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“a comfort for the living, than help for the dead'.” For sure it is comfortable to all good folk to see our friend in his life-time to have behaved himself so honestly, that his neighbours bear him so good will after his death, that they will see him buried; and it strengtheneth our faith of the resurrection, when the bodies are not cast away, as beasts' bodies be. And although this general doctrine of comeliness be most true and comfortable, yet many times the case falleth out so, that many a good man cannot enjoy this kind of burial. In persecution many good martyrs have been devoured of wild beasts; many torn in pieces, and hanged on gibbets; many burned, and their ashes cast into the water: yet these good men were nothing the worse for wanting their grave. For the kingdom of God standeth not in outward things, but in true faith in God by Christ. For as it profiteth not an evil man any thing at all to be solemnly buried; so it hurteth not a good man to want it in these cases, if he cannot get it. Every one shall receive then, as he hath done in his life; and not after his death, nor his costly burial. We read of the rich glutton, that he “was buried,” and no doubt costly, as all his life was gorgeous; but poor Lazarus gat little cost at his death, that could find so little mercy in his life: yet was the glutton “in hell” for all his pomp, and poor Lazarus “in Abraham's bosom” in joy. But among all other foolishness in popery, I cannot but marvel at this, that in their great solemn singing for the dead they would not use, but forbid Alleluia to be sung. If the Romish church be the true church, and all well that they command, why should the late synagogue of Rome deface that which the best bishops of Rome allowed of: Jerom writeth in his thirtieth Epistle, called Epitaphium Fabiola, that at the burial of that noble woman “the people of Rome were gathered to the solemn funeral; and there the psalms did sound aloud, and Alleluia, rebounding with his echo on high, did shake the gilded ceilings of the temple. On one side a company of young men, on another side were old [" Proinde omnia ista, id est, curatio funeris, conditio sepulturae,
2 Cor. v.
Jer. Ep. 30.
pompa exsequiarum, magis sunt vivorum solatia quam subsidia mortuorum. De Civ. Dei, Lib. 1. cap. xii. ED.]
men which sang forth the praises and deeds of that good woman. And no marvel,” said he, “if men rejoice of her salvation, of whose conversion the angels in heaven were glad.” The like is written in the twenty-seventh Epistle ad Eustochium for her mother Paula. In this I note the old church of Rome, that at such solemn funerals they sang Alleluia on high, as the papists do now on Easter day. Then they praised God for the dead, for so Alleluia signifieth; and now they pray God for the dead to get money withal. Then they rejoiced of their salvation; and now they weep for fear of the pope's purgatory. “Blessed are they that die in the Lord,” saith St John. Why, then they go not from pains here to misery there. Why should the new Romish synagogue mislike that good ancient order? The one of them must needs err; which manythink cannot be, and specially in this our age. There be other controversies in these our days abroad, which might have been very well left untouched, if the quietness of God's church had been dutifully sought, as it ought to be: as, “whether the ministers should bury the dead, as the common order appointeth; and whether burial sermons are to be suffered and used, &c.” This place giveth no great occasion to entreat of such matters, and therefore I shall let them pass. I love not contention, but do earnestly require every one in his calling for God's cause to seek peace with all their might; and those that profess Jesus Christ, I desire the Lord that they would join with their brethren in pulling down the Romish antichrist, the common enemy of all God's doctrine and religion, leaving such unprofitable contentions which breed division. And if they have too many burial sermons in the city, God grant us some more in the country Thus much have I spoken by occasion of Nehemiah's mourning for “the place of his fathers' burial:” not for the loss of the houses, city or walls; or that he was troubled with such superstitious opinions of thinking any holiness in the place, or that the dead folk were any thing worse in wanting their covering in the earth; but that he was grieved to see the city, which God chose himself to be worshipped in, and those good men, whose bones did rest there, or had faithfully served the Lord in their life, now to be given to heathen men's hands, God's religion neglected, the state of 21 [Pilkington.]
