The Third Lecture.
Hosea. 1. 6. 7.
And she conceived again and bare a daughter, Iune 6. 1641 and God said unto him call her name Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel, but I will utterly take them away.
But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the Lord their God, & will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by ba•∣tell, by horses, nor by horsemen.
COncerning Hosea's first son, the last day. Shee conceived a∣gain. This conception sets out also the estate of Israel in re∣gard of her sin and misery: Sin it is fruitful, and what bring∣eth it forth? Parents bring forth a likeness to themselves, and so doth sin; and what is that? Nothing but ruine & misery.
This second child it is a daughter, it noteth the weaknes of the state of the ten Tribes at this time, they were grown to be effeminate in regard of their lust, and the basenes of their spirits, and in regard of their strength also they were like the female sex. There are 3. estates of the people signified by the 3.* children of Hosea; the first was their scattered estate, and that was signified by Jezreel, the first son; of which the last day: And the story of that you had in 2 K. 15. ver. 9. to the 19. where you may read their wo∣full sedition; for Zach•riah reigned but 6. months, & then Shallum sle• him, & reigned in his stead, and he reigned but one month, for Menah•• came & smote Shallum & slew him, & reigned in his stead: So here was nothing but murthers and seditions amongst them. A scattered people.
The 2. state of the people of Israel was their weake condition that they were brought unto, signified by this daughter; and the history of that you have from v. 16. of that Ch. onwards, where when Pul the K. of Assyria came against Israel, Menahem presently yeelded to him what hee would have, giveth him IOCO. talents of silver to go from him, & so layeth a tax∣ation upon the people for it. Here they were brought to a very low & weak condition. And afterwards this K. of Assyria cometh again, and carryeth part of them into captivity. The 3. child was Loammi, and the history of the state of the people signified by that you have in 2 K. 17. 6. where they were fully caryed away, & wholy rejected for ever: And because they were a little before that time grown up to some strength more then former∣ly, therefore this last was a son. We are now to speak of the second.
She conceived again and bare a daughter.
Page 40 From that interpretation I have given of it, to note the weaknesse and ef∣feminacy of the state of the people at this time, a little before their ruine; The observation from thence is this,
When the manliness,* courage, and vigour of the spirits of people are ta∣ken away, then they are under a fearfull judgment, and neare to ru•ne.
Even when their men shall be as women,* as Nah. 3. 13. when there shall be such basenesse of spirit in people, that for the enjoyments of their present ease and quiet they yeeld to any thing. So it was with these, and in thar their effeminatenesse was shewed.
When the King of Assyria came to them, they yeeelded to any termes he would appoint, to give him any thing he would demand; and when the taxes were laid upon the people, they enquired not whether they were just or no, but meerly for their peace & safety they yeeld. We must take heed of bringing our selves into trouble, we were better pay this then ven∣ture the loss of all, we must not displease those that are above us, we know not what hard things may follow; it is our wisedome, though things are hard, and we complain the taxations are heavy, yet to suffer something, they had rather have a little though with basenesse, then venture any thing for further peace and liberty for themselves and their posterity.
2. The eff•mina•enesse of their sp•rits were shewne in this, that they were willing to bow downe their necks to submit to the government of most vile murtherers, without any enquiry after them, or taking any course or way at all to finde out their murthers and wickednesse. Zecha∣ria was slain by Shallum, then commeth Menahem and hee killed Shal∣lum, after Menahem, raigned Pekahiah, and against him conspired Pe∣kah the sonne of Remaliah, and smote him in Samaria, and with him killed 50. men, and reigned in his roome, then cometh Hoshea the sonn of Elah, and he made a conspiracy against Pekah, and slew him, and reign∣ed in his stead. Here were murtherers upon murtherers, and yet the peo∣ple all this while bow down their necks, and looke not after these things: They have gotten power in their hands, and we must take heed of looking so high, to enquire after things that are above us, and it is ill displeasing of them, we were better a great deale be quiet and hold our peace, & say no∣thing, than to enquire after such high matters as those are; and so they let all goe, and bowed their necks to the yoke, and by no meanes such horri∣ble guil of murthers must be questioned, because the murtherers had got power in their hands. Their cowardly timerous spirits were much like the temper of Issachar, we read of Gen. 49. 15. Isachar is a strong asse cou∣ching down between two burthens,*he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant, and he bowed his shoulders to bear, & became a ser∣vant unto tribu•e. And when mens spirits are effeminate in regard of the civill state, they quickly grow so in regard of their consciences and religion too. Purity of religion in the Church cannot stand long with sla∣very admitted in the State. We read Rev. 4. 7. of 4. Ages of the Church Page 41 set out by four living-creatures: the 3. living-creature the Text saith, had the face of a man, and that was to note the state of the Church in the time of reformation, they began then to be of manly spirits, & to cast off that yoke of bondage that was before upon them, to enquire after what liberty God had granted to them. Not then like those we read of, Isa. 51. 23. that would bow down to such as would say to their soules, Bow downe that we may goe over them.
This (my brethren) hath been the condition of many of us; there hath bin that effeminateness of spirit in us, that we have bowed down our necks, yea, our souls to those that would go over us; yea, (as it is there in 51. Isa.) they made themselves the very street to them that went over them, their ve∣ry consciences were trampled upon by the foot of pride, and all for the en∣joyment of a little outward accomodation in their estates, in their shops, and in their trading, Oh they must not venture these, rather yeeld to any thing in the world. And truly we were afraid not long since that God was calling us by the name of this daughter Loruhamah, in regard of our effe∣minateness of spirit, that the Lord was departing from our nation. But blessed be God that now here hath begun to be a rising of spirit among us, especially among our worthies in Parliament, and their warmth, vigour, & life, hath put warmth, vigour, spirit, and life, into the whole Kingdome. Now our Kingdom will never bow downe and submit their Consciences,* nor Estates, nor liberties to that bondage and oppression that heretofore hath been. No, they had rather die honorably then live basely. But why do I make such a disjunction? dy honorably, or live basely? Had we spirits we might free our selves and posterity from living basely, and we need not dye at all; for the malignant party hath neither spirit to act, nor power to pre∣vail, if we keep up our spirits and be strong in the Lord we are safe enough, yet we shall not have our name Loruhamah, but Ruhamah, the Lord will have mercy upon us. 1 King. 14. 15. God threatens to smite Israel, that they shall be as a reed shaken with the wind:* and then mark what fol∣loweth, and then he would root them out of this good land which hee gave to their Fathers. If this judgement be upon England that our spirits be shaken as a reed with the winde, that wee bow and yeeld to any thing in a base way, the next may justly follow that the Lord may root us out of this good Land. As it was with Israel before their destruction, they grew ef∣feminate, so it was with Judah too before theirs, Isa. 3. 3. when God in∣tended judgment against them, you may observe there that He took away the mighty man & the man of war, the prudent and the ancient, the Cap∣tain & the honourable man & the Counseller. men of truly noble spirits were taken away, their Nobles became to be vile and sordid, & to yeeld to any humors and lusts, then they were neer the ruine; and ver. 12. the Text saith women rule over them; for women that have many spirits to rule is no judgment at all; but for women of revengeful spirits to rule over a nation is a most fearful judgment. But so much of the first, that it is a daughter that is here born to Hosea.
