Three Christian Sermons
made by Lodovike Lavatere, Minister of
Zuricke in Helvetia, of Famine and
Dearth of Victuals:
And translated into English, as beeing ue-
rie fit for this time of our Dearth:
By W. Barlow Bachelar in
‘Who can cause to cease the bottles of heauen? Iob. 38.37 , euen he that saith to the smal raine, and to the showers of his power, Be vpon the earth, Iob. 37.6.’ ‘He called for a Dearth vpon the land, and brake the staffe and prouision of bread, Psal. 105.16. euen for the wickednesse of them that dwell therein.Psal. 107.34.’
Printed by Thomas Creede.
PUBLISHED BY Thomas Creede
IT was thought good by your Grace, whose thoughts are euer good towarde the Church of GOD, that these Sermons of Lauatere shuld be vulgarly translated, to the end that all sorts among vs, might in this time of Dearth, be directed to know both the proper cause, and the right vse of this Iudgement: because for the most part in such distresses, which is our corrupt nature, we are accustomed, saith [Page] Nazianzene, [...], either to account of them lightly, or to laie them to Gods charge foolishly. Iob. 1.22. Wherein, as your Grace doth shew your faithful care, as of the High Steward ouer God his familie, to see that the Houshold haue their meate giuen them, Luc. 12.42 not only [...] in their iust portion, but also [...], in due season, which is Saint Paul his rule, that the foode ministred vnto them, be both seasoned and seasonable, and a point of as much learning as discretion, Esa. 50.4. in Esay his iudgement, to haue a word in time for him that is wearie: these being the two principall effects desired from Pulpet Diuinitie, the one Ne scandalizemus, by our offences not to prouoke Gods iudgements: the other, Ioh. 16.1. Ne scandalizemur, not to be offended when God doth iudge vs: so withall, your Grace doth imitate the examples of the Ancient Fathers and Doctors of the Church, especially those which were [...], and popular, who taking Saint Pauls counsell in applying themselues to the Time, Rom. 12.11. preached vnto their auditories, For so I reade it, , not as some doo, . according to Chrysostomes aduice, not only [...], points profitable to the persons present, but also [...], thinges proper to the occasions offred, [Page] that so their Sermons might be, to vse saint Austen his wordes, both Commodi and accommodi, as well fitting the Occurrents, as profiting the Hearers. In Nazianzene his time there was a Dearth, much like to ours at this instant, not [...], through the barrennesse of the ground, but [...], the destruction of the corne, the hope whereof, in the beginning of the yeare, through the goodly seede-time, and temperate Winter, made mens hearts to leape for ioy, and the Barnes, as it were, to enlarge themselues for the receipt of this promised plentie: but on the suddaine, [...], that which the distilling dewe of Heauen had comforted, and brought foorth, the showers immoderate and continuall vtterlie rotted and corrupted, whereof though the Sheaues filled the Mowers hand, and the Gleaners lap; yet did they not answer either the threshers labour, or the owners measure: vpon which so vnexpected calamitie, olde Gregory the father was amazedly silent, for deepest conceyued griefes are not easily vttered: but Nazianzene his Sonne, in the zeale of Gods glorie, in care of the people [Page] thus distressed, and in discharge of his owne function, in a solemne Sermon, appointed of purpose, enquired into the causes, which brought on, and shewed the meanes howe to turne away this iudgement. The like did Basil in the like case of Dearth, but vnlike to that and ours in respect of the seconde causes: this in his time comming of a long drought, ours of neuer ceasing raine: then the heaue~ being as he speaketh [...], Caelum nudum sudum. cleare and cloudlesse: but the Skie ouer vs, [...], lowring and Sunlesse. Which though forreiners and trauailers account no straunge thing in our land, being an Iland compassed with the Sea, and therefore Tacitus sayth, we haue alwayes Triste caelum, and others in their iollitie haue reported, that they could neuer salute the Sunne in England, (happily they stayed as little a while in the land, as he did in his office, Qui somnum non vidit in consulatu, or came at that time of the yeare when Vatinius was Consul in Rome, Macro. Sat. lib. 2. cap. 3. when there was neyther Winter, Summer, Spring, nor Autumne: or perhaps loued their beds as well as he, who neuer sawe the Sunne rising or setting.) Yet who so obserued our heauie heauens this [Page] present yeare, the like not remembred by any man liuing, by any record remayning, if he sauour of any religion, he cannot ascribe it either to the Climate, or inclination of our Skie, or to the Vicinitie of the sea, but crie out as they did Exod. 8.19. This is the finger, if not the heauie hand of God. The practise of these Bishops, and perhaps their copies, did this learned man Lauatere follow, in framing of purpose three Sermons proportionable to the number of yeares wherein his countrey Switzerland was oppressed with Dearth: which, when to them nothing can bee added, that may concerne either christian policie to preuent, or spirituall comfort and instruction to indure, or turne off that Affliction, and for the proportion of time answering to our Dearth, the price of thinges, for these three yeares successiue, expressely inhaunced, I, by your Graces authoritie and commaundement, haue divulgated to the benefit of our people. If any profite arise thereby, which was your Graces intent, and my endeuour next vnto God, let the thankes redounde wholie to your Grace, being the first & only motion therof. My desert is nothing, such [Page] a taske as this requiring not much labour, nor anie learning. Plat. M . As Socrates once saide, [...], my guerdon is sufficient, if in a greater imployme~t any labor of mine, within my ability and strength, may increase that your gracious fauour, which hitherto your Grace hath vndeseruedly vouchsafed mee. And so with my humble and hearty praiers to God for your Graces health, I leaue your Grace to him who neuer leaueth his.
In Page 54. line 7. for Psalme, reade Verse.
Ibidem, line 14. for Psalme, reade Verse.
In Page 56. line 1. for Psalme, reade Verse.
26 When heauen shalbe shut vp, and there shall bee no raine, because they haue sinned against thee, and shall pray in this place, and confesse thy Name, and turne from their sinne, when thou doest afflict them:
27 Then hear thou in heauen, and pardon the sin of thy seruants, and of thy people Israel (when thou hast taught them the good way wherin they may walke) and giue raine vpon thy land, which thou hast giuen vnto thy people for an inheritance.
28 When there shall be famine in the land, when there shalbe pestilence, blasting, or mildeaw, when there shalbe grashopper, or caterpiller, when their enemy shall besiege them in the cities of their land, or any plague or any sicknesse:
29 Then what prayer and supplication soeuer shall be made of any man, or of all thy people Israel, when euery one shal know his owne plague, and his owne disease, and shall stretch foorth his handes toward this house:
30 Hear thou then in heauen, thy dwelling place, and be mercifull, and giue euery man according vnto all his wayes, as thou doest know his heart (for thou onely knowest the hearts [...] the children of men).
31 That they may feare thee, and walke in thy waies as long as they liue, in the land which thou gauest vnto our fathers.
SAlomon a King both for wisedom & Religion most renowmed, hauing built & finished the temple of Ierusalem, co~secrated it vnto God with his deuout and earnest prayers, in the presence of all the people. [Page 3] Wherein first hee commendeth and setteth out God his Omnipotencie, 2. Parts of Prayers. . Basil. his truth and mercie: then he requesteth that God wold make good vnto him the promises made to his father Dauid, and also make knowne his presence in that temple so holy, so glorious, and appointed for his woorship, by hearing the deuoute prayers of the faithfull, which in that place should call vpon him. Particularly, hee nameth sixe or seuen kindes of Calamities, from which it might please the Almightie to deliuer that people crying vnto him in that place. Of these, the third is Drought, to Iewry of all other Countries most pernicious, so that his request is, that if in this distresse they desired Raine, it might be giuen them. The fourth is Famine, Dearth of Victuals, Pestilence, diuers and vncouth diseases, spoyle of Corne, siege of Cities, or any other like kind of distresses, in which hee desireth both God [Page 4] his attention to their praiers, and deliuery from those plagues. But leauing the particulars which are in this praier to be obserued, our purpose is, by Gods assista~ce, to intreat more largely of Dearth & Famin, a plague, which for these many yeres not the wicked onely for their punishment, but the godly also haue for their trial felt, being alike greeuous and burthensome to all sorts: and it is feared least in this so great scarcitie of all things, in this age so giuen ouer both to couetousnesse and riot, that the price of victualls will yet arise and encrease, vnlesse our earnest repentance preuent God his wrathe. Our heauenlie Father vouchsafe to deale with vs not after our desertes, but according to his vnmeasurable mercie. But that yee may vnderstand mee in this whole discourse more fully and plainlie,
The Diuision. Diuision. 1. I will shew from whence commeth this plague of Dearth & Famine, [Page 5] namely from God his iudgement.
2 How dreadfull a plague it is.
3 Why God doth chastise the world with this scourge.
4 How rich and poore should behaue themselues in this time of Famine, both at home and abroad.
Lastly, howe God promiseth his chosen, not only to preserue them in it, but also to turne it from them.
In the words of Dearth and Famine, How dearth and famine differ. ther is found but very small differe~ce. Dearth is that, when all those thinges which belong to the life of man, for example, meate, drinke, apparell, lodging, and other thinges, are rated at a high price. Famine is, when all these before named, are not to bee got for money, though there bee store of money.
Indeede this distinction riche men finde: but the poore and needie feele no difference betweene Dearth and Famine. For they in the greatest [Page 6] plentie of victualls wanting money, are forced to starue and to pine with hunger. There are two sorts of Famin or Dearth: The kindes hereof. vniuersal, when in al countries or most there is scarcitie of corn: Particular, when as any one village, city, or country, is punished that way. Now as all other calamities are sent from God, so this of Dearth & Famin. For God in his lawe expresly threatneth his people with this plague, for disobedience to his word. Leuit. 26. he speaketh in this sort, verse 14. If ye will not obey nor doo my commaundements but despise my lawes: verse. 16. you shall sowe your seede in vaine. Verse. 19. I will make my heauen yron & your earth brasse. Verse. 26. I will breake the staffe of your bread, the~ ten women shal bake your bread in one ouen, & they shall deliuer your bred again by waight, & ye shal not be satisfied. Deu. 28. He is more large in this kind: Verse. 15. If you wil not heare the voyce of the Lord your God to keepe and doo all his [Page 7] commandements, all these curses shall surprise and ouertake thee: Cursed shalt thou be in the Citie, and cursed in the field: cursed shall thy barne be, and thy store: cursed shall be the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flockes of thy sheepe, vers. 33. The fruit of thy land, and al thy labors, shall a people which thou knowest not, eate: verse 38. Thou shalt carrie out much seede into the field, and shalt gather but little in: for the Grashoppers shall destroy it. Thou shalt plant a Vineyard, and dresse it, but shalt neither drinke of the wine, nor gather the Grapes, for the wormes shall eate it. Who so readeth the writings of the Prophets, shall meet with manie testimonies (some of them in their place we will repeate) wherby God threatneth his people, that vnlesse they repent, hee will withdraw their wine, oile, fruits of trees, fish, flesh, and other thinges which belong to the sustentation of mans life. Amos 4.6. Saith the Lord, I haue giuen vnto [Page 8] you cleannesse of teethe in all your Cities, and scarcenesse of bread in all your places, yet haue you not returned vnto me, sayth the Lord. I haue smitte~ you with blasting, and mildew, & haue caused it to raine vpon one Citie, and not vpon another, &c. Which scripture is an euident demo~stration, that God sendeth the scarcitie of all things necessarie for mans life, and that he openeth and shutteth the clouds at his pleasure. And if God should not send it, his seruaunts the Prophets could not by his instinct set downe the time so exactly (as in both the Testaments they doe) when it should come, howe long it shoulde last, when it should cease, and other thinges of lesse account then these, which the wisdome of man can of it selfe neither foresee, nor conceiue. Ioseph. Gen. 41.25. by expounding Pharaos dreame of the seuen fat and leane kine, and of the seuen full and emptie eares, foreshewed from God seuen [Page 9] plentifull, and so manie barren yeares. Elizeus prophesied of the like number yeares of famine. 2. Reg. 8.. In the new Testament, Agabus the Prophet by the breath of Gods spirit, foretold of an vniuersall famine ouer the whole world. Acts. 11.28. which fell out true in the raigne of Claudius Caesar. These things it pleased God to reueale to his faithfull seruants, that in due time they might prouide for themselues, least afterward to the disgrace of the name of Christians, they should be forced to seek for sustina~ce from the Paganish infidell. True it is that wee reade of some Astrologers, which haue foretold both of plenty, and scarcitie to come: among the rest Thales, as Diogenes Laettius recordeth, was accused that through giuing him selfe wholly to the studie of Philosophie, hee neglected his familie and priuate gaine, wherevppon hauing by naturall causes foreseen that there [Page 10] should be the next yeare following a great scarcitie of oile, he ingrossed into his hands for that present yeare all the Oliue Gardens, so that in the dearth he sold Oile at what price hee list himselfe. Whereby hee shewed that Philosophie will serue for the enriching of a man, if he will so employ it. Notwithstanding this, and the like predictions of starre-gasing diuiners, howsoeuer they argue a possibilitie, yet no necessitie of truth, hauing oft times beene taken tardie. For God is not bound to these second causes, but eftsoones bringeth to passe many things besides, and contrarie to the course of nature, so that there is much difference betweene the foretellings of the holy Prophets, and the co~iectures of these Welkin Wisards, Almanacke makers. whose Prognostications of euerie yeares warres, diseases, heate, colde, drought, moysture, grounded vpon no certaintie, proue either manifest [Page 11] vntruthes, or coniecturall ghesses, most vncertaine conclusions, most certaine collusions. (So that one of their owne late Prophets, as beeing guiltie of their mockeries, hath very fitlie prefixed before his yearely false oracles, I would say Almanacks, that speech of Dauid, for the front verse of his calculations: Let God be true, and euerie man a liar.) No doubt there is otherwise good vse of the Ephemerides or Almanackes, by them to knowe the motion of the Moone, with set feastes, and other things of like kinde: as for the rest of the contentes, they are like vnto them that make them, alwayes certaine in their vncertaintie. Husbandmen also haue their kind of obseruations, foretelling of tempests, & winds through the whole yeare, the assurance wherof is (as wee commonly speake) but Hit I misse I: sometimes true, verie often false. For God being the Lord of [Page 12] nature, ruleth as himselfe pleaseth, without, yea, and against the rules of nature. To which power Salomon respecting, requesteth of God, that if in time of Famin, the people being assembled, should pray for plentie, it wold please him so to crosse or order those second causes, that the present plague might be remoued. Which, if it shuld come rather by casuall accidents, then by diuine ordinance, should not need the vse of praiers, were it neuer so extreame. And what else meant God himselfe, Leuit. 23.10. commaunding his people of Israel, that the day after the Inning of the corne, they shoulde bring a shease for an offering to the Lord, and shake it before him, and after that, it was lawful for them to eat bread of new wheate? And againe in the feast of Pentecost, two loaues of their new corne, for a first fruits vnto the Lord. vers. 17. In the Autumne also, the like vse in the feast of Tabernacles: [Page 13] verse 39. then by all these ceremonies to teach them, that plentie ariseth not by mans labour, sweate, or industrie, but of Gods blessing onely, and therefore he alone to be thanked, both for Haruest, and Vintage, and alone to bee praied vnto, to preserue the corne, both on the ground, and in the barn, and withal to know how to vse those blissings to Gods glorie, and their owne good. For this is the right vse, saith Saint Paule, 1. Tim. 4.4. of Gods creatures, to sanctifie them by praier and thankes-giuing. From whe~ce ariseth that Christian order of Grace before & after meales, Grace at meales. [which custome not to vse, I take it to bee rather brutish, then heathenish; for eeuen among the Heathen, as Quintilian witnesseth, it was duly and dayly obserued: and amongst vs neuer so vsually omitted, til that same Cupchallenging profession came into our land, wherein manie, drinking to Health, [Page 14] drinke themselues out of Health, and Reason, out of Wealth and Religion.] Furthermore, if God please to punish the world with famine and penurie, it is not hard for him to doo it, who hath them at his becke as we our seruants and attendants. So in the 2. of Kings the 8. Psal. 105. and else where it is saide, that he calleth for a famine, and it commeth, though there bee great hope of plentie: againe he calleth for corne, and it shall come. Eze. 36.29. though no expected helpe for prouision. Hence is that of Saint Paul in the 4. to the Rom. he calleth things that are not, as though they were: such is the power of God. It hath beene found by experience, that both Sommer and Haruest haue answered our desires, both through the plentifull encrease vppon the ground, and through the commodious housing into the barne, insomuch that there hath been great hope of abundance, [Page 15] as well of hay and corne, as other fruits, and so the price to be resonable and lowe, and yet on the sudden beyond all expectation, the yeeld hath failed, and the price bene enhanced, our sinnes prouoking God to curse our plentie, as it fell out in the yeares 1525. 30.31. In Heluetia, and this yeare 1596. with vs in England. Againe, on the contrarie, in the greatest feare of scarcitie, it hath pleased him to turne it from vs aboue all hope, to the effecting of both which, he hath manie and diuerse meanes. The earth of it self bringeth forth no fruit, except such as the curse forceth. Diuers meanes by which Famine Famine commeth: commeth: Gene. 3.18. yea though it be diligently tilled and manured, yet the blessing of GOD which onely maketh it fruitfull and profitable must be expected. For neither he that planteth is any thing, nor hee that watereth, but God which giueth the increase. 1. Corin. 1.3. The land of Israel in olde time a moste fertile and lustie [Page 16] ground, in our age they which come from thence, report it to be verie barren and wilde almost. In many countreys which are verie fruitfull, sometimes but fewe fieldes are tilled for feare of bordering enemies, oftimes no fielde nor vineyard at all husbanded or dressed: for in long continued wars husbandrie is impeached, husbandmen either miserably slaine, or carried captiue into other Countries, vines, trees, corne, burnt and consumed, heards and flockes of cattle and sheepe perish, or are driuen away, and if peace ensue, yet these losses must needes leaue behinde them a great Dearth of victuals. If the Pestilence be rise, there must needes follow a Famine: for these two are such felow like companions, that the Grecians distinguish them but by one letter, calling the Pestilence [...], [...]. and the Famine [...]. Albeeit the Husbandman labour neuer so surely, yet [Page 17] is hee often frustrate of his hope in corne, the frost may nippe it, the heate may scorch it, great raines may drown it, the winde may laie it, many times the yeares prooue vnseasonable: in our time wee may remember, that on Midsommer day we haue beene faine to vse bathes and stoues against the extremitie of colde, and on new yeares day againe, wee haue dyned abroad in our Tarrises and open Galleries for the great heate: this is not mans but Gods dooing, who hath the alteration of times in his owne power: besides this, the climate of the Countrey may woorke much in the soyle. Iewry being a hotte Region, a drought dooth quickly burne the corne: In Heluetia or Switzerland, the hotter and drier the sommer, the Countrey is the more fruitfull, for it is hillie continually, hauing snow on the Alpes, cooled with springes and riuers, so that the Region beeing [Page 18] most temperate, heate lesse hurteth it.
