An Husbandmans Harrow
to pull down the Ridges of the
and to smooth, a little, the
That they and others may walk together upon plain
Scripture Grounds, without stumbling on the
ridgedness of either, or both.
Containing divers new and unanswerable Argu-
ments, properly deduced from Sacred Scriptures to this
purpose, that have never yet been proposed by any on either partee,
Which induceth the Husbandman to make thus bold
whether welcome or no.
And having prooved also the said Scripturall Argu-
ments, that like teeth of steel, they will pull down the Ridges, be-
fore they break or bend; having been forced to try them
upon ridged lands: because he could not walk upon
either of their grounds without stumbling
on the Ridges.
Written by ELLIS BRADSHAW of the Parish of Bolton,
in the County of Lancaster, Husbandman.
Printed for the Author, and are to be sold at the black spread Eagle
at the West end of Pauls. 1649.
PUBLISHED FOR Ellis Bradshaw
To the Reader.
BEloved Brethren; Who ever you be that shall read or hear, and understand those things that are here exprest. I desire briefly in the name of God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, to admonish and exhort, yea, to kindle, and incourage you in the ways of truth, of meekness, and of righteousnesse, as Psal. 45. & Hebr. 1.
But to danke, and daunt, and discourage the adversaries in every respect, wherein they doe oppose, or exalt themselves against the Lord Jesus, or against his Scepter; yea, against his Kingdom, against his truth, and meekness, and righteousnesse, as Hebr. 1. 8, 9, & c.
For the time is come, that he hath taken to himself (even) his great power, and hath in (measure) raigned, as Revel. 11. 17.
Nay, there is heard (already, even) a loud voyce, saying in heaven; (to wit, in the Church) Now is salvation, and strength, and the Kingdome of our God, and the power of his Christ; for the Accuser of our brethren, (to wit, Sathan) is already cast down, which accused them before our God day and night, as Revel. 12. 10, 11, 12.
And they have (in measure alredy) overcom by the bloud of the Lamb, and by the word of their Testimony. And if you aske (who) that have thus overcome. They are plainly noted what stamp they are [of;] For they are of such, as have not loved their lives unto the very death. This is their stamp, and let it be their Motto, for there is none more proper, neither any more precious, or truly honourable amongst the Sons of men.
And therefore rejoyce ye heavens, (to wit, yee Churches) and ye that dwel in them.
But wo be to the inhabitants of the earth, and of the Sea, for [Page] the Devil himself is come down unto you, [and that] having great wrath, knowing that he hath but a short time, till he must be inclosed, and chained up, in the bottomless pit, for a thousand years, as Chap. 20. 1, 2, 3. for he must be shut up, and a seale set upon him, that he shall deceive the Nations no more, till the thousand years shall be fulfilled: though after that, he must be loosed, for a little season.
And therefore to dank, and dant, and discourage the Adversaries; and for terror and amazement, even to the people of God; yea, such as fear his Name, whether they be small or great. Lest they should be ingaged on the adversaries part; against Michael, and against his Angels, as Revel. 12. 7. Even against him, I meane, That is the first and the last, that liveth, and was dead, but that is now alive for evermore, Amen: who hath the keys of hell and of death, Chap. 1. 17, 18.
Yea, for terror unto such, as shall ingage against him; I might write a Book, not only within, but on the backside; like that spoken of in Ezekiel; And all full, even of bitter lamentations, and mournings, and woes.
Though it is doubtful, it should but be in (vain to the most part.) For even the people of God, that are his Elect and precious, are many of them grown, even secure and careless; yea, dull and uncapable of any deep impressions, either of fears, or hopes: And they are too apt, either not to [hear,] or when they have heard, to let the wordsslip, as Heb. 2. 1, 2, 3. and so incur to themselves so much greater judgements, unless they repent.
And therefore, woe, woe, and alass for ever, to all that do but neglect; much more, that despise so great salvation, Hebr. 2. 3, 4, to 9.
Yea, woe, woe, and alass for ever, to the inhabitants of the earth that forget God.
And above all, unto them, that in measure know God, and yet in no measure will glorifie him as God, neither are thankful; but become vaine in their imaginations, & c. as Rom. 1. 21. Yea, who have changed the truth of God into a lye: and worshipped, and served the creature (yea any creature) more then the Creator, who is God indeed, blessed for ever, Amen.
