Take away (or remove) the wicked from be∣fore the King, and his throne shall be esta∣blished in righteousnesse.
IT is not mypurpose now to move affection, so much as to informe and convince the judgments and consciences of men, concerning the two sides that are now an end in this Land. I have observed it to be one of the maine engines which the Devill makes use of against the right side since the late troubles began, to seduce whole Pari∣shes by severall rotten Priests, and that concerning the Lawfulnesse or unlawfulnesse, of the one side or the other that are in Armes. What is more common then those stumbling blocks that you meet with in in every high way (as I may say) that say this side fights against the King, they take up Armes against Page 2the Lords anointed, and therefore they shall receive to themselves damnation. The maine piece I intend at this time, is to cashiere all such stumbling blocks: Yet in the beginning I make this serious protestati∣on, that I shal do every thing, that I am now to deli∣ver, from the very bottome of my conscience, & shal deliver no more, then I desire to answer for at the great and terrible day of the Lord Christ. And be∣cause I will not rest there alone (brethren) doe but trace me in the Scriptures I shall quote to you, (because those of unstable minds wrest Scriptures to their owne perdition, and the destruction of others) view my reasons, read over the Scriptures, and be you the judges.
Take away the wicked from before the King, and his Throne shall be established in righteousnesse.
My time is scanted, and my preparations I feare are too tedious, I shall contract them as much as I may.
This Book is a Book of Proverbs, and a proverb is a short, smooth, pithy sentence, in which the Au∣thor summes up a large matter in a few words, as men use to change Silver for Gold, that it may be the more easily carried.
The whole booke of Proverbs, I cannot better compare it to any thing upon the sudden, then to that Mannathat fed the Israleites in the wildernesse, as it is described, Numb. 16.31. It is said it was a small round thing as coriander, white, and like wafers made of honey; so these are bright and sweet, and Page 3withall small and round, discontinued and indepen∣dent, all the Chapters and verses of this booke al∣most; and therefore we may not look for coherence. Onely thus; the first seven verses of this Chapter containe observations about Kings and Subjects. The verse preceding my Text, is an introduction to, and a proofe of the same matter, by a comparison that is here absolutely set forth; the comparison is this, take away the drosse from the Silver, and there will come forth a vessell for the refiner. The drosse, that is the wicked in my Text; the Silver, that is supreme authority; and the vessell for the finer, that answers to establishing his Throne in Righte∣ousnesse.
Take away the wicked from before the King, and his Throne shall be established in Righteousnesse.
The words, without exception, they proceed from the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords originally: Instrumentally they were dictated by the wisest King that ever swayed Scepter, and therefore must needs be good divinity, and accurate politiques.
The chiefe motive that put me on them in these times, and in this place, is the late protestation that we all have made, and withall the perverse glosses and interpretations that corrupt mindes have put on it.
This verse is a proverb, and therefore cannot fitly be handled in parts; onely if any curious eye be willing to see it anatomized, we may take it assund∣er and shew it in two branches but: we must bind Page 4them together before wee can give the conclusi∣on as a posie of all; looke on the branches, and here is
First, the meanes to performe the duty, Take away the wicked from before the King.
Secondly, the issue or end upon it, And his Throne shall be established in Righteousnesse.
The duty or means, Take away the wicked from be∣fore the King. The end premised thereupon, and his Throne shall be essablished in Righteousnesse.
But my conclusion (as I said) must be a posie made up of these two branches bound together: thus it lies (I walke on a narrow edge, an therefore I will keep as close to the words of the Text as I may) this is the conclusion:
The taking away of the wicked from before the King establisheth his Throne in Righteousnesse.
There is that that shall be the bottome of all my following discourse at this time.
The Lord hath generally said this here, for all Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profi∣table for doctrine, for reproofe, for correction, for in∣struction in Righteousnesse, 2 Tim. 3.16. And this was spoken by the Lord who is the blessed and onely potentate, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, 1 Tim. 6.15.
Next, the Pen-man was the richest King that ever swaved Scepter, and therefore this must needs be a prosperous way; and the wisest King that ever swayed any Scepter, and therefore this must needs Page 5be a judicious way, 1 King 10.23. you shall read what Solomon this Pen-man was.
Finally, the servants of King Hezekiah were the transcribers, or the collectors, as we read in ver. 1. these parcell of parables were collected by Heze∣kiahs men King of Judah.
But to looke further for confirmation that the taking away of the wicked from before the King e∣stablisheth his Throne in Righteousnesse (for bre∣thren this is the great work, that the great Counsell and all that are imployed by them are now up∣on.) Note,
First, that this precept of the greatest of Israels Kings, and the wisest of all Kings, is seconded by his owne practise; look in 1 King. 2. there are divers instances.
One in cutting of Adonijah, that traiterous am∣bitious fondling (though he were Solomons eldest brother) Solomon saith, no more here then he pra∣ctised there; here he saith, take away the wicked from before the King, and his throne shall be established in Righteousnesse; there he takes away the wicked, that one that could not be wrought on by mercy for pardon before, that could not be fetched over, he cuts him off, ver. 25.
Secondly, in that Chapter he casheers Abiather, a guilty fals-hearted Priest, that followed Adoni∣jah, ver. 26.
