand) he is willed to take authoritie to preach the word of God. And by the booke of Common Prayer it is manifest that none ought to administer the Sacrament of the Lords Supper to the people, but he who may boldly say to the peo­ple, If there be any of you which cannot quiet his conscience, See the Booke of Common Prayer, in one of the Exhor­tations to be somtimes vsed at the discre­tion of the Mi­nister. but requireth further counsell or comfort, let him come to me, or some other discreete and learned Minister of Gods word, and open his griefe that he may receiue such ghostly counsell, aduice and comfort, as his conscience may be relieued. It is meant that hee should haue somewhat in him, who must openly in the congregation make such an offer. Our learned men doe in their writings deride that of the Popish Decretals,Decret. p. 1. dist. 28. c. 5. Homilias per Circuitum anni Dominicis diebus & festi­uitatibus aptas. which re­quire little more of a Priest then to fetch out according to the rule of his Rubricke, the appointed seruice for the day. I must yet adioyne one thing more before I quit this branch, [Page 6] namely, that this is also Gods ordinance, that of this sort there should bee some in euery Towne, and that the same should performe this Teaching-seruice euery Sabbath. The ordinance for euery towne may bee probably collected out of the ancient scattering of the tribe of Leui through all the land, out of that which is said, that they (viz. the Leuits) taught all Israel 2. Chro. 35.3.; and by that which is reported, that when Christ was teaching, there sate by, Doctors of the Law, which were come out of euery towne of Galile and Iudea, &c. Luke 5.17.: More directly by that, that Moses was preached in euery citie Act. 15.21.; and the Apostles ordained Elders in euery Church Act. 14.23. [...].: according whereunto was Pauls Iniunction to Titus, to constitute such in each citie Tit. 1.5. [...].. Hereupon came the terme of charges in the old Testament 2. Chro. 35.3., and of flocks in the new 1. Pet. 5.2.. Then the ordi­nance for euery Sabbath is iustly gatherable out of ye former saying, Moses was preached in the Sinagogues euery Sabbath day Act. 15.21.; and it may be without violence concluded out of that cōmandement of the Apostle to preach in season 2. Tim. 4 2.: what bet­ter season, then when the people rest from all other seruices, and meet together in one place for holy duties? This course was held in the daies next following the Apostles. It is the report of Iustin Martyr that in his time,Iust. Martyr A­pol. 2. Tertul. Ap. c. 3. Reading and ope­ning the word lasted an houre long euery Sabbath: and Ter­tullian, that there was not a meeting of the Christians, wher­in their soules were not fed with holy Sermons before they departed. It was a decree of the Councell of Mentz, vnder Charles the great, that there should be a course taken, that there should not bee one wanting, who should vpon the Lords daies preach the word of God,Iuxta quod vul­gus intelligere possit. Babing. on the Lords Prayer. to the vnderstanding of the people: With this consents that opinion of Reuerend Bishop Babington, of respectiue memorie, namely, that a Mi­nister can no more enter the Church vpon a Sabbath day without preaching, and not be guiltie of a damnable sinne, then Aaron could goe into the congregation without death, in case, that at his entrance in he did not sound his bels. And againe,Idem vpon the Command. he sinneth the sinne of a dumbe dogge, who passeth ouer the Sabbath day without preaching, and therein ma­keth [Page 7] the people guiltie of the prophanation of Gods holy day. Vpon this ground the Canons of our Church haue or­dained that euery beneficed man (allowed a Preacher) shall preach one Sermon euery Sunday in the yeere: and againe,Can. 45. that euery Incumbent shall euery Sunday before Euening Prayer examine and instruct the youth and ignorant persons of the parish in the tenne Commandements,Can. 59. the Articles of the beleefe, and the Lords Prayer. These things I note to pre­uent a conceit which some may haue, that I come hither to open a packe of Puritanicall ware, and to vent some priuate humorous opinions; you may see that that which I auouch touching the ordinance of God in this poynt, is the iudge­ment of our Church. And thus haue I finished the first part of my proofe, that preaching is Gods ordinance. It is his will that the ability for it should be in euery Minister, and the exe­cution of it in euery Congregation, euery Sabbath.