Yea, Woe, woe, and alass for ever, unto those, who not likeing to retaine God in their knowledge, nor in their minds and thoughts, he shall give them over to a reprobate minde, to doe those things which are not convenient, being filled with all unrighteousness, & c. as the particulars are enumerated, Rom. 1. 28, 29, 30, 31, 32.
Yea, Woe unto the world because of offences: And though it must needs be, that offences shall come, yet woe unto such, by whom they come: It were better for them that a Mill stone were hanged about their necks; and they were cast into the Sea, then that they should offend but one of the least of those little ones,' that beleeve in Christ, as Matth. 18. & 3. to 14.
And what ever men thinke, yea, though they care not to despise or offend, and reproach, yea even murther and destroy, and seek to root out, even the very names and posterities of any such little ones, that beleeve in Christ; making no more account of the killing of such, then of so many Fleas.
Yet, It is not the will of their heavenly Father, that so much as one of these little ones should perish, as vers. 14. And therefore it is, that he doth admonish us, how to deale with such, if they trespass against us, vers. 15, & c. For precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his Saints. And he will doubtless preserve their souls, though cruel Cains, shall destroy their bodies: yea, he will doubtless, preserve the faithful, and plenteously reward every proud doer.
But let it admonish such who are faithful, and that obey his voyce, to take heed unto themselves; and if their brethren sin against them, tell them of their faults; and if they repent, forgive them, & c. yea, though seven times over in one day, as Mat. 18. For we are not allowed to hate our brethren in our hearts; but to tel them of their faults plainly. Neither is it lawful to judg and censure them, as Rom. 15. 4. 7, 10, 12, 13, 19, 22. & Chap. 15. 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7. according to appearance, but righteous judgement; We are not allowed to account them as enemies, but to admonish them as brethren; yea though they so far disobey, even the Apostles sayings, as that we are necessarily ingaged, to withdraw from them, as 2 Thes. 3. 6.
And therefore woe unto such, what ever they be, whether Presbyterians, or Independants, that shall resist the truth, of which they [Page] are convinced, and shal, through partial respects to their own parts, seek the destruction either of other, and remain implacable, and malign, and hate, and despise their brethren, because in every respect they cannot accord to be of their minds, nor walk with them just in their ways, when yet not withstanding if partiallity do not blind their eyes, they may both see faults in their own ways, in which they are engaged, which no engagement ought to bind them to maintain or abide in after they are discovered, but they ought freely to confess their faults each to others, as James 4. 11. 12. & Chap. 5. 16. being convinced of them, and both of them ought to consent freely to the wholesom words of our Lord and Saviour even Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness, & not to teach otherwise; but if any do, the Apostle telleth us plainly, (and we are apt to beleeve it,) That such are puft up, and know nothing, but dote about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railing, evil surmisings, perverse disputings, of men, of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: And biddeth Timothy, from such to withdraw himself, as 1 Tim. 6. 3, 4, 5.
And we are apt to do as he advised Timothy, for if it was good for Timothy, it is in all liklihood good for us also; and how shall we think such men honest, that will not approve of the things that are honest, as the Apostle injoyneth them in another place? For it is not enough not to oppose, or resist, and speak against such things, but they ought to approve them, and testifie their assent and agreement thereunto, so far forth as they are apparently honest or true, & c. else they do implicitely oppose and resist them, or shew their unwillingness to embrace and obey them, and that they are stubborn and rebellious, and even at enmity with God in those respects, because he crosseth them even in their own devices and ways, & c. And doubtless many good men in these our days are deeply engaged in this very sin, and yet we are not allowed to judg and censure them as enemies and Apostates, but should love, and pity, and pray for them, considering our selves as also subject to the same failings.
Beloved Brethren, The Scripture is clear concerning Jonas, that he was a Prophet of the Lord, and was immediately called and sent of God, as a choyce and famous man, to prophesie against Nineve, and yet because that he knew the goodness and mercy of God, and [Page] that upon repentance he would pardon; he was unwilling even to preach the preaching which the Lord commanded him, in all likelihood, lest his future prophecying should be the worse credited; and how rebelliously he carryed and demeaned himself, till he was forced through extremity, by the power of God, to submit unto him, and humble himself, and out of the belly of helleven to cry unto him: And after all that, being but a little afflicted for want of the gourd, how passionately angry and teeny he was, and durst profess stubbornly, even in the presence of God, speaking it vocably unto him, that he did well to be angry, even to the very death; like a man desperate, and as he had been at enmity even with God himself; and yet he was, doubtless, a man inspired with the Spirit of God, and very intimate and familiar with him: Look for this Jonas 4.
