A SERMON PREACHED at a late Fast before the Honourable House of COMMONS.
Verily, Thou art a God that hidest Thy selfe, O God of Israel the Saviour.
THe Spring-head of this Text (as some conceive) doth arise at the sixth verse of the 44. * Chapter. Others doe fetch it as high as chap. 43. vers. 14. Thus saith the Lord your Re∣deemer, the Holy One of Israel; for your sakes I have sent to Babylon, &c. And the Streames do run downe as far as the end of chap. 48. The whole divides it selfe into two branches.
The first is a propheticall promise of the returne of the Jewes from their Babylonish captivity: That ends with this chapter of my Text. And,
The second is a Propheticall threatning of the downfall of Babylon shortly after that deliverance: This extend∣eth from the beginning of the next Chapter [Bel boweth downe, Nebo stoopeth] to the end of this Prophesie, chapt. 48. [There is no peace, saith the Lord, unto the wicked.]Page 2
In this propheticall-promisory-Chapter of my Text, * commonly three parts or heads are observed.
[unspec 1] The first sets forth the principall Instrument of this strange Gaole delivery; 'Tis Cyrus the Persian, whom the Lord doth call by name to this great service; For in∣stead of [Spacus] that is in the Median language Canis, (so called because he had been nursed by a Bitch) he is sirnamed [Coresch] by the Persians, * which amongst them doth signifie a Lord. This strange man is anointed, that is, authorised and fitted to this strange work. The fitting of him lyes in these particulars.
First, in giving Strength unto him: (wisdom and strength are for the war) The Lord doth promise to hold his hand as the Scribe doth guide the hand of his unready scholar; or rather as Elisha did put his hands upon the hands of Joash King of Israel, when he did shoot the arrow of the Lords deliverance, the arrow of deliverance from Syria, 2 King. 13.16, 17. So runneth the expression of this Pro∣phet, vers. 1. Thus saith the Lord to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, &c.
Next, the Lord doth as it were provide Pioners for him to further his march, by opening of gates, levelling of wayes, and removing all obstacles and impediments; vers. 1. I will loose the loynes of Kings, to open before him the two-leaved gates, and the gates shall not be shut, vers. 3. I will go before thee, and make the crooked places streight, &c.
But there is a third thing yet behind, and that is the si∣newes of war, a sufficient treasury for the work. This al∣so shall be supplyed, vers. 3. And I will give thee the trea∣sures of darknesse and hidden riches of secret places, &c. Thus the Lord will be in stead of Auxiliaries, of Pio∣ners, and of Treasurers, to fit Cyrus and his Armies for this great service.Page 3
[unspec 2] Secondly, in case that all these three particular pro∣mises should not be enough to steele the hearts of the Jewes to set upon this hard work, and to hold out in it; the Lord in the next place, doth proclaime all his great Attributes before them to encourage them in their way. Thus when he was to put Moses upon that great designe of bringing the people of Israel out of Egypt, Hee pro∣claimeth His Name before him, Exod. 3.14. I am that I am, thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, [I am] hath sent me unto you. The like in Exod. 6. vers. 3. where he telleth him of his great Name Jehovah, by which saith he, I was not known unto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This head of the Chapter runneth onward from the end of vers. 4. to vers. 14. It is one continued, loud, large pro∣clamation of the Lords excellencies and prerogatives royall, thereby to support their spirits against all diffi∣culties. The summe of the whole incouragement may be thus rendred; I can (saith God) and I will muster and command all things from the rising of the Sunne, and from the West, vers. 5. & 6. both light and darknesse, vers. 7. the heavens, the skies, the earth, vers. 8. All these will I mu∣ster and draw forth for this work, rather than it shall die in the birth: And as for that Potsheard, that Clay, Baby∣lon, it shall herein know my love unto Israel, vers. 9. and shall feele what it is for a creature to strive with its Crea∣tor, or for a birth to tax those parents that begat and bare it, vers. 10. This part reacheth to vers. 14.
[unspec 3] The remainder, which is the third piece of the Chapter, is a kind of twisted promise, partly respecting the delive∣rance from Babylon in the letter; and partly (according to the usual manner of the Prophets) interweaning some passages concerning Christ and spirituall redemption, in the mystery.Page 4
The words of my Text, * if you looke upon them with reference to the bordering verses, they are an abrupt Apostrophe. If you view them in themselves without that reference, they are an Epanorthosis or correction.
First looke upon them with reference to the bordering verses; * so you shal finde that this verse of my text seems not at all to be of kin to other parts of the chapter. The whole series standeth thus; The Church having heard & considered all the promises, prophecies and passages of this strange work of salvation and redemption from Babylon, how that it shall be done by Cyrus, an heathen King, an enemie to the Iewes: and observing also that there were so many crooked places that must be made streight, so many gates of brasse that must be shattered and broken in pieces ver. 2. and having further considered ver. 8. that this same righteousnesse must drop down from heaven above, as it were by a miracle; that it must come up from the earth beneath, as if it were from low and contemptible meanes: Nay fi∣nally they having also seriously pondered that this grand redemption shall be done without price and without re∣ward, as ver. 13. (and who will doe a worke without wa∣ges? who goeth a warfare at his owne costs? yet saith God) he shall build my City and he shall let go my captives, not for price, nor reward, saith the Lord of hosts Having considered all these strange curcumstances & rubs in the way, all these Meanders, these up-hills & down-hills in the passage, and having lain them together, she cryes out like one astonished, and in a kind of abrupt Apostrophe doth in∣terrupt the Prophet in his Sermon with this mixed admi∣ration twixt feare and faith [verily thou art a God that hi∣dest thy selfe, O God of Israel the Saviour] that is, whilst thou hidest thy selfe, O God, yet thou art the Saviour of Israel. Page 5Thus with reference to the bordering verses, the Text is an abrupt interrupting Apostrophe.
Next, consider the words in themselves,* and they are a kind of EPANORTHOSIS, a correction: For in the former part of the verse, the Church seemeth to trip, stumble, and stagger, at the strangenes of the manner of the pro∣phecied deliverance from Babylon; it is carried on in such an abstruse, intricate, unusuall way and method, that she cryes out as one at a losse, [verily thou art a God that hidest thy selfe] Here is her trip, her stagger, her stumble at the strange manner in the former part: But then she re∣covers her selfe againe in the latterpart to a confident per∣s•asion of an undoubted good issue or end at last, concluding certainly that the upshot will be wonderful salvation unto the Israel of God; though the maner be strange & various, yet the issue will be, shall be good and certaine: Though thou be (saith she) a God that hidest thy selfe, yet O God, I beleeve thou wilt be the Saviour of Israel. Thus she trips in the first, and recovers her selfe in the latter, and you know the proverb, he that stumbles & doth not fall, makes the more speed in his way. This is the state of the Text: So that the former part of it is a kind of musing admira∣tion at the strange manner of Gods proceeding; the latter part is a confident perswasion of the finall good issue.
If I would be curious to mince a text,* both those ge∣nerall parts might admit of a more particular anatomie. As first in that strange hidden manner of this work, there are three severall steps or degrees: and as many more (an∣swerable to them) are to be found in the certaine beleeved issue of this salvation.
In the manner is implyed,
- I. An obscurity; 'tis an [hidden God]
- 2. The willingnes of that obscurity, a [selfe-hi∣ding] God. Page 6
- 3. The certainty of both, [verily] thou art such a God.
In the issue, there is an exact opposition to all those three, both in quantity and quality. For
- 1. This hidden God was [notwithstanding] the God [of Israel.]
- 2. This selfe-hiding God was (even that while) a [Saviour.] And
- 3. The certainty, exprest in the asseveration [ve∣rily] is answered and over-powered by an admiration, in the interjection [ô] as though the mouth of the speaker had been too narrow for his heart and observation.
So much ought necessarily to be said for draining, le∣velling, and trenching the ground for a foundation. Now (not to detaine you any longer from the thing that I doe principally intend) the Observation from the whole Text and Context thus briefly explained, divided, deba∣ted, must run thus: That,
Here is salvation, because a Saviour: And so great a salvation, that it strikes the beholding Church or Pro∣phet into an admiration, they cannot expresse it without an interjection, O God of Israel the Saviour. And that this salvation is from Babylon, the whole tenour, graine and straine of the History doth declare.
Salvation is nothing else but the putting of a thing in∣to a safe condition;* and it is sometimes taken actively with respect to the Author; As Exod. 14.13. Stand still and see the salvation of God; And so I say here, the Lords sal∣vation: Sometimes salvation is taken passively, with re∣spect to the receiver; As you may reade in the Psalmist, Psal. 14.7. O that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion; And so I say, the Lords salvation of his people: Therefore both those significations are in the Position; and both those sorts may be further considered, first, with respect to their subject, whether as common, publique, or generall, respecting a whole Nation, Church or people; or as particular, private or speciall, of a place, member, or person.Page 8
Next, with respect to the object, or [materia circa quam.] So there is a salvation [in spiritualibus & Eccle∣siasticis] a spiritual, a religious salvation, that is the same with [Reformation.] And there is a salvation [in Politi∣cis, Civilibus & secularibus] a salvation in politique things, and this is the same with [Deliverance.] In this place you must take in both, Reformation and Deliverance, because both are expressed in this Prophecie, as we may gather out of Esa. 44.28. Saying to Ierusalem, Thou shalt be built; there is the Civill or politique salvation, the State-salvation, the Deliverance: And to the Temple, Tthy foundation shall be layd; there is the Spirituall and Eccle∣siasticall salvation, the Church-salvation, which is the Re∣formation.
And accordingly I shall carry on my doctrine, both in the Demonstrative and applicative parts of it, using the word [salvation] in both these acceptions, for Reformati-and Deliverance: And thus Gods great salvations of his peo∣ple, especially from Babylon, are carryed-on in a mystery.
Babylon in scripture is of two sorts.*
First, there is literal, Easterne, Asiatique Babylon. This was the Metropolis of Chaldea, & sometimes of the world. Of this we reade commonly in the Old Testament, and it is meant immediately in the Text.
Next, * there is Mysticall, Westerne, Europaean Babylon; this is Rome, the Metropolis of Italy, and it was sometimes the Queen of the Nations: Of it we doe reade commonly in the New Testament. This is also included in the Do∣ctrine.
In a Mystery] A mystery 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 and for the smoo∣ther sounding 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 doth signifie an hidden,*abstruse, secret matter, a thing shut up under bars and locks from common sense and carnall reason. It doth include these two conditions.Page 9
First, [Respectu Dei] in respect of God, it is an act or work not of his common, generall, ordinary providence; but of his particular, speciall, extraordinary power, wisdome, justice, mercy; 'tis not only the work of his hands, but of his finger; as the Aegyptian-Magitians ac∣knowledged concerning the plague of Lice (Exod. 8. verse 18, 19.) when they saw that their inchantments did faile them in that particular, they said unto Pharaoh, This is the [Finger] of the Lord. Thus in respect of the Lord, a mysterious carriage of a businesse 'tis (as Isaiah says els where, Chap. 28. vers. 21.) His worke, his strange worke, his act, his strange act.
Next, [Respectu nostri] in respect of us men, it is hard to be understood, 'tis to the common multitude as a thing locked up in a strange language, as 1 Cor. 14.2. (I may allude at least) For he that speaketh in an unknowne tongue, speaketh not unto men, but unto God, for no man un∣derstandeth (or heareth him) howbeit in the spirit he speak∣eth [Mysteries.] In short, a Mystery, is to the generality of men, a paradox, a riddle, a secret that doth require a re∣velation; as Dan. 2.28. There is a God in Heaven that revealeth secrets〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 say the Septuagint.
