PREACHED AT LINCOLN'S-INN, ASCENSION-DAY, 1622.
Deuteronomy xii. 30.
Take heed to thyself, that thou be not snared by following them after they be de stroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.
When I consider our ascension in this life, (that which David speaks of, Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord1?) I see the prophet adds there, as another manner of expressing the same thing, And who shall stand in that holy place? Quis ascendet, et quis stabit? A man does not ascend, except he stand. And such an ascension (an ascension without a redescent) Moses provides for here. First, they should ascend to an abolishing of all idolatry; and then they should stand in that state, persevere in that station, and perpetuate that ascension to themselves, by shutting themselves up against any new re-entries of that idolatry
1 Psalm xxiv. 30.
which had been once happily banished from amongst them. The inchoation of this ascension, that step which is happily made in the abolishing of idolatry, is in the beginning of this chapter; Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, (which is a vehement gradation and heightening of the commandment:) it is a destruction, not a faint discontinuing of idolatry, but destruction: it is utter destruction, not a defacing, not a deferring of idolatry; and it is the utter destruction of the very place, not a seizing the riches of the place, not a slight correction of the abuses of the place, but the place itself, and (as is there expressed) all the place, not to leave the devil one chapel wherein the nations had served their 1 gods. And the Holy Ghost proceeds in the next verse with this particular vehemency, You shall overthrow their altars, break their pillars, burn their groves, hew dotcn their images, and destroy their names. But all this is but the inchoation of this ascension, the first step in abolishing idolatry: the consummation of it is, in standing there; and that is in this text, Take heed to thyself, &c.
The words are an inhibition, and the persons are all they to whom God hath extended his favours, so far as to deliver them from idolatry, formerly practised amongst them, and to bring them to the sincere worship of his name. And for such persons we need not go far, for we ourselves are they. God hath given us such a deliverance heretofore in the reformation of religion; so far we are ascended, and so the inhibition lies upon us, that we slide not back again. It hath two parts; 1. The main matter of the inhibition, that we be not snared by idolaters, after they have been destroyed from before us. And secondly, two particular dangers whereby we may be snared: first, by following them: take heed you be not snared by them; and then by an over-curious inquiring into their religion, Enquire not after their gods, &c. And through the first, the matter of the inhibition, we shall pasS by these steps, 1. That there is no security; there is still danger, though the idolater be destroyed. And secondly, that there is therefore a diligence to be required, Take heed to thyself And then thirdly, that the danger from which this diligence must deliver us is a snare; Take heed lest thou be snared. And for the branches of the second part, the snare of following them; the snare of inquiring into their opinions; it shall least incumber you to have them opened then, when we come to handle them; first we pass through the first part.
In that, the first branch is, that there is no security, though the enemy be destroyed. And there we are to consider first, what amounts to a destruction, what is called a destruction in this case; God had promised the children of Israel, that he would give all the inhabitants of the laud of promise into their hands; that he would abolish them, destroy them, and (as his own phrase is) cut them off*. God performs all his promises; Was this performed to them? did God destroy them all? truly it was very much that God did in this behalf. He got great victories for them, and by strange means. One angel was able to destroy for them almost two hundred thousand Assyrians in one night in Sennacherib's army8. This was a real execution by the hands of one, who having commission, had truly power to do it, an angel. But he prevailed for them so too in another case, only by an apparition of angels, when there was no blow strucken, when Elisha's servant saw mountains full of horses and chariots of fire4. He prevailed for them by creatures of a much lower rank, and weak in their nature, by hornets. He promises Moses, that he would send hornets before them5, and they should drive out the inhabitants of the land. He prevails for them by creatures of a lower rank than they, by creatures without life, by stones. The Lord discomfited them by great stones from heaven He prevailed by that which is no creature, no subsistence, a sound only, the Lord thundered with a great thunder upon the Philistines, and discomfited them7. He took a lower way than this, he employed nothing, and yet did the work, by imprinting a terror in their hearts, Five of you. shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight*. And a way lower than that; ho wrought not upon their minds, but upon their senses. He smote a whole army with blindness*. And he went further yet; he did nothing at all upon them, and yet wrought his purpose only by diversion; when Saul pursued
• Exod. xxiii. 23. 8 2 Kings xix. 36. 4 2 Kings vi. 16.
