A great Wonder in HEAVEN: OR, A lively Picture of the Militant CHURCH, Drawn by a divine Pencill.
REVEL. 12. 1, 2.
Discoursed on in a SERMON Preached before the Honourable House of COMMONS, at Margarets Westminster, on the last Monethly Fast-day, January 27. 1646/7.
By John Arrowsmith; B. D.
John 16. 20, 21.
—Ye shall be sorrowfull, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.
A woman when she is in travell hath sorrow because her houre is come; but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembreth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world.
LONDON, Printed by R. L. for SAMUEL MAN dwelling at the Swan in Pauls Church-yard, 1647.
ECCLESIAE nutritiis, REIPUBLICAE fulcris, PIETATIS energeticae
Asseclis simul & patronis: H. E.
Selectis e populo ANGLICANO Senatoribus WESMONASTERII Congregatis, Qui ut nobis posterisque consulerent Se per sexennium prodegere, Conciunculam hanc qualemcunque
(Intra cujus ambitum CHRISTI Sponsam Mariti sui radiis coruscantem, Mundi tum illecebras rum minas calcantem, Evangelicâ veritate redimitam, Laborantem tamen, & puerperarum more Periclitantem cernere est)
Coram ipsis habitam, Avidisque nuper exceptam auribus, Oculis propitiis perlustrandam, Si quando negotia deferbuerint, Perquam humiliter OFFERT D. D. Q.
Ad obsequium illis in DOMINO pro virili exhibendum paratissimus Joannes Arrowsmith.Page [unnumbered]
Die Mercurii, 27 January, 1646.
ORdered by the Commons assembled in Parliament: That Sir Anthony Irby do from this house give thanks unto Master Arrowsmith for the great pains he tooke in his Sermon he preached before the House of Commons on this day, at Margarets Westminster, and that he doe desire him to print his Sermon, wherein he is to have the like priviledge in Printing of it, as others in the like kinde usu∣ally have had.
Hen. Elsyng, Cler. Parl. Dom. Com.
I Appoint Samuel Man to Print my Sermon,
Pag. 4. lin. 4. for came r. come in some, p. 17. lin. 13. for in. r. through ibid. lin. 14. for of r. with p. 19. lin. 12. for word r. world, p. 27. lin. 8. r. Apostolicall for A∣posticall in some few copies. p. 34. l. 10. for dost r. didst ibid. l. 14. for 65 r. 66. & l. 18. for childe r. children. p. 3• l. 9. for which r. with p. 37. r. wrangling.Page 1
A SERMON Preached before the Honourable House of COMMONS at their late Solemne Fast.
REVEL. 12. 1, 2.
And there appeared a great wonder in heaven, a wo∣man clothed with the Sun, and the Moon under her feet, and upon her head a Crown of twelve Stars.
And she being with child, cryed, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
THe new Testament which exceeds the old in many respects, may not be thought to come short of it in any essentiall, or inte∣grall part; that is made up of Histories, Psalms, Dogmaticall, and Propheticall passages; none whereof are wanting in this. Its Historians are the Evangelists; Its Psalmists, Mary, Zachariah, and Si∣meon whose Songs are recorded in the first and se∣cond of Luke: Its dogmaticall Writers, those that penned the severall Epistles; Its Prophet John: who Page 2 indeed was all four. For ye have Evangelicall Histo∣ries in his Gospel; Dogmaticall truths in his three Epistles; and besides sacred Hymnes (as that of the four and twenty Elders, Chap. 5. and that of Moses and of the Lambe, Chap. 15.) Propheticall Visions every where throughout his Apocalypse. This is my Text is none of the least. There appeared a good wonder in heaven, a woman clothed with the Sun, 〈◊〉
While the bush burned with fire, and was not con∣sumed, Moses turning a side to see that great sight, was called upon to put off his shoos before he ap∣proched. * That which is here held forth is a wonder, a great wonder, and that in heaven; your looks speake a desire to see it: But let me tell you, Honourable and Beloved, the view will neither be full, nor com∣fortable, unlesse ye put off earthly wisdome and carnall affections. That being done, Come and see.
The words are veiled with some obscurity, by reason of variety of metaphors: But much of the veile will be taken off, by a right discerning of their scope, which is briefly this, to represent the Church of Christ in her Militant state, especially during the Primitive times.
The Militant Church, which is elswhere im∣pared to such things as are weake in themselves and in danger to be ruined, as to a ship tossed with tem∣pests, to a vineyard exposed to wilde beasts, and to * a flock of sheep among wolves; is here upon the same grounds represented by a woman in travell. Her appearing indeed was in heaven, for reasons to be hereafter specified, but that which she was design∣ed to signifie, is not the state of the Church as tri∣umphant (for there is no travail, no crying ou• no Page 3 pain in heaven) but as militant here below, chiefly in her first age after the Word was made flesh. So In∣terpreters * not a few. One passeth it with a Certum est, To me (sayth he) 'tis certain, that the first begotten Church of Christ is here meant. The Woman (sayth another) is the Apostolicall Church. A type of the Church which was new-borne under the New Testa∣ment, So a third. An excellent picture of the childe∣bearing Primitive Church, So a fourth. A fifth ex∣tends the representation to the first six hundreth years, from the birth of Christ to the rising of Anti∣christ.
Having thus set up a light in the porch, let us now enter in at the doore of this magnificent building: wherein we shall finde the apparition layd before us, First, more generally, as a great wonder in heaven, Secondly, more distinctly, as a woman, described two wayes,
- 1 By her rare perfections, which are three,
- Being clothed with the Sun,
- Having the Moon under feet,
- Having a Crown of twelve stars upon her head.
- 2 By her weake and perillous condition, in that be∣ing with childe she cryed, travelling in birth, and pained to be delivered.
I begin with that which first offers it selfe, inten∣ding to proceed to the rest in order as they lye in the Text.
It hath alwayes been the custome of God to ma∣nifest himself in speciall manner to speciall favourites. *Solomon was named Jedidiah, because the Lord loved him, and to him the Lord appeared twice; Daniel a man Page 4 greatly beloved, and upon him visions were multiply∣ed; John the Disciple whom Jesus loved, and to him * there appeared great wonders in heaven.
When his favourites came to be sufferers for his name, he is then wont to visit them more then at other seasons. The Spirit of Christ is with his Saints at all times, but in such cases the Spirit of God and of glory resteth upon them, as Peter speaks, that is the spirit of * God in a more glorious way. This was Johns case. Ye have his experiment registred here, Chap. 1. ver. 9, 10. I John who also am your brother, and companion in tri∣bulation, and in the Kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the Isle that is called Patmos, for the Word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ; I was in the Spirit on the Lords day. 'Tis thought that * all contained in this book was revealed to him on that one day. Who ever spent a Sabbath so well? who ever had so many discoveries in so short a time? how was his banishment sweetned herewith, and his Pat∣mos turned into a paradise? How excellent is thy loving kindness O Lord! how glorious are thine influences up∣on suffering Saints! what Psalmes doth Dauid indite in the cave! what Epistles doth Paul write in the pri∣son! * what apparitions doth John see in a desolate Island! there appeared
The more lightsome any thing is, the more glori∣ous; the more glorious any thing is, the more won∣derfull. Glorious things are spoken of thee, ô thou Citie*of God, sayth the Psalmist, of the Church: which is therefore a great wonder, because all the Luminaries of heaven concur to the making up of the glory there∣of; and that in a posture sutable to the stations they Page 5 hold in the firmament. There the highest lights are the stars, the lowest the Moon, the Sun in the midst. So here; the stars are allotted to the Churches head, the Moon to her feet, the Sun to those parts of the body that are between both. She is all over glorious, and consequently altogether admirable, because light∣some all over; for her head is crowned with stars, her body apparelled with the Sun, and she hath the Moon for her footstool, so as to tread in paths of light.