Thus much I meane by a mysterious carriage in ge∣nerall, viz. when a salvation is wrought out in a course, besides, beyond, or against, the beaten rode of common pro∣vidence & carnall capacities. Let us borrow but one vers. more to expresse it allusively: See, Pro. 30. verse 18. There be three things which are too wonderfull for me, yea foure which I know not: reade verse 19. the way of an Eagle in the ayre, the way of a Serpent upon a rock, and the way of a Ship in the middest of the Sea. Just such is usually the way of the Lord in carrying on his great salvations, and especially from Babylon. Let us severally consider those three comparisons.Page 10
The way of an Eagle in the Aire,] Amongst all the E∣lements, the aire alone is invisible and least palpable; it doth most easily give a passage to any naturall body, and as suddenly comes together again. Amongst all fowles of the heaven, the Eagle is accounted strongest, and there∣fore doth fly very swiftly; and being a bird of prey, her motion is exceeding various too, according to the course of the game that is before her: Who then can guesse be∣fore, or trace-out afterwards, the way of an Eagle in the aire?
The way of a Serpent upon a Rock] is no lesse hidden. Oh! how doth this creeping creature wind, wave, and weave it as she goes? what felf-obliterating chiverdils and indentures are made in her motion? Now the head doth point this way, in a moment it stands to the other hand; 'tis hard for him that meeteth her, to guesse whe∣ther or no she be comming towards him: But especial∣ly when a Serpent goeth [upon a Rocke] then there is no meanes to heare her motion as in the sand & amongst the leaves, or to see and trace it as in the dust and clay; no noyse, no impression is made to help the eare or eye of him that seeketh her way.
But the way of the Ship in the middest of the Sea] is more abstruse and uncertaine then both the former. There are three principles of variation and uncertainty in her moti∣on: First, the wind above, that bloweth where it listeth, and we heare the sound thereof, but know not whence it com∣meth, nor whither it goeth. Next, the waters beneath are the most inconstant of Elements; for (besides that they are driven of fierce winds) their own naturall ebbings and flowings, are a dayly constant inconstancy.
But (lastly) the greatest principle of uncertainty, is the minde and pleasure of her Pilot within, who at his Page 11will doth often turne her to halfe a point against the mo∣tions both of winds and waters. In short, she finds no path before her, she leaves no tract behind her, and all her movers, above, beneath, with in, are most uncertaine. Who then can know the way of a Ship in the middest of the Sea? So, not-to-be-guessed, not-to-be-traced are the Lords carriages of these kinds of salvation.
My Doctrine is somewhat like that peice of Ezekiels wheele, which he calleth [Rotam in rota] Ezek. 1.16. Their appearance and their worke were as it were a wheele in the middest of a wheele: So here is a Doctrine in the middest of a Doctrine. The first is as it were the ge∣nerall Thesis concerning Gods great salvations indefi∣nitely. The second is as an Hypothesis drawne out of the wombe of that Thesis, concerning the redemption from Babylon in particular. And accordingly I shall have an eye distinctly both in my demonstrative and applicative parts, looking upon these two, severally and apart.
First then Demonstratively,* concerning the generall the Thesis, that Gods great salvations of his people, are commonly carryed on in a mystery. O what rare Maps of saving wonders, what admirable anatomies of publique mercies could I here spread before your eyes this day! Only let us cropoff some full eares.
First observe that great preservation of old Jacob and his family by their removall from Canaan into Egypt,* in the time of the Famine: How strangely was that de∣liverance brought about! The designe was to preserve Jacob and his posterity, and to make a way for that great worke of redemption out of Egypt which followed after: But marke the method; First Joseph, who by his owne dreames and his Fathers hopes was to be the glory and prop of the family, he must be given for lost to his Fa∣ther, Page 12his brethren, himself: His Father gives him for torne in pieces, his Brethren doe sell him into Egypt for a bond∣slave, and there he is cast into prison by Potiphar after he had been first advanced. So that now not only the Fathers hopes are dead and buried, but Josephs owne faith is put to the tryall; and all this to make way for the great∣er deliverance. Doe not these things now looke like a salvation? Nay farther yet, old Jacob must be necessi∣tated by Famine to send downe into Egypt to buy food, and there he must first lose his Son Simeon; and next his dearest Benjamin must be sent and lost in his owne and brethrens apprehensions: And yet all this appeareth at last to be nothing else but a meere plot of mercy, a very ambushment of Providence for the greater advantage and advancement of the whole family, as you see in the issue. For first all the brethren of Joseph with their houshol had thereby their preservation and preferment whereas o∣therwise they had perished by famine. Secondly, Ben∣jamin who was the most hazarded and lost man amongst them when the cup was found in his sacke; he hath gotten a multiplied portion. Thirdly, Iacob himselfe (the father) he doth gaine five sonnes for one, that is, for his deare Io∣seph, whom he conceived to be lost, he receiveth the same Ioseph againe with an addition of Ephraim and Manasses; and also two of his owne sons whom he conceived to be lost, [Simeon and Benjamin,] are cast in to boot: Thus five are returned for one. This was an ambushment of mercy. And finally as for Ioseph him selfe, he must have a double blessing and portion, and is made the head of two Tribes; one of which (Ephraim) in short time after the throne was erected, did get away ten of the twelve Tribes from the Scepter of Iudah. Was not this a mystery of mysteries? Thus farre concerning the salvation of IacobPage 13and his family when they were carried from Canaan into Egypt.
But in the next place, * the preservation of the seed of Iacob in Egypt, and their returne from thence to Canaan againe, at the end of foure hundred and thirty yeares, was more admirable then their first going thither, their strange preservation in Egypt was shadowed in that Emblem of a fiery bush not consumed, Exod. 3. ver. 2. And the Angell of the Lord appeared unto [Moses] in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush, &c. a token of Israels continuance in the midst of the iron-fiery-furnace. Their salvation or deliverance was in this manner. Moses (not while he was in favour in Pharaohs Court, but) after that he was a fu∣gitive, an exile being a stammering shepherd must be the principall instrument in the work; and hee together with his brother Aaron, (another contemptible Levite) with a rod in their hands, must fetch out of E∣gypt in spite of an hardned King, and all his Magicians, (how many guesse yee?) six hundred thousand men, be∣sides a mixt multitude with women and children. Hee that can deny this to be a heape, a cluster of wonders, let himselfe be recorded for a wonder of stupidity.
Once more; a third instance, in the time of the Iudges;* See but that great salvation and deliverance of Israel out of the hand of the Midianites and their confederates; and let us cast our eye equally upon both parties, the Op∣pressors and the Delivered. First, look upon the Oppres∣sors; consider their power, their cruelty. In Iudg. 6. in the first verse you shall reade that Israel had served an apprentiship of seven yeares under their tyranny. In the 2, 3, 4, and 5. verses, you shall reade, that poore Israel was faine to run into dens of the mountaines, and caves, and strong-holds, that their fruits were destroyed assoone Page 14as they came forth; that their enemies came up as gras∣hoppers, and left no sustenance for Israel, neither sheepe, nor oxe, nor asse; and this fury still increased, for vers. 5. they came up with their cattell and their tents, and they came as grashoppers for multitude, for both they and their camels were without number. That for the enemies part. Next, look upon Israel the Delivered, and consider their power and strength. Their Generall, would you know what he was? He was Gideon, a Thresher, afterward cal∣led Jerubbaal, a man called away from the barne, from the threshing floore, Iudg. 6.16. His family poor in Ma∣nasses, and himself the least in that poor family; a man ta∣ken from the very flaile to be a Captain-Generall. And for his Forces, it is true, at the first they were a considerable number; they were (the text saith) two and thirty thou∣sand; but then the Lord falleth to lessening of them. First, he beginneth with a Proclamation, and thereupon some two and twenty thousand of them do go away. Next, the Lord hath another experiment, of lapping, and by that meanes hee sends away all the remaining ten thousand, except only poore three hundred; So that now about the hundredth part of Gideons forces is left. This handfull un∣der the command of Gideon the Thresher, must go against the numberlesse Midianites. But yet an handfull with choyce weapons, at some advantages, may do great things? True, but in the next place looke upon their Armes, both defensive and offensive, Iudg. 7.20. they were to go with empty pitchers, and lamps within the pitchers in one hand, and in the other hand they must hold a trumpet, and with blowing those trumpets, breaking the pitchers, and holding out the lamps, they shall beat the Midianites. Here is a Mystery with a witnesse; A numberlesse armie, totally routed and cut in pieces without any weapon appearing Page 15against them, broken in pieces with the breaking of pit∣chers, frightned with the sight of lamps, and utterly blown away by the sound of trumpets. This is Gods great salva∣tion carried on in a Mystery.
Yea, but what is all this to salvation from Babylon?
That I confesse is the HYPOTHESIS, * and may as strangely and fully be shewen and proved as the generall; even that Gods salvations from Babylon are carried-on in a mystery. There are two Babylons mentioned in Scripture. First, Babylon the Easterne, which was that in Chaldea, the literall Babylon; and Babylon the Westerne, which is that in Italy, Rome, the mysticall Babylon. Concerning both these, I could shew you distinctly that Gods great salvations out of them, are commonly carried-on in a mystery.
First, * concerning salvation and redemption out of the hand of literall, Easterne, Chaldean-Babylon, we find no lesse then foure whole bookes of the Scriptures spent to shew the extraordinary deliverances of Gods people from thence. Two of these books are historicall, as Ezra and Nehemiah; other two are propheticall, as Haggai and Zechariah. It would be too long for me to epitomize all the expressions of those books, and of some others, which doe shew the wonderfull mysterious carriage of that worke: Only take notice of two places to this purpose.
First, of that vision of Ezekiel, which, as I conceive, doth typifie the Jewish returne from Babylon, Ezek. 1. The whole vision is large, in it there is mention of a whirle-wind out of the North, a great cloud, a selfe-infol∣ding fire, and out of the midst thereof the colour of Am∣ber, vers. 4. Also out of the same midst, the likenesse of foure living creatures, like men, vers. 5. they had foure faces, foure wings, they had the feet of Calves,Page 16the hands of men, &c. vers. 6, 7, &c. Strange mixtures and varieties! I will only pitch upon that piece which concernes the wheeles. Those wheeles (as Interpreters con∣ceive) do signifie the Lords providence: and the motions of the wheeles, the severall acts and turnings of that pro∣vidence in the deliverance of his people from Babylon the Easterne; therefore, vers. 18. it is said the wheeles were full of eyes round about; (The eyes of the Lord do runne thorow the world) But I would especially take notice there of the [involucra providentiae] the intricate involutions and incirclings of those wheeles; it is set downe, ver. 16. Their worke was, as it were a wheele in the middle of a wheele, to signifie, the eccentricall and concen∣trical motions of that peoples return from Babylon, where Ezekiel was now a captive amongst them, as you may reade vers. 1.
