Suspiria Ecclesiae & reipublica
The sighs of the Church
and common-wealth of
An exhortation to humilia-
tion with a help thereunto,
setting forth the great corrup-
tions and mseries of this
present church and state,
with the remedies that are
to be applyed there-
by Thomas Warmstry.
1. An earnest exhortation to the people of England to Humiliation and Prayer unto Almighty God, for the obtaining of his mercy in these miserable and sinfull times.
WHen I consider how many powerfull Oratours God hath sent unto our Nation to declame unto us upon this Theame, in those many and heavy afflictions which he hath laid upon us; It might well seeme needlesse for me to speake in an argument that is [Page 2] set on with so much eloquence from heaven. But when on the other side I remember how deafe wee have beene unto all those Orators, it might well be conceived a thing hopelesse for me to be heard, where so many and so earnest pleaders from heaven have not obtained an hearing.
Not a stroke that God hath laid upon us, but hath brought with it an admonition unto humiliation and Prayer.
The Word of God, and the rod of God are but several preachers in a divers dialect of one and the same doctrin. The word speakes it more clearely: The Rod more terribly: The Word is the interpreter of the Rod [Page 3] and the Rod the quickner and enforcer of the Word: In the WOrd God dictates his Rules and Precepts, and calamities are as it were the Presse of the Almighty to imprint them upon the Tables of our hearts. Affliction urgeth us to every duty, but to none more properly then to humiliation and prayer.
The Rhetorique thereof hath been so powerfull, that it hath convinced Hypocrites, and even meere naturall men. It was so powerfull that it brought downe Pharaoh and Ahab to do something in humiliation. Though they came short of the full performance; it forced some expressions even from [Page 4] corruption it self, it overcame the stubbornesse of rebellious Israel, although their hearts were not right toward God; yet whilst the hand of the Lord was upon them in the multiplied lashes of the divine indignation against sin, they durst not stand out in a professed opposition, but fell downe prostrate at the incensed divinity, Psal. 78.34. When he slew them, them they sought him, and they returned and enquired early after God, and they remembred that God was their Rocke, and the high God their Redeemer.
It was prevalent upon the naturall temper, (for we know no other that bee had) of the Shipmaster in Ionah, so that he [Page 5] could become the reprover of Ionah for his sluggishnesse, and exhort him to the necessary duty of supplication to the divinity, Ionah 1.6. when the storme was violent upon them, hee thought it strange that Ionah should be asleep and forget to pray. He came to him and said, what meanest thou O sleeper, arise call upon thy God, if so be that God will thinke upon us that we perish not.
It is a Doctrine that nature it self it seemes can heare from the mouth of present distresse and anguish; a voice of God that overcommeth the deasenesse of those that are spiritually dead: A principle much below Christianity, that was legible in the [Page 6] dark and gloomy glimmerings of corrupt humanity: That it concernes men to seek for help of God in the time of danger, and anxiety. Yea some have thought that it hath been forcible enough, to improve the bruitishnesse of meere sensible creatures, and to teach them some motions toward God and heaven in their extreame necessities; The Lions roaring after their prey seeke their meate of God; who prepareth for the Raven his food, when his yong ones cry unto God? Job 38 41.
And although that of Lorinus be good Commentary, that it signifies, that God is invocated by them, [...], not by the clamour of language [Page 7] but by the cry of their necessity, which God is pleased to heare by the holy eare of his providence, so farre as to extend his care herein unto those bruitish Creatures; Or that of Simeon de Muis upon the 104. Psalme, That these bruitish Creatures are said to seeke their food of God, whose office it is to provide for all, in the like sence, wherein we may say, that the child by his cry asketh food, or the Teat of the mother, which yet knoweth not the mother.
Yet I find Euthymius brought in for the Author, that many men have often seene it in the time of famine or drought, that those brutes have lift up their eyes unto heaven, as if they did [Page 8] by an ineffable kind of language call upon their Creatour for a supply.
And is it not a shame that wee should bee such dunces in Piety, that we should be of a lower forme therein than the beasts themselves? that wee should be set to learne to seeke God in affliction of the Ravens and the Lions, and yet come short of the lesson?
