Provision for the Poore
the poore, now
OUT OF THE STORE-HOUSE
of Gods plentie:
Which they shall be sure to find in all places, that
are indued with his graces, to thinke seriously
on this sentence following.
‘Psal. 41.1. Blessed is he that considereth of the poore, the Lord will deliver him in the time of trouble.’
Explaned by H. A.
Printed by Thomas Creede. 1597.
PUBLISHED BY Thomas Creede
To the Christian Reader, in what calling soever, Grace, &c.
THe complaint of the poore through penurie in Englande, hath continued long, (good Christian reader) and yet it appeareth their want groweth greater. What should this import? but either they cry not aright themselves, to him that is able & willing to help, or else the bowels of tender compassion are shut up in such as should relieve them. Touching the poore that crie hard for foode, and finde small supply: the reason is, for that they doe not complaine unto God of their grievous sinnes (the verie maine cause of all their calamities:) which if they looke to have released, and no further increased, they must confesse in maner following. First, that they have misspent much good time in idle roging up and downe, and woulde not worke: therefore the Lord doth justly requite them, that now when they would, they shall not eate (or verie little.) Second, that in the time of abundance, they have beene great wasters in bibbing and belly cheare: therefore nowe justly they feele the want thereof. Thirdly, That when God by his messengers, called upon them to leave their evill wayes, and serve him better, they would not heare to follow the same: Therfore doth God nowe shut up his eares, and others also, when they cry for foode. If they would gladly then finde supplie, they must resolve to turne to God quickly, to confesse all their sinnes, to aske him pardon, to promise amendment, [Page] and to pray dayly for increase of his grace, that they may performe the same, then will he shorly send them releefe. To come to those that should relieve the poore, whom God hath indued with wealth and abilitie, whereof some are willing to supply their wants, and do it in some places to Gods glorie and their owne comfort, but others (alas) are too hard hearted, unwilling almost to part with any thing (albeit they richly abound with all things, (and they may bee proved to have bin makers of poore) unto who[m] I speak in the name of the Lord, Prov. 21. 13That if they still refuse to heare and helpe the needie when they crie for succour, they shall crie themselves and not bee heard when they would fainest speed. I wish the[m] therfore in time to shewe mercie (as this booke informeth them) least when they looke not for it, they finde strict judgement without any mercie: Jam. 2. 13. for shall the Lord Jesus stand at the doore (in his needfull members) and will they not releeve him that came to save them? Mat. 25. ch. Then shall they bee rejected at the last great day into eternall torments. Lay this to your hearts ye rich men of the world, and open your eares and purses to the poore, Gen. 41. ch. whilst God giveth space and offereth you grace, least when you would have it, you cannot finde it. If I could my selfe as well remove their wants (as Joseph prevented the like in Egypt) I should not thus sue for succor at your hands. The Lord open your hearts to extende compassion, that in the ende you may find consolation. So be it.
1. Provision for the poore now in penurie, out of the Storehouse of Gods plentie.
1.1. Blessed is he that considereth of the poore, The Lorde will deliver him in the time of his trouble. Psal. 41. 1
THere is no dutie of Christianitie more commaunded or commended in holy scripture, Then Love out of a pure heart unfeyned, because it hath relation to both the tables of gods law and therefore is tearmed by Christ himselfe (the fountaine of true love) Joh. 13. 15. cha. The verie badge to know his disciples from Sathans bondslaves (who delight ever in malice and mischiefe) neither can there bee any thing wherein the love of Christians may appeare more plainely, Ephe. 4. 2. 15. then in reléeving one another in their necessitie. In discharging which dutie, the most able and willing are flowe inough, and many faire professors murmur thereat, as Judas did at Marie Magdalen, who found openly a great default with her, for pouring a box of precious Oyle, uppon the blessed head of Jesus, Mat. 26. 6 13. (though she did it dutifully, to prepare him to his burial) pretending good wil unto the poore, yt it might have bin solde & given unto them (not that indéed he sought their supply) [Page] but intended to have it to his owne use, because he was a théefe and bare the bag, Joh 13. 3. 9. as Christ reporteth of him, and that the woman had wrought a good worke on him: saying further, They should have the poore at all times with them, to helpe them (if they would) Mar. 14. 3. 9. giving such to understand that found so great fault with Maries fact, that they made a great shew to relieve the poore, but when they should séeke for succour unto them, they would be then slow inough to sustaine them: which amongst many is a common corruption in these daies, A common default in these daies. rather to find fault at others well dooing, in giving of almes, then to bée liberall that way themselves, to give good almes unto others. To redresse which default (the poore in all places béeing in penurie) I have undertaken to be their Solicitour, unto all manner of persons, The author the poores Solicitour. which ought in equitie either to supply them, or to provide that such as make default (being well able) may bee compelled thereunto by further authoritie from the Almightie, if this gentle motion in the words precedent will not prevaile, which héere I will repeate and explane unto them, (by Gods assistance)
1.2. Blessed is he that considereth of the poore, the Lord will deliver him in the time of his trouble.
IN this parcell of holy Scripture we are to observe especially two parts.
- First the description of a good man or woman in these words expressed, Blessed is he that considereth of the poore.
- Second, the benefit belonging to such a person, that is to say, The Lord will deliver him in the time of his trouble.
In the description of this good man, we are to remember two other points.
- First, the title ascribed unto him, That he is (blessed)
- Second, the manifest marke of such a man, That he considereth of the poore.
Concerning the benefit belonging to such a man, wee are to [Page] meditate of these two points also.
- First, His safe preservation, contained in these words, The Lord will deliver him.
- Second, The time when especially, viz. In the time of his trouble.
To begin with the first point, and procéede in the particulars, where the kingly Prophet David saith: Blessed is hee that considereth, &c. His meaning is not, that such a good man onely is blessed, but such a woman also, Both kinds blessed. for in this place Man signifieth mankinde, that is, both sexes, man and woman. As our Saviour Christ in generall tearmes saith: Blessed are the mercifull, naming neither man nor woman, Mat. 5. 7. but compriseth them both within the compasse of true blessednesse, (if they be mercifull)
Moreover, though in the description of this godly person, or any other in usuall spéech, the title is ever set downe before, to moove others to better attention of that which followeth, The first in use, the second in order. yet having relation unto the qualities of that person, it must in order follow the same, and be handled the latter, for in due procéeding, the case standeth thus: He that considereth the poore, he is blessed. As if the Prophet should say, whosoever would know one speciall marke (amongst others) of a blessed man, hee that considereth the poore is such a one. Six parts concerning the poore. In which short sentence we are to observe sixe especiall points.
- What kinde of poore the Prophet here meaneth.
- What it is, rightly to consider of them.
- What persons rightly consider the poore.
- To produce some examples of the poore considerers.
- The double effect of considering the poore.
- Their dangerous estate that consider not the poore.
To begin first with those poore whom the Prophet here propoundeth to bee considered of: in a word they bee all sorts of poore good and bad, that are in any kinde of necessitie: which may be manifested by Saint Pauls words: Gal. 6. 10. Doo good to all, especially to those of the houshold of faith: containing both [Page] sorts within the compasse of our compassion, Six circumstances co[n]cerning the poore. by the which occasion, these circumstaunces concerning the poore are to bée remembred.
- The severall kinds of poore to be holpen.
- That none ought to be idle, nor yet to begge.
