« הקודםהמשך »
takers of God's manifold blessings, and that ye may be the better encouraged to resort to your parish-church, there to learn your duty towards God and your neighbour, there to be present and partakers of Christ's holy facraments, there to render thanks to your heavenly Father for the manifold benesits, which he daily poureth upon you, there to pray together, and to call upon God's holy name, which be-bleffed world without end. Amen3
Good Works. And first, of Fajling.
THE lise which we live in this world, good Christian people, is of the free benesit of God lent us, yet not to use it at our pleasure, after our own sleshly will, but to trade over the lame in those works which are beseeming them that are become new creatures in Christ. Thele Eph. ii. works the Apostle calleth good works, laying, We are God's workmanship, created in Chrjl Jesus to good works, which God hath ordained, that we should walk in them. And yet his meaning is not by these words to induce us to have any assiance, or to put any considence in our works, as by the merit and deserving of them to purchase to ourlelves and others remission of sin, and so consequently everlasting lise; for that were mere blasphemy against God's mercy, and great derogation to the bloodshedding of our Saviour Jesus Christ. For it is of the free grace and mercy of God, by the mediation of the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ, without merit or deserving on our part, that our sins are forgiven us, that we are reconciled and brought again into nis favour, and are made Aug.deDi-heirs of his heavenly kingdom: Grace, faith St. Au^r-sj^u*st-gustine, belonging to God, who doth call us; and then iWi.'quæst. "atri ne g00(l works, whosoever receiveth grace. Good 28. works then bring not forth grace, but are brought forth
by grace. The wheel, faith he, turneth round, not to the end that it may be made round; but because it is sirst made round, therefore it turneth round. So, no man doth good works, to receive grace by his good works; but because he hath sirst received grace, therefore consequently quently he doth good works. And in another place he Aug. do iaith, Good works go not besore in him which shall after- f 'de ward be justisied; but good works do follow after, when aoppTMbu!' man is sirst justisied. St. Paul therefore teacheth, that we must do good works for divers respects; sirst, to shew ourselves obedient children unto our heavenly Father, who hath ordained them, that we should walk in them. Secondly, for that they are good declarations and testimonies of our justisication. Thirdly, that others, seeing our good works, may the rather by them be stirred up and excited to glorify our Father which is in heaven. Let us not theresore be slack to do good works, seeing it is the will of God that we should walk in them, affuring ourklves that at the last day every man shall receive of God for his labour done in true faith, a greater reward than his works have deserved. And because somewhat shall now be spoken of one particular good work, whose commendation is both in the Law and in the Gospel, tbus much is faid in the beginning generally of all good works: sirst, to remove out of the way of the simple and unlearned this dangerous stumbling-block, that any man should go about to purchase or buy heaven with his works. Secondly, to take away, lo much as may be, from envious minds and slanderous tongues, all just occasion of slanderous speaking, as though good works were rejected. This eood work which now shall be treated of is fasting, which is found in the Scriptures to be of two forts; the one outward, pertaining to the body; the other inward, in the heart and mind. This outward fast is an abstinence from meat, drink, and all natural food, yea from all delicious pleasures and delectations worldly. When this outward fast pertaineth to one particular man, or to a sew, and not the whole number of the people, for causes which hereafter shall be declared, then it is called a private fast: but when the whole multitude of men, women, and children, in a township or city, yea through a whole country, do fast, it is called a public fast. Such was that fatl which the whole multitude of the children of Israel were commanded to keep the tenth day os the seventh month, because Almighty God appointed that day to be a cleansing day, a day of atonement, a time of reconciliation, a day wherein the people were cleansed from their sins. The order and manner how it was done is written in the sixteenth and twenty-third chapters of Levii. xvi. Leviticus. That day the people did lament, mourn, weep, and xxiii.