Thirdly, he cuts off Joab a man of blood, that had trecherously slain two Captains more just then him∣selfe, Page 6ver. 31, 32. And the King said doe as thou hast said, fall upon him and bury him, that thou maist take the innocent blood which Joab shed, from me and from the house of my Father, and the Lord shall returne his blood upon his owne head, who fell upon two men more righteous and better then he, and slew them with the sword.
Fourthly, in punishing cursing Shimei, that ray∣led against the Lords anointed in his affliction, ver. 44. all in that Chapter. So Solomon saith no more here, then there he made good in two severall paires of examples, all done it seemes in conformi∣ty to this proverb or introduction.
But looke briefly a little further for more te∣stimony, look in the same Royall line and state King David the father of Solomon; and indeed David gave Solomon this Coppy, and he did but write after his fathers hand in the penning and recording this, and in the execution of justice in conformity to it, as we see in 1 King. 2. David gave him charge con∣cerning bloody Joab and cursing Shimei. Thus we finde it from the Father and the Sonne, the Father a man after Gods owne heart, the Sonne the wisest King that ever swayed Scepter, and we find it from him by precept and by practise.
But before I proceed to further testimony (for this is the great point, and will be the great question too as wee shall see anon) it is good to enquire here concerning the expressions in the Text, to open Page 7them a little by the way, though I shall give you a brighter candle to see them anon.
First, what is meant by removing.
Secondly, who are meant by wicked.
Thirdly, what is meant by before the Kings throne. First, what is meant by removing?
By removing (brethren) we must understand ex∣ecuting, banishing casheering, displacing, or any other kind of punishment, whereby those evill ones may be justly chastized, and royall Majesty pre∣served and secured; so the meaning is this, to take effectuall courses that God and the Law may be sa∣tisfied, and that such may doe no further mischiefe. Thus this King Solomon executed Adonijah, and Jo∣ab, when faire means, and pardon would not prevaile with Adonijah; thus he casheered Abiather a great Priest, and cut off Shimei a rayling Subject as I said before, this is briefly removing.
Secondly by wicked, we must understand all known transgressors, and delinquents against the Law of God and man, all dangerous malignants? Shall Da∣vid give you a list of them, in Psal. 101, he tels you of the wicked that turne aside, ver. 3. Secondly of a froward heart and wicked person, ver. 4. Thirdly, of privy slanderers and proud spirits, v. 5. Fourthly, of secret workers and tellers of lies, ver. 7. Or shall So∣lomon adde somewhat to the Catalogue, 1 King. 2. heare what he saith, First an ambitious traiterous fa∣vourite, so he took off Adonijah. Secondly, a rotten Priest, so he casheered Abiather. Thirdly, a bloody Page 8trecherous Cavalier, so he executed Joab. And fourthly, a rayling Malignant, and so he cut off Shimei. Thus all wicked are comprized, all drosse as it is in the former vers; drosse is good for nothing, and while it is mixed with the Silver it hinders the refiner of a vessell.
What is meant from before the King? That is, from all speciall office, especially in spirituals un∣der and about the King; so Abiather in spirituall, Joab in martiall affaires, Adonijah for intimacy and counsell, and Ahaz mother Maacah for Idolatry. Primarily, by wicked is meant all wicked Counsel∣lers, Courtiers, Officers, Servants, under and about royall Majesty, and the Throne, their sinfull Coun∣sell and service must all be casheered, and rejected. Secondly, and more remotely, all wicked persons in a Kingdome as farre as they are convict, must be brought to punishment, discarded, and discounte∣nanced, and dealt with according to Law; for so the phrase is here, remove the wicked from before the King, &c. but so much for the lesser candle by the way.
The maine piece I intend at this time is (for I told you I am altogether upon undeceiving of mens judgements, and untangling of their consciences, the maine piece I shall stick on, are) grounds of this truth; that is the ground and bottome of the whole question and businesse not onely disputed among Lawyers, but among Souldiers; I say the grounds of this, why, and wherefore the wicked must be re∣moved Page 9from before the King that his Throne may be established in Righteousnesse; or why the take∣ing away of the wicked from before the King, is a meanes to establish his Throne in Righteousnesse.
I will give you but two grounds in generall, but the latter will yeeld severall particulars.