The next part of my proofe is, that without dependance vpon preaching we haue no assurance of saluation. To make this manifest, I demaund, whether we beleeue the Scripture? that without faith it is impossible to please God Heb. 11.6.: and whether any other meanes be sanctified by God to beget Faith, be­sides the hearing of a Preacher? that, I am sure, is ordained to that end Rom. 10.14.17.: as for any other mainly deputed thereto (with­out this) I am sure there is no in [...] euidence in all Gods book. The Lord hauing Saints to gather and to translate out of the kingdome of darknesse, hath appointed and gifted Pastors and Teachers to that end Eph. 4.11.: so much is apparant. And where­as the promise of saluation is limited only to so many as God shall call Act. 2.39., (whereupon they which shall be saued are termed a called companie Iude vers. 1.,) faine would I know whereto calling hath reference but to a voyce? What voyce shall wee thinke it to be, but that which soundeth in the publike Ministerie? Christs voyce wee will all yeeld it to be, and so we may well, (for his sheepe heare his voyce Ioh. 10.27.:) and where is Christs voyce now, but in those who by their calling are in Christs stead 2. Cor. 5.20.? and of whom hee hath said plainly, He that heareth you hea­reth me Luke 10.16..

As we can haue no certaintie of our Election, vnlesse wee giue diligence to make our calling sure 2. Pet. 1.10.: so what warrant hath any man to thinke hee is called, but by that meanes which God ordained to call the Gentiles? and what meanes finde we that to be, other then this? Goe teach Matth. 28.19., Preach the Gospell to euery creature Mar. 16.15.. What can be plainer then this? God hath reconciled vs vnto himselfe by Christ, and hath giuen vnto men a ministrie of Reconciliation 2. Cor. 5.18.. We will soone yeeld that by this place it is proued that there is no comming vnto God the Father, but by Christ: shall it not be as strongly proued thence, that there is no ordinary accesse to Christ, but by the ministrie? What moued our Sauiour to pitie the multitude being without a shepheard, (a laborer in the Lords haruest Matth. 9.36.) was it not because they were in apparant hazard of salua­tion, being so destitute? Why is the land of Zebulim and Nep­thalim said to sit in Darknes, and in the Region of the shadow of death, vntill the light of preaching shone among them Mat. 4.15.16., but because the inhabitants were in the high way to hell, without ministeriall instruction? Note that speech: Israel, a long time, without God, and without a Priest to teach 2. Chro. 15.3.. No Priest to teach, no interest in God. There is no Logick in the world to conclude otherwise. I am faine to stint my selfe in that which I could say in this argument. I heare what men say, when they be not able to elude the euidence of these te­stimonies. Obiect. They obiect and crie out, Oh Crueltie, oh Barba­risme! now you doe damne all that haue no preaching. Answer. I speake al this while of a way and course to which we are tied, and whereto wee must trust, and out of which wee may not venture. I take not on me to preiudice the power or mercie of God, I will not for a world say in a pulpit, that there are none in heauen, which neuer heard a Sermon; I am not igno­rant of Gods ablenes to saue as he pleaseth, I know God can giue bread from heauen Exod. 6.; he can make one sute of clothes, or one paire of shooes to serue a mans turne fortie yeeres Deut. 29.5.; he can cause the earth to yeeld corne without sowing Isai. 37.30.; he can make one pitcher of oyle to pay a great deale of debt 2. King. 4.2.. But what of this? no warrant hence for me to say, Husbandrie is [Page 9] not the ordinarie meanes of hauing Corne; sowing & men­ding the ordinarie meanes to preserue apparell; prouidence and industrie, and endeuour to get money, the ordinarie meanes to pay debts. Because the Israelites were fed with Mannah, may I lie vnder a hedge in the Sunne looking till Mannah drop into my mouth? or because Corne once grew without sowing, goe fell away my Plough: and like Salomons sluggard Prou. 26.15., sheathe vp my hands into my bosome, and re­nounce husbandrie: or because of that of the Prophets wi­dow, discharging debt by a pitcher of oyle; purposely runne my selfe into debt, many pounds, resoluing to leaue to my Executor a Iarue of oyle to pay all; we would laugh at such inferences, and think a man halfe mad, who should make such conclusions. And yet I know they are better a great deale then this; that because wee doe not say they are all damned which haue no preaching, therefore Preaching is not the or­dained meanes to seeke saluation by, I say these conclusions are better, because wee haue euidence of some, sustained in outward things by such vnusuall meanes, but there is no cer­taintie of any particular mans saluation without ministeriall Teaching. As therefore notwithstanding Gods dealing with the Israelites, with Hezechiah, with the widow, I may bold­ly say, that he who trusts to be fed from heauen, shall be