THREE TREATISES. Viz.

  • 1. The Conversion of NI­NEVEH.
  • 2. Gods Trumpet sounding the Alarum.
  • 3. Physicke against Famine.

Being plainly and pithily opened and ex­pounded, in certaine Sermons.

By William Attersoll, Minister of the Word of God, at Isfield in Sussex.

IONAH, 3.5.10.

So the people of Neneveh beleeved God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them, even to the least of them.

And God saw their workes that they turned from their evill way, and God repented of the evill that he had said that hee would doe unto them, and he did it not.

LONDON. Printed at by Tho. Cotes, and are to be sold by Michael Sparke, at the blue Bible in Greene Arbor. 1632.

THE CONVERSION OF NI …

THE CONVERSION OF NINEVEH: Wherein is declared, on the one side, the lively power of the Ministerie working Faith and Repentance in the hearers: and on the other side, the admirable ef­fects of Prayer and Fasting, calling backe the judgements of God threatned against sinners.

By William Attersoll, Minister of the Word of God, at Isfield in Sussex.

Mat. 12.41. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgement with this generation, and shall condemne it, because they re­pented at the preaching of Ionas, and behold a greater than Ionas is here.
2 Cor. 10.4.5. The weapons of our war-fare are not car­nall, but mighty through God, to the pulling downe of strong holds: Casting downe imaginations, and every, &c.

Printed at London, by Tho. Cotes, and are to be sold by Mic. Sparke, at the blue Bible in Greene Arbor. 1632.

To the Right Worship­full Sr. John Rivers, Baronet, one of his Majesties Iustices of the peace in the County of Kent; Encrease of grace in this life, and addition of glory in the life to come.

Right Worshipfull,

HAving heretofore upon sundry occasions divulged sundry Bookes which are abroad in the world, where­by J received much encou­ragement, J resolved not­withstanding being now in yeares, and as it were donatus rude, Horat. lib. 1. epist. 1. preparing for a nune dimittis, utterly to give over, and to enjoyne my selfe a perpetuall silence touching this kind of writing, and to content my selfe with per­forming the other more necessary duty of tea­ching. [Page]Neverthelesse being requested, or rather importuned by friends to publish some things which had lyen a long time by mee (whereof they doubted not but J had some store) J delivered into their hands, these two short Treatises both of one nature, preached at such time as the heavie hand of God was gone out against us in Towne and Ci­tie. For after that he had sent forth his destroying Angel, Psal. 91.7. and that thousands fell at our side, and ten thousands at our right hand, and by his Majesties expresse appointment and command­ment, we were enjoyned weekly to assemble toge­ther for the practise of piety in the exercises of hu­miliation, that the Lord at length might say, It is enough, 2 Sam. 24.16. 1 Chro. 21.15. Stay now thy hand: J thought J could not bestow the time better, than to deliver and insist upon the doctrine of repentance, which is the life of all our fasting (albeit handled before by many) that we repenting of the evill which we had committed, he might repent of the evill which he had executed. For what is all our praier but lip-labour and a sacrifice abominable in his eares? or what is all our outward fasting and abstinence, but meere hypocrisie which his soule abhorreth, un­lesse [Page]they be accompanied with faith in his promi­ses, and with repentance from dead workes? Chrysost, ad [...] versus Iudaos or atie prima. It was well said of Chrysostome long agoe against the Iewes, Ne ita dixeris, jejunant: quin potiùs illud mihi ostendito, eos ex Dei sententia jejunare; quod ni ita fiat, quavis ebrietate sceleratius est jejunium. Let no man say to mee, they fast; rather let them shew that they fast according to the minde and meaning of God, or as he hath ordained; for unlesse they fast after this manner, their fasting is farre worse than any drunkennesse, no doubt because they a­bused the holy name of God, and under a pretence of piety they practised all kinde of impiety. And immediatly afterward, Ne (que) enim solùm considerandum est quid ab istis fiat, ve­rùm illud etiam observandum, quam ob causam faciant, that is, we are not onely to con­sider the action what men doe, but the affection is principally to be observed, for what cause and in­tent they doe it. It cannot be denied but the Isra­elites fasted and praied before they went to bat­tell against their brethren the Benjamites, Iudg. 20.23. they wept before the Lord untill even, yet were [Page]they overthrowne, and 18000. of them perished with the edge of the sword. Some men may justly marvaile, that the cause of the Israelites being good, and of the Benjamites bad, yet that they fell before the men of Benjamin, yea albeit they fasted and prayed and consulted with God who should first beginne the warre: Rogers upon Iudges, pag. 921. But whatsoever men may object or mutter, the Lord might dispose of the issue and successe of it without any injury to them that were overcome; forasmuch as it is free for him to afflict and chasten his as it pleaseth him, who hath alwaies just cause so to doe, and among such as are supposed to be most innocent, what man shall be able justly to say to him, Why hast thou done thus? Hee doth all things well, neither can evill dwell with the Almighty, whereas wee are corrupt, and in our best workes defective. Besides, he would prevent the evils that hang about us, and abate the strength of pride, or some other sinne whereunto by nature he seeth wee are most prone; yea, he will make triall, what patience, faith, obe­dience, and thankfulnesse is in us, whether such graces be in us, or not. True it is, it is not direct­ly expressed what the cause was, why God gave [Page] Israel the foile, and forsooke them in the day of battell: But whether they did trust in their great armies and put confidence in an arme of flesh, and therefore doubted not, but presumed of the victory and prevailing over their enemies; or whether they did it not in truth and sincerity, because they did not as well pursue the men of Dan for their Ido­latrie and forsaking of God, Iudg. 18.30, 31. Gen. 49.18 the fact being as hor­rible every way, as the private injurie offered to the Levites Concubine: It is most certaine, they did not throughly repent, as indeed they did after­ward, and prevailed, when they were throughly humbled. So then, notwithstanding the goodnesse of their cause, the greatnesse of their strength, the consultation with God, the practise of fasting, and the duty of prayer; yet may we still say as the sonnes of the Prophets in another case, 2 King. 4.40. There is death in the pot, the want of true turning to God, defiled and deformed all the rest. This is the great and generall fasting, not to abstaine from meat and drinke, but to cease from sinne, as the Prophet speaketh. August. su­per Iohan. Esay 58.6. Chrysost. su [...] per Math. Hee that sinneth and yet withall fasteth, (saith Chrisostome) doth not fast to the glory of God, but spareth his [Page]owne substance onely. This is handled at large in these Treatises, wherein is noted, what the true exercise of fasting is, what are the out­ward and inward parts thereof, the one answering to the other, together with the severall abuses of the counterfeit fastings. True it is, the Church of Rome complaine against us, and accuse us as enemies to fasting, even as the Pharisees some­times condemned the Disciples of Christ, Math. 9.14 whom he excuseth and defendeth: but were we worthy of this reproch and reproofe, yet are they the unfittest to upbraid us with it, who beside the bare name and naked title of fasting, have nothing remaining of the true nature and right practise thereof; but the end they ayme at, is to set up their owne me­rits, and to puffe up them selves with pride, as it was with the blind Pharisees their predecessors, whom in this and in sundry other points they fol­low. These things thus laid open, J presume to of­fer to your Worship, whose good affection to our Tribe, (so much scorned and scoffed at in the world) and carefull frequenting the exercises of religion many wayes appeareth, and as a token and testimony of my thankfull remembrance of your [Page]love to me, in that you disdaine not, but upon every occasion of passing by, to come under the roofe of my poore cottage: remembring the words of our blessed Saviour, Mar. 6.4. A Prophet is not without honour, save in his owne Countrey, and among his owne kinne, and in his owne house. The God of heaven and earth encrease your zeale to the truth, and finish that good worke which he hath begunne in you, unto the day of Je­sus Christ.

Your Worships at command, William Attersoll.

THE DOCTRINE AND PRACTISE OF FASTING and PRAYER; of FAITH and RE­PENTANCE.

IONAH 3.4.‘And Ionah beganne to enter into the City a dayes iour­ney, and he cryed, and said, Yet forty dayes, and Nineveh shall be overthrowne.’

THis Prophecie is wholly Historicall, as the other prophecies are dogma­ticall. It containeth the History of Ionah, relating what happened to himselfe, when he was sent of God to the great Cittie Nineveh, Gen. 10.12. to de­nounce unto the Ninevites their ut­ter overthrow. Who this Prophet was, and when he prophecied, may be gathered sufficiently out of the Scripture, where we reade that Ieroboam the second re­stored the coast of Israel from the entring of Hamath un­to the Sea of the Wildernesse, according to the word of [Page 2]the Lord, 2 King. 14.25. which he spake by his servant Ionah the sonne of Amittai the Prophet, which was in Gath Hepher. And it seemeth that he was the first of all the Prophets, whose writings are extant, and remaine in the Church for the instruction thereof in faith and obedience. For he lived before the battell of Ioash King of Israel with the Syri­ans, about the end of the dayes of Elisha, 2 King. 13.14. and 14.25. Neither let any object the Prophecy of Micah, as though he were before in time, the same that prophecied in the daies of Ahab, 1 King. 22. Because these two were not both one but different, neither doe their names accord in the Originall, as may appeare to every one that readeth.

True it is, this prophet hath this end and yssue of his writing with the rest, to set forth the judgements and mercies of God toward mankind: but this he hath pro­per and peculiar, that he is not here sent unto the Church and people of Israel, but onely unto prophane unbeleevers and uncircumcised persons, that we should understand thereby, that God hath rule over all nations, and is the God of the Gentiles as well as of the Iewes; Rom. 3.29. and an avenger of sinne in whomsoever he findeth it, Rom. 2.12. according to the say­ing of the Apostle, As many as have sinned without law, shall also perish without law; and as many as have sinned in the law, shall be judged by the law, Rom. 2.12. For then the Prophets were sent to the Syrians, 1 King. 17.9. & 19.15. 2 King. 8.7. and to them of Damascus, and to the Tyrians, howbeit extraordinarily at the will and plea­sure of God. And doubtlesse by his sending of his Pro­phets to strangers out of the promised land, God would reprove and condemne the desperate stubbornnesse of the people of Israel, who would not be moved and perswa­ded by so many of his holy Prophets that were sent and dwelt among them, and by so many threatnings as were brought upon them; where as these poore infidels and un­beleevers did by and by beleeve and obey the voyce of one [Page 3]Prophet, Math. 12.41. Luk. 11.32. that the Lord might say of them as he doth in an other case, Matth. 8.10. I have not found so great faith, no not in Israel.

I will not stand to discourse at large the vaine con­ceit and idle speculation of Epiphanius, Epiphan. of the life of the Prophets. touching this Io­nah. For he telleth us, that Elias gat himsalfe into the Wildernesse by reason of a great famine which hee had called upon the land, where, being nourished by Ravens, he quenched his thirst with the water of the brooke, and when the brooke was dryed up, hee was an hungred, and removed into Sarepta a Citie of Sidonia, 1 King. 17.9. Luk. 4.26. unto a poore wo­man a Widdow, the mother of Ionah, and entred into her house: now the woman left nothing undone of that which he commanded her: and he did eate and blessed her; for he could have no abode with the uncircumcised. And when as Ionah the sonne of the woman was decea­sed, God raised him up by Elias, and restored him alive unto his mother, because of the entertainement which she gave unto him: and that when Ionah was come to full age, he was sent unto Nineveh to the Assyrians. Where we have some truth mingled with much falsehood, and there­fore he deserveth to be credited no farther, then he hath the warrant of Gods word, being deceived with the tales of the Iewes that are masters of such lyes. I know the common sort are most of all delighted with such new tangled devises that have no substance in them: howbeit we should not please such itching eares, nor feed them with empty winde in stead of wholesome food: but avoid prophane bablings, and oppositions of science falsly so called, which some professing, have erred concerning the faith. 1 Tim. 6.20.21.

In this prophecy observe a twofold calling or sending of Ionah: the first in the two former chapters which he rejected: the second in the two latter which he executed. In this third chapter is set forth the execution of his cal­ling together with the fruit and profit thereof in the Ni­nevites, [Page 4]whereby we may see his errour and oversight in flying from his function, and supposing that he was sent in vaine: when as afterward he beheld with his owne eyes so worthy and glorious an effect of his preaching, 1 Thess. 2.19.20. as might rejoyce his heart, and be his crowne and glory be­fore the Lord, and in the presence of our Lord Iesus Christ a [...] his comming; who as a fisher of men cast his net into the sea, and inclosed a great multitude of fish of all sorts. But yet for all this, it did not sufficiently content the Prophet through a carnall misdeeming and misjudging of the suc­cesse of his labours, as if by Gods shewing of mercy, his ministery were contemned, his credit empaired, and his person scorned and exposed to contempt, because the Ci­tie was spared and not destroyed, as appeareth in the next Chapter.

In the 4. Verse and the rest that follow to the end of the Chapter, we are to consider two things. First the preaching of Ionah, Verse 4. A Sermon consisting of judgement: he singeth a mournfull song, foretelling them of their full and final destruction. Secondly, the effect of his preaching in the residue of the Chap. The preaching of Io­nah is a fearfull threatning of a fearful overthrow to come upon them for their wickednesse, Circumstan­ces in the threatning. which was come up before the Lord, & did cry for vengeance to heaven, Chap. 1, 2. In this denunciation we may observe sundry circumstances, 1 to passe over the beginning of the verse: first, the circum­stance of the time to come; forty dayes are limited for their repentance, as the dayes of Gods patience, which once expired they must looke for suddaine destruction. Secondly, 2 the circumstance of time already past, implied in the word (Yet) putting them in remembrance, that he had already spared them a long time, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. As if the Lord should have said by his Prophet, I have spared you long enough already, that I might justly poure [Page 5]upon you all my wrath; yet neverthelesse I will spare you a little longer. Thirdly, the subject of the judgement, 3 Nineveh, a great, a mightie, a populous and proud Citie, whereby also are understood the inhabitants thereof from the greatest to the least and lowest of them. Lastly, 4 the measure or quantitie of the judgement, an utter over­throw not of one person or one family, but of the whole Citty: now whether it were by sword, or famine, or pe­stilence, or by fire from heaven as God overthrew S [...]dome and G [...]morrha and the Cities of the plaine, or otherwise, is not expressed. Now let us come to the words.

And Ionah began to enter, &c. Albeit the Lord might forthwith have destroyed the Ninevites, yet he giveth them some time of repentance, and sendeth his holy Pro­phet unto them; which declareth the infinite and end­lesse patience of God even toward these Infidels that knew him not, neither called upon his name, Rom. 2.4. First let us observe the generall doctrine out of the whole threat­ning, and afterward come to the particulars. Before the Lord would utterly destroy the City, he raised up Io­nah the Prophet, to foretell their destruction. Doct. 1 This tea­cheth, Before the Lord destroy­eth he war­neth by his ministers. that the Lord for the most part never bringeth any judgement upon any people or person, but hee first foretelleth of it, and maketh it knowne unto them; hee warneth them, and threatneth it by his Ministers. This truth is to be seene every where in the Scripture, Amos 3.6.7. Luk. 13.7. We reade that the world was once de­stroyed by water: and it shall bee destroyed againe by fire. Of the first destruction we finde, that be foretold it unto Noah, and by Noah to the world before ever the flood came. And touching the second destruction which shall bee by fire, 2 Pet. 3.10. when the Elements shall melt with fervent heate, the earth also and the workes that are therein shall bee burnt up, God hath not left us ignorant, but in diverse places hath plainely set it downe unto us.

The reasons of this course and order of Gods dealing, who warneth before he smiteth, are eyther in respect of God, or in respect of the godly, or in respect of the un­godly. 1 In respect of God, to justifie his proceedings and judgements with men even before the sonnes of men: to stop the mouth of iniquitie, that it might have no­thing to object or plead against him, 2 Chro. 36.15. Ier. 25.3. 2 and 35.15. Secondly, in respect of the godly, be­cause hee would not take his people at unwares, who is friendly unto them, and loveth them as his owne chil­dren. Now it were the part of an enemy, and not of a friend to come upon them & surprise them at unwares, as they doe that come to assault a Citty; and therefore God to shew his favour and friendship to them that are his, doth foretell and give them warning before hand, that so they might happily prevent it by their repentance, 2 Pet. 3.9. and thereby have judgements kept from them. 3 Thirdly, in respect of the ungodly themselves, because God would have those that are none of his to be left without excuse, that they might not be able to accuse God of any unjust dealing, or murmure against him, for as much as they had warning, but would not bee warned; they heard of his judgements, but they would not judge themselves; neither labour to prevent them, Matth. 24.14. therefore the damnation of such is just.

Vse 1. Ʋse 1 Behold from hence the wonderfull mercy, goodnesse and patience of our good God, whose manner is alwaies to give warning before hee proceede in judge­ment. He seeketh not to take any at advantage, neither desireth hee the death of a sinner: And therefore the Prophet saith, Lam. 3.33.36. He doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men: to crush under his feet all the prisoners of the earth, to subvert a man in his cause, the Lord approveth not, Lam. 3.33.36. He would have none to perish that are his, but all to repent and to be saved. He instructeth, that [Page 7]he may not threaten: he threatneth, that he may not smite: he smiteth, that he may not destroy: 1 Cor. 11.32. yea and sometime he destroyeth temporally, that he may not destroy eternally. This is the course which he neede not observe; because upon our owne perill, the perill of our soules, wee are bound to take heed of judgements to come, that wee should prevent them before they come, He would have us to send out our Embassadours, which are our prayers, to treate of conditions of peace betweene God and us. Such as intend revenge and the execution of their wrath, are not wont to give warning, but to watch their oppor­tunity, as we see in Absolom, 2 Sam. 13.22. who spake neither good nor evill to his brother Amnon, because he hated him, and then suddenly, when his heart was merry with wine, com­manded him to be smitten. If God had a purpose to de­stroy us as his enemies, and to come upon us at unwares, hee would never threaten us, and give us such faire war­ning to avoyd the stroke of his sword drawne out against us. For wherefore doth hee not destroy us? Is it for want of desart on our part? No doubtlesse: he findeth just cause to proceede against us, and hee is of infinite power to punish us. The Prophet teacheth, Num. 11.23. Esay 59.1. that his hand is not weakned as though he could not strike us, neither is his arme shortned as though hee could not reach us, Esa. 59.1. v.

Secondly, 2 if any man bee overtaken with any judge­ment, he must know thus much, that certainely God was true, and that his purpose was, we should prevent it, or else he would never have given warning of it. There is no man that can justly say, that the silence of God is the cause of his security: for Gods manner is, never to come with any judgement, and to discharge a whole vol­ly of shot, but he alwayes sendeth a warning peece be­fore. But you will say, we have no Prophets to foretell, Ob. they are all gone; it is not with us as it was in former [Page 8]times. Answ. To this I make answer, as our Saviour saith of the rich man in the Gospell, that his brethren had both Moses and the Prophets among them, Luk. 16.29.31. when indeed both Moses and the Prophets were all dead long before: but his meaning was, that they had the bookes of Moses and the writings of the Prophets before them. So may I say, that wee have the Prophets and Apostles still a­mong us, I meane we have the holy Scriptures, wherein are contained the workes of the Prophets and of the A­postles: and besides these, God hath given to us his Mi­nisters, that they might as it were put life againe into the dead Prophets, that they might open and declare un­to us those things which are doubtfull and obscure: and therefore if any man be admonished by these, that judge­ments shall certainly come, let him take heed he withstand not the Spirit of God, for it is as true and evident, as if the Prophets and Moses himselfe were alive and uttered these threatnings; and it is the wonderfull goodnesse of God, that hee will foretell us of his judgements, and after a sort send them home to our owne hearts. Our consciences tell us, that wee are guilty of those sinnes which have formerly beene reprooved, and whereof we have beene forewarned: let us therefore conclude with our selves, that it is the mercy of God, that hee doth threaten hell and judgements unto us, as well as promise heaven and happinesse: and let us blesse his name in our hearts, that he hath granted such a gracious warning un­to us, and endeavour to breake off our sinnes, that so hee may bee pleased to proceede no farther with his judge­ments against us.

Lastly, 3 this dealing of God must provoke us to repen­tance and to turne unto God, Rom. 2.4. 2 Pet. 3.13. because his patience serveth to leade us to repentance, Rom. 2.4. The daies of his patience last long, but they are not everlasting, if we repent not. Let us meete him betimes, while hee is in the way, be­fore [Page 9]he approach nearer unto us and come upon us. Sinne separateth betweene him and us, and maketh God our utter enemy. Let us make an attonement with him, before his wrath burne like fire. True it is, he beareth long, but if we greeve his Spirit, we shall beare his indignation, and our owne condemnation whosoever we be. He forbea­reth long, but he will not alwaies forbeare, Exod. 34.6. he will come speedily and suddainly upon us. The longer he is in draw­ing his bow, the deeper do his arrowes pierce. Thus much of the generall doctrine.

Yet forty daies. Before we come to the cheefe point of­fered to our considerations in these words, Septuagint [...]. Intiellgit post 40. dies non intrà, ut qui­davolunt. Vide Drusij Lection. a question may bee demanded, how this threatning standeth with the truth of God, and the issue and event of the matter men­tioned in the end of this prophesy? to pronounce such a dreadfull sentence against a City and the inhabitants there­of, which tooke not that effect; or shall wee thinke that God changed his minde, to propose that which he pur­posed not? and doth not the Scripture teach us, that he is unchangable, and no shaddow of turning with him? I an­swer, the threatnings of God are oftentimes conditionall, though the condition be not expressed, as appeareth in the last verse of the 3. Chapter: Chap. 3.10. God repented of the Evill that he had said that he would doe unto them, and he did it not. True it is, he might have destroyed them justly for their crying sins, if it had pleased him, Chap. 1.2. seeing their wickednesse was come up before him, calling for judgement, and it had beene as easy for him to have sent a destroying Angell to overturne them, as a preaching Prophet to turne them unto him. From hence wee learne, Doct. 2 that the threatnings of God and denouncing of his judgements are not absolute, but condi­tionall toward his people; Gods threat­nings are con­ditionall. Gen. 6.3. 1 Pet. 3.20. 1 Cor. 6.9.10. Eph. 5.5. they containe an exception and limitation, except they repent and amend their waies. The condition is understood. So it was to the old world, Their daies were an hundred and twenty yeares, which S. Peter calleth the time of his patience, while the Arke was prepa­ring. [Page 10]See the same, 2 King. 20.1. Gen. 20.3. Mic. 3.12. and Ier. 26.18. Sometimes it is expressed, as Lu. 13.3.5. Re. 2.5.

Let us see some reasons. Reason 1 First, because after threat­nings, if we repent and lay them to our hearts, it causeth forgivenesse and blotting of our sinnes out of his remem­brance. For sinne, the cause of Gods judgements, being removed, Ezek. 33.14. &c. the effect will cease: as Ezek. 33. If I say to the wicked, you shall dye the death; if he turne from his sinne and doe that is lawfull and right, none of his sinnes that he hath committed shall be mentioned, 2 he shall live and not die. Second­ly, God is a God of long sufferance and much patience, ready to forgive and receive to mercy, yea in judgement to remember mercy, as 2 Sam. 24, 16. and Hab. 3.2. when once we turne unto him, Ier. 3.22. and 33.20. as Ier. 3. O ye disobedient children, returne and I will heale your rebellion: and Chap. 31. when Ephraim after his corrections lamented, saying. Thou hast chastened me and I was chastened, as a Bullocke unaccustomed to the Yoke, surely after that I was turned, I repented: the Lord answered, My bowels are troubled for him, I will surely have mercy upon him, he is my deare sonne, he is my pleasant child. 3 Thirdly, it is a speciall end and purpose, why God doth denounce his judgements and threaten his plagues, that we should repent, and so that he might repent: there­fore they are not absolute, but limited with condition, except we change and amend. And thus did the King of Nineveh understand this threatning, Chap. 3.9. Chap. 3. Let every one turne from his evill way, for who can tell, if God will turne and repent, and turne away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?

Vse 1. Ʋse 1 There is comfort in the greatest, the heaviest, and most fearefull threatnings of certaine judgements; there is hope of grace and mercy to be found, if we doe re­pent, as it were light shining out of darkenesse. Let none say, it is too late, my sinnes are too great or too many that they cannot be forgiven, as Caine said, Gen. 4. The Elders of Iudah did profit better by the threatnings of Ieremy. [Page 11]For when he had threatned desolation of the Lords house, and the destruction of the whole land, for which the Priests and Prophets would have put him to death, they pleaded the practise and example of good King Hezekiah for their comfort, as we noted before; when the Prophet Micah threatned that Ierusalem should be plowed up like a field, and lye desolate as a Forrest, he did not put him to death, Mic. 3.12. Ier. 26.18. but feared the Lord: and the Lord repented him of the evill which he pronounced against them. But it may be objected, Ob. If God threatneth and willeth one thing, and yet doth an­other, as heere he threatned to destroy Nineveh and did it not, then Gods will is changeable, or else he hath two willes, one will to destroy, another to preserve, which seeme contrary the one to the other. I answer, Answ. as God is one, so he hath but one will. Howbeit, it is di­stinguished into that which is revealed and secret. The secret is of things hidde with himselfe and not mani­fested, as Deutero. 29.29. The revealed is of things made knowne by the word and by daily experience. The secret will is without condition annexed unto it: the reveald is with condition, and it is joyned with exhortations, admonitions, instructions, and reprehensions, as may best serve for mans salvation, and to keepe him in awe of God and his threatnings. The secret shall and must be accomplished, notwithstanding all the oppo­sition and gainesaying of men and Angels, Rom. 9.19. For who hath resisted his will? and therefore albeit it bee most just and righteous, yet it is not to us a rule of righteousnesse: The revealed onely is the rule of our lives, and the square to measure and direct all our actions. The ig­norance of these two parts of the single and simple will of God leadeth into manifold errour, and the sound knowledge thereof beateth downe to the ground the perverse and corrupt practise of many. For when they breake out into sundry evils and much [Page 12]prophanenesse contrary to the expresse commandement of God and rule of the word left unto us for our instructi­on, a Plaut. Aulid. act. 4. sc. 10. Factum est, fieri infectum non potest, deos credo voluisse, nam ni vellent, non fieret, scio. Terent. in Eu­much. Act. 5. sc. 2. Quid. si hoc quispiam Coluit deus. they follow the practise of the heathen, and ex­cuse themselves, because forsooth it was the will of God it should be so, or else it could not have beene done. A grosse abuse of God and his wil. For when they walked in their owne waies, as it were in by-paths, and followed their sinfull lusts and pleasures, did they set Gods will be­fore their eyes? or did they aske counsell of him? or did they enter into such practises with a purpose to doe his will? No doubtlesse, they were ledde by their owne fansy as by a false guide, that turned them out of their right way, and therefore let them not excuse them­selves by his will, but rather accuse their owne wicked­nesse.

Secondly, it is the duty of all men in hearing the threatnings of God, to beware of all impediments and hindrances of repentance, for as much as they must take effect, unlesse we observe the condition. If wee doe not keepe the condition, the threatning is absolute, and surer than the heavens. Take heede therefore of these lets, which, as so many stumbling blockes, lye in our way to cause us to fall. Impediments hindring true repentance. First wee must not slight the threatnings of God, nor set light by them, as the manner of many is, who for the most part regard them no other­wise, Esa. 28.15. than as if they had made a covenant with death, and were at league with hell, and not with God, to serve him in holinesse and righteousnesse all the daies of their life. Such were the sonnes in law of Lot that should have married his daughters; when they heard of the over­throw of Sodome with fire and brimstone, and were exhorted to save themselves from that crooked gene­ration, and to depart from the tents of those wicked men, and to separate themselves from among that Congregati­on, least they were consumed with them: hee seemed [Page 13]as one that mocked unto his sonnes in law, Gen. 19.14. and there­fore they perished in those flames. Secondly, we must not exempt our selves from them, and post them over to others, or thinke they belong not at all to us, Esa. 28.15 that albeit the overflowing scourge shall passe through, it shall not come upon us, for wee have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have wee hidde our selves, Esa. 28.15. These are they that hide their owne sinnes like Adam, and turne them over to others, as hee did to the wo­man, and the woman to the Serpent, Genesis 3. wee care not on whose shoulders wee lay the burthen; so that wee doe not beare it nor touch it with our little finger, neither who smart for it, so that wee be free and doe not beare it. Thus wee flatter our selves, and never lay his threatnings to heart, untill his judgements fall full up­on our heads, as they did upon Pharaoh and the Egypti­ans.

Thirdly, bee not deceived to thinke by riches, 3 or honour, by power or pollicy, by favour or friend­ship, to fave and deliver our selves from the punishments of God; whereas nothing shall prevaile with him, nothing in the world, but repentance and turning from sinne, hating and forsaking it. True it is, in the courts and consistories of men, these may beare sway and get the upper hand; a man may escape by his purse, or winde himselfe out of trouble by might of men, and so avoyd the danger of the Law: but it is not so with God. For howsoever men use to reason, I care not, I will doe well enough, as long as I have money and friends: howbeit this will not serve to free us from Gods Plagues and punishments, as Zeph. I. Zeph. 1.18. When God had threatned to consume all things from off the Land, both man and beast, least they should imagine by their wealth or o­ther wiles to escape, hee saith, Neither their [Page 14]silver, nor their gold shall be able to deliver them in the day of the Lords wrath. Fourthly, delay not the time, nor put off the threatnings, which the Lord abhorreth, as Ezek. Ezek. 12.22.23. 12. Sonne of man, what is that proverbe that yee have in the Land of Israel, saying, The dayes are prolon­ged, and every vision faileth? Tell them therefore, thus saith the Lord God, I will make this proverbe to cease, they shall use it no more: but say to them, The daies are at hand, the word that I speake shall not be prolonged, for in your dayes, O re­bellious house, will I say the word, and (in your daies) I will performe it saith the Lord God. Let us therefore stirre up our selves to repentance and amendment of life to pre­vent his wrath, least we rushing on in sinne doe rush into our destruction.

Thirdly, 3 if God threaten and there follow no repen­tance, be well assured, that which he hath threatned shall come to passe. Gen. 15.16. Gen. 15.16. the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full: but when they had filled up the measure, then his judgements were to fall upon them. O how many exam­ples have we to terrify us, and to verify this to our hearts and consciences! as the old world, Sodome and Gomorrah, the falling of the Israelites into the hands of the Cananites, the Ammonites, and the Amalekites, mentioned almost in every place of the booke of Iudges; the carrying away of the ten Tribes never restored, the captivity of the rest, the seven Churches of Asia, the destruction of the Iewes by the Romans called the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place, Dan. 9.27. Matth. 24.15. and sundry others: all which assure us of the truth of this point. Let us apply this to our selves, and reason as the Apostle teacheth, Rom. 11.20.21. If God spared not the natu­rall branches, take heed, least he also spare not thee: and if the branches were broken off through unbeleefe, let not us be high­minded, but feare. We heare the threatnings of God de­nounced, and his fearefull judgements published and pro­nounced by his faithfull servants, but what repentance, [Page 15]what amendment followeth? May we not say with the Prophet, I hearkned and heard, but they spake not aright, Ier. 8.6.7. no man repented him of his wickednesse, saying, what have I done? every one turne to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battell, &c. And is it not so in our times, nay rather is it not worse? We are so farre from repentance and turning to God, that the Lord seemeth in his just judgement to have given us over and forsaken us, and to have blinded our eyes, to have stopped our eares, and to have hardned our hearts, least we should see with our eyes, and heare with our eares, and understand with our hearts, and should returne and bee saved. Sometimes he doth take away his word utterly, and hee threatneth it as a grievous judge­ment unto the Iewes, Matth. 21.43. The kingdome of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits there­of: and we are assured of the accomplishing thereof, Rom. 11.12. be­cause the fall of them was the rising of the world, and the di­minishing of them, the riches of the Gentiles. Sometimes, he will have it to remaine and continue among a people, for the farther hardning of their hearts, and the increasing of their just judgement and condemnation. This is a se­cret judgement, and therefore more sharpe and greevous than the former, as Esa. 6. Make the heart of this people fat, Esay 6.10. as they had fatted and fleshed themselves in sinne, and e­ven glutted themselves in iniquity: make their eares hea­vy, as they had stopped and stuffed them with vanity, that the word could not enter: and shut their eyes, as they had drowsie and sleepy eyes, and had closed the eyes of their bodies, so God threatneth to shut the eyes of their minds, as men benummed and past feeling, least they should see with their eyes, and convert, and be healed.

Lastly, as it is with the threatnings of God, so on the other side it is with his promises. We have many wor­thy and precious promises mentioned in the word, some of this life some of the life to come; some temporall, and [Page 16]some eternall, but all sorts are conditionall, and all sorts are to us as if they were never made, except wee leave our sinfull waies, and so turne to the Lord with all our hearts. Psal. 130.4. Exod. 20.5. Deut. 28.3, 4, 5. &c. Matth. 6.33. We have the promise of mercy and forgive­nesse reserved for us under hope: but to whom is it made? to them that feare him and love him. Wee have the pro­mise of earthly blessings to be ministred unto us, Deut. 28.3.4. &c. but to whom? To such as first seeke the kingdome of God, and to none others. We are ready to lay hold on the promise, but we forget the condition, like hirelings that regard the wages more than the worke. There is a promise to heare our prayers and to save us: but to whome is it made? Not to the prophane and to unbelee­vers, Ioh. 9.31. Psal. 66.18. for God heareth not sinners; and if we regard wicked­nesse in our hearts, the Lord will not heare us, as wee shall shew afterward. This admonisheth us of two things. One that wee despaire not, nor distrust the mercies of God toward us in earthly things or in spirituall, transi­tory or eternall, in things of this life or the life to come; we have comfort and strong consolation, when wee are truly and unfainedly turned to God, Psal. 37.25. Heb. 13.5.6. The other, that we blesse not our selves in our wick­ednesse, adding drunkennesse unto thirst, as the manner is, promising unto our selves peace when wee are at warre and open defiance with God. It may bee said to such as Iehu answered unto Iehoram, 2 King 9.22. Esa. 57.20.21. what hast thou to doe with peace? What peace so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Iezabel and her witchcrafts are so many? and Esa. 57. The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it can not rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt: Iussus fuit pra­dicare aliquid amplius quàm hìc dicitur. collego ex cap. 4 2. Io. Drusij Lection. in cap. 1. Io [...]ae. there is no peace saith my God to the wicked.