The first generall ground is, because the wicked that are before the King are a high provocation of the Almighty. You shall scarce finde out, nay, you cannot finde out such a parcell of provokers in a whole Nation, as the wicked ones that are about the King: If there be wicked ones about the Throne God is more displeased with that parcell of wickednesse, then with any parcell that nationally can befall a Kingdom, Isa. 1.22, 23, 24. Thy Silver is become drosse (a sad case) thy wine is mixed with water. Silver, the best, that becomes drosse it is the worst; wine, of all liquors the most lively and vigorous, mixed with water, it is worse then if it were all water, how so? in ver. 23. Thy Princes are rebels and companions of theeves, every one loveth gifts, and followeth after re∣wards. Therefore saith the Lord, ver. 24. Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies. Here is a burthen under which the spirit of the Almighty groanes (as it were) so that he sighs again, as a man that his back is on the nick of breaking; ah, I will avenge me, &c. What was the matter? The greatnesse of the butthen of wick∣ed great ones neare about the Throne; wicked No∣bles, wicked great Governours in those dayes that Page 10were next the Prince (for so I understand it) next the supreame; so in, Hos. 9.15. All their wicked∣nesse is in Gilgal, for there J hated them for the wick∣ednesse of their doings, I will drive them out of mine house, I will love them no more, all their Princes are revolters: For the wickednesse of Gilgal, where was that? At Gilgal they chose, (they solemnized at least) their first King, and that was not an act ac∣cording to Gods mind; therefore the word Princes is added to shew that great provocation and wicked∣nesse about the Throne, the wicked neere about the King. Also in Micah 3. (for I can but feed you now with Cyphers) see what was their sin, ver. 1, 2, 3. and their punishment, ver. 8, 9, 12. their sin was evill; Wicked great ones, neere about the Throne; and their punishment utter desolation and destruction, and sweeping away from the Earth. So in, Jerem. 5.5. he speakes of the sinne of great ones; not onely the poore, but the great ones were obstinate and stubborne and did breake the bands, and despise the coards; hereupon their punish∣ment is direliction in the verse following, A Lyon out of the forrest shall slay them, &c.
No mervaile then if the Lord in the matter of Peor, Num. 25.4. when he was so highly provoked, cals for the heads of the people to hang them up be∣fore the Sunne; Take all the heads of the people; we must not understand the heads of all the people, as if he should cut off the heads of all the people, but the chief, the great ones that were next to Moses, Page 11Take the heads of the people and hang them up before the Lord, that the fierce anger of the Lord may be turned away from Israel.
This is my first reason, because wicked great ones neere about the Throne, are one of the most despe∣rate provocations that a Land can make to provoke the eyes of the jealousie of the Almighty. It is good reason they should be taken away, and that the taking of them away, establisheth the Throne in Righteousnesse, because the letting of them alone, provokes the Lord to shake the Throne, & Crown, and Scepter and all.
The second reason (for this is the great one that I shall insist on) it is taken from the manifold mis∣chiefes, and dangers that wicked ones about the Throne doe, the manifold mischiefes that are like to follow, and do usually follow, when wicked ones are about the Throne. Those mischiefes and dangers of wicked counsellers, or great ones about the King are many; but I will reduce them to three heads, and in every one (brethren) I hope I shall be part and proper.
The first danger is of fraud and flatterie, of sedu∣cing and misleading a Prince by fraud and flatterie; when wicked great ones are about the Throne? when such Eare-wigges take place about the Scepter, they may seduce a pious and Religious Prince from ju∣stice and Religion. I speake no more then I will re∣peat, and that I repeat I will prove out of the Scrip∣ture. I say they may seduce a pious and Religious Page 12Prince from justice and Religion, from the truth of Religion, and the execution of justice in govern∣ment. See both these (for all this while I shew you the great concernment of the service you areon, the greatest that ever God honoured souldiers with∣in the English Nation.) See it in point of Religion, for the seducing of a pious, and well meaning Prince there. You will say that the Pen-man of my Text Solomon was a pious Prince; he that looks upon his prayer in Gibeon 1 King. 3. for wisdome above all things, wisdome spirituall and civill: he that lookes on that prayer before the Altar, 1 King. 8.22, 23. He that lookes on his munificent building of the Temple, and the great charge he was at for the utensils, 1 King. Chap. 5, 6, 7. he must needs confesse that as Solomon was an extraordinary wise, so he was a pious and a Religious intending Prince; yet the wicked before the Throne, neere about the Throne, nay his case was such, the wicked in the bosome of the Throne, in the lappe of it, they did draw aside this well meaning, pious, and wisest of all Kings, 1 King. 11.1. There we read that his strange Idolatrous wives, drew him aside from the right worship, contrary to his intentions, and con∣trary to all those prayers: therefore to prevent this mischiefe, it seemes that Asa, 2 Chron. 15.16. took away Maacah his mother from being Queene, be∣cause she had made an Idoll in a grove.
Would you have another example, how wicked ones before the King are in danger of seducing of a Page 13Prince, though he be a pious, and well meaning Prince, even from the truth of Religion. Looke upon Joash, lively is that example, 2 Chron. 24. There I read that Joash was a Prince that was ortho∣dox, and so continued during the time of Jehojadah the Lord protector: But Jehojada was full of daies, and he died, ver. 15, 16. and now Joash was left to stand on his owne legges, and to the Princes, and Courtiers about the King; And what were they? When Jehojada was in his grave, The princes came and made obeysance to the King, and he hearkned to their voice, and they left the God of their fathers, and worshipped Groves. These Idolatrous Courtiers, though they lurked in the Court all that while, and durst not shew their heads, for their heads, as long as pious Jehojada was alive, do when he was gone; take this Spoke out of the wheele and all crackes: So we see a double proofe, when Jehojada was about the King, as Atlas he beares up Religion, but when he was gone, the wicked prevaile with the King, 2 Chron. 24.17, 18. I note these three circumstan∣ces on the words.
First, the time, after Jehojada, he had made a co∣venant before in the time of Joash; the Kingdome had made a Protestation, just such as ours that we have lately made 2 Chron. 23.16. Jehojada made a Covenant betweene him and all the people, and between the King, that they should be the Lords people. There∣fore they durst not shew their heads, to seduce the King when Jehojada was alive; because he was the Page 14chiefe stickler in the protestation. That was the time; they watched when Jehojada was gone; as now a dayes wicked Counsellers laboure to remove the godly from about the King; take away Jebojada, and then they have their oportunity.
