HOMILY FOR ROGATION WEEK
AN HOMILIE FOR THE
dayes of Rogation Weeke.
That all good things commeth from God.
I Am purposed this day (good deuout Christian people) to declare vnto you the most deserued praise and commendation of Almightie GOD, not onely in the consideration of the marueilous creation of this world, or for conuersation and gouernance thereof, wherein his great power and wisedome might excellently appeare, to mooue vs to honour and dread him: but most specially in consideration of his liberall and large goodnesse, which hee dayly bestoweth on vs his reasonable creatures, for whose sake hee made the whole vniuersall world, with all the commodities and goods therein. Which his singular goodnesse well and diligently remembred on our part, should mooue vs (as duety is) againe with hartie affection to loue him, and with word and deede to praise him, and serue him all the dayes of our life. And to this matter, being so worthie to entreate of, and so profitable for you to heare, I trust I shall not neede with much circumstance of wordes to stirre you to giue your attendance to heare what shall bee sayde. Onely I would wish your affection inflamed in secret wise within your selfe, to rayse vp some motion of thankesgiuing to the goodnesse of Almighty GOD, in euery such poynt as shall bee opened by my declaration particularly vnto you. For else what shall it auayle vs to heare and know the great goodnesse of GOD towardes vs, to know that whatsoeuer is good, proceedeth from him, as from the principall fountaine and the onely authour, or to know that whatsoeuer is sent from him, must needes be good and wholsome: if the hearing of such matter moueth vs no further but to know it only? What auaileth it the wise men of the worlde to haue knowledge of the power and diuinity of GOD, by the secret inspiration of him: where they did not honour and glorifie him in their knowledges as GOD? What prayse was it to them, by the consideration of the creation of the world, to beholde his goodnes: and not to be thankefull to him againe for his creatures? What other thing deserued this blindnes & forgetfulnes of them at GODS handes, but vtter forsaking of him? and so forsaken of GOD, they could not but fall into extreame ignorance and errour. And although they much esteemed themselues in their wits and knowledge, and gloried in their wisedome: yet vanished they away blindly, in their thoughts became fooles, and perished in their folly. There can bee none other end of such as draweth nigh to GOD by knowledge, and yet depart from him in vnthankefulnesse, but vtter destruction. This experience saw Dauid in his dayes. For in his Psalme he saith, Behold, they which withdraw themselues from thee, shall perish, for thou hast destroyed them all that are strayed from thee (Psalms 73.27).
This experience was perceiued to be true, of that holy Prophet Ieremie: O Lord (saith he) whatsoeuer they be that forsake thee, shall be confounded, they that depart from thee, shall be written in the earth, and soone forgotten (Jeremiah 17.13). It profiteth not (good people) to heare the goodnes of GOD declared vnto vs, if our hearts bee not inflamed thereby to honour and thanke him. It profited not the Iewes which were GODS elect people, to heare much of GOD, seeing that hee was not receiued in their hearts by Faith, nor thanked for his benefits bestowed vpon them: their vnthankefulnesse was the cause of their destruction. Let vs eschew the maner of these before rehearsed, and follow rather the example of that holy Apostle Saint Paul, who when in a deepe meditation he did behold the marueilous proceedings of Almightie GOD, and considered his infinite goodnesse in the ordering of his creatures, hee burst out into this conclusion: Surely (saith he) of him, by him, and in him, be all things. And this once pronounced, he stucke not still at this point, but foorthwith thereupon ioyned to these words, To him bee glorie and praise for euer, Amen (Romans 11.36).
Vpon the ground of which words of Saint Paul (good audience) I purpose to build my exhortation of this day vnto you. Wherein I shall doe my endeuour, first to prooue vnto you that all good things come downe vnto vs from aboue from the Father of light. Secondly, that Iesus Christ his Sonne and our Sauiour, is the meane by whom wee receiue his liberall goodnesse. Thirdly, that in the power and vertue of the holy Ghost, wee be made meete and able to receiue his gifts and graces. Which things distinctly and aduisedly considered in our mindes, must needs compell vs in most low reuerence, after our bounden duetie, alwayes to render him thankes againe, in some testification of our good hearts for his deserts vnto vs. And that the entreating of this matter in hand may be to the glorie of Almightie GOD, let vs, in one Faith and Charitie call vpon the Father of mercie, from whom commeth euery good gift, and euery perfect gift, by the mediation of his welbeloued Sonne our Sauiour, that we may be assisted with the presence of his holy Spirit, and profitably on both parts, to demeane our selues in speaking and hearkening ot the saluation of our soules.
In the beginning of my speaking vnto you, (good Christian people) suppose not that I doe take vpon mee to declare vnto you the excellent power, or the incomparable wisedome of Almightie GOD, as though I would haue you beleeue that it might be expressed vnto you by words. Nay it may not be thought, that that thing may bee comprehended by mans words, that is incomprehensible. And too much arrogancie it were for dust and ashes, to thinke that he can worthily declare his maker. It passeth far the darke vnderstanding and wisedome of a mortall man, to speake sufficiently of that diuine Maiestie, which the Angels cannot vnderstand. Wee shall therefore lay apart to speake of the profound and vnsearchable nature of Almightie GOD, rather acknowledging our weakenesse, then rashly to attempt that is aboue all mans capacitie to compasse. It shall better suffice vs in lowe humilitie to reuerence and dread his Maiestie, which wee can not comprise, then by ouermuch curious searching to be ouercharged with the glorie. We shall rather turne our whole contemplation to answere a while his goodnesse towards vs, wherein we shall be much more profitably occupied, and more may we be bold to search. To consider the great power hee is of, can but make vs dread and feare. To consider his high wisedome might vtterly discomfort our frailtie to haue any thing to doe with him. But in consideration of his inestimable goodnesse, we take good heart againe to trust well vnto him. By his goodnesse wee be assured to take him for our refuge, our hope and comfort, our mercifull Father, in all the course of our liues. His power and wisedome, compelleth vs to take him for GOD omnipotent, inuisible, hauing rule in heauen and earth, hauing all things in his subiection, and will haue none in counsell with him, nor any to aske the reason of his doing. For he may do what liketh him, and none can resist him (Daniel 4.35, 11.16). For he worketh all things in his secret iudgement to his own pleasure, yea euen the wicked to damnation saith Salomon (Proverbs 16.4). By the reason of this nature, he is called in Scripture, consuming fire (Hebrews 12.29), hee is called a terrible and fearefull GOD. Of this behalfe therefore, we haue no familiaritie, no accesse vnto him, but his goodnesse againe tempereth the rigour of his high power, and maketh vs bold, and putteth vs in hope that hee will be conuersant with vs, and easie vnto vs.
