DIVINE MEDITATIONS, AND CONTEMPLATIONS upon severall heads of Divinity.

By G. R.

Compiled for his owne pri­vate use, and published for the common good.

PSAL. 1.1,2.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsell, &c.

But his delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in his law doth he me­ditate day and night.

LONDON, Printed by R. C. for Sam. Enderby, and are to be sold at his shop at the signe of the Starre in Popes-head-Alley, 1641.

TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE THE EARLE OF WARWICK, &c.

Right Honourable,

IF (having nei­ther merit or o­ther relation to usher the admit­tance) I seeme to intrude this present of so meane condition (whence [...] ­ver [Page] it came) upon your Lordships favourable con­struction, and accep­tance, the report of those many excellencies in you, imploy'd for the honour of your Prince, and good of your Coun­try, so eminently obvious to the eye and admirati­on of the vertuous, hath imboldned mee to the attempt, and must serve for excuse instead of a larger apologie.

I have not the will or [Page] skill to flatter, my thoughts aime at no base ends in this presumpti­on; and were I not cer­taine your Honour were as much a lover of good­nesse, as an enjoyer of greatnesse, and no lesse humble than honoura­ble, and would be rather a gratious interpreter, than strict censurer, my penne should not have been so ambitious, or da­red to rest under so no­ble patronage, nor so in­considerate [Page] to have ex­posed my owne and o­thers weaknesse to pub­lique view.

And yet the honesty of the subject, whiles it directs the mind to the consideration of spi­rituall, and necessary concernments for the soules welfare, and a Christians profit, may thus farre presume (as not unworthy the peru­sall of the religious, of what degree soever, at [Page] times convenient) to be­speake protection for the matter, and pardon for the author, be hee what hee is, and his expressi­ons otherwise never so meane, or deservings an­swerable.

Please it therefore your Lordship to beare with this challenge, which I have not used in the way of my owne right, nor to forestall your Lordships judgement, (to which I humbly submit in both) [Page] but to intimate that by how much the present is the more considerable for any worth or value to be found in it, by so much the more it be­longs, and is fit to such worthy patronage to be presented.

But herein your Ho­nour must accept the will for the deed, from him whose desires in the height of their ambition soare no higher in that respect, than to become [Page] effectuall Orators for your Honors prosperity temporall and eternall, and that he may be wor­thy

Of Your Lordships command in any service G. R.

Meditation 1. Of prosperity and adversity.

IN prosperity it may seeme we love God, in adversity we feare God; for prosperity doth cause us to praise God, and adversity to pray unto him, and yet in the end it doth then appeare, wee neither love nor feare God. A strange matter indeed, that God should not be beloved of us then, when he sheweth himselfe a friend; or not feared, when as a Judge he cal­leth us to account, and therefore not to be beleeved without good [Page 2] proofe. He that doth truely love God, loves him for himselfe; and hee that doth truely feare God, feares him for himselfe; and fin­ding in him alwayes the same cause of feare, and love, doth ne­ver cease to feare or love; love is his possession, feare his Security: what hee hath once gain'd by love, by feare hee is willing to keepe: and he doth as much feare not to lose, as love still to enjoy. May hee then bee said to love God in prosperity, which in adversity doth not love him; or to feare God in adversity, which in pros­perity doth not so? If then wee cannot endure the change of a prosperous estate, but are so much disquieted that we take no com­fort in the favour of God, this is a sure token we loved not God in prosperity, though then we pray­sed him: for a little of this love [Page 3] abiding in us, though at first it should not be able to free us from feeling and passion, yet at last would it so calme and settle us, that not having the gifts, wee would much more rejoyce in the giver, for whose sake onely all things are worth the having. Likewise if good successe and bet­ter credit doe but inable us to do wrong, without looking to the will of God which awardeth right, this is a sure token we feared not God in adversity: for a little of this feare would stay us backe from such attempts, though there were none in the world to control us. If not God, what loved wee then in prosperity? what feared we in adversity? Wee loved the gift, not the giver; wee feared the punishment, not the Judge: that is, we neither loved with feare, nor feared with love. Oh unworthy [Page 4] love! which doth more respect the gift than the givers good will. Oh vaine feare! which observes the mighty but not the Almighty. If Gods gifts bee better welcome to us than himselfe, little is the love we beare to God: if wee feare Gods punishment more than the losse of his favour, such feare is not religious. But will we give a true testimony of our love and feare towards God? Let us doe that in adversity, which even hy­pocrites do in prosperity: let us (I say) praise God, and be con­tent. Againe, let us doe that in prosperity, which even hypocrites do in adversity. Let us I say pray heartily unto God, and commend our selves and all our doings unto him. In a word, let us love him in adversity, and feare him in pro­sperity: to this purpose looke we in prosperity, on the threats of [Page 5] Gods law, beleeving that none of them shall fall to the ground. In adversity on the promises of God firmely trusting to receive comfort and deliverance from him, though as yet wee have no feeling thereof. Shall we not feare such a God in our greatnesse, who hath ever vengeance ready, and that without respect of persons? Shall wee not love such a God in our weaknesse, who is so faithfull and kinde, that he will never neg­lect them in their greatest distresse which put their trust in him? Adde this to make us feare in prosperity, that God doth but make us his Stewards; hee may when he will, and hee will, when wee thinke least on it, call us to reckoning: the more we take, the more will be required; and negli­gence shall finde a streighter judge­ment, than ignorance. And wee [Page 6] shall love God the better in adver­sity, if wee consider that evils are justly layd upon us, because of our sinnes, and yet from Gods mercy; that chastising us as chil­dren we may repent and be saved, and that it is sarre better that hee should take our estate from us, than that our estate should take us from him.

Meditation 2. Of Love.

Faith is the assurance of Gods love to a Christian, which faith breedeth in him a love an­swerable to his apprehension, though not comparable to the object; and it is a borrowed fire, a drop taken out of the sea of Gods mercy. Love is a briefe of the [Page 7] Law, a legacy of Christ, the cog­nizance of a Christian, the life of a good conscience, the assurance of prayer, the strength of devoti­on, the prop of patience, and in a word, the band of perfection. The love that we owe is unto God, but God will have the duty dischar­ged to his image our neighbour, to his members our brethren; spe­cially where this duty may give most evident token of love: as when wee provide for the poore which can make no recompence, or pray for our enemies which hate us. Indeed thou losest no­thing by giving to the poore, for it is put on his score to whom thou owest thy selfe, it is repaied by him, who hath given himselfe for thy redemption, and will give himselfe unto thee for thine eternall salvation. Thou findest no cause to love thine enemy, nei­ther [Page 8] did God to love thee. God lo­ved thee without an example; but hath left it to thee for thy imita­tion; for so well hee loves thee, that he would have thee like him­selfe. Hee loved thee freely for himselfe, thou must love freely too, but for his sake, is not this cause enough? God bids thee; shall the countenance of an ene­my dismay thee? this is the way (pointed out by God and blessed by him) to make thy foe thy friend: fall it out otherwise, he is thy friend more than his owne, he gives place to thee in goodnes, strive not thou with him, who shall be worst. After love hath dis­patcht her duties abroad, she re­turneth home, and doth privately converse with God, and this is an entring into the chamber of her well beloved. Let mee dye if the wealth of the covetous, or the ho­nours [Page 9] of the ambitious, or the de­licates of the voluptuous, be to be envyed, and not rather contemned in respect of this, if thou know it, thou desirest nothing else, if not, any thing.

Meditation 3. Of Passions.

Passions are originall, and na­turall, they are bred with us, they are a part of us, wee can no more leave to be without them, then to be m [...]n, yet are they the baser part of the minde, for their familiarity with the sanses, and hence the Philosophers tho [...]ht did arise their disorder, but if the minde it selfe be insected, how can there he cleane? And if the eve be darknesse, what light can there be [Page 10] in the members? yet vertue is the government of Passions, and all vertues whereby man doth imi­tate Gods holinesse or righteous­nesse, are but well governed Pas­sions. Mans vertue is in the mid­dest of much weakenesse, and therefore his victory the more commendable. And of all victo­ries it is the best, when one over­comes himselfe. Many have been invincible abroad, which have beene overcome by their owne weakenesse at home. I feare no­thing so much as treason within. I speake it without pride, through the gift of God I know more than many, (though I know no­thing as I should) and yet pra­ctise but little according to my knowledge. I know what piety, what common duty doth require, yet stand I unresolved or slow. I have much bettered my judgement [Page 11] by hearing, but am a very Infant in performing what I have heard. I am more sound alone, than in company; more upright for stran­gers, than in my owne or friends cause. I am not so bad in intent, as in event. What I do not prevent, I would gladly amend. I thought not on that which after makes mee wonder how I could forget; all this I impute to passion. Religi­on sanctifies passion by opposing a fit object; as, love as much as you list, so you love God; hate as much as you list so you hate sinne; re­joyce alwayes, but rejoyce in goodnesse; be sorry too, but let it be the sorrow of repentance. Wee may bee full of hope, but as pil­grimes bound for heaven. Wee ought to feare, so that it be to of­fend God. Will we envie? it must bee that others goe not beyond us in well-doing: will we be jealous? [Page 12] it must bee that nothing defile our conscience. Wee have wherein to trust if it be in Gods grace; and wherein to distrust if it bee in our owne nature. Likewise there is a holy confidence, a holy despaire; the one claimes Christs merits, the other denies her owne. That revenge also is just, whereby wee debarre our selves of the occasions which led us into sinne: Yea passions here doe passe into ano­ther nature, as anger, into zeale for Gods glory; love into charity; sorrow into repentance; pity in­to almesdeeds; hope into pati­ence; feare into watching and prayer; mirth into thanksgiving; confidence into per [...]everance. The inconstancy of the wind makes the Pil [...]t at sea watchfull, and the disorder of our affections ought to make us advised. As is a horse without a bit, so are our affections [Page 13] without understanding; let rea­son rule the reines, lest thou bee overthrowne. Hast thou to deale with a cunning man which is like to overtake thee? or a great man which will be too hard for thee? or a hasty man which will offer to hurt thee? or with a lewd man which may corrupt thee? looke well about thee; there is more danger from thy owne passions, then from any, or all these. It is good to doe nothing in passion, give time to reason, and use the helpe of prayer, and thou shalt anon espy the depth of some temptation, which lies common­ly hid under an ordinary passion. There are tentations of all sorts, and for all sorts of passions; for merry men, unlawfull pleasures; for sad men, uncomfortable de­spaires; for presumptuous, crying sinnes; for angry men, quarrels [Page 14] and brawles. Looke to thy passi­ons, and thou maist prevent ma­ny, though not all temptations.

Meditation 4. Of Providence.

Thou art not able to change the course of nature, it is only in the power of God who made it. The second cause is tied to the first, but the first worketh freely either with it, or without it. Hath God taken order for one part of his worke and not for all? Thou hast a free will, not to be constrai­ned: true, yet is this thy will subject to the highest and first will, which moving all our willes, is moved of none. Thou must needs follow it, that will not follow thee. God made mee in the first man as in [Page 15] my cause, and hee made the first man for himselfe. Wherefore the fall of man did not crosse his su­preme counsell, for then should not that have beene, which not­withstanding he did most wil­lingly and justly suffer. Is it Gods will then that all men should be concluded under sinne, that hee might have mercy on whom hee would, and whom hee would he might justly forsake? so it fol­lowes. Yet is his will no cause of sinne, but a rule of all righteous­nesse; so ought I to beleeve. Well, doth God looke on mee in the face of his well beloved? do I be­leeve the Christian Faith? doe I desire to doe all Christian duties? strive I against mine owne corrup­tions? this is Gods speciall favour unto mee, it is his worke in mee for which I am bound to bee thankfull unto him, in which I [Page 16] am to take comfort, this is my duty to follow his calling, to be obedient to his government, here­in standeth my eternall happi­nesse: or bee it that I doe not be­leeve or love God, or live in his feare, yet is not this in my power to amend, or have I any just cause of excuse? examine not Gods de­crees by thine owne reason, or those lawes of justice which wee are bound to observe, feare his Majesty, humble thy selfe before his presence, seeke his mercy, re­ceive not grace in vaine; there is no way to heaven but a holy life; and hee that purposeth thou shouldest besaved: doth call thee to faith and repentance. If thou avoid the meanes to attaine unto either, thou [...]est thy selfe out, and art an [...]my to thine owne Soule; if th [...] come unto God, he will not reject thee; wherefore [Page 17] aske for grace that thou maist come; without which thou shalt never come: and it is necessary for thee to know this, lest thou shouldest trust to nature, and not seeke grace; or despaire, when thou seest thou canst not attaine unto it by thine owne strength: Aske not how he is mercifull, which saveth a few and condemneth many; how he is just, which by his will so bringeth it about, that wee are all in the cause of damnation, but beleeve it; aske not why God doth not change the wills of wic­ked men, with whom, and in whom hee doth not cease to worke: but reverence his decree, whose judgments are just, though unknowne. But thou art much troubled and vexed, to heare this doctrine and so are many others; this trouble, this vexation (if thou belong to God) shall turne to thy [Page 18] good; for it shall so humble and cast thee downe, that thou shalt wholly depend on God, and give him his glory; but if thou belong not to him, thou shalt complaine, and murmure more and more, and be nothing the better, nothing the neare, for God will not cease to be God, though wee beleeve not; nor good, though we be wicked: But who will care to beleeve? to amend his life? to strive against sinne, if it be not in us; if without us God have disposed of us? sure­ly none of himselfe can or will; they only doe, whom God doth vouchsafe to enable. The word of God which is his revealed and conditionall will, is unto some the savor of life unto life, and unto others the savor of death unto death; to none the savor of life, but to those that beleeve, to none the savor of death but to those [Page 19] that beleeve not; he will have all men to be saved, if they will them selves, and hee forsakes none but they that forsake him: these things are for us to marke, and observe; yet to beleeve, or not to beleeve, to will salvation, or to will it not, doe depend upon a higher will, whose law is un­knowne to us: wee must live by that which is revealed, and adore that which is hidden from us, so shall wee neither neglect our duty, nor deprive God of his glory and majesty.

Meditation 5. Of Patience.

THere is none which can bee merry, none rich, none well friended, none in authority, none [Page 20] have ever good successe more safe­ly then a Christian: for in all these he useth a good conscience, yet because such a streame of prospe­rity is dangerous to mans frailty, hee is not to looke for his heaven here, but elsewhere; because he is now in triall, not in triumph, a pilgrim, and not at home, that many troubles must bee suffered, either to purge him of vice, or for his better exercise of vertue: and both to Gods glory. I see no­thing more necessary for him then Patience, a vertue which doth harden him to follow Christ willingly, and quickly, in bearing the Crosse; and if wee consider our Saviours life, wee may observe that he used no one vertue more then Patience, not only in his Passion, but in the whole course of his life, which as it were no­thing but a Passion throughout; [Page 21] so was it but an exercise of his continuall patience: wee must suffer many things of our adver­saries, which will oppose them­selves to our vocation; it is not in our power to put them by; and take them quietly wee cannot, without patience. Yea which is worst of all, God will seeme some­times to be against us, and taking from us inward consolation, will leave us to sorrow and sadnesse of spirit, as if we were forsaken; these things befell unto our Lord, who used Patience as the best remedy, teaching us not only to beare his Crosse, but how to beare it also, till it shall please God to returne againe unto us with comfort. Wee must have patience to beare great tentations, as well as small, and to beare them as long as it pleaseth God, whether great or small, great troubles will need great Patience: [Page 22] and small troubles enduring long no small Patience. Now the Chri­stian is to be exercised grievously, continually, because God meanes to make him partaker of a great victory, a great reward. Faith is necessary for our entrance into the Church, hope to nourish faith, and love is the fruit of faith, and briefe of all the Commande­ments; see here the summe of di­vinity. But without Patience wee cannot abide in the Church, for being once offended, wee shall lose them except we have Patience. Why is it said, Woe bee to him that hath lost patience? belike it is the last losse. If a Master of a Ship lose his Anchor, or Maine­mast, or a Saile, those are great losses, yet to be repaired: but if it be said once he hath lost his Ship, wee know hee hath lost all, and perhaps himselfe too: so if wee [Page 23] lose a time of Prayer, or the ex­ercise of reading and meditation, an occasion of doing good, if wee stagger in faith, these are hea­vy losses indeed, yet particular and recoverable; but if it be said wee have lost Patience, what meanes it but that wee have lost all, and our selves too? Wherefore well is it said, Woe be unto him that hath lost Patience. Patience is as it were the second concocti­on of all vertues; and drawes from them whatsoever is for the strength and nourishment of a Christian life: if this be weake in working, our strength is small. From faith Patience drawes con­fidence, from Hope perseverance, from Love cheerfulnesse. They which are Saints in Heaven, are said to have Palmes in their hands, a resemblance of Patience, by which they are victorious. Pa­tience [Page 24] is a remedy in those causes which nothing else can remedy. Shew thy faith to the persecutor, he will not suffer thee to enjoy it, except thou wilt lose liberty, goods, friends and life, what will become now of thy faith except thou have Patience? shew thy cha­rity to thine enemy, hee will de­spise it, hee will wrong thee still more and more, what then will become of thy charity if thou have not Patience? let it bee knowne that thou art an upright man, the Devill will tempt thee outwardly and inwardly, and what will become of thy upright­nesse if thou have not Patience? thou prayest, and God heareth not, thou askest, & he giveth not; thou wouldest have plenty, and behold want; thou wouldest have health and strength, and behold weaknesse; thou wouldest have [Page 25] peace and behold warre; thou wouldest have credit, and behold slander; thou wouldest be some, and art no body, and what will become of thy prayers if thou have not Patience? To keepe Pati­ence wee must be beholding to ex­perience. Try once how much pro­fit Patience doth bring thee, and thou shalt never bee weary of it, thou shalt sinde succour, feele comfort unexpected: observe Gods providence, & forget not his love; this will direct to the end where wee shall finde contentment, when nothing shall make us more hap­py then that wee have suffered with Patience; they that will not bee patient shall suffer more then wee, but wee only which are pa­tient, shall receive the reward of suffering.

Meditation 6. Of Liberty.

VVEe love to take liberty, and fare all the worse; because our choice is of such as is agreeable to a nature sick and not sound. God is necessarily good, and yet doth good most freely; man (since his fall) is necessarily evill, and doth evill most freely; but alas, what a freedome is this so to bee overlookt by sinne, that we cannot doe any thing to please God, or to ease our selves! Christ by his Gospell calleth us to a Li­berty, not of the flesh, to live ac­cording to the lusts thereof; not an outward liberty, to discharge us from duties fit for our callings, or prescribed by lawes not repug­nant to the word of God; but to [Page 27] a Liberty of the spirit: first, from the curse of the Morall Law, by which we are subject to the wrath of God. And this Liberty comes from the free remission of our sinnes in his bloud who is become our Saviour, so that all the evills which befall us in this life even unto death it selfe, turne unto our good, and are sent not from an angry Judge, but from a mercifull Father; as it is said, Wee are affli­cted, but not convicted; we doubt, but wee despaire not; wee are per­secuted, but not forsaken; wee are cast downe, but wee perish not. Secondly, from the tyranny of sinne, so that we doe not only be­gin to strive, but doe also prevaile against it more and more, and shall at last utterly overcome it, even to the breaking of the Serpents head. Thirdly, from observation of ce­remonies, and judicialls of Moses, [Page 28] as touch not, tast not, handle not, and wee may freely use the crea­tures of God with sobriety and thanksgiving, which are given for meat, drink and apparell, and use likewise or not use all things in­different according to charity. Fourthly, from all Lawes and constitutions of men, that they binde not the conscience as mat­ters of salvation, though for out­ward order and policy wee are in cōscience bound to observe them, if they bee not contrary to Gods word, but agreeable to the ge­nerall rules thereof: this is true Liberty, agreeable to the state of our first Creation, and aboun­ding more in grace it wee seeke for it, for the which wee are con­tinually to praise God the author thereof. It is great Liberty to be out of bondage, but it a greater to be the freeman of Christ; it is [Page 29] a great Liberty to be taken out of the hands of a Tyrant, but a greater to be rescued out of the power of sinne and Satan; it is a great Liberty which Nobility doth challenge, but a greater which a good conscience. What a Liberty is it to doe that which is good? to speake that which is wholesome, and for edification? to wrong no man? not to wrong himselse? to live without shame? and to die without feare? Let us detest the youths Liberty, to have no Tutor, the Theefes to escape the halter, the fooles to scoffe at his Brother, the blasphemers to sweare, the wantons to bee un­seene, the drunkards to pledge healths and use much quaffing, the malecontents to have no state, the unthrifts to turn himselfe out of house and home.

Meditation 7. Humane frailty.

