The Third Lecture.
HOSEA 3. 5.
—And David their King,* and shall feare the Lord and his goodnesse in the latter dayes.
THat the Jews shall returne and believe in Christ, is most or∣dinary and famous both in the words and hearts of those that are faithfull, saies Augustine.
In this their returne and seeking God, they shall seek Da∣vid their King.
For the opening this, there are these five things to be in∣quired into.
- 1. Who this David was.
- 2. Why David is rather named then any other.
- 3. Why he is mentioned in this place.
- 4. Why joyned with seeking Jehovah,
- 5. Why this Epithet is added to David here. David their King.
For the first, David clearly is meant JESUS CHRIST, Nothing is more manifest then that Christ is meant by the name of David, sayes Augustine. The Scripture is cleare in this, it is usuall in the Gospel to call Christ by the name of David. Compare Esay 55. 3. with Acts 13. 34. Esay 55. I will give you the sure mercies of David; what are those? Act. 13. that place in Isaiah is quoted, and there the word is Sancta Davidis, the holy things of David; the holy Ghost there going according to the Translation of the Septuagint, as it is usuall in the New Testament. And that Psalm 16. 9. 10. where David seemes to speake in his owne person, Page 524Thou wilt not leave my soul in grave,*nor suffer thy holy One to see corrup∣tion: this is interpreted of Christ, Act. 13. 36. 37. Act. 15. 16. In the Assem∣bly the Church of Jerusalem, together with messengers of the Church of Antioch, James makes a speech to the Assembly, & tels them of a prophesie that God would raise the tabernacle of David, that is, convert the Gentiles to the profession of Christ. But you will say how is this quoted right, for that was James his intention in the Assembly (and it concerns those who are of such a grave Assembly as that was, to speake what they speake to purpose) But how doth James here speake to the purpose? for the point he was to speake to, was that the Gentiles were to be called, and he proveth it by that Scripture where it is said that God would raise the Tabernacle of David, how doth that prove that God would call the Gentiles? You may see if you looke into the prophesie whence this was quoted, that this text was right to the purpose▪ The Prophesie is Amos 9. 11. 12. there it goeth thus, after he had said that he would raise the tabernacle of David, it followeth, that they may possesse the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen which are called by my Name: So that the Tabernacle of David indeed is the Tabernacle of Christ, and it shall be raised to this end that he may possesse the remnant of Edom, and all the Gentiles that were to be called by the name of God. Da∣vid is Christ because he was his type, and Christ was the seed of David.
[ 2] The second Question, but why is David rather named then any other, rather then Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob? others were types of Christ as well as he and Christ was, their seed as well as Davids,
The reason is, because David typified Christ especially in his Kingly power over his own people,*David was the first godly King that ever was over Gods own people; Melchisedech was a King, King of Salem, but over the people of God David was the first type of Christ.
[ 3] Thirdly, Why doth the holy Ghost adde this to seeking the Lord, that they shall seeke David? Why was it not as full if the holy Ghost had said, When Israel, these ten Tribes (for he speakes of them especially) when they shall return they shall seeke the Lord, and the Messiah, but that they shall seek the Lord and David? The reason is, the expression is brought to this end, to put these Tribes in minde of that great sinne of theirs, in their defecti∣on from the house of David, there was an intimation in this expression of that defection they had from David, when they shall repent this will lye neere their hearts, they will mourne for this their sinne, when they choose Christ to be their King, they shall do it under the name of David; As if they should say, we indeed have cast off the house of David sinfully, but we now come and choose the Son of David to be our King. Thereby putting us in minde of this note of instruction.
True penitents in mourning for their sinne and returning to God,* will go to the roote of their sin as much as they can, to their first defection & mourn for that, and labour what lies in them to reforme in that very thing wherein the root and beginning of their sin lay.
Page 525 The fourth is, why seeking the Messiah (under what name soever) is here joyned to seeking the Lord, the very marrow of all the Gospel is in these [ 4] words, they shall seeke Jehovah, and David their King. It is added for this end, to shew us, that none can seek God rightly but through Christ, they must seek God in Christ; This is eternal life to know thee and thy Son, to know God alone is not eternall life, but to know God and his Son; so to seek God alone is not eternal life, not will it ever bring to eternal life, except there be a seeking of God in Christ, seeking Jehovah and David, putting them together. Grace from God the Father, and from Jesus Christ, those must goe together, no grace from God the Father, but from him through Christ;* so no seeking of God the Father, Jehovah, but it must be with see∣king of David likewise: it is not only dangerous, but it is a horrible thing to think of God without Christ; the very thought of God not through Christ is a most dreadfull thing to the heart of any who knows God. Indeed there are a company who have bold presumptuous hearts, who will go into Gods presence though reeking in the very guilt of their sin lately committed, and seeke to God for mercy, and never think of Christ the Mediator; they un∣derstand not the necessity of seeking God in Christ, because indeed they know not with what a God it is they have to deale; but that soul that knows what God is,* dares not think of God, much lesse come into his presence & seek him but only through Christ. It was wont to be the way (as Plutarch in the life of Themystocles reports) of some of the Heathens, the Molossians, when they would seek the favour of the Prince, they tooke up the Kings Son in their armes, and so went and kneeled before his Altar in his Chappell; so Themystocles did when he sought the favour of King Admetus. It should be the way of Christians in seeking the face of God the great King, to take up his Sonne in the armes of Faith. A notable speech Luther hath in Psal. 130. Often and willingly, saith he, doe I inculcate this, that you should shut your eies & your eares, and say you know no God out of Christ, none but he that was in the lap of Mary, and sucked her breasts; he means none out of him. We must not, we should not dare to looke upon •od but through Christ, and seeke him together with David.
