Die Mercurii 26, Martii, 1645.
Ordered by the Commons assembled in Parliament, That Sir Roger North, and Mr Cage doe give thankes to Mr Goode and Mr Ward for the great paines they took in the Sermons they preached this day, at the intreaty of the House of Commons, at St Margaretts Westminster, (it being the day of Publique Humiliation) and to desire them to print their Sermons. It is also Ordered, that none shall presume to print their Sermons without Licence under their hands writing.
H. Els. Cler. Parl. D. Com.
I Appoint Christopher Meredith to Print my Sermon, and no man else.
TO THE HONOVRABLE House of COMMONS Assembled in Parliament.
AT your Command this Sermon was Preached, by your order it hath been printed, and now its humbly offered to your hands, and under your Honourable Patronage made Publque to the view of the world. I know well that the same Sermon, as to the life of it, is scarcely the same in the hearing, and in the reading: But that acceptation which it found when it came frō the Pulpit, gives me hope that it will not be cast aside, as disrelishing or unprofitable; now its come from the Presse. The Lord command a blessing along with it unto you, and make you and your unwearied labours, a blessing to the Church and Kingdome.
So prays Your most unworthy servant in the work of the Ministerie.
A SERMON PREACHED before the Honorable House of Commons, at their late solemn monthly Fast, March 26. 1645.
PSAL. 82. 1.‘He judgeth among the Gods.’
There needs no Apology for the choyce of this Text at this time, when those who are called Gods are met in the solemn assembly to judge themselves before him, who stands daily in the assembly of the mighty and iudgeth among them.
It requires as little labour to make out the context and coherence of the words; they lye in the very threshold or enterance of the Psalme: and the Psalmes are as so many Ilands that have no continuitie or neighbourhood with their fellow Psalmes.
And if you read but a little forward on in the Psalme, you may as quickly discerne whither they tend, and what is their scope: and therein also spye something that will render them both sutable to the Congregation, and seasonable for the day; for that which is contained in the following verses is the use and application of the Doctrine that is held forth in this verse.
A twofold doctrine; the one of Gods presence, the other of Gods presidence among the Gods: the latter of the two is the subject of my Text. He iudgeth among the Gods.
There are three Mysteries folded together in it; there is one God, and there be Gods many: and there is one Act, both his and theirs; or rather his amongst them. We must enquire who He is, who they are; and what it is which He doth among them.
First, who He is; we may see him in the first word of the Psalme, for he that standeth in the assembly of the mighty, is He that judgeth among the Gods, God is He.
The Pronoune He doth not stand by it selfe in the Originall as in the Translation, but is involved in the Verbe; yet so he is not hidden but proclaimed, it speakes him that he may be seene, for Gods workes are his Name: and possibly it might be so ordered on purpose, that an hint might be given to them over whom the Name of God is called, to count it more honour to be knowne by the worke which they doe, and the use they are of, then by the office they are in, or the titles that they beare.
Our English idiome or manner of speaking, doth necessarily require a more expresse specification of Him, and a fitter terme to decipher him could not be found: for being the prime Active Being, He cannot be defined by any thing but himselfe: and therefore when Moses asked him his Name,Exod. 3. 14. he gave it him thus: I am, that I am, and bad him tell the children of Israel, I am had sent him, and speakes himselfe by the Prophet,Esa. 48. 12. in these termes, I am He: yet if any man hath a thought that this is too low and unbecoming an expression of the Divine Maiestis; and it had beene better to have mentioned Him by some more excellent Name, or glorious Attributes; let him thinke this rather, that if the Holy Ghost moved holy men to speake thus homely of the Lord of glory, Jam. 2. 1. the God of glory; Act. 2. 2. it may well beseeme those who are but called Gods to account it no disparagement, if they be either spoken to, or spoken of, though every sentence be not larded with the repetition of Titles.
Secondly, who They are. The Gods are All that deale in the managing of publique Affairs; as they stand, (some of them at least) ranked in their order, and distinguished by their imployment,Pro. 8. 15, 16. Prov. 8. 15, 16. Kings, Princes, Nobles, and all the Judges of the earth, even All, whether supra or subordinate, from the Head of Gold to the feet of yron and clay; for so the Psalmist expounds himselfe in the following part of the Psalme;Joh. 10. 35. and our Saviour confirmes and warrants the interpretation.
Thirdly, […] what it is which He doth among them: He iudgeth: that is, Ruleth, or Reigneth; for the word must not be restrained as sometimes in Scripture (for it is variously used) to the giving of sentence, or doing of justice according to a prescript law; but must be extended to all that belongs to dominion, or government; and comprehends all that pertaines to the ordaining, upholding, directing, and disposing of Magistracie; and ordering, or moderating of humane affaires thereby.
The Hebrew Text hath it in the Future Tense, […] to signifie the continuation of this act among them through all successions and in all joynts of time; and is accordingly rendered by severall Interpreters, He hath, He doth, He will judge.
There is yet another word in the Text, and we cannot well passe on till we know the meaning of that also: Among, […] for so it is paraphrased by the Translators: it primarily signifies in the middest; and intimates as much as in and by them, all and every of them joyntly and severally, superiour, inferiour, good or bad; whether doing good or ill. Some observing that it is many times applied to the heart and entrailes, because in the middest of the body, and metaphorically transferred to the thoughts of the minde, Psal. 64. 6. […] (because nothing is more inward then the agitation of a matter in the thoughts of the heart) doe therefore conceive that the Psalmist intended hereby,Psal. 64. 6. an influence of God upon their very thoughts, and the preparations of the heart. Others expound it openly, and read it thus; He will iudge the Gods openly; Job 34. 24, 26. as parallel with that of Elihu, Job 34. 26. He striketh the mighty as wicked men, in the open sight of others, or place of beholders. Now though I know not whether we may reject the other two; the rather because we may often observe the Holy Ghost choosing words not of ambiguous, but of manifold signification to make the sense not more doubtfull, but more comprehensive: Yet I choose to embrace the first, because it seemes to be the most naturall and Grammaticall, as the most obvious and familiar sense.
Having thus made out the exposition of the words, and thereby the interpretation of the Text, we may the better take our aime and make our observations.
The three parts of the Text (for so it naturally divideth it selfe) Who, What, and Among whom, afford us three points of doctrine.
1. The first is this, That God is the first, the chiefe, the onely universall Iudge, and absolute Monarch: He is Psal. 50. The God of Gods,Rev. 19. 16. the King of Kings,Eccles. 5. 8. the Lord of Lords,Jude 4. 1 Tim. 6. 15. Higher then the Highest,Psal. 83. 18. the onely Lord, the onely Potentate; onely the most Highest.
2. The second is this,Deut. 1. 17. That the judgement is the Lords, and he is with men in the judgement;2 Chron. 19. 6. or as it is in Psal. 22. 28.Psal. 22. 28. The kingdome is the Lords: and he governeth among the nations.
3. The third is this, That those persons who have the honour to have the power to exercise Authoritie amongst men, are greater in dignitie and neerer to God in eminencie then other men.
The second of the three, that is drawn from that golden tache which couples the two extreames of the proposition, hath in it the marrow of all the Text, and is the life of the Law in the whole Psalme, for so our Saviour cals it, when he cites a part of it,Joh. 10. 34. Joh. 10. 34. and therefore I shall pitch onely upon that at this time.
I propounded it in the words of the Scripture, and may therefore spare the labour of citing those places for proofe. In other termes take it thus. In the delegating of power, and substituting of men to beare rule amongst men, He neither devests himselfe of any piece of his Soveraigne Authoritie; nor after the manner of Kings in their Kingdomes, appoints the office, assignes the honour, limits the jurisdiction, prescribes the rule, gives the countenance, concurs sometimes to helpe, and sometimes cals to account, and otherwise withdraw himselfe from the worke, and take his pleasure; but is an immediate Agent in the judgement all along, from the first ordaining the power through the ordering of every matter, to the over ruling and disposing of the last issues and events thereof.
There is the same influence of God into Government, and all that beare rule, or serve in it; and that which is done by them, though they goe by their owne principles to their owne ends, that there is in the generall administration of providence through the world, the various occurrences therein,Joh. 5. 17. and the motions of those inanimate and irrationall creatures who are acted and over-ruled to their ends by a Power without themselves:Quamdiu creatura est, tamdiu creatur a Deo. so as it may be truly said of the ordering of the concernments of men, by the Lord; and in the same sense as our Saviour spake, by the upholding of other things by the word of his Power;Idem esse quod ab in itio a Deo acceperunt ab eodem continenter accipiunt. My Father worketh hitherto, and I worke. He worketh in the conservation of the matter and being of things: for by the continuall flowing in of the same. Power upon them which gave them their first existence, they continually receive their subsistance, as by a continuation of creation:Esa. 44. 24. He maketh all things, He stretcheth forth the heavens, He spreadeth abroad the earth by himselfe.
He worketh in the holding up of the frame of heaven and earth, and all things in them; for they abide not together as a building compact by joynts and bands; but as a chaine of rings by the vertue of the Loadstone, as many pieces in the hollow of a mans hand, which if drawne away they fall in sunder.Colos. 1. 17. All things consist in him.
He worketh in the movings of all the creatures,Vid. Psal. 104. & Hos. 2. 21, 22. according to their natures, and the order for them in the beginning: He bringeth out their host by number, Intelligamus vocem Dei effectricem esse natura, &c. he calleth them all by names, by the greatnesse of his might, for that He is strong in power, not one faileth. Every wheele in the great Engine of Creation, turne that the voyce and by the Spirit of him that sits above upon the Throne.Jussit Deus currere naturam aquarion, ac nunquam deficit, illo perpetuo compellente ipsam praecepto. Basil. Haxa. Ho. 4. Esa 40. 26. Ezek. 1.
In like manner God is operative in the bringing in of Government; the upholding of Authoritie; the placing or displacing of Persons; the inclining of their spirits; the ordering, or confounding of their counsels; the exerting of their power, and the bringing about of the severall effects of all these things.Rom. 13. 1. He ordaines the powers that be. He looseth and bindeth the collars of Princes. Psa. 75. 4, 5, 6. He putteth down one, and setteth up another. Pro. 21. 1. He turneth even the heart of the King whither soever he will. Pro. 8. 15. He is understanding, and by him Princes decree iustice. Jer. 1. 2 King. 22. If there be a perversenesse of spirit mingled amongst them, He causeth them to erre in the worke. Pro. 29. 26. And though men seeke the favour of the Ruler, yet every mans iudgement cometh from the Lord. And the good or the evill that is in the Land, He doth it.Esa. 45. 7. He makes peace, He creates evill: the Lord doth all these things. So that we may boldly say, there is no power in the world, no person is in place, or hath abilitie to exercise authoritie, or hath it not; there is not a devise in any mans heart, not a designe in any Councel, not a Law made or executed, not an Action undertaken, not an alteration in any State, but the Hand of the Lord worketh all these things: for the judgement is his, and men accomplish his pleasure though they doe not know him, as Cyrus, Esa. 44. 45. & Chap. 45. they fulfill his charge when they drive on their owne designes, as the Assyrian, Esa. 10. 6, 7, 8. they bring about his purposes when they please their owne humours; as Rehoboam and his Counsellors, 1 King. 12. They execute his judgements, when they serve their owne lusts; as Baasha, and Jehu, 1 King. 16. 7. Hos. 1. 4. They doe his worke when they goe against his word; as Herod and Pilate, and the Gentiles and the Jewes, Acts 4. 27, 28. with their wicked wills they effect his good will, as those that crucified the Lord Iesus Christ, Acts 2. 28. Him being delivered by the determinate counsell and foreknowledge of God ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slaine.
To clear this truth and prevent objections we must know, First, that the God of the spirits of all flesh can flow in upon 1 the spirits of men both imperceivably, without observation, as the soul acts in the body: or as the light entreth the aire, or the shadow passeth on the dyall without any noise, and irresistibly in a way congruous to their nature, without any violence to the liberty of the will in any particular action or election; as a wise man can make the winde which bloweth where it listeth, to convey his ship, or grinde his corne; or use the sagacity of the dog to seek what he hath lost, or fetch what he hath cast aside. And this is the excellency of his wisdom.
Secondly, we must consider that God and man may concurre 2 in the same actions, and neither his holinesse have fellowship with their wickednesse, nor their injustice be excused by his righteousnesse: God and man work upon different principles, in divers wayes to severall ends each his own, and in such a case every mans reason will tell him the same action receives not the same censure or judgement.Idem quum duo faciunt, non est idem. The holy God doth not at any time infuse any lust into any mans heart, but brings to light and brings to judgement what is in man, ordering well what they do ill, as in the hardning of Pharaohs heart he offereth occasions which may as well be tak […]n by the right ear as the left, withholdeth the grace which he is not bound to give, excites and confirms that animosity which is naturall,Rom. 1. 21. 28. gives them up to a minde void of judgement, to do things which are not convenient, who have pleasure in unrighteousnes,2 Thes. 2. 10. 11. 12. that they may be filled with the fruit of their own doings, which is just, & all this while, as Christ saith by the devils when they speak a lie,Nec enim lex aequior ulla &c. so it must be said of the children of wickednes when they do wickedly, They do it of their own.