If any here discern no glory in the Church to be wondred at, but say of her, as they of Christ, Isa. 53. 2. she hath no form or comlinesse; and when we shall see her, there is no beauty that we should desire her: it is not for want of light in her, but of spirituall sight in them. A skilfull painter, to an ignorant man that wondred at his gazing so much on a curious peece, sayd, Friend; Si meos oculos haberes, hadst thou myne eyes, thou wouldst be ravished with the sight of this picture as I am; and instead of wondring at mee, fall a wondring with me. So, if wee had the eyes and spirit of John, the Church of Christ would appear a great wonder to us, as it did to him.
We read of a door opened in heaven, and of a call that John had to come up thither, Chap. 4. 1. That was the Scene of all his Visions; there did this great wonder appear to his mentall eyes. And well it might, seeing, the Church (whose hieroglyphick it is) hath her originall from heaven, her tendency to heaven, her conversation in heaven, and her dependance upon heaven.
1 Her originall from heaven. Except a man be born〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 (which may be rendred from above) he shall not Page 6 see the kingdom of God, John. 3. 3. Converts are all born of God, John 1. 13. and Jerusalem, which is above, is the mother of them all, Gal. 4. 26. Mihi patria Coelum, may be the motto, of every Saint during his pilgri∣mage in the World, Heaven is my Country, there I was born, and I am returning thither, which is the next thing.
2 Her tendency to heaven. Those Martyrs and Confessors, Heb. 11. 14, 16. declared plainly that they sought an heavenly country. All Saints, as Saints, natu∣rally * move to this centre of rest; and because their motion is naturall, it commonly proves swiftest at last. As the approches of a needle are so much the more quick by how much it draws neerer to the load∣stone; and rivers run with a stronger stream, when they are about to empty themselves into the Ocean whence they came: so true beleevers, when their bo∣dies smell most of earth (as towards death they are wont to doe) have the strongest sent of heaven in their souls.
3 Her conversation in heaven, Phil. 3. 20. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the phrase imports their living and tra∣ding as denizens of heaven, there being governed by the locall statutes, and municipall Laws of that City; their conversing with God in Christ, and having fel∣lowship with the Spirit here below: whence it is that when death comes, the godly are sayd to change their place, but not their company.
4 Her dependance upon heaven, knowing as she doth that every good and perfect gift is from above, Jam. 1. 17. she accordingly expects from thence supplies of grace to help in every time of need. When the German Princes in a Diet at Norimberg had framed Page 7 certain Decrees against the Protestant cause; Luther comforted himselfe and his Patron the Duke of Saxo∣ny,* to whom he wrote, with this weighty considerati∣on, That the Princes at Norimberg had concluded one thing in that businesse, but God had decreed another in heaven; and the Counsell of the Lord that should stand.
Let us now proceed to shew more distinctly, what this great wonder in heaven was, viz.
〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 a married woman. That's the importance of the word in other places, as in Chapter 21 of this book Verse 9; Come hither and I will shew thee the bride, the Lambs wife,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Yea the 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the decency of the allegory requires it should be so taken here, because we finde the woman with childe, and in her travell. Being so taken it imports a mystery, one of the greatest in all Divinity, viz. the Churches re∣lation to Christ as her husband. Paul who was well skild in Gospel-secrets (to which the depths of other Sciences are but shallows) gives the title of great only to two Evangelicall mysteries: that of our Saviours incarnation, 1 Tim. 3. last. Without controversie, great is the mystery of godlinesse, God manifest in the flesh, and this of the Churches mariage to Christ. Ephes. 5. 31, 32 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joyned unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speake concerning Christ and the Church. That which was one of Pauls great mysteries, might well be part of Johns great wonder. But I forbeare to inlarge upon't, because I hasten to a discovery of this womans rare perfections; the first whereof is her being
That which some Platonists say hath savour in it, Lumen est umbra Dei, Deus est lumen luminis. The light is but the shadow of God, God is he that in∣lighteneth light it selfe. Now of all visible lights there is none so radiant as the Sun: Scripture accordingly styleth God a Sun and a shield, Psal. 84. 11. and Christ is called the Sun of righteousnesse, Mal. 4. 2. He it is, and no other person or thing, whom we are to under∣stand by the Sun in my Text. The resemblances are many. Christ and the Sun agree.
1 In point of Sovereignty. The Sun is the Prince of Planets; a body so glorious that all admire, many adore it for a God, because they see more Majesty in it, then any thing else that can be seen. Whence it is, that the idolatrous Chaldeans (as Bodin observes) gave * it the name of Baal a Lord; whereas the Hebrews, with whom were the Oracles of God, call it Shemes, which signifieth a servant; for so it is to him that made it. Christ tooke upon him the forme of a servant, but is indeed the Lord of all. And as God made the Sun to rule by day, and to diversifie seasons of the year * by its approches and recesses: So hath the Father appointed Christ to be King of Saints; and upon his various aspects depend the Churches Summer and * Winter, the souls Spring and Fall, the seed-time of grace and harvest of glory.
2 In point of singularity. There is but one Sun in the firmament, which made that great Conquerour say, The heaveus could neither bear two Suns, nor the earth two Alexanders. Looke to Christs person, it is * but one; although there be two natures in him. When the light which was created the first day, did, as it were, Page 9 assume a star three dayes after, that star and the light made but one Sun; so when the Word, who was God from all eternity, assumed flesh, in fulnesse of time the Word and flesh made but one Christ. Looke to his office, he is so a Mediatour, as not to admit of any copartnership in the work. To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things and wee by him, 1 Cor. 8. 6. One God, and one Mediatour between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, 1 Tim. 2. 5. Is Christ di∣vided? saith Paul elswhere. We may say, is Jesus multi∣plyed? * No verily: As but one Sun, so but one Saviour. None but Christ (as the Martyr cryed) None but Christ.
3 In point of necessity. When men would ex∣presse the removall of somwhat absolutely necessary, they use to say, this were Solem è mundo tollere, to take the Sun out of the World. If that were removed, how would all beauty vanish, and (as some think) all mo∣tion cease? The potters wheele (say they) could not turn upon earth, if the Sun should not move in heaven. So take Christ from a soul, 'tis impotent to all good, Without me ye can doe nothing, John 15. 5. Were it not for the Sun it would be perpetuall night in the world, notwithstanding all the torches that could be lighted; yea notwithstanding all the light of the moon and stars. It is neither the torch-light of naturall parts and creature-comforts; nor the star-light of civill ho∣nesty and common gifts; nor the moon-light of tem∣porary faith and formall profession, that can make it day in the soul, till the Sun of righteousnesse arise and shine there. Once indeed there was a time, when fruits were produced without a Sun; when God, to prevent the idolizing of this creature as the only cause Page 10 of all fertility, enabled the earth to bring forth on the third day, whereas the Sun was not made till the fourth: But never was there any the least moment of time since the fall, wherein man could bring forth fruit to God without the cooperation of Christ. 〈◊〉 that hath not the Son hath not life, 1 Iohn 5. 12. Neither can any vitall action be performed but by his special grace.
4 In point of purity. Other creatures admit of some defiling mixtures, the sun doth not. It looks upon filth, but contracts none. Christ is a lambe without ble∣mish, and without spot. Such as cast aspersions upon * him in the dayes of his flesh, calling him glutton, wine∣bibber, and friend of Publicans and sinners, did but act the mad mans part, throwing dirt at the Sun, which none could possibly fasten upon. He came indeed into a sinfull world, but as a Physitian among his sick pa∣tients, to cure them without taking the sicknesse of them, being antidoted by his Divinity against all in∣fection. He hath an hand even in sinfull acts; as they are acts (for in him we move) but not in the sinfulnesse of them: shines into the noysome dunghils of our * hearts with beams of grace, yet continues most pure. He was borne of a sinner, lived and conversed with sinners, dyed with and for sinners, yea as a sinner, yet had not in himselfe the least sin of his own to answer for.
