The means of making a Nation happy
both in spiritual and temporal Priviledges.
Preached before the Right Honorable
House of PEERES in the Abby Church
at Westminster, at the late Solemne
Monthly Fast, Decemb. 30. 1646.
By Willam Goode B. D. and Pastor of Denton in Norfolk.
Published by Order of the House of Peeres.
Psal. 68. 1.‘Let God arise, and let his enemies be scattered.’
‘Ezek. 36. 11. I will do better to you then at your beginnings.’
1 Chron. 22. 19. Now set your heart and soul to seek the Lord your
God, arise therefore and build yee the Sanctuary of the Lord God.
London, Printed by T. R. and E. M. for Nath. Webb and Will.
Grantham at the sign of the Grey-hound in Pauls Church-yard. 1647.
God, arise therefore and build yee the Sanctuary of the Lord God.
PUBLISHED BY T. R.
PUBLISHED BY E. M.
PUBLISHED FOR Nath. Webb
PUBLISHED FOR Will. Grantham
ORdered by the Lords in Parliament Assembled, That this House gives thanks to Mr. Goode, one of the Assembly of Divines, for his great paines taken in his Sermon preached the last Fast before the Lords of Parliament in the Abby Church Westminster: And he is hereby desired to print and publish the same, which is to be printed only by authority under his own hand.
AS the goodnesse of God, that hitherto hath afforded a miraculous preservation to the Parliament of England, and hath never failed to give in mercifull Deliverances in time of need, and to make many admirable returnes of Prayer, doth manifest that God is with you in your pious endeavours for the settling of Truth and Peace: So is it evident that our sinnes do withhold good things from us, that notwithstanding the Balm that is in Gilead, and the Physitians there, yet we are not healed.
The Sword is not sheathed, the Pestilence not ceased, and Famine a Plague worse then these, begins to threaten [Page] us. Ignorance, Prophanesse, Heresies, get ground in many places of the Land; and hence such as are enemies to Peace and Reformation, encourage themselves with hope to see the time when they shall cause your work to cease, and bring us back again to Egypt.
It therefore highly concernes all of all conditions, to examine what their iniquities are, that put a stop to the current of Gods Mercies towards us; and when they have stoned the Achans in their owne bosome, to mourn for the sinnes of others, and to wrestle with God for pardon, and such a spirit of repentance as may fit the Land for those high and excellent Mercies, both for soul and body, which hitherto have been the object both of our prayers and hopes.
Now as no meanes of cure are successefull further then Gods owne power and blessing have a concurrence with them; so the onely way to procure Gods assistance, is, to make such application to him as may most strongly engage him to be with you in all your endeavours. And seeing God doth all things for his owne glorie, to advance such waies as will make the name of God most glorious in the Land, must needs be the greatest engagement you can make of God.
Some few directions for this purpose by your Lordships command I presented to your eares; and now by the same command present them to your eyes. The chief whereof was this, the advancement of Gospel-truth, and the power of godlinesse.
The Psalmist tels us.In Jury is God well known, his name is great in Israel: Where God is best known, he is most glorified; God is rightly made known only by his own truth revealed in his Word, and as this is more or lesse defended, propagated, and obedience thereunto yeelded; so is [Page]God more or lesse honoured by any Nation, and their spirituall and temporall priviledges more or lesse enlarged.
Basill and Ambrose say of the Echineis or Remora a little fish, that if it joyn it self to a Ship under sayle, it will make it stand still and quiet, though driven with the greatest tempests. Like this Echineis to a Ship, is Religion to a State, which while your Lordships have endeavoured to reforme and establish, you have been preserved in safety, while so many dreadfull stormes have blown from one end of the Land unto another. God therefore having trusted you in a speciall manner with the guarding of his Truth and Ordinances, let it be your greatest care to preserve and propagate these in their power and purity; And then you may commit both your own and the Kingdoms safetie with confidence unto Gods keeping. And whatsoever storms shall be raised against you, and such as be with you in the Cause of God, he will quiet them in his appointed time, and give a prevailing command to all your enemies, saying,‘Destroy not the Cluster, for there is a blessing in it,’Isaiah 65. 8.
Thus may your Honours not only be Physitians to heal our Land, but make plentifull provisions for your own happinesse to eternity: whereas otherwise those great talents of honour, authority and wealth, which God hath entrusted you with, will be but the improvement of your everlasting misery.Alcibiades bragging of his great possessions,Socrates to abate his pride, fetched him a Map of the World, and desired him to show him where his possessions lay, but there he could not find them; All Athens in that being but a point. Remember, that what ever possessions great men have here, yet Not many wise, not many rich, not many mighty, shall have inheritances in heaven.
As therefore God hath done great things for you, so do you great things for God. Let your authority be the bulwark of the innocent, the axe to cut downe prophanesse, injustice and oppression in the Land: LetIreland be releived, and such at home as the Publike service hath made Widows or Orphants, or necessitous, be succoured. Let those little Sisters that have no breasts, be provided for all the Kingdom over; Let grace and holinesse be seen in their own colours in your lives and examples, that your copies which are seen and read of all men, may make them in love with godlinesse, that, when God shall divest you of your great possessions here, he may invest you with a glorious inheritance among the Saints in his own Kingdom for ever, which that he may do, is the prayer of
THe great miseries which this Prophet saw were coming upon the people of Israel,and those desolating judgements which he had a commission to denounce against them, were the cause of this mournfull question in my text.
He Prophecied in the time of Jeroboam the Second, who was the Son of Joash, 2 King. 14. 24. In his reign Israel had some restauration in regard of their outward estate, but he being a wicked King, walking in the wayes of Jeroboam who made Israel to sin: the Peoples sins grew to so great a height; as they were ripe for judgement, and therefore God sent this Prophet to mind them of those breaches and desolations which were speedily to come upon them, without their mature repentance. And in the Nine first verses of this Chapter, declares a most sad vision which he had concerning their future condition.
Verse 1. He saw an army of Grashoppers or Locusts, a kind of green worm that should devour all their grasse, and so bring a degree of scarcity upon them.
Verse 4. He saw a Fire, by which God would contend with them, which should devour the great deep, and eat up a part:Calvin [Page 2] Calvin reades it not a part, but the whole possession which the word will bear, that is all that the Locusts had left.
This Fire is conceived to be a great drought, when the violent heat of the Sunne beames shall peirce the deepest of the earth below the roots of Corn or Trees, and so make a perfect famine.
Verse 8. He saw a Plumb line, which was a certain measure of time taken by God, beyond which he would not spare this people, as the text saith,I will not passe by them any more, I will inevitably bring my judgements in their full current; as it followeth verse 9.
Now while the people were under the two former judgements, there was some hope of recovery; yet their sins were so great, and they so obstinate in them, and God in his wrath resolved to bring them so low, as the Prophet being deeply affected with the sense of their calamity, and yet at a stand how they should compasse any deliverance, complains to God and saith,By whom shall Jacob arise? for he is small.
For Explication of these words, we must understand, First, that,
By Jacob, is meant the ten Tribes cheifly; yet Judah is not excluded, because Amos prophesied to them also, Amos 2. 5.
Secondly Small. By this is meant the afflicted and lowe estate of this people in regard of their Temporals, under the forenamed judgements, and likewise in regard of their Spirituals. Verse 9.
‘The Sanctuary of Israel shall be laid wast, and I will send a famine, and not of bread, but of the word of the Lord,’‘Amos’‘8. 11.’
Thirdly, By whom shall Jacob arise? [...] of [...] signifies to arise, to stand, to establish; but here by the most it is taken transitively and signifies to raise; and then tis read, Who shall raise Jacob? And if we read it so, the sense is still the same: who shall raise, deliver, restore Jacob, and make him happy in the enjoyment of Temporal and Spiritual priviledges?
The Text thus explained, affords us these Two Propositions: First1.Propos,
That Gods people may be brought so lowe, in regard of Temporal and Spiritual priviledges, as no meanes may be visible, or if visible, for the present not effectuall for their restauration.
