* I proceed now to the second part, the condition upon which this happines is to be enjoyed: For God is with you, while you are with him. This Adverb while implyes:
First, the duration of time, how long God will be with you, so long as you are with God; so long, and no longer: for so it is used in the very next words of the Text, If yee seek him, he will be found of you: but if yee forsake him, he wil forsake you. So David saith to Solomon,*Know thou the God of thy Fathers, and serve him with a perfect heart, and with a willing mind: if thou seeke him, hee will bee found of thee; but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever.
Secondly, While signifieth likewise the Degree and measure of Gods presence. This is, the beame by which GOD weighes out his presence, the Standard whereby he measures it; that is in what degree people are with God, in that degree he is with them. If they bee with God in outward formalities only, God will be with them in outward blessings only: Page 22 If they be with God in all things as Amaziah was, but not with a perfect heart, God will be so with them: if they be with God absolutely & intirely as Iosiah, and Da∣vid, and Hezekiah, &c. were with God, God will bee so with them,* fulfilling that in Isai. 26.* that the most upright God ballanceth out the wayes of the just: hee weighes out their way, and gives them a just proportion; accor∣ding to that in the eighteenth Psalme,*With the pure God will shew himselfe pure, and with the froward hee will shew himselfe froward: that is, hee will deale with men as they deale with him.
This is fully laid downe in Levit. 26. where God saith, if they walke humbly with him, hee will walke graciously to them: if they walke frowardly and stubbornly, and contrary to him, hee will walke con∣trary to them: If they vexe him seven times, hee will vexe them seven times. So in the seven Churches, when some of them had a few things for God, God would be with them in a few things. If they will have some∣thing contrary to God, hee will ever have something against them: and as their wayes are to him, so the most High God will measure out himselfe to them; and that is the Doctrine that I am to handle, viz.
*God will bee with his people to bee their glory, their portion, prosperity, and protection, just as they are with him.
Before I proceede further with this poynt, give mee leave by way of Caution to remove two or three stumbling blocks, which lye in the way of many men.
* First, when you heare, that God will bee with his people as they are with God, take heede you understand it not as some, who (that they may set up the rotten Page 23Dagon of mans free will, above the Arke of Gods free grace) doe use out of such conditionall Scriptures, to argue, that God hath an antecedent, undetermined, un∣certaine, suspended purpose of doing good to a peo∣ple, which is moved, changed, or determined, ac∣cording to the ebbings and flowings of their carri∣age towards him.
A few words may serve in this assembly: these con∣ditions shew not the moving cause of Gods presence, but describe the Subject or People with whom he is pre∣sent: the hand of the Diall makes not the Clocke to goe, but shewes how it doth goe. These Con∣ditions quicken us to our duty, and tell us upon what termes wee must look for God to bee with us, but he himselfe is not thereby limitted, but still at liber∣ty to worke in us the Condition which himselfe requi∣reth of us: Gods love of Friendship (which is his ma∣nifesting himselfe in his Covenant) we cannot expect, except we be with him; but no Law is hereby laid up∣on his beneplacitum, his free favour, whereby hee workes both the will and the deed, and causeth his peo∣ple to walke in his wayes. God gives conditions to us, but takes none from us.
Secondly, much lesse neede wee sticke at the glosse of the Papists, who out of such conditionall Scrip∣tures use to argue our performance of the condition, formally to merit Gods gracious presence, and so they will have it to bee rendred by him, not as a mercifull giver, but as a just Iudge. The Scripture is plaine to the contrary; our merit is nothing but Gods mercy: Wee grant indeed Gods presence to his people is a re∣ward of their obedience; but it is a reward not of ju∣stice, but of mercy. So saith the Prophet David, ThouPage 24O Lord art mercifull, for thou rewardest men according to their works.*
Thirdly, nor yet must wee thinke, that when this Condition is required of a Nation, that it is so limi∣ted, that unlesse the universality of the people shall performe it, the rest cannot expect Gods presence with them: for that was never done, no not in Da∣vids, nor in Solomons time. But it is chiefely meant of the Princes, Rulers, Ministers, and the face of the people; whose wayes (whether good or bad in re∣gard of Gods nationall proceeding with them) are e∣ver interpreted to bee the wayes of the whole body. These blocks removed, I returne to the Lessou, viz. That God is with his people while they are with him, in the sense before given. For the making this more pro∣fitable, I shall endeavour,
* First, to shew you what in the Scripture language the being of a people with God doth implie.
Secondly, to make application of it to our selves.
* First, what is it for a people to be with God.
* I must shew first Negatively, what it is not. Secondly Positively, what it is. First, Negatively, it is not bare∣ly to beare Gods Name, and to bee called his people; It is not meerely to draw neare to him in the externall performance of certaine duties: It is not to hang down the head like a Bulrush for a day,* though in fasting and prayer: It is not to bring thousands of Rammes, and ten thousand rivers of Oyle* before God. You know many, and many people have done all these things, yet God hath protested, they were not with him, nor hee with them.
* Secondly, positively and affirmatively what it is.
It implyes these three things.