O Father Adam, thy Children are all too much like thee! would I were a Pillar of Marble in the House of my God, that no tentation might shake mee, no sinne displace mee; or as the two Pillars of Solomons Temple, Jatui and Boa, that there might be cer­tainty in my resolution, and con­stancy in my courses. A Christian is a man, but I am more a man then a Christian, nay rather a child, then a man. I weep for vanities and toies, and cast hehind mee the Law of God more worth then the Gold of Ophir. I would stand, but I fall downe flat. I would be better, but prove worse. I would sinne no more, I did not [Page 31] to my knowledge sinne so much before. Oh hell in this world, to hate sinne, yet to entertaine it, to beare the shame, the sorrow, the smart, of sinne, and yet to shake hands withit! Where shall I have teares enough to be­waile my sinnes? my heart is bro­ken with sighing, and my braines dried up with weeping. Would to God my head were a fountaine of teares, and mine eyes rivers of waters, to bewaile the desolation that sinne hath wrought within mee. If I bee not able to match sinne in his strength, why give I it time, and not rather kill it while it is young? If jealous thoughts and occasions not cut off doe in­crease his band, why doe I suffer him to muster Souldiers in mine owne dominions? Oh that wee could renew our fight, when wee are put to flight (as I have read of [Page 32] some people) and take our pur­suers at a disadvantage; but when wee begin once to slie, nothing can stay us, and though no enemy follow, wee run our selves out of breath. The comforts wee might lawfully use are ten thousand times more, then the pleasures wee unlawfully steale; the devo­tion which Gods law asketh, is free, noble, full of reward; the tax which sinne imposeth, base, sla­vish, beggerly: yet how proud are wee in such poverty? if wee com­pare our selves, then are wee farre more circumspect, more holy then others; if any duty required of us, then (presuming of our owne strength) wee follow Christ to the death, and a little after deny him. Peter did once, I would wee did not often for lesse cause. How necessary for us, then is humility and prayer? humility, to value our [Page 33] selves as wee are, (and wee can­not indeed thinke worse of our selves then wee are, wandring, weake, unconstant, wilfull, wick­ed) and prayer, that wee may find in God what wee want in our selves: for surely he would never have sent his sonne amongst us, had he not had care to redresse our miseries; and to aske of the Father in the name of the Sonne, is the way to bee gratious in ob­taining our suits; Let not thy un­worthinesse discourage thee to come unto God: nor let his mer­cy make thee forget thy vilenesse, that keeping a hard hand on thy corruptions, thou maist the better prevaile with God as Jacob did.

Meditation 8. Of Vocations.

COme you into one of their shops whose wits are said to dwell in their fingers, and you shall wonder to see the store and variety of tooles, and how it may be possible, that one hand should use them all, and yet not one but hath his use; likewise look you into the state of some greater so­ciety, and you shall see a world of men, & yet not one idle, because e­very man is appointed by the gifts naturall or above nature, and cal­led out as it were to apply him­selfe unto that kind of life for which he is most fit. It is strange, that amongst so many sundry vo­cations, as there are, some high, some low, poore, rich, noble, [Page 35] base, of body, of mind, there is notwithstanding such an excel­lent harmony of them all, that as wee say of the bodily members, that they serve both for one ano­thers turne, and for the good of the whole body: so it may be said of these. And as the taking away or adding of a mēber overthrows the shape of the body: so is it in this case to a State, if necessary Vocations bee wanting, or unne­cessary used. All men are not fit for all Vocations, and therefore as there are diverse abilities in men, so are there diverse Vocations a­bout which they should bee im­ployed. Neither is it enough, that all Vocations bee in use, but by such for whom they are most fit. There is one most necessary, gene­rall and honourable Vocation, and is the rule of all others, which calleth us out of the world [Page 36] to professe Christian Religion, and after which wee are called Christians. God grant wee may well consider what this calling re­quireth of us, and wee shall be the more forward in the duties of o­ther callings, for there are also callings speciall, and these must not only be lawfull in themselves, but lawfully used. We should be­come our callings, but wee think it enough if our callings become us; whereby there fals out so great ods betweene both, that all men see how unfit wee are for them, and they for us. Some are not called but doe call themselves, and that is, not for love of the calling, but some circumstance, as credit or gaine, and these doe as little good in a calling as any. If a man passe by a dignity or title, and put himselfe into a place where he may doe more good, [Page 37] this man no doubt loves his cal­ling, and may well bee commen­ded for his modesty.

In a calling there is both an office, and a maintenance; and I wonder that in those callings which are the weightiest, the office is oft times divided from the maintenance, and men reckon not much of it, whereas in other callings of lesse importance they must goe together, and if there be a faulty neglect, men sooner com­plaine.

If one be appointed a Judge, he must sit himselfe in Court to heare Causes, else hath he not his al­lowance; if a Counseller, he must bee present at the Barre to plead for his Client, or else he hath no Fee.

If Captaine of a Castle, hee must abide the assault, else he lo­seth his pension.

If I appoint one to keep my Sheep, and he look not unto them, I withdraw his wages; yet one hath the Benefice, and another hath the cure, there is a Parson but no Preacher, there is neither Par­son nor Preacher, but there are their Proctors.

There bee two vertues which helpe a Calling, and there be two vices which pull it downe. It is an excellent rule when wee have used our meanes, so to feare God, as wee depend on his blessing; this breeds comfort and cheerfulnesse: againe, to use patience though the successe be otherwise, then wee look for; this will rid us of vexa­tion. How ill doe they provide for their businesse, which deale falsly; a thing which God will not blesse? or envy others so farre, that they lose their owne con­tent; whereas God hath ordained [Page 39] all callings to depend so on one another, that there is no gift or benefit wch a man hath, but must turne to the good of his Neigh­bour; and instead of envying his prosperity, wee would rejoyce at it, were our eye single.

If one were to bee chosen for a calling, among a thousand who might seeme more fit then a bu­sybody, for his readinesse, to meddle where no man desires him; for his diligence, to do more then ever he hath thankes for; for his ability, no matter seemes too hard for him? and yet in truth he is the only unfit man of all others, in his talk he is ever from the mat­ter, and in his dealings knows better how to begin then end, he is taken up with every tale hee heares, and he hath businesse with every man he meets; his memory is as weak as his apprehension is [Page 40] quick, and though in duty he will take much on him, yet in curtesy you are to leave him at his liber­ty, and to looke for nothing from him till all his businesse be ended, and that will never bee: fit a cal­ling for this man, and fit a fashion for this age.

But to returne to our purpose, and descend more lower into those callings amongst which some are publique, others private. The publique callings are appoin­ted for the order and safety of the private; and the private used for the maintenance of the pub­lique. The publique hath more ho­nour, but lesse quietnesse; more wealth, but lesse content: the pri­vate hath more contempt, but lesse envy; more wrong, but lesse danger. Of all publique functions none are more worthy then those which pertaine to the Church, [Page 41] (the Civill I deny not are as ne­cessary:) consider their subject and end, they deale with the Soules of men to bring them to Heaven: in this the Church is subject to none but Christ, though in respect of the persons that use them, shee is subject to the Magistrate, as the Magistrate in that he is a Christi­an is subject to the Church. The world will say that the Common­wealth is before the Church, and that there may be a Civill state though no Church; but the Church cannot be without a Ci­vill state. But what saith Christ, Seeke the Kingdome of God first, he would have us build a Church be­fore wee erect a State, and our first Parents Adam and Eve were a Church before there was a Com­mon-wealth; and as a Church had the blessing from God to e­rect a Common-wealth, saying [Page 42] unto them, Increase and multiply; but then when the Common­wealth was increased, the Church was neglected: and so is it ever. But I would not have the Church Guelphes, and the Common­wealth Gibellines: Oh what an harmoniall hierarchy is it, when the Church and Common-wealth doe not only dwell and converse together, but so incorporate themselves one into another, that they may seeme but one body, yet without confusion of their Vocations, and rights!

Therefore doe I dislike the mo­nasticall life, which hath beene so much in request as the next way to Heaven: all that they could say was that they prayed for others; which is the common returne of all idle rogues and wandring beg­gers; but whereas others did both pray and labour for them, they [Page 43] withdrew themselves from all conversing with men in any cal­ling; they noted the Priests which had cures with an odious epithete, calling them Seculars, and yet in wealth and ease they themselves were farre beyond, in paine be­hind them. Solitarines for a time, to better those callings, that Schollers may returne to con­verse among men, with the greater profit, is that which our Saviour used, and is to be commended.

Meditation 9. Of Gods long suffering.

VVee find fearefull exam­ples of Gods anger a­gainst sinne, as Adam cast out of Paradise, Cain banished from the Lords presence, the old world [Page 44] drowned in the Flood, Sodome and the Cities adjoyning burnt with fire from Heaven, Pharoah and his Host choaked up on the Red Sea, Corah and his compani­ons swallowed up of the Earth, seven Nations put to the Sword by the Israelites, the tweive Tribes dispersed, the painfull death of our Lord the sonne of God, suf­fering for the sinne of man; yet is God very patient towards sin­ners, first in that he calleth all men to repentance by the sound of his word, or the inward touch of their owne consciences; secon­ly, because it is long before hee doth punish offenders, as the old world had a hundred yeares, the 7 Nations foure hundred; thirdly, because he doth give warning be­fore the stroake fall, by threat­nings, signes and wonders; and if men repent and call for mercy, he [Page 45] forgiveth, and holds his hand as it fell out to Niniveh. Fourthly, when he doth punish he remem­breth mercy, and though he make some an example, yet saveth he his people which deserved all to perish: this fell out to Adam, and oft times to the Isaelites, not­withstanding that they more then once provoked him. Lastly, there are many whom he never punish­sheth in this life, though they daily offend him, but doth be­stow upon them both peace and plenty, filling their hearts with joy and gladness; whence it com­meth to passe that many dare vaunt there is no God, promising unto themselves liberty of doing what they list, grow most loose and licentious, and draw unto themselves whole multitudes of such as they have corrupted: such a one was Nimrod after the sloud, [Page 46] a Captaine of them which laid the foundation of that never to be finished tower.

But this is a wicked abuse of the divine patience, which is as it were an Arke, wherby the Church is saved, from the overflowings of ungodlinesse. The godly under­standing well the Lords patience, observe thereby how willing he is that all men should repent and bee saved: for being all as wee are borne in sinne, and so fraile ever after, that the best doth oft offend, what hope were there of avoiding his displeasure, if he should not grant time to imbrace those meanes, whereby wee might bee again reconciled to him? And this he doth not once or twice, but often, as our Saviour protested, How oft would I have gathered you? and behold great patience, wherfore from him which would [Page 47] not have us tye our selves to seven times, but doth inlarge it to seventy times seven times, look for the like or greater measure from the length of his owne pa­tience. And this is so farre from breeding any dulnesse in Gods Children, as though this patience were a slacknesse of the Lord in favour of sinne, or a weaknesse as unable presently to punish what he doth not favour, that knowing his purpose therein, they are the more earnestly inforced speedily to returne unto the Lord, and that with great sorrow, having offen­ded him, which is so patient in forbearing of them. And they la­bour so much the more diligently to redeeme what by negligence hath beene omitted often with thankfulnesse, calling to mind this singular benefit, and stirre up others to bee partakers thereof. [Page 48] and unto all those is Gods pati­ence a sanctuary, from his wrath. For them only shall it be turned into fury, which have despised it. If God be so patient, and beare with us, should wee be impatient and not beare with one another? God dealt patiently with him which afterwards tooke his bro­ther by the throat. There is no­thing which more displeaseth the Lord, nothing wherein he desi­reth rather to bee imitated, in so much as he barreth him from all accesse which wanteth patience. Prayer is of such force with God that it winneth any thing from him, yet if thou be impatient, it availeth nothing, for thou askest a good turne of God, and bearest no good mind to thy brother, & therfore he will not heare thee. Wilt thou have God patient? abuse not thy brother as one wan­ting [Page 49] patience. God who doth all things patiently, doth all things wisely; for patience is quiet and patience takes leasure, so that in him followes not this after-wit, I had not wist it. Impatient men are angry and hasty, which two things pervert counsell. Oh vaine man, thou knowest how patiently the Lord hath dealt with thee, and how impatient thou hast beene thy selfe for small matters, dost thou not wonder at both? how the Lord could beare with thee so long, or thou thy selfe so little for Gods sake? The Lord would not have thee perish, here is thy good intended: doe thou that which may turne to thy brothers good, that God may be glorified in thy patience. This made Jacob say unto his brother Esau, I have seene thy face as if I had seene the face of God, and in­deed [Page 50] a patient man is no other then the very Image of God a­mongst men.

Meditation 10. Of Faith and Workes.

AS the Sunne riseth in the East and setteth in the West, so Religion riseth in Faith and setteth in obedience of Workes: and as there cannot bee an East, but there must be also a West, so is there no saving Faith without the obedience of Faith: and as the Morning and Evening make one Day, so Faith and obedience the life of a Christian. I have read of a people which wanting a King did agree on this kind of election, they would goe all to­gether into a broad Field, neare [Page 51] the Towne, and he that could espie the rising of the Sunne first, should bee taken as the worthiest man; so after midnight they went out, to observe the rising of the Sunne, and the whole multitude had their Eyes fixed on the East, one only amongst them, wiser then the rest, looked toward the West, at whom they all marvel­led much; but when the day be­gan to dawne, and all others were intentive Eastward, to take notice of the Sunnes rising, this fellow which stood Westward, be­fore they wist of it, shewed them the rising of the Sunne, in the tops of the Houses and Towers of the City: It is a common conceit of them, which take notice of Re­ligion in any, to looke towards his Faith and profession, because indeed Religion doth begin, and as it were rise there; but they [Page 52] which are wise will look towards obedience and Workes, because Religion doth first appeare there; it may bee hid in Faith, and thou canst not certainly discerne it, for there is ods betweene Faith and profession; but if his Workes bee good and godly, thou maist boldly presume, that the Sunne of righteousnesse is risen on him, and hath with his beames of Religion enlightned him: wherefore James saith, Pure re­ligion and undefiled before God, and the father, is this, to visit the fatherlesse and widowes in their adversities, and to keep himselfe unspotted of the world: marke how he judgeth of Religion, not by Faith, but obedience; and yet there is no Religion pure, but by Faith; because Faith is also to be tried by obedience, in the sight of men, as obedience by Faith before [Page 53] God; And Christ useth the same direction, Hereby shall all men know you are my Disciples, if yee love one another; and love as yee know containeth all duties of the Law; and hence is Christs answer in the Gospell, to such as shall say at the day of judgment, Have not wee taught, and preached, and done great Workes in thy name? Depart from me, I know you not, all yee workers of iniquity: Christ looked not on their profession, but practice. There is a know­ledge of the truth, and that wee have from Faith, beleeving in the Death, Resurrection, and Ascen­sion of Christ; and there is an ex­perience of the truth, when the vertue of these things beleeved, doth worke in our lives, as when by the power of Christs Death, wee die unto sinne; and by the power of his Resurrection, [Page 54] wee arise unto newnesse of life; and by the power of his Ascen­sion are heavenly minded. When wee are come to knowledge, wee passe on to trust, and confidence, by applying to our selves the pro­mises of the Gospell; so when wee are come to this trust, wee must passe on to experience, and triall in our lives, by imitating those things in our selves which Christ hath done for us; this is that which Saint Paul saith, wee all behold as in a mirrour the glory of the Lord, with open face, and are changed into the same Image: from glory to glory: as by the spirit of God, God sheweth his face open to us in the Gospell, wee behold it by Faith, wee are changed into the same by speciall trust and confidence, that the things there promised, belong un­to us, as remission of sinnes, the [Page 55] righteousnesse of Christ, freedome from death, and the gift of eter­nall life; and wee passe from glory to glory, by the experience spoken of, when the vertue of the things wee beleeve, doth worke in our lives, and make us holy, as he is holy; and wee have both righte­ousnesse inherent and imputed; and for this cause, Paul speaking of the same matter to the Philippi­ans, doth not count himselfe per­fect, or to have as yet attained the full end of his calling, for though he had begun in the first degree to beleeve, and gone forward to the second for application, yet had he much to doe in the last, as long as it should please God to lend him life. But you will say, what doth the vertue of Christs Passion, Resurrection, and Ascension be­long to us? As the sap of the stock belongs to the graft, so wee being [Page 56] grafted into Christ by a lively Faith, that vertue of his, whereby hee overcame death, rose againe and ascended, must needs grow up in us, to bring forth like fruits; and to signify this union, he in other places is called the head, and the faithfull members of the same body; a vine, and the faith­full branches of the vine; and how this union is made betweene Christ and the faithfull, the Sa­crament of Christs blessed body and bloud, doth not only repre­sent, but that it is done also, as often as the faithfull doe rightly receive the same, it doth testify; and therefore there is not bare bread, or a signe only, but the bo­dy and bloud of Christ really, yet not grosly, as the Papists imagine, but after a heavenly manner to the Soule, to Faith; neither is it necessary for this union, and the [Page 57] benefit thereof, that it should be locall, so as Christs body must enter into ours, but when Faith doth embrace Christ, crucified for us, that the Spirit, whose power is not tied to distance of places, make the faithfull man partaker of those gifts and graces of his redemption, which can be no o­therwise derived unto him, but from the humane nature of Christ which suffered, and as hee is a member of Christ.

Meditation 11. Of Merit.

THere is a great question be­tweene the Papists and us, what workes please God best, ei­ther such as are done to Merit, or of duty: they say workes done of [Page 58] duty have lesse zeale; but belike they separate duty from love: wee say, workes done to Merit savor more of pride, and cannot please God of themselves, because they want duty: and if wee should joine with them in an issue about zeale, it might bee proved that their zeale for the glory of God is not so great, which worke to Merit as the others. Saint Paul, as appeareth in his Epistle to the Philippians, wrought not to Merit, but of duty and love: he which worketh to Merit, must remember what is past, and examine all his workes from the beginning to the end, whether they be worhty that reward which he meanes to challenge; but Saint Paul work­ing of duty, forgot what was past as though he had done nothing, and his mind was only on that which he might be able to do far­ther [Page 59] as long as God would give him life, according to that of our Saviour, When yee have done all that you can, say, you are unpro­fitable servants: as if he should say, thinke so meanly of what you have done, that you count it your duty to doe much more as long as you live, even as much as you can, and yet shall you be unpro­fitable servants, both in respect of the grace used, and not turned to the best advantage, and in respect of the glory to bee received, for which, you can give no worthy recompence, saving that it is the fathers will for my sake to give it to you, & what he hath promised, he will in justice performe: Belike Christ when he spake so much of duty, meant to take zeale from workes nothing at all; but to adde the more love and willing­nesse, which is the cause of zeale, [Page 60] to the base and slavish mind, a be­nefit past is of no force, whereas the free and gentle heart is dispo­sed towards a good turne recei­ved; but because both they and wee agree thus farre, that good workes are necessary, let us rather busy our selves about doing well, then disputing wittily. God grant that I may remember. I am a Christian; if this bind me not to doe good, nothing will; if I doe unfeignedly what I can, God will bee mercifull where I faile, and Christ will rather want merits, then I shall want reward.

Meditation 12. Pastorall cure.

