Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.—Rom. 8.33

[A Sermon on 1 Timothy 3:1-4, by John Calvin.]
¶ A   S E R M O N   O F   M A I S-
ter. Iohn Caluine, vpon the first Epistle of
Paul, to Timothie, published for the benefite and
edifying of the Churche of God.

Translated out of French
into English,by

Imprinted for G. Bishop
and T. Woodcoke
1 5 7 9.

¶ The 22. Sermon vpon the second Chapter.
  1. A sure saying: If any man desire the office of a Bishop, he desireth an excellent worke.
  2. Therefore a Byshop must be unreprouable, the husband of one wife onely, watchfull, wise, modest, a willing receiuer of straungers, apt to teach,
  3. Not giuen to wine, no striker, not couetous of unhonest gaine, but gentle, no quareller, not couetous.
  4. A good ouerseer of his owne familie, hauing his children subiect with all reuerence.
WE have not only to entreat in this place of the virtues which Paul requireth in them which are to be made shepherds [pastors] in the Church of GOD, but also to mark to what end he driveth. For all of us have to receive a common doctrine and lesson out of this that is contained in these words. True it is that Paul directeth his talk to them that have the charge to choose Shepherds, but yet they that are chosen, and are called to this office, have to consider that GOD layeth the bridle in their necks as it were, and sheweth them upon what condition he calleth them to his service.

Moreover, all the faithful in general, not one excepted, are to think on their behalf, that when God requireth holiness of life, and good example in them which must preach the word, it is to this end and purpose, that the other should follow them: and that the doctrine should have so much the more authority, and [we should] be as it were smitten dead, when we see that he that speaketh, mocketh not, but goeth on in it, in the fear of God, and hath that imprinted in his heart which he speaketh with his mouth. Therefore let us mark well that Paul’s meaning is not only to sing them a lesson which must be ministers of the word of God, and must also be chosen, {261:B} but also to put all the faithful in mind to frame themselves to this rule which he setteth down in this place. As in deed God doth not command the ministers of the word only to be sober, to be modest, & to be watchful in their vocation: this is common to all Christians: but as I have touched already, because the flock which is gathered together must hear the word of God at a man’s mouth, he that speaketh must shew indeed that he speaketh from the heart, and he beareth such a reverence to the word which he preacheth, that he will be the first that shall frame his life to it: and will shew that he doth not make a law only for others, but that he is as well subject as they: and therefore he will begin. This it is, I say, we have to note upon this text. And the harder a thing we see it is to draw us to God, the more earnestly must we think upon it. For although this doctrine be preached unto us, & we have our duty plainly set down before our eyes, & there be no stumbling blocks to make us chop out of the way, notwithstanding we cannot yet come nigh to God. And therefore we have need to mark well all the helps that he giveth us, to supply our want and weakness withal. Nay there is a worse thing than all this, we see a great sort, that seek for nothing else but a vain cloak and to no purpose: when their life is wicked & shameful, so that [as long as] they {262:A} can be able to say their ministers are as bad as they, they have enough: they are honest enough they think. For what is the cause nowadays that we find so many wicked and wretchless Shepherds, that are not answerable to their calling? The people will have them such [Jeremiah 5.31], they are glad to have some liberty, Not that it doth them any good, for their condemnation that are content to be so flattered shall rather be doubled. But what? yet it is a common fault, as I have said. And therefore we must mark that which Paul saith here, so much the more, to the end that every one of us endeavour as much as he can, that the Church of God may be well built up by their honesty which preach the Gospel, and that we do not suffer them when they be of an evil conversation, and are but as stumbling blocks, such must be cast out and there must no such filth lie groveling in the Church of GOD nor in his house, for nothing must glister there but holiness, the seat which GOD hath set up must not be defiled by their wicked life that abuse themselves in this place. This is the mark we must shoot at. And if we see that matters go otherwise than is requisite they should, know we that it is a figure of God’s wrath. And therefore we have to mark from whence the mischief proceedeth, to wit {262:B} that many men do not only seek to nourish vices, but also bathe themselves in them: to the end that it may serve them so much for an excuse, and their sins may not appear as otherwise they would. And again because that they which behave themselves faithfully in the service of God have more liberty, they seek for nothing else but to shut up their mouths [stop their preaching], and if there be any one amongst them that hath fallen into any fault, then they clap their hands at him, and flatter him, to make him go on as he hath begun, & if he be borne withal, he remaineth so much the more bound. Now when we know that this mischief is settled in us, let us not think it strange that our Lord doth not raise up nor send men, that may be as it were looking-glasses of all perfection for us. Therefore let us take heart of grace (as I said) every man for his own part. And let the ministers of the word know for their part, seeing God hath shewed what manner of servants he will have in this office, that they that go not about to frame their lives to this rule, shall sustain in the end, an horrible condemnation. And let all the faithful when they see, that the doctrine is confirmed by their good life which teach them, be stirred up so much the more, as we see also how the Apostle speaketh in the Epistle to the Hebrews, where he bringeth the faithful which had good Shepherds to this point, that {263:A} they should behold their conversation, to the end that they might be the better resolved to follow the doctrine which they heard at their mouths. For our walking in the fear of God is as it were a sealing up of our preaching, and that men may perceive that we speak not only for others, but chiefly for ourselves. And when the ministers shall have thus continued to the end, & their conversation hath been good & commendable, their doctrine is made more authenticall. Let us learn therefore to make our profit of it, when God giveth us thus much more advantage, and know we, that they that are not confirmed by the good life of their ministers, shall receive so much the greater condemnation, and shall be less able to excuse themselves before God.