In so much that it is saide in that Countrey in a common Prouerbe, Their children are neuer Sunne-burnt, [of the like nature is England, thogh not of the like situation, for it hath beene obserued, and is still kept for a rule, that a Drought in Englande, neuer breedeth Dearth, for when the sand helpeth the clay, then Englande cryes weale-away. There are ouer and besides these, manye other thinges which annoy both corne and trees, as mildeawes, blastings, field-mice, Locusts, Palmer, and canker wormes, Weasiles, and such like Vermine: the frost also burneth the knots and buddes of Trees, for whiche it is compared in the Psal. 147.16: to burning ashes. The Southwest and Northren windes, and also thicke and duskish cloudes, choake and kill the blossomes, and the vnripe fruites of [Page 19] trees, and it falleth out oft, that in the prime of the yeare, the young leaues are eaten away, and the bough left as seared & bare as a drie broome, and if frute decaie, there must needs bee a penurie of bread: for in our Countrey, fruite is counted the best sustenaunce and the staffe of bread. When our Infantes crie for bread, wee can easilye please and satisfie them with an Apple or Peare: but when fruites fayle vs, then what remaines? an Apple beeing solde as deare as the waight thereof in bread. Our auncestours were woont to say, that if the wood, that is, trees and vines, did vnderprop the corne, it was a signe of a plentifull yeare: for bread and frute is our principall nourishment. But of all other, Locusts. the greatest enemies to corne in many Countries are Locustes. And Grashoppers, of whiche both Scriptures and prophane stories maketh so often [Page 20] mention, somtime seen so thick in the aire, that they haue darkned the Sun, and lighting on the earth, they haue couered at once many acres of grou~d, deuouring all the fruite within that compasse, vppon which losse hath followed alwayes extreame Famine, and oft times also a dreadfull Pestilence: one example yee haue in the tenth of Exodus, of the hurt they did in Egipt, Plinie writeth, that in the Countrey of Cyrene, open warre was proclaimed against them, first to destroy their egges, then their yoong ones, and then the Locustes themselues: Saint Iohn in his Reuelation, compareth the troupe of Monkes to the Locusts, not onely for their huge number, but for their vnsatiable rauening and deuouring, what by encroaching and importunitie they can get. Ioel. 2.25. calleth the Locusts Gods Great Armie, for though they bee but little in sight, yet no humaine [Page 21] force can resist them, when God sendeth them: sooner an armie of men may bee discomfited, then they destroyed. With them was Heluetia plagued, in Anno. 1364. and Belgium, 1548. and in Polonia, 1335. In the raigne of Cassimer the seconde, such an huge company of Locustes appeared so dense and thick, that the Sunne coulde not be seene. And falling to the ground, they laie so thick, that they couered the horse footelockes as they were feedyng: after which, followed a wonderfull Dearth. And so againe in Anno. 1542. they oppressed both Polonia and Silesia, in so greate heapes, that the inhabitants, though in vaine, went about to scare them away with the ringing of belles, sound of trumpettes, and ringing of basons. As great hurt also hath beene done to the frutes of the earth, Hayle. both by haile, sometime falling from heauen as big [Page 22] as Hennes Egges, killing vnder them both man and beast: examples are not scarce in that kinde, lamentable and late experiences doo confirme it: as also by stormes, tempestes, whirlewindes, and invndations, either rotting the seede, or pinching the blade, or shaking the eares of corne, and ouerturning sometimes whole trees. Causes no doubt both of priuate and publique Famine.
But heere wee meete with a question often discussed and muche debated, both by learned men and Idiottes: Whether Sorserers or Witches, Faries or Spirites, Whether Coniurers can raise stormes? (call them by what name you will) can raise anie tempests, or bring downe such Hayle as wee oft see?
To which we aunswere with a distinction, that as they haue some, so they haue no absolute nor selfe sufficient power to hurt, for euen [Page 23] Sathan himselfe (whose power otherwise is great, whose bondslaues and vassalles these wretched varlets are) cannot hurt either man or beast, either how or when him list, much lesse these accursed slaues of his, can haue the ayre and windes at commaundement, but GOD in his righteous iudgement giuing him leaue, what may hee not do? worke wonders in the worlde, shake the heauens, trouble the ayre, frushe the earth, and tourne all thinges topside totherway, a passing nimble spirite hee is doubtlesse, and a moste speedie woorkeman, so that out of hande, euen in the twinckeling of an eye, hee will vse his leaue graunted, to some mischiefe. The Hogges without leaue (of God the Father) Mathew the 8. Chapter, he coulde not possesse, but no sooner had he [Page 24] obteyned leaue, but presently hee tumbleth them headlong into the sea.
The Egyptian Sorserers wrought incredible woonders, imitating Moses and Aaron, before Pharaoh. Knowne and memorable is that storie of Iob to this purpose, to shewe that this Behemoth being curbed, he is disabled, but if the reines be giuen him, there is no ho with him, and yet hath hee his boundes set him, which hee cannot passe in any wise. Wherupon Origen on that place breaketh out in this wise. How sweete is thy kindnesse O King of heauen, how mightie is thy power, how glorious thy maiestie ô eternall God? How greatly comfortest thou those which flie vnto thee, that the Aduersay of Mankinde hath no power ouer any creature, but that which is graunted him by permission? Neither is hee permitted but where GOD dooth knowe it may make for the euidence of faith, for the [Page 25] triall of constancy, and for a pledge of a glorious rewarde: which we knowing, let vs with care and feare flie vnto God, and with instance of praier, and sinceritie of heart, crie vnto him, to deliuer vs from the cruell assaults, and from the subtile snares of the wicked, and suffer vs not to be tempted aboue our strength. Thus far Origen,
Now to our purpose, these Sorcerers hauing couenanted with the Diuell, he vseth their malice to his purpose: hee deuiseth for them, and prescribeth to them Medicines, Drugs, Poisons, Exorcismes, wherewith they may hurt men, children and beasts, infect pastures, deceiue the senses, iugle cunningly, worke incredibly, but not without his assistance. Who though they be thus coniured togither, yet holding Saint Paules ground (If God be with vs, who can be against vs?) what need we feare? For this is sure, that though they haue both abilitie, and wil, yet haue they no authoritie more [Page 26] then limitted, especially against the faithfull, which are euer vnder the shadow of the Almightie. But for the raising of stormes, the congealing of haile, the whirling of windes, we vtterlie denie them any power that way, because holy writte attributeth the raysing and ruling of these tempests to God alone. Why but themselues willingly without anie torture, and boldlie without feare, auow that they can trouble the aire, and disturbe the elements at their pleasure. But I say as boldly, that this (as manie other their assertions) is but a Diuellish illusion. For Sathan by naturall reason, and by his quicke conceite, not onelie knoweth the causes, places, and effectes of tempests, but also executeth partly with, and partly against his will, the iust iudgement of Gods indignation: for hee is (sayeth Origine) Gods Executioner. Nowe hee knoweth these circumstaunces, [Page 27] hauing his commission with his leaue graunted, presently goes to his complices, puts them in minde of their bargaine, promiseth now to wreake their malice, as they desire, teacheth them the meanes howe to effect it, and sometimes forceth them by violence vnto it. And thus those malicious Miscreants goe to their businesse, bring their purpose to passe, and reioyce in the fatall issues of their accursed Arte: And nowe hath this olde Deceyuer obteyned that he would, not onelie in binding these Wretched Soules, as with a three-fold Corde, vnto his owne will, but also in perswading others to ascribe anie Calamitie, Dearth, or Penurie, not to Gods Iudgement, but to the power and malice of these Accursed Caitifes.
So that much crying out there is to haue them burnt & hanged, no word [Page 28] in the meane time of remorce for sins, much lesse of amendment of life. All which I speake not to excuse their fault, or to mitigate their punishment: but to denie them, and to proue that God onelie is the authour of these plagues on earth. This conceyt fitteth more properly the Paganisme Romans, who were of opinion, that mens Corne and Fruit might bee enchaunted, and bewitched, to which purpose they made lawes agaynst such charmes in their twelue tables. He that enchaunteth Corne, let him die the death. Againe: Bewitch not by any Charme any other mans Crop. This is the Diuels iugling, to perswade men that these Varlets are able to doe that in verie deede, which they haue no power to doe, nor himselfe but by Gods leaue. And yet admit these old accursed Hags could moue such hurly burly in the aire, yet it must bee by Gods permission, in iudgement for [Page 29] our sinnes, which we breaking off by repentance, the cause is remoued, and so these wretches not to be feared.
Oft tymes againe it happeneth that the cause of Dearth may come by continuall Raine, the seede perishing by too much wette: Raine. [as it happened this yeare 1596. in England, wherein God hauing opened his bottles, as himselfe speaketh, Iob. 38.37. hath made the cloudes which should drop fatnesse, Psalm. 65.12. to poure downe the moisture of rottennesse. Ioel. 1.17. so that sowing Wheat, we haue reaped thornes, Iere. 12.13.] It may hap also, that the Corne being ripe and forward vnto Haruest, euen readie for the sickle, may bee either burnt vp, or mowed downe by the enemie, as was the Philistines by Samson, Iud. 15. or being in the barne, yet it may not perhaps answere the hope of increase, either vnder the flaile, or in the dough, or in the Ouen: or else [Page 40] from Heauen or other mishappe be set on fire, or which is another, and a greater mischiefe in the securest peace, in the greatest plentie of all thinges, yet are there Vsurers, Monopolists, Ingrossers, The vermin of a realme. Regratours, Forestallers, Transporters, buying and hoording vppe all kinde of Graine, that when the husband-mans store is spent, they may sell it out at what price they list, and so waxe rich by other mens miserie. Albeeit sometymes GOD preuenteth them eyther by bringing in of plentie, not expected, or by causing their Corne to become fustie, and fitte for no other vse but the Dunghill: yea, sometimes though there bee no want of victuals, yet in the siege of Townes, and Cities, the inhabitaunts hauing their passages stopped by the enemie, are forced vnlesse they will starue, to eate meates vncleane and vnsauourie, or else to yeelde to their [Page 41] foes mercie. Rayling Rabshakah threatneth, to driue the Citizens of Hierusalem to that strait, that they should be compelled to drinke their owne pisse.
Warres also make a great scarcitie, Warres. both for the present, and afterwarde, all the Corne either beeing wasted with fire, or trampled downe with Horsses, or carryed away by the Enemye, yea, if there bee but a rumour of Warre, the greater Townes both keepe in their owne Corne, and lay vppe what they maie get else-where, till the certaintie of peace bee concluded. Neyther are Kinges and Princes blamelesse in this case of Famine, who though their charge bee to prouide for the good of the people, yet they vtterly neglect them, rather impouerishing their subiectes, yea, euen in the dearest yeares, burthening [Page 24] them with taxes and subsidies: the Court is costly, and will bee gallant: horses, hou~ds, hauks, harlots, iesters, must be maintained, who wrings for it? the poor subiect, who must rather bee vndone, then the Court should want: from whence followeth this inconuenience, that the people being thus exhausted, and drunke vp by these sucking subsidies and exactions, many of them become desperate, and vtterly neglect their familie at home, and setting the Hares heade to the Goose gibblets, and all that they haue at a mumme chaunce, will rather loosely mispend it themselues, then thus to bee made spunges, and that which they haue to be squeesed from them by crushing Courtiers. But be it that these burthens and impositions be lessened, yet euen where there is greatest libertie, and most ease from them, there is many times a Dearth. What is the reason? Riot, [Page 25] Surfet, Pride, discontentment with theyr priuate state. Not noble and rich men only, but the poore artizans must forsooth be fed daintily, clad richly, furnisht sumptuously, what exceeding cost, how exquisit dishes, what stra~ge deuises, what far fetched wines must now be in ordinary banquets. This was our auncestours praise, to keepe great houses for entertainement of strangers, their neighbors and friends they enuited rather to maintaine amitie, then to procure surfets. Cardes and Dice, the verie baine of any familie, hath brought many to penury. Drinking and Quaffing, the direct pathway to beggery: these cup-shotten suertiships, and pot smitten bargaines, haue vndone many men, though at other times being sober and wary inough. But of all other, the high roode way to Penury, is Venery: Venery. these strumpets are so chargeable saith Salomon, Prou. 5.10, and insatiable, euer asking to [Page 26] haue, neuer ceasing to craue. Plautus in his Commedy named Truculentus, compareth them verie ellegantly to the sea, It swalloweth that you giue, and neuer cryeth enough, giue what you wil it is neuer seene againe, either by the giuer, or of the receiuer. Daintily the whores must bee fedde, costly the bastardes, though closely, bee maintained, the Pandars and Baudes must haue their fees, and the neighbors mouths must be stopped, lest that which was seene through the chinkes, be reuealed in the streets: and yet which is straunge, these so profuse and prodigall companions, that spare no cost abroade vppon their Courtezants, at home with their Wife and Children fare hardly, and seeme great husbands. Herode at the first dashe would part with halfe his kingdome to please his dauncing Damosell.