His working is not confounded with theirs, and therefore his purity not blended with their ungodlinesse, nor their unrighteousnesse blanched by his justice, more then the beams of the sunne and the steame and stinch of the dunghill in the exhalation.Deut. 32. 4. 5. His work is perfect, for all his wayes are Iudgement, A God of truth and without iniquity, iust and right is he. They have currupted themselves. And this is the glory of his holinesse.
And in this case the manner and course of government in the kingdomes of the Earth may not unfitly be compared to the musick of an Organ, where the men like the pipes yeeld the sound, the inspiration of the almighty, like the winde in the sound-board, gives the life, or the activity, and the harmony or the beauty of the order is by his disposing, and if there be a false or an harsh note, the fault is in the pipe, and not in him who sets and playes.
And even these disorders in goverment like some discords in musick, are by him ordered well, and for good.
For though we sometimes imagine that things would be better if God were in the judgement, yet the contrary would be confessed if either we did not of ignorance or unskilfulnesse mistake evil for good, and good for evil, we daily weight at the common beam of opinion, and see with eyes of flesh as man seeth, whereas if we went into the sanctuary and measured all things by their conformity to the will of God,Etiam hoc bonum Domine, quicquid divina majestas effecerit id rectius et melius. and judged of them by their referrence to his ends, in stead of quarrelling and complaining we would acknowledge that every thing in providence were good, and nothing could be better, but whatsoever God doth is best.
Or secondly, if we had the patience to waite the end of the 2 Lord, or tarry till the fift Act and a Scene or two passe in that, when things begin to concenter towards their issues; would not ye condemn him of folly that upon the first motion of a businesse, or catching at some passage in a debate, should go away, and censure your proceedings before the matter were ripe for the question, why? so is he that judgeth before the time.
Surely if we understood the purpose of the onely wise God, or could behold things in their tendency thitherward, whereas now in our hast we are apt to charge God with folly, Psal. 73. 17. and say to him, What doest thou? we would condemn our selves or brutish foolishnesse and adore the depths of that wisdom,Rom. 11. 33. and those wayes that we are not able to comprehend.
Or thirdly, if we had the largenesse of heart to behold in 3 one view the whole systeme of government, or if like Lucian his Icaromenippus we could get on high and have a prospect of the whole series of order all together; possibly now while we look upon some one particular man or some one cause, and some few providences about those, abstracted or divided from the rest, we may think it were better for them if it were otherwise with them, but if we knew all or could consider that which is done in the reference to the whole,Propter ordinem univers […]. we would discern and agree that the present state were the best;Read 1 Cor. 12. verse 4 and onwards. it might be better for every common souldier as to his individuall, if he were a Commander, but it cannot be so for the Army, for as in the naturall body, so in the body politique, if the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing, &c. there must be disproportion & inequality, & difference of dispensations, diversity of gifts & administratiōs, that there may be order.Aliter iudicandum est de eo qui habet curam alicuius particularis et de provisore universali. We must therefore otherwise judge of him that commandeth in chief, and him that hath but a particular charge. He that composeth a song of many parts, must not carry on the musick so full in every part as he that sets but for one voyce; if a gardener had but the care of some one plant to husband it to perfection, he were bound to tend it for the fullest advantage of its growth, but when he hath the keeping of a garden or an orchard, he must slip and prune and cut some plants, and foster and manure, and suffer others to luxuriate and run out as much as they can, that there may be order in the whole.
4 Or lastly, if we would distinguish of times. Before the sin and fall of man, while there was no breach between God and our first parents, there was a quiet uniformity in all the world like the glory of Heaven shadowed in the serenity of the upper region of the Air; and if men had continued in their innocency, there would have been in all the World as there was in Paradise, a very heaven upon earth; but now since the curse, the whole Creation being subjected to vanity, and travailing in pain together, till it be delivered from the bondage of corruption, no wonder if it be ill with men, and they be made to groane under much misery, when all the disorder that is in the World is for their sinne and for their judgement.
Againe,Numb. 23. 21. when God beholds no iniquitie in a Land, no perversenesse in a people; that is, no publique Idolatry, no universally over-spreading pollution, no specially provoking transgressions; there may then be peace and safetie, and libertie, and every man may sit quietly under his Vine and Fig-tree;Esay. 6. 3. and they may call one another: but, If they rebell against him, and vexe his holy Spirit, and he become their enemy, who shall be offended; If He breake the Tables, remove the Glory, call them forth to Iudgement, and put the Staffe, or the Sword of his indignation into the hands of men, and give them a charge to doe execution upon one another; especially if the Gods will judge unjustly, and will not understand, but walke on in darknesse, lesse cannot be expected, but that God should arise to judge the earth, and all things with good justice on his part be turned out of course. Even amongst men, when a Kingdome is divided within it selfe by the wickednesse of evill Counsellors, and the madnesse of a distempered people; a Parliament may doe many things in maintaining a warre, imposing of taxes, imprisoning of persons, and sequesting of estates, in that juncture of time excusable, nay justifiable, by the supreame Law, which at another time all the world, even themselves would condemne as most unjust. Doe but take this into the Mount of transfiguration, and we shall instantly lay our hands upon our mouthes, and glorifie God and be thankfull: whereas now we murmur and complaine there is so much disorder; we may stand amazed, and blesse God there is so little.Gen. 18. 25. But I need not plead for God, nor give in evidence for the Iudge of all the earth; the rather because there is a conscience in man, both him that offendeth, and him that is offended at it, which condemnes the guilty, and justifieth God when he is judged.
There is but another difficulty that lies in our way to hinder our passage, and that is a conceit of the impossibility of this thing, because of the multiplicitie of operations, and diversities of administrations in a world of places, in every moment of time. The Answer is, that if the occasions be various and manifold, suppose them infinite; God is infinite also; and there is the same proportion of infinite to infinite that there is of one to one: if one man can doe one worke, and ye being many, may be held sufficient for the many concernments of the numerous people of the whole Land; perhaps of the three Kingdomes, where the number of persons are thousands, many ten thousands more then your selves, why should it be marvell in our eyes that one God of immense being, whose perfections are his nature, should be able every where, among all men, to worke all in all: Doth not Nature teach us that the Sunne hath influence upon all creatures within the Firmament of heaven, and is a concurrent cause to their being and activitie; now if this may be affirmed of the creature, how much more may the other be beleeved of the Almightie Creator? and this is the praise of his All sufficiencie.
As for the imagination of some men, who measuring the glory of God, by the vanitie of man, doe therefore judge it unworthy of such a Maiestie to stoope beneath the decreeing in the counsell of his owne will, and the commanding of such things by his word, to the working and effecting of every or some particulars by his owne hand; it is scarce worth the mentioning, for men but make a vertue of necessitie; and therefore Princes doe not descend to particulars, because they cannot, the meane while hiding the infirmitie of nature, under the fantasie and pompe of State. Story hath made Xerxes famous for but distinguishing the persons, and calling by their names the severall soldiers in his vast Army: and Caesar for his being able to dictate to five or sixe Scribes in divers matters at the same time: in what admiration would they have had the person of that Monarch (if any such had been found) that could comprehend in his understanding,Prima causa est omnino indeflexibilis, i. e. us (que) adeo bona ut semper importet in fluxum ad esse operis. carry levell in his memory, give directions by his command but to every officer cōcerning every affaire of State? Now go we up by way of eminencie, and this very thing will be found not onely the perfection of Gods knowledge, but the abundance of his goodnesse.
Having thus spread and opened the Doctrine, and made the light of it cleare and evident, we may now goe on to the confirmation and demonstration of the truth thereof; for which purpose if any further proofe be required then what hath already been alledged occasionally,
1. We may see it very plainely in that emblematicall Vision represented in the first of Ezekiel, Ezek. 1. where the living creatures that stood by wheeles, and were commanded by the voyce, and moved by the Spirit of him that sate upon the Throne,vers. 5. had the likenesse of a man, and they had the hands of a man under their wings on their foure sides, and they foure had the face of a man; as of other creatures, to signifie this; that the ordering of humane affaires is a great part, the greatest part of God in the administrations of providence; and if this thing had not beene comprehended in it, the Vision had not served for that end for which it was exhibited, viz. the confirming of the faith, and corroborating of the spirit of the Prophet, that he might preach the things to be revealed to him, with the greater confidence, and more full assurance; because the accomplishment and effecting of them depended much upon the managing, and the issues of government among men.
2. We may read it at large in many particular instances, Iob 12. vers. 9.Job 12. 16. and from the sixteenth vers. to the end of the Chapter: Who knoweth not in all these, that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this? with him is strength and wisdome, the deceiver and the deceived are his; he leadeth away Counsellors spoiled, and maketh the Iudges fooles; he looseth the bond of Kings, and girdeth their loines with a girdle; he leadeth away Princes spoiled, and overthroweth the mighty: he removeth away the speech of the trusty, and taketh away the understanding of the aged; he poureth contempt upon Princes, and weakeneth the strength of the mighty; he discovereth deep things out of darknesse, &c. i. e. The rule, and the power, and the skill of government is of the Lord; and there happeneth nothing, whether among the wise and prudent, but even the wicked and crafty, and such are seduced by their evill counsels, or over-reached by their wiles; so that nothing is done but he restraines it within certaine bounds, and reduceth it to his ends according to his most just and holy will. But there needs no Paraphrase, the words speake their owne meaning plainly.
3. It is all gathered together and abridged into a short summe,Prov. 8. 15, 16. Prov. 8. 15, 16. By me Kings reigne, Princes decree iustice; by me Princes rule, and Nobles, even all the Iudges of the earth. They are the words of a greater then Solomon,[…] the Lord Jesus Christ, the power of God, and the wisdome of God: […] and they clearely hold forth this truth, that All the great men of the earth doe shine in the beames of his Majestie; the highest of all exercise authoritie: Counsellors of State give advice; such as have ashare in the Legislative power, make Statutes and Ordinances convenient for the occasions; Militarie men manage the Militia; the Nobilitie and Gentrie are eminent and usefull in a Kingdome; and all that have any hand in the distributing of justice, or execution of the law, both are and serve in their places, in him and by him; whether for the land, or for correction, or mercy, Job 37. 13. as Elihu speakes of the raine, Iob 37. 13.
But I shall produce no more testimonies of Scripture, the rather because this mysterie is not among those deepe things which are hid in God, and cannot be discovered otherwise then by revelation;Rom. 1. 19. for that which may be knowne of God herein is manifest in men, for God hath shewed it to them.
First, There is a light of it shining in mens minds by nature. Whence els was it,Ephes. 2. 12. that the very heathens without God in the world did sacrifice to God,A Jove Prin […]ipium. make triall by Auguries, and consult with the Oracles, in all great undertakings, and in all difficult and hazardous cases applied themselves to their deities according to their blinde devotions?Quam volum […] licet nos amemus, tamen nec numero Hispanos, &c. sed pietate ae religione at (que) hac una sapientia quod Deorum immortalium numine omnia regi gubernari (que) perspeximus omnes gentes nationesque superavimus. Cic. Whence els was it, that their Lawgivers pretended to have received all their rules of Government out of some divine hand? doubtlesse there was some religion in their superstition, and some truth in their very fables. Heare one of them speake for all the rest, what their faith of this was: Flatter we our selves as much as we please, yet we have not overcome the Spaniards by number; nor the French by strength; nor the Carthaginians by craft; nor the Greeks by wiles; but by Piety and Religion: and by this onely wisdome, that we have discerned, and doe acknowledge that all things are governed by the power of Gods.
Secondly, there is a law of nature concerning it, and men shew their workes of that law written in their hearts by an universall abhorrencie of Anarchie, and submitting themselves to Authoritie, rather Tyranny we say then Anarchy; Better live where nothing is lawfull, then where every thing; neither have there any where, or at any time, beene found such sonnes of […], as have desire to be absolutely without a Ruler among them. In the greatest Insurrections and Rebellions, nothing more hath beene affected then a change of Government; the very Anabaptists themselves erected a government among themselves, and made themselves a King. Thus the currencie of it through the world sheweth something more then Gods Image and superscription upon it; for though possibly the basenesse of some people may have given occasion to some persons to put a yoake upon them; or ambition of some Nimrod may have incited him to usurpe Authoritie over others; the arts and insinuations of crafty men may have introduced it in some places; the pompe and lustre of Magistracie may have set it up in other; and the benefit thereof by a benigne and prudent administration of it, may have made many willing to beare the burthens of it; yet considering what an humour of libertie and Independencie; what an itch of being Gods to themselves runs in the corrupt bloud of all man-kinde by nature, it is impossible to imagine that all Nations from the beginning; nay all men in all their generations should of themselves stoope to government, and yeeld it honour and subjection, unlesse God were in the judgement. It is an Argument like that of the Apostle, for the greatnesse of the mysterie of Christ,1 Tim. 3. 16. […], without controversie, or by universall consent, &c.