It is his goodnesse that mooueth him to say in Scripture: It is my delight to be with the children of men (Prouerbs 8.31). It is his goodnesse that mooueth him to call vs vnto him, to offer vs his friendship and presence. It is his goodnesse that patiently suffereth our straying from him, and suffereth vs long, to winne vs to repentance. It is of his goodnes that wee bee created reasonable creatures, where else hee might haue made vs bruite beastes. It was his mercie to haue vs borne among the number of Christian people, and thereby in a much more nighnesse to saluation, where we might haue beene borne (if his goodnesse had not beene) among the Panims, cleane void from GOD, and the hope of euerlasting life. And what other thing doth his louing and gentle voice spoken in his Word, where hee calleth vs to his presence and friendship, but declare his goodnesse, onely without regard of our worthinesse? And what other thing doeth stirre him to call vs to him, when wee be strayed from him, to suffer vs patiently, to winne vs to repentance, but onely his singular goodnesse, no whitte of our deseruing? Let them all come together that bee now glorified in heauen, and let vs heare what answere they will make in these poyntes afore rehearsed, whether their first creation was in GODS goodnesse, or of themselues. Forsooth Dauid would make answere for them all, and say, Know yee for suretie, euen the Lord is GOD, he hath made vs, and not we our selues. If they were asked againe, who should bee thanked for their regeneration? for their iustification? and for their saluation? whether their desertes, or GODS goodnesse onely? Although in this point, euery one confesse sufficiently the trueth of this matter in his owne person: yet let Dauid answere by the mouth of them all at this time, who cannot chuse but say, Not to vs, O Lord, not to vs, but to thy Name giue all the thanke, for thy louing mercie, and for thy trueths sake. If we should aske againe, from whence came their glorious workes and deedes, which they wrought in their liues, wherewith GOD was so highly pleased and worshipped by them? Let some other witnesse bee brought in, to testifie this matter, that in the mouth of two or three may the trueth bee knowen.
Verily that holy Prophet Esay beareth record, and sayth, O Lord, it is thou of thy goodnesse that hast wrought all our workes in vs, not wee our selues (Isaiah 26.12). And to vphold the trueth of this matter, against all iusticiaries and hypocrites, which robbe Almighty GOD of his honour, and ascribe it to themselues, Saint Paul bringeth in his beliefe: Wee be not (saith he) sufficient of our selues, as of our selues once to thinke any thing: but all our ablenesse is of GODS goodnesse (2 Corinthians 3.5). For hee it is in whom wee haue all our being, our liuing, and moouing (Acts 17.28). If yee will know furthermore, where they had their gifts and sacrifices, which they offered continually in their liues to Almighty GOD, they cannot but agree with Dauid, where hee saith: Of thy liberall hand, O Lord, we haue receiued that we gaue vnto thee. If this holy company therefore confesse so constantly, that all the goods and graces wherewith they were indued in soule, came of the goodnesse of GOD onely: what more can be said to prooue that all that is good, commeth from Almighty GOD? Is it meete to thinke that all spirituall goodnes commeth from GOD aboue onely: and that other good things, either of nature or of fortune (as we call them) commeth of any other cause? Doeth GOD of his goodnesse adorne the soule, with all the powers thereof, as it is: and commeth the gifts of the body, wherewith it is indued, from any other? If he doth the more, cannot he doe the lesse? To iustifie a sinner, to new create him from a wicked person to a righteous man, is a greater act (saith S. Augustine) then to make such a new heauen & earth as is already made. Wee must needes agree, that whatsoeuer good thing is in vs, of grace, of nature or of fortune, is of GOD only, as the only authour and worker.
And yet it is not to be thought, that GOD hath created all this whole vniuersall world as it is, and thus once made, hath giuen it vp to be ruled and vsed after our owne with and deuice, and so taketh no more charge therefore. As we see the shipwright, after he hath brought his shippe to a perfect end, then deliuereth it to the Mariners, and taketh no more care thereof. Nay GOD hath not so created the world, that hee is carelesse of it: but hee still preserueth it by his goodnesse, hee still stayeth it in his creation. For els without his speciall goodnesse, it could not stand long in his condition. And therefore Saint Paul saith, that he preserueth all things, and beareth them vp still in his word (Hebrews 1.3), lest they should fall without him to their nothing againe, whereof they were made. If his especiall goodnesse were not euery where present, euery creature should be out of order, and no creature should haue his propertie wherein hee was first created. Hee is therefore inuisible euery where, and in euery creature, and fulfilleth both heauen and earth with his presence. In the fire, to giue heat, in the water to giue moisture, in the earth to giue fruit, in the heart to giue his strength, yea in our bread and drinke is hee, to giue vs nourishment, where without him the bread and drinke cannot giue sustenance, nor the hearbe health, as the wise man plainely confesseth it, saying, It is not the increase of fruits that feedeth men, but it is thy word (O Lord) which preserueth them that trust in thee (Apocrypha. Wisdom 16.26). And Moses agreeth to the same, when he saith, Mans life resteth not in bread onely, but in euery word which proceedeth out of GODS mouth (Deuteronomy 8.3). It is neither the hearbe nor the plaister, that giueth health of themselues, but thy word, O Lord (saith the wiseman) which healeth all things (Apocrypha. Wisdom 16.12). It is not therefore the power of the creatures which worketh their effects, but the goodnesse of GOD which worketh in them. In his word truely doeth all things consist. By that same word that heauen and earth were made, by the same are they vpholden, mainteined, and kept in order (saith S. Peter) and shall be till Almightie GOD shall withdraw his power from them, and speake their dissolution (2 Peter 3.7). If it were not thus, that the goodnesse of GOD were effectually in his creatures to rule them, how could it bee that the maine sea, so raging and labouring to ouerflow the earth, could bee kept within his bounds and bankes as it is? That holy man Iob euidently spied the goodnesse of GOD in this point, and confessed, that if hee had not a speciall goodnesse to the preseruation of the earth, it could not but shortly be ouerflowed of the sea. How could it be that the elements, so diuers and contrary as they be among themselues, should yet agree and abide together in a concord, without destruction one of another to serue our vse, if it came not onely of GODS goodnesse so to temper them? How could the fire not burne and consume all things, if it were let loose to goe whither it would, and not stayed in his sphere by the goodnesse of GOD, measurably to heat these inferiour creatures to their riping? Consider the huge substance of the earth, so heauie and great as it is: How could it so stand stably in the space as it doth, if GODS goodnesse reserued it not so for vs to trauell on? It is thou O Lord (saith Dauid) which hast founded the earth in his stabilitie, and during thy word, it shall neuer reele or fall downe (Psalms 104.5). Consider the great strong beasts and fishes, farre passing the strength of man, how fierce soeuer they be and strong, yet by the goodnes of GOD they preuaile not against vs, but are vnder our subiection, and serue our vse. Of whom came the inuention thus to subdue them, and make them fit for our commodities? Was it by mans braine- nay rather this inuention came by the goodnesse of GOD, which inspired mans vnderstanding to haue his purpose of euery creature. Who was it (saith Iob) that put will and wisedome in mans head, but GOD onely his goodnesse (Job 38.36)? And as the same saith againe, I perceiue that euery man hath a minde, but it is the inspiration of the Almighty that giueth vnderstanding. It could not be verily (good Christian people) that man of his own wit vpholden, should inuent so many and diuerse deuises in all crafts and sciences, except the goodnesse of Almighty GOD had beene present with men, and had stirred their wits and studies of purpose to know the natures and disposition of all his creatures, to serue vs sufficiently in our needes and necessities. Yea, not only to serue our necessities, but to serue our pleasures and delight, more then necessitie requireth. So liberall is GODS goodnesse to vs, to prouoke vs to thanke him, if any hearts we haue. The wise man in his contemplation by himselfe, could not but graunt this thing to bee true that I reason vnto you. In his hands (saith he) be we, and our words, and all our wisedome, and all our sciences and workes of knowledge (Apocrypha. Wisdom 7.16). For it is hee that gaue mee the true instruction of his creatures, both to know the disposition of the world, and the vertues of the elements, the beginning and end of times, the change and diuersities of them, the course of the yeere, the order of the starres, the natures of beasts, and the powers of them, the power of the windes, and thoughts of men, the differences of planets, the vertue of rootes, and whatsoeuer is hid and secret in nature, I learned it. The artificer of all these taught me this wisedome (Apocrypha. Wisdom 9.13-17). And further hee saith, Who can search out the things that bee in heauen? for it is hard for vs to search such things as be on earth, and in daily sight afore vs. For our wittes and thoughts (saith he) be imperfect, and our policies vncertaine. No man can therefore search out the meaning in these things, except thou giuest wisedome, and sendest thy Spirit from aboue. If the wise man thus confesseth all things to be of GOD, why should not we acknowledge it? and by the knowledge of it, consider our duety to GOD-ward, and giue him thankes for his goodnes? I perceiue that I am far heere ouercharged with the plentie and coppy of matter, that might be brought in for the proofe of this cause. If I should enter to shew how the goodnesse of Almighty GOD appeared euery where in the creatures of the world, how marueilous they be in their creation, how beautifull in their order, how necessary they bee to our vse: all with one voyce must needes graunt their Authour to be none other but Almighty GOD, his goodnesse must they needs extoll and magnifie euery where, to whom bee all honour and glorie for euermore.