True is that which Salomon speaketh, Prouer. 29.3. He that feedeth harlots [Page 27] wasteth his substaunce. A fit text for this purpose and for these times, this sin being as our Lands Locust, a principall cause of our great want. Further, there may be a readie way to penurie by ill huswiferie, Wiues. when wiues being made for the comfort and companie of their husbandes, either by importunate brawling chide them out of doores, and so make them spend abroade lauishly, which they might saue at home if they might do it quietly, or by their gallant brauery and furniture eate them out of house and home, or by their badde huswifery bring them to laie the key vnder the doore, and to forsake their home: such quarrelling and squandring Dames, Salomon Prou. 19. and 27: compareth fitly to a dropping house: and we in a commo~ prouerb say of them that haue such wiues, That a storme of Haile is fallen into theyr Kitchin. [A man were better let his Pottage burne [Page 28] his lippes, then to haue such blastes to coole his broath. Children. ] Children also vntoward & retchlesse, may worke their friends want, by deceiuing and purloyning from them both money and graine, spending it leaudly, and running into debt purposely: laying the payment thereof vpon their parentes bagges, by which theeuish riot, they bring both their parentes and themselues vnto Penilesse bench. But what is hee that can recken vp all the causes and meanes of publique and priuate Penury? If God happily send some ple~tifull yeres, yet many forgetting their last want, laie vp nothing again a dear yeare, hoping that will neuer come, and so lash it out & laie it on, as thogh they were borne for nothing else but to eate bread and breake orders: but when a scarcitie commeth, hauing neither corne for market, nor store for houshold, they proue scarcely able to prouide bread, and to pay their rent. [Page 29] The great encrease of people, the abundance of all sortes of Artificers, the diuers cosonages, and conny-catching deceits, may cause a scarcitie. But now to these mischiefes, if either the corne be vnholsome, or yeeld not well, (which is Gods curse) then may it proue a Famine, and verie daungerous. God in his lawe threatneth that he will breake the staffe of bread, Staffe of bread. that is, bread shall not nourish them that eate it. For as olde and diseased folke leaning vpon staues to vphold them, if you take the~ away they must needs fall: so vnlesse God do giue the force of nourishment we cannot be satisfied: as on the contrary, if he blesse our meates, a little shall suffice vs, being able, if it please him, to do it without any outward meanes. Deut. 8. a place cited by our Sauiour, in that his great temptation, Mat. 4. Man liueth not by bread onely, but by euery word which commeth out of the mouth of God. By which [Page 30] Word, some vnderstand the ordinarie meate which God hath appointed to feed vs. Other expound it, the wil and decree of God which hee hath reuealed, namely, that he will preserue the course of nature, and norish his creatures: so that the sense may be double. First, that God which now giueth vs bread for sustenance, may if it please him feed vs otherwise. Secondly, not to attribute the vertue of norishment to the creature of bread, but to his secret grace wherby he blesseth it to our stre~gth. What ye breaking of the staffe of bread is, hath bene obserued in the time of Famin, whe~ men eating much are nothing satisfied. Som lay the fault vpo~ mens couetousnes & ouermuch sparing, they say, yt in such times they which be maisters of families, do too curiously note, & as it were recken euery bit they put in their mouths, and take for ye time a more strait account of their expences then ordinary. This I confesse is some cause, for what will [Page 31] not pinch penny misers do? but if we search the cause more narrowly, wee shal find it to be ye curse of God which taketh away ye strength fro~ the bread: and so fro~ drinke too, which doth not alwaies slake the thirst, as it falleth out in Agues & other hot diseases. Neither hath Apparel any long lasting power, but will be tottred presently (for euen the dura~ce of apparell is Gods blessing, as by ye example of the Israelites it may appear, whose shoes & attire was not worne bare, nor torn, for so long time in ye wildernes). Ther are many which go all day long lined with furs, and in the night are hapt wt many couerings, & yet are litle the warmer. These and the like plagues doth God by Aggi threate~ to the wicked: & so in a plenty you see God can send a scarcitie. Thus haue I generally and largely run ouer these things, by which you see yt God vseth diuers outward means to work a dearth & famin: causes natural & artificial, their malice & fraud, the couetousnes [Page 32] and carelesnesse of men. Hee ruleth all things which are, at his commaund and becke. For as the common enemy cannot either inuade a lande, or destroy the corne, so neither can vermine, frost, haile, nor tempests, the fruites, vnlesse God please. For confirmation whereof, reade the Psalme. He commaundeth the snow to come vppon the ground, and the raine of the winter, euen the showers of his strength: and Psal, 146. which couereth the heauens with cloudes, and prepareth rain for the earth, and bringeth forth grasse vpon the mountaines, and hearbe for the vse of men, &c: and Psal. 147. which feedeth thee with the flower of wheate, hee sendeth forth his word vppon earth, and his word runneth very swiftly. He giueth snow like wooll, and scattereth the frost like ashes, and sendeth his Ice like morsels: who is able to abide his frost? hee sendeth his word and melteth them, he bloweth with his winde, and the waters flow: and Psal. 148. Fire, Haile, Snow, Wind, [Page 33] Storme, fulfilling his word. Mountaines and all his fruitfull trees, and all Cedars. Beasts and all cattell, wormes and feathered foules: and Ier. 14.22, Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles, that can giue raine? or can the heauens giue stormes? is it not thou ô Lorde our God? therefore we will wayt vpon thee, for thou hast made all these thinges. Too many there are who think Famin and Dearth to come by chaunce, they say there hath alwaies beene an intercourse of things, Warre followeth peace, and Dearth plentie: and this interchaunge shall hold on to the worlds ende. But we out of the scriptures haue learned, that nothing comes by chaunce, but euen the least things are guided by Gods prouidence. Indeed in respect of vs, many thinges may be saide to come by chaunce, but not in respect of God. Christ himselfe saith, that a Sparrow, for whose safetie no statute prouides, lying open to the net of any [Page 34] that will lay for her, cannot fall to the ground without his will, euen the haires of our head are numbred. Yea the Pagans and Gentiles, beleeued that God defended both cattle and corn, and guided the seasons, & ruled the stormes, only herein they sinned, in attributing to other inferiour and supposed Gods, this great power of the true God, in worshipping Ceres for corne, Bacchus for wine, Flora for flowers, Robigo against blasting & vermin, & Apollo Nomius, or Pastorall for their pasturs & medows: to all which and more then these, they dedicated certaine feasts, on which they made their praiers according to their seueral powers: they had also their sacrifices called Amber talia, as Festus deriues the word, because they went in Processio~ about their arable grou~ds, called by the Latins, Arua. But we thogh we vse in good policy, and in a godly acknowledgement fro~ whom we receiue these blessings, Perambulatians. Perambulatians. the like Perambulations, [Page 35] haue learned out of holy scripture, & by that anniuersary Christian practise do confesse, that God alone both giueth and withdraweth fodder fro~ cattel, how much more too & fro~ man, for whom he hath made both beastes & other creatures. So that as long as men are persuaded, that ple~tie and want co~meth not from God, they cannot either by repentance turne to him, thus chastning the~, nor wil they with patience abide his punishment: and therfore it concerns vs greatly to know from whence both doe come. And so much of the first part. It followeth in the second place, The second part. to shew how fearefull & horrible a plague this is, which may bee proued by many reasons and arguments, specially if it endure long. When God gaue Dauid his choise of three euils, Pestilence, Famin, the Sworde, hee chose the first as the easyest to bee endured. For manie which be infected with the plague, giue vppe their soules to GOD, [Page 36] verie speedily, and so are quickly rid from many cares and troubles of this life, and from the dreadfull panges of death. They that die in warre are not long tormented: but they which are pinched with Famine, hoping euerie houre for succour, are euer pining away, till in the end they die a lingring and a miserable death. Verie true is that speech of Ieremy, It was better with them that they were slaine with the swoord, then with them that died for hunger, bicause these did starue being consumed by the barrennesse of the earth. As hunger is named an Inuentor of many Artes, (the poorer sort deuising many waies to sustaine their life honestly) so is it also said to be an il Counsellor, egging men on to Larsonies, Thefts, Murthers, Vsuries, Deceites, and other horrible sinnes. Horace calleth Pouertie, Impudent, because there is nothing which it dares not attempt. Therefore that praier of the wise man was very good: [Page 37] Pro. 30.7. Two things haue I required of thee deny me them not before I die. Remoue farre from me vanitie & lies. Giue me not pouertie nor riches: feed me with food conuenient for me, least I be full & deny thee, and say, who is the Lord? or least I be poore and steale, and take the name of my God in vain. There haue bin many rich men, who though they haue bene houen and lifted vp with their heapes of riches, yet haue not denied their God: notwithstanding such is the infirmitie of man, that vnlesse God by his word should restraine vs, wealth would make vs insolent: so there are many who endure their pouertie patiently, abstaine from stealth, resist all inordinate desires, yet such is the corruptio~ of our nature, that when hunger gripeth vs, we thinke any thing to be lawfull for vs, by theft, lying, or any Malengine to maintaine this life, and make no excuse for any such sin, but our Bellies want. If any man shuld [Page 38] see trades-men, husbandmen, labourers, some of them stout & strong, and able men to do good seruice, wa~dring in the streets, hauing no work to do, whereby to keepe soule and body togither: and should withall heare the scritches, outcries, & lamentations of women, children & men, for want of food, would it not make his heart to bleed, vnlesse it were harder the~ iron or the Adamant? Much more would it grieue him to see his owne familie broght to that distresse: & that which is here to be reproued, in this so great penurie of all things, scarce will the rich set the poore on worke, nor hire the~ to labor, although they aske but their meat & drink for their wages: so that many being ashamed of their extream pouerty, dissemble it as long as they can, dare not co~plain of it to their neighbors & friends, & in this distres like bees they feed vpon their owne good [or rather like Snailes liue vpon the aire, & their own moisture, and so [Page 39] consume away, as Dauid speaketh, and in doing nothing, come to nothing, saith Austen] baking themselues bread of oats and bran (fit for horses and not men) borowing mony here & there, laying their garments & furniture to pledge, their houses and land to morgage, and what wil not pouerty driue me~ to? they fal into ye mouths & teeth of biting & deuouring vsurers, who vnder a shew of licking the~ whole, such out euen their hart blood, without al hope of any remedy. The Egiptians, as scripture records it. Ge. 47.20. morgaged their la~ds to Pharao, for the time of famin: and in ye 5. of Nehe. they which returned fro~ Babilo~, co~plained that they were forced to sel their children for want. Famin also co~straineth many good and godly men to leaue their cou~try, & to seek into stra~ge places for sustenance. Abraha~. Gen. 12. fled fro~ Canaan into Egipt. Isaac. Ge~. 26. fro~ Gerar to Abimel. but ye god in his dream warned him not to goe into Egypt, [Page 40] but into the place that hee shoulde choose. So Iacob with his sonne in his age, fled to his sonne Ioseph into Egipt for food & succour. Elimelech, Ruth 1. with his wife and children left Israel, and came to Moab. Elizeus 2. Reg. 8. wils the Sunnamitesse woman to goe into an other countrey till the Famine there ceased, which should last seuen yeares. Prophane stories are heerein plentifull, as also our moderne & domesticall Chronicles. It is not long, since many, and they good men, haue wandered from one place to another to relieue their hunger: and as many being brought to extreame pouertie, with their wiues and children haue bene forced to begge from doore to doore, in Cities, Townes, and Villages, but especially in Countrey Townes, where commonly is most want, who hauing once folowed this idle trade, can hardly be reclaimed to worke, though there be [Page 41] many indeed that cannot for want of strength, doe anie kinde of labouring worke, their flesh scarce cleauing to their bones. Very patheticall and pitifull is the complaint of Ieremie. Lam. 4.4. The tongue of the sucking childe cleaueth to the roofe of his mouth for thirst: the young children aske bread, but no man breaketh it vnto them. verse 7. Her Nazarites were purer then the snow, and whiter then the milke: they were more ruddie in bodie then the redde precious stones, they were like polished Saphir. But now their visage is blacker then a cole: they can not know them in the streetes: their skinne cleaueth to their bones: it is withered like a stocke. Take an example or two for perspecuitie. Anno. 1527. When the French made warre for the recouerie of Millaine, within the territories thereof, so horrible was the spoile of corne through the continuance of war, that a dreadfull Famine insuing, the price of [Page 42] graine rose to an vnreasonable rate. Co~uoy of vittails was sent fro~ Strawsborow & Heluetia, to succor them, else had they al died generally, very many hauing bin alredy famished to death, as that dolefull spectacle in the streets argued, where you might see many fall downe dead, some of them with hearbs and grasse in their mouths. At which sight, our men being sore astonished, left their campe, and returned home, som of them for euer forswearing warres, least they should be forced to see the like spectacle. Ann. 157: and some yeares following, in Austria, and through Germanie, manie were starued, and so in Italie too, where many rather choosing anie torment then that death, offered themselues to bee Gallie slaues verie willinglie, submitting themselues to that torture which is layde vppon none but Rascalles and Theeues, Anno 1572. in Occitana, and along [Page 43] the Sea Coastes, a greeuous Famine arose, though the Region in it owne nature bee verie fruitfull, insomuch that euerie where you shall see starued Karcasses lie in the streetes: and in these cases it falleth out oft, that Mice, Dogges, Horses, Asses, chaffe, pels, hides, sawdust, are vsed for good sustenance, and at last mans flesh, yea, (which is not to bee spoken without trembling) the mothers haue eaten for very hunger their owne children, as in the siege of Samaria, in the first siege of Hierusalem vnder Nabuchodonozer, and in the last, vnder Vespasian and Titus. How fearefull this is, all mothers can easily coniecture, and he that will read Iosephus. lib. 6. cap. 11. de bello Iud. and Eusebius which hath borrowed it from Iosephus, if his heart yarne not, it is brawnie. Such was the Famine which the Inhabitants of Sancerra. 1573. endured, more grieuous then that of Sagu~tum, [Page 44] which for the extremitie thereof is come into a prouerbe. And such also was the Famine in Fraunce, Anno. 649, in the fourth yeare of Clodouey his raigne, and in the yeare, 839: and in Germanie, Anno. 808. a dreadfull Famine possessed the whole cou~trey, at which time Hatto the Bishop of Moguntu~, executed that villany vpon the poore country swanes, asking him bread. Vrspergensis writeth, that the great Famine which befell, Vnno. 898. made men to eat and deuour one another: and so in Anno. 1010. a general Famin was ouer the whole world: and An. 1062: an earthquake, & huge hailstones fel: great dearth of vittaile, and a straunge famine, was felt in our countries of Heluetia, which punishment of late God hath renued, this superstitious (or rather this irreligious) worlde deseruing to bee visited by no plague more gentle. In the Holy warre which the Christians [Page 45] had in Syria, in all places of the world there was a great Famine, especially in the Christian armie, as in an example or two you shall see. When Antiochia was besieged by the Sarracenes, such an intollerable Famine followed their plentie, that hardly they abstained from mans flesh. Otho Frising. li. 7. ca. 4 let them note this by the way, which thinke that the meane to auoide a dearth, is to presse Souldiours out of the land. About Prage in Bohemia. An. 284. many died through extreame hunger: and Anno. 1313. through Boheme and Polonia, as Vrspergensis out of the 4. Booke of the Polonian Chronicles describeth, Cap. 8. A Famine more cruell then any warre, raged in those two Countries, and dayly increased, lasting three full yeares, absuming many men, parents slaying their children, and they their parents, to relieue their hunger: some did not stick to take the flesh of them that were [Page 46] executed on the gallowes, to stay the rage thereof, Wolues set vpon those they met, & deuoured them, though they carried Gunns and Bowes for their defence. Oftentimes it falleth out, that prisoners condemned to die, with Famine, haue eaten of their own flesh so farre as they could reach, before they could die: many also haue had no other remedie to preuent it, but by slaying themselues. And lastly, that which maketh this plague more dreadfull, it seldome or neuer commeth without a pestilence. And so much of the horror of this fearfull punishment. Now why God doth punish men with this so terrible a iudgement, we will shew in the next Sermon. God of his mercie turne our hearts to him, that he may turn this plague from vs. Amen.