THey which know what be­longs to a flock, are not ig­norant [Page 61] of the care of a Shep­heard, or the necessities of Sheep; neither is it an unworthy consi­deration, for out of Shepheards have been taken Kings, and Kings in time past have not refused to be Shepheards, and they which at this day doe rule in the State, have this as no meane title of their authority, to be stiled Shep­heards of the people; yea God himselfe doth vouchsafe to ex­presse the Government which he taketh over his people, under the title of Shepheard; and Christ Jesus our Lord who died for mankind, is called the great Shep­heard of our Soules. And indeed the charge over a flock or people are much like; wee in England, have a great desire to deale on Sheep; and it is one of the chiefest commodities in the Countrey; they are so profitable, their Wool [Page 62] is in great request at home, and with strangers, their bodies are good for meat or medicine, yea their very excrement have their use; they are gentle of nature, not dangerous to be handled as other beasts which are armed to defend or offend, howbeit in this doth not the resemblance hold so well; but if you respect the weaknesse and necessities of Sheep, it may notably expresse the care, the faithfullnesse, the diligence which God useth, in governing his peo­ple, God is desirous to rule his servants as a flock of Sheep, not for any great profit he can make of them, neither is it intended of him which needs it not, or lookt for there where it cannot be had, for though their bodies were of excellent imployment by creati­on, yet what are they of them­selves since Adams Fall, but cages [Page 63] of uncleane Birds, nests of sinne, grievously tainted with a sick­nesse that in Sheep makes carcasse and Wool unprofitable? It is alone then for our profit, that hee will have us under govern­ment, the Laws which he makes, are not for his owne good, which is infinite goodnesse in himselfe; but for ours: neither the courses which wee undertake under his direction for his happinesse, who is eternall happinesse himselfe, but for ours. True it is, that he addeth unto his Law authority, to make us the rather yeeld un­to that, which is for our benefit, and from his authority, doth proceed reward or punishment, that wee may know hee com­mandeth not in vaine. Moreover the government of men (as they best know, which know State matters) is the men themselves, [Page 64] being so variable, full of discon­tent and malice, above all Crea­tures, if wee will count them tame, because of reason wee shall find them wild and savage by e­vill course and custome of life; notwithstanding, God doth make them so his owne, whom he rules as his flock, that none shall be able to pull them out of his hands, he will not lose one of the least of them, he leaveth the ninety and nine, to seek out the wandring and lost Sheep, and when he hath found him, layeth him on his shoulders with joy, and retur­ning home, maketh merry with his Neighbours for the Sheep that was lost, but is found; he knoweth his Sheep, and is known of them, he will lay downe his life for his Sheep, and will not forsake them; he bringeth them into the sweet pastures of his ho­ly [Page 65] Word, and refresheth them with the coole Waters of his Spi­rit, he hath a rod and a staffe, the rod keeps in his Sheep, and the staffe keeps out the Wolfe: by all which it commeth to passe, that no flock is in such state as his, they have a comely order in their going forth, a provident provi­sion of needfull things, and sure safety all about them: happy is he that can say, The Lord is my Shepheard; he that is not of this fold, is of the Devils wast; Christ hath many promises of good to be done unto his flock, and for his flockes sake it is he cannot abide the Wolfe, of which one is no good Neigbour, and the o­ther, a deadly enemy to Sheep; I count him the Wolfe which is the knowne adversary, and the Goat is the loose Christian; the adversary hath a bloudy mind, [Page 66] and the loose Christian is offen­sive by an ill life.

Meditation 13. Dulnesse of Spirit.

THere is no disease more dan­gerous to a religious Soule, then dulnesse or heavinesse of Spirit, which makes the ground of the heart so cold, that the seed of grace lyeth for a time▪ as it were dead, and hath no growth: it makes the Christian either fear­full or slow to doe good, and layeth him open to tentations: it ariseth from the corruption of nature which is froward, in­creaseth by diseases and discon­tentments, and groweth to a head by particular doubts and uncer­tainties: it hath strange Symp­tomes, [Page 67] even in those which have beene well schooled and trained up in Christianity: it suggesteth and would perswade them well­neare, that it is all as well with the godlesse as the godly, that he is in as good cause, that sweareth as he that feareth an oath, that an upright conscience is but a ce­remonious scrupulosity, forma­lity and complement may serve as well, that the world is not so unworthy a thing, as lightly to be set by, and the joyes of Heaven belong rather to Angels then men: it is offended at hearing or reading Gods word, prayers, good workes, holy meetings, and hath some exception against them all; it will perswade thee in par­ticular, that God doth not regard or so much as respect thy service, and close with thee this at last, if thy calling bee so worthy as [Page 68] thou wouldst make it; yet art thou unworthy of thy calling, unfit, and so farre from speeding in it, that it were better for thee to doe any other thing, or just nothing. I know not whereunto I may better compare this disease, then to that which in women yong with child they call Longing, when the stomach stopt with ill humours, the appetite is altered, and the Patient importunately desireth strange meats; so in this cause naturall inbred corrupti­ons striving against grace, and abounding within, doe alter the godly appetite, making Gods servant loath his ordinary diet, and exercises, as being uncom­fortable, unsavory, and to affect strange things contrary to the health of the Soule. They which travell by Sea when they see it once calme, and on a sudden to [Page 69] dance and shake, and know no cause why, looke for a tempest shortly after; so this dulnesse or heavinesse which is so unquiet and out of order, goeth many times before some greater sinne; let it be considered whether such a kind of dulnesse came not on David before his adultery, and numbring the people; on the Disciples, before they forsooke their master, and specially on Pe­ter before he denied his Lord. I put a difference betweene this hea­vinesse or dulnesse of spirit, and that hardnesse of heart, deadnesse or benumming, which is proper to the wicked: in cause; for that proceeds from customes and ha­bits in sinne, from wilfull stub­bernesse; this from the reliques of corruption, yet abiding in Gods children: in degree; that is with­out sense or feeling, Like a lethar­gy; [Page 70] this hath some resistance, and like the fit of an Ague, in event: that doth make them worse, and in the end overcome them; this the godly doe overcome, and af­ter grow the better advised. The meanes to avoid this dulnesse, is to converse with God, and to keep our hearts in ure with him, by calling to mind every day his benefits generall, particular, cor­porall, spirituall, what he hath done for thy Soule already, what he will doe farther, then to ex­amine thy selfe how thou hast beene answerable that day for such kindnesse and love unto thee, then to fall to prayer, asking pardon for thy sinnes, with a faithfull and penitent heart, and entring into a new league be­tweene God and thy Soule, to forsake sinne more earnestly, and to serve God more carefully then in times past.

Meditation 14. Of Joy.

IT is good to rejoyce ever; and never to rejoyce, I meane car­nally: wee must not set up Joy as an Idol in our hearts, as though there were no higher matter; if a man ask us why wee are merry, wee can say nothing, but because wee love to be merry, yet ought wee to preferre God to our Joy, and the glory of God, the good of our Neighbour, and the health of our Soules; wee must so rejoyce in temporall things, that wee barre not our selves from heavenly comforts; wee must be so familiar with out­ward things, that wee grow no­thing the more strange with God: if otherwise, wee sell our birth­right [Page 72] for Esaus Broth, Canaan for the flesh-pots of Egypt, and as it is commonly said, Wee goe out of Gods blessing into a warme Sunne. Take heed then to thy selfe, it is lawfull for thee to use the blessings of God for thy ne­cessity, I say more, for thy com­fort and recreation, so farre forth as doth concerne thy person, yea thy state and calling; but if thou use them for thy recreation only, and have no farther or better end, thou wilt quickly fall to the a­buse, respecting rather what thy appetite doth crave, then God allowes; God allowes no such use of his creatures, as makes thee the lesse able or willing to serve him, wherefore a restraint at least in affectation touching these things, is better then by loosing too much the reins to our unruly flesh, to suffer it to take the bridle [Page 73] and runne away; let the feare of God be the steward of our expen­ces, and it shall make a good ac­count for us; if it cause us to passe by many worldly delights, yet wil yield unto our consciences the sounder comfort, for God doth bring unto him the joyes of the Holy Ghost, which willingly for­sakes outward pleasures; the la­ter end of such joyes is woe, but of this it is said, No man shall take it from you; Wilt thou rejoyce ever? (me thought I heard thee say so) bee sad ever to the world: if thou smile with it, let it bee from the teeth outward, ingage not thy heart: A strange Paradox, that a man should bee sorry to make himselfe merry; and these as strange, wee must stand in feare to make our selves bold, wee must bee fooles to bee made wise, wee must die, that wee may live.

Meditation 15. Humane reason.

IS not this our common an­swer, Have I not reason to do as I doe? yet are wee not to live by reason, but by faith, wheras we should rather say, Doth not Gods word warrant mee to do, as I do? If Religion were but the improve­ment of Reason, how would men entertaine it as their owne, wher­as now they suspect it as a stran­ger? Many have thought that the Articles of Religion might winne credit from principles evident to the light of nature, and that Phi­losophy hath laid as good grounds as Divinity: Surely Hu­mane learning can convince us well enough of many things wee doe, but cannot bring us forward [Page 75] In that wee ought to doe for salvation; it was a power in na­ture created, to obey and beleeve if it would, but now in nature decaied, it is a want, and it is not in mans will to beleeve and obey the truth; and the misery is, that it knoweth not how to find what it hath lost, nor so much as that it hath lost any thing without a borrowed light; the word of God is the powerfull meanes whereby the Holy Ghost which worketh inwardly in our hearts, doth impart this light unto us; our Reason is naturall, Faith su­pernaturall, Reason is the begin­ing of Knowledge, but Faith of Religion. The Papists will say, they have more Reason for their Religion then we, for Free will, Satisfaction, Merits, Purgatory, Prayers, Latine Service, Images, Pilgrimages, Hierarchy, stand all [Page 76] upon good grounds of Reason: Let us give them what they aske, wee may the more boldly chal­lenge truth, without which there is no Religion, and to protest freely what wee maintaine, and wherein wee desire by Gods grace to die, wee follow not Reason in making choice of Religion, but Gods word searching to un­derstand the harder places and easy, keeping our selves within the proportion of Faith, refu­sing not the helpe of Humane learning for the phrase or story, neither the testimony of better times; by this word wee learne, that man hath no good will, nor hath his will power to returne to God, untill grace make the will willing, which of it self is unwil­ling, and then, but not till then, doth it work with grace. What [Page 77] if Reason deny this, and teach the contrary? By the word of God wee learne, that there is no satis­faction for sins besides the death of Christ, no merit to eternall life but his righteousnesse; that sinnes are all mortall by nature, though not equall, that mans righteousnesse, though done in grace is unperfect. What if Reason deny this and teach the contrary? By the word of God, wee learne that bread in the Sacrament is not turned into the very body of Christ, nor wine into his bloud, yet that it is his very body and bloud to the faithfull communi­cant, who is made partaker of whole Christ, not by a grosse and fleshly incorporation, but a ghost­ly and effectuall union. What if Reason deny this, and teach the contrary? By Gods word wee learne, that worshipping of I­mages [Page 78] amongst Christians is but a setting up of Idols, as amongst the Heathen, that Prayers in a strange tongue for the dead, are neither devotion nor charity. What if Reason deny this, and teach the contrary? By Gods word wee learne, that Religion consisteth not in Popish shrift, Penance, difference of Meats, Apparell, Fasting, Pilgrimage, Reliques, Crossing, Holy-oile, Holy-water, Holy-bread, Holy­beades, Holy-bells. What if Rea­son deny this, and teach the con­trary, to the decay of Christian obedience, which consisteth in an inward mortisication, and out­wardly, in a patient bearing of Christs crosse? By the word of God, wee learne, that Christ is the only head of the Church, and doth still governe the same by his spirit and word, from which [Page 79] Gods Ministers or Priests, fetch all their authority, and hath not given over his place to ano­ther, which should take autho­rity above the word. What if Rea­son deny this, and teach the con­trary? By the word wee learne that the Scriptures have suffici­ent instruction to salvation. What if Reason deny it, and put us farther over to traditions, reve­lations, miracles, to enforce do­ctrines contrary to the word; is not Reason justly to be suspected in all these things, as thinking but too well of her self, giving too much liberty to nature, and ju­stifying her owne hypocrisies for Gods good service, of which it will not bee said, as our Saviour of the lesser matters of the Law, the tything of Mint and Cum­min, These things yee should have done, but rather this, Who requi­red [Page 80] these things at your hands, for which yee have left my com­mandements? Now my Soule look to thy selfe, how thou dost make thy choyce, regard not that an­tiquity, universality, succession, pompe, authority, which is not grounded on the truth in the word, all these will follow Hu­mane Reason, regard the word of the Almighty and unchangeable truth it selfe, which is alone suf­ficient without these, and they without it nothing worth.

Meditation 16. Repentance deferred.

In Summer wee can provide for Winter, in Youth wee lay up for Age, but who in health doth prepare for sicknesse? As long as [Page 81] wee doe well, wee will not live well, but put it over to that time when wee have much adoe to live, then can wee not remedy what is past, neither have we lea­sure to do better: Repentance in­deed is never too late, and mer­cy may come on a sudden, but re­pentance in health is the ordi­nary gift of God, in sicknesse ex­traordinary, because he doth not give it him which might, and would not; thou canst tell mee no cause why thou shouldst not repent when thou art well, and I can tell thee many why thou canst not repent when thou art sick, thy heart is a stranger to goodnesse, and God to thee, hardly canst thou heare good counsell, but it is the hardest of all to settle thy selfe on it then when all things grow so trouble­some and uncertaine. Many have [Page 82] said it is too late, would I could have followed it in times past, neither have wee leasure to doe better; Repentance indeed is never too late, but sicknesse is the time past, yet wilt thou not repent in health; Dost thou make but a pastime of repentance? take heed lest sicknesse be unto thee the end of a bad life, which in health thou wouldst not amend, and de­liver thee over to endlesse death. Oh my soule, remember thy owne estate, thou didst put over repen­tance, and God did put thee over to sicknesse; What discomfort was it to thinke on sinnes past, what little hope hadst thou of good to come? how unable wast thou to recollect thy selfe? what meanes didst thou want to bee raised up? if thou hadst any holy desire, any feeling at the last, thou wert more bound to thy Saviour, which [Page 83] sought thee out a wandring sheep; Where art thou now my soule, what doest thou, that which thou didst then promise to close nearer with thy God, who hath given life to thy desire, and yeares to thy life, surely I have escaped a great harme and outlived my selfe, good Lord have mercy on mee, and graunt that I forget not thy goodnesse, nor betray my selfe any more in­to the hands of danger; thou knowest well enough what I am, the worse for my abused health, and if any thing the better for my sicknesse, it is thy favour; I like not my amendment halfe so well, as I heartily lament my neglected time.

Meditation 17. Gifts of God and Men.

ALl blessings without that one, for whose sake they are bestowed, are but a curse, other blessings are given for a good life, which is the chiefest blessing; they are good, but this makes us good; they make us welcome to men, as strength makes us welcome to the weake, learning to the simple, wealth to them which want, au­thority to such as are oppressed, but this makes us welcome to our owne consciences, which enter­taine us with a continuall feast, to God which sayes, welcome good servant; for them wee must make reckoning, but for this wee shall receive a crowne of righte­ousnesse: yet see! that men alto­gether [Page 85] admire and desire most the former kind of gifts, to them give they a stile, they come not with­out grace, excellency, majesty, ho­linesse, they call those that have them, rulers, benefactors, Lords, Princes, but a good man is in no note, no request, and indeed he needs it not, for he hath more then all the world can give him, and his commendation is not from men, but God. Christ our Saviour the wisest steward, pro­vided not for himselfe or us bles­sings of the former kind, but of the latter; Judas had the bagge and Peter the sword: but Christ in his heart had righteousnesse, even to his lipps outwardly; there was no guile found in his mouth, and what he did by doctrine, miracles, passion for us, tended to this end, that being delivered from the cap­tivity of sinne, wee might bee [Page 86] made free men of righteousnesse, and shew forth good workes to Gods glory. The greatest gifts to this purpose that ever were be­stowed on mankind, was on that glorious day, a white and happy day, the Lords day, a sunday, 50 daies after the resurrection, when according to his promise like a Prince new crowned, he showred down the gifts of the Holy Ghost on his Church, cloven and fiery tongues, in terpretatiō of tongues, knowledge to open the Scrip­tures, and to apply them, pro­phecy, healing, discerning of spi­rits, and the like; by which gifts Christ hath subdued the world, and brought men from Idolatry and wickednesse, to true godli­nesse and righteousnesse: amongst which doe excell Apostles, Mar­tyrs, Confessors, Virgins, more famous in christianity then the [Page 87] demi-gods, which anciently in the ruder times of the world, have stored it with the rare invention of divers things profitable to the life of man. Oh my soule, how hast thou admired state great­nesse, authority, possession, traine and pompe, and if not to be one of them, yet to bee neere unto them, and though farther of, yet that the beames of such glory might shine on thee? And now observe whether in the meane while God hath not offered thee, and thou by thy neglect hast lost better things, and so hast pro­ved to God unthankfull, unpro­fitable to thy selfe: Call to mind thy baptisme, what intends it? that thou following this most honourable profession into which thou hast entered, shouldest bee enabled and incouraged to live a new life after the spirit, and be­come [Page 88] a good man to God: to this purpose comming to dis­cretion, God instructed thee in his word, there wast thou made acquainted with the royall law, his statutes and ordinances, and with all the provisions, cautions, admonitions drawne from the same by the Prophets; hence wert thou led on to the Gospell, which met thee with abundant and effe­ctuall grace, and for thy better assurance that thou art received into the society and body of Christ, he fed thee often in his blessed Sacrament with his owne body and bloud, and for thy bet­ter guide in this course of salva­tion, he hath afforded thee his owne, and the examples of his holy ones, which have shined as lights in a darke place. What doth want unto thee, that in the sight of God thou art above all that is [Page 89] great in the world? think not then too highly of transitory things, nor too basely of thy selfe, re­member what thou hast received, and whereunto God calleth thee, and thou shalt have no cause to complaine of thy lot.

Meditation 18. Suspition.

I Know not wherefore Suspiti­on is good, except on just cause, and then it is providence; but to make our idle conjectures the arrowes, and other men the butts, and to hit them which are not in our way, because wee have a crooked aime: this is for want of charity, and from too much love of our selves; wee love our selves so well, that wee would [Page 90] have all men worse then our selves, and so little doe wee love others, that wee care not how bad wee make them. If Suspition hunt like a yong dogge which knowes not his game, it is taken oft with a lye, and falls soone into a dead fault; but if it worke an experi­ence and triall, it gives soone over where it is not good, and never holds but where it should. Vaine feares and vaine suspitions are much like, for feare makes us suspect the helpes which might do us good, and Suspition makes us feare friends, which meane us no hurt; and both betray their followers, feare to danger, and Suspition to shame, the one by refusing her owne strength, the other by discovering his owne weaknesse. If Suspition come of weaknesse it is the more tolera­ble, but if for want of charity, [Page 91] and strengthned with malice, it is intolerable, and to be hated, for it rangeth farre, and runneth riot, and will bee under no command, you shall never satisfy it though you would, neither can it satisfy it selfe but by complaints. What poyson lieth hid under Suspition may appeare, because it breedeth jealousy betweene man and wife, for what is jealousy, but the Sus­pition of a stranger? In this cause the parties are so disquieted, that the joy which they took by each other doth decay, their society becomes odious, and a cursed parting (the bane of holy wed­lock) followes. The suspitions man as he is no good husband, so is he a bad neighbour and a worse friend, an unruly servant, and a crooked master, he mistakes more then he takes in good part, he will not lend a good turne for [Page 92] feare of losing his labour, and and yet hath lost all judgment, because he will not lend so much as a good opinion, hee heares what men speak when they are silent, and seeth them doing some­thing amisse when they are a­sleepe, he doth challenge the fair­est proceedings of a foule intent, he thinkes all men naught and is the worst himselfe, he trusts no man in private and is publiquely noted, he hath a window in every mans breast, and an eye into every mans window; a cleare minde thinkes of others as of himselfe at all times; he doth passe over that which may have any good construction, & many times takes no notice of ill or offence, he con­sults not with tales and opinions, but out of discretion, and ob­serves both what humane society doth require, and how far charity [Page 93] must bear and may win a stranger.

Meditation 19. Of Gaine.