Secondly, the Persons; the Nobles, the Gran∣dies; but Idolatrous Nobles, corrupt in Religion: It seemes they went to Church before, they disco∣vered not themselves in Jehojada's dayes; they took the protestation, therefore they were Church Pa∣pists, Church Idolaters, conformable in Jehojada's time, so much the worse. These were the men that when they had staid and lived so long conformable, when that good man that was the Kings support was taken away they seduced him.
Thirdly, marke the manner, and meanes to bring about the project, Obeysance; they came and did o∣beysance; by insinuation and flattery: they ado∣red his sacred Majesty, and ascribed more (per∣chance) then he expected, and more then was fit to be ascribed to a man. By this you see my first in∣stance confirmed; the danger and mischiefe of the wicked before the King, in respect of seducing and flattery; you see I have proved it by the wisest King that ever lived, and by King Joash, a man in whose dayes they had made a covenant against I∣dolatry; yet the wisedome in the one, and the covenant in the othet, when good Counsellours were taken away, and a hedge of evill Counsel∣lours Page 15surrounded them, were not able to stand against the streame.
Secondly, for perverting a Prince from Ju∣stice, Judgement and Law (for still I am upon the point of seducing by Flattery.) First, from the truth of Religion, and then from Justice and Judgement, take an instance or two there. Thus Doeg seduced Saul against the Lords Priests (though he bore them a little good will before) see what a mischievous Edomite may doe with a King; he was an Edomite, one of another Nati∣on, and of another Religion; but it seemes the King had admitted him to his Privie Councell, at least to his Councell of Warre, 1 Sam. 22. ver. 9. Then answered Doeg the Edomite, which was over the servants of Saul, and said, I saw the Sonne of Saul comming to Ahimelech, the sonne of Ahi∣t•b. When Saul heard that David was discove∣red, Saul said to his servants that were about him, heare now ye Benjamites, is there none of you will shew me that my Sonne hath stirred up my servant a∣gainst me, to lye in waite, as at this day. Saul spake not to Edomites, but to Benjamites. But see his forwardnesse, then answered Doeg the Edomite, &c. vers. 9. And he tels such a tale, that he kindled the King against all the Lords Priests, that he sent speedily for them, and commanded them to be slaine; and when none else would doe it, the com∣plainer was the executioner, vers. 18. And the King said to Doeg, turne thou and fall upon the Priests; Page 16and Doeg the Edomite turned and fell upon the Priests, and smote with the edge of the sword, man, woman, and child; he doth more then he is commanded to doe. That is one instance.
But you will say, Saul was a King deserted of God, the spirit was gone from him and he was a wicked King.
See then in a good King, the force of the wicked before the King, that is, about the Throne; they are of force to draw a holy King, a man after Gods owne heart, contrary to his protestations and inten∣tions; they are of force to draw him aside, and to keepe him from doing of justice. Look on Ziba in Davids time and reigne; the 101. Psal. is Da∣vids protestation, where he promiseth and protests in the presence of God (and doubtlesse the man did meane as he speakes) To doe justice and judge∣ment, to walke in his house with a perfect heart, and no evill thing should abide in his sight and presence; him that slandered his Neighbour he would destroy, and he would cut off the wicked from the Land. But Ziba tels a tale of Mephibosheth, a slanderous lie, that he did not come to meet David, because he ho∣ped the Throne should be established upon the house of his Father. Hereupon David gives a rash sentence, that Mephibosheths lands must be forfei∣ted, and Ziba shall have them; and afterward when Mephibosheth tels ye truth, that he was a loyall Subject, and so sympathized with the King, that he did not cut his haire, nor wash his hands, nor shave Page 17himselfe during the Kings troubles; yet Ziba be∣ing neere about the King, so prevailed that he could not doe judgement at the last, compare 2 Sam. 16.3, 4. with 2 Sam. 19.29. where he saith, J have said, thou and Ziba divide the lands: Is this accor∣ding to his protestation? Would not a man have believed, when he said J will walke in my house with an upright heart, that he did meane according to his expression? Yes without doubt he did; but it is not as David meanes, but as the Court stands affe∣cted, and the Courtiers about him: for though the Princes meaning be pious, if there be such a∣bout him, their seduction, and fraud, and flatterie, may carry him against his owne intentions, by the efficacy and power of fawning Courtiers to seduce a sincere Soveraigne to wrong his best and loyallest Subjects. David had not a more loyall Subject, then that honest hearted mortified spirited Mephi∣bosheth, yet notwithstanding that he was so deser∣ving a man, notwithstanding David was so sincere a King, and made so full a protestation, he drawes him aside and miscarries him. Many other exam∣ples I could produce. This is the first mischiefe and danger of the wicked before the King, the danger of flattery and seducing.