ster­ued; and he who supposeth to pay his debts with a pitcher of oyle, shall rot in prison: So he who thinkes to be saued with­out preaching, shall be damned. We must looke to what God bids vs doe, and not to what he in his absolute power can do. Gods extraordinarie working is no impeachment at all to the truth of an ordinarie Rule. Obiect. There be some which haue gotten that by the end, which Augustine reports touching himselfe, how that hee heard a voyce saying to him,Confes. lib. 8. c. 12. Take vp and reade, take vp and reade. And so taking the new Testa­ment, he fell suddenly at the first opening of the booke vpon that place: Not in gluttonie and drunkennes, &c. Rom. 13.. and here­by it is supposed Augustine was conuerted: whereupon they would conclude a possibilitie of turning a man from the po­wer of Satan vnto God without preaching. Answer. Hereupon I an­swere, [Page 10] that who so shall say, that Augustine was not conuer­ted vntill he heard that voyce, shall deliuer an vntruth. For it is plaine that Augustine had before that time been in spiri­tuall affliction, greatly exercised with a combat betwixt the flesh and the spirit, as appeareth plainly in the chapter going next before this, whereas he reports the matter of the Voice: And when this Voyce came, he was on his face weeping and at prayer, earnestly confessing his sinnes, and desiring to bee deliuered from them. This Voyce is rather to be reputed a confirmation and perfiting of his conuersion, then the proper instrument of working it. If wee would know whereby in deede he was conuerted, let himselfe be heard, whose report this is,Confes. lib. 5. cap. 13.14. That being a Rhetorician, he came to the citie wherein Ambrose was Bishop, desiring there to professe Rhetoricke: while hee was there hee would needs goe heare Ambrose preach,Non vt docto­rem veri. Not as a Teacher of the Truth, (so are his own words) for hee thought there was no such to bee found among the professors of the Christian faith) but because hee had vnto him shewed kindnesse. Now marke what hee speakes, dire­cting his speech to God:Ad eum per te ducebar nescius, vt ad te per eum sciens ducerer. Omni die Do­minico. Sensim & ne­scius. To him I was by thee led vnawares, that by him I might through knowledge be led to thee: and so he goeth on to shew how by hearing him, whom (as hee re­ports other-where) he heard preaching euery Lords day, he was brought by little and little ere he was aware, neerer and neerer to the embracing of the truth. An excellent example for the confirmation of this point, that preaching is ye meanes of a mans conuersion. And yet I adde, that in case it were true, that the reading of that place had been the direct meanes of his Turning, yet it were nothing to the preiudice of that which I now teach, for I would say (and well I might) it was extraordinarie, and such whereof we can make no Rule: and so indeed whensoeuer any man is brought to haue sauing grace & true faith otherwise then by preaching, it is a course out of course, such wherein God will shew his power and mercie, and the freedome of his proceedings; not such wher­upon he will haue vs simply and generally to relie. I returne then to my poynt, which is this: We haue no warrant to ex­pect [Page 11] saluation any other way, then by dependance vpon prea­ching; neither may we (to speake of an ordinary course) per­swade our selues wee are in the way of saluation, vnlesse wee be sensible of our being set into it by this meanes. God doth diuers things (as it it were) by way of preparing mē to grace: such are afflictions, crosses, inward affrightments; but when all is done, and spoken that can be, to this wee must come at last, that the maine worke (ordinarily) either by preaching it is wrought, or not at all. What an absurd thing were it to ac­knowledge preaching to be Gods ordinance, and yet to de­nie it to be simply necessarie to saluation, and to mince it o­uer with (I know not what) faire termes, that it is good if it may bee had, and profitable for those who haue no other helpes, and the like? Why? what make we of Gods ordinan­ces? doe we account them only matters of conueniencie, and not of necessitie? For my part I know no more scripture for faith without preaching, then for saluation without faith; I am sure the same spirit of God which hath said, Beleeue that thou maist be saued, hath also said, Heare that thou maist be­leeue: you would al crie out vpon me (and you well might) if I should say, a man may be saued without praying; & yet men are readie to account it halfe an heresie, to auouch that a man cannot be saued without preaching: yet S. Paul linkes these together vpon one string, Saluation, Prayer, Beleeuing, Hea­ring, Preaching, Sending Rom. 10.13.14.. Men cannot be saued without praying to him that can saue: They cannot pray to him with­out beleeuing on him; they cannot beleeue on him without Preaching; they cannot preach without Sending: and whom did God euer send, who was not able to diuide the word for the peoples edifying?