Nineveh shall be overthrowne. That is, the City and the Citizens, young and old, rich and poore, one and other. This is the summe and effect of Ionahs Sermon. We may not imagine that hee cryed nothing else, or spake no [Page 17]more than is here expressed. Iussus fuit pra­dicare aliquid amplius quam hic dicitur. colligo ex cap. 1.4.2. Io. Drusiij Lection. in cap. 1. Iona. Strabo. lib. 5. Geograph. Dio. Siculus. lib. 3. cap. 1. Herod, in Eu­terpe. For no doubt the Prophet lifted up his voyce as a Trumpet, and shewed them their sinnes and transgressions, as the Lord had before shewed unto him, that their wickednesse was come before his face, Chap. 1.2. This was a great and wealthy citty seated by the river Tygris, famous for the compasse of it, and the tops and towers where with it florished, as sundry histories doe make mention, and yet it was not priviledged from the judge­ments of God. This teacheth, that the sinnes of a nation, or people, or kingdome, when they are growne to an hight both in the manner & measure, Doct. 3 doe cause the Lord to bring desolation and destruction upon that land. When sinnes grow generall, the judgements are generall. When sinnes are generall and overspread a kingdome, as a Leprosy doth the body, then Gods judgements also are generall: See this Gen. 6.5.7. and 18.20.21. and 19.24. Deut. 9.4.5. For the wickednesse of the nations, the Lord did drive them out from before thee: and 2. Samu. 24.15. 2 King. 21.12.13.14.15. Hos. 4.1.2.3.

The reasons. Reason 1 First because the justice of God requireth that the punishments of sinne should be answerable to the sinne it selfe. If the sinne once become common, it is just with God, that there should come a generall judge­ment also. And albeit haply some few should repent and bee free, yet it is no reason this should privi­ledge and exempt the rest, and keepe away the generall judgement from them: for hee that doth re­pent shall have a recompence for himselfe, when not­withstanding a generall judgement, as a violent flood, shall sweepe them all away. Againe, when sinne is extreame, 2 it is reason that judgemēt also shoud be extreame: when sin is at the highest, it is reason that judgement should be at the highest: and a generall defection of sinne must of necessity have a generall waight of judgement, that when we have filled up the measure of the one, God may fill up the mea­sure of the other, Gen. 15.16.

Vse 1. Seeing this is true, that God will bring desola­tion upon a land for sinne, then have we cause to feare, that the day of our desolation and of our mourning is not farre off. For seeing it hath beene proved, that wee are growne to the hight of wickednesse, both in the manner by breaking all the bounds that God hath set to keepe us, and also in the measure by adding sinne unto sinne: then certainely in the next place what can be expected, but that our land should mourne, and destruction come up­on us, Hos. 4.1.2. as paine upon a woman in travaile? because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the Land, but by swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery they breake out, and blood toucheth blood. And if God destroy his owne people and other nations, and roote them out for the same sinnes that sway and swarme among us, filling all places, and abounding in all persons every where; what can we looke for, but that wee ha­ving the same weight of sinnes, should also have the same waight of judgement? God hath made us to drinke of as bitter judgements as ever any nation did, onely this remaineth, that as yet wee have not drunke the dregges, we have not yet tasted the cup of utter desola­tion and destruction. Now if God have gone thus farre with us, and our sinnes are heaped up to a full measure pressed downe and running over; why should not wee feare to drinke of utter desolation, as well as any other, seeing the same sinnes are to be found among us? So then we see, that the day of Gods visitation cannot be farre off by his course of Iustice; and certainely it is the nearer, because all feare is so farre from us, and the land so full of security, which being added to our former sinnes, will be a great meanes to hasten his judgements.

Secondly, 2 it teacheth us notably, who are the greatest enemies of a land, and bring wrath upon it: certainely the greatest enemies are those that bring the daies of ruine [Page 19]and desolation and mourning upon it. It is not simply such as sinne, for there is no man that sinneth not daily; but such as commit sinne with an high hand, breaking all the bounds and bankes that God hath set unto them, con­tinuing in sinne, and adding one sinne to another. These certainely are they that pull downe destruction upon a land. It is true such persons are ready to accuse the Mi­nisters of God and the faithfull of the land, as Ieremy was charged to weaken the land and to hasten the desola­tion thereof, and to be the troublers of the state: howbeit they may answer these as Elijah did Ahab, 1 King. 18.18. I have not trou­bled Israel, but thou and thy fathers house, in that ye have for­saken the commandements of the Lord. Is the physition the troubler of the patient, or the disease that is within him? Is the law the cause of strife and contention, or the ma­lice and envy and emulation that is in men? Is the watch­man the cause of the approch of the enemy? or the armour and munition and fortifications, the weakning of a Citty? No doubtlesse, these strengthen the same and serve to keepe him out. The Ministers of God are the physitions of the soule to cure the diseases thereof: and the horsemen and Charets of Israel to defend it, 2 King. 2.12. & 13.14. and the word is the meanes to beate downe sinne, which weakneth and wasteth the land till it come to destructi­on.

Lastly, 3 this serveth for instruction and admonition for all and every one of us. If we have any love to our Coun­trey, if we long after the peace and prosperity thereof, or desire the florishing of our kingdome, if we would not destruction to come upon us and it, and if we would live in quietnesse; the way is to take heede of adding sinne to sinne, and prophanenesse to prophanenesse, We account him an enemy, and that justly, that combineth and con­spireth with another to bring him to destroy the land and undermine the state thereof: so is he the greatest spirituall [Page 20]enemy that a State can have, that followeth sinne with greedinesse, and multiplieth one iniquity upon another. The way therefore to prevent such judgements is to breake off our sinnes by true repentance; which turne upside downe kingdomes, Citties, Families, private houses, and particular persons. We wish to have our Citties flourish, and our families prosper, and our chil­dren to continue our names and memories after our de­parture: but what availeth all this, unlesse wee set our selves to worke holinesse and righteousnesse? This is the onely way to keepe our State, our Citties, our townes, our villages, our families, and our children from mour­ning and misery, and to prevent the desolation and finall destruction of them. To conclude, let no man blesse him­selfe, because wickednesse overspreadeth the land, as wa­ter doth the sea; neither thinke that we may with more safety and security commit sinne, because the land is ge­nerally wicked: but let every soule and sinner repent him of his sinnes, and not harden his heart, because of the wickednesse of the times.

5. So the people of Nineveh beleeved God, and proclai­med a fast, and put on sackcloth from the greatest of them, even to the least of them.

Hitherto of the preaching of Ionah: now followeth the effect thereof: wherein consider two things, both what the Ninevites did, and what God himselfe did.

The actions of the Ninevites concerning

  • The people
  • King of Nineveh.

The actions of the people are

  • Their faith
  • Fruits of faith.

The actions of the King are set downe

  • His example Verse 6.
  • His proclamation, 7.8.

His proclamation is

  • published:
  • confirmed.

The publishing and proclai­ming thereof instructeth,

  • What they must not doe.
  • What they must doe.

The actions of God what he did

  • He saw their workes that they turned. Verse 10.
  • He repented of the evill threatned. Verse 10.

The beginning of their conversion stood in this, that they beleeved the word of God: And this helped and fur­thered to stirre up faith in them, that they considered they had to doe with God himselfe, and not with the Pro­phet onely. Wherein consider, 2 King. 14.6. that albeit hee was sent to them with heavy tydings, as the Prophet said to the wife of Ieroboam, Act. 7.27. yet they did not thrust him away from them as the Israelite did Moses, Act. 7.27. they did not stretch forth their hand, saying, lay hold on him, as Ieroboam did to the man of God, 1 King. 13.4. they did not mocke him and misuse him, as the lewes did the Prophets, 2 Chro. 36.16. they did not account him a mad fellow for his strange mes­sage, Act. 26.24. as the Captaines did one of the Children of the Pro­phets, 2 King. 9.11. they did not waxe wroth, and put him in a prison house, as men in a rage, as Asa dealt with Hanani the Seer, 2 Chro, 16.10. & then bid them feed him with the bread of affliction, & with the water of affliction, as Ahab gave charge to the Governor of the City concerning Micaiah, 1 King 22.27. They did not put him to death and stone him with stones, as they dealt with Zechariah at the com­mandement of the King, 2 Chro. 24.31. they did not sug­gest to the King, Ionah hath conspired against thee in the middest of the Citie, the land is not able to beare all his words; or say unto him, O thou Seer, goe, fly thee away into the Land of Iudah, and there eate bread and prophecie there, but prophecie not any more at Nineveh, for it is the house [Page 22]of the kingdom, as Amaziah said to Amos, Amo. 7.10.12. Neither did they put him in the stockes, and smite him on the mouth with the fist, as Pashur did Ieremy, and the standers by, did Paul, Ier. 20.2. Act. 23.2. Neither did they apprehend him and throw him into a dungeon, or accuse him, saying, This man is worthy to die, for he hath prophecied against this Citie, all the words that ye have heard, as the Priests and false Prophets pleaded against Ieremy at an other time, Ier. 26.11. neither did they drive him out of their coastes, and thrust him out of their Citie, as the people of Nazareth dealt with Christ, Luk. 4.29. and the Gadarens when they had lost their Swine, Math. 8.34. Neither did they stop their eares, and gnash on him with their teeth, and runne upon him with one accord, as they served Stephen Act. 7.54.57. Neither did they beat him; or charge & command him that he should speak no more in the name of the Lord his God, and then let him goe; as they dealt with Peter and the other Apostles Act. 5.40. but they heard him attentively, patiently, and readily: they accounted him not as a troubler of the state, as the filth of the world, 1 Cor. 4.13. and as the off-scouring of all things, but they received his words as the oracles of God, they per­swaded themselues that he was sent unto them of God, and constantly beleeved that those things would undoub­tedly come to passe which he had spoken. Of this faith, what it was, see more afterward, vers. 9. This threatning for the certainty of it, is utttered in the time present: for in the originall it is word for word, is overthrowne, and therefore the destruction being so neere and so certaine, it was high time for them to looke about them.

We learne from hence that the word preached is the ordinary meanes ordained of God to worke in us faith, Doct. 4 The word preached is the instrument of faith. as Rom. 1.16. 1 Cor. 15.1.2. Iam. 1.18. Examples hereof are plentifull to be found in the Acts of the Apostles after the hearing of the word; they were pricked in their hearts [Page 23]and said, What shall we do? Act. 2.37. they received his word gladly, and were baptized, vers. 41. many of them which heard the word beleeved Chap. 4.4. Cornelius is di­rected to Peter, who should tell him words, whereby he and all his house should be saved, Act. 11.14. The Gentiles were glad when they heard the word, and as many as were ordained to eternall life beleeved, chap. 13.48. the Lord opened the heart of Lydia, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul, chap. 16.14. some beleeved and clave unto him, chap. 17.4.12.34. and 18 9.10. The Souldiers, the Publicanes, and the people that came out to heare the preaching of Iohn were converted and said, Master what shall we doe? Luk. 3.10.12.14.

The reasons: Reason. 1 First because this is the high ordinance of God, which he hath appointed to beginne and worke in us faith and so the conversion of a sinner, 1 Cor. 1.21. If he had ordained other means, 2 other means should have bin effectuall. Secondly, faith cannot be without know­ledge: knowledge cannot be without instruction: Mat. 2.7. instructi­on cannot be without such as instruct us in the faith, 3 and therefore we must necessarily heare their voyce and seeke the law at their mouthes, Mal. 2.7. Thirdly, to this end and purpose God gave gifts to men, and called them, to beare his word to his people, Eph. 4.11.12. 4 so the Pro­phet teacheth that the Priestslips must preserue knowledge, Mal. 2. Lastly, our first parents were turned from God, and drawne to unbeleefe, by hearing the voyce of the old Serpent the devill: it is therefore convenient, that the elect, by hearing the voyce of God, should be converted to the faith and returne to him that calleth.

Obj. 1. If this be so, Obiect. 1 then it must needes goe hard with deafe men that cannot heare. For if faith presuppose knowledge: knowledge, instruction: and instruction hea­ring (which is the sense of learning) what shall we thinke of them that are borne deafe? How shall they beleeve [Page 24]and be saved? Answ. Blind men may heare, but deafe men can­not. I answere, albeit God doth ordinarily worke faith by hearing, yet he can and doth extraordinarily worke faith without it, and of stones raise up children to Abra­ham; as he gave faith to Rahab the harlot by hearing of his workes, not of his word, Ios. 2. For the holy Ghost that teacheth by inspiration supplieth the want of out­ward meanes by an inward motion in their hearts: So that albeit they cannot have knowledge, nor salvation by the hearing of faith, yet they may have them by an in­ward worke supplying the defect of the outward senses.

Secondly, Object. 2 how shall infants and children beleeve and be saved, seeing they are not capable of this hearing through weakenesse of nature? or if they heare, they cannot understand, which is all one as not to heare at all? Answer. I answer, the doctrine is to be understood of such as are of yeares of discretion, as also other precepts are to be taken, 2 Thess. 3.10. Math. 24.15. We must therefore answere this Objection as the former. For deafe men and children are in this point alike, God supplying their wantes, so that all of them that are elect are taught in­wardly, and engraffed into Christ for salvation effectually, as it is said of Iohn the Baptist, He shall be filled with the holy Ghost, even from his mothers wombe. Luk. 1.15. and thus as the Spirit supplieth the want of Baptisme, in like maner it doth the want of faith.

But cannot God save without preaching? Object. 3 or must all heare Sermons that will be saved? Can he not save them that heare seldome or neuer; as well as those that doe heare often? What say you of them that have not the word? Answ. I answere, we speake not of the power of God what he can doe, but of his will what he promiseth and purposeth to do. We doe not deny but he can save with­out the preaching of the word, yea without the word: but when he sendeth the ordinary meanes, it is great folly [Page 25]to reason what he can do: for then he tieth us to the word, and we may be wel assured he will save us no otherwise. He can preserue life without meat, as we see in Moses and Elias: but when we have plenty of foode at hand, and yet refuse to eate, we tempt God and shorten our daies, and must needes perish without using the meanes. As he fed Israel with Manna in the wildernesse, where they had neither seed time nor haruest: But when once they came into the land of Canaan, a land flowing with milke and honey, Iosh. 5.12. then the Manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corne of the land, neither had they it any more, but they did eate of the fruit of the land of Canaan: So in the times of the ruines of the Church, and desolations of Sion, when the word is precious, hee giveth it food which the world knoweth not of, and feedeth as it were with hidden Manna, and setteth up a light in their hearts, to guide their pathes in the way of peace, as it were in the darkenesse of the world: but when he hath sent a plen­tifull haruest and labourers to gather in the corne, and when he hath set up a candle upon the candlesticke to give light to all that are in the house, woe unto them that despise the provision he hath provided for them, and shut their eyes in the cleere light of the Gospell, and so sit in the shadow of death: these doe no better than murther their owne soules. For they tempt God, who have the word and will not heare it, and make a needlesse triall of his absolute power what in himselfe he is able to doe. God could have taught the Eunuch without the ministe­ry of Philip, Act. 8.26. and 10.4.5. as he could have instructed Cornelius by the Angel that appeared unto him; but the Angel directed him to Peter; to teach us that it is his Ordinance we should submit our selues unto it, if we would attaine to saluation, for that is the wisedome of God, unlesse we account our selues wiser than God, and know a nearer way to the kingdome of heaven than he hath shewed us. [Page 26]But let such as follow their owne way take heede they neuer come there, and so in the end, while they professe themselues wise, prove themselues to be starke fooles.

Vse. Ʋse. 1 1. This reproueth sundry sortes. First of all the Recusants among us (and the Popish rabble of that An­tichristian generation) which stoppe their eares like the Adder, Psal. 58.5. and will not hearken to the voice of Charmers, char­ming never so wisely; and withdraw themselues from our Church-assemblies, and so forsake their owne mercy. To these we may joyne the cursed crue of damnable A­theists, who binde themselues in a league of infidelity, and barre themselues of the meanes of faith and saluation; let them feare, least one day they roare in hell, where shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth; and their Elysian fields proue hellish flames. This is Gods deepe iudge­ment upon them to revenge the contempt of his holy word: and for this cause he sendeth them strong delusi­ons that they should beleeue a lie, 2 Thes. 2.11.12. that they all might be damned, who beleeve not the truth, but had pleasure in un­righteousnesse. Both those sortes refuse to ioyne with us in the seruice of God, in the word, in praiers, and in the Sacraments. Such may be compelled by the magistrate to the exercises of religion. Recusansie and rebellion came in together. And the rather, because Recu­sancy came in with treachery and Rebellion. For untill treason beganne to be plotted, called to this day the rebel­lion in the North, and the Bul of Pius Quintus was publi­shed, recusancy was not practised, nor the name heard of: but as they began together, so they have growne up and continued together: and I am perswaded, so long as the one remaineth, the other will not be forgotten. This is the sottishnes that is found in that Synagogue, which hath euermore hatched rebellion in her bosome, and shewed her selfe an enimy to princes and their Scepters. Hence it is, that ignorance is made the mother of devoti­on. Hence it is, that Images are made lay-mens bookes: [Page 27]But God hath appointed his Church to be instructed in the faith, not by looking upon an image, Non oculus spectaculo, sed animus verb [...] pascendu [...] est, Lactant. but by hearing his own ordinance; not by feeding the eye with Pictures, but the heart with the Preaching of his word. Secondly, it condemneth the corrupt practise of the Separation, who deny to our Church the name of a true Church, and Ministers thereof to be lawfull Ministers: and as they teach that our Church is false and Antichristian, so they charge us to be false, Idolatrous, and Antichristian mini­sters, no better than the Priestes of Baal. These are they that under colour of zeale are revolted from us, which say, stand by thy selfe, come not neere to me, Esay. 65.5. for I am hol [...]e [...] than thou. But I would aske the Question of them: In what Church they had faith wrought in them? and by what Ministers, as it were by spirituall fathers, they were be­gotten againe to a lively hope of the heavenly inheri­tance? If there be any faith or grace in any of them, as I trust there is in many of them, howsoever they iudge uncharitably of us, where had they it? or how obtained they it, but by the Ministery of the Church of England? So that we are a true Church, and have true ministers, even our enimies being iudges. I may therefore demand of these, as our Saviour did of the cheefe Priestes, Math. 21.25. the baptisme, of Iohn whence is it? From heaven, or is it of men; Is our ministery of God, or is it of men? For the hearer must confesse his treacher to be sent of God, if his tea­ching beget faith and repentance in him; and praise the name of God for it: and acknowledge the blessing of God upon his labours to be an infallible token of his law­full calling, Ier. 23.21.22. Mal. 2.46. 2 Cor. 3.1.2. On the other side, God doth not convert men to himselfe, or establish them in grace by false and Antichristian Mi­nisters and meanes. The holy mar­tyrs were members of our Church. I would likewise aske the Questi­on of the holy Martyrs of our Church, which accounted not their owne lives precious vnto them, but laid them [Page 28]downe for the truthes sake: are these martyrs of God, or of the Devil? were they members of a true Church, or of a false? and were they instructed in the faith by Chri­stian ministers, or by Antichristian? nay doubtlesse, they were not ashamed to professe themselues children of our Churches, and reuerenced our ministers as their spiritual fathers, and would have accounted it no small blessing, if they might have beene suffered to heare them. Thirdly, they are reproued, who thinke that above all other things the preaching of the word may best be spared, and that the office of the Ministers is least of all usefull and neces­sary. But is faith necessarie? is repentance of any use? is saluation out of request? If these be giftes absolutely necessary, then must the preaching of the truth and the publishing of the Gospel be necessary also, without which they cannot be attained of us. Christ Iesus is the greatest gift under Heaven: after him, the ministery of the word is the highest benefit, whereby we come to know Christ and him crucified: I say it is the greatest benefit which God hath given to the Sonnes of men, Eph. 4.12. Eph. 4. for the ga­thering together of the Saints, and the edification of the Church. Whosoever therefore despiseth the preaching of the Word, 1 Thess 4.8. despiseth not man, but God, and is guilty of his owne condemnation. For as our bodies cannot live with­out food, so our soules prosper not without the word. Lastly, it reproueth all drowsie and carelesse hearers, that are a sleepe when they should heare; these exclude and shut out faith that it should not enter. But how should God open our hearts, when we will not keep open our eares? or how should he heare our praiers, when we will not heare his Fastours? Is it not all one altogether to be absent, and to be thus present?

Secondly, 2 it serueth for information. First, it is a mat­ter of great comfort for the lost sheepe of Christ, straying from the sheepefold, to understand, that there is a way [Page 29]left to recover wandering sinners, which is the hearing of the word, and thereby to come to saluation. Secondly, it is a speciall blessing to live in such places and among such people, where the word is taught, and where they may be partakers of hearing. Happy are they that hear­ken to the saving doctrine of the Gospell with a desire to understand it, and care to obey it. But wofull and feareful is their estate that live in such barraine places, where the dearth of the word pineth away the soule; we may say of them in deed and in truth, Num. 13.32. They are lands that eate up the inhabitants, thereof: and in that day shall the faire virgins and young men faint for thirst. Thirdly it teacheth, that the sense of hearing is a great and necessary blessing of God, and therefore fitly called the sense of understanding and of beleeving. True it is, God can worke without, and no doubt he doth: true it is also that our other senses are good helpes of many notable things, especially the eyes are speciall furtherers of knowledge. God hath two bookes whereby he teacheth us, and wherein we reade his marueilous wisedome; the one, Psal. 19.1. Rom. 1.19.20 1 Cor. 1.21. the great booke of his Creatures, wherein we see his eternall power and god­head, and learne to give him the glory: the other, is his written word inspired of God; and i [...] profitable for doctrine, for reproofe, for correction, and for instruction, in righteous­nesse, that the man of God may bee perfect, throughly furnished unto all good workes, 2 Tim. 3.16.17. Fourth­ly, where the word is not taught according to the Ordi­nance of God, there ordinarily sinners are not converted to God. For there is no other ordinary meanes under heaven to conuert sinners, and to worke faith in us, than the Ministery of the word. How then can we learne what true faith and true repentance is, without the word? Without which we must perish and be condemned. Hence it is, that Salomon saith, Where vision fail [...]th, Pro. 29.18. the peo­ple perish. Behold therefore the misery of the people, who [Page 30]are as sheep dispersed and scattered without a Sheepheard, and without such leaders as may shew them the good and right way wherein they should walke, and so come to the kingdome of heauen. Fiftly, all such as through negligence, carelesnesse, contempt, and wilfulnesse refuse the hearing of the word, doe cast from them the meanes of their salvation, and forsake their owne mercies; nay, they renounce faith and turning to God, and account themselues unworthy of eternall life. Such were those Iewes which are spoken of, Act. 13. who resisted the word, Act. 13.46. railed at it, and spake against those things that were spoken, contradicting them and blaspheming, and ther­by renouncing their part in Christ Iesus. Such are many carelesse and dissolute persons, among us, little better than Atheists, who are never touched with any love of the word, or desire of it, but cast it behind their backe, and set it after all the vanitie and pleasures of this life.

Lastly, 3 Mar. 4.24. Luk. 8.18. it is our duty to take heed how we heare. For it standeth us vpon to regard not onely what we heare, but how we heare, and to looke to the manner as well as to the matter. For we may perish as well by not hearing aright, as by hearing that which is not right: and consi­der that it is not enough to heare the truth, but we must heare truly. That we may attaine to this, we must per­forme these seuerall duties, to attend unto it, to marke it, to understand it, to hold it fast, and lastly to apply it.

The first point required of us, The first duty of hearers. is, that we attend & hear­ken unto it diligently. It is not sufficient to heare. It is one thing to heare, but hearkning and giuing eare is an­other thing. To heare requireth no more but the eares of the body: to hearken requireth the eares of the mind. Hence it is, that Christ saith Math. 13. He that hath eares to heare, Math. 13.9. let him heare. Where he sheweth, that there is a double hearing, outward and inward, or else he would never charge and admonish these that had eares to heare [Page 31]and came to the house of God to heare, that they should be carefull to heare: shewing that a man may heare, and yet if he take not heed be as a deafe man, and do no more good than a deafe man that heareth nothing; it is all one as if he wanted eares, or were as a stocke or a stone, nay it had beene better he had never heard at all, because by his hearing he heapeth up the greater judgement and the deeper condemnation. Therefore Salomon saith, Prouerb. Pro. 4.20. and 8.32.34. 4. My sonne attend to my words, incline thine eares vnto my sayings: and Chap. 8. Hearken unto me, blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the postes of my doores. This is called the inclining of the eare to wisedome, Pro. 2.2. Let it not then be with us as with the multitude and the greatest sort, who suppose it to be suf­ficient to heare, though they do no more; but it is requi­red of us to listen & give eare, nay both our eares to God. Let it be with us in performing this duty as it is with worldly minded men, when they heare of some good bar­gaine, or matter of gaine and profit, they raise and rouse up themselues instantly, and lift up their eares, they hear­ken very diligently and carefully. Or let us deale as such persons doe, who being present and hearing some what spoken, do thinke that others speak of them: O how will they bow forward and incline their bodies, how wil they put their eares neere and close to them, to heare (if it be possible) what they say; yea sometimes would give much to know what they speake. Thus let us doe, wee should never heare the word, but thinke the Minister speaketh not onely to us, but of us, and say to our owne hearts, This is a word concerning me: this is for my good and profit, this will bring to me the greatest gaine: I must therefore incline mine eare, attentively, and listen unto it duly and diligently. If any aske what is the reason, and whence it commeth, that one hath an hearing eare, and an­other hath a dull and deafe care; the holy Scripture telleth [Page 32]us and testifieth, Psal. 40.6. Psal. 40. Sacrifice and offering thou didst not require, mine eares hast thou opened. This is the eare-marke whereby we are knowne to be in the number of the sheepe of Christ, Ioh. 10. No man can make and frame to himselfe such sanctified eares by his owne wit and indu­stry, but they must be prepared and given to us of the Lord, and to him we must returne the praise and glory.

The second duty is to marke and regard what we heare. The second duty of hea­rers. How many are there that heare & attend, yet never once marke nor regard any thing what hath beene spoken and delivered: for if they did, they could not be so ignorant & blinde as they are. Life and death is set before us: life to our salvation, if it be embraced; death to our condem­nation, if it be rejected; but the most sort regard neither the one nor the other. Hence it is, that our Saviour in­structing his Disciples, warneth them, that whosoever readeth must consider what he readeth, Math. 24 15. Math. 24. The palpa­ble ignorance that abideth in our assemblies springeth from this fountaine, that we never weigh with our selues what we have heard, neither call our selues to an account at any time what we have learned.

The third duty is to understand what we have heard. The third duty of hea­rers. For to heare and not to understand is as if we heard not at all, or as if we heard a strange language. Hence it is, that our Saviour after his teaching examineth his Disci­ples what they had learned and how they had profited, Math. 13.51. Have ye understood all these things? Act 8.30. they said vnto him, yea Lord. So Philip said to the Eunuch, Vnderstandest thou what thou readest? 1 Cor. 14.9.11.13.14. shewing thereby, that reading and hearing, and praying, or whatsoever we doe without knowledge and understanding, is nothing worth, it is as sounding brasse or as a tinkling Cimball. And in the description of the good and saving hearers, it is said, they heare the word and understand it, and beare fruit: so that they can­not bring forth fruite without understanding the word. [Page 33]So then right hearers are understanding hearers. How many have we that are hearers? but how few, that we can truely say of them, they be understanding hearers? These profit nothing, alwayes learning, and never attai­ning to any sound knowledge.

The fourth duty, is to hold fast what we have heard, The fourth dutie of hea­rers. Pro. 2.1. 2 King. 7.8. marked, and understood, we must lay it, nay locke it up closely and safely in the heart as in a closet, as Pro. 2. receive my wordes, and hide my Commandments within thee; we must doe as the Lepers did, when they had siluer and gold and much treasure, they went and hid it, and carried it away. The word of God is a precious treasure, the merchandise thereof is better than siluer, and the gaine thereof is bet­ter than fine gold, We should therefore both hold it fast, and hide it safe. The Apostle exhorteth us, Heb. 2.1. that we ought to give the more diligent heed to the things which wee have heard, least at any time we should let them slippe from us: Revel. 3.11. and Revel. 3.11. hold fast that which thou hast, till I come, that no man take thy crowne from thee. We must commit good instructions to memory. We use not to lay up Iewels & precious stones loosely and carelesly abroad; had we rich treasure, we would not lay it up negligently, but keepe it under locke and key: We should not let holy and hea­venly instructions slip out of our minde and memory, but hold them fast and firme in our remembrance. This re­proveth such as heare the word, but it is with such dull, deafe, and drousie eares, that it is no sooner in at the one eare, but by and by it is out at the other. Thus it com­meth to passe, that through the negligence of the hearer, the labour and doctrine of the speaker is utterly lost. The fift duty of the hearers.

The last duty is to apply to our selues what we have heard, a notable meanes to strengthen memory, and to hold fast that which is fading and falling away. For as a medicine, which is wholesome and healthfull in it selfe, profiteth not the sick persons that doth despise and reject [Page 34]it, and not apply it to himselfe: so the hearing of the word, and receiving of the Sacraments, are all without fruit, if we doe not apply them to our selues, and by appli­cation make them our owne. All hearing is no better than Hypocrisie without this. For it is with us as it is at a feast: So much is ours as we receaue and digest, it skilleth not what others doe, we are no way benefitted or bettered by it: So we have small profit by that which others heare, except we apply it to our own soules. What good hath the wounded man that hath a Soveraigne salue and plaister, when hee layeth it not unto the sore?

And proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from &c.) Hitherto of the faith of the Ninevites: Now of their re­pentance, expressed by two signes of it, proclaiming a fast, and putting on sackcloath, to make themselues thereby the fitter to pray and intreate the Lord to spare them, and to shew mercy and compassion upon them. They come not to God with full bellies, or with meat in their mouthes, or in gay and gorgeous apparell, but in the commonest and coursest which they had. These are the witnesses of their sorrow, yea helpes and occasions, and furtherances to more acceptable workes, than they are of themselues. For considered in themselues and in their owne natures, they are little worth, seeing bodily exercise profiteth little, 1 Tim. 4.8. 1 Tim. 4. But as we see that which is blunt in it selfe and not able to cut, Horat. d [...] arte poet. may not withstand­ing sharpen other things; so fasting in it selfe no better than feasting, and sackcloath than silke and costly apparel, may neverthelesse further holy duties and quicken us in the persormance of them with greater zeale. The Prophet therefore could not complaine of these Ninevites, as our Saviour did of the Iewes, Luk. 7.32. We have mourned to you, and yee have not wept.

Let us now come to the meaning of the wordes [Page 35] Fasting importeth an abstaining not only from meate and drinke and sleepe, so farre as humane infirmity wil suffer, but from labour and the workes of our callings, most of all from delights, pleasures, plaies, pastimes, recreations, idlenesse, haunting of tipling houses, surfetting and drun­kennesse, the common sinnes of the Land, which have drawne downe the hote wrath and heavie displeasure of Almightie God upon us.

2. They Proclaime it, That is, they leave it not indiffe­rent and arbitrary to the will and pleasure and discretion of every person to doe what they best fansied, but they are bound by a Law and decree to performe it and undergoe it. For doubtlesse were every man left at his own liberty, whether he would serue the Lord or not, or when to serue him, O what a decay in religion should we find in the world in a short time! Yea touching the Lords day, though it be but one for seven, Luk. 14.23. and God have left the rest to our selues or our lawfull labours, yet if no man should be compelled to the seruice of God, should we finde any knowledge of God in the land, or any faith in Christ? So backward we are in matters of our owne salvation, to which a man would thinke we should be so forward, as we should need no spurre of exhortation.

3. They put on sackcloth; It may be it was not sack­cloth in his proper kind, which is commonly so called, which they could not possibly in such plenty and abun­dance supply themselues withall, at such a suddaine, but their ordinary and meanest attire, so that were it, that in civility and modesty they might, they would have strip­ped themselues to the bare skin, thereby acknowledging and confessing themselues unworthy of any creature to cover their nakednesse. They had sinned through their wealth and superfluity in both these, in pride and excesse. The Pampering up of backe and belly are as the two daughters of the horseleech that sucke the very blood of [Page 36]the land, & have wasted the substance and estates of many persons, and consumed great families. Both these lay aside and cast away from them, yea they punish and revenge themselues of their surfetting & drunkennesse by fasting, professing themselues unworthy to tast one bit of bread or to drinke one drop of water: and of their pride and excesse in apparell, by putting on sack cloth, acknowled­ging themselues unworthy to weare any thing upon them. Doct. This practise of theirs teacheth, that it is a fruit of repentance to take vengeance of our selues for our sins. It is required of us to be revenged of our sinnes. This the Apostle teacheth, 2 Cor. 7.10.11. Godly sorrow worketh repentance to saluation not to be repented of. Behold what revenge this hath wrought in you. This will shew what affection we beare to our sinnes, when we daily strive to mortifie the deeds of the flesh. Before repentance they are so deare unto us, and so beloved of us, that we cannot abide to be reprooued of them: but when true repentance and sorrow for sinne commeth, then we begin to brooke and digest not onely reproofe of them from others, but vengeance also upon them from our selues: And when once we can be avenged of them, it is a plaine token we account them our utter enimies. For no man desireth re­venge but upon him whom he supposeth and accounteth his enemy: 1 Sam. 24.19. and no man findeth his enemy, that will let him goe well away. 1 King. 3, 26. Salomon knew the right mother 1 King. 3. by her tender heart and yerning bowels, which could not endure to see the child divided by the sword: so surely when we cannot abide the sword of reuenge to wound and slay our sinnes, we have iust cause to suspect our re­pentance, and that as yet we love our sinnes too wel, when we are loath to have our enemy wounded. This revenge the Apostle calleth the beating downe of the body, 1 Cor. 9.27. or the keeping it under and bringing it into subjection; and the offering up our bodies as sacrifices to God. Rom. 12.1. Our sinnes must be dealt with all, as Sarah dealt with Hagar, hardly and [Page 37]roughly, that she fled from her face: Gen. 16.6. so we must handle them that they may depart from us; we must claspe them and crush them hard, as men doe nettles and other noysome plants, that they doe not sting us. But if we pamper them and use them delicately, 2 Sam. 18.5. as David bade Ioab intreate the young man Absolom gently for his sake, they will soone over-master us, and get the upper hand of us.

