The Prophecie of Agabus, Concerning a Generall Famine to Come Upon the Worlde
of Agabus, con-
cerninh a generall Famine
to come upon the
Togither with a benevolence for
the most distressed: set out by
Peter Barker Minister at
How many hyred servants in my Fa-
thers house have bread enough, and
I die for hunger.
Printed by Thomas Creede.
How many hyred servants in my Fa-
thers house have bread enough, and
I die for hunger.
PUBLISHED BY Thomas Creede
Act 11.27. In those days also came Pro phets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.
28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the spirit, that there should be great famine through out the world, which also came to passe under Claudius Caesar.
29 Then the Disciples everie man ac cording to his ability, purposed to send succor unto the brethren which dwelt in Judea.
30 Which thing they also did, and sent it to the Elders by the hands of Barna bas and Saule.
The Arke of Noah, Ge. 7.9. was a figure of the church, wher into Jewes & Gen tiles, cleane and uncleane [Page] should one day bee gathe red. Jerusalem is walled about, Psal. 122.7. and there the Church of God is inclosed. But Zac. 2.4, Jerusalem shal be inhabited with out wals. There it is laid common as dispersed far and nigh over the face of the earth. Two commissi ons are given to the Apostles, the former with limitation.Matt. 10.5 Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into the Cities of the Samaritans enter ye not. The latter was without re straint.Mat. 28.19.Go and teach all Nations. In the first the partition wall standes up: In the second that partition wall is broken downe. Ephe. 2.14.Mat. 22.2.The king dome of Heaven is like unto a cer taine king which married his sonne. The feast is made unto all people. Esay 25.2. Therefore both Jewes [Page] and Gentiles are bidden to it.Mat. 22. They that dwell afarre of shall come and sit downe. Mat 8.11.The poore and the riche shall eate and bee sa tisfied. Psal. 22.26.29.May eate and drinke cheape enough. Esay. 55.7. But though there be no differe[n]ce between the cleane & uncleane. For Peter in the Chapter before, Acts 10. falling into a traunce, and feeling both sorts come downe to him in a vessell, heareth a voice, Arise Peter kill and eate: though the stewardes and commissioners of the high God, might distribute the food of the soule, and make all nations without stop partakers of it. And therefore Barnabas & Saule come unto Antiochia in the verse before, and certaine Prophets also came from Jerusalem unto Antio chia, though (I say) the famine of [Page] the bread of life shuld last no lon ger, the date was out, & the hand writing cancelled, yet Agabus in this place telleth and foresheweth another famine, a great famine of material bread, which shuld come upon all nations, in the world. In the intreatie whereof, I will speake first of the famin it selfe. 2, of the effects it wrought. Co[n]cerning the famin, It is foreshe[w]ed,where I observe, I the meanes by which it was revealed to the Prophet, which was the spirit. 2, The ende why it was revealed, which was that he might signify it to ye people 2 The famin is brought, where I observe the time in which it was brought, to wit whe[n]Claudius was Emperor of Rome 2 The reason why it was brought, which is here suppressed, because Claudius [Page] himselfe (as it written) was im moderately given to excesse, and the rest of the world ready to sur feit in their diet.
Concerning the effect this fa min wrought : it caused the disci ples in Antiochia to send succor & reliefe to their brethren in Judea, which were more distressed then themselves, where I note, 1, their charitie, 2, their discretion.
Touching their charitie, I mark, 1, their charitable mind, they pur posed to send succor: 2, 2, their charita ble practise shewed two wayes.
1, They made a benevole[n]ce,which thing they also did: 2 they kept it not in their hands but sent it away, and sent it.
Concerning their charitable minde, in which they purposed to give, I observe, I the qualities of [Page] the givers in whom there was:
1 A readinesse without delay, no ted in the circumstance of the time, Assoone as the famine came, Then, &c.
2 A willingnesse, without com pulsion: they did not impose law one upon another: But eve rie man purposed.
3 The quantitie of the gift, they which had much, gave much, they which had litle, gave litle, Every man according to his abilitie.Their discretion appeareth.
