THE PEACE OF Jerusalem.
PSAL. 122.6, 8, 9.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my brethren and companions sake I will now say, peace be within thee. Because of the house of the Lord our God; I will seek thy good.
THe whole world is divided into atwo Congregations of men, the Church Malignant under Satan their Head, and the City of God, under Christ their Head. The general universa∣lity of natural men descending from the first Adam, and the bspecial universality of be∣lievers Page 2 descending from the second Adam. This City of God was collected at first in the people of Israel, therefore called the first-born, Exod. 4, 22. and holy to God as the first born, Ier. 2.3.
That which they were called from the rest of the world unto, was to know, to serve, and to enjoy God: Know him they could not, but as he had revealed; serve him they may not, but as he had injoyned. Gods service was prescribed both quoad modum, and quoad locum, the manner how, the place where he would be worshipped, the manner delivered to Moses from Sinai, the place promised to be in due time revealed, Deut. 12.11, 14.
The Tabernacle was the visible evidence of Gods presence amongst the people, placed first in Shiloh, Iosh. 18.1. and there continued till the dayes of Eli, all which time the people went up thither to sacrifice, 1 Sam. 1.3. Then the Lord being provoked forsook Shilo,* and gave his Glory, the Ark, into the hands of the Philistims, Psal. 78.59, 60, 67. 1 Sam. 4.11. The Philistims by plagues were forced to bring it to Bethshemesh, 1 Sam. 6.10. the men then being plagued for looking into it (according to the threatning, Numb. 4.20.) per∣swaded those of Kiriath Iearim to fetch it, which accordingly was done, 1 Sam. 7.1. after, Saul car∣ried it into the field, 1 Sam. 14.18. Thus we see that from the making of the Ark, till its placing in Shiloh (where it continued about 350. years) and from the times of its captivity till David brought it into Sion, which was about fifty years, it was unsettled and itinerant. But after it was fixed Page 3 by David in the City of David, Ierusalem, or the South of the City, which he wan from the Ie∣busites, 2 Sam. 5.7, 9. (though it were removed from that part of the City to Mount Moriah, some∣thing more Northward, where Solomon built the Temple) then it was in the City which God had chosen to place his name in, from whence, it was not to be by them removed, though God threat∣ned to do to that place, as to Shiloh, Ier. 7.12, 14.
This Psalm seemeth to have been compiled by David upon occasion of his setling the Ark in the Tabernacle which he had made for it in the City of David, after the Iebusites were ejected, the wall built, the place fortified, the Palace and political Government there setled. And the use of it was (as it may seem) to be sung by the people when they went up solemnly unto Ierusalem according to the Law, Exod. 23.17. as an expression of joy that the Ark was fixed in one certain place, and the Kingdom in one certain family (as visible te∣stimonies of Gods presence, and of the promised Messiah) and as an excitation unto prayer for the continuance of so great a mercy, unto all pi∣ous endeavours to promote the welfare of that City.
The parts of the Psalm are three. First, An expression of Davids joy for the House of God, the resort of the people▪ the publick Worship there celebrated, vers. 1, 2.
Secondly, A commendation of Ierusalem. 1. From the Unity of it, before it was a City Page 4divided, for the Iebusites dwelt with the children of Iudah there till Davids time, Iosh. 15.6.3. Iudg. 1.21. That part of it which was called the City of David, was divided from the other part of the City, untill Solomons time, 1 Reg. 11.27. yet notwithstanding that separation▪ the City is here said to be compacted in one, because the Ie∣busites being cast out, though the buildings were divided, yet the affections were united, and that made them a beautiful City.
2. From the solemn worship of God, when the Tribes came up thither thrice a year, ver. 4. an ho∣nour which God gave that City above any other in Iudea, or in the world, to place his name there, 1 Reg. 14.21. forbidding them to seek to any other place, Bethel, Gilgal, or Beersheba, Hos. 4.15. Amos 5.5.
3. From the Civil Government there setled, which from thence derived welfare into all parts of the Kingdom. Where there is the Sanctuary and presence of God for Religion, Thrones of Justice for Government, no Iebusites to disturbe the one or the other, but an unanimous and sweet consent of the whole people in both, this must needs be a City of praise, wherein good men could not but rejoyce.
Thirdly, An Exhortation, that inasmuch as such glorious things belong to this City of God, therefore men would pray for the peace and prospe∣rity thereof, vers. 6, 9.
The words have no difficulty▪ Pray for, or ask after. It extendeth not onely to the Duty of Page 5Prayer for Peace, but of Consultation after the ways and means unto it; which the Greek implies ren∣dring it, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉.
Peace may be taken both generally for all kind of Happiness, and specially for all Quietness and free∣dom from enemies.
Within thy walls] Ramparts or Forts. It is not enough to have outward Fortifications and walls a∣gainst enemies, except there be Peace within the walls, and amongst the People, Palaces] which Da∣vid built, 2 Sam. 5.9.12. Peace within thy walls, amongst thy people; and within thy Palaces, amongst the Princes and Peers.
By his Brethren he meaneth the people of all the Tribes, who were greatly concerned in the pro∣sperity of that City, wherein were their founda∣tions, Psal. 87.1. It might seem no wonder if David pray for the peace of that place where his own Pâlace and Throne was: But he doth it not for his own but for his peoples sake, whose welfare was bound up in the peace of that place: Nor so much, for his own house, as for Gods House, (who had placed his name and presence there,) would he seek the good thereof.
