Gods Blessing Upon the Providers of Corne
About this text
Providers of Corne
Gods Curse upon the Hoarders.
Read, Judge, and Consider,
by the Sword. Plague. Famine.
Together with the Corne Imported into London
Port in four moneths.
By C. F. G.
He that witholdeth corn, the people shall curse him : but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.
Printed for M.S. 1648.
He that witholdeth corn, the people shall curse him : but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.
PUBLISHED FOR M. S.
1. Corn Entred at the Custome-House in London, as followeth.
|August 1647||October 1647|
|September 1647||November 1647|
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|Pease and Beans||0425||Pease and Beans||3975|
2. THE CURSE
PROV. 11. 26.
Hee that with-holdeth Corne, the people shall curse him: But blessing shall be upon the head of him who selleth it.
THe extremity of the times do even extort from me thisThe occasion of the choice of this Text. Text, together with the Explication and Application thereof, as God shall enable me. Our gracious Soveraigne, like a provident Joseph, hath endevoured to prevent the famine, or to provide remedies against it. to this end he hath sent forth his Proclamations, and hath authorised his Hands in these remote places, the Justices of Peace, to draw forth the poore imprisoned graine out of [Page 2] private Barnes, and to afford it the freedome of the Markets. The Justices have done their endevours, and the best of them doe continue so doing. But covetousnesse careth for no Lawes, being like the lawlesse Judge, [...] Ministers. [...] Who neither feered God, nor regarded Man. Hence it is that Lawes are eluded, the Kings edict not regarded, the Magistrates endevours frustrated, and the hopes of the poore disappointed. The deafe Adder will not be charmed ; the greedy Farmer will not enfranchize his Corne, though the Country doe curse him, and those curses be ratified in heaven. But let not us sease to doe out duties though others doe not theirs. Let Aaron and Hur Ministers support the hands of Moses ; let Ministers (as his Majesty commandeth) joyne their forces with the Magistrates against his monster, Avarice [...]. The good effect which the one cannot produce alone, may (by Gods blessing) ensue upon the religious endevours of both together. I come therefore to publish a Proclamation from the King of heaven, penned by the wisest King on earth, against all ingrossers of the fruits of the earth, the tenour whereof is this,
Hee that with-holdeth Corne, the people shall curse him, but blessing shall be on the head of him who selleth it.
Most of Salomons Proverbs are a Commentary upon that one sentence of his Father David, Psal.37.27 Eschew evill, and doe good ; and commonly they are bipartite, one part disswading from some evill, the other exhorting to the contrary vertue. His Arguments are those which are most powerfull, Punishment, and Reward ; dehorting from some sinne by punishment threatened, exhorting to Vertue by some reward proposed : Such is this sentence, resembling the two Hils,Deut.21.23 [...]the one of Curses, the [Page 3]other of Blessings : John.18.33
Division of the Text into two parts Hee that with-holdeth Corne, the people shall curse him; there is Ebal, the Mountaine of cursing ; But blessing shall be on the head of him that selleth it ; there is Gerizin, the Mountaine of blessing.
In the former wee are to consider, In the former part consider, 1.The sinne, 2.The sequel1. The sinne, 2.The sequel. The sinne, hiding or with-holding Corne ; the sequel, the curses of the people. In the latter, we have, 1.the duty, 2.the benefit or reward : The duty, selling ; the benefit, blessing : But blessing shall be on the head of him that selleth it. Of these (God willing) in their order; and first of the first part, and first branch thereof; namely, the Prima prime. The sin withholding Corne.sinne condemned, which is, withholding of Corne.
Hee that with-holdeth Corne.
All keeping of Corne not unlawfull.All conservation or keeping up of Corne, is not alwaies unlawfull. Joseph, in the seven yeers of plenty, gathered and kept Corne against the seven yeeres of scarcity. Sundry Cities have their Magazins, wherein they providently doe store up Corne and other provision, the better to endure the extremity of an assiege or famine. *Tarunla nam [...] est magni formica laboris, Ore trahit quod cunq, potst, atque addit aceruo quem struit, hand ignara ex non incarta futuri Horat.Hyemis [...] VirgilNature hath taught the silley Ant this lesson of husbanding her provision, and she by her example readeth the same Lecture unto man, by the mouth of Salomon.
But then to withhold Corne when publike necessity doth call for the venting it, upon hope to enhance the price, thereby to make a prey of the poore, who have then most need to bee releeved, this is a crying sinne, causing the people with bitter cries to complaine to God against such detestable covetousnesse, and to pursue the same with bitter curses.
The ancient latine reading doth well expresse the meaning; [...] Captans pretia frumenti, (o Saint Ambrose alleageth the place.) Hee that catcheth at all advantages by the price of Corne, and endevours to raise it higher, being more greedy of his private gaine, than affected with the publike good, every one that doth so, commeth within the compasse of this curse. So that not onely hiding and hording, but selling and buying too, in some cases, are here forbidden; when they are so done in private,as that the price is thereby enhanced in publike : whereof we shall have occasion to say more (God willing) in prosecution of this Text.
Under the word, Corne, every publike commodity is comprehended.I doubt not but that under this one word, Corne, is comprehended any other Commodity, usefull for the Countrey ; but the Times doe confine my intendements to that particular which my Text doth here assigne ; namely, against all avaritious horders or hucksters, who pinch the guts of the poore, to fill and extend their owne purses ; taking advantage by the dearth of Corne, to make it more deare : on which ground I may safely lay downe this doctrinall Position.
Doctr.7.A grievous sin to procure or further famine by raising the price of Corne It is a grievous sinne to procure a Dearth, or further a Famine, by seeking to raise the price of Corne.
When publike necessity doth require, and our owne ability doth permit us to send abroad our Corne by reasonable and seasonable selling, then to withhold it in hope of greater Dearth, this is a great sinne : For it is odious unto God, opposite unto Nature, injurious unto mankinde, and therefore condemned by the Lawes of Grace, of Nature, and of NationsReasons. 1. It is odious into God..
First, it is odious unto God, as being directly a [Page 5] breach of his Law, a rebellion against his Ordinance. Otherwise hee would never have inveighed against these Corne-horders so bitterly as he doth, by his Prophet Amos, saying, Amos8.4,5,6 Heare ye this, o yee that swallow the poore, and make the needy of the Land to faile, saying, When will the new Moone be gone, that we may sell Corne ; and the Sabbath, that wee may set forth Wheat ; and make the Epha small, and the Shekel great ; and buy the poore for silver, and the needy for shoes,and sell the refuse of the Wheat? If any do except and say, What is this against horders? this is rather against sellers of Corne : I intimated at first, that there may be as great a sinne,in some kinde of selling, as in keeping : and those Jewes who sold at last, they did hord up Corne at first, to this purpose: that when the time served their turne, they might sell it at their owne pleasure and price: Dod ad Textand now the time is come, they must sell it in all haste, lest the price should fall again : They were now so eager after selling,that they thought the days of Gods service too tedious till they were at it. They kept it in while it was good, and sold it when it was worse, they abated the measure and augmented the price ; they made the people pay for the best, when they sold but the refuse ; and so instead of selling to the poore, they enforced the poore to sell themselves at a vile rate for necessary sustenance, and so to become their slaves. Verse.8.The Lord threatneth fearfull judgement on the whole Nation, for this inhumane cruelty of some particular persons towards their poore brethren.The detaining of other commodities not so necessary for the life of man as Corn, forbidden by God.
Lesser sinnes than this in comparison, the ingrossing of commodities not so necessary for the life of man as Corne is, are threatned with with heavy judgements in the word of God. The imprisoning of coyne in Coffers, when it should bee dispersed [Page 6] abroad unto pious and charitable uses, is condemned by the holy Ghost, who saith by Saint JamesJam.5.1,2,3, that The very rust thereof shall be a witnesse against the keepers, and that the canker of their silver shall eat up their fleash as fire. The like judgement is denounced in the same place against those who keep their garments close in their wardrobes to clothe the Much more of breadCorne, without which the life of man can hardly, yea, not at all, be sustained.Moaths, rather than they will produce them to clothe Christ his naked members. What then shall become of them who are kinder to Rats and Mice,than to their Christian brethren, being contented that vile vermin shall devoure that for nothing, which poore Christians cannot get of them for money. The necessity of bread unto mans life.Bread is called in Scripture the Isa.3.1 Lwvit.26.26 Ezech.188.8.131.52.14.13 stay and staffe of life, because life is thereby sustained as by a Staffe : and when God doth threaten one of his heaviest punishments on a Land for sinne, hee doth threaten to break the staffe of Bread ; So necessary it is for this life, that all necessaries are comprized under this one, Give us, this day, our daily bread. Christ calleth himselfe the bread which came down from heaven : his Word is called the bread of life. All which doe shew how necessary bread is for the use of man : so necessary, that neither body nor soule can well bee fed without it ; not the body without common bread, nor the soule (in those of discretion) without Sacramentall bread : so necessary, that although a man have divers varieties of meats, and doe want bread, the best is failing, because the binder of all the rest is wanting : other meats, without bread,are but beesomes without a band, they cannot sweepe away hunger from natureSatis estbomini [...] ; but if a man have onely bread and water, sufficient for quantity, and convenient for quality, hee may live and doe well : so that to withhold Corne, and thereby to break the staffe [Page 7] of bread, is not onely sinfull,but savage ; not onely against the Law of God and grace, but against the Law of Nature.
Nature teacheth men to seeke good and shunne evill, to pray and strive to avert those publike 2.It is opposite to nature.punishments, Sword, Pestilence, and Famine. Nature teacheth us that we are not borne onely for our selves, and that publike utility is to be preferred before private commodity. This could Cicero say out of Plato, one heathen out of another. It was the praise of Cato Hi mores, hae duri immura Catonis sella fuit, ser [...] modum, sinemque tenere, Naturamque sequi patrieque impendere vitam, Net [...] , sedtots gemtum see credere munde. that he was,In Commune bonus, good for the Commonalty, being resolved, that hee was borne, not for himselfe, but for all mankinde.