Thirdly, that diverse kinde or degree of honour which waits upon men in authority, according as they use it well or ill, speakes something to this purpose; Honour goeth alwayes along with Power, as the shadow followeth the body, but evil men that transgresse in the judgement, receive it blended with contempt or hatred, or base fear, or flattery, and with much diminution, but such as are good and do good have it cast upon them with love and reverence, and abundance of affection. Wicked Magistrates and corrupt Officers are worshipped, as the devil by the poor Indians, that they may not doe them mischief; but the just and godly men after Gods own heart, are clothed upon with some of the raies of Gods own Majesty. Certainly the hearts of men would never after this manner be drawne to or from them that judge in the earth, unlesse he that sitteth in the Heavens did judge amongst them, more then the needle in the compasse would turn to or from a piece of Iron, if it did not act by the vertue of the Loadstone that had toucht it.
Fourthly, this is yet made more manifest (as the heat of the Sunn in the reflection) by the difference of the spirits of publique persons and private men, in the same men, in the place of Power and out of that relation. Private persons are self centered like clods of the earth, and their providence is like that of the Pismire, a wise and industrious creature for it self, but many times mischievous to the garden or orchard where it is harbored: but publique persons are turned into other men, 1 Sam. 10. 6. and have a publique spirit, as Saul when he was anointed to be King; and the seventy Elders called to assist Moses to the government. I appeal to your selves, had you such thoughts, such cares, such designes, your mindes so inclined, so resolved, so prepared, so fixed before you were chosen to be Trusters for your Countries, as since you came to sit in Parliament? I do not say every man is thus affected, the more is the pity, but this I say, commonly and for the more part there is an affection sutable to the relation. And this also sheweth God amongst them.
Fifthly, the raising or sinking, the enlarging or straitning of their hearts according to the work of God in hand, or about to be done, doth as manifestly argue the working of God in them, as the unevēnesse of activity in the limbs doth prove the animating and the moving of the body by the soul, or the inequality of valour and strength in Shamgar, Gideon, Samson and other the Iudges and Worthies of old did declare that the Spirit of God came upon them, and did move them at times.
Sixthly, there is some further evidence and demonstration of this in the libertie, the confidence, the peace, the triumph, the heaven on the one hand, and again on the other the pendulousnesse, the fears, the jealousies, the very hell that is in mens consciences as they lesse or more conscienciously or as I may so speak, with the minde that is in God, serve their generations, or do for, or against him, or the dictates of his deputy with them, The righteous is bold as the Lion, but the wicked flies when no man pursues. But I shall not need to alleadge Scripture or give an instance for this,Rom. 2. 15. when every mans conscience beares witnesse to it, their thoughts accusing or excusing one another.
Seventhly, It may be perceived by the slumbering or awakening of an expectation in men generally, and chiefly by the inclination or disposition of the hearts of the Lords remembrancers towards God in prayer, according as any great change is to be made in the kingdomes of the World.
When things are to continue in one stay, there is not perceivable any unusuall stirring in mens spirits; but when the Lord is about to take up a controversie, and enter into judgement with a Nation, then mens hearts begin to fail them for feare, and their spirits shrink up and start back with misgivings and presagings of evil to come, and if the time of deliverance be not yet, there is an indisposition to, and heartlesnesse in prayer and even such as wait for the vision withhold prayer,Job 15. 4. not of hypocrisie or self-guiltinesse, as Eliphaz charged Job, but as by a restraint upon their spirits by something from without, as if the Lord were forbidding them to pray. But if the salvation be drawing nigh, though there be no appearance of it, nor can one disern any probability of such a thing in the signes of the times, yet there is a spirit of grace and supplication poured out upon them, and their soules are drawne forth as to meet the Lord, and salute, and embrace their mercies; and they reach forth their hearts in an earnest expectation of some good; and speake one to another. And if God be carrying on a worke in favour of his Church, though many crosse providences intervene, yet they send up fervent effectuall prayers; they multiply prayers as the Cocks crow thick towards the morning, and they follow on to seek the Lord, and give him no rest till he heare them; as we read in the stories of Daniel, and Ezra, and Nehemiah. I doubt not but many of us can remember some yeares since, when men bare rule over us at their pleasures, and the measure of their iniquity was not yet full, and the judgement was still in brewing; with what an Asinine patience we bore all oppressions, and couched downe like Issachar betweene the burdens, and thought that rest was good, and had no heart to lift up a prayer: but a little before the wheele began to turn, and since the Lord remembred mercy in wrath, and revived his worke, and made us see our tokens again, who hath not found himself as going bound in the spirit to take hold upon the Name of the Lord, to wrestle with him by prayer and supplication? and who may not have observed the alterations in affairs to have answered very apparently this disposition of heart towards God? Now what ever other men think of these things, it plainly seems to me, that as the flying of the fowle, and the going of the cattell into their shelters before a storme; and their coming forth again about the breaking of it away,Job 36. doth shew concerning the vapour; so this different frame and temper of spirit in men about such seasons, and in such junctures of times, doth declare concerning that Divine influence whereof we are now speaking.
Eightly, though we cannot make observation of the time and way of Gods illapse upon men and their actions, yet there is something observable in the manner of the bringing in and carrying on of things that shew an higher hand then mans in the work. I mean the many various accidentall dispensations of providences, very chances as men term them, that create seasons and advantages for severall purposes and start occasions, and minister opportunities for Counsells, together with the admirable ballancing of affaires, casting of the scales, now on this side, then on that, sometimes interrupting, confounding, preventing, disappointing, and tumbling of Counsells headlong; at other times reviving, advancing, incouraging and prospering of parties and causes that any man may see it is done on purpose, that there may be time and place for such judgements as none but God can do, that he may get him a Name. Now though we doe not much mark these things in the instant of time whē they happen, yet if we cast our thoughts backe, and bring times past into observation, we must needs make this judgement, that the things which God first causeth to come to passe, do offer the thoughts, and usher in the devices, and lead on the contrivances of men all along in all their windings from the beginning to the ending: and consequently be convinced concerning this, as Saul was for himselfe when the signes happened to him,1 Sam. 10. 6, 7. whereof the Seer had foretold him, That God was with him, and the Spirit of God was come upon him, and directed him to doe as the occasion served.
Ninthly, This invisible working power and Godhead of God is made very visible, and may be clearly seen in the issues and events of mens counsells and actions; compare them with their next causes, the instruments and meanes appearing in the worke, and they will be found many times so disproportionable to them, so utterly unlike, so farre short or beyond, so much beside or contrary to the intentions of the actors, and the expectation of all men, many of them such marvellous works, so fearefully and wonderfully done, as it is very hard to discerne whence they arose, or how they came to passe. We cannot think seriously of some of them without admiration,Psa. 126. 1, 2, 3. as the people when the captivity of […] was turned; and the very enemies are sometimes forced to confesse, as the Magicians when the dust of the land became lice,Exod. 8. 19. This was the finger of God; and the Egyptians when their hoste was troubled at the Red sea;Exod. 14. The Lord fighteth for them. Might I but have the libertie to preach as the Prophets did of old, or to make a rehearsall of the great workes of God done of late amongst our selves,Deut. 29. 2. as sometimes Moses and Joshua did before the people.Ioshua 24. Nothing were more easie then to line this as all the rest of the observations before mentioned with examples out of our owne Storie. When the Service booke was first imposed upon our neighbour Church of Scotland, and the first reading thereof was so violently opposed by the rude multitude; did either partie so much as foresee or forethinke, what hath followed upon it ever since? Who put it into the minds of those Souldiers who were first raised for the North, at the same time in every corner of the Land to make an attempt, and give the first overture of a Reformation? How came the wheele to be turned in this Kingdome, as in the beginning of this Parliament, when no one man was removed out of place or favour? when the Kings Councell advised him to call a Parliament, had they contrived the remedy of so many grievances, the making of such Acts and Ordinances, the discovery of such deeds of darkenesse, the promoving of a Reformation thus far, with many other happy births of the present Parliament. When they counseld him to come into the House, and demand the Honourable Members of it, to set up his Standard and levie warre against his own people, and to publish such Declarations as have been sent abroad in the world, did they purpose the security of the Parliament, the alienating of the hearts of the people from their faction, the losse of the lives of so many great persons of their owne partie, the ingaging of the two Kingdomes, in a solemne League and Covenant, the provoking and incouraging of the City of London, and other associated Counties to unite amongst themselves for their owne safety and the reliefe of others, had they plotted these or almost any other consequence of those desperate counsels. When Prince Rupert went to York and marched out again to Marston-Moor, did he intend the Routing and Ruining of his own Army, and those that he had drawne forth to joyne with him, that the City of Yorke might be the sooner surrendred, and Newcastle reduced, and the strength of the King be broken in those Northerne parts for so much advantage to the Parliament?
Doubtlesse your thoughts cannot but outrun me, and prevent me the naming of a world of other things that have happened both in counsell and in warre, both within your owne walles, and in every corner of the Kingdome, which if they be layd by their occasions, or by the men and means whereby they have beene done, will either be such as they that had to doe about them, will bee unwilling to heare of them, ashamed to own them, or else too great, too high to be ascribed to the policy or the power of men. Now such occurrences as these,Hab. 3. 4. are bright beames out of his hand, hidings of his power, the sparklings and shinings forth of the Majesty of God, accommodated to our capacity, that by occasion of such unlikely and unlooked for events, our eyes may be drawne upwards to take notice of his glory in the governing of the world. They are like to wonders and miracles in other Providences, and have the same use. We may read it,Isai. 41. 18. 19. Isai. 41. 18, 19, 20. I will open rivers in high places, and fountaines in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wildernesse a poole of water, &c. Rivers use to runne in valleys, and springs flow from the hilles. It is a rare thing to finde pooles of water, or see trees that need much moysture, to grow in a dry and sandy desert; but I will step out of the common round, saith God, and doe some things unusuall, That they may see and know and consider and understand together, verse 20. that the hand of the Lord hath done this, Iob 9. 11. and the holy One of Israel hath created it, Brallward. lib. 1 cap. 3. p. m. for the more part he goeth by us, and we see him not, he passeth on, but we perceive him not; Therefore sometimes he worketh some things extraordinary, that we may be convinced of his hand in all that is ordinary.
Again, consider them, and the working of them out in reference to the first and highest cause, there is such a consent of all things with the will of God revealed in his word, both in favour of his Church, and wrath against the adversaries such an agreement of them with the rule, the prophecies, the promises, and the threatnings in the Scriptures; such a correspondency with the wayes of God of old, the paths of mercy and truth wherein he was wont to be seen to walk, such an analogy with the Nature and Attributes of the Lord, such praeludes and praesages of his judgement to come, as though a brutish man will not know, Psal. 92. 6. nor a fool understand this, yet, whoso is wise and will observe these things, he will fall down and give the glory to God, and acknowledge that God is among the gods. Verily there is a God that judgeth among them that have any thing to doe in the judgement of the earth.Psal. 103. 19. Doubtlesse the Lord hath prepared his Throne in the Heavens, and his Kingdom ruleth over all.
I will adde but two or three more, which are very obvious, though we seldome take any notice of them; they are these.
First, the concurrence of many causes to one effect. There is not any thing done amongst men but if we were so eagle-eyed as to see farre, and espye quickly, and look steadily about us, but we might discern a fore-preparation and praedisposition of things to it, a complication, and combination of multitudes of men and meanes without any communicating of Counsells working about it; but in some things it is more remarkable then others, as the bringing of Israel down into Egypt; the avenging of the quarrell of Gods covenant upon his own people by carrying them away into Babylon; the destruction of that Monarchy; the turning of the captivity: and in lesse generall matters, the chastising of David for the matter of Ʋriah, the rescuing of Mordecai and the people from the bloody plot of Haman, & what not? Now doe but ponder these things advisedly, and all the fictions of the Poets and the fables of the Legend may be sooner beleeved then that these things come to passe by accident without the texture of a Divine hand working effectually in the weaving of every web. When many persons go out severall wayes, no one of them haply privy to anothers thoughts, and doe after a while meet together in one place and time about one and the same errand, it cannot be otherwise thought but that some one hand had the command over them all, and directed the whole businesse.
Secondly, the order and peace that sometimes hath been in the earth, and may yet possibly be again. Peace is the tranquillity of Order; that there should be Order amongst such multitudes of persons, is more then a Miracle: There are (it may be) so many millions of men in a Nation, all of various opinions & affections, acting by different principles to self ends, most of them ignorant and unskilfull, nay wholly regardlesse of all that belongs to policy and order,Titus 3. 3. generally disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hatefull and hating one another: take them together in their community and society, and they are like the waters gathered together in the Seas, an unquiet and restlesse Element of it self, easily swelling and raging in the waves of it,James 1. 6. driven with the winde and tossed. It is impossible there should be at any time an orderly compliance of these among themselves, and consequently quiet and peace, unlesse the Father of spirits who looketh down from Heaven, the place of his habitation, Psal. 33. 13. 14. 15. […] upon all the inhabitants of the earth, did fashion their hearts alike, or alone by himself without others, and considered all their works.
