A SERMON PREACHED Before the Honourable House of Commons at their Publick Thanksgiving, May 17. 1648.
Isaiah 8. 9, 10.
THis Chapter doth containe a threat∣ning * of two judgements; One a∣gainst the Kingdomes of Syria, and the Kingdome of Israel, or the ten Tribes, that is in the foure first Ver∣ses, and the summe of it is this, The Prophet had a young son, the Lord bids him, at the Circumcision of his son, name Page 2 him, Maher-shalal-hash-baz, which signifies, Make haste to the spoil, make haste to the prey; and the Lord gives the reason of it, because before that child should bee able to call, my Father, my Mother, before hee should bee able to say Dad or Mam, The riches of Damascus, and the spoile of Samaria shall bee taken away before the King of Assyria: and it came to passe accordingly, for this Prophesie was about the third yeer of King Ahaz, and in the fourth yeer, which was the yeer after, a great part of Israel was plunder'd and spoiled, and the King∣dome * of Syria was wholly broken. The second part of the chapter, begins at the fifth verse, and that containes a threatning of judgment, against the Kingdome of Iudah; and in it there are foure things remarkable: First,
Here is the cause of this terrible judgement, that God would bring upon the Kingdome of Iudah; Secondly, *
Here is laid down, the judgement it self, what it should be; Thirdly, *
Here is contained the deliverance of Gods people from * the judgement; and, Fourthly,
Here is laid down the uses, that God would have made * of all this.
The cause of the judgement you have laid down, in the sixt verse; Forasmuch (saith hee) as this people re∣fuseth (or slights) the waters of Shiloah, which run slowly, and rejoyce in Rezin, and Remaliahs son, because of this, that is in one word, because of their infidelity, because they did not rest upon the Gospell promises made them in Immanuel, that salvation which hee had promised to come from the house of David, but slighted it because the house of David was now low, and their neighbour Kingdomes of Syria and Israel were more Page 3 pompous and stately, then Davids throne, therefore they regarded not the promises made to it, but would bee glad to bee like those Kingdomes, who overtopt them; and to this end they made a confederacy with the King of Assyria, that they might bee the better a∣ble to cope with Rezin the King of Syria, and Pekah son of Remaliah the King of Israel: this the Prophet signifies in the words of refusing the waters of Shiloah that run softly, and rejoycing in Rezin and Remaliahs son. Shiloah was a little River which arose at the foot of Mount Sion, whence ran flowly, and in a crooked chan∣nell, which some thinkes it's called the Dragons Well,*Nehem. 2. 13. and this smooth stream was conveyed in some subterranean channells into that pool mention∣ed, Iohn 9. 7. and was thence by pipes conveyed into the Kings Gardens and Orchards, and was of use to the whole City, yea and Temple of Ierusalem: The same Ri∣ver of Shiloah is that which the Prophet mentions, Psalm. 46. There is a River, the streames whereof make glad the City of God, the holy place of the Tabernacle of the most High. By this River the Lord shadowes out the Kingdome of Sion and the house of David, which now was in a mean and low estate, and therefore despised by those unbeleeving Jews; and it is usuall with the Pro∣phets, by Rivers to signify the adjacent Provinces, Egypt by Nilus, Babylon by Euphrates, &c. Now for this sinne of their unbeleif, and relying upon an arme of flesh the King of Assyria, was this judgment to come up∣on them. Then, Secondly,
Here is the judgment which therefore shall come upon them; because that little River of Shiloah, would * not in their esteem doe them good, would not comfort them, the Lord would bring them waters, broad e∣nough, Page 4 foraine waters, such as they desired but little for their good, he would bring the Assyrian upon them, hee who they trusted in to be their deliverer, should come in, and be their spoil; Now therefore behold the Lord bringeth upon them the waters of the rivers strong and many, even the King of Assyria and all his glory; and he shall come up over all his channels, and goe over all his banks, and he shall passe through Judah, he shall overflow and goe over; he shall reach even to the neck, and the stretching out of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land Oh Emmanuel.
This terrible judgement is laid downe in two compari∣sons: one of a great river, or the sea, that had broke over all his banks, a floud should spread over all their land, and reach up to the very neck; the other comparison is of an Eagle or fowl of prey, he should come and spread his wings over the breadth of the whole land; the whole land of Iudea should at one time be overspread by the mighty Army that Senacherib (whom they expected to be their Saviour) should bring upon them with a purpose to destroy them; and in the close of this threatning, there is an elegant Apostrophe, he turns his speech to Christ, he shal spread his wings over the breadth of thy land, O Immanuel; though it be thy land and thy people, O Emma∣nuel, yet because of their unbelief all this shall come up∣on them. This turning of his speech to Christ seems to be an indignity to Christ, that his land, under the notion of his land should be wasted by such a wicked King, but this appears to be added for two ends, one to signifie the certainty of the judgement, all that could possibly be pleaded, why there should be any hope of keeping off the judgement was Emmanuels title to this land, but it shall come though it be Emmanuels land; secondly, this is ad∣ded as a secret ground of comfort of deliverance, because Page 5 it was the land of Emmanuel, the land and people where Emmanuel was to be borne, and where he was to reign, where he had and would have his fire and furnace, his seat •nd habitation, therefore their faith may expect delive∣rance: these are the two first parts of the Chapter; now my Text containes the third, which is the deliverance which the Lord would give them notwithstanding their great unworthinesse; but before I come to that, let me name this one lesson, from the other two parts, namely,
That it is ordinary with God, when his people doe * forsake his promises, and trust to an arme of flesh, he makes that arme of flesh to bee their scourge, which they expected to be their helper; they had nothing that they would trust to against these two neighbouring Kingdomes, but the power of the King of Assyria, and this King of Assyria shoud be their scourge to beat and almost to breake them in pieces: which is notably ex∣pressed 2 Chron. 28. 20, 21. Ahaz sent all the treasure he could rap and rend, thereby to ingage the King of Assyria. And Tilgath-Pilneser the King of Assyria came to him, and distressed him, but strengthned him not, he helped him not: therefore
Let us learne, that when we do trust either to any * nation, to any Army, or to any Councell, and relie up∣on them, with with-drawing our selves from the grati∣ous promises of God, we take the ready way to bring ruine and destruction upon our selves.
