The Sixth Lecture.
HOSEA 2. 7. 8.
For then it was better with me then it is now.
For she did not k•ow that I gave her corne, and wine, and oyle, and multi∣plyed her silve•, and gold, which they prepared for Baal, &c.
THere remaines onely one Observation from the 7. ver. and the taking a hint of a meditation from thence concerning our present times,* of which briefly.
Upon returne unto God, Apostates may have hope of at∣taining their former condition; to be as well as ever they were, I will return to my first husband, for then was it better with me then now, by returning, I hope to recover to be as I was then, that is the meaning.
In this, Gods goodnesse goeth beyond mans abundantly, Ier. 3. 1. Will a man, when his wife hath committed adultery and he hath put her away, will he return to her again? But thou hast played the harlot with many lo∣vers, yet return againe to me saith the Lord: Hence ver. 22. the Holy Ghost exhorteth to return upon this very ground, Returne ye back-sliding children, and I will heale your back-slidings. Is there any back-sliding soul before the Lord? God now offereth to heale thy back-slidings, thou know∣est that it is not with thee now as heretofore it hath been, loe God tendereth his grace to thee that thou maiest be in as good a condition as ever; O that thou wouldest give the answer of the Church there, Behold we come unto thee, for thou art the Lord our God; truly in vaine is Salvation hoped for from the hils, or from the multitude of the mountain truely in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel. It is true, God might justly satisfie thee in those present wayes of Apostacy wherein thou art, as sometimes he doth Apostates,*The back-slider in heart shall be filled with his own wayes, he shall have enough of them, and Pro. 1. 31. They shall eate the fruit of theirPage 255 own way,*and be filled with their own devicss. But behold wisedom it selfe calleth thee now to returne again, and makes this faire promise, Pro. 1. 23. Turne ye at my reproofe, behold I will poure out my spirit unto you. There is not onely a possibility of being received into thy former condition,* but Christ doth wooe thee, and calleth after thee, hee promiseth to poure forth his spirit unto thee, yea and there would be triumph in heaven upon thy re∣turning.
But let me say thus much to thee, though there be a possibility of com∣ming again into as good a condition as thou wast in afore, yet first there had [ 1] need be a mighty work of Gods Spirit to raise thy heart to beleeve this.
It is not an easie thing for one who hath that fearfull sin of Apostacy set∣led upon him by God to beleeve that ever God should receive him and re∣turne in the wayes of mercy and comfort as before.
Yea second, Though there be a possibility to be recovered to mercy, yet [ 2] you must be contented to be in a meaner condition if God shall please, you must come unto God with such a disposition as to be content to be in the lowest condition that can be, onely that thou mayest have mercy at the last, as the Prodigall, Let me be (saith he) but as one of thy hired servants.
And know lastly, that if you doe not return upon his gracious offer, God may give thee up for ever, take thy fill and there is an end of thee; He that will be filthy, let him be filthy still. Yet further, this expression doth strong∣ly present occasion to digresse a little in the comparing our present times with former times, to examine whether wee can say, it was better with us heretofore then it is now? In these dayes there is much comparing our pre∣sent times with times past, and divers judgements there are about present times, some complayning and crying out of the hazards and dangers wee are in, in these present times, much better was it heretofore say they then it is now. To such as these let me say, first as the holy Ghost saith, Eccles. 7. 10. Say not thou, what is the cause the former dayes were better then these? thou dost uot enquire wisely concerning this thing. Certainly, those peo∣ple who make such grievous complaints of present times, comparing them with times past, doe not wisely enquire after this thing. It is true, there are many sad things for the present amongst us, things that our hearts have cause to bleed for, such mis-understanding betweene King and Parliament, some blood shed already, and danger of shedding much more; yet perhaps if we enquire wisely concerning this thing, we shall find, that notwithstanding all this, we have little cause to complaine that it is worse with us now, in compa∣rison of what was before, Consider, first▪ that which men do most complain of, which makes the times hardest now, it is but the breaking out of those mischievous designes that lay hid long before,* & would have done us a great deale more mischiefe if they had been kept in; Now they breake forth, and breake forth as the desperatenesse of the hopes of those who had such de∣signes; because they could now goe no longer underhand, but being brought into a desperate passe, they are faine to see what they can doe Page 256 in wayes of violence, and this certainely is better then that mischiefe should work secretly under board.
[ 2] Secondly, by this we have a discovery of men which way they stand, what was and is in their hearts, and this is a great mercy.
[ 3] Thirdly, with the breaking forth of these things, God grants that helpe now to England, that it never yet had in the like way, so fully, and putteth such a faire price into the hands of the people of England, that never yet was put into their hands.