Now indeed the Church had not any certain seat as then it had, but Every City is as Ierusalem, and every house a Temple, and in all places men may lift up pure hands, Isa. 19.19. Mal. 1.11. Ioh. 4.11. But wheresoever God doth place his Candlestick, and give evidence of his presence, there every man ought to recount such mercies with thankfulness, and by prayer, and all real endeavours to labour Page 6 that the peace and happiness of the Church, the purity of heavenly Doctrine therein taught, and of spiritu∣al Worship therein used, may be conserved and con∣tinued always.
- In the words are consider∣able two general parts
- 1 An Exhortation to a Duty.
- 2 Arguments to en∣force it.
- In the Exhortation two things, The Prophets
- Direction, v. 6, 7.
- Example, v. 8, 9.
- In the Direction again two things, the
- Matter, Peace.
- Root, Love.
- The Arguments are drawn from three Considerations.
- Our own good, Vers. 6.
- Our Brethrens good, Vers. 8.
- The house of God, Ver. 8.
The principal Doctrine of the Text is this, That it is the duty of all that love the Church of God earnestly, to pray for, and to seek the peace and prosperity thereof.
The Jews were to pray for the peace of Baby∣lon, while they were in it, Ier. 29.7. though after they are taught to curse it, Psal. 137.8, 9. much more ought they to pray for the place where the Lord had caused his name to rest. As we must do good to all, so we must pray for all, but much more for the houshold of faith, Gal. 6.10. 1 Tim. 2.1. Samuel dares not sin against God in ceasing Page 7 to pray for Israel, 1 Sam. 12.23. The Lord would not have us hold our peace for Ierusalems sake, nor give him any rest, till he make it a praise in the earth, Isa. 62.6, 7. and doth greatly complain when there wanted men to stand in the gap, and to make up the hedge, Ezek. 13.5, 30, 31.
You see the precept, you have it also in the practice of godly men in all ages; Moses, Samuel, Elias, Noah, Iob, Daniel famous for it, Ier. 15.1. Ezek. 14.14. Iam. 5.17, 18.* How was Moses and Paul affected, when for Israels sake they were con∣tented to be blotted out of Gods book, and to be an Anathema? Exod. 32.31, 32. Rom. 9.3. How was Isaiah affected with the calamities of the Church when he laid up prayers in store above an hundred years for it before those calamities did happen? Isa. 64.9.—12. How were Hezekiah and Nehemiah distressed with the afflictions of Ierusa∣lem, when they poured out their souls for mercy for it? Isa. 37.14, 15. Nehem. 1.3.4, 11. How doth the Angel pathetically complain to God of the long and sore captivity of the Church in Baby∣lon? Zach. 1.12. We have Psalms full of holy im∣portunity to this purpose, Psal. 74, 79, 80, 102. If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning, &c. Psal. 137.5, 6. It was the fruit of Davids and Peters repentance, to pray for Sion, and to strengthen their brethren, Psal. 51.18. Luke 22.32, I conclude the General with that fervent and pathetical prayer of Daniel, chap. 9.16. O Lord, according to all thy righteousness let thine anger and thy fury be turned away from thy City Jerusa∣lem, Page 8the holy mountain, because for our sins and for the iniquities of our Fathers, Jerusalem and thy people are become a reproach to all that are about us.
Now more particularly let us consider first, The Subject to be praised for, Ierusalem; though that whole land be called the Lords Land, yet that City was more peculiarly esteemed holy, as being the seat of Religion, the place of Gods Sanctuary and presence, towards that place they were to pray, Dan. 6.10. In that place they were to sa∣crifice, Deut. 12.6. from thence the Oracles of God were sent forth not onely into that land, but into all the world, Psal. 110.2. Isa. 2.2. Luke 24.49. For such places then, where the Ark and the seats of Iudgement are, we ought specially to pray that the Lord would protect his Ordinances, main∣tain his truth, continue his glorious and holy pre∣sence with his people, have a defence, and spread a covering upon all his glory. That he would pro∣sper fundamentall Laws, the beauty and stability of Religious Government; that he would keep out Blasphemies, Heresies, Schisms, Idolatry, Super∣stition, Pollution, Prophaneness out of his Church; Oppression, Violence, Injustice, Disorder, Anar∣chy, Confusion out of the State. That the Taber∣nacle, and the Tribunals, Religion and Policy may joyntly flourish,c they being the foundations of publick happiness, and which usually stand and fall together.
Next let us consider what peace we are to pray for. There is a sinful peace, of which we are not to seek after. David was a man of peace, yet a great Page 9Warrior. Solomon a King of peace, yet made Tar∣gets for War; Ierusalem a vision of peace, yet therein were shields and bucklers. Christ a Prince of peace, Isa. 9.6. yet a Captain, a Leader, a man of Warre, with a Sword girt on him,* and a Bow in his hand. The Church must so pray for peace, as to remember still, that she is Militant, and hath still Iebusites to conflict withall. Here we may not have peace. We must contend earnestly for the faith, Iude vers. 3. There must be no agreement be∣tween the Temple and Idols, 2 Cor, 6.16. No Fel∣lowship with the unfruitful works of darknesse, Ephes. 1.11. no reconciliation between Dagon and the Ark. As Christ is King of Salem, so of righte∣ousnesse too, Heb. 7.2. therefore peace and holi∣nesse must go together, Heb. 12.14. Iam. 3.17. Israelites and Canaanites must not agree, Deut. 7.2. Paul and Barnabas, peaceable and holy men, had no small dissention and disputation with Pharisaicall and Judaizing Christians.
The peace which consists with holinesse is three∣fold. 1. Heavenly with God. 2. Internal be∣tween the members of the Church within them∣selves. 3. External in civil conversation with all men. These we are to pray for, and to pre∣serve.