1 In choosing trustie messengers who should carrie their beneuolence, as Barnabas and Saule.
2 In appointing wise men to receiue it, which might distribute to euery one, as euery one had need: They sent it to the Elders. By the spirit. The meanes by which [Page] the famin was foreshewed was the spirit of God. The prophecies in the Scripture are not of any priuate motion, men did not speak of their owne heades, but holy men of God spake as they were moued by the holy Ghost. 2. Pet. 1. 20. The prophets are called criers as Iohn Baptist. Mat. 3. 3. and criers speake nothing but that which is first put into their mouths, therefore Esay makes a noise after the maner of criers. Esay 55. 1. and heares the voyce of God saying, Crie, Esay 40. 6. And he said. VVhat shall I crie? All flesh is grasse, and all the glory thereof as the flower of the field. The voice of the Prophets is like a Trumpet. Esay 58. 1. They must set the tru~pet to their mouths Hos. 8. 1. And blow the trumpet in Zion. Ioel. 2. 1. But the breath of [Page] the Lord must blow it, otherwise it giueth but an vncertaine sound, and false alarum. There is a doore of the heart: Acts 16. 14: & a doore of the lips, Ps. 141. 3: and he which hath the key of Dauid, Reuel. 3: 7. must open the doore of the heart, and let the worde in, before the Prophet open the doore of the lips to let the worde out, Ezech. 10. 11. Therefore the Lorde teacheth Balaam what to say, and puts an answere in his mouth. Num. 23. 5. Therefore Iosua before he deliuers the matter, and telleth the children of Israel what shal come after, vseth this preface, Come hither and heare the wordes of the Lorde your God, Therfore Elihu is taught by God, before he would bee teacher to Iob: his heart did speake before his mouth. Iob 33. Therefore [Page] Ieremie must eate the words Iere. 15: 16: and Ezechiel must eate the roll wherein the prophecies are written, and then speake to the house of Israel. Ezech. 3. 1. And Iohn must take the little booke out of the angels hand, and eate it vp, and then prophecie againe among the people: Reu: 10: 10: and Agabus must be foretaught by God, and as it were eat the prophecie concerning famin, & then giue notice to the world, how litle they shal eate that God will giue them cleannes of teeth in al their riches &scarcenesse of bread in all their habitations. That which the ministers are here to learne is to deliuer nothing vnto the people, but that which they haue gathered out of Gods word: Euery minister must be a Moses,& speake al, Ex. 7: 2: he [Page]must bee an Isaac, and speake no more but all. Gen. 27. 37. e Hmus teach. 1. Tim. 4. 11. the good and right way. 1. Sa~. 12. 13. If any teach otherwise let him be accursed. Gal. 1. 8. That which I haue written saith Pilate, Iohn 19. 22. As if hee shuld say, that which I haue written truly, shall continue written without alteration. That which God hath spoken, he hath spoke once or twise. Psal. 62. 11. That hi worde might bee like the Med and Persians which altereth not Dan. 6. 12. If any man shall adde, God shall adde vnto him plagues, if any shall diminish of his worde, God shall take away his part ou of the booke of life. Reu. 22. 18.
That which the people generally are here to learn, is first in respect of the message that is brogh [Page] and doctrine which is deliuered, 1 To giue eare vnto it with diligence. That which Sarah saith, Ge. 21. 10. The scripture saith. Gal. 4. 30. That which the Prophet speketh, God speaketh by the mouth of the Prophets. Luk. 1. 70. The worde of the Apostles is the preaching of God. 1. Thes. 2. 13. The good doctrine commeth from aboue. Iob 29. 22. The people haue it from the minister, as it were at the second hande, they must not therefore doe as Samuel did, who thought the Priest called him, and so after the first, second, and thirde call, go and sleepe: but do as Samuel after did, and when we know it is the Lord that calleth vs, in token of attention, say with Samuel, Speak Lord thy seruant heareth. 1. Sa~. 3.