But these Lucan l.1 Antipodes to Nature as well as unto Grace, these Man-haters,opposite to the Common good, as if the world were made onely for them, would appropriate the earth, and the fruits thereof, wholly to themselves, thinking that they can never have enough, unlesse they have all; and that while others have any thing, they themselves have nothing. Wherefore as Quailes grow fat with Hemlocke, which is poison to other creatures, so these grow full by Dearth, which is the famishing of others. Their whole study and endevour is to trouble the pure streames of publike plenty, that they may have the better angling for their private commodity. Eccle.59 The profits of the earth is for all (saithSalomon) and the King himselfe is served by the field. But these, as if the earth, and the profits thereof, were proper to them alone, as if they were the Kings of the field, and the whole tribute thereof were to be payed into their insatiableExchequer, doe study how they may dry up the publike fountaine, or draw the whole streame thereof into their owne Cisterne. Corne-horders traitours to nature.Traitors they are unto Nature ; for thatThat which Nature most disireth, they detest; that and is, Plenty. which Nature most desireth, they detest ; [Page 8] and that which Nature teacheth most to detest, that doe these most desire : Plenty is desired by every well minded man, naturally, and Grace doth allow such desire ; for Plenty is a sweet effect of Gods goodnesse and favour , therefore called by David, the Crowne of the yeere : Psal 65.11 Thou crownest the yeere with thy goodnesse, and thy steps drop fatnesse. But this desire to pull the crowne of Plenty from the head of the yeere, and instead thereof, would put thereon a crowne of thornes, as the miscreant Jewes did on the head of Christ. Plenty is one of Gods chiefest earthly blessings; but these envious children doe think that their poore brethren have too much of their heavenly fathers blessing. And that which nature teacheth most to detest, they doe most deside, namely, Dearth and Scarcity.Againe, that which Nature teacheth most to detest, they doe most desire ; namely, Dearth and Scarcity : that which Nature teacheth to prevent, they endevour to procure ; they pray for that which all men else doe pray against ; angry, in their mindes, at our Leiturgie for having prayers against Dearth and Famine,and thanksgivings for seasonable weather, which they cannot endure save in their owne fields; ready to chide God because he is so prodigall of his temporall favours, as to cause Mat.5.45 his Sunne to arise on the evill as well as on the good, and his rain to fall on the just and on the unjust ; whereas these, by their wils, would have the Sunne to warme, and the raine to moisten no fields nor gardens, but of the evill and unjust, that is, their owne. What then can we think of them but as enemies both to God and man,opposite both to God and Nature? King.8.38 Salomon at the consecretion of the Temple making way for the peoples prayers by his owne, for the removing of common calamities, setteth Famine in the forefront of them,as the first and worst of all. What shall we thinke of them who pray for [Page 9] that which Salomon prayed against, esteeming that a benefit to them, which is one of the greatest curses that can fall on a Nation? When God threatneth foure heavy judgements on the Land, wherein if these three Worthies, Noah, Job, and Daniel were, Ezech.14.13. 14they should deliver none but their owne soules, he giveth the precedence unto Famine. What then shall we think of those who care not thoughJob, Noah, and Daniel, and all the righteous men in the Country starved, so they may be filled? When God by his Prophet makes a briefe Catalogue of the crying sinnes of Sodome,this comes in at last,not as the least of them. Ezech.16.49 Manum pauperis & egentis non confirmavit ; Shee did not strengthen the hands of the poore and needy : It is not not said that shee weakned, but that she did not strengthen;& that not the heart, but the hand of the poore and needy; and yet God rained hell out of Heaven, fire and brimstone on her to consume her. What then shall become of them who doe not strengthen,but enfeeble, not the hands, but the hearts of the poore brethren, by withholding from them that which is the staffe of their hands, and (under God) the strength and life of their hearts?
3. Condemned by the Lawes of Nations.And that these Cormorants are such enemies to the publike good, all wise men who desire to procure it, have perceived. Therefore this cursed practice of imprisoning the Countries provision, hath ever beene condemned by the Lawes of Nations. These Cankers of the Commonwealth were by the ancients branded with odious appellations, commonly called by the old Romans,Dardanarians, vexers, scourgers, torturers, of the store of the yeare. Annonam vexare et tentare vel maxime Dardanaii selent, quorum quartia itum est tam mandatis quam costitut onibus. [...]These Dardanarians(saith Ulpian their great Cilvilian) are they who chiefly doe vex and persecute the annuall provision, against whose Avarice [Page 10] Princes and States have alway opposed the barres of edicts and constitutions.
There is extant an Epistle or Edict of of Apollonius, an ancient Governour, against those scourgers of the Country, by enforced Dearth and scarcity ; the beginning whereof, in effect is this ; [...] The Earth (saith hee) is the common mother of all, and therefore just, but you are unjust who would ingrosse her wholly to your selves, and make a monoply of the Common mother, as if shee were bound to be a mother onely to you, and a step-mother to all her children besides : but if you desist not from your doings, I will take order that she shall not long be a mother unto you, but I will root you out of her, as being unworthy to be a burthen unto her.
I speake nothing of our Nationall Lawes, because I speake before them, who can better informe mee herein, than I can others. The last Proclamation, together with the booke, published by authority, for fuller declaration of his Majesties minde and purpose, for preventing the Dearth by punishing these Dardanarians, hath breathed some life into the poore Countrey, from whom these doe labour to take away life, by withholding the stay thereof. God put it into the hearts of Governours to act, as well as to enact; to performe, as well as to proclaime ; that the Proclamation against these horders and hucksters be not like that Senatus consultum against the Mathematicians in Rome, De mathematicis statia [...] atrox et irritum Tacit. Annal.1.2. c.5.2 Atrox at irritum, fierce, but effectlesse : and that these may not be among us, Genus hominum good in Civitate notra & vetebitur semper & r. tinebitur. Tacit. hest.l.c.2 3.as the Historian complained, the others were among them, a kinde of people alway condemned, but ever reprived, if not acquitted. Affliction is ever fearfull, and misery still mistrusteth the worst : No marvell then if the poore people doe misdoubt, because there seemeth a doore left open to these their oppressors, that they shall not carry [Page 11] their life from them without license ; wherefore finding after so much thunder by edicts, little lightning by effects, no lightnening of their afflictions : they feare that they have casue to complaine, We are all the worse for licenser. These feared would soone be removed, and peradventure those afflictions too, if but one or two of the offenders in a Country were punished for terror to the rest, as Tacit. Annal.l.2.c.31. Pituanius and P. Martim were, when all the Mathematicians and Magicians were banished out of Italy.
Application. Three sorts of people guilty of this sinne.Three sorts of people are found among us, guilty of this sinne, and consequently layable to the ensuing Curse : I. the greedy Farmer : 2. The covetous Marchant : 3. The cunning Huckster, or Badger, as they are called. I added these Epithites to distinguish between the guilty and the guiltlesse in every profession.
1 The greedy Farmer, who sometimes with-holds Corne even in selling it.The greedy Farmar sometimes withholds Corne by selling if ; withholding it from those who need it, to sell it to those who will make greater profit by it ; so that the needy shall more need it : For who so selleth at a price too high for the poore, hee withholds it from the poore as he doth meat from a childe, who sets it on a shelfe whereto hee cannot reach. Now what is this, but Captare pretia frumenti, to make the price too heanie, whan either hee will not send it to the Market, or if hee send, will not fell but at his owne price?
Thou sayest, I thresh out my Corne as fast as I can, and doe fell it, and therefore I am not guilty, I am no withholder of Corne. Thou sellest, but to whom? to the poore? No, unlesse as the Jewes did, of whom Amos complained, that they sold the refuse of the Wheat, and yet at the price of the best, as if thou wouldest adde to the badnesse of the graine, and want of measure, the greatnesse of the [Page 12] price, to make a sorry satisfaction. Thou sellest it, but to whom? to them who helpe thee to sell the rest of the deerer, to the Merchant or Badger, who by exporting ot transporting it farther, doe cause it to be dearer and deerer at home. Thou sellest it, but where? at home, in private, and so causest the Markets to be unsarnithed, For how canst thou have time to thresh for the Market, when all is too little to thresh for the Merchant, whom thou hast promised to furnish so many scores of bushels by such a day. The Markets are the Commons of the common people, and of many who use good hospitality ; let them be inclosed, soone will these grow leane : The Markets are their Magazines ; if the poore buyers be not there provided, how shall their wants be supplied? The Markets are their Wels, if the couctous Farmers dry up these, as the envious Philistines did the Wels of Isaac, these poore sheepe must needs perish, Thou sellest, but in what manner? In grosse, or by such quantities as the poore cannot accomplish ; whereas if thou wilt shunne the curse threatned, and obtained the blessing promised, thou must doe as the WOrd importeth in the second part of my Text, Perfringe framenta, breake it out from the heape by small parcels, as the poore doe need for the present and are able to compasse,Breake thy Bread to the hungry ; so breake they Corne by halfe bushels, by peckes, by gallons to the needy, as their ability neeteth with their necessity. To set a whole loafe before a childe who hath neither strenght to breake, nor knife to cut, is not to fee him, but to famish him.
I am not unacquianted with some of their Apologies : I have made a Purchase, or taken a Leafe, or bought so mush at surney to be paid on such a day, and I must sell many Bushels together to make up a good summe of money, I cannot tarry the leasure[Page 13] of these lingring Markets, All this while I heare no arguments but drawne from the common place of thin owne profit ; and thou maiest remember that the buying of a Farme, and a yoke of Oxen excluded the unworthy guests from the great marriage Feast ; these excuses are worse. Thou hast made a purchase, and the calamity of the Country nust pay for it ; thou hast bought a bargain, and they poore brethren, their wives and children must pinch for it. A bad bargaine (bare-gaine it may well be called) to buy the curses of God and man. Say not that I condemn purchasing, because I am no purchaser, God grant I never bee in such manner. Buy Farmes, take Leafes, make bargaines for Oxen, Cattell, Corne, or what you will, as long as you wrong not your own soules, which you cannot chuse but doe, if you wrong or pinch the poore members of the Saviour of soules.
2 The covetous Marchant.The covetous Marchant is also free of the company of these Corne-catchers. Hee with-holds Corn from the poore, by drawing it from Markets, to export it, or transport it into other parts or places whether neerer or more remote ; especially out of the Land, and that without regard of Religion or charity, or any thing else, save his owne gaine, which to him is godlinesse. Tros, Tyriusq, Protestant, Papist Mahumetan, English, French, Spanish, Barbarian, all are alike to him, so hee may gaine by them. The savour of lucre is sweet to him, though raked out of the puddle of the most filthy profession in Europe, or in all the world. Mistake me not, I traduce not the calling, not onely lawful, but laudable, I may adde, honourable, the secong supporter of the kingdome. Not the Lyon and the Unicorne, but the Plough and the Ship, under God, are the supporters of the Crowne. The Marchants by their [Page 14] travels and adventures joyne together forraigne Nations which the Sea hath set farre asunder ; they make remote Countries to bee ours upon the matter, causing their commodities to bee ours; casting with the Ships such a Bridge over the Ocean, that chiefest, profits of both the Indies doe come home to our houses. I have often yearned that they have beene no better considered of, but suffered to be a prey to Dunkers abroad, and to as bad at home. I know that it is lawfull to transport out commodities, particularly our Corne into other Nations, upon some conditions, as other Nations doe make us partakers of their profits : yea, this sometimes may be done to those who are of another, that is, of an evill Religion. Nature teacheth this : The AEgyptions releeved the Israelites in the Famine, Gen.43.3a.though it were an abomination to the AEgyptions, in their peevish suprestition, to eat bread with the Hebrewes, yet they would, in common humanity, afford them bread to eat by themselves. But this I affirme ; to famish English, and to feed French or Spanish ; to starve brethren, and to nourish enemies; to pinch the members of Christ, to preserve the limbs of Antichrist; to thrive by the death of Saints, and life of reprobates ; this cannot passibly escape a curse ; and all Marchants that use such course, I can say no better of them, than a blesses Saint said at least three hundred yeares sithence, They are all Basil. Mercatores humanarum calamitatum, Marchants of mens calamities.
