CHAP.  2.

Daubers reprehended. Faithfulness in preaching and Daubing compared.

BY this time it doth most clearly and plentifully appear what a foul and fearful fault it is, for men, either in the managing of their public ministry, or in their more private conferences, visitations of the sick, consultations about a good estate to God-ward, and other occasions of like nature, to apply Jesus Christ and the promises, to promise life and safety in the evil day, to souls as yet not soundly enlightened and afflicted with sight of sin and sense of God’s wrath; to consciences never truly wounded and awakened.

[[104]] I insisted the longer upon this point, because I know it full well to be a most universal and prevailing policy of the devil, whereby he keeps many thousands in his cursed slavery, and from salvation, to confirm as many pastors as lie can possibly, willing enough to drive their flocks before them to perdition in an ignorant or affected prejudice, and forbearance of that saving method of bringing souls out of hell, mentioned before, and made good with much variety of evidence; and to nourish also in the hearts of natural men a strong and sturdy dislike, opposition, and raging against downright dealing and those men of God (sufficient, as they say, but falsely and against their own souls, by their terrible teaching to drive their hearers to distraction, self-destruction, or despair) who take the only right course to convert them and to bring them to Jesus Christ as he himself invites them, to wit, “labouring and heavy laden” with their sins (Matt. xi, 28).