5 In point of sufficiencie. There is in the Son a fulnesse of created glory. All the light that had been disperst throughout the great fabrick of the new-born world for the first three dayes, was gathered together on the fourth into that one body. So it pleased the Fa∣ther that all fulnesse should dwell in Christ: And the *Page 11 seuerall graces that shined in the Patriarks, Fathers and Prophets of old under the Law, were all to be 〈◊〉 once in him. The innocence of Abel, perse∣verance of Noah, obedience of Abraham, devotion of 〈◊〉, chastity of Ioseph, patience of Iob, meeknesse of Moses, courage of Ioshua, zeale of David, and what∣soever any of them excelled in, was an ingredient 〈◊〉 that fulnesse of grace and truth which was found in Christ, Quae divisabeatos efficiunt, conjunctatenet. Each of them had the fulnesse of a star, he the suffi∣ciencie of a Sun that filled them all, and had a ful∣nesse beyond them all.
6 In point of efficiency. The efficacy of the Sun appears in imparting three things, Light, Heat, and Influence,. Each whereof is so qualified, as to resemble the grace of Christ in sundry particulars.
First, The Sun imparts light, a discovering, guiding, cheering, growing light.
1 Discovering what was hid from our sight before. * But for it we should neither see the Sun it selfe, nor any thing else in heaven or earth. Without irradiati∣•• from Christ men would for ever continue igno∣•• of the only true God, and of their Redeemer; we should never know either our sins or our duties, our dangers or our priviledges but for Christ. With him only is the fountain of life, and in his light we see light.*
2 Guiding. Luke 1. 78, 79. The day-spring from in high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darknesse and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. The dim light of nature in com∣mon people shines a little, but is not strong enough to guide, like that of a gloworm or rotten stick. The light of worldly wisdome and policie in men of great Page 12 parts, but prophane spirits shines more strongly, but misguides; like the meteor, which Philosophers call Ignis fatuus, we the Lanternman. There is a third kind of light that shines strongly, and guides too, but the head only, not the feet; I mean that of hypocrites, who contemplate things of God, but reduce not their brain knowledge to practice. Yea a fourth, that guides both head and feet, yet but into a way of for∣mality; namely that wherewith they are enlighten∣ed who have a forme of godlinesse, but deny the power of it: whereas this, we are speaking of, doth not only shine but guide, not the head only but the feet, and that not into the way of formality, but of faith, which is the only way of peace both with God and with conscience.
3. Cheering. Eccles. 11. 7. truly light is sweet, and a pleasant thing it is for the eyes to behold the Sun. How sweet are the discoveries made by Christ to be∣leeving souls! what a pleasant thing is it for spiritu∣all eyes to behold the Sun of righteousnesse, moving and shining in the spirit of a convert, as in its own proper Spheare! Such as are darke are accounted melancholy rooms: well may they be melancholy souls that want the cheering light of Christ. But blessed is the people Psal. 89. 15. that know the joyfull sound; they shall walke, O Lord, in the light of thy coun∣tenance. We may invert it, and say, Blessed are the people, O Lord, that walke in the light of thy coun∣tenance; they shall know the joyfull sound: they shall enjoy a continuall jubilee in their hearts.
4 Growing. It increaseth more and more from breake of day, and is in this respect a fit emblem of that grace which Christ communicates to his Page 13 members, the nature whereof is to be growing till it come to arrive at perfection. That in Esay 8. 20. To the Law and to the Testimony; if they speak not accor∣ding to this Word, it is because there is no light (no mor∣ning) in them, intimates a remarkable difference be∣tween * the knowledge of Saints and Hypocrites; the former is like the morning light, that shines more and more to the perfect day, Prov. 4. 18. But evill men and seducers (as Paul foretold) waxe worse and worse;* whereby it appears that theirs was but an evening light, which shines lesse and lesse, till it end in the blacknesse of darknesse for ever, Iude 13.
In the second place, the sun imparts Heat, a melt∣ing, inflaming, quickning heat.
1 Melting. When the surface of the water is glaz'd with ice, the Sun-beams dissolve it. The grace of Christ hath a like operation upon frozen hearts; which are never truly melted into contrition but by Evangelicall beams. The Law, like a hammer, may breake ice in peeces; but what remaynes is ice still: the Gospell dissolves it into water; 'tis no longer ice then. They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn, Zech. 12. 10. No such kindly mourners, as they that have hearts melted with Christs heat, and heated with sense of Christs love. Shee in Luke 7th, the end, who had much forgiven her, loved much, and wept much.
2 Inflaming. The Sun-beams falling upon a burn∣ing-glasse create a fire. So doth the Spirit of Christ (who is therefore called a spirit of burning, Isa. 4. 4.) when hee falls upon the spirit of man. Did not our hearts burn within us, while hee talked with us by the way, and while hee opened to us the Scriptures? Luke Page 14 last, 32. The burnt child, wee use to say, dreads the fire: but there is a fire, which whosoever hath truly felt, will long to be so burnt again. Bernard having been well warmed with the consideration of that pas∣sage, * Psal. 32. 1. Blessed is hee whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered, professeth hee was sei∣zed upon with unspeakable joy, and assurance of his own share in that blessednes; after the feeling where∣of he cryes out, O•s• durasset! I would to God it had been continued. Lord, do thou visit me so again and again with thy salvation.
3 Quickning. Some creatures have no other fa∣ther, but the sun, nor other mother but the slime. This perhaps is one reason why the sun is compared to a bridegroom, Psal. 19. because his beams are pro∣lificall. The grace of Christ is so much more, the last Adam was made a quickning spirit, 1 Cor. 15. 45. hee that hath the son hath life, 1 John 5. 12. yea, a double life (for no lesse will serve his turn) the one of righteousnesse, all being naturally dead in law by reason of guilt; the other of holinesse, all being dead in sins and trespasses, till quickned by him, the end of whose comming was that we might have life, & that we might have it more abundantly, Joh. 10. 10.
A third thing, which the Sun communicates, is its influence; the strength, and universality whereof are considerable here, we have an intimation of both, Psal. 19, 4, 5, 6. In the heavens hath God set a taberna∣cle for the Sun; which is as a bridegroom comming out of his chamber, and rejoyces as a strong man to run his race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven; and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.
Page 15 1. It is a strong influence, as may be evidenced by the Suns concocting of such solid bodies, as gold and precious stones are, in places that are so remote from his owne spheare. Were not the influence of Christ exceeding forcible, how could it possibly re∣ctifie crooked, purifie filthy, soften hard, and rayse dead souls, as it useth to do, all on the sodain? 'Tis * true indeed, that the operations of his grace are in∣comparably sweet; but it is no lesse true, that they are withall incomparably strong. To make use of the Psalmists Metaphores; Our Lord Jesus, in respect of the former, may be said to come as a bridegroom out of his chamber, clothing himself with all sweet∣nesse of cariage on his wedding day: of the latter, to rejoyce as a strong man to run a race, bearing down whatever opposeth him in the way.
2 'Tis universall. No visible creature but shares more or lesse in the benefits of this influence. So Christ being the light that lightneth every one that t•nes into the world. John 1. there is no man but par∣takes of his goodnesse in one kind or other, though with much variety in the successe. For as the sun hath different operations upon different objects, e. g. wax and clay, softning the one, hardning the other; a chicken and a toad, increasing the wholsomnesse of the one, the poison of the other: so upon severall men within the pale of a visible Church, Christ preached to all hath severall works. Some are made softer, some harder; the spirits of fome are sweet∣ned by the Ministery of the Gospell, of others im∣bittered. One, with the Amalekites servant refreshed * by David, becomes instrumentall against the ene∣mies of his refresher: Another, with the snake in Page 16 the fable, warmed by the husbandmans care and compassion, becomes an enemy to the authour of that warmth; turns apostate, and falls to stinging Christ in his members so much the more, by how much he was the more enlightned with common grace.
You have had enough, and (I hope) not too much, of this metaphoricall sun in the text: see now in what regard the woman is sayd to be clothed there∣with. Surely because the Lord Jesus Christ is of the same use to his Church, that apparell is of to the body of man. It serves for covering, shelter, and or∣nament. In like manner.
