The power of praier.

A SERMON PREACHED in the Cathedrall Church of Exeter in August. 1596.

By THOMAS PLAYFERE Professour of Diuinitie for the Ladie Margaret in Cambridge.


PRINTED BY IOHN LEGAT, PRIN­ter to the Vniuersitie of Cambridge. 1603.

And are to be sold in Pauls Churchyard at the signe of the Crowne by Simon Waterson.

To the Queenes most excellent Maiestie.

REligion,Gloriosa in deum pietas honoribus re­giis immobile est fundamen­tum. Cyrillus ad Theodos. de recta fide. dread and deare Soueraigne, is an vnmoueable foū ­dation of highest au­thoritie and honour. O then howe blessed are all we? how sure and vnmooueable is our peace and ioy? God hauing blessed vs with a king, who in religion and learning excelleth all aliue, and his Maiestie with a Queene in due proportion answerable to himselfe. Wherefore as it is our dutie to ioyne both in our daily praiers: so neither would I separate you in my humble endeauours. For the present felicitie and glory of this realme resteth wholly in his Maiestie, [Page] but the future hope to haue these infinite blessings continued vpon vs and all our posteritie, euen vnto the worlds end, ari­seth from you both, in respect of that most happie royall issue you haue had al­readie, and which if it please God you may haue hereafter. Which as it will be our greatest securitie and comfort: so that it may be no danger to your Maiesties health, especially that which your High­nesse now goeth withall, we shall continu­ally and importunately pray and beseech at Gods hands. And what the power of praier is, this short sermō which I pre­sume to offer vnto your sacred Maiestie, doeth in some sort shewe.

Your Maiesties most deuoted and obedient subiect, Thomas Playfere.

THE POWER of prayer. THE TEXT.

Aske, and it shall be giuen you: seeke, and you shall finde: knocke, and it shal be opened vnto you.

Matth. 7.7.

BEfore I come to the particular in­treatie of this text, it will not be a­misse, as I take it, generally to ob­serue some fewe things. Our Sauiour, saies not here, as to one, Aske thou, seeke thou, knocke [Page 2] thou: but as to many, Aske, seeke, knocke. For it is, Our Father; though it be, I beleeue. A sparke of fire in the fire, keepes fire; by it selfe, of it selfe goes out. A droppe of water in the sea, is safe; beeing alone, is soone dried vp. Euen so, in priuate praier, that small sparke of zeale which is in vs, may quickly be put out, and that little droppe of deuotion which is in vs may quickly be dried vp: but in pub­lique praier, it is not so. Whereupon Daniel 2.17. requesteth his companions, Sidrach, Misach, and Abednago, to pray with him. Yea, Ioel 1.14. aduiseth them, to gather a solemne assemblie, and to call the elders, and all the inha­bitants of the land, into the house of the Lord, to offer vp praiers vnto God. A threefold cord, is not easily broken Eccles. 4.12.. Now what is praier els, but a cord, wherewith we binde Gods hands, when he is readie to smite vs for our sinnes? Euen as Esay com­plaining to god, saies,64.7. There is none [Page] that calleth vpon thy name, none that riseth vp to take hold of thee, to hold thy hands, and binde them fast with the cord of praier. But if a twofold cord, or a threefold cord, cannot easi­ly be broken, whenas two or three of Daniels companions are gathered together in the name of Christ: then much more a hundred-fold cord, or a thousand-fold cord, cannot easily be broken, whenas not onely two or three of vs, haue agreed vpon a petiti­on in earth, but euen Ioels solemne assembly, such a solemne assembly as here is, many hundreds, yea many thousands of the faithfull, are gathe­red together in the house of the lord, to offer vp praier vnto God. Such a strong cord of praier, as this is, so well twisted by so many, must needs most forcibly draw downe from heauen, infinit graces for vs. And therefore our Sauiour saies here, not as to one, but as to many, Aske, seeke, knocke. So likewise it is not saide here, as in the [Page 4] time present, that by and by we ob­taine the thing we pray for; but as in the time to come, And it shall be giuen you, and you shall find, and it shall be ope­ned vnto you. For as Laban kept Iacob a long while from his yongest daugh­ter, whome he loued best, that his loue might be more increased conti­nually: so God oftentimes holdeth vs a while in suspence, that he may the more sharpen our appetite, and in­flame our Vt accendi­tur desideria. Martial. Epist. ad Tolos. desire. Because, saies Gre­gorie, The more earnestly he is desi­red of vs, the more sweetely he is de­lighted in Quo à nobis evidius desi­deratur, eo de nobis suavius laetatur. vs. Wherefore, as a mar­chant, beeing about to put money in­to a bagge, and perceiuing the bagge will scarce hold all the money, first stretches out the bagge, before he put in the money: after the same sort, in this case, dealeth God with vs. God knowing that those blessings, where­with vpon our praiers he purposes to inrich vs, are so great, that our hearts as yet are not capable of them, staies a while, till afterward when our hearts [Page] are more inlarged, and stretched out like a wide bagge, we may thē receiue them, when we are fitter for them. Whereupon the princely prophet saies, Lord, I crie vnto thee in the day time, and thou hearest not, also in the night time, and yet this is not to be thought follie in Psal. 22.2. [...]. Sep­tuagint. me. Some perhaps would thinke it a great point of folly, for a man to call and crie vnto him, who stoppes his cares, and seemes not to heare. Neuertheles, this follie of the faithfull, is wiser then all the wis­dome of the world. For we know well enough, that howsoeuer God seem at the first not to heare, yet, The Lord is a sure refuge, in due time, in Psal. 9.9. affliction. First, in due time: then in affliction. Because, for the most part, in helping vs, God rather respects the due time, then the affliction. So that although, as soone as we pray, he doe not alway presently free vs from affli­ction, yet if we can be content to wait a while, and tarie the Lords leisure, in [Page 6] his due time, he will surely releeue vs. And therefore it is said here, not as in the time present, but as in the time to come, And it shall be giuen you, and you shall finde, and it shall be opened vnto you.

