ŇGive not that which is holy unto dogs: neither cast ye your pearls before swine: lest they tread them under their feet, and turning again all to rent you.Ó  Matthew 7:6.

 

Hitherto the evangelist hath set down the several heads of ChristŐs sermon more at large; but from this verse to the end of the chapter, He handleth briefly the points which follow. This verse dependeth not upon the former, but herein our Saviour Christ lays down a new point of instruction, directing His disciples, and in them all ministers, unto that Christian discretion which ought to be observed in the dispensation of the Word of God. And His direction is here propounded in a prohibition of giving holy things to dogs, or casting pearls before swine; which is enforced by a double reason: lest they tread them etc.

 

I.

Now for the better understanding hereof, first I will speak of the words, because they are hard and difficult; and then come to the doctrines.

 

In the words, four things are to be sought out: 1. What is meant by holy things. 2. What is meant by pearls. 3. What is meant by dogs. 4. What is meant by swine.

 

1. For the first, by that which is holy, we must understand, first and properly, the Word of God, written in the books of the Old and New Testaments, in his right and holy use; that is, read, dispensed and preached; and consequently, by holy things are meant the sacraments and Christian admonition. GodŐs Word is called an holy thing for sundry causes, but principally for these two: first, because it is holy in itself; and secondly, in effect and operation.

 

(1) It is holy in itself, because it is set apart by God, to be in the church instead of His own lively voice unto His people for the revealing and determining of all things to be believed and done in His church. In the Old Testament, God Himself spake by a lively voice unto the patriarchs, and after the giving of the law, He gave answer to the High Priest at the mercy seat; and yet we are not inferior to them, though we want that lively voice; for we have the written Word instead thereof, which is answerable every way thereunto; for look what the written Word saith, is as much as if the Lord from heaven should speak by a lively voice; and so consequently, it is to us instead of the ark of God, a pledge of His presence. And thus it is holy in itself.

 

(2) Secondly, GodŐs Word is holy in regard of operation; for it is the instrument of the Spirit, set apart by God Himself, to be the means whereby He sanctifies and reforms the hearts and lives of His children. And consequently, the sacraments are holy things, for they are the Word made visible; so likewise is Christian admonition grounded upon GodŐs Word.

 

From this doctrine, sundry duties are to be learned:

 

(1) First, we are oft commanded in GodŐs Word, to draw near to God, to seek Him, to fear Him, and to walk before Him in His presence. How shall we do these things, seeing God is invisible and in glory and majesty is in heaven? Surely we must consider the Word of God, to be instead of His own lively voice; and therefore we need not seek for Him that is invisible, but we must have recourse unto the Word, and labour to have it present with us in our hearts, in out lives and consciences. Enoch walked before God, not only in regard of His infinite majesty, which though it be invisible, is everywhere present; but principally in respect of His Word, setting that before him wheresoever he was. When we are commanded to fear God, we must know that that is done, not only when we stand in awe of His glorious majesty, but principally when we fear to offend God, commanding us in His Word. The apostle saith that the Holy Ghost dwells in our hearts; which must not be thought to be meant of that infinite substance of the Holy Spirit, but of the dwelling of the Word, which is made effectual by the Holy Spirit; for faith ever hath relation to the Word, and being believed, it dwells in the heart, and makes the spirit, which works by the same Word present also. In which regard Paul saith, Now I live not, but Christ lives in me (Gal. 2:20); which he expoundeth after, saying, I live now by faith in the Son of God; because the Word of Christ was present with him, and the grace of faith that lives by that Word.

 

(2) Secondly, seeing the Word of God is of that holiness, we must learn to use the same publickly or privately with all reverence, carefully sanctifying ourselves thereunto. When the people came to receive the law in Mount Sinai, they were sanctified three days before; and the same preparation for substance ought we to make before we hear the Word of God. First, we must wash our hands in innocence, and then compass the altar of the Lord (Psa. 26:6). The Word and sacraments are holy in themselves, but not so to us, out of their holy use; and therefore if we would reap profit to ourselves by them, we must prepare our hearts thereunto.