The end of the first Sermon.
IN any publike calamitie, wherto mankind is subiect, two things are principally to be considered. First, from whom. Secondly, for what cause it comes, wherin the iudgment of the world respecting the second causes, rather then the first and principall, is so fouly corrupted, that men know not well, either where to aske cou~sel, or how to behaue themselues beeing surprised with any miserie. Among all other, Famin & Dearth of vittails is not the least, of which wee now intreat, hauing in our first sermo~ proued both by testimonies & examples of scripture, the true, first, & efficient cause to bee God. I am he, (saith God of himself) by Esay. 45.7. which [Page 48] make peace, and create euill, of punishment, not of sinning. Naturall courses, and mens malice beeing no causes, but outward meanes which God vseth, stirring vp the wicked to chastice vs (not by inspiring their malice into them, but vsing the malice which is in them for his iudgement, and our chastisement.) Secondly, we haue there described the miseries and mischiefes of that dreadfull plague. Now in the third place it followeth, to enquire what should mooue so pitifull and mercifull a God to afflict men, good and bad, olde and young, Countries and Nations, with this tertible scourge. All men indeede feele this heauy hand of Gods wrath, and the complaint is generall and common: but wanting a right iudgement beeing more blockish then the bruit beast, neither feele nor vnderstand, either in the motiues that prouoke it, or the meanes howe to bee freed [Page 49] from it: taking the wrong cause for the right, and the second for the first. The common multitude with one consent laie all the fault vpon the oppression of Landlordes enhauncing their rentes, the mallice of Farmers grudging without cause, vnmercifulnesse of Vsurers grinding without pitie, the intollerable licenses of Monopoles and Solesales, ingrossing without measure, the couetousnesse of hoorders keeping vp their graine without mercie: (all which no doubt, are principal outward meanes whereby God doth bring it to effect) but of corruption in maners, of vices and vilenesse of life, of the Immunitie and Impunitie of sinning, without shame, without restraint not one word. Therefore as the Phisitian hitting vppon the right humour and cause of the disease, doth with better iudgement and happier successe, applie his phisicke: so wee iumping vpon the true causes of this [Page 50] so great a malladie, shall more easilie know both what to do in this extremitie, and how to auoyd it. First therfore let vs lift vp our eyes to God punishyng, and then enquire what mooues him to it, so shall we come to know our selues the better. But here also wee must take heed of iudging amisse, entertaining false causes for the true. For in this and the like calamities, the whole fault for the most part is laide vpon Religion. Certaine Miscreants and Varlets, crying out of the Pulpit, in the open Market, at their publike Feasts, that the new Religion (for so they entitle the preaching of the Gospell) is the onely cause of this Dearth. Since there hath bene a separation, and that the Saintes departed, haue not their Due honor, and the Olde manner of worshipping God (for so they call their Romish superstition) is abandoned, the world hath bene still in a Deluge of Calamitie: from which, forsooth, [Page 51] we should be freed, if we had kept the professio~ of our forefathers. Thus they speake, to the ende they may make the world to despise & despite vs: but if they list, they may remember that it is not long since their Professours haue tasted of this smart whip, as well as we: some examples you haue in the former Sermon. Neither is this quarrell straunge or fresh. For in the raigne of Ahab, there was a long Famine in Israel, at which the King beeing mooued, in his furie meeting Eliiah the Prophet, hee tolde him that it was he which troubled Israel, meaning by his speech, that hee caused the Dearth which so troubled the lande (in which sense, Ionathan saide, his Father Saul troubled the people, when hee willed them to abstaine from meate) but Eliiah answered boldly, It is not I, but thou & thy fathers house, because you haue left the Commandement of the Lord, and [Page 52] haue followed Baall. So afterward Ioram the King laide the cause of the Famine vpon Elizeus, which was so great that mothers eate their owne children, the King in a rage sent his seruaunt to kill the Prophet, but being forewarned of God, hee let him alone. The same was the vsuall obiection wherewith the Christia~s were vpbraided, as Tertullian, Cyprian, Arnobius, and other which wrote Apologies for the Christians witnesse. For as oft as God punished the world with Frost, Hayle, Famine, Warre, Pestilence, Inundations, or any other generall and open calamitie, presently they cried out, Away with these Christia~s from the earth, to the beastes with them, that they may be deuoured, cast them to the Lyons, these sacrilegious wretches, for they are not woorthie to liue. Euse. lib. 9. cap. 7. describeth the edict and proclamation, Maximinus set vp against them, wherin hee declareth, that all the miseries [Page 53] which the world hitherto had suffered, came vppon the earth onlie for that pernicious and detestable errour of these vile caitifs, (so he called the Christians) and withall boasted, that therfore in his time there was neither Pestilence nor Warre, because hee continued the worship of his Gods, and put the Christians to tortures and punishment. Albeit not long after, all those mischiefes at once ouertooke and ouerwhelmed him, quelling and confuting that his impudent and rebellious blasphemie against the eternall God. So that no man must maruel that prophane & wicked hel-hounds which hate the truth and the light of the Gospell, should belch out such blasphemie, since that Christ himselfe foretold his Apostles of these things to come. The holie scripture doth in plaine tearmes set downe, that the Dearth of Victualls is the scourge of God, for the manifold and enormous [Page 54] sinnes, principally, Atheisme and Idolatry. Some places we haue cited before, let vs adde more to them. Leuit. 26.14. If you will not obey me nor doo my commaundements, you shall sow your seede in vaine. So dooth God speake, Deut. 28. & cap. 11. Psal. 10. The land whither thou goest to possesse it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence you came, where thou sowest thy seede, and wateredst it with thy feete as a garden of hearbes, but the land whither you go to possesse it, is a lande of mountaines and vallies, drinking the water of the rayne of heauen, &c. Psal. 16: but beware lest your heart deceiue you, and lest your heart turne aside and serue other Gods, and worship them: and so the anger of the Lorde be kindeled against you, and hee shutte vp the heauen that there bee no rayne, and that your lande yeelde not her fruites, and so you perish quickly from the good lande whiche the Lorde giueth you: and Deutero. 32.23. Among other plagues which hee [Page 55] threateneth vnto Idolatry, hee saith: I will spende my plague vppon them, I will bestowe mine arrowes vppon them, they shall bee burnt with hunger. The same dooth the other Prophets also, Esd. 3.1: threatneth Iudah and Ierusalem, to take from them the stay and staffe of Breade and Water: that is, though they should haue plentie of both, yet it should haue no power either to slake their hunger, or que~ch their thirst. See more in him, Cap. 24. Ieremy cap. 5.15, Loe I bring a Nation vppon you from a farre, which shall eate vp your Haruest and your Bread, your Sonnes and your Daughters, your Sheepe and Bullockes, your Vines and Figge-trees. The causes heereof, hee particularly reciteth in the sixt Chapter, which I woulde wishe you to reade as verie fitlie appertaining to our time. In the 14. Chapter, which is his Sermon hee made in that time of Famine, hee setteth downe the [Page 56] cause thereof briefly: Psalme. 7. Their sinnes, iniquities, and rebellions. The false prophets in the time of Famine, promiseth them fruitfull and plentifull yeares, and when there was plentie, they bid them not to feare anie Dearth in that so great abundance, and the Iewes beleeued them, for such is the nature of man quickly to harken, and easily to beleeue them that promise prosperitie. Wherupon the Prophet telles them that they shal be sure to perish both with Famine and Pestilence, say the other what they will, in these words: By Sword and Famin, shall those Prophets be consumed. And the people to whome these prophets doo prophecie, shall be cast out in the streets of Ierusalem, because of the Famine and the Sworde. The verie same doctrine did Ezechiel preach in Babilon, which Ieremy did in Iudah and Ierusalem, that for their Idolatrie and greeuous sinnes, manie of them should be giuen ouer by God [Page 57] to the Plague and Famine, both they which were alreadie, and they also which shuld return home afterward. In the 4. Chapt. he is more vehement and plaine, where God willeth him to pourtray the Cittie of Ierusalem vpon a brick, to besiege it, & the whole time of the siege to eate bread made of wheate, barley, beanes, lentiles, millet & fetches, and that by weight, and drinke water by measure, and insteede of coales to bake his breade with, to take mans, or bullockes dung. By all which, as himselfe interprets it, Verse. 16, it was meant that the force of nourishing should be taken from the bread, and that their bread shuld be giue~ them by weight, and their water by measure, and that they should want fuell necessarie in Ierusalem. For whiles Cities are besieged, and in defensed places by Garrisons kept, if Famin or Dearth be feared, all the corne is vsually carried to the [Page 58] Generall and Captaines, which serue it out to euerie man by weight and measure: and so water also in drie places, for in many vplands the souldiers haue bene constrained to fetch their water by force and armes, as in Ierusalem: the cause of all this he yeeldeth in the ende of the Chapter, Bread and water shall faile them, and they shall consume away because of their iniquitie. The same hee repeateth almost word for word in the 12. Chapter, he said, Thus saith the Lord: Verse 7. Because you haue not walked in my statutes, nor kept my iudgements, Verse 10. The fathers shall eate their sonnes, and the sonnes shall eate their fathers, &c. This was a iust iudgment of God, they contrarie to God his expresse commaundement, sacrificed their sonnes to Moloch, (that is he whom the Gentiles call Saturnus) so that this was a punishment by Retaliation, a like plague, for the like offence. And a litle after, ver. 16. I wil [Page 59] send vpon you the euil Arrowes of Famin, which shall be for your destruction, and I will increase the Famine vppon you, and will breake the staffe of bread. By the Arrowes of Famine, he meaneth the Canker and Palmer wormes, the grashoppers & vermin, immoderate heat, vnseasonable weather, and showres: as also those walking Vermin, & those Tempests of a common wealth, Monopolists, Ingrossers, Cornhoorders, who had rather the corne should waxe fustie in their garners, then to sell it out at a reasonable rate. And chap. 6. verse 11. Thus saith the Lorde, smite the earth with thy hand, and stretch foorth with thy foote and say, Alas, for al the wicked abhominatio~s of the house of Israel, for they shal fall by the sword, by the Famine, and by the pestilence. And in the 7. chap. he againe foretelleth of a great afflictio~ to ensue for the abhominable wickednes of the la~d: Without the sword, & within plague & Famin. And a litle after he speaketh [Page 60] vnto Richmen, to whom also he threateneth the like punishment, who (like vnto the wealthy Cormullions of our time) increase their wealth by others want, some of them abusing the barrennesse of the earth, and the Dearth of graine, to their owne gaine: other feeding & faring most riotously, whe~ as the poore did starue most rufully: Their siluer and their golde cannot deliuer them in the day of the wrath of the Lorde God, they shall not satisfie their soules, neither fill their bowels: for this ruine is for their iniquitie. Rich men of all others, thinke themselues best armed against all daungers that may happen either to soule or bodie, Prouer. 10.15. The rich mans goods are his strong cittie: that is, as souldiers trust to their munition, so doo they to their wealth, which often failes them: for the time may come wherein they may feele the like want which the poore distressed doo, whome they so litle [Page 61] regard: for in the siege and expugnation of Citties, the Rich vsually fare worse then the poore, the common souldier forcing them by torture of paine, or terror of death, to confesse where their wealth lyeth. In the fourth Chapter, hee threateneth to the hard hearted and impenitent sinners, soure plagues, Sword, Pestilence, Famine, noysome beastes. Of Famine thus he speaketh: vers. 13. Sonne of man, if the land sinne against me by committing a trespasse (the Hebrew word signifieth a lie) I will stretch out my hand vpon it, and will breake the staffe of the bread thereof, and will send Famine vpon it: and though these three men Noah, Daniel, Iob, were among them, they should deliuer but their owne soules by their righteousnesse, saith the Lord God. The cause, why this Prophet Ezechiel vrgeth the people with the threats of this plague, more vehemently and hotly then the other [Page 62] Prophets, is because the state of the Iewes was then most daungerous, no threatenings, no warnings woulde mooue them, rebellious they were alway and stifnecked, therefore he repeateth the oftner this Blow, to make it the more to enter into and pearce them: and in a fewe words hee compriseth much matter. First that God is the efficient cause of Famine: the impulsiue or forcing causes, their sinnes: the maner, The bread shall not nourish them: the effects, Man and beast, rich and poore, pelly melly shall die. Now go we on to the smaller Prophet. Hos. cap. 4: makes a long catalogue or beadroule of sinnes, for which God chasteneth his people with this affliction. Thus hee speaketh: The Lorde hath a controuersie with the Inhabitaunts of the lande, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the lande, by swearing and lying, and killing, and stealing, and whoring, they breake out, and [Page 63] bloud toucheth bloud. Therefore shall the lande mourne, the foules of the heauen, the beastes of the fielde, and the fishes of the sea shall be taken away. And in his ninth Chapter, verse 1. Reioyce not ô Israel for ioy, as other people, for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God, thou hast loued a rewarde vppon euerie corne floore. The floore, and the Winepresse shall not feede them, and the new Wine shall faile in her, &c. Amos cap. 4, vpbraydeth the people, who for religions sake went on pilgrimage to Bethel, and yet defiled themselues with Idolatry & false whorsip, & telleth them that therfore he will giue them cleannesse of teeth: that is, they shal not need any Toothpikes to cleanse their teethe for any meat sticking in them, because hardly they shuld haue brown bread to chew on. By all which places it sufficiently appears, that Famin & Dearth is sent for the punishment of sinnes, especially Atheisme, and false worship.