If we see stumbling-blocks, and the ministers of the word of God be not such as they ought to be, when we know once (as I said before) that it is a token of God’s wrath, let us think, that the fault shall be laid to our charges also: and therefore let us endeavour to remedy it. Yea how soever the world goeth, let us not think that we are quit when we can say thus, "oh sir, they that should govern us, are no better than we are." For if the blind lead the blind both shall fall into the ditch, saith our Lord Jesus Christ. [Matt. 15.14.] Therefore if they that are appointed to preach the word of God, be of an evil conversation {263:B} & lead a life of offence, let us not follow them; neither let us make less account of, and less reverence the doctrine of God: for neither is it reason that we should therefore contemn it, for his authority doth not hang upon the life of men. What are men? Can they cause the doctrine of God to alter and change, and not keep its own nature? If it lose its authority for them, in what case were we? But contrariwise let us learn to submit ourselves wholly to God, although we see stumbling blocks, let us notwithstanding still go on forward and keep on our way, and know we that the word of God shall remain safe and sound forever. Notwithstanding if we do not confirm ourselves by their example which teach us, & shew us the way to fear God, we shall be less able to excuse ourselves, because our means was the greater, and our help more ready to cause us to walk as we ought to do. Now let us come to that which Paul entreateth of, touching the virtues which he requireth in all shepherds. He saith: They must be temperate, & sober, & modest, or have their lives shining, that is to say, be of honest life. We said before that these virtues are not only for the ministers of the word, but because their life is more looked upon, and they have also to speak as it were in God’s name & in his authority, they must needs be a spur to stir us forward when we see how they behave themselves.