The things which God hath ioyned together let not man se­parate Matth. 19.6.: we will grant the beginning, (no saluation with­out prayer, no praying without faith) but we will distinguish vpon the latter, (no beleeuing but by waiting on a Preacher which is sent). Thus (I hope) albeit I haue not said so much as might be said in such an ample subiect, yet I haue said e­nough to confirme the two things which I vndertook: name­ly, [Page 12] first, that preaching (vnderstanding thereby, as before, a speaking to men to exhortation, edifying and comfort) is Gods ordinance: Secondly, that hee hath not reuealed or warran­ted vnto vs any other way of being saued; other helpes with this: all fruitlesse and in vaine with the neglect of this. These two things being true, shall not the maine doctrine be true, that the preaching of the word by men deputed of God to that seruice, doth deserue esteeme? Indeed as the whole wor­ship of God deserues honor, so this seruice especially, as being the chiefe of all the rest. It is more excellent then the admi­nistration of the Sacraments: Paul was sent to preach, not to baptize 1. Cor. 1.17., that is, to preach was his maine errand; for baptize some he did, which he might not haue done if he had not bin sent. It is more noble then gouerning and the administration of discipline,Apol pag. 3. s. 300. because (as saith the Reuerend Bilson) God ga­thereth his Church by the mouthes of Preachers, not by the summons of Consistories: and Paul requiring honour to bee shewed to Elders ruling well, willeth it to bee shewed espe­cially to those that labour in the word and doctrine 1. Tim. 5.17., as the persons employed in the better businesse. It excelleth reading as much as the Apothecaries brusing and breaking the per­fume doth the presenting it in lumpe; the householders cut­ting the bread to the family, the setting it down in the whole loafe; the stirring vp of the fire, and the blowing it with the bellowes, the letting it lie couered in the ashes: all which are the similitudes to this end vsed by Reuerend B. Babington in his exposition of that petition of the Lords Prayer (Thy king­dome come). It is more of worth then prayer: for what but preaching shall direct to pray? and whether in reason shall be thought more excellent, our speaking to God, (which is prayer) or Gods speaking to vs (which is preaching?) and looke 1. Cor. 14. and see whether Paul doth not preferre pro­phecying before all other spirituall gifts, and makes it to bee the chiefe, euen where hee also speakes touching prayer. If then the worship of God is worthie of respect, the exercise of preaching most of all, as being indeed the best of all. It is worthily reiected as a popish barbarisme by learned Morton, Apol. p. 1. lib. 2. cap. 21. [Page 13] that opinion, that the duties of the Sabbath serue not so much to edifie the people, as to serue the Lord: which the Papists maintaine for the vpholding of that absurd proposition, that the hearing of a Masse is to bee preferred before the hearing of the word. So that by the best of iudgement, the preaching of the word is reputed the mainest part of Gods publike wor­ship. I haue now done with the prouing of the doctrine. Eue­ry way I hope it is cleere: Honour and esteeme is the due of preaching.

There is much matter by way of vse to be deriued hence:A double vse. 1. For Mini­sters. First, this concernes vs that are Ministers: secondly, this concernes all good Christians generally. First for vs Mini­sters, this doctrine binds vs to maintaine by al good meanes the honor of preaching, & to beware how we do bring this reuerend and sacred ordinance of God into contempt; of all men, it stands vs vpon to endeuour that that may bee duly e­steemed, which God commands not to be despised: It is the life and glorie of our profession: it were a strange thing if we should not care to bring it into disgrace: I say it is the glorie of our profession: for when it may be said of a man, hee is a Minister, but no Preacher, it is like that which is said of Naa­man 2. King. 5.1., he was a great man, and honourable in the sight of his Lord, he was also a mightie man and valiant, but a Leper. This is a (But) which darkneth all the rest: So that thereon I in­ferre, how much it behoues vs, to labour to vphold the re­putation of preaching; because to bee termed a Preacher, is the fairest flower in our garland. Me thinkes I should not say much of this: and therefore I will rather applie my selfe,Three things by which a Mi­nister shal pro­mote the ho­nour of Prea­ching. 1. to shew how wee may saue this course from contempt, then to proue that wee are in equitie tyed thereunto. Thus then, there are three things by which a Minister shall aduance the honour and esteeme of prophecying. 1. Diligence in prea­ching: It is that which Paul calleth in one place labouring 1. Tim. 5.17,; in another, a being instant 2 Tim. 4.2; in a third, a preaching the Gospell with much striuing 1. Thes. 2 2.; It is the Lords worke 1 Cor. 16.10., and cursed be he that doth it negligently Iere. 48.10.. It may be thought in the reason of flesh and blood, that this is no meanes to make preaching [Page 14] honorable, but to auile it rather; Obiect. in as much as (according to the old saying) familiaritie breedes contempt; and excellent things when they once become ordinarie, are the lesse regar­ded. If Sermons were daintie, and mens stomacks were kept sharpe, they would be more esteemed. Answer. It is not so in this case, when the people are once brought to vnderstand the necessi­tie of preaching, (the necessitie, I say, both for saluation and for the worship of God, in as much as without it saluation is in hazard, and the worship of God is maimed) surely then, the more they haue it, the more they will honour it; and the more frequently the kingdome of God is preached, the more they will presse vnto it Luke 16.16.. Looke into experience, and see whether the seldomnesse of this seruice doth not cōfirme the people in their opinion, of the no great necessitie of it; which is the maine ground of contempt? Suppose a parish haue an Incumbent reputed learned, but yet remisse in preaching, shall