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spiritual light, which discerneth all things, even the deep things of God, according to the Scriptures, J Cor. ii. 10. But reason itself will discover a glimpse of God's proceedings in these our days; he hath tried almost every sort of men, and every sort of sects, according to their pedigree in our land.
1. The king and bishops were exalted next to Christ. 2. The parliament, who found fault with them, not pulling the beam of covetousness out of their own eyes, and their sects depending, were all exalted instead of the other.
3. The army, with their trades and sects depending upon the same account, became exalted. So the gentlemen and farmers have had their turn in offices and dearth of corn, and now they will try inferior trades, as journeymen and day-labourers, and their associates depending, even to the orphan and alms-man, which now give them the fulness of bread, and cloathing, and silver, and all according to their respective place and capacity they are in. So that now we look over all their proceedings, and judge by their fruits, and it will be a hard matter for alow capacity to judge which of all these parties hath been most just; but I being of the lowest sort, and unlearned, being amongst day-labourers and journeymen, have judged myself with them the worst of all these parties, in pride, gluttony, drunkenness, lying, dissembling, swearing, cursing, covetousness, disobedient to parents, breeding up children to disobedience, and other abominations. Were not the most High wonderful and merciful to us, one of these sins are enough to bring judgment and terrors upon the whole land, namely, the sin of drunkenness, being explained,will prove it. When the all-seeing eye looks into every alehouse of this nation,and seeth of which sort arc most there, and they will appear to be labouring poor men, which, in times of scarcity,pine and murmur for want of bread, cursing the rich behind his back, and before his face, cap and knee, and a whining countenance. And some are cholerick,and discontented, and will not speak at all, neither of them considering what they did in the time of plenty, when they drank in one day as much as a bushel of barley will make, which will keep two ordinary families a whole week in bread. This two men will do twice or three times a week; and, when Sunday Cometh, they will hear two sermons, and have their child christened by the virtue of his faith, and receive the sacrament at Easter, and then all is well. His conscience being seared up, he returns to his companions, and falls on, as before, to drunkenness and gluttony, spoiling, backbiting his neighbours, swearing, and cursing, and reviling against the higher powers for oppressing him; making a good construction of his fellow drunkard which is drunk three or four days in the week. They will say he is an honest fellow, and no body's foe but his own, although both he, and they that do so, are the greatest oppressors under the sun, and the greatest enemies to the poor fatherless orphans, widows, and strangers, which are below them; for by their drunkenness and gluttony corn is made dear; corn being dear, land is made dear; so that the farmer must give a great rent for his farm, and is constrained to hire many more acres. By this means cattle and corn have been at a high rate, the farmer being covetous-minded to uphold his wife and children in pomp and pride, feasting and gluttony at chris
tunings and banquctings, by which means surfeits and diseases drive them to the physicians, who wait for their prey, to get money to purchase lands and housrs, that they may let it out to them again. Thus, you see, that the body of England is become a monster: God hath created eyes in us that are the feet, to discover her nakedness as far as the middle; we have a little light of her arms, and her head, which keeps her pomp by sword and violence; but our sight being weak, and most work to do at home, and most convenient for every man to pull the beam out of his own eye, according to the Scriptures, Matth. vii. 3. that we may see clearer, and justly judge the tree by its fruits, we shall try the inferior and lower sort of feasting among women, called by the name of christenings, which are these: First, to exchange upon some body that is silly, or foolish, sluttish, or covetous, or an ill husband, or a drunkard: Others be condemned for often feasting, and wearing fine cloaths, swearing and lying, so that all sorts are laughed at, and judged, but ourselves, whilst we ourselves are doing the very same things. And thisis the fruit that grows upon the tree called christening, or baptizing the child into the father's faith; which is an admirable tree, if it be true, that the child can be in Christ by the father's faith, and no falling from grace. Then let us consider, whether Adam did believe in Christ; and, if it be found he did, then this baptism would have saved all the people from Adam to this day, and will do from this day forward; for the child, being baptized into the father's faith, groweth up, and begetteth children, and cannot fall away, baptizing children into their faith, and so forward. So that, if God had been as wise as we in our own conceit, he might have saved the lives of all his prophets, and apostles, and people too; but the most High is now once more beginning to break through the clouds of darkness in poor innocent forms of earth, raising them up from carpenting, fishing, and tent-making, to confound the High and Mighty, for the wisdom of man is foolishness, 1 Cor. chap. i. Now let us compare this inferiour feast, called christening, with the feast of Christ among the multitude, and see which was most exemplary to the people, and which produced most