The second danger is of mis-information, (for these are of serious consequence, and if they be se∣riously considered, they will put a sharper edge upon the sword of justice in your hands, (for it is the sword of justice that you carry) then any o∣ther Page 18argument whatsoever.) Secondly the danger of the wicked about the King, is in mis-information, and evill Counsell, and over-counselling, and over∣bearing a Prince in counsell; they may draw aside a Prince: The example of Rehoboam is famous, he was the sonne of this Solomon, 1 King. 12. There were two sorts of Counsellers about the King. First the old men that sate before his Father, the grave Counsell, the old Parliament of Israel, as we read ver. 6, 7. and what doe they advise him to? Gen∣tlenesse and moderation, to speake kindly to the people, and to be their servant that day, and they were his for ever. The other were the yong Coun∣sellers, the Calvaleeres counsell, hot spirits, high spirits that were younger, and they contrary give advice; they will have him that he shall be a King by the sword, by power, and might, and scourges, and whips, and scorpions to fetch them in; and they shall try whether he shall be a King or none; and the sad issue we read of in ver. 16. It was per∣nicious though it were pleasing Counsell; thus in Rehoboams case.
Anothers instance I could give you in Ahasueros, that mighty Prince, that had so many score of provinces; yet Haman was too hard for him in Counsell. In Hest. 3. there we read of Hamans Pur; he cast lottes, he went to the Devill, and to witches, that he might find a way to compasse it to bewitch the King. His insinuation to the King, was, that it was not for the Kings profit to suffer them; Page 19and they were a people that were scattered, and had other lawes, contrary to other Nations (the same lawes that were used in the Northerne troubles, and are now used in all England) and so he prevailed, and inclosed King Ahsuneros with these arguments, being too hard for him in Counsell, that he made him to signe away the life of his owne wife, that he did not know or understand till afterward.
But besides those two that I have named, which both prove the danger of the wicked about the King in respect of counsell; take in the third place, the instance of King Darius, that comes pat to our times. The Courtiers were too hard for Darius, they captived him in their counsels, they over-ma∣stered him, they inwrapped him that he could not see the truth, he could not see the bottome, Dan. 6.4, 5, 6. we are a notable paralell for it; the Malig∣nants, they had a designe upon Daniel, because he was of a more excellent spirit then they; and be∣cause the King set him above the rest of the Presi∣dents. Then in the 5. ver. say they, we shall not find occasion against him, except it be concerning the Law of his God; and they assembled and made a decree, that whosoever should aske any petition of God or man for 30. dayes but onely of the King, he should be cast into the denne of Lyons. In verse 9. Darius signes the writing, he gives it under his hand and seale, he con∣sents to it and likes it well, because it was according to his present information; he saw not the depth of the designe; but after he saw it, when the designe Page 20was unmasked and unvizarded, and he espyed the bottome of the project, the King was farre enough from consenting in that sense, and to that end that they intended; for in ver. 14. when the King heard these words, that is, that they meant to accuse Dani∣el, he was sore displeased.
If a man had asked these men the question, or had taken up Armes against them, or had supplicated against it, they would have said, It is the King, oh we come in the name of the King, we have it under his hand and seale: They had it by a wyle, an in∣vention that turned it another way then the King intended; but after when he saw it, he was willing to recall his hand and seale; but they pressed him, thou hast signed a decree, &c. Therefore you shall find that afterward, He set his heart to deliver Dani∣el, and to revoke his owne decree upon better infor∣mation, and to recall that that he had not onely spoken, but had given it under his hand and seale, but the men were too hard for him in counsell.
I speake this mainly, because there are those, that if they can (though upon mis-information) get but the word, or the hand, or person of the King to confirme, and signe what they doe, it must be ac∣counted rebellion, and treason, and what not for men to labour better to informe the Prince, and to undeceive him: when we see it is common in Scrip∣ture, that Princes have given more thankes to them that have undeceived them, and delivered them from their owne hands and seales, that they have Page 21beene ptevailed upon to give upon mis-informati∣on, then ever they did to them that obtained them at their hands. Therefore in verse 9. King Darius sealed the writing; but in verse 14. He was displea∣sed with himselfe and set his heart upon Daniel to de∣liver him. That is the second. First the danger of seducing by flattery; secondly, of evill Coun∣sell.
The third is the danger and mischiefe of force and violence; The taking away of the wicked from before the King, is a meanes to establish his Throne in Righteousnesse, because of the violence, and the force that a King is in danger of; when the wicked are about the Throne, his person is in danger to be mastered by their force, and power, and strength. 2 Sam. 3.38. See it in David. Malignants may be too hard for a King by force, and violence, as well as by flattery and Counsell. The King said to his servants, Know ye not that a Prince, and a great man is fallen in Israel? I this day am weake though an∣nointed King, and these men the sonnes of Zerviah are too hard for me. This was the case, Joab had kil∣lyd Abner trecherously, David was King, Joab was the Generall of his Army and his kins-man, David was Unkle to Joab and his brother, they were his ne∣phewes; Joab had slaine Abner basely, it was a murther, and a trecherous murther, and David was King and should have done justice, and he had pro∣tested it, yet these were too hard for him, not in point of seducing by flattery, or of evill Counsell, Page 22but by force and violence. David could not make his party good against Joab, because he was Gover∣nour of the Army, and he was afraid that Joab might make more force then he, and so he mastered the King, and kept him from doing of justice, though he were a just King, and had vowed to doe justice, and blood called upon him: Yet these sonnes of Zerviah (for there were three of them, but one was slaine) these grand Cavaleeres, when they had gotten the sword in their hand, though their pre∣tence were to help David, yet afterward they o∣ver-mastered him, and would kill and slay, and David could not check them for it.
