A SERMON Preached before The Honourable House OF COMMONS, At the publique FAST, Febr. 28. 1643.
ZECHARIAH 3. vers. 1, 2.
And he shewed me Ioshua the high Priest, standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.
And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan, even the Lord that hath chosen Ierusalem, rebuke thee: Is not this a brand pluckt out of the fire?
THe wise Preacher observes well that there is no new thing under the Sun, * that there is no∣thing whereof truly it can be said, it is altoge∣ther new: but the most strange accidents of our dayes have been already of old time which was before us. This wise observation was one of the Pillars whereupon Solomon setled his spirit when it was Page 2much vexed with the sense of the extreme vanity, and un∣utterable labour, which he had felt and seen under the Sunne even in his dayes, which were more then ordinarily prospe∣rous. This consideration will be very proper for these people or persons, who after a long prosperity are afflicted with a sudden and unexpected calamity: while their spirit is new and unacquainted with such a variation, it is filled with griefe, with feare and amazement; but when they find that no other thing hath befallen then what often before hath beene, and often afterward will fall out; in place of these griefes, feares amazements, patience, contentment and hope, (much better guests) begin to possesse the soule.
Doubtlesse to our first Parents the darknesse of the first night was somewhat strange, Persons who had never seene any thing but the light of the day, when the shadowes of the night first did incompasse them, could not be without some apprehension: yet when at the backe of a number of nights they had seen the day spring of the morning light constantly to arise; the darknesse of the blackest nights was past over without feare, and in so great security, as the light of the fairest dayes. To men who have always lived upon land, when first they set to sea, the winds, waves, and stormes, are excee∣ding terrible; but when they are a little beaten with the experience of tempests, their feares doe change into resolu∣tion and courage. It is of no small use to remember that those things which vexe most our spirit, are not new, but have already been in times before our dayes.
Unto this ground of courage against the vanities and vexa∣tions of this life, * the Preacher addes another much more strong. Whatsoever God doeth it shall be for ever, nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it; for God doth it that men should feare before him, and God requireth that which is past. All these things which now are, which have already been, and againe shall be hereafter, are not onely managed and guided by the good hand of our God but also are so acted by him, that creatures can neither adde unto, nor diminish from these workes of justice and mercy which the Almighty arme Page 3of the most High doth daily worke on the earth for this end, that men may acknowledge and feare, may love and trust in his holy Name.
The children of God in this land on whom the present warre hath brought very heavy affliction, * and who yet are afraid for sadder consequents, cannot but be encouraged, if they beleeve that all these fearefull accidents are wrought by the hand of their gracious Father in his deepe wisedome and great justice. That as the counsels of the best men have not diminished any of them, so the plots of the most malicious have added nothing to the measure wch his hand hath mete out. Neither hereafter by all the activity of our enemies, men or devils, shall any more trouble be brought upon us, then that which the Lord our God by his owne hand shall bring on.
Also that no other miseries shall ever befall us then such as in former times God hath brought about to very happy ends and blessed conclusions: for God now doth require nothing but what is past, the acts of his providence in our dayes are but repetitions of his ancient proceedings. Were the Lord now to begin to guide the world, we might seeme to have reason of feare for the issue of many difficult passages. When a hard piece of worke is put in the hand of an Apprentice for the first assay of his skill, the beholders are justly afraid for a miscarriage in his young and unexperienced hand; but when the worker is an old master of Craft, none are afraid but his cunning hand can act again what so oft it hath wrought to the contentment of all the beholders. Were our God a Novice in the great art of governing the world, and of the Church in the bosome thereof; had he to this day never given any proofe of his infinite wisedome, power, and goodnesse, in turning about the most terrible accidents to the welfare and joy of his Saints; we might indeed be amazed when ever we feele our selves sinking in the dangers wherein the practises of our Enemies oft doe plunge us over head and eares: But the Lord having given in times past so many documents of his uncontroverted skill and most certaine will to bring about all humane affaires, as to his owne glory, so to the reall good Page 4of all that love him, it would be in us an impious and unex∣cusable uncharitablenesse to suspect the end of any worke which he hath begun, much lesse of this great Reformation now in hand, whose foundation God hath laid, whose wals he hath so farre advanced, whose gracious and beautifull Cap∣stone in his time must be set on, maugre all opposition.
These two considerations are very fit to under-prop a weake mind in its fainting under the weight of griefes and feares, * but behold a third, which if not removed makes both the former without all use and fruit. There is no remembrance of former things, neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after. How∣ever it be most true that all our present troubles of Church and State, be no other but the selfe-same which in former times have befallen the people of God, and which oft the hand of God hath wrought to a happy conclusion: yet our forgetfulnesse, our ignorance and inconsideration makes all these accidents, and Gods providence about them to be in vain and fruitlesse unto us, as if never such matters had been.
For the remedy of this great evill, * the maine cause of many minds perturbation and disquietnesse this day, to helpe us to know and remember what hath beene of old, our mercifull Father beside other very profitable histories in hu∣mane writs, hath made for us a perfect Register in his holy Scripture of the ancient passages of his providence, wherein as in a glasse we may behold the cleare Image of our dayes, and by a judicious comparing of what we read, with what we feele, by a wise paralelling of times with times, we may at∣taine to such patience and comfort in our worst dayes, as will support us with hope and confidence of a glorious deliverance from all our present affliction.
For this end it is that we have read in your honourable audience this portion of the Prophet Zachariah:* for as in the whole prophesie, so especially in this third Chapter he sets downe a Register of the estate of old Israel in his dayes, so like to our times that we may justly take the one for a type, a patterne, a lively image of the other. The people of God af∣ter Page 5a long captivity in Babel, after many yeers oppression both in Religion and civill liberties, at last by the hand of God were delivered: Their Babylonish tyrants, too strong for their weak hands to deale with, in a suddain were overthrowne by the hand of God, so that afterwards these oppressors were never able to stand: The poore captives returned freemen in great joy to Ierusalem, with full hope to set up quickly both their Temple and Citie, to restore without any impediment both their Church and State to the ancient glory: But incontinently they were troubled with so many enemies both at home and abroad, that they gave over the worke begun, and for too long a time fainted in a pitifull despaire to get either their Temple or City rebuilded: so great were their crosses and insuperable their difficulties in their intended and joyfully begun repara∣tion of that ruined Church and Kingdom; notwithstanding when all hands were hanging downe and all knees were feeble, when a hopelesse fainting had stupified and taken away the wonted care of the publike, from the hearts both of their Princes, Priests and people, the Lord in mercy wakened them by the ministery of two new Prophets, Haggai and Zachariah, whereby he put againe in all their spirits so vigorous a life, that they set upon the work with such a magnanimous and zealous resolution as nothing could withstand them to the very end and perfection of their endeavours, they never rested till both the Temple and wall of the Citie were fully accomplished.
The vision set downe in this chapter, * was one of these hea∣venly messages whereby that undaunted courage was in∣spired in the breasts of that otherwise languishing and dis∣couraged people; you may divide it in three parts: In the first you have the great impediments of all their designes for the reparation of their Church and State.
[ 2] In the second the removing of these impediments. In the third, the ground and cause of their removeall.
The first two parts are intertext and woven in together from the beginning to the eighth verse: the great impedi∣ments of all their endevours were not men, but spirits; were not forraine, but homebred enemies; not others, but them∣selves: Page 6Satan stood at Ioshua's right hand to resist him: Ioshua was cloathed with foule garments, with his owne manifold sinnes, and the sinnes of the people, whom he represented before God: these sins were the fountain of all the opposi∣tion they found from any man; many enemies there were to the Work of God in the midst of Israel, many in the neigh∣bouring Countries many in the Court of the King of Persia; but the Leader of all these was a malignant spirit, a powerfull Devill, so malapert and impudent as to oppose Ioshua before the face of Christ himselfe. Yet neither men nor devills were their principall enemies; the great sins that notwithstanding all their troubles the people still did commit, were the strength of the Devill, whereby he stopt most the progresse of the great and gracious work in their hand.
As for the second part, *the removall of all the named ob∣structions, this was in the favour of God, first in rebuking the Devill that was unsatiable in malice; who not content with all the fire of tribulation wherein that poor Church and King∣dom was already made like a Charcoale, a Brand, a Burnt stick taken out of the fire, did farther assay to burne them to ashes, and without pity went about to destroy them all utterly. 2. That strong hold of Satan, the sinnes of the Priests and Peo∣ple is broken downe; the mercy of the Lord freely pardons all their transgressions. Neither this only, but a third blessing is granted, the graces of the Spirit are poured out upon them for Sanctification; The foule garments are pulled off, and change of new glorious garments is put on. In the fourth place, a gracious Covenant is made with Ioshua for two things, 1. His continuance in service before God in the temple while he lived, next for a place when he died among the Angels who stand in heaven before the throne of God.
In this is the great comfort of the repairers of Sion, of all the sincere friends of Jerusalem, That albeit for a time they have strong and dangerous wrastlings with men and Devills, they be oft vexed with the guilt of by-gone transgressions, with the strength of present corruptions, with the feare of future mis-accidents in life, in death: yet at last in all these Page 7they become more then Conquerours, the Devill by the mouth of Christ is chased away from further molesting them, the spots of sinne are washed off, as if they never had been on, the strength of corruption is abated, they are clothed and made Beautifull with the graces of the Spirit, they are assured of perseverance and Gods acceptation of continuall service at their hand; they have the Lords Protestation that after all their labours for his honour, the welfare of his Church and their mother countrie, they shall be translated to an Evangelick felicitie, to stand before the celestiall throne, injoy∣ing the face of God and all the fulnesse of joy thence flowing: when others, the opposits of the worke of God, the retarders of the building of the Temple and Citie, shall be rebuked with Satan their leader, and cast with him into that utter darknesse where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The true procurer of all these favours was Christ the Mes∣sias to come, * spoken of in the third part from the eight verse to the end.
Ioshua and his companions were wondred at as mad fools, * who would venture their peaceable and quiet estate in Babel with the hazard of a long and dangerous voyage to the deso∣late Land of Judea, and when they came there would not rest in ease, but without feare of provoking the great King of Persia, without regard of plottings within by false friends, of open armes without by professed foes, not considering their owne weaknesse nor the greatnesse of the interprize of build∣ing a temple, of fortifying a City, went on with courage: this by some was derided, by others wondred at: * yet them∣selves understood very well what they were doing, The Lord of hosts was with them, their help was in the name of the Lord.