[ 4] Yea, and consider farther, that the more violent men are now, the more doth it tell us what a lamentable time was before; for if now when there is such means of resistance, and yet the adversaries prevaile so much, what would they have been by this time, if this means of resistance had not been? What a case were we in then when they might do what they would, and we had no means to help our selves, what a danger were we in then? Certainely things then lay at more hazard then now.
[ 5] Fifthly, though there be many sad things amongst us, yet God hath been before-hand with us, we have had already even of free-cost as much mercy as these troubles come to.
[ 6] Sixtly, these troubles that we are in are making way for glorious mercies to come; though there be some pangs, yet they are not the pangs of death, they are but the pangs of a travelling woman that is bringing forth a man∣child: And certainly any Prince would think, that though his Queen should be put to some paine in travaile, yet her condition is better then when shee had nopaine, and was barren, or then that she should lye upon her sick bed, and her senses benummed, and she ready to dye: The pains of a travelling woman are better then a sensless dying.
[ 7] And yet further, if you thinke that you had better times heretofore then now, what times will you refer your selves unto in making the comparison? I suppose you will instance in the time of the first Reformation, then things were in a good way, when those worthy Lights of the Church, and blessed Martyrs had such a hand in the Reformation. Many there are that do mag∣nifie the ••nes of the beginning of Reformation,* for their owne ends, that they may thereby hinder Reformation now. This you know is the great argument that prevaileth with most; What, were not those Prayers com∣posed by learned godly men, as Cranmer, Latimer, Ridley, and others? and can we be wiser then they? did not they seale their profession with their blood?
My brethren, we need goe no further to shew the weaknesse of this argu∣ment, but only to shew how it was in the Church in those times, and you wil• find that you have cause to blesse God that it is not so with you now as it was then, and if that will appeare, then the argument you will see can no further prevail with rationall men.
Certainly those first Reformers were worthy Lights and blessed instru∣ments for God, I would not darken their excellency, but weaken the argu∣ment Page 257 that is abusively raised from their worth. It is reported of Mr. Grene∣ham that famous practicall Divine, who refusing subscription, in a Letter of his to the Bishop of Ely, gives his reasons, and answers that Prelates obje∣ction against him, namely, that Luther thought such Ceremonies might be retained in the Church; his Answer is this, I reverence more the revealed wisdome of God, in teaching Mr. Luther so many necessary things to sal∣vation, then I search his seeret judgements in keeping back from his know∣ledg other things of lesse importance: The same do I say of those worthy in∣struments of Gods glory in the first Reformation, & that it may be cleare to you that God kept back his mind from them in some things. Consider, whe∣ther you would be willing that should be done now that was then; As in the administration of baptisme, we find that in the book of Lyturgy in King Edwards time, which was composed by those worthy men; first the child was to be croft in the fore-head, and then on the breast, after a prayer used, then the Priest was to say over the child at the Font, I command thee thou un∣clean spirit, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Ghost, that thou comest out of this infant, thou cursed spirit remember thy sen∣tence, remember thy judgment, remember the day is at hand wherein thou shalt bee burnt with everlasting fire prepared for thee and thy Angels; & presume not hereafter to exercise any tyranny over this infant whom Christ hath bought with his precious blood. Then they dipped the childe thrice in the water, the Godfathers and the Godmothers laid their hands upon the child, and the Priest putteth a white vestment over it, called a Crysome, saying, Take this white vesture for a token of thine innocency, which by Gods grace in this holy Sacrament of baptisme is given to thee, & for a signe whereby thou art admonished as long as thou livest to give thy selfe to innocency. Then the Priest must anoint the Infant upon the head, saying, Almighty God, &c. who hath regenerated thee by water & the holy Ghost, who hath given thee remission of all thy sins, vouchsafe to anoint thee with the unction of his holy Spirit. Would you now have your children bap∣tized after this manner? yet these learned holy men thought that to be a good way. So at the buriall of the dead, the Priest casting earth up∣on the corps shall say, I commend thy soule to God the Father Almighty, and body to the ground: and in another prayer, Grant to this thy servant; that the sinnes he committed in this world be not imputed to him, but that he escaping the gates of hell, and pains of eternall darknesse, may ever dwell in the region of light.
You will say, things are otherwise now. True, therefore I say there is no strength in that argument, that those men that composed that liturgy were worthy lights in the Church; for they were but newly come out of Popery, and had the scent of Popery upon them, therefore it is too unreasonable to make that which they did the rule of our Reformation now, as if we were to goe no further then they did.
The like may be said of the Primitive times, which many plead for the Page 258 justification of their superstitious vanities, for the Christians then came but newly out of heathenisme, and lived amongst Heathens, and therfore could not so soon be delivered from their heathenish customes. I could relate to you sad things there were in Qu. Elizabeths dayes, in K. James his dayes, but I must not take too much liberty in this digression, onely let us hereby learn not so to cry out of evill times that we are faln into, as to be unthank∣full for present mercies; let us blesse God for what wee have had, and looke unto the rule for further reformation.