The second part of the Homily for Rogation weeke. IN the former part of this Homilie (good Christian people) I haue declared to your contemplation, the great goodnesse of Almighty GOD, in the creation of this world, with all the furniture thereof, for the vse and comfort of man, whereby wee might rather bee moued to acknowledge our dutie againe to his maiestie. And I trust it hath wrought not only beliefe in you, but also it hath mooued you to render your thanks secretly in your hearts to Almighty GOD for his louing kindnes. But yet peraduenture some will say, that they canne agree to this, that all that is good partayning to the soule, or whatsoeuer is created with vs in body, should come from GOD, as from the authour of all goodnesse and from none other. But of such things as bee without them both, I meane such good things which wee call goods of fortune, as richesse, authoritie, promotion, and honour some men may thinke, that they should come of our industry and diligence, of our labour and trauaile, rather then supernaturally. Now then consider, good people, if any authour there bee of such things concurrant of mans labour and endeuour, were it meete to ascribe them to any other then to GOD? as the Panimes Philosophers and Poets did erre,, which tooke Fortune, and made her a goddesse to be honoured, for such things? GOD forbid (good Christian people) that this imagination should earnestly bee receiued of vs that bee worshippers of the true GOD, whose workes and proceedings bee expressed manifestly in his word. These bee the opinions and sayings of infidels, not of true GOD, whose workes and proceedings bee expressed manifestly in his word. These bee the opinions and sayings of infidels, not of true Christians. For they indeede (as Iob maketh mention) beleeue and say, that GOD hath his residence and resting place in the cloudes, and considereth nothing of our matters (Job 22.14). Epicures they bee that imagine that he walketh about the coastes of the heauens, & hath no respect of these inferiour things, but that all these things should proceede either by chance or at aduenture, or else by disposition of fortune, and GOD to haue no stroke in them. What other thing is this to say, then as the foole supposeth in his heart, there is no GOD (Psalms 14.1)? Whom we shall none otherwise reprooue, then with GODS owne wordes by the mouth of Dauid. Heare my people (saith he) for I am thy GOD, thy very GOD. All the beastes of the wood are mine. Sheepe and oxen that wander in the mountaines. I haue the knowledge of all the fowles of the ayre, the beauty of the fielde is my handy worke, mine is the whole circuite of the world, and all the plenty that is in it (Psalms 50.7-12). And againe the Prophet Ieremie: Thinkest thou that I am a GOD of the place nigh me (saith the Lord) and not a GOD farre of? Can a man hide himselfe in so secret a corner, that I shall not see him? Do not I fulfill and replenish both heauen and earth, saith the Lord (Jeremiah 23.23-24)? Which of these two should be most beleeued? Fortune whom they paint to bee blinde of both eyes, euer vnstable and vnconstant in her wheele, in whose handes they say these things bee? Or GOD, in whose hand and power these things bee indeed, who for his trueth and constancie was yet neuer reproued? For his sight looketh thorow heauen and earth, and seeth all things presently with his eyes. Nothing is too darke or hidden from his knowledge, not the priuie thoughts of mens mindes. Trueth it is, that GOD is all riches, all power, all authoritie, all health, wealth, and prosperity, of the which wee should haue no part without his liberall distribution, and except it came from him aboue. Dauid first testifieth of riches and possessions: If thou giuest good lucke, they shall gather, and if thou openest thy hand, they shalbe full of goodnesse: but if thou turnest thy face they shall be troubled (Psalms 104.28-29). And Solomon saith, It is the blessing of the Lord that maketh rich men (Proverbs 10.22). To this agreeth that holy woman Anne, where shee saith in her song: It is the Lord that maketh the poore, and maketh the rich, it is hee that promoteth and pulleth downe, hee can raise a needy man from his miserie and from the dunghill, hee can lift vp a poore personage to sit with princes, and haue the seate of glory: for all the coastes of the earth be his (1 Samuel 2.7-8). Now if any man will aske, What shall it auaile vs to know that euery good gift, as of nature and fortune (so called) and euery perfect gift, as of grace, concerning the soule to be of GOD, and that it is his gift only? Forsoth for many causes it is conuenient for vs to know it. For so shall we know (if wee confesse the trueth) who ought iustly to bee thanked for them. Our pride shall be thereby abated, perceiuing naught to come of our selues but sinne and vice: if any goodnesse bee in vs, to referre all laude and prayse for the same to Almighty GOD. It shall make vs to aduance our selues before our neighbour, to dispise him for that hee hath fewer giftes, seeing GOD giueth his giftes where hee will. It shall make vs by the consideration of our giftes, not to extoll our selues before our neighboures. It shall make the wise man not to glory of his wisedome, nor the strong man in his strength, nor the rich to glory in his riches (Jeremiah 9.23), but in the liuing GOD, which is the authour of all these: lest if we should doe so, wee might be rebuked with the wordes of Saint Paul, What hast thou, that thou hast not receiued? & if thou hast receiued it, why gloriest thou in thy selfe, as though thou haddest not receiued it (1 Corinthians 4.7)? To confesse that all good things commeth from Almighty GOD, is a great poynt of wisedome, my friendes: For so confessing, we know whither to resort for to haue them, if wee want, as Saint Iames biddeth vs, saying, If any man wanteth the gift of wisedome, let him aske it of GOD that giues it, and it shall bee giuen him (James 1.5). As the wise man in the want of such a like gifte, made his recourse to GOD for it, as hee testifieth in his booke: After I knew (saith hee) that otherwise I could not be chaste, except GOD granted it, (and this was as hee there writeth, hie wisedome to know whose gifte it was) I made haste to the Lord, and earnestly besought him, euen from the rootes of my heart, to haue it (Apocrypha. Wisdom 8.21). I would to GOD (my friendes) that in our wants and necessities, we would goe to GOD, as Saint Iames biddeth, and as the wise man teacheth vs that hee did. I would wee beleeued stedfastly that GOD only giues them: If wee did, wee shoulde not seeke our want and necessitie of the deuill and his ministers so oft as wee doe, as dayly experience declareth it. For if wee stand in necessitie of corporall health, whither goe the common people, but to charmes, witchcraftes and other delusions of the Deuill? If wee knewe that GOD were the authour of this gift, wee woulde only vse his meanes appoynted, and bide his leysure, till hee thought it good for vs to haue it giuen, If the Merchaunt and worldly occupier knew that GOD is the giuer of riches, hee woulde content himselfe with so much as by iust meanes approued of GOD, hee coulde