 

(3) Thirdly, whereas the Word is unto us the voice of God, and the means of sanctification; we may learn that in the congregation of GodŐs people ordinarily, the pure Word of God alone ought to be heard, without the mixture of the words of men, be they never so holy. For it is not said of the words of any man, that they are that holy thing. The Lord Himself alone had the appointment of the making of the holy oil, which was to anoint the kings and priests under the law. Neither man might add anything thereto, though it were never so pure and good, nor make any oil like unto it. So likewise the trumpets that served for the tabernacle to assemble the people, the Lord Himself alone had the appointment of them; and none might use any other, though it were made of most pure gold. Had the Lord this care over His sanctuary under the law, to take the appointment of these things to Himself alone? And shall we think that the trumpet of His holy Word, which now by His appointment soundeth in the congregation of the saints, may admit a mixture with the words of men, human or divine, be they never so holy? The ancient church was far from this mixture; and therefore forbade the public reading of the apocrypha, which yet are more excellent books than the writings of men, published since the apostles. But it is said that they only find fault with this kind of preaching, which cannot attain unto it. I answer, It is no point of the greatest learning to use the sayings of fathers and poets in preaching; and they which use it not, refrain therefrom, not because they cannot do it, but because they dare not mingle the sayings of men with the Word of God, which is that holy thing, serving instead of GodŐs own glorious voice, in all matters that concern our faith and obedience, and being the only sufficient instrument of our sanctification. And therefore it were to be wished that in the congregations of the saints, the pure Word of God might sound alone unto GodŐs people; that as they are begotten alone of this immortal seed, so they might be fed alone with this sincere milk.

 

 

2. What is meant by pearls? Answer: The wholesome doctrines and instructions of GodŐs Word, contained partly in commandments, and partly in sweet and heavenly promises. So (Matt. 13:46), the gospel preached is compared to a precious pearl. And further we are to note that these wholesome instructions are called your pearls (Christ speaking to His disciples and other hearers). Now they are so called in two respects: First in regard of the apostles and other ministers their successors; because they are the LordŐs stewards, to dispense the Word and the doctrine thereof to GodŐs people. Secondly, in regard of all true believers and servants of God, that have care to know and to obey the Word of God; for every believer hath a special right unto GodŐs Word above other men; to which purpose the Lord saith (Isa. 8:16), Bind up the testimony, seal up the law among my disciples; that is, commend and commit my Word unto my disciples; there giving a special right and interest unto them in the Word of salvation; for they have the true judgment and meaning thereof; they keep it in their hearts, and express the power of it in their lives; they have the use and benefit thereof in every estate in this world, and unto their eternal salvation in heaven.

 

From this, that the doctrines of GodŐs Word are our pearls:

 

(1) First, we are taught to place all our riches in the Word of God, for that is our jewel, and our principal treasure. Of this, Solomon saith, Her merchandise are better than merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof better than gold (Prov. 3:14). In the valuing of this pearl, DavidŐs practice is notable, who made the testimony of God his heritage, and the very joy of his heart (Psa. 119:111), and esteemed them above gold, yea above most fine gold (v. 127).

 

(2) Secondly, we must hereby learn to content ourselves in all casualties and calamities of this life, with this pearl of the Word of God; for though we lose friends, health, goods, or good name, yet this pearl of good doctrines and sweet promises is not lost; if that were taken away with the loss of outward commodities, then there were some cause of discomfort; but seeing this jewel remains with us in all estates, therefore herewith we must stay and comfort ourselves, as David did, counting GodŐs promises his comfort in trouble (Psa. 119:50), and his songs in his pilgrimage (v.54).

 

(3) Thirdly, this must teach us to use the doctrines and promises of GodŐs Word, as pearls. We must lock them up in our hearts, and have them in faithful keeping in our memories. A man that hath an earthly jewel that is of any worth, will be very careful to lock it up in the safest chest he hath. How much more care ought we to have of these true pearls of heavenly instructions? As the Holy Ghost speaks of deacons, they must be such as keep the mystery of faith in good conscience (1 Tim. 3:9). So must every one of us be careful keepers of this heavenly pearl. This was MaryŐs practice (Luke 2:51), she pondered the sayings of Christ in her heart. And David had the Word of God in his heart, that he might not sin against the Lord (Psa. 119:11).

 

(4) The doctrines and promises in GodŐs Word are the pearls of the apostles and ministers; therefore they above others in all ages and times, ought to have a special care by all good means to preserve the purity of doctrine in the church of God. This is PaulŐs charge to Timothy (1 Tim. 6:20), Keep that which is committed unto thee; that is, that wholesome doctrine which thou hast learned of me. And this merely concerneth ministers at this day, that as by the good means of others, they have received true doctrine, purified from the dregs of popery, so they should preserve and keep the same from all taint of corruption to their posterity.