For shee did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oyle, and multiplyed her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal, &c.
The Spirit of God returneth here again to convincing, upbraiding, ac∣cusing, threatning Israel. The sin of Israel went very near to the heart of God, and God speaks here as a man troubled in spirit for the unkindenesse, unfaithfulness, unreasonableness of the dealings of his Spouse with him, it runneth in his thoughts,* his heart is grieved at it, and he must vent himselfe, and when he hath told his grief and aggravated his wrong, he is upon it again & again, still convincing, upbraiding, charging Israel for dealing so unfaith∣fully and treacherously with him, all shewing the trouble of his spirit.
For she did not know, &c. These words depend upon the 5. ver. (for the 6. & 7. they are as a parenthesis) She hath done shamefully, for she said, I will goe after my lovers that give me my bread, & my water, my wool, & my flae••e, &c. For she did not know, &c. She did thus and thus, for she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, &c. What was Israel worse then the Oxe or the Asse that knows his owner & his Masters crib? It is impossible but Israel (that was the onely people of God in those times, where God was most, nay we may say onely knowen in the world) should know that God was the cause of all the good they had, certainly they could not be ignorant of that, for in their Creed (as Buxtorfius and others make mention) they had 13. Articles, and this was the first Article, I believe with a true and perfect faith, that God is the creator, the governor, the su∣stainer of all creatures,*that he wrought all things, still works all things, & shall for ever worke all things. And at their feasts they had these expressi∣ons, Blessed be thou O Lord our God King of the world that dost create the fruit of the vine. The Mr. of the feast himself came in (he did not set a boy to it) publiquely to bless God for the fruit of the vine, and yet here the Text saith they did not know that God gave them wine. When they came to take bread they had this speech, Blessed be thou O God that art the King of the world,*that bringest forth bread out of the earth; And at the end of their feast this, Let us bless him who hath sent us of his owne, of whose goodnesse we live. The question answered, and blessed be he of whose goodnesse we live, Yea they used to blesse God solemnly for the sweete and fragrant smell of spices and herbs. This was their constant way, and yet God char∣geth them that they did not know that he gave them bread, and wine, and ••le, they did not lay it to heart.
Page 259 We shall see afterward of what great use this is unto us, to shew what pro∣fession they made of acknowledging that God gave them all, and yet God charges them that they did not know it.
That I gave them, what? Corne, wine, and oyle, & multiplyed her silver and her gold.
Here God expresseth himselfe more largely then they did before in that they received from their Idols, they talked in the 5. vers. of receiving from their Idols bread, and water, and wool, and flax, &c. but here is wine, & oyle, and silver, and gold, more then they had from their Idols. God set∣teth out his mercy to them, to upbraid them.
And they prepared them for Baal.
We must enquire here first what this Baal was. The name of him [Bag∣nal] it signifieth a Lord (and from thence signifyeth a husband) because they attributed such dominion that their Idols had over them,* acknowledg∣ing their Idols to be Lords,* therefore they called them by the name Bagnall, their Lords: And because they chose them as their husband, therefore also they had this name, it is all one with Bel too, for the Chaldee put out that letter [〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉] and the pricks being altered it is all one Baal and Bel.
Now this Baal either was some speciall Idoll, or else a generall name gi∣ven to all Idols; sometimes it is a name given generally to all, in the plurall number Baalim. Jer. 9. 14. They have walked after the imaginations of their owne heart, and after Baalim. But it likewise notes a speciall Idol, an Idol that was the same with that of the Zidonians, which they called Iupi∣ter Thalassius, or their sea Iupiter, that idol was called Baal in a speciall manner,
1 King. 16. 31. you may see how the worship of Baal came into Israel at that time. It is true, the worship of Baal had been in Israel a long time before, in Iudg. 2. 11. you shall find there that they served Baal, yet the i∣dolatry of Baal was often cast out by the people of God, but in that place of the Kings you shall find how it came in afresh, the Text saith, that Ahab tooke to wife Iexebel the daughter of Eth-baal King of the Zidonians, & went and served Baal, and worshipped him; That was the occasion that A∣hab matching with a Zidonian, to the end that he might ingratiate him∣selfe with his wives kindred, he would worship his wives God.
And this Baal hath divers additionall names. Sometimes you shall find in Scripture called Baal-zebub, or Belzebub (it is all one, for Baal and Bel is the same, only changing the points) and that signifieth their god of flies, & the reason why Baal had that name, was, because in those Countreyes they were extreamly perplexed with flies, and they attributed the power of dri∣ving them away, and of helping them against the molestation they had by them to their god Baal, hence they called him Baalzebub; you may see how much they attributed to their god for deliverance from flies, wee have other manner of deliverances by the goodnes of our God then this, yet for this Ba∣alzebub was one of their principall gods, therefore it is said of Christ, that he cast out devils by Belzebub the prince of devills, which is by the god of flies, Mat. 20. 25.
