THE MILITANT CHVRCH, TRIUMPHANT OVER THE DRAGON AND HIS ANGELS.
REV. 12.11.And they over-came him by the blood of the Lambe, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
THEY who study the Provi∣dence of God, about his people, will finde all his dispensations to∣wards them full of Wisdome and Love. If being provoked by their sinnes, he let loose Oppres∣sours amongst them, withall he provides Saviours for them; even when they feele Page 2 a smarting rod, they may see it in the hand of an in∣dulgent Father; so sweetely is he pleased to inter∣mingle refreshings with troubles, and to put some Su∣gar into their bitterest potions. Thus kindly dealt he with his Ancient People, stirring up Ezekiel and Da∣niel, whom he sent captives with them, to be their comforters in that darke captivity: and thus tenderly dealt he with the Christian Churches, when John and they were under persecution, revealing such rich secrets unto them by him, as might strongly support them, and all suffering Saints, under the most bloody troubles that should succeed.
This is the very tenour of this Propheticall Histo∣ry, and Historicall Prophesie, the Revelation of Christ to John:* intending doubtlesse by him to send unto the conflicting Churches, such a standing and Sove∣raigne cordiall as might cheere them, when they were at the lowest, with hope of triumphing over their most potent adversaries. And is it not pity, a∣ny Christians should have this cordiall with-held from them, for whom it was by God himselfe pro∣vided? If Christ say, Rev. 1.3. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that heare the words of this Prophesie; why should any under pretence of difficulty, fond∣ly imitate and exceed the superstition of the Jewes, who permitted none to reade the beginning of Genesis,*Canticles, the beginning and end of Ezekiel, before thirty yeares of age; but, ours, the Booke of the Re∣velation publickely scarse at all? Admit it be true, that in this Booke, Quot verba, tot sacramenta, as many mysteries as words; this may awaken study,Page 3 and quicken prayer, but not take off our inquiry into these secrets intended for us. But though Prophesies may be aenig∣mata, riddles to others before they be fulfilled; wee have the advantage of many events and accomplishments to be our Interpreters. Yea, we have reason to hope, most of the bitter passages concerning the Churches of Christ, are already fulfilled; that there is much Sugar at the bottome reserved for these last ages, which may animate us to seeke (with all humble sobriety) a revelation of the Revelati∣on.
And that which may embolden us to looke for more glorious victories hereafter, we finde in this 12▪ Chapter of the Revelation, even the infant Primitive Church be∣comming triumphant, when opposed by the fiercest of those heathenish Emperours.
In the six first Verses, Gods dealings with the old Is∣raelites, and with the Primitive Christians seeme to run parallel. They for a time were in the Egyptian bondage under Pharaoh, who sought to devoure them. At last, Gods mighty hand brought them out into the wildernesse, where though unsetled for a while, yet he preserved and fed them graciously, and at the last brought them into Canaan.
Thus did the Lord dispense himselfe towards his Church, who is represented v. 1. as a Woman clothed with the Sunne.*Chr•sts spouse is made glorious by his beames, who is the Sunne of Righteousnesse.* This Woman is travailing with Christ mysticall, under sharpe throwes and pangs of perse∣cutions, for three hundred yeares together, v. 2. and all this while the red Dragon, like a bloody Pharaoh, stood •e∣fore the Woman which was ready to be delivered,•or to devoure her childe as scone as it was bo•ne, v. 3. & 4. Yet she brought forth a Man Childe, v. 5. a Masculine birth, vigorous Christians; who in Constantines time were caught up to God, and to his Throne, were advanced to beare much sway.
Page 4Yet when the Church was set at liberty from the op∣pression of the Heathen, she fled into the Wildernesse, v. 6. where she had a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and threescore dayes, Pro∣pheticall dayes, (i. e.) so many yeares. It pleaseth God to keepe us in the darke for the punctuall beginning of these dayes,* as he did his people about the beginning of the Babylonish captivity. It was easily knowne it should con∣tinue but 70. yeares, yet there being three steps of it, one in the dayes of Jehoiakim, a second in the dayes of Jecho∣nias, a third under Zedekiah, it was very hard, without speciall direction, where to fasten that beginning, which should terminate the 70. yeares. We may be confident the Christian Church shall be in the Wildernesse but one thousand two hundred and threescore yeares: and had we so much divine Wisdome, as to know exactly where to beginne to reckon them, wee might speake more than conjecturally of the time of the Churches deliverance.
In the five following verses you have a more full ampli∣fication of this story from severall passages and circum∣stances.
[ 1] First, The Wars betwixt Michael and the Dragon; Christ and the Devill; and their Angels on both sides, v. 7.
[ 2] Secondly, The issue; The Dragon and his Angels pre∣vailed not; but was cast out, and his Angels with him, v. 8, 9. The Devill was cast downe from that open rule, he had under Heathen Emperours.
[ 3] Thirdly, The Churches acknowledgement of her successe, v. 10.
[ 4] Fourthly, The meanes by which the Devill and his party were conquered, v. 11.
- 1. Principall, by the blood of the Lambe.
- 2. Organicall, which is twofold.
Here you have first, not onely Christ himselfe overcom∣ming, but also his Angels▪ as he engages his people in the [ 1] conflict, so he allowes them to share in the honour of the victory, They overcame. Yet secondly, so as Christ is [ 2] chiefely acknowledged: The Crown is first set upon the Captaines head, their overcomming was by the blood of the Lambe. Thirdly, Something his Souldiers contribute: [ 3] though the Devils Angels may carry on their designes by lyes, equivocations, reservations for a time; yet in conclu∣sion, [ 4] are conquered by the word of their Testimony, and that especially when it is held forth, by a zealous selfe-de∣niall; And they loved not their lives unto death.
These foure Generals, as they lie in the words, will afford us foure naturall Observations, flowing from them.
In the Warre betwixt Michael and the Dragon, and their [object 1] Angels, though the true Church be Militant for a time, yet it proves victorious and triumphant.
