The fixed saint held forth in a farwell sermon preached at Mary-Aldermanbury, London, August 17, 1662
Calamy, Edmund, 1600-1666.
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Mr. Calamies FAREWELL SERMON. August 17•h Ann. Dom. 1662.

Sam. 24. 14.
And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait; let us fall now into the hand of the Lord (for his Mercies are great) and let me not fall into the hand of man.

IN which words we have three parts.

1. Davids great perplexity and di∣stress, I am in a great strait.

2. Davids resolution.

1. Affirmative▪ Let us fall into the hand of the Lord. Page  [unnumbered]〈1 page duplicate〉Page  [unnumbered]〈1 page duplicate〉

Page  2 2. Negative, Let me not fall into the hands of man.

3. We have the reason of Davids choice, For the mercies of God are great, the mercies of wicked men are cruel, therefore let me not fall into the hands of men; but the mercies of God are many and great, therefore let us now fall into the hands of God.

1. For the first, that is, Davids great distress, where∣in we must speak.

  • 1. To the distress it self: Then
  • 2. To the person thus perplexed, I am in a great strait: David a great man, David a godly man.

1. In the perplexty it self, we shall consi∣sider:

  • 1. The reality of this perplexity.
  • 2. The greatness of it.

1. For the reality of it: after David had sinned in numbring the people, God sends the Prophet Gad to him, and puts three things to his choice, as you may read in ver. 12. God was determined to make Da∣vid smart for numbring the people, but leaves it to Davids liberty, whether he would have seven years famine, or three months to flee before his enemies, or three dayes pestilence: this was a posing Question, Page  3 and David had cause to be in a great strait; for these objects are not amiable in their own nature, they are objects to be avoided and declined; in the first view of them they seem to be equally misera∣ble, therefore David had cause to say he was in a strait.

This perplexity was not only real, but exceeding great: I am in a great strait: and there are two things made this so great.

1. The greatness of the punishments proposed, Famine, Sword, and Plague: these are the three besomes with which God sweeps mankind from off the earth: these are Gods three iron whips, by which he chastiseth sinful man: these are the three arrows shot out of the quiver of Gods wrath, for the pu∣nishment of man, they are, as one calleth them, Ton∣surae humani generis. In Revel. 6. you shall read of four Horses, when the four first Seals were open∣ed: a white horse, a red horse, a black horse, and a pale horse: after Christ had ridden on the white horse propagating the Gospel, then follows the red horse, a type of War, then the black Horse, an Hie∣roglyphick of Famine; then the pale horse, the em∣blem of Pestilence. Now God was resolved to ride on one of these horses, and David must choose upon which God should ride; this was a great strait: Let me present Davids lifting up his eyes to Heaven, and speaking to God thus: O my God, what is this mes∣sage thou hast sent me? Thou offerest me three things: I am in a strait, I know which to refuse, but Page  4 which to choose I know not: shall the Land of Canaan, a Land flowing with milk and honey, shall this Land endure seven years famine, and be turn∣ed into a wilderness, and dispeopled? and shall I, whose hands thou hast taught to fight, and whose fingers to war, shall I that have subdued all my enemies, shall I in my old age, and all my Cap∣tains, fly three moneths before our enemies and be driven to Caves and Rocks to hide ourselves? O thou my God, who art my refuge, shall I and my people be a prey to the pestilence that walketh in darkness and destruction, that walketh at noon day? O my God, I know not what to do, I am in a great strait.

2. The second reason why this strait was so great, was because of the guilt of sin that lay on Davids spirit: for David knew that this severe message was the fruit of the sin he committed in numbring the people: but you will say, why was it a sin in David to number the people? Moses had often numbred the people, three times, and it was not counted sin; Iosephus answereth, the sin of David was, because he did not require the halfe Shackle he was to have had from all were numbred Exod. 30. 12. 13.

Others said, he sinned in numbring all ages, whereas he was to number but from 20 years; but these are but conjectural reasons: I conceive the sin of David was because he did it without a lawful call, and for an unlawful end, sie causa Legitima: he sinned in the manner rather then in the matter; for Page  5 there was no cause for him to number the people but curiosity, and no end but vain glory: go through all the tribes ofsrael and number the people, that I may know the number of my people, ver 2. Davids heart was lifted up with pride, and creature-confidence; he begins to boast of the multitude of his people, and to trust in an arm of flesh; therefore God sends the Prophet to David to prick the bladder of his pride: as if God should say, I will teach you to number the people, by lessening the number of your people. Now the burden of his sin did add much to the burthen of his heavy message; ver. 13. After David had numbred the peo∣ple, his heart smote him: the message smites him, and his heart smites him, and he said, I have sin∣ned greatly in that which I have done: now I be∣seech thee take away the iniquity of thy servant, for I have done very foolishly. If David had been to suffer this great punishment out of love to God, or for a good conscience, he would not have been so distressed: There are two sorts of straits in Scripture: some suffered for God and a good con∣science: and there are straits suffered for sin.

1. There are straits suffered for God and a good conscience. Heb. 11. 36, 37. those Martyrs there were driven to great straits: but these were straits for God and a good Conscience, and these straits were the Saints greatest enlargements, they were so sweetned to them by the consolations, and sup∣portations of Gods Spirit; a prison was a paradise to them. Heb. 10. 34. they look joyfully at the spoiling of their goods. Acts 5. 41. they departed Page  6 from the presence of the Council, rejoycing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. Straits for a good conscience are greatest enlargements; therefore Paul gloryeth in this strait, Paul a prisoner, &c.

2. There are straits suffered for sin, and these are envenomed by the guilt of sin: sin puts poy∣son into all our distresses and perplexitys Now such was the strait into which David was now dri∣ven: it was a strait caused by sin, and that made it so unwelcome and uncomfortable: so that from hence I gather this Observation.

Doct. That sin and iniquity brings persons and nati∣ons into marvelous labyrinths and perplexitys: into true real and great molestations: a man free from sin, is free in the midst of straits: a man guilty of sin, is in a strait in the midst of freedom.

After Adam had sinned in eating of the forbidden fruit, the whole world was a prison to him: Para∣dise it selfe was an Hell to him, he knew not where to hide himselfe from the presence of God. Af∣ter that Cain had murthered his Brother Abel, he was brought into such a strait, that he was afraid that every one that met him would slay him. A∣lass poor Cain, how many was there then in the world? we read but his father and mother, yet such was his distress, that he cryeth out, every one that met him would slay him, Gen 4. 14. Into what a strait did sin bring the old world? the de∣luge Page  7 of sin brought a deluge of water to drown them. Into what a strait did sin bring Sodom and Gomorrah? the fire of lust raining in Sodom and Gomorrah, brought down fire from Heaven to de∣stroy them. Sin brings external, internal, and eter∣nal straits upon persons and nations.

1. Sin brings external straits; sin brings Fa∣mine: Sword, and Plague; Sin brings Agues and Feavours, Gout and Stone, and all manner of Di∣seases: yea, sin brings death it selfe, which is the wa∣ges of sin. Read Levit. 26. and Deut. 23. and you will see a black roul of courses, which were the fruit of sin. Sin brought Sion into Babylon; and when the Jews had murthered Christ, forty years after they were brought into that distress, when the Ci∣ty was besieged by Titus Vespatian, that they did eat one another, the Mother did eat her child; that whereas David had a choice which of the three he would have, either Famine, Plague, or Sword: the poor Jews had all three concatena∣ted together in the siedge: sin brings all manner of external plagues.

2. Sin brought persons and Nations into inter∣nal staits: sin brings soul-plagues, which are worse then bodily plagues: sin brings hardness of heart, blindness of mind, a spirit of slumber, a reprobate sence; sin brings a spiritual famine upon a Land; it brings a famine of the word, Amos 8. 11. sin causes God to take away the Gos∣pel from a people: sin brings internal plagues: Page  8 sin wakens conscience, and fills it full of perplexi∣ties: Into what a strait did sin drive Judas, after he had betrayed Christ? Into what a strait did sin drive Spira? St. Paul gloried in his tribulati∣ons for God: but when he speaks of his sin, he cry∣eth out, O miserable man that I am, who shall de∣liver me from this body of death? David a valiant man when he speaks of sin, saith, they are too heavy a burden for him to bear: A wounded conscience who can bear! saith the Wise-man.

3. Sin bringeth eternal straits: O the strait that a wicked man shall be brought into at the great and dreadful day of judgement, when all the world shall be on fire about him; when he shall call to the mountains to hide him, and to the rocks to cover him from the wrath of God: then will he cry out with David, I am O Lord, in a great strait. And when the wicked shall be condemned to Hell, who can express the straits they then shall be in? Bind them hand and foot, and cast them into everlast∣ing darkness, Matth. 25. When a wicked man shall be bound with everlasting chains of darkness, then he will cry out, I am in a great strait. Consider what Dives saith to Abraham: he desires that La∣zarus might but dip the tip of his finger in water, and that he might cool his toung: not his whole body, but his toung: but that would not be granted.

It is impossible the toung of man should set out the great straits the damned suffer in Hell, both in Page  9 regard of the greatnesse and everlastingnesse of them.

This is all I shall say for Explication.

Use 1. I chiefly aim at the Application: Doth sin bring Nations and Persons into external, inter∣nal, and eternal straits? then this sadly reproves those that choose to commit sin to avoid perplexi∣ty. There are thousands in England guilty of this, that to avoid poverty, will lye, cheat and cozen, and to gain an estate will sell God and a good con∣science: and to avoid the losse of estate and im∣prisonment, will do any thing: they will be sure to be of that Religion which is uppermost: be it what it will. Now give me leave this morning to speak three things to these sort of men: and O that my words might prevail with them!

1. Consider it is sin only that makes trouble to deserve the name of trouble▪ for when we suffer for Gods sake, or a good Conscience, these trou∣bles are so sweetned by the consolations of hea∣ven, that they are no troubles at all: therefore in Queen Maries dayes the Martyrs wrote to their friends out of prison, If you knew the Comforts we have in prison, you would wish to be with us: I am in prison before I am in prison, saith Mr. San∣ders.

Page  10 Famous is the story of the three Children: they were in a great strait when cast into the fiery Fur∣nace; Binde them hand and foot, and cast them into the Furnace: but when they were there they were unbound, Dan. 3. 25. saith Nebuchadnezzar, Did not we cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? and lo I see foure men loose walking in the midst of the fire, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. I have often told you, when three are cast into the fire for a good Conscience, God will make the fourth: therefore, I say, straits and sufferings for God are not worth the name of straits. David was often driven into straits, 1 Sam. 30. 6. he was sore distressed when his Town was burnt, and his Wives and Children taken captive by the Amale∣kites: I, but that was a distress of danger, not of sin: therefore he encourageth himself in the Lord his God. Iehosaphat was in a great strait, 2 Chron. 20. 12. We know not what to do, saith he: this was a strait of danger, not caused by his sin, and God quickly delivered him: but the strait that David was in, was caused by his sin, and that made it so bitter. I am loth to inlarge here: Saint Paul was in a great strait, Phil. 3. 23. but this was a blessed strait, an Evangelical strait, saith Saint Chrysostom, He knew not whether to die for his own sake, or to live for the Churches sake, were best; he was willing to adjourn his going to Heaven for the good of the people of God: Nay, christ was in a strait, Luke 12. 15, I have a Baptism to be baptized withal, Page  11 and how am I straitned till it be accomplished? I am to shed my blood for my Elect: that is the Baptisme he speaks of.

This was a strait of dear affection to the Elect of God: all these were blessed straits: but now a strait caused by sin, these are imbittered and en∣venomed by the guilt of sin, and sense of Gods wrath. It is sin that maketh straits deserve the name of straits: therefore you are spiritually mad that commit sin to avoid straits.

2. There is more evil in the least sin, then in the greatest outward calamity whatsoever: this the world will not beleeve: therefore Saint Austin saith,That a man ought not to tell a lye, though he might save all the world from hell: for there is more evil in one lye, then there is good in the salvation of all the world. I have often told you the story of Saint Austin:saith he, If hell were on one side, and sin on the other, and I must choos one, I would choos hell rather then sin: for God is the Author of hell, but it is blas∣phemy to say he is the Author of sin.There is a famous story of Charles the ninth King of France,he sent a message to the Prince of Condy a zealous Prote∣stant, gives him three things to choose, either to go to Mass, or to be put to death, or to suffer ba∣nishment all his life long: saith he, Primum Deo juvante nunquam eligo: The first (God helping) I will never choose, I abhor the idolatry of the Mass: Page  12 but for the two other, I leave it to the choice of the King to do as he pleases, there is more evil in the least sin them the greatest misery.

3. The third thing I would have you consider, that whosoever goeth out of Gods way to avoid danger, shall certainly meet with greater danger. Balaam went out of Gods way, Numb. 22. 22. and God sent an Angel with a drawn sword, and he ri∣ding upon an Asse, ver. 26. the Angel stood in a narrow place, where was no way to go from the right hand or from the left: if his Ass had not fal∣len under him, he had been run through by the sword of the Angel. Ionah for fear of the King of Nineveh went out of Gods way, but he met with a mighty Tempest, he met with a Whale: What do you do when you commit sin? you make way to be cast into the eternal prison of hell: you destroy your precious souls to save your perishing bodies.

Use 2. If sin be the father and mother of all perplexity and distresses, then, I beseech you, let us above all things in the world abhor sin: all the curses of the Bible are all due only to a sinner; and all the curses not named in the Bible: for that is observable, Deut. 28. 36. every plague that is not written in the book shall light upon him: there are strange punishments to the workers of iniqui∣ty, Iob. 31. 3, Is not destruction to the wicked a Page  13 strange punishment to the workers of iniquity; sin it bringeth the sinner to little ease: little ease at death, little ease at the day of judgement, and little ease in hell, tribulation and anguish: the word in the Greek is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, little ease to every soul that doth iniquity. Oh my beloved, will you promise me to look upon sin, and consider it in all its woful consequents, as the father, mother, and womb out of which come external, eternal, and internal straits? more particularly there are twelve sins I especially command you to take heed of and avoid.

1. Take heed of covetousness: the love of the world will pierce you through with many sor∣rowes; the love of money is the root of all e∣vil; the love of the world drowns men in perdi∣tion,

2 Take heed of the sin of pride: into what woful strait did pride bring Haman! God crossed him in what he most desired: God made him hold the stirrop, while Mordecai rode in triumph; and God hanged him on the Gallows which he had made for Mordecai.

3. Take heed of drunkennesse; look not on the wine when it gives its colour in the cup, &c. drunkennesse will bring you into snares, it will bite like a Serpent, and sting like an Adder, &c.

Page  14 4. Take heed of disobedience and rebellion a∣gainst the Commandements of God: it brought Ionah to the three nights and three dayes in the Whales belly.

5. Take heed of fornication, and adultery, and all uncleanness; this brought Sampson to a woful strait: this brought David and Solomon into great perplexity.

6. Take heed of oppression, and all acts of in∣justice: this brought Ahab into a great strait, inso∣much that the dogs licked his blood.

7. Take heed of unnecessary familiarity with wicked men: this brought Iehoshaphat into a great strait.

8. Take heed of mis-using the Prophets of God: this made God destroy the Children of Israel without remedy, 2 Chron. 36. 15, 16.

9. Take heed of coming prophanely to the Lords Table: this brought the Church of Corinth into a great distress, insomuch as the Apostle saith, For this cause many among you are sick, and many weak, and many fallen asleep.

10. Take heed of loathing the Manna of your souls: this brought the people of Israel into wo∣ful Page  15 misery, that God destroyed all their carcasses in the wildernesse, save Ioshua and Caleb.

Take heed of slighting the Gospel: this brought Queen Maries persecution, as many learn∣ed and godly men that fled for Religions sake out of the Land, have confessed their unthankfulnesse for, and unfruitfulnesse under the Gospel in King Edward the sixth's time, brought the persecution in Queen Maries time.

11. Take heed of losing your first Love: that makes God threaten to take away his Candlestick.

12. Take heed of prophaning the Christian Sab∣bath, which is much prophaned every where; a day that Christ by his resurrection from the dead hath consecrated, to be kept holy to God: Cer∣tainly, if the Jews were so severely punished for breaking the Sabbath, which was set apart in me∣mory of the Creation, surely God will severely punish those that break the Sabbath set apart in memory of Christs Resurrection. May be some will say, I have committed many of these sins, but am not brought into any strait. Remember it was nine months after David had numbred the people, before he was in this strait: but as sure as God is in heaven, sin will bring straits sooner or later; though a sinner a hundred yeares, yet shall he be accursed: may be thy posterity makes way for thy damnation: and this is thy greatest distress, Page  16 that thou goest on in sin and prosperity.

Use 3. If sin bringeth a Nation into marvellous la∣byrinths, learn what great caus we have to fear that God should bring this Nation into great distress, because of the great abominations are committed in the midst of it; our King and Sovereign was in great straits in the dayes of his banishment, but God hath delivered him; God hath delivered this Nation out of great straits, but alas, we requite God evil for good, and instead of repenting for old sins, we commit new sins. I am told there are new oathes invented, oaths not fit to be named in any place, much lesse here: Certainly the drunkenness and adultery, the oppression and in∣justice, the bribery and Sabbath breaking, the vain and wicked swearing and for-swearing this Nation is guilty of, must of necessity provoke God to say of us as he did of them in Ieremiah 15 29 Shall I not visit for these things, saith the Lord? shall not my soul be avenged on such a Nation as this? God will not only punish us, but be avenged on us. There is no way to avoid a national desolation, but by a national reformation.

Lastly, learn what cause you of this Congre∣gation and Parish, what cause you have to expect that God should bring you into great straits, be∣cause of your great unthankulness and unfruitful∣ness under the means of Grace, you that have so Page  17 long enjoyed the Gospel; you have had the Gos∣pel in this place in great abundance; Doctor Taylor he served an apprenticeship in this place▪ Doctor Staughton served another apprenticeship: and I, through divine Mercy, have served three apprenticeships, and half another almost, among you; you have had the Spirit of God seven and thirty years in the faithful ministry of the Word, knocking at the door of your hearts, but many of you have hardened your hearts. Are there not some of you, I only put the Question, that begin to loath the Manna of your Souls, and to look back towards Egypt again? Are there not some of you have itching ears, and would fain have Preachers that would feed you with dainty phrases, and begin not to care for a Minister that unrips your Consciences, speaks to your hearts and souls, and would force you into heaven by frighting you out of your sins? Are there not some of you, that by often hearing Sermons, are become Sermon-proof, that know to sleep and scoffe away Sermons? I would be glad to say there are but few such; but the Lord knoweth there are too too many that by long preaching get little good by preaching, insomuch that I have of∣ten said it, and say it now again, there is hardly any way to raise the pice of the Gospel-Ministry, but by the want of it: And that I may not flatter you, you have not profited under the means you have enjoyed; therefore you may justly expect God Page  18 may bring you into a strait, and take away the Gos∣pel from you: God may justly take away your Ministers by death or otherwise. Have you not lost your first love? why did God take away the Gospel from the Church of Ephesus, but because they lost their first love? Are you not like the Church of Laodicea, that are neither hot nor cold? therefore God may justly spew you out of his mouth; what God will do with you I know not, a few weeks will determine: God can make a great change in a little time: we leave all to God; but in the mean time let me commend one Text of Scripture to you, Ierem. 13. 16. Give glory to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness, an before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it grosse darkness. Verse 17. But if you will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride, and mine eyes shall weep sore, and run down with tears, be∣cause the Lord's flock is crried away captive. Give glory to God by confessing and repenting of your sins, by humbling your souls before the Lord, before darkness come, and who knoweth but this may pre∣••nt darkness.