A sermon preached to the honourable House of Commons at their late solemne fast, Wednesday, December 27, 1643 by Alexander Henderson ...
Henderson, Alexander, 1583?-1646.
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A SERMON Preached at the late Fast, before the Honourable House of Commons.

EZRA 7.23.

Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done, for the house of the God of heaven; for why should there be wrath against the Realme of the King and his Sonnes?

THE Lord, who is the Father of Spirits, hath a great diversity of influence and operation, upon the minds and hearts of the chil∣dren of men;* he can send a dream upon Nebuchadnezar, while he is at rest in his house and florish∣ing in his palace, which maketh him afraid and the thoughts upon his bed, and the visions of his head Page  2 to trouble him a. While Belshazzar the King mak∣eth a great feast to a thousand of his Lords, he can make a hand to write over against the Candlesticke upon the plaister of the Wall, which maketh the Kings countenance to be changed, and his thoughts to trouble him; so that the joynts of his loynes were loosed, his knees smote one against another, and his wise men and Lords were astonied with him b: he can make Balaam, when he is called to curse the people of God, contrary to his owne in∣tention & the desire of Balaak, to blesse them three times c: He can make Cajephas to prophesie what he understandeth not, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole Nation perish not d: And the Lord can reveale his will to Joseph, Dani∣el, and his Prophets, concerning things to come for the comfort of his Church e. Againe, the Lord can renue the hearts of his Enemies, and make such a Persecutor, as Paul sometime was, to be a belee∣ver and Zealous Preacher f: He can restraine the impetuous violence of the heart of man; thus dealt he with Laban, that he durst not speake to Jacob either good or bad g; he can also and doth indeed overrule the hearts and wayes of his most Malig∣nant and desperate Enemies, whom he neither re∣nueth nor restraineth, and contrary to their Coun∣sels and intentions, bring them mervelously about to his owne ends, as he dealt with Judas, Herod, Pi∣late, and the people of the Jewes, who devised and did mischiefe against Christ, but God meant it for good, to save his people from their sinnes h. There is yet another way of divine providence and Sove∣raignty, Page  3 when the Lord is pleased neither to pro∣ceed to farre as to renue, nor doe so little as to re∣straine, but thinketh meet to change the affections of the heart of man; whether from particular ha∣tred and opposition, as he dealt with Esau com∣ming against Jacobi, and Alexander the great, marching against Jerusalemk, or from that com∣mon and innate hatred that all men naturally beare against the true Religion and Church of God: Of which we have the example of Ahashuerus in the booke of Ester, of Artaxerxes in the booke of Ne∣hemiah, of Cyrus and Darius in this booke, and of the same Artaxerxes in this Text: In whose eyes Ezra did find such favour, and of whom he had as ample testimonie of royall benevolence and bounty toward Jerusalem and the house of God there, as his heart could have wished, and as made him humbly to acknowledge, that the good hand of the Lord his God was upon him, and to blesse the Lord God of his fathers, which had put such a thing in the Kings heart, as to beautifie the house of the Lord God which was at Jerusalem. In the letter of Artaxerxes expressing his munificence, and contai∣ning the Commission and instructions given unto Ezra for this purpose; the clause which I have read is worthy of a starre or finger in the margent, wherein we may perceive, that the King as he had heard and learned not from a flattering Court-Chaplaine, but from faithfull Ezra, beleeveth, that the great wrath of God, shall come not onely upon himselfe, but which was more, upon his Kingdome and Posterity; if Religion should not be setled, Page  4 and the house of God ordered with all speed and di∣ligence in every thing, as God himselfe had com∣manded.

*If we will looke more distinctly upon the Or∣der not of the words, but of the matter, we shall meet with three particulars fitting the present condition of affaires, and very worthy our gravest consideration: The first is the great evill to be a∣voyded, even the greatest of all evils, The wrath of God against the Realme of the King and his Sonnes.

The second is, the meane which is the chiefest of all meanes, and without which no other meane can be effectuall for averting or preventing of wrath, Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done, for the house of the God of heaven.

The third is, the connexion of the one and the other, or the inference of the effect from the cause: For why should there be wrath? &c. When that is not diligently done for the house of the God of Hea∣ven, which the God of Heaven commandeth, then is there wrath against the Realme of the King and his Sonnes.

Would the Lord, who is so rich in wisdome and can use so many powerfull wayes of dealing with the heart of man, be pleased to put it in the Kings heart, to write such a letter and send forth such an Edict as this is, it would be the opening of a doore of hope; or as good Schechaniah saith l, there would be now hope in Israel concerning this thing: That the horrible deluge of wrath which now overrunneth this Land, should be aswaged, the Fountains also of the depth, and the windowes of Heaven would Page  5 be stopped, the Arke would rest, the Dove would come with an Olive-leafe in her mouth, we would all joyn in offering a Sacrifice of thanksgiving, the Lord would smell a savour of rest, and we should see a new world wherin should dwel righteousnesse and peace. Amongst all the great things which the honourable Houses of Parliament have done, there is none more acceptable to God, or more promiseth peace and happinesse to this Land, then that a Church-assembly is called, for searching in∣to the will of the God of Heaven, that whatsoever is commanded by him may be diligently done. The wrath of the Lord hath raged for many yeeres in Germany and is not yet abated, because nothing is done there for Reformation of Religion, and buil∣ding of the house of God. But there be three things in England which give us hope and promise deliverance. First, Your frequent and continued fasting and humiliation. Secondly, Your entring into a solemne Covenant with God for obtaining mercy. Thirdly, Your begun Reformation, and the course You have taken for perfecting the same, That whatsoever is commanded by the God of Heaven may be diligently done for the house of the God of Heaven. If these three be performed in truth, You may expect a blessing: True humiliation, Covenanting with God, and Reformation, are the Harbingers of peace and happinesse: But when they are not in truth, the hypocrisie threatneth more then the performance promiseth.

