HOSEA, CHAP. 3.
The First Lecture.
CHAP. 3. VER. 1. 2. 3.
Then said the Lord unto me, go yet, love a woman (beloved of her friend, yet an adulteresse) according to the love of the Lord toward the children of Israel, who looke to other gods and love flaggons of wine.
So I bought her •o me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an halfe homer of barley.
And I said unto her, thou shalt abide for me many dayes, thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man, so will I also be for thee.
THe close of the former Chapter had much mercy in it, and this Chapter containes the expression of much love also to Israel, but yet withall, God tells them of that meane and low estate they are like to be in before that time comes, for the fulfilling of all that good that God intends to them.
God purposes great mercy for them, his heart is much set upon them, but they must for a long time beare their iniquity, they must be brought into a vile and desolate condition in their captivity, even untill a se∣cond appearing of Christ. But in all this time the heart of God would be to∣ward them, his intentions would be strong for good to that people above all the people upon the face of the earth: though they might seeme to be utterly rejected of the Lord, and that for many yeers, yet hee would look toward them as a people that he intended yet to marry unto himself, & in time mer∣cy should breake forth gloriously upon them, and his name should be mag∣nified in their returning unto him, so as their hearts should melt toward his goodnesse, they should not abuse it any more as formerly they had done, but they should returne and seeke the Lord their God and David their King, and feare the Lord and his goodnesse in the latter dayes. This is the scope of the Chapter. In which you have three things.
1. Gods love continued unto an adulteresse, Israel.
2. The low and mean condition of this adulteresse for a long time.
3. The returne of God in infinite mercy toward them at the latter day, together with their returne unto him.
And the Lord said unto me, goe yet, love a woman (beloved of her friend, yet an adulter esse.)
We have here a new injunction to the Prophet, and that somewhat har∣der then his former. In the first Chapter God commanded him to goe and take awife of whoredomes, but here God commanded him to love an adul∣teresse, which is somewhat more then to take her unto himself,
Page 489 What that was of taking a wife of whoredomes hath been opened in the former Chapter,* and may spare some labour in this. It is here a vision as it was there; As if God should say unto Hosea, Hosea it is just with me as it would be with thee, if thou shouldst goe and have a wife an Adulteresse, notwithstanding all the love she hath found, yet still an Adulteresse, & thine heart should be upon her, so as thou couldest not take thy heart from her, but thou must needs love this Adulteresse still. This people whom I have loved, for whom I have done so much good, yet they have gone a whoring from me, they are an Adulteresse, yet for all that my heart cannot be taken off from them, but is still toward them, yet I love them.
This is through the strength of the Covenant that Gods love is so perma∣nent. Others who are not in covenant with him, God casts out for lesser sins for any sins; but as for his people who are in Covenant with him, no not their adulteries, their idolatries takes not the heart of God wholly from them. Surely then, if thou canst appeale to God. O Lord, thou knowest all things, knowest that there is nothing of thy mind revealed to me but my heart is rea∣dy to do it, and if I faile in any thing thou knowest it is the greatest burden of my soul; O that I knew more of thy minde! and that I had power to doe more! surely God will love thee, you heare he loves his people though an a∣dulteresse, as before, so now take this lesson, thy sinnes cannot over come Gods goodnesse, let Gods goodnesse overcome thy sinfulnesse.
An adulteresse beloved of her friend.
This is (as some carry it, Calvin, Vatablus, and many others) beloved of her husband, as if God should say, had they any such excuse for their depar∣tings from me, that I have been a bitter husband to them, that I have used them hardly, and rigidly, then indeed they might have some plea; but I have loved them dearly, I have done much for them, they were beloved of me, & I have carried my selfe to them in the most friendly way that possibly could be, yet they are gone a whoring from me. The wife that followes other lo∣vers, thinks if she have but this to say, her husband is hard to her, hee cares not for her, he loves her not, it excuses in part her adulteries; and so the husb∣and, a company keeper, an adulterer, if he can say, what will you have me to doe, I never come home but my wife is alwayes b•awling and she loves other men, he thinks this is plea enough for him. But Israel could not have this excuse for her selfe, for she was an Adulteresse, yet beloved of the Lord.
If we take the words thus, the notes briefly would be these.
First,* The husband should be a friend to his wife. There should be no∣thing but friendly carriage betweene man and wife; Yea the love of the husband to the wife should farr surmount the love of any friend in the world, but a friend at least to comfort her, to cherrish her in time of sorrowes, to beare the burthen of affliction with her, and so the wife towards the hus∣band.
Secondly,* A base heart will be base against all bonds of love; beloved of Page 490 her friend, yet an adultoresse; if you should ask, who is he or where is he that is so base? Lay thy hand upon thine owne heart and consider what the love of God hath been towards thee all the dayes of thy life, and how thou hast carried thy selfe toward him, what love thou hast had from God that might breake the heart of a devill, yet when any temptation comes to draw thee from God,* thy base heart listens to it. Thirdly, It is a great aggravation of sin to sinne against much love. We ought to doe our duties to those that we stand in relation unto, though they doe not their duty to us; if a wife hath a froward husband, a bitter, churlish rugged, wicked, ungodly husband, yet she is bound to doe her duty to him, she is bound to love him, to obey him, to be observant of him in what may give him all lawfull content. So if ser∣vants have froward,* churlish, cruel Masters or Mastresses, yet they are bound to be obedient to them. 1 Pet. 2. 18. Be subject to your masters not onely to those that rae good and gentle, but to the froward. It is no sufficient excuse for the wife to say, My husband is froward and unquiet, and therefore what shall I doe? Nor for the servant to say, My Master or Mistresse are unrea∣sonable, they are cruell, what can I doe? You must doe your duty to them, though they doe not theirs to you, But if you have a loving husband, tender over you, then love is required much more. Love above all things should draw the heart; the knowledge that it is duty may force obedience, but it is love that draws the heart most kindly. So if a servant have a godly Master and Mistresse, who respects and tenders his good, if he should sinne against them, this aggravateth the sinne exceedingly. To wrong love is a very great sin, Delicata res est amor, love is a most delicate thing, and it must not be wronged, it is tender, a precious thing. A man who is of an ingenuous spi∣rit, had rather a great deale be wronged in his estate, then in his love; he can∣not beare the injury that is done unto his love; when his love is abused, that goes to his very heart. So it goes to the heart of God for his people to sin a∣gainst his love; therefore it is said of the Saints when they sinne, that they grieve the Spirit of God; he never saith so of wicked men; they anger God, but the Saints grieve him, because they sinne so much against Gods love.
Charge this aggravation of your sinne upon your hearts, and be humbled; collect together all the expressions of Gods love to you, and let them lye glowing at your hearts, and melt them.
But in that God bids him take an Adulteresse beloved of her friend, and calls not this friend Husband, I thinke those who goe another way expresse the minde of the Holy Ghost in this more fully, thus: This friend is not meant of one who is fully married, but rather one in a way of marriage. A∣mongst the Jewes it was usuall for all women to be under the protection of some men or other. Esay 4. 1. Seven women came and tooke hold of one man, and said, Let us be named by your name, we will eate our own bread, and weare our own cloathes, onely let us be named by your name, let us be under your protection. Even whores were wont, though they had many lo∣vers, yet to have some one speciall man, under whose protection and care Page 491 they would be, who was to see them not to have wrong, and to make pro∣vision for them, and such a one they were wont to call their friend; And ma∣ny times these friends would so provide for them, that if they would be re∣claymed, forsaking all their other lovers, they would give them good hopes of marrying with them at length. Arias Montanus refers us to one Pro∣pertius, in his first Book and second Elegie, to reade about the charge and care of such a friend. The Grecians had that custome likewise: they called him under whose protection they put themselves, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the whore was called from it, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. It is said of Plato that he had a whore, one Archenas∣sa, who was called Plato's〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. Here the Lord would have the Prophet take an Adulteresse beloved of her friend, that is, one that was a common Adulteresse, and yet under the protection of some speciall friend, so as if he might come in place of that friend, and gain the love and affection of this A∣dulteresse to himself, and in time getting her to be reclaimed, he might mar∣ry her unto himselfe. This is according to the love of God to his people, that is, as if God should say, This people is a going a whoring, but I will be con∣tent to take them unto my selfe, I will be as their friend, and so love them as a friend to protect them, to have care over them, untill such a time that there may be some experience of their being reclaimed, and then I will marry this Adulteresse fully unto my selfe, for God is not now fully marryed unto the Jews, neither will that marryage be untill that glorious time of their calling comes; but yet God is as a friend to them to this day, that is, God takes this people yet under his protection, though they seeme to be in a rejected con∣dition, and so, as he gives hope, yea makes many promises that upon their return unto him he will marry them unto himselfe; yea there shal be a more glorious marriage between the Jews & the Lord Christ, then ever yet there was between him and any people upon the face of the earth. This I thinke to be the very scope and meaning of the words, Beloved of her friend.
Somewhat sutable is that we have Deut. 21. 12. 13. when one of the Jews took a captive woman, he might not marry her presently to himself, but if he had a love to her, she was to continue a certaine time, and to be so and so purified, and then he was to take her. The Jewes are for the present as that captive woman, they are in bondage, yet God hath a love to them unto this day; but so, as they must abide a while untill God be maryed to them; they are beloved of God, but yet with the love of a friend. The Seventy reade these words,*Beloved of her friend, One that loveth evill things, upon the mistake of the Hebrew word, for indead a friend and evill are the same let∣ters, only differing in the points; so there might easily be a mistake.
Who looke to other gods.
Their eyes are upon other gods. Where the heart is, there the eyes is. Ti∣mor figit oculum, so Amor: Feare fastens the eyes, and so doth Love. The workings of the soule appeares as much in the eye, as in any member; the workings of love, of trust and confidence appeare much in the eye. They looke to other gods, that is, they have confidence in other gods. Looking up Page 492 to a thing in Scripture phrase, is to have some confidence in it. Psal. 121. 1. I lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence commeth my help: That is, I look for help, I have confidence and expect help. But how here to the hills then? What doth Davids help come from the hills? Some thinke this to be the place where afterward the Temple was built, and was then the place of the Sanctuary; but for that it is said that usually in Scripture is but in the sin∣gular number, the hill of God; not the hils; therefore I finde Calvin, Mol∣lerus, and others, thinke that David here speakes of confidence in the crea∣ture, because he presently retracts him selfe in the second verse, My helpe is in Jehovah. As if he should say, I lift up mine eyes unto the creature for help, this is the frailty of my nature, and of the nature of man, to look for aux∣iliary Forces from Jerusalem, (which was a hilly place) I looke for Forces to come from Jerusalem, but they doe not come, well, I will not rest any lon∣ger upon them,*Jehovah is my help, so they carry it. But now I would ra∣ther (if it may be) free the Prophet from vaine confidence in the creature, and so the words being rightly understood, may free him if you reade them thus, doe I lift up mine eyes unto the hils? doe I expect help from the crea∣ture? God forbid I should doe it, for my help is in God.
