A Sermon, PREACHED AT BAN∣BVRY BY A NEIGHBOVR MINISTER THERE.
2. SAM. and (as our bookes distinguish it) CHAP. 18. VERS. 33.
Then the king was mooued, and went vp to the, chamber ouer the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus hee said; O my sonne Absalom, my sonne, my sonne Absalom: would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my sonne, my sonne.
WEe reade in the former Chap∣ters, of Absaloms strange and vnnaturall practises against his owne father: in this wee reade of as strange a iudgment (as strange sinnes doe beget strange plagues) executed vp∣on him from heauen. The Lord hauing trussed him by the haire, (fit matter for an halter) and Ioab with his men dispatcht him, the King his father is now to vnderstand, the newes; who waiting the tidings at the gate of Mahanai•••, and receiuing a message contrarie to his expectation and desire, (for hee desired nothing lesse then Absaloms death) was exceedingly mooued (as the word implies) and finding Page 2himselfe ouercharged with griefe, he takes couert as soone as he can, gets into the nextroome, there to weepe it out: but before hee could come thither, his heart would breake vnlesse it found a vent, and therefore he discharges himselfe at the staires as he goes, and breakes foorth, as you heare, O my sonne Absalom, &c. which words are vttered, you see, vpon the report of his sonnes death, and containe a report of his behauiour what time the tidings was first brought to him. Plaine they be of themselues, and lie open to the shal∣lowest braine, so that we need no Comment: and for me∣thod, it is against method, to obserue any order in them. Yet if you will, (to the end you may the better see the grounds of the points to be gathered) you may obserue in them two things: First, Dauids sorrow: Secondly, the oc∣casion thereof. The occasion is implied in the first word, which is capable of more readings then it hath letters in it by farre: and heere we render it [Then.] His sorrow is set downe, both as it was inwardly conceiued, and outwardly expressed; conceiued, he was mooued; expressed, partly by deeds; hee wept, which is amplified from the place, on the staires, and in the chamber: partly in words, words (I say) of complaint and wish, and all for his sonne Absalom. Let vs beginne with the first: and sith time will not giue mee leaue to speake of all, let vs gripe as much at once as wee can, and binde many things together within the compasse of few points. Then (saith the text). i. when he had receiued newes touching Absaloms death, the King, i. Dauid, Abso∣loms father, Israels King, was mooned: the word importeth some great alteration in a man by reason either of some feare, or griefe, or anger, or all. Now howsoeuer all these did meet in Dauid, yet in this place his motion is chiefely from griefe: feare had the precedencie before, whilest he was held in suspence, and the issue of the battle was doubtfull: anger tooke its place after, when he• had more leasure to thinke on Ioab: now griefe was predominant, which at the first did amaze him, and after vttered it selfe in teares and complaints. When a man hath some deepe gash, or sudden chop, you shall haue for the present a great Page 3silence (as it were) and the flesh on each side will bee wanne and pale, and then soone after, the blood (which had carried the newes to the heart) issueth foorth most furiously: such was Dauids wound in this place, the newes struck into his heart and astonished him for the time, but hauing a little recouered himselfe, he powreth it forth as you heare and see. Now in that good Dauid, who is here termed the King, is found thus deepely wounded vpon the receit of so hea∣uy tidings, and weepes so bitterly vpon so neare an occasi∣on, (I meane the death of his dearest Absalom) let vs hence note this, in the generall, from the party sorrowing, and the occasion and measure of his sorrow laid togethers That Gods dearest children are exercised with neare and pier∣cing crosses in this life. * It may seeme to bee no good con∣gruitie, to say that Dauid wept, that king Dauid mourned; for Christians to mourne being poore, or Princes being wicked, it is no strange matters but when a man hath God for his friend in heauen, & a kingdome on earth too, what should trouble him? yet for such a one the Lord hath cros∣ses, and those sharpe, those neare, those cutting. * Witnesso Dauid (the man in question) a man after Gods heart: what a life had he in his father in law his time? when went hee to bed with drie eies? when liued hee a merry day? what comfort in Michol his wife? what troubles after Sauls death? what breaches in his familie? what heart break∣ings in his Thamar? in his Amnon? in his Absalom whilst he hued? and now when a man would haue thought him spent and drawen drie, how many teares doth hee spend a∣fresh vpon his death? these crosses come close, cut deepe, here are griefes (in his familiars shall I say? * nay) in his kinsfolkes, his father, his wiues, at Ziklag, his children, his Absalom. And was not Iacob in the same case? was it no∣thing to be rended from his owne fathers house? to liue in feare of his owne brother? to be so vsed by his owne vn∣cle? to be so cosened of his owne wife? to haue his onelie daughter deflowred? to haue his dearest wife to die so vpon his hands? to haue oue sonne banished? another an adulte∣rer, another incestuous? many murtherers; neere crosses, Page 4when vncle, when cosins, when wiues, when children shall be our crosses. And what would you say of Iob, were his case your owne? It may bee you would thinke it a losse to part with so much goods and cattell so soone, to be worth a thousand pound in the morning, and to haue all your grounds vnstockt by night: it may be it would trouble our patience to heare the scornes of base fellowes, and to see that contempt in our owne seruants: but (alas) if our kind∣est friends should quippe vs, and they that were religious censure vs, if our owne wiues should begin to be wearie of vs, and wee should haue the burying of ten children, and first vnburie them, and there see how louingly they sate to∣gether, and what prouision was there made for the chea∣ring of their hearts, and heere plucke out one, there ano∣ther (perhaps) lim-meale and lay them all on an heape: would not this haue wrought vpon vs? But then, if to all this there should be added such plagues on the body, such terrors on the soule, would wee not say, our crosses were sharpe? yes (brethren:) we may say that Iobs were sharpe, and sore and neere, when friends, when seruants, when children, when wife, when God and all seeme to minister matter of griefe. It shall be needlesse to draw you further in examples, these are beyond exception, whether you looke to the goodnes of the men, or the greatnes of their crosses, in all whom we see that verified, which once Salo∣mon the sonne, and Dauid the father deliuered in more ge∣nerall tearmes, the one touching the number of the faith∣fuls afflictions, * that they come by seuens (i troups) in one and the same day, the other touching both number and measures that they are many and great, in number many, in nature weightie, as the word signifies both. But leauing testimonies, what might bee the cause that Gods best chil∣dren are so sped? Is it their religion? Is it their profession? No, * no, it is because they are set with corruption (if you will haue it all at once) and therefore must be purged: For first (a little to enlarge our selues in the vnfolding of some few amongst many reasons) Gods best children will some∣times venture on noisome meates and hurtfull poisons, Page 5they will feede on the grosser sinnes, they will drinke in ve∣ry puddle, I meane iniquities, and when the child hath so done, what should the father doe? If Dauid will lie and commit adultery, and fall to murther innocents, what can God doe lesse for Dauid, vnlesse he would haue him dam∣ned, then scourge him thorowly? what should hee doe but lay it on his skinne, yea and lash his conscience, and when he will bee walking so neere hels mouth, take him by the heeles and make him beleeue he will throw him in? what though he do cry? what though he be crossed of his will? Is it not better hee should cry here then in hell? and receiue his payment here rather then his iudgement there? Is it not better he should lose his sin, then God his child? So then, one cause why the Lord doth thus lay load on his children here, is, because they defile themselues (sometimes) with grosse sinnes, and therefore must haue much washing; they take the deadliest poison, and therfore must haue working physicke. Dauid was gone so farre this way, that to this place hee hath not recouered himselfe, hee deales not like old Dauid as yet, and therefore euery moneth almost hee must haue a purge; and whosoeuer he be that will venture after him in these dangerous paths, shall be sure to passe vn∣der the rod, as Dauid did, if he be Gods as Dauids was. Se∣condly, Gods children if they fall not to deadly poison, yet will they surfet of lawfull meates and pleasures vnlawfully, so childish we are when we are turned loose to delights, that for our liues, wee cannot keepe a meane; wee cannot haue prosperity but wee will abuse it, wee swell, wee bragge, wee snuffe, we looke ouer our brethren and forget our selues, euen the best of vs all. Poore Dauid that scarce euer came where prosperity grew, had but a little rest, and he beganne to dreame of golden mountaines, * hee thought crosses had now taken their leaue of him, and would be afraid to looke into the court, and therfore Absalom is sent out of his bow∣els to confute him. And good Hezechiah who was first