Now then in this whole sentence, two principle parts would be consi­dered. The first, what we in our pray­er must performe to god. The second what God for our prayer will per­forme to vs. What we in our praier must performe to God, is in these wordes, Aske, seeke, knock. Aske with the mouth, seeke with the heart, knock with the hand. What God for our praier will performe to vs, is in these wordes, And it shalbe giuen you, and you shall find, and it shalbe opened vnto you. And it shall be giuen you, that's for tem­porall things: and you shall find, that's for spirituall things: and it shalbe ope­ned vnto you, that's for eternall things. Aske, seek, knock, and it shalbe giuen [Page] you, and you shall find, and it shall be ope­ned vnto you. First we must aske with the mouth. Ioakim the virgin Maries father, going to the wildernes to pray, said thus, Prayer shalbe my meate and [...]. drink. Whereby it is euident, that as meate and drink, the naturall food of the bodie, must go in at the mouth: so on the other side, prayer, the spi­rituall food of the soule, must go out of the mouth. Which is the reason, why Pythagoras willed his schollers to pray aloud [...].. Not that he thought that God could not otherwise heare, but to teach vs, as Clemens noteth Stro. l. 4., that as our dealing with men must be as in the sight of God: so our prayer to God, must be as in the hearing of men. Ezechias king of the Iewes, witnesseth of himselfe, that praying in his sicknes, he chattered like a young swallowe Esa. 38.14.. Nowe we knowe by that prouerb, which forbiddeth to keepe swallows vnder the same roofe [...]. where we keepe our selues, that no [Page 8] bird is so troublesome for chattering, as the swallow is. His meaning then was this: that as a yong swallow open­eth her mouth, and neuer leaues yaw­ning vnto the damme, till shee she be satisfied: so he opened his mouth, and as the Prophet Esay saies 62 6., kept no silence, neuer left asking, gaue the lord no rest, vntil he had mercy vpon him. Balack, king of the Moabites, spea­keth thus Num. 22.4., Shall this multitude licke vp all that are round about vs, as a calfe licketh vp the grasse of the field? Nowe we knowe that a calfe licketh vp the grasse of the fielde with his mouth. The thing then which he fea­red, was this: least the Israelites should licke vp, that is, ouercome and de­stroy him, and all his, with the asking of their mouthes, with their praiers to God, which are called Ose. 14.2. the calues of the lipps, euen as a calfe licketh vp the grasse of the field. The Church wish­eth the southerne winde would blow, that her spices might slowe forth Cant. 4.16.. [Page] The southerne winde, is the milde & comfortable spirit of God. The spi­ces, are the praiers, the sweete odours of the Saints. So that we wish the southerne winde would blowe vpon vs that our spices might flowe forth, when as we wish the holy Ghost would worke vpon vs, that our prai­ers might flowe forth. That as God breatheth in his spirit into vs, by the inspiration of grace: so we might breath out our spirit vnto God, by the respiration of praier. According to that of the prophet, Psal. 119.131. I opened my mouth and drewe in breath. I drewe in breath, ther's inspiration. I opened my mouth, ther's respiration So that they which neuer open their mouthes to aske, are dumbe fishes, which haue liues, and breath not; or else dead i­dols, which haue mouths, and speake not. Whereas in trueth, euery one that hath an eare to heare, ought to heare; and so euery one that hath a mouth to speake, ought to speake. Speake [Page 10] vnto the rocke, saies God to Moses Num. 20.8., when the children of Israel wanted water in the wildernesse. And after the same manner, when we want the water of comfort, in the wildernesse of this world, we must aske it of God, we must speake for it vnto the rocke Christ Iesus. For it was his onely re­quest he made to his spouse; when he tooke his very last farewell of her vpon earth, Let me heare thy voice Can. 8.13.. As if Christ should say thus to his Church, My dearest, now I am readie to ascend vp vnto my father. Howbeit, in the meane while, I will not leaue you comfortlesse. But though I shall be absent from you in bodie, yet I will be present with you in spirit; alwaies beholding your or­der of seruice, and hearing your prai­er vnto me. Therefore, let vs not here­after be strange to one another, but let tokens of louing kindnesse passe continually betwixt vs. I will send downe to you my spirit, like tongues [Page] of fire. Send you vp to me your prai­er, like pillars of smoake. And in case you want any thing at any time, doe no more, but let me heare your voice; let me by a praier, as by a letter from you vnderstand it, and you shall haue it. Aske, and it shall be giuen you.