Lastly, the reducing of Kingdomes and the affairs of men into Order; when they are once out of course. When the spirits of Princes and people are prejudiced, estranged, divided, imbittered, enraged, and engaged against one another, and there is envy, and strife, and confusion, and every evil work, and they bite, and devoure, and consume one onother; whence shall a reconciliation and redemption arise, if He that stilleth the raging of the waters, that commands the windes and the Seas, and they they him, doe not also rebuke the Beast of the […]ds, Psal. 68. 30. the multitude of the B […]lls, with the Calves of the people till every one submit himself? One may as wel suppose an instrumēt out of frame to come into tune of it self without the hand of an Artist, as that a Kingdome divided within it self should return into order, and be setled again in peace and quietnes, without the hand of the Lord.
We may loose our selves in the multiplying of arguments of this nature; I have named a few amongst an infinitie, possibly many others far more pregnant and pertinent may offer themselves to your thoughts; the multitude of them makes the choyce difficult to me, nothing is harder then when one walkes on the beache by the sea side to finde the fairest shore. Take all or any of them, and there is enough to convince an Atheist, not onely that there is a God, but that He iudgeth among the Gods.
If ye now require the ground of this dispensation, viz: Why the Lord should rule in and by men, rather then prepare his own throne and judge in his own Majestie alone by himself, like that Miracle of Nature which doth more by the Iron wherewith it is armed, then by its own body without it; The reason is, not any necessity of Nature, or defect of power in God, as in Princes; but meerly the good pleasure of his will, the superabundance of his goodnesse in favour and condescension to man.
If God should judge immediately, the judgement would be more dreadfull and terrible, we could not bear the glory, we should be swallowed up of the Majesty: we may guesse as much by some passages in story of old, when God kept the matter of government more in his own hand then now, particularly by that which we read in the 19 of Exodus, Exod. 19. 16. and 5 of Deut. when He gave the Law on mount Sinai, there were thundrings and lightnings, Deut. 5. 24. 25. and a thick cloud and darknesse, and the whole mount did quake and burn with fire, insomuch as the people trembled, and the Elders drew neer to Moses, and said, Behold, the Lord our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatnesse, this great fire will consume us: If we hear the voyce of the Lord our God any more, then shall we die. And so terrible was the sight, Heb. 12. 21. as Moses said, I quake and fear. Now if the pomp of the promulgation of the Law was so dreadfull, (and lesse it could not be considering the Majesty of the King, the Law-giver and the Judge) what may we think would be the terrours of the Assises and Sessions, while God should frequently arise to judgement and execution?
If God should not judge by men, there could not be expected that connivence and moderation in the judgement, that now is by the indulgence of men of like passions and compassions towards one another; and I think the Scripture speaks something to this purpose in that passage in Exodus 33. 3. I will send an Angel before thee, but I will not go up in the midst of thee, for thou art a stiff-neeked people, lest I destroy thee.
Certainly the Government thus carried is much more convenient and accommoded to our present condition and relations: we could not meet, and close, and passe, and part on all occasions with so little disadvantage to our nature and society; if they that bear rule, and they that are in subjection were not all of a kinde, as the greater and lesser wheels in an Engine all of a metall,Deinde ipsa charitas quae sibi invicem hominos nodo charitatis astringit, non haberet aditum refuadendorum, et quasi miscendorum sibimet animorum si homines per homines nihil discerent. Aug. de Doc. Christ. Praef. whereas now the communion is is smoothed and sweetned, and love and charity the easier brought in, and made the more to abound among all men, by the mutuall submission, dependance, and care of each another, unto which they are obliged and ingaged by this administration.
I have been the longer in the clearing and confirming of the doctrine, both because it is scarcely beleeved, or but lightly regarded, though commonly confessed, and almost hourly spoken of, and because there is hardly another truth in all the Bible of more common concernment, or more generall use, while we live in this world, then this of my Text.
Like a picture drawn to the life, it casts an eye every way upon every person in any relation, and almost upon every occasion and businesse; And it is very big and full of matter, profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousnesse.
Among other things it layes a sure foundation for the honour and power of Magistracy, even in the matters of God, and plainely holds forth as sacred and divine, and not to be touched with common or profane hands, that Ordinance of God, which is the cement and pillar of humane things, the life and soule of all order in society and communion, the vitall spirits by which so many Millions of men consist comfortably, Jude 8. And directs me to put men in minde to be subiect, to be subiect to Principalities and Powers, and obey Magistrates, that with well-doing they may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men, and gives faire occasion to grapple with the Anabaptists and Familists, and other Sectaries, whose Principles betray them to the despising of Dominion, and speaking evill of Dignities: 2 Tim. 3. presumptuous are they and selfewilled, 2 Pet. 2. such as the Apostles of our Lord fore-described and foretold us should arise in these latter perillous times.Jude 4. &c. verse 19. These be they who separate themselves, Gal. 5. 20. 21. sensuall, not having the Spirit. They boast indeed (much) of the Spirit, but they manifestly doe the workes of the flesh: They plead for libertie, but it is licentiousnesse; libertie of conscience they terme it, but it is libertie of practise, that every man may do what is good and right in his owne eyes: They pretend to nothing but pietie and godlines, and seeme as if they would be content if they might but have a bare subsistence in the profession of it. So did the Iesuites to learning when they they first appeared upon the stage, but when they had once insinuated themselves into the good opinion of Princes and States, how well they answered the expectations, and requited the kindnesse of those who nursed them up, all the Christian world sees and feels to their cost at this day. They aske but connivence and toleration, but if they once meet in a confluence, and finde themselves strong enough to run in a streame; let but a damme be pitcht downe to restraine or oppose their madnesse, or men follow not on to indulge and gratifie their humour, it would soon appear whether or no they would rage and swell and get over, or beare downe afore them all that should stand in their way. They did seem a while to cry up the Order of Parliaments, and of the civill Magistrate, and have their persons in admiration, but meerly for advantage, that so they may get above all Ecclesiasticall Authority; and when they are once up to their height, what they will doe with the ladder, the hope to climbe and ascend by, is not hard to conjecture; they reckon themselves the wheat in the field, and when once they are ripe, they will easily be content to have all that threshed off, by which they received their growth. Yee have heard of the fable of the snake and the countryman that brought it unto the fire. I shall not need to apply it, already they begin to remove the old land-markes and straiten their bounds, they deny your claime up to a high water marke, and make their bankes, and inclose for themselves to the very channell side: But whether it be holden fit or seasonable that these Libertines be decried; for my part I cannot yet discover by any activenesse to suppresse them: Onely seeing the evill and fore-seeing the mischiefe, I have given the warning, that at least I may deliver mine owne soule. I pray God the remedy be not deferred till it be too late, and yee be driven to play an after-game to an extreame hazard or disadvantage.
But the time admonisheth mee to set aside many things that might be inferred out of this text by way of application, & betake my self only to the work of the day, to the preaching of repentance and amendment of life. That such use may be made of this doctrine, is more then manifest. Hee that runnes may read it, in the following part of the Psalm. And though I may not take the boldnes to divide this portion of the word, & deal it amongst you as homely as the Psalmist doth by expostulating, commanding, upbraiding, threatning, appealing and provoking to God; yet I beseech you all, and more especially, you that have called me to this place at this time, Honourable and beloved, Hearken to the voyce behinde you, within you, if upon occasion of any thing that hath been spoken, it either hath, or doth, or may offer and whisper to any of you any thing of that nature, or tending that way, and iudge your selves, that yee be not iudged of the Lord.
I professe in the presence of God, whose messenger you have made me to your selves this day, that to spare you I do not forbeare that libertie. Yee have given mee no cause to dread any hard measure from you, in case I should assume the boldnesse to stretch my self a little beyond my measure. I think I may say as the Apostle to the Corinthians, Ye suffer if a man exalt himselfe, 2 Cor. 11. 20. 21. if a man smite you on the face, I speak as concerning reproach: There are that dispute, detract from, and deny the just extent of your authoritie; they preach, they print, they practise and professe to doe so still, without your leave so much as asked, and against your power; they falsely slander, and revile, and libell, and bring railing accusations, if not against your selves and your owne Honourable assembly; yet against those who by your call and command are subservient and assistant to you in advise, and the parties, and their fautors, making their libertie a cloake of maliciousnesse, out-dare complaints, and think to out-face justice, by fore arraigning it under the term of Persecution: But I abhorre their impudence, and cannot praise your connivence. My conscience would flie in my face, if I should wittingly let fall a word against the rule, Rebuke not an Elder, (much lesse an Honourable Senate of Elders) but intreat him as a Father.
Give mee leave therefore to perswade what God commands, (I meane) the afflicting of your souls before the Lord this day because of his judgements abroad in the earth. It is a day of Humiliation, and we are met in the solemne Assembly, Exod. 33. as sometimes the children of Israel (when they had sinned against the Lord, and hee had broken in upon them, by many signes of his heavy displeasure) our ornaments put off, to know what God will doe unto us, To turne to the Lord with fasting, Joel 2. 12. 14. weeping and mourning, if peradventure Hee will returne and repent and leave a blessing behinde him. Surely ye need not after so many Sermons, so many moneths and yeares of fasting and prayer, that one teach you again which be the first rudiments and elements of this holy Ordinance of God. I know ye all have knowledge. I beseech you onely suffer a word of Exhortation, not so much to the considering of the worke of God in governing the Kingdomes of the world, (though that also be a dutie the Text leads to, and indeed the matter is fitter for contemplation then discourse) as to the acknowledgement of the hand of God in the present state of affairs in this Kingdome, and the humbling and applying of our selves unto him, as his word directs in like cases:Mala ultoria Tertul. For if hee iudgeth among the Gods, then both the good and the evill, that is in the Nation by occasion of the well or ill managing of the government,Amos. 5. 6. must be ascribed unto him. And as if there were order and peace, wee were to reckon them his blessings, and offer the sacrifices of praise, which is the work of a day of Thanksgiving; so when there is warre in the gates, and confusion and every evill worke, it must be confessed the iudgement of God, and we must come, and sit trembling before him, and search out the provocation, lay our hands upon & confesse the trespas over the head of the sacrifice, pray in his pardon and break off our sins by righteousnesse, that there may be atonement, which is the businesse and end of a day of Humiliation; and this is that which I principally aime at in the Application of this doctrine at this time.
Wee need not one to come and tell us, There is wrath gone out from the Lord, Isai. 21. 25. the plague is begun, hee hath powred out upon us the fury of his anger and the strength of the battell, and it hath set us on fire round about. Onely, wee have not regarded it nor laid it to heart. A sword, a sword is sharpned and also furbished, Ezek. 2. 10. The point of it is set against the gates, and the ruines are multiplyed. But I shall not spread the volume of our Story before you, doubtlesse the roule like that of the Prophet written within and without, Ezek. 21. lumentations, mourning and woe, hath beene often read in your eares, and ye ought to know the state of the land, and the Church of God therein, and without question ye doe know it, the report and the cry from all quarters comming first to your Cognizance, allow mee but to say this (that I may stirre up your minds by way of remembrance) that the sorrows of a travelling woman are yet upon us, Hos. 13. 13. and we stay still in the place of the breaking forth of children: what ever Balme or Physician there may be amongst us, the health of the Nation is not recovered; and whether the wound and the bruise be incurable as refusing to be healed, God knoweth.
