A PLAINE AND PITHY EX­POSITION OF THE SECOND EPISTLE TO THE THESSALONIANS. By that learned & judicious Diuine Mr WILLIAM BRADSHAW, some­time Fellow of SIDNEY COLLEDGE in CAMBRIDGE. Published since his Deceasse BY THOMAS GATAKER B. of D. and Pastor of Rotherhith.

LONDON Printed by Edward Griffin for William Bladen, and are to be sold at his shop at the signe of the Bible, at the great North dore of Paules. 1620.

TO THE RIGHT WORSHIPFVL AND TRVLY RELIGIOVS Mrs Katharine Redich of Newhall in Darby­shire, increase of all graces spirituall, with assurance of life eternall.

RIGHT WORSHIPFVL, Hauing prepared and fit­ted for the Presse, some part of the labors of that worthy seruant of GOD, that spent much of his time with you, and vnder your roofe both drew in and let out his last breath; the doubt was easily decided, to whom they should be addres­sed. None seemed to lay more due and rightfull claime to them then your selfe. The maine meanes of his maintenance were from your Familie while he liued: [Page] and the principall stay of his, vnder God, hath bin from You and Yours since his deceasse. Neither may any more iustly challenge the benefit of the light, then those that haue ministred oyle to the lamp. The Author, I doubt not, had he liued to publish them himselfe, would so haue disposed of them. And which way could I, his deputy, more fitly direct them, then whither he himselfe did in all likelyhood intend them? Much benefit by them, I assure my selfe, may redound to all sorts. But your selfe may more spe­cially reap fruit by them more then ordi­narie; in that you were formerly a parta­ker of that by word of mouth then deli­uered, which is now here by help of pen and Presse further represented to your eye, and so reduced to your minde and remembrance againe. The most that shall light on them, they will salute but as strangers at first sight; with whom yet their worth once knowne and duely weighed, will soone gaine them fauour and good acceptance. To your selfe and some few more they shall repaire as anci­en [Page] [...]cquaintance, renewing that familia­ [...]e, which they haue formerly had with [...]ou. But the better you are acquainted with them already, the lesse need is there that I should commend them vnto you. A strangers commendation is superflu­ous betweene those that are inwardly ac­quainted already. Let these few lines ra­ther serue to acknowledge mine owne engagement vnto You & Yours, (which I vnfeinedly acknowledg, & wish I were any way able really to testifie) for that loue & kindnes that you haue from time to time shewen, & do yet shew to the Au­thor of this worke: wherein I may well say of you (and I speake it without flat­tery) as Naomi of Boaz, that you cease not to doe good both to the liuing and the dead. Ruth 2.20. The Lord increase daily the number of those, that do feelingly and effectually commi­serate the forlorne estate that the poore children of his Prophets, after their Pa­rents deceasse, are ordinarily exposed vn­to; and aboundantly recompence what­soeuer kindnes you haue shewen or shall shew, in that kind, into the bosome of [Page] You and Yours. That which h [...] [...]lso doubtles will not faile to do, who as is not vnrighteous to forget the paines and lo [...] labor of those that minister vnto his Saints;Hebr. 6.10. so much lesse will he forget or be slacke to reward the labor and charge, that is be­stowed vpon those that are (through his blessing) a meanes to make Saints. To his mercy and bounty I heartily recom­mend you, [...] Dan. 12.3. and so rest

Your Worships to be commanded in the Lord, Tho: Gataker.

To the Christian Reader.

YOur Fathers (saith Zach. 1.5, 6. GOD by the Prophet Zacharie to the Iewish people;) where are they? and the Prophets, do they liue for euer? But did not my words, which I gaue my seruants the Prophets in charge, take hold of your Fathers, and they retur­ned? &c. Thereby intimating, that the word of God may haue his effect & efficacie euen after the deceasse of those that somtime deliuered it. As the Apostle saith, that though the Ministers of Gods word be laid in irons, (as himselfe also then was,) yet [...]. 2. Tim. 2.9. the word of God is not bound with them: so though the Ministers of it may be taken away by death, yet the word of God doth not dye with them, but may remaine still (for the force and efficacie of it, or for the fruit and benefit of it) to those that partaked of it with them while they liued: they may Suo sibi suce [...] v [...]uont, ros si n [...] cadit. Plaut. Capt. scen. 1. like shell-fish drawne out of the Sea, feede on that moysture on dry land, which they gathered and tooke in, while they were yet in the water. This, as it is true of all, that haue bin able and painfull in their places; so more specially of those, that by writing afford vnto publike view and generall vse, the fruits of their learned and religious labors. Others benefit those only, that are within reach of their voice; these those also, that are without the report of [Page] their speech, that abide many miles and leagues of them, that are by land and sea also seuered and disioy­ned from them. They profit those that liue with them; these those also that liue after them. As Sira. 46.20. Siracks Son saith of Samuel, (that which H. Northāpt of Prophecies. Chytraeus, Sir [...]gel. in Si­rac. & alij. some also so expound, to salue that Authors credit) they prophecie after their deceasse; and, as Hebr. 11.4. the Apostle saith of ABEL, being dead they yet speake. As 2. King. 13.21. the reliques of Elisha (his corps, I meane, though not superstitiously reserued,) raised him againe to life, that was occasio­nally tumbled into his Tombe: so may their remain­ders helpe to revive, and put spirituall life into many, that shall light on them, after that themselues haue left this naturall life, euen while their corps lye laid vp in their graues. 2. Chr. 21.12. There came a writing, saith the Holy Ghost, from the Prophet Elias to King Ioram, who yet had 2 King. 2.11. departed this world in the dayes of Iehosaphat, before euer that Ioram came to the Crowne. And 2. Pet. 1 15. the Apostle Peter, by his writings, made account, that the faithfull might reap benefit, euen after himselfe was dead and gone. This considered, I deeme them not vnworthy due commendation, that preserue from perishing, and publish for the vse of posteritie, the works and writings of those, that either in Diuinitie, or other vsefull learning, haue taken paines to some good purpose. As on the other side, I hold them iniu­rious, both to the present age, and to future times, that enuie or denie such things the publike, and either fea­ther their owne priuate nests onely with them, or let them lye idle, by them, for wormes and mothes to make meat of. Hauing therefore committed to me, to pervse, and review, some part of the writings of [Page] that godly, learned, and iudicious Diuine (now with the Lord) Mr W. Bradshaw, and finding them to be, not vnlike their Author, full fraught with true piety, sound iudgment, and good schollership; his ob­seruations naturall, not coact or far-fetched; his in­uention rare and not ordinarie; his phrase, though not swelling, yet emphaticall, full of spirit and life; his discourse not extrauagant, but keeping close to the point, and tending mainly to the improuement of piety and godlines: in regard whereof, they seemed neither vnworthy to see further light, nor vnable well to en­dure the light; I was not vnwilling (notwithstanding mine owne occasions and distractions otherwise) out of my loue to the deceassed, and desire of aduancing the common good, to take some paines about the tran­scribing and perfecting some of them, and so fitting them for the Presse, And, among the rest, perceiuing these his Meditations on that Second to the Thessalo­nians, to be both pithy and compendious, handling an entire parcell of Scripture, that in our language few haue formerly delt with; as also that himselfe had begun to write them out more fairely and largely, then ordinarie, as intending some such thing, I thought good to breake the ice with them: And so beginning at the entrance into the Second Chapter, where he had left transcribing, out of other his owne notes containing a continued Commentarie to the end of the Epistle (some defects onely supplied) haue I made vp the whole worke. Which if it shall finde such good acceptance, as my desire is it should, and as the worke it selfe (I doubt not) will deserue, I may receiue thereby incouragement to take further paines, about the finishing and fitting [Page] for publike view, some other of his labors, that as yet remaine with me, for the good of Gods Church, and the benefit of his poore Wife, and foure fatherles Or­phans. Had he himselfe, while he liued, put the last hand to the two latter Chapters, as he had done to the first, the whole worke had bin more consummate and exact then now it is. Yet as it is, though not altogither so artificially compact and put togither, and so wanting some of its grace that way, it is for the maine matter of it, in all likelyhood, no other then it would haue bin, had he procceded to perfect it, as may appeare by comparing his second transcript with his first draught, in that that he had finished. That blessed Spirit accompanie the publishing of it, by whose immediate inspiration the Epistle it selfe was at first endited, and by whose gra­cious assistance, these Meditations on it were formerly conceiued and deliuered; and through his blessing it may proue beneficiall and comfortable to not a few in the reading of it, as in hearing it hath bin the like to many already. To Him commending it and thee, I rest,

Thine in Christ, T. G.

AN EXPOSITION of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians. THE FIRST CHAPTER.

VERS. 1. Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus,’

THE principall scope of this Epistle is,The first part of the Epistle. to confirme and strengthen this Church in the sinceritie of that Faith and Religion wherein it was first planted, and therein to arme it against all tryals and tempta­tions arising either from wicked Persecutors, or corrupt and antichristian Seducers.

The parts of the Epistle are many, knit togither in that frame and method by the Inditer thereof, that was most common in those times and places, [Page 2] amongst not onely diuine, but humane writers in their Letters and Epistles.

The first part is a Superscription, wherein is expressed:

  • 1. The Authors of the Epistle.
  • 2. The Persons to whom the Epistle is sent.

The principall Author was Paul, by whose spi­rit alone (stirred vp and directed by Gods Spirit) it was indited. Silvanus and Timothie consented thereunto, whose names Paul vseth togither with his owne, for the further establishing and confir­ming of that truth which here he writes of: and to testifie that they were of the same iudgement and affection with him.

In these three Persons, especially in the first, is declared the diuine authoritie of this Epistle; For these being (though so much be not in this text specified) the one an Apostle, the other Euange­lists, their authoritie in the dispensation of the Go­spell, whether by mouth or pen, was more then humane, they hauing (especially Paul) a Spirit that led them into all Truth, and therefore an Epistle written from them, and vnder their names vnto any Church, was to be receiued from them, as if it had bin sent from heauen written with Christs owne hand, and subscribed by all the Saints and Angels in heauen.

It must be acknowledged, that though they had concealed their names, (as the Author to the He­brewes doth,) that yet the very matter thereof, would haue owned that Spirit by which it was in­dited. Yet the prefixing of their names doth so [Page 3] much the more particularly confirme the autho­ritie thereof, and adde weight and moment vnto the same.

We see then first of all; That the very names of Paul and Silvanus &c, (of themselues but weake and fraile men) adde authoritie and credit to the word of God. That which without their names would haue bin acknowledged to be of di­uine authoritie, is for their names sake of the grea­ter authoritie; the Spirit of God giueth authoritie to them, they giue authoritie & waight to it▪ This is true also of all true Christians, and not of these Worthies onely, according to the degree and measure of Grace communicated vnto them. The Gospell (so far forth as they sincerely professe it) doth not onely honour their names,Tit. 1.10. but their names also honour it. Miserable professors are they, who after such a manner professe the Go­spell, that neither they are a credit to it, nor it a credit to them; much more they, (and how many are they!) whose names are a reproch and discre­dit to it, and it to them, in the eyes of all that feare the Lord.

2. In that Paul for the further credit and au­thoritie of that truth, which here by the Spirit of God he is moued to write, vseth also the names of Timothie and Silvanus, which in Gifts, Office, and Authoritie were inferiour vnto him, it may teach vs thus much: That the consent of Chri­stians amongst themselues, especially of the Mini­sters of the Gospell, addeth much authoritie to the truth which they professe: yea the consent [Page 4] of inferiours, in gifts, graces, and callings, addeth authoritie to that which Superiours do hold and professe. Though Silvanus and Timothies autho­ritie be lesser then Pauls, yet concurring with Pauls, it makes his the greater in the Church of God. The more authoritie then that a man doth desire to haue in Gods Church, the more must he labour after the consent of his brethren: yea of them that in gifts, and authoritie are his inferiours. Vaine are the conceits of them, that looke to am­plifie their Authoritie in Gods Church by their Singularitie: God may indeed reueale that truth to one, which he conceales from another, neither is any such truth to be smothered or betrayed for want of this consent: yet this knowledge of his, in this or that diuine truth, so long as it is singular, is and will be amongst the people of God, of so much the lesse authoritie. The authoritie of Paul then flourisheth most, when Silvanus and Timothie ioyne in consent with him; neither are they led by Pauls Spirit, that contemne and make no reckoning of the consent of their brethren, though inferiors vnto them: Were thy authoritie amongst Christians as great as Pauls; yet it is the lesse, if thou haue not the consent of Timothie and Silva­nus, to shew for that which thou holdest, teachest, and professest.

‘—Vnto the Church of the Thessalonians—’

The Persons vnto whom this Epistle was writ­ten and sent were Thessalonians: i. certaine people [Page 5] dwelling in or about that famous Citie of Thessa­lonica in Macedonia, built by Philip the Father of Alexander the Great, and so named in memo­rie of a great vic [...]ie gotten ouer Thessalia, a Country of Greece, bordering vpon Macedonia.

This Epistle is not written to the whole Citie, or Country there, but to the Church: i. To so many of them, whether Citizens or others, as were ioyned togither in a holy societie, and com­munion in the worship and seruice of Christ, ac­cording to his will reuealed in the Gospell; for such were the Churches which the Apostles plan­ted, and wrote their Epistles vnto. The speciall fruit then of this and such like Epistles, is to be reaped principally by them that are members of the Church, and that liue in the communion there­of. Those which direct letters to whole Cities, Countries or States, vse therein (if they be wise) to treat of such matters as principally concerne the whole Bodie they write vnto: Howsoeuer therefore Hereticks, Schismaticks, Persons ex­communicated, and Infidels, may reap some fruit and profit by the due reading and meditating vp­on this Epistle, yet it being by the Spirit of God inspired and breathed for the vse of a whole Church, the principall fruit thereof, is to be rea­ped by them that are members of the Church, and in the Communion of the Church; Neither d [...]d either this, or any other of the Apostles write any of their Epistles and Letters, to Countries, Cities, or Persons, before they were conuerted, thereby to draw them to the Faith, and the Communion [Page 6] of the Church. But first they won them by preach­ing, and then they writ vnto them to stablish and confirme them in the Faith. Though therefore that which they writ, bee for substance the same Gospell, with that which they preached: yet by this it may appeare, that the principall fruit of the Gospell written, is to be reaped and gathered by them, which haue beene called to liue in the Com­munion, and vnder the spirituall gouernment of the Church, by the Gospell preached.

‘—which is in God our Father, and in our Lord Iesus Christ.’

He describes the Church he writes vnto by this Argument, That it is in God our Father, and in our Lord Iesus Christ. Wherein the Apostle declares the neere vnion & coniunction between God and euery true Church, if they bee in deede and truth that which they professe to bee, They are in the neerest and straitest band knit vnto God himselfe, yea ingraffed into him: it is not possible for one Person to be so knit vnto another, as the Church and members thereof are knit vnto God; They are heere sayd to be in God, and in Christ, and other where God and Christ are sayd to be in them; So that they are in God, and God is in them, which noteth the neerest, and most inseparable, and bles­sed Vnion that may be.

The Apostle amplifies this Vnion, by descri­bing that God, and that Christ, in which this Church was, to bee his and their Father, his and [Page 7] their Lord and Iesus; So that God the Father is a Father, and God the Son is a Lord and Sauiour, (for so Iesus signifieth) vnto all those that are in this Vnion: otherwise there were no comfort, but horror in the same. God therefore being their Fa­ther, and Christ their Sauiour and Lord, those that are thus ingraffed into them, may presume to re­ceiue from this Father, being Almighty, any good thing that they shall neede, and to be secured and freed from any euill that may hurt them. It is a nature ingraffed into Fathers, by this heauenly Father, to doe their children all the good they can: and such Lords and Masters, as haue beene con­tent with a great price, euen with their owne ser­uitude, yea death, to redeeme their seruants from their cruell enemies, will not suffer them to haue hurt, if it lie in them to inhibit it. The Chur­ches of God therefore, hauing God to be their Fa­ther, and Christ the Son of God to be their Lord, their Iesus and Sauiour, and being in the neerest bond, euen by the Spirit of God knit vnto God & Christ, they may build vpon it, that this Christ their Sauiour, in whom they are, will saue them from whatsoeuer may hurt them: That this God their Father, will shew the true and most naturall dispo­sition of a Father towards them, in prouiding for them whatsoeuer shall be for their good. And this shall wee haue a liuely feeling of, if in our holy communion and society with the Church, wee shall behaue our selues towards God, as dutifull children, & vnto Christ Iesus, as faithfull seruants: Till then wee shall neuer know, what it is to bee [Page 8] in God our Father, and in our Lord Iesus Christ.

This Vse we may make of this Doctrine.

1. If we desire to feele the comfort and blessing of being in God our Father, and in our Lord Iesus Christ, let vs become, not in outward profession onely and in shew, but in deede and truth, true members of the Church, delighting in the com­munion and fellowship of the Saints; for this pre­rogatiue is heere attributed vnto such. Neuer thinke that thou art in God and in Christ, so long as thou art out of the Church and Communion of the Saints, so long at least, as thou art not in will and affection ioyned vnto the same.

2. Let vs feare that wee are not true members of any Church of Christ, vntill we haue some fee­ling of this, that we are in God, and so in him, that he is vnto vs a Father, and a Sauiour. And let vs neuer rest and bee at quiet, vntill wee haue a sweet and comfortable sense indeede, that he is indeede our Father, and our Sauiour, by some infallible fruits and signes thereof; for how can it bee, but that they that are in God, as in their Father, and in Christ, as in their Sauiour, but they shall, if they stirre vp that grace which is in them, feele in some degree the vertue of a Father, and of a Sauiour, transfused into their Soules.

3. Let euery Church esteeme this vnion, as a matter of the greatest honour and prerogatiue that may bee, if it had nothing els to set forth it selfe withall, yet let vs esteeme this to be fulnesse of ho­nour vnto it, the fruit that springs from this Vni­on, the graces that are communicated in this [Page 9] Coniunction, should abundantly content, and sa­tisfie euery true Church of Iesus Christ, though she had nothing els in the world to boast of.

And thus much of the first part of the Epistle.

VERS. 2. Grace bee with you, and peace from God our Father, and from the Lord Iesus Christ.’

THE second part followeth, which is a Salu­tation, wherein he testifieth the desire that he hath of their spirituall good and welfare. These Salutations are common both in humane and di­uine writers in the beginning of their letters, there­by the more to gaine the affection of them they write vnto, vnto that they write of; Most vse them for ceremonie, and to be in the fashion; and ma­ny that most feelingly vse them, doe therein onely testifie a naked desire and affection to the parties they salute. But when they proceede from a san­ctified heart, mooued and stirred thereto by the Spirit of God, they are then powerfull and effe­ctuall instruments, of procuring and effecting that grace and blessing, which therein they wish and desire to others. For when the Holy Spirit of God mooueth a man, to wish well vnto his bro­ther, it is a signe, that by the meanes thereof, it in­tendeth to worke that good in him: for those wi­shes and desires that are stirred by Gods Spirit, are not in vaine, but shall be in some measure accom­plished and fulfilled. The salutations therefore that proceede from a sanctified heart, whether vt­tered [Page 10] by mouth or pen, are so many reall blessings to the persons they are bestowed vpon. There is neuer a hearty good morrow or good euen that they bestow vpon thee, but thou farest the better for it.

The particular good that he wisheth then in this Salutation, is the same that he wisheth, not onely in effect, but in a manner word for word, to all the Churches and Persons, that he writes vnto, (that to the Hebrewes excepted, which he doth not professe to be his).

By Grace from God &c, he meaneth the free fa­uour, and loue of God towards them in Iesus Christ manifested vnto them, by the testimonie of Gods Spirit. By Peace from God &c, the quiet and comfort of their Soules and Consciences, arising from the apprehension of the grace aforesaid, whereby they might discerne, that God was re­conciled vnto them in Iesus Christ, and at peace with them, and they freed from the feare of all their spirituall enemies. This then is the effect of this Salutation, an vnfained and hearty desire, that the lesse grace and fauour and peace they found amongst men, since they had giuen their names to Iesus Christ, the more they might finde with God in Iesus Christ. That they might haue sure euidence, euen from God the Father, and from Iesus Christ, that they are in fauour and grace with God, and that he is reconciled vnto them, and at peace with them.

We may learne hence,

1. What is the greatest good, that one Christian [Page 11] can wish or do for another: euen to desire and indeauour to bring one another into grace and fa­uour with God. The Apostle could not in any of his Epistles deuise a greater good to wish vnto them he writes vnto. If a man might haue neuer so many wishes, either for himself or others gran­ted vnto him; to wish this, is to wish more then all the world besides. If thou couldst by wishing get thy neighbour the highest grace and fauour with all the Princes and Monarchs in the world: If thou couldst procure sufficient bonds of peace, betweene him and all the Powers and Potentates vpon Earth, yea and all the Deuils in Hell, so that none of them, either would or could hurt him, but would do him all the good they could: yet this were nothing in comparison of this Grace and Peace. If by wishing, or prayer, or indeauour thou couldst procure this to thy neighbour, thou doest more for him, then if thou didst procure him the Monarchie of the whole world. For alas, what would it profit a man, if all the men in the world, and all the Diuels in Hell, yea and Angels in Heauen were combined to doe him all the good they could, if the Almighty God be against him, and at warre with him? On the contrary side, what neede a man care, though he were in disgrace with all the world, and though all the Powers of Earth and Hell were vp in armes against him, so long as he is in grace and fauour with God, and in league with him. Let vs that are Christians be content (if otherwise we cannot get it,) to forfeit and forgo, for this, all other Grace and Peace whatso­euer: [Page 12] and let vs be ashamed to lose the least pledge and interest thereof, for the purchase of the highest and greatest grace and peace amongst men.

2. In that Paul to win their affection the more, doth aboue all things wish in this manner, this grace and peace vnto them, it shewes that them­selues did aboue all things wish and desire the same: For when men, to gaine the affection of others, doe wish any good vnto them, they make choice of that good, which they conceiue is most desired and affected of them, and which they are in labour and pursuit after. Therefore a Christian Soule wisheth and desireth nothing more, then Grace and Peace from God: If thou shouldst wish him grace and fauour with the greatest Prince in the world, thou shouldst not so much winne his heart, as in wishing and desiring this Grace and Peace from God. The more then that men haue receiued the signes and tokens of this Grace, and Peace, the more they desire and affect the same. These Christians were in God the Father, and in Iesus Christ, and therefore had already receiued Grace and Peace from them in some degree: so that the more they haue, the more they desire: neither doe any so much feele the want thereof, as they that haue most tasted of it. The more the Lord in this life manifests his grace vnto them, the more they see their owne gracelesnes; the more they see their owne gracelesnes, the more they are afflicted and humbled in their Soules, and the more still in that regard they desire grace & peace [Page 13] with God. What should we thinke then of those, which despise the meanes of this grace and peace, and which most of all despise those, who by their office do not only wish, but indeuour to pro­cure this grace and peace vnto them, and the more they indeuour it, the more they hate them: the next way to loose their heart, and stirre vp their hatred, is to wish them grace and peace from God; they thinke they superabound therewith already: Surely such are manifest despisers there­of, and are in great danger neuer to taste thereof.

3. That grace and peace which is the life and comfort of a Christian Soule, is not onely in God the Father, and in Iesus Christ, but from them; and that is said to come from them, when it is not hid­den in them, but shewes it selfe in manifest signes and tokens from them. The Soule & Conscience of an humbled sinner, will not in this matter trust vnto the conceits and opinion of others, though all the men in the world would secure him of this, that God is reconciled vnto him, and at peace with him: yet he will not trust to that, except he haue some infallible euidence from God himselfe, except he by the mouth of his Spirit, speake peace vnto their Soules, they will still feare, that they are out of grace and fauour with God: Any fancie or conceit is sufficient to perswade wicked men, that they are in grace and at peace with God: yea those ordinarily are most conceited of it, that are furthest from it. But the Apostles wish here, is the wish of euery true Christian, that they may haue it from God the Father, and from Iesus Christ, as it [Page 14] were vnder their hand and seale. But when may a Christian be said, to receiue grace and peace from God &c? When the Spirit of God in the due vse of Gods holy ordinances, doth seale and confirme the same to the soule and conscience of an hum­bled sinner, that groneth vnder the burthen of his sinnes. Then doth the Grace and Peace of God, come vnto thee from God, when the Spirit of God testifies vnto thy spirit, in the word, in the Sacraments, in the Church, in the Ministerie &c, that thou art in grace and fauour with him.

VERS. 3. We ought to thanke God alwaies for you brethren, as it is meet—’

THe third part of this Epistle (beginning here & reaching to the end of the Chapter) is spent in Consolation: wherein the Apo­stle labours to hearten and incourage them against the troubles and persecutions which they suffe­red for their profession, thereby the more to strengthen and confirme them in the faith of Iesus Christ. This method is vsually obserued in all letters, when men write to them that are in any trouble or affliction, after they haue saluted them, and before they write of other matters vnto them, to comfort them. By the way, before we come to particulars, we may obserue one speciall reason, why he wisheth vnto this Church, Grace and Peace from God the Father, and from Iesus Christ; because for God the Father and for Iesus Christs sake, they had lost all grace and fauour and [Page 15] peace with men: so that the more disgrace, and the lesse peace, that Christians haue with men, for the profession of Iesus Christ, the more grace and peace they may expect from God. For that which vpon this ground the Spirit of God doth wish vn­to a man, it will effect: The more then that men for Gods cause doe disgrace vs, and warre with vs, the more God shewes his grace and fauour vnto vs.

The first meanes he vseth to comfort them by, is by praising and commending them for those graces, which in these their trouhles and persecu­tions they did manifest to be in them. vers. 3, 4. wherein in his owne name, and in the name of Timothie and Silvanus, he first vnfainedly acknow­ledgeth, that for their sakes, they were bound to giue thanks vnto God as long as they liue. What a glory was this vnto this Church, that these three Worthies should professe and acknowledge thus much vnto them?

Our lessons hence are these.

1. That if we behaue our selues in the house and Church of God as we ought to doe, we shall binde all Christians, yea the Prophets and Apo­stles, and all the Saints of heauen vnto vs. They shall be indebted vnto God for vs, and shall esteeme themselues bound for euer to praise and magnifie his name for vs. And let vs neuer thinke we haue demeaned our selues as we ought to doe in Gods Church, vntill we haue giuen iust cause to all the godly that knowes vs, especially to our Pastors and Ministers, to praise and blesse God for [Page 16] vs, and to esteeme themselues eternally indebted vnto God for our sakes. But alas, most of vs doe so behaue our selues in Gods Church, that we giue our Ministers, and all religious people, cause rather to mourne before the Lord, and to complaine vnto him of vs.

2. Let vs from Pauls example, of how great note and worth so euer we be in Gods Church, learne to esteeme Gods graces in others, as bles­sings vpon our selues, and to haue such interest in the fruit of them, as to thinke our selues bound and indebted vnto God, in all thankfulnes for them, as if we our selues had a title to and an inte­rest in them. There was not the poorest Christian in Thessalonica, but Paul himselfe did thinke him­selfe the better for that Grace that was in him. We are all members of one mysticall bodie; the grace of one member is the honor of another; and it is a signe that that man doth not esteeme his brother a fellow-member of the same bodie with him, that counts his brothers Graces, disgraces vnto him, as though his owne graces were eclipsed and lost their lustre through the brightnes of anothers. We know that the comelinesse of the hand or foote, doth not eclipse, but rather adde beauty to the beauty of the face. If therefore we iudge our brethren members of the same mysticall bodie of Christ with vs, we cannot but esteeme their graces a grace vnto vs, and that our selues (how bright soeuer) do shine so much the more by the beames of their graces; and therefore we are bound in a bond of debt vnto God for them, as Paul here [Page 17] acknowledgeth. But we are most of vs so far from this, that we hardly thinke our selues bound to giue God thanks, for those gifts and graces that are in our selues, we so seldome, so coldly, so slightly and negligently performe this dutie. And as for the graces of others, we are (the Lord be mercifull vnto vs for the same) of this disposition, rather to murmure, grudge and repine against God for them, as though the more he bestowed his gra­ces vpon them, the more he did wrong and dis­grace vs.

‘Because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the loue of euery one of you one towards an­other aboundeth.’

This is the reason why Paul, Silvanus &c, ac­knowledge themselues bound to be thankfull vn­to God, as is aforesaid; wherein is expressed the speciall matter and argument of their praise: Their exceeding growth and increase in faith and loue, whereby he meanes all religious duties to God and man, required either in the Law or Go­spell. They shewed euery day more and more zeale to Gods glory, in making more and more conscience of the Ordinances of God; they shewed greater and greater delight in the word, the Sacraments, the Sabboth, the Ministerie, Prayer; they daily more and more grew in know­ledge, and manifested more and more the signes and tokens of Repentance; and ouer and be­sides this, they were euery day more and more [Page 18] kinde, louing and free-hearted one to another, one striuing to goe before another, not in the duties of Pietie and Religion only, but also in louing kindnesse, humilitie, liberalitie, fidelitie, curtesie, iustice &c: from such fruits as these doth the Apostle gather, the increase and growth of their Faith and Loue. For as Faith and Loue are seene vnto men onely, by the works that proceed there­from; so the growth and increase of them, is seene by the growth and increase of works. Neuer tell me that any groweth in Faith and Loue, but he that groweth and increaseth in the aforesaid du­ties towards God and his Neighbour.

The words whereby the Apostle noteth this growth, signifie to ouer-increase and super-abound; not that their Faith and Loue did swell and flow ouer those banks which God in the Law and Go­spell prescribed vnto them; for that neither was possible, nor praise-worthy, (as we shall haue more occasion to speake afterward): but his meaning was, that it exceeded the expectation of man, and they went further then man could re­quire at their hands, though they came short of that which God requireth.

1 From the Persons thus praised, and the matter of their praise considered togither, we are to learne,

1. That the praise and glory of a Church or Christian, doth not lie onely in this, in being al­waies the same, but in growing and proceeding from grace to grace. Those sciences are not com­mendable that grow not in the stocke wherein [Page 19] they are graffed, but stand at a stay. The Graces of God are not dead, but liuing plants; if they take roote in thy heart, they will grow and increase; if thy faith and loue doe not grow and increase in thee, they are dead, they neuer tooke any root in thee: though for a time thou maist haue some re­spect in Gods Church for the same, yet the end will be shame and dishonor, and thou discouered to be an hypocrite, when thy Faith and Loue ap­peare to be more and more withered, as it will, if it doe not more and more grow and flourish. I would to God (beloued) we had our portion in this praise; I would to God, your Minister could thanke the Lord for you in this respect: but the Lord knowes, and all our Consciences tell vs, we are far from this praise. It were well in compari­son with vs, if we did retaine our first Faith and Loue; but it is to be feared, that with the Ephesi­ans we haue lost that, so far are we from growing from faith to faith, and from loue to loue with these Thessalonians.

2. This is the singular praise of this and all other Churches, that their Loue one towards an­other groweth with their Faith; the more fai [...]h in God, the more loue towards our Neighbour. Shew me the growth of thy faith by the growth of thy loue. It is as possible for a fire to increase without the increase of heat, as for faith to increase without the increase of loue. The faith and pro­fession of those men therefore is but Pharesaisme and hypocrisie, which manifests it selfe in the dis­daine and contempt of their brethren. There are [Page 20] therefore no greater enimies in the world, to loue and vnitie amongst brethren, then those that are enimies to the growth of Faith and Religion, and all the powerfull and effectuall meanes thereof. For such as a mans Faith and Religion is, such is his Loue, for quantitie, for qualitie; no true faith, no true loue; an vnsound faith, an vnsound loue; a ceremoniall faith, a ceremoniall loue; a sincere faith, a sincere loue; much faith, much loue; an hypocriticall faith, a dissembling loue.

3. In faith and loue we should not thinke it inough, to stint and moderate them according to that measure and rule onely that man may expect and exact at our hands; but we must striue to ex­ceed that, and according to the patterne of this Church labour therein to go beyond the expecta­tion and imagination of men. But where are such Churches and Christians now to be found? It were well for vs in comparison of that we are, that we were but answerable to the expectations of men; or that we were proceeded but so farre in faith and loue, as man might iustly require and ex­act at our hands; but the Lord knowes we are far wanting euen of that.