Let us make use of this point. Ʋse 1 This revenge standeth not in wounding our selues and offering violence to our owne bodies. The Romanists glory in whipping them­selues, like the old heretikes called Flagellantes; This they call penance, howbeit it is no better than a mocke-repen­tance; & this revenge is a will-worship, Esay. 1.12. the which God never accepted: but will say unto them, Who required these things at your hands? Eph. 5.29. The Apostle teacheth that no man yet never ha [...]ed his owne flesh, but nourisheth & cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church: 1 King. 18.28 none ever did the con­trary, that we reade of, but onely the Priests of Baal, who cut themselues after their manner with knives and lan­cers till the bloud gushed out upon them; and the man possessed and thereby after a sort distracted, Mark. 5.5. who lived in the mountaines and in the tombes, crying, and cutting him­selfe with stones. They then wander wide out of the right way, and are ignorant what the true revenge is, neither let them looke for any reward at the hands of God, who bring sorrow upon themselues, and are executioners or tormenters of themselues: Or what commendation of patience can arise to them, that afflict themselues, and suffer willingly from their owne hands?

Secondly, let us see wherin this revenge standeth, Vse. 2 how we may use it aright, & in what particulars it consisteth: First, there cannot be a greater revenge, than to spoile our adversary of his chiefest delight, and to vexe him with the contrary. The flesh in every one hath often­times some darling sinne, at least wherein it most deligh­teth, [Page 38]which most properly we may call our iniquity above all the rest, Psal. 18.23. and which is as the right eye or the right hand: the right eye in respect of pleasure, the right hand in respect of profit. This right hand, and right eye must be cut off and pulled out. Thus did Zacheus when hee was conuerted, Luk. 19. his gainfull and profitable sinnes of wrong and oppression, being his master sinnes, he shaketh off and renounceth, Luk. 19.8. Behold Lord, the halfe of my goods, I give to the poore, and if I have taken away any thing-from any man by false accusation, I restore him foure-fold. This taking of revenge was the counsell that Daniel gave to Nebucadnezzar, Dan. 4.27. to breake off his sinnes by righteousnesse, and his iniquity by shewing mercy to the poore. The maine sinne of Paul was persecution and wasting of the Church: but loe, how he revenged the flesh after his Conversion; as fast as hee had destroyed and plucked downe, so fast he builded up againe even with both his hands, and laboured more abundantby than all the rest; yea he never traveiled so farre to persecute the faithfull, but he tooke a thousand times more paines to preach the faith, Act. 9. Rom. 15.19. Gal. 1.23. 1 Cor. 15.10. The great labours which he tooke in planting Churches, in perils, in watchings, in wearinesse, 2 Cor. 11.26.27. in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakednesse, were nothing else, but his revenge upon the flesh, for the paines he had taken before in persecuting.

Secondly, 2 this revenge consisteth in converting those very things, which have beene the matter or object of sinne, and abused by the flesh to sinne, to the seruice of God, & to be the matter of our repentance; as the siluer & gold that was abused to Idolatry, was afterward employ­ed to the worship of the true God. David in his adul­tery defiled the mariage-bed; in his repentance he washed his bed with teares, Psal. 6.6. yea all night long he made it to swim. So the Ephesians, that had used curious artes, when once they beleeued, came and confessed and shewed their [Page 39]deedes; for they made a sacrifice to the Lord of their Conjuring bookes of exceeding value, Act. 19.19. esteemed to be worth fifty thousand pieces of siluer. And as the Israelites had sin­ned greeuously in offering their earings of gold to make therewith a Calfe; so repenting of their Idolatry, Exod. 35.22. they offered likewise gold and earings to the Tabernacle wil­lingly, whose heart made them willing to bring an offering to the Lord, untill there was more then enough, Exod. 36.5.

Thirdly, when with the same members and instru­ments of our bodies, 3 which the flesh most of all hath a­bused to sinne and wickednesse, wee in speciall sort seeke and endeauour to glorifie God. Zachariah the Priest sin­ned with his mouth in giving God the lie, whiles hee beleeved not the Angell sent unto him, that God would give him a sonne: but so soone as hee could speake (for he was striken dumbe) he glorified God with his mouth and praised his name, Luk. 1. Luk. 1.64. So the wo­man which is thought to have abused her eyes, her haire, his lippes to wantonnesse and uncleannesse (for she was a greevous sinner) when she repented, she re­venged her selfe upon the flesh, in shewing her love to Christ; she ceased not to kisse his feet, to wash them with the teares of her eyes, and to wipe them with the haires of her head. O how happy were it for such, as have used their tongues to deceit, whose mouthes have beene full of cursing and blasphemy, & their throate an open sepul­cher, if they would circumcise their lips, and make their tongues their glory to glorifie the name of God! that whereas they have cursed bitterly, Eph. 4.29. now they may learne to blesse graciously, that our communication may be good to the use of edifying, and minister grace unto the hearers: And such as have had feet swift to shed blood, & to carry them to places of vanity and impiety, of drunkennesse and uncleannesse, happy were it if they would take re­venge of themselues, and use their feet to carry them into [Page 40]the house of God, Psal. 122. [...]. and say to the Lord, Our feete shall stand within thy Gates, O Ierusalem, Psal. 122.2.

Fourthly, 4 we take revenge on the flesh, when we of­tentimes refraine ourselves, and bridle our affections from the use of things otherwise lawfull, because we have of­fended therein. As if we have offended in gluttony and drunkennesse, we should punish our selues with fasting and abstinence from strong drinke: as we take knives, from children, when they cannot use them without hur­ting of themselues.

The last point of this revenge is, when we upbraid the flesh and cast it in the teeth with those afflictions which God sendeth, as the wages of sinne. For though we may not draw punishments upon our selues to mortifie the flesh, yet when God imposeth them upon us for our good, we should make benefit and advantage thereof, and insult over the flesh, and triumph over it when God punisheth it, rating and checking it as the cause of all our smart: Ah, thou vile flesh, I may thanke thee for all this paines and sorrow, I could not turne thee, but I hope God will now tame thee: I could not convert thee, but I trust God will now evert thee and turne thee quite out of dores: thou liftedst up thy selfe aloft, but God will bring thee under, thou rebell. Thus we should joyne with God, helpe him to whip our sinnes harder and oftner by taking his part, justifie him in all his dealings, drive his chasticementes home to our hearts as the nailes to the head, and impute all the causes of our afflictions to our selues. If we would try our repentance by this revenge, and our revenge by these few notes, alas where shall we find the repentance that is required among the greatest number! doe we mortifie our beloved sinnes, or are they as bitter as gall and wormewood unto us? doe we turne those things, times, and place which we have abused to sinne, to be matters and witnesses of our repentance? doe we turne [Page 41]those members of our bodies abused to sinne, to be in­struments of righteousnesse and holinesse? or doe we bridle and restraine our selves from such things wherein wee have offended? No doubtlesse, these are farre from us, and therefore we from repentance.

A fast, and put on sackcloth.) Thus much generally is to be obserued from the practise of the Ninevites, that revenged themselues of their excesse and superfluity by fasting and sackcloth: now we are to speake of fasting in particular. But first of all let us set downe the doctrine. We learne, Doct. that publike fasting was alwayes wont to be sanctified and appointed among Gods people in times of dangers either present or imminent. Publike faster were alwayes called and san­ctified in times of danger. This is confirmed by sundry precepts, as Levit. 16.29. This shall be a statute for ever unto you, in the seventh mouth, on the tenth day of the moneth, ye shall afflict your soules by a statute for ever. So the Prophet Ioel, chap. 2.15.16. Blow the Trumpet in Zion, sanctifie a fast, call a solemne assembly, gather the people, sanctifie the Congregation, assemble the Elders, gather the Children and those that sucke the breast, &c. see how he hea­peth sundry commandements together, binding the Priests, the people, the Congregation, the Elders, the children, the married, that is, all sortes, high and low, young and old, one and other. The truth of this far­ther appeareth by sundry examples of such as have gone before us in this practise. Ezra the good Scribe of the Lord, and Nehemiah the religious governour of the peo­ple, fasted and all that were under their charge, Ezr. 8.21 Neh. 9.1. 2 Chron. 20.3 So Iehoshaphat ordained a fast throughout all Iudah, when the enemies upon a suddaine had broken into the borders of his kingdome: hee knew no way better how to resist them, and drive them backe than this, which he found stronger than the sword of the mighty: and so shall we find praying and fasting stronger to withstand the infection and to call the heauy hand of [Page 42]God gone out against us, and striking downe many thou­sands of us, than all the rules and receites, the meanes and medicines which the wisest Physitions can prescribe, if we performe it aright, Exod. 17.11. 1 Sam. 7.9.10. as Exod. 17. the sword of Ioshua was not so forcible as the praier of Moses; for while he held up his hands Israel prevailed, and when he let downe his hands, Amalek prevailed. True it is, good meanes are neither to be despised nor neglected, for that were to tempt God, and to strengthen the enemy; howbeit of themselues they profit little, the greatest power and strength lyeth in prayer which sanctifieth our fasting.

Now that we may understand the doctrine of fasting a­right, What we must do to un­derstand the doctrine of fasting aright. what a fast is. and so be directed the better in the practise thereof, let us consider these fiue points, what it is, what be the kindes thereof, the parts, the reasons, and lastly the uses. The first point is, what it is. Fasting is an abstinence from all meates and drinkes, from euen to even, comman­ded of God, to testifie our solemne repentance, and to make our praiers more effectuall. I call this an abstinence from all meates and drinkes, as appeareth plainely in this Chap. Let neither man nor beast taste any thing, let them not feed nor drinke water, 2 Sam. 3.35. vers. 7. The same speakth David, when he fasted for the murthering of Abner, who was slaine by the sword of Ioab, God doe so to me and more also, if I taste bread or ought else, til the sunne be down. Many there are that pretend a solemne fasting, when indeed they doe nothing lesse: such dissimulation there is with God & man. Better it were never to keepe a fasting, than to obserue such a mocke fast: for their fasting is eating and drink­ing. Let us not fast in shew, and feed in secret; neither make profession of one thing, and practise another. I adde in the description, from even to even, that is, for an whole day. This we saw in the example of David before, who fasted till the Sunne went downe. And 1 Sam. 14.24. they must not eate bread untill evening. So the Israelites [Page 43]having received two great losses, doe humble themselues and gather themselues together into the house of the Lord. They wept, and sate downe before the Lord, Iudg. 20.16. and fasted that day untill the evening; and the next day they prevai­led against their enemies. Thus for the death of Saul and Ionathan, and the slaughter of the people, 2 Sam. 1.12. they likewise wept and fasted untill the evening, 2 Sam. 1. because they were fallen with the sword. And Ioshua, after the discom­fiture of Israel by the men of Ai, rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the Arke of the Lord, Iosh. 7.6. untill the eventide, he and the Elders of Israel, and put dust upon their heads. Thus we see the time how long we are restrained, to keepe as in a meane between too much and too little. The next point is, that it is commanded of God. This we saw before; and this maketh a difference be­tweene humane fastes (of which we shall speake in the next point) and this that is a Divine institution. So then fasting is not a will-worship, nor devise of man, but an Ordinance of God. The next point is, that it serueth to make profession of our repentance, and so to be a meanes to worke in us the greater humiliation. Hence it is, that it is called the humbling of the soule, or an afflicting thereof, Levit. 23.27. Numb, 29.7. to seeke of him a right way for us, Ezr. 8.21. and it was evermore joyned with praier, 1 Sam. 7.6. Numb 29.7. they fasted on that day, and said there, Luk. 2.37. We have sinned a­gainst the Lord: and Luk. 2. it is said of Anna the Prophe­tesse, she departed not from the Temple, but serued God with fasting and prayers night and day. This is the life of our fasting, when we make it as the wing of prayer, wherby more swiftly we make it fly up to heaven and pierce the cloudes, and enter into the presence of God. Therefore the last part of the description is, that it serueth to maks our prayers more earnest and effectuall, as verse. 7. Let neither man nor beast feed nor drinke water, but cry mightily unto God. For as fulnesse maketh us more unfit, dul, heavy, [Page 44]sleepy, and consequently untoward to every good worke: so this abstinence quickneth our zeale, feeling, faith, and every good worke.

So then touching the nature of Fasting, Fasting hath the nature of a Sabbath. from all these points joyntly considered, we learne that it hath the nature of a Sabbath, because at such time & seasons we are bound to abstaine not onely from meates and drinkes, but no lesse from our ordinary labours, profits, and pleasures; even such as at other times are lawfull, become now unlawfull. Wherefore as the Lord commandeth to sanctifie the Sab­bath, so he commandeth to sanctifie a fast, and threatneth that whosoever shall doe any worke at all therein, even on that day, Levit. 16.31. & 23.30.31. shall be cut off from among his people, Levit. 16. Because it shall be a Sabbath of rest, and we ought to resort at such solemne times to the house of God, no lesse than we ought to doe on the Sabbath, if not rather more, in re­gard of the urging and pressing occasion, Iudge. 20. Hereby then falleth to the ground the opinion of such as hold it neither needfull nor expedient, that the word should be preached at such times as the Church assembleth for fasting and praying. These are not ashamed to affirme, that they have often heard and read of the exercise of fasting and praying, but never of fasting and preaching; as if for­sooth the time were spent unprofitably that is spent that way. These men would gladly say somewhat to maintaine and countenance their owne idlenesse. And because the di­ligence of others maketh their negligence to appeare the greater, they open their mouthes against them and their practise who preach the word in season and out of season according to the Commandement of God and man, and speake all manner of evill of them. The wise Salomon tea­cheth, Pro. 26.16. Pro. 26. That the sluggard is wiser in his owne conceit, than seven men that can render a reason. We ought to use all meanes whatsoever (and all little enough, and too little) to stirre up our selues to faith and repentance from dead [Page 45]workes: but the preaching of the word is the principall and speciall meanes to worke these in vs: and what is what is all our fasting without true repentance? doubtlesse there is no life in it, and therefore at such times the word should be taught, to make the rest of the workes more live­ly. Besides, we have shewed, that it hath the nature of a Sabbath day. Whatsoever therefore they were forbidden on the Sabbath, was likewise forbidden on the day of fasting; and whatsoeven they were then Commanded to do, ought likewise to be done and practised on this day. But the Apostle teacheth, Act. 15.21. that Moses hath in every City them that preach him, being read in the Synagogue every Sabbath day. So then, besides that every day of fasting was a Sab­bath day, we see that after Moses was read he was also preached: but he was read in their assemblies on the daies of their fasting, Neh 9.13. there he sheweth how they spent that day: one fourth part they reade in the booke of the Lord their God, an other fourth part they spent in prayer and confessing their sinnes to God, and by all likelihood, the other two parts were spent in preaching after they had read the Lecture of the Law: which is not expressed, be­cause he had so lately and largely spoken thereof in the former chapter. And seeing they spent not the residne of the day idly, but in some holy exercise together, and neither in reading, nor in praying, how should it be spent but in prea­ching & hearing the word of the Lord? Thus Anna serued the Lord in the Temple with prayer & fasting, where without all question was the preaching of the word, as well as pray­ing and reading. It is a desperate cause that hath nothing to pretend. It is objected, that the preaching of the word at such times is never expressed, neither urged by Comman­dement; nor Commended by example. But we must con­sider the usuall manner of the Scripture, by one part of the worship of God to understand the whole. For sometimes there is mention of fasting, but not at all of prayer, Ester. 4. [Page 46]and often elsewhere. What then, shall we collect and conclude from hence that they praied not to God, nor once lifted up their hearts to him? The brute beastes may keepe such a fast, and therefore more must be under­stood then is named. Esay. 56.7. Math. 21.13. So the Temple was called the house of praier; we never reade it called the house of preaching: and yet it serueth no lesse for the one then for the other. But these men conceive and imagine, there is some time wherin the preaching of the word is unseasonable. Lastly if the preaching of the word were used in times of holy feasting & solemne thanksgiving to be rendred unto God for some extraordinary blessings or deliverances receiued as in the Passeover, & the like: why should not the same exercise be much rather takē up, when the times of holy fasting are sanctified? that as at the one we might be stir­red up to praise God for his mercies, so at the other we might be moved to fear his judgments ready to fal upōus.

The second point is the kindes and sorts of fasting. This we must learne, The severall sorts of fasts. to the end we may know of what fast the Prophet speaketh. For all fastes are not of one nature, neither undertaken for one and the same cause. There is a fast prescribed by the Physition, to restore health, 1 or to procure appetite, abstaining from sustenance to consume raw and superfluous humours. The cause of this is repletion. Hence ariseth this rule of theirs, What­soever diseases fasting or emptinesse cannot take away, cure them by medicine. 2 An other is, to performe some­what with haste and expedition, when the minde is so set upon some earnest businesse, that a man either forgetteth himselfe, or else can intend no time to take his sustenance and the refreshing which nature otherwise would re­quire. 1 Sam. 14.24. Such was the fast commanded by Saul, who had no religious respect therein, but aymed at this, to spare no time from pursuing his enemies. Such was Pauls fast and of the rest that were in the ship with him, Act. 27.33. Act. 27. [Page 47]they had no leasure to take meate in time of the storme and tempest, every houre fearing shipwracke, and stan­ding in jeopardy of their lives. 3 There is a fast of Christi­an sobriety, which is nothing else but an using frugality in meates and drinkes, or the vertue of temperance, and is to be practised of us all the daies of our lives, accor­ding to the warning of our Saviour, Luk. 21.34. Take heed to your selues, least at any time your hearts be over-charged with surfetting and drunkennesse: Rom. 13.13. and of the Apostle, Let us walke honestly as in the day, not in riotting and drunkennesse, 4 not in chambering and wantonnesse, &c. There is an other fast of necessity, which is a forced and constrained fast, which God often sendeth as a chasticement when he breaketh the staffe of bread, Leuit. 26.26. Deut. 28.23. when he maketh the heavens as brasse, and the earth as yron, when he destroyeth the labours of the husbandmen, when the field is wasted, the corne blasted, the grasse withered, the vines dryed, and the land mourueth, Ioel, 2. Because we will not take up a volunta­ry fast that he would, he forceth us to take up a fast which we would not; because the earth forbeareth her fruites, we must forbeare our food, Aquinat, je­iunium jeiunij and therefore it is not unfitly called, a fast of a fast. Howbeit even in this God in judgement remembreth mercy. We have heard many complaine and cry out in their necessities, What shall we eate? or what shall we drinke? Math. 6.31. and where­withall shall we be clothed? Neverthelesse, we have ra­ther heard what famine is, then felt it in truth; we know not what this judgement meaneth, neither have tryed what the sharpe weapon of necessity bringeth with it. The Lord hath rather threatned, than executed it; and touched us with his little finger, than laid his whole hand upon us: and smitten us with the backe of the sword ra­ther than turned the edge toward us. For what, I pray you, have we ever suffered, in comparison of the judge­ments of God upon his owne people Israel? as in the [Page 48]daies of Ahab when it rained not on the earth by the spa [...]e of three yeeres and sixe monethes: 1 King. 17.1. Iam. 5.17. and in the siege of Sama­ria, when an Asses head was sold for fourescore pieces of siluer, and the fourth part of a Kab of Doves doung for five pieces of siluer: 2 King. 6.25. nay more than all this, when the fruit of the field failed, Levit. 26.29. Deut. 28.53. &c. they did eate the fruit of their own bodies, even the flesh of their sons & of their daughters, in the straightnesse wherwith their enimies did distresse them: yea, oftentimes fell out in the shifting and dividing of that lothsome meat, as Ieremy noteth in the Lament. Lam. 4.10. 2 King. 6.28.29. Ioseph debello Iudeor. The hands of the pitifull women have sodden their owne children, they were their meate in the de­struction of the daughter of my people. O how gracious and mercifull hath God beene to us, that we know none of all these things! Nay, we have beene so farre from having a wofull and wretched experience of these things, that moe among us have destroyed themselues through sur­fetting and drunkennesse & wantonnesse, than have dyed through want: moe have perished by riot, excesse, and superfluity, than through penury and necessity. This commeth to passe through the abuse of our long peace, and the contempt of the Gospell. The Gospell bringeth peace, peace bringeth plenty, plenty breadeth prodigality, & prodigality bringeth penury: and therfore Moses char­geth the Israelites, when they should enter into goodly cities which they builded not, Deut. 6.10.11.12. houses full of all good things which they filled not, welles digged which they digged not, vineyards and Olive trees which they planted not, then they must beware least they forget the Lord their God. For if ever we forget God, it is when we are full, that is, when we have greatest cause to remember him. Besides the former kindes, there is likewise a fast from sinne: this is a spiri­tual abstinence, a sacrifice which especially pleaseth God, consisting in the holinesse of our lives, which we must keepe all the dayes of our lives. Of this the Prophet speaketh, Is not this the fast that I have chosen, to loose the [Page 49]bands of wickednesse, to undoe the heavy burdens, Esay 58.6, 7. Zach. 7.5.6. &c. to let the op­pressed goe free, to deale thy breed to the hungry, and that thou hide not thy selfe from thine owne flesh? This fast we must all keepe, and that at all times. 6 There is also a miraculous fast above nature. Of this we have three examples in holy Scripture, one of Moses, at the publication of the Law; one of Elias, at the restitution of the Law; another of Christ Iesus our Saviour at his inauguration and entrance into his office. This the Church of Rome after an apish imitation hath taken up: and that which he did once on­ly in all his life, as if they meant to go beyond him, they make annuall or yearely. Hee abstained from all meates and drinkes, they celebrate a counterfeit fasting, which may better be called a feasting. 7 The last sort is a religi­ous and Christian fast, when we unfainedly humble our selues before the Lord, and judge our selues that we may escape his judgement. Of this we speake in this place, and this we have before described.

This fasting hath two parts: one outward, The parts of fasting both outward and inward. the other inward, helped forward by the outward. The outward is called a bodily exercise, which is an abstinence for a time from the profits and pleasures of this life, there­by to make us apter and fitter to the inward vertues. These are either generall belonging to all, as abstinence from food both meate and drinke, so farre as humane infirmity suffereth: provided if we cannot, that we doe it sparingly, privately, without giving offence, and with­out pretending a necessity where there is none. Be not deceived, God will not be mocked. If he inable us to abstaine, and we doe disable our selues; if we make shew of fasting, and doe nothing lesse, he will find us out, and we shall beare our condemnation whosoever we be. For better it were not to fast at all, then thus to dissemble and play the notable hypocrites with God and man. I leave such therefore to the judgement of God, and the checke [Page 50]of their owne conscience. But as we say commonly, ne­cessity hath no law, where God inableth not to beare out this hard exercise, let them in the feare of God take some short refreshing. For these outward exercises were instituted to make us fitter to better duties, not to make us unfitter: that the flesh should be tamed, not killed: Dometur caro, sed non inter­imatur, Hiero­ny. above ordinary custome, but not beyond the na­ture of man. But besides this abstinence from food, it is as necessary that we abstaine from bravery in apparell, Exod. 33.4. Ester. 5.1. & 4.1. and from the workes and labours of our daily callings, much more therefore from pleasures and pastimes, and from excessive measure of sleeping, 2 Sam. 12.16. Ioel. 1.13. that we may have no occasions or allurements to reioyce in the flesh, and so to withdraw and withhold us from the solemne worship of God. We have such among us as will seeme willing & more forward then many of their fellowes, and would account themselues wronged to be accounted contem­ners of holy things; who notwithstanding when they should make preparation to so high and holy a worke, are busie about their owne workes, or, which is all one, about their masters: and when they should use medita­tion after praying and preaching ended, they runne every one after the lustes of his owne heart. I can learne no otherwise out of the Law of God, but these may as law­fully follow their labours upon the Sabbath, as upon the day of fasting: let these looke in what Schoole they have learned farther liberty. Ezod 20.8. Ioel. 2.15. Levit. 16.29.30.31. For the same Lord that saith San­ctifie the Lords day, saith also Sanctifie a fast: he that chargeth not to doe any worke on the Sabbath, chargeth likewise to do no worke at all on the day of fasting: he that hath restrained sonne and daughter, man seruant, maid seruant, and the stranger that is within the gates from labour on the Sabbath, hath also forbbidden to every one all manner of worke, whether it be one of your owne [Page 51]Country, or a stranger that soiourneth among you. Finally he that hath called the seventh day a Sabbath, hath also entituled the day of Fast a Sabbath of rest by a statute for ever. If then we be ashamed to follow the workes of our hands, and the course of our ordinary businesse upon the Lords day, we ought also to be afraid to give up our selues to the labours of our callings upon our fast-day, which ought with no lesse religion to be obserued then the other. But hereof more afterward. These are com­mon abstinences belonging to all: there is one proper to the married couple, that they abstaine from the other­wise lawfull company one of an other, Heb. 13.4. and the bed other­wise pronounced to be undefiled. The Prophet enioyneth the bridegroome to goe forth of his Chamber, Ioel. 2.16. and the bride out of her closet; who notwithstanding might iustly, if there were any, chalenge the greatest priviledge. The wise man teaching, that to every thing there is a season, Eccl. 3.5. and a time to every purpose under the heaven, mentioneth a time to imbrace, and a time to refraine from imbracing. And the A­postle prescribeth that they withdraw themselues with mutuall consent for a time, 1 Cor. 7.5. that they may give themselues to fasting and prayer. True it is Salomon saith, Eccl. 4.9. that two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labour: but all this holy time of separation, one is better then two, and he hath a better reward for his labour. It is the Apostles Precept, not to defraud one an other, Piaefraudes & licita. but now defrauding is both lawfull and laudable. This and all the other outward obseruations, howsoever they may seeme childish, or at least of small importance to the naturall and carnall man, because the Lord is a Spirit, Ioh. 4.24. and will be worshipped in spirit and truth; and being in their owne nature indifferent, neither good nor evill, they can make us neither better nor worse. Neverthelesse, The use and benefit of the outward parts. these outward parts have their singular use and benefit, & that in three respectes: for first, they are the ordinances of [Page 52]God who hath commanded them, and therefore they are not lightly to be esteemed by the judgement of the senses or outward man, that can go no farther then to the cere­mony it selfe; but according to the Scripture and institu­tion of God, which teacheth that God will blesse his own ordinances, and thereby worke his owne will, being un­dertaken in a lively faith, and in his holy feare. What may seeme more simple and unsufficient to throw down the strong walles of Iericho then the trumpets of Rammes hornes, Iosh. 6.4, 5. and the shout of the people with a loud voice? yet be­cause this was Gods owne ordinance, it prevailed. What may seeme more weake, then the washing of Naaman in the waters of Iordan, 2 Ring. 5.12. to clense his Leprosie? were not Abana and Pharphar, the rivers of Damascus as good? Yet was it Gods appointment to heale him thereby. Iohn 9.6. Exod. 15.25. 2 King. 2.21. Christ our Saviour made spittle and clay to annoynt the eyes of the blinde, and bad him goe to wash in the poole of Siloam: a man might have thought this would rather have put out his eyes, then restored his sight; Yet he went, and washed, and received sight. God oftentimes worketh by weake meanes, and sometimes by contrary, that the glory may not be of men, 2 Cor. 4.7. Exod. 14.28.31. Iosh. 6.21. Iudg. 7.4. Dan. 3. Ion. 2. as he conveieth heavenly treasures in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God. So then it is the manner of God to work sometimes without meanes, sometimes by weake meanes, sometimes against meanes, and sometimes above meanes, as pleaseth him. 2 This we see evidently in the Sacraments. Secondly, they that come to runne and wrestle for a game were wont to abstaine from all such lettes as hinder their exer­cise, 1 Cor. 9.25. and every one that striveth for mastery, though it be to obtaine a corruptible Crowne, is temperate in all things, that may disable them to performe the same with praise and commendation: and shall we thinke that the children of God, by abstaining from such things as he hath inter­dicted them, shall not have a singular fruit and benefit to­ward [Page 53]the obtaining of an incorruptible crowne? Lastly, the mouthes of the enemies are hereby stopped, if there were no other profit. For they chalenge the Gospell to be a doctrine of liberty & licentiousnesse in eating and drin­king, and that it cannot stand with the practise of fasting: why then should we not strive to stoppe the mouthes of such as watch for our halting, and take away all occasions from such as seeke occasions to speake evill of our doctrine and profession?

Hitherto of the outward parts, the inward follow. Rom. 14.17. For the kingdome of God standeth not in these outward things, it is not meate and drinke, but righteousnesse, and peace, and ioy in the holy Ghost: and therefore except we bring with us more then the externall exercises before mentioned, our fasting may be matched with the fasting of the beastes of Nineveh, for both they did eate nothing, and they were covered with sackcloth: and if we doe no more, what priviledge have we above them? Wherefore we must consider the inward vertues helped forward and furthe­red by the outward and bodily exercises, as it is in the Sacraments of Baptisme and the Lords Supper. 1 Ioel. 1.13. & 2.17. Math. 9.15. 1 Sam. 7.6. The in­ward parts and manner of fasting, consisteth in foure things, humiliation, repentance, prayer, and confidence. The first is humiliation, never more necessary then at such times, which consisteth in the sight of our sinnes, in the feeling of our misery, in a bewayling of our vile estate, and an humble and particular confession of all knowne sinnes, without any reseruation of any one. 2 Sam. 12.22. Gen 21.17. Psal. 147.9. & 109.27.28. & 145.15.16. We must poure out the inward mourning of the heart witnes­sed and signified by the outward teares of the eyes. If this be wailing and lamentation be found in us, certainely he which heard the moane and mourning wrung from Ismael and Hagar in their extremity, he which heareth the cry of the young Ravens, & the roaring of the Lyons that call upon him, will much rather heare the sorrow­full [Page 54]lamentation of his owne deare children which they make unto him in their misery. This humiliation answer­eth with good proportion and agreement to the outward parts: for thereby we confesse our selues unworthy of food, of rest, of apparell, of life it selfe, or of any helpe & comfort of this life.

The second part is repentance. The former penitency or humiliation and compunction of heart is the ground­worke and foundation of true repentance, and maketh way for it as the needle doth for the threed. This con­sisteth in avoyding evill, and in doing good. This abstai­ning from evill is signified by our abstinence from food, and it is the cheefe end of fasting. For what is our for­bearing from meats and drinkes, if we doe not fast from sinne, but drinke in iniquity as water, like the fishes of the sea? Esay. 1.13. & 58.4. This was it that caused the Lord so often to reject the fastes of the Iewes, because they filled themselues with all wickednesse, they fasted for strife and debate. To abstaine from sustenance, and not to abstaine from sin, is the Devils fast, it pleaseth him, but not God. If then we desire to approve our fasting to him, let us practise the workes of piety toward God, and that in the sincerity of a good conscience as in the sight of God; and likewise the workes of Charity toward our brethren, forbearing one another and forgiving one another, remitting debtes to the poorest sort that are no way able to pay, and espe­cially in bestowing almes upon such as want releefe and fustenance. Esay. 58.3.6.7. Zach. 7.9.10. At least let us bestow so much as is spared by our abstinence that day, least under a pretence of godli­nesse we practise miserablenesse, like those that allow of this exercise to pinch the bellies of their labouring ser­uants. Hence it is that Christ Iesus joyned fasting and almes together in precept; Math. 6.23.16. Act. 10.30.31 and we must joyne them both together in practise, like Cornelius. He that doth not thus repent, doth not truly repent. If every mans fasting [Page 55]were measured by the line of his repenting, Iona. 3.8. I feare the greatest number of those that abstaine from food, would be found to doe nothing lesse then repent of their offences.

The third part is prayer, 3 which we must make in time of fasting. No prayer, no true fasting, for fasting without it, is as a dead carcasse without life. This is one end of fasting to make our praiers more feruent and forcible. Hence it is, Ioel. 2.17. that the Lord prescribed a platforme of praier to the Priestes, the Ministers of the Lord in the solemne assemblies of sanctifying a fast, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach: that the heathen should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, where is their God? These Ninevites, having but a short warning, and a little light of knowledge knew thus much: for they proclaimed a fast, that neither man, nor beast should either eate or drinke: but they added with all, and cry mightily un­to God, vers. 8. Luk 2.37. Math. 17.21. Act. 10.30. 1 Cor. 7.5. Thus did Anna serue God with fastings and prayers, not with fasting alone, neither with prayers alone, but with both of them joyntly together. Neither is it ordi­nary prayer onely that should be conceived at such times, but as the occasion of the Assembly is extraordinary, so ought our prayers to be. Thus therefore ought every one to rouse up himselfe to be feruent in prayer, and as faithfull remembrancers of the Lord to give him no rest untill he heare us and grant our requestes. This prayer consisteth partly in confessing our speciall sinnes that have brought his judgments, craving pardon of them and beseeching him to turne away his wrath and heavy displeasure from us, and partly in asking such things as are needfull for us.

The severall sorts of a religious fast, The severall reasons and causes of pub­like and private fastes. which a man under­taketh to make his soule and body the fitter to pray more feruently to God, are these two, private and publike; to these I will joyne the severall causes and reasons wherefore they have beene taken in hand, which vary according to severall occasions. The private is which we sanctifie in secret [Page 56]and before God, for such causes as our owne Consciences beare record unto us. Math. 6.18. Of this sort our saviour speaketh Mat. 6. We may not appear unto men to fast, but unto our Fa­ther which is in secret; & the Father which seeth in secret shal reward us openly. This David practised, what time his child was striken with mortall sicknesse, because in the sicknesse of the child he did consider the wrath and displeasure of God against himselfe, for the remooving whereof he fasted, 2 Sam. 12.22. mourned, and prayed, and never gave over, day nor night, untill such time as he saw Gods will fulfilled by ta­king away the life of the child. 1 Sam. 1.10. So did Hannah the wife of Elcanah, she wept and did eate nothing, but in the bitternesse of heart she prayed to the Lord. The causes of private fasts. This is and hath beene un­dertaken, when a man becommeth an humble and earnest suter for the pardon of some great and grosse sinne, that lyeth heavy upon the conscience. Sometimes for the pre­venting of some sinne, whereunto a man feeleth himselfe to be tempted, Zach. 3.2. 1 Cor. 10.13. that God would rebuke Satan; even that the Lord, who hath promised to assist his children with suffi­cient grace, would rebuke him, and not suffer us to be tem­pted above the strength that he hath given us, but make a way to escape, that we may be able to beare it. Sometimes to obtaine some speciall blessing which we want. Sometimes to turne away some judgment which we feare, or is already fallen upon our selues and our families. Sometimes to sub­due the flesh to the spirit; and such like.