Concerning the great evill to be avoyded, which is the wrath of the God of Heaven,* although it be Page  6 infinit and above all dimenion unmeasurable, as it is in the infinit and incomprehensible God, yet ac∣cording to our capacity and the matter in hand, it is expressed and set before our eyes in the dimensi∣ons thereof. In the mPsalme 103. we have the di∣mensions of the infinite mercy of God, the height and the depth thereof, according to the height of heaven; or as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that feare him: and like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that feare him: the breadth as farre as the East is from the West, so farre hath he re∣moved our transgressions from us: and the length, The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to e∣verlasting to them that feare him, and his righ∣teousnesse unto his Childrens Children. In this place We have the like dimensions of his anger against them that use no the power which God hath given them, for setling his feare and worship according to his owne will: The height and depth thereof is in the word Wrath,** which is a boyling and burning anger, and this is the wrath of God revea∣led from heaven,* and burning to the lowest hell; The bredth is, where it is not said against the King, but the kingdom of the King; and the length of it is, the Sons & Posterity of the King to al generations.

To speake a word of these three severally: First, we know that the words used in Scripture to denote the wrath of God against his Enemies, doe expresse humane affections and bodily passions, which are not in him who is not like unto man; But the thing intended is the Lord his most holy dislike and seri∣ous Page  7 detestation of sinne, with his most just and con∣stant will and decree to punish the same: His Comminations and threats declaring his dislike and decree, and his judgements and vengeance which are the executing of his threatnings. This execution of wrath is principally meant in this place, and yet it is not called the wrath of God, but simply (Wrath) thereby shewing the greatnesse and immensity of the wrath of God; that there is no wrath comparable with his wrath, and therefore no wrath so formidable as his wrath. For first, all o∣ther wrath of Man or Angell is but the limited wrath of the creature, but his wrath is infinite like himself; as the man is, so is his wrath, and as God is, so is his wrath▪ The wrath of a King is like the roaring of a young Lyon, but the roaring of the Lyon of the Tribe of Judah is more terrible; look how much the Wisdome, the Power, the Justice, the Mercy of God are greater then the Wisdome, the Power, the Justice, the mercy of man, so much is the wrath of God greater then the wrath of man. Secondly, the wrath of God reacheth to the soule as well as to the body; to Kingdomes as well as to particular persons or Families; to the posterity as well as to the present generation; it being accom∣panied with omnipotency to which all things are alike, easie and faisible. Thirdly, the greatnesse of his anger appeareth in this; that he is the Lord of Hosts, when the Heavens and the earth were fini∣shed, and all the host of them nGen. 2.1. then and not before did God the maker of all things take upon him the name of the Lord o, verse 4. Page  8 After he had made all things by his word, and set them in order, he commandeth and ruleth all by his authority, he hath them all ready to execute his will; they are all his Host and Souldiers, from the Angels, Sunne, Moone and Starres, unto the smal∣lest Flies and Wormes; and when he giveth the a∣larme to the least of them, the greatest on earth are not able to resist.

The Use of this may be two-fold:* One is against the wicked; since in these three respects there is no wrath comparable to the wrath of God, no wrath is so much to be feared as his wrath. Vengeance belongeth to me, I will recompence saith the Lord; and againe, the Lord shall judge his people; It is a fearfull thing to fall into the hands of the living God p; although it be much better for the Godly to fill into the hands of God, whose mercies are great and who in judgement remembreth mercy, then into the hands of men whose mercies are cru∣ell; and it were more tolerable for them to have the pestilence then the sword raging in the Land q yet the wicked shall find that it had beene more ea∣sie for them to fall into the hands of men then into the hands of God, who both killeth the body and de∣stroyeth their temporall being, & casteth both soul and body into the fire of hel; For the Lord whose name is jealous is a jalous Godr; and which is very pro∣per for such as at this time flatter themselves in their owne wickednesse; The Lord will not spare him, but the anger of the Lord and his jealousie shall smoake against that man, and all the curses that are written in this booke shall lye upon him, and the Lord Page  9 shall blot out his name from under Heavens. To which that of the Prophet is very agreeable; Then shall mine anger be accomplished, and I will cause my fury to rest upon them, and I will be comfortedt. The wicked amongst the people of God, who blesse themselves in their owne hearts, saying; We shall have peace, though we walk in the imaginations of our owne hearts; are the naturall element for the curses and judgements of God, which are moving to and fro, to lye and rest in, and when the curses and judgements of the Lord come upon them, the Lord is at rest and is comforted, and his people that feare his name and tremble at his judgements, are also at rest and are comforted.

Another use is for the Godly,* who in some si∣militude and conformity with the wrath of the jea∣lous God, should stirre up in themselves their zeal and just indignation against false worship, and the contempt of the true worship of his name. When Moses did behold the Idolatry of the people in the golden Calfe, his Zeale was so strong and he so impatient, that he brake the Tables written with Gods owne hand u. I have beene very jealous for the Lord God of Hosts, saith Eliasx; For the Children of Israel have forsaken thy Covenant, thrown down thine Altars, and slaine thy Prophets with the sword. When Paul came to Athens and saw the City wholly given to Idolatry, his spirit was stirred in him, and a Pa∣roxisme like a fit of a feaver did take himy. And when Lot was at Sodome, he vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawfull deeds, his soule was tormented within him z. You must not any Page  10 longer be lukewarme like Laodicea, neither hot nor colda, but (according to the fervent anger ascribed here to God) fervent in spirit serving the Lordb. When we are lukewarme in the matters of God, then doth the wrath of God wax hot, and when we are fervent and zealous, then doth his anger cease and the fire of his wrath is extinguished.