A Desire of Gaine, if wee have a greater desire of Gods glo­ry and the common good, if it be limited within the bounds of na­ture and honesty, if it be our owne and not to gaine by anothers losse, is not to be condemned, yet are wee scarsly to desire Gaine by our Saviours rule: That which wee may lawfully desire, we may honestly seeke, but Christ will not have us seeke the things be­longing to Gaine, but to the kingdome of God, and to accept the other as it falleth out; mean­ing that our whole purpose of living here, should be set on our [Page 94] spirituall life with God, to make our advantage that way, and that our naturall and civill life should receive their convenient blessings from God, without our cark or vexation, though not without our employment, without gai­ning our affections, though com­manding our meanes. There is sometimes a fault in the desire when it is greedy, and in the Gaine when it is filthy, and com­monly a greedy de [...]ire doth not refuse filthy Gaine, and when they goe both together it is the worse. Usury is not only a desire, but a greedy desire of filthy Gaine, yea unsatiable and cruell, a Gaine and a staine to the Soule of him that useth it, a Gaine and a paine to the heart of him that payeth it, a Gaine and a traine of the Devill, by the love of mony to bring men to perdition: Yea [Page 95] but much good commeth to the Common-wealth by usury; and the like is said of witch-craft, men else will not lend, as much to say as they will not be Christians; but will you bee so bold as to con­demne all usury? I referre you to your conscience a little rectified, deale as you would be dealt with­all, abuse not thy neighbours want, use the honest meanes of some calling, depend on Gods blessing, and tell mee what course of usury is lawfull, many lend not for themselves but for Or­phanes. A speciall cause, and hath speciall rules of conscience; many pay use, the occasion of borrow­ing may accuse or excuse; the greatest Gaine, and the surest pro­fit is God lives, for it hath the promises of this life and that which is to come, and joyneth piety with prosperity; But what [Page 96] are promises worth (say some) who will stand on them? promi­ses are but debts, and debts are not willingly paid though pro­mised by forfeit under hand and seale. True betweene man and man, but betweene God and man not so, because his promise is bet­ter then any mans performance; think not small of the promise of his love. But I see no experi­ence, I have no feeling of this pro­mise, David did when he said I never saw the righteous for­saken. David many times beleeved without feeling, and so doe thou, if thou find it hard, pray that thou maist, for it is full of reward. If thou be godly, I permit thee to deale with the earth, or natu­rall ready and ordinary Gaine, shee takes no hurt, thou much advantage; thy diligence maketh her bountifull, thou lendest a [Page 97] little, and shee payes thee home with great store; I know thou wilt as willingly deale with the poore, an excellent usury, God is the pay-master, not according to thy merit, but far above, of his owne mercy; for the interest of unrighteous Mammon, behold a crowne of righteousnesse with Christ: for him, forsake Father, Mother, Brother, Sister, House and what not else! and receive a hundred fold, is not this Gaine enough? will not such Gaine content thy desire? this or none. Two things hast thou (oh my soule) to avoid about worldly Gaine, distrust, if it come not; se­curity, if it doe: Doe thy meanes faile? thou hast a father carefull of thee above all meanes; Art thou not rich to the world? it is better [...] rich towards God; of a li [...] give a little, God respecteth [Page 98] according to that a man hath, not according to that he hath not, and loveth a cheerfull rather then a costly giver; thou must learne to wait on God from day to day, it is thy obedience, his glory; if thou bee rich, thy account will bee the harder to make. Things themselves are not good to thee, but in their lawfull use, they serve not thy turne ex­cept thou serve God with them, make not that a snare to entangle thee in vanity, which is given thee for the exercise of vertue; Alas, why complainest thou when any crosse interrupts thy world­ly proceedings, and dost not feele the losse of spirituall grace, whiles thou art thwarted in a good course by sinne? why art thou so well pleased at good suc­cesse, and dost not rejoyce rather for the good seedes of thy regene­ration, [Page 99] for the fruits of thy faith, hope, love, zeale, patience, cha­stity, meeknesse, temperance, so­briety and the rest, for that thou hast found or art directed in the way, to find the treasure of inesti­mable worth and value, to wit, the keeping of a good conscience? this that thou dost not, ought to make thee mourne and lament, and thou shouldest not take com­fort in that wealth which keeps thee from feeling thy dayly want and enjoying sound prospe­rity.

Meditation 20. Of Giving.

GAining is good if it bee to give, for Giving is better; God gaines nothing by any, yet [Page 100] gives all, that is his perfection; the light of the Sun and Moone, the influence of the Planets, the sweetnesse of the aire, the variety of seasons, the fatnesse of the cloudes, the fruitfulnesse of the earth, the fulnesse of the Sea, the vertue of herbes, the beauty of flowers, the profit of beasts and cattle, the price of Gold, Silver, and pretious stones are nothing to him, nay the redemption of mankind, the gathering of the Saints, the gifts of the Church, the graces of men, our regenera­tion, sanctification, prayers, sa­crifices and services are nothing to him, for he is his owne per­fection; ours it is to gaine and give, receive and bestow, of all things besides God it may be said, what have they which they have not received? yea the creatures which have most, as Angels and [Page 101] men have received most, and are the more bound to the giver, wherefore their first perfection is to receive, but because to give, to bestow, is a farther extent of per­fection, and more answerable to the perfection of him which is the giver of all good, therefore is it a better thing, and as our Savi­our said, by Pauls report, a more blessed, to give, rather then to re­ceive, a better good, the chiefe good; a better good, that's vertue, the chief good, that's happinesse; the life of every vertue is action, and happinesse the perfection of actions, and action of vertue is nothing else but a giving of good in some kind, as the act of justice, to give every one his owne, of fortitude to give courage against death, of temperance to give a measure to pleasures, of prudence to give order to affaires, of libe­rality [Page 102] to give gifts where and when it is convenient, and there­fore as wee say, there is a kind of justice in all vertues; so is there a kind of liberality, though one kind of giving for his use and ex­cellency be so specially called, for he which giveth of his owne to relieve another, doth it most free­ly without any consideration to move him, besides the love of ver­tue, and for the good which comes thereof is deemed a God amongst men, for which cause Princes are by a speciall title ter­med Gods, because as their places require them to doe all vertuous actions more then others, so a­bove all, they are enabled to give liberally, and by giving to helpe many; he that doth good unto his neighbour according to the action of any vertue, gives him his helpe more worth then goods, [Page 103] and therefore gives in the true na­ture of giving, and if his helpe be for the soule and the life to come, the gift is greater then if it per­tained to this life only; and yet I know not how they which give out their goods freely to the com­fort of others, win a more deep affection and excellent reputati­on, then they which doe good according to any other vertue: yea a liberall man hath the com­mendation of all vertue, hee is thought wise, because he knowes the true use of riches; valiant, because he can overcome the co­vetous desire which rules too ma­ny; just, because hee willingly makes that to be anothers, which is his owne; because he thinkes it more due unto him for the good which may come thereof; tem­perate, because hee doth with­draw much from superfluity and [Page 104] excesse, that he may have where­with to doe others good, and hee will spend the lesse to give the more. Wee must gaine then that wee may give, and wee must receive that wee may bestow, and doe good with that wee have, the one is blessed for the other, and therefore the latter rather blessed then the other; but hee which thinkes that to keepe in his gaines is the only way to doe himselfe good, as if they were all lost, if others should occupy with him, hath as poore a trade as he which hid his talent in a napkin, of which came no advantage for lack that it was not put out: every Christian must know himselfe to bee as it were the stomach, to digest, and disperse those gifts which he receiveth, to the good of Christs body; Christ emptied himselfe to fill us, hee [Page 105] being rich (saith Paul) for your sakes became poore, that you through his poverty might bee made rich; What he got of his Father, by his holy life or pa­tient death, he bestoweth on us, and what he might justly claime at our hands, for his gifts be­stowed on us, he leaves to bee disposed by us, to the good of our mother, as the Tithes of our goods on the Ministers which watch not for his, but our good; Almes of our goods, which the poore receive, and hee accepteth and rewardeth, as if they were bestowed on himselfe; and if he bestow a spirituall grace on mee, he looks not for the returne, but puts it over to the brethren, as when he said, I have prayed for thee Peter, that thy faith faile not, strengthen thy brethren; and for the good instruction which wee [Page 106] receive in the Church to our soules health, hee bindes us to teach and exhort one another. A Christian then hath a life both active and passive, the one all in receiving, the other all in giving: he doth receive faith, hope, cha­rity; and all this while nature doth nothing, grace doth all: then after by grace he liveth in doing good, according to his faith, hope, and love; the first life brings him into the favour of God, the second into the pos­session of his kingdome; to doe thy selfe most good is to depart with thy goods unto others, and in this cause they are kept better to serve thy turne, then if they were in thine owne keeping, for if thy treasure be in the hand of the poore, Christ is thy treasu­rer, who will make thee good ac­count of all such expenses. I speak [Page 107] strange things to the eares of men, addicted to this life, where plenty is before want, and prosperity before poverty, to whom giving seemes spending, and receiving a fruitfull harvest, but to the spiri­tuall man whose life is in God, it is plaine as grounded upon a true contempt of the world, and is the right exercise of charity which Christians must regard, and Christ at the last day will confirme it to be true, by that finall judgment, when hee shall pronounce them blessed which have given, and o­thers cursed which have had more care to gaine, then give. Oh my soule think nothing thine, that charity bids thee spare, or if it be thine, it is by the right of u­sing it well to the good of others, for the rest thou shalt answer, as for things stollen.

Meditation 21. Say well and doe well.

LEt every man speake as hee meanes, but first let him meane well, for he which useth to speak well and hath no good meaning, doth soone prove a dis­sembler: it is simply good alwaies to meane well, for that causeth a man to speak well, and to be the same in deed which he is in word; let every man speak as he list, so he live well, saith another, as though men could speak without affe­cting, as many times they speak without truth. He that doth use to speak ill will shortly bee the man he speakes of, transforming himselfe by little and little into the Image of his owne words; such a man indeed speakes plain­ly, [Page 109] but dangerously to himselfe and others, for his meaning being no better then his speech, he im­boldens himselfe and corrupts o­thers; and this is the rule, Custome of good speech doth not alter the meaning which is ill, but the use of ill speech doth alter the meaning which is good, and make it naught: whence it is, if I heare a man speak well, I am still uncertain, but if I see him do well, then I certainely know him, though he bee silent, because his meaning is shewed truly in deed, which in words is dark or doubt­full. It is the proverb, Say well is good, but do well is better; How is it good if it make not a bad man the better, or prove not one to be good? nay it is oft times the vizard of a foule face, the curtaine of an uncleane bed, the plaister of a festered soare, the seeling of some [Page 110] rotten wall, and is first a coun­tenance to sinne, which lyeth hid under it, and in the end a disgrace to goodnesse, as though it were nothing else but verball: Where­fore say well is good, not positive­ly, or simply of it selfe, but priva­tively, that is, lesse hurtfull then doing or saying ill, respectively as it is joyned with a good mea­ning, so say well is good when it shewes a man as he is affected, but doe well is better, for that is the fruit of a good affection. The vessell doth yeeld such liquor as it hath, and as the mans trade is, so is his talke: oh my soule con­ceive thy thoughts according to the Idea of that divine good­nesse, which thy mind doth be­hold, and when they are borne into words, Jacobs lambes shall not be more like the party-colou­red stickes, laid before the Ewes, [Page 111] in time of conception, then thy words and deeds shall be unto that Idea; but if thou suffer thy selfe to talke without good mea­ning, thy words shall be without feeling, and rather to condemne thy selfe then to amend others. Another proverb is, that true meaning hath no fellow; there is none to whom thou maist com­mit thy selfe more safely, and which will doe thee more good then true meaning; it will save thee from sinne and shame, and make thy word and deed both one, and it will cause thy friend safely to commit himselfe unto thee, and to find as much good in thy words and deeds, as thou dost in thy owne true meaning; by it thou shalt free thy selfe from much lip-labour, and study of cloquence, for true meaning shall teach thee to speak in few words, [Page 112] and yet to bee well understood, and shall adde such grace and force to thy words, as if perswasi­on her selfe did speak for thee: but who speakes without true meaning hath lost his voice, because he speaketh from an hol­low heart which yeelds an un­certaine sound, and if men heare any thing it is the least part, and as an eccho it is presently gone; A sound heart makes a sound tongue, the tongue in nature can­not, and in reason should not move without the heart, and ther­fore if the tongue move of it selfe, or before the heart, order is bro­ken, and it is ominous: to say as wee meane, is to follow God who is truth it selfe; but to doe other­wise is to imitate the practice of the Devill, who by this deceived our first parents.

Meditation 22. Of Obedience.

THere is an Obedience of the Law, and an Obedience of Faith; the Obedience of the Law tels mee what I ought to be, the Obedience of faith leades mee un­to it; the Obedience of the law condemns mee, for not being as I ought, the Obedience of faith doth quit mee from the law; the Obedience of the law doth bring mee into bondage of the curse, the Obedience of faith makes mee an inheritor of the blessing; in my mind I doe allow the obedience of the law, but in my conscience I trust to the Obedience of faith; I am cotent that my life be orde­red by the Obedience of the law, but look to be censured by the [Page 114] Obedience of faith; The Obedi­ence of the law hath boasting and merits, repentance, pardon, ac­ceptation, desire unfaigned, be­long not to the Obedience of the law, but of faith; I have nothing to boast of, except I should boast of my owne shame, and I have no claime but mercy: Except God look on my repentance and for­give my sinnes in Christ, except he do accept what is done in his feare, and pardon what is left undone, except he regard my de­sire, more then my deserving, and measure my desires rather by their sincerity, then their strength, what will become of mee?

Meditation 23. Temptation.

SHake not hands with any Tentation, but turne quickly and fly speedily from it, as Jo­seph did from his Mistresse; it is a greater hap not to goe downe into such a pit, then any sure hope to returne out of it. Oh my soule thou knowest what I meane, and thou feelest the danger, thou canst more truly dislike sinne then leave it, and hate it then be rid of it; yet he which commanded Lazarus forth of the grave, can raise thee, and hath he not done a like thing for thee? Why dost thou still love danger to fall into it? I neither love the danger nor the fall, but sinne pleades cu­stome, and the more I yeeld, the [Page 116] lesse able am I to resist. I am only strong in opinion, but weake in Tentation, and I find more safety in flying then fighting; while I stand on my guard, my weapons to which I ordinarily trust, are striken out of my hands, the base towne of my senses is surprised, the castle of reason so battered and shaken, that consent who is Cap­taine of the place falls to a par­ley, and yeeldes on any condi­tions to my losse: How far bet­ter had it beene for mee to have avoided the fury of Saul, by wan­dering in the wildernesse, bar­ring my selfe of those betwitch­ing vanities!

Meditation 24. Presumption and Despaire.

PResumption and despaire, the two extremities of faith; faith grounds it selfe on the pro­mise of God, presumption as­sumes unto it selfe Gods mercy without promise, desperation takes no comfort by the pro­mise; Presumption intrudes it selfe into the promise, despera­tion excludes it selfe out of the promise, faith holdes the promise fast, as his proper right; Presum­ption is more bold with God then wise, desperation puts a man more in feare then is safe, faith without boldnesse or feare, is confident; Presumption hurts the conscience most, and layes it o­pen to sinne, desperation wrongs [Page 118] God most, as though he would not or could not be mercifull to a sinner, faith doth keep the con­science from sinne to come, and makes the way for Gods mercy, for the pardon of sinnes past; Pre­sumption hath an eye only on the mercy of God, desperation on his justice, and faith doth behold in God both justice and mercy; Pre­sumption is fed by prosperity, impunity, Gods long sufferance, desperation strengthened by some speciall crosse and adversity, at what time sinnes appeare greater, and more in number then before, Faith standeth on the death of Christ, and there doth see both the greatnesse and grievousnesse of sinne, and findeth a way to escape the danger; Presumption doth de­spise the justice of God, the feare whereof might make him fit for mercy, desperation cannot apply [Page 119] unto it selfe the mercy of God in time of need, the helpe whereof might cause him to avoid justice; Presumption doth cause a man to think well of himselfe, of his own wisedome, righteousnesse, and to preferre himselfe before others, desperation doth cause a man to think ill of God, and no other­wise then of a tyrant; Presumpti­on is a Pharisee, despaire a Devill, faith the penitent Publican; final­ly Presumption is a steep cliffe without footing, desperation a deep pit without bottome, and faith Iacobs ladder, by which God comes downe to man, and man goes up to God. Oh my soule thou best knowest thy owne wan­dring, there lies danger on both sides, the common waies are the worst, and that the safest which fewest find; let thy guid be the word of God, walk by faith, pur­pose [Page 120] not to offend, though par­don were granted thee before hand. Hast thou offended? seeke for mercy, not considering so much how great thy sinnes are, but how great is his mercy to them that truly repent. A good conscience may presume of mercy, when it hath no feeling, expecting Gods leasure with patience, and this is to hope above hope, and despaire of her owne sufficiency when it doth most good, so lear­ning to depend ever on God a­lone.

Meditation 25. Society with God.

MAn by nature is sociable, and of all Societies none better for him, if it may be had, [Page 121] then that with God: for if wee enter into a common right with them, of whose Society wee are, how much shall wee by this Soci­ety bee blessed above all others, which possesse God, who is the fulnesse of all good things, and are so possessed of him, that no­thing shall bee able to part us from him? Now behold how thou maist attaine to this neere and in­ward society with God, he which dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him, for God is love, a holy flame burning with the love of goodnesse, the Father lo­veth the Sonne eternally, and the Sonne the Father, and the Holy Ghost is one and the same incom­prehensible love of the Father and the Sonne, three persons but one love, for God is love, and this in­ferior love of the creature is but a beame, a streame of that love, [Page 122] which if it bee so necessary be­tweene the creatures themselves, that the course of things may not bee maintained without it, how much more betweene the Crea­tor, and the creature? for both the being and well-being of the crea­ture, doth depend on the love of the Creator, and these creatures are the lesse happy, how excellent so ever otherwise, as the Sunne, Moone, and other glorious bo­dies, which being loved of God, cannot love him againe. Oh man, what cause hast thou to love God, wch was not content only to make thee a creature, whom he would love, but endued thee also with a nature to love him againe, that so thou mightest enjoy him the more: and certainly as the being of God is love, so there can bee no greater perfection in men, then to love God. God doth give [Page 123] most glorious signes of his pre­sence in Heaven, but out of doubt the Heaven of his delights, and where he is alwaies present, is the soule of a true lover. Love is a quiet thing, yet not idle, active as heat, and nourishing goodnesse like a naturall heat; it is much in giving, much in forgiving; in giving to God his honour, to man convenient helpe and suc­cour; in forgiving wrongs and injuries. Loves kindred is not of flesh and bloud, a Christian unto it is more deare then a brother, and a brother the more deare, if a good Christian. Love soares over all the pleasures, the riches, the honours of the world, and stoopes downe to none of these, because with the Eagle it findes nothing worth the looking on, but Christ Jesus the sonne of righteousnesse. The priviledge of love is this, [Page 124] where there is love it is accepted, not according to the worke, but for the worker, according to that one hath, and not according to that he hath not; many oversights are borne with, where there is love; and where there is no love, the greatest diligence is rejected. Oh my soule, faile in any other thing, rather then in love; though a small measure of knowledge must content thee, yet love God out of measure, above thy selfe for himselfe; doe good unfaign­edly, if not strongly; and let thy heart be ready, when it hath made thy hand empty.

Meditation 26. Of Peace.

I Would that all they which are of one opinion, were of one affection: How well doth it become them that professe one truth to maintaine peace as one man, because the author of their truth hath commended peace un­to them, as the fruit of goodnesse, which springeth up in them that love the truth? Now because they which are one in opinion, are many times differing in affection, truth it selfe which is but one, seemes to be rent in parts, and is ill spoken of by adversaries, which agree with true profes­sors neither in opinion nor af­fection, and shall I wish likewise, that they which are of one affe­ction, [Page 126] as man and wife, parents and children, brother and sister, master and servant were of one opinion? How necessary is it that they which agree in the lesser matters of life, should in the greater much more; and that they which have vowed to be true to one another, should be both true to Christ? but now because they which are of one affection doe square in opinion, the knot of love is broken which truth doth commend, and it seemes that truth is the author of confusion; what then indeed is to be wished? that our opinions be ruled with truth, and our affections tempe­red with love, and this will bring the diversities of men to a world of university, wherein though there be differing parts, both for stuffe and use, yet they shall all tend to the good of one another, [Page 127] and so of the whole chiefly, in­somuch if that come in question once, every particular will lose some part of his interest, rather then the whole shall labour; and this shall be done more strongly by the guide of reason, then by the instinct of nature, where for the same cause, sometimes heavy things climb upwards, and light stoop downe, contrary to both their proper rights; And were it this, then must wee all needs be of one opinion, of one affection, that is, Christians both in name and in truth: for this is the thing which our Christian profession doth chaime of us, and a thing rather indeed to be wished then hoped for; and I think God hath of purpose placed us to live a­mongst such, which if they doe agree with us in affection, they shall disagree from us in opinion, [Page 128] so barring us of this unity, either for the exercise of our vertue, or that wee should bee out of love with the world, and long for the other to come, where wee shall perfectly enjoy it. Howsoever in the meane space, they which will nourish in themselves any hope of comming to such happinesse pro­mised, must maintaine this band of unity, in the communion of Saints, and that is not only to love the truth, but also in truth. Oh my soule, labour for truth, and suffer many things for Peace, prefer the truth before all things, but use the truth to winne thy brother; thou knowest how much truth doth belong to thee as a man, reason searcheth truth; more as a Christian, faith receives truth; give thankes to God, if thou meet with such as can teach thee, and bee as ready to teach [Page 129] others; this will bee a stay from wandring opinions which have no end: but if thou meet with such as love the truth with thee, and affect thee in the truth, give God thankes for such a heavenly blessing, and let not thy oile bee wanting to keep such a lamp bur­ning: Brethren indeed are they, which are of the same profession and affection, Christ is the head of their society, it will never want life, the spring of their affection, it will never want love; and what soever spirituall comfort thou hast in this life, remember the greater part is behind, and there­fore lift up thy selfe for that day, when thou shalt bee present with the Lord.

Meditation 27. Of Love.