The third part of the Chapter, is that which I intend * by the Lords assistance to treat upon; and that is, the de∣liverance which the Lord was pleased to promise this un∣worthy people in this 9, and 10. verses: for the under∣standing whereof I would open two things; First,
The matter contained in these two verses: Secondly,
Page 6 The manner, how the Lord is pleased to lay this down, and expresse it:
The matter of the two verses, containes these three Heads: First,
Here is a great conspiracie against the Church of God: Secondly,
Here is an eminent deliverance of the Church from this conspiracy: Thirdly,
Here is both the author of the deliverance, and the cause, why they should be delivered.
The conspiracie against them, is laid downe in these branches; First,
Here is the multitude of people, that were engaged in it, called, ye people, and ye of far Countries; a great many of them: Secondly,
Here is their association, their meeting about their bu∣sinesse; gather your selves together, associate your selves* ye people, come and meet: Thirdly,
Here is the Association of their Councell; take counsell together; contribute every one what you are able to∣ward * this designe: Fourthly,
Here is their agreement in the Conclusion; Speake the word, set it positively downe, nemine contradicente, this * is the businesse we will doe, and carry it on as one man: then
Here is the preparation likewise of their Armes; Gird your selves, doe not only meet, and talke and agree, but * arme, and march, and goe on with your businesse; all this is the preparation to the plot: Secondly,
Here is the defeat of this plot, and that is very nota∣ble, even the dissipating of their counsells, the ru∣ine * of all their enterprizes; Associate your selves, but ye shall be broken; gird your selves, but ye shall be bro∣ken;Page 7 take counsell, but it shall come to nought; speak the word, set downe your conclusion, that you'l never part from, yet all shall not stand, all shall be a vain thing, it shall not onely not take effect, but returne upon your owne heads, to your owne ruine, ye shall be broken in pieces: Thirdly,
Here is the Authour of it, and in the Author the * cause; for God is with us: the Hebrew is, for Emmanuel; gather your selves, gird your selves, take counsell, speak the word, all shall come to nought, for Emanuel; that is, for it is Emmanuels cause that you oppose, it is Emmanu∣els people, that you fight against; it is Emmanuel who is the Leader, the Generall of that Army, one that will out-wit you, and out-plot you, and out-fight you, one for whom you are too few, and he alone will be too ma∣ny for you, it is against Christ, and you doe but kick a∣gainst the prickes; this is the matter of these two verses: then, Secondly,
Note likewise the manner, how the Lord is pleased * to lay this downe; which is done by severall rhetoricall, and figurative expressions: as First,
Here is an Apostophe; though the speech bee in∣tended * to his people, yet the Lord turnes himselfe to the Assyrians, who were comming against them; As∣sociate your selves, ye people, harken all ye of far Coun∣tries: Secondly,
It is laid down in the way of an Irony, and of a Sarca∣sme, * a bitter scoffe, the Prophet sets down this whole businesse by way of contempt of these enemies, that were ingaged in the businesse; as if hee should have said thus, I know your devices, you have concluded what you'l doe against Ierusalem, ingage you will, well be doing, goe on with your businesse, point your rendezvouz,Page 8 carry your Troopes and Regiments compleat with you, take an Oath of them all, resolve what you'l doe, try your skill, doe your utmost, but it won't hold, it won't doe, you are too weak, you'l bee broken, you'l bee dashed; Thus in a way of scorn the Lord is pleased to lay down this whole businesse, and hee chuses this manner of expressing of it, partly, that hee might thereby upbraid the confidence of the Enemy, who thought their businesse was so sure, that no check, much lesse checkmate should ever bee given them; you thinke you are very sure of your businesse, you make no question of carrying the day: and partly, in it hee would expresse likewise, the holy confidence of the Prophet, and with the Prophet of all the people of God, when they have got a promise from God, that they can under the Lords protection, securely looke upon all the preparations that their enemies make a∣gainst them; for as it is the speach of God, so it is the speech of the Church, Immanuel, God is with us, there∣fore doe your worst against us, wee feare you not: this I take to be the summe and the meaning of the words; Now out of the words many excellent instructions might bee learned: I intend but one, though I shall point at severall others: as First,
From the conspiracy that was in all these people, thus associating their persons, their counsels, their trea∣sure, their armes, all for the ruine of the Church, and people of God; wee may observe the wonderfull con∣sent that is found in the enemies of Zion, to ruin and de∣stroy it: learn I say, *
That there is a Concord, Harmony, and Vnity of Spi∣rits, and endeavors in the enemies of the Church, to bring ruine and destruction upon it. This is a truth that I shall Page 9 not need to prove, all the ages of the World have gi∣ven sufficient proof of it; Satan and his instruments have appear'd in many shapes, sometime in the shape of a Lion, sometimes of a great red Dragon, sometimes of a subtle Fox, sometimes in the shape of an innocent Lambe; but what ever their shape bee, their purpose and worke hath ever been to make warre against the woman and her seed, to endeavour by all means possible, the ruine of the people of God, pursuing it with dead∣ly fury, and powring out flouds of malice and rage a∣gainst it. I know it could not be burthensome, if I should a little open the severall wayes, that they have ta∣ken; * some more spirituall, some more carnall. Some more spirituall, one while indeavoring to corrupt their lives, by drawing them to wickednesse: sometimes to corrupt their faith, by drawing them to blasphemies or heresies: sometimes to corrupt their worship, by tain∣ting it with idolatry and superstition: sometimes to break their union, by interrupting them with schismes and di∣visions: at other times to interrupt and breake their spi∣rituall liberty, by putting bonds and yokes upon them, contrary to the Word; and at other times by out∣ward means, by persecutions and open hostilities, by all the terrors, and threats, whatsoever the hand, and tongue, and interest, and power of the Devill, and all his instruments could ever bring to passe, they never have ceased to endeavour by all possible meanes to destroy Immanuels people; this is a knowne truth.