humbled at the comming of Saneherib,* and the second time, brought to deaths dore by gricuous sicknes, had no sooner a little respit, but he begins to looke big and to lay Page 6about him, whem embassadors came to visite him, he car∣ries them from place to place, and sets the best side out∣ward: he swaggers not onely with them, but with Esay too (who tooke as small pleasure in this his courting, as many of his cloath doe now in preaching:) ô Esay (saith he) you cannot tell who haue beene here, great states; the king of Babell sent Embassadors to vs, such Princes so farre from vs take notice of vs; and they (I would haue thee know) were royally entertained, wee shewed them withall what store of gold & siluer our treasuries could afford; we would haue them know, that all the wit and wealth is not lodged in Babell, but that Gods people haue it in them and about them too, as occasion shall serue. Thus Hezechiah thought he spake but reason: but the Lord seeing him so ranke, thinkes it time to let him blood, and therefore Esay giues him a cooler, you haue made (saith he) for so in effect hee speakes) a faire hand of your wealth you haue; you haue brought the wolfe to the fold, and now keepe him out if you can: Gold-thirsty Babell now knowes where to haue a draught: and as for your selfe, sith you thinke the better of your selfe for your wealth, the Lord hath made your will, and the king of Babell is your executor. Thus because He∣zechiah surfeited, he is physickt: and this is onother reason of the Lords thus dealing with his people, because the diffe∣rence is not great whether you eate bad meate, or surfet on good. [ 3] Thirdly, God had but neede to diet the best of vs sometimes, because we be so lazie when we are full, much like to a man that comes newly from a feast, fit for nothing; we follow our calling as if we would drop on sleepe, we per∣forme exercises of religion, as children say their lessons, minding euery thing rather than that in hand: wee come to the ordinances of God, as fed wantons to a feast, nothing pleaseth vnlesse it be some odde sawce or new inuention, the worst dish on the table; so it is with vs, when wee come to the word, the sense must be pleased as well as the heart e∣dified, else it is but a dry feast, one tricke of wit doth more affect, than twenty gratious sentences: now when the Lord sees our mouth so farre out of taste, that it cannot Page 7relish our meate, and discouers in vs such a lazinesse about our busines, he thinkes it reason to prouide some remedie in time, lest these fore-runners of sicknes breake forth into worse inconueniences; and surely Dauids practise and case may affright vs all; for (alas) how did he gather mud, when he had stood still a while? and how would his corruptions againe haue growne to some head, had not Absalom beene raised vp to breath him, and to disperse them? Now if Da∣uid were so foggie after so many breathings, Dauid a man of so good a diet, how resty should wee bee if neuer walkt? how grounded on our lees with Moab, if neuer turned forth from vessell to vessell? It stands the Lord therefore vpon, if hee will prouide for his haruest, and our good, to take some paines with vs, lest otherwise he faile of his vintage, whilst we want dressing.
[ 4] Fourthly, (and in a word) crosses had need to come, and come thicke, and come in strength to the strongest of vs, because in the best there be many and strong corruptions: ô the pride, the pride, the vnbeleefe, the ignorance, the selfe-loue that lodges in the purest soule; would yee not haue thought that Dauid by this time had almost emptied himselfe of all pride, that all passions, all loue of the world, all carnall affections had beene well nere buried? but see, see, when crosses come, how he laies about him, hee sobs, he roares, he would die in a passion, as if he knew not what he did, or cared not what he said; now should not such a stomach as this be taken downe? yes, the child had beene spilt there if the rod had beene spared: and therefore God laies it on. Now if good Dauid after so much breaking and so long standing in religion, be so waspish, so impatient, so passionate, do not you thinke that there is some store in vs? let vs be crossed a little, cannot we chafe? let vs be abused, cannot we find our tongues? adde to this our worldlines, cannot wee bee content to liuelonger in this world (bad though it be?) do we not dote too much on one Absalom or other? be not our hearts yet vnbroken? why then you see, God must smite and smite againe, and smite home, & draw blood: for no sound heart must go to heauen, as none Page 8but sound hearts must come thither, sound (I say) from hy∣pocrisie, but broken with sinne and sorrow: thus wee see great cause of great affliction on Gods part, sith our sinnes are great which must be purged and preuented, our surfers great which must be cured, our deadnesse great, which must be quickned, our inside bad, which must be cleansed. Time will not giue to speake of all: One more reason shall bee drawne from our owne practise, and so an end. As God laies many crosses on vs, so we may thanke our selues for many too, not onelie in that we doe deserue them, but in that 〈◊〉 worke them out of our owne bowels: for many we diaw vpon our selues by riot, Idlenesse, vnthrif•nes, rage, &c. and the most we make more heauy (that are heauie e∣nough already) through our owne folly, and that is whilst we rake into our wounds looking no higher, and what with vnbeleefe and impatience, doe double the crosse on our selues. Dauids burden was heauy enough already, hee did not neede to increase it: yet such is Dauids weaknesse, he cannot choose, it is his Absalom, prety Absalom, and there∣fore he must pay for his passions; and thus, when God af∣flicts vs in measure (as euer he doth his children) wee make our crosses beyond measure, because we keep no meane in mourning, and not onely so, but we prouoke our father to giue vs somewhat for brawling and for strugling: & thus we see some reasons of ours so great & neare afflictions, taken partly from our selues, partly from our God. The wicked will happily thinke themselues wronged, that we giue not them and their master the credit of the Saints troubles, but (to speake properly) they are no causes, but onely executi∣oners, they are hangmen and bedles; when an execution is to be wrought, and the Lord hath assigned some of his shrewdest children to punishment, they shall haue the of∣fice sometimes to bee the gaoler or belman, that is their preferment. Leauing therfore these scullians in the kitchin there to scoure a vessell or licke a dish when they shall bee called vpon, let vs make our vse of this so large a Do∣ctrine, and see whether wee can bee briefer there. First then;Page 9
Is this so, * that Gods dearest children haue and must haue such great and piercing crosses in this life? then must all who would be knowne by that name, make account of such and prepare for them. Such is our follie (for the most part) when the sunne shines, we neuer thinke of a darke night, & when the morning is faire, wee neuer feare a storme, and therefore are sometimes taken without our cloake (as it were.) Such also is our conceit of our selues, and confidence in worldly helps, that we hope they will not see vs want; or if they faile, yet we thinke to shift better then others can, & to liue by our wits: hence it is, that we are almost growen to Babels conclusion. Though others be widowes, fatherles, childlesse, comfortles: yet wee shall see no sorrow. But it will be granted (I trow) that our nature needs physicke, as much as other mens (there is no difference in the mould) & that our carriage hath not beene so good, but that iustly we may feare some brushing. It may be, Dauid was as honest a man as some of vs, * perhaps Hezechiah was not farre behind vs, possible Paul might match vs in any grace, and haue as little pride, hypocrisie, self-loue, passion in him as the best of vs all; yet were these (holy men) greatly afflicted and wonderously straitned, & why should we dreame of peace: If wealth would discharge a man of crosses, Hezechiah was not poore: if honour, Dauid was a king: if either witte or grace, Paul was no babe: but these will not serue the turne, kings children must haue physicke (if sicke) as well as poo∣rer mens; why should they not? so must the Lords. Our Prince is consecrated through afflictions, our way is an af∣flicted way (as you would say) and it is the voice of heauen, that thorow manie tribulations we must enter into heauen. Now then, sith the case so stands, that either wee must dis∣claime the right of children, or else indure afflictions, either passe vnder the rod or be bastards, let vs (vnlesse we meane to shame our selues) arme our selues for crosses before hand, and not prepare onely, but prepare for all, yea the nearest of all. For what hath befallen Dauid and others, why may not the same befall vs? some wiues haue great crosses in their hus∣bands, some husbands in their wiues, some parents in chil∣dren, Page 10some children in parents, some are neerely toucht in their body, some in their estate, some other in their name, in their soule othersome, and where is our discharge? who hath exempted vs? may not we neede them as much as o∣thers? doth not God loue vs as well as others? are not these things written for our vse? O then let vs thinke on these things in this our peace, and now lay in for a rainy day, now whilst wee can pray, now whilst our bodies are free from distemper, and our affections from trouble, now whilst wee are our owne men, and haue freedome (as it were) of heart; now let vs hoard vp praiers against the time of