Lastly, God wil have Agabus reveale the Judgements he mindeth to send upon the worlde, to take from the worlde all excuse of ignorance, as if the Lorde should say, come hither Agabus, thou seest the sinne whereunto the worlde is inclining, men begin to give themselves to all kind of ryot and excesse, the drunkard makes in his body a sink the [Page] glutton a dunghill, I will deale with them as a mother doth with her childe, when once he beginneth to play with his meate, shee takes his meat from him. I wil call a famin on the land, and break the staffe of bread, men shall bee hungrie, and thirstie, their soule shall faint in them, the people shall crie for bread, and all plentie shall bee forgotten, and because the shall not say, had we knowne that thou didst mind in such grieuous sort to afflict vs, we would haue stricken our hearts with the rod of repentance, beaten downe the pleasures we delighted in, rased euill actions, corrected vntamed desires, and beene enemies to the disordred will of the soule, the amendment of our liues shoulde haue beene as Moses, and stande in [Page] the gap to turne away the wrath from vs: because, I say, they shalbe without excuse, stand vp Agabus, and signifie to them from me, the famine that is to come, tell them I wil send not a dearth, when some men may haue plentie, if they will pay deare for it, but a famine, and a great famine, like the famine of Samaria, 2. Reg. 6. when they shall not get meate for money: not in one Countrey alone, for then the plentie of one might supplie the penurie of another, but the famine shall bee generall in euerie quarter: stande vp Agabus and ell them this: let thy words be as lightning and go before, and my udgement as a thunder clap shall follow. And Agabus stoode vp and ignified by the spirit, that there should e a great famine ouer all the worlde.If [Page] God in this sort open his mouth to speake, before hee lift vp his hand to strike, let none plead ignoraunce, nor yet blame God though his iudgements fall vpo them: Let not the standers b blame the Archer, though the arrow hurt the~, when he that shooteth cries, away, away, before th arrow co~mes: for the careful for warning should haue made the preuent the daunger that was hand, which also came to pa vnder Claudius Caesar. Mans wra may be escaped by seeking refug or flying from it: but if gods wra be kindled, whither shall we fli he will find vs out in the top of highest, or bottom of the deep places in the world: Psal. 139, o whom shall we run for refuge? the woman, when the famine [Page] extreame, shall run vnto the king, saying, Help me, O Lord the king, the king himself must answere, Seeing the Lord doth not succour thee, howe should I helpe thee? 2. Reg. 27. Gods threatnings therefore must not be thought as scarcrowes, or bulbeggers, to fray children withall: for God is a sowler, and if hee settes a snare, he will not take it vp before hee takes vs in it. Amos 3. 5. If a Trumpet be blowne in the Citie, shal not the people tremble? If the Lion roare, who will not bee afrayde? But because a Lion roareth not in the Forrest, when hee hath no prey, nor a Lions Whelpe crie out of his denne, if hee haue taken nothing, nor Agabus threaten, except there be some great occasion, nor the famin come, as it doth in the time of [Page]Claudius except it bee sent for. vs a little see, what sinne especia it was, that went to call for it: was truly said of Claudius, whi was vntruly spoke~ of Christ. M 11. 19. Behold a glutton and drinker wine. If Ieroboam sinne, he make Israel to sin: if the squared ston slip downe, a number of litle on follow after. The life of the kin is a white for the Court, and nobility is an aime for the people. Lo degrees leuell at markes of high perfection: whereupon I inferr that gluttonie and drunkennes reigned at this time. Gut was th god, the pau~che was a powdrin tub, the bellie a coupe, a Poulte coupe, or rather a Noahs arke, vi tailed with I know not how manie kinde of creatures: wherevpo I note that to bee true, which is [Page]Vis. 11. 13. Wherby a man sin eth, by the same also he shall bee unished. In Iewry was God knowne, name was great in Israel, hee gaue s law vnto Iacob, his statutes and or nances vnto Israel. He had not dealt with other nations, neither had the athen knowledge of his law. But hen they despised his word, and f those that brought it beate one, illed another, stoned another, od threatned that the Kingdome f God shuld be taken from them, giuen to a nation which should ring foorth the fruits thereof. at. 21. 43. which came to passe hen the word of god was remo ed from them to the Gentils. As od did deale in the olde Church ith the Iewes, so in the newe hurch with the Ephesians, vpon hom God did shine by the light [Page]of his Gospell, and they were first glad, that the light did spri vp to them which before did siti darknesse and in the shadowe death, but when they forsoo their first loue, God threatened remoue the candlesticke out of hi place, Reue. 2. 