Michael their Prince was a mediatour for them at the throne of God, though yet he was not borne, * yet in his divine nature he did execute the office of an intercessor for them with the Father, and the time did draw neere when he was to be brought forth as a branch: then he did lurke and lie hid within the vaile of heaven as a roote under the ground, Page 8yea the stock of Iesse whence he was to take flesh, was a withered tree in a dry Land: yet he was to spring out of it as a branch which from a small twigg was to become a great boulke, wherein all the plants of God behoved to be graffed, that by his fatnesse they might flourish in the Courts of the Lord and bring forth their fruit in due season.*
This branch was that stone which Ioshua did lay in the foundation of the second temple: for Christ is the rock wher∣upon the Church is builded so firmely that the Ports of hell may well assault, but shall not prevaile against it; he is a stone with seven eyes, not a dead, blinde stone, but living and seeing, filled with the Spirit of providence, able to foresee with a multitude, with a great and perfect number of eyes, all the dangers which can befall that House, and every living stone therein which is builded upon him; he is a carved and ingraven stone polished and adorned by the hand of the Fa∣ther with all the perfection of divine beautie: in which the carvings of his flesh by the wounds of his crosse, the agonies of his Spirit, * wherewith it pleased the Father to bruise him, are not of the least consideration; for from these chiefly flow the two great blessings, Pardon and Peace, wherewith the Chapter is closed. The Father for the sake of the passion of Christ put away the sinnes of the Land, * and that in on day: for the sacrifice of the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world was of another nature from these under the Law; these though continually offered, could never make the commers thereto perfect, but he by one offering hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Hence flowes a full and perfect peace, they who had been long vexed with a cruell and bloody war, by the Prince of peace are reconciled with God, for their sinnes in one day being removed by that one sacrifice, * the wrath of the Father was satisfied: Peace with God brings inward peace of conscience that passeth understanding;* and also peace with men so much as the Lord findeth expedient, when a mans wayes pleaseth the Lord he maketh his very enemies to be at peace with him:* The branch that sprang from the stem of Jesse makes the wolfe and the Lamb to dwell together, the Leopard Page 9to lie down in peace with the kid, the lion to eat straw with the oxe, the sucking child to play on the hole of the Aspe, the wean∣ed childe to lay his hand safely on the cockatrice den: and these men who have been spoiled of all, and banished from their ha∣bitations, to returne to their homes, and quickly so to prosper there, that they can call their neighbours, as of old, to feast and be glad with them under their Vine and Fig-tree, without the feare of any enemy, being safe and secure under the sha∣dow of the Branch, the Prince of peace.
So the Vision of this Chapter, which began with great trouble and danger, ends with as great peace and joy. Satan in the entry, with the assistance of sinne, vexing the Church with all the opposition his strength and craft was able to make: Christ in the end by his passion and spirit defeating Satan and sin, closeth the Churches warfare with a happy peace. All these things will be grounds to intelligent mindes of many sweet meditations in these times of perplexity; but leaving the rest, we will stand on the two first verses.
In the first whereof we have the great impediment of Sions reparation; In the second, *the powerfull removall of that impe∣diment. The former, for memory and order, may be divided into three; First, the information of it, he shewed unto me: This strong opposition which Satan made to the work was secret, till God by his Angel opened the eyes of the Prophet Zacha∣riah to behold it. Secondly, its time; when Joshua was stand∣ing before the Angel of the Lord. Thirdly, its matter; Satan stood on his right hand to resist him. Consider these three in order: their sense, the Doctrines arising from them, and the Uses of these Doctrines.
In the first, three things must be understood: The Informer;*The way of his Information; And the person informed. This he who informs, by the most ancient Greek and Latine Inter∣preters is expressed by the Lord,* but our Translators adhere to the Originall, and justly omit that addition to the Hebrew Text; for by adding to the words, they diminish from the sense. Doubtlesse the Lord was the giver of all these visions to the Prophet, but beside the operation of God, the mini∣stry Page 10of Angels is here imployed: The Angels are ministring spirits to the Church and all the Saints, as for many good uses, so for this in speciall, to reveale and declare the will of God to his servants the Prophets. That in this place not the Lord onely, but also his Angel, is understood, appeares by the be∣ginning of the next Chapter, The Angel that talked with me, and awaked me, came againe; so in this preceding Revelation he had been with the Prophet, and shewed him the Vision.
Consider further, from the first Chapter verse 9. that Za∣chariah had to doe with three kindes (so to speak) of An∣gels; one particularly deputed to him for his information, designed oft by this phrase, The Angel that talked with me; A second, called, a man sitting on a red horse in the bottome of the valley among the Myrtle-trees; A third, called, horsemen on red, white, and speckled horses, comming and going as the second Angel imployed them in his errands: Our words must be understood of the first, for the second was Christ, the An∣gel before whom Joshua here stands, who in the first Chap∣ter, when there is none to help the Church, is mounted on the back of his red fiery horse, though he appeare not, but lye in ambush in the bottome among the trees, ready in his sea∣son to make eruption with his Army of the third Angels, to fight against the wicked oppressors of his poore people.
The next word imports the way of information, *He shew∣ed unto me; In the Originall, He made me see: It was in the night, as is cleare from the first Chapter verse 8. I saw by night, and behold: The eyes of his body were closed, but his imagination was open, so the Angel spoke in him, as it is in the Originall, not to him, in audible sounds to his eare: The Angel framed the species (as they are called) of these things, which are the objects of hearing or seeing, or any outward sense within the Prophets imagination. This was an ordina∣ry way how God of old did communicate himselfe to the Prophets, by dreamet and visions, Numbers 6.12. some∣times immediately by himselfe alone; sometimes also by the ministry of Angels; by this meanes a blinde man, a sleeping man, * may see: So Abraham, though in a Page 11deep sleep, is said to see and heare; *Peter in a trance saw the sheet full of beasts; Paul, though blind, did see Ananias. Though God alone who searches the heart and the reines, hath power to worke immediately on the understanding, yet Angels, both good and evill, when God either permits or directs them, have power to work immediately on the inward senses both of men and beasts, as well sleeping as wa∣king, and to print upon their fancie all these objects, which use to be transmitted from any of the outward senses.
As for the third word, the person informed [Me,]* it is the Prophet Zachary. There be many Zacharies in Scrip∣ture, and which is considerable, there be two who are cal∣led the sonnes of Barachiah; the one of whom Christ saies, * that he was slaine between the Porch and the Altar, the sonne of Jehojada the high Priest, called also Johanan and Barachiah: Another Zachary the son of Barachiah is our Prophet, stiled a young man, the grand child of Iddo; that he was not slaine betwixt the Porch and the Altar, many reasons doe prove, which for shortnesse I omit: This is he who by another name is called, Matth. 27.12. Jeremy the Prophet; except you will read that place of Mat∣thew, with the Syriack Translatour, without the word Jeremy, for it is hard to admit the corruption of the Ori∣ginall Text, by the negligence of the Transcribers, mis∣taking the contracted word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 for 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, as some will have it; and it is harder, with Origen and Ierome, to admit any apocrypha parts of the Prophet Jeremy, now not ex∣tant; and hardest of all, with Augustine, to grant a mnemo∣nick errour, a slip of memorie in the holy Evangelist.
From these words thus exponed I draw but one doctrine, That God discovers and makes open to the eye,*the most secret plots against his work, and his servants about it: As here, what the divell himselfe is acting in greatest privacie against Ioshua, is made open. Wicked men have many deep conspiracies against God and his people; Satan joynes his craft to their counsels, when the deeps of Satan are joyned to the depths of crafty men, whose heart of it Page 12selfe is very profound, the plot is digged as deep as hell; the plotters become secure, and are not feared for any dis∣covery; they say in their heart, Who sees us? yet the Lord sees, and brings all to light for their shame: Isa. 29.13. The wisdome of their wise men shall perish: Woe unto them that seeke deep to hide their counsell from the Lord, and their workes are in the darke, and they say, Who sees us? Surely your turning of things upside downe shall be esteemed as the Potters clay. The wise men of this world, by their hid and deep policies, are confident to deceive their simple neighbours, by the greatnesse of their wit to turne all businesse up or downe at their pleasure; but the Lord by his light discovers their deepest and darkest Mines, by his power he breaks in pieces as a Potters vessell their subtilest devices: Dan. 2.22. he revealeth deep and secret things, he knoweth what is in the darknesse, and the light dwelleth with him: Proverbs 15.11. Hell and destruction are before the Lord, how much more the hearts of the children of men? Job 12.22. He discovereth deep things out of darknesse, and bringeth out to light the shadow of death.
In the Scripturall proofe you see a cleare reason of the point, * the judgment of God upon the profound Politici∣ans of this world, who by their wit, assisted with Satans cunning, assay to digge their projects so deeply under the ground, as the shallow wits of other weak men cannot reach them; but behold the plague of God upon their projects, his light shines in their darknesse, he draws up their designs, though as deep as hell; he brings out all their devices, and layes them before the eyes of the Sun, for the contrivers ut∣ter disgrace.
Another reason is, * the goodnesse of God to his people: the hellish plots of the wicked are to blow them up on a sudden, Psal 64. They commune to lay snares privily, they say, Who shall see us? their thoughts are very deep, that they may shoot suddenly at the upright in heart. The Lord marks all this wickednesse, for he is the watchman of Israel who never slumbers: his silly sheep would soon be catched, but Page 13his all-seeing eye, to which every creature is naked, is al∣wayes imployed for their custody: The seven eyes of the Lord run through the earth to search all the counsels taken against the Church, his eyes pierce the thoughts and reines of the craftiest foxes, *not a word in any mans tongue but he knoweth it altogether, and their thoughts afarre off: he found meanes to discover to David,* and to turne into meere folly the counsell of Achitophel, once wise as an Angel, though after wickedly crafty as a Divell: all the devices of Syria were made open to the King of Israel,* no word could be spoken in the bed-chamber of the King of Syria, but Elisha could tell it in Samaria.
The Use of this Doctrine is, first, * for thankfull acknow∣ledgment: Who hath discovered to us the manifold most mischievous designes of the enemy, these most secret and deeply contrived counsels, for the overthrow of our Reli∣gion, the destruction of our Parliaments, the inslaving of our persons and posteritie? who hath brought out these works before the eyes of the world? None but that God; who here by his Angel doth demonstrate to the eyes of his Prophet, the most secret practises of the Divell him∣self against Ierusalem. A catalogue of these discovered plots would be printed on the Table of our hearts, for the conti∣nuall praise of the mercifull discoverer.
A second use is for faithful dependence: * we know not what our adversaries this very hour are working under ground: this we know, that they are restless in their contrivings, like the Sea whose motion is perpetuall, not as the heavens for carrying about of light unto the world, but for defiling of the earth by casting up always upon it new dirt and tangle: like Satan their leader who cannot fit still, but goes ever to and fro on the earth, seeking whom he may devour, beginning ever some new plot where an old one ends. It is good for us to have our recourse by faith to him, to have our dependance upon him who is acquainted with all their consultations: when they digge much deeper then we can reach them, were it to the very hell, our God is Page 14there to see and hear all that is amongst them: we would still be praying that he would bring out their works of dark∣nesse, that by him we may be saved from their snares, and carried by their pits, that by his providence we may always escape the nets of these fowlers.
A third use is for advertisement of all, * to be very warie of secret contrivances against that cause which they have sworne to maintain: let all remember that the seven eyes of the Lord are ever upon them in the darkest of all their wayes; they speak not the word, they write not the letter in their most secret chambers, which the Lord can∣not bring abroad to the ears of the whole Isle for their per∣petuall shame: the miscariage of others should be thy in∣struction; wilt thou go on in a way of thine own for the hurt of those who are ingaged against the enemies of Re∣ligion and justice? wilt thou also correspond in a blind and secret way to undermine upon never so faire pretexts this poore distressed State? God shall find thee out, and as many already have made themselves infamous, thy shame like∣wise shall be proclaimed to this and after ages, so much the greater as the evident judgements of God upon many, have not diverted thee from running on to thy own ruine. Some like Balaam though an Angel from heaven would dis∣charge them from joyning with Moab against Israel, yet upon the deceiving hopes of wealth and preferment will go on though they should lose in the end both their life and salvation.