- Why God will have the poore amongst us.
- What provision is made for them by law.
- Her Majesties continuall care for their supplie.
- What meanes to relieve them, is put in practice.
Two sorts of poore. Concerning these severall kinds of poore, that now especially are to be considered of, may wel be divided into these two sorts.
- The impotent poore.
- The poore able to woorke.
The impotent poore foure sorts. The impotent poore, (though many in number) may well be conteyned within these foure kinds, all wanting wherewith to relieve themselves.
- Aged persons past their worke,
- Lamed persons unable to worke.
- Little infants without parents.
- Poore sicke persons during their weaknesse.
All these of necessitie, must be maintained in the whole, To be releved in the whole. (if they have not of their owne towards their supply) for touching the sicke poore, (though they have some goods, gotten by sore labour in their health) yet I sée no reason, that they should sell the Cowe which gives the children milke, nor the tooles they worke with, nor any néedfull thing belonging to their maintenance: all which things in compassion are to be spared, as the lawes of Moses provided in that case. Deut. 24.
Concerning the poore that are able to worke, they may be divided into these two sorts.
- Such as may earne their whole maintenance.
- Such as must be relieved in part,
The poore that are able to live by their labour, are of thrée sortes. 1 Able to worke of three sorts.
- Such as are willing to take pains, and cannot get worke.
- [Page]Such as are yong and lustie, yet unwilling to labour.
- Such as are committed for some offences, and have not wherewith to be maintained.
The poore not able to live by their labour, 2 Willing to worke three sorts. and yet fitte and willing to take paines, are of thrée sorts also.
- Orphaned children above seven yeares olde.
- Such as bee overcharged with children, having nothing to maintaine them but their hand labour.
- Such as fall to decay in their workes, by reason of theyr yeares, weaknesse or infirmities.
All which ought to be relieved in part, as their necessitie shal require.
The second circumstaunce touching the poore, is, to provide that none live idlely that can labour, 3 None to begge or be idle. nor any begge that are unable: for both those persons staine our profession by theyr bad examples.
But some will object, was not Lazarus a begger, An objectio[n] lying dayly at the rich mans doore, and yet recommended in holy Scripture to be one of the redeemed in Jesus Christ.
The example of Lazarus is commended for his patience Answere. (not for his begging) being onely constrained thereunto, or else to famish. So small regarde then was had of the poore, that were unable to worke: for, if begging had been lawfull, Christ would have sayde, You shall have Beggers alwayes with you, Mar. 14. 7 in stead of the Poore.
The strangers in London (if report be true) may be a patterne in these respects to all our English nation, for they are so carefull to kéepe their Countrey people, both from idlenesse, and begging, How the strangers in Londo[n] provide for their poore that such as can worke, neither want worke, nor yet wages, and so soone as any fall in decay, their state is imparted unto their company, and then commonly, they abstaine one meale on the next Lordes day, and give the price thereof towards the parties maintenance. And their care in this case was so great in the primitive Church, Act. 4. 34 37. that manie solde their living to maintaine theyr poore Brethren, and kept a [Page] custome everie Lordes day to lay up some money towardes the reliefe of poore straungers, 1. Cor. 16. 1.5. The care in the primitive curch of the poor. when a collection should bée made for them: so unwilling they were, that any Christian should begge in those dayes, to the dishonour of Christ and his Gospel.
3 Why the poore are scattered amongst us. The thirde circumstaunce touching the poore, is to search out the cause why God hath left the poore amongst us, (scattered as it were in all countries) which may séeme to bée in two respects, partly to trie our love unto them, and partly to approve our faith unto God, that he may blesse us, as Moses declareth after this maner.
Deut. 15. 1.18. If anie of thy brethren be falne poore, in the Citie, (as yée shall have the poore alwayes with you) yée shall lende and give him (as necessitie requyreth, without any grudging (not looking for it againe) that the Lorde thy God may prosper thy procéedings.
The fourth circumstaunce concerning the poore, is to consider, howe the lawes of this lande hath provided for them, Three stances for the poore. which consist in thrée Statutes made to that ende since her Majesties reigne.
- The first, made in the fourtéenth yéere of her highnesse reigne, intituled, An Act for the punishing of all rogish vagabonds.
- The second, made in the eightéenth yeare of her highnesse reigne, intituled, An Act for setting the poore on worke, &c.
- The third, made in the five and thirtith yeare of her highnesse reigne, intituled, An Act for the necessarie reliefe of souldiers and mariners.
1 Statute, how rogues should be punished. In the first Act, there is restraynt, that none shall wander abroad without licence upon speciall occasion: all other vagarant persons able to worke, to be taken and punished as Rogues and Vagabonds, The first offence, to be stocking and whipping: The second, to be burnt in the eare: and the third to be taken and hanged as felons.
The second act tendeth, to set the poore on work, 2 How the poore shuld be set on worke. that there should be houses of correction builded in all countreyes, and stocks in money provided, to set all the poore (that can worke) or lacke worke, to spinne, knit, or such like, (and all the impotent to be otherwise reléeved by wéekely contribution.) If any refuse to worke that are able, to be punished with want of meat (as the apostle warneth) 2. Thes. 3. 10. with flocking, whipping, or otherwise, at the governours discretion.
The third act provideth, that all manner of Souldiers and marriners that fal to be maimed in her majesties warres, 3 Statutes for releefe of Souldiers. shall be maintained honestly in their owne Countreyes (by generall ceassments) according to the places they served in before, bringing due testimonie thereof, from their generall or Captaine.
If these thrée statutes were duely put in execution, Want of execution, &c. (according to the true meaning thereof, there neither could nor would be so many poore, nor so great penurie, as there is at this day.
The fift circumstance concerning the poore, 5 Her majesties chri [...]an care for the poore in two respects. to moove our compassion towards their sustenance, is the consideration of her majesties most gracious regard and forwardnesse, to have their wants supplyed in all parts, appearing plainely in these two points cheefly.
- First in releasing her owne right by custome for the bringing in of corne from forraine kingdomes, 1 In releasing her custome.to serve the want throughout her dominions (which will amount to no small summe, both to incourage her merchants to venture, & to bring downe the price to reléeve the poore, which (God be thanked) it hath doone already in many places.
- Second, in causing her majesties most honorable councell, 2 The councels letters sent in the poores behalfe, by hir majesties meanes.to direct theyr letters in her owne name, to the two Archbishops, of Canturbury and Yorke, to signifie her pleasure to all their brethren in both provinces, that Wednesday suppers should be spared of the more able, & wholly converted towards [Page] the due reléefe of the poore.
I may not omit héere the christian perswasions of the Lords of the councell, The councels care for releeving the poore. in their godly letters to the said Archbishop, to moove them by all good meanes to séeke the maintenance of the poore, and withall in setting downe necessarie direction to all the Justices in this Realme, for the restraint of wasteful expences, and due provision to serve the markets, with corne in all parts (so much as is possible) to procure reléefe for her majesties people, that none might perish by this great penurie.
Whereunto if we adde the forfaiture of 12. pence for everie housholders absence from Church (man and woman) forenoone and after, Twelve pence a time for absence from divine service. sunday and holiday (according to the statute) without sufficient cause alledged) to be duely collected by Churchwardens and others appointed to that end, with the like regard for Wednsday suppers: there would be sufficient reléefe for the poore in all places (if corne were much déerer) as by indifferent computation will appeare. If we estimate the price of foure able persons (their suppers only) towards the reléefe of one poore body, that could not worke.