good to soul and body; and consider the example of Christ's birth in a manger, with the pomp and pride of children's births in our days. Again, consider what feast there was when Christ was baptized of John, and, I think, we shall find none at all. Then let us see what Christ had at his feast with the people; he being able to command stones to be bread, or water to be wine, was also able to command roast beef or pig; but he was to be exemplary to all people on earth, in all his actions and doctrine; made an innocent feast for the people with barley loaves and fishes, Mat. xiv. But some will object and say, he was able to work miracles, and we are not. To which I answer; if we, as he, were able to command all things, and yet would have nothing at our feast but barley loaves and fishes, what advantage would our power be to this feast? The feast being innocent, without hurting any creature on earth; but, on the contrary, he endeavoured to preserve, and to reconcile the people to God with sound words of instructions, uttered with love, peace, and meekness, with motions of healing all people that were brought to him: So that you may see a great difference betwixt his feast and the other, Again, he often went to the feast of the Jews, and to a wedding, to shew forth the power of his Father, in turning water into wine; but we nevei find that ever he was drunk, or eat a bit of flesh at any of their feasts, or weddings. The passover was his own feast,and did belong to the fulfilling of the law of the Father in his flesh, even fora disobedient people, which the Lord, by Moses, brought out of Egypt from their flesh pots, into the wilderness, to purify their bodies with angels food, called manna, which they ground in mills, or beat in mortars, to make in cakes: Bnt they, losing their grossness, grew lean and hungry, and murmured, and rebelled against the Lord, lusting after the flesh-pots of Egypt. Their desires being much and strong, the Lord granted them flesh, even as he granted them a king, and his wrath and plague came with it, as you may see in Numb. xi. 33. and Psal. lxxviii. 31. While the flesh was yet between their teeth, before it was chewed, even then the wrath of the Lord was kindled iigainst the people, and the Lord smote the people with an exceeding great plague. Thus, you see, what miserable creatures we are, being bred up with flesh and blood, onions and garlick, all under Mars, whom God hath made governor all over that humour that lusteth after flesh and blood, which is made strong in us, by feeding of it, as I myself may speak by experience. For, if God had commanded me to forbear flesh before I had knowledge of this my discourse, although he had sent an angel, or a man working miracles, I doubt I should have judged all to be of the devil, for the lust I had after the sweetness of flesh; even as the rich men, in these our days, will deny the Scripture, wherein Christ commanded the rich man in the gospel, to sell his goods, and give to the poor. But they will say, it reached no farther, than that one rich man should; for, say they, if we should believe this Scripture extended to us, we should make the poor richer than ourselves. So it seems by this, that they had rather deny this Scripture, and many more that speak to this purpose, even Christ and all, rather than to part from their riches; this would have been my condition in ignorance.
Therefore let not the rich men mistake me, and think that I would have them sell their goods, before God hath enlightened their understandings, and let them see the danger of keeping it, for then they would play the hypocrites, and do as bad to themselves, as if they had kept it, although good to others. This would be the condition of every one that shall forbear flesh, or beer, as in relation to God, because it is a sin against the body, or bodies and souls of men: Except any man think he sins against God in eating, to him it is sin, because he is weak and doubteth: So he ought to forbear, because of his scruple; as you shall see in Rom. xiv. 8.- 1 Cor. viii. 10. For if any man see thee, which hath knowledge, sit at table in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak, be imboldened to eat those things which are sacrificed to idols? You may observe from this, that he that walketh by another man's light, before he is fully convinced in himself, if he buildeth on sand, he will fall in the tempest, because he hath lost his tender light of his scruple, which Paul endeavoured to strengthen in every one of his brethren, let them be of what opinion they would in matter of conscience. It is very plain in Rom. xiv. and very few in these days believeth it; for we all cry out against many opinions, yet every one would have his own opinion justified. We may as well cry out and condemn every one his neighbour, because they differ in physiognomy, and so condemn the work of God without us, as well as within us; but this is rebellion against our Maker: for the Scripture commandeth us not to judge one another in matter of conscience towards God, but for the sin against our brethren and neighbours. We ought to know the tree by its fruits. So that any man or men in countries, towns, or cities, that shall defraud their brethren, and shall advance themselves in pride by oppression and tyranny, imitating Sodom and Gomorrah in all manner of abominations; if any see this imitated in England, it is high time for us, or them that do so, to become imitators of Christ and the prophets; first, in order of the prophets that came before Christ, who were ordered by their practice to shew Israel their transgressions, in drinking water by measure, and in making bread; for Ezekiel took of wheat, barley, and beans, and lentils, and millet, and fishes, and put