5. & was as good his word, when hee put out the candle, which done, they fell sleep, falling sicke of sundry heresies, died at last of the plague Mahomet. As God brings a famine of his word, when men are as i were ouergorged with it: so he brings a famin of bread, when me~ prepare bread for laughter, Ec. 10. 19. when their sacietie wil not suffer them to sleepe. Ecl. 5. 11. Whe they eate the Lambes out of the flocke, and calues out of the stall, Amos 6. 4. eate vntil it come ou [Page]at their nostrils, and bee lothsome vnto the~, as it is Num. 11. 20. When men which shuld be sober are become trenchermen, not tarrying till hunger ouertake them, but preuenting it by an artificial appetite,so sawcing their meates, that they turne substance into accident, and nature into art: when me~ I say are come to this passe that their greedines knoweth no measure, and variety exceedeth all the bounds thereof, then God in token of reuenge, sends a scarcitie, that me~ shalbe glad to eate in time for strength, & not for dru~kennes, as it is Ecl. 10. 17, &do what they can their mouths shall not make their flesh to sin, as it is Eccle. 5. 5: thus was it with ye prodigal child, Luke 15. And thus with Claudius who was made Emperour [Page]of Rome, An. 42. and raigned 13. yeeres and nine moneths: of this famin speaketh Suetonius in Claud. Oros. 7. cap. 6. Thus was it with the world at this time, but the punishment being generall, I marke thy iudgements O Iudea, more then the calamitie that befalleth other natio~s, because as it appeareth ver. 7. you being before more blessed the~ other, are now more distressed then other: if thou didst sow, thou didst find the same yere an hu~dred fold in estimation, if thou sowed a little seed, but an handful of corn and that on the mountaines, nay, on the top of the mountaines, th fruite thereof did shake like th trees of Libanon, thy threshing d last vnto the vintage, and the vintage to the sowing time, the plowman did touch the mower,& the [Page]treader of grapes him that sowed the seed. When one kind of fruit was ripe another followed, and euery one in course: thou didst eate thy bread in plenteousnes, eate the old store, and carry out the old because of the new, & so didst laugh at death, because thy greatest wa~t was store. But see an alteration, thy land, this thy most fruitfull land is made barren, the meate is cut off before thine eies, ten women doo bake their bread at one Ouen, and deliuer thy bread by weight: if thou sowest the seede of an Homer, which is 100. pottles, it yeelds but an Epha, which is but 10. pottles, thou hast but 10. of ye 100. & loose the principall, thou dost gage out thy la~ds, thy vineyards, thy houses because of ye famine, & dost howle for the wheate and the barly, because [Page]the haruest of the fielde i perished: but let me tarry a little it our own land, & leaue Iudea till I come to it in the verse following: God embraced our land so kindly, that we suckt the sap of wealth fro~ branche and roote. The fruit of our ground was blessed, for God crowned ye yeere with his goodnesse, the Lord did heare the heauens when they desired raine for the earth, the heauens did heare the earth, the earth did heare the corne, & the corn did heare man, and that same blessing did come vpo~ vs which god promised to Israel, Thou shalt lend to other nations but shalt not borrow of any. Deu. 28. 1 but of late, specially this last yeere, the ground hath not yeelded unto us her strength, Bashan is wasted and Carmell and the flower of Lebanon is wasted, Gods creature [Page]haue bin deafe, because God himselfe hath bin as one that heareth not, so ye we haue bin constrained to borrow of other natio~s, but are not able to lende any. Thus God hath punished the seed of our soile for the sin of our soule, & because our folly hath bin in the blossom, our fruit hath not budded out of the earth. Sodome was destroied, but fulnes of bread a sin of Sodom, still continued, men haue farced their bodies & starued their souls: nature is not the Cater, frugalitie the pursebearer, not hunger the cooke to assigne the diet. There was but one Bel God but many belly gods, which haue said in effect with the Epicures, Let vs eate and drink, for to morrow we must die. Quaffing hath bin the only grace: men haue misspent their time in bibing &shaking ha~ds ouer their [Page]licour profoundly, carowsed hunters hope, drowned th soules in a gallon pot, made th bellies quagmires, & their brea to smell like brewers aprons, th haue loued the wine bottels, a is Hos. 3. 1. made themselues sic with flagons. Hos. 7. 5. drinke wi in bowles, Amos 6. 6. &transgre by it. Hab. 2. 5. In Assuerus time the chaunged vessell after vessell an dranke wine in aboundance. H 19. but they dranke by an order none might compell: but sinc they drink without order, enforc one another, giue their neighbo drinke, and make him dronke also, as Hab. 2. 