'Exod. xxiii. 28. * Josh. x. 10.
7 1 Sara. vii. 10. "2 Kings vi. 17. » 1 Sam. xxiii. 27.
David with the most vehemence of all, a messenger came and told him that the Philistines had invaded his land, and then he gave over the pursuit of David18. Really great, admirably strange things did God in the behalf of his children, for the destruction of his and their idolatrous enemies. But yet were they ever destroyed: totally destroyed they were not; the Lord left some nations (says the text there) without hastily driving them out; neither did he deliver them into the hands of Joshua. The Jebusites dwell with the children of Benjamin in Jerusalem unto this day", (says that holy story) and so did other nations with the other tribes in other places. They were able (as we are told there) to put the Canaanites to tribute, but not to drive them out, to make penal laws against them, but not to deliver the land of them. Now why did God do this! We would not ask this question, if God had not told us, ut erudiret in Us Jerusalem, that the enemy might be their schoolmaster, and war their catechism, that they might never think that they stood in no more need of God. The Lord was with Judah, (saith the text) so far with him, as that he drave out the inhabitants of the mountain, but yet would not drive out the inhabitants of the valley. Sometimes God does the greater work, and yet leaves some lesser things undone. God chooses his matter and his manner, and his measure, and his means, and his minutes: but yet God is truly and justly said to have destroyed those idolatrous enemies, in that he brought them so low, as that they could not give laws to the children of Israel, nor force them to the idolatrous worship of their gods, though some scattered idolaters did still live amongst them. God could destroy Nequitias in cwlestibus, he could evacuate all powers and principalities, he could annihilate the devil, or he could put him out of commission, take from him the power of tempting or soliciting his servants. Though God hath not done it, yet he is properly said to have destroyed him, because he hath destroyed his kingdom. Death is swallowed up in victory, saith St. Paul out of Hosea". 0 death, where is thy sting! says he. Where is it! Why, it is in thy
Judges ii. 23. "Judges i. 21. 28.
ir 1 Cor. xv. 5. 4; Hosea xiii. 14.
bosom. It is at the heart of the greatest princes of the earth; though they be gods, they die like men. 0 grave, where is thy victory', says he there. Why, above the victories, and trophies, and triumphs of all the conquerors in the world. And yet the apostle speaks, (and justly) as if there were no death in man, no sting in death, no grave after death, because to him who dies in the Lord, all this is nothing; not he by death, but death in him is destroyed. And as it is of the cause of sin, the devil; and of the effect of sin, death; so is it of sin itself; it is destroyed, and yet we sin. He that is born of God, doth not commit sin so, as that sin shall be imputed to him. Sin and Satan, and death are destroyed in us, because they can do no harm to us. So the idolatrous nations were destroyed amongst the Israelites, because they could not bring in an inquisition amongst them, and force them to their religion. And so idolatry hath been destroyed amongst us, destroyed so, as that it hath been declared to be idolatry towards God, and declared to be complicated and wrapped up inseparably in treason towards the king and the state. Our schools and pulpits have destroyed it, and our parliaments have destroyed it. Our pulpits establish them that stay at home; and our laws are able to lay hold upon them that run from home, and return ill-affected to their home. Let no man therefore murmur at God's proceedings, and say, if God had a mind to destroy idolatry, he would have left no seed, or he would not have admitted such a repullulation, and such a growth of that seed as he hath done. God hath his own ends and his own ways: he destroyed the nations from before the Israelites; Christ hath destroyed sin, and Satan, and death, and hell; and idolaters amongst us, for God's greater glory, do remain. For such a destruction as should be absolute, God never intended, God never promised; for that were to occasion, and to induce a security, and remove all diligence: which is our second branch in this first part (Cave tibi) see, take heed, &c.