Page 25* First, to bee a holy people a Ieshurun, a righteous Nation, to be those that undertake the counter-part of the Covenant, that as God makes himselfe over to be their God, and their portion,* so they deliver themselves up to him as a people renewed and sancti∣fied, to become his portion. That is a chiefe thing which the Scripture alwayes meaneth, when it speaks a people to be with God, that they must be a holy people, separated from all iniquity unto God, as was cleerely and largely opened in the morning. Read over all the booke of God, and you shall never finde that a people are said to come home to God, but when they put a∣way all their abhominations, threw away all their lusts and Idolls to the Moles and to the Bats,*loathing and detesting themselves for them,* being as the Doves in the valley,* every one mourning for their owne iniqui∣ties, fully determining and resolving never to returne to them any more. And indeed if this be not done, it is impossible for a people to be with God, or to endure God to be with them: For God is a devouring fire to wicked men; and all wicked men to him are as Straw, Hay, Stubble, and Waxe, which the nearer they are brought to the fire, the sooner they are devoured. Therefore you shall read that the nearer wicked men have at any time beene brought to God, the greater their misery. And for my owne part, I question not but if an ungodly man should bee lifted up into Hea∣ven, where God most manifesteth himselfe in glory, he would there be most miserable. Clemens Alexandrinus speaks of a Temple, upon which was written, No un∣holy thing must come neare this place. This is Gods very inscription. Hab. 1. 13. Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evill, and canst not look on iniquity.
Page 26 Look over all the Epistles in the new Testament, and you shall finde, that however the externall profession of Christianitie admits men to the external priviledges of Gods presence, yet unlesse they be inwardly renew∣ed and sanctified, there is no being nigh to GOD, Iames 4. 8. Draw nigh to God, and hee will draw nigh to you: Cleanse your hands yee sinners, and purge your hearts, &c.
This is most cleare in that great worke of mans Redemption by Iesus Christ: when God had created man holy and righteous, God delighted to bee nigh unto him: but so soone as iniquity was found in him, there was a wall of separation built, and a gulfe made, that never could bee filled up, till the Lord Iesus Christ by his infinite sufferings did it: And when that worke is done by Christ, the Lord will not com∣municate his Christ to any soule in the world, but upon these absolute termes, (and God hath sworn that it shall be so) that so soone as he hath delivered them, and brought them neare to himselfe, in calling them to participate that Redemption, they should serve him in holinesse and righteousnesse all the daies of their life.* This is the first thing, they must bee a holy people.
* Secondly, to be with God, is to be true worshippers of him, maintaining the purity of his Ordinances from Idolatry and Svperstition. This is abundantly proved Hos. 11. 12. Ephraim (saith the Lord) compasseth me. One would have thought that Ephraim was neare to God, when he compassed him: but saith God, Hee compasseth me with lies. What is that? with Idolatry, for it is usually expressed in the Old Testament, that Idols are lies, and lies are put for Idols: as in Isa. 49. 20. Page 27Is there not a lie in my right hand? Thus Ephraim (that is the ten Tribes) compasseth me, saith the Lord, but Iudah remaines faithfull with God, therefore hee ruleth with the Saints. What was Iudahs faithfulnes? it was her keeping of the marriage Covenant with more care; when in Hezekiahs time (to which the Pro∣phet referreth) Religion was reformed and advanced, then Iudah was faithfull with God. For the more full understanding of this second branch, let me commend one observation to you concerning all the Kings of Is∣rael and Iudah after Solomons time; the Scripture sets downe a character of every one of them, that all the world might know what judgment God had of them. You shall finde that of all the Kings of Israel (though there were some very brave men, yet) there is not one of them that God acknowledged to have walked with him, because they were all Ieroboamites, worshippers of the golden Calves. And when hee speakes of any King of Iudah, hee ever singles out one thing as the chiefe matter of his commendation; and that is, how he stood affected in poynt of Religion: Such a man was upright with God: the meaning is, all his dayes he maintained Gods worship. And yet let mee tell you some of their moralities were no better than they should be. Asa in the Text was a cholericke passionate man, and covetous in his old age, and many other weaknesses were found in him; yet because hee went through-stitch in the reformation of Religion, Asa's heart was said to bee upright with God all his dayes. With this God useth to cover all their infirmities as with a veile.
But if any of the good Kings did but halt in this poynt, God hath left it upon record, as a blot upon Page 28 their honours, therefore are they blamed, if (through their default) the high places were not taken away, though the Idolls set up in those places were removed. And in the new Testament, throughout all the time of Anti∣christs apostasie, the true Church of Christ, that walked with him aright, are described by this Character, that they are a virgin company, not defiled with women;* that is, they were never guilry of the spirituall pollutions of that Apostaticall Church of Rome. This was to be with the Lamb, and to follow him wheresoever he goeth. That is the second, to keepe close to God in his worship.
* Thirdly, to be with God, is to be on Gods side; to be engaged in Gods cause, to appeare in those things wherein God looks that all his friends should stand for him. When the Levites would know neither Father nor mother, but slay every man his brother, or compani∣on, or neighbour,* that they might avenge Gods quar∣rell; this was to be on Gods side.* When Elias was zea∣lous for God, at a time wherein all the Kingdome (as he thought) played the Apostates: when Phinehas goes with his Javelin,* and executes vengeance on Zimri and Cosbi, when men stand in the gap;* when (in a word) a people are for God and his cause, as Ie∣hoshaphat said hee was for Ahab, I am as thou art, and my people as thy people:* My horses as thy hor∣ses, and my Chariots as thy Chariots, this is to bee with God.