15. Sette thy foote to mine and drinke to the soule of such a body, and the health of my lord or Lady, and by drinking to healths they drink themselues out [Page]of health, they doo carrowse it, hich they say is a Dutch worde, nd the English of it may be this, drinke all the drinke out of the ot, al the money out of his purse, l the wit out of the head, and all e honestie out of the bodie, and at is a clean carrowse. These fel wes if they may haue the but er, care not though (as it falleth ut, Gen. 40. 22.) the baker be han ed vp. Thus because men, as hough they had the earmarke of eprobates follow the same sinnes with full saile, to which Claudius nd other in the world had bound hemselues apprentises, no maruel hough now also the Lord dooth vse the like corection. Miserie co~meth not forth of the dust, neither doth affliction spring out of the earth. Iob. 5. 6. but our fruitful land [Page]is made barren for the wickedne of them that dwell therein. Ps. 10 [...] 34. The earth our mother is out of heart, dead and barren as the wombe of Sarah, & God hath so rotted the seed, pinched the blade, shaken the eare, that it hath not answered our expectation, neither vnder the flaile, in the mill, in the dough, or in the ouen,& that curse is come vpon vs, which Iob speaketh of cap. 31. 40: for thistles grow in stead of wheate, and cocle in stead of barley. In the ninth of Matt. ver. 37. The haruest is great, but the labourers are fewe, the Lorde there speaketh by way of comparison, comparing the number of the elect to a plentifull haruest. But to speake simply of our tyme, the haruest is small, and the labourers are many: small, I say, [Page]for though the mower hath filled his armes, & he that bound vp the sheaues his bosome, yet the yeelding hath not bin like the increase of other yeares. Speake by way of comparison, and pray the Lord of the haruest to send forth labourers into haruest. Matt. 9. 38. but speake simply, and pray the Lord of the haruest to sende forth a plentifull haruest for the labourers to bring into the barne: and if we see that our praier goeth vp, & Gods mercy commeth downe, that our land bring forth her wonted increase, then sinne no more, least a worse thing happen vnto thee. Iohn: 5. 14 Let vs hereafter vse sobrietie, not liue to eate, but eate to liue, and taking our portion fitte for nourishment, content our selues with it: since Iob speaketh of appointed [Page]food, Iob. 23. 12. and since natu is content with litle, & grace witlesse, let vs bee measurable of fe eding, measurable in drinking, rather of too sparing, then of too liberall a diet: and thus much of th famin fore shewed to Agabus, b means of the spirit, to the end th hee might signifie the same vn the people, & brought in the dai of Claudius, because of exces The effects follow.
Where shall you finde an Agabus, a Patron like Abraham, that beares such an heroical mind, that hee will not take so much as a threed or a shoo-latchet of Melchizedech, Gene.14. 23? Where shall you find a David, a patrone like David who wil bridle his affection [Page]and though he be ouercome with thirst, yet will not drinke of the water brought vnto him, if it bee fetcht with the venture of blood? 2. Sam. 23. 16. Where shall you finde a Peter, a patron like Peter, who, if Simon offer mony, will be at defiance with him, and say, Thy mony perish with thee. Act. 8. 20? Where shall you find such a patron as was Henry the fourth, who when some offred golden mountaines, other great booties, out of the Abbey landes, other more seruice to the common wealth then was accustomed for the Abbey of Fulde, called vnto him one Ruzelin, a Monke, who came to the Court about the businesse of his house, at the commaundement of the Abbot, and neuer dreamed of any such thing, and putting the [Page]pastorall staffe in his hands, first named him Abbot, and prayed the rest both Souldiers Monks,& to consent to his election. I condemne not all, I knowe there be manie good men which preferre the giftes of the minde, before the gifts of the purse, which mislike the bishop that is a Balaam, the patrone that is a Iudas, the minister that is a Magus, which quickelie cast them off that come farre, and bring golde with them, because the celestiall shining starre refuse to bee their guide, & among those let the right honourable the Lord Keeper that nowe is, haue the chiefest place, who regarding more Simon Peters preaching, then Simon Magus bagge, singles out such to bestowe preferments vpon them, which haue of good [Page]continuance beene brought vp in Naioth, I meane the schooles and Vniuersities, which were first planted to bee nurseryes of Prophets. 1. Sam. 19: 20. If patrones would fetch their light from this Torch, and patronesses take their woorke out of this Sampler, then shoulde men bee gyuen to dignities, not dignityes to men, then oh, then howe well would it bee with our Church?