The second is, the object of his wrath, or the bredth unto which it is extended:*The Realme of the King: he saith not upon the King, or upon the King of the Kingdome, but upon the Kingdome of the King; and thus he expresseth himselfe upon two grounds, or for two reasons: The one is; be∣cause he knew that for his fault the people might suffer: The other is; that he looked more to the suffering of the people, then to any thing that could befall himselfe. No question he had learned from Ezra and others of his spirit (so good and ne∣cessary a thing is it, that Ezraes and Nehemiahs be about Kings, such prove indeed as their names im∣ply, helpers and comforters both to King and peo∣ple) that Kingdomes suffers sometimes for the sins of their Kings and Rulers c; a truth not unknowne unto naturall men. It is also true that Kings some∣times suffer for the sinnes of the people: For the transgression of a Land many are the Princes therofd. If you shall still doe wickedly, saith Samuel to the people e; yee shall be consumed, both you and your King. But all the debate is in the application; for Kings many times justifie themselves, that the people suffer not for their sinnes, but for their owne; and the people are as ready to justifie them∣selves, Page  11 that Kings suffer not for their sinnes but for their owne; and when wrath is upon both, both are ready to stand to their owne defence, and to plead their innocency: But the true determinati∣on is, that no man or multitude suffereth but for that sinne, which some way is their owne sinne, and whereof they themselves are guilty. When David numbred the people, & the people were punished, the people were punished for their owne sinnes; both their former sinnes which the Lord at this time did take occasion to call to remembrance; and their present sinne in consenting to the num∣bering of the people; for had they beene all un∣willing as Joab was, and had not consented, they had not sinned. Kings should not be permitted to commit such publike sinnes, but Councell, Parlia∣ment, People, and every one according to his place and power should hinder them. It may displease them for the present, but afterward it shall be no griefe nor offence of heart unto them, either that they have shed blood causlesse, or have avenged themselves, as Abigail said to Davidf; yet David said truely, it was his sinne, both because it did be∣ginne at him, and he was the principall Agent in it; and because he gave the provocation at this time, and his sinne was the match that set on fire the wrath of God, which was ready before to be kin∣dled against the people for their sinnes. It is a mi∣serable debate betwixt a King and a people, when in the time of a publike judgement, both of them stand to their owne innocency, and the one accuseth the other of guiltinesse: But it is a sweet contest Page  12 and promiseth much mercy and comfort: when the Prince saith; I have sinned and done wickedly, but what hath the people done? and when the people say, we have sinned and done wickedly, and thereby have drawne wrath upon out selves. Although at this time the Kings Majesty, when he sees so many of the poore people fall to the ground, so much blood spilt, should be moved in his heart to say as David said, I have sinned: Yet yee that are his Subjects, each one in his owne place, should con∣fesse your owne sinnes, and justifie the Lords doing, for yee are guilty; first, of many sinnes before this time, especially that you have not called and en∣deavoured so earnestly as yee ought for Reformati∣on of Religion, that every thing might have beene done in the house of God according to his own wil; but have pleased your selves with, and have rested in the beginnings of a Reformation; yee have been for the greater part more pleased with things which were not reformed, then the things which were reformed in the worship of God; and this sinne hath beene the cause of many other sinnes, for where God is not served aright, all other duties are but neglected or performed without sincerity. Se∣condly, for the present, this is the sinne of the Land, that the people have not according to their power stayed the King from shedding of blood, but many have joyned their Counsels and endea∣vours to begin and encrease the common misery, and others have not resisted the evill, but suffered the sword to rage, which may make the people just∣ly to say, We have sinned and done wickedly.

Page  13The third is, the length of this wrath;* for it rea∣ches to the Kings Sonnes and so to the Posterity. The wrath of God endeth not at the persons that have sinned, but is extended to others that descend of them, without respect of persons, and especial∣ly for sinnes about the house and worship of God. For the horrid and blasphemous murmuring of Israel, when they repented themselves▪ of their comming out of Egypt, and said one to another, let us make a Captaine and let us returne into Egypt; not onely their own carkasses fel in the Wildernes, but their Children which had not murmered, yea which were not yet born must wander in the Wil∣dernesse forty yeers, and beare their whoredomes g In like manner in the seventy yeeres of the captivi∣ty of Babylon, the Children that were borne in Ba∣bylon, or were carried from their owne Land, suffe∣red in that captivity a world of miseries for the sinnes of their Parents. The examples of the Children of Dathan and Abiram, of the first borne of Egypt; of the young ones in Sodome, that had not sinned after the similitude of the transgression of Adam; and many other judgements of God, plucking up root and branch, prove this to be the manner of the Lords proceeding against sinners, and that without respect of persons: The greater the persons be, the more grievous in the justice of God is the punishment; because the sinnes of great ones are not onely sinnes, but examples of sinning, and proclamations of liberty to inferiours, and therefore I will be glorified in Pharoah and in his servantsh, saith the Lord. For the sinne of Saul.Page  14 in slaying the Gibeonites, there was not onely a fa∣mine in the dayes of David, three yeers yeere after yeere, but seven of his sonnes also were hanged up in Gibea. David himselfe was not spred, but be∣cause he had slaine Vriah the Hittite with the sword of the Children of Ammon; Nathan said, the sword shall not depart from thine house be∣cause thou hast despised me i: And afterward when his sinne was pardoned, because he had given great occasion to the Enemies of God to blaspheme, the Child also that is borne unto him shall surely dye. This course the Lord doth after a speciall manner follow in sinnes about his house and worship; and therefore in the second command and no other doth the Lord threaten to visit the sinnes of the Fathers upon the Children. The reasons why the Lord doth so; are first, that all the world may know, how much the Lord abhorreth sinne, especially in matters of his worship. To this purpose it is ob∣servable what he saith, Exod. 32.34. In the day when I visit I will visit their sinne upon them: So often as he punished the people and their posteri∣ty for other sinnes he remembred, their sinne of I∣dolatry, which gave occasion to the saying, That in every plague of Israel there was one ounce of the golden Calfe. Secondly, that men may abstaine from sinnes of this sort, not onely for respect to themselves, but to their posterity, whom they love so enderly, and of whom they are often more care∣full then of themselves. And this he doth to the third and fourth generation, that both the Parents themselves and others who are witnesses to the Page  15 sinnes of the Parents, may be sensible of Gods dea∣ling, and know that the Lord is just, and the aven∣ger of sinne. I leave the theologicall discourse in vindicating the justice of God, onely I say; first, that the Lord punisheth no man with eternall wrath for his fathers sinnes, but the soule that sin∣neth suffereth in that kind. Secondly, that the un∣godly and wicked posterity cannot open their mouth against the justice of God, since they conti∣nue in the iniquity of their fathers. Thirdly, that the Godly when they are visited in their bodies, goods, or estates which they have from their Fa∣thers, will find these visitations to be indeed indi∣cia peccati non judicia propter peccatum, and rather medicines and preservatives for their eternall hap∣pinesse then wrath for their destruction.

