But now, as then, there are certaine false fires, abhominable to God, odious to men, dangerous to the Nadabs
that meddle with them, bringing thereby coales upon their owne heads, & ill favor upon all their services; & not onely so, but that which is worse, an ill report and surmize even on those that offer the right fire, & serve the Lord in spirit and truth: yet for their sakes is the name of zeale blasphemed all the day long.
Against these, as then, so now severe caveats and cleere distinctions must bee laid, lest such as have not their senses exercised to put a difference, mistake poysonfull weedes for wholesome hearbes, to their owne destruction; and for the sake of the one, revile the other to the wrong of God and his Saints.
It fares not otherwise with the soule then with the body: besides the native & radicall heat, the principall instrument of life, there are aguish and distempered heats, the causes of sicknesse and death.
To discerne of those, requires some skill and judgement: yet a good Empirick, a Christian of experience will give a shrewd ghesse at them, the easier & the better if he marke these following signes and symptomes, common to all the kinds of false zeale, here also following.
[Sidenote: 1 Ostentation.]
First, they are deeply sicke of the pharisaicall humor, they love to be seene of men, and say with Jehu, Come and see how zealous I am for the Lord of hosts: they proclaime their almes with a trumpet, paint their good deedes upon Church windowes, engrave their legacies upon tombes, have their acts upon record: Thus, Comets blaze more then fixed Starres. Aguish heats breede flushings, & are more seen in the face, then natural warmth at the heart. Schollers count hiding of Art the best Art: the godly man studies by all meanes how to conceale the one hand from the other, in doing well; hiding of zeale is the best zeale.
Secondly, of Ahabs disease exceeding in externall humiliation, affected gestures, passionate sighes, lowdnesse of voyce, odde attires & such like: These know how to rend the garment, hang the head with the bulrush, to whip and launce their skinnes with Baals Priests; and yet strangers to a wounded spirit: not but that true and hearty zeale doth lift up the eyes, knocke the breast, dance before the Arke. Therefore this character may deceive the unwarie; Let Ely take heede of judging Hanna's Spirit rashly by the mooving of her lips: yet hypocrites so usually straine nature and without a cause exceed, and that in publique, and upon the stage, that for the most part, their actions and affections are palpable: as Jesuites, Cappuchins, &c. yea in many histrionicall Protestants: Horse-coursers jades will bound, curvet and shew more tricks, then a horse well mettled for the rode or cart.
[Sidenote: 3 Complementall.]
Thirdly, you may know them by their diligence and curiositie in lighter matters joyned with omission and neglect of greater, wise in circumstance, and carelesse in substance, tithing mint, straining at gnats, &c. In all cheape and easie duties, prodigall: niggardly & slothfull in the waighty things of the Law: these have at command good words, countenance, yea teares from their eyes, sooner then a farthing from their purse, having this worlds goods, and see their brother want; these sticke up feathers for the carcasse, beguiling the simple, couzening the world, but cheefly themselves.
[Sidenote: 4 Pragmaticall.]
[Sidenote: 5 Censorious.]
[Sidenote: 6 Cruell.]
Fourthly, these fires cannot keepe themselves within their owne hearths, these spirits cannot keepe themselves within their owne circles. True zeale loves to keepe home, studieth to bee quiet in other mens Dioces: false zeale loves to be gadding, is eagle-ey'd abroad and mole-ey'd at home: Insteed of burning bright and shining cleere; like brinish lights, they sparkle & spet at others, or like ill couched fire-workes let fly on all sides: onely out of their wisdome they know how to spare Agag and the great ones, and bee sure they anger not their great Masters, and meddle with their matches: whereas it is the property of fire that comes from above, to spare the yeelding sheath, and melt the resisting mettall, to passe by the lower roofes, and strike the towred pinacle, as Nathan, David; Elias, Ahab; John, Herod; Jonas, Ninivie; &c. Note also in all their proceeding with others, in steede of wholesome severity (which rightly zealous men never come unto but by compulsion, and not without compassion of the offender, weeping with Moses and Samuel over the people, beeing sory with the Emperour, that they know how to write sentences of condemnation) These delight in cruelty, the brand of the Malignant Church; feede their eyes with Massacres, as the Queene-mother. No diet so pleasing to these ravening wolves, as the warme blood of the sheepe. These are they that cry fire and fagot, away with them, not worthy to live, their very mercies are cruelty: especially in their owne cause, they heat the fornace seaven times hotter then in Gods.