The true ground is onely that inbred enmity and * opposition that is in the heart of all the seed of the Serpent against the seed of the woman, though no good reason at all, can be given why it should be so, yet non*amote, nec possum dicere quare; they doe not love them, Page 10 they hate them, they must endevour to destroy them; there is an enmity against them: but yet because no hatred found amongst rationall creatures, is without (at least) some pretence of Reason, know yee that the Reason of their hatred, is grounded upon such things as these; the one is,
That the Church of Christ, is a terrible plague and * vexation to all the rest of the World; I say, there is not such a plague to all the people of the world, as the Church of Christ is, and as Gods people are, because the lawes and rules by which they walke, doe threaten no∣thing but ruine and destruction, to all those that walke in other wayes; other people in the severall wayes they walke in, if you let them alone in their wayes, they will allow you to promise your selfe what you will in your wayes, their religions, and courses are good fellowes one to another, they can beare with them in their prin∣ciples; but the people of God doe hold out that, which must bee the onely rule, and they tell all the world, that if they walke not according to their rule one∣ly, they will be damned, and destroyed eternally, and so they vex them; and therefore one notes well, that when Tiberius the Emperour of Rome, having heard of the miracles of Christ, did propound to the Senate of Rome, that Christ might bee worshipped as a God, as well as their other Gods were, the Senate upon seri∣ous consultation rejected it, because (they said) if they entertain'd him, they must cast out all the rest, hee would suffer none to bee God but himself; and there∣fore in stead of owning him to bee one of theirs, they persecuted him, and owned all the rest: So it is, the two witnesses you read of, Revel. 11. vexed all the men that lived upon the earth, by their Prophesies, all the ser∣vants Page 11 of God by their rules, their faith, their lives, their worship, &c. Throw fire and brimstone in the faces of others, and therefore no wonder though they bee so bitterly hated and opposed Againe, another ground is,
That which Jesus Christ expresses, hee hath chosen his*people out of the World, as out of a base, vile, and un∣cleane * company, and upon his thus choosing, and cal∣ling, they in their whole conversation and garbe, doe leave the rest of the world, as unclean, vile and base; and there can be nothing so odious to a people as to bee so left: If there were some amongst our selves whose whole worke and endeavour should bee to leave England, and carry away all that they have out of it, as from a base people, and unworthy to bee loved or dwels withall, and should seek their welfare in another Country, it were enough to turne the heart of all the Nation against them: this is the way of all Gods peo∣ple, they cry down the glory of the world; the pleasures of the world, the riches of the world, the honour and pompe of the world, they cry all down as a base thing, and they profesle, to lay up all their treasure else∣where, and therefore the world cannot beare it: then add in the last place,
That all that is excellent in the Church, is invisible and undiscernible by a carn all eye; they have in them * many things that will challenge respect and reverence, but they are not seen; all the outside is poore, and base, and mean, and contemptible, unattended, unho∣noured; and for such a poore low sort of people to take so much upon them, who have no worth in them, that others can discern, is intolerable, no marvaile that the world bee against them; this made the two Witnesses Page 12 so hated, Revel. 11. that though they were but two, and they also cloathed in sackcloth, yet they durst under∣take to throw fire in the faces of all men, who lived up∣on earth. Upon such grounds as these, there ever hath been in the hearts of all the enemies of the Church, an incessant indeavour, and an unanimous confederacy, to ruin them, and destroy them; I note this but for these two ends briefly; First,
That it may teach all the servants of Christ, all the people of God, what they must look for in this world, * while their lot is to live amongst worldly men; they must looke for no other, but plots, and conspiracies, and confederacies for their ruine; and let it not bee hard, It was so with the Lord himself, Quod erat Christus eri∣mus Christiani; What Christ was, we Christians must bee; and it is enough, to be like our Master, while hee hee lived upon earth, although hee never did hurt any, walked unblamably, pitied all, helped all that came to him, yet hee was not beleeved in his word, he was re∣proached in his life, hated in his person, grieved in his Spirit, the whole way of the world went against him; and it must and will bee so with his servants, while there is a devill and a devillish spirit in the world, the gates of hell will bee working, in one kind or other, Non semper saeviunt Nerones, sed nunquam cessat diabolus, there are not alwayes raging Neroes, but there are alwayes devils and devillish men, every Abel shall be sure of a Cain, and the Congregation of Christs people must bee opposed by the association of Malignant enemies. But Second∣ly,
That which I would faine leave with you is this, even a use of wisdome; which all the servants of God * should learn, since there is such a confederacy and an Page 13 harmony in the spirits and endeavours of all the enemies of Gods people for their ruine; how should this provoke al the servants of Christ to associate and unite themselves together, for their mutuall safetie? certainly when Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek, and the Philistines, and they that dwell at Tyre, Asher, and the children of Lot, are all confederate against Gods people, it were a starke mad∣nesse for Ephraim then to bite Manasses, and Manasses to bite Ephraim, and both these to devoure Iudah; O how uncomely, and unseasonable a thing is it, to find the peo∣ple of God divided one from another, and helping by their jealousies, and divisions, the hurt and raine one of another, at that time when there is one soul and spirit, possesses all their adversaries to destroy them; how sad is it, that we cannot learne that wisedome of our adver∣saries? looke over all the world, and you shall find, that the generality of the world, are all children of Babel, children of confusion, have severall interests one from a∣nother, can undermine one another, can fight one against another, yet they all can and doe convenire in hoc tertio, they all agree in this, that when there is a businesse against the Church of God, they will all be one against it: Shall not the servants of God joyn together for their safety? this duty of loving one another our Saviour presseth up∣on * us by many arguments, we have one God, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptisme, &c. it was one of his last in∣junctions, Love one another, it's the band of perfecti∣on, &c. yet all will not do it, our great enemy knowes how open we lye to him, when a spirit of division is got in; they that have read the stories of the Church, are able to prove it, that next to Apostasie from God, the divisions that have been found amongst Gods peo∣ple, have been the greatest means of their hurt and mis∣chief; Page 14 God in mercy teach us now to learne our duty; sure I am, this exhortation was never more needfull, and usefull, then it is at this day, and unto this nation, where there are found a people, a godly people, for whom the Lord hath done admirable things, greater then which he hath not done since he brought Israel out of Egypt, and now after God hath done all this for us, wee are tantum non swallowed up, and should it prove so, it must lie up∣on this, our divisions have undone us, when the Lord hath prevented our enemies, wee have undermined one ano∣ther, and been jealous one of another, and hated one another, and that so bitterly that I have often with sorrow thought, that in England this day, it is not much better, then it is in Turkie, in this respect; they who write of the state of the Christians among the Turks, say this of them, that their divisions are such one against a∣nother, and their hatred so implacable, that they love the Turke better then they love one another, and that the Turke makes use of them as his instruments, and infor∣mers to ruine one another, and that if there were an Ar∣my of the one side able to cope with an Army of the Turkes, he that shall expect to have but one good wish from the rest of the Christians to accompany them, would be utterly deceived; which (saith a learned ob∣server) makes their bondage irrecoverable; Alas that we should be so neer if in England, that the divisions that are got in amongst the servants of God, should make us like the Hieroglyphique of the Dragon and the Lion, figh∣ting one against another, when the Griffin hangs over them to devoure them both when they have weakened & wounded one another. This is our present sad condition, God in mercy amend it; I have much adoe to keep off from further enlarging my complaint upon this wofull Page 15 theam, because our divisions (beside all other mischiefes which attend them,) hinder us from prising and esteeming deliverances and the mercies which God bestowes upon us, as in such a deliverance and mercy as we meet to praise God for this day; many, yea many honest and good men hardly know how to praise for it, when the instruments of it are men from whom we are divided in our affections, lest possibly some such respect should be offered them as we like not: and thus God is deprived of his glory and we of our comfort. O the wofull fruits of our discord! Christ will not bear these things at our hands, he wil either make us one or none; I am perswaded he will either make us lay down these oru divisions, or he will give us up into their hands, who will make us agree in eating the bread of affli∣ction, and drinking the water of affliction, make us agree in one common calamity with a witnesse. Pardon this di∣gression (if it be one) which the exigence of the times and our dangers, put me upon; I urge these things to stir up your frequent prayers that God would be merciful unto us, that we might not thus pul down our houses with our owne hands. Thus from the first part, the confederacy against the Church; the other I principally aime at, and that is,
The deliverance from it: where you have considerable * two things: First,
The deliverance it selfe; the breaking of all the coun∣sells of their enemies, and the turning of all upon their own heads: and Secondly,
The cause of it; and that is Immanuel, he is the wor∣ker of it.