And therefore there is good cause {264:A} that the ministers of the word should pass all others in virtue & godliness. And indeed, they that shall come & preach of honesty, of chastity, of modesty, and in the meanwhile be wicked & intemperate themselves, & know not what modesty meaneth, do they not with open mouth mock both God & the world? True it is (as I said before,) that though the ministers be not such as they ought to be, yet must God notwithstanding be exalted, and the doctrine that proceedeth from him, must be received without any byturnings. Yet such a mocker and scorner must not be borne withal, when he cometh to exhort other men to be modest, & sober, & temperate, & with his life draweth clean contrary. And therefore let us mark well that it is not without cause, that Paul requireth all this in the minister of the word of God: but it is to this end and purpose, that we should know, which way they should lead us, and have it well imprinted in our minds. Why doth Paul speak of the ministers’ lives? For he will shew us to what end God hath appointed Shepherds to have the office of preaching his word. It is to shew us the way, & what mark we must shoot at. Therefore when God commandeth the ministers, to behave themselves wisely, and modestly, & honestly, & soberly, it is as much as if he had said, let all things be well ordered in my Church, & see that they to whom {264:B} I have given the charge to lead, and govern others, go before, & see that the flock do follow them: be ye all sober, be ye all modest, be ye all honest. By this we may perceive that better which I touched even now, to wit, that God doth not here direct his talk to them only which are in the Pulpit to teach, but he sheweth how he will have his church governed. And especially and above all Paul requireth that the ministers be apt to teach: & this virtue belongeth to them only. For, for this cause also they are chosen. It is not given to all men to preach, & to handle the doctrine of God. Although a man be a believer, although his life be very holy, yet he hath not this virtue in him to be able to handle the word of God in such sort as it may well be received. And therefore doctrine is not in all: and if there were doctrine in them, yet must he be fit: for Paul saith not here that a man must be learned, that is not enough, but he saith, that he must be apt to teach: that is to say, that he be so fashioned, that he is framed thereto. So that there may be some that are learned, and yet have not this grace in them, to be able to apply the doctrine to make others profit thereby, so that they may be edified. And therefore we see that Paul hath set down a mark in this place, which is proper & peculiar to the preaching of the Gospel, in that he saith, that they must be apt to teach. {265:A}