Yet it is not enough for vs, to aske with the mouth: we must also seeke with the heart. For seeking with the heart, hath oftentimes preuailed, with­out the asking of the mouth. But as­king with the mouth, could neuer yet obtaine any thing of God, without the seeking of the heart. Therefore Hierom findeth himselfe greatly grie­ued, that now and then in praier time, his mouth & his mind went not both together. My minde, saies he, Aut per porticus deam­bulo, aut de faenore cogito in dialog. ad­uersus Lucifer: Ipso in tempore quo ele­uare mentem paramus in­sertis manibus, cogitationibus ad terrena plerum (que) de­nicimur. Ambr. de Fuga sicuti c. 1 citante Au­gust. contra Iul. l. 2. is wandring or walking in this or that gallery: or else telling or counting this or that summe of monie: or di­uers other waies misled and seduced. This is satans subtilty, to be then most [Page 12] busie in tempting of vs, when we are most busie in praying to God. As when two goe to law with one ano­ther, the plaintife will doe what he can, to hinder the defendant, that the iudge may not heare what he is able to say in his own cause: in like sort the deuill, the common plaintife, the cō ­mon accuser of all mankind, when he seeth vs vpon our knees, pleading for our selues by prayer, and seeking fa­uour and pittie of God, the iudge of all, then doth he most interrupt and disturbe vs. And euen as the furies, are described to haue snakes and ser­pents vpon their heades, in stead of haire: so sathan distracts our mindes, and makes vs like furies, putting pe­stilent and noysome cogitations in­to our heades, in stead of deuout and holy affections. Which is the cause why Iob, Iob. 1.20. before he fell downe vp­on the ground to pray, did shaue his head, did shaue and cut off all idle and earthly thoughts, which are nothing [Page] els, but snakes and serpents, suggested by that old serpent the deuill. For blessed Iob knew right well, it was vnpossible God should heare him, if he heard not himselfe. No no, saies God, I will neuer heare such a peo­ple, because this people drawes neare to me with their mouthes, & honour me with their lippes, but their hearts are farre from Esa. 29.13. me. What then saies the Apostle? I will pray with my breath, or with my mouth: yea and I wil pray also with my vnderstanding, or with my 1. Cor. 14.15. heart. Seeing indeede fiue wordes, though they were no more, comming from a well disposed and a faithfull heart, are a thousand times better, thē ten thousand words, which are neuer at all vttered, but muttered onely and mumbled vp in the mouth. Gods promise to his peo­ple is this, You Deut. 4.29. shall seeke me, and you shall finde me, because you shall seeke me with your whole heart. Gods performance of his promise is [Page 14] this, Ierem. 29.13. You haue sought me, and you haue found me, because you haue sought me with your whole heart. Therefore when thou seekest, seeke with thy heart; when thou praiest en­ter into thy chamber. Thy lippes are but the chamber dore. So that, when thou hast opened the dore of thy lips, then thou must enter into the very chamber of thine heart. That thy praier may not be an emptie or a windie praier, puft or blowne from the lungs, or from the lippes: but a heartie and a pithie praier, a sacrifice which hath marrow and Medullatum sacrificium. Psal. 66.15. fatnes. Such a sacrifice as Dauid offered, whenas hauing first said, My heart hath failed 4. Psal. me, I haue lost my heart: anon after he saies, I haue now, O Lord, found my heart again to pray vnto thee Inueni cor meum. 1. Sam. 7.27.. Salomon deckt & garnished his tem­ple, before he praied in it: and so be­fore thou praiest, prepare thy Ecclesiasti­cus 18.22. heart. Be sure thou finde and furnish thy heart, which is the true temple of [Page] him, who is greater then Salomon. And as that woman that sought her groat, swept ouer all the whole house; so whē thou seekest any thing of God, sweepe ouer the whole house of thy Psal. 11.1. heart: say with Manasses, O Lord, I bow vnto thee, the knees of my heart: seeing thou hast saide, Seeke ye my face, thy face, O Lord, doe I seeke: yea I doe seeke thee with my whole heart: seeing thou hast saide, Seeke, and you shall finde.