But a more full and cleare place to shew the mysteri∣ousnesse of the deliverance of Israel from Babylon the Easterne, is that in the Prophecie of Zechariah. Look but upon that one Text in Chap. 1. vers. 8. I saw by night, and behold a Man riding upon a red horse, and hee stood among the Myrtle trees that were in the bottome, and behind him were these red horses, speckled and white. This Man is CHRIST; These horses with him are his Angels; and their designe is to bring the Jewes out of Babylon the Easterne, where they had lyen under Gods indignation these threescore and ten yeares, as you may reade, vers. 12. But marke how that redemption is carried in the clouds, there are no lesse then five notes of obscurity in that verse, signifying the Mysterious progresse of the worke.
1. It is said that this vision was in the [night] both in the night (that is) of adversity, and in the night of ig∣norance.Page 17Little comfort, few Prophets were left to re∣vive or direct them.
2. This man is in [a bottome] that is, obscurely placed out of sight: And as if that were not enough;
3. In this bottome he stoode among the [Myrtle-trees:] There was a grove of tall trees, in the center of a vallie; so that the Jewes might well have said unto him as here in the text, Verily thou art a God that hidest thy self. But that is not all.
4. His forces, his Auxiliaries, stoode [behind] him, saith the text, that is, they were not only covered by the valley and the myrtle trees, but they were covered by the interposition of Christs person too; they were trebly covered, with the valley, with the myrtle-trees, and with Christ that stoode before them. And
5. This [Speckling] or dapling of the horses is ob∣servable, it doth shew the interchangeable, party coloured texture of that worke; yea the red and the white with the speckled, do shew the mixture of peace and bloud that they did troop together in this worke.
But here some might object, True, true, all this is confessed, that great-salvations in generall, and in speciall those from Easterne Babylon have bin, are carried on in a mystery; but now such wonders and miracles doe cease; what is all this unto us in these times?
In the next place therefore, * I will shew that salvation from Babylon the Westerne, from Romish Babylon (that is, the salvation we are now upon] must also be carried on in a mystery.
For this purpose, first I would commend unto you a choyce text for our times, me thinks it is as a word upon the wheeles in these our dayes, 'tis Dan. 2. where you have a prophetique vision, a vision of an Image, whose Page 18head is of gold, the breast and armes of silver, the belly and thighs of brasse, the legs of Iron, and the feet part iron, and part clay; Expositors doe conceive that this foure-fold image doth signifie the foure famous Monarchies of the world: The Assyrian, the Persian (as it is commonly called) the Grecian and the Roman. Monarchies. The first three of these are past, and (without question) we are come now to the lower part of the fourth, I meane the Roman Empire is removed, and we doe see the mix∣ture of Iron and Clay, whether you take the iron and clay for the division of the Roman Empire into the Westerne and Easterne according to verse 42. And as the toes of the feet were part of iron and part of clay, so the Kingdoms shall be partly strong, and partly broaken, (or brittle;) the Easterne Empire was first broken off: Or whether you will understand a kind of compounding of succession between the Romane and the Germane Empires: Or whi∣ther (lastly) a mingling and dawbing of the spirituall and temporall (that is, the Imperiall and Papall• powers together; yet still, wee are come to the feete of the Image, and to the very toes of those feete, which are this Babylon the Westerne in its present condition; for both branches of the proper Romane Empire are withered, and the Germane Eagle was never so strip'd of her plumes as now: Yea the very Papacie of late doth shed her Pre∣laticall feathers continually: So that both Scripture∣chronologie, and common sense, do evince, that the Image doth stand at best but on tip-toe; and the time is at hand, (I conceive it is present) in which it shall be throwne downe and utterly abolished. But (you will aske me) how must it be throwne downe? by what meanes shall Gods people be delivered out of the hands of this Ro∣mane Babylon? Truely by as strange meanes as ever was Page 19reade of; See the 34. and 44. verses of the chapaer: First (in the 34. verse) Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands (here is a mystery, a stone cut out without hands, or which was not in hand) which smote the Image upon his feete which were of iron and clay; and brake them to pieces. This stone is Jesus Christ, (as Matt. 21.42.) The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner; (verse 44.) and whosoever shall fall on this stone, shall be broken, but on whoms•ever it shall fall, it will grinde him to powder. This Scripture is most exactly true concerning Christs gover∣ning in his Church, he will crush all oppositions as the potters vessels. Againe, this Stone is cut out of the moun∣taine without hands, &c. That is, the Image shall be cast downe, and the kingdome of Christ shall be set up, not by common carnall might and meanes, but in a speciall and divine manner, for so it followeth in Daniels interpre∣tation (verse 44.45.) In the dayes of these Kings (at the close of the last Empire) shall the God of Heaven set up a Kingdome which shall never be destroyed, and the king∣dome shall not be left to other people, but it shall breake in pieces and consume all these Kingdomes, and it shall stand for ever. For asmuch as thou sanest that the stone was cut out of the mountaine without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brasse, the clay, the silver, and the gold: The great God hath made knowne to the King what shall come to passe hereafter, &c. I could wish that this season∣able place of Daniel might come often into the thoughts of all our serious active spirits in these times for their in∣couragement: And the rather, * because I finde that the Jesuits themselves doe fall-in with my present interpre∣tation, so far, that they have much a-doe to make such a retreat as may seeme to excuse the Pope and Rome from Page 20the names of Antichrist and Babylon. Another vision of the foure Monarchies like unto this, is to be seene, Daniel 7.
Adde to these, that place of the Apocalyps (which is, as it were, the Book of Daniel in the New Testament) Revel. 14. vers. 6, 7, 8. there 'tis shewne that the salvation of Gods people from Babylon the mysticall, shall bee carried on in a mystery, vers. 6. And I saw another An∣gell fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting Go∣spell to PREACH unto them that dwell on the earth, vers. 7. saying with a loud voice, Feare God, and give glory to him, for the houre of his judgement is come, &c. Hereupon in the eighth verse, there followed another Angell, saying, Ba∣bylon is fallen, is fallen, that great City, &c. Fallen? why, what ayled her? What was it that threw her downe? Surely it was nothing but the Angell that did fly in the midst of heaven, having an everlasting Gospell to preach unto them that dwell upon the earth: It was meerly the preaching of the Gospell, if you will know it. So that it seemes the Lord will throw downe Babylon the mysti∣call, just as he threw downe the walls of Jericho, with an holy blast, by the breath of the Gospell; it shall be prea∣ched flat to the ground. No marvell that our Prelates were so angry with Lecturers.
Another expression of her overthrow might be gather∣ed out of Revel. 17.13, 14, 15, 16. I will but name it, because my reverend Brother in the morning hath pre∣vented me. And Chap. 18. vers. 2. where you shall find that Babylon shall be thrown down meerly by Gods imme∣diate supernaturall working upon the spirits of those men that were formerly friends and factors for the Whore: For first 'tis said, verse 13. that, these (that is, the ten hornes, which are tea Kings) have one mind, and shal give Page 21their power and strength unto the Beast. Verse 14. These shall make war with the Lambe. Here they doe unite and agree well enough to persecute the Saints: but reade on to verse 16. there they fall upon the Whore their late mo∣ther and mistresse; The ten hornes which thou sawest, these shall hate the Whore, and make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh and burne her with fire: A strange alte∣ration indeed! But how could such neare friends fallin-to such bitter enmity so suddenly? No cause at all but this, vers. 17. for God hath put into their hearts, both to unite and fall off againe.
Thus you see not onely Gods great salvations of his people in generall, but especially those from Babylon, are to be carried-on in a mystery.
But is it not strange that the Lord doth delight thus * to obscure and hide himselfe in the carriage of his great works? Would it not do better (according to our judge∣ments and apprehensions) if they were carried-on in the common rode of ordinary providence, so that every man might see them before him whilest they are a doing, as well as behind him, when they are done?
I answer, the nature of man is apt thus to reason, * as Job, chap. 13. vers. 3. and Jeremiah, chap. 12. vers. 1. did. And I could answer such questions with Saint Paul's, O homo tu qui &c.—Rom. 9.20. Nay, but oh man who art thou that replyest against God? But that I may satisfie, as well as confute, I shal adde, that there are reasons to shew that it is not only fit, but necessary, yea, triply necessary, that such great salvations (especially from Babylon) should be mysteriously carried-on. 'Tis necessary,
- 1. For the Lords greater glory.*
- 2. For his Peoples greater good.
- 3. For his Enemies greater confusion.
First, the Lord doth thus hide himself whilst he is sa∣ving, 1 for his owne greater glory. There is a cleare and full place to this particular, Prov. 25.2. It is the glory of God to conceale a thing, but the honour of Kings is to search out a matter, REM ABSCONDERE, that is, so to hide both himselfe and his worke, that men may not be able be∣fore-hand to guesse at him whither he will go next; nor yet to trace after him, when he is gone before. The latter expression, namely, [That no man might go after him] is to be found in Eccl. 7.13, 14. Consider the work of God, for who can make that streight, which he hath made crooked? And vers. 14. In the day of prosperity be •oyfull, but in the day of adversity consider; God also hath set the one over a∣gainst the other, to the end that man should find nothing af∣ter him. Marke this, [God hath set the one over against the other, to the end that man should find nothing after him] that is, the Lord doth incurvate his workes, he doth intricate∣ly and (to our apprehension) promiscuously mingle the a••s and effects of his common providence, he doth tra∣verse his ground, he doth go on, as it were, by jumps, that so the wit of man may not be able to trace and follow him, but may sit downe admiring the depths of his wise∣dome, and the strength of his power: He doth leave so much print of his foot-steps as to convince the Atheist, that he went that way, and yet so little as to puzzle the Natura∣list to find out the manner of his going.
And 'tis abundantly for the Lords glory in all his At∣tributes thus to conceale a matter. Every common Pain∣ter is able to paint a plaine piece of worke, *[Simulare cu∣pressum] as the proverbe is; to paint a tree or a bough, but hee is an Artist indeed that is able to draw forth a shadowed piece. Every indifferent good souldier is able to fight pell-mell, or upon a party, hand to hand; but he Page 23is the skilful man that is able to order an ambushment, that can manage a stratagem. Beleeve it brethren, therefore doth the Lord draw his salvations in shadowed works, that you may see the depth of his wisdome; therefore doth the Lord use to overcome by ambushments, that so the glory of his grace unto his people, and the glory of his wisdome even amongst his enemies, may be the greater. That is the first ground, for his owne greater glory.
