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following affecting appeal, which the reader will not fail to contrast with the cold formality of modern civil or ecclesiastical documents. "There is here set down, agreeable to the time, a godly Exhortation or Epistle, (as it may well be termed,) written unto you all here present, by such as are in authority, and do love you with an unfeigned love in Christ Jesus, who entreat you by the mercies of God, that you will be content and willing to hear what for your good, upon mature deliberation, they do write unto you: not as of themselves, but in the blessed name of the most glorious Trinity; to whom they cease not to commend you all in their daily prayers."
Then follows the Homily. It is long; it may be somewhat tedious; and portions of it might be well spared; yet notwithstanding all these defects, it contains so much that is truly valuable and Scriptural, so much that is highly important at the present moment, and even in its minor topics so much that is curious or interesting as connected with the state of the times, and the opinions entertained respecting the pestilence then raging, and the proposed remedies for it, that we have determined to reprint the whole document. It will be new to our readers both lay and clerical; and we shall not think a few pages mispent, in rescuing it from oblivion. Being issued by royal and ecclesiastical authority, it may be appealed to in proof of the opinions of the governors of our church at that period; and portions of its appeals and arguments might be usefully introduced into some of the discourses which are being preached at the present time in various parts of the kingdom, in relation to the expected pestilence.
An 'Exhortation fit for the Time.
In the due consideration of the mortality and plague wherewith God at this time hath grievously visited ns, two principal things are to be looked into: first, what may be the : of this infectious disease; then,
what cure or remedy may be provided, to remove, stay, or mitigate the spreading and the increase thereof. The philosopher and physician do allege such natural causes as these: the infection of the air, the corruption of the blood, and humours in the body of man; the contagion which the sound party may receive from persons or places already infected; and all these are true in their kind. But over and above these causes alleged, the grave and weighty authority of the word of God must inform us of another cause, a cause not natural, but supernatural; namely, the wrath of God, provoked and incensed by the sins of any nation or people, hath often brought in the pestilence, as the sword and scourge of God to destroy them, or chasten them for their sins. The people of Israel murmured against God in the wilderness, and not regarding his loving care and providence over them (who fed them miraculously with water out of the rock, and with manna from heaven), waxed wanton in their desires, and required flesh also for their lust; which, though they obtained, yet notwithstanding, while the meat was in their mouths, the plague of God fell upon them, and slew the wealthiest of them, and smote down the chosen men that were in Israel, as you may read. Again, the multitude of the people of Israel, taking part with those factious and seditious conspirators, Corah, Dathan, and Abiram, murmured against Moses and Aaron, and grudged against their authority of magistracy and priesthood wherein God himself had established them: wherefore a plague came upon them, and there died 14,700. Again, the same people of Israel committed whoredom with the daughters of Moab, which called them also to the sacrifice of their gods; wherefore the wrath of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and there died in that plague 24,000. Again, in the days of King David the wrath of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and Satan moved David to number Israel and Judah; and the Lord sent a pestilence, and there died of the people from Dan to Beersheba 70,000. The Apostle Saint Paul also signifieth, in his Epistle to the Corinthians, that for their profanation and abusing the holy sacrament of the Lord's Supper, many of them were sick and weak, and many died. Lastly, of all sin, the same Apostle saith, that for such things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. So that from these examples we see, that sin moveth the Lord to wrath, and the wrath of the Lord sendeth the plague, mortality, diseases, and wrath amongst men.
Which being so evident a truth, confirmed by so many examples out of the Holy Scriptures, it must be confessed and acknowledged that the same cause hath procured the same punishment with us: and that in these days, these evil days of ours, our transgressions in number more, and in degree more heinous, than those of Israel, have filled full the measure of iniquity and caused God to fill full the cup of his wrath, and given us this deadly wine to drink. The people of Israel required meat for their lust, and the people of England nourish their lust for their meat, giving over themselves to surfei ting and drunkenness, and, as those that make their belly their God and their glory their shame, are become a by-word unto neighbour nations foi gluttony and belly cheer. The people of Israel murmured and rebelled against Moses and Aaron, their leaders: and there have been also among us in England not only such as have despised government and spoken evil of those that are in authority, but such also as St. Paul prophesied of, that there should come in the latter days traitors, heady, high-minded, murmurers, malcontents; fault-finders, as St. Jude calleth them; such as have attempted reformation and alteration with no less disturbance to the church of God amongst us, no less danger and peril to the state and commonwealth,