2 From the Persons praising we may learne,

To giue God the praise and thanks, not onely for Faith and Loue, but also for the growth and increase of them, whether in our selues or others. Its he that deserues the thanks for it more then any else. Though God tie vs to be thankfull to men, when we reap the fruits of their faith & loue, [Page 21] yet in comparison, its no thanks to them; it is Gods worke in them. Otherwise the most religi­ous and louing men that euer were, if God should leaue them to their owne natures, would quickly shew themselues monsters of impietie and malice, and the Wolues and Beares of the Forrest would as soone merit thanks at our hands as they: in such cases therefore to be thankfull to men for the fruits that we reape of their faith and loue, and to forget God, is to make them the authors of their owne grace, and so to giue that honour to them, which is due to God, an Idolatry too vsuall in these times. And yet we are not to whisper this thanks in Gods eare onely, but we are to professe and acknowledge it, as much as conueniently we may, euen to them that it concernes, to the end we might the more hearten and incourage them there­in. And this no doubt is one cause, why so many faint and languish in faith and loue (especi­ally in time of persecution) for that there is so litle incouragement of this kinde amongst Chri­stians: we passe by the Graces of our brethren, as though they were not worthy to be regarded, or any notice to be taken of them. And if it be our dutie to [...]cknowledge our thankfulnes to God for the Graces of our brethren, the immediate fruits whereof doe not so directly concerne vs, as others, (for Paul speaks not of their loue to him, but one towards another,) how much more is it our dutie, to doe it, when we our selues in our owne persons, shall immediately reap the fruits of our brothers faith and loue, when his loue [Page 22] shall directly and manifestly in a speciall manner grow and increase towards vs.

VERS. 4. So that we our selues glory of you in the Churches of God,—’

HE amplifies their former praise, That such was the growth and increase of their Faith and Loue, that he moreouer boasted and gloried of them in the Churches of God. How could this but won­derfully incourage them, to be constant to the end, to consider that their praises, were not onely talked of, but gloried in, and that in no base and profane Conventicles, but in the holy Churches, and Assemblies of God: not by any ordinarie or common Persons in Gods Church, but by Paul, Silvanus, and Timothie themselues, the great and most famous trumpets of Iesus Christ. Who would make the boastings of such Persons in vaine? Who would not by all possible meanes vphold and maintaine such an honour? Who would not in the midst of any troubles and mise­ries whatsoeuer, reioyce and glory in such a fame sounded vpon such siluer Trumpets, in such fa­mous Assemblies?

Let vs then (Beloued) learne, to emulate the glory of this Church; let vs striue after such a profession of Faith, and practise of Loue, that the worthiest in the Churches of Christ, may be pro­uoked to boast and glory of vs, in all the Assemblies of the faithfull: let vs esteeme this the grea­test honour that may be, that Paul should glory [Page 23] in vs, and the Churches of God should ring of our praises; we neede not then care though all the men in the Earth, and all the Deuils in Hell, doe barke and baule against vs: far be it from vs, to forgo any part of this honour, to stop the mouthes of any hell-hounds whatsoeuer, much more for the purchasing of honour in their mouthes, to giue any cause, that the Churches of God, should speake or heare dishonourably of vs. And though there be now no Pauls in Gods Church, to giue vs such incouragements; yet let not this euer-the-lesse discourage vs, to tread in the steps of this Church: for if we be like them, God can and will, by some meanes or other, make our names as glorious in the Churches of God, as if Paul himself were liuing, and went from Church to Church, to glory and reioyce in vs. But alas (beloued) when we shall compare our selues with this Church, can we thinke that Paul, if he were aliue, would boast of vs, in all the Churches where he should come? Would he not rather, conside­ring the coldnes of some of vs, and the contempt of Religion in other some, in the midst of many meanes, speake of vs in the Churches of God, with shame and sorrow of heart? Doe not most of vs so behaue our selues in Gods Church, that we rather deserue to be boasted and gloried of in Ale-houses and Tauernes, and in profane Stages and Theatres, then in the holy Churches of God? Doe we not most of vs so liue, as if we affected, that Minstrills, Stage-players, Ale-house-knights, and the rest of the rascalitie should glory and boast [Page 24] of vs, rather then the Apostles, Euangelists, and Ministers of Iesus Christ? rather then Paul, Sil­vanus, and Timothie?

Let vs in the second place learne of Paul, how to comfort and incourage those Churches and Christians whom we see to grow and increase in Grace: let vs not onely acknowledge and professe our selues bound, to thanke God for them al­waies, but let vs honour their names in all holy meetings and assemblies, that they may see they are respected and honoured for their Faith, and other graces of God: and be we in neuer so high place in Gods Church, let vs account the faith and loue of others, our owne crowne and glory; let vs boast of it, and glory in it, in all the holy meetings and assemblies of Gods Saints, and striue that the eyes of all Gods Churches, may be fixed vpon them, and their tongues speake of their praises. This is a powerfull and most effectuall meanes to strengthen and confirme them, in the graces of God against all temptations and discou­ragements whatsoeuer. The neglect of this dutie hath bin no doubt, a speciall meanes, that so ma­ny in time of tryall, haue shrunke and fallen from the Faith. It is indeed a weaknes in Christians, to stand in neede of such incouragements; they ought to be so grounded in that Faith which they do professe, that though all the world should dis­grace, and dishonour them for it: yea though they which haue taught and instructed them therein, should discourage them from it, yet they ought constantly, to cleaue vnto the same. But seeing [Page 25] that the humane frailtie of Christians, needs such props as these, especially in time of persecution, we shall be guilty of one anothers fall, if we doe not by such meanes labor to support one another. But far are such from this Apostles Spirit, who are so far from boasting, and glorying, either in those Churches or Persons that grow and in­crease in the graces of God, that of all other they most despight, and disgrace them, in all the as­semblies and meetings where they open their mouthes.

‘— Because of your patience and faith in all your per­secutions and tribulations which you suffer.’

This is the speciall matter of Pauls glorying and reioycing. The faith and patience which they manifested in all their persecutions and tribulations: By which it appeares, that this Church was at this time very much afflicted and persecuted, and that the scope of the Apostles praise, in this and the former verse, is to comfort them in the same, and thereby to strengthen them, that they may perse­uere, (as I haue said before,) in the grace receiued. He testifieth therefore, that he doth not onely esteeme himselfe bound, to be alwayes thankfull vnto God for them, in regard of their exceeding growth and increase in faith and loue, but also that in the same regard, he glorieth and boasteth of them, in the Churches of God, especially for this, that in the midst of so many persecutions and [Page 26] troubles that they sustained, they shewed so much patience and faith.

Faith then and Patience in persecution and tri­bulation, is the greatest glory of a Christian. They that in the midst of many iniuries and wrongs, dis­graces, losse of goods, libertie, hazard of life, &c, for Christs sake, can still notwithstanding by faith apprehend Gods goodnesse and loue towards them, conceiuing neuer the lesse hope in God, bearing neuer the lesse affection, but rather the more to that Faith and Religion for which they suffer, neuer shewing the least repentance for their profession, how much soeuer they suffer for the same, neither murmuring nor repining against God therefore, nor breaking forth through impa­tience, into any breach of dutie towards God or man. They which haue growne to such an height of Grace, shall be honorable in the Churches of God in a high degree, for their profession. But dishonorable is that profession, and not worthy to be named with any respect or honour in Gods Churches, that in peace and prosperitie maketh some shew and flourish, but when persecution commeth shrinks in the wetting.

The Apostle ioyneth Patience and Faith togi­ther, neither can they be sundred in time of per­secution, but the one sheweth it selfe in the other: where there is impatiencie in suffring, there ap­peares no faith but infidelitie: Faith makes Pati­ence, Patience manifests Faith. Neuer say thou beleeuest in Christ, if thou canst not shew thy be­leefe in patient suffering for Christ: at least neuer [Page 27] looke that thou shouldst be praised, and gloried of in the Churches of God for thy Faith, vntill it shine and shew forth it selfe in thy Patience. The glory of a Christians faith, doth not consist so much in beating downe and resisting the enemies of Christ, as in a meeke and willing suffering of wrong and euill. If thou suffer neuer so much for Christs sake and the Gospell, though thou shouldst giue thy bodie to be burned for the same, yet if thou do it not patiently but perforce, thou maist be pittied, but neuer looke to be praised for it in the Churches of God. Those sufferings only are celebrated there, wherein a man may liuely be­hold the very face and liuing countenance of Faith in Patience.

VERS. 5. Which is a token of the righteous iudge­ment of God, that yee may be counted worthy of the kingdome of God, for which yee also suffer.’

HItherto of the first part of their consolation, wherein the Apostle taketh notice of their persecutions and troubles, praising them for the Graces of God manifested therein.

The second part followeth, taken from the happy issue and consequent, which these patient sufferings of theirs did portend. These sufferings (saith he) of yours are an infallible signe or de­monstration of the great day of Iudgment, where­in, the more patiently you haue suffred for the kingdome of God, the more you shall be reputed [Page 28] and declared worthy of that kingdome for which you haue suffred. What an vnspeakable conso­lation would the due consideration of this be vnto all that shall suffer for righteousnes sake: that the more they suffer, the more they may assure them­selues of a day of publique hearing before the Lord, who will thorowly debate all those iniuries and wrongs, that haue bin offred vnto them, and that not in a corner, but in the face of the world, that this iudgement wherein this cause of theirs shall be heard, shall be a righteous iudgement, not corrupted by bribes, and ouer-swaid by partiall affection, but proceeding according to the equitie of the cause, without respect to the qualitie of Persons; that in this iudgment shall be called into question, especially their suffrings for the kingdom of God, and that which they haue indured for righteousnes sake, & in obedience to the Gospell; that in this iudgement the more it shall appeare, that with Patience and Faith, they haue suffred for the kingdome of God, the more they shall be ac­counted and reputed worthy thereof in Iesus Christ, insomuch as they shall with that praise and glory, before the face of their enemies, be put into the eternall possession thereof,Luc. 21.36. as if they had merited and deserued the same by their suffrings, though the greatest suffrings that euer any Chri­stian hath or can indure, are in deed and truth in themselues no wayes worthy that glory which shall be bestowed vpon them. Rom. 8.18. and it being giuen, is an inheritance. Matth. 24.3.4. and therefore not of desert. What an vnspeak­able [Page 29] comfort must this needs be in the midst of all persecutions whatsoeuer, when euery particu­lar wrong and iniurie, which here a man shall in­dure for the kingdome of God, are so many infal­lible signes and demonstrations of this iudgment; so that the more they suffer and indure at the hands of men, and the more the Consistories and Iudgement Seats are shut against them, the more cause they haue to be certaine and assured of this iudgement, and the more to reioyce in it. It would be great consolation vnto a Christian heart, and a meanes of much patience and constancie in suffe­ring, if he might be assured, that his cause should come to indifferent hearing, but before men: yet there is far more cause of comfort in the certaine assurance of this iudgement; and so much the more certaine assurance there is of this, by how much the more vncertaintie, doubt and despaire there is of the other.

But this is no matter of Consolation to them that suffer (though with neuer such patience and confidence) for the fancies and inventions of their owne braines, or the superstitious inventions and traditions of men, which appertaine to the king­dome of Sathan and Antichrist. They which will reap this consolation in their sufferings, must look to this, that they suffer for the kingdom of God, i. for their obedience and subiection vnto the lawes of Christ their Head and King, manifested in his word vnto their soules and consciences.

VERS. 6. For it is iust with God to render in like manner affliction to those which afflict you:
7. And to you which are afflicted, rest with vs —

FOr the further confirmation of them in the aforesaid comfort, he here rendreth a reason, why this Patience and Faith of theirs must needs be a manifest signe of the iust iudgement of God aforesaid; because (saith he) it stands with the iu­stice of God to afflict them, that afflict his seruants, and to giue rest vnto them which are afflicted for his sake, and therefore the more that any do suffer for the kingdome of God, and the more that the wicked preuaile ouer them, the more certaine and infallible signe it is of that great day. So that in this reason he comprehendeth two grounds of the former assertion.

The first is this: That it stands with the equitie and iustice of God, to afflict and punish them, which molest and trouble his children for righte­ousnes sake. God hath stampt in man, who is his owne Image, the print of this iustice. Can a Prince indure, that his Seruant should be abused for do­ing his will and commandement? Will he not take himselfe bound in equitie, so far as his autho­ritie and lawes will stretch, to call them into que­stion that shall abuse him? If he should carelesly suffer the same, would it not be iudged an vniust thing? Hath not the righteous God that care of [Page 31] his Seruants, that an earthly man hath? Is it possi­ble that he that hath written this point of iustice in the brest of man, should neglect it in his owne Person, and suffer his owne Seruants, for obeying his will, to be persecuted and wronged, and that before his owne face, and put it vp? Yet we see that for the most part in this life he doth so. None more free from iudgement and vengeance then they that persecute Gods Seruants, none liue more merily, none dye with more ease. Why then we must of necessitie conclude, that therefore there must come a day of doome wherein they must an­swer it. God must needs be a iust Iudge, and there­fore the fewer iudgements ouertake the enemies of the Gospell in this life, and the more they tri­umph ouer Gods Seruants, the more we must learne to comfort our selues, in being so much the more assured and perswaded of this day of iudge­ment. If there were no other cause to be heard but this, it stands with Gods iustice to heare the same. It would affect and comfort Gods children in their affliction, to behold some present iudge­ment of God or man, vpon them which persecute them; and it much dismayeth them, when they see no hope of helpe either from God or man in this life. But this ought to strengthen and com­fort them so much the more: for this is so much the greater euidence and demonstration, that in this great day of iudgement, the Lord will render affliction to those which trouble his Seruants. This then is the best reuenge, that Christians can exe­cute vpon their persecutors, euen with faith and [Page 32] patience to suffer persecution and affliction at their hands: for the more they suffer, the more they binde the Lord in his iustice, in this day to iudge and reuenge their cause: so that if Christi­ans by dint of sword could subdue all their ene­mies, they haue not therein such iust matter of comfort, as in their patient & faithfull sufferings. The lesse we reuenge, the more hath God in iu­stice, bound himselfe to be auenged of them: and it is great folly to thinke, that we can do our ene­mies more hurt, then God can and will, if we leaue the reuenge vnto him, vnto whom indeed it appertaineth.

The second ground of the former Assertion is this, that as it stands with the iustice of God to punish them that afflict & persecute his seruants; So it stands no lesse with his iustice, to giue vnto his seruants which are troubled and molested, rest and quiet, of which, the lesse hope and assu­rance there is in this life, the more cause there is, to assure themselues of it in another life, and there­fore to expect that day wherein, they shall be put into a full and eternall possession thereof. It is no such comfort to the soule of an afflicted Christi­stian, to be perswaded that God will render vnto the wicked enemies, affliction for affliction, more comfort it would bee vnto them, to see some signes and tokens of their repentance and for­giuenesse. But this is the strength and life of Christian consolation, that the more sorrow and trouble, that they sustaine for Christs sake and his kingdome, the more pledges and demonstrati­ons [Page 33] they haue therein of their owne eternall rest and happinesse; for howbeit our sufferings (as is formerly declared) are farre from meriting any such matter, yet it is iust with God, to giue them rest and quiet, which haue beene content patient­ly to suffer for his sake; no man shall suffer in vaine for Christ, but the more he suffereth (if hee suffer for the kingdome of Christ) the more secu­ritie and assurance hee hath of eternall rest in hea­uen, which all those want, which want that grace; neuer looke thou to enter into this rest, except thou canst with patience and faith indure trouble and disquiet for the kingdome of heauen.

He sheweth what manner of rest this shalbe, by way of comparison, in these words with vs .i. It shall be such a rest and quiet, as is prepared for vs that are Apostles and Euangelists, and such, as to­gether with vs you shall certainely enioy; This must needes increase their consolation exceeding­ly: there are no true Christians, but are perswaded the Apostles and Euangelists shall in this great day be in most happy condition: neither can they desire to be in better estate; wouldst thou then be sure to rest with Paul, Siluanus, Timothie and the rest of the Apostles and Euangelists: thou must learne with patience and in Faith, to suffer perse­cution and tribulation, when the Lord shall call thee thereunto, for that Faith and Religion which thou hast learned of them? for the Lord hath not prepared a higher heauen for them, and a lower for vs, but we shall rest together with them in the same heauen, if together with them we shall suffer [Page 34] in this life, for that kingdome which they in the Gospell haue called vs vnto.

—When the Lord Iesus shall bee manifest from hea­uen, with his mightie Angels.
8. In flaming fire—

That the consideration of the day of doome (the manifest signes whereof they were to behold in their patient induring of persecution) might the more comfort them, and strengthen them in their troubles. The Apostle concludeth this se­cond part of their consolation, with a digression into a description of that day of iudgement, euery part whereof containeth great matter of comfort to all the afflicted and persecuted seruants of God, and no lesse matter of feare and horror to all their enemies, if they had grace to apprehend the same.

The first part of the description declareth who shall be the Iudge: euen our Lord Iesus himselfe in his owne Person, euen he who loued his Ser­uants so dearely, that he gaue his life for them, yea did vndergo his Fathers wrath for them, which was for the time a Hell of Hells vnto him: and therefore the more gracious, and louing and mer­cifull, he hath shewed himselfe vnto them, the more mercilesse and cruell, will he in this iudge­ment shew himselfe vnto their aduersaries. Whom could the afflicted Seruants of Christ more desire to sit in iudgement, then their owne deare Saui­our, for whose sake they haue suffered so many [Page 35] indignities? Whom can the enemies of the Go­spell more feare, then him whom in his Seruants they haue most dishonoured and despighted? No doubt but in this day, they would rather choose any, to be their Iudge then Christ: yea, they would hope for more fauour and mercy from the Diuels themselues, then from him. Let vs then (if euer the Lord shall exercise vs in the same manner) comfort our selues in this, That Christ himselfe will in his owne Person, in this day, come to iudge the cause betwixt vs and our enemies. It were great matter of consolation, if we were assured but of this, That Christ would raise vp some iust man vpon earth to doe it; or send a Saint, or an Angell from heauen for that purpose; but this must needs be an exceeding comfort, That Christ in his owne Person will come to sit in iudgement vpon our aduersaries, and will not put the matter ouer to Vnder-Commissioners. Let vs then take heede, lest in our sufferings for Christs sake, we breake not out through impatiencie or distrust, in­to any sinne against Christ: for this is the greatest aduantage that we can giue to our aduersaries, and a signe that we doe not so much suffer, (how iust soeuer the cause be) for Christs sake, as for our owne fancie: for how can that man say, that he suffereth for Christs sake, when in his suffring for his sake, he will not for his sake forbeare such and such sinnes which Christ forbids? Can he in his suffrings comfort himselfe in the consideration of this iudgement, when in and by occasion of those sufferings he rebels against the Iudge?

[Page 36]The second part of the description of the latter day followeth, wherein is set forth the glorious manner of Christs comming to iudgement, consi­sting of three parts.

First, he shall manifest himselfe from heauen: i. shall appeare to the eyes and senses not onely of the godly, but the wicked, and they with these eyes of theirs shall behold him comming from the highest heauens, in that maiestie and glory, wherein he now sitteth at the right hand of his Father, and not in that base and contemptible estate, wherein he first shewed himselfe, when he tooke our nature vpon him. So that Christ will sit visibly in iudgement in this day, and that in all the sensible glory that may be: he shall then shew himselfe in all his maiestie to euery mortall eye: then shall the godly behold and see, that their trust and confidence in him, in the midst of all their greatest afflictions, was not in vaine: they shall then haue cause to triumph and glory, that they haue (though through many reproches and con­tempts) serued so honorable and glorious a Lord. How then shall the wicked enemies of Christ hang downe their heads, that haue scorned and disdained his Seruants, as if they had serued some base and contemptible Master? Verily so vile and base is the seruice of Christ in the eyes of some, (yea and of some that would be reputed Christi­ans) that it were lesse disgrace for a man (in their eyes) to serue a hangman, then to serue Iesus Christ. Iudge you how such will looke, and what they will thinke, when they shall behold Christ [Page 37] comming from heauen, and reuealing himselfe in all his maiestie and glory, and that to sit in iudge­ment vpon them? Let this then be our comfort in all our tribulations, that howsoeuer Christ now haue the heauens drawne as a curtaine, or vaile be­tweene our eyes and him, which is the cause that makes the enemies of his Gospell, so bold and sawcie with his Seruants, yet that the more he hides himselfe now from the eyes of persecutors and wicked men, the more gloriously he will ma­nifest and reueale himselfe vnto them in this day, to the greater glory of his humbled Seruants, and the greater shame and confusion of all their enemies.

The second degree of his glory, consists in the traine that shall accompanie and assist him in this iudgement; All the mighty and powerfull An­gels of Heauen: These shall be present as so many Sargeants, Bayliffs, Officers at Armes, She­riffs and Executioners in this great Assise. If there­fore it be so terrible to guilty prisoners, to behold an earthly Iudge in his scarlet robes, attended vp­on with the Iustices, Sheriff, and other Officers of Peace, how fearefull and terrible will the sight of this Iudge be, manifesting himself from heauen with such a mighty host and glorious armie of Angels? If the appearance but of one Angell, and that in peace, hath bin so terrible, euen vnto Gods owne children, as appeares Luc. 2.10. & 1.30. Iudg. 13.6. how terrible shall the appearance of all the Angels in Heauen be vnto the wicked in this day, when they shall come with Christ from [Page 38] heauen to be executioners of his eternall venge­ance vpon them? For their Office at this time, is set downe in the Parable of the tares. Mat. 13.41. It is not then possible for them to auoide the pre­sence of this Iudge, but they must needs appeare before him, where there are such Officers, as these, to apprehend and attache them: though they should run into the clefts and hollowes of the rocks, or could cause the mountaines and hills to couer them, these Angels could pull them out: though they had wings like to an Eagle to flie a­way from this iudgement, these winged Cheru­bims would ouer-flie them: though all the wick­ed should conspire and band themselues, as it were one man to resist the proceedings of this Iudge, there is not the weakest of this heauenly armie, but will be found strong enough to binde them hands and feet in chaines & fetters of yron: and therefore the Apostle calls them, powerfull Angels; how truly see 2. King. 19.35. Act. 12.23. What an incouragement then would the conside­ration of this be vnto any that are vnder persecu­tion for the kingdome of God, if they had grace but to beleeue this? If poore men suffring wrongs at the hands of great men that liue amongst them, could be assured of this, that the King himselfe taketh notice of those wrongs that are offred vnto them, and will without faile vpon such a day come in his owne Person, with all the Court and Coun­cell, Iudges and Officers of State, to call the mat­ter into question, and to sit in iudgement vpon the same, would they not thinke themselues happy, [Page 39] yea and the more wrongs they haue sustained, the more happy, in regard that the more they haue indured, the better they are sure it will be for them, and the worse for their enemies? What infidelitie then is this, that we should haue so sure and cer­taine a word of Christs owne comming, and of his comming accompanied with all the glorious and powerfull traine of heauenly Angels, to sit in iudgement vpon them which shall persecute vs, and to giue rest eternall vnto vs, euen in regard of our troubles, and yet we should murmure, repine, fret, greeue, yea and basely often denie and forsake the cause of Christ, rather then suffer for it? Is it possible (beloued) that any Christian that is per­swaded of this truth, and thinks of it seriously, should be daunted or disquieted, or put out of any of Gods wayes, for the persecution of wicked men, be they neuer so mighty, and neuer such po­liticke aduersaries, and be they able to set neuer so great a glosse vpon their proceedings? It is to be feared (beloued) that many from time to time, which seeme to be most forward in the profession of the Gospell, that thinke this glorious comming of Christ with his mighty Angels, to the end and purpose here expressed, to be no better then some old wiues fable: otherwise it were not possible, that euery feare of trouble & molestation should make so many start aside like a broken bowe, from the profession or practise of that truth which for­merly they haue giuen testimonie vnto, but it would rather make them so much the more reso­lute and confident in the same, by how much the [Page 40] more trouble they shall see to pursue the same, or any part thereof.

The third degree of his glorious comming is in the manner thereof, which shall be most feare­full and terrible, euen in flaming fire, which shew­eth the extremitie of his wrath, against them which he shall come to sit in iudgement against; they are not in iest that fling fire-brands: terrible euen to Gods owne people was his giuing of the Law in thunder & lightning; but a thousand thousand times more terrible will his comming in this fire be, vnto the wicked transgressors of that Law. To haue bin in Sodom and Gomorrah, when fire and brimstone fell downe from heauen vpon them, Gen. 19, could not be so terrible as this must be vnto those wicked men, that shall stand vpon the earth in that day, and behold this comming of his, who would then if they might be put vnto it, choose rather to leape into burning Aetna, then stand in this presence. Let the consideration of this make vs to run, euen through fire and water, rather then displease this Iudge. Let vs, the more fiery trialls and persecutions that wee shall in­dure for this Iudges sake, the more rejoyce in the expectation of this his comming, and be ar­med against the terror of it. Let no flame kindled by the wrath of any man, make vs doe any thing that may prouoke this irefull Iudge.

‘—Rendring vengeance vnto them, that doe not know God, and which obey not the Gospell of our Lord Iesus Christ.’

The third part of the description of the latter day of doome followeth, wherein is set downe the end of Christs glorious comming in manner and forme aforesaid, to iudgement: which is twofold.

  • 1. To render vengeance, or to be reuenged vpon some.
  • 2. To be in a speciall manner glorified vpon other some.

The first act then and end of Christs comming in flaming fire, is to be reuenged vpon some sort of Persons .i. in that manner to proceed in iudge­ment against them, that those men vse to doe which are possessed with a furious and reuenging Spirit, euen with all rigor and extremitie, to seeke their mischiefe and vtter ruine. For it is the nature of reuenging mindes, to seeke onely the hurt and euill of those which haue prouoked them: and the greater and more powerfull they are, the more fearefull will the vengeance be which they shall inflict. The wrath of a King (saith Solomon) is as messengers of death,Pro. 16.14. & 19.12. and like the roaring of a Lyon; what then is the wrath of the King of Kings, the Lyon of the Tribe of Iudah? Verily if a man were naked in the wildernesse, and all the Lyons, Lyonesses, and their whelps roaring about him ready to teare him in thousands of peeces, [Page 42] it were not so fearefull, nor so much euillnes to be expected, as when this lyon shall roare vpon him, and come in such a fierce and furious manner to be auenged of him; and the more terrible the auenger shewes himselfe to be, the greater venge­ance is feared, and the lesse hope of mercy. If we see one come gnashing his teeth at one, and with a furious rage running at him with a naked sword, we presume that the vengeance that this man in­tends to execute, is no lesse then death, and that the blood of the partie can only quench the flame of his wrath; what then will quench the wrath of this Person, who comes in flaming fire from heauen, with all the powerfull armies of glorious Angels, to be auenged of all his enemies. If the least offendor had 10000 hearts, it were not the blood of them all could quench the fire of this auengers rage against him: If it were possible for him then to weepe a Sea of teares, yet there would be no hope thereby to mitigate the wrath of this auenger, or to moue him to relent, when he shall come in such a manner as this, to render venge­ance: then shall the chamber dore be shut, and it will be too late for the foolish Virgins to cry, Lord, Lord, open to vs. Mat. 25.11, 12.

Hence then we are to note.

That howsoeuer in this life the Lord shewes himselfe a miracle of patience, suffering infinite and innumerable indignities and dishonors to be offred, both to himselfe and his seruants, and howsoeuer the wicked enemies of his Church and Gospell, do no more feare his threats in the word, [Page 43] then the arrow that a scarcrow threatens to shoot, yet when this day shall come, they shall finde it ve­rified in him, That patience wounded, becomes furie: Seneca. so that the more he hath indured and suffred at their hands in this life, the more wrath and furie shall breake forth against them in this day. This then is the day of the Lords wrath and vengeance, and this is it that Gods children are to expect, and to rest in hope of. They are not to hope & expect, that God will in this world be auenged of their enemies, seeme they neuer so desperate▪ and incu­rable: but thus ought euery good Christian to stand affected towards their persecutors and wick­edst enemies, to desire their repentance in this life, and to rest satisfied with that vengeance, that this Iudge will be sure (if they repent not) in that day to render vnto them. And surely they doe not beleeue the truth of this Gospel as they ought to do, that are their owne auengers, and will not waite this day of the Lord; for if they did not ei­ther thinke, that Christ will not at all reuenge their wrongs, or that he will not do it so thorowly and effectually, as their enemies deserue, or that themselues were more wise and able to auenge their cause then Christ, they would not be so hastie and headie as they are, in reuenging their owne wrongs. But such must know, that the lesse pa­tience and faith they haue shewed in those perse­cutions and wrongs, which haue bin offred vnto them, and the more they haue broken forth into reuenge of their owne quarrels, the more they haue cut off from themselues the comfort of this [Page 44] doctrine: for in so doing, they haue done so much as lies in them, to preuent the Lords vengeance vpon their enimies, and to pull it vpon their owne heads in this day, insomuch as they haue more cause to feare, that the Lord will come in flaming fire to be auenged of them, rather then their eni­mies, seeing they in reuenging themselues vpon their enimies contrary to Gods will, haue them­selues as much prouoked God, as their enimies haue in wronging them; so that thou canst not doe thine enimie a greater pleasure, then to auenge thy selfe vpon him: for though thou maist in this day see the Lord auenged of him, for the wrongs he hath done thee, yet what comfort will that be to thee, when thou hast cause to feare, that thine enimie also shall see the Lord auenged vpon thee, for reuenging thy selfe vpon him. If Christians in their hot, and vnchristian blood, would but medi­tate of this, it could not but be a strong bridle and curbe vnto many violent and outragious distem­pers, that they vse to breake forth into, in the wrongs and iniuries, that are offred vnto them, wherein commonly (through the iust iudgement of God) they often discouer the very same corru­ption and wickednes, which they reuenge in their enimie, to be in a greater measure in themselues, and in the same kinde in a higher degree, do sinne both against God and their enimie. Is any thing more common, then for men and women, yea Christians, yea speciall professors of the Gospell, in reuenging the pride, the malice, the disdaine, the contumelious speeches, furious acts and deeds of [Page 45] others, to discouer greater pride, malice, disdaine, contumelie and furie in their owne words and deeds? What? Can such comfort themselues, in the consideration of this comming of Christ to render vengeance, to them that haue wronged them, when themselues by this occasion haue shewed themselues, as deep offenders against God and their enimie in the same sin? Such onely then can reap comfort to themselues, in Christs com­ming to render vengeance, vnto whom that praise is due, which the Apostle here giues to these Thessalonians. i. Such as manifest patience and faith in all their persecutions and afflictions. And if those can haue no comfort herein, which shall through impatiencie and infidelitie reuenge eui­dent wrongs and iniuries; what comfort can they haue, that reuenge themselues vpon their neigh­bours for imaginarie and conceited wrongs, for doing no more then they may do, yea many times for doing that which they ought to do, and which they should haue answered to God if they had not done.

This vengeance is set forth and declared more specially.

  • 1. By the Subiect.
  • 2. By the Matter.
  • 3. By the Place.

