Mr. HOOKERS FARVVELL SERMON, At his departure out of ENGLAND.
JEREMIAH 14.9. at the latter end.
We are called by thy Name, leave us not.
TWo things are intended and expressed by the Holy ghost, from the 1. verse, to the thir∣teenth.
First, a denuntiation of judgement, and that reacheth to the 17. verse, and that is sword and famine. First, he Page 2would send the famine, and then the sword, and would not be intreated.
Secondly, in the 8. verse, we have the importu∣nate prayer of the Church, to turne away these judgements; and the prayer is marvellous sweet, partly in confession, where they confesse their sinnes, and seeke to God for succour against them: As if they should say, Loe we are as base as base can be, and therefore help for the Lords sake, and thus they make their supplication in the 7. and 8. verses, and this short prayer discovers it selfe, partly in the things prayed for, and partly in the manner, and the holy Prophet intending this is very sweet in it.
First, they pray that God will not take away his presence from them, Why stayest thou but a night? As if he should say, it is marvellous strange, that thou behavest thy selfe as a stranger.
Thou seest our sorrowes, and helpest not. Thou seest our trouble, and succourest not. Thou standest, and seest Jerusalem in trouble, and Iuda in misery, but thou helpest not. It is strange that thou the great God of Hosts standest as a man astonished: thou hast received us, but now thou standest as a man amazed, as if thou wast weary of thy worke, and couldest doe no more: As if he should say, Ierusa∣lem cannot be succoured, & Iudaea cannot be saved.
Secondly, they beg that God would not take away his presence from them, Leave us not to our selves. Let us see thy face, if that we dye in thy pre∣sence, though thou helpest not, yet it dothus good to looke on a Saviour, they are acquainted first that thou art the hope of Israel. Alas! if thou forsake, Page 3us, our hope is lost, our hope is not in the means, our hope is in thee, leave us not.
Secondly, thou art the Saviour of Israel, and it is that that thou takest upon thee, and thou hast made thy selfe a Saviour, and now is the time of trouble, performe what thou hast undertaken.
Thirdly, thou art in the midst of us, thou art a great comforter, ready to succour us. What wilt thou see us perish when thou art so near us? 1 Sam. 4.6. Even as the Arke in the midst of the campe: as if he should say, he lives in the midst of us, and will not save us.
Fourthly, we are called by thy Name, we have inte∣rest in thee, to whom should servants go for safety, but to their Master? to whom should the wife goe, but to her husband? we have interest in thee, leave us not.
Now we will meddle only with the latter clause, leave us not. God might leave them, but they beg that he would not, that is their Amento the Peti∣tion, though thou standest by, and wilt not help, yet let us not dye in thy presence. This is the great re∣quest of the Saints, they desire not to be left of God, though God may justly leave them,
That God may justly leave off a people,*and un∣church a Nation. Israel suspected it, and feared it: It is that that they prayed against, that God would not leave them. I doe not say that God will cast off his elect eternally; but those that are onely in out∣ward covenant, with him he may, Isa. 1.2. Heare O ye heavens, I have nursed up children, that is, the Iewes, there is an outward vocation, and for such God may Page 4cast them off. Brethren, cast your thoughts afar off. What is become of those famous Churches, Per∣gamus and Thyatira, and the rest? Who would have thought that Ierusalem should have bin made a heap of stones, and a vagabond people? Hos. 7.9. Plead with your mother, and call her Loammi, ye are not my people, and I will not be your God. Thus as I may say, he sues out a bill of divorcement, as it was in the old Law, those that had any thing against their wives, sued our a bill of divorcement, and so doth God, Hos. 2.2. she is not my people, nor my beloved, let her cast away her fornications and idolatry, lest I make her as at the first, that is, in Egypt poore and miserable: as if he should say to England, plead with England my Ministers, in the way of my truth, and say unto them, let them cast away their rebellions, lest I make her as I found her in captivity in the dayes of bondage.
But how doth God depart from a people?*
When he takes away his love from a people,* and as his respect, so his means too.
2. When he takes away his protection by taking downe the wals, that is, these two great meanes of safety, Magistrates and Ministers.
3. When instead of counselling, comes in bri∣bing, and in stead of teaching, dawbing, when God either takes away the hedges, or the stakes are rot∣ten, then God is going.