In the field of the Church behold two potent Armies, un∣der two Generals, Michael and the Dragon▪ Michael, Quis sicut Deus? Christ Jesus that great and powerfull Captaine of the Hoast of God, Head of the Angels and his Church: The Dragon, who hath many blacke names, su∣table unto his nature, v. 9. A great Dragon, for his terri∣ble fiercenesse; an old Serpent, growne experimentally subtle; the Devill, being an accuser of the Brethren before God day and night; Satan, an implacable adversary to the Saints, a Seducer; it is his trade to be mis-leading Soules.
Both Generals have their party. Christ hath his Angels, ministring Spirits, and Christian Princes, Magistrates, Con∣fessours,Page 6 with troopes of Saints. The Devill hath his An∣gels; unrighteous Magistrates, exasperated by Heretiques and corrupt Teachers, and strengthened by other wicked instruments. Betwixt these 〈◊〉 parties there will be irre∣co•ciliable warres;* for albeit the personal sufferings of Christ are ended, yet the warfare of his body, of his Subjects will continue.* God hath appointed them thereunto, 1 Thess. 3.3. And upon these termes, Christ proposeth glorious rewards in the closure of all the Epistles written to the se∣ven Churches:〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, to him that is over-comming will I give, not to him who hath fully overcome; imply∣ing the Churches must be militant: but however though their conflict be troublesome, yet their victory will be glo∣rious and certaine, Rev. 3.21. To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my Throne, even as I also overcame, a•d am sate downe with my Father in his Throne. The Romish Babel, the Master-piece of carnall policy, built and under∣propped with all possible care; and is indeed the greatest mountaine raised against Michael, and his Kingdome; yet how tri•mphantly did the Angell speake concerning its ruine long agoe,*Rev. 18.2. He cryed mightily with a strong voyce, saying, Babylon the great is falne, is falne? the ingemi∣nation and present tense, inferre an undoubted certainety of its falling.
[reason 1] The cause of the true Church is a prevailing cause, and therefore doubtlesse the Church will be triumphant.* What is the Churches cause, but the advancement of the King∣dome of Christ, which was the great designe of the three glorious Persons in Trinity from eternity, wherein they will not suffer themselves to be disappointed! Upon this divine Project, the Attributes of God, the Offices of Christ, the Influences of the holy Spirit, lay out themselves. All o∣ther things stand or fall with subserviency hereunto. In reference to this the Lord appointed Watchmen, that might Page 7 give him no rest, till Jerusalem was made a praise in the earth Isa. 62.6, 7. This is clearely revealed twice in the Booke of Daniel; first to Nebuchadnezzar, in a glorious image of foure metals, Dan. 2. signifying the foure great Monarchies succeeding one another; who also saw a stone cut out with∣out hands, v. 34. which smote the image, and became a great Mountaine, and filled the whole earth, v. 35. This Reg∣num lapidis became Regnum montis, which alone shall never be destroyed, v. 44. And to Daniel himselfe in a vision of foure diverse beasts, importing likewise the succession of foure Kingdomes, all swallowed up in the everlasting do∣minion of Christ, Dan. 7.13, 14.
The name of the Almighty Jehovah, is so much interest∣ed [reason 2] in the cause of the true Church,* that he will carry it on in a triumphing way. Having given himselfe to his Church in Covenant, Jer. 31.33. I will be their God, and they shall be my People; what God is, and what God can doe, stands engaged for their good. Feare not,*for thy Maker is thy Hus∣band, the Lord of Hoasts is his Name. He is pleased to make himselfe his Churches debter, by his promise, Isa. 60.•5. Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, I will make thee an eternall excellency, the joy of many generations. Possibly the wisest Parliament, and most potent Army may be re∣duced unto a non-plus, and cannot visibly carry on the cause and Kingdome of Christ, yet the worke will not miscarry; The zeale of the Lord of Hoasts will performe this, Isa. 9.7.
The true Churches Adversaries are the worst of Angels and men; and so the more obnoxious to destruction.* The [reason 3] worse men, the better adversaries to fight against, Job 27.7 Let my enemy be as the wicked, and he that riseth up against me, as the unrighteous. The more by their wickednesse they fight against God, the more they provoke him to fight a∣gainst them; and admit the Church hath a great party a∣gainst Page 8 her, if they be the sinning side, they are the sinking side, 1 Sam. 12.25. The Church was the more victorious against Babylon, because Babylon was so sinfull against God, Rev. 14.8. Babylon is falne, is falne, that great City, because she made all Nations drinke of the wine of the wrath of her for∣nication.
*Shall the Militant Church be Triumphant over the Dra∣gon and his Angels? Then Christs Souldiers have no rea∣son to repent, who have given up their Names unto him, and taken presse money from him: His side will be the pre∣vailing side; and who doth not adore the rising Sunne? •is people may suffer, but when the Lord hath performed his worke upon Mount Zion, and on Jerusalem, I will pu∣nish the fruit of the stout heart of the King of Assyria, and the glory of his high lookes, Isa. 10.12. When God hath wrought for his people the good which he intended, he is wont to cast the rod into the fire. He knowes how to make his people more then Conquerours, even when they are conquered by their enemies,*Rom. 8.37. The Lord hath a Soveraignty as well in the lusts and passions of his adver∣saries, as in the graces of his people, Psal. 76.10. Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee, the remainder thereof shalt thou restraine.* By his providence the enemies plots doe prove the Churches advantages. The most glorious deli∣verance and reformation have beene the happy event of most wretched designes. As there was a blessed transacti∣on in Heaven betweene the Father and the Sonne for the salvation of the Elect, Joh. 6.39. so is it expressely conclu∣ded betwixt them for the confusion of the Churches ene∣mies, Psal. 110 1. The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, untill I make thine enemies thy foote-stoole. Christ is not alone in these Warres: the Father is with him, engaging himselfe against the enemies of his Sonne: and will make the highest of them much lower then Page 9 the meanest of his faithfull Souldiers.