And therefore strange is the temper, and natural frailties and dispositions (by nature) of some good men:
Nay, who can we read of almost in Scripture, though never so holy and fully inspired, but we may read likewise of their failings and infirmities, and of some of their gross and notorious sins; as David in the matter of Uriah; Peter in his dissimulation, and building up that by his practise, which he destroyed by his doctrine: and Paul had his infirmities and Pricks in the flesh after his conversion and calling to the Ministry. Elias also was a man subject to like passions, as the Apostles were, who confessed themselves subject to like passions as others, Acts 14. 15. and yet they were men full of faith, and of the Holy Ghost; so was Barnabas, so was Peter, so were all the Apostles, and many others, in whom we might instance; and it would be useful to determine from murder, or [hating] of their brethren, which is no better then [manslaughter,] as 1 John 3. 5. which many are too apt to take liberty to do, (because they see some faults and miscarriages in them,) as if it were a ground fully sufficient to excuse their malice, because they have some spots, yea some flesh, as well as spirit: And they will not beleeve, that any such have the Spirit of God, because they have also a spirit of flesh, a Law in their members, by which they are led captive, against the Law of their minds; for they will not consider that they have but the Spirit of God in measure: And that it is needful they be sometimes left to their own strength, that they might remember, and freely acknowledg, by whose strength they [Page] stand, and give the glory to God; for who is there, but is apt to think, that their mountains are made strong, so that they shall never be moved, and to judg, and censure, and condemn their brethren, and say of themselves like the proud Pharisee, [We are not like other men?] If they should not sometimes have pricks in the flesh, and messengers of Satan sent to buffet them, a little matter will puss us up; and therefore it is that the Apostle admonisheth, that he that thinketh he standeth, should take (special) heed lest he fall.
For by how much the more confident any man is in his own strength, by so much the more likely he is to fall: And by how much the more severe, rigorous, censorious, or uncharitable, any man is in judging of others; by so much the more likely and sure he is so to fall himself, as to be justly culpable of the same, or worse then those whom he judged, condemned and censured.
And therefore it is, That Christ himself hath admonished us, Judg not, that you be not judged, Mat. 7. 1, 2, & c. Rom. 2. 1, to the end. Chap. 7. and Chap. 14.
And should not they that are strong bear the infirmities of the weak, but they must please themselves? Should not every one of us please his neighbor in that which is good to edification, as Christ himself also did? Rom. 15. 1, 2, 3. and Chap. 14. and 1 Cor. 16. 14.
Is it not the advice even of the Holy Ghost? Is it not the will of our heavenly Father, that we should study the things that make for peace, and that might provoke unto Love? Not unto Wrath, nor to enmity nor hatred, but that which is the end of the Commandment, and the very life and strength of all Community, and of the Commonwealth; yea, the happiness and felicity of all Kingdoms, yea Governments, whatsoever, Civil or Ecclesiastical, and the subjects thereof.
And it is the onely, or at least the chief sign of the dwelling of God, either in or amongst us: If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfect in us; for God is love, and he that dwelleth in love, dwelleth in God, and God in him, 1 Joh. 4. 12, 16, 20, 21.
And not onely so, but it is a token of his blessing likewise, for there the Lord commandeth the blessing, yea, even permanent blessing, and that the chief of all, to wit, [Life] for evermore, that is to say, where there is unity of brethren, and that they dwell so [Page] together, Psa. 133. and continue in their love.
And though it be true that in some good measure the Spirit of life from God is already entred into the two Witnesses, and they are creeping up to stand upon their feet; so that great fear is (in measure) faln upon them that saw (and insulted over) them, as Rev. 11. 10, 11.
Yet, let us never expect the approbation of God, and to be called up to heaven, nor to ascend in a cloud to such eminent respect in the [Church universal] which is meant by [Heaven] Vers. 12. till faith and love, which are the two proper and essential [witnesses] that are here meant, be inspired into us by the Spirit of life from God, and shall raise and advance us, who are but the subjects in whom they recide, and who are but the instruments in whom they act, as a visible express of their invisible power and nature, & c. for the glory of God, and the terror and amazement of all his adversaties: for it is by faith, if we prevail with God, or do any thing worthy of respect with him, or in the sight of men, as Heb. 11. And faith worketh by love; And he that beleeveth hath the witness in himself: See 1 John 4. 7, 8. So that if these two Witnesses be inspired into us, and we be acted by them, it will be indeed to the terror and amazement of all our enemies, that are enemies of God.
