Imatges de pàgina

1 Tim. iv.

Ezek. iii.

Jer. i.

1 Cor. ix.

and they that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever and ever." And 1 Tim, iv. “Take heed to thyself and to doctrine; in them occupy thyself continually. For in so doing thou shalt save thyself and them which hear thee.” How fiercely also he urgeth and driveth on the sluggish and careless shepherds with terrible plagues and whips threatened unto them, appeareth, Ezechiel iï., where he saith, Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel : therefore hear the word of my mouth, and give them warning from me: when I shall say unto the wicked, thou shalt surely die, and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to admonish the wicked of his wicked way that he may live; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thy hand.” And Ieremie i. ver. 17: “ Thou therefore, truss up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not afraid of their faces, lest I destroy thee before them.” And 1 Cor. ix, ver. 16: “Though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to rejoice of; for necessity is laid upon me, and woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel : for if I do it willingly, I have a reward : but if I do it against my will, notwithstanding the dispensation is committed unto me.”

Now the sheep, whereof spiritual shepherds have undertaken charge, are not beasts, but men: the very images of God himself endued with everliving souls, citizens with the saints and blessed angels, clothed with God's livery, beautified with his cognizance and all the badges of salvation, admitted to his table, and to no meaner dishes than the body and blood of the undefiled Lamb Christ Jesus; bought also and redeemed out of the wolf's chawes? with no less price than of that same blood more precious than any gold or silver. Sheep also of that nature they are, that, being carefully fed and discreetly ordered, they prove gentle and loving towards their shepherds, and serviceable towards the chief Shepherd Jesus Christ : but being neglected and left to themselves, they degenerate into bloody wolves, watching ever opportunity when they may rent in pieces their shepherds, and all other sheep which are not degenerated into their wolfish nature.

As for the spiritual wolf, against whom they watch, which
[1 So Tyndale's Versions, and Cranmer's Bible, 1539.]
[2 Chawes: jaws. P.]

is Satan, “He,” as the apostle Peter witnesseth, 1 Epistle, 1 Pet. v. cap. v. "never resteth, but as a roaring lion walketh about, seeking ever whom he may devour.” And for that cause also is he called, Apoc. xx. ver. 2, "a dragon," which beast is Rev. xx. naturally very malicious crafty, and watchful: so then, if the spiritual shepherd must watch whiles the spiritual wolf doth wake, he can promise unto himself no one moment of security, wherein he may be careless.

God by his prophet Ezechiel, cap. xxxiv. saith : “Woe Ezek. xxxiv. be unto the shepherds of Israel that feed themselves: should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool; ye kill them that are fed, but ye feed not the sheep.” This sentence should awake the sleepy and careless consciences of many shepherds. For as the priest that serveth the altar is worthy to live upon the offerings, and the soldier that ventureth is worthy his wages, and the husbandman that toileth is worthy the harvest, and the shepherd that feedeth the flock is worthy to be fed with the milk, and clothed with the wool; so, questionless, the priest that serveth not is worthy no offerings, the soldier that fighteth not is worthy no wages, the husbandman that loitereth is worthy of weeds, and the shepherd that feedeth not can with no good conscience require either the milk or the fleece : but his due reward and just recompence is punishment, for that through his default the sheep are hungerstarved and destroyed of the wolf.

But let the ministers of our time well weigh the condition and manner of the time; and then, no doubt, they shall see that it is high time to bestir them to the doing of their duties. This time succeedeth a time, wherein was extreme famine of all spiritual food, so that the sheep of this time can never recover themselves of that feebleness whereinto they were brought, but by some great and extraordinary diligence. This time succeedeth a time, wherein the multitude of wolves and ravenous beasts was so great, and their rage

and fury so fell in every sheepfold, that the good shepherds were either put to flight, or pitifully murdered; so that the sheep, being committed to wolves, did either perish, or degenerate into wolves : so that to regenerate them again into sheep requireth no small labour. The church in this time is like land that hath lain, time out of mind, unmanured, uncompassed, untilled;

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by reason whereof it is so out of heart, that it requireth arms of iron and legs of brass to recover it again : or like a ship so worn with winds and tempests, so rent with rocks, so crackt and utterly decayed, that it seemeth a rare piece of cunning to make her take the seas again.

No remedy, then, but the ministry of this time, if there be any love or fear of God in them, if they would not have all things run to ruin, if they regard either God, themselves, or their brethren, must forth with, without further delay, set themselves to feed their flocks, to teach, to exhort, to strengthen, to bind up, to build, to plant, to water, to set, to graff, to leave nothing undone that appertaineth to the feeding and fatting of the Lord's flocks, to the planting of the Lord's paradise, tilling of the Lord's husbandry, dressing of the Lord's vineyard, raising and rearing up of the Lord's temple. What great want there is in many to discharge their duties in this behalf, is very lamentable, and by some means (as much as is possible) to be supplied and remedied, rather than to be made a common theme and argument of railing, which at this day many do: wherein they shew themselves like unto those which find fault at other men's garments, not for that they love them, or mind to give them better, but for that they are proud of their own, and would scornfully shame and vex other. The cause of this great want needs not here to be disputed: but in very deed, any man may judge how unpossible it was for so populous a kingdom, abounding with so many several congregations, to be all furnished with fit and able pastors; and that, immediately after such a general corruption and apostasy from the truth. For unless they should have suddenly come from heaven, or been raised up miraculously, they could not have been. For the ancient preachers of king Edward's time, some of them died in prison, many perished by fire, many otherwise; many also fled into other countries, of whom some there died, and a few returned, which were but as an handful to furnish this whole realm. The universities were also at the first so infected, that many wolves and foxes crept out, who detested the ministry, and wrought the contempt of it everywhere: but very few good shepherds came abroad? And whereas, since that