In the beginning of the world we presume all things to have been produced in their best state; all was perfect, and yet how soon a decay! All was summer, and yet how soon a fall of the leaf! A fall in Paradise, not of the leaf, but of the tree itself, Adam fell; a fall before that, in heaven itself, angels fell: better security than Adam, than angels had there, we cannot have, we cannot look for here. And therefore there is danger still, still occasion of diligence, of consideration. The chewing of the cud was a distinctive mark of cleanness in the creature". The holy rumination, the daily consideration of his Christianity, is a good character of a Christian. Covet earnestly the best gifts, says the apostle"; those to whom he writ had good gifts already, yet he exhorts them to a desire of better. And what doth he promise them 1 Not the gift itself, but the way to it, / will show a more excellent way. There is still something more excellent than we have yet attained to. Non dicit charisma, sed viam". The best step, the best height in this world, is but the way to a better; and still we have way before us to walk further in. Anathema pro fratribus", was but once said; St. Paul once, and in a vehement, and inordinate zeal, and religious distemper said so, That he could be content to be separated from Christ. Exi a me Domine, was but once said, once St. Peter said, Depart from me, 0 Lord". The anathema, the exi but once; but the Adveniat regnum, Let thy kingdom come, I hope is said more than once by every one of us, every day; every day we receive, and yet every day we pray for that kingdom, more and more assurance of glory, by more and more increase of grace. For as there are bodily diseases, and spiritual diseases too, proper to certain ages, (a young man and an old man are not ordinarily subject to the same distempers, nor to the same vices) so particular forms of religion have their indispositions, their ill inclinations too. Thou art bred in a reformed church, where the truth of Christ is sincerely preached, bless God for it; but even there thou mayest contract a pride, an opinion of purity, and uncharitably despise those who labour yet under their ignorances or superstitions; or thou mayest grow weary of thy manna, and smell after Egyptian onions again. It is not enough that the state and the church hath destroyed idolatry so far as we said before; still there are weeds, still there are seeds: and therefore Cave, take heed. But yet it is but, take heed. It is not take
thought. Afflict not thyself, deject not thyself with ominous presages, and prophetical melancholy, thy God will overthrow this religion, and destroy this work which his right hand hath been a hundred years in repairing, and scatter his corn which his right hand hath been a hundred years in purifying. Come not to say, it was but the passion and animosity of Luther, it was but the ambition and singularity of Calvin that induced this religion, and now that that is spent, the religion melts like snow. Take no such thought, be not afraid that the truth of God shall or can perish: it is not, take thought, but it is much less, take arms. Men may have false conceptions of preparations, and ways laid towards a re-entry of idolatry; and men may have just and true reasons of, or religious indignation to see so bad and so insolent uses made of those favours which are offered to persons of that profession; but yet our inhibition is no further here, but to take heed, not to take arms, not to come by violence, not to slackness of allegiance and obedience. It is but take heed, and but take heed to thyself. Pretend not thou who art but a private man, to be an overseer of the public, or a controller of him who (by way of coaction) is accountable to God only, and neither to any great officer at home, nor to the whole body of the people there, nor to any neighbour-prince or state abroad. Idor latry is destroyed, but yet there is danger, not to make thee take thought, to suspect God's power, or his will to sustain his cause; not to take arms, as if the Lord of hosts needed rebels; but to take heed, to watch plots of circumvention, and to heed to thyself, that is, to all under thy charge, for thy danger is not evident. It is a snare, laqueus, which is our last stop and step in this first part.