Now though there be but one main lesson, that I pur∣pose to handle, yet there are three or foure particulars, that I would hint and but little more then name; one is, Page 16 that although the Lord had brought these Assyrians up∣on his people, and delivered his people into their hands, yet their rage, and cruelty, and fury against his Church did move God to turn his hand upon them, though he had imployed them to afflict, and chastise his people:
That the more rage and fury is in the enemies of the Church, the sooner doth the Lord compassionate the * miseries of his Church; there are very many examples of it, in the 32. Deuter. I said I would scatter them, spea∣king of the rebellions of his people, which had anger'd him; I said (saith he) I would even scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men, were it not that I feare the furie of their enemy, that he would exalt himselfe too much against them: Senacherib is a famous instance of this, Esay 10. God had stirred him up to goe against his people, to take the spoil of them, and to tread them downe as the mire in the streets: but Senacheribs rage grew higher, he would destroy and utterly cut them off, he would do to Hie∣rusalem as he had done to Samaria, but even therefore did God compassionate his people, and ruine this proud adversary: so likewise, Zach. 1. 14, 15, 16. &c. God was a little angry and displeased with his people, and the ene∣mies helped forward the affliction, but therefore was God sore displeased with their enemies, and even therefore did he returne to Hierusalem with mercyes.
Thus you see God compassionates the misery of his people, the more the rage and furie of the adversary is * kindlled against them: And therefore (to apply this in a word or two) that which is to many in these dayes, is a wonderfull discouragement of heart, I thinke rather should to be a ground of hope to us; I mean the extream rage and fury which appears in the spirits of Page 17 most wicked men against such as fear God; I believe there was never so much bloud, nor wrath, rage, nor fury, in the hearts of the enemies of Gods people as is this day to be found; they feare not to speake it out, that not a man of them shall live in the Kingdome, when once power comes into their hands; they hope the day is comming, and they make account to doe, as Pharaoh said he would do, when he followed the Israelites into * the Red sea, I will now overtake them, my wrath shall be now satisfied to the full upon them; now who knowes but the Lord will doe his people the more good for this; as David said of Shimei, when he cursed him, and they would have had him take off his head, No (saith he) let him curse, it may be God will doe me good for his cur∣sing of me; the more pride, and wrath there is in the hearts of those, that thinke to tread his people down, the more will God lay their insolency to his heart.
Again, you may observe here, with what scorne and * contempt the Lord doth speake of all the preparations of man against his people; here was a mighty Army listed and rallied, gathered together, met at their rendez∣vouz, yea, come into the Kingdome, and made account to carry all before them, but how disdainfully the Lord speakes of all their preparations; Associate your selves, goe your wayes on, you thinke to doe a great act, you make account to carry all, but it will not doe, it will not stand; poore peoplel you reckon without your host; thus the Lord (as the prophet saith) sits in heaven, and laughs * at them; he scorns all their preparations, that they make against his servants: and truly the naming of it, should teach us to make the same use of it, that Luther did, * Surely (saith he) if Jesus Christ sit in heaven and laugh at them, we should be foolish on earth, to sit and cry for Page 18 feare of them; for Christ well enough knowes what they can doe, and what they shall doe, let us never trem∣ble at that which Iesus Christ laughes at. Observe fur∣ther,
That when the Lord doth think upon deliverance for his afflicted people, it is nothing of their worth, but on∣ly * the interest of Immanuel, which prevailes with God; here the Lord had stirred up an enemy to come against them, and they came, and when they thought to doe great matters, the Lord would not let them, but would turne all upon their owne heads; and why? for Imma∣nuel, Immanuel is interessed in it, not the worthinesse of Gods people, as he often saith it; be it knowne to you, I doe nothing of all this for your sakes, be you ashamed and confounded, it is for my own names sake which I work for; I regard the glory of my Son, Christs interest will bring deliverance, when the unworthines of the Church would rather call for vengeance. 'Tis true, God dearly loves his people, they are to him as the apple of his eye, King∣domes and nations are nothing to him in comparison of his people, but 'tis no worth in them, nothing of their owne, which commends them to him, they often lye in their blood which yet is a time of love to him, and should he forbeare healing and helping till their worthinesse cal'd for deliverance it would, never come, 'tis that love wherewith he hath loved them in Immanuel, which * brings all; therefore though we should be humbled and even tremble at the thought of our present unworthines, yet should Gods people comfortably hope and wait, that for Christs interest in our present cause and worke, deliverance will come.