Daubers, then, who serve Satan’s craft in this kind, and all those who dispense their ministry without all spiritual discretion and good conscience, of whom there are too many, as great strangers to the right way of working grace in others as to the work of grace in themselves; 1 say, they are a generation of dangerous men; adepts in an accursed art of conducting poor blinded souls merrily towards everlasting misery, and setting them down in the very midst of hell, before they be sensible of any danger, or discovery of their perilous state. Great men they are with the men of this world, with all those wise fools and sensual great ones, who are not willing to be tormented before their time, or rather who desire impossibly to live the life of pleasures now, and yet at last to “die the death of the righteous.” They have still ready at hand mercy and pardon, heaven and salvation for all comers, and all, that come near, without so much as a desire to put any difference, or to divide the precious from the vile, which is a prodigiously arrogant folly, pernicious in the highest degree both to their own souls and those they delude. Hear how they are branded in the Book of God, calling them, “pillow-sewers” under men’s elbows (Ezek. xiii, 18); that being laid soft and locked fast in the cradle of security, they may sink suddenly into the pit of destruction before they be aware. “Criers of Peace, peace, when there is no peace” (Jer. vi, 14), but horrible stirs; tumbling of garments in blood; burning and devouring of fire; “men-pleasers” (Gal. i, 10), who choose rather to tickle the itching ears of their carnal hearers with some frothy, friar-like conceits, and so smooth great ones in their humours [[105]] by their cowardly flatteries (especially if they any ways depend upon them for maintenance, rising, and preferment); rather than conscientiously to discharge that trust laid upon them by their great Lord and Master in heaven, upon answerableness for the blood of those souls which shall perish by their temporizing silence and flattering unfaithfulness. Healers of the hurt of their hearers with sweet words (Jer. vi, 14), while their souls are bleeding by the wounds of sin unto eternal death. Preachers of smooth things (Isa. xxx, 10); which kind of men, the greatest part, and all worldlings, wonderfully affect and applaud, though to their own everlasting undoing. They swell under such teachers with a pharisaical conceit that they are as safe for salvation as the precisest of them all. But, alas! their hope is but like a hollow wall, which being put to any stress when the tempest of God’s searching wrath begins to shake it, in the time of a final trial of its truth and soundness, it shatters into pieces and comes to nought. Hear the prophet: “Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever: that this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord: which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things; speak unto us smooth things; prophesy deceits: get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the. Holy One of Israel to cease from before us. Wherefore thus saith the Holy One of Israel, Because ye despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and stay thereon; therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instant. And he shall break it as the breaking of the potter’s vessel that is broken in pieces; he shall not spare: so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a sherd to take fire from the hearth, or to take water withal out of the pit” (Isa. xxx, 8-14). “Daubers with untempered mortar” (Ezek. xiii, 11), who erect in the conceits of those who are willing to be deluded by them (pharisees at the best) a rotten building of false hope, like a “mud-wall without straw, or mortar made only of sand without lime to bind it,” which in fair weather makes a fair show for a while; but when abundance of rain falls and winter comes, it moulders away and turns to mire in the streets. Their vain-confidence in prosperous times, before it come to the touchstone of the fiery trial by God’s searching truth, may seem current; but in the tempest of God’s wrath, when the stormy winter’s night of death ap-proacheth, or at furthest at the judgment-seat of the just [[106]] and highest God, it proves to be counterfeit; when at the last they shall cry “Lord, Lord,” like the foolish virgins, and those Nat. vii, instead of imaginary comfort they shall be crushed with horrible and everlasting confusion. Hear the prophet: “Say unto them which daub it with untempered mortar, that it shall fall: there shall be an overflowing shower, and ye, O great hail-stones, shall fall, and a stormy wind shall rend it. Lo, when the wall is fallen, shall it not be said unto you, Where is the daubing wherewith ye have daubed it? Therefore thus saith the Lord Cod, I will even rend it with a stormy wind in my fury; and there shall be an overflowing shower in mine anger, and great hail-stones in my fury to consume it. So will I break down the wall that ye have daubed with untempered mortar, and bring it down to the ground, so that the foundation thereof shall be discovered, and it shall fall, and ye shall be consumed in the midst thereof: and ye shall know that I am the Lord. Thus will I accomplish my wrath upon the wall, and upon them that have daubed it with untempered mortar, and will say unto you, The wall is no more, neither they that daubed it; to wit, the prophets of Israel, which prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and which see visions of peace for her, and there is no peace, saith the Lord God” (Ezek. xiii, 11-16). Such as “with lies make the heart of the righteous sad, whom God hath not made sad; and strengthen the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life” (Ezek. xiii. 22); these fellows hold, and would persuade mere civil men, that their estate is sound enough to God-ward, whatsoever the purer and preciser brethren prate to the contrary; and yet the Holy Ghost tells us, that “without holiness no man shall see the Lord” (Heb. xii, 14:.—’that formal professors are very forward men; whereas Jesus Christ professeth that he will “spew the lukewarm out of his mouth:”—Nay, and if there be talk even of a good fellow, especially of some more commendable natural parts and plausible carriage; if he be so but moderately, if 1 may so speak, and not every day drunk; Well, well, will they say, we have all our faults, and that is his. But as concerning the faithful servant of Cod. they are wont to entertain the same thought of him which Ahab did of Elijah, that “he was a troubler of Israel i” which one of the captains had of the prophet sent to anoint Jehu, that he was a mad fellow; which the false prophets had of Micaiah, that he was a fellow of a singular and odd humour by himself, and guided by a private spirit of his own; which Tertullus had of Paul, that he was a pestilent fellow; [[107]] which the Pharisees bad of Christ’s followers, that they were a contemptible and cursed generation, a company of base, rude, illiterate underlings. Nay, sometimes when the mad fit is upon them, they will not stick to charge God’s people in some proportion most wickedly and falsely, as the ancient heathens did the primitive Christians—with conventicles and meetings of hateful impurities, faction, disaffection to Cesar, and many other horrible things whereas, poor souls, they were most innocent, and infinitely abhorred all such villanies; and they met in the morning, even before day, not to do, God knows, any such ill, but for the service of God (even their most ingenious adversaries being witnesses), to sing praises to Christ. God, to confirm their discipline, forbidding all manner of sin, &c.;—with all the miscarriages, miseries, and calamities that fell upon the state, as though they were the causes. Whereas those few neglected ones which truly serve God are the only men in all places where they live to make up the hedge, and to stand in the gap against the threatened inundations of God’s dreadful wrath; and all the opposites to their holy profession are the real enemies of kingdoms, able by their dissoluteness and disgracing godliness to dissolve the sinews of the strongest state upon earth. Look upon Amos iv, 1, 2, and there you shall find who they are which cause God to enter a controversy with the inhabitants of a land.

Hear how Austin describes some of these self-seeking and soul-murdering daubers in his days: “Far be it from us,” saith he, “that we should say unto you, live as you list, do not trouble yourselves, God will cast away none, only hold the Christian faith. He will not destroy that which he hath redeemed, he will not destroy those for whom he bath shed his blood; and if you please to recreate yourselves at plays, you may go; what hurt is there in it? And you may go to those feasts which are kept in all towns by jovial companions, making themselves merry, as they suppose, at these public meetings, but indeed rather making themselves most miserable; I say you may go and be jovial, God’s mercy is great and may pardon all. Crown yourselves with roses before they.wither. You may fill yourselves with good cheer and wine amongst your good-fellow companions; for the creature is given unto us for that purpose, that we may enjoy it.—If we say these things, peradventure we shall have greater multitudes applaud and adhere unto our doctrine. And if there be some, which think, that speaking these things we are not well advised, we offend but a few, and those precise ones; but we win [[108]] thereby a world of people. But if we shall thus do, speaking not the words of God, not the words of Christ, but our own; we shall be pastors feeding ourselves, not our flock[1].”.