[ See Zurich Letters, reign of Q. Elizabeth, 2nd ed. Parker Soc. pages 24, 38, 42, 55, 61, 101, 104, 115, 427.]

time, now eighteen years, the universities being well purged, there was good hope, that all the land should have been overspread and replenished with able and learned pastors; the devil and corrupt patrons have taken such order, that much of that hope is cut off: for patrons now-a-days search not the universities for a most fit pastor ; but they post up and down the country for a most gainful chapman. He that hath the biggest purse to pay largely, not he that hath the best gifts to preach learnedly, is presented. The bishops bear great blame for this matter, and they admit (say they) unworthy

See the craft of Satan, falsely to charge the worthiest pillars of the church with the ruin of the church, to the end that all church-robbers, and caterpillars of the Lord's vineyard, may lie unespied. There is nothing that procureth the bishops of our time more trouble and displeasure, than that they zealously withstand the covetousness of patrons in rejecting their unsufficient clerks. For it standeth them upon of all other, that the church of God doth prosper, in the decay and fall whereof they cannot stand, but perish. But howsoever it cometh to pass, certain it is, that many are far behind in those gifts which are necessary for their function; and small likelihood is there yet that the church shall be served with better, but rather with worse : for it seemeth not that patrons hereafter will bate one penny, but rather more and more raise the market.

The case standing thus, their labour surely is not worst bestowed, neither do they promote the glory of God or profit the church least, which to that end apply their endeavour, that the ministry which now is in place may come forward, and be better able to do their duties : I mean such as either set forth godly and learned treatises, or expositions of the holy scriptures, compiled by themselves in our mother tongue; or else such as translate the worthy works of the famous divines of our time. Both these sorts of men, no doubt, do much edify the godly, and do greatly help forward all those ministers which either not at all, or very meanly, understand the Latin tongue : so that amongst them are found many, which, by painful industry and diligent reading of such books, do God good service in the church ; and so might all the rest of them do also, if sloth and worldly affairs did not hinder them. Some of that sort complain, that Calvin's manner of writing in his Institutions is over deep and profound for them : Musculus also, in his Common Places, is very scholastical; the Commentaries of Marlorat? upon John, of Peter Martyr upon the Judges, of Gualter upon the small Prophets, and other many are translated and extant); which altogether do handle most points of christian doctrine excellently well : but this sort of ministers for the most part are so bare bitten of their patrons“, that to buy them all would deeply charge them. Therefore, questionless, no writer yet in the hands of men can fit them better than master Bullinger in these his Decades; who in them amendeth much Calvin's obscurity with singular perspicuity, and Musculus' scholastical subtlety with great plainness and even popular facility. And all those points of christian doctrine, which are not to be found in one, but handled in all, Bullinger packeth up all, and that in good order, in this one book of small quantity. And whereas divers of the ministry which lack knowledge, and some also which have knowledge but yet lack order, discretion, memory, or audacity, cannot, by reason of their wants, either expound, or exhort, or otherwise preach, but only read the order of service; the Decades of master Bullinger in this respect may do more good than shall perhaps at the first be conceived. For in very deed this book is a book of sermons ; sermons in name, and in nature; fit to be read out of the pulpit unto the simplest and rudest people of this land: the doctrine of them very plain, without ostentation, curiosity, perplexity, vanity, or superfluity; very sound also, without popery, Ana

[1 An English translation of this work, The Institution of the Christian Religion, appeared for the first time in 1561. See Introductory Notice to Calvin's Institutes, ed. Calv. Soc. p. lii.]

[2 Marlorat was a Protestant minister born in Lorraine: he wrote commentaries on Genesis, Psalms, Isaiah, and the New Testament, and was executed at Rouen by order of the Duke of Guise in 1562.–Moreri. P.]

[3 Cf. Zurich Letters, Second Series, Parker Soc. ed. p. 148.]

[* “ Burton similarly complained, in his odd way, that if our greedy patrons hold us to such hard conditions as commonly they do, they will make most of us work at some trade, as Paul did; at last turn taskers, maltsters, costermongers, grasiers, sell ale, as some have done, or worse.”—Anatomy of Melancholy, Preface, quoted in Sermons on the Sacraments, by Henry Bullinger, Preface, p. y. note 6. Cambridge, 1840.)

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