And so much generally, or as we say, in the whole lumpe of all the enormious sinnes which are causes of this iudgement, now we will single some of them out, and examine them parcell meale: namely, how God hath punished euen some speciall sinnes this way. For many thinke that because their sinnes are not notorious and written in their foreheades, not grosse sinnes, as Idolatry, and such like, that therefore they deserue not to be in this kinde afflicted: But they must know, that being subiect naturally to sinne, they must also lie open to the common punishment of sinne. Let vs see then some particulars, for which GOD expresly threateneth [ 1] this plague by name. First, Iere. cap. II: declareth how his countrey men in Anathoth, had forbidden him to preach vpon paine of his life, Contempt of Gods word. this impudency of theirs, God threatneth to reue~ge by Famin: ver. 21.22. Of ye men [Page 65] of Anathots that say, Prophecie no more in the name of the Lord, that thou die not by our hands. Behold, saith the Lord, I will visit them, their sons and their daughters shall die by famine, &c. Surely, this is nothing else but iustice, if men set light by the worde of God, the precious foode of their soules, that hee should keepe from them the necessarie sustenaunce of their bodies. See Amos. cap. 8. And whereas many desire to heare the worde, to conferre with Preachers, and to reade Scriptures, but will not obey what they heare, this contempt doth God this way punish. Iere. 42. When the Citie was sacked by Nabuchodonozor, the remnant left behind came to Ieremie, to aske of him whether they should go downe into Egypt, or no? He denied it, perswading them the contrarie, notwithstanding they woulde needes goe: for this dissembling disspight hee threatneth this plague of [Page 66] Famine to pursue them in Egypt. The like course do we take, daily hearing, but stil refusing to obey, so that worthie are wee when wee call for our daily bread, not be heard by God in that petition.
Priuate gaine. 2 The desire of priuate gain prouoketh God his wrath, when men preferre the increase of their owne commodities before the glorie of God, the propagation of his worde, or the publike benefit. The Israelites being reduced and brought backe from Babell, to their own Country, hauing no regard at all to Gods house, built, setled and furnished their owne houses and mansions both stately and curiously, whereupon God threatneth them this plague by Agge. ver. 4. Is it time for you to dwell in your fieled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therfore thus saith the Lord, Consider your owne wayes in your heartes. Yee haue sowne much, and bring in little, yee eate, but yee [Page 67] haue not inough, yee drinke but yee are not filled, &c. verse 9. You looked for much, and loe it came to little, and when you brought it home, I did blow vpon it. And why saith the Lorde of Hosts? because of mine house that is waste, and you run euerie man to his own house. Therfore the heauen ouer you stayed it selfe from dewe, and the earth staid her fruit, &c.
3 Periurie and Oppression of the poore, Periury and oppression. is this way also visited, as that excellent example 2. Sam. 21. sheweth. When the Famine had been in the lande three yeares, Dauid asketh of the Lorde, where and what the cause was of this so heauie a iudgement: aunswere was made, that it was for Saule, and his bloudie house, because hee slue the Gibeonites (contrarie to the oath of Iosuah, and the Elders.) Doubtlesse, Saule had an excuse and defence for himselfe in this fact, which might carrie a pretence before the [Page 68] people of Law and Iustice, yet God assureth Dauid, till his crueltie were reuenged, the Famine should not bee remoued. Therfore Dauid asketh the Gibeonites howe they would be satisfied, they requiring seuen of Saul his sonnes, had them, hanged them vp to the Lord, and so the Famine ceased.
Couetousnesse. Couetousnesse. 4 This plague also followeth that inexpleble and deuouring gulfe of greedie desire. Esay. cap. 5. complaining that in the Lords vineyard, wild Grapes only, and sowre were found, among the rest, hee saith, Wo vnto them that ioyne house to house, and lay field to field, till there be no place that yee may be placed by your selues in the midst of the earth. This is in mine eares, saith the Lord of Hoasts. Surely many houses shall be desolate, euen great and faire, without inhabitant. For ten akers of Vines shall yeeld one bath, and the seede of an homer shall yeeld one ephah. Nowe if there bee but small yeelde, there must [Page 69] needes be great scarcitie.
5 In the 34. of Ieremie, 5 Crueltie we read that the king and the people, as it were conspiring togither, did, according to the Law, manumit or set free their men, & maid seruants, but afterward reuoking their former fact, they brought them backe againe to their olde slauerie: euen for this crueltie the Lord threatneth this plague of Famine. Poore folkes and seruants are not to bee intreated cruelly, because we must remember that they and we haue one maister in heauen, much lesse dealt withall falsely (which is a cruelty cloked vnder the name of honest gaine.) For thus saith the Lord, Mich. 6.10. Are yet the treatures of wickednesse in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure which is abhominable, &c. verse 14. Therfore thou shalt eat and not be satisfied: verse 15. Thou shalt sow but not reape, thou shalt treade thy Oliues, but thou shalt not annoynt thee with oyle: for [Page 70] the statutes of Omri are kept, and all the maner of the house of Ahab. &c.
Pride. 6 Pride is also scourged by this distresse as witnesseth 2. Sam. 24. where it is written, that Dauid numbred the people, and gloried in the multitude of his Subiects, for which sinne God appoynted him the choyse of Famin, Pestilence, or the sword of his enemies: because one of these should bee the punishment of his vaunting and vainglorie.
Surfets. 7 Drunkennesse and Surfetting are thus also chastized, by the testimonie of Ioell, who in his first chapter, willeth the Drunkards to mourne, for there should an huge army come, that should make the Vineyards wast, and plucke the wine from their mouths, as if hee should say, ye haue so prouoked God to anger with your Drunkennesse, that hereafter yee shall bee content to drinke water, albeeit in that Countrey they seldome haue [Page 71] any good water to drinke.
8 Againe, 8 Neglect of tyth paying. paying. if Tythes or other Debts, wherby either Gods worship should bee maintained, or his power relieued be not iustly paid, Dearth is the reuenger of that sacriledge. As on the contrarie, God by Malachy promiseth abundance, if these duties be faithfully discharged. If wee reade ouer all the Stories, from the tymes of the Prophetes to our dayes, wee shall finde manie straunge examples of dreadfull Famine, but withall, wee shall reade, that those tymes were most corrupt, eyther Prince or Subiect fayling in their seuerall functions and places. In the Actes of the Apostles, mention is made of a greate Famine, when Claudius was Emperour of the Romanes, the same which Swetonius and Dion doe both recorde: the cause why the worlde was so visited at that tyme was especially for that [Page 72] Claudius Tiberius, a man giuen ouer to al impietie, drunkennesse and riot, did then raigne, whom the souldiers by a Nickname called Biberim: He preferred a base felow who stood for the Quaestunship, before the most worthy and noble men, for that like a good fellow he had pledged him at a banquet, a whole Terse of wine, containing nine gallons, at one draught: and they were vsually the greatest men in his state, and the common wealth, that could drinke and eate most at a meale. Now it often falles out, like Prince, like Courtier, like people. The Apostles in diuerse places preached the Gospell, which many both of the Iewes and Gentiles withstoode, and woulde not embrace it, and for this cause God aflicted them with Famin, and other calamities. Eusebius writeth, that in the time of Maximinus, the cruell sucker of Christians blood, there was such a Dearth, that [Page 73] euen the wealthie of the land fell downe dead in the streetes for hunger, and were deuoured by hungrie Dogges. A iust iudgement of God, for not long before, hee had cast many Christians to wilde beasts to be deuoured. It shall not be needfull to single out euerie cause or time, why or when God plagueth, either particularly, or generally this way, the first Sermon hath many examples to that purpose. How of late yeares the price of things hath been inhaunced, how scarce victuals hath beene, and in the meane time what notable sinnes haue and doe still raigne in the land, euery man seeth: so that wee cannot deny, but that God hath iust cause to continue among vs this his fearful and terrible iudgement. If we shall shift and examin our maners, we shal find the very same grieuous sins, for which God in scripture reproueth and thus visiteth his people, to be so [Page 74] rife or common among vs, that there may be small hope that he will withdrawe his iudgement. The maladie is past al remedie, and as Ieremie speaketh, the sore by custome being insensible, is become vncurable. What contempt of God his word? either not at all heard, or very little regarded: yet hath God stirred vs vp by wonders and signes in heauen and earth, but presentlie they are forgotten. Flashes of fire in the aire, as though the heauen had beene inflamed, Comets of diuerse sorts, like rods, like swordes. Manie Inundations, incredible hailes, vnusuall stormes, rough and raging tempests of wind, of water, earthquakes straunge and dreadfull, with other wonders of like nature, but what one man almost is moued thereby. Some because they are oft seen, little regard the~, & denie them to be the Signes of Gods wrath, rather to be the Tokens of prosperitie. The holy name of the [Page 75] mightie God, how often, how rashly is it prophaned? some either of lightnesse, or ill custome, thinke there is no grace in their words, vnlesse they imbosse them with oathes of this sacred name, & that without any cause or motiue thereto. Horrible execrations, oaths, imprecations, and curses daily heard, yet no man trembleth, no man, according to his duty reproueth the offe~ders, who~ our ancesters were wont to punish, by making them to kisse the ground groueling: but now no feare of an oath, all sorts of people swell with enuy, hatred, malice. Murder is ma~hood. Bloodshed & vngodly wars, ye means to increase wealth: so many dead paies beguiling the prince weakning the army, but inriching the captains. Strange and raunging lusts, whoredomes, incests, adulteries are turned off with a laughter, so far fro~ beeing punished. In this case more prophane then the prophane Gentiles, [Page 76] who euen abhorred these villainies. Excesse in apparell, as it argueth the leuitie and wantonnesse of the mind, by daily changing of fashions, apishly imitating the French, Spanish, & Italian cut: so doth it transforme vs into their lewd manners: wherein not youths onely, but olde Dotards also (whome it as well beseemeth, as a Fiddle doth an Asse) do offend. Euerie man in his Veluet, Silkes, Golde, Siluer, Pearles, whereas in the meane time, the poore and needie in great numbers sterue for cold & nakednes. Quaffing Drunkennesse, which al men not long since abhorred, of late is made the onely grace of a feast. As for Couetousnesse being the roote of all euils, it hath brought forth fruit accordingly. For hence haue sprung Vsuries, Monopolies, straunge artes (cousinage in deede) in counterfeit coyning, in deceytfull couenaunts, in false bargaining, farre woorse and [Page 77] more craftie then the verie circumcised Iewes, yet these, though in a common prouerbe they bee vsuallie called Iewes for their crueltie and knauery, are notwithstanding aduanced to hiest places of dignitie, or else are planted about the greatest men of the land. Such are the tymes, and so straunge the manners of men. But I appeal to you that commit these sins, what will these ill gotten goods profite you, which by others mens vndoing you haue scraped and raked together? They neuer thriue to the third heires, to whom you leaue nothing else but stuffe & fuell to inflame the heate of their impietie. What can you answer for your selues to Christ comming in iudgement, at that great account of your deedes and words? But little doth this moue you or any almost in this so wicked an age, where sins are customably committed without shame, without fear, [Page 78] without punishment, so desperatly, so openly, that now custom hath changed vice into vertue, at least couered most foule sinnes vnder the name of vertue. The Vsurer is a good husba~d, the Drunkard a merie mate: the Dingthrif a great housekeeper. Shall these figge leaues keepe Gods iudgement from you? Then haue the Prophets prophecied in vaine, and God himselfe hath threatned to no purpose: which for a Christian to conceiue were horrible, especially since so strange a corruption hath infected all states of men, as but glauncing at the~, you may see: so that if God punish vs more fiercely we cannot blame his rigour, nor accuse him of iniustice. Ministers negligent in their charges and duties, dissolute in theyr life, light in behauiour, offensiue to the worlde, either ambitiouslie compassing preferments, or couetouslie pinching their Tables and [Page 79] almes. Manie Magistrates, rather desiring honours, then the due maintenaunce of good Lawes, or reformation of manners, preferring their priuate good, before the weale publike, remisse in punishing grieuous offences, especially in the [...]ycher sort, whom they feare to offend. Man and wife agree like Dogges and Cats, continually iarring and snarling, Parents. bestowing the blowes vppon each other which would doe their children more good, whom, forsooth they so cocker that the winde must not blowe vpon them: and so marre them by their indulgence, or else by ill example, either of vnseemelie talke, or loose life. Artizans idle in their trade, all estates, ages, and degrees of me~ wholy depraued: so that it is maruaile that God layeth not yet a sorer iudgement vppon vs, thus deseruing it. But you will say, if Dearth and Scrarcitie, bee the [Page 80] punishment allotted for sinne, wherfore then are the godlie therewith plagued? as we see by the examples of Abraham, Isaac, Iacob, and others of whom we spake before. In the dayes of Ahab, many godly in Israel this way afflicted: God himselfe confessing that there were seuen thousande which neuer bowed knee to Baal, Why the godly are thus distressed. distressed. yet they thus distressed, and fed priuily by Obadias in caues. Paule 1. Cor. 11. felt this scarcitie. Many of the Saintes killed with Famine: in the 11. to the Hebrewes, Wandring about in Desarts, in dennes, in holes, on hilles, where commonly is no great plentie? Wee aunswere, that euen the most faithful are sinners, their corruption naturall wil sticke by them to the death, although it brake not out into manifest blaines and grosse sinnes: and yet sometimes it doth, as when they are slacke in punishing offenders, or backwarde in preferring men of good qualitie [Page 81] and desert: so that it is good for them that God punisheth them in their bodies, for if in his exact iudgement hee should deale with them, they should be in daunger of eternall perdition. But this happily will not satisfie you, for if Idolatry and notorious crimes, are to be punished with Dearth and Famine, the~ should they bee most subiect to this plague, which are more wicked then any other. For thogh the godly haue their slips and straines, yet it greeueth them that their standing is so slippery, and their knees so weake, they wish that they might shake off those occasions to sinning, but the Infidels and impudent sinners little regard anie amendment, which think it not inogh to offende God themselues, but are readie to drawe other into the same pitfals, yea and are angrie, as the Apostle speaketh, if others will not goe on with them in that excesse of riot: and yet these are no more, nay not so much [Page 82] punished as the other, hauing in such times of Famine their arts and shiftes, by which they not onely scape the brunt of this heauie iudgement, but inrich themselues therby. Rather had the godlie starue for hunger, then to vse these sleightes to preserue their life, and yet is their condition no better then theirs. This tentation hath in all ages much distracted and troubled the mindes of the verie best men: & hath forced them to doubt of gods prouidence, as though hee regarded not the actions of men, whether good or ill. Malachy in his third & fourth Chapter saith, that many haue burst out into these blasphemies, It is in vain to serue the Lorde, and it is all one to doo well or ill, for neither is the iust rewarded, nor the ill man punished. But we must know, there is a great difference betweene the wicked and godly in the like punishment: as also that (albeit sinne is the principall and chiefe [Page 83] cause of all mischiefe) for other causes God dooth afflict men with Famine, Swoord, or Pestilence. The two Theeues on the Crosse died the like death, yet great was the difference betweene them, the one patiently taking his death, and acknowledging Christ to be the Messias: the other storming at his punishment, and scorning our Sauiour to his face. Many causes there are which moue God to punish his children more then others, as we shall in briefe see for our comfort.
