PSAL. 122. 6.
TO tell ye that my text is pertinent, were to distrust your sense; for there are but three words in it▪ and the first concernes the day, the se∣cond the times, the third the state: Prayer, a principall end of Fasting, is proper to the day: Peace is seasonable in these divided times: Jerusalem brings in the State: But three words (I say) in the Originall; 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 but they are all three Verba Trojana, pregnant words, every one containes a catalogue: Pray, all duties in one: Peace, all blessings in one: Ierusalem, all Cities and States in one. Pray, &c.
Every word playing his part will divide the Text into a single act, and a double object: or into an Act, an Object, and a Subject: the Act or duty; Page 2Pray: the Object of prayer, Peace: the Subject of Peace, and yet the Object of Prayer too, Ierusalem. But I will invert the order of the words: and be∣cause the Object in nature is before the Act, and the Subject before them both, I will first speake of Ie∣rusalem, next of Peace, and conclude with Prayer.
These words were written for our instructi∣on, and therefore, though Ierusalem be only nam'd, all Cities and States are meant; David for Ierusa∣lem, We for great Britaine, every man intercede for his Country, and Christ for us all.
Pray for Ierusalem, for these reasons.
1. Homo est animal politicum, Man is a creature naturally both needing, and desiring society, therefore it is not good for man to be alone, nor were it safe for men to be together, but in Ierusa∣lem, under some forme and frame of government: for homo homini lupus, nothing is more wild and cruell then man, if he be not tam'd by authority: out late confusion and violations of Politicall or∣der, have made England like the sea about it, where one fish hunts and preyes upon another. Vncon∣trolled licentiousnesse, though to the grosse con∣ceited vulgar it seemes to be liberty, yet wee find by dismall experience, that it produceth nothing but disorder, injustice, rapine, and insupportable Page 3 slavery: for now violence and the sword beare sway, every man does what he can, and the strongest takes all: wherefore it was well and wisely spoken of Calvin, Politie or government is of no lesse necessity, and of farre greater dignity then bread and water, I may adde, then the ayre we breath in, or the Sun that gives us hight: for indeed there is no living without it; at least men would be driven to live solitary in woods and caves, like beasts, and salvages. Therefore it is a fundamen∣tall duty to pray for Ierusalem.
2. We see in the great world, how all parts of it dispense with their particular affections to their proper Elements, when their generall duty to the Vniverse requires it: Stones would forsake the earth, the place of their private repose, & mount as high as Heaven to fill a vacuitie to heale a wound in Nature. So also in the Microcosme, the little world of man's body, if the heart, the mother of life be distressed, presently the spirits and bloud flock and flow from all parts to relieve her. Now if (as learned Hooker observeth) those voluntary actions are most agreeable to reason, which doe most resemble the necessary workes of nature; then as it is in the naturall, so in the politick body it ought to be, every part should have a maine Page 4 eare of the whole. Therefore it is our naturall duty to pray for Ierusalem.
3. If the Sunne should draw the Ocean dry, or the Ocean swell to quench the Sunne; if Hea∣ven put out his lights, or Earth keepe in her fruits; the Winds hold their breath, and the Clouds stop their Bottles, what would become of the world? and if the world should perish, what would be∣come of them? So if we, the particular members of Ierusalem (for what is Ierusalem but our selves incorporate?) should withdraw our duty, she could not subsist; and if she doe not, neither can we▪ if the whole be ruin'd, the parts must suffer; if the tree fall, the branches wither; if the King∣dome be over-run, who sees not, who feeles not, that the substance, lives, and liberties of private men must needs go to wrack? Therefore, though we have no care of the Publick, but referre all things to our selves, and our domestick commo∣dities, yet because these are inclosed in the hap∣pinesse of the Vniversality, it is our necessary duty to pray for Ierusalem.
4. Prayer is the expression of desire, the ob∣ject of desire is Good, the greater good is to be preferr'd before the lesse, the publick good is in∣comparably greater and worthyer then the pri∣vate, Page 5 by how much a whole Societie is more worth then one man. Therefore it is our prin∣cipall duty to pray for Ierusalem.