And there shall be such an earthquake in the same hour as shall affright a remnant, who shall give glory to the God of Heaven; And we shall bear a part in that triumphant song, Vers. 15. to 18.
And therefore Edifying one another in Faith and Love, which are in Christ Jesus, ought to be the end and chief endeavor of all our business in Church affairs, as it is the end of the whole Law, and as I hope in God it shall be mine, Who am,
|COntaining by way of preambulation, the grounds and Rules, according to which the following Discourse is held forth, drawn from the end of the Commandment, Which is love out of a pure heart, and a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.||Pag. 1. 2. 3.|
|1.||First, shewing the end of the Commandment to be better in value, and more to esteemed then the means to accomplish it, and therefore ought to be chiesly eyed in all the way that leadeth thereunto.|
|2.||Secondly, the Illustration and application of the foresaid end of the Commandment, prescribed as foure Rules, to try all Laws, Arguments, Doctrines, & motives by, [...]hether they lead properly to the end of the Commandment, yea or no, that so we might embrace, or avoid them as we ought to do.||Pag. 4. 5. 6. 7.|
|3.||Thirdly, four grounds and arguments drawn from Scripture, as intending, and tending to a Reconciliation of the Churches of God, in respect of the Government and Discipline there of,||Pa. 7.|
|1.||The first from the lawfulness of Chastity or Marriage.||Pag. 8. 9.|
|2.||The second from the lawfulness of community of goods, amongst such who can so agree, or the claiming of propriety amongst such who cannot.||Pag. 9. 10.|
|3.||The third from the lawfulness of fasting, and prayer; or of eating and drinking.||Pag. 10. 11.|
|4.||And the fourth from the lawfulness of such, who think they ought, of being of the strictest Sect of the true Religion, such as were the Pharisecs, or one more remisse, such as was the Scribes.||Pag. 12.|
|Intending chiefly hereby to clear, that no man ought to blame anoother, for being more strict and conscientious, then he himself [...], [Page] or it may be [needs] or ought to be; his calling of God, not ingaging him to it, as it doth the other, being bound in spirit to the quite contrary, and in conscience both.||Pag. 12.|
|And one the other part, That those that are stricter ought not to blame such as are more remiss in some respects; because for ought they know, they are so ingaged, and called of God, and either bound in conscience, or bound in spirit, within their own Sphere.||Pag 12.|
|Conseq. The consequence where of being to this purpose, That they ought not therefore to compel each other, unto conformity, either to the strictness of the one, or the remisness of the other: proving that the Magistrate ought to tollerate, or suffer both, and not to ingage them one against the other.||Pag. 12.|
|4.||Fourthly, The application of the aforesaid grounds, and arguments to the matter in hand; to wit, to the Churches, and the government thereof.||Pag. 13. 14. 15.|
|5.||Fiftly, First the application of the aforesaid grounds and conclusions by way of just reproofe unto both parties, because they do not agree, and live, and love, and carry as brethren.||Pag. 15.|
|For which end the Rule of Charity is proposed, and a little proscsecuted||Pag. 16. 17. 18.|
|2.||The punctual application of the precedent conclusions are briefly asserted; first to the one, and secondly to the other, and a general consequence concluded thence.||Pag. 19.|
|6.||An objection proposed and answered at large; to wit, that seeing Presbyteries plead that Independents Rules and ways of discipline, are not more strict, but more remisse, and loose in many respects, giving way for liberty of all Religious without controule by the Civil State, as so they speak of them:||Pag. 19.|
|It is answered at large, That the Rules and Principles, according to which they engage to act, are manifestly stricter, and lawfully too, in divers particulars, which are held forth in several assertions, wherein likewise they are engaged, in duty and conscience, so to do: Though it is not denyed, but many Presbyterians are engaged in conscience to do the contrary, and are fully perswaded that they ought so to do for the time present.||P. 20.|
|1.||It is asserted, That they are justly stricter with whom they do [Page] incorporate and joyn themselves in Church policy, because that, so far forth as their joyning together hath respect to the policy and government of the Church, no Church can be too strict.||Pag. 20.|
|Though, in other respects, they ought to joyn according to the rule of Charity, and not of Certainty, as in administration of the Word and Sacraments, as||1 Cor. 16. 14. Chap. 13. & Chap. 10. 32, 33.|