Further, sometimes the Hebrew [〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉] is used for [〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉] and so it would bee translated above the hils, other men look to the hils, I look above the hils. But rather thus, I lift up mine eyes to the hils, that is, I look to God, why? because the place where the Temple was to be built, it was not onely upon one hill, but upon hils, and so this expression hath reference to those two hills it was built upon; the hill of Moriah and the hill of Zion (which were ra∣ther but two ridges of the same) as 2 Chron. 3. 1. Solomon began to build the house of the Lord upon mount Moriah; and Psal. 2. 6. I have set my King upon my holy hill of Zion: I look saith David unto God, my Faith hath reference to that place that God hath chosen for himself;* that this is the meaning will appeare if we compare this with Psal. 87. 1. His foundation is in the holy hils, not hill, but hils. The respect Idolaters had to their Idols, being manifested by lifting up their eyes to them, therefore God com∣manded them, that they must not so much as lift up their eyes to their idols; And indeed we had need take heed in what we doe in this, so much as to lift up our eyes to look upon the inticements of the flesh; many will not com∣mit their former sins, but they love to be looking that way. I have read of a Lady, a loving wife, who being at the maryage of Cyrus, she was askt how she liked the Bridgeroom? how, saith she? I know not, I saw no body but my Husband. Love and respect drawes the eye either to God or to the cre∣ature. According as our hearts are, so our eyes will be.
And love flaggons of wine.* The word comes from a word that signifies fundavit. The old Latin turns it vivacia uvarum, the leaves, skinnes, and stones of the grape that remaines after pressing, that sinke down into the bot∣tome of the vessell. Noting thereby how saplesse, and savourlesse, and un∣worthy Idolatrous worship is in comparison of the true worship of God.
Page 493 True worship of God is sweet, and savoury, lovely, and excellent, but mans institutions, how saplesse are they! The spirits of such men as pleade for and delight in superstitious vanities, the devises of men, how saplesse and unsavoury do they quickly grow! though heretofore they have had some quicknesse and livelinesse in their wayes, yet if once they delight themselves in the inventions of men, in Gods worship, their spirits grow very unsavo∣ry to those with whom they converse.
But take the traslation as it is in your books, flaggons of wine, called by this name in the Hebrew, because that vessell, the flaggon is broad in the bot∣tome: That is, (as some carry it) thus, They are as drunkards that call for one flaggon after another. Superstitious and idolatrous people, when they have one way of superstition, they call for another; and when they have got that, they will have another, and are still greedy of more, they are never sa∣tisfied, as drunkards are greedy of their flaggons.
Or rather, to note the sensuality of the wayes of their Idolatrous worship, their flaggons of wine are joyned to their gods. The Seventy translate the word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, Bellaria, fine Cates and junkets, delicate things made with wine and grapes together by all the art they can devise for the pleasing the appetite.* From thence the note is cleare.
Spirituall adultery and carnall sensuality goe together. They used flag∣gons of wine in their idolatrous solemnities, that made them love their Idols so much the rather. In the true worship of God there is abundance of sweetness to satisfie the hearts of the Saints, they need not have sensual plea∣sures to make up their delight, but in superstitious worship there is no such sweetness to satisfie the spirits, therefore they are saine to call for flaggons of wine, and other sensuall things to make up a full delight to themselves.
Superstitious and idolatrous Rites bring with them pleasure to the flesh, hence how are they loved and followed by people? they can hardly ever be taken off from them.* In their Idolatrous solemnities they were wont to have Feasts to pamper the flesh. Judg. 9. 27. They went out into the field, and gathered their vineyards, and trod the grapes, and were merry, & went into the house of their God, and did eate and drinke, and cursed Abimelech. So Amos. 2. 8. They drinke the wine of the condemned in the house of their God. What is that? By oppression and violence they would rend the estates of men from them, and when they had gotten them, then they made merry, yea they would come into the house of their gods, and drinke bowles of wine that they had gotten from the estates of such men whom they had wrong∣fully condemned, Let Idolaters have their lusts satisfied, and they care not what God they serve. 2 Cor. 8. 10. If any see them sit at meate in the I∣dols temple; at meate, they had their flesh satisfied in the Idols temple.
Thus God complaines of his people here. As if he had said, Let all be∣moane my condition, for though I have loved Israel dearly, she hath gone a whoring from me, and she loveth flaggons of wine, because she hath more pleasure to the flesh in serving Idols, she will serve them.
Page 494 What an abominable thing it is to forsake the blessed God meerly for the love of wine? How many are there in the world who forsake all that good that is in God, in Christ, in heaven, in eternity, meerely for flaggons of wine?
Calvin hath a note from the word that carries some-what more with it, flaggons of grapes, so the words are in the Hebrew, not flagons of wine, and of grapes rather then wine saith he, because there were artificiall wayes used by them to make their superstitious ways to be more pleasant to them; As when drunkards have drunk even ad nauseam, that they begin to loath what they delighted in, then they will use some artificiall way or other of mixture of grapes or some other thing with the wine to make it have a new tast, that they may have still delight in drinking; So (saith he) because their old super∣stitions have nothing in them to satisfie the heart, therefore they are fain to in∣vent new kinds of artificiall wayes to please themselves withall, although (saith he) they brag of their antiquity, yet the truth is, they are fain to invent new things every day, to give a new lustre and pomp to their worship, they are alwayes devising some new ceremony or other, or else it would grow loathsome to themselves. This wee have seene in our owne experience, the wantonnesse of mens hearts in superstitious ways is very great, they invent new ways to uphold their old moth-eaten vanities.
So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver.
The Prophet obeyeth God in this other hard command. God many times sends his Prophets upon very hard businesses, yet they must be willing to serve the Lord in the hardest work; and bought her to himselfe for fifteen pieces of silver.
The word that is here translated bought,* signifies to digg, it is taken (as some think) from the piercing or boring into the servants eare, which was to be a slave untill the year of Jubile, to note the slavish condition of this people they should be in for a long time.
But sometime the word signifies not only boring, but any kind of getting by buying or bargaining, taken from the manner of the Jews, it seems to be a hard expression,* how distant do those two seem to be, to dig and to buy? it signifies also to cut, saith Pagnine, (excidit) he hath cut a sunder, because in their bargainings they were wont to cut a beast in sunder, & so to go be∣tween the two pieces;* or because in their bargaines they joyned their right hands together, and then another came and put his hand between theirs, as a spade is put into the earth, and so did as it were cut them asunder, and from thence, though the word seem harsh, yet those who understand the manner of their bargainings know the meaning of it.
I bought her to my self. This buying was in order to marrying, that shee might be under his care for a while, and then come to be his wife. It was the custome of men in those days to buy their wives. Iacob served twice seven years for Rachel, and so bought her. David bought his wife for a hundred foreskins of the Philistims; and Christ purchased his Church to himselfe at a Page 495 dear rate, even by his own blood: But I bought her (saith hee) for fifteene Pieces of silver.
There is a necessity for the opening these words, not onely that you may see the scope of the holy Ghost here, but likewise may the better understand some other Scriptures.
Fifteen pieces of silver; How much is that? It is fifteen shekels, for that is a rule among the Hebrews, when a piece of silver is named, and not the summe; then a shekel is always understood, and when a shekel is set down, and the mettall not exprest, the silver is understood, not gold or any other mettall. Now the common shekell was according to the account of some of the weight of 160. graines of barley. Josephus saith it was about foure Drachmas (and so I find most carry it) about 18. or 20. pence of our mo∣ney; though a great deale of difference there be among Interpreters about the sum of that shekell; Jerome upon the fourth of Ezekiel, makes it half an ounce, but there is much difference you know about ounces.
This was to signifie the vile and base condition that Israel had brought her selfe into, for thirty shekels of silver was to be given for the price of a maid∣servant, Exod. 21. 32. If an oxe have pushed a man-servant, or a woman∣servant, he shal give to his Master thirty shekels. Thirty shekels must be gi∣ven for recompence of losse of a servant who was but a slave; yet the Prophet must buy this adulteress for half as much, fifteen shekels. Israel, all the tenn Tribes, yea the whole people of the Jews are signified by this adulteress be∣loved of her friend: So that now the people of Israel, who heretofore the dear ly beloved of Gods soul, his only people upon the face of the earth, the peculi∣ar treasure of God, his portion, his inheritance, had now by their sin brought themselves into a meaner condition then any poore bond-woman in Israel, that they were worth but halfe as much now as a poor woman-slave. This thirty pieces of silver was the goodly price Christ was valued at by the Jews, Zech. 11. 12. Mat. 27. 9. This shewed how Christ was humbled, that he must bee sold for no more then was the price of a slave. But the price of Is∣rael was but 15. pieces, halfe as much. Israel was proud in the day of her prosperity, but now she hath brought her self by her sin into a meaner condi∣tion then a slave.
And for an homer of barley, and an halfe homer of barley. What that homer of barley was, and what the scope of the holy Ghost is in mentioning of it must be enquired. First, an homer contained ten Ephaes. But by that (you will say) we know no more then we did. An Ephah then is neer upon as much as our bushell, so that this homer is neer upon tenne of our bushels. Ruth 2. 17. it is said of Ruth that when shegleaned in the field after the Rea∣pers, she beat out that she had gleaned, and it was an Ephah of barley. And by that you may know the meaning of that text, Esay 5. 10. The seed of an homer shall yeeld an Ephah; why a homer was ten bushels, how then should the seed of neer tenn bushels yield but one bushell? It was a threatning of a famine, that though they did sow much, they should reape but little, they Page 496 should sowe a matter of ten bushels, and reape but one.
Or thus, some interpret an homer to be about the burthen that an Asse was able to beare, for 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 in the Hebrew signifies an Asse,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 so the burthen of that creature was called an homer; but Ezek, 45. 11. the Text telleth us plainly, that an Ephah is the tenth part of an homer.
There is a great deale of difficulty to understand this, if we compare it with another Scripture, Exod. 16. 16, where the Text saith they were to ga∣ther of the Manna every man according to his eating, an homer for every man; and ver. 36. an homer is the tenth part of an Ephah. This seems quite contrary, here it is that an ephah is the tenth part of an homer, and there it is that an homer is the tenth part of an ephah. But for the salving of this, those who are skilfull in the Hebrew tongue know that these words are written with different letters, though in our English the pronounciation is the same, for that in Exodus is written with [〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉] and the other [〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉] one thus Gnomer, the other Chomer, so it should be read. Now this homer of Manna that God gave for every man for one day, was almost the tenth part of a bushell, it was foure or five times as much as the Romanes were wont to allow their men, their Dimensum which they called a Chaenix, which was their allow∣ance for their servants, was but the fourth part of this, and scarce that; not∣ing thereby, tha• God is exceeding liberall unto his people.
But why an homer of barley; Because it was a meane food, and in those times rather the food of beasts then of men; God promised to feed his peo∣ple with the finest flower of wheate. Therefore Revel. 6. 5. A measure of •heate for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny. But what doth this tend to, that there must be a homer of barley and halfe a homer of bar∣ley given for this Adulteresse that the Prophet was to take unto himselfe? The scope of all is, to signifie the meane condition, that the ten Tribes, and afterward all the Jews should be in, till Christ came to marry them to him∣selfe. First they should be in a contemptible condition, they should be va∣lued but at halfe the price of a slave. Secondly, they should be fed but mean∣ly and basely, even as slaves, or rather as beasts, this homer and half of bar∣ley should be for their sustenance, in which they should be used very hardly for along time. And that you may see how this hath been fulfilled, (for it did not only refer to the time of their Captivity before Christ, but to all the Captivity they have been in ever since Christs time to this day, and shall be in untill their calling) the mean condition they were in before, in the time of their first Captivity, you may see Lament. 4. 5. Those that were clothed in scarlet, embraced the dung-hill; they either lay in filthy places that had dung in them, like beasts, or else they were imployed in carrying dung up and down. And to this day, Histories tell us, that generally the Jews have a most stinking savour, and we know that they are the vilest people in the e∣steeme of others that are upon the face of the earth. An Historian tells us of an Emperour travelling into Egypt, there meeting with some Jews, he was so annoyed with the stink of them, that he cryes out, O Marco-mani, O Quadi, &c.
