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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 their ears 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, (Hosea 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, and drop of heavenly dew; 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 retchless in building others. We forsake the Lord's inheritance, 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 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." Judgment must begin at the House of iv. 17. God,” saith Peter. 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-days, 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 Hagg. il. 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 doth owe unto God in this respect. They have, I doubt not, such as put 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 glory? And how do you see it now? Is it not, in comparison of the other, almost as nothing ? When ye look upon them that 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 difference of present from former times is bewailed; easily persuaded to think of them that lived to enjoy the days which now are gone. Surely they were happy in comparison of us that have succeeded them: were not their Bishops men unreprovable, wise, righteous, holy, temperate, 1 Tim. 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" (2 Tim. those which gainsayed the truth? Had they Priests made of the refuse of the people? Were men, like to the children which were in Nineveh, unable to discern between the
right hand and the left, presented to the charge of their
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." Jer. ii. “ O ye disobedient children, turn again, saith the Lord,
and then will I give you Pastors according to mine own
FOUND IN THE STUDY OF
Matt. vii. 7, 8. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be
opened unto you. For whosoever asketh,” &c.
1. As all the creatures of God, which attain their highest perfection by process of time, are in their first beginning raw; so man, in the end of his race the perfectest, is at his entrance thereunto the weakest, and thereby longer enforced to continue a subject for other men's compassion to work upon voluntarily, without any other persuader, besides their own secret inclination, moving them to repay to the common stock of humanity such help, as they know that themselves before must needs have borrowed; the state and condition of all flesh being herein alike. It cometh hereby to pass, that although there be in us, when we enter into this present world, no conceit or apprehension of our own misery, and for a long time after no ability, as much as to crave help or succour at other men's hands; yet through his most good and gracious providence, which feedeth the young, even of feathered fowls and ravens (whose natural significations of their necessities are therefore termed in Scripture "prayers and invocations" which God doth hear), we amongst them whom he values at a far higher rate than millions of brute creatures, do find by perpetual experience, daily occasions given unto every of us, religiously to acknowledge with the Prophet David, “ Thou, O Lord, from our birth hast been Psal. merciful unto us, we have tasted thy goodness, hanging even at our mothers' breasts." That God, which during infancy preserveth us without our knowledge, teacheth us at years of discretion how to use our own abilities for procurement of our own good.
* [Published by I. Walton, 1678. 8vo.]
2. “ Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For whosoever doth ask, shall receive; whosoever doth seek, shall find; the door unto every one which knocks shall be opened."
In which words we are first, commanded to ask, seek, and knock: secondly, promised grace answerable unto every of these endeavours; asking, we shall have; seeking, we shall find; knocking, it shall be opened unto us: thirdly, this grace is particularly warranted, because it is generally here averred, that no man asking, seeking, and knocking, shall fail of that whereunto his serious desire tendeth.
i. Of asking or praying I shall not need to tell you, either at whose hands we must seek our aid, or to put you in mind that our hearts are those golden censers from which
the fume of this sacred incense must ascend. For concernPsal. ing the one, you know who it is which hath said, “ Call
upon me;" and of the other, we may very well think, that if any where, surely first and most of all in our prayers, God doth make his continual claim, “ Fili, da mihi cor tuum,” Son, let me never fail in this duty to have thy heart.
3. Against invocation of any other than God alone, if all arguments else should fail, the number whereof is both great and forcible, yet this very bar and single challenge might suffice; that whereas God hath in Scripture delivered us so many patterns for imitation when we pray, yea, framed ready to our hands in a manner all, for suits and supplications, which our condition of life on earth may at any time need, there is not one, no not one to be found directed unto Angels, Saints, or any, saving God alone. So that, if in such cases as this we hold it safest to be led by the best examples that have gone before, when we see what Noah, what Abraham, what Moses, what David, what Daniel, and the rest did; what Form of Prayer Christ himself likewise taught his Church, and what his blessed Apostles did practise; who can doubt but the way for us to pray so as we
Prov. xxiii. 26.