And indeed, if this be wanting, people cannot be in∣terpreted to bee with God, because God is not acknow∣ledged in his due place, unlesse they bee for him with all their hearts, and with all their soule, and all their strength, when he hath most neede of them. If a woman will doe many things for her husband, Page 29 yet if her heart goe more after her Puppets, her cloaths, her servants, than after him, especially in times of his necessity, her heart cannot beeinterpreted to be with her husband, because he is not acknowledged in the due place of an husband. So if there be any thing, any cause, any person, that we rather ingage our selves for, than for God and his cause, wee cannot be said to be with God.
So now you have the meaning of the Condition of enjoying God, while yee are with him: It is,
- 1 To be reconciled to God, and to walk with him as an holy people.
- 2 To continue with him in the purity of his worship.
- 3 To stand by him in every cause, which doth con∣cerne his glory.
The deductions which might flow from this Do∣ctrine for our use are many; I shall confine my selfe to these two, as being most sutable and seasonable to the time, and your worke.
First, matter of Humiliation, and mourning before God for time past.
Secondly, matter of Duty, for time to come.
* For the first, Honourable and beloved, you stand this day before the Lord to afflict your soules, and (though you bee the chosen men of your Tribes, lifted up above your brethren) yet you are now called, not onely to bemoane your owne iniquities, but to beare the iniquity of the whole Kingdome. And (me thinkes) I looke upon you, as upon the Prophet Ezekiel,* when he was to beare the iniquity of the house of Israel and Judah, hee was to lye upon his side, and to eate his bread made of Wheate, and Barley, and Beanes, Lentiles, and Fitches, miserable Page 30 coarse bread, and baked with the dung of man, and to drinke a little water for many dayes together. How sad and heavy the Prophets spirit must needs be when he was thus to beare such a burthen, is easie to judge. Such a temper of spirit would this day well become you. And now could I but speak to you from the Lord how sad things there are against England, in this point of not being with God, could you with patience and grace heare me; and would the Lord affect my heart and yours in handling and hearing of them, we should make this place a Bochim, a place of weepers, the stou∣test heart would be as Queene Huzzab, and her Ladies,* when they went into Captivity, tabering on their breasts, and mourning as Doves, yea howling after the manner of Dragons. Could I, as in a mirrour, set before your eyes, how infinitely farre off the body of this Kingdome is from being with the Lord, we should wonder that the Lord hath not wholly forsa∣ken us long agone; and that instead of injoying this li∣berty of pleading with God for our lives, for our Prince and Countrey, and for whatsoever is precious to us, we are not left like unto Sodom, and made like unto Gomorrah. Take a view of all the three particu∣lars mentioned in the point.
* First, are we an holy people? (I am now pleading Gods cause, and though a poore unworthy man, I stand betwixt God and a Kingdome) I aske again, are we an holy people? Are our Princes, our Rulers, our Magistrates, our Ministers, and the body of the people holy? Doe wee walke according to the rules of Christianity, the summe whereof for the practicall part is laid downe in the ten Commandements, and those expositions that our Lord gives of them? Doe Page 31 we walke thus? I know there is no man here so igno∣rant as to imagine that we doe. Alas! the Prophets speech too well befits us: Ah! sinfull Nation, a peo∣ple laden with iniquity, a seed of evill doers, Children that are corrupters: The whole head is sicke, the whole heart is faint: from the sole of the foote, even to the head, there is no soundnesse in it, but wounds, and bruises, and putrifiedsores.*Aegypt was never more bespread with Locusts and Frogges, than our Kingdome is with hor∣rible prophanenesse, uncleannesse, oppression, deceit, and whatsoever is a stench in the Lords nostrills. The generality of people wearing indeed the Lords Live∣ry, (being Christned) and doing the Devills work all the yeare long. Nay, is there any thing this day so ha∣ted, as holinesse? have we not gotten termes to scoffe down all goodnesse? is not almost every man who will not sweare and be drunke, and be deboyst as a Turke, or worse, cryed downe with the odious name of a Puritan? That as Ambrose said of Paulinus, a yong noble man of Rome, at whom when he was conver∣ted to Christ, and left the worlds glory, to carry Christs Crosse, there was more wondring than if a Mule had cast a Foale. And as Bede said of the anci∣ent Britaines, immediately before their destruction by the Saxons, that they were come to that height of wickednesse, as to cast Odium in Religion is professo∣res tanquam in adversarios. God knowes many thou∣sands are guilty of the same in this Land, this day: the measure of our iniquity seemes to be more than full. O that our hearts could this day bleed for it!
* Secondly, see what wonderfull cause wee have to bee abased for all the injury the Land stands guilty of, in abusing God in the poynt of his Worship, which is Page 32 the defiling of the marriage bed betwixt God and his people. God hath visited all the Reformed Churches, brought most of them almost to nothing: yet, passe o∣ver and see, whether ever any of them have provoked the Lord in this kinde so much as wee have done. Let mee name foure or five things, too much practised, and too little lamented: God in mercy affect our hearts with them this day.