Page 260 He is called 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Belzebul, which is as much as the dung, god, Zebel in the••y •iac signifying Stercus, dung.
Then there was Baal-perazim, that addition was onely from the place, the Mountain where he was worshipped.
There was also Baal-berith,* that signified onely the covenant they entred into with that God. So that it seemes the very Idolaters did binde them∣selves to worship their god by solemne covenant or very strong arguments, to teach us to be willing to binde our selves in worshipping the true God by all the legall bonds we can,*** to make God to be the God of our Covenant, as their god here was. It is needlesse to name more who had this name.
I shall afterward shew how God himselfe had once the name of Baal, for the word signifying the name of husband or Lord was as due to God as to any other, and God himselfe tooke that name. But here we are to under∣stand it of their Idols.
They prepared them for Baal, they made them for Baal, so the word is. It importeth these two things.
First it importeth that they did sacrifice these thing to their Baal, for so fa∣cere, to make, is as much many times as Sacrificare, to sacrifice; And Bel∣la mine takes advantage from this word, when Christ saith, Hoc facite, do this, he draweth an argument that the Lords Supper is a sacrifice, for the word to doe is used somtime to sacrifice.
But secondly, they prepared them, that is, of their gold and silver they made Images of this their Idoll god Baal, they would not spare their gold and silver, but laid aside and prepared it to make images of Baal, and they thought that gold and silver thus laid out as good as any in their purses.
It is God that supplyeth all the outward good of his people.
They did not know that I gave them, &c. I gave them all the corn, and wine, and oyle they had, I did not onely give them mine Ordinances, but I gave them corn, and wine, and oyle, and gold, and silver.
It is the Lord himselfe that supplyeth all outward good to his people, he doth not onely prize the soules of his people, but hee takes care of their bo∣dies too, and outward estates. Psalm, 34. 20. He keepeth all his bones.
Yea, he takes care of the very haire of their heads. The bodies of the Saints are very precious in the eyes of God, the most precious of all corpo∣rall things in the world: The Sonne, and Moone, and Starres, are not so precious as the bodyes of the Saints, how much more precious are their soules?
VVe have an excellent note of Austin upon Psalm, 63. 1. where the Text saith, My soule thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee, &c.
Upon this he hath this Note: If the flesh hath any need of bread, of wine, of money or cattell, seeke this of God, for God giveth this too, for marke,
Page 261 Those who thirst for God must thirst for him every way; not only their soules••rst for him, but their flesh must thirst for him; for saith he, did God make the soul, and did the devills or any idols make the flesh? No, he that made both soule and flesh, he feedeth them both, therefore all Chri∣stians must say, My soule longeth after thee, and my flesh also. If then we can trust God for our soules, and our eternall estates that hee will provide for them, we must trust him for our bodies also, for our flesh, for our tem∣porall estates, that he will provide for them also.
Secondly thus. All that we have,* all our supply that we enjoy in this world, it is the free gift of God.
They did not know that I gave them corne and wine, &c. All of us live upon the meere Almes of God, the greatest man in the world is bound to goe to Gods gate and beg his bread every day; though he were an Empe∣rour over all the world,* hee must doe it to shew his dependance upon him, that he lives wholly upon almes: Men thinke it hard to live upon almes, and because they have maintenance, so much comming in by the yeare, such an estate in land, they thinke they are well provided for many yeers: But what ever estate thou hast, though by thy trading thou hast gotten so much by the yeare coming in, yet God requireth this of thee, to go to his gate, & beg thy bread of him every day; so Christ teacheth, Give us this day our dayly bread; And certainly if we did but understand this our dependance upon God for all outward comforts in the world, we could not but feare him, and seeke to make peace with him, and keepe peace with him, and it would be a meanes that our hearts would be inlarged to give to others who need our almes, and seeing every man and woman of us is an Almes-man, and an Almes-woman.
Thirdly, It is our duty that we owe to God to know and take notice of God as the author of all our good.*
They know not, that implyeth they ought to have knowne.
This is a speciall duty of that worship we owe to God: it is the end of Gods communicating all good to us, that he may have active glory from his rational creature as well as passive glory, and there is no creature else in all the world that God hath made capable of knowing any thing of the first cause but only the rational creature, therefore it is the excellency of such that they do not onely enjoy the good that they have, but they are able to rise up to the highest and first cause of all their good: There is a great deale of ex∣cellency in this. It is observed of Doves, that at every pick of corne they take in their bill they cast their eyes upward; and in the Canticles you shall finde the eyes of the Church are called Doves eyes, because they looke so much up to heaven upon every good they receive: They have not dogs eies, the men of the world have dogs eies, dogs you know looke up to their Ma∣sters for a bone, and when they have it they presently looke downe to the Page 262 ground; so the men of the world, they will pray to God when they want, but wh•n they enjoy what they would have, they look no more upward but all downward.