1 Christ covers the Church with his graces. I will greatly rejoyce in the Lord, my soule shall be joyful in my God: for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, hee hath covered mee with the robe of*righteousnesse, Isa. 61. 10. That which Iob speaks of himselfe in a naturall, is true of him and all men else in a spirituall sense, naked came I into the world: and there is none but continues so till he come to be apparell'd by Christ, who therefore adviseth the Church of Laodicea, to buy of him white raiment, that shee might be clothed, Revel. 3. 18. Paul having ex∣horted the Romans to walke honestly as in the day, not in rioting and drunkennesse, not in chambering and wantonnesse, not in strife and envie; instead of adding, put on temperance, chastity, and such other graces, as have in them a contrariety to the fore-mentioned sins, chooseth rather to say (as a late interpreter well observes) put yee on the Lord Iesus Christ, because he is the only fountain of all grace, and without the put∣ting on of his righteousnesse first by an hand of faith, ours will never exceed that of Philosophers and Pha∣risees: Page 17 yea because even when the Spirit of God hath enabled us to good, we have need of Christ to hide the deformity of our best performances.
2 Christ shelters the Church by his merits from the wrath of God, as apparrell doth our bodies from the cold and injuries of the weather. Iesus is he which delivered us from the wrath to come, 1 Thes. 1. last. Paul therefore desires to be found in Christ, Phil. 3. 9. as one would to be found in his clothes, when a bite∣ing frost comes, which if he were naked, would pinch him to death. Christ is so beloved of God, and God is so well pleased with Christ, as in him to love, and in him to be well pleased with all his members, even of that whole mysticall body whereof he is head.
3 Christ adornes his Church, putting upon her a comlinesse far beyond that of other Societies spoken of Ezek. 16. 14. Thy renowme went forth among the heathen for thy beauty; for it was perfect through my comlinesse which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord God. That excellencie of Jacob by which God swears, Amos 8. 7. is not to be understood of the Temple at Jerusalem, as some would have it, for God useth not * to sweare by creatures (that were to practice what he hath forbidden us) but by himselfe, Heb. 6. 13. Junius therefore expounds it of Christ, whose essence is the same with the Fathers, and who is in∣deed the Churches excellencie. He it is that makes the Kings daughter to be all glorious within, Psal. 45. that renders a poore Saint in his russet, fuller of bra∣very then a prophane son of Belial in his scarlet: one of their souls being apparrelled with Christ himselfe, whilst the others is clad only with the rags of the first, not robes of the second Adam.
Page 18 I go on to another rare perfection of this woman, which is her having
In explication whereof, I shall follow the stream of Expositours, who (some few only excepted) make the moon here an emblem of the world; and not 〈◊〉 fitly, seeing it is
1 Full of spots; Insomuch as the Saints, whose main care is to be found of God in peace without spot and blamelesse, 2 Pet. 3. 14. finde it a very difficult matter and an high point of Religion, while they walke and converse in the world; to keepe themselves unspotted from it, Jam. 1. last. The heirs of heaven come to be maculated more or lesse, notwithstanding their watch∣fulnesse. As for worldlings (whose spot is not the sp•• of Gods children, Deut. 32. 5.) no Leopard is more spotted then they. Can the Ethiopian change his skin*or the Leopard his spots? then may yee also do good th•• are accustomed to doe evill. That beast (they say▪ though it be stead, will appear spotted still, the spots inhering in its flesh, as well as its skin. Such are these men without and within, in conversation and in heart, all over full of spots.
2 Subject to many changes, never continuing long in a shape; somtimes an horned, somtimes 〈◊〉* halfe, and somtimes a full moon. So the world is a stage of vicissitudes, constant only in its inconstancie. The fashion of this world passeth away, 1 Cor. 7. 31. It is never long in one garbe. As soon may the moon be suited with a coat that will alwayes fit it, as the world with any accommodation that will alwayes give content; with any condition that will alwayes last. The fool changeth as the moon, fayth the son of *Page 19Syrach. And as worldlings are changlings, so the world it selfe passeth away, and the lusts thereof, 1 John 2. 17.
3 The cause of many diseases, especially of the filling-sicknesse. Scripture speaking of such as were troubled therewith, calls them 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 Lunaticks * or moon-struck, Mat. 4. 24. The symptomes of fal∣ling somtimes into the fire, somtimes into the water, of tearing, foaming, gnashing, exprest by the Evan∣gelists, clearly shew what disease the man had of whom his father said 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Mat. 17. 15. The word in like manner renders the soule apt to be trou∣bled with a spirituall falling-sicknesse; nothing expo∣sing men to apostasie more then worldlinesse. Demas (sayth Paul) hath forsaken me, having loved this pre∣sent world, 2 Tim. 4. 10. and again, The love of money is the root of all evill, which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, 1 Tim. 6. 10. Many fearing the world would fall out with them, fall off from God. Spira revolted, meerly in hope to pre∣serve his estate, and so lost himselfe.
But why is the moon sayd to be under the wo∣mans feet? that must now be our next enquiry.
The phrase imports victory over, and contempt of persons or things. Thus in Psal. 47. 3. He shall sub∣due the people under us, and the Nations under our feet.* You know how the five Kings were used by Joshua; how Tamberlane served Bajazet, and what was pro∣phesied of Christ, Psal. 110. 1. The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand untill I make thine enemies thy foot stool. So as the womans having the moon under her feet, seems to imply the Churches being inabled by Christ, to overcome and trample Page 20 upon the Elements, the Affronts, and the enjoy∣ments of this world.
1 The elements of the world, spoken of Gal. 4. 3, 9. which one of great insight into this mysticall booke of the Revelation, understanding both of Mosai∣call ceremonies and of heathenish worship, makes ac∣count that the clause in my Text which we are now discoursing of, relates to that victory which the Pri∣mitive * Church got over both; in that shee, not only saw the abolition of legall ceremonies (which, saith he, might well be signified by the moon, seeing all the feasts of the Jews, and whole course of their * Ecclesiasticall year depended upon and were regula∣ted by the motion of that Planet) but also the extir∣pation of those Idols, which the heathens formerly worshipped. For then did Satan fall down like light∣ning from heaven, Luke 10. 18. he fell from being a∣dored as God, to being slighted as an Impostor, yea abominated as a wicked spirit. Then was fulfilled that which is written, Revel. 12. 9. The great Dragon was cast out, the old Serpent, called the Devill and Satan, which deceived the whole world; he was cast out into the earth, and his Angels were cast out with him. Yea then was that promise in part fulfilled, the language whereof hath great affinity with the phrase in my Text, The God of peace shall tread Satan under your feet shortly, Rom. 16. 20.
2 The affronts of the world. The Church got these under her feet, when she gloried in tribubation, was a∣bove * her persecutors, and had patience to endure as much as their malice and cruelty could inflict. I take pleasure (sayth Paul) in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christs sake: Page 21 for when I am weake then am I strong, 2 Cor. 12. 10. The Apostles rejoyced that they were counted wor∣thy to suffer shame for the name of Christ, Act. 5. 41. They in Heb. 10. 34. tooke joyfully the spoy∣ling of their goods, knowing in themselves that they had in heaven a better and an enduring sub∣stance. Laurentius the Martyr when they layd * his body upon a gridiron with a purpose to broile him to death, is reported to have sayd, I have al∣wayes longed for such cheere as this: To mee these very flames are cooling, and refreshments rather then torments. Gordius desired his Ex∣ecutioners not to grudge him overmuch happi∣nesse; telling them, that the more they tor∣mented him, the more GOD would reward him.
