For further information see the following:
T.30 [1643.09.19] [William Walwyn], The Power of Love (19 September 1643).
[William Walwyn], The Power of Love.
London, Printed by R.C. for John Sweeting, at the signe of the Angell in Popes-head Alley, 1643.
19 September 1643.
TT1, p. 285; Thomason E. 1206. (2.)
(Placeholder: Text will be added later.)
For there is no respect of persons with God: and whosoever is possest with love, judgeth no longer as a man, but god like, as a true Christian. What’s here towards? (sayes one) sure one of the Family of love: very well! pray stand still and consider: what family are you of I pray? are you of Gods family? no doubt you are: why, God is love, and if you bee one of Gods children be not ashamed of your Father, nor his family: and bee assured that in his family, he regards neither fine clothes, nor gold rings, nor stately houses, nor abundance of wealth, nor dignities, and titles of honour, nor any mans birth or calling, indeed he regards nothing among his children but love. Consider our Saviour saith. He that hath this worlds goods, and seeth his brother lack, how dwelleth the love of God in him? Judge then by this rule who are of Gods family; Looke about and you will finde in these woefull dayes thousands of miserable, distressed, starved, imprisoned Christians: see how pale and wan they looke: how coldly, raggedly, & unwholsomely they are cloathed; live one weeke with them in their poore houses, lodge as they lodge, eate as they eate, and no oftner, and bee at the same passe to get that wretched food for a sickly wife, and hunger-starved children; (if you dare doe this for feare of death or diseases) then walke abroad, and observe the generall plenty of all necessaries, observe the gallant bravery of multitudes of men and women abounding in all things that can be imagined: observe likewise the innumerable numbers of those that have more then sufficeth. Neither will I limit you to observe the inconsiderate people of the world, but the whole body of religious people themselves, and in the very Churches and upon solemne dayes: view them well, and see whether they have not this worlds goods; their silkes, their beavers, their rings, and other divises will testifie they have; I, and the wants and distresses of the poore will testifie that the love of God they have not. What is here aimed at? (sayes another) would you have all things common? for love seeketh not her owne good, but the good of others. You say very true, it is the Apostles doctrine: and you may remember the multitude of beleevers had all things common: that was another of their opinions, which many good people are afraid of. But (sayes another) what would you have? would you have no distinction of men, nor no government? feare it not: nor flye the truth because it suites not with your corrupt opinions or courses; on Gods name distinguish of men and women too, as you see the love of God abound in them towards their brethren, but no otherwise; And for that great mountaine (in your understanding) government, ’tis but a molehill if you would handle it familiarly, and bee bold with it: It is common agreement to bee so governed: and by common agreement men chuse for governours, such as their vertue and wisedome make fit to governe: what a huge thing this matter of trust is made of? and what cause is there that men that are chosen should keepe at such distance, or those that have chosen them bee so sheepish in their presence? Come, you are mightily afraid of opinions, is there no other that you feare? not the Anabaptists, Brownists, or Antinomians? Why doe you start man? have a little patience, would you truly understand what kinde of people these are, and what opinions they hold? If you would; bee advised by some learned man, and with him consult what hath learnedly beene written of the most weake and vitious amongst any of them that could bee found, and make your conclusion (according to custome) that they are all such: but if you would free your selves from common mistakes concerning those your brethren, then acquaint your selves with them, observe their wayes, and enquire into their doctrines your selfe, and so make your conclusion, or judge not of them; visit them, heare them out, stand cleare from all prejudging: and then see what dangerous people they are that are generally so called: particulars being absurd rules of judging; for so the Turke is misled in his judgment of Christianity: and no marvaile since hee judgeth thereof by the doctrine and life of the most superstitious, Idolatrous, and vitious amongst them. Well, what next are you afraid of? for some men take delight to be under the spirit of bondage, and doe not think themselves in good estate except they be in feare: but come, feare nothing, you are advised by the Apostle to try all things, and to hold fast that which is good: to prove the Spirits whether they bee of God or not: ’tis your selfe must doe it, you are not to trust to the authority of any man, or to any mans relation: you will finde upon tryall that scarcely any opinion hath beene reported truly to you: and though in every one of them you may finde some things that you cannot agree unto, you will yet be a gainer, by discovering many excellent things that you as yet may be unsatisfied in, and by due consideration of them all perfect your owne judgement. Reade the ensuing discourse impartially, and you will finde the minde of him that hateth no man for his opinion; nor would have any man troubled for any opinion, except such, as make the bloud of Christ ineffectuall, or such as would destroy all that will not submit to their opinions; hee seemes to bee of the Apostles minde, that considered all other things in love: (and that in matters of moment too, even where some observed a day unto the Lord, & others not observed) He bids you walke in love, as Christ hath loved you, and gave himselfe for you, an offering and a Sacrifice; you that love your brother so poorely, as that you cannot allow him the peaceable enjoyment of his mind and judgment would hardly lay downe your life for him; let brotherly love continue, and let every one freely speake his minde without molestation: and so there may be hope that truth may come to light, that otherwise may be obscured for particular ends: plaine truth will prove all, sufficient for vanquishing of the most artificiall, sophisticall errour that ever was in the world; give her but due and patient audience, and her perswasions are ten thousand times more powerfull to worke upon the most dull refractory minde, then all the adulterate allurements and deceivings of art. What is here publisht is out of fervent love to the Communion of Christians: that they might tast and see how good the Lord is. In whose presence there is fulnesse of joy, and at whose right hand there are pleasures for evermore. Wherefore rejoyce in the Lord alwayes, and againe I say rejoyce: and let your song bee alwayes. Glory be to God on high, in earth peace, good will towards men. Let truth have her free and perfect working, and the issue will bee increase of beleevers: let faith have her perfect working, and the issue will bee increase of love: and let love have her perfect working, and the whole world will be so refined, that God will be all in all; for hee that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, in whom, ever fare you well, and bee cheerefull.