This taking notice of God to be the Author of all our good, and to give him praise, is all the rent we pay to God for what we enjoy, therefore it is fit we should doe that; and if we doe any thing for God, be sure God takes notice of that to the uttermost, yea though it be himselfe that enableth us to do it, yea though it be but a little good mingled with a great deale of evill, God takes notice of it, and will reward it, surely then we should take notice of the good that he giveth out to us.
This sweetneth our comforts to see that they all come from God, and for that observe the difference betweene the expression of Jacobs blessing, and Esaus blessing;* when Isaac came to blesse Jacob, hee expresseth himselfe thus, Gen. 27. 28. God give thee of the dew of heaven, and of the fatnesse of the earth, and plenty of corne and wine, &c. Now when he commeth to blesse Esau, marke his expression then verse 39. Thy dwelling shall be the fatnesse of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above, but hee never mentioneth God in that; It is not Esaus blessing. God give thee of the dew of heaven, and of the fatnesse of the earth, though it is true Isaac meant so, but yet he doth not mention the name of God so in Esaus as in Iacobs bles∣sing, Certainly my brethren, the seed of Jacob count their blessing to be a double, a treble blessing, that they can see God in it: carnall hearts do not much regard God, if they can have what they would have, if they can have their flesh satisfied in what they desire, from what hand it cometh that they doe not much care; but a gracious heart, a child of Jacob, rejoyceth more in the hand from whence it commeth, then in any good he can possibly en∣joy. Fourthly, They did not know.
God doth a great deale of good in the world that is little taken notice of,* or laid to heart.
Many of Gods dispensations are invisible, the Angels, Ezek. 1. are descri∣bed with their hands under their wings. God doth great things somtime so invisibly, as he cannot be seene; And when he doth great things that we might see, yet through onr neglect, stupidity, and drossinesse of our hearts, we doe not see them.
The most observing eye that is in the world, that takes the exactest notice of Gods mercy, and hath the greatest skill to set forth the riches of Gods goodnesse to himselfe and others, yet alas it is but very little that he takes notice of, no not of that he might doe. It is with the quickest sighted Chri∣stians as with a skilful Mathematician, a skilfull Mathematician takes no∣tice of and understands many parts of the world, and is able to set out the se∣veral parts distinctly to you in such a Climate, in such a Countrey, but yet when he hath done all, he leaveth a great space for a Terra incognita, for an unknown world, and that unknowne world for ought we know may be five times bigger then the known world; So they that have the most observant Page 263 eye of Gods mercies, and take the most notice of them, that can best set out the mercies he bestoweth,* spiritual mercies, temporall mercies, preven∣ting mercies, past mercies, present mercies, delivering mercies, &c. yet when they have done all, they must leave a great space for the Terra incognita, for the unknowne mercies of God.
The truth is, those mercies of God that are obvious to our knowledge e∣very day, one would thinke they were enough to melt our hearts, to breake them in pieces: but besides these mercies we take notice of, there are thou∣sands and thousands of mercies that we know not of. As we daily commit many sins that we know not of,* so daily we receive many mercies that we know not of likewise; And as in our confession of sins, we should pray to God first to pardon our sins we know, and so to name them in particular; and when we have done, then, Lord forgive us our unknown, our secret sins; So in our thanksgiving, first blesse God for the mercies before us, and when we have done. Lord blessed be thy name for all thy unknown mercies that I have little taken notice of.
We soone grow cold and dead if we doe good; and men take no notice of us, neither what we know, nor what we doe is any thing to us except o∣thers know it too, but this is the vanity and pride of mens hearts, it is Gods prerogative above his creatures, to doe all for himselfe, for his owne glory, and yet he doth much good in the world that none knows of; we are bound to deny our selves in that we doe, not to seeke our own glory; The most excellent peece in the most excellent of our workes is our selfe-denyal in it; why should we not then doe all the good we can doe cheerefully, though it be not known? we should doe good out of love to goodnesse it selfe, and if we would doe so we should be encouraged in doing good secretly.
Fifthly, and which commeth yet more fully up to the words, They did not know, &c.