Amos makes it a question, because he could not see, by whom Jacob should be raised.
The Second Proposition is this, When there is no meanes visible, or if visible, not effectuall for our recovery, then we ought to apply our selves to God to work deliverance for us. Amos though he could see no means whereby Jacob should be raised, yet he prayes Verse 3. O Lord pardon, and Verse 5. O Lord cease, and asketh God this question, By whom &c.
Of these Propositions in order, and first of the First, That Gods people &c.
Such was their condition in the beginning of Jeroboams reign, 2 King. 14. 26. The Lord saw the affliction of Israel that it was very bitter, for there was none shut up, nor any left, nor any helper in Israel. In Jehorams time, 2 King. 6. 28.they were so low with famine thatThey that did feed delicately, were desolate in the streets; they that were brought up in scarlet, did embrace the dung-hill. This was the state of Gods people in Aegypt, in the Wildernesse, in the Babylonish Captivity, and under the Romish servitude. This was Job his case, Job 1. when estate, and friends, and reputation, and health were all taken from him. This was Davids case with Akish King of Gath, 1 Sam. 21, and in Ziglag, 1 Sam. 30. 6. when his wives were taken prisoners, his substance plundered, and the City ready to stone him.
And as this is the condition sometimes of Gods people in regard of their Temporal, so of their Spiritual priviledges: when the Worship of God is generally corrupted, his Truths despised, and his Ordinances polluted and contemned. Thus it was in Ahabs time, when there was a generall face of Idolatry, and such a persecution of the Ministers of God by those that had the highest authority, as Obadiahwas forced to hide an hundred of the Prophets of the Lord by fifty in a cave, 1 King. 18. 4. And Elijah complained, They have for saken thy Covenant, and thrown down thine Altars; and for such as did visibly worship God truely, he saith, I even I am left alone, and they seeke my life also: 1 King. 19. 10.
The Reasons of this dispensation of God, are, First1.Reason.,
To take us off from Idolizing meanes, or resting upon creature helps for deliverance, and that we may both expect this from [Page 4] himself, and give him the praise of it, when we have it.
‘We naturally are not willing to come to God, as long as we have any means to go unto; and therefore God removes these, or makes them ineffectual to relieve us; and increaseth our affliction, to bring us to trust in him, and to seek for restauration at his hand’. Hos. 5. 13. Ephraim and Judah sent first to Ahab and King Jareb; then God turned their Moth into a Lion, and saith, I will go away and teare, and none shall rescue, untill they seek my face. In their affliction they will seek me early.
God will have the honour that is due unto him, which is, to be trusted as the adequate cause of all our deliverances; according to that, Psal. 62. 8. Trust in God at all times: And that, Jer. 3. 23. In vain is salvation looked for from the hills, or from the multitude of mountains; for God is the salvation of Israel.
Secondly, for the glory of his Justice. When God threatens only, and doth not strike, or if his strokes be lesse then his threatnings hold out, we are apt to think our sins are not so great, or not so provoking, as they are, or else that God is not just in punishing. Jer. 16. 10. When the people heard of great judgements, they cryed out, What is our iniquity? What is our sin? And Psal. 50. 21. I held my tongue, and thou thoughtest that I was altogether such a one as thou art. As Dionysius, that robbed a Temple, and when he had done, went to sea, and had a prosperous voyage, and he said, Surely the gods are in love with sacriledge. God therefore, to clear his justice, sometimes severely punisheth and brings low his own people, that it may appeare how he hateth sin, though in those whom he loveth best. Amos 3. 2. You only have I known of all the families of the earth, and therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. If David make the enemies of God to blaspheme, the sword shall never depart from his house, 2 Sam. 12. 14. He continueth and increaseth his judgements, untill his people confesse both the hainousnesse of their sins, and his justice in their affliction, Hoseah 5. 14.
Thirdly, for the glory of his Mercy. Extremity of pain makes us prize a little ease; and extremity of want, to admire a little plenty. In time of prosperity, we make little account of rich mercies; and no mercies are so great then, as will draw us to any considerable thankfulnesse. Then we do by Mercies, as men do by [Page 5] Rivers; these bring us up the choisest commodities both of our own and other Nations, and we return by them again our dung and garbage, and such things as are noysome to our selves and others: But whenever we are deprived of those we account but ordinary mercies, we learn to value them at a high rate. DariusDarium [...]quem Alexander magnus bis acie [...] cum ex fuza [...] aquam [...]being vanquished by Alexander, and in his flight being in extremity of thirst, drank water out of a puddle that was mixed with much blood of slain souldiers, and said it was the sweetest drink that ever he tasted in his life. And the Prodigal, Luk. 15. ‘that regarded not all the dainties of his fathers house, while he was in it; when he was brought to live upon husks, and was ready to perish for hunger, did highly prize the dry bread he remembred to be amongst his fathers plenty.’
And as we learn by our wants to prize mercies, so to give God the glory of all our supplies; As Mariners at sea, when they are overtaken with such a storm as breaks all their tackling, and makes all their anchors come home, and drives their ship which way it pleaseth; If then they be carried into a safe harbour, must needs give all the praise to God. Hence it is that God usually either prevents us with his blessings, and gives them before we have used any means for them; or else if he set us to seek them, lets us see all our endeavours too weak to accomplish them, till his apparent hand of providence bring them in; that so when we receive them, we may say with David: Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us; but unto thy name do we give all the praise.
Fourthly, for the manifestation of the power and excellency of4.Reason that Grace which he gives unto his children. The preciousnesse and stability of Faith, the beauty of Patience, and sincerity of Obedience, are never so much seen as in the deepest conflicts with the greatest troubles. The Devil did accuse Job of hypocrisie, Job 1. 8. 11. That he served God only for wealth and outward prosperity: But when all those miseries were brought upon him for his trial, which amounted to the losse of all his comforts, he confuted the Devils accusation, and his faith, obedience and patience appeared invincible.
It made Elijah his faith glorious, when in contestation with Baals Priests, 1 King. 18. 38. he not only trusted God to send fire from heaven to consume his offering; but to consume it then, [Page 6] when he had powred 4 barrels of water upon it, and filled the trench with water. So, the graces of the Saints then become glorious, when they continue to act highly for God, in the midst of the deepest waters of affliction. Justin Martyr acknowledged his conversion from being a Philosopher to become a Christian, was occasioned by the invincible faith and courage that he saw in the Martyrs, under all the torments they were put to suffer.
Abrahams faith, Davids thankfulnesse, Moses meeknesse, Calebs integrity, Pauls zeal, Joshua's courage, had never been so perspicuous, nor had God ever had so much honour by their graces, if he had not put them upon those hard encounters and conflicts which he did.
Thus you see the truth of this Point cleared. God for his own glory suffers his people many times to be so small, as they can find no means effectual for their recovery.
And so I come to application. And the first Use of this point is, That if the people of God, who are as dear to him as the apple of his eye, may sometimes be under such troubles and miseries as seem inextricable; How inevitable and intolerable shall those miseries be, which God shall make to be the portion of the wicked?
Here is just matter of trembling for all wicked men: If the Applicationanger of God against such as he intends for ever to make blessed, may be so great, as to bring them under such wants and straits as they can see no way out of: What will be the fruit of his fiery indignation against such as are his enemies, appointed to drink the dregs of his wrath for ever.
If so great judgements begin at the house of God, 1 Pet. 4. 17. what shall be the end of them that obey not the Gospel?
If Stone, and Gout, and Strangury, and Sword, and Famine, and Pestilence, the worst of plagues this world hath, may fall upon the Righteous; what unconceiveable torments must those be, which God reserves for the punishment of the Wicked?
What little cause have wicked men to joy in all their worldly pleasures and contentments, when it is their certain portion to suffer the worst of miseries to eternity? Who would rejoyce to eat of the most exquisite banquet that can be made, if he knew, that when the reckoning came in, nothing would pay the shot but his own blood?