The other sort is the publike Fast, The publike fasts. which is openly com­manded, and publikely practised. Of this the Scripture speaketh evidently in this place, 2 Chro. 20.3. Ezr. 8.21. Ioel 2.15, 16. and oftentimes elsewhere: which is done when a whole congregation or severall con­gregations assemble together to performe the forenamed duties of humiliation, and to remove some publike calami­ty, as the sword, famine, pestilence, inuasion of enemies and such like. 1 But let us consider the reasons in particular. The first is to prevent some heavy and imminent danger threat­ned, [Page 57]as a fire ready to fall upon his people and to consume them. For this cause did Iehoshaphat proclaime a solemne fast, and joyned it with prayer, saying, 2 Chron. 20.12. In us is no strength to stand against this great multitude that commeth against us, neither know we what to doe, but our eyes are upon thee. The second cause is the angry face of God punishing, 2 thereby to remove the present calamity, as warre, famine, plague, and other like fearefull sicknesse or contagious vi­sitation. Thus have we present occasion to humble our selues if ever we had. For if we must seeke the Lord before affliction come, while he sharpneth his arrowes and whet­teth his glittering sword, how much more when the de­stroying Angell is sent among us, and many fall downe on every side? This moved Ioshua and the Elders of Israel, when they saw the wrath of God kindled against them, & the chosen men of Israel smitten down, Iosh. 7.8. & the Canaanites to preuaile against them, to cry out, O Lord, what shall I say, when Israel turneth their backes before their enemies? And when the people were smitten by the children of Benjamin with a greeuous slaughter, they went up and came to the house of the Lord, and wept and sate there before the Lord, Iudg. 20.26. and fasted that day untill the even. 3 The third cause is Gods threatning to destroy for some generall or notorious sins reigning in the land, & crying unto God for vengance. This moved these Ninevites to fast, when Ionah the Prophet cry­ed out against them, Chap. 1.2. because their wickednesse was come be­fore the Lord. This is so urgent a cause, that it prevailed with Ahab, who by the instigation of wicked Iezabel sold himselfe to worke wickednesse; for when he heard the fear­ful threatning denounced against him by the Prophet & a­gainst his house, he rent his garments, put on sackcloth, fasted, 1 King. 21.27. and humbled himselfe, whereby he obtained a respit of the judgement: a temporall reward for a temporal repentance. The fourth cause is the calamity and misery of the neigh­bour Churches lying under the Crosse, 4 Psal. 80.13. when the boare out [Page 58]of the wood doth waste them, and the wild beast of the field devoure them; to witnesse our communion of Saints, and to shew a fellow feeling of their sighes and sorrowes, that they also may doe the like for us. This seemeth to be the cause of the assembly of the Congregation at Antioch, they laboured mightily in praier & fasting for the people of God dispersed among the Gentiles, Act. 13.2.5. and specially for the poore Saints at Ierusalem persecuted through the cruelty of Herod Act. 12. The last cause why the Churches assembled in this manner, was, to crave a blessing from God, when they did enterprize or execute any special work which highly cō ­cerned the church or cōmon wealth. Act. 13.3. When the Church did lay their hands on Paul & Barrabas, they fasted and prayed, & cōmended them to the grace of God, that he would prosper their ministery. These were the reasons of such solemne as­semblies. And are not the same causes found among us? Yes doubtlesse, all of them presse us to the practise of this duty, and call upon us for humiliation to move the Lord to shew mercy in these daies of trouble & heavinesse. Are not dāgers threatned on every side, nay are they not already inflicted upon us? Hath not the Lord a controversie against us for our common sinnes? hath not iniquity the upper hand, and is not godlinesse troden under foot? And as for the miseries and desolations of the neighbouring Churches, are they not in paine like a woman in travaile & bring forth nothing but wind? Psal. 79.1.2.3.4. may we not say, The heathen are come into thine inheritance, thine holy Temple have they defiled, and shed the blood of thy Saints like water; that they are become a reproach to their enimies, a scorne and derision to them that are round about them, who say, where is their God? Lastly, we enterprize great things, how can we looke for a blessing, if we crave it not with fasting and prayer? doubt­lesse this is the cause why we have no better successe in our endeavours, because we trust in our multitudes, munition, pollicies, and seeke not aright the God of heaven.

Let us come to the uses. Ʋse 1 First it reproveth such as hold fasting to be meerly Iudaicall and ceremoniall, a part of the rudiments of the Law, which are shadowes of things to come, and that it hath no use in the times of the Gospel. And true it is, this exercise had in it somewhat ceremonial and proper to the Iewes annexed unto it, as one certaine and fixed day of the yeare, Levit. 16. Levit. 16.29. Zach. 7.5. This shall be a statute for euer unto you, in the seuenth moneth, on the tenth day of the moxeth, ye shall afflict your soules, &c. and it had sundry legal rites and facrifices annexed unto it. But may we not say the like of the Sabbath? is it to be holden wholly ceremoniall, & not to be obserued as moral, because the day is changed, and all the rites abolished together with the strict rest? No doubtlesse, there remaineth a Sabboth and holy day of rest for the people of God to the end of the world, or else re­ligion would soone perish out of the earth. So we may say touching fasting, true it is, we find no setled time in the new Testament appointed and set apart to fast by the ordinance of Christ; neverthelesse, because the causes of fasting re­maine, which we noted before, as great a necessity lyeth upon us, as ever lay upon the Iewes, when the like occa­sions shall be offered unto us, that were offered unto them. Now where the causes of the institution remaine, there the things themselues must continue: but the causes of the in­stitution remaine, therfore fasting it selfe must continue. Be sides, when our Saviour was blamed by the Pharisees Di­sciples & the Disciples of Iohn, because his disciples fasted not, doth he exempt them vtterly from it & discharge them from such practise as impertinent unto them? No doubt­lesse, he only sheweth the unfitnesse of the present time, Math. 9.15. but layeth a commandement upon them to do it afterward, then shall they fast. And they performed it accordingly, Act. 13.

Secondly, it reproveth the Popish fasting, 2 to whom I may say as Paul sometime did to the men of Athens, Act. 17.22. I per­ceive that in all things yee are too superstitious. And indeed [Page 60]here is one mystery of iniquity. The chiefe points of religion remaine in the Church of Rome, howbeit in name onely, not in nature: in shew, not in substance: in appearance, not in truth: I may say therefore of them as Iohn doth to the Angel of the Church in Sardis, I know thy workes, Revel. 3.1. that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. They have the name of Christ, of justification, of the Scripture, of prayer, of faith, of the Sacraments, of repentance: but they have set up a mock-Christ, they have overthrowne his humanity, and destroyed all his Offices: they beleeve justification, but it is by their owne workes: they receive faith, but it is nothing but a beleeving the word to be true, which also the Devils doe: they admit re­pentance, but it is nothing else but penance and corporall chasticement: they acknowledge the Scriptures, but they have patched their Apochryphal additions unto them and their owne Traditions, as unwritten verities, to be of equall authority with them: they use prayer, but it is in an un­knowne tongue: they have the Sacraments, but one of them they have defiled, the other they have destroyed, and turned it into the idolatrous and blasphemous Masse. And herein lyeth the depth of Satan. For if he should utterly have abolished these fundamentall points of religion, and not have broched lyes in hypocrisie, all men would soone have espied the treachery. The like I might say of fasting. What the Popish fast is, What the Popish fast is. I will describe out of their owne writers: It is an abstinence from flesh onely, and the things that come from it, according to the order of the Church, upon set and certaine times appointed to make satisfaction for our sinnes, to merit the grace of Christ, and to obtaine everlasting life. Can light and darknesse be more contrary one to the other, then these things are to the truth? But this I have handled else where; Comment upon Esther. albeit the bare allegation be a sufficient confutation of this vanity.

Lastly, it behoveth us to meet the Lord by prayer and fasting, as the Church in all ages hath usually done in times [Page 61]of dāger. It is the Counsell of the Prophet, when the Lord commeth out as an armed man against his people, to seek reconciliation and attonement with him, Amos. 4.12. This will I doe to thee, O Israel, and because I will doe this unto thee, prepare to meete thy God O Israel. We are not stronger than he, Psal. 24.8. who is the Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battel, Exod. 15.3. as a man of Warre, and therefore we are not able to encounter him. Remember the words of our Saviour, Luk. 14. Luk. 14.31.32. What king going to make warre against another king, sitteth not downe first and consulteth, whether he be able with ten thou­sand, to meet him that commeth against him with twenty thousand? or else, while the other is yet a great way off, hee sendeth an Ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. The Lord is come out already against us, and hath his twen­ty thousand in battel aray, and hath smitten downe many thousands of us. We cannot now say, he is yet a great way off; there is wrath gone out from the Lord, the plague is begunne among the people, Numb. 16.46 and yet who almost layeth it to his heart? Act. 12.20. O that there were that wisedome in us which was in the men of Tyre and Sidon, when they knew that Herod was displeased with them; they came with one ac­cord and desired peace, because their countrey was nourished by the kings country. We know, we feele the Lord is highly displeased with us, and that we have provoked him to anger; why do we then delay the time, and send not out to him an embassage of prayer and repentance, and offer conditions of peace? This we must doe many wayes, first accuse and endite our selues as guilty before him, like poore prisoners standing at the the barre, and holding up our hands. Secondly, Confesse our sinnes, that have procured his heavy displeasure. Thirdly, Let us vow to forsake them: this must evermore be joyned with con­fession, Pro. 28. Fourthly, Give no rest to our own soules, till we be reconciled to God, and restored to his favour againe, and he have called in his judgments against us. [Page 62]Lastly, Eph. 4.22.23. let us leade a new life, cast off the old man, and be re­newed in the spirit of our minde: without this all our mee­tings and assemblies are nothing worth, yea our prayers and fastings are turned into sinne. Neither circumcision avayleth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new crea­ture, old things are passed away, behold all things are made new.

6. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he layd his robe from him, and covered him with sackcloth, and sate in ashes.

Hitherto of the solemne repentance of the Ninevites from the highest to the lowest: now consider the actions of the King both in his owne person, and in his procla­mation. Behold a wicked city turned from her wicked­nesse in the turning of an hand. Ionah no sooner proclai­med destruction, but the King sent out his Proclamation: he no sooner heard of wrath denounced from the throne of God, but he presently arose from his owne throne: when he heard how they had all covered the whole land with their sinnes, he covered himselfe with sackcloth, he laid aside his royall robes, and clad himselfe with re­pentance as with a robe. See then the outward meanes of their repentance, the word of the Prophet. Ionah prea­ched judgment through the City, this could not long be hidden from the King: and hence arose their turning to God. Doct.

This teacheth, Repentance is wrought by the preaching of the word in the hearts of men. that God worketh repentance and the conversion of a sinner by the Preaching of the Word. The author and giver is God, or else we never have it; but the meanes and instrument by which he worketh it, is the ministery of the Word. The Apostle Paul exhor­teth the servant of the Lord to instruct those that oppose themselues, 2 Tim. 2.25. if God peraduenture will give them repentance, to [Page 63]the acknowledging of the truth. Iam. 1.18. An other Apostle confir­meth the same, Of his owne will he begate us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruites of his crea­tures. And we have a third witnesse of another Apostle, We are borne anew, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, 1. Pet. 1.23. by the word of God which liveth and abideth forever.

Reasons. First the word is quicke and livelie, Reason 1 power­full and piercing, sharper than any two edged sword, Heb. 4.12. and entreth even to the dividing asunder of soule and spirit, and of the joynts and marow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the hearts, Heb. 4. Howbeit not from any inhe­rent power in it selfe, nor from the mouth of him that Preacheth it (for he can give it no force, Gal. 2.8. nor set any edge upon it) but from the power of God, as Gal. 2. He that wrought effectually in Peter to the Apostleship of the Circum­cision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles.

Secondly, 2 faith is the fountaine and beginning of re­pentance: but whence have we faith, but by the word, as we have declared already, that Ionah preached, and the Ninevites beleeved? This also the Apostle teacheth, Rom. 10.17. Faith commeth by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. So then these three stand thus in order, the word, faith, and repentance. How shall they heare, saith the same Apostle, and in the same place, without a Preacher? The Ninevites heard Ionah before they beleeved, and they beleeved his preaching before they repented: if they had not heard the Prophet, they had never beleeved; and if they had never beleeved, they had not to turned the Lord. NO man there­fore can be converted, except he have beleeved.

Thirdly, the conversion of a sinner is as I may say, 2 the onely miracle of the Gospell. It is usuall with the Lord to shadow his miracles by outward meanes, Pro. 25.2. that he might conceale his owne workes, as Pro. 25. The glory of God is to conceale a thing secret. Nay in this, many miracles on an heape concurre together. Is it not a miracle in the body to [Page 64]open the eyes of the blind, Math. 10.8. & 11.5. Act. 26.18. 2 Cor. 7.1. Eph. 2.1.5. to restore hearing to the deafe, to raise the dead, to clense the Lepers? The peni­tent person hath received all these in his soule; his eyes are opened, his eares are boared, he is clensed from his filthinesse, and restored to life; for being naturally borne dead in sinnes and trespasses, he is quickned; O how great a change and alteration is this!

But here a question may be asked, Object. whether this be a worke and effect of the Law? are the threatnings thereof able to do it? Answ. or is it a fruit of the Gospell? I answer, the Law helpeth it forward, it cannot worke it, or bring it forth. It prepareth to repentance, but produceth it not, so that the law is not excluded or quite shut out. Rom. 3.20. Gal. 3.24. It ser­ueth to bring us to the knowledge of our sinnes and miseries, and thereby fitteth us to receive grace and mercy, like eating salues that make way for curing medicines, or like the sharpe needle that maketh way for the threed. But it is the Gospell that hath the promise of pardon and for­givenesse, and worketh repentance from dead workes, and therefore it is a fruit of the Gospel. The Law know­eth no remission of sins, but is a letter that condemneth; it promiseth no mercy, but threatneth the curse against the transgressors, Gal. 3.13.

Vse. Ʋse 1 1. This condemneth such as forsake and forget the ordinary way that God hath left to bring us to salua­tion, and gape after miracles, or revelations. This is all one, as if when the Lord heareth the Heauens, and they heare the earth, Hos. 2.21.22. and the earth heareth the corne, and the corne the people, they will not feed thereof as base food, but looke for Manna and bread from heaven: are not such worthy to perish? Hence it is, that Abraham is brought in, Luk. 16.31. answering the rich man that would have the dead sent to his brethren to reclaime them, and bring them to repentance: If they heare not Moses and the Pro­phets, neither will they be perswaded, though one rose from the [Page 65]dead. How vainely then and idlely doe they prattle, who, to disgrace the Ministery of the word, and the high or­dinance of God to teach man by man, alledge, that they know not whether men speake the truth, because all men are lyars, and they are not able to try their doctrine: but if they should heare the Lord himselfe speake or an Angel from heaven, they would beleeve. Iudg. 6.2 [...] & 13.22. Gen. 16.2. Esay. 6.3. These men neither know their owne weakenesse, nor the power of God. Not their owne weakenesse, that are not able to endure the glory of him that speaketh from heaven; nay this was the common voyce of such as heard an Angel, We shall surely dy, alas, because I have seene an Angel of the Lord face to face: not the power of God, because he is infinite, the Angels cover their faces before him, the heavens are not cleane in his sight, the earth trembleth when he sheweth his glory. When the Israelites saw the lightnings and heard the noise of the thunder and sound of the Trumpet waxing lowder and lowder in the mount, Exod. 20.18.19. so that Moses himselfe said, I exceedingly feare and quake: they sayd unto Moses, Speake thou unto us and we will heare: Heb. 12.21. but let not God speake unto us, lest we die: Deut. 5.25.26.28.29. If we heare the voyce of the Lord our God any more, then we shall die: for who is thereof all flesh that hath heard the voyce of the living God and lived? This they spake, and the Lord said, They have well spoken all that they have spoken. O that there were such an heart in them, that they would feare me, and keepe my Commandements alwayes, that it might goe wel with them, and with their Children for ever. If this were wisedome in them to call for Moses to speake to them and not God; what a foolish choise doe they make, that call for God to speake to them, and not Moses? But of this also else where.

Secondly, their case is fearefull and dangerous, that are without the word, there is no vision, and therefore the people must needes perish, Pro. 29.18. There the sheepe are [Page 66]without a sheepheard, See examples, Exod. 32.1. 2 King. 12.2. and none to have compassion upon them, Math. 9.36. Neither is their state any better, who, albeit they are not without it, yet regard it not, but despise it in their hearts. These are both alike, saving that the latter is worser and more fearefull then the for­mer. The one are without the ordinary meanes, the other without the use of the meanes, and therefore without hope to come to repentance. It was a fearefull judge­ment when our Saviour commanded the twelue, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, Math. 10.5. and into any City of the Samaritans enter ye not. And when the Apostles went through the Cities to preach the Gospel, Act. 16.6.7. they were forbid­den by the holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia: and after­ward when they assaied to goe into Bithynia, the Spirit suf­fered them not. Was not this in effect as much as if the Lord had sayd, give them no bread, let them be famished: I will not have these converted, and consequently saved? He that taketh away the meanes of life, it is plaine he would not have that man live. Woe then to all such retchlesse and carelesse persons as set light by this high ordinance of God, that neither have it nor desire it; but doubly wretched are they that despise it, and wish in their hearts to be without it. Can these perswade them­selues they have attained to repentance? What, without the meanes? but such is the necessity of repentance, that without it we must perish for ever. I may therefore say to such as the Apostle doth to the Iewes, Well spake the holy Ghost unto our fathers, Esay. 6.9. Act. 28.26. Go unto this people and say, hearing ye shall heare, and shall not understand: and seeing ye shall see and not perceive; for the heart of this people is waxed grosse, and their eares are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed, least they should see with their eyes, and heare with their eares, and understand with their hearts, and should be converted, and I should heale them.

Thirdly, 3 behold the happy condition of such (if they [Page 67]knew their owne happinesse) to whomsoever God hath vouchsafed the preaching of the Gospell. It is a manifest proofe he hath a people there, whom he would have converted. For as he shewed the Disciples to whom they should not goe, Math. 10.6. Act. 18.9.10. so he sent them to the lost sheepe of the house of Israel. Thus also he spake to Paul. Act. 18. Be not a­fraid, but speake and hold not thy peace, for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee, for I have much people in this City: shewing thereby, that he continued his word among them a long time, because he had much peo­ple there whom he meant to save. So likewise whereso­ever God sendeth his word, and giveth gifts to his Mini­sters in some measure (for who is sufficient for these things?) 2 Cor. 2.16. and a conscience to Preach the word truly, diligently, and faithfully; it is a signe he favoureth and loveth them and will blesse them, that he would have them converted and saved. Not that every one that heareth, beleeveth; The word is sometimes sen [...] for other ends then repen­tance. or that commeth to the word, repenteth of his sinnes; for the word is sometimes sent for other end: first to make them inexcusable, that have the light, yet shut their eyes: that heare the sound, yet stop their eares. Ioh. 15.22. Therefore our Saviour sayd to his hearers, Ioh. 15. If I had not come, and spoken unto them, they had not had sinne: but now they have no cloke for their sinne. Secondly, to harden them, and so to increase their judgement and just condemnation. For it shall goe worse with them than with the Turkes and in­fidels, nay than with Sodome and Gomorrha that were overthrowne with fire and brimstone from heaven. Ezek. 3.6. Hence it is that the Lord saith to the Prophet, Thou art not sent to a people of a strange speech & of an hard language: surely if I had sent thee to them, they would have hearkned: unto thee. And when our Saviour upbraided the Cities wherein most of his mighty workes were done, he shew­eth that if such had beene in Tyre and Sidon, Math. 11.21. they would have repented long agoe in sackcloth and ashes. Thirdly [Page 68]to justifie the Lord, and to shew that he is just and holy in all his wayes, Ezek. 2.5. and that it might appeare, he desireth not the destruction of a sinner, as Ezek. 2. whether they will heare, or whether they will for beare (for they are a rebellious house) they shal know that there hath bin a Prophet among them. But God openeth the hearts & eares of such as he wil con­vert and call effectually. We must acknowledge this mer­cy of God that hath sent his Gospell among us, & walke worthy of this benefit for diverse causes, that we may have comfort in our owne hearts and assurance of our calling thereby, by the holy and sanctified use of the meanes: that we may thereby be provoked to thankful­nesse to Almighty God, who as he raineth upon one field and not upon another, and the place whereupon it rained not withered away, so he causeth the Gospell to be prea­ched upon one place and not upon another, and where it was not preached, they perished: that we may leave it as a Iewel to our posterity, which doubtlesse will be the best portion and possession we can conveigh to them: and that it be not removed and taken away from us and given to a nation that will bring forth the fruits thereof, better fruits than we have done.

Lastly, 4 let us submit our selues to the word, and regard it as Gods word, otherwise it will never worke in us true conversion. Iam. 1.19. The Apostle S. Iames brancheth out this point into three duties, Chap. 1. My beloved brethren, let every man be swift to heare, slow to speake, slow to wrath. Swift to heare, that is, take all occasions and opportunities, that we may entertaine and embrace the truth. Slow to speake against the truth delivered and preached unto us, slow to crosse and contradict it, to resist it and reason a­gainst it. Slow to wrath, that is, not to be ready to be of­fended, nor easily provoked, when our sinnes are re­prooved. But for the most part it goeth quite contrary with us, we are slow to heare, dull to hearken: swift to [Page 69]speake against the truth, and soone mooved to wrath a­gainst such as are the teachers. Touching the first, It is our duty to be swift to heare. we must learne to take all occasions to heare the word, and to attend unto it in season and out of season. This is requi­red of the Minister to take all occasions, 2 Tim. 4.2. Eccl. 11.6. in season and out of season to be instant in preaching the Gospell, as Eccl. 11. In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening let not thine hand rest, for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be a like good. We must be faithful in our places, & as we love the great Sheepheard, so we should feed his sheepe; we know not what time it may please the Lord to give them repentance to come out of the snare of Satan, of whom they are taken captive. Let us then sow morning and evening; and let the people have the earely and the latter raine. Be it we have here no good successe, we shall find a reward else where. Only let us doe our duty, and watch all occasions to doe good, leaving the successe to God. So must it be with the hea­rers, they must take all occasions to heare the word, to learne it, to understand it, to receive it, and to practise it: and wherefore? Ioh. 15.1. because we know not at what time the husbandman will make the seed of the word to grow and fructifie in our hearts. Wherefore they are to be repro­ved that accuse the Lord of hard dealing (like the evill servant in the Gospell, when the fault was in himselfe) and lay all the blame upon him that they are not conver­ted, saying, Quest. How can I beleeve except the Lord give me faith? or how can I attaine to repentance, except he give me to repent? doe you not teach, it is God must worke in us both the will and the deed at his good pleasure? why then am I blamed for not beleeving and for not re­penting? and why am I stirred up to beleeve the Gospell and to turn to the Lord, seeing they are not in my power, and seeing he giveth me neither the one nor the other? I may as well be stirred up and moved to stirre and re­move [Page 70]a mountaine. Answ. I answer out of Ecclesiastes before re­hearsed; the sower must sow his seed in the morning and in the evening; so they that are hearers must heare in the morning and hearken in the evening; and the rather, be­cause they know not whether this or that shall prosper, and bring forth fruit unto repentance and salvation. Will we not cease or give over to plow our land, but till it in the morning and afternoone; and shall we not thinke the furrowes of our hearts have as much need to be striken? Hath the earth need of the earely and latter raine, and are not we as barren and dry, wanting the morning and eve­ning shewres to make our soules fruitfull? It may well be, when we pursued and sought after with greedinesse our worldly businesse or our carnall pleasures; if we had followed the calling of God, and waited at the postes of his house, if we had beene as carefull and eager to heare, as we are foolish and madde to follow our vanities, we might have obtained and receiued faith and repentance long agoe. Shall we then be so Prophane as to bring the Lord to dance our attendance, and to give us his grace when we our selues list, and to bestow it upon us at our leysure and pleasure? In all worldly businesse we know we must take opportunity while it is offered: we can say that tide and time tarryeth no man, and that happily we may never have the same occasion offered us againe: why then are we not as wise for spirituall and heavenly things, as we are for earthly? and for the life to come as for this present life? Remember this, if we remem­ber nothing else, that Iacob obtained the blessing while Esau was in hunting, Gen. 27. So might we happily ob­taine faith and repentance, while we are hunting after our pleasures, or profits, and while we sit idle, or lye slee­ping in our houses, or worse occupied than thus, and will not vouchsafe to come and hearken unto his word. Never therefore wickedly accuse the Lord for not giving to [Page 71]thee the graces of faith and repentance; but come home and enter into thy selfe, and learne to accuse thine owne wicked and prophane heart, who doest not so much as thou hast in thine owne power, to wit, to come to the house of God, and to heare and attend. Let us doe these things diligently, and we may looke for his blessing, Math. 13.12. for whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance. Besides, God is bound to no man, the winde bloweth freely where it list, and may he not doe with his owne as pleaseth him? or who can complaine against him? True it is, God is able to convert us, and to give us to beleeve without the meanes of his word, because he is not tyed thereunto; but he hath tyed us, and left us no other way, Luk. 16.29.31. 1 Cor. 1.21. Rom. 10.14. He will by the preaching of the word save them that beleeve, 1 Cor. 1.21. and how shall they heare without a Preacher? Rom. 10. The Lord fed Israel his people with quailes in the wildernesse, and gave them bread from heaven; but when he had brought them into Canaan, a land flowing with milke and honey, where they had corne and haruest in due season, the Manna ceased, Iosh. 5.12. he fed them no longer from heaven.; So then this is the first point we must marke and practise, we must be swft to heare with reverence, with Conscience, and with dili­gence, & use all the meanes we can to attaine to regenera­tion. Touching the second point, It is our duty to be slow to speake. as we must be swift to heare, so we must be slow to speake, not slow or backward to speake of the word, to conferre one with another, and to sit and reason of the wayes of the Lord; but slow to speak against it, to quarrell with it, to gainesay it, & resist it, as the manner of many is, who have dul eares, but nim­ble tongues; they are slow to heare, but quicke to speake, and reject what they have heard, quite contrary to the Apostles commandement. These men will question of­tentimes with their companions as carnall as themselues, but seldome or never will once conferre with the Mini­ster, [Page 72]who is most able to resolve them, and most willing to instruct them; which argueth they are possessed with a spirit of contradiction, & have no desire to be instructed. The third point is slow to wrath; It is our duty to be slow to wrath. and to be offended when we heare our speciall sinnes touched, and our corruptions ripped up to the quicke. These are like the hearers of Stephen, Act. 7.54.57.58. Act. 7. when they heard somewhat that pleased them not, their hearts brast with anger, and they guashed upon him with their teeth, they cryed out with a loud voyce, stopped their eares, and ranne upon him with one accord. Our hearers happly will not use these gestures, but they will practise worse; they will laugh at us, and that not closely in their sleeves, as we say, but openly in our faces: an evident argument of the contempt not of our persons so much as of the word of God it selfe. Gal. 4.16. But what? are we therefore become your enemies, because we tell you the truth? These never came to any degree of repentance or regenetation: Iam. 1.20. for the wrath of man cannot accomplish the righteousnes of God, Iā. 1. He that will reprove others with fruit, must ree his minde from fury and hastinesse; so must hearers likewise, if they will heare with profit. For as surgeons, Chrysost. ad­vers. Gentes. that goe about to cut off rotten members, do not fill themselues with anger or choler when they goe about their cure, but then specially endeavour to quiet their mindes from such unruly passions, least happly such distemper might hinder their art: so should reproovers be free from wrath, least it should hinder them from doing that good which otherwise they might doe. In like manner such as are hearers and reprooved, that it may be as a pre­cious oyle that shall not breake their head, Psal. 141.5. when they come into the house of God to heare his word which is able to save their soules, must lay aside all filthinesse & superfluity of naughtinesse, and put on the spirit of meekenesse to re­ceive the word ingrafted in us: neiter must be offended at the word it selfe, when it speaks not as they would have it.

Word came to the King, he rose from his throne, &c.) All these gestures of the King, he rose, he layd aside, he cove­red, he sate downe in ashes, doe declare his forwardnesse, and all of them are amplified by the circumstance of time, so soone as the word of God preached by Ionah came unto him. This teacheth us, that repentance must be present & speedy, Doct. without delay or prolonging of the time from one day to an other. Repentance must be speedy For if the King and the rest of the Ninevites had done so, they had beene utterly over­throwne for not repenting. The Prophet exhorteth to heare the voyce of the Lord, while it is called to day, Psal. Psal. 95.7. Heb. 3.13. and 4.7. Esay. 55.6. 95. and the Apostle, exhort one another daily, while it is called to day, lest any of you be hardned through the deceitfulnesse of sinne. Heb. 3. Hereunto tendeth the precept, Seeke the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is neere, Esay. 55.

And no marveill. For first, Reason 1 the deferring and delaying of repentance is an argument of great folly, heaping up the greater measure of sinne, and drawing a farther degree of judgment, Math. 23.32.34.35. Rom. 2.5.6. making our selues two-fold more the chil­dren of hell, as Math. 23.32.34.35. and Rom. 2.5.6. This delaying is no better then a dallying with God, and either repentance followeth in the end, or we never repent at all. If repentance doe ever follow and be at the last per­formed, which is the best we can jmagine, it will breed more matter of bitter sorrow and anguish that we have beene so simple or so senslesse. If it follow not, what can we be but sonnes of perdition as Iudas was? and as we have filled up the measure of our sinnes, so we bring upon our owne heads the fulnesse and fiercenesse of his judg­ments.

Secondly, 2 we may be deprived of the meanes of our Saluation for ever by procrastination, and deferring of this waighty worke, I meane of the word, by which we heard before, that God usually and ordinarily worketh this gift. For we see the word continueth not alwayes [Page 74]in one place or among one people, but is translated from Parish to Parish, nay from Kingdome to Kingdome, from one nation to an other people, as God oftentimes threat­neth both Iewes and Gentiles, Math. 21.43. Rom. 11.20.21 22.

Thirdly, 3 the longer it is differred, the harder it is practi­sed, and the sooner we are hardned: & that for two causes, first because God in iudgment withdraweth his grace by little and little, so that he which is not fit to day, shal find himself lesse fit to morrow, and every day lesse then other. And wherfore? because whosoever hath not the care to stir up the gift that is in him, Math. 13.12. from him shall be taken away even that that he hath. Secondly, because sinne taketh the deeper roote, the longer the tree groweth, the root is deeper, and spreadeth further, so that it will be the more hardly transplanted and removed, Ier. 13.23. as Ier. 13. Can the Ethio­pian change his skin? or the Leopard his spots? then may ye al­so doe good that are accustomed to doe evill.

This reproveth first of all the corruption of such as live in the continuall sound of the word, Ʋse; 1 and often heare out of it the absolute necessity of this duty of repen­tance, and yet prolong the practise thereof; who are not so wise in their generation, Luk. 16.8. as the Children of this world. Such are they that will leave sinne, when the weaknesse of age, the infirmities of sicknesse, and the approching of death do hinder them from following the same. In this case we may thanke, not them, but their want of strength to pursue after the same. For what thank is it, to renounce the world, when we are leaving it, and weary of it? then sinne leaveth us, The dangers of procrastina­tion. rather than we sinne. Let us therefore consider the dangers of Procrastination: First Satan is most hardly cast out, when he hath a long time kept pos­session. We see this in the man that was possessed of a child by a dumbe spirit, how hardly was he removed and dispossed? the Disciples, when they saw him foming and [Page 75]gnashing with his teeth, could doe nothing: and when our Saviour rebuked him and charged him to come out, the spirit cryed and rent him sore, and he was as one dead, Mar. 9.26. in so much that many sayd, he is dead. When a man hath had long possession of an house, and can prescribe for many yeares, will he easily let goe his hold, and suffer himselfe to be disentred? so it is with sinne, when it hath long dwelt in the heart, like a man in his house, it is hardly cast out. Nay, we our selues grow unwilling to leave the pleasures of sinne, by continuance in the chaines and snares of Satan, as it was with the bond-servant, that said plainly, I love my Master, I will not goe out free, Exod. 21.5. & so serueth him for ever: so when we grow in love with sinne and have served it long as our Master, we regard not to be free, but desire to be kept in bondage for ever. 2 Secondly sinne and the strength of it by continuance is encreased, because it bringeth more waight to the burden, one sinne bringeth in a second, and a second a third, that a com­pany followeth. Thirdly, 3 old age and sicknesse will be must unfit for this businesse of repentance, Eccles. 12.5. and a burden too hard to be borne, when the Grassehopper wil be a burden. When we are hardly able to put off or on our apparrell, how shall we put off sinne, and put on righteousnesse? Fourthly, 4 we may be deprived of the meanes whereby it should be wrought in us; and if the word were not effectuall to convert us, while he had it and heard it, alas what hope can we have to be turned to God without this, when we have it not? Fiftly, 5 If the meanes be not taken from us, yet the threed of life may be cut off. For life is uncertaine; Iam. 4.14. Psal. 90.9.6.12. it is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away, or we spend our yeares as a tale that is told; in the morning it florisheth, and groweth up, in the evening it is cut downe: and therefore we may be called hence suddainly, to teach us to learne so to number our dayes, that we may apply our hearts [Page 76]unto wisedome. 6 Lastly, we may have such hardnesse of heart, having our consciences seared with an hote yron, that we may have our understandings darkned, and our hearts so blinded, that we shall be past feeling, and cannot find repentance, though we sought it with teares, as Esau did. This is a deepe, yet just judg­ment of God, that they who have had deafe eares to God in their health, should be made deafe by him; that they shall heare no word of comfort: and striken dumbe by him, that they shall not be able to speake to him, or if they open their mouthes, he will not heare them when they call upon him.