trou∣ble, when as either in respect of sicknes in body, or sorrow of minde, we can say no more then Dauid now can (my son, my son, my paine, my paine, my heart, my heart.) Now let vs treasure vp faith and patience, and wisedome, as lo∣seph did corne, sith a day of vtterance will come, a day of spending, not of getting, a day wherein our owne stocke & the Churches treasury too (I meane others praiers) will bee little enough: do notthinke it sufficient to haue somewhat before hand, wee are not at agreement with crosses to de∣part when we giue warning; neuer forget Dauid, a man not meanely graced, nay a great husband, who had his soule well stockt, and in good plight, and yet how vnhandsome∣ly doth hee now behaue himselfe? Ah Dauid, thou wast wont to haue praiers, and gracious meditations, as ready as Aburs sword that would drop out of the sheath: But now here is nothing but my son, my son; and little doe we know how we shall fling out in distresses, vnlesse we are very wel appointed. Now lastly whilst the Lord doth offer him∣selfe vnto vs as a louing father, let vs come vnto him like obedient children, let vs confesse against our selues, and re∣concile our soules vnto him: Let vs seeke to him (as once the Sidomians did to Herod) through Christ (as they through Blastus) for his fauour (as they for Herods loue,) * and then being at peace with him in our peace, and acquainted with him in our prosperity, he will know our soules in aduersi∣ty, and we shall alwaies haue a rocke to sly vnto in the great∣est waues and surges. Thus we see what course must be ta∣ken Page 11if crosses shall not hit vs on the bare, & take vs on the blind side: the practise we put vpon you, as you loue your ease, for there is little comfort to bee hoped for in crosses, vnlesse there bee some preparation for them. Men may thinke themselues armed when they haue men and money to befriend them: but then, (neuer till then) are wee fitted for crosses, when God & our owne consciences are friends with vs, and stand for vs, and therefore if we will make sure worke, let vs go to heauen for friends, not to the earth, and be more carefull to get grace in our hearts, then gold in our chests, for crosses bee as the minde and man bee, not as the outward estate. And this is the first vse that I would haue made of this point. The second standeth thus:
[ 2] Is this so, that the dearest of Gods children haue great and neere afflictions in this life? then this must teach the wicked to leaue iudging abroad, and to looke homeward: they are on horsebacke, they, when Gods children are vn∣derfoote, it is their ioy to see the faithfull grieue, they can∣not hold but role it out; These (say they) be the fellowes, these preachers so much magnifie, these the happy ones, these goe away with all the comforts, they cannot doe a∣misse, they; but by your leaue, such a iudgement hath be∣fallen one, such a plague another, and which of them es∣capes better? and this they get by running to sermons, & thus they triumph. But stay a while, and pause better on the matter: are Gods children thus wounded? what shall become of his enemies? are the righteous thus paid, how much more the sinner? Is this done to the greene tree? Doth the Lord thus visit those vpon whom his name is called? doth iudgement thus begin at Gods house? where shall the wicked appeare are infirmities accompanied with crosses? what will be the end of idolatry, of blasphemy, of murther, of adultery, of oppression? are the waies to ser∣mons thus strawed with crosses, what shall be found in the waies of whoredome, of blood, of drunkennesse? &c. Was Dauid for murther and adulterie once committed, thus en∣tertained, what will thy end be, who still liuest in the ordi∣narie practise of such like sinnes? yea answere this (if thou Page 12canst) are Gods owne people who haue the spirit of God to pray in them, Christ, and all the Saints on earth to pray for them, who iudge themselues daily, who walke constāt∣ly with God, (are they) thus handled in case they do at any time breake forth? then tell me what thy doome is like to be, who neuer praiest, neuer repentest, neuer striuest against sinne, but hast sold thy selfe to do wickedly? Go on then with thy tale, Gods children are afflicted, and greatly affli∣cted too; I will grant you all; but wote you what? if Gods children (whom hee loues next vnto himselfe in Christ) cannot be exempted from crosses, (bitter crosses) notwith∣standing all their repentance, all their teares, all their prai∣ers, but their soules shall grone, and hearts ake, because they be so stubborne and performe holie dueties no more, no better; I report me to thee, whether thou dost not think that Gods iustice will one day haue thy blood, thy life, thy soule, for all thine abominations which thou dost not re∣pent for, but laughest at, which thou dost not pray against, that they may be pardoned, but fretrest that they should be disgraced, and which thou art so farre from leauing, that thou couldest drinke his blood that reprooues them in thee. And if so, then either make vse of the faithfuls trou∣bles, and quickly iudge thy selfe, or else, take euery disgrace, euery disease, euery affliction that befalles them, to bee a pledge of that euerlasting shame, and those euerlasting tor∣ments, woes, plagues, curses, that shall seize vpon thee for euermore. I know thy plea before thou speake, but (alas) it will not hold; Christ (thou wilt say) will salue all, he died for sinners, and what needs all this? And did he so? could not Christ when he stood in our roome, and sustained the person of a sinner (though in himselfe sinlesse) could not he (though he were the heire and first borne) escape, vntill his blood was shed, and flesh rent, and soule poured forth as an offering? then either make it good, that thou art in Christ, and become a new creature, or else take thy leaue of all hope and comfort: nothing remaines but a fearefull expectation of iudgement; and that is thy vse. A third we thus inferre, but briefly:
Page 13 [ 3] Is this the estate of the most godly and best beloued in this life? then as this must teach vs to thinke neuer the worse of our selues or others for outward crosses, (which like haile and snow do light vpon the best gardens, as well as on the wilde wast, and like blustering winds will spare no more Princes children then the poorest beggers) sith thus we cannot conclude, vnlesse we will either challenge Gods loue, or the best Christians truth, euen Dauids, Pauls, &c. so must it cause vs to looke vpward, to waite for our re∣demption, and to sigh for heauen, where we shall bee free from all these miseries. When we are from home amongst our friends, our hearts are still homewards though our cō∣pany be good, our welcome kind, our entertainement of the best, fare, lodging, all better then any wee shall finde at home: yet home is homely (say we) and away we goe, en∣treaty will not fetch vs againe: Now if we can be content to change for the worse, because the one is our home for a few daies; how much should we desire heauen (the onely true mansion) where wee are sure to change all for the better? where our estate shall be bettered, and our company and our bodies and our soules; how ought wee to reach after this, and to thirst for it? If Dauid panted after the suburbs, the Church on earth, what should our affection be towards the Citie it selfe? If Moses preferred the Saints troubles before the treasures of Egypt, what treasures on earth shold keepe our desires from the glorious estate of Christ in hea∣uen? and if the Queene of Sheba was content to goe from home, and from much of her wealth, that so she might be acquainted with Salomon, why should not wee desire home, that we might grow acquainted with Iesus Christ, and see him face to face: especially, sith in this iourney wee shall part with nothing but what we may well spare, sinne and corruption? how thankfull ought we to be for Gods mer∣cie, that whereas our fathers liued some fiue hundred, some six hundred, some more yeares, and serued a long appren∣tiship, the Lord gratiously hath shortned our lease, & cals vs from this trouble some sea, into the hauen by that time they were well entered? This is a matter that should some∣what Page 14refresh vs in this our iourney, and worke those to pati∣ence who cry at the mention of heauen, how long? truth it is (to speake one word to them) the earth is tedious to such as haue beene in heauen, they do not like to bee pil∣grimes here, when once they are enrolled Citizens there: but sith wee shall (hereafter) bee alwaies receiuing wages, why should we not be pleased to do a little worke? and sith our God hath cut off so many of our sorrowfull daies, why should not wee with cheerefulnesse bestow these few vpon him? I know no affliction is for the present ioious, all are tedious: but if wee will but looke forward, and fasten our eies vpon that crowne and kingdome that shall so shortlie come into our hands, and backward, and see our desert, & what others haue felt, how we fare and lie, and go euery day better then Christ here did (the most of vs) our crosses will not seeme so strange, as Gods mercies & patience towards vs wonderfull: As for that crosse of crosses, (sinne and cor∣ruption) whereof you would be so gladly eased, (alas) how should I comfort you against that? I cannot blame you, nor maruell at it, if you be willing to be any where (much more in heauen) so you may be rid of sinne, that indeed is a bad neighbour, which will put a man to Rebeccaes complaint, I am wearie of my life: but yet (my brethren) sith we do but drink as we brewed, nay, sith the Lord mingled this worm∣wood with so many