Beware then of deserting Christ and his Church by dull [Ʋse 2] neutrality or wilfull apostacy:* you cannot be guilty of either against him, without betraying your selves. He accounts neuters his enemies, Matth. 12.30.* He that is not with me is against me: they are cursed bitterly who come not out to helpe the Lord against the mighty. Our policy cannot pro∣tect us, if we desert the cause of God and his people▪ our sins will finde us out, as Moses told the Reubenites and the Gadites upon the like occasion, Numb. 32.20, 21, 22, 23. And as for Apostates from him and his cause, they are no lesse o∣dious unto him▪ witnesse Heb. 10.38, 39. If any man draw backe, my soule shall have no pleasure in him. It is our deare Saviours employment in Heaven, as to appeare in the pre∣sence of God for his friends, Heb. 9.24. so to sit downe at the right-hand of God, from hence-forth expecting till his e∣nemies •e made his footestoole, Heb. 10.12, 13. He hath now no sacrifice to offer: he is there above suffering, being en∣tred into the fellowship and fruition of the glory of his Godhead, to exercise his power and authority for the good of his Church, and overthrow of his enemies. He sees their day is comming,*Psal. 37.13. when he shall have content∣ment and comfort in his enemies ruine, triumphantly tram∣pling upon them who shall everlastingly inherit the shame of their owne sinnes, and lie under the pressure of his just displeasure.
Be encouraged in these shedding and discriminating [Ʋse 3] times, to take part with the true Church,* and to adhere firm∣ly to Jesus Christ and his Angels. Looke about you, as in Joshuah 5.13. may you not see Jesus Christ comming down from Heaven, with his sword drawn in his hand? Go to him with Joshua's question, Art thou for us, or for our ad∣versaries? Will not his answer be; Nay, but as a Captaine of the Hoast of the Lord am I now come? Then you must be sure Page 10 to be of the Lords hoast, or else he is not for you, but for your adversaries.
*Take therefore Pauls seasonable counsell, 1 Tim. 6.12. fight the good fight of faith. Such have the best cause; It is [ 1] Gods. Such fight the Lords battels, 1 Sam. 25.28. The best [ 2] Captaine, Jesus Christ the Captaine of their salvation, Heb. [ 3] 2.10. The best fellow-souldiers, Stephen, Paul, and the rest [ 4] of that holy band; with certainty of victory, 2 Tim. 4.8. Henceforth there is laied up for me a crowne of righteousnesse, which the Lord the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me onely, but to them also that love his appea∣ring. This is more then the greatest Champions of the world can promise themselves.
*But may not Christs souldiers be foiled?
[ 1] Yes: so were the Israelites, when they fought against Benjamin, Judg. 20. yet was the cause holy and good. But what with their over-confidence in the goodnesse of their cause, and greatnesse of their numbers, and want of humili∣ation [ 2] before God, they were twice discomfited. Againe, con∣sider the Cause may prevaile, when the persons miscarry; and grow great out of the ruines of such as suffered for it. Suppose that discouraging question, Whether the witnes∣ses be already slaine,* cannot so comfortably be answered, by a peremptory affirmative: Yet, however; better be one of the witnesses, though dying; then one of the kil∣lers of them, though triumphing. There will be a speedy resurrection of them and the cause, Revel. 11.11. But re∣member to allow the Lord his Prerogative, to carry on his Churches cause in his owne method, and in his owne time. See Deut. 32.35, 36. His enemies feete shall slide in due time though his peoples power be gone.
By the bloud of the Lamb.
[observation 2] The Militant Churches victories over the Devill and his Angels, are obtained by the bloud of the Lambe Jesus Christ.
Page 11This is clearely held forth in that mother fundamentall promise which was most graciously intimated to fallen Adam, even before the sentence passed upon him, Gen. 3.15. The Womans seed shall breake the Serpents head. Of this Daniel had comfortable experience when Michael hel∣ped him, Dan. 10.13.21. which is further confirmed, Rev. 17.14. These shall make warre with the Lamb, and the Lamb shall overcome them, for he is Lord of Lords, and King of Kings.*
First, by the bloud of the Lamb divine justice is satisfied, God appeased, Rom. 3.25. and the Church reconciled to him, 2 Cor. 5.19. Her sinnes being done away which be∣tray her to her enemies, she becomes victorious, sharing [reason 1] in the triumph of Christ over the Devill and his Angels,*Gol. 2.12, 13.
Secondly, by the bloud of the Lamb we obtaine that [reason 2] grace, which enables us prevailingly to resist the Devil and his Angels. For no peeces of the spirituall armour will be armour of proofe, unlesse they be dipped in the bloud of Christ, Rev. 7.14. And how was Paul enabled to doe all things, but by the might of Christ that strengthned him? Phil. 4.13. Whose bloud hath an eternall efficacie, Rev. 13.8.
The Churches victories are therefore ascribed to the [reason 3] bloud of the Lamb, because the Oeconomicall Kingdome which Christ hath over his Church is a Priestly Kingdome, which he possesses as the fruit of his bloudy sufferings. For though he were prepared and made capable of his Kingly glory by the hypostaticall union, yet the holy Scrip∣tures invest him with it,* as the reward of his sufferings and humiliation. He humbled himselfe, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the crosse; Wherefore God al∣so hath highly exalted him, and given him a Name which is above every name, That, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, in the Name of Jesus, (not, at the Name Jesus) every knee should bow. And his Church likewise being a royall Priesthood, 1 Pet. 2.9. Page 12 conquers through the bloud of her King.
[use 1] If the Churches victories are obtained by the bloud of the Lamb;* Then, why should not we debase our selves this day before God, for all our vaine confiding in crea∣tures, or magnifying them upon any good successes? Here∣by we proudly encroach upon the honour of Christ, to whose bloud we owe all our Victories. It is fit wee should humble our selves, when God hath humbled us, Eccles. 7.14. In the day of adversity consider. We must blesse God for good Instruments, but may not admire them to the dispa∣ragement of the principall cause.
*Though ignorant wretches did sacrifice unto their owne net, and burne Incense to their dragge; this is most unwor∣thy of Christians, who should live by faith in Christ, Gal. 2.20. not onely pray in faith, but worke, fight by faith, expecting all from Christ, and resolving all into Christ.
*Improve the hand of God, (which occasioned this ex∣traordinary Assembly) for the Prophet Haggai his purpose, To consider your wayes; or, (as in the Heb.) Set your heart upon your wayes, Hag. 1.5.7. Too many like Hannibal, who though victorious, knew not how uti victoriâ, and so lose themselves in their victories, not acknowledging the bloud of the Lamb therein. The Lord make us more wise for time to come. We may use meanes, but must not rest upon them; we ought to blesse God for second causes, but must not idolize them.* It was a modest strain in Joab, which might make us blush, he sent to David, that he would gather the people together, encamp against the City and take it; lest I take the City (said he) and it be called by my name. Let such as are instrumentall for the publike have all due ac∣knowledgment, but it may cost us yet much dearer, if we baptize any with the name of Conqueror, but onely Jesus, Isa. 9.6. The government is upon his shoulder, his Name shall be called Wonderfull. Him we may admire to eternity.