Tit. 2. ii, 12. The grace (or love) of God that bringeth salvation unto all men hath appeared, teaching us to deny ungodlinesse and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, & godly in this present world.
It is evident (though it be little regarded or considered, the more is the pity) that in naturall things all things whatsoever that are necessary for the use of mankinde, the use of them is to be understood easily with out study or difficulty: every Capacity is capable thereof; and not only so, but they are all likewise ready at hand, or easily to be had: a blessing that God hath afforded to every man, insomuch, that there is no part of the habitable world, but yeeldes sufficient of usefull things for a comfortable and pleasant sustentation of the inhabitants; as experience testifieth in all places; and Saint Paul witnessed that God left himselfe not without witnesse, in that he did good, gave them raine from heaven, and fruitfull seasons, feeding their hearts with foode and gladnesse: by all which it plainely appeares that God ever intendeth unto man a pleasant and comfortable life: you know it is said, that God made man righteous, but he sought out many inventions: that is, he made him naturally a rationall creature, judging rightly of all things, and desiring only what was necessary, and so being exempt from all labour, and care of obtaining things superfluous, he passed his dayes with aboundance of delight and contentment: until he sought out unto himselfe many inventions: inventions of superfluous subtilities and artificiall things, which have beene multiplied with the ages of the world, every age still producing new: so now in these latter times we see nothing but mens inventions in esteeme, and the newer the more precious; if I should instance in particulars, I should or might be endlesse, as in diet, your selves know to your costs, (for it costs you not only your monyes, but your healths, and length of dayes) that this fruitfull nation sufficeth not to furnish scarce the meanest meale you make, but something must be had to please the luxurious palate from forraine and farre countryes: and ever the farther the better, and the dearer the more acceptable; you know likewise the excessive provision that is made for entertainments and set meetings, where all grosse meates (you know my meaning) must be banished, and nothing admitted but what is rare and fine, and full of invention, in the dresses, sauces, and manner of service: where all the senses must be pleased to the heighth of all possible conceipt. If I should reckon up your new inventions for buildings, and furniture for your houses, and the common costlinesse of your apparell, and should set before you the manifold vexations, perplexities, distractions, cares, and inconveniences that accrew unto you by these your vaine and ridiculous follies, I might be endlesse therein also, and lose my labour; for there is no hope that I should prevaile for a reformation of these things, when your daily experience scourges you continually therunto, in one kind or other, and all in vaine; yet I shall take leave to tell you that in these things, you walke not as becommeth the gospell of Christ, but are carnall and walke as men, as vaine, fantasticall, inconsiderate men; such as very heathen and meere naturall men would be ashamed of: their experience (that a life according to nature, to be content with little, with what was ever ready, and easy to be had, was the most pleasant life and exempt from all vexations) was instruction sufficient unto many of them, to frame themselves thereunto, and to abandon all kindes of superfluities, without retaining the least; & thereby obtained a freedome to apply themselves to the consideration and practise of wisedome and vertue.