The Subiect of this vengeance are the Persons vpon whom the Lord will execute the same in that day; and they are such as know not God, or such as obey not the Gospell of our Lord Iesus. Con­cerning the first: God is in himselfe of an infinite [Page 46] and incomprehensible maiestie, and therefore can­not perfectly be knowne of Men or Angels. See to this end 1 King. 8.27. Iob 11.7. Exod. 33.20. Ioh. 1.18. & 5.37. & 6.46. yet he hath in some degree manifested and made knowne himselfe in his workes, wherein men if they were not more brutish then horse or mule, might clearely behold and see, That God is an infinite maiestie, almighty, all-sufficient, the Creator and supreme Gouernour of the whole world, him, in and through whom they liue and breath and haue their being, the author and fountaine of all goodnesse, most worthy of all honor, obedience, and loue: That he is a God that loueth Religion, truth, hone­stie, humilitie, iustice, mercy, charitie, loyaltie, chastitie, sobrietie, and such like other vertues in men, and will blesse men for the same: That he hateth and detesteth in men, all profanesse, falshood, dishonestie, pride, iniustice, crueltie, oppression, disloyaltie, vncleanesse, drunkenesse, and such like vices, and will curse all them that are giuen vnto them: And that he hath proui­ded Heauen, a place of euerlasting happinesse, for those that shall doe his will; and Hell, a place of euerlasting torment, for them which shall offend him. To omit many other mat­ters concerning God, which are clearely re­uealed in his workes, euen to the senses of men that haue the vse of reason, and do not wilfully shut their eyes against the light: what sauage and brute creatures are all those, that in the midst of these meanes, haue no knowledge of God at all? [Page 47] That this God should be as a stranger vnto them, yea as one that they had neuer heard of; that they should haue no sense or apprehension of his Ma­iestie, Power, and goodnesse, when all their senses are daily and hourely filled with the same; that they should liue and delight in those sinnes, which the very light of their Consciences tell them are displeasing to God, and yet be no more afraid of God therefore, then of a painted Beare or Lyon. Were not that a strange childe, that being brought vp from a tender one in the house of his Parents, being fed and clothed by them, and euer receiuing from them all the kindnesses that Parents can yeeld vnto a Childe, and yet this Childe should not so much as know them, or looke vpon them, but demeane himselfe vnto them, as vnto meere strangers, such as he had neuer seene nor heard of, passing by them without so much, as looking to­wards them, respecting the seruants and dogges in the house more then them, delighting most in that which he knoweth will vex and anger them, ha­ting their presence, and no more affected with any good receiued from them, then with a straw or rush; what a monster of children would euery one iudge this to be? Wert thou the Father or Mother of such a Childe, what wouldst thou do? Verily, such children are most of vs vnto our God. We liue in this world, which is the house of our God, yea in his Church, which is his Presence-chamber, no earthly Father can possibly shew more kindnesse to his Childe, then our heauenly Father doth vnto vs, nor can so much by his [Page 48] kindnes manifest himselfe to be a Father as God doth vnto vs, and vnto all mankind: and yet for all this, we liue as though we knew him not, we neuer looke after him nor regard him, we are no more delighted with his presence, affected with his kindnesse, nor more studious to please him, no more fearefull to displease him, then if he were no bodie, or worse then the worst of all creatures, as if he were one that we neuer receiued, nor expe­cted the least good at his hands, or one that we would not be any wayes beholden vnto though we might; the more he offers vs meanes to know his Maiestie, Power, Goodnes, the more we shut our eyes against them, pleasing and delighting our selues in our ignorance, as a matter of great ad­uantage vnto vs. This is the condition and estate of the greater part of the world, if you looke into their liues and conuersations, they are as it were without God in the world, as men that had not the least sense or apprehension of a God,Ephes. 2.12. or had neuer heard of him, or that all that they had heard of him were but fables. Is it any maruell then, if the Lord hauing shewed himselfe so kinde and louing a Fa­ther vnto all mankind, shall be seuerely auenged of such, as in the midst of so many meanes will not know him? Oh let the consideration of this moue euery one of vs, to bewaile our ignorance, and to seeke after the knowledge of God aboue all things. For if we will not know him in his goodnesse in this life, we shall feele him in his wrath in another life. Ignorance of God in this day of Doome will be no plea for vs; for it shall [Page 49] be one of the Articles of condemnation against vs, that we know not God.

The second sort of Persons, that Christ will come in flaming fire to be auenged of, are such as obey not his Gospell. i. such as will not accept of those conditions of Saluation that are offred in the Gospell. In the Gospell euerlasting Saluation is offred to all sinners, that will beleeue in Christ, forsake their sinnes, and yeeld obedience to the Ordinances of Iesus Christ, set downe in the wri­tings of the Prophets and Apostles; when there­fore, God shall out of his word, conuince our consciences that we are sinners, and haue offen­ded his Maiestie by our sinnes, and when God shall offer to be reconciled vnto vs, to pardon and forgiue our sinnes, to saue our soules from Hell, yea to bestow euerlasting happinesse in Heauen vpon vs, if so be we will forsake our sins, acknow­ledge Christ Iesus, for our Lord and Redeemer, and be subiect to his discipline; when God shall send to this end, his Ministers, Messengers, and Embassadors, to offer vnto vs these conditions, yea to intreat and beseech the acceptance of this Grace, and yet we will not accept of them, we will not haue Christ Iesus to raigne and rule ouer vs, we will not (whatsoeuer follow vpon it) forsake such and such sinnes, but whether God will saue, or not saue vs, we are resolued vpon our owne courses, and if we may not be saued without any such conditions, we will not be beholding to God for our Saluation, but will put it to the aduenture, either to haue it vpon what conditions we our [Page 50] selues please, or go without it: this is to disobey the Gospell, and to trample the blood of the new Testament vnder our feet: this is directly to sin against Christ Iesus; and therefore such of vs can expect no other Doome from Christ at that day, but fearfull vengeance. For vpon whom should he auenge himselfe, if not vpon them, which can­not content themselues to haue sinned against God, and so to haue prouoked him, but despise the meanes of his grace and fauour when they are offred, purposing still to continue in their sinnes, whatsoeuer come of it. This is the fearfull sin of many that liue in the Church of God, and pro­fesse themselues Christians, yea and that looke to be saued by the blood of Christ, who notwithstan­ding liue and delight (and so purpose to do) in such sins, as they know are forbidden in the Go­spell: they can be content, yea they looke for that Saluation by Christ, which is promised in the Go­spell, and that the Couenant on Christs part should be performed vnto them, but they are resolued not to keep any Couenant on their owne part. And those for the most part that most disobey the Gospell, and that shew most contempt to the Mi­nisterie and dispensation thereof, and are the grea­test enimies that may be to the principall Ordi­nance thereof, do most presume of that Saluation which therein is offred. But let vs know that it is not a naked profession of the Gospell, or a bare beleefe that can pacifie the wrath of this Iudge in that day, but it must be such a profession and be­leefe, as manifesteth it selfe in obedience vnto the [Page 51] Gospell. If it were possible for a man (as it is not) truly to professe, and vnfainedly beleeue the Go­spell, without obeying of it, yet that shall not saue him, he must obey it also. The Gospell containeth not matter of knowledge and Faith onely, but of practice also: and therefore so many as desire to be free from the vengeance and furie of this Iudge, had need in that regard to be acquainted with the Gospell and all the Ordinances thereof: (for how can they obey that which they know not?) and they had need with all diligence and care to be conuersant in the reading and hearing of the writings of the Euangelists and Apostles, of Moses and the Prophets, for they are they, which testifie of this Gospell, and in them is fully and most clearely declared, what manner of obe­dience is to be performed thereunto: Also the word here translated, to obey, originally signifieth, to hearken vnto, which is when we set our selues diligently to heare a matter, that in our owne esti­mation, much concernes vs to know, either for the procuring of some speciall good vnto vs, or the auoyding of some feared euill, and so it is translated by the best Interpreters, and that nei­ther vnfitly, nor disagreeing in substance from our owne translation. For they can neuer be said to obey the Gospell, that doe not hearken vnto the same, especially when God by his publique Mini­sters, as it were his Embassadors and Heraulds, proclaimes the same in their Assemblies; and they which haue the grace to hearken after the same as they ought to do, cannot but do their best inde­uour, [Page 52] to obey the same. Fearefull then must their estate needs be in this day, that are so far from, ei­ther obeying or hearkning vnto the Gospell, that of all other Persons, they most hate and despise them which are Messengers of the same, as though their feet, yea and their tongues were accursed, that bring them any tidings thereof.

This Gospell is here called the Gospell of our Lord Iesus Christ. It is not (beloued) our owne Gospell which we preach vnto you, and call you vnto the obedience thereof: but it is the Gospell of our Lord and our Sauiour, and that which we must submit and subiect our selues vnto, if we looke for Saluation from him. When the Gospell requireth any thing at your hands, which shall any wayes crosse your corrupt desires, you are pre­sently offended, and incensed against vs, that are the poore Ministers thereof, as if it were our owne Gospell, and the law of our owne will which we propound vnto you. But know you this, whoso­euer you are, that it is Christ Iesus our Sauiour, that in our Persons you are offended withall, and against whom you rebell, in despising that Gospell we teach vnto you: know you also that in your obedience and subiection to that Gospell, which we preach vnto you, you are not subiect and obe­dient vnto vs, but (except you be reprobates) vnto your owne Lord and Sauiour, who requireth onely this obedience at your hands, tying the euer­lasting saluation of your Soules, and the merits of his passion thereunto.

To conclude this point then: Seeing that Christ [Page 53] will come in flaming fire, to be auenged of them that shall not obey his Gospell, let the terror of that fire make vs run through water and fire, ra­ther then disobey the same. And though the Deuill and Antichrist, and all his accursed imps and limmes, should come in flaming fire against vs for obeying this Gospell, yet let vs assure our selues, that it will be more easie for vs a thousand times, to frie in their flames, then to burne in this. The fires that they kindle, do soone go out; and in the greatest heat and sense of them, men haue receiued that comfort, that they haue sung for ioy: but this fire shall neuer be quenched, and he that feeles but the least degree of the heat thereof, is not capable of the least comfort, but in it there shall be euer howling and crying, and gnashing of teeth. And therefore great folly it is, to leap out of the one fire into the other; far greater then if a man, to auoide a showre of raine, should plunge himselfe into a whirlepoole; or for feare of being scalded in a vessell of luke-warme water, should leap into a furnace of boyling lead.

VERS. 9. Which shall be punished with euerlasting perdition —’

HItherto of the Persons, vpon whom Christ will be auenged in this great day. The mat­ter of his vengeance followeth, which is euerla­sting destruction or perdition, that is, the vtter ruine and confusion of the Parties. This is the extremest reuenge, when one seeks after the vtter [Page 54] perdition and ouerthrow of them whom he hates. Many haue indured much euill at the hands of a­uengers, and yet in time haue recouered them­selues againe, and held vp their heads: but he that falls into the hands of this auenger, shall neuer be able to hold vp his head againe: for he breathes after the vtter ruine and ouerthrow of the crea­ture, and he is able to effect the same, and therfore will bring it to passe. And yet if this perdition and destruction were temporarie, if in the same, a man might perish, as the beast doth, it were the lesse: but this is an euerlasting perdition, wherein a man shall be for euer and euer in destroying, and neuer be destroyed; for euer and euer dying, and neuer dead; for euer and euer burning, and neuer bur­ned. What a horrible condition is this? How would this (if we had grace to beleeue it) be as a goade in our sides, to force vs to seeke after the knowledge of God, and to yeeld all possible obe­dience to the Gospell? The feare of hanging, bur­ning &c, (though they be paines that last but a moment in comparison) is powerfull to restraine many a lewd and wicked nature, from murther, theft, treason, witchcraft &c: but alas, if it were possible for a man, to be hanged or burned a thou­sand times one after another, all these deaths would be nothing to this destruction. Doest thou then beleeue the truth of this which the Apostle here affirmeth? If thou do not, thou art no Chri­stian, but a very Infidell: if thou do beleeue it, how comes it to passe that thou seekest no more after the knowledge of God? yea that thou hatest [Page 55] to know God, and affectest to be ignorant of him? How commeth it to passe that thou liuest in diso­bedience of the Gospell, and resoluest so to doe? Though thou couet thy neighbours Oxe and his sheep, yet thou wilt not steale them; though thou malice and hate thy neighbour to the death, yet thou wilt not murther him, because thou perswa­dest thy selfe that thou shalt be hanged for it, if thou do so; and though there may be some possi­bilitie of concealing the matter, or of flying from the Iudge, yet thou wilt not put it to the aduen­ture. Thou saist thou beleeuest, that Christ at the latter day will come in flaming fire, to punish with euerlasting perdition, those which know not God, and which obey not the Gospell of Iesus Christ, and yet thou art ignorant of God, and despisest the Gospell, which plainly manifesteth, that thou esteemest of this which the Apostle here affirmeth, as an old wiues fable, whatsoeuer thou pretendest to the contrary, and therefore that thou art but a masked Infidell. But they that will not beleeue this doctrine, shall one day, to their eternall hor­rour, feele the truth of it. Let so many of vs, as feare the Lord, and tremble at his word, often me­ditate of this: If a man should be condemned to lye for a thousand yeares togither vpon a soft fether-bed, and during all that time should heare nothing, but the sweetest musicke that may be, yet he would choose rather to dye a dogs death, then to indure the wearisomnesse thereof: how shall a man then beare this Iudgement, to lye in the bur­ning lake of Gods wrath, in vnspeakable torment, [Page 56] not for a thousand yeares, but for euer and euer? If an houre in torment seeme a yeare, how long will this houre seeme, that shall neuer haue end? But when a man hath indured it, as many thou­sands of yeares, as there be starres in the heauen, or drops of water in the Sea, yet he shall be no more neere his end, then he was at the very first moment of his torment. Those, that are but com­mon and indifferent wise men amongst vs, vse to dislike and condemne the courses of those mens liues, (how iolly and pleasant soeuer they be in the same) whereby they hazard and ruinate their estates, and follow desperate and break-neck cour­ses, by meanes whereof, their liberties and liues are indangered: oh that any Christians then should be so brutish and without vnderstanding, as to approue either in themselues or others, those wayes and courses, that directly lead a man, bodie and soule to this eternall ruine.

‘— from the presence of the Lord and the glory of his power.’

The third Argument, whereby he amplifieth the reuenge aforesaid, is from the place wherein they which know not God, nor obey the Gospell, shall suffer eternall destruction, which is here de­scribed by the priuation of Gods presence, and of the glory of his power. The meaning whereof is thus much. That they shall for euer and euer be tormented in such a place, where they shall be euer remoued from the gratious presence of God, and [Page 57] shall neuer behold that glorious power of his, which he manifesteth in the eternall glorifying and blessing of his Saints in heauen: such shall be the detestation and hatred that the Lord shall beare towards them, that he will not indure them to abide in his presence, but will shut them vp in eternall darknes, where the light of his gracious countenance, and his sauing power (which is the glory of his power) shall neuer shine vnto them; so that the Lord will neuer looke after them, ne­uer come vnto them, neuer so much as cast his eye towards them, nor the place where they are: nor shew the least part of his glorious power in that place, to the mitigating of their torment, but will leaue them altogither to the power of the Deuill, and to the comfortlesse presence of damned Spi­rits, where they shall see nothing, but horrour and confusion, nor heare any thing, but howling and crying and gnashing of teeth, without the least hope of any comfort from God, out of whose presence, they are for euer and euer excluded and thrust out. What a fearfull vengeance is this, that Christ in that day will execute vpon the wicked persons aboue described? How should the con­sideration of this, restraine all good Christians from reuenging their owne quarrels vpon the ene­mies of the Gospell, though they had neuer so much power to do the same? For can a Christian heart desire a greater vengeance then this, vpon any how wicked soeuer, and what wrongs soeuer they had done them? If God should giue vp our enimies into our owne hands to do with them [Page 58] what we would, would we if we could, be more auenged of them, then Christ will be for our sake? Certainly it is not possible for the most malicious curser and banner that euer was, to desire a greater vengeance then this. How wonderfull malicious then are all such, as professe that they beleeue thus much, & yet thinke it not inough, vnlesse they also may adde something more vnto this vengeance? It is a world to see how Christians vpon euery tri­fling occasion, are ready to flie at the faces of them which trespasse against them, and against the ex­presse will of God, to reuenge their owne causes, as though either they did not beleeue, that Christ would execute any such vengeance vpon them, or that if he would, yet that it were not vengeance inough for any trespasse committed against their persons. Whensoeuer therefore any enemies of the Gospell, shall offer wrong vnto vs in words or deeds, let vs leaue the reuenge to this Iudge, who will either in this life make them repent it, (yea more repent it then we could make them, though we had power to hang them for it) or else he will make them eternally to rue it in the world to come which is a greater vengeance, then the most spitefull and malicious stomacke that euer was (if he knew or beleeued what it was) could wish vnto him, he hateth to the death. If a man for some pettie trifling wrong done vnto any of vs, should by the Magistrate be cast into prison for our sake, there to be reserued till the generall Assises, then to be hanged without any hope of pardon, except he yeelded full satisfaction vnto vs, [Page 59] as much euery way as we would require, would not this punishment content vs? Would we not (if we had any good nature in vs) be grieued that he should for our cause suffer so much? Were we not monstrously malicious, if notwithstanding all this, we should desire to be farther auenged of him, by reuiling and beating him in the prison, by misvsing him in his wife, children, goods, and good name, all that we can? There is not (belo­ued) any man, that doth offer vs the least wrong, but Christ our Lord, doth thereupon binde him by stronger bonds, then if he were in fetters or stocks, to be forth comming at the great day of Doome, and then purposeth to be reuenged on him, in the extremest manner, euen with eternall destruction, from the presence of his face, except he truly and vnfainedly repent. And is not this inough to content vs? Are our hearts so full of rancor and spite, that notwithstanding that we know and beleeue thus much, yet we cannot be quiet in our mindes, except we our selues also flie vpon him that hath wronged vs, euilly intreating him in words and deeds? Should it not rather pitie vs, to consider, that for our sake, and for that he hath done to vs, he should be in danger, to be eternally damned in Hell? Let this malice be far from all Christian hearts, and that it may be far from ours, let vs often meditate vpon this first end of Christs comming to iudgement.

VERS. 10. When he shall come to be glorified in his Saints, and to be made wonder­full in all them that beleeue —’

IN these words are contained the second end of Christs comming to iudgement, which is the glorifying of his Saints. The violence of his rage and furie against the wicked, doth not make him forget his grace & loue to the godly, but the more he shall in that day manifest his wrath and furie against the one, the more shall his wonderfull grace and loue breake forth towards the other.

To be glorified in his Saints, and to be made wonderfull in them that beleeue, is in such a man­ner to glorifie them, that all the world shall won­der and be astonished at that vnspeakable glory, wherewith he will glorifie them, and in their glory, glorifie himselfe But what! Will not Christ also be glorified and made wonderfull in the damna­tion of the wicked? Yes, out of all question, the Lord shall reap wonderfull glory in the ven­geance that he shall execute vpon them. The wrath of Christ shall be a wonderfull wrath, the torments and iudgements inflicted vpon them shall be wonderfull; men will then wonder, and be astonished with wondering, that that God, who in this life hath shewed himselfe so patient and gentle vnto sinners, should be so exceedingly wroth with them: the wicked themselues will wonder at his furie, and happily at their owne gracelesse folly, in despising the meanes of their [Page 61] owne Saluation: the godly shall wonder at the most glorious iustice of God, and magnifie him for the same: yea the confusion of the wicked in this day, shall be one part of that glory whereby the Lord will be made wonderfull in his owne Saints. For, for their sake, & the wrongs that they haue offered vnto them, shall their iudgement be the heauier; but there will be incomparable more cause of glorifying God, and of wondring at the glory of his Maiestie in the Saluation of belee­uers: for alas, the wicked in that day, shall haue but their deserts: but this is the wonder of won­ders, that the Lord should bestow such infinite and exceeding glory, vpon those that beleeue, without the least merit on their part: yea when on their owne part, they haue deserued the same vengeance, that is inflicted vpon the reprobate. What a glory must this needs be vnto Christ? How shall it fill the mouthes of all the Saints and Angels in heauen with the praises of this God? How shall the Saints seeing their owne glory, and the glory one of another, wonder at their owne glory, wonder at the glory one of another, and wonder at the incomprehensible loue of God towards them therein? How shall the Potentates and great Princes of the earth, that haue despised and trampled vnder their feet in this world, the poore seruants of Christ, now wonder at their glory? How shall all the Deuils and damned re­probates, to their greater torment, wonder and be amased thereat? Oh how wonderfull shall the Lord be in this day, to all the world, in that glory, [Page 62] which then he will bestow vpon his despised and contemned Seruants.

Howsoeuer then the Lord in this world, doth glorifie himselfe by many meanes, howsoeuer he is glorious and wonderfull, not onely in the creation of the world, but also in the generall & particular gouernment thereof: yet in this day, he will exceed in glorifying himselfe, in & by that speciall glorie, that he will then bestow vpon his seruants. All his glory shalbe their glory, & he will be made glori­ous & wōderful, by the reflectiō of that wonderful glory which in that day he wil bestow vpon them.

But what Persons are they that Christ will bee glorified and made wonderfull in? Saints and be­leeuers: Saints and beleeuers are all one; A man cannot be a Saint, that is not a true beleeuer: and he doth not truely beleeue, who doth not so beleeue, as that vpon the same he become a Saint. A Saint then is he, who euen in this life forsaketh his sins, and endeuoureth to serue and please God, accord­ing to his owne will reuealed in the Gospell; To beleeue, is in that effectuall manner, to know and giue credit vnto the doctrine of the Gospell, and the promises thereof, as that we are willing to yeeld all obedience therein required, to God for Christs sake; To beleeue, is it that makes a Saint; To be a Saint,Act. 15.9. Iam. 2. [...]4.18. manifesteth that a man beleeueth; That beliefe is no beliefe that makes not a Saint; That Saint is a Deuill that doth not beleeue. Will any of vs then (beloued) be assured, whether in that great day, we shall be amongst the number of them that Christ will bee glorified in: wee must [Page 63] examine our selues, whether we be Saints and be­leeuers, whether we be beleeuing Saints, and holy beleeuers; doe we giue no credit to the Gospell? Doe we wilfully disobey the same? Doe we de­light in prophanenesse, and such like sinnes, con­trary to the doctrine of the Gospell? Cannot the voice of Christ in the Gospel, either by threatnings or promises, restraine vs from vnholy and vn-saint­like courses, from our prophanations of the Sab­both, our blaspheming, drunkennesse, scurrilitie, maliciousnesse? &c. Are we scorners and deriders of them that refraine from our ouer prophane courses? Doe we despise and hate and persecute, as much as lieth in vs, the most effectuall meanes whereby men become Saints and beleeuers? If we be such, (as it is to be feared that some of vs are little better then such) the Deuils and damned wretches in hell, haue asmuch cause as we, to hope that Christ will be glorified and made wonderfull in them; Neither can we (so long as we remaine such) expect that the Lord in this day, should any otherwise be glorified, and made wonderfull in vs, then in the Deuill, and all reprobate persons.

This doctrine being beleeued, will be a meanes of much comfort to the afflicted and persecuted Saints of God; It is a matter of great humiliation vnto them in such times of persecution, to consi­der how the name of God is dishonoured and pro­phaned by the Enemies of the Gospell, and how they insult and triumph ouer Christ, and his holy ordinances; It grieues their soules and humbles them often, vnto the very dust, that Christ will no [Page 64] more shew himselfe in his owne causes. Also, the consideration of their owne weakenesses and infirmities, which in such times they cannot hide, (whereby they are often a reproch and dishonour to Iesus Christ, and a meanes of triumph and glory to the enemies of Christ) doth much dismay them; but the more Christ suffers himselfe to be repro­ched, and dishonoured in his Saints in this life, and the more the wicked do glory and triumph ouer their basenes and infirmities, the more will he to the wonderment of all the world glorifie them, and glorifie himselfe in them; that which he with­holds in this life, he will pay with infinite vsurie and aduantage in this day, if we can patiently wait vntill then. And thus much of the description of the day of Doome, into which the Apostle for the further consolation of this persecuted Church did digresse.

‘— Because our testimonie was beleeued of you in that day.’

Here the Apostle returneth againe to that point, which a litle he digressed from: for hauing in the beginning of the seuenth verse, affirmed thus much in effect; That it was righteous with God, that they which were molested and troubled by wick­ed men for the Gospels sake in this life, should rest with the Euangelists and Apostles in the life to come; he here rendreth a reason thereof; Because our testimonie was beleeued of you in that day. By their testimonie, he meaneth the doctrine of the [Page 65] Gospell which they preached, the substance where of, is contained in their writings. This is it they testified of, and the testimonie they giue thereof, ought to be the ground and foundation of euery Christians beleefe. There is no other doctrine of Saluation, that a Christian ought to beleeue, but what the Apostles and Euangelists giue testimonie of; That which hath not their tongue, or hand, or seale at it, doth not appertaine to the Christian Faith: yea, if our beliefe of the principall parts of the Gospell, be grounded onely vpon custome, heare-say, or tradition from our Auncestors, and not vpon their testimonie, it is but a fansie and no sound beliefe, no, though we should giue our bo­dies to the fire, to be burned for the same.

Would we then be sure (whatsoeuer betide vs in this life) to rest after this life, for euer and euer with the Apostles, and be partakers with them in that glorious estate, that we perswade our selues they are in? Let vs beleeeue their testimonie, and so farre forth as we beleeue the same, one may be as­sured to rest with them, and the more disquietnesse and restlesnesse, we indure in this life for beleeuing them, the more we may secure our selues after this life to rest with them: little hope can they haue to enter into this rest, whose greatest hope, lies in the beliefe of that the Apostles neuer gaue any testi­mony vnto. The superstitious ignorant Papist lookes to rest with the Apostles, for going on Pil­grimage, for his worshipping of Saints & Angels, for his praying vnto our Lady, for his whipping of himselfe, for his praying for the dead, for forbear­ing [Page 66] to eate flesh vpon Fridayes and Saturdayes, and such like will-worship; whose testimonie doe they beleeue herein? Not the Euangelists and A­postles; They no where giue any testimonie vnto any such matters,C [...]l. 2.20.21.22.23.16. Mat. 15.9. but rather testifie against them; The like may be said of others, who though in words they professe, that they beleeue the doctrine of the Apostles, yet in their deeds they giue the lie thereunto, so liuing, as if that which the Apostles haue preached or written, were but so many fa­bles; To goe no further, we haue heard the Apo­stle testifie in this very place, That in the latter day, Christ will come in flaming fire to render ven­geance vnto them that know not God, and obey not the Gospell of Iesus Christ; would we not, if we did beleeue this testimonie, striue by all meanes to attaine vnto the knowledge of God, & to yeeld all due obedience to the Gospell? Would we please our selues (as we doe) in ignorance of God, and purposely continue in disobedience and rebellion against the Gospell, if we did beleeue this testimo­nie? It is not possible; Well, we must know, that we must neuer looke to enter into rest, with the A­postles, so long as in this manner we shall refuse to beleeue their testimonie. And thus much of the second part of the Apostles Consolation.

VERS. 11. Wherefore we also pray alwayes for you —’

THe third part of the Apostles consolation fol­loweth, wherein; First, he certifieth this [Page 67] Church, that He, and Siluanus, and Timothie doe alwayes pray for them; i. doe daily in their ordi­narie and extraordinarie prayers remember their afflicted state vnto the Lord, and become humble and incessant suiters and suppliants vnto Christ Iesus for them. And was not this (thinke we) mat­ter of great comfort vnto them, that such Wor­thies as these, so deepe in grace and fauour with God, should so take their afflictions to heart, that they should become daily, and continuall petitio­ners vnto God for them, neuer giuing the Lord any rest, vntill he should heare them and grant their requests? If poore oppressed subiects, that should indure daily wrongs and molestations from great men, should be assuredly certified of this, that some speciall Fauourites about the King, did take notice of the wrongs, and iniuries that were offred vnto them, and did daily sollicite the King to releeue them, would it not be a great mat­ter of comfort vnto them? would they not con­ceiue hope, that at length they should haue some remedie against their oppressors? Much more might these poor persecuted Saints in this Church comfort & hearten themselues in the midst of all their miserie, to consider that they had such con­tinually to supplicate for them, who could pre­uaile as much with God, as if Noah, Daniel, and Iob should haue stood vp, and haue intreated the Lord in their behalfe, especially seeing they could not be ignorant,Iam. 5.16. but that the prayers of men so faithfull, must needs preuaile exceedingly with God.

[Page 68]First in that Paul (to the end that he might com­fort them) certifieth them that he prayeth for them; it sheweth that himselfe was perswaded, that they were the better for his prayers, and that he assured himselfe, that they so esteemed them­selues to be. Though therefore it should be farre from Christians, to be proud and conceited of their prayers, yet we cannot pray either for our selues or others with that earnestnesse and feruen­cie of spirit that we ought, except we esteeme our prayers certaine and sure instruments of blessings vnto others. And this should be the solace and ioy of euery poore Christian soule, that thirsteth after the good and welfare of his neighbour, that though we be not able to do them that we loue and wish well vnto, any other good, yet we may pray for them, and in praying for them, we shall do them good worthy thanks. Let vs further learne, not onely to esteeme well of our owne prayers for others, but of the prayers of others for our selues: let vs make no question but that we fare the better for the weakest prayers, that proceed from a faithfull and good heart; let their hands be deare and precious vnto vs, that are lifted vp vnto God for vs. We dearly affect (if we haue any good nature in vs) those which in our necessi­ties will speake a good word for vs to our Superi­ours vpon Earth: how deare then should they be vnto vs, that in our miserie speake vnto God in our behalfe?

Secondly, let no man thinke himselfe too good to pray & that continually for the poore distressed [Page 69] Saints of God. Wert thou as good as Paul or Peter, as great as Solomon or Dauid, it will become thee to begg at the Throne of Gods grace for thy poore brethren; yea the better thou art, and the worthier in the eyes of God and man, the better will this dutie become thee, and the more fitting it will be for thee to performe the same. For the more that a man is in grace and fauour with God, the more he ought to be humbled with the sense of his brothers wants, and should the more vse that interest which he hath with God for their re­leefe. And as no man ought to thinke himselfe too good to pray for his brethren, though he were as good as Paul himselfe; so ought none, how holy soeuer, thinke themselues too good to be prayed for. What a worthy Church was this? How did Paul magnifie it? yet, it stood in neede of continuall prayers, and Paul for their comfort tells them, that he doth pray continually for them, whereby he declareth, that they desired the same; yea, Christians the better they are, the more they see their owne wants, and the neede of the prayers of others. How often doth Paul himselfe beg the prayers of the poore Saints for himselfe? See for this end Rom. 15.30, 31. and the third Chap of this Epistle and the third verse; of which mat­ter I shall haue more fit occasion to intreat vpon that place.

Thirdly, all Christians (after the example of Paul in this place) should in all their prayers be in a speciall manner mindfull of those Christians, that are vnder the crosse, whether by persecution, [Page 70] or any other tribulations, as this Church was at this instant. Oh beloued, we should euer carry them in our bowels and hearts, and neuer come into Gods presence, but we should haue them in our mouthes, and commend their estate vnto God. For no persons are in so great danger as they, none feele the want of our prayers so much as they, none reap so much fruit and comfort by our prayers, as they. Litle know we (beloued) how much good we may doe them by our prayers. Though we cannot by our prayers pull downe visible and sen­sible vengeance, vpon the heads of their persecu­tors, though we cannot by meanes of them, open the prison gates, and shake off their fetters, or turne the hearts of their enemies and them that molest them, yet some blessing or other we may be assured to procure vnto them. For either the Lord, by this meanes will in his good time remoue the crosse, or mitigate it, or giue comfort in it, or strength and patience to beare it, or not suffer them to fall so greeuously vnder it, or bestow some better grace vpon them, then that which the crosse depriueth them of; we may presume, that some way or other, they shall fare the better for our prayers, and that they shall neuer returne vnto vs in vaine. And therefore, if there be any bowels of mercy and compassion in vs, towards them that are in distresse, it should moue vs euer to remem­ber them vnto God, neuer to go to God in prayer, but to carry a minde with vs deeply possessed with their miseries, that the Lord may see it, and euen in pitie and compassion towards vs, may shew [Page 71] some pitie to them, as it is his nature so to doe.

Fourthly, it is the dutie of Christians, not onely to obserue a constant and perpetuall course in prayer daily, but in those prayers, not to remem­ber our selues onely, but our brethren also; and in those prayers which we make, we must not looke to receiue the grace, either vpon our first asking, or for once asking; no, though our prayers, were neuer so faithfull and feruent, and though we were neuer so great in Gods fauour: but we must waite the Lords leisure, and craue againe and againe; yea continually, for that grace which we desire, ei­ther for our selues or others, and neuer cease pray­ing vntill we haue obtained it, or that the Lord hath euidently declared, that it is not his will to grant it vnto vs: and though for many weekes and moneths, and yeares togither, we haue bin sui­ters vnto the Lord, and giuen all attendance at the gate of his mercy; though we haue daily renew­ed our suite, and continually put the Lord in re­membrance thereof; though we haue others also (were they Prophets and Apostles) daily for many yeares togither suing for vs, and yet we haue recei­ued no answer from God, yet so long as God doth not flatly denie our request, and doth not forbid vs to make the same, let vs not thinke much to waite the Lords leisure, but let vs still in hope daily renue our suits vnto him, for in so doing, we shall be sure in the end to be no loosers, by waiting the good pleasure of God.

‘— That our Lord would make you worthy this Calling.’

Secondly, for the further comfort of this Church, he setteth downe the speciall matter and contents of his prayers, containing 3 petitions.