Page 13Oh then take heed of abusing the precious bloud of this [use 2] Lambe by your sinnes,* lest he prove to you a devouring Lion. This Lambe hath wrath when he is provoked, and who shall be able to stand in the day of his wrath? Rev. 6.17. Especially beware of sinning directly against the blood of Christ.* Thats a dreadfull thunderbolt against many Pro∣fessours, when they count the blood of the Covenant, where∣with they were sanctified, an unholy thing, Heb. 10.29. Though they have not internall sanctification, by renovati∣on of nature, and inhabitation of the Spirit of grace; yet they have an externall sanctification, by consecration and dedication to Gods Service, by calling and covenant, com∣mon to every member of a visible Church, and this by the blood of Christ: but when by their backesliding they shall disavow Christ and his Gospell, they doe interpre∣tativè, in effect say his blood hath no value in it, is no bet∣ter than the blood of a common malefactour, and so make themselves obnoxious to the sorest punishments.
But there is another sinne against the blood of Christ,* very dangerous, and more epidemicall, by profaning his holy Sacrament, the memoriall of his blood, 1 Cor. 11.27, 28. The Lord knowes how deepely guilty many here present are, having their hearts and hands imbrued in the blood of their Saviour. Rivers of teares of blood, are too little to bewaile this one provocation. There is now a most bloody sword drawne in England; does not the Lord bring it upon us, as to avenge the quarrell of the Covenant? Lev. 26.25. So the blood of the Covenant, Heb. 10.25. Doubtlesse as God will make inquisition for the blood of his Saints, so for the blood of his Sonne,* and if now he should search England, as once Jerusalem with candles, Zeph. 1. 12. would not many of our Nobility and Gentry, Magi∣strates and Ministers, as well as common people, be found guilty of the blood of Christ? Chrysostome was very sen∣sible Page 14 of this evill: whereupon he professed, I will rather give my life than the blood of Christ to any unworthy one;*and I will rather suffer my owne blood to be shed, than give that most holy blood to any but him that is worthy. Ambrose expressed the same zeale against this sin in Theodosius. Wilt thou (faith he to the Emperour) reach these hands dropping with the blood of Innocents,*to receive the most sacred body of the Lord? wilt thou put that precious blood of his to thy mouth, which in a rage spilt so much Christian blood? depart rather and heape not one sinne to another. But alas! how great is our Ministers misery?* we lye under a kinde of necessity of suffering this evill among our people. Our straights are most uncom∣fortable.
[ 1] First, The Lawes and constitutions of England, require the body of England to come to this Sacrament after sixteen yeares of age; That they may prove themselves no Papists, they must communicate.
[ 2] Secondly, The Scripture denounceth judgment against them if they eate and drinke unworthily, 1 Cor. 11.29.
[ 3] Thirdly, Yet Pastours and Churches want that power of the Keyes, whereby they might doe their duty therein.
All you who love and follow the Lambe, helpe Eng∣land by your Prayers, that all old leaven may be purged out, 1 Cor. 5.7. Ye Members of the Assembly contribute your Counsell with Jehojada, 2 Chron. 23.19. that such Porters (such Church Discipline) may be set at the Gates, that the uncleane enter not in. And improve your power, ye Parliament Worthies, for setting up such spirituall railes in our Churches, such a due order, that Scripture dogges be not suffered, to the hazzarding of their owne soules, and the dishonour of their Saviour, to rush upon these holy things.
*The third Use is, of Exhortation, in two Branches.
[branch 1] First, If all the Churches victories be obtained by the Page 15 blood of the Lambe, then as you desire to prevaile, make peace with Christ. How can we in England expect Hee should fight for us, if we fight against him▪ It is wise counsell, Psal. 2.11. for Kings, for Judges, for all, Kisse the Sonne lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little: not with a treacherous kisse as Judas, but with a kisse of loving loyalty of humble subjecti∣on, of peaceable reconciliation. That Question is frequent a∣mong us, which J•ram proposed to Jehu, 2 Kings 9.22. Is it peace? may not we returne the same answer, What peace so long as whoredomes remaine, and many other abo∣minations? Jehojada tooke a right method to peace and quietnesse, 2 King. 18.104.22.168.* And Jehojada made a Covenant betweene the Lord and the King, and the people, that they should be the Lords people: betweene the King also and the people. And all the people of the Land went into the house of Baal, and brake it downe, his Altars and his Images brake they in pieces thorowly, and slew Mattan the Priest of Baal, before the Altars; And the Priest appointed Officers o∣ver the House of the Lord. This very place was not long since the valley of Berachah, 2 Chron. 20.26. here solemne praises for the discovery of most destructive plots. It may now be called a Bochim, as Judg. 2.5. (oh that there were more teares among us!) we should all appeare before God this day as mourners in sense of his displeasure. If wee would have it a day of atonement; as Levit. 23.28. a peace∣making day both betweene King and People, and betweene Christ and England, let it be a thorow-reforming day, as v. 18. They brake all Baals altars and images in pieces tho∣rowly. Let every one say, What have I to doe any more with my Idols? Let it be a day of serious protestation a∣gainst our sins, and renouncing all those weapons, where∣by we have fought against Jesus Christ, then may all the people hope to rejoyce in quietnesse, v. 20.