sweetes, and much allayed the strength therof: sith these our corruptions haue receiued their mor∣tall wounds, and are now breathing out their last breath: sith the Lord will so suddenly dispatch them in compari∣son of former times, that long we shall not dwell together: sith he sees some vse of this poison & turneth that to good, (a common good) which in it selfe is hurtfull: sith further he hath giuen vs some graces, as he hath left in vs (for our exercise) some corruptions: sith (lastly) grace hereafter shall onely come in question, and our debts shall be set vp∣on anothers score, and for the present, he puts a difference betwixt vs and sinne in vs, (as betwixt poison and the box that holds it) let vs haue patience towards him (though not toward sinne) and so fall out with corruption, that wee for∣get Page 15not mercies: But I haue stept a little aside to call v∣pon some friends: I now proceede. Hauing thus dispatcht the first thing growing out of these circūstances named, we must come to a second, which is almost as generall (for when should we haue done, if we should descend to parti∣culars?) this that we may make way vnto, let vs a little view Dauids behauiour in this his distresse. There is none of vs can denie, but his occasion of griefe was great, great reason hee had to mourne, who saith to the contrary? It was no small crosie to see ones child die in such a quarrell: but yet there is a meane in all things (as the prouerbe runneth) his behauiour is very strange, his mourning not like Dauids: for whereas this riuer and flood of teares may seeme to bee fed from a three-fold spring, flesh, nature and grace, and so his sorrow to be partly spirituall, for Absaloms soule, part∣ly naturall, in that he was his sonne, partly carnall, in that he was his Absalom: yet the truth is, his sorrow is rather carnall then otherwise, if the parts be considered: for first, nature goes not so farre as to wish the destruction of it self, as Dauid here doth; O that I were dead, dead for thee, or in thy stead: and as for grace, it would neuer bring forth such fruits of passion, as to wish death in discontentment, nor prouoke to whining in this vndecent maner, but would haue composed the affections rather, and haue taught him to mourne in silence; Besides, his sorrow is too much to be good, and comes with too much ease from him, and is too soone ripe to be spirituall fruit. Howsoeuer then we deny not, but Dauid was a sanctified man, and so had sanctified affections, and withall was full of naturall affection, yet in this particular, and at this instant; he was more vnnaturall to himselfe, then naturall to his sonne, and bewrayed more flesh for the present by farre, then spirit, yea, that so drow∣ned this, that the motions thereof, could not as yet bee heard. Now this light beeing thus giuen to the words fol∣lowing, you see the points do offer themselues so fast vnto vs, and come so thicke vpon vs, that wee know not well which to receiue, and what to put backe. This (if you say the word) shall lead the way: In that this man (no worse a Page 16man than Dauid) thus exceeds in sorrow vpon this occasi∣on, in so carnall a manner: * Let vs learne, that Gods best children are apt to grieue too much, and to exceede in pas∣sion for outward things; as in mirth, when once we are in, we are apt to forget our selues; so in sorrow, when once wee yeelde vnto it, wee are in danger of surfetting vpon it. A man would thinke that Dauid should bee as little troubled with this disease as any man liuing; for whether you looke to nature or grace, the bankes seeme to be so sound, that no excesse of sorrow can ouerflow them: for first, if you looke to complexion, he seemes to bee made of the lightest tim∣ber, a man whose ruddy face seemes to promise a resolute and cheerefull heart: if you looke to naturall helpes, his skill in musicke (to say nothing of any else) was not ordina∣ry: and as for spirituall meanes, the best medicines to cure discases, the king was behind none in these matters: his gra∣ces were very eminent, his experience much; and yet if Da∣uid will but plod awhile on crosses, nay, if hee will not bee prepared for them, it is strange to see how vnlike himselfe he is, he cries as if he had beene stickt. In the next chapter he takes vp the same note againe: nay, he will die forsooth, he will be gone, he will to his sonne: and why? he is his Ab∣salom. And what thinke you of Iob?* the Lord himselfe giues him a good report, out of doubt hee was an honest man; but did you euer heare a wise man so farre forget himselfe? he is angry with the light, quarels with the night, hath a saying to the starres, to his mother, to the midwife, there is no dealing with him in his fit, and yet the occasion out∣ward. Instances of this kinde there bee more then enow, but they are vnpleasant, and therefore I will content my selfe with one more, and that is Ionah, as strange a man of an honest man as you haue lightly heard of. This Ionah was crossed (as he thought) first in his credit: * how bare he that? vntowardly enough, the matter seemed naught, starke naught to him (saith the text) he chased exceedingly: and what was the matter? the Lord preferred many mens souls before the satisfying of his lust: a great matter: yet this man would not brooke it at Gods hand, till the Lord tooke him Page 17downe: well, the second time, he was crossed in his ease, and a roote (I cannot tell what to terme it, whether tree, or shrub or stalke; a trifle it was which he pleased to fancy for his turne) but would you thinke that a Prophet would chase at the losse of such a thing? why, this and his heate put him into his old tune againe, he will be dead in a passion; God comes to pacifie him, it will not bee, hee is angry, * he hath reason to be angry, he will be angry, yea, would hee could burst and kill himselfe with anger. What is the matter? It is belike for some great sinne, because hee hath offended God: no (sir) he is the plaintiffe, God had rather (in his con∣ceit) trespassed him: and this is Ionah; let vs stay in him (for we can hardly match him, and yet a good man) what may be the reason of these excessiue fits for outward things? * The reasons are many; amōgst many these are some: first, a great mistaking and errour in iudgement, wee ouerprize these outward things, and promise to our selues that from them, which neuer any found in them: and therefore wee ouer-greeue, when we are disappointed of them. Thus Dauid thinkes Absalom the pretiest fellow in a country, no man had such a child as was Absalom: and therefore when he is dead, Dauid cannot liue: thus because the iudgemet makes too great a report of outward things to the affection, the affection makes too great adoe about them, the one being blinded, the other is bewitched: and that is a second reason (sith we are fallen into it) namely the distemper of the af∣fections, when we haue outward blessings we loue them but too well; and therefore when wee lose them we greeue too much; for make a breach in one affection and you weaken all, as the whole army is weakned if any part bee disorde∣red, the whole building the worse for the remouing of someone stone, and the whole body infeebled by the wou∣ding of one part: Thus because Dauid wil passe ouer his af∣fections to his sonne in his life time, and settle his joy in Absalom, he cannot be master of them nor command them when he is dead, hee will bee fond whilst he hath Absolom, no body must touch him, the winde must not blow vpon him, therefore hee will extremely lament when hee loseth Page 18him, and no body must comfort him, because his Absalom is not. Adde vnto this in the third place the deceitfulnes of our owne heart, which doth but cosen vs, and the subtiltie of the diuell, who to the end he may carrie vs headlong with the whirlewind of passion into a sea of troubles, will beare vs in hand, that wee haue reason to grieue, and to bee passionate. Thus Ionah stands vnto his cause, and beeing drunken with passion, he cannot see but he hath the better of God: Thus Dauid (had a man closed hith him, and as∣ked him, what he meant to be so loud)? would quickly haue beene his talsemaster, what? (would hee haue said) would you haue me vnsensible of such a stroke as this? is there no thing to be done by the parēt, when the Lord thus singles out his child? ought not the father to take notice of it? es∣pecially I must, sith I did not the part of a father to him: he should, ere this, haue beene executed for his sinnes, I let him run on, but now the Lord hath met with him and mee too to my woe: It is iust vpon me, and I am perswaded, I ought not to let it passe without some vse; I must greeue: and yet, were I sure, his soule were now in heauen, I would care the lesse, but (alas) the example is searefull, so to liue, so to die. Faire words (good Dauid:) he speakes as he thinkes (good man) but he knowes not his owne heart, is this the cause that you would haue died for him? was it because he had sineed? because you had failed in duetie? (alas) what could your death do for his soule, or your owne discharges no, no, hee was your darling, you cannot spare him, you must alwaies beare him in your eie, hence those teares: and thus we run on many times in a tale, and would faine per∣swade our selues, that what we do, is done with iudgement, when (God knowes) our sorrow is as full of flesh as Dauids here was; and thus what through the errrour of our minds and disorder of our affections, and deceitfulnesse of our owne hearts, and Sathans cunning, it comes to passe, that we are in the depth of sorrow and passion (as the Aramites in the mids of Samaria) before we know where we be.