3 The enjoyments of the World. 1 John 5 4. Whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. Carnall reason paints the things of this life, and sets them out in beautifull colours; but faith washeth off the complexion, and then their deformi∣ty appears. Those Christians in the primitive times that layd their estates at the Apostles feet, had first * got them under their own; learnt to trample upon, and to have a low esteem of them in their most seri∣ous thoughts. Take the goodliest things in the world, there have been some in all ages found, that were above them. One of the Fathers will not allow temporall riches the name of Goods, but accounts it enough if wee forbeare to call them evils. Another thinks him too dainty for a Christian, that desires pleasure on this side heaven: too foolish, that ima∣gines Page 22 carnall delights to be reall pleasures. A third being tempted with preferments to a revolt, said, * Offer them to children, not to Christians: As for me, I can part with life, but not with truth. Many such instances there are, wherein yee may cleerly discern the Moon under the womans, the World under the Churches feet.
Her third and last perfection follows, to wit, having
That is, holding fast the pure doctrine of the Gospell, first preached by the twelve Apostles, and after them by succeeding Ministers, which is as a Crown on the Churches head.
So as here three things are to be made out.
First, That the Apostles are here meant, and such faithfull Ministers as succeeded them not excluded. The number exprest points us directly to the Apo∣stles, who are often called the twelve in Scripture. There were no more chosen at first, Luke 6. 13. and when Judas was faln from his Apostleship, Mat∣thias was substituted in his roome to make up the number: yea though there was a superaddition of Paul and Barnabas, yet, in memory of the first electi∣on, * they are still spoken of as twelve, long after that, in the Apocalypse. I will not trouble you with dis∣coursing of the twelve stones taken up out of the midst of Jordan, the twelve Spies sent out to search the land of Canaan, the twelve Oxen under the bra∣zen Sea, the twelve Lyons that supported Solomons Throne, the twelve Officers appointed by him to provide for his houshold; all which are by some made types of the twelve Apostles. Neither will I insist Page 23 upon that notion which Hierom presumes to be un∣questionable, and sets a nec dubium est upon, viz.* that those twelve wells of water, and seventy palme trees at Elim, Exod. 15. last, did undoubtedly prefi∣gure the twelve Apostles and seventy Disciples. It may perhaps be worthy of more consideration, that as the Iewish Church had twelve Patriarks, from whom the twelve Tribes of Israel descended; so Christ ordained twelve Apostles to be as fathers of his Israel under the Gospel, the Christian Church: And that the Spirit in Revel. 4. 4. where mention is made of twenty foure seats, and twenty foure El∣ders sitting upon them, alludes both to the twelve Patriarks and the twelve Apostles, which put toge∣ther make up those twenty foure, by whom the whole Church under both Testaments is represented. It appears by what hath been sayd, that the Apostles are certainly meant in this place. The reason why I conceive other Ministers not excluded, is because the Angels of the seven Churches are called stars, Revel. I. l•st. as well as the twelve Apostles here. Which is The second thing to be cleered, viz. That the Apo∣stles and all faithfull Ministers are like stars. Wherein it were easie to be large, seeing they and the stars re∣semble each other in many things. But I will con∣tent my selfe with a few.
1 As the stars are heavenly bodies shining, but with a borrowed light; so the Apostles of old were, and all godly Ministers ever since have endevoured to be men of an heavenly conversation; heavenly men and earthly Angels, as Paul was styled by Chrysostom. They shine as lights in the world, acknowledging all the light they have to be derived from Christ, as Page 24 the Sun, of whose fulnesse they all receive. That which one of the German Divines made his Motto, fully speaks every one of their hearts. *
They are most ready to professe that of them∣selves they know nothing, can doe nothing, are no∣thing that good is: and that whatsoever good they are, or do, or know, they owe it wholly to the free grace of God in Christ.
2 As the Stars are in continuall motion for the good of the Universe: so were the Apostles for the good of the Church. Paul ceased not to warne every*one night and day with tears. Acts 20. 31. went from Je∣rusalem round about to Illyricum, preaching the Gospel, Rom. 15. 19. Succeeding Ministers have accordingly in their places acquainted themselves with continuall labours; which Scripture calls upon them for. Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, Isa. 58 1. Durante pugnâ non cessat tuba; the trumpet must be sounding all the while the battle is in fighting. Now there is no end of the Christian Warfare, and therefore none of the Ministers pains. The Church is Gods husbandry, 1 Cor. 3. 9. her Ministers his hus∣bandmen. Redit agricolis labor actus in orbem. The husbandman hath never quite done his work; but the end of one task is still the beginning of another. So it fares with painfull Ministers. One while their employment is instructing poor ignorant souls; then are they like Stars that shine in a cold Winter-night. Another while convincing gainsayers and Hereticks; then are they like those stars in their courses that fought against Sisera, Judg. 5. The most benigne Page 29Constellation is not more promising to the World, than their Associations are unto the Church.
3 As the stars are said to differ one from another in glory, 1 Cor. 15. 45. So the Apostles excell'd other Ministers, in the universality of their commission, the immediatnesse of their call, the infallibility of their doctrine, together with many other priviledges. And among succeeding Ministers there hath been found very great difference in regard of their parts, gifts, and graces; such as there is among Stars of the first, second, and third magnitude, Melancthon speak∣ing of the Divines of his age, said, Pomeranus is a Grammarian, I a Logitian, Justus Jonas an Oratour, but Martin Luther is all these; a miracle of men, and one that penetrates the heart in whatsoever hee speaks, or writes. aBeza comparing the three fa∣mous Ministers of Geneva, saith that Farellus excelled in Fervency, Viretus in E∣loquence, Calvin in Sen∣tentiousnesse: and that the concurrence of these en∣dowments in any one man would have rendred him a compleat Evangelicall P•∣stour. b
The third thing which I am to cleer is, That Evan∣gelicall doctrine is as a crowne to the Church of Christ. The prudent are crowned with knowledge, saith Solomon, Proverbs 14. 18. Now there is no know∣ledge Page 26 saving, but this of Evangelicall truth; and therefore no such crown as that. 'Tis our Saviours counsell to the Church of Philadelphia, Revel. 3. 11. hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Some false Apostles, it should seem, had been tampering with this Church; Christ commends her for keeping the word of his patience, ver. 10. i. e. the Gospel, which declares the sufferings of Christ, and excites to patience by his example: whereupon hee adds the fore-mentioned word of advice. It would save much labour in debating one of the Arminian points, if the place might be interpreted (as for ought I know it may) to this sense.
I beleeve you expect some application of what hath bin already delivered, before we close with the second verse; and will therefore briefly infer som∣what, first from the whole vision, then from the womans severall perfections, and lastly from the or∣der of those perfections.
1 Inferences from the whole vision. Which are two.
1 That besides the naturall, there is a spirituall use to be made of all the creatures. The Sun here points to Christ, the Moon to the World, the Stars to the Ministers of the Gospel. Mans soule is an Alembeck, in which when the creatures are laid like Page 27 so many herbs, if there be any fire of devotion with∣in, many sweet meditations may be distilled. Natu∣rall hearts are apt to make a sensuall use of divine things: but spirituall hearts have an art of making divine uses even of naturall things, which we should all doe well to learn.
2 That the Whore of Babylon differs much from the woman in my Text; the Apostaticall Church of Rome, from the Apostolicall Church of Christ: As not being clothed with the Sun, but with out∣ward pomp, Revel. 17. 4. She was arrayed in purple, and scarlet colour, and deckt with gold and precious stones, more for state then for Christ; refusing to accept of him for her only covering, shelter and or∣nament, and going about to establish a righteousnesse of her own. Not having the Moon under her feet, but in her heart, loving the world, maintaining her * greatnesse by carnall policie, and making prosperity a signe of the Church. Not being crowned with these twelve stars, but with the inventions and traditions of men, recommended by the Councell of Trent, as worthy to be received with the same affections and reverence, which are due to the Holy Scriptures. So as indeed the Moon is her crown, and the Stars her footstool.
2 Inferences from the severall perfections here ascribed to the woman.
Her being clothed with the Sun lets us see,
1 The All-sufficiencie of Christ. Jacob desired but bread to eat and rayment to put on. Having food and*rayment (sayth Paul) let us be therewith content. Now besides spirituall meat and drinke which Christ af∣fords * us, John 6. 55. my flesh is meat indeed, and my Page 28 bloud is drinke indeed, he himself becomes apparrell to us, Gal. 3. 27. As many of you as have been bapti∣zed into Christ, have put on Christ.