Page 16 [branch 2] Then if you desire to be victorious▪ appeale from second causes unto Jesus Christ, and the merit of his blood. In all our straights, let us speake Jehoshaphats language, 2 Chron. 20.12. We know not what to doe, but our eyes are upon thee.* It is the observation of a Politician, England is a migh∣ty animall, which can never dye except it kill it selfe. Among our other crying sinnes we are now involving our selves in the guilt of Selfe-murther. Here is an unnaturall sword most unhappily drawne amongst us,* as Isa. 9.19, 20, 21. Through the wrath of the Lord of Hoasts is the Land darkned, and the people shall be as the fuell of the fire, no man shall spare his brother. He shall snatch on the right hand and be hungry, and he shall eate on the left hand and not be satisfied, they shall eate every man the flesh of his owne arme. Manasseh Ephraim, and Ephraim Manasseh, and both against Judah. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
Fighting or treating can not yet end the controversie, we have importuned the sword to be quiet, as Jer. 47.6. O thou sword of the Lord, how long will it be ere thou be quiet? put up thy selfe into thy scabbard▪ rest, and be still: and as yet England hath received the same answer with Ashkelon, v.. 7. How can it be quiet, seeing the Lord hath given it a charge against Ashkelon, and against the Sea shore? There hath he ap∣pointed it. The Lord hath given it Commission to ride circuite in severall Counties of England; and who knowes how long?* what now remaines? we reade Mark. 5.25. of a certaine Woman which had an issue of blood twelve yeares, and v. 26. had suffered many things of many Phy∣sitians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse: could never be healed, till she touched Christ. We are this day in a solemne man∣ner drawing nigh unto Christ. O that our bloody issue might drive us to improve the blood of the Lambe! Could we fidu∣cially put our selves, our Church and State, our Religi∣on Page 17 and Liberty, into the hands of our Saviour, who knows but we might have as comfortable an answer, as this wo∣man had, v. 34. Thy faith hath made thee whole, goe in peace and be whole of thy plague. The good Lord vouch∣safe an Amen.
Christs Souldiers carry on the Churches victories, against the [observation 3] Devill and his Angels, by the word of their Testimony, by the Gospel of Christ.
If you desire to know what is This word of their Testimo∣ny, it will appeare v. 17. Christs Souldiers are described to be such as kept the Commandements of God, and have the Testimony of Jesus; and Rev. 1.9. John was banished for the Word of God, and for the Testimony of Jesus Christ,* which doubtlesse was the Gospell; And this, not as written in your Bibles onely, and comprized in your Bookes.
But having this Gospell of Christ rooted in your hearts by Faith, holding fast the profession thereof without wa∣vering, Heb. 10.23. Resist the Devill,* being stedfast in the Faith, 1 Pet. 5.9. whereas Heb. 4.2. The Word Preach∣ed did not profit them, not being mixed with Faith in them that heard it. The Gospell will not joyne with corrupt opini∣ons, but with Faith: it will be received not as a con∣jecture or possible truth, but for a Divine or infallible truth, then it profiteth and strengthneth.
Bearing witnesse to the Gospell of Christ, who is the Amen, the faithfull and true witnesse, Rev. 3.14.*Openly with your mouthes, Rom. 10.10. by Preaching, if Ministers; So Paul, Rom. 1.16. He was not ashamed of the Gospell of Christ; and by confession, which concernes all Chri∣stians when called to it for the glory of God, and edifi∣cation of the Brethren, 1 Pet. 3.15. Be ready to give an an∣swer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in Page 18 you. Be ready 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, be ready to make an Apology for thy Religion.
*Justifying the Gospell in life and conversation. All wise∣domes children should be so ingenuous and mannerly as to justifie Wisdome, Mat. 11.19. This will be a prevailing Testimony when you walke worthy of the Gospell of Christ. Expresse the Gospell-graces in an active Gospell-conversation.
*Commending the Gospel by your patient and cheerefull suffering for it. It is a great confirmation of the truth, and puls honour upon it, when Christians will rather suffer for the Gospell, than the Gospell should suffer by them. Our losses in this case will be the Gospels advantage, Phil. 1.12, 13, 14. All things which happened unto Paul, were for the furtherance of the Gospell; by his bonds others waxed confident.
Such a good Souldier was Timothy, who, 1 Tim. 6.12. witnessed a good confession before many Witnesses; having learned this prevailing method from his Captaine Jesus Christ, who, v. 13. before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession.
It clearely appeares how the Churches victories are car∣ryed on by the Testimony of the Gospell.
[reason 1] The strength of the Gospels adversaries lies not in the goodnesse of their cause; but in the ignorance of peoples minds and meere mistakes thence arising:* What is Paganisme, Mahumetanisme, Popery; but a Rapsody and heape of grosse mistakes raised in the darke? The Devill uses the same method ordinarily to carry on his designes that he tooke in the Councell of Ariminum. The Arrians having procured the exile of the most worthy and learned Bishops,*and perceiving the company that was left, though they were very unlearned, yet would not be perswaded directly to disanull any thing which had beene concluded before in the Councell of Nice, Page 19did abuse their ignorance in proposing the matter: for they de∣manded of them whether they would worship 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 or Christ? these not understanding the Greeke word, rejected it with exe∣cration, being as they thought opposed unto Christ. Thus have the Prelaticall party surprised many ignorant Congre∣gations with their innovations, and easily misled them while they kept them in the darke. But when the Sunne of righteousnesse arises, when God sends abroad John Baptists as burning and shining lights, John 5.35. they by the beames of truth will discover the most subtile errors, and by the spirituall weapons of their warfare cast downe the strong holds of the Devill and his Angels.*
Where the Testimony of the Gospel of Christ is held [reason 2] forth, there is so much of God as convinces and conquers, 1 Cor. 14.15. His owne power is there displayed, Rom. 1.16. the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation. There is the mighty presence of Christ, whose Arrowes are sharpe in the hearts of his enemies, wherby the people fall under him, Psal. 45.5. There the Spirit of God breaths so powerfully, that by the Word alone, which is the sword of the Spirit, Ephes. 6.17. the Apostles, though but a few meane men, were much more victorious then the greatest Alexander or potent Caesars, conquering by the word of their Testi∣mony so many opposite Kingdomes, subduing so many thousand spirits and consciences, and that in so short a time, without shedding one drop of bloud.
Indeed when we are to deale with Papists and sonnes of violence, which illegally invade our persons, Religion, Liberty, and endeavour to take away our birthright from us, the very Law of nature teacheth us to defend our selves against such injustice; But for the overcomming of Popery, we need not other weapons to consume it, but the spirit of Christs mouth, 2 Thes. 2.8. It is the word of their Testimony, by which Christs souldiers prevaile against the Devill and his Angels.