 

 

3, 4. The third and fourth things to be considered are touching dogs and swine; where these three points are to be handled: (1) What are here properly meant by dogs and swine; (2) Who must give judgment of men to be dogs and swine; and (3) Where they are to be found.

 

(1) For the first, by dogs and swine, we must understand the enemies of GodŐs Word; yet not all enemies, for so every sinner should be a dog and a swine; but only such as are malicious obstinate enemies, manifestly convicted of their enmity to GodŐs Word and doctrine, of whose amendment there is no hope. And that these are here to be understood, appears by these reasons:

 

(i) From the text itself, which describeth them by this, that treading the word of instruction underfoot, they do turn again, and all to rend the teachers thereof; that is, they do persecute them both by word and deed, in all reproachful speeches and cruel actions.

 

(ii) In the Word of God we shall find that Christ and His apostles preached to dogs (for such are all men by nature); the Scribes and Pharisees, a generation of vipers, came to JohnŐs baptism unrepelled, though not unreproved (Matt. 3:6,7); and Christ Himself telleth the woman of Canaan that it was not lawful to give the childrenŐs bread to dogs, that is, to the Gentiles; and yet He sent His disciples to preach to all nations; and the woman herself, by reason of her faith, was received to mercy, and made partaker of the crumbs that fell from the childrenŐs table. Again, our Saviour Christ preached to the Scribes and Pharisees, even then when He wept over Jerusalem for their impenitency; yea, this is a truth, that because men are naturally dogs and swine, therefore they must have the Word of God preached unto them to purify and sanctify them, unless they be obstinate and unrepentant enemies to the Word, of whom is no hope of recovery.

 

(iii) These obstinate enemies here are called dogs and swine, by allusion to unclean beasts under the Law; of which sort were dogs and swine, which were prohibited the Jews to be eaten or offered in sacrifice to God. Christ therefore here by allusion to that ceremony means such persons as are excluded from the holy things of the Lord, and have no right or interest into the LordŐs Word or sacraments; such as both in heart and life be unclean hogs and dogs, and will not be purified.

 

(iv) Paul chargeth Titus (Tit. 3:10) that after once or twice admonition, he should reject an heretic, knowing that such an one is perverted and sinneth, being damned of his own self; that is, sinneth willfully and obstinately, and in so sinning condemneth himself in his own heart and conscience; and such are meant by dogs and swine in this place.

 

Now the difference of these two may be this: By dogs are meant obstinate enemies that maliciously revile the ministry of the Word, the doctrine of God, and the messengers thereof. Such a dog was Alexander the coppersmith (2 Tim. 4:14), and such were many of the Jews become soon after ChristŐs ascension, who reviled the apostle Paul and Barnabas, and blasphemed the doctrine which they taught (Acts 13:45). And of this sort are all convicted obstinate heretics. By swine are meant obstinate enemies that do condemn the Word of God, either because they will not admit reformation of life by it, such as Ahab and Herod were, or because they scorn and mock at the Word of God, as they do, of whom Peter speaks that mock at the promise of ChristŐs second coming (2 Pet. 3:4).

 

(2) The second point concerning these persons is, who give judgment of any man or any people to be dogs and swine. We must know that it is not in the power and liberty of any private man to give judgment of another that he is a dog or swine; but it is a public duty belonging to the ministers and governors of the church to give judgment in this case (Matt. 18:17). Before a man must be reputed as a publican and as an heathen, the censure of the church must pass upon his behaviour; and from the judgment of the church must private men hold others as publican and heathen. Indeed our Saviour Christ and His apostles gave this judgment of men particularly and peremptorily; as Paul of Alexander the coppersmith; but we must understand what authority and what Spirit Christ and His apostles had; which because we have not, we cannot give such judgment upon men. Further, here we are to know that judgement upon others is twofold: judgment of certainty, or judgment of human wisdom. The judgment of certainty, touching any manŐs state, belongs only to God, and to them to whom God revealeth the same. The judgment of human wisdom is when the church of God, in the fear of God, give judgment as truly and as nearly as they can, who is a dog and who is a swine. And this only is the judgment of the church, which also is conditional; and namely, till they repent; because they know not the times that God hath appointed for the conversion of sinners. And by this we are taught to compromise our judgment of any man, in regard of his final estate, though he be an unrepentant sinner, refusing instruction; for most heinous sinners have been converted.