2 The true fountain of all that wisdome, zeal, and grace which appears in the conversation of true Saints. They are clothed with Christ, as with the Sun, and he if is that communicates to them light of wisdom, heat of zeal, and influence of grace. Such as have really put on him, make not provision for the*flesh (as others do) to fulfill the lusts thereof: although but too many, while they professe a being clothed with the Sun, give just occasion to renew a sad com∣plaint made by one of the Fathers, viz. That the bloud of Christ when newly shed, did as it were boyle in belee∣vers hearts, whereas now 'tis almost frozen in ours. So much doe wee come short of the first love of those Primitive times.
Her having the Moon under her feet, shews us how very ill it becomes the genuine issue of this wo∣man to love the world; the friendship whereof is enmi∣ty with God, Jam. 4. 4. Mundus in maligno positus, 1 John 5. 19. next after Satan, this present evill world is the great Malignant. Looke as the Moon, when she is at the full, is then in most direct opposition to the Sun; so 'tis the temper of the world to be most opposite to, and rebellious against Christ, when it re∣ceives the most light of prosperity from him, and is fullest of the blessings of his goodnesse. Jesurun waxed fat and kicked: then he forsooke God which made him; & lightly esteemed the rock of his salvation: Deut. 32. 15. I spake to thee in thy prosperity, but then saidst I will not heare, Ier. 32. 21. why should Chri∣stians then be friends to that world, which is such Page 25 an enemy both to their salvation, and to their Sa∣viour?
Her being crowned with twelve Stars may serve
1 To beget in us honourable thoughts of the Mi∣nisters calling. How mean soever their persons be, yet are they Stars, and that in the right hand of Christ, Revel. 1. 20. an expression that argues affection to them (as when Jacob called the son whom he meant to love for his dying mothers sake, by the name of Benjamin, or the son of his right hand) nor only so, but care of them according to that, Psal. 17. 7. Shew thy*marvellous loving kindnesse, O thou that savest by thy right hand: and that Psal. 80. 17. Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thy selfe. I know there are many wandring stars (as Iude calls the false teachers of that age; in the 13th. verse of his Epistle; men that made a fair shew, but had no substance of truth in them: and are therefore in that and the foregoing verse compared to clouds but without water, to trees but without fruit, and to stars but without light. I am far from taking upon me to plead for any such, but fear not to professe my selfe an advoca•e for all those, that are godly, gifted, and faithfull in the work of their ministry throughout the Land: the rather, be∣cause there was never more, never so much contesting against their Office as now. But who are they that thinke themselves able to wrest from Christ, that which he holds in his right hand; and do not rather fear lest he stretch out this hand of his; to the crush∣ing of all those, that go about to crush his stars? God∣ly Ministers when they are slighted and injured most, may comfort themselves, by considering that it is Page 30 the fate of stars to appear much lesse to the eyes of men, then indeed they are: and that they, who du∣ring life are as Stars in Christs right hand, favou∣red and protected by him, shall after death be as stars at his right hand, glorified with him, according to that Dan. 12. 3. They that be wise (or they that be teachers) shall shine as the brightnesse of the firmament,*and they that turn many to righteousnesse, as the stars for ever and ever. There will soon be an end of their labours and sufferings, but none of their glory.
2 To put us all upon prizing Apostolicall doctrine as the Crown of our Church and Nation. Let Italy boast of her rich Copes, stately Altars, curious Ima∣ges (which are so far from adorning a Church, as that they doe indeed defile it) the Crown and glory of England is, that she hath maintained the truth of Christ, and enjoyed the light of the twelve Stars; deposited in this blessed booke. Did I only say shee hath maintained the truth of Christ? may I not ven∣ture to assert that shee doth maintain it? If not, the next assertion must be that of the Lamentations, Chap. 5. 16, The crown is fallen from our heads, not unto us. But I hope better things of the Kingdom, and such as accompany Reformation, though I thus speake. Doubtlesse the Confession of Faith, lately presented to the Honourable Houses by the Assembly of Divines (who have therein expressed the sense of many millions beside themselues) will abundantly manifest to the world, that this crown is not wholy fallen from Englands head: yet I fear there is cause enough to acknowledge, that it doth not stand so fast on as heretofore, by reason of the many Opinionists, whose main employment is to shake it. Verily who∣soever Page 31 bears a loyall heart to Jesus Christ, cannot but grieve to see the jewels of that crown, which he hath provided for his Churches head, pawned and sold, and embezled as they are: to see not only Ar∣minians, Libertines, and Socinians gratified in abun∣dance of their principles; but even Mahumetans clo∣sed with by some, in what they hold concerning the authority of Scripture, and concerning the deity of Jesus Christ, and of God the Holy Ghost. Yet not∣withstanding, would we all in the strength of Christ, set our selves for time to come, to buy the truth (which * none should sell) and, when truth hath been sold by others to redeem it; I doubt not but within a while that would become applyable to England, which the Prophet speaks of Zion, Isa. 62. 3. Thou shalt also be a Crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royall Diadem in the hand of thy God.
3 Inferences from the order of these perfe∣ctions.
1 That men will never contemne the world till they have learned to put on Christ. The woman is first clothed with the Sun, then gets the Moon un∣der her feet, not till then. The world tastes bitter to a soule that hath got the relish of Christ, and is ami∣able * only to such as know him not. The stars that shine with some lustre all the night, when the sun ri∣seth in the morning hide their heads and appear not, being so out-shined, as to be obscured by that more glorious light. Such are all worldly excellencies to a soule wherein Christ is risen. A man can then slight the things, for which he formerly valued himselfe. To Zacheus gold is not the same thing after conver∣sion and before it. Now he makes restitution, and Page 32 cares not how little hee leave himselfe, so he be not left by Christ.
2 That men will never prize the Gospel as their Crown, till they have learned to contemne the world. The Moons being under the womans feet, goes before her having a crown of twelve stars upon her head. Those in the parable who had no minde to come to the marriage supper, but desired to be ex∣cused, * fetch all their excuses from worldly affairs. That in Psal. 119. 36. Incline my heart unto thy Testi∣monies, and not to covetousnesse, implies that an heart inclined to covetousnesse will never give the Oracles of God their due esteem. Luther, who gloried in no∣thing more then the Gospel of Christ, and ventured all for it, is reported to have profest that he was ne∣ver so much as tempted by Satan to that sin. The Pope tryed to win him by money (which it seems was more rhen the Devill had done) but upon tryall made, the answer which his agents returned was, *That the German beast cared not for gold.
Hitherto of the first Verse. Come we now to that other part of the description, which concerns the Churches weake and perillous condition, laid down in the second.
Where there is a kinde of gradation, the steps whereof will help to bound, and likewise to metho∣dize our discourse, after this manner. Shee is with childe, her being with childe introduceth a travell; that travailing is attended with pains, those pains force her to cry.
1 The woman was with childe. This Apoca∣lypse Page 33 being the last peece of Scripture, hath a retro∣spect to the former canonicall books, well nigh in all the passages of it. Most of the phrases in this chapter seem to be allusions, either to the story of Israel, as related by Moses; or of Christ as reported by the Evangelists. For example, the womans crying may looke back to the dolefull cry of Israel in Egypt, by reason of bondage; her flying into the desart and nourishment there, to the wildernesse into which Israel was led, and where Manna was sent them from heaven to feed upon. Her being delivered of a man-childe, to the Virgin Mary's bringing forth of Christ; being watched by a Dragon ready to devoure her childe, to Herods lying in wait to murther Christ, the childs being caught up to God and his Throne, to our Saviours Ascention, and sitting at the right hand of the Majesty on high. In conformity to which notions it may be said, that as the Virgin Mary con∣ceived Christ, when she had been over-shadowed with the Holy Ghost; so when the Spirit came down at Pentecost upon the Apostles, the Primitive Church fell with childe. The words are 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 having in her wombe. Never was the Church more pregnant; for shee then had in her wombe all those converts that were brought forth to God in the seve∣rall Nations of the world, by the ministry of the first Evangelicall teachers, and of their immediate suc∣cessours.