There is danger though the idolaters be thus destroyed. There is use of diligence, if there be danger, and the more, if this danger be a snare. Take heed that the idolater do not kindle a rebellion; take heed that the idolater do not solicit an invasion; take heed of public and general dangers. These be caveats for princes; but take heed of a snake, take heed of a snare, this appertains to every private man. God studied plagues for Egypt, and they were strange plagues; but that is as great as any at least, which David speaks of, Pluet laqueos, Import the Kicked God shall rain snares". And after, Mensa laqueus, Their table shall become a snare before them And if God punish our negligence of his former favours so far, as to rain snares even at our tables, that almost at every table that we can come to, we shall meet some that would ensnare us. Is not this caveat necessary in these times? Take heed that thou be not snared. David thought he had carried his complaint to the highest, when he said to his enemies, They commune of laying snares privily". But now they do not plot privily, but avow their mischiefs, and speak so, as we dare scarce confess that we heard them: and that is a shrewd snare, when they dare speak more then we dare hear. Will a man have taken up a snare from the earth, and have taken nothing"I saith the prophet. Since they have laid their snares, they will take some, and thou mayest be one: and therefore take heed of their snares. There is a snare laid for thy son, a persuasion to send him to foreign uersities; they will say, not to change his religion: for religion, let him do as he shall see cause; but there he shall be better taught, and better bred than at home. There is a snare laid for thy servants: What need they come to church, they have nothing to lose, who will indict them, who will persecute them? And yet in due time such servants may do the cause as much good as the masters.' There is a snare laid for thy wife: Her religion, say they, doth not hinder her husband's preferment, why should she refuse to apply herself to them? We have used to speak proverbially of a curtainsermon, as of a shrewd thing; but a curtain-mass, a curtainrequiem, a snare in thy bed, a snake in thy bosom is somewhat worse. I know not what name we may give to such a woman's husband; but I am sure such a wife hath committed adultery, spiritual adultery, and that with her husband's knowledge; call him what you will. There is a snare for thy servant, for thy son, for thy wife, and for thy fame too; and how far soever thou wert from it, they will have the world believe thou diedst a papist. If thy declination be towards profit, if thy bias turn that way, there is a snare in the likeness of a chain, of a jewel, a pension. If it be society and conversation, there may be a snare
in meeting more good company at masses, than at thy parish church. If it be levity, and affectation of new things, there may be a snare of things so new in that religion, as that this kingdom never saw them yet, not then when this kingdom was of that religion. For we had received the reformation before the council of Trent, and before the growth of the Jesuits: and if we should turn to them now, we should be worse than we were before we received the reformation; and the council of Trent and the Jesuits have made that religion worse then it was; as St. Bernard says upon St. Paul's words, Neither height, nor depth, nor life, nor death, shall separate us": Minime tamen dicit, nec nos ipsi. The apostle doth not say, that we ourselves, and our own concupisences shall not separate us from God. So though excommunications have not, invasions have not, powder-plots have not; yet God knows what those snares may work upon us. In laqueo suo comprehendantur, says David8*. Now laqueus is a snare, as their malice intends it for us; and laqueus is a halter, as our laws intend it for them; and in laqueo suo, as it is theirs, let them be taken. Our good and great God in his power and mercy hath destroyed idolatry; but in his wisdom he hath left exercise for our diligence in same danger, and that danger is a snare, and therefore, Take heed thou be not snared. And so we have done with the first part.
Our second part consists of two branches, of two ways of falling into this danger. First, by following them; and then, by inquiring into their religion. For the first, the original word which we translate, following, is achareihem", and it is only post eos, come not after them; which (if we were to reflect at all, which we always avoid, upon public things) would afford a good note for the public, for the magistrate, Come not after these idolaters, but be still beforehand with them. That which is proverbially said of particular bodies, will hold in a body politic, in any state. Qui medice misere. That man hath no health, who is put to sustain it, or repair it with continual physic. That state hath no safety, that refers all to a defensive war, and to a reparation of breaches, then when they
are made. That state will be subject to the other proverb, which Chrysostom foresaw: Medice cura teipsum". That state which hath been a physician to all her neighbour states, let blood, and staunched blood in them, so as conduced best to their own health, may be put to employ all her means upon herself, to repair and cure herself, if she follow, that is (in this acceptation of the word) come after her idolatrous enemies, and be not still beforehand with them. But that is not our sphere, the public, the state; but yet states consist of families, and families of private persons, and they are in our sphere, in our charge. And therefore we lay this inhibition upon all that are masters of families, Take heed of being snared by following, by coming after them, in this sense. That because thou thinkest thou hast a power in thy wife, in thy children, in thy servants, and canst do what thou wilt with them at any time, therefore thou needest not be so scrupulous at first, but mayest admit any supplanters, any underminers into thy house, because they are good company, or because they have relation to great persons. Come not to this, post eos, play not that after-game, to put thyself to a necessity of taking sore and unkind courses with wife and children after; but be beforehand with such idolaters, prevent their snare. We lay this inhibition too upon every particular conscience. Covetoumess is idolatry, saith the apostle, and Quot vitia, tot idola, saith St. Hierome. As many habitual sins as we have, so many idols have we set up. True repentance destroys this idolatry, it is true, but then, Take heed of being snared, post ea, by coming after them, by exposing thyself to dangers of relapses again, by consideration how easily thou madest thy peace last time with God. It was but a sigh, but a tear, but a bending of the knee, but a receiving of the sacrament, that went to it then. And post ea, when all is done which was done before in the way of sin, all that is easily done over again, which was done in the way of remedy. Say not so: for a merry heart, and a cheerful countenance, upon the testimony of a good conscience, is a better way to God than all the dejections of spirit, all the sure contritions, and sad remorses in the world. Thou art not sure that thou shalt get so far, as to such a sadness as God requires for sin, thou
» Luke iv. 24.