4. When God takes away the benefit of both these helps, and they are signes of Gods depar∣ting.
May God cast off a people,* and unchurch ana∣tion? Page 5then let it teach us to cast off all security, for miseries are nigh by all probabilities. When we observe what God hath done for us, all things are ripe for ruine, and yet we feare it not, we promise safety to our selves, and consider not that England is like to be harrowed, wee cannot entertaine a thought that England shall be destroyed; when there are so many professors in it, we cannot be per∣swaded of it, according to the conviction of our judgements, either it must not be, or not yet, as if it were impossible for God to leave England, as if God were a cockering father over lewd and stub∣borne children: God may leave a Nation that is but in outward covenant with him, and why not En∣gland?
Englands sinnes have been great, yea and their mercies great. England hath been a mirror of mer∣cy, yet God may leave us, and make us a mirrour of his justice. Looke how he spake to the people in Ier. 7. that bragged of the Temple of the Lord, Sacri∣fices and offerings: And what may not God which destroyed Shilo, destroy thee O England? Goe to Bohemia, from thence to the Palatinate, and so to Denmarke. Imagine you were there, what shall you see, nothing else but as Travellers say, Chur∣ches made heaps of stones, and those Bethels wher∣in Gods name was called upon, are made defiled Temples for Satan and superstition to raigne in? You cannot goe two or three steps, but you shall see the heads of dead men, goe a little further, and you shall see their hearts picked out by the fowles of the ayre, whereupon you are ready to conclude Page 6that Tilly hath been there: Those Churches are become desolate, and why not England? Goe in∣to the Cities and Townes, and there you shall see many compassed about with the chaines of capti∣vity, and every man bemoaning himselfe. Doe but cast your eyes abroad, and there you shall see poore fatherlesse children sending forth their breaches, with feare, crying to their poore helplesse mo∣thers. Step but a little farther, and you shall see the sad wife bemoaning her husband, and that is her misery, that she cannot dye soone enough; and with∣all she makes funerall Sermons of her children within her selfe, for that the Spaniard may get her little ones, and bring them up in Popery and super∣stition; and then she weeps and considers with her selfe: If my husband be dead, it is well, happily he is upon the racke, or put to some cruell tortures, and then she makes funerall Sermons, and dyes a hun∣dred times before she can dye. Cast your eyes afar off, set your soules in their soules stead, and imagine it were your owne condition, why may not England be thus, who knowes but it may be my wife, when he heares of some in torments? Ah! Brethren, be not high minded, but feare, as we have this bounty on the one side, so may we have this severity on the other; therefore prancke not up your selves with foolish imaginations, as who dare come to En∣gland, the Spaniards have enough, the French are too weake: Be not deceived, who thought Ierusa∣lem the Lady of Kingdomes, whither the Tribes went to worship, should become a heap of stones, a vagabond people, and why not England? Learne Page 7therefore to heare and feare, God can be a God without England, doe not say there are many Chri∣stians in it, can God be beholding to you for your Religion? No surely, for rather then he will main∣taine such as professe his Name and hate him, he will raise up of these stones children unto Abraham; He will rather goe to the Turks, and say you are my people, and I will be your God. But will you let God goe, England? Why are you so content to let him goe? Oh! lay hold on him, yea hang on him, and say thou shalt not goe. Doe you thinke that Rome will part with her religion, and forsake her gods? nay, an hundred would rather lose their lives. Will you let God goe? Oh England plead with your God! and let him not depart. You should onely part with your rebellions, he will not part with you. Leave us not. We see the Church is very importunate to keep God with them still, they lay hold on God with words of argument.
Thou hope of Israel, doe not leave us: they be∣set God with their prayers, and watch him at the Townes end that he might not goe away. No thou shalt not goe away, thou shalt abide with us still, they are importunate with God not to leave them.
Hence note this Doctrine.