It was an ignominious reproach that lay upon the ingratitude of Israel, Isa, 1.3. That the Oxe knew his owner and the Asse his Masters Crib: And yet Israel did not know nor consider the bounty of God who was so liberall a Master toward them; at whose hand [Page 9] they were continually fed, at the breasts of whose providence they continually sucked: who bare them in the armes of his mercy, and carried them in the bosome of his compassion.
The Wiseman without doubt intendeth to shame (as well as to instruct) the sluggard when he sets that Truant to Schoole unto the Pismire, that he may learne industry and providence of that little Mistris.
And certainly Job meant it for no grace unto the Schollers he was instructing, when he sends them for learning in matter of providence to the Beasts and Foules, to the Earth and to the fishes: And what a dishonourable stupidity is it [Page 10] in us; that Affliction should in any sense worke that upon naturall men, upon meere hypocrites, yea upon bruit creatures, that these should in any signification be said to seeke to God in the time of affliction; And that we cannot learne this lesson of the same Master. It is time for us to disclaimeour very humanity and kind, and to yeild up all the preheminence thereof unto the meanest of those creatures, if wee suffer them to outgoe us in Religion too, as well as they are beyond us in many other perfections.
And yet alas how dull have we approved our selves! How many severe Masters hath God set over us for the purpose; To [Page 11] teach us these so low and mean Lectures of Piety: To seeke for deliverance from God in the time of our trouble, at least when the cause is so with us, that we can see no hope of attaining it any where else; that we should at least make God our Cum nemini as it is said, and betake our selves to him when all other helpers reject us; that wee should make him our last refuge, if we will not make him our choise; and yet how poore proficients have we proved our selves herein? Are wee such sworne fooles that experience can teach us nothing after so long a Prentiship of misery? Are we so fast asleep that no Thunder can awake us? So [Page 12] dead in our Lethargy, that wee cannot feele so many bloudy gashes that the Sword of the Lord hath made upon the wounded and dying body of our Nation? that we have no sense of the scorching and the scalding of those flames of the wrath of heaven, which have so wasted and consumed us, and burnt away so many members of our Church and State unto ashes?
Have so many yeares pruning and digging about us made no cure at all of our barrennes? but that we will needs have that fearfull sentence, Cut it downe, why cumbreth it the Ground?
Shall the Lord complaine of us, as once of Israel, I have corrected their children in vaine; the Bellowes are burnt, the Lead is consumed of the fire, the Founder melteth in vaine: for the wicked are not plucked away.
Nor the waters turned into bloud; The calme and pleasant streames of concord and prosperity wherewith this Land of ours was heretofore watered and refreshed; turned into a red Sea of Christian blond shed so abundantly among us.
Nor the lice of beggery and bondage: Nor the Flies of Oppressours that sit galling upon our sores, and have corrupted the Land wherein we live: Nor the literall murnins that have destroyed our Cattle: Nor the Biles and blaines of the Plague and Pestilence, that have transplanted so many Colonies weekely into the Land of darkenesse where all things are forgotten: Nor those more pernicious Biles and Plagues of the body of the State, whose swelling Tumours of ambitious Tyranny, and limed spots of corroding envy, are sad presages of the approaching death of this poore Nation. Nor the terrible and wasting showers [Page 16] of haile that have bin shot against us from heaven in many judgements, and from the engines of war and enmity, that have been upon man and upon beast, mingled with the raging fire of desolating devision: Nor the Locusts and Caterpillars that have devoured the fruit of our Land in the field; nor those armed ones that wast our provision in our houses and habitations, and eate up that which hath escaped the former.
It is now a long time, that this pooro miserable Nation hath laine lowing and tumbling like a wild Bull in a net; wee have strugled, and bellowed, and foamed, and fretted, and tired our selves with striving to breake out; but the more wee have strugled, the more we have been entangled.
The flouds and the billowes still arise upon us, and we like the poore Dove can find no place to rest our foote on, and yet we will not returne unto the Arke; wee have fled from it unto this Mountaine and to that hill, but the waters of desolation still ascend up after us, and no advantage of ground hath secured us.