 

(3) The third point, where these dogs and swine are to be found. It is not in the power of any ordinary minister, or other man, to determine of anyone that he is a dog or a swine; for in such do final impenitence and wilful obstinacy concur; which we are not able to say certainly are come upon any man or woman while they live among us; and yet this may be said with good conscience, that there is in many a fearful declination to the properties of dogs and swine, even in this age of ours; for many will hear the Word, receive the sacraments, and profess that they hope to be saved by Christ; and yet they will rail on His ministers, and speak against their ministry. Yea, the times are now, wherein many in open speech will not stick to revile and condemn those that have been the most excellent instruments of GodŐs mercy in His church. Among many, I will name one, Mr John Calvin, that worthy instrument of the gospel, is in the mouths of many students condemned as an erroneous person, teaching false and dangerous doctrine. Yea, many there be that come to the LordŐs table, and yet will not brook reformation of life; they will not be drawn from their drunkenness, ignorance, adultery and covetousness. A third sort there are, that take occasion from GodŐs Word, to live in their sins, and to maintain their wicked lives; as from the doctrine of GodŐs eternal predestination, because the Scripture teacheth that GodŐs decree therein is unchangeable; therefore some say they will live as they list. Others, because the Word saith we are to be saved by faith alone, therefore they refuse to walk in good works. And others look to be saved by GodŐs mercy alone, and therefore will not labour either for knowledge, or faith, as they ought to do. And some, hearing the doctrine of the denial of ourselves, do say, the Word of God is too strait a doctrine, barring men from laughter, and mirth, and other recreations; and therefore they will none of GodŐs Word. Now though we cannot call these men dogs, because we know not what they may be hereafter, yet we may truly say these be practices of dogs and swine.

 

And thus we see what is meant by holy things, by pearls, by dogs and swine; from whence the meaning of Christ may be plainly thus set down: Give not that which is holy, etc., that is, have regard how, and to whom ye dispense the Word and sacraments, and if any person be openly convicted of obstinate enmity to your doctrine, to such publish not my Word, be they dogs in railing, or swine in senseless contemning and scorning of the same.

 

 

The Uses.

1. Hence we may see what course is to be used of GodŐs ministers in the preaching and dispensing of His holy Word: They must first preach and publish the Word of God to all men without exception, grace must be offered to all, good and bad. Then must they observe what fruit and effect the Word hath with them, whether it work reformation of life in them, or not; and though as yet they see not that fruit thereof in them, yet they must not condemn them as dogs, but rather wait and pray for their conversion, to see if at any time God will give them repentance, according as St Paul chargeth Timothy (2 Tim. 2:25). Thirdly, having waited for their conversion, he must labour to convince their very conscience of the truth which they in heart and life deny; so as he may say with Paul, If our gospel be hid to them that perish (2 Cor. 4:3). But if after all this, they give evident signs of malicious and obstinate enmity against the Word, scorning and railing on the doctrine of God, and on the ministers thereof, then are they to be cast out by the church, and to be accounted as dogs, and to be barred from the Word of life till they repent. This was ChristŐs own practice towards the Jews. At the first He preached unto them the gospel of the kingdom by John Baptist, in His own person, and by His disciples; but when He saw some of them maliciously obstinate, then He propounded His doctrine unto them in parables, that they might be hardened in sin; and after, expounded the same privily to His disciples. The disciples likewise after the ascension of Christ, preached still unto the Jews, even when they were persecuted by them. But at length whenas they saw that of obstinate malice they oppugned the truth, putting it from them, and judging themselves unworthy of eternal life, then they turned to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46).

 

Now in this that hath been said, we may note two things:

 

(1) First, the longsuffering and great patience of God, that He will not have a sinner living in the church condemned, till He have brought him through all the means of his conversion, and till he be past hope. Thus He dealt with the old world, expecting their repentance, an hundred and twenty years, whereunto He then called them by the preaching of Noah (Gen. 6).