The second ground why he carries his worke in a my∣sterie, is for the greater good of his people.2 You have so choyce a place to this purpose in the booke of Deutero∣nomy, that it alone may suffice, Deut. 8. beginning at ver. 2. And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty yeers in the wildernesse, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keepe his Comandements or no; And he hum∣bled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with Manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know, that he might make thee know, that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live: Thy rayment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy feete swell these forty yeers. God could have carried on Israel in a shorter time and in a direct way, not in such a maze and labyrinth through the wildernesse forty yeers together; he could have car∣ried them through within forty moneths: Hee could have fed them from the earth if it had pleased him, and could have preserved them so as they should never have bin straitned for want of provision, so as that the water should never have bin scant or bitter; yea that they should never have met with an enemy; these and all other hard∣ships the Lord could have prevented: But he did pur∣posely suffer these intricate abstruse difficulties to fall in, Page 24for the proving of his people, for so it followes in the 16. verse of the same chapter, He fed thee with Manna in the wildernesse, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might PROVE thee: Not but that he knew their hearts, but because they knew not their owne hearts, much lesse did others know their spirits. Alas how few of us did know our owne hearts whilst we lived in peace and prosperity in our countries and callings, un∣till the Lord by the intricatenesse of these carriages, and by the mazes of his proceedings did pumpe-up and draw forth our inward parts! Thus humbling, proving, im∣proved, and engaging, were the Lords foure grand de∣signes upon Israel: And upon the same grounds did he lead Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph at their first cal∣ling in a strange country, by extraordinary providence, to prove, and improve their graces; yea and to diet them and breath them (as it were) for greater mercies and ser∣vices. And I am perswaded that by that time God hath brought together both ends of this mysterious salvation that he is now working, every serious christian amongst us shall be able to say, that he could not have beene with∣out any one of all those obstructions and afflictions that we have met withall: Nay I am perswaded that we shall all freely conclude at last, that if we had not lost all, we had bin undone; if we had not beene plundred, we had beene beggerd; if all these mysterious abstruse diffi∣culties had not fallen in, we never had seene halfe so much of God, of our selves, of grace, or sin, reformation, as I hope we shall now discerne. But I hasten,
A third ground,3 why God delights thus to carry on his great salvations; and especially, his Babylonish re∣demption, is for the enemies greater confusion; either of their faces, or persons.Page 25
First, for the greater confusion of their faces, when God having put them in hope of winning the day, * shall out-reach and out-do them at last; when the Lord shall so befoole them, that in the conclusion they shall see them∣selves wiped out of all their hopes, this will be abundant∣ly for their greater shame and confusion of face: When an oraculous Achitophel shall find his counsell over-reach∣ed by a plaine Hushai, that is the next way to make him become his own hangman: When an insolent Haman shal see himselfe degraded by a modest godly female Esther, it is the way to make him fall downe upon the bed, and al∣most to wish himselfe dispatched upon his owne Gibbet: When a Sisera, a triumphant Sisera, shall be nailed to the ground by the hand of a Jael: When a Pharaoh and an Herod shall be beaten and eaten with lice, so that they shall be faine to stand shrugging and picking like a beg∣ger in a bush, Oh what confusion of face must this needs be, not only upon the persons themselves that do so mis∣carry, but upon all their Tribe and adherents? What grosse confusion of face (guesse we with our selves) was there to Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem and the rest, when af∣ter all their secret fraud and open force, after all their letters and machinations to hinder the building of the Temple, yet the worke was perfected at last? You shall reade in Nehemiah (Chap. 6. vers. 15.) that the wall was finished in the 25. day of the month Elul in fifty and two dayes, so that all their paines, charge and diligence came short, both their toyle and oyle was lost: Therupon, (in the 16. verse) saith the Text, It came to passe that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the Heathen that were about us saw these things, they were much cast downe in their owne eyes, that is, they knew not which way to looke, nor where to bestow their faces, but stood like so many theeves ta∣ken Page 26in the very act, casting their eies towards the ground.
O doe but guesse with your selves, doe but guesse with your selves, Honourable and beloved, when God shall bring about this present mysterious work of his salvati∣on, and put a glorious issue unto it, (for this worke must have a glorious issue) I say it again in short, when at the end of these troubles the worldly and wicked Politicians shall find themselves out-witted, the Potentates over-pow∣red, and the wealthy men out-pursed, and that all this shall be done by those whom they accounted meer foolishnesse, weaknesse, and poverty; then, then doe but guesse with your selves how will the most active, industrious and im∣pudent enemies be able to lift up their fereheads? How will they look upon one another? Surely just like a ken∣nell of hungry Curs that all the day have been hotly pur∣suing their prey or game, and at night have mist and lost it in a wood. I cannot but think with my selfe that it will be worth all the paines and cost that an active man shall lay out in this work, but to see that Babel, that confusion of tongues and faces, that will befall the enemies at last. A shadow of this confusion of face and language you find prophesied in Revel. 18. vers. 15, 16, 17. The Merchants which were made rich by her, shall stand afarre off, weeping and wailing, and saying, Alas, alas, that great City that was clothed in fine linnen, and purple, and scarlet, and decked with gold and precious stones, and pearles, for in one houre so great riches is come to nought. And vers. 19. They (that is, the Kings of the earth, the Merchants, the Ship-masters, and saylers) cast dust on their heads and cryed, weeping and wailing, saying, Alas, alas, that great City wherein were made rich all that had ships in the sea by reason of her costli∣nesse, for in one houre she is made desolate. Thus God doth it for the greater confusion of the faces of his enemies.Page 27
Or, secondly, if they want so much modesty as to be capable of confusion of face, * yet these hidden carriages shall work for the greater confusion of their persons: they shal be the more utterly confounded by these mysteries. If the men of the old world will be so impudently wicked, as not to blush at Noahs preaching & building, they shal wade knee-deep in the floud to begge admission into the Arke, but not obtaine it. If the King of Egypt and all his Gipsies will be so shamelesse as to dodge ten times with the Lord, they shall at last cry and fly against the return∣ing seas, and all in vaine, Exod. 14.26. So that all the Meanders and intricate carriages of the work until then, did but ripen them for greater personall confusion: Had Pharaoh come in upon the first summons (the first mira∣cle) or upon the second or third, the man might have sa∣ved his life, and perchance his Kingdom; but therfore the Lord will suffer him to be baited on with a kind of vicis∣situde of losses and victories, that all this might harden his heart, and the hearts of all his Magicians, desperately to plunge themselves into the bottome of the sea, where they might be slain and buried at once.
This very ground [for the enemies greater destruction] is hinted in this same Prophe•ie of Esay, chap. 44. ver. 25. Saith hee, Hee fru•trateth the tokens of the lyars, and maketh diviners mad, he turneth wisemen backward, and maketh their knowledge foolish. Marke, hee carrieth his worke so mysteriously, that hee might frustrate the to∣kens of the lyars, that is, of those that were so confident upon some poore petty successes and victories which they had obtained against the people of God, that (ther∣upon) they durst to divine, and promise unto their party a totall, finall, speedy conquest. Now when God shall turne all about again, in a time, in a way, where they loo∣ked Page 28not for it, doubtlesse such a strange surprisall wil put them into the condition of the men of Ai when they were encompassed by Ioshua's Stratagem, Iosh. 8.20. They had no power to flee this way or that way, vers. 22. They were in the midst of Israel, some on this side, and some on that side, and they smote them so that they let none of them re∣maine or escape: And all this was done by a Stratagem, for before in vers. 15. Ioshua and all Israel made as if they were beaten before them (of Ai) and fied by the way of the wildernesse.
Thus you see it is a necessary and rationall truth, that the Lord doth thus carry-on his great salvations, viz. for his owne greater glory, for his peoples greater benefit, and for his enemies greater confusion: Therefore it is not out of want either of power or wisdome, but out of a transcendency of both that he doth order his deliveran∣ces in such a manner. So much may demonstrate the Thesis or generall part. But,
Secondly, if you demand a particular reason for the Hypothesis, viz. Why salvations from Babylon are also carried in a mystery? I answer, that there is a speciall ground for this branch also. And it is this in short.
Our Babylon (I meane the westerne) was raysed in a mystery, and therefore it is good reason that it should be throwne downe in the same manner. In the 2 Thess. 2.6. You shall find that Babylon is built up in a mystery; The mystery of iniquity doth already worke.
That noble Frenchman throughout his Mystery of Ini∣quity, * gives us a sufficient commentary upon this text, by discovering the parts of that mystery, shewing the Pede∣gree of Antichrist, and how he hath gathered his stoln fea∣thers together, of which when every bird shall take his owne, he shall be left naked and bare.Page 29
Also in Revel. 188.8.131.52. You shall see that Baby∣lon was raised in a mystery. And the woman was arayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and preci∣ous stones, having a golden cup in her hand, full of abomi∣nations and filthinesse of her fornication. This woman is Rome, the western Babylon: And upon her forehead was a name written in Capitall Letters, Mystery, Babylon the great, the mother of harlots, and abominations of the earth. Called [Mystery] because she was raysed in a mystery; that is, she got up to her height insensibly, cunningly; her way in getting up was like the way of an Eagle in the ayre, or like the way of a serpent upon a stone, winding, and scruing it selfe onwards by degrees; untraceably; or as the way of a ship in the sea, which goeth on swiftly when she seemes to stand still. Thus Babylon was ray∣sed and built in a mystery, and therefore it is but just and proportionable that she should be cast downe and ruined in a mystery.
Nay we have an hint, yea a prophetique command that this proportion shall be observed in the ruine and de∣struction of this Babylon in Revel. 18.6. Reward her e∣ven as she rewarded you, and double unto her double accor∣ding to her workes: And verse 7. How much she hath glo∣rified her selfe and lived deliciously, so much sorrow and tor∣ment give her; that is, let her be cast downe by the same steps by which she climb'd up, both for manner and measure.
Thus you see grounds for the generall and also for the particular, * why Gods great salvations of his people and especially from Babylon, are, shall be, must be so my∣steriously carried on. The Application is the great er∣rant in which I am sent at this time. 1
Are the Lords great salvations of his people especial∣ly Page 30from Babylon, carried-on in a mystery? Then my first dose or portion shall be meerly preparatory. Let us make English of this text, by enquiring and searching whether or no the present great worke of salvation and reformation that is in your hands (for 'tis a worke of sal∣vation) be carryed-on in a mystery? What? is it a plain worke of common providence in which ordinary causes do bring forth their wonted effects and issues, without any remarkeable variation? or rather, is it not an extraor∣dinary, elaborate, shadowed Master-piece, altogether made up of Stratagems, Paradoxes, and Wonders? If thus, then comfort your selves, you may conclude it will be a great salvation, yea (as I shall shew) a salvation from Babylon. So then, the whole businesse of this preparatory use will be to enquire and imforme our selves distinctly and critically in this great question [when is a salvation carryed-on in a mystery? or, how may I know such a worke?
I answer, as Psal. 111.2. the works of the Lord are great; yet they may be sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. I shall endeavour for our direction and incou∣ragement, in these troublous times, to give some speciall evidences of an [hiding Saviour] that is of a great, Ba∣bylonish, mysterious redemption.
- 1. First when the work is carryed on SPIRITUALLY: This I shall call [supra Naturam] above nature.
- 2. When, CASUALLY; which is [preter naturam] besides nature.
- 3. When, CONTRARILY and CONTRADICTORILY [contra naturam] even against nature.