This is the Evangel•call way of seeking God; when we have sinned, if there be any way of help, it must be by seeking this mercifull God; thus farre nature goes, and most people goe no further, yea most Christians, though they have the name of Christ in their mouths, yet the worke of their hearts is no further then natural principles carry them on. But the seeking God in Christ, is the true supernaturall way, the Evangelicall way, that is the mystery of godlinesse, to tender up a Mediator to God every time wee come into his presence. I feare that many of our prayers are lost for want of this. There is much Fasting and Prayer thorough Gods mercy amongst us, and I would to God there were no abating that way; but though wee thinke, will God leave his people when there is such a spirit of Prayer? If it be not a seeking of God in his Son, know it Page 526 is our own spirits rather then the Spirit of God. VVee may be earnest in prayer, and cry mightily to God, yet if we take not up his Son in the armes of faith, and tender him to the Father, thousands of prayers and fasting days may be all lost for want of this. The truth is, wee must not depend so much upon our prayers, though we are to rejoyce and to blesse God that there is so much prayer; but Gods wayes towards us seeme as if hee would take us off from means, and make us look up to free grace, not take us off from the pra∣ctise of any, but from relying upon any, onely to rely upon free grace in Christ. As this is the supernaturall seeking God, so it is the most powerfull way of seeking him. It is not enough to seeke God by vertue of a promise, except vve seek him by vertue of Christ, who is the foundation of all the pro∣mises. VVe seek him because he is mercifull, that is one way; yea we seek him because he hath promised mercy, this is a higher degree; but we must go higher yet, we must look to his Son, in whom all the promises are Yea & A∣men; otherwise, though we seek him never so earnestly, though we chalenge his promises, and cry to him to remember his promises, yet if we do not act our faith upon his Son, wee may misse in all,
And herein we sanctifie that great name of God in that which is the great work of his, his master-piece as we may say, or the great designe hee hath to honour himself in the world here, and everlastingly hereafter. Certainely, though God hath made the creature for his own glory, & expects we should honour him in beholding him in the creature, yet the great design God hath to honour himselfe in and by, is in that glory of his that is manifested in his Son, to have the children of men behold this his glory, and reflect it upon his own face; except you give God his glory in this, he cares not much for what soever glory you can give him otherwise.
You must not therfore expect when you seek God, that you must have good things from him meerly because he is mercifull, you must not thinke that the mercy of God serveth to eike out our righteousnesse. Perhaps some will say, it is true, we are poor sinfull creatures, and what can wee expect from God being fin full? but we hope that God will pardon our sin, and so will accept of the poor services that we perform; This is the way that most goe, they do as it were imploy Gods mercy in such a worke that God never intended it for, that is, they would make the mercy of God to eike out their owne righ∣teousnesse, and so both put together, they think they will serve to be a means of atonement: No, you mistake Gods mercy; the worke of Gods mercy is not this, but it is to shew us our unrighteousnesse, our misery, our un∣clearnesse, to shew us Jesus Christ, to draw our hearts to him, to emptie us of our selves, that wee may wholly rely upon that righteousnesse that is by faith in him, and tender up that to the Father for sanctification and at∣tonement, that is the work of Gods mercy; when it hath this work, then it hath the true genuine work indeed.
The fifth is, why here added King. True, wee must seeke the Lord and Christ, but why Christ the King? The reason is, because Christ in the latter Page 527 dayes shall be fully honoured in his Kingly power: they shall looke upon him not only as Prophet and Priest, but as King. Hitherto Christ hath bin much honoured in his Propheticall and Priestly office, but not so much in his Kingly; but in the latter dayes when God shall call home his people (the Jewes) then Christ shall be fully honoured in his Kingly office. The Ta∣bernacle of Christ was raised in the Primitive times, according to that speech of St. James we had before, Acts 15. 16. God shall raise the tabernacle of David, hee puts it as fulfilled then; but there is a time when God shall not only raife the tabernacle of David, but the throne of David; Christ the King shall appeare in glory. Ezek. 37, 24, 25. And David my servant shall be King over them. It was spoken upon the union that there should be between Judah and Israel, then David my servant shall be King over them. David was dead a great while before, there is a time that David must a∣gain be King, that is, Christ, upon the union of all the Tribes together; And againe, David shall be Prince for ever, when they are brought againe into their owne land, David shall be Prince over them for ever, saith the Text: surely this prophesie is yet to be fulfilled. And Luke 1. 32. The Lord shall give him the throne of his father David, and he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdome there shall be no end.
I know we usually think that this is meant only of his spirituall reign, but there is a mistake in it, certainly there is to be a fulfilling of this prophesie in a reign that shall outwardly appeare before the children of men, which will appea more in comparing this with other Scriptures. Revel. 11. 15. The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of the Lord & his Christ, and so he shall reign for ever and ever. VVhy in a spirituall sense the king∣doms of this world are always the kingdomes of the Lord and of Christ, but there is spoken of some famous notable time when the kingdomes of this world shall appeare to be the Lord, and his Christs, and then he shall reigne for ever and ever, after another manner then now he doth. Revel. 3. 21. To him that overcometh will I give to sit with me in my throne, as I also over∣came, and am set down with my Father in his throne. Mark this Text, as one of the most notable of any wee have.
That kingly rule that Christ hath for the present is upon his Fathers throne; he is not yet upon his own in comparison of what he shall be, the kingdome that Christ hath now is the joynt reigne of him with the Father, but there is a time for Christ to have a Throne himselfe.
Now that Throne of Christ it may be you will thinke it is in heaven at the day of judgement; but we finde 1 Cor. 15. 24. that at that day he comes to refigne the kingdome, the words do not seeme to import as if hee came to take it, but that then hee doth give up the kingdome unto God the Father, therefore there is a time for Christ himself to have a Throne, with whom the Saints shall reign. Matth. 21. 9. The children cryed out Hosanna to the sonne of David, because they looked upon the sonne of David as one who was to reign.