Yet it is not enough for vs to seeke with the heart: we must also knocke with the hand. For he that was borne blinde, could notwithstanding both see and say, that God heareth not sinners; but that euery one which calleth vpon the name of the Lord, must de­part from iniquitie. So that it is to li­tle purpose, for a man to seek, though with neuer so faithfull a heart, except also he knocke with a righteous hand The heretikes called Euchitae, profes­sed [Page 16] to doe nothing els but pray. Be­cause the Apostle exhorteth vs to pray continually. But they did not consider, that to pray alwaies, is to serue God alwaies. And that a godly life knocks aloude, and is a perpetuall praier to God. So that professing to pray, and to doe nothing else, in effect they did nothing lesse. Seeing as The­odoret reporteth of them, They did [...]. nothing for the most part, but sleep. Whereas in Basils iudgement, a prai­er should be filled, [...]. not with syllables, or good words, so much, as with good workes. Which none can doe, who either with these heretickes, doe no­thing at all, or else no good thing at all, but onely that which is ill with o­thers. When you shall multiply your praiers vnto me, saies God Esa. 1.15., I wil not heare you, because your hāds are full of blood. If a subiect should offer vp a supplication, hauing his hands im­brued in the blood of the kings sonne, tell me, I pray you, what [Page] thinke you? how would the king take it? would he grant him his request, trow you? or rather would he not be most wrathfully incensed, and enra­ged against him? And euen so doth God take it at our handes when we knock with bloody & vncleane hands, presuming still to pray, and yet con­tinually crucifying the sonne of God by our sinnes. Therefore say the god­ly, Let vs lift vp our hearts with our handes Lam. 3.41.. They say not, Let vs lift vp our hearts alone: but let vs lift vp our hearts with our hands. Let vs not on­ly seeke with our hearts, but also knock with our hands: yea euen with inno­cent hands. And another: Psal 241.3. Let my prayer be directed vnto thee as in­cense: & let the lifting vp of my hāds, be an euening sacrifice vnto thee. And yet another: I will that men pray eue­ry where, lifting vp pure handes 1. Tim. 2.8.. For as the precious stone diacletes, though it haue very many excellent soueraignties in it, yet it looseth thē al, [Page 18] if it be put in a dead mans mouth: so prayer, which is the only pearle and iewell of a Christian, though it haue very many rare vertues in it, yet it looseth them euery one, if it be put into a mans mouth, or into a mans heart either, that is dead in sinne, and doth not knock with a pure hand. Hence it is, that the Church is said to be perfumed with frankinsence and myrr. Cant. 3.6. By frankinsence is ment, a burning feruencie of affectiō, when­as an enflamed heart seeketh. By myrr is ment, mortification and dying vn­to sinne, when as an vndefiled hand knocketh. As when the Church saies, Cant. 5.5. My hands drop downe myrr, and my fingers pure myrr, vpon the handles of the barre. This is that holy perfume of the tabernacle, which god appoyn­ted to be made of pure myrr and fran­kinsence of each like waight. [...] Note that, Of each [...] waight. But we for the most [...] it in the making. For we put into this perfume of pray­er [Page] whole pounds of frankinsence, but not a dram, nay scarce so much as one graine of mirr. We put into it much frankinsence, much pretence of faith, much shew of seeking with the heart; but little myrr, litle true morti­fication, little holines of life, little sound knocking with the hand. Nay, that which is most lamentable, or ra­ther most detestable of all, some are not ashamed, in stead of this pure myrrhe, to put in the very drugges, and the dregges of their vile sinnes. Which is the cause why many a mans praier, is so lothsome, and so odious to God. Whereas if we would make this perfume, as it should be made, ac­cording to Gods prescription, and put in as much of the myrrhe, as of the frankinsence, of each like waight, then I assure you, no pomander which is made of amber and muske, would be so pleasant in the nostrils of God, as this perfume of praier, where­with the Church is perfumed, which [Page 20] is made of frankincense and myrrhe. Of frankincense, in a heart that see­keth; and myrrhe, in a hand that knoc­keth. When Moses praied in mount Oreb, Exod. 17.5. his hands were holden vp by Vr and Aaron. Yea they did not one­ly hold vp his hands, but also they held his rod in his hands. Now the rodde of Moses was a figure of the crosse of Christ. Whereby we are taught, that we must not knocke with our owne hands, but with Moses rod in our hands, not trusting to be heard for the works of our owne hands, for our own merits, but for Christs mer­cies. For this rodde of Moses is the crosse of Christ, the key of Dauid, the key wherewith Elias Iam. 5.17. knockt; or rather indeede he stood not without, knocking like a stranger, but with this key of praier, he lockt and vn lockt heauen at his pleasure. Among them that haue beene borne of wo­men, there hath not risen vp a grea­ter then Iohn Baptist. Not a greater. [Page] True. Onely the first Iohn Baptist Elias was as great, as the second Elias Iohn Baptist. For both of them came in one and the selfe same spirit, in one and the selfe same power. No maruell then though Elias, beeing such a ho­ly man, one while by turning the key one way, did locke vp the whole hea­uen, another while by turning the same key of praier as much another way, in the turning of a hand, did vn­locke all the dores and windowes of heauen, and set them wide open. Why doe ye maruell at this? Euen we, we our selues, I say, shall be able to doe as much as euer Elias did, if we come in the spirit and power of Elias, as Iohn Baptist did. If we haue such a spirit in our heart to seeke, and such a power in our hand to knocke, it shall likewise be opened vnto vs. For Christ hath saide here, Knocke, and it shalbe opened vnto you. Thus much for the first part, what we in our prai­er must performe to God, in these [Page 22] words, Aske, seeke, knocke.