The last use is for wise diligence to have that abolished, * which yet in Gods mercy is covered from the eyes of the world: not to speake of publike miscariages against the Church or State, whereof possibly some, of whom there is no suspicion, may be as guilty as others who publikely are crucified with deserved infamy: But to hold upon person∣all faults, thou knowest not how soon the Lord may bring forth not only to the light of his own countenance, but to the eyes of the world thy secret wickednesse. This is a day wherein thou mayest get a cloake to cover thy naked∣nesse, Page 15that thy shame may never be seen: judge thy self and thou shall not be judged; confesse with heartie sorrow, and the Lord shall be just to forgive; lay hold on that sa∣crifice whose blood washes away the spots of sinne; hunger and thirst for that grace and Spirit of Christ, that morti∣fieth corruptions: lest if after this dayes repentance, sinne reigne in thee, seven worse spirits enter into thee, and the Lord bring forth not only before this world but which is much worse before man and angels in the great congre∣gation for thy everlasting shame, all the works of these devils in thee which now lie hid to the eyes of men.
So much for the first part, the information and discovery: * the matter discovered followes, and first the time or action wherein Ioshua was imployed when Satan did resist him, he was standing before the Angel of the Lord: for the expo∣sition of these words consider, first, who was this Ioshua the high Priest; secondly, who this Angel; thirdly, what this standing. For the first, * this man was Ioshua or Iesus the son of Iosedeck the high Priest, who returned with the captives from Babel, who set up the altar upon the bases before the Temple was builded, who did joyn with Zerubbabel the Prince and supreame Magistrate of the Jewes in found∣ing and perfecting the temple: these two were the two olive trees, which did contribute the golden oil of all the gifts which God bestowed on them, in advancing the work of the Lord about the State and Church of Israel. Sundry of the Ancients will have this Iesus to be Christ our Saviour, but this is a conceit so unconsistent with scrip∣ture and many reasons that it needs no confutation.
This Ioshua was a Priest, for before the death of Christ the speciall imployment of Gods ministers was to offer up those sacrifices, which were types and figures of that great oblation of the Lamb of God in a true propitiatorie: But when the body came the shadowes removed; whosoever would have the Ministers of the Christian Church to be truely Priests, would by that meanes bring backe the peda∣gogie of Moses, would set up the Antichristian sacrifice of Page 16the Masse, denying in deed as the Apostle oft reasons, that Christ is yet come, or hath offered a sufficient sacrifice for our redemption. Ioshua was the high Priest, Christ is the Lord of his own house, to order it every day according to his pleasure: in the new Testament he hath appointed all his Ministers to be brethren and equall, none to be high or a Prince above these of his order: but in the old Testament the policie is diverse, for there by the expresse command of God twenty four Princes the heads of the families of Aaron are set over the rest of the Priests to rule and govern them, and over them all one great and high Priest the chiefe of the house of Aaron was a type of Christ.
This Angel of the Lord is Christ the Son of God, * the Patrone of the Church against Satan, he who in the first chapter sends out a number of Angels as his servants, Michael the Prince who stands for the children of Israel, that Prince of Angels, *who with his Angels fights against the Dragon and his Angels, stiled by Jude the Archangel. Christ is called an angel, not for his nature, for he took not up∣on him the nature of Angels, * but the seed of Abraham: but for his office; the Father sent him as a messenger to be a mediator of the new Covenant, Mala. 3.1. The Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come into his temple, even the Angel of the Cove∣nant,* called by Moses the Angel of the Lords presence, the face of God the Angel in whom Gods name did dwell: he it was who wrestled with Iacob, who dwelt in the Bush, he that appeared to Ioshua with a drawn sword; this great Angel is the Creator of all the Angels, and he in whom they have their subsistence, Col. 1.16. he is the Prince and head of the Angels, even as Mediator: not for redeeming them from any sinne, which they never had but for confirming them in grace, which they might have lost as their compa∣nions did, who left their first habitation: for to confirme them in their created happinesse, he has put them in that body whereof he is head, and set them in one society with the Saints, making them fellow-citizens of the same Je∣rusalem with faithfull men; * for wee come to the company of Page 17innumerable angels, & to the spirits of righteous men made perfect. This Angel in the first Chapter, appears as a man riding upon a horse, and oft times elsewhere in a humane shape, * for his delight was alwayes with the children of men. And for his more familiar conversing with men often he put on the like∣nesse of that nature, which in the fulnesse of time he was to take on, never more to be laid downe: the body wherein he appeared before the Incarnation, sometimes was reall, created for the performance of such an humane action, and anni∣hilate at that actions end; sometimes onely apparent, as here where all is but a vision in the night time, which yet doth no∣thing hinder the truth of the prophesie.
Joshua his standing was the gesture of his worship and pray∣er. * The Priests and Levites when they offered their sacrifices at the Altar, or prayed publikely for the people, common∣ly they stood, Deut. 18.5. The Lord hath chosen the Priest to stand to minister before the Lord, Psal. 135.2. Ye that stand in the house of the Lord, Nehem. 9.2. They stood and confessed their sinnes, and 5. verse, Stand up and blesse the Lord. Hence Elijah 1 Kings 17.1. and others elsewhere who did most frequently worship the Lord, use this phrase, The Lord be∣fore whom I stand. We take then this standing of Ioshua, for the gesture of his worship, prayer and sacrifice for himselfe and the people in these times of desolation. Some take it of his standing, as a Criminall before the Tribunall of God, where Sa∣tan did accuse him of his sinnes; this is not incongruous, though it be needfull to take it first of his worship, for that was his end to approach unto God, and being in this action, Satan comes on him to oppose and accuse.
At this time the Temple was not built, the Altar of In∣cense was not erected, the Arke of God before which the high Priest wont to stand, was no more to be found, yet Joshua had set up the Altar of burnt offerings before it he might stand, as also in all other his publicke or private devotions.
His standing before the Angel was not Idolatry, for this An∣gel was Michael, One like God, ever equall to the Father, the Angel of Gods face and presence; the object of adoration, as well as the Father and Holy Ghost: this is the Angel of whom it is said, Hebr. 1.6. Let all the Angels of God worship him.Page 18
From this Portion thus exponed we observe for Doctrine, * First, the posture of Gods children in the time of publick dan∣gers and miseries: they stand before the Lord, supplicating for Sions welfare, as Joshua does in this place: The Temple was lying desolate, Ierusalem was an heape of rubbish, their faire hopes of Reformation were blasted, the Enemies of their Church and State were so potent with the great King, that by all worldly appearance, they could never be able to wrastle through their present miseries. In this case good Ioshua will not despaire, he betakes himself to his God, and stands before him, praying and waiting from his omnipotent hand for helpe and assistance to carry on, against the opposition of men and devils, that work which at Gods direction they had begun, but inconti∣nent had found to exceed by much their strength to perfect.
For this duty there are many reasons; * first, it has alwayes bin the practise of the Saints, Daniel Chap. 9 for the desolati∣ons of Sion lies in sackcloth and ashes, crying in the 16.17. ver∣ses, O Lord, I beseech thee that thy anger and fury may be tur∣ned away from this City Ierusalem, and cause thy face to shine on thy Sanctuary that is desolate for the Lords sake. Ezek. 9.8. While they were slaying them and I was left, I fell on my face and cryed, Ah Lord God, wilt thou destroy all the residue of Israel in thy pouring out of thy fury on Ierusalem? Ier. 18.20. Remember I stood before thee to speake good for them, and to turn away thy wrath from them. David in the midst of his pri∣vate agonies, Psal. 51. forgets not the publick? Do good in thy good pleasure unto Sion,*build up the wals of Ierusalem. Mo∣sos lies at the feet of God and wrastles by prayer to divert wrath from the Camp of Israel, he holds up his hands on the mount unto God for the people when they were in fight with Amalek, Isa. 62.1. For Sions sake will I not hold my peace, and for Ierusalems sake, I will not rest, till the righteousnesse thereof go forth as brightnesse, and the salvation thereof as a Lamp that burneth. When Sion is under a cloud of trouble, when the darknesse of affliction over-shadowes Ierusalem, the godly cannot rest, they cannot keep silence, but impor∣tune their God for the light of a glorious deliverance.
A second reason, * this Practise of the Saints is according to the will of God, Ezek. 22.30. I sought for a man that should Page 19make up the hedge and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it, Isa. 62.6. I have set watchmen on thy wals O Ierusalem, who shall never hold their peace day nor night, ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence and give him no rest till he establish and make Ierusalem a praise on the eath.
A third reason, * this duty hath the promise of a blessing both publick and private. Unto the Elders and Priests while they are assembled, Ioel 2. For fasting and prayer is laid out not onely the goodnesse of God in generall that he is graci∣ous and mercifull, slow to anger and of great kindnesse repenting him of the evill; but particularly in the 18 they are assured he will heare their prayer, and answer it, he will have pity upon the afflictions of his people, and be zealous for their deliverance.
Besides the publick benefit, the carefull practise of this du∣ty procures much private good: When the salvation of Ieru∣salem breaketh forth as a Lamp, every Inhabitant shall not be partaker of her joy. Sundry shall see it and not taste of it, as that Prince of Samaria: * when it shall be well with the Church, it may be ill with them. As ravenous beasts and theeves after their roving up and downe in the darknesse of the night at their pleasure, when the morning light doth arise, they take them to their dens and caves wherein oft they are hunted to their death. However these who now stand mour∣ning for Sion, shall rejoyce in her joyes when they come, they shall eat the fruit of their present labours, the teares they now sow in sorrow, shall then be reaped in joy. See an ex∣cellent promise of this, Isa. 66.10. Rejoyce for joy with Ierusa∣lem, all ye that mourn for her, that ye may sucke and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations, that ye may milke out and be delighted with the aboundance of her glory: Ye shall be com∣forted in Ierusalem, and when ye see this, your heart shall rejoyce, and your bones shall flourish like an herbe.
Sometimes it pleaseth not God to relent his anger towards the publicke, yet it goes well in private with the practisers of this duty: the mourners for Ierusalem, Ezek. 9. are mar∣ked by the Angel and saved in the day of destruction. *Noah and Lot who vexed their righteous souls for what they heard and saw among their wicked neighbours, get themselves and their families preserved in the day of vengeance: Lamenting Page 20Ieremiah,* and for his cause his servant Baruch, and friend Ebedmelech are well intreated by the hand of the most cruell Enemy; yea, when the wrath of God is greatest, when Noah, Iob, and Daniel are not able to save either son or daughter, yet they shall deliver themselves & have their own soul for a prey.