Page 42 What is this daughters name? Call her name Loruhamah?
Non dilecta, so some, Non misericordiam consecuta, so others, both come to one, either not beloved, or one that hath not obtained mercy, for Gods mercy proceedeth from his love.
I will no more have mercy.
I will add no more mercy;* Nothing that God had shewed abundance of mercy to Israel before; but now he saith, I will not adde any more, I will shew no further mercy to them.
But I will utterly take them away. Tollendo tollam; so turned by some, In taking them away I will take them away; Levaho levando, so others, I will lift them up, that I may cast them down so much the more dreadfully. The old Latin hath it thus, Obliviscendo obliviscor, forgetting I will forget. And this was upon a mistake of the Hebrew word, because there is little difference in the Hebrew,*between the word that signifieth to to forget, and that which signifieth to take away. The 70. setting my selfe against them, I will set my selfe against them.
Well the name of the child must bear this upon it, that God will have no more mercy upon them. Hence then first.
Sometimes the very children of families, and in a kingdom do bear this impression upon them, that God will have no mercy upon this family, up∣on this kingdome. One may (my brethren) read such an impression up∣on the children of many great families in this Kingdome,* when wee looke upon that horrible wickedness of the young ones that are coming up, how different from their former religious Ancestors; we may see with tremb∣ling hearts) such an impression of wrath, as if God had said, I have done with this family, I intend no further mercy to this family. As sometimes when we see in a family gracious children, gracious young gentlemen, no∣ble men, we may see the impression of Gods mercy to that family, Ruha∣niah, I intend mercy to it.
It was not long since that we might,* and we thought indeed wee did see such an impression upon the young ones of this kingdome, the young ones in the City, the yong ones in the chief families in the Country; that we vvere afraid that Lornhamah to England was written upon them, for oh the rude∣nes and wickednes of the young ones! But blessed be God that we see it o∣therwise now; now in regard of that graciousnesse, that forwardnesse of so many young ones amongst us, we may see written upon them, Ruhamah to England, mercy to England, God hath taken away his Lo, and writeth only Ruhamah, mercy to you, this great change God hath made. For the great ground of the hope we have for mercy to England, is the impres∣sion of God upon the young ones: When God hath tender plants growing up in his Orchard,* certainly he will not break down the hedg or dig it up.
Secondly, Call her name Loruhamah, for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel.*
There is a time when God will not have mercy upon a kingdome or up∣on Page 43 a particular people. Gather your seves together, oh nation not worthy to be beloved, before the decree come forth. There is a time for the de∣cree to come forth against a kingdome, when God will not be intreated; a time when though Noah, Job, and Daniel should stand before him, yet he will not be intreated, though they cry, cry •arly, cry aloud, cry with teares, cry with fasting, yet God will not be intreated. Gods mercy is precious, and he will not let it run out to waste, he will not be prodigal of it, a time wherein God will say,* Now I have done, I have done with this people, mercy hath had her turn. It is true, except we had that immediate re∣velation that the Prophets had, we cannot now determine of the particular time; yet by examining Gods way toward his people in former times, the truth is, that those that laboured most to search Gods minde in his word, they were even afraid that this decree had been gone out upon us in Eng∣land. It is true, God hath seemed for the present to tell us that hee hath a prerogative, and he will have mercy upon whom he will have mercy: But yet neither are those altogether to be blamed, that even in their own hearts determined (as it were) that mercy was gone; except they did wholly li∣mit God, and left nothing of prerogative at all to him, but because it was Gods ordinary way; and except God had wrought with us in a way of pre∣rogative otherwise than ever he did with any nation before, they did then conclude that the decree was gone forth; and so it might be true, and what God may do with us yet we do not know. But this we can say, if the de∣cree be not gone forth, if there be mercy for us, God hath shewed his pre∣rogative, that he will now goe on in such a way otherwise than formerly he hath done in the world; and if God will do so, who can say against it?
A time there is likewise for God to say against particular persons, he wil not have mercy upon them,* a time when God will say, those men that were bidden shall not tast of my Supper; he that will be filthy, let him be filthy still, my spirit shall no longer strive with them. God hath no need (my brethren) that we should receive or entertain his mercy, we had need that God should grant it. God many times is quick in the offer of his mercy. Goc and preach the Gospel, he that believeth shall be saved, he that belie∣veth not shall be damned. A quick worke God makes many times in the effects of mercy.
Yet 3.*I will not have mercy: This is pronounced as the most dreadfull judgment. What, not have mercy upon them? then indeed is a State or a Kingdom in a dreadful condition, when God shall say of them that he will not hve mercy. Wo to you (saith the Lord) when I depart from you, wo then to you when my mercy is for ever gon, then all judgments & miseries must needs flow in upon a nation, or a particular soul; when the Sea-bank is bro∣ken up, then the waves will all flow in. Isa. 56. 9. All you beasts of the field come to devour, yea, all you beasts in the forrest, why what is the mat∣ter? His watchmen are blind, &c. I argue thus from thence, if the prudence of the watch-men being taken away which should stop misery, then all e∣vils come flowing in upon a Nation.
Page 44 What then if the mercy of God that should stop misery be taken away? whither should the poore creature goe if mercy be gone? to what creature should it look for help? if it cryes to any creature, the creature saith, I can afford no comfort, because God affordeth no mercy: what shall uphold the heart then when it hath no hope at all? It must needs sink.
I will not add mercy (saith God) shewing, that what good they had re∣ceived before it was from his mercy, though they would take no notice of it; well, saith God, you shall have no more, you have taken no notice that it was my mercy that helped you before, but when my mercy is gone, then you will know it,* but then I will not add more. Men best know what the worth of mercy is, when mercy is taken away from them, when God ad∣deth no more.
Again,*I will not adde mercy. God doth not use to take away his mer∣cy fully from a people or from a soul: but when mercy hath been shewed and abused, after much mercy hath been received, and that being abused, then God saith hee will not adde more. You have a parallel place to this, Iudg. 10. 16. I will deliver you no more, saith God, I have delivered you many times, my mercy hath been abused, I will deliver you no more. It is just with God when mercy is abused, that wee should never know far∣ther what mercy meaneth. Mercy as it is a precious thing, so it is a tender thing, and a dangerous thing to abuse it. There is nothing that more quick∣ly works the ruine of a people or of a soule, then abused mercy.