Page 528 In these latter dayes CHRIST shall breake the Kings of the earth who stand against him, as indeed many, yea most of the Kings of the earth have ever stood out to hinder this kingdome of his. There will be a mighty shaking of the kingdoms of the earth when this shall be, Heb. 12. 26. Whose voyce then shook the earth, but now he hath promised, saying, yet once more I shake not the earth onely but also the heaven; quoted out of Hag. 2. 6. 7. God in giving the law shooke the earth, but he will shake the earth and the heaven•, which some Interpreters expounds thus, not only the meaner pow∣er of people, but the powers of Kings and Emperours the highest powers in the world, whatsoever is lofty in the world shall be shaken when Christ comes to take the kingdom to himself, the Father will set him King upon his holy hill;
Though the Kings of the earth set themselves, and the Rulers take coun∣sell together against the Lord & against his Anoynted, saying, Let us break their bonds asunder, and cast away their cords from us; he that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh, the Lord shall have them in derision, then shall he speake to them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure, Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion, yet have I done it, though the kings of the earth and great ones of the world fret, vex, and rage, and gather pow∣er together, though they blaspheme and say he shall not raigne, the Lord sit∣teth in heaven and laugheth at them, let them do what they can, and gather what strength they can, & oppose to the uttermost they can, Yet will I set my King upon my holy hill.
This is acceptable news, it is the joyfull voyce of the Gospel to tell you of Christs comming to raigne in the world, Esay, 52. 7. How beautifull upon the mountaines are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings? What are those good tidings? this tidings, that saith unto Zion, Thy Godraigneth, This is the triumph of the Church, Esay 33. 22. The Lord is our judge, the Lord is our law-giver, the Lord is our King, for then shall the Churches be deli∣vered from the oppression of all Tyrants in the world.* And this Kingdom of Christs shall indeed be like Davids kingdome, Christ shal be David the King. I might shew you the parallels in many things, but I will only parallel the kingdome of Christ and of David in these two particulars.
First, David of all the Princes that ever were was one of the most gen∣tle, he was exceeding loving and sweet unto his subjects; that you shal finde 1 Chron. 28. 2. Then David the King stood up upon his feet, & said, he are me my brethren, and my people. Marke how a King speaks speaking to his people, he stood upon his feet, and said, heare me my brethren, and my peo∣ple. Thus the kingdome of Christ is set out to us, Psal. 45. 4. In thy Ma∣jesty ride prosperously because of truth and meeknesse. Christ shall be a most meeke King, hee shall not be a bloody King to his people, he shall not be a King •••ing in viòlence and harshness, so as not to care for the love of his peo∣ple, his singer shall not be heavier then the loynes of others, but he shall rule his people with all gentleness. Therefore the government of Christ is set out 〈◊〉 a she•he 〈…〉 leading those that are with young; & 〈◊〉•his, David Page 529 David and CHRIST are parallel, Psal. 78. 70. 71. He chose David his servant, & tooke him from the sheep-folds, from following the ewes great with young, he brought him to feed Jacob his people, and Israel his inheri∣tance. So the Kingdome of Christ, Esay 40. having spoken ver. 9. of the glad tidings of the Kingdome, it followeth, He shall feed his flocke like a shepheard, he shall gather the lambs with his arme, and carry them in his bosome, and shall gently leade those that are with young. When Christ shal raigne he shal have great respect to the good and comfort of his people over whom heraigneth, he shall not raigne over them without regard to their li∣berties, and what may be for the comfort of their lives, the good of his peo∣ple, and his own glory shall be put both in one.
Secondly, David their King, in regard of faithfulnesse. David was exceeding faithfull to his people, and therefore the mercies of God in Christ are called the sure mercies of David, because David was found faithfull before the Lord. Psal. 45. 4. is the Prophesie of Christs Kingdom, the Text saith, In thy majesty ride prosperously, because of truth, and meekness, and righteousnesse; there shall be righteousness in the Kingdome of Christ.
This is a blessed thing when we may confide and fully venture our estates, liberties and our lives upon the promises of those who are above us. VVe know how many there are about great personages to take them off from those things that they have promised, though never so seriously, and with never such solemne protestations to performe them. I will give you a story or two remarkable for this, to shew what danger people have been in when they have confided upon the promises of Princes, when there have beene those about them that endeavoured to take of their hearts from performing what they had ingaged themselves to.
You shall finde in the life of Edward the sixth this story; The King sends his Letters to London in the behalfe of the Duke of Somerset the then Pro∣tector; there were divers of the Lords rose up against him, thinking he did oppresse the people, and they sent the same time their Letters to London for their aide and assistance; hereupon there was a Common Counsell called in the City, and amongst them there was one that the story saith was a wise and an honest man, one George Stadlowe, and he speakes thus to the Coun∣sell, I remember, saith he, a story written in Fabians Chronicle, of the wars between Henry the third and his Barons, at which time the Baronsdeman∣ded aide of the City of London, as our Lords do now, and that in a rightfull cause, for the good of the Common-wealth, for the execution of divers good lawes against the King, who would not suffer those lawes to be put in execution, and the City did aide them, and it came unto an open bartell, and the Lords prevailed against the King and tooke the King and his sonne prisoners, and upon certaine conditions the Lords restored the King & his son again to their liberties, amongst other conditions this was one, that the King should not only grant his pardon to the Lords, but also to the Citizens of London, which was granted, and the condition of their accommodation Page 530 of peace were ratif•ed by act of Parliament; but saith the story, what fol∣lowed of it? was it forgotten? no surely, nor forgiven neither, during the Kingslife, the libeties of the Cities were taken away, strangers were appoin∣ted to be our head & governours, the Citizens, their bodies and goods were given away, and so from one persecution to another they were most miser∣ably afflicted. Again, in the history of Queen Maries time we find, that Qeene Mary, because there was some dispute about her comming to the Crowne, at that time she went down into Suffolke, to the place where the Duke that then rose up for another was most hated, and she being at Fram∣ingham Castle the Suffolke men came to her, and promised their •ide, up∣on condition that she would not attemp the alteration of Religion, which her brother King Edward before had established; she promised them there should be no innovation of Religion, no God forbid, yea she so promised that the story saith, no man would or could misdoubt of the performance: But afterward when she came to get the power in her hand, the Suffolk men came to make supplication to her, that she would be pleased to performe the promise she made them, she answered them thus, Forasmuch as you being but members desire to rule your head, you shall one day well perceive that members must obey their head, and not looke to beare rule over the same; And not only so, but to cause the more terrour, a Gentleman one Master Dobs that lived about Windsor, who did but in an humble request advertise her of her promise made to the Suffolke men, he was three times set on the Pillory, and others for the same cause were sent to prison. We may see what hold hath been heretofore in the promises of those who had power to breake them, you know what temptations they have to withdraw their hearts from what they have ingaged themselves unto. But when this our Prince comes, David our King we shall finde the sure mercies of David, we shall finde nothing but faithfulnesse in all his dealings.
