Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

old wives do amongst us, with little Gospels of John, with the wood of the Cross, and the like." Thus that Father directly taxeth this Romish use; who, if he were now alive, and should hear their Church groaning under the number of ceremonies more than the Jewish, would, besides holy Austin's complaint, redouble that censure of our Saviour, Matthew xxiii. 4, Woe to you Scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites ; for ye bind heavy burthens, and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulder's !

I forbear to speak of the erroneous opinions of these Jewish masters, concerning that Pythagorean transanimation *, or passage of the soul from one body to another, a point which the Jews had learned from them, Matthew xvi. 14; concerning the not rising up of the wicked; astronomical destiny ; free-will; merit of works; perfection of obedience: in every of which, it were easy to lose myself and my speech.

I haste to their main unrighteousness; which was not so much the planting of these stocks, which God never set, as the graffing of all holiness and God's service upon them; a fashionable observation of the outward letter, with neglect of the true substance of the Law †; a vain-glorious ostentation of piety and perfection ; and more care to be thought than to be good; a greater desire to be great, than good; cruelty and oppression, coloured with devotion. My speech now, towards the closure, shall draw itself

up within these two lists; of their Hypocrisy, their Worldliness : Hypocrisy, in Fashionableness and Ostentation; Worldliness, in Covetousness, Ambition. Only stir up yourselves a while, and suffer not your Christian attention to fail in this last act.

Some of their Rabbins say well, That God requires two things concerning his Law, Custody and Work : Custody, in the Heart ; Work, in the Execution. These unsound and overly Pharisees did neither. It was enough, if they kept the Law in their hands : so they had a formal shew of godliness I, it was enough: if the outside of the platter were clean, they cared for no more. God had charged them to bind the Law to their hand, and before their eyes, Deut. vi. 8 : wherein, as Jerome and Theophylact well interpret it, he meant the meditation and practice of his Law: they, like unto the foolish patient, which, when the physician bids him take that prescript, eats up the paper; if they could get but a list of parchment upon their left arm next their heart, and another scroll to tie upon their forehead, and four corners of fringe, or, if these be denied, a red thread s in their hand, thought they might say with Saul, Blessed be thou of the Lord, I have done the command ment of the Lord. That Opis operatum of the Papists, for I still parallel them, is not more false Latin than false Divinity. It is not the out-side of thy obedience, that God cares for; if never so holy

* Vide Drusium de tribus sectis Jud.

+ Alia doctrina Pharisæorum, que est nisi legis secundam carnem observatio ? Hier. in Gal. i, 12 Τim. ii. 5; μόρφωσιν ευσεβείας. § Si hæc prohia beantur, filum rubrum ponent in manu. Præc, Mos. cum Expos.

never so glorious : it is enough, that men are cozened with these Aourishes: the heart and the reins are those, that God looks after. What cares a good market-man, how good the fleece be, when the liver is rotten? God doth not regard fashion, so much as stuff. Thou deceivest thyself, if thou think those shews, that bleared the eyes of the world, can deceive him. God shall smite thee, thou whited wall; God shall smile thee. Dost thou think he sees not, how smoothly thou hast daubed on thine whorish complexion ? He sees thee afar off; and hates thee, while thy parasites applaud thy beauty. I speak not of this carrion-flesh, which thou wantonly infectest with the false colours of thy pride, which God shall once wash off with rivers of brimstone: I speak of thy painted soul, and thy counterfeit obedience. Give me leave, yea let me take it, to complain, that we are fallen into a cold and hollow age; wherein the religion of many is but fashion, and their piety gilded superstition, Men care only to seem Christians. If they can get God's livery on their backs, and his name in their mouths, they outface all reproofs. How many are there, which, if they can keep their Church, give an alms, bow their knee, say their prayers, pay their tithes, and once a year receive the Sacrament, (it matters not how corrupt hearts, how filthy tongues, how false hands they bear,) can say in their hearts, with Esau, I have enough, my brother ! As if God cared for this thy vain formality : as if he hated thee not so much more than a Pagan, by how much thou wouldest seem more good. Be not deceived: if long devotions, sad looks, hard penances, bountiful alms would have carried it, without the solid substance of godliness, these Scribes and Pharisees had never been shut out of heaven. Consider this, therefore, dear brethren; none but your own eyes can look into your hearts : we see your faces; the world sees your lives ; yourselves see your souls : if your lives be not holy, your hearts sound; though your faces were like angels, you shall have your portion with devils. Tell not me thou hearest, prayest, talkest, believest : how livest thou? what doest thou? Shew me thy faith by thy works, saith James. It was an excellent answer, that good Moses gave to Lucius in the Churchstory * ; “ The faith, that is seen, is better than the faith, that is heard :” and that of Luther not inferior, That faith doth pinguescere operibus ; “grow fat and well-liking with good works." It is a lean, starved carcase of faith, thou pretendest, without these. If profession be all, the Scribes and Pharisees are before thee, Ransack thy heart; and find sound affection to God, firm resolutions to goodness, true hatred of sin : ransack thy life; and find the truth of works, the life of obedience : then, alone, thy righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees; and thou shalt enter into heaven.