2 This being with child brought her in time unto her travell, which consisted partly in the pious en∣deavours of zealous Christians to bring in others to * Christ, (it being a principle with such, that he walkes unanswerably to his new-birth, who doth not desire Page 34 and labour to see others new-borne) whence it is that Augustin commends his mother Monica for putting * her selfe to more trouble in being instrumentall to his regeneration, then shee had been at in bringing him forth into the world: partly and especially, in the great and uncessant labours of her Apostles, Evangelists, & other Officers, to disperse the Gospel throughout the world for its conversion to the faith, and making good of that prophesie, Isa. 54. 1. Sing barren, thou that dost not bear; break forth into singing; and cry aloud thou that didst not travell with child for more are the children of the desolate, then the children of the marryed wife, sayth the Lord. As also of that, Isa. 65. 8. Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? shall the earth 〈◊〉 made to bring forth in one day, or shall a nation be borne at once? for as soon as Zion travelled shee brought forth her childe. Yee have to this purpose a most emphaticall speech of Paul, Gal. 4. 19. My little chil∣dren of whom I travell in birth again, untill Christ be formed in you.
3 Her travell was accompanyed with sore pains, which were increased by the opposition shee met withall from two sorts of men, Persecutors and He∣reticks. That which arose from the one sort was more violent, that which came from the other more fraudulent; but both exceeding dolorous. The former had more of the Lyon in it, that terme Scripture puts upon Tyrants; Jer. 4. 7. The Lyon is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; the latter more of the Fox, which is the name given to seducers, Cant. 2. 15. Take us the Foxes. Satan in the one shewed himselfe a Dragon, and a Serpent Page 35 in the other. Lion and Fox, Dragon and Serpent, all conspire to inlarge the Churches sorrows.
4 Being thus in paine shee could not hold from crying out;
1 To God in her prayers. As Acts 4. from the 24thVerse to the 31. They lift up their voyce to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, &c. Of a truth against thy holy child Jesus whom thou hast anoynted, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, which the Gentiles and the people of Israel were gathered toge∣ther. And now, Lord, behold their threatnings, &c.
2 To men in her Apologies. Those of Paul in the Acts of the Apostles, those of Justin Martyr, Tertullian and others afterwards, what were they else but the cryes of this woman, travelling in birth, and pained to be delivered? This may suffice for a briefe explication of the words.
The way to improve them in this Auditory will be to accommodate these materials to the State of things among our selves.
AFter some overtures of a Match in the Reign of * King Henry the Eighth, the Reformed Church in this Kingdome was solemnly marryed to Jesus Christ, when the Scepter was swayed by Edward the Sixth: that godly young Prince (as became the Bridegrooms friend) rejoycing greatly because of the Bridegrooms voice. The famous nine and thirty Articles of her Confession then framed, were an evi∣dent signe of her being with child, and that a thorow Reformation was then conceived, though but concei∣ved. Many and fore were the breeding fits she con∣flicted Page 36 with in Queene Mary's days, and such as gave occasion to fear that she would have miscarried. But God sent her ease from heaven under the suc∣ceeding Princes: in which condition she went on for a long while, drawing still neerer and neerer her time. Six yeers agoe, after this Parliament had sate a∣while it was generally believed that shee was false into her travell. And, in the midst of all those sor∣rows which have befaln England since, her friends encouraged themselves with this hope, that the quic∣ker and sharper her pains grew, the liker shee was to be speedily delivered of that man-child, which was by them so greedily expected. But, behold, as if all these had been but fore-runners of her labour, not bearing-throws, she continues still in pain: insomuch as they now begin to think shee has not gone her full time, and earnestly to desire shee may; because they feare nothing more than an abortive Reformation.
However, evident it is, not only that her pains are multiplyed, but that they are caused, partly by the malignity of her enemies, who have embroyled her in a bloudy Civill War, and thereby given her occa∣sion to breath out the Prophets complaint, Jer. 4. 19, 20. My bowels, my bowels, I am pained at my very heart; my heart makes a noyse in mee, I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, ô my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of War. Destruction upon destru∣ction is cryed, for the whole land is spoyled. Partly from the animosities and disagreement of her members, then which nothing is more dolorous to quiet spirits. Let mee tell you how a great Scholar once prosest himselfe affected with the like times.
Our Churches condition being such as hath been described, or rather such as no description of mine can possibly reach the perplexity of; who can think it strange, if (besides her crying to God, as in Is. 26. 17, 18. Like as a woman with child that draweth neere the time of her delivery is in pain, and cryeth out in her pangs; so have wee been in thy sight, ô Lord. We have bin with childe, we have bin in pain, we have as it were brought forth winde: And to men, as in Lament. 1. 12. Is it nothing to you, all ye that passe by? behold and see, if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger) shee make her speciall addresses to you, Honourable Senators, whom God hath now called to the Mid∣wives office? No loving neighbour but would rise at midnight to help a poore woman in travell: No tender Christian but would put on bowels of mercy towards a Church in such a case. O what care! what bowels! what help is expected from you, who a∣bove all men are bound with all your might and skill to promote the birth of such a child, as may cause the woman to forget all her sorrows!
Page 38 Would you obstetricate, as ye ought? I know you would, yet think it not presumption in me, if in pursuance of the allegory which my Text puts mee upon, I take liberty to suggest three or foure things by way of humble advice, before I conclude.
1 Imitate Tamars midwife, Genes. 38. The story is this from Verse 27. to the end of the Chapter. It came to passe in the time of her travell, that behold twins were in her wombe. And it came to passe when she tra∣velled, that the one put out his hand, and the midwife tooke and bound upon his hand a scarlet thrid, saying, This came out first. And it came to passe as he drew back his hand, that behold his brother came out, and shee said, How hast thou broken forth? this breach be upon thee: therefore his name was called Pharez, And afterwards came out his brother that had the scarlet thrid about his hand, and his name was called Zarah. The different judgements of Professours throughout the Land, shew that our Church hath twins in her wombe. So much of Truth as hath been already owned by Par∣liament, Zarah-like hath put forth the hand; None can but say, This came out first, for you have marked it with the scarlet thrid of a civill Sanction. Yet is there a Pharez a Division or Separation (as the word pro∣perly signifies) whose breakings out are notoriously known; as also his challeng of primogeniture. Our hopes are that Zarah will in due time be fully born, notwithstanding this interposition: and that you will say to the party that separates in Doctrinal prin∣ciples (for of them it is I now speake) by maintaining opinions that are destructive, and prey upon the vi∣tall spirits of Religion, as the midwife then did to Pharez, Upon thee be this breach and not upon us;Page 39 May it never come to be upon you; may you never come to be partakers of other mens sins in so high a degree. Hitherto the damnable heresies and daring blasphemies, which have been vented every where, may be thought to stand on the private account of such as vent them: But if representative England (which God forbid) should espouse their crimes, by over-much connivence at them, the guilt would then become Nationall, and too heavie for us to bear.
The Apostate Julian, who made it his businesse to destroy the Christian Religion, betooke himselfe to the use of two principall means; the one whereof was obstructing the wayes of liberall education, by putting down Schools of learning, that Christians being kept in ignorance might sooner be cheated of their faith, and lesse able to resist the Heathens so∣phistry: a The other, indul∣gence to all kinde of Sects and heresies, in hope by countenancing them to create such a distraction a∣mongst Christians, as should bring speedy de∣struction, not only upon the Orthodox party, but upon the very profession of Christianity. b
I am fully assured that you abhor nothing more then the end at which Julian aymed, and therefore doubt not but the God of all wisdom and grace, will preserve in you an abhorrencie of the means which he used. As yee desire to have Religion flourish a∣mong Page 40 us, give incouragement to learning, and conti∣nue nursing fathers to the nurseries of it. If notwith∣standing the pleasantness of situation, the water be naught and the ground barren, in either or both our Universities (as of old at Jericho, where there was a * Schoole of the Prophets) make speedy provision of fitting salt; let it be cast into the spring that the wa∣ters may be healed. And as ye desire to answer the expectation of Christendom, yea, of Christ, and to fulfill the vows of God that are upon you, speedily raise up some bank against the inundation of blas∣phemies and heresies, which are like to overflow us. The Angel of the Church of Ephesus is twice com∣mended * for his patience, yet noted withall for his not being able to bear such as were evill; and parti∣cularly, for his hating the deeds of the Nicolaitans, who were a pack of lascivious Hereticks. Patience it selfe cannot bear with such.