Though the Lord hath revived his worke of late very miraculously beyond all expectation, and from the beginning hitherto hath mingled mercy with judgement; yet one cannot fore-see any thing in the signes of the times whereby we may be able to fore-tell the end of the Lord; at least as to the season and manner of it. The cloud still hangs and gathers, rather then wasteth; and there is a sound of abundance of wrath: it is not an easie thing to discerne whether the Lord will debate with us in the sending forth of the rod or sword, Esa. 27. and stay the rough wind in the day of the Eastwind: that is, chastise in measure, moderate the punishment, not coming to a rigorous account, but use the severity of a Father, not of a Iudge, and give us repentance and remission of sinnes: or whether he hath decreed a Consumption, and will bring an overflowing scourge, and his eye not pity nor spare, but destroy us til there be no remnant nor escaping: Whether he be striving with us, as with the old world before the generall Deluge; or carrying on his worke as with Israel in the wildernesse, preparing a mercy for posteritie after us, the meane while resolved to fill all the earth with his glory in the destruction of the present generation that see his wonders, yet tempt him daily, murmure against him, grieve his Spirit, and harden their hearts through unbelief; or whether he wil yet have mercy upon England, and redeeme us through his greatnesse, for his owne Names sake: If we looke upwards, we may see a filthy steame of noysome sinnes going up unto heaven, as the smoake over some great Citie, and we may behold the hand of the Lord stretched out still: if downward, the provocation is not abated, but multiplied and aggravated: we are like the pot whose scumme is in it, Ezek. 24. 6. 13 whose scumme is not gone out of it; there is lewdnesse in the filthinesse of the Land. Because God hath purged it, Jer. 5. 3. and it is not purged; he hath smitten it, and they have not grieved; he hath consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction, and to returne. We are growne deafe at the terrours of Gods judgements, and sleep under the sparklings of his fury. The providences of God are wrested, though they be not very hard to be understood, and many abuse them, as they doe the Scriptures, to the destruction of themselves and others; the grace of God is received in vaine, or rather turned into wantonnesse; the yoake of Ceremonies, and the tyrannie of Prelacy hath beene removed, and it is free to preach and professe according to the Gospel; and this libertie is abused to loosenesse, profanenesse, and insolencie; that which is, or should be the better part of the Land, that pretends to religion, and hath the face or name of the Church, it is like a piece of ground that hath beene stirred by the Plough, and the tils-man doth not follow on to give it more earths in due season; it runs out in weeds and baggage: or as a field which is driven, and the heart of it worne out, what ever seed is cast in, it returnes nothing but Carlock, and such like raffe; all manner Sectaries creepe forth, and multiplie, as frogs, and flies, and vermine in the Spring; and there is variance, hatred, emulation, wrath, strife, sedition, heresies, envyings, revilings, and the like. Every where there is mingled a perversenesse of spirit, like the Prophets bottles,Jer. 13. 13. we are filled with drunkennesse, and dash one against another: 1 King. 22. lying spirits goe forth to deceive and prevaile, and make us mad upon our owne destruction. As to the civill warre; it is just now as of old, in the contention betweene Vitellius and Vespasian, where families were divided, and brother fought against brother, and father against sonne; every man cryed out of the unnaturalnesse of the thing, but every man went on still to doe it.
As to the differences and divisions about matters of Religion; they are raised, and fomented, and maintained with great animositie, and of boasting of new light, and knowledge, but with little or no charitie, or meeknesse of wisdome: they that pretend for conscience sake to separate from our ordinarie assemblies, and keepe their distance from their members, yet will not be perswaded to divide themselves, and stand aside, from those routs of Libertines, whom they cannot but condemne in their judgements, or declare distinctly & openly, wherin they dissent from them as from others: but all meete in one third, and militate under one colours, most apparently striving for victorie, not for truth; and driving a designe by party and faction, while they would be thought to set up the Kingdome of Christ: the meane while they give overt scandall and offence to them that are without, and divide the Church and Kingdome within it selfe: and as the Congregations of naughty men of old:Psal. 83. the Tabernacles of Edom and the Ishmaelites of Moab and the Haggarens, Gebal and Ammon, and Amalek, they have holpen the common Adversarie, and troubled and retarded the Reformation. Alas for the day, for the distemper and the distraction is great; and there wanteth either power, or wisdome, or will to remedie or suppresse these mischefes, and their fautors. Now though we can tell where the fault lieth, and whence all this evill ariseth; as we may sometimes see from what dunghill, or low moorish ground the vapour ascends, which afterwards becomes a mist, a fogge, or a cloud, and is dissolved in a storme; though we see not the influence of heaven, in the exhalation; yet because by faith we understand that this cometh of the Lord, that he may be known by the iudgements which he executeth. We must therefore make our peace with God, and returne unto the Lord, and heare what he speakes by his former Prophets, and follow the light and direction of his word, if ever we will have helpe and deliverance, or be hid in the times of trouble.
Let us then leave quarelling, and judging, and censuring one another; this is our folly, our disease, our mischiefe: let us look up to God, and judge our selves, and make hast, and delay not to turne our feete into the waies of his Testimonies. We have many base feares, and cares, and projects wherewith we disquiet our selves; it were our wisdome, and would be our safetie, to cease from men, and feare the Lord, and betake our selves to him. While the State is diligent in finding out the troublers of our Israel, and bringing delinquents to punishment, let us search our owne hearts and lives, and make enquiry after our owne iniquities; accuse, arraigne, condemne our selves, and cast out the abominable thing; Impenitencie is the greatest malignancie, and the most dangerous. We are often very busie and inquisitive about some persons that doe not appeare overactive: let every man first pluck the beame out of his owne eye, and with the disciples, suspect himselfe, Master, Is it I? and aske as the Publicanes, and the Souldiers that came out to heare John the Baptist: What shall we doe? they that are much abroad, are little at home; those that are curious about others, are commonly carelesse and negligent about themselves: we wast our spirits in froward passions; it were better we spent them in afflicting our soules, that so much water may not runne by wast and grinde nothing. We know well enough there can never be a generall or particular safety for all, or any, when there hath been such disorders as of late, unlesse there be a pardon, and an Act of oblivion; therefore in all Pacifications that is one Article; let us transferre the wisdome hither, and seeke forgivenesse of God first,Jona. 3. 8, […]. and cry mightily to the Lord; Who can tell, if God will turne, and repent, and turne away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? There is much talke, and much adoe about the new Modell. Oh that there were an heart in every of us to get new hearts and right spirits; to put off the old man, concerning the former conversation, which is corrupt according to the deceitfull lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of our minds; and put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousnesse and true holinesse. It is held the wisdome of a State when they are about an accommodation, to take care for the securing of such persons as they have in jealousie and may be dangerous, lest they kindle the fire anew, and it breake out againe to more mischiefe: Let us also be carefull to secure our owne deceitfull hearts, desperately deceitfull, and wicked above measure; set a watch over them, that we may be safe from their treacherie: above all keepings, keepe the heart; out of it come murders, &c. For that purpose let us bring them againe under new engagements; let us renew our Covenants this day: we had need doe it oft, and be oft put in mind to doe it; and to keepe it when we have done. It is not yet time out of mind of man, since a solemne Oath and Covenant was framed and urged with much zeale upon all over whom there was power; I doubt not but ye remember the grounds and reasons, with the manner of the carriage of that businesse. I have heard some speake as if they repented it, and changed their judgements about the businesse of Reformation, and there hath beene talke and hope of a forbearing to presse it any more upon any new occasions, or a connivence at the refusers, amounting to an inlargement from it: reade the preface to it and wonder how such dreames should come in any mans head. By what ill dint hath it been so blasted, as to have lost its vertue or necessitie? or upon what pretence can any amongst us imagine themselves or be thought by others so formidable, or so confiding as they must therefore for the sake of libertie of conscience be left at large, or be loosed from it? if there be a realitie in such a fancie, Lord have mercy upon us: how shall the persons guilty of such levitie ever answer it to God or the world, or their owne consciences; or the parties who have beene already yoaked by it? one thing I am sure of, that whatsoever in it may be repented of, yet there is no shadow or colour of cause to depart from this clause and the obligation to it: And because these Kingdomes are guilty of many sinnes and provocations against God and his Sonne Iesus Christ, as is too manifest by our present distresses and dangers, the fruits thereof: we professe and declare before God and the world, our unfained desire to be humbled for our owne sinnes, and for the sins of these Kingdomes—. And our true and unfained purpose, desire, and endeavour for our selves, and all others under our charge and power, both in publique and in private, in all duties we owe to God and man, to amend our lives, and each one to goe before another in the example of a reall Reformation: It were wickednesse to decline such a profession, and a snare after such a vow to make enquirie. Let every man therefore fortifie his purposes, his duty in this, by entring bond anew this day: But remember what the Preacher saith,Eccles. 5. 4. 6. When thou vowest a vow unto God, deferre not to pay it, for he hath no pleasure in fooles: pay that which thou hast vowed, suffer not thy mouth to sinne, neither say thou before the Angel, It was an errour, wherefore should God be angry at thy voyce, and destroy the worke of thine hands?
And that we may the better prevent a generall backsliding, and promove an universall amendment, let us unite and associate (we that dwell in associated Counties can speake of the benefit of Associations by experience, and therefore hope and pray the continuance thereof) that we may so be mutually helpfull, and exhort one another daily, may watch over each other, consider one another, to provoke to love and good works, and by good example may light and lead on others; and so make the Reformation more generall and more lasting.
Thinke on these things; and if there be any other thing which God cals us to in such a season as this; let us heare it and know it for our selves: as Souldiers receive the word of Command every man for himselfe, not to jangle with his fellow. Let us heare and doe it while it is called to day. Let us arise and be doing.
Especially ye Honourable and beloved, for this matter belongeth unto you; we also will be with you; consider it and doe it.
For first, were ye all in your owne persons as free from the offence as Moses; could ye apologise for your selves with Samuel; or wash your hands in innocencie with David; yet when wrath is upon the Congregation, or the storme may be foreseene in the vapour, the punishment in the sinne; you ought to rent your garments, and sit downe astonished with Ezra, and deprecate the judgement with Hezekiah. Ye know the Law in the case of uncertaine murder, Deut. 21. 1, 2. If a man be found slain in the land, and it be not known who hath slaine him, then thine Elders and thy Judges shall come forth, &c. He saith not the Elders of the next Citie, as afterwards, ver. 3. but thine Elders, the generall States of the Land, some of the high Court at Ierusalem; the equitie and morall of it reacheth you: by vertue of your middle station and relation betweene God and the people, the care of making the expiation and atonement lyeth upon you; and ye are the men whom God seeketh to step into the gap to make intercession. The reproaches wherewith they reproach him, should fall on you, and ye should be ashamed and confounded in the stead of the people: and who knows if ye had throughly afflicted you soules in the dayes of humiliation;Jer. 7. 5. if ye had throughly amended your wayes and your doings; if ye had throughly executed judgement and justice, but the plague had ceased before this time?
Secondly, in generall judgements where the Phiall in the pouring out bespatters all, it may well be supposed that all have sinned, and must all together bring the sacrifice. Sanctifie ye a Fast: Joel 1. 14. call a solemne Assembly: gather the Elders, and all the inhabitants of the land into the house of the Lord your God, and cry unto the Lord. Without question ye are involved in the common calamitie as well as others; the rod lasheth you and you feele it, the most of you, who have any thing in the enemies quarters: I beseech you heare the voyce of it, and him that brings it. Though ye have the priviledge of blowing of the Trumpet, for the gathering of the people, and give law for time and place, yet ye are not thereby priviledged from the fasting, the weeping, the mourning, the crying, or praying, and the turning with all your hearts together with others: lay your hands therefore upon your hearts, and let them smite you for your own sins, and your fellowship with other mens:Levit. 4. 15. If the Congregation sinne, the Elders must lay their hands upon the head of the sacrifice.
Thirdly, there is something very remarkeable in this present judgement that pulleth by the Eare,Aurem vellit, & admonuit. those among whom he judgeth, rather then other men. And though all men every where be admonished to repent, yet more especially you Honourable and Beloved. The Lord seemeth to have purposed it,Esai. 23. 9. to staine the pride of all Glorie, Majesty, Authority and Greatnesse, and to bring into contempt all the Honourable of the earth: for the very foundations are shaken, law and order is slighted and violated, and all estates disturbed, to the dishonour and reproach of them that should bear up the pillars of it,Arcana imperii. the secrets and mysteries of State which all policie hath ever kept vailed to preserve them venerable and reverend, are now made common and exposed to every eye, the originals and fundamentals of Empire and power are searched into, and debated and judged, every man takes libertie to talke, and write, and print of them with all boldnesse and confidence, the skirts of Majestie are uncovered, and men see the nakednesse of it, even Government it selfe hath lost its reverence, as well as its pomp and lustre; every where men rather doubt, and dispute, and interpret, then obey; contempt is poured, and dung is cast upon the faces of Princes and Nobles and the Iudges of the earth; The childe behaveth himselfe proudly against the ancient, and the base against the Honourable, Esai. 3. 5. Esai 3. 5. And if ye mark the course and rage of the warre, it is the sword of the great men which are slains, Ezek. 22. 14. Ezek. 21. 14. the furie of the battell hath fallen much upon the Nobilitie and Gentrie. Consider this also, the viall hath beene poured out for many yeeres upon Parliments, they have been shattered and broken, their just priviledges violated, their members baffled and imprisoned, the loynes of Parliaments have been girded with a girdle, and it wanted little but they had been made slaves and bawdes to the lusts and designes of private Iunctoes and Cabinets, yea, they have been buried under scorne and reproach, and it was a crime to wish or make mention of them.
And even this present Parliament (though blessed be God for it) in some respects it hath had the advantage of other Parliaments, and the Lord hath honoured it above them all, by putting into its hand a greater work to doe for himselfe and his Church, and opened to it a wider dore and more effectuall, though there be many adversaries, and crowned it with more admirable successes and providences, and brought it on and followed it with more desires and prayers, then ever any Parliament had before it: yet in some other regards, it lieth under a cloud, and is more shaken. The authoritie of it is questioned, quarrelled, denied and opposed, the power of it straitned and bounded that it cannot reach all the Kingdome through, proclaimed Rebels at home, deserted by many of your owne, and what you suffer abroad God knoweth: the wheeles have moved slowly and driven heavily, not without disturbance and distraction, your Ordinances and Orders are not so chearfully and universally received and obeyed as haply ye thinke.