It is a wonderfull thing to my understanding, that men should call themselves Christians, and professe to be religious, and to be diligent readers of Scripture, and hearers of Sermons, and yet content themselves to bee indeed in many things carnall, and to walke as did the most indiscreete and inconsiderate Gentiles. Doth the Scripture teach no more then nature teacheth? though it doe infinitely, yet your practise compared with wise considerate naturall men declares it doth not; how extreamely then (thinke you) doe you cause the name of God to be blasphemed? Doe you thinke it is sufficient that you are not drunkards, nor adulterers, nor usurers, nor contentious persons, nor covetous? beloved, if you will truely deserve the name of Christians, it is not sufficient: but you are to abandon all superfluities, all poring after vaine superfluous things, and thereby to exempt your selves from all unnecessary cares that choake the Word, and bee at liberty to consider, and to apply your selves freely to the continuall contemplation of the infinite love of God, evidently and plainely set forth unto you in his blessed word: as in the words that I have read un[to] you: for as it is in naturall things, so holds it in spirituall: God hath dealt abundantly well with us; there being nothing that is necessary either for the enlightning of our understandings, or the peace of our mindes, but what hee hath plainely declared and manifestly set forth in his Word: so plainely, that the meanest capacity is fully capable of a right understanding thereof, and need not to doubt but that he is so. I will not say that God is not more good unto us, then we are hurtfull to our selves, (for his goodnesse is more availeable to our welfare, then our evill can be to our misery) but wee are as evill to our selves in all things as we can be possible: and that not onely in naturall things, but likewise in spirituall and divine things too, for therein also we have our inventions; the plaine and evident places of Scripture and manifestly declaring our peace and reconciliation with God, is become nauseous to us: they make salvation too easie to be understood, and tender it upon too easie tearmes, and too generall: this Manna that comes to us without our labour, industry, study, and watching, is two fulsome, something that hath bones in it must bee found out, and will become more acceptable: every child or babe in Christs Schoole can understand these: We are full growne men in Christ, wee have spent our time in long and painefull studies, and have full knowledge in all Arts and sciences: there is no place of Scripture too hard for us: shew us the mysteries we cannot reveale: the Parables that wee cannot clearely open: the Prophesies that wee cannot interpret: a word or Syllable that wee cannot fitly apply, or the most palpable seeming contradiction that we cannot reconcile; nay it is to be doubted (wee have scene the vaine humour of man puft so high, and the world so filld and pestered with works and labours of this vaine nature) lest there are some such daring undertakers, that like as Alexander the great is said to have wept that there were no more worlds to conquer, so these Champions are grieved that there are no harder places for their braines to worke upon: or (which is more to bee lamented) one would feare they are much troubled that the most necessary truths are so easie to be understood: for that when they treate upon some very plaine place of Scripture, even so plaine as this which I have read unto you, yet in handling thereof they make it difficult, and darken the cleare meaning thereof with their forced and artificiall glosses: but as I wish there were no such dealers in divine things, so have I in my selfe resolved to avoid these extreame evills: for as in naturall things I am fully assured there is nothing of necessary use but what is easily understood and even ready at hand, so also doth my experience tell me, that we have no bettering of our understandings, or quieting of our mindes (the end for which God hath vouchsafed his word) from any places of Scripture that hath any obscurity in them, but from such as are clearely exempt from all difficulty. You know God frequently complaines by his Prophets, saying, My people will not consider, they will not understand: and when I consider that your owne experience schooles you not sufficiently against your dotage upon the vaine superfluities of this world, wherein you know your selves to be carnall, and to walke as men, heaping unto your selves vexation upon vexation; I doe wonder that it doth not stagger the Ministers of God in their publishing of things divine to a people so qualified, so extreamely inconsiderate: indeed it would make one to suspect that the doctrine that you continually heare, that it were not powerfull nor from heaven, but weake and fitted to your corrupt humours, and customes, since after so long time, it hath not subdued your worldly mindednesse. Sure I am, and I must have leave to tell you, that there is utterly a fault amongst you, nay those expressions are too soft, you have almost nothing but faults amongst you, and you will not consider, which you must doe, and seriously too, or you will never reduce your selves into such a condition, as will be really sutable to the blessed name of Christians. Beloved I have seriously considered it, and it is not your case alone, but it is the universall disease. I know not any that is not infected therewith, nor to whom it may not be said, Physitian heale they selfe; the milke we have suckt, and the common ayre hath beene totally corrupted: our first instructions, and all after discourses have beene indulgent flatterers to our darling superfluities: and therefore he that undertakes the cure, must bee sure to bee provided of a fit and powerfull medicine, and to be diligent and faithfull in his undertaking; it is a taske that I have proposed unto my selfe, and though I should meete with the greatest discouragements, (as, the world is like enough to furnish his utmost forces to preserve his Kingdome) yet considering whose service I have undertaken, and whose works it is, I shall not despaire of successe. I am not ignorant that this worke hath often-times beene attempted, and persisted in: but with little fruit; through the universall mistake, that men are sooner perswaded from their vanities, through pressures of the law, and affrighting terrors of wrath and hell, then by the cordes of love: which yet I abundantly preferre, as you may perceive by this text which I have chosen: for when all is done. It is the love of God bringing salvation, that teacheth us to deny all ungodlinesse and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. I must entreate your most earnest attention, as being full of hope that I shall doe you much more good then you conceive: for I must tell you, I cannot cure you of your earthly mindednesse, of your dotage upon superfluities, till I have first showne you your peace and reconciliation with God, and have wrought in you (through the power of Gods word) peace of conscience and joy in the holy Ghost. You are then seriously to consider what is said, and understanding will succeed. The love of God I know is often spoken of: a theame that hath begotten abundance of bookes and discourses: yet none in no comparison like the Scriptures: most (if not all) discourses, that ever I have read or heard, doe in some sense or other, or in some measure injure and wrong those blessed discourses therof.