First when a work is carryed on Supra naturam [SPI∣RITUALLY] that is, 1 more by spirituall than by fleshly meanes. Thus we reade of the Jewish redemption from Page 31Babylon, Zecha. 4.6. Then he (that is, the Angel) speake and said, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerub∣babel, saying, Not by might, or armes, nor by power, but by my SPIRIT saith the Lord of Hosts. Who art thou, vers. 7. O great mountaine? It was a mountaine of rubbish that lay there (as some conceive) being the ruines of the for∣mer Temple, as Nehem. 4. verse 2. and 10. This moun∣taine must be removed ere the ground could be levelled for a foundation: But how shall this be done? Not by might, nor by power, but he shall bring forth the corner stone thereof, with shoutings, crying Grace, grace unto it. It should be done without hands, only by the word of the Lords mouth, as the Earth and Heavens were crea∣ted. But in Hag. 4. vers. 14. You shall finde a three∣fold stirring of spirits that carryed on that work: And the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel (it was an imme∣diate working upon his spirit, which neither man or de∣vils are able to reach) the son of Shealtiel, governor of Iudah; and the spirit of Josuah, the son of Josedech the high Priest & the spirit of al the remnant of the people. God moved the spirit of the temporall rulers, of Zerubbabel, that is as it were the Parliament; God moved the spirit of those of the Church, of Josuah the high Priest, and of Haggai, and Zechariah the Prophets, as it were the Assembly of Divines; and God moved the spirit of all the remnant of the people (the whole commonalty) & they came & did work in the house of the Lord of Hosts their God: It seemes it was not for wages or out of any constraint, but only because the Lord had touched their spirits and inclined their hearts to this service. So it is said of Cyrus in Ezra 1.1. The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus King of Persia, he gave the Jewes leave to build, and did affist them, and supply them with necessaries for the service. And Chap. 5. Page 32verse 1. The Prophets, Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jewes that were in Judah and Je∣rusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them: Then, verse 2. rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Ieshua the son of Iozadek, and began to build the house of God. Why, what moved them at that time above ano∣ther? Onely the Ministers preached them about the worke: As before I shewed that the wals of Babylon must be preached down, so it seemes here that the walls of the Temple must be preached up. Haggai and Zachariah doe fall to preaching, and then the rulers and the people doe fall to building.
How parallell is our case with this? Hath might or weaknesse, flesh or spirit, (I aske of your own conscien∣ces) had the greatest stroake in our greatest salvations hitherto? Have not the touched hearts, the willing spi∣rits ever bin the chief instruments? Is it not most evi∣dent that the Lord hath toucht some hearts with the spi∣rit of wisdome and counsell, as sometime he touched the heart of Bezaleel and Aholiab, filling them with his spi∣rit, in knowledge &c. to devise cunning workes, to work in gold and in silver &c. Exod. 31.2. so amongst us hath he not given an extraordinary spirit of counsell and wis∣dome into the hearts of men, even then when 'twas feared that disuse and oppression had quite worne out all the old race of true English hearts? Who had thought we had bin so rich in Parliamentary spirits, as appears this day?
Againe, others have beene as it were inspired with a Spirit of courage and magnanimity beyond president, and even unto their own admiration. Yea some like that Fabius, or like Gideon in the story before, have bin called off from meane imployments; and yet have answered great Page 33expectations in the services of warre: so that I cannot but guesse that succeeding generations writing the Hi∣story of these times will speake rather of a Creation than of a Generation of souldiers in our age.
Once more; How many Nobles, Gentry, Ministers, and people, every where are suddenly sprung up like Jonah his gourd against this hot season? men accomplish∣ed with so many graces, gifts, qualifications, for this work, as if they had bin inspired, cut out and created pur∣posely for this service? Beleeve it, these are things that deserve a most serious consideration, they do prove that the worke is carryed-on spiritually. But that is not all.
Secondly, Salvation is then carryed on in a mystery when it is carryed on [PRAETER NATURAM] I English it [CASUALLY] or accidentally; that is, thorow a multi∣tude of extraordinary accidents and casualties. By casu∣alties I do not meane the acts or effects of Pagan fortune, but the acts and effects of extraordinary and speciall Pro∣vidence; when there is a frequent confluence of such acts appearing in our salvations, this must needs be besides natures rode; for Quae casu fiunt ea rare fiunt, that is, ca∣sualties are rarities, saith the heathen, or, things done by chance are seldome done. Now when we shall see such events fall in frequently, then we must conclude that the finger of God is there, this is not according to the com∣mon rule and rode of men.
That you may understand my meaning a little more fully in this particular, I will give you an instance of this confluence of casualties in the booke and case of E∣sther, Chapter 6. When Haman had made sure with King Ahasuerus (that is, Xerxes) for the utter extirpation of the Jewes, and that Esther had now begun another Mine Page 34to counter-worke him, see what a heape, what a cluster of seasonable casuall circumstances do happily fall in for the advantage of Esther, and the disadvantage of Haman. Thus in short.
First, in verse 1. It is said that [on that night could not the King sleepe] What night was that? Just the next night before that Esther stood engaged to break Morde∣cai's matter to the King upon the morrow, Chap. 5. vers. 8. the very night before that day, the King could not sleepe: And it was also just the night before that Haman meant to beg the execution of Mordecai. The night im∣mediatly before that these two things were to be set on worke, the King could not sleepe: why, what ayled him? we heare of no extraordinary sad tydings which were brought him that could hinder his sleepe; we reade of no distemper of body that lay upon him; then doubtlesse Gods hand was in it, therefore he could not sleepe. But that is not all.
Thereupon (secondly) he commanded to bring the booke of Records of the Chronicls to be read before him. True, we say reading and preaching will bring men asleepe though they have little disposition to it before: but al this could not incline him to slumber. This farther shewes the hand of God.
Well, thirdly, It was found written in the Booke, that Mordecai had done a choyce peece of service for the King: Found, how was it sound? How did it come to hand? did the Reader willingly turne to this place that so he might make way to ingratiate Mordecai? That is improbable, because Haman that was now the darling of the Court, was Mordecaies knowne and profest enemy: Or, what did the King command that he should turne to that place? No, that is not probable neither; because we find by the Page 35Kings next question that he did not know to the contrary but that Mordecai had bin already rewarded for this ser∣vice. How then came this about? Surely, that very God that directed the Eunuch when Philip joyned himselfe unto his Charet to be reading that place of Isaiah the Prophet, Act. 8. And that voice that cryed to the Father Tolle & lege, take up and reade, it seems that very provi∣dence did direct, that amongst all sorts of bookes the King should pitch upon History, and amongst all sorts of Hi∣story this volume, and amongst all the parts of this vo∣lume, this page, this passage, that so way might be made for Esthers intended motion.
Well, fourthly, vers. 3. And the King SAID, what ho∣nour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this? Why did the King take notice of this service at this time more then formerly; for it is said, chap. 2. ver. 22. that Esther had (formerly) certified the King of this businesse in Mordecai's name, yet then no reward is thought upon? But it seemes Mordecai's reward was kept for this very time by an act of extraordinary providence.
But fifthly (to put a heape of casualties together) That, Haman should so seasonably come in, in that very nick of time when Ahasuerus was studying how to reward Mor∣decai. That, Haman should come in with that request and motion for the executing of Mordecai. Adde to these, the Kings admission of Haman; the question pro∣pounded to him; and Hamans answer to that question, all which you may reade in chap. 6. vers. 4, 5, 6. And then all these graines put together do make a great weight; Let all these casuall circumstances be cast in, and you must confesse that every particular of them being a severall piece of wonder, the whole doth make up little lesse than a Miracle.Page 36
Honourable and beloved, how easily could I shew you the faces of such like casualties, or petty-wonders, in the glasse of your owne proceedings? You have instances enough of your owne (I meane in your owne History) to parallel all these particulars and a thousand more; I need not to go a borrowing for you. Only thus much in a word, this Manna of rarities from heaven, is your daily bread. I must on-wards.
Thirdly, a work is then carried-on mysteriously, when it is carried on [contra naturam.] What English shall I have to reach this expression withall? When a worke is carried on CONTRARILY and CONTRADICTORILY: It is an hard phrase, but so over-flowing are the mysteries of mercy, which God is now working amongst us, that certainly our English tongue is grown too narrow to lend us words to expresse them. I must therefore use the word Contradictorily. Contradictory, what is that? That is, when a worke is promoted and carried-on by its contra∣ries. I must shew it by an instance. When the carriage of a worke doth run like Samsons riddle, Iudg. 14.14. Out of the Eater came forth meat, and out of the strong sweetnesse. That the Eater should yeeld meat, and the strong give out sweetnesse, this is such a riddle that a strict Logician hearing it would be ready to cry out-Implicat, 'tis a contradiction in adjecto; yet so it is when enemies do become furtherers of a worke against themselves, and that is common you see amongst us.
If Samsons riddle doth not expresse it sufficiently, adde another expression out of the Psalmist; It is in Psa. 112.4. Unto the upright there ariseth light in darknesse. It is ac∣cording to nature that the dawning doth spring out of the night, and that the more perfect day doth arise out of that dawning is still according to nature, because the increase Page 37is graduall: But when light shall arise immediatly out of darknesse; when high-noone shall suddenly leape out of midnight, such a jumpe is against nature, and you must call it a mystery; because it is held as a Maxim amongst Naturalists, that Natura nihil agit per saltum, the motion of nature is not by leaps, but by paces. Thus Mark. 4.28. First the blade, then the eare, after that the full corne in the eare. Therefore as often as we shall see a branch (I meane a fruit of Providence) like the Rod of Aaron, that in one night was budded and brought forth buds and bloomed blossomes, and yeelded Almonds (Numb. 17.8.) so often let us confesse with the Psalmist, This is the Lords doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.
Yea, but when, or where did we ever see such things as these?
I would give some few particular instances under this head of salvation through contrarieties and contradicti∣ons. As
1. 1 When Enemies doe further a worke against them∣selves, yea and that by fighting against it. This contra∣diction we have found true ever since the beginning of our present troubles. The enemy by projecting & fight∣ing against Reformation, hath both hastened and hight∣ned it more then our selves could (perhaps would) have done in that time. When there had been a talke a while after the beginning of this Parliament, of some solemne way of uniting the Kingdomes by some speciall Associa∣tion in those crazie times; the enemy by increasing our dangers and obstructing (as I remember) the procee∣dings, do quicken us into a Protestation: And because that obligation was easily broken (ah lamentable!) by the generality of men who deserted their owne protection and remedy, therefore the enemy would never leave ad∣ding Page 38one horrid provocation to another, by fighting a∣gainst the Parliament, denying them a being, proclaiming them Rebels, and owning the Diabolicall Rebels of Ire∣land as good Subjects, to cut their throats; untill by such sharp provocations as these, they had spur'd and switch'd the three Kingdomes into a most Solemne Oath and Covenant for a compleat Reformation. The men would not suffer us (if we would) only to pare and clip Prelacy, no, they will have it pluckd up Roote & Branch. They will not suffer the three Kingdomes to rest in severall kinds and pitches of government and worship, but they will have one true reformed uniformity in these and all o∣ther Churches of Christ. Thus their rage hath abun∣dantly ripened the worke. This is seemingly contra∣dictory.
2. When one and the same thing is at once helpfull to Gods people, 2 and hurtfull to the enemy. As it is sayd of the Angel, and of the Pillar of the Cloude, Exod 14.19. And the Angel of God which went before the Camp of Israel, removed and went behinde them, and the Pillar of the cloud went from before their faces and stood behind them. ver. 20. And it came between the Campe of the Egyptians, and the Campe of Israel, and it was a cloude of darknesse to them, but it gave light by night to these, so that the one came not neer the other all the night. Such helpfull-hindering occur∣rents have we often met withall, that have proved like the extraordinary frost that ('tis said) did suddenly hap∣pen in the North at the comming in of the present Scot∣tish Army; it blocked up the wayes of the enemy by abun∣dance of Snow, that they could not plunder and fire as they intended; but it gave an unexpected passage of Ice o∣ver the river unto our Brethren and their carriages. Ma∣ny like acts might be shewen, which upon the one hand Page 39did shew the Lords presence with his people, (as I have seen some two faced pictures) and on the other hand in the same side the picture of Satan for the ruine of the enemies.