But further, I will utterly take them away. Before it was only that they should be scattered, the name of the first child before was but Iezreel, that they should be the scattered of the Lord; but the 2. is Loruhamah, that they shall have no more mercy from the Lord.* Gods 2. strokes usually are more dreadfull then the first:* God beginneth first with the house of Cor∣rection before he bringeth to the gallows. There is branding first before hanging: there are warning pieces before murthering peeces. God makes way for his wrath by lesser afflictions, before hee cometh with destroying judgments. I remember Mr. Knox in his History of Scotland hath this story of one Sir Iames Hamilton, that having been murthered by the Ks. means there, he appeared to him in a vision with a naked sword drawn, and strikes off both his arms, with these words, Take this before thou re∣ceive a finall payment for all thy impieties, and within 24. hours 2. of the Ks. sons dyed. God cometh to nations & particular persons with a sword, cutteth off arms before he takes their lives, he commeth by degrees upon them. As the Lord when he cometh in a way of abundance of mercy, lesser mercies make way for greater mercies. When Manna was rained down, the dew ever came before it: So, lesser judgments to the wicked are fore∣runners of, and makers way for greater judgments; first they are parboild before they come to be rosted in the fire.
Further, I will not adde mercy to the house of Israel. He doth not say, I will not adde mercy to this or that particular man of Israel, but to the house of Israel.
Page 45 A Multitude of sinners, with God is no argument for their escape of judgment. It is a rule indeed with man, Multitudo peccantium, tollit pec∣catum, Multitude of offenders take away their offences;* Men know not how to execute the offenders when they are in Multitudes, here and there some of the ring-leaders may be taken for example sake. But it is no rule with God, though it be the whole house of Israel, God hath no mercy for the whole house of all the people of Israel. Let no man presume to sin against the Lord, because there are Multitudes that do offend, & think that he shal escape with the Multitude. No, all the nations of the world with the Lord are but as the drop of a bucket, & as the small dust of the ballance, nothing, even lesse then nothing.
And yet further, No mercy upon the house of Israel: Though it be the house of Israel, yet no mercy upon her. If it were the house of Pharaoh it were not so much,* but what, no mercy to the house of Israel? The neare∣ness of any to God exempts them not from the wrath of God. God hateth sin,* and hateth sin most when it is nearest him: You have I knowne of all the families of the earth, therfore wil I punish you for your iniquities, saith the Lord. As we hate a Toad in our bosoms more then when it is at a fur∣ther distance; so God hateth sin in those that are nearest to him more than in those that are further off; for God will be sanctified in all those that draw neer unto him. But wherefore is all this that God wil have no more mercy upon the house of Israel? what hath the house of Israel done, that God should be so angry with it? It is worth our searching and enquiring after, why the Lord will at this time have no mercy upon the house of Isra∣el. It concerns our selves neerly.
The first and main reason is, because of their continuance in their false way of worship, notwithstanding all the means that God had used to bring them off; not only by his Prophets, sending them again and again to shew them the evill of their false worship in those 2. Calves in Dan and Bethel, but by most remarkable works of his providence against them. As for ex∣ample. The work of God against Jeroboam, when hee was but stretching out his hand against the Prophet that came to denounce judgement against that Altar upon which he was offering Sacrifice,* his hand that he put forth against him dryed up, so that he could not pull it in again to him, and upon the prayer of the Prophet it was restored & became as was before. Again, the remarkable work of God in anointing Iehu to destroy the house of A∣hab and his seed for their Idolatry. Yet notwithstanding these Prophets, and these works of God, with many other, they still persisted in their way of Idolatry. And this caused the Lord now not to have mercy upon the house of Israel.
Let us take heed of this, God hath used, and still doth use means to bring us off fully from all wayes of false worship, not only by sending his Minist∣ers from time to time to declaim against such things, but by wonderful and remarkable works of his providence towards England, especially at this Page 46 day. Never had any Nation, never had England heretofore more remar∣kable works of God to draw them off from all wayes of false worship, to bring them to worship God in the right way according to his will. Now let us tremble at this sentence; I will not add mercy, I will have no more mercy. God hath added mercy to us again and againe from time to time. And now me thinks in this work of Gods mercy, that he is about concern∣ing us,* he speaks to us as he did to the people, Come and put off thy orna∣ments, that I may know what to do with thee. Come now and humble your selves that I may know what to do; As if God should say, Come & give in your last answer.* Certainly in that way that God is now in with us, he calleth England to give its last answer, as if he should say, Now I am sheing mercy once more, take heed of rejecting it, lest you have a Loru∣hamah upon you, I will adde no more mercy, consider not onely what wee have done, but what we do, how we have abused mercy, and how wee doe now abuse present mercy; how opposite the spirits of most are against the work of reformation now in hand, who even say to the Lord Christ depart from us, we desire not the knowledg of thy ways. When the people of Is∣rael were offered Canaan, and God bade them go in and possesse it, they were then neer unto it; but when they then refused Canaan, God sware in in his wrath that they should not enter into his rest. If ever a people were offered Canaan, were offered the Ordinances of God in his owne way, certainly wee are at this time, Let us tremble lest God (if wee reject this mercy) should swear in his wrath, I will have no more mercy upon you, and so we prove to be a Loruhamah indeed.
But a second reason why this people could have no mercy,* might be, be∣cause of their forsaking God even in the civill State. For you are to know that this people of Israel had not only left God in their Church, State, and defiled themselves with false worship, but they had in their civill govern∣ment wickedly departed from that that God had appointed over them: They had departed from the house of David, and rent themselves from it. It is true, this was of Gods permission, but yet it was the wickednes of their hearts, & no excuse at all for them. Hence Chap. 8. 4. God chargeth them that they had set up Kings, but not by him. From whence this may bee observable.
That it is a most dangerous thing for a people to forsake that government to rebell against that civill government that God doth set over them.*
When the people in 1 Sam. 8. 7. had required a King, and would not be ruled by Judges any more, saith the Lord to Samuel, They have not reje∣cted you, but rejected me, that I should not reigne over them: A most dreadfull place, And I confesse freely to you, this one Text of Scripture was the first Scripture that took impression upon my thoughts and heart about fearing to goe on in a way of Church-government that God had not appointed. For thus my thoughts reasoned; What is God so provoked a∣gainst a people that will reject but a Civill government, a government Page 47 that hee hath appointed, that specially concernes but the outward man? Then if it proves that God hath appointed any government in a Church,* that is Divine Institution, that concerns the good of the soule, and is imme∣diately to work upon that, surely God will be much more provoked there for rejecting it.