The sixt circumstance concerning the poore, is to search out how those provisions made by Law for their due reléefe, is put in practise: What meanes to releeve the poore is put in practise. that is in few words, whether the impotent be provided for, whether the able to labour have worke and wages to live upon, and whether all idle vagabondes that are able and will not worke, be punished for example sake (according to the statutes before expressed)
It may be spoken to the praise of some well disposed people in some good townes, Some good townes do provide for the poore. within some parts of her majesties dominions, that a man passing through the same shall sée not one begger asking any almes, (except one or two that kéepe the common box, according to the order) to take the benevolence of travellers and strangers: so well are the statutes observed in those places.
For the towne of Wakefield, where my abode is, The poore of Wakefeld. (though the poore be many and needy) yet thus much in truth I may speak, [Page] to my knowledge, that if any be pinched with penurie, the default especially resteth in themselves, though some other persons can not be excused. For, (to the prayse of God bée it spoken) there is not onelie a house of correction, according to the Lawe, but withall, The able want no worke if they will. certaine stockes of money put foorth into honest Clothiers handes, who are bounde with good sureties, to set all the able poore to worke, after five pence, or sixe pence a pound of wooll spinning (as they shall deserve) if they will fetch it.
For the impotent poore in every stréete, they have béene considered of, (by the most able and forwarde men of that Towne) and a generall ceassement voluntarie made for their supplie wéekelie, A weekly collection for the impotent. which by confirmation of her Majesties Justices, is still kept of everie able householder, besides the Wednesdayes Suppers, for the which the Church-wardens take paynes accordingly, wherein if everie one woulde discharge that dutie required of her Majestie, to let the poore have the full benefite of their sayde Suppers, there should not one person have cause to begge there for all this deare yeare. As for the yonger sort, fitte to learne trades and occupations, there is order taken to put them to apprentisshippe, or otherwise to service.
Having thus farre onely made declaration of the severall kindes of poore, and what provision hath béene made for them by Actes of Parliament, and new of late by her Majesties good meanes, and speciall direction from the Lordes of her Counsaile: Let us nowe procéede to the second speciall poynt of the former sixe.
1.3. What it is rightly to consider of the poore. Second poynt.
Concerning this poynt, there be sixe propositions of speciall importaunce to be considered of. Six poynts of consideration.
- The proceeding causes of so manie poore in all Countreyes.
- That God might have made our estate lyke unto theirs.
- [Page]That we should do to them as we would be done unto.
- Why we all ought to helpe to relieve them.
- Those places of scripture tending to compassion.
- How their present want may be relieved.
To begin with the first proposition touching the procéeding causes of many poore in all Countreys, though some impute the same to the dearth of graine, and the occasion thereof to unseasonable weather, 1 The proceeding causes of the poore. especially in harvest time, by tempestuous winds which shoake out the corne when it would have béene shorne, yet must we search further from whence those windes came, and the cause thereof, which were the procéeding causes indéede.
For the former of these last causes, all windes and ill weather procéede directly from the justice of God, Gods justice. (as many places of the holie Scripture prove the same) especially in the Prophecie of Amos, where it is sayde, There is no evill befalles to any Citie, but the Lord hath done it, Amos 3.6. (meaning by evill, all maner of afflictions.
Mens sins provoking Gods justice. Concerning the latter, the Scripture likewise doth make mention, that the sinnes of all people do provoke Gods justice, to plague us sundrie wayes, as all men may perceyve in perusing the Prophets (especially the booke of Deuteronomie, and Leviticus.) Lev. 26. Deut. 28.
The due premeditation whereof, will urge us to consider of those particular sinnes, which procure Gods justice to punish us with penurie.
- Partly procéeding from the poore themselves.
- But more especially from the poore makers.
The procéeding sinnes from the poore themselves, Six sinnes proceding from the poore. whereby they provoke the Lord to pinch them, are these six especially.
- First, their misspending of former times in idlenesse, when they might have wrought.
- Secondly, their wilfull wasting of their goods when they had them, in bibbing and belly-cheare.
- Thirdly, their impacient bearing of their present want, [Page] complaining often without cause.
- Fourthly, their dayly repining at others prosperitie, to have so much, and they so little.
- Fiftly, their banning and cursing, when they are not served as themselves desire.
- Sixtly, their seldome repairing to their parish Churches, to heare and learne their duties better: all which must be amended, if they would have their wants supplyed.
The procéeding sinnes from the poore makers, wherby they provoke Gods justice to plague us with this present penurie, The poore makers sins ten in number. in all places, are many and grievous, especially ten, which may be tearmed the bréeders of the poore.
- All excessive proude persons in apparell.
- The unmeasurable wasters of meate and drinke.
- The importable oppression of many Landlords.
- The unconscionable extortion of all usurers.
- The unsatiable covetousnesse in corne-mongers.
- The wilfull wrangling in law matters.
- The immoderate abuse of gamming in all Countreys.
- The discharging of servants and apprentises.
- The generall abuse of all Gods benefites.
- The want of execution of good lawes and statutes.
All which must néeds increase the poore, and the increase of poore must likewise procure penurie, and scarcitie in all places, as by diligent examining the former particulars, will appeare plainely to the view of all persons.
To begin first with all proud persons, that kéepe no moderation in their apparell, 1 All proud persons. neither in cost nor change, and commonly (farre above their calling) must not their maintenance urge great sums of money? It may be more then either their rents or getting will extend, which must néeds inforce them, either to racke their tenants by fines, or else to run on score in their creditors bookes, till they sell them one lordship after an other, and then must the tenants pay for their pride and will not this dealing make many poore?
2 Al prodigal persons. The second sort of poore makers, be all such kinde of prodigall persons, as riotously waste their goods and substance, in surfetting and drunkennesse, in banketting and bellicheare, day after day devouring more meate and drinke into one bellie, then woulde well serve two or thrée persons: and must not this dealing make all graine and victuals the scanter, which in the ende must néedes pinch the poore, through want of the same?
3 Oppressing landlords. The thirde sort of poore makers, are all unreasonable oppressing Landlordes, and that by thrée hookes, either by turning theyr Tenaunts out of doores, to enlarge theyr Demaines with their tenements, or inhauncing of their rents, or else in making them sell all their goods, that they are not able to till their land, but let it out to others: and must not this dealing make many poore?
4 Extorting usurers. The fourth sort of poore makers, are all kinde of Usurers, whether it bée in money or wares, who deale so unconcionably with men in these dayes, that they are not ashamed to extort twentie, thirtie, or fortie poundes in the hundreth, so they can defraude the lawe: and will not this dealing make many poore?
5 Covetous corne-mongers. The fifth sort of poore makers, are all sortes of covetous Corne-mongers, who commonly kéepe one yeares store before hande, closely laide up in their Arkes or Garners, and rather then they will shew themselves so loving to bring it to the Market, to make corne cheaper, can be contented to sée theyr neighbours famished: and must not this dealing increase their penurie?