get to his liuing, and would be no richer then trueth would suffer him, hee woulde neuer procure his gaine and aske his goods at the Deuils hand. GOD forbid ye will say, that any man should take his riches of the Deuill. Verily so many as increase them selues by vsurie, by extortion, by periury by stealth, by deceits and crafte, they haue their goods of the Deuills gift. And all they that giue themselues to such meanes, and haue renounced the true meanes that GOD hath appoynted, haue forsaken him, and are become worshippers of the Deuill, to haue their lukers and aduantages. They be such as kneele downe to the deuill at his bidding, and worship him: For he promiseth them for so doing, that he will giue them the world, and the goods therein. They cannot otherwise better serue the deuill, then to doe his pleasure and commandement: And his motion and will it is, to haue vs forsake the trueth, and betake vs to falsehood, to lyes and periuries. They therefore which beleeue perfectly in their heart that GOD is to be honoured, and requested for the gift of all things necessary, would vse none other meanes to relieue their necessities but trueth and verity, and would serue GOD to haue competencie of all things necessary. The man in his neede would not releeue his want by stealth. The woman would not relieue her necessity and pouerty by giuing her body to other in adulterie for gaine. If GOD be the authour indeede of life, health, riches, and welfare, let vs make our recourse to him, as the authour, and we shall haue it, saith Saint Iames. Yea it is hie wisedome by the wise man therefore to know whose gift it is, for many other skilles it is wisedome to know and beleeue that all goodnesse and graces be of GOD, as the authour. Which thing well considered, must needes make vs thinke that we shall make account for that which GOD giueth vs to possesse, and therefore shall make vs to be more diligent well to spend them to GODS glory, and to the profite of our neighbour, that we may make a good account at the last, and be praysed for good stewards, that we may heare these wordes of our Iudge: Well done good seruant and faithfull, thou hast beene faithfull in little, I will make thee ruler ouer much, goe in into they Master ioy (Matthew 25.21). Besides, to beleeue certainely GOD to bee the authour of all the giftes that we haue, shall make vs to bee in silence and patience when they bee taken againe from vs: For as GOD of his mercy doeth grant vs them to vse: So other whiles he doeth iustly take them againe from vs, to prooue our patience, to exercise our faith, and by the meanes of the taking away of a fewe, to bestow the more warily those that remaine, to teach vs to vse them the more to his glorie, after hee giueth them to vs againe. Many there be that with mouth can say that they beleeue that GOD is the authour of euery good gift that they haue: but in the time of temptation they goe backe from this beliefe. They say it in worde, but deny it in deede. Consider the custome of the world, and see whether it bee not true. Behold the rich man that is indued with substance, if by any aduersitie his goodes bee taken from him, how fumeth and fretteth he? How murmureth hee and dispayreth? He that hath the gift of good reputation, if his name bee any thing touched by the detractour, how vnquiet is he? how busie to reuenge his dispite? If a man hath the gifte of wisedome, and fortune to bee taken of some euill willer for a foole, and is so reported: how much doeth it grieue him to bee so esteemed? Thinke yee that these belieue constantly that GOD is the authour of these giftes? If they belieue it verely, why should they not patiently suffer GOD to take away his giftes againe, which hee gaue them freely, and lent for a time? But ye will say, I could bee content to resigne to GOD such giftes, if hee tooke them againe from me: But now are they taken from mee by euill chances and false shrewes, by naughtie wretches, how should I take this thing patiently? To this may be answered, that Almighty GOD is of his nature inuisible, and commeth to no man visible after the manner of man, to take away his giftes that hee lent. But in this point whatsoeuer GOD doeth, hee bringeth it about by his instrumentes ordained thereto. Hee hath good Angels, hee hath euill angels, hee hath good men, and hee hath euill men, hee hath haile and raine, hee hath wind and thunder, hee hath heate and cold. Innumerable instruments hath hee, and messengers, by whom againe hee asketh such giftes as he committeth to our trust, as the wise man confesseth, The creature must needes waite to serue his maker, to bee fierce against vniust men to their punishment (Apocrypha. Wisdom 16.9). For as the same authour saith, He armeth the creature, to reuenge his enemies, and other whiles to the probation of our faith, stirreth hee vp such stormes. And therefore by what meane and instrument soeuer GOD takes from vs his giftes, we must patiently take GODS iudgement in worth, and acknowledge him to bee the taker and giuer, as Iob saith: The Lord gaue, and the Lord tooke (Job 1.21), when yet his enemies draue his cattell away, and when the deuill slewe his children, and afflicted his body with grieuous sickenesse. Such meekenesse was in that holy King and Prophet Dauid, when hee was reuiled of Semei in the presence of all his hoste, hee tooke it patiently, and reuiled not againe, but as confessing GOD to be the authour of his innocency and good name, and offering it to bee at his pleasure: Let him alone (saith hee to one of his seruants that would haue reuenged such dispite) for GOD hath commanded him to curse Dauid, and peraduenture GOD intendeth thereby to render mee some good turne for this curse of him to day (2 Samuel 16.10-12). And though the minister other whiles doeth euill in his acte, proceeding of malice, yet forasmuch as GOD turneth his euill act to a proofe of our patience, wee shoulde rather submit our selfe in patience, then to haue indignation at GODS rodde, which peraduenture when hee hath corrected vs to our nurture, he will cast it into the fire, as it deserueth. Let vs in like maner truely acknowledge all our gifts and prerogatiues, to be so GODS gifts, that wee shall bee ready to resigne them vp at his will and pleasure againe. Let vs throughout our whole liues confesse all good thinges to come of GOD, of what name or nature soeuer they bee, not of these corruptible things only, whereof I haue now last spoken, but much more of all spirituall graces behoueable for our soule, without whose goodnesse no man is called to faith, or staied therein, as I shall hereafter in the next part of this Homilie declare to you. In the meane season forget not what hath already beene spoken to you, forget not to bee comfortable in your iudgementes to the trueth of his doctrine, and forgette not to practise the same in the whole state of your life, whereby yee shall obtaine the blessing promised by our Sauiour Christ: Blessed bee they which heare the word of GOD, and fulfill it in life. Which blessing hee grant to vs all, who raigneth ouer all, one GOD in Trinitie, the Father, the Sonne, and the holy Ghost, to whom bee all honour and glorie for euer. Amen.