5. To these reasons I will adde Gods com∣mandement, which we cannot disobey, unlesse first we will be unreasonable. Honour thy father and mother; if the parents of our flesh, the authors of our generation and being, ought to be honou∣red, then our King and Country, to whom we owe our preservation and well-being, are worthy of double honour: for it is better to be well or happy, then simply to be; as it is worse to be mi∣serable, then not to be at all. Honour thy father and mother. Ierusalem is the mother of us all, &c. Our Country (saith the Orator) is major altera pa∣rens, our Grand-mother; wherefore we must do all we can to honour her; inwardly, with our judgements and affections; outwardly, with our endeavours and devotions: the least we can do is to pray for her. Therefore it is our bounden duty to pray for Ierusalem.
But because Ierusalem without peace were no right Ierusalem, that is, the Scene of peace, or where peace is to be seene; but rather a very Babylon, a Citie of confusion: Therefore in the second place pray for peace, the peace of Ierusalem.
Page 6 1. Many are of the minde, that, though men had persisted in their primogeneal integritie, there should have beene dominion and government amongst them: yet (as profound Hooker noteth) if Adam had not fallen, there is no impossibility in nature, but they might have liv'd without it. But all agree in this, our fall and corruption made it necessary: For when there were but foure per∣sons in the world, (but foure that we reade of; howsoever, no great multitude) one brother mur∣dred the other; and, as their number, so their ma∣lice and mischiefes increased; for restraint where∣of, there was no way, but to come to compositi∣on, and by common consent to authorize one, or more to superintend the quiet and safety of the rest; to defend them, who were not able to de∣fend themselves, to curb the unruly, to distribute to every one his due, and so preserve the peace and tranquillitie of all. Seeing then an inclinati∣on to peace was the originall spring of civill com∣munities, and the establishment of peace the very end, whence they had their beginning; and see∣ing the end is bonum primae intentionis, though ob∣tained last, yet desired first; first in our purposes and wishes, this is a duty, which hath none be∣fore it, to pray for peace, the peace of Ierusalem.
Page 7 2. But if peace be not larded with prosperity, 'tis not worth the praying for: for as prosperity without peace is but an uncertaine felicity, so peace without prosperity is but secure misery. Did we dwell in a barren desert, or a pestilentiall aire, in the Acherusian fens, or under the North-pole, we should find cold comfort in our peace. But peace here, peace, in the language of the Holy Ghost, doth signifie the confluence of all earthly bles∣sings, the entire masse of humane welfare. Some render it, Salutate Ierusalem, for the Iewes saluted them, to whom they wished all happinesse, with this complement, Peace be unto you. Peace then, according to the sacred idiome, is the Rendez∣vouz or Magazine of all that good is: For all that good is either honesium, jucundum, utile, honest, pleasant, or profitable; as for decorum it is but a glosse set upon the rest, or a reflection from them. 1. Peace is honest, for it is nothing but a sweet resultance from the due observation of good Lawes; Shee's the daughter of righteousnesse, saith the Prophet, Isa. 32. 17. 'tis a fruit of the ho∣ly spirit, saith the Apostle, Gal. 5. 22. Righteous∣nesse and peace kisse each other,* as the Psalmist sings most sweetly; 'tis founded in charity, which is the comprehension of all Christian vertues. Page 8 2. Whether peace be pleasant, or no, I appeale to your now quickned experience. What is more wished, or would be more welcome then peace? What is better or sweeter then peace? What is more splendid and beautifull then peace? Peace is that faire Astraea that linketh men together in the golden fetters of mutuall amitie, and maketh them to live, as if, their persons being many, their soules were but one. Peace is the harmony of the world, the smile and serenity of the earth, the hansell and image of our happinesse in heaven, the tutelar Saint of Kings and Princes, the very forme or soule of a Common-wealth, the nur∣sery of Arts, shortly, a Paradise where all ac∣commodations for this life and the next do grow. O how good and pleasant a thing it is to see Brethren to dwell together in unity! If there were no posi∣tive pleasure in peace, yet as it is the greatest tor∣ment to be depriv'd of Heaven, so it is not the least of pleasures to be freed from Hell:*〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, saith the grand Philosopher: 'tis a plea∣sure to be rid of that which displeaseth us; to be freed from this hell of ••rre, the fire and brim∣stone, stormes and tempests, plagues and vexati∣ons of it; if for no other reason then this, how pleasant a thing is peace? 3. Peace is profitable; Page 9 for in that encomiastick Psalme of Peace, it is not onely compared to the fragrant oyntment of Aaron, but also to the prolifique dew of Hermon, fructifying the fields of Sion; Pacis alumna Ceres, peace and abundance go together: therefore she is emblem'd in a faire woman holding a Copia-Cornu, a horne full of flowers and fruits in one hand, and leading Plutos the good of riches in the other, to paint out unto us, that riches and plenty are the inseperable companions of peace O what a blessed Trinity conspire in this Vnity! Certain∣ly they know not what is good for themselves, who doe not pray for peace, the peace of Ieru∣salem.