The second part followeth, what God for our praier will performe to vs, And it shall be giuen you. That's for temporall things. In another place it is said, Giue, and it shall be giuen you. Here, Aske, and it shall be giuen you. So that it is all one with God. We may get as much of him by asking, as by giuing. By asking that which we haue not, as by giuing that which we haue. Yet S. Iames saies, 4.3. You aske, and it is not giuen you. But the reason follows, Because you aske amisse. Be­cause you aske not with your mouth. For you aske temporall things, to consume them vpon your lusts. Now though this be the ende which thou intendest, yet thou darest not con­fesse so much with thy mouth. Ther­fore then perhaps, thou maist aske and misse, whenas thou dost aske a­misse. Whenas, saies Barnard, Aut praeter verbum peris, [...] propter ven [...]um non [...]tis. either thou dost aske from the writtē word, [Page] or els thou dost not aske for the be­gotten word. Seeing euery thing which we aske, as it must be assured and warranted to vs by the Scripture, which is the written word; so it must be count'nanced and commended to God by Christ, which is the begot­ten word. Now both these wordes, written and begotten, presuppose a mouth. Which if they be in thy mouth, then Gods promise is plaine, Open thy mouth, and I will fill it. Aske of me, and I will giue thee, the heathen for thine inheritance. For the eyes of the Lord, are vpon the righ­teous, and his eares are in their Aures eius in precious e­prum. Ps. 34.16. prai­ers. He saies not, their praiers are in his eares, but, his eares are in their praiers. To signifie, that though our praiers be so weake, that they cannot pierce through the cloudes, & much lesse enter into the eares of the Lord of Hostes, yet that he will bowe downe, and incline his eares vnto our praiers. So that though our praiers [Page 24] cannot be in his eares, yet his eares shall be in our praiers. A captaine of the host of Israel beeing cut off by the time, before he could cut off all his e­nemies, spake to the sunne, saying, Sunne, stand thou still. This was a tem­porall thing, euen time it selfe which he praied for. But there was neuer seene such a daie, neither before nor since, wherein the Lord obeyed the voice of a man Iosua. 10.14.. His praiers were not in the eares of the Lord. They went vp to the sunne, and no further. Yet the eares of the Lord, were in his praiers. For the scripture saies not, that the sunne obeyed, but that the Lord obeyed the voice of a man. To signifie, that not onely God, him­selfe, will yeeld vnto vs, but also if the sunne, or any other of his creatures, should refuse to giue vs our asking, yet that he will command and com­pell them also, with himselfe to serue vs. And what man then will not obey the voice of the Lord, seeing the [Page] Lord will obey the voice of a man? Pharaoh, beeing plagued with frogs, got the man of God to pray for him. And the Lord did according to the word of Moses Exod. 8.13.. And the Lord obey­ed the voice of a man. Moses did ac­cording to the word of the Lord. That's plaine. The Lord did accor­ding to the word of Moses. That's straunge. Yet thus it is. And this it shewes; that if Moses will doe accor­ding to the word of the lord, the lord will doe according to the word of Moses. If we will keepe his precepts, he will fulfill our praiers. He will ful­fill the desire of them that feare him, he also will heare their crie, and will help them. I haue cried, saies the Psal­mist, because thou hast heard mePsal. 17.6.. One would thinke he should haue said contrariwise, Thou hast heard me, because I haue cried. Yet he saies, I haue cried, because thou hast heard me. To shewe, that crying, doeth not alwaies goe before hearing, with god, [Page] as it doeth with vs: but that God will not only heare our crie, but also heare vs before we crie, and will helpe vs. And that which is most admirable of all, though it were a thing which once he purposed neuer to giue vs, yet if we aske it, he will reuerse and repeale his owne sentence to pleasure vs. God once repented him, that he had made man, & said, I will destroy man whom I haue made, from the face of the earth. Yet when Noah had built an altar and praied to God Gen. 8.21., The lord smelleth a sauour of rest, and said in his heart, I will not henceforth curse the earth any more for mans cause. God once was so displeased with his people, that he said flatly,Non add [...]m [...] vt [...] vos. I tell you truely, I will deliuer you no more. Yet when when they asked a deliuerer of him, his very soule was grieued within him, for the miserie of Israel, and he gaue them Iepthe to deliuer them from their enemies Iudg. 10.16.. God once sent Nathan with this mes­sage [Page] to Dauid, As the Lord liueth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die. Yet when Dauid had ask't forgiuenesse, and said, Haue mercie vpon me O lord, after thy great goodnesse, and according to the mul­titude of thy mercies, doe away mine offences; God sent the same prophet with a contrarie message 2. Sam 12.13., The lord hath taken away thy sinne, and thou shalt not die. God once sent Esay with this message to Ezechias, Set thy house in order, for thou shalt die and not liue. Yet when Ezechias had tur­ned him toward the wall, and wept, and praied, and said, O Lord remember howe I haue walked before thee in trueth, and with a perfect heart; God sent the same prophet with a contrarie message, 2. Reg. 10.6.. Thus saith the lord, I haue heard thy praiers and thy teares, and now behold thou shalt liue and not die. Then did the king re­ioyce in thy strength O lord, excee­ding glad was he of thy saluation. For [Page 28] thou didst graunt him his owne de­sire, and didst not denie him the re­quest of his lips. He asked life of thee, and thou gauest him a longer life, euen fifteene yeares longer. As also here thou doest promise vs, both for this life, and for all temporall things cōcerning this life, yea though it be a thing, which once thou hadst purposed neuer to giue vs, Aske, and it shall be giuen you.