In Gods account men know no more then they lay to heart and make good use of.*
The Schooles distinguish of want of knowledge, there is Nescientia, and Ignoratia; Nescience is of such things as we are not bound to know,* it is not our sinne not to know them; but Ignorance is of such things as we are bound to know, and that ignorance is two-fold; there is an invincible ig∣norance, let us take what paines we can, wee can never know all we are bound to know; and there is an affected ignorance, when we do not know, because out of carelesnesse we doe not minde what is before us, and when we have minded it so farre as to conceive it, yet if we lay it not to heart as we ought, still in Gods account we know it not, if we digest not what we know into practise, God accepteth it not. As God is said not to know when hee doth not approve, I know yee not, saith he, so when any man hath a truth in notion and it doth not get into the heart, when it is not imbraced there, God accounts that that man knowes it not; There∣fore you have in Scripture such an expression as the Seer is blinde; It is Page 264 a strange expression, it seemes to be a contradiction, such a thing as we call a Bull:*The Seer is blinde: But it is not so here, because God accounts those that have never so much knowledge, yet if it doe not sanctifie the heart so as to give him the glory, they are blinde, blinde as a Beetle; The know∣ledge of the Saints is another kinde of knowledge then other men have.
We have, saith Cyprian no such notions as many of your Phylosophers have, but we are Phylosophers in our deeds, we doe not speake great things, but we doe great things in our lives.
1 Thes. 4. 9. You have an excellent expression for this, you are taught of God to love one another, what followeth? And indeed so you do, That is an evidence that you are taught of God when it p•evay leth with your hearts, when it may be •aid, indeed so you doe: VVho is there in the world but knowes that wee should love one another? but men are not taught of God to love one another untill it may be said of them that indeed so they doe.
There is nothing more obvious to the understanding of a man then the no∣tion of a Deity, that there is a God, we may as it were grope after him as the holy Ghost speakes; but yet 1 Iohn 2. 4. He that saith he knowes him, and keepes not his commandements, is a lyar, and the truth is not in him; Any man who ever he be, though the greatest Schollar in the world, if he saith he knowes God and keepes not his commandements, he hath the lie told him to his teeth, hee doth not know God at all, though this of God be the most obvious thing to be understood that possibly can be, and yet Christ saith no man knoweth the Father but the Sonne, and to whom the Sonne shall reveale him.
Hence it is when a soul is converted,* you shall heare these expressions, I never knew before, I never knew what an infinite Deity meant, I never understood the infinite soveraignty and Majesty of the great God, I never knew what sinne meant before; yet if you had asked him afore, he would say, I know God is a Spirit, that he is infinite and eternall; I know that sinne is the transgression of the law; I never knew that Christ was before, yet before hee would have told you that Christ was the sonne of Mary,* and came into the world to dye for sinners. I remember an expression of a Germane Divine, when he was upon his sick bed, In this disease saith he, I have learned what sin is, and how great the Majesty of God is; This man though a Preacher, and doubtlesse he could preach of sinne and of the Majesty of God, yet hee professeth he knew not these things untill God came powerfully upon his heart to teach him what they were.
The Hebrews say, words of sense carry with them the affections, or else they be to no purpose: when men have notionall knowledge onely that comes not down into the heart, they are like men that have weak stomacks and weake heads, when they drink wine all flyeth up to the head & it makes them giddy, but if the wine went to the heart, it would cheare & warme it: so all this mans knowledg flyeth up to his head & makes him giddy, where∣as if it were digested & got to the heart, it would warme and refresh, yea 〈…〉
Page 265 The Text saith of Elies sonnes, 1 Sam. 2. 12. that they knew not the Lord; they were Priests of God, yet they were sonnes of Belial, and know not the Lord. Be not offended at great Schollars who have skill in the tongues, Arts and Sciences, do not you say these men that are great and knowing men, would they do thus and thus, if things were so as you speake; they are not knowing men, God saith that Elies sonnes did not know, the Lord, the things of God are hid from them. I thanke thee O Father Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid thess things from the wise and pru∣dent, &c.
Sixthly, They did not know that I gave them, &c.
Affected ignorance comming thorough distemper of heart is no excuse,* but rather an aggravation.
It is a high degree of ingratitude not to prize Gods mercy, but not to take notice of Gods mercies,* Oh what a high ingratitude is this! That which shall be part of Gods charge against sinners can be no excuse of their sinne, it is a part of Gods charge that they did not know, therefore their ig∣norance cannot be their excuse. God threatneth to cut people off, to have no mercy upon them for want of knowing as well as for not doing, They are a people of no understanding, therefore he that made them will have no mercy upon them, and he that formed them will shew them no favour, Esay 27. 11.**Ambrose hath this expression, Thou doest sinne greatly if thou doest contemne the riches of Gods long suffering, but thou sinnest most of all if thou doest not know it.
From the word [for] as depending upon the 5. ver. (for so it doth,) The Observation is,
The not taking notice and considering of Gods mercies, and laying them to heart, is the cause of vile, and shamefull evils in mens lives.
Therefore they did shamefully, therefore they went after their lovers, be∣cause they did not know, the cause of almost all the evill in the world it is from hence, They that know thy name will trust in thee, those who know the Lord will feare him and his goodnesse.