and bewail their former sins. An<- whosoever upon that day did not humble his foul, bewailing his sins, as is laid, abstaining from all bodily food until the evening, that soul (faith the Almighty God) should he dijlroycd from among bis priph. We do not read that Moles ordained, by order of law, any days of public fast throughout the whole year, more than that one day. The Jews notwithstanding had more times of common fasting, which 2*ch. viii. the Prophet Zachary reciteth to be the fast of the fourth, the fast of the sifth, the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth month. But for that it appeareth not in the Law when they were instituted, it is to be judged, that those other times of fasting, more than the fast of the seventh month, were ordained among the Jews, by the appointment of tlieir governors, rather of devotion, than by an express commandment given from God. Upon the ordinance of this general fait, good men took occasion to appoint to themselves private fasts, at such times as they did either earnestly lament and bewail their sinful lives, or did addict themselves to more servent prayer, that it might please God to turn his wrath from them, when either they were admonished and brought to the consideration thereof by the preaching of the Prophets, or otherwise when they faw present danger to hang over their heads. This sorrowfulness of heart, joined wi th fasting, they uttered sometimes by their outward behaviour and gesture of body, putting on fackcloth, sprinkling themselves with allies and dust, and sitting or lying upon the earth. For when good men seel in themselves the heavy burthen of sin, see damnation to be the reward of it, and behold with the eye of their mind the horror ot hell, they tremble, they quake, and are inwardly touched with sorrowfulness of heart for their oslences, and cannot but accule themselves, and open this their grief unto Almighty God, and call unto him for mercy. This being done leriously, their mind is so occupied, partly with sorrow and heaviness, partly with an earnest desire to be delivered from this danger of hell and damnation, that all desire of meat and drink is laid apart, and loathsomeness ot all worldly things and pleasure cometh in place; so that nothing then liketh them more, than to weep, to lament, to mourn, and, both with words and behaviour of body, to shew themselves weary of this lise. Thus did David fast, when he made interceslion to Almighty God for the child's lise, begotten in adultery of Bathsheba, Uriah's
wife. King Ahab fasted after this fort, when it repented him of murdering of Naboth, bewailing his own sinful doings. Such was the Ninevites fast, brought to repentance by Jonas preaching. When forty thoufand of the Israelites were stain in battle against the Benjamites, the Scripture faith, All the children of Israel, and the whole Judges xx. multitude os the people, went to Bethel, and sate there -weeping hefore the Lord, and fa/led all that day till night. So did Daniel, Esther, Nehemiah, and many others in the Old Testament, fast. But if any man will fay, it is true, so they fasted indeed; but we are not now under the yoke of the Law, we are set at liberty by the freedom of the Gospel; therefore those rites and customs of the old Law bind not us, except it can be (hewed by the Scriptures of the New Testament, or by examples out of the fame, that fasting now under the Gospel is a restraint of meat, drink, and all bodily food and pleasures from the body, as hefore. First, that we ought to fast, is a truth more manisest, than that it should here need to be proved; the Scriptures winch teach the fame are evident. The doubt therefore is, whether, when we fast, we ought to withhold from our bodies all meat and drink during the time of our fast, or no? That we ought so to do, may be well gathered upon a question moved by the Pharisees to Christ, and by his answer again to the fame. Wby (fay they) do Johns dif-jM^cr, eiplcs fast often, and pray, and we likewije? But tby diseipUs mt and drink, and fajl not at all. In this smooth question they couch up subtilly this argument or reason: \Vhoso fasteth not, that man is not of God: for fasting and prayer are works both commended and commanded of God in the Scriptures; and all good men, from Moses till this time, as well the Prophets as others, have exercised themselves in these works. John also and his disciples at this day do fast oft, and pray much; and so do we the Pharisees in like manner: but thy disciples fast not at all, which if thou wilt deny, we can easily prove it. For whosoever eateth and drinketh, fasteth not. Thy diiciples eat and drink, therefore they fast not. Of this we conclude, fay they, neceffarily, that neither art thou, stor yet thy dilciples, of God. Christ inaketh answer, saying, Can ye make that the children of the wedding shall J<ijl, while the Bridegroom is with them? The days shall eone, ivhen the Bridegroom shall he taken from them : in thofe days shall they fajl. Our Sav iour Christ, like a good master, desendeth the innocency of his disciples against the malice of the arrogant Pharisees, and proveth that his