« AnteriorContinuar »
shall rain snaresla. 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?!? 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 universities; 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
18 Psalm xi. 6.
20 Psalm Lxiv. 65.
19 Psalm cxix. 21. 21 Amos iïi. 5
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 use: 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 Davidas. 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 medicè miserè. 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
22 Rom, viü. 38.
23 Psalm ix. 16.
are made. That state will be subject to the other proverb, which Chrysostom foresaw: Medice cura teipsum 25. 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. Covetousness is idolatry, saith the apostle, and Quot citia, 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
25 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, hæreticum hominem devita 26, 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
26 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 Ribadineyra 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 euriosity? Qui scire vult ut sciates, He that desires knowledge 27 Rom. xiii. 14.