First, the Articles of our faith, the depositum, the good thing committed to us, which we received from our fore Fathers; and should transmit entire to our posterity: oh the miserable defection that wee have made from God, adulterating thereof! Tell mee, be∣loved, what one poynt, what one Article of Faith con∣troverted betwixt us and the Church of Rome is there, that our Pulpits, and Presses, and University Acts have not beene bold withall? as if we were weary of the Truth which God hath committed to us: as if in∣deed, for our not receiving the truth in love, God were giving the Nation up to believe lies.
Secondly, let me instance in the Lords Day; a day which is a signe betwixt God and his people, that He is their God that sanctifieth them. That as Idoll-worshippers are knowne by keeping holidayes to their Gods: So Gods people are knowne to bee his people, by observing of his Holy day.
It is most true, that our ancient Doctrine establi∣shed is purer in this poynt than can be found in most of the Churches, and excellent Lawes we have for the backing of it: but I believe there hath not beene in all the Christian World such high affronts offered to the Lords day, as of late hath beene in England, and (I am confident) they all lie in the Deck charged, as the sin of Page 33 the Nation, till by some publicke Act, the fourth Commandement bee restored to its due place and honour.
Thirdly, goe to another branch, the poynt of preaching the Word. The preaching of the Word is the Scepter of Christs Kingdome, the glory of a Na∣tion, the Chariot upon which life and salvation comes riding: such a treasure as that any wise Merchant would sell all to buy the field wherein this Treasure lies. O that God would humble England for the great abuse of this invaluable mercy! What little care hath the State in general taken to provide that Christ might ride in Triumph upon his white horse? that the Word of God might spread into every corner of the Land? But, oh the cruelty that hath beene offered to many poore Congregations, in taking away the bread of Life from their mouthes, without any pitty! as if the starving and murthering of soules, for which Ie∣sus Christ shed his blood, were a matter of no mo∣ment. And oh, the spoyle, and havocke that hath beene made among many faithfull and painfull Ministers, for such trifles as will not endure try∣all in the day of the Lords appearing? Could wee as in a mirrour, behold the great guilt wee lye under for these things, and apprehend what great wrath is kindled against the Kingdome for them, how would our hearts tremble before God this day?
Fourthly, but above all, the extreame daring, bold audaciousnesse of a generation of men, that have ad∣ventured as much as in them lies, to corrupt Gods worship, that not onely rejoyce to see the Idola∣trie, and superstition of Rome practised by others, Page 34 but have dared to set their thresholds by Gods threshold, and to dresse out all Gods worship, according to their owne fancies, things too apparent to need any further proofe.
It may be some may think, this is no great matter, and much complaint need not be made against it: a few distinctions will salve all that is done to quit it from Idolatry, and superstition. But as Lodovicus Vives saith of the Papists in his dayes, that for ought he saw, they (in effect) gave the same reverence to their Saints, which the Pagans did to their gods: So I may truely say of these men, (that notwithstanding all their distinctions) little difference is to bee found be∣twixt their practise, and the superstitions and Idola∣tries of the Church of Rome.
Will some say, let it be granted that men have been too blame, (as doubtlesse multitudes have been too bold) in this kind, yet God forbid, that we should judge so farre, as to make them as odious to God, as if they were the bringers of Gods wrath upon the Nation, as if they were as bad as whoremongers, or blasphemers; or that we should offer to compare them with the grosse Idolaters of the Church of Rome: God forbid such a staine should bee cast upon them. Thus some men draw a fine veile over these foule enor∣mities.
Good Lord, that the glorious light of the Gos∣pell in eighty two yeares, should not take away this filme from the eyes of men! Judge you the case, you that are husbands, you that have a spirit of jelousie, bee yee Arbitrators betweene the Lord and this Generation; and say, if a wanton looke in your owne wife, if a whorish dresse, if the giving, or receiving of Page 35 love tokens, if the least degrees of dalliance would not render your owne wife more abhominable to you, than the knowne fornication, or adultery of any other woman whatsoever? Doe you not know that the Church of Christ is his Spouse? * Do you not know that God is more easily provoked by a people among whom hee walkes, than by any other peo∣ple whatsoever? I beseech you lay these things to heart.
And let the remembrance of this day, helpe you in it. This day eighty two yeares agone, the Lord set up the Gospell among us, and tooke us to be a nation in Co∣venant with him. Oh the progresse that some nati∣ons would have made! The thankfulnesse and fruit∣fulnesse that some people would have attained to in so long a time! but that wee should grow worse and worse in poynt of Gods worship, that we should han∣ker after Idolatry, and Superstition, and fall away worse than any of our neighbours, that God hath visited so severely: what shall wee say, when God comes to reckon with us for these things?