Hucksters, or Badgers of Corne.The third sort are these who we call Badgers of Corne, who were not condemned for conveying Corne from those places where it may well be spared, to other places within the Countrey where there is more want, if they did not procure want in those places where it doth abound, nor [Page 15] forestall the Markets, but would take that which the Markets doe leave, nor raise the price to make the poore to smart for it.
Sufficient hath beene said (I hope) to shew the impietie, the inhumanity, the injustice of this sin of procuring a Death by withholding Corne ; and that it is a lawlesse rebell against the laws of Grace, of Nature, of Nations. The simme of with-holding Corne, more hainous in our land, than in others.Let this be farther added and considered, that this oppression is the more cruell, and this cruelty the more heavy in our Land, where Corne serveth both for Bread and Drinke; whereas other Countries by the benefits of the soile doe abound with wine; or because of the heate of the Climate, are contented with water. But among us these withholders of Corne doe doubly plague the poore people, starving them with hunger, and choaking them with thirst ; deprinting them of that which they should both eat and drinke. Our children doe not say unto their mothers, Lament.2,12. Where is Corne and Wine? Keepe you the Wine, give unto their Mothers Cone, and they will finde in it both bread and drink that shall content them as well as wine. But denie them Corne, you take from them bread, drinke, life and all. Wherefore the curses of these Cornemungers are likely to be doubled ; for that is the recompence they must expect for their cursed covetousnesse, namely curses : and as the mischiefe is common, so it is justly purified with a common curse, the curses of the Commons,
The People shall curse him.
2.1. THE SECOND SERMON
THE sinne and the odiousness thereof to God and the Man, hath beene (in part) discovered, that it will be the sooner, if the judgement threatned be seriously considered ; which judgement is expressed in these words :
The People shall curse him.
The sequell.The curses of the people. Populares ] So Junius with same others, doe render the word, the Commons ; or Populus, as most doe reade, the People, implying a collective curse ; as if there were a gathering of curses over the whole Countrey, and none (save such as himselfe) refused to contribute curses towards him. Not one man, not a few, but the whole Countrey (as with Hue-and-Cry) shall pursue him with curses. Execrabuntur, shall curse and banne him ; or Maledicent, [Page 18] shall say all evill of him, and pray that evill may befall him. The Original word is very Emphaticall, Persodient, they shall digge, or stab, or runne him thorow with curses. A Metaphor borrowed from digging or stabbing ; as who should say, the people with their curses shall digge on him, as with Mattockes, or runne him thorow, as with Rapiers.
A common sinne drawes on a common curse.A common crime still drawes on a common curse. God, in justice doth use to proportion the punishment to the offence. Who so hurteth or oppresseth many, must looke to be cried out against, and to be cursed by many. The wings of their punishment shall spread as farre as the tallands of their oppressions with their transgressions. Our Dearth-mongers, as they are procurers of a common outcry, the whole Country shal stab them with cursings, as they seeke to stab it with starving.
But is this such a punishment to be hunted with the clamours and curses of the people? Doubtlesse it is, when those curses are justly caused by wrongs done unto the people. In such cases we may safely lay down this affection that
Duet.2. A featefull thing to be justly cursed by the people.The people curse twofold. 1.Causlesse or unjust, this not to be feared or regarded. The Peoples curse, justly procured, is a fearefull judgement.
Hardly can there be a greater plague, then to be pursued by the clamours and curses of the people for oppressing them. Here we must distinguish, that we may the more safely teach: The peoples curse is twofold, either caused, or causelesse ; just, or unjust ; either justly procured by some reall wrong inflicted on them ; or vanity vented out of error or malice, where no just cause hath been given.
Salomon himselfe affordeth us this distinction, saying, Pro.16.2. As the Bird by wandring, and the Swallow by flying, doe [Page 19] escape, so the causelesse curse shal not come to passe. Sciendum est qudd scriptia sacra duobies modis maledictum memorat, alind videlict quod approbat, alind quod damnat. Alind enim maledictum prosertur indicio institia, alind linore vindicte Greg. Moral.l.4.c.5Where he sheweth, that there is a causless curse, which is not to be feared : when people out of spleene, or because their corrupt humors are not satisfied, doe flye to the fooles Asylum, or shelter of execrations or curses. Such are the curses of some impudent and infatigable beggars : such are the curses of some desperate malefactors against the Judges, when they are sentenced according to Lawes and their deservings : such are the curses of Roarers, sonnes of Belial, against zealous Ministers, for discharging their duties. Hence Jeremy complained, that hee was causelesly cursed ; Jer.15.10 I have not lent on usuary, neither have men leant to mee on usury, yet every on doth curse mee.
Exhortation to Magistrates and Officers to doe their dutied though the people do causlesly curse them.And it is not unprobably that some of you (worthy Magistrates) for diligence in doing your duties, and for your laudable endeavours to furnish the Markets by drawing forth the Corne out of the bands of horders, and the hands of hucksters, shall carry away some curses from the mouthes or in the mindes, of these mizars. 'Tis not unlikely, but that some of them (such is their charity) will reward you with curses of the people upon them. But be not discouraged, Salomon hath secured you against such airie execrations. These breathbullets shall not pierce you ; these Speares of Reed, and Swords of Bullrushes shall not so much as pricke your reputaitons, much lesse your confidences. Such curses shall not hurt their credits or consciences, but rebound on those who do use them.The bubbles of such curses shall fall into the faces and eyes of those who blow them up : like man-made they runne at you with the hilt, but the point of the sword runneth into their owne brest. Let that bee your refuge which wasDavids in the like case even flying into the Lord,Psa. 109.28 Let them curse, but blesse thou. Say [Page 20] you by them as he did by Shimei, when hee cursed him, Sam 16.12 For such curses God will blesse them. God will require good for such surfing; If for doing Justice, you bee unjustly pursued with virulent tongues, the same promise appertaineth unto you, which the fountaine of blessednesse hath made unto us : Mat.5.11,12 Blessed are you when men revile you, and say all manner of evill against you falsely. Rejoyce and be glas, for great is your reward in heaven. Their curses are but like the Popes Bruta fulmina, his banning Buls, which the more lowdly they bellowed against Queene Elizabeth, of blessed, memory, the better she prospered, the more she was blessed [...].
Therefore, Feare not the reproach of men, neither be afraid of their revilings ; but, Sanctifie the Lord of Hoasts himselfe, let him be your feare, let him bee your dread. Rest in the blessing of the Lord, Who hath blessed us with all Spirituall blessings in heavenly things in Christ. Let these causelesse curses be so farre from hindering or disheartening you in your lawfull courses, as that you doe rather rejoyce in them, and binde then as crownes to your heads ; and be you assured that the promise God made to Abraham, belongeth to every childe of his, continuing in his faith and obedience, and so particulaly unto you, Gen.12.3 I will blesse them that blesse thee, and will curse him that curse thee.
3 The justly caused curse of the poore & oppressed this is very fearfull.Contrariwise, formidable is that curse which is extorted by oppression, and vented for from a breat surcharged with vexation. No Iron Bullet, driven by the strongest powder, from the mouth of a Cannon, is more terrible and tearing. Such a curse being shot from earth, mounteth up to heaven ; and being sent up from man, is sealed by God. It is true, that the common people doe commonly erre and offend herein ; their curses, many times are their fooles-bolts, shot without ayme, and [Page 21]falling without hurt, save to themwselves. But many times they are enforced, by grievous pressures, to shoot these arrowes against their oppressors ; and then they hit surely, and wound deeply. In this case the people have a legative power like the Pastors, What they binde on earth, is bound in heaven. Here the voyce of the people, especially of the poore, the people of God, is the voyce of the God of the people. There wee finde in Scripture, that the curse of the people, and a woe from God, are all one upon the reckoning. Our Wiseman faith, in this booke. Prov.24.14 See Pro.17.15 Hee that faith unto the wicked, thou art righteous, the people shall curse him. The Prophet Isay, unveighing against the same sinne, faith, Isai 5.20.23 Woe to him that instisteeh the wicked for a reward. Here you see that God addeth a woe to that sinne whereon the people doth affix a curse ; a curse extorted from them is sealed with a woe denounced by Him ; [...]ad Textwhose curse, as they are never discharged without just cause, so they never return without effect.
Use. Terrour to all oppressors of the poore.Heare and tremble, all ye Nimrods, all you roughhanded Esames, grinders of the poore, oppressors of the people. Thinke not to fillip off these curses which your cruelties have squeised from them, with Tush, what care I what the people say? The Fox, the more he is cursed, the better he fares. [...]Let them curse and spare not, as long as such curses doe fill my Coffers. Know you, that the curse of the people, justly caused, is a vapor exhaled from earth ; or rather indeed a thunder, which causeth a thunder-bolt to be cast downe from heaven. Let the oppressor poste from it as fast as he ca. it shall overtake him (Horat l 1.sar 1 12 King.9.3as the arrow of Jehu did Jehoram) and smite him betweene his armes, and runne thorow his heart ; let him fence himselfe with the best amunition that[Page 22] hee may, it shall pierce him thorow. No coate of male sahll rebate the edge, no armour of proofe shall beare off the stroke of the peoples curse, when it is edged with justly conceived passion and backed by the Almighties approbation. Wise men therefore will hearken unto the counsell of wise Syrachides ; Ecel.4.23,5,6. Make not an hungry soule sorrowfull, neither provoke a man that is in distres. Adde not more trowble to an heart that is vexed, defer not to give to him that is in need. turne not thine eyes from the needy, and give him no occassion to curse thee; for if he curse thee in bitternesse of his soule, his prayer shall be heard of him that made him.
