Gods providence, a sermon preached before the honourable House of Commons at their late solemne fast, Decemb. 28, 1642, in S. Margarets Church at Westminster by Ed. Corbett ...
Corbet, Edward, d. 1658.

1. Every Creature depends on God.

Every creature is the effect of God secundum esse, essentially de∣pends upon him, or as Scotus speaks is dependance it self: of ne∣cessity Page  4 then they stand in need of Gods perpetuall help, the hand which made must support, and the power which raised from nothing must still preserve from nothing. Which Christ confirmes John. 5.17. My Father worketh hitherto and I work; and Saint Paul Hb. 1.3. He beareth up all things with his mightie word:*He beareth up all things with his mightie word: He beareth up all things, 1. Sustinendo as a pillar & sure foun∣dation upon which they stand. 2. Influendo as a fountaine from which they derive all their vertue and operations. 3. Constringen∣do as a soveraign bond by which the parts of all things hold to∣gether and are preserved as water in a vessell from dissolution and running into nothing, and he beareth up all things without any la∣bour or difficulty 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 only by his pleasure, his will by the same word,* and breath, by which they were first made. The creature cannot stand one moment without Gods actuall suppor∣tance; All things would run into confusion without his power∣full influence who created all things. For the frame of the world, is not like a House which will stand it self after the Carpenter hath raised it, but receives continuall subsistence from the Au∣thor, must be preserved in being & working or else will suddain∣ly break and fall in peeces: It depends upon the Almightie as the figure of a Seale imprinted upon the water,* which being with∣drawn, the Impression is instantly defaced, or as the light in the aire which upon the Suns removall is presently extinct. Vpon which grounds the school-men affirme that preservation is a con∣tinued creation, that every thing is as it were newly borne, new∣ly produced; And although in themselves permanent yet in res∣pect of God are quasi in fieri: they are as it were under the hammer, they are in a perpetuall forge and dependance.

And as our Nature, so are our actions; we cannot utter one word, thinke one thought, turn our Eye, or move a finger, with∣out the concurrence of his power who giveth life and breath, and all things; much lesse can we of our selves performe any thing which is good, direct a wish, or tread one step towards heaven. As the Axe is in the hand of him that heweth, without whose eleva∣tion it neither cuts nor sinks into the timber, so are we all in the hand of that Master builder of Heaven and earth, we are dead and uselesse tooles without his Influence,* who giveth as well the Page  5 will as the work,* and in whom we live and move and have our being. Heavy bodies cannot sinke in the water, nor the fire burn that which is most combustible, if the God of Israel speak the word; the Watry Ocean becomes a dry pavement and the hard rock a springing well at the pleasure of the Almightie: the Sun of Heaven refreshed as a Giant to run his course, must stand still un∣till the God of heaven concur to the motion, the consideration whereof made Saint Ambrose break out into this language, Non minus est conservare mundum quam creare, it is as great a work to preserve the world as to create it: and Saint Chrysost.〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 it is a greater work: As it is more labour and strength to support a burden long in the aire, then at first to raise it from the earth, which may teach us:

To deny our selves, to yield up and resigne our soules unto Gods disposing Providence,* Every one professing with David here am I, let the Lord deale with me as seemeth good unto him. For Dependency is very humble and respective, it studies contentment and care to Comply, it commands the soule a holy silence, and in all afflictions keeps under the least rising of our hearts against the Almightie: It makes us kisse the rod,* and with the Christians in Tertullian, thank our Executioners. For shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evill? Is it his great mercy that we do not fll into nothing, or which is worse into eternall flames? and shall the calamities of this world which crosse perchance our hopes, & so prevent our pride, or draw from us some guilded earth, which happily would have made us more wicked, or at most destroy these Houses of clay which of themselves will fall in sunder? shall (I say) a temporall bodily chastisement,* the scourges of a loving father drive us to impatiency, or distrust,* or make us curse the day of our Nativi∣ty? A Souldier is tried in a conflict, and a Mariner shews his skill in a tempest. And shall a Christian faint or fear in the Seas of Adversitie, in the battels of affliction? we see, the candle shines brightest when the aire is darke and the fire burnes hottest when the weather is cold. Nature teaching these inanimate crea∣tures to rejoice as it were in danger, and to triumph over op∣pression: Page  6 It is emptie chaff which is tost up & down with the wind, not sound corne, and they are rotten trees which a storme over∣throwes. Let us consider that smooth and golden steps, lead for the most part unto lust and carnall securitie, they make us insen∣sible of Gods mercyes, and lesse regardfull of his Iudgements, and more conceited of our own greatnesse:* let us consider that the ways of the wicked prosper, they gallop over the green plaines of pleasure and plentie, their Houses are peaceable, and the rod of God is not upon them. And shal we envy the condition of wicked men? shall we complaine because our Kingdom is not of this world? shall we be angry with our blessings? Indeed when we consider the grievance it self we may look after a change of our Condition, for we carry about us flesh and bloud and who can say his heart is cleere? But yet we must remember the Author of our afflictions the hand which strikes, and the providence which directs them: we may with our Saviour desire the Cup to passe from us, but we must with our Saviour also desire not our own wills,* but Gods be done: Murmuring may enrage our Crosses and make them more heavie, but cannot remove them, it may encrease our guilt, and bring upon us new Iudgements, it cannot take them off, like a bird that is entangled in the lime twigs, the more shee struggles, the more shee doubles her danger.