3. The greatest benefit of peace is, to improve it to that end, for which God had given it; name∣ly, the advancement of religion, and the exaltati∣on of his service. 'Tis a most unthankfull aliena∣tion of his favours, to abuse them as as we have done; turne his grace into wantonnesse, confume our fertile peace in making provision for the flesh, to satisfie the lusts thereof, to make our backs fine, and our bellies full: Better follow the warres, then thus to staine our peace. God sends peace for holyer purposes, that we should lead quiet lives in all godlinesse and honestie. 1 Tim. 2. 2. that we Page 10 should sow the fruits of righteousnesse in peace▪ Iam. 3. 17. that being delivered from the hands of our enemies, we should serve him without feare: Luc. 1. 74. If Hannibal were at the Ports, Rab∣shache upon the Walls, the Rebels now within our Workes, what a wilde confusion would rout your attention? Put men into a bodily feare, and quite marre their devotion. The Iewes were thrice a yeare to worship God in Ierusalem; now in the time of Warre 'twas ill travailing the Countrey, men were then affraid to say, what David was so glad to heare, Let us goe into the House of the Lord. The Psalmist therefore being exceedingly delighted to behold these meetings, and wishing in his heart they might never be interrupted, from the desire of his soule breathed this flagrant eja∣culation, O pray for the Peace of Ierusalem. Indeed it is the very beauty of peace, a blessed spectacle to see men trooping to Church; endearing them∣selves with the mutuall offices of pietie, like those in the eighth of Zachary, lovingly inviting, call∣ing, and exciting one another, heare you neigh∣bour, friend, brother, Let us goe into the House of the Lord. The free and solemne exercise of religion is so great an happinesse, as we can en∣joy no greater, till we come in Heaven, and the Page 11 principall meanes to bring us thither. Therefore it is as much as our soules are worth to pray for peace, the peace of Ierusalem.
But after we have beene so cruelly swing'd with the iron flayle of warre,* sure no man can be so mercilesse to himselfe, as not to be glad of peace. To most of those, who were so forward at first to blow the coale of this terrible conflagra∣tion, if S. Austin's question were now put, Vultis pacem? would yee have peace? how greedily would they answer? Cupimus, amamus, volumus, yes, with all our hearts. But how shall we repos∣sesse our selves of it? Hic labor, hoc opus est: for we are growne to desperate extremities; we have lost our selves in a Labyrinth of most perplexed difficulties, and can finde no clew to winde us out of it; our breach is too wide to be healed, our wrongs too great either to be suffered, or to be sa∣tisfied; our quarrels by mutuall slaughters incen∣sed to implacable hatred, and our peace so ruin'd beyond all reparation, that a temper now, recon∣ciliation now may seeme impossible. But what is impossible with man, is possible with God, there∣fore Pray. He, he alone can recollect the pieces of this shattered Kingdome, and joyne them toge∣ther againe in a firme and lasting peace, therefore Page 12pray; doe but aske and have, speake and speed. Pray for the peace of Ierusalem.
1. God, the onely object of prayer, is the au∣thour of peace and lover of concord: his chiefest ti∣tle in the New Testament, is, the God of peace; to intimate this great states-matter is at his dispo∣sing. Knowing then from whence peace doth come, hereby we know whither to goe; whi∣ther for peace, but to the God of peace? at him we cannot come pedibus, sed precibus, not with the feet of our body, but with the feet of our soule, our affections lifted up in prayer. Prayer then being the onely avenue to God, who is the onely giver of peace, tis the onely meanes to procure it. There-pray. Pray for &c.