The author of the imperfect commentary in Chrysostom, sorted by somebody into homilies upon Matthew, seems to intimate, that the cause of the overflowing and rankness of iniquity is the baseness of these self-preaching men-pleasers. “Take this fault from the clergy,” saith be, “to wit, that they be not men-pleasers, and all sins are easily cut down;” but if they blunt the edge of the sword of the Spirit with daubing, flattery, temporizing; or strike with it in a scabbard garishly and gaudily embroidered with variety of human learning, tricks of wit, friar-like conceits, &c., it cannot possibly cut to any purpose; it kills the soul, but not the sin. They are the only men, howsoever worldly wisdom rave, and unsanctified learning be beside itself, to beat down sin, batter the bulwarks of the devil, and build up the kingdom of Christ, who, setting aside all private ends and bye-respects, all vain-glorious, covetous, and ambitious aims; all serving the times, projects for preferment, hope of rising, fear of the face of man, &c. address themselves with faithfulness and zeal to the work of the Lord, seeking sincerely to glorify him in converting men’s souls “by the foolishness of that preaching,” which God bath sanctified “to save them that believe,” in a word, who labour to imitate their Lord and Master Jesus Christ and his blessed apostles in teaching “as men having authority;” in “demonstration of the Spirit and power, and not as the scribes.” By embroidered scabbard, I mean the very same which King James not long before his death did most truly out of his deep and excellent wisdom conceive to be the bane of this kingdom; to wit, “a light, affected, and unprofitable kind of preaching, which hath been of late years taken up in court, university, city, and country.” Hear something more largely what reason led his royal judgment to this resolution, and desire of reformation:—

“His Majesty being much troubled and grieved at the heart to hear every day of so many defections from our religion, both to popery and Anabaptism, or other points of separation, in some parts of this kingdom; and considering with much admiration what might be the cause thereof, especially in the reign of such a king, who doth so constantly profess himself an open adversary to the superstition of the one, and madness of the other; his princely wisdom could fall upon no one greater probability, than the [[109]] lightness, affectedness, and unprofitableness of that kind of preaching, which hath been of late years too much taken up in court, university, city, and country. The usual scope of very many preachers is noted to be a soaring up in points of divinity, too deep for the capacity of the people; or a mustering up of much reading, or a displaying of their own wits, &c. Now the people bred up with this kind of teaching, and never instructed in the catechism and fundamental grounds of religion, are for all this airy nourishment no better than ubrasa tabula’, mere table books, ready to be filled up, either with the manuals and catechisms of the popish priests, or the papers and pamphlets of Anabaptists[2],” &c.

In another place he resembles with admirable fitness the unprofitable pump and painting of such self-seeking discourses, patched together, and stuffed with a vain-glorious variety or human allegations, “to the red and blue flowers that pester the corn, when it stands in the field; where they are more noisome to the growing crop than beautiful to the beholding eye”—they are King James’s own words[3]; whereupon a little after he tells the Cardinal, that “ it was no decorum to enter the stage with a Pericles in his mouth, but with the sacred name of God. Nor should his lordship,” saith his Majesty, “have marshalled the passage of a royal prophet and poet, after the example of a heathen orator.” These things being so, how pestilent is the art of spiritual daubing! What miserable men are men-pleasers, who being appointed to help men’s souls out of hell, carry them headlong and hoodwinked by their unfaithfulness and flatteries towards everlasting miseries? Oh, how much better were it, and comfortable for every man that enters upon and undertakes that most weighty and dreadful charge of the ministry, a burthen, as some of the ancients elegantly amplify it, able to make the shoulders of the most mighty angel in heaven to shrink under it, to tread in the steps of blessed Paul, by using “no flattering words, nor a cloak of covetousness, nor seeking glory of men; but preaching in season and out of season; not as the scribes, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power; keeping nothing hack that is profitable, declaring unto their hearers all the counsel of God;” holding the spiritual children which God hath given them, their “glory, joy, and crown of rejoicing; still watching for the souls of their flock, as they that must give [[110]] account” (Heb. xiii, 17); the terror of which place, Chrysostom professeth, made his heart to tremble; —I say, by such holy and heavenly behaviour as this, in their ministry, to be able at least to say with him in sincerity, not without unspeakable comfort; “I take you to record this day that I am pure from the blood of all men !” (Acts xx, 26.) Let us be moved to this course and frighted from the contrary by consideration of the different effects and consequences of plain dealing and daubing, in respect of comfort or confusion. Faithfulness this way, —

1. Begets those which belong unto God to grace and new obedience. See Peter’s piercing sermon, Acts ii, 14-36.

2. Recovers those Christians which are fallen, by remorse and repentance, to their former forwardness and first love. See Nathan’s downright dealing with David, 2 Sam. xii, 7-13.