If thou considerest the constitution of thy bodie,and see that GOD hath given thet strength to labour and take paine,and that thou risest while it is yet night,and girdest thy loynes,nad in the morning sowest thy feede,and in the evening suffrest not thy had to rest,yet trust not too much in thy labour for it may be thou shalt even wearie thy selfe forverie vanitie,sow the wind,and reap the whilewind,for thou seest many rise up early,&late take rest,&eat y bread of carefulnes, yet they never thrive,for neither is he that [Page]pla~teth any thing, nor he that watreth, but god that giueth increase 1. Cor. 3. 7. Therfore Iacob though hee had taken great paines, yet ascribeth nothing to his labour, but all to Gods blessing. Gen. 30. 30. If thou art in health, and hast a good appetite to thy meat, and thy table furnished with all maner of cates, trust not too much in the vanitie of thy dishes. for he that can make Daniel fat in flesh, and in good lyking with pulse and water, Dan. 1. 15. can kindle his wrath against Israel, while the flesh is yet betweene their teeth. Num. 11. 33. or it goeth downe, hee can vtterly breake the staffe of bread, giue men their desire, but send leannes withall into their soule, the Floore, and the Winepresse shall not feede them, they shall eate [Page]but not haue inough, drink& not be filled: and they shalbe as 7: euill fauoured kine in Pharohs dreame, which were still lean though they had deuoured the fat kine, & like the thin eares which were still withered, thin, and blasted with the East wind, though they had eate vp the fuller corne. Gen. 41. Therfore the Prophet affirming that a things wait on God for meat, saith God filleth them not with bread but with blessing. Psa. 124. 28. fo it is not the bread of it selfe, tha nourisheth, but the grace of th word infused into it: as it is not th running water it selfe that helpe the disease, but the vertue of th hearbs that are boiled in it: If Go ha h punished thee with sicknes honor the Phisition. The Iewe were to blame who though the [Page]would not esteeme Christ as God, yet ought to make some reckning of him, because he cured so manie diseases. Luke 4. 40. but trust not too much in earthly Phisitio~s, for the woman may spend all she hathvpon phisitians,& not be the better, but the worse. Mat: 5: 26. And Galienus the Emperor wil giue his phisicion Fabatus a sum of mony, not for that hee had cured him of the Sciatica, but because he should no more medle with him. If thou hast frie~ds, trust not in thy friends, let not man trust in man, and make flesh his arme, and withdraw his heart fro~ the Lord. Ier: 17: 5. let not Israel trust in Egypt, the Egyptia~s are men, and not God: Is: 31: 3: and as a broke~ reed which wil run into their ha~d if they lea~ vpo~ it: trust not in thy horses, they are flesh, [Page]and not spirite, Esay. 31. 3. a vaine thing to saue a man. Psal. 33. 17. Do not sacrifice to thy net, Hab. 1. 16. Stick not with the rich man: Luk. 12. 19 to thy wealth, Much goods for many yeares. Leane not vpon thy house it shall not stand: do not hold thee fast by it, it shall not endure, but be as the house of a Spider, which is to day & to morrow swept away, Iob. 8. 14. Do not promise to thy self plenty, if thou hast a fatte soile, for Iudea in this place whose very hils, & tops of mountains were very fruitfull, Ioel, 3. 18 is made so barren, that other places must send succour to it: commonly the clay dooth serue the sand, but of late yeares, the sande hath serued the Clay, and our Dorcetshire, and other drie countreyes haue beene some stay to [Page]farre more fruitfull places. Our God can blesse his curses, hee can make Colloquintida ranke poyson to nourish the children of the prophets, 2. Reg. 4. 40. Hee can make our daies to be light, and the same God can curse his blessings. Mal. 2. 2. make our meate to be poison, our table a snare, our prosperitie our ruine, turne out light into darknesse, our life into death: and can turne the Wildernesse into pooles of water, and the drie land into watersprings, can also turne the flouds into a wildernesse, and the springs of water into drinesse, and Iudea a fruit full land into saltnesse and barrennesse, for the wickednesse of them that dwell therin. When therefore we haue al the meanes which might serue any way to do vs good, our best way [Page]is to spread handes abroade before the Lord, as Iacob doth, Gen. 43. 14. Hesiodus will haue the husbandman lay his hand vpon the plough taile, there he must vse the meanes: hee will haue him further to make his vowes to Iupiter and Ceres, before hee ploweth or putteth in his seede: there must hee pray God to blesse the meanes. In warres Ioshua must muster his men and sette them in array, and stretch out the speare in his hand, Ios. 8. this is to vse the meanes: hee must further remember, the name of the Lord his God, Psa. 2. 8. that he may blesse the meanes. When the waues threaten the shippe, lette the marriners cutte the ropes and cast anchor, Acts 27. 30. there is the meanes of safetie, and further with the disciples crie helpe Lord, [Page]Mat. 8. 25. a prayer for safetie. Oyle was much vsed in Palestina, and counted medicinable, Mar. 6. 13. Luke 10. 34. Therefore the Elders when they visited the sicke must vse oyle, and as well praier as oile, Iames 5, 14. if thou art hungerbit, knowe the Disciples go to buye meate, Ioh. 4. 8. but knowe againe that Christ blesseth the meat, Mat. 14. 19. by the first learne to receiue Gods creatures as a meanes to refresh thy bodie, by the latter, to begin thy meale with praier, and end it with thanksgiuing: if thou had bad or leane grounde, as it is Num. 13, 21. good it with thy pot or with thy fold, fallow it, twifallow it, bring it into heart, husband it in the best manner, make it as fat as this Iudea, yet for al this because it is in God to choose whether it [Page]shal yeeld a curse or a blessing, thistles or wheate, cockle or barly; in this and so in al other thy actions, let this bee as it were the foote of thy song, Prosper thou vpon vs the worke of our hands O Lord, prosper thou our handie worke.