But before we go any further, we see how impudent the Popish Clergy is, to allege their Hierarchy, as they call it. For they boast themselves, to shew, that we are Schismatics, and cut off from the Church of God, that they have the holy chiefity, the order that Jesus Christ established, which must continue unto the world’s end. And wherein standeth this holy chiefty, as they term it? It beginneth by the Bishops, and so must it: but let us see what manner of Gentlemen the Popish Bishops are. They think it is an impairing to their office, if they go up into a pulpit: it is enough for a Bishop to come into the Church with his rotchet and a ring, and with all the rest of that trumpery: and then that upon high days he be in his Pontificalibus, having his horns upon his head to frighten little children withal: True it is that they will make a shew, as though they were troubled with these great mysteries, as with making of cream, and such like filth, as for this part, it must be reserved to the prelates. Yet for all this, if they will be such Bishops as God alloweth of, and maintain this Hierarchy as they term it, that is to say the order and policy of the Church, they must be apt to teach. Let a man examine all the popish Bishops, what learning shall a man find in them? They know as much what holy writ meaneth, as a sort of calves do. {265:B} And yet must they have leave to other things than to teach, to wit, to hawk and hunt, to play at dice, to keep whores and such like. And therefore we see it is a mere mockery, and too much past shame, for them to brag that they have an order of a Church, and a government: because that all that they have, is clean against that which is appointed by the spirit of God. And this is not only to condemn them, but to the end that we on our part, when they allege their Hierarchy, and pretend so honourable titles, that with open mouth they brag that they are the church of GOD, [we] should mock at them for their false and vain bragging. For if the Church of God were among the Papists, what should become of us? For we do not hope for forgiveness of sins, but only in the Church, and we have no hope of salvation, but in the forgiveness of sins: & then should we be condemned. And therefore we must know and be out of all doubt, that the Pope hath but a devilish Synagogue, and that all his Clergy is but filth & stench, all these varlets that have cast aside the Church of God, are but vermin. Although the Pope, who is Antichrist, be set in God’s sanctuary, (as we have seen before [2 Thes. 2.4],) yet notwithstanding, he is not worthy to be taken and accounted for a minister of the Church, nor all his mates. And therefore we must be resolved in this point, {266:A} that we may be at defiance with all their brags, and know, that being joined to Jesus Christ our head, and knit together in true agreement of faith according to the Gospel, and the truth that is contained therein, we may brag before God and his Angels, that we are his flock, that he taketh and accounteth us for his children & household, yea insomuch that he dwelleth and sitteth in the midst of us by his Gospel. And this is the first point we have to note: for this is indeed a sure ground for us to stay ourselves upon, that God abideth with us, and chooseth us to be his temples. But that it is so, that the ministers of the word of God must be apt to teach, Paul sheweth his meaning better in the Epistle to Titus, where he saith, That a shepherd must hold and embrace the doctrine which is according to faith, and must have this treasure shut up in his conscience, to the end that he may exhort with preeminence such as are weak, & bring them that wander into the right way: & moreover that they may stop their mouths which resist the truth. This is it which is required in them, whom God alloweth for Bishops & Shepherds, for elders and ministers of the word, to wit, that they have the doctrine which is according to faith. And Paul sheweth hereby that all profane learning must be laid aside, and men must not bring what they devise in their own brains, they must not set a-broach {266:B} their own subtleties, to advance themselves. No, no. But the doctrine must be pure & according to faith, that is to say, that he that will teach in God’s church, must be a scholar, and be brought up in his school, who is the high master above us all: his doctrine there must be according to faith. And this is one rule. Moreover, he that is called must have this grace. And therefore Paul addeth, That he may exhort them which willingly submit themselves, and be obedient to God without any further ado, & may also resist all gainsayers, and all enemies of the truth, which go about nothing else but to darken the pure doctrine. And seeing it is so, that Paul hath here set down a mark to know true Shepherds by, from such as are bastards and counterfeits: let us bear away that which I said already, how that we are assured, that we have the Church of God, when his word is preached, and is delivered purely, when errours are laid aside & condemned amongst us, and the purity of the Gospel hath his course: this is a mark that cannot deceive us, thus doth God take us to be his flock. Let men condemn us as much as they will, let the Papists set up themselves with all pride they have, & brag that they have all the Hierarchy, all this is but dung. And how so? For seeing they have not this mark of God, there is nothing but falseness amongst them. For {267:A} our part we may say, seeing the word of God is preached to us purely, that we have the doctrine which is according to faith: and when we detest errours, and superstitions, and all things that are against the word of God, it is as much as if God had set his seal upon us, and had imprinted in us the mark to be of the household of his Church. Truth it is, that this will avail hypocrites nothing at all, nor such as contemn God, as there are a great number mixed among the faithful where the word of God is preached: some give themselves over at six and seven, others walk dissemblingly, other shew openly that they despise God, and be as swine, it availeth them nothing at all, that they followed them which heard the word of God, but it shall be a far greater condemnation for them. And yet notwithstanding, wheresoever the word of God is purely taught, and men follow the line of holy writ, and do not disguise nor mar the pure doctrine, we may well conclude that there is the Church of God. For men are no sufficient Judges of this: God keepeth this authority to himself, to shew which is his Church: which thing he doth by this which is here shewed us by Paul’s mouth. And this is a sentence that cannot be called back again. And it is a singular comfort to us, so oft as we are assembled, to wit, seeing the word of God is faithfully delivered to us, that {267:B} we know that God is in the midst of us, and there sitteth as ruler, that we have the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, and be knit together to him, as members to their head. Therefore when we are sure of this, have we not, I pray you, good occasion to rejoice. And therefore let us mark that God doth us an inestimable pleasure, when his word is thus delivered us, and we have men that can execute such an office, which have knowledge and the means also to edify us: for it is as much as if God shewed himself to us in visible shape, we have no less assurance that we are joined to him, & that he governeth us, than if he should shew himself to us face to face. As Paul also saith, [1 Cor. 13.12; 2 Cor. 3.18], that