I but offer these things under the notion and respect of a judgement of God upon authoritie, and those that deale in it, that yee may take notice of the hand of the Lord, and be awakened to judge your selves and sinne no more, lest a worse thing yet befall us: for yee cannot but judge this, that (the cloud being ballanced by the hand of the Lord) where the dint of the storme falls most, thence arose much of the vapour, and there the tempest will be most violent & destructive, if it be not prevented by timely & serious repentance.
Fourthly, and I will adde no more. Something may be read to this purpose, in the manner & way of the bringing on, and executing of this judgement; if ye have observed it, it hath been brewed, and wrought, and tunned, and broached, and drawn by the wickednes or the weaknesse of those among whom God iudgeth; by the folly or miscarriage of governors and government, whether in the Church or State; the disorder we complain of was first begotten between the ambition of great men, & the unfaithfulnes of counsellors of State, brought forth by the unrighteousnesse and basenesse of the Iudges, nursed up and gotten strength by the pride and flatterie of the Praelacie and Praelaticall Clergie, and by the unworthinesse of many of the Nobilitie and Gentry complying and subserving. And now it walks abroad through the Land by the same meanes by which it hath come thus far; and He that iudgeth among you either hides away wisdome, or weakneth your hands, or troubleth your Counsells, or obstructeth your way, so as there is no remedy but the divisions and the mischiefes of them continue, and consume, and devour us daily.
Now let God be righteous, and every man a sinner; it hath been commonly said, and there is a truth in it, The King can doe no wrong: it is not for me to tell you the meaning of it, you give us the proverb and the interpretation thereof, I beseech you make the application of it also: Consider with your selves, would the God of order thus tumble all things headlong, turn every thing upside down, or suffer this confusion, if he were not mightily provoked to it? It is his strange work: he delighteth not in it, we have given the cause, our destruction is of our selves; our own wayes and our doings have procured these things to our selves.
For certainly what ever may be said of the corrections wherewith the Lord chastiseth a particular man, yet it cannot be denied but that a generall visitation of a Nation is the punishment of their sinne. Now if we were to make a discovery by Lots, wherein, and whose the sinne hath been, and all the chiefe of the Kingdom were to stand on the one side, and the body of the people on the other side, as when the triall was made between Saul and Jonathan and all Israel, 1 Sam. 14 40. who should be taken may we think? and which of them should escape? or if we might enquire of the Lord as David did when there was three yeers famine in the Land,2 Sam. 21. 1. might we not finde the answer in the words of their report to Ezra Ez 9. 2. Ezra. 9. 2. The hands of the Princes and Rulers hath beene chiefe in the trespasse?
Now what is to be done in this case? the story that follows will tell us, even by the light of the next verse, we may read that the hand of the Princes and the Rulers, (though they had no hand in the trespasse) must be chiefe in the repentance, in the humiliation, confession, deprecation, in the making of the atonement and the reformation: And because others will not, ye must; and the fewer come in to the Worke, the more it lieth upon your hands.
I beseech you therefore, (Honourable and beloved) Hear yee give ear and be not proud, but humble your selves; sit down astonted, Jer. 13. 15. 18. and mourn, because of the transgression; search out the sinnes of the State of our Princes, Ezra. 9. 3. &c. and Nobles, and Judges of our Parliaments, former and later, and weigh out (if possible) the trespasse with the aggravations; ye have begun well (blessed be God, who put it into your hearts) ye have taken speciall notice of many nationall sinnes, and commanded publike acknowledgement, and deepe humiliation for them: Follow on, I beseech you, to seek the Lord, and turne unto him; make yet a further and more diligent enquierie into the sinnes of the State, of our Kings, our Princes, Jer. 5. 5. our Parliaments, as of the Kingdome, and see if the great men have knowne the way of the Lord, and the iudgements of their God, if rather they have not altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds. Some sinnes, and some mens sinnes are open going before to judgement; They declared them as Sodome, they hid them not: others (though done in the darke, and there was digging deep to hide them, yet have of late by the wonderfull providence of God, beene brought to light, and proclaimed upon the house tops; it is like ye may have seene more then we that stand at further distance,Ezek. 8. and if we might have the Prophets priviledge, might we not discover greater abominations then have as yet been revealed?
Give me leave to offer some few Interrogatories, upon which ye may examin: May not God possibly be now visiting the iniquity of our fathers upon us? may not we be the children within those generations, who are threatned in that Law? Hath there at any time by Law and practise been such a departure and separation from Rome, as may undoubtedly declare a due dissent from, detestation of, and humiliation for the idolatry of our Ancestors? may not the constant connivence at Papists, the common compliancie with their superstition in matters of ceremonies, and the formalities of publike worship, the late toleration of Popery, the generall revolting, and back-sliding thitherward by erecting of altars and other innovations, and joyning in affinitie with the people of those abominations, revive the memorie of our fathers sinnes?Esay 40. 2. and wrap us up together in the crime? and with good justice make us receive double from the hand of the Lord; […] duplicia pro omnibus peccatis, sc. pro suis peccatis & parentum. while both their sinnes and ours meet together in one condemnation? The Lord our God is a jealous God, and we are not an holy people.
Did wee ever yet requite the Lord for the riches of his grace and wonders of his providence,Deut. 32. 6. in choosing us to be a people to himself, in the day when he lifted up his hand to our fathers, and brought them out of the rage and flames of persecution, and made himselfe known to them? remember the kindnesse of the youth of this Church, and the love of its espousalls;Jer. 2. did the priests say, Where is the Lord? and they that handle the Law, 2 Chro. 15. did they know him? did or Prince or people seek the Lord with all their hearts, as in the dayes of Asa, or as Josiah and Hezekiah did for their owne parts? was the Reformation carried on to the height and purity, which it might and ought to have reached unto, considering the opportunity and advantages of that season?
May not God take up a controversie against the Parliaments of this Kingdome for the lack of knowledge that is in the Land? what provisions have been made for the establishing of a preaching ministery in every Parish in the Iland? what countenance and incouragement to the painfull labourer in the Harvest? what laws have been made for the preaching of the Word every Lords day? put the case there were never a Sermon in any Church on a Sabbath day in all the Kingdome, what Statute were broken?
Consider, I pray you, if the Land be yet purged of the blood of the Martyrs in times of persecution; of the blood of War shed in peace by Duels and more treachereus wayes. There was a time when many great men fell almost together, and it was feared that blood touched blood; ye can remember the murmures and whisperings then were, and what artifices to prevent the judgement; why may not the land be made to mourn for these things now? can this Kingdome wash its hands of the blood of Germanie, Rochel, Ireland? blood is a crying sinne, who knowes but that the Lord to whom vengeance belongeth, remembreth now, and maketh inquisition for blood?
Hath there been a like zeal for the matters of God (who iudgeth among you) in all the course of the government of this Kingdom the long time of peace we had, as for the matters of the King; for the Church and gospel of Christ, as for the safety of the Common-weal? We remember how carefully prerogative was maintained, and the puntillo’s of mans honour stood upon; yet the same time the power of God and Christ usurped upon, the morality of his Law disproved and decried, and his Sabbaths even prostituted to profanation; and in a sort commanded to be violated. Iudge ye your own selves, whether the Magistrate hath for his part kept both or either of the Tables, been for the praise of those who have done well, and for the terror of evil-doers, and how far partaker with the sins of the whole Land.
Come we to the present time since this great distemper and division. It may be your thoughts are at Oxford, and the Court, and those armies. And I confesse if the division were to be made, as 1 Sam. 14. it were not hard to guesse where the lot would fall; but if as Iosh. 7. 14. who might not fear?
Goe yee neerer home, consider your selves the Assembly of the Mightie, generally as a body, particularly every man in his relation to that representative body; Have yee been carefull to be as quick and fervent in the building up, as in the pulling downe of the Order and Government of the Church, the suppressing of Sects and Heresies (which are the bane of the Church) as in the rooting out of Episcopacie? as zealous in the keeping, as ye were in the making of the Covenant? How faithfully and in the feare of God with a perfect heart, have yee every man walked between Law and Commandment, Statute and Iudgement, and the Controversies and Difficulties which have come before you? Could I tell how to speak so as to point every man into his owne conscience, and one mans eye might not be on another, or particularize in this great and mixt Assembly, without uncovering the nakednesse of any before the Congregation; I might cut out much of your worke for you this day; whereas now I can onely humbly offer a few enquiries, to lead on your thoughts to some other particulars: but though I am bounded, yee are at large; though the Minister must deale in generalls this day, and tenderly in publique; yet I beseech you, doe not you with your selves in private; for yee ought to sanctifie the day, and keepe the Fast in private, as in publique; in your families apart, as in the Church; alone by your selves, as with company.
When therefore yee are in your Closets thinke on these things, and if there be any other thing which ye can finde out, or God shall bring to remembrance fit to be repented of and amended, doe not lightly regard it, but spread it before the Lord; together with the miserie and the perplexitie the Land is in by reason thereof; in your owne behalfe, and in the name of all the people of the Land. Be afflicted, mourne and weep: Jam. 4. 9, 10. Humble your selves in the sight of the Lord, and hee shall lift you up. Let him not alone till he suffer himselfe to be intreated. Hold not your peace, give him no rest. Let not your fervencie and perseverance in prayer,Esai. 6. 2. abate or waxe cold, till he establish his Church, and make it a praise in the earth: And he give us yet,L […]imer. Once againe, Once againe the Gospel with peace. So much as in you is, both in your own families, & in all the quarters of the kingdom procure a more solemne sanctification of the Fast dayes. It is a great griefe of heart to all godly men, to see how negligently the worke of the Lord is done on that day every where, how formally and slightly, if it be not wholly omitted, while your Ordinances goe forth to compell the unwilling to come in under no other penaltie, but a threat of the returne of their names. I beseech you therefore revive, and double your care for the generall and more orderly keeping of that day, and promove and expedite the so long expected, and so much longed for Reformation. And because ye see many seek out interpretations of evasions & inlargements from their covenants, and begin to play fast and loose with that most solemne Oath and Obligation; I beseech you in the name and feare of God, rather renew the Covenant with asmuch severitie as Asa did that in his time, then let it fall or die away, remembring to go before others in the example of all due reverence and observation of that great ingagement, the Oath of God, and let there be care taken that the Name of the Lord our God be not taken in vaine: for the Lord will not hold him guiltlesse that taketh his Name in vaine.
But not to instance any further in particulars, the summe of all is this. Its fully manifest by the light of that principle which this Text holds forth, the influence of God into government, that as well the disorderly as the orderly managing of affaires amongst men, is ordered by the foreknowledge and determinate hand of God; so as there is no evill in a Kingdome, but by his expresse judgement: And if we understand the sense or scope of the Prophets Sermons in like cases, or their doctrine be our instruction:Zach. 7. 7. The Lords voice cryeth to the Citie, […] and the man of wisedome shall see the name; Heare ye the rod, […] and who hath appointed it. Or as Iunius reades it, thy name shall see that which is: Micah 3. 9. (and where the reading or interpretation is various, to comprehend them is the safest.) The Lord cryeth as well by his judgements as by his Ministers. His glorious Majestie seeth all things, and brings them into judgement, and who so is wise will see and consider it, and walke humbly with his God, and he shall understand that these occurrences are not casuall chances, but proceed from divine providence and justice, to warne men when they feele the rod, to looke up to the hand of God, who put it into the hands of men, and enquire for what cause, and for what end they are thus judged of the Lord, and be zealous and repent. What ever be the follies of men, God must be acknowledged and justified. True and righteous are thy Iudgements, O Lord: It is Gods controversie; he is pleading with his people, and it is our dutie, especially of those who are betweene him and the people, as well in the Magistracie as in the Ministerie, to step in to heale up the breach, and make the atonement. There need no other words to be sought out by the Preacher as goads and nailes for the fastning of all this, but those of the Prophet Amos: Can a bird fall upon the earth where no gin is for him? Amos 3. 5. Shal one take up a snare from the earth, and have taken nothing at all? Shall a trumpet be blowne in the Citie, and the people not be afraid? Shall there be evill in a Citie, and the Lord hath not done it? The lion hath roared, who will not feare? The Lord God hath spoken, who can but Prophesie? Consider what I say, and the Lord give you understanding in all things.
Having thus dispatcht that use of this doctrine, which more properly and directly concernes the work of the day; Beare with me yet a little longer, (and indeed ye do beare) while I pursue the farther application of it, in such other things as it fairely pointeth us unto, and cannot well be baulked, without a wrong both to you and the Text. I will but briefly offer them in a word or two of exhortation, and leave them upon your hands, or your hearts rather for meditation and practise.