6 Wilfull wranglers in lawe matters. The sixth sort of poore makers, are all wilfull wranglers in Lawe matters, consuming their substaunce in wreaking their wicked willes one of another (and sometymes brother with brother, about verie trifles) as I coulde name a couple that might once have béene accorded under twentie Nobles, within this fewe yeares, and nowe have quite spoyled one the other, with suites in lawe: and must not [Page] not this dealing increase the poore?
7 Unthriftie gamesters. The seaventh sort of poore makers, are all immoderate unthrift gamesters, (at dice and cards specially) which (if they be lawful) ought onely to bee used for recreation, to make them more apt to walke in their vocation, and not to make gamening an occupation to get their living thereby, (and that for the most parte to others destruction, their wives and children) loosing possibly more in one night, then they can recover all the yeere after, and force great men sometimes to sell whole Lordshippes to satisfie their lusts: and will not this dealing make many poore?
8 Discharging of servants. The eight sort of poore makers, are such, as unlawfully dismisse their Servants and apprentises before their tearme end, and breake up housekéeping for saving of charges, being well able to maintaine them still: and will not this dealing increase the poore?
9 Abuses of Gods benefits. The ninth sort of poore makers, is the generall abuse of all Gods benefits (almost in all estates) very few kéeping any moderation, besides our unthankfulnesse, which must needes increase the prices of all things, so as the meaner sort can hardly gette maintenance: and must not this dealing make the more poore?
10 Want of due executio[n] of good lawes. The tenth sort of poore makers, is the want of execution of those Lawes and orders made for theyr provision, which fault resteth in Magistrates and officers appoynted to that ende, and in many ministers, who ought publikely and privatly to reproove abuses, and put all persons in minde of their duties, yet either they cannot, or will not performe the same, whereby the most do live in disorder: and will not this dealing increase the poore?
Now if one of these poore makers may bréede many poore, (as the oppression of Tenants by one cruell Landlorde) howe many will they bréede all tenne together? I thinke they will fall out to bee innumerable, namely if wee consider howe many such poore makers every country hath, yea every towne [Page] in one respect or other, (for what towne is there but hath some gamesters, alestakes, and such like, that daily increase the poore) which they would not doo if they did but often thinke of this one point,
Luke 16.2.That every person at the last day shall give an account of his owne stewardship. &c.
The Lords proceeding injudgeme[n]t The meditation hereof, will make them more carefull to walke in Gods feare, if they looke at that day to finde his favour, when every person shall bee adjudged according to the using or abusing theyr gifts, Mat. 15. to the helping or hindering of the poore (as Christ the great judge shall then procéede with them) receiving the mercifull into his kingdome, rejecting the mercilesse into hell torments, How all poore makers should judge the[m]selves. to be damned for ever with Sathan and his Angels, except they judge themselves in time (to prevent the judgement of the Lord) in maner following.
The vaineglorious person may thus thinke, I have procured Gods justice to plague us, 1. How all proude persons should judge the[m]selves. by spending so much in change of apparrell (above my calling) and so little or nothing to reléeve the poore: if I should holde on this course I shall bee condemned, therefore (by Gods grace) I will héereafter go more soberly in my apparrell, to doo the more good to such as neede the same, that Christ may receive me into his kingdome.
The prodigall unthrift may say in like sort, I have procured Gods plagues upon us, 2. How all prodigall persons shuld judge the[m]selves. by wasting much money in bibbing and bellychéere, that others now do féele the want therof, therfore (by his grace) I will be more sparing in time to come, that the poore may have more plentie, and I escape damnation which I have deserved.
The oppressing Landlord may likewise say, I have provoked Gods justice to plague us, How al oppressing landlords shuld judge the[m]selves. in spoyling of so many of their goodes and livings by incroching uppon them, by inhauncing their rents, and by excessive fines, whereby I have brought them to the beggers staffe, therefore (by Gods grace) I will no more doo so, but héereafter deale more mercifully with them, least I be damned with devils in hell.
The devouring usurer may say in like sort, I have procured the Lord to plague us, 4. How al Usurers shuld judge themselves. by my extorting much money from many, and getting my goods with polling and pilling of other persons, and thereby have brought them into povertie: but (by Gods grace) héereafter I will leave that trade, (and rather séeke to make restitution) Psal. 15. otherwise I cannot inherit Gods kingdome.
The covetous cornemonger may likewise say, I have provoked Gods justice to plague us, 5. Howe al cornemongers should judge themselves. being a meane to inhaunce the price of all graine, by withholding my corne from the market this déere yéere, and so have procured the poore to curse me, Prov. 11. 26. but henceforth (God willing) I will helpe to bring downe the price againe, least I be cursed for evermore.
The wilfull wrangler may say in like sort, I have procured Gods plague upon us, 6. Howe al wilful wra[n]glers in suits shuld judge themselves. by wastefull misspending much money in lawe, to my owne great dammage and others also, which would have doone much good to the poore, towardes theyr releefe this déere yéere. But (by Gods grace) I will héereafter further the same, by leaving law suits, and live in charitie, that Christ may receive me into his kingdome.
The unmeasurable gamester may likewise say, 7. Howe all wastefull gamesters shuld judge themselves. I have provoked the Lord to plague us by my wilfull wasting much time and money by immorderate gamening, which would have holpen the poore very well: but (by Gods grace) heereafter I will leave that lewd course, that I may spare the more to reléeve them, and so (through his mercies) come to salvation.
The niggardly house kéeper may say in like sort, 8. How al bad house keepers shuld judge themselves. I have procured Gods plagues upon us, by putting away my Servants and apprentises this déere yéere, (to spare charge onely through covetousnesse) whereby the poores want hath béene the greater: but (by Gods grace) I will héereafter become more liberall, to reléeve their necessitie, that I may inherit eternall felicitie.
Hee that enjoyeth his ease and pleasure, may likewise say, 9. How al easeful persons shuld judge the[m]selves. I have provoked the Lord to plague us, by my unthankfulnesse and idle expences, more then I layde out to reléeve the [Page] poore, in most places almost pined through penurie. But (by Gods good grace) I will héereafter set lesse by my delights, and more to helpe the néedie (as God requireth) that I may bee received into his heavenly tabernacle, when this life is ended.
The carelesse magistrate or minister may say, I have procured the Lord to plague us, How all carelesse magistrates shou'd judge themselves. both by my owne default of duty, and little regarde to call uppon others to looke to their charges, towards the reléefe of the poore this deare yéere. But (by Gods grace) I will be more carefull henceforth of my dutie, and sée them supplyed, so as none (through my default) shall be famished, that I may shew my selfe blessed of Christ, both in this world and that to come.
If all able persons to whome God hath given the gifts of this world, If every one would mend one al should prosper the better. would thus judge themselves and amend that is amisse, (as we are all bounde) the poore should then be well provided for in all places, and God be so pleased with our compassion to his néedie members, as we should procure (from his liberall bountifulnesse) more plentifull increases of all things needfull, to fill our mouthes full of his deserved praises, for his mercifull procéedings with his poore servants, that depende upon his providence.
The second chéefe point that all able persons are to consider of, is onely thus much, 2 point of consideration: that God might have made our estate like unto the poore: that his more bountifull dealing with us, should open our hearts to be so much the more beneficiall to them, or else wee shew our selves unworthy of his blessings, and deserve in justice to be deprived of them.Marke this well.