And I come to the use; that in this nicke of time and joynture of affaires,* the great wisdome which God hath given you in your publike places, be stirred up and exercised, in taking heed that all the former sinnes of this Land committed by so many Progenitors, be not brought upon this Gene∣ration, according to that sore and sad sentence pro∣nounced by the Sonne of God against Jerusalem, Matth. 23.35.*That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel, unto the blood of Zacharias, Sonne of Barachias whom yee slew between the Temple & the Altar; and verse 36. Verily I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this Generation. Yee cannot preserve all particular persons from the judge∣ments due unto them for their own, and for their fa∣thers Page  16 sinnes; nor can yee preserve every Family from the wrath which the present and preceding generations have been treasuring up. It appeareth that the Lord hath decreed the destruction of some persons, and the etirpation of some Families: But it is in your hands to prevent the desolation of the Church and Kingdome. The Jewes filled up the measure of their Fathers, by crucifying the Sonne, of God when he came amongst them and would have wrought a Reformation, and therefore their habitation was left desolate, and they are no more a Nation nor a Kingdome unto this day: It is true the people were executioners, but the Rulers were the prime Agents. Doe therefore the worke unto which the Lord hath called You, and Yee shall save the Kingdome from this wrath: It is in Your hands as Instruments to make the posterity blessed, and to blesse You for your faithfulnesse. Woe to them that leave their Station in such an exigence; they doe what they can to bring all the blood and all the sinnes of former times upon this Generation, and to make the Posterity miserable. Let others pro∣fesse or pretend what they will, I am assured, that such as are faithfull in their places, are upon the right way to save the Kingdome, the King, and the Kings Sonnes from wrath.

Now there is nothing more necessary, nothing we should desire more earnestly to know, then by what means this great wrath of the great God may be pre∣vented where it is iminent & feared,* or averted wher it is incumbent & felt; & to what end doth the Lord Page  17 threaten his wrath, to what purpose doth he make it smoke, and in part to break forth in a flame, but that the means may be used to turn it away, that the fulnesse thereof come not upon us. We will find three sorts of means practised in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, and of the Prophets their contemporaries. The first was publick fasting and solemne humiliation joyned with Confession of sin,* justifying of God in all the evils he had brought upon them, earnest deprecation of wrath, and supplications for a blessing that God would accept of their endeavours, and prosper his work against so many professed and secret Enemies. The se∣cond was,* a solemne Covenant: For the Princes and Rulers first, and then the people entred into a curse and an oath, to walk in Gods Law, and to observe and do all his commandments, judgements, and statutes. Here there was swearing, subscribing, sealing; and all means used which could bind their inconstant and fugitive hearts unto God. The third was,* the doing of the work of God; the building of the Temple, the reformation of Religion, the ordring of the worship & service of God, and the reedising of the wals which were ruined & lying in heaps. Their fasting and praying was not sufficient, they behoved to enter into Covenant. Their praying and Covenanting was not enough, nor were they to rest there, They behoved to build and reforme. It hath pleased God to putt in your hearts, to give your selves to frequent fasting and humiliation, onely consider, whe∣ther with the acknowledgment of your particular Sins and personall transgressions, yee have beene humbled for publike and Nationall Sinnes, and especially such as have beene committed about the worship of God, and Page  18 the Government of the house of God. The Lord hath been much dishonoured this way, for this hath he en∣tred in a controversie with the Land; this therefore would be confessed that God may be resto••d to his honour by your confession. It feareth me that a great part of the people of the Land are not yet brought to this Confession, but are still fond of a formall Service, and a proud Prelacie; and therefore as ye are your selves in humilitie to acknowledge this sin as a high provoca∣tion, so would all good meanes be used for bringing the people to the sight and sense of it. It is true, there is a secret and reall acknowledgement in the Covenant; but the Lord requireth a more direct, open, and plain con∣fession; nor can he be pleased, or his wrath turned away, till that which hath been called and esteemed, for so many yeers, the glory and the beautie of the Church of England, be thus brought low and cast into the dust. It hath pleased the Lord also, to bring you a degree farder: That both the honourable Houses of Parlia∣ment, and many others, whose hearts the Lord hath toucht, have entred into a solemne League and Cove∣nant, for performing such duties, as are judged neces∣sarie at this time, for the honour of God, and for the deliverance and preservation of the Church and King∣dom, which no doubt will prove a pretious and power∣full mean of good, if the Name of the most high God, be not by it taken in vain: But take heed, that it be not forgotten by them that have taken it, before it be taken by others; And therefore two things would be looked unto. 1. That although it should never be taken by others, yet it obleigeth such as have entred in Cove∣nant; and although the whole Nation, be bound to the Page  19 same duties, which ye are bound unto, ye have entred into a new Obligation, which, if you shall forget or violate; will certainly be laid to your charge. Jeremiah reproveth Israel not for the transgression of the Law,* which yet commanded the same duties, but for viola∣tion of the Covenant. 2. That others be instructed and moved to enter into the same Covenant: for if they who have entred in Covenant shall not consider that it is a perpetuall Covenant never to be forgotten, or (which God forbid) shall forget their supervenient obligation, and others shall refuse to enter in Cove∣nant, it will not onely make a division in the Church and Kingdom, but shall be a ready way to bring on a greater wrath, then yet hath been seen or felt: Upon one sort for their perfidy; and upon the other, for their neglect or obstinacy.

There is yet a third mean, without which the former two are not sufficient: And this is, Whatsoever is com∣manded by the God of heaven, be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: A dutie which in it self is necessary, and which to us who live under the Gospel, is no other thing, but the reformation and setling of Religion. Wherein we are to consider.* 1. the Rule of reformation, which is the Commandment, Decree, or re∣vealed will of God. 2. The extent of this reformation, whatsoever. 3. How or after what manner we should go about the work, diligently. 4. The reasons, which should induce us to this duty: one is, from the great∣nesse and soveraignty of God: He is the God of heaven. The other from common equity: It is the house of the God of heaven; and it is equitable that every man bear rule in his own house.