Now this being so, * that the best of vs all are subject to immoderate sorrow for outward things, we must not onely Page 19learne to beare with one another in this our common frail∣ty, but further euery one for himselfe must fence and mound his heart against these absurd passions and exces∣siue griefes. Many outward things be so base, (in respect of man) that they should not once moue him, they be not worthy his cares or thoughts, vnfit to belodged in the mea∣nest roome of mans soule; to name them the same day with man, were to set them aboue their place; to bestow teares on these, were to wash stables with sweet water, not worth the while, nor the cost. All of them are but finite, none ab∣solutely good, and therefore our griefe for them must be limited with respects, and vsed with great moderation, els it will degenerate and turne carnall. Neither will it serue the turne to plead that our sadnesse hurts no body, but our selues, and that therein we are enemies to none but to our selues: for were this a true plea, yet were it vnsufficient; for who gaue vs a commission to hurt our owne persons, and to practise murther vpon our owne bodies? but this is not all, for besides a priuate wrong, wee rob God of his glorie, and men of that seruice we owe vnto them; indeed, world∣ly sorrow makes vs both vnthankful to God, and vnprofi∣table to man, * and vnnaturall to our selues (as hence might be shewed, but we cannot stand on all) and therefore let vs striue against it. Let vs, (will some man say) let vs if we can, but how should we be armed against the excesse of world∣ly sorrow? can you giue me any preseruatiues against it? Answere, some we will, many we might, but so farre as we practise these following, we shall be freed of this vnprofi∣table guest.
1. Let vs denie our selues in all worldly matters, and not engage our affections vnto them, either to be eagerly set vpon them when we haue them in chase, or to bee foo∣lishly puft vp with them, whē we haue them in possession; for if we do not leaue them, till they leaue vs, it is sure they will leaue vs in the lurch in the end: witnesse Dauid, Absa∣lom was gone ere Dauid had denied himselfe in Absalom, and therefore now here is nothing but roaring, whereas if he before had sacrificed his name, and crucified his affe∣ction; Page 20he would neuer haue stood vpon those termes, ô my sonne my son, what will the world say, that my sonne should come to this? but he would haue comforted him∣selfe in his GOD (as elsewhere he did) and said, * It is the Lord, let him doe what seemeth best to him: and so, if wee could denie our selues in our husbands, wiues, children, names, &c. we would neuer take on so, when wee part, my son, my son, my husband, my child, &c: but as we were not doted with them whilst we had them, so neither would we be discouraged when we lost them. But heere is the misery (let vs see it and amend it) we lay the whole strength of our affectiōs vpon the things we fancy (as the creeple laies his ful waight vpon his crutches) and therefore when they are taken from vs (as Pharaohs chariot wheeles) we are downe vpon all foure, and sticke in the mud: yea we set on our affections as the Bee his sting, with all our might and strength, wee conuey vnto others our very bowels and hearts, and therefore when they are gone, we are heartles. We see the errour, what is the remedy? Reioice as if we re∣reioiced not, and then we shall mourne as if wee mourned not; be not too glad when the sun shines, and then thou wilt not be too sad when a cloud comes. [ 2] To this we must adde a second thing, which in part hath beene alreadie toucht, and that is often to thinke on crosses before they come, and to promise our hearts no great matters from the world, for what is the reason, that wee grow so passionate sometimes but this, ô I neuer lookt for this, I neuer drea∣med of such a day? yea but whose fault and folly is that, not to looke for crosses on the sea? why should wee not thinke to be crossed as well as Dauid, and as soone as Da∣uid? Absalom was lusty in the morning, dead ere night, may not the like crosses steale suddenly on vs? but this was Dauids owne errour, he thought when God had giuē him a fine child, that hee must needs bring comfort and peace to his father, call him Absalom, (saith Dauid) I hope he will be a good man and a peaceable child one day; and to say the truth, where should a father looke for comfort sooner then from his childe? but yet, it proues otherwise Page 21you see, Absalom is named (as they say Popes be) by con∣traries, his name and nature agree like a boatman and his oares, that looke two contrary waies; poore Dauid met with nothing lesse then that hee expected. Let vs learne some wisedome from his misery, let vs not become sureties for the world in a debt of comfort, but rather suspect her and correct our selues, saying, I now take some comfort in this child, I solace my selfe in this outward blessing, but let me be moderate, who knowes what sorrow it may breed mee ere I die? Thus if wee could forecast perils before they come, and bee well appointed to receiue them when they doe come, wee might better quit our selues in crosses then vsually we doe; but when we are in our iollity, wee cannot heare on that side: O spare your speech, or else you kill my heart, doe you say, that I must part with my husband, and bury my child? what my Absalom? I hope I shall neuer liue to see that day, at least not yet a while, and thus you will not heare of crosses till they come, and then you can∣not beare them, because they come so suddenly. Others know well enough there must bee a time of parting, what need you tell them that? but in the meane you must beare with them, for in truth they cannot chuse but loue their friends, and take their part in all God sends (as if there were no difference betweene louing and doting, betweene mo∣derate drinking, and excessiue drunkennesse) and they doe not doubt, but when God calles them to crosses, hee will fit them for crosses, and thus they run on. But is it like lie that he wil beare afflictions patiently, who cannot with pa∣tience heare them spoken of? Is this the way to bee furni∣shed for winter, to sit still and say, if God call me to winter, he will fit me for winter, and in the meane time make no prouision, but say, whiles he sends warme & dry weather, I will take my part? No, in summer thou must thinke of winter, in thy prosperity, of aduersity, else thou wilt bee soone in Dauids tune.
[ 3] Thirdly, wee must haue a speciall eie to our dealings in outward matters, that wee do not abuse them to Gods dis∣honour, nor defile them with sinne and wickednes, for thē Page 22if wee be crossed in them, we shall soundly smart for it, be∣cause those crosses will come with a sting; Dauid was not so found in the matter of Absalom, as with more credit he might haue beene, and therefore Absalom stickes by him longer then he should. And (surely brethren) crosses are like pinching frosts, they will search, they will examine where we are most vnsoūd, we shal soonest plaine, & where most corruption lies, there we shall most shrinke when the burden comes: would wee not then greeue too much for outward things? let vs not sin in the vse of them: would we keepe out carnall sorrow? keepe out cursed sin: if we let this canker cate into our hearts, Gods medicines must pierce as deepe, els what recouery? build on this (brethren) sin alwaies makes way for sorrowe; in that measure that sinne taints vs, crosses will sling vs; this is a true saying and of all men to be beleeued. But I am slow.