The third part of the Homilie for Rogation Weeke. I Promised to you to declare that all spirituall giftes and graces come specially from GOD. Let vs consider the trueth of this matter, and heare what is testified first of the gift of faith, the first entry into the Christian life, without &the; which no man can please GOD. For Saint Paul confesseth it plainely to be GODS gift, saying, Faith is the gift of GOD (Ephesians 2.8). And againe Saint Peter sayth, It is of GODS power that yee be kept through faith to saluation (1 Peter 1.5). It is of the goodnesse of GOD that we falter not in our hope vnto him. It is verily GODS worke in vs, the charitie wherewith wee loue our brethren. If after our fall wee repent, it is by him that we repent, which reacheth forth his mercifull hand to rayse vs vp. If any will we haue to rise, it is he that preuenteth our wil, and disposeth vs thereto. If after contrition wee feele our conscience at peace with GOD through remission of our sinne, and so bee reconciled againe to his fauour, and hope to be his children and inheritors of euerlasting life: who worketh these great miracles in vs? our worthinesse, our deseruings and indeuours, our wits, and vertue? Nay verily: Saint Paul will not suffer flesh and clay to presume to such arrogancie, and therefore sayth, All is of GOD which hath reconciled vs to himselfe by Iesus Christ. For GOD was in Christ when he reconciled the world vnto himselfe. GOD the Father of all mercy, wrought this high benefite vnto vs, not by his owne person: but by a meane, by no lesse meane then his onely beloued Sonne, whom he spared not from any paine and trauaile that might doe vs good. For vpon him he put our sinnes, vpon him he made our ransome, him he made the meane betwixt vs and himselfe, whose mediation was so acceptable to GOD the Father, through his absolute and perfect obedience, that he tooke his act for a full satisfaction of all our disobedience and rebellion, whose righteousnesse he tooke to weigh against our sinnes, whose redemption hee would haue stand against our damnation. In this poynt, what haue wee to muse within our selues good friends? I thinke no lesse then that which S. Paul sayd, in the remembrance of this wonderfull goodnesse of GOD. Thankes be to Almighty GOD, through Christ Iesus our Lord: for it is hee for whose sake wee receiued this high gift of grace (Romans 7.25). For as by him (being the euerlasting wisedome) hee wrought all the world and that is contained therein: So by him onely and wholy, would hee haue all things restored againe in heauen and in earth. By this our heauenly Mediatour therefore doe we know the fauour and mercy of GOD the Father, by him know we his will and pleasure towards vs, for he is the brightnesse of his Fathers glory, and a very cleare image and paterne of his substance. It is hee whom the Father in heauen delighteth to haue for his welbeloued Sonne (Matthew 3.17), whom he authorised to be our teacher, whom he charged vs to heare, saying, Heare him. It is hee by whom the Father of heauen doeth blesse vs with all spirituall and heauenly gifts (Ephesians 1.3), for whose sake and fauour (writeth Saint Iohn) we haue receiued grace and fauour (John 1.16). To this our Sauiour and Mediatour, hath GOD the Father giuen the power of heauen and earth, and the whole iurisdiction and authority, to distribute his goods and gifts committed to him: for so writeth the Apostle, To euery one of vs is grace giuen, according to the measure of Christes giuing (Ephesians 4.7). And thereupon to execute his authority committed, after that he had brought sinne and the Deuill to captiuitie, to bee no more hurtfull to his members, hee ascended vp to his Father againe, and from thence sent liberall giftes to his welbeloued seruants, and hath still the power to the worldes ende to distribute his Fathers giftes continually in his Church, to the establishment and comfort thereof. And by him hath Almighty GOD decreed to dissolue the world, to call all before him, to iudge both the quicke and the dead, and finally by him shall he condemne the wicked to eternall fire in hell, and giue the good eternall life, and set them assuredly in presence with him in heauen for euermore. Thus yee see how all is of GOD, by his Sonne Christ our Lord and Sauiour. Remember I say once againe your duetie of thankes, let them be neuer to want, still inioyne your selfe to continue in thankesgiuing, yee can offer to GOD no better sacrifice: For hee sayth himselfe, It is the sacrifice of prayse and thanks that shall honour me (Psalms 50.14). Which thing was well perceiued of that holy Prophet Dauid, when hee so earnestly spake to himselfe thus, O my soule, blesse thou the Lord, and all that is within me blesse his holy Name. I say once againe: O my soule blesse thou the Lord, and neuer forget his manifold rewardes (Psalms 103.1-2). GOD giue vs grace (good people) to know these things, and to feele them in our hearts. This knowledge and feeling is not in our selfe, by our selfe it is not possible to come by it, a great pitie it were &that; we should lose so profitable knowledge. Let vs therefore meekely call vpon that bountifull spirit the holy Ghost, which proceedeth from our Father of mercy, and from our Mediatour Christ, that he would assist vs, and inspire vs with his presence, that in him we may be able to heare the goodnesse of GOD declared vnto vs to our saluation. For without his liuely and secret inspiration, can we not once so much as speake the Name of our Mediatour, as S. Paul plainely testifieth: No man can once name our Lord Iesus Christ, but in the holy Ghost (1 Corinthians 12.3). Much lesse should we be able to beleeue and know these great mysteries that be opened to vs by Christ. Saint Paul saith, that no man can know what is of GOD, but the spirit of GOD. As for vs (saith he) we haue receiued not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of GOD, for this purpose: that in that holy spirit we might know the things that bee giuen vs by Christ (1 Corinthians 2.11-12). The wise man saith, that in the power and vertue of the holy Ghost, resteth all wisedome, and all ability to know GOD, and to please him. For he writeth thus, We know that it is not in mans power to guide his goings. No man can know thy pleasure except thou giuest wisedome, and sendest thy holy Spirit from aboue. Send him downe therefore (prayeth he to GOD) from the holy heauens, and from the throne of thy Maiestie, that he may be with me, and labour with me, that so I may know what is acceptable before thee (Wisdom 9.10, 13). Let vs with so good heart pray, as he did, and we shall not faile but to haue his assistance. For he is soone seene of them that loue him, he will be found of them that seeke him: For very liberall and gentle is the spirit of wisedome. In his power shall we haue sufficient abilitie to know our duety to GOD, in him shall we be comforted and couraged to walke in our duetie, in him shall we bee meete vessels to receiue the grace of Almighty GOD: for it is he that purgeth and purifieth the minde by his secret working. And hee onely is present euery where by his inuisible power, and conteineth all things in his dominion. Hee lighteneth the heart to conceiue worthy thoughts to Almighty GOD, he sitteth in the tongue of man to stirre him to speake his honour, no language is hid from him, for he hath the knowledge of all speach, he onely ministreth spirituall strength to the powers of our soule and body. To hold the way which GOD had prepared for vs, to walke rightly in our iourney, wee must acknowledge that it is in the power of his spirit which helpeth our infirmitie. That wee may boldly come in prayer, and call vpon Almighty GOD as our Father, it is by this holy spirit, which maketh intercession for vs with continuall sighes (Galatians 4.6, Romans 8.26). If any gift we haue wherewith we may worke to the glory of GOD, and profite of our neighbour, all is wrought by his owne and selfe same spirit, which maketh his distributions peculiarly to euery man as hee will (1 Corinthians 12.8-11). If any wisdome wee haue, it is not of our selues, we cannot glory therein as begun of our selues, but we ought to glory in GOD from whom it came to vs, as the Prophet Ieremie writeth: Let him that reioyceth, reioyce in this, that hee vnderstandeth and knoweth mee, for I am the Lord which shew mercy, iudgement, and righteousnesse in the earth, for in these things I delight, saith the Lord (Jeremiah 9.24). This wisedome cannot bee atteined, but by the direction of the spirit of GOD, and therefore it is called spirituall wisedome. And no where can we more certainely search for the knowledge of this will of GOD (by the which wee must direct all our workes and deedes) but in the holy Scriptures, for they be they that testifie of him, sayth our Sauiour Christ (John 5.39). It may bee called knowledge and learning that is otherwhere gotten without the word: but the wise man plainely testifieth, that they all bee but vayne which haue not in them the wisedome of GOD (Apocrypha. Wisdom 13.1). Wee see to what vanitie the olde Philosophers came, who were destitute of this science, gotten and searched for in his word. Wee see what vanitie the schoole doctrine is mixed with, for that in this word they sought not the will of GOD, but rather the will of reason, the trade of custome, the path of &the; fathers, the practise of the Church. Let vs therefore reade and reuolue the holy Scripture both day and night, for blessed is hee that hath his whole meditation therein (Psalms 1.2). It is that that giueth light to our feete to walke by (Psalms 119.105). It is that which giueth wisedome to the simple & ignorant (Psalms 19.7). In it may we finde eternall life (John 5.24).