3. Makes those which will not be reformed inexcusable. See Paul’s Sermon to Felix, Acts xxiv, 25. How strangely will this man be confounded, and more than utterly without all excuse, when he shall meet Paul at that great day before the highest Judge!

4. It is very pleasing and profitable to upright-hearted men, and all such as happily hold on in a constant and comfortable course of Christianity. “Do not my words do good to him that walketh uprightly?” (Micah ii, 7.) It makes them still more humble, zealous, watchful, heavenly-minded, &c.

5. Hardens the rebellious and contumacious. See Isa. vi. In which faithful ministers are also “unto God a sweet savour of Christ” (2 Cor. ii, 15).

6. And the man of God himself shall hereafter blessedly “shine as the brightness of the firmament, and as the stars for ever and ever;” and all those happy ones which he path pulled out of hell by his downright dealing, shall reign and rejoice with hint in unknown and unspeakable bliss through all eternity.

But now on the other side, the effects of daubing and men-pleasing are most accursed and pestilent in many respects.

1. In respect of God’s word and messages: First, not dividing it and dispensing them aright. Secondly, dishonouring the majesty and weakening the power of them many times with the unprofitable mixture of human allegations, ostentations of wit, fine friar-like conceits, &c. Even as we may see at harvest time a land of „mid corn quite choked up with red, blue, and yellow flowers, as Kim, James (loth excellently allude in the forecited place. Thirdly, [[111]] fearful profaning them by misapplication against God’s will, “making the heart of the righteous sad, whom God would not have made sad: and strengthening the hands of the wicked, that he should not return from his wicked way, by promising him life” (Ezek. xiii, 22). Fourthly, villanous perverting and abusing them to their own advantage, applause, rising, revenge, and such other private ends.

2. In respect of the flattering and unfaithful ministers themselves. First, extreme vileness (Isa. ix, 15). Secondly, guiltiness of spiritual bloodshed (Ezek. iii, 18). Thirdly, liableness to the fierce wrath of God in the day of visitation (Jer. xiv, 15; 1 Kings xxii, 25).

3. In respect of their hearers, who delight in their lies, in their smooth and silken sermons; sudden, horrible, and unavoidable confusion (Isa. xxx, 13, 14).

4. Burning both together in hell for ever without timely and true repentance, cursing there each other continually. and crying with mutual hideous yellings, “O thou destroyer of our souls, hadst thou been faithful in thy ministry, we had escaped these eternal flames! — “O miserable man that I am! Woe is me that ever I was minister; for now, besides the horror due unto the guiltiness of mine own undone soul, I have drawn upon me by my unfaithful dealing the cry of the blood of all those souls who have perished under my ministry, to the everlasting enraging of my already intolerable torment.”

Give me leave to conclude this point with that pathetical and zealous passage of reverend and learned Greenhill against negligent pastors, amongst whom I may justly rank and reckon all daubers and men leasers; for self-preachers are for the most part seldom-preachers. Hear his words:— “Were there any love of God from their hearts in those, who, instead of feeding to salvation, starve many thousands to destruction; I dare say, and say it boldly, that for all the promotions under heaven they would not offer that injury to one soul, that now they offer to many hundred souls. But, Lord, how do they think to give up their reckoning to thee, who in most strict account wilt take the answer of every soul committed unto them one by one! Or with what concern do they often hear that vehement speech of our Saviour Christ, Feed, feed, feed! With what eyes do they so often read that piercing speech of the apostle, Feed the flock committed unto you! But if none of these will move them, then the Lord open their eyes to hear the grievous groans of many souls lying under the grisly altars of destruction, and complaining against them; O Lord, the revenger of blood, behold these men whom thou hast set [[112]] over us to give us the bread of life, but they have not given It us. Our tongues and the tongues of our children have stuck to the roof of our mouths for calling and crying, and they would not take pity on us. We have given them the tenths which thou appointedst us, but they have not given us thy truth which thou hast commanded them. Reward them, O Lord, as they have rewarded us. Let the bread between their teeth turn to rottenness in the bowels. Let them be clothed with shame and confusion of face as with a garment. Let their wealth, as the dung from the earth, be swept away by their executors; and upon their gold and silver, which they have falsely treasured up, let continually be written, The price of blood, the price of blood; for it is the value of our blood, O Lord. If thou didst hear the blood of Abel, being but one man, forget not the blood of many, when thou goest into judgment[4].’”

[1] Lib. de Pastoribus, tom. ix.

[2] King James. The reasons of the King’s directions far Preaching and Preachers, as I received them from the band of a public register.

[3] In the Preface to his Remonstrance against an Oration of Cardinal Perron.

[4] Godly Observations, concerning divers Arguments and Common Places in Religion, chap. xiii.