And they shall feare the Lord and his goodnesse in the latter dayes.
They shall feare the Lord.* The words are, they shall feare to the Lord, pavebunt ad dominum.* The feare of God is much upon the heart of a sin∣ner in his returne to God. Such a sinner hath high and honourable thoughts of God, They shall returne and feare the Lord. The slightnesse, the vanity of his spirit, the boldnesse of his heart, it is taken off, and the feare of God ruleth in it. The Majesty, the power, the authority of the great God is strong upon him, when he comes to worship him, the feare of God makes him to worship God as a God, and in all his conversation he walkes in the feare of God, even all the day long, you may see written upon his life the feare of the great God, And this not a servile slavish feare, but a holy, reverenticall, fil∣••• feare, Jsaac had such a feare of God that God hath his dominion from Isaac• feare, He is called the feare of Isaac. This is a most precious feare, others feare poverty, feare imprisonment, feare disgrace, feare men, but saith a true repenting heart, I feare the Lord; this feare is the well-spring of life to him, it is the very treasure of his soul, Esay 33. 6.
Page 531 I shall speake of the feare of God here onely as it concerns this place, the intent of bringing it in here, that is to shew that in the time when this glori∣ous Church shall be, when God shall call home his own people the Jewes, and bring in the fulnesse of the Gentiles, then shall the feare of God mighti∣ly prevayle upon the hearts of people more then ever, and the greater Gods goodnesse shall be, the more shall the feare of God be upon their hearts, this we shall finde almost in all the Prophesies of the glorious condition of the Church (which is very remarkable) there is ever speaking of the feare of God that should be upon the hearts of people. One would rather thinke there should be speaking of the joy that they should have, that there should be nothing but mirth and triumph in those times; but the Scripture speakes exceeding much of feare that shall be then, and more then, then at any other time. Thus Revel. 11. 18. a most famous Prophesie of Christs comming, and taking the kingdomes of the earth,* and bringing his reward with him, he shall come and give a reward to those that feare him. And Revel. 14. 7. I saw an Angel flee in the middest of heaven having the everlasting Gos∣pel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, saying with a loud voyee, feare God and give glory to him. Marke, an Angel when he comes to preach the verlasting Gospel, how doth he preach it? what, now cast away fear and rejoyce in this everlasting Gospel? No, preaching this everlasting Gospel, saith with a loud voyce, feare God and give glory to him. So Rev. 15. 3. 4. There is the song of the Saints when they are delivered from the power of Antichrist, what is it, be jocund and joviall? No, Great and marvailous are thy workes, Lord God Almighty, just and true are thy wayes thou King of Saints, who shall not feare thee, O Lord, and glorifie thy name? for thou onely art holy, for all Nations shall come and worship before thee, for thy judgements are made manifest. And again Rev, 19. 5. And a voyce came out of the Throne, saying, Praise our God all ye his servants, and yee that feare him both small and great.
But feare the Lord now in these times,* why so?
Upon these foure grounds,
First, Feare the Lord now, because of the glory of Christ their King, they shall behold their King in that glory that shal cause fear, Rev, 19. 12. Christ is described with his eyes as flames of fire, and on his head many Crownes, cloathed with a vesture dipt in blood, at wo-edged sword out of his month, and on his vesture and on his thigh written, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. Thus they shall behold Christ, and therefore they shall feare.
Secondly, in those times the feare of God will much prevaile in the hearts of people, because of the great workes of God that shal be then, the heavens shall depart like a scrole, and the elements melt with fervent heate. This is meant of the time when there shal be new heavens & a new earth, which referreth to the Prophesie of Esay, and it is apparantly) and so generally In∣terpreters carry it) meant of the estate of the Church, then the heavens shall depart like a scrole. Heb. 13. 26. quoted out of Hag. 2. 6. The Lord did Page 532 shake the earth once, but he hath promised, saying, Yet once more, I sha• not the earth onely, but also heaven. There shall be wonderfull workes of God in the earth when those dayes come, therefore there shall be much of the feare of God.
Thirdly, Much of the feare of God then, because of the holiness of the worship of God and of his Ordinances, the purity of them shall cause fear:
Did we see the Ordinances in the true and native purity and holinesse of them, it would strike much feare in us. Some have but seene the execution of that one Ordinance of Excommunication in a solemn gracious way, and it hath daunted their hearts, it hath struke feare in a most proud, profane, stubborn, wicked heart, the beholding then of all the Ordinances, and all duties of worship in their true native purity, holiness and glory, cannot but cause much feare, Psal. 68. 35. O God thou art terrible out of thy holy pla∣ces; God will be terrible out of his holy places and out of all his holy Ordi∣nances.