And here I may opportunely sally out upon the Epicurean and Iudiciary Astrologer; for if their do∣ctrine be true, this of my text is false. The Epicure makes God like Aesops Incuriosus, not caring how the world goes: whatsoever befalls us, be it peace, be it warre, it is not long of him who lets all things run at random, to hap as hap may: as if it were an Indecorum, a thing unworthy the sublimity of his state, to vouchsafe the cast of his eye upon sub∣lunary matters;
Page 13 Scilicet is superis labor est, ea cura quietos Sollicitat.
But goe to the beasts of the field, thou Epi∣cure, and they shall teach thee; to the foules of the aire, and they shall tell thee; to the flowers of thy garden, and they shall instruct thee: for if God be carefull to feed lions and ravens, and to cloath li∣lies, how much more shall he regard men and hu∣mane societies, O ye of little faith? Next, the Pla∣netarian gravely tells us, that for our long, almost miraculous former peace we may thanke our stars▪ whose kind aspect and propitious irradation was the cause thereof and that warre hath since been kindled by the fiery influence of Mars, inflaming the cholericke humour of Potentates. If so, then the best Physitian were the best States-man: and what needed so many consultations, overtures, propositions, and umpires of peace, when a good Purge would have done the feat? Bishop Fotherby confuteth these men by Psal. 75. 6. Promotion co∣meth neither from the East, nor from the VVest, nor from the North, nor from the South: not from the East, whence the Starres come in their diurnall mo∣tion; nor from the West, whence they goe in their naturall motion; nor from South or North, whence they come and goe in their motion of Trepidation;Page 14 from none of these motions doth promotion come, therefore the happinesse of States doth not hold of the Starres. But shall we in good earnest confute these men, or shall we laugh at them? To confute them were to answer a foole in his folly; therefore either pity their blindnesse, or laugh at their mad∣nesse, and so let them goe.
2. I might by many Scripture Examples shew the force or rather omnipotence of prayer; what power it hath over men, over devills, over the elements of the world, over God himselfe. To cite a few proving the efficacy thereof for the publique good. When Pharaoh and his Aegyptians were rea∣dy to cut him and his Israelites to pieces, Moses by prayer divided the Sea, and escaped from them. When Corah and his complices made an insur∣rection, and disturbed the peace; the same Moses by prayer opened the mouth of the earth, and sent them quicke to hell. When God Exod. 32. would have dispatched all Israel at a blow, the selfe same Moses held his hands by prayer so strongly, that God seemes to aske Moses leave to strike them; and like one strugling to get loose, but could not, cries out, Let me alone: Let thee alone! Quis tenet te Domine (replies Saint Augustine) Lord, who hol∣deth thee? Why, that doth Moses here, that I cannot Page 15 have my will upon these rebells. Cannot? Not for want of strength, for who is like to the Lord in power? but for the aboundance of his clemency, which would not suffer him to lift up his hand a∣gainst that people, for whom his faithfull servant so earnestly besought him. I might name more, but these are enough to shew how effectuall it is to pray, to pray for the peace of Ierusalem:
3. Take this for a rule. Prayer implies the use of all subordinate meanes requisite for the obtai∣ning of that we pray for. We must not stand wi∣shing and woulding and doe just nothing: This very thing hath undone us, like the Carter in the fable, who when his Cart stucke fast in a slough, sets him downe and cries amaine, Helpe Hercules, helpe: Hercules appearing chid the lubber; helpe you (said he) and I will helpe. Our devotion must be seconded by our devoire. To our prayers we must joine our purses and our persons; not onely pray, but fight, and pay for the peace of Ierusalem. Pray and pay too? durus sermo, this is no good Ser∣mon, who can endure to heare it? Pray if you will, the whole Liturgy over; outpray a false Pharisee, a babling Papist, an extemporanean Enthusiast, with all their orationes sine ratione, their endlesse senselesse effusions, yea and fast into the bargaine, Page 16 so we may scape Scot-free and pay nothing. But no penny no Pater-Noster, as good neither the one nor the other, as not both together; both these must meet, or no peace will be concluded. For this deduction is obvious to every mans reason: Our peace we shall never recover, if the rebels may have their will; their will they will have, if we be not provided to breake them of it; provision cannot be made without money, money cannot be had without contribution, therefore out with your purses, and pay for the peace of Ierusalem.