And going yet further upon search, finding that though we have not a civill government appointed by God as the Jewes had, yet for the Church state, wee have one appointed even by God himself. And reason there must be for it: for whatsoever hath a speciall efficacy upon the heart, must have a spirituall rule for the warrant and direction. Indeed prudence and reason is enough for the ordering of things that concern the outward man, except God will come in with his owne institution. But when it cometh to the ordering of the heart, and there is a spirituall efficacy expected (as in all Church ordinances there must be) and that authority by which they are executed giveth a great influence into them, now nothing can goe beyond its principle, therefore it must have a divine institution to give it its effica∣cy.
It may here be demanded, whether hat not God appointed over us a particular civill government as he did over the Jews?
That our government and all lawfull government of other Nations is appointed by God,* we must conclude is a certain truth. But not so appoin∣ted by God as the government of the Jewes was. And the reason is this, because the Church and Common-wealth of the Jewes was involved in one, and therefore the Apostle speaking of the Church, hee saith they were Aliens, and strangers from the Common-wealth of Israel; It was meant of the Church state. There was such a kind of Paedagogy under the Law, that the Church and State were involved in one, for Christ would be the head of the Church and Common-wealth too, and appoint them lawes; And so their government was imediately from heaven.
Now for us. That we should have a government according to the rules of wisdome and justice; that indeed is appointed by God.
God would have us have a government; But he leaveth the ordering of that government to generall rules of prudence and justice. So that now it is lawfull for any Kingdome or Country to agree together, and according to the rules of wisdom and justice, to appoint what government they wil, as vvhether it shall be a Monarchy, or an Aristocracy, or a Democracy, and to limit this according to Covenant of agreement, as whether that the fundamentall povver shall be vvholly put out, or any part reserved, hovv farre this or that Man,* or society of Men shall have the Managing of it, and the like; then so farre as it is agreed upon, vvee are bound in consci∣ence to obey either actively or passively, but no further are vvee bound to obey any Man though he be in authority, yet vvee are not bound to obey him, either actively or passively, conscience is not tyed.
Page 48 Though those men be in authority, yet it is no resisting of authority at all, not to do what they would have. Yea though the thing be lawfull they would have, yet if it be not according to the law of the kingdom, to the first agreement, I may be bound by the rules of prudence to save my selfe; but it is not authority that binds me to obey out of conscience: For we must of necessity distinguish between men in authority, and the authority of those men. Wherefore so long as wee seeke but to keepe authority in the right channell, that it flows not over the banks, we cannot be charged for resist∣ing the government God hath set over us, though we do not obey the wills of those who are set over us, and therefore there is no cause that we should fear, that God should say to England upon this ground, Loruhamah, hee will have no mercy. To proceed.
The people of Israel they might say, Hosea thou art a Preacher indeed, what preach nothing but judgment, nothing but wrath, to be utterly taken away? Is there no mercy at all? Is not God a mercifull God? Yes saith the Prophet, though you be taken away, God knoweth how to glorifie his mercy; he hath others that he can make to be objects of his mercy though you be destroyed.
From whence first you see that though God utterly reject some,* yet in the mean time he hath others to shew mercy unto. Therefore it is no plea for any sinner to say thus, well, I have sinned indeed, but God is mercifull. What if God be mercifull? so he may be, though thou be damned and pe∣rish everlastingly. Yea, whole kingdoms & nations may perish, yet God may be mercifull, God hath stil infinite ways to glorifie his mercy. Many people in desperate moods, lay violent hands upon themselves, & certainly there is a kind of spirit of revenge in it, as if they thought there would be some trouble about it, and so God should lose some honour. But if you will have your will in this, or in any thing else, though you be dead and rot∣ten, and your souls perhaps in chains of darkness, God will have wayes to be glorious in his mercy, whatsoever come of you.
But 2.*I will have mercy upon the house of Judah. God will alwayes have a Church, he will never destroy his Church at once, the Lord loveth publique worship in the world: Though he will utterly take away the house of Israel, yet he will have mercy upon the house of Judah.
Again, Israel might say, what will not God be mercifull to us? why I pray you what doth Judah get by her worshipping of God in that which you say is the only right way? Judah indeed keepeth her selfe to Ierusa∣lem, keepeth her selfe to worship in the Temple, but what doth she get by it? for ought we see Iudah is in as hard an estate, and in as low a condition as we (nay as we shall see afterward, Iudah was in a lower condition than Israel,) and certainly such kind of expressions as these they would be ready to have against the Prophet.
Well, saith God, let Iudah be what she will, I will have mercy upon her.
Page 49 Though carnal hearts, when they look upon the low condition of the true worshippers of God,* think that there is no difference between those that are in a good way, and themselves that are in the ways of sin, yet God will make a difference; I will have mercy upon Iudah, but not upon Israel. Many carnal men please themselves with this; I see others that are strict, that pray in their families, that run to Sermons, and wil not do thus and thus, as others do, yet they are as poor, in as mean a condition as any others, what do they get by their forwardness in religion? Are not we in as good a condi∣tion as they? Well friend, though thy carnal heart think there is no differ∣ence between him that serveth God, & him that serveth him not, God hath a time to manifest a difference; There shall a time come (saith God, Mal. 3. 18.) that you shall returne and discerne between the righteous, and the wicked, between him that feareth God and him that feareth him not. I will not have mercy upon Israel, but I will have mercy upon Iudah.
Fourthly, Judah had at this time many grosse and fearful evils amongst them, yea scarcely delivered from Sodomy; it will aske a great deale of time to shew you the state of Judah in regard of the horrible wickednesse that was in it, yet God saith, I will have mercy upon the house of Iudah. What is the reason of this?
Because though Iudah had many grosse evils, yet Iudah kept to the right way of worshipping God, kept to Ierusalem, to the Temple; so farre they kept the worship of God pure. Hence we see,
God will favour a people exceeding much,* though there be many weaknes∣ses, yea many wickednesses among them, if they keep the worship of God pure. It is true, there are many spirits that are most bitter against those that seek to worship God in the right way, if they can but get them tripping in a∣ny small thing, they follow it against them with all their might, with all the bitternesse that they can possibly. This is not like unto God, God will fa∣vour those that worship him in a right way, though for other respects hee may have many advantages against them.
But this (you will say) seemes to contradict what you said before, for you said, the nearer any are to God, the more he hates their sinnes, and the sins of those that make a shew of worshipping God in a pure manner, are worse than the sins of others.
It is true, But as their relation to God in the nearnesse of his worship, is an aggravation of their sins, so their relation to God is a foundation of their hope of mercy from God.
How is this?
It makes their sin indeed worse,* so as to provoke God to punish them soo∣ner, and perhaps bitterer, yet their relation to God keepeth this ground of faith, that God is their God still, and will have mercy upon them at last. But the wicked though God spare them longer than his own people, yet when he cometh against them he rejecteth them utterly, so he did Israel: Iudah in∣deed was punished, but yet Iudah had mercy at last, but (saith God) I will Page 50 have no more mercy upon the house of Israel, but will utterly take them away.