Wicked men may escape those, common miseries of Poverty, or disgrace, or sword or pestilence, which Gods children here sometimes endure; yet shall they never escape those unspeakable plagues which shall be the just reward of impenitent sinners. As Elijah saith, He that escapes the sword of Hazael, shall Jehu slay; and he that escapes the sword of Jehu, shall Elisha slay. Elisha his sword, it was his prophesie of those judgements that at length should inevitably fall upon the wicked; who though they may escape the sword of men here, yet they shall never escape the sword of Gods eternal wrath hereafter.
A second use we should make of this, is seriously to examine,Use 2. and repent of those sinnes, that cause God thus to make his own people small. But of this afterward more seasonably, in the second Proposition.
Thirdly, If such may be the state of Gods people, to be very lowUse 3. and small, whom yet God intends to deliver, and to preserve to his own heavenly kingdome: Then let us learn to take patiently Gods dispensations towards us in these times. Though Ireland remain yet in a most sad, and almost forlorn condition; though at home the Sword be not sheathed, nor the Pestilence ceased, and new fears of famine (a yet greater judgement) arise upon us; Though our dangers yet be great, because of our intestine divisions, and the unwearied plots of our enemies; and which is worst of all, Reformation of Religion with a hedge about it, is not yet perfected; but Prophanesse, Heresies and Blasphemies, in many places, abound more then ever: Yet let us not murmure. To be kept long in the wildernesse, hath been the condition of Gods people before us: Let us wait upon God with patience, and thankfulnesse, improving studiously those means for recovery He hath blest us with, untill the Lord be pleased to raise us out of these present troubles and dangers, and accomplish for us those rich mercies which we desire, and hope for.
Patience is a quiet silent frame of soule under troubles, submiting to God without murmuring, or declining any work God sets us about.
And to encourage and perswade us to this Patience, take these brief Considerations. First,
They that wait for Gods salvation, with a free and full submis1.Considsion to his will, and bearing of his indignation, manifested in those crosses and afflictions which he brings upon them for their sins, or tryall, shall never fail of such an issue as shall conduce most to their true and eternal happinesse, Jer. 30. 18.
Secondly. The more patient we are under cure, the sooner we 2.Consid.shall be healed: nothing more hinders the cure of wounds then the distempered strugling and unquietnesse of the Patient. When David in his flight from Absolon came to this degree of submission unto God, 2 Sam. 15. 26. Here I am, let him do unto me what seemeth good in his eyes, David quickly got the victory over Absolon and all that rose up in that rebellion with him. When Hezekiah came to this, after God had threatned that all his treasures and jewels should be taken away, and his sons become Eunuches to the King of Babylon, as to say, Isaiah 39. 8. Good is the word of the Lord, God presently respited the judgement, and let Peace and Truth be in his dayes. We could not but expect to meet with great and long troubles, by the strongest oppositions that men or devils can stir up against us, because we endeavour to carry Reformation to the highest pitch. Psal. 2. 1, 2. When Christ sets up his kingdome, the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing. The Kings of the earth set themselves, and the Rulers take counsell against the Lord, and against his Anointed. When the Jewes began to build the Wall of Jerusalem, Sanballet, and Tobias, and the Arabians &c. they all conspired together to go and fight against Jerusalem , Nehem. 4. 8. When they began to build the Temple, their enemies hired Counsellors and wrote Letters against them unto Cyrus King of Persia, Ezra 4. 5. and designed their ruine.
Evill men will strive for their lusts as for their lives, and there3.Consid.fore will struggle much against that Reformation that will either curb their extravagancies, or expose them to much disgrace and scorn, even amongst their inferiours. And not only evill men, but Satan will muster up all his forces for opposition, when he sees his kingdom going down. As Jaylers when they see their prisoners ready to break out, they will then thrust them into the Dungeon, and double their irons: So Satan when he discernes the Liberty and Purity of the Gospel is like to take his prisoners [Page 9] from him, he will shakle them with all troubles and miseries he can get commission to bring upon them.
Fourthly. All our troubles are much lesse then our deservings.4.Consid. God might have stub'd us up, when he went about to prune us. God might have turned us into dust as he did Sodome and Gomorrah, seeing our sins are greater then theirs could be, that never abused Gospel-mercy as we have done, and surely it is only the Lords mercy we are not consumed. In the midst of our judgements God hath remembred mercy, and by many miraculous deliverances in our greatest streits hath let us see that he would not give us up to be a prey to the teeth of our enemies: and still we we have balm in Gilead and physitians there, though our sins exceedingly obstruct our perfect healing.
Fifthly. God useth by long afflictions many times to prepare5.Consid. us for great mercies. Joseph was a great while in the hands of strangers and afterward in prison, before he became ruler of Aegypt. Israel were instructed with the Rod forty yeares in the wildernesse, before they were made possessors of the land that flowed with milk and hony: and afterward were humbled with seventy yeares Captivity before they enjoyed the glory of the second Temple. And Antichrist must reign and afflict the Saints a thousand years before the glorious times of the Church. A field that is to be sowen with curious seed, that is all overgrown with briars and thorns, will take a long time in stulbing and preparing. And stones that are to be placed in a curious building will take a long time in hewing and squaring.
Sixthly. We still go on to continue and multiply our sins; now6.Consid. to have gods judgements removed, before we be amended, were the greatest judgement of all. For God thus not to be angry, were the greatest anger of all. For the Chyrurgion to pull off his salves, and to leave dressing the wounds of his Patient before he were healed, were to leave him desperate of any cure at all.
God doth not afflict willingly, neither doth he take any delight in the troubles of his own people, and therefore sure we are not yet fit for those mercies we desire, or else God would not continue to multiply his judgements upon us. Now better had we be content with any cure, then to be suffered to go on still in our sins. [Page 10] There is nothing so much bitternesse in those rods that drive us unto God, as in those sins by which we are separated from God.
[...] Kingdoms are well bought, whatever price we give for them, saith a Heathen. Whatever pressures we undergo, the purchase will be happy, if the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, for the comfort of us and our posterity, may be at length advanced among us.
7.Consid.Seventhly, We may be patient, because our troubles shall neither be greater, nor longer, then makes for Gods glory and our good. One of the sharpest and longest miseries that befell Israel, was the Babylonish captivity; and yet God saith of that, I have sent them into Chaldea for their good, Jer. 24. 5. Affliction is measured out only by God himself; neither men nor devils can touch one hair of our heads, without licence first sued out from God. Affliction springs not out of the dust, Job 5. 6. Is there any evil in the city, that I have not done? saith God. Now God knowes, our strength is not the strength of stones, nor our flesh the flesh of brasse, Job 6. 12. And therefore God doth afflict his people in measure, Isa. 27. 7. God, that is our Physitian to mixe the potion of our adversity for us, is our Father as well as our Physitian, and he is the tenderest Father in the world; and therefore he will neither keep us longer in Physick, nor put any more Ingredients of bitternes in it, than will be for our health; but will let us see at length, All things shall work together for our good, Rom. 8. 28.
Absolon sent twice to Joab to come and speak with him, and he would not; at length he sent his servants to set Joabs corn on fire, and so compelled him to come unto him, 2Sam. 14. 30. When gentle means will not prevaile, God surprizeth our greatest comforts, and draws our afflictions to a greater height and length, that he may compell us to come to him, and draw out our soules in prayer with that fervencie and constancie, that he may hear and deliver us, Isa. 26. 16.