The like may be said of the great ones about King Zedekiah, that example though it be large is per∣tinent, Jer. 37. he was a friend to Jeremiah, but the Princes bore him downe and would have the blood of Ieremiah; he had great ones about him so long as they would have what they listed, contrary to the King, and mastered him, ver. 21. Then Zedekiah commanded to put Ieremiah into the court of the pri∣son. Here the King favours the Prophet according to his request, he frees him out of the greatest straite he was in: Yet after, the power of the No∣bles turned the streame, as we find, Ier. 38.4. read ver. 1. what the Princes were, Shephariah the sonne of Mattan, and Gedaliah the son of Pashur, and Iucal the son of, &c. foure of the Kings great favourites a∣bout him, they said, we beseech thee let this man be put to death: for thus he weakneth the hands of the men of Page 23warre that remaine in this City, and the hands of all the people, in speaking such words unto them; for this man seeketh not the welfare of this people, but the hurt. Then Zedekiah the King said, behold he is in your hands, &c. Yet before he had done him good, and favoured him, and intended to favour him; but they forced the King by violence, they did over∣master him, and over-beare him, and made him goe contrary to his mind and intention: And afterward when Ebedmelech the Ethiopian, a good Courtier, had informed the King that Ieremiah was innocent, as we read ver. 8.9. Ebedmelech went forth out of the Kings house, and spake to the King saying, My Lord the King, these men have done evill in all that they have done to Ieremiah the Prophet, whom they have cast into the dungeon, and he is like to die for hunger in that place where he is, Then the King was of another mind, and in ver. 10. he commanded him to take thirty men to take Ieremiah out of the dungeon be∣fore he died. And Ebedmelech tooke the men with him, and went into the house of the King under the Treasury, &c. Then in ver. 14. Zedekiah the King sent and tooke Jeremiah into the third entry of the house of the Lord, into a secret place, for the Princes about him were too hard for him, and he durst not be knowne to his Courtiers that he had any corres∣pondency with Ieremiah. See how lamentably a King may be captivated by the wicked that are about the Throne. Ier. 38.14. Zedekiah sent and tooke Ieremiah into the third entry of the house of Page 24the Lord, and said, I will aske thee a thing, hide nothing from me. Then Ieremiah said unto Zede∣kiah, if I declare it unto thee wilt thou not surely put me to death? And if I give thee counsell wilt thou not hearken unto me? So the King sware secretly to Jere∣miah saying, as the Lord liveth that made us these souls, I will not put thee to death, neither will I give thee into the hands of these men that seeke thy life. Then said Ieremiah, thus saith the Lord; he gives him counsell. In ver. 24. saith Zedekiah, let no man know these words and thou shalt not die: and if the Princes heare that I have talked with thee, and they come unto thee, and say unto thee, Declare unto us now what thou hast said unto the King, hide it not from us, and we will not put thee to death; also what the King said unto thee. Then thou shalt say unto them, I presented my supplication before the King, that he would not cause me to returne to Ionathans house to die there. The King bids him pop them off with another answer, and durst not be known that he had talked with the man of God: he was over-mastered by his Courtiers that hedged him round, they over∣mastered him by their power. Is there not need then, and is it not just to take away the wicked from be∣fore the King that his Throne may be established in Righteousnesse? If there be danger of mischiefe all these wayes, of seduction by flattery, though a King intend never so sincerely; and of evill counsell in over-bearing him, and circumventing him, that Page 25he shall not be able to sound into the depth of their designes; and of violence, when they have gotten swords enow into their owne hands, to make a pri∣soner of the King, and yet to doe all in his name as if he were the chiefe Commander: there is good reason that the wicked should be taken away from before the King; and that the taking them away is the stablishing his Throne in Righteousnesse.
But here an objection must be cleared before I touch the application.
The objection is this, you will say it is true, wee all agree that the taking away of the wicked from before the King is the stablishing of his Throne in Righteousnesse, and that the wicked should be taken away from before the King; But stay,
Who must be the takers away?
And how must they be taken away? For this seemes to be the nick of the point, and the whole question is tripartite,
Who must be removed? By whom?
And how must they be removed? and so shall my answer be. Briefly,
First, who must be taken away, I touched before, but now shall more fully and clearly answer.
First, generally, the wicked; originally, it is the evill and ungodly thing: but so it includes all wick∣ed persons, things and acts that are before the throne, Prov. 23. Righteousnesse exalteth a Na∣tion, but sinne is a reproach to any people. That is the generall: all provoking evill things, persons & acts.Page 26
But secondly, and more particularly, all evill things, acts and persons.
First, in point of Religion; so Maacah and her Idoll must goe downe, 2 Chron. 15.16. So treche∣rous Abiather the Priest must be banished, 1 King. 1.26. So Joashes Princes must be casheered, 2 Chro. 24.
Secondly, as in Religion, so in the Camp; bloody Joab, though he be neer the King, must have justice; and Adonijah if need be, because he is a Subject, must be cut off, 1 King. 2.25.