Fiftly, adde the horrible prophanation of the holy Sacrament of the Lords Supper, the promiscuous multitude every where, not onely allowed, but even compelled to the receiving of it: Multitudes of whom, know not whether Christ were a man or a woman, nor how many Gods there be, multitudes wallowing in all prophanenesse and licentiousnesse; yet if they professe that they be no Papists, almost every where they are admitted to the polluting of these reverend Mysteries, as if we would compell the Lord to de∣part away from us.*
* And then, if we should take in the third branch of Page 36ingaging ourselves in Gods cause, how little zeale is there for God? The wrongs and cruelties that are done to many, the teares of the afflicted, and oppres∣sed; and so few that will open their mouths, or appeare to plead any cause which GOD will owne, abundantly proclaimeth this. Verily, belo∣ved, were you all as innocent as Ezra* was of the fact among the Iewes, of the wretchednesse of the people of Israel: If you did know what God looks for at your hands this day, you would rent the very Caule of your hearts before the Lord, and sit downe with him astonished, and refuse to be comforted, and wonder that GOD hath not whol∣ly left us, and delivered up our glory as a spoile, and severely revenged the quarrell of his Cove∣nant.
But to come nearer yet, and bring it home in∣to your owne bosomes; what if you your selves bee guilty of these things? You that are the flow∣er of your Tribes, the chiefe of the Thousands of England; You that are lifted up above your Brethren, whom GOD hath made the Head, and not the Taile of the places where you live, when GOD might have left you to be hewers of Wood, and drawers of Water. And hee hath made some of you Noblemen, some Knights, and Gentlemen, and now called you to bee the Repairers of our breach, to heale and prevent our ruine. What if you your selves have a chiefe hand in these trans∣gressions? What if among you be found swearers, cur∣sers, adulterers, drunkards, haters of Gods waies, scorners of his Children, and his Ordinances, men who goe on in your sinfull wayes, and resolve to Page 37 doe so: and because you are great, will therefore bee children of Belial, refusing to carry Gods yoake: what if any such should be here? The Lord of heaven forbid. But if there should be any such, I beseech you thinke what a Magor-mizzabib, what a terrour round about you there will be, when God comes to find you, and to reckon with you!
Are you come to Fast, and Pray before the Lord? Doe you come to stand betwixt God, and the Na∣tion, when you wallow in such wayes as GODS soule abhorres? Doe you such things as are re∣bellion against God, and pull downe his vengeance on us? Doe you call this an acceptable Day? Doe you thinke the LORD will accept of any service at your hands? Be ashamed, and confoun∣ded, and never rise up till GOD have broken your hearts, and spoken peace to you in the bloud of CHRIST. Let deepe humbling thoughts for these things, bee now to your soules as those bitter Hearbes wherewith the Israelites of old did eate the Passeover. But if you make nothing of all this, but will goe on carelessely, and walke contrary to God, God will walke contrary to you, the Lord will not be with you. This is the first use for Humi∣liation.
* Secondly, I adde but another of Exhortation, and I have done: (I beseech you pardon the Liber∣ty, which your call gives mee, I were unworthy ever to speake more, if I should not now speake freely) You stand all this day before the LORD, and have beene exercised in the Duties of Fa∣sting, and Prayer: I beseech you tell mee in Gods presence (or rather answer GOD in your Page 38 owne hearts) what was the thing you propounded to your selves? was it to keepe a day for Formality? because it is now a received thing in England, in the be∣ginning of a Parliament to keepe a Fast? Or was it, that by hanging the head as a Bulrush for a day, you might expiate your sinnes with God, and take a new Ticket to sinne againe? As it was said of Lewis the eleventh, that hee would kisse his Crucifix when he had done evill, and then God and hee were friends, and he might goe on in his old way againe. If it bee so, expect a sad reckoning for this dayes worke: you deale with a God that will not be mocked by the grea∣test of you.
You shall reade in Ezek. 14. divers of the Elders came to the Prophet to inquire of God. These men, saith God, have set up their Idolls in their hearts, and they come to enquire of mee: Tell them I will answer them with a witnesse, I will set my face against them, and make them a signe, and a Proverb. So I say, from God to the greatest of you, who brought your sins in the morning, and purpose to returne to them in the evening, and keepe such a solemne day onely for a formality, and there an end, God will reckon with you for it.
But if you desire indeed to meete God, and to bee with God, that God may be with you, then weigh what I shall say from the Lord; and if it appeare to bee his will, then (as you were taught in the morning) draw it up into a Covenant; Covenant betwixt God and your soules, come, and receive the Sacrament upon it, and lye at Gods feet to obtain grace for performance. My exhortation shall be answerable to the three bran∣ches of the Doctrine.
Page 39* First, resolve every one of you for his owne part to turne to God, to cast out all your abhominations, never to turne to any of your wicked wayes from this day forward. It may bee this motion seemes harsh, and will not easily downe: (because in our wretched dayes, as the Turks use to account all fooles to bee Saints; so men with us account all Saints to be fooles.) But this must be done; necessary things fall not under deliberation. To live in hell you would not; to live with God you cannot: hard it will bee to be damned; impossible it will bee to bee saved, unlesse with full purpose of heart you turne to God, and become new creatures. I must say to you as the Prince of Orange said to his souldiers at the battaile of Newport, when they had the Sea on the one side, and the Spaniards on the other: If (saith he) you will live, you must ei∣ther eate up these Spaniards, or drinke up this Sea; So must you, either conquer your lusts, eate up the Spaniards, or drink up the Sea, the devouring Gulfe of Gods wrath: and none of you know how soone this time may come, that will yee, nill yee, yee must be be brought neare to God, who is a devouring fire, utterly to consume you, if you be Straw and Stubble, or to glorifie you if you be Gold.