not his slacknes cause the people to con­clude, yt preaching is not so simply necessarie as it is thought? will they not say, Our Minister is learned and of iudgement, and knowes what is what; surely if preaching were so vse­full, hee would be more frequent in it then hee is? And what hath bred those preiudiciall paradoxes to preaching, as that reading is preaching, &c. but the indisposition of men of gifts to be diligent in preaching? The vnwillingnes & back­wardnes of men to spend themselues this way, hath caused (for the hiding of their shame) a straining of wits, and a wre­sting of Scripture, to proue the competencie to saluation of a reading Ministerie: such spurious propositions had neuer seene the light, if diligence in this dutie had vniuersally been made conscience of. Therfore we must yeeld that, that which old Latimer (a man who sacrificed his life in Gods cause) once blamed vnder the witty terme of strawbery-preaching, is a speciall meanes to lay the honour of preaching in the dust. It brings a rust, yea and a curse vpon our gifts, and be­gets a kinde of habite of idlenes, and causeth the people to respect that little which we performe but little: when I speak of diligence, I doe not meane that a man should be euer and [Page 15] anon in the pulpit: for there must be a time of gathering, as well as of dispersing; and there is a kinde of mercenarie dili­gence in some, which is meete to be restrained: but this is di­ligence; a man is readie to take all occasions to doe good; especially bindes himselfe constantly vpon Gods day to be busied in Gods word. Happie is that seruant whom his ma­ster when he commeth shall finde so doing.

2. The manner of handling the word of God in preach­ing so as it is fit. If any man speake, The second way of hono­ring preach­ing by Prea­chers. let him speake as the words of God 1. Pet. 4.11.: let him remember what hee hath in hand, and so deale accordingly. I remember how often Paul stands vpon his manner of preaching 2. Cor. 2.17.4.2. Thes. 23.: It is Hoseas phrase, the great or honourable things of the law of God Hos. 8.12.; yet may these be so v­sed, as that they may seeme base to those that heare them. Woe be to that good meate that must passe the fingers of a slouen, before it comes to the mouth of the eater. I loue not to be forward to taxe any mans preaching, and therefore I will so speake as shewing rather what may be, then what is. There may be a preiudicing and an endangering the honour of preaching in handling it, two waies: One is, too much ex­actnes: as when men striue to haue euery word in print, and to stand in equipage; one neither higher nor lower, neither further foorth, nor more bacward then another; and doe af­fect termes more then matter: embellishing their Sermons with the gleanings of all manner of authors, sacred, prophane, any thing which may bee thought to smell of learning, and may raise an opinion of Eloquence, profoundnes, varietie of reading in the hearers. Obiect. Will, I say, this make preaching to be despised? Answer. rather it is like to procure admiration and re­uerence, and to cause a kinde of astonishment in the hearers: happely it may for the present draw some such superficiall re­spect to a Preacher, as that which is counted euen by the hea­then a vanitie in Demosthenes: Tully termes him Leuiculus Demosthenes. Tus. Qu. Hic est ille De­mosthenes. he said it pleased him secret­ly when as hee went in the streetes, hee should heare the wo­mē that carried water, say, There goeth eloquent Demosthenes. Thus a man may be rewarded with some such breath for this [Page 16] windy kind of preaching: but when it cōmeth to the touch, this shall bee found to dishonour Gods ordinance in true iudgement. For what is that which indeed makes preaching honourable in the hearts of Gods people, but their vnder­standing it, so as that they may feele the sweetnes of it, and receiue comfort by it? That therefore which hindreth vn­derstanding must needs expose this course to a kinde of dis­grace: what contentment shal a man take in it, when he con­ceiues but little what it meanes? It comes in our ordinarie congregatiōs, to as little purpose (such a kind of teaching) as that which is said in the Prouerb,Hic mulget hir­cum, ille suppo­nit cribrum: [...]? Where one doth milke a goate, another holds vnder a sieue. It may bee the matter is good and excellent, but the hearer holds no more then a sieue: because nothing to any great purpose is vnderstood. It is the pithie plainnes, which is the beautie of preaching. A text well opened, handsomely diuided, instructions familiar­ly raised, substantially proued by the Scripture, powerfully pressed vpon the hid man of the heart, faithfully applied to the soule & conscience of the hearer. This is the course which makes manifest the secret of his heart, and brings him to fall downe on his face and worship God, and to say that God is in the Preacher indeed 1. Cor. 14.25. Ferrum potest quod aurum non potest.. It is truly said that in some cases Iron can doe that which gold cannot: and so that which is by some in their nicenes and curiositie accounted but a blunt kinde of teaching, shall yet doe that which the more glorious, and gli­string and gaudie course could not effect. The kingdome of God is not in word, but in power 1. Cor. 4.20.. I haue heard of a thing that fell out once at the Councell of Nice, where a Christian of no great learning in esteeme,Ruffin. hist. lib. 2. cap. 3. conuerted a learned man, whom all the learned Bishops with all their skill and elo­quence could not perswade: the partie wonne, brake out in­to these words: Oh you learned men, as long as the matter went by words, against words I opposed words; and that which was spoken I ouerthrew by the art of speaking: but when in stead of words power came out of the mouth of the speaker;Non poterunt verba resistere veritati (or, vir­tuti) nec homo aduersari po­tuit Deo. words could not withstand truth, nor man stand out [Page 17] against God. Thus that plaine kinde of teaching, in which the euidence of the spirit is to be seene, works that which the more curious and refined eloquence could not doe.

