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Wherefore, saith the apostle, they seek righteousness, and not by faith ; wherefore they stumble at Christ, they are bruised, shivered to pieces, as a ship that hath run herself upon a rock. O that God would cast down the eyes of the proud, and humble the souls of the high-minded! that they might at the length abhor the garments of their own flesh, which cannot hide their nakedness, and put on the faith of Christ Jesus, as he did put it on, who hath said, “Doubtless I think all things but loss, for the excellent knowledge sake of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have counted all things loss, and do judge them to be dung, that I might win Christ, and might be found in bim, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law; but that which is through the faith of Christ, even the righteousness which is of God through faith.” O that God would open the ark of mercy, wherein this doctrine lieth, and set it wide before the eyes of poor afflicted consciences, which fly up and down upon the water of their afflictions, and can see nothing but only the gulf and deluge of their sins, wherein there is no place for them to rest their feet. The God of pity and compassion give you all strength and courage, every day, and every hour, and every moment, to build and edify yourselves in this most pure and holy faith. And thus much both of the thing prescribed in this exhortation, and also of the properties of the thing, “Build yourselves in your most holy faith.” I would come to the next branch, which is of prayer; but I cannot lay this matter out of my hands, till I have added somewhat for the applying of it, both to others and to our. selves.
29. For your better understanding of matters contained in this exhortation, “Build yourselves,” you must note, that every church and congregation doth consist of a multitude of believers, as every house is built of many stones. And although the nature of the mystical body of the church be such, that it suffereth no distinction in the visible members, but whether it be Paul or Apollos, prince or prophet, he that is taught, or he that teacheth, all are equally Christ's, and Christ is equally theirs : yet in the external administration of the church of God, because God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, it is necessary that in every congregation there be a distinction, if not of inward dignity, yet of outward degree; so that all are saints, or seem to be saints, and should be as they seem: but are all apostles ? if the whole body were an eye, where were then the hearing? God, therefore, hath given some to be apostles, and some to be pastors, &c. for the edification of the body of Christ. In which work, we are God's labourers, saith the apostle, and ye are God's husbandry, and God's building.
30. The church, respected with reference unto administration ecclesiastical, doth generally consist but of two sorts of men, the labourers and the building; they which are ministered unto, and they to whom the work of the ministry is committed ; pastors, and the flock over whom the Holy Ghost hath made them overseers. If the guide of a congregation, be his name or his degree whatsoever, be diligent in his vocation, feeding the flock of God which dependeth upon him, caring for it, "not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind ;" not as though he would tyrannize over God's heritage, but as a pattern unto the flock, wisely guiding them: if the people in their degree do yield themselves framable to the truth, not like rough stone or flint, refusing to be smoothed and squared for the building: if the magistrate do carefully and diligently survey the whole order of the work, providing by statutes and laws, and bodily punishments, if need require, that all things might be done according to the rule which cannot deceive; even as Moses proved, that all things might be done according to the pattern which he saw in the mount; there the words of this exhortation are truly and effectually heard. Of such a congregation every man will say, “Behold a people that are wise, a people that walk in the statutes and ordinances of their God, a people full of knowledge and understanding, a people that have skill in building themselves.” Where it is otherwise, there, “ as by slothfulness the roof doth decay;"> and as by “idleness of hands the house droppeth through," as it is in Eccles. x. 18. so first one piece, and then another of their building shall fall away, till there be not a stone left upon a stone.
31. We see how fruitless this exhortation hath been to such as bend all their travel only to build and manage a papacy upon earth, without any care in the world of building themselves in their most holy faith. God's people have inquired at their mouths, " What shall we do to have eternal life?" Wherein shall we build and edify ourselves?' And they have departed home from their prophets, and from their priests, laden with doctrines which are precepts of men; they have been taught to tire out themselves with bodily exercise: those things are enjoined them, which God did never require at their hands, and the things he doth require are kept from them; their eyes are fed with pictures, and ears are filled with melody, but their souls do wither, and starve, and pine away; they cry for bread, and behold stones are offered them; they ask for fish, and see they have scorpions in their hands. Thou seest, O Lord, that they build themselves, but not in faith; they feed their children, but not with food: their rulers say with shame, bring, and not build. But God is righteous; their drunkenness stinketh, their abominations are known, their madness is manifest,
the wind hath bound them up in her wings, and they shall be ashamed of their doings. “Ephraim (saith the prophet) is joined to idols, let him alone." I will turn me, therefore, from the priests, which do minister unto idols, and apply this exhortation to them whom God hath appointed to feed his chosen in Israel.
32. If there be any feeling of Christ, any drop of heavenly dew, or any spark of God's good Spirit within you, stir it up, be careful to build and edify, first yourselves, and then your flocks, in this most holy faith.