The third cheefe point that all able persons are to consider of, is the wordes of our Saviour, That we should do to others as we would be doone unto: 1 Point of consideration. which implyeth thus much, that as our selves would wish to bee holpen in our neede, so should wee be readie to helpe all others in theyr necessities Mat. 5. 12. (so much as we may) then are wee assured God will supply us in our necessities.
The fourth chiefe poynt that all persons are to consider of, 4 Point of consideration. is, the especiall causes mooving, why we shoulde bée carefull to sustain the poore: which may be contained within these foure kindes.
- God hath commaunded in his holy word, that we should be carefull of their sustentation.
- They bée our owne flesh and naturall kinsfolkes, both by creation, and regeneration, and left amongst us to trie our compassion.
- Christ Jesus shed his precious blood for them, as well as for us.
- They be our fellowe heyres, of Christ his most blessed and everlasting kingdome.
The often and diligent premeditation of these few poyntes, should lead us all to this consideration, Mark these points well that if we tender Gods holy commaundement, if we have any love or compassion in us, if wee make account of Christes precious blood, or if wee ourselves looke to inherite his kingdome, after this life ended, then must wee bée mindfull to relieve his members, Mat. 25. that is, the poore, who at this present are in great penurie, in most places, and are in daunger to bee famished, without helpe.
5 The fift chiefe point: that all able persons are to consider of, 5 Point of consideration. are those perswading places of Scripture, which do most urge us, to the due relieving of the poore in all places, whereof I will onely set downe twelve, Twelve places of scripture. under which all the rest may be contained.
- Cast thy bread upon the waters, and after many dayes thou shalt be sure to finde it. Eccle. 11.1.
- He that giveth unto the poore, lendeth unto the Lord, who will recompence it in due season. Pro. 19.17 and 28, 27.
- To do good, and to distribute unto the needy forget not, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Rom. 12.31 Heb. 13 16.
- He that giveth not sparingly unto the poore, God will give liberally unto him, for he loveth a chearfull giver. 2. Cor. 9.
- [Page]He that distributeth unto the poore, his righteousnesse shall remaine for ever. Psal. 112.9
- Call the poore, the lame and the blind to thy Table, so shalt thou bee blessed of the Lord, and bee recompenced for the same at the last day. Luke 14. 13.14.
- Give almes to the needie, so shall yee get a treasure in heaven that never shall decay. Luk. 12.33
- Blessed is he that considereth the poore, the Lorde will deliver him in the time of his trouble. Psal. 41. 1
- He that hath this worlds good, and seeth his brother want, and shutteth up his compassion from him, howe dwelleth the love of God in him. 1. Joh. 3.17
- He that stoppeth his eares at the cry of the poore, shal crie himselfe and not be heard. Pro. 21.13.
- Blessed are the mercifull, for they shall be sure to obtaine mercie. Matt. 5.7.
- There shalbe judgement without mercy, to those that shew no mercy, but mercifulnes rejoiceth against judgment. Jam. 2. 13
Consider of this conclusion. There is no heart so hard (if it be not of flint) but will relent, and shewe some compassion to relieve the poore, upon the perusing of these places, if he either take God to be just, or mercifull, to performe his promises: or beléeve there is a hel and a heaven, after this life ended, where they shall remaine in sorrow or joy that shall be endlesse. For all these exhortations alledged, are within the compasse of Canonicall Scripture, and written for our instruction, Rom. 15.4 as by examining them in their particulars will appeare, and by application become more profitable.
1 Place Eccle. 11.1. Applied. The first place: Cast thy bread upon the waters, &c. are Salomons speaches, the wisest king that ever was, and a figure of Christ, where water signifieth the poore, (as weake as water.) Now he dooth assure such mercifull men, that theyr almes so bestowed shall not be lost. What able person then but will give the more, if he trust Salomons words to be true, that himselfe shall finde it.
The second place: He that giveth unto the poore shal not lacke, &c. 2 place. Pro. 28.27 Applied. Pro. 29.17. Matt. 10.42. are Salomons also, which should encourage all able persons to give the more, because thereby they shall procure the Lord to blesse their provision, that they should not want: because he hath promised to recompence the same, (if it were but a cuppe of colde water given in good will) accounting the same as doone to himselfe, so well hée lyketh the workes of charitie.
The third place: To do good to those that stand in neede forget not, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. 3 place. Heb. 13.16 Applied. The Apostles speaches: wherein we sée how the Lord accounteth of such works (as sacrifices) acceptable in his sight, which should move all able men to double their almes, if they desire to please ye lord.
The fourth place: He that giveth liberally unto the poore, God will give bountifully unto him: 4 place. the Apostles spéeches also. And further, that God loveth such a person. 2. Cor. 9. Applied. Which must néedes move able persons to give fréely to the poore, if they eyther tender their owne benefite, or to shewe themselves to bée such as God loveth.
The fifth place: He that distributeth unto the poore, his righteousnesse shall remaine for ever, 5 place. Psal. 112.9. Applied. are the wordes of the Prophet David, which will enforme all able persons thus much, that if they desire to be accounted, and continue righteous in Gods sight for ever, then must they of necessitie be liberall distributers unto the poore, according to their severall wants.
The sixt place: Call the poore, &c. to thy table, and thou shalt be blessed, and recompenced for the same, at the resurrection of the just. 6 place, Luke 14. 13. 14. Applied. These be the wordes of our Saviour Jesus, which should bee as a spurre to all rich persons, to pricke them forward in giving of their almes, if they take Christ to be ever faithfull in performing promise.
The seventh place: Give almes to the needie, so shall ye get a treasure in heaven, that never shall decay. 7 place. Luk. 12.33. Applied. These be ye words of our saviour also, which of all other should move worldly rich [Page] men, to liberall almes giving, Applied, that they may get great store of treasure in the world to come, as they have in this worlde, if they take Christ to be true of his promise.
The eight place: Blessed is he that considereth the poore, the Lord will deliver him in the time of his trouble. 8 place. Psal. 41.1. The words of David the kingly Prophet, which must néedes perswade all those able persons, Applied. that knowe they have béene, or shall be in trouble, to be beneficiall unto the poore, if themselves desire to find any comfort in their distresses.
The ninth place: He that hath this worlds good, and helpeth not his brother, whom he knoweth to want, how dwelleth the love of God in him? (meaning, it is impossible.) 9 place. John. 3.17. The words of S. John whom Christ loved so dearely, Applied. which should provoke rich men to grow rich dayly in the works of mercie, if they would shew themselves, John 4.30 either to love God, or to have the love of God dwelling in them.
The tenth place: He that stoppeth his eare at the crie of the poore, shall crie himselfe and not be heard. 10 place. Prov. 21.13 Applied. The words of Salomon a figure of Christ which should inforce rich men to listen well to the crie of the poore, and helpe to relieve them, or else they shall one day crie themselves, and not be heard, which assuredly will once come to passe.
The eleventh place: Blessed are the mercifull, for they shall obtaine mercie, 11 place. Mat. 5.7. Applied. The words of our Saviour Jesus also, which should allure men to shewe compassion unto the néedie (especially the wealthyer sort, that have gotten theyr goods by indirect meanes) if they looke that God shoulde shewe them mercie for theyr sinnes, in that respect, when they sue for the same.
The twelfth place: There shall bee judgement without mercie, to such as shew no mercy, &c 12 place. Jam. 2.13 Applied. The whip cord reason The words of S. James the Apostle of Christ, which may be called the whip corde reason, to urge and compell all able persons to performe dayly the workes of mercie, and never to bee wearie in doing so well, if they would not exclude themselves from mercie, at the [Page] last judgement day, when they shall most stand in néed therof.