That it is the importunate desire of Saints to keep God with them.* This people you see cared not so much for the famine and sword, so God leaves them not: Good Lord leave us not, this was their prayer, and we cannot blame them, all things being considered; for it was their griefe that God stood by, and would not help, why stan∣dest Page 8thou as a man astonished? but good Lord leave us not, they cannot abide to heare of that, much lesse to beare it; thus they did, and thus the Saints of God should doe. For the proofe, see Exod. 33.15. there Moses might have gone up upon faire termes, thou shalt possesse the land, and peace and prosperity shall be with thee; but what sayes Moses? If I might have Canaan, and all the delights, yet carry us not hence, ex∣cept thy presence be with us, Psal. 80.7, 19. this is the stay and string that he sticks on. Turne us againe O Lord God of Hosts, and cause thy face to shine upon us: as if he should say, here is prosperity.
But what is the presence of God?*
In one word,* it is the particular favour of God expressed in his ordinances, and all the good and sweet that followeth there. The purity of Gods word and worship, is that which God reveales himselfe in. It is not gold, wealth, and prosperity, that makes God to be our God. There is more gold in the West-Indians, then in all Christen∣dome besides; but in is Gods ordinances in the vertue of them that, brings Gods presence. God for∣sook Shilo where he dwelt, because his ordinances were not there, Psal. 78.5. when the Arke left them, God left them: When Gods ordinances were there in the purity of them, then God was there; for he is principally there where his ordinances are in the purity of them. Hence it was that Cain was cast out of Gods presence, because he was cast out of the Church where his ordinances were, Gen. 4.14. If that a people doe outwardly worship God, and sincerely mend things that be amisse, they may con∣tinue. Page 9If Sodome and Gomorrah had but legally repented, they had remained to this day. Hence it is that the Saints of God are so urgent for Gods ser∣vices, and in that most men so sleight them. While it is thus with us is not England ripe? is not she wea∣ry of God? nay, she is fed fat for the slaughter. It was not so with the Saints and people of God in former times, Psal. 34.4. It was Davids great and grand desire, that he might dwell in the house of the Lord, Psal. 42.4. his soule panted after Gods ordinan∣ces. The point teacheth us thus much, That the Saints are wondrous importunate to keep God in his ordinances.
But what if a man want preaching,* may not he want it, and yet goe to Heaven?
The arguments are cleare,* the Saints maintaine God in his ordinances, the want of which is under the penalty of death and condemnation. Gold can∣not feed a hungry man, but bread he would have, because that he hath need of: so the Saints of God are marvellous importunate to keep God in his Or∣dinances, so that though they weare a ragged coat, or be pinched with hunger; yet he wants God more then these, either food or rayment. David in the 37. Psalme, fretteth at the prosperity of the wicked; but at the last breaks off, and marke what a conclu∣sion he makes, and comes to, whom have I in heaven but thee? as if he should have said, Let them have what they will, I have nothing but thee. Why so? Thou art the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever: Thou art the strength of the heart, Shewing that all things in the world cannot help the heart Page 10without God. A man were as good offer yron to a hungry man to refresh him, or ayre to feed him, as to say, riches, ease, and honour will help thy distres∣sed soule: These will never establish a man, he may hope to have comfort in them; but his soule shall be gravelled and troubled. It must be the God of peace that must speak peace to a troubled soul: It must be the God of salvation that can comfort a damned soule; that kindnesse will comfort, that is the strength of the heart, and portion for ever, and then no marvell the soule call for God: The soule cares not, though happily the purse be filled, for it cryes and sighs, I am damned. Happily the pallate may be pleased; but the poore soule cryes, I may goe to hell, and to the Devill. Now God comes, and he supplyes all, for where he comes, there is every good gift: If once a man hath God, he hath all good things with him. God blessed Obadiahs house for the Arkes sake. Now the Arke was a type of Christ, where he comes all good things follow: When God comes, we are married unto him, Hos, 2.19. As when a wife is married, her hus∣band is hers: so God & all is thine, & what wouldst thou have more? He speaks to the raine, and it heares the corne and wine, and that heares Israell. Hell and Death are thy servants; but now you that have outward things, profits, and prosperity, &c. you have them with a curse, unlesse you have God with them: Get God therefore, if he forsakes a man, all miseries befall him, and then woe beto him, Hos. 9.13. Ah! it is true indeed, woe beto that heart which God is departed from. When God Page 11who is the God of mercy is gone away from him, who wil pitty that soul that will not submit to Gods peace, consolation, and salvation. When God de∣parteth, all miseries follow on amaine: when the banks are broken downe, the Sea breaks forth: so when God departs, all miseries come; for that man that makes no conscience of outfacing God in his Ordinances, marke what the Text saith, Deut. 31. 37. I will forsake them, and many miseries shall befall them. If God be gone, the Floud-gates are drawne dry, and in comes all misery. You will say, are not all these things against us, seeing God is not with us? If we would avoid woe and sorrow, and killing and slaying one another. Would the women be glad to see their husbands killed before their tender eyes, the men to see the women taken out of the world by the hands of wicked men. If not then, leave not God, but hold him fast, then all evill will depart, and so holding God he will keep us from misery.