we behold him in this looking-glass of the Gospel, that we may be changed into his glory. And moreover we have a good advantage, for we may be at defiance with all them that depart from the pure doctrine of the Gospel: for it is as much, as if they banished themselves out of the Church of God. The Papists will brag enough (as I said before) but they have cut off themselves from the body of Jesus Christ, so that they stand now as rotten members, they have nothing to do with the Lord Jesus, because they have marred and falsified his mark, which is his word, & have given themselves to lies, idolatries, & superstitions which reign amongst them. And for our part let us mark, that if a man have not {268:A} these two points which we have touched, to wit, that he be exercised in holy writ, and be grounded in the doctrine of faith, so that he be able to teach other, & stop the mouths of the enemies, he is not meet [fit] for this office, to preach the word of God. And indeed, what is it, if a man have only a little taste, and be not sure of his staff, as the proverb is? He shall be in doubt at every turning of an hand, and we know, that there are none so bold as these blind bayards [unmannerly beholders]. One that hath not much learning, will put forth himself, and will seem to know all: ask him as many questions as you will, his mouth will be straight ways open, and he will speak at all adventures. Thus fareth it with them that have not much learning. On the contrary side, they that are well exercised, and have more knowledge, they keep themselves back, and are more fearful. Why so? They know how hard a thing it is, to speak in God’s name: and again, because they have felt matters to the deep, they know the matter standeth not in lightly flying up into the air, and in answering to this or that, but we must come to the pith of it, & not tarry in the bark. And therefore if a man have but only tasted (as it were passing by) what holy writ is, & have but as it were dipped the top of his finger in it, and licked, what is it but folly, and what can he else do, but at every turning of an hand, {268:B} profane the word of God? And therefore it is not enough for us to say this or that upon a matter, but we must handle it truly, to the end that they which hear our doctrine, may be out of doubt, and say, see this is an article of faith. And therefore it is not without cause, that Paul requireth in a man, that he be apt to teach. And again, this is not all, that we edify them which submit themselves quietly, & suffer themselves to be led, but we must know how to stop the enemies’ mouths, which lift up themselves against the truth of God, and drive away all lies which might mar the pure doctrine: and this also may be shewed by a similitude of the Shepherd. We are called Shepherds. He that hath a flock of sheep committed to him, it is not enough for him to lead the flock, but he must have an other voice to cry out against the Wolves and thieves. If a shepherd do but only give a whist with his mouth to gather his sheep together, and when the Wolf cometh, is afraid, and standeth as a dumb man, so that the thieves may set upon the flock, and steal, and cut the throats of them, and in the mean while, the shepherd holds his peace, what a thing were this? Even so, if we have a good grace to teach and shew the virtue of God, to them that seek to be well governed, and have no might to beat down false doctrines, to stop {269:A} Hereticks’ mouths, to drive away ravening Wolves, to cry against them which infect the flock with their corruptions, against them that live a slanderous & naughty life, (for they are as thieves, that come to destroy the flock,) if we cannot cry against them, we do but half our duty. Therefore we must have two voices, one sweet voice, to exhort them that shew themselves easy to be taught, and to lead them in the right way: an other, to cry out against Wolves and thieves, to hunt them away from the flock, & to maintain the pure doctrine of God, which is the food of life, to the end it be not taken from them, for whom God hath appointed it. And this is it we have to note upon this text, where Paul willeth and appointeth, that Bishops and Shepherds be apt to teach. And here we have to mark, that every one of us is put in mind of his duty, which is, to receive the doctrine when it is preached unto us. Why is it said that the ministers must be apt to teach? to the end that we should all of us receive instruction, one as well as an other, and be not as it were starved for hunger. For seeing the word of God is a food and substance wherewith our souls must be nourished, all must be put in mind to hear the doctrine when it is preached to us. For it is not Paul’s meaning here in this place, that we should colour the matter {269:B} and make a shew only, & clap our hands at him in sportingwise, and say, Oh excellently well spoken! Oh marvelous knowledge! Oh fine wit! There is no such dealing must be used: but he that preacheth must begin at himself, & so endeavour to draw the whole flock, to the obedience of God, to have them walk in fear and humbleness, and watchfully. And therewithal, let all of them know that God hath established such an order for their sakes. When a man goeth up into the pulpit is it to be seen afar off, and only to have an higher place than the rest? No, no: but to the end that God may speak unto us by the mouth of man, and be so gracious to us, to shew himself here amongst us, and will have a mortal man to be his messenger: and will hereby also prove the obedience of our faith. And therefore seeing the case standeth so, let us mark when it is said that the ministers must be apt to teach, that it is to this end, that every one of us settle himself to hear, and that we should be as it were ravished and astonished, and say thus with ourselves, Doth God indeed vouchsafe to be our teacher in the person of a mortal man? Then it booteth us not to have our ears deaf when our Lord sheweth himself so familiarly unto us: but know we that it is his will, that we should go to school to profit there, & be wholly resolved of his truth, that we may have this assurance, {270:A} that we follow the rule of the word of God, that it is from him that we hold our faith, that we be not carried this way or that way according to man’s pleasure, but are grounded, and wholly rest ourselves upon the truth, which is sent us from heaven, which is infallible. We see then that it was not Paul’s mind to exhort them only which must choose the teachers, and appoint them, but also to put us in mind every one of our duty, that we might all be GODS good scholars, seeing he is so gracious unto us to be our teacher, & debaseth himself so far as to speak familiarly unto us, to the end that we may be instructed of his good will. And let us mark moreover, that we must make our profit of this doctrine which he layeth before us, two ways. First of all that we wander not in our ignorance, but know, whereon we have to stay ourselves: that we be not as fools amazed which say, Oh, I have not lived so long in the world, but I know well enough how to order myself: And how know they? According to their foolish brain: if they take a thing to be good, they will needs have God to account of it so in like sort. Let us beware of such pride: and know that this is the way to govern ourselves by, to follow the word of GOD only, to employ all our senses to that that is contained in holy writ, & to give ear to God without any gainsaying or replying, and to {270:B} submit ourselves wholly to his obedience.