A second way, by which in handling the word, preaching may be made contemptible, is in another extreame: namely, when the manner of dealing with the word is ouer sleight, too loose, and superficiall; a man vents raw, sudden, vndige­sted meditations, such as haue no manner of coherence, either with the text, or with themselues: the text is rather torne, then diuided, rather tossed, then handled; rather named (be­cause it is the fashion to haue a text) then followed so, as that the hearer may see the course, by which all is drawne from the text. Here a man makes a shift to rub out an houre, and to haue somewhat still to say; he is much like the begger, of whom we say, he is neuer out of his way, though he be neuer in his way: so in this case, a man is neuer out of matter, though he speakes neuer to the matter. This makes preaching ridi­culous, & laieth it open (as it falleth from some mouthes) vn­to a iust scorne. The common sort happely espy not the weak­nes by and by, thinking all well so long as one goeth on; but the more aduised holding it vp, (as it were against the light) see the rawnesse and raggednes and independance of that which is deliuered. It is an honor to a Sermon, when (as the saying is) it shall smell of the candle, and testifie for it selfe, that there was afore-hand care to deale substantially, and to approue our selues to euery hearers conscience in the sight of God.

The third thing to be taken heed to,The third way for Ministers to honour Preaching by. that we may preserue the honour of preaching, is our manner of life. An euill life in Preachers cannot but cause preaching to be vile: I call it an euill life, not when a man failes in some things; For in ma­ny things we faile all Iam. 3.2.: but when a man maketh it to appeare by his course, that he makes no conscience of framing his life according to his owne teaching: is strait in the pulpit, and in the streete dissolute. There is a great readinesse in many to picke quarrels with the liues of the best Teachers, and no [Page 18] doubt many things are slanderously reported touching such. Cruell witnesses arise vp, and aske things they know not Psal. 35.11.: but when men taking the ordinance of God into their mouthes, shall yet walke like men hating to bee reformed, and runne into the same excesse with others, and be iustly taxable with open and scandalous euils; what can more dishonour prea­ching? will it not cause it to be reputed a meere toy? A man shall be seene to perswade to that, which himselfe ordinarilie neglects; and to crie out against that, of which himselfe doth make a common practise. Let no man despise thee, said Paul to Timothy: how shall that be? Be vnto them that beleeue an example 1. Tim. 4.12.. I haue here a large field before me, but I would be loth to preuent my selfe in that I haue to say: and therefore I here shut vp this vse, touching vs of the Ministerie. Preach­ing deserues esteeme, take wee heede how wee expose it to contempt. Our diligence in dispensing the word; our reue­rend and well aduised handling the word; our endeuouring in the eyes of the people to frame our liues according to the word, shall vphold the credit of this worthie seruice: Men (though we do this) some will despise notwithstanding, and speake contemptuously both of vs and of our ministerie: yet in doing it, they shall be as the Heretike, of whom Paul, who is condemned by himselfe Tit. 3.11..