Another Reason, * the neglect of this duty is a dangerous provocation: When the glory of God goes from the Cherub to the threshold of the Temple, and from thence to the midst of the City, * and from thence to the mountaine, when the Lord goes to his place that he may be sought after early, and in his going makes frequent stands, looking back if any will sollow and lay hold upon him that he may returne; if so be that none take notice or care of his removall, it much encreaseth his an∣ger: This is one of the complaints of Isaiah, Isa. 64.7. There is none that calleth on thy name, that stirreth up himselfe to lay hold on thee: This is made a great cause of the publike calami∣ty, Ezek. 42. I sought for a man to stand in the gap for the land, but I found none, therefore have I powred out my indignation up∣on them, I have consumed them with the sire of my wrath: and however God should be good to the publike, yet it shall not goe well with the private contemners of this duty, be they more or fewer, be they high or low. Publike men, whose pe∣culiar duty is to meet the Lord, and stand in the gap, when they see the floods of his wrath comming downe to over∣whelme the people of their charge, if they run away like foxes to their holes, being careful for nothing but to provide for their own heads, woe and vengeance from God is denounced against them, Ezek. 13.4. O Israel, thy Prophets are like the foxes in the desert, who have not gone up to the hedge, neither made up the gaps for the house of Israel to stand in the battell in the day of the Lord: Therefore in the third verse, Woe unto them, and in the ninth, they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel. What ex∣treme woe is it to be blotted out of the book of life, to be de∣leted out of the Catalogue of the people of God. Neither one∣ly publike men, but the meanest of the people are plagued for the neglect of this duty, Isa. 22.12, In that day the Lord did call to weeping and mourning, but behold joy and gladnesse, the slaying of oxen, the killing of sheep, and drinking of wine; this ini∣quity Page 21shall not be purged from you till you dye saith the Lord.
The Use of this Doctrine is for your encouragement, * to go on with all diligence in the present work of humble supplica∣tion: You see God is well pleased with this labour, it hath been the exercise of all the Saints on the like occasion it is the Lords speciall command, he hath annexed to it most comfor∣table promises, and to the neglect of it very fearfull threats: onely let the work be done with diligence and constancie; to doe the work of the Lord negligently procures a curse: wher∣fore this day when thou standest before the Angel, in all the bent saile of thy spirit, offer to God the sacrifice of thy con∣trite and broken heart; Let thine eyes run downe with teares night and day, for the great breach and grievous blow wherewith the virgin daughter of thy people is already broken; that notwith∣standing the rivers of blood already shed, the anger of the Lord is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still; that as yet there is no appearance of any cancelling of that Commission which the Lord hath given to the sword, to bathe it self in the blood of men, without number of all ranks and estates. These judgments outward and visible, are the causes of great mourn∣ing; but the sinnes of the land, that have drawne them from the hand of God, are more lamentable; yet the greatest cause both of lamentation and seare, is that great impenitency and contempt of repentance which appeares in the most of men: Though the Idolatries, the Adulteries, the Bloodshed, the Rapines, the Ignorance of God, the profane contempt of the Gospel and many other crying crimes of this Land, be evi∣dent to the eye of all; though the great wrath of God be re∣vealed from heaven, in his most heavie judgments upon the midst, and all the corners of this poore countrey; yet too few doe strike upon their thigh, * to be grieved for what they have done; not to speak of the madnesse of our enemies, whose heart is plagued with induration, their Court, their Clergy, their mis-led people, running on in their wonted wayes, as the horse to the battell. If we will look upon our selves, we shall find that hardnesse of heart, that carnall and stupid secu∣rity, doth lye upon the spirits of too many. It were very good for the people of God to set before their minds the causes of that heavie wrath, which long has lyen upon these Domini∣ons, Page 22especially to search out the grounds of provocation which most neerly concerne themselves, to make a diligent enquiry of those sinnes which have bin committed within their doors: with the Lamp of the Word, and the greater light of the Spi∣rit, to goe through all the corners of thy owne conscience, and what ever causes of wrath thou findest there, to lay them all out in an humble Confession, earnestly supplicating for mercy in Christs blood, for amendment by the power of the sancti∣fying Spirit, deprecating wrath, and these fearfull effects of it, which this day are visible upon the estates, upon the bodies, upon the soules, of many thousands of people.
This duty also would be performed with constancy and per∣severance: * thou must stand in this posture of Prayer, till that cloud be pierced and dissolved, wherein God long has wrapped himself, * that our Prayers should not passe through it; thine eye must trickle downe and not cease, without intermission, untill the Lord look down and behold from heaven. The mourning and separation of the fifth and seventh moneth must continue all the yeares of Sions captivity; when the Lord brings it back, then, and not before, can Jacob rejoice, and Israel be glad; when the Lord shall be good to Sion, and build up the walls of Ierusalem, then may we sit down under our Vine and Figge∣tree, to eat of the fat, and drink of the sweet: But till then, teares should run down like a river day and night, we should give our selves no rest, the apple of our eye should not cease; we should arise and cry out in the night, in the beginning of the Watches our hearts should be powred out like water before the face of the Lord, and our hands lifted up to him for the life of our children, our Husbands, our Fathers, our Brethren, our most beloved Friends, who all very quickly may be in hazard, if the hand of the Lord be stretched out still.
Every one would be carefull conscientiously to use this means, for hereby the meanest may be profitable to the distressed and languishing publike. * When Monies are wanting, none are able to supply but the Rich; when Errors and Schisms are to be beaten in pieces by the hammer of the truth of God, none can be serviceable but the Learned; when State divisi∣ons are to be cured, none can help but the Wise; when Battels are to be fought, none can appeare to purpose but Page 23the couragious and strong: But for the duty in hand, which makes more for the curing of our present evills, then all that either Wealth, or Wit, or Learning, or Strength is able, by it, I say these may do notable service who have a very small or no portion in any visible gift; even poor simple unlearned weake women, if they have the spirit of prayer and will set themselves to wrestle with God, they may help to remove the obstructions and further the cure of the publike miseries: when all the wealth, wit, learning, force of the kingdom cannot promove the breadth of an inch, our wished ends: every one must try and examine his own practise of this most needfull duty to be grieved or com∣forted according to their performance and care herein.
A Second doctrine from the former ground, in all our ap∣proaches to God we must stand before the Angel, * Christ the Angel of the covenant must be interposed betwixt God and the soul: for he is the onely way, none can come to the Father but by him, the keyes of the house of David are laid on his shoulder, he is the on∣ly door: by a wrong door or a right door if fast locked there is no entrance, through him we have both an accesse to the Father, Ephes. 2.18. We have boldnes to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus by a new and living way, Heb. 10.20.
The reason of this is, first, the wisdom and goodnes of our God, * who when man by the fall was banished from his presence and could have no more immediate fellowship with him, hath appoin∣ted a mid-man for reconciliation to stand betwixt him & man, that the friendship which could not immediatly be kept, might be re∣newed & continued by such a mediation: 1 Tim. 2.4. I here is one God and one mediator betwixt God and man, the man Christ Iesus; Heb. 8.6. He is the mediator of a better Covenant which was esta∣blished upon better promises. However we have promises that God wil be our God, and will receive us as his people that he will remem∣ber our sins no more, that he will give us an eternall inheritance; yet in him only it is that we have any right to any of these promises, for he only is the mediator of that Covenant, Heb. 9.15.
A second reason, * when we come alone to our God we cannot be welcome, we are so defiled with the guilt of by-gone sinnes, while we live sinne lives in us: and betwixt the holy pure eyes of God, and our sinfulnesse, there is so great a contrarietie, that if these two should meet without some interposition, the justice Page 24of God would be a consuming fire to us. When ever therfore we are bold to draw neer to him, it is necessary to have this Angel standing betwixt us, to cover our sinnes, to divert wrath: by the sacrifice of his soul for sinne to purchase friendship, by the sprinkling of his blood to extinguish the flames of wrath.
A third reason, * who ever will stand before God who is to speak to that Majesty, who is to walk or have any fellowship with him, must in some measure be like him, * holy as he is holy, for without holinesse none can see his face. such of our selves we are not, we are like to our Father old Adam, till we become ingraffed in a new stock, till Christ become to us a head, it is he that sends down into us as living members the influence of his Spirit, which be∣gins, continues, and increaseth in us that life, that light, that love which makes us like our heavenly Father & partakers of the divine nature:*Of our selves we cannot think a good thought, It is he that works in us to will and to do; without him we can do nothing: out of him we are but lifelesse, saplesse, withered branches, fit for no∣thing but the fire, but in him we are the trees of righteousnesse, bringing forth all manner of fruit in due season.
The use of this doctrine is, * first, for our information of the true cause why much of our devotion is fruitles: oft times we draw neer to God but have no accesse; we cry and call at the door of heaven, but there is no hearing no opening, no answer: The reason is, we have mistaken our way, we have gone to the wrong door, we have run ever alone, in the vehemencie of our owne spirit, in the fervour of our naturall desires: we have forgotten our Mediator, and gone to the Father without the Son; or if we have begun to take him with us, at once as foolish children we have run before our guide. No wonder then we be disciplined for that error, that Christ permitting us to assay how much we can do of our selves without him, we feel our labours lost, our prayers in vain; no marvell there commeth no voice no message, no fire from heaven on our sacrifice, to give us any assurance of our accep∣tation; * God will not shew himself well pleased with us for any thing we do, when we come without the Son, in whom alone he is well pleased.*
A second Use is for direction: Hold fast to Christ in all thy wayes, especially in thy approaches to God, most of all in thy so∣lemne Prayers on such a day as this: Set Christ betwixt thee and Page 25God, let all be offered up by his hand, he is thy only Priest: no man was permitted under the Law, to offer his own sacrifice, all was put in the Priests hand, who laid all upon the Altar: Christ is the true Altar which sanctifieth and maketh acceptable all that is laid on him. When we draw neere to God by him, he cove∣reth all our infirmities, he supplyeth all our defects, he enableth all who seek their life in him to do every duty in such a way as is well-pleasing in the sight of God; he taketh all our desires and prayers in his hand, put teth them in his golden censer, he kind∣leth them with his own fire, * and perfumeth them with the incense of his own merits, that so dressed, they may have a sweet savour in the nostrils of the Father.
A third use is for caution: in our magnifying of Christ, * beware of an old trick of the devill, which of late he hath resumed, and by it done more mischiefe then ever. Grace and wantounesse in themselvs are most opposite, yet Satan striveth to conjoyn them, To turn the grace of God into wantonnesse:* It is no new thing to adore Christ in shew, while you buffet him in truth. There is a generation of people who under the colour of magnify∣ing the free grace of God, of setting Christ in his Throne, of ad∣vancing a Gospel way, of crying down nature, and legall righte∣ousnesse: with these glorious shows, and pleasant words they are misled by a spirit of delusion to patronize profanity, to grieve and extinguish the Spirit of grace, to scoffe at repentance and sorrow for sinne, to foster the fruits of the flesh, to bring in the highest degree of all wickednesse, a dedolence of minde, a reprobation of spirit; when a man has committed all wickednesse with greedi∣nesse to be nothing grieved for it, as if the Spirit of the just Lord were nothing offended with it. Among the many devils, who very boldly this day are walking up and down the land, this is one of the worst, albeit masked with the fairest shews of piety and reason. Who magnifies not the Lord Iesus, let him be Ana∣thema maranatha; let Iesus be all in all to thy soule, make him alone, thy Righteousnesse, thy Sanctification, thy Redemption:* but for all that, beware to divide Christ from his Spirit, his death from his life, his blood from his grace: Separate not faith from repentance dash out none of thy Lords commandements so long as thou livest; wert thou never so holy, thou hast need from thy Page 26heart to beg pardon for thy sins: whosoever will neglect repen∣tance must perish, who ever will have true comfort must be a mourner. Christ eurseth them that laugh now, and no laugh∣ter more devillish then in the act of sin: he blesseth them that mourn now, and no mourning in a child of God more pious then for the offending of God, and grieving of his Spirit by sinne.