The Pagan King of Niniveh saw this, that without turning every man from the wickednesse that was in his owne hands, there could bee no hope of escaping the wrath of God. And therefore you who are Christi∣ans cannot expect that God should be with you in any thing that you take in hand: till this bee done, God will not onely loath you, but the works of your hands also.
First, such as cleave to the purity of his worship in your owne practise.
And then in your great Counsaile, bee yee purgers and preservers of our Religion. Looke throughly what is amisse, and pluck up every plant that God hath not planted; throw to the Moales, and to the Bats, every ragge that hath not Gods stampe and name upon it. That it may be said of this Parliament in matter of Religion, as it is said of Josiah, There was never any like him before him, nor any after him. So there was never any Parliament before this, nor ne∣ver any after it, that followed the Lord with all their heart, and all their soule, and all their might, according to all the will of God.
* And to provoke you, give mee leave to give you a briefe view of the hedge that God hath made about the second Commandement. The intent of that Com∣mandement is, that Gods people should worship him with his owne worship, and his owne ordinances, and never dare to tender to him the devises, and tradi∣tions of men for a homage. Now the Lord knowing the itch, and pronenesse in men to be tampering in the worship of God, to set their thresholds by his thre∣shold, hath set such a hedge about it, that if a man did consider it seriously, hee could not but admire that ever mortall man should dare in the matter of Gods worship, to meddle any jot further than the Lord himselfe hath commanded: it standing like the Che∣rubims, and the flaming Sword, which turned every way to keepe the way of the Tree of Life.*
* First, he is a jelous God, as if hee should say, the matter of my worship is to mee as the marriage bed; Page 41 and I am a Husband easily provoked to jelousie, which is *the rage of a man, and will accept no ran∣some.
* Secondly, all such are said to hate God, I will visit the sinnes of them that hate mee. They all pretend that they are lovers of him. They that made men kisse the Calves, yet would have them sweare Ieho∣vah liveth. Jeroboam pretended nothing but respect to God, and to Gods people, when he set up his Calves: so these men pretend reverence and veneration to Gods Ordinances: but God protests that they all hate him, which may appeare by the odious names hee gives to their sinne, calling it sometimes Rebellion, as being a denying his Soveraignty, Iosh. 22. 16. 22. Sometimes Apostasie, Ier. 2. 13. Sometimes Adultery, the most unpardonable sinne betwixt man and wife, Ezek. 16. And sometimes Blasphemy. Isai. 65. 7.
* Thirdly, it is a sinne that hath vengeance, and pu∣nishment intailed upon it to the Third and fourth ge∣neration. The Iews say to this day, that there was never any calamity betided their Nation, since their com∣ming out of Aegypt, but there was an ounce of the Golden Calfe in it. It is a sinne that GOD failes not to visit upon Children, to the third and fourth Generation.
* But now on the other side, God will shew mercy to thousands of them that love him, and keepe his Com∣mandements. How is that? The Lord interprets them to love him that purely worship him. As a man who finds his wife faithfull in the marriage bed, judge∣eth that shee loves him, and that her heart is one with his, what ever other infirmities shee may have. Yea, they are interpreted to keepe all his Comman∣dements. Page 42 God will trust them for all his Comman∣dements, whom he finds faithfull in his worship: Yea, to a thousand Generations, hee will remember them, which is longer than this wicked world shall stand. The kindnesse and faithfulnesse of them that maintaine and preserve the pure Religion and worship of God, shall ever bee in the sight of God for them and their posterity.
Oh! let mee helpe your reckoning in the day of the LORD, intreating you for the Childrens sake of your owne body,* to lay what I have said to heart, that you may provide that the Ordinances of God bee neither taken away, nor defiled, that GOD may be purely worshipped in his owne way for time to come. And that by a Generation of men, who seeke onely to glory in our flesh,* wee bee not jug∣led our of our Religion, nor mis-led in such a way of service, as that Gods soule should take no pleasure in us.
* Thirdly, and lastly, (which is the comprehensi∣on of all the rest) bee on Gods side, ingage your selves in every cause which is Gods: Owne what God ownes. As Christ said, You shall not have me alway; that is, in my person, but the poore you shall have alway, and when you will you may doe good to them. So I say, you have not Christ with you in his person: but you alwayes have his Cause, his Truth, his Ordinances, his Day, his Ministers, his Children, the Teares of the afflicted; all causes of Instice and Righteous∣nesse, these are Gods causes. God would have all his friends zealous for him, and appeare for him, his Church, and his Cause. And to inflame your hearts to this, be pleased to consider these few incou∣ragements.*
Page 43* First, God hath deservedit at your hands, that you should appeare for Him, Hee hath appea∣red for you when none could: His Sonne Iesus Christ gave his owne soule a ransome for your sinnes, or else you had perished in Hell for ever. Hee hath made you the Head, rather than the Tayle: Hee hath heaped upon you Honour, Wealth, and Friends; and you can give no other reason why you are not more miserable than the poorest Vagrant, that wants both house and home, but onely this, that GOD hath beene on your side. Doth not hee then deserve to bee owned? They say, Love is loves Loadstone, and loves Whetstone.