But there is not the same spirit in all that dissent from truth; neither is every parcell of truth of the same importance. There may be some godly and peaceable persons, who yet cannot throughly close with every thing, which you perhaps may see a ne∣cessity of establishing, my next word of advice is, that toward such you would
2 Doe as the Egyptian midwives did, Exod. 1. Spare them for they are Hebrew children, and such as belong to the Israel of God, though Jacob like they have their haltings. This with me is a maxime, Eve∣ry one that is truly conscientious will as really tender the publike peace of that Church and State wherein he lives, as he desires to have the private peace of his conscience tendred by that Church and State. Now unto such as Page 41 are indeed so qualified, although they may perhaps have gathered some peccant humours, there should be no churlish physick given. Lenitives may serve the turn; seeing there is a divine nature in them, which will not only preserve them from all mortall diseases, but work out those slight distempers by de∣grees. I often think of that prayer, Rom. 15. 5, 6. Now the God of patience and consolation, grant you to be like∣minded one towards another according to Christ Jesus: that ye may with one minde and one mouth glorifie God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Why the God of all patience? Surely to imply, that unlesse God be pleased to beget mutuall patience, and for∣bearance of one another in some things, Christians will never be like minded one towards another ac∣cording to Christ Jesus; neither will our heavenly Father ever be glorified by all his own children, with one minde and one mouth, according to their duty. In an Army, where the severall Regiments are distin∣guished by severall colours, yet all under command of one Generall, and engaged in one common cause, if the souldiers by reason of some diversity in their colours, should mistake one another for foes, and ac∣cordingly charge every one upon those of the Regi∣ment next adjoyning; how inevitable would the ru∣ine of such an host of men be? The Church of Christ is an Army with Banners, there alwayes hath been, and * will alwayes be some variety of opinion even among the good Souldiers of Jesus Christ: But so long as they are all obedient to the known commands of the Captain Generall of their salvation (as the Scripture styles Christ) this variety should not ingage them in * the destruction of one another, lest thereby the Ar∣mies of the living God come to be destroyed, and Page 42 preyed upon by the common enemy.
3 Encourage the woman in her travell, as Rachels midwife once did, Gen 35. 16, 17. Rachel travelled, and she had hard labour, and it came to passe when shee was in hard labour, that the midwife sayd unto her, fear not, thou shalt have this son also. Shee had born Joseph be∣fore, now the midwife puts her in hope of Benjamin. We have already through the unspeakable blessing of God upon your Counsels and Forces, obteined deliverance from a mighty adverse power, that would have ruined us. Reformation is that which we are now groaning for: what satisfaction would it give to heare you saying to England, Fear not, thou shalt have this son also? The Church (as I intimated before) is sayd to travell in the labour of those, her agents, that are called to employments of the greatest moment and difficulty; such are Magistrates, Ministers, Soul∣diers, and to the first of these sorts it belongs to en∣courage the other two. Hezekiah was a great refor∣mer, and it may be observed, that there is mention twice made of his speaking comfortably to certain persons, 2 Chron. 30. 22. Hezekiah spake comfortably to all the Levites that taught the good knowledge of the Lord: And again, Chap. 32. 6. He set Captains of War over the people, and gathered them together, and spake comfortably to them. If our faithfull and valiant Souldiers have not received due encouragement, let them have it, I beseech you, to the full: and let mee have leave to speake a few words in behalfe of our godly Ministers; whose assistance (how useless soe∣ver it may be accounted in other affairs) cannot be spared in Ecclesiasticall Reformations. Israel was not brought out of Egypt, but by the concurrence of Page 43Moses & Aaron; nor the second Temple built, but by joynt endevours of Zerubbabel and Joshuah. It hath bin formerly sayd by one out of this Pulpit, that you have nothing at all to doe in reforming the Church; by another, that none but you have to doe in the government of it. I fear not to call both these extreams, and beg your attention to those that take the middle way; whose unanimous voyce to the Parliament of England, concerning extirpation of Heresies, and removall of abuses out of the Church, is that of She∣••aniah to Ezra, Arise, for THIS MATTER * BELONGS TO THEE, we also will be with thee: be of good courage and doe it. We live in an age wherein are many that doe evill with both hands earnestly, as the Prophet speaks, Micah 7. 3. There is therefore need that both our hands should be employed in doing good. Now the two hands of a Christian Kingdom are the Magistracy and Ministry thereof. The businesse of Reformation cals for both. As we commonly use our hands for the washing and cleansing of each other. So if the Minister be extrava∣gant, the Magistrate may correct him; then the right hand washeth the left: If the Magistrate doe amisse, the Minister may admonish him, then the left hand clenseth the right. But he that makes use of one hand to cut off the other with, destroys his body: such would our condition be, if either Ministers should suffer the Magistracy to be cryed down; or Magistrates permit the Ministry to be debased. Scripture and experience bid us hope, that Amalek shall then be foyled, and Israel prevail, when faith in Christ, and zeal for truth shall support both these hands, as Aaron and Hur did those of Moses upon the mount.
Lastly, for a conclusion of all, let the prayer of faith be of greatest activity when the woman is found to be in greatest extremity. Time was when things were at such a passe even with Jerusalem in a day of trouble, rebuke and Page 44 blasphemy, that the children were come to the birth, but 〈◊〉 was no strength to bring forth, Isa. 37. 3. The case may pe•¦haps be ours at present, though I will not say it is. 〈…〉 am, the wisest course we can possibly take, is to follow 〈◊〉•¦zekiahs good example; who, upon that sad occasion, 〈◊〉 not only pray himselfe, vers: 15. but send to Isaiah, req••¦ring him to lift up a Prayer for the remnant that was 〈◊〉 vers. 4. Verily, Honourable and beloved, there is as 〈◊〉 need of fasting and prayer at this day, as ever there 〈◊〉 since our troubles began. But the assembling of our 〈◊〉 from moneth to moneth will be in vain, unlesse that whi•• is tendred to God be the fasting of sincerity and prayer 〈◊〉 faith. If while we fast our lusts be surfeited, and 〈…〉 outcry our devotion, we must expect to have it much lon•¦er yet ere the childe be borne. Wherefore to add streng•• to our faith, and alacrity to our prayers, let us feed 〈◊〉 those interrogations, which have the force of a promise 〈◊〉 them, Isa. 66 9. Shall I bring to the birth, and not cause 〈◊〉 bring forth, sayth the Lord? I that cause to bring forth shall I shut the wombe sayth thy God? For my part when 〈◊〉 consider that Temple-worke hath been alwayes accom¦plished not by might or by power, but by the spirit of the Lor•* and call to minde how many mountains are already 〈…〉 before his Zerubbabels: I am filled with hopes, 〈◊〉 you the Worthies of our Israel, whose souls have 〈◊〉 all this while to bring forth a Reformation, shall 〈◊〉 day see the travell of your souls, & be fully satisfied: 〈◊〉 as Jesus Christ would not save his people by halves 〈◊〉 leave the worke of purchasing redemption for them 〈◊〉 had brought it to a Consummatum est, so he will not 〈◊〉 his Church by halves, but carry on the blessed work 〈◊〉 Reformation till, not we only but, all they through••• the world, whose expectations are fastned upon it, sha•• cause to rejoyce and say, It is finished.