3. When lesses are gaines.3 I have touched upon this before; let me only adde the instances of the two great Publique Battels that have been fought in this Cause, at Keinton and at Newbery. In the beginning of both bat∣tels, tis said, we were somewhat worsted, to shew that England had offended the Lord, and therefore our Father did beat us: But then we conquered the enemy too, to imply that the Lord would owne his owne Cause and people notwithstanding their failings. Thus victi vici∣mus, by being first worsted, we were made more than con∣querours [Periissemus nisi periissemus] being beaten wee got the day. This Examination is preparatory to the following lessons.
Use 2. To informe and satisfie. Let no man think it strange that there is so much shrinking,2 stretching and war∣ping from the right Party in the present times and con∣troversies. No marvell if meer Sensitive common world∣lings and carnall Politicians do fall off from this Divine and Supernaturall Cause and taske. Such poore pur∣blind creatures were mistaken in this worke at their first comming on. It was thier lot to be cast upon the Parlia∣ment side; and in that lot, they did looke upon carnall and selvish ends and arguments; upon the leaves and the bagg that were to be gotten by Christs service, I meane majority of number, probability of short dispatch and long preferments after, did draw them to the right par∣ty: But finding the businesse to be an holy mystery, find∣ing that the Lord did carry his worke thorow hills and dales of Land and Seas; yea and that they should be Page 40forced to deny themselves, to adventure all, to crosse the streame, &c. Here they went away sorrowing, this was too hard a saying, they could not beare it. To speak plainly: Honourable and Beloved, in the beginning of this Par∣liament when the Lord did give you a plentifull Break∣fast of most smooth and happy successe in your first pro∣ceedings, thereby to strengthen you for the hard dayes∣worke and long journey that was to come, (as he gave a double breakfast to Elijah when he was to travell without meat forty dayes and forty nights, unto Horeb the Mount of God, 1 King. 19.5, 7, 8.) You may remember that in those prosperous dayes you were compassed a∣bout with swarming Proselytes, and seeming Patriots of all bores and sizes: But how did many of those Preten∣ders faile you in the heat as brookes in Summer?
Some of them were meere sensitive friends; * These like incredulous Thomas, would beleeve and adventure no farther than their senses (of sight and feeling) did lead them. They would have the ground of their faith at their fingers-end, as Ioh. 20.25. and they were drawn on meer∣ly as that mixed multitude (or a great mixture) that went out of Egypt with the children of Israel, because of the miracles and mercies that there were wrought, Exod. 12.38. And therefore anon after when your hardships be∣gan, this same mixture were the first that fell to lusting, as that Egyptian mixture did, Numb. 11.4. And the mixed multitude that was among them fell to lusting, &c. Thus your meere sensitive friends did fall off.
Others were led by human reason and politique con∣victions; * These did stick to Parliaments, Laws and Pri∣viledges, as Orpah to her mother in law Naomi, that is, whilst she continued Naomi (pleasant) but when by af∣flictions she became Marah (bitter) then they (as Orpah, Page 41Ruth 1.14.20.) wept and kissed their mother in law, but departed.
Shortly, * a last sort were of false or faint-hearted Pro∣fessours, led with some light of Religion; they either brake-off like Demas, or warped-off like Paul's acquain∣tance at his first appearing before Nero, 1 Tim. 4.16.
But would you know the cause of all this failing? Surely it was nothing but this (as before) those shallow∣headed narrow-hearted carnalists were puzled in this hard lesson of a Mystery. The meere naturall man can reade in the booke of the creatures, 'tis so faire a print in Capitall letters. The Prudentiall man can perceive the character, and construe the language of common providence: And thus far they went with you: But they were not so much as, A-b-c-ederians in the Lords Archivis (as they say) in his Manuscripts, in his Brachigraphy, I meane in the strange language and abstruse character of Reformation, and mysterious Babylonish redemptions; they wanted both Dictionaries and Spectacles in those particulars. Then let not the apostacie of carnalists cast any dispa∣ragement upon this glorious Mystery. That's a second Use.
Thirdly, if Gods great salvations, of his people, espe∣cially that from Babylon be carryed-on in a mysterie, 3 then away with that great old English sin of Carnallity, a∣way with Carnality in both extreames, upon the right hand, and upon the left hand, away with carnall confi∣dence, and carnall diffidence.
First, away with carnall confidence;* Be not too much lifted up with outward supplies, with outward strength and successes; but remember that the frame of this work is mysterious and spirituall; therfore for us to build our hopes upon things that are meerly carnall, must needs Page 42be a sin, both heterogeneous and most improper. We have bin taught by experience, that fleshly and worldly advan∣tages hitherto have contributed little to the principale part of this worke. Commonly (hitherto) the race hath not been to the swift, nor the battell to the strong, nor yet bread to men of understanding, Eccles. 9.11. We never had (I thinke) too few Armies for any service and ingage∣ment since we began; perhaps sometimes through the corruption of our hearts we have had too many, as God sayd unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too ma∣ny for me to give the Midianites into their hands. Consi∣der farther, that carnall confidence begets carnall diffi∣dence, as the hot and cold fits in an Aguish-fever doe mutually intend and heighten one another. Therefore away with carnality upon the right hand, with carnall confidence.
And then on the other hand, * by the same reason, away also with carnall diffidence in case of the want of outward supplies and successes: Remember the Doctrine, that hath said that this worke is a worke of faith, and not of sense; and continuall experience doth evidence that when we are weak we are strong: My meaning is, that we should not be any longer like weather-glasses suffering our hopes and spirits to rise & fall according to the tydings of good and bad successes; that we should not live upon diurnall∣faith, or upon the ayre of newes and intelligence: But let our hopes be like the life of the saints that is hid with Christ in God: Let them have a surer foundation than a∣ny thing that base carnality can suggest: Let not our confidence like heavy Eli fall backward and break their necke upon the report of every defeate: Had Eli born up thorow that blast, he might have seen that the losse of the Arke, was in conclusion, the advantage of Israel; and Page 43that the Philistians were never so shamefully beaten as by that victory; for that very Arke when it was set up in the house of Dagon did conquer the Idol in his own Temple, for his head and both the palmes of his hands were cut off upon the threshold, and only the stumpe of Dagon was left whole: Yea, and the Philistines them∣selves were faine at last, as it were to bribe their prisoner with golden-Mice and Emrods, to be gone; and were forced to send the Arke home againe, with shame, and cost enough.
But there are many specious arguments given, in ex∣cuse of such carnall diffidence. As
[Object. 1] First, Oh! But there is great opposition, many, mighty stubborn enemies there are against us?
[Answ. 1] This is a good evidence that you are about a choyse∣piece of Church-worke. Shew me a Reformation (I thinke there is scarcely one) in the booke of God, or in our Protestant Histories, that went on without diffi∣culties and obstructions. So that these very crags and bogs which you passe thorow in the way, are not discou∣ragements, but way-markes, that is, certaine signes that you are right in the old Reformation-way that hath ever bin trodden. Thus Asa had no sooner set upon a Refor∣mation in Judah, (2. Chron. 14. & 2. Chron. 15.) by Cove∣nanting strictly with God; by pulling downe Idolatry, and by removing Queen Maacha her Capuchins, but a thousand thousand Ethiopians are let in upon his King∣dome, as though Hell it selfe had bin let loose. So King Hezekiah, After thes things (saith the text) and the esta∣blishment of them, (2. Chron. 32.1.) that is, after three Chapters full of Reformation that you reade of before; Then Senacherib, King of Assyria, came and entered into Judah with a great Army. Therefore these bogs, crags, Page 44and brambles, are approved way-markes and incourage∣ments.
[Answ. 2] Againe, you must give parting-Devills leave to teare and some when they are to be immediatly cast out. The evill spirit will have one pull with the possessed person, when he is packing. You know it is so said, Revel. 12.12. The Devill is come downe having great wrath, because hee knowes that he hath but a short time. And so in Mark. 9.26. When the dumbe Devill was to be cast out (as how many dumbe Devils are now casting out of many Pa∣rishes in the land!) hee did teare the man, and rent him sore, that he was as one dead. This we must look for, it is a signe that the Devill is going.
[Object. 2] But the work is tedious, oh this prolixity is that which doth weary us?
[Ansm. 1] This is but proportionable, when a humour hath been so long a growing and crusting in the Kingdom; it would be dangerous to purge it suddenly; our Body-Politique would hardly beare the strength of the Physick. This pro∣lixity therefore is a wise mercy.
[Answ. 2] Adde, that all this prolixity is usuall in such solide Church-work. The returne of the Jewes from Babylon, taking-in the whole of it, that is, the two pieces, spiritu∣all and temporall (the building of the Temple, and of the wall of the City) was upon the wheele, as I remember, tho∣rough some seven Princes reignes, *viz. Cyrus, Cambyses, Darius Histaspis, Xerxes or Ahasuerus, Artaxerxes Lon∣gimanus, Darius Nothus, Artaxerxes Mnemon: But our Reformation as yet is but in the reigne of the sixth King since it began; The number may be thus computed, King Henry 8. King Edward 6. Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, King Iames, and our Soveraign that now reigneth. Ther∣fore this prolixity hath a patterne, 'tis usuall.Page 45
[Answ. 3] Lastly, it is also profitable and advantageous for us. It is true, when a River runneth with many turnings and windings, the vessell that sailes upon her doth make the longer voyage from place to place; but those turnings and Meanders of the River are abundantly profitable to the bordering inhabitants, both to prevent inundations, by breaking the strength of the slouds, and to multiply rich Meadows and pastures by its various indentures: So there is the lesse danger, and the more fruitfulaesse by the prolixity of this mysterious work.
[Object. 3] But in the meane-while we are undone in our estates?
[Answ. 1] That was Micha's language when he had lost his Idoll. Take heed that wee doe not idolize our estates and make them our gods, then indeed wee shall cry-out and say as he did, What have we more? But,
[Answ. 2] Farther, they are but exchanges of temporals for spi∣rituals, earth for gold: hath not thy soule gained some∣thing by these troubles in recompence of that which thy purse hath lost? What, not some experience, some hu∣miliation, faith or holinesse?
[Answ. 3] However, thy God is left with thee still, and that God is able to fetch sweet out of bitter, good out of evill, not onely out of the evill of punishment, but out of the evill of sinne it selfe. In short, this Doctrine doth an∣swer all carnall objections that can be moved, but I must hasten.
Are Gods great salvations carried on in a mystery? Then in the fourth place,4 let us be advised to looke upon this work as it is to be carried-on, that is, spiritually, ex∣traordinarily, mysteriously; that so we may not be mi∣staken in our way and taske, as many carnall politicians and formall Neuters have mistaken the work, and so mi∣scaried and fallen away at last.Page 46
Consider, Honourable and Beloved, it is not a Iourney, but a Voyage, which the Lord hath put you upon: You know the difference; in a Voyage there is one and the same common safety or ship-wrack to all the passengers, they must swim or sink together: Not so in a land Jour∣ney: In a Voyage there is much hard-ship by lodging, dyet, straightnesse, and dangers by rockes, sands, Pirats, tempests; Not so in a land-journey. But especially I call your taske a Voyage, in respect of the vari∣ous motions and path-lesse wayes into which your worke doth carry you. Sometimes the Sea-man is forced to bord it to and fro, so that an unskilfull spectator would thinke that he doth go forth and backe: Another while he is faine to strike all his sailes, and to drive at Hull, so that he seemes utterly to neglect his Vessell; yet all this while hee is at his worke, and doth make way as he can. But above all the rest, you must remember that in a Voy∣age there are no Lanes, no foot paths, no high-way Mer∣curies to direct the Sea-men; all their directions must be fetched from the Pole and Stars compared with their Card, their Compasse, and touched Needle, their path lyeth in Heaven, not below. So you have a God above, a guide in Heaven, you have his Word and Will for your Card & Compasse; and your own hearts touched with∣in you, still standing God-ward: These must, these can guide you thorow a sea of miseries and mysteries unto the Haven of Reformation and deliverance where you would bee. Let these Guides and Guidances bee closely followed, and then no matter for waves and windes, no matter for Sea-sicknesse, 'tis a good signe of the progresse of the ship, and 'tis good Physicke to the passenger.