Page 20 [use 1] If Christs souldiers carry on the Churches victories by the Testimony of the Gospel;* Then whose champions are they, who in stead of bearing witnesse unto, employ their power and policy to suppresse the Testimony of Je∣sus? Doubtlesse none but the Dragons regiment will fight against Christ and his Gospel. Elymas the Sorcerer is wont to withstand Saul and Barnabas,* seeking to turne away the Deputy from the faith. Men of corrupt minds, of no judge∣ment concerning the faith, resist the Truth as Jannes and Jambres did Moses;* But Paul will keepe backe nothing that is profitable for their soules, teaching them publikely, and from house to house, Acts 20.20. And also charge Ti∣mothy that he preach the Word, be instant in season and out of season, 2 Tim. 4.2. Doe the worke of an Evangelist, ful∣fill thy ministery. Oh how unlike to Paul and Timothy, are many of the Prelatical Tribe, whom yet they pretend to suc∣ceed! What successors of Paul and Timothy, by preaching a∣gainst preachings, and using their power to undermine the Testimony of the Gospel! No rather they unhappily tread in Jesuiticall steps complying with Contzens rules, whether occasionally or intentionally they best know,* for the over∣throwing of the power of the Gospel; His very engines have they used to pillage our Churches of afternoone Ser∣mons, of weekely Lectures, and to turne praying into bid∣ding of prayer, &c. and according to his subtile counsell, were extorting such an approbation of the Prelacy a∣mongst us as would soone have plundered England of many of her faithful Ministers, or at least their consciences of their sweete peace, if not of their liberties. And are too like those soule-murdering Jewes, 1 Thes. 2.16. enemies to Christ and to the salvation of others, forbidding the A∣postles to speake to the Gentiles that they might be saved. No wonder they lie under so much contempt. God makes good his owne word by Malachi, chap. 2.9. Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, Page 21 according as yee have not kept my wayes, but have beene patri∣all in my Law. They who smother the Testimony of Christ, taking away the key of knowledge, do the most dishonourable work, & must expect answerable wages here and hereafter, [use 2] Mat. 23.13. Luke 11.52.* Do the Souldiers of Christ carry on the Churches victories by holding forth the Word of their Testimony? Then if we prevail not against the Devil and his Angels in these Gospel conflicts, we may blame our selves and our own remissenes, as not being valiant for the truth, which was their defect, Jer. 9.3. We are too ready to translate the fault to others, (an old prank our first Parents taught us as soon as they had fallen.) Parliament complains of the army; Army of the Parliament, City against both, and Countrey will spare none of them. Thus most unhappily (by the secret policy of Malignants) jealousies are fomented, and multi∣plyed to the prejudice of all; our hearts and hands thereby weakned in the Churches cause. It were more like Christians upon a day of mourning, to be bewail∣ing our owne coldnesse and want of appearing as active souldiers, under so good a Captaine.
God forbid it should be verified of us, what the Lord said, Jer. 8.6. I harkned and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickednesse, saying, What have I done? Oh that you would call your selves to a particular account (it is opus diei, a worke sutable to the day) saying, How much evill have I done to enflame these warres; and how little good have I done to extinguish them? Might not some Nehemiah contend with many of our Nobles,* and say, What evill thing is this that you doe, and profane the Sabbath day? But is this all? though too much? Might not some Peter contend with many of our Gentry, who walk in lasciviousnesse, lusts, excesse of wine, revellings, banquettings,*and abominable idolatries, thinking it strange that others runne not with them to the same excesse of riot? And might not some Jeremiah complaine, A wonderfull and horrible Page 22 thing is committed in the Land, the Prophets prophesie falsely, and the Priests beare rule by their meanes,*and my people love to have it so: and what will yee doe in the end thereof?
Many blesse God heartily for that Religious Ordinance of Parliament set forth some months since, to stirre up En∣gland to repentance for nationall and personall sinnes. Did you more exemplarily commend it to us by your owne pra∣ctice it would have a more commanding influence upon us.* What though we talke against Atheists, if we still wallow in prophanenesse, cry out against Papists, and still continue lukewarme Protestants, inveigh against Malignants, and yet remain ful of Malignant Antipathy against Scripture Refor∣mation; This is not to hold forth the Testimony of the Gospel as becomes a good souldier of Christ. The Lord lead us all into our owne hearts, and teach so to judge our selves that we be not judged.
*Doe the souldiers of Christ carry on the Churches victories by the Testimony of the Gospel? As ever you de∣sire they should prevaile in so good a cause, it concernes you who are the grand Counsellors, betrusted with so much superintendency for the liberty as well of our Religi∣on, as of our persons and estates, that you emprove it faith∣fully for the advancing and propagating the Gospel of Christ, so will you be fitted to give a more comfortable ac∣count of your great Stewardship, when your Master cals for it, Luke 16.2.
*Be pleased (worthy Senatours) to accept these few hints for this purpose.
Patronize, protect, reward, preferre faithfull witnesses of Christ. If a Prophet come with a word of reproofe, though [ 1] sharpe, if seasonable; doe not therefore count him your e∣nemy, as Ahad did Elijah, 1 King. 21.20. because he dealt plainly with him: nor send him away as Amaziah did the Prophet, when he came to discover his sinnes, Art Page 23 thou made of the Kings Counsell? forbeare, 2 Chron. 25.16.
Check, restraine, disable, Diotrephes, Demetrius, and that [ 2] fraternity, who undermine not onely Parliament Ordinan∣ces, but even the Ordinances of Jesus Christ, making no small stir in England about the way of Reformation; and all maintaine their owne Diana, as Act. 19.23, 24. &c.
Have a vigilant eye upon such intemperate Preachers [ 3] and Writers as pervert truth and disturbe peace. Papists would take away the Cup, and leave us but halfe a Sacra∣ment; Antinomians would abolish the morall Law, and leave us but halfe a Bible. If such be suffered, our Religion will grow lame and licentious.
Forget not, I beseech you, forget not the purging and [ 4] pruning of the Universities, the Nurseries of piety and lear∣ning. If Satan have a seate there; if there be such that hold the doctine of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eate things sacrificed to Idols, and to commit fornication, what Papists such Tutors are like to send abroad, we have found by too much unhappy experience.