First, Heavenly, to enjoy the favor of God, and to be in Covenant with him. For if he be our Enemy, all the Creatures are his Souldiers, he can set in order the Stars, hiss to the Fly, muster up Caterpillers and Canker-worms, arm Frogs, ani∣mate Dust, turn the hands of his enemies to destroy Page 10 one another. Above all things therefore we must keep peace with God; for if he be not with us, all other helps will fail, Isa. 31.3.
You will say, We are sure of this, for God hath promised to be with his Church, and never to fail it, the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, Matth. 188.8.131.52.
It is true, the Catholick Church, and the lively members of his body shall never totally fail.* But particular Churches and Nations never had a Pa∣tent of perpetual preservation. Rome boasts of it, but the Apostle hath entred a caveat against that boast, Rom. 11.20, 21. But all Gods promises of not failing us, are made to those who keep cove∣nant with him, otherwise he also will break with us. The Lord, saith the Prophet unto Asa, is with you, while you be with him, and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will for∣sake you, 2 Chron. 15.2. I said, saith the Lord unto Eli, That thy house, and the house of thy Father, should walk before me for ever: but now the Lord saith, be it farre from me; for them that honor me, I will honour, and they that despise me shall he lightly esteemed, 1 Sam. 2.30. The Lord mar•ied his Church for ever, Hos. 2.19. but when she committed adultery, he gave her a Bill of divorce, Ier. 3.8. He said he would dwell in his Temple for ever, Psal. 132.14. yet he threatned to forsake it, Ier. 6.8. and accordingly did so, Ezek. 10.18.
We should consider this and tremble at it, as Io∣siah did, lest our mighty sins, unthankfulness, un∣fruitfulness, Page 11 animosities, Heresies, Blasphemies, contempt of the Lords Messengers (the sinne for which the Lord departed from Iudah, when there was no remedy, 2 Chro. 36.16.) should provoke him to depart from us, to take away his peace, as he threatned, Ier. 16.5. to shew us the back and not the face, Ier. 18.17. And what a case is Gods own he∣ritage in, when he forsakes and hates it? Ier. 12.7, 8. If the way, and the joy, and the name of the Lord be the strength of his people;* what strength is left to them, when they are gone out of his way, and deprived themselves of his joy, and cannot lay hold or lean upon his Name? As there∣fore when men see the walls of their houses crack and open, they hasten ro repaire them, and set up Props and Buttresses to support them; so when we see such vicissitudes of distractions, war be land, and then war at Sea; again war at Sea, and we know not how soon by Land again; shaking, shivering, convulsion fits in the Church of God, many a breach and hiatus in the walls thereof, Truth corrup∣ted, Unity dissolved, the Foundations out of couse, it is high time to think of making up breaches, repair∣ing the waste places, and raising up the Tabernacle of David, to beg of God that he will lay our foun∣dations, and make our windows, and set up our gates, remove our fears, rebuke our enemies, calm our tempests, that after so many shakings and concussi∣ons, the Lord may at last be pleased to speak in a soft still voice unto us.
Secondly, We are to pray for Brotherly Peace in the Church amongst the members thereof; that Page 12 as Christ is one, so they may be one, John 17.22. knit by Faith to him, and by Love to one another, as the Curtains of the Tabernacle were by loops and taches, that as we are one City, Houshold, Fami∣ly, Assembly, Ephe. 184.108.40.206. Hebr. 12.22. so we may have one heart and one soule, Act. 4.32. In the body, the head hath not one heart, and the hand another; the eye hath not one Soul, and the foot another; but one heart doth warm the whole, and one Soul doth quicken the whole: So should it be in the Church of God, we should have one heart and one way, Ier. 32.39. walk by the same rule, and mind the same thing, Phil. 3.15. gather up the stones, remove every thing that offendeth, Isai. 62.10. not prefer ends or interests above the pub∣lick peace of the Church of God, apply our selves in all sweet ways of Christian correspondence, and mutual condescension to make up the breaches, and to pour oyl into the wounds of the Church of Christ. It dcannot be but a joy to our adversaries, a blemish to our profession, a grief to good men, a stumbling block to evil men, to see brethren fall out in the way, to see the Church crumbled into divisions and sub∣divisions, and like a body which hath the itch, to see one member tear and scratch, and rub and gaul the rest, and must needs give unspeakable advan∣tage to our subtle and vigilant e adversaries both to reproach, and to undermine us.
Page 13Thirdly,* we are to pray for external peace with all men, which is as much as in us lies we are to follow, walking wisely, meekly, humbly, charita∣bly, obligeingly towards every one. And in as much as the Church is as the Ark on the Waters, Waves, and Windes ready still to beat upon it, we should pray for it that it may be delivered from the hands of strange children,* and that the Lord would still the raging of the Sea, rebuke the enemy and the avenger, the multitude of the Bulls with the Calves of the people, and scatter those that delight in War. We have tasted of War both domestick and forain, but the Lord hath mingled it with much mercy. If our eyes had seen the fruits thereof, as other people have felt, Cities burned with fire, Children wallowing in blood, Virgins perishing under the lust of Villains, Wi∣dows mourning for their dead, and dying for dare∣ing to mourn; Towns turned into heaps, a Garden of Eden into a Wilderness, no cattle in the Field, no Flocks in in the Fold, no Heard in the Stalls, no Inhabitant in the City, no child to the Father, no Husband to the Wife, no Money to the rich, no cloathing to the delicate, no Mercy in the Enemy, no Liberty in the miserable to bewaile his misery; Children howling for bread, the honourable im∣bracing dunghils, Death creeping in at Windows, overtaking them that flie, and finding out those that hide themselves, we would learn to prize a re∣covered peace, and to pray for the continuance of it.