Page 497 At length, saith he, I have met with worse, with viler men then such and such, reckoning up divers of the basest people that were upon the face of the earth.* And to this day the Turks will admit of no Jew to turne to the Ma∣humetan Religion, unlesse he first turne Christian; they have much more honorable esteeme of the Christians, they think that Jesus Christ though he was not God, yet he was a great Prophet; but for the Jews, they have such vile thoughts of them, that they think it a dishonour to the Turkish Religion that any of them should turne Turk, unlesse be first turned Christian. And we reade of the Romanes, that when they conquered other Nations, they would permit them to call themselves Romanes, after they had conquered them, but they would never permit the Jews to call themselves Romanes, though the Jews would comply never so much with them and be their ser∣vants, (Augustine hath it upon Psalme 58.) lest there should be some blot stick to the glory of the Romanes by that odious people.*
Thus we see what shame hath God cast upon that nation even unto this day, that they are counted as the very off-scouring of all nations. Suetonius tels us that in the exactions that the Romanes require of people, they put up∣on the Jews more then upon all people. This that we reade of in histories, & that which we finde by experience of the base condition these people are in, is the fulfilling this Scripture, that I am now opening unto you, she shal be bought for fifteen pieces of silver, and fed with barly, she shall be in a ve∣ry low, base and meane condition untill Christ shall come and marry her to himself.
Notes from hence are.
First, A people who have been high in outward glory, when they de∣part from God, make themselves vile and contemptible, God casts con∣tempt upon wicked men, especially upon wicked men who corrupt his worship. Do we not see it at this day? Mal. 2. 9. It is threatned that the Priests who departed from the law, & corrupted their waies should be base and contemptible before the people. Hath not the Lord done thus at this day? even those that not long since gave themselves the title of the trium∣phant Clergy and the triumphant Church, and went up and downe jetting as if they would out-face heaven it self; They feared all men with the High Commission Court. But what shame hath God cast upon this generation? the people loath them, and we hope in time the Lord will sweepe away the proud and haughty of them, as the reffuse of the earth. Yea our whole nati∣on hath been a proud nation;* what vaunting hath there been of what a glo∣rious Church we had? never such a one upon the earth, we sate as a Queen amongst the nations; we have been a haughty people, and God may justly cast contempt upon us. The Jewes were so (the Temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord) but God hath now made them the vilest nation upon the earth. And the truth is, God hath begun to cast much shame upon this nation. The time was when the Kingdom of England was a terror to other people, of late they have been the scorne and contempt of other nations.
Page 498When Ephraius spake there was trembling; he exalted himselfe in Isra∣el, but sinning it Baal he died, he became as a dead, poor, vile, contemp∣tible people. Hos. 13. 1. The Lord loveth to name the pride of men. How many have you known who have been proud and lofty, and the Lord hath cast shame and contempt in their saces? even before those whom they loo∣ked upon heretofore with contempt, they have now been made objects of contempt.
Secondly,* Though a people be under contempt, yet Gods heart may be towards them to doe them good at the latter end. There is the love of Gods election still to this people, God remembers them, and intends good unto them for all this. VVho knowes what contempt God may cast upon us? Perhaps he may let our proud adversaries trample us under their feet, but we hope he will not, because he sees their hearts so proud as they are. But if he should, we should not despaire, we must not conclude God hath quite cast off England, though he should bring all his people under contempt, so as to betrampled under the foot of pride. And if there be any of you whom God hath so humbled as he hath made you contemptible; doe you humble your selves before God, but do not despaire, the Lord may yet have a love to you, though you are now under shame and contempt, who knowes but that this was the only way that God had to humble your hearts? God putteth his ovvn people under contempt, and yet it is all out of love unto them, and vvithan intent to do them good at last.
Thirdly, (which is the most especial note hence) After many promises of Gods mercy and of a glorious condition,* which he intendeth his people, he may yet hold a very hard hand over them a great while, God having pro∣mised so much mercy in the former Chapter, Israel might quickly grow vvanton, and say it is no great matter, though we be vile and wicked, yet God will marry us to himself, and we shall be a glorious people, and what need we take care? Nay saith God stay here, though my heart be toward you,* yet this generation shall suffer, and the next generation, & the next ge∣neration after that shall suffer hard things, you shal be brought into the most vile condition that ever any people was brought into, yet my promise shall be fulfilled at the last. Here we see what care God taketh that people should not grow wanton with his mercy, and think, Oh we are in covenant with God, and God hath pardoned our sins, what need we care? take heed of growing want on, thou maist suffer fearfull things in this world. Though God may save your souls, yet you may be brought into as wofull a condition in your ovvn apprehensions as ever any creature was upon the earth. And for England, though it is true, we have as many arguments of the love of God to 〈◊〉 as ever any nation had, but yet who knows what this generation may suf∣fer that hath so sullied it self with superstitious vanities? We may be brought into vvefullslavery, and then God may raise up unto himself another gener∣ation, upon whom he will be stow the mercy intended.
Fourthly,* Those who will take their fill of delight to the flesh in a sensual Page 499 use of the creature, it is just with God they should be cut short, & be made to live meanly and basely, to be made to feed with course fare, with barley. The Jews had their delicates before, they fared deliciously, now they must be sed worse then their servants, and eare that which was meate for beasts. How many hath God thus dealt withall, who not long since had their tables furnished with the choysest sare, with variety of dishes, & now perhaps are glad of a harley loafe for themselves and their children?
Again,* If God will not utterly destroy a people as he might, but reserve mercy for them at last, though they have never such a meane subsistence for the present, yet they have cause to blesse God. Though this here be a threat∣ning, yet there is a promise in it. The people of Israel (if they knew all) had no cause to murmur at Gods dealing, but to admire at his mercy, though they had but a little barley to sustaine them. And suppose God should bring us in England into a low condition, so as we may be glad of a barley loafe (we know famine commonly followes warre) (it was wont to be a phrase; browne bread and the gospell is good fare) and God may bring that upon us in another way then ever yet we or our fore-fathers were acquainted with, but yet if the Lord do not cast us off utterly from being his people, though he feed us with brown bread, though we have never so mean a subsistance for the present, we shall have cause to blesse his name.
Lastly,* It is the way of God to humble those he intendeth good unto, to prepare them for mercy, by cutting them short of these outward comforts. If the Lord hath dealt so with any of you, you have lived full-handed, per∣haps wives have brought good portions to their husbands, and now they are broke, and all is lost, perhaps you had good friends in the Countrey, & ma∣ny of them are plundered in their estates, & now you are faine to fare mean∣ly, and if you have bread for your children you think it well; but consider this, Is not God now humbling me, and thereby preparing my heart for himself? Oh blessed be God for this my condition, this bread is sweeter to me then all the dishes I have had in my life. VVhen you sit in your houses with your wives and children, and have nothing but barley bread to feed up∣on, have these thoughts, I hope God doth this in love & mercy he is making this my condition the best condition I was ever in, the greatest blessing to me
Verse 3. And I said unto her, thou halt abide for me many dayes, thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man, so will I also be for thee.
You shall not only be in such a low condition as a slave, and worse then a maid servant, and be sed with barley, but you shall abide thus, & abide thus many dayes. Thus they have abode these sixteene hundred yeares since Christs time, besides their former captivity. The Lord would have a full experience of Israel that their hearts were throroughly humbled, before he would take them to mercy again. There was never any people dealt more falsely with God in their humiliations then they had done before. How often when they were in misery did they come with their seeming humiliation & Page 500 cryed for mercy, and God •••wed them mercy, and assoone as they were delivered, they fell off againe and went after their Idols, and then being in misery again, they cryed to God and he delivered them, and then present∣ly to their Idols again; Well, saith God, I will not deale so with you here∣after, I will not trust you so as I have done, you have beene in misery, and I have delivered you when you cryed to me, and then you have fallen to your sins againe, but now you shall be humbled to purpose, you sh•l be •ow ma∣ny yeers in this low and meane condition, and then your hearts ••ll be th•∣rowly broken, so that when you shall returne to me againe, you shall never fall from me. God hath dealt so with many of you, you have been in afflicti∣on, God hath delivered you, you have gone to your sinnes again, you have been in affliction againe, and he hath delivered you, & you have fell to your sins again, and thus you have dallyed with the great God: God may bring a fore & long affliction upon you, that you shall be so thorowly humbled, that you shall never goe back againe to your sins as you have done. This is the meaning, abide many dayes, When we would scoure & purge a filthy gar∣ment thorowly, we do not onely wash it, but wee lay it a soaking a great while, and a frosting many nights; the Jews have lyne a soaking & frostning many hundred yeeres, this is the hardnesse of mans heart, afflictions wil not work presently; though many wedges be put into, & many blows struck up∣on knotty wood, it stirs not: some metals are long in melting, yea though the fire be very hot.
Againe,* Here we see it is Gods ordinary way when he promiseth mercy, to seeme to goe quite contrary to a people, to seem as if he would quite de∣story them. I will marry my self unto them in loving kindness and in mer∣cies, but yet I will let this people be above sixteen hundred yeers in this for∣lorne condition. And so it hath been in all Gods administrations since the beginning of the world.
When God comes to humble sinners, they must be content to be hum∣bled Gods own time, they must not out of a sudden furious humor say, Lord how long? I have been thus long in a sad condition, I have prayed thus long. Is your sadness & affliction eternal? Oh no, a yeer or two perhaps, but you have deserved eternity of misery.
Thou shalt abide for me many dayes, thou shalt not play the harlot, & thou shalt not be for another man, so will I also be for thee. That is, in all this time you must have a care of your self that you do not seek after other lovers, let me have experience that you will now worship the only true God, and I will promise you to stay for you as you do abide for me.
For the phrase, Thou shalt not be for another man. The Hebrew phrase to be to or for another man is to marry, thou shalt not marry another, Ez∣ek. 16. 8. I entred into a covenant with thee and thou becamest mine, fuisti 〈◊〉, thou wort to me, that is, thou wert marryed to me, Levit. 21. 3. A virgi••hich hath no hath and, quae non suit viro, a virgin that w••n to another 〈◊〉. A usefull note may be had from ••nce, That husbands must Page 501 be to their wives, and wives must be to their husbands, that is, live to them; whatsoever thou hast, any knowledge, any parts, any grace, it must be to thy wife, for the benefit of thy wife, & what the wife hath must be to the hus∣band.
You shall abide for me many dayes, and take heed in all this time you doe not depart from me & worship another God: Hence we may observe.
In the time of the sorest affliction and trouble we must then take heed we forsake not God.* Though I use you hardly for a long time, yet you may not thinke to go and shift for your selves any other way. In time of afflicti∣on we must take heed of using shifting wayes, we must not seek to help our selves by false comforts, though trouble continue long. We have an excel∣lent place for that, Psal. 44. 11. Thou hast scattered us amongst the Hea∣thens; and ver. 12, Thou sellest thy people for nanght; and ver. 13. Thou makest us a reproach to our neighbours, & a derision to them that are round about us; & ver. 17. And all this is come upon us, yet have we not forgot∣ten thee, neither have we dealt falsely in thy Covenant; and ver. 19. Thou hast sore broken us in the place of dragons, and covered us with the shadow of death, if we have stretched out our hands to a strange God; as if he should say, God forbid such a thing as this is, though we be in the place of dragons, though we be under reproach, under great affliction; (you may find in that Psalme the most wofull afflicted estate of Gods people described, as in any part of the Booke of God,) yet we have not lifted up our hands to another God. We must not say as King Jehoram, 2 King 6. 30. Why should I waite for the Lord any longer? He seemed to be humbled, and put on sack∣cloth, but he would not be contented to waite for the Lord any longer, but shift for himself. It is that which is in the spirits of men under affliction to thinke, why should I waite for God any longer? I will now seeke to helpe my selfe in my owne way, to shift for my self, The Lord forbid that such thoughts should be in any of our hearts. Sedebis mihi, thou shalt be quiet, though thou doest abide in this sad condition a long while. Esay, 30. 7. their strength is to sit still, and ver. 17. In rest shall ye be saved, in quietnesse and confidence shal be your strength. Alas, thou art now afflicted, where wilt thou mend thy self poor soul? wilt thou go to false gods, to thy former sinful lusts? that is not the way to help thee, thou must abide untill Gods time come that he wil shew mercy to thee, The heart of man is strongly set upon good, and cannot be content to stay Gods time, but if God fubdue thy heart so far as that it is content to abide though never, so long for God, & will not go out to help it selfe in any unlawfull way, this is a good signe that there is much love in the bottom. It is a signe of a strong affection in a woman, when there fall out things that hinder the match between her lover and her self. Well saith she, though there be this and that in the way, though you object never so many things, yet I will have him, I will never marry as long as I live except I have him: This argueth heat & power of affection. So here, I will mar∣ry you unto my selfe, saith God, but I will have you stay for me my time, Page 502 many things are to be done before that day, and then after you have stayed, I will come to you in a glorious manner. As God dealeth with the Jews, so often it is in marrying himself to a particular people.
Thou shalt do it.
God doth not only command them to do it, but it is a promise and a pro∣phesie that they shall doe it. But you will say, how have the people of the •ews abode for God? Thus, they have never to this day chosen any other God, though they have not been convinced of the Messiah, yet ever since the captivity they have hated Idolatry, & that was the thing GOD specially meant in this, thou shalt not have any more Idols, thou shalt choose no o∣ther God, no other husband, though thou hast been very wicked and sinfull this way heretofore (the Jews formerly chose all manner of gods, the gods of the Amorites, and Moabites, and of all the Heathens about them) yet now thou shalt choose no other gods but me; thus far this is fulfilled, to this day the Jews since the captivity have never chose any other God, but have acknowledged the Jehovah to be the only true God, they cannot abide I∣mages. There is a notable history for this in Eusebius, in the 18. Chapter of his Antiquities. Caius Caligula sent one Petronius to set up an Image in the Temple of Jerusalem; divers of the Jewes came to Petronius to plead with him, and said, Sir, what is it that you do? we beseech you do not do it, dep•ive us of our lives first, for say they, it is impossible so long as our soules are in our bodies to abide it, we will all dye first; But saith Petronius, it is the command of the Emperour, and there is no contradicting it, it must be done. They answered, seeing you will not transgresse Caesars command, neither vvill we violate the command of our God, nor are we so fainthearted, or have wee such a vaine desire of the continuance of our lives, as to enjoy them upon such terms to lose the reward of eternall life, that is proposed for the keeping Gods commands. This was their spirit then, and to this day they will not endure Idols; one main thing that hinders the conversion of the Iews is, they being scattered here and there among Papists, and seeing so much Idolatry among them, they are thereby stumbled at Christian Religion, and if God would once pull down Popery, certainely the Jewes would quickly come in, God is now about that. Therefore all of us should assist in what we can to take down all monuments of Idolatry, to make the worship of God more pure, this will be a means to bring about their conversion, and in this regard they have abode for God all this while; this I conceive to be the mea∣ning of the Text.
And I also will abide for thee. VVhat is the meaning of that? First, in their captivity, saith God, though you shal be long in captivity, and in a low condition, be content, do not take any other god to be marryed unto as your husband; I will be content, I will stay, I will have no other people upon the earth but you all the while you are in captivi•y.
But how doth God abide for Israel now? God hath chosen the Gentiles how the• doth he stay for them?
Page 503 Yes certainly, God stayes for Israel to this day, thus. First, all the Gen∣tiles that are called, they come into God, as being joyned to the people of the Jews; God honoured the Jews so farre, as that all the Gentiles that doe come in, are to be made the Israel of God.
But rather further thus, God abides for the people of the Iews to this day, in this sense, God never hath taken, nor never will take to himselfe any Na∣tion upon the earth to be a nationall Church, as the Jewes were, and as it is probable the Jews shall be at their calling again, though God takes the Gen∣tiles that are converted, and severall Congregations to be Churches, but to marry himselfe to a whole Nation, in that way as the Iews were, that is, if a man be born of that Nation, it shall be sufficient to make him a member of the Church, this God did never do since the Iews rejection, and never will do it till the Iews be called again; though God takes Kingdomes, and so in some figurative sense a Nation perhaps may be called a Church, but to speak properly and strictly, to be a Church so as the Iews were, there is no such nationall Church, nor never will be till the calling in of the Iews again; then God will be marryed to that Nation in a more glorious manner then e∣ver, & God abideth to this day for that glory which hee intendeth for Iesus Christ, untill they come in. And this I take to be a great reason why God for the present suffers his Churches to bee persecuted so much as they are, herein God suffers himselfe as well as they; the Church ever since Christs time hath been in a low and persecuted condition, the wicked have prevai∣led; What is the reason? God abideth for this people of the Iews, and hee is pleased himself to undergoe many sufferings, in the mean time do you abide for me, I will be content to suffer much dishonour my selfe, many shall come in to Christ, but yet they shal be a poor contemptible people, the wic∣ked of the world shall prevail against them, shall scorn them, shall contemne them, so that I shall not appear to the world to be their Husband, untill you be called again, I shall be as it were without a wife; but when the time shall come that you shall return to me, then I wi• manifest my selfe indeed, you shall be a most glorious Church, and then there shall be such a full marriage between us, that all the world shall acknowledge it, then they shall all come and say, Come, behold the Bride, the Lambs wife, This is the scope of this Scripture; from whence these Observations.
First,* Husbands should not require of their wives any thing but what they will answerably do for them. God doth so here, Abide for me, saith hee, and I will abide for you, there shall be parpari, like for like. Many husbands will require hard things from their wives, but will doe little themselves; and on the other side wives expect great things from their husbands, but do little themselves. There must be a proportion betweene what the wife expects from the husband, and what shee doth to or for her husband, and so mu∣tually.
2. In our sadde condition God suffereth as well as wee. This may helpe us in our sufferings we should thinke, though wee suffer much, God suffe∣reth Page 504 as much as we,* why then ••ould we think much? the people of the Iews if they had hearts might see it now, God stayes for his honour till they come in. So in all the persecutions of the Church, doth not Christ suffer, in that the great work of Reformation doth not go on? It is true, we are grieved, 〈◊〉 Spirit of God is grieved as well as we, and suffereth as much as we, God •oth as it were abide for us, and stays for his glory. Wee desire (it is true) •hat God would come in and manifest himselfe, then we shall be happy and •ejoyce; but so long as God stays our happinesse, he stays his own glory.
What abundance of glory doth God lose in those praises hee should have, if the Reformation were presently perfected? but God hath other ends, God is content to stay for his prayses, let us be content to stay for what we desire to have, it concerns God to hasten the work as much, yea farre more then it concerns us to desire it, we suffer something for want of it, but God suffers more.
3. That people,* or that soul that endureth hardship a long time for God, and resolveth to reserve it self for him, so as if it cannot have comfort in God it will have none elsewhere, may assure it selfe that God reserveth himselfe for it. Certainly nothing shall take off the heart of God, but there will be a blessed marriage between that soule, that people, and him. Is there ever a poor creature here is in a sad condition, & God seemeth to deal hardly with it, yet hee findeth in himselfe this frame of spirit, well though God seem to leave me, and I am thus desolate, yet if I can have no comfort here, I will have none elsewhere; I wil be content to stay and wait, no creature shal have my heart. It is true, I am not able to guide my selfe, but I am resolved the Devil shal never guide me; I am not able to do the will of God, but I will ne∣ver do the wil of the Devil; and if God should leave me never so long, nay leave me eternally, I wil never have any other husband, I wil rather dye a widow, I wil never let out my self to any; if he doe not come in and marry himself to me, I wil be without comfort as long as I live. Is thy heart in this frame? Peace be unto thee, certainly God intends thoughts of mercy to thy soule, there wil certainly be a marriage betweene God and thy soule. And this frame of heart where it is, oh how wil it help against temptation! when a poor soul is in distresse, and it may be God seemeth to go off further & fur∣ther, I have prayed long and long, and yet God seems not to heare, afflicti∣ons, they prevail; why do you pray any more? why do you come and heare any more? you were as good leave off at first, God wil never come, you were as good take your pleasure for a while, you can but perish at the last: This temptation many times comes very sorely upon poor distressed soules; But now when the heart can answer, it is true, the Lord indeed seemeth to be gone, and I have cause to fear lest he should reject me, but become of mee what wil, yet I wil never have any other husband, never any other comfort but God comfort, no other peace but the peace of God, and I am resolved that if I〈◊〉I wil perish crying for it; if thou beest in this frame waiting for GOD, GOD is waiting for thee in way•• of his mercy, and at 〈…〉 bowels of GODS mercy will yerne towards that, as the Page 505 bowels of Joseph yerned towards his brethren so that he could hold no lon∣ger. You know Joseph for a long time used his brethren hardly, but his bre∣thren yet behaved themseves humbly and submissively toward him, and at length he could not refraine; so it may be God useth thee some what hard∣ly for a while, yet do thou keep in an humble and submissive frame of spirit unto him, do that which beseemeth a creature to do, whatsoever God doth to thee, it is fit God should exercise his absolute power over me, and that I should do my duty to him, do this and be sure thou art a soul that God will marry himself unto in the end.
Fourthly,* So farre as we are willing to be for God, God is willing to be for us. God requires that you should seek him with your whole heart, Jer. 29. 13. Mark how God answereth, I will rejoyce over them to doe them good,*yea I will plant them in this land assuredly with my whole heart and with my whole soule; Will you seeke God with your whole heart? I will do you good saith God with my whole heart. God is as willing to doe for you as you are to do for him, if all the faculties of your souls work toward God,* all the attributes in God shall worke for your good. If thy estate be wholly given up for God, Gods riches shall be wholly for thee. VVouldest thou know how Gods heart works toward thee? do but lay thine hand up∣on thy own heart, according to the beatings of thine heart towards God, so are the workings of the heart of God toward thee; thou mayest determine it thus; thou canst not goe up to heaven to know it, but go into thine owne heart and there thou mayest know. As a man may know by the working of an engine within, how the workings are abroad. That is the reason that the Saints, when they have had their hearts enlarged in prayer, they have come to be resolved what God will do for them or for his Church; as it is said of Luther, when he was in prayer one time more then ordinarily earnest with God, he comes down to his frinds and saith, well it shall goe well with Germany all my dayes, look ye to it afterward: he knew what was done in heaven, by what was done in his own heart. We may know in a great measure what God meaneth to doe with his Churches according to the in∣ward beatings of our own hearts.* Further, See here the happy advantage of the Saints, beyond the men of the world thus: Be you for me saith God, & I will be for you. The men of the world can say, I am for the world, & the world is for me, I am for my honour, and my honor is for me, I am for my whore, and my whore is for me, this is all their happines, but now a Saint can say, I am for God, and God is for me. Oh the goodness of God toward us, that he is willing to be for us as we are for him! for him, alas what can we be for him? we are poor worms, vile creatures in our selves, what can we do? he hath no need of us, we are bound to do all that we do. It is all one as if a king should come to a poor beggar, & say thus, poor man thou hast but little, yet do what you can for me, I will do what I can for you; this were a mighty dis∣proportion: Alas what can the beggar do for the King? If you will but use your staffe or what you have for me, I will use my riches, & glory, and all for your good; Page 506 saith the King to the beggar. So saith God to a poore creature, Be you for me, and I will be for you; stand for me, and I will stand for you; use any thing you have forme, and I will use what I have for you. Oh the blessed condition of the Saints! who would not be for God? Do not now say, a∣las! I am a poore vile and unworthy creature, so were the Jews, do not say I am gone a whoring from God, and dealt falsely with him, the Jews did so, yet saith God, whensoever you will be for me, I will be for you, It is now the great question amongst us, who are you for? I will put the question to you all, who are you for? Are your hearts wholly given up to God, or are you for your lusts for the creature? certainly the creature will deceive you ere long, you will have no good from the creature that now you are so much for; if you be not for God now, hee will send you to the creature in the time of your distresse. There is a time comming that every one of us shall see the need we have that God be for us; let us be for God now, that God may be for us then, when we come to cry to him, and say, Oh Lord, let thy mercy and goodnesse be for us, he will say, who were you for? you were for your lusts, now goe to your lusts, you would have none of me before, I will have none of you now. Pro. 1. 26. 27. You would have none of my reproofe, I also will laugh at your calamity and mock when your feare commeth.
Marke, They would have none of Gods reproofe, hee doth not say, they would have none of my mercy, they would have none of my grace, there∣fore I will laugh at their destruction; but they would have none of my re∣proofe; why? the reproofes of God are the bitterest, the harshest things of all, yet because they would have none of Gods reproofes, he laughes at their destruction. What shall become of them then, who will have none of the riches of Gods grace offered to them in Christ,
The Second Lecture.
HOSEA 3. 4. 5.
For the children of Israel shal abide many dayes without a King, and with∣out a Prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and with∣out an Ephod, and without a Teraphim.
Afterward shall the children of Israel returne, and seek the Lord their God.
HEre is much privation, six withouts, 1. without a King, 2. without a Prince, 3. without a sacrifice, 4. without an i∣mage, 5. without an Ephod. 6. without a Teraphim, but the last verse makes all up, They shall return and seeke the Lord their God, and David their King. These withouts shew the wofull confused estate that Israel was to be in for many dayes, many years, both in regard of their Civill, and of their Church state.
Page [unnumbered] The Civill State, without a King, without a Prince. Their Church, in the four that follow after. Though once they were the happiest people upon the face of the earth both in regard of their Civil and Church estate, yet now they shall be most miserable. This they had brought upon themselves, they had set up their Idols in Dan and Bethel, Dan is the place of judgement, Be∣thel the house of God, so the words signifie; there was abundance of corrup∣tion both in places of judgement, and in the house of God, and now there comes upon them abundance of confusion both in their Civill and in their Church state. They received their order for both from God himself, from heaven, and their Laws as well for Cvill as for Church Government, which no other people yet ever did in the state manner; but they leave Gods insti∣tuions, and so they are brought into all confusion.
They shall be without a King.
How without a King? When they were in captivity, yet they were un∣der a King, the King of Babylon and the Assyrian, and now they are scatter∣ed under the Government of Kings and Princes still where ever they are.
They have Kings over them,* but they have none of their own Nation to be their King, and that is the judgement; Neither are they governed by their own (or rather) by Gods Laws, and for them to be in slavery under Kings, was to them as ill (yea worse) then to have no King at all.
It is a sad condition for a people to be so without a King, to protect them, without a King to maintaine their Laws, their Priviledges and Liberties.
When men reject God from ruling over them, it is just with God to put them under the rule of Tyrants, of Oppressors, of publike enemies unto their state, of destroyers. The blessing of government is very great, if it be right, and therefore the Persians were wont after their Governor dyed to let all the people for five dayes be without any governour at all, that seeing the incon∣venience and mischiefe of being without it, they might the more willingly yeeld themselves under Government, and be obedient to it when they came under it. It is a question among Polititions, whether Tyrannie or Anarchy be the better, Tyrannicall Government, or no Government at all. Though Tyrannie (except it come to a great extremity) may be better then Anar∣chie, yet certainly it is not better then to bring power to be regulated, though it be with some trouble, That power that at first raiseth power, that designes such persons and families to have the power, that limiteth that power, surely cannot want power to regulate that power that it should not be to its owne destruction.
But here it is not onely to be without a King,* but without a Prince too. The word that is here translated Prince, signifieth a Ruler, Judge, or Go∣vernour, and so I finde it often used in Scripture. 1 Chron. 27. 31. All these were rulers of the substance, Princes, the same word that is here used; and Nehem. 3. 9. The ruler of the halfe part of Jerusalem, the Prince. So that by Prince here is meant Judges or any kind of Rulers, they shall be without Prince, without any Judges or Rulers.
Page [unnumbered] Though they had no Kings,* yet if the government had been in the hand of eminent men, of Judges over them, their condition had not beene so sad. Time was (not long before) that their happinesse did not consist in being un∣der the government of Kings, they were in a happy condition before ever these were over them, and the first time that ever they came under their go∣vernment, it was upon their own choice: and so as God professeth they had rejected him, and God sent them their first King in his wrath. Therefore their misery certainly did not depend wholly upon being without a King.
If God restraine not Kings, they often desire to encroach upon the Liber∣ties that the Laws of the Land, the light of Nature, and God himselfe gives Subjects. Plutarch tells us a story of Pyrrhus, who comming to Athens, the Athenians to shew their respect, and to give honour to King Pyrrhus, let him come into their Castle, to sacrifice there, to Minerva, which was a place they were not wont to let strangers into. VVhen he came out of the Castle, he told them that he was much engaged to them for that great fa∣vour; in requitall of which,* hee told them he would give them this good counsell, Take heed, saith he, that you never let King come more into this place; Immitating how easily they may be perswaded to internch upon the liberties of those who come under their power.
And this should abide for many dayes. It did abide for 700. yeares and upward before Christs time in regard of the ten Tribes, for from the sixt of Hezekiab to Christ it was so long, the tenne Tribes never came under any Governour of their owne in all that time: And since Christs time neither Judah nor Israel have had either King or Prince of their own. Oh what a blindness is there upon this people! how dreadfull is that darkness they are now in! That notwithstanding the Prophesie was so cleare, that the scepter should not depart from Judah untill Shiloh came; and yet now they have been without Prince these 1600. yeares, and yet they will not believe that Shiloh is come. Thus when God giveth over to blindness and hardnesse, things that are never so cleare will not be believed.
But their confusion in their Church state is more grievous then the other, They shall be without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an Ephod, and without a Teraphim. Two of these foure, expresse their being deprived of Gods own Ordinances, and the other two their being deprived of their false worship. They made a mixture in worship, they would have their sacrifice & their Ephod, but together with them their image and their Teraphim.* This is mans perversness to make mixtures in Gods worship, they will keep something of that which is Gods, but they will bring in some∣thing of their own too, and that spoiles all. I have read of an Emperour of Rome, that in one Temple he would have Christ and Orpheus worshipped both together. And those who were sent into Samaria by the King of Ba∣bylon, of vvhom we reade, 2 Kings 17. 33. They feared the Lord, and ser∣ved their own gods: but verse 34. it is said, they feared not God, that is, though they would acknowledge the true God, yet they would mix the wor∣ship Page [unnumbered] of Idols with the true God, and so God rejected all, they did not feare 〈◊〉 God at all; It is no feare of God except we feare him onely; it is no worship of God that is accepted, unless we worship him onely. It is true, the Hea∣thens are content with mixture in their worship; you may worship one God, and have the worship of another God mixed with it, because there is not any one of them who challengeth to himselfe to be the universall good, but God being the universall good, he must be worshipped alone without mixture.
There are two things wherein we must take heed of mingling;* The one is in Divine worship, the other is in that great point of Justification. It is as much as our lives are worth to mingle in either of these, we must keep to the Rule very close and strict in these two, rather then in any thing.
These people had both, and God threatens they should be without both; seeing they would not keep themselves fully to his institutions, they should have none at all, they should have neither Gods institutions nor their own.
VVe are this day much like to Israel. In regard of our Civill state, much confusion there is in that, though not altogether so much as was in theirs. And in our Church state wee are very like them; we have neither the right way of worship, nor the false, in regard of the Government of the Church; The false is cast away and profest against, yet we have not the true; Onely here is the mercy of God that we are inquiring after the true, & seeking the Lord, and David our King. The Lord give us hearts to inquire to purpose.
Those who understand the Septuagint, shal finde that they translate these foure here,*Sacrifice, Image, Ephod, and Teraphim, by words that onely signifie the true worship, and therefore for Image they put 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 an Al∣tar, and for the Teraphim〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 Priesthood, and for the Ephod,〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉manifestation; a word used for the Vrim and Thummim. But the Hebrew is other wayes, S•crafice, Image, Ephod, and Teraphim, as in your bookes.
First then to enquire after that which was right, the true worship, Sacri∣fice and Ephod, what that was, and then the other, Image and Teraphim.
Sacrifice. They should have no sacrifice at all, for since their Temple was destroyed they could never have any. That is the reason that they pray with that mighty fervency of spirit that God would build the Temple again, (as I remember I formerly shewed you out of Buxtorfius.) Aedifica, aedifi∣ca, aedifica; cito, cito, cito, Lord build, build, build thy Temple, in our dayes, &c. Because they knew they could have no sacrifice so long as their Temple was downe; And this was a sad condition they were in; this is their lamentable estate to this day, they have not the legall sacrifices, nor that which was typed out by them. There were these three things in their sacrifices.
1. Their tendring up of themselves to God, the shewing their respect to him in that way he required, that was in their Burnt-Offering.
2. Seeking the expiation of sinne, that was in their Sinne-Offer∣ing.
Page [unnumbered] 3. Seeking for mercy and thanksgiving, that was in their Peace-offering.
Now to have no sacrifice in either of these three kinds, that is, to have no∣thing to tender up to the high and blessed God to shew our respect to him; to have no means to expiate our sins when we have offended him; to have no way to seeke to God for mercy when we need, nor to returne praise, this must needs be a sad thing. This the Jews have not for the present, we have Christ who is to us all these, the tendring up of him. to God, is the tendring the greatest respect to God that possibly can be, the tendring of him is the expiation for our sins, it is the seeking of whatsoever mercy we would have, and it is our Eucharisticall sacrifice too for all our mercies.* But those who are without Christ, are to this day without sacrifice, they have nothing to tender up to God. If thou wilt tender up thy estate, thy body, or thy liberty, or thy name, this is no sacrifice acceptable unto God, except thou hast Christ to tender up to him, and canst tender up all in him and through him, then indeed God accepts of these. When thou hast sinned what sacrifice wilt thou offer to God to explate thy sin? all thy prayers, thy teares are nothing, ex∣cept they come with this sacrifice, Jesus Christ; in him indeed a contrite heart is a sacrifice very acceptable to God. But so long as thou art without Christ, the judgement of the Iews is upon thee, thou art without a sacrifice.
And without an Ephod.]
By this he meaneth, first, that they should be without the Priesthood. They should not have any Church Officers, And secondly, they should have no meanes to know the mind of God. That is the scope, which appeares thus.
First, That by the Ephod is meant the Priests, is cleare by that expression 1 Sam. 22. 18. where it is said that Doeg slew four-score & five persons that did we are a limen Ephod, that is, four-score and five Priests.
Secondly, Without the meanes of knowing Gods minde, for the Vrim and the Thummim, was upon the pectorall, upon the breast-plate thas was fastned upon the Ephod; So that when they were without the Ephod, they must needs be without their breast-plate, for the breast-plate was annexed to the Ephod, and could not be used for the knowing the minde of God but onely by applying it to the Ephod, 1 Sam. 30. 7. David said to the Priest, Bring me hither the Ephod, and David inquired at the Lord, saying, shall I pursue after this troope? It was by the presence of the Ephod, that he did enquire vvhat the minde of God was what he should do in this businesse that he was now about, whether he should follow the troope, yea or no. And the Text is very observable in the sixt verse, you may see at what time it was that David was so carefull to make use of the Ephod, to know the minde of God what he should doe, he was in an exceeding distressed condition, for Ziglag his owne City that he had the charge of was burnt, and the men of the City were all in a fretting mood, and talked of stoning him, because the Amalekites had come in his absence & taken away their goods, their wives and children, and burnt the Towne.
Page [unnumbered] This is the condition of men in publique places, if any thing fall out unsucces∣fully, the people are ready in rage to fall upon them; this makes men in pub∣licke places to be in a hard condition, very dangerous and troublesome. We had need pray much for them, we are ready to envy those that are above us, & employed in publique services; but considering what danger they are in, & how every thing that falleth out amisse, otherwise then we desire, the blame is presently laid upon them, their condition is not so happy as we imagine. This was Davids condition, nay the Text saith, that being in this condition, he and the men that were with him wept, so as they had no more power to weep their hearts were so broken, yet in this sad and grievous condition, he encourageth himself in the Lord his God,* and he calleth for the Ephod to en∣quire, and know the mind of God what he should do in it. You shall ob∣serve that this is the first time we read that David in his VVars and Battells called for the Ephod, when he went to Achish, then he did not enquire, when he invaded the Geshurites, and Amalekites before, he did not enquire, but now when he was brought into straits, when his heart was broken, when he was in a weeping condition, now he calleth for the Ephod: VVhen God brings men into straits, and humbles them, then they will enquire of God to purpose. VVe are now about to enquire of God, to know his mind but we are not humbled enough, our straits have not broken our hearts, and perhaps we shall not so readily know Gods mind, God may yet humble us more, and then when we come to enquire Gods mind, it may be to further pur∣pose.
But to open this garment a little.* The word Ephod is that Hebrew word, which signifies to close in, and to compasse about, to gird about, because of the fitting garment to the Priests, and the girding of it about them. There were divers sorts of these Ephods, one peculiar to the high Priest, that you have Exod. 28. 6. Others that the ordinary Priests had, that you have in the former places I named about the fourscore and five Priests slain by Doeg;* A third was common for the ordinary Levites, thus Samuel, 1 Sam. 2. 18. ministred before the Lord girded with a linnen Ephod. And there was a fourth that other people did we are in their holy actions, especially before Kings, David danced before the Lord, girded with a linnen Ephod, 2 Sam. 6. 14. And to this day the Jewes have a kind of linnen garment, but not of the fashion of our Ephod, but some little kind of resemblance to it, they wear it upon their heads, and so downward. VVhen Alexander came to Jerusalem, I addus the high Priest came with all his Priestly garments to meet him, which caused him to fall down, prostrating himselfe before him, out of reverence to him; Iosephus tels us in that story, that the people came with white garments, garments that had some kind of resemblance to this E∣phod: Iosephus saith that this Ephod was a garment but of a cubite long, on∣ly covering the shoulders and the breast, open above and on either side, and girt about the breasts; others make it a longrobe, reaching down to the very feet, But there was a robe beside the Ephod, the Ephod was over another robePage [unnumbered] so Christ appeared unto John, Rev. 1. 13. Cloathed with a garment downe to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle, like the Priests, for so they were wont to be arrayed; And Revel. 15. 6. the Ministers of the Churches called by the name of Angels, are described, cloathed in white lin∣nen, having their breasts girded with golden girdles; not girt about their loynes, but about their breasts, near their hearts. That which makes Mini∣sters of the Gospel ready prepared for the work, is the girdle of truth, and this must be about their hearts; if their owne plottings and self-ends shall gird them, that is, put them on to a readiness to do what may serve for those ends; this girdle is not the golden girdle, but like that rotten girdle of Jeremiahs, Chap. 31. 7. that was profitable for nothing.
This garment of the Ephod was a holy garment then, and others must take heed of medling with such garments, or of seeking to imitate to make the like garments. We read of Gideon, Judges 8. when God had given him a great victory over the Midianites, he would imitate this Ephod, of the spoil he had gotten of the Midianites, he made a rich and glorious Ephod, but the Text observeth that thing proved to be the destruction of Gideons house, for the people went a whoring after it; he made it with a good intention to testi∣fie his thankfulnesse to God for his victory, not thinking that ever it should be worshipped. It is a dangerous thing for governours to imitate Gods or∣dinances in garments or the like, and to preserve them amongst people, though it be with never so good an intention, their good intention will not excuse them; Gideons presumption in making an Ephod, in imitation of the Ephod appointed by God proved to be the destruction of his house, yet this was Gideon who a little before had destroyed the altar of Baal, though he was so much against Idolatry before, yet now he doth that which furthereth Ido∣latry: so many Governours, if they take not heed, they may pull down one kind of false worship, and set up another.
The Iewes have many mysteries about this garment, it would weary you to hear them. I shall only observe that which is most usefull for you, wee must not read the books of the old Testament, as if they concerned us not. First, upon the shoulders of the Ephod there were set ranks of precious stones, upon them were in graven the names of the twelve Tribes according to their generations:* And in the middle of the Ephod upon the breast-plate, which was to be four-sq•are, there were four rowes of precious stones, upon those likewise were ingraven all the names of the Tribes of Israel, & he bore them upon his heart. There is much to be observed in this.
First, Let the Tribes be what they will be in themselves, though never so mean, yet upon the Ephod they were precious stones. The Priest wearing the Ephod was a type of Christ; let those who are godly, be never so meane in themselves, yet in Christ God looks upon them as precious stones.
Secondly,* These precious stones that were upon the shoulders of the Ephod are called a memoriall, Exod. 28. 12. that was to signifie Christ, bearing the names of all the Saints before his Father for a memorial, those 12, tribesPage [unnumbered] presenting all the Churches that should be unto the end of the world. When God remembers his Church, it is thorow Christ; God never remembers his Church, but it is by Christ carrying it before him, that is the comfort of the Saints; therefore he can never remember them to revenge himself upon them, for he never thinketh of them but only as Christ presenteth them unto him.
And further, A memoriall (say the Jewes) not onely because the Priests were to beare the names of the twelve Tribes ingraven in those stones for a memoriall before the Lord, but to signifie that the Priests themselves were to remember to pray for the Tribes.
And thirdly, A memoriall to signifie that both the Priests and all the peo∣ple were to remember their godly Ancestors and Predecessors, and to fol∣low their vertues, and not to be any dishonour unto them.
But the first is the chiefe, these precious stones with the names of the tribes were first upon the shoulder, and then upon the heart: upon the shoulder, this notes that Christ carryes his Church upon his shoulder, hee beares the burthen of his Church, all their weight, all their afflictions upon his shoul∣der, the shoulder of Christ standeth under the Churcher, certainly therefore they shall never sinke.
But may they not be so burthensome to Christ as that he may shake off his burthen? No, therefore he hath them upon his breast-plate too as well as upon his shoulder, there was upon the breast-plate in the middest of the E∣phod the names of the twelve Tribes, Christ carryes the memoriall of his Churches at his heart as well as upon his shoulders, & that makes Christ put his shoulders to the good of the Churches because they are so neare his heart. An infinite comfort it is in the spirituall meaning of this Ephod that belongs to all the godly, Christ night and day hath thee upon his shoulder, and upon his heart as a precious stone before God the Father. This one thing further is observable about it, you shall finde if you reade that place in Exodus, that the names of the twelve Tribes were to be ingraven upon these stones in or∣der according to their birth, now in Revel. 21. the twelve Apostles who in regard of their Doctrine are made the twelve precious stones of the founda∣tion of the new Jerusalem, you shal reade that they are all the very same pre∣cious stones by name excepting four, and those foure I finde that Interpre∣ters think to be the same that the other were, only with different names, for precious stones either in regard of the places where they are found, or in re∣gard of their quality or colour carry divers names, so that it is very probable that those precious stones in Rev. were the same with these in Exo. but there we do not finde that they are set according unto any dignity of one Apostle before another, as they were in the setting of the names of the Tribes, for the first precious stone that was to be set of the foundation of the new Ierusalem, of the glorious Church that should be, it is the stone of Benjamin who was the youngest; And if there might be any mystery in it, we may think it signifies thus much, at least we may make use of it by way of allusion, that the Lord wil Page [unnumbered] use of the young ones of this generation, who shal make way for the new Je∣rusalem before any of the other tribes; God will cull out them to the first stone of the foundation of that glorious Church. In that we find there was not such order set of the Apostles as was of the Tribes, we are taught that Christ would not have us look upon the Apostles as one above another; therefore you shall find the Apostles are never named in one and the same order; in one Evangelist they are set down in one order, and in another, in another, as Mat. 10. Mar. 3. Luc. 9. so Act. 1. In all these they are named in a different order, noting thereby that there is no superiority nor inferiority in the Ministers of the Gospel.
Upon the Ephod there was likewise the Vrim and Thummim. It is very hard to tell you what this Vrim and Thummim was, it costs a great deal of time to find out what men think it was, and if I should tell you the variety of the guesses of men about this, it would be tiresome unto you and me. Aust∣in in his 117. question upon Exod. In venire quid sint deficile, what this V∣rim and Thummim was, it is hard to find, and Cajetan saith, none ever yet explained what it was, and they tell us that even the Rabbins themselves say, the Jewes were very ignorant of this.* But most probable one of these two, especially the latter. Some think that they were some stones set in the breast∣plate, which by their brightness or darknesse did give an answer to what they demanded of God, that is thus; when the high Priest went to demand of God what was to be done in any great and publique affairs, hee presented this breast-plate with these stones before the Lord, and if God would give an affirmative answer, the stones gave a more then ordinary brightness and lustre; but if he would give a negative answer, then the stones were darker then they were before; but we are not certain of this, we may rather conclude upon the other, viz. that the Vrim and Thummim, (though we know not what matter they were made of, no more then we know what Manna was made of) it was somwhat that God gave Moses to put into the breast-plate, which by him was appointed as an ordinance which was to be presented be∣fore the Lord by the Priest when they would know the mind of God, & when this was presented before the Lord, God did then usually give an answer to the Priest, either by an audible voyce, or by secret inspiration, yet not always tying himself to give it thus; for we find in Scripture, somtimes God did not give an answer when he was sought by Vrim and Thummim, as when Saul enquired of God by Vrim & Thumim there was no answer from God; and it is like Josiah would not have sent onely to Huldah the prophetesse if hee could have had answer by Vrim and Thumim; but when God pleased he would give an answer this way.
The word Vrim & Thummim signifies light and perfection, some would make it to signifie the knowledg and integrity of life that is to be in Ministers, but I rather think the meaning is, that they were bright precious stones which were of a great perfection, and fit to doe that which God did appoint them for. The Septuagint calls this 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, the Oracle. Hence 1 Pet. 4. 11 Let 〈◊〉 speak 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as the Oracles of God.
Page [unnumbered] Now this must be upon the breast-plate of the Priest, which the Priest making use of, thereby the people came to know the minde of God. This was to signifie that we must look for the mind of God by Christ.* It is Christ who is come from the Father to reveale his counsels to us; if we look to have the mind of God any other way but through him, we are mistaken. And further, this Vrim and Thummim, this breast-plate of judgment, was to be upon the heart of the high Priest, and that when he went in before the Lord, as Exod. 28, 30. There are two notable morall observations to be observed from thence.
First,* The answer that any Minister of God in the name of Christ should give his people, should be such an answer as should lie at his very heart, hee must speak nothing but his very heart unto them; when he would answer any case of conscience, or make known any thing of the mind of God, his an∣swer must lie at his heart.
Secondly,* It must be as in the presence of the Lord, it must be as before God, he must consider in whose place he standeth to answer as from God, from the great Prophet of the Church.
It is a great judgment threatned to be without Vrim and Thummim, see∣ing it was of so great use to them. And this should be for many dayes. Jo∣sephus saith, that they were without this two hundred years before he wrote his Antiquities, that was an hundred and five years before Christ; but it ap∣pears that they had no Vrim and Thummim long before that time, for at their return from captivity, Ezra 2. 63. the Tirshatha, that is, the Ruler, said unto them, that they should not eate of the most holy things till there stood up a Priest with Vrim and Thummim, therefore they had not then a Priest with Urim and Thummim, they expected to have one, but whether e∣ver they had one after it is not know. This was the reason of that complaint of Asaph, Psa. 74. 9. We see not our signes, there is no more any Prophet, nei∣ther is there any among us that knoweth how long; that is a grievous com∣plaint. Now it is like that Psalme was made about the very time of their re∣turn from captivity; for Ezra 2. 41. Asaph is named among those that came to Jerusalem from the captivity, The singers, the children of Asaph, an hundred twenty and eight. But let it be then or after, by this Psalme wee may finde that it was a very lamentable complaint to be without Urim and Thummim.
The result of all is,* that it is a grievous thing to the Saints, that in the time of their strait they dono• know Gods mind. At any time when God brings his people into straits, yet if they can know the mind of their God, they are refreshed and encouraged; but when they shall seeke to know Gods minde, and the Lord resuseth to discover it to them, this is a sad condition indeed.
I find one note more of Jeroms about their being without an Ephod. We may observe, saith he, the hardness of the hearts of the Jews, that they should be so many hundred years without sacrifice and without Ephod, without the true worship of God among them, and ways to know Gods mind, and 〈1 page duplicate〉Page [unnumbered]〈1 page duplicate〉Page [unnumbered]〈1 page duplicate〉Page [unnumbered]〈1 page duplicate〉Page [unnumbered]Page [unnumbered] yet they are not guilty of any greater sin then the sin of Idolatry, except it be of the killing of JESUS CHRIST, that they should not reason thus,* what sin is it that thus provokes God against us more then ever he was provoked? Surely there is some greater sinne then ever yet we have committed; but saith he, they can never finde any other offence, beside the killing of Christ, to be a greater offence then Idolatry, and yet they have a greater judgement upon them then ever they had, though they are not guil∣ty of that sinne as they were formerly; surely were they not extreamly hard∣ned, they would be convinced that all this is because of our rejecting & cru∣cifying Christ the Son of God.
As they had the Ordinances of God, so they had wayes of false worship of their owne, Images and Teraphim. I must shew you what those were, and then how it is a threatning that they should be without those.
Image,* That seemeth to refer to the two calves they had set up in Dan & Bethel, which they so much gloryed and rejoyced in, they should be taken away.
Teraephim, that likewise should be taken away. Now if you aske what this Teraphim was? in the general, Taraph is a divining image;* as the Ephod was Gods Ordinance to know the minde of God by, so the Teraphim was a way of the Devil, an idolatrous way to know things that were to come. It was an Image made after this fashion, so I finde those that write of it tell us, The Teraphim was the image of the head of a man wrung off his body, salted and bespiced with precious spices,* and then upon this head there was a plate of gold with the name of that spirit they would divine by, (or, as some) the name of the uncleane spirit was to be put un der the tongue of this head, and this being set upon a wall, there were burning candles and incense offered to it, and that under the constellation of some star, and so enquiring to know something that was to come, by it the devill was used to answer, and to tell them of such things as were to come; it was an oracle of the devil that told them what successe they should have in this or the other businesse; sometimes it hit right. See the superstition of the Jewes; they desired much to know the minde of God, now because they were afraid they should not know all by the Ephod, which was the ordinance of God, they would joyne with the Ephod, the Teraphim. From hence there is this profitable note. It is a very great and fearfull evil for men in search∣ing to know any thing of Gods mind, not to keep themselves to Gods ways of knowledg, to Gods own Ordinances.
Page 517 It concerneth us much now at this day. We are about enquiring the mind of God, that wee may know it about matters concerning the Common∣wealth, but more especially about Religion, I suppose there is none of us but will acknowledge that way that God hath appointed for the revealing of his will in the Scripture; that we must look into the Scripture, and seek to know Gods minde there; that is good, but let us not joyne Teraphim with it; then do we joyne Teraphim, when we rest not upon Scripture alone, but search after rules of mans devising, and what will stand with our own carnal ends. The Lord may justly meet with us in wrath, if we presume to joyne our Te∣raphim with his Ephod. Pray that at this day where there is so much search∣ing after Gods mind, that those who are employed in it, may keepe them∣selves to the Ephod, to the Scriptures, to that which is Gods Ordinance for the revealing his minde, that they may not joyne the Teraphim, their own fancies and inventions of men with the Scriptures; so long as we keepe to that rule, we may hope to do well enough; but if the Teraphim be joyned with the Ephod, if any thing be joyned with the Scriptures, though it may seeme to be never so rationall, we have cause to feare God will leave us.
We finde this word Teraphim used sometime in Scripture for the image of any man: as 1 Sam. 19. 13. when Michael took an image, and laid it in the bed instead of David, the word in the Hebrew is Teraphim: so when Rachel stole away her fathers images, the word is, she stole away her fathers Teraphim, and some thinke they were her fathers Divining Images, & that she did rather steale those then any others, because she would not have her father Divine which way they were gone. Zachar. 10. 2. it is said the Idols have spoken vanity; the word is the Teraphim. By which we may see they were wont to aske of their Idols about their successes. And sometime wee find in Scripture that Idolatry is called by this name, as 1. Sam. 15. 23. stub∣bornnesse is as Idolatry, the word is, is as Teraphim.
But here comes in the question,* God threatneth to take away the Sacri∣fice and the Ephod, that plainly is a threatning, but how is this a part of the threatning to take away the Image & the Teraphim? You may understand it as a threatning by this similitude; It is as if God would threaten to bring Israel into such a desolate condition as a strumpet is brought into, not only when all her friends leave her which were her kindred, her true friends, but when all her lovers leave her too, even those who were filthy with her, those who pretended the most love to her, in whom she took abundance of com∣fort, and from whom she expected protection; yet now she is brought into such a condition, as she sitteth desolate, for lorne and helplesse: So shall ye be, saith God, your Sacrifice and your Ephod, yea and Teraphim shall leave you.
Or rather thus, Howsoever it is a mercy for God to take away false wor∣ship from a people, Images and Teraphim, yet in this regard it comes in a way of threatning, because it would crosse and vex them to bee de∣prived of these Images and Teraphim, it would bee a Judgement in Page 514 their apprehension: As for instance, what a deal of stir have we with people, when they conceive that any false worship shall be taken away from them, they think they are undone in it; when the inventions of men in Gods wor∣ship are but questioned, what a do is there! men think their gods are taken a∣way; as Judges 18. when the children of Dan came to the house of Micah, and took away his Ephod and his Teraphim, he cryed out after them, Yee have taken away the gods that I have made, and what have I more? what worse thing could you have done more? I had rather you should have taken away all I had, and yet you say unto me, What aileth thee? Is it not so at this day? What is it that now breedeth such disturbance in England at this time, but that people thinke their Teraphim shall bee taken from them? whereas they have heretofore worshipped God in a false way, after the in∣ventions of men, and now God is pleased to discover light, and thereis an enquiring after the government of the Church in the right way, and the true manner of worshipping God, they are even mad upon this, and would ra∣ther lose their lives and their estates, then their Teraphim should be taken a∣way; let that be taken away, and how shall they be able to pray? what, will you take away their Religion?* This is the language of men in many igno∣rant places in this Kingdome, yea, the very language of many even amongst us here, they are verily perswaded that the Parliament are intended to take away all Religion in the Kingdome, and such principles the adversaries go a∣bout to infuse into men, that the Parliament are a company of Brownists, meerly because they goe about to enquire after the true way of worshipping God, and would have the Land purged of all superstitious vanities; Thus people cry out for their Teraphim, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. You may read the like in the history of the life of king Edward the sixth, when he had but banished the Masse, there was an Army rose in Devonshire, and they sent severall Articles unto the King about their grievances, as causes of their rising;
First, they said that their children were denyed to be baptized, as now they cry out that none but a company of Anabaptists doe all this; the Popish Priests did then infuse into the people that were in those remote Countryes, that they were to have no more children baptized, thinking this would exas∣perate the people then against King and Parliament: And then they com∣plained that their Service was taken from them (meaning the Masse) King Edward was fain to write to them, to tell them that they were exceedingly abused, that they should still enjoy what was according to the word of God, that their children should be baptized; and for the Masse, saith he, the Com∣mon-prayer Book is that Masse the same that it was before, only whereas it was in Latin before, now it is turned into English, and so he quieted the peo∣ple of that Countrey. Thus it comes to be a threatning, that God will take a∣way their Image and Teraphim, because the hearts of people are so vexed when their superstitious ways are taken away. Now upon this confusion, when they are without King, Prince, Sacrifice, Ephod, Image and Tera∣phim,Page [unnumbered] when all is come to this confusion, then comes the time that they shal return and seeke tho Lord their God, and David their King.
When Gods time is come to raise the most glorious Church that ever was in the world,* a little before that there is like to be the greatest confusion that ever was in the world: Lactantius (I have made use of before in speaking of the first Chap. Great shall be the day of Jezreel) tels us, that just before the glorious Church (he speaks of it at large, in lib. 7. c. 15. 24. & 28.) all right shall be confounded, Laws shall perish, men shall possesse all things by force, good men shall be scorned & contemned: and though these times, saith he, wherein we live be naught, so that one would thinke that wickednesse were grown up to the height, yet in comparison of those evill dayes that shall be a little before this glorious time, these days may be called the golden age. God will bring all into a Chaos first, as he did in the first Creation, & then bring a glorious building out of that Chaos. We know the raising of that glorious Church that is so much prophesied of, is called a creation, a creating a new heaven and a new earth; and it is probable enough, that as the heavens and the earth were first made out of a Chaos, so those new heavens and new earth that God is about to make, will be raised out of a Chaos, out of that which seemeth to us to be but confusion. VVhat do people cry out of at this day but of confusion? all things they say are brought into confusion: It is true, confusion is an evill thing, and we are to grieve for it, and to seek to pre∣vent it, yet let us not be too much troubled, for you see when the greatest con∣fusion comes upon the people of the Jewes, then follows the greatest mercy, then they shall return and seeke the Lord their God, never return before that time. Indeed till men be taken off from all, they will not return to God, if they have any thing to go unto, they will never return to God. VVhen Saul had but a witch to go to, he would rather go to her, then seek the face of God in way of repentance. Let not this be our way, because God seems to leave us for the present, and letteth us be in a confusion, and we know not what to do, let not our hearts fiet and vex, let us not go to unlawful means; For mark, it was just a little before Sanl was to be destroyed that he was growne to that height of evill. There was a time that Saul did enquire after Gods mind, and God refused to answer him, but yet hee would not take such an unlawfull course then, but he searched to see whatsin was amongst the people that cau∣sed God to refuse to give him an answer, so you have it in the case of Jona∣than, 1 Sam. 14. 33. when he took the honey, he enquired of God, and God answered not, and Saul said, draw neere and see wherein this sin hath beene this day. But afterward he grew to a greate• height of evill, when he was in a strait, and God answered him not, presently he goeth to the witch, but it was when he was near destruction.
The note from thence is,* VVicked men neare destruction (as Saul was) finding things in a confusion, and God not shewing them what is to be done, presently are in a rage against God, then they frer, and seeke after unlawfull means to help them. The Lord forbid that this should b• our condition. Let Page 520 not us say, things are now in such a confusion that we know not how to find out the mind of God, we consult with Ministers and they know not what to say, they have cast out such a government, and they know not what to bring in, and therefore it were better we were as before. If this should be our tea∣soning, it is a signe we are like Saul nigh to destruction. Let us be content to wayte, they shall be many dayes without a King, &c. and then they shal re∣turn; this shall be the fruite of being without a King, and Prince▪ & Ephod, and Sacrifice, not vexing and raging, but returning to God and repenting. It things be worse, & we be brought into greater straits then ever we thought of, let us not murmur, but let us repent. Every one is complaining, but who is repenting? If there were as much repenting as there is murmuring, then we should soone know the minde of God.
Then they shall returne.
Here is the use of sanctified affliction, it is to cause returning to God. Jerome expresses the life of an impenitent sinner by a line stretched out,* he goes saith he from the center in a right line, and so goes in infinitum from it, but a penitent sinner is like a line bent, and turning back to the center, though by sin he goes from it, yet by repentance he turnes to it again, they are gone from me a great way saith God, but I will give them a turne, they shal bend back again and return to me. They shall returne.
Repentance is set out by this vvord,* to note the folly of sinne. In sin thou goest out of the way, and the truth is though you thinke you choose a good way for your self, yet you must either come back again or perish. It is just like a man travelling in a rode, and he sees a dirty lane before him, which he is told is the way, he must goe there, but on the other side of the hedg he seeth a green and pleasant vvay, and he gets over into that way, and so perhaps rides on a mile or two, at length he is compast about with ditches and rivers so that he must either return back or else lie there & starve, he returnes back, with shame, and if any one that before told him of the other way see him, he tells him now of his folly, I told you that the other was the way, and that if you went over the hedge you must come back again: So it is with sinners, there are wayes of God that go directly to heaven, but because those wayes are rugged, and they meet with trouble and persecution in them, & they see by-ways that leade to hell that are more plaine & smooth, they get over, they will transgresse, (for that is the word for sinne) they are got over, now they are merry & sriske up and down for a while in this fine way; but friend you must come backe again, and if ever you mean to be saved, you must goe in the way that you have refused.* Further, they shal return and seeke the Lord their God. Here is an encouragement for old sinners. The Jews have been above 1600. years in this wofull condition, for saking God, but in their latter dayes they shall returne and seeke the Lord, and God shall be mercifull to them. Hast thou been forty, fifty, sixty years going from God? there is hope for thy soul, Oh returne, return you old sinners,
But further,*〈◊〉 shall return to Jehovah, and seeke him, Jer. 4. 1.
Page 521If thou wilt returne O Israel, saith the Lord, return unto me. They shal not return from one false way of worship to another, but from the false way to the true, they shall return to God. It is that we had now need look unto. We must not think it enough to cast one false way of government out of the Church, and turn to another, though not so ill yet not Gods, if out of any po∣liticke pretence we reject the way of God it will prove a sore evil unto us, it is one thing not to be able to bring in the way of Christ, and another to re∣ject it,
They shall seek Jehovah, not their Idols, but God himself. The word signifies conatu ac studio quaerere, to seek with endeavouring, with study ra∣ther then meerly to ask and enquire, they shall be studious in asking after God. They shall seek the Lord, that is,
First, They shall seeke his face and favour for the pardon of all their evill wayes, they shall come and acknowledge their false wayes and their doings which have not been good, and seek mercy for pardon.
Secondly, They shall seek the Lord, that is, they shall seeke the true wor∣ship of the Lord. Calvin in a Sermon upon that place Seeke ye my face, in∣terprets it to be seeking the Ordinances of God, the true worship of God, so Psal. 105. 4. Seeke the Lord & his strength, what is meant by the strength of God there? It is the Arke, for that Psalme was made at the bringing in of the Arke into the place that David had prepared, as you may see by com∣paring that Psalme with the 1 Chron, 16. the Arke of God is called the strength of God, Psal. 78. 61. He gave his strength into captivity. Surely if the true worship of God be the strength of God, it is our strength too, a people are then strong when they entertaine the Arke of God, the true wor∣ship of God, and then indeed we seeke God aright when we seeke to know the way of his worship.
Lastly,*They shal seek the Lord, that is, they shall seeke to know his will in all their wayes, and to do it. It is not enough for them to be content to do just that which shall be put upon them, but they shall seek to know what his minde & his worship is. Some yeeld thus far to God, if any come to them and convince them that this is to be done, then they will do it, they dare not then but yeeld to it; but when the heart is in a true repenting frame, it is then in a seeking frame, it is laborious and industrious to know the mind of God. Whereas the heart of a sinner heretofore lay dead & dull, never stirred after God, now it is in a stirting, in an inquiring, in a seeking way, this is a signe of much good: though thou hast not what thou seekest for, yet be comfor∣ted in this that thou art in a seeking way, Their hearts shal re•oyce that seeke the Lord. If thou beest seeking God in his ways, though thou complainest, I have beene seeking a long time, but I know not the minde of God, I can∣not apprehend the love of God, the pardon of my sins, yea, but the hearts of those shall rejoyce that seek the Lord, if thou beest in a seeking way thou art in a saving way, there is cause thou shouldst rejoyce in this, that God hath brought thee into such a way.
Page 522They shall seeke the Lord, and that not saintly but to purpose, auxiously, Jer. 50. 4. 5. They (the children of Israel, and the children of Judah, when they shall be both together) shall goe weeping, and seeke the Lord their God, and they shall aske the way to Zion with their faces thitherward. Many of you come to aske questions, but your hearts are not right, your faces & the strength of your spirits are not set to yeeld to the will of God when it is re∣vealed to you. And mark how it appeares that their faces are thitherward, Come (say they) let us joyne our selves to the Lord in a perpetual Covenant that shall not be forgotten. This is to seeke God, it is not meerly to goe to a Minister and aske him a question, but it is to goe with our faces, with the strength of our spirits set to know the minde of God above any thing in the world, and so to resolve to obey what shall be revealed to be Gods mind, as to be willing to enter into a perpetual Covenant, to binde our selves to yeeld to whatsoever God shal reveale. When you come to a Sermon, you must not come to get a little notional knowledge, but come with your faces to∣wards Christ and his truth, before you come you should get alone (if you be a true seeker) and enter into Covenant with God, that whatsoever God re∣vealeth to be his minde you will yeeld to it & obey it, though you have here∣tofore gone against many truths revealed to be the minde of God, but Lord no more now, here I am ready and willing to enter into an everlasting cove∣nant to be under the command of every truth. Here is the right seeking of God. They shall seeke the Lord their God; [their God] this hath two references, either to what is past, or to what is to come. To what is past, their God, that is, the God who was once the God of the Jews, the God of their forefathers, the God of Abraham. of Isaac, and of Jacob. And se∣condly, their God, that is, that God that is yet ready and willing to be re∣conciled to them, not withstanding all their sinnes. Thus they shal seek the Lord their God. These two references afford two excellent Observations.
First,* This prevailes much with the heart of an Apostate, when he can but think what God was once unto him before he did Apostatize, and what he was unto his godly parents and predecessors. There was a time that I en∣joyed God sweetly, when I went to prayer I had blessed communion with him, it is otherwise with me now, I have apostatized. Let this considerati∣on catch h•ld upon thy heart and turn it this day; Oh turne, turn thou apo∣state soul. God who was once thy God in a gracious manner is that God that thou hast vilely forsaken, yea thy fathers God also. Thou hast a godly fa∣ther, a godly grand-father, remember what a blessed God he was unto them, and return.
Secondly,*Their God, that God that yet they may have hope to enjoy, notvvithstanding all their departings from him. Hence the note is this, The apprehension o• a possibilty to obtaine mercie from the Lord, is a strong means to draw the heart to returne to him; when they look upon God as a God in covenant with them yet, and there is nothing to the contrary but he may be their God. Let this be an argument to catch hold upon the spirits Page 523 of all sinners who are departed from God, thou hast departed from God in a soule and vile manner, but Men and Angels know nothing to the contra∣ry but that he may be thy God for all this. Let me speake to the vilest sinner that is in this place before the Lord this day, thou hast indeed most despe∣rately and wickedly sinned against God, the Jews have done so; Hast thou crucified Christ? they have done so; hast thou denied the truth and follow∣ed false waies? they have done so; Notwithstanding all thy wicked and e∣vil waies, seeing thou art yet alive, I doe this day yet once more pronounce thee in the name of the great God, that there is nothing to the contrary that either Angels or Men can possibly know, but that God may be thy God, and that this day God may enter into covenant with thee, & thou with him, this night he may come in and sup with thee, and thou with him, there may be a blessed reconciliation between God and thee, return, return thou sinful soul.
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]