Their Ostentation follows: wherein it is strange to consider, how those, that cared not to be good, should desire yet to seem good.

[blocks in formation]

nesses.

So did these Pharisees: they would not fast without a smeared face; not give an alms without a trumpet; not pray without wit

Scribes, Pharisees, Hypocrites; they did act a religious part; they did but play devotion. They were nothing beside the stage: all for sight; nothing for substance. Would God this vice of hypocrisy had either died with them, or had only hereditarily descended to their successors! Satan will not let us be thus happy. I see no man's heart, but I dare boldly say the world is full of hy, pocrisy. By their fruits you shall know them, saith our Saviour: by their fruits; not by the blossoms of good purposes, nor the leaves of good profession, but by the fruits of their actions. Not to speak, how our inint and cummin hath encroached upon judgment and justice; search yourselves, ye Citizens: now, you draw near to God with your lips, with your ears; where is your heart? Here your devout attention seems to cry, The Lord is God: how many are there of you, that have any God at home? how many that have a false God God at Church; Mammon in your shops? I speak not of all: God forbid! This famous City hath, in the darkest, in the wantonnest times, afforded (and so doth) many, that have done God honour, honesty to the Gospel; but how many are there of you, that, under smooth faces, have foul consciences! Fair words, false measures, forsworn valuations, adulterate wares, griping usuries have filled many of your coffers, and festered your souls : you know this; and yet, like Solomon's courtesan, you wipe your mouths, and it was not you. Your alms are written in Church, windows; your defraudings in the sand, All is good, save that which appears not, How many are there every where, that shame religion by professing it! whose beastly life makes God's truth suspected for as, howsoever the Samaritan, not the Jew, relieved the distressed traveller, yet the Jew's religion was true, not the Saa maritan's; so in others, truth of causes must not be judged by acts of persons : yet, as he said, “ It must needs be good that Nero persecutes ;” so, who is not ready to say, 6 It cannot be good that such a'miscreant professes ?” Woe to thee, Hypocrite! thou canst not touch, not name goodness, but thou defilest it. God will plague thee for acting so high a part. See what thou art, and hate thyself; or, if not that, yet see how God hates thee: he, that made the heart, says thou art no better than a handsome tomb; the house of death. Behold here a green turf, or smooth marble, or engraven brass, and a commending epitaph; all sightly : but what is within ? an unsavoury, rotten carcase, Though thou wert wrapped in gold, and perfumed with never so loud prayers, holy semblances, honest protestations; yet thou art but noisome carrion to God. Of all earthly things, God cannot abide thee: and if thou wouldest see how much lower yet his detestation reacheth, know, that when he would describe the torments of hell, he calls them, as their worst title, but the Portion of Hypocrites. Wherefore, Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purge your hearts, ye double-minded ; James iv. 8 situxou: for, unless your righteousness exceed the hypocritical righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

My speech must end in their Covetousness and Ambition : a pair of heinous vices. I join them together : for they are not only brethren, but twins; yet so as the elder here also serves the younger. It is Ambition, that blows the fire of Covetousness. Oppression gets wealth ; that wealth may procure honour. Why do men labour to be rich, but that they may be great ?

Their Covetousness was such, that their throat, an open sepulchre, swallowed up whole houses of widows. Whence their goods are called by our Saviour, Luke xi. 41, ŁYÓUTA, not td Oute; as if they were already in their bowels. And, which was worst of all, while their lips seemed to pray, they were but chewing of that morsel.

Their Ambition such, that they womanishly brawled and shouldered for the best seat; the highest pew; upotonhoiav nai aporoxebedpías. Matth. xxii. 6. A title, a wall, a chair, a cap, a knee, these were goodly cares for them that professed gravity, humility, mortification. Let me boldly say, Jerusalem never yielded so very Pharisees as Rome. These old disciples of Sammai and Hillel were not Pharisees in comparison of our Jesuits.