* Secondly, Gods Cause, his Church, and Chil∣dren, have few friends, and many enemies, and those enemies no Babies, but Principalities and Powers, Cruell, Cunning, Malicious, and unwea∣riable: And more now than ever. Satan knowes his time is short, hee stirres up all his instruments, as if one spirit possest them all. And is it not a shame, that the Lords friends should bee more back∣ward in his cause than the vassalls of Satan are in their Masters?
* I adde thirdly, the Lord to punish the Pride, Sloath, Hypocrisie, and Formality of his people, hath of late suffered the enemies of the Church to prevaile exceeding farre. The face of Christendome this day so miserably rent with Warres, Sedition, Heresies, and Schismes is a most ruthfull specta∣cle. Who can looke upon poore Germany, and not even bee compelled to weepe over the Booke of the Lamentations againe? And GOD knowes whose Lot is next: Little quiet I feare is to bee Page 44 expected in Christendome, till the Beast his Kingdome be ruined.
Now wee know that the Lord accounts that the most seasonable time for his friends to owne his cause, when the enemies are most violent against it: then God saith, Who is on my side, who? When the pressures of the Church are greatest; the opportunities of appearing for the LORD are most seasonable, and great are their Rewards who then sticke to him. Every one would glad∣ly embrace a glorified CHRIST: but when the whole Councell shall reject him; then, with Ni∣codemus to plead for him, this is honourable. When hanging upon the Crosse, his Disciples runne a∣way from him, then with Ioseph of Arimathea bold∣ly before Pilate to shew love to him, this is ac∣ceptable.
When the Jewes had an exalted Mordecay, then the people of the Land would turne Iewes. The Samaritanes would helpe to build the Tem∣ple, when the Persian Emperour is a friend to the Church: But our Lord saith, let mee have the man that will not bee ashamed of me before a froward and adulterous Generation. Marke, he doth not say in a gracious Generation (then no man will bee ashamed of him) but in an adulterous, and froward Generation.
* Fourthly, when you strike in on the LORDS side, on his Churches side, on his Causes side; you shall not onely strike in with the best side, with the best Cause, but with the most prevai∣ling; with that side which must and shall have the victory at the long runne. It would make a Page 45 man never to be afraid to be ingaged in a quarrell where hee is sure of the Victory. The Barke wherein Christ, his Church, and Cause are, may bee tossed, but can never bee drowned. Populus Romanus saepe praelio victus, nunquam bello.* The Romans lost many Battailes, but they were never overcome in a set Warre; at the long runne they crushed all their enemies. So all the enemies that seeme too hard for Christs cause, and his Church, must perish. Hee must rule, till all his enemies be made his footstoole.*
In Zacharie the 12. there are foure or five admi∣rable expressions. The Church is compared to a Hearth of Fire in the midst of a Wood. Like a Torch of Fire in the middest of a Sheafe. Whether the Wood, or the Fire, the Torch, or the Sheafe will have the victory judge yee. In verse the second shee is compared to a cup of Poyson, that will end them who thinke to devoure it. To an heavy Stone, that will returne upon those to their ruine, who en∣deavour to carry it away. So shall it bee with all Nations that fight against the Church and cause of Christ. And if any man should happen to lose his life in the Lords quarrell; as the Angell said to Daniel, Hee shall stand up in his lot:* Hee shall rise up, and follow CHRIST, cloathed with glo∣ry. Revelations the nineteenth, the Armies in Hea∣ven, that followed Christs triumphant Chariot, were such as were holy, and faithfull, and loved not their lives to the death. Would not this move any man to bee on Gods side?
* Lastly, (Honoured, and beloved in the Lord) let the consideration of your great place, and office that Page 46 God Almighty hath called you to raise up your spirits to endeavour great things for the LORD. For my part, I am too weak to fathome in my thoughts, what the great worke is to which you are called to∣gether by God. You are met to seeke the good of the Land, the good of the Church, a greater charge than the salvation of your owne soules, is put into your hands. It may bee not onely our welfare, and peace, and Religion: but even the welfare of all Christendome, under God depends upon your mee∣ting. That God that might have left you (as I said) to bee hewers of Wood, and drawers of Water, hath called you to bee Repairers of all our breaches, and the Prayers, and blessings of all GODS people are upon you. The eyes of all the Nation next un∣der GOD, and our gracious Soveraigne, are fixed up∣on you.
Oh what a mighty tye doth this put upon the soule of every one of you, to lay aside all businesse, and pleasures, and lusts, and ends of his owne, and solely to study how to advance CHRISTS cause, and appeare where Christ would have him appeare. Your work is great, our evills are many: but be not discouraged; onely rememember, that God is with you, while you are with him. As it is in Zech. 4. Who art thou, O great Mountaine? before my servant Zo∣robabel thou shalt become a plaine. If God be with Zo∣robabel, Mountaines shall become Plaines before him. God can make those things, that you apprehending as Hydra's, and Monsters would tremble to thinke of, to fall before you as the leaves of a tree.