* But suppose all the premisses are granted, namely that this work in its carriage is so spirituall, casuall, con∣tradictory. Page 47tradictory, so truely mysterious; how then may we so order and lesson our selves, as to discharge our duties in such difficult service? This mystery doth seeme to leave us in a meere muse of contemplation; what action or pra∣ctice is there left to us to be performed in this case? what doing lessons may be fetched from hence?
* There are some sure Practicall Lessons to be learnt from the mysterious carriage of our present salvations; and that I may shew them the more fully, you must know that in this worke there are two parts.
Aliquid Divinum, &c. Something Divine, and Super∣naturall, which is chiefly the Lords ends.
Aliquid Humanum, &c. Something more humane and secular, which is mans ends and aymes.
Now the great lesson in generall which we are to learne, is to sticke and cleave to all Gods ends above any of our owne. It was a great errour of the Jewes, and Hag∣gai complaineth of it, Hag. 1.2. that they fell a build∣ing of their owne houses, but let the house of God lie wast; therefore the Lord is faine to curse, and crosse them in their owne selvish designes, even in the fruit of the field, and in their very meate, drinke, and cloth, as you may reade verse 6. You have sowne much, and bring in little, ye eate, and have not enough; yee drinke, but yee are not filled with drinke; yee cloth yee, but there is none warme, and he that earneth wages putteth it into a broken bag. God did crosse them in things neerest to them, that so they might looke more after his part of the worke. And indeed it is the wonderfull mercy of God to us, that these two parts of the worke (Reformation and Deliverance) are so twi∣sted together, that we are not able to separate them. God hath now so indissolubly interwoven the reforming of re∣ligion with the settlement of lawes and liberties, that we Page 48cannot picke off the latter, and leave the former; Other∣wise (I feare) we should ere this, have bin playing the children, that use to eate of their hony, and then throw the bread to the dogs. But our Father hath so wisely or∣dered the whole, that if we will have no Reformation of Religion, we shall have no more Lawes, Parliaments, Li∣berties, nor Priviledges; Therefore it will be our wise∣dome, to looke chiefly after the Lords part of the worke.
* But, What is Gods Part, End, or Aime?
* I answer, the Lords ends, designes, or defires, (as I may call them) in this great worke, may be considered two wayes; either generally, or particularly.
First, 1 his generall, or publique designes which he doth owne and aime at, requiring us to promote them, may be reduced to these three sorts.
1. Workes of Piety. The Lord doth absolutely re∣quire the Reformation of Religion at this time, both in Doctrine, Worship, Discipline, and Government, in the Church. We must out with Idols, not onely those in wood, stone, or glasse, that is in walls and windowes; but those living Idols that are in Pewes and in some Pulpits, they must out; I meane all Idoll-shepheards, and dumb∣dogs. close with the handling of it teaching Priest, they were without Law: A Preacherlesse people, wil be a lawlesse people. In short, the Lord would have you to demolish all high places, and not to leave so much as the stumpe of Dagon remaining: Yea to bury all the reliques of Ro∣mish Jezabel, even the skull, and the feet, and the palmes of her hands. Also the Lord doth expect that you should promote the late Solemne League & Covenant, that triple Cable of the three Kingdomes, by which the Anchor of our hope is fastned, that three-fold Cord that binds all Page 49these Kingdomes together and unto God; and is like that golden chaine with which the Tyrians (when Alexander beleaguered them) bound fast their tutelar god, Apollo;* for feare he would leave their City. Thus if yee do first build the Lords-house and do become faithfull Midwives to his labouring Church, then doubtlesse will the Lord deale well with you, and will make you houses, as Exod. 184.108.40.206.
2. *Workes of Justice are a part of Gods generall design at this time, you cannot but remember the service of Phinehas in executing of judgement when it was a sad time with Israel, and the double reward that followed; publique to the State, (the plague was staid,) and private to his own family, the service of God in the Church was particularly intayled upon him and his posterity. Numb. 25. And blessed be God, that you have now put in to the scales of Justice; the Archest Prelate of the land. Beleeve it, such services as these, are the way to procure unto us a valley of Achor for a doore of hope, even then when we do fly before the enemy, as Josh. 7.26. when Achan was found out and put to his tryall according to justice, the wrath of God was stopped; and the late vi∣ctorious City of Ai is soone taken in.
3. The Lord doth now call for workes and acts of mer∣cy too, that is, * that you take speciall notice of the most doing and suffering places and persons, that have layd out themselves in this cause to the utmost, that like that poor widow, 1. Kings 17. have made a cake for the publique, out of their handfull of meale, and thereupon are much distressed and scanted. You remember what David said unto Abiathar, when for his sake all the persons of his fa∣thers house were slain by Saul, Abide thou with me, feare not, for he that seeketh my life, seeketh thy life, but with me Page 48〈1 page duplicate〉Page 49〈1 page duplicate〉Page 50shalt thou be in safety: Much more ought those faithfull Persons, Towns, Cities, and Countries to be releeved that have been most active and passive for God and the Kingdome in this Cause.
And here, * Oh how gladly could I weepe in a Paren∣thesis, for, and over the Country of my Nativity, the place of my fathers Sepulchres which lyeth wast, where so many houses and places are consumed with fire! Oh the unparal∣leld misery of the still-declining west! Is it nothing to you, all ye that passe by! Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto our sorrow, which is done unto us, wherewith the Lord hath afflicted us, in the day of his fierce anger, Lamen. 1.12. Could I but draw forth in their due colours the do∣ings and sufferings of those parts of the Land, I am per∣swaded (what ever fame may chatter) that I should pre∣vaile with the dryest-heart in this great Assembly, to con∣tribute, at least a teare towards our reliefe and succour. True, I confesse the Lord is righteous, for we have rebelled against his mouth; but yet for doing and suffering in this great Cause, I am perswaded those parts may be ranked amongst the foremost of the Kingdome: And my humble desire is, that accordingly they may have place in your prayers and cares. Thus let the Lords generall and pub∣lique designes and ends be first considered and promoted.
But secondly, 2 I must tell you that God hath other col∣laterall designes, (and as I may call them,) intermediate ends in this strange worke, which we ought also to ob∣serve and further to our uttermost; that's the second pra∣cticall lesson. As it is with those that labour to finde out the Ph•losophers-stone by distillations, their ultimate and principall end is to make gold, yet by the way and collate∣rally they finde out many rare experiments and excellent chymicall extractions, which are of precious use and Page 51value: So is it in this great work of God, his grand prin∣cipall designe is publique salvation, both by Reformati∣on and Deliverance; but he hath many collaterall, oc∣casionall, intermediate designes and effects which he in∣tendeth and produceth by the way. As for instance he hath (suppose) a design, and an experiment to be made upon his owne Church and people, as to try the particular graces of this or that saint, what strength of faith, what depth of humility, what latitude of patience there is in their hearts: Or if not for tryall, then (suppose) for pur∣ging, or correcting, or improving; and it should be our care to record such experiments for after times, whether they tend to our humiliation, or to our consolation. A∣nother while the Lord hath a designe upon the enemy (as I shewed in my grounds) to make him fill up the mea∣sure of sinne, and confusion of face or person. The open adversaries must have their full loade, and the secret Neu∣ters must be detected, as 'tis sayd, Luke 2.35. Yea a sword shal pierce through thine own side, that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. The stabs and gashes of the pre∣sent sword do open and let out many a secret thought. Who so is wise, and will of serve these things, even they shall understand the loving kindnesse of the Lord, Psal. 107.43. 5
Let the closing branch of application bee a Cordiall. There is a Cordiall in this Doctrine, and I hope a Cor∣diall is not unseasonable at a Fast, so as it enableth us the more heartily to go through the work of the day. Then here is a melting Cordiall, for by the mysterious carriage of our present worke we may easily gather that God is now upon some great salvation, yea upon a salvation from We∣sterne Babylon. The whole work in all its progresse looks exactly like the fore-told destruction of Babylon; For our God, even whilst he hideth himself, is still the Saviour Page 52of this Israel. Mine encouragement therefore shall lye in the same words (for so God hath directed us) that you had in the morning from my reverend Brother; it seemes God wil have us both to drive the same naile, that it may be set home to the head. It is in Hag. 2.4. Yet now be strong, O Zerubbabel, saith the Lord, and be strong O Josuah, sonne of Josedech the high Priest, and be strong O yee people of the Land and worke (for I am with you, saith the Lord of Hosts.) Here is something for all ranks, Parliament-men, Ze∣rubbabel, Assembly of Divines, Iosuah; And all the peo∣ple, the whole Commonalty: The strength of the argu∣ment lyeth in that sweet Parenthesis at last, and I shall close with the handlingof it (For I am with you, saith the Lord of Hosts.) In which you may observe but these two blasts to fill your sailes.
First, who is the Master-builder, the Architect that imployes you, and accordingly you know whither to go for your wages. I am with you, saith the Lord of Hosts. Would any man aske a more honourable service than under the Lord of Hosts? For honor est in honorante, and it comes properly by Armes. Certainly, the Lord never put a more honourable imployment into the hands of the sons of England, than he hath put this day into your hands. What, to be Champions for God, to be Builders, Factors, Reformers for the whole Protestant Cause and world! How many of our zealous Ancestors have cast in their prayers, teares and bloud, to entaile upon us but the pre∣parations and probabilities of this great work? How did they long to have seene one of these dayes a farre off, but did not see them? David was not permitted to build the Temple, but God reserved that work for his son Iedidiah (for so the Lord himselfe called Solomon) who was the beloved of the Lord. Do you think it a small thing to be Page 53Gods Iedidiahs in this respect? To be builders of an House to the God of heaven, is your honour. But that is but halfe.
Secondly, look upon Gods owning of the worke; This Lord of Hosts will be with you. Would any man in the world desire a clearer promise thnn was this to Zerubba∣bel, I will be with you, upon my word, upon mine Honour, upon my Deity I will be with you?
* No (you will say) we would not wish a surer word to our selves, but that was made peculiarly to the Iewes: Had we but such a promise, we would stick at nothing; Had we but the faith of heaven so ingaged to us?
* I answer, You have it as they had it, nay, in some sort I may say, you have it more fully; For they had it promi∣sed, and therefore it was in futuro, yet to come: But you have it, in praesenti, in hand. Open your eyes and behold your incouragements; the Lord speakes to you in deeds, and saith, Lo, I AM with you in all this worke; you may feele my presence upon every occasion.