First generally, to consider the work of God which wee may behold, in the governing of the Nations, the goings of God among the Kings and Princes, Princes and Nobles and all the Iudges of the earth. The judgements of God in judging among the Gods.
Shall I say, Let us examine our selves whether we have duely heretofore understood and regarded this thing, heard his voice commanding, taken notice of his Spirit moving, as well the living creatures as the wheeles. Have we known, have we acknowledged in the administration, and the manifold events and issues of government, that the hand of the Lord doth all these things? possibly we may finde matter of humiliation upon a diligent enquirie. Certainely there is a very generall ignorance and unmindfulnesse of this matter, Esai. 42. 20. seeing many things, but observing not; opening the eares, but not hearing; willing ignorance, grosse negligence. They will not see,Psal. 82. 5. they know not, neither will they understand, but walke on in darkenesse, slightnesse of spirit, in overly and superficiall inquirie,Acts 17. Athenian curiositie, hearing and telling of news, Psal. 10. 45. great contempt of God and his providence: The wicked in the pride of his countenance, will not seeke after God; God is not in all his thoughts, thy iudgements are farre above out of his sight. Nay, unbeliefe, even to Atheisme and blasphemie, Ier. 5. 12. they belie the Lord and say it is not hee. It is a manifold sinne and hath its gradations and aggravations, a mightie provocation.Esai. 5. 12. They regard not the worke of the Lord, nor consider the operation of his hands: Psal. 92. 6. therefore they are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge, &c. Its very brutish foolishnesse not to know nor understand this, and who knows but for this very cause God may be so grieved with this geneneration,Psal. 95. 10, 11. who erre in their hearts, and have not known his wayes, as to sweare in his wrath that they shall not enter into his rest? It is a sore and heavy judgement to have seen the great signes and wonders of God, and to want an heart to perceive, eyes to see, and eares to heare to this day. Deut. 29. 4.
Let us awake at length, and be ashamed, and turn aside, and see what God doth.Psal. 111. 2. Come and see, come and behold the works of the Lord. Or for all their delights. The works of the Lord are great sought out of all them that have pleasure therein: and truly there is a myne of pleasure, […] and profit too, in the contemplation of the works of creation, and common providence; there is much Divinity to be read in those books of nature, the Holy Ghost reades us many Lectures out of them, and holy men have not thought even those unworthy their most serious meditation; but there is more in the speciall providence of God about men, the moderating or ordering of humane affairs by and amongst men:Psal. 19. 1. Every handy-work of God is glorious, but farre more of his glory is shed abroad in these, especially if we consider them in their reference to the Church, they shew all his glory, and the invisible things of God are by them made very visible and very legible in the fairest Character, they are his Name in great letters; They are an excellent explication of the Law of God, copying out the righteousnesse and justice of it in particular instances and examples, Hose. 8. 12. a cleare Commentarie upon all the Word of God.
Oh let them not be counted a strange thing, Esay. 29. a sealed booke, especially our own story, the wayes of God amongst us some few yeeres last past, and unto this day, where almost every work of God in judging amongst us is not like a great lettser in a booke with a gaye about it that takes up a great deale of roome, but hath nothing more then another in pronounciation; but as Hieroglyphicks, and emblems, and some kindes of Characters, full of morall and sense, a Booke, a volume of marvellous workes, wonders repeated and multiplyed. The Bible new translated and printed in a letter that best fits the Worlds dull and decayed sight, the old stories wrought over againe, the Promises fulfilled, the Prophecies receiving their accomplishment, a revelation of the Revelation which God gave unto Jesus Christ, Reve. 1. 1. to shew unto his servants things which should come to passe: an interpretation of of the visions which were seen of old, a Key to open the dark and heard things in former praedictions, the unclasping of the sealed Booke, that even they that cannot read, may yet see and consider and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done all this. A praelude or praesage rather of the great day of the Lord, and the judgement to come.
He that stands with the wise man in the windowe of his observation, may see God preparing his throne for the judging of the great Whore, bringing Babylon into remembrance, calling his people out from thence, delivering the cup of trembling into the hands of the Nations. &c. Or as Moses when he was put in the cleff of the Rock, may behold the glory of all Gods goodnesse made to passe before him, in moderation of judgements, patient forbearance, unlooked for deliverance, suddaine and unexpected rescuing from off the praecipice and Brink of ruine.
May perceive the rowling and yearnings of his bowels and compassions toward his poor afflicted people that pray. May see him triumphing gloriously, in the greatnesse of his excellency, lifting up himself above his adversaries in the things wherein they deale proudly, raising the Trophies of his Glory out of oppositions, contradictions and impossibilities. May observe the bright shining forth of his manifold wisdome in out-witting cunning men, turning crafty counsells into foolishnesse, frustrating the tokens of lyars, and making diviners mad. May take notice of many evident demonstrations of his faithfulnesse, in remembring his promises, hearing prayers, and shewing himself nigh unto his people, in all that they call upon him for.2 Chro. 16. 9. One may see his eyes running to and fro through the earth, to shew himself to the hearts of them whose hearts are towards him, with very remarkable testimonies of his justice in judgements and executions done upon his enemies, and may receive abundance of instruction, and learne much righteousnesse. But I forget my self, and tyre out your patience.
Therefore Secondly, and more particularly to you, Honourable and beloved, yet another word of exhortation, to iudge for God, and as God iudgeth.
1. For God. 2 Chro. 19. There are matters of God, as well as matters of the King, or Kingdome; the care whereof must be upon you as well as upon us. His Church, his Kingdome, his Citty, his House, his People, his Spouse, his Children, his Body; ye, as nursing fathers, must tender the good, and welfare of them, that they may find harbour and protection, injoy their just Priviledges, and Liberties, wherewith Christ hath made them free: not such licentiousnesse as is abused for a cloake of naughtinesse. Ye must see to Order and unity amongst them, that there be no rents and Schismes; surely our Saviour that ascended into Heaven, and gave gifts to men, some Apostles, &c. that we might all meet in the unity of Faith; and hath divers times, and after sundry manners given that very thing in charge to his ministers, would not have the magistrate left at large from providing,Ephe. 4. and endeavouring, that speaking or following the truth in love, we may grow up, making increase by edifying our selves and one another in Love. Ye must do that, which we are to pray that ye may do viz. Take a course that Christians may live a peaceable and quiet life in godlinesse and honesty, not in strife and contention.
There is—His Name. It may not be blasphemed, dishonoured. His day, it must be sanctified; Remember thou keep holy the Sabbath, thou and thy servants, &c. and the stranger that is within thy gates. Remember Nehimiahs Zeal, and doe likewise.
4. His Gospell. Yee have authority, and it is your dutie to provide that it be duely preached, so as the excellencie of the knowledge thereof may abound in the Land […] the sea; that it be truly taught: not blended, adulterated, made another Gospel. His worship; it must not be corrupted by Idolatry,Matth. 15. 9. Superstitions, Innovations, lest God be worshipped is vaine, while they teach for doctrines the commandments of men. His ministerie; and it ought to be purged, planted, lights set up in every bowle of the Candlestick, incouraged, maintained, Nehem. 10. 35. and abetted in the work of the Lord. His Sacraments; it is your Honour as your dutie to see that they be kept pure in the celebration and ministration of them.1 Cor. 9. 9. There is a bookcase for it,1 Tim. 5. 17. Num. 9. 7. There were certain men, &c. This is clear from that Text,Numb. 9. 7. and will be granted, that notwithstanding the generall Law, and common right, yet in some cases, cases of overt pollution & offence, such persons must abstain, and be suspended from the present use of their libertie; and though it be not expressed; yet it may be inferred upon like moral equity, that as well the bold intruder as the wilful forbearer was to be cut off: & it cannot be denied but the keeping of all that particular Law fell under the cōmon sanction of the whole Law of Ordinances. He that transgresseth shall be cut off. And the Iewish interpreters tell us, that if there be witnesses of the fact, the civill Magistrate was to draw the sword: but if this be not full, the presidents 2 Chro. chap. 15 chap. 30. and chap. 35. will rule the case for the civill Magistrate, and make out this, that where the doctrine and discipline of the Church doth not, or cannot prevail, the Magistrate must interpose his Coercive Power for restraint and remedie.—In a Word, God hath many things amongst us that must be protected and maintained; and the matters of God have many adversaries, which must be watched, and suppressed; for ye be are not the sword in vain, ye are Gods ministers attending continually upon this very thing. Rom. 13. 4. 6. Magistrates & ministers have (as ye see) one cōmon stile of office, that ye in your place, as we in our function and order, should minde and promove the things of God, ye by the sword, and we by the Word; you are keepers of both Tables, the first […] great Commandment, as well as the second that is like unto it, both come sometimes, as occasion is under your Cognizance. And ye know what a brand sticks to this day upon Gallio (though an Heathen Magistrate) that he cared not for the matters of the Law and Worship,Act. 18. 12. &c. according to the Law, when question was brought, no, though there were insurrections and tumults upon that occasion: and for Gamaliels counsell,Acts 5. 38. 39. Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsell or this work, be of men, it will come to nought: but if it be of God, ye cannot everthrow it, lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. Though it be found within the Bible, yet it is not of like authoritie with one of Solomons proverbs or maximes of Policy: it hath no otherwise the approbation of God for good,Exod. 1. 10. then the designe of Pharaoh, or the crafty counsell of Ahitophell, 2 Sam. 17. 1. which are also recorded in the Scripture, it will not consist with other rules of the word, and it hath been condemned as unsound, and unsafe by many godly wise men; we have more sure words of Scripture, out of which we draw the doctrine of the Magistrates power & duty in the matters of God & religion, then the loose speech of such a Neutralist and time-serving Politician as Gamaliel was. Go on therefore, I beseech you, as ye began; take us the little Foxes as well as the ravening Wolves; provide against the insolencie of Libertinisme as the tyranny of Episcopacie: ye have done something against Idolatry, swearing, and Sabbath breaking; (happy were it if there were life put into them by another Ordinance for the execution of them) what lets that ye should not doe the like against Errours, Haresies, and Schismes? Why should the first Commandement be left out of protection more then the other three of the first Table?
Secondly, to iudge as God iudgeth, to exercise authoritie as God doth, with the minde that is in God, in his way, or according to the rule of his word, and unto his ends.
First, with the minde that is in God, without the mixture of a private spirit, with incorruptnesse, gravitie, sinceritie, justly, uprightly, faithfully, with such a free publique unbyased, unprejudiced spirit, such libertie and courage from a principle within, not popular arguments from without. Authoritie is a ray or beame of divine Maiestie, and shines best when it is least blended with any lust or passion of man: ye know what God said to Moses when hee first called him, to set him over the people;Exod. 3. Pull off thy shoes, &c. id est, according to Theodorets Allegorie or Interpretation, carnall, earthy, sensuall, beastly passions, or all inordinateness of affection; imagine it spoken to your selves: It is his iudgement. Rulers are but the channels, the pipes thorow which it flowes and is conveyed; its their dutie to let it runne as little royled as may be. Set him therefore before you as your copie, Primum in unoquo (que) genere, &c. the patterne of government, Your excellency consisteth onely in conformity to him.
Secondly, according to his word. His law is a glasse into which is shed the image or species of his righteousnesse, imitable and practicable, as well by Rulers in their Spheres, as other people in theirs. If ye looke into that glasse, ye may see how to dresse your selves, and how ye ought to be, and do in place and exercise of power, only goe not away, and forget straightwayes, what manner persons ye are or should be, but continue in the meditation and practise of it, that ye may be blessed in your deed.James 1 […] The law of God is your rule; for the Theorie of all policie, and for the practise too, even for making of laws, the beam and standard by which all lawes must be weighed and tryed. There is a Law above lawes, said the most learned among Kings,King Iames in a Speech in the Star-Chamber. Free and supreame, by which all Municipall laws must be governed, and except they have dependance on this law, they are uniust and unlawfull. It is your guide also for the administration of the government; and all the Bible, especially the Historicall part, is the exemplification of that law, lining the rule with examples: if yee exercise your selves to the reading of it, as David the man after Gods owne heart did, yee cannot be to seeke either for principles, or for presidents; and give mee leave to tell you, that though you have power to give law to others over whom yee judge, yet yee must take law from God, who iudgeth amongst you. I confesse indeed, because yee share in the Legislative power, ye are not so bound up, by, or to the lawes of the land already prescribed, as inferiour officers in courts of judicature, &c. But as to Gods law ye are no more at libertie to goe from, or step beside the Morall equitie and justice of it, then he that comes forth to sing a Song set to his hand, may varie from the Notes or Dittie in the booke, onely he may order his voice for the better grace of the musick, and that must be his care, and therein lies his skill.
Thirdly and lastly, all must be directed to Gods ends. First, his glorie, the dignitie and peace of his Crowne; that they which live under your power, may fall downe and glorifie God, and say, God is amongst you of a truth. Secondly, the publique safety and welfare of the people; not your own personall honour or profit, but the common-wealth: for though all advantage may seeme to flow unto you, yet yee doe receive the same, but as the sea doth the waters, to convey and transmit all back for the benefit of the land.