First God by Famin & such like plagues [ 1] stirreth vp his chosen to a more earnest repentance: for presently vpon the infliction of any punishment, the godly search out the cause thereof. When Dauid saw the dearth of victuals ceased not, he inquired of the Lord wherefore hee was so angry with his people. Answer was made him as you heard before. Ofttimes the faithful fal [Page 84] into many errors and sinnes, neither can they bee recalled into the right way, vnlesse God by punishment do fetch them in. Amos cap. 1, God complaineth, that although he had punished his people with scarcitie of bread and drinke, yet they returned not vnto him. Whereout we gather, that God therefore sendeth Famine vppon the earth, that Men may bee turned to him. As we plucke backe and stay our horses if either they gallop too fast, or goe any thing out of the way, so doth God reduce vs into a right path with such chastisements. If a boy that is put to learning, either runne away, or play the treuant, presently we send for him to fetch him to schoole, perhaps with a rodde at his backe.
[ 2] Secondly, God by these trieth our faith in him, and our loue towardes our neighbours, as also our patience in our selues. Wee many times persuade our selues that we haue a sound [Page 85] faith, yet if wee bee any long time pincht with anie distresse, then wee feele how necessary it is to crie with the Apostle, Lord increase our faith. Peter walked vpon the lake when Christ bid him, but feeling the winde so fierce, and his ground so slipperie, in dismay of minde hee began to sinke, that by his maisters hand he might be supported. Math. 14. God will trie our behauior toward our neighbors, either in the paiment of our debts, or in lending to the needie, or giuing freely, and such like: againe howe patiently we can endure the crosse, whereof, we glorie much before miseries come, but when they light vpon vs in some weight and number, then we grow discontented and impatient, feeling our owne infirmities how weake and fraile we are. The soldier which neuer saw a pight field, promiseth himself much courage, but whe~ he seeth the armies ioyne, hears [Page 86] the thundring of the Cannons, and spies a tempest of bullettes whirling, beholdes riuers of mens bloud flowing, and heapes of his fellowes lying some dead, some wounded, then hee trembleth and quaketh, wishing himself at home. God knowes our weaknesse before he chasten vs, yet lest we should thinke better of our selues then we ought, he will make vs feele his hand, that we may confesse it our selues. Some will not stick to say, I wil rather die then rob: (alas not knowing the gripes of hunger and Famine, which wil, as we say, breake through stone walles,) who afterwarde beeing in want, are driuen to fall into suche leaude practises, for life is sweete.
[ 3] Thirdly, hee will in a manner preuent these afflictions, that is, keep vs from falling into more greeuous enormities, like a skilfull Phisitian that giueth his patient phisicke to preuent [Page 87] a disease to which he is inclining: so dealeth God with vs, that we might say to our selues as our Sauiour to the woman. Iohn 8, Goe thy wayes, sinne no more, lest a worse thing happen vnto thee. The Germans haue a prouerbe (which we in Englande vse) The burnt childe dreads the fire. So if any haue bene once distressed, hee will beware lest hee fall into the same or some greater danger.
There is also another cause why god thus exerciseth his childre~, namely that they may pray earnestly, for such is our nature, that if he afflict vs not, we are more slack in praying. For Plentie makes wantonnesse: and prosperitie, dissolute. Which mischiefes Famine and calamities preuent, making vs more instaunte in prayer. They that are full fedde prooue vnthankfull, who if they be but toucht with want, then flie they vnto him, whome before they forgatte, and not for themselues onelie, but for [Page 88] others also that are in like sort distressed. And if it please God to deliuer them for that once, they after proue more thankfull to God, more carefull in their duties, and more pitiful to the needie.
[ 5] Again, this and other such miseries humble vs vnder the mightie hand of God. Our flesh swelleth, and like Sathyrions pelles or skinnes (which as they write, will not lie still in the bottome of a presse or chest though kept downe with cloathes, but will swell and rise vp) we are of vnquiet & restlesse minds, houen & lifted vp, knowing neither our selues, nor GOD. Wherefore he cuts our combes, and tames our flesh with these wants, teaching vs what we lacke, and how necessarie his grace is for vs. The whole race of mankind, if all their forces and witts were vnited, is not able to bring forth a stalke from out the earth, or to create a grape, and yet they bear them [Page 89] selues so loftily, as if they could liue without gods blessing and help: who if he withdraw his hand, they are like those whome wee teach first to go or swim, let goe our hold, the one falles, the other sinkes: all which in our fulnesse we consider not.
Furthermore, God by these & such other, kindleth in the godly an earnest desire of the other life to come, with the contempt of this Discontenting world. For if we should here liue at harts ease without any crossing, we would loue this life too well, and not regard that at al: yea much adoo haue we (euen for all these sorts and varieties of plagues, iniuries, malice & villanies of men) to weane our selues from the loue of this worlde: much more hardly would wee bee drawne from it, if none of these should happen to vs. Still we hope that our state will be bettered, but all in vaine, for experience shewes, that it is like daily [Page 90] to bee worse. They therefore who wish for a longer life in hope of a better state here, may as well think that a garment will be the better the longer and oftener it is worne. Our whole life, saith the prouerbe, is but a vale of miserie. Art thou a single man? thou hast no care but for thy self: hast thou a wife? that is a double care: will she not be ruled by thee? that is a miserie: an vntamed wife? Is her alliaunce rich? they will disdaine thy kindred: they will be thy maisters. Are they poore? they will be thy boorders, and lie vppon thy charge: hast thou children? thy cares are the more, the elder they wax, the greater is thy trouble. But if thou wantest for thy selfe and them things necessarie, now art thou wearie of this life, and desirest to be dissolued and to be in heauen, where there is no want of food or raiment, but a life Angelicall, without care or trouble, and the sooner the [Page 91] better thou thinkest, because there is a more speedy riddance from these calamities.
Lastly, God by punishing his children, [ 7] makes them an example of patience to all others. The godly seeing them in these afflictions so patient, so constant, so faithfull, so thankfull, reape much comfort therby, hoping for the like helpe from God, in their like distresse: For thus they reason within themselues: God doth assist them by his holie spirit, to take all things patiently, so wil he also be present with mee, arming mee with the same minde against all suche calamities. And the wicked thereby may conclude, that if God thus punish his owne children, they must looke for a more greeuous chastisement. If it fare so with the greene and frutefull tree, what shall become of the withered branch? In brief, all sorts may obserue by this his correction of his owne [Page 92] chosen, thus fearefully the heauie iudgement, and direfull wrath of the iust God against mens sinnes, that sithence hee chasteneth small sinnes in them, much more will hee scourge them that sinne with an hie hand: and that offe~d with a presumptuous foot. But, to conclude: you hauing heard for the most part the causes and motiues that prouoke God to sende this plague of Famine, with other publike and priuate afflictions vpon men, not sparing his owne elect and faithfull, let vs desire of God patience in such distresses, and repentance from sinne, the causes principall of such distresses. To him be glorie and praise, &c.
AS an expert Phisitian first sheweth the causes and danger of the disease, and after that, prescribeth to his patient both phisick to cure him, and the order of his diet: the same course must a spirituall Phisitian take in any publike plague of Famine and Dearth: namely, to make men both feele the greeuousnesse of the calamitie, & also to teach them their dutie of demeanor in this publike or priuate affliction. And this course haue wee hitherto obserued in the two former Sermons, setting foorth God to be the authour of plentie and want, with the dreadfulnesse of Famin, and that our sinnes are the only motiues which prouoke [Page 94] God thereto: and lastly, the end why God doth punish in this sort, as well his chosen children, as the wicked Atheist. Nowe it remaineth that I prescribe the Diet, that is, the maner of our behauiour in such afflictions. And herein that we may more orderly proceed, we will first shewe what duerie belongeth to the Church of Christ in these cases, afterward what concerneth Magistrates, Preachers, Housholders, rich & poore of all sorts to do herein: particularly adding this as the preparatiue to our diet, that wee aduertise the Faithfull not so to dispaire in these punishments, as if God had reserued to them no hope of mercie and assistance, though their sinnes be great and many.
Salomon in this his prayer, among other thinges, warneth the godlie, that in the time of Dearth and Penurie they doo confesse theyr sinnes, bewayle them, and amende theyr [Page 95] liues, not onelie in ceassing to doo ill, but in dooing good. For by these miseries it pleaseth GOD to call vs into the way of godlinesse. After, hee willeth vs to praise the name of God, by acknowledging both his iudgement, and his mercie, that in punishing our sinnes thus, in that he vtterly ouerthroweth vs not. For it is his mercies that wee are not all consumed. For if hee should marke extreamely what is done amisse and punish vs accordingly, both in this life miserably, and in the other we should bee eternally afflicted. It is the nature of man from Adam, saith Iob, to conceale his owne fault and to laie it vppon another: and so in the time of Famine, manie crie out vppon Cornhoorders, Vsurers, Ingrossers, Witches and Coniurers, as if they were the onelie procurers of Scarcitie, (and sometimes perhappes not amisse) but this is the [Page 96] more Christian and nearest course to haue recourse to our selues, euerie man to say of himselfe herein, as Dauid spake in a like punishment, It is I that haue sinned, and haue brought on this iudgement. Furthermore, he biddeth vs desire God for Christ his sake to turn away these greeuous stormes, rains or tempests, as also vnseasonable droughts, which are secundary causes of this plague. The temple of Salomon was a type & representation of Christ and his Church, so that he requesting the Almightie to heare his people praying in that Temple, it is all one as if he had desired the Father to heare them for, and in the name of his sonne Christ. From whence also it is euide~t, that, because God only knoweth the hearts of men, Salomon is of this minde, that God onely is to be prayed vnto. Oft-times wee onely pray in hart, sildom expressing our thoughts by woorde of mouth, and manie [Page 97] times we are troubled in our praiers, so that we cannot vtter what we conceiue, especially our speach failing vs, as at the instant of death. So that the praiers made to them which hear vs not, are in vaine, neither vnderstanding our thoughts, nor knowing our wants, nor able to supplie our necessities, nor to rid vs from any trouble. Paule. Rom. 10. saith, that he onely is to be praied to in whom we beleeue, and we beleeue in none but in God. Again, in Scripture there is neither precept, nor example, nor promise made, to praiers and inuocation of saints. That which they bring out of Ezechiell, is a verie lame one, as after shall appeare. The Popish sort in these times of Distresse, flie to their Letanies and Processions, as to their sacred Anchor, which as they are vsed by them are meere forgeries of men, and derogation to God, Gregorie the great, and Claudius Mamertin Bishop of Vienna, first inuenting [Page 98] them: wherein God hath the least part, Angels, Patriarches, Martyrs, Confessors, Virgins, Widowes, filing vp the row and roome, whom they haue canonized as their Turn-away Gods, to rid them from such plagues, which is in the onely wisedome and power of God himselfe. But what are the things which wee must desire of God? Surelie that it would please him not to deale with vs after our desertes, but to turne from vs, or at least diminish the grieuousnesse of this affliction, graunting vs patience and thankefulnesse, with amendment of life, and desire of doing well. Christ willes vs to pray for our daylie bread, that is, for the thinges which concerne this and the other life: all which as wee must earnestlie entreate, so we must as constauntlie beleeue, that hee is able and willing to perfourme that wee desire: Vsing in the meane [Page 99] time these lawful and honest meanes, patientlie induring his heauie hand till it please him to ease vs, and auoyding those thinges which may eyther hinder the feruencie of our prayers, or prouoke his displeasure further: hauing rather an especiall regarde to the ordering and bettering of our lyues, which course the holie Scriptures commend and set out.