Ʋse. To condemne 2 sorts of people.* If the Saints be marvellous importunate to have God with them, what shall we thinke of those that are weary of the Almighty, who say to him depart from us: But you will say, such are to be chronicled, we have none such among us. Thou that art a servant, and rejectest thy Masters command, thou rejectest God. Why should a man say that they be so long and so long in prayer, and say, what man knowes not what he sayes, he speaks this because that he is weary of the Ordinances, and would be freed from them, and God will doe it one day. Alas poore soule, Page 12thou couldest pitty thy condition, thou art weary of Gods Ordinances, weary of Gods mercies, weary of his patience, & presence. Thou shalt one day be deprived of his presence, and shut up with the ha∣ters of God and goodnesse in the blacke Tophet, where the worme never dyes, nor the fire never goes out, then thy crying will doe thee no good. God will be God in thy destruction, he will spurne thousands, and ten thousands such as thou art downe to hell, where thou shalt be an everlasting object of his never dying wrath, though thou coul∣dest scale the heavens with thy teares, and shrill voice: Though thou couldest be heard to cry out of the dungeon, yet thy help is never the nearer, thy God is gone. I admonish thee what to doe, lay thee downe and patiently endure his deserved wrath; Nay, marke what I say, a hun∣dred hels thou hast deserved, and in those hels to lye a hundred yeares, nay for ever. Hold thy selfe contented with thy condition, for thou hast chosen death rather then life, Ier. 31.8. God should wrong himselfe and thee, if that he did not give thee thy chusing. Will not these things move you my bre∣thren? that you may be so happily wise, as to chuse life rather than death, Lord grant it, for he delights not in your destruction. One word more, to leave impression in your hearts: I desire your soules health, though my meat seeme bitter; yet it is the mind of God it should be so, and therefore, thou man or woman, whosoever thou art that canst not abide preaching, but standest on thornes, to have the Sermon done, that sayest too much of one thing Page 13is good for nothing. Thou doest as good as say, what need have we of that, a little of that, and more of pleasure, here is thy delight and desire. Know this whosoever thou art, that hast ill-will to the Or∣dinances of God, thou wouldst have no such Gos∣pell, thou shalt have thy desire, when the Trumpet shall blow, thy eares shall tingle, with that sentence, Depart from me. Thou that art weary of God, get thee downe to hell, I say, God will set his teeth at thee, and stamp thee downe to hell with thy base lusts: Then will God say, I have fed thee on earth this 20, 30, 40, 50, perhaps 60 yeares, and yet my milde words could not beare rule in thee, or pre∣vaile with thee, and now get thee to hell, and there remaine for ever. Thinke this with thy selfe, God will so serve thee proud Captaine, King, or Monarch, Isa. 30.33. The Text saith, he will make bonfires upon their bones about their eares, thus he will get himselfe glory by your destruction: But you will say to me being a King or Monarch, I doe not feare any such punishment shall befall me; but God will say, be he a King that rules or raignes, yet as he hath rejected God, so God will reject him. He is a King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, and therefore such a one as will laugh at thy destruction. Take notice of this, and say thus to your selves: Is he a good childe that cannot abide the presence of his father: Is she a good wife that cannot abide the presence of her husband: So is he a good creature that cannot abide the presence of his Creator.