and therefore, with as much offence assuredly in the sight of God, as was the contradiction of Corah and his accomplices. The people of Israel committed whoredom with the daughters of Moab; and there are many of the daughters of England like those daughters of Moab, and too many like unto that Zimri, a prince in Israel, whose fornications are notorious in the sight of the world, and who, with a strumpet's forehead and a face of brass, care not to conceal their abominations, and there wanteth greatly the zeal of Phinehas to punish them, and therefore no marvel if God himself stand forth to plague the land for them. Add unto these, that haply, with David, we have lifted up our hearts in the multitude ofour people, and magnified ourselves, that we are a mighty and populous nation, ascribing unto ourselves and our own strength, the honour and victory over our enemies which God with his own right arm hath gotten unto himself for his glory. Add, moreover, that swearing, outrageous oaths, and curse-speakings are to be heard out of the mouths of all estates, yea, even of very children in our streets, whereby the name of God is very grievously profaned. Add, also, that our trades and traffic is become the practice of deceit and theft, while we make our gain by lying, forswearing, false measure, false weights, and false lights, which are an abomination unto the Lord. And therefore no marvel if that flying book of the curse of God against the swearer and the thief have entered into our houses, and taken hold of the stone and timber thereof. Besides all these, the Lord's Sabbath is not kept holy, but polluted: the word of God and the ministry thereof is not reverenced, but despised; his holy sacraments are either neglected or abused; generally the name of God is evil spoken of among the adversaries of the truth through us and our dissolute and licentious conversation; and therefore the cause is apparent why the plague is broken in amongst us; God having threatened us in his word as the people Israel, that because we will not obey the voice of the Lord our God to do all his commandments and his ordinances which he commands us, he will smite us with a consumption, and with a fever, and with a burning ague, and shall cause the pestilence to cleave unto us until he have consumed us from the land.—Ant thus much of the cause of the pestilence. Now let us examine and see what hope of help, what cure or remedy, remaineth unto us in this visitation. The remedy is to be sorted out answerable to the cause of the disease; so that if God's anger against sin hath caused this mortality among us (as heretofore hath been shewed amongst other people), if we shall remove our sins out of the sight of God, his wrath shall cease, and with his wrath our punishment. For the applying of this sovereign balm unto our present sore, there is by public order prescribed that fasting and prayer, the true signs and tokens of our unfeigned repentance and conversion unto God, should be exercised in all congregations, especially in and about London; that all degrees and estates of people might thereby be admonished to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God, to acknowledge their sins, and, by their humiliation and detestation of their former wicked life, to testify unto the world that they desire nothing more then to be reconciled again to their good and gracious God, that he may cause his indignation to cease, and turn away this his fearful chastisement from amongst u?. And asfasting and prayer are means spiritual, appointed in the word of God and always practised in the church of God at such times as he afHicteth his people with any contagious diseases or plagues for sin; so are there also other natural and ordinary means not to be neglected, but to be received and used against the natural causes of this infection. For though it be true that all things are guided by God's providence, and that he doth what he
will do in heaven and in earth, yet he effecteth and bringeth his will to pass by order and by means that himself hath determined. The eyea of all things look up unto the Lord, and trusting in him he giveth them their meat in due season; but yet the Lord will have all men to labour and eat the labours of their hands for the maintenance of their life. It is the Lord that bringeth back again from the gates of death, and restoreth men that were sick to their former health, and yet hath he ordained the physician, and created many medicinable and comfortable things to procure and preserve the health of man, and hath commanded us to use them. Men must plant and water, though it be God only that giveth the increase. If the husbandmen should give over their tillage, and pretend that they meant to depend upon God's providence, looking either to be fed from heaven, or that the earth should of her own accord bring forth unto them grain and corn, and all necessary fruits for their relief, were it not in respect of themselves extreme madness, and towards God a most wicked temptation? It cannot be denied but that this grievous sickness which now reigneth amongst us, both is, and shall be, governed by God's providence, do men what they list: but yet such as truly fear God, and are truly instructed out of his word, will submit themselves unto his heavenly providence in such sort as he hath appointed them. When good king Hezekiah was sick of this disease of the plague, as divines do deliver, he prayed -and wept, and used those means meet to pacify the anger of God. And when God had determined that he should not dieof thatsickness, though he could no doubt have healed him without means, by his word only, yet he directeth his prophet to signify unto him the medicinable means of his help; namely, that he should apply a plaster of figs to his sore, to ripen and heal it. So that we see, first prayer to God,
and then the use of other necessary and profitable means must not be neglected. Now if any man should object, or say, This visitation cometh of God, and I know not whether to pray against it, he betrayeth greatly his ignorance in the Scriptures of God. For in every visitation of this or any other plague there mentioned, you shall find that the holy men of God still laboured by prayer and supplications unto God to remove the same from themselves and their people. Moses is said to have stood in the gap to turn away the wrath of God, and Aaron ran with his golden censer to stand between the living and the dead, and Phinehas, the priest, stood up and prayed, and the plague ceased. David, seeing the angel ready to destroy Jerusalem, built an altar, offered sacrifice, and brake forth into that his most ardent and earnest supplication for the people. Again, because in this great mortality of our3, we find by experience, that not so much any general corruption of the air, not any distemperature in the blood, or humours of men's bodies, have been the causes of the spreading and continuing of this infection, as the contagion that the \ disease itself hath bred, and which 4 rmc man receiveth from another, the sound from those tliat are sick: wherefore^ .also, men are to learn that one chief and ordinary mean of their preservation in this dangerous time is, avoiding of the contagion that cometh by mingling disorderly the sound and the sick together; and if there be any that, being yet sound, do think they are not bound in conscience to shun and avoid the persons and places that are infected, except it be in case of necessity; or if those that are diseased, or do keep in houses where the disease is known to be, shall think much that they are shut up, and restrained from coming abroad, or frequenting the common and public assemblies of those that are clear, having in the mean time such things as are necessary for their sustentation; they must be con