Let me reason with you a little before the Lord con∣cerning his providence over you. *1Did ever the Lord so clearely, so visibly owne an English Parliament as he hath owned you? Doe but first looke backe upon your first Convention. Are you not the very birth of the prayers of many generations? Were you, not as a brand snatched out of the fire kindled betweene England and Scotland? Just as were those Reformers in the Babylonish Captivi∣tie; Is not this a brand (saith God, Zech. 3.2.) pluckt out of the fire? Suppose a man of judgement comming into a room where there is a fire burning, and he runneth hasti∣ly to the fire-side, snatcheth thence a piece of wood, and endevours by all meanes to extinguish the flame that is upon it; will not every rationall man presently conclude Page 54that he intendeth that piece for some speciall service? In this sense (as I conceive) is that Metaphor used in that place; Is not this a brand pluckt out of the fire? As if the Lord should have said, Have I plucked Iosuah out of the fire of Babylon, & so this Parliament out of the fire of the two Kingdoms, when they were in a combustion some three years since, to cast them into the consuming flames againe at last? No surely, that is not the Lords usuall manner. 2
3 And as for your Convention, so secondly consider the progresse of providence in your settlement. How hath God fastned you as a naile in a sure place? This is an ar∣gument in which the Jewes did comfort themselves at the time of their returne from Babylon, Ezra 9.8. And now for a little space, grace hath been shewed from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a NAYLE in his holy place, &c. Surely, you are our remnant escaped, without which we had been as Sodome, and as the inhabitants of Gomorrah; and you are fastned as a nayle in a sure place, by a speciall Act for your continuance, a∣bove all former Parliaments. Well did the Lord fore-see both what a great worke himselfe would put into your hands; and what great oppositions you should meet with∣all, When God doth thus fasten a nayle of power and authority in a sure place, hee doth usually intend to hang some extraordinary weight and glory upon it, as it is said of Eliakim, who was a figure of CHRIST, Esai. 22.23. And I will fasten him as a nayle in a sure place, &c. vers. 24. And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his Fathers House, the off-spring and the issue, all vessels (of small quan∣titie) from the vessels of cuppes, even to all the vessels of flaggons.
Thirdly, besides your extrordinary convention & un∣paralleld Page 55fastning, Consider lastly what the Lord hath done for you and by you since you came together.
1. FOR YOU. How often hath he given a new life to your whole House, collectively & in common, & that some∣times by rescuing you from bloody Assassinates? Oh! let the the 4th. of January Anno 1641. be unto you as the 5th. of November 1605. Sometimes by giving you the victory in the open field, when your lives lay at stake in the battle, as in both those generall Battles at Keinton and Newbery. Besides, how many of your Mem∣bers distributively have had their lives given unto them as a particular prey, being snactht out of naturall and vi∣olent deaths since they began this service? I do not speak this that your hearts should be lifted up within you, but that they may be lifted up in the wayes of the Lord.
2. Next consider what God hath done BY You also; did ever the Lord do so much work of this kind in so short a time (how ever we thinke the time to be long) since Protestant Reformation began in the Christian world? * If so, then I was mistaken or forgetfull in reading that exact Record of Reformation since Luthers begin∣ning.
[Quest.] So much worke done (you will say?) Alas, alas, what is there done all this while, besides the kindling of an un∣naturall warre? As for Reformation there is nothing compleatly perfected in that to this day, for want of the Royall assent &c.
[Answ.] I answer first, yes there is somewhat already done, the best, the spirituall part of the worke doth still go on, and the reason why we see it not, is because we looke to the politique and outward part of the businesse, more then Page 54〈1 page duplicate〉Page 55〈1 page duplicate〉Page 54〈1 page duplicate〉Page 55〈1 page duplicate〉Page 56to the inward and spirituall part: For this abundantly goes on still even in the middest of all the stormes; The Wall is building though in troublous times, as Dan. 9.25. Have you ever been upon the shore at low-water, and there observed the comming in of the tide; you shall see first one little wave creeping forwards, and presently re∣tiring it selfe again, and so another and another, but eve∣ry one doth still retreat as soone, as fast, as it did advance, so that a diligent observer viewing the water in motion, may easily beleeve that the floud doth not at all increase. But set a marke, or keepe your standing neere the wash of the waves, for a short time, and then you shall quick∣ly and clearly see and feele that all this while it is flow∣ing water, and anon insensibly it will be full-sea. So in the present great worke, though there appears to be a vicissitude of victories betwixt God and his enemies, though successe doth seeme to a carnall eye promiscuously to go and come, yet stand still a while and looke upon the spirituall, the religious part of the worke, and you shall find the waters of the sanctuary still flowing and in∣creasing, as in Ezekiels vision, Chap. 47. first they were to the ancles, next to the knees, then to the loynes, and lastly they were a River that could not be passed over. I meane that the worke of Reformation still goes on; there we do get ground, as to perfect a Protestation into a Co∣venant, to ripen an Impeachment into a Roote & Branch, and in a word, to settle an Assembly of Divines as a generall resiners fire to try all metals in the Church.
[Answ. 2] But secondly, whereas you say, that nothing is yet compleatly perfected for want of the Royall assent.
Know this, that the Lord doth carry-on this frame of building in like manner as Solomons Temple was built. Doe you not remember how Solomon built his Temple? Page 57you may see it in 1. Kings 6.7. And the house when it was in building was built of stone, made ready before it was brought thither, so that there was neither hammer or axe, or any toole of iron heard in the house while it was in building: And in King 5.6. it is said that the Cedar-trees were hewen and made fit in Lebanon, and then they were brought downe by water unto the place where they were to be used: and verse 15. you shall reade that Solomon had threescore and ten thousand that bare burthens, and fou•score thousand that were hewers in the Mountaines &c. Just so is the building of this Christian Protestant Temple carryed∣on: The Lord prepareth one piece of the building in Germany, there he hath had thousands of hewers of wood and fellers of trees these twenty yeers, to cut down some and to square-out others for this structure; he hath o∣thers, that beare burthens in Ireland, and they shall bring in another kinde of materials; And then Scotland doth come in perhaps with soader and cement, they shall fur∣ther us in Covenanting; and at last, when all these mate∣rials shal be brought in place by water (by our prayers) then you shall see a glorious Temple set up, perhaps in one weeke, nay, in a day or a night, and that without the noyse of axe or hammer, or any toole of iron: You are hewing in the House of Parliament; the Divines are squaring in their Assembly, in one night the Lord is able to worke upon the heart of the King (for he hath it in his hand) and to deliver him into the bosome of you his faithfull Counsell, & then the whole work may suddenly be pas∣sed and finished.
Onward therefore Noble Builders, onward, up and be doing your severall parts; your God is invincible; your Cause is invincible, and nothing is so like to hazard us as not adventuring: Your labour, your cost, your adven∣tures, cannot be in vaine, in the Lord. Oh remember that counsell in Peter, it is used there in a spirituall way; Page 58I shall borrow it in this sense, 1 Peter 1.13. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉Hope unto the end, that is, adventure for God and trust him to the uttermost, to the brinke, to the edge, to the end of all meanes and possibilities, to the last inch of the candle, to the last dust of meale in the barrell, to the least drop of oyle in the bottome of the Cruze. Thus did that poore widow. Thus did Abraham, Gen. 22. First his son Isaac, and himselfe went, verse 8. to the mount, he built an Altar, layd the wood in order, •ound Isaac his son, layd him on the Altar upon the wood (yet the tryall is not come to the edge, the brinke, the uttermost:) But lastly, verse 10. Abraham stretched forth his hand, and tooke the knife to slay his sonne. This indeed was hope against hope, as, Rom. 4.18. This was trusting to the end. But was Abraham a loser by it? Sure I am that King Saul did lose a kingdom for want of an houres faith, and adventuring farther, as 1 Sam. 13.10. &c. Labour there∣fore to trust the Lord to the uttermost end of meanes, yea above, and against them, rather then sin against him by unbelife. Labour (in three words) to play the Solo∣mons, the Davids, the Samsons in this worke.
First to play the Solomons:* that is, as you have begun this Reformation, so do your utmost endeavour to finish it in your dayes. Beleeve it, when you have built the House of God, you shall have both leave and ability to build your owne houses. You read so of Solomon in 1. King 7.1. When he had built the House of God, then he built his owne house, and a house for his Wife, and the house of the Forest of Lebanon.
Or if you may not bee the Solomons, yet labour to be * yet labour to be Davids in this worke, You know God denied unto Da∣vid the honour of building his Temple: Yet David would not utterly bee put of; hee will bee doing as much as he may: First himselfe offereth to the worke, 1 Chron. 29. hee offereth Gold, Silver, Brasse, Iron, Wood, &c.Page 59Next, hee drawes-in his Nobles and all his People, as deep∣ly as hee can. And thirdly, hee leaveth also a Stocke of Prayers behind him, 2 Chron. 29.10. Yea, finally he gives a charge unto his sonne Solomon to goe thorough with the worke, 2 Chron. 28.11. And leaves him a patterne of the House: And even those very prepara∣tions and purposes of David were richly rewarded, 2 Sam. 7.4. Thus if the Lord for our sinnes and un∣beliefe hath decreed that your carcaesss and ours shall fall in the wildernesse, and that wee shall onely see this Canaan afarre off; yet let these two lessons be learned. 1. Let every soule bee carefull to avoyd all those sinnes that are wont to draw downe this punishment of not∣entring; See some of them, 1 Cor. 10.6, 7, &c. Beware of lusting, of idolatry, of tempting of God, of murmuring, &c. 2. Let us labour to contribute and store up materi∣alls for those that shall finish the worke after us.
And lastly, * if you may not bee permitted to doe so much as Solomon, or as David, yet at last, at least let us endeavour to play the Samsons in this worke. What is that? You shall reade it, Iudg. 16.29. When Samson could not conquer the Philistines, could not make a tho∣rough salvation of it, as he desired, yet the text saith, He called unto the Lord, and said, Remember me I pray thee, and strengthen me I pray thee onely this once, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes: And Samson tooke hold of the two middle pillars, upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, and he said, Let mee die with the Philistins: and he bowed himself with all his might, and the house fell upon all the people that were therein; so the dead which he slew at his death, were more than those which he slew in his life. My meaning is this; Better for us if we cannot out-live Antichrist, out-live Babylon, and the enemies of Reformation; to adventure (as far as wee are warranted) our selves to death in the Cause; yea, Let us Page 60take hold of the pillars of the House of Dagon, of the tem∣ple of Antichrist, and say, Now let me die with Antichrist, Rome and Babylon; Better so (I say) than to live with the eyes of our Religion put out, and to grind in the mill of slavery: For by this meanes the children that shall come after us shall sit upon our tombes and say, that they had active parents, which with the•r bloud and car∣casses did dresse the ground for Reformation to spring up after them. For mine owne part, I shall say, he that is of so base a spirit that can be content to out-live Pro∣testantisme and Parliaments, let it be his punishment to out-live them. I desire not to fall under the just re∣proofe of an heathen,
To shut up all. Be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might; upon the eternall and infinite faith of the Tri∣nity, and in the word of Iehovah, your losses for his sake shall be repaid. Will you take that word? Then there are two speciall promises which I will commend unto you in the close of all; Oh that they were Written over the doores of the Houses of Parliament!
Matt. 19.29.Every one that hath forsaken houses, or bre∣thren, or sister, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, orlands (can you reckon up any thing else?) for my names sake, he shall receive an hundred fold; (God will pay him the very interest) and he shall inherit everlasting life (to boote.)
Mark. 8. v. 35.Whosoever will save his life shall lose it, but he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
If these places do deceive an active beleever at last; then let it be written upon my grave;