The first petition, (according to the true mea­ning thereof) is this, That as the Lord had vouch­safed them this honourable Calling to be Christi­ans, and had giuen them grace, euen to suffer for Christ, and therein giuen them a pledge of their eternall glory with Christ: so it would please the Lord to direct them, and in that mannar to be pre­sent with them, especially in these times of tryall and persecution, that they may approue and shew themselues before God and men, to be worthy Christians, and that they may not in word or deed, through frailtie and infirmitie, doe any thing that may blemish and staine their profession, or that may be vnbeseeming or vnworthy the name of Christians. He doth not then so much intreat the Lord, to free them from trouble and persecution, and to deliuer them from their enemies, as that they may acquit and behaue themselues worthily and valiantly, as it becommeth the souldiers of Iesus Christ. A prayer very necessarie for such times and persons. Our experience will serue to teach vs, how many Christians in time of peace and prosperitie, haue made a worthy and glorious profession, which in time of persecution and trou­bles haue discouered much vnworthinesse; yea [Page 73] many for a good time, haue in the midst of many tryals shewed themselues worthy Confessors, who yet in the end haue fallen grieuously, & haue therein exceedingly blemished their profession. It is not therefore sufficient for men to be Christi­ans, but they must endeuour to be worthy of that Calling, that is, to be worthy Christians.

The worthines of a Christian consists in these points.

1. When he doth not satisfie himselfe with a verball profession of Christianitie (as most Chri­stians vse to do) but is a Christian in practice,Iam. 1.26. & 2.14.18. and when he striues that his practice doth rather ex­ceed his profession, then come short of the same, and that in the eyes of the very enemies and per­secutors of the Gospell.

2. When a man prizeth this Calling aboue all other Callings, honors and dignities whatsoeuer, making no reckoning or account of them, when they any wayes crosse or disgrace this, but with Paul counting all things losse for this gaine, more respecting his dutie to Christ, then to Father, Mo­ther, Wife, or Children. This is to be a worthy Christian, especially when he can manifest this affection in the midst of persecution.

3. When men striue after perfection in Chri­stianitie, and are not content to be halfe Christians, like Agrippa, Act: 26▪ 29. contenting themselues with a medio­critie and indifferencie in Religion, but euery day striuing to grow and increase in this Calling, and so much the more to striue to grow and increase, by how much the more the enemies of the Gospell [Page 74] shall go about to diminish and decrease the power of godlinesse in them, when in despite of all Gods enemies, they labour euery day to be better Chri­stians then other, neuer thinking that they are come to a perfection in Christianitie.

4. When Christians labour after all things, that may grace and honour their Calling, and aboue all things auoide those things which may blemish and staine the same, when men so liue, that their Religion doth not onely credit them, but they credit it.

5. To esteeme it their glory and honour, to suffer for it, and to reioyce therein, as the Apostles did, and in that regard, the more they are molested and persecuted for it, the more to cleaue vnto it, to grow and increase in it, to shine by it, and by and in all the graces that accompanie it,Act. 7. as Steuen did.

6. The more worthy they haue shewed them­selues, the more to giue the glory vnto God, and to acknowledge themselues the more indebted vnto him, for their very worthines; for it is that, makes men worthy this Calling, as appeares by this prayer, and the more worthy hee makes vs, the more in our selues we should be humbled, that of our selues we should be so vnworthy.

For these and such like properties doth the Apo­stle pray in this petition, which Grace, whosoeuer in time of persecution shall obtaine from God, he shall thereby more vex, disquiet, plague, torment, and confound the enemies of the Gospell which persecute him, then by any bodily reuenge what­soeuer. [Page 75] If the Lord should deliuer our wicked enemies into our hands to do with them what we list, if we should make them our villaines and slaues, and put them to the basest seruices and vses that might be, though it might be a meanes the more to humble them, yet nothing in this life can so much torment and torture them, as when the Christians that are vnder their hands, do in the manner aforesaid, worthily behaue themselues, and as becommeth them that are called to be Ser­uants of Iesus Christ. And on the contrary side, if Christians should set themselues to do the ene­mies of God the greatest pleasure they can, and to minister vnto them matter of greatest triumph and glory vnto them, and that which may most flesh them in their wickednes, and hearten them in all their lewd and wicked courses; they cannot effect it by any meanes so soone, as by shewing themselues, whilest they are vnder their hands, vn­worthy Christians: for this is the top and height of all their desires, to make the Seruants of Christ as vile and vnworthy beasts as themselues. That we may therefore obtaine this Grace at Gods hands, for our selues and others, we must pray for it, yea continually pray for it, as the Apostle doth, especially in time of persecution.

‘— And that he may fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodnes.’

The two other petitions following, concerne the meanes whereby the Lord maketh them, and [Page 76] all other Christians worthy of that Calling.

This then is the second petition, that God would fulfill or accomplish in them the good pleasure of his goodnes. 1. That to the end they might shew themselues worthy to be called Christians, he prayeth, That the Lord would neuer forsake them nor leaue them, especially in these times of tryall, but as hitherto in his infinite goodnes, he had shewed himselfe a louing God vnto them, so he would continue to manifest more and more his loue and good pleasure towards them, not giuing ouer the worke of his sauing grace in them, vntill he had fully accomplished the same, and that they had attained (through the midst of all temptations and discouragements) vnto the fruit and perfection of their Hope and Faith.

But what need Paul pray, and that incessantly, that the good pleasure of Gods goodnes may be fulfilled? Is there any question, but that God be­ing infinite and omnipotent, will fulfill the good pleasure of his goodnes? What man is there, but he will be sure to haue his will, if he be not hindred? But we may as well aske, what neede we haue to pray for any thing as well as this, for we know be­fore hand, that there is no good that we can ob­taine from God by prayer, but it is the good plea­sure of his goodnes, and that before all eternitie, that we should obtaine it, and it is not our prayers, that begetteth this good pleasure in him, but his owne meere free will and disposition. This then is the diuine ordinance of God, that men should pray, and that daily, that the good pleasure of his [Page 77] goodnes may be fulfilled in them, and by this meanes hath the Lord ordained to conuey vnto vs all those graces which flow from his goodnes. So that though we were neuer so certaine, that it is the will and good pleasure of God, to bestow this or that grace vpon vs, yet we are to know this withall, that it is his will also, that we should, by our earnest prayers, draw the same from him.

From this petition we may obserue.

1. That all the strength and stay of a Christian (in time of persecution and tryall especially) de­pends vpon the good will and pleasure of God: if he do not from it receiue grace and strength of perseuerance, he is gone; he can neuer be able to stand and hold vp his head in the day of trouble.

2. That this good pleasure of God, ariseth not from any goodnes in vs; but the fountaine from which it streameth, is, his owne meere goodnesse, and therefore it is here called, the good pleasure of his goodnes. Thence onely it is, that he either de­creeth, purposeth or willeth any good vnto vs: yea this good pleasure of his goodnes, is the cause of all that goodnes and worthinesse whatsoeuer is in vs. God doth not manifest to a Christian, his good will and pleasure towards him all at once, but by certaine degrees: neither are the first be­ginnings of that grace, which flow from the good will and fauour of God, sufficient to support a Christian in persecution, but the Lord must adde grace vnto grace, and strength vnto strength, vn­till he haue fulfilled all the good pleasure of his [Page 78] goodnes. And therefore in such times, we had neede so to behaue our selues towards the Lord, that he may multiply, increase, and bring to perfe­ction, the worke of his good pleasure and good­nes in vs. We had neede then to beg and craue it at Gods hand, and rest vpon it as our onely hope, which if we can do, no doubt but that the more, the enemies of God shall accomplish the lewd pleasures of their wickednes vpon vs, the more we shall feele God, fulfilling the work of his good pleasure in vs, which will more strengthen and incourage vs, to be constant in the Faith of Iesus Christ, and to suffer for it, then if we should receiue speciall incouragement, & applauses from all the Saints in heauen and earth.

‘— And the worke of faith in power.’

The third petition is, that God would fulfill in them the worke of faith with power, which is an­other speciall meanes, whereby they may become worthy of the Calling aforesaid: yea, and where­by the Lord doth accomplish in them, the good pleasure of his goodnes.

There is no doubt or question, but by Faith here he meaneth, iustifying or sauing Faith, that very kinde of Faith, which formerly he said did superabound in them, and was exceedingly in­creased.

Learne we briefly from hence.

1. That there are degrees of Faith, and that not the beginnings, but euery degree of Faith is the [Page 79] worke of God, yea one of the most powerfull works of God. So that it is no more in the power of man to beleeue, or in beleeuing to increase his owne Faith, then it is to climbe vp to heauen. Faith and euery degree thereof, is wrought onely by the finger of God; and our natures are so in­capable of it, that God is faine by a diuine and almighty power, to imprint euery part and degree thereof in vs.

2. Though we had made neuer so great pro­ceedings in Faith, yet we can neuer in this life be said to come to that perfection in Faith, but that we shall haue need to make this prayer vnto the Lord, to fulfill in vs the worke of Faith: yea, the more our Faith is growne and increased in vs, the more we shall desire still the perfection thereof. This Church (as we heard) is commended by the Apostle, for that their Faith was exceedingly in­creased, and yet the Apostle prayeth continually for them, that the worke of Faith may be fulfilled in them. So that though we had neuer so much Faith, yet we shall need more and desire more; and it is a fearfull signe, that those haue no Faith in them, which think they haue so much, as they need no more, despising all those meanes, whereby their Faith may be increased.

3. Faith is the most necessarie good, that Chri­stians in time of persecution, stand in need of. By our prayers to free them from persecution, or to inchaunt their bodies, that they could feele no paine nor hurt, either by sword or fire from their wicked persecutors, were not to obtaine so great a [Page 80] grace for them, as the accomplishment of their faith. For faith doth supply whatsoeuer is need­full to giue a Christian strength and comfort in persecution. By it not onely the fiery darts of Sathan are quenched, but the swords and speares and darts of all the wicked Tyrants in the world are so blunted and dulled, that though they pierce, yet they cannot hurt, the partie that is armed ther­with. It is an inchaunted shield, that can beare of the most mortall blow: for the more we shall suffer for Christs sake and the Gospell, the more by faith we shall be secured and assured, of a blessed reward that shall infinitely surpasse in worth and weight, any thing, which either we shall, or can possibly suffer in our flesh by the hands of wicked men. Faith, will make vs to see, that it is an aduan­tage and gaine vnto vs, to lose for Christs sake, and that the greater things that we shall forgo and part with, the greater benefit it shall be for vs; and that the more we shall suffer for him (though to the death) the more we shall be glorified with him. Read the 11 to the Hebrewes, and consider the power and vertue of Faith, how through it, Christians haue endured mockings, scourgings, bonds, imprisonment, stoning, the racke, and would not be deliuered, that they might receiue a better resurrection. Heb. 11.35, 36, 37.

VERS. 12. That the name of our Lord Iesus Christ may be glorified in you, and yee in him, according to the grace of our God, and of the Lord Iesus Christ.’

THese words containe the maine ground and reason by which he moueth the Lord to grant the former petitions, and by which he per­swaded himselfe, and conceiued hope that the Lord would grant the same vnto them. For by this meanes, Christ Iesus should receiue glory and honour by them, in the very face of his enemies; and they againe, through the free fauour and loue of God, should be glorified in him.

Whence we may learne,

1. That this holy intent and desire here speci­fied, is a speciall meanes to moue the Lord by prayer to grant the former requests: and that the Graces in the former petitions, are the meanes, whereby the name of Christ is glorified in vs, and we in him; and that being destitute of the former graces, specially in time of tryall, Christs name shall be dishonoured by vs, and we shall pull shame and dishonour vpon our selues.

2. The first and maine scope of a Christian, is to glorifie the name of Christ, and not to looke to be glorified in Christ, but in and through his owne glorifying of Christ; yea we are to desire the glo­ry of Christ, when it seemes to fight against our owne glorification in him, as Moses did, Exod. 32.35; and Paul, when he desired in the affection he [Page 82] did beare to the glory of Christ, to be Anathema for the people of the Iewes. We may, and we ought to desire to be glorified in Christ, but we must first desire and indeauour, that Christ may be glorified in vs, and receiue honour in our seruing and worshipping of him.

3. Though God be neuer so glorified in vs, and though our glory in him is a consequent of our glorifying of him, yet our glory (as appeares here) comes not of any merit of ours, but of the meere grace and fauour of God, and of our Lord Iesus Christ. So that when we haue brought all the glory we can to the name of Christ, if God in Christ were not gracious and mercifull vnto vs, we should not for all that be glorified in CHRIST.

And thus much of the third part of this Epistle.

THE SECOND CHAPTER.

Vers. 1. We beseech you, brethren, by the comming of our Lord Iesus Christ, and by our assem­bling vnto him,
2. That yee be not suddainly moued from your minde, nor troubled, neither by spirit, nor word, nor by letter as from vs, as though the day of the Lord were at hand.
3. Let no man deceiue you by any meanes.—

THE fourth part of this Epistle fol­loweth, which is a brotherly Ad­monition: wherein we are to con­sider,

  • 1. The Forme,
  • 2. The Matter.

In the Forme, the Apostle expresseth, with what heart and affection he admonisheth them: and therein, is a worthy president vnto all Christians, what louing hearts and feeling affections, they ought to bring with them in admonishing one of another.

And first he stileth them (as in the sense and [Page 84] feeling of that spirit, by which he writ, he esteemed them) Brethren; wherein, he declareth not onely a speciall loue and affection to the cause, but also to the persons of them he admonisheth. For the persons of brethren (where there is any nature or grace amongst them) are deere one vnto another, in regard of that naturall bond, whereby they are mutually knit one to another. So that in this very name of Brother, which he giueth them, there shi­neth a great loue and affection, in the Apostle to­wards the persons of all in this Church.

And from this loue, doth this Admonition flow: And from the like Loue and Affection ought all Christian admonition to flow. Wouldst thou effectually admonish an other? thou canst neuer doe it, vntill thou shew thy selfe a bro­ther vnto him. Thou must let him see, that thine admonition streameth a brotherly affection; and that, that is the very ground and cause thereof: so that if thou didst not esteeme and loue him as a brother, thou wouldst not admonish him. On the contrary side, those admonitions that flow from gall and choler, or from malice and hatred of the person admonished, are no Christian admo­nitions; neither can we expect any blessing on them; but rather, that the parties admonished should be the worse for them. It is brotherly Ad­monition, that Christ will blesse. Neither is it possi­ble for vs, to admonish them brotherly, whom we do no not esteeme and affect as brethren.

2. In this Admonition he louingly entreateth and beseecheth them, to take heede vnto them­selues. [Page 85] As he calleth them Brethren; so he beha­ueth himselfe towards them as a Brother, in the whole tenor of his Admonition. For in meeke, sweet, and brotherly manner he prayeth and be­seecheth them to beware and to take heede; and doth not in an imperious, and controlling manner require the same, though he were their superiour: wherein he sheweth a tender and compassionate heart, esteeming their danger to erre, as it were his owne hurt, and their freedome from error as his owne good. For, when men of their owne meere motion do become suiters and suppliants vnto others, though it be for others; yet they declare therein, that they themselues haue an interest in that good, which they sue for.

The Apostle carieth not himselfe, as wee of­ten vse to do in our admonitions and warnings of others: he biddeth them not, in an insulting man­ner, looke to themselues, and take heed of such and such matters, say they haue a faire warning, thanke themselues, if they do otherwise then they ought to do, and looke not to be pitied of them: but he beseecheth and intreateth them; and there­in professeth, that it should do him much good, if they would take warning, and that it would be no small greife and sorrow of heart to him, if they did not. This spirit, should all Christians bring vnto the admonishing of their Brethren: especi­ally the Ministers of Christ. And this is one rea­son, why there is so litle fruit oft, in our admoniti­ons, because we shew so litle loue and compassion in them. Our admonitions for the most part are [Page 86] but purgations and euacuations of our spleane and malice; and not any manifestation of our loue and compassion to the parties admonished, as though their well-doing were an aduantage vn­to vs, and their ill-doing a damage vnto vs.

Now further the Apostle doth not nakedly be­seech them; but he adjoyneth thereunto, a double adiuration or obtestation, wherein he declareth, with what zeale and ardor of spirit he beseecheth them. The Apostle then in this his Admonition heateth his Loue with zeale, and moderateth his zeale with Loue: he mingleth & tempereth them both togither: In the one, he sheweth his desire of their good; in the other, his feare of their euill.

And therein, he teacheth vs what affections we should bring with vs, to the admonishing of our brethren, a zealous Loue, and a louing Zeale. Loue without zeale is but folly: Zeale without Loue is but furie and madnes. But how do most of vs swarue in our passions, when we come to admo­nish our brethren? Sometime in our admonitions, we shew neither loue nor zeale; but admonish them in that manner, as though we cared not whi­ther they hearkned to vs or no. Sometime, we shew loue but no zeale; sometime hot zeale, but no loue, if that may be called zeale that is without loue. But let vs neuer take vpon vs this office, vn­till we can temper these affections togither.

Besides, in this feruencie of his Spirit he shew­eth, that they were in great danger to be seduced: and that it was a dangerous matter for them to be seduced and led away with that error which he [Page 87] admonisheth them of. And in them, he sheweth the condition of all true Churches and Christians, especially in the time of persecution and tryall; that they are then in great danger, through the powerfull and malicious worke of Satan, to runne into error: and it is then most dangerous for them to erre, as by meanes whereof, they giue speciall aduantage to Satan and to the enemies of the Gospell.

He adiureth them by the comming of Christ, and by their assembling vnto him: as if he should say; you heard before, what I said concerning Christs second comming, and the wonderfull glory of all the faithfull, that shall be in that day assembled vnto him: As therefore, you will looke and expect to be amongst the number of those, and to haue your portion in that great glory, and as you tender the saluation of your soules, looke to your selues, and take heede of that dangerous error, that here I admonish you of.

Whence we obserue:

1. That Christians must learne to place their speciall hope and comfort in the expectation of Christs comming: otherwise this adiuration should haue litle force in it.

2. That all Christians, Ministers especially, must be most carefull, to warne and admonish their Christian brethren, of such errors, as may ha­zard or endanger any wayes, their hope and expe­ctation in that day.

3. That Christians, euen the best, and those which haue giuen greatest testimonie and proofe [Page 88] of their faith, shall bee in danger, if they looke not to themselues, to be seduced and drawne into most pestilent and pernicious errors, such as may take away all hope of, and comfort in the com­ming of Christ.

4. That the serious meditation and conside­ration of Christs comming, and the hope of our assembling vnto him, is a speciall meanes to vp­hold and support all good Christians against such errors. It is a speciall bond to binde vs vnto the truth.

The matter of the Admonition followeth, which is this: That whereas some secret enemies of the Gospell, and of their saluation, went about, vnder diuers pretences to perswade them, that the second comming of Christ should be in their dayes; they would not in any case, be disquieted and troubled in their mindes, or suffer themselues to be deceiued by any such falshood, what colors soeuer they should bring for the same.

Wherein, the Apostle offreth to our conside­ration,

1. The error it selfe, wherewith seducers went about to corrupt their mindes.

2. The pretences, which they either did, or might vse for the colouring of their error.

3. Their intent in perswading, togither with the effect and consequent, that would follow vpon the entertaining thereof.

4. The dutie of Christians in this case.

1. The error is this, that Christ would come to iudgement out of hand euen in their dayes. An [Page 89] euident vntruth, as the experience of many ages since hath discouered. It ought to be an Article of our Faith, to beleeue that Christ shall certainly come againe to iudge the world. But it is a perni­cious error, to determine of this or that particular time, of his comming, any further then we haue cleare euidence out of the word. In matters of Faith we ought not to be wise, aboue that which is written.

And obserue we, how busie Satan hath bin from the beginning, to fill mens mindes with errors in religion. He that durst be so bold, to corrupt the doctrine of Faith in the Apostles time, will be much more bold now: And therefore we had neede to looke, vpon what grounds we build our Faith.

2. The pretences, that either they did or might alledge, are these, Priuate Reuelation, Apostolicall Tradition, Writings of the Apostle, wrested and misinterpreted. These were the meanes, whereby euen in the Apostles time, the Mysterie of Iniqui­tie went about to corrupt, infect, and poyson the Church with errors and heresies. And these they are, by which they labour to seduce to this day.

3. The intent of these seducers, in perswading hereunto, is not manifestly expressed: And surely, it may seeme at the first, to be a godly error, and that they could meane no hurt, but good, that taught it; and that it could produce nothing, but religious thoughts & deeds, in the receiuers there­of, causing them the more carefully to prepare themselues, that they might the more boldly hold [Page 90] vp their heads in that day. And surely, those Chri­stians liue a most holy life, that so liue to day, as if they looked that Christ should come vnto iudge­ment to morrow. And therefore it might seeme, that the Diuell should rather be a looser then a sauer, much lesse a gainer, by this error·

But the Apostles earnestnes doth plainly shew, that the Diuell and those instruments, which he vsed in perswading to this error, had a pestilent intent and purpose therein; and that it came from the mischieuous Spirit of Antichrist, who was now working in a mysterie his owne greatnesse. For though for a time, the perswasion hereof, might stir vp some to looke to their wayes, and bridle their natures from many sinnes; yet when at length they should perceiue that they feared in vaine, and that their religious feares were vpon a wrong ground, it would make them afterward breake forth into so much the more profanenesse, yea and be a meanes to make them at length to beleeue, that there shall be no such day at all: and so would it proue a meanes also to open the mouths of profane mockers, as it did indeed in those times 2. Pet. 3.4. and so by that meanes, to weaken the credit and autoritie of the Scriptures, wherein, for this error, there might seeme (they being not rightly vnderstood) some ground.

Let vs therefore, beloued, take heede of any er­ror in Religion, though it haue neuer such a shew. For many times those errors, in the euent proue most pestilent, that carry most shew of piety. Note we withall, how Antichrist in the very egge hath [Page 91] endeuoured by all wayes to weaken the authoritie of the Scriptures.

4. The dutie that the Apostle in this case requi­reth of them is twofold.

First, that they be not distracted in minde, shaken as it were beside their wits, and troubled.

Wherein the Apostle intimateth,

1. That it is Satans slight and policie oft by false and strange doctrines, to distract and astonish the minds of men, to disturbe and driue them (in a manner) out of their wits: by that meanes not onely to make them vncapable of such holy and sound instruction, as might stay them in the truth, but to make them fit instruments for him further to worke vpon, to possesse them with fond illusi­ons and delusions at his pleasure. That which we may obserue in the doctrine and practise of the Familists, Anabaptists, and other like Enthusiasts of our times; as also in the courses of some of some of those in the Romish Church, who vnder pretence of affecting a seuerer and austerer course of life then ordinarie, haue so weakned their braines, and confounded their imaginations, that they haue afterward fallen into a number of strange fantasticall conceits, which partly Satan, taking his opportunitie, hath suggested vnto them, and partly their owne distemper hath of it selfe forged and fraught their heads with.

The second thing he here intimateth, is this, that men are vsually very prone to be distracted and perplexed with such strange and vnsound do­ctrines, and with such groundles conceits. And [Page 92] surely, such indeed is our naturall corruption, (some remainders whereof abide in the best,) that the truth of God, euidently taught out of the word, oft affecteth vs but faintly, when such friuo­lous conceits, though hauing no truth in them, or ground of them, so strongly possesse vs, that with many false feares, they affright and amase vs; and make vs in a manner, beside our selues.

This corruption should we take notice of, and striue and contend to the contrary; that howso­euer we labour, to keepe our hearts tender and pli­able, for Gods Spirit and word to worke vpon, yet we strengthen our mindes against such friuolous and false feares and terrors, as Satan by his instru­ments, and their strange fancies shall assay to pos­sesse vs with.

The second dutie that the Apostle requireth of them, is to take heede, that no man by any meanes deceiue them. Wherein, the Apostle forewarneth them, that by no manner of man or meanes, they suffer themselues to be deluded on this wise. That neither the persons, of those that publish such points, though they seeme to be neuer so holy and religious in their life, or to be neuer so sound in their doctrine and teaching otherwise; nor the meanes they shall pretend, for the ground of such their doctrine, be it reuelation, or tradition, or au­thoritie of other learned, or counterfeit writings, or the like, preuaile so far with them, as to cause them to giue credit to any erronious doctrine, contrary to that, that the Apostle had before deli­uered vnto them, and did now further informe them of.

[Page 93]Whence we learne, as in hearing to respect and regard, not so much who it is that speaketh, as what it is that is deliuered; so withall, to be care­full to examine whatsoeuer doctrine shall be deli­uered of any, vpon any grounds or termes what­soeuer, with the doctrine of the Prophets & Apo­stles in the holy Scriptures recorded; and take heede how we admit any, whatsoeuer the bringer of it be, or whatsoeuer plausible pretences shall be alledged for it, that we shall finde vpon due exa­mination, to dissent and swerue, from the written word, or not to haue sure footing and foundation from thence.

‘— For that day shall not come, except there come an Apostasie first.—’

The Apostle, hauing in the two former verses admonished the Church, to beware of a dange­rous error that some went about to corrupt their mindes withall, concerning the comming of our Sauiour Christ, as if it were instant. For the further strengthning of them against the same error, be ta­keth occasion, by way of prophecie, to foretell of great matters that must come to passe, before that day; which could not, within the compasse of one or of sundry ages following be fulfilled.

The matter of this prophecie is concerning An­tichrist, the most pestilent and cruell enemie of the Church of Christ: a matter of great vse and con­sequence, to all the faithfull people of God.

[Page 94]The parts of it are three: For,

  • 1. He foretelleth an Apostasie.
  • 2. He foresheweth an Effect thereof.
  • 3. He layeth downe the meanes and the cause thereof.

And this he doth to the end, that all Gods peo­ple that haue vnderstanding, may take heede both of the one, and of the other.

For the first, he affirmeth that before that, that day shall come, there must be an Apostasie. An Apostasie generally signifieth, a reuolting or fal­ling away from him, whom we are bound & haue vndertaken to serue, and a betaking of our selues to the seruice of his enemie: As when Souldiers in the field, forsake their own Captaine or Emperor, vnto whom they haue sworne allegiance, and per­fidiously and traiterously ioyne themselues to the aduerse partie. And such a kinde of Apostasie is it, that the Apostle here meaneth.

Now that we may make the more vse of this point, let vs in order consider:

  • 1. From whom this Apostasie is made.
  • 2. Vnto whom it is made.
  • 3. By whom.
  • 4. By how many.
  • 5. Where.
  • 6. Wherein it consisteth.
  • 7. When it beginneth.
  • 8. When it shall end.

The discussing of these points is needfull, in re­gard of that wicked opposition, that is made vnto the truth contained in this Scripture, by the ene­mies [Page 95] of the Grace of God, who are wounded to the quicke by the same, and labour, by all wicked fraud possible to couer it from vs.

For the first, it is plaine that this Apostasie is a reuolting or falling from Iesus Christ. He is the Emperor from whom the departure here mentio­ned shall be made. This, our Aduersaries them­selues dare not denie: yet faine they would shift it of; and therefore their great Champion saith,Bellarm. de Pont. Rom. l. 3. c. 2. that it may be vnderstood to be a departing from the Romane Empire. For the confirmation whereof, he bringeth the names of three Latine Fathers. But it cannot be so vnderstood.Ambrose, Sedu­lius, Primasius.

For 1. this sense contradicteth that, which Bel­larmine himselfe maketh the best sense of these words. For if by Apostasie in this place, be ment (as he saith) Antichrist himselfe, who should be such a notable Apostata, that he may well be cal­led Apostasie it selfe, then it cannot by any meanes be ment of an Apostasie from the Romane Em­pire. Since it is out of all question, that the Apo­stasie of the great Antichrist must needs be from Christ.

2. That must needs be an Apostasie from Christ, wherein Antichrist worketh, and by which he groweth to his height.

3. This Apostasie is afterwards in the 7. verse called the Mysterie of Iniquitie: which must needs be opposite to the Mysterie of Godlinesse, of the Gospell: and so, by consequent it must needs be a departure from Christ. Neither can it bee shewed, that the Scripture any where taketh this [Page 96] word in any other sense, where it vseth it indefi­nitely.

4. The vse that the Apostle maketh of this in the 15. verse, manifesteth the same. Therefore, saith he, brethren, stand fast, and keepe the instructi­ons you haue bin taught. What? Doth he herein moue them to stand fast to the Romane Emperor and Empire? No: but Iesus Christ, of whom he had spoken before. This standing fast, is opposite to falling away: which therefore the Apostle ex­presseth else-where, by a word that signifieth to fall. Hebr. 6 6. [...]. Looke therefore, what the Apostle willeth them to stand fast to, was this departure to be made from.

This point then is cleare, that Christ is the per­son fron whom this Apostasie shall be made.

And yet suppose it were from the Emperor, what good getteth the Iesuite, or his Master, or his Church by that? Surely none at all. For they are all of them Apostataes from the Empire of Rome: they haue thrust the Emperor from Rome; they haue taken his authoritie from him; and the loial­tie and homage that they owe to him, do they giue to a proud vsurping Prelate; who out of this Apostasie is risen vp, and so by the same conse­quent is reuealed to be Antichrist.

2. The Person, vnto whom in this Apostasie they flie, must needs be some speciall aduersarie of Christ. And that must needs be Antichrist, who is the head & ring-leader in this Apostasie, though masked and couered for a time. For he is the party, that in this Apostasie shall be discouered: and he [Page 97] is afterward described to be the Aduersarie; to whom, but to Christ and all true Christians? Now reuolters euer flie to the aduerse partie. I know none that denieth this, or maketh any question of it. And this confirmeth the former point. For to fall to Antichrist, is to fall from Christ.

3. This Apostasie is to be made by Christians: that is, such as haue giuen their names to Christ, and haue bin baptised into his Name. This is plaine. For none can reuolt or fall from Christ, but he that is the professed seruant and follower of Christ.

4. This Apostasie is to be a generall or vniuer­sall departure of the whole Christian world, tho not of euery particular Christian in the world.

This is manifest;

1. By the indefinite speech of the Apostle. For if he had ment otherwise, then of a generall defe­ction, he would some way or other haue limited his speech.Luk. 18.8. 2. Our Sauiour speaking of the latter times, saith, When the Sonne of Man commeth, shall he finde Faith vpon earth? 3. Many of our Aduersaries, if not all, do grant it,Rhem. on 1. Thess. 2. Domin. à Soto in Sent. l. 4. dist. 46. q. 1. art. 1. Catharin. in 2. Thess. 2. that vnder Antichrist there shall be a generall reuolt: but from whom? from the Pope & Romane Church. So that Antichrist should rather in that regard be called Antipope then Antichrist. Yet let vs take it at their hands. 4. The euent hath shewed it. Diuers of the Fathers haue complained of it. One saith of the whole Church in his time,Chrysost. in 1. Cor. 14. hom. 36. that it had the Caskets & Cabinets wherin the Iewels & Trea­sures of the Church were, but had lost the Iewels [Page 98] and Treasures of the Church were, but had lost the Iewels and Treasures themselues: and com­pareth her to a woman fallen from her prosperitie, that had nothing to shew, but some bare tokens and signes onely: that it was no more Bethel but Beth-aven; that it was no better then a Tauerne or tipling-house. [...]. ad Ci [...]rum in [...]. Another afterward complai­ning of his times, Oh, saith he, these are the vn­happy times, wherein men will not endure wholsome doctrine. And againe he saith, that there were made in the Church inward and incurable wounds. Pa­pists themselues haue complained of it; not of this or that particular Church, but of the whole Church in generall. Saith one, in a speech made in the Councell of Trent,Cornelius Diton­tinu [...]. I would, they had not with one consent fallen from religion to superstition, from faith to infidelitie, from Christ to Antichrist, from God to the belly-God. A Pope himself could say of his times, We are all of vs of that beleefe that our Princes are: if they would worship Idols, we would worship them also; because Charitie is cold, and all faith is perished.

5 The place of this Apostasie is euident. It is the Christian world, the Church Militant.

This appeareth;

1. By all the former points. For none, but those, which are members of the Church of Christ, can properly be said to make an Apostasie from Christ. Since those were neuer with Christ, that were not of his Church.

2. Antichrist, the cheife author, vnder the Di­uell, of this Apostasie, is said to sit in the Temple of [Page 99] God; that is, as we shall shew afterward, in the Church of Christ. That is his shop where hee worketh: as for Infidels, Iewes, and Turks, he is not so busie amongst them.

3. Paul telleth the Elders of Ephesus, that af­ter his departure, there should enter in, Act. 20.28, 29, 30▪ rauening wolues amongst them, not sparing the flocke; and therefore exhorteth them to watch and take heede to that particular Church, whereof the Lord had made them ouer-seers: adding withall, that euen of their owne selues also men should arise, speaking peruerse things, to draw disciples after them.

The other three points, to wit, wherein this Apostasie consisteth, when it beginneth, and how long it shall last, will appeare in the explication of the verses following.

— and that Man of sin be discouered, euen the Sonne of perdition.
Vers. 4. Which is an aduersarie, and exalteth him­selfe against all that is called God: so that he sitteth as God in the Temple of God, shewing himselfe as God.