[Sidenote: 7 Variable and inconstant.]
Lastly, these Meteors and Vapours have no constant light, or continued heat (as the fixed starres ever like themselves) but have onely their aguish fits, & lunatick moods; sometimes in adversity they are good under the rod, as Pharaoh, againe in prosperity like the fat kine of Bashan, ingratefull and forgetfull: sometimes in prosperity when the sunne of peace shineth on them, & the favourable influence of great ones, they shoot foorth their blade with the corne on the house top, running with the streame, & sayling with the winde; sometimes their zeale depends upon the life of Jehoiada; sometimes on the company of the Prophets: commonly in the beginning they blaze like straw-fire, but in the end goe out in smoake and smother; whereas in their entrance into profession, they galloped into shewes, and made some girds at hand, they tire, give in, and end in the flesh, whereas all naturall motions are swiftest toward their end.
[Sidenote: Be not over just hath 7. expositions heere 2. or 3. more hereafter.]
The vestall fires were perpetuall, and the fire of the Altar never went out. Spices and wefts of these evills may bee found in the sincerest Christians: but they suffer not these dead flies to lie and putrefie in the precious boxes of true zeale; of all these the Preachers caveat may be construed, Be not over just, though it may also admit other interpretations, as after shall appeare.
These are the speciall notes and symptomes of strange fires: the kinds also are many, and might be distributed into many heads; but I will reduce them into three, which are known by their names. [Greek: pseudozelos], counterfet Zeale, false fire. [Greek: tuphlos zelos] blinde Zeale, smoakie fire, or fooles fire, ignis fatuus. [Greek: pikros zelos], turbulent Zeale, wilde fire.
The first, wanting truth and sincerity, propounds sinister ends.
The second, knowledge and discretion, takes wrong wayes.
The third, love and humility, exceeds measure.
The first abounds amongst subtile & crafty professours, and is to be abhorred and detected.
The second among simple & devout, is to be pitied and directed.
The third amongst passionate and affectionate, and is to bee moderated and corrected.
The first is the meere vizor of zeale, looking asquint one way and tending another; pretending God and his glory, intending some private and sinister end; first, either of honour and promotion, as Jehu, who marched furiously, and his word was the Lord of hosts, but his project was the kingdome.
Secondly, at filthy lucre: as Demetrius and his followers, who cried great is Diana of Ephesus; but meant her little silver shrines. It cannot bee denied, but many such there were, who helped to pull downe the Abbyes; not out of any hatred to those uncleane cages, but to reare their owne houses out of the ruines, and spoyled copes to make cushions. Judas complained of superfluity, but greeved it fell besides his bag: many hold temporalities tithes and glebes, unlawfull, because they are loth to forgo them: If Jezebel proclaime a Fast, let Naboth looke to his vine-yard; If the Usurer & Trades-man frequent Sermons, let the buyer & borrower look to themselves. It is too common a thing to make zeale a lure & stale, to draw customers; a bait of fraud, a net to entrap; with malicious Doegs, to make it a stalking horse for revenge against the Priest, thereby to discharge their gall at Ministers and other Christians, for the omission and commission of such things, as themselves care not for; with the Strumpet in the Proverbs, to wipe their mouthes, and frequent the Sacrifices, that they may be free from suspicion.
All these evils, have I seene under the sunne-shine of the Gospell: but by how much, zeale is more glorious then common profession, by so much is dissembled fervency more detestable then usuall hypocrisie; yea, no better then divellish villany & double iniquity: such painted walles and whited sepulchers, the Lord will breake downe. Let all Timothies & Nathanaels learne to descry them, and discard them: The cure of this was deepely forelayd by Christ; I counsell thee to buy gold tried in the fire: all is not gold that glistereth, an image of faith breeds but a shew of zeale; many seemed to trust in Christ, but Christ would not trust them: but such faith as will abide the fire, brings foorth zeale that will abide the touch-stone.