Especially to Corne horders.And among all grinders of the poore, tremble you who withhold from them that which they should grinde them the more, because you keepe them from grinding. You rurall Tyrants, who by withholding your Corne, doe enforce the miserable people to flie to their forlorne hope of ringing a peale of curses, against your covetousnesse, in the cares if the Almighty. If Jem.5.4 the hire of the labourers, who have reaped downe your fields, being by fraud kept backe, cryeth, and those cries doe enter into the eares of the Lord of Sabboth : then doubtlesse, the deserved curses of those who are ready to perish, because you will no tso much as fell unto them that which they laboured to reape, and to save for you, and which without the sweat of their browes, and galling of their hands, you could not have saved, doe found like a volley of shot in the eares of the God of mercies, and will awake him to take vengence on your cursed cruelties. Exod.22. 28,23,24 If any widow or fatherlesse childe be afflicted by thee (saith the Lord) and in their affliction doe at all cry unto me, I will surely heare their cry, and my wriath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with [Page 23] the Sword, and your wives shall be widdower, and your children fatherlesse. Will God heare the cry of one widow, of one fatherlesse childe, being afflcited, and can his eares be that at the generall cry of the whole multitude, among whom are so many widowes, so many Orphans, and some of them (doubtlesse), his owne children, the sonnes and daughters of his deare Saints, the lively memnbers of his onely begotten sonne Christ Jesus?
That these curses are not effeclesse in this life, shewed by examples.And that these enforced curses are not alwayes effectlesse in this life, witnesse the fearefull judgements which God hath inflicted in some Nabals for terror unto others. I could tell you old Chronicle-stories out of Matthew Paris, and other, of terrible examples in our owne Land, upon offenders in this kinde. As that of A story of Matthew Paris, of Walter Grey, Archship of Yorke, a covetous Corne-horder. An.Dom.1134 Walter Grey, an Archbishop of Yorke, in that yeare of grace. 1234. Who having five yeares Corne under-hand, would not thresh it out for the releefe of the poore in three yeares famine, hoping still that the price would encrease. Being advertised by his Officers that it was greatly to be feared, lest the Corne were consumed by Mice, he willed them to deliver it to the Husband-men, who dwelt in his Mannor, upon condition that they should pay him as much new Wheat dor it after Harvest. They attempting to take downe a great mow of Corne which hee had at Rippon, saw the heads of many Snakes, and Toads, and other venemous creatures peering out at the end of the sheaves. This being related to the Archbishop, hee sent his Steward with diners of good credite to enquire the truth thereof, who seeing what others had seene, enforced, not withstanding, certaine poore men to goe up to the top with ladders. They were scarcely up, when they saw a great sinoake arsing out of the corne, and felt with [Page 24]all a loathsome stinke, which compelled them with all haste possible to hye them downe againe : Moreover, they heard an unknowne voyce saying unto them, Let the Corne alone, for the Archbishop and all that he hath, belongeth to the Devill. In fine (saith the Story) they were saine to bulid a wall about the corne, and then to set it on fire, fearing lest such an huge number of venemous creatures should empoison, at least annoy the whole Country, I could tell you out of forraine Authors, of a Another of a German Bishop denounced by Rats.Amos [...] German Bishop, who in time of dearth kept his Corne, and called the poore which came about him begging reliefe, the Rats and Mice which devoured his Corne. But God retorted his malicious scomme upon his owne head ; for he himselfe was soone after devoured alive by Rats and Mice, notwithstanding that he immured himselfe in a strong Tower, which is reported to be yet standing, and in the name it beareth to retaine a memoriall of the strange Judgement.
I had rather preferre to your consideration th e pious action of B. Godwin. Catalogue of English Bishops. Ethelwald, a Bishop of Winchester, before the Conquest, who in an greath Dearth, did breake up all the Plate belonging to his Church, and gave it to the poore, saying, that the Church in good time migth be provided of necessary ornaments, but the poore that perished for want of food, could not ne recovered.
But these examples of ancient times doe lesse affect, and may be held fabulous. The effect of these curses in later times, wherein sone of these Nabals have hanged themselves, when the price of Corne hath fallen.That God hath made the curses of the poore effectual upon such covetous Corne-horders, even in recent remembrance, may appeare by this, that some of this [Page 25]cursed crue have become their owne executioners, and in kindnesse have saved the Hang-man a labour by haltering themselves, when contrary to their expectation, the price of corne hath sodainly fallen : and this both in other Countries, and among us, as Lavator, Cartwright ad Text.Divines of good reputation have delivered upon their owne knowledge.
The greatest curse of all, at the day of Judgement.But worst of all be, when Christ at the great and terrible day of his comming shall adde unto all these the insupportable weight of his heavie and intolerable curse, when he shall say unto these, as unto others (in some respects more excusable then these) Mat.27.41,42. Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the Divell and his Angels ; for I was hungry, and yee gave me no meate, I was thistie, and you gave mee no drinke : nay, you would not so much as fell mee meate and drinke for ready oney, and at a deere rate, when by relieving mee you might have enriched your owne purses. Oh what shall be said to them who will not sell for money, when Depart from me ye cursed, is the mildest word that Christ shall afford them, who would not give freely? What Hell shall be hot enough for those that will not fell, when Hell fire is prepared for those that will not sell, when Hell fire is prepared for those who would not give?
Shall I speake now unto the deafe Adder, who will not heare the voyce of the Charmer? shall I loose my sweet words by spending them on stones or stony hearts, who regard not the Law of God, the command of the King, the cry of the Country, the curses of the people, the teares distilling downe the widdows cheekes, the sighes exhaled from Orphans fainting, tongues, the [...] spectacles of hunger-starved scellitons, whose very fight might dissolve eyes of adament into teares? they who are [Page 26] not moved by any of these, by all of these, what hope is there that will be mollified by my weake words? But a necessity is laid upon us, and wee must speake ; for if wee should be silent, the stones would even cry out against these, whose hearts are harder then the nether Milstone. If then will not heare us, lot them yet tremble at this determinate speech of God himselfe by Salomon, Captans pretia frumenti maledictus est in plebe: Hee is cursed by the people who catcheth at advantages by the price of Corne. The sentence is peremptory ( [...]saith a Saint) leaving no place for disputation. If thou doest so, pretend what thou wilt, fill thy mouth with arguments, cast the best colour on the matter that thou canst, all thy fig-leaved Apologies will not fence thee from the curse.
Objections answered. 1 May I not do with mine owne as I Lift?Answ.Christ onely may doe with his own as he lift.Thou wilt say peradventure, I do no man wrong, I keep but mine owne, I may fell mine owne when I please ; Is it not lawfull for me to doe with mine owne what I lift?
Man cannot who can call property nothing his own have his sin. Men may not use their own to the hutt of others.But know, first, that thou abuseth the words of Chirt, He onely (because he is Lord of all) may doe with his own what pleaseth him. Man canot, because he is not absolute owner of any thing ; for what hath he that he hath not received : He must theresore doe with his owne, that which pleaseth the Supreme owner of all things. Againe, call it thine owne ; it is not lawfull for thee to doe with thine owne what thou wilt, unless thou wilt doe that which is lawfull and right. Thou mayst not use thine owne to the hurt of another man. Thou mayest not murther with thine owne sword, nor make men drunke with thine owne drinke, nor burne thy neighbours house with thine owne fire. God, who is th owner of the earth, telleth thee that thou mayest not with-hold his (which thou [Page 27] unproperly calleth thy) Corne, thereby to famish and impoverish thy brethren. It is damnable to with-hold our own when others are ready to perish for want of that which we may well spare.The purple Glutton fries in hell fire for with-holding his owne bread from poore Lazarus, lying at his gate. It cost Nabals life, for denying his owne bread and victuals to David and his follower, when he kindly craved it in his need. What canst thou expect then, who wilt rather be cursed by the poore, than fell thine own to them at a reasonable rate in their necessity ? Know this therfore, that this Corne is not thine own, but it belongeth rather to the poore when they need it, and thou canst well afford it. Thou takest from them that which is theirs, by with-holding from them that which thou callest thine. Thou doest wrong enough, in not doing right ; thou killest all, from whom thou keepest that which should keepe them alive. Is he a theefe that takes from a man his owne, and makes him to be in want? What is hee lesse, that will not fell a poore man his owne when hee is in want? It is the worst kinde of covetousnese (saith a Videatur D. Basilius ser. 1. in Anaros.Saint) not to give to those who are ready to perish, that which otherwise will perish ; what is it then not to sell it unto them? Thou sayest (sait the same) To whom doe I wrong, if I keepe mine owne? I demand of thee againe (in the words of the blessed man) What are those things thou callest thine owne? Thou answerest, why? my Coine, my Clothes, my Corne. But how came these things to be thine owne? Didst thou bring them with thee into the world? Didst thou not come naked out of thy mothers wombe? Shalt thou not returne naked againe? Whence then hast thou these things? If thou sayest, got them by chance, or it is my good fortune that I have them ; thou doest not acknowledge the author and disposer of all [Page 28] things, thou art unthankefull, thou art no better than an Atheist. If thou confessesth thou hast them from God, that he gave them unto thee ; then tell me, why did God give them unto thee rather than unto another? For God is not unjust, or one that knoweth not how to divide his owne gifts in equall proportions. Why then hath God given thee so much, and him so little ? Why art thou rich, and hee poore? Certianly for no other cause, but that thy fulness might supply his want, and that both might, doing their duties, obtaine of him a reward ; thou of faithfull distributing, and hee of his patient enduring. If all were rich, what praise were there of patience ? If all were poore, who should be able to shew charity ? If there were, in this kinde, an equality, two precious vertues would be vile or not at all, Charity and Patience. Therefore the most prudent disposer of all things, hath mosr providently ordained this inequality, that as the patience of the poore is exercised in wanting, so the charity of the rich may be shewed in releeving. But thou, griping all in the tallands of thine insatiable Avarice, and there depriving so many of their portions, saist thou keepest but thine owne, and thou wrongest no man. Thou doest herein (saith the same blessed Bishop) as if entering into a Theatre, thou keepe, or drive out all other spectators, as though those shewes, which were provided for all, were proper to thee alone : or, as if invited to a feast by a great friend, together with many other guests as good, or better than thy selfe, thou shouldest fit downe at the table, and keepe all the dishes to thy selfe, excluding the rest, as if the whole dinner were provided for thee alone. Yet still thou sayest, I keepe but mine owne, I doe no man wrong. But tell mee sadly. Who is a covetous [Page 29] man? Hee who is not contented with that which is sufficient, but still craveth more. Tell mee againe, who is a theefe? Hee who takes away that which is another mans. Art not thou then covetous, who art not contented with that which is too much, and which would well content an hundred men, as good, and as dearely bought by Christ, as thou art? Art not thou a theefe, who keepest that to thy selfe which thou hast received of thy Lord and Master to distribute and divide among thy fellow-servants, thine owne portion (and that double, treble, ye a seven to one of theirs) being allowed thee? Shall hee who takes away a mans garment from him, be called a robber, and shall not he who will not clothe the naked, if hee bee able, be also a spoiler? Shall hee who kills a man with a sword, be called a murtherer, and shall hee bee any better that withholdeth from him that whereof the want will shortly kill him? Doth not hee put out the Lampe that powereth not oyle into it, as well as he that blowest it out? Doth not he put out the fire that puts not on wood, as well as hee that throwes on water? What's the oddes, but that which the murtherer doth suddenly, thou doest it leasurely and lingringly, and so art the more cruell murtherer of the two ; because thou doest not quickly dispatch, but doubtful [...]Death by delaying, and [...]extendest life onely for greater torment ; not so mercifull as a courteous hangman, that leaps on the shoulder, or puls by the heeles, to put out of paine; but rather as cruell as that [...]Tyrant, who was said to be nothing but morter made of bloud, not contented to put innocents unto death [...]unlesse the Executioner did so strike them, that they might be sensible of their dying. Never say then that thou keepest but thine owne. It is the bread of the [Page 30]hungry which thou detaineth ; it is the garment of the naked which thou sefferest to lye Moath-eaten in thy presse; It is the gold and silver of the needy, which reseth in thy Coffer : It is the Corne of the poore, ready to dye with hunger, which thou sufferest to moulder in thy Mow or Barne. Never say, thou doest no man wrong. Thou wrongest so many as thou doest not releeve, being able. Callest thou thy selfe a Christian, and arguest thou thus, quite contrary to the rules of Christianity? Answer once an Heathen who never knew Christ and his Gospell, unto his short question:
Horat. Cur eget indignus quisquam te divite?