Secondly, 2 learne to further our selues in the speedy practise of this duty, Gen. 19.17. and observe the Counsell of the Angel to Lot, Escape for thy life, looke not behind thee, nei­ther stay thou in all the plaine, least thou be consumed. Let us make the present day, 2 Cor. 6.2. the day of our repentance; now is the accepted time, now is the day of Salvation. He giveth no man liberty untill the morrow. The wise man saith, Boast not thy selfe of to morrow, for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth. We may not say to our poore neighbour that is like to our selues, Pro. 3.28. Goe, and come again, and to morrow I will give: and shall we dare make such a sleevelesse answer to the eternall God, Reuel. 3.20. Gant. 5.2. when he standeth at the doore and knocketh, that we should open unto him, Goe thy way, and come againe hereafter, I am not now at leisure? And may we not say to such loyterers, as our Saviour doth to such as he sent to labour in his vineyard, Why stand yee here all the day idle? Especially considering that we have sundry motives to stirre us up not to delay the time, seing we know not what shall be on the morrow, Iam. 4.14. First, it is a just thing with God to contemne that man dying, that despised him living. He that calleth not upon God in his prosperity, will God heare his cry, Iob. 27.9. when trouble commeth upon him▪ [Page 77]The best way to kil a Serpent is to bruise his head, and when it is young: so the safest and surest way to withstand sinne and Satan will be in the beginning, not the latter and of our dayes; in health, not in sicknesse; in life, not in death; betimes, not when it is too late. See this in the foolish Virgins, that lingred their time of repentance: but when the season was past, they cryed againe and againe, Lord, Math. 25.11.12. Lord, open unto us: And what answer did they receive? Ʋerily, I say unto you, I know you not: Luk. 13.24. verifying the saying of our Saviour, Many, I say unto you, will strive to enter in, and shall not be able, because doubtlesse they strive when it is too late. Secondly, we must looke for a time when there will be judgement without mercy; now is the time of mercy without iudgment. Now are the dayes of grace, now is the time of turning and repenting; when this time is gone and past, there will come a day of blacknesse and utter darknesse, when there is no place, nor time of turning. For as the day of death taketh us, the day fo judgment shal find us, as we see in Caine, Esau, Iudas, the rich man in the Gospell, and such like. Thirdly, the houre of death, to which the greatest sort post over their repentance, hath many hindrances accompanying it, that the sicke man can­not freely thinke of the state of his soule, neither call to remembrance his sinnes that he hath committed.

Lastly, 3 beware of all lettes and impediments which as so many stumbling blockes lye in the way, and keepe us from repentance. Never was there good worke to be done, but it hath found many oppositions. Satan standeth at our right hand ready to catch hold of us, The manifold impediments of true repen­tance. when he seeth us sliding from him, and resolued to leave sinne. As then they that were bidden and called to the feast, had all of them their excuses, so such as are stirred up to repentance, make not that hast which they ought, but are wise to their own hurt, and become the greatest enemies to their owne soules. Let us therefore see their reasons, or rather pretences which [Page 78]they use to hinder their returne into the right way. First they alledge that repentance is full of difficulty, a way hedged with thornes, hard and painfull. Be it so; the harder the worke is, the more excellent it is. But what is the hard­nesse of the worke in respect of the greatnesse of the wages and reward? Besides, this yoke of Christ is easie and this burden is light, because the often practise thereof will make it so familiar unto us, that we shall take pleasure and de­light in it, because we shall have God to put under his hand and assist us in the practise thereof; because such vertue proceedeth from the death of Christ, Rom. 6.6. that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sinne might be de­stroyed, that henceforth we should not serue sinne; and we have him after a sort to draw in the yoke with us: and be­cause God powreth sweet and secret consolation into the hearts of such as resolve to turne to him, whereby they find that peace of Conscience which passeth all understan­ding. 2 Another impediment is presumption of Gods mercy, and a foolish and ungrounded perswasion that God will accept of them whensoever they returne to him. True it is, we have many precious promises of grace and mercy, in holy Scripture, Ezek. 18.32. & 33.11. Psal. 103. 1 Tim. 2.4. But these men do abuse them, and build upon a weake foundation: they dreame of a God made all of mercy, and forget his justice, which is to set up an Idoll in their hearts: they dwell so much upon the promises of the Gospell, that they cast from them the curses of the law. These are like to the Spider that gathereth poyson out of the sweetest flowers. The goodnesse of God is published and Pro­claimed so often for the comfort of the weake, not for the encouragement of the wicked; to raise up the penitent, not to hearten or harden the obstinate: it is bread for the Children to eate, not for dogges to devoure. To conclude, Nah. 1.3. let us remember that as the Lord is slow to anger, so he is great in power, and wil not surely cleere the wicked.

The third impediment is contrary to the former, 3 and that is despaire of Gods mercy. The former hoped too much, this sort hopeth too little, and both of them with­out cause. This possessed the heart of Caine, despairing of Gods goodnesse, as if it were lesse than his sinnes. Thus also Iudas perished, who saw his sinne in the glasse of the Law, but could not lay hold on Gods mercy, and therefore died without hope, Sathan hath two deceitfull glasses. and brast asunder through despaire. Thus doth Satan shew forth two false glasses to deceive the sight of sinners: before sinne is committed, he sheweth them his mercies greater than they are, and his justice lesse than it is: but after the committing thereof, he maketh his mercies to appeare lesser, and his justice greater than indeed it is. But he is a lyar from the beginning, and the father of lies, trust him not, be­leeve him not; the contrary to that which he speaketh is commonly true. God hath mercy in store for all that doe repent from the bottome of their hearts, Ezek. 18.21.22. and hath pro­mised to put all their sinnes out of his remembrance. To deny the infinitenesse of his mercy is to deny him to be God. Remember the examples of old, how he hath dealt with penitent sinners, with Rahab the harlot, with Manasses the King, with Peter that denyed him, with Paul that persecuted him, with such as crucified the Son of God and delivered him into the hands of murtherers; Luk. 7.38. with that woman which washed the feete of Christ with teares, and wiped them with the haires of her head. To conclude, let us call to minde the description of the name and nature of God, The Lord the Lord, strong, mercifull and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in truth, Exod. 33.6.7.reserving mercy for thousands, for giving iniquity, transgression and sinnes. The next impediment is the cares of this life, 4 and the deceitfulnesse of riches, & the pleasures of this world. These are dangerous snares and baites of Satan where­with he hunteth after the soules of men, and catcheth [Page 80]them as fishes are with an hooke, Luk. 14.17. Math. 13.22. Luk. 12.19. 2 Tim. 4.10. and as corne is choked with thornes, Luk. 8. For as full hands are able to hold and re­ceive nothing, no not the purest gold when they are full of earth or clay before, so it is with our hearts, when they are forestalled and fore-possessed with the world, they cannot recive the least measure of grace. Let us therefore set before us evermore the Counsell and Com­mandement of our Saviour, Math. 6.33. 1 Tim. 4.8. & 6.17. First seeke the kingdome of God and the righteousnesse thereof, and all these things shall be ministred unto you. 5 An other impediment is the quiet and peaceable end of obstinate sinners, who hauing led a wicked and wretched life, yet in outward appearance to the eye have died peaceably, and as it is judged, very hap­pily. From hence they encourage thēselues in doing evill, to go on in their sins & so keep thēselues from repentance. These are diligent observers for their owne endes, how the vngodly oftentimes go away like Lambes & there are no bandes in their death, and on the other side, how such as have repented have unquiet endes and much discom­fort at their death; and so by them both are kept from making hast to turne to God. But we must learne and consider it well, that the quiet endes of wicked men proceed partly from the secret justice of God, partly from the cunning subtilty of Satan, and partly from their owne corruption: so to blind their eyes and harden their hearts, that they imagine as men in a dreame, that they stand in good state, and are as well the children of God, as they that have never so much repented. Thus God sendeth them strong delusions, least they should be con­verted and be saved, Esay 6.10. Whereas all outward things fall out alike to the righteous and to the wicked, to the cleane and to the uncleane, to the good and to the sinner, Eccl. 9.2.

He arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and [Page 81]covered &c.) The next point to be considered is the begin­ning of this wonderfull conuersion from the highest to the lowest. The beginning was from the King himselfe, Ier. 13.18. and from him proceeded to the people. As the head giveth life to the rest of the members, and one wheele giveth motion unto others: so the action and forwardnesse of the King, Doct. as the head of the common wealth, Great men should be for­wardest in all godlinesse and be examples to others of lower places. stirred up all the people to fasting and prayer by his example. Hereby we learne that superiours & men of high place must by their practise give good example to others. It behoveth them whom God hath placed in authority, and lifted up their heads above their brethren, to give good example to others, and goe in and out before them in that which is good and holy. The more high, worthy, and excellent their calling is, the more zealous and forward they should be in Godlinesse, and thankfulnesse to him that hath exalted them. The Pro­phet Ioel beginneth first with the Elders or Ancients, and from them descendeth to all the inhabitants of the land, when he exhorteth all persons to repentance. Ioel. 1.2. Hag. 1.1. & 2.2.21. This we see in the Prophet Haggai, he beginneth with Zerubbabel the gover­nour, and then with the people. The cause why the Gospel so much florished and prospered in Thessalonica is rendred, because the cheefe men were most forward, and received the word with all readinesse of mind, Act. 17. Act. 17.11.

And there is great cause why it should be so. Reason 1 For first they may more easily draw on others to the best things by their good example, as by their evill example they do draw backe others, so that they offend doubly, by their sinne and by their example. So Ieroboam set up Idolatry, and thereby made Israel to sinne. Lips. in polit. For as we have light or darkenesse from the Sunne, so we have vice or vertue from superiors. And as the high and tall Cedars of Libanus, while they stand fast well rooted in the earth, are a shield and de­fence to the lower shrubbes that are underneath them: but if they fall downe they beare downe all that are within [Page 82]their reach: so su [...]ch as are of higher estate and calling, so long as they continue firme in the feare of God, and in the wayes of godlinesse, are as notable proppes and pillars to such as cast their eyes upon them, and great meanes to draw on others by their authority and example: but when once they fall away and give themselues to wicked wayes, they walke not in that way alone, but are an occasion of falling to many others by their followers and inferiors. Secondly, 2 it is well knowne by daily experience, that such as are under others are led more by examples than by edictes, and looke upon the lives of superiors rather than upon their Lawes. Claudian. Componttur orbis regis ad exem­plum, &c. True it is, we should live by the pre­cepts of God, rather than by the practises of men: but for the most part we see it otherwise. Hence it is, that Salo­mon saith, Pro. 29.12. If a ruler hearken to lies, all his ser­vants are wicked.

Thirdly, 3 superiours must give an account of their govern­ment to God, who is the great master and commander in heaven and earth, of whom they have received their place and power (for promotion commeth neither from the East, Psal. 75.6.7. nor from the West, but God putteth downe one and setteth up another) and he will streightly enquire not only how just and civill, Ezek. 18.4. 1 Sam. 2.13. but how holy and religious their gouer­ment hath beene. True it is, the soule that sinneth shall die the death, yet their blood shall be required at the hands of all them that have not done their duty to bring them to God, but beene a meanes to draw them and drive them from God.

Fourthly, 4 if such as be superiours, and have jurisdiction to prescribe rules to others, be not brought to a conscience of their owne duties in the first place, they might by the abuse of their authority frustrate and make void all the good care & conscience that might happily be begun in their children & servants, by urging & commanding them to do otherwise, than [...]he law of God and their own consciences would per­mit them.

First of all, Ʋse 1 this reprooveth such as being unmindfull of their high calling, unmindfull that the Lord bringeth low and lifteth up, 1 Sam. 2.7. unmindfull that he maketh them inherit the throne of Glory, unmindfull that they are as a City set upon an hill to be seene a farre off, and un­mindfull of the great account which they are to make at the great day of account (for to whom much is given, of him the more shall be required) do give themselues over to all manner of evill, as if their authority were a privi­ledge or sanctuary for impiety, and thereby draw others into the same excesse of riot, untill both they and their followers perish, as it is noted of Theudas and Iudas, Act. 5.36.37. who drew away much people after them, but they were de­stroyed, and such as obeyed them brought to nought. We see by common experience that the infection and contagion of sinne creepeth clos [...]ly, and proceedeth som­times from the lowest to the highest, as it were from the foote to the head: how much more easily and strongly from the highest to the lowest, as it were from the head to the foot? We see sometime sinne spreadeth from the wife to the husband, 1 King 11.3. 1 King. 11.3. Solomons outlandsh women witnesse this truth: for in his old age he fell to Idolatry through entisement of his wiues that drew away his heart Ahab is sayd to doe evill in the sight of the Lord: what was the cause? 1 King. 16.30.31. as if it had beene a light thing to walke in the sinnes of Iehoram, he tooke to wife lezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians. But what fol­lowed? he went and serued Baal, and worshipped him. The like I might say of Ietroram, he walked in the way of the Kings of Israel, that is, in evill wayes, for bad was the best of them: and what was the reason? The daughter of Ahab was his wife, and he did evill in the sight of the Lord. 2 King. 8.18. Sometimes sinne ascendeth from the Counsellers to the King, as well as from the wife to the husband; as 1 King. 12. for Rehoboam, following the aduise of the young men, [Page 84]answered the people roughly and rigourously: 1 King. 12.20 & 11.13. but what fol­lowed? the revolting of the rest of the tribes, so that there was none that followed the house of David but the tribe of Iudah onely. The like we reade, 1 Chro. 19.3.4. Sometimes likewise it ascendeth from the children to the fathers, Gea. 13.7.8. yea from the seruants to their Masters, who make them of bad to be much worse. Thus it common­ly falleth out, howbeit then the waters runne as it were against the streame. But much more doth sinne prevaile, when the waters runne with the streame, and heavy things fall downeward, when from men of higher places it rowleth upon such as stand in lower ground. For they draw their inferiours by their countenance, they allure them by their rewardes, they discourage them by their threatnings, they terrifie them by their punishments, they embolden them by their connivence, they charge and command them by their authority.

Secondly, 2 it teacheth all superiours to looke to them­selues, and as it concerneth all in generall, so especially them to let their light so shine before men, that they may see their good workes, and glorifie their Father which is in Heaven. For as shewres of raine fall soon and suddainly from the mountaines to the vallies, from the house top to the earth, from the higher places to the lower, Psal. 133.2.3. as Psal. 133. Like the precious oyntment upon the head, that ranne downe upon the beard, even Aarons beard, that went downe to the skirts of his garments: as the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the Mountaines of Sion: so when once God hath rained the sweet shewres of his word, Deut. 32.2. when his doctrine hath dropped as the raine, and his speach distilled as the dew upon the hearts of such as are in eminent places, the fruit hereof is communicated quickly to such as stand beneath and abide in an inferiour condicion, who looke upon such as are set above them, as the eyes of seruants looke unto the hands of their [Page 85]Masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the ha [...]ds of her Mistresse. We are charged all to xhort and admonish one another, and to be helpers to the faith one of an other; but a double charge lyeth upon the heads of all Heads and Superiours, to stirre them up that are under them by word and by example. As Abimelech taking an axe in his hand and cutting downe a bough, tooke it and laid it on his shoulders, and said unto the people, Iudg. 9.48. & 7.17. What ye have seene me do, make haste and do as I have done, Iudge. 9. and as Gideon the Captaine of the Lords host, dividing his men into companies, said unto them, Looke on me, and do like­wise; and behold when I come to the side of the campe, it shall be that as I doe, so shall yee doe: So the forwardnesse of great men ought to be such, as they should call others by their example, and say, looke upon me, make haste & doe as I have done, as ye have seene me to doe. Thus they ought to perswade themselues, that either by their Godlinesse they are meanes to bring others to God, or by their evill they are meanes to drive them from him. A good medi­tation for all Superiours. O that this were throughly ingrafted in the hearts of all the rulers of this world, that upon this ground they would thus reason with themselues, Is it true that I have a share and portion in the actions of every one under my jurisdiction, either in his goodnesse or wickednesse? then surely I have great neede to looke narrowly into mine owne wayes, to be a patterne and president of god­linesse unto others. Thus should the Minister, that hath charge of mens soules, and must give an account for them to the great sheepheard of the sheepe, reason with himselfe: thus also ought the Master of the family, the father of children, and generally all superiors to reason with themselues and so make good use of this duty. But alas, we see every where the contrary practise! for every man almost looketh upon the pleasure and case, the gaine and profit that may be gotten in his calling, and followeth [Page 86]after them with greedinesse, never considering what of­fence they give to God and man, neither regarding what multitudes of soules they draw after them to hell.

Lastly, 3 let inferiours be provoked by the good exam­ples of their superiours to follow them in godlinesse, and to be stirred up to walke in their wayes. 1 This precept hath many branches, and teacheth us sundry points, first that they are doubly guilty of sinne, who having good examples are evill followers, and having good rulers to go in and out before them to leade them the right way, 2 will not walke after them in their footsteps. If they had none to guide them in the course of godlinesse, they could not be excused; but when they have good gover­nours, and will not be informed by them, they have no cloke nor colour for their sinne. So then this is the second rule, that they must not thinke themselues dis­charged and acquitted when evill Superiours walke be­fore them in all loosenesse and licentiousnesse, no though they can pretend, they have been exhorted, admonished, perswaded, counselled, or commanded; for the leaders and they that are led shall perish together. 3 Thirdly, it is the duty of all as are under the authority of others to make prayers, 1 Tim. 2.1.2. supplications, intercessions and giving of thankes for all that are in authority, that under them we may leade a quiet and peaceable life in all godli­nesse and honesty. Ier. 29.7. So the Prophet chargeth the Captives of the people, Ier. 29.7. Seeke the peace of the City, whi­ther I have caused you to be carried away Captives, and pray unto the Lord for it, for in the peace thereof shall yee have peace. 4 Fourthly, it is their duty that are seruants to make wise choise of their Masters and Governours, where they may be soberly gouerned, and godlily in­structed. But what do such for the most part hunt af­ter? and under what roofe will they rest? Doubtlesse in their choise they regard nothing, they ayme after no­thing, [Page 87]but where they may serve for greatest wages, where they may make most gaine, profit, and worldly commodity; where they finde most liberty, and where they may speake as they list, doe as they list, and live as they list. Nay they affect and preferre above all other the houses of prophane persons, where themselues may live as prophanely also, without feare of God, or man, and without checke and controlment, that it may be said, like master, like seruant; which notwithstanding is the common, but corrupt custome of the common sort, who have more care to provide for the body, than for the soule. But they have chosen the better part, who are carried with a desire and love of godlinesse, where they may learne the best things that shall not be taken from them, remembring that, 1 Tim. 6.6. 1 Tim. 6.6. Godlinesse is greate gaine, if a man be content with that he hath. True it is, there may be one Lot in Sodome, one Ioseph in Pha­raohs house, one Rahab in Iericho, one Paul in the ship, and one Obadiah in Ahabs Court, but this is very rare, and falleth out seldome. For where the heads of the family be prophane, what shall ye see in the rest of the household, but Prophanenesse, Worldlinesse, Wanton­nesse, Drunkennesse, brawling and contention? Where they be lukewarme, it may be observed that their chil­dren and seruants (for the most part) that attend upon them are Neuters, neither fish nor flesh, neither hote nor cold; such care not which end goe forward: where they be faithfull and zealous, zeale will oftentimes be found in the lowest seruant, that looketh to the doore, Act. 12.5.14. as we see in Rhoda, who reioyced to heare Peters voyce and was glad to carry that newes, when he was brought out of prison, for whom prayer had beene made by the Church without ceasing, to God.

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7 And he caused it to be Proclaimed and published through Nineveh (by the decree of the King and his Nobles) saying, Let neither man nor beast, heard nor flocke, tast any thing: let them not feede nor drinke water.

8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turne every one from his evill way, and from the violence that is in their hands.

The example and precedency of the King hath beene considered in the former verse. His repentance was the repentance of all the rest, and his humiliation was the laying of the threatning to heart by all the rest: For they followed his example, and he knew that repentance was the only meanes to appease the wrath of God. Now touching the Kings edict, he consulteth with his Coun­cell or Nobles, & joyntly together they publish a decree; the summe whereof is, that there should be fasting and prayer, 1 King. 12.6. 2 Sam. 16.23. declared by the reason vers. 9. Who can tell if God will turne from his fierce wrath, that we perish not? Here are sundry points offered, that might be handled, that the King had his Councell, without whose advise & direction he would do nothing. This hath ever beene the man­ner of Princes, to have their wise Councell about them, in regard of the waightinesse of their charge. Two eyes see more then one, and two eares heare more then one. In this respect Solomon teacheth, that two are better then one, and so have a greater fruit of their labours. Besides, the dangers are greater, if they erre and goe astray, their errors are oftentimes irrevocable, and had I wist com­meth too late. But because this better fitteth another place, I will passe it ouer. And touching fasting it selfe, I have spoken of it before, and therefore I passe that also. [Page 89]Onely it may seeme strange that the commandement runneth indifferently to man and beast, that they must be covered with sackcloth and fast, and that man and beast must cry mightily unto God. For some may say, (seeing these things may seeme strange) what have beasts to doe with repenting and turning to God? have they, or can they sinne? The good Angels, the Devils, the beastes cannot repent. Why the bruit beastes are commanded to fast. The elect Angels neede it not, the Devils cannot, the beastes are not capable of it. This then was not commanded for the beasts sake, but to stirre up the Ninevites themselues the more, when they should heare the crying of children, the neyghing of horses, the lowing of bullockes, the bleating of sheep, all making lamentation, and all sending up their cries to heaven, themselues might be provoked to double their owne mourning who were the causes of all the o­ther. The common danger it selfe might seeme all-suffi­cient to provoke the people to this humiliation: but besides this, they had the example of the King and his Councell, the force of an edict or proclamation, yea the very sight and hearing of the beasts put them in minde of their duty. Doct. We must use all occasions to stirre up our selues to repen­tance. Thus they must take all occasions to stirre up themselues to turne every one from his evill wayes. This teacheth, that we have all neede to use all meanes and take all occasions to stirre up our selues and one another to repentance and amendment of life: and all little enough, yea too little. Hereunto come the many warnings and jnvitations to godlinesse found every where in the word of God, as do charger us to remem­ber, to take heed, to come, to looke to our selues, and such like, Deut. 4.23. Luk. 11.34. Psal. 34.11. And no marueil.

For we have neede to be often put in remembrance of our duties Exod. 20.8. Deut. 9.7. Eccl. 12.1. 1 Tim. Reason 1 1.15 & 3.1. & 4.9. & 6.17. & 2 Tim. 4.1. What meane these [Page 90]so often caveats and Commandements, but to teach us that we have great neede to be stirred up to all good things?

Secondly, 2 we are very dull and untoward to all good things. To evill we neede no teacher nor instructer, nor inciter, we are forward enough and too forward: but to good, we are backward and have neede of spurres. We are by nature slacke and untoward to that is good. Hence it is, Iob 11.12. that man by nature is compared to a wilde Asses colt, Iob. 11. Vaine man would be wise, though man be borne like a wilde Asses colt, that is, untamed and untractable: & Ier, Ier. 2 24. 2. to a wild asse used to the wildernesse, that snuffeth up the winde at her pleasure.

Thirdly, 3 it is a very difficult and hard worke to attaine to any good. Vertue is planted & groweth upon the top of an high hill, it is painfull to climbe up unto it; or upon a steep rocke to which we can hardly ascend, we shall be driven to creepe up on all foure, 1 Sam. 14.13. as Ionathan and his armour­bearer did to the garrison of the Philistims. This is that which the wise Solomon teacheth, Pro. 15.24. The way of l fe is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath. Hence it is also, Psal. 15.1. Phil. 3.19. Col. 3.1. that the Rrophet David compareth heaven to an high hill, Psal 15.1. We should clime and get up nearer and nearer unto it euery day. So our Saviour teacheth, that the way to life is narrow, Math. 7.14. and the gate strait: it is not wide and broad as the path that tendeth to death, and therefore much striving and strugling, much fighting and wrastling is needfull for us, Math. 11.12. that the kingdome of hea­ven may suffer violence, and the violent take it by force. The way is onely one that leadeth to life, and we must make straight steppes unto it; but the by-pathes and crooked lanes, and crosse turnings that tend to death, are many, nay infinite.

This instructeth us to admonish one an other, Ʋse. 1 to con­sider one an other, to provoke to love and to good workes, to [Page 91]exhort one an other, and so much the more, Heb. 10.24.25. because we see the day approching. This the Saints have practised, & thus the Prophet foretelleth it should be in times of the Gospel under the kingdome of Christ, Esay, 2. Esay. 2.3. Mic. 4. [...]. many people shall goe and say, Come, let us goe up to the moun­taine of the Lord, to the house of the God of Iacob; he will teach us his wayes, and we will walke in his pathes. So the Apostle chargeth us to exhort one an other, to reprove, and comfort. We see in the things of this life how ready men are to helpe one another, and to doe good to the body: nay we are commanded to shew our love and compassion to the beast, yea of our enemy, Exod. 23.5. If he lye downe under his burden, wilt thou forbeare to lift him up, thou shalt surely helpe him up: how much more then should we doe good to the soule which is more precious than the body, and further him in the matters of salvation, which are of more worth a thousand times, than a temporal possession? Especially this duty is to be performed by parents and masters, that are bound by a nearer and straiter band to their families than others are, and so are charged with the same in a double respect. and generally it is required of all to keepe watch and ward over others for their good. For they that are truly religious must approve themselues to be so by seeking to draw others thereun­to. Where true religion possesseth the heart of a man, The proper­ties of true religion. there also cannot but be a desire kindled and inflamed to bring others to it also. This is not onely as a good tree that bringeth forth good fruit, but it is also as a fire, which having matter to worke upon, will send forth light and heat to comfort and refresh others. And who is he that knoweth and considereth from what misery he is delivered, and to what freedome from sinne and Satan he is brought, that can be so unthankfull to God, and so mercilesse and hard-hearted to his brethren, as to rest contented in his owne happinesse, and be altogether [Page 92]carelesse to give glory to God for his happinesse, Cant 1.4. Iam. 5.19.20. and to testifie his love to his neighbour, and desire to pull him out of the state of damnation, and make him par­taker of the inheritance in the heavenly places! We see in the examples of the Disciples, how diligent they were, so soone as they were brought to Christ, to perswade & draw others to the knowledge and feare of God. When Andrew was brought to Christ, he never rested till he had found his brother Simon, Ioh. 1.41.42. and sayd unto him, We have found the Messias, and he brought him to Iesus: and when the Lord Iesus had called Philip, and willed him to follow him, Philip findeth Nathaniel and sayd, We have found him, vers. 45.46. of whom Moses and the Prophets did write, come and see him. The like also we see afterward in the woman of Samaria, when once Christ had touched her heart, and given her to drinke of the fountaine of living wa­ters springing up into everlasting life, she could not rest her selfe contented therewith to be partaker of so great a benefit alone, Ioh 4.29. but shee lest her waterpot, and ranne into the City, and called them out to tast of those waters where­of she had drunke. Indeed he asked of her, but he gave unto her waters of life. Let us be therefore like to those Lepers, who, being almost affamished and ready to dye, and finding a rich booty, meat and drinke, silver and gold in great abundance, would not, nay could not keepe such a benefit long to themselues, but they accused them­selues and reproved one another, 2 King. 7.9. saying, We doe not well, this day is a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace; if we tarry till the morning, some mischiefe will come upon us, now therefore come that we may tell it abroad. So when God in great mercy hath opened himselfe unto us, which is bet­ter than to find siluer and gold, should we then hide his mercy, as the unfaithfull seruant did his talent, and not rather put it out to the exchangers, Math. 25.27. that the Lord at his comming might receive his owne with usury? And should [Page 93]we not say with those Lepers, This day is a day of good tidings, and should we hold our peace, and not com­municate this good to others? This is the charge that the Lord layd upon Peter, Luk. 22. I have prayed for thee, Luk. 22.32. that thy faith faile not, & when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. Thus the sheepheards, after the Angels were departed into heaven, encouraged one another to see the thing that was come to passe, and to make that knowne abroad in the City, which the Lord had made knowne to them in the field, Luk. 2, 1.5.

Secondly, 2 it reproveth sundry sorts that offend against this doctrine. First, such as shake off this duty, The first re­proofe. as too heavy a burthen, from their owne shoulders, and lay it upon the Ministers of the word, and it is posted over from one to another, as Adam laid the blame vpon the woman, and the woman upon the Serpent: whereas every private man ought to be a meane according to his calling to perswade others to the hearing of the word, that they might be saved. If every one would perswade himselfe that it is his duty to perswade others, then would the Church be enlarged, the Gospel be more generally enter­tained, and the places of our assemblies be better re­plenished. But we will not learne this lesson, or at least we will not practise it. This is a generall fault among us all, if we come to the house of God our selves, we thinke we have done enough, and many will not doe so much; whereas in the meane season we neglect the rest of our families, never considering that our children and our ser­vants must keepe the Sabbath as well as our selves, not remembring that we must give an account to God for them; what they doe when they are in the house of prayer, that they doe not abuse themselves, the holy place of Gods worship, and hinder the edification of others, that they do not turne the house of God into a play­house, and his service into a may-game. And if any pro­ceed [Page 94]so far to have an eye to their families, we must know that God hath given yet a farther charge even of our neighbours, except we will be like to wicked Caine, who said, Gen 4.9. Am I my brothers keeper? As he dealt cruelly toward his brothers body, so doe we unmercifully to his soule, when we shake and shift from us all care therof, as if we were not made keepers one of another. There is a mercy to be shewed the soule, as wel as the body. If a man should escape the hands of theeves, & be brought out of danger, ought he not to give warning to others that trauail that way to look to themselues? & if he do not, is he not guilty of the losse he sustaineth? So it is in this case. And certainly when we see the coldnesse & backwardnes of all persons, we should sharpen & whet up one another, Pro 27.17. according to the precept of Salomon, Iron sharpneth iron, so a man sharp­neth the countenance of his friend: and say, Come neighbour, come friend, let us go to the house of God, let us go to the Sermon, there we shall heare that will doe us good, and be to our soules health: I have found much comfort and benefit by being there, and so I doubt not, you may. If it be to sporting and playing, to a drunken feast, or to a prophane meeting, we see how ready men are not only to call their neighbours to goe with them but also if they were not there with them, to set it out to the full at their returne, as largely as they can. And doth not God looke for as great care for the soule & salvation of our brethren? But some will say, Ob. I could be content to doe so, but alas, I shall doe no good? Solut. I were therefore as good sit still and let all alone, Pro. 18.13. and looke well to my selfe. I answer, or rather let Solomon answer, He that answereth a matter be­fore he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. Againe, be it, 2 Cor. 2.13. it were so; that which is said to the Minister, belong­eth to all, We are the sweet savour to God in them that perish. Let it be with us as it was with Peter, Luk. 5.5. he said, Master, we have toyled all the night, and have taken nothing: never­thelesse [Page 95]at thy word I will let downe the net. Thus ought we much rather to fish for mens soules, and leave the suc­cesse to God. God sent his Prophets to the people, and telleth them before hand, they will not hearken unto them, yet they went and obeyed, Ezek. 3. Math. 13. Object. Others likewise pretend, that it is a thanklesse office, we shall be accounted busi-bodies and medlers in other mens matters. What thanklesse? thou wouldest, Solut. I am sure thou shouldest say, thankfull; yea doubly thankfull. Thou shewest thankfulnesse toward God for thine own conver­sion. Can we better shew it toward God than this way? And do we not owe him more seruice than this for our calling? who might have left us in blindnesse and igno­rance, as he hath done many thousands in the world. Yea doubtlesse, we should do more good hereby, 2 Thess. 3.2. than we can imagine. For as the Apostle saith, All men have not faith, so all men have not a love to religion, they must be per­swaded and provoked to it. As then the Apostle saith, 1 Cor. 7.16. 1 Pet. 3.1. What knowest thou, O husband, whether thou shalt save thy wife! or what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband! So may I extend it farther, and say, what knowest thou O man, whether God hath ordained thee to be the meanes to convert thy neighbour, thy kinsman, thy acquaintance, and familiar friend that is contrary minded? at least use the meanes, and then thou hast deli­vered thine owne soule, whereas otherwise thou maist be guilty of his blood. Never say therefore thou shalt loose thy labour, God that commandeth this duty, Dan. 12.3. will reward thy seruice and labour of love, as Dan. 12. They that turne many to righteousnesse shall shine as the starres for ever. And if ever it shall please God to open their eyes, to see their owne misery, 1 Sam. 25.328.33. it will be with them as it was with David toward Abigail, who had advised him well, and kept him from doing evill, who said to her, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me, and blessed be [Page 96]thy advise, & blessed be thou, &c. Neither can there be a bet­ter property of a good neighbour, than to wish well and to doe good to the soule: and if any desire to be accoun­ted a good neighbour in the sight of God and man, let him shew it this way.

Secondly, The second reproofe. it reproveth all such as are come to this passe, that they cannot abide to be admonished, much lesse reproved, but are like to the Israelite, Exod. 2. when Moses reproved him for smiting his fellow, and put them both in mind, that they were brethren: he that thus did the wrong thrust him away, Exod. 2.13. Act 7.27. Gen. 19.9. saying, who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? or like the men of Sodome, Gen. 19. This fellow came in to soiourne with us, and he will needes be a judge. But let such remember the saying of Solomon, Rebuke a wise man, Pro 9.8. and he will love thee. If God require it as a duty at the hands of every one, to exhort, to ad­monish, and to rebuke; he requireth it by the rule of relation, that others suffer the word of exhortation and admonition: Psal. 141.5. and Psal. 141. the Prophet saith, Let the righteous smite me, and it shall be a kindnesse, and let him re­prove me, it shall be an excellent oyle which shall not breake my head. Therefore it is no matter of unkindnesse.

Thirdly, The third re­proofe. it reproveth such as being pressed to this duty, doe it indeed sometimes, but it is never in love or in the spirit of meeknesse, but in rage and choler, or else it is in a taunting, disgracing, and deriding manner, and afterward when the passion is past, they are haile fellow well met with them. This kind of reproofe seeldome or neuer doth any good, it is so sharpe and biting. So then to conclude this point, reproofe must not be too cold neither to hote and hasty. As Physicke that is ministred, if it be too cold, it never worketh: but if too hote, that it be ready to skald the mouth, the patient will never suffet it to descend into the stomacke, but both of them instead of doing Good, doe hurt: so it is in the matter [Page 97]of reproofe; which is the Physicke of the soule to cure the diseases thereof, when it is seasoned with wisedome and discretion, and the golden meane observed between too much and too little: but if it be given too cold, Aurea medio­critas, Horat. lib. [...]. Ode 10. 1 Sam. 2.24. we can looke for no benefit to come thereof, as we see in the practise of Eli toward his sonnes, 1 Sam. 2. on the other side if it be applied too hote, as the Disciples would have dealt with the Samaritans, Luk. 9.54. to call downe fire from hea­ven to consume them at once, no man will suffer it to go downe into the bowels of the belly, but distasteth the re­proofe and the reprover.