|2.||It is asserted, That (for the same ends, and reasons, and respects, alledged in the former) they are justly strict and conscientious, and teach it as a duty, That all that are found, and known to be men of approved fidelity, within convenient bounds, should thus incorporate and joyn themselves; and to engage themselves in Covenant unto God, for better security and deeper engagement unto all brotherly and Christian duties, and to deal impartially in all such business, as concerns them all, for the glory of God, and the Churches good; and to be wise as serpents, though innocent as doves.||P. 21, 22.|
|3.||It is asserted, and proved at large, That the Principles of Independents are stricter, and neerer to the Scripture rules, for edifying of the Church, in that they do not limit the holy one of Israel to speak in publique by the learned onely.||P. 22 to 47|
|For proving Whereof, 1. It is asserted from 1 Cor. 12. 7, to 12. That naturally and manifestly flows from hence; That to whomsoever the manifestation of the Spirit is given, it is given to such to profit withall.||Pag. 23.|
|2.||It is proved against an objection to the contrary, That such who have the Spirit of God, and are spiritualiz'd thereby, may discern all things, yea, the deep things of God, as 1 Cor. 2. 10. 15. yea, though they be unlearned in the tongues; And that the manifestations of the Spirit may be evident and demonstrable, even in these our days, to such who are spiritual, though not unto others, as vers. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.||Pag. 23. 24.|
|3.||The particular gifts, or notes, or qualifications, or operations, or administrations, are the chief of them produced from sacred Scripture, whereby the manifestation of the Spirit of God, and of power, &c. may be evident and demonstrable in such as are not of those that are learned in the Tongues, nor graduates in the Schools, even in these our days, yea, and that in such [Page] who do no miracles.||Pag. 24.|
|4.||It is asserted and proved against an Objection, That these particular gifts and administrations, which are reckoned up by the Apostle Paul, cannot be so counterfeited by the carnal, but they may easily be discerned by those that are spiritual||P. 24, 25.|
|And to that purpose there is divers Notes from sacred Scripture, which (being found in any) do prove for certain, and do evidently demonstrate, that it is indeed even the Spirit of God that speaketh in them, yea though they do no miracles.||Pag. 25.|
|1.||The first from John 7. 18.||Ibid.|
|2.||From John 10. 10. 28.||Pag. 26.|
|3.||From James 1. 17, 18.||Ibid.|
|4.||From John 16. 8.||Ibid.|
|5.||From 1 Cor. 4. 5. & Chap. 14. 24, 25.||Ibid.|
|6.||From John 3. 21.||Ibid.|
|7.||From Phil. 2. 15, 16. & Ephes. 5. 13, 14.||Ibid.|
|But that the chiefest of all these particulars, or any that can be exhibited, is a clear understanding and knowledg of God, and of the sacred Scriptures, and the secrets thereof, and of the secrets and mysteries of his sacred Kingdom: Because without all controversie, great is the mysterie of godliness, as the Apostle saith, Col. 1. 26. 27, 28. Rom. 16. 25. Ephes. 3. 9. 2 Tim. 1. 10. Titus 1. 2.||pag. 27.|
|To which a Reason is rendred, drawn from the contrary, Luke 8. 10. Mark 4. 33, 34. Mat. 13.||Ibid.|
|And a Consequence gathered, backed with 1 Cor. 4. 5. & Matth. 10. 19.||Ibid.|
|And an Objection answered, to satisfie such who count it immodesty.||pag. 28.|
|1.||And another to satisfie such who object, That speaking unto men to Edification, and Exhortation, and Comfort, is not properly to prophecy, because prophecying is foreshewing of things to come; which is fully answered, and clearly vindicated, that it is properly prophecying, as the Apostle asserteth it from Heb. 11. 1. & John 10. 10. & 1 John 5. 11, 12, 13. 1 Cor. 14. 1, 3, 4. And the chief of all for the perfecting of the Saints, and for the work of the Ministry, and for the edification of the body of Christ, Ephes. 4. 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16.||pag. 29.|
|2.||And secondly, That it is a more present evidence and demonstration [Page] of the Spirit then shewing of things to come, as Agabus did; for till the things be come, they do not manifest the Spirit of God.||pag. 29, 30.|
|3.||And thirdly, The danger is shewed to those that despise, or resist, and disparage these things or ways, &c. or them that use them; or to any authority that will not suffer it, and give liberty to all them, whose spirit God hath raised, to build up the Churches in their most holy faith, lest wrath be upon them from the Lord, as Ezra 1. 5, 6. & Chap. 13. 16, 23. & Chap. 8. 22, 23. & Psal. 2.||pag. 31. 32, 33.|
|Yea, that it is matter of dangerous consequence, either to act, or comply with such; shew'd by many Reasons, and all Objections answered fully, which are too many, and too large to abreviate.||pag. 47.|