But to confirme the same of certaintie, that the mercilesse shall then want mercie, and cannot come by the same, let all such persons marke betime the manner of Christs procéeding with them. Mat. 25. 4'.46. Christs maner in proceeding against the mercilesse. Departe from me (ye cursed) into everlasting fire, &c. For I was an hungred (in my needy members) and ye gave me no meate: I thirsted, and ye gave me no drinke: I was a stranger, and ye lodged me not: I was naked, and ye clothed me not: I was sicke and in prison, and ye visited me not. Thus even for their want of perfourming the workes of charity (as the bowels of compassion should compell them thereunto) they shall be condemned to everlasting torments.
The sixt point of consideration, for all able persons to thinke uppon, 6. point of consideration howe the poore may bee supplied. is, how the poore may and must be releeved, if we will shew our selves to be true Christians, or ever looke that Christ should comfort us at our last ending, when death shall arrest us, to carrie us either to joy or paine, and that everlasting.
The serious consideration therefore of these points is most néedfull: Al in vaine hitherto, if this present penurie bee not provided for. for, though we lay open the naked estate of all poore people never so barely, and produce never so manifest reasons of great importance to move all able men unto compassion, yet considering their present want is so much, and the meanes so scant wherewith to reléeve them, with the time so long till God send new store (the ware corne séed in the most cold countreyes being yet unsowen) which threatneth a further famin to follow, without due provision now in time: Let us then consider of this maine point.
- How the want of the poore may be still releeved.
1. How the poore may be releeved
Concerning the want of the poore, it may be supplyed two manner of waies.
- First by remooving the cause of their wants.
- Second, by adding a further supply.
Concerning the causes of the poore (as hath béen plainely explaned before) The double cause of the poores want. the same doth procéede partly from themselves through their idlenes, &c. but more especially from the poore makers, [Page] (whereof there be sundrie sorts before named) The double cause of the poores want. who if they would surcease their immoderate excesse (as hath béene moved by many sounde reasons) the poore would gette daily reléefe thereby. For, as it is a tried rule in Phisicke, Take away the cause of any maladie, The cause taken away the effect ceaseth. and the effect of curing will follow of it selfe: for as the one is in remooving, the other is in comming, (the one as it were following the other) the like is the cause concerning the poore: for if the wastefull expences in their makers, (as it were all drawen out of their purses) were againe restored into the same, they should have little cause to complaine, for both they should have more store of money to buye what they néede, and vittels then would be more plentie.
Restraint of expences, a supply to the poore. As for example, the very overplus of prodigal persons, ye misspent so much in bibbing & bellichéere, which bréedeth diseases in the[m]: if that were spared héereafter in al places, how many thousands throughout al Engla[n]d might be wel reléeved, it would be incredible, séeing every towne will afford some such unthrifts.
How many thousands might bee supplied. The like may be saide of all other sorts of excessive persons, that if they were drawen to due moderation, and their overplus converted to the use of the poore: it would appeare by computation that maintenance enough might be had for almost innumerable poore persons, if corne should beare the double price in all markets.
Touching the second point, which is the procuring of supply in corne from other countreyes, Provision of corne brought in fro[m] beyond the Seas. that care hath hitherto manifested it selfe in her gracious Majestie and most honourable Councell (as the great aboundance of white rie brought into England from beyond the seas, doth demonstrate, the Lorde grant it may hold out still.
3 Cheefe point to consider rightly of the poore. The poore mans want, and meanes to supply, being thus far revealed, let us now procéed to the second chéefe point concerning the poore (what persons indéede consider rightly of them) that is in few words, all those men of substance that suffer no able workma[n] or woman to want work or wages to live on this déere yéere, nor any of their impotent neighbors to be unreléeved [Page] (so much as they may) and those that doo sée the youth set on work, & al able persons that are unwilling, or els do punish the[m] as the law appointeth, these do indéed performe the same accordingly, to the good example of all other persons.
4. Cheefe point to produce some examples of poore considerers, ten in number. The fourth chéefe point concerning the poore, is to produce some speciall examples, of such as kept good hospitalitie, or otherwise used to reléeve the poore, which shall stand as patterns to all posterities, of liberall considerers of the poore, contained within the canonicall scriptures, which are ten in number.
The first example shall be a couple of brethren Abraham & Lot by name, 1. Abraham and Lot. who were so much given to hospitalitie, as scarce they wold suffer any poore traveller to passe by their doores, but did entertain the[m] liberally: a good example to great housekéepers Gen. 18. & 19.
The seconde example is Nehemiah that noble governour, who finding the Jewes sore oppressed at his returne from Babilon, did not only remitte a part of his own right assigned unto him, 2. Nehemiah. but also kept at his table daily an hundreth and fiftie of them, which before had béene banished amongst the heathen, and moved others to the like compassion: Nehe. 5. a woorthy president to all superiour governours.
The third example, is Job the just, a wealthie man of the land of Husse, 3 Job the just. who was so pittifull unto the poore, that he became the eyes to the blinde, the féete to the lame, and as a father unto the fatherlesse, never denying the néedies request, nor beeing once wearie in supplying their wants: Job. 29. & 31. a notable patterne for all rich persons.
The fourth example, is David the king, David the king. who tooke such pleasure in providing well for all poore people (especially such as delighted in godlinesse) that he would not suffer, neither ever did sée either them or their séede to begge in his dayes: Psal. 16. 2.3. & .37 25. a most famous president for all kings and princes.
The fift example, is repenting Zacheus, 5. Repenting Zacheus. who sometimes had béene an extorting usurer, yet when hee was truely converted by Christ, at the first offered the halfe of his goods to reléeve the poore, Luk. 19. 1.9. and to restore foure folde to all [Page] manner persons whom he had pinched any kinde of way: a memorable patterne for al oppressing usurers to follow in these dayes, if they would please God.
The sixt example is one Dorcas, a notable woman, 6. Dorcas. Act. 9. 36. 42. who was full of good workes, and charitable almes, giving many gownes and coates to the poore, as was shewed by sundrie to Peter the Apostle: a most worthie patterne for Ladies and gentlewomen.
The seaventh example is Cornelius the captaine, 7 Captaine Cornelius. Act. 10. 1. 5. a very religious devout man, fearing God greatly, and alwaies bountifull in bestowing almes: a rare example for Captaines to follow.
8. Able christians in the primitive church Acts 3. & 4. The eight example, were the first Christians in the primitive church (after Christs ascension) who were of so tender compassion in those daies, that rather then they would sée their brethren to begge and discredit their profession, those that had possessions willingly solde them to supply their wants, which stood in neede, and so brought their money to the Apostles, to devide the same accordingly. A forcible patterne to perswade able men to be liberall reléevers of the poore.
9. The citizens of Corinth. Rom. 15.20 2. cor. 7. ch. Philip. 4. 15.18. The ninth example, the godly Cittizens of Corinth of Philippi, and other places, who were not onely willing to releeve their neighbours, but in the time of scarcitie in other countreyes, did fréely bestow their almes in money (above their abilitie) and sent the same to supply theyr wants that were converted and become Christians. Most woorthy examples to moove able Citizens at the least, to have speciall care this déere yeare, to releeve theyr needie neighbours.