tent to hear out of the word of God their error therein and ignorance. The disease of the leprosy was infectious as is the pestilence; and whensoever any were smitten with that disease, it was not surely without the will or providence of God; and yet we may safely learn even of God himself, without any prejudice to his good providence, how we ought in that and other kind of infectious maladies to demean ourselves for the avoiding of the damage thereof. The leper (saith the Lord, in the xiiith chapter of Leviticus) in whom the plague is, shall have his clothes rent, and his head bare, and shall put a covering upon his lips, and shall cry, I am unclean, I am unclean. And as long as this disease shall be upon him, he shall dwell alone, without the camp shall his habitation be. The rending of his clothes here mentioned was a sign of his mourning and lamentation for that affliction; he dwelt alone for fear of infecting others; and if at any time he went abroad to take the air, his lips were covered that his breath might not infect such as came near him; and besides, he was to give warning, that all men might the more carefully avoid him by crying out unto them, I am unclean, I am unclean. Furthermore, it was ordered by the Lord, that the clothes that were infected should be burnt, the houses purged, and in some cases of more danger of infection, pulled down and utterly defaced. In which respect, there was a general commandment given to the people, that they should take heed of the plague of the leprosy. Al l these, and divers other rules and cautions prescribed by God himself, were chiefly grounded upon this, That the disease of the leprosy was infectious ; whereby we are to learn, that forasmuch as the disease of the plague is far more infectious, contagious, and dangerous, than that was of the leprosy; we should be so much the more careful to avoid it, and such as are infected more charitably minded and religiously bumbled under the band of God than, disobeying all authority, to thrust themselves into the company of others, whereby the mortality daily so increaseth. And if any man should think that the disease of the plague were not contagious and infectious, so gross a conceit is rather to be pitied than confuted, being contrary to the common and lamentable experience of these times, and - contrary to the judgment of all learned and wise men in all ages. If, therefore, we desire that Almighty God should withdraw his heavy hand from us, and deliver us from this affliction, it is not sufficient for us, by fasting and prayer, to humble ourselves unto his Divine Majesty, except we join therewith our best endeavours and diligence, by using such other means as God hath appointed for the staying of it.
Otherwise, if we despise all good means, if we neither regard to keep ourselves in a good state of our bodily health by the counsel of the learned physician, if we make a mock of all preservatives of art; if we neglect evil and infectious savours, and refuse the benefit of the purer air; if we run desperately and disorderly into all places, and amongst all persons, and pretend our faith and trust in God's providence, saying, If he will save me, he will save me; and if I die, I die; this is not faith in God, but a gross, ignorant, and fool-hardy presidence and presumption, little different from that subtle temptation of Satan to our Saviour Christ, to throw himself headlong from the top of the pinnacle, in hope that God would send his angels to hold him up, which were a wanton and dangerous tempting of God; or else, with St. Peter, to lead himself into temptation, and, by desiring to walk on the water, to bring his life into a needless and unnecessary hazard and peril, without any warrant of an ordinary calling, or any comfort of a good conscience therein.
Moreover, if men at any time will prepare themselves for death, then should they especially when they
Christ. Observ. No. 361.
are in the greatest danger, as they are who are already infected, or do without urgent cause resort unto them. Now, in preparing ourselves to leave this world, what one thing almost is more necessary than a charitable heart towards all men, which they cannot have by any possible means, who either, knowing themselves to be infected, keep company with such as are clear; or that, being whole, do enter without any necessity into places infected, and afterwards resort into companies, as if they were sure that neither they themselves nor their clothes were tainted. When King Azariah became a leper, because he knew the danger of his disease, and found by the law of God the restraint of those that were so diseased, though king, yet was he content to dwell in an house apart all the days of his life, and Jo than, his son, governed in his stead. This his obedience must needs condemn their disordered licentiousness, who, though the meanest among the people, yet being infected, think scorn to keep their houses, though but for a short time; and _break abroad they will, whatsoever come of it; no authority, orders, laws, ¥ or proclamations can restrain them'/' \ and others .there, are as ^ilfuf to'associate and mingle themselves with them. Wherein how oruel the one sort are against themselves in hazarding their own lives, and theirs that depend on them; how uncharitable the other sort are towards their brethren by deriving their infection into them, and how injurious both sorts are to the state and commonwealth wherein they live, by prolonging and spreading the danger, which otherwise by their better government might be sooner supprest, all wise men of sound judgment are very sorry either to see or hear it. Wherefore, considering all that hath been spoken tendeth to this end,— To shew that our sins have caused this fearful visitation to break forth against us; and that the remedy left unto us for our hope of help E