HItherto of the Apostasie: the Effect thereof followeth; which is the reuelation and dis­couerie of a strange Monster, that shall arise out of the same, and grow greater and greater by the increase thereof.

What manner of person he shall be, he sheweth by the description of him; wherein he giueth to vnderstand, how necessarie it will be for the [Page 100] Church of God to be able to know and discerne him.

The first Argument, whereby he describeth him, is his Lewdnes, that he is a Man of sinne. Whereby we are to vnderstand, not onely that Antichrist shall be a sinfull man, or some great and notorious sinner onely; but by man of sinne, we are to vnderstand one, that hath the arte and mysterie of sinning, whereby he doth not onely in his owne person sinne, but maketh it a trade and an occupation to draw others vnto sinne. He is such a sinner, as the Pharisees were, that would compasse sea and land to make a Proselyte, and make him two-fold more the childe of the Deuill then themselues.Math. 23.15. And therefore also is the pro­fession and practise of mntichrist called afterward, a mysterie of iniquitie. So that all his wit, strength, and authoritie shall be herein imployed, to aban­don and ouerthrow righteousnes, and to aduance sinne and rebellion, superstition and idolatry, a­gainst God and his Sonne Christ.

Therefore also (in some measure) all his subiects are a companie of such as haue learned this Art. And it will be good for all that looke to be saued by Iesus Christ, to know this Man, & to take heed of him, & to haue as litle dealing with him as may be. For all his dealing with men, is to draw them to sin against God; yea to be artificiall sinners; to make it a trade to draw others to sin; and be such sinners, as the more they shall sin, the lesse they shall seeme to sinne, or shall deeme themselues so to do. There is none therefore that feareth God, [Page 101] that should desire to haue any league or commu­nion with him, or with any of his professed ser­uants and followers. For as he is a Man of sinne, so they shall get no good by him, vnlesse they serue him in sinne. And if we be to seuer our selues from all inordinate persons; how much more then from this Man of sinne, and all his adherents?2. Thess. 3.6.

The second Argument, whereby the Apostle describeth him, is his Crueltie: and so the second title he giueth him, is the Sonne of perdition: which is the same Title that is giuen Iudas the Traitor by our Sauiour. Wherein appeareth,Ioh. 17.12. that Antichrist shall in nature and qualitie, be an other Iudas, and as it were Iudas his successor. And indeed there cannot (as we shall heare afterward) be a greater resemblance betweene two, then betweene them.

In this Title, there is an Hebraisme; whereby is ment 1. Passiuely, one destinated and ordai­ned to destruction; as, filius gehennae, Math. 23.15. the sonne of Hell; one that shall haue his portion in hell fire: filij irae, children of wrath, Ephes. 2.3. and Sonnes of the promise, such as shall partake in Gods promises. Rom. 9.8. 2. Actiuely, one ordained to be a destroyer of others: as the sonne of wisdome, for a wise man. Math. 11.19. so the sonne of perdition, for a destroyer. To which pur­pose also is Antichrist called Abaddon & Apollyon. 1. a destroyer. So that as Iudas, Apoc. 9.11. before he came to his end, was the death of Christ, so shall Anti­christ be the ruine and destruction of the mysticall bodie of Christ, for which he died. And as Christ is a Sauiour, and that a mighty one: so shall he [Page 102] be a destroyer, & that a mighty & powerfull one. So that whosoeuer followeth him, shall be sure to come to eternall ruine & confusion with him.

This should be a motiue, to perswade vs to take heede of him. We had better fall into the hands of any theeues and robbers, then of Antichrist. He is destinated, not onely to damne his owne soule, but all those also that submit vnto him, if the Lord do not in good time deliuer them: and those he most destroyeth, that he most maketh of.

The third Argument, whereby he describes him, is his Pride. He is said to be one that opposeth himselfe, and lifteth himselfe aboue all that is called God, or that is worshipped. Such shall be the into­lerable arrogancie of this Man of sinne, that he will not endure, that any power or potentate, in heauen or earth, should be aboue him. So that he is an irreconcilable Aduersarie, to all those, that prefer the worship of God before his worship, and that will not adore his ordinances, before & aboue Gods, or any left vnto man by God. For he can­not, by any other meanes, lift vp himselfe aboue God, and be an Aduersarie vnto him, but by lif­ting vp of his owne lawes aboue Gods, and tram­pling Gods vnder his feete, that his owne may be obserued; not induring any law, that shall crosse the law of his owne wicked will. So that he shall not thinke it enough, to be reputed higher, then all the Princes and Potentates vpon earth, except he may be worshipped also, euen aboue God him­selfe.

Now, to the end, that he may the more oppose [Page 103] himselfe against God; the Apostle addeth,

1. That the principall place of his residencie, where he will erect his Throne and Consistorie, shall be in the Temple of God; that is, in the Church of Christ, where God dwelleth most, and ruleth and gouerneth most, there will Antichrist be most busie. For that is ment by the Temple of God, as appeares 1. Cor. 1.2. with 3.16. where speaking to all wheresoeuer, that call vpon the name of God; Know yee not, saith he, that yee are the Temple of God, & that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? See also 1. Pet. 2.5. So that the place of Antichrists tyrannous dominion, shall be the Christian world, amongst the people of God, where the Name of God is called vpon, in the Catholicke and vniuer­sall Church vpon Earth.

So that we must not looke for this man of Sinne, in Turkie, Barbarie, &c, but amongst such as haue receiued the Gospell of Christ.

2. He addeth, That he shall carry himselfe in the Temple of God, not as a Seruant, Subiect, or Mi­nister of God, but as God: that is, looke what God vseth to do, that will he do. He will be head of the whole Church, the supreme and vncontroulable Gouernor: he will prescribe Lawes and Canons to the whole Christian world; prescribe a word of his owne, Sacraments of his owne, a Church ministerie of his owne: he will take vpon him to binde mens Consciences to his will, as to the will of the eternall God; to blesse whom he liketh, and to curse whom he listeth. &c.

What an arrogant person is this? How haue [Page 104] the people of God neede to take heed of such a monster? What blocks and sots are they, that can­not discouer him, and know him? Let vs there­fore, beloued, that liue in Gods Church, take heed to our selues; looke to our religion and worship, and all the parts thereof; that we do not serue Antichrist rather than Christ, and that we mingle not both togither. It will be hard, to liue in Gods Church in his times, and to keepe wholy free from him, who if he cannot wholy draw men from Christ, will be attempting yet to do it in part.

Vers. 5. Remember ye not, that while I was yet with you, I told you of these things?’

FOr the further confirming of them in this truth, before he proceed any further in the de­scription of that Man of sinne, which shall be re­uealed, not without a secret reproofe of their for­getfulnes, he calleth to their minde some other points, which, togither with these, he had taught them by word of mouth concerning Antichrist.

Whence breifely we may obserue;

1. How profitable the remembrance of any diuine truth may be, especially at some times, if men could then remember it. If this people had but remembred thus much, as they ought to haue done, they had not bin in danger of being poyso­ned, with the error before mentioned, but they had a present preseruatiue and counter-poyson against it.

2. Note we, how forgetfull the best children of [Page 105] God may be of those diuine doctrines, which most concerne them, and which one would think, they could not haue forgotten if they would.

3. Marke what aduantage Satan makes of our forgetfulnes. Did he see that care in vs, to remem­ber the word that ought to be, he would not be so bold to broach & spred his errors as he is: So that though there be much teaching, yet there is so litle remembrance of that, that is taught, that Satan and his instruments may broach any errors, and yet we neuer able through our meere forgetfulnes, to oppose the diuine truth of God against them.

4. All Christians, especially Ministers, may learne hence, to be carefull to call to the memories of their hearers, what they haue formerly taught, especially when particular occasion serues to make vse thereof, as when the forgetfulnes there­of, may proue prejudiciall and dangerous vnto them.

Vers. 6. And now yee know, what with-holdeth; that he might be reuealed in his due time.
7. For the mysterie of iniquitie doth already worke: onely he that with-holdeth shall let, till he be taken out of the way.
8. And then shall that wicked one be reuealed; whom the Lord shall consume with the Spirit of his mouth, and shall abolish with the brightnes of his comming.

TO come to the particular points then, that ouer & besides he putteth them in minde of.

[Page 106]The first is this, that he had acquainted them with a speciall let and impediment that hindred the present reuealing of this Man of sinne.

What this should be, the Apostle here concea­leth: So that it seemes, he told it them then as a secret, fit for the Christians in those times to know, but not so fit to be published. Onely it seemeth by that which followeth, that it was some kinde of person that hindred. And the most ge­nerall receiued opinion is, that it was the Empe­ror of Rome. This haue the ancientest Fathers held: and this do most, both Protestants and Pa­pists too grant. And the euent doth agree there­unto. Yea, it seemes that by their tyrannie and persecution they hindred the same. For so long as the Church was vnder persecution, and the sword of the Magistrate was drawne against it, this proud Man of Sinne lurking in the Church, and begin­ning to aduance himselfe, yet could not rise to his greatnes. And this may be the reason, why the Spirit of God concealeth the impediment, lest this might the more encourage the Ciuill Magi­strates, and Potentates to persecute the Church. And indeed the very suspition of this, that Christi­ans would be the ouerthrow of that Empire, was one cause of many bloudy persecutions.

2. He admonisheth them, that the foresaid A­postasie was euen then in working, which here he describes to be a mysterie of iniquitie, that is, an Art of sinning, by secret, cunning and artificiall con­ueyances: whereby he meaneth that then the foundations and grounds, and principles of the [Page 107] Antichristian religion were secretly laying: So that the Apostasie of Antichrist or the Antichri­stian Religion was not to rise on a sodaine, but as an edifice is long before in squaring and working, and at length is reared and ioyned: so the Religi­on of Antichrist, (which is therefore an auncient religion, at least the maine grounds whereupon it is built) should be a long time preparing and pri­uily contriuing, before it should come to be open­ly and eminently, erected in his due proportion and full perfection.

3. He telleth them, that that which hindreth the manifestation of the Man of Sinne, shall hinder, vntill it be remoued; and that as soone as it is re­moued, shall that wicked one be discouerd: Which sheweth that Antichrist reuealed, and this let and impediment could not stand togither, but the one must be remoued, before the other can shew him­selfe in his colors.

Here then, the Apostle giueth them a watch­word, concerning the time, when the Church of God was to expect the manifestation of Anti­christ: to wit, when this let was remoued, and not before then. So that the Man of Sinne shall be discouered, and then must be discouered, when he is at his greatest height.

Note by the way, the Title giuen this Man of Sinne here; he is called [...], the lawlesse person. So that Antichrist is such a one as will be lawlesse, subiect and lyable to no law, but will ouer-top and ouer-rule all lawes at his plea­sure.

[Page 108]4. He putteth them in minde of the end of An­tichrist, after he is reuealed, and that is twofold:

1. He shall be consumed by the breath of the Lords mouth. As Antichrist shall in a speciall man­ner set himselfe against Christ: so will Christ set himselfe in a speciall manner against him, and then most, when he is greatest. Neither will Christ at once vtterly confound him; but first he will by litle and litle consume him: So that as at the first he grew by litle and litle to his greatnes, so he shall by litle and litle be consumed.

The meanes whereby he will consume Anti­christ, is, by the Spirit of his mouth, that is, by the word of God, and the preaching of the Gospell. See Psal. 33.6. and Esai. 11.4. It is not sword and speare, that shall so much preuaile against Anti­christ, as the Ministerie of the word. Antichrists glory shall more and more vanish, the more that it preuaileth.

This point may giue vs great light in the disco­uerie of Antichrist and his kingdome, and of the open and secret frends thereof.

2. He and his kingdome shall be vtterly aboli­shed at the second comming of Christ, and not be­fore. So that though he be the vilest and most de­testable monster that euer was; yet he shall not either by the word or sword, be vtterly destroide vntill the latter day. So that till the day of doome he shall sit in the Temple of God, seducing the Saints of God, and drawing men from the Gospel of Christ to his idolatry, euen vntill the end of the world: and then shall he and all his limmes, by [Page 109] whose meanes his kingdome hath here bin aduan­ced, be cast into that burning Lake. Apoc. 20.10.

So that Antichrist now is, and hath his king­dome vpon the Earth, and shall haue, though eue­ry day more and more ruinated, vntill the day of doome.

These are the points, which he calleth to their memories, which formerly he had taught them, and is faine to teach them ouer againe, and to ap­ply them, as a speciall counter-poyson against that false error, that before was mentioned, concer­ning the neerenes of Christs second comming.

Vers. 9. Whose comming is by the working of Satan, with all power, & signes, & lying wonders.
10. And in all deceiueablenes of vnrighteousnes, among them that perish.

THe Apostle here returneth againe to the de­scription of Antichrist, from which he had di­gressed; shewing the meanes, whereby this Man of sinne should raise himself to his height, and hauing so done should vphold, from time to time this his apostaticall kingdome.

The meanes are Generall or Speciall.

The generall, that he will come with the efficacie of Satan: that is, Satan, especially when he is mounted vp into his chaire of estate, will worke mightily and powerfully in and by him: so that he shall haue all the helpe and furtherance, that Sa­tan can afford him, for the aduancement of his kingdome, euen as if he and all his Champions [Page 110] were inspired with the diuell, and had Beelzebub as a familiar with them, to aduize and execute what they would. No Iuglers or Coniurers, no Witches and Wisards, not the Soothsayers of E­gypt, shall come with that efficacie of Satan that he shall, and therefore it must needes be wonder­full powerfull. As the Spirit of God is effectuall in the ministers of Christ. Col. 1.29. 1 Cor. 14.25. So shall the spirit of Satan be as effectuall, to these ends and purposes in the ministers, and instru­ments of Antichrist.

More particularly he sheweth 1. wherein this efficacie of Satan shall consist, and

2. Vpon whome it shall take hold.

For the former: The efficacie of Satan in him shall shew it selfe, in procuring him all the power and authoritie that may be, and in confirming the same, with lying wonders and miracles, and by all the wicked and impious fraudes and collusions that may be deuised.

Which sheweth, that Antichrist shall be such a one as shall not deceaue of ignorance, but of set purpose; and shall propound to himselfe by all deuices that may be, to drawe men from the truth, against knowledge and conscience. It shall be his glory and joy to seduce men, and to withdrawe them from the true faith of Christ, to the end that he may thereby, the more establish his owne king­dome, and greatnes vpon earth.

2. The persons whome Satan by Antichrist shall seduce, are such as shall perish, as are repro­bates. Iud. 4. Apoc. 13.8. & 9.4. These are the [Page 111] true members of Antichrists kingdome, in whom he shall worke most effectually. So that the more wicked a man is, and the more hated of God, the more subiect shall he be to be deceiued by Anti­christ: and the more that we see men deluded and deceiued by him, the more are we to feare their eternall perdition.

Obiect: What? Shall Antichrist then deceiue none but those that shall perish?

Sol: Yes: euen Gods owne people shall be in Babylon, which is Antichrists kingdome. Come out of her, my people. Apoc. 18.4. But they shall bee most effectually deluded that shall perish. They shall of all other, by the iust iudgement of God, be most abused by him. So that the vitall members of Antichrist, and the peculiar limmes of his kingdome, shall be a damned crue of repro­bates, persons ordained to perdition.

‘—because they receiued the loue of the truth, that they might be saued.’

Here is the reason, why those that shall perish shall thus be deceiued: because they shewed no loue, nor liking, nor would giue any intertain­ment to the truth; but despised the meanes of their owne saluation.

Truth here, is the Gospell, so called

1. In regard of the certaintie and infallibilitie of it: in comparison whereof, all other doctrines & religions are error, and all other humane truths, [Page 112] vanitie and deceite. The Gospell will neuer de­ceiue vs: whatsoeuer it promiseth, shall certainly come to passe; whatsoeuer it affirmeth, shall ne­uer be proued false.

2. In regard of the vse of it: it is the rule of all sauing truth. Whatsoeuer is not ruled and squared thereby, in matter of Saluation and Religion is error.

3. In regard of the effect and efficacie of it: for,

  • 1. It is powerfull to discouer and beate downe all error and heresie, and vntruth whatsoeuer.
  • 2. It is a great and powerfull instrument of God, to worke truth and synceritie in the heart. And where this truth is not, there is nothing but hypocrisie and falshood.

This Gospell then, is Truth it selfe, and yet is nothing ordinarily, accounted more false: wit­nesse the very liues of Christians and such as pro­fesse it.

To entertaine the loue of this Truth, is to enter­taine it with loue: as

  • 1. To hunger and thirst after it;
  • 2. To seek and search after the knowledge of it,
  • 3. To giue credit unto it;
  • 4. To loue and affect all the meanes, whereby it is attained;
  • 5. To bestowe cost vpon it;
  • 6. To reioyce in it, and all those that loue it;
  • 7. To cleaue and sticke close to it;
  • 8. To defend and maintaine it;
  • 9. To growe and increase in it;
  • 10. To expect and looke for all happines, and [Page 113] saluation in and through it.

When men therefore,

  • 1. Desire it not.
  • 2. Neuer seeke after it.
  • 3. Giue no credit to it.
  • 4. Care not for the meanes.
  • 5. Think all cost too much they are at with it.
  • 6. Take no pleasure in it.
  • 7. Flie from it and forsake it.
  • 8. Oppose themselues against it.
  • 9. Stand at a stay in it.
  • 10. Looke not for saluation by it; they are said not to entertaine it.

Where note by the way,

1. That it is not enough to receiue the truth, and giue some kinde of entertainment to it, but we must giue it louing entertainment, if we looke to haue good of it, if we desire to be eternally saued by it.

2. That not to entertaine the loue of the Go­spell, and not to accept of the conditions of salua­tion therein offred, is a fearefull signe of one that shall perish.

More principally we are here to note,

1. What is the cause, why the Lord will suffer Antichrist so far to preuaile ouer the Christian world; to wit, for their vnkinde vsage and con­tempt of the Gospell. All despisers therefore of the Gospell, that entertaine not the loue of it, are in danger to be deceiued by Antichrist, and lye open to his sleights and subtleties.

[Page 114]2. That the best counterpoyson against Anti­christs seducements, is, to entertaine the truth, as was aforesaid. The loue vnto the truth, shall be more able to preserue vs, and arme vs against all the efficacie of his power, though he haue the helpe of all the Diuels in Hell, then if a man had the greatest learning and knowledge that euer any man had.

Vers. 11. And therefore shall God send them strong delusion, that they should beleeue lies,
12. That they might all be damned, that belee­ued not the truth, but delighted in vnrigh­teousnes.

IN these words, is declared the ground and equi­tie of the former iudgement: wherein consider we two points:

1. The iudgement of God vpon such as enter­taine not the loue of the truth. 2. The cause thereof.

The iudgement is this; God shall send them strong delusions, or the efficacie of coosenage, as it may be translated: that is, God will giue them ouer to Satan and Antichrist, and will giue them libertie to deceiue and cozen their soules: so that there were neuer any so cozened, and deluded, and abused as they shall be.

He further amplifieth this iudgement, by the effect and the end of it.

The effect; they shall beleeue lies: they shall in that manner be cozened, that they shall receiue [Page 115] and entertaine, as the eternall truth of God, most grosse and notorious lies and figments, absurd and most palpable vntruths and fables; and so beleeue them, as no euidence or demonstration of truth, shall be able to draw them from the same.

The end, why the Lord doth this; that they might be damned, being by that meanes, drawne with the Deuill and Antichrist into euerlasting perdition.

The cause of this fearefull Iudgement is two­fold:

1. Because they beleeued not the truth. i. would giue no credit to the word of God and the promi­ses thereof, but esteemed them as so many toyes and fables, worthy no beleefe or credit.

2. Because they tooke pleasure in vnrighteousnes: i. tooke such delight and felicitie in those sinnes, which by nature they were giuen vnto, that rather then they would forsake and forgo them, they chose rather to trample all the hope that the Go­spell gaue them, vnder their feet: So affected and well-pleased were they with their naturall corrup­tions, that nothing could bring them out of con­ceit with them.

Whence we may learne;

1. That Antichrist shall deceiue and delude none, further then God giueth speciall commis­sion. God hath a speciall guidance, and gouern­ment, and direction in the seducements of Anti­christ. God deludes not, but yet sends delusions: and if hee send them not, they cannot come. Hee leaueth the seducer, and the seduced togi­ther, [Page 116] ordering both of them to the glory of his iustice.

2. That the Kingdome of Antichrist consisteth of a companie, of cozened and deluded people. Therefore the more that men hate to be deceiued and coozened; the more let them take heede of that sinne that layeth them open therevnto.

3. It is a fearefull signe that God intendeth to damne those, whom he suffereth to be so power­fully deluded by Antichrist. For whom he mea­neth to damne, he is wont to giue vp to a repro­bate sense; that, which they are like soone to come to, that are so powerfully deluded.

And thus of the prophecie of Antichrist, and of the Apostasie, that by his meanes was to be effe­cted before the latter day: the branches whereof, togither with some particular vses, we haue laid open before. Now followeth the maine Vse; which is this, to take heede of this Apostasie, and of that Man of Sinne, which in the same shall be reuealed.

Now this that we may the better doe, we must learne, so far as this Prophecie will helpe vs to finde out,

  • 1. Where this Apostasie is;
  • 2. Where we may finde this Man of Sinne.

First, for the finding out of this Apostasie, we must consider, what properties and notes to disco­uer the same, are laid downe in this prophecie; and then see whether they agree to any state or condi­tion of people, that either hath bin or yet is in the world. For there neede be no question but, vnto [Page 117] what state or condition of people so euer these rules shall agree, that there this Apostasie is.

1. This Apostasie must be a reuolt of Christi­ans from Christ, that is, a departing from the foun­dation of that Faith, Religion, and diuine worship, which was planted by the Apostles in the primi­tiue Church: this is out of question; and appea­reth, as before was shewed, by the title giuen it, vers. 7. the Mysterie of iniquitie, opposed to the My­sterie of the Gospell; and the vse made of it, ver. 15. Therefore, brethren, stand fast, &c.

2. This Apostasie is Catholick and Universall, ouer-spreading the whole face of the Christian world. This is euident by the indefinite speech of the Apostle, vers. 1. by the Confession of all men, euen our Aduersaries themselues, & by the euent.

3. This Apostasie is a Mysterie of Iniquitie, wherein men do not professedly fall from Christ; but vnder the profession of Christ, and in his name, do fight against him in an hidden and artificiall manner. vers. 7.

4. This Apostasie shall be one bodie, and haue a Catholicke head, who shall in that manner rule ouer the members thereof, as Christ doth ouer his Church. vers. 4.

5. This Apostasie was not to be such, on the so­daine, but to begin by litle and litle, and so (by de­grees) to increase, and afterward againe to decrease by degrees. vers. 7, 8.

6. This Apostasie began in the Apostles time: for then it is said, that the Mysterie of iniquitie be­gan to worke. vers. 7.

[Page 118]7. It shall preuaile against those, that loue not the truth and sinceritie of the Gospell, but giue li­bertie and indulgence vnto themselues 'to liue in some sinne. vers. 10.

8. It shall be effected and vpheld with the effi­cacie of Satan, with all power, and signes, & lying wonders. vers 9.

9. It shall be consumed by the Spirit of Gods mouth. i. by the word of God. vers. 8.

All these points are cleare enough out of this prophecie; and if they were not, yet might we well conclude, that where all these may be verified of any Apostasie now in being, that it is either the same with it, or as bad as it. But there is no cause to doubt of any of them: and therefore we are to make no question, but that, these points being true, this Apostasie must needs now be in the world, and that it must needs greatly concerne all Chri­stians, to be warned thereof: As also, that for the finding thereof, we are not to seeke the secret nookes and corners, woods and wildernesses, for it is to spread ouer the whole Christian world.

That this Apostasie then, such as the Apostle here prophecied of, is to be found in the present Church of Rome, is most euident and noto­rious.

For 1. that this Romish Church hath made an Apostasie from the Faith and Religion planted by the Apostles, and that for this 1000. yeares, so that she is no more like to that Church, that the Apostles planted at Rome, then Hell is to Heau'n, may appeare by these Reasons:

  • [Page 119]1. From the difference of the Church.
  • 2. From the difference of the Church gouern­ment.
  • 3. From the difference of the Doctrine.
  • 4. From the difference of the worship.

1. The present Church of Rome holdeth her selfe to be a Catholicke Church, vniuersally spread ouer the face of the whole world, vnto which all true Christians, and Churches doe appertaine as members: so that they are held no true Churches or members of Christ, or Christians, that are not professed members of the Church of Rome, in what parts so euer of the world they abide.

But the Church of Rome, which the Apostles planted, was a particular Church onely, compre­hending vnder it onely those Christians, which dwelt in and about Rome, and not in any other places. For Paul directing his Epistle to that Church, describes it thus, The Saints at Rome; and concludes his Epistle, with Salutations vnto such persons, as inhabited in or about Rome, yea and it was sent from Corinth vnto this Church: which could not be, if this Church were euery where, and had not bin a particular Church.

Againe, this Apostle writing to other Churches, giues them as great, glorious, and respectfull titles and priuiledges, as he doth vnto this Church. Nei­ther doth he any where, in any colorable manner, subiect them to this; but writes vnto them as en­tire, and distinct, and free Churches of themselues; neuer exhorting or mouing vnto subiection or o­bedience to this Church. And if it had bin such a [Page 120] Church, of which all Christians are members, he would (out of question) haue described it, writing vnto it, as Iames and Peter do, writing to the dis­persed Iewes; To the 12. Tribes scattred abroad; To the strangers that dwell through Pontus, Asia, &c. So, To the Church of Rome, and all the members thereof, euen to all the Christians throughout the world. So that this Church of Rome, can no more be said, to be such a kinde of Church, as the Apostles planted, then the whole world can be said to be the Citie of Couentrie, or Lichfield, or London. And for any colour of ought in Gods word, these or any of them, yea this Parish of Stapen-hill, might make as good claime to be the Catholicke Church, as the Church of Rome may.

2. The head-Officers and Gouernors of the old Church of Rome, were the same, for name & office, that were appointed in other Churches. For had they bin Officers of an other kinde, the Apostles would vndoubtedly haue giuen notice of it.

But the Head-Officers of this Church, are such, as whose names and peculiar Offices were neuer heard of in the Apostolicall Churches or times. The Apostles, in their Epistles, do often mention the Church-Gouernors in their times: and yet not a sillable concerning any Pope, Cardinals, Abbots, Moncks, Friers, Iesuites &c. nor any such kinde of Officers. Take these Offices and Officers out of the present Romish Church, and you raze the very foundation of their Church: and yet that [Page 121] Church of Rome, which the Apostle wrote vnto, was perfect and compleat without them.

3. The maine and fundamentall doctrine of this Church, whereby it differs from those refor­med Churches, that haue made separation from it, cannot be iustified by the doctrine of the olde Church of Rome, and of other Churches in those times, comprehended in the Canonicall Epistles of the Apostles: as, Iustification by works, Transubstantiation, Mans Free-will, Abi­litie to keep the whole Law, Merit of works, Satis­faction for Sin &c. It shall not be needfull vpon this occasion, to enter into proofe of particulars. This in generall, may serue for a proofe of all; Her enmitie to the Scriptures, diminishing the au­thoritie of them, as much as she may, preferring hir owne authoritie aboue them; her tying the Scriptures, to what translation she pleaseth, to what sense she listeth; and her keeping them lock­ed from the people, shewes that her fundamentall doctrines are not agreable to the Scriptures, and by consequent differing from the Doctrine of the old Church of Rome.

4. Her principall Worship and Seruice, so far forth as it differeth from our Churches, is as different as may be from that worship & seruice, which is prescribed by the Apostles to the olde Church of Rome, and other Churches. Her Masses, her Dirges, her Trentalls, her Prayers for the dead, her Pilgrimages, Processions, Adoration of Images, Angels, and Saints departed, her Vowes of Virginitie and Pouertie, her Seruice in [Page 122] a strange tongue &c. In these doth her principall worship of God consist. And yet not one of these hath any colour or shadow from the doctrine and worship prescribed in the Epistle to the Romans, or in any other Booke of Scriptures.

2. That this Apostasie of the Church of Rome, is a Catholicke Apostasie, needs no proofe; seeing themselues glory and boast of the Catholicknes of their Religion, especially before Luther, and how generally and vniuersally their Worship and Faith aforesaid, haue bin receiued and professed; neither hath there bin, since the Apostles, any pro­fession so generall and vniuersall, as the Papacie, when it was at his height. In this they glory; But except they could iustifie the truth of their Faith and Religion, this their glory is their shame. For by this meanes they rather argue, that they are not of the true Religion, but of this Apostasie, because there was to be an vniuersall departure from the true Faith, in which case not the true Church, but the Apostaticall must be vniuersall.

3. The Church of Rome hath a Catholicke Head, who in that manner rules ouer the members thereof, as Christ doth ouer his Church. For the Pope claimes to be the Uniuersall Head of the Church, making Lawes according to his owne pleasure, euen to binde the Consciences of all them that are vnder him, of no lesse authoritie then the Lawes of God.

4. The Religion of Popery came not in, all at one time, but by degrees, beginning in the Apo­stles times, and increasing more and more after [Page 123] the decease of the Apostles, as the sinceritie of the true Religion decreased. It is euidently to be seene in Historie, when and by what meanes the grosse and maine points of the Popish Religion came in.

5. It preuaileth, against whom most? Surely, such as euidently shew, that they beare no loue to the word, but are despisers of it, and the mini­sterie thereof. Such in our experience are they, that vse to be seduced; men that are glad to haue any colour to be of any Religion, saue that which is the true, and which crosseth their corruptions.

6. The whole world knoweth with what effi­cacie and power of Satan it hath bin vpheld: how busie Satan was, how oft he appeared in Goblins, Fayries, walking Spirts &c. for the strengthning and supporting of it.

7. It cannot endure the brightnes of Gods word, but melteth before it as Snow before the Sunne.

Hitherto we haue shewed, that the Religion of the Church of Rome is that Antichristian Apo­stasie, that here is prophecied of; because all the notes and marks thereof, doe most liuely agree thereunto, more then to any Religion and Pro­fession in the world besides.

In the next place we are to shew that the Bishop of Rome is the Head of that Apostasie, and that great Antichrist here prophecied of. Which ap­peareth, partly by that which hath bin said before concerning the Apostasie of that Church; & shall more fully appeare by those Notes, whereby in [Page 124] this Prophecie he is described.

The first is this. The Antichrist is a Man of Sinne. i. not onely a notorious sinner in his owne person, but as Satan is; a notable instrument of Satan, to draw men from the obedience of Christ, to sinne and rebellion against God.

This agrees to all the Bishops of that Sea, in a manner, since they became Uniuersall Bishops. It is almost incredible, what monstrous villaines most of them haue bin; and that by the report of their owne Historians. You shall not read of any Sect or Order of men whatsoeuer, amongst whom, so many & such monsters haue bin found, as amongst them; Murtherers, Poysoners of their Predecessors, Simoniacks, Negromancers, Sodo­mites, Adulterers, Atheists, Church-robbers, &c. Yea such lewd persons ordinarily their Popes haue bin, that the time was in those parts, where the Pope most abode, that, when they would note a man for a notorious, extraordinarie Villaine or Knaue, they would say, He is a Knaue or Villaine enough to be Pope. Non est opus instare.

Againe, they are not onely such Men of sinne in their owne persons; but the grand Patrons of sinne in others, and fruitfull parents of lewdnesse. So that it is as it were their trade to deuise, how they may either by lawes force men to sinne, or protect such as are wicked.

He is the great Patron of Ignorance, vsing all the power and authoritie he hath, to keep the peo­ple from the knowledge of God, so that they might not know the right way to serue him.

[Page 125]He forbiddeth Mariage to all his Clergie, which are innumerable, the hundreth part whereof are idle bellies, not forced to any paines, but liuing like Epicures and Swine put vp to feeding: By meanes whereof, innumerable Adulteries, Forni­cations, Rapes, Sodomitries, Murthers of Infants, and other abominable acts are committed.

He vpholdeth and maintaineth Stewes, as it were Colledges and Societies of whores, where­vnto men may freely without punishment repaire: And counteth it better for some sort of persons, to keepe a whore, or to defile an other mans wife, then to haue a wife of their owne.

He counteth some sinnes small and veniall, not deseruing Hell fire; and no sinne so grosse, but that for money he can pardon it: and he can dis­pence with Incest, diuorce at his pleasure, discharg men of their oaths, and absolue subiects from their Oath of Allegiance &c. By meanes where­of, he hath bin the procurer and author of infinite treasons, rebellions, assassinates, poysonings, bloudshed of many thousands, murther of Prin­ces and Potentates, and other the like villanies in all parts of Christendome.