The second vse for al Chri­stians in gene­rall.I am now come to the second vse, which concernes all Christians more in generall: All that professe to expect sal­uation by Iesus Christ, are bound to this dutie, to saue prea­ching (as much as may be) from despising. This may be done (that I may not say all which might bee said,Two things by which ordi­nary Christiās may saue preaching frō contempt but may insist only vpon the chiefest) by two things especially. 1. By a constant and an vnwearied dependance vpon preaching, see­king by all meanes possible to enioy it. Haue wee not reason to depend on it, whe,n where it wanteth the people perish Prou. 29.18.? And shall we not honour it exceedingly, when our feet shall euen weare out the threshold of that house, where it is faith­fully dispensed? and when we shall seeke knowledge at the lips of the Priests with such earnestnes, as if wee were guided [Page 19] by that spirit which was in those primitiue Conuerts, that cried out to Peter and the rest, Men and brethren what shall we doe Act. 2.37.? It will appeare that wee esteeme Gods ordinance, when wee shall for the sake of it neglect our profit, hazard our outward peace, seeme carelesse of our credit, straine our purses, and be like the Merchant in the Gospell, that part's with all that hee hath for one speciall Pearle Matth. 13.46.. Great con­tempt is cast vpon prophecying at this day, by default here­in; I will not so much speake of those who cast no manner of respect vnto it, but openly and ordinarily, and in a sort pro­fessedly doe auile it; but of those which make some show to esteeme it. That is most pitifull when such as pretend a kinde of honour, shall yet by consequent be found despisers. First some would (as they make show) waite on this meanes, but they will make their own conditions: prouided that it comes home to them; that they may haue it without trouble: Oh how glad would they be, had they a Preacher in their Chur­ches; they would thinke it to be none of the smallest portions of their happinesse? But when it comes to the poynt of see­king out and of trauelling to the Prophet with the Shuna­mite 2. King. 4.; or else of cutting off some of their superfluities, and of stinting themselues in other things, that they may draw to them some able Minister of the new Testament; then they begin to be as backward and sorrowfull as the rich man in the Gospell, who as forward as hee seemed at first, yet began to flinch, when hee heard the charge of selling; and so they, after a large commendation of preaching, and a faire tale of their esteeming it, yet while they are afraid of trouble, and reproch, and labour, and are loth to be at any charges, they still content themselues with an vnable ministerie. Here is a faire honour done to preaching. For shame, if our hearts bee to it, (as woe be to vs if they be not) let vs engage our selues for it. Remember what hath been both said and prooued, there is no other ordinarie way of saluation: and wilt thou not straine thy body, thy purse, thy credit; aduenture thy out­ward peace; doe any thing that thou maist be saued? It is no honoring of the ordinance of God, if thou canst any way sa­tisfie [Page 20] and content thy selfe without it. I shall be thought (perhaps to perswade strange things, and (as may be thought) not iustifiable. But doe me right, I pray you, in indifference, considering what I say: Behold Luk. 6.17. and marke what you finde there: A great multitude of people out of all Iudea, and Ierusalem, and from the sea coasts of Tyre and Sidon which came to heare him. Did these say, If this good man would come to vs, how glad should we be? but they went out to him, they left their blind guides and followed this Seer where he was, I demaund; Is not this written for our learning? Can we say, it was not well that they did? were they not worthie of praise for so doing? Then say I with the Apostle, Whatsoeuer things are honest and of good report, those things doe Phil. 4 8.. And if this satisfie not, and you suspect my iudgement, I pray looke into the booke you haue in your parishes, the Workes of Bi­shop Iewell, in his Sermons vpon this chapter, and vpon the 12. and 13. verses: what shall wee say of them that labour not, that doe neither teach, nor exhort, nor reproue, nor cor­rect; that haue no care to doe their message; and no regard to the people, what may I say of such? God himselfe saith, They are dumbe dogges that cannot barke, they lie and sleepe, and de­light in sleeping, they all looke to their owne way, and their owne aduantage, and euery one for his owne purpose Isai. 56.10.11. Christ calleth them Theeues and Robbers. They are vnsauourie salt, profi­table for nothing, but to be cast foorth and [...]oden vnder feet of men. Woe is vnto me (saith Paul) if I preach not the Gos­pell 1. Cor. 9.16.. Woe to the seruant that wrappeth his tallent in a nap­kin, and increaseth not his Masters gaine. God grant such idle and slothfull Ministers grace to know their office, and to doe it: If not, God giue the people grace to know them, and to shunne them, and to flie from them. (So farre he:) Which words if they doe not teach, not to be satisfied without prea­ching, and to shunne those which are vnsufficient, and negli­gent in that dutie, for my part I must acknowledge I doe not vnderstand English. Let this then be our honour giuen to preaching, euen to striue that we may enioy it, and to put our selues to hard conditions, rather then to want it. And doe [Page 21] you of this towne particularly take notice of it; see how God hath moued the hearts of the Worshipful of these parts, to pitie your necessitie; and to procure a course of preaching with you, not so much that you might rest content with this, or say as Micah the Ephramite, when he had got a Leuite in­to his house, Now I know that the Lord will doe me good, see­ing I haue a Leuit to my Priest Iudg. 17.13.; so now, We are safe, we haue a Lecture in our towne. No, if you shall not set together a­mongst your selues, to haue it amongst you on the Sabbath day, the day principally deputed to this seruice, for my part I shall thinke our paines here (in respect of you) to be vnpro­fitable.