them in a vessel, and made bread thereof; and, instead of butter and spice, he was to take cow's dung instead of men's dung, to prepare his bread with, and he was to have his portion by weight, Ezek iv. 9. Thus, the prophet was to shew them their error in matter of food ; and for cloathing, you may see in Isa. xx. who was a prophet of God, ordered not only to wear sackcloth, but to go naked, and without shoes three years. If these Scriptures are written for our learning, imitation, and practice, then we are to judge which. are the prophets of God, by this practice in Scripture; and if so, where shall we find prophets of God? But some will say, we are to follow Christ and the apostles, in the New Testament; and, if you will have it so, then we must exactly see what orders they had in their commission, that we know them from hirelings. We find in the commission, that they were to go and preach without money, or scrips, or shoes on their feet, but to be shod with sandals, Mark vi. 8. So we may doubt whether we shall find any apostles too, if we shall judge by Christ's commission; but, if you will not own these Scriptures, neither let us try them that mark out the false apostles and teachers, namely John x. where he saith, the hireling is not his shepherd; and Mat. vii. where he saith, ye shall know them by their fruits, inwardly they are ravening wolves. Many more Scriptures to this purpose there are; but, if you have a mind to your hireling still, you will believe no Scripture that is against him, neither is there any for him; so that all true practical part of Scriptures must be laid aside; only talk of it and dispute of it a little, and pick out of it a few places to preach out of, and to write, to get some money to uphold their pride and honour in this world, to please the old man in the flesh. Surely if John the Baptist should come forth again, and call himself leveller, and take such food as the wilderness yielded, and such cloathing, and preach up his former doctrine, ' He that hath two coats should give away one of them, and he that hath food should do likewise;' how scornfully would our proud gentlemen and gallants look on him, that hath gotten three or four coats with great gold and silver buttons, and half a score dainty dishes at his table, besides his gallant house, and his furniture therein; Vol, vi. c c
therefore this Scripture must be interpreted some other way, or else denied; and this is our condition, if the Scripture will not serve for our own ends to fulfil selfish desires, to uphold the old man in his fleshly honour, which belongeth to the magistrate only, whom God hath made a minister for thy wealth's sake, and doth not at all belong to innocency, nor Christ in the spirit; for there is small sign of the old man's dying or putting off, whilst he smites his fellows for the liberty of his fleshly desires; and this is our condition, that love the world, in whom the love of God cannot be, 1 John ii. 15, l6. 'Love not the world, neither the things of the world: If any man love the world, the love of the father is not in him; for all that is in the world, as the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the father, but is of the world:' These Scriptures have I endeavoured formerly to interpret some other way, by absurdities and consequences; how that, if we should not wear superfluous things, thousands of people would starve for want of trading, and so by consequence bring greater evil upon us: So I, being not willing to lose my pride and worldly pomp, I questioned the truth of the Scriptures, and even God himself, and all for want of some glimpse of spiritual light, which my natural eyes in reason could not discern. Therefore, the most High was pleased to convince me with natural forms, namely, birds of the air, which every day brought me intelligence according to my worldly occasions; for almost three years space 1 have observed them, for they would foretel me of any danger or cross, or any joy from friends; I mean any danger or dishonour to my person, or loss of cattle, or corn, or any other disadvantage to my advancement in the world; and this clearly convinced me, that there was a power above man. Then I considered the wise man's saying, Eccles. x. 20. ' Curse not the king, no not in thy thought, neither curse the rich in thy bed-chamber, for the fowls of heaven shall carry the voice, and that which hath wings shall declare the matter:' Also I considered that God made use of a bird to feed Elias the prophet; by this I saw, that he made use of natural causes to fulfil natural desires, so I came to know God in nature. Moreover, I considered the Scriptures where the Lord speaks against the sooth-sayers, and against astrologers, sorcerers, and wizards; all these I found to be the spirits of darkness, and will reach no further then the old man in the flesh, yet very necessary to be known, that we may avoid the evil thereof. Christ and the prophets knew all these things, or else they would never have spoken against them, but wein the old man have often spoken against things that we knew not, out of blind zeal, but not according to knowledge:
Therefore let the Scripture rule us, that we judge no man's heart, which belongethto God only in the spirit, but our judgment must be external of every tree according to their fruits; for by their fruits we ought to know them. So to reprove every man his neighbour to his face, leave off backbiting and slandering one another, and making up our laughter in deriding the actions of others, which we cannot do, unless we think ourselves wiser than they. This sad thing have I observed in many families, when they have happened in any discourse, it seldom or never ended without backbiting, or deriding one another behind