Esay 1. 4. Ah sinfull nation, saith God: God fetcheth a sigh under the burthen of it, his spirit is laden and troubled with it, Ah sinfull people, &c,
What was the matter? The Oxe knoweth his owner, and the Asse his ma∣sters crib, but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider, they were more stupid then the brute creatures. Oh sinfull soul, this is the cause of all thy inordinate walking, of all thy profanenesse, of all the ungodliness in thy wayes, because thou dost not know, thou dost not consider, thou dost not lay to heart the wayes of God towards thee.
Ier. 2. 5. God chargeth his people that they were gone from him, and ver. 7. that they had made his heritage an abomination. What is the reason that is given of both these? It is in the 6. ver. They did not say, Where is the Lord that brought us up out of the land of Egypt? &c. They did not take notice of what the Lord had done for them, therefore they were gone far from him, &c.
Page 266 If thou hadst but a heart to lay to heart what God hath done for thee, it is impossible that thou shouldst goe so farre off from God as thou dost. For these deductions are easie and obvious to any from such a principle.
1. Justice, common equity requires living to God, seeing we live by and upon God.
2. Common ingenuity calls for requiring good with good; the Publicans and Heathens will do good to those that do good to them.
3. If all be from God, then all still depends upon God.
4. How much good is there in God from whence all this good and mer∣cy comes, when God shall shew another day to men and Angels how hee was the fountaine of all good! it will confound those who have not laid it to heart.
8. She did not know that I gave her corne, and wine, and oyle, and mul∣tiplyed her silver and her gold.
God is more bountifull to his people then the Idols can be.*
The Idols by their owne confession gave them but their bread, & water, and flax, and oyle, &c. but God giveth them wine, & silver, & gold. God gives them better pay a great deale then the Devill doth; yet the Devill usu∣ally hath more servants to follow him then God hath, though his wages bee lesse and worse. It is usuall for men to get souldiers from adversaries, by giv•ng them more pay: This is the way God takes, he offereth a great deale better pay to those that will follow him, then they have that follow the De∣vill, yet God can get few to follow him. This shews the vilenesse of mans heart against God.
9. She did not know that I gave her, &c. which she prepared for Baal.
When men get abundance, then they soon grow wanton. When I gave them corn,* and wine, and oyle, and multiplyed their silver and their gold, then they followed Baal. This is the reason of so many solemne charges of God, Take heed when thou art full, that thou dost not forget the Lord. As they that are neerest the sun are the blackest,* so those to whom God is nee∣rest in regard of outward mercies, are many times blacker then others. It is observed, that the fatter mens bodies are, the lesse blood and the fewer spirits they have; so the fatter mens estates are, many times the lesse spirit they have to any thing that is good; God hath lesse spirit from them, sinne hath much more.
We read of the sunne melting the Manna that fell downe, but the same Manna was able to bear the fire; so many a mans heart is able to beare af∣fliction, and the affliction doth good, prepareth for much good, as Manna was prepared to be eaten by fire, but prosperity melteth them, makes them useless. Many men when they were poor and in a low condition, were ve∣ry usefull; but when they grow high and rich, they are of very little use in the places where they dwell.
Trajan the Emperour was wont to liken a man growing to a great estate, to the Spleene in the body; for as the S•leene grows big, the body growes Page 267 lesse: so when mens estates grow bigger, they grow lesse usefull. Euagrius noteth it as a speciall commendation of Mauritius the Emperor, but not∣withstanding his prosperity he retained his ancyent piety: it is a very rare thing to see men advanced to high places, do so.
10. I gave her corne, and wine, and oyle, and I multiplyed her silver and gold which they sacrificed to Baal.
Even those creatures that wicked men abuse to their lusts, God gives them.
Though he doth not give them for that end, yet those creatures that they use for such an end are given of God.* If thou beest a drunkard, that wine or drinke that thou dost sacrifice to that lust of thine, who giveth it thee? Is it not God? thou hast a good estate more then other men, and all the use thou makest of thy estate is meerly that it might be but as fewell for thy lusts, who gave thee this thy estate? Is it not God? God giveth thee cloathes and thou sacrificest them to thy pride, thou hast more money then others, and so canst vent thy malice more then others, from whence hast thou this? Thou hast more strength of body then others and thou ventest it in unclean∣nesse, where hadst thou this? consider this, and let this meditation prevayle with thine heart to stop thee in thy sinful way, let it be seconded with the next; viz:* That is a most horrible wickedness and abominable ingratitude, for any man to take Gods creatures and abuse them against God.