I thought to have laid open other stratagems of Satan, by occa∣sion of the words in hand, and pointed at some other very dange∣rous errors, wher with lately this land was overgrown, and which to this day are not altogether evanished: First, that Idolatry of the Papists, in their standing before Angels and Saints for inter∣cession, before images for adoration: further no Papist ever went, and thus far Court-Divines here were wont to preach and print.
2. * That wickednes of Arminius, denying the commerce of the Israelites with the Angel of the Covenant, taking away the know∣ledg of Christ from the very Patriarchs and Prophets, that how∣ever Christ speak expresly of Abrahams seeing of his day, & reioicing therin, yet the Lord must have the open lie, and Abrahams both sight and joy must go no further then to his son Isaac, the type of Christ; they must be terminate in the shadow, and not go through to the substance. It is the lesse wonder that this man and his followers should steal Christ out of the Law, since under the Gospel they re∣ally remove him from the hearts of the people, putting free-will in the place of grace, and in stead of our justification by Christ, would teach us that old fundamental error of the Papists, justifi∣cation by works, and inherent righteousness, to wit, by faith as a worke in us. Strange that any Protestant Divines should yet stumble upon that infamous stone.
3. * That horrible wickednesse of the Socinians, denying the Angel of our Text to be Christ, because he had no being before his conception; denying his Incarnation, abolishing his divine nature, blaspheming the Trinity: A wonder that so foul a spirit should ever have gotten entrance in any famous Divine, or other man of note in this Ile, except this were an houre of darknesse, wherein all sorts of devils are crept out of their dens, and walk so familiarly with men, that they become bold now to speak of pe∣titioning authority for a toleration, that so this poor kingdome, not onely in these times of confusion, but for ever should be to them all a place of quiet habitation.
A fourth of these, * who presse on us the office of a proper Priest, to offer up in a sacrifice upon the Altar the present body of Christ, not caring to bring back with open face into our Church that grossest abomination of Popery, the unbloudy sacrifice of the Masse.Page 27
The fifth of these, * who from the high Priest of the old Testa∣ment would inferre a Pontife, and an Ecclesiastick Prince in the new, by this means not onely bringing back the types and figures of Aaron, the pedagogic of Moses; but also with the Papists (the authors of this argument) re-inducing a Diocesan Bishop, and a Patriarch above him, with a Pope above all, as Aaron was above the other Priests. How farre this is against the grounds of the Gospel, may be seen by the most simple in these three plain rea∣sons. First, Christ hath made all the officers of the New Testa∣ment, who are of the same order, to be equall, all to be Brethren, none to be a Prince, or in any degree of superiority above his fellows. This is not controverted in the three extraordinary offi∣cers, no Apostle above an Apostle, no high Evangelist above a low one, no Prophet superior to a Prophet. This is also gran∣ted in 3 of the ordinary officers, no Deacon above a Deacon, no Elder above an Elder, no Doctor above a Doctor. That the like is in the seventh officer, That no Pastor is a high and a great one above a small and a low Pastor; the rule of propor∣tion, and the analogie of things in the same kind, will make it cleare. Secondly, the nature and essence of Episcopacy, puts the power of ordination in the hand of one man, expresly against the Apostle, 1 Tim. 4.14. where Ordination is put into the hands of many, for it is called the laying on of the hands of the Presbyte∣ry: however divers expositions of the word Presbytery are brought by some, yet no man can expone it of one Bishop.
3. The nature of Episcopacy puts all the Ecclesiastick Iuris∣diction of a whole diocesse in the hand of one man; but Christ, Matth. 8. gives it to many, Tell the Church: none ever did expone the Church of one Bishop, except some Papists, who understand it of the Pope.
With a good conscience therefore have your Honours rooted up and cast out of the Church that evill tree, which God never did plant; what further also shall be found necessary for the full extermination of that cursed weed, if an Ordinance were requisite to be added to the former Bills, or what else the heart of good people can require for their full security, from the returne of the least degree of that Popish government, it is fully expected from your piety and zeal.
What some pleads for the antiquity of this wicked weed, I wish they would answer ingenuously, if any more antiquity was ever alledged by any for Bishops, then is confest by all of Monks and Friers, of Hermits and Nuns, for Abbots and Priors: also if it can be said with any colour of truth, that more hurt did ever Page 28come to this Church and State by the one, then now is seen and felt from the other. And if England did never repent to this day for altering the old Laws and casting out of their Church and State these former Locusts, what greater reason can be imagined they shall have ever to repent the putting of Bishops and their de∣pendances out of their Laws and Land? All your brethren of the re∣formed Churches after almost a hundred yeers experience have oft rejoyced, but never grieved, for banishing that degree of Antichri∣stianisme. It cannot be denyed but that Episcopacy is such a sup∣porter of Papacie, that where the one falls, the other cannot stand. Pluck up but this one weed in the Antichristian Kingdomes over Sea, let Bishops only be removed from Italy, and Spaine, Germanie and France, as they are from Britaine, the Pope can no more stand thereafter then a head can without its body or limbs: the maxime is certaine and demonstrable, no Bishop no Pope.
The third part of the first verse contains the opposition made to Ioshua,* while he stands before the Lord to advance the interrupted work of Sions reparation, Satan is at his right hand to crosse all his designes Three words here are to be expounded: who is this Satan; what is his standing on Ioshua his right hand; and how he resists him.
Satan is one of the names of that great Angel who left his first habitation,* by sinning against his Creator, and therefore with o∣ther Angels his followers, was cast down from the heaven to the lower world to be reserved in chaines of darknesse to the day of judgement,** when he is to be bound straiter and to be cast into the fire prepared for him and his Angels. In the meane while he has some libertie in his chaine and prison, he goes alwayes to and fro and walkes in the earth,*seeking whom he may devoure; he flies in the aire spying his prey, ever intent to assault mankind, and above all, the most godly: for his opposition and hatred (which gives him the name of Satan) is most against God, and for his cause, against his children, especially Christ, whose heele he bruised in his temptations and crosse: this is he who in the Revel. 12.8. is called the Dragon, the old Serpent, the devill and Satan who with his Angels did fight against Michael and his Angels: this was the wicked spirit who tempted Evah, who vexed Iob, who stirred up David to number the people, who entred into Iudas, and here sets upon Ioshua.Page 33
The next point is his standing upon Joshua's right hand: I will passe a number of Allegories, which sundry of the Ancients bring upon this phrase, it seems without any Mi∣stery to imply an opposition open, but cautelous: I say open, for Satan lurks not, he standeth not behinde Joshua his back, but comes up to his side, and there appears a professed and avowed enemy; yet cautelous, for he chooses the place of advantage; the right hand is the instrument of Action, it manages the Sword, and every Weapon: so, who stands upon the right hand, hath the place of advantage.
The third word is to resist him; This was the end why Satan stood in such a place, the more easily to crosse and resist all the good designs of Joshua, that what ever he did or said, to God or man for advancing the work of the Temple, or any part of the Churches welfare, he by his craft and might did assay to countercarve it, and make it fruitlesse.
That which here is brought by some of Satan his accu∣sing of Joshua, we do not deny it as one of the means where∣by he did crosse the high Priest: For he is stiled a Devill, an Accuser, a Calumniator, * who is ever accusing the Brethren to God, as he did Job, sometimes falsly, and sometimes truely, but ever calumniously, because ever upon malice. The par∣ticular accusation is not expressed in the Text, yet the Chaldee Paraphrasts put that in their targum on this place, which is most likely, That Satan pleaded against Joshua, as a man who ought not to be heard of God, or receive any assistance from him for the building of Sion, since he and the rest of the people were clothed with the foul Garments of sin, e∣specially that one, of suffering his Children to marry strange Women. * The marrying with Idolaters was so grievous and dangerous a sin, that it made Ezra lament very heavily be∣fore God: Joshua his tolerating of this fault in his children, was a matter of a just accusation, and might have hindered the fruit of his Prayers, and all his endeavours for Sion.
For Doctrine observe, * That the great and chief leader of all who oppose the Reformers of a Church or State, is the Devill.Page 34
Jeshua and Zerubbabell in their repairing of the ruines of the Church and Kingdom of Israel,* had opposites of many kindes and conditions, Ezra 1. At the first founding of the Temple, there appeared against them (at the beginning secret∣ly, and then openly) First, the common people of the Land, the Samaritanes, the Brethren of our Cassandrian mixed pro∣fessors, half Idolaters, half Israelites: With them joyned the Rulers of the Provinces, Rehum the Chancelor, and Shim∣shai the Scribe, also the bribed Courtiers of the King; and at last the King himself: This opposition did so prevail, that the building was marred for many yeers. When the work again was set on by the motion of Haggai and Zachariah,* that same prophane multitude, and their Governours, Tatnai and She∣thar-Boznai did oppose; yet by the help of God the Temple was finished.
Afterwards they went to build the Wall of Jerusalem:* For this is the holy and happy order of the People of God in their building; to begin with the Temple, and then to go to the Citie, to perfit the Temple before they lay a Stone in the Wall of Jerusalem. It is preposterous to begin with the State, and end with the Church; that order pleaseth not God, it is not suitable to his honour, and will not be blessed by him.
How ever, so soon as Nehemiah began to make up the Wall, there was about him a swarm of enemies to hinder his progresse, Tobia, Sanballat, Geshem, and not onely these pro∣phane Forraigners, but also many among themselves that professed friendship: * Many of the Nobles of Judah kept correspondence by Letters with the enemies, and that in a way well near avowed, and open. Sundry of the Priests and Prophets were plotters against the work: * Some Women also are noted for Malignant Instruments, by name the Pro∣phetesse Noadia is Registred to her perpetuall infamy, * for her correspondence with the enemy, in prejudice of the good work in hand.
Many plots were set on foot to discourage the people of God, and make them faint in their labour, when the building Page 35was neer an end; but one was most likely to prevail, a friendly treatie propounded, by Sanballat to Nehemiah pre∣tending an Union of Counsells, and an accommodation; but intending to kill Nehemiah, that the reparation of Jerusalem, wherein he was the prime Agent, should be interrupted by his death, and quite given over. This plot was assayed once, * twice, thrice, four times, but without successe; for it was the wisedome of Nehemiah to distrust them, and never for any perswasion, for any terrour, to enter into conference with them, while the Wall was once perfited; and then the ad∣versaries perceiving without further haesitation, the hand of God in the work they opposed, sate down in despair, and gave over their enterprises.