Fiftly,* Israel had prevailed a little before against Iudah; for if you read in 2 King. 14. 12. you shall finde that Iudah was put to the worst before Isra∣el, the Text saith, They fled every man to their Tents, and Iehoash the King of Israel took amaziah King of Iudah, and came to Ierusalem, and brake down the walls of Ierusalem, from the gates of Ephraim to the corner gate, four hundered cubits: And he took al the gold and silver, and all the vessels that were in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the Kings house, and hostages, and returned to Samariah. And this was but a little before this time, Israel had thus prevailed against Iudah, and brought Iudah un∣der, yet now saith God, I will have mercy upon Iudah but not upon Israel. What should we note from hence?*
God sometimes sheweth mercy to poor afflicted ones, and yet rejecteth those that are greater & enjoy more prosperity in the world. Many that are poor people,* poor souls that are in a low afflicted condition, God looks up∣no them and sheweth mercy unto them, when brave ones that carry it out, and thrive and live gallantly in the world, are many times rejected of God. Mark what God saith, Zeph, 3. 12. I will leave in the middest of thee an af∣flicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord. God lookes not at the brave and gallant ones of the world, but at the poor and af∣flicted ones, and they shal trust in the name of the Lord. We must not then judge at the happiness of men according to their successe in the world: For you may now be delivered, and others kept under affliction, yet afterwards you may be rejected, and the others received unto mercy.
Further,*Hosea was the Prophet of Israel, he was sent to the ten Tribes, yet Hosea tells them, whose Prophet especially he was, and God would have no more mercy upon them. And he speaks to Judah (he was not sent to them) and he tells them that God would have mercy upon them.
Here we may learn how impartial the Ministers of God ought to be in their work,* they must not goe according to their particular private engage∣ments, though they are engaged more to such a people in divers regards, yet if they be wicked, they must deale faithfully, and plainly, and denounce the judgements of God: And if others, though strangers to them, be godly, they are to give to them that comfort that belongs unto them. My brethren, par∣tiality in those in publick places, especially of the Ministery, is a great evil.
It was for this that God said he had made the Priest and the Levite con∣temptible and base before all the people: Why? because they were partial in the Law, Malac. 2. 9.
7.* It is a great aggravation of the misery of some, that God sheweth mercy to others. For it is here set down as a part of the threatning against Israel, I wil have no more mercy upon Israel, but I wil shew mercy to Judah. To ag∣gravate the misery of Israel, God manifesteth his mercy to Judah. Mark how God in Esay. 65. 13. makes it a part of his threatning against the wicked, Page 51 that he will shew mercy to his servants: Behold, my servants shall eate, but you shall be hungry;*my servants shall drink, but ye shall be thirstie: Behold, my servants shall rejoyce, but ye shall be ashamed; Behold, my ser∣vants shall sing for joy of heart, but yee shal crie for sorrow of heart, & howle for vexation of spirit. These [Buts] are cutting ones to the heart of the wic∣ked. And observe it, here is the word [Behold] three times used, in setting out the difference that God will make between his servants and the wicked, and how God will aggravate the misery of the wicked by shewing mercy to people, because it is a thing much to be considered. A like place you have, Mat. 8. 11. Many shal come from the East & West, and shal sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but the children of the Kingdom shal be cast out into utter darkness there shal be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Mark, they shall gnash their teeth when they shal see how they are rejected and o∣thers received, gnash their teeth for envie and vexation of spirit, for it is a great aggravation of mens misery. And is it not fulfilled this day? How do many bite their nailes and gnash their very teeth to see the mercy that God sheweth to his people in giving them liberty and encouragement in his ser∣vice, while he casteth shame & contempt upon their faces, & bringeth them forth to answer for their wickedness, and to suffer condigne punishment. Wicked mens spirits vex at this, it is that which they cannot possibly beare, it is that which galleth and fretteth the very gaul of their heart to see the mer∣cie of God to his people now in these dayes; to see such an opportunity as this, to meet together with this liberty to exercise our selves in the word, when they are caged up. This they gnash and grind their teeth at.
It is observeable, that which you have in Acts 22. 21. Paul was speaking there a great while to the Jews, & they heard him quietly till he came to that word Depart, for I wil send thee far hence unto the Gentiles; the Text saith, they gave him audience unto this word and then they lift up their voices, & said, Away with such a fellow from the earth, for it is not fit that he should live. What to disgrace us thus, and to think that the Gentiles should come to have more mercie then we! Away with such a fellow from the earth.
We have such an expression likewise in Luke 4. 26. Our Saviour Christ told the Jews of the Widow of Sarepta, that Elias the Prophet was sent onely to her, and that Naaman the Syrian of all the Lepers in Israel was cleansed; They of the Synagogue when they heard these things, the Text saith, They were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust him out of the Citie, and led him to the edge of the hill whereon their Citie was built, that they might cast him down head-long. They were so vexed at Christs Sermon there, that they could have broke his neck as soon as hee had done preaching. It was at this word, There were many Widows in Israel in the time of Elias, but unto none of them was Elias sent save unto the Widow of Sarepta; & many lepens were in Israel in the daies of Elisha, and none of them were clensed, saving Naaman the Syrian. The meaning is this, Christ intimated thus much, that though there were many of the people of Israel, yet the Lord would have Page 52 mercy but upon a few of them; yea that God would choose rather other people to shew mercy to, then themselves; at this they were inraged. And cer∣tainly this wil be the aggravation of the misery of the damned in hell:* When a damned soul in hell shall there come to know the mercy of God to others: It may be wicked parents shal see their children that came out of their loyns. or out of their wombes, at the right hand of Iesus Christ in glory, and them∣selves cast down into eternal torment;* this will be a stinging aggravation of misery, no mercy unto thee, but mercy unto thy gracious child, the child that thou snibbedst and rebukedst for being forward, he is now at the right hand of Christ & thou cast into everlasting misery. So it may be a poor servant, a poor boy in a family, may stand at the right hand of Iesus Christ hereafter and ascend with him in glory; and his rich Master that was, that murmured at him, & would not suffer him to have the least time for to do God service in, but checked him in every thing, and cast it upon his conscience, oh this is your preciseness: perhaps he sees himself cast down into eternal misery, when that poor servant of his, that poor apprentise shall go up to eternal glory
But yet further, God saith, I will have mercy upon the house of Judah. Here is another note very observable, & much concerning our present con∣dition too. God promiseth to Judah mercy, after Israels rejection; yet if we search the Scriptures we shal find that after this promise both before the rejection of Israel was executed, and after the execution thereof; I say, we shal finde that even Judah was under very sore afflictions, and a sad condi∣tion she was put into after this promise was made. As if you will turn but to that Scripture (for we must look to one Scripture and compare it with ano∣ther.* 2 Chron, 28. 6. you shall see there the Text saith, that Pekah the Son of Remaliah slew in Iudah an hundred and twenty thousand in one day: We never heard of such a battel, such a slaughter, wee wonder when we hear of five or ten thousand slain in the field, here we have 120000. slaine, and this was after this promise that this slaughter was made: yea & further, [ver. 8.] There were besides carried captives 200000. women, sons, and daughters. yea further, [ver. 17] The Edomites came and had smitten some of Iudah, and carried away captives. And [ver. 18.] The Philistims had invaded the Citties of the Low-country, and of the south of Iudah, and they dwelt there: And ver. 19.] it is said, the Lord brought Iudah low, And [ver. 20.] it is said that Tilgath-Pilneser King of Assyria, whom Ahas had sent to help him, he came & distressed them, but strengthened them not. Here was Pekah the son of Remaliah slayes 120000, and carries away captive 200000. then there comes the Philistims and they invaded the countrey, and then the Edomites they carried away Captives, and God bringeth them low, and then comes Tilgath-Pilneser, and he instead of helping, distressed them. What a case were they in now? yet this was after this promise, for this promise was made to Judah in the beginning of Hosea's Prophesie, for it is ver. 2. The begin∣ning of the word of the Lord by Hosea, and it was before the rejection of Is∣rael, for it was in the reigne of Ahas that Judah was brought into this low Page 53 condition, which was about 22. yeers before the execution of the sentence a∣gainst Israel, for that was fulfilled in the sixth yeere of the reigne of Heze∣kiah, which (if you take it from the beginning of the reigne of Ahaz, who reigned 16. yeers) make 22. yeers. Now this promise to Iudah (as I told you in the beginning) was made in the dayes of Vzziah King of Iudah, and of Jeroboham King of Israel, which was at least 76. yeeres before the rejection of Israel; and yet after the making of this promise, Judah you see cometh to be in this so sad a condition.