Before I come to the chiefe lesson, point at one more,
Page 19 That when the greatest inundations of miseries doe flow in upon the Church, yet the Lord sets bounds to them, that they cannot go so far as the enemy would: here the waters should come up to the chin, but yet not over head and eares; the Lord often afflicts his people, but he will not give them up to a totall spoile, and desolati∣on; all these things deserve to be handled more fully, but the time will not allow it; I come now therefore to that onely lesson, that I intend more full to insist upon; and that is this,
Immanuel, our blessed Saviour, doth turne all the plots*and conspiracies, that are against his Church, upon the heads of the contrivers, and makes them for the salvation, and deliverance of his people: that is the lesson,
That all the associations, and plots that are against Gods people, Jesus Christ doth so order the matter, that * in the result and event, they shall be all turned upon the heads of the adversaries; and for the welfare of those that are his servants: there is no one argument in the whole booke of God more frequently repeated in vari∣ous instances, then this doctrin which I have propoun∣ded: that of Aegypt, of Sisera, of Senacherib, of Ha∣man, of the conspiracie against Christ; and a hundred others more, some relating to the Church in generall, some relating to particular godly men, in all of them the Lord hath ever made it good, that the mischief intended * against his people, turns upon the heads of the contrivers. But to make it a little clear to you, I pray you note these four or five conclusions, which all lie in my Text: First, *
That all the plots and conspiracies, that wicked men * have against the Church and people of God, Jesus Christ hath a hand in the contriving of them: here was Senache∣rib, he and his people had confederated and associated 〈1 page duplicate〉Page 18〈1 page duplicate〉Page 19Page 20 in this plot: but God sent him, verse 7. Now therefore the*Lord bringeth upon them the King of Assyria: the Lord had determined how far he should goe, how hee should spread over all the land, and his waters should reach up to the neck: in the next Chapter but one, in the 10 Isa. God saith of him, I sent him against them, though he did not thinke so: So also in the 4. of Micah, Many nations are gathered together against thee, &c. but it followes pre∣sently, I gather them as sheaves; so in the famous case of the death of Christ, Herod and Pontius Pilate with the *Gentiles and the people of Israel were gathered together against the Lord and against his Christ, but it was to do what Gods hand and counsell had before determined to be done. Secondly,
In this contrivement, Jesus Christ intendeth one thing, * and the enemies intend another thing, each of them * working according to their owne principles; that you have plain here, the Assyrian comes in, his intent is to swallow up all, the Lords intent is, that he him∣self and all his company shal be broken to pieces; thus Io∣sephs brethren thought evill against him, but God meant good to him; thus Pharaoh intended the extirpation of Israel, by that which God intended their propagation; * thus Haman intended the ruine of Mordecai and all the Iewes, when God intended light and gladnesse and a good day to them; thus the nations Micah 4. intended to tread down Zion, when God intended they themselves should be threshed out: and a hundred examples more might be given, but I can only point at these things. Thirdly,
That Jesus Christ doth very frequently let the designs * of the adversaries of his Church goe on, with a great * deale of successe and prosperity, untill they think them∣selves Page 21 cock-sure of the whole businesse: this you may see in the Text here, they came with such a mighty Ar∣my, that they made no question of carrying all before them, made account all was their own; thus Pharaoh went * on till he was confident his wrath should be satisfied up∣on them, Exod. 15. So Haman had got his decrees signed by the Kings letters, which by the law of Persia was irre∣vocable; thus was Peter kept in prison untill the very * night before he should be executed: and so in abundance of other designs against the Church you may see the like, though it is very true that sometimes the Lord crushes them in the egge, and will not let them break out into Serpents; yet very often (as we say in the Gunpowder-treason) there wanted nothing, but to put the match to the powder, and the blow had been given; so God lets the plots and contrivements of the enemies of his Church, go on, untill they make account that there be no way in the world to stop them, or to prevent them; so that if Gods people be delivered, their soules must escape as a bird out of the snare of the Fowler. The next conclu∣sion is,
That when the enemies make account all is sure, that * they question not, but the day is their owne, then doth * the Lord in some unexpected way, dash all their plots, bring them to nothing; thus God defeated Pharaoh, Exod. 15. thus was Haman defeated, thus was the con∣spiracy against Paul defeated, Acts. 26. a hundred instan∣ces might be given, but I shall only open one similitude which God use to set down the manner of the destru∣ction of Nineveh, Nahum 1. 10. Nineveh was then the head of this Assyrian Empire, and God expresseth the ru∣ine of Nineveh thus, when they are folden together, like thornes, and when they are drunken like drunkards, then Page 22 shall they be devoured as stubble fully dryed; that is, when their plots are curiously weaved, and set so, that no man shall dare to touch them, no more then he would touch a wreath of thornes; they have so contrived the businesse that they would faine see the man that durst appeare a∣gainst them; They are folded together as thornes, and when they are drunken like drunkards, that is, they are drunken with pride and confidence of their successe, they can hardly speak or goe, they are so drunken with confi∣dence, when they are come thus to the top, then shall they be devoured like dry stuble, some way or other fire will be put to the thatch of the house, and set it a burning, and in a moment all is gone off. Thus when the enemy is come in like a floud, the spirit of the Lord lifts up a standard a∣gainst him. Thus God delights to take his time, when * they are at the highest, and feare the least, then God breaks their design; the last conclusion is,
That when God breaks their designes, hee delights to * break themselves, not onely to frustrate their designes, * but to ruine them too, and deliver his people; so it is here, Associate your selves, gather your selves, gird your selves, take counsell, but still you shall be broken to pieces, ye shall be broken to pieces, ye shall be broken to pieces, three times it is in one verse; all breaking to pieces, ruin and destructi∣on to them, and salvation, and deliverance to Gods peo∣ple: Thus was it to Pharoah and his hoast, thus was it * to Sisera and his army, thus was it to Oreb and Zeeb, who perished at Endor, and became like dung upon the face of the earth, thus with Senacharib and his great Army, thus with all the Nations who were gathered together to defile Zion, and thus shall it be with all the enemies of the Church, so let all thine enemies perish O Lord. Could the time permit me, I would a little further Page 23 instruct you, out of the word, in the severall wayes, how * Jesus Christ uses to affect this, which are all unexpected wayes unto his enemies; they are such as these,
Sometimes the Lord strikes into them a spirit of * terror, and amazement, that they doe not know whence * it is, nor why it is, and yet their courage is wholly gone, and so God threatned it should be both to Niniveh and Babylon, Esay 13.