Christs souldiers first pleaded the Churches cause by the word of their Testimony, and by such Gospel weapons they promoted the victory: Then, this Testimony of Je∣sus representing unto their owne spirits, as well as unto others, the infinite excellency of the Lambe, raised their hearts to such a pitch of love to Him and to his cause, that they loved not their lives unto the death, and so grew more compleatly victorious over the Dragon and his An∣gels.
Page 24 [observation 4] In the Churches conflicts they prove victorious souldiers, who love not their lives so dearely, as they love Christ and his cause.
Two things being cleared we may the better improve this observation in the application of it to our selves.
The degrees of this love to Christ and his cause, by which they [ 1] overcame.
[ 2] The influence such love hath into the Churches victories.
*First, Victorious souldiers in the Churches conflicts, must love Christ better then their best beloved sinnes, Psal. 97.10. Yee that love the Lord, hate evill. Love is a prime radicall affection: when the heart cleaves to any good by love, it hates that evill which is most contrary to it. How will they submit their lives unto a violent death, who have not so much love unto Christ, as to make them wil∣ling to die a carnall death, to die to sinne for him? will they lose their lives, who cannot leave a lust for Christ?
*Secondly, victorious souldiers for Christ, must love him better then their most beloved worldly comforts; when he made that promise to us, Mar. 10.29, 30. There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake and the Gospels, but he shall receive an hundred fold now in this time, &c. He thereby intimated what he expects from us, even,*amare Deum usque ad contemptum mundi. We may use the world as a servant, but not grow into league with it as a friend, Jam. 4.4. Know you not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? and that is a searching place, 1 John 2.15. Love not the world, nor the things in the world: if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.* These two are inconsistent, and therefore, certainely he will never be a good souldier of Christ in whom love to any worldly excellency is predominant.*
They must deny their dearest selfe. It is hard to protest Page 25 against our bosome sinne, though grossely evill in it selfe; it is harder to renounce our alluring worldly comforts, which in themselves are lawfull; hardest to deny our selves, which nature and Religion (in a due order) teaches us to love: Yet Christ makes this a distinguishing character of his Disciples, and doubtlesse is a proper badge of his souldiers, Luke 14.26. If any man come to me,* and hate not his fa∣ther and mother, wife and children, and brethren and si∣sters, yea, and his owne life also, he cannot be my Disci∣ple; Comparatively, love them all, lesse then Christ, as appeares, Matth. 10.37.
When friends or selfe come in competition with Christ, or stand in opposition to him, in this case saith Jerome, we must Patrem calcare, &c. Here solum pietatis genus crudelem esse. We must exercise an holy cruelty to our friends and selfe. And indeed Christ hath no more true Disciples or faithfull souldiers in this Assembly, then such onely as love not their owne lives in comparison of their Saviour.
Such is the nature and working of love,* that it swayes much with the soule, like sailes to the Ship, it carries one forward even against the streame and tide. It was love that brought Christ from Heaven to the Crosse, and will draw any, where it prevailes, from a Palace to a Stake, for Christ and his cause.
Love to Christ and his cause is ingenious and full of con∣sideration how to carry on its designes for his advantage,* 1 Cor. 13.5. Love thinketh no evill; rather it studies and plots how to communicate it selfe in all good offices. The Spouses love cost her many serious thoughts how she might enjoy and serve her Beloved. Hence some persons are much more usefull to Church and State then others, because their love to Christ puts them upon the best im∣provement of their parts, honours, interests and influ∣ence for his service.
Page 26*Love to Christ and his cause, will be at any cost and charges to gratifie him, it runnes over to Christ himselfe, and towards all Saints, Phil. 6.5. It was love in Paul that made him willing to spend his strength, his spirits, his bloud for the Corinthians, 2 Cor. 12.15. I will very glad∣ly spend, and be spent for your soules: and for his Philippi∣ans, Phil. 2.17. be off•red as a sacrifice for the service of their faith. Christs love to his poore servants thinks nothing in Heaven or Earth too much or too good for them: true love to him will be reciprocall, giving up to him,*sua, suos, se, thinking all best bestowed on him.
Nothing makes a Christian so unweariedly operative as Love.* In 1 Thes. 1.3. Paul blesses God for their worke of faith, labour of love, patience of hope. True love to Christ is laborious for him: so expressely, Heb. 6.10. For God is not unrighteous to forget your worke and labour of love which yee have shewed towards his Name, in that yee have ministred to the Saints and doe minister. One cord of this love will draw more then a Yoake of Oxen, and car∣ry you with a pleasing violence from service to ser∣vice.
*Amongst many other sweete discoveries Paul makes of love in that short chapter, 1 Cor. 13. there are divers ex∣pressions to shew you how patient love is, enduring any thing for the person it loves, v. 4.7. When the heart is full of love to Christ, it makes us willing to forsake, to under∣take, to undergoe any thing for Christ and his cause. This no question made Ignatius so cheerefully to invite and meete killing sufferings, having such burning love to Christ that was crucified for him.*
Be pleased to give me leave this day in behalfe of the [Ʋse 1] Lambe, to put in a Caveat against carnall selfe-love, which so much blunts and weakens the love of Christs souldi∣ers in the Gospels Conflicts.* If you love your soules bet∣ter Page 27 then the Lambe, you will never be victorious for him. They overcame which loved not their own lives unto the death.
All men naturally love themselves,* and consequent∣ly may have some kind of selfe-seeking love to Christ, as being the chiefest good, and so congruous to their necessi∣ties. But Christians must goe further; we should love Christ for himselfe, as the primum diligibile, for his owne infinite excellencies, and then love our selves and all other things with reference unto him.
Paul was a true Prophet, 2 Tim. 3.1.* In the last dayes perilous times shall come; 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, thorny times, full of difficulty: because then such a confluence of wic∣kednesse. Eighteen severall factions he names, and the head of all those factions is selfe-love. Men shall be lovers of their owne selves, covetous, boasters, proud▪ &c. Whilst A∣dam was in innocency, the Image of God inclined him to act according unto God, seeking him and his glory in the first place. Since the fall, the Image of God being lost, Selfe is perkt up; we seeke our selves in the first, and God on∣ly in the second place. Few seek God for himselfe, out of love to him: most seeke God onely in reference to them∣selves: this is carnall selfe-love, and so indeed by seeking lose themselves, Matth. 16.25. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for my sake, shall finde it.