[ 4] A fourth remedy is this, we must breake the streame of our affections, and turne our sorrow vpon our sin, & place all our happines in Iesus Christ, so we shall be sure that our sorrowe shall be alwaies moderate, so shall we be freed frō the worst of sorrowes, that which is false and imaginary, for true sorrow eates vp false, as Aarons rod the Egypti∣ans, and false is euermore hurtfull and violent then true, as bugbeares more affright children then true men. Again, godly sorrow kils worldly griefe, as spirituallioy mars car∣nall mirth: let sin ly heauy, and outward crosses will bee light; mourne that thou hast displeased God and defaced his image, and thou wilt haue little leasure to mourne for worldly matters: againe, if Christ be all thy ioy, and all thy comfort be shut vp in the Lord, thou canst neuer bee left comfortles, sith Christ euer liues in thee and for thee. But here is the spite, we mistake the marke, we passe sin, and spend our sorrow on the world, we leaue Christ, and be∣stow our affections elsewhere, hence wee are to speake of comfort when we should vse it, & lose our labour in sor∣rowing amisse. Thus Dauid bestirs him for Absalom, and when all is done, he must vnwinde and vnwrap all againe. How happy we, if we now learne to place our ioy and sor∣row Page 23aright? [ 5] Lastly, if worldly sorrow shall not beare vs downe, let vs be much in conference with God, and in the practise of holy dueties, pray much, abound in thankesgi∣uing: this is Pauls prescription to the Philip,* you may write probatum est vpon the head of it; for there is no crosse so great vnder the cope of heauen, but praier and thanksgi∣uing will lighten it; as there is none so easie, but plodding and vnthankfulnes will make it heauy. Let then our com∣plaints be made to God, and let that time which is spent in aggrauating crosses and vnkindnesses, be spent in recount∣ing mercies and deliuerances, and then crosses will bee as small in our esteeme, as they bee in truth: and had Dauid thought on this, to haue cried, ô my son Salomon, in stead of Absalom, and seene Gods mercie in the one, as well as Gods iustice in the other, and in this heate of passion draw∣en himselfe into Gods presence, and listed vp one faithfull praier, these stormes would haue vanished (as a mist before the Sun) and he would haue saued himselfe a great deale of paines: but he cannot as yet pray, and therfore as yet here is no cófort. O let our sorrowes bring vs speedily to God, and then comfort will come riding vpon the clouds to∣wards vs. Let vs presently fall to praier and thanksgiuing as once Iob did, and betake our selues to the word and pro∣mise, or to some holy conference, when our fits doe come vpon vs, and we shall quickly breake the course & strength of them. Thus if we will learn to denie our selues in world∣ly things, vsing them so, that we abuse them not, if we will thinke on crosses before they come, and not leaue all till afterward; if we will be iust in getting, and vpright in vsing the things of this life, that we do not enuenim them with sinne; if we will bestow our sorrow on our sin, & make that our chiefest griefe and greatest crosse; if (lastly) we will bee much in prater, thanksgiuing, meditation of the word, &c. our strength will be so much against crosses (at least) our comfort in them, that we shall not need to feare any hurt from them, but may comfortably expect benefit by them: fure it is, if these meanes keepe vs not dry-shod, * they will keepe our head aboue water, wee shall bee but washed with Page 24Paul,* not drowned. And this of that vse; you shall find me briefe in all that followes. A second vse is this: [ 2] Do Gods best children exceed sometimes in sorrow for outward things: then must we not be altogether discoura∣ged, though we find our worldly greefe more then our spi∣rituall sorrowe, for this is a thing that may befall the best, they may be immoderate in the one whē they are too short in the other: the best haue many teares to bestow vpon some outward thing, when they cannot without much tra∣uell weep for their many sins; was not this sometime good Dauids case? But is not this (will some say) a vile thing that we should more grieue for outward things, than for sin a∣gainst God? It is so, and doth it not shew, that we are won∣derfull carnall? It doth so: why then; what then? How cā I be Gods child? why? how is Dauid? did you euer heare him more loud for his sin then here for Absalom? did hee not weep at Ziklag for outward things, * till he could vveep no more? and yet for all this I vvould not say that Dauid loued outvvard things more then God, or that his sinnes lay lighter then his crosses: for first, he had more sorrovv for his sin, then he should or would haue had for outvvard losses vvhen hee vvas Dauid. Secondly, a little godly sor∣rovve is more then a great deale of vvorldly; more (I say) in substance, though not in bulke, as a little balme vvater is vvorth a poole of mud, a little gold comes to more then a great deale of brasse. Thirdly, his carnall and vvorldly forrovv vvas but a sudden storme, a land-flood, his spiri∣tuall a constant guest; though it vvere composed and silèt (as the deepest vvaters are most still) yet vvas it deepe and soaking. Novv vvhat vvee say of Dauid, the same (if you change the name) must be vnderstood of euery good chri∣stian, vvho is not to be considered according to that he is, vvhen he is drunken vvith passion, but according to that he is vvhen he is his ovvne man and in his vvits; neither must vve looke vvhat men do, but vvhat they meane and vvould do: and therfore so long as vve desire to make our sin our greatest sorrovv, and iudge our selues for our secu∣rity, so long as vve giue all entertainmēt to godly sorrovv, Page 25& stand to keep out worldly, we are in Gods account more spirituall than carnall: as with men, he that keeps a constāt house all the yeere, is said to keep a better house then hee that laies it on once in a twelue month. And this for that point; Now it followes: Q my son] From Dauids mourning and behauiour in this particular, let vs note one thing more: you heare the man, you see his behauiour, was Dauid wont to beare crosses so? nothing so; but you see how it fares with him now, * he can not helpe it. Hence learne we, that Gods children, who beare some crosses with great wisedome and moderation, are sometimes foiled in othersome, and faile in both. Who could behaue himselfe better then Dauid in the matter of Shimei? who worse in the case of Nabal?* how sweete his carriage in many passages between Saul and him? how ad∣mirable his behauiour in one childs death? how absurd in anothers, nay how diuersly affected with the cause of one and the same Absalom? what gratious speeches did he once vtter when he fled from Absolom? what a bedrole haue we here at his death? who could more forget himselfe then place, on such an occasion? How farre was this from poli∣cy, how farre vnlike his carriage in other places? good Da∣uid, the same that would make to heauen at other times, so soone as the crosse had giuen him summōs; the same that was vsed to beare afflictions as patiently as hee beares this, (to say no more) immoderately. And touching Iob,* could any man liuing behaue himselfe better in some crosses? In all this (saith the Lord) summing vp his behauiour in the first conflict) did not Iob sinne, nor shew the least folly in charging folly vpon God: in all which? not in all that first conflict wherein he was so nearely toucht, in his goods & children, but his behauiour it was most religious, he hum∣bled himselfe and worshipped, his speeches very gratious, The Lord hath done all, he is righteous in all, and blessed be his name. Thus Iob at that time, on that occasion; * but how afterward? who he? hee challengeth GOD into the schooles to dispute it out, if he would not take the chalēge Page 26it was because he was notable to stād vnder his argumēts. The like may be said of Ionah, a man of good behauiour; in the first chapter, hee makes an honest confession both of his faith and of his fault, lettles himselfe to die, and lookes as if hee would to heauen anon; but at another time in a smaller crosle, he is no more like himselfe, then an apple is like a nut, hee chides handsmooth with God, and will stand to it that God knowes not when a man speakes reasō if he would tearme him vnreasonable in his passion. But what might be the reason (to passe more instances) of this so vvide a difference? vvhat might be the cause that these so vvorthy champions are thus sometimes foiled? * I vvill tell you: first, It pleaseth God sometimes to set on a crosse, and to make it stick by a man, either because the same par∣ty vvould looke besides former crosses, or kicke them off too lightly, or else because he vvould let him see himselfe, and knovv vvhat he is of himselfe, or for some other cause vnknovvne to vs, but alvvaies iust in it selfe, and vvell knovven to God: Now, if he purpose so to doe, either to withdraw his assistance, or to increase the smart, alas, who can stand vnder it? & thus we see Gods best children more troubled now and then vvith a trifle (in comparison) than vvith greatest torments at another time; and as Christs looking back on Peter, did more affect him, and worke vp∣on him vvhen hee pleased to vvorke vvith it, then many words did at another time; so many times a word mispla∣ced, a countenance mis-set doth more gaule vs, then twen∣ty greater matters, (when God is pleased to pay vs) because euer that is the crosse which he will make the crosse, that most pierceth which he sharpeneth most.