Page  20The rule of building the house of God, and of the reformation of Religion,* is the same and perpetuall: the commandment of God, and not the commandment of man one or moe, whether they be Civill or Eccle∣siasticall persons. It is their part to provide according to their places and callings, to command and direct that the Commandment of God be obeyed. This King commandeth not that his will be done, but what God hath commanded. Neither King nor Parliament can command otherwise. Civill powers have great au∣thoritie, not onely in things civill, but in matters of Religion; and they sin against God, if they use not the authority which God hath put in their hands, for the good of Religion. To them belongeth Inspection and watching over, not onely Ecclesiastics, but Ecclesia∣stica. Ecclesiasticall persons are subject to Civill authoritie no lesse then others; and in respect of things Ecclesiasticall or matters of Religion, Eu∣sebius brings in Constantine the great, saying: Vos Episcopi in Ecclesia, ego extra Ecclesiam seu templum Episcopus a Deo constitutus sum: Not that any mortall man whether Pope or Prince, can be properly Head of the Church, or Vice-gerent unto Christ the Medi∣ator in his speciall and oeconomicall Kingdom of Grace: for Princes are Vice-gerents to God, and to his Son Jesus Christ as he is God, in his universall Kingdom of Providence; and this watching and inspe∣ction of Princes and Magistrates, is objective Ecclesiasti∣ca, but formaliter civili, it is about matters of Religi∣on in a civill manner, and in a way sutable to the nature and qualitie of their place and power. The faithfull custody and preservation of Religion, is a part of their Page  21 office: for they are not onely keepers of the second, but of the first Table of the Law. To them appertain∣eth the vindication and defence of Religion, against contempt, corruption, and abuses. Religion also ex∣pecteth from them the Civill sanction, that the wor∣ship of God, and the wholsome constitutions of the Church about Religion, be confirmed and setled by their Laws. Coaction also is theirs, for they by their power are to constrain their Subjects to the duties of Religion, and to coerce and stop them that they do no∣thing to the contrary. They also may and ought to call Assemblies of the Church, when the case of Reli∣gion doth require, praeside as Civill Presidents, and ex∣amine Church-Constitutions, not onely as they are Christians for satisfying their own souls, but as Ma∣gistrates for the good of the people. And when there is a necessity of reformation of Religion, and the Mini∣stery and Church-men, like the sands of the Sea-shore are covered with a deluge of defection and corruptions, they are by their Authority to endeavour a Reforma∣tion. And yet in all this exercise of their power, they are to do nothing but according to the Commandment of God: so David, Jehoshaphet, Hezekiah, Josiah, and other good and religious Princes have done. But when Jeroboam putteth his own commandment in place of the commandment of God, when Ahaz setteth up the Altar of Damascus beside or in place of Gods Altar, when the Kings of Judah and Israel, did worship God, or did command the people to worship God, other∣wise then God had commanded, wrath was upon the Kingdom of the King and his Sons.

When we consider of this,* we have cause both to la∣ment Page  22 and rejoyce: to lament, that through the working of corrupt Church-men so many things concerning the worship and house of God, should have been pressed upon the people of God, without or against his com∣mandment, if Arminianisme for the soul and life, and Popish Service and Ceremonies for the body of Reli∣gion, had been received and admitted, as they were of∣fered and obtruded, our condition had been more la∣mentable, then it is at this time, notwithstanding all our calamities and miseries. We have also cause to re∣joyce, that in the one Kingdom a course hath been ta∣ken for doing every thing in the house of God, accord∣ing to his Commandment, and that in this Kingdom it is ordered, that a wise and holy Assembly of Divines shall search diligently into the Word of God, That whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, &c.

The extent of this Reformation is,*Whatsoever God hath commanded: for what God hath commanded must be done; what he hath forbidden must not be done, but abolished; and what is in the nature thereof indifferent must be regulated according to the Commandment of God, which is, no lesse plain and peremptory in our practise of things indifferent, then in other matters. Reformation therefore of Religion must be a through and perfect reformation. The particular reformati∣ons which were wrought by the Kings of Judah, are noted, and according to this rule, do they receive a te∣stimony from God. Some onely destroyed the Tem∣ples of Baal, some the golden Calves of Dan and Be∣thel, and some also the groves and high places, and we know what approbation is given to Hezekiah and Jo∣siah. There is a promise made to such a through Re∣formation. Page  23Azariah saith to Asa, Be ye strong therefore, and let not your hands be weak: for your work shall be re∣warded:*By this shall the iniquitie of Jacob be purged, and this is all the fruit to take his sin: when he maketh all the stones of the Altar as chalk-stones that are beaten asun∣der.* The Lord hath promised a more speciall bles∣sing, Isa. 1.26.*I will restore thy Judges as at the first, and thy Counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called the City of righteousnesse, the faithfull City, &c. The reason is, 1. Because God is not honoured by a be∣gun, imperfect, and half-reformation. He is readie to spew out the luke-warme person, family, or people. If we love the Lord with all our heart and strength, we will do every thing that he commandeth: for what is it that hindreth, but that our heart is parted or divided betwixt two; and that we resolve, to be almost, but not altogether godly. 2. Because a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump, saith the Apostle to the Galathians,*re∣proving them that having run well they did halt and not throughly obey the truth, and telling them, that this per∣swasion did not come of him that called them. When any known corruption is kept, it becomes a snare, and like a nest-egge, that bringeth us back again. I know this is censured for precisenesse by the world: but we see the best servants of God have been such Precisians. Re∣member the hoof of Moses, Mordecai his bowing of his knee, Daniel his abstaining from idolatrous meat, and the opening of his window; Paul his houre and ap∣pearance of evill, with many more examples of this kind. They are Precisians indeed, who are liberall in the matters of God, and can find in their hearts to dis∣pence with his commands, his truth and worship: but Page  24 will not be content to want the least complement of their own worldly honour and dignitie, nor the smal∣lest penny of their gaine and worldly commodity. Although it be true, that some things in Religion be fundamentall, and absolutely necessary unto salvation, and other things not so, yet to be obstinate against re∣vealed truth, or to mis-regard or despise smallest mat∣ters of Religion, which are necessarie to be received, if not for themselves, yet for the authoritie of Scripture, (as some make the distinction) bringeth as certain a curse and condemnation, as ignorance and errour doth in matters more substantiall.