Weighty are the Reasons in the Text to de∣monstrate Page 14 and press this Truth upon us. First, The condition of the Church,* a City compacted, and knit together by many strong bands, one Father, one Head, one Family, one Rule, one Faith, one Love, one Baptisme, one Spirit, one Common salvation. No where is peace so natural, so amiable as in the Church.
Secondly, The celebrity of Gods Worship, which is the glory of a people; let the Ark be gone, and the glory is departed: No so doleful a sight as the desolations of the Temple, Psal. 220.127.116.11. Isa. 64.10, 11, 12. All our foundations and springs are here, Psal. 87.1, 7. the wells of salvation, the Fountain of the Gardens, the Graces and Com∣forts of Gods Spirit, which make our souls like a watered Garden.
Thirdly, The Thrones of David, the Towers, Bulwarks, and seats of judgements, in which things stand the externall happiness of a Nation. Laws and Iudges are the foundations of the Earth, Psal. 82.7. When they were corrupted with inju∣stice and violence, the Lord threatned that Ieru∣salem should become heaps, Mich. 3.11, 12. Great reason therefore to pray for Ierusalem, that it may be a City of Righteousness, a faithfull City, Isai. 1.26.
Fourthly, the Benefits of this Peace. 1. To our selves, they shall prosper that love it. God will not onely hear the prayer by giving peace to the Church, but by giving prosperity to him that made it. Such a prayer is like to Noahs Dove, turns back again to him that sent it out, with an Olive branch Page 15 in the mouth. Yea, if the prayer should be denied as to the body of the people, yet such a man should be heard for himself. He should be marked for safety, Ezek. 9.4, 5, 14, 14. there should be a hide∣ing place provided for him-Isai. 62.20. and a book of remembrance should be written for him, Mal. 3.16. He shall have peace, though the Assyrian be in the land, Mich. 5.5. Isai. 43.2.
2. To our Brethren, Such a Prayer shall be like the Beams of the Sun which diffuseth light and heat upon thousands at once. Gods people have publick hearts and aimes, look after general and publick interests. Moses was offered to be the Father of a great Nation himself, Exod. 32.10. fO no, not so Lord, Lord think upon thy people. The afflictions of Ioseph more wound, then any such promise can comfort him. He dares not so unman so unbrother himself, as to look upon his po∣sterity, and forget Abrahams.
3. To the House of God. The conservation and propagation of his holy Doctrine and Worship is so dear to all that are of Davids mind, that they are willing not onely to purchase it with their prayers, but with their blood. I count not my life dear unto me, saith the Apostle, so I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Iesus. And again, I am ready not one∣ly Page 16 to be bound, but to die at Ierusalem for the name of the Lord Iesus, Acts 20, 24.21.13. They preferre Ierusalem above their greatest joy. And this is an high honour that God doth confer upon the prayers of his servants, that whereas all their good and comfort flows from the house of God, the very house of God it self doth reap benefit by their prayers. Though it be his Rest, the place wherein he delighteth, the place which he filleth with his glory; yet the glory of his own house shall be be∣stowed upon it, in answer to his servants pray∣ers.
We have considered the Duty: Before we make Application, let us consider the Root and Ground of the Duty, which is Love. They shall prosper that love it. The love of the Church, is the foundation of all our prayers and endeavours for the prosperity of the Church: A man will not very hastily seek the good of those whom he doth not love, and therefore when Christ requireth that we should love our Enemies, he addeth as a fruit of it, that we should pray for them, Matth. 5.44. Love made Ionathan intercede with his Father for David, even then when he knew his displeasure a∣gainst him. Much more will it move us to inter∣cede with God for his beloved people, the Spouse of his own Son.
1. Love is a fundamental Passion, the Foun∣tain of all the rest:*Prayer is nothing else but the affection of desire sanctified and presented unto God for the things we need, Love natural be∣ing the fountain of natural Desires; Love sanctifi∣fiedPage 17 must consequently be the fountain of Prayers, which are Sanctified desires.
2. Love is a special Root of obedience, Faith worketh by love, love hath a constraining vertue, is as the sail to the ship, the wing to the Bird, the spirits to the blood, the wheele to the chariot that keeps all in motion. The more love the more acti∣vity ever; the more we love the Church, the more sollicitous we shall be for her peace.
3. Love hath a very great interest in God, it is of him, and from him, and therefore it can finde the way unto him, 1 Iohn 4.7, 16. as water which comes from the Sea, runs to the Sea, the Lord can∣not but hear the voice of his own work in us. E∣very one that loves, is born of God; and a Fathers ear is open to a loving child: This is the founda∣tion of prayer, that we can call God Father, Rom. 8.15. Matth. 6.9. Every one that loves, knows God. Other things are known by knowledge, but God is known by love. Come taste and see how gracious the Lord is. Experimental, comfortable knowledge of God we can have none but in the face of Christ, in whom he is all love. When Moses desired to see Gods glory, he answered him by causing his goodness to pass before him,*Exod. 33.18, 19. The more we love God, the more he re∣veals his goodness to us; which knowledge of him is the ground of our calling upon him. God is love, as things of a nature move to each other; Earth to Earth, Water to Water; so love in us, moves to love in God. Now as if you binde a piece of wood to steel, the Loadstone draws the wood for Page 18 the sake of the steel to which it is joyned, so when our prayer is joyned with love, it is thereby drawn up unto God, who is love. Love is the Key of Heaven. As love to the Church made Esthers pe∣tition, so love to Ester made the Kings answer: God will hold out the Scepter of his love to those prayers which proceed from love. Love of the Brethren is an evidence of Gods dwelling in us by his Spirit, which is a Spirit of Love, 2 Tim. 1.7. and the Lords ears are readily open to those pray∣ers which are made by the help of the Spirit of love in us, Rom. 8.26. Ioh. 4.24. Lastly, where there is love, there is confidence towards God, and confidence hath free accesse to the throne of grace, Heb. 4.16. 1 Ioh. 3.21, 22.