10. Our Saviour Christ. 2. Cor. 8.9 Philip. 2. ch The tenth and most worthy example of all, is our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who was so replenished with the bowels of compassion to reléeve our estate in great perplexitie, that rather then we should be utterly lost (though he were Lorde of heaven and earth, yet willingly (as it were) renounced his right, and abased himselfe to the very lowest degree of a Servant, for our sakes and safetie (beeing his servants) that wee [Page] might be endued with all his blessings, and made heires with him of his celestial kingdome. Rom. 8. A perfit president of that compassion, which all true Christians should séeke to imitate towards the distressed, so much as we may.
If none of the former alledged examples, can prevaile with us, to part with any portion towardes the sustentation of our néedie neighbors, Our saviours example of force. yet if we will not shew our selves past grace, our Saviours example wil procure the same from us, and that in bountifull measure. For, shall he willingly spoyle himselfe to pay our debts, when we were unable to discharge the same? Coll. 2.13. 14 15. and shall we be unwilling to give some part of that plentie he hath given us, upon our néedie neighbor for his sake? God forbid. If the spéeches of John the Apostle be true, That we ought to lay downe our lives for our brethren, (after Christs example): 1. Joh. 3.16. as no man can deny the same that hath grace in him. Marke this diligently. Then much more ought we to reléeve their want with some of our wealth. O then, séeing their case at this instant is very lamentable for lack of reliefe, let us not shut our compassion from them, like the hard hearted Priest and Levite, but let us resemble the kind Samaritan, that never left helping the wounded man, till he was restored again to health: Luk. 20. 30 37. even so should we doo unto the poore, if we would approve our selves kind Christians.
The fift chiefe point concerning the poore, is, to search out the double effect that will follow the due considering of them. First, their great want shall be well relieved: and their Reléevers (in what degrée so ever,) approove themselves to be those true Christians in whom the Lord delighteth, both of them rebounding to further his glory.
The sixt chiefe point concerning the poore, Is, to consider of their dangerous estate, that do not séeke daily to helpe their supply (being now so néedfull) and they well able, who stand all in danger of endles destruction, to be damned with Dives (as you heard before. Luk. 16. All which inducements (and specially this last) should draw on all able men, (and namely the poore-makers) to become more liberall in reléeving their want, for if such simply [Page] as do not supply them, The poore makers estate dangerous. Mat. 25. be in daunger of damnation (as Christ himself witnesseth) then how can the poore-makers escape most feareful plagues, except they in this life make restitution, which grace God graunt them.
Now let us procéed to consider of that title which the Prophet heere ascribeth to all such persons as duly consider of the poore, whom he truly tearmeth to be blessed, The almes givers title blessed. Mat. 5.7. which is confirmed by the Lord Jesus, where he saith, The mercifull are blessed: which importeth thus much in fewe words, that such a person is In Gods favour, and so known to others: which is the greatest honour that any of his servaunts can attaine unto in this life, as we commonly call him, A happie man.
For, as Courtiers use when one is advanced, The courtiers phrase to terme such a person in high estimation with his Prince, and as the spéech runneth, Well graced of all men: so the case standeth with all good almes givers, especially such as rightly give the same, Mat. 25. that they are not only blessed with Christ, for whose sake chiefly they bestow the same, but so accounted of all his servants, which is the highest title that David a King, dooth usually ascribe unto any of the Chosen, and ought so much the more to move us to mercy, to pittie the poore, and reléeve their misery, for that we shall not only approve our selves thereby, blessed of God, but to resemble him our heavenly Father, Luk. 6. 36. which should the more enlarge our compassion towards the néedie.
An objection. By this occasion, the poore may object, If such persons only as consider of our estate, be accounted blessed, then it may séem that we are accursed.
Answered. To this may be answered, That David doth not say, Hee that considereth of the poore (is onely blessed,) But that (He is blessed) setting a marke as it were on such a man, (That he is blessed of God) to incourage others to follow his example in helping ye poore, that they may so shew themselves blessed also.
Both sorts blessed. Math. 5. 3.6.10. Note that David excludeth not the poore fro[m] being blessed also, (especially such as be poore in spirite, and méekly beare their appointed burthen) for well he knew that such are blessed also as [Page] Christ reporteth of them.
By the which rule, every poore person may truly try, whether he be blessed of God, or no: Howe the poore may trie if they be blessed. for if any of them grudge at their low estate, or use words or gesture shewing discontent, or any unlawfull meanes to better the same, then they are in danger of Gods displeasure: but if they méekely beare his burthen laid upon them, do neither inwardly nor outwardly murmurs at the same, nor use indirect meanes to better their estate, but patiently wayt the Lords will in all things, then assuredly they are blessed of God, as well as their reléevers.
A question. But an other question may hereupon arise, whether all the poore reléevers be blessed or no?
Answered. The answere is easie, That all reléevers of the poore are not blessed, (howsoever the world do account of them,) as ye proud Pharisie will approve who was rejected (notwithstanding his good workes,) because he abused them to Gods dishonour. Luc. 18.
By whose example, we are to learne thus much, That it is not alwayes a certaine signe of a blessed man, to be liberal in good workes or giving of almes, (except other circumstances be therewith considered,) Sixe circumstances of acceptable almes which I will comprize under these sixe kindes.
- That the giver thereof, be the servant of Christ.
- That he give it simply for his sake.
- That he be in charitie with all persons.
- That he give it in compassion, without vain-glory.
- That he do not boast thereof afterwards.
- That he do not seeke to merit thereby.
All which Circumstances are to be observed in giving of almes, if the partie séeke to please God thereby, for he that fayleth in any one point, cannot assure himselfe to blessed.
For, touching the first, it is very manifest, that as the branch cannot bring forth frute, except it be, and abide in the vine, no more can any person living please God, except hee be and abide in Christ, Joh. 15. and so become his obedient and faithfull servant, as himself witnesseth: wherby all Infidels are abandoned [Page] with their almes, because they are not the members of Christ.
The second circumstance to be considered, Is, that we give our almes simply for Christes sake onely, Luk. 12. Mat. 25. to helpe and relieve his néedie members (without any other sinister respect) for so hath he commaunded, (as before is shewed) neither may we do otherwise, if we consider the goods we have are his, to use to his glory, Luk. 16. and that we must one day make account of them.
The third circumstance, Is, that we be in charitie with all maner persons, when we give our almes. For, (as the Apostle truly affirmeth) if we should give away all that we have to the use of the poore, 1. Cor. 13. and our bodies besides to be burned to ashes, yet should all be lost, (except we both live and die in charitie) for God is charitie, 1. Joh. 4.16 and he that liveth in charitie, dwelleth in God, and none but such persons.
The fourth circumstance, is, That we give our almes fréely in compassion, (without all vainglory) for, although the Pharises were liberall in almes, Mat. 6.3. 14. yet because they did all to be séene of men, and recommended by them, they lost their reward at the hands of God. Therefore Christ teacheth all his Disciples, (so much as is possible) not to let their left hand know in these cases, what the right hand doth: so will God one day reveale it to their comfort.
The fift circumstance, is, That when we give our almes, we may not use to boast thereof afterwards, Luk. 18. as the proud Pharisie did, that he had given so much, and others so little, least we loose our labour as he did, (who was rejected (not for his almes) but for his unlawfull bragging of the same.