Our wounds are rankled, and Gangrened, and the fretting Cankers thereof have eaten even unto our hearts, and are ready to seize upon the very principles of life; and yet we delay to seeke for a recovery; we will not admit of any mortifying applications that may kill the rancour of these devouring [Page 21] Ulcers, that we may preserve the being of this perishing Nation: Doe not bee so foolish as to thinke you are safe because the Sword is taking breath a while from the chase of your bloud, because it seems to rest it selfe for some houres after so full a meale as it hath made of the flesh and the carkases of this people: This temporary cessation (if you take not heed) may prove but a reenforcement of its violence, that may shortly returne it upon us with the greater rage, and gaine it but the better stomack and appetite to feast it selfe more freely hereafter in our utter ruine.
Such leasures are many times but the gaining of opportunity either for the contrivance and expediting some new workes or designes that may prove more effectuall to more speedy destruction; A giving of us leave to fall asleep, that wee may bee surprized in our security and oscitancy.
They are still gathering more and more thicke and gloomy about us, and threaten us againe with a more violent tempest. The sharp physick that we have taken, hath indeed weakened our body, but hath not at all cured us of our diseases; The evill humours are still predominant, and ready to cast us into a relapse, and to renew the paroxismes of our furious maladie. Doe you not perceive, that after all those dreames of happinesse, That some have so boasted of to themselves and others, in the sad successes of their prosperous impieties: who promised you grapes from those thornes which they planted [Page 27] and fostered, The Serpents root is yet still alive. The root of division, discord, and sedition; and that it is ready to bring forth a Cockatrice, and the fruit thereof to be a fiery flying Serpent; a Serpent for the poysonousnesse; fiery for the fiercenesse & rage; and flying for the swiftnesse of that devastation wherewith it menaceth us.
it was Gods pleasure that they should begin the round: but the rest must looke to pleadge them at the last without a timely reconciliation unto God: and woe be unto them, whose lot it shall be to drinke the bottome of the heavenly fury.
I heartily wish that the sufferings of my selfe and others that have been my fellow patients in that Phisicke which God hath administred unto us, and our Brethren in tribulation, may if God please, excuse all others of this Nation of what side soever they have been, from those draughts of miseries which are yet behind; but then I must beseech you to be sensible of your miseries; That you will seriously lay your present condition unto your hearts, and those yet greater calamities that are impendent over us.
And then secondly, I would faine put you in mind of those fountaines and rootes from which our calamities flow, and upon which they grow and prosper, and will do still if we prevent not, to our utter undoing
As long as we are not touched with a sense of our evills, we are never like to looke after the remedies. The torment of the disease is the sollicitour of health, and the best advocate for the entertainment of the Physitian and the Physicke. There are two great baggs of poyson in the serpentine hearts of corrupted men, that doe above all others keepe us off from the cure of our spirituall [Page 35] diseases; presumption or security, and despaire of mercy: The one keeps us from taking notice of our wretchednesse: The other renders us hopelesse of reliefe. And therefore the great Physitian of the Church though he be not wanting in his provision against all our sicknesses, yet he seemes in the generall scope of his compositions to have aimed at the removall of these two.
But because this Physick of it selfe is very destructive, and if it should be let alone, would never cease, till it had brought us to despaire, and so killed us with a contrary Disease. Therefore God hath ordained the Gospell for a Cordiall to abate and qualifie the violence of this Corrosive: to keep us from being desperate and hopelesse of health: to meete with the rigour and sincerity of the Law, and to hold us up in the hope of salvation, by the offers of mercy in Christ Jesus.
Devill deales much in Opium, and Narcoticks, that stupifie the soule; and deales with men as Physitians use to doe with those whom they use to cut of the Stone: hee first casts them into a dead sleep, and then cuts them and mangles them how he pleaseth, whilst they lye still and quiet, and never so much as cry oh! nor flinch at it, nor struggle against it, untill at length hee cuts out their very hearts and soules: Hee knowes his hellish enterprize never goes on so prosperously, as when it moves secretly and undiscovered.