What,*I gave them corne, and wine, and multiplyed their silver, and their gold, and have they prepared these for Baal? God speakes of this as of a monstrous sin, as if God should say, let all my people lament my con∣dition, that I should do so much for them, and they doe nothing for me but all against me, sacrifice all to Baal: As perhaps many of you have beene kinde to some of your friends, and have raised them, and made them, as we use to say; they have wanted nothing, but you have been bountifull to them, if now these men should turne your enemies, and that estate they have got by you, they should use it to doe you a mischiefe, would you not call in your neighbours and friends, to joyne with you in lamenting your condition? What, did you ever heare of such an example, that I should doe so much for such, and they turne all against me? you tell it as a most lamentable story to your friends; God doth so here; he makes this his grievous complaint.
This is as if a bird should be shot with an Arrow, whose feathers came out of her own body; we would even pity a bird in that case. Many men make no other use of their estates but to turne them against God; they are not as the slothfull servant that hid his talent in the napkin, if it were but so it were not so much, but they take their talents & imploy them against God. Would it not goe to your heart if one should sue you in law, and beare the charges of the suit out of your owne estate? VVe use to complaine such a man sueth me, and it is my owne money hee goeth to law with; So thou goest against God, and hee is fayne as it were to beare all the charges:
It is not against the light of Nature? the very heathens: Page 268 the publicanes and sinners will doe good to those that do good to them: Thou art worse then a publicane and sinner, wilt thou do hurt to God that doth thee good? When Julius Caesar saw Brutus come to give him a stab in the Senate house, he cryed out, What thou my sonne, wilt thou do it? But suppose that Iulius Caesar had given him the dagger with which he stabbed him,* then O thou my sonne, what stab me with that dagger I gave thee? If when Jonathan gave David his sword and bow, David should have turn∣ed against Jonathan and killed him with his own sword and bow, would not the unkindnesse or rather the abominable wickedness have pierced dee∣per into his heart, then any swords or arrows possibly could? If you can finde any creature that is not GODS to fight against him withall, you may doe it, but if all you have is from him, it is horrible wickednesse to take that and to sacrifice it to Baal. Certainly God giveth it for other ends, to goe crosse to Gods ends is an evill thing: VVhen God aymeth at such a thing, for us not to joyne with God in the same end he aymeth at is an evil, but for us to ayme at a quite contrary end, that is horrible wickednesse in∣deed.
They sacrificed to Baal.
When once superstition and Idolatry hath got into a place, though there be much done against it, yet it is not easie to get it out.
It is from hence that God doth so often complaine of Baal,* yet you shall finde in Iudg, 2. (I thinke that is the first place it is mentioned that they ser∣ved Baal) but it appeareth that they fell off from Baal, yet they fell to him againe, for in Iudg. 8. 33. After Gideons death it came to passe that the children of Israel turned againe and went a whoring after Baalim, and made Baal-berith their god; It speakes as if it were a new thing now that they should fall to worship Baal after they had left worshipping him; After his death. And 1 Sam. 7. 4. The children of Israel did put away Baalim; and yet if you reade Chap▪ 10. 22. they fall a confessing that they had sinned, because they had forsaken the Lord and served Baalim; though they had put him away before, yet he had got up again; So in that place be∣fore named, 1 King. 16. there Ahah would serve Baal, it is brought in there as a new thing, as a novelty, because Baal had beene so much suppres∣sed, 2 King. 10. you find that Iehu sought to destroy Baal & all his Priests, but yet Baal was not got out for all this, but he got in againe, for in 2 Kin. 23. 4. the Text saith, that Josia who was long after that time, caused the vessels that were made for Baal to be taken away and burnt.
This is a marvailous use, and seasonable for our times. If superstition be opposed, though it be cast out as we thinke in a great degree, yet if there be not a thorough Reformation, it will winde in one way or other againe.
If we thinke it enough to cut things short, and to take away their strength, and their enormities, we deceive our selves; if there be nothing done but so, they will grow up againe; it is but cutting the weeds a little; if branch and root be not taken away, they will up again; Baal will put up his head one way or other.
Page 269 I remember Cluverus a late Historian, yet much approved of, bringeth in one that gave this councell concerning Rome, because it was much annoy∣ed with Wolves; saith he, there is no way to save Rome from Wolves, but to cut down the woods wherein these Wolves breed and live, for otherwise they might kill and kill, but they would breed agaiue. So sometimes when childrens heads are overrunne with vermine, the way to destroy the vermine is to shave the haire quite of off: So certainly, this is the way to destroy su∣perstition from amongst us, to take away the places and revenews of those men that have beene maintainers and upholders of superstitious wayes of worship; Let us by cutting down the woods, and shaving off the hayre de∣stroy these Wolves, and if they will needs be Priests, let them be Shave∣lings.
Which they sacrificed to Baal.
Lastly, Idolaters are very liberall to their Idols,* they are willing to sacrifice gold' silver, corne, wine and oyle, and all to Baal, but of that before.