The second Note followeth. He is the Childe of perdition. Wherein is signified that the Man of sinne shall be such an other as Iudas was. And surely Iudas may well be an Emblem, to represent the nature, disposition, and condition of the Popes of Rome, for the most part. Iudas was a couetous wretch, and grudged that any thing should go be­side his bag: so is the Pope. Iudas sought all [Page 126] meanes to betray Christ; so doth the Pope in his members. Iudas, though Christ convinced his Conscience of the vilenes of the fact, and denoun­ced such a wo against him, as might iustly haue ter­rified him, yet for all that held on his wicked purpose: so doth the Pope. Iudas in words and ceremoniall complement most honoured Christ, when he betrayed him: so doth the Pope. Iudas came to an euill end; so haue the most, if not all, of them. Iudas was the instrument of Christs death, and of his owne perdition: so is the Pope. None liue more like men, ordained to destruction then they.

3. The Antichrist here spoken of is one that opposeth himselfe against, and lifteth himselfe vp aboue all that is called God. The Scriptures giue this Title not to God himselfe onely; but to An­gels also Psal 8.5. Hebr. 2.6. and to Magistrates, I haue said, Ye are Gods, saith the Psalmist. Psal. 82.6. This propertie notably in both these respects a­greeth to the Pope.

Concerning the first, nothing can be more eui­dent, whether you respect the Bishop of Romes claime, or his practise.

He claimes to be in all Christian Dominions throughout the world, yea and of the whole world to be the Supreme Head and Gouernour: That Emperors and Kings are but his Vassals and Subiects; that he hath authoritie to place them in their Thrones, and to cast them out againe; to absolue their Subiects from that loyaltie and allea­geance, that they owe and haue sworne to them; [Page 127] that he is as the Sunne, and the Emperor but as the Moone, borrowing all light from him; that he is as Gold, and the Emperor as Lead; that Empe­rors and Kings are but as Sawes, and he as the Sawyer to moue them at his pleasure; that the Emperor is but his Sword-bearer, and his Crea­ture; and the Imperiall Maiestie as much vnder the Popes, as the Creature vnder God.

Concerning practise: hath hee not deposed Kings and Emperors? hath he not made them kisse his toe, hold his stirrop, waite bare-foot at his Pallace-gate, crowned Kings with his feete, made them carry him on their shoulders &c?

Againe, he aduanceth himselfe aboue Angels and Diuels. For he claimeth to be Lord of all in Heauen, in Earth, and in Hell. One Pope in his Bull for the Iubilee,Clement 6. commands the Angels in Heauen, to take such soules out of Purgatorie, as dye by the way, and carry them instantly to Heauen.

And for his lifting vp of himselfe aboue God himselfe, it is as plaine as any other matter. It is nothing with him to be another God on Earth. The Scriptures that are proper to God or Christ, as Esai. 60.12. & 28.16. Psal. 24.1. & 8.6. Ioh. 10.16. & 15.5. & 3.19. Apoc. 5.5. they apply vnto him; and he like the proud Man of Sin admits of them.

Yea, this is all too litle: He is aboue God, and that by his owne claime. He can binde where God looseth, and lose where he bindeth. He can dispense with the Lawes of God, with both the [Page 128] Olde and the New Testament. His word is of more authoritie then Gods word is. And to sinne against his Lawes is (after a sort) to sinne against the Holy Ghost.

Lastly, this Man of Sinne is [...], not a wicked onely, but a lawles person; one that shaketh off all yoke, like a sonne of Belial, that liueth like an Out­law, that refuseth to be ruled by any law, either diuine or humane. But who, more lawles then he that no law can hold either of God or man? That will giue lawes to all, but take none of any? that not onely claimeth power to breake lawes as he listeth himselfe, but can at his pleasure dispense so, not with mans law alone, but with Gods to, that he can make Treasons, Murthers, and Massacres, and the horriblest sins, that Gods law condemnes, acts pious and meritorious, whereby men shall deserue heauen?

Yea, who so lawlesse as he, that not onely refu­seth himselfe to be ruled by any law, but exem­teth all his shauelings, his principall members, from all subiection to lawes and ciuill jurisdiction, though the ordinance of God, that they may liue as they list, in all loosenes and lewdnes, without checke or controll?

And thus we haue shewed, both who is the Head of the Apostasie, foretold by the Apostle in this place, and where, both he and it are to be found.

Vers. 13. But we ought alwayes to giue thanks to God for you, Brethren, beloued of the Lord. -’

HItherto of the Prophecie concerning the Universall & Catholicke Apostasie of Chri­stians, from the true Faith and sincere worship of Iesus Christ, as it was planted by the Apostles; and of that Man of Sinne, that next and immediately vnder the Diuell, was to be supreme Head and Author thereof. A burdensome Prophecie to all that feared God, and such a one as could not but make their hearts heauy, and possesse their soules with much feare and trembling And therefore, the Apostle, before he passeth vnto any other mat­ter, comforteth this Church he writes vnto, and therein laboureth to remoue that feare & sorrow, which this Prophecie might cast them into.

In the Consolation,

  • 1. He propoundeth the maine argument and matter of their Comfort.
  • 2. He maketh speciall Vse thereof.

The matter or argument is set downe,

  • 1. Generally,
  • 2. More specially.

The Effect of the generall Proposition is ex­pressed in the Title he giues vnto them, O yee belo­ued of the Lord: as if he had said, O my Brethren, though the condition of the Christian world shall be fearfull, in regard of the power and tyrannie of that Man of Sinne: yet you neede not to be dis­mayed thereat. For the Lord loues you most [Page 130] deerely and tenderly; and therefore will preserue and keep you from that fearfull Apostasie.

Whence we note;

1. That the more that any Christian man or Church is beloued of the Lord, the more afraid they are of this Apostasie, and of that Man of Sin: and the more they are humbled and grieued to consider the same, and the more they shall feare it, and desire to be armed and strengthned against it, being conscious of their owne weaknes, to with­stand so great assaults and temptations, as also the more they shall mourne and groane vnder the ty­rannie and burden of it, or of any part or parcell of it; the more present will the Spirit of God be, to yeeld comfort & consolation, and spirituall might, and strength vnto them, as here, he is vnto this Church.

And further, the more feelingly that a man shall be perswaded of the loue of God towards him; the lesse cause he shall haue to be dismayed and faint-hearted in regard of this Apostasie. Art thou one belou'd of the Lord? Hadst thou a liuely sense thereof in thy soule? Verily, though by Prophecie it should be reuealed vnto thee, that all thy frends and acquaintance, the whole Towne and Realme where thou liuest, the whole Kingdome, wherein thou art a Subiect, should reuolt from Christ to Antichrist; yea though thine owne eyes should behold it; though thou shouldest see all the faith­full Pastors and Ministers of Christ, and amongst them those that haue bin the powerfull instru­ments of God to bring thee to the sense and loue [Page 131] of God, to fall away from Iesus Christ, and to re­ceiue the marke and character of the Beast: yet in the middest of so fearefull and so lamentable a spectacle, thou shalt finde comfort and strength enough to support thee, though thou stand alone against all the tempests and stormes, that Satan and his Vicar-generall can raise against thee.

Would we therefore secure our selues against such tempests and brunts? Let vs labour to be be­loued of the Lord, and to get vnto our selues all the signes and tokens thereof that we can. For there is none safe from Antichrist, but those, whom God hides in his owne bowels. And if once we feele our selues there, what need we care? They must pull out the Lords owne bowels, that pull vs out thence.

The Apostle amplifieth this loue of God to­wards them, by the effect thereof: as if he had said, My Brethren, you are so beloued of the Lord, that I, Syluanus and Timothie, thinke we can neuer sufficiently giue God thanks for you in that regard. Wonderfull great, must that loue of God needs be towards this Church, that bindeth the Apostle and these Euangelists in so great a bond of thankfulnes vnto God for them.

1. The Apostle did not (though he might) say, You ought, but, We ought: whereby he sheweth; that Gods loue towards this Church, did binde these worthy Ministers in an euerlasting bond vnto God. So that the more loue and grace God shew­eth vnto a people, the more bound vnto God are the Pastors and Ministers of that people. Doth [Page 132] God manifest by any signes, that our people are beloued of him? As though therein we were be­loued of the Lord, we are bound to be thankfull vnto God: yea, not Pastors and Ministers onely, but euery brother is bound in a bond vnto God for the loue and grace that God sheweth vnto a brother. For Paul speaketh this as a Brother, and not as a spirituall Father and Minister. Else he would not haue called them brethren, but children rather; if Gods loue towards this Church had wrought this effect in them, as they were Mini­sters onely. It is the dutie then of euery Christian, to be so affected with the grace, loue, and fauour that God shewes vnto any man, as if himselfe therein were specially bound vnto God; and he had therein himself, receiued a speciall grace and fauour from God. Let vs learne to esteeme our Brothers holinesse, his redemption, his ioy, his glory, his eternall happinesse, and all other signes and tokens, of Gods loue in Christ towards him, as so many parts and parcels of, and additions vn­to our owne. Far be from vs that malignant spi­rit of Cain, vs especially that are Ministers, the more to hate, and to despise, and to disdaine and murmur and grudge and repine at, and persecute our brethren, the more signes and tokens of Gods loue and grace we see in them.

Further, would any of vs know how to binde our true Christian neighbours and brethren in the strongest bonds vnto vs? Let vs vse all the meanes, that we may shew our selues beloued of God. This is sufficient to binde them for euer to be [Page 133] thankfull vnto God for vs. We cannot better de­serue one of an other, then by striuing one to goe before an other in grace and fauour with God.

2. This band of thanksgiuing, though it be for them, yet it is not to them. Its no thanke to any Christian, that he is beloued of God: but all the thanke is due to God himselfe. The cause that we are beloued of God is not in our selues, but in God onely; and therefore is all the thanke due to him.

3. It is an euerlasting thanks, that is due to God: it is a debt that can neuer be paid, either in this life, or in the life to come; but that which must euer be paying, euen in heauen, and more in heauen then on earth, because there, it shall ap­peare indeed how beloued we are. It shall there be so many heauens vnto vs, to behold the heau'ns one of an other. So that to be admitted as spe­ctators of that glory and ioy that is in others, will be vnspeakable joy and glory to vs, tho we had no other cause of either. Such comfort vnspeak­able shall we haue, in the ioy and glory, and happi­nesse one of an other, streaming from the loue of God, that I shall neuer cease magnifying God for thee, nor thou for me. Such mutuall beames and rayes of glory, will reflect frō one vpon an other, that we shall not be able to tell, whether we haue more cause to thanke God for our selues, or for one an other; the ioy shall be so vnspeakable, that the one shall reape by the other.

4. Note here a speciall meanes, sanctified of God, to support our brethren, against the assaults [Page 134] of Antichrist. Let them see that we take notice of the graces of God that are in them; and that we are so affected with them, that we vnfainedly acknowledge our selues bound to be thankfull vn­to God for them. Litle knowest thou, what power there is in this meanes, to support a weake bro­ther, when he shall see, that the eyes of Gods ser­uants are fixed vpon him, that they esteeme his standing as a blessing of God vpon them. The ge­nerall neglect of this dutie, hath no doubt bin the occasion, that Antichrist hath preuailed against many a one, that haue fallen from the sinceritie of religion; because professors make so litle one of an other, the Minister of his people, and people of their Minister, and one of an other.

‘— that God hath from the beginning chosen you vnto saluation, through the sanctification of the Spi­rit and faith in the truth.’

Here followeth the speciall matter or Argu­ment of their Comfort; to wit, the certaintie of their Saluation, wherein specially consisteth Gods loue towards them; and from whence doth arise, that euerlasting bond of thanksgiuing aforesaid. As if he should say, This prophecie, concerning the dangerous times to come vnder Antichrist, neede not dismay you. For your saluation lyeth vpon a solide and firme foundation, against which all the gates of Hell shall neuer be able to preuaile. So that though Antichrist should come with the greatest efficacie of Satan, and with all the strength [Page 135] of Hell against you, yet he should not be able to preuaile against you to your condemnation and destruction.

Let vs consider then, what that firme and solide foundation is, in regard whereof he comforteth them thus. It is expressed in certaine degrees of Gods speciall loue towards them, enwrapped to­gither in these words.

The first degree is this, that God himselfe had chosen and elected them vnto saluation, i. had vo­luntarily and freely, of his owne meere loue and good pleasure, singled and seuered them out of the number of them, which shall be condemned, and had written their names in the Booke of Life, amongst the number of them that were to be sa­ued; and therefore they should not need to feare the power of Antichrist.

Quest. How knew Paul this?

Ans. Either by the euidence and demonstra­tion of that very Spirit, which stirred him vp to write this Epistle; or by some euident effects that he saw thereof in them. But I incline more to the former, or rather hold both.

Hence we learne;

1. That though the world be neuer so ouer­whelmed with Antichristian confusion; though by his tyrannie and poysoned inchantments, he neuer so much preuaile ouer the Christian world; though by his power, he should mingle heauen and earth togither, and all the powers of hell were in his power; yet the Elect of the Lord shall not­withstanding be preserued. The Lord will haue [Page 136] such an eye vpon them, that he shall neuer doe any mortall hurt vnto them. But in the middest of all his furie, they shall be safe, and hold on their way to heauen, though they be oft foyled and ouer­throwne in the way.

2. The certainty and assurance of our election, is a mighty and powerfull preseruatiue against Antichrists Apostasie. It is that, that makes the Apostle vrge the certainty thereof vpon this occa­sion. And this is no doubt, the maine cause that makes Antichrist, and all his wicked limmes, such enemies thereunto. There is none that comes once to be perswaded of this, that he can haue any hope to seduce. And mens carelesnes herein, to make their election sure, is a great cause, that many become such Apostataes. Let vs therefore labour by all meanes to come to the assurance thereof: and then though Antichrist should bring with him Bishopricks, Arch-bishopricks, Cardinalships, Popedomes with him, to allure vs from Christ, & prisons, racks, gibbets, and fires to terrifie and af­fright vs, yet shall he neuer be able to withdraw vs from him.

The second degree is, that God had done this from the beginning. This may be taken either for, from all eternitie, or for, from the fall of Adam. In the one sense, it is taken for the decree it selfe of Election, which is eternall: in the other, for the first act in the execution thereof, out of the cor­rupt masse of all mankinde in Adam. It is needles to contend, whether sense is truer, or more fitteth this place: seeing either sufficiently argueth the [Page 137] vnremoueable loue of God towards them; and the one cannot bee vnderstood without the other.

Now the consideration of this also serueth no­tably to strengthen this Church against the feare of Apostasie. For this election of God was not sudden, or since their profession of the Faith; but it was a matter decreed of God from all eternitie, and began to be executed while they were in the loynes of Adam, before they had any personall being. So that the loue that God beares to his elect and chosen ones, is not a sudden and a rash loue, like fire in straw and dry thornes, that makes vpon the sudden a great crackling, and blazeth, but is as soone almost out as in: But it is an ancient loue, an old affection, yea a loue and affection as old as himselfe: As soone as euer he was, and he euer hath bin, he loued them. And therefore there is no cause to feare, that he will suffer Satan or Anti­christ so far to preuaile against them, that are so aunciently beloued of him: Seeing there can be no cause in them, or vs now, to make the Lord to cease to loue vs, but what hath bin present be­fore the Lord, when he began to set his loue on vs, and would as well haue moued him then to refuse vs, as now to reject vs.

Note withall, by the way,

1. That this may serue as a speciall signe of one elect from eternitie, that Antichrist is not able to preuaile against him, to withdraw him from the sinceritie of his Christian profession.

2. That so long as Antichrist preuaileth against [Page 138] any, so long litle hope thereof can be had.

The third degree followeth, which consisteth in the meanes, that God hath ordained for the at­taining of that saluation, which from the begin­ning he hath elected them vnto.

The Meanes are

  • Inward.
  • Outward.

The first inward meanes of Saluation, is Sancti­fication; which is the puritie of the soule, from such filth and pollution, as it is capable of; or a conformitie of our wills, vnto Gods reuealed will, whereby the image of God is renued againe in vs. He is an holy and sanctified man, that is afraid to do any thing, that God would not haue him to do, yea that he doth but suspect that God will not approue, and whose whole studie is how, in all things he may please God.

Whence we may learne;

1. That these two, Sanctification and Saluation, are not seuered in Gods Election; but go togi­ther. Those, whom God in his Election hath de­creed to saue, he hath also decreed to sanctifie; and his Election is not grounded vpon our holinesse, but our holinesse vpon his election. So that this Sanctification is the very first act, and entrance in­to our Saluation. So long as we are in sinne and vnsanctified; so long are we in the gates of Hell, yea in Hell, though in Heauen. But when once we begin to be sanctified, then are we within heauen-gate, we haue one foote, as it were, ouer the thre­shold, yea though we were locally amongst the damned, and amidst all the Diuels in Hell. In [Page 139] regard whereof, one once said well, in my minde, though a Papist, that he had rather be in hell without sinne, then with sinne euen in heauen.

Now, this Sanctification is described by the Author thereof, the Spirit of God. By the power of that Spirit, whereby they were elected to sal­uation, they are also sanctified. And this Sancti­fication is a worke of God, as well as Election, and not an act of humane power or will. Otherwise, there were small comfort in this, if we were elected to saluation, through such a sanctification, as were of mans owne will onely. For what hope could we then haue, to stand forth against all the tempta­tions and assaults of Satan and Antichrist? This sanctification therefore is of Gods owne Spirit. He is the first mouer in the same. Which argueth, that there is in this sanctification, a diuine efficacie and power indeed, such, as against which, all the gates of Hell are not able to preuaile. For it is not a dead or senseles qualitie of the soule, but a qualitie that hath a Spirit in it, that turnes and moues about, all the motions that are in a mans soule. And where Gods owne Spirit turnes the wheele one way, it passeth the strength of all the Spirits in Hell, to turne it an other way. So that whosoeuer feeles these motions in him (for they are not dead and senseles motions) may thereby assure himselfe, that he is one of Gods elect; and one, that though Antichrist should mingle heauen and earth togither, yet shall he not be able to pre­uaile against him to his ruine and confusion.

Note withall, that it being the sanctification [Page 140] of the Spirit, man cannot merit thereby For what can man merit with God, by that which he hath from the Spirit of God, and for which therefore he standeth bound and endebted vnto God?

The second inward meanes, is, Faith in the Truth. Whether this be first or second in nature, I will not stand here to discusse: according to the diuers acceptions or degrees of sanctification, it may be in nature before or after; but in time they are togither. There can be no true sanctification of the heart, till faith be in the heart; nor can there be faith in the heart, before there be sanctification there.

Now this is then, when the sanctifying Spirit of God doth in that manner reueale vnto the elect childe of God, so much of Gods will, as is need­full for him to know and practise for his owne sal­uation, that he assenteth vnto it and embraceth it. This Faith and Sanctification go hand in hand to­gither. The motions of a sanctified spirit, goe no further then the light of this truth, and this eye of faith doth direct. And what neede they feare to be seduced or drawne out of the way, that haue such a Spirit to moue them, such an eye and light, and rule to direct them?

Vers. 14. Wherevnto he hath called you by our Go­spell, to obtaine the glory of our Lord Iesus Christ.’

THe outward meanes, whereby the inward meanes were wrought, was the Ministerie of [Page 141] the Apostles and Euangelists, which he calleth their Gospell. Whereby he declareth, that whatso­euer they ministred to the people, it was the Go­spell: and therefore that we, that are Ministers, should tread in their steps, and minister that onely to Gods people, that we may avow to be Gospell.

By this Ministerie, being nothing else but the Ministerie of the Gospell, were they called (saith the Apostle) to sanctification and faith in the truth. The Gospell then, yea our Gospell .i. the Ministerie of the Gospell practised and instituted by the Apostles, is Gods owne consecrated instrument, whereby the Spirit worketh sanctification & faith. Thus doth the Lord honor his Ministerie: So that they which are the despisers thereof, neuer had any true faith or sanctification; and therefore are a prey to Antichrist. And surely who are they, that he preuaileth against in our Kingdome? Are they not manifest despisers of this ordinance? For as for those that are called by the same vnto san­ctification and faith, they cannot but honor it as the blessed instrument of their conuersion and eternall saluation.

He sheweth further, wherein the end of this their Ministerie consisted, in calling of them to the obtai­ning of the glory of Christ. i. of that euerlasting glo­ry and happines by Christ, which Christ our Head himselfe in Heauen now enioyeth.

So that this is a notable meanes to debase the glory of Antichrist, to fix our eyes on the glory that Christ hath purchased for vs, and is entred [Page 142] into heauen to take seisen and possession of, in our behalfe. And surely one maine cause, why a many are so carried away with the glittering shewes of Antichrists pompous estate, is because they haue not their mindes set, nor the eyes of their soules fixed, on that wonderfull, and vnutterable and in­conceiuable glory, that for all Christs faithfull fol­lowers is prepared in heauen. All the glory of Antichrist, would be vile in their eyes, if they so did.

Vers. 15. Therefore, Brethren, stand fast; and keepe the instructions, which you haue bin taught, either by word, or by our Epistle.’

THe Use and Application followeth. As if he had said; Seeing you haue so great mat­ter of comfort, Brethren, stand fast, &c.

Wherein we are to consider these 3. things.

  • 1. The dutie that he exhorteth them vnto.
  • 2. The ground of the dutie.
  • 3. The meanes of performing of the dutie.

The dutie is, that they stand fast. It is a meta­phor borrowed from Souldiers, who in brunt of battell gather their strength togither, that they may not be ouerthrowne. So he would haue them to do, to gather togither all the strength they can, that they may stand against the brunt and storme of Antichrist.

Whence we may learne,

1. The beloued and elect of God shall bee powerfully and strongly assaulted by the Man of [Page 143] sinne, and in great danger to fall into the Aposta­sie aforesaid, if they looke not vnto them­selues.

2. That they must therefore gather all their force and strength togither, to stand strongly to the defence of the true faith and religion, that no tempests and stormes may remoue them from it.

2. The ground of this dutie is implied in the word, Therefore: i. Seing that the Lord hath ele­cted you &c, therefore stand fast.

The doctrine then of the certainty of our sal­uation, and of our election, is not a doctrine of se­curitie; but it hath this nature, in whomsoeuer it is found, to stir vp men so much the more to stand to the truth. So that the more that a man is assu­red of his saluation, the more he will striue to keep the faith. So that if he should see his name writ­ten in the booke of life, yet would not this make him wax secure, but so much the more carefull to please God, and so much the more resolute against the enemies of God. If a man should know that his body were in that case, that he could not be slaine in battell, howsoeuer he might be wounded, maimed and hurt, would that make him to yeeld himselfe to his enemies, or to suffer them to wound and hurt him? Would it not rather make him fight so much the more couragiously.

3. The meanes follow of performing this du­tie, whereby they and all other may stand fast.

The first is, that they hold fast, or lay a sure hand, (as the word signifieth) vpon the Apostles Traditi­ons. These Traditions are all such Ordinances [Page 144] of religion and diuine worship, as were taught and established by the Apostles and Euangelists, whe­ther by word or by Epistle. For vnto them, whom the Apostles with their owne mouths preached, their words were of equall authoritie with their writings. But with vs, to whom they neuer spake, their writings onely are authenticall, and not their words, because we know not what they spake more then they writ.

1. The duti [...] then is this, to lay hold with both hands on the doctrine of the Apostles, and not to suffer any part or parcell thereof to be wrung forth of our hands.

2. This shewes the meanes, whereby Anti­christ hath so much preuailed; for that men haue not held fast the Apostles traditions, but the Chur­ches of Christ haue suffred now one Ordinance, and then an other, to be wrung out of their hands.

Vers. 16. Now the same Iesus Christ our Lord, and our God, euen the Father, which hath loued vs, and hath giuen vs euerlasting consola­tion, and good hope through grace;
17. Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in euery word and good worke.

THe second meanes of standing fast is in the hand of God: and it is twofold.

1. Consolation of the heart. Except the Lord from heauen send a comfortable and cheerefull heart, that it be not daunted and terrified, one shall hardly hold fast. Whereas so long as the Lord [Page 145] comforteth the heart, so long we shall vphold and maintaine the faith.

2. God must also establish vs, and confirme vs in euery word and good worke, that we may so carry our selues in word and deed, that we giue no ad­uantage to the aduersarie. For if Antichrist can trip vs in either, he will giue vs a dangerous blow.

The Apostle therefore concludeth this matter, with a prayer to Iesus Christ, and to God the Fa­ther, stirring him thereunto, by mention of that free fauour of his toward them, whereby in Christ he hath loued them, and giue them euerlasting conso­lation, by putting them in good hope of eternall sal­uation through grace. Thereby teaching vs, that the maine ground of our assurance of future and further mercies from God, ariseth from the consi­deration of his former fauour and loue toward vs. And that therefore we must labour to get assu­rance of the one, if we desire to haue our faith confirmed and strengthned in the hopefull expectation of the other.

And thus much of the fourth part of this Epistle.

THE THIRD CHAPTER.

Vers. 1. Furthermore, Brethren, pray for vs, that the word of the Lord may haue free passage and be glorified, as it is with you.’

THE fift part of this Epistle follow­eth, which is a petition; wherin the Apostle becōmeth an earnest suter vnto the Church that he writes vn­to. And what doth he sue for? For their prayers. He entreateth them that they would pray for him, & for Syluanus and Timothy his fellow-labourers. And to the end that he might obtaine his desire, he calleth vpon them by the name of Brethren, as he hath done twise or thrise in this Epistle already. Wherein we must not thinke, that the Apostle, according to the common vsage of this age, doth it onely for courtly com­plement; (a thing far from the disposition of that Spirit, by which he writ this Epistle) but he doth vnfainedly desire this office at their hands, as a principall fruit of their brotherly loue and affecti­on towards him, and as a matter whereby he ex­pecteth [Page 148] a speciall blessing from God.

Whence we may learne these lessons:

1. That it is the dutie of Christian brethren, mutually to pray one for an other vnto God their Father. Paul he prayes for the Thessalonians: and he prayes them to pray for him. The brethren in Christ doe mutually merit one an others prayers, when they pray one for an other. Doe I pray vnto God for thee? I haue therein deserued that thou shouldst pray for me. The wages of an hired la­bourer are no more due to him, then thy prayers are due vnto me. And thou shalt answer at Gods tribunall vpon an action of debt and default of payment, if thou answer not the same. Though I should not pray for thee, yet art thou bound to pray for me: the Lord hath laid this law vpon vs, to pray euen for them that persecute vs, and to blesse them that curse vs: How much more are we then to pray for them that pray for vs, and to blesse them that blesse vs?

And as this is a mutuall dutie and debt that one Christian owes to an other: so ought all Christians to make that reckoning of this debt, as that they should (vpon all occasions) demand and require it, and not remit or forgiue it. We can demand our temporall debts, and will thinke much to remit a penny in the payment of a great summe. But for this spirituall debt, we can be content to let it goe and neuer demand it. Or if we do at any time de­maund it: it is but for ceremonie and fashion: we care not whither men pay it or no. This shewes (beloued) that we make no reckoning or account [Page 149] of an others prayers. For if we did, we would oft­ner demand them then we do: And the rather, be­cause the debt is of that nature, that the more we vrge the payment thereof, the more we fauour the person indebted: & the more we neglect to vrge the same, the more wrong we doe vnto him. For there is no prayer that he makes for vs, but he ob­taines thereby as great a blessing for himselfe as for vs.

2. If we desire that others should pray effectu­ally vnto God for vs; let them see that we esteem them as brethren; and let vs so demeane our selues towards them, as they may esteeme of vs as brethren. For howsoeuer the prayers of the faith­full may do good to them that as yet are not bre­thren in Christ: yet is there a more liuely feeling of the efficacie and power of prayer, and of the sweet influences of Gods graces obtained by them, when professed brethren pray one for an other. And onely by their prayers can we looke to get good that are our brethren. For otherwise their prayers are an abomination to God, and their blessings in themselues but so many curses.

3. The prayers of the faithfull are the common goods of the Church. And there are none so high and great in fauour with God, but they stand in neede of the prayers of others, euen of their infe­riours. Behold here Paul; a great Apostle of Iesus Christ, that had bin rapt vp into the third heauen, and there heard things vnutterable; he that had the Spirit of Prophecie, and the gift of working miracles, and who was in a singular manner illu­minate [Page 150] in the mysterie of the Gospell, and inspired to be a pen-man of holy Scripture, desires the prayers of this poore Church. Would that Spirit, by which he writ this Epistle, haue suffred him so to haue done, but that through the same Spirit, he had a liuely sense of his owne neede, and a confi­dence that he should be the better blessed by meanes of them, and that God would for their sakes shew the more fauour vnto him? There are none therefore so low & meane in Gods Church, but the highest may be beholden to them for their prayers. Paul here desires the Thessalonians to speake to and entreat God for him and his fellowes.

This should teach vs to stir vp this gift in our selues, and highly to esteeme the prayers euen of the meanest of Gods seruants. For if the Spirit of God taught Paul to make that reckoning of them, much more ought we, euen the Ministers, who as we are many degrees inferiour to Paul, so doe we by so many degrees more need the helpe of the prayers of the meanest of Gods people; euen we, I say, that are Ministers do need the prayers of our people; and the people need to pray for their Minister: yea the meanest of them must learne to be Orators vnto God for him, if they looke to reap fruit by his labours. And this no doubt is one maine cause, that the Lord doth no more blesse our labours vnto you, because you neuer pray for vs; nay, because many of you cannot pray for vs.

The Apostle doth not onely in generall require [Page 151] this Churches prayers; but he giues them speciall directions concerning the matter of those prayers, which he would haue them to make for him.

Wherein in generall, and by the way he teach­eth, that if Ministers will looke to reap fruit from the prayers of their Churches, they must teach and direct them how to pray, and informe them in the speciall matter of their prayers. We must not onely call vpon men to pray, but we must teach them how to pray,Luk. 11 1. as both CHRIST and IOHN taught their Disciples. It is very fitting and ne­cessarie, that Christians should haue directions for prayer, yea and for the further helpe of their weak­nes, set formes of prayer also, though they are not to be tied onely vnto them, and stinted & streitned so as they may not vse any other prayers; but ac­cording to the practise of our Churches, that pre­scribe and vse set formes indeed, but are not so li­mited or tied to them, but that they may and doe vse other conceiued formes also, as occasion is offred, contrary to the calumniation of our separa­ting Brownists.

The speciall matter, he directeth them to pray for, is

  • 1. a propagation of the Gospell.
  • 2. the meanes thereof.

And

  • 1. That it may haue a free and speedy pas­sage in all places:
  • 2. That it may be glorified else where also, as it was among them.

The word here translated free passage, and that not vnfitly, signifieth a running as it were vpon wheeles. So that he would haue them to pray that [Page 152] the Gospell of Christ might haue a swift course, and might most speedily, by the meanes of him, and the rest of the Apostles and Euangelists, be caried throughout the world, as it were vpon the wheeles of chariots drawne with winged horses.

Obiect. Why? this concerneth the Lord him­selfe and his owne glory, to let his owne word haue a free passage. Will he send Embassadors into the world, and not giue them safe-conduct, when he hath supreme authoritie & power to do what he will? But must men beg and intreat the Lord, that his owne word may haue passage, which so much concerneth himselfe?

For answer hereunto we are to know, that the propagation of the Gospell, concerneth our good as well as Gods glory. And it is for our sins, that he doth not make a way for the passage thereof: and therefore he looketh that we should stir him vp to giue passage to it by our prayers.

Whence we may obserue;

1. That the faithfull Ministers of God, desire and endeuour nothing more, then that the Gospell may spred it selfe, and may haue prosperous suc­cesse in all places. So that they do not thinke they haue done their dutie, when they prea [...]h, when and where a dore is opened vnto them but they desire, and vse meanes, that the Gospell may be preached, where a dore is shut against it: yea they count it the greater aduantage vnto them, the more the Gospell is propagated. And those (out of question) are the Ministers of Antichrist, and not of Christ, who labour so much as lies in them, [Page 153] to put fetters and shackels vpon the Gospell, that it may not so freely haue his course, and that stop the passages and wayes thereof. And far are they also from Pauls spirit, that will not preach at all, no not in those places, where not onely they haue a free passage and liberty, but where they are bound vnto it by the lawes of God and man, and by their owne faithfull promise. It is a signe that such men make no reckoning, of the Lords word or the propagation of it. But this is the height of the desire of all faithfull Ministers and people in this life, that the Gospell may haue liberty and spread it selfe, and haue euery where a free passage without opposition.