 

(2) Secondly, herein we must learn to moderate our judgments concerning wicked men. A man must not be condemned for a dog, or for a swine, till he give evident signs of obstinate malice and wilful contempt of the Word, and until he do even convict himself to be such an one, by a wilful contempt of the means of his salvation. This serves to shew their rashness and indiscretion, that condemn our church for no church, and our people for no people of God; judging them for dogs and swine, whenas they have not yet convicted them of obstinate malice in sin or error. It will be said, they have admonished them by writing. I answer, that their own books have more errors in them than they do hold whom they admonish, and so their writings can be no sufficient conviction.

 

2. Secondly, here observe that men become dogs and swine by their wilful repelling that holy doctrine of God, which should purge them and make them clean. It is the natural property of a dog to return to his vomit, and of a swine to his wallowing in the mire, as the proverb is; and hereof they can by no means be bereaved. And all men by nature return to the vomit and filth of their sins like dogs and swine; and they which will by no means suffer themselves to be drawn from their old sins, they have these properties of dogs and swine. And look as those beasts were excluded from the LordŐs tabernacle and congregation under the law; so are these men debarred from the Word and sacraments, and all holy things under the gospel. They are abomination unto the Lord (See Psa. 56:6, and Psal. 50:16). In this regard, we are to be admonished to suffer ourselves to be cleansed and reformed by the Word of God. Ye are clean (saith Christ) by the Word which I have spoken unto you (John 15:3), where He maketh the Word of God the instrument of our purification; to which effect He saith in His prayer to His Father, Sanctify them with thy truth, thy Word is truth (John 17:17). And St Peter saith, our souls are purified in obeying the truth by the Spirit (1 Pet. 1:22). Now we are by nature dogs and swine, inclined to the filth of our own sins, returning thereto with greediness, neither can we ourselves be broken of this property, but when occasion is offered we do naturally run to our old sins, as the swine and dogs do to their filth and vomit. In consideration whereof, we ought to subject ourselves to the Word of God, labouring to see and feel our own uncleanness, and to cry with David, Wash me thoroughly from my sins (Psa. 51:2), and with Peter, Not my feet only, but my whole body (John 13:9); that so it may be said of us, We are clean throughout by ChristŐs Word. If we see any uncleanness in our hearts or lives, we must purge it out by this Word, and return no more to the filth of our former sins. It is the property of ChristŐs sheep to hear His voice, and to obey the same; let us hereby testify ourselves to be His sheep, that so we may be distinguished from dogs and swine.

 

Here, it may be demanded, whether we should make confession of our faith before dogs and swine. Answer: Yes, if we be called thereunto, we are bound to do it. Be always ready, saith the apostle, to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you (1 Pet. 3:15). And in this place, our Saviour Christ speaketh of the preaching and dispensing of the Word, not of confession. Now in preaching, men acknowledge the Word to belong unto their hearers, but in confession, they declare the Word to belong to themselves alone.

 

3. Further, here we are to consider divers points concerning excommunication:

 

(1) First, the foundation thereof. It is an ordinance of God; for all dogs and swine by ChristŐs commandment, must be kept from holy things. Many that live in the church are open blasphemers of the name of Christ; some others are heretics, and these likewise are to be barred from the Word and sacraments. Yea, a man living in the church, may be worse in practice than an open enemy. Of such like the apostle speaketh (Tit. 1:16), They profess that they know God, but by their works they deny Him. And such an one was Ishmael, who for mocking Isaac, the son of the promise, was cast out of AbrahamŐs family, that is, out of the church of God (Gen. 21:10,11), for AbrahamŐs family at that time was GodŐs visible church.

 

(2) Secondly, here observe the end of excommunication, namely, to preserve the holy things of God from pollution, contempt and profanation; even the Word, prayer and sacraments, which wilful enemies would trample upon, as swine will upon pearls. And herein we may see the abuse of this ordinance, when it is used for politic and civil respects; especially in the church of Rome, whereof it is made an instrument of the unjust deposing of Christian princes, and of exempting their subjects from due obedience and allegiance.

 

(3) Thirdly, here, our Saviour noteth out the principal persons that are to execute this censure of the church upon wilful and obstinate enemies, that be as dogs and swine; namely, they to whom the disposing and keeping of the holy things of God is committed, that is, the lawful ministers of the Word and sacraments; for they must keep those holy things pure which God hath committed unto them; but that they cannot do without the exercise of this censure which God hath given unto His church.