In the holy Scriptures finde wee Christ, in Christ finde wee GOD: for hee it is that is the expresse Image of the Father. He that seeth Christ, seeth the Father. And contrariwise, as Saint Ierome sayth, the ignorance of Scripture, is the ignorance of Christ. Not to know Christ, is to bee in darkenesse, in the middes of our worldly and carnall light of reason and philosophie (Hebrews 1.3, John 14.9). To bee without Christ, is to be in foolishnesse: For hee is the onely wisedome of the Father, in whom it pleased him that all fulnesse and perfection should dwell (Colossians 1.19). With whom whosoeuer is indued in heart by faith, and rooted fast in charity hath layde a sure foundation to build on, whereby hee may bee able to comprehend with all Saints what is the breadth, length, and depth, and to know the loue of Christ (Ephesians 3.18). This vniuersall and absolute knowledge, is that wisedome which S. Paul wisheth these Ephesians to haue, as vnder heauen the greatest treasure that can bee obtained. For of this wisedome the wise man writeth thus of his experience, All good things came to mee together with her, and innumerable riches through her handes (Apocrypha. Wisdom 7.11). And addeth moreouer in that same place. She is the mother of all these things: For shee is an infinite treasure vnto men, which whoso vse, become partakers of the loue of GOD. I might with many words moue some of this audience to search for this wisedome, to sequester their reason, to followe GODS commaundement, to cast from them the witts of their braines, to fauoure this wisedome, to renounce the wisedome and policie of this fond world, to tast and sauoure that whereunto the fauour and will of GOD hath called them, and willeth vs finally to enioy by his fauour, if wee would giue eare: But I will haste to the third part of my text, wherein is expressed further in sapience, how GOD giueth his elect vnderstanding of the motions of the heauens, of the alterations and circumstances of time. Which as it followeth in words more plentifull in the text which I haue last cited vnto you: so it must needes follow in them that bee indued with this spirituall wisedome. For as they can search where to ende this wisedome, and know of whom to aske it: So know they againe that in time it is founde, and can therefore attemper themselues to the occasion of the time, to suffer no time to passe away, wherein they may labour for this wisedome. And to encrease therein, they know how GOD of his infinite mercie and lenitie giueth all men heere time and place of repentance. And they see how the wicked (as Iob writeth) abuse the same to their pride, and therefore doe the godly take the better holde of the time, to redeeme it out of such vse as it is spoiled in by the wicked (Job 24.1). They which haue this wisedome of GOD, can gather by the diligent and earnest studie of the worldlings of this present life, how they waite their times, and applie themselues to euery occasion of time and to get riches, to encrease their lands and patrimonie. They see the time passe away, and therefore take hold on it, in such wise, that other whiles they will with losse of their sleepe and ease, with suffering many paines, catch the offer of their time, knowing that that which is past can not bee returned againe, repentance may follow, but remedy in none, Why should not they then that be spirituall wise in their generation, waite their time to encrease as fast in their state, to winne and gayne euerlastingly? They reason what a bruite forgetfulnesse it were in man indued with reason, to be ignorant of their times and tides, when they see the Turtle doue, the Storke, and the Swalow to waite their times, as Ieremie saith: The Storke in the ayre knoweth her appointed times, the Turtle, the Crane, and the Swallow obserue the time of their comming: but my people knoweth not the iudgement of the Lord (Jeremiah 8.7). S. Paul willeth vs to redeeme the time, because the dayes are euill (Ephesians 5.16). It is not the counsell of Saint Paul onely, but of all other that euer gaue precepts of wisedome.
There is no precept more seriously giuen and commanded, then to know the time. Yea Christian men for that they heare how grieuously GOD complaineth, and threatneth in the Scriptures them which will not know the time of his visitations are learned thereby, the rather earnestly to apply themselues thereunto (Luke 19.44). After our Sauiour Christ had prophesied with weeping teares of the destruction of Ierusalem at the last hee putteth the cause: For that thou hast not knowen the time of thy visitation. O Englande, ponder the time of GODS mercifull visitation which is shewed thee from day to day, and yet wilt not regard it, neither wilt thou with his punishment bee driuen to thy duety, nor with his benefites bee prouoked to thanks! If thou knewest what may fall vpon thee for thine vnthankefulnesse, thou wouldest prouide for thy peace. Brethren, howsoeuer the world in generalitie is forgetfull of GOD, let vs particularly attend to our time, and winne the time with diligence, and applye our selues to that light and grace that is offered vs, let vs, if GODS fauour and iudgements which hee worketh in our time, cannot stir vs to call home to our selfe to doe that belonging to our saluation: At the leaste way, let the malice of the diuel, the naughtines of the worlde, which wee see exercised in these perilous and last times, wherein wee see our daies so dangerously set, prouoke vs to watch diligently to our vocation, to walke and goe forwarde therein.