All these oppositions from so many divers sorts of per∣sons, were cleer to the eye of all; yet when God will dis∣cover to the eye of the Prophet, the great and main hinderer of the work in hand; he sets all other aside, and points at Satan alone, standing on the right hand of the chief workers, to crosse and resist them. It is cleer then, that in all the op∣position we feel to the welfare, either of Church or State, Satan is he on whom the eyes of the godly wise would prin∣cipally be fixed.
The Reason of this Doctrine, is this, Satan is the head, * the prince, the father, the god of all the enemies of the Church, Gen. 3.15. I will put enmitie betwixt thee and the woman, betwixt her seed, and thy seed. The fountain of all the enmitie of the wicked against the Church, is here made the Serpent, deriving his malice to men, as to his seed and poste∣ritie. The wicked in their malicious actions against Christ and his Church, are reputed the children of Satan, and worke according to the nature of their father: *You are of your father the devill, the lusts of your father you will do. When the wicked are not ready enough to follow the motions of Satan against the Church, as children to be directed by their fathers advice, then like a Prince or Tyrant doth he drive them, as captive slaves, to commit mischiefs: For this Ephes. 2.2. he is called, the Prince of the power of the Aire, the Page 36spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience. 2 Tim. 2.26. The wicked are in the snare of the devill, taken captive by him at his will:*He is the god of this world: When servants do the commands of their masters, what subjects or children are set upon by their prince or father, what is done by members by the motion of the spirit that animates and moves them, all these actions must be ascribed chiefly unto their principall agents.
A second reason is, * The interest of Satan in the con∣fusions of a Church and State is greatest: Interest, advan∣tage, losse, make persons active: when a State is confounded, and a Church in trouble, there is no restraint of Idolatry, of Heresies, of Schismes, of Drunkennesse, Blasphemics, Op∣pressions, or any villanie, wherein the dominion and glory of Satan is openly demonstrate: But when the times of licentious libertie come to an end; when by the mercies of God, the outward State is settled; the execution of good Laws banisheth away these abominations; the outward kingdom of Satan is restrained and broken: But when with the State, the Church also is settled, when the Gospel in its full libertie, puritie, and power is set up, then the strongest Castles of Satan are invaded, Christ entereth the inmost Cabines of the heart, and subdueth every imagination to his knowledge, and reformeth not onely the outward man, but by bringing his heavenly Light and Life to the soul, maketh the heart humble, chaste, wise, spirituall, and so subject to the Spirit of Christ, that Satan gets no more peace in any room of his former possession? No wonder then, that this craf∣tie spirit foreseeing these evident losses, and clear disadvan∣tages which the settling of a Church and State will certainly bring upon him, he assay with all his might to continue dis∣order and confusion, for in these lies the strength of his kingdom.
The use of this Doctrine is. * 1. For affrighting of all these who oppose Reformation of Church or State, be∣holding from hence what spirit leadeth them: For it is cleer, that not they onely, who upon the conscience of their Page 37mis-deserving to save themselves from the legall punishment of their crimes, or otherwise blinded by avarice and ambiti∣on, upon desire and hope of these profits and places whereof they despaired in regular times, for these base ends have been prime counsellers in the first conceiving of this lamentable rupture betwixt the Prince and his best subjects; but also all they, who either openly have divided from us in siding with that evil faction, or remaining among us in person, by their means or counsels do oppose the building of the Tem∣ple, and the rearing up the walls of Jerusalem: The leader of all these opposites appeareth to be that most malignant spirit, the devill. We deny not that sundry of these men for their opinions and practices wherein they differ from us, may have very strong and plausible arguments; yet they would remem∣ber that Satan oft times, by strong delusions,* maketh his fol∣lowers believe lies. We grant also, that sundry of the elect children of God, before their calling, in the dayes of their ig∣norance, may be withdrawn to serve the devill, in the most wicked employments against God; Father, forgive them,* (saith Christ of many of his crucifiers) for they know not what they do. Yea, for a time, the very regenerate, and these who otherwise walk with God, by the violence or subtilty of a tentation, may be driven to a very evil way, and may engage themselves in the worst services of Satan, and oppose in their desires, counsells and actions the most blessed works of God. Christ admonisheth the chiefest of his Apostles, * that they knew not of what spirit they were: And to Peter he saith plain∣ly, That the devil, from his mouth, did tempt him to spare himself; which was no other, then to give over the Work of mans Redemption.
However all these things may be, yet all who are in the actuall service of Satan, against God, have great reason of fear, for their present condition: If God come upon thee in thy act of resisting his servants in his Work, his hand may suddenly dash thee in pieces, as it hath done many already, like a Potters vessell. How fearfull a thing is it to be serving the devill! what can men expect for their wages, except they Page 38recover themselves out of his bonds, wherein now they lie captive like Gally-slaves, but a part with their master for ever in his horrible portion? O if the eyes of men were opened, to behold the face of their master: a clear sight of that ugly leader, would doubtlesse move many to lay down their wea∣pons, and with great grief for miscarriages past, to set them∣selves to redeem the time, with all diligence to employ heart, hand, means, and all God hath given them, for the further∣ance of the building of Sion, which too long, by Satans powerfull conduct, they have endeavoured to retard.
A second Use is for compassion thus far, * on the worst of our opposites, as to take them but for inferiour instruments, acted and driven on by a mighty leader: let the edge of our sharpest anger be turned from them, on him: These his blind∣folded instruments we should heartily pity, and pray for, re∣membring the like nature and weaknesse in our selves, which had not the grace of God preserved us against tentations, might have made us ready to have given up our wit, our will, our hands, our means, and all, to have resisted the Work of God, and furthered the work of Sathan, as much as any of the most active malignants. It is good to have a meek and compassionate spirit towards persons who have suc∣cumbd to a tentation; *considering our selves, lest we also be tempted and overtaken in the same or a worse fault. The Apostle gives us hope, that sundry who oppose themselves to God, being instructed in meeknesse, may peradventure get repentance, to acknowledge their pernicious ways, and to recover themselves from the snare of the devill, though for a time they be taken captives by him at his will.
A third Use is, * for continuall watchfulnesse. The Prince and Generall of our opposites is a restlesse spirit, who will never give over his malicious contrivings: readily he may change his instruments, but never his designe: When old in∣struments become blunt and unserviceable, or when they break in his hand, he can cast them by, and take up new ones, more dangerous then the former: though all present and past plots were discovered to the bottom, and fully prevented, yet Page 39there remaineth in that prime adversary a wit to devise many more, and these seven-fold worse then any yet we have heard of: we would never be secure, * having to do not with flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers, with spiri∣tuall wickednesses in higher places. Against spirits spirituall Weapons must be used: Did we strive onely with the craft and force of men, we might hope by wisedome and policie to countermine their plots, and by just Arms to over-power and suppresse their oppression: But our chief partie being Satan, we must put on the armour of God, The shield of Faith, The helmet of Hope, The brest-plate of Righteousnesse; and, above all, that Catholike weapon of prayer. In these Com∣bats, the weakest may do greatest services: many, who can∣not go to the Fields for fighting, to the Houses for counsell, to the Assembly for disputation, yet may hold up their hands on the mountain with Moses, may wrestle with God as Ja∣cob, may stand before the Angel with Joshua, and by the means of the Angel get Satan our prime enemy defeat: when Goli∣ath the Captain doth fall, the rest of the Philistims his fol∣lowers will not long stand. However, this Church and State, in these dayes of darknesse, are most helped by them who set their faces truely to seek the Lord for the Land, in Fasting and Praying, with Faith and Sanctification: one of these is more precious then a thousand others, who, notwith∣standing all their fighting and disputing for the common Cause, do continue to grieve the good Spirit of God, to strengthen the hand of Satan against us, going on, after all these publike Humiliations, in their wonted course of secu∣rity, neglecting the mortification of their secret lusts, and all carefull walking with God in the Spirit of their minde, to any true pleasing.
A second Observation might be made on this passage, * That Satan his invasion of the godly is most in their Worship, and specially in their prayers for the publike; as here he resisteth Joshua, when he is standing before God to petition for the ruined estate of Sion.
No wonder the people of God, at these solemn times of Page 40publike Supplications, * fall short of their intended services; That their hearts come not up to their desires in the acts of Worship; That vageing of minde, hardnesse of heart, fruit∣lesnesse of hearing, lie hardest then upon them: The reason is, Satans speciall attendance at these occasions above any. The ravenous birds wait upon Abraham onely at his Sacri∣fices; the fowls go out with the sower to pick up the good Seed, to make the Word and the Worship unprofitable. Our heart of it self is very earthly, carnall, dead, and vain; yet besides all its inward Malignitie, Satan by his tentations, strives to inspire it at these holy times with so much of his supernaturall wickednesse, as he is able. It should adde to our grief, when our sensible miscarriage in so holy an exercise demonstrateth, not onely the presence of a devill with us, but also his prevalence over us for our great hurt: Also it is a matter of singular comfort when we get grace to discharge ourselves of these solemn services, in some measure accepta∣bly: When with a Spirit enlightned, enlivened, enflamed, melted from above, we get our souls poured out before God, for the publike sins, and publike distresses: When with an holy, an honest, and vigorous bent-sail of spirit, we have begged mercy, and what else we conceive needfull for our selves and others: When in an attentive and faithfull heart, we receive the heavenly Seed of the Word, and feel our selves thereby strengthned to walk in the wayes of God, to mourn for, and fight against the corruptions of our heart, and life. This is a matter of joy for this cause among others, that hereby we obtain a sensible victory over that strong spirit, who hath not been able, as oft at other times, to deprive us of the comfort and fruit of the Worship. Christ who at such a time maketh thee clearly victorious over Satan, shall shortly make thee to triumph, and tread him under thy feet.
A third Observation might here also be pointed at, * if time did not strait; Satan his speciall malice is against Joshua the high Priest; his speciall enmitie is against the servants of Gods House; the Messenger of Satan buffeteth Paul; it was Page 41Peter and the Apostles that Satan sought to winnow, * and sift as Wheat.
The Reason is, They are the Pastors of Gods flock; * when the Shepheard is stricken, the flock will be scattered: They are the Stewards of Gods House; If the Steward be∣come unfaithfull, the children of the family will be in danger of starving: They are the Officers of Gods Army; if the Leaders and Standard-Bearers fall, the Souldiers will soon be put to the flight: They are the light of the World, if the Lamps be extinguished, the House sitteth in darknesse, and the shadow of death: They are the Salt of the Earth, if they become unsavoury, the people are in danger to be∣come a polluted and unsavoury Sacrifice.
Great care would be had for the assistance and comfort of the servants of Gods House; * the people would bear them in their hearts before God, and pray for the abundance of the Spi∣rit of grace upon them: the grace of God on the Pastors, turn∣eth to the benefit of the people; the oyntment poured on the head of Aaron dropped down to his feet, and drenched the lowest borders of his garment: When the Lord clothes his Priests with Righteousnesse and Salvation, then do all the Saints shout aloud for joy: the people not onely by their prayers to God would assist and hold up the weary hands of their Pastors, as Aaron and Hur did the hands of Moses; but also, by their loving countenance, their liberall maintenance, their ready obedience, would give them all encouragement; Heb. 13.17. They watch for your soul; obey them therefore, that they may do their work with joy, and not with grief, for that is unprofitable for you. When most of the day, and much of the night they have been with God on the Mount for your welfare; when much of their time hath been spent in com∣bating with Satan for the safety of your soul, Is it meet that they should be grieved, * or their hands weakned by your neg∣lect of them, or miscarriage towards them?