Why seest thou any one to want ; who is unworthy, while thou doest abound ? Art thou not unnaturall, who sufferest that which nature cannot endure, vacuity? Art thou worthy to breathe the are, who wilt not endevour to doe as the ayre dot, shift some of it selfe from places that are over-full, to others that are empty ? How canst thou call thy selfe a Christian, when the members of Christ doe quiver with cold for want of that which doth clothe the Moaths in thy presse? Or to want necessaries, for lacke of that which the rust consumes in thy bagges, or starve for need of that which releeveth Rats and Mice in thy Barnes? Hee is a bad servant who will flaunt it in silks himselfe, gotten by his masters goods, and glut himselfe with the choicest food, and see his Masters children, (yea the Master himselfe in them) goe naked, or ready to starve for want of bread
Object.2. Josephs example answered.But did not religious Joseph in the yeares of plenty, gather and keepe uo Corne, which he seld afterward in the yeares if famine? He did so, and that lawfull; for you have been told that there is a lawfull storing up of Corne, when it is done, as [Page 31] Joseph did, not to procure a Dearth, but to prevent it, or to be the better provided against it. Fortasse dicet. [...]Godly Joseph opened his Garners in the yeares of famine, he did not shut them ; his intent was not to raise the price, but to provide a supply against the time of want. He gathered and kept not for himselfe, but for others, even for strangers : thou with-holdest it from neighbours, and wilt suffer vile vermin to sted on it, rather than thy brethren. Shamest thou not to alleage the example of Joseph, whose care for the common good so directly condemneth thy covetousnesse, who carest for none but for thy selfe.
Obiest.3. Gedeons example. Judg.6.11. Answered [...] Exon Contemplat vol.3.l.9But doe wee not read that Gedeon threshed out his Corne, not to sell it, but to hide it, and yet is not blamed for so doing?
He did. But when did hee hide his Corne? in time of invasion by the enemy. His Garner might be closer and safer than his Barne. And from whom his and thier enemies, the Midianites. Thy course is quite contrary. Then theIsrealites threshed out their corne to hide it from the Midianites : but our Midianites will not thresh out theirs, or if they doe, it is to hide it from the Isrealites. The Sword of the Lord and of Gedean (the godly Magistrate) bee against such merciless Midianites.
Famine, a grietoous judgement.Dearth and Famine is one of the most grievous Judgements which God inflicteth in a sinfull Nation. Ezech.6.11 Thou shalt fall by the Sword, by Famine, and by the Pestilence. These are the three rods where with God useth to scourge a wanton and wicked people. I know that some grave B.Cowper on Rom.8.35.Divines do affirme Famine to bee knowes the weight of his owne rods, accounteth three daies Pestilence, and three months [Page 32] of the sword, equall with seven yeeres famine. But this to me seemeth no sufficient reason : sure I am, that David, in his hard choice, preferred pestilence before it ; *Sam.21.14,15and it is not probable, that hee would choose the heaviest punishment. Besides, the Prophet Jeremie saith, Lamen.4.9 Dira fames semper magnorum prima matorum [...] They that be slaine by the sword, are better then they that be slaine by hunger. Moreover, this scourge of famine is the worse and the more intolerable for the miseries and mischiefes that doe commonly attend it. Pestilence often is the companion of it, robberies, rebellions, outrages and other enormities are the Pages that doe wait upon it. Dire famine ! thou hast taught tender-hearted Mothers to turne Cannibals, and to become Butchers, cookes, carvers, eaters of their owne children : Thou hast taught men to exceed Cannibals, and for want of other food to devoure their owne flesh, and as much as they might, to eat up themselves. For this Jeremie most lamenteth, as for the most lamentable judgement, Lam.2.11,12 Mine eye doth faile with teares, my bowels are troubled, my liver is powred upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people ; because the children and suckling doe swowne in the streets of the Citie. They say unto their Mothers, where is corne and wine? They swowned as the wounded in the streets of the Citty, their souless powred out into their Mothers bosome. That which followes is most patheticall ; Lam.2.20. Shall the women eat their owne fruit, and their children of a span long?
It is proper to God alone to punish a sinfull Nation with famine or any other judgement.Now it is proper to the Lord alone to punish a sinfull Nation. He knows when it is fittest to whip a people with famine, and he hath wayes enough to bring such a calamitie on a Country whensoever it pleaseth him : Psal.107.34. A fruitfull land he returneth into barrenesse, for the wicknesse of the people that dwell therein. Lev.26.19Sometimes She makes the heavens above as brasse, [Page 33] and the earth beneath as iron : so that albeit men doe labour and sowe, yet they receive no increase. Sometimes againe, Deut.11.14. he giveth the former and the later raine in due season, so that the earth yeeldeth abundance ; but the Lord sending blasts, rusts, Mel-dewes, Caterpillars, Canker-wormes, doth cause the hope of the yeere to faile: as if such worthlesse creatures were more worthy to enjoy the fruits of the earth, then sinfull and unthankfull man : sometimes even when the Corne is not yet reaped, but expecteth the hooke, or while it sttandeth in the field awaiting to be housed in the Barne, God sends airie threshers, violent windes, to beat it out of the eare ; the furrowes of the field doe become the threshing-floor; the Wheat is sowed where it grew, and that without the helpe of hand, plow or harrow : thus harvest, threshing, and feed-time doe untimely meet together, as they did some few yeers since. We have deserved to be thus scourged.Our crying sinnes, particularly the vile abuse of the creature by Drunkenesse and riot, have called for vengeance, and we have deserved to be scourged, not only with famine, but with the other two rods, with sword also and with pestilence.
But this Famine is not inflicted immediately by God, but enforced by the cruell covetousness of Men.But this Dearth is not inflicted immediately by the hand of God, but enforced by wicked mens cruell covetousnesse. God hath not broken the staffe of bread, but churlish Nabals have gotten it into their owne fists, and withhold it from the people who should be supported by it. We cannot complaine, Joel.1.10 The field is wasted, and yet the Land mourneth ; the Corne is not wasted, but withheld. God hath not sent want of bread, but covetousness hath caused cleannesse of teeth. God hath not smitten us with blasting, nor sent Caterpillers, Csnkerwormes, but the Divell hath raised up Caterpillaers and Locusts, those Frumentarii pretii captatores.Amb. Offic.l.3.c.6Catchers at the Dearth of Corn [Page 34](as the Father stileththem) and these doe make a private gaine of a publike detriment, improving that as a profit to themselves, which God ordained as a plague for sinners ; Hos.2.21,22 The Lord hath heard the heavens, and the heavens have heard the earth, and the earth hath heard the corne ; but those earth-wormes will not heare the voice of the Lord, nor the crying complaints of the poore. The earth hath answered the expectation of the sower, but cannot answer the unsatiable greedinesse of the seller. Many Mens Barnes are full of Corne, but their brests are empty of compassion : their Garners are stuffed and stored; two yeeres graine unuder hand in many mens keeping, yet they still gape for a greater dearth, and doe their best, or rather worst to procure it. They suffer their Mow-hayes to stand laden with corne neere the high-ways, in the open view of the poore, the more the anger their hunger, Thus they bring upon their brethren on earth a torment, much like that which Poets devised for Tantalus in Hell, to have faire apples at his lips, and yet to pine with hunger ; and in the midst of faire water up to the chinne, to perish with thirst. Ezech.5.16 These arrowes if famine that have wounded our side, had lesse afflicted us, had they beene shot directly from the just hand of God ; him wee could have entreated with our prayers, mollified with our teares, pacified with our repentence ; But nothin can prevaile with impenitrable Avarice: Sam.14.14 O let us fall into the hands of God (for his mercies are great) but let us not fall into the hands of mercilesse men. if our sinnes must needs be scourged, let not greater sinners be the Beadles : Who hath given you commission to be the Countries hangman? where is your warrant to thrust your selves into the seat of Gods justice: or to take his quiverand shoot against his children those [Page 35] arrowes which hee keepeth against his enemies? You may indeed, for a while, be the rods of Gods wrath(as dsher as toIsrael) but upon our true repentance, God will turne his wrath from us, upon you : and the childe being humbled, the rod shall be cast into the fire.
An invective against covetousnesse.O insatiable Avarice! Doth not the earth yeeld thee sufficient encrease? what meanest thou to plow and harrow the very guts of thy poore brother for greater gaine? Now it is farre worse then they said it was in the beginning of the iron-age ; for then Covetounesse Itum est in viscera terra.went but into the bowels of the earth ; but now men Itum est in viscera Christi.digge into the bowels of their brethren, yea, they delve into the bowels of Christ himselfe for coyne.
Call ye me this Usurie, or rather Fellonie? *These Corne horders worse then Usurer. I atrocinium hoc [...]Usuary it selef is charitable in respect of this. Usury yet sends abroad money for money ; this rurall sacriledge will not sell corne for coyne. Usury indeed biteth, but this killeth by keeping way that which should sustaine life. Usury by meney stealeth money out of mens purses (as one by powering a little water into a dry Pumpe, forceth out a great deale more) but this Burglary breaketh into a mens bowels, and robbeth them of that which should maintaine them. Is not this gaine more odious, more base than that of the Emperour, who extracted gold out of Urine? I perceive, that among our Pagan-Christians, it holds as currant as it did among the Pagans ; Lucri bonu est door ex re [...] Sweet is the scent of Silence, out of what sinke soever it be raked : seeing to these Horse-leeches gaine is sweer, though sucked out of the bowels of their brethren.