Thirdly, they that would be meanes to bring others to repentance or to godlinesse, 3 must first be such them­selues, for asmuch as otherwise we shall seeme to draw them in jest, to speake one thing and to meane another, not indeed and in truth to desire that which we make shew off. For what man, I pray you, will be disswaded from drunkennesse, by the perswasion of a drunkard? or who will regard the words of a blasphemer, when he findeth fault with swearing? The person reprooved never regardeth or esteemeth any such reproofe, he never layeth it to his heart, but heareth it as words of course, and scoffeth at such folly, as one ready to cast the re­proover in the teeth with the common proverbe, Luk. 4.23. Physiti­on, heale thy selfe. If we would doe any good with our reprooving, and seeke the amendment of such as goe astray, we must first cast the beame out of our owne eye, Math. 7.5. and then we shall see cleerly to cast out the mote out of our bro­thers eyes. Hence it is that the Apostle saith, Rom. 2.21. Thou that teachest an other, teachest thou not thy selfe? &c. Such therefore as goe about to perswade others to a love of the truth, and of the house of God where the truth is published, must give an example to others, and be a pat­terne and president thereof themselves, and so lead them the way. Thus the Prophet fortelleth the people should [Page 98]do under the Gospel, Zach. 8.21. Let us goe speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seeke the Lord of hostes, I will goe also: as if they should say, Come friends, come neighbours, let us goe to the house of God, to pray, to heare his word, to sanctifie his Sabbaths, to learne his wayes, and I will goe with you, I will beare you company. Thus also doth the Prophet David Psal. 111. as appeareth in the title, com­pared with the beginning of the Psalme, Praise ye the Lord, I will praise the Lord with my whole heart: other­wise, we shall be like the Statues in the high way, which point the way to others, but never remove out of their place themselves, or like our common ringers, who helpe to bring others into the Church, and then depart them­selves.

Lastly, 4 as we must call upon others, so we must be con­tent to be called upon by others: especially such, whose calling is most familiarly to converse together, as chil­dren, servants, and such like. They must not, as the man­ner is, thinke amisse to be often admonished by their Parents, Masters, or Superiors, or esteeme it any disgrant or reproch to be pricked forward by the goad of exhor­tation, much lesse say with the obstinate and refractory, Let us breake their bandes, Psal. 2.3. and cast their cordes from us, but stoop downe our neckes to the yoake of God, and submit our selves to discipline even from our youth. The Apostle Saint Peter saith, 2 Pet. 1.12. I will not be negligent to put you in minde of these things, though ye have knowledge, and be established in the truth already. This answereth the Objection of some men, that boast they are able to admonish themselves, and they know those things already sufficiently: for albeit they to whom Peter wrote, were well grounded and esta­blished in the present truth, yet he would not cease dili­gently to admonish them. And the Apostle Paul, though he were perswaded of the Romans, that they were full of goodnesse, Rom. 15.14. filled with knowledge, and able to admonish one an­other; [Page 99]yet was he bold by writing to put them in mind of these things, Phil 3.1. and it did not greeue him to write the same things to the Philippians, because he knew that for them it was a sure and safe thing. So that such as are best furnished and well stored with good knowledge, with grace and good­nesse, oftentimes find they have need to be whet up and put forward: and if such as are most forward and furni­shed, need the spurres to be clapped to their sides, much more others that are children in knowledge, backward in good things, rude and raw in the doctrine which is accor­ding to godlinesse.

8. Let man and be [...]st be covered with sackcloth, and cry, &c.) Here we have the summe and effect of the Kings Proclamation, that as the danger was common to all, which hung over their heads, so the meanes must be com­mon to turne away the judgment, Doct. they must joyntly to­gether put on sackcloth, and call upon God. This teacheth, Prayer and fasting [...]ust go together. us, that fasting and prayer must be joyned and goe hand in hand together. The truth of this appeareth by sundry examples in the old and new Testament, as Iudg. 20 23. 2 Chro. 20.3.6. Math. 17.21. Luk. 2.37. 1 Cor. 7.5. Ioel. 2.15.17.

The reasons are evident: for first, Math. 19.6. Whatsoever God hath coupled together, no man must put asunder. This is a gene­rall rule belonging to all Gods ordinances which he hath united. Secondly, fasting considered in it selfe is an out­ward ceremony, and cannot touch the conscience, neither doth the kingdome of God consist therein, Rom. 14.17. 1 Tim. 4.8. but it is a bodily exercise that severed from the spiritual profiteth little, 1 Tim. 4.8. Rom. 14.17. Thirdly the Conjunction of these is the right and ready mea [...]es to turne away the wrath of God from us, as Ezr. 8. I Proclaimed a fast, that we might humble our selves before our God, Ezr. 8.21.23. and seeke of him a right way for us and for our children, and for all our substance. Fourthly, to make our prayers more available and ef­fectuall, [Page 100]and that the Lord might be intreated of us, Ezra. 8.23.

The use hereof is first, Vse. 1 to overthrow the Popish fastings, which consist in nothing but in outward abstinence from flesh onely: as for humiliation of our selues before our God and afflicting of our spirits, as for solemne prayer and amendment of life, they are dead and buried, as if they were the carcasse of fasting, there is deepe silence of them, as of things impertinent and utterly from the purpose. Thus albeit they retaine the name of fasting, yet they have altered the nature of it; and albeit they make it meritori­ous, yet was it but a notorious mocking of God, a disho­nouring of him, and a deluding of his people.

Secondly, 2 we receive from hence encouragement in performance of these duties yea comfort, and assu­rance that God will spare us, and save us, returne to us, if we returne to him, and turne away his wrath from us, Ezr. 8.23. as he did from these Ninevites. This we see how the Lord performed, Ezr. 8. We fasted and besought our God for this, and he was intreated of us. Where we see fasting and praying ioyned together, and this benefit they found thereby, this was the successe, they obtained a blessing, the Lord was intreated of them. If we practise these as we are commanded, we have his promise of mercy. If he be not intreated, it is because we seeke him not aright, nei­ther are sufficiently humbled before him, but provoke him more by our fasting, then we did before, and so adde sin unto us. O how great are our provocations of the Al­mighty, when his ordinances sanctified to withdraw his wrath, shall be meanes to draw it farther upon us! and how farre doe our evill workes kindle his indignation against us and encrease his plagues, & cause him to double his strokes upon us, when our best actions performed amisse, serve for no other end, but to turne us farther out of his favour, and to keepe his mercies from us! so that [Page 101]we deserue justly a new plague for our fasting, if God were not gracious unto us. For what are our meetings in many places for the most part, but a mocke-fast, as if we meant to despite God to his face, or as if we met to­gether according to every mans fansie, and not warranted by publike authority, nor urged by our owne necessity? Some are feasting, while others are fasting. Some keepe it indeed as they doe keepe the Sabbath, neither resting from their labours, not attending the worship of God, and so they make conscience of neither. Some come sweating and blowing into the house of God, from their owne workes, without any preparation of them­selves, or consideration of the worke of God: where about they goe. Some are only fore-noone men; some againe onely after-noone way. Some beginne, when others have halfe ended: others end when some have halfe begunne. Others come to Church betimes, but they bring the Devill at their elbowes, that lulleth them fast asleepe: so as they learne nothing, and serue as Cyphers onely to fill up a place; for being present they were as good be absent, nay better be absent, because they should lesse dishonour God, shew lesse contempt of the word, and give lesse scandal to their brethren. Call you this a fasting to the Lord? Call you this an afflicting of our selves? or of our soules? Call you this a solemne repentance? Nay where is he almost that once mindeth amendment of life, or calleth his sinnes to remembrance, or who saith to the eternall God, the Lord of heaven and earth, the King of Kings, as that servant sayd to his Lord and Master an earthly King, Gen. 41.9. I call to mind my faultes this day? See then the causes why we are not heard! We use the meanes, but God regardeth us not, as Iam. 4. Iam. 4.3. Yee aske and receive not, because ye aske amisse, and we doe not performe them aright. Behold then the true cause why Gods judgments often continue and his hand is stretched [Page 102]out still; we remaine still in our sinnes. We fast from food, but we fast not from our offences. We abstaine from the pleasures of the things of this life, Heb. 11.25. but we ab­staine not from the pleasures of sinne which are but for a season. What should it profit to put on sackcloth upon the body, and not to put off the pride of heart? to abridge out selves of naturall sleepe, and to be spiritually asleepe in sinne? to put off our best apparell, and not to cast off the old man which is corrupt through the deceivable lustes? Object. It will be objected, it hath beene usuall with Moses and the Prophets, and the people of God, when his hand was heavy upon them by famine, or pestilence, or the sword, they fasted and prayed, and the plague ceased: why is it not so with us? we have fasted, but our plague continueth: is God changed, or is there any alteration in the Almighty? Answ. I answer, there is some difference be­tweene the old Testament and the new: 1 between his ad­ministration under the law, and under the Gospel. For in the time of the law, he crowned the obedience there­of more and oftner with temporall blessings, as he recom­pensed the disobedience with temporall judgements, whiles the joyes of heaven, and the torments of hell were more darkly shadowed: whereas now in the sunne­shine of the Gospel, we behold Christ Iesus with open face, the Kingdome of heaven is set open to all beleevers, and the judgment of the great day of the Lord, to which the vngodly are reserved, is made manifest; and therefore his wrath is not now so fully and plentifully revealed from heaven against all ungodlinesse and unrighteousnesse of men, neither doth he reward with earthly blessings so commonly such as serve him.

But to passe this over, 2 as not so proper for this place, let us enter into our selves, let us search and try our own wayes, and we shall find the true cause in our owne hearts. For how should we thinke or perswade our selves, [Page 103]that God should cease his hand presently, when we en­crease our sins dayly? Is it not just with him, to multiply his judgments upon us, when we multiply sin upon sin? or should we looke to have him repent of the evill, when we will not repent of our evill? We should doubtlesse see an other manner of successe and blessing of God upon our praying and fasting, and humiliation: if we did as the peo­ple of God were wont to doe, we should speed as they were wont to do, the Lord would deale with us as he dealt with them: but forasmuch as we be not like to them in the one, no marvaill if we be not like them in the other.

Lastly, 3 seeing the people of God were wont in solemne times of humil [...]ation, and professing of their repentance to joyne together prayer and fasting, the one giving the right hand of fellowship to the other: let us stirre up our selves to call upon his name: but how? Not as ordinari­ly we doe, but as our fasting is extraordinary, so ought our prayers to be also, in regard of continuance, in regard of zeale, in regard of confession of the sinnes of all sorts, of the Ministery, of our selves, of our families, Dan. 9.3.7.8. of our fathers, of our Princes, of our people, and of our whole land. For all our fasting is nothing worth without this. Fasting is no part of Gods worship, but onely joyned to prayer to be an helpe unto it, or as a wing to mount is up to­ward heaven, and make it ascend into the presence of God. Prayer is avaylable without fasting, because it is a lifting up of the heart to him: but fasting never with­out prayer, because it goeth not beyond the outward man. Prayer is a spirituall exercise of our faith, wherein, as in an acceptable sacrifice, God delighteth; but fasting is a bodily exercise, which in it selfe pleaseth not God, who is a Spirit, Ioh. 4.24. and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and truth. God being of a spirituall nature requireth a spirituall service and agreeable to his nature.

And cry mightily vnto God.) This is the life, and the very quintessence of all the great abstinence before com­manded. For what had it availed to cover themselves with sackcloth and ashes, and to abstaine from food, had they not used prayer to God to crave mercy and forgive­nesse at his hands? Yea, this is the end of private or publike fastes, that we should call upon God the more fervently and effectually. They are not prescribed (as hath beene shewed) as parts of Gods seruice, for whe­ther we eate, we are never the worse; or whether we abstaine, we are not at all the better, in respect of any religion or holinesse that consisteth in them, but onely as they are meanes to further us in his seruice. Now in these words, we must observe three things, the matter, the manner, and the object: that is, their prayer, their zeale, and the person to whom they prayed: their prayer is noted by their crying: their zeale by doing it mightily; the person to whom they prayed, unto God. Let us con­sider these in order. The first is the matter, they prayed, they cryed; the end is that thereby God might turne a­way from his fierce wrath. Doct. This teacheth us, that prayer is a principall meanes appointed and sanctified of God to remove his judgements. Prayer is a meanes to re­move Gods judgments. This is as it were the tongue or voyce of repentance. The prayer of this people was more worth a thousand times, than the crying of the beasts, and the loud noyse of men, women, and children. They cryed, they cryed mightily, they cryed to God. This the heathen by the light of nature have confessed. The Marriners acknowledged this to be the only meanes to obtaine mercy at the hands of God, Ion. 1.6. and to remoove his judgement, when they were like to perish. So did Pharaoh, he was glad to fly to it in his misery and cala­mity, Exod. 8.28. Pray for me and for my people to the Lord, that this plague may depart. So it was with Ieroboam, little better than the former, 1 King. 13.6. 1 King. 13. So it was with Simon the [Page 105]forcerer; they all thought it was the readiest way to re­move his judgments from falling upon them. Behold sun­dry examples of this truth in traveilers, in captives, in sicke men, in sea-men, and sundry other troubles, of which the Prophet saith, They cryed unto the Lord in their troubles, Psal. 107.6.13 19.28. Amos. 7.2.3 4.5.6. and he delivered them out of their distresses. We see this of­tentimes in Moses the servant of the Lord, when he praied for the Israelites, Exod. 32. Numb. 14. Yea so for­cible were his prayers with God, that they after a sort tyed up his hands, that he could not smite, but said, Exod. 32.10. Let me alone, that I may destroy them. So Gen. 19. he said to Let, I can doe nothing, till thou art gone: and Exod. 17. Gen. 19.22. the prayer of Moses prevailed more for the overthrow and destruction of the Amalekites, than the sword of Ioshua and the people.

The reasons are, Reas. 1 first it hath a promise of blessing to such as use it a right, Math. 7. Psal. 50. We do not beat the aire, nor build upon the sand, our labour in the fire, Psal. 50.15. when we pray unto him, but we lay a sure foundatiō upon the certaine rocke of his promise, Math. 7.7. which shall never faile us, who hath said, Aske, and ye shall receive. Secondly, 2 our sinnes cry up to heaven, pierce the cloudes, Gen. 18.20. & 4.10. come into Gods presence, and call for vengance, Gen. 18. Our prayers cry to God for mercy, and drowne the noise of our sinnes, that the cry of them cannot be heard, though they cry never so loud. Thirdly, we obtaine not, 3 because we aske not aright, Iam. 4. We aske and receive not, Iam. 4.3. we seeke and find not, but the cause is not in God, the fault is in our selves.

Vse. 1. This reproveth such as pray not at all, Vse. 1 nor de­sire to have conference with God, as if they stood in no need of him, as if they enjoyed all things by their owne labour, as if they did not live and move by his blessing, as if it were not in his power to stoppe our breath, when we must goe hence and be no more; and as if any thing [Page 106]could do us good without a sanctifying of the creature to our use; Psal. 14.4. whereas he can take away the staffe of bread, whensoever it pleaseth him. All these should be motives to move us to paryer. Rom. 10.13. The Prophet maketh this the note of Atheistes, they call not upon the Lord. If a man should be waighed in this ballance, alas how many would be found to light, and if whosoever would be saved must call upon the name of the Lord, how many are there, that stand not in the state of salvation: because they know not what prayer meaneth, it is a stranger to them, and they unto it.

Secondly, 2 it is our duty to practise this duty, to call upon his holy name. But it may be said, what needeth prayer? God hath foreappointed what to do, and our prayer can­not altar Gods purpose & decree; which is unchangable. I answer, we do not pray to chage Gods decree, but to shew our obedience & faith toward God. It pleaseth him to try them this way, whether as his children they will depend upon him or not. Again it may be said, He knoweth what we need: what need we then to put him in mind, as if he had forgotten to shew mercy? I answer, we do not pray to teach God any thing that he knoweth not, neither to bring to his remēbrance, what he hath forgotten: yet this ought to be farre from discouraging of us in prayer, and from stopping our mouthes, Math 6.8 9. that it rather openeth them wider: for asmuch as therefore we ought to be encouraged in prayer, because our heavenly father knoweth whereof we have need: 3 and thus our Saviour reasoneth, your father know­eth your necessities, after this manner therefore pray ye.

Thirdly, continue in prayer, & supplication without cea­sing, and never give over, to be his remembrancers: such praier evermore hath mercy joyned with it. This doth our Saviour teach, Luk. 11 8. & 18.1.5. Math. 15.22.24.26. I meane this perseverance by sundry para­bles of the poore widow, & of the vnjust, judge, Luk. 18. of the friend that did lend three Loves, Luk. 11. & by the example of the woman of Canaan who followed our Sa­viour, [Page 107]and would not give him over, till she had obtained, Math. 15. And the rather ought we to do so, because sometimes God will proove our faith, patience, obedience and constancy: sometimes, to make us more earnest in prayer, for we are to dull & cold, & must be stirred up: sometimes, to teach us the value and price of the graces of his spirit; because such as are soone and easily obtained are often­times dispiced, or at least lesse regarded, and not so care­fully preserued: sometimes, to make us more watchfull and heedfull, that we might not easily loose them, when we have them. The Prophts themselues complaine of­tentimes, that God heareth them not, that they have cal­led day and night, and are weary of their crying. Where­fore? not that he will not heare; much lesse that he can­not heare; but that his mercy might the more appeare: for the greater our necessity is, the more is his power and mercy seene: sometimes he delayeth us, Iudg. 7.2 to teach us to renounce all confidence in the flesh, as Iudg. 7. the Lord said to Gideon, The people that are with thee, are to many for me to give the Midianites into their hands; least Israel make their vaunt against me and say, mine hand hath saved me: so would it be with us, if we had alwayes helpes at hand, 2 Cor. 1.9.10 and 2 Cor. 1.9.10. that we should not trust in our selues, but in God which raiseth the dead. Lastly sometimes we are differred, that our danger being the greater wherein we are, his glory might be the greater in our deliverance. As the skill of the Phyfition is most seene in most desperate diseases, and of the Surgeon in the deepest woundes: for what great knowledge in his art doth he shew in curing the scratch of a pin, or a little razing of the skin? so the power of God is most of al seene, in delivering of us from troubles & dangers, wherein we have lienand languished, a long time, and from thence also ariseth his glory.

Lastly, it is our duty to give thankes to God, 4 when he hath heard us, as Psal. 50. I will deliver thee, and thou shalt [Page 108]glorifie me. 4 Our owne wants and necessities constraine us oftentimes to remember the former precept, Call upon me: but our deliverances cannot make us remember the latter clause, thou shalt glorifie me. We are ready with the Lepers to opon our mouthes for mercy, but our mouthes are soone shut when we should give him the glory, Luk. 17.12. and we quickly forget his goodnesse with the same Lepers. There is no triall of our selues by prayer in our wants, for it is often forced, not free: wrested, not voluntary: but rather by our thankesgiving: whether we make con­science of our duties to God, or not. Forced prayer is no prayer. As he loueth a cheerefull giver, so he loveth a cheerfull prayer. O how often was the Prophet David in praising God! how doth he provoke his owne heart not to forget his benefits! and others, O that men would praise the Lord for his goodnesse, Psal. 116.12.103. & 107.8 and for his wonderfull workes to the children of men!

Cry mightliy.) Hitherto of the first point, the matter or sub­stance of the Kings cōmandement they must all zeale. The pray, Doct. from the highest to the lowest the second point sol­loweth, Prayer must [...]e seruent. the maner of their pray, mightily, this noteth their danger was certaine, & in a manner present, therfore their prayer must not be cold. Hence we must obserue, that it is not enough to pray, but prayer must be earnest & fervent. Hereunto commeth the double and trebled commande­ment of Christ, to aske, to seeke, to knocke, which repe­tition importeth and imposeth upon us this fervency. True it is, that prayer joyned with fasting ought to be earnest too fold; but though it go alone without fasting, yet it must not go alone without fervency of spirit. The Apostle Iames speaking of ordinary prayer teacheth, that the prayer of a righteous man prevail [...]th much, Iam. 5.16.17. if it b [...]forment, not otherwise. This he proveth by the example of Elias, [...]e prayed earnestly that it might not raine, and it rained not on the earth by the space of three yeares and sixe m [...]th [...], [Page 109]&c. And least any should pretend, that he was a great Prophet and in high favour with God, no marveil ther­fore if his prayer prevailed, who raised the dead to life, and brought fire from heaven, as also he obtained that the heaven should be as brasse and the earth as jron; but all cannot be like to him, every Christian cannot be an other Elias; besides his prayer was extraordinary. The Apostle answereth, that notwithstanding his great graces, yet he was a man subject to the same passions & infirmities that others are, and yet God heard him. And true it is, his prayer was extraordinary in regard of the manner; we cānot pray that the heaven should not give rain, nor the clouds senddown their shewres because we have not that spirit which he had; but we must have the spirit of Sanctification to pray [...]ervētly, as he did, or else we shal never be heard as he was

The reasons, Reason. 1 first God looketh not onely what we do when we come before him, but how we do it, he regar­deth the ma [...]ner as well as the matter, not only that we do good things, but that we do them well. For as we must take heede not only what we hear [...], Mar. 4.24. Mark. 4.24. Luk. 8.18. but like­wise how we heare, Luk. 8.18. so we must looke to our selues, that we pray, & what we pray; but withall how we pray, seeing we must faile neither in the one, 2 nor in the o­ther. Secondly the Lord only loveth zealous servants, that [...]erue him faithfully and servently, as he is sayd to love a cheerfull giver, 2 Cor. 8. 3 Thirdly cold suiters among men teach them to deny such suites. If a man come to our dores and b [...]g coldly, as if he cared not whether he speed o [...] not, who will take any pittie or have compassi­on on such persons? and shall we thinke that God will regard those that regard not in what cold and carelesse manner they present themselves before him? Lastly, 4 he is cursed that doth any worke of the Lord negligently: yea such as are luke-warme shall be sp [...]ed on [...] of his mouth, Rev. 3.16. R [...]. 3. Such are they that ca [...]e not which [...]dge for w [...]rd, [Page 110]whether they obtaine or not obtaine. These are dead prayers, without life, as of dead men without breath.

This reproveth such, Ʋse. 1 as come negligently to the throne of grace; never considring how they pray; neither be­fore whom they pray; neither have any feeling at all of their owne wants and necessities: and therefore no mar. veil if they receive nothing; [...] Ier. 47.10. but go away empty: as Ier. 48. Cursed be he that doth the worke of the Lord deceitfully: such do most of all deceive themselues. These are they that draw nigh to God with their mouthes, and honour him with their lippes, but their hearts are farre removed from him: Causes of cold prayers. in vaine doe such worship him, Math. 15. If any desire to know what are the causes of such could and livelesse prayers, 1 they are these especially: first igno­rance of the nature of God, of his piercing eye, and of his powerfull hand, and of his glorious presence, filling all places, 2 and searching all hearts, and beholding all per­sons, how they stand before him. Secondly want of faith, the root of all evill: Heb. 4.2. for our prayers do not profit, be­cause they are not mixed with faith in them, that make them, as the Apostle speaketh of hearing the Gospel, Heb. 4. For faith is the life of every part of Gods worship. Thirdly, 3 confidence in the flesh, and not trusting in the living God, and looking for all good things from him. Such are they that trust in their wealth, and boast them­selues in the multitude of their riches, which as ranke thornes do so choke them, and as heavy burdens do so presse, and oppresse them, that they cannot lift up their hearts to God, Eph. 5.5. from whence our helpe cometh. A covetous man, which is a worshipper of Images, can never make a fervent prayer, he is so taken in the snare of his owne substance; whereby he is drowned in perdition and destruction: 4 Fourthly, the corrupt iudgement of the sinful world that hate zeale to the death, and cannot abide such as are zealous: but as the frendship of this world is enmity [Page 111]with God; Iam. 4.4. so whosoever will be a friend of the world ma­keth himselfe the enemy of God, Iam. 4. 5 So the beholding of the prosperity of the wicked men; that either pray not at all, or else if they pray, are neither hote, nor cold, but are newters or indifferent men, who if they prospe [...] here, regard not what become of them hereafter: that say, 1 Cor. 15.32. let us eate and drinke, for to morrow we shall dy. 1. Cor. 15. But our hope is not in this life onely; but we must looke to the recompense of reward, and cast a sure and steadfast ancre in heaven. Lastly, to lye in some knowne sinne. 6 This either stoppeth our mouthes; that we cannot speak; or powreth water upon our prayers, that our praiers have no heat in them; but are frozen with the cold of our cor­ruptions. Our daily prayer therefore must be to God the searcher of all hearts to clense us from our secret sinnes. Psal. 19.12.

Secondly, learne from hence: 2 what it is that seasoneth every worke of God: preaching, hearing, receiving the Sacraments, prayer and the rest; without zeale they are nothing worth. Prayers are not commended for their length, nor for often repetitions of one and the same thing: Math. 6.7. for the heathen thinke to be heard for their much bab­ling: neither are they accepted; because they are cunning­ly and curiously compiled; as if we were Orators; not Christians; pleaded at the barre for our f [...]e; not shewed the fruit of our faith: sought to please the eares of igno­rant men; not to pierce the eares of the eternall God. The Apostle would not preach to men in the entising words of mens wisedome, 1 Cor 2.4. but in demonstration of the spirit and power: and shall we dare to speake unto God in a flori­shing and foolish stile, to tickle the eare, as if we ment to shew our skill in Rhetoricke, rather then commend our suites to God? That which giveth a grace to our prayers, is the spirit of zeale; without this they are as sounding brasse, they can profit us nothing, nei­ther [Page 112]ascend to the presence of God.

Lastly, 3 in every duty labour to be zealous. For as it is in prayer, so it is in the worship of God, zeale is the salt that seasoneth the same, and without it every worke hath lost his Savour. It is strange to consider, how in worldly duties, the more earnest a man is, the better he is accounted and accepted. He that is earnest in his ma­sters businesse, is judged a good seruant: he that is ear­nest in his Prince affaires, is rewarded as a good subject: he that is earnest in his fathers cause, is esteemed as a good child: onely in the matters of God, wherein we should be most forward, who should be master, and Father, and King and all unto us, I wot not how his servants, children, and subjects are reviled and reproched for their zeale. Neverthelesse we must not be offended nor discouraged for the taunts and evill reports of the world, but be ready to walke through good report and evill report, that we may please him who hath set us in his seruice. Onely we must learne how to direct our zeale aright: for there are extremes on both sides. As it may be too cold, so it may be too hote and fiery, the meane is best, that we may be aright zealous of good workes. Tit. 2.14. There is an ignorant zeale, Ioh. 16.2. Gal. 1.14. there is an idolatrous zeale; Phil. 3.6. such was theirs that cut and mangled themselues till the blood gushed out, Act. 26.11. 1 King. 18.28. and that would burne their children in fire, and offer them in honour of their devilish goddes, Ier. 7.31. here is an hypocriticall zeale, such as was in the Pharisees, that did compasse sea and land to make one a proselite, that is, one of their owne sect, Math. 23.13. There is a zeale more damnable and vile than all the rest, of such, who contrary to their own conscience and knowledge, do violently re­sist, and maliciously oppose themselves against the Gos­pel and the professors thereof; this was in the cursed and proud Pharisees that opposed themselues against our [Page 113]Saviour, & committed the sin against the holy Ghost, which shal befor given neither in this life nor in the life to come, Math, Math. 12.32. 12.32. That our zeale therfore may be good, Rules to be observed to make our zeale good. first the mat­ter must be good, Gal. 4.18. our zeale is good, if the thing be good; otherwise if the matter be evill, the more earnest it is, more sinful it is: his indeed rather choler then zeale. 1 Secōd­ly, true zeale beginneth with our selues and in our selues, 2 & frō thence proceedeth to others. They are the most skilful Physians and best able to heale others, who have wrought a cure upon themselues, Luk. 6.42. against this rule do all hypocrites offend. Thirdly, 3 we must make greatest account of the greatest matters, Math. 23.23. Such do erre herein that are hote & hasty in matters of ceremony, but altoge­ther cold in matter of substance: these neglect the body, & catch after the shadow; they straine at a gnat and swallow a Camell, Math. 23, 24. Fourthly, 4 it behoveth us to looke first of all to the heart and to clense the inside, Ier, 4.14. Iam. 4.8. that so the outside may be cleane also, Math. 23.26. 5 or else it is no zeale but hypocrity. Fiftly, Math 23.4. We must be more strict and precise to our selues then to others, and give more liberty to them then we will take to our selues. Let not us be as the Pharises, who bound heauy burdens and greeuous to be borne and laid them upon other mens shoulders, but themselues will not move them with one of their fingers, Math. 23.4. Let us rather follow the ex­ample of Abraham, Gen. 14.23.24. and of the Apostle Paul, 1 Cor. 4.12. 1 Thess 2.9. with 1 Cor. 9.6.14. 1 Tim. 5.18 Sixtly true zeale condemneth, 6 and repro­veth sinne without respect of persons, in their acquain­tance; as well as in strangers, in their friends; as well as in foes, in the higher as well as in the lower sort; Math. 16.23. Gal. 3. [...]. Iob. 29.8.9. But many offend and are partiall against this rule, and are afraid of the face of the mighty. Seventhly, 7 we are to be most fervent in Gods causes. This was the commendation of Moses, though [Page 114]he were as meeke as a lain be in his own cause, the meekest upon the face of the earth, Numb. 12.3. but in case of Idola­try and worshipping the golden calfe, his wrath waxed hote: he cast the Tables out of his hands, he brake them in pieces, he burnt the Calfe in the fire, he ground it to powder, and being strewed upon the water, he made the Israelites drinke of it, Exod. 32.19.20. This is otherwise in the greatest num­ber, who practise the quite contrary. They are as hote as fire in their owne private matters, but as cold as ice in things pertaining to the honour and glory of God. Let a seruant offend his Master in the least trifle, and neglect his businesse any way, how is he moved and his rage kindled? but, if he transgresse the Commandement of God and neglect his worship, he is never touched or troubled at it, Ma [...]h. 15.6. [...] he never reproveth him for it: what is this; but to make the commandement of God of none effect by their tradition? 8 Lastly, albeit zeale be requisit and neces­siry for all Christians, yet it must be alayed and tempered with mercy and compassion, considering our selues, least we also be tempted, Gal. 6.1.2. being humbled in our selues for those sinnes which we espy and censure in o­thers. It is noted of Christ our Saviour, when the Pharisees murmured because he would heale on the Sab­bath day, Mark. 3.5. that he looked angerly about him, and yet he sor­rowed for the hardnesse of their hearts. Here anger and sorrow meet together, and so they ought to doe in us.

Cry unto God.) Hitherto of the second point, the man­ner of their prayer; they cried mightily: now we come to the third point: the object of prayer, to God, that is, the true God. Ion. 1.5. The Mariners mentioned in the first Chap­ter cryed every man to his God, but none of them to the true God, Doct. and therefore they laboured, but all in vaine. This teacheth us, Prayer must be made to God onely. that prayer must be directed unto the true God only, Gen. 4.26. Psal. 50.15. & 107.6. Math. 6.9. Dan. 9.4. 2 Chro. 20.6. Act. 8.22.

The reasons are apparently drawne from the nature of God. For first he onely is able to heare and to helpe. Reason. 1 He is infinite in power, and nothing is to hard for him, nothing unpossible to him. Secondly, In regard of his knowledge, 2 he searcheth the heart, who made the heart, and under­standeth our thoughts and imaginations a farre off. 3 Third­ly, He only is present in all places, Ier. 23.24. Esay. 66.1. that none can hide himself in secret places that he shall not see him; he filleth heaven and earth, the heaven being his throne, and the earth his foot stoole, Esay. 66.1. Fourthly, 4 Faith and prayer go toge­ther, and therefore it is called, the prayer of faith, Iam. 5.15. We beleeve only in God, therefore we must pray onely to him. The Apostle therefore having shewed, that who­soever calleth upon the name of the Lord shall be saved, Rom. 10.13.14. he addeth, but how shall they call upon him, in whom they have not beleeved?

First of all; Ʋse. 1 this reproveth the sacriledge of the Church of Rome, that robbe God of the honour due to his name, and give that to the Saints departed, and to Angels which is proper unto him. To him all the faithfull, Patriarkes, Prophets, and righteous men have prayed & been heard: and we have ten thousand places by which we are war­ranted and willed to doe the like. Our Saviour camman­deth us to go to our Father which is in heaven, Math. 6. The contrary practise hath neither Precept, nor example nor promise, nor threatning against any that refuse it, nor punishment upon any that hath neglected the per­formance thereof. Thus the Prophet speaketh, Thou, Esay. 63.16. O Lord, art our Father, though Abraham be ignorant of us. David freely confesseth, Psal. 63.25. that he had none in heaven but God and none upon earth that he desired beside him. The Church of Rome hath gotten more knowledge then ever this Prophet had, and they are not ashamed to professe that they have [...]no in heaven then God, & other mediators in whom they put their trust besides him. Such lye under an [Page 116]heavy curse: Ier. 17.5. & [...] 17. for cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arme, and whose heart departeth from the Lord. What do these but forsake God the fountaine of living waters, and hew out to themselues broken cisternes that can hold no water. Into both these mischeifes the Romish Synagogue falleth by praying to Saints and Angels. If the blessed virgin, the Apostles and Saints in heaven did know, what these Idolaters and Saint-worshippers doe to them on earth, doubtlesse they would abhorre this de­testable derogation from the glory of God, as much as Paul and Barnabas did the peoples offering to doe sacri­fice to them, Act. 14.14. nay much more as their knowledge (being glorified) was greater, and their zeale of Gods glory more fervent then before, in the dayes of their flesh.