1 Sam, i.
the commonwealth and good laws overthrown, God's enemies to triumph over them, as though their God could not or would not restore them. This should grieve all Christians in all ages, when they see the glory of the living God any ways blemished. God grant us this zeal unfeignedly! 4. And the king said. After that the king understood the cause of his sorrow and sad countenance, he both pitied the case and his man's heavy heart; and God so moved the king to favour his suit, that he asked him “what he would have?” When Nehemiah perceived the king's good inclination towards him and his suit, afore he would declare his petition, he turned him unto the God of heaven, and prayed him that he would so guide his tongue, that he should speak nothing which might justly offend the king, and also that he would so move the king's heart that his request might be granted. A worthy example for all Christians to follow in their suits making to the prince. He goeth not to any great man, nor to any other which was in favour with the king, to desire him to speak for him, to commend his cause, to persuade the king to grant his request; which he might lawfully have done. Also, he offereth no rewards nor like pleasure to any man; but turneth him to the God of heaven, as the chiefest governor of all goodness, which setteth up rulers, and putteth down kings, and is King of kings, and prayeth him to prosper his suit. He prayeth to no idols nor saints, though he lived among that idolatrous nation; for he knew they could not help him; but faithfully called on the living God, which his good fathers had worshipped of old time. This prayer was not so much in speaking or kneeling, but a lifting up of his mind towards God, and desiring him to further his suit. Anna made like prayer, when she poured out her sorrow before the Lord, moving her lips, but speaking never a word; in so much that the high priest thought she had been drunken. For it falleth out oft, that in great sorrow a man cannot let a tear fall, the heart being oppressed with grief, and yet he at another time will weep tenderly: so in prayer ofttimes, the more earnestly that a man prayeth, the less he can speak, his heart being so earnestly given to call on the Lord. As when Moses was in great heaviness, and prayed for the children
of Israel, being in that great distress, God said unto him, “Why criest thou unto me?” and yet there is not one word Exod. xiv. written, that he cried or said. It is the praying and crying of the heart, that God is so much delighted withal; and yet never the worse, if it burst out into words, and shew itself. Let no man then excuse himself, and say he cannot pray, except he were in the church or in his chamber alone; for in all places he may lift up his mind to God, though he were in the market or mountain; and with hearty prayer, though he speak not at all, desire the Lord to hear him, as Nehemiah doeth here in the presence of the king and many others. And no doubt, if he pray in faith and for such things as further the glory of God, the Lord will hear him. Let us learn here to begin all our doings with prayer unto the Lord, and we shall speed so much the better. 5. And I said. When Nehemiah had made his short prayer in so earnest a faith, and perceived the king's good will towards him, then with all humbleness, not appointing the king what he should do, but referring all to his consideration and wisdom, desireth him, that if he thought it good, if Nehemiah himself were thought a fit man for the purpose, or his service had been acceptable to the king, that it would “please him to send him to Jewry,” to the city where he was born, and his elders lay buried, that he might “build it up again.” No marvel that Nehemiah was afraid, and prayed earnestly for good success in his suit: for he knew well that the Jews were counted a rebellious people, and hated of all countries about them; and the king might think him to make his suit for building of Jerusalem, that they might settle and strengthen themselves against him and other kings, and claim their old liberties that they had afore. But God so moved the king's heart, that he had no suspicion of any such enterprise by Nehemiah, his faithful and trusty servant. With such modesty princes would be dealt withal, and not roughly nor unreverently: for so Nehemiah doth here most dutifully. If many men had their choice at the king's hand now a days, to ask what they would, as Nehemiah might have done here, would they not have asked castles, lands, offices, and authority for them and their issue, that
they might have been great men in the world; and not the building of a city, which would have been a trouble and cost unto them rather than any profit, and when they had finished it, it had not been their own, but other should have enjoyed it, and they little the better for it? But such is the zeal of them that love the Lord, that they will seek to build and not to pull down, as many do, and will prefer all things that may further the glory of God, though it be with their own loss, rather than seek their own profit with the hinderance of it. Terentius, a nobleman, captain under the emperor Valens, when he had been in wars and sped well, the emperor, liking well of his good service, bade him advise himself what he would make suit for, and he would reward him liberally. Terentius, being a zealous man in religion, and perceiving the great heresy of the Arians to be much favoured, (and the emperor himself being thought to be infected therewith,) could not abide such blasphemy against Jesus Christ our Saviour, put this supplication in writing, and with most humble reverence and earnest desire required the emperor to grant him his request, and he would think his service fully recompensed. The effect of his supplication was, “that it would please the emperor to grant the true Christians a church to serve and worship the Lord Jesus in separately from the Arians, which dishonoured him; for it was not fit among the Christians to hear such blasphemy against the Lord Christ, as they spued out.” The emperor, reading his supplication, and considering the effect of it, was very angry, pulled it in pieces, and threw it away, chid with Terentius, that he could devise nothing to ask but that. Terentius gathered up the pieces of paper courteously, and said, “if he could not be heard in God's cause, he would not make further suit for his own profit'.”
O noble captain! where is thy fellow? Who hath done the like, but Nehemiah here, Ester, and some few other? God increase the number of such religious men about princes! and then they will not gape so fast as they do, to pluck
[* 'O &é rms irectas avaMéčas ra priyuata, "Eče£duny, pn, & 8aataev, kal oxo to topov, kal &repov oux altmorto’ orkotrow yap operns d row &Aww kpitris. P. 334. Ed. Paris. 1544.—Nicephorus merely repeats Theodoret. Ed.]