The love and favour of God (saith David) is better then life it selfe; What man in the whole world doth not gladly heare the joyfull tydings of the love of God? But it is good that every man rightly understand, and mistake not himselfe in this so blessed and delightfull Subject. I shall lay downe therfore some infallible principles which concerne the same. And I shall tell you nothing but what your selves know: and that is, that God doth most vehemently hate all manner of sinnes, and that it is impossible for him to doe otherwise, as being directly opposite to his most righteous nature: and to that righteous nature wherein at first man was created, for in the likenesse of God created he him; and whilst you consider this, I shall advise you not to flatter your selves as the Pharisee did, saying. Lord I thanke thee I am not as other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, drunkards, covetous, proude, or licentious; can you say you have noe sinne? if you should, the word of God would contradict you, which testifieth that he that saith he hath no sinne is a liar, and the truth is not in him; and if sinne be in every one, necessarily it followes where sinne is, there is Gods hatred; nor doeth it any whit excuse or exempt those from the hatred of God, that can say their sinnes are fewe in number, and of very meane condition compared to others: whosoever you are that are thus indulgent to yourselves, you doe but deceive your selves, for Gods hatred, his wrath and anger, is so exact against all and every sinne, and so odious it is in his sight, that he denounceth, saying, Cursed is every one that continueth not to doe all that is written in the booke of the law: So as every mouth must be stopped, and all the world stand guilty before God; and though the sense and deepe apprehension of this woefull condition, doe worke in you the deepest of sorrow, though you should spend your dayes in weeping, and your nights in woefull lamentation, though you should repent your selves in dust and ashes, and cover your selves with sackcloathes: though you should fast your selves into palenesse, and hang downe your heads alwayes: though you should give all your goods to the poore; nay, though you should offer up the fruit of your bodies, for the sinne of your soules; all this and more could be no satisfaction for the least sinne, nor bring any peace to your mindes: but you must of force cry out at last, as Saint Paul did, (stating this sad condition of all mankind under the law) Oh wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from this body of death! Justly is it called a body of death; for man is of a fraile and weake condition at the best: a considerate man hath death alwayes before him: What joy or comfort then can hee take all his life long; being in the hatred of God, a vessell of wrath, and liable to eternall death in hell fire for ever? What can he looke upon that can give him content? Present a man that walkes in the sense of his sinfull condition, with all the pleasures the world afford, and his sad heart turnes all into death; his conscience continually afflicts him; terrours, and feares, and eternall torments are ever in his thoughts: and such a wounded Spirit, who can beare? My beloved, I would not be mistaken in what I have said of this woefull condition, as though I presented it to your thoughts, as a meanes to terrific you from any your sinfull courses: I know full well it is not the way, it is not Gods way: nor doe I wish this sad condition to be any of yours: though happily it may be thus with many of you: many of you may through sense of sinne, and of wrath due for sinne, waike in a very disconsolate condition: feares and terrours may abound in you: to whom (I doubt not) though great heavinesse may indure for a night, yet greater joy shall come in the morning: which as much as in mee lyes, I shall indeavour to produce in every one of you.
I have presented this woefull condition of all mankind under the law, thus sadly and truly, because I finde generally men doe not seriously consider the bottomlesse depth of the misery from the which they are redeemed: I am not a preacher of the law, but of the gospell; nor are you under the law, but under grace: the law was given by Moses, whose minister I am not: but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, whose minister I am: whose exceeding love, hath appeared: and because I would have you fully to see and consider his love, therefore did I shew the woefull condition, from which only by his love you are delivered.