[Sidenote: [Greek: kakozelia].]
The second is erroneous or blinde zeale, not according to knowledge, Rom.10. I beare many devout Papists witnesse (though I feare the learnedst of them be selfe-condemned) that they have this zeale, perswading themselves they doe God best service, when they please the Divell most in their will-worship. The same witnesse I beare many Seperatists; though I feare most of them be sicke of selfe-conceitednesse, newfanglenesse, and desire of mastership: for who would not suspect such zeale, which condemnes all reformed Churches, and refuseth communion with such as they themselves confesse to bee Christians, and consequentely such as have communion with Christ? It would greeve a man indeede, to see zeale misplaced, like mettle in a blinde horse; to see men take such paines, and yet fall into the pit. This made Paul to wish himselfe Anathema, for the sake of such; and yet the multitude and common people, reason thus; Is it possible but these men have the right? But alas, how should it bee otherwise, when a blinde company will follow a blinde sect-master; This being one property of blinde zeale, a fond admiration and apish imitation of some person, for some excellency they see in him, which so dazles their eyes, that they cannot discerne their errours and infirmities, which they oftner inherit then their vertues; as appeares in the Lutherans and the Jewes, that would sacrifice their children to Molech, in imitation of Abraham: In these the Divell becomes an Angell of light, and playeth that Dragon, Revel.12. powring out flouds of persecution against the Church, causing devout men and women, to raise tragedies, breath out threatnings, and persecute without measure; then these the Divell hath no better soldiers: but when their scales fall from their eyes, and they come into Gods tents; God hath none like unto them. The cure of this divinely is forelayd by Christ also, to buy eye-salve of him; Angells have eyes as well as wings to guide their flight: when the ship is under saile, and hath the freshest way; it hath most neede to looke to the sterage, keep the watch, have an eye to the Compasse and land-marks.
The third kinde is turbulent zeale, called by James bitter zeale, a kinde of wilde-fire transporting men beyond all bounds and compasse of moderation; proceeding sometime of a weaknesse of nature in men, that have no stay of their passion, like to Clockes whose springs are broken, and Cities whose walls are down. Zeale is a good servant, but an ill master: mettle is dangerous in a head-strong horse. And so the Poets (which were the Heathens Prophets) shadowed out the cure of this, in Minerva's golden bridle, wherewith she menaged her winged Pegasus. There is too much of this bitter zeale, of this Hierapicra in all our bookes of controversies: but especially there hath been too much in our domesticall warrs; some sonns of Bichri have blowen the trumpet of contention, trumpets of anger; the Churches of God should have no such custome: Oh that our Churches understood that saying.
In quarrells of this nature Paul spends his zeale, not in partaking but in parting the fray, beating downe the weapons on both sides: Who art thou that judgest? who art thou that condemnest thy brother? as if hee should say, The matters are not Tanti, wee have made the Divell too much sport already; who threw in these bones to set us together by the eares, whilst hee lets in the common Enemy upon us. Charitie, Charitie, is the builder of Churches: Strife about trifles, hath wasted many famous ones, and placed the temples of Mahomet, where the golden candle-sticke was wont to stand. Wee pitty the former ages, contending about leavened and unleavened bread, keeping of Easter, fasting on Sundayes, &c. The future ages, will do the like for us. Oh that the Lord would put into the hearts both of the governours & parties to these quarrells, once to make an end of these Midianitish warrs; that wee might joyntly powre out the vialls of our zeale upon the throne of the beast.
Thus have you heard the errors and counterfets of zeale, through whose sides, and upon the backe of which, divers of the malicious world use to beat those whom it hates, because their workes are better then their owne; injuriously concluding, that all Zelots are alike. Thus I have heard our Marchants complaine, that the set up blewes have made strangers loath the rich oaded blewes, onely in request; this is an olde sophisme. True judgement would teach us to conclude, that the best druggs have their adulterates; the most current coins their slipps; and that vertue which so many hypocrites put on, to grace themselves withall; is surely some rare and excellent jewell.