Fourthly, Much feare there will be at that day, because of the holiness of the Saints, there shall be so much holiness that shall appeare bright in the ve∣ry faces and conversations of the Saints that shal strike great feare. Holy & reverent is thy n•me; you know it is said of God, and so it shall be said of the Saints in that day, their graces shall be much raised, they shall sparkle with abundance of the graces of Gods Spirit in them; their wisdome & ho∣liness shall make their faces shine, holy and reverent shall be their names, Psal. 89. 7. God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the Saints, those Saints of his who walke close with him, have a daunting power in their ap∣pearance. I appeale to guilty consciences, to apostates, to professors who have secret haunts of wickedness, sometime when you come but into the presence of one who is a truly gracious godly man or woman, whom your conscience tels you walkes close with God, doth not even the very sight of such a one terrifie you? the very lustre of that holiness you see in such a one strikes upon your conscience, then you thinke such an one walkes close with God indeed, but I have basely forsaken the Lord, and have had such a haunt of wickednesse, I have brought dreadfull guilt upon my soul since I saw him last. Ecclesiasticall stories tell us of Basil, when the officers came to appre∣hend him, he being then exercised in holy duties, that there was such a ma∣jesty & lustre came from his countenance, that the officers fell down back∣ward (as they did who came to apprehend Christ) they were not able to lay hold of him. Surely when the Saints shall be raised in their holiness, when e∣very one of them shall have their hearts filled with holinesse, it will cause a∣bundance of fear even in all the hearts of those that converse with them.
But wicked ones shall feare too as well as the Saints. Luke 21. 26. Mens hearts shall faile them for feare, it shal be true in these dayes as it was in the destruction of Jerusalem.
The Saints shall feare the Lord and his goodness;* the words in the origi∣nal are they shall feare, ad Dominum to the Lord, & ad bonum, to his good.
Page 533 It is all one in effect, that good that God shall manifest shall cause this feare to be in their hearts.
You will say, what goodnesse? what shall that goodness of God be that shall move the hearts of this people with so much feare?
I will tell you briefly, I need not spend much time in it, for I have spent a whole Sermon about it when I spake of the last words of the first Chapter of this Prophesi•, great shall be the day of Jezreel; I shal now adde to what I had then. This shall be the goodness of God in that day that they shall feare.
First,* The goodnesse of God that ever he should regard such a wret∣ched [ 1] people as we are, and pardon all our sins! What Israel, the ten Tribes, who had most wretchedly forsaken God, who had crucified Jesus Christ, crucified David their King, yet that blood they have shed is applyed to them for the pardon of their sin; Oh the goodness of God! they shall feare this goodness in being mercifull to such a hard-hearted, such a stubborne, such a stiffe-necked people as they have been, this goodnes of God will break their hearts. Secondly, then God shal make the difference between him that fear∣eth God, and him that feareth him not. Then shall God take away all the reproach of his Saints. What bitter reproach hath been upon the Saints since the beginning of the world, especially since the times of the Gospel• Reproach, first because they are meane people, of the lower sort. 2. Re∣proach, [ 2] because they suffer much, and God lets his adversaries prevaile over them. 3 Reproach, because they waite upon God, and God seems not to come,* the adversaries say, where is your God? No marvaile you pray and Fast, what is become of all? Here will be the goodness of God at that day to wipe off all this reproach. They shall have so much mercy, so much ho∣nour from God, that it shall appeare before all the world that it was good to waite upon him, so much as shall countervaile abundantly all their sufferings, they shall blesse God that ever it was put into their hearts to suffer for him, to waite upon him. And because God foreseeth this, what goodness he hath laid up for his people, that they shall enjoy ere long, (and we know a thou∣sand years with him are as one day) that is the reason why he suffereth his people to be so under for the present, he knows he hath that goodness for them hereafter, yea in this world, that all the world shal say that God hath dealt well with them, that he was not a hard Master to them to make them waite so long, and to let them suffer so much as they do. I will give you for this one excellent Scripture, perhaps you have not considered of the empha∣sis of the argument that is in it. It is Heb, 11. 16. They desired a better Countrey. that is, an heavenly; wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he hath prepared for them a City. The poor persecuted Saints wandred up & down, they were content to leave their own Country, their e∣states here, and sought another Country, an heavenly, but they had it not, their enemies prevailed over them, as if God had forsaken them; but God is not ashamed to be called their God, what is the argument?
Page 534For he hath prepared for them a City; Marke the force of the argument, for he hath prepared for them 〈◊〉 City: This City is this text I am now speak∣ing of; sometimes it is described as a Tabernacle, The Tabernacle of God shall come downe from Heaven; sometime a City, sometime a Countrey, sometime a Kingdome, sometime an Inheritance. Here God hath prepa∣red for them a City: that is, there is a glorious time for Gods people, when they shall have the new Jerusalem come down from heaven unto them.
Now then, saith God, though my people be in a suffering condition, I am not ashamed to be called their God. I am not ashamed to own this peo∣ple, for I have glory enough for them, as if God should be ashamed that he should ever professe such an interest in his people, and this people professe such an interest in him, if there were nothing to come for them, if there were not a time to recompence all their suffering. As if a Master should own a servant, or a Prince a subject, if this servant or subject suffer extreamely, and hath no help, but still when he expects help, there comes none, and when he thinketh, surely now it will come, still it fayls him; yet if you know that at such a day you shall recompence all this, you shall advance him and bring him to such honour that he will blesse God that ever he was in your service; you will not be ashamed to owne this servant: But if this servant shall suffer in your cause, and you have no time, nor no ability to recompence him, but he must suffer and suffer for ever, it would be a shame to you to owne him. So God is pleased to speake here, because I have prepared for them such a City, though they be in present persecution, I am not ashamed to own them for my people, and I doe not account it any dishonour to me, for there is a time coming that will answer all objections whatsoever. This is the good∣ness of God.