Thirdly, in the Court; Doeg and Ziba, and Ha∣man, with Zedechiah's Counsellers, and Princes that were too hard for him; and Darius Princes that were too hard for him; they all must be re∣moved and taken away. All in short that David names in Psal. 101. I will early destroy the wicked of the Land, that I may cut off evill doers from the City of my God. That is, as farre as they are knowne and convicted, they may not be protected but yeeld∣ed up to justice.
Secondly, who must remove, which is the man that must doe this? There is the question; who must be the removers and takers away? (I goe still with a clew of Scripture in my hand.)
I answer, the Kings authority must doe it, I have Scripture for it, Pro. 20.8. The King that sitteth in the Throne of judgement, scattereth away the evill with his eyes. Let me explaine this Text, and the great knot is untied. The King that sitteth, &c. By Page 27the King in the Throne of Judgement, we are to understand, not the pleasure and will of a King, no nor the very strict person of a King; but we are to understand the Royall authority as it is exercised according to Law; therefore he saith the King sit∣ting upon the Throne, that is, the King in the Court of judicature; he scattereth away the evill with his eyes, he affrighteth and judgeth, and removeth wicked persons and things, by looking narrowly after them. So that in two words, if you would know who must be the removers, it is Royall au∣thority, The King upon the Throne of judgement, that is, the King in all his Courts of Justice: for concerning the will of a Prince, none can be so un∣reasonable as to imagine that the will of the Prince must tell, who shall be taken away, and who shall be saved; for then it is not Monarchy, but Tyranny. Then for the person of the Prince, he sits not in the Courts, he is the Center and therefore is unmoove∣able, and all the lines are drawne from him; the judicature of Parliament, as the highest Court, the greatest line drawne from the Center of Royall au∣thority, and all other petty lines under it.
But you will say, if the King were in the Parlia∣ment, then there were the Royall authority, that should take away the wicked from before the Throne.
I answer, can the tything man doe his office, and the Constable, and petty Courts, and the presence of the King not be required for the execution Page 28of them; and shall the Supreame Court of the Kingdome have leffe power then Court-leet, or Court-Baron? Let reason and sense judge: So when it is asked who shall remove them? I say, Royall authority. This is that that Peter meanes, 2 Pet. 2.13, 14. Submit your selves to every Ordi∣nance of man, for the Lords sake; whether it be to the King as Supreame, or unto Governours, as them that are sent of him for the punishment of evill doers, and for the praise of them that doe well. This Text is commonly perverted by our rotten Divines. Sub∣mit to every Ordinance of man for the Lords sake: the Ordinance is of man, the stamp of it is of God. There be diverse Ordinances of man, of Monarchy, of Aristocracy, suppose of Democracy. Whatsoever the Ordinance of man be in the land thou livest in; if it be in the Low-Countries, submit to the Or∣dinance of Aristocracy for the Lords sake; if it be in England, submit to the Ordinance of Monarchy for the Lords sake; if in another place submit to that Ordinance for the Lords sake; still the Ordi∣nance is of man, theirs is the mettle, and the stamp is of God. For the Lords sake, whether it be to the King as the Supream, or to Officers sent of him; why? for what? For the punishment of evill doers, and the praise of them that doe well; so the Ordinance is to the praise of them that doe well, and the punish∣ment of them that doe evill. Now the Ordinance in out Kingdome you know what it is, it is upon a pact or compact, and the greatest priviledge of the Page 29Subject in that pact, is the great assembly of Par∣liament.
But how must this be done? If Royall authori∣ty must doe it, the King in his judicature, from the Parliament to the Constable must take away the wicked from before the King, that is, as far as they are convicted, and as farre as his Office extends.
But how must they be taken away?
I answer, by divers swords.
First, by the sword of the mouth, if it be possible by gentle admonitions, and sharp reprehensions. So Solomon dealt with Adonijah, and with Shimei; first he gave them gentle monitions; and if words will doe, it is a thousand pitties that blowes should be used: But if monitions, and reprehensions, and summons, and warrants will not doe it,
Then the sword of Justice, as in those two cases; so when Adonijah would not take admonition, when Shimei would not take reprehension, but both transgressed the Law after, both suffered by the sword of Justice.
But what if Delinq make a party against the sword of Justice, and there be a sword of rebellion against the sword of Justice, that that cannot prevaile?
Then in the third place the sword of warre; if the sword of the mouth will not doe it (as you know what great trying and labouring there hath beene by the pen.) Next the sword of Justice hath beene endeavoured to bring them to condigne pu∣nishment; but if that will not doe, the sword of Page 30warre, if rebellion make head against Justice; I speak not this of my selfe but from the Lord; look in Judg. 20. the history of the men of Gibeah, they had committed a notorious fact, they had ravished a Concubine, and ravished her to death. Here was first the sword of the mouth used; the Tribes came together, and sent to the Benjamites to deliver the delinquents; and then they offered the sword of Justice to end the businesse. But they draw the sword of warre, and resist Justice, and come and make head against the assembly, and determination of that Parliament. Hereupon God bids them draw the sword of warre, and fetch the delinquents by force; they met together and wept, and God bad them goe up; the cause was his, it was not pro∣perly a sword of warre, but a martiall sword of Justice.
But you will say, then there was no King in Israel.