TO love the truth is the more worthy Love, and yet to love in truth more urged and re­quired, because that as in the first, there is more excellence in respect of the object, so in the se­cond more evidence, in respect of the subject; and though by the order of teaching, wee learne, first to love the truth, and then to love in truth, yet according to the or­der of nature wee can never profit much in the first, till wee have well practised the other, for love is stirred up by sight and he that loveth not his brother whom he dayly sees, how can he love God whom he never saw? So God lo­veth us first, after wee love him, but [Page 131] this love cannot reach to that heighth, except by certaine de­grees we climb up thither, begin­ning the love of God in the love of our brother. Is not he worthy of my love, whom God hath made partaker of his? and if I forme my selfe to love all men as brethren, shall I not love God the more, which loves all those whom I do love? As we know, so wee love, but God would have us to know and acknowledge himselfe, first in our brother, and to cast our eyes upon him as his Image; and therefore if this may not move us to a due considera­tion of love, for the Image sake, neither will wee love him for his owne sake, who is yet more un­knowne unto us. In love it is a speciall point to observe the dis­position of the beloved, for this makes Love acceptable; now God [Page 132] is specially pleased, when the du­ties which in Love wee owe unto him, are for his sake done unto our brother, and therefore when wee resigne up our hearts to serve God, which is the chiefest of our Love, wee must expresse it in stri­ving to do good one unto another in Love; and he that is thus affe­cted, cannot bee carelesse of his brother, or comfortlesse unto him. Love like fire, it can neither bee idle when it hath matter to work on, nor lye hid; water will not quench it; cover it you cannot, but the flame will break forth: The true lover of God doth embrace him in his heart, his mind ever thinkes on him, and his will desires him; But this is raked up and hidden in the in­ner man, how breaks it forth? by respecting and affecting all men for Gods sake, to his power, [Page 133] above his power, bearing their ne­cessities, for bearing their wrongs, feeling with them in joy or grief, taking part of their harmes, and imparting his owpe advantages unto them. God hath made all his creatures, that in them wee might know his power, reverence his greatnesse, admire his wise­dome, and be thankfull unto him for his bounty, but the only use which wee can make one of ano­ther is this, that by mutuall love for Gods sake, wee love God, not as in his worke onely, which may bee said of the rest, but as in his likenesse, which no work else can yeeld us. Dost thou then love the Olive because of his fatnesse, or the Vine because of his strength, or the Figge-tree because of his sweetnesse? dost thou love the Sunne because he is King of the day, or the Moone because shee [Page 134] is Queene of the night? dost thou love the Fire because of his heat, or the Water because of its moi­sture? dost thou love the Aire be­cause it doth refresh▪ or the Earth because it doth cherish thee? yet hast thou a greater cause then any of these to love thy brother, for the likenesse of God which is in him: love all the Creatures, for in them God hath left the print of his footsteps, but love thy bro­ther more then all, for in him God hath printed his owne face and fashion. Thou wilt say, that coine shall bee currant with mee, which beares my Princes Image, and shall not thy brothers love be currant with thee, who beares the Image of thy God? It seemes when God made man, he resolved on a likenesse to himselfe, rather then any other patterne, that man should love his God better, [Page 135] and be the better beloved of ano­ther man, who is no other then a brother unto him, that is, ano­ther such. Oh my soule, thou knowest well thy own backward­nesse in this duty, and when thou wouldest doe any thing, thy great weakenesse, dost thou not oft thinke so I am well all is well, what a hard charge is this to love my enemy? how unsutable to policy? what a crosse to my life? thou dost preferre thy reputation before common peace, thine owne advantages before thy brothers soules health, and dost not consi­der, how that thou maist not be well, except thou doe well, and doe well thou dost not, if any thing in thee bee wanting, why thy brother is not so too; more, thy particular depends upon the common God: if it bee hard to love thy enemy, yet it is godly [Page 136] and for Gods cause, whose wise­dome if wee follow, let us bee counted fooles; Thou knowest whose speech it is, Am I my bro­thers keeper? the wicked crush one another with such thoughts, and specially are cruell to the good, but they which are Christs, quite and quiet one another with love, oft times man is a keeper of beasts; Why should not one man have care of each other? if so, why not much more of a brother? if not of a brother, of whom? if of none, he which keeps thy brother, will not keep thee.

Meditation 28. A good conscience.

GOd is possessed by love, and the profession of the truth [Page 137] maintained by keeping a good conscience: A good beliefe must bee strengthned by a godly life, and a godly life seasoned with a good beliefe; they are as the two twinnes, which did live toge­ther, and die together. The Chri­stian is in this world as it were in a broad Sea, his profession teacheth him that his Heaven is Heaven, and there is no Card or Compasse can so well direct him in a good course unto it, as a good conscience, whose direction if once he leave, he soone makes shipwrack of his profession: for to use thy faith with a bad consci­ence is as it were to meet with a rock or whirle-poole in thy course; and as it is said of dan­ger, they that love it shall fall in­to it, so they which love the dan­ger of an ill conscience fall by it, by the just judgment of God, in­to [Page 138] the gulph of divers errors con­trary to their profession: Dost thou desire to continue in this holy profession, unto thy lives end? I know thou dost; then look well unto thy conscience: All men are sinners by propagation, that's originall, and by imitation, that's actuall; and this is as true, that every one doth best know his own sinne, and is lesse privy to other mens sins; wherfore the just man is the first accuser of himselfe, for he presumeth as well of others as possibly he can, and assumeth no­thing to himselfe of all his good­nesse, but freely consesseth that sinne is his owne, for which he doth dayly aske pardon, with the rest of Gods children, as, Forgive us our trespasses. A Christian ought to bee that towards his Conscience which a cleanly hus­wife is in her house, if shee see any [Page 139] filth in the floore, or cobwebs in the walls or roofe, shee takes the beasome in hand & sweeps them out; so ought wee still to have an eye on our Conscience, and if there bee any thing offensive, let us labour to remove it, leaving nothing within, which is not pleasing to God, and comfortable to our selves; then shall God de­light to dwell in such a Consci­ence, and wee shall delight to dwell at home in our selves: the wicked, because they have no care to keep cleane their Consciences, when they returne home to them­selves, which is very seldome, find all things out of order and un­quiet, which forth with makes them seek abroad for some out­ward comfort, to forget the strife at home, as they which are chid­den out a doores, by their curst wives: these cannot abide to look [Page 140] on their owne faces, but cast away the glasse which doth discover their deformity; they are like bad debters which cannot abide to cast up their accounts, and come to a reckoning; whereas the good man findeth all his comfort laid up in his owne breast, and hath there the light of cleare beames, though all the world else be benighted. Oh my soule, if thy Conscience bee the Lords house, how cleanly ought it to be kept above all other roomes? if his temple, how oughtest thon to perfume it with the sweet o­dours of holy thoughts, medita­tions, purposes, resolutions and prayers, the bells wherein should bee continuall thanksgivings, to sound aloud the praises of thy God: And this shall be thy war­rant, that doing as thou profes­sest, thou shalt bee still the more [Page 141] in love with thy profession.

Meditation 29. Consideration.

ALI the learned commend Contemplation, Philoso­phers, Divines; but give me Con­sideration. I find my selfe oft in danger, for want not of know­ledge, but Conscience; not of ap­prehension, but reprehension: I know that contemplation is a great help to consideration, as much as wisedome is to prudence; for that is an act of the one, and this of the other, and they are both compared, one to the Sunne, the other to the Moone; one to the Well, the other to the streame; for prudence doth borrow her light from wisedome, and her [Page 142] fruitfull streames issue from that fountaine: yet like I better for my necessity, the pipe which con­veyeth the streame unto me, then a conduit which holdeth the wa­ter whereof I have no use. Con­templation is this conduit, filled up from the well of wisedome; but Consideration is the pipe by which prudence in a true levell doth bring this water home to my house & use; Contemplation is a beame of the understanding cast directly forth, but Consideration a beame of the understanding tur­ned and reflected on it selfe; con­templation cleares my understan­ding, Consideration orders my will; Contemplation makes mee skilfull in the Theorick of good­nesse, but Consideration perfect in the Practique of it; Contem­plation gives mee eies, Conside­ration hands; Contemplation [Page 143] stayeth it selfe within one bare proposition, This God is good, and here it beholdeth how many waies God is good, of himselfe originally, in himselfe effentially; in his work, in his word, statutes, judgments, punishments, corre­ctions, promises, every way, eve­ry where good, yea when he suf­fereth us to bee evill; but Consi­deration proceedeth farther, to an application, how this doth con­cerne himselfe, that I ought to bee good, and to seek that good which I want, in him, who is goodnesse it selfe, and concludes with a resolution, to use the meanes which may cause mee to be good: Consideration is the ex­ercise of conscience and reason, mutually helping one another, or a conscience grounded on reason, which hath his owne light, or is enlightned from above, or is by [Page 144] teaching, or by use and experi­ence directed; Consideration set­teth before mee things past, ma­keth mee provident for things to come, and plucks mee by the eare, not to neglect things present, which it doth by comparing and matching all these together; things past, with things to come, and conceiving a like forme in both, doth by things already acted, enter into a right course of action: Contemplation hath generall grounds of truth, from which many conclusions may more specially bee deduced, but the life of action lies in circum­stances, the soule where of is Con­sideration: wherefore contempla­tion reades mee over a lesson, which Consideration doth make mee perfect in, by observation, experience, correction: Blessed­nesse, which is the perfection of [Page 145] man hath his beginning from Contemplation, but his consum­mation in us by Consideration; for as by that I know God who is the cause of causes, so by this I love God who is the last end. The soule doth performe some actions without discourse, so doth it move the body, receive, digest, bestow the meat for nourishment, and in those it so falls out, be­cause the end is as present, as the meanes, namely the life of the body; but those actions which tend unto her owne proper end, or rather of the whole, shee doth not produce without discourse, because the meanes are nearer, and the end farther of. Angels for the perfection of their nature, doe all their actions without dis­course, but as the Angels herein are above men, so man by the pri­viledge of discourse, above all o­ther [Page 146] Creatures; for as in a Mill the stones know not what thing meale is, nor to what end, nei­ther the wheeles, nor the Water which driveth them about, but the Miller only, which sets the Mill to worke: so none of the Creatures of this world, know their owne worth, or employ­ment, but only man which is Lord over them, and hath not only the use of particular objects, but of common notions also, and be­holding causes in their effects, and ayming at a farther, by the next doth sort convenient means to their proper ends, and all ends to the chiefe end. What a high art is Consideration, which doth effect such wonderfull things? out of one good, it multiplies many, and makes her advantage of evill; it takes on her the cure of our weakest and worst parts, and ad­deth [Page 147] both comelinesse and grace to the best: where Consideration is, all things are done orderly; but they which by chance doe a good without it, doe lose the com­mendation of their worke, for want of it; yea of such force is it, that actions not speeding in the end, yet set a foot by Consi­deration, retaine still the praise of vertue; it hath as it were the true touch of that stone, whereby Gold is knowne from other me­tals, for so by it wee discerne be­tweene that which is honest, pro­fitable, and pleasing, preferring honesty to the rest, as Gold to o­ther metals: it doth cause profit and pleasure, to give place to ho­nesty, and out of honesty requites us with true profit and pleasure; but if profit and pleasure strive with honesty to have their turnes served first, or without it, then [Page 148] it sheweth them to be base metall, and nothing worth, that such pro­fit is but losse, such pleasure but sorrow, and that indeed there is nothing either profitable or pleasant, which agreeth not with honesty. As they which behold other mens buildings, walke in other mens Parkes, solace them­selves in other mens Gardens, make a use to themselves, though the possession belong to another: so doe we neither heare any thing spoken, or see any thing done, neither is there any object pro­posed unto us, whereof by Con­sideration, wee may not make some use unto our selves, though the matter belong to others. And herein is the busy body faulty, which medling with all kind of matters, doth desire to be a party in possession where he hath no­thing to doe, whereas if he had [Page 149] Consideration, he might take no­tice of any mans dealing for his owne use, and doe no wrong, for he cannot bee accounted a busibody, which out of Conside­ration observeth for his owne use, from those things which be­long not unto him. Excesse of an­ger or pleasure is the greatest ene­my to Consideration, and the promoter of all hasty and for­ward attempts, which end in sor­rowfull events; but the feare of death, and other miseries, are lessened by Consideration.

Meditation 30. Subjection.

BEtter well markt, then a whole eare, is the husband­mans Proverb, for the beast which [Page 150] straies away is the sooner owned, and brought home againe with a marke, but without it lost; better to be under government, then to follow a loose and lawlesse life; better to be trained up under the discipline of the Church, then to range at liberty, as an Ethnick; It was the better for the prodigall youth, that he went out a sonne, though he returned a sinner, and hee receives more liberty by his comming home, then he found abroad; his Father knowes him, the house receives him, the fat Calfe is provided for him, and all make merry with him. The Church doth exercise authority over them, which beare the mark of Christ; and if there be cause why, it doth correct them accor­ding to the quality of their faults; sometimes by words chiding them, sometimes by deeds sus­pending [Page 151] them from the Sacra­ments, or excommunicating them from the society of the Church; and if the Church perceive that any hath entred through hypo­crisy, and is now discovered by blaspheming the truth, which is a casting off of Christs marke, such a one it doth remove by the eter­nall curse Atha Maranatha; and for such a one indeed had it beene better never to have received that mark, and for those also which in the end doe fall from the Church, contemning the order thereof, though not cursed: but they which are the true members of the Church take great profit by those censures, for though they fall oft times through humane frailty, yet the Church doth not cease to acknowledge them for her owne, because they beare the marke of Christianity, and taking [Page 152] a speciall care of them, doth by this discipline bring them againe to repentance, and amendment of life, they are converted, they are received, they are confirmed more then before, and the Church is glad of them, as a woman of the child wherewith shee hath long travailed; howbeit with them which are without, the Church medleth not, therefore runne they on still in sinne to their owne per­dition, as they which are utterly lost in the waste of this world, because they have not the mark of Christ; Count it thy greatest good in this life, that Christ hath markt thee for his owne by bap­tisme, that thou livest under the discipline of that Church wherof he is the head, and therefore suffer thy selfe to be rebuked, privately, openly, and if any greater cor­rection befall thee, humble thy [Page 153] selfe, repent, amend, and this pri­viledge that thou art markt by Christ, shall restore thee againe to thy former estate, and thou shalt be his more then before; on­ly beware of hypocrisy, which one day shall be discovered, and turne not back like a dogge to his vomit, for such have their end worse then their beginning, and it is better never to have knowne the way of righteousnesse, then afterwards to depart from the holy commandement, by a wil­full heart, into which extremity they are at last led, which use not their most honourable profession with a good conscience; The fall of a starre is fearefull, because high and eminent, and no candle hath so ill a smack, as that which hath lost his light.

Meditation 31. Worlds vanity.

I See nothing in the world, but prophane security, or base weaknesse, or fruitlesse labours; prophane security of them which are the worlds favorites, base weaknesse of them which live in her disgrace, and fruitlesse labours of them whose hopes and meanes do yet wait on the world, striving hardly to come unto that which they think to attaine; of which sort, the first hold themselves so safe as men above the Moone, the second so miserable, that they wish no longer to bee, the third bound to doe nothing, but that which they doe, and though they row against the streame, and be oft put back by contrary tides, [Page 155] yet had they rather bee wearied out, then give over; behold, in the first too much confidence in the matters of the world, which they make sure unto themselves, and prove but vaine; in the second an absolute decay of vertue and goodnesse; in the third a wilfull slavery to Vanity. Our Saviour proposeth the rich chuffe in the Gospell, as a notable example of prophane security, who saith, Soule thou hast much goods laid up for many yeares, live at ease, eat, drink, and take thy pastime; to whō God said, Fool, (a shrewd terme for great ones) this night will they fetch away thy soule from thee, then whose shall these things be wch thou hast provided? Here is one reaso why men should not trust in riches, because the ow­ner may be taken from his wealth. A like example of this security [Page 156] wee have in Daniel of Nebuchad­nezzar, who in the pride of his heart thought his estate greater then that it could bee weakned, and hee saith, Is not this great Babel which I have built, for the house of the Kingdome, by the might of my power, and for the honour of my Majesty? and while he was thus speaking, a voice came from Heaven? Oh King Nebuchad­nezzar, to thee be it spoken, Thy Kingdome is departed from thee: Yea also in Esther, how Haman comes from the next to the Throne, to the highest at the Gal­lowes: here is another reason, why these worldly advantages should not cause men to be secure, because they may be taken from the owner. Of base weaknesse, we have an example in Achitophell, who, because he was disgrac'd at Court, and his counsell not fol­lowed, [Page 157] went home and hanged himselfe; in Achab, who cast him­selfe on his bed, and would eat no bread, because Naboth denied to sell him his Vineyard. It befals out that they are ever thus affected about worldly losses, which have first lost vertue and honesty: he that hath unworthily lost a friend, can comfort himselfe in his owne fidelity; but these men, having ever beene false to their owne good, when they are forsaken of world­ly goods, have nothing wherin to take comfort; a little of vertue would make them live content, without the favour of the world, and though they might have rich store, yet to desire rather a mode­rate use of things, then a large possession; but loving the graces of the world only, they have not sought to make themselves ac­quainted with Lady vertue, who [Page 158] makes her selfe knowne to such as esteeme her. They which give themselves to the wilfull slavery which the world imposeth on them, by fruitlesse labours, dayly to be taken for vaine hopes, suffer that for their humors sake, which they doe that are amorous, and taken in some foolish love or lust, rather they admire the person of the beloved, be shee but an odde one amongst the earthy dusty beauties of humane kind; this is the Idol which they will dayly adore, they put of their cap and salute her, as though shee were present, all their thoughts are spent to set forth her heavenly beauty, by whatsoever nature hath excellent; if shee cast but a good look on them, it is the highest favour that may be; if shee frown, they are at deaths dore, and use all their poore services to winne [Page 159] her againe; no wrong can make them dislike, no labour weary them in their suit; and to such a case is the silly wretch brought, that to please his Mistresse, he cares not how long he torments himselfe: such a Mistresse is the wealth, the glory, the pleasure of the world, to those that are inamored on it, they stand at the Gate with Absolon, and take every man by the hand, and kisse him, to gaine the crowne of their de­sires. But oh my soule, seek not the world, but the kingdome of God in Christ; if it serve thy turne trust it not; if it frowne ou thee, know thou hast a better master.

Meditation 32. The Heart Gods house.

WEe will not be conten­ted, except wee have el­bow roome enough in the world, and perhaps the whole world scarse content many, a private mans wealth must serve their turne that can goe no farther, and yet in this estate, ordinary things are in small request; but what is Italy or Europe to a victorious spirit, but a step over into Africk, and from that into Asia; Are not ambition and covetousnesse as large, and stretch they not their armes as farre as the Sea? yet God reckoneth not so much of the greater, but would dwell in the little world, and content himselfe if he may take but one corner of [Page 161] it, even the heart of man; men as they aske much of the world, so are they willing to bestow all that they have on it; but they will not part with any thing to God, whereas if they would not deny him this little, hee would give them more then all the world is worth: for why doth he ask the heart, not to forsake it, when he hath wonne the love of it, as the world doth, but to dwell in it for ever? And no doubt so great a Lord will make his dwelling very beautifull: Consider that if the Heaven of Heavens be so glorious and blessed a place, which yet is but the mansion ordained for his elect, how much more glo­rious shall they be, whom God doth enter into as his owne man­sion; and which by reason that they are his Image, doe receive a greater glory from him, then the [Page 162] materiall Heaven? If thy heart be Gods ancient inheritance, the world is but a disseisor; there be many rivals for thy heart, and they seeme all so fit, that thou knowest not to which to give it first, but when God comes, thou art resolved to deny it, and so he have it not, thou dost not much passe who have it, whether it be pleasure, profit, or ambition; and indeed much like a covetous ow­ner, thou dost chuse rather to have thy heart stollen from thee, then to bestow it freely on him who is worthy of it: So got, so spent; if thou hadst presented thy heart to God, he would use it as a gift with regard, but those as they have stollen it, so they abuse it.

Meditation 33. Separation.