They shall feare his goodnesse. Feare it, how?
In these severall regards.*
First, They shall admire at his goodnesse, and in their admirations even stand amazed at it, the feare of amazement. 2 Thes. 1. 10. When Christ shall come, he shall come to be admired of his Saints; Luke 5. 26. The text saith they were all amazed, and glorified God, and were filled with feare, saying, We have seene strange things to day. VVhen this goodnesse of God shall come, all the Saints shall stand admiring it with amazement, & say one un∣to another, we did heretofore heare of Prophesies and promises, and we thought when they were opened to us, our hearts did burn within us, O they were blessed things! but now here is goodness we never thought of, this is higher and more glorious then ever we imagined. Thus they shall feare the Lord & his goodness. You have such a place Jer. 23. 9. It shal be to me a name of joy, apraise, and an honour before all the Nations of the earth, & When people shal heare of all the good that I do unto them, they shal fear & [ 2] tremble for all the goodnes, & for all the prosperity that I procure unto it.
Secondly, Feare this goodness; they shall upon this fall down and wor∣ship this God with feare: Oh how shall their hearts adore this God; because Page 535 of this his goodnesse! As we reade of Moses, Exod. 34. 8. God had told him that he would make all his goodnesse passe before him; now when God came and passed by before him, and proclaimed his goodness, The Lord, the Lord God; mercifull and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodnesse and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sinne; The Text saith, When Moses heard this, he made haste, and bowed his head and worshipped before the Lord. There is no∣thing will cause a gracious heart to make more haste to worship God then the beholding the glory and lustre of Gods grace and goodnesse: then the heart will not stand dallying and triffling any longer, but will make haste to worship before the Lord. Many times God shews his greatness unto you, and that convinceth your consciences a little, and you think you must leave your sinfull wayes, then temptation prevailes over you againe; but when God comes and makes known his goodnes, then the heart stands out against the Lord no more, but it gives up it selfe to the Lord in an everlasting cove∣nant. Thirdly, They shall feare his goodness, they shall feare to offend [ 3] this goodness of God. It shal be a mighty ingagement upon their hearts to walke close with God because of his goodness. This is a sweet disposition in∣deed. Then it is a sweet disposition when the heart hath been likewise hum∣bled before God and his justice, and now feares God and his goodness,
Mark a note in this by the way: Whereas many will say, O the goodnes of God will breake our hearts; if Ministers did preach onely his goodnes•; but when they preach the Law, when we heare of terrour, that hardneth our hearts. Take heed of this, there is more evil in this then you are aware. A heart that is truly gracious will fall down before the Lord any way, and it is not a good signe to be wrought upon only by the goodness of God, it may come through much stubbornness of heart for one to be of such a dispositi∣on, to be onely wrought upon by kindness. Did you never know a stour ser∣vant or a stout child, that so long as you are dispeased with him, he would stand out against you still, but perhaps if you yeeld to him a little, he would yeeld to you? Is this a good disposition? is not this stoutness and pride in a child, or in a servant, or in a neighbour, that will never yeeld to you till you yeeld to him? This is just for all the world the disposition of many people, so long as they heare of Gods greatness, and terrours of the Law, and Gods justice, they are hardned; what is that? that is, they stand it out stoutly against God, notwithstanding his wrath is revealed from heaven: But say they, when Gods goodnes is preached, then they yeeld, that is as much as to say except God yeeld to them they will not yeeld to God. But when I can yeeld hoth ways, fear his goodnes & his justice, then it is as a signe of a gracious dispo∣sion indeed. They shal feare his goodness, so as they shall be no longer wan∣ton upon the goodnes of God, they shal not slight Gods goodness, they shal not do evil because God is good, but they shall fear his goodness. We have a generation of men who doe extreamely abuse the goodness of God at this day, even Gods goodness in the Gospell, in those blessed things revealed Page 536 to us in JESUS CHRIST. As thus, VVe finde this revealed in the Gospel,* that it is God that must worke the will and the deed, the Covenant of grace is such, as that God doth not only require but work all for us; how is this goodness mis-interpreted and abused! Therefore say they, what need we do any thing? Why doe Ministers urge people to duties? Your princi∣ple is good, the truth is good, that it is God that works all in the Covenant of grace, but this distinction is very absurd and vile, and an abuse of Gods goodnesse, and therefore you must not work together with the Lord as rati∣onal creatures.