Doubtlesse it will be the speciall care of this religious and wise Senate, to establish such Orders in all this Land for the House of God, that his Ministers shall be encouraged to set Page 42themselves with all cheerfulnesse about the salvation of the peoples souls: Your Honors wil so provide it, that the Pastors shall have nothing to do but with God and with souls, and with devils, to hold off by their Spirituall weapons these roa∣ing Lions from their flocks: questionles your Pieties will pro∣cure so much due respect, and so honorable a maintenance for every servant of God in this land, that without disquietnes of minde, or solicitude for the things of this world, they may wait wholly on their Spirituall Charges: The Pagan Princes of old, the Turkish this day, the ancient Popish Parliaments, and the late Prelaticall, have demonstrate their care for that which they esteemed the service of their God: it will be very far from this most hopefull of all Parliaments, for which the Lord hath already done so many and so great things, which also for time to come hath so much need of the speciall assistance, and singular help of God, that they should in this so naturall, so reasonable, so Christian a Duty towards the servants of God, be any ways lacking. Most wisely, and with all reason, have they procured the Lamps of the House of God to be set in such posture, as their light may best shine to the use of men: Starres, though otherwise great, and full of light, if they move in too high a Sphear, become either in∣visible, or of an obscure and bad light, for little use to men below upon earth: The Pastors of Gods House, when they stand too high in worldly pomp above the people, their light in so great a distance vanisheth, and scarce is visible to men so far below them. Yet it would be carefully consider∣ed, That the Lights of the House of God be not too much brought down, and set too low; to put them under a bushell, to set them under the feet of the family, were to mar their shine∣ing, and hinder the communication of their light.
Above all, great care would be used, that when the su∣perfluity of Oil which did choke and extinguish, rather then maintain the light of some Lamps, shall be diverted unto bet∣ter employment, neverthelesse that no Candle of God, in any part of this Land, be permitted to languish, much lesse to die for want of so much Oil as is requisite for a convenient sub∣sistence. Page 43But a word to wise men, and half a word of this kinde to men so religious, and zealous for the House of God, is enough.
So much for the Impediments which Satan made to the re∣paration of Sion: Now follows their Removall, in the which are three things, i. A Preface, The Lord said unto Sa∣tan. 2. * The Mean whereby these Impediments were remo∣ved, and that Opposition quasht, Christs cursing of Satan, or his prayer to the Father to rebuke and represse him. 3. Two Reasons of this Rebuke, 1. Jerusalems election, then her great sufferings. For shortnesse, we shall onely give a brief Paraphrase of all the words together, without long expositi∣on. And for Doctrine, we shall touch but on some few Ob∣servations, which for Use we shall remit to your own me∣ditation.
As for the Preface, The Lord said unto Satan:* Angels and devils communicate with God, and one with another, not by speeches, for Language requires bodily instruments, which these Spirits want: but as they apprehend every object with∣out senses, so they expresse what they have apprehended with∣out Language, in a way above our humane nature, which we do not understand. However, in this place, and elsewhere oft, where by way of Vision the communication of one Spirit with another is represented, for our apprehension all is set done in speeches, as the ordinary way wherein men commu∣nicate their thoughts one to another.
The Lord said unto Satan:* He who before was called an Angel, is here named the Lord, even Christ, as we shewed be∣fore, the Lord and Creator of all, the Heir (even as he is man) of all; for there is one God, and one Lord, the man Jesus, * to whom the Father hath given a Name above all names, and hath set all things under his feet, Principalities and Powers themselves to be his servants, and he their Lord and God.
The matter of his speech is an Invocation of the Father to reprove Satan: The Lord speaketh to the Lord, * the Son to the Father: so the words of the Psalm are to be taken, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand: And that of Page 44Genesis,*The Lord rained down fire upon Sodom from the Lord. The Son leadeth to the Father, as to the fountain of the God∣head, and all divine Operations; which importeth no diver∣sity of Essence, Substance, or Matter in the Trinity, but onely a distinction of Persons, and an heavenly Order in these Per∣sons, as in Being, so in Operation; The Father being the first, The Son the second, The Spirit the third; but all equally in∣finite in Glory, Power, Eternity, and all divine Attributes; in these there is no inequality, no posteriority among them: This now is to be believed from divers Scriptures, but not to be thorowly understood, till afterwards, when we shall see God, as we are seen of him.
The rebuking of Satan imports not onely a bitter and sharp reproof of his malice, * to his confusion and shame, but also a restraint and cohibition of his power, by the mercifull and strong hand of the Father. This is repeated, because of Christ his zeal to Jerusalems welfare, and his detestation of Satans wicked designes against her.
The first Reason of that Reproof is, The Lords chusing of Jerusalem to be the place of his Worship, * and Habitation of his Church: Satan had the rest of the earth for his service; but, not content herewith, that one place which the Lords Election had reserved for his own little Flock, the malice of that unreasonable spirit would not leave to God.
The other reason, * That same one place, that one poor peo∣ple which God had chosen out of all the families of the earth to be his peculiar Treasure, had been cast in the fiery furnace of heavie tribulation, and was but lately drawn out of the fire; that mercilesse spirit the devill, nothing satisfied with all the miseries of Jerusalem, went about to procure her utter destruction, and burning down to ashes, that so on the whole earth there should have been left none at all to serve the Lord: But Christ remembring his Election, and having compassion upon their former sufferings, defendeth their Cause, poureth shame on the malice of Satan, restraineth his power, chaseth him away, that he may no longer retard the welfare of his people.Page 45
From the Preface, * observe the great patience and long-suf∣fering of Christ; he holdeh his peace long, and when he speak∣eth at last to Satan, it is but to rebuke him. This evil spirit had seduced and destroyed the souls well-neer of the whole world, he standeth here before the Lord for to swallow up the small remnant: Did not such horrible wickednesse require a present destruction from the Lords hand? and not a reproof onely from his mouth.
Consider well the Lord his way of proceeding with all the wicked, both men and devils: There is a time appointed for their full destruction, and till that day come, the Lord hold∣eth his peace; or if he break out in words or deeds against them, it is but in a small degree of wrath, in comparison of what is following. Satan is reserved in chains till the last day, where he is to be bound, and cast in the lake: One of these spirits could say unto Christ, *Art thou come to torment us before the time? When the wicked are most proud and in∣solent, God laugheth at them, for he secth their day is coming; the day of their vengeance, the yeer of recompences, the morning, the hour of their calamity.
All of us would consider the state of our soul, the abomi∣nations which conscience telleth us we are guilty of: think them not forgotten with God, though he keep silence, and permit us to go on in the ways of our own heart, without trouble; or if he reprove, it is but by his Word; Now and then in the publike Ministery chopping upon the slip∣pery and half dead heart: You see in this place he dealeth no otherwise with the very devil; but be perswaded there is a time coming for a more severe reckoning. The se∣venth of Ezekiel is often to be read by a secure people, the sixth verse, An end is come, the end is come, it watch∣eth for thee; behold, it is come, the morning is come upn thee, the time is come, the day of trouble is neer, and not the sounding of the mountains: In that one verse the coming of the day of ven∣geance is five or six times proclaimed: Happy are these Page 46who make use of the day of their mercifull Visitation: The Lord hath been wonderfully good to us; the War hath ta∣ken away the estates of many thousands, the Sword hath be∣reaved many of their lives, we are yet safe; but can we tell how long? manage well this happy day of grace, humble your soul before the Lord, make peace with him without fur∣ther delay; mourn for your known faults; set your selves to amend the evil of your doings, that you may be spared in the fearfull day of the Lords wrath, when the sword of the field, the famine and pestilence of the City, may make ha∣vock of people without number. Blessed are they, who after so many warnings from the mouth of God in his Word, from the hand of God in his Works, have learned at last to be wise for their own great good.
Upon the Reproof, * observe first, The onely way to remove all impediments and oppositions to the reparation of a Church and State, is Christ his intercession with the Father against the devill. That which hindered Jeshua and Zerub∣babel to build the Temple, to fortifie Jerusalem, was that active spirit, which moved and stirred up all the malignant instruments that appeared against them: The Jews till this time were never able to overcome their enemies; but behold, so soon as Christ taketh the work in hand, so soon as he re∣buketh and restraineth Satan the principall enemy, inconti∣nent all the inferiour instruments on earth, all these malignant men and women did fail and succumb, they were no more able to trouble Gods people in their work.
This is the ground of our hope and comfort, * in the midst of so huge difficulties as this day on all sides beset us, how shall our Sion be gotten builded? when we look to the opposers, their strength is exceeding great, a mighty faction of declared Papists, a great number of Episcopall Clergie, and people openly joyning with Papists against us, and both avowedly supported by Soveraign Authority: Also a multitude of Sects, Anabaptists, Antinomians, Separatists, and others, pushed on by a deluded conscience, to oppose with all their skill, with all their might, all solid Reformation: beside all Page 47the former, a great number in all ranks and estates, profane and loose persons, exceeding unwilling to behold the setling of any Order which may controll them with any power in their wonted licentiousnesse.
Concerning the walls of Jerusalem,* the establishing of Ju∣stice and Peace in the Civill State; with what insuperable difficulties this work is compassed, wofull experience doth teach. A mighty faction of lawlesse men, who have drawn away, partly by perswasion, and partly by force, a great part of the people, the greatest part of the Nobles, and Sove∣raign Authority it self: this faction of it self very potent, is also supported with the help that forraign friends are able to afford: and, which is more then all yet named, and more terrible then all flesh and blood, we have to do with Princi∣palities and Powers, who act and guide, with all the craft and force they are able, our humane adversaries: And, which is yet the greatest strength of all, the grievous sins of the Land, which provoke the Lord God to be on the side of our enemies, men and devils, to strengthen their arm against us.
The sight of these mountains of Impediments would dis∣courage the stoutest heart, * if above them all we did not see our mercifull high Priest intreating the Father for the remissi∣on of our sins, for the rebuking of Satan, with all vehemen∣cy: the favour we know the Son hath with the Father, will make him obtain all his desires. Surely, when these are ob∣tained, when the sins of the Land are remitted, and Satan re∣strained, all other impediments will soon be removed: when the soul is separate from the body, the members languish, and cannor more stir: when Christ hath confounded Satan, men his instruments will quickly either be perswaded, or forced to reason: It is in vain to deal with men, so long as a malign∣ant spirit prevaileth over them: The streams will run till the fountain be stopped: Our first and main labour would be with Christ, to restrain Satan, for he is the life that vege∣tates, he the spirit that stirres up all our opposites both in Church and State.Page 48
Observe againe how Christ in his debate with Satan, * hath recourse to the Father, that he would rebuke him, The Sonne honoureth the Father, he seeketh not his owne glory, but the honour of the Father, The Father and the Son are one, for all these three that witnesse in Heaven, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, are one true God; Yet this is the order of the Divine Persons, that the Father is the first, the Sonne and the Spirit are both from him, The Sonne from Eternity begotten of him, The Spirit from Eternity proceeding from him and from the Sonne.