SOme professors which would seeme to strive for great parity and perfection of life, have beene much offended at the blemishes and wants of those Churches wherein they did live, and have gone so farre in this humour, as not to hold these assemblies for Churches, though otherwise ha­ving the word soundly preached, and Sacraments rightly admini­stred, wherein they saw so many hypocrites, and loose livers, and in the end have made a Separa­tion from their Churches, and sought unto themselves new con­venticles, as they thought pure and holy; wherein as they did great wrong unto Christian cha­rity [Page 164] and unity, which was not in this cause to be broken, so found they not that which they sought for; and surely it cannot be, that in this world there should be any visible Church so pure, as they dreame of it, that there should be in it Wheat without Tares, Sheep without Goates; for it is com­pared to a draw Net, which ga­thereth Fishes of all kindes, and it is a society wherein are men of all sorts; and no doubt it is the providence of God, which ordereth all things wisely, that the good, and bad should not live asunder, parted with great Seas and Mountaines, but mingled one with the other in this life, which maketh much for the bet­tering of the good, in the exer­cise of vertue, and for the staying of the wicked from all kind of vice; if all the good should live [Page 165] together, how should their pati­ence, charity, integrity of life, constancy in the truth, be exer­cised, or appeare to the glory of God? if the wicked should live all together, what meanes might there be to reclaime them? but as they be now bad, so they would dayly grow worse, one encoura­ging another, and having none amongst them, whose good ex­amples might reprove them: And therefore the good are to the bad like a piece of leaven, the leaven is the least part, yet it hath a po­werfull force to turne the whole lump into his owne quality; so are the good very few in respect of the bad, yet conversing a­mongst them dayly, they draw the world by little and little to their disposition, and make a great alteration in their manners. For such is the power of vertue above [Page 166] vice, that though vice cannot root out vertue, out of a mind well setled, nor doe any hurt at all save unto it selfe, yet vertue is of ability to drive vice out of that mind, which hath beene long accustomed thereunto, and doth good not only to it selfe, but to many others, which walk as it were but in the shew thereof. Bee men bad, the more need is there that good men should live among them; None have so much need of the Physitian as those that are sick: it is reserved for the Angels in the last day, to make a separation betwixt the Sheep and Goates, and not for men, who were redeemed from sinne and Hell by Christ, uncharitably to forsake their weak brethren. But perchance this Separation is, because those wch should execute good lawes are corrupted, or that [Page 167] certaine ceremonies are retained in the Church, which at other times have beene abused unto superstitious uses, or in that where the doctrine is condemned as re­pugnant to the truth, certaine rites of indifferency, tolerated by authority, are not therewith­all abolished; But what partiality were this, to hate the good con­ditions in any man, for the rest of his bad qualities? and what disorder would this be in reli­gion, to teach obedience unto Princes, and to reserve a liberty to our selves, of infringing his equall lawes? what breach of charity is this, to offend the conscience of a weak brother, in denying habits and ceremonies? Suppose they be used by Idolaters, yet was Asa and other Kings of Israel com­mended for pious; neither did the Prophets forsake their Coun­trey, [Page 168] or charges, although the high places were not taken away, with the abuses. Oh my soule, disdaine not the Church for her spots, neither be so offended at the bad, as to forsake the fellow­ship of the good; looke well into thy selfe, and thou shalt find more amisse there, then thou art aware of at first; wherefore beginne to amend thy owne faults, as one of the worst, and after be as leaven to season other: for such as think otherwise pity their weaknesse, and pray for their amendment.

Meditation 34. Resolved constancy.

VVEe may observe two men borne in one Towne, brought up under one [Page 169] and the same master, keeping like company, using the same diet, aire, and exercise, to whom all things are as like as may be, yet one of these two giving place to his owne appetite, following his owne passions, led away by vice, and a loose kind of life, to wax worse and worse, the other obey­ing reason, and framing himselfe earnestly after the goodnesse of his education, to prove better and better, whence is this difference? If from outward causes, as Gods providence, the starres, evill spirits, or our owne unhappy condition which is past all recovery, why are they not both bad, seing they are partakers of the same nature, of the same affections, set forward in the same kind of education, & con­tinued in the same company: the wicked indeed rather then they will acknowledge their own fault, [Page 170] will impute it to any thing, ra­ther then to themselves; notwith­standing, this doth plainly ap­peare, to be the maine difference, that the one of them is idle, va­riable, inconstant, carelesse, and so easily carried away with vanity; the other well setled, constant, re­solute, in his purpose and deter­mination, industrious, laborious, and so overcomming all difficul­ties, takes courage to go on in the course of vertue. The course then which good men take, doth de­pend on their owne godly choise of mind, purpose, resolution; and the ill grow worse and worse, be­cause they do not wish unto them­selves the thing that is good, they doe not purpose to be vertuous, but are altogether carelesse, and uncertaine in their carriage. Marke this yet more plainly, for in this cause examples are more [Page 171] pregnant proofes, then demon­stration from reasons farre fetcht, Have you lived sometimes in any populous City? there might you have observed a world of courses, which the Citizens follow; some going about their owne businesse, some attending their neighbours occasions, some going to the Church to heare Sermons, or to be at divine Service, and all these are well employed, if they deale honestly, pray devoutly, and heare submissively; others againe are there idly, walking about the Streets, or dropping into a Tip­ling house, or frequenting the Theatre, or making fraies with them they meet, or drinking and carowsing in Tavernes, or spor­ting away the time in gaming places, or solliciting their queanes in lewd houses, and these are ill employed. Now if a man should [Page 172] aske, whence there is such odds betweene the men that live with­in the same Walls, under the same Law, and in the same time; what may be said more likely and agre­able to reason, but this, that the better sort amoved by grace, out of the honest choice, purpose, and resolution of their mind, to fol­low vertue with all diligence, do take these commendable courses, and the worser sort addicted to their lusts, and pleasures, care­lesly and idlely bestow them­selves on all occasions of sinne; whence it is, that the good man, though he be many waies hardly tempted to sinne, by the Devill and wicked men, doth alwaies resist, and becomes the better; but the bad man, having many faire occasions offered to amend, doth prove the worse, and lightly assaulted, doth yeeld to vice: to [Page 173] wish our selves such as wee ought to be, to desire vertue and good­nesse, to purpose well, to adde to our purpose, care, and industry, is not only a beginning, but a going forward, and procureth constancy in goodnesse; If thou wilt not so much as wish to thy selfe, the thing that good is, if thou make not speciall choice therof above Gold, and thine own appetite, how canst thou labour for it? and if thou wish the con­trary, how canst thou not chuse but hate it? and in this cause, who is in fault but thy selfe? doe not ill, and say, I cannot doe better, but rather I will not change thy purpose; adde thy indeavours, heartily beg and desire for it, and hee which commands will give thee grace to turne and obey.

Meditation 35. Selfe deceit.

TWo motives there are why men sinne the more boldly; because it will be longer as they thinke, before they be called to account, and when the account must be made amongst so many, what hard matter is it for thee, or one to escape scot free? Thus use they to dally with their owne dangers, which have made sinne their inheritance, and seek shifts to avoid sounder causes, wherin they are the lesse to bee pitied, because they grosly deceive themselves; Be it that it is long before we be called to account, yet the length takes it not away, but makes it the more heavy when it comes; wee abusing the meane time unto [Page 175] sinne, which God hath granted for our repentance, so that wee should rather feare to sin, because wee shall be called to account, then be bold, because of the delay; for look how much scope the one giveth to our sinnes, no lesse re­venge doth the other take, when they are growne to ripenesse; and it is indeed as dangerous for the wilfull sinner, that it is long before there be an account, as that there is one. Now what if that time which men count long, bee very short, to omit that no sinne is committed, but the con­science doth call us forthwith to a reckoning, though the act passe, yet the guilt is eternally recorded in that booke; as also, that the life of man is but short, after which every one hath his particular judgment: and put it over as farre as may be, to that [Page 176] generall Inq [...]est, and the latter end of the world; what can be long which hath an end, and is alwaies running to that end? when the end is once come, what is all that worth, which past before, whether they be 1000. or 2000. yeares? and what is that continu­ance worth, which is so full of ends, that every part thereof pas­seth away, whiles thou hast it? minute after minute, and houres after minutes, daies after houres, monthes after daies, and yeares after moneths, and after some few yeares (which as they begin in a minute, so end they in a minute) perchance not a yeare, not a moneth, not a day, not an houre, in a moment comes death, when most unlooked for. Hast thou spent 7 yeares in sinne? if thou be not a man past all shame, thou art by this time much the sorier. [Page 177] Why then should the hope of living so much longer make bold againe to sinne? will not thy sor­row be doubled, when thou com­mest to fourteen? and what use returnes to thee of all these four­teen yeares? are they not quite lost by following sinne, and thou hast now more to doe, if ever thou thinke to bee saved, then when thou didst first hegin to say then, I will sinne, because the time of account is farre of, as if one would say, because I have much wealth, I will spend all, as though prodigality could find no bot­tome; He that hath a long time by spending it in sinne, doth barre himselfe from all time; for if thou continue at all times in thy sinne, what time can there be betweene sinne, and the time of account? and if not at first, yet at last, by a continuall course of sinne, (let [Page 178] the time of sinning be never so long) sinne and judgment will come together, and then thou wilt change thy voice, and say, Oh this long time is past, and the account is at hand, now that there will be much to doe at this time, and where there are so ma­ny, it is not likely but that some may escape without their triall; though God doe teach us fami­liarly as men, by such ordinary matters amongst us, as wee may best understand his meaning, as when he setteth downe unto us in his word the forme of a judg­ment, yet must wee not tie him to these necessary circumstances whereunto mans judgment is sub­ject, for he executeth his judg­ment as God, and not according unto mans weaknesse, he is not bound to time or place, or exa­mination of witnesses, all things [Page 179] are present before him which shall be our Judge; as every mans conscience doth condemne him, so shall he feele and know the sen­tence of the Judge, neither shall one prevent or interrupt the o­ther. If thou canst not run from thy owne conseience, how canst thou escape his judgment, who is greater then thy conscience? A sheep may stray from the flock a­mongst strangers, but he beares a marke which tries him from the rest, and discovers him to the ow­ner; in like manner the consci­ence hath its mark, which where­soever thou runne, or thinkest to hide thy selfe, will dog thee back to judgment, and there lay open thy most secret crimes, sins and e­normities. But these & the former surmises of thine proceed not so much from ignorance, as infide­lity and impiety, and doe sound [Page 180] in their true meaning this farre. The day of account will never come, therefore wee may well say, it will bee long in comming, it is impossible there should be such a generall judgment, there­fore some must needs escape: This is that bitter root, which spring­eth up now and then amongst carnall professors; first to sinne, and then to deny God, against whose majesty wee sinne; for if there be a God (which were the greatest blaspemy to think other­wise) there must needs be a judg­ment, and his judgment cannot be just (which were most wicked to imagine) if he be partiall to any, or not able to punish all: and marke to this purpose the order of Gods workes; first, that is the creation, then there followed the fall of man, after a generall cor­ruption of man, and last of all, [Page 181] the deluge and desolation of sin­ners; the old world is a figure of succeeding ages; the law was pub­lished by Moses, betweene God and the people, the covenants broken on the peoples part, the punishment of the disobedient to the utter rooting our of that peo­ple, and their Temple which was the visible signe of Gods presence amongst them; the law had fi­gures for the time of grace, the law came by Moses, so grace and truth is come unto us by Jesus Christ, whose Gospell is Preached in all the world, what divisions and strife are risen up about it, as was foretold? how many ene­mies hath it, which with open force resist it? how many false brethren which undermine it? how many loose libertines which live under the shadow, but will not be ruled by the power of it? [Page 182] how doth faith waver, and cha­rity waxe cold; the world sway, and the Church suffer; heresy prosper, and truth pine? If all the works of God hitherto have had their just course and time, will he faile, trow yee, in the last act? nay some part of this act is begunne already, by the comming of Christ into the flesh, for after this comming of him, it is said, He that beleeveth not in the Sonne of God, is condemned already, but the second comming of Christ shall be a full consummation; Is he come in humility to suffer and save, and will he not come in glory to put downe all his ene­mies? I will not say, oh foolish and slow of heart, that were too mild for such mockers, but oh hard hearted and desperate wret­ches, who, because they will not now beleeve the truth of a finall [Page 183] judgment, shall hereafter feele the terror and punishment of e­ternall condemnation.

Meditation 36. Afflictions.

AFflictions are ever profita­ble to the godly, but there are very few of such, and it is commonly seene that men, after a long and strong disease, are much worse then before, so that the fire of naughtinesse, which for a while lay covered, under the embers of their disease, having gotten but a little vent, breaketh forth the more forcibly, and the floud of their corruption stop­ped for a while, by the oppositi­on of their paines, having got­ten some small passage, doth re­cover [Page 184] his course, with the greater violence; It is very true, that in our troubles wee can call our selves to account, and pray to God with many vowes and promises of amendment, but no sooner doth he remove his hand, then wee start aside from our new resolutions, and follow our old by as: and how commeth this to passe? because wee were brought unto it by constraint; wee did complaine and cry, but more for feeling of anguish and paine, like beasts, then any inward remorse, or touch of conscience; wee were not offended at our sinnes, but wee are sorry for the losse of our health and liberty; wee humble not our selves before the Lord, but it is grievous unto us, that his hand is heavy on us; wee long not after the health of our soules, but wee enquire after [Page 185] all meanes to remove the disease from our bodies; therefore as soone as wee have our will satis­fied, in this respect, and seele our strength returne, wee get cut as men shut up long in Prison, and forget all the good thoughts which came to us in extremity; and as it fell out with the chil­dren of Israel, that because they were neare the good land, and might have entred into it by the conduct of God, and would not, therefore returned they back a­gaine, and their carcasses perished in the wildernesse: so in this cause, because wee were neare to amend­ment of life, and might have beene partakers thereof, through the mercy of God, and would not, therefore fall wee back to our old sinnes, and in them wee perish. A godly mind may thrive well in trouble, but he that is not prepa­red [Page 186] before hand, shall find little comfort in it; the sunne which melteth the wax, hardneth the clay, spices, when they are beaten; smell the better, but there are o­ther things, which never smell so ill, as when they are most hand­led: these sudden flashes terrify many, but they enlighten none, but such as live in the inward light. Alas, what an interest hath sinne in us, when wee have once yeelded unto it? wee beare not on­ly the guilt of what is past, but wee are ever after the more prone to doe the like againe; So that there is no purgation so strong, no Affliction of such force to cleanse us of it, without the spe­ciall gift of his heavenly grace, which no sooner said, but Laza­rus comes forth; Therefore are wee to look to our very begin­nings, and if wee have made any [Page 187] entrance, to draw back with speed; for sinnes of custome are like an old Gout, which knowes no remedy; yet despaire not at any time, rather resist then give place; if the tempter suggest unto thee the greatnesse of thy sinnes, let it serve this way to make thee humble thy selfe more, and to aske pardon; if thou desire hear­tily to amend, and commit thy cause to him which died for thee, thy sinne cannot hurt thee, for he which giveth the desire, will bring it to effect; but herein be­ware of hypocrisy: if God point unto thee particularly by any Affliction, take it as a medicine from thy heavenly Physitian, for thy soules health, and let it be more displeasing that thou hast offended God, then that the crosse is offensive to thee; seek the health of thy soule, more then the re­moving [Page 188] of outward crosses, and use all meanes to be such a one in health, as thou didst desire to be in sicknesse; in all Afflictions look not so much to the rod, as to the [...]miter, who if thou take it pati­tiently doth correct thee in love, if otherwise, in anger and in­dignation.

Meditation 37. Humane society.

MAn is by nature sociable, and framed thereunto by reason and speech, whereunto he doth the more willingly apply himselfe, though with some par­ticular disadvantage, because of the necessities of life, which seeme to require Society; for many com­modities necessary to life, are had [Page 189] in a Society, not otherwise to be obtained; this hath drawne men from wandring up and downe to certaine places of a­bode, from dennes to houses, from Woods to Townes and Ci­ties, from barbarous manners to civility, and rather to commit themselves to the authority of an orderly government by Lawes for their safety, then to languish in an idle and unprofitable loos­nesse, without the use of one ano­thers helpe, and Society: hence have beene erected so many States and Common-weales, the glory of all ages: But yet this So­ciety, how agreeable soever to mans nature, doth not fully con­tent it, neither doth man find in man that which may satisfy his desire, for man being made after the Image of his maker, doth take more delight to see himselfe in [Page 190] the patterne of his first beauty, then to see his owne face in the face of his brother; and though he need not for this purpose the use of his eyes so much, yet doth the soule more perfectly dis­course and understand, when it lifteth it selfe up to God, then when it doth converse with man. Againe, the happinesse which wee are to receive in a humane Socie­ty, doth proceed from the Socie­ty which wee must first seek for with God, and from the duty wee owe unto him, wee rightly learne how to frame ourselves in all inferiour duties; wherefore as the desire of Society betweene man and man hath erected States, and Weales publique, so the de­sire of Society betweene God and man, hath caused Churches and holy Assemblies, for they are a number of such men which not [Page 191] regarding the world, or the fa­shions of it, do desire the acquain­tance and familiarity of God, having a speciall care in all their doings, that in nothing they offend his presence, which vouch­safeth to be amongst them as his owne children and friends. Our blessed Saviour knowing how ne­cessary it was for man to recover this Society with God, lost by the fall of our first progenitor Adam, and desiring to be the author of so great a good unto us all, did in his owne person ratify the band or league of our reconcili­ation with God; for being ever­lastingly God, as the Sonne the second person in the Trinity, he took unto the same our humane nature, and so became both God and man, and one true Immanuel, of which nature it is truly said, that the fulnesse of the Godhead [Page 192] dwelleth in it bodily, and all wee which be made bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, are also par­takers of this fellowship, not only to dwell with God, and God with us, but also for the nearnesse there­of, to dwell in God and God in us: but wee must remember this still, for a chiefe point in this ar­gument, that wee have no com­munion nor fellowship with God, but by Jesus Christ, and that this loving league and sociable fami­liarity doth proceed wholly from his incarnation, and in the use of this most singular blessing, doth consist all the happy con­tent which man may reap here in this life, or in that which is to come, I meane if wee converse and keep company with God, as he on the other side doth most lovingly offer himselfe unto us, for this only are wee borne, and [Page 193] this is truly to live, and without this, wee are rather shadowes then men, or very beasts in mans shape. Oh man, how hath the Lord en­nobled thee, didst thou not debase thy selfe! he calls thee to be a favorite in his Court, and thou hadst rather shift up and downe, as a base peasant in the Devills countrey; he would make thee a Lord over all things in his right, but thou choosest rather to be a slave to the world, sure of no­thing but misery. It is the chiefest commendation of good men, that they walke with God, and the shame of the wicked, that they walk with the world: they which converse with God, are not much addicted to this life, not because they despise the commodities thereof, but seeing they are much abused, they are wary how they medle; or looking for better, [Page 194] they make the lesse reckoning of them, wherein they take no losse, as is supposed, but procure to themselves no small advan­tage: for when it so comes to passe, that they must part with life, they doe it with the greater quietnesse and comfort of mind, and wheresoever it be that death wait for them, they are the rea­dier for it, which the worldly man is never; and in the meane while none use life better then they, or make more account to spend it well, but it is rather to draw towards God, then to seek any farther acquaintance with the world. But some will say, the world offereth it selfe unto us in every place, but God is farre from us, and so strange unto us, that wee know not how to have any acquaintance with him; A strange saying indeed of him, which is [Page 195] made after Gods Image, and can­not live, or move, or have his be­ing, but in him which is com­passed about, and closed in with his wonderfull workes and dayly benefits, so that if he would seek, he might by groping easily find him, which by reason of these things, whereby he hath made himselfe knowne, cannot be farre from us: but this principle of na­ture is oft times darkned in men by evill custome or wicked ma­lice, and moreover not able of it selfe, to bring men forward to this familiarity, or acquaintance with God, and therefore God of­fereth himselfe, and the godly walk with him, by other meanes, as by his word, where they find the helpe of his Spirit, by the Sa­craments, by prayer, meditation, a godly life▪ for as by certaine ob­sequious offices, wee infinuate our [Page 196] selves into the favour and fami­liarity of men, so these are the duties whereby wee living here in this world, are made neare and deare unto God; the poorest wretch in the world that wal­keth with God, which is in his favour, and sets the Lord before his eyes in all his doings, is hap­pier for the present time then the greatest Monarch on earth, which saith as Pharaoh did, Who is the Lord? and shall hereafter find more happinesse then all the world could ever bestow. Most unworthy wee which envy the ordinary favours of a Prince un­to our brethren, and would come betweene them, and home, if pos­sibly wee might, whereas wee might have accesse unto God, and seek it not, and if wee have it, wee rely not so much on it, as they doe on the grace or countenance [Page 197] of a mortall man: What doe not they adventure which are so backt? and how many of them shrink away, unto whom God doth say, I am with thee, I will not faile thee, or forsake thee? I speak out of my owne feeling, let others take the matter as they list, I doe specially condemne my selfe in those two points, first for that I seek the Lords most loving grace and sweet acquain­tance, with no more heat and zeale: secondly, because that when I find it, I am no more thankfull unto God for it, neither am so strengthned by it, and go on in Christian duties as I should; The Lord have mercy on mee, and grant mee grace ever to see my errours, to confesse and repent for them, not pleasing my selfe in any knowne weaknesse, but al­waies striving to overcome & get out of it.