[ 2] 2 Sometimes wee haue not denied our selues in some particular lust, and then if a crosse light there, it soone en∣ters and eates deepe, because we our selues do giue a sling vnto it; an affection vnmortified is assoone wounded as a scaulded head is broken: thus, if you had hit Dauid any where else, he had beene for you, he could haue borne it, but if you touch his Absalom, you pare the quicke, you touch his life, [ 3] Sometimes againe our crosses do not master Page 27vs, they doe but nettle vs, and then they raise those tem∣pests which they cannot lay, they do but bait, they do not worrie our corruptions, & so they make vs chafe. * Thus (in Elihues iudgement at least) the cause why Iob did so beslir him and lay about him, was, because God had not dealt in extremity with him. Thus Ionab, who was tamed when he should be drowned, was a little too lusty for a goard. And surely (brethren) if our crosses were sometimes more, I do not thinke but our firs would be fewer, our outward carri∣age (at least) better. Three ierkes sometimes make the child yeeld, when one would make him dance and stamp. [ 4] Lastly, crosses sometimes steale vpon vs before wee haue armed our selues, and then it is a world to see how wee go downe the winde: Dauid can say somewhat to this also; he was fitted for crosses when the child borne in adultery di∣ed, his heart was sofrned; he had reason to expect its death, sith he was told no lesse, * but here hee lookes for no such matter, he giues in charge that the yong man Absalom (an old traitor (though his boy) should be lookt vnto, hee will not suffer himselfe to thinke that Absalom must die, he will not be humbled for his fondnes past, because hee did not meane to amend it: and therefore this lies vpon him more heauy than sand, he cannot beare it, as he bore the other: and thus we must leaue the point as we found it at first, and tell our iudgements, that one crosse foiles vs, yea, laics vs on our backe, when another (perhaps a stronger) cannot stirre vs, because the Lord sets on one more then another, because we are lesse sound in one place then another, be∣cause we are lesse mastered by one crosse then another, be∣cause we are lesse prepared for one then another.
Now the point is prooued, let vs not suffer it to passe without some vse, though we be the briefer. * Learne hence at least a double point of wisdome: the first respects our brethren; them we must not too lightly censure for their weaknesse and tendernesse in some crosses though light, sith that cannot be light, which God will make heaute; sith that may be light to one, which is as a mountaine to ano∣ther; sith those our brethren may manfully beare farre Page 28sorer crosses then our selues, though humbled in some particular; sith briefly, that which is heauy now, may anon be light to them; and that which now is as a thing of naught to vs, may anon be somewhat if God shall set it on: soft then (my brethren) let vs not be too eager vpon Da∣uid: it may be we haue buried no Absalom as yet, (at least dying in such a sort) it may be we would haue busled more then Dauid did. Had Shimei so greeted vs, or Saul so pur∣sued vs, like enough Dauid would haue beene at patience before vs, in twenty other crosses, and so may our brethren too, euen those we most censure: and therefore haue some patience and mercy toward the afflicted, account not cue∣rie one proud, and carnall, and froward, that is foiled, when we stand.
[ 2] The second lesson our selues must take forth, and make it our owne: and it lookes two waies, as if it were on both sides the lease. First, if wee haue in some measure quitted our selues well in some one or few afflictions, we must not presently triumph and grow secure, as if the day were ours: wee may now giue them the fall, and by and by bee tript downe our selues, if we looke not to our feet. Dauid is be∣fore vs herein: he fought more battles then twenty of vs, and that with great courage and good successe, yet is not Dauid able to stand against this crosse: his Absalom, his Absalom could not be forgotten. And what though wee haue buried a friend? It may be we know not what it is to burie a father, a childe, a wife, a husband. If Amnon bee dead, we cannot tell what an Absalom may worke when his death shall be vntimely. Say pouertie be no great burden to vs, it may be paine and sicknesse will make vs roare: if these blow ouer, a cloud vpon our names may happilie trouble our patience: if wee can bee patient when other mens faults are serued into vs, and laid in our dish, yet it may bee wee shall not claw it off so well, if our kinsfolkes, seruants, * parents, children, yoke-fellowes, shall breake forth, and vnmuzle the wicked against vs. O then let not him bragge, that puts on harnesse, as hee that puts it off: let no man be secure, but euer stand vpon his gard, still rea∣die Page 29to receiue and to award these blowes that fall vpon him like haile and shot: and so if he doe, then on the other side, let him not cast away his buckler because hee was wrought a rap, but looke better to his hand another time. What though Dauid bee now downe? hee may rise againe for all this, and prooue himselfe old Dauid still; though he be a little eclipsed, yet may he shine forth afresh, and make many an holy praier and Psalme after this: and though he now flie, yet may he fight and triumph againe ere hee die, and so maiest thou too, though for the present deiected. That Peter that was once afraid of a wenches face, will not after feare the threats of any aduersarie: and hee who is sometimes base in a trifle, may after play the man in grea∣test trials. Say not then, if I cannot beare the losse of a childe, of a friend, of a little wealth, a little ease, a little sleepe, alas, what shall become of me if it should come to fire and faggot? How shall I part (part I must) with my dea∣rest pledges, and neerest friends, and with all my goods? Yes man, heare me in one thing that I shall say, Ionah may with more patience part with his life at one time, then with a root at another: and that God that can make light cros∣ses heauy, and shadowes of crosses looke like mountaines, can (if he call thee to them hee will) make heauy crosses light, and mountaines shadowes. And thus briefly for that point. Beare me companiethorow one point more, and I will trouble you no further, and will be briefe in that. For whom doth Dauid thus mourne? What is he whose death is thus lamented? Heare him, O my sonne, my sonne. Which sonne? O Absalom, Absalom. Absalom is then the man. And heerea strange matter is offered to those that know not the heart of a father. The sonne practiseth against his fathers house, robs him of his children, abuseth him in his wiues, seeketh to spoile him both of life and liuing: and the father, what doth he? he weepes for him, hee mournes ouer him, hee would die for him: thus doth Dauid. In whom see what a kinde and godly fathers affection is to his childe. * No vndutifulnesse, no practise on the childes part, no not death itselfe can diuide betweene him and his Page 30child. What though Absalom can forget Dauid? yet Dauid cannot forget him; what though hee be a very vngratious impe; yet he is my child: my child (saith Dauid) I cannot but loue him: and indeed he ouerloues him, which I doe not commend, but onely obserue to note the strength of parents loue if it bee naturall, a loue indeede as strong as death, * as hot as fire, like that which Salomon speakes of in another case, which cannot bee put out with water, nor bought out with siluer: and can it be otherwise when pa∣rents bee religious, sith God and nature both command grace and nature, both enforce loue, though not fondnes? you that be parents saue me the proofe of this point, and do but heare why I note it.
First do kind and godly parents so loue their children, * that you may sooner finde too much carnall, then too lit∣tle naturall affection in them? then shall they neuer make it good to their owne or others soules, that there is any goodnesse in them who beare no affection to their owne children. Those parents that haue no naturall affection, can they be spiritually affected? Doth that spirit which makes vs louing to all, lodge in the vnnaturall brest? Can they loue Gods children, that beare no loue to their owne bowels? Can they loue their enemies, can they call God Father, that are tyrants to their owne children, their owne flesh? No no: it argues grosse sinnes, and a fierce consci∣ence, when men be so fierce and violent against (mankinde I might say, I must say) themselues. What, parents not to feele their children when they crie, Father? not to finde their bowels mooued when they thinke of a childe? what not of a religious childe? Why then blush ye Dragons, and be ye ashamed, O Beares and Tigres, that your Lords should be (so beastlike say I? nay) so diuellish: for what creatures but Diuels hate their seed? Nay could Diuels haue naturall seed, would they hate their owne trow yee? But why spend we words on them, who haue the curse vnder seale, as Paul shewes? Rom. 1.5.