This is the first fruit that we have to reap of the word of God, when we are well and duly taught, and not to walk at adventures, as the Papists which have their foolish devotions and say, I do this upon a good intent, and yet have no certainty in all their doing. But God will not have us to do so, but will have us know, that he alloweth of that which we do, because it is agreeable to his word. And this must give us a greater courage to serve God more earnestly, when we doubt not of that that we do, whether it be good or no, but God assureth us that he liketh well of our service. And why so? Because we do not after our own fancy, nor live as we lust ourselves, but as God hath appointed and commanded by his word. And this is one rule. Again we must profit in the word of God to the end that we may be assured of our faith, and be not shaken as reeds with all winds, but have the word of God for our armour, as Paul speaketh, saying that it is a shame if they which have been instructed in the Gospel, be easily carried away, and turned this way and that way. [Eph. 5.6; 4.14; 2 Tim. 4.3,4.]

And we shew also that we have been evil scholars, when we are so ready and light to receive heresies and errours which are set a-broach and taught. [2 Tim. 3.6,7.] Let us learn therefore, when we come {271:A} to hear the word of God, that it is not only to know what is good, but it is to be armed and defended against all inconveniences, to the end that we be not carried away and deceived by false doctrines, when the devil raiseth up firebrands to come and bring us out of frame, but that we may put him off, & drive him back. Truth it is that this is allotted properly unto the Shepherds, (as we have said already) but yet notwithstanding, every one of us must be watchful, and both great and small must have this steadfastness in their faith, that they be not shaken at the first blow with errours that shall be set a-broach unto them. To be short, let Satan lay his nets, let him lay his baits to seek to destroy our faith, yet must we have wherewith to resist those his tentations: and if we feel such a weakness in us, that we are easy to be shaken, let us pray to God to strengthen us, and that this may serve to increase a greater desire in us, to be diligent and to take better heed every one to himself than we did before. And then, as God giveth us the means to resist Satan, and the enemies of his truth, when he layeth his word before us, let us take heed we swerve not from it the least jot that may be, but be instructed and confirmed thereby more and more. For it is not without cause, that the word of God is called our spiritual sword. {271:B}