33. I say, first, yourselves ; for, he which will set the hearts of other men on fire with the love of Christ, must himself burn with love. It is want of faith in ourselves, my brethren, which makes us (careless) wretchless in building others. We forsake the Lord's in-. heritance, and feed it not. What is the reason of this ? Our own desires are settled where they should not be. We ourselves are like those women which have a longing to eat coals, and lime, and filth; we are fed, some with honour, some with ease, some with wealth; the gospel waxeth loathsome and unpleasant in our taste; how should we then have a care to feed others with that which we cannot fancy ourselves ? If faith wax cold and slender in the heart of the prophet, it will soon perish from the ears of the people. The prophet Amos speaketh of a famine, saying, “I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst of water, but of hearing the word of the Lord. Men shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north unto the east shall they run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.” (Ambs viï. 11, 12.) “ Judgment must begin at the house of God," saith Peter. (1 Peter iv. 17.) Yea, I say, at the sanctuary of God this judgment must begin. This famine must begin at the heart of the prophet. He must have darkness for a vision, he must stumble at noon-day, as at the twilight, and then truth shall fall in the midst of the streets; then shall the people wander from sea to sea, and from the north unto the east shall they run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord.
34. In the second of Haggai, “Speak now (saith God to his prophet), speak now to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, prince of Judah, and to Jehoshua, the son of Jehozadak the high-priest, and to the residue of the people, saying, Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do you see it now? . Is not this house in your eyes, in comparison of it, as nothing?” The prophet would have all, men's eyes turned to the view of themselves, every sort brought to the consideration of their present state. This is no place to shew what duty Zerubbabel or Jehoshua does owe unto God in this respect. They have, I doubt not, such as put VOL. III.
them hereof in remembrance, I ask of you, which are a part of the residue of God's elect and chosen people, Who is there amongst you that hath taken a survey of the house of God, as it was in the days of the blessed apostles of Jesus Christ? Who is there amongst you that hath seen and considered this holy temple in her first gloty? And how do you see it now? Is it not, in comparison of the other, almost as nothing? When you look upon them which have undertaken the charge of your souls, and know how far these are, for the most part, grown out of kind, how few there be that tread the steps of their ancient predecessors, ye are easily filled with indignation, easily drawn into these complaints, wherein the differ. ence of present from former times is bewailed ; easily persuaded to think of them that lived to enjoy the days which now are gone, that surely they were happy in comparison of us that have succeeded them : were not not their bishops men irreprovable, wise, righteous, holy, temperate, well reported of, even of those which were without? Were not their pastors, guides, and teachers, able and willing to exhort with wholesome doctrine, and to reprove those which gainsayed the truth? Had they priests made of the refuse of the people'? Were men, like to the children which were in Nihieveh, úpable to discern between the right hand and the left, presented to the charge of their congregations ? Did their teachers leave their flocks, over which the Holy Ghost had made them overseers? Did their prophets enter upon holy things as spoils, without a reverend calling? Were their leaders so unkindly affected towards them, that they could find in their hearts to sell them as sheep or oxen, not caring how they made them away? But, be. loved, deceive not yourselves. Do the faults of your guides and pastors offend you? It is your fault if they be thus faulty. “Nullus, qui malum rectorem patitur, eum accuset: quia sui fuit meriti perversi pastoris subjacere ditioni," saith St. Gregory ; “Whosoever thou art, whom the inconvenience of an evil governor doth press, accuse thyself, and not him; his being such is thy deserving.” “O ye disobedient children, turn again, saith the Lord, and then will I give you pastors according to mine own heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding." (Jer. iii. 14, 15.) So that the only way to repair all ruins, breaches, and offensive decays, in others, is to begin reformation at yourselves. Which, that we may all sincerely, seriously, and speedily do, God the Father grant for his Son our Saviour Jesus's sake, unto whom, with the Holy Ghost, three persons, one eternal and everlasting God, be honour, and glory, and praise, for ever.* Amen.
IN D E X..
ABSOLUTION, the extravagant abuse of where the outward means cannot be had,
it by the papists, iii. 56. 63. What in. ii. 196. The case of infants dying with
administered in cases of necessity, ii.
valid and effectual (in the judgment of
lian about fasting, ii. 308. The first op heretics, why rejected by the ancients,
poser of the order of bishops, iii. 128. i. 241.
Benedictus, the use of it in our service
i. 111. By what steps they gained Benefice, what the name signibos, ii. 370.
berty of Christians censored, i. 273. ! for 1500 years after Christ, iii. In Eng-
some of them came to fall, i. 131. How iii. 86. Whence they took their name, iii.
knowledge full and complete, i. 137. ib. A definition of a bishop, and in what
and with restraint, bow distinguished,
cessors, iii. 92. All bishops originally
tuted with restraint, and why, iii. 95. St.
sors, and in what not, iii. 94. The dan- . 97. Their succession from the apostles to
slles founded, iii. 103. What their power
Have the power of jurisdiction invested
they admitted presbyters to the exercise
ten (according to the judgment of Mr. 118. Some superior to others, and why,
opposed, ii. 128. Their interest in civil
due to them, and upon what account,
iii. 172. 184. In what instances honour is
tenance of the church, jij. 200. Their
ii. 190. 198. The necessity of it, ii. their office by simony, iii. 207. Their vi-