[ 2] Secondly, heere is somewhat for children also. Is the affection of godly parents such, that they cannot chuse Page 31but loue their children; and out of their loue, grieue at their vnkindnesse, weepe for their impietie, mourne for their sorrowes, and take to heart their follie? why then the children of such parents must take to heart their for∣mer stubbornnesse, and for the time to come forbeare those practises that might be matter of griefe to their pa∣rents. How canst thou refresh thy selfe with that which is a sword in the heart of thy dearest friends? how canst thou thinke to escape the hand of God, when thou wilt feed vp∣on the bloud of thine owne parents, and make them as weary of the light as Dauid now is? Is it not sufficient, that already they haue cared, and sighed, and groaned, and wept for thee; but still thou wilt kill their soules with griefe? What if thou canst shake it off? Can a father shake out his heart? Doth their loue nothing mooue thee? nor their care, northeir paines, nor their teares? nothing? O that Absalom had seene or heard his fathers complaints: he thought that now, because he loued not his father, his father could not loue him: but that is thy errour (cursed viper.) The father loues, when the child hates; and then can Dauid say most feelingly, *Handle the young man Absa∣lom well, when Absalom could say (if shame did not stop his mouth) Handle the old Carle Dauid roughly, at my re∣quest: yea then can Dauid die for Absalom, when Absalom had as leese die as see Dauid liue. Had Absalom knowne this, would not he (thinke you) haue relented? would not his rockie heart haue yeelded? What could hee haue said, if Dauid had said but this vnto him, O Absalom, O Absalom, did I call thee Absalom for this? Is this to be a childe? Doest thou also thinke my griefes too few? Was it not e∣nough to be crossed in my familiars, in my father in law, in my owne brethren, in my wife, but my owne children must adde vnto my griefe? Must Absalom, that I loued so well? Is it not sufficient that thou hast robbed mee of my children, and brought mee almost to the graue, but now thou wilt haue my crowne and my bloud? Did I spare thee for this? Was I a meanes of thy life, and wilt thou be of my death? Would I die to doe thee good, and wilt thou die Page 32vulesse thou maist hurt me, what thou my son; Is not Da∣uid thy father, Maacah thy mother, dost not know vs &c. canst thou forget vs? hast thou been a father thy self, & yet risest vp against thy father? what (I say) could Absalō haue said to such a salutatiō? but he is not so happy to heare his father, & therefore he proceeds till vengeance will not suf∣fer him to liue, but hangs him vp against the sunne. And let all disobedient and rebellious children take warning by this one thus hanged vp in gibbets, and know, that if the kindnes of their parents cannot breake their hearts, and worke them to remorse, the hand of God will bee vpon them and pursue them, till the rauens of the vallies haue pickt out their eies, and the flames of hell haue scized vp∣on their soules.
[ 3] Last of all, heeres a word, both of instruction and con∣solation for all sorts; both parents and children, high and low: Is the loue of an earthly father (if godly) so great? doth he take so much to hart the vnkindnesses of his chil∣dren? is he so sensible of their griefes? so wounded with their sorrowes? What then is the affection of our heauen∣ly father towards vs? how tenderly doth he take disobedi∣ence at our hands? and therefore how great should our mourning be for our great and many contempts? how ought wee to powre forth our soules in teares, and to la∣ment with a great lamention, like that of the Egyptians for Iacob,* that of the Israelites for Iosiah, that of a father, for his first, his onely sonne? how deere should the name of our God be vnto vs, how tenderly should wee take those contempts and indignities, that are cast vpon him, who is so feeling of euery sorrow that befals vs? O Lord, that we had an heart to weepe ouer Christ, and that the rebukes of God did fall on vs, * ô that our owne sinnes could cause such teares, as other mens did wring from Dauid? O that the word would smite our hearts, and cause water to gush out of these rockes; ô that we stood affected to God as Me∣phibosheth to Dauid! he mourned, he fasted, he wept in this distresse of Dauid, we laugh, we feast, we do not, we cannot weepe, though we our selues haue risen against our soue∣raigne, and holpen to dethrone him. Ah (brethren) shall Page 33Dauid mourne for others sins in his Psalmes? shall not wee for our owne? * Shall Dauids good subiects take to heart his afflictions? shall not wee rebellion against our king? * shall Dauids seruants bee ready to smite him thorow that shall raile vpon him, and shall 〈◊〉 our hearts arise when the name of our God is smitten 〈◊〉, when our father is railed vpon? nay, shall Dauid〈…〉 out, my son, my son, for a wretch that would haue k••• h•••; and shall not we mourne ouer Gods son whom w••••• mine? yes bre∣thren, we must mourne, if we will be comforted 〈◊〉 make Gods case ours, if he shall make ours his; which 〈…〉, then behold what comfort is here offered: for 〈◊〉 is there such affection in an earthly father? what then may we expect at Gods hand who is an heauenly father whose loue as farre exceedeth ours as the heauens are aboue the earth? can Dauid (I lead you no further) loue Absaloms such a child, because a child? can his heart came after him, can he be pacified toward him at Ioabs request, when he hath slaine his sonne; and is it not possible that GOD should be friēds with v8 at Christs request, though we haue slaine our selues and the Lord of life? Can Dauid loue Ab∣salom, when he hath defiled his concubines, when he seeks his kingdome, his life? can he then die for him, when Ab∣salom would be his death, can hee doe all this, though his sonne doth not submit, doth not repent, doth not craue pardon, but is vp in armes against him; and will not God (whose loue is infinite) for Christs sake, forgiue his chil∣dren when they come vnto him, cōfesse their fault, be sor∣ry for it, and desire amendment? O my brethren, do not we wrong God exceedingly when wee will not yeeld him as kind as Dauid? say, thou hast beene as bad as euer Absa∣lom was, vnholy, vncleane, vnnaturall, would not Dauid be friends with Absalom, if he had confessed his fault; and shall we doubt of God? O but Dauid was fond, God is iust; yea but the question is, whether Dauid hath more fond loue than God hath true loue: say it were his fault, here is the point, is there so much badnes in Dauid as there is goodnes in God? nay, I put it vpon thy selfe, whatcan Page 34thy child doe, but thou canss pardon the trespasse against thee, so now he will behon 〈◊〉 wherefore then (for con∣conclusion) this I say, what soeuer thy sinnes be, never 〈◊〉 downe discouraged, despairein thy selfe, but ever hope the best of God, so long 〈◊〉 itself his meanes, thou hearest that he is a m•••s;ust 〈◊〉 do now as Benbadad did to A∣hab, humbl•〈…〉, * confessethy sinnes, be∣waile them 〈◊〉 off 〈…〉 of them, and endeauour new obedie〈…〉, and 〈…〉 hadst as many sins vpon thee 〈…〉 the sea shore, and those 〈◊〉 great 〈…〉 shoul•〈◊〉 find mercy and be pardo∣ned 〈◊〉 sin〈…〉ere find God onely insinite. Thus in a more generall maner, we haue run thorow the chiefe ma•∣ters of this text. Now it shall sulfice to name onely the particulars, or rather some few of them, such as are these following. In that 〈◊〉 this stirre it for Absalom, 〈◊〉 delight, we see that the, more Gods children serther hearts on an outward thing, the more they shall bee crossed in it. Let David please him solse too much in Ab∣salom, and Dauid shall smart for is this his greatest ioy shall prooue his greast cnosse.
Againe, if Gods people can bee content that their chil∣dren should crosse God, God will bee content ••t their children shall he crosses to them. If David will be so tidde that his child must not bee chid nor shent, God will bee so good, as to give him his payment for it.
Againe, if Rulere wil giue life when God calles for death, they shall help ether themselues him to sorrow, and their friends (so spared) to shall if Dauid will be so nice, alas prety ducke, who can find in his heart to execute, yea or to correct such a sweet baby and so let him goe, God will finde a time to pay Dauid, and to reach Absalom for it. Againe in Dauid we see, that in the best when crosses come, the flesh will play its part and lay about its while, Dauid must run himselfe out of hi••h, be∣fore an• can stand on 〈◊〉 ground, &c.