Yea and wee shall finde besides, that presently after Israels rejection, though God had said he would reject Israel, and be mercifull to Judah, so that a man would think now that Iudah should come into a better condition than ever, yet see how Iudah was dealt with. And for that marke the 2. king. 18. 13. the Text saith that in the thirteenth yeer of Hezekiah, Sena∣cherib king Assyria came up against Judah,* and this was after the casting off of the ten Tribes, for that was in the sixth yeer of Hezekiah, as ver. 10. and seven yeers after came Senacherib against Iudah, thinking to prevaile against them as they had done before against Israel; and then Hezekiah was faine to give him all the silver that was found in the house of the Lord, and in the treasures of the Kings house; Yea the Text saith, ver. 16. that He∣zekiah was faine to cut off all the gold from the doores of the Temple of the Lord, & from the pillars, and to give it to the King of Assyria. Now the Lord keepe our Kingdom, our Parliament from giving the gold of the Tem∣ple doores in any way of compliance with any malignant party; that have any evil eye at the beauty of our Sion.
Yea after Senacherib had gotten this, not content with it, he sendeth Rab∣shekah from Lachish, with a great host against Ierusalem. You may see, the adversaries of the Church are never satisfied, yeeld to them, gratifie them, in what you will, this is the first temptation: what will you be so strict, and rugged, and yeeld to them in nothing? but if they prevaile with you, to begin to yeeld, they will never have done, they will still encroach upon you, Hezekiah yeelded to Senacherib, even to take away the gold of the Temple doores, yea a little while after he cometh againe with a great host, so that Hezekiah said, it was a day of trouble and rebuke, Chap. 19. Nothing will quiet them but the ruine of the Church, they must needs have that, Downe with it, downe with it, even to the ground, nothing else will satisfie them.
To this low estate and sad condition was Iudah brought not long after Israel was taken away, and yet God promiseth mercy to Iudah for all this.
VVhat shall we learne from this?
This profitable lesson for our present condition,* God may intend much mercy, yea God may be in a way of mercy to a people, yet may bring that people into very great straits & difficulties. The promises of Gods mer∣cies are alwayes to be understood with condition of the crosse. If we thinke that upon the promise of mercy we shall be delivered from all trouble & af∣fliction, we lay more upon the promise, then the promise will or can beare.
Page 54 It is a great evil that proceedeth from much weaknes of spirit and distem∣per of heart, for people, though God hath done great things for them, yet if there come any rub in the way, and difficulty, any trouble, Oh now we are gone, now vve are all lost, now God hath left us, we hoped that there would have come mercy, we looked for light, and behold darkness, now the heart sinketh, and all is presently given for gone. Know my brethren this is an evil and an unbeleeving heart, an evil and an unthankful heart. God hath indeed done great things for us, yet how ready are wee though God be in such a way, a glorious way of mercy, if we hear of any difficulty, of any little rub, any combining of the adversaries together? we must expect nothing now but blood, and bid farwel, and adue to all our peace; we thought to have had happy dayes, but now the Lord is coming out against us, and all that is done must be undone againe.* Why, why are you so full of unbeleefe? Surely this is unworthy of Christians, that professe an interest in God, & unworthy of all the good that God hath done for us. Peter though before he had wal∣ked upon the seas through the power of Christ, yet when the waves came, now Master save me, or else I perish. Hath not God made us walk upon the waves of the sea all this while? wrought as great a Miracle for us in England as he did for Peter? Yet when a wave doth but rise a little higher then before, we are so distressed in our spirits that we can scarcely cry, Oh Master save us; but we look one upon another and discourage one another hearts, and in stead of crying unto God, wee cry out one to another in a discouraging way, and so pine away in our iniquities: Certainly God is exceedingly an∣gry at such a demeanour as this, and yet this is ordinary, both in regard of nations, and particular persons. Of nations: It was so high with Judah (for I desire to keep as close as I can to the work I am about) though God had made this promise to Judah here, yet if we look into the 7. Isa. (Isaiah was contemporary with Hosea & it was not much after the making of this promise) wee shall see how they were troubled with fear; saith the Text, When it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephra∣im, the heart of the King of Judah, and the heart of his people were moved as the trees of the wood were moved with the winde, they were afraid and shook as the very leaves of the tree shake, both the king of Judah and all the people, Well, but God speaks to the Prophet, in the 8. Chap, ver. 11. (and it was at this time when they were so troubled because of the enemies coming against them) God I say in that Chapter speaks to the Prophet, & (saith the text) he speakes with a strong hand, saying, say not ye, a Confederacy, a confe∣deracy: Oh the King of Israel & the king of Syria are confederate together, what shal we do? we are undone, we are lost for ever; say not ye, A confede∣racy, neither fear ye this fear, nor be afraid, but sanctifie the Lord of hosts himself, and let him be your fear. Thus God would have his Saints do, not when you hear of confederate enemies, or any ill tidings abroad; Oh the pa∣pists are linked together, & A confederacy, a confederacy: do not say a con∣federacy, fear not their fear, but sanctifie the Lord of hosts himself, & let him Page 55 be your fear, and let him be your dread, & he shal be for a sanctuary to you: and mark the resolution of the Prophet afterward, ver. 17. I will wait upon the Lord that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will looke for him. Oh that this were the disposition of our hearts! Take that note away wi•h you, amongst many, though you cannot remember all, when you hear so many rumors of fears and troubles, as if all were gone, and there were now no more hope, Let this be your answer; I will wait upon the Lord that hideth his facè from the house of Jacob, for God is in a way of mercy, and mercy certainly we shall have, let us look for it.