Meditation 38. Non-parity of sinnes.

AS an aptnesse to laugh or weep, is a property which necessarily followes the nature or kind of man, and is affirmed of the whole alwaies, and of his owne right: so guilt doth follow sinne, and makes the sinner sub­ject to the guilt of the Law, which is death. There is then no sinne so light, which of his owne nature doth not deserve death, or to which a pardon is due of course without an infinite satisfaction; yet are not all sinnes equall, for neither doe they offend God a­like, nor find the like punishment, howbeit by a consequent to the true Christian all sinnes are ve­niall, and to the unbeleever all [Page 199] mortall, as they are ever of their owne nature. And it is not amisse to observe a farther difference, that there is sinne which bea­reth the whole sway in a man; such are the sinnes of the wicked, and there is sinne which doth but remaine and dwell in man, be­cause there is a resistance and head made against it by the bet­ter part, and is at last expelled by grace; and thus are the godly and just subject to sinne. There is also sinne so contrary to the consci­ence of the doer, and joyned with such stubbornesse and wilfulnesse, that it doth utterly wast & decay the conscience, killing all seed of goodnesse or godlinesse, which sinne cannot stand with grace; and there is a sinne of weakenesse or negligence, to which the god­ly are subject, and by which they fall grievously; and there is like­wise [Page 200] sinne in omitting duties re­quired, as also in committing things contrary to duty: Now if the question be demanded what sinne may be admitted or com­mitted most safely; I answer, none, for all are by nature most deadly; and if thou be drowned, what od [...] to thee, whether in the deep Sea, or neare the shore? If againe, whether some sinnes be not to be avoyded more then others; I an­swer, thou art to make conscience of all sinnes, the small to be hated as much as the great, for the do­ing of one sinne is but a downfall unto another, because thou hast still the lesse grace to resist, and findest in thy selfe the greater pronenesse to yeeld unto the next temptation; yet thou maist use a speciall caution against those wherein thou hast beene faulty, or which by nature do sway most [Page 201] with thee, or which being little accounted of in the world, are reserved to Gods judgment, as Saint Paul saith of whoremon­gers and adulterers, God will judge them, What will it profit mee, though no mortall man know my faults, or if they know them, take them for none or very small faults, if God at the last con­demne mee for them? Againe, whe­ther sinnes of omission be greater then sinnes of commission, as who sinneth more, he that suffereth a man to die for want of bread, which he could have given him, or he which killeth a man and taketh money from him to serve his necessity? I hold the sinnes on both sides so great, that for to save thy owne life, and to gaine a world besides, thou shouldest not venture to commit one of them: in evils of this nature, there [Page 202] is no choice, the least is an infi­nite mischiefe, and God doth not hate evill more then he loveth goodnesse, and therefore as thou turnest thy back from the one, so must thou chearfully embrace the other; neither can a man well refraine from doing things con­trary to duty, except he busy him­selfe diligently in the parts of his duty; for as nature cannot a­bide vacuum, so neither the will of man not be working; and neu­ters are unto God hatefull of all men. If againe it be demanded, what is to be done after one hath sinned, if sinne be deadly? I an­swer thou must not despaire, as a man utterly lost, neither give place to sinne, that it carry thee away, but thou must stirre up thy selfe to a just sorrow for sinne, specially that thou canst be no more sorry or touched then thou [Page 203] art: and to this purpose it shall not be amisse to meditate of Gods majesty, justice and severity against sinne, of the grievousnesse of thy owne sinne, and how foolishly for some vaine trifle, in giving place to thine owne appetite, thou hast offended him, and when thou feelest thy selfe thus confounded, it behoveth thee to remember that God is mercifull, and ready to forgive them that repent, yet so that thou canst not be recon­ciled unto him by any of thy owne merits or satisfaction, but only by the death and passion of his sonne Christ, in whom thou must seek pardon and grace to rise againe,

Meditation 39. Free confession.

ZOpyrus a great Philosopher, being new know every mans inclination at first sight, one day hee viewed Socrates much as he read, and they which sate by him pressed him to tell what his opi­nion was of Socrates; he answered, I know well that of all men he is the most wicked and vile: this tale was forth with carried to So­crates by a Scholler of his, which mocked at the Philosopher, but Socrates cried out, Oh most pro­found Philosopher, thou hast found out indeed my inclina­tion, but I have beene altogether drawne from it by Philosophy; Behold the ingenuity of Socrates, he doth not dissemble his bad [Page 205] disposition, but confesseth it. The word of God is that Philosophy which not looking on the out­ward lineaments of the body, faith this or that man is ill in­clined, but which discerning and trying the heart and reines, judg­eth all men naught, and saith of us, when it tels us what wee are from Adam, that wee are borne in sinne, that wee are prone to all sinne, and doe nothing but sinne greedily, and continually from our cradle to our cossin: Now where is there that Socrates amongst us Christians, that in such a cause doth freely confesse his naughtinesse? that wee doe not, it is manifest, because wee seek not for grace, which might heale the corruption that lieth hid in us: Socrates knew his naughty disposition before he was told of it, and provided [Page 206] forthwith a remedy to alter it, but wee have no respect of the one or the other; I had rather be Socrates striving against my ill inclination, then a lewd Chri­stian arrogating goodnesse to my selfe, which I have not, or not seeking grace, which I want.

Meditation 40. Ignorant teachers, and ill hearers.

THe discourses of some Tea­chers are like a Labyrinth, they make their entry plaine, briefe, easy; but after they have gotten their auditors in, they lead them on through such by matters, as questions, doubts, resolutions, conclusions, quota­tions, illustrations, digressions, transitions, that the poore Au­ditor [Page 207] is quite lost, for neither knowes he whence he came, nor where he is, nor how he may get out againe. I cannot blame any true University man for this fault, but those which came thither to steale other mens labours, and fled away by night; for heare you, such a one his clothes are not more sutable to his profession, then his Sermon to his text, and if he find his auditor a Sceptick, he makes him an Academick; if an Epicure, he makes him a Stoick; if an In­fant, he makes him a Man; so doth God alwaies blesse good meanes, and they thrive not so well which take the Plough in hand, and are not acquainted with that kind of Husbandry; Such a man is the most necessary of all others for his use, and ought to bee the most excellent amongst men for his gifts, gra­vity, [Page 208] sanctity, integrity, divinity, affability, discourse, that when men behold him, they may see a second Samuel comming downe from the Lords Mount; and they are to be commended which pro­vide for them honour and main­tenance. I see that all auditors popular, mixt or pure, desire to have a wise and eloquent speaker, wherein they are so curious of their choice, that amongst many scarce any hath that happinesse to please the major part: but as for the auditors themselves they ne­ver reckon in what manner they heare, and though they beare away very little, yet they think it enough if they can give this re­port, The man spake well, and to the purpose; whereas in the course and order of these things, it is as necessary there should be a judi­cious and discreet hearer, as a [Page 209] wise and learned speaker; for to what end is seed cast into the ground, if the soile be not apt to receive it? weeds may choak, and a barren ground yeelds bad in­crease; So to what end are words committed to those eares, which by reason of troubles and other affections can make no use of them? It hath beene observed of our time, that wee have much Preaching and little knowledge, and yet more knowledge then conscience; much teaching and little faith, and yet more faith then charity: the fault perhaps is not in the matter or manner of Preaching, but unsufficiency of hearing, whereas if wee had every of us as great care to be good hearers, as to meet with good Preachers, it would be sooner re­medied; for a well prepared hea­rer may profit by a teacher of [Page 210] meane gifts, and yet Paul himselfe cannot profit a bad hearer; Let us not therefore thinke that the whole efficacy of Preaching doth depend on the ability of the Prea­cher, for besides that God hath his ordinary blessing going forth with his word, It is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdome of Heaven, they that come with true hearts provide eares which are more fruitfull then others by a hundred fold; and as there is an art of speaking, so also is there an art of hearing, wherefore take heed how you heare; and howsoever let Mini­sters be instant in season, and out of season, which if they be dumb or idle, they cannot doe.

Meditation 41. Greatnesse subject to flattery.

ALl praise the rich man to the skies, yet none of these praises are his owne, for either it is his Prince which doth grace him, or his house which is de­scended unto him; his stately buil­dings which others have plotted and perfected for him; or his goodly furniture which money hath procured; or his long traine and attendance which the world lends him; or his parkes, ponds, pastures, mannors, walkes; all which though they be parcell of his riches, yet are they no part of the man, neither abide they long with him without change: but who almost dares praise a good man? yet all his praises are [Page 212] meerly his owne and within him, and when thou praisest a man for his honesty, who can deny but that thou praisest the man for himselfe? yet loath wee are to praise a man for honesty without the accesse of authority, wealth, honour, and rather these without the other; therefore I say that rich men have about them more flatterers then friends, yea in the abundance of all things they want some to tell them the truth. When wee heare praises, wee should suspect them not to bee ours, but some matter of circum­stance; when wee heare reprehen­sion, let us make account of it, as our owne, for either it is a fault or may be; and in this cause it is better with the good, then with the rich, for the good have many about them, which will rather slander, then want matter to lay [Page 213] against them; they will rather spite them with deeds, then smooth them with glosing speches; back­bite, rather then beare with them; pick quarrels, rather then live at peace with them; which crossing course of theirs, makes the good better, it causeth them all the while to look more warily to themselves; but the rich man is taken in the flatterers net like a Larke, whiles he playeth with the glasse of vaine glory.

Meditation 42. Content.

ABsolute Content to which no degree of perfection can be added, is in God only, who hath it everlastingly in himselfe, of himselfe, for himselfe, and is [Page 214] not any thing distinct from him, but his nature and essence: There is a Content qualified according to the state and degree of the creature, as in Angels and men, who have reason to know, and will to desire, and meanes to be possessed of their good, whence this content doth grow; so that this Content is not so in the creature, but that he must seek it elsewhere, it is not so of him, but that he must be beholding to a higher cause; it is not so for him, that he should rest there, but be moved thereby to glorify God; it is not so one with him, but that there is great ods betweene them. Content as it is in man may be said to be true or false, the false is but a picture or counter­seit of Content without the thing, without life, proceeding from the enjoying of good which [Page 215] seemes so, but is not, either be­cause it is abused, or is in his owne nature evill: and they which have this Content are alwaies miserable, because of false opini­ons, which blind reason, and un­ruly affections suggest unto them, and therewith so pervert their will, that they are not long of one judgment or resolution, but like a troubled and running streame, in which may be seene no constant image of Content; and this notwithstanding is the only Content which most part of men doe finde, and therefore at last when they think to be most at ease, they grow weary of them­selves, and all things else, shewing well by their labours and paines taking, that they did much desire the true Content, but tooke not a right course for it. The true Con­tent therefore, is a calmnesse or [Page 216] quietnesse of the soule, resting and setling it selfe on true good, and is either begun or increasing, as in good men, whiles they live; or consummate, and full, as when they goe hence to that other life: for men which receive Content, receive it not all at one time, but by certaine degrees of growth, and as is the spring of vertue, so of Content. Neither have they it so, that this clearnesse and calm­nesse is alwaies in them alike; for as long as they live they shall find alteration; but in the other life, nothing shall trouble their Con­tent as evill, and offences shall be taken away: for they shall receive the full measure of every part of their Content, and that without mixture of any object which might procure discontent: here there is sinne remayning, and mi­series which follow the condi­tion [Page 217] of sinners, but there they that come shall leave sinne, and misery behind them: here there are but few Sabbaths in respect of the common daies, there it is a continuall Sabbath, in which freed from all necessities which this life requireth, wee shall wholly bestow our selves on our chiefe good and this chiefe good shall be bestowed on us, and hence will spring out unto us living and over-running streames of con­tent: The content which doth be­gin and increase with good men while they live, may be said to be particular, or generall; the parti­cular proceedeth from the parti­cular fruition of divers good things, as they are successively at­tained, and do every one tend to generall content, which is caused from the fruition of happinesse it [Page 218] selfe, such as may man obtaine in this life; that is, when all the causes of content meet, and are knit together, though in a meaner degree, and with imperfection, whereas that which wee call con­summate in the life to come, is in his highest degree, and without this imperfection. Content, as it proceeds from a comfortable use of particular things, is either in respect of things, tending to the being of life, or to the well: being, and they which tend to the being of life, are of two sorts, some with­out which life cannot be, as dirt and apparell; others, without which it cannot be else so liberal­ly and worthily maintained, as riches, friends, dignities, and de­grees of life: and they which tend to wel being, are also of two sorts, some which are but meere helpes, as arts and sciences; some which [Page 219] are the well being it selfe of life, as wisedome, prudence, morall vertues; for in all these things, as there is a good in respect of the giver, and the end for which hee gives them, so out of them parti­cularly there doth arise a particu­lar, and generally a more generall content, and therefore both these may be considered againe as out­ward or inward content; the out­ward is that which commeth from externall things, and yet no false content, though they be common both to good men and bad. And though I said before that false content is that which proceedeth from things seeming good, and are not, for they are indifferent, and have their name from the use; to them that use them well they are good, but else not so: and as flowers, or fruit, which otherwise would corrupt, [Page 220] are preserved in sugar, so those out­ward things, which otherwise might prove to be evill, are preser­ved in goodnesse by the sweetnesse, and strength of vertue. This then is the difference betweene the con­tent which groweth from inward, and outward things, that outward things are not content in it selfe, but as referred to the inward, and inward things are content unto it selfe without the outward. There be two things which helpe the good in the use of outward things; first, they have a right judgement of them, to know that they are not simply good, or ne­cessary, but indifferent: and se­condly, they are indifferently disposed towards them, to have them, or to be without them; when they have them, they are content with them as they have them, because of the good use [Page 221] which is to be made of them; and when they have them not, they are contented to have used them well, and to be no more busied with them, as setting their minds on the better things, and without this equability of mind there is no content to be had in outward things: the inward content is from the true knowledge of God, the feeling of his favour, and the testimony of a good conscience, that wee heartily desire in all our life to obey him, and this workes a wonderfull content, when as the heart loving God, and desiring him, doth feele it selfe beloved a­gaine of God, yea loved first, and before he himselfe did know how to love God, and whence all his love and duty doth grow. But here it may perhaps be said, that they which serve God have the least content of all men, for the [Page 222] world is against them, and they against the world; and as for these things, wherein doth con­sist their chiefe content, if wee shall beleeve them, they complaine they want much, and have very little as the Prophet David, where hee saith, As the Hart panteth for the rivers of water, so panteth my soule after thee O God. What content might that soule have which was so emptied with neede, and so stretched out in desire, and lived in expectation of the good it had not? From that antipathy which is betweene the world and Gods servants, doth arise their chiefest content, for instead of the world they have God to be their steward and provider; and the godly soule, which having tasted of the sweet­nesse of Gods mercy, findeth un­speakeable content therein, and thirsteth to drinke more yet with­out [Page 223] discontent, though not with­out desire, and this humility and vehement appetite in the children of God maketh their content the greater. Thinke what a wretch thou art, and most unworthy of that content, thou oft feelest that thy content is choaked by tur­ning thy desires after vanity, or sinne, which are the poyson of content, labour by obedience and patience in the end to attaine full content, in the meane space be not out of heart, if many times thou have it not, for God will try thee by all meanes; seeke con­tent in the best things, else thou wilt lose it in all.

Meditation 42. Malice, and Pride.

THe worke of sinne is an imi­tation of the devill, but there are two, which practised by men, do make them in a short time as cunning as their crafts-master, and to turne as right after him, as any child can after his father, they are Malice, and Pride: the devils malice is so great towards God, though his Lord, that there can be nothing more hatefull un­to him, than to be obedient to his will, whose service wee count per­fect freedome, and doth for this cause what in him lyes, that the holy and just lawes of God should be held of no force, no authority, by breaking them himselfe, and causing others so to do, and by [Page 225] maintaining lawes of his own, re­pugnant to Gods, as Idolatry, Ma­gicke, and the like: and so much doth hee please himselfe in this course, that hee counteth himselfe, and his followers for this doing better and more noble than other creatures, as Angels and men, which continue in obedience, whom hee esteemes but as base slaves, for that as hee saith, they consent to live in such a bondage, whereas living as hee doth under no command, they might at least be Gods themselves in conceit: and therefore against all such (for the malice hee beares to God, and o­bedience to him) hee bendeth all his force and sleights; if he cannot winne them, hee will weary them: and hee boasteth that hee hath more to follow his command, than God hath. And there is no­thing that doth vexe him more, [Page 226] and indeed it is his hell, that when hee hath most deeply plot­ted, and diligently practised, to bring to passe a mischiefe to the dishonour of God, or the hurt of his servants, hee perceiveth him­selfe in the end to come short of his purposes, because the good­nesse of God, by infinite wisdome, power, and mercy, doth over­reach the depth of his malice, using him onely to discover his owne naughtinesse, but turning the businesse to his owne glory, and the good of his servants, and leaving him at last unto his shame, as in the fall of Adam, affliction of Job, and the passion of our Savi­our: this makes him to eate, and teare himselfe, that hee should be but an instrument, which would be counted a master of the worke, and in all these appeareth his ma­lice, his pride is so great, that [Page 227] though hee know himselfe to be over-ruled by Gods power, and cannot go beyond the length of his chaine, though hee suffer ex­treme punishment for his rebelli­on; as separation from the divine presence, and horror; and though hee knowes God is very mercifull, yet disdaines hee to aske pardon for his offences, or be beholding unto him for his mercy, but doth still repine, and grind the teeth against God, as though hee did him great wrong; Now how like unto him are men in these points, which loving the faults they do commit, hate the lawes which they breake, and cannot abide any order or state under God, which hindereth their wicked design­ments, counting themselves better, and more noble than others, be­cause they despise lawfull authori­ty, disgracing them that be good, [Page 228] and having no goodnesse do boast of strength, that the sway of the world is on their side, which scorn to acknowledge their faults, and thinke so well of themselves, as though they needed not to have any favour, which are as re­solute in their evill purposes, as though they had made a covenant with death, and league with hell, saying they had rather goe to hell with good fellowes, than live with such peevish professors as know not how to laugh and be merry. Our blessed Saviour, the eternall Word, which was in the fulnesse of time made flesh, which dwelled amongst us, and wee saw his glo­ry, as the glory of the onely be­gotten Sonne of God, full of grace and truth, as hee paid the price of our redemption by his death, so hee left his life going before as an example to reforme us to the [Page 229] image of God decayed in us by sinne: and amongst all his excel­lent vertues, wee are specially to imitate these two which are op­posite to the devils malice and pride, his charity and humility; his charity so great towards his heavenly Father, and us men, that because his Father would have it so, and our misery might by this meanes be done away, hee became obedient thus farre, not onely to live amongst us a meane man, and to endure our necessities, but also to suffer a most painfull and shamefull death for us, and to beare all our sorrowes: and so much he loveth obedience, that he accoun­teth all them his brethren, which live in it, and for them hath pre­pared his grace and glory; yea hee rejoyceth in a little flocke, which heareth his voyce, and breaketh the nations in pieces with a rod [Page 230] of iron like a potters vessell, which breake his bonds, and cast his cords from them: his humility so great, that though there was never sinne, or the least spot of uncleannesse, which did cleave to him, yet he became our surety, ta­king on himselfe our sins, and in our person doth acknowledge himselfe a grievous sinner, and doth aske pardon, and receive mercy for us to the forgivenesse of all our sinnes, teaching us ever­more to confesse our sinnes unto God, and to seeke for grace, and favour by him, who is both wil­ling, and able to grant whatsoever wee need, and if wee aske in faith, no good thing will hee deny unto us; and let the devill rage with his malice and pride, let him set all his devises and instruments on worke to confound us, if God be on our side, we care not who be a­gainst us.

Meditation 43. Mortification.