8.Consid.Eighthly, Wharever the afflictions of Gods people are, yet their condition is most comfortable of any other in the world: and that appears in three things:
1. They may be filii sub ira, children under wrath; but not filii ira, sons of wrath: For nothing shall separate them from the love of Christ, Not tribulation, nor distresse, nor persecution, nor famine, nor sword, Rom. 8. 35. The Righteous are like mount Sion, [Page 11] that shall never be removed. But that shall ever be made good to them, 1 Pet. 1. 5. They shall be kept by the power of God unto salvation. 2. Whatever they want in the world, yet they ever enjoy the best comforts, such as issue from the speciall love and favour of God inChrist Jesus; Pardon of sin, peace of conscience, and joy of believing, which is unspeakable and glorious, 1 Pet. 1. 8. These are better then any comforts of the world. When all the Stars in the Firmament shine, it is but Night; but the shining of one Sun makes it Day: Gods favour makes it Day, when all the Creature-contentments enjoyed together, make but a Night of comfort. And hence it was that Habacuck said: Although the Figtree shall not blossome, neither shall fruit be in the vines, the labour of the Olive shall fail, and the Fields yield no meat; the Flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no Heard in the stall: Yet will I rejoyce in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation, Hab. 3. 17, 18. 3. The more bitternesse they meet with here, the more sweetnesse to eternity: Such may be our afflictions, as may cause us to pay the debt of Death the sooner; yet this shall be our advantage, We shall hereby sooner rest from our labours, and be in possession of perfect blessednesse, the reward of Gods Free-grace. And therefore every godly man may say of his Persecutors, as Socrates of Anitus and Melitus, They may kill me, but they can [...]not hurt me. The time will come, when I shall be the happier for all my trials. As Sampson, when he went down to the vineyards of Timnath, he slew a Lion, a work of labour and danger; but when he returned again weary and faint, he found honey in the dead Lion, to refresh and comfort him.
The undergoing of sore afflictions, is like the killing of a Lion, but when we return by death, we shall find honey in the dead Lion, much sweeter consolations for all the sorrows our afflictions have brought upon us. Augustine having a friend that suffered much by slander, he comforted him with this: He that willingly adds to [...]thy defamation here, doth unwillingly adde to thy eternal glory hereafter. As St. Paultels us, 2 Cor. 4. 17. Our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
Thus much of the first Proposition: I come now to the second.
2.Propos.When there is no meanes visible, or if visible, not effectual for our recovery; then we ought to apply our selves to God, to work deliverance for us.
So Amos here: All effectual means of recovery for this people lying out of sight, he enquires of God how their restauration shall be compassed, and seeks to him to raise them.
Thus Jehosaphat,2 Chron. 20. 12. When that great army of Moabites and Ammonites came against Jerusalem, which he thought himself no way able to resist, he saith, We know not what to do, but our eyes are upon thee. And he, and all the inhabitants of Judah, set themselves to seek the Lord.
When the Prodigal, Luk. 15. had no means left of supply, but was ready to starve, he then resolves, I will go to my father.
Thus the Prophet Hoseah directs the people in distresse, Hos. 5. 13. when God had said, He would teare, and none should deliver: when Ahab and King Jaredcould afford no help: Come (saith the Prophet) let us return unto the Lord, he hath torne, and he will heale.
The Reasons of this Point are: First,
Because Gods people are never so small, but God can raise 1.Reason.them. Is there any thing too hard for the Lord? Gen. 18. 14. Though no salvation can be had from the hills, or from the multitude of the mountains, yet the Lord is the salvation of Israel, Jer. 3. 23.
God is the Lord of hosts, and all the creatures in the world are but souldiers in that army which he commands; and therefore there is no power raised against his people can be so great, but he is able presently to suppresse it. He can command an army of Stars to vanquish his peoples enemies, as he did Sisera and his host, Judg. 5. Or an army of Fire to defend them, as he did for Elisha, 2 King. 6. 17. If they be in want of necessary food, if the heavens be like brasse, and the earth like iron, yet he can rain down bread upon them, as he did upon Israel. He can instantly turn the greatest famine into plenty, as in Samaria, when one day the women did eat their children for want of bread, the very next day two measures of Barley were sold for a shekel, 2King. 7. 18.
Secondly, Because God hath made many comfortable promises 2.Reasonto a people in such a condition, to invite them to seek his help. Psal. 50. 15. Call upon me in the day of thy trouble, and I will deliver thee. Psal. 34. 19. Many are the troubles of the righteous, but the [Page 13] Lord delivereth them out of all, Jer. 30. 17. Alas, for that day is great, so as none is like unto it, even the day of Jacobs troubles, but he shall be saved out of it.
But it may be objected, What if God have decreed to bringObject. desolating and destroying judgements upon a people, Zeph. 2. 3. can any application to God divert those?
Whatever God decreeth against a Nation, where he hath a [...] People, yet four things God will not fail to give to his own children that rightly seek his favour:
1. Spiritual peace with himself. Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me, and he shall make peace with me.
2. Spiritual support under troubles. God is faithfull, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, 1 Cor. 10. 13. When thou passest thorow the waters, I will be with thee; and thorow the rivers, they shall not overflow thee; and thorow the fire, thou shalt not be burnt, Isa. 43. 2. They that wait upon the Lord, shall renew their strength, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not be faint, Isa. 40. 31.
3. Sanctification of their troubles. God chasteneth us for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holinesse, Heb. 12. 10.and that we might not be condemned with the world, 1 Cor.11. 32.
4. God will give such an issue as shall be most for their happinesse. Lam. 3. 26. It is good for a man to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord: For they that wait for him shalbe blessed, Jer. 30. 18.
Thirdly; Because no condition makes the Righteous so despicable, but that still they are most dear unto God: these are always3.Reason his Jewels, Mal. 3. 17. and he that toucheth them, toucheth the apple of his eye, Zach. 2. 8. God never quits his relations to his people, He is alwayes their friend, their father, their husband, and his compassions are more tender then the compassions of a mother, Isa. 49. 23. And as parents are most compassionate over their children when they are in distresse, that though they will correct them in their health, yet they will hug and cocker them in their sicknes: So God is then most tenderly affected towards his people, when their burdens are the heaviest. Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? For since I spake against him, I re [Page 14] member him earnestly still, my bowels are troubled for him, I will have mercy upon him, Jer. 31. 20. Gods Children may at all times go with confidence unto God, but much more then when their streits and calamities are such as none but God can deliver them; and when evill men seeke most of all to crush and destroy them.
Fourthly. Because no unworthinesse of ours can hinder Gods 4.Reasonmercy to us. Many will say, If I had not been so great a sinner; If I had not thus and thus provoked God; I could have some encouragement to seek unto him: but this can be no just bar to our seeking unto God for mercy, who freely loved us when we were enemies. That answers all objections which you have, Ezek. 36. 22. I do not this ô house of Israel for your sakes, but for mine own names sake. God for his own names sake, for Christs sake, can and will shew mercy to his people though they be never so unworthy. Nationall mercies are the fruites of free grace, not of free will.
Fifthly. Because it is our duty to compassionate our brethrens 5.Reasontroubles, 2 Cor. 12. 26. and then especially, when their calamities are at the highest, should we most earnestly seeke God for them. It falls out many times that some of Gods people are like Gideons Fleece, dry, when all the rest are wet; enjoy variety of blessings when thousands of others want them: but then they must not forget the afflictions of Joseph, but ply the throne of grace for their redresse. Lam. 1. 12. Where the Church complaines, Was there ever sorrow like my sorrow: There is reproved the want of compassion towards her, saying, Have ye no regard all ye that passe by? When Daniel foresaw the great miseries the Jewes were to suffer, by the cruelty of Antiochus, he fasted and mourned many dayes together, Dan. 10. 2, 3. When Nehemiah heard by Hanani the Prophet of the great affliction and reproach of the Jewes that escaped the Captivity, he sat down and wept certain dayes and prayed unto the God of heaven for their deliverance, Nehemiah 1. 4. And when Hesterknew the Decree of Ahashuerus was sealed for the destruction of the Jewes in all his Provinces, she fasted and prayed and adventured her honour, and life, and all, for their preservation, Hester 4. 16.
6.ReasonSixthly. Because all the felicity of a Nation, depends upon the [Page 15] Churches welfare. Gospel Truth revealing Jesus Christ, and conveying his graces, and priviledges unto a people, is that tree of life without which no Nation can become a Paradise. While the Jewes neglected the building of the Temple, they prospered not. There was much sowing and little reaping, the corn was rotten under the clods, and all their earnings as wages put into a broken bag, Hag. 1. 6. But as soon as the foundation of the Temple was laid, God saith, From this day will I blesse you, Hag. 2. 19, 20.