2. We learne, that the prayer of Gods Chur­ches and people, is an effectuall meanes, for the procuring of the liberty of the Gospell. We see how many lets and impediments the Gospell hath: how hardly, without the losse of some lim, or the wrenching of some member, it can passe any way; the passages are made so streit; there are so many ditches cast vp in the way, so many se­cret pits digged, &c. This the Lord doth to stir vp his people to prayer. And no doubt, the want of prayer, is one maine cause, that the Gospell hath no freer passage.

Neither must men post off this dutie to the Mi­nisters thereof onely, but euery Christian, how meane so euer, must performe it. Paul no doubt prayed himselfe for this. But he intreateth these Christians also to pray. And happily the Lord may heare the prayers of a simple plaine Christian, [Page 154] when he neglecteth the prayers of them of grea­ter note; yea he may yeeld the rather to the prayers of Paul for the prayers sake of these poore Thessalonians.

3. Be the meanes neuer so worthy and excel­lent, yet without Gods speciall assistance, the Go­spell shall finde impediments enough. Paul him­selfe, a man of admirable endowments, whose ex­cellencie, one would haue thought, might haue broken through all impediments, was not able to do it, but was faine himselfe to pray, and to set others also a worke to pray, that the Gospell which he did carry, which had so many graces at­tending vpon it, might finde free passage. If there­fore all the Ministers of the Gospell, had each of them as many Graces and Muses attending vpon their ministerie, as Paul himselfe had; yet they must not looke that the Gospell which they bring, should find in all places, and amongst all persons, present intertainment: nay happily, the greater gifts, the greater opposition. If Paul himselfe, ac­companied with Siluanus and Timothie, should cary the Gospell from village to village, nay if CHRIST himselfe, in his humane nature, should preach in our streets, and worke neuer so many miracles for the confirmation of the Gospell; yet except God ioyne his hand vnto this worke, it will finde no passage. How doth our Sauiour mourne ouer Ierusalem? What fearfull woes doth he de­nounce against Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Caper­naum, where he had often preached, for denying passage vnto the Gospell? Ministers therefore are [Page 155] not to be discouraged, when either the course of their Ministerie is interrupted, or the Gospell which they preach is not admitted. It was Pauls case; it was Christs owne: and theirs it would be, if they were in thy place. They that will not heare thee, would not heare Paul, or Peter, or Christ, if they should stand in thy roome.

The Apostle would not onely haue them pray, that the Gospell might haue a free passage, that is, that it might speedily without any let, runne and spread it selfe speedily in all places; but secondly, that it may be glorified, and in that manner glori­fied, as it was amongst the Thessalonians. He would not onely haue them to pray, that himselfe and other the Apostles might haue liberty to preach the Gospell in all places; but also that it might finde glorious entertainment in all places, as it found already in many famous and renou­med Cities, especially this of Thessalonica. It is not enough then, that the Gospell hath sounded in our eares, that we haue heard wisdome in our streets and gates lifting vp hir voice, but we must glorifie and honour it, and that according to the patterne of this Church.

Let vs then breifely consider, wherein the glo­rification of the Gospell consisteth: and therein follow the patterne of this Church, so far as Paul himselfe giueth testimonie of them in both these Epistles.

To glorifie the Gospell therefore, as these Thessalonians did, is

1. To hearken vnto it, to receiue, and to beleeue [Page 156] it not as the word of man, but as it is indeed, the word of God: so did this Church. 1. Thessal. 2.13. & 1.5.

2. To be moued and perswaded thereby, to forsake our sinnes of what nature soeuer, euen our Gods, our idolatry. This Church left their Idols to serue the liuing God. 1. Thess. 1.9.

Vers. 2. And that we may be deliuered from vnrea­sonable, and wicked men. —’

THE second part of his direction followeth, which is deprecation. Wherein he requireth them to pray against a speciall euill, that they were in danger of, by meanes whereof, the free passage of the Gospel was in danger to be greatly hindred, and the glory thereof much defaced. The depre­cation is this, that they may be deliuered from vn­reasonable and wicked men.

The word translated vnreasonable, is vnder­stood of such as we call grosse, shameles, impu­dent, peruers, and peeuish men, such as care not how grosse, vile and absurd they shew themselues, so they may compasse their owne wicked wils.

The word translated wicked, by deriuation, sig­nifieth, such as put good men to labour and trou­ble, and thereby vse all meanes to vex and disquiet them: which is indeed a speciall propertie of a wicked man, and that principally, which we call wickednes. From such persons, as these, Paul de­sireth to be deliuered, and to this end, desires the prayers of this Church.

[Page 157]Whence let vs note these points following:

1. That those which principally oppose the Gospell of Iesus Christ, hindring the free passage thereof, are shameles, vile and absurd men, such as care not what men thinke or speake of them, so they may bring about their lewd desires; men whose industry and labour is spent, in bringing la­bour & molestation and vexation vpon them, that will not run forth with themselues into the same riot. And the Gospell, the more it sheweth it selfe, the more will it discouer the shamelesnes & grosse­nes and wickednes of them that are the enemies thereof. So that they, which (before the publishing thereof) haue had the name of modest, wise, dis­creet men, shall (the more they oppose against the same) shew themselues the more absurd and wick­ed. No modest, no good man can be an enemie to the Gospell, but such onely as nourish in them some grosse wickednes, which the Gospell disco­uereth; in regard whereof, they hate the Gospell, and all good meanes of the knowledge thereof. And out of this hatred of the Gospell, & desire still to hide their sinnse, the more they seeke to hide them, the more they discouer them.

2. There was neuer any time of the Gospell so happy, as to be free from such lets and impedi­ments, euen in the primitiue times thereof, when it was most purely and powerfully preached, and shined in the fulnes of glory without the staines and blemishes of mans inventions; yet were there impudent, shameles and grosse men, that opposed against it, and hindred oftentimes the free passage [Page 158] thereof. And therefore neuer let vs looke to see those happy dayes, wherein the Gospell shall haue no let, but shall haue a free course.

And further, be the persons that cary the Go­spell neuer so worthy, of neuer so eminent gifts, speaking with neuer such euidence and demon­stration of truth; yet all this will not suffice to get the Gospell a free passage: But were all the Ministers of Christ of as worthy gifts as Peter and Paul; yet should they finde faces that durst and would resist them, and despise the Gospell brought by them. Yea the worthier gifts that a Minister hath, and the more Graces he commeth attended withall, the more opposition shall he finde.

We should not therefore be dismayed, when we meete with grosse and wicked men, hauing the Apostles, yea Christ himselfe for our companions therein. But let vs learne by our owne prayers, & by the help of others to seeke to be freed from them: And let vs assure our selues, that there is great force in our prayers to that end, both for owne and others deliuerances. And when we see wicked and peruerse men preuaile against the Go­spell, let vs feare that we are defectiue in this dutie; and let it stir vs vp the more vnto the same. These are the weapons, wherewith we are to fight for this libertie. Thus are the flocke to fight for their Pastor. And these are such weapons, as cannot be taken from the seruants of Christ. And they are such, wherewith they so wound the aduers party, as they cannot saue themselues.

‘— For all men haue not faith.’

In these words he preuenteth a secret doubt, that might arise in their mindes, vpon the depreca­tion aforesaid. For they might maruaile with themselues, what should be the reason, that any should be so peeuish and wicked, as to molest them, for bringing so acceptable a message as this; especially they hauing such gifts and abiliments, to make good the same vnto the heart and consci­ence of any reasonable man He therefore telleth them, that Faith belongs not vnto all. i. all haue not grace giuen them of God, to beleeue and imbrace the Gospell: and therefore that such will be sure to oppose themselues against the doctrine of it, and with might and maine hinder the free course thereof. For which cause he would haue them in this regard to pray for him and his fellow-labourers.

Whence we learne;

1. That there are some sort of men, to whom Faith doth not appertaine, and by consequent, Saluation, whereof Faith is the euidence. The Holy Ghosts phrase is more then our translation soundeth; for Faith may appertaine to them that haue it not: but it may more fully be translated, Faith belongs not to all; but it is a gift that God in mercy will bestow vpon some persons onely, euen vpon those alone, that he hath resolutely pur­posed to bestow heauen vpon, and vpon no other. Hence is it called the faith of the Elect. Tit 1.1. And in [Page 160] the Acts it is said,Act. 13. [...]8. that so many as were ordained to life euerlasting, beleeued.

1. The Vse hereof, may be to stir vs vp to striue to know whether we be amongst the number of them, vnto whom Faith appertaineth. For till then we cannot know, whither we be of the number of them that shall be saued.

2. Hence it appeares, that it is not in the power of any outward meanes whatsoeuer, to beget faith in them, vnto whom it belongs not. If Paul him­selfe should preach the Gospell neuer so sincere­ly and powerfully; if he should confirme it with neuer such miracles; yet were not this enough to beget faith in them. It is the Lords owne imme­diate worke to bow and frame the heart vnto the word. Otherwise the more powerfully it is prea­ched, and by the more miracles it is confirmed, the more peeuish and wicked, men shew them­selues against it. Else it could not be, but all men, that the Apostles preached vnto, should haue faith, if the outward meanes alone were suffi­cient.

Which sheweth the vaine conceits of them, which thinke they may easily beleeue, when they list themselues. Whereas except the Lord giue the gift, they should not beleeue, though lying on their death-beds, they should haue Peter and Paul preaching to them. And what hope can men haue, that God will bestow that gift vpon them at their death, which when he offers them, they despise in their life.

3. It is a fearfull signe of a man that Faith be­longs [Page 161] not vnto, when he sheweth himself a wicked and vnreasonable man towards them that preach the Gospell: when men set themselues to hinder the free passage thereof, and hate and persecute the Ministers of it. This is argued here by the Apostles reasoning.

And on the contrary side, it is a comfortable signe of one that faith belongs vnto, if he loue and entertaine the Gospell, and aduance the free pas­sage of it. For there is no reprobate, but to his power he hates and persecutes it. Many wicked men and infidels are quiet indeed, but the reason is, because they want power and authoritie, or God by some secret worke restraineth their rage.

4. Hence we learne the true cause, why men are so vnreasonable and wicked against the Go­spell, that no godly man can safely and securely preach it among them: it is infidelitie. And a godly man had as good liue among Tigers and Beares as such.

And againe, that Faith maketh men gentle and quiet: so that no man can hope here to liue happi­ly and quietly, but in the society of them, with whom he must liue for euer. And therefore let vs desire to ioyne our selues in society to such, with whom we shall finde content in this life, and con­uerse eternally with, in the life to come.

As also, let it not discourage vs, that so few doe beleeue, seeing that Faith belongs not to all.

Vers. 3. But God is faithfull, who will stablish you, and keepe you from that euill one.’

HEre followeth a second preoccupation, wherein, lest that vnderstanding what oppo­sition the Ministerie of the Apostles was to haue, whereupon their faith was grounded, they should feare by this meanes to fall from the faith; he therefore comforteth & strengthneth them from the assurance of diuine assistance; as if he had said; Let it not trouble you, that our Ministerie, shall in this manner be opposed, neither feare you ship­wrack of your faith: For had the Gospell, which you professe and beleeue, neuer so many enemies; and were you that beleeue and professe it neuer so weake, yet the Lord will support and defend you himselfe.

Whence we may note;

1. In generall:

1. That it is the propertie of true beleeuers, and of all them that haue receiued the sauing grace of God, to feele their owne weaknes, and the fee­blenes of Gods graces in themselues, and in the sense thereof to feare exceedingly the losse of Gods graces in themselues. The couetous man cannot so much feare the losse of his goods, as he or she that is truly called, doth feare the losse of grace. Which sheweth, that Faith, Hope, Re­pentance, and all other sauing graces attending vpon them, are so louely, and bring such sweetnes and content with them, that he that once hath [Page 163] them, would neuer by his good-will part with them: and therefore pray they, Lead vs not into temptation.

This then is a great signe of grace, to be afraid to loose it, and in that regard to be jealous ouer a mans owne corruptions, and to feare them; and not to satisfie himselfe in the graces receiued, but to desire to haue them multiplied and increased. And on the other side, a fearefull token it is, of one vtterly destitute of grace, not to feare the losse of grace;Phil [...]p. 2.11. we must worke out our saluation with feare and trembling. See 2. Pet. 1.5, 10.

2. It is the dutie of Christians, especially Gods Ministers, to vse all good meanes to hearten and incourage the Saints of God, who feare their own weaknes, that they may not be ouerwhelmed with feare; but that they may go on in the course of a Christian life with hope & confidence amids all terrors and feares.

More particularly; he doth not say, that they are strong and sufficiently armed of themselues; but that they shall be established and defended by the Lord: Neither doth he put them in hope, to be defended from all whatsoeuer euill; but that they shall be defended from that euill one, So 1. [...]. [...].13. mea­ning the Diuell: And for their further securitie herein, he telleth them, that the Lord is faithfull, he hath promised it, and therefore will per­forme it.

Whence we learne:

1. That the strength of Gods children to perse­uere in grace, is not in themselues, and in the [Page 164] strength and power of their owne heart and soule, but in the hand of God: and therefore Christians must not encourage themselues or other, in the confidence of their owne strength and power, but of the strength and power of God in Iesus Christ. For let God neuer so litle forsake his childe, and leaue him to himselfe; and there is no sin so foule that he may not fall into: And therefore, let vs al­wayes feare in regard of our selues, and hope and trust onely in respect of God.

2. Consider here a double worke of God,

  • 1. To establish a Christian,
  • 2. To defend him.

There are some buildings, in regard of the weak­nes of them, and the mixture of bad and rotten matter, so infirme, that of themselues (vnlesse they be supported and propped) they cannot stand, though they be not assaulted with windes and stormes, or though men do not set their force a­gainst them to fire or batter them. And second­ly, others, though neuer so strong, yet in time of warre they may be ruined, if they be not by some other power defended and protected. In like manner here, partly in regard of our owne weak­nes and mixture of corruptions, and that in some more then in others, as also partly in regard of the furious assaults of the aduers party, which the best of themselues were neuer able to with-stand, we haue neede of double aide and assistance from a­boue, partly to support vs in regard of the one, and partly to protect vs in regard of the other.

3. The party that Christians are most to feare, [Page 165] is that euill one, the Diuell. They need not care for all the power of wicked men, they can but hurt the body; but he mischieues the soule. And so long are we free from the Diuell, as we can keepe our soules from sin. Neither can Christians any longer be free from him, then God himselfe shall with his owne power support them, and fight for them. Otherwise such is our corruption & weak­nes, that all the Saints and Angels in Heauen, would not be able to keep vs from the power of Satan.

4. All sincere Christians may assure them­selues, that God will so stablish and defend them against that euill one, that he shall neuer be able to preuaile against them, vtterly to ruine them, or Gods grace in them. God hath promised to pr­tect them, and hath pawned his faith on it, which is as sure and as vnchangeable as himselfe.

Vers. 4. And we are perswaded of you through the Lord, that you both doe, and will doe the things that we command you.’

HItherto of the Apostles first petition or ex­hortation: a second followeth; wherein, vnder a godly confidence in them, he closely ex­horteth and entreateth them to do the things that he had giuen them in charge: as if he had said, I earnestly beseech you, that you would do those things, which from the Lord I haue giuen you in charge, euen as now also you do. Which petition of his hath some dependance vpon the former [Page 166] consolation: For vpon that condition might they hope that God would stablish them and defend them from that euill one, if they were carefull to do those things that the Apostles enioyned them.

Now what was it, that the Apostle and his fellow labourers, Syluanus and Timothy enioyned them, but to obey the Gospell, which contayneth precepts of Faith and Repentance from dead works?

1. Therefore it is the dutie of Christian men, if they will be sure of Gods protection & assistance against Satan, to do those things, and to do them constantly, that are taught them by the Apostles & Euangelists in the Gospell; yea that are taught them by their owne Ministers out of Gods word. God, as he is faithfull in himselfe, so he stablisheth those that be such. No other can hope for prote­ction from him; but are exposed vnarmed to the power of Satan. To do the things enioyned by the Apostles of Christ, is the onely meanes wher­by we may blesse our selues from the power of the Deuill; other courses are but mockeries, of the Diuels owne deuising.

2. It is the office of Ministers, to hope the best of the piety and perseuerance of their people, where they discerne any good thing in them. That which also, it is fit for them to make knowne to their flocke. For by this meanes will the soules of the godly be the more incouraged to goe on in that good course that they are entred into. And on the other side, the peoples faith oft groweth faint, when they perceiue that their [Page 167] Pastors hope waxeth faint of them.

3. The confidence which they vse, and ought to haue of the perseuerance in well-doing of o­thers, though neuer so godly, hath not its ground in themselues, but in God. For it is of God, not of our selues, and our owne meere will, that we do that, that is acceptable vnto God. The Apostle therefore trusteth in the Lord of them, he trusteth not in them themselues. Those then, that the Lord hath decreed to stablish and defend from Satan, those doth he enable (by the power of his grace, and the instinct of his Spirit) to perseuere in such good works, as by his Ministers they are enjoyned.

4. Out of this certaine faith and assurance that God will thus stablish and defend them, the godly ought not to grow retchles, but to be the more diligent and carefull to yeeld obedience to the Ministerie of the Gospell.

Vers. 5. And the Lord guide your hearts to the loue of God, and the waiting for of Christ.’

NOw that through Gods helpe they may con­stantly perseuer in the practise and perfor­mance of those things, that by the Apostles were enjoyned them; the Apostle wisheth vnto them the principall meanes, whereby they may perseuer in Euangelicall obedience to the Ministerie; to wit, that their hearts may be directed by God to the loue of God, and the patient expectation of Christ.

[Page 168]By the LORD here seemeth to be vnderstood the Holy Ghost; as by GOD, God the Father. And so haue we the three persons here distinctly set downe.

The word [...], signifieth by a right line to direct one to somewhat. Now the Lord is said to direct the heart, when he turneth it to some thing, causing it to affect it and delight in it, which before it was estranged from, and abhorred.

[...].The patient expectation of Christ, is such an ex­pectation of him, as whereby expecting all benefit by him, we are incouraged patiently to endure any thing for him.

Hence we gather:

1. That these two things are principally ne­cessarie vnto godly perseuerance, such as was spo­ken of before, the loue of God, and the patient expe­ctation of Christ. For the loue of some good thing past or present, and the expectation of some future good, are wont to make vs more cheerefull in the doing of our duties. Vnlesse therefore a mans heart be inflamed with the loue of God, whom in the Gospell he yeeldeth obedience vnto; as also vnlesse he be possessed with an earnest expectation of Christ, and a longing for him, that so he may worke with much patience in hope of reward; our Euangelicall obedience will soone wax faint. But a heart inspired with these graces, will stir vp the whole man to do euery thing commanded in the Gospell with all constancie. And contrari­wise, where this constancie of obedience is not, it is a signe that this loue of God, and this expecta­tion [Page 169] of Christ is wholy wanting in the hearts of such.

2. That euen the hearts of the faithfull are in their owne nature estranged from the loue of God and the expectation of Christ; insomuch that they would wholy swerue and wander from either, were they caried by their owne proper motion, which would rather cary them to an hatred of God, and a despaire of Christ.

3. The heart is directed, disposed and moued by God alone, who directeth it as by a streight line to the loue of himselfe, and to the expectation of Christ, i. of eternall saluation in and by Christ. Would a Pastor therefore haue his people perse­uere in well-doing according to the precepts of the Gospell? Let him by earnest prayer intreat of God, that he will be pleased to direct their hearts to the loue of himselfe, and the expectation of his Christ.

Vers. 6. We charge you, brethren, in the name of the Lord Iesus Christ. —’

HEre beginneth the sixt part of this Epistle; which containeth a Christian reprehension, laid downe in forme of a denunciation.

And it is

  • Generall. vers. 6.-11.
  • Speciall. vers. 11.-16.

In the generall denunciation come to bee considered,

  • 1. The manner.
  • 2. The matter.

[Page 170]In the manner he sheweth,

  • 1. With what affection,
  • 2. With what authoritie he vseth this denun­ciation.

1. His affection appeares in the title of brethren, which he oft repeateth in this short Epistle; there­by teaching how necessarie it is for the edification of others, that our brotherly loue towards them do oft appeare to them. Neither can we hope that either our exhortations or admonitions, much lesse our reprehensions should preuaile ought with others, vnlesse they be heated with brotherly loue, and appeare euidently to streame from a heart fraught with it. Euill therfore performe they these offices, whose admonitions and reprehensi­ons are dipped in gall and vineger. And yet alas such are the reproofes of most Christians, nothing for the most part but purgations of their owne rancor and choler.

2. His authoritie followeth; He chargeth them in the name of our Lord Iesus Christ, that is, by that authoritie which he had from Christ. He giueth no charge in his owne name, but in the name of Christ, his and their Soueraigne Lord. Wherein we are taught, that our denunciations and repre­hensions, if they be truly Christian ones, must be grounded vpon the authoritie of Christ: And Ministers ought to take heede, that they presume not to reproue ought, but what they haue in charge from Christ to reproue. It beseemeth not a Minister, to come in the name of any other. And it is an hainous sin, for a man to come in the name [Page 171] of Christ with a counterfeit charge; and in his name to deliuer a reproofe hatched in his owne braine.

Furthermore, how dreadfull are those denunci­ations, that are truly done in this Name? and what a contempt of Christ himselfe is it to set light by them? Those that charge ought in the Kings name, by vertue of their authoritie from him, though but meane men otherwise, are not wont to be contemned, vnlesse it be of desperate ruffians & roisters: what desperate wretches are they then that dare despise & set light by them that enjoyne ought in the name of Christ? And yet alas, how many euery where are there, that no more regard such denunciations done in his name, then the hissing of a Goose?

‘— That you with-draw your selues from euery bro­ther that walketh inordinately, and not after the instruction, which he receiued of vs.’

The matter of his denunciation followeth: which is this, that they withdraw themselues from disordered persons. Wherein is contained a close reprehension.

By brother, he vnderstandeth a Christian in ex­ternall profession, and a member of the visible Church.

To walke, is to liue, and to hold on a continued course of life. A metaphoricall speech very vsuall in Scripture, and therefore needing no further ex­plication.

[Page 172] [...], inordinately. [...], or persons inor­dinate, are such as obserue not that order, that by the rule of reason, and right of law is prescribed them: and it seemeth to be taken from souldiers, that keepe not their order, by their Captaine assi­gned them, that breake their ranck, and so breed a confusion in the whole Band. Here it is applied vnto such as are of dissolute behauiour, and will not endure to be kept within compasse of their dutie and office.

To withdraw themselues from them, is to abstaine from society and familiarity with them; not to conuerse familiarly with, but to cary themselues strangely towards them.

The meaning of the words then is this, that they should hereafter forbeare and cease to haue familiar conuersation or acquaintance with all such, though professing the same religion that they did, which liue loosely, and not according to those rules and courses, that in the Gospell are prescribed.

Whence we learne:

1. That it is the dutie of all Christians to liue orderly, and not as they list themselues. They must in their life and conuersation, and in the whole course and tenor of it, obserue a due and decent order, and shun all disorder, as contrary to true Christianitie.

2. That there were euen in the times of the A­postles, amongst those that of their own accord, without any external constraint of the Magistrate, [Page 173] gaue their names vp vnto Christ, some that walked disorderly, & would not endure to be kept with­in the lists & limits of their duty. How much more then may the like be expected in these times, wherein, the most professe Christ more for feare of mans law, then of their owne free accord? It is neuer therefore to be hoped, that any Churches, be they neuer so well constituted, will be free from all scandals and offences▪ In this Church, as well constituted as euer any, yet were there some pro­fessors, who by their bad behauiour, stained and blemished the Gospell professed by them.

3. That the company and familiarity of such is, as the plague it self, to be shunned. For this ve­hement manner of denunciation euidently shew­eth, not onely that Christian men are hardly with­drawne from the society of such;See 1. Cor. 5.6, 11. but that it is exceeding dangerous to cleaue to them, and to be inward with them. Now how far forth this sepa­ration ought to reach, we will shew when we come to the 15. verse.

In these words, and not according to the doctrine deliuered by vs, the Apostle expoundeth himselfe what he ment by walking inordinately, to wit, not to cary ones selfe according to that instruction that the Apostle had giuen. The Apostles then are as guides vnto vs; and their writings, since the de­cease of them, the rule and square of our course and life; from which to walke aside, that is, in a continued and ordinarie course to swerue, is to walke inordinately.

They are not therefore to be accounted to walke [Page 174] inordinately, that yeeld not to our pleasures and our traditions, but that neglect those instructions and institutions, which they haue receiued from the Apostles, as deliuered by them, and ours so far as we can proue them to agree with those.

Vers. 7. For ye your selues know, how ye ought to follow vs: for we behaued not our selues inordinately among you.’

HEre follow two Reasons of the former re­prehension.

The effect of the former is this:

  • To liue disorderly is far from the example of my selfe, and my fellow-labourers, Syl­uanus, and Timothie, when we were among you.
  • They are not therefore to be imbraced by you, but to be forsaken of you, that take a contrary course.

The Antecedent of the Argument is in the 7. verse: the consequent is to be repeated out of the 6. verse

From the Antecedent we learne, that the higher place Christians haue in the Church, the lesse it beseemeth them to liue disorderly: yea rather the more regard ought they to haue to their life and conuersation in the Church of God, and the more be subiect vnto law and order. For how odi­ous a thing is it, both in the sight of God and man, that he, whose office it is to keepe others in order, should liue beside law and out of order himselfe? [Page 175] With what indignation speaketh this our Apostle of such Rom. 2 21? It is not sufficient therefore, for Ministers and Teachers, that by word of mouth they teach; but by examples also, they ought to goe before their people: yea so ought their liues to be composed and addressed, that ech one of their actions should be as a lesson of instru­ction, and resemble that which they teach.

Such therefore let vs all studie and striue to be, Teachers especially, that the actions of our liues may be precepts, & doctrines, and documents of piety to those, whom (by vertue of our vocation) we are to liue among. Let vs endeuour by our godly conuersation to gaine that authoritie, that by our actions men may argue this to be euill, be­cause we eschew it, that to be good, because we doe it.

Hence are those Teachers iustly reproued, that thinke it enough that they teach the truth, though they follow it not themselues. And these much more, that neither teach by word nor life: But those most of all, that both by word and life per­uert, and incite others to impiety and disorder. And how many such there are, too too wofull ex­perience daily sheweth.

Out of the Consequent of this reason we learne, that Christian men ought in speciall manner to be­ware, lest they seeme to approue or fauour the courses and customes of such, whose liues not the doctrine only, but the practise of the Apostles and Euangelists doth condemne. Pauls care of kee­ping good order, sufficiently condemned the [Page 176] disorderly cariage of these Thessalonians. The rest therefore offended in fauouring them, whom Pauls contrary practise taxed and controlled. Do we liue then among men, whose life and conuersa­tion is repugnant to the life and conuersation of the holy Apostles? Let vs take heede, lest by our familiaritie and society with such, we seeme to set light by the examples of the Saints, and by our practise commit that, that may seeme closely to approue, what their practise hath disapproued and condemned. A fault among Christians too fre­quent, who are wont commonly to delight and make themselues merry, with such vitious courses and cariages of lewd and bad men, to wit, obsce­nitie, scurrilitie, lying, drunkennes &c, as are most repugnant both to the doctrine and the liues of the Saints. This ought to be a reason sufficient vnto vs, to disswade vs from so doing. The holy Apostles in their exemplary course of life, eschew­ed all obscenity, scurrility, swilling & drinking &c. and therefore we will withdraw our selues from those that affect such courses, we will not take de­light in them, or make our selues merry with them, giue the least signe or shew of liking vnto them; howsoeuer we must of necessitie beare and endure them, vnlesse we would goe out of the world.

In those words, For you know, &c, is a proofe of the Consequence of the former reason.

  • You ought to follow vs; and in your Con­sciences you know that you should.
  • Therefore when we keepe far from all [Page 177] such disorder, you ought not to approue it by your companying and familiarly conuersing with such as liue disorderly.

Out of the Antecedent whereof we learne:

1. That all Christian men ought to frame their liues after the patterne of their Pastors and Tea­chers, in those things, that are agreable to godlines and good manners. Neither may we take liberty vnto our selues, in those things, that are repugnant to the courses of our good Minister. Ye ought, saith the Apostle, to imitate vs, to wit, in our course of life and Christian conuersation. Many thinke that a sober, spirituall and christian life, is required of the Ministers of the Church onely, and that a loose, idle, couetous, ambitious, hypocriticall life is odious and abominable in them, but is lawfull and seemely enough in themselues. But looke what euill-becommeth a Minister, euill-becom­meth thee too, if thou beest a Christian; since thou oughtest to frame thy life after the patterne of theirs, else were the Apostles rule and argu­ment here lame and vnsound. In blessed manner therefore do they order their liues and courses, who in their life and courses resemble the godly Ministers of Christ; insomuch that they differ not from a Minister, but in his function and office of teaching onely.

2. That Christian men are bound to liue according to that they know: and it is a shame for them in ought (at any time) to swerue from it, which yet this worthy Church in some things did, and the best Christians alwayes haue done. Let vs [Page 178] therefore diligently striue to walke according to that we know. Do we know that we ought to imitate the Apostles? What a shame is it then, for any Christian, to be in his life and behauiour con­trary to them? The like may be said of other vi­tious courses. You know you should not imitate vngodly men and infidels in surfeting and drun­kennes &c: you know that fraud, & deceit, & lying and dissembling &c, are hatefull and odious in Gods eyes: how vnworthy a thing then is it for you, that professe your selues Christians, against Gods will, and in despight of him, as it were, to follow such things?

Out of the Consequent we learne, that not to with-draw our selues from those that liue inordi­nately, is to liue inordinately. Else the Apostles reason should not hang well togither. For the Apostle calleth to imitate himselfe; whom, but those that do not, as is fit they should, with draw themselues from those that liued inordinately? And what should they imitate in him, but this, not to liue or walke inordinately? They liue there­fore inordinately, that liue familiarly and con­uerse ordinarily with such as liue inordinately.

Vers. 8. Neither tooke we bread of any man for nought —’

HEre is a confirmation of the former Antece­dent. For hereby the Apostle proueth, that he and his fellow-Ministers liued not inordinate­ly, because they tooke bread of no man for nought: [Page 179] that is, they were so carefull to liue according to rule and order, that they tooke no bread to eat of any man, but what they paid for. In this point of liuing orderly, the Apostle instanceth, because some members of this Church sinned in the con­trary, as hereafter we shall see.

But what is this? may some say. Is this disor­derly liuing, for a man to eat freely of an other mans bread? Is it lawfull for a Christian man to eat nothing, but what he payeth for? Is not this to take wholy away all hospitalitie, liberalitie, kind­nes, curtesie, humanitie, almes, Christian society & fellowship?

But we are not so to vnderstand these words, as if alwayes and euery where it were vtterly vnlaw­full for a man to eat or drinke of free cost. Loue-feasts, and almes, and hospitalitie &c, are com­mended and commanded in Scripture, and that by Paul himselfe too. But to what end, if a Christian might not lawfully, at some times, make vse of them? What would be more harsh and distastfull to a free and bountifull disposition, then to make offer to pay for that meat or drinke, that he hath (in friendly manner) invited vs vnto, or not to eat of that we are invited vnto? How distastfull would it haue bin to Lydia, when she so earnestly intreated Paul to take his repast with her, if he had refused, or had offred money for his meat? Yea Paul himselfe confesseth, 2. Cor. 11.7, 8, 9. that he spoyled other Churches, taking consideration of them, to spare the Corinthians, and to do seruice vnto them. And he defendeth his practise, and the [Page 180] like in others at large, 1. Cor. 9.4, 6, 13, 14. Phil. 4.15. Gal. 6.6. 1. Thess. 5.13. 1. Tim. 5.17. Heb. 13.7.17. But CHRISTS owne example is beyond all exception, who, at other mens tables, oft eat bread of free cost, in that very sense, that the Apostle speaketh in this place: yea & receiued from some women too, that ministred to him, of their sub­stance. Luk. 8.2, 3.

It is not therefore simply, but in regard of cir­cumstances onely, vnlawfull of free cost to eat an other mans bread. And Paul (in regard of some circumstances) would not eat of free cost, that is, refused to receiue consideration, wages and allow­ance, and doth thence argue, that he liued not dis­orderly among them, that, wherein he propoun­deth himselfe to be imitated of them.