Again, The Gospel reveales to us the righteousness of God in Christ, that we must not stand before God in our own righteousnesse, but it must be in the righteousness of Christ; this principle is good; O but what abuse of this goodness is there 〈◊〉 false doctrines, and absurd consequences drawn from it; therefore to make conscience of duties, what is it but legall? they are but du∣ty whore-mongers; such kinde of bold and absurd expressions come from them. Oh wanton, wanton spirits who do not feare God and his goodness, but abuse God & his goodness! Agaiu, The Scripture tells us in the Gos∣pel that all sins unto believers are pardoned in Christ, all sins both great and smal, there is no condemnation to them that are in Christ, no not one mo∣ment of an houre after they are once justified; this is Gods goodnesse, and thou shouldest feare it, here is the principle right, but the deductions & con∣sequences are vile, therefore to preach that we must be humbled for sin, this is legall preaching, neither will these men ever confesse their sins because of this goodness of God. This is to be wanton, not to fear the goodnes of God. The goodnes of God in the gospell telleth us that the grace of God is strong, that the Saints shall persevere, that those that are once in Christ shall never fall away; therefore let us take liberty to our selves, what need we be carefull of our wayes, seeing the grace of God will carry us through? Oh to abuse this goodnes of God thus is wicked, the heavens may blush to behold it, and the earth tremble under it. But we have not so learned Christ, the more of the goodnes of God in Christ is made known to us, the more should we fear him. The goodnesse of God in the Gospel is so rich that the truth is be∣cause the hearts of men are so vile, and so ready to abuse it, we are almost afraid to preach it. Oh is this the fruit of the preaching of the Gospel? Ne∣ver was the Gospel so cleare as in England, and in no Age so as in this Age, and is this the fruit of all, that men should draw such absurd consequences from this goodnesse of God, that men should goe away harder from that which is the softning word? VVhen we come to preach the Gospell, the goodnesse of it, we come I say with feare; with what feare? trembling lest it should cost the damnation of some soule. The preaching the goodnes of God in the Gospel, doth certainly cause, ex accidente, the damnation of many a soul. Therefore in the mean time you who are Gods Saints, know how dearly God tendereth you, God will have the goodnesse of the Gospell preache• to you though it cost the damnation of 〈◊〉 a soul; you had need Page [unnumbered] it therefore, & make a good use of it. Let this meditation cause you to im∣prove to the uttermost what you hear of all the goodness of the Lord. That which I hear is costly to some, it costs the perishing of many a soule that I may have it, though God sees that many souls will be hardned by it, well, saith God, let them be hardned, these my servants shall not want it, though they perish for ever. When a man hath a thing in his house, and he hears that it cost dear, even the lives of many men, he hath other thoughts of it then be∣fore. David had a reverent respect to the water of the well of Bethlem, be∣cause it cost the hazard of the mens lives, learne then to feare God and his goodnesse.
4. Fearing God and his goodnesse is this, in all rejoycing in, and pray∣sing God for his goodnesse, there shall be a mixture of feare. They shall be well skilled in this mystery of godlinesse, when they enjoy so much of Gods goodness, and are called upon to sing and rejoyce, they shal sing with a mix∣ture of feare. Their hearts shall be very serious and spirituall in all their joy. It is very hard for us to rejoyce in Gods goodness, and not to have our hearts grow slight and vain, it is a hard thing to keepe a day of thankesgiving with a serious spirit, joy commonly causeth vanity in the hearts of men. But now the goodnesse of God shall be so strong in their hearts, that though they shall seek Gods goodness, and rejoyce abundantly in it, yet with a mixture of abundance of feare, their hearts shall be kept very serious, holy, and spiri∣tuall in the service of God. I will give you a text or two for this. Exod. 15. 11. when Moses was blessing God for that goodness in delivering his peo∣ple out of Egypt (which was a typicall song as appeareth in the Revelation, that bondage typifying Antichristian bondage) mark the expression, Who is like unto thee O Lord among the gods, who is like unto thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises? God is to be praysed, but so praysed as his name must be fearfull in prayses. Consider this in all your joyfull celebrating the memoriall of Gods goodness, you must so rejoyce and blesse God, as you must hold forth this before all you converse with, that the name of God is fearfull in these praises you tender to him: this a slight heart cannot doe. So Psal. 52. 6. The righteous also shall see and feare, and shall langh at him. Mark what a mixture here is, the righteous shall see, and feare, and laugh, he shall rejoyce, but with trembling, Psalm 2. 11.
God much delights to have the glory of his goodnesse thus. We have much goodnesse of God at this day, and God calleth us to feare him and his goodnesse; if we give him not his glory in this, God may soone call us to feare him and his greatnesse; to feare him and his justice, to feare him and his wrath. This is the argument now, there is forgivenesse with thee that thou maist be feared. But how soon may God justly turn this argument, there is wrath with thee, vengeance with thee, there is sword, fire, blood, storm, an horrible tempest with thee, therefore shalt thou be feared? Our consciences are ready to misgive us when wee have any evill tidings, for wee have much guilt upon our spirits, we 〈◊〉 had much goodnesse indeed from Page [unnumbered] God, (who ever thought to have lived to see that goodnesse you have seen) but because you have not feared God and his goodnesse,* here is the reason of those misgiving thoughts, when you heare of any ill newes, oh now God is coming against us with his wrath, that he may be feared.
Something might be said to open a little the difference betweene fearing God and his goodnesse, and fearing God and his wrath and justice in a legall way. Only thus in a word.
The fearing God and his goodnesse is such a feare as enlargeth the heart. [ 1] Other feare contracts the heart. We have an excellent text for this, Isa. 60. [ 2] 1. compared with ver. 5. Arise, shine, for thy light is come, the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee, and so he goeth on describing Gods goodnesse, that referreth to these times that we are speaking of; then (vers. 5.) Thou shalt see and flow together, and thy heart shall feare upon that, and be inlarged. When the heart so feareth, as it is inlarged unto God, this is the fearing God and his goodnesse aright.
Again, It is such a feare as yet the heart clings to God for ever; It drives not from God, but makes the heart cleave closer to him, that is the phrase in the Text in the Hebrew, They shall feare to God and to his goodnesse, I will put my fear in their hearts that they shal not depart from me. This keeps the heart to God.
Further, This fearing God and his goodnesse workes the heart to a high degree of sanctification. 2 Cor. 7. 1. Seeing we have such precious promi∣ses, [ 3] let us perfect holiness in the feare of God: And Heb. 12. 28. Wherefore we receiving a Kingdome that cannot be moved, let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverent and godly feare.
Lastly, It is a feare that is joyned with love, whereas the other fear makes the heart to have hard thoughts of God; take heed for ever of that feare of God that makes you to have hard thoughts of him. In times of danger ma∣ny begin to feare, then presently they wish they had never ingaged them∣selves so much in these wayes that have such ill successe, they now cry out of others, you would needs do thus, you see what is become of it. But feare of God and his goodnesse is joyned with blessing God, that ever you knew his wa•es, and were ingaged in them.
This shall be in the latter dayes.