The Israelites being slaine by the Philistims, and the Arke of God taken: 1. Samuel. 1. Sam. 7.3. exhortes them to repent, 1. Sam. 7.3. and by forsaking the Heathenish Idolles, heartily to turne to their God, who would deliuer them if they did so: and the euent proued this promise true. Which example though it concerne Warre, yet may it as well serue for Famin and Dearth. The same order did Daniell obserue. Dan. 9.5, 6. Wee haue sinned, and haue committed iniquitie, [Page 100] and haue done wickedly, yea, wee haue rebelled, and haue departed from thy precepts, and from thy iudgements. For wee would not obey thy seruaunts the Prophets, which spake in thy name to our Kings, to our Princes, to our Fathers, and to all the people of the land. He confesseth that euerie one had sinned, excepting none: although some had offended more grieuously, yet all were guiltie of some sinnes. See Amos 4. and Ioel. 1. and 2. Chap. Thus haue all the godlie behaued themselues, not despairing of Gods grace, nor denying the faith, nor flying to meanes vnlawfull and extraordinarie in the Famine. The Prodigall Sonne, the liuely remembrance of mankind, broght himselfe by his owne folly into these streights, that for very hunger he was driuen to bee Swineheard, and full glad he was if he might be so happie but to feede so well as his hogs: but this Penurie making him to remember [Page 101] himselfe, hee returned to his Fathers house, & spying his father, cried out vnto him a farre off, Father I haue sinned against heauen, and against thee, neither am I worthie to be called thy sonne. A verie good president for vs when God visiteth with scarcitie and want, to acknowledge our owne faults, and flie to him for a supply thereof, who is as readie to receiue vs, as wee are willing to returne to him: which if we omit, either in neglecting him, and his worde, or not regarding the amendement of our liues, or slacke assiduitie of our praiers, no maruaile it is if God weigh vs downe with his heauie hand. Iam. 4.2 Iam. 4.2. Ye fight, and warre and get nothing, because ye aske not: yee aske and receiue not, because you aske amisse, that ye might consume it on your lusts. Ezechiel in his fourth Chapter telleth vs, that euen the praiers of the most godly men are not allowed of God, vnlesse they for whome they [Page 102] pray doe repent. Although Noah, Daniel, and Iob, these three men stande vp, yet shall they onelie saue their soules in their righteousnesse. So speaketh Ieremie. 15. Chapter. If Moses and Samuel were before me, I woulde not yet regarde this people: Cast them out of my sight, that they may go. And if they say whither? then say vnto them, such as are appoynted to the sworde, to the sworde: and such as are for the Famine, to the Famine. The Iewes relyed much vpon the prayers of the faythfull: what neede wee feare, say they the Prophets threates, sithence there are so manie good men praying for vs, whome GOD no doubt will heare. Well, sayeth the Prophet, bee it that euen these the most faithfull seruants of the Lorde doe pray for you, yet shall they not auaile you. By which wee learne that other mens prayers are nothing profitable to the vnrepentant sinner. Therefore in the seuenth [Page 103] of Ieremie, God saith vnto the Prohet: Pray not for this people, neyther lift vp thy voice for them. Thus was Samuel reiected when he prayed for Saule. Now then if the praiers of such faithfull men will not preuaile with God, much lesse the Orisons of Superstitious Hirelings, worse perhappes then they for whome they pray. Againe, if the prayers of the godlie alone heere on earth profite nothing, [ 4] can we thinke that they which are in heauen, and deliuered from the sense of these calamities, can ayde or ridde vs from them? So that to ground vppon these places, the Inuocation of Saints, is most ridiculous. For the Proposition is conditionall, and as Zuinglius hath well obserued vppon that place of Ieremie. The Prophete sayeth, If they shoulde stande, not, they doe stande and intreate. For it is a Proposition, or a supposition of persons, which [Page 104] were and are not: as if he should say, If Iob and Noah were now aliue, and would request your deliuerance and ease, I would not bee entreated by them. Moreouer, Daniel whom Ezechiell nameth, was then aliue: so that to argue from this place for the Inuocation of Saints departed, is as the Prophet Esay speaketh, from the liuing to the dead. It is rather an argument of the possibilitie of God his attonement, who so euer should pray vnto him. And let the Papists answere me, Whether were the fathers before Christ in heauen or no? No: say they, but in Limbo Patrum: how could they then pray in heauen? Let vs therfore make this our conclusion: with our heartie praiers to God alone, to ioyne the amendment of our liues: he is readie, and this will moue him to attention. In which case I must exhort euerie state and degree particularly. First, the godly Magistrate ought to put to [Page 105] his helping hand, by remouing those causes which doe draw vpon the subiect these great plagues: for the cause being remoued, the effect ceasseth. Dauid faithfully discharged his dutie herein, inquiring into the cause of that Famine, as you haue heard before, and knowing it, he remoued it, and the Famine ceased. In this behalfe many Princes are faultie, who liue as they list, pampering themselues in their owne pleasures, neither regarding the neede of the distressed subiect, nor searching into the cause of the iudgement, nor seeking the meanes how to pacifie Gods wrath: whereas good Magistrates ought to suppresse those vices, which are principally outwarde causes (much lesse to licence them) as Monopoles, Ingrossing, Hoording, Dycing, Whoring: Excesse in meate, drinke, and apparell, especially in young men squandring their goodes, whome it is good [Page 106] in time to keepe short, least they runne ryot. For it is too late, (as wee in prouerbes speake) When steede is stolne to make the stable holde. When flocke is fledde, to seeke to pinne the folde. Our auncestours were woont to haue lawes, which they called Leges sumptuariae, to restraine excessiue expenses: which were not amisse in our time to bee executed, as verie necessarie for the preuention of beggerie: as also to bridle the vnconscionable and lewde practises of those Wealth-deuouring vermine before named, which inhaunce the price of thinges at their pleasures, and grinde the faces of the poore, of which you haue an excellent example in the fifth Chapter of Nehemiah. The Famine waxing very great among the people, the poorer sort complayned grieuouslie, that the mightie and wealthie men lent vpon sore Vsurie, and tooke to pledge their [Page 107] sonnes and daughters, and that they were as sorely oppressed by their brethren, as if they were prisoners vnder an Heathen Tyrant: and if Nehemiah had not wiselie preuented it, this clamour had soone bredde to an Vprore: for hee in a zealous and louing regarde of his Countrey men and Brethren, neyther obiected to himselfe the enuie of the cause that hee tooke in hande, nor yet the vnlikelihoode to bring it to passe, neither the daunger of his owne safetie, but boldlie hee rebuked the Auncient that they were no more forwarde in the redresse of this fault. Hee summoned an assemblie, where both Creditor and Debtor, both Lender and Borrower, should appeare, and arguing in the presence of them all, by reasons Politique and Diuine, that the rich were extreamelie too blame therein, first, sayeth hee, we (meaning Ezra, Zerubbabel, [Page 108] and himselfe) haue brought the people from bondage, and therefore it is not for you to lay new yokes and burthens vpon your brethren. Secondly what would the Heathen say, and howe would they reioyce to see this exaction? so that if you feared God, or regarded man, you woulde not doe it. Lastly, he mooueth them by his owne example, to restore to them their pledges and morgages of landes and houses, and their pawnes of what kinde soeuer: and thus in the ende hee brought his purpose to passe. Which example I wish the Princes, and Magistrates of our time, woulde in these hard yeares immitate and follow. The Romanes and other Countreyes had theyr Garner-wardeins, who to preuent an imminent Dearth, or Famine, sent abroade their Purueyours for corne, to buie it into the land: such had Salomon. 1. Reg. 4. Againe it would [Page 109] bee verie profitable to a Commonwealth, if in plentifull yeares the Magistrates woulde lay vp Corne in their Garners publique, eyther to lende, or vpon a reasonable price to sell to the Husband-men Seedecorne, and to the poore Breadcorne. That was Iosephs policie in Pharaohs lande, which if hee had not done, the Famine had prooued farre more daungerous. Eusebius Ecclesiast. Histor. Lib. 2. Cap. 12. wryteth of Helena Queene of the Nation called Adiabeni, who in a Famine wherewith Iewrie was afflicted, bought Corne of the Egyptians, and distributed it amongst the Iewes. Of which also Iosephus is witnesse. In that Famine which raged Anno. 649. whereof I spake in the ende of my first Sermon, Nauclerus maketh an honourable mention, of King Clodouey, hee commaunded a roofe which was made of pure Syluer, [Page 110] to bee taken downe and distributed peecemeale among the poore. Prophane Stories of the Heathen commende this liberalitie to the poore in distresse. Gilbias Agrigentinus, as Val. Max. writeth of him, gaue liberall and daylie doale to the needie, and large dowries to poore Maydens, insomuch that the Citie of Agritentum, and all the neighbour Cities there abouts, were much relieued and comforted by his largesse. Our chronicles of Heluetia haue a memorable example of liberalitie to the poore. There was one Nicholas a noble man of Kaezingen, a wretch wonderfully sordid, base and couetous, who after some yeares got to be Bishop of Constance, Anno. 1334. or there aboutes, and not satisfied with this fat and rich Bishoprike, nor his couetous raking & gathering goods for all this stinted: yet vpon the suddaine he was as strangelie altered (as [Page 111] the Poet faignes Euclio that famous Cormullion) for in the yeares. 1343. and 1344. there fell a great Famin vpo~ the whole vpper Countrey of Germanie, in both which yeares he so wel vsed his gathered goods, that thrise in a weeke he fed and nourished some tymes three, and some times foure thousande, with bread and broath, and oft times 4500. which came togither in flockes from the neighbour and bordering Countreys. He ending his life presently vpon the ceassing of this Dearth, all the poore of the Countrey, in remembraunce of their good Benefactour, followed his corps from the House where hee dyed (beeing a Castle belonging to the See) into the Mother Citie Constance, where hee was interred. An example woorthie the imitation of Prelats, and great men. Many perhaps in such extremities woulde relieue their poore, but it lyes not in their [Page 112] power to doe it, for not knowing what afterclaps may folow, they cannot safely distribute, and giue out their corne as they would. Somtimes such an inconuenience, or rather mischiefe followes, that for want of graine, the Cities must bee yeelded vp to thee enemy. We reade of Phalaris the tyrant, that by this stratageme hee gate to possesse the most strongly defenced places of Sicilie: for faigning the making of a league with the Inhabitaunts, he gaue them Corne for store, but withall secretlie tooke order that their Garners, and Loftes should bee open to the raine, that so the weather beating in, the Corne woulde prooue vtterlie vnwholesome, and so vnprofitable. They poore soules, trusting to his prouision, either neglecting their tillage, or rioting out their owne store, when he came vpon them and besieged them at vnwares, which was his [Page 113] custome, for want of sustenance they were forced to yeeld. There are men of that qualitie to set out all at a lumpe in one day, not forethinking of an ensuing want. Salo. Pro. 6. by the example of the Ants, teacheth vs how carefully and prouidently we should laie vp against the time to come. The Citie of Zurick is heerein much to bee commended, Zurick. in that not onely they giue things necessarie both for backe and belly to manie poore daily, vpon the Citie charge: but in time of Dearth they sel vpon a reasonable rate al kind of grain, as well to the reliefe of their citizens distresses, as also the foreiners comming to their markets may store themselues at a lesse price. And the citie of Strasborough, famous in it selfe, but more renowmed, for that in the yeares of Dearth, the yeares 1517. and 1529. and other such times, they gaue out of their publike granaries, both to Citizens and straungers, corne at an [Page 114] easie reckoning, besides the reliefe which their poore citizens and others receiued from them in mony and victuals. Besides this, it is the Magistrates dutie to see that Almes be disposed to the right vse. For some Cathedrall and also parish Churches, haue yearly reuenewes & stocks of money left vnto them for the poores reliefe, which comming into Rich & sometimes into Church-mens hands, being called to no account nor reckening, the pore are no whit the better for it. Of that nature is that Doale of Bread & Flesh vpon set Dayes giuen to the poore, which the Germanes call Spenda, either of the Dutch word which signifieth to expend or laie out, or of the Greeke word [...] that is, to sacrifice, beeing one of the most acceptable sacrifices to God. Hebr. 13. Moreouer, it concerns the Magistrate to take order that the people bee set on worke, in anie case let them not [Page 115] be idle, and for those lazie Lurdens, those valiaunt Rogues, and stout beggers, that like Locustes burthen the lande, and eate vp the fruite thereof, whereby the poore labouring man and impotent person should be relieued, to banish them the Countrey: but whatsoeuer befalles, to see the poore which would and cannot worke, relieued. Paul disdained not to bring the almes to the poore at Ierusalem, which the faithful had giuen and gathered in Macedonia & Achaia. And to this purpose of prouision for the poore, he is verie careful in the rest of his Epistles. The Ministers of the word are also to teach the people out of the holie scripture, that plentie is Gods blessing, and withall, that sinne is the cause of scarcitie: they must stirre them vp to repentaunce, comforte the distressed and poore, exhort the rich to enlarge their hands, and to ope~ their hands more liberally [Page 116] and fully in this hard time, yea [and themselues not to soiourne (like our Gentlemen) out of their Countrey, but lie vppon their benefices for the greater reliefe of the poore, and for the better example to all.] And also to ioyne their praiers in earnest maner to Almightie God, that he would looke downe with his fauourable countenance, and deale mercifully with his people: so did Ieremy and Amos, cap. 7. and both were heard. Iames ca. 5. saith, That the prayer of a iust man preuayleth much. For example whereof, he bringeth in the storie of Eliah, Opening and shutting the heauens with his prayers. So that in anie case the Ministers, especiallie they which haue the Poore mens stock committed to them, must not at such times faile. Housholders, both man and woman, must instruct their children to know that they hold what euer they haue in Fra~ckalmoin, from God, and that their meate and [Page 117] drinke it is. Gods prouision and blessing, for if he do but shut his hand, all things decaie and are scant: and from their infancy to teach them, that at sitting downe & rising from meat, they giue him thankes from whome alone they receiue it. Rich men aboue all, in the time of Famin, must haue especiall regard to the poore, for which cause, God hath endowed them with that great wealth. If thou haue Farmers whose corn and increase yeeldeth not proportionably to their labours nor their charge, vrge them not too veheme~tly to the paiment of their debts and rents. Vexe not thy Tenants, nor raise their rents, conceiuing this with thy selfe, how hard it is for them to gette whereby they may maintaine bread, cloth, and fuel. As for thy Debters which are burthened with many children (and be no wilfull vnthrifts) forbeare them, and be not too haftie nor rigorous with them. Pay the Labourer [Page 118] his wages duly, and rather with the most, if thou see hee want. Paule 1. Tim. 6. chargeth rich men to laie vp for themselues treasure in heauen, by being liberall and beneficiall to the poore: An almes, which no doubt, God will blesse with increase. Not many yeares since, Idols of gold and siluer were set vp, and shrines erected for sacrifices and gifts to be offered there, as if heereby God had bene well pleased: but this we know out of Gods booke, that if these liuely Images of God, that is, the poore and needie be cloathed, fed and relieued, it is a sacrifice more acceptable to him. But you will say, your charge is great, & so you cannot spare it them so well. Lessen therfore your owne excesse in meates, drinke, apparrell, housholde stuffe set out rather for shewe, then necessitie and vse. Inuite the poore as Christ willeth to thy feastes. Amos complaines and inueighes against the [Page 119] rich of his time, that they liued at ease and fared delicately, neuer regarding the pouertie of their neighbors, the affliction of Ioseph: such as was that Gurmandizing glutto~, who spent so much vpon his paunch daily, not vouchsafing poore Lazarus his crummes. Farre better dealt Charles the great, who daily in his Court relieued in his presence a certaine number of poore, thereby both to put himselfe in minde of Christ and his Disciples: and also to temper and moderate his great & hie authoritie: but if thou wilt not bid them home (because cloth-laying is costly) yet send them some sustenance for themselues and their children. Strange it is to see, what a deale of wine is sumptuously quaffed and carowsed by common drunckardes, how much swilled in by challenging Cupmates, the worth whereof, woulde verie largely relieue a number of poore soules.
A straunge besotting sinne, a custom [...]barous, senselesse, gracelesse. Thou wouldest thinke thou sinnedst greeuously, if thou should cause one to beguile his brother of a farthing: but enforcing & prouoking him to drink himself downe, and vnder the boord, fearest thou not God, and account it but a sport? But to returne, let rich men principally bee verie carefull not to take occasion by the Dearth of victualls to spoyle the poore, whome they should rather relieue: for there are some of that nature, that in such hard times seeke to inrich themselues, by vndoing or oppressing the poore: and when they shuld be thinking of their sinnes which haue caused these afflictions, then are they casting with them selues how to raise the price and to ingrosse the commodities. But such are followed with a curse, saith Salomon, Prou. 11. Hee that withdraweth the corne, the people wil curse him, but he that [Page 121] selleth it out, blessing shalbe vpon his head. Some againe are contriuing, how in the times of want, they, hauing present money, may buy at an easie penyworth, the lands, houses, & wood, of Banckrupts, and such as are in neede: whereas in Charitie they should succour them then most of all, lest they should be driuen to sell all. Surely riches thus gotten will not be blessed, nor long co~tinue. The wealth which is most iustly gathered, ofttimes slips away, no man knowes how: much greater vncertaintie is there in the riches of deceit and oppression. The Auditour will one day come for an account thereof. Heare what God himselfe speaketh concerning this, Leuit. 25.35, If thy brother be impouerished, and fallen in decaie with thee, thou shall relieue him, as a straunger and a soiourner. Thou shalt take no vsurie of him, nor vauntage, but thou shalt feare thy God, that thy brother may [Page 122] liue with thee. Thou shalt not giue him thy money to vsurie, nor lende him thy victualls for increase, &c Amos the Prophet, chapter 8. crieth out against those which abuse the want and scarcitie of things, to the vndoing of the poore, verse 4, Heare this, O yee that swallow vp the poore, that ye may make the needie of the land to faile, saying, when will the new Moone be gone that wee may sell corne? and the Sabaoth, that we may set foorth wheate, and make the Epha small, and the shekle great, and falsifie the weights by deceit. That wee may buy the poore for siluer, and the needie for shooes: yea and sell the refuse of the wheate. The Lorde hath sworne by the excellencie of Iacob, Surely I will neuer forget their woorkes. Shall not the lande tremble for this? and euerie one mourne that dwelleth therein? and it shall rise vp as a flood, and be drowned as by the flood of Egipt.