|4||Assertion is, concerning their Independency, in respect of other Churches, whiles they do well, as Rom. 13. 3, 4. & 1 Pet. 3. to the 23. & Chap. 4. 1, 2. & 12. with the Reasons that necessarily engage them so to stand, which are unanswerable.||pag. 47. to 53.|
|5||Assertion is, concerning their maintaining the Power, and Kingdom, and Supremacy of Christ; in which it is shewed, that they necessarily assume Democracy to maintain his Monarchy against Antichristian tyranny and usurpation.||pag. 53. to 56.|
|6||Assertion is, That they are justly stricter in keeping themselves within their own sphere, in not judging those that are without in the Apostles sense, 1 Cor. 5. 12. in a spiritual way, as Mat. 18. 15. to 21.||pag. 56. 57, 58.|
|Having done with the Presbyterians for the time present, here is three grand particulars instanced in against the Independents, and punctually argued from Scripture grounds.|
|1.||First, Concerning Ordination of Ministers, and other Officers.||pag. 58. to 63.|
|2.||Secondly, Concerning the authoritative acting of an Assembly of Churches in the Name of God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, wherein is proved, that withdrawing of Communion is not sufficient, but they ought to proceed even to Excommunication, yea even to Execration, if their sin so deserve, as for toleration of Idolatry, Blasphemy, and such haynous sins in their ChurchMembers or Officers.||pag. 63. to 68.|
|3.||Thirdly, Concerning their strictness in tryal of all whom they [Page] admit to partake of the Sacraments, which is named pag. 68. but prosecuted and argued against them from||pag. 72. to the end of the Book.|
|But betwixt pag. 68. and pag. 72. the Authors apprehensions, partly abreviating what hath formerly been said, are proposed briefly by way of Result; and then Objections answered concerning this main difference about admission to the Sacraments, and other particulars before named, to the end of the Book.|
FOrasmuch as the Author doth in all things hold forth Charity, which is the bond of perfectness, Col. 3. 14. and that we are bound to prove all things, hold fast that which is good, 1 Thes. 5. 21. Therefore, I say unto the ensuing Treatise,
And men have a true and just propertie in their own goods, or estates, as Acts 5. 4. and it is in their own power, neither ought any to be compelled to such community of goods, and estates; nor to distribute and communicate, but as they doe it freely, of their own voluntary minds without grudging, or any impulsion, as of necessity, either to the poor, or to the Ministery, as Gal. 6. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. and 2 Cor. 9. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,& c. And the Apostle moved them; not as speaking by commandement, but by reason of the forwardness of others, and the Example of Christ, who being rich, for their sakes became poor; that they through his poverty might be rich, as Chap. 8. 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. And that supplying each others, there might be equallity, as Vers. 14. 15. as doubtless, to such who are mutually affected, it is no more, but equal, and therefore a duty, but otherwise not, but were a sin.
3. It is lawful for a man to beat down his body, and to bring it in subjection, by fasting, and by labour and travaile night and day, as 2 Cor. 11. 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, & c. It is not unlawfull to fast often; yea, twice in the week, like the Scribes and Pharisees.
Yea, it is lawful for man and wife to defrande one another, with consent, for a time; that they may give themselves unto fasting and prayer, so they come together again; That Satan tempt them not, for their incontinency, as 1 Cor. 7. 5. And they that do thus, doubtless may see cause for it, why they should fast (sometimes) when they give themselves unto prayer. As first, because when the stomack is empty, the whole strength of the soul, and spirit, is set at liberty; (It not being bent and imployed in digestion of meat.) That with full bent of all the powers, and faculties, both of soul and body, they may strive and wrestle with God in prayer, and be the more faithfull and confident; and the more capable and apprehensive of spiritual understanding: for when the stomach is burthened and cloyed with meat, the strength of the spirit is necessarily engaged, for digestion of the same; and makes the minde drowsie, and dull, and the more uncapable, and unfit for Communion and fellowship with God, and for the presence and power of his holy Spirit, working therein, and acting, and exercising, and inlarging the same, according to his will; making request for the
Saints, [Page 11] Saints, according to the will of God, even with sight, and groans, that canned be expressed.