Oh, if you have any bowels your selves, or have not drunke uo that obdurate river, [...]which is reported to turne the bowels of the drinker into [Page 36] hard marble; looke once over the threshold of your poore neighbour, some poore coater, same daily labourer, for his groat or three pence a day, groning under the burthen of a heavy house-rent, with a house full of small children on the bargaine ; and if you will not enter in , yet stand without a while, and become officious Evesdroppers, listen to the pittious complaints that are among them. The pittifull estate of poore labourers in these hard times, deplored.There may you see, or heare the wofull mother, with her eldest daughter, the onecarding or knitting, the other spinning a sorry threed, and singing to her turne an heavy tune of some sorrowfull Psalme ; as, O Lord consider my distresse ; or, O Lord how are my foes increast ; or, Helpe Lord, for good and godly men doe perish and decay : Then awakes the poore sucking Infant, and crying, interrupts both worke and musicke : The mother takes it up, and gives it sucke with teares, for with milke she cannot. Alas! how can the infant draw milke from the breast, when the Nurse cannot get meat for the belly : Mother, saith another childe, when sahll we eat? Mother, saith another childe, where is bread? O mother, saith aother, I am hungry I know not what to doe. Thus the feeble children doe call upon the woefull mother, shee complaines to the sad father, he answers her with pittious complaints against the pittilesse neighbours, Alas! What shall I doe? I have beene at goodman such a ones house; from him I went to goodman - such a one (good men with a mischiefe, that have not a mite of goodnesse in the, because no compassion on their miserable fellow members,) I have beene ever the Parish, with money in my hand, and cannot get a pecke of Barley : they have it, but they say they cannot spare it. O miserable condition ! the poore man is put to a double [Page 37] labour ; first, to get a little money for Corne, and then to get a little Corne for money, and this last is the hardest labour : he might have earned almost halfe a Bushell, while hee runnes about begging to buy halfe a pecke. Thus doe our Country Pharaohs make their brethren bondslaves, enforcing them to make Bricke, and denying them Straw ; crying, Hang them, hang them if they steale, yet not setting them on worke, nor releeving then when they have wrought, and so enforcing them either to steale or to starve.
Remember, O ye Palmer-wormes remember, your predecessor, the rich foole in the Gospell. Luk.12.16 Quid facium? Nonne [...] pauperis vox est, non habentis subsid a vivendi? Quid faciam (inquit) quod nost des? Clamal sedine non kabere; Paupertatis hie Sermo est, ae inopia queritur abundans fructibus. Et dixit, Hoc faciam, horrea mea destruam. Diceret potius. Aperiam borea mea, ingrediantur qui tolerare famem non quent, veniant inopes, intrent pauperes, repleant sinus suos. [...] parietes qui excludunt esurientes. Ut quid ego abscondam evi Deus facit [...] quod lergiouri Ambros. l de Nabuth c 6.Id. tbid.c.7. Dum incrementa preteorum [...] The ground of a certaine rich manbrough forth plenteously. And heethought with himselfe, What shall I do, because I have no roome to be below my fruits? What shalt thou doe, man? Hast thou so much that thou knowest not what to do with my goods? I will tell thee what thou shalt doe : Give to the poore out of thine abundance; if thou wilt not doe so, yet sell to them at a reasonable price, What shalt thou doe? why? make the guts of the poore thy garners ; their bowels, thy Barnes ; their empty mawes, thy Mow-hayes ; so shalt thou bee sure that both thy substance and thy soule shall bee safe. How? no, I'll none of that. Why? what wilt thou doe then? I know what I will doe : I will pull downe my Barnes, and buld greater. Nay, soft and faire, thou mayest save charges and labour ; for, O foole, this night shall they take away thy soule from thee. [Page 38] So let thine enemies perish, O Lord, even all these who are enemies to those whom thou most befriendest, the poore and indigent : unlesse it rather please thee (which wee most desire) to give them grace to turne mercifull, that so thou mayest have mercy upon them : and unless it please thee to give them wisdome from above, to flye from the curse, by forsaking the cursed sinne which procureth it, and to buy a blessing at so cheap an hand, as by selling the superfluity of their Corne, having reserved sufficient for their owne provision : For,
Blessings shall be the head of him who selleth it.
2.2. THE THIRD SERMON.
But blessing shall be upon the head of who selleth it.
The second part of the Text, wherin it is to be considered. I Have almost beene tired on Mount Ebal, the Mountaine of Cursing ; Whereunto the first part of my Test necessarily tasked mee. I doe therefore (after some pause) the more willingly climbe the Mount Gerizim, the Mountaine of blessing, whereunto the second part doth lead me ; and glad I am to follow, becuse the ascent is easie, and the top excellent. The ascent I call the Duty, which is selling, than which, what more easie? By the top I understand the recompence, which is no lesse than Blessing ; than which, what more excellent?
But blessing shall bee on the head of him who selleth it.
1 Duty to be performed Selling.Consider wee first, the duty, which is selling of Corne, opposite to the sinne of withholding it. [Page 40] [...] That selleth. The Originall word importeth breaking, or dividing. The meanig is, that Corne must be broken from the heape, and by small portions distributed abroad among many, according to the necessary and ability of the buyer ; that they who cannot read a Bushell, may have a Pecke, or halfe a Pecke, for their money. The like phrases are frequent in Scipture : Breake thy bread unto the hungry. - Give a portion unto seaven- As a loafe of bread is broken and divided among many. that every one may have some, and not one all ; so Corne is to be broken from the heape, and no to bee sold by the heape to ingrossers, and to such as will make a commodity by retailing it at a dearer rate, but in smaller portions to bee divided and subdivided to the poorer sort of people who doe buy for necessity. Thus to sell (especially in such seasons as these) is a worke of charity, and shall not want a reward; for it shall receive a blessing. So that
Doct.3. there is a charity in selling, as well as in giving. There is a Charity sometimes in selling.
There are three principall deeds of Charity : 1. Giving, 2. Lending, 3. Selling. Giving is the chiefest and most noble ; It is more blessed to give, than to receive ; and therein man doth most resemble God, 1 Tim.6.17 Who giveth us abundantly all thigns to enjoy. Lending is next, if it be free lending ; Psalm. A good man is mercifull and lendeth, saith the Psalmist. Selling is the last, yet this also (rightly performed) wanteth not a blesing. The holy Ghost in Scripture prescribeth rules for selling, giving a charge, that 1 Thes.4.6. No man doe circumvent or defraud another in bargaining. Act.16.14 Lydia, a seller of purple, is praised, and said also to be a worshipper of God. In the last Chapter of this booke, the godly Matron is commended, not onely [Page 41] (though chiefly) for her bounty in giving, Prov.31.20Pro.31.20. She stretcheth forth her hands to the poore, yea, shee spreadeth them out to the needy; but also for her selling ; Vers.24 Shee maketh fine wooll, and selleth it, and delivereth girdles to the Merchant.
Ver.1. To teach us to acknowledge God goodness in accepting any Service done at his command, though for our owne profit.Behold herein, and acknowledge the gratious indulgence and great kindenesse of our heavenly Father, and Master to us his poore children and servants. He imposeth no hard taske upon us. Christ may well say, Mat.11.30. My yoke is easie, and my burthen light : if there bee any hardnesse in any of his precepts, it is mollified againe with some milde qualification. Mat 11.30.Chrysost.ad.pop.Antioch.hom.65.Canst thou not (saith a Saint) keepe virginity? God gives thee leave to marry : Canst thou not fast? God gives thee leave to ear : Hast thou a great charge, many of thin ease to give ? Behold, God giveth thee leaveto sell, yea, promiseth a blessing where thou makest a benefit.
Luk.12.33. Sell that you have, and give almes, saith our Saviour : Is that somewhat hard to sell and give all? Why then sell some, and give almes of a part, yea, give almes even by selling some part of that which you may well spare to your poore brethren ; that Cor. 8.14. now at this time your abundance may supply their want, that [ at another time ] their abandance may supply your want, that there may be equality. Yea, where there is ability of giving, there God accepteth sometimes selling even where there in ability of giving.God accepeth selling at some times, such times as these. Hee who selleth to prevent a Death, doth a good worke, as well as hee who giveth in the time of Dearth. A few Bushels sent to the Market, and sold indifferently to the needy, doe please God, as well as money or bread given at the doore : by this, one or a few are, for the time, refreshed ; by the other, many are weekly releeved ; by giving at the doore,[Page 42] many times, idle bellies, loose lozels, lewd loyteters are pampered, whose backes had more need to be punished ; but by reasonable and seasonable selling, many poore painefull families are maintained, which having laboured hard all this weeke, must not onely pray, but fast the Sunday, if they cannot buy a little Corne the Satterday. So that the way to heaven is not so narrow, nor the gate so strait, but that a couteous Farmer, with his Cartload of orne may enter into it, who is ready to releeve the Countrey by charitable selling. Use 2. To in [...]ice those who are of ability, to this duty of selling.Behold how God esteemes that moercy to others, which brings a commodity to our selves ; and saith, in effect, to you that are of ability, in these extremities ; Thy neighbour hath need, yea, I my selfe, in him, doe suffer want now enrich thy selfe, in him, doe suffer want, now enrich thy selfe. At other times (and so now too especially) Prov.19.17 Hee that giveth to the poore, lendeth unto the Lord ; at this time, Hee that selleth unto the poore, giveth unto the Lord, and the Lord will repay him with a blessing in the bargaine. Doth David say of him, 1 Psal. 111.9. 2 Cor.9.9. Who hath dispersed and given to the poore, that his righteousnesse remaineth forever ? Behold, his righteousnesse remainth, and a blessing is layd up for him who disperseth and selleth to the poore. did that blessed Saint say truly in one sense, Nemo dicat, Non habeo ; Charitas de succalo non erogatur. Augustin in Psal.103 Charitas de sacculo non erogatur, Charity is drawne out of a Sacke: we may as truly (in this sense) affirme the contrary, Charity is drawne out of a Sacke. When a man openeth the Sacke and selleth as he ought, he dealeth charitable. To sell, in Latine, is, Vendere quasi venuta dare.To give to sale ; so that to sell to him that needeth, is a kinde of gift. The charitable seller shall have his reward, as well as the charitable givers.
Not evry one who selleth, buchee who selleth charitably, hath the recompence.I say, The charitable seller : for, Not every one that selleth at every time, must [Page 43]expect the blessing. Even those whom the people doe curse for not selling at this time, doe meane to sell at another time. But he who will so fell as that hee may buy a blessing, must sell charitably. How is that? He must sell,
1. Convenient graine, 2. For convenient gaine, 3. In season convenient, and 4. Measure convenient.
To sell that which is good for quality, convenient graine.First, hee must shew harity in selling, in regard of the matter ; he must sell that which is good fo rquality. He must not sell the refuse of the wheat, left instead of a blessing, hee come within compasse of the curse denounced by Amos 8.6. Amos, against such sellers. Some will sell indeed, but it shall bee the orts and fragments of Rats and Mice. [...] hoc homnimes nequent quod vendere donant. Faern in fab.Many will give that which they annot sell. Hae hod e porcis comedenda relinques.Horat.But many are worse than the Calabrian host, who, if his guests would not accept his profered Peares, hee would tell them that the swine should eat them. Many will not sell to their brethren but that which is almost too bad to be cast unto the swine.