What of that? Is there lesse authority to fetch out delinquents because there is a King? Is he the obstructer or the promoter of Justice? not the ob∣structer, but promoter of it.
Besides, though there were not the name of a King, there was regall authority, the Scepter was then in Judah; as we tead in Judg. 1.2. Judg. 20.18. Judah must still goe up first.
The use (which I intend to be but short in) is for in∣formation. If the taking away of the wicked from before the King establish his Thron in righteousnes, Page 31then let this my brethren convince your judgements and shew you a cleare warrant, nay the necessity of the cause and service you are on, and is now on foot through the Kingdome; I know the rotten Clergie and all Malignants will tell you that this party fight against the King; yet the Scripture tels you, that such men as labour to remove the wicked in a legall way from before the King, establish his Throne in Righteousnesse. Now I put it to the quere, Are not these wicked that are endeavoured to be removed? Are they not robbers, traitors, ravishers, rebels and delinquents? And it is the removing of them in a legall way, because you are called to it by authority and by every branch of your protestation.
These are the heads of the Protestation: First, Religion, and that cals on you, because Papists are in armes, and are great Commanders, and are now fighting against our Religion.
Secondly, your Soveraigne cals upon you in his highest Court of Parliament; his soule, and his body both call for it: for they must needs be both in danger amongst unreasonable and bloody men.
Thirdly, the Parliament, and in it all the Par∣liaments for time to come. If this Parliament faile, you may all write, Lord have mercy on us, as you doe upon infected houses; you may write it up∣on the doores of the Parliament, and upon all the houses of the Land.Page 32
You will say, not so, for there is a trienniall Par∣liament granted.
Is it possible to gather a trienniall Parliament hereafter, if we be not able to keepe together a Par∣liament that is set, for which we have as good an Act as for the other? He that will be blinde may be, by supposing that we may get a Parliament if we can∣not keepe this now we have an Act for it.
Fourthly, your Lawes call upon you; they be all trampled under-foot: there is no punishment for robbers, killing is now no sinne, rapes and ra∣vishings are not questioned, they are not to be taxed.
Fiftly, your Priviledges call on you: who can say, what is mine, if these things goe on?
But you will say, his Majesty in his Declarati∣ons seemes to dislike of this course of going to warre.
We must distinguish of his Majesties being a∣mong his Cavaliers, and his Majesty sirting in his Parliament. Among his Cavaleeres as he is now, he is a prisoner (for ought I know) by force, or by fraud, or under their Counsell; that we all see cleare. His Majesty among the Cavaleeres, and the Declarations, and Ordinances, and Messages comming through their hands, that is one thing; but take His Majesty as in his Parliament, and I thinke you will thinke that when he were better informed and advised, he would be of another mind.Page 33
You will say, if we were sure of that, that he would be of another mind, we should be satisfied.
What could God doe more? Hath he not given you a pledge in your owne hands already? Within these two yeeres, His Majesty gave out all His De∣clarations and Protestations against Scotland; we see a great deale of difference, betweene His Ma∣jesty with the Malignants, and with His Parliament, for we see afterwards he gave the Scots thanks, and gave thanks through all the Kingdome; when the spectacles were taken off his nose, and he saw aright, then they where brethren, and dismissed in peace. What could the Lord doe more to prepare you for this time, and against this stumbling block? If His Majesty were misled so lately, is it not pro∣bable he would now returne againe if he could get out of these mens hands; considering especially that these were the speciall sticklers, the commit∣ters, and promoters of the Northern troubles.
But His Majesty promiseth to maintaine Religion and the Lawes.
Though he do graciously, yet the Cavaleers promise the contrary, and therefore as I said of David and Zedekiah, and those that were surrounded with flat∣terers and evill Counsellers, It was not what David promised, but what Joab would give leave to be done; It was not what Zedekiah promised, but what his Princes would give way to. Now we read His Ma∣jesties promises, and we feele the Cavaleers deniall. Page 34We question not but His Majesty intends the things that he speakes; but when I feele on my skin, the quite contrary, I must conclude, that how ever His Majesty promise, and intend this, yet they re∣solve the contrary.
Would you have instance? His Majesty promi∣seth the defence of the true protestant Religion; the Cavaleeres take in Papists, and they are the chiefe Commanders in the Army. I heare His Majesties promise, and I beleeve His intentions, but I feele the Cavaleeres practise directly contrary. So I heare His Majesty say he will deliver delinquents to punishment; and Cavaleeres promote them, and they goe in the head of the Army. I heare His Majesty protest and promise that He intends to maintaine the Lawes, the priviledges of Parlia∣ment, and the propriety of the Subject; but the Cavaleeres rob, and kill, and slay against all Law, so that no man can say this is his owne. So that this must be the answer, His Majesty protests these things, and we take them as His purposes; but the Cavaleeres doe the contrary, wee feele it on our skins, it sticks close to us.
Therefore abruptly for the result of all; for His Majesties protestations and promises, we cannot but thankfully accept them; and what better way to expresse our thankfulnesse, then to goe against wicked men that goe against His promises, and redeeme Him from the hands of these wicked Page 35creatures, that he may be able to make good His Protestations indeed, from which they keepe Him by over-counselling Him, and over-mastering Him? I have beene abrupt, But I hope that some seeds of that that hath beene spoken may take impression.