*No Nation under the Sun hath more need to take heed to this then England: No persons have reason more to consider this, then the Honourable Houses of Parliament, who have in their hands the work of Re∣formation at this time. It is better known to this Ho∣nourable Audience, then to me; and yet who is so great a stranger that knoweth it not: that Reformation was begun in the time of two Princes? But because it was not a through Reformation according to the Com∣mandment of God, Superstition and Idolatry returned again like an inundation. It was again begun and con∣tinued in the time of other two Princes; but because, they set up their rest in the Rudiments and beginnings of Reformation, Idolatry, Superstition, and Heresie have assayed to enter again with ew strength and poli∣cie. Now the third time the work is begun, and there is a greater stir and shaking for it then before, either now endeavour to carry it through to every point of known perfection, doing whatsoever the God of hea∣ven hath commanded, or look for nothing, but that Su∣perstition Page  25 and Idolatry, and with it ruine and desola∣tion, shall come upon you as a flood.

And therefore, which is the third, go about the work after the manner here prescribed,* that is diligent∣ly, which implyeth very much. 1 Sincerely, ayming at the right end without simulation. This is to do the work of God, for the honour of God, and good of Re∣ligion. And not for our glory or benefit, or for civill ends were they never so publick; And therefore it cal∣leth not onely for publick, but for pious Spirits. Where this sinceritie is wanting, there may be a busi∣nesse and counterfeiting of diligence, but no true dili∣gence or faithfulnesse. 2 Zealously: for true zeal is active, like fire, or like mettall in a horse, or like winde to the sails of a ship, it carrieth us on, and maketh us diligent. 3. Prudently, Prudence considereth both the opportunities and impediments of working, where Prudence is wanting, there may be precipitation, but no true diligence. 4. Speedily, without delay or pro∣crastination. A vineger to the teeth, and a smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him*. The slouth∣ing and slipping of occasions bringeth despair of doing good in the end, and then our own consciences chide, and others to whom we should have done good, do curse us. Solomons house was not built in lesse then thir∣teen yeers, but the Temple was built in seven yeers: be∣cause, beside the preparation of materials, both the King and the people were more earnest about the one then the other. There is no want of materials at this time, onely speed is required; and without speed, no diigence. 5. Constantly; that no calumny or con∣tradiction, no hope or fear, no trouble or example of Page  26 others, prevail with you, to leave your station, or de∣sert the work unto the which the Lord hath called you, but that you resolve still to do, and, if the Lord will, to die. Let no man think by deserting the work and forsaking his station, that the work shall cease and he shall prosper. No, thou shalt find thy soul filled with grief and vexation upon two contrary grounds: One is, Thou shalt with a grieved and envious heart behold with thy eyes, the work to prosper, and thou not ho∣noured to have a hand in it. The other is; Thou thy self shall perish in the end: For as a bird that wandreth from her nest,*so is a man that wandreth from his place. Mark and consider what comfort they have found who have deserted this work of Reformation, whether in the one Kingdom or in the other. Thou thinkest, that thou will not hazard thy self for the honour of God: but God saith, he will not honour thee, to have heart or hand in his work, and thou shall run a greater hazard.

*There be two reasons secretly couched in the words to perswade and provoke unto this duty:* The one is from the knowledge of the greatnesse and majestie of God, the other from the conscience of common equi∣tie amongst men. Concerning the first: Artaxerxes was a great King: for in the beginning of his letter, he is honored with the title of King of Kings, as having many mightie Princes under his power; And in the end of the letter, he hath power of confiscation of goods, imprisonment, banishment, and death: Yet he acknowledgeth one greater then the greatest whom he calleth the God of heaven, thereby to expresse his great∣nesse, majestie, and glory, which made him to give forth this Decree, and by which he would move all Page  27 men to do diligently what he commandeth: For the knowledge and apprehension of the greatnesse and Ma∣jestie of God, especially compared with our basenesse, is a powerfull mean, to move us to obey his Com∣mandments, and to go diligently about the affairs of his House. The Lord is great eminently and infinitely above the creature: he is the originall of all created greatnesse, and nothing can be conceived in him, which may be the least diminution of his greatnesse and Majestie. It is not so with men. When he is to give his Law to his people, he first manifesteth his greatnesse by his wonders in Aegypt, by bringing them miraculously through the Red sea, and by the Terrors of Mount Sinai, and then he beginneth,*I am the Lord thy God that brought thee, &c. When he speaketh to his Prophets, to make them diligent and faithfull, he useth this Preface: Thus saith the Lord.* When he sendeth Isaiah with his message, he beginneth with a vi∣sion of his glory: I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his traine filled the Temple. &c. When he will have men to tremble at his word, Thus saith the Lord, the heavens is my Throne, and the earth is my footstool. When he revealed himself to John his servant, he sheweth his greatnesse, Revel. 4. and 7. If the greatest of the children of men did consider that he is higher then the highest, Eccles. 5.8. that in his hand is there breath, and all their wayes, as Daniel tel∣leth a great King that went before Artaxerxes, Dan. 5.23. That in his fight when once he is angrie, no creature can stand. Psal. 76.7. They would not by any sin, and least of all by dealing deceitfully in the matters of his House, provoke him to anger. Wo unto him that stri∣veth Page  28 with his Maker: Let the potsheard strive with the potsheards of the earth. Isa. 45.9. If either King or Par∣liament, or Assembly, could really in their hearts ap∣prehend this uncreated and infinite greatnesse, and could look upon God, as he is described, Dan. 7.9. I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Antient of dayes did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head as pure wooll, his Throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery streame is∣sued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministred unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. They would choose rather to offend all the world, then to offend him in the smallest mat∣ter of his House: but the truth is, we put the Lord farre from us, and we see not him that is invisible. Un∣lesse by the goodnesse of God a timeous and powerfull remedie be provided, the multitude of Sects and Secta∣ries will become ere it be long, the reproach of this Nation, yet it fears me that Atheisme and Atheists be more common, and abound more, then any Sect, or sort of Sectaries: For did men know or beleeve, that there is a God in heaven, who is God of heaven and earth, were it possible for them to live as they live, and to do what they do. Men become first Atheists in their life and conversation, living as a worme in a mans bellie, thinking no other wayes of man, but as ordained to be a place for it to live in, and of no other world but that wherein it lives: So do the Atheists of the world, wallow in their sins and sensualitie, never thinking of the Author or end of their life, that there is any other world, or that this world serveth for any other end but for their life. After they have lived as Atheists, Page  29 when they are constrained sometimes to think that there is a God, they become Atheists in their desire and affection, wishing that there were not a God to be avenged upon them for their wickednesse; and in end the Lord giveth them up to Atheisme in their judge∣ment and opinion. As they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind. Rom. 1.28. Being stricken with his judgement, they have no serious thought of the House of God or his glory, but all their care is, about their own houses and honour; And ordinarily the Lord befools them in their deepest Policies, sweeping down their cob-webs, which they have been for a long time twisting, ma∣king their own wits a snare unto them, and turning the means which they did use for their standing and rising, to be the meanes of their fall and ruine.

