صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

easy natures and softer understandings, does more easily abuse a man. And though such a person may · have the good fortune to admire a good man and a wise ; yet it is an ill disposition, and makes him liable to every man's abuse. Stupidum hominem quavis oratione percelli, said Heraclitus ; an undiscerning person

is apt to be cozened by every oration. And besides this, that preacher whom some do admire, others will most certainly envy, and that also is to be provided against with diligence : and you must not admire too forwardly, for your own sake, lest you fall into the hands of a worse preacher, and for his sake, whom, when you admire, you also love, for others will be apt to envy

him. 3. But that must by all men he avoided, for envy is the worst counsellor in the world, and the worst hearer of a wise discourse. I pity those men who live upon flattery and wonder, and while they sit at the foot of the doctor's chair, stare in his face, and cry Hexepil sos, a Moyanou puncompiu" rarely spoken, admirably done! They are like callow and unfeathered birds, gaping perpetually to be fed from another's mouth, and they never come to the knowledge of the truth ; such a knowledge as is effective, and expressed in a prudent and holy life. But those men that envy the preacher, besides that they are great enemies of the Holy Ghost, and are spitefully evil, because God is good to him, they are also enemies to themselves. He that envies the honours or the riches of another, envies for his own sake, and he would fain be rich with that wealth which sweats in his neighbour's coffers: but


[blocks in formation]

he that envies him that makes good sermons, envies himself, and is angry because himself may receive the benefit, and be improved, or delighted, or instructed by another. He that is apt fondly to admire any man’s person, must cure himself by considering, that the preacher is God's minister and servant; that he speaks God's word, and does it by the divine assistance; that he hath nothing of his own but sin and imperfection ; that he does but his duty, and that also hardly enough ; that he is highly answerable for his talent, and stands deeply charged with the cure of souls ; and therefore that he is to be highly esteemed for the work sake, not for the person : his in

, dustry and his charity is to be beloved, his ability is to be accounted upon another stock, and for it the preacher and the hearer are both to give God thanks; but nothing is due to the man for that, save only that it is the rather to be employed, because by it we may be better instructed: but if any other reflection be made



it is next to the sin and danger of Herod and the people, when the fine oration was made uita Tonans partaries, with huge fancy ; the people were pleased, and Herod was admired, and God was angry, and an angel was sent to strike him with death and with dishonour. But the envy against a preacher is to be cured by a contrary discourse, and we must remember, that he is in the place of God, and hath received the gift of God, and the aids of the Holy Ghost ; that by his abilities God is glorified, and we are instructed, and the interests of virtue and holy religion are promoted; that by this

means God, who deserves that all souls should serve him for ever, is likely to have a fairer harvest of glory and service, and therefore that


is against him ; that if we envy because we are not the instrument of this good to others, we must consider that we desire the praise to ourselves, not to God. Admiration of a man supposes him to be inferiour to the person so admired, but then he is pleased so to be; but envy supposes him as low, and he is displeased at it: and the envious man is not only less than the other man's virtue, but also contrary: the former is a vanity, but this is a vice ; that wants wisdom, but this wants wisdom and charity too; that supposes an absence of some good, but this is a direct affliction and calamity.

4. And after all this, if the preacher be not despised, he may proceed cheerfully in doing his duty, and the hearer may have some advantages by every

I remember that Homer says, the wooers of Penelope laughed at Ulysses, because at his return he called for a loaf, and did not, to show his gallantry, call for swords and spears. Ulysses was só wise as to call for that he needed, and had it, and it did him more good than a whole armoury would in his case. So is the plainest part of an easy and honest sermon, it is the sincere milk of the word, and nourishes a man's soul, though represented in its own natural simplicity; and there is hardly any orator but you may find occasion to praise something of him. When Plato misliked the order and disposition of the oration of Lysias, yet he praised the



good words and the elocution of the man. Euripides was commended for his fulness, Parmenides for his composition, Phocylides for his easiness, Archilochus for his argument, Sophocles for the unequalness of his style: so many men praise their preacher; he speaks pertinently, or he contrives wittily, or he speaks comely, or the man is pious, or charitable, or he hath a good text, or he speaks plainly, or he is not tedious, or, if he be, he is at least industrious, or he is the messenger of God; and that will not fail us, and let us love him for that. And we know those that love can easily commend any thing, because they like every thing: and they say,

fair men are like angels, and the black are manly, and the pale look like honey and the stars, and the crooknosed are like the sons of kings, and if they be fat they are gentle and easy, and if they be deformed they are humble, and not to be despised, because they have

then the impresses of divinity, and they are the sons of God. He that despises his preacher, is a hearer of arts and learning, not of the word of God: and though, when the word of God is set off with advantages and entertainments of the better faculties of our humility, it is more useful and of more effect; yet, when the word of God is spoken truly, though but read in plain language, it will become the disciple of Jesus to love that man whom God sends, and the publick order and the laws have employed, rather than to despise the weakness of him who delivers a mighty word.


Thus it is fit that men should be affected and employed when they hear and read sermons, coming hither not as into a theatre, where men observe the gestures or noises of the people, the brow and eyes of the most busy censurers, and make parties, and go

aside with them that dislike every thing, or else admire not the things, but the persons; but as to a sacrifice, and as to a school where virtue is taught and exercised, and none come but such as put themselves under discipline, and intend to grow wiser and more virtuous, to appease their passion, from violent to become smooth and even, to have their faith established, and their hope confirmed, and their charity enlarged. They that are otherwise affected do not do their duty : but if they be so minded as they ought, I and all men of

my employment shall be secured against the tongues and faces of men who are ingeniosi in alieno libro, witty to abuse and undervalue another man's book. And yet, besides these spiritual arts already reckoned, I have one security more: for (unless I deceive myself) I intend the glory of God sincerely, and the service of Jesus, in this publication; and therefore seeing I do not seek myself or my own reputation, I shall not be troubled if they be lost in the voices of busy people, so that I be accepted of God, and found of him in the day of the Lord's visitation.

My Lord, it was your charity and nobleness that gave me opportunity to do this service (little or great) unto religion, and whoever shall find any advantage to their soul by reading the following

« السابقةمتابعة »