OUr life must be a continuall meditation of death, so the Philosopher; but the Christians life is no other than a continuall death, and that by the example of his Lord, whose whole life was nothing else but a preparation to death; and all they which are heires of promise with Christ, have the title on this condition, that their lives be made confor­mable unto his death, that whoso­ever looketh on them may see the image of Christ dying in them; neither may they looke to come otherwise unto his life, than by dying first, which is not either the first, or second death, spoken of by Saint John in his Revela­tion, [Page 232] when a man liveth in this world without grace in sinne, or else suffereth elsewhere eternall pu­nishment for sinne; but in a daily dying, as the Christian ought, we shall avoid both these, and be made partakers of the first resur­rection here, and of the second in the life to come. The continuall death of a Christian is that which in the Scripture is called mortifi­cation, which maketh us confor­mable in all our life to the death of Christ; for as Christ died to de­liver us from the guilt of sin, & to bring us to God, so the Christian dyeth in himselfe as the child of Adam, that sinne may have no power over him, but that hee may be led by grace to doe all things to the glory of God: and this death is first inwardly, and is cal­led a crucifying the old man, the flesh, with the affections and lusts [Page 233] thereof, the law of the members, which rebell against the spirit, the unregenerate part, this must wee kill and sacrifice, and in this re­spect a Christian must daily die; for though he doe every day what hee can to destroy sinne, hee shall find new monsters spring up out of those heades, which hee hath cut off, which will procure him more labour. Paul saith, indeed they that are Christs have cruci­fied the flesh with the lusts and af­fections thereof, yet meaneth hee not that the flesh is utterly dead in any, but that they keepe it so un­der awe, and master it, that it dyeth in them daily: likewise hee saith, they that live in the flesh cannot please God, for in this part the Christian must be still dy­ing, that the spirit may live in him; though a man die, yet a con­stant man will be loath to deny [Page 234] himselfe: Ttherefore this kind of mortification seemeth worse than death, wee must deny our owne will, our owne affections, our owne reason, we must be no grea­ter adversaries to any than we are to our selves, wee must rebuke our selves, wee must barre our selves; of many faire occasions of much liberty, we must punish our selves, this crucifying consisteth in a search, and knowledge of our sinnes; wee must not smother our sinnes, or sooth up our selves, but call a spade a spade, we must be also sorry for our sinnes, as sorry as ever we have beene for sicknesse, shame, or losse that ever lighted on us; so sorry, that nothing else be so sorrowfull unto us; lastly we must hate sinne, and cast it out as it were a serpent crept into our bosome, and spet on it, as wee would spet on a foule toade. The [Page 235] second kind of mortification is outward, is a submitting of our selves to dangers, griefes, and losses, as poverty, paine, disgrace, wrong for Christs sake, and needs much patience, for wee must have death still before our eyes, and all deadly things: this hath beene the portion of the Church at all times, Wee are killed all the day long, and are counted but sheepe for the slaughter, saith the Psal­mist: and Saint Paul tels the Co­rinthians that he dies daily, I dye daily, he his owne words; againe in the Acts to the brethren, What doe yee weeping, and breaking my heart? for I am ready not onely to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. And in another place the same Apostle, I take pleasure in infirmities, in re­proaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in anguish for Christs sake. Saint [Page 236] Paul is a notable example unto us of this kind: and if thus wee dye dayly as Christians, wee shall ne­ver be afraid to dye as men, wee shall be ever ready for death, and so farre from shrinking backe, that wee shall boldly meet it, it shall be no losse, but gaine unto us; no end of life, but the beginning of a bet­ter; while wee fly death we runne into sinne headlong, yet is there no death so bad. Oh that wee could once truely learne to dye, that we might live for ever! Many are dead, which thinke themselves alive. Many to avoid a temporall death, do lose those things with­out which life is nothing worth; the parting of the soule from the body is no death, but the parting of God from the soule: if the bo­dy without breath be but a car­casse, what is a Christian without grace, but a painted tombe? Our [Page 237] first birth is the death of that life which the infant drawes from his mother, and the body is borne into the world for sense and growth: by our second birth, which is the death of the body, the soule is borne into the king­dome of heaven to live a new life from the body, for there it under­stands without phantasie or com­mon sense, it seeth without eyes, heareth without eares, maketh it selfe understood without speech. And as the birth of the body into the world is a better life, than that which the Infant had in his mothers wombe, so must the birth of the soule into heaven be a bet­ter life, than that of the body, by how much the faculties of the soule are more excellent, than the bodily senses. In our mothers wombe we lived as plants, in the world wee lived as men, in hea­ven [Page 238] wee shall live as the Angels; neither are soule and body parted so as they shall never meet againe, for the body no doubt doth natu­rally long for the soule, and the soule beareth a love to the body. Therefore by a holy ordinance of the Lord, they abide one anothers absence for a while, that they may come together againe as man and wife, with the greater comfort; the body is gone downe into the grave, to leave there his shame of mortality, of weakenesse, of cor­ruption, necessity, without all which, after the resurrection it shall returne to the soule, and the soule trimmed and tricked up in glory, like a fresh spouse, shall re­ceive the body into the same glo­ry, and both shall be received into God, and dwell with him for e­ver. Death then is called so, onely as it doth appoare unto us, and [Page 239] others which live here, but in ve­ry deed, and by the benefit of Christ, the state of the dead is the very true life everlasting; neither is the birth of the child a greater hope of life in the world, than is this of the soule, in the death of the body, of the life both of body and soule, to be glorisied in the kingdome of heaven: Many think on death to be more vicious, as Epicures, Let us eate and drinke, for to morrow wee shall dye: some will not thinke at all on death, and they live neither the longer, nor the better, but are sure to die much the worse. When wee thinke on death which are Christians, it should make us live very justly, and soberly, because wee looke for a Kingdome after death, where none enter but the righteous. Oh my soule and body, if wee must needs part, how soone wee know [Page 240] not, let us do it willingly, to over­come necessity resistance is vaine, obedience is profitable, let us pro­vide for that which else will pre­vent us; let us make use of death, as some do of money, which else lyes dead, let us die in the Lord, to the Lord, this is the best advan­tage.

Meditation 44. Last Judgement.

VVEe cannot avoide either judgment or death, when sicknesse summous us to the one, doth not our conscience to the other? and in this life God hath his tryalls, judgements, executi­ons, so that men of times are forced to cry out, Justus es Domine, & just a sunt judicia tua: but because the wicked observe them not, and [Page 241] God doth desire to appeare unto men rather as a mercifull father, than a severe Judge; therefore the Majesty, the Authority, the severity of his judgment is hid unto us so farre that wee are bound to beleeve that he will come to judge a thing which else we would never dream of. Though then we see no exam­ples of this judgement as yet, nei­ther can conceive the form therof, yet do wee beleeve it, and that there is a certaine time appointed for it; they that looke not for it with joy, shall abide it with sor­row; that is, that last and finall judgement, wherein all causes shall be opened, all persons censured, all workes rewarded; what hath hitherto beene suspended, shall now be sentenced, and never more altered: Marke the preparation unto it, the heavens shall passe a­way with noyse, the elements [Page 242] shall melt with fervent heat, the sea shall be dried up, and the earth shall be burnt, with all her workes; then a summoning trumpet shall sound and awake up all those, that sleepe in the silence of death, and they together with the living shall be caught up; then shall the Judge appeare visibly above in flaming fire, compassed about with infi­nite thousands of Angels, ready to do his will. A strange judge­ment towards, no doubt, whether we respect the Judge, or the par­ties which are to make their ap­pearance, or the sentence it selfe: the wisdome of the Judge is such, that hee cannot be deceived, hee knoweth all causes without in­formation, things past are to him present, and things to come, hee made mans heart, and findeth out every corner, and turning thereof, hee heares our words before wee [Page 243] speake them, and knowes our thoughts before wee act them, we do not will without his power, though without his allowance, nor worke without his privity, though without his consent; nay, he knowes our purposes, before wee are fully resolved, and our thoughts before wee conceive them; and our workes without producing any witnesse: his ju­stice is such, that he cannot per­vert judgment for favour or bribes: his will is the rule of all righte­ousnesse, and therefore hee can fa­vour no cause, but that which is right, and if hee could be unrigh­teous, what bribe might winne him which wanteth nothing? his power is such that all must abide his decree; here lyes no appeale, no prohibition can be granted a­gainstit, no pardon obtained: his jealousie shall take on harnesse, [Page 244] and hee shall arme the creature to be avenged of his enemies, hee shall put on righteousnesse for a breast-plate, and take unfained judgement instead of an helmet, equity shall be his shield, and his fierce wrath as a sharpe sword, and his troop are the whole compasse of the world. Now what are the parties which are to appeare, and abide tryall? Adam and his poste­rity from the first man to the last that shall be borne; here shall they be judged which have beene here­tofore Judges, and they shall re­ceive right, which would not doe right; Princes, and Popes which none did dare to call in question, shall be here both examined, and censured; and the more mighty men have beene to do wrong, the more mightily shall they be con­founded. Lastly, the sentence is very short, Come yee blessed: Goe yee [Page 245] cursed: but of the greatest weight and strength that ever was, for this doth not passe on one man, or a family, or a Nation onely, but on all mankind at one time: neither is it touching goods and lands, or credit, or limme, or life of the bo­dy, but it doth concerne bodies, and soules too, for salvation, or damnation, and that not for a day or yeare to continue, but for ever without any repealing: And are these things so, what manner of persons ought wee to be then in holy conversation, and godli­nesse, looking for, and hasting to the comming of the day of God? for these things must so come to passe, not to feare, or trouble Gods children, but to take revenge on his enemies: As when some migh­ty Prince commeth towards a Castle of his besieged by the ene­my, and bringeth a great army [Page 246] with him to raise the siege, this putteth them in no feare which are within, but is to them a great comfort, and therefore they looke over the walls, and rejoyce at it with shouts and cryes, but they which are without are perplexed with feare for the hurt which is neare unto them: know yee not that to the worlds end the Church is besieged by the devill, the world, and the flesh? then God will come to raise this siege, and bring all his enemies under his feete, and his comming is not to put them in feare which are with­in his Church, but which assault it, and therefore Christ said to his owne, Lift up your beads for your salvation draweth nigh: and in an­other place he saith, Behold I come shortly, and my reward is with m [...]e, to give every man according to his worke; Blessed are they that do his [Page 247] Commandements, that their right may be in the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the City; for without shall be dogges, and enchanters, and whoremongers, and murtherers, and Idolaters, and whosoever lo­veth or maketh lies.

Meditation 45. Hell.

A Thought of Hell is sad, not so sad as to feele the paine, and they shall certainly feele it which thinke not oft on it, and that sadly too; make thy choyce, if thou like mine, goe forward with mee, it is a punishment which shuts us out from the presence of God, that is a losse of all good, it is a paine of griefe in all parts of [Page 248] man according as their disposti­on is to take griefe, easlesse, that's the extremity; comfortlesse, it findes no pity; endlesse, it hath no remedy; it is called the second death, a worme of the conscience, a bottomlesse pit, utter darknesse, fire unquenchable, a river of brim­stone which is kindled by the breath of the Lord of Hoastes; there is no order but confusion, weeping, and gnashing of teeth; Wilt know where it is, how spa­tious the rage of the tormentors, the fury of the torments, the dispaire of the tormented? God keepe thee and mee from this ex­perience. But is God so infinitely angry? will hee so unmercifully forsake? so hardly handle these? which might have knowne and loved him, had hee so listed, and can never do him hurt though they would. Dispute not vaine [Page 249] clay, thou art in the Potters hand to deale with thee as hee pleaseth, his judgements are too high for thee, beleeve his word, obey thy calling, follow him which descen­ded into hell to fetch thy condem­nation thence, and thou shalt find God mercifull to thy soule, yea nothing but mercy, and in this cause I put thee over for a conclusion of all to the meditati­on of Heaven.

Meditation 46. Heaven, and the heavenly inheritance.

THis is not meate for all mouthes; art thou truly humbled for thy sinnes, persecuted for the truth, oppressed in thy right? dost thou hate the world, and art thou prepared for death, [Page 250] then art thou a Gomer fit to keepe this Manna without corrupting, but thou must beleeve, else shalt thou not understand, for most true is that which the Apostle saith, We walke by faith, and not by sight, the things which are seene are temporall, but the things which are not seene are eternall; and as Saint John saith, Now are wee the sonnes of God, but yet it doth not ap­peare what wee shall be, and wee know that when hee shall appeare, wee shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. If a King can do so much, what trow you will the King of Kings do for that man which hee meanes to honor? he hath already given his Son for thee, and by him forgiven thy sinnes; he hath given unto thee the priviledg of thy cal­ling, the honour of thy profession, the liberty of thy conscience, the helpes of his Sacraments, the use [Page 251] of his Word, the communion of Saints, the counsell of the wise, the familiarity of the good, the beginnings of regeneration, the proceedings of faith, hope, and love, the fruits of patience, peace, joy, and conscionable dealing; last of all, that great prerogative, the intercession of Christ in all thy prayers; if he have done so much for thee in this pilgrimage, what will hee do for thee in thy coun­try? if thou have had such bene­fits in the wildernesse, what art thou to hope for in Canaan? The eye hath not seene, the heart of man is not able to conceive, how then can the tongue utter them? but beleeve thou in thy soule, which loves God, the things which he hath provided for them that love him; this world was made without any provision, what a world will that be [Page 252] which God doth provide so long before hand? and hee tels thee hee hath provided it, that thou mightst know thou canst not be deceived; before we have it, we have the ear­nest of it, and when wee have it, nothing can take it from us: so that there is presently an immu­nity from evill, and a security ne­ver to returne to evill, and there is also plenty, and community; we enjoy all good, yea God him­selfe the well of goodnesse, there­fore wee live still, but what wee were is a shadow to what we are, yea the best we were is almost no­thing to that we are; wee were in grace, wee are in glory, wee live still, but more in God than in our selves, we rejoyce as much for o­thers as for our selves, we are not onely reformed in bodies, and soules, but also transformed into a divine nature, as the Angels free [Page 253] from necessities, as Christ highly favoured in Christ, as God eternal­nally blessed; such is the heaven­ly inheritance of the Saints, which although it be common to many, yet every one of the family hath his proper right in it, and though it be divided, yet is not the propri­ety of any the lesse, or the com­munion the weaker, for every one is fully content with his part, and doth rejoyce as much in the good of others, as his owne, and they do all drinke of the same well of eternall life. Landed men desire to have perfect surveyes, and true plots of their States of inheri­tance, willing not onely to satis­fie their minds touching the va­lue, but also their eyes, beholding under one aspect, the houses, cour­telages, wayes, walkes, ponds, parkes, woods, coppize, hills, bottomes, arable grounds, mea­dowes, [Page 254] and pasture, and they would have nothing lye hid as though they should seeme to neg­lect any one jot of their transitory happinesse: Oh vaine men are we which take so much paine about the world wherein wee live, not onely with beasts which have a better part in this kind of happi­nesse, but also with wicked men worse than beasts: whence come unto us, envie, malice, variance, deceit, violence, wrong; yea, mur­thers, massacres, and desolations! And this ourinheritance we stand so much on, what serveth it, but for our bodily necessities, and that for a very small time, though we use to say to mee, And to my heires for ever, whereas oft-times the third man doth scarse enjoy a foot thereof? The soule is nothing the richer, though thou leave it nothing the wiser, nothing the [Page 255] better, neither can it claime any part of it to follow her, when it must depart hence to another world, where such earthly provi­sion stands in no stead. And if the earth it selfe be but a point in re­spect of the firmament, every least starre thereof being eighteene times greater than the whole, what is thy goodly inheritance in comparison of the highest hea­vens, but a shadow, or dreame of nothing? But this heavenly inhe­ritance may be called so rightly in deed, and is worth the seeking for, worth the having, though a man should sell all, and lose his life too, to which comes nothing that ill is, and from which good­nesse never departs, an excellent place of entertainment, where comfort hath an everlasting spring, not parched with heat, or nipped with cold, or beaten with [Page 256] violence of windes, what can be spoken more gloriously? here is God in the height of his favour, here are thousands of Angels and Saints, like so many Starres about this infinite light, at whose pre­sence the Sunne is darknesse, here is Christ that died for us, and hath life in his hands to bestow on us, Come, enter into thy Ma­sters joy. Canst thou dislike this company? how ever thou dost like it, thou canst not come to it by na­ture or art, it is not blood or birth that must preferre thee, thou canst not claime it by descent; and in truth so great did our Lord esteeme it, that he spared not one drop of his blood, but willingly shed it to purchase this inheritance for thee; and if all the crosses or troubles of the world were put together and weighed in the bal­lance with this masse of glory? [Page 257] they would not hold in weight so much as one graine of the insi­nite greatnesse thereof: Holy men in times past have thought no la­bours too hard, no poverty too deepe, no death too sharpe, if so induring all their daies, they might be thought worthy to be made partakers of this grace; for true it is that no man brings worthi­nesse with him to claime such an unvaluable consideration, but as it is grace, that makes us first to know our unworthinesse, and then to imbrace Christ, who hath purchased for us this inheritance, and hath the right to bestow it on us, so is it grace that leading us by the hands of obedience, & hu­mility, doth bring us into the possession of glory; this is an inhe­ritance not for the body onely, but for the soule also, not while wee live here a few yeares, but to [Page 258] live above with God for ever, this right is such as neither can be ta­ken from us, nor exclude us from taking benefit with others, which have an inheritance as large as ours; What earthly inheritance hath such priviledges, to be free from sinne, and all punishment following it, as shame, and mise­ry: to see God face to face? This O man, is worthy thy survay, by what title it may be possessed, what things they are which bee spoken of this heavenly Jeru­salem, what mansions, and com­modities it hath, what freedome the dwellers enjoy which there abide: that lightned by faith, and lifted up on the toppe of holy meditation, thou maist so clearely, and fully behold the plot of this blessednesse, as that from henceforth, it may wholly withdraw thy love from this [Page 259] transitory, vaine and vile world to an unsatiable desire of it selfe. Be sober, therefore, O my soule, be thankfull, and in thy ravish­ment remember thou hast not yet attained it, but this do forget that which is behind, and endea­vour thy selfe unto that which is before, and follow hard towards the marke, for the high prise of the calling of God in Christ; and this is a point so necessary, that Saint John saith, Every one that hath this hope purgeth himselfe as hee is pure. And here my pen stop­peth, my meditations never.

Soli Deo Laus.

Contempt of the world.

THe worlds vanity which John reduceth unto three heads; the lust of the flesh, by which we may understand all kind of deli­cacy and wantonnesse; the lust of the eye, which may well intend covetousnesse, and the pride of life, whereby may be meant am­bition about honour, are not from God which made the world, but from man, who forsaking God hath abused the world, and made both it and himselfe, both vaine miserable many out of the great­nesse of their mindes have despi­sed the world, counting them­selves too good for it, and the world too base for their imploy­ment, [Page 261] they have rejected honors, as not worth the travell, or ta­king up, pleasures as too beastlike riches as heavy and idle burthens, and all this they did from the e­quity of nature, which is conten­ted with a little, and offended at excesse, which beares necessary, and common harmes, and is one­ly moved to avoid her owne fol­lies: Christians fetch their con­tempt from a higher Principle, What is time to eternity, a can­dle to the Sunne, a droppe to the Sea, a molehill to a mountaine, this world to the World to come, the creature to the Creator? and yet how few Christians grow to that contempt of the world, for the love of God and godlinesse, which the Philosophers did in time past for the love of naturall knowledge, or morall vertue? Yee may see indeed amongst Christi­ans [Page 262] many contemne the World out of a carelesse contempt what become of themselves, whether to sinke or swimme, because they are not such as they have beene, nor could never yet learne to be the men they should, of whom the world is as weary, as they are of it; but how few see you contemne it out of the true account which a Christian ought to have of his owne value? I am the member of Christ, shall I couple the body of Christ to such a Harlot as pleasure is? I am Gods favourite, shall I by ambition hunt after that favour, which comes from man? I am a Citizen of Heaven, shall I digge deepe into the earth for a treasure there? Many Christians do not so much as the Philosopher did by the eye of reason, but looke on things onely with the eye of the sense, how can they then be equall [Page 263] judges of these matters, which reason it selfe could never reach unto? To the naturall eye, this world doth so interpose it selfe, that it seemes onely great, and the world to come nothing at all; but faith which lifteth it selfe up, and beholdeth God, is made partaker of such a heavenly vision, that this inferiour world seemeth unto it to have neither goodnesse to be desi­red, nor greatnesse to be admired, nor assurance to be trusted unto, onely it sees many seeke it which perish by it, and they which thrive in it, to part from it much the worse, for the onely having it. Know my soule, that this world is but a market, if thou be in it as a buyer or a seller, thou shalt bee much distracted; if as a looker on, thou shalt have content, using it as though thou didst not use it, thou mayst be acquainted with [Page 264] the world, but beware of famili­arity, open not thy selfe unto her, for the day will come that you two will be at ods, and if thou love her, thou wilt say then, I have gotten nothing by her, and per­haps it will cast thee in the teeth, that it hath bestowed too much on thee. How happy are they which keepe even reckoning with the world at all times, that as they call nothing of the world, so the world can challenge nothing in them, but are ready still to de­part out of it with a saving hand, provided for a better.

Sit Deo Gloria.
FINIS.

This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. Searching, reading, printing, or downloading EEBO-TCP texts is reserved for the authorized users of these project partner institutions. Permission must be granted for subsequent distribution, in print or electronically, of this EEBO-TCP Phase II text, in whole or in part.