Yea not only God will giue you temporall things, but also you shall find spiritual things. Yet the Church saies, Cant. 3.1. I sought him whome my soule loued, I sought him, and I found him not. But the reason goes before, because she sought him in her bed: she sought him not with her heart. My soule lo­ueth him, saies she, yet at that time her heart loued her bed better. Therefore sayes Augustine, Quaeite quod quaeritis, sed non vbi quaeritis. Seek what you seeke, but seeke not where you seeke. Seek Christ: that's a good what. Seek [Page] what you seeke. But seeke him not in bed. That's an ill where. But seeke not where you seeke. Moses found Christ, not in a soft bed, but in a bramble bush. So that the bed is no fit place to find him in, who had not where to rest himselfe. But goe into the garden among the bramble bush­es, and there you shall find him, not sleeping, but sweating dropps of blood for your redemption, and cal­ling you to him, Math. 11.29. Come vnto me all you that labour, (not you that lie a bed and are secure, but you that la­bour) and are heauie laden, and I will refresh you. Take my yoke vpō you, and you shal find rest for your soules. If you seeke rest with you hearts, with your soules, you shall find rest for your soules; & that rest also, which is not to be found in the bedde of pleasure, but in the yoke of Christ. If thou seekest for this spirituall rest, as for siluer, and search for it, as for treasures, Prou. 2.5. then shalt thou vnderstand the feare of the Lord, and find the [Page 30] knowledge of God. Therefore seek the Lord, not in the bed of sensuality, but where he may be found. And seek the lord while he may be foundEsay 55.6.. Or rather indeed, though not in what place soeuer, yet at what time so euer we sinners seeke, we shall be sure to finde him, that saies, I am found of them that sought me Esay 65.1. not. So that no man, seeking God, shall returne with a Non est inventu [...]; but we that haue erred & straied like lost sheepe, shall finde him, or rather we shall be found of him, before we seeke him. And that which is most wonderfull of all, we shall not onely finde often­times before we seeke, but also we shall finde much more then we seeke. That good Centurion Math. 8.8. sought onely one word, Dic verbum, saies he, but he found more. Christ vttered not one­ly one word, whereby his seruant was healed, but also very many words, wherein he gaue himselfe a most sin­gular praise and commendation for [Page] his faith. Dymas, the theife on the right hand, Luk. 23.42. sought onely to be re­membred, when Christ should come into his kingdom, but he found more. What talkest thou of beeing remem­bred, saies Christ, as though thou shouldst be farre from me out of my sight? Tush man, I will doe more for thee then so? Thou shalt not onely be remembred, but thou shalt be with me. And why saist thou, Whē I come into my kingdome? as though it would be a long while first? This ve­ry day shalt thou be with me in my kingdome; this day shalt thou be with me in paradise. That needie man in the Gospel, Luk. 11.9. sought onely to borrow three loaues, but he found more. God his good friend, bad him welcome at midnight, and did not onely lende him, but frankly and freely giue him, not onely three loaues, but as many as he needed, He gaue him as many as he needed. Salomon, 2. Chron. 1.1 [...] sought onely wis­dome, but he found more. Seeing he [Page 32] sought first the kingdome of God & the righteousnes thereof, all other things besides, were added vnto him. Wherefore if any man want wisdome, or any such spirituall thing, let him with Salomon seeke it of God, & he shall finde it. Yea we shall finde infi­nitely aboue measure, more then we seeke, or can deuise to seeke, of him that saies, Seeke, and you shall finde.