I may boldly speake it: He can neither be a good Subject, nor a right honest man, who for the preservation of the King, Religion, Lawes, Liber∣ty, Learning, the Churches and his Countries peace, would not thinke not onely all the money in his purse, but all the bloud in his body well spent. Christ hath commanded us to give vnto Caesar the things that are Caesars▪ and inforced the commandement by his owne example, who as Lord Verulam well observeth, never wrought mira∣cle about money matter, but onely to pay tribute unto Caesar. But enough of this: for he is too much a stranger to these hard times, that thinks to do any good by chargeable doctrines. Now for fighting, although the perversenesse and obstinacy of our Page 17 enemies hath left us no other way to raise our col∣lapsed peace; yet it is not so comely for us who are or ought to be Angels of peace, out of this place to sound the Alarmes of warre, and to whet mens courages to cut throats. Onely this I'le say, who∣soever out of a conscientious regard had to his du∣ty, obliged by the lawes of God and men, shall loose his life in the service of the King, I dare not deny that man the honour of a Martyr.
4. Prayer is for, or against: if we be friends to the peace of Ierusalem, we must be enemies to the enemies of it; if we pray for that, we must pray against these. Now if God be the authour of peace, warre and discord can have no authour but Gods adversary the Devill; and they that are the stirrers up and fomenters of it, must needs be his instru∣ments whosoever they be. If the peace-makers be blessed, for they shall be called the sonnes of God; then cursed are the warre-makers, cursed to the pit of hell, for they shall be called you know what: if there be any devils upon earth, these are they; as like their father, as if they had beene spit out of his mouth, who was a lyar, and a murderer from the beginning. Therefore we need not make any scru∣ple of praying against such: against those Sancti∣monious Incendiaries, who have fetched fire from Page 18 heaven to set their Country in combustion, have pretended Religion to raise and maintaine a most wicked rebellion: against those Nero's, who have ripped up the wombe of the mother that bare them, and wounded the breasts that gave them sucke: against those Cannibal's who feed upon the flesh and are drunke with the bloud of their own brethren: against those Catiline's who seeke their private ends in the publicke disturbance, and have set the Kingdome on fire to rost their owne egges: against those tempests of the State, those restlesse spirits who can no longer live, then be stickling and medling; who are stung with a perpetuall itch of changing and innovating, transforming our old Hierarchy into a new Presbytery, and this againe into a newer Independency; and our well-temperd Monarchy into a mad kinde of Kakistocra∣cy. Good Lord! what wild irregular courses have these men runne, since the reines have layen loose upon them? I am afraid, they will never leave chopping and changing, plotting and practising, till in conclusion they bring all to confusion, all to an Anarchy or savage Ataxie, Prayer, Peace, Ierusa∣lem, and all. Therefore it is no breach of charity to pray against these men. How long, Lord, how long holy and just shall our bloud and wrongs be Page 19 unreveng'd upon them? how long shall the De∣vill and his instruments have place and power to deface and defile thy Temples, to profane thy ser∣vice, to persecute thy ministers, to pursue the life and honour of thine Anointed, and to seduce the silly people like sheepe to the slaughter? How long shall they blaspheme thy Name and Religi∣on by making it an instrument of such hellish practises? How long Lord, how long holy and just?
Thus have I runne through the parts of my Text. I have shewed ye, that our chiefest care should be for Ierusalem; that the greatest blessing we can wish Ierusalem, is peace; that the most ef∣fectuall meanes to procure peace, is prayer. There∣fore, pray for the peace of Ierusalem.
Let naturall-hearted men, that wish the conser∣vation of the world; Let loyall Subjects, that are tender of the safety and reputation of their Prince; Let true Patriots, that regard the flourishing con∣dition of their Country; Let devour Christians, that thinke it an happinesse to enjoy the free use of religion; Let whosoever desire to see good dayes, and the lives of them and theirs prolonged and prospered upon earth; Let us all, that have beene tormented with the furies of a long Warre, Page 20 joyne in a maine army of Supplicants, and Pray for the peace of Ierusalem.
