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's sake, not for the person : his industry and his charity are 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 better be instructed: but if any other reflection be made upon his person, it is next to the sin and danger of Herod and the people, when the fine oration was made μετὰ πολλῆς φαντασίας, “ 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 envy 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 inferior 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 sermon. 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 so wise as to call for that he needed, and had it, and it did him more good than a whole armory 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 may 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 crook-nosed are like the sons of kings,-and if they be flat, they are gentle and easy, and if they be deformed, they are humble, and not to be despised, because they have upon them 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 be.. come the disciple of Jesus to love that man whom God sends, and the public order and the laws have employed, rather than to despise the weakness of him who delivers a mighty word.

ployed 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 in 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, being 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 visit


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 ad.

vantage to their soul by reading the following discourses, if they know how to bless God, and to bless all them that are God's instruments in doing them benefit, will (I hope) help to procure blessings to your person and family, and say a holy prayer, and name your Lordship in their litanies, and remember, that at your own charges you have digged a well, and placed cisterns in the highways, that they may drink and be refreshed, and their souls may bless you. My Lord, I hope this, even because I very much desire it, and because you exceedingly deserve it; and, above all, because God is good and gracious, and loves to reward such a charity, and such a religion, as is yours, by which you have employed me in the service of God, and in the ministries to your family. My Lord, I am, most heartily, and for very many dear obligations,

Your Lordship's most obliged,

Most humble,

And most affectionate servant,


« VorigeDoorgaan »