4. Love hath an excellent vertue in it to season all duties, is as salt in the Sacrifice; it makes the duty hearty, and God loves chearfulness as well in praying as in giving. It makes a man urgent and importunate, quicquid agit valde agit, puts up strong cries. It is strong as death, whch will take no denial; It keeps the minde intent upon prayer. Love turned Maries thoughts from a meer civil entertaining of Christ into desires of hearing him. Love stirs up Faith to eye and fix on ptomises, & quae valde volumus facile cre∣dimus. Love facilitates duty, and makes the heart constant in it: Ruth loved Naomi and so went thorow with her. Weak things by the strength of love will venture on hard things; A Hen will fly upon a Dog out of love to her Chickens. One man with an engine may move more then ten Page 19 men with their own strength; Love is an Engine, makes the soul able to manage hard duties, to shoot a prayer as high as Heaven. Lastly, Love is full of arguments, no man will ever want some∣thing to plead in behalf of what he loves. All the strength of the minde, and powers of nature wait upon Love to contrive and cast about for the good of the thing loved. How witty was the love of the woman of Canaan to her daughter, who could pick out an Argument out of a Repulse, and turn that which seemed a greproach into a Pe∣tition.
Love is that which commends every service to God, the touchstone by which all our duties are to be tried. hMartyrdom without love is nothing, 1 Cor. 13.1, 3. iTruth without love is nothing, 2 Thes. 2.10. Prayer without love is nothing, Doeg was detained before the Lord, but his ha∣tred to David brought a curse upon him for all his prayer, 1 Sam. 21.7. The Lord looks not to pre∣tence but to truth, and will answer every man ac∣cording to the love, or to the Idols of his own heart, Ezek. 14.1-5. A man may pray for the Church of God only out of self Love (as the Jews were to pray for Babylon, Ier. 29.7.) because his own safety is involved in it, as the life of the Ivy de∣pends upon the standing of the Oak; but true prayer for the Church is that which is grounded upon love of the Church it self; upon zeal for Gods truth and worship, upon delight in his Ora∣cles and presence, because here onely the means of salvation, and the word of life is dispensed; be∣cause Page 20 in the distresses of the Church Gods name is blasphemed, the Blood and Spirit of Christ is injured, the glory of the Gospel is eclipsed, the Enemies of God are comforted. What wilt thou do, said Ioshua, to thy great name? Nehemiah and Esther were great enough themselves, but the afflictions of the Church made them mourn and pray.
And as no duties are acceptable unto God which do not proceed out of Love, so no pre∣tence of love is acceptable unto him, which doth not put forth it self into duty. This was the proof of Davids love, I love the Lord, I will call upon him, Psalm 116.1, 2. This the proof of Pauls love My hearts desire and prayer for Israel is that they might be saved, Rom. 10.1. when God is angry we find Moses in the gap, Psal. 106.23. When Israel flies, Ioshua prayes; when the plague is a∣mongst the people, David is at the Altar, 2 Sam. 24.25. When Enemies are in Arms, Iehoshaphat and Asa are upon their knees; when Rabshekah is railing, Hezekiah is intreating the Lord. Here is the proof of Love, it draws out the soul into all zealous endeavours for the peace of the Church; where there is no other ability, yet love will pray, and as Solomon saith of a poor wise man, we may say of a poor praying man, that he hath a great hand in delivering the City, Eccles. 9.15. The meanest Christian may pray for the peace of the Church.
But I must apply my Exhortation in the use of this Doctrine unto those who must do more then Page 21 pray, who have hands, as well as knees; power as well as prayer to put forth for God. In how un∣setled and discomposed a condition the Church of God is yet amongst us, every mans eyes sees, and I think, every good mans heart doth sorrow to see, the holy Ordinances of Christ by multitudes quite forsaken, the holy truth of Christ by many cor∣rupted with the leaven of heresie and blasphemy; Emissaries, walking up and down to draw away credulous and unstable souls into by-paths, to follow every ignis fatuus which doth mislead them. Multitudes of active and vigilant enemies, who know not how to work under a disguise, and by good words and fair speeches to deceive the hearts of the simple. Multitudes of credulous, ductile,* and unstaid spirits tossed up and down,* and carried a∣bout with every wind of Doctrine by the sleight and cunning craftiness of men who lye in wait to deceive. We see how fast these evil weeds have grown, what advantages the enemy hath taken in all pla∣ces to sow his cares and to lay his leaven; How great∣ly his hopes have been raised, and his attempts en∣couraged by the experience which he hath of the lubricity and instability of the vulgar people a∣mongst us. As it is said that the Chief Priests mo∣ved the people against Christ, Mar. 15.11. So the common enemy instills his poison into the people, to try if by degrees he can bring things into a flame and commotion, like that, Act. 19. and then have some crafty Demetrius in a readiness to cry up Diana, and you may observe how cunningly the Scene is laid.