Yea not only you shall find spiri­tuall things, but also it shall be opened vnto you: that's for eternal things. Yet we read that some began to knock, saying, Luk. [...]. Lord, Lord, open vnto vs, and it was not opened vnto them. But the reason is euident elsewhere. Be­cause they did not knock with their hands. They had, I grant lampes in their hands, but they had not oyle in their lāps. So that all their knocking, was but as a sounding brasse, or as a tinckling cimball. Whereas if we would knocke to purpose indeede, [Page] the way were, as Christ teacheth vs elswhere, not to crie Lord, Lord, but by setting to our hands, to doe and worke the will of our heauenly fa­ther. Loe ye, saies Chrysologus, En quàm ne­gare nollet, qui sibi etiam neganti, quali­ter extorque­retur, ostendit. how loath our good Lord is to denie vs a­ny thing, seeing though he were ne­uer so much disposed to keepe vs out, yet here he teacheth vs a way, how we may breake open the dores, and presse in vpon him, and get the king­dome of heauen whether he will or no, by the violence and force of faith, from him. For ther's a great diffe­rence betweene Diues and God, though there be a great agreement betweene Lazarus and vs. Lazarus Luk. 16.20. was a beggar full of sores: so are we all by nature beggars, standing with­out, and knocking at the dore. Yea, his bodie was not so full of sores, as our soule is of sinnes. Lazarus desired to be relieued with the crummes of bread, which fell from the rich mans board: so haue we all neede, God [Page 34] wote, to be refreshed with the crums of mercie, which fall from our ma­sters table. Yet in one respect, we are better then Lazarus. In that it was his hard happe, to knocke at the dore of a cruell, a wretched, a miserable cai­tiffe, who could see no time to open vnto him. But we knocke at the dore of a most kind, a most liberall, a most mercifull father, who as soone as he heareth vs rapping with a liuely faith, which worketh by charitie, hath no power to keepe vs out any longer, but presently he openeth vnto vs. And euen as S. Peter, Act. 3.2. when he saw that lame cripple lying vpon the ground, crauing an almes, at the beautifull gate of the temple, said vnto him, Sil­uer and gold haue I none, but such as I haue, health, and recouerie I giue thee: so Christ, when he seeth vs ly­ing prostrate, groueling on the groūd before him, and knocking for an almes at the beautifull gate of his ho­ly temple, by and by openeth vnto [Page] vs, and giues vs not siluer or gold, or any such corruptible thing, but health and saluation to our soules, and all the inestimable riches of his glorie, and all the eternall treasures of his king­dome. O that some of you would a litle trie, whether this be true which I say or no! that you would bounce as hard as euer you can, at this beautifull gate, and say with the Psalmist, Psal. 44.23. Arise, arise, O Lord, why sleepest thou? I warrant you, you should heare him answer you in another Psalme, Psal. 12.5. Now for the pitifull cōplaint of the poore, I will arise, saith the Lord; I will sleepe no longer, I will arise and open vnto them. So it was opened to the poore Luk. 18.13. Publican. He went vp to the tem­ple to pray, and when he came thi­ther, he knocked his breast and said, Lord, be mercifull vnto me a sinner. Therefore the dore of mercie was o­pened vnto him, and he went home, euen into heauen his long home, more iustified in the sight of God, [Page] then that other which iustified him­selfe. So was it opened to S. Steuen Act. 7.56.. He was brought out to be stoned. But when he came forth, the very stones could not knocke him so hard, as his praier knockt heauen gate, whē as he said, Lord Iesus let me in, Lord Iesus receiue my spirit. Therefore the gate was opened vnto him. He saw the heauen opened, and Iesus standing at the right hand of God, where he within a while after, should sit him­selfe. So was it opened to king Psal. 118.19. Dauid. He knockt very imperiously, not like a petitioner, but like a commander. Lift vp your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift vp ye euerlasting dores, that the King of glorie may come in. O­pen vnto me the gate of the righte­ous, that I may enter in and praise the Lord. And when the gate was opened, as he was entring in, he pointed to it and said, This is the gate of the righ­teous, the iust shall enter into it. So was it opened to S. Paul. Act. 16 26. He was cast [Page] downe into the very lowest dungeon. All the chaines of darknes, and euen hell it selfe, could not haue held him faster, then that dungeon did. Yet at midnight, when he praied & knockt, suddenly all the prison dores flew open, yea all the dores of heauen like­wise stood open, and that which is most maruelous of all, they stood so wide open, that not onely S. Paul himselfe went in, but also Stephanas the iayler, and his whole houshold, whome he at that time conuerted and baptized, did enter in with him. So that all, all eternall things are ours, and nothing, nothing can preuaile a­gainst vs, if we knocke as we ought. Not the brasen gates of hell, to shut vs in, nor the golden gates of heauen, to shut vs out. For Christ hath said here, Knocke, and it shall be opened vnto you. Thus much for the second part, what God for our praier will performe to vs in these words, And it shall be giuen you, and you shall find, and it shall be ope­ned [Page 38] vnto you.