This rebukes Gods owne people.* We see the Gospell going, brethren, I wonder you heare no Page 14better stand up & heare, and God give you grace to understand. I deale plainly with you, and tell you what God hath told me: I must tell you on pane of salvation, will you give eare and beleeve. I poore Embassador of God am sent to doe this mes∣sage unto you, though I am low, yet my message is from above, he that sent me, grant that it may be be∣leeved for his sake. Suppose God hath told me this night that he will destroy England, and lay it waste, what say you brethren to it? It is my message that God bade me doe, he expects your answer, what sayest thou oh England, I must returne an answer to my Master that sent me to night, why speake you not an answer? I must have one. Doe you like well of it, would you have England destroyed? would you put the old men to trouble, and the young men to the sword? would you have your women wid∣dowes, and your maids defiled? would you have your children, your deare ones to be throwne upon the pikes, and dashed against the wals? or would you have them brought up in idolatry under the ne∣cessity of preaching, which is worst of all? would you see those Temples wherein we worship God burnt, and your owne houses? will you see Eng∣land laid waste without inhabitants? are you wil∣ling to it? are you content? God bade me aske, why doe you not answer me? I must not stirre with∣out it, I must have it, I am an importunate Embassa∣dor, send me not away sad, speake comfortably and cheerfully unto me. Are you willing to have God with you still, you are, are you not? I am glad of it; but you must not onely say so, but use the Page 15meanes, plead with God: And though his hand be up, and his sword drawne; yet suffer him not to de∣stroy, but to sheath it in the bloud of our enemies, God grant it, and I should be glad to see England flourish still, and so are you, are you not? you are. Now if it come to passe that England be not, but de∣stroyed and laid desolate, thanke your selves, and not God, he delights not in it. We may take up the complaint of the Prophet, Isa. 64.7. No man stirs up himselfe to lay hold upon God: For this is our mi∣sery, if that we have quietnesse and commodity we are well enough, thus we play mock-holy-day with God, the Gospell we make it our pack-horse: God is going, his glory is departing, England hath seene her best dayes, and now evill dayes are befal∣ling us: God is packing up his Gospell, because no body will buy his wares, nor come to his price. Oh lay hands on God! and let him not goe out of your coasts, he is a going, stop him, and let not thy God depart, lay siege against him with humble and hearty closing with him, suffer him not to say, as if that he were going, farewell, or fare ill England, God hath said he will doe this, and because that he hath said it, he will doe it, therefore prepare to meet thy God O England! Amos 4.12. least God complaine of thee as he did of Ierusalem, lest my soule depart from thee, and I make thee a desolate land not inhabited.
Thus we see that the godly hath done, and this must be our care; but let it be our Copy, claspe about the Lord Jesus as Mary did, they have bro∣ken the Ice, let us goe after them, this is our attone∣ment Page 16day, we have nothing to doe with to morrow, this is the day of reconciliation, we are at odds with God; and to end all controversies, let us labour to prevaile with God, and never lose his presence, I sought but I found him not, Cant. 3.2. and when I found him not, I followed and sought him, till that I found him. Our God is going, and doe you sit still on your beds? would you have and keep the Gospell with these lazie wishes? arise, arise, and downe on your knees, and intreat God to leave his Gospell to your posterity. Shall we disin∣herit our infants of such a blessing? shall we be∣reave them of the Gospell, which should be the life of our lives, and so to have them brought up in superstition? No Lord, we cannot endure this, give us not health or wealth; but give us thy Gospell Lord, that is our plea, & when we have found God let us bring him home to our families, that as we have made him our God, so let him be the God of ours in time of affliction. We will cry, Lord have mercy upon us, then we shall be glad of him. Oh beloved! carry God home with you, lay hold on him, let him not goe, say he is our husband, let him not goe for your little ones, and so let us leave God to be a father unto thee.
But how may we keep the Lord?* it is worth the while, it is comfortable, for at his right hand are pleasures for evermore.
If you will come to the price,* you shall have him. The meanes are these:
1. You must prepare roome for him, for he is a King, and a King sends an harbinger before him to Page 17prepare roome for him against he comes to any place: so must you doe by cleansing your selves from every evill course; therefore come out of her, sarth the Lord to his people, touch no uncleane thing, and then I will be your God, and you shall be my people, Rev. 18.19. So brethren come out of all evill sinfull pleasures and practises, and then you may expect Gods comming into your houses; when you sit by the fire, and when you lye upon your beds, thinke thus with your selves: What an equall condition doth he propound? doth he require no more but to part with a sinne, a lust, a Dalila, which thou mayest spare as well as water out of thy shooes, or out of thy bosome; yea it is so. Will God keep company in the paths of sinne? what is this his proffer? what are the tearmes no harder? what then should I doe but bid sinne adieu? would you have God to be your God, and will you not keep out of sinne? If not, he will not be your God: But now let every soule forsake his uncleannesse, and God will come to that soule; and therefore that place is marvellous sweet, Isa. 58.8. You shall call and God shall say, here I am, if that you will forsake your evill courses. Thus you see you have as faire an offer, as faire a warning as God can propound.