Let the miserie and short transitorie ioyes spied in the casualtie of our dayes, moue vs while wee haue them in our handes, and seriously stirre vs to be wise, and to expend the gratious good will of GOD to vs-ward, which all the day long stretcheth out his handes (as the prophet saith) vnto vs (Isaiah 65.2), for the most part his mercifull handes, sometime his heauie handes, that wee, beeinge learned thereby, may escape the danger that must needes fall on the vniust, who leade their daies in felicitie and pleasure, without the knowinge of GODS will towarde them, but sodenly they goe downe into hell. Let vs bee founde watchers, founde in the peace of the Lorde, that at the laste day wee may bee found without spot, & blamelesse: yea let vs endeuoure our selues (good Christian people) diligently to keep the presence of his holy spirit. (Apocrypha. Wisdom 1.5) Let vs renounce all vncleannes, for he is the spirit of puritie. Let vs auoyd all hypocricsie, for this holy spirit will flee from that which is faigned. Cast we off all malice & all euill will, for this spirit will neuer enter into an euill willing soule. Let vs cast away all the whole lumpe of sin that standeth about vs, for he will neuer dwell in that body that is subdued to sin (Hebrews 12.1). Wee cannot be seene thankfull to Almighty GOD, and worke such despite to the spirit of grace, by whom we be sanctified (Hebrews 10.29). If we do our endeuour, we shall not neede to feare. We shall bee able to ouercome all our enemies that fight against vs. Onely let vs apply our selues to accept that grace that is offered vs. Of almighty GOD wee haue comfort by his goodnesse, of our sauiour Christs mediation wee may bee sure. And this holy spirit will suggest vnto vs that shall bee wholsome, and confirme vs in all things. Therefore it cannot bee but true that Saint Paul affirmeth: Of him, by him and in him be all thinges, and in him (after this transitory life well passed) shall we haue all thinges. For Saint Paul saith: when the sonne of GOD shall subdue all thinges vnto him, then shall GOD bee all in all (1 Corinthians 15.28). If ye will know how GOD shall be all in all, verely after this sense may ye vnderstand it: In this world yee see that we bee faine to borrow many things to our necessitie, of many creatures: there is no one thing that sufficeth all our necessities. If wee bee an hungred, wee lust for bread. If we be a thirst, wee seeke to bee refreshed with ale or wine. If wee bee colde, wee seeke for cloth. If we bee sicke, we seeke to the Phisition. If wee be in heauinesse, we seeke for comfort of our friendes, or of company: so that there is no one creature by it selfe that can content all our wants and desires. But in the world to come, in that euerlasting felicitie, wee shall no more begge and seeke our particular comforts and commodities of diuers creatures: but wee shall possesse all that wee can aske and desire, in GOD, and GOD shall bee to vs all things. He shall be to vs both father and mother, he shall bee bread and drinke, cloth, physitions comfort, he shall bee all things to vs, and that of much more blessed fashion, and more sufficient contentation, then euer these creatures were vnto vs, with much more declaration then euer mans declaration then euer mans reason is able to conceiue. The eye of man is not able to behold, nor his eare can heare, nor it can bee compassed in the heart of man, what ioy it is that GOD hath prepared for them that loue him (1 Corinthians 2.9).
Let vs all conclude then with one voice with the wordes of Saint Paul: To him which is able to doe aboundantly beyond our desires and thoughtes, according to the power working in vs, bee glorie and praise in his Church, by Christ Iesus for euer, world without end (Ephesians 3.20). Amen.
AN EXHORTATION TO
be spoken to such Parishes where they vse their
Preambulation in Rogation weeke, for the
ouersight of the boundes and limits
of their Towne.
ALthough wee be now assembled together (good Christian people) most principally to laud and thanke Almightie GOD for his great benefits, by beholding the fields replenished with all maner of fruit, to the maintenance of our corporall necessities, for our food and sustenance, and partly also to make our humble suits in prayers to his Fatherly prouidence, to conserue the same fruits in sending vs seasonable weather, whereby we may gather in the said fruits, to that end for which his Fatherly goodnesse hath prouided them: Yet haue we occasion secondarily giuen vs in our walkes on those dayes, to consider the olde ancient bounds and limits belonging to our owne Towneship, and to other our neighbours bordering about vs, to the intent that wee should be content with our owne, and not contentiously striue for others, to the breach of charitie, by any incroching one vpon another, for claiming one of the other, further then that in ancient right and custome our forefathers haue peaceably laid out vnto vs for our commoditie and comfort. Surely a great ouersight it were in vs, which be Christian men in one profession of Faith, daily looking for that heauenly inheritance which is bought for euery one of vs by the bloodshedding of our Sauiour Iesus Christ, to striue and fall to variance for the earthly bounds of our townes, to the disquiet of our life betwixt our selues, to the wasting of our goods by vaine expences and costes in the law. We ought to remember, that our habitation is but transitorie and short in this mortall life. The more shame it were to fall out into immortall hatred among our selues, for so brittle possessions, and so to loose our eternall inheritance in heauen. It may stand well with Charitie, for a Christian man quietly to maintaine his right and iust title. And it is the part of euery good Townes man, to preserue as much as lieth in him, the liberties, franchises, boundes, and limites of his towne and countrey: But yet to striue for our very rightes and dueties with the breach of loue and charitie, which is the onely liuery of a Christian man, or with the hurt of godly peace and quiet, by the which wee bee knitte together in one generall fellowship of Christes familie, in one common houshold of GOD, that is vtterly forbidden. That doeth GOD abhorre and detest, which prouoketh Almighty GODS wrath otherwhile to depriue vs quite of our commodities and liberties, because wee doe so abuse them, for matters of strife, discord, and dissension. Saint Paul blamed the Corinthians for such contentious suing among themselues, to the slaunder of their profession before the enemies of Christes religion, saying, thus vnto them. Now there is vtterly a falt among you, because yee goe to lawe one with another. Why rather suffer yee not wrong? Why rather suffer ye not harme (1 Corinthians 6.7)? If S. Paul blameth the Christian men, whereof some of them, for their owne right, went contentiously so to law, commending thereby the profession of patience in a Christian man: If Christ our Sauiour would haue vs rather to suffer wrong, and to turne our left cheeke to him which hath smitten the right, to suffer one wrong after another, rather then by breach of charitie to defend our owne (Matthew 5.39): In what state be they before GOD who doe the wrong? What curses do they fall into, who be false witnesse defraud either their neighbour, or towneship of his due right and iust possession? which will not let to take an oath by the holy Name of GOD, the authour of all trueth, to set out falshood and a wrong? Know yee not (saith Saint Paul) that the vnrighteous shall not inherite the kingdome of GOD (1 Corinthians 6.9)? what shall we then winne to increase a little the boundes and possessions of the earth, and loose the possessions of the inheritance euerlasting? Let vs therefore take such heed in maintaining of our bounds and possessions, that we commit not wrong by encroching vpon other. Let vs beware of suddaine verdite in things of doubt. Let vs well aduise our selues to aduouch that certainely, whereof either we haue no good knowledge or remembrance, or to claime that wee haue no iust title to. Thou shalt not (commandeth Almighty GOD in his Law) remoue thy neighbours marke, which they of olde time haue set in their inheritance (Deuteronomy 19.14). Thou shalt not (saith Solomon) remooue the ancient boundes which thy fathers haue layde (Proverbs 22.28). And lest wee