So long as the vaile of Flesh covereth the eyes of our Soule, we must not enquire too curiously in this unsearchable My∣stery: *Elias wrapped his face in his Mantle when the Lord passed by him: God will not be gazed upon, he dischargeth it expresly under the pain of death. * The malapart and Irre∣verent boldnesse of sundry Divines, subjecting to the foul feet of their idle speculations, the deepest and most unac∣cessible Mysteries of the holy Trinitie, is justly plagued with evident and foolish errour: Their eyes who will gaze on the Sun in the noon day, cannot but be dazled; and if that madnesse continue, blindnes and excaecation inavoidable will follow: Faith here, if any where, is the Mother of mode∣stie, The companion of simplicitie and reverence; it setteth us limits at the foot of the Mountain in a farre distance, * which we must not break through: When we do behold with the most open face, * the Godhead, we must be looking on our Glasse; the eye must never wander from the Specta∣cles of the Word: Onely what we see of God, let it be holden fast against all contradiction. Worship the Father, the Son, and the Spirit; one true God, three truely distinct Persons, whereof the Father is the first, the Son the second; This Person alone is incarnate, uniting in the fulnesse of time to his Divine Person, the nature of Man: The holy Ghost is the third, and yet all three are equall in Glory, in Eternitie, and every Divine attribute.
Hold fast in thy minde these plain Catechetick Scripturall Notions of God: Beware to make to thy self an Idoll in Page 49thy brain, to frame a false, erroneous and unwritten concep∣tion of the true God: If thou worship the Trinity as three divers Gods, thou becomest a Pagan, abolishing, by the mul∣titude of Gods, the Unity of the divine Nature: If thou ap∣prehend God so much one, as not three Persons, thou turnest Turk, a Jew, an old Arian and Macedonian Heretike; and, which is all these in one, a Socinian, a reall Atheist: for it is Christs own Conclusion, Who honoureth not the Son,*honour∣eth not the Father, which hath sent him. The neglect, the con∣tempt, the denyall of any one Person, reflecteth alike on all the three, and the whole God-head.
A third Observation upon the Reproof, if time did permit, * would be the holy and gracious practice of Christ in his hot∣est zeal; he bringeth no false, * no railing accusation against the devill himself; the farthest he goeth against this arch-enemy, is to commit him to God to be rebuked: Lyes, calumnies, railings agianst the devill are inexcusable, and would not be countenanced: It is a foolish policy, and a profane zeal, to advance the Cause of God by the arts of the devill: Lying calumnies, malicious bitternesse, are hellish weapons; a gra∣cious hand must not take them up, were it against their very author: The Arsenall of God is not so unprovided of lawfull Arms, his Quiver not so disfurnished of his own Arrows, that we need go borrow from Askelon or Gath, from hell it self, these poysoned Darts, dipped in the venome of Asps, in the blood of that old Serpent, the father of Lyes, the great Ca∣lumniator from the beginning.
A fourth Observation; * God rebuketh Satan before his fi∣nall destruction; his children in this are heirs to their father; After a little time, death will put all the wicked in a full pos∣session of their inheritance; their souls first; and after the Re∣surrection, their bodies also shall be placed in these lakes of fire: but before, they are to be infeoffed and seized; they are to have the earnest of their fathers portion; they are to be rebuked of God, their secret wickednesse is to be brought to light, their well-covered villanies to be proclaimed on the Page 50house tops; shame and confusion to be poured on their faces; their malice and violence is to be restrained, their pushing horns to be hammered off, by the Carpenters; Satan and they will bee coopt up within so narrow a circle, and bee bound with so short a chain, that all may understand they are rebuked of God.
Also it would be a comfortable consideration to meditate on the zeal of Christ for Sion,* against all her enemies: He speaketh here as a man in a passion, repeating and ingemina∣ting his angry words. The Lord rebuke thee, even the Lord rebuke thee: The Lord proclaimeth the sounding of his Bow∣els, before he got Flesh; the tendernesse of his compassion towards the Church, before his Incarnation. Certainly, the sympathie of his heart, and his fellow feeling with us in all our afflictions, is not now diminished, but rather (if possi∣ble) increased after his experimentall knowledge on the earth, in his own person, of these evils which Satan and wicked men inflict upon the godly.
From the Reasons which the Lord useth for Satans re∣proof, * we may behold the Devill his end, and intention in molesting of Joshua; the thing he seeketh is the overthrow of Jerusalem. Satan driveth most at the eversion of the pub∣like; * Therefore the preservation of the publike ought to go neerest our heart: Many seek their own things, and not those of Jesus Christ; They minde themselves much more, then either Church or State. This self-wisedom is foolish, for if the Ship wherein thou sailest, be drowned, what will be∣come of thy Goods; if the house wherein thou art locked, be burnt, how shall thy life be saved.
From the first Reason the choosing of Jerusalem observe, * That Election is a principall ground of comfort against all Satans tentations. True, the difference is wide betwixt a nationall and personall Election, betwixt the choice of Jeru∣salem, or any other place to be the seat and habitation of the Church; and betwixt the Election of persons to grace and glory: This I may not stand to cleer, onely strive to make Page 51our personall Election sure; for upon the grounded assurance thereof, we come to a glorious confidence, that no creature, neither Satan, nor the World, nor conscience, nor any other shall ever be able to confound us? *Who shall lay any thing to the charge of Gods Elect? It is God that justifieth: Who is he that condemneth: It is Christ that dyed. One of the sweetest private fruits of such a dayes exercise, is to get our calling, and our Election sealed: Verily, a penitent soul who throughly hath mourned for sin, and fled to Christ for mercy; who hath gotten of his spirit for a reall and sincere beginning of a through Sanctification, and amendment in every thing, which either within or without hath been amisse: A soul this farre proceeded in Grace, useth to receive the stamp of the Spirit; The inward unction and witnesse, that they are the Sons of God, Elect, and called; who shall be glorified, * after they have suffered a while, to such an entrance useth to be ministred aboundantly into the everlasting Kingdom of Christ.
From the last Reason, take but some few brief notes. *Jerusalem the Church of God, and Joshua the chief Member of it for the time, were like a Stick half burnt in the fire of the Babylonish Captivitie: Out of that fire they were pulled in Gods mercy, to be preserved against all the malicious as∣saults of Satan, and his instruments. From hence you see the best beloved people of God, by the Devill and wicked men, may be brought exceeding low, and so neer to utter destru∣ction, as a stick burning in the fire, is to Ashes: So it was with Israel in Egypt, in Babel, and oft elsewhere. We therefore in our most desperate cases, must not despair; *The burning Bush will not be consumed, God hath promised to be with us, in fire and water: One like the Son of man walk∣eth in the fiery Furnace with the three Children. When to the eye of the World our condition is most desperate, when sence maketh us cry out, *My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord, They have cut of my life in the dungeon, and cast a stone upon me; yet faith will quickly correct sence, and Page 52make us subjoyn; it is good for a man to have hope, and quietly to wait for salvation of the Lord; * and when we are lying among the Pots, to wait for the time, when we shall be as the Wings of the Dove, covered with silver, and her Feathers with yellow gold.
Secondly, * Consider the exceeding great terrour of God, when he is angry, his wrath burneth like fire; It maketh the green tree to be like a burnt stick, what will it do to the dry; It maketh the most godly to become like a bottle in the smoak;* It dryeth up their strength like a Potsheard; It turneth their moisture into the draught of Summer, knowing the terrour of the Lord be perswaded to make peace with him in time; ven∣ture not on his hot displeasure. The tasting of the forbidden Aple will cost thee wonderfull dear, Though (which yet in the act of sin, without madnesse cannot be supposed) thou should be certain to escape Hell.
Thirdly, * The Church here is a Brand pulled out of the fire, a fire-brand to burn her enemies to Ashes, it is exceed∣ing unhappy to be an instrument of the Churches trouble. Though God be angry with his people, and he be very just in casting them in the fiery Furnace of his wrath, yet woe to all these who are Bellows, or Fewell to that fire, who do vex the Church in any way. Our Prophet Zachary in his twelfth Chapter sheweth, That to all these who had taken up Jerusalem and the people of God, to cast them a∣way from their habitation, as a stone out of a sling. To all these, * I say, Jerusalem became a heavy, and a burdensome stone, to cut and to crush them in pieces. Her Neighbours thought to have swallowed her down quick, and to have drunk her off as a potion of sweet Wine; but she becometh to them a Cup of trembling,* a draught of poyson, which maketh them tremble, stagger, and fall without rising; and which is the Metaphor of our Text, The people of God be∣come a torch of fire in a Sheaff,*to devour all their enemies round about, on the right hand and on the left.
Nebuchad-nezzars Image, when the little stone did fall Page 45upon its feet, was not onely broken all to pieces, * but also made like the chaff, and was carryed away so violently by the winde, that no place was found for any part thereof: All the persecuters of the Saints have miscarryed for this cause, above any other: The greatest Monarchies and King∣doms that have been upon the earth, are vanished, and no re-likes of them appear this day. None who are wise will touch the people of the Lord, for they are the apple of Gods eye, the hurt whereof he cannot but avenge. It is extreme dangerous to be employed by God himself in the chastising of his children; for usually when the Lord returneth in mer∣cy to embrace his chastised childe, the rods of his anger, and staves of his indignation are cast in the fire, * till they be burnt to ashes.
Lastly, consider the mercifull reasoning of the Angel: *Je∣rusalem is a brand well-near consumed in the fire of Gods wrath, and therefore ought to be pitied, and freed from fur∣ther trouble. How extremely contrary is this to Satans lo∣gick, and his instruments conclusions? they adde affliction to the most afflicted; they presse most the godly, when they finde them weakest, and on the brink of ruine; we have their language in the 71 Psa. 11. God hath forsaken him, persecute and take him, for there is none to deliver him:* It is then when they say, Come, and let us eut them off from being a Nation, that the name of Israel be no more in remembrance. Long sufferings, and extreme misery are to Satan and wicked men provoca∣tions of further persecution; but to God they be arguments of favour and deliverance: Hence it is, that the godly lay out before the face of God in their mourning their sufferings to the full, as most pregnant incitements to compassion: Be∣hold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow which is done unto me,*wherewith the Lord hath afflicted me in the day of his fierce anger;*under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem. The Lord alloweth us to spread out before him all the matter of our present grief, and of our future fears, hereby, as it were, to stir up the compassionate Page 54bowells of his mercy: We would be crying to him, not onely to pull the tree of our Church and State out of that fire which hath already burnt up very many Branches, and is like, if not quickly quenched, to go to the very Root; but further we would be earnest for that burnt stick, when it is pull'd out of the flame, that the dews of heaven, and the Sun-shine of divine favour, may fall so plentifully upon it, that it may yet again flourish, and bring forth fruits better and more abound∣ant then ever, and it may become a pleasant and fruitfull Vine, under whose shadow we all may lie down in peace, en∣joying the blessings of God, and singing with a loud voyce his praises for our deliverance from all our present afflictions.