Sometimes the Lord stirres up other creatures to * doe it; the Wind, the Sun, the Stars, nay it may be * the very insecta animalia, Exod. 8. 9, 10. the Rats and Mice, and Frogs, and such poore creatures, and so delivers his people, as he did Ieremiah out of a dun∣geon by rotten rags.
Sometimes the Lord Jesus doth it, by his own imme∣diate * hand, as in my Text here; the hand of the Lord * doth it as with devouring fire; So hee did against Senacharib; the Angel of God sent a plague, that in one night kil'd a matter of ninescore thousand: Esay 9. 6. and Esay 1. 3. 7.
Sometimes the Lord doth it by giving mighty strength unto a handfull of his own people, to bee able to tread * downe, and to breake through huge hostes of them Page 24 who made account to lick them up, as the Oxe should lick up a little fodder, Iudges 1. Kings 20. there are plen∣tifull examples of all these; such wayes as these doth Jesus Christ delight to turn the plots of all the ene∣mies of the Church upon their owne hands, and for his peoples deliverance; the ground of it in one word, is this,
It all comes from that infinite love that Jesus Christ * beares to his people; my Text hath it, you must be bro∣ken to pieces, for Immanuel; it is Immanuels land, it is Immanuels cause, it is Immanuels people: the tender love that Christ beares to his people, is the cause of all this, though they are altogether unworthy of it; With an everlasting love have I loved thee, in Ier. 31. 3. there∣fore * with loving kindnesse will I thus draw thee; and in the 43. of Isaiah, Since thou wast pretious in mine eyes, (saith God) that is, since I set my heart upon thee, I will give men for thee, and people for thy life: the Lord cares not to give a mighty Army of enemies for the ransome of them that are pretious in his eyes: and in another place, I'le make them of the Synagogue * of Satan, fall at thy feet, and they shall know that I have loved thee; for their sakes is hee Immanuel, for their sakes is al power in heaven and earth committed to him, the Father judgeth no man, that is, the execution of all the Soveraigne authority of God; is now put into the * hands of Jesus Christ, for this very end, God hath given * him to be the head over all things to the Church, they are all to be subordinate for the good of the Church, his onely work and design is the welfare of his Church, upon the Church hee hath set his heart, the Church he carries in his bosome, his Church he hath writ upon the palmes of his hands, and the tablet of his breast, and Page 25 hee being furnished with all the power of God, and all the wisdome of God, and all the righteousnesse of God, it can bee no otherwise but that all designes and plots that are against the Church must bee dashed and come to nought, according to that promise in the latter end of the 54. of Isaiah, No weapon that is formed against*thee can prosper, but every tongue that riseth up against thee in judgement thou sholt condemn, this is the heritage of all Gods people, saith the Lord: these things I know you are not unacquainted with, I shall now wind it up with an Application in two or three uses, and they are all of them such uses which the Lord teaches his people to make of it, in this very Chapter; the first is,
A word of Caution, because all plots and conspiracies against the Church must come to nothing, therefore say*you not, a confedracy with them that say a confederacy; this use of Prophet makes of it in the 12. verse, assoon as the Lord had made this promise, He presently with a strong hand instructs him not to walk in the way of that people, saying, say not a confederacy with them, that say a confede∣racy,* that is, when others doe either out of ill will against Gods people, or from base feare, or any other principle whatever, associate themselves with the churches ene∣mies do not you joyn in that confederacy with them the same caution I give you, let it bee a watch-word to all of you, to beware how you have your hand in any designe that is against the cause and people of God, for certainly in it you can contrive nothing but your owne ruine; Ahitophel was a wise man and hee would joyne with Absalon, possibly onely out of policy, because hee saw Absalon was the rising star, and the people were dis∣contented with Davids government, and factions were spread, and this man was like to carry it, and what be∣came Page 26 of this wise man? God turned his counsell into foolishinesse, hee twisted a halter to hang himself, and that was all; Thou maist by such plots kindle a fire to burn thy owne house, thou maist furbish a sword to run into thy owne bosome, but all thy contrivements and joynings with them, how wise or cunning so ever they are, must turn upon thy own head to thy ruin, if thou have any thing to doe with them; therefore as Pilates wife sent to him, have thou nothing to doe against that just man, so say I to you, have you nothing to do against Gods Servants, it is a dangerous and a wretched thing to be ingaged against them, it's a wretched thing to carry the devill in ones brain, to be plotting mischief, but to be unsuccessefull in attempts, yea to advance and doe good to them whom men would destroy, and themselves to perish for their labour, this is miserable, many a man with Sampson would bee content to perish upon con∣dition, that they whom they oppose might perish with them, but that cannot be here, no plot will take, therefore let them alone, meddle not against those men for whose sake God will be ingaged against thee: this is one use, The second is,
A use of comfort; because Immanuel was with his people, therefore saith he, Feare not their feare, be not dis∣mayed,*sanctifie you the Lord of hosts in your heart, he will be a sanctuary to you, trust in him though he hide his face from the house of Israel; In many words the Prophet here doth animate and incourage the servants of God, in their greatest confusions which can possibly lie upon them, not to let their faith in Immanuel goe, but beare themselves upon him in the midst of all difficulties; This also would I a little presse upon you, because the Lord is thus engaged, and will order all things for the ru∣ine Page 27 of his enemies, and the good of his servants, therefore in the mid'st of all our darknesses and difficul∣ties, hold your faith strong in Immanuels promises, which are many, hold you to them, and feare not any feare of man; I confesse, when in my weaknesse, I look upon the condition of these three Kingdomes of En∣gland, Scotland, and Ireland, there is not in reference to the people of God, a sadder spectacle upon earth, pre∣sented to my eye; Clouds of confusion hang over all our heads, wee may say of our troubles, as Leah said, when shee had a son born, shee called him Gad, Behold (said shee) a troope cometh; Troopes of misery break out against us, and threaten the people of God in all these three Kingdomes; the adversaries of the cause that we have beene engaged in, were never more, never so full of fury, never so diligent, they are like unto the Frogs, that came out of the mouth of the Dragon, and the false Prophet, and the Beast, that were to gather all the Kings of the earth to battaile against the Lambe, set∣ting their confederacies, and sending their Emissaries into every corner; into every corner of France, of Hol∣land, of England, and Scotland, and Ireland, where ever any confederacy may bee raised; and wee at home are a most pitifull, divided, disjoynted people, even we who have owned and joined in Gods cause, as if wee were the children of Cadmus, making it our worke to thrust our swords into one anothers bowels; or like the brethren of Ishmael, every mans sword is against us, and our sword against them; so that when I look upon the difficulties, and dangers that doe inviron us, seri∣ously I see no more probability of our withstanding the invading ruine, then it is for a levell of sand to withstand a Torrent of water, that comes running upon it, I say Page 28 thus it appeares to mee when I look upon these things, with carnall eyes: I can then see no way, but the wo∣fullest confusion breaking in upon us, which a Kingdom can be plunged in, especially that the godly party are even like to be given up for a spoile, and a prey; all our foun∣dations are out of joynt, and our whole house seemes falling; but what then? Must we therefore sit downe, and despaire? No, for Immanuel, because of Immanuel wee may beare up our hearts still; and to encourage you, I pray you carry home, these foure or five medita∣tions: First,