Gospel Truth, and the Ordinances of Jesus Christ are the Churches Treasures, and upon the Restauration, Preservation, and Propagation of these being the meanes of godlinesse, depends both our Spiritual and Temporal happinesse; Godlinesse having the promises of the life that now is, and of that which is to come, 1 Tim. 4. 8. And therefore the smaller any people are made, by their sins, and Gods judgements upon them, in regard of Church Priviledges; The greater necessity lies upon them, to make the most earnest Application unto God for their Restauration. And thus much for the Proof of the Doctrine. I come now to Application.
If when all meanes seeme uneffectuall for the recovery or deliUse of Directionverance of a people, we ought then to apply our selves unto God, that by his Power and Wisdom, and goodnesse he may work and perfect deliverances for us: Let this be our direction what to do in this present condition we are in.
The Children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth. We looked for healing, but behold troubles, and feares, and dangers are still upon us, from the sword, the pestilence, the famine. The Nation is very little reformed, or Religion propagated: But notwithstanding all our glorious deliverances, and the meanes that hath been used for the purging, and settling of Religion in the power and purity of it, We are yet very Small, and if God by his power and goodnesse prevent not, may yet be smaller, by reason of the increase of Divisions, Ignorance, Prophanesse and Errors destructive to the power of godlinesse. And many other Nationall sinnes amongst us.
There is therefore now no way left us, but to lie in more with [Page 16] God, and to labour more strongly then ever to engage God for us, that he may heale and raise, and establish us in a comfortable condition both in regard of our Spiritual and Temporal priviledges.
As the Woman with the bloud issue, that had spent all upon Physitians, went at last to Christ and he healed her; so ought we to do, though we have as yet found no meanes effectuall to raise and settle us in a happy condition, yet God can do it, who is able to do above all that we can ask or think, Eph. 3. 20.
But how shall we engage God for us? How shall we apply our selves to him that we may prevail with him? I Answer this may be done 3. wayes. First,
By removing impediments that hinder our prevailing.
Secondly, By advancing such things as will make Gods name great in the land.
Thirdly, By the right performance of such duties, as make our power great with God.
First by removing impediments of our prevailing. What these are, we may see Isaiah 59. 2. 11. Your iniquities have separated betwixt you and your God, and your sins have hide his face from you that he will not hear. We look for salvation, but it is far from us, for our transgressions are multiplyed, our sins testisie against us, and our transgressions are with us. Our sins are multiplied, we have new sins, our sins are with us. Both our old and new sins are continued; and these be the impediments of Gods assistance, and our healing; While we continue our diseases, God will continue his medicins: while we hold up our sins, God will hold up his judgements, or else remove them in his wrath, and afflict us no more, which is worst of all.
Your own Consciences, and your observations of others are the best Kalanders, to find out both your own and others, old and new sins: But I shall endeavour to hint some of them to you. The sins of great ones were formerly Luxury, Idlenesse, slighting of religion, Oppression: The sins of all sorts of people, Pride, Coveteousnesse, Contentious, Sabbathbreaking, Lying, Swearing, Drunkennesse, Ignorance, Sleighting of the Gospel, Formality in Religion, with many others; And are not these sins with us? Besides these we have new sins such as help to make and keep [Page 17] us small. I shall insist upon some of the chief:
1. Breach of Covenant: And what judgement doth not this 1.Breach of Covenant bring? You may see, Lev. 26. where God saith, He will revenge the quarrel of his Covenant, What a magazine of Judgements follow? and particularly the sorest of judgements, ‘Famine is made thepunishment of this sin’. 2 Sam. 21. Three years famine did Israel undergo, because Saul flew the Gibeonites contrary to the Covenant that Joshua made with them, though they were of those that God had appointed to destruction, and the Covenant they obtained of Joshua was by false suggestions. Jer. 34. 17. Because the masters proclaimed not liberty to their servants to be free according to their Covenant: therefore, saith God, Behold I proclaim a liberty for you, to the sword, to the famine, and to the pestilence.
2. Want of compassion to those that are in misery. How littlewant of compassion have we mourned for the long afflictions of Germany, the bloody massacres of Ireland? for the poverty and wants of many Families among our selves, who have been exhausted, and lost their dearest friends, for their affection to Religion and the Publike safety? How many thousands in Irelandyet cry for pity and relief? and whether this hath been afforded to the uttermost of our ability, they best know that have the inspection of the high affairs of the Kingdom. Now want of compassion is a sin that brings a Nation low.Amos 6. 6. They lie upon beds of Ivory, they eat the Lambs out of the flock, and the Calves out of the midst of the stals, they drink wine in bowles; But are not grieved for the afflictions of Joseph: Therefore shall they go captive with the first that go captive.
3. Want of execution of Justice. If complaints of this kindWant of execution of justice be true, now this is a desolating sin. Amos 8. 4. 6. 8. Ye swallow up the needy, and make the poor of the land to fail: Shall not the land tremble for this? It shall rise up wholly as a flood, it shal be cast out and drowned as by the flood of Egypt. Their Princes are rebellious and companions of theeves, every one loveth gifts, they do not judge the fatherlesse, nor doth the cause of the widow come before them: Therefore I will be avenged of mine adversaries.
4. Unnecessary and unbrotherly divisions and oppositions oneDivisions. against another, and these carried on daily to a greater height; [Page 18] Manasseh against Ephraim, and Ephraim against Manasseh, and both against Judah. Division among brethren, is a sin that makes a Nation small, and no sin is so fatal to it as this is.A Kingdome divided against it self cannot stand. They had in Rome a Shield in their Capitol, and it was said to be the Fate of that City, that whoever could get that shield, should likewise conquer the City. Like this shield is Unity of Brethren; If our enemies can take this shield from us, it will be no hard matter for them to conquer the Nation. You may see both the description and doom of a divided people, Jer. 13. 13. I will fill all the inhabitants of this land, even the Kings, the Priests, and the Prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with drunkennesse, and I will dash them one against another; I will not pity nor spare, but will destroy them.
Corruptions in Religion.5. New corruptions in Religion, and resisting of Reformation. It may be said now, as in the time of Hezekiah, 2 Chron. 20. 33. The high places were not taken away, for the people had not prepared their hearts unto the God of their fathers. Many strange Errors, Heresies and Blasphemies increase amongst us, which may Mr.Bailey in his 1 and 2 .Part. be all seen in their colours, in those Books that are written against them. Now these are sins that make a Nation small, Hos. 7. 1. 13. When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered. Destruction unto them, v. 13. Because I would have purged thee, and thou wouldst not be purged, I will cause my fury to rest upon thee, Ezek. 24 13.
Now to aggravate both our old and new sins to the height, we have added obstinacie and hardnesse of heart, such as no Age hath been guilty of greater; if we consider the great Light, the powerfull Ordinances, the humbling Judgements, the miraculous Deliverances, and the choice Mercies which we have had. To be impenitent under such sins, and under such powerfull means, and such strong obligations to Repentance, how should this but bring and keep us low? or how hardly shall we prevail with God, while these sins cry against us?
Be exhorted then to break off these, and all your sinnes, by Repentance: This is the duty of every one, this day; and further, to mourn for the sins of the Land, and with all possible earnestnes to sue unto God for the pardon of them.
Endeavour likewise to raise the practise of the contrary vertues, [Page 19] both in your selves and others. Much power to effect this, Right honorable Lords, lies in your hands, and hereby you may raise the Nation.
First then, raise your Covenant; First labour to keep it strictly your selves, and then to propagate it. It was piety in Ezra, to compell all the Jews to swear to the Covenant, Ezra 10. It was zeal in Josiah, to make all Israel stand to the Covenant, and to serve the Lord, 2 Chron. 34. 23, 33. And it will be no lesse in you. How much Covenanting exalteth a Nation, we may learn by the times of Moses, Joshua, Asa, Hezekiah, Josiah, Ezra: And if we wanted these examples, we might learn by our own experience.