Another principle I shall pray you to consider, is that God loves nothing but what is pure and holy, without spot or blemish: so as it is a vaine and delusive doctrin, to say that God passes by our daily infirmities, accepting our wills for our performances: our desire to be obedient to his Commandements, for obedience: for where there is the least defect, God hates for that very defect, and loves not but where there is perfect holinesse and righteousnesse: which makes this truth appeare, that by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sinne. It is a sad favour that the law ever did unto mankinde, to make his sinne appeare out of measure sinfull, stopping every mans mouth, admitting no plea or excuse on mans behalfe; And yet it is so naturall to thinke that he is still bound to doe something for obtaining the love and favour of God, that you will finde it is the hardest thing in the world to free your selves from it, though it be the grossest Antichristian errour that ever was, for if righteousnesse come by the law, then Christ died in vaine; It is such an errour that untill it be removed out of your mindes, it will be but labour lost to endeavour to worke any truth upon your mindes; and I have much cause, to feare your mindes are tainted therewith, because our publicke catechismes, bookes, and Sermons are for the most part corrupted therewith, so as we sucke this errour in even with our very milke, and it becomes one substance with many of us even to our old age; It was so in the Apostles times, as may be seene in Acts the 15, from the 5. verse to the end of the chapter, where you shall find that some that beleeved affirmed that it was necessary to circumcise, and to keepe the law: but you will finde by the story it was their errour; Also in the second to the Corinthians, the third to the end, where you shall find the law stiled the ministration of death, written in tables of stone (which was the 10 Commandements) and verse the 11. to be done away, and a more glorious ministration to take place and remaine: and yet the breeding of the Jewes being under the law, (though they did beleeve the comming of Christ) yet still (even to that day the Apostle wrote) their minds were blinded, and the vaile remained at the reading of the old Testament, which vayle is done away in Christ. These things (beloved) you are to consider seriously, for that untill you doe undoubtedly see your selves not to be under the law, no not in the least respect, you cannot see your selves to be under grace: that is, in the favour and love of God, untill when you cannot with sound judgment affirme, that which my text affirmeth, that is, that the love of God hath appeared: for he that in any measure conceiveth himselfe to be under the law, doth not clearely discerne the love of god: for that vayle is before his eyes; you all give credit to the word of God: let S. Paul then be your guide to leade you out of this sad Ægyptian bondage who knew all things that concerned the law, yet cryes out, I account all things as losse and dung, that I may be found in Christ, not having my owne (or mans) righteousnesse, which is of the law, but the righteousnesse which is of God in him: make it your own cases by sound consideration, for yee are all justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ: your feares, nor sinnes, nor doublings, cannot alter that condition which Christ hath purchased for you, for though the sting of death be sinne, & the strength of sin be the law, yet thankes be unto God, for he hath given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ: so as you may all boldly say, Oh death where is thy sting, O grave where is thy victory? And that none of you may doubt of his exceeding love, and your perfect reconciliation with God, I wil reade unto you certaine passages (in the 5 chapter, to the Romans,) which if well weighed, will leave you without all scruple, (verse, 6) When we were yet without strength in due time Christ died for the ungodly: you see there that ungodlinesse did not hinder, but that Christ died for thee that art ungodly: dost thou stand amazed, and canst not throwly beleeve? the Apostle grants that to mans judgment it is incredible; for amongst men, scarcely for a righteous man will one dye, yet peradventure for a good man one would even dare to dye: but to confirme thy timorous heart (verse 8.) God commendeth his love towards us, in that whilst we were yet sinners Christ died for us, (v. 9.) much more being then justified by his bloud we shall be saved from wrath through him, (v. 10.) for if when we were enemies, we were reconciled by the death of his Sonne, much more being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life: so as now thou hast cause to joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom thou hast received the atonement: and to take from thee all staggering (in the 18. v.) he confirmes thee, saying. As by the offence of one, judgement came upon all men to condemnation: even so by the righteousnesse of one, the free gift came upon all men to justification of life: and (in the 20. vers.) because he knew thy pronenesse to make questions still about the Law, he tels thee the Law entred that sinne might abound, but withall assures thee, that where sinne abounded, grace (or love) did much more abound: that as sinne had reigned unto death, even so grace (or love) might reign through righteousnesse unto eternall life through Christ our Lord.