Secondly, 2 it reproveth such as neglect wholly or for the most part this duty, as not belonging unto them, or as not necessary, or as if God had never required it, or spoken word of it, or as if his faithfull servants had never practised it: Whereas the Lord presseth no duty more earnestly; the Scripture expresseth no duty more commonly, and the Godly have performed no duty more constantly. But from whence commeth this retchlesse­nesse in so plaine a matter, and the disregarding of so holy an exercise, so often commanded, and so profitable to our selves? Surely it proceedeth either from ignorance, to make the best of it, which yet excuseth not; or disabili­ty, or prophanenesse, or from contempt, or from deri­ding, of all good things in such as delight in them, or from posting it over to the Minister, or from lying in some knowne sinne, or from an evill custome and continuance without reading or praying in their houses. To con­clude this point, we must obserue two rule. First it is not enough to bid others pray for us, as did Pharaoh, Ieroboam, Simon Magus, and some others, but we must pray our selues. We must learne this knowledge. As Parents will [Page 117]not have their children require others to request them to grant such things as they want, but will accustome them to come boldly themselues: so it is with our heavenly Father. He will not have us to depend upon others to speake unto him for us, but he will have us come to his throne our selues, with such reverence and boldnesse as behoveth children to come to their fathers. Secondly we ought not to pray in company onely, for that many times is hypocrisie. The greatest sort rest in comming to the Church, in hearing the Word, in receiving the Sacra­ments, in being present at the prayers of the Church, and in doing as others do; but over and above this we must pray in secret between God and our selues, that he which seeth in secret may reward us openly. He that never prayed but in company, never prayed in sincerity. If we have the spirit of supplicatiō, we must sequester our selues from others, for private meditation: as our Saviour both instructed others; and practised himselfe. Math 6.6. Touching others, he willeth us to enter into our Closet, and shut the dore, Math. 6. and to pray to our father in secret. Luk. 6.12. And touching himselfe. He went out into a Mountaine to pray; and continued all night in prayer: and was oftentimes a [...]one by himselfe, as we shewed before. 3

Lastly, come often to Gods throne, as children do to their father, accounting it a necessary duty, Iam. 5.13. not arbitrary or left at our liberty, as Iam. 5. Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Neither let any man pretend the difficulty. The more hard it is, the more excellent, and the greater labour should we employ to be able to do it. If an earthly Prince should make Proclamation among the lowest & meanest sort of his subjectes, that whosoever would come to begge such a mannor at his hands, and put up his petition for it, shewing his case and laying open his poverty: there is none so simple or so shallow but he would find wordes and matter enough to plead for him­selfe. Why then are we not so wise for the soule, as we [Page 118]are for the body? for the life to come, as for this present life? for heaven, as we are for the earth? for eternall things, as we are temporall? Let us therfore draw neere to God, and he will draw neere vnto us: he is more ready to heare then we are to speake; to grant then we are to aske; to open then we are to knock: True it is, he is often found before we seeke after him, and when we aske one blessing he is ready to grant many; yea more then we desire: and we make an end of asking before he doth of granting, Gen. 18. yet if we enioy the things of this life when we refuse to pray for them, and resolue not once to open our mouthes unto him, all such blessings are turned into curses, as he threatneth, Mal. 2.2.

Yea, let them turne every one from their evill wayes.) It was not enough for these Ninevites to pray, to pray fer­vently, to pray unto God, but they must turne every one from his evill way. This is necessary to be annexed as a companion to the former. For as fasting is nothing worth without prayer, so prayer is nothing worth with­out repentance. Doct. This teacheth, that no prayer is accep­table to God, No prayer ac­cepted but of the righteous. Psal. 145.19. but the prayer of the penitent, & of such as walke before him in holinesse and righteousnesse. The Prophet teacheth, that he will fulfill the desires of them that feare him, 1 Tim. 28. he will heare their prayers also, and saue them: as if he should say, theirs and no others. The Apostle willeth, that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. Iam. 5.16. Thus also another teacheth, that the prayers of a righteous man availeth much. If then it be not the prayer of a righteous man, it is not the prayer of faith, and without faith it is unpossible to please God, Heb 11.6.

The reasons are many that shew the causes wherefore God regardeth not a wicked mans prayer. Reas. 1 Ioh. 9.31. For first God heareth no sinners, Ioh. 9 but if any be a worshipper of God and doth his will, him he heareth. Secondly, sinne separe­teth [Page 119]from God, and divideth between him and us, Esay. 59.2. 2 King. 4.40 and de­fileth all our prayers. This the Prophet teacheth, Your ini­quities have separated you and your God, and your sinnes have hid his face from you, that he will not heare. As then the children of the Prophets, having gathered wild gourds, cryed out, there is death in the pot: so when we mingled our prayer with the sowre herbes of iniquity; 3 we may cry out, death is in our prayer. Thirdly, our persons must please God, before our Prayers can be accepted. Gen 4.5. Mal 1.8. & 3.3. God had no respect to the person of Caine, because he was of that evill one and came in hypocrisie into his presence, and therefore he accepted not his offering; but unto Ab [...]l and Tit. 1.15. to his offering he had respect: so the Apostle teacheth, that to the pure all things are pure, but unto them that are de­filed and unbeeving, is nothing pure, but even their mind and conscience is defiled.

To apply these things to our selues: Ʋse 1 First it teacheth that the prayer of the wicked is abominable before him: the ungodly are not accepted in his sight. If we incline our hearts to wickednesse, the Lord will not heare us, Psal. 66. Psal 66.18. nay the more we pray, the more we sinne, if we be im­penitent. Therefore the prayers of such are abominable as Solomon teacheth in many places. He assureth us, that the sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, Pro 15.29. & 28. [...]. but the prayer of the upright is his delight: and after, the Lord is farre from the wicked, but he heareth the prayer of the righteous: and chap. 28. he that turneth away his eare from hearing the Law, even his prayer shall be abomination. Albeit such may and do often cry in his eares with a loud voyce, Ezek. 8.18. yet he will not heare them, Ezek. The wicked therefore are out of hope of obtaining for their comfort the things that they pray for: nay they farther provoke God to the con­fusion of their faces by their mock-prayers: This an­swereth an objection which the wicked may make: God hath commanded us to pray, and hath promised to heare [Page 120]us: Ob. we obey and yet we are not heard. I answer, God never commanded thee to pray, Answ. God never commanded a wicked man to pray. he never made promise, nor halfe a promise, nor peece of a promise to a wicked mans prayer, so long as he continueth so. Search the whole booke of God, and tell me where the Commande­ment or promise is to be found? I can produce a thou­sand curses against the soule of the ungodly, and where he expres [...]y threatneth he will not heare them, and that his prayer is abominable: but I cannot find either Com­mandement for the ungodly to pray, or comfort for them that they shall be heard and helped in their prayer. He that bringeth his gift to the Altar and there remembreth his brother hath ought against him, Math. 5.23.24. must leave his gift before it and goe his way to be first reconciled to his brother: and ought not they when they come to pray before the Lord, the searcher of all hearts, and remember the Lord hath a controversie against them, leave his worship for a time and go first to be reconciled to him, and that much more, before they presume to call upon him with their wicked hearts? How many are there, that thinke it enough to come to the house of prayer, as if there were some vertue or inherent holinesse in the place! but be not deceived, when we tread in the Lords Courts, if we leave not our sinnes behind us, we were better leave our selues behind also: forasmuch as he that maketh prayer without re­pentance, is as if he mingled wholesome meat with ranke poyson.

Secondly, 2 it behoveth us to love the righteous and esteeme well of them, because such God heareth, and they are much beloved of God. For though they be little in their owne eyes, yet are they highly regarded of him, and much in his favour. And though they be never so poore in the sight of the world, they are in truth and in Gods account greater then any worldling! nay one of them, the least, the lowest, the simplest is in more estima­tion [Page 121]with him, then all the world of the ungodly: Heb. 11.38. These are such as the Apostle speaketh off, Heb. 11. The world was not worthy of them. They are the favorites of the king of heaven, the King of Kings, and have free accesse to him at all times, which no man can have to earthly Princes. How great an honour is it in Princes Courts to have an easie entrance to come into their presence, and to be in their favour, that they hold out their golden Septer unto them! but how much grearer dignity is it to have re­course to the Almighty, and whensoever we will to put up our petitions before him with assurance to be heard? As therefore we have benefit by the prayers of the faith­full whom God accepteth; so we are bound to love them by whom we have such benefit.

Lastly, 3 from hence comfort and encouragement ariseth to the Godly to pray often, and as the Lords remem­brancers to give him no rest, seeing they have promise of good successe. He will not be wanting unto us, if we be not wanting to our selues. Let us joyne repentance unto our prayer, and he will joyne helping to his hearing: but if we separate our repen­tance from our requestes, he may well heare us, but we may not looke for deliverance or acceptance at his hands. If then we turne unto him, we may be well assured he will turne unto us. Great is the force of true prayer, but it must be seasoned and sharpned with repentance; if both these go together, like a bird that flyeth with both winges, they ascend up to heaven, and his blessings de­scend to the earth and fall upon our heads, as a shower of raine that falleth upon the ground, and maketh it f [...]uitfull. Prayer without repentance is like a Dove that flyeth with one wing, or like a cripple that halteth with one foote: happy are they that joyne them to­gether as it were to draw in one yoke. Hence it is that the Apostle knitteth them in one, Act. 8. Repent of wicked­nesse, [Page 122]and pray unto God. What had his repentance avai­led him without prayer, or his prayer without repen­tance? as therefore both are commanded, so both of them must be practised of us.

Let them turne every one.) Doct. Marke in the next place the generality of the Commandement. Repentance belongeth to the naturall man, who must turne to God. Repentance is shew­ed to belong to all of them. These men were meere car­nall and naturall men, such as were not regenerate by the Spirit of God. This teacheth us, to whom repen­tance belongeth, that the naturall man, not yet called, must repent and turne unto God. True it is, the rege­nerate must repent also, because he hath many corrupti­ons remaining in him, and he sinneth daily: the image of God, in which man was created, was lost in a little space; yet to repaire it againe perfectly, requireth the whole time of mans life: as houses may be overturned in an instant, (as the house that fell upon Iobs children, Iob. 1.19.) which are long in building againe. The regenerate man therefore must still exercise repentance; howbeit properly this is renewed repentance, rather then the first act of repentance: and a proceeding in it unto perfecti­on, then the first beginning of our conversion. The point then to be considered in this example is that the naturall man hath need of repentance. Math. 3.2. This Iohn the Baptist prea­ched, Act. 2.23.38. Repent for the kingdome of God is at hand. Thus Peter exhorted the Iewes, that with wicked hands had taken and crucified the Lord of life, to repent and to be bap­tized in his name. 2 Tim. 2.25. So the man of God is charged to in­struct with meekenesse the contrary minded, if God per­adventure will g [...]ve them repentance.

The reasons hereof are plaine. Reas. 1 First the naturall man cannot enter into Gods kingdome, Ioh. 3.5. except he be borne again. It is as unpossible for a man unregenerate to possesse the joyes of heaven, as it is for a Camell to goe through the eye of a needle: The penitent person hath the gate of the [Page 123]kingdome set wide open to him, but no other. For such as have not the spirit of God are none of his. Secondly such are nothing else but a lumpe of sinne; no one part good in them, their consciences are impure, Tit. 1. Repentance is the life of a sinner: without this we are as a dead man that can stirre neither hand nor foot Eph. 2.1. By nature we beare the image of Satan, and are more like to him then any child is to his father, or can be. Let us come to the uses.

This teacheth us that this present life is the time of our repentance. Ʋse 1 Let us make peace with God and be reconciled unto him, while we are yet in the way. It had been to late for these Ninevites to think of repen­tance, when desolation had come upon them as a whirle­wind, as it fell out with the old world, and the men of So [...]ome. We are here travailers, when once our journey is at an end by death, there is no place of turning from our evill wayes. While it is day we may worke Ioh. 9. There is no working in the night, when death taketh us away. The day of judgement is called the day of the Lord, because then he taketh an account, Rom. 2.6. 2 Cor. 5.10. and payeth men their wages, Rom. 2.6. and giveth them their reward according to their workes: for we must all appeare before the judgement seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad, 2 Cor. 5.10. Hence it is that the Apostle exhorteth us to heare his voyce to day, not at our owne leysure or pleasure. To day is Gods voyce: to morrow is the Devils language: to day, is Gods per­swasion: to morrow, is the Devils perswasion. We know that Manna was gathered upon the sixe dayes, but none the Sabbath, the day of rest from our labours: so upon the sixe dayes, of our life the heavenly Manna of faith in Christ and of repentance from dead workes may be gathered, but when the day commeth that we must rest [Page 124]from our labours, faith and repentance are ceased. True it is, some went out to seeke Manna upon the Sabboth, but they found none: so the foolish virgins sought oyle for their lampes, but they found none, Math. 25. The life to come is the time of recompence, not of repentance: of wages, not of working: of judgment not of judging of our selues. 2 Secondly, they are reprooved, that thinke either of themselues, or of others that they need no repentance at al [...] because they liue unblamably, civilly, and uprightly. For what will it availe? all their civill cariage, that they love the Church, formally frequent the word and Sacraments, live in peace with their neighbours, defraud no man, op­presse no man, pay every man his due; all this outward honesty is farre from inward piety; and being without faith and repentance, it is no better before God then a beautifull sinne; Luk. 16.15. Math. 5.20. and albeit it be highly esteemed among men, it is abominable in the sight of God. And therefore to such our Saviour saith, Except your righteousnesse shall exceede the righteousnesse of the Scr [...]bes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdome of heaven, Ob. Math. 5. But it may be objected upon the words of the Evangelist. Luk. 15.7. There shall be more joy in heaven over one sinner that converteth, then over ninety and nine just persons that need no amendment of life: where our Saviour speaketh as though some were so righteous, that it was needlesse and superfluous for them to repent. Answ. I answer, the Scripture vseth to speake two wayes; sometimes simply, sometimes comparatively or respectively. As the faithfull sometimes are said to be a great company; and sometimes a little flocke; many considered in themselves, few compared with the rest: So there are none in themselves so just that they need not re­pent, for there is none righteous, no not one: but if we respect men already called, and understand the words spoken comparatively in respect of sinners uncalled that never repented, it is certaine they need not so much re­pentance [Page 125]as other: as an house well repaired, will not need, so much repairing, as that which hath beene let runne to decay and was never repaired. For our Saviour having expressed the joy conceived by finding of the lost groate and the stray sheepe, he enlargeth it by an unequall com­parison, wherein it is compared with the joy which is conceived for them that are now righteous and already converted, as it were the greater with the losse. True it is some understand the words as spoken of the Angels, who need no returning to God, because they never turned from him: others, of the Scribes and Pharisees Hypo­crites, Luk. 18.9. who thought themselues righteous men and despised others, of whom our Saviour saith, Math. 9.12.13. The whole need not a Physitian, but they that are sicke: and againe, I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Howbeit the first interpretation seemeth to me to be most proper and naturall according best with the words of our Saviour in other places.

Lastly, 3 it is the duty of naturall men to use the meanes appointed of God to bring them to repentance. Happy are all such as have repented, they are entred into the way of Salvation, and have one foot in heaven. On the other side, they lye in the state of damnation, that have not wrought in them a true conversion. It behoveth them therefore to learne and consider, how God hath ordained to bring us to repentance. The Apostle teacheth that we are borne againe, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, 1 Pet. 1.23. by the word of God which liveth and abideth for ever. It is a common thing for every one to boast of repentance, but how came they to attaine unto it? for they regard not the word, the law they account too bitter a Pill to swallow and the Gospel or grace of God they turne into wanton­nesse. It is the voyce of our Saviour, Except ye repent, Luk. 13.3.5. ye shall all likewise perish: but if the repentance of every one ware measured by their conscience to the word, I feare [Page 126]we should not have much repentance found among us. When the Prophet had threatned Nebuchad-nezzar, Dan. 4.25.27 that he should be driven from men, and have his dwelling with the beastes of the field, he counselled him to breake off his sinnes by righteousnesse, and his iniquities by shewing mercy to the poore, as the meanes and ready way to lengthen his tranquillity: so may I say to all naturall men, that have their dwelling, shall I say, with the beasts? nay with the Devill and his Angels, who rule in them: let my counsel be acceptable to you, hearken to the word, be swift to heare it, let it dwell plentifully in you, and be doers and practisers of it, that ye may feele the power of it being conuerted by it, and so glorifie God in the day of your visitation.

Turne every one from his evill wayes.) Here is the substance of the Kings Proclamation, wherein one thing is expres­sed, and under it an other is comprehended. For it is [...]o: onely required of us to turne from evill, Doct. but to returne to the Lord and to do good. Repentance stands in tur­ning from our euill wayes to God. This teacheth the nature of true repentance, that it standeth in turning from our evill wayes to God. For the better understanding of this point, we must obserue, why it is called a turning, and what manner of turning repentance is. The Metaphor of tur­ning is drawne from a traveiler in the way, who missing the path and going astray, hath no remedy but he must come backe againe, and returne into the right way, if ever he intend to attaine the end of his journey. This unproper speech is very proper to expresse the nature of repentance because we are all traveylers toward heaven, we are all gone farre out of the way, like sheepe going a stray from the fold, therefore we must turne backe againe, and as we were going to hell, so we must turne our feet toward heaven: and as we have turned our backes to God, so we must set our faces toward him. This is repentance. And touching the manner of turning, we must obserue there [Page 127]are foure sortes, of substance, of quantity, of place, of qua­lity. Change of substance, is when one substance is changed into an other, as Lots wife was turned into a Piller of salt, Gen. 19. Gen. 19.26. Exod. 4.3. Ioh. 2.9. The rod into a Serpent and the Ser­pent into a rodde, Exod. 4.3.4. And water into wine at the feast in Canna of Galilee, Ioh. 2. But repentance is not such a change, because before and after repentance our substance is the same; we have the same bodies, and the same soules. Change of quantity is either by encreasing or diminishing, as when Christ fed five thousand men with five loaves and two fishes, Math. 14.15. and 15.32. and foure thousand with seven loaves and a few little fishes: but repentance is not such a change by encreasing from few sinnes to moe, or from lesser to grea­ter; neither contrary wise a diminishing from moe to few, or from greater to lesser, but rather this is a turning from one sinne to another: whereas true repentance is a turning from all sinne to God in our whole life. Change of place or local mutation, when we passe out of one place into another, as Peter out of prison into a place of liberty Act. 12. But repentance is not such a change, because a sinner may change his soile, and not his soule: he may go from place to place, yea from Countrey to Countrey and change ayre, yet not let go one of his sinnes: as a sicke man doth, he may change his chaire, and his Chamber, and be carried from bed to bed, but this cannot free him from his sicknesse and restore him to his former health: so it is with sinne. Change in quality, is, when things change from once condition to another, as when the leper was clensed, or the dead raised. Such a change is repen­tance, when new qualities or properties or put into the soul and body, when they are altered from unrighteousnesse to righteousnesse, from all sinne to the living God. In this the nature of true repentance consisteth, as Hos. 6.1. & 14.2. Ezek. 18.30.32. & 36.26. Ier. 4.1. Luk. 1. Act. 26.20. in which places repentance is expounded to be a turning [Page 128]to God & a doing of workes meete for amendment of life. In this turning obserue these particulars, first, it is a tur­ning of the whole man, both of soule and body, both of the outward man and the inward, Iam. 4. Secondly, it must be constant and continued, not flitting or starting backe like a deceitfull bow, or vanishing like the morning dew, Hos. 6.4. Thirdly, It must be a turning from all sin to God, for one knowne sinne wherein we live without resistance separateth from God as well as many, Dev [...]. 30.2. Ier. 4.4.

This appeareth first because the word here used im­porteth that we are gone out of our way; Reas. 1 we would travail toward heaven, and we take the right course that leadeth to hell: we would seeme desirous of Salvation, but we go in the broad way that bringeth to destruction: Math. 7.13. we make as though we would go to God, 2 and we follow af­ter the Devill, Math. 7. Secondly, we were made accor­ding to the image of God in holinesse and true righteous­nesse, Eph. 4. and had fellowship with God: man deligh­ting in his Creator, & the Creator in his creature: but sin hath turned all upside down: man had no sooner fallen & transgressed, Gen. 3.8.10. but he fled from the presence of God, as an evill servant from his Master, or a malefactor from the judge for feare of punishment, and was afraid of his comming into the Garden. Thus we became the children of wrath, Eph. Eph. 2.3 & 4.18. 2.3. But when once we have grace to repent, then we begin to repaire and recover the image of God, and to be reconciled to him againe. Repentance therefore is as a miracle of the Gospel, the quickning of a dead man, and the raising of him up from death to life, or as the reedi­fying and repayring of a royall Pallace that was fairely builded, but foully battered and decayed. The image of God is as a faire Pallace, the transgression of man is as the ruine thereof: repentance is nothing else but a raising a­gain of that image, which is to be done all the dayes of our [Page 129]life. This is in a manner a miraculous worke in regard of the greatnesse of our fall, that in regard of our spirituall estate which we recover, we may say as Math. 11.5. Math. 11.5. The blind receive their sight, the lame walke, the leaprs are clensed, the deafe heare, and the dead are raised up to life. Happy are we if this spirituall miracle be wrought upon us.

Let us apply these things to our selues. First, Ʋse 1 hereby it appeareth, The first re­proofe. that many men are greatly deceived both in the doctrine and practise of repentance; in the doctrine, because they thinke that to be, which is not repentance: and in the practise: because they perswade themselues that they have it, when indeed they want it. Some are so silly and sotish, that they presume they need it not, and that it belongeth not at all to them, no more then physicke to a whole or sonnd man, or a plaister to him that hath neither wound nor hurt: like the young man in the Gospel, Math. 19.20. All this have I done from my youth up, what lacke I yet? or like such as suppose Christ came not to call them, but other notorious sinners. Others slight and slubber over this matter with a little sorrow and sighing with Esau, Ahab, and Iudas, and if they live and have leisure to say, Lord, have mercy upon us; like those that in the end of the world shall say, Lord, Lord, open unto us; they thinke they shall undoubtedly be saved, never remembring the words of our Saviour, Not every one that sayth unto me, Lord, Math. 7.21. Lord shall enter into the kingdome of heaven, but he that doth the will of my father which is in heaven. Secondly, The second reproofe. it condem­neth all wretched and prophane persons, that lie wallow­ing and weltering in their sinnes, like Swine in the mire, or dogges in their vomit; who as they were once, so they are still. They were horrible swearers and com­mon blasphemers, so they are still. They were scoffers and scorners, mockers, and deriders of all good things, and all good men, so they are still, they are no changelings. They [Page 130]were contemners of Gods word, and prophaners of his holy Sabboths, so they are still. They were drunkards and filthy livers, ignorant and blind in matters of faith and religion, so they are still. Are these humble and re­pentant sinners? do these turne to God? where you saw them long a goe, and where you left them twenty or thirty yeares a goe, there you shall be sure to finde them, never a whit changed, unlesse happily from evill to worse. But let such marke how it hath beene with other penitents, and in them behold themselues as in aglasse, I meane Paul, the woman of Samaria, Lydia, the jaylour, Zacheus, the Iewes that crucified Christ the Lord of life. Let him that talketh of Repentance, boasteth of it, and chalengeth it to himselfe even for his owne assurance, shew the like fruites in himselfe: for it worketh such a change and alteration, that both our selues and others may discerne it as easily, as light from darknesse. So then as the Apostle saith, Shew me thy faith by thy workes: Iam. 2.18. so may I say, shew me thy re­pentance by thy change? For what shall it profit a man to say he hath repentance, when he hath no friutes? can such a repentance comfort him? The third re­proofe. Thirdly, it condemneth civill men that remaine in the state of nature, and glory in their outward vertues, that they are alwayes the same, but these glory in their owne shame. These cannot say they are become new creatures, they cannot say they were ever borne againe: yet without the new birth they cannot enter into the kingdome of heaven. Ioh 3.3. They cannot say, Old things are passed away, 2 Cor 5.17. behold all thinges are made new; yet no other are in Christ, and made members of his body. Such civill men, that content themselues with civill honesty, and have nothing, wherein to rejoyce but na­ture, stand as yet in a dangerous and damnable estate, nei­ther can they come out of it, untill they begin to deny themselues, and to loath and detest even these outward vertues, forsamuch as the trust and confidence in them [Page 131]is no better then a selfe deceiving.

Secondly, it serveth for information in other truthes. 2 First that no sinne is great and heinous, but there is place for repentance, if they can repent. This was the end of Christes comming, to call sinners to repentance; Math. 9.13. he sayth sinners without exception. This we see in Manasses, a Sor­cerer, an Idolater, a murtherer, and almost what not? yet he humbled himselfe, and obtained mercy according as he prayed, 2 Chr. 33. 2 Chro. 33.19 Paul confesseth that he was sometimes a blasphemer, and a persecutour, and an oppressour, yet he obtained mercy because he did it ignorantly in unbeleefe. 1 Tim. 1.13. 1 Tim. 1. The conspirators against Christ and his king­dome are called to kisse, that is, Psal. 2.12. to embrace and obey him and his doctrine; and accordingly they which shed his blood by murthering of him did drinke his blood by be­leeving him, Act. 2. Act. 2.37. A singular comfort for such as feele the burden of their sinnes lying heavy upon their consci­ences, that they goe mourning all the day long, and cannot lift up their heads to God, unto such the Lord speaketh, Esay. 1. Come, let us reason together, Esay. 1.16. if ye will wash and clense your hearts, though your sinnes were as red as crimsin, they shall be made white as wooll. And Christ our Saviour calleth such as are heavy laden, Math. 11.28. and promiseth to give them rest, Math. 11. Sinne often bringeth us to the brimme or border of hell, but it cannot bring us so low, but Christ Iesus is able to bring us backe and to raise us vp againe by repentance. Secondly, there in no sinne so small and little, though it seeme in our eyes as a more, but it is able to bring to hell, and therefore craveth repentance. The world of naturall men judgeth, that repentance is proper to none but to heinous and hideous sinnes, as murther, theft, periury, treason, rebellion, whordome, and such like, and that if they be free from the outward act of these, they justifie themselues like the Pharisee, and thinke re­pentance belongeth not to them: as for others, if they [Page 132]have any, they hope to be dispenced with all. It is no­thing so with Gods children, they have beene touched to the heart for such sinnes as the world taketh no notice off and never sticketh at, as for the evill which appeareth in their best workes, that they cannot do them as they would, but infirmities creepe upon them and defile them; not onely for committing evill, but for omitting good things: Rev. 2.4.5. the Church of Ephesus is called to repentance for leaving their first love; they watch over their idle thoughts, and idle words; Gen 6.5. remembring that every imagination of the heart is onely evill continually; and the threatning of Christ, that for every idle word that men shall speake, Math. 12.36. they shall give account thereof at the day of judgement: Davids heart was smitten for cutting off the lappe of Sauls garment privily, 1 Sam. 24.4. 1 Sam. 24. Every thing is layd to heart of Gods children, which he hath softned by the touch of his holy spirit by giving unto them an heart of flesh: they will be troubled for the least sinnes, accounting no sinne little, which is committed against so great a God, which offendeth so holy a law, which deserveth eternall death as the just wages thereof, and brought Christ Iesus from the bosome of his Father to suffer death for them: and lastly they are grieved & touched to the quick: because they encrease not in grace according to the good meanes and occasions that God hath given, knowing that the more is given and committed unto them, the more is required at their hands and the streighter shall their account be.

Lastly, 3 let us examine our selues, whether we be tur­ned from evill to good, and from the power of Satan to God. This will appeare by these signes and tokens. First there is a turning of the heart upward to heaven, and a fastning of the eye upon God, that it may be sayd of every true repentant, that his behaviour is as of one that is journying & going up to the heavenly Ierusalem the mo­ther of us all: Luk. 9.53. as it is said of our Saviour that his face was [Page 133]as though he would go to Ierusalem: Phil. 3.20. So our conuersation must be in heaven, and our whole life a travelling thither, and a wandering in the wildernesse of this world, untill we be brought into the true Canaan that is aboue. But if the hearts of all were tried by this rule, it would shew how little repentance is in the world, when in all our thoughts, workes, and employments we are carried wholly downe­ward, which way will bring us to hell in the end: foras­much as we have prophane hearts, not savauring the things that are of God like prophane Esau. Secondly, we grow every day better and better, when once we are truly turned unto God. True it is, repentance taketh not away all fayling and falling, neither freeth us from all sliding and slipping of the foot, and albeit we stumble and fall, we walke not from God, but toward him and rise againe. The penitent person is like to a man that walketh up an high hill, though he have many fals & slips, yet still he is said to go up the hil, because his face is toward the top of the hil: nay his falles make him more wary and heedfull; so it is with the faithfull, he may take a fall, The faithfull make profit by their falles. & with the fall defile himselfe, yet he taketh profit by it, and becommeth more circumspect and every fall helpeth him one step toward the kingdome of heaven. Thirdly, marke how repentance changeth us, and altereth our hearts from time to time, how sinne weakneth, decayeth, and dieth in us; on the other side how grace and Godlinesse encrease and streng­then in us, Philem. 10.11 and how we grow in love with righteousnesse that we may say as Paul doth of. Onesimus once unprofita­ble, now profitable; and of the Corinthians, 1 Cor. 6.11. Such were some of you, but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified. But if we find no steppes, no degrees or proceedings in good things, we may justly suspect our selues, that we are not yet truly turned. This is a certaine and infallible rule, repentance and continuance in sinne in our old wicked courses cannot possibly stand together.

Lastly, whether it have wrought a through change in us, 1 Thess. 5.23 2 Cor. 7.1. that our spirit, and soule, and body be presented blamelesse unto the comming of our Lord Iesus Christ. Many content themselves to give the halfe turne, like Agrippa, Act. 26. These turne up and downe as the dore upon the hinges, so these are here and there, but it is in their sinne, and are as farre from God as before. Or they turne from sinne, as Lots wife did go out of Sodome, she went forward for a while, but shee had an eye still looking backe toward Sodome. Or else they turne as the wheele that ever is in motion, but at night it abideth where it was before: for they are ever the same men, their turning is without turning, they are alwayes the same without any change.

9 Who can tell if God will turne and repent, and turne a­way from his fierce anger, thas we perish not.

In these words we have the reason, wherefore they fasted, prayed, and repented. It is not a speech of infideli­ty, for then it should not be said before, they beleeved; and doubtlesse they would here have concluded, God will not returne though we returne to him; and he will not repent of the evill threatned, though we repent of our evill practises: and if they had fallen into utter desperation, they would not have cryed at all unto God, much lesse mightily, as they are commanded to do.

This verse containeth three things, feeling, feare, and faith. First a feeling or sense of sinne. Secondly, a feare of judgement. Thirdly, hope of deliverance. It is to be suppo­sed, that albeit they doubted of the issue of the sentence, as a thunder-bolt throwne out against them, yet not of the fa­vour of God toward them, neither of his receiving of them, to mercy in the next life; albeit they should perish according to the flesh, yet their soules should be saved in the day of the Lord. For if they had beene overthrowne [Page 135]and destroyed, though it had been with fire and brimstone from heaven as Sodome and Gomorrah were; yet had it beene no argument of their eternall condemnation and dying out of Gods favour: because punishment suffered cannot prove a man to be rejected, no more then it did Moses, who never came into the land of promise: because he had provoked God to wrath, Numb. 20.12. and sanctifie him not in the eyes of the children of Israel. Besides, no man can be eter­nally condemned, which hath truly repented; he may be chastised, but he cannot be accursed. So then, here was faith and feare mingled together in the same persons as it were wine and water in one vessell. A true faith, but a little and weake faith which they found and felt in them­selues, like the father of the possessed, who professed his faith, but withall confessed the weaknesse of his faith, Mark. 9. Lord, I beleeue, helpe thou mine unbeleefe. Mark. 9.24. Math. 6.30. and 8.26 and 14.31. Rom. 4.19. 2 Cor. 10.15. Rom. 4.20 Col. 1.23 and 2.7.5. Heb. 10.27. Act. 6.5.8. There are degrees of faith, a little faith, a doubting faith, a weake faith; the Apostle also speaketh of an encreasing faith, 2 Cor. 10 We read of a strong faith, Rom. 4.20. of growing in faith, 2 Thess. 1.3. Or of abounding in faith, 2 Cor. 8.7. of a faith grounded and setled, Col. 1.23. rooted, built up and esta­blished, chap. 2.7. of the stedfastnes of faith, 5. of the assurance of faith. Heb. 10.22. and of the fulnesse of faith, Act. 6.5.8. But whatsoever titles it hath, the strongest faith and deepest rooted is mingled with doubtfulnesse, like the ayre overcast with cloudes, or a ship beaten with stormes and tempestes, Luk. 22. Such was the faith of these Nine­vites, doubting, but not despairing: shaken, but not cast downe: tossed with waues, but not suffering shipwracke: because as they feared his judgements, so they hoped for his mercies, and beleeved that their sinnes were pardona­ble, which is the first step and degree of faith. This was in the Prodigall sonne, when he resolved to goe to his father, Luk. 15.18. and confesse he had sinned against heaven and against him, and was no more worthy to be called his sonne, when as [Page 136]yet he felt not his offences already pardoned. This was in the Ninevites in this place, The meaning of the words. they conceive a good hope of God albeit he threatned them, and beleeve that his wrath may be appeased, when they say, Who can tell if God will re­turne? and therefore some doubting was joyned with it, as, Ioel. 2.14. Ioel. 2.14. Who knoweth if he will returne and leave a blessing behind him? 2 Sam. 12.22. and 2 Sam. 12.22. Who can tell whether God will have mercy on me, that the child m [...]y live? So like­wise Ester. Ester. 4.14. 4.14. Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdome for such a time as this? So then this phrase is used in matters not fully certaine and manifest unto them, but in such as are doubtfull. Object. Againe, when the Prophet saith, God will repent; the question may be asked, how repen­tance can agree to God, Tit. 1.2. who is by nature unchangable and cannot lye, Tit. 1.2! Especially considering we find Scripture to affirme, 1 Sam. 15.29. The strength of Israel will not lye nor repent, for he is not a man that he should repent, 1 Sam 15.29 yet before it was said, it repented him that he had set up Saul to be king? how are these things to be reconciled? I Answer, Answ. the Scripture speaketh of God two wayes, sometimes properly, and sometimes unproperly: proper­ly it agreeth not to God: because in him is no change, nor shadow of turning: unproperly it may, by the figure An­thropopatheja, which is an attributing or ascribing unto God, the parts, properties, passions, and affections of men, the more lively to represent the things spoken off before our eyes. So then, it is a borrowed speech from men, in God it is a change of his worke, not of his will, as Gen. Gen. 6.6. 6. it repented God that he had made man, that is, he purposed to destroy man whom before he had made. From hence we learne, where true faith is to apprehend and be­leeve the truth and certainty of Gods threatnings, Doct. there is a feare of judgements to come. Faithworketh a feare of Gods judgments. Faith worketh feare, and feare often worketh faith. This we see in these Ni­nevites; they beleeved God, and proclaimed a fast, and [Page 137]therefore they feared the dreadfull sentence published and pronounced against them. This appeareth in the com­mendation of the faith of Noah, Heb 11.7. Heb. 11.7. He being endued with a justifying and saving faith, is also touched with feare and reverence at the consideration of Gods judgements to come. So it was with Iehoshaphat, he beleeved the Prophets; 2 Chro. 20.3. and therefore he feared and set his heart to seeke the Lord, 2 Cor. 20. See the further practise of this in Hezekiah, Ier. Ier. 26.18.19. 26. Micah the Morashite prophesied and spake to all the peo­ple of Iudah, Thus saith the Lord of hostes, Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Ierusalem shall become heapes: did Hezekiah the king of Iudah, and all Iudah put him to death? did he not feare the Lord and besought the Lord, and the Lord repented him of the evill which he had pronounced against them? 2 King. 22.19. The like we see in Iosiah, 2 King. 22. when he heard the plagues and curses that should come upon Ierusalem, his heart was tender, he trembled himselfe before God; and when he heard the wordes against that place, he rent his cloathes and wept before him. The reasons are evident.

