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is, that, having received amongst his allotted parcels, certain precious truths, of such an orient lustre as no diamond can equal, which nevertheless he has in charge to put off at any cheap rate, yea, for nothing, to them that will; the great merchants of this world, fearing that this course would soon discover and disgrace the false glitter of their deceitful wares, wherewith they abuse the people, like poor Indians, with beads and glasses, practise by all means how they may suppress the vending of such rarities, and at such a cheapness as would undo them, and turn their trash upon their hands.
"Therefore, by gratifying the corrupt desires of men in fleshly doctrines, they stir them up to persecute with hatred and contempt all those that seek to bear themselves uprightly in this their spiritual factory; which, they foreseeing, though they cannot but testify of truth and the excellency of that heavenly traffic which they bring, against what opposition or danger soever, yet needs it must sit heavily upon their spirits, that, being in God's prime intention, and their own, selected heralds of peace and dispensers of treasure inestimable, without price to them that have no peace; they find in the discharge of their commission, that they are made the greatest variance and offence, a very sword and fire, both in house and city, over the whole earth.
"This is that which the sad prophet Jeremiah laments:—' Wo is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me, a man of strife and contention!' And, although divine inspiration must certainly have been sweet to those ancient prophets, yet the irksomeness of that truth which they brought was so unpleasant unto them, that every where they call it a burden. Yea, that mysterious Book of Revelation which the great evangelist was bid to eat, as it had been some eye-brightening electuary of knowledge and foresight, though it were ' sweet in his mouth,' and in the learning, 'it was bitter in his belly,' bitter in the denouncing.
"Nor was this hid from the wise poet Sophocles, who, in that place of his tragedy where Tiresias is called to resolve king CEdipus in a matter which he knew would be grievous, brings him in bemoaning his lot, that he knew more than other men.
"For surely to every good and peaceable man, it must in nature needs be a hateful thing to be the displeaser and molester of thousands; much better would it like him doubtless to be the messenger of gladness and contentment, which is his chief intended business to all mankind, but that they resist and oppose their own happiness.
"But when God commands to take the trumpet, and blow a dolorous or jarring blast, it lies not in man's will what he shall say or what he shall conceal. If he shall think to be silent as Jeremiah did, because of the reproach and derision he met with daily, 'and all his familiar friends watched for his halting,' to be revenged on him for speaking the truth, he would be forced to confess as he confessed; 'his word was in my heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary with forbearing, and could not stay.' , "Which might teach these times not suddenly to condemn all things that are sharply spoken or vehemently written as proceeding out of stomach virulence and ill-nature; but to consider rather, that if the prelates have leave to say the worst that can be said, or do the worst that can be done, while they strive to keep to themselves, to their great pleasure and commodity, those things which they ought to render up, no man can be justly offended with him that shall endeavour to impart and bestow, without any gain to himself, those sharp and saving words, which would be a terror and a torment in him to keep back.
"For me, I have endeavoured to lay up as the best treasure and solace of a good old age, if God vouchsafe it me, the honest liberty of free speech from my youth, where I shall think it available in so dear a concernment as the church's good. For, if I be, whether by disposition, or what other cause, too inquisitive, or suspicious of myself and mine own doings, who can help it?
"But this I foresee, that should the church be brought under heavy oppression, and God have given me ability the while to reason against that man that should be the author of so foul a deed; or should she, by blessing from above on the industry and courage of faithful men, change this her distracted estate into better days, without the least furtherance or contribution of those few talents, which God at that present had lent me; I foresee what stories I should hear within myself, all my life after, of discourage and reproach. Timorous and ungrateful, the church of God is now again at the foot of her insulting enemies, and thou bewailest;—what matters it for thee, or thy bewailing? When time was, thou couldst not find a syllable of all that thou hast read or studied, to utter in her behalf: yet ease and leisure was given thee for thy retired thoughts, out of the sweat of other men. Thou hast the diligence, the parts, the language of a man, if a vain subject were to be adorned or beautified; but when the cause of God and his church was to be pleaded, for which purpose that tongue was given thee which thou hast, God listened if he could hear thy voice among his zealous servants, but thou wert dumb as a beast: from henceforward be that which thine own brutish silence hath made thee! "Or else I should have heard on the other ear,— Slothful, and ever to be set light by, the church hath now overcome her late distresses after the unwearied labours of many her true servants that stood up in her defence; thou also wouldst take upon thee to share amongst them of their joy: but wherefore thou? Where canst thou show any word or deed of thine, which might have hastened her peace? Whatever thou dost now talk, or write, or look, is the alms of other men's active prudence and zeal. Dare not now to say or do any thing better than thy former sloth and infamy; or, if thou darest, thou dost impudently to make a thrifty purchase of boldness to thyself, out of the painful merits of other men. What before was thy sin, is now thy duty, to be abject and worthless.
"These, and such-like lessons as these, I know would have been my matins duly, and my evensong: but now by this little diligence mark what a privilege I have gained with good men and saints, to claim my right of lamenting the tribulations of the church, if she should suffer, when others, that have ventured nothing for her sake, have not the honour to be admitted mourners: but, if she lift up her drooping head and prosper, among those that have something more than wished her welfare, I have my charter and freehold of rejoicing to me and my King.
"Concerning therefore this wayward subject against prelates, the touching wherefore is so distasteful and disquietous to a number of men; as by what hath been said I may deserve of charitable readers to be credited, that neither envy nor gall hath entered me upon this controversy, but the enforcement of conscience only, and a preventive fear lest this duty should be against me, when I would store up to myself the good provision of peaceful hours; so, lest it should be still imputed to me, as I have found it hath been, that some self-pleasing humours of vain-glory hath incited me to contest with men of high estimation, now while green years are upon my head; from this needless surmisal I shall hope to dissuade the intelligent and equal auditor, if I can but say successfully that which in this exigent behoves me;