Know you for certain, that there is not one of all these businesses, not any of these designes and plots that are in * hand against us, but the best friend wee have in heaven and earth, hath stirred them all; no man could offer at you, so much as a drawne Dagger, if Jesus Christ did not draw it, and put it into his hand: and truly Gods people need not feare any great hurt from any designe that Jesus Christ hath his hand in; the clouds which Jesus Christ raiseth will all drop fatnesse, that is one, Christ hath contrived them all, and you may therefore look for good from them; Secondly,
Know for certaine that in the greatest rage and fury that ever is found amongst wicked men, Immanuel hath * a negative voice; hee is not onely privy to all the counsels that are, but he hath a negative voice in them too: If hee say nay, all their yeas are: not worth a far∣thing, to advance their businesse; wee use to say to the Papists, that if a generall councel could be called in Chri∣strendome, no good could bee expected from it, if the Pope bee allowed to have a negative voyce, for certain∣ly hee will never passe any thing that shall be against the Church of Rome: Jesus Christ hath this negative Page 29 voice; you may demand over whom hath Christ a negative voice? I tel you,
He hath a negative voice over the Seas; if he say to the Seas, goe not there, the raging waves of the Sea cannot stir; it is an observation that Basil hath upon Egypt, that the land of Egypt lies lower then the red Sea, that the red Sea, is higher then the land of Egypt, so that there is no reason can be given why the red Sea doth not drown all Egypt and swallow it up, every day, but onely the Lord doth not give his voyce to it; he hath said to the waves of it, Hitherto ye shall come, and here yee shall turne back up on a levell ground; yea runne away from a lower ground, and when the waves roare, he but saith, peace, bee still, and husheth them as a child.
Christ hath a negative voice over the Devill; If * the Devill would but goe into a hog, and Christ say, no, you shall not goe, he cannot enter into a Swine.
Hee hath a negative voyce over all mortall men; in * all their plots and conspiracies; If hee say, it shall not stand, it is to no purpose: certainly Beloved, wee may beare up our hearts comfortably upon such grounds as these; yea, Thirdly, as Christ contrives all, and hath a ne∣gative voice in all; so,
All these doe but work his work: hee is not onely * one of them, but they are all his Agents too; hee hath some worke to doe, whatever it bee wherein hee im∣ploys them, and though hee let them worke according to their principles, yet they all worke the work of the Lord, the devills in hell worke the worke of Christ, as Page 30 well as the Angels in heaven; the Pope of Rome works the worke of Christ, as well as a faithfull Minister in a Pulpit doth; I mean not that they doe it from right principles, or doe it according to rule, but de facto, they doe nothing but what Christ will have done, as the Iews and Romans did in crucifying Christ, when they hung him upon the crosse, they did nothing, but what the Lords counsell had determined to bee done before * the foundations of the World were laid; Nay I adde in the last place, to strengthen you, that as they work all of them the Lords work; So
The Lords work & design is, the good of his Church, the calling, the purging, the preserving, the building, and nou∣rishing, * and growth of the Church, is all the work that Je∣sus Christ hath to doe, when that is done, the world ends, and he resignes up the Kingdome into his Fathers hand; now certainly if we can beleeve all these things, may not our hearts rest quiet? May not wee (if wee be ingaged in a good cause, may not wee I say) with comfort and confidence, put it into the Lords hand, and let him doe what hee will? I am perswaded the ground of all the diffidence and discouragement that is found amongst the people of God this day, arises from their ignorance of the interest of Jesus Christ in these publick affaires, and I know also that to those men that are but Politicians, and carry carnall and worldly designes of their own, such a lesson as this can be of no use, nor stay to them, for Je∣sus Christ is against them; but for those that have a spi∣rituall eye, and would bee glad to have some prop to lean upon, this may stay and quiet their hearts; they may comfortably set down this conclusion, their Adversary may have great power and strength, but the Church hath Immanuel; they have the wealth of the World, Page 31 the Church hath the wealth of Immanuel, the wisdome, care and goodnesse of Immanuel; they have the whole world to joyn with them, but we have Jesus Christ with us, and that's more; non est consilium contra Dominum; there is no counsell, nor strength against the Lord: there∣fore stay, and quiet your hearts with these things, espe∣cially this might stay us against our feares of having this tender plant of Reformation blasted and spoiled by the many enemies who oppose it, it hath been Christs ordi∣nary way to let his enemies set against his worke, when its but a tender plant, when in all likelihood it may bee most easily spoil'd, and he orders it so purposely to make men see and know that when they have vented their ut∣most rage, and done their worst, hee will carry it on in despight of them. I conclude this use in the Prophets words in this place, Sanctifie the Lord in your hearts, fear not mens feare, looke to Christ, even though hee hide his face, one word spoken by him, can and will in due time quiet all these stormy waves: and then Thirdly, with which I will end, This lesson is applyed here by the Prophet likewise,