Page 22*1. Cry up a boundlesse and universal liberty for every man to teach, to publish, to insinuate into o∣thers whatsoever doctrines he please, be the ten∣dency of them never so destructive to truth, peace, and godliness.
2. Cry down the coercive power of the Magistrate in matters of Religion, that so there may be no hedge to keep the Wolves out.
3. Bring into contempt the faithful and able Ministers of the Gospel, as hirelings and seducers, that so what ever Arguments they shall produce, in defence of the Truth, may be wholly enervated and blown over by the prejudice against their per∣sons.
4. Decry Learning and the Schools of the Pro∣phets, as things rather dangerous then subservient unto Religion, that so there may be no Smith in Israel, least the Hebrews make them Swords and Spears, 1 Sam. 13.19.
5. Cry down the maintenance of the Ministry, that when that is wholly taken away, no man may breed his child to a hungry, lean, starved pro∣fession, that so Emissaries who shall have an invi∣sible maintenance from abroad may have the freer entertainment to spread their snares.
6. Put Doctrines, which in their own proper co∣lours would not be swallowed, into a disguise, give them a Periwig (if I may so speak) and another name, that they may not be known to be the thing which they are; that in the dark and under a vail Leah may go for Rachel, and in a mantle the Divel may be Samuel.
Page 23I doubt not but that your eys are open to see the danger: I beseeh you let your hearts be awakened to consider of expedients to prevent it.
kThat Magistrates have a care and duty lie upon them to look after the interest of the Church of Christ, and to see that that may be preserved from pernicious and destructive evils, that the Offi∣cers and Members thereof do in their several stati∣ons the several duties belonging unto them (though I doubt not but you are setled in so wholesome a perswasion) give me leave in three words to de∣monstrate unto you.
First, the Lord did expresly command that Ido∣laters and Inticers to Idolatry, Blasphemers, Pre∣sumptuous and prophane despisers of Gods Law, should be punished. He that sacrificeth unto any God, save unto the Lord onely, he shall be utterly destroyed, Exod. 22.20. He that blasphemeth, the Name of the Lord, shall surely be put to death, and all the Congregation shall certainly stone him; as well the stranger, as he that is born in the Land, when he blasphe∣meth the name of the Lord shall be put to death, Levit. 24.16. The soul that doth ought presumptuously whether he be born in the Land or a stranger, the same reproacheth the Lord, and that soul shall be cut off from among his people, Numb. 15.30, 31. See Deut. 13.5 — 16. Now these punishments could not be dispensed but by those who did bear the Sword, therefore they that bear the Sword have a care upon them to preserve the Church of God from destructive evils.
Page 24Secondly, Princes are commanded to kisse the Son, whereby is noted their Love, Duty, Care of him and his interests, not to suffer any to disho∣nour him, or to prophane his Worship, Psal. 2.12. And for this purpose the Law was put into the hand of the King, Deut. 17.18. not bare∣ly in order to his private conversation (for so it was common to all) but as a keeper and main∣tainer of it, that he might cause others to keep it too.
Thirdly, In conformity hereunto Godly Magistrates in the Scripture have from time to time been zealous to vindicate the Church of God from all subversive and dangerous cor∣ruptions, and to command that all things should be done in the Church according to the directi∣on of God in his Word. Ioshuah commanded the Priests to take up the Ark and bear it before the people, Iosh. 3.6. David took special order for bringing home the Ark, 2 Sam. 6.2. In the first Book of the Chronicles in many Chapters, we read of his singular care in setting in order the Worship of God. And if it be said, That he did this by special direction and inspiration from God. It is true he did so; But its probable that God would have singled out a King for that service, if his purpose had been that Kings should have attended onely Civil Affairs? But to shew that this care was not extraordinary to one Prince one∣ly, we read of others taking the same course. We find Asa purging the Church from Strange Gods, High-places, Images, and Groves, and com∣mandingPage 25 the people to seek the Lord, and to doe the Law: and this was so far from unsetling the State, that it is said, The Kingdom was quiet be∣fore him, 2 Chron. 14.2—5. And after, upon the perswasion of the Prophet, it is said, he took cou∣rage to do the like; Yea, he put away his Mo∣ther from being Queen, because she had made an Idol in a Grove, and cut it down and stamped it, and burnt it, Chap. 11.8, 16. and presently it follows, there was no more war, &c. verse 19. and the very same Blessing followed the very same zeal in the reign of Iehoshaphat his Sonne, He took away the High-places, and commanded the people to be taught: and the fear of the Lord fell upon all the Kingdoms that were round about Judah, so that they made no war against him, 2 Chron. 17.6—10. Hezekiah began his reign the first year and first moneth with reforming the Church, and restoring Gods Worship, 2 Chron. 29.3—11. and so continued to do, Chap. 30.1—18.104.22.168.1—11.21. So Manasserh after his repentance, 2 Chron. 33.15, 16. Of Iosiah this testimony is given, that like unto him there was no King before him nor after him, 2 Reg. 23.25. and except only the unhappy action wherein he died, there is nothing recorded of him, but his care to purifie the Church of God, 2 Chron. 34.35. The like holy care we find in Nehemiah for the House of God, and the Officers thereof, Nehem. 13.9-14.22. And in Zerubbabel to build the Temple, Zach. 4.7, 10. And we find when Idolatrous corruptions crept in∣to the house of Michah, and into the Tribe of Page 26Dan, it is imputed to this, because there was no King in Israel, no Civil power to restrain men from doing every one what was good in his own eyes, Iudg. 17.5, 6.18, 1.