It is not alwayes therefore agreable to Christian order and cariage, for men, to eat other mens bread and meat of free cost, though they be freely and willingly thereunto invited. There is no doubt, but that many in this Church, would right willingly and gladly haue spared, as we say, out of their owne bellies, for Paul to haue eaten: and yet would not Paul take ought of free cost. Yea though it were an vnworthy and an vncourteous behauiour in some cases, to offer money for the meate and drinke that we take of others, yet ought we to take it with a purpose and desire at least of gratifying them againe, and of deseruing it, and by how much the lesse we may satisfie them for it in the like kind, by so much the more in some spiritu­all manner be carefull to recompence their gift a­gaine. [Page 181] But far are they from Pauls disposition in this case, that daily deuour of free cost, and for nought, other mens bread, without any purpose or desire to deserue it: they much more, who though they receiue it of free cost, and without a­ny kind of desert, yet receiue it grudgingly and vn­thankfully with an euill will.

And surely, this may be a great glory, either to a Minister, or to any Christian, if he can say, that he hath not eaten any mans bread for nought. And it ought to be a crosse to a godly minde, to be driuen by necessitie, to take stipend or allowance freely and without desert of any man. In regard where­of, an ingenuous disposition will choose rather to rest content with slender fare gotten by his owne labour and desert, then to liue liberally and plenti­fully at other mens cost.

‘— But we wrought with labour, and trauell night and day.—’

HE proueth hereby, that they took not bread of any man for nought, because they wrought with labour and trauell night and day: that is, they earned their liuing by some manuary and mecha­nicall worke, as, by tent-making, or the like.

But here, it may not without good cause be de­maunded, if the Apostle had taken allowance for his paines and labour, in preaching the Gospell, whither he had taken it for nought or no.

I answere; No, in no wise. The Apostle Paul himselfe both affirmeth and confirmeth the con­trary [Page 182] in the places before alledged. But he addeth this ouer and aboue that which before he had said: As if he should say; we not onely preached the Gospell diligently to you, which was enough to merite meate and drinke of you, but besides that with our owne hands we earned our liuing, and that with toile and trauell.

Where first obserue we the condition of these holy Apostles, how poore and bare, and needie they were, and destitute euen of the necessaries of this life.Act. 3. Gold and siluer I haue none, saith Peter to the lame criple. He had not so much, it seemeth at that time, as might serue to giue for an almes to a begger. And yet begged he not neither, no not so much as in shew: for then would not the criple haue asked almes of Iohn and him, or hoped of ought from them. Though therefore they were not amongst the beadroll of beggers, yet they hardly kept out of it. At some time they had not so much as a pennie to bestow vpon the poore. Yea, sometime for pouertie and want were they compelled to put their hands to seruile workes, and thereby to maintaine themselues, and supplie their owne wants. Whom would it not strangely affect, and work no small commiseration in, to see such great and so famous Doctors and Teachers of the Church, toiling and moiling, digging and deluing, following the plough, or the cart, or it may be, sowing of garments, and that with much paine and trauell, night and day, not for couetise and base desire of gaine, but constrained to doe it for meere want and necessitie. The condition of [Page 183] the poorest parson or vicar among vs is hardly so hard, as theirs was, that were iustly esteemed prin­cipall Apostles.

Which may teach vs, to be content with our e­state, and not to murmure against God, though we be neuer so worthie, and haue beene neuer so li­berally brought vp, yet if he shal see good to bring vs to that pouertie and penury, that we shall bee compelled to worke night and day for our liuing. And let vs learne to thanke God, if it bee better then so with vs. But far be it from the Ministers of God, when they may liue well and maintaine their charge, without such labour and trauaile, yea when they haue sufficient to keepe themselues and their families not in meane and bare manner, but in li­berall and plentifull sort, to be yet ambitiously minded, and ayming at greater matters, chopping and changing of Churches, a great benefice for a greater, and adding benefice to benefice, and af­fecting and aspiring to temporal honors and high places, as if they were worthier then Peter and Paul, and their gifts greater matters then theirs.

2. That it is not a thing vnlawfull for the Mini­ster of the word, not contrary to his calling, in case of necessitie, to labour hard, euen night and day, in worldly employments. They ought in­deed, so much as in them lies, to forbeare, and not to entangle themselues in worldly affaires, but giue attendance to reading, as Paul else where aduiseth. But yet, if they be oppressed with want,1. Tim. 4. it becom­meth them to labour as wel as others, and it is part of the entaxie or good order that they are tyed vn­to.

[Page 184]3. We see what other Christians then in want and necessitie, much more ought to doe, that de­sire to liue religiously, rather labour night and day if they can, for their liuing, then to eate other mens bread of free cost. They must not beg, or require to be fed freely by others, but labour night and day rather with paine and trauaile, as wood clea­uers or the like. That which seemeth to condemne to hell, the life and course of begging fryers, whose manner is not to labour, but to begge other mens bread.

4. The Apostle did not onely for his liuing so labour, but that he might liue to preach the Gos­spell. So 1. Thess. 2.9. Let not therefore pouerty compell vs to leaue our ministrie: but when other­wise we cannot conueniently and honestly main­taine our selues, let vs euen be content to worke with our hands, that we may with the Apostle preach the more. Labour then about earthly things, is not a sufficient reason to excuse and free vs from the worke and exercise of our ministrie, but we must so labour that we may preach. And albeit it were easier for the Apostle endowed with such gifts as he was, to preach profitably to the people after such distractions as these; yet euery Minister, that is in any measure fit for this functi­on, ought so to be instructed in the mysterie of the Gospell, that euen on the sodaine, and as the pre­sent occasion shall require, when necessitie shall require it, he may be able in wholesome manner, to speake vnto his people. Diuines ought not to be worse furnished then Physitians or Lawyers, [Page 185] that are able to speake somewhat on a point of their Art propounded, if neede be, vpon the so­daine.

‘—because we would not be chargeable to any of you.’

He rendreth here a reason, why he laboured so much in that manner, not for filthy lucre sake, and loue of worldly wealth, to increase his substance; or out of a pride, because he would not be behol­den or engaged to them for ought, but that he might not be burdensome to them.

Wherein 1. he doth intimate the pouerty of this Church, that had not sufficient (without some burden and charge) to maintaine Paul. For what? did he vse to exceed so in apparell, and retinue, and costly fare, that the maintayning of him should require some large expence? Surely he would ne­uer then haue taken such paines, or could he with his paines haue compassed so much as might suf­fice for such expence. Small procurations, no doubt, would haue sufficed Paul. How poore then was this Church, that being blessed with such wor­thy Teachers, had not wherewith to maintaine them, without being pinched by it? The dignitie and excellency of a Church therefore is not to be measured by worldly wealth and riches, by the outward state of her Ministers, by a silken, a rich, and a glorious Clergy, but by the piety of it, and the meanes of saluation, and Christs institutions, the freenes and plenty of them in it.

2. The Apostle not obscurely implieth here, [Page 186] that this Church ought to haue supplied the wants of Paul, and the rest of his fellow-labourers there, and to haue afforded them competent meanes of maintainance: else would he haue said, that you might not by reason of your pouertie com­plaine of a greiuance. There is no doubt there­fore, but that they likewise ought to haue wrought night and day for Paul and the rest of them, that they might haue thereby bin maintai­ned. And surely, it is fit rather that the people should worke for their Minister, then the Minister for the people. The Christian people therefore ought euen to burden themselues for their Mini­ster, rather then ought that is necessarie should be wanting vnto him. That whereunto Christians are more bound now a dayes, by how much the lesse Ministers are now able to doe ought without stu­die, and by how much the more danger there is now of their being corrupted, if they shall further then is fit, enwrap and entangle themselues in worldly affaires.

3. It is the Ministers part to be burdensome to himselfe rather then to his people. He ought to consider rather his peoples abilitie then his owne worth: and ought to haue a care, that the Gospell may bring with it as litle greiuance as may be. All is not to be accepted, that of some may be offred: that is not to be exacted, that can hardly be affor­ded. It is not the part of a Christian, to take al­wayes of one that is both willing and able, yea and ought to giue, much lesse to exact, where it is not to be had without much grieuance. It is odious [Page 187] in any Christian, much more in a Minister, if other­wise for necessitie and without scandall he may, to eat other mens bread of free cost, though it were offred him; (for all men ought to beare the same minde that Paul did) much more ought they to abstaine from extreme and rigid exactions, though of their dues. The Shepherd is rather to feed, then to feed vpon his sheep, and to fleece them but not to flay them.

Vers. 9. Not that we had not autoritie.—’

HE preuenteth here a scandall, that might hence arise. For lest some should hence ga­ther, that the Minister were bound to take no al­lowance from his Church, but to worke for his li­uing with his owne hands; he saith, that it was lawfull for him to haue taken of them; and that herein he had departed from his owne right, be­cause he would not be burdensome to them.

Whence we learne:

1. That a Minister may lawfully require a iust allowance from his people, and that euen then when without some burden to the Church, it can not be made good. The Apostle so departeth with his own right, as yet he doth not thereby impeach the right of others, or approue the sacriledge of such, as thinke they may lawfully pinch, as they say, on the Parsons side, and with-hold or with-draw what they can by force or stealth from them, as if nothing at all were for their Ministerie due vnto them; or as if their maintenance were [Page 188] nothing but meere almes and beneuolence, or gra­tuities onely. Let sacrilegious Patrons consider this.

2. It is the part of all Christian men, Ministers especially, not alwayes to exact, what in strict ri­gor is their due, but some time freely to depart from their right; yea euen rather to worke night and day, then to exact that in some case, which both Gods law and mans also doth giue them a right vnto. But how much more ought Christian men to abstaine from all vniust & vnlawful exacti­ons, and such as are contrary to all right & reason?

‘— But that we might make our selues an ensample vnto you to follow vs.’

He rendreth a reason here, why though he might, yet he did not take, to make himselfe an example for them to follow. 1. It was no singular fact therefore that concerned an Apostle or an Euangelist only; but such as concerneth euery Christian that liueth in the Church; who in this very point ought to follow the Apostles fact as a patterne, in departing from his owne right, rather then ouer-burdening his brethren, and not in necessarie precepts onely. Many thinke that it is the dutie of Ministers to de­part in part from their right, and not to contend for the vtmost that is due to them, nor to maintaine suites with such as with-hold their right from them, but to indure any hard measure and wrong rather then by courses of law to seeke to recouer their right: when in the meane while, they thinke [Page 189] it lawfull and fit enough for themselues to exact their owne with all extremitie, euen whatsoeuer the highest straine of legall rigor shall wring out to them, from any; and they thinke that they haue giuen a sufficient reason of what they do, if they can but say, that they did it by law, and exacted but their owne, no more then was due to them. Yea it were to be wished that many went no fur­ther then so, euen of those, that are yet readiest to condemne the Ministers of the word, if they come any thing neere so far as to demaund their due, and that where it may well enough be had. More certaine it is, that Ministers ought to take heede, that they deale not ouer strictly in such cases, as the Apostle here speaketh, & so to cary themselues herein, that they may be an example to others: but so that all men are bound to tread in their steps, & follow them in this point as well as in others.

2. It is the dutie of Ministers, to get that respect and honor, if it may be, in the eyes of their flocke, that they may be incited thereby to follow their examples, and count it an honor to them so to do. And looke what virtues they most of all require in their people, they ought themselues to put on, and so to put them on, that they may shine in the peoples eyes with them. The like may be said of the eschewing of vices. Would we haue our peo­ple to be iust, pious, courteous, liberall, peaceable, &c? Let vs be our selues examples vnto them of such virtues. Would we not haue them to be pro­fane, malitious, couetous, vniust &c? Let vs eschew such vices our selues, and be examples also therein vnto them.

Vers. 10. For euen when we were with you, this we warned you of, that if there were any that would not worke, he should not eat.’

HItherto of the first Argument of his repre­hension taken from the contrary example of the Apostle himselfe: Now followeth an other reason, to wit, that this their indulgence was di­rectly contrary to the Apostles doctrine. For on this wise he argueth:

We when we were with you, warned you, that if there were any that would not work, he should not eat.

Therefore yee ought to withdraw your selues from such as in that point walke inordinately.

Here is a manifest sentence set downe by the Apostle, that idle persons are not to be borne with, nor to be fed and maintained among Christians: but if they haue strength and abilitie of bodie to labour, labour they must. Where the Apostle yet speaketh not of impotent persons, or of such as are willing to worke, if they were able, but of such as will not though they be able; such as albeit for strength, and actiuenes, & yeares, they might pro­fitably apply themselues vnto honest labour, yet choose rather to liue an idle wandring life, without any Christian calling at all. It is no Christian cha­rity therfore to bestow our bread vpon idle & lazie persons, that will not lay hand to any worke. The Apostle was full of Charity & mercy, when as ra­ther then he would burden this Church, he chose [Page 191] to labor with his own hands himselfe: And yet a­middest this his charity he both taught and inioy­ned, this pious crueltie, as some might account it, that they should not eate, that would not worke, so farre forth as they were able. For so should we iudge of such persons as refuse to liue by their ho­nest labors, as of those that are well worthy to pe­rish. So that we are no more bound to feed such, then to feede Wolues, or Foxes, or Mice & Rats. And those that bestow their almes vpon such, can expect no fruite thereof at Gods hands againe, but wrath and iudgement rather; because they bestow euill & dispose amisse, those things that God hath committed to their trust.

Let vs therefore take heed how we condemne those as voide of charity that refuse to giue bread to idle and sturdy beggers: for it is to condemne the doctrine of the Apostle himselfe in this place. And againe let vs take heede, least vnder pretence hereof we deny them almes, who by their worke, are not able to supply their owne wants.

Vers. 11. For we haue heard, that there are some that walke inordinately with you, and worke not at all.’

HEre followeth a speciall reprehension, or a reason rather of the former generall re­proofe: wherein he reprehendeth them more par­ticularly, for that they suffred some to liue idle among them, not working at all. He meaneth some professors of religion, that vnder colour [Page 192] thereof, led an idle, and a lazie life, liuing on the sweat of other mens brows, and abusing the almes and charitie of the Church, to maintaine them in their idlenesse. A sore plague to the Church; and such an one as it hath neuer beene free from. For there are and euer haue beene some, who after they haue taken vpon them the profession of the Gospell, and perceiue that they are for the same in some reckoning with the godly, doe thereupon begin to conceiue so highly of themselues, as if it were too base a thing, and not befitting their pro­fession, to labour any more for their liuing, and as if the Church in regard of their profession, stood bound to maintaine them. Hence it commeth to passe, that many that are in the condition of ser­uants, grow slacke oftentimes in their dutie to­ward their masters, as if there ought not so much to be expected at their hands as of others: where­by it commeth to passe, that many, to the scandall of the Gospel, haue found care, diligence, industry, and painefulnesse in the doing of their businesse, and in the discharge of their duty, in such seruants, as make little shew of religion, then in the most of them that are professors. Who especially, if they haue lighted vpon religious masters, are wont to presume vpon much idlenesse and indulgence vn­der them. But such professors are not to be en­dured in the Church; but are as inordinate liuers, to be admonished and reprooued; that we may make it knowne to those that are enemies to reli­gion, and willing to take any occasion hereby to reproach and twit it withall, that our Religion ap­proueth [Page 193] not, but vtterly condemneth them, and all such as they are.

Hence therefore seruants, and such as haue not wherewith to liue in good fashion, making pro­fession of religion, must be admonished, that they take great heede, how they presume and promise to themselues, as if it were lawfull for them, to leaue their callings, and liue on other mens labours. Nay rather, the more that they professe Christian religion, the more are they bound to earne their liuing by their labour: And the more they labour, that they may not be burdensome to others, the better God ac­cepteth of them. Insomuch, that the baser and meaner worke thou art imployed in, for the getting of thy liuing, and the maintainance of thy life, the greater fauour shalt thou finde with God. For it is not with Christs seruants in this world, as it is with the seruants of No­ble men. They are not exempted from labour and seruitude. It is not a thing vnbeseeming the best Christian that is, to serue euen a Swine­herd. Yea he is tyed to that calling, if therein or thereunto he be called. Nor doth his cal­ling to the Christian faith, with-draw or exempt him from the vilest office, that in this life may be, so it be honest and lawfull, be it neuer so base.

‘— but are busie bodies.’

The Apostle in these words describeth the very wonted nature and disposition of such: the ele­gancie of his phrase can hardly be in any other language expressed: and he seemeth to speake contradictories. For how can those that do no­thing be said to be busie-bodies? Yet certainly such is the manner and disposition of these men: the lesse they do that they should, the more busie are they about those things that belong not vnto them; they are wholy imployed about other mens affaires, and about such things as litle or no­thing at all concerne them. Very seldome is the one vice seuered from the other. For are these idle professors idle, thinke yee? Nothing lesse. But the lesse they labour with their hands, the more they worke with their tongues: they are talking of other mens faults, taxing other mens manners, prating continually of the publike state of the Church and Common-weale, as if the maine bur­den of both of them lay vpon their shoulders. But would we haue our profession of religion ap­proued by the Apostles rule in this place? Let vs learne [...], not [...], to worke, but not to be busie bodies; which yet is the fault of most Christians, and of those many times, that are for­wardest in profession. Howbeit, let vs not togither with this vice, wherewith profession is oft tainted and foyled, cast profession away it selfe, but learne rather to adorne it with such pious and apostolicall [Page 195] virtues, as may well sort with it, and be a grace and honor vnto it.

The Apostle saith, that he had heard this, whither by common fame, or by priuate relation, its vncer­taine: either might deserue credit.

1. It is not against Christian Charity, sometime to reproue vpon bare report onely, so the fame or report be worthy credit, as oft it is.

2. It is the part of a faithfull Pastor, not to teach his flocke their dutie onely, but to see what fruit his teaching hath with them; and for that purpose to make inquiry, whether he be present or absent, into the liues of them; and if he finde that they do contrary to his teaching, to admonish and to reproue them. Whereas, (the more is the griefe) for the most part, we content our selues with teaching, not regarding whither that be done or no that is taught.

Vers. 12. Those therefore that are such, we charge and intreat by our Lord Iesus Christ, that they worke with quietnes, and eat their owne bread.’

AFter reprehension he endeuoureth a refor­mation of them; wherein he putteth them in minde of their duties.

And in the first place those that walked inordi­nately: and afterward the rest of them.

The dutie of the former, which he putteth them in minde of, is, that they worke quietly, and that so working, they eat their owne bread.

[Page 196]Learne we hence then;

1. That it is the dutie of all Christians, to worke with their owne hands, so far as their abilitie of bo­die will permit, rather then to be burdensome to others. Christian religion alloweth no man to liue idle in the Church; but vrgeth all to labour what they may. And this labour about the necessaries of this life, when it ariseth not from a couetous mind, but is done of conscience, that we may not be bur­densome to others, it is a seruice most acceptable vnto God. And on the contrary, the very worship and seruice of God it selfe is distastfull vnto him, and not accepted of him, when men thereby take occasion to cease from their honest labours, and are content to liue on other mens labours, that they may haue the more leisure for religious offi­ces. Though the Church would allow a man meanes, that he might wholy tend diuine seruice, yet might not an ordinarie Christian accept of the condition, but he ought rather to labour.

2 Christian men must not worke onely, but they must work quietly, i. with a quiet minde, not mur­muring against God or the Church, as if they were neglected more then were meete, when they haue not things necessarie ministred vnto them; but quietly resting on the good will of God, and ther­fore working willingly, as knowing well that it is Gods will that they should so do, that he hath im­posed it vpon them, and regards them in their la­bours, as doing his businesse, and hoping therefore for a blessing from him.

3. That is our bread, that is earned by our work. [Page 197] And we eat not our owne but other mens bread, if we come not by it by our owne labour when we can, albeit it be freely giuen vs by others. It is not enough therefore for vs to say, that our bread or ought else that here we liue by, is our own, because it is yeelded vs by others; but that alone is ours rightfully, that by our own labour we haue earned.

4. Our bread should be the sweeter to vs, the more it is our owne: and the more it is o­ther mens, the bitterer should it be. Vnwor­thy then are they to be termed Christians, that finde the more relish in things, the more they are an others; and that count stolne waters most sweet.

That they do this, he chargeth and earnestly in­treateth them by the Lord Iesus Christ: wherein not onely he sheweth his ardent desire of hauing this abuse reformed, and the difficultie of refor­ming it; but he implieth withall, that the refor­mation thereof will be exceedingly well-pleasing to Christ; and on the other side, that this offence was highly offensiue and displeasing vnto him. As also he teacheth the forme and manner, how inordinate liuers are in the first place to be corre­cted by the Pastors of the Church.

Vers. 13. And you, brethren, be not weary of well-doing.’

HEre followeth an admonition of the dutie of those, that did not liue in such inordinate manner. And it is twofold.

[Page 198]First, that they would not grow wearie of well-doing, but that as they had begun, so they would goe on in a vertuous course of life, and not shew themselues cowards, and faint hearted, by falling backe from it, after the manner of those whom he had spoken of before.

Whence we may learne:

1. That it is not enough for one for sometime to haue done well, but he must doe well alwayes, and neuer wax weary of it, or grow slacke in it.

2. That those that doe well are in daunger of waxing weary and slacke, if they be not hartned and encouraged to perseuerance; especially where euill examples are.

3. That they haue neede of courage and confi­dence, that would perseuere in well doing: and that it is a note of a base and a cowardly minde to giue it ouer.

4. That the inordinate courses and liues of pro­fessors, and in particular this corruption of liuing idlie, vpon the labours of others, and making the profession of the faith a pretence for the same, is a shrewd meanes many times to coole both the charitie, and Christian courage of many. That which our Sauiour himselfe foretold would be. Math. 24.12. And it was that, as it is likely, that made some in this Church to be so affected.

Vers. 14. If any man obey not our sayings, by this E­pistle note him, & haue no companie with him, that he may be ashamed.’

THe second office is concerning those that walke inordinately: and it is threefold:

1. If they be refractory, and refuse to o­bey the Apostles admonition in this Epistle, that they note him; that is, to make a signe as it were of him, for the vse of a signe is to giue notice of som­thing; or to set as it were a marke vpon him, [...]. that he may be as a marked man.

He would haue them then so to marke, and re­gard, and take speciall notice of such, and of their courses, that they may perceiue, that they are no­ted by them for the same, and that the eyes of men are set vpon them as on a marke or a signe. A meanes worth the obseruing for the correcting of such as liue inordinately. For when they see that the eyes of the godly are set on them, and that they are so noted, it cannot but be of great force, if there be any sparke of grace in them, to make them change their life, and take some better course. And the neglect hereof is wont maruailously to con­firme men in their inordinate courses, when the godly passe by them, and seeme not to regard what they doe, but so carrie themselues, as if they obserued no such thing in them.

2. He would haue them to haue no commerce with them; he would not haue them to keepe any company with such; that is, not to conuerse so [Page 200] with them, that by the least gesture they seeme to approue of their courses. For he doth not exclude all commerce in generall, as vtterly vnlawfull, with such; but such onely, whereby either in deede, or in shew they may in some sort partake with them therein For example sake; he hath no commerce with a drunkard, and an haunter of Tauernes, that refuseth to goe with him to the tauerne, and to make himselfe merry with his swilling & bibbing: and the like may be said of commerce with play­ers and iesters. It is a grieuous sinne therefore and warily to be eschewed, that we haue no fellowship with such as refuse to obey the admonitions of the Prophets and Apostles: For it concerneth vs as much herein to obey the Apostle, as it did this Church.

Now the end of the former obseruation and se­paration is that such may be ashamed. These meanes hath God ordained to shame such Christians as liue not according to the rule of the Apostles wri­tings; & to that end are they faithfully to be vsed. And though they may make some gracelesse men, hypocrites, and Atheists more impudent and shamelesse; yet are they of maruailous great effi­cacie, to shame such, & by shaming them to bring them into the right way againe, that haue any grace at all left in them. And it is a signe of a man wholly gracelesse, that perceiuing himselfe so to be noted by the godly, is not ashamed of it, and much more, that groweth thereupon more shame­lesse.

Vers. 15. Yet count him not as an enemie; but admo­nish him as a brother.’

3. HE would haue them to admonish such dis­ordred ones, yet not accounting them as enemies, but regarding them as brethren.

Wherein obserue we:

1. That the noting before spoken of, must not be a bare, sullen, and silent eying of them, or a scornefull and hatefull pointing at them; but it must be ioyned with louing and frendly admoni­tion, as occasion and opportunitie shall be offred. They must performe that office by word of mouth vnto such, that the Apostle himselfe did by writing before, vers. 12. as he also enioyneth the same expresly els-where. 1. Thess. 5.14.

2. That though the Apostle willed them to with­draw themselues from such, yet his meaning ther­in was not, that they should haue no dealings at all with them, nor performe no kinde offices at all vn­to them; but they should forbeare onely all such familiaritie with such, whereby themselues might be indangered, or such offendors incouraged in their rechles and disordred courses, or haue the least shew of approbation or liking afforded them. Otherwise that good offices are to be performed vnto such also, and that for the performance of such offices we may repaire to them and deale with them; (which the more neede they haue of them, the more frequent also they ought to be; as sicke or sickly persons require ordinarily more at­tendance, [Page 202] then those that be in good health:) it is apparent, in that the Apostle enioyneth to admo­nish those now, whom he willed them yet to with­draw from before.

3. That admonition, and that frequent and in­stant, ought to go before ejection and casting out of the Congregation, according also to this our Apostle his rule & ordinance els-where. Tit. 3.10. yea according to that direction, that our Sauiour himselfe hath giuen Christians for their cariage in priuate wrongs done them by their brethren. Math. 18.15, 16, 17. All meanes are wont to be vsed for the curing and preseruing of limbes and members diseased, ere we proceed to the dismem­bring and maiming of the bodi [...], by the seuering of them from it.

4. That this admonition it must be brotherly, and so all the former offices also. So are we to note such, as we would our frend, or our brother, whose well-doing we sincerely desire and earnestly thirst after. So must we with-draw from them, that our very with-drawing may vnto them appeare to proceed from a brotherly affection towards them, and to tend vnto their good. And so lastly must we admonish them, that by our very admonitions of them, we may make it knowne vnto them, that we beare no foe-like minde vnto them but retaine still a brotherly heart and minde towards them: yea and that we would not take that course we do with th [...], but that we desire to retaine and keepe them st [...]l with vs, in th [...] mutuall bond and body of Christianitie as br [...]thren.

Vers. 16. Now the Lord of peace, giue you peace, alwayes, by all meanes.’

HEre followeth the last part, or the Conclu­sion of this Epistle; with a post-script an­nexed to it.

He concludeth in the vsuall manner, not of him­selfe alone, but of all others that vse to write Let­ters or Epistles, with prayer for them, or wishing well to them. So vse the Latines with their Vale, and the Greekes with their [...], to close vp most of their letters, thereby wishing well to those they write vnto, to testifie their loue and frendly affe­ction towards them.

And surely the Apostle is very frequent herein; thereby teaching vs, that it is a speciall dutie of Christians, to wish well one to an other, and to pray one for another: As also, that it is a matter that much concerneth Christian men, and maketh much for their good, that the godly Ministers and Brethren should wish well to them, and accor­dingly pray for them.

The good he wisheth them is twofold:

The first is Peace; and that alwayes, and by all meanes.

Peace is the cheifest good of euery society; as jarre and warre is the greatest euill: And it is then, when the members of any society do liue quietly, and in frendly and louing manner togither, imbra­cing mutually each other, and communicating all things to the common good either of other, and [Page 204] herein conspiring togither, in affording the fruits of loue, and performing all good offices one to an other. To wish them this then, is to wish them an heauen vpon earth. For what greater happinesse can there be here? As on the other side, what can be more wofull & more hellish then the contrary euill? In peace, man to man is a God: in jar & war, man to man is a Wolfe, a Beare, a Tygre, a Diuell.

That therfore that the Apostle wisheth to them, and with them to vs and all others; that ought we not onely to wish to our selues, but by all meanes earnestly striue and indeuour to compasse. Let vs therefore carefully follow those things that belong to peace; and eschew, so much as in vs lies, all oc­casions and meanes of contention and strife; and hate as fire-brands of hell, all make-bates, raisers and kindlers of contention and strife.

He wisheth them further all manner of peace, that is, peace & quietnes in Church & state, at home & abroad, in heauen aboue, and in their owne consci­ences here; peace ciuill, peace domesticke, peace spirituall; peace with men, with the Saints, with the Angels, with God: and that continuall too; that is, sure, firme, sound, neuer-ceasing.

We ought therefore to follow peace, not with this or that man alone, or at this or that time a­lone, but alwayes, with all men, and by all meanes; and with the Apostle here, wish the like as well to others as to our selues.

Now this peace he wisheth vnto them from God the Author of peace.

Wherein he teacheth;

[Page 205]1. That such peace issueth only from God and his good pleasure; and that he alone is the author thereof; on him it dependeth; and without him there is no hope of hauing it.

2. That no peace is to be regarded, but that, that God is the author of; such especially to be refused as is contrary to his will. It is an accursed peace, that is gotten by fighting against God; it is no peace, but a cursed conspiracie & war against God.

3. That peace among Christians is a speciall worke of God; and for the benefit thereof is great praise due vnto him. And by prosecuting & main­taining it, we honor him that is the author of it.

‘— The Lord be with you all.’

The second good that he wisheth them, is that the Lord be with them all; that is, that he would be present with them by his Spirit, and manifest this his presence by the sweet influences of heauenly grace.

Now out of the connexion of this with the for­mer, wherof this is the cause; we learne; that there is no true and sound peace, but among those, with whom God is. He by his presence in house, Church, and state worketh this peace. And where this peace is, there is God himselfe in speciall man­ner present with that society, & a member in some manner of it. On the other side, where this peace is not, some euill Spirit raigneth in that society, and is with that house, church, towne or state. Would we then haue God to be, and abide with vs, and to [Page 206] blesse our societies with his gratious presence, and to knit vs fast togither in the bond of peace? Let vs giue all diligence to serue and please him: and let vs account it the greatest blessing that can be, for God to be with vs; and the greatest euill that can be, for him not to be with vs.

Vers. 17. The Salutation of me Paul, with mine owne hand; which is a token in euery Epistle; so I write.’

HEre followeth the postscript annexed to the former; wherein he giueth this Church a certaine token or signe, whereby they may know, that this Epistle is his owne, and distinguish it from all forged and counterfeit ones.

Wherein 1. obserue the fraud and impudency of Satan, who euen in the Apostles owne times, attempted to obtrude vpon the Churches of Christ, bastardly and counterfeit writings, as Apo­stolicall; that by this meanes he might corrupt the pure doctrine of faith.

2. It concerneth vs much to be perswaded of the writings of the Apostles, and to be able to distin­guish them from all other writings. For albeit that other men should write the same things that they did, yet would not their writings be of the like vse, because they could not be of the same authoritie that theirs are. Would we then haue our doctrine to be of weight with Gods people; let vs giue them some signe, whereby it may be knowne, that our doctrine is Apostolicall, and not an humane [Page 207] deuice: let them see how it is deduced and deri­ued from their springs, and hath consonance and agreement with them.

The Signe he giueth them, is the writing of a kinde of Salutation, that was ordinarie with him, with his own hand. For Paul oft, as well he might, made vse of other mens hands in writing of his Epistles, himself only dictating to them what they should write: And that it may be, because he had not so plaine or so faire an hand, as was fit for such purposes: or it may be also, that thereby he might giue a more euident proofe, that what he deliue­red, proceeded from his owne spirit, and was not transcribed by him from some other.

Vers. 18. The grace of our Lord Iesus Christ be with you all. Amen.’

THis is that vsuall Salutation of Paul, which he was wont to write with his owne hand, so oft as he vsed the helpe of other for the writing of the rest.

Wherein, vnder the terme of Grace, he compre­hendeth, and consequently wisheth vnto them, all effectuall meanes of saluation that flow from Christ. For to wish vnto any the grace of [...] is to wish vnto them all things, that may [...] make a Christian man eternally happy. [...] then be the vpshot and the vtmost aime [...] Christian desires, to desire the grace of Christ [...] it will bring with it heauen and eternall happin [...] [...] And that in vaine expect or hope we for, vnlesse he be our Lord, and we become his seruants.

[Page 208]The word, Amen, signifieth not onely his sin­cere desire, that what he wisheth vnto them may accordingly befall them; but his faith also and assurance that they should certainly enjoy it. Which minde let vs beare also toward all those, whom we see to be well giuen and to embrace the true worship of GOD prescribed by CHRIST.

FINIS.

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