Before these causelesse Warres began, (cause∣lesse, for though the meritorious was too appa∣rent, yet the next immediate cause is somewhat mystick and wondrous:) Before (I say) these causelesse Warres had cut asunder the Gordian knot of our well-setled peace; God had advanced this Nation above all Nations with so rare and continued course of prosperity, that all the world, and all the ages in the world could hardly patterne it; for which so much we owed unto his heaven∣ly bounty, as we were never able sufficiently to pay: And therefore if we did not give him an in∣finite number of thankes, and prais'd him with our mouthes, & magnified him in our hearts, and glorified him in our lives, and did all we could to set forth and celebrate his matchlesse goodnesse and indulgence towards us, we were the most in∣gratefull, and consequently the most hatefull peo∣ple under heaven: For God in the first of Esay summons all the world with a tragicall Prosopo∣peia, to wonder at such, as monsters, rather then men. Heare O Heaven, give eare O Earth, and be astonished: I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.
Page 21 Doubtlesse this black sinne of ingratitude, our unthankfulnesse in not acknowledging, and our dissolutenesse in abusing such singular favours made us longer unworthy of them. For besides that Warre and Destruction having taken their progresse through the neighbouring Countries, ac∣cording to the ordinary destinie of earthly things, our turne was likely to be next: Did not our ripe sinnes expect the sickle? Did not their extreame enormity, leaving scarce any feare, that we could be worse; and their brazen impudencie, leaving as little hope that we would be better, argue the measure of our iniquities to be brim-full? hath not our more then heathenish profanenesse and impiety, our exorbitant pride, and foppish gayetie, our ranke voluptuousnesse, riot, luxury, and most ungracious abuse of Gods innumerable mercies, provoked his Justice to bring upon us the same or worse calamities, then have so long, and doe still afflict the wretched Territories of the dismem∣bred Empire? Therefore it is high time, now that we are at the pits mouth of utter undoing, ready to be tumbled in, with penitent hearts and teary eyes, with all fervency and importunity to pray uncessantly for the peace of Ierusalem.
When from this generall, which is confess'd on Page 22 all sides, I descend to the inquisition of more par∣ticular and nearer causes of our present miserie, I am struck silent with amazement; my thoughts are all confounded, I know not what to say to it, unlesse I should ascribe the division of States to the conjunction of Starres, unlesse men at certaine periodicall times were carried into it by a fatall sway; that such eager and mortall contention should flame from little or no provocation.
Or if there be any cause other then fatall; was it, that we were come to the desperate resolution of Aesops Asse, who made no haste to fly from the enemies, presuming they could not load her with heavier burdens then her Master? It cannot be denyed but such Asses were numbers in the King∣dome, till sad experience, the fooles Mistrisse, made them finde and feele to their cost the little finger of the Rebels to be heavier, then was the hand, loynes, and whole body of the King.