And for particular persons, how ordinary is it though God be in a won∣derful gracious way of mercy towards them, yet if they do but feel their cor∣ruptions stirring never so little, all is gone presently. I was indeed in a good way, but God is gone, Christ is gone, and Mercie is gone, & all is gone, sure∣ly God intendeth no thoughts of good to me. Oh be not unbeleeving, but beleeving; For this is the way of God, though he promiseth great mercie, yet in the meane time he may bring into great afflictions.
For a people to be saved when others neare them are destroyed,* this is a great setting out of Gods goodnes to them: as to stand upon the shore safe∣ly, & see others suffer shipwrack before us, is a great augmentation of Gods mercy towards us. When the people of Israel could stand upon the banks, and see the Egyptians tumbling in the Red-sea, and their dead bodies cast upon the shoare, then, saith the Text, sang Moses and the children of Israel unto the Lord.* And this kinde of mercie the Lord hath granted to us in En∣gland, for while our neighbouring nations have been in a combustion, and many of them spoiled, we have sate under our own vines, & under our own fig-trees, and our greatest afflictions have been only the hearing of what our brethren have suffered & yet do suffer: Whereas all about us is as the fiery furnace, and we walk in the middest of it like the three children, & our gar∣ments not touched, nor the smell of the fire passed on them: when as we see all Countreys as Gideons fleece, bewetted with the tempest of Gods wrath, yea with their own blood, behold we are dry, aud the sun-shine of Gods mercie is upon us, the blackness of the misery of our brethren is the bright∣nesse of our mercie.
It is the Lord that will save them. This is an upbraiding of Israel. Oh Isra∣el you think to be saved by your owne policy, you have got a fetch beyond God, you are afraid that the people should go up to Jerusalem to worship, therefore you have set up the two Calves to save your selves.* But Judah shall be saved, and saved after another way; Iudah need not go to such carnall setches and policies to save themselves, for the Lord shall save them.
Though carnal hearts thinke, and endeavour to save themselves onely by their own policie and carnall waies, yet let Gods people know, that they Page 56 have a stronger means to save them then all the policie in the world. So long as the wisdom, the power, the mercy, the faithfulnesse of God is for them, they need no other string to their bow but that.
I will save them by the Lord.
VVhat is the meaning of this?
This by Interpreters is carried concerning Christ: That God the Father promiseth to save by Christ. As Dan. 9. 17. we have such an expression in prayer, Now O Lord hear the prayer of thy servant for the Lords sake; that is, for Christs sake: So here, God wil save by the Lord; that is, by Christ.
A sweet lesson we have from thence:*viz. That the administration of Gods grace to his people is given into the hands of JESUS CHRIST. It is Christ that doth save the people of God, and hath saved them in all former times, in all ages. It is true, in the merits of Christ all are saved; that every one will grant, as Zach. 9. 11. By the blood of thy Covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit. All the prisoners of Gods people ever since the world began, that have been sent out of the pit, it hath been by the blood of the covenant, by the merits of Christ: and not onely so, but Christ in the administration of all hath been the chiefe, he hath been the Angel of Gods presence, that hath stood up for his people in all their necessities, he hath been the great Captain & deliverer, the Saviour of them all. Let Christ then have the honour of a Soveraigne to us in regard of our salvation in outward deli∣verances. Let us look up to him then for salvation in all our straits. And if Christ was the Saviour of his people in all ages, and still will be, then surely those ages and places where Christ is most known and honoured may ex∣pect the greatest salvation. And this is for our comfort, far above all the a∣ges that ever was since the world began, Christ is most known and honou∣red in this age, and of all places in the world, here in England and amongst our countrey men; and if Christ will be a Saviour of those places where he is known and honoured, surely England may expect a salvation: England hath had it, and as England is peculiar in the way of the knowledg of Christ, so England shall be peculiar in a way of Gods grace to her.
Not your God oh Israel, but their God. Thus he upbraydeth the people of Israel that they had forsaken their God; that Iudah had kept their God, but Israel had not.
It is a great upbrayding of a people when it can be said of them that they have forsaken the Lord.* It is a wofull thing not to have God to be our God at all,* that conscience can charge this upon a man that Daniel did upon Bel∣shazzar, That God in whose hand thy breath his, & whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified; but that conscience can charge this, That God that thou hast chosen, that thou hast entred into covenant withall, Oh thou apo∣statized soule, thou apostatized Nation, thou hast forsaken him, he is not thy God. This is a sore and heavy charge indeed.
Again, The Lord their God.
Those then that do not worship God in a right way,* God will not ac∣knowledge himself to be worshipped by them at all.
The people in the wildernesse proclaimed a fast to Jehovah, and yet the Apostle 1 Cor. 10. 7. calleth them Idolaters, and it is said they sacrificed to Idols, because they worshipped God by the Calfe, and not in Gods way. Though we may think we worship God, yet if wee doe not worship him in his own way, he doth not own himself to be worshipped by us at all.
Again, The Lord their God.
This could not but sting Israel, that Judah should be thought to have more interest in God then Israel had.
It is a stinging thing to carnal hearts,* and much bitternesse of spirit it must needes be entertained withall, that any one should but think of chal∣lenging any peculiarity of interest in God.* Thus they scorned at Christ, Oh he trusted in God, he thinketh he hath more interest in God then others, now let his God come and save him. I remember in the book of Martyrs we read that the Papists were much vexed against the protestants, because they used to say, our God and our Lord, they were knowne by this speech, and the Papists were inraged against them for this, because they seemed to claime more interest in God then others. And indeed what is the cause of the quarrel in the World against Gods people, but because they thinke they claime more peculiarity and interest in God than others? and this is the reason that soule-searching preaching cannot be endured, because it makes a difference between the one and the other, and shewes that some have an interest in God more than others. Hence it is that in no places in the world mens spirits so fret against preaching as in England, why? because there is not such soul-examining, such soule-distinguishing preaching in the World as in England. Yea that is the reason of the bitternesse of one professor a∣gainst another, because one is a Protestant at large, and the other manifest∣eth more power of godlinesse, is more strict in his course; and seemes to claime a greater share in God than the former. Profession in England is a more distinguishing profession than in other places.
God is the God of Judah still,* therefore God will save them.