should esteeme it to bee but a light offence so to doe, we shall vnderstand, that it is reckoned among the curses of GOD pronounced vpon sinners. Accursed be hee (saith Almighty GOD by Moses) who remooueth his neighbours doles and markes, and all the people shall say, answering Amen thereto, as ratifying that curse vpon whom it doth light (Deuteronomy 27.17). They doe much prouoke the wrath of GOD vpon themselues, which vse to grinde vp the doles and markes, which of ancient time were layd for the diuision of meeres and balkes in the fieldes, to bring the owners to their right. They do wickedly which do turne vp the ancient terries of the fieldes, that old men before times with great paines did tread out, whereby the Lordes recordes (which bee the tenantes euidences) bee peruerted and translated sometime to the disheriting of the right owner, to the oppression of the poore fatherlesse, or the poore widow. These couetous men know not what inconueniences they be the authours of. Sometime by such craft and deceit be committed great disorders and riottes in the challenge of their lands, yea sometimes murders and bloodshed, whereof thou art guiltie whosoeuer thou bee that giuest the occasion thereof. This couetous practising therefore with thy neighbours landes and goods, is hatefull to Almighty GOD. Let no man subtily compasse or defraud his neighbour (biddeth Saint Paul) in any maner of cause. For GOD (saith hee) is a reuenger of all such (1 Thessalonians 4.6). GOD is the GOD of all equity and righteousnesse, and therefore forbiddeth all such deceit and subtiltie in his Law, by these wordes, Yee shall not deale vniustly in iudgement, in line, in weight, or measure. Ye shall haue iust ballances, true weightes, and true measures (Levit. 19.35-36). False balance (saith Solomon) are an abomination vnto the Lord (Proverbs 20.23). Remember what Saint Paul saith, GOD is the reuenger of all wrong and iniustice, as wee see by dayly experience, how euer it thriueth vngraciously which is gotten by falshood and craft. Wee bee taught by experience, how Almighty GOD neuer suffereth the third heire to enioy his fathers wrong possessions, yea many a time they are taken from himselfe in his owne life time. GOD is not bound to defend such possessions as are gotten by the diuell and his counsell. GOD will defende all such mens goods and possessions, which by him are obtained and possessed, and will defend them against the violent oppressour. So witnesseth Solomon, The Lord will destroy the house of the proude man: But hee will stablish the borders of the widow (Proverbs 15.25). No doubt of it (saith Dauid) better is a little truely gotten to the righteous man, then the innumerable riches of the wrongfull man (Psalms 37.16). Let vs flee therefore (good people) all wrong practises in getting, maintaining and defending our possessions, lands, and liuelords, our bounds and liberties, remembring that such possessions bee all vnder GODS reuengeance. But what doe wee speake of house and land? Nay it is sayd in the Scripture, that GOD in his yre doeth roote vp whole kingdomes for wronges and oppressions, and doeth translate kingdomes from one nation to another, for vnrighteous dealing, for wrongs and riches gotten by deceit. This is the practise of the holy One (saith Daniel) to the intent that liuing men may know, that the most High hath power ouer the kingdomes of men, and giueth them to whomsoeuer hee will (Daniel 4.17). Furthermore, what is the cause of penurie and scarcenesse, of dearth and famine? Is it any other thing but a token of GODS yre, reuenging our wrongs and iniuries done one to another? Yee haue sowne much, (obraydeth GOD by his Prophet Aggei) and yet bring in little, yee eate, but yee be not satisfied, yee drinke, but yee bee not filled, yee cloth your selues, but yee bee not warme, and hee that earneth his wages, putteth it in a bottomlesse purse: yee looked for much increase, but loe, it came to little, and when yee brought it home (into your barnes) I did blow it away, sayth the the Lord (Haggai 1.6-9). O consider therefore the yre of GOD against gleaners, gatherers, and incrochers vpon other mens landes, and possessions! It is lamentable to see in some places, how greedy men vse to plowe and grate vpon their neighbors land that lieth next them, how couetous men now adayes plow vp so nigh the common balkes and walkes, which good men before time made the greater & broader, partly for the commodious walke of his neighbor, partly for the better shacke in haruest time, to the more comfort of his poore neighbours cattell? It is a shame to behold the insatiablenesse of some couetous persons in their doings: that where their ancestours left of their land a broade and sufficient beere balke, to carry the corps to the Christian sepulture, how men pinch at such beere balkes, which by long vse and custome ought to bee inuiolably kept for that purpose, And now they either quite ere them vp, and turne the dead body to be borne farther about in the high streets, or els if they leaue any such meere, it is too strait for two to walke on.
These strange encrochments (good neighbours) should be looked vpon. These should bee considered in these dayes of our Perambulations. And afterwards the parties admonished, and charitably reformed, who be the doers of such priuate gaining, to the slander of the towneship, and the hinderance of the poore. Your high wayes should be considered in your walkes, to vnderstand where to bestow your dayes workes, according to the good Statutes prouided for the same. It is a good deed of mercie, to amend the dangerous and noisome wayes, whereby thy poore neighbour sitting on his silly weake beast foundereth not in the deepe thereof, and so the Market the worse serued, for discouraging of poore vittailers to resort thither for the same cause. If now therefore yee will haue your prayers heard before Almightie GOD, for the increase of your corne and cattell, and for the defence thereof from vnseasonable mistes and blastes, from haile and other such tempestes, loue, equitie, and righteousnesse, ensue mercie and charitie, which GOD most requireth at our hands. Which Almightie GOD respecting chiefly, in making his ciuill lawes for his people the Israelites, in charging the owners not to gather vp their corne too nigh at haruest season, nor the grapes and Oliues in gathering time, but to leaue behind some eares of corne for the poore gleaners (Leviticus 19.9-10, Deuteronomy 24.19-21). By this he meant to induce them to pittie the poore, to relieue the needie, to shew mercie and kindnesse. It cannot be lost, which for his sake is distributed to the poore. (1 Corinthians 9.9-10) For he which ministreth seed to the sower, and bread to the hungry, which sendeth downe the early and latter raine vpon your fields, so to fill vp the barnes with corne, and the wine presses with wine and oyle (Joel 2.23-24), he I say who recompenseth all kind of benefits in the resurrection of the iust, he will assuredly recompence all mercifull deedes shewed to the needie, howsoeuer vnable the poore is, vpon whom it is bestowed. O (saith Salomon) let not mercie and trueth forsake thee. Binde them about thy necke (saith hee) and write them on the table of thy heart, so shalt thou find fauour at GODS hand (Proverbs 3.3-4).
Thus honour thou the Lord with thy riches, and with the first fruites of thine increase: So shall thy barnes be filled with abundance, and thy presses in all burst with new wine. Nay, GOD hath promised to open the windowes of heauen, vpon the liberall righteous man, that hee shall want nothing. He will represse the deuouring Caterpiller, which should deuour your fruits. Hee will giue you peace and quiet to gather in your prouision, that ye may sit euery man vnder his owne vine quietly, without feare of the forreine enemies to inuade you. Hee will giue you not onely food to feed on, but stomackes and good appetites to take comfort of your fruites, whereby in all things yee may haue sufficiencie. Finally, he will blesse you with all maner abundance in this transitorie life,and endue you with all manner of benediction in the next world, in the kingdome of heauen, through the merits of our Lord and Sauiour, to whom with the Father, and the holy Ghost, be all honor euerlasting. Amen.
The Anglican Library, This HTML edition copyright 1999.