2. Raise your Compassions. Let every one mourn in secret, and contribute their best assistance by their Prayers, or other abilities, for the relief of poor distressed Ireland, and Thousands besides who lie under many wants and sorrows in these times: but especially let this be done by those that have the disposing of the Publique treasury and strength of the Kingdom. This is the way to raise the Nation. The liberal man deviseth liberal things, and by liberal things shall ye stand, Isa. 32. 8. The merciful man shal find mercy. Break the bands of wickednesse, and let the oppressed go free, Relieve the fatherlesse and widow, and such as have wasted themselves for your support; and then shall your light break out like the day, Isa. 58. 6, 7, 8.
3. Raise the Execution of Justice in every place of the Kingdom, and this will raise the Nation. Run to and fro through the City, and see if ye can find a man that executeth judgement, and I will pardon it, Jer. 5. 1. If ye will throughly execute Judgement betwixt a man and his neighbour, and not oppresse the stranger, the fatherlesse, nor the widow, then will I cause you to dwell in this Land which I gave unto your fathers.
Fourthly. Raise Religion, and that will raise the Nation: propagate and preserve the truth of the Gospel and that will preserve you. Buy the Truth and sell it not, Prov. 23. 23. Let no ingagement in the world ever cause you to desert the Truth. Truth is too great a price to give for any purchase in the world. Jeroboam purchased a kingdom by the sale of Truth, he strengthened himself in it, by setting up the Calves at Dan and Bethel; but the want of Truth proved at length the losse of both himself and his [Page 20] kingdom. The saving knowledge of Jesus Christ revealed in Gospel Truth, is the root on which growes all our happinesse for soul and body. If you observe the History of the Jewish Church from one end of it to another, you will find their happy and prosperous times were still under such governours as purged and maintained religion in the Purity of it, Chron. 2. 17. And their afflicted and broken times were still when Truth was corrupted by Idolatry, or lost by ignorance. Israel for a long season was without a preaching Preist and without the Law, and in those times there was no peace to him that came in, nor to him that went out, but great vexations upon all the inhabitants of the countries, 2 Chron. 15. 3. 5.
Truth is in a double danger, and both these must be provided against, if Truth be secured. First, it is in danger of open violence, in respect of those that would burn it out of the world, by fire and persecution, as the Papists. And Secondly, it is in danger of back doores to be all let run out into Heresies, and Errors that are destructive to the power of godlinesse. Some deal by Truth as Alexander threatned he would do by the River Ganges, which was, that he would cut so many Channels in it, as it should loose both name and glory. It is the Devils policy, that when he cannot murder Truth by violence, yet he would bring it into a mortall consumption by Errors and corruptions. Do therefore neither suffer Truth to be forced, or Faith betrayed out of your hands. Contend earnestly for the Truth, that was once delivered to the Saints, Jude 3. Be valiant for, be invincibly resolved to maintain the Truth, and to perfect the Reformation of Religion throughout the Kingdom; and to rivet this resolution, take but these two arguments;
First, That in Rom. 1. 20. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation: Upon the enjoying, beleiving, and obeying of Gospel-truth, depends all the happinesse of your souls, and the souls of your posterity.
Secondly, That in Psal. 128. 5. I will blesse thee out of Zion: The certainty and sanctification of all temporary blessings comes out of Zion, in particular where the truth of the Gospel is upheld and obeyed, it gives first,
The greatest strength and security to a nation that can be, Rev. 10. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, therefore I [Page 21] will keep thee in the hour of temptation. Salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks to that righteous nation that keeps the Truth. As Caesar said once to the master of a Ship that was afraid in a storme, Fear nothing, thou carriest Caesar; So may I say, Let that Nation fear nothing that upholds and advanceth true Religion. Jehosaphet advanced the true knowledge and worship of God, and God strengthened the kingdom in his hand, 2 Chron. 17, 5.
2. Propagation of Truth brings Peace. The fear of the Lord fell upon all the kingdoms that were round about Judah, and they made no war against Jehosaphat, 2Chron. 17. 10.
3. Riches. Jehosaphat had riches and honours in abundance, 2 Chron. 17. 5. And in the glorious times of the Church, God promiseth, For brasse I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver; and for wood, brasse, and for stone, iron, Isa. 60. 17.
4. Victory. The nation and kingdome that will not serve thee, shall perish. Violence shall no more be heard in thy land, wasting nor destruction within thy borders; but thou shalt call thy wals Salvation, Isa. 60. 12. 18.
5. Glory. The Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shal be seen upon thee: the glory of Lebanon shall come unto thee, to beautifie the place of my Sanctuary. I will make the place of my feet glorious Isa. 60. 2. 13.
5. Raise the Unity of brethren, and this will raise the Nation. The Motto upon our Coyn may be our instruction, Concord makes [...]small things great. The Apostles were exceeding earnest in perswading to Unity in Judgement. In the first 5 Chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, this Precept is five times repeated: Be of one minde. But that place is very emphatical, 1 Cor. 1. 10. Now I beActs 1.14,2.1.46,4.32,5.12.seech you brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same things, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joyned together in the same Minde, and in the same Judgement.
Contrary winds will never bring our ship to the harbour: Nor can any thing so perswade our enemies, that we are building a Babel that must down again, as the confusion of our Languages. Gods people are a Cluster with a blessing in it, Isa. 65. 8. The way to preserve the Blessing, is, not to destroy the Cluster. But how should the Unity of brethren be maintained? I answer, 2 wayes:
1. Let them joyn their strength against all Heresies and Blasphemies and Errors that are destructive to the Power of godlines: these are the works of the flesh, which all that are godly ought to set themselves against. And which, it is the Magistrates duty by his power with Civil censures to restrain.
2. For lesser differences in Judgement, which may fall out among godly men, and are not destructive to the peace of the Church, nor hinder the propagation of the power of godlinesse, [...] let them be covered and healed by love. Luthersaith of these differences, they are to be burnt with the fire of love. As Constantine, when some Bishops brought him books of their private quarrels, [...]to read, He took them and threw them into the fire and burnt them, and so ended the controversie.
Pride and selvishnesse are the cause of most of our divisionsand might easily be cured with love and humility, which we have infinite reason to labour for. The Apostle tels us of the danger of divisions, Gal. 5. 15. If ye bite and devoure one another, take heed ye be not consumed one of another. But this is not all our danger: There is nothing in probability in the world, that can so certainly make the plot of the Jesuites to take, in making us become a prey unto our enemies, as our own contentions. Let us not have lesse wisedome then those two Heathens,Aristides and Themistocles, that when they were to go together to negotiate the affairs of their country, to a city of their Enemies, could lay down all the difference betwixt themselves. Either we are not brethren, or else we should ask our selves this question, Why should we contend? Let all that are godly lay this to heart in time, that we may have that unity in affection, that we may live together as Brethren, and the Power of godlinesse may be carried on in the Land, and our united strength may be imployed for defence against the adversaries of Peace and Truth.
2.Direct.The second direction how to prevaile with God to raise the Nation, is, To advance those things that will make the name of God great in the Land: If we would have God to honour us with his blessings, we must study how to honour him by making his Name glorious.
There be 5 meanes, whereby the knowledge and service of God, and consequently his glory, be principally promoted:,
1. Good Magistrates, that will use their authority for the suppression of vice and prophanesse, and the encouragement of such as are godly. When God will enlarge the priviledges of his Church, he will give Kings to be nursing fathers, and Queens to be nursing mothers unto it, Isa. 49. 23. and Isa. 60. 3. Kings shalbe thy brightnesse. And ver. 16. Thou shalt suck the breasts of Kings. Whence we may take notice how great enemies they are to Religion and the glory of God, that would divest Christian Magistrates of their power to command and strengthen Ecclesiastical Reformation; or make it none of their duty to advance the knowledge and the true worship and service of God, and to crush prophanesse, and restrain and purge out such corruptions in Religion as are destructive to it, by their Civil sanctions.
2. The Ordinances of Jesus Christ. The administration of the Word, and Sacraments, and Prayer, &c. By these God doth dispence his Grace unto his servants, whereby they are enabled to believe and to walk according to the rule of Holinesse, and to do good works, whereby they glorifie their Father which is in heaven, and make his Name great.