Euery man according to his abilitie. In euery thing a golden meane is a good vertue, running past the goale for slownesse, exceeding brightnesse dazeleth the sight, aa well as darkenesse obscureth the obiect: if gifts be too big, then as thou a waster, if they be too small, then art thou a niggard. When the tabernacle is made, the rich bring golde and siluer, the meaner sort brasse and gifts of lesse value, Ec. 25, 4. When the Israelites giue cities to the Leuites, euery Tribe must giue according to his inheritance, Num. 35. 8: Rich men cast great gifts into the treasurie, but the poore widow but two mites, [Page] Luk. 21. 1. In this place the disciples which haue much, giue much, they which haue litle, giue of that little. We say not, giue as we giue Mat. 6. 11. but forgiue as we forgiue. ver. 12. for we may and must alwaies forgiue. Giue alwaies we need not, nor cannot: and when facultie can stretch no further, good will is taken in good part, he that doth what he can, can shewe no greater liberalitie. Grand enemies of this beneuolence, are couetousnesse and prodigalitie: the couetous man is like churlish Naball, who will not giue a piece of bread to succour king Dauid. 1. Sam. 25. 11. he himselfe wanteth as well that he hath, as that he hath not: & how can the greedy mind carie any disposition to spend vpo~ [Page] other, since hee counts that are which he bestoweth vpo~ himself. The prodigall man on the other side, because he hath suffered superfluous expences to surmount his reuenewes, is co~pelled by necessitie to take from others, hee is not as a litle spring ru~ning always, but standing vpon reputation, lauisheth and lasheth for a time, and is drie in the end as those brookes Iob. 6. 16. To auoid these extremities lay not vp without measure, lauish not withhout meane.
Sic vteretuo, vt alieno non indigeas, In such sort guide that which is thine owne, that thou needest not beg of another? Sin not against others by giuing too litle: sin not against thy self by giuing too much: God giueth riches, let not couetousnesse hoord them vp: let not [Page] prodigalitie cast them away, but let liberalitie bestow them according to euery mans abilitie.
And sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saule. What more delightfull to the eare then good musicke? what more vnpleasant then much noise, & no concord? what more acceptable before god or profitable before man the~ good orders, daily & duly obserued: the disciples therfore thogh they are bountifull in giuing, yet will not haue euery one be his owne caruer, catch & latch what he ca~, but wil haue the elders, the gouernors of the church called elders, of their age (among who~ the apostles had the chiefest place) vnder whom the deacons were appointed for this businesse. Act. 6, 3. to deale as they think co~uenient in the distribution,[Page]to be as Ioseph. Ge. 41. 5. &opening the places wherein the store is, deliuer it out to hunge sterued souls. And besides, to shew that prouision for the poore is a matter of no small account, they make choise of such men to carrie their beneuole~ce, as were of verie good estimation: Barnab as a good man, & full of the holy ghost and faith: Act: 11: 24, and Saul a worthy seruant of God, a chosen vessel to beare gods name before the Gentils, Act: 9: 15. & those like the doue which Noah sent out of the ark. Ge: 8, 9: hauing fulfilled their office, returned again fro~ Ierusale~, and are now gone vp to the high & heauenly Ierusalem, whither he graunt we may ascend which did spend his blood for vs. To whom with the father, &