I know what will be said to all this, that it be∣longed to the Church of the Iews onely, whose Kings possibly were herein types of Christ; but that now the people of Christ are a willing people, and therefore not to be under any coercion.
Hereunto I answer, First, That what is written, is written for our learning; The examples of good Princes in the old Testament are recorded for the instruction and incouragement of Magistrates now. Otherwise by this pretence we might cast off all the holy examples unto any good work, which are given us in the Old Testament.
2. Though Christs people be a willing people, yet so far as they have flesh, they are weak as well as willing, Matth. 26.1. and being subject unto sinne, they must needs be subject unto Government too; for weresoever there is a body of men, who are, through sinful weakness, subject to miscarri∣ages, there is a necessity of some Government, and superinspection, to prevent, and to heal such miscarriages.
3. Where there are the same Reasons of a practice, the same practice ought to continue, ex∣cept we find abrogation and repeal: But the same reasons remain still. The Truth and Worship of God ought to be as dear to Magistrates now as then; leaven and corruption creeps into the Church as well now as then. God is as much dis∣honoured,Page 27 the Souls of men as much endangered, Satan as busie an adversary now as then; there∣fore the same means ought to be used now as then.
3. There are Hypocrites and Hereticks in the Church as well as a willing people against whom we find severity used by Christ himself and his A∣postles; Christ made a scourge and drove the buy∣ers and sellers out of the Temple, Joh. 2.15. Peter pronounced a doelful sentence upon Ananjas and Sapphira, Acts 5.4, 5, 9. These indeed were extra∣ordinary acts; but they teach us that an Evange∣lical Estate hath need as well of a Rod as of a spirit of meeknesse, 1 Cor. 4.21.
5. It is prophesied of the times of the Gospel, that Kings should be nursing Fathers unto the Church, Isa. 49.23. And of them the Apostle saith, that they are for a terror unto evil doers, and a praise to those that do well, Rom. 13.3, 4. which words are comprehensive,* respecting good and evil as well in the first Table as in the second. Again, the Apostle exhorteth that Prayers be made for Kings and all in Authority, that under them we may lead quiet and peaceable lives in all godlinesse and honesty; that which is the end of our prayer, is likewise the end of their power and government;* and if it be their duty to pro∣vide for quiet, peace, honesty, it is also to provide for godlinesse too, 1 Tim. 2.1, 2. And accordingly we find the great l care of Constantine, Theo∣dosius, Valentinian, Iustinian and other Christi∣an Emperours in making Edicts, calling Councels, Page 28 inhibiting Heresies, as we read in the Histories of their times.
6. Whatever things are per se, subversive and dangerous to the prosperity of States and Nations, come under the proper cognizance of the civil Magistrate to prevent; but Heresies, Blasphe∣mies, Idolatries, Impieties against God, do as well endanger the prosperity of States as sinnes against the second Table. 1. Because God is as much provoked by the one as the other, and it is remark∣able that the great sin mentioned in the case of the captivity of Iudah, was their despising of the Messengers of God, 2 Chron. 36.16.2. Because such sins do more exceedingly divide and unty the bonds of love and amity which Christian truth doth preserve, then other more civil differences, and so loosen the hearts of men from one another.
Lastly, This Doctrine hath been m by our learned Writers maintained against n Doctors of the Roman Church; for they are the men, who to maintain Papal Supremacy, and to keep all Ec∣clesiastical power within themselves, have shut out the civil Magistrate from it; which I onely name, that you may consider what hands they are that sow such Doctrines amongst us, with a purpose no doubt to make use of a boundless licence, to instill corrupt doctrines into as many as they finde fit tinder to catch that fire. Since therefore such a charge doth evidently lye upon Magistrates to use their power for the Peace and prosperity of the Page 29 Church, the Lord doth accordingly expect from them the discharge thereof. Where he gives ta∣lents, he will call for accompt.
But it may be objected, Is not this to abridge and annul that liberty which ought to be indulged to the consciences of men?
I answer, First in general, and by way of concessi∣on, God forbid that any should assume dominion over the consciences of men. The Apostle himself said, We are not Lords over your faith, we are but help∣ers of your joy, 2 Cor. 1.24. It would be a high and withall a vain attempt. An high attempt; for no man can give Law further then he can reward, and punish, accuse and convince. But no man can either search, or reward, or punish the conscience; there∣fore no man can give Law unto it. And upon the same reason it would be a vain attempt; for none but a divine eye can see the conscience, therefore none but a divine Law can bind it. If such words or such writings be blasphemous and subversive to Church or State, or both, and highly derogatory to the honor of Christ, civil restraint can reach them; But thoughts it cannot reach; they are unsearch∣able by an humane eye, and therefore unreducible to a humane power. And again, God forbid we should straighten liberty which Christ hath pur∣chased for us. Let every man stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made him free; whom Christ hath made free, cursed be that man who shall go about to intangle him in any such yoke of bondage as is contrary to that freedom.
Secondly, In particular we say, 1. Where men Page 30 agree in the main fundamental Doctrines of truth and godliness, in the Substantials of Faith, Wor∣ship and obedience, there ought to be a mutual love, toleration and forbearance of one another in differen∣ces, which are not subversive unto Faith & godliness. So long as we walk by the same rule, and mind the same things, wherein in other things we differ, we are to wait upon God to reveal even the same unto us, Phil. 3.15.