From Judgment, you see, I am descended to Practice; wherein it is po less easily made good, that these are more kindly Pharisees, than the ancient. A poor widow's cottage filled the paunch of an old Pharisee: how many fair patrimonies of devout young gentlemen Drurjed * by them, (pardon the word, it is their own; the thing I know and can witness) have gone down the throat of these Loyolists, let their own Quodlibet and Catechism report. What speak I of secular inheritances ? these eyes have seen no mean houses of devotion and charity swallowed up by them. As for their ambitious insinuations, not only all their own religious enviously cry down, but the whole world sees and rings of. What oar of State can stir, without their rowing? What kingdom either stands or falls, without their intermeddling? What noble family complains not of their prowling and stealth ? And all this with a face of sad piety and stern mortification. Yea, what other is their great Master, but the king of Pharisees? who, under a pretence of simple piety, challenges without shame to have devoured the whole Christian world, the natural inheritances of secular princes, by the foisted name of Peter's Patrimony; and now, in most infarnous and shameless ambition, calls great Emperors to his stirrup, yea to his footstool f. But what wander we so far from home?

A word, which the Seminaries report, in their Quodlibet, usual amongst them, to signify beguiled and wiped of their inheritance; from the example of M. Henry Drury, of Lawshull, in Suffolk, so defeated by the Jesuits. As at Winnoxberg, in Flanders, near Dunkirk; where a rich legacy, given by a charitable lady for the building of a hospital, was cunningly turned to the maintenance of Jesuits. + Sacr. cerem. I. i. de Cons. Benedict. et Coron. Pontif

. Postea Imperatur, si præsens est, stapham equi Papalis tenet, et dein uucil equum per frænum aliquantulum. And afterward : Dum Imperator hæc officiu prastat, debet Papa

Ve nobis miseris, saith St. Jerome, ad quos Pharisæorum vitia trasierunt ! “ Woe to us, wretched men, to whom the Pharisees' vices are derived !” The great Doctor of the Gentiles · long ago said, All seek their own, and not the things of God; and is the world mended with age? Would God we did not find it a sure rule; that, as it is in this little world, the older it grows, the more diseased, the more covetous ! We are all too much the true sons of our great grandmother; and have each of us an Eve's sweet tooth in our heads. We would be more than we are ; and every man would be either tis, or ở * : either the man, or somebody. if a number of your consciences were ripped, o 'ye that would be Christian Gentlemen, Lawyers, Citizens, what do we think would be found in your maws ? Here, the devoured patrimony of poor orphans; there, the commons of whole townships: here, the impropriate goods of the Church; there, piles of usury: here, bribes and unlawful fees; there, the raw and indigested gobbets of simony: yea, would God I might not say, but I must say it with fear, with sorrow, even of our sacred and divine profession, that which our Saviour of his twelve, Ye are clean, but not all! The multitude of our unregarded charges, and souls dying and starved for want of spiritual provision while they give us bodily, would condemn my silence for too partial. In all conditions of men, for particulars are subject to envy and exception, the daughters of the horseleech had never such a fruitful generation : they cry still, Give, Give; not Give alone, that is, the bread of Sufficiency; but Give, Give, that is, more than enough. But what is more than enough? What is but enough? What is not too little for the insatiable gulf of human desires ? Every man would engross the whole world to himself; and, with that ambitious conqueror, fears it will be too little. And how few Agurs † are there, that pray against too much! From hence it is, that ye, Courtiers, grate upon poor trades with hard monopolies. Hence ye, Merchants, load them with deep and unreasonable prices, and make them pay dear for days. Hence ye, Great Men, wring the poor sponges of the commonalty into your private purses; for the maintenance of pride and excess. Hence ye, Cormorant Corn-mongers, hatch up a dearth in the time of plenty, God sends grain, but many times the Devil sends garners, The earth hath been no niggard in yielding; but you have been lavish in transporting, and close in concealing, Never talk of our extreme frosts : we see God's hand, and kiss the rod; but if your hearts, your charity were not more frozen, than ever the earth was, mean housekeepers should not need to beg, nor the meanest to starve for want of bread. Hence, lastly, our loud oppressions

modestè recusare ; tandem cum aliquibus bonis verbis recipiendo permittit, aliquantulum progredi, &c. That is, “ While the emperor doth these services to the Pope, of holding his stirrup, and leading his horse by the bridle, the Pope ought modestly to refuse : but at last with some good words, he suffers him to go on a while ; and then at last stays himself, &c.

* Τις μέγας. Acts viii. 9. αυτός ο. + Give me not puverly nor riches. Prov. XXX. 8.

« PreviousContinue »