For convenient gaine.Secondly, convenient graine must bee sold for convenient gaine, otherwise there is no charity, but injury and oppression in selling. Gold may bee bought too deare, and so may graine. Wherefore, as Saint John Baptist counselled the Publicans, so doe we thepopular Publicans, the Farmers, Luk.3.13 Exact no more than is appointed. Man say that light gaine makes heavy purses ;some shall find that light ware and heavy price will make guilty consciences, & heavy hearts at the last. Too many doe catch their poore neighbours, the buyer, as, they say, men doe use to catch the Panther, by palcing the prey on a Tree in his fight, so farre above his reach, that hee breakes his heart-strings in leaping at it : so, many doe bring into the Markets good Corne, but as a bait in the [Page 44] fight of the buyer ; for they pitch such an high price on it, that the poore Coater, though hee stretch his purse-strings till they breake againe, is not able to reach unto it. And if they cannot have their owne price, home it must againe, or bee housed, untill the next Market ; and if the price doe fall in the meane time, they are ready to hang themselves, because they neglected their advantage.
3 In convenient season.Thirdly, selling (especially in this) cannot bee charitable, unlesse it bee also seasonable. God giveth every thing food in due season ; so will the godly afford their poore brethren that which must feed them in the fittest season. Tempestuity in doing, addeth weight and worth to every good deed. What is a pardon worth, that commeth after execution? As much as the Cardianls Cap which the Pope sent to B. Fisher, when the head was off that should have worne it. Farmers will sell (forsooth) but not yet, not in haste, the price is not yet high enough for their purpose. They have learn'd the language of the Jewes in Haggaies times, and doe say, by releeving the spiritual Temples of the Lord, as they did by repairing his materiall Temple. Haggai 1.2. The time is not yet come, the time that the Lords house should be built. The time is not yet come that wee should sell ; it will bee dearer a great deale, and that ere long. What is this but to delay a blessing, untill it turne to a curse ; like the reprieving of a good dish of meat till it be moulded, and full of worms? You who desire a blessing upon your selling, remember that of the Apostle, and take it as spoken to you in this paticular, Cor.6.2 Now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation. Now is the time (you who have Corne to sell) now is your time to sell it ; no wthat Corne is deare, now bring it forth, furnish the [Page 45]Markets, bring downe the price ; now take your time, that you my bring a blessing on your soules.
4 Convenient measure.Lastly, as the matter must be good, so th emeasure must be just ; there must bee a conveniency as well in regard of quantity as of quality, otherwise, charity and a blessing will be absent from your selling. Prov.11.1. False ballances are abhomination unto the Lord ; and are not false Bushels and false Peckes also? Levit.19.36 Deut.25.15 Ezech.45.10 Just Ballances, just weights, a just Ephah, and a just Him shalt thou have. Amos 8. To make the Ephah small, and the Shekel great, and to fell the refuse of the Corne : bad ware, and as bad measure, this is not to sell unto the poore, but to sell the poore, or buy them for so base a price as a paire of shooes, saith th e Prophet. Such Merchants are some of our mizars, who bring good graine and great measure to the Market, onely to fetch up the price, and doe sell worse Cornne and less measure to their poore neighbours at home at the same price, swearing that they sold it for so much at the Market, and so by a mentall reservation, reserve their soules(without repentence) for the Divell. What can this bee, but a menifest breach of that strict injunction, Deut,25.13,14. Thou shalt not have in thy bagge diners weights, thou shalt not have in thine house diners use asures, a great and a small ; and marke what followes, and tremble all yee that practise such craft, Verse.16 All that doe such things, and all that doe unrighteously, are an abhomination to the Lord. And how can abhominable selling expect a blessing ? It is the charitable seller, for whose head this Crowne is prepared, as a reward, not of merit, but of mercy ; which that it may the more fervently affect us, let it be a little more punctually considered by us,
[...] Blessing shall bee in the head of him who selleth it.
Observat. The reward more emphatically layd downe, than the judgment threatned.Here it is observable, that the reward promised, is larger and more emphatically laid downe, than the punishment threatened. For whereas the Antithesis requires that it should be said,The people shall blesse him,as it was of the cotrary,The people that curse him, it is not so said, but, Blessing shal be on his head, which is more emphaticall. For hereby it is signified, the God taketh on him to be the bestower of the blessing, he will not entrust the multitude therewith, he will doe it himselfe to prevent failing. In naming the head, (the sublimest and noblest part of the whole body) he intimateth that God, who is the fountaine of blessednesse, will streame down blessings upon him plentifully and comfortably. That which is powred downe upon the head, must needs proceed from something that is above the head. Now there is none higher than the head if man, that can conferre a blessing on man, but God alone. Hence therefore it must needs follow, that
Doc.4. God wil blesse him who selleth charitable in time of extremity. God will crowne with blessings that man who charitably selleth his Corne in times of extremity, thereby to mitigate or abate the Dearth.
Two sinnes of the poore. 1 Murmuring. 2 Unthankfulness.These are two sinnes especially reigning among the poorer sort of people; 1. Murmuring, and 2. Unthankfullnesse: If they want, and be not presently satisfied, they murmure against God and man ; they cry out on the hardnesse of the times and of mens hearts. This David, long sithence, observed in some of that kinde; Psal. 59.15. They wander up and downe for meat, and grudge if they be not satisfied. And yet being satisfied, commonly they are unthankfull both to God and man. They have mouthes full of cursing against them who will hold Corne ; but not a breath of blessing (too many of them) for those who releeve [Page 47] them. either by giving, lending, or selling. This makes mens hearts to bee harder than they would be ; and this causeth God to punish such murmuring, such unthankfulnesse, by encreasing their wants, and removing the supplies. Neither of these should discourage us from charitable actions.For though men bee ungratefull, yet God is not forgetfull.But let neither of thses discourage good Christians from doing their duties ; let no man bee disheartened from charitable beneficence by the peoples unthankfullnesse : For though man be ungratefull, yet God is not forgetfull. Good men in doing good, doe looke up chiefly to the fountaine of goodnesse, to God and his glory. Be ye assured therefore, that though men doe neglect their duty, yet God can as soone forget himselfe as his mercy. If the people, who are ready to curse when they want, be not as ready to blesse when their wants are supplied, yet to God, who hath powred charity into your hearts, will powre down blessings upon you heads, and so crowne in you his own gifts.
Application.I must reserve some time for Application, and so nuch the more, because my Text (rightly applied) surroundeth the whole Temple, and bespeaketh all Auditors here present, of what forever condition, even from the Chancellor to the Churchdoore, as well for application as attention.
And because Salomon saith, 1 To the Magistrates, exhorting them to carefulnes in doing their duties in this behalfe, according to his Majesties orders. Blessing shall be upon the head, let me first beginne with the head of this assembly, and prepare them to receive the blessing, which afterward (like Aarons ointment) may from the head distill unto the beard, and thence runne downe to the hem of the garment.
To you (right Worshipfull) doth Salomon speake in this Proclamation, as Procalmations are first adressed to the chiefe Officers, that by them they may be published to the People. If you be failing in doing your duties, if you discharge not that truth [Page 48] which God hath imposed and his annointed hath reposed on you, how will you answer it? how will you escape the curse of God and man. But (praised be God) the country doth witnesse, and we thankfully acknowledge, that hitherto (some of you especially) have not beene failing. Proceed in the name of God ; all the praise and recompence is paid unto perseverance : feare not, faint not, be resolute, be couragious; you have God the King, the Cleargie, the Country on your sides : onely a few scarabees, whose element is dongue, may assay to feare you from your commendable courses. But let not their buzzing out-brave your worthy proceedings : let not the murmurings nor reproaches of a few, worthier to be punished then regarded, daunt you in the service of God and your Country. I have heard strange language from some of their lips; The Markets are worse furnished, and the price of Corne more risen since the Justices have beene so industrious. Strange inferences [...]iullt just like. Temerton Steeple the cause of Goodwin sands. As if Judges were the cause of so many fellonies, as Physitians(in some places) are of so many funerals, and Attornies so many Lawsutes. These are but bubbles blowne up by malice or covetousnesse; let them not be Lyons to stop yoa from going on couragiously in the way of Justice. Though the people do sometimes curse where they should blesse, yet God will surely blesse, where he findeth obedience. As blessing shall be on the head of them who sell their Corne willingly, so shall it be on your heads, who cause them, or compell them to sell, who are unwilling. The blessing that might have beene on their heads, if they had sold willingly, shall bee taken from theirs, and placed on your heads, for enforcing them to doe their duty. And to draw on the people by their example.And doubtlesse, this blessing shal be doubled, if you draw [Page 49] them on by example, as well as by authority. If blessing shall be on the head of the seller, how many blessing shall bee on the bountifull giver and releever of the poore? If it be more blessed to give than to receive, then, doubtlesse, it is more blessed to give than to sell. Let me incite you (Worthies) to an holy anbition, a godly envy, or (to avoyd the odiusnesse of the terme, stile it rather) zeale. Disdaine, disdaine that your Tenants should carry away from your heads, such a Crowne by selling, when you may anticipate the blessing by bountifull giving. Or let those Earth-wormes be so base, that they will not buy heaven by selling, be ye more generous (Noble Bereau) buy it you by giving. O que stultitia est Deus emit sanguine sernos, Merideri parnons piget are Deum. Christ was contented to be sold himselfe at a vile price, that he might buy us at so deare a prices as his owne blood. How can we call our selves Christians, if wee will not buy Christ for a little silver, or a morsell of bread? Hospitality at all times commendable, in these hard times is Royall. Learne of Noble Nehemias, to make your houses Hospitals for the poore. Away with that mock-chimney, or rather poyson of Hospitality, entertaining of Nimrods, Esaus, Ismaels, and those denouning Dromedaries, their follows. If ever, now, now follow your Saviours counsell of inviting and entertaining your poore neighbours at your tables; if not at your tables, yet in your houses, yet send sometimes to see how they are provided at their owne. Your Over-seers for the poure, in many Parishes, are poore Over-seers: It is a worthy worke for Justice of Peace, in his Parish, to ever-see them, and if need be, to be a Deacon in ministring and distributing to the necessities of the brethren. Christ hath descended to baser services for us. If any say, I [Page 50] talke of cost and charges ; I will soone shew how that may be saved, at least quitted. Stop somewaht of the streame in your Butteries and Sellars, and open it rather at your doores. Rescue your Wine and your Beere from the tyranny of Rorers, and turne it into bread for the necessary releefe of your hungry neighbours. Plucke your drinke from the throats of them that waste it, that you may the better bestow your morsels in those who want it. How many a hungry family might feast it a week, on the healths that are wasted in some Gentlemens houses in a night?