Much time hath beene spent in the Great Senate how to finde out and punish Delinquents.* Allow me the liberty in the Name, not onely of Church and State, but also in the Name of Christ, to impeach One Incendiary, who hath beene too long winked at. It is a Bosome Incendiary, a do∣mestick adversary which dwels within us, I meane, Car∣nall Selfe-love, the loving our owne ends and interests bet∣ter then the publike good, and better then Christ him∣selfe.
[ 1] Carnall selfe-love is the greatest underminer of Parlia∣ment proceedings. Whence so many neuters, whence so many back-friends to the Publike, but because so many sicke of Baruchs disease, Jer. 45.5. seeking great things for themselves?
[ 2] Carnall selfe-love is the most treacherous betrayer of our Military undertakings, making too many Judas-like, to sell Christ and his cause for some few peeces of silver, Mat. 26.15.
[ 3] Carnall self-love is the strongest obstruction of Scripture Re∣formation in the Church; so, many seeke their own, not the things which are Jesus Christs, Phil. 2.21. and therefore will rather hazzard the ruine of all, then suffer their own Dianaes to goe downe. By this craft we have our wealth, Acts 19.25. then Diana must be cried up, what ere become of the Gospel of Christ. Amongst all other Jonahs that endanger the Ship of Church and State, throw out carnall selfe-love, let it no longer sleepe within you, lest the storme continue and grow more tempestuous. Amongst all other Achans that bring a curse upon our undertakings, let ju∣stice, justice be executed upon your owne carnall selfe-love. Passe on sequestration to regulate that in your selves which is so great an en•my to Christ and his cause.
[use 2] As you desi•e to approve your selves victorious soul∣diers in the Chu•ches conflicts (which would put a most glorious lustre upon your Noblenesse,* and adde many Pearles to your Crownes) get hearts more enflamed with love to Christ and his cause.* How lovely is your Saviour in himselfe, in the beauty of his Person, in the glory of his graces! Cant. 5.10. the chiefest among tenne thousand. He hath beene admirably loving unto you, in discovering plots against you, and in wonder-working providences for you. Page 29 Should not the love of Christ constraine you as it did Paul, 2 Cor. 5.14. to be active and passive for him? O presse the Lord with his gratious promise, Deut. 30.6. that he would circumcise your heart, that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soule. This he expects from you, Luke 10.27. that you should love him with all your strength, give him the utmost emprovement of the whole and best-selves. We looke at you as Starres in this our Heaven. God forbid our Starres should fall, that any of them should prove Comets: let your light, motion, and influence animate others.
Doe not say your taske is so difficult, your sufferings are so sharpe that you are discouraged. Get more love to Christ, that will allay the difficulty, and facilitate the worke; you may with comfort commit the keeping of your soules to God in wel•doing, who knowes how to sweeten the bitterest troubles by his owne refreshing presence.* If God call you forth as Champions, possibly, yea probably you may have the same support which that Heroicall wo∣man found, of whom story relates, That being condem∣ned for Christ, not long before she was to suffer, fell into travaile, and having sore labour, cryed out grievously; whereupon being asked how she would endure Martyr∣dome, that was so ready to sinke under these paines, she answered to this purpose. I suffer now as a daughter of Eve, I shall suffer then as a child of God; my Father will helpe me.
Never say, because the event is uncertaine, therefore it is not best to appeare for Christ and his cause. Doe thy duty, what becomes a good Souldier, trust the Lord of Hoasts with the successe. It is true we live in trying discove∣ring times.* Who knowes but the providence of God may be now making the same discovery in England, and with the same successe, that the wisdome of Constantius ChlorusPage 30 the Romane Emperour made in his Court. He having a mind to trie the sincerity of his Courtiers, made this proposall to them. All they who would sacrifice to Daemons (the super∣stition of those times) should continue at Court, and all that refused should be cashiered. Hereupon some soone profes∣sed their readinesse to sacrifice, others publikely denyed it. Such as complyed, the wise Emperour chides sharply, ut proditores Dei, and banishes them as unworthy to re∣maine at the Emperors Court, who would betray God himselfe. He commends them who were conscientious, and would not sacrifice; pronouncing, tales solos dignos esse quos Imperator inter amicos muneraret. Such onely were worthy to be accounted the Emperours friends who were true to God and his cause.
What though for the present you should be disparaged as factious, rebels, and traytors, &c. The Lord knowes who are most loyall to their Soveraigne, and most faithfull to their Saviour. Be not dismaied, the time may come when Christs true hearted souldiers in England, may be vindica∣ted, justified, and honoured as much as now they are dis∣graced. Our Brethren of Scotland were cursed in too ma∣ny Churches as Rebels, yet afterwards by concurrence of King and Parliament, upon the day of Thanksgiving ac∣knowledged as good subjects. Remember Shadrach, Me∣shach, and Abednego, Dan. 3. being condemned, were cast into the Furnace, v.•1. their malignant adversaries consu∣med, v. 22. yet they preserved in the middest of the fire, v. 24. their God justified, v. 29. and afterwards they promoted by the King, v. 30.
And consider I beseech you, that you may encourage your selves and one another in the cause of the Lamb, the Court Parasites having obtained the Kings decree against Daniel, whereby he was cast into the Lions Den; The Lord most admirably turned the streame, v. 24. the King commanded, Page 31 and they brought these men which had accused Daniel, and they cast them into the Den of Lions, them, their children, and their wives, and the Lions had mastery of them, and brake all their bones in peeces, or ever they came at the bottome of the Den. Yet zealous Daniel who loved the cause of God better then his owne life, was delivered with honour to his God, to his Religion, together with his owne advantage, v. 26. 27, 28.
Such as have set their love upon God, may in the en∣couragement of a most precious promise, consult and pray, doe and suffer, Psal. 92.14, 15, 16. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he hath known my Name, he shall call upon me and I will answer him, I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honour him; with long life will I satisfie him, and shew him my salvation. The Lord grant you the experimen∣tall taste hereof in all your exigents. Amen.