2. As you must prepare roome for God, so you must give him content, let him have his will. Where the King comes, there he will have all ac∣cording to his minde: so it is with God, if he may have his owne worship you please him well, you must dresse his dish according to his tooth; but when you put poison into his meat, you discontent Page 18him, then you doe not give him his mind, you must lay aside all superstition and errours; then you please his tooth above all, when your soules submit to his truth: At the name of Iesus every knee shall bow. This is not meant of the word Iesus, to give a bow with the knee, and a stab at the heart: If so, why do we not bow at the word Iehovah, as at the word Ie∣sus; but the bowing at the word, the syllable is Ido∣latry: And here we doe not give him his minde; but the meaning of it is, that we should worship him in spirit and truth.
3. As we give him his minde, so we must give him welcome also and entertainment: If you look lowring towards him, and grudge at him and his truth, no wonder but he goe away. This is the sinne of England: We beare an ill will to God and his word, God hath done much for us of this land. What could he have done more for his vineyard, Isa. 5. 4. but it brought forth fruit contrary to his expectati∣on; and therefore marke what he saith, I will take away the hedge thereof, it shall be troden downe: so will it be with us. Are we better then the old world? the same sinnes that were found in them, are found in us: Sodome and Gomorrah on whom God rained fire and brimstone, are not our sinnes as great? and are there not as great sinnes in us as were in Ierusalem, that was carried away captive? are we better then other Churches, then our brethren that have drunk so deeply of the cup of Gods wrath? what are we? I will tell you we are a burthen to God, he cannot beare us, he will thinke his paines well over when he hath destroyed us. You know all men are glad Page 19when their paines are over: so it is with God, we are a paine and a trouble to him, and why should God goe continually in paine and trouble with us, who are worthy to be destroyed? If his decree once come forth, then shall England seeke peace, and shall not finde it. God will not pitty us, as in Isa. 7.25. Ah! Brethren, what a heavy case is it, when a mercifull God doth shew himselfe unmerci∣full? when a patient God will be impatient? O beloved! there is a hard time befalling us of Eng∣land; yet we consider it not; lamentable is our time. God wept over Jerusalem a long time: Oh that thou hadst known in this thy day the things that belong to thy peace, but now they are hid from thy eyes: So may I say to England, their Lord hath wept over it in mercy and patience a long time, but it hath not been taken notice of, God hath hid it from our eyes, what shall we doe when his mercy is turned into fury? and his patience into frowning? what shall we doe when we have leasure to consider what once we did enjoy? we can never prize Gods patience till that we finde the great want of it. Thus then the poore soule will say: There was a time when we might have been at peace with this patient God, but now it is hid from our eyes: I might have had mercy, but now the gate is shut, and not onely shut, but locked and barred too. Thus when people refuse mercy, he sends the contrary judgement, and then it will grieve and wound our soules to thinke what once we did enjoy; but that man that will bid God welcome to his heart, may goe singing to his grave.Page 20
4. You must be importunate with him to stay, and to continue, and count it a great favour that he will yet be intreated, Isa. 37. Iacob wrestled with God, and thus must we doe if we meane to keep him. You that live under the means, and will not walk in them, what great condemnation wil be to you, over to them that have not the meanes, as it is said of Ca∣pernaum, Mat. 18. so say Ito England: Thou Eng∣land which wast lifted up to heaven with meanes shalt be abased and brought downe to hell; for if the mighty works which have been done in thee had been done in India or Turky, they would have repented ere this; therefore Capernaums place is Englands place, which is the most insufferablest tor∣ment of all; and marke what I say, the poore native Turks and Infidels shall have a cooler summer par∣lour in hell then you; for we stand at a high rate, we were highly exalted, therefore shall our torments be the more to beare. The Lord write these things in our hearts with the finger of his owne Spirit for his Christs sake, under whom we are all covered.