For duty, therefore saith hee, Bind up the testimonie,*and seale up my Law amongst my Schollers, and when any say to you, seek to Witches, or Wizzards, or they that have familiar Spirits, goe not after them; but hold to Im∣manuels testimony, the plain meaning of it: is this, that because the salvation and deliverance of the Church from all dangers, comes onely from Immanuel, there∣fore wee should bee carefull to ingage Immanuel to us, hold close to his rules, bind up Immanuels testimonies, seale them up, that is, ratifie and confirme them, let them onely be of authority among his schollers, goe no〈…〉ayes of humane policies, use not any devillish Page 32 arts, look not succour in any unlawfull way, but hold you close to the rules of Christ, that Immanuel may own you, and you are well enough; this is the last use I shall make of it, because the Lord Jesus doth thus order all things for the welfare and good of his Church and people, therefore if we would bee safe, let us engage Jesus Christ closely, let us hold him with us, and wee are well enough; and herein Honorable and beloved, I more especially direct my speech to you that are called to be the great Councell of the Kingdome, according to my poore understanding, you never stood in more need of help, then you doe at this day, your enemies are very many, and full of rage and fury; and your friends truely, they are but few, and they divided amongst themselves, they are jealous one of another, and many of them jealous of you, and what advice, to give you, so to steere your counsels and courses, to give that satisfaction, which (I think) you would bee glad to doe to honest men, dissenting one from another; the Lord knowes I cannot imagine, what it should be, it is a hard thing to say in these difficulties, what you should doe, in the wayes of humane wisdome, to satisfie the people, and to settle and save the King∣dome; but I am sure my Text doth furnish mee with somewhat upon which I can pawn what ever is pretious to mee, and venture my everlasting comfort upon it, if the Lord direct you to take that course, you may yet save your selves, and this Kingdome, that is, hold Immanuel to you, bind up Immanuels lawes and testi∣monies, let Jesus Christ but be ingaged with you, and he hath wayes to fetch all about again, beyond what the heart of man can think of; Truly the mercy which this day wee praise God for, is a great pledge and 〈◊〉Page 33 to us, how easily the Lord could doe it, when with asmall handfull such a thing was done, and at such a season able time, when (I am confident) the Malignant enemies throughout the Kingdom, had set and appointed to have had risings in every corner of the land, (which I con∣ceive is the reason; why they so cry it down as an un∣truth, that they might hold up the spirits of them, who run in the same way) a little check to our Forces there, would probably have made evill affected men in forty places of the Kingdome to have appear'd suddenly; Now the Lord comming in thus unexpectedly, and dashing them thus easily, lets us see how soone hee can turn the stream; That you may therefore ingage Immanuel to own you, I beseech you receive this hum∣ble advice, which I give you in his Name, doe you obey his will in it, I dare promise you, he will yet be with you, and doe all your work for you.
Humble your selves deeply under that hand of God, which is gone out against you, God hath now layed you * very low; it's true, there was never Parliament of En∣gland, upon which God hath powred so many favours, so many deliverances and victories, and it's as true that there was never Parliament upon which God hath pow∣red so much scorne; the glory and honour of Parlia∣mentary Authority, seems now utterly lost, and like the lost innocent state of man, never more to be repaired, but by an Immanuel, none but Jesus Christ is able to repaire this dishonour, and reproach, scorn, and hatred, which is east upon the Parliament, now if you expect any repara∣tion from him, you must put your mouth into the dust, humble your souls, acknowledg the Lord to be righteous in all the contempt that he hath powred upon you, and that you have deserved far worse at his hands then hee hath done unto you.
Page 34 Look into your own hearts & lives, enquire whether you walk as a people whom Immanuel may bee the head and leader of; whether you be a company that Jesus Christ may take any pleasure in or delight to regard and prosper you in your wayes: Inquire whether there be not found a∣mongst you many who never knew Jesus Christ, nor any saving work of his upon your own hearts, whether there be not adulterers among you, men that keep harlots, whe∣ther there be no haters of goodnesse, unjust men, and op∣pressors, Blasphemers, and Drunkards; pardon this plaine language, you know other people talke these things, I doe not charge you with them, but I professe, if you in∣tend Immanuel should look towards you, you must look into your hearts to see whether these things be not so, if they be, labour by his strength to cast them out; by un∣fained repentance for the Lord delights not, (though he knowes how to make use of all) to blesse men that will walke in wayes so contrary to him; and
In your Parliamentary wayes if you would have Im∣manuel be with you, look that all your proceedings bee * according to the rules of righteousnesse▪ you cannot be ignorant of the reports of many, it may be some of them ill affected men, it may be some others of them through mistake have suffer'd and so are prejudiced against you, but you cannot but know that there are reports overall the Kingdom, how that in some of the Committees there is as great oppression and injustice as was ever found in the High Commission, and Star-chamber, those Courts that God hath defiled like Tophet; Make an inquiry after these things; for beleeve it, if such things be found amongst you, and that through sinfull neg∣ligence or carelesnesse, they bee not looked into, and amended, the Lord will not regard you, and you Page 35 and wee are a lost people, if Immanuel own you not: And lastly,
Looke (I beseech you) to Immanuels cause above all things else, if you would have him; own your cause, * bee you faithfull in his cause, and to this end looke back into the Vowes and Covenants you have made, into the solemn oaths you have sworn, in the time of your distresse, with hands lifted up to the most High God; remember how many promises you have made concerning Reli∣gion, in matters of Faith, Worship and Government, whether the Oaths of God which are upon you are per∣formed, and •ake into your thoughts, as neere as you can remember, the counsell that hath been given you either by the Assembly of Divines you have called to at∣tend that service, or by any other Ministers of God, whom you have called to Preach upon these solemne dayes, and know ye that what counsell from Immanuel hath been given must bee obeyed, you must not square his counsels to serve your owne designes, but all your design must bee to advance his cause and Kingdome, hee will not have any Agitators in his Army, that shall give check and lawes to him, but he will be Lord of all, or he will break all; therefore for the Lords sake, make Christs cause the cause of Religion, the cause of Wor∣ship, the cause of Justice, the cause of righteousnesse, make it yours, and promote it seriously & unanimously, and if there have been got in amongst you, any factions or divisions, any driving of parties, or siding with this or the other, because you would have your part goe well, throw them all in the dust, lay them aside, know not the meaning of being of such a party, or such a party, but with a single heart do that which Christ would have you doe, and hold to it, Vote not one thing this Page 36 day to please one party, and then another thing, another time, to please another party, but let your Rule bee the same, and your heart be right, and alwayes the same. Honored and Beloved, if you take this course, Immanuel will owne you, but if you try other wayes, hee knowes how to break and dash all your designes, all your hope is onely in him: I conclude with that speech of the Pro∣phet Azariah, 2 Chron. 15. 2. The Lord is with you, while ye be him, and if yee seek him, hee will bee found of you, but if ye sorsake him, he will forsake you, and if the Lord forsake you, ye are lost: Consider what I have said, and the Lord give you understanding in all things.