In all the places where I shall record my Name, there I will meet you, and I will blesse you, Exod. 20. 24. God communicateth all his spiritual blessings in holy Ordinances: These are the Throne, out of which issue the seven Spirits, Rev. 4. 5. In this mountain shall the Lord of hosts make a feast of fat things to all people, Isa. 25. 6. In a feast are plenty, dainties, and varieties: So in Gods ordinances, not only a beginning, but a supply and increase of the choicest gifts and spiritual abilities to glorifie God, are communicated.
3. Able and godly Ministers, for the preaching of the Gospel, and dispencing of the mysteries of Christ, are choise instruments of making Gods name great in a Kingdom.
God doth use these as Co, workers with himself, for the planting and watering of grace in the hearts of his children, 1 Cor. 3. 6. 9. For this cause they are called sometimesFathers that beget us through the Gospel unto Christ, 1 Cor. 4. 15. sometimes Nurses or Pastors, that feed us with the milk of the Gospel, 1 Cor. 3. 2. Sometimes Stewards, that faithfully dispence the rich treasures of Jesus Christ unto all such as belong unto the election of God.
4. Order, or Government, according to the Word of GOD. If the holinesse of any people make the Name of God great, that is called upon them: If it be the honour of the husbandman, that his vineyard brings forth fruit which is amiable and usefull; Then it must needs be much for his honour also, that this vineyard and these fruits be preserved from waste or corruption. Now, Government, it is the hedge of Gods vineyard: A hedge is used, as for separation, to divide a Vineyard from common and open places; so for defence, to prevent it from the incursion of such as would pluck and destroy the fruits of it. Censures are Gods Pruning-knife, to lop off the dead boughs, that his trees may beare more of that fruit that he delights in: They are Godsmedicine, to drive out that leven that would sowre the whole lump of his people, 1 Cor. 5. . 5. 7.
5. The Saints. These are the magazines of Grace and Holines, and therefore no people in the world make the name of God so great and glorious as these do; nor doth God make any Nation so great and happy as that where his own people receive entertainment. When Israel were the only visible professors of truth and holinesse, Moses saith, Deut. 4. 7. Is there any Nation so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for?
Justin Martyr cals the Saints the Supporters of the world. [...]It is no paradox to tell you, That you may thank the Saints for your Wives, your Children, your Estates, your Honours, and all the comforts you enjoy; because when once the number of the Elect is compleat, all that remains in the world shall be burnt with fire.
Gods chosen people are called, A blessing in the midst of the land, Isa. 19. 24. and they are such a blessing as preserves all other blessings where they are. There is no such fortification can be made to any Nation, as the Christian entertainment of the Saints: for whose preservation, God will destroy both Kings and Kingdoms, Isa. 43. 3. 4.I gave Egypt for thy ransome; since thou wast precious in mine eyes, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give Men for thee, and People for thy life. When God intended to make Jerusalem victorious and prosperous, then he saith, The Governours of Judah shall say in their hearts, The inhabi [Page 25] tants of Jerusalem shall be my strength in the Lord of Hosts their God, Zach. 12. 5. The strength and blessings of God which make a Nation both secure and happy, are not so certainly brought in by any meanes in the world as by the prayers of his Saints to whom he saith, Concerning the workes of my hands command ye me, Isaiah 45. 11. according to that of Saint James, Jam. 5. 16. The effectuall fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
Now if these be the principall meanes to raise a Nation, and make it great, because they make the name of God great, from whom all blessings come, and who delights to make that people great, who most of all endeavour to make his name glorious: Let us learn from hence what to make the matter of our most earnest and constant prayers to God, namely, First,
That he would continue and increase the number of godly and zealous Magistrates, according to that direction of Saint Paul, 1 Tim. 2. 1, 2. I exhort therefore, that first of all supplications, Mayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for Kings, and for all that are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and a peaceable life, in all godlinesse and honesty.
Secondly, That the holy Ordinances of Jesus Christ may be kept from contempt, and propagated in their power and purity all the Kingdom over.
Thirdly, That the faithfull Ministers of the Gospel may have protection and just encouragement in their work, by the continuance and supply of an honorable maintenance in all the places of the land; and that the Universities may be purged, and that God would thrust sorth so many more faithfull labourers into his vinyard that the saving light of the Gospel may be carried into all the dark places of the land.
Fourthly, That a government warranted by the Word of God may be settled and perfected.
Fifthly, That all that are truly godly, may be cherished and have that entertainment in the land, that God may raise and bless the Kingdom for their sakes.
Now these meanes, Right Honorable Lords, which others can only further by their prayers, you are able to advance by your authority and power: Let it be therefore your care, to act as god-[Page 26]ly and zealous Magistrates in proving all your advantages which you have above other men, in advancing these meanes which may raise the Nation.
First, Improve your Authority: You have the power with others of making and disannulling Lawes; you have the power of rewards and punishments, which are the great wheeles upon which the generality of the world are turned this way or that way.
Secondly, Improve your examples: The Ordinances of God were never so esteemed and frequented, as when the godly Kings of Israel accounted it their happines to enjoy them and be present at them: witnesse that Passeover appointed by Josiah, 2. Chron. 35. 18. Like to which was no Passeover kept in Israel from the dayes of Samuel the Prophet. More may follow the light by one Sunne then by a thousand stars.
Thirdly, Improve your merits: Toward the relief of the Saints, or the encouragement of godly Ministers, one of you may do more then a thousand others.
Fourthly, Improve your opportunities: God hath now made you so great, and brought your adversaries so low, as there is nothing to be done for the House of God but you may do it.
Philip King of Macedon thought himself not so much engaged to his gods that he had a son by his wife Olympia, as that he had him then when he might have Aristotle to instruct him in those Sciences that might afterwards make him glorious in the world. It addes much to the greatnesse of your opportunities, that you have not only many thousands to joyn their prayers to your endeavours, but many in their severall Sphears are ready to contribute their best assistance for the furthering of all means that may conduce to the carrying on of true Religion and the power of godlinesse.
Consider, I beseech you, all the advantages yee have before others, are so many obligations above others to be faithfull in the Work of the Lord; you are but stewards (no more then other men) of what you have, and you must give an account: now he that hath his talent great, and his work small, will make but a [Page 27] sad reckoning when God shall render to every man according to his works. Euchrytes being asked whether he would be Craesus or Socrates? He answered, he would be Craesus living, and Socrates dying: but this cannot be, great men that will dye happily must live piously.
The Aethiopians anciently used to chuse the greatest men of [...] stature to be their Kings, because they would have them outwardly as well as inwardly accomplished for government God hath made you outwardly great; labour you to be inwardly holy, that so the work of raising this Nation by settling Peace and Truth may prosper in your hands, that you may not only be happy in your own persons, but in after times; be like Jehojada who was honoured because he had done good in Israel: and likewise receive a rich blessing upon your posterity.
Thirdly, A Third Direction how to prevaile with God to3.Direction. raise a Nation, is, the right doing of those duties, which may make our power great with God. I shall only speak of Three of these, and that in a word, because the time gives me warning to be very brief, and these are Fasting, Prayer, and Reformation.
God hath made large promises unto these; yet we use them, and obtain not the promises, and the reason is that which Hoseah gives, Hos. 6. 4. Your goodnesse is like the morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away. Our Fastings and Prayers they want that soul, and substance, and sincerity that God requires in them: we put off God with the shels of Duties, and therefore in some things God gives us but the shadowes of mercies. Let us raise our Duties, and God will raise his blessings.
First then raise your Fasts; and that, First,
In their End. Let your main end in Fasting be to get your sins pardoned and your souls purged, and the Land clensed of all abominations, that God may have more glory by your selves and others. All our Fasting is in vain, if God may truely say to us as he said to the Jewes, Zach. 7. 5. When ye fasted these seventy yeares, did ye at all fast unto me?
God accepts no such Fasts as are chiefly out of fear or custome.