mayest continue in thy presumption. Thou art not sure that thou shalt go no further then God requires, in that sadness, it may flow out to desperation. Be beforehand with thy sins, watch the approaches of those enemies; for if thou build upon that way of coming after them upon presumption of mercy, upon repentance, thou mayest be snared, and therefore take heed. And this is the sense of the phrase, as the original will afford it, with idolaters in the state, with underminers in thy house, with sins in thy soul, be still beforehand, watch their dangerous accesses. But St. Hierome, and the great stream of expositors that go with him, give another sense of the word, Ne imiteris, Be not snared by following them. And in that sense we are to take the word now.
Follow them not then, that is, imitate them not, neither in their severity and cruelty, nor in their levity and facility, neither not in their severity, when they will apply all the capital and bloody penalties of the imperial laws (made against Arians, Manicheans, Pelagians, and Nestorians, heretics in the fundamental points of religion, and with which Christ could not consist) to every man that denies any collateral and subdivided tradition of theirs; that if a man conceive any doubt of the dream of purgatory, of the validity of indulgence, of the latitude of a work of supererogation, he is as deep in the faggot here, and shall be as deep in hell hereafter, as if he denied the Trinity, or the incarnation and passion of Christ Jesus; when in a day's warning, and by the roaring of one bull, it grows to be damnation to day, to believe so as a man might have believed yesterday, and have been saved, when they will afford no salvation, but in that church which is discernible by certain and inseparable marks, which our countryman Saunders makes to be six, and Michael Medina extends to eleven, and Bellarmine declares to be fifteen, and Bodius stretches to a hundred, when they make everything heresy; and rather than lack a text for putting heretics to death, will accept that false reading, hcereticum hominem devita**, which being spoken of avoiding, they will needs interpret of killing (for Erasmus cites a witness, who heard an ancient and grave divine cite that place so, and to that purpose) follow them not, do not
"Titus iii, 10.
imitate them; be content to judge more charitably of them. For those amongst them who are under an invincible ignorance (because their superiors keep the Scriptures from them) God may be pleased to save by that revelation of his Son Christ Jesus, which he hath afforded them in that church: howsoever, they who have had light offered to them, and wilfully resist it, must necessarily perish. Follow them not, imitate them not in that severity, necessarily to damn all who think not in all things as they do: nor follow them not in that facility, to make their divinity, and the tenets of their church, to wait upon temporal affairs, and emergent occasions. The Anabaptist will delude the magistrate in an examination, or in any practice, because he thinks no man ought to be a magistrate over him in things that have any relation to spiritual cognizance, and treason in alienating the subject from his allegiance must be of spiritual cognizance. Where others are too strong for them, they may dignify their religion (so their Jesuit Ribadiueyra says) and where they are too strong for others, they must profess it, though with arms (so their Jesuit Bellarmine argues it.) In this planetary, in this transitory, in this occasional religion, follow them not: we say in logic, Substantia non suscipit magis et minus, Substantial and fundamental points of religion (and obedience to superiors is amongst those) do not ebb and flow; they bind all men, and at all times, and in all cases, Induite Dominum Jesu, says the apostle, Put ye on the Lord Jesus", and keep him on, put him not off again. Christ is not only the stuff, but the garment ready made; he will not be translated and turned, and put into new fashions, nor laid up in a wardrobe, but put on all day, all the days of our life; though it rain, and rain blood; how foul soever any persecution make the day, we must keep on that garment, the true profession of Christ Jesus; follow not these men in their severity, to exclude men from salvation in things that are not fundamental, nor in their facility to disguise and prevaricate in things that are.