Or shall I thinke Religion, that most specious pretext, the onely sound whereof (for, dull soules, they skill little of the substance of it) doth so migh∣tily bewitch and inveigle the people? Shall I think this to have been the true genuine cause? Nothing lesse. For our religion of old was (saith Lactantius) and still is to be defended, (especially against Page 23 those whom God hath set over us) not by fighting, but by dying; not by cruelty, but by patience; not by wickednesse, but by faith; not by break∣ing out into rebellion, but by constancie in suf∣fering. And yet these men, with stupendious boldnesse, have pretended religion for all their barbarous and bloudy actions; and made the doating multitude believe, That all this killing and staying is for the glory of God. For the glory of the Devill, is it not? I am sure the Devils glo∣ry in it, and make merry in hell, that we are so mad upon earth; they sit clapping of their blacke hands to see us together by the eares; there, there, so we would have it. It is no new art to dissem∣ble, and to set a good face upon a bad cause; but if there were the least affecting sense of religion in the hearts of men, if they had any tast of Heaven or Hell, it would not, it could not be thus. 'Tis impossible mindes seasoned with the sweet do∣ctrine of the Gospell, which commands us to love our very enemies, should entertaine thoughts of deadly hostility against their friends and brethren. Certainly the Devill hath distill'd the quin∣tessence of his serpentine policie into this strata∣gem, to convert religion, which God intended for the firmest bond of amity, and which naturally conserves the peace and incolumity of States and Page 24 Kingdomes, into the maine cause of warre and bloud-shed. The Christian religion; that that should draw men to disobedience, that that should make them▪ Theeves, Murtherers, Rebels, Traytors: O blasphemy! Why, our religion is all for peace, the Author of it is stiled. The Prince of Peace, the Lambe of God, who came into the world on purpose to guide our feet into the wayes of peace; therefore the Angels at his comming proclaimed peace, and when he was come, the religion that he taught us is called the Gospell of peace, and it con∣sists of many admirable precepts of meeknesse, pa∣tience; humilitie, innocence, subjection, chari∣tie, &c. all the mothers and nurses of peace; nay it denounceth damnation to all that break the peace. Let not then turbulent spirits and the troublers of Israel once offer to speake of religion, for if our re∣ligion, that is, if the Gospell be true (as who dare say the contrary?) there is no religion in them. Re∣bellion is as the sinne of Witchcraft: 1 Sam. 15. 23. Witches (they say) when they first covenant with the Devill, renounce their Baptisme, renege their Christianity: So they, that follow or favour rebel∣lious courses, had as good renounce Christ, abjure his Gospell; for howsoever they may continue formall Professors, they are reall Apostates. When I steadfastly view the palpable hypocrisie of these Page 25 times; my minde leades me to thinke our greatest Zealots, that personate Saints upon earth to be no better affected then Machiavill, who esteem'd it wisedome to professe, but weaknesse to believe any religion. And indeed nothing doth more strongly possesse me with a feare of the large reigne of Atheisme in these wretched dayes, than the generall abusing and profaning of religion, by making it the grand engine of practises, a vi∣zour to cover the face of all knavery and impiety, a meere legerdemaine to mock vulgar eyes: For, marke it; if the designe be to make a fortune, or to mend a broken one, to satisfie some revengefull or ambitious humour, the onely sure way to effect it, is, to proclaime a Fast, to overlay it with the faire colours of religion. Men now a dayes would seeme out of meere devotion and conscience to breake all Gods Commandements in the highest degree. O times! what can be added to the im∣pudence of this age, wherein such foule and hor∣rible villanies, all manner of tyrannicall outrages are perswaded, acted, and applauded, as singular testimonies of our good affection to Christ and his religion?
But to give over this Scrutinie: whatsoever the cause was, listen to a prodigie, by which, with∣out the helpe of a prophetick spirit, you may easily Page 26 prognosticate, what the effect will be. Pliny writes of a Serpent, called Amphisbaena, a Serpent with two heads, one where it should be, the other where the tayle should be, at each end a head: which two heads striving to goe contrary wayes, doe miserably straine and wring the body, and at last with continuall biting and fighting, woory and teare it all to pieces. To apply it were to reproach ye with dulnesse; onely, what can come of our unnaturall and virulent distractions, but such hopes to our enemies, such feare to our selves; joy to our enemies, sorrow to our selves; encourage∣ment to our enemies, disheartning to our selves; and finally triumph to our enemies, unprofitable repentance to our selves? These things conside∣red, it concerneth us to cry mightily unto the Lord, and with ardencie more then ordinary, to pray for the peace of Ierusalem.
Pray that Ierusalem may be as a City at unity in it selfe: pray also that she may have peace in her borders, peace with her neighbours: The word in the text is 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉Ierusalem in the duall num∣ber, that is pray for the peace of the two Ierusalems, pray for the peace of England and Scotland: That as we have one land, one language; one religion, one King, one God; so we may be of one mind. Page 27 I speake not this out of pusillanimity, or any base feare of that most insolent and most unexcusable enemie, for he carrieth the heart of a leveret in the bosome of a man, that being superiour to his ad∣versary in cause, should be inferiour in courage; but I speake it out of compassion to my bleeding Country, and out of horrour and detestation of the infinite mischiefes of civill warre, rapes, rava∣ges, proscriptions, depopulations, sacking, bur∣ning, killing, and a world of miseries. O cast your sorrowfull eyes upon the present lamentable con∣dition of England, lately one of the most happy, po∣tent, rich, resplendent, renowned regions in the world; now nothing but a great slaughter-house, the true representation of all the cruell and cursed effects of discord, the lively picture of all deadly calamities; behold in all places what harmes and havocke warre hath made, and then joine your acclamations with mine, O blessed, thrice blessed be the Peace-makers.