2. In your Humiliation. Isaiah 58. 5. Is this the Fast that I have chosen, to bow down thy head like a bull rush? Be throughly [Page 28] sensible of your own vilenesse, yet be fully submissive to Gods pleasure under his corrections, Levit. 26. 41. Be truely and deeply afflicted in spirit for all your own sins, and for both the sins and miseries of others in the Kingdom, and for Gods displeasure against us. It is in vain to put sackcloth upon our loyns, and none upon our hearts, Psal. 51. 18. God owneth not dry Fasts, he cals for Fasting and Weeping, Joel 2. 13. Vessels that are brim full, if you do but stir them, they will run over. But all the sins and miseries of three Kingdoms can scarce pump a teare or a sigh from many of our hearts. Take heed of continuing in such Fasts; for if God cannot draw tears, he will draw blood from our hearts, when there shall be no remedy. Soulaffecting Fasts are raising Fasts, and no other.
Secondly, Raise your Prayers. Acceptable prayer will raise a Nation out of the dust, Psal. 102. 14. 17.
1. Raise your Fervencie. Jam. 5. 16. Fervencie prevaileth much. Jacob wrestled and prevailed with God, Hos. 12. 4. God hath long cryed to us, and we are not awakened sufficiently; And let us not think that lesse then our strongest cries will awaken God to rise up for us. God deals with us, as mothers with their children; while they only whimper, they are not much regarded: but if they begin to cry in earnest, and will not be quiet, then presently they take them and give them suck.
2. Raise your Faith. Faith is the strength of Prayer; nothing layes hold on God without this. Let us lean with confidence upon Gods strength and goodnesse, according to his promises; and then nothing is so difficult but God will effect it for us in the best season. Psal. 34. 10. The wals of Jericho fell down by faith. Psal. 22. 4. Our fathers trusted in thee, they trusted in thee, and thou didst deliver them.
Thirdly, Raise your Reformation, and this will raise the Nation. Amend your wayes throughly, Jer. 7. 5. True Reformation will make your Fasts prevailing Fasts. They turned every man from his evil way, and God saw their works, and repented of the evil he said he would do unto them, and did it not, Jonah 3. 9, 10.
It will make our Prayers prevailing Prayers, Isa. 5. 16.
Strive to grow and increase in Holinesse. If you would have England to be the Mount of Happinesse, you must make it first, as [Page 29] Judah was, the Mount of Holinesse, Zach. 8. 3. New wine must be put into new bottles. The way to enjoy great mercies for soule and body, is to get such a degree of Holinesse as will enable you to improve the choicest Mercies to Gods glory.
Raise therefore your Holinesse, First,
Above Formality. Let it be visible in your conversations, that ye have not only a form, but the power of Faith, and Love, and other graces of the Spirit.
2. Above Partiality. Allow your selves no Sin, but universally make conscience of every Duty, as Zachary and Elizabeth, walking in all the commandements of God.
3. Above Lukewarmnesse, or the lowest forme of Christians. Be holy as He is holy that hath called you, 1 Pet. 1. 15. Labour to reach the highest step of holinesse. You are raised to great hopes, you have the choicest means of Holinesse; Judgements to purge you, Mercies to draw you, Ordinances to edifie you: Walk therefore as becommeth a people of such hopes, of such helps: Let every Lust in you be like the house of Saul, that grew weaker and weaker; and every Grace like the house of David, that grew stronger and stronger, Perfecting Holinesse in the fear of God: That so God may prevent our fears, and remove our judgements, and raise us to that height in temporal and spiritual priviledges, that those promises may be made good to us, Jer. 3. 17. The time shall come that they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord, and all Nations shall be gathered unto it. And Isa. 27. 6. He shall cause them that come of Jacob, to take root; Israel shall blassome and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.
Both Houses and the Assembly kept a special day of Humiliation, to seek GOD for Direction about ChurchGovernment. Jan. 14. Mr. Stephen Marshal. M. J. Whitaker, 2 Chr. 26. 15, 16 Jan. 28. 1645. Mr. Gasper Hicks, Hos. 5. 15. Mr. Dan. Evance, 1 Sam. 2. 30. Feb. 25. Mr. Andrew Perne. Mr. Will. Jenkin, Hag. 1. 2. Mar. 25. Mr. Robert Harris. Mr. Tho. Case, Exod. 5. 22, 23. April 29 Mr. Thomas Foord. Mr. Reuben Easthrop. May 27. Mr. Francis Tailor, Gen. 35. 1. Mr. Nicholas Proffet. June 24. Mr. Robert Johnson. Mr. Charles Herle. July 29. Mr. Samuel Bolton. Mr. Simeon Ash. Octo. 28 Mr. Stephen Marshal, Ps. 8. 2. Mr. Will. Bridge, Zeph. 2. 3. Nov. 25. Mr. Will. Price, Ezra 9. 6, 7, 8. Mr. ohn WardJ. An extraordinary Fast, for removing the judgement of Rain and Waters. Dec. 9. Mr. Charles Herle. Mr. Francis Roberts, Ps. 51. 17. Dec. 30. Mr. William Goode, Amos 7. 5. Mr. Tho. Horton, Num. 32. 23. Jan. 28. Mr. Jos. Caryl, Jam. 4. 8. 1 part Mr. Rich. Vines, Ja. 4. 8. last p. Feb. 25. Mr. T. Goodwin, Ps. 105. 14. 15. Mr. Anth. Burgess, Num. 11. 12 Mar. 25. Mr. Sam. Bolton, Mat. 1. 21. Mr. Fran. Cheynel, Gen. 18. 19 Apr. 29. Mr. James Nalton, Jer. 13. 27. Mr. John Owen, Acts 16. 11. May 27. Mr. Rich. Heyrick, Hest. 4. 16. Mr.John Ward. June 24 Dr. Peter Smith. Mr. William Spurstowe. July 29. Mr. Joseph Caryl. Mr. Jeremiah Whitaker. Aug. 25. Mr. Daniel Cawdrey. Mr. Jer. Burroughs, Mat. 5. 6. Sept. 30 Mr. Joseph Symonds. Mr. Herbert Palmer, Isa. 58. 12 Oct. 28. Mr. John Maynard, Phil. 3 21. Mr. Nic. Lockier, Isa. 53. 10. Nov. 25 Mr. William Del, Heb. 9. 10. Mr. Christopher Love. An extraordinary Fast, for removing the judgement of Rain and Waters. Dec. 9. Mr. Jeremiah Whitaker. Mr. John Ward. Dec. 30. Mr. St. Marshal, 1 Chr. 12. 32. Mr. M. Newcomen, Heb. 4. 13.
Reader, Be pleased to take notice, Those whose Texts are not quoted, are not yet printed.
A Continuation of the Sermons preached upon the Dayes of Publique Thanksgiving, before both or either Houses of PARLIAMENT.
From April 2. 1646. To Novemb. 5. 1646.
- April 2.
- For the good successe of the Parliaments army in the west especially in Cornwaland disbanding of the Kings Horse there:
- Mr.Joseph Caryl, Psal. 118. 17.
- Mr.Hugh Peters, Psal. 31. 23.
- May 12.
- For the regaining and taking 12 severall Garrisons, viz. Excester, Barnstaple, &c. Before the Lords,
- Master Daniel Gawdrey.
- Master Richard Ley.
- Before the Commons,
- Mr.Samuel Torshel, Deut. 16. 20.
- Mr.Charles Herle.
- July 21.
- For the Surrender of Oxford, &c.
- Before the Commons,
- Mr.Henry Wilkinson, Numb. 23. 23.
- Mr.Walter Cradock, 1 John, 1. 3, 4.
- Sept. 8.
- For the Surrender of Worcester, &c.
- Before the Commons,
- Mr. Obadiah Sedgwick.
- Mr.Thomas Goodwin.
- Nov. 5.
- For the Deliverance from the Powder-Treason.
- Before the Lords,
- Mr. Obadiah Sedgwick
- Before the Commons,
- Mr. William Strong Ezra 9. 13, 14.
- Before the Lord Mayor, &c. at Pauls,
- Mr. Nathanael Hardy, Psal. 9. 16.