The second danger, and our last branch of this part is, Inquire not after their gods, &c. Ignorance excuses no man. What is curiosity? Qui scire <cult ut sciat", He that desires knowledge *7 Rom. xiii. 14. ** Augustine.
only that he may know, or be known by others to know; he who makes not the end of his knowledge the glory of God, ho offends in curiosity, says that father; but that is only in the end. But in the way to knowledge there is curiosity too; in seeking such things as man hath no faculty to compass, unrevealed mysteries; in seeking things, which if they may be compassed, yet it is done by indirect means, by invocation of spirits, by sorcery; in seeking things which may be found, and by good means, but appertain not to our profession; all these ways men offend in curiosity. It is so in us, in churchmen, si iambos servemus, et metrorum silvam congerimus**, if we be over-vehemently affected or transported with poetry, or other secular learning. And therefore St. Hierome is reported himself to have been whipped by an angel, who found him over-studious in some of Cicero's books. This is curiosity in us, and it is so in you, if when you have sufficient means of salvation preached to you in that religion wherein you were baptized, you inquire too much, too much trouble yourself with the religion of those, from whose superstitions you are already by God's goodness rescued; remember that he who desired to fill himself with the husks, was the prodigal. It was prodigality, and a dangerous expense of your constancy, to open yourself to temptation, by an unnecessary inquiring into impertinent controversies. We in our profession may embrace secular learning, so far as it may conduce to the better discharge of our duties, in making the easier entrance, and deeper impression of divine things in you: you may inform yourselves occasionally, when any scruple takes hold of you, of any point of their religion. But let your study bo rather to live according to that religion which you have, than to inquire into that from which God hath delivered you; for that is the looking back of Lofs wife, and the distemper and distaste of the children of Israel, who remembered too much the Egyptian diet. If you will inquire whether any of the fathers of the primitive church did at any time pray for any of the dead, you shall be told (and truly) that Augustine did, that Ambrose did; but you shall not so presently be told how they deprehended themselves in an infirmity, and collected and corrected themselves ever when they were so praying. If you in
quire whether any of them speak of purgatory, you shall easily find they do; but not so easily, in what sense; when they call the calamities of this life, or when they call the general conflagration of the world, purgatory. If you inquire after indulgences, you may find tho name frequent amongst them; but not so easily find when and how the relaxations of penances publicly enjoined, were called indulgences: nor how, nor when, indulgences came to be applied to souls departed. If thou inquire without a melius inquirendum, without a thorough inquisition (which is not easy for any man who makes it not his whole study and profession) thou mayest come to think holy men have prayed for the dead, why may not I? Holy men speak of purgatory and indulgences, why should I abhor the names or the things? And so thou mayest fall into the first snare, it hath been done, therefore it may be done; and into another after, it may be done, therefore it must be done: when thou art come to think that some men are saved that have done it, thou wilt think that no man can be saved except he do it: from making infirmities excusable necessary (which is the bondage the council of Trent hath laid upon the world) to make problematical things, dogmatical; and matter of disputation, matter of faith; to bring the uersity into Smithfield, and heaps of arguments into piles of fagots. If thou inquire further than thy capacity enables thee, further than thy calling provokes thee; how do those nations serve their gods? thou mayest come to say, as the text says, in tho end, Even so will I do also.
To end all, embrace fundamental, dogmatical, evident divinity; that is expressed in credendis, in the things which we are to believe in the creed. And it begins with Credo in Deum, Belief in God, and not in man, nor traditions of men. And it is expressed in petendis, in the things which we are to pray for in the Lord's Prayer; and that begins with Banctificetur nomen tuum, Hallowed be thy name, not the name of any. And it is expressed in agendis, in the things which we are to do in the commandments; whereof the first table begins with that, Thou shalt have no other gods but me. God is a monarch alone, not a consul with a colleague. And the second table begins with honour to parents, that is, to magistrates, to lawful authority. Be therefore always
far from disobeying lawful authority, resist it not, calumniate it not, suspect it not; for there is a libelling in the ear, and a libelling in the heart, though it come not to the tongue or hands, to words, nor actions. If it be possible, saith the apostle, as muck as in you lies, have peace with all men, with all kind of men. Obedience is the first commandment of the second table, and that never destroys the first table, of which the first commandment is, Keep thyself, that is, those that belong to thee and thy house, entire and upright in the worship of the true God, not only not to admit idols for gods, but not to admit idolatry in the worship of the true God.