2, There is another kinde of dependance, which is also preiudiciall to the honor of preaching, and that is that which is but by fits & starts; somewhat eger happely at the begin­ning, but slaking by degrees, till it come to nothing: you will disgrace it here much, if filling the Church now at the first, you shall hereafter, like men whose stomackes are full, begin to grow wearie and full of that which you now seeme to af­fect. Giue vs not occasion to say hereafter as Christ of Iohn; He was a burning and a shining light, and you were willing for a season to reioyce in this light Ioh. 5.35.. It is a thing to be suspected: experience sheweth, that (as the saying is) euery thing is pre­tie when it is young; so such exercises as these, are flocked vnto at the first, but after, men by little and little fall off: some will heare onely this man, some onely that man; some onely now and then, when they haue occasion to come to towne; some neuer a whit: You will bring a disgrace vpō our paines here, if you shall cause it to be thought that wee haue cloyed your stomackes, and taken away the edge of your appetites. Haue not the faith of our Lord Iesus Christ the Lord of glorie with respect of persons Iam. 2.1.: make much of, and honor any mans endeuours that doth his dutie vpon his conscience. This shall be your first way of honoring preaching; your manner of dependance vpon it let it be earnest, painfull, constant; let it appeare that you will not hope to be saued, but by the meanes that God hath sanctified.

The second way of hono­ring preaching by common Christians.The second way by which you shall honour preaching, is, yeelding obedience to that which is taught, and confor­mitie in life to our preaching. It is not the bare hearer, but the doer withall that shall be blessed Iam. 1.25.. There is no fouller staine to preaching, then when they which say they loue it, and desire it, and esteeme and follow after it, and trauaile to enioy it, shall yet make no conscience of obedience to it: How doth this open the mouthes of gain-saiers, and embol­den them to their imputations vpon preaching, when they shall haue some colour to crie out, there be none worse, more proud, wanton, contentions, couetous, oppressing, fraudulent, then the greatest hearers? when you walke not according to the rules you are taught, you make preaching and professing to be reputed the nurserie of vngodlinesse, and the couert for all villanie. And therfore, you that are of the first sort, Gentle­men and Iustices, who haue laboured to draw Preachers hi­ther, and who now giue countenance to vs by your presence, honour vs also (I pray you) with your holy practise: make it to appeare by your zealous execution of Iustice, when you sit here vpon the businesse of the Countrey, by your suppres­sing of grosse disorders, and that world of Alehouses, that is, and which is the very neast of all wickednes; and by the re­formation of your followers and families; and principally by the Christian cariage of your selues; and by the abatement of your excesses, vaine pleasures, Epicurismes, swearings, and such like, that you haue not drawne preaching hither for a forme, or out of a glorie; but that in sinceritie of heart, you haue sought your owne furtherance in the waies of pietie. Let it not be said, (as it will be, if you preuent it not) Behold, here be such and such, euery weeke at Sermon, and yet how doe they liue rather as Atheists, and enemies to Religion, then as godly Christians? And you of the towne, who seeme to bee glad of this erected course, resolue with your selues that you will set on with a generall reformation. Let vs see some fruit by our labours with you: giue no cause to haue it thought, you reioyce in this for outward respects; as to encrease, your Market; and to draw companie to your towne, or to vent [Page 23] your commodities; or that you may glorie; Oh wee haue a Lecture too, as well as such a towne, or as such: but as other ad­ioyning townes shall be beholding to you, for borrowing from your Church the light of Doctrine; so let them receiue from you the light of good example. And you all, whether Gentlemen or Yeomen, or whatsoeuer else, I beseech you in the feare of God, receiue not this grace of God in vaine; make some vse of your comming; learne to practise that, by which your families through you may be bettered; your neighbors prouoked, especially your owne soules comforted in the day of Christ. Let not the Lecture-day (now when the Sermon is ended) be made a day of voluptuousnes, of quaffing, swagge­ring, disorder; goe not from the Church to eate out, and eate vp one another in the Market, by fraud and crueltie: Runne not euery man to his rase, as a horse to the battell, but let vs haue comfort to spend our spirits among you, when we shall behold your good conuersation in Christ, that wee all both Preachers and hearers may reioyce together at the last day, that we haue not runne in vaine. If you faile in this, it is not your comming to heare vs, your commending vs, your re­spectiue saluting vs, your prouiding to entertaine vs, that can honour our ministerie: we shall (notwithstan­ding all this complement) hang downe our heads with shame and say; You haue requited our labour with intol­erable contempt.

FINIS.

Wodbury, first of August. 1615.

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