Now that we may draw to a conclusion both of this use and of the Sermon: For helps to the better practise of these things, and that Magistracie may reach these great and excellent ends; Be pleased to receive these directions from God by the mouth of his unworthy messenger.
First,James 1. 17. derive all your sufficiencie from God the Father of lights, Coloss. 1. 19. and from the Lord Iesus Christ, in whom it pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell. Rest not in natural parts, or what is gained by reading and observation, learning and experience, but receive something more of his Grace, from whom commeth downe every good and perfect gifts, and out of his hand, who is the image of the invisible God: even common skill for the most ordinarie businesse is taught by him. God instructeth the Plow man to discretion. Esa. 2 […]. 27. 28. 29. The Fitches are beaten out with a staffe, and the Cummin with a rod, bread-corne is bruised, &c. This also commeth forth from the Lord of hasts, who is wonderfull is counsell, and excellent in working How much more wisedome and knowledge, 1 Kings 3. 9. with an understanding heart to iudge the people, 2 Chro. 1. 10. and discerne betweene good and bad; for who is able to iudge a great people? It will therefore be your wisedome, what-ever your breeding or other advantages be, to take in daily from God and Christ, (as the pipe from the conduit head) by due acknowledgement and dependencie. No man ever had so much prudence and largenesse of heart, as Solomon, who took it in from God; There cannot be so much found in a cisterne or pond as may be drawne from a spring, neither will the supply be so certaine and constant by nature and morality, as when it cometh downe from him with whom is no variablenesse or shadow of change; the winde from the bellows is not as continued and uniforme, as the breath from the lungs, where Gods visitation preserves Spirit: Job 10. 12. nor can it be trusted to and relyed upon, as that which hee more immediatly gives and sanctifies.Vbi non est sanctitas, fides pietas, instabile regum est. Job 6. 15.
Brooks and Torrents though they sometimes swell high, and shew much, are but waters that will faile: My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brooke, as the streams of brookes they passe away; But a fountaine that is fed from the Ocean, a rill or riveret from the spring, faileth seldome or never, they that come thither are not ashamed, they are not confounded because they hoped: Meere naturall or morall parts and abilities, like ditch water may corrupt; the wisedome of Egypt, Exod. 7. 21. like the waters of Egypt, both by the judgement of God, and the wickednesse of man, may taint and stink, and become unwholsome, nay possibly turne into blood. The wisedome that is from beneath is earthly, sensuall, devillish, but the wisedome that is from above,Jam. 1. 15. 17. is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, easie to be intreated, full of mercie and good fruits, without partiality, without hypocrisie. Neither can a man meerely by Art or Nature be made active for God and Religion, though peradventure he may be a good Patriot for his Countrey. Water will not rise higher (unlesse it be forced) then the spring from whence it came, and ye will also finde it, that at one time or other even the lustre and reputation of such men and such faculties, will fade like faint colours that are not woaded or grained: Whereas the credit and esteeme of the other is laid deeper, and is more solid and lasting:1 Kings 3. 28. They feared King Solomon, because they saw the wisedome of God was in him, to doe iudgement.
Secondly, Pray much & oft for grace, guidance, and blessing. The great men, the Worthies in matter of government were praying men, as Ezra, Nehemiah, and before them Moses, David, Solomon, &c. and the great things for which they are so famous, were obtained by prayer. Its very like that Phinehas was a praying when he was moved to doe that extraordinarie piece of justice on Zimri and Cosbi, Numb. 25. by which the wrath of God was appeased, and himself became renowned, else why should the Holy Ghost direct the Psalmist, recording that Heroick Act, […]. to choose a word that signifies as well to pray, Psal. 106. 30. as to doe iustice? Then stood up Phinehas, and prayed (saith one translation) and executed iudgement (saith another,) […]. and the plague was stayed; and that was counted to him for righteousnesse unto all generations for evermore.
Thirdly, undertake and do all both in Counsell and War in his name, as David when he went out against Goliah, in reliance upon him, as Asa when he fought against the huge hoste of the Ethiopians and Lubims, an hoste of a thousand thousand,2 Chro. 14. 11. and three hundred Chariots: Help us, O Lord our God, 2 Chro. 16. 8. for we rest upon thee, and in thy Name we go against this multitude: and the Lord delivered them into his hand, because hee relied on the Lord. For it is God that girdeth with strength, and maketh your way perfect; he giveth you the shield of salvation, his right hand hath holden you up, and his gentlenes hath made you great: Therefore as the Wiseman counselleth,Pro. 3. 5. 6. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and leane not on thine owne understanding, in all thy wayes acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy pathes.
For motives and incitements wee shall not need to goe out of the compasse of the Psalme to finde them: First, there stands one in the threshold of my Text: God standeth in the Assembly of the mightie. Verily, God is among you, there needs not an empty seat be placed in the midst of your House, wherein ye may imagine God to sit. Hee iudgeth in the midst of you. Hee doth not stand hearkening at the dangerous doore, or behinde the hangings, or a farre off, hearing and seeing imperfectly at a distance, nor receiveth information by his Spie, and Intelligencer within you, though such an one there is, but himselfe (without any breach of your Priviledges) is in your house,Vid. sup pag. 4. in your thoughts, in your hearts. As sure as God is in heaven, He is among you, yea, within you. There is no an Act that ye doe, not a word that ye speak, not a thought that ye think, not an aime that ye have, not a designe that ye drive, but he knows it better then you your selves: when he makes inquisition, he shall not need search the Parliament rolls, look your journall bookes, breake open your studies, send to search your pockets: He himselfe is more in the midst of you, and within you, every of you, then you your own selves. If any man among you should have taken the covenant with his lips, his heart not consenting; should pretend for God, and intend for himselfe; looke to Westminster, and rowe to Oxford; give counsell here, and intelligence there, should cast in any thing to trouble your proceedings, retard the reformation, or spinne out the Warre, &c. doth not God know it?
I beseech you, in the feare of God, consider this, and regard it as the most fixed and resolved truth, that ye may not trespasse against God in the judgement, either within doors or without; God standeth in the assembly of the mighty.
Secondly, There are two or three more folded together in the Text, two offer themselves in the translation, He iudgeth among the gods.
First, All your Counsells, and all your workes move by his influence. The whole disposing thereof is of him, the guidance and successe of all your actions depend upon the Lord, and they are cursed or blessed according to his pleasure: looke as they crosse or comply with him, so they prosper, and so will the issue be.Pro. 19. 21. There are many d […]s in a mans heart, neverthelesse the counsell of the Lord, that shall stand. If any man, or men, consult or goe against God, his Church, his Cause, his Way,Psal. 2. his Word, his Ends, they imagin a vain thing, disquiet themselves in vain,Pro. 21. 30.—There is no wisdom, nor understanding nor counsell against the Lord, Esa. 54. 17. no weapon that is formed against him or his, shall prosper. They consult shame to themselves, and sinne against their owne souls:Psal. 9. 16. The Lord is knowne by the iudgements which he executeth, the wicked is snared in the work of his owne hands. Let them multiply their party, and joyne heads and hands,Esay 19. 11. they are never the nearer; Associate your selves. Jer. 8. 8. O ye people, and ye shall be broken in pieces; gird your selves, and ye shall be broken in pieces; take counsell together and it shall come to nought, speak the word, and it shall not stand: for God is with us. The Machiavillian is the most errant fool in the world,Esay 31. 1, 2, 3. and so are they that take counsell, but not of God; and cover with a covering, but not of his Spirit; or trust on meanes, because they are many; on helps, because they are strong, and looke not to the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord: yet he also is wise, and will bring evil, and will not call back his words. Let them try the conclusion when they please,Jer. 44. 28. they shall know whose word shall stand, (saith God) mine or theirs.
Againe, if ye concurre with God in his Way, and in his Ends, who shall harm you? If God be with you, who shall be against you? Piety is the best policy: they are on the s […] side, and have more then winde and tide; the winde and the Sunne, that have God on their side.
Receive it, I beseech you, as an incouragement to follow on to seeke and serve the Lord in the work of Reformation, and what tends to it, the Work is not so much yours as Gods, and is carried on, not by your might nor power, but by his spirit: Zach: 4. 7. Mountains shall become plaines before Zerubbabel (the agent whom God sets on worke) and he shall bring forth the Head stone thereof with shouting, Grace, Grace unto […]. Possibly your hands that have laid the […] also finish it. Deal couragiously, and the Lord shall be with the good.
Thirdly, God is concerned in the Government, and the manner of the carriage thereof by men: What is done by them among whom be iudgeth, is to the glory or dishonour of his name who iudgeth among them. If good motions should be smothered or diverted, the weighty and necessary concernments of the Church or the Common-wealth be neglected, or retarded, matters in debate carried by party and affection, not by judgement and reason, if the just complaint and cry of the poore should not be heard, if justice should not be done, or there be unrighteousnesse in the non-discharging of debts, or unfaithfulnesse in the deceiving of trust, or any such like, which God forbid, the damage indeed will be to the Publike, or to this or that man; but the sinne is against God, and his Name is polluted thereby: the reproaches that fall on them that doe such things, fall also upon him, in whose stead and place they are which doe them: through them he is evil spoken of:2 Chro. 19. 6. Take heed therefore what ye doe; for ye iudge not for man, but for the Lord, who is with you in the iudgement.
Fourthly,Vid. sup. pag. 4. There is another argument may be found in the various reading of the Text, He will iudge the Gods openly. There is One in Authority over them, that are in authority over others; and they which judge others, must bee judged themselves,1 Sam. 2. 30. and yee know what hee saith, Them that honour me, I will honour; and they that despise me, shall be lightly esteemed. Many times God performs it in this World, our eyes have seen it;Pro. 11. 31. Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth; how much more the wicked and the sinner? But there is no escaping the judgement to come: for the time cometh, the day is appointed wherein he will judge the World in righteousnes,Reve. 19. 12. the small and the great must stand before God, and be iudged according to their works. Foresee, therefore,Job 31. 14. and fore-consider the terrour of that day; thinke the thoughts of Job, When God riseth up, what shall I do? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him? Be wise now therefore, O ye Kings; be instructed ye Judges of the earth: serve the Lord with fear, reioyce with trembling. Kisse the Sonne, lest he be angry, Psal. 2. 10. and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little: Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
We may yet espy one Motive more in the last verse of the Psalm. Arise O God & iudge the earth. There are prayers for, or complaints of you daily sent up to heaven, and these like the vapour that ascends, will be dissolved, either in a shower, or a storm, will blesse or blast their persons and their wayes, for, or against whom they are directed. How lightly so ever men regard prayers, or appeales, when God maketh inquisition he remembreth them,Psal. 10. 17. and forgetteth not the cry of the poore. He that prepareth the heart of men to pray, will cause his own eare to hear, and that with the saving strength of his right hand.
Lastly, that every one may have something to carry home with him, let us close upall in a further and more generall use of the doctrine. Since God iudgeth among the Gods; let us improve the knowledge of it, both for the publique and our owne private a double way.
First, for the time past, and for all the evill which hath befalne us by any errour or disorder in government, or by any miscarriage, in any undertaking by the one side or the other; (for the sad thoughts of those judgements are more proper for the day;) let us be silent because the Lord hath done its Refraine from froward quarrelsome complaining and murmuring, and give glory to God: snarle not at the stone, but acknowledge him that cast it; It is of God, hee hath done what seemed him good.1 Sam. 3. 18. Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more; That which I see not teach thou me, Job 34. 32. if I have done iniquitie I will doe no more.
And for the time to come, let us ingage God by prayer. In nothing be carefull, Phil. 4. but in all things, let your requests be made knowne to God by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. Had we never so sure a word of Prophecie or Promise, by which we might determine the time, and the manner, and the nature of the issue of all these judgements abroad in the earth; yet we ought to pray and make our confession as Daniel, Eze. 36. 37. Dan. 9. 1. There is a rule for it: I the Lord have spoken, and I will doe it, I will yet for this be enquired of by the House of Israel to do it for them. Be the matter never so perplexed, and seemingly impossible, Prayer is an Engine can help at a dead lift; Prayer will draw downe from heaven the influence of God upon Parliament, Assembly, Commitees, Armies, Navies, and all that serve in them, and is done by them, that they may doe the work of God, and prosper.
If a man should busie himself in turning the lesser wheeles of his Watch with his finger, how long and how evenly should he make it goe? but let him winde up the spring and it will keep its course, and measure the time exactly. Neglect this and we labour in vaine, our confidences will distress us and not help us: but if once we can prevaile with God, to plead our cause with them that strive against us, to stand up for our help, and lay his hand upon the hand of those who are the instruments of the preservation of the Land, and the Reformation of the Church, that which they advise and doe, will be the Arrow of the Lords deliverance; But this use is best made in kinde.
Let us pray, &c.