(Beloved) God by the power of his Word hath begotten so ful assurance of these things in me, as that thereby he hath made me an able Minister of the New Testament: not of the Letter, (or the Law) but of the Spirit: for the Letter killeth, but the Spirit (that is the Gospel) giveth life. Nor doe I see any cause why any of you here present should so much as doubt your salvation; I am a Minister of reconciliation, and am thereby bound to tell you (for woe is unto me if I preach not the Gospel, as in the 2 Cor. 5. 19.) that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himselfe, not imputing their trespasses unto them: and hath committed unto us the Word of reconciliation; Now then we are Ambassadours for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us, we pray you to be reconciled unto God; for he hath made him to be sinne for us, that knew no sinne, that we might be made the righteousnesse of God in him; so as (however we may vainely conceive to our owne prejudice) God considers us not as we see our selves full of sinne, full of iniquity, but as we should consider our selves, agreeable to all these passages of his blessed Word, fully and perfectly washed from all our sinnes by the bloud of his Son (which every one of us doe beleeve, though we doe not consider) and then with unspeakable joy we shall see that we are reconciled to God by the death of his Sonne: that we are justified freely by his grace: that for our lost righteousnesse of the Law, we are made the righteousnesse of God in him: having peace of conscience and joy in the holy Ghost, by whose word these blessed truths are declared unto us. Are these things so indeed, doth God accept me a poore miserable sinner, as righteous in his sight, and freed from sinne, from all sinne? Heare still the Word of God, he hath borne our sinnes in his body on the tree, and it is the bloud of Christ that cleanseth thee from all sinne: he by his one oblation once offered, hath made a full, perfect, and sufficient satisfaction, and sacrifice for the sinnes of the whole world; and if we sinne, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sinnes; and not for ours onely, but for the sinnes of the whole world. This worke of your redemption and reconciliation with God was perfected when Christ died: and nothing shall be able to separate you from his love then purchased: neither infidelity, nor impenitencie, nor unthankfulnesse, nor sinne, nor any thing whatsoever can make void his purchase: no, though with the Jewes you should deny the Lord that bought you: so powerful was his bloudshedding, and of so full value for discharging of all our debts, past, present, and to come; so infinite is his goodnesse, so free is his love, and so abundantly happy is our condition, though many of us have beene too too ignorant thereof: and for want of this knowledge many of us have walked very uncomfortably, spending our time in fasting, weeping, and mourning; in praying, reading, and hearing, and in performance of other duties, as you call them, and all to get Christ: our feare distracts our judgements, that wee consider not what the Scripture sets forth unto us: if we did, wee should see aparently that it sets forth salvation wrought and perfected for ever: to whom doth it manifest the same? to sinners, to the ungodly, to all the world: a worke perfected, depending on no condition, no performance at all. What would people have to give peace to their mindes? you doe wrong your selves through nice distinctions: the word of God is given to declare these truths, and that he is our peace: the word of God you doe beleeve, and so cannot but be comforted, the onely end for which it is preserved unto you: that you might reade, and know, and understand your blessed condition: for faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God: and you are to looke for no other testimony: nor are you to doubt your selves: for though your present comfort depends upon your beleeving this word, yet the worke of Christ depends not on your beleeving: and though you should not beleeve, yet hee is faithfull and cannot deny himseife to be your redeemer, your peace-maker, your Saviour. Men are not pleased except salvation be proved to be very difficult to bee obtained, it must still depend either on our beleeving, or doing, or repenting, or selfe-deniall, or Sabbathkeeping, or something or other, or else man is not pleased: too easie? good God! that free love should be suspected; that because it is easie to be had, we should put it farre from us; why, God knew full well thou wert dead, he considered that thou wert but dust; suppose he had required any thing of thee, without which thou shouldst have no part in Christ, what a sad case hadst thou beene in? goe thy wayes, and with chearefulnesse possesse his infinite love, and declare unto thy brethren what the Lord hath done for al our souls; tel them that the love of God bringing salvation hath appeared, teaching us to deny all ungodlinesse, and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world. And I shall desire to know of all that heare me this day, whereof some may happily be addicted to the corruptions of this world: for our times though we call them times of light, yet do abound with gluttony, drunkennesse, and whoredome, usury, pride, oppression, and all kinde of wickednesse, such as is not to be named amongst Christians, (what shall I say to these things? it will be in vaine for me to reprove you for them: for men never reforme their vices, till first their judgements be well informed, and then they kindly reforme themselves) I shall onely demand whether the love of God doth more appeare unto you now, then it hath done formerly? surely it is impossible but you must be sensible of his love, it is so full and absolute, so free and unexpecting love. How is it possible you should heare