Dehoration from with-holding Justice, & from selling it.One word more, I pray you, at parting : you have mysticall Corne, as well as material. Justice and Equity is your Corne, If you with-hold this, the people will curse you, and God will adde the weight of a woe to their curses. Onely, this Corne of Justice is not for the Market ; it must not be sold, take heed of that, it must be equally divided, and distributed freely. Justice must not be sold by the basket, as Corn is by the Bushell. Though in Cities, commonly, Merchants be Justices, yet neither in City nor Country must Justices be merchants, especially of Justice. The sellers of this kinde of Corne, are liable to a curse, equall with the with-holders of the other. Blessing shall be on the head of them who uprightly doe administer it, and freely doe distribute it.
To ministers. To be careful and faithfull and in distributing spirituall Corne for the bread of life.I see here are Ministers present, as well as Magistrates, and shall I dismisse my brethren without a blessing? were this a Visitation (as in some kinde it is) here were a Text for a Concie ad clerum, Hee that with-holdeth vorne, the people shall curse him. As for materiall Corne, our neighbours will exempt us from the curse by keeping our Corne from us, not allowing us (by their wils) sufficient to serve our owne turnes, much lesse to be sellers. But (blessed [Page 51] and beloved Brethren) let us remember that weare Gods Husbandmen, and Josephs Hieronym. Hugo Cardinal et aly. (as I may say) for spirituall Corne : some of the ancients doe take this Text in a mysticall sense, and by Corne doe here understand the Preaching of the Gospell. O let us not be hiders and with-holders, but stewards and disposers of that graine whereof is made the bread of life. Never had wee more need to be bountifull in breaking it to the People, then in these dangerous dayes: see we not how the seeds-men of sathan, the Divels farmers and Proctors, Jesuites and secret Sectaries doe bestirre themselves? they are not sparing in threshing out their tares : they sell, yea, they give abroad their Rosh grain, they impose it on the people, and doe presse them to take it : Shall we be with-holders and hiders of Gods graine, when so many are ready to perish for want of knowledg?
It may be the common people, who care not much for this mysticall corne, will not curse us, though we keepe it from them : but though they doe not, God will ; for if he be cursed who with-holds corporall bread, how shall he escape who with-holds the bread of the fonle? And if blessing shall be on his head who in needfull time produceth his corn, that the people may have the food which perisheth, how blessed shall he be who in so needfull times as these, is bountifull in bestowing on them the food that endureth to everlasting life?
3.To the poore. Here is no warrant for them to revenge their wrongs with cursings, as commonly they doe.Let mee now speake to them, for whom I have spoken all this while ; namely, the poorer sort of people, who are therefore the poorer and more miserable, because they care so little to repaire to the Temple, and to heare what God saith unto them. Though the people curse be the curse of Corn-horders, yet this is no warrant for you, O ye Poore, to be impatient, & to revenge your worngs with [Page 52] execrations and curses, Vengeance is mine, and I will recompence, saith the Lord. When Saint James had bitterly inveighed against covetous rich men for keeping in their coyne, and their cloathing, and for detaining from the labourer his hire, though hee said that Jam.5. The rust of their silver should be a witnesse against them, and that the moaths of their garments should eat their flesh as fire, and that the cries of the labourers entred into the eares of the Lord ; yet hee doth not counsell the labourers to cry, much lesse to curse, but exhorting them to patience, adviseth them to commit their case to the Supreme Judge, saying, Vers.7,8,9. Be patient therefore, brethren, till the comming of the Lord- Grudges not one against another, brethren lest thee be condemned. behold the Judge standeth before the doore.
*Note: But rather to accuse and curse their own sins, he cause of their sufferings.Malotum omnium nostrorum causa est peccatum. Nibil imputemus astris; sacrilegio annus Exeruit.SymmathRather, looke into your selves, accuse your selves, and if you will needs curse, banne and abandon your owne sinnes, for they are the causes of all your calamities. Your grudging, your murmuring, your unthankfulnesse, these, and the like, have caused God to harden the hearts of men against you. Sinne, sin is the procurer of Dearth, and of all other disasters besides. Pal 107 God turneth a fruitfull land into barrenesse : why doth he so ? For the wickednesse of the people that dwell therein. Onely for sinne, Bethleem, which was an house of Bread, became an house of famine ; and that land, which abounded with milke and honey, was abandoned to Dearth and scarcity. In the Caldean language [...] (saith blessed Ambrose) Sodome and Gomorra doe signifie blindnesse and barrenesse. Particularly that common sine of the vulgar, who are more carefull for materiall bread than for the word, the bread of their soules.Consider with your selves, whether among your other sinnes, your affected blindnesse be not a cause of this inflicted barrennesse. Alas! you doe not feele your greatest famine : miserable is your ignorance : I have knowne some of you that have not knowne whether Christ were a man or a[Page 53]woman. How sollicitous are you for corporall, how carelesse of Spritual sustenance? crying out that you are ready to dye for want of an crust, and not perceiving that you doe daily perish for want of knowledge? Psal.59.15 You wander up and downe for meat, and grudge if you be not satisfied ; you may bee fed at home with the food that endureth to everlasting life, and will not come to receive it. If your neighbour deny you Wheat or Barley, you complaine, you cry, you are ready to curse him. But if God doe send a famine, not of bread, but of (that which is much more pretious) the word of God, or if the bread of life be withholden from you, by those who should breake it unto you, you are nothing grieved thereat, you never complaine of that want. These, and the like, your peculiar sins have caused unto you this Dearth. Accuse not so much the covetousnesse of other, as your owne corruptions : not the constellations or courses of the heavens, but evill men, evill minds, evill manners, do make the times evill. Mala tempora facit nobis contempus Dei, temporum cursus non facit. Chrysolugue.De orat et beiunia ser 43.Amend them, and these will soone be amended. And amend, if not for love of God and godlinesse, yet for feare of judgements. Repent, if not invited there unto by good things, yet enforced by these things which you account evill. What you have lost by sin and negligence, redeeme, recover by true repentance, Learne you once to seek first the kingdome of God and his righteous, and then you have a most fare word of promise, that Mat.6.33all these things shall be added unto you. God will turn stones into bread from heaven, or cause the Ravens to feed you, or worke any miracle rather than you shall perish. Or if it please God to correct you with this rod, and to exercise you with this affliction, yet despaire not; for even these publike[Page 54]calamities are sanctified to Gods children. To them, this very scourge of famine(as well as other curses) have their natures altered, as the bitter waters of Mara, were turned into sweetnesse, and a stinging serpent changed into a flourishing rod. No extremity of famine (no more then any other temptation) can turne the love of God from his children ; as is cleere by that bold challenge of the Apostle to all afflicitions and crosses, and to this as well as to any of the rest, Rom.35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulatio, or distrsse, or persecution, or FAMINE? No, for in all these thing wee are more then conquerors, through him that loved us.
4. Encouragement and comfort unto the sellers.Can I quit the Mountaine of blessing, without bequeathinig a blessing? I cannot; ant to whom my Text doth bestow it, the Sellers? We who are the Preachers of Peace, may, and ought sometimes encourage men unto contention, so it be against sinne, and the courses of sinners. Contend you therefore (charitable breasts) against these hard-hearted horders : Be you as covetous for your soules, as they are for perishing substance : While they heape up curses on themselves with-holding, strive you for blessing by charitable selling. Now is your harvest, take advantage of these hard times to store your selves with the best riches; see how God makes many to want, that you may abound, and suffers other to be miserable, that you may be blessed by relieving them. Neglect not this opportunity, but now by seasonable selling buy unto your selves an assured blessing ; you see with what a faire offer God presents you, to get heaven without loosing any thing on earth. That blessing which others attaine unto by free giving, you may get by profitable selling.
Blessed shall you be in your outward estate, you [Page 55] shall never be poore at the yeeres end; God shall crowne them with blessings Externall.you shal finde as much coine in your purses, as the greedy cormorant that shaketh after all advantages. God will blow on his store, and boare holes in his bags, while yours shall hold, and be encreased : A little that the righteous hath, is more then all the riches of the wicked. Blessed shall you be in you names an reputations; you shall be praised and well reported of by all men (all good men) and by the truth it selfe: the precious ointment of a good name shall perfume the places of your abroad : The righteous shall be had in everlasting rememberance.
Blessed shall you be in the love of the people. The daily labourer shall daily praise you ; godly Ministers shall rejoyce & take comfort in you; widdowes & orphanes in their hearty prayers shall send letters of commendation in your behalfe unto heaven, to the King of heaven, theit speciall protector and assured friend to all that doe befriend them.
Blessed shall you be in your husbandry, and in your fields ; this yeeres selling shall be the next yeeres sowing and reaping : the earth which was cursed forAdams sinne shall be blessed unto you : No worthing, no marle, no manuring shall procure you more plety Corne, then this your selling of Corne ; yea, a blessing shall be on your children, and on your posterity after you, as is promised unto the faithfull.
God shall crowne you with spirituall blessings : Internall Psal.4.7 He shall put gladnesse into your hearts, more then they have, when their corne and their wine is increased, and the prices with them : you shall have peace of conscience, joy in the holy Ghost, greater treasures then all full coffers and barnes can afford.
You shall be blessed in your sicknesse. God[Page 56]himselfe shal be your Physitian, your keeper, your attender : Psal.41.5 The Lord will strengthen you upon the bed of languishing, he himselfe will turne all your bed in your sickenes. You shall be blessed in that houre wherein others are most distressed, in your Death ; with old Simeon you shall depart in peace, your eyes before-hand seeing your salvation.
Ezechial.But most blessed shall you be after Death, when God shall crowne you with everlasting blessednesse in heaven; then shall the head of blessings be on your head, when you shall be most neerly and eternally joyned unto your head Christ Jesus, who is blessednesse it selfe, Who is God blessed for ever. O how joyfull shall you be at that day, when others shall be most sorrowfull : how blessed, when these Corn-holders shall be cursed! for when they shall be sent way with the Goates on the left hand, with that wofull word, Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the Divel and his Angels : then shal you standing among the sheepe on the right hand heare that happy call, Mat.25.34 Come ye blessed of my father, inherit the Kingdome prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
To which Kingdome he bring us who hath prepared it for us, nd to him one God in three persons, blessed for ever, be ascribed all praise, power, might, majesty, glory, and Dominion, now and for ever. Amen