It is therefore meet, upon serious occasions, of seeking unto God, that we fast and pray, with fulness of devotion, and fervencie of spirit, if we would obtain.
And secondly, in regard that some things are not attainable; some kind of Devils not cast out, but by fasting and prayer, Mar. 9. 29. which cleerly implies, that fasting and prayer jointly, are more powerfull and prevalent with God, then when severed, as prayer only.
And yet for all this, it was lawful for Peter, and the rest of the Apostles to eat and drink, & c. and who could eat, or who else could hasten unto outward things, more then wise Salomon, who seriously concludes; That there is nothing better for a man, then that he should eat and drink, and he should make his soul to enjoy the fruit of his labour; and this he saw, that it was of the hand of God.
For God giveth to a man that is good in his sight, Wisdom, and knowledge, and Joy; but to the sinner, he giveth travaile; to gather, and to heap up, that he may give to him, that is good before God, Eccles. 2. 24, 25, 26.
And the Lord Jesus, even Christ himselfe, as his own words do plainly declare; that contrary to the practice of John the Baptist, He the Son of man came eating, and drinking, eating bread, and drinking wine; insomuch that they said of him, Behold a gluttenous man, and a winebibber, a friend of Publicans and sinners, Luke 7. 34.
And the Disciples of John fasted often, but his Disciples fasted not whiles he was with them.
And therefore it follows; that as there is diversities of gifts, and of administrations, and operations given out by the self same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
Were this to give God the glory, and to do it as of the ability that God administreth, that in all things God might be glorified? Were this to speak as the Oracle of God, and in his name? 1 Pet. 4. 11.
Might not such justly expect the judgment of Herod, to be struck with an Angel of the Lord, and to be eaten up of worms, because they give not the glory unto God of what they do or speak, in his sacred name, that is good, or excellent, and true & c.
And it is doubtful, at least, that such who utterly exclude all that are not learned in the tongues, I mean, from speaking unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort, or from any ministration in the name of God in publique, especially that they thereby intimate, that their abilities for spiritual ministration are onely attained through learnedness in the Tongues; for how else durst they be so bold, as to limit the holy one of Israel, that he shall not speak but by the learned onely?
Object. But it will be objected, That speaking unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort, is not properly to
pro [Page 29] prophecy; for prophecying is properly foreshewing of things to come, though such who prophecy, do ordinarily also speak unto men to edification, & c. as well as prophecy of things to come.
Ans. 1. I answer, first, That they that edifie the Church, build them up in Faith; and Faith is of things invisible, and chiefly of things to come; For Faith is the ground of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen, Heb. 11. 1. And therfore edifying, or building men up further in the true faith, and giving them better evidences and grounds of things hoped for from sacred testimonies, is, of all other, the chiefest prophecying, and most useful, powerful, and comfortable, for giving life to the souls of men, both in this life, and in the life to come, spiritual life I mean, even joy and comfort unspeakable and full of glory, See Joh. 10. 10. 28. and 1 Joh. 5. 11, 12, 13. Yea, for perfecting of the Saints, as Eph. 4. 11. to 16.
2. And as for the other, as of foreshewing new things to come, as Agabus prophecyed of the dearth and famine over all the world.
Though it be a part of prophecying not so ordinarily attainable, and more difficult in these days, yet it is not so needful nor useful as the other: And though it be a more certain and evident demonstration of the sacred Spirit inspired into such, when the thing is accomplished and come to pass; yet that part of prophecying which the Apostle commends as the chief of all, to wit, speaking unto men to edification, & c. is both far more profitable, and a clearer evidence (for the time present) of the Spirit of God, then the other is. And
Therefore I say, first, it is the most present evidence, and most immediate demonstration of the spirit, and of power, because foreshewing of things to come is no present and immediate evidence of it self, till the things be come to pass that are in truth foreshewed; though it is true, that foreshewing of things to come, is the very complement and perfection of prophecying, and the most visible demonstration of the Spirit of God, as Deut. 18. 22. and Joh. 16. 13. when the things are accomplished.