So long as God is our God we need not fear our adversaries. Yee have heard of that Palladium of the Heathens in Troy, they imagined that so long as that Idol was kept safe, they were unconquerable; all the strength in Greece was not able to prevaile against it, wherefore the Greecians sought by all means they could to get it from them.* I have read of the men of Tyrus that they were afraid their god Apollo should forsake them: they therfore chain∣ed and nailed that Idol to a post that they might be sure of it, because they thought their safety was in it. Let us fasten our selves to God in an everlast∣ing covenant, and certainly God will be fast to us, & then we are safe enough.
It shall not be by any outward meanes, but by the immediate hand of God. This promise that God would save them not by bow nor by sword, &c. it was performed two several times, and there is a third time for the ful∣filling of it which is yet to come.
It was done first when the Angel of the Lord went out and smote in one night in the Camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore & five thousand:* 1 kings 11. 35. and God tells them, that the King of Assyria should not shoote an arrow there, nor come before the Citie with a shield: so God sa∣ved them without bow, for they had no need to use the bow then, because the Angel of the Lord destroyed them.
The second time was when he saved Judah in their returne from captivi∣ty, then as it is Zach. 4. 6, he saved them not by might nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts. Marke the phrase, as if God should say, I have strength, for I am the Lord of hosts, I can command Armies, if I would, to save you; No, though I be the Lord of hosts, yet I will not save you by might nor by power, but by my spirit. Therefore Isa. 43. 7. their strength is said to be in sitting still, and ver. 15. in quietnesse, and confidence shall be your strength. Thus they were saved not by bow, nor by sword.
Then the third time, which is yet to come, that is, in the wonderful work of God in calling the Jewes, when God shall raise up out of them, a glori∣ous people to himselfe, and save Judah once again, and it shall not be by sword, nor by bow, but by the Lord their God; For as it is said, Dan. 2. 34. the stone that smote the Image was cut out without hands, so there shall be a power that is not visible from whence it comes, but Jesus Christ shal come from heaven to do his great workes, As the lightning from the East to the West, so shal the comming of the sonne of man be.
What learne we from hence?
First,* God ties not himself to the use of outward means in procuring of good to his people. Though all outward means fail, yet there may be wayes of salvation for the Saints. Wicked mens hearts presently sinke, if outward means fail: And indeed so much as our hearts faile when outward meanes faile, it is a signe that we did before rest upon the means, and if we had had the means, we should have robbed God of his honour. We must use means, but not rely upon the means.* I might shew you excellent Texts of Scripture for this, as Psal. 33. 16. There is no King saved by the multitude of an host, a mighty man is not delivered by much strength, &c. And Psal. 44. 5. 6. Through thee will we push downe our enemies, through thy name we will tread them under, that rise up against us; for I will not trust in my bowe, neither shal my sword save me, &c.
But secondly, Not by bow, nor by sword, &c.
Page 59 Deliverance of a people without bow, and without sword is a great mer∣cy: For such are the wofull miseries that a people doe suffer when warre commeth, that usually the victory will scarce pay the charges of the battel: though we be sure to be saved at last, yet if we must be saved by bow, and by sword, I say the misery that we may suffer in our salvation, may be more then the salvation. It was the height of that mercy promised, Isa. 9. 5. that it should be without confused noise and garments rolled in blood. Such a mer∣cy we have had; and had Christ come to have raigned amongst us, though he had come with his garments rolled in blood, we should willingly have entetrayned him; If he had come ryding upon his red horse; But behold he comes ryding upon his white horse, in peace and mercy all this while, and the mercies we have had, have been very cheap, they have not been by bow, nor by sword. And if God should come at length by the sword, and bring perfect salvation to us by blood, which God forbid; but if he should, we have had already more mercy without blood, than our bloods are worth; should we now have our bloods shed, God hath paied us beforehand: who almost in this congregation, but two or three yeers agoe would have lost his blood to procure so much mercy to England, as England hath had already?
Further.* Such is the love of God to his people, that he is pleased to worke for them beyond meanes. The other point was, that he can save his people without means; This, that he will do it beyond means: For the grace, and love of God to his people, is so high, & glorious, that it is beyond that which can be conveyed by means, therefore it must be done more imediatly. Exod. 15. 6. Thy right hand, O Lord is become glorious in power, in the greatnesse of thine excellency thou hast overthrowne them that rose up against thee. First, it is the hand of God, Secondly, it is the right hand of God, Thirdly, it is the right hand of God in power, Fourthly, this is glorious in power. Fiftly, there is excellency; and Sixthly, there is the greatnesse of Excellency. It is an high expression. Magnitudine excellentiae, or magnitudine elationis, in the greatnesse of thy lifting up,* for the same word signifieth pride, that is here translated excellency; and if God he lifted up in any thing, it is when hee shewes himself for his people. Now take all these six expressions, Gods hand, Gods right hand, his right hand in power, a right hand that is be∣come glorious in power, his excellency, the greatnesse of his excellency, and all this for his Saints, surely this is more then can be conveyed by means, God must borne imediately and save them by himselfe.
But lastly,* the more imediate the hand of God appeareth in his mercy to his people, the more sweet and precious ought that mercy to be then (this were an excellent argument to follow to the full, and so neerly concerning us; you see the scriptures were made for other times, then for the times in which they were first revealed) a most excellent place of Scripture you have for this Psal. 21. 13. Be thou exalted O Lord in thine own strength, so will we sing, and praise thy power. When God cometh in his own strength, and not in the strength of the creature, and by meanes, then do the Saints sing Page 60 and praise the power of God. Dulcious ex ipso fonte, wee use to say, that which cometh imediately cometh exceeding sweetly: Then the Saints may boast in God, when God cometh immediately with his salvation, so you have it, Psal. 44. 7. 8. Thou hast saved us from our enemies, and hast put them to shame that hated us: What followeth? in God will we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. So that the Saints of God then praise God, nay they may lawfully give up themselves to boast, when God works imediately. When God works by means, then they must take heed of as∣cribing to the means, but when God cometh imediately, then they may boast.
It is the blessednesse of Heaven, that Gods mercy cometh imediately: created mercies are the most perfect mercies. Suppose God had bin with them by bow, and by sword, when Senacherib came against them, could they have been saved as they were? Gods hooke that he put in his nose, and bridle that he put in his lipps (for so God saith he would doe with him, use him as a beast) were better then their sword or bow.
Surely, if ever any nation knew what it was to have imediate mercies come down from heaven, England doth: If ever Nation saw God exalting himselfe in his own power, England hath: we have lived (and blessed be God we have lived) to see the Lord exalting himselfe in his own power: Oh let us cry out with the Psalmist (and with that I shall end) Be thou exalted O Lord in thy own strength amongst us, so will we still, and still, and still, sing and praise thy power.