2. We say Christ did never either purchase or permit to any man, professing himself a Christian, a liberty to subvert, or endeavour to subvert, by blasphemous, heretical, idolatrous, or irreligious and impious Doctrine, the foundations of Faith, Worship, and holy obedience which he hath laid in his Church, or to remove, if I may so speak, the ancient Land∣marks of Christian Religion. The great Truths of God, the great interests of the Gospel ought to be dearer to us then the liberty of any blasphemous or impious tongue or pen.
3. Magistrates are wisely and cautelously to di∣distinguish between weak brethren, and wicked ma∣licious disturbers of the doctrines of salvation and peace of the Church, as the Apostle doth between the bewitched Galatians, and those that bewitched them, concerning whom he saith, I would they were even cut off that trouble you, Gal. 5.12. Which im∣precation he would not sure have uttered against them, if in sowing their false Doctrines they had onely made use of a lawful liberty.o
4. With the word, such a lenity and modera∣tion is to be used as first to reprove, rebuke, exhort Page 31 them with all long suffering and doctrine, 2 Tim. 4.2. to admonish them once and again; and when they are found unreclaimable, then to reject them, Tit. 3.10.
5. We are to distinguish between the conscience of the Seducer; and the spreading and infection of his Doctrine.p It belongeth unto the care of the Magistrate to endeavour the converting and re∣claiming of him, which though it cannot be ef∣fected, yet further and principal care must be used to prevent the spreading of infection. This was done in the Apostles time by rejecting an heretick, refusing to have brotherly communion and society with him. So an effectual means may be used to keep the leaven from the lump; use what mercy and lenity you judge most consonant unto Chri∣stian meekness, towards the persons themselves; but above all things, be zealous for the purity and peace of the Church, wherein divisions and sub∣divisions exceedingly tend to weaken, to distract, to betray it. We have to do with wise and vigilant, with subtle and sedulous Enemies, who formerly were, and no doubt still are intent upon their de∣sign to shake this Nation from the true Protestant Religion, wherein as the Duke of Roan gravely observed the interest thereof did stand. And I believe if the new things which are broached were duly examined, you would find in most of them, if not legible characters (as in the doctrines which de∣ny or diminish Original sin, and affirm free Will) yet a secret aspect and tendency towards Rome. They cry down our Ministers as no Ministers of Christ, Page 32 and so did Champney, and Kellison, and the Roma∣nists heretofore. They cry down our Ordinances as polluted, and impure, and not to be joyned in; and so the Pope forbad the English Papists in Queen Elizabeths time to joyn in the same Wor∣ship and Ordinance with Protestants. they cry down Learning, and Schools of Prophets; and what greater advantage can a learned Papist have then to have none but unlearned Adversaries to dispute withall? They teach Adoration of Christ in a sinful man at his feet, a plain manuduction to adoration of Christ in an hoast. They tell you they dare not limit Christs body to Heaven, an handsome step towards corporal presence in the Sa∣crament by Transubstantiation. They press to fol∣low a light within, secretly intimating imperfe∣ction, in the Scripture, unto which, why may not as well Ecclesiastical Traditions be added, as an imagininary light? They say we must follow the commands of that light, a shrewd preparation to any desperate attempt when season and advantage calls for it. The Lord give you wisdom to foresee evils, they are better prevented then suppressed. And for that purpose be pleased.
To encourage Orthodox, godly, and learned Ministers, and the Schooles of learning, vindicate and protect them from reproch and contempt. When Alexander the Great sent Ambassadors unto Athens, requiring them to deliver up their Orators into his hands; Demosthenes, in his Ora∣tion thereupon to the people,* tells them a fable out of Esop, that the Wolves being at war with Page 33 the Sheep sent a Message unto them, that if they would live at quietness, and have a firm peace concluded, they should yeeld up their Dogs unto them: which as soon as they had done they were devoured by the Wolves. The like Artifice use our Adversaries now; That they may make a prey of the people, their principal care is to pull down our Ministery, and Schools of Learning, that so the Watchmen being removed, the sheep may be ex∣posed to ruine.
To take care that all who own Christian Reli∣gion amongst us be required to attend upon the Ministry and dispensation of the Gospel,* that they may not presumptuously exempt & deprive them∣selves of the means of grace and salvation, as of my knowledge some do, who have wilfully for these many years withdrawn themselves from any Christian Assemblies where God is worshipped, or his name made known.
To endeavor to heal and close up breaches a∣mongst Brethren, that men agreeing in Faith, Worship and Obedience, may be no longer strange to one ano∣ther, but joyn hand in hand against the dangers which are threatned from a Common Adversary, who at those unhappy breaches hath let in these little enemies to open the door unto him.
To secure and set mounds about fundamental Doctrines, and for that purpose to take care for publick and private Catechising.
To provide that Ministers may be known to be Orthodox in the great and weighty Controver∣sies between us and Rome, that Wolves may never Page 34 privily creep in under sheeps cloathing.
To hinder the printing and spreading of dange∣rous and infectious Books either from Ports or Presses; or any other way of diffusing leaven into the people.
I conclude with this profession, that I have not pressed this Doctrine of the peace of the Church to the straitning or grieving of any who love our Lord Jesus in sincerity. I know the best men know but in part, and must mutually bear with, and pray for one another, that wherein they differ God will reveal himself unto them. My aym and desire hath been to preserve the foundations, to keep Protestant Religion from such incroachments as may insensi∣bly make way for the endangering of it. We see what we could hardly have believed, how facile and flexible the minds of many people are to be se∣duced and carried into opinions, which some years since they would as hardly have been perswaded to believe that they should live to imbrace, as Ha∣zael was that he should rip up women with child.
The Lord make you tender of his people, vigi∣lant against his enemies, zealous for his Church, valiant for the Truth.