The other Reason is from common equity amongst men,* which was the ground of that Decree, Esth. 1.22.*That everie man should beare rule in his own house. The Temple of Jerusalem was the House of God: and now under the Gospel the Church of Christ, is the House of the living God, where he hath promised his presence, his face is seen, and he is found of them that seek him: which therefore may be called, Surely God is in thee. Isa. 45.14.* And Jehovah Shammah, The Lord is there. Ezek. 48.35.* And therefore the Lord should beare rule in his Church, and his Com∣mandment ought to be obeyed. According to this ground hath the Lord given the precepts of his holy, just, and good Law: For if he be our God, what more equitable then that we have him and no other for our God, that he direct his own service and worship, that Page  30 his Name be reverently used by us, that we observe the times wherein he will have us to appeare before him, and that we do duty to every one with whom we live under him.

This consideration may be very usefull: For it may first serve to be a Cure of two great ills in this Land: One is of such as conceive that the Law of God, be∣longeth not to Christians; They may as well say, that Common and Naturall Equitie belongeth not to Christians. Is it not written in the heart of man by nature? Is it not confirmed by Jesus Christ? Is it not recommended to Christians by the Apostles? Is it not established by faith? Is not the observing of it, a testimonie of our communion with God? Is not the end of it, love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and faith unfained? Is it thankfulnesse to God, because we are delivered from the condemnation, coaction, and rigour of the Law, not to acknowledge the obligation of the Law? Shall not the domesticks of the house of God observe the Commandments of God, or shall they not be grieved when they transgresse and observe them not? It is too common an errour to turn the grace of God into wantonnesse. The other evill is on the other hand when men give themselves to will-wor∣ship: the one sort neglects the Commandments of God, the other addeth the commandments of men to the Commandments of God, which is that 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 that Epiphanius speaketh of, a superfluous will-worship: of which there is too palpable an ex∣ample and practise in this Kingdom at this time, in the observation of dayes. No Church or Kingdome on Page  31 earth, hath greater reason to take heed to it, then the Church and Kingdome of England. 1. Because the house and service of God, hath been pestered, beside a multitude of superstitious observations and Ceremo∣nies, with a greater number of dayes, then the Church of the Jews had in the time of their Ceremoniall wor∣ship. 2. Because the Christian Sabbath or Lords day hath been profaned, and what hath been added to other dayes, hath been added with derogation to the Lords day: They have forsaken the fountain of living waters, and have digged unto themselves cisterns which hold no water. 3. Because God hath called this Land to mourning and fasting, as we professe this day, and I pray God that the unseasonable keeping of this festi∣vitie, which God hath not commanded, be not more prevalent for evil, then the humiliation of this day for good; and yet the keeping of this day of humiliation in such a time of festivitie, is a presage that by the bles∣sing of God upon the proceedings of the Honourable Houses of Parliament and Assembly, this superstition shall shortly expire, and that it is now at the last gaspe.

Secondly,* It may teach us what reason the Lord of heaven hath to be angry when his Commandment is not obeyed in his own house. Kings will be obeyed in their kingdoms: Majors & Magistrates in their Cities, every man in his own house: The Church of God is the Kingdom, the City, the House of God, which we must either deny, or resolve to have his will done.

There is yet a third point to be considered:* the con∣junction of these two, or the inference, of the effect from the cause: For why should there be wrath, &c. It is expres∣sed in an interrogatory way to shew the necessitie of Page  32 the consequence; and that the wrath is certain and in∣evitable, unlesse what is commanded be done: and to shew the foolishnesse and wickednesse of man in bring∣ing upon himself this wrath which by his obedience he might prevent, like unto that in the Prophet: Why will ye die O house of Israel. The prudent man foreseeth the evil and hideth himself:*but the simple passe on and are punish∣ed. Whence we learn, that it is a speciall wisdom in these that have place and power, to prevent or turn away the wrath of God from the present and future ge∣neration by establishing true Religion, and ordering the house of God aright. I confesse it is a higher point of wisdom to have a care of Religion, that thereby our¦selves and others may be brought to spirituall and eter∣nall happinesse, and thereby to prevent everlasting wrath: yet even in relation to the blessings and mise∣ries of this present life, this kind of piety is the best policy. I will honour them that honour me, saith the Lord, and those that despise me shall be lightly esteemed. Men may expect honour by dishonouring of God, and de∣spising of Religion, but the Word of the Lord abideth sure, and their honour shall be turned into shame. More particularly to this purpose and text, the Prophet Haggai speaketh.* A heavie judgement was upon the people for the neglect of the worship and service of God: Why saith the Lord of hosts? because of mine House that is waste, and ye run every man into his own house; Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit, like unto that in Deut.*The heaven that is over thy head shall be brasse, and the earth that is under thy feet shall be iron. But afterward he speaks comfortably:*The glory of this latter house shall be greater Page  33 then of the former, saith the Lord of Hosts: And in this place will I give peace saith the Lord of Hosts. And again,*consi∣der now from this day and upward, from the foure and twen∣day of the ninth moneth, even from the day that the founda∣tion of the Lords Temple was laid, consider it: From this day will I blesse you. Jehosophot and Hezekiah are two Wit∣nesses of this truth. The Lord was with Jehosophat, because he walked in the first wayes of his father David, and sought not to Balaam, but sought to the Lord God of his father, & walked in his Commandements, and not after the doings of Israel; therefore the Lord established the Kingdome in his hand, and all Judah brought〈◊〉 Jehosophat presents, & he had riches and honour in abundance, &c.*Hezekiah tea∣cheth the Levits themselves this Lesson; that for tres∣passes of this kind the wrath of the Lord was upon Judah & Jerusalem, & he had delivered them to trouble, to astonish∣ment and to hissing.* There be as many pregnant examples of this truth in the book of God as of any other; but he who desireth a full Commentary or Sermon upon this point of the Text, let him read the 2 Chap. of the book of the Judges,* and he shall see the ebbing and flowing of prosperity, peace and safety, according to the course of Religion. The reason of it is; because where true Religi∣on hath not place, there is nothing but prophanenes, un∣cleannesse, excesse, oppression, violence, deceit and fals∣hood. The lawes of men may doe some hurt for repres∣sing outrages, but how shall the floods be dried up un∣lesse the fountaines be obstructed? There is great diffe∣rence betwixt outward restraint from man, and in∣ward mortification from God: Where Religion taketh place, men neither dare nor will commit sinne; and doth not the wrath of God for these things come upon the Children of disobedience? Men need not in searching Page  34 out the periods and fatalities of Kingdomes and States, trouble themselves with the intricat numbers of Plato, Predictions of Astrologers or particular Prophesies, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, impiety, iniquity, luxury, which must needs have place where true Religion hath nor place, & are causes for which the Lord bringeth alterations upon Kingdomes.