 

(4) Fourthly, here also we may see how far this censure of the church extendeth against obstinate and wilful enemies; namely, to the debarring of them from the use of the churchŐs ministry in the Word, prayer and sacraments. Indeed, if the party be excommunicate for some particular crime, and there be hope of his repentance, because he doth not shew himself a dog or a swine by wilful obstinacy in his sin and contempt of the church; then, although he be excluded from communion with them in the sacraments and prayer, yet he may be admitted to hearing of the Word, because that is a means to humble him for his sin, and to bring him to repentance, which is the end of all ecclesiastical censures.

 

And thus much of the prohibition. Now follow the reasons to enforce the same:

 

 

II.

Lest they tread them under their feet, and turning again all to rent you.

Here, Christ renders a double reason to enforce His prohibition, both drawn from the dangerous events which would ensue by communicating holy things unto dogs and swine; for, first, they would tread them under their feet; secondly, turning again all to rent you.

 

1. For the first, by treading under feet, He means profaning and abusing. Now because the holy things of God must not be profaned and abused, therefore they must not be communicated unto wilful enemies of the grace of God.

 

In this reason, see the singular care of our Saviour Christ, to keep the Scriptures and other holy things of God from profanation. This care He likewise shewed with great zeal, when He whipped the buyers and sellers out of the temple, because they had made His FatherŐs house, that holy place, a house of merchandise and a den of thieves (Matt. 21:12,13). And herein He must be a pattern and example to us all, to teach us care and zeal in keeping the holy things of God from profanation. Far must it be from us to do or speak anything which may cause the world to speak evil of our holy profession. This is PaulŐs charge to servants, that they so carry themselves towards their masters that the name of God, and His doctrine be not evil spoken of (1 Tim. 6:1). For want of care herein, was GodŐs hand heavy upon David, for because by his foul acts of adultery and murder, he had caused the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, therefore the child born unto him must surely die (2 Sam. 12:14). We must therefore pray (as the apostle bids us (2 Thess. 3:1)), that the Word of God may be glorified. This is ChristŐs direction in His prayer, before all things to desire and seek that GodŐs name may be hallowed and glorified (Matt. 6:9). Now GodŐs Word is His name, for thereby is He known to us, yea, His name is magnified above all things by His Word (Psa. 138:2). Excellent was DavidŐs prayer to this effect (Psa. 119:39), Take away my reproach which I fear, for thy judgments are good; that is, keep me from doing that which may bring rebuke or reproach upon thy Word, or upon thy works, for they are good. Good king Hezekiah is also commended for his care of GodŐs glory, in that he forbad his servants to answer to the railing blasphemies of Rabshakeh (2 Kin. 18:36), lest thereby he should be provoked to blasphemy the more; as also in that he greatly humbled himself before the Lord upon the hearing of it; for he rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth, and spread the railing letter before the Lord; thereby referring the revenge to God Himself (2 Kin. 19:1-14).

 

2. And turning again all to rent you. These words contain ChristŐs second reason against communicating holy things to malicious and obstinate enemies, drawn from the peril that may ensue thereupon to His disciples and ministers; for these dogs and swine are not only prone to abuse the holy things themselves, but also to annoy and hurt by reviling and persecution those that be the messengers of the Word unto them.

 

In this reason, Christ sheweth that it is not only lawful, but necessary, that GodŐs ministers should seek to avoid and shun the malice and rage of obstinate enemies, by all lawful means which may stand with GodŐs glory and the keeping of a good conscience. Hence He bade His disciples, with the innocence of doves join the wisdom of serpents (Matt. 10:16). Now the serpent is most wily and wary to save herself from harm.

 

Objection: But it is the property of an hireling to flee from his flock when he seeth the wolf coming (John 10:13); therefore it seems GodŐs ministers may not flee in time of persecution. Answer: To flee in persecution is not always a forsaking of the flock, but sometimes tends to their greater good; as when persecution is intended directly against the minister, then he may with good conscience flee for his safety, in hope of return for their future good; else Christ would not have said to His disciples, If they persecute you in one city, flee into another (Matt. 10:23). Yea, not only the minister must thus look to his own safety, but his people also must do what lies in them for his preservation. So did the believers in the primitive church, for St Paul, when his life was sought in Damascus, the disciples let him down at a window in a basket through the wall, and he escaped (Acts 9:25). And at Ephesus, when the great tumult was about Diana, Paul would have thrust himself in among the people, but the disciples seeing it would be dangerous unto him, kept him back, and would not suffer him (Acts 19:30).