Therefore we have a good sword, when we have the word of God. It is not without a cause that hope is called an helmet, & faith a breastplate and buckler, & that we are well appointed, when we have all this [Eph. 6.10-20]: for God will not deceive us, but sheweth us that his word shall serve us to such use as he giveth us to understand by the titles, if we know how to use it aright as we ought. And thus much touching the proper mark which Paul hath set down for the ministers of the word of God. He addeth further, That they must receive strangers. For we cannot dispatch the rest now, therefore we will touch but this word and make an end. It is not without cause, that Paul requireth this expressly in all ministers, to wit, that they must be courteous to receive strangers. And surely if we consider the time he lived in, it was very necessary. For it was then as it is now, the poor children of God were banished, and as poor birds, whose nests had been taken, they know not whither to go: if they were not received, then were they in danger to be spoiled, which were enough to put them clean out of heart. Therefore Paul exhorteth the ministers of the word of God not without cause to have this courtesy to receive strangers willingly, and to give them gentle and courteous entertainment.

True it is, that this virtue must be common to all the faithful, {272:A} for if there were no more but the order of nature, it teacheth us sufficiently to be courteous towards them that are destitute of help, which are naked, so that if they should not be holpen [helped], it were great pity: nature teacheth us this. But there is a special consideration in the children of God. It is said that we are strangers in this world, if we will that God will accept us for his heirs. [Heb. 11.13; 1 Pet. 2.11.] We must confess first of all, and be resolved in this point, that we are strangers in this world. For he that nestleth himself here beneath, and knoweth not himself to be a stranger upon the earth, he must needs be banished from the kingdom of heaven, as the Apostle sheweth in the Epistle to the Hebrews. Therefore God holdeth us nowadays no otherwise for his children, but that we should pass through the world as strangers and travelers as he speaketh. And therefore all the children of God, having this consideration must be gentle towards strangers, and especially, when they see the faithful persecuted, and are driven even from place to place, they must be so much the more touched. For surely they have iron & brazen hearts, and are more cruel than wild beasts, if they be not moved with compassion when they see the children of God so tossed from post to pillar for the doctrine of their salvation. Therefore this virtue is common to all: but Paul will have the ministers {272:B} of the word shew the way, and give such an example, that others also may be moved & stirred up to receive strangers. Thus we see what Paul’s meaning is. Now to make our profit of this text, let us mark in few words, that they which are called to this office to preach the word of God, must know themselves in such sort to be public persons, that they be not appointed for themselves, but to communicate as much as they can with them that have need to be exhorted, & comforted, & counseled, & warned, & to have some help. This must be done first of all. And then as for the flock, all the flock every one for his part must know also that they must employ themselves for their neighbours, yea for them that are strangers to them. For why [are they] strangers in this world? To the end that for our part we shall be like to them, and should have no certain dwelling place, to say, that we will remain always in one place, but be ready to be moved this way and that way, according to GOD’s good pleasure. And this is it we have to put in practice out of this place, especially when the necessity of time doth so require it. For it is a new spur, as we have said. As nowadays when we see the rage of the Infidels & enemies of the Gospel thus set on fire, should not we on our parts, be moved with pity and compassion {273:A} at the least on them which are driven out of their countries, and tossed up and down, should we not, I say, help them as much as we can? And if we do it not, shall we not shew that we are worthy to be taken for none of God’s, and to be put out of the role of his children? For (as we said before) they that know not themselves to be strangers, do they not banish themselves out of the kingdom of heaven? And especially they that cry out against strangers, yea and use it as a word of reproach, they cannot shew more plainly that they are not more worthy to be numbered among the children of God, nor to be received in his Church more than dogs and swine, & that they are excommunicate and castaways, although man do not condemn them: we need no more but the witness of their own mouths, when they take this as a word of a reproach, that he is a stranger, and hath forsaken his country to serve God, or was driven out by tyranny and cruelty of the wicked: such an one shall be his own Judge, it is as much as if he protested that he hath no part in the kingdom of heaven, that he is not of the Church, that he is not of the number of the faithful, that he is an excommunicate person, that he is a castaway, that he is a child of the devil, that he hath cut off himself from the company of the Christians, to be short, he is not worthy {273:B} to have part in this name of faith. And this is it we have to mark. True it is that the strangers also are to be warned for their part, seeing that God commendeth them, that they abuse not that name, and that privilege. For if a man have gotten a privilege of a Prince, and doth abuse it, so that under the colour of that benefit and honour the Prince hath done him, he commit any wicked act, shall he not be doubly punished? Yes no doubt. Well then let them whom God hath commended take heed, that seeing he hath such a care over them, they be circumspect, and use that his goodness so, that he may be honored. And this is well worthy to be noted, and nowadays especially. For we shall see a great number that will say, they are driven out of their country for the word of God, and yet notwithstanding shew by their doings, that this name is falsely given them. I speak not yet of these deceivers which use such lies, but there are a great sort which indeed have been banished by tyrants and enemies of the religion. Are they come to the Church of God? How do they behave themselves there? It were better that they had persecuted the faithful, than to have suffered reproach or trouble for the word of God, seeing they come hither to defile & pollute the Church with their wicked and dissolute life: it were better if they had been plunged {274:A} in the greatest darkness of Papistry, than to come hither, to cause all the world to speak evil of us. There are, I say, a great many such: and I would to God examples were not so common as they are: but we see these unthrifts and naughty packs which lead a wicked life, and despise the word of God, that give occasion to the Infidels to have their mouths open to blaspheme the pure doctrine. And yet come they hither? "It is for the word of God." Nay it is for theft, for murder, and other wicked dealings. But all is well enough, so that [so long as] they have this goodly title of the word of God: light heads, unthrifts, men for their deeds worthy to be hanged, Oh every thing is covered with this cloak: and thus is God’s name profaned. And therefore must they that will make such a protestation, take heed they abuse not the benefit God doth them. And this is one rule.