*By this we may easily discern who are Malignants and Enemies to the peace and prosperity of the Kingdome; Religion is the touchstone: Such as are mockers of the Reformation of Religion and of their owne lives, have brought on and hold on this heavy wrath; but they who desire & endeavour the Reformation & setling of Reli∣gion are in the right way to bring honor and happinesse upon the Kingdome of the King and his Sonnes.

*It is a damnable and cursed policy, by dispencing with any thing which God hath commanded to be done for his house, to seek after peace and deliverance. It was the po∣licy of Jeroboam, & it turned to his ruine. It was the po∣licy of the Jewes, and it brought their City and Nation to desolation. In this thou walkest contrary to God, and therefore God will walk contrary to thee. Thou thinkst to turn away wrath by the neglect of Religion & of the house of God; but God hath said, that wrath shall be up∣on the Kingdome, unlesse what he hath commanded be done for his house. Art thou wiser then he? or art thou stronger then he? will thou against the will of God, a∣gainst he experience of all ages, against thy owne con∣science, run in a way contrary to Gods way? Salvation shall come to the people of God, and his house shall be built; but thou & thy house which thou makest an Idoll and preferrest to the house of God, shall certainly pe∣rish; God will not he mocked.

Page  35I must therefore take the boldnesse according to the charge and trust committed unto me at this time,* in the name of God to exhort, & in the bowels of Jesus Christ to intreat, that the house of God be diligently looked unto, and that first of all, Religion be reformed and set∣led. No man must be of Gallio's temper,* to care for none of those things, as if they were but light matters in com∣parison of civill and secular affaires, or as if they were impertinent for him. Nothing in the world that doth concern thine owne private, or the state and publike, is of so great weight & importance, nothing so pressing & pertinent as this of Religion. No man must be of Gama∣liels temper; he was a grave, learned, and peaceable man, of great esteem amongst the people; yet his counsell was crafty, corrupt & unchristian; somewhat in it was good; he aimed at peace, he laid this ground, that the work was either of God or of man; and what was of man would come to nought, and what was of God could not be over∣throwne: But in this, very corrupt, that he would have us to judge of Religion by particular events, and that we should do nothing for the advancement of a good cause, but leave it to the providence of God. His arguments were fitted to his purpose, but true Religion is neither a matter of fancy, as was that of Theudas, nor of sedition, as was that of Judas of Galile, and therefore all men ought to bend themselves to the setling thereof by all good and lawfull means, Nor must yee in this work linger or delay upon any consent or concurrence what∣soever: It is true, where matters are darke or doubtfull, yee should seek for light and resolution, and yee have to that end a learned and godly Assembly, but where mat∣ters are clear & manifest, if yee lye still waiting for the consent of others, yee are like to lose both the opportu∣nity Page  36 and the thing it selfe, as many have done, and rep••¦ted themselves too late. There be some things wh•••¦in we are subject to God alone, and in thi•• of this kind, we are not to wait for counsell or c••∣sent from others. It was the saying of Dioclesian,〈◊〉 a good and wise Emperour is often-sold by his Cou∣ers, who have a guard about his eares, and traduce go••¦men forevill and commend evill men for good. As Ba••∣am dealt not faithfully with God, so the messengers 〈◊〉 unto him did deale unfaithfully with King Balaa. It also true, that as at Rome, so in other places patres 〈◊〉 scripti, are sometimes patres circumscripti. Nor must feare opposition or enmity, and thereby trouble to 〈◊〉 State while Yee are seeking after Reformation. Wh••Cassander one of the successors of Alexander was p••∣swading them to receive Alexander to be worshipped ¦mongst their Gods; and that if they refused, he would ••¦nounce war against them; Demades their Orator to them, that it was to be feared while they were hold the heavens, they should lose the earth. But I change 〈◊〉 words with Peter Martyr, that it is to be feared ne 〈◊〉 Rempublicam terrenam curatis & defenditis nimium, 〈◊〉 lum amittatis, while Yee stand for the State, that Y•• lose Religion. If Zerubabell, Ezra or Nehemiah had d¦layed the building of the house of God, upon the oppo∣sition of enemies, or because there was Lyons and For in the way, the worship of God had never bin set up, 〈◊〉 Religion reformed; but the builders with one of the•• hands wrought in the worke, & in the other hand held weapon. In this posture I leave you, till the house of th Lord be built amongst you, & your swords be turned in¦to plough-shares, and your speares into pruning-hook that is, till truth & peace be established in your borders. The Zeale of the Lord of Hosts will performe it: To him be praise for ever, Amen.