God is content to stay for his glory untill the latter dayes, that which is in∣deed his chiefe glory; for though in these former dayes God hath had glory, yet hee hath had but very little. God is content to stay for that which is his chief glory untill the latter dayes. Let this be an argument for our patience, though we have sufferings now, let us wait as God waiteth.
But the latter dayes, when are these? The times of the Gospell are gene∣rally called the latter dayes; but this, though it referreth indeed to the whole time of the Gospel, yet especially unto the latter times of those latter dayes. If you would know what these latter dayes are, though I will not take upon me to give you the day, or 〈…〉 I will shew you Page [unnumbered] that it is like these latter dayes are at hand.
For giving light unto this, that is a good help to us that we have in Daniel, concerning the four Kingdoms, there we have a propheticall Chronologie from the Captivity of the Jews unto the time when the counsell of God shall be fulfilled. You have a description there of four severall Monarchies, the Babylonian, Assyrian, Grecian, and Roman: Now in the last of these Da∣niel saith, Chap. 2. 44. The God of heaven shall set up a Kingdome which shall never be destroyed, but it shall breake in pieces, and consume all the o∣ther Kingdomes, and it shall stand for ever. In this latter (namely the Ro∣man) hath the Kingdom of Christ begun to appear already, but God telleth Daniel, chap. 12. 13. Thou shalt stand in thy lot at the end of the dayes. Now observe, the chiefe Prophesies wee have about the time of these latter dayes, when they shall be set out in that expression of time, and times, and halfe a time, 1260. dayes, or 42. months, all comes to the same three years and a halfe, reckoning every day in those yeares for a yeare, compare these prophesies, Dan. 7. 25. And they shall be given into his hand, untill a time and times, and dividing of time. Rev. 11. 2. The holy City shall they tread under foote forty and two moneths. Vers. 3. The witnesses shall prophesie 1260. dayes; Now 1260. days are the days of three years and a halfe, so the dayes of 42. moneths. Then the woman in the wildernesse, Rev. 12. 6. She shall be fed there 1260. dayes, still the same number; the witnesses shall prophesie 1260. dayes; the holy Citie that shall be trodden under foote 42. months; and the woman in the wildernesse shall be there 1260. dayes And againe, Dan. 12. 11. From the time of the abomination that making deso∣late, there shall be 1290. days, there are a few days more, not many, but a∣bout this time you see the Scripture prophesieth of some great things to be done, at the end of this time are these latter dayes.
But all the difficulty is to know the beginning when the three years and a halfe, or 42. moneths, or 1260. dayes begun, then we may know when these latter dayes shall be. Brightman makes the beginning of the 1290. days from Julians time, when he would have set up the abomination, that is, set up the Jewish worship again, by re-edifying the Temple, that is, sayes he, the abomination of desolation, reckoning 1290. dayes, for 1290. years, hi• time by computation will come out about the year 1650. The other wee have in the Revelation (and that in Daniel likewise refers to the same) notes the time that the Churches shall be under the persecution of Antichrist, for a thousand two hundred and sixty years, so long the Beast shall prevail, and the witnesses shall so long prophesie in sackcloath, and the woman shall be in the wildernesse for so long a time.
But when did Antichrist begin to reign?
For that take this rule, It must be at that time when the Roman Empe∣rour was broken, and when the Dragon giveth up his power to the Beast; when the power of the Dragon that persecuted the Christians under the Ro∣man Empire is given to Antichrist, so that now they come to be persecuted Page 540 under him; here is the beginning of the 1260. dayes.
That the Roman Empire must be given up first, appeareth, 2 Thes. 2. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already worke, only he who now letteth, will let, untill he be taken out of the way; that is, as generally Expositors carry it, the power of the Roman Empire, when that is taken out of the way, then shall that wicked one be revealed; the•e were many Antichrists before, but then that wicked one that shall exalt himselfe above all that is called God, shall have power to persecure the Church. Hence it is observable, that the custome of the Church was to pray for the continuing the Roman Empire upon this ground, because they knew when that was broken Antichrist would come. Now the breaking of the Roman Empire was at the raising up of those ten severall sorts of governmens called in the Revel. tenn Kings, and the raising up of those Kings was 400. yeares and something more after Christ, as Chronologers tell us, between the 400. and 500. years. It is hard to reckon to a year, there is so much difference in Chronologers computa∣tions; after that time there must be 1260. days, that is 1260. years. Make this computation, and compare all these Scriptures one with another, it can∣not be long, but in this century that is now currant, these latter dayes are here meant, when the people of God and the Jews shal return to Jehovah, and David• heir King, and fear the Lord & his goodnesse. The nearer the time comes, the more will these things be cleared. Dan. 12. 9. Goe thy way Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end, and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. Take but one note and we have done, why the Scripture sets ••is out rather by ma∣ny dayes, then by so many yeares? The reason is, because God would have his people think that time untill his goodnes should be revealed, but a short time, if he had said they should be 1260. years under Antichrists persecuti∣on, this founds harder; No, saith he, it shall be but so many dayes, (though flesh and blood may think this time long) yet look upon it as dayes, it is but a short time to me, it will be but a short time to you, within 1260. days you shall be delivered from his tyranny, and then you shall have this voyce from heaven, The kingdoms of the earth are become the kingdomes of the Lord and of his Christ, and hee shall reign for ever, and then shall ye together with the Jews seeke the Lord, and David your King, and fear the Lord and his goodnesse.
Now through Gods goodnesse wee have gone through these three Chap∣ters. Tertullian hath this expression of the fulness of the Scriptures; Ador• plenitu d•nem Scripturarum, I adore the fulnesse of the Scriptures; By searching thus into the Scriptures, we may come to see rich treasures in them, and so adore the fulnesse of them; how do we read over texts, as if there were nothing in them? but certainly God hath revealed much more of his mind in Scripture then wee are aware of, let us all be in love with the study of the Scriptures.Page [unnumbered]