And yet let not them to whom the holy Ghost speaketh, be driven from well doing. Truth it is that the wickedness of these times constraineth us to use great wisdom in this case: if we should believe them that say, I am come for the word of God, what a thing were it? What a mockery were it? In what case were we? For we see jolly companions that come every day hither to beard us [defy us (as one grabbing a man by the beard)]. But howsoever the world go, let us not be turned aside from doing well to them that are worthy, and let us {274:B} not be as they are which swerve straight out of the way, when they see any stumbling block. See there is such an one that made profession to be a Christian, and he hath done such a thing, he hath given an evil example. If we should stand to that, what case were we in. And therefore (as I said) although there be a great sort of knaves that deserve to be cast out, yet must we not therefore reject them which are indeed God’s strangers, and are driven out of their houses: let us lend them our hands to help them, as we would be holpen ourselves, and let us receive them, seeing that GOD of his infinite goodness promiseth us to gather us altogether at length into his heavenly kingdom.

Nowe let vs fall downe before the face of our good GOD, ac-
knowledging our faultes, and praying him that he would giue
vs suche a feeling of th?, that we may desire nothing in all
our miseries, but to flie to him: and that our liues may be
wholy agreable to his will. And if there be as yet faultes
and weakenesse in vs, as it can not be, but there is much
to be blamed in vs, that it would please him to beare
with vs, vntil he haue taken away all the faults
of our fleshe, wherevnto we are at this
present subiect.

And thus let vs all say,

Almightie God our heauenly father, &c.