That is, as Munster expoundeth [Page 123] it, as Nilus by his inundation casteth vp all things which swimme therein, vppon the ground: so shall these deuouring beastes bee cast off from the earth that beares them. It were easie for mee to rehearse many examples of mercilesse rich men, punished by GOD greeuously. But letting all passe, let vs heare rather the last sentence of Christ himselfe in that his great day, after his separation made of the sheepe from the Goates: Come yee blessed of my Father, inherite you the kingdome prepared for you from the beginning of the world, for I was an hungred and yee gaue me meate, I thirsted and yee gaue mee drinke, I was a straunger, and yee lodged mee: Naked, and yee cloathed mee: Sicke, and yee visited mee: in prison, and ye came vnto mee.
What thinke you wil then become of Vsurers, Monopolists, Ingrossers, and [Page 124] all that vile generation, which haue not done the leaste woorke of mercie? who haue beene so farre from feeding the hungrie, that they haue rather deuoured them, by high prices, like hungrie dogges: and so farre from entertaining straungers and keeping hospitalitie, that they haue rather forced their neighbour and fellow Citizens, to leaue their Countrey, for extreame beggery, wrought by their crueltie. The naked they haue not clad, but their poore debters being not able to paie, haue they stript of house and home, and taken their pillows from vnder their heads. The sicke they haue not visited nor comforted, but by ingrossing commodities into their hands, and selling them as they list, they haue made many being not able to reach their price, to pine & starue for hunger. The prisoners haue they not relieued, nor redeemed, rather cast in more vnto the~ [Page 125] for no great weight: nor vppon any great want. To you I speake, you vnmercifull and cruell rich men of the world: ponder with your selues thorowly, and laie to your harts this sentence of our Sauiour, which you shal finde true to your owne destruction: and remember that which Salomon hath said, It is better to haue a little with the feare of the Lorde, then to haue great treasures otherwaies. Achan his example Iosh. 7, is memorable, for the euent of ill gotten goods: when the Cittie of Iericho was taken, hee priuily tooke a Babilonish garment, 2000. shekles of siluer, and a wedge of gold, thinking that no bodie should haue knowne thereof, that so himselfe and his children might thereby be inriched: but, as it is wel knowne, it cost him the life of himselfe and all that belonged vnto him. In which, there, by the way, ariseth a doubt, why God should punish the children being guiltlesse, for [Page 126] the fathers faulte? this may serue for a short solution. Ill gotten goods are a bane to the posteritie, as well as to the parentes. Many things there are which prouoke a man to gather wealth by ill meanes, for some dispairing of anie good way to come by them, vse all the badde shifts in the world to compasse them. Others againe not content with things necessarie, must forsooth haue wealth to spende riotously, and to maintaine their wiues and children excessiuelie, howe euer they compasse it, whether by hooke or crooke, they regard not. It is good, doubtlesse, to be carefull for them, so the care be moderate, neither distrustfull in God, nor offensiue to him. No doubt Achan had a respect that way, but the euent prooued it to be vnlawfull; and suche will bee the lot of those, which by vngodly meanes, as Thefts, Robberies, Pillage, raising of rents, ingrossing [Page 127] wares, and such like waies indeuor to fil their coffers: the only meanes to make their children watch for their death, as the Egles for a carkasse, who hauing once got that which their parents haue thus raked togither, out it goes merily til the bottom be bare, for it melts like snowe before the Sunne. Crates the Tbeba~, wondred at this preposterous care of pare~ts, regarding to leaue their children rich, but neither wise nor honest: for what should he do with wealth that knows not how to vse it? or what should a mad man do with a sword? Many by-words haue beene taken vp against ill gotten goods, and the euent hath made them as true as common. Among the rest, Ill gotten, Ill spent. And, The goods gotten by anothers annoy, The third heire shall not enioy. Mich. Cap. 6 compares the wealth that is compassed by guile and villanie, vnto a fire that shall consume the owners [Page 128] thereof. Many sentences in Salomons prouerbes, tending to this point: Better being a poore man with honestie, then a rich man by extremitie. The best care for childre~, is, to bring them vp in the feare and nurture of the Lord, and by good example to direct them: the only way to vndo them, is to leaue them the inheritaunce of such bad purchases. And so much for Rich men. The poore also which are pinched and distressed for want of victualls, with their wiues and children, must know there is a dutie for them to God and man. First therefore let them thinke, that this crosse is laide vpon them by God, and so with patience beare it. An easie matter to say so, you will aunswere, but not to doo it. I doo confesse, that our fleshe can hardly be brought to endure hunger, nor patiently brooke in that time to bee tolde of our dutie. The belly, as Cato said, hath no eares. Rather giue the [Page 129] hungrie meate, then preach to them of patience: they wish more to see what to eate, then to heare what to doo. Yet if they will but consider that this is sent vnto them by Gods will, not comming by chaunce or ill fortune, they will bee more patient. Secondlie, they must knowe, that God will heare their prayers if they call vnto him faithfully. The Lions roaring after their pray, doe seeke their meat at God, and he giues it them: He feedeth the young Rauens that call vppon him: much more men. Hee is our Father, as both in the Lordes Prayer, and in the Creede Apostolicall, wee daylie confesse, therefore perswade wee our selues that hee chasteneth vs for our amendement, not for our ouerthrowe: but of this before. Againe, let them remember, that they are not the first, nor shall bee the last this way to bee afflicted. Christ himselfe indured it for our [Page 130] sakes. Paule and other the Saints of God haue felt this want: and in brief, GOD hath promised, that neither this, nor anie other way hee will tempt vs aboue our strength. There is no father so hard hearted, that will lay any burthen vppon his childe, more heauie then hee can beare, or will suffer him to starue when hee may succour him: much lesse God, who hath more then a fatherly care ouer vs, will suffer vs to perish, hauing all thinges at his commaund, and many wayes to ridde vs from anie miserie, euen in the middest of all calamities to assist vs. So that let the poore sort in such distresse demeane themselues well and vprightlie, both to GOD and men: to God, by carefully auoyding those thinges whereby his wrath is prouoked, and by dayly requesting his fauourable aid and comfort: towarde men, those especially which haue relieued them, [Page 131] let them bee thankefull, and if they bee not able to pay their debts, let them intreate their Creditors to bee good vnto them till God make them able: for there are verily many good men, which by lending, giuing, suretiship, almes-deeds, forbearing and forgiuing debts, haue got themselues a good report, and haue comforted the poore afflicted: mary if once thou promise at a day to returne it, keepe thy day: for herein many debters are to blame, pretending charge of wife and children, and indeede spending that at drinking and gaming, which would both pay their debts, & maintain their family. Let the~ also vse good and honest meanes to rid themselues fro~ Famine, laboring with their hands for their liuing, and rather beg their bread fro~ door to door, the~ by wicked shifts to preue~t their pouerty. For this is one of Satan his occasio~s which he takes to prick men forward to all kind [Page 132] lewdnesse. Vprores, Mutinies, Thefts, Bawderie, and other such filthie gayning occupations: all which the godlier sort will carefully eschew. An honest matrone, if her modesty be tempted by shameles & impude~t teachers, she casts them off, and defies them: so should we doe with these sleights of the diuell, following the example of Christ, who hauing fasted 40. dayes in the desart, and then being hungry, the diuell tempted him, but he gaue him the auaunt, with the sworde of the spirit: and of Paul whom neither Famine nor death could separate from the loue God in Christ. We should be more faithfull then the Saguntines: they had rather die for hunger, then not to keepe their promise with their Confederates the Romanes. The Patriarks, as you heard, being vexed this way, chose rather to chaunge their country, then their Religion. A good document for these times, wherin religio~ [Page 133] is charged, as a cause of dearth. But if one sort of poore bee cruell to another, that is a mischiefe. Againe, let the poore be prouident in a plentifull haruest, to lay vp against a deare yeare, not to bee so wastfully giuen to spending, as before, but eeke it out to the vtmost. It is true which is common, Sparing is the best husbandrie, but if it be at the bottome, that thrift is too late. Manie deceiue themselues by thus reasoning: there are Hospitals and Spittles built for the poore: thus to be relieued is a miserable co~fort, which to want, would be more credite and hearts ease: and hee that spendes himselfe out of house and home, in hope of an Hospitall, is more fitte for a Prison then for a Spittle.
By this which hath beene spoken, we vnderstand what euery man in his seuerall place and dutie, and all sortes iointly, ought to do in any publike or [Page 134] priuate Famine, or Dearth. If there bee anie godly men which hope of no amendment of mens liues, yet let not them bee wearie of well doing, following the example of the wicked. For if Noah, and Lot, and other iust men had corrupted themselues with the worlde, they had also perished with the world. Now in the last place by the way of comfort, let vs heare the most pleasaunt promises of God, wherin he offereth aid and assistance to his children in these afflictions: auouching, if wee heare his worde, and walke in his wayes, that he will nourish vs in the time of Famine: and as Deut. 28. to the despisers of his law and will, hee threatneth hunger: so on the contrarie, to the obedient and faithfull, hee promiseth to open the treasures of his goodnesse, to giue raine and faire weather in due season, and to blesse the labour of their handes. And Leuit. 26. that the earth [Page 135] shall bring forth increase, and they shall bee satisfied with bread: and in this Chapter, God at the request of Salomon. promiseth to heare the prayers of the people thus afflicted, calling vnto him in that holie Temple. Eliphas in the booke of Iob. sayeth, That the Lord preserueth from death in Famine, and from the Sword in battaile. Prou. 10.3. The Lord will not famish the soule of the righteous. A sentence of sweete comforte agaynst this grieuous temptatio~, then which scarce can bee a greater. For wee are euer in feare least wee pine for hunger, and the nearer wee are to death, the more wee doo feare this want, and therefore a sentence to bee fullie weighed, and regarded.
Nowe him dooth Salomon call a Righteous man, which putteth his trust in the Lord, and followeth his vocation carefullie, and honestly, still preferring the kingdome of God, [Page 136] and his righteousnesse. Psal. 37. The kingly prophet Dauid saith. In the perillous time, they shal not be confounded, and in the daies of dearth they shall haue inogh. And presently after. I haue beene yong, and now am olde, yet neuer saw I the iust man forsaken, nor his seede begging bread. Although the iust bee mercifull and lendeth, yet his posteritie shall not want. Againe: Psalme. 33. Beholde the eye of the Lorde is vppon them that feare him, to deliuer theyr soules from death, and to feede them in the time of dearth. Againe, Psalme 34. The Lions lacke and suffer hunger, but they that feare the Lorde shall want no manner of thing that is good.
Manie are the testimonies of the Prophetes, wherein God sheweth that if his people turne vnto him with heartie repentaunce, hee will giue them plentie: As O see the second, Ioel the first and second, Amos the second. Zacharie the eight, Malachie the third. In [Page 137] which places God sheweth that hee will relieue vs if we do repent. Zach. 10.1. Aske yee of the Lorde raine, and it shall bee giuen you. Matth. 6. Christ though he forbid all anxietie and distrustfull care for the things of this worlde, yet hee promiseth all vnto them that first seeke his kingdome. Neither are they bare promises, but armed for our comfort with manifold examples, shewing how God hath fed manie, and freed more in the time of such distresse. Hee preserued Moses in the Mount Sinai, without either meate or drinke fortie dayes togither. He fed Eliah at the brooke Cherith, in the Wildernesse, and sent him foode by Rauens, relieuing an hungrie man by the helpe of deuouring foules. So dealt hee with the Widowe of Sarept [...], for giuing the Prophet that one loafe of bread which she had left, albeit she looked for no other but death, whe~ that was [Page 138] gone, neither the meal in her barrell, nor the oile in her cruse fayling, till the Famine ceased. Which example for the excellencie thereof our Sauiour repeateth, Luke 4. And againe, the same Prophet beeing persecuted by Iezabel, was fedde by an Angell in the desart, in the strength of which meate, he trauailed fortie dayes and 40. nights, to the Mount Horeb. God when hee brought his people out of Egypt (that you may see more generall examples of his prouidence) fedde and preserued them in the wildernesse straungely fortie yeares togither, insomuch that their Garments were not all that while worne; giuing them Manna from Heauen, appoynting them their daylie stint and portion. When they wanted fresh water, hee willed Moses to strike the Rocke, so that the verie Cattle drunke their fill, and beeing wearie of Manna, and longing for flesh, he [Page 139] gaue it them in aboundaunce, and verie plentifullie. For the Scripture sayth, There went a winde foorth from the Lord, and brought Quailes from the Sea, and let them fall vpon the Campe, a dayes iourney on this side, and a dayes iourney on the other side, round about the host, and they lay the thickenesse of two cubites vppon the earth, and the people gathered them night and day, and he that gathered least, gathered ten Homers full. In the time of Elizeus he rid the Samaritans from an extreame Famine, agaynst all hope: where you haue an excellent example of a great Duke, that would not beleeue the Prophet, foretelling of this straunge plentie, who for his distrust, sawe it, as the Prophet had said, but inioyed it not. 2. Reg. 7. Howe miraculouslie did Christ feed thousandes with little fiue loaues, and two fishes. Mat. 14. seuen loaues and a fewe fishes. Matth. 15. and yet baskets of fragments remaining: a [Page 140] miracle often repeated for the confirmation of our faith. But you will say, Christ now adayes worketh no such wo~ders. He doth, but we careles of them, do not obserue them. Cast an account of your dayly expence for things necessary, & lay it to your commings in, and see if God do not blesse you much with a little. I am sure that many haue wo~dred how they should be able to defray so many charges laid vpon them, as nowe adaies they are put to, hauing so small takings, but by the blessing of God. It is recorded in the Chronicles of Austria, that Fredericke the Emperour hauing surnmoned a Parliame~t at Collen, to which resorted an huge multitude of all sorts, he fearing that all the bread in the Citie would not suffice them, and so the Parliament to be broke of, willed that account should bee taken of all the prouision of bread, and compare the loaues with the men, and they found [Page 141] the number of loaues to be by many fewer then the persons: & yet the next day euerie man hauing eate his belly full, there was much bread stil remaining. In the Annales of Stumpsius, there is a memorable example of Gods present assistance in extreame Famine. In the yeare 849. in Germany, among the Citizens of Turing, one was purposed to flie with his wife and children, and to trauaile abroad for succour of himselfe and them: as hee passed through a wood being euen mad for hunger, he prouides himselfe to kill and eate his sonne, and being now at his childs throate with his knife, on the sodain, as God would haue it, he spies two wolues praying vpo~ a Stag, presently he leapes to them, driues the~ away, & refresheth himselfe and his, with the new killed venison. Sigebertus records it too, only differing in one yeare. In Anno. 1570. In Bauaria it rained corne, of which much bread was baked: A [Page 142] singular testimonie of Gods prouident presence. The like was done in Naples, Anno. 722. And in Vasconia, anno. 828. But albeit these promises be true and iust, yet are they not so to be vnderstood, as though we should vtterly bee without the crosse: since that euen the Prophets and Apostles haue felt the smart of hunger. For in these as in other things, God dealeth as he pleaseth. He maketh vs hunger, that we may be the more feruent in prayer: and againe, though he keepe vs short of these earthly things, yet he giueth vs greater gifts, Faith, Hope, Patience: this being one of our comforts, which shall be the conclusion of this discourse, which was our Sauiour his Prophecie, Math. 24. Luc. 21, that Famine is one of the forerunners to the last day of iudgement, whereby wee haue good cause to lift vp our heads and reioyce, because that day draweth neare. Wherein beeing [Page 143] deliuered from this and all other miseries and calamities whatsoeuer, we shall there be euerlastingly crowned in his eternall kingdome. To which he bring vs, who hath bought it dearly for vs.