First, God hath coupled both these together, Reas. 1 and ther­fore whosoever beleeveth his threatnings cannot but feare the evils threatned. He that apprehendeth the wrath of a Prince to be as the roaring of a Lyon, cannot but tremble; it cannot but worke in him feare, Amos. 3. Amos. 3.6. Can a trumpet be blowne in the Citty, and the people not be afraid? Secondly, faith maketh things unseene to be seene, Heb. 11.1. Heb. 11.1.1 [...]. For it is the evidence of things me sinne [...]s Moses by faith saw him that is invisible, vers. 27. and Noah [...]aw the worlds destruction as present, though it [...] an hundred and twenty yeares before it came, and [...] it.

But it may be objected, Object. the faithfull is not afraid of any euill [...]idings, for his heart is fixed, and beleeveth in the Lord, Psal. 112.7. and therefore faith expelleth all feare: I answer, the words of the Psalme teach the contrary, Answ. Blessed is the man that feareth God: and therefore to cl [...]re this [Page 138]seeming-contradiction, we must observe a two-fold feare; as also care, a distrustfull feare, and an awefull or reverent feare. The distrustfull feare argueth want of faith in God: the awefull feare maketh us seeke to God and to fly to his mercy. But where the true faith is, it expelleth and driveth out distrust, Psal. 133.18. & 147.11. and therefore the Prophet ioyneth these two together, Psal. 133 The eye of the Lord is upon them that feare him, that trust in his mercy: and 147.11. the Lord delighteth in them that feare him, that hope in his mercy.

Behold the true cause, Ʋse 1 why there is so little feare of God in the world and of his judgments, though immi­nent and ready to fall, nay present and already fallen. We never had more cause to feare generall judgments in re­gard of the generall corruptions and floods of wicked­nesse that overflow in all places: yet never more security, never lesse feare. And what is the cause? because there is so little faith: Math. 24.37. as Christ our Saviour sheweth, that iniquity should abound in the last dayes, and men mind nothing else but their profits and pleasures, as they did when the flood came and swept them all away at once: disobedience to the word proceeding from infidelity was the cause of that cause. 1 Thess 5. For when they shall say, peace, peace suddaine, de­struction shall come upon them, as paines upon a woman in tra­vaile, and they shall not escape. These shall make a mocke of the last judgment, and never feare it, untill they feele it. These may be sent to schoole to Ahab, to Iudas, the sonne of perdition, nay to the Devils themselues: for they have not so much faith as Ahab had, 1 King. 21.27. not so much as Iudas had, Luk. 18.8. Math. 27.3.5. not so much as the Devils, Iam. 2.19. who beleeve and tremble where as the ungodly beleeve not, and therefore tremble not: but they would, if they beleeved onely so much as the Devils do. How then can prophaine persons escape the torments of Hell, who come farre short of these that are already in hell? and how fearefull an estate is it to be condem­ned [Page 139]of such, as be condemned themselues?

Secondly, see the difference betweene Gods children, 2 and carnall or worldly men: these are quite contrary the one to the other, as light and darknesse; and as farre distant as heaven and hell. Hic ubiopus est none verentur: illic, ubt nihil opus est, the verentur. Te­rent. Andr. act. 4. seen 1. When Gods judgements are threatned, and men warned to take heed and looke to themselues, they do feare least of all who have most cause, and whom they most neerely concerne, and they on the other side most of all, whom they concerne. We see this in the old world evidently and expresly: for whom did the threatning of the drowning and destruction ther­of most neerly touch and concerne? Doubtlesse the diso­bedient world of the ungodly. But they feared least, nay nothing at all; they ranne on in their worldly and wicked courses, till the flood came and swept them away. Whom did the threatning least of all concerne, as being in least danger to be drowned? Surely Noah, and his family, for whom the Arke was prepeared: but they feared most of all. Nay Gods children oftentimes feare for the wicked, Psal. 119.53.136.158. when they feare not for themselues, as Psal. 119.53.136.158. as they pray for them, when they pray not for them­selues, and desire their conuersion, when they minde no­thing lesse. The Prophet was greeved for them, when they were not greeved for themselues. 2 Cor. 12.21. So it is said by the Apostle, God will humble me among you, and I shall bewaile many which have sinned, and have not repented of the sinnes committed: the more sorry he was for them, the lesse sorry they were for themselues. These are like drunken men that dread nothing, because all their wit is gone to dis­cerne of danger; or like little children, that feare not the fire till they be burned, Pro. 20.11. nor the candle till they be singed with it. As Pro. 20.11. even a child is knowne by his doings, whether his worke be pure and whether it be right.

Lastly, it behoveth us to examine our owne hearts, 3 The trials of a true faith. whe­ther we have true faith or not. But how shall we try and [Page 140]prove our selues? 1 let these be the trials. First, if our faith be not fruitlesse and barren but worke in us love and hatred, joy and greefe, hope and feare. If this faith be in us, it will make us that we shall not be idle or unfruitfull in the knowledge of our Lord Iesus Christ. It will make to a [...]ound in us both the love of God and our brethren, and of good things, and the hatred of evill: both joy to see Religion florish, and greeve to see God dishonoured: both hope of everlasting life, and feare to offend the ever­living God. That faith which swimmeth in the braine, & descendeth not to the bottome of the heart is no found faith, but in shew and shadow onely, a dead and counter­feite f [...]ith. 2 Secondly, it is sound, if it make us stand in feare of his judgments executed upon others, like children that shake and quiver when the father correcteth any of their brethren; nay of the seruants of the house: so it is with the children of God, they feare and lay it to heart when he chasteneth his Church or any of his own people nay the ungodly and prophane persons of the world: they by and by looke upon themselues, and examine their own wayes to see whether they be not guilty of the same sinnes. 2 Sam. 6.6.7.9. This appeareth in David, when the Lord in his anger smote Vzzah for his errour, that he died by the Arke of God, because he put forth his hand and tooke hold of it when the Oxen shooke it, be feared God exceedingly that day. What? did he nor feare the Lord before? Yes doubt­lesse; but exceedingly at that time, when he saw a visible example of his wrath before his eyes: and this also made him say, Psal 19.120 my flesh trembleth for feare of thee, and I am afraid of thy judgment. This the Evangelist sheweth Act. 5. when Ananias and Sapph [...]ra were suddainly smittendown with suddaine death, Act. 5.11. feare came upon the whole Church, and upon all th [...]se that heard of it. If it be the property of the child of God to tremble at his word, Esay. 66.2. Esay. 66. as the heart of Iosi [...]h melted for feare at the hearing of the Ia [...]v, 2 [Page 141] King. 22. Because a reproofe entreth more into a wise man, then an hundred stripes into a Foole, Pro. 17. Pro. 17.10. how much more at his rods, at his scourges, and at the drawing and shaking of his glittering sword, when his hand layeth hold on judgment? like the child at the sight of his fa­thers rod? So the Prophet, Hab. 3.2 16. when he heard of the judg­ments of the Lord, was afraid, his belly trembled, his lippes quivered at the voice, rottennesse entred into his bones, and he trembled in himselfe. This feare of Gods anger is a worke of grace in the heart. Thirdly, 3 if the feare of his judg­ments be an effectuall meanes preventing in us the feeling of them. They that feare most now, shall have least cause to feare hereafter, and contrary wise such as feare least now when they are called to feare shall be suddainly overtaken with feare hereafter, when they can neither prevent it, nor avoid it. Fourthly, 4 we may try the truth and efficacy of our faith, if we can beleeve God on his bare word, al­though we see not the performance thereof, neither any appearance or likelihood thereof. This we must consider in two respectes, both of his promises, and of his threat­nings. Touching his promises, when we dare trust him on his bare word for the performance of them. We say of some men, we will trust them no farther then we see them, or have some earnest, pledge, or pawne from them, how­beit we must not deale so with God: this is as much as not to trust him at all, but our owne eyes, and to trust our owne pawne, not him. But for us to trust him, 2 Cor. 5.7. when he seemeth to go from his owne word, or against his word, even deny himselfe, this is assuredly a true faith. Thus it was with Abrahram; when the Lord bad him kill his sonne, his onely sonne, even Isaac, the sonne of promise, by whom he looked to have issue, in number as the Starres of hea­ven, and as the sand by the Sea-shore, he accounted that God was able to raise him up even from the dead from whence also he received him in a figure. So it was with Iob, H. b. 1.29. we must [Page 142]beleeve that God will save us, even when he seemeth to goe about to destroy us, Iob. 13.15. Thus we are taught to beleeve that he loveth us, when he chasteneth us and frow­neth upon us, and maketh little shew of love toward us: we must beleeve that he remembreth us, when he seemeth to forget us, Esay. 49.4.15.16. And touching his threat­nings, we must beleeve them before they come. The threatnings of God are manifold and evident, The soule that sinneth, Ezek. 18.5. Psal. 68.21. shall dy the death, Ezek. 18.5. and Psal. 68. The Lord will wound the head of his enemies, and the hairy scalpe of every one that goeth on obstinately in his sinnes. But because we see it not presently, instantly, and immediatly performed, the ungodly put farre from them the evill day, and they live merrily and pleasantly, thereby seeming to escape the scourge here, Eccl. 8.11. as Eccl. 8. Because sentence against an evil worke is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sonnes of men is fully set in them to doe evill. These thinke God will be better then his word, and that these threatnings are spoken onely to fray and affright men, as scare-crowes do birdes; to keepe them in awe, not to bring them to ruine and destruction. What are these but infidels, who cannot beleeve, that God will doe that which they see him not to do presently? Here then is the worke of faith to be­leeve that which may seeme to carry no likelihood of comming to passe: remembring what Salomon saith Though the wicked live an hundred yeares, and passe them all ouer in pleasure, yet I know it shal not go wel with the wicked, Eccl. 8.13. neither shall he prolong his dayes which are as a shadow because he feareth not before God. The heathen do account it a point of mans misery above all other creatures, that he alone is vexed with care and feare for the future: but I ac­count it a point of mans excellency and eminency above other creatures and of true Christians above other men, that they are not all for the present, but have their eyes in their fore head to foresee and so to prevent evils to come, [Page 143]as Eccl. 2. The wise mans eyes are in his head, Eccl. 2.14. but the foole wal­keth in darknesse. The naturall man seeth with one eye, to witt the carnall eye of naturall reason, that can pierce no farther then the light of nature reacheth: but Christian men have together with it the spirituall eye of faith also to foresee evils to come, such as sense and reason are not able to apprehend. Bernard in Psal. Quihabi­tat. Serm. 1. There are foure sortes of men in this case to be considered of us, some hope, but feare not: others feare, but hope not: some neither hope nor feare: others both hope and feare. The first sort is of those that hope, but feare not: these runne through thicke and thinne, and stand at nothing; they feare not when there is cause, but they presume without cause. These hope for his mercy, but they feare not his wrath: they have their eyes fastned upon his mercy, but they shut them upon his wrath, least they should looke upon it; and thereby take liberty to sinne without any remorse of conscience, or of repentance from dead workes. We have infinite examples both writ­ten and unwritten of such persons, and therefore the Pro­phet David prayeth to God to keepe his servant from pre­sumptuous sinnes, least they have dominion over him. Psal. 19.13. This faith is no faith, but a fancy, or rather a frenzy. These set up an idoll instead of God, made all of mercy, that is, an other kind of God, then he hath described himselfe to be in his word, Exod. 20 and 34 he will by no meanes cleare the wicked, Exod. 34.7. visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and upon the childrens children unto the third and to the fourth generation. Wherefore all mercy and no feare, is all fansie and no faith. An other sort is of such as feare, but hope not at all. These are contrary to the former. They feare his judgments too much, but they hope in his mer­cies too little, as Caine, Saul, Achitaphel, Iudas, and such like, who had no more hope then the Devils have, and so come to be swallowed up in the deepe gulfe of desperation. The third sort neither hope nor feare, neither hope in his [Page 144]mercy, neither fear his justice. It is al one with such which end goforward, whether God be offended, or not, whe­ther he be pleased or displeased. These are like the Laodice­ans, neither hote nor cold, but luke warme, whom God wil spew out of his mouth, Revel 3.16. Rev. 3. These are seiled in their lees, or dregs of their sins, that say in their hearts, the Lord will do neither good nor evill. Zeph. 1.12. These are Epicures or Atheists that make God sit idle in heaven, and do nothing. The Fourth and last sort are such as both hope and feare also. In the first sort raigneth presumption, in the second de­speration, in the third prophanation, in the last religion. These so hope in his mercy, that they stand in feare of his wrath, as Noah, David, Iosiah, and sundry others. Such must we be, to regard both of his mercy and judgment. We must not be any of the former sinners, neither pre­sumptuous, nor desperate, nor prophane, but fearefull of his wrath, and yet confident in his mercy.

10 And God saw their workes, that they turned from their evill way, and God repented of the evill that he had said, that he would do unto them, and he did it not.

Hitherto we have heard what the Ninevites did: Knowledge is of Apprehen­sion, Heb. 4 13 Approbation, Psal 1.6. Math. 7.23. here we are to consider what the Lord did, he saw their works, and repented of the evill which he had denounced. Let us first marke the meaning of the words, and consider them in order as they lie.

He saw). First, he not onely beheld what they did, but he approved their workes, Chap. 1.2. and conceiveth a liking of the service they performed, as Gen. 1.31. & 4.4. Lam. 3.6. But doth not the Lord see the wicked and their workes? Ob. did he not see before this, their wickednesse? Yes doubt­lesse, Answ. or else how could it come up before him? For answer unto this we must understand, that he is said to have a two fold eye; the eye of knowledge, and the eye of alowance. [Page 145]He seeth all persons, and all things good and evill with the eye of his knowledge, that nothing can be hid from him: for he that formed the eye, shall not he see? the night, Psal. 94.9. & 139.11. and the light are both a like with him: but he seeth not all things in this maner with the eye of his alowance, liking, loving, and approving▪ In this sence, he did not looke up­on Caine and upon his offering, but upon Abel and his offering, to whom he had respect. Their workes). First, their faith, their conversion from their evill wayes, their fasting and prayer, how they cryed mightily unto him.

God repented of the evill.) First, God is after a sort transformed and transfigured into our nature, as we sometimes read of his eyes, eares, hands, heart, feet, nostrils and other bodily members: not that he is so indeed, not that he hath these parts, but the Scripture speaketh after our capacity and understanding, as they do that speake to children; we are not ignorant, what use, office, and pro­perty these severall parts have in our selues; and we con­ceive not how a man should see without eyes, or heare without eares, or walke without feet, or worke without hands, and to teach us therefore that God seeth, heareth, worketh, and understandeth all things, those parts are ascribed unto him, by which we see, heare, worke, walke and understand: But properly repentance is not in God (as we have noted before) but the effect is, Repentance not properly in god. which is no­thing else but the undoing of a worke which he had for­merly done. So then the Ninevites turned, and God tur­ned: they turned from their evill, and God from his evill. Howbeit these evils differ the one from the other; for theirs is criminall; his penall: Doct. they turned from the evill of their sinne, he from the evill of his punishment. God knoweth whatsoever we do, and approoveth of that which is good. From hence we may obserue two points, which, because they have affinity one with an other, we will consider together namely, that God seeth, knoweth, and heareth whatso­ever we do, speake, or thinke; yea he acknowledgeth [Page 146]aloweth, Whatsoever we do, and approoveth of that which is good. Psal 139.2.3.4. & 33.13.14. praiseth, and commendeth good things in whomsoever they are. Touching the first branch, the Prophet saith Psal. 139. Thou vnderstandest my fitting, my rising, my thoughts afarre off, there is not a word in my tongue, but thou knowest it wholly, thou possessest my reines, my bones are not hid from thee: and 33.13.14. The Lord looketh from heaven he beholdeth all the sonnes of men from the place of his habitation, he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. And touching the second branch, to wit, the approoving of of that which is good, Moses declareth, when Israel of­fered their submission to the ordinary ministery, being ready to heare from his mouth all the words of the Lord, he gave this testimony and commendation of them, Devt. 5.28.29 I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken, they have will said, O that there were such an heart in them, Math. 8.10. & 15.28. & 26.13. that they would feare me, and keepe my Commande­ments alwayes, &c. Thus Christ our Saviour commendeth the faith of the Centurion, Math. 8. of the Cananitish wo­man, Chap. 15. and of the woman that anoynted his feet with precious oyntment, I say unto you, wheresoever this Gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall this which she hath done be told for a memoriall of her, chap. 26.

Let us see both these branches confirmed unto us. Reasons of the first branch. Touching the first, it is great brutishnesse and folly not to know that God knoweth all things. 1 This is as much as to deny his nature, and to make God to be no God. He may be said to be all an eye, all an eare, all an heart: but to deny this principle, what is it in effect, but to turne the true God into an Idoll, which hath eyes and feeth not, eares and hearth not, Psal. 115.5.6 & 94.89.10. and an heart and vnderstandeth not. Hereunto came the words of the Prophet, Vnderstand ye brutish among the people, and ye fooles when will ye be wise? he that planted the eare, shall he not heare? he that formed the eye, shall he not see? he that teacheth man knowledge shall not he know? All things have sight, hearing, knowledge, and [Page 147]understanding from him, therefore he must heare, per­ceive, and see, forasmuch as that which causeth a man to be so, is it selfe much more so. Secondly, 2 nothing can hinder his sight, nor want of light, nor distance of place, nor dimnesse of the eye, which are causes of want of see­ing in us. Therefore the Prophet saith, Psal. 139.7.8.9. &c. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I fly from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, or make my bed in the grave, or take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, thou art there, &c. Touching the second, Reasons of the second branch he approoveth every good worke, for who is it, 1 that hath wrought it in us? or from whence doth it proceed? is it of our selves? no doubtlesse, every good and perfect gift is from above, and commeth downe from the Father of lights. And as he must worke it before we can have it, Iam. 1.17. so he must strengthen that which he hath wrought in us. Secondly, 2 to encourage and provoke us to perseverance and continuance in wel-doing. It is no lesse vertue to hold fast that which we have gotten, then at the first to get it. And we have as much need to be exhorted to go on as to beginne; seeing we may perish as well by going backe, as by not stirring at all, or not walking in the wayes of God, Heb. 10.35. as also it serueth to draw on others by our example, as we also ought by the examples of others.

The uses follow, and first of the first branch. And first, Ʋse. 1 this directeth us in all our workes to propound to our selues alwayes the presence of God, a speciall foundation of Christian religion. When thou hast any tentation to sinne, or inclination of thy heart thereunto, if thou couet to be kept in the feare of God, perswade thy selfe of the truth of this principle, that whatsoever thou thinkest, or speakest, or doest, Heb. 4.13. all things are naked and open unto the eyes of him with whrm we have to doe; Gen. 39.9. because he searcheth all hearts: and say with Ioseph, How can I doe this great wickednesse and sinne against God? Enoch walked before [Page 148]God and pleased him, that he had his power and presence evermore before his eyes, Gen. 5.24. in Heb. 11. and Gen. 17.1. On the other side, this is a maine cause of all wicked nesse, prophanenesse, and ungodlinesse among men, to be perswaded that God seeeth us not, Psal. 94. They prate & speake heard things, Psal. 94.4.5.6.7. they smite thy people and spoyle thy heri­tage, flay the widow, and murther the fatherlesse what is the cause? where is the reason? they say, the Lord shall not see neither will the God of Iacob regard it. It is neere to Atheisme to have such a blasphemous thought, as to jmagine that we can hide our counsels & deuises from the Lord, Esay. 29.15. as Esay. 29 Woe unto them that seeke deepe to hid our counsel from the Lord, & their workes are in the dark, and they say, who seeth us? and whoknoweth us? True it is, men will not speak thus prophanly with the tongue, for then all men would condemne them, & cry shame of them as unworthy to live upon the earth; but what should we looke to their words, when we may looke upon their deedes? or what shall it avail them to hide their counsels, when they lay open their conuer­sations? to keepe their mouthes silent, when their lives proclaime, they thinke there is no God? Happy are we, if we have the Lord ever before us, and have our eyes upon him as we know that his eyes are upon us (as the eye of the Master upon the servant) to give to every man according to his workes.

Secondly, 2 this offereth much comfort to the afflicted, and putteth such as afflict, them in mind of their wretched condition wherein they stand, 2 Thess. 1.6.7 seing it is a righteous thing w [...]th God torecompence tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest, when the Lord Iesas shall be revealed from heaven. The Lord seeth the afflictions of his seruants, & will regard & revenge them & get glory to his great name in the confusion of their enemies. When the children of Israel were oppressed by the Egyptians, and afflicted with sore burdens, the Lord comforteth them [Page 149]with this, I have seene, I have seene the affliction of my people, Exod. 3.7.9. which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groning, Act. 7.34. and am come downe to deliver them. He considereth the cruelty and injury of the enimy, as 2 Chro. 16. 1 Chro. 16.9. the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to shew himselfe strong in the behalfe of them, whose heart is perfect toward him. It is strange to see the folly of men abusing the essentiall pro­perties of God, as were easie to shew in our several state and condition of life, sometimes abridging them and cut­ting them too short, and sometimes enlarging them and stretching them too farre. See this in the consideration of the power of God, how we erre two waies. In time of adversity, we contract it and make it to little, as if he could not do so much as he had promised, and we cannot beleeve more then we see, Numb. 11.4.13.21.22.23 Psal. 78.19. neither can looke beyond the ordinary meanes, as Numb. 11. with Psal 78. they spake against God, saying, Can God furnish a table in the wildernesse? Yea Moses himselfe spake unadvisedly with his lippes, Whence should I have flesh to give unto all this people? where­unto the Lord answereth by way of reproofe, Is the Lords hand waxed short? thou shalt see now, whether my word shall come to passe unto thee, or not. So in the seige of Samaria, a noble person, on whose hand the king leaned, answered the man of God, who had prophesied of great plenty, If the Lord would, make windowe: in heaven, 2 King. 7.2. might this thing be? but when men live in peace and plenty, how many do extend his power too farre, and encourage themselues in the excesse of all ungodlinesse and propha esse of life; because he is able to pardon their sinnes, though they be never so great, and there upon harden their hearts, and ga­ther that they need not make conscience of any thing. Thus upon a firme foundation, they build a false conclusi­on. The like we may say of the presence of God. When we have all that heart can desire, that we prosper in the world and encrease in riches, we dreame we must needs be [Page 150]highly in Gods favour, and that he is present with us with his grace: but when we are plagued and chastened every morning, how do we presently conceive that he is departed farr from us? that he hath forgotten to here us, and will remember us no more? E [...]ccl. 9. but no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them, and if sinne do not seperate betweene us and our God, Esay. 59.1.2. his hand is not shortned that he cannot save, neither his eare heavy that he cannot heare.

Lastly, 3 touching the second branch, hence ariseth a re­proofe of such wicked and envious men, that will never remember any good thing, or any grace of God that ap­peareth in his faithful servants, unlesse it be to lessen them, discredit them, mock and scoffe at them, and to deride them as Ismael did at Isaac, Gen. 21.9. as Michal did at David, 2 Sam. 6.20. Nay, there be some so fowle-mou­thed, and corrupt hearted, if they can find nothing where­by to defame them, 1 they will inuent and devise matter out of their owne braine. See the partialily of these brain­sicke men, and the difference betweene God and them: for first, though they see never so much grace, the way to glory, 2 shine in the servants of God, they passe it over and will take no notice thereof. Secondly, what blemish, de­fect, or infirmity so ever be in them, they bruit it and blaze it abroad, no time, no place, no company is free, but they ring of them, they proclaime and publish them in every place, before every person, at every meeting, and they will be sure to adde something of their own beyond the truth. And what marveil is it, if, being evill thēselues, they speake evill of others? Thirdly, they can readily passe over the foule spottes and prophanesse not onely in themselues, 3 Malèdeme loquuntur; sed mal [...], Sen. but in their owne crue and companions, be­cause therein they have oftentimes, themselues a great and principall hand, and therefore they see the discrediting of them tendeth to their owne reproch. 4 Fourthly, if there [Page 151]be the least civill vertue breake out of the ungodly, that they after a sort stumble upon them, accidentally rather then purposely, and that but once, or if it be onely a shadow of vertue appeare in any of their fellowes; O how they praise and applaud them! they light up a candle to see them, and they blow a trumpet for men to heare of them. In all which they shew themselues contrary to God; for he passeth over the frailties and infirmities of such as feare him and have given their hearts unto him, though sometimes they stumble and fall, as we see in Iob. Iob. 42. Iam. 5.11. 1 King. 15.5. Math. 13.31.8 & 25.23. & 12.20. 42.8. Iam. 5.11. and in David, 1 King. 15.5. and whereso­ever he seeth any grace to grow, though it be as little as agraine of mustardsecd, if he encrease but two talentes, or bring forth only thirty fold, if they be but as the smoking flaxe, or as the bruised reed, he accepteth it, maketh much of it, & highly commendeth it. On the other side, he hateth and abhorreth wickednesse, as he loveth righteousnesse, and albeit the ungodly have the glory and applause of the world, because the world will love his owne, yet will he bring upon them shame and perpetuall contempt.

And God repented of the evill that he had said) Albeit the threatning against this citie expressed no condition, Doct. God is merci­ful to all p [...]ni­tent sinners. as we have already declared, yet we see in this place by the issue and event, that it included it. As the threatning denoun­ced was very fearefull, so the fruit of their repentance was as joyfull. This teacheth, that God is mercifull and gratious to all penitent sinners; he turneth their mourning into mirth, and all their heavinesse into laughter. All such as truely repent them of their sinnes, shall find pardon & forgivenesse at his hands, as Ezek. 18. Ezek. 18.21. If the wicked will turne from all his sinnes that he hath committed, and keepe all my statutes, and do that which is lawfull and right, he shall surely live and shall not die. Thus in sundry places we are cummanded to turne to God, and then he promiseth to turnt to us, & to save us, Ioel. 2, 12.13. Ier. 31.18. Lam. 5.21. [Page 152]Hereunto come sundry examples of Manasses, 2 Chro. 33. of Paul, Act. 9. of the Iewes that crucified the Lord of life, Act. 2. The like I might say of sundry others.

The reasons, Reas. 1 First, No penitent person ever perished from the foundation of the world to this present, neither shall from this present to the end of the world. God which cannot lie hath promised grace to the humble and and contrite heart. Repentance is as a table on which we take hold after shipwracke, to bring us safe and sound to land. Nosinne is unpardonable, if the sinner could repent, no not the sinne against the holy Ghost. Secondly, Gods mercy is above all his workes, he knoweth whereof we are made, he remembreth that we are but dust: he is slow to anger and of great kindnesse, Psal. 103. Thirdly, he hath shewed some mercy in a temporall deliverance for a temporall repentance, 2 King. 21.27. as we see in Ahab, who obtained the respite of punishent, when he had but an outward humiliation, 2 King. 21. if wicked Ahab, who did sell himselfe to worke wickednesse in the sight to the Lord, repenting with fasting & sackcloth, God deferred his judg­ment threatned; how much more shall true repentance obtaine the love and favour of God, and blot out all our offences out of his sight?

From hence arise sundry uses. Vse. 1 First, from the nature of contraries, we learne that to such as continue in sinne, and have hearts that cannot repent, there is no mercy to be looked for: because they treasure up vnto themselues wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righ­teous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds. And therefore the Apostle saith, Vnto them that are contentious and doe not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousnesse shall be indignation and wrath, Revel. 2.5. tribu­lation and anguish upon every soule of man that doth evill, of the Iew first, and also of the Gentile. Woe then to all such as lie in sinne and please not God, they fill up their sinnes [Page 153]alway, and his wrath shall come upon them to the utter­most. True it is, every unrepentant sinner can say, the Lord is mercifull, and Christ is the Saviour of the world: but to whom is he mercifull, and whom will he save? Not every one that can say, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdome of heaven, but he that doth the will of the father which is in heaven. 1 To this purpose consider these few rules. First, God hath made no promise in all the Scripture to impenitent persons. Search the Scriptures, for in them ye looke to have eternall life; but in the whole volume of that booke ye shall not find one line or letter that will minister comfort to the soule that conti­nueth in evill doing. Secondly, 2 they deceive themselues that looke for mercy, that lie under wrath, and see not their owne misery. Indeed there is promise of mercy, yea sundry promises in every Prophet and in the writings of the Apostles; but they are made to the penitent. The Lord God hath no pleasure at all that the wicked should die; but then they must returne from their owne waies, Ezek. 18.21.23. that they may live: he will put all their wickednesse out of his remembrance; but first they must turne from all their sinnes that they have committed, and do that which is lawfull and right: he hath promised to draw neere unto them; Iam. 4.8.10. but then they must draw neere unto him, yea they must clense their hands and purifie their hearts: he hath said he will lift them up; but first they must humble themselues in the sight of the Lord. Thirdly, Christ Iesus is a Saviour; 3 but he saveth none but such as are his people: none are his people; but such as beleeve in him, and none beleeve in him, but those whose hearts are purified by faith. Except we be new creatures, let us never say, we are in Christ, or that he is a Saviour unto us; he hath wrought the great worke of redemption, and paid a deare price to ransome us, his own pretious blood: but let us remember and never forget, that he gave himselfe for us, that he might redeeme us from all [Page 154]iniquity, Tit. 2.14. and purifie unto himselfe a peculiar people, zealous of good workes, Tit. 2. Lastly, consider, that notwithstanding the shield & sheiter of the mercy of God, to which every man runneth, he hath brought sundry both generall and particular judgments upon the children of disobedience, and his wrath hath beene revealed from heaven against all un­godlinesse and unrighteousnesse of men, Rom. 1.18. who no doubt builded with the untempered morter of supposed mercy, but were swallowed up with his justice. Such were the old world, who no doubt set up an Idol, all made of mercy, but they found him to be a God of justice. Such were the Cities of Sodome and Gomorrah with the rest of the plaine, Gen. 19. Such were Pharaoh and the Egyptians that pursued Israel to the red Sea, and infinite others. Nay see how God hath whipped his owne chil­dren, Pro. 11.31. 1 Pet. 4.17.18. and scourged them with greevous chastisements, as we see in David, and other Saints, if judgment have begun at Gods owne house, what shall the end of them be, that obey not the Gospel of God? and if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appeare?

Secondly, hence ariseth matter of much comfort to the humble and contrite spirit that is weary and heavy laden with the waight and burden of his sinnes lying heavy up­on his conscience. 2 Math. 11.28.29. Nothing indeed can come hereby to the impenitent, that is, to the obstinate and wilfull offen­der tha [...] resolveth to continue in his sinne, neither can he looke for any thing but judgement that hangeth over his head and lyeth at the dore: but to the humble and repen­tant sinner there are a thousand comforts, & a treasury of mercies laid up in store for him, to keepe & preserue him from doubting and despaire. Such Christ Iesus calleth unto him, & embraceti them in the armes of his mere, that they should not be dismaied all the multitude or greatnesse of their sinnes but rather lay hold upon the multitude and greatnesse of his mercies, which are infinite, higher then [Page 155]the heavens; broader then the Seas, deeper then the earth, and surmount all the sinnes which they have committed. O what comfort is it to a sicke man, lying and languishing upon the bed of sorrow, to heare of a certaine and Sove­raigne medicine, a present and effectuall remedy of his discase! and ought it not to find rest in our soules, when we are willed to come to Christ, the Physitian of the soule? ought it not to be as marrow unto our bones, and bring peace to our soules, forasmuch as his yoke is easie and his burden light? Who ever came penitently unto him, and weat away heavily or discomfortably? Suet. in vita Titirespat [...]c. If it were the saying of a great Prince, that none should depart from his presence heavy-hearted; how much more may we be assured it is the voyce of the King of kings, that no penitent person shall ever go from him without grace and favour comfortlesse? Repentance is a salve that hea­leth all the woundes of the soule. Search into the examples of all the Saints from the beginning of the word. What was it, turned Noahs drunkennesse into sobriety? Gen. 9.25. & 19. cum. 2 Pet. 2.8. 1 Tim. 1.13. 2 Chro. 33.12. Esay. 11.9. Repen­tance. What changed the unnaturall lust and excesse of Lot into eleannesse and purity? repentance. What was it that cast Manasseth, Paul, and many others into a new mould; and of oppressors, persecuters, blasphemers, made them meeke and gentle as Lambes? repentance. No man was ever saved without repentance: for finall impeniten­cy bringeth damnation. Damnation is a necessary effect of divine justice from the just God; brought upon vn­iust offenders. Such sinners and transgressours can have no peace with God without reconcilement: there is no reconcilement without remission: no remission without Christ: no Christ without faith: no faith without repen­tance. Woe then to such as presume of hope of pardon without paiment: these disioyne faith and repentance, and separate mercy and justice asunder in God, to whom both are alike essentiall, & in whom both are infinite: for albeit [Page 156]his mercies exceed his justice in his workes toward us, yet in himselfe they are alike. And woe unto such as say, though we give our selues to the free and full practise of sinne, yet God is abundantly, nay infinitely mercifull; for such shall certainly perish in their presumption, and to make him all mercy is to leave him to be uniust in suffer­ing sinne to go unpunished, whereas the judge of all the world should do right, Gen. 19.25.

Lastly, 3 it is our duty, as we desire grace and mercy, so to practise repentance betimes: All will seeme to be wil­ling to have remission of their sinnes, but all do not take the right way, Motiues to stirre up to re­pentance. nor use the meanes to attaine unto it, which is by repentance. Now we have sundry motives to move us and perswade us to repentance, which we must no lesse affect, 1 then we do repentance it se [...]fe. First, the man that liveth without repentance is farre worse then the basest creature, then the bruit beast. It would be thought a base comparison to compare such to a dogge, or Swine, or Serpent, