THE NOBLE-MANS PATTERNE Of true and reall Thankfulnesse. PRESENTED In a SERMON Preached before the Right Ho∣nourable House of LORDS; At their late solemne day of thanksgiving, Iune 15. 1643. For the discovery of a dangerous, desperate and bloody designe, tending to the utter subversion of the PAR∣LIAMENT and of the famous City of LONDON.
By EDMUND CALAMY, B.D. Pastor of Aldermanbury in LONDON.
Published by Order of that House.
LUK. 1. 74, 75.
LONDON, Printed by G. M. for Christopher Meredith at the Signe of the Crane in Pauls Church-yard, M.DC.XLIII.
TO THE RIGHT HONOVRABLE House of LORDS Assembled in PARLIAMENT.
IF all Noble-men were as good and religious as they are presented to the World in the Epistles prefixed to the Books that are dedicated to them, we should not have so much cause to com∣plaine of great mens Iniquities, or of poore mens flatteries. S. Augustine in his Booke of Re∣tractations, Retracts it as a great fault, that when he de∣dicated a Booke to Mallius Theodorus, he praised him more then he deserved, though he confesseth that he was doctus vir & Christianus, a Learned and Christian man: It is none of the least miseries of great men, that they Page [unnumbered] want faithfull friends to tell them their vices as well as their vertues. King Ahab had 400. flattering Pro∣phets who were the cause of his ruine. Hence is that old Proverbe, that there are onely two things that never flatter great men, Death and Horses. For Death sei∣zeth upon great as well as small. And a Horse will cast downe a great man as well as any other, if he rides not well. This Sermon speakes plaine language, and this is the only Reason (for ought I know) that it received such kind acceptance, for otherwise it wants that neatnesse of phrase, and eloquence of speech which such Noble Auditors are accustomed unto, I have often heard of Great men, that complained upon their Death beds, that none would tell them of their faults, but ne∣ver of any that complained hee was told too much. The∣odosius the great Emperour confesseth of S. Ambrose, notwithstanding his severe carriage towards him,*So∣lum novi Ambrosium dignum Episcopi nomine; That he knew none worthy of a Bishoprick but Ambrose.
It is a custome to send Sermons out unto publike view under the Patronage of some Noble-man or other. This Sermon hath this preheminence, That it comes forth under the Patronage, and by the commands not only of one Lord, but of a House of Lords. The Lord make it to obtaine that end for which it was preached! That you (my Lords) may make Joshua's choise Page [unnumbered] your choise. The subject matter of the Sermon is very common and ordinary. But herein I follow the example of Chrysostome, who when he was made Patriarch of Constantinople, the first Sermon that he preached before the Emperour Arcadius and the great Courtiers, was a Sermon of Repentance. This is the message that I have received (saith Chry∣sostome) from my Master Christ to deliver unto you. Repent for the Kingdome of God is at hand. Haec autem non dubitabo vobis assiduè revocare in memoriam. Haec neminem reverentes ne∣que potentes aut divites timentes ad vos loquemur. The Lord bestow this great grace of Repentance upon you, and inable you to serve God with all the ingre∣dients mentioned in the following Sermon! Two things I would desire your Lordships alwayes to remember.
1. That the best way of thankfulnesse for mer∣cies received, is to serve the God of those mercies, and to serve him with the mercies we receive from him.
2. That the best way for the House of Lords to prosper, is to indeavour earnestly and faithfully to reforme the Lords House, your own houses, and first your selves.
Some things I have added which were not preached, which relate to all men in generall as well as great men, Page [unnumbered] which I then omitted for brevity sake, but have here interserted I hope without offence, that so this Sermon which is printed for a generall good, might have some∣things in it tending to the good of all men as well as great men.
The Great God make the House of Lords as the House of the Lord wherein service may be done to God, and for Gods cause. So prayeth
Your Honours much obliged Spirituall servant Edmund Calamy.
A THANKS-GIVING SERMON PREACHED Before the Right Honourable the House of Lords.
Iosh. 24. 15.
WE are here met this day to keepe a day of Thanks-giving, to keepe a Heaven up∣on Earth, to doe that for a day, which is the worke of Angels and arch-An∣gels to all eternity. We have had ma∣ny dayes of Hosannah's and now we are to keepe one day of Hallelujah's. It hath pleased God of his great goodnesse to discover a dangerous and desperate Plot, tending to the utter subversion of the Par∣liament, of the famous City of London, of the Army, of the whole Kingdome, and which is above all to the utter ruine of the true reformed Protestant Religion. We are here assembled to give God the praise of this Deliverance. Now that this duty may be performed after a pious and Page 2 Christian manner to the praise of that God whom we come to praise, I have chosen this Text. For I am clearely of this opinion, that as there is no duty more excellent then this of Thanks-giving.
For it is the duty of Heaven, and not only so, but the preferment of Heaven.* It is a duty that honoureth God, and it is the highest honour that God can put upon us, to give us leave to performe this duty. It is a duty that Adam should have performed, though he had never fallen. It is a duty that shall last for ever and ever. It is a comely duty. It is a pleasant duty.* It is the highest expression of our love to God:* It is the surest evidence of our election (For that man that loves the worke of Heaven upon earth, shall certainely goe to Heaven when he leaves the earth. Now the worke of Heaven is to praise God.) It is the only rent penny which God requires for all the blessings hee bestowes upon us.
And yet notwithstanding all this, I conceive there is no one duty wherein God is more dishonoured, or his name more prophaned then in this duty. The world is full of Thanking of God, blessed be God, praised be God. But I be∣seech yetell me. Are we not formall in this duty? Doe we not content our selves with the bare Carkasse, and out∣side of praises? Doe we not take Gods name in vaine, while we are blessing his name? Doe we not content our selves with a drop of praises for a sea of mercies? Do we not praise him with our lips, while we dispraise him with our lives? Are we not like unto Actors upon a stage that now play one part, and by and by act a quite contrary part? While we are at Church we seeme to cry Hallelujah, and with the Jewes to sing Hosannah. But assoone as ever we come out of the Church, are there not many that will with the Jews cry Crucifige, acting the quite contrary part, and curse, and sweare prophanely by that God whom they Page 3 blessed at Church? The devill was the first that ever na∣med Gods name in Scripture, and one of the first that ever confessed Christ to be the Sonne of God, and yet he was a devill for all that. It is a devillish thing to praise God with our lips, and serve the devill with our lives. Now therfore for the avoiding of this great sin, and for the raising up of your hearts to praise God, not only with your lips, but with your lives, I have pitched upon these words, which I may very well call, A rare plat-forme, and excellent pat∣tern of true and reall thankfullnes. For this is to thanke God as we ought to do for his goodnes, to become good our selves. Then wee praise God aright, when wee dedicate our lives to his praise, and become a people of his praise. Iosiah did not only offer a thank-offering, but he commanded Judah to serve the Lord God of Israel. It is not enough to thanke God for a mercy, unlesse we serve him with that mercy.* It is not the singing of a thousand Psalmes will praise God so much for this Deliverance as the mortifying of one lust. Let the drunkard praise God this day by sacrificing up his drun∣kennesse as a Thank-offering. Let the swearer and the A∣dulterer forsake his swearing and his Adultery, as a testi∣mony of his Thankfullnesse. God hath bin reall in his mercies to us, let us be reall in our thankes to him. Let us with this famous and noble Prince in my Text enter into a solemne Covenant, and resolution for the time to come, in sence of Gods goodnesse towards us for the time past, to become the true and faithfull servants of God, and though all the world should serve sinne and the Devill, but as for you and your house, you will serve the Lord.
In the words themselves we have two parts.
First, The substance of Joshuah's choice; and that is, To serve Iehovah. Ioshuah doth not only choose to be saved by Jehovah, but to serve Jehovah. There is no man so wic∣ked, Page 4 but he would be glad to be saved by God, but you must know that that man shall never have Christ for his Saviour, that will not have Christ for his Lord and Master. He that will not follow the example of Christs life, shall ne∣ver be saved by the merit of his death. If Christ be not thy Jacobs staffe to guide thee to Heaven, he will never become as a Iacobs ladder to carry thee up to Heaven.
2. We have six rare circumstances in Ioshuahs choice.
First, The person that made this choice, and that is Ioshua the chief Ruler of Israel.
2. The latitude and circumference of this choice, I and my house, not himselfe without his Family, nor his Family without himselfe. But himselfe and his Family. And first himselfe, and then his Family.
3. The firmnesse and stability of Ioshuah's choice, Wee will serve the Lord. Not only we desire to doe it. But we are fully resolved to do it.
4. The publicknesse of Ioshuah's resolution. Ioshuah doth not only choose in his heart to serve the Lord, but makes open protestation and profession of it, before all the Lords and Commons of Israel. For these words were spoken in a Parliamentary Assembly, when all the Tribes and Heads of the Tribes of Israel and Judges and Officers were present, as you may reade v. 1.
5. The speedinesse of Ioshuah's choice. Ioshua puts the Is∣raelites to choose. Choose you this day whom ye will serve. But as for himselfe he was already resolved. Ioshuah had not his Religion to choose as many have, he did not demurre upon it, his choice was already made: Choose you; but as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.
6. The singularity of Ioshuah's choice. This [But] is put downe by way of opposition, Choose you whither ye will serve the true God, or the gods of the Amorites. But as for me I am resolved for my selfe and my Family to serve the Page 5 Lord, though all the Lords and Commons of Israel should renounce his service.
The time will not suffer me to speake distinctly of every one of these parts. I will therefore summe them up for bre∣vity sake into this one doctrinall Conclusion.
That it is the duty of all men, but especially of such as are Joshuah's,* such as are Rulers and Nobles, to ingage themselves and their Families to serve God resolutely, speedily and publike∣ly, maugre all opposition to the coutrary.
This is a Doctrine that needs Application rather then Ex∣plication. A Doctrine that I have chosen, not to feed your heads with curious notions, but to feast your hearts with solid nourishment. For the Explicatory part, I will only propound 3 things.
First, I will shew what it is to serve God. [ 1]
Secondly, I will shew the necessity that lies upon all men [ 2] as well as great men to serve God, and to serve him with the golden circumstances of the Text.
Thirdly, I will shew the necessity that lyes upon great [ 3] men, as well as others, and rather then others to obey this Text.
First, What it is to serve God.*
For this you must know that the service of God is not a naturall action, wherein the doing of the worke is all that is required. As nothing is required of the fire, but to burn, because it is a naturall action. But it is an action of Religi∣on, wherein the manner of doing is the chiefe halfe of the duty, and that which makes our serving of God to be a sweet perfume is not the serving, but the right serving of God. Now the right serving of God is to serve him ac∣cording to his owne Direction, both for the matter and the manner of his service. It is a maxime in nature, Every ma∣ster is to be served according as himselfe commands, and if the servant prescribe to his master, how he will serve Page 6 him, he becomes his Masters Master. In the civill Law a servant is said to be 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, such a one that sustaines no person, but is a dependant and adjunct to his Master, to accommodate his will to the will of his Master. It is a saying of Socrates, If there be a God he must be worship∣ped, and if he be worshipped, he must be worshipped ac∣cording to his owne will, or else we doe not worship him at all. Moses built the Tabernacle according to the pat∣terne in the Mount.* And David when he built the Tem∣ple, received a patterne of it from the Spirit of God in wri∣ting. The nature of man is prone to worship God by Crucifixes and Images, and by wayes of our owne devi∣sing. But this is not to serve God, but to goe a whoring after our owne inventions, as the phrase is, Psalm. 106. 37.* For indeed it is spirituall whoredome, and it is an exalting of our wisedome above Gods. It is vaine-service, and there∣fore cannot please God.* It is will-worship and of no account with God. It is a service that is so farre from bringing us to Heaven, that it will beguile us of Heaven.* This then is to serve God, to serve him according to his own way, both for matter and manner.
Now if you aske me;* What is that way wherein God would have us to serve him. I answer briefly.
He that would serve God so as to please him must min∣gle 10.* Ingredients in his service. And indeed this very act of Ioshuah in choosing such a master as Iehovah, and in choosing to stand under such a relation as a servant unto Ie∣hovah doth necessarily imply.
First, That Ioshuah did not onely choose to serve God, but to serve him undividedly, to serve God and none but God. For in all Elections those whom we do not choose we refuse. And therefore Ioshua's choosing to serve the Lord doth imply, that he did refuse all other Lords and masters. This is plaine in the beginning of this verse. And Page 7 if it seeme evill to you to serve the Lord, choose ye this day whom ye will serve, whether the gods, &c. As if he should have said. Ye cannot serve the God of the Israelites, and the god of the Amorites together. Ye cannot serve God and Idols. No man saith Christ can serve two Masters, &c.
2. Ioshua did not only choose to serve God undividedly, [ 2] but also Everlustingly. This appeares because he chose an everlasting Master. And for this purpose he tells the Is∣raelites, verses 19. 20. You cannot serve the Lord for he is a ho∣ly God and a jealous God, &c. If ye forsake him he will consume you, &c. As if he should have said, If you intend to serve God, you must never reuolt, but keep your selves constant for ever to his service, for else he will turne and doe you hurt and consume you after he hath done you good.
3. Ioshua did not only choose to serve God undividedly [ 3] and Everlastingly, but also Faithfully and sincerely. And this appeares, because he chose such a Master, that is the heart maker and the heart searcher. This is the difference betweene the serving of God, and the serving of man; Man can but see the outside, and punish the outside, and judgeth of the inside by the outside. But God is a Spirit, and will be worshipped in spirit and in truth, and judgeth of the out∣side by the inside.* And therefore Ioshua tells the children of Israel, vers. 14. Now therefore feare the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth. As if he should have said, If you intend to serve him, you must serve him in upright∣nesse, or else ye doe not serve him at all. For God re∣quires good aimes as well as good actions, and he ab∣horres that service though never so good, if the aime of him that serves him be not good. If a Wife should dresse her selfe in fine apparell to please an Adulterer, this aime of hers makes her action most abominable; Even so all those that serve God, though never so exactly in outward shew if their aime be to please men, or to get their own ends, the Page 8 Lord abhorres them and their services.* God abhorres an hypocrite more then a Sodomite, and therefore Hell is provi∣ded on purpose for hypocrites.
[ 4] 4. Ioshua chose to serve God zealously; And this ap∣peares, because he chose to serve the living God, he did not choose to serve Idols, but to turne from dead Idols to serve the living God. Now the living God expects not only li∣ving but lively service, 1 Pet. 2. 5. A man may be a living man and yet not lively, but God expects lively service, and such as are active and lively in his service, such as are fer∣vent in spirit as serving the Lord, Rom. 12. 11. As if he should say; You are not fit to serve the Lord, unlesse you be fervent in spirit, boiling hot in spirit, as the word signifies.
[ 5] 5. Ioshua chose to serve God Reverently and respectfully. And this appeares, because he calls himselfe a servant of God, not a sonne, not a friend. Now you know it is a neces∣sary ingredient in a servant to keep his distance, and to carry himselfe respectfull of his Master, to serve him with reve∣rence and godly feare, Heb. 12. 28.
[ 6] 6. Ioshua chose to serve God Chearfully and freely; For this is another property of a good servant, Psalm. 100. 1. Serve the Lord with gladnesse, Deut. 28. 47, 48. We must make it our meate and drinke, our Heaven upon Earth to serve God.
[ 7] Seventhly, To serve him diligently and laboriously: This is another property of a good servant; It is said of the 12. Tribes, That they served God instantly day and night. The word in the Greeke is,* They served God with an outstret∣ched neck.*
[ 8] Eighthly, To serve God Vniversally in all things, At all times, and in all places, and with all our faculties. First, In all things, though never so irrationall to flesh and blood, though never so dangerous, though never so costly. Such Page 9 a servant was David that fulfilled all the wills of God.* 2. As in all things, so at all times; In time of prosperity as well as adversitie, and in time of adversitie as well as pro∣sperity. For the God whom we serve is the same in all times, he alters not, no more must his servants. 3. In all places, in private as well as publike; For God is a Master that filles all places. If thou canst find out a place where God doth not see thee, there it shall be lawfull for thee to serve the Devill. 4. With all the faculties of thy soule and body. This note of universality though it be a plaine one, yet is of marvellous consequence, and it is both 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. It is the best divisive difference to divide a Sheepe from a Goate, And con∣stitutive, to constitute a faithfull servant of God, who is one that in all things, at all times, and in all places, with all his faculties gives up himselfe to Gods service. That can say as that Dutch Minister Baldazzar did to Oecolampadius, Veniat verbum Domini & submittemus ei sex∣centa si nobis essent colla. Let God speake, and though we had six hundred necks, yet we will make them all stoope to the obedience of him.
Ioshua chose to serve God Absolutely and Inconditionally. [ 9] For God is a Master that cannot erre in his commands, and therefore he must be obeyed without examining of what he commands, with blind obedience. Sufficit pro universis rationibus Deus vult. This is reason sufficient, the unerring God will have it so. This is the best sighted obe∣dience. Man may erre in his commands, and therefore is to be served with limitations and examinations. They doe befoole themselves (saith Lactantius) that follow the judge∣ment of their leaders without judgement, which is the propertie of Sheepe rather then of reasonable men. It is a good saying of Sir THOMAS MORE, I will not pin my salvation upon any mans sleeve, because I know not whither he will carry it. But Page 10 God must be obeyed without an If: with absolute, in condi∣tionall, unexamined subjection, this is to serve God as God.
10. Ioshua chose to serve God transcendently and Angeli∣cally. To doe his will on earth as it is done in Heaven. For he is Iehovah that gives being to all, the great God of the whol earth, and therefore is to be served with super superlative super transcendent service, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉.
These are the 10. Ingredients of Ioshuas choice, these are as a ten stringed Instrument to make our services melodious harmony in Gods eares. Let us strive to remember them, because they are the foundation to the building that fol∣lowes. We live in an age wherein every man will pro∣fesse that he serves God. But I beseech you remember that unlesse you adde these 10. Ingredients, ye doe not serve him, but grieve him. Ye dee not serve him, but doe him disservice, unlesse ye serve him undividedly, everla∣stingly, sincerely, zealously, &c.
Before I leave this point I must adde one thing, That there are 2. properties of a servant that must not be in Gods servant. First, a servant serves his Master with a sla∣vish feare, but we must serve God with a godly feare, Heb. 12. 28. Secondly, a servant loves his Master with a mercenary love, he serves his Master as a hireling for his wages. But Gods servant must serve God with a filiall love. He that serves God only for Heaven, fells his ser∣vice to God, as Parisiensis saith, Et est inter illum & Deum ne∣gotiatio quaedam. Not but that a true servant of God may have an eye to the recompence of reward, as Moses had; but he must have but one eye upon the reward, not both, and the left eye too; For our chiefe and last aime must be at Gods glory. And the reason is, because Gods servants are also his sonnes and heires, and therefore as we must serve him with the subjection of servants, so we must serve him with the affection of sonnes. Let us remember Page 11 that we are his servants, that we may serve him with reve∣rence, diligence and exact subjection, but remember also that we are his sonnes to serve him with filial feare, love, hope and faith. And this is the right serving of God, to serve him with a servant-like subjection, and with a sonne∣like affection.
The second thing propounded in the Explication,* is to shew the necessity that lies upon all men as well as great men to serve God, and to serve him with all these Ingredients. For though Ioshua did freely choose to serve the Lord, yet it was not free for Ioshua to choose whether he would serve God or no. For we are all bound to doe God homage and service. This is primum and totum officium hominis, This is the chiefe and the whole of man, Eccles. 12. last. We are all bound to this service by a 6. fold bond.
First, by the bond of Creation. It is a fundamentall er∣rour [ 1] to think that we are borne chiefely and ultimately to seeke our own happinesse. God made man to serve him, and to seeke his owne happinesse in Gods happinesse, and his owne glory in Gods glory. It is God that hath made us, and not we our selves, we are his workemanship, and therefore it is our duty to improve all our parts and gifts to the service of that God from whom we have received all. As all Rivers returne to the Ocean from which they first came. And as Aulius Fulvius said to his sonne when he found him in the conspiracie of Catiline, Now ego te Ca∣tilinae genui sed patria. So doth God say to every man, I did not give thee a soule and body to serve sinne withall, but to serve me withall. Quot membra tot ora, so many members of our bodies, so many faculties of our soules; so many mouthes to call upon us to serve God withall.
Secondly, It is our duty to serve God, not only for our [ 2] own creation, but for the creation of the whole world. For God made all the world to serve man, and man to serve Page 12 him with all the world, and for all the world. He made the Sunne, the Moone, the Fire and the Water, &c. to be serviceable to man, and therefore man must serve God, be∣cause he hath given all these to his use, and he must serve God with all these, improving them all to his service. Quot creaturae, tot ora, so many creatures as there are in the world, so many mouthes to call upon us to serve God, and to serve him with all the Ingredients before named.
[ 3] Thirdly, We are bound by the bond of Redemption. For we are therefore delivered out of the hands of our enemies by Iesus Christ,*that we should serve him in holinesse and righteousnesse all the dayes of our life. Quot inimici, tot ora. So many ene∣mies as we are freed from by the death of Christ, so many mouthes to call upon us to serve Jesus Christ. And in this sence the very Devill himselfe, and Hell it selfe (as we are redeemed from them) doe call upon us to serve God, and to serve him faithfully, &c.
[ 4] Fourthly, We are bound by the bond of Sanctification. For this is the end of our sanctification, That we might have grace to serve him so as to please him, Heb. 12. 28. Quot gratiae, tot ora, so many graces as God hath planted in thee, so many mouthes to call upon thee to serve God. For who goes to warfare at his owne charge? saith the Apo∣stle,*Who planteth a Vineyard and eateth not of the fruit there∣of? Who feedeth a flock and eateth not of the milk of the flock? If God hath planted the graces of his Spirit in thy soule, he lookes to reape the fruit of his own plantation and hus∣bandry by thy holy serving of God.
[ 5] Fifthly, We are bound by the bond of Gratitude. Quot be∣neficia, tot ora, so many mercies as we have received from God, so many mouthes to call upon us to serve God. For every mercy is as a needle, saith S. Austin, to sow God and Man together. Man and God are seperated by disobe∣dience, but mercy is as a needle to sow God and Man to∣gether Page 13 againe by obedience. And therefore God makes the deliverance out of Egypt to be a forcible motive to the keeping of the ten Commandements. I am the God that brought thee out of the Land of Egypt, Therefore thou shalt have none other gods but me, Therefore thou shalt keepe holy the Sabbath day, &c. So must the deliverance wee celebrate this day. It must be as a golden Cord to tye us to serve God more devoutly, more resolvedly then ever. Every Deliverance binds the delivered accor∣ding to the quantity and quality of the Deliverance. God hath given us Deliverances of all sorts, and of all sizes for to oblige us to his service. Wee have had temporall and spirituall Deliverances, old and new De∣liverances. These two last yeares have been made up all of Deliverances. And to sinne willingly against God after such Deliverances as these, is a sinne that takes away all excuse, Ezra. 9. 10. What shall we say after this, for we have sinned against thee, q. d. We have nothing to say. And it is a sinne that will bring universall and utter destruction, according to that Text, Ezra. 9. 13, 14. Seeing thou O God hast given us such a Deliverance as this, should we againe breake thy Commandements, woul∣dest thou not be angry with us, till thou haddest consumed us, so that there should be no remnant nor escaping. He that doth not serve God the better for this Deliverance, it is pit∣ty he was delivered.
6. We are bound by the bond of Covenant. Quot promis∣siones, [ 6] tot ora. So many Vowes and Covenants we have made with God, so many mouthes to call upon us to serve him. When we were baptized we entered into a solemne Covenant to renounce the Devill and all his workes, and to be Christs faithfull Souldiers unto our lives end. And every time we receive the Sacrament of the body and bloud of Christ, we renew our vowes and covenants. And it is Page 14 not a weeke since Ye entred into into a sacred and solemne Promise to amend your lives. The Vow of God is upon you. And therefore I may say as Christ doth, Give unto God the things which are Gods. If service be not due doe not give it him, but if it be due it is injustice to deny it him. We are all servinati, servi empti, jurati, faederati, consecrati, conducti. We are all the borne servants of God, and better we had ne∣ver been borne, if we doe not serve him. We are all the bought Servants of God,* Christ hath bought us with a dear price, even with his owne precious bloud, he became not only a man, but a servant, to buy us to be his servants. We are the purchace of Jesus Christ, and it is a high act of Robberie to deprive him of his purchase. We are the sworne Servants of God, and we are forsworne if we doe not serve him, and serve him aright as we ought to doe. We have taken a Covenant to serve him better, and we are Covenant-breakers, if we doe not serve him, which is one of the black-marks of a Reprobate.* We are consecrated to the service of God, and dedicated to him by our baptisme, and therefore it is a sin of sacriledge not to serve him. We are all the hired servants of God. All the blessings and mercies we receive daily from God are nothing else, but Gods presse-mony to hire us to serve him, and it is a shame to re∣ceive such great wages and to doe no service for it. And thus you see what a great necessity lies upon all men, as well as great men to serve God.
The third thing propounded for Explication is,*To shew the necessitie that lies upon great men in particular to serve God, and to serve him with all those Ingredients, and with all the circumstances of Ioshuah's choice. Great men are bound to serve God as well as others, and to serve God ra∣ther then others. First as well as others.
First, Because they are Gods creatures as well as others. [ 1] Bound by the six-fold bond before named, as well as o∣thers, Page 15 they are servinati, serviempti, &c. and therfore unjust, perjured and sacrilegious, if they withdraw themselves from his service.
Secondly, They must die as well as others, and death makes all equall. Diogenes could find no difference in the grave, betweene the bones of King Philip and other men, as he told Alexander the great.
Thirdly, They must appeare and stand before God at the day of Iudgement, to give an account as well as others, Re∣vel. 20. 12. I saw the dead great and small standing before God.
Fourthly, There is no man great in comparison of God. Though a man may be said to be great in comparison of his neighbour;* yet in comparison of God all the world is but as the drop of a bucket. And if all Asia, Africa, Europe and America be but as the drop of a Bucket in comparison of God,* what a little drop of this drop is one great man. There is a greater nearenesse betweene a King and a toade then between a King and God. For Toades are Gods crea∣tures, and so are Kings, and both finite; but there is an infinite distance between the great God, and the greatest King.
As great men are to serve God, as well as others. So al∣so rather then others. And that because,
First, They have more reason then others. God hath ad∣vanced them above others in dignity,* honour and wealth, and therefore he expects they should bring more honour to him then others. A King looks to be acknowledged by all, but especially by those who are his Creatures. And therefore Caesar cried out to Brutus, & tufili? What thou my sonne? So those whom God hath exalted and made as it were gods upon Earth, he looks that these gods should not serve the Devill, which would be a paradox beyond expression. The higher the Elements are the purer they Page 16 are. Aire is purer then water, and fire then aire. The high∣er you are in office and wealth, the holier and purer you ought to be. We doe not expect as much light from a can∣dle as from the Sunne. If God have made thee one of the great lights of the world; he lookes thou shouldest shine and out-shine others in holinesse and righteousnesse. It is a wicked opinion that is spread abroad in the world, that the greater any man is, the lesse service he need doe unto God. Hence it is that if we observe any little sparke of piety in great persons, we are ready to behold it as a blazing Commet, and to cry it up in the superlative degree. But the truth is, the golden Rule of Christ teacheth us other∣wise, To whom much is given, (faith Christ, Luk. 12. 47.) much is required. And you your selves require most ser∣vice of those servants to whom you give most wages. God did not require tentallents of him to whom he gave but five, but he required ten of him to whom he gave ten. All crea∣tures the nearer to God the more perfect they are, the An∣gels more excellent then men, and the essence of men more excellent then beasts, and beasts then plants, &c. So the nearer any man is to God in power and greatnesse, the bet∣ter, purer and holier he ought to be. Insomuch that it is reckoned as a great aggravation, That the hands of the Prin∣ces and Rulers were the chiefe in a trespasse, Ezra 9. 2. Their being Rulers did not excuse, but increase their fault. And Ieremy tels us, Jer. 5. 5. That he would goe to the greatmen, to see if the way of the Lord, as expecting more goodnesse from them then others. Of which when he failed, he threatens greater judgements against them then others.
Secondly, As great men have greater reason then others. [ 2] So they have greater abilities and opportunities to serve God then others. Now every ability and opportunity is a talent with which we are betrusted, and for which we must be accountable. The Wise-man tells us,* Ecclesiast. 7. 11. Page 17 That wisdome is good with an Inheritance. Wisdome is good without an inheritance. But it cannot doe so much good when it is seated in a poore man, as when it is joyned with an inheritance. When divine wisdome and honours meet together, they are like apples of Gold in pictures of silver. Riches and greatnesse have made many good men bad, but never any bad man good, and yet they put a price in a good mans hand to doe much good. As a good musicall Instru∣ment doth not make a skillfull Musitian, but a skilfull Musiti∣an can play better upon a good instrument then upon a bad one. If the man be gracious and religious that is great and rich, he will make sweeter harmony and melody in Gods eares, then if he were poore and in a low estate. It is not to be expressed what attractive power there is in the good examples of great men to make others good. Great men are like unto looking-glasses, according to which all the Country dresse themselves, and if they be good looking∣glasses they doe a world of good. When Crispus the chiefe Ruler of the Synagogue beleeved, many of the Corinthians hea∣ring of it, beleeved also, Act. 18. 8. When Shechem and Ha∣mor were circumcised, they quickly perswaded their peo∣ple to be circumcised also. Ioshuah's example in my Text made all Israel enter into Covenant to serve God. And if the great-men and the rich-men of the Kingdome would appeare in more number, and more couragiously and reso∣lutely in the great cause of the warre now undertaken by the Parliament, how quickly would the whole Land arise as one man to take part with them. What mighty load∣stones were Nehemiah, Ezra and Zerubbabell to draw thou∣sands of people to goe with them from Babylon to Ierusalem to rebuild the Temple. So much for the Explicatory part.
Now for the Use and the Application. And here I will apply my selfe. First, To all men in generall,* not Page 18 excluding great-men. And secondly, To great-men in par∣ticular, and yet not excluding other men.
First,* To all in generall.
This Text speakes a word of Reproofe to all those that make a quite contrary choise to Ioshuah's choice, that choose to serve other Masters and not the Lord. And of these there are 4 sorts.
1. Such as choose to serve men and not the Lord. The Apostle faith, 1 Cor. 7. 23. Ye are bought with a price, bee not ye the servants of men;* which words doe not forbid the civill relation and subjection of a servant to his Master, but they reproove two sorts of men.* 1. Such as subject their Consciences to the superstitious inventions of men in Gods worship, that build their Religion upon mans bare authority. Such servants are all the Papists that build their Religion upon the Popes infallibility: these are servants of men. 2. Such as are servants to the lusts of wicked men,* that serve men when they runne in a crosse line to Gods will. Such were the Subjects of Nebuchadnezzar, that at the command of the King worshipped the golden Image, and served the King and not the Lord. Such was Pilate that for feare of displeasing Caesar, delivered up Christ to be crucified,* though he knew him to be inno∣cent. And would to God we had not many amongst us that sell their Consciences, their Religion, and their Sal∣vation to be panders to the lustfull, covetous and ambiti∣ous desires of great men! Such were the Nobles of Cam∣byses. Cambyses had a lust to marry his owne sister, he sends for all his councell and asketh, If they had any Law in Persia to allow him to marry his sister? They answered, That there was no such Law. But yet there was another Law, That the Kings of Persia might doe what they list. These Nobles were slaves to the lust of Cambyses. And if we had not such Nobles and Gentlemen amongst us, these unhappy Page 19 warrs would quickly be at an end. Alexander had two friends*Hephaestion and Craterus. One loved him as a man, the other as a King. He that loved him as a man, labou∣red to satisfie the Kings lusts, and to please him as a man in all his desires, whether lawfull or unlawfull. He that lo∣ved him as a King, desired to please him in such things which were just, and which tended to the Kings honour and the peoples safety. Now I demand which of these two were Alexanders best friend? Our Soveraigne King hath two such kind of friends. Two such kind of friends had Rehoboam, and by hearkning to his Young-men and refu∣sing the councell of his old and grave Councellours, he rui∣nated himself and his posterity, which God forbid our King should do.
Secondly, I am to reprove such as chose to serve the times and not the Lord, that change their Religion with the times; That will be superstitious, if the times be supersti∣tious, and devout or Atheisticall, according to the times, whose Religion is like a peece of waxe to be moulded into a∣ny frame, according as the timesalter and change. Such were the Samaritans, that when the Jewes were in prospe∣rity would professe themselves to be of the Jewish Religion, but when the Jewes were in adversity, they would dis∣claime them and their Religion. Many such Samaritans amongst us, that in King Edward the sixt's dayes turned Protestants, in Queene Maries turned Papists, and in Queen Elizabeths dayes turned Protestants againe. There are thousands in this age that are Time-servers and not God-ser∣vers. Many such Ministers, and many such Magistrates, many such people; I have much thought of two wicked speeches, too too much practised in these our dayes. The one is of a deepe Polititian. That it was good to follow the truth, but not too neare at the heeles, least it dash out our braines. There are many such that would be glad to seeme to be re∣ligious, Page 20 and to owne the cause of Religion, which is now asserted by the Parliament, but they are afraid to owne it too publikely or too zealously, for feare it should hin∣der their preferment, and dash out the braines of their pro∣motions. Another speech is that of the King of Na∣varre to Beza, That he would launch no farther into the Sea of Religion, then he might be sure to returne safe into the Ha∣ven. This is the true picture of a Time-server, to dive no farther into the deepes of Religion, to appeare no farther in this great cause of Religion, then he can be sure to save his estate, and to save his carcasse. I read of the men of Issacar, That they were wise to understand the times, to know what Israel ought to doe.* It is wisedome to observe times, so as to know our duty. But it is damnable wickednesse to serve the times and not the Lord, to ring changes as the times change.
[ 3] 3. To reprove such that choose to serve themselves and not the Lord. That set up themselves as God, and doe whatsoever is good in their own eyes, and make their wills their Scripture. This is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉. This is selfe worship, and selfe Idolatry, which is the greatest Idolatry of all. It is the greatest curse under Heaven for God to give a man over to himselfe to live as he list, Psalm. 81. 11, 12. Rom. 1. 26. I have read of one given over to the Devill for his good,* but never of any given over to him∣selfe but for his damnation. And therefore Austin pray∣eth, Lord deliver me from my selfe! Let it be our prayer,*Lord give me not over to my selfe!
[ 4] Fourthly, I am to reprove such that choose to serve sinne and not the Lord. It is one thing to be a sinner, another thing to be a servant of sinne. A servant of sinne, is one that gives himselfe over to the service of sinne, that is bound apprentise to sinne. Observe the difference betweene Paul and Ahab. Paul was sold under sinne,* but it was against his Page 21 will. But Ahab sold himselfe willingly to worke wicked∣nesse. Many such Ahabs that serve sinne as the Centurion servants served him, If sinne bid goe they goe. Such a slave was Herod to his Herodias, Felix to his Drusilla. Such ser∣vants are swearers and drunkards, that are at the service of their Oathes and Cups. There are many men that are slaves to the Mammon of iniquity. That doe not only pos∣sesse money, but are possessed of money, that are had of money, that with Iudas will sell Jesus Christ himselfe for 30. pee∣ces of silver. There are many that are slaves to their pre∣ferments, that say with Agrippina concerning Nero, Peream ego modo ille imperet. That sell their part in Heaven to get a little honour here upon earth. And to speake my mind plainely, there are two sinnes which are as two mighty Loadstones to draw hundreds from the Parliaments side. Covetousnesse and Ambition. Could the Parliament feed these sinnes as well as they are fed at Oxford, our mi∣serable distractions would quickly be at an end. What made Baalam goe to Balak? At first he said,*If Balak would give me his house full of gold and silver I cannot goe beyond the word of the Lord;* but yet afterwards being mad after the wages of iniquity, he went and did much hurt to Gods peo∣ple, but it was to his own ruine at last, and this will be the end of all those that are the servants of sinne. The Apo∣stle speakes excellently, For when ye were servants of sinne,*ye were free from righteousnesse. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. In which words the Apostle teacheth us, that the service of sinne is both shamefull and damnable. First, it is shamefull. For to serve sinne, is to serve the Devill, Ioh. 8. 44. Oh that the world would beleeve this, that when they serve pride, and covetousnesse, and ambition, &c. they serve the Devill, And therefore Cyprian brings in the Devill upbraiding Christ, Ostende mihi tot servos qui tibi, &c. Page 22Shew me if thou canst so many servants that have served them so diligently and so willingly as I can shew that have served me. If the Devill should appeare in humane shape, you would think it horrible Idolatry to adore him, and yet when you obey sinne, you doe this and worser then this, for sinne is worser then the Devill; The Devill is Gods creature, but sinne hath nothing of God in it. Sinne is the Devils excrement, as Barnard saith; And it must needs be a loathsome service to be servant to so vile a thing. Se∣condly, It is a cursed and damnable service, for the wages of sinne is death.
How comes it then to passe that sinne hath so many ser∣vants?*
Because sinne deales with sinners,* as the Philistims did with Sampson. First, it puts out our eyes, that we should not see the vilenesse and cursednesse of sinne, and then it puts us in the mill to grind as sinnes slave. And therefore Christ sent Paul to the Gentiles, to open their eyes, &c. Acts 26. 18. This was his first worke. The Lord open our eyes to see the shamefulnesse and damnablenesse of sinnes service.
2. To reproove those that make Ioshuas choise but not with Ioshuas ingredients,* That choose to serve God, but doe not serve him undividedly, everlastingly, sincerely, zealous∣ly, reverently, &c. We live in an age wherin God had never more servants, and yet never lesse service; as one saith; There are many Divines, but few that live like Divines. So God hath many servants, but few that doe him service.
There are some that divide betweene the service of God and the service of sinne, like the false Mother that would have the child divided. As Cambden reports of Redwald King of the East-saxons, the first Prince of this Nation that was baptized, yet in the same Church he had one Altar for Christian Religion, another Altar for Heathenish re∣ligion: Page 23 So there are many such false-worshippers of God, that divide the rooms of their soules betweene God and the Devill, that sweare by God, and by Malcham, Zeph. 1. 5. that sometimes pray, and sometimes curse, that some∣times goe to Gods house, sometimes to a Play-house; that are of a Mungrill-religion, halting betweene God and Baal, Heteroclites in Religion, but God cannot endure this division. This is to set thy threshold by Gods threshold, Ezek. 43. 8. This is to set the Arke and Dagon together, which God will never endure, God cares not for one halfe of thy heart, if sinne and the Devill hath the other halfe.
There are others that serve God, but their service is but as a morning cloud,*and as an early dew it quickly vanisheth, of whom I may say justly that which Nabal did unjustly of David,*There are many servants now a dayes that breake away every man from his Master. Many now a dayes, and more in our dayes then in former dayes. We live in an Aposta∣tizing age, wherein there are many falling Starres, but few fixed Starres; Many that were once whiter then milke, as Rubies, and polished Saphires in regard of their glorious pro∣fession, but now they are blacker then acoale,*they are withered and become like a stick; That were yesterday Gods people, but to day are turned enemies.* To these I say as S. Peter doth, Better they had never known the way of righteousnesse, &c. 2 Pet. 2. 20. This relapse makes thy condition the worse, as relapses in all kinds are most dangerous. And it is also a signe thou esteemest the service of sinne better then the service of God. For he that first served sinne, and then turned to the service of God, and afterwards falls againe to the service of sinne, proclaimes to all the world that he esteemes the service of sinne, better then the service of God, which is an affront to God of an high nature.
There are others serve God, but it is all in hypocr•sie. We live in a complement all age, our mouthes are full of Page 24 service. It is an ordinary phrase, Your humble servant, My humble service, and yet it may be we intend no service at all, but hate them in our hearts. Even so we deale with God. Many like the Souldiers that bowed to Christ and mocked him; That give their outsides to God, and their in∣sides to all uncleannesse; That as Luther saith of Cain, give opus personae Deo, but not personam, their cap and knee to God, but themselves to sinne and iniquity. And indeed this is the capitall and crying sinne of this age; Religion is that which is pretended on all hands: The defence of the Protestant Religion, this newes we heare daily from Ox∣ford. And for this purpose there is an Army of Papists rai∣sed to defend the Protestant Religion. And in this horrid Conspiracy (for the discovery of which we are here met to blesse God,) there was a Declaration framed, to assure the people, that the chiefe cause of their insurrection was to maintaine the Protestant Religion. Just as the Gun∣pouder Traitors, that would have blowne up the Parlia∣ment for the good of the Catholick Religion, Tantum Re∣ligio poterat suadere malorum; the Lord lay not this great sinne of hypocrisie to the charge of this Nation. For my part I am confident that the Popish Army, and the plun∣dering Army, will fight no otherwise for the Protestant Religion, then a Theefe doth for a true mans Purse, which is not to preserve it, but to take it away.
There are a fourth sort that serve God, but it is so cold∣ly, as if God were a dead Idoll: Where shall we find a man fervent in spirit as serving the Lord? Where is our ancient zeale? Oh the cold Prayers, frozen Sacraments, &c. It is possible to find a living Christian, but where shall we find a Christian lively and active in Gods service? Re∣member God will spue out of his mouth a lukewarme Lao∣dicean,* which is a remarkeable place: For that which we spue out, we doe it with delight; we choose some dirty Page 25 corner to ease our stomacks in, and we never reassume what we once spue out: And all this to signifie; That God will for ever cast off with delight, and with shame and con∣fusion, a cold, dead, lukewarme Christian, especially in these active times.
Others serve God, but it is with such horrible irreverence and negligence, such sleepinesse, such lazinesse, as that we would account it a great indignity to be so served by any of our own servants. I read that Caesar spake to one that was afraid to give him too much respect, Hic homo timet timere Caesarem, This man is afraid to be afraid of Caesar. So there are many that are afraid to be too reverent in Gods service: And indeed a man may be too reverent with su∣perstitious reverence, which is irreverence in Gods e∣steeme. But to be Reverend with Scripture Reverence, both inward and outward, this is so necessary,* as that God will not accept of our service without it.
Augustus spake to one that entertained him with home∣ly entertainement, Who made you and I so familiar? We must so serve God as to remember our distance; Cursed is he that doth the worke of the Lord negligently.
There are others that serve God, and enter into Cove∣nant to serve him, as you have lately done; but it is with so many limitations, qualifications, reservations and distin∣ctions, that God connot but abhorre it. Some will serve God with an If: If they can keepe their promotions. Some will serve God in some things and not in others; such was Herod that did many things,* but still reserved his Herodias; Such was Ananias and Saphira, that kept back halfe. Hun∣dreds say with Naaman, In this the Lord pardon me. Some will serve God at some times and not at others, in some places and not in others; But the Lord abhominates all thy services if it be not universall in all things, at all times, in all places, with all thy faculties.
Page 26 Others serve God, but it is according to their own fan∣cies, that are more zealous for one superstitious invention, then for all Gods commandements: You shall know such by this marke, They that are so much for superstitious formes of godlinesse, doe most hate those that have the true power of god∣linesse. The Pharisees were the deadliest enemies Christ had, And the Iewes stirred up the devout women to persecute Paul, Acts 13. 50.
By all this that hath bin said, you may perceive the reason;
1. Why God hath so many servants, and yet so few servants that he delights in; because there are so few that serve him undividedly, everlastingly, inconditionally, zea∣lously. Or,
2. Why God abhorreth all our fastings, and prayers, and Sacraments; or why God saith to our services as he did to the Iewes; To what purpose is the multitude of your ser∣vices? I am weary of them,* &c. Because we serve God with lip-service onely, and knee service, we serve him negligent∣ly, and partially, and coldly. Or,
3. Why so few goe to Heaven? because so few make Ioshuas choice with Ioshuas Ingredients; For unlesse we in∣deavour to serve him here with those fore-named Ingre∣dients, we shall never be saved hereafter.
But now I shall apply my selfe in particular to great men, and yet not excluding others.
This Text reproves those that are advanced by God in∣to great places of Honour and wealth,* and that thinke themselves priviledged by their greatnesse, to be greater in iniquity then in greatnesse, that make no other use of their greatnesse, but to sinne without controule; That are Great men, and Great swearers, Great adulterers, Great Atheists, Great scoffers and mockers at Godlinesse. Let these men know (if any such here,) That the great God is greater then the greatest. Gods lawes are not like unto CobwebsPage 27 (as it is said of mans Lawes) to catch little flies, and let the great flies escape; but God will especially punish great men if they be great transgressours. And therefore Elijah tells Ahab, The dogs shall lick thy blood, thine even thine;* And Obed tells the Princes of Iudah, Are there not with you,*even with you, sinnes against the Lord your God? God made great Nebuchadnezzar to graze like an Oxe. Great Agag was hew∣ed in peeces. God hath his hand-writing upon the wall, to make the great Belshazzars of the earth to tremble, whilest they are carousing in their sacrilegious cupps: Great Herod to whom the people cryed, It is the voice of God not of man,* was eaten up of wormes, repeating these words in the midst of his torments, as Iosephus reports, Be∣hold ye me that seemed to you as a god, how miserably I am in∣forced to depart from you all. In the Old World there were Giants and mighty Anakims, men great in power, and greater in sinne; Their sinnes were Giant-like, and God sent a mighty flood to destroy them. The sinnes of Su∣periours, as they are more visible then the sinnes of infe∣riours (as the Ecclipse of the Sunne is sooner seene then the Ecclipse of a Starre; and a wart upon the face is soo∣ner seene then upon another part,) so also they doe a great deale more hurt, and therefore their condemnation shall be the greater.
They doe more hurt two wayes, by imitation, and by im∣putation.
1. By imitation; Therefore Ieroboam is said to make all Israel to sinne, because his Idolatrous example made all Israel to sinne. When Saul fell upon his Sword, his Ar∣mourbearer seeing the King to doe so,* fell also upon his Sword and killed himselfe. When great men fall into sinne, they fall as men that fall in a croud, drawing many others downe with them. The Persians thought a crooked Nose to be a great ornament, because their Emperour Page 28Cyrus had a crooked Nose. And because Alexander the Great had a wry Neck, his Courtiers did all strive to goe awry with their Necks. The bodies of men are not so sub∣ject to be infected by the illnesse of the aire, as the soules of men by the vices of their Rulers.
Secondly, By imputation; For though it be a certaine truth, That God never punisheth an innocent Nation, The soule that sinneth shall dye: Yet it is as certaine; That God doth oftentimes take an occasion to punish a sinnefull Nation, by imputing the punishment of the Rulers sinne upon the people, or rather by punishing the people for their sinnes, and the Ruler in the people. Quicquid delirant Reges plectuntur Achivi. David had sinned in numbring the peo∣ple, and for this sinne 70000. of his people must perish by the plague. No doubt the Israelites were grievous sinners, and so it is expresly said, 2 Sam. 24. 1. But the most just God at the same time, punished the people and David also in the losse of his subjects. As it is no wrong in a Judge to make the back of a Theefe pay for the sinne which his hand hath committed, no more is it injustice in God to punish the members of a politick body when the head is in fault; So neere is the union betweene Prince and people, and so prone are the people to follow the sinnes of their Princes, and so to partake of their punishments. And therefore if the sinnes of great men bring poore people into miseries, it is just and equall that great men should be brought into misery for those sinnes for which they bring others into misery.
But besides this; There are two other reasons why God will be sure to punish great men when they are great of∣fenders.
1. Because the punishing of great men doth a great deale more good then the punishing of others. For hereby it appeares, that God is no respecter of persons: Tribula∣tion Page 29 and anguish upon every soule that doth evill, and first upon the Rulers and Nobles, and then upon others. And hereby also inferiours and poore people are kept under sub∣jection to Gods law, when they perceive that their superi∣ours cannot escape without Gods severe chastisement. As in a Schoole, when the Master picks out one of the greatest youths in the Schoole and whips him for a fault, all the little boyes sit and tremble, and learne to avoid those faults for which they see their betters punished. Thus when Goliah the great was slaine, all the Philistimes fled away pre∣sently. The beholding of Gods severe punishments upon great ones, will be a notable Sermon to make inferiours godly and religious.
2. Because unles God did punish great men they would escape altogether unpunished. Great men by mony, by might and authority, by friends, and through feare for the most part are free from Civill and Ecclesiasticall censures. And therefore it behoves the high Iehovah to take them in∣to his own hand, and to bring great men into great pressures, if they sin greatly against him.
I have read a notable speech in a Popish writer, That few Confessours of rich men are saved, that is in our English lan∣guage, Few Noble-mens Chaplaines are saved. And the rea∣son he gives, is, Because they are subject to flatter their Lords and Masters for hope of preferment, and so to bring the guilt of the bloud of the soules of their Lords upon their owne soules. Now that I may not be guilty of this fault, let me speake my mind freely to you that are Gentle∣men and Noble-men here assembled this day.
First, let me tell you that great places, as they are great a∣bilities and opportunities to doe God service and great bles∣sings if improved accordingly. So if they be not improo∣ved for that end they are great curses, they are soule-traps, silken-halters, golden damnations. And there cannot be a Page 30 greater signe of a man that hath his Heaven in this life, then to be great and wicked, rich and wicked. And therefore Abraham tels Dives, Luc. 16. 25. Remember sonne that thou in thy life time hast had thy good things, but now thou art tor∣mented. Gregory the great never read this Text, but it made him tremble, and it may justly cause all such as are cloathed in purple and fare deliciously every day to trem∣ble.
Consider further that Text, 1 Cor. 1. 26. You see your calling brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called. There are some no∣ble men called, but not many. There are but few that are great and rich here, and great and rich hereafter. A Text to be trembled at by great men. The Ostrich is not able to fly high as the Larke, because her wings are so big. The Moone is never in the ecclipse, but when it is in the full, and then it is most distant from the Sunne. Fullnesse of outward prosperi∣ty and happinesse should indeed be maximum vinculum obe∣dientiae, the greatest bond of obedience; but yet it proves for the most part, maximus laqueus Diaboli, the greatest snare the Devill hath to entrap our soules. This is the rea∣son why so few of the Noble-men and Gentlemen of the Kingdome appeare on the Parliaments side in this great time of necessity. Not many mighty, not many noble are called. Thus it was in Christs time. The great men and the great Schollars crucified Christ, and the poore received the Gospell. The followers of Christ were a company of poore people and silly women: This made the chiefe Priests say, Joh. 7. 48, 49. Have any of the Rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? But this people who knoweth not the Law are accursed. Thus it was in Christs time, and thus it is in ours. Poore Lazarus goeth to Heaven, when rich Dives is carried to Hell, Surgunt indocti & rapiunt coelum, & nos cum nostrâ doctrinâ mergimur in profundum. It was Page 31 the saying of a Schoole-master to a King that sent to see how he did when he was dying. The Schoole-master re∣turned this answer. Tell the King I am going to a place where few Kings come, meaning to Heaven.
Consider lastly those two places of Scripture, Re. 6. 15, 16, 17. The Kings and the great men and rich men wish for the Moun∣tains to hide them, &c. And Isa. 30. 33. Tophet is prepared of old even for the King it is prepared. By King is meant in all proba∣bility the great King of Assyria, as may appeare by the con∣text.
The Lord give you hearts to consider these things.
Now I proceed to an Use of Exhortation. And here I will apply my selfe; first to all men, as well as great men: Secondly, to great men especially,* and yet not excluding others.
First, To all men in generall. To perswade all men to make Ioshuah's choise their choise,* to choose to serve the Lord, and not only so, but also to serve him with all the Ingredients before mentioned; to serve him transcendent∣ly, inconditionally, universally, undividedly, reverently, e∣verlastingly, &c. For it is the manner of serving of God, that is the distinguishing Character of a true servant. Cain of∣fered Sacrifice as well as Abell. The wicked worship God, pray and receive Sacraments as well as the godly. But A∣bell offered in faith, so did not Cain. The godly serve God in sincerity, with reverence, diligence and chearfullnes, in∣deavouring in all things to keep a good conscience, so do not the wicked. That Text which I have so often named, He. 12. 28. makes the acceptation of our service to depend not upon our serving of God, but upon our serving of God with reve∣rence and godly fear. It is the right manner of serving of God, that makes thy service a sweet perfume. And it is the right manner of worshipping also, that makes thee a true wor∣shipper, and that causeth God to delight in thy worship, and Page 32 to desire to be worshipped by them, according to that excellent place, Joh. 4. 23. But the houre commeth and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. And there∣fore let me ingage you all this day for God and his services. Let us give up our names to God, and enter into a holy Covenant to serve him with all the Ingredients. For marke what Moses saith, Exod. 19. 5. If ye will obey me indeed, then yee shall be a peculiar treasure, &c. He doth not say simply, If you will obey me, but if ye will obey me indeed. And so also, Deut. 28. 1. If you will hearken diligently to doe all his Commandements then the Lord will blesse thee, &c. He doth not say simply, if you will hearken, but if you will hear∣ken diligently, and observe to doe all my Commandements. Let us serve God as God and for God. As a God transcen∣dently, inconditionally; For Gods sake sincerely, faith∣fully.
To perswade you to the practise of these things, Con∣sider what hath bin already said concerning the necessity of this duty. I adde further the consideration of the excel∣lency, profitablenesse, comfortablenesse and easinesse of this duty.
The excellency and honourablenesse of Joshuah's choice. For indeed it is not only a duty,* but a high Prerogative to be the servant of the high God, Deo servire regnare est. And therefore whereas Mat. 13. 17. it is said, Many Prophets and Iust men, &c. In Luk. 10. 24. It is said, Many Prophets and Kings, to note unto us, That Iust men are Kings, Rev. 1. 6. This was Moses his honour, and it is often repeated, Moses my Servant, &c. This was Ioshuah's honour often repea∣ted: My servant Joshuah, &c. This was Davids honour, I am thy servant O Lord, I am thy servant. And it is prefix∣ed as a Title to the 36. Psalme. A Psalme of David the servant of the Lord. It is a great honour that God will Page 33 thinke us worthy to be his servants. And therfore Paul stiles himself, Paul a servant of Iesus Christ. It is the certainest signe of a reprobate to have much wages here, and to want a heart to do service with it. It is a great happines to be in place to do service. It is the honour of our honours to be inabled by them to do God service. Non est laboriosa sed amabilis & optan∣da haec servitus, saith Austin. It is no painfull and laborious service, but a service to be loved and longed for.
As it is honourable to be a servant of God, so also the services themselves are honourable, Pretiosa haec servitus virtutum constat expensis. This precious and honourable service stands in the practise of all vertues, in praying unto God and praising of God, &c. O let this perswade us to be∣gin this day to serve God more strictly then ever.
Adde secondly, The profitablenesse of this service.* There is no service any man doth for God but God takes exact notice of it; Thus God tooke notice of Abrahams willing∣nesse to offer Isaac, Gen. 22. 16. God takes notice of every circumstance of that that we doe for him. Thus Christ took notice of Mary Magdalen and of every circumstance of her washing his feet, &c. Luk. 7. 44, 45, 46. And Mark. 4. 2, 3. Christ observes how farre some came to heare him, and how long they tarried, &c. And as God takes notice of these things in his servants, so he commends them upon all occasions and highly esteemes of them and their services. Thus God boasted to Satan concerning his servant Iob, Job 1. 8. Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him, &c. And as none observes, commends and prizeth his servants so much as God, so none rewards his servants as God doth. None more able and none more willing. The service of God is perfect freedome, and it will free us from all other services. As a man that buyeth free-hold Land, though he pay deare for it, yet it is accounted chea∣per then coppy-hold, because it freeth him from many ser∣vices, Page 34 vices, which the coppy-hold is obliged unto. If thou be∣est a servant of Gods indeed and in truth, this will free thee from the service of sinne and Satan. Whereas on the con∣trary; If we be not true servants to Christ, we shall be slaves to every thing beside him. O quam multos habet Do∣minos, qui unum non habet. O how many Lords hath that man that hath not Christ for his Lord. Either thy belly will be thy god, or thy mony, &c. The service of sinne, as it is shamefull, so it is unfruitfull. And it is called, The unfruitfull worke of darknesse. But the service of God, as it is honourable, so it ends in everlasting life. No man ever kindled a fire upon Gods Altar for nought, Mal. 1. 9. In keeping of Gods Commandements there is great reward, Psal. 10. And indeed God himselfe is the exceeding great reward of his servants, Gen. 17. 1. This is a service wherein the servant hath all the profit and the Master none.
Object. If there be so much profit in Gods service, why are Gods servants so much persecuted and afflicted in this life?
Answ. 1. This is part of their service to be persecuted, for we serve God by suffering as well as by doing.
2. It is a great honour that God will account us worthy to suffer for him.* And therefore the Apostles rejoyced that they were accounted worthy to be whipped for Christ sake. They did not rejoyce in whipping as whipping, but (flagella prop∣ter Christum) to be whipped for Christs sake was matter of great joy unto them. The Apostle tels us, That to us it is given, not only to believe, but also to suffer.* It is a great gift of God to give us opportunity to suffer for him. This is that to which we are predestinated, 1 Thes. 3. 3. Our Savi∣our Christ reckoneth it as part of our reward in this life, Mar. 10. 30. And he professeth that it will mightily increase our reward in Heaven, Luk. 6. 22, 23. Mat. 5. 12.
Ob. But why are Gods servants so poore if his service be so profitable?
Page 35Answ. 1. God doth as other masters that keepe their wa∣ges till the worke be done. This life is the time of working, hereafter we shall have wages enough, Psal. 31. 19. O how great are the good things which thou hast laid up, &c. 2. Cor. 4. 17.
2. I answer that for the present even in this life, no ser∣vant of God is poore, but so long and so much as God se∣eth to be good for him, for if it were good to be rich, he should be rich, Psa. 84. 10. No good thing would he with-hold from him that liveth a godly life. He that hath given thee Christ, will with him give thee all things. He that will give thee a Crowne hereafter, will not deny thee a crum here, if good for thee. There are many deare servants of God, to whom God giveth very little wages in this life, because he fore-seeth that if they had a great part of their wages a∣fore-hand, they would doe but little worke. As many work-men that are paid before their worke be done, when they have their pay, begin to slacke their worke. And in∣deed we see it too too true in many great rich personages that have so much of their pay before hand, that they doe many of them but very little service, and some of them thinke that they are priviledged from doing much service, because they have so much wages, whereas indeed it ought to be an obligation to greater service, as I have already shewed. O that the profitablenesse of this service might in∣gage us to serve him more faithfully and more diligently then every yet we have done.
3. Consider the comfortablenesse of this service.* It is a service full of soule-satisfying and soule-ravishing joy, Psal. [ 3] 63. 2. Psal. 84. 4, 10. One day in thy Courts is better then a thousand, &c. How did Hannah rejoyce after she had bin praying? How did the Eunuch rejoyce after he had bin baptized? O the pure and undefiled comfort that is to be found in the Word! This made David say, That he had Page 36 perished in his affliction had not the Word beene his com∣fort.
What ineffable comfort in a Sacrament rightly received, and after a few teares shed for sin, after a prayer made with the 10. Ingredients formerly named. And the reason why the service of God is so brim-full of comfort, is,
1. Because Gods service is a type of Heaven, wherin is ful∣nesse of joy.
2. Because in the service of God we have communion with God, who is the God of all consolation, and with the Spirit of God, who is called the Comforter. And as a man that walkes amongst perfumes must needs smell of the per∣fume. So they that converse with the God of all joy must needs be filled with all joy. And therefore David cals God his exceeding joy, Ps. 43. 4.
If there be so much comfort in Gods service,* what is the reason that wicked men account it a wearisomnes and a bur∣den, and snuffe at it, as it is, Mal. 1. 13.
You may as well aske,* why a Swine finds no delight in a greene meadow? Even because it is a Swine. Or why a horse takes no delight in reading? Even because it is above his capacity. A wicked man is like a fish out of his ele∣ment, when he is in Gods service, he is all fleshly, world∣ly and naturall, and the service is spirituall, heavenly and supernaturall. No wonder therefore he delights not in it. But this is the wicked mans curse.
But what is the reason that many of Gods people doe not find comfort in Gods service?*
There are none of Gods people but they do sometime or other find comfort,* either in the ordinances, or from the or∣dinances.
2. If at any time they misse of comfort it is because they doe not meet with God, whom they came to converse withall. As when a man goeth to meet with a friend, and Page 37 meets him not, he comes away sadded in his spirit. So when a child of God comes to an ordinance, hoping to en∣joy sweet communion with God in it, and then failes of his expectation, this must needs fill him full of sadnesse. And therfore Bernard hath an excellent speech. Nunquam abs te recedo Domine sine te. That he never went from God with∣out God. Give me leave to adde a clause to Bernards speech. And happy is that Christian that when he goeth to con∣verse with God in his ordinances can say. Nunquam ad te accedo sine te, nunqum abs te recedo sine te. Oh Lord I never come to thee, but I meet thee, and I never goe from thee, but I car∣ry thee with me.
But what is the reason that Gods people doe sometimes misse of Gods comfortable presence,* when they come to serve God?
Because they doe not bring the Ingredients formerly na∣med.* They doe not serve God with reverence, diligence, zeale, chearfullnesse, &c. Either they bring no vessels at all to hold the consolations of God, (I meane no hunger after Gods presence in an ordinance.) Or else they bring vessels so little and so narrow mouth'd that will hold but very little water. (I meane they bring so little hunger after God, that God will not vouchsafe to satisfie it.) Or else it is because they bring their ordinary hearts, their carnall and worldly hearts to hea∣venly, spirituall and extraordinary duties. Hearts unsuta∣ble to the duties, and hearts unsensible of the duties. Or els there is some Achan unstoned, some sin unrepented on, that ecclipseth the light of Gods countenance, some spirituall obstruction. These and such like are the causes why Gods people misse sometimes of comfort in Gods service.
But the fault is never in the service, which is so brim-full of such rare and ravishing comforts, that Bernard relates this Story of himselfe, That someties when he went to his prayers he found himselfe dull and heavy, but after he had Page 38 strugled a little with his dullnesse, all on a suddaine, he was visited with the visitation of the Almighty, Beatum me praedica∣rem, &c. I should account my selfe happy (saith he) if these visitations would alwayes last, Sed rara hora, brevis mora, oh si duraret! But, ô but it continueth but for a while! And St. Austin relates this Story of himselfe, That upon a time when he and his Mother Monica were discoursing to∣gether about the joyes of Heaven, and the comforts of Gods Spirit, they were so filled with joy that Austin useth these words, Lord thou knowest in that day, Quam mundus eviluit cum omnibus suis delectationibus, &c. How vildly we did esteeme of the world with all his delights. The com∣forts of the world are not worthy to be named that day that we speake of these comforts. Oh let the comfortablenesse of this service oblige you from hence-forth to serve God better then ever yet you have done.
Adde fourthly and lastly,* The easinesse of this service, [ 4] Matth. 11. 29, 30. My yoake is easie and my burden is light.
How can the service of God be said to be easie?*
To a fleshly carnall heart it is a burden intolerable.* But it may be said to be easie.
1. In regard of the service God required under the Covenant of works. For there God required perfect obedience in our owne persons, not admitting of Repentance. But in the service required under the covenant of grace, we have a Me∣diatour to fly unto, and admittance unto favour upon Re∣pentance.
2. It may be said to be easie, in regard of the service of sinne and of the Devill. There are many that take more paines to serve sinne and money, then those that goe to Heaven doe to serve God. Many take more pains to goe to hell, then others doe to goe to Heaven.
3. It may be said to be easie, in regard of the many services Page 39 it frees us from, as you heard even now. As Diogenes told Alexander, when he boasted that he was Lord of the whole world. Tu servus servorum meorum es. Illis enim cupiditati∣bus quibus ego impero tu mancipiumes. Thou art a servant to my servants, a slave to those lusts over which I am Lord.
4. Easie to the new nature, Rom. 7. 22. As the light of the Sunne is delightsome to those that have good eyes, so the service of God to those that are new creatures. It is as na∣turall to the new creature to pray, as it is to the old-creature to be drunke.
5. Easie to those that have the aid of Gods Spirit. As it is easie for a child to goe up stairs when his father leads him up. So when led by the Spirit.
6. Easie to those that are in Christ. And therefore Christ saith, Take up my yoake. Christ cals it his yoake. Because he drawes it with us, and he drawes all. As it is easie for a lit∣tle child to life up a great weight, when a Giant holds his hand, and lifts with him and for him.
7. Easie to those that love God, 1 John 5. 3. Iacob for the love of Rachell accounted lightly of his service. Love adds wings to make our service easie.
8. Easie to those that have the right art of serving of God. As in all trades almost there is an Art, which when we have once got the trade is easie. So there is an art of praying and preaching, and hearing and receiving the Sacrament, &c. An art taught us by the God of Heaven, which whosoever hath, accounts it not a burden, but a heaven, to be serving of God.
9. Easie to those that have the consolations of Gods Spirit in the service of God. As Merchants doe ordinarily give a tast of their wines to those to whom they sell them, that so they may be invited to buy them. So God doth give a taste of Heaven to his servants in his service, a praelibamen of Hea∣ven Page 40 to invite them to serve him more cheerfully. A Hound is never weary as long as he hath the sent of the Hare. No more is a servant of God, as long as he enjoyeth God in his service.
10. Easie in regard of what it might have been. Thou migh∣test have bin in hell at this instant, past worshipping God, suffering everlasting torments.
11. Easie to doe what God for Christ sake in the Covenant of grace well accept, though not to doe what God requires.
12. Easie in regard of the great reward, the exceeding great reward that God will give to his servant. Finis dat amabilita∣tem, & facilitatem medijs. The end proposed to a worke makes the worke amiable and easie. Where the reward is fullnesse and perpetuity of happinesse, no service can be said to be hard, to purchase such a reward.
All this is spoken that none might be deterred from the service of God upon a false supposall of the difficulty and impossibility of it. And it is my earnest prayer that these motives might perswade us, not only to serve God, but to serve him with all the Ingredients.
Tertullian observes, God was never called Lord, till man was made. He is the peculiar Lord of man. O let man be his chiefe servant. All creatures in their course serve God. None but man and Devils deny it. And how just is it for God to joyne him with the Devils in punishment, that joynes with the Devill in dishonouring of God. Remember when we come to judgement this will be the great Question Christ will put to us, not to aske us, what money we have got, what honours we have purchased? But what service have you done to me and for me? This is the end for which thou wert created. Christ will aske whether this be done? And if not done, thou art undone. When Christ came to die he said, Iohn 17. 3, 4. Father glorifie me for I have glorified thee. Happy is that man that when he comes to die can make this Argu∣ment. Page 41 Father I have fought a good fight, I have made it my worke to doe thee service, &c. There are many that can plead, Father I have dishonoured thy Name, and there∣fore glorifie me! But this is a false argument. Let us labour to make Christs prayer in sincerity and faithfulnes.*
But now I come to apply my self to great men, and noble men in particular. Let me speak unto you in Davids words, Psal. 29. 1, 2. Give unto the Lord O ye mighty, give unto the Lord glory and strength, give unto the Lord the glory due to his Name. And let me use Davids reason, Psa. 29. 5. The voice of the Lord breaketh the Cedars, yea the Lord breaketh the Co∣dars of Lebanon. As the higher the Tree is, the more it is exposed to the thunder of Heaven. So the greater any man is, the sooner God will punish him if he be a Giant in iniquity. For he bindeth Kings in chaines,*and Nobles in linkes of Iron. He toucheth the Mountaines and they smoake.* If thou beest as a Mountaine in greatnesse, and thy sinnes as Moun∣taines in greatnesse, God will make thee smoake, &c. Great men must labour to be like the great God, who is as great in goodnesse, as in greatnesse. Deus optimus maximus, like unto Iob, who was the greatest man in the East, and the best man in the East. O that I could engage great men this day in sense of Gods goodnesse, expressed in this wonderfull De∣liverance (for which weare come to blesse God) to serve God with all the Ingredients for the time to come, better then ever they have done for the time past. Oh that you would enter into a solemne Covenant to sweare no more, to commit adultery no more, to be irreverent, negligent, cold, hypocriticall in Gods service no more, to mock and scoffe at Gods servants no more. Greatnes without goodnesse is like the greatnesse of a dropsie man, it is thy disease, not thy ornament. Riches without righteousnesse is like a golden ring in a Swines snout, like a Sword in a mad mans hand, like an Vni∣corns horne, which while it is upon the head of the Unicorne Page 42 is hurtfull and deadly, but when it is taken off, it is very use∣full and medicinall. Honours and riches when in a wicked mans custody, they do much hurt, but when bestowed up∣on good men, they doe much good. It is a most blessed con∣junction, when Religion and Righteousnesse meet together. It is like a precious Diamond in a gold-ring. Indeed Religion is good wheresoever it is. As a pearle is good though it be in the dirt, it is a pearle, but it is obscured by the dirt in which it is. When goodnesse is seated in a poore man, it is like a jewell in a leaden ring, like a candle under a bushell. But when goodnesse meets with greatnesse, it is like a Candle upon a hill that gives light, heat and influence to all the Country round about.
Let no great man thinke it a disparagement to serve God, to weare his livery, and to appeare on his side. For it is Gods service onely that can make you truly honourable. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast bin honourable, saith the Prophet Isaiah 43. 4. The men of Beraea were more noble then the men of Thessalonica, because they received the word with all readinesse of mind, and searched into the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so, Act. 17. 11. This is the greatest Nobility to be a true servant of the great God. A King may give great Titles to a great man, but he cannot make a great man. A King may cause a man to be called noble, but he cannot make a man truly noble. A King may command us to call a Lion a Lambe; but a King cannot make a Lion a Lambe. It is the noble mind that makes a man tru∣ly noble. This God onely can give. To contemne the world and all worldly things, to mind the things of eternity, to con∣quer our lusts, to have communion with the great God, to stand for God when all the world opposeth him, this is true nobility. This will make thee noble in this world, and in the world that is to come.
I say againe, Let no great man account it a disparagementPage 43 to be Gods servant. Let him not only consider the example of Ioshua a Prince and Ruler, and of David, and Paul before named, but also of Constantine the great, who was so atten∣tive to the word when it was preached and so reverent, as that he would sometimes stand up (as Eusebius saith) all the while. And when his Courtiers rebuked him, saying, It would tend to his disparagement; He answered: That it was in the service of the great God, who is no respecter of per∣sons. Take the example of Theodosius, who is reported to have written out the New-Testament with his owne hand, accounting it as a speciall Jewell, and out of it, he read e∣very day praying with his Empresse, and with his sister sing∣ing of Psalmes, &c.
Suffer me to adde the third time, Let not great men thinke it a disparagement to become Gods servants, and to serve him strictly and precisely.* If these examples will not move you, consider the Angels of Heaven, who are our Fellow-servants, and are said by a kind of excellency,*To doe his Commandements, hearkning to the voice of his word. The Angels serve God with a great deale of alacrity and chearefullnesse,* and therefore they are said to have harpes, as a signe of their chearefull mind. The Angels serve God with a great deale of diligence and sedulity. And therefore they are said to have wings and to fly. They serve God with a great deale of zeale and ardency, and therefore they are said to be a flaming fire. And therefore also the title of a Se∣raphim is given unto them. The Angels serve God univer∣sally. They follow the Lambe wheresoever he goeth; They serve him constantly, sincerely.*The Angels alwaies behold his face, Mat. 18. 10. They serve him day and night, Revel. 7. 15. Oh that the Lord would make you more and more An∣gelicall in his service, to doe his will upon earth, as it is done in Heaven!
Let me adde an example beyond all examples, even thePage 44 example of Iesus Christ himselfe, who is called Gods servant, Esa. 42. 1. And he was a worshipper of God, Joh. 4. 22. A di∣ligent keeper of Gods Sabbath, Luk. 4. 16. He used Praier in his familie, Luk. 9. 18. He was wont to pray secretly by himselfe Luk. 5. 16. And he used this custome of Prayer morning and evening. In the morning, Mark. 1. 35. rising up a great while before daie. And for evening, Mat. 14. 23. And this was his custome to doe, Luk. 22. 39. He went as he was wont to the Mount of Olives. And sometimes he would pray all night long, Luk. 6. 12. And this worship Christ did with as much submissi∣on and devotion as ever any servant did, Luk. 22. 41. Mat. 26. 39.
If Christ did all this, surely it is no dishonour for the greatest Emperour to doe that which Christ hath done. As you are called Christians, so you must imitate that Lord and Master, by whose name you are called.
Let no man wonder that I spend so much time to per∣swade great men to be exemplary in Gods service, and to be diligent and zealous. For if I could convert but one great man this day,* I should doe a great deale of service by way of eminency. For as he said, In uno Caesare multi insunt Ma∣rij, in one great man there are many inferiours contained. As it is in Printing, the great difficulty is in printing the first Sheetes, and when one is printed, it is easie to print hundreds by that. So the great worke of our Ministery is to convert great-men, if they were once converted, hundreds would follow their example; When the great wheele of a Clocke is set a moving all the inferiour wheeles will move of their own accord. This was the reason why St. Paul was so zealous a∣bout the conversion of Sergius Paulus, who was Deputy of the Country, and a prudent man, that when Elymas the Sor∣cerer offered to withstand him, he burst out into such spee∣ches with such eagernesse, as he never did at any time be∣fore, for ought we can reade, Oh thou child of the Devill, Page 45 thou enemy of all righteousnesse, &c. And some are of opini∣on that Paul had his name changed from Saul to Paul,* be∣cause he converted Sergius Paulus. For indeed it is a matter of great consequence to convert one Sergius Paulus, one Eunuch. To take one such great fish is more then to take ma∣ny little ones, though the least of all is not to be despi∣sed.
There is one argument yet behind, the last, but not the least, and that is from the holy and solemn Covenant you late∣ly have taken to amend your lives. The excellency of a Christian is not so much in taking a Covenant as in keeping of it when taken. And therefore we reade of Iosiah, 2 Chro. 34. 31, 32. that he did not onely make a Covenant to walke af∣ter the Lord, and to keepe his Commandements with all his heart, &c. but he caused all that were present in Jerusalem and Ben∣jamin to stand to it. For if that man shall never goe to Hea∣ven that will not keepe his promises though made to his hurt, how much more shall they be barr'd from Heaven that break those promises that they have made tending to their eternall good. To breake Covenant is not only a brand of a Reprobate, (as you have heard) but it is also a sinne that God hath a quar∣rell against, and a sinne for which he will be avenged, ac∣cording to that Text, Levit. 26. 25. And I will bring a Sword upon you, that shall avenge the quarrell of my Covenant. And this is one great reason why the Sword is now drawne in England, and hath sucked so much bloud, even to avenge the great breach of Oaths and Covenants, which this Nation is deepely guilty of. Let me make bold further to remind you, that in this Covenant you have also vowed, in order to the preservation of them, to assist the forces raised by the Parlia∣ment, according to your power and vocation, and not to assist the forces raised by the King, neither directly nor indirectly. And I doubt not but you will make conscience to satisfie these two clauses, and herein you shall expresse the reality of Page 46 your thanks for this great deliverance this day celebrated. Now because the speedy, faithfull and couragious appearance in this great Cause of defensive Armes, is one of the highest expressions that you can yeeld to the world of your love to God and his Gospell, and to his service; Give me leave to speake something about it, not only by way of Exhorta∣tion, but first by way of Commendation, then Exhortation, then by way of Incouragement, and then I shall conclude.
[ 1] First, By way of Commendation.
Suffer me to speake that which is due to you,* and not in mine own words, but to speake the sense of all the well-affected in the Kingdome; We blesse God, that though there are many fallen Starres, many Lords that have deser∣ted the Parliament, that yet you (Right Honourable) stand firme like fixed Starres in your Orbes, and have taken un∣wearied paines for the good of the Church and State, and have ventured all for your Religion and Liberties, and ma∣ny of you lost a great part of your revenewes for the pre∣sent, and have passed many Ordinances very advantageous to the Kingdome.*The Lord be blessed for all the good you have done! The Lord recompence it to you and yours! The Lord grant you may find mercy from the Lord at that great day! It is not the designe of the well-affected party to take away Temporall Lordships, or the distinction between Lords and Commons, and to bring all to a popular equality. This is an Anabaptisticall fury. I protest against it in the Name of all the Well-affected Ministers. Indeed we would be glad to be rid of Spirituall Lords over our consciences. But as for Temporall Lords, we pray with David, The Lord give you good successe, Ride on and prosper.* Thus much for com∣mendation.
Now for Exhortation,
Let me exhort you not only to choose to serve God, and to serve his Church and his Cause in this most just defen∣sive Page 47 Warre, but to doe it with those rare and remarkeable circumstances formerly mentioned in Ioshuas choise.
First, Let me perswade you to appeare more and more [ 1] publikely in this Cause. There are many that thinke it fit onely for poore men that have nothing to loose, to appeare openly in a good Cause, but as for those that have great Estates, it becomes them to be wary and circumspect, and to seeke rather to save their Estates then to hazard all. Such a one was Nicodemus that came to Christ by night, though afterwards he repented and amended, as you may reade, Iohn 7. 50, Such were those chiefe Rulers, Ioh. 12. 42, That beleeved in Christ, but durst not confesse him so feare of the Pharisees, least they should be put out of the Synagogue. And many such there are in our dayes. But a true Christian is so far from being hindred by his ri∣ches and greatnesse from appearing for God,* that he is glad that he hath riches and Honours to loose for God, he re∣ceives joyfully the spoiling of his goods. He willingly parts with all for Christs Cause. And if you aske him why he doth so, he will answer with Paulinus Nolanus, Vt levius ascenderet scalam Iacobi, That he might goe the lighter to Heaven. He saith as that famous Noble-man Hormisdas did, who when he was deposed from all his Honours be∣cause he would not forsake his Religion, and afterwards restored to his Honours again, and then commanded by the King of Persia to renounce his profession. Answered, Si prop∣ter ista me denegaturum Christum put as, ist a denuo acoipe. If you thinke I will deny Christ for to keepe my Honours,* take them all back againe. S. Austin in his Confessions relates an excellent Story of one Victorinus a great man at Rome that had many great friends that were Heathen, but it plea∣sed God to convert him to the Christian Religion, and he comes to one Simplicianus, and tells him secretly that he was a Christian. Simplicianus answers, Non credam, nec de∣putabo Page 48 te inter Christianos, nisi in Ecclesiâ Christi te videro. I will not beleeve thee to be a Christian, till I see you open∣ly professe it in the Church. At first Victorinus derided his answer, and said, Ergone parietes faciunt Christianum? Doe the walls make a Christian? But afterwards remem∣bring and often pondering that Text of our Saviour, He that is ashamed of me before men,*I will be ashamed of him before my Father, &c. he returnes to Simplicianus, and professeth himselfe openly in the Church to be a Christian. Let this Text of Christ alwayes sound in our eares, He that is asha∣med of me, &c. And that Text, Revel. 21. 8. where the feare∣full are put in the fore-front of those that shall goe to Hell, before murderers, whoremongers and Idolaters, &c. And re∣member also the publikenesse of Ioshuas choice.
[ 2] Secondly, Let me exhort you to goe on more and more resolutely in this great Cause. Therefore my beloved bretheren be ye stedfast, unmoveable, alwayes abounding in the worke of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labour is not in vaine in the Lord. It is not enough to doe the worke of the Lord, and to abound in it, but we must doe it stedfastly and unmoveably, stedfastly as a Tree fastned in the ground, that is not removed though the winds blow never so much; unmoveable as a Rock in the Sea, that stands fast though the Sea rageth and roareth round about it. For there are so many, and so mighty Anakims and Zanzummims that are your enemies, so many temptations both of the right hand and of the left, both flattering and frowning, fiery tryalls, and golden Apples. So many mountaines of opposition lying in your way, that unlesse you be indued with this ex∣cellent grace of spirituall resolution, you will never be able to doe God any service in thesetimes. But this admirable grace of divine fortitude and Christian resolution, will make you like a wall of brasse, to beate backe all the arrowes of strong perswasion, that are shot against you. This is Ar∣mour Page 49 of proofe, against all kind of temptations. This is as the ballast of a Ship, to keepe you steddy in this great Cause, without which you will be 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉,*men of double-minds unsetled and unstable in all your wayes. This is like the Angel that rouled away the stone from before the doore of the Sepulcher, this will inable you either to remove the great mountaines that lye in your way,* or to stride over them. Excellent is the Story of S. Basill. The Emperour sent to him to subscribe to the Arrian Heresie. The Messenger at first gave him good language, and promised him great pre∣ferment if he would turne Arrian. To which Basill an∣swered. Alas, these speeches are fit to catch little children withall that looke after such things; but we that are nourished and taught by the holy Scriptures, are readier to suffer a 1000. deaths, then to suffer one syllable or title of the Scripture to be altered. The Messenger offended with his boldnesse, told him he was mad. He answered. Opto me in aeternum sic de∣lirare, I wish I were for ever thus mad! Here was a stout Cedar. Such another was Luther, Vnus homo solus totius orbis impetum sustinuit, Luther alone opposed all the world. Such another was Nehemiah, who met with so much oppo∣sition, that had he not bin steeled by a strong and obstinate resolution, he could never have rebuilded the Temple, but would have sunke in the midst of it. Such a one was Da∣vid, that would not be hindered from fighting with Goliah though he met with many discouragements. The Lord make you such. It is resolution that will make you valiant for the truth,* that will make Martyrdome as pleasing as a bed of Roses, that will make you like men of fire, and all that oppose you as stubble, that will make you say with that good Martyr, Though we had as many lives as haires on our head, we would loose them all rather then loose our Religion. The Lord fill your hearts with this grace!
Thirdly, I am to beseech you that you would indeavour [ 3] Page 50 to approve your selves more and more faithfull to this Cause. It is with us as it was with Nehemiah when he un∣dertooke the great worke of rebuilding the Temple, he was opposed by great men especially. The Nobles of Te∣koah refused to put their necks to the yoake of the Lord. This is an eternall brand upon them, Nehem. 3. 5. Many of the Nobles of Iudah, did seeme to helpe Nehemiah, but they kept secret correspondency with Tobiah, and tarried with Ne∣hemiah only to give private intelligence to the enemy, and to weaken his hands from going on in the worke, Neh. 6. 17. Thus it was in Nehemiah's dayes. And this is one of the miseries of Civill Warre above all other kinds of Warre: For there are alwayes some false brethren, some Iudasses in civill Warre. But I beleeve better things of you. The Lord make you more and more faithfull to his Cause! Remember what became of Iudas for his treachery.
[ 4] Fourthly, Suffer me to put you in mind of the speedinesse of Joshuas choice. Ioshua had not his Religion to choose, and therefore he did not demurre upon his choice. Me thinks I heare the whole Kingdome beseeching you greatly and saying as the Ruler did to Christ in another case,*The Kingdome lieth at the point of death, make haste, oh make haste to heale us. The whole Kingdome is on fire, make haste to quench the flames that our sinnes have kindled. Nothing will destroy England more then delay.
[ 5] Fifthly, Let me perswade you to doe some extraordinary service for the Kingdome that is now in extraordinary danger. Ioshuas choice was extraordinary. Though all Israel for∣sooke God, Ioshua was resolved to serve God alone. God hath done extraordinary things for you, he hath advanced you above thousands in outward mercies, hee hath done extraordinary things for this Cause which you stand up for, he hath given us an extraordinary deliverance this day, and therefore he expects extraordinary service from Page 51 you.* He lookes you should say and doe as Esther; If I pe∣rish I perish. And let that Text I beseech you lye neare your hearts, and reade it againe and againe. Thinke not with your selves that you shall escape in the Kings house, more then all the Jewes, for if you altogether hold your peace, enlargement and deliverance shall arise to the Jewes from another place, but you and your fathers houses shall be destroyed, and who knoweth whe∣ther you are come to the Kingdome for such a time as this? He lookes you should venture your selves as Ioseph of A∣rimathea did,* of whom it is related, that he was a rich man and yet was not afraid to owne the cause of Christ, when Christ was dead upon the Crosse, He went to Pilate and beg∣ged the body of Iesus.* He expects you should be like Ebed∣melech that hazarded his life to helpe Ieremiah out of prison, like to Noah who walked with God when all the world wal∣ked with iniquity, and was like a sparke of fire in a Sea of wa∣ter, and yet continued his heate. Like to David,* who when Michal mocked him for dancing before the Arke, answered, It is before the Lord, and I will yet be more vile then thus, &c. When you are derided for hazarding lives and estates in this cause, you must reply. It is for God and his Religion, I will yet be more vile then thus. Oh that the Lord would give you a heart to study to doe some singular thing for him!
Sixthly, You must doe all this, not onely in your own per∣sons, [ 6] but you and your houses, you and your Tenants, you and all that depend upon you. For every Master of a family stands accountable to God for his family as well as for himselfe; For these publike relations, and subordinations of Master and servant, Father and child, &c. are from Gods appointment, and are parts of our Stewardship, for which we must give a severe account. And it is a certaine rule, That man is not a good man, that is not good in all his relations. For there are duties required of us by God in every relation (as Ma∣sters, as Fathers, as Magistrates, as Parliament-men, &c.) Page 52 The same God that requires us to serve him as private per∣sons, requires us to serve him in our relations, and though thou beest never so carefull of thy duty as a private person, yet thou mayest goe to Hell for neglecting thy duty as a Master, as a Magistrate, as a Parliament-man. And although thou shouldest be good in one relation, yet if thou doest not indeavour to be good in every relation, thou shalt never goe to Heaven. For the same God that commands thee to serve him as a Master, commands thee to serve him as a Parlia∣ment-man, &c. And he that keepes the whole Law, and offends in one point is guilty of all.* Here is a Sea of matter offers it selfe, and matter of great concernement for the regulating of Noble-mens families, which are in many places rather Beth-avens then Bethels; houses of iniquity rather then houses of God. But I must not launch into this Ocean; Onely remember that in the New Testament, when the Ma∣ster of the Family was converted, all the family was baptized, and what God saith of Abraham, Gen. 18. 19. and what David saith, Psal. 181. 2, 3, 6, 7. and what is said, Exod. 20. 11. Thou and thy servant. Thus much for the Exhor∣tations.
Now for Incouragement;
And there is great need to incourage Noble-men that set their faces to looke after Christ, and to serve him after a strict and holy manner, and that venture all in this Cause, to goe on maugre all opposition. For we live in times wherein we may take up that complaint of Salvian, Si quis ex nobilitate converti ceperit ad Deum, statim honorem Nobili∣tatis amittit: Oh quantus est in populo Christiano honor Chri∣sti, ubi Religio ignobilem facit! & mali coguntur esse no∣biles ne viles habeantur. If any of the Nobility begin to be converted to God, presently they begin to loose (in the eye of the wicked) all the honour of their Nobility. How little is the Name of Christ esteemed amongst those Page 53 Christians where Religion makes a man ignoble, and men are compelled to be wicked, that they may be accounted Noble. A true picture of our wicked times. Suffer me therefore to offer unto you these following incouragements, as helpes against all the discouragements you meet withall in the zealous and resolute prosecution of this great cause now in hand.
1. The cause you manage is an incouraging cause. It is the cause of God. And let me say to you as Luther to Melancthon. If the cause be not Gods, why doe ye not wholly desert it, but if it be Gods cause, why doe you not goe through with it. This is a Dilemma that cannot be evaded. The glory of God is im∣barked in the same Ship in which this cause is in. And you may lawfully plead with God, as Ioshua doth, Iosh. 7. 9. and as Moses doth, Numb. 14. 15, 16.
2. You have an incouraging God, me thinkes I heare God say to you as he doth to Ioshuah 1. 6. Be strong and of a good courage, &c. and verse 7. Onely be thou strong and very couragious, &c. And verse 9. Have not I commanded thee, Be strong and of a good courage, be not afraid, neither be thou dismaied, for the Lord thy God is with thee, whithersoever thou goest. And as Ioshuah said to the people of Israel, Numb. 14. 7. So doth God to you. Feare not the people of the Land, for they are bread for us, their defence is departed from them and the Lord is with us, feare them not. And as Moses said, Exo. 14. 13, 14. So saith God, though your enemies be as tall as the Anakims: though the red Sea be before you, and the E∣gyptians behind you, feare them not, for the Lord fights for you. The God whose cause you manage is infinite in power, wisdom and goodnesse, he hath brought us into deeps, not to drowne us, but to wash away our spirituall filthi∣nesse; not to destroy us, but to manifest his power in our deliverance; he will deliver us by weake meanes, and by con∣trary meanes, and he will make use of the treachery of your Page 54 enemies to be a meanes to deliver you, as he hath done this day. He will kill Goliah with his owne Sword, and hang Haman upon his owne gallows. He will strike strait stroakes with crooked sticks; as he made the treachery of Iosephs brethren to be a meanes to advance Ioseph, and the falsenesse of Judas to be a way to save all his elect children.
3. You have incouraging Promises, Exod. 23. 22, 23. Levit. 26. 6, 7, 8. Deut. 28. 7. 1 Sam. 25. 28. Isa. 41. 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17. Isa. 54. 17. A Text common to all Gods peo∣ple, because it is said to be the heritage of the servants of the Lord. Here are six Texts like six pillars to undershore our spirits from falling into discouragements. Cast your selves into the bosome of these Promises.
4. You have incouraging examples. For we cannot be in a lower condition then Ionah was, when he was in the Whales belly, tanquam vivus in sepulchro, and yet God commanded the Whale to deliver him safe upon the shoare. We cannot be in a worser estate then Ieremy was when he was in the dungeon, and sanke in the mire so deepe, as that 30. men could hardly lift him up; or then Peter was when he was ready to sinke: or then Moses when put in an Arke of bull-rushes, &c. Or then the children of Israel were in Ba∣bylon, who were like dry bones in the grave, insomuch as Ezekiell himselfe could not tell whether they could live, or as Peter when put in prison by Herod. And yet notwith∣standing God sent a blackmore to deliver Ieremy. Iesus Christ reached out his hand to keepe Peter from sinking. God sent Pharaohs daughter to preserve Moses: And Cyrus to deliver Israel out of Babylon. And he sent his Angell to deliver Pe∣ter out of prison. Indeed Peter himselfe did not believe it, no more did the Church that was praying for him. God sent them a returne of prayers, while they were praying, but they beleeved it not. And thus God hath often done for us. Comfort one another with these examples, and Page 55 carry this home for your everlasting consolation. God ne∣ver suffers his children to meet with a huge unremoveable diffi∣culty, like the stone before the doore of the Sepulcher, but he sends some Angell or other to remove it away.
5. You have an incouraging Captaine, even the Lord Je∣sus, who is the great Peace-maker, Who is our peace when the Assyrian is in the Land, Micah 7. 9. He hath taken downe the partition wall, he hath made our peace with God. Let the deepes of our civill warre call upon the deepes of peace that are in Christ. Let us beseech the great Peace-maker to take downe the great partition wall betweene King and Parliament, to make Father and Sonne of one mind. If Christ makes the peace, it must needs be good. Jesus Christ came into the world, when the Jewes were in the saddest conditi∣on, in the depth of slavery (for the Scepter was departed from Iudah) and in the depth of divisions, for they had so many severall Sects, as they could hardly tell what Religi∣on they were off. In this sad condition Shiloh came. Let us beseech Jesus Christ to come into England in this low e∣state, and to bring peace with him, even that Christ who descended into the lowest parts of the Earth for our sakes, and whose love is a depth that cannot be fathomed, Ephes. 3. 17, 18. The deepes of our misery call upon the depth of his love and mercy, that God for Christ sake would pardon our abysse of sinnes both personall and nationall, and bring us out of our abysse of miseries, both personall and nationall.
6. You have incouraging company, you have the Lord of Hosts to accompany you, and I may say without the least degree of uncharitablenes, you have the major part of Gods people on your side.
7. You have incouraging weapons, prayers and teares, fa∣sting and humiliation. As Ambrose spake to Austins mother by way of incouragement. That a Sonne of so many teares could not miscarry. So may I say and I hope proove a true Page 56 Prophet, That a Nation of so many prayers and teares shall not be destroyed, God never yet destroyed a Nation, wherein there were so many of his children praying, fasting, humbling themselves, and especially at such a time, when they are en∣tring into a solemne Covenant of reforming their lives (as now we are) if they indeavour to doe these things with all their heart and soule.
8. You have incouraging threatnings against the enemies of Gods Church. God hath threatned, Zach. 12. 2, 3, 6. to make Jerusalem a cup of poyson, and all that offer to swallow Ierusalem shall be poysoned with it, to make Jerusalem a bur∣densome stone, and all that thinke to crush Ierusalem shall be crushed by Jerusalem; to make him like a fire, and all his ene∣mies like wood to be devoured by him. God hath threatned concerning the plots of your enemies, Psalm. 64. 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. This Scripture is this day fulfilled in your eares. The Lord give us grace to declare his works, and wisely to consider of his doings. God hath likewise accomplished those two rare Scriptures, Psal. 7. 14, 15, 16, 17. Psal. 9. 15, 16. Let us adde our part, Let us praise the Lord according to his righteous∣nesse, let us sing praise to the name of the Lord most high, Hig∣gaion, Selah.
9. You have the incouraging providence of God. The great and wise God, who is our Father, hath from all eternity decreed what shall be the issue of these warrs. There is no∣thing done in the lower House of Parliament upon earth, but what is decreed in the higher House of Parliament in Heaven. All the lesser wheeles are ordered and over-ruled by the up∣per wheeles. An excellent Story of a Young-man that was at Sea in a mighty tempest, and when all the passengers were at their wits end for feare, he onely was merry, and when he was ask'd the reason of his mirth; he answered, That the Pilot of the Ship was his Father, and he knew his Father would have a care of him. Our heavenly Father is our Pilot, he Page 57 sits at the sterne, and though the Ship of the Kingdome be ready to finke, yet be of good comfort,*Our Pilot will have a care of us. Are not five sparrowes (saith Christ) sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God. One sparrow is not worth halfe a farthing: You shall not have halfe a farthings worth of harme, more then God hath from all eternity decreed. God hath all ourenemies in a chaine. And if a child saw a Lion or a Beare in his deare Fa∣thers hand chained, so as he might be secure his Father could keepe the chaine from being burst, he would not be afraid. And this we are sure God can doe. A 1000000. Cyphars stand for nothing, unlesse a figure be joyned to them. All men and devils are but cyphars without God. An hoast of men is nothing without the Lord of hoast. The devill cannot goe be∣yond his tedder.
Ob.* But God permits the enemy to exercise great cruelty upon his own people, and to take away the lives of his choi∣sest servants, witnes the Noble Lord Brooke, and now lately that worthy Gentleman M. Hampden.
Answ. 1. Let us not be troubled that God permits our ene∣mies to doe us so much hurt, but rather be comforted that they can doe nothing, but what our wise and most loving God permits, and fore-decrees for the good of his children.
2. I answer with our blessed Saviour. Feare not them that can but kill the body, and after that can do no more. It is no great matter (in Christs opinion) to have the body killed. The body is but the Cabinet, the Iewell is the soule. And if the Iewell be safe in Heaven, no great matter to have the Cabinet broken. It is said of King Iosiah, that he should goe to his grave in peace, and yet he died in a battell. He that dyeth with the peace of a good conscience, dieth in peace, though he be killed in a battell. Blessed is the man that breaths out his last breath in doing God service. He that dies fighting the Lords battels dies a Martyr. An excellent thing for a Minister to Page 58 die preaching, and a souldier die fighting. It is but winking with our eyes (as the Martyr said) and we are presently in Hea∣ven. Blessed and twice blessed are those that die in the Lord, and for the Lord.
3. God many times takes away his choisest servants, be∣cause we idolize them too much, as he did the King of Swe∣den. And also because he would teach us to trust only to his helpe, who will deliver us by weake instruments, when he takes away strong and able Instruments, that he may have all the glory.
Lastly, You have incouraging experiments. And sure∣ly if any Nation under Heaven may reason from experi∣ence, and rely upon experiences this Nation may. God hath delivered us from the Beare and the Lion, from the Spa∣nish navy in Eighty eight, and since from the Gun-pouder Treason, from Civill warres betweene Scotland and Eng∣land. And when there was a designe to bring the Army up against London, God did then deliver us. And when we were in the valley of the red horse (as it is called) neare Edge-hill, where the Enemy thought to have cast us downe the Hill, as the Iewes would have served Christ, then God did also deliverus. And for this cause we are here this Day, to praise God for a wonderfull and miraculous Deliverance. And therefore wee may confidently say with the Apostle, 2 Corinth. 1. 10. Who delivered us this day from so great a death and doth deliver, in whom wee trust that he will yet deliver us. It is observable that when Moses went up to the Mount to pray, hee tooke the Rod of God in his hand. The reason is given, be∣cause, by that Rod God had formerly done wonderfull things for his people; and the very sight of that Rod did incourage Moses to trust in God from the experience of his former goodnesse. Let us never goe to our pray∣ers, but let us carry the Rod of God in our hand and Page 59 heart. I meane the solemne and serious contemplati∣on of this dayes Deliverance, and of Gods former wonderfull goodnesse, and let us say with the Apo∣stle, 2 Tim. 4. 17, 18. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me and strengthned me, &c. and I was delivered out of the mouth of the Lion. And the Lord shall deliver me from every evill worke, and will preserve me unto his heavenly Kingdome; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Amen.