There is a notable storie of Luther, when hee first came out against the Pope, Albertus Cranzius (a Page 47 Bishop that liked well his project, but thought it impossible to bring it to passe) wrote to Luther, Fra∣ter, Frater abi in cellam, & dic, miserere mei Deus, Frier, Frier, goe to thy Cloyster, and say, Lord have mercy upon mee, this worke is too hard for thee; yet Luther wrought wonders. One Luther will doe great things, if GOD bee with him. One Parliament may doe great things, if God bee with them.
Resolve upon it this day to bee for God, make this another blessed seventeenth of November. But if through feare, treachery, cowardise, pride, or sloth, you withdraw your selves from Gods work; Deliverance shall come to Gods people another way; and you for your part shall not onely lose your share in the comfort: but you shall bring all the guilt, and sinnes that the Nation groanes under, to stand upon your owne score before God. Yea, (you will think it is a great word; but I speake it not rashly) it may bee more guilty, than the very Authors of our mis∣chiefes, who have beene firme to their owne prin∣ciples, in the bringing of them in: and you contra∣rie to your light, and office doe further them, if you not withstand them. As hee who solicited an Empe∣rour for a pardon for one that had killed two men, and received a denyall upon that very reason, that the delinquent had twice imbrued his hands in bloud; replyed to the Emperour: Nay, you killed the se∣cond; for if hee had beene cut off for the first, hee had never killed the other. So, abundance of evills committed by private men, are not the sinnes of the Rulers and Princes at the first, but may afterwards through their connivence or want of zeale, be truely Page 48 reckoned and accounted theirs. God forbid that you should bring so great a burthen upon your own soules and consciences. Vp and be doing, and the Lord be with you in his cause.
Now although your wisedomes best know what is to be done; and it may seeme unfit to prescribe such a Colledge of Physitians a way of a Cure: Yet give mee leave onely to propound one thing (even the same which was prest in the forenoone) which I suppose would prove a Catholike remedy for all our evills, and the greatest meanes for the lengthning out of our tranquillity, and the healing of all our distempers: that is, the promoting, establishing, and maintaining a faithfull, learned, painfull, preaching Ministery: that every Candlesticke may have a Candle, that every Flocke may have a faithfull Shepheard to guide them. This is the thing I would propound to you. This was the course Iehoshaphat tooke, who sent Princes and Le∣vites, who taught in Judah, and went about through all the Cities, and taught the people.*
Blessed be God for the light that shines among us. Yet I must tell you that of nine or ten thousand pa∣rishes, which they say are in England, I believe there are many thousands, which these eighty yeares have not had the blessing to enjoy (at the least any long time) a setled, faithfull, preaching Ministery. So that I believe, (and I speak somewhat from experience) that many thousands, if not thousands of thousands, know not the right hand from the left, in the very princi∣ples of the Doctrine of Christ. What ever bee the cause, whether it bee that our Lawes and Constituti∣ons are defective: whether the negligence or corrup∣tion of our Governours; whether the want of a Page 49 preaching maintenance, or whether all these bee the fault: Certaine it is, there hath beene hitherto a 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, somewhat which hath hindred the sprea∣ding of it.
And it is worth your most diligent enquirie, whe∣ther the neglect of this hath not beene one maine cause of the ill successe of so many former Parliaments. Could you provide mercifully for people in this, you would make all safe, and England would thanke you as long as it is England.
To incite you, be pleased to consider but these two things.
First, we deserve no further the name of a Christi∣an Nation than this is done, nor any further than this is advanced. This is the Scepter whereby Christ rules: The dwelling of his Word with a people, is the grea∣test proof of their owning him for their Prince, and his acknowledging them for his owne Subjects. Is any Country esteemed a part of a Princes Dominion, that is not ruled by his Lawes? Neither can any Land be ac∣counted Chists Kingdome, where the preaching of the word, which is the Rod of his power is not established. And the Lord hath ever esteemed the hinderers of his Word, to bee the men that would not have Christ rule over them.
Secondly, if all the good Lawes in the world were made, without this, they would come to nothing; order what you can, leave this undone, you will never doe the thing you aime at. Magistrates and Ministers of Justice will not execute them, and people will not obey them. The darke places of the Land are ever full of the habitations of wickednesse.* But if Christ *smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, the Wolfe shall dwellPage 50with the Lambe, and the Leopard shall lye downe with the Kid, the Calfe, and the yong Lion, and the fatling toge∣ther, and a little Child shall lead them. There shall no∣thing hurt nor destroy, where Christs Scepter rules: Your Lawes cannot give men new hearts, nor new strength; that is the priviledge of the Lawes of Christ.
The Poets speake of excellent Musitians, who by the power of their Musicke made stones leap into Walls, beasts to bee tame, &c. This will doe more, this will take the stone out of mens hearts, this will give them a new heart; this will make all the Com∣mandements easie; there is a kinde of omnipotencie in it. Ibeseech you amongst all your excellent pur∣poses for our good, let this bee the first, and chiefest: If this will not doe, nothing will: If they heare not Moses and the Prophets, they will not believe though one rise from the dead.