I will conclude with a briefe admonition, that Ierusalem would not put a barre betweene Prayer and Peace. If prayer and religious duties (for prayer 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 containes them all) be the most sure preservatives of peace while we have it, and the most soveraigne restoratives when we have lost Page 28 it; then, by the Law of contraries, sinne and im∣piety is most destructive and obstructive of it. Therefore let us not, as our manner is, shift off and transferre the fault, for unlesse we had no sinne our selves, why should we throw stones at others? but let every one call himselfe to a strict account, descend into his owne breast, and there like Jonas asleepe in the sides of the ship, he shall finde the cause of all these stormy commotions, his owne sinne and transgression: upon this discovery, let him sadly weigh and deeply consider what it is to be guilty of the deaths of so many thousands, guil∣ty of the desolation of a most glorious Church, guilty of the subversion of a most flourishing Kingdome: for to all these every mans sinne doth make him accessary. For, as it appeares by that fa∣mous Dialogue betweene God and Abraham,* if a Land be supported and saved by the righteous∣nesse of the Inhabitants, then it is lost and ruin'd by the wickednesse of them that dwell therein. Righ∣teousnesse and peace may kisse each other, but wickednes and peace cannot dwell long together. I might present ye with a cloud of examples out of ancient and moderne, prophane and divine storie. How often in the booke of Iudges doe we reade, againe Israel committed wickednesse in the sight of the Page 29 Lord? and againe Israel committed wickednesse in the sight of the Lord: and againe, and againe, and to∣ties quoties, Israel smarted for it, and were delive∣red into the hands of their enemies. But why should I fetch in forraine Precedents, our selves at the present being a fearefull example of this truth to all the world? For though we had a wall of water,* the Sea for our wall, as Alexandria had; though we had a wall of wood, a mighty Fleet, as Athens had; though we had had a wall of brasse, as (they say) time was, when we might have had; and a mighty rampire of mountaines, as Ierusalem had; yet sinne so abounding within, centuplex murus rebus servandis parum est, an hundred walls would not have kept the enemies out: no, nor the Horses and Chariots of Elisha, our prayers were not able to guard us: For if we regard iniqui∣ty in our hearts, the Lord will not heare us, saith Da∣vid: Why should he heare vs, who will not heare Him? Why should he give us audience, who deny him obedience? Why should be respect our prayers, who dis-respect his precepts? Qui orat & peccat, non orat Deum, sed deludit Deum, to sinne and pray, and pray and sinne, is not devotion but delusion: Nay, for us to pray for peace, who have abus'd it to his dishonour, and will not be reclaim'd by Warre, is impudens postulatio, a very impudent Page 30 request. VVe know (saith the blinde man in the Gospell) we know, as if it had beene an increated notion,*we know that God heareth not sinners. If them we come before him with our sinnes unre∣pented, with foule and contaminated consciences, lifting up impure hands; pray we never so ear∣nestly, *Give peace in our time, O Lord; Speak peace unto us, O most gracious God, Pacem te poscimus omnes; what answer can we expect, but some such as the furious Iehu made to Iehoram? What peace, so long as your sinnes and iniquities are so many? and then let fly his arrow and kill us all. Therefore, as God directs ye by his Pro∣phet, VVash yee, and make yee cleane; cease to doe evill, and learne to doe well: and then we may goe with boldnesse to the throne of heavenly grace: then come, and let us joyne the desires of our mindes, and the requests of our mouthes; Let us with one heart, and one voyce, Pray for the peace of Ierusalem, that peace within her walls, and prospe∣rity within her palaces for ever and ever may dwell. Which the God and Father of peace grant, for Je∣sus Christ's sake, who is our peace, through the Holy Ghost the bond of peace: To which undivi∣ded Trinity, the glorious patterne, and bright mir∣rour of all peace and unity, be praise and honour now and ever.