Now then my deere brethren, giue me leaue, I beseech you, to speake vn­to you, me I say, that am the seruant of God, and your seruant for God, as Naman the Syrians seruants said vnto him. Father, say they, if the pro­phet had commaunded thee a great thing, wouldst thou not haue done it? how much more then, when he saieth vnto thee, Wash, and be cleane? Brethren, say, I, if he that is more then a prophet, had commanded you a great thing, would you not haue done it? how much more then when he sai­eth vnto you. Wash, and be cleane, Aske, and it shall be giuen you? He desires to be desired. And he ha's not his owne will, except we haue ours. But we may haue what we will for asking. God doeth aske no more of vs, but only that we would vouchsafe to aske him. Doe no more, saies he, but aske, and haue: Doe no more, but [Page] seeke, and finde: Doe no more, but knocke, and enter in. O how easily, & yet howe powerfully doeth praier worke! It ouercommeth all beastes. The Leuiathan, the strength of all Gods creatures, was so subdued by praier, that whereas otherwise he might haue beene a gulfe to swallowe vp Ionas quicke, and for euer to de­uoure him, he became a shippe to saue him. It ouercommeth all men▪ Iacob giueth Ioseph one portion a­boue his brethren, which he got of the Amorites, by his sword and by his bowe. But the Chaldee Paraphrast, translates it, By my praier, and by my supplication. Which translation proo­ueth, that praier is the sword, and sup­plication is the bowe of a Christian, wherewith he subdueth all his ene­mies. It ouercommeth the deuill him­selfe. Praier and fasting, are the chei­fest meanes to cast him out. If we re­sist him by praier, he will flie from vs. Yea the most silly beast in all the for­rest, [Page 40] is not so much affrighted and a­mazed, when a lyon roareth, as this cowardly beast the deuill is daunted and terrified, when a Christian pray­eth. What shall I say more? It ouer­commeth him that cannot be ouer­come, making the virgins son stoupe downe, and condescend vnto vs. I pray thee let me goe, saies he, to one that wrestled with him all the night long by praier. If thou wilt be a suter to God, God will be a suter to thee. If thou wilt pray vnto God, God will pray vnto thee. I pray thee, saies he, let me goe. But what doeth Israel an­swer? I will not let thee goe, except thou blesse me. No will? It is not be­like now as God will, but as man will. God is taken captiue by praier, and become a prisoner to man, and stands at his curtesie, who saies, I will not let thee goe, except thou blesse me. And that which is more then all this, if more may be, praier ouercommeth God, not onely beeing well pleased, [Page 41] as he was with Israel, when any child may deale with him, but also beeing displeased, as he was with the Israe­lites, when no man may come neere him; when his wrath burneth as fire; when he thunders from heauen; and teares the clouds in peeces; & cleaues the rockes asunder; and shakes sand and sea togither; and makes the whole earth in a trembling fitte of feare, flie away from him. Yet if some Moses doe but stand vp in the gap and pray, all this omnipotent power, shall come to nothing; god shall not be able, though he be neuer so angrie, to en­ter vpon the breach, but praier shall haue the victorie, & get the conquest of him. Wherefore beloued, once a­gaine I say, let vs alwaies intrench our selues within this inuincible bulwark of praier. Our whole life alas, as we haue made it by sinne, is most misera­ble. There is no man aliue, if he had knowne before he was borne, what miseries would haue befallen him in [Page] this life, but would haue wished, I warrant you, with all his heart, that that which was the wombe of his birth, had bin the tombe for his buri­all. But in all the calamities of this life, our onely comfort is praier. In all the afflictions of this life, our onely for­tresse is praier. Praier, whereby we are oftentimes in spirit with the Apostle, rapt vp into the third heauen, where we, that are otherwise but wormes, walke with the angels, and euen con­tinually talke with God. Hence it is that holy men and women in former time, could neuer haue enough of this exercise. Nazianzen in his Epitaph for his sister Gorgonia writeth, that shee was so giuen to praier, [...]. that her knees seemed to cleaue to the earth, & to growe to the very ground, by rea­son of continuance in praier. Grego­rie in his Dialogues writeth, that his aunt Trasilla being dead, was foūd to haue her elbowes as hard as horne. Which hardnes she got by leaning to [Page 43] a deske, at which she vsed to pray. Eusebius in his historie writeth that Iames the brother of our Lord, had knees as hard as cammells knees, be­nummed & bereiued of all sense and feeling, by reason of continuall knee­ling in prayer. Hierom in the life of Paul the Eremite, writeth, that he was found dead, kneeling vpon his knees, holding vp his hands, lifting vp his eies Etiam cada­ver mortui of­ficioso gestu precabatur.. So that the very dead corps see­med yet to liue and by a kind of reli­gious gesture to pray still vnto God. O how happie and how blessed, was that soule without the body, when as that bodie without the soule was so deuout! O that we may be, that we may be likewise, so happy and so ble­ssed as this holy man was, that we may depart hence, in such sort as he did, that is in such sort as Christ did, who died in prayer, saying Father into thy handes I commend my spirit, that our lord when he cōmeth, may find vs so doing, that when we shall lie vpon [Page 44] our death bed, gasping for breath, readie to giue vp the ghost, then the precious soule of euerie one of vs, re­deemed with the precious blood of Christ, may passe away in a prayer, in a secret and sweet prayer, may passe I say, out of Adam's body, into Abram's bosome; Through the tender mer­cies of Iesus Christ, to whom with the father and the holy ghost, be all ho­nour and glorie, power and praise, dignitie and dominion, now & euer­more. Amen.


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