The sixt circumstance, is, To take héed in any case that we do not séeke to merit by our almes, least we exclude our selves from Gods mercy, whereby alone the elect are redéemed in Christ Jesus. Job. 3. But when we have done the best that we can, humbly to confesse (as he hath taught us,) That we are all unprofitable servants) Luk. 17.10 so farre should we be, from séeking at all to merite thereby.
If the Papists and others would thinke of these points, that [Page] make so much vaunting of their almes giving, they should be soone rid of two bad opinions, both touching the maner and end of their almes. For, (as the Apostle saith,) Gal. 3. Eph. 2 If the perfect law of God could not bring us life, (because we wanted power to performe it) shall we once imagine to merit an higher place in heaven, by our imperfit good workes, (the best wherof are polluted with sin, as before is shewed): it is impossible.
Neither let the Papists untruly reproach us, that we deny good workes, or déedes of charitie, for (as they may perceive by that which hath bin said) we urge them to all Christians, upon paine of damnation to those that refuse them, because they cannot without them approve themselves to be true beléevers, Jam. 2. Hebr. 11. and without faith no man can please God, yet we do not put them in Christs place, as the cause or matter of our salvation, but as effects only procéeding from faith, whereby we make it manifest, that we do belong unto his redemption, Luk. 1.7.4 because we desire in all things to please him.
Now are we come by course to consider of that assured benefit which he shall reape, that is, rich in good workes, and giving of almes, which is set downe in this sentence following, The Lord will deliver him in the time of his trouble. Wherin wee are to note (as before is remembred) these two speciall points.
- His safe protection, That God will deliver him.
- The time when, In the dayes of his distresse.
Concerning the former point, The Lord will deliver him, who hath compassion on his néedie neighbour. Oh how strong a motive must this néeds be, to move all good Christians to that worke of mercy (namely if we consider these two points.)
- Who the Lord our protector is.
- How many and great our daungers are,
Touching the former, If we either cast up our eyes to the heavens, or conceive his goodnesse to all his creatures, how he created, nourisheth, preserveth & guideth them, Psal. 19. 6 by his Almightie power and providence, to serve our use, and to set foorth his [Page] glorie, we should then knowe who the Lord our protector is. But if we looke inwardly with the eyes of fayth, into his most holy and immortall worde, Gods power manifested. Gen. 1. which he hath left amongst us, to instruct us further of his power and goodnesse, how hee created all things of nothing, and that with a worde (without other instrument) and how he caused the sea to give place, for the safetie of his servants, and after to returne and swallow up their enemies. Exod. 14. Then shall we behold the power of that God who is our protector.
But, which surpasseth all the former testimonies of the Lords powerfulnesse, as farre as heavenly things excéede al earthly things, if we rightly consider of our own wofull estate and condition, how (through the fall of our first ancestors) all we theyr posteritie, The Lords powerfulnesse most of al appearing in our rede[m]ption. Ephes. 2. were not only deprived of his protection, but became bondslaves to sinne and Satan, without recoverie (as of our selves) or any cause in us to move the Lords mercie, to redéeme us all from their intollerable thraldome and tyrannie, save onely our miserie, we being all ranke rebels against him, by our continuall practice.
Behold, notwithstanding, the goodnesse & greatnesse of Gods love and powerfulnesse, for our restauration into his lost favor, appearing most of al, in sending his only begotten sonne Jesus, the very jewell and heire apparant of heaven and earth, to take upon his person our weake and fraile nature, and therein to incounter with sinne and Satan, and all their partakers, whom he in his manhoode so mightily confounded, that he led away captivitie captive, & triumpheth over them in eternall victorie, and all for our sakes, to bring us to felicitie. Oh then how safe are we, that have this almightie God, for our protector?
Three kinds of danger. To come to the latter point, how many and great our daungers are, may be considered in these three respects·
- The malice of our enemies, how many and mightie.
- The perils we stand in, how great and variable.
- Our dayly sinnes, how many and monstrous.
All which approve the providence of God to be the more [Page] powerfull in our protection, notwithstanding.
Concerning our enemies, for those that are outward, whom we tearme bodily, 1. Our enemies: Bodily: Ghostly. I refer them to every mans consideration, how they are any way vexed by them, and onely will nominate those that be ghostly, which séeke the subversion of our soules and bodies, in eternall confusion, who are tearmed in scripture, divels and damned spirits, 1. Pet. 5. 8. which are innumerable, and withall so mightie & malicious, that if God did not restraine their rage against us, we should be destroyed all in one moment.
2 Our perils. Touching those perils we dayly stand in, they may be considered by others destruction.
- Some by stormes and tempests.
- Some by fearefull fires.
- Some by flowing waters.
- Some by sores and sickenesse.
- Some by dearth and famine.
- Some by warres and battels.
With a number such like, whereunto we are subject, and should incurre them without Gods protection.
To come to our sins, 3. Our sins. which may be tearmed the very hooke which pulleth these daungers dayly uppon us, how many and monstrous they are in Gods sight, (especially our pride, excesse, and extortion) may partly appeare in their particulars before touched, but are made much more manifest, by the Lords plaguing us at this present with scarcitie and penurie in most places, so as the poorer sort are like to perish, without better provision.
Thus farre having shewed the daungers wee stand in, 2 The time when God wil deliver his. Psal. 50. 15. let us nowe more precisely poynt out the time when God will deliver all those persons, that are founde carefull to relieve the poore: that is to say, in the dayes of theyr trouble: So that they faile not to call uppon the almightie Lord: for so himselfe sayeth, Call uppon mee in the dayes of thy trouble, and I will deliver thee, &c.Two points
Whereby we may learne these two chiefe points.
- When and from what troubles the Lord wil deliver us.
- How we may be sure and certainly know, that God will deliver us.
1 Touching the former, whe[n] and from what troubles God wil deliver us: that is to say, when we our selves are in any danger, either of inward or outward enemies, or otherwise, by water, by fire, by tempests, by sicknesse, by famine, or such like: and then (especially) when we are in extremitie, and in daunger to die, the Lord wil either send present remedie, or else take us unto his mercy, and make us partakers of his felicitie, for evermore to magnifie his great name.
2 The meanes how to know that God will deliver us from al ex [...]emities, is, by our constant calling on his name, with faith and firme hope that he will deliver us, Jam. 5.16. 17.18. which in the ende wil prevaile with his majestie, to deale with us gratiously, and send us supply, as he knoweth most to further his glory.
To conclude therfore, séeing at this present the hand of God is heavy upon us, in most places of this Realme of England, appearing plainly in this great penury, amongst the poorer sort especially, and threatned further in greater measure, by severall signes from heaven, Faithfull prayer, a speciall meanes to prevaile with God, which was never more needfull. by strange diseases on earth, and by forraigne invasion of devoted enemies, our sinnes most of all provoking the same, which wil in the end procure our desolation, without spéedie conversion, which we can never attaine unto, (what meanes soever be used for the same) without Gods especiall grace and direction, which must be obteined by earnest petition: Let us all then incessantly, aske, knocke, séeke and sue for the same continually, at the footestoole of his mercy, in the name and mediation of Christ Jesus onely, with assurance to spéed, so shall we not only remove his displeasure, but be assured to procure his favour, for evermore: So be it.