and not consider? had it not beene for this unexpressible and unexampled love, you had beene eternally wretched and miserable, companions of Devils, and damned spirits in Hell for ever, where the Worme never dieth, and the fire never goeth out; me thinkes you should embrace this love with open armes, and meditate thereupon day and night: it deserveth to be entertained with the greatest respect, and to be esteemed above ten thousand lives: for (beloved) though it comes freely to you, and costs you nothing, no not so much as a sigh or teare, yet if you read over the story of our Saviours passion, and sufferings, you will finde it was purchased at an excessive price, excessive paines, and excessive torments: nay it is even past wonder that he that thought it no robbery to be equall to God, should be in the forme of a servant, and become obedient to death, even the most bitter death of the Crosse for our sinnes: that he should be made sinne for us that knew no sinne, that we might be made the righteousnesse of God in him; me thinkes these and the like considerations should be powerfull in your minds, that your spirits should even burne within you, untill you found out some way to expresse your thankfulnesse for so great, so infinite love. I cannot suspect the most vitious man in the world, but that hearing these things his heart will make strict enquiry, what he shall render unto the Lord for all his benefits? and his heart once moving in thoughts of thankfulnesse will instantly be inflamed with love, which in an instant refines the whole man. God is love, and love makes man God-like; and henceforth let me pray you to marke the workings of love in your owne soules, and you shall finde that when your long accustomed corruptions (by which you have wounded your owne consciences, and brought dishonour to God, and reproach to the holy name of Christians) doe tempt to the like abominable actions, your love to God that so freely hath loved you, will be so prevalent with you, that you will resolve rather to lose your lives then to show your selves so basely ungratefull: the vanities you have delighted in will become odious unto you: all your labour will be that your conversation be as becommeth the Gospel of Christ, nay you will shunne the very appearance of evill: and if your brother offend you in any kinde whatsoever, you will finde no difficulty to forgive; if you doe, doe but thinke of the love wherewith Christ hath loved you, and nothing can be imagined so abominably injurious but you will gladly forgive. And if you have this worlds goods, and that brother lacke, you will rejoyce that you have an occasion and means to make known unto the world how powerfully the love of God dwelleth in you: you will be able to doe all things through love that strengthens you. Love will be as a new light in your understandings by which you will judge quite otherwise of all things, then formerly you have don; the vanities and superfluities which in the beginning of my discourse I reckoned up unto you, will seeme odious unto you, and you will no longer fashion your selves like unto this world, but will walk as becommeth the Gospel of Christ: you will no longer minde high things, but make your selves equall to men of low degree: you will no longer value men and women according to their wealth, or outward shewes, but according to their vertue, & as the love of God appeareth in them: nay if you be studious in this worke of love, nothing will be more deare unto you then the glory of God (who hath so infinitely loved you) so as you will be most zealously opposite to whatsoever is opposite unto God, you will finde it nothing to hazzard your lives for God, in defence of his truth from errour; in defence of your brother or neighbour from oppression or tyranny: love makes you no longer your owne but Gods servants, and prompts you to doe his will in the punishment of all kinde of exorbitances, whether it be breach of oathes, breach of trust, or any kinde of injustice in whomsoever, and to be no respecter of persons; nor will any ones greatnesse over-sway or daunt your resolutions, but you will be bold as Lions, not fearing the faces of men: you will when neede requires, that is, when tyrants and oppressors endeavour by might and force to pervert all Lawes, and compacts amongst men, and to pervert the truth of God into a lie, interpreting his sacred word as patron of their unjust power, as if any unjust power were of God, and were not to be resisted: I say, such insolencies as these will inflame your zeale, and set you all on fire manfully to fight the Lords battell, and to bring into subjection those abominable imaginations and ungodly courses of men: your judgements will be so well informed, as you will know these things are by God referred unto you, and you will not resigne them up to him, but willingly sacrifice your lives and fortunes, and all that is neare and deare unto you, rather then suffer his name to be so blasphemed, or your innocent brethren, or your wives and children to become a prey to wicked and bloud-thirsty men. The politicians of this world would have religious men to be fooles, not to resist, no by no meanes, lest you receive damnation: urging Gods holy Word, whilst they proceed in their damnable courses; but (beloved) they will finde that true Christians are of all men the most valiant defenders of the just liberties of their Countrey, and the most zealous preservers of true Religion: vindicating the truths of God with their lives, against all ungodlinesse and unrighteousnesse of men: making thereby the whole world to know that true Christianity hates and abhorres tyranny, oppression, perjury, cruelty, deceipt, and all kinde of filthinesse; and true Christians to be the most impartiall, and most severe punishers thereof, and of all kinde of wickednesse, of any men whatsoever.
Great is the power of love, for love makes men to bee of one mind: and what can bee too strong for men united in love? and therefore I shall warne you to marke and consider those that make divisions amongst you. I pray mistake me not, I doubt you are too apt in this case to make a wrong application: I doe not meane that you should marke those, that are different from you in judgement, with any ridiculous or reproachfull names: but my advice is that you marke those that make divisions amongst you, and those are they that have invented a name of reproach for every particular difference in judgement: and in their publike Sermons and private discourses, endeavour might and maine to keep at the widest distance, and by odious tales and false imputations make you irreconciliable: nay make you even ready to cut one anothers throates; or by this division prepare you for your common adversaries to cut both yours and theirs too; difference in judgement there will be, untill love have a more powerfull working in our hearts: wee should therefore like wise men at least beare with one anothers infirmities: love will cover all that can bee called infirmity; but resolved malice love it selfe will punish. Such opinions as are not destructive to humane society, nor blaspheme the worke of our Redemption, may be peaceably endured, and considered in love: and in case of conspiracy against our common liberty, what a madnesse is it for men to stand in strife about petty opinions? for who are all those that are so much railed at by our common Preachers? who are they say they? why, they are the most dangerous Anabaptists, Brownists, and Separatists: that are enemies to all order and decency, that cry down all learning and all government in the Church, or Common-wealth. (Beloved) to my knowledg these things are not true of any of them: it is true, they cannot do al things so orderly and decently as they would, because they are hunted into corners, and from one corner to another, and are not free to exercise their consciences, as had they liberty they might, and would; And as for learning, as learning goes now adaies, what can any judicious man make of it, but as an Art to deceive and abuse the understandings of men, and to mislead them to their ruine? if it be not so, whence comes it that the Universities, and University men throughout the Kingdome in great numbers are opposers of the welfare of the Common-wealth, and are pleaders for absurdities in government, arguers for tyranny, and corrupt the judgements of their neighbours? no man can be so simple as to imagine that they conceive it not lawfull, or not usefull for men to understand the Hebrew, Greeke, or Latine; but withall, if they conceive there is no more matter in one language then another, nor no cause why men should be so proud for understanding of languages, as therefore to challenge to themselves the sole dealing in all spirituall matters; who (I say) can blame them for this judgement? they desire that a mans ability of judgement should be proved by the cleare expression of necessary truths, rather then by learning: and since the Scriptures are now in English, which at first were in Hebrew, Greeke, or Syriack, or what other language; why may not one that understands English onely, both understand and declare the true meaning of them as well as an English Hebrician, or Grecian, or Roman whatsoever? I, but saies some politick learned man, a man that doth not understand the Originall language, cannot so perfectly give the sense of the Scripture, as he that doth: or as one that makes it his study for ten or twenty yeares together, and hath no other employment: every man being best skilled in his owne profession wherein he hath been bred and accustomed. I did well to say some politicke learned man might thus object: for indeed what is here but policie? for if it be as such men would imply, I pray what are you the better for having the Scripture in your owne language: when it was lock’d up in the Latine tongue by the policie of Rome, you might have had a learned Fryar for your money at any time to have interpreted the same: and though now you have it in your owne language, you are taught not to trust your owne understanding, (have a care of your purses) you must have an University man to interpret the English, or you are in as bad a case as before but not in worse; for, for your money you may have plenty at your service, & to interpret as best shall please your fancie. Let me prevaile with you to free your selves from this bondage, and to trust to your own considerations in any thing that is usefull for your understandings and consciences: and judge more charitably of your brethren, & understand what learning is, and to marke those that cause divisions among you, and you shal finde that they are learned men, & not unlearned. The learned man must live upon the unlearned, and therefore when the unlearned shal presume to know as much as the learned, hath not the learned man cause to bestir his wits, and to wrangle too when his Copy-hold is in such danger? I pray what was the cause that Demetr. and the Craftsmen cried out, great is Diana of the Ephesians, whom al Asia and the world worship? was it the love to the goddesse or her worship? no, we find it was their covetousnesse and particular gaine? What is it els to cry out, great is learning, great are the Universities, who shall answer an adversary? (money answereth all things) ambition, covetousnesse, disdaine, pride, and luxury are the things aimed at: and if it be not so, by the fruits you shall certainely know. As for government, those that are accused are not guilty, for they are enemies onely to usurpations, and innovations, and exorbitances in government: indeed they are haters of tyranny, and all arbitrary power, but no other: and therefore those that falsely accuse them, are they that cause and foment divisions amongst you: therefore marke them, and be not deceived by their dissembled insinuations to hold you in division, whilst they have opportunity to make a prey of you. You know there are Wolves in Sheepes cloathing: be wise as Serpents, able to discover them, innocent as Doves, gently bearing with the infirmities of the weake, having nothing in more esteeme then love: thus you will answer love with love: that henceforwards your owne soules may constantly witnes to your selves (what this Scripture expresseth) That the love of God bringing salvation to all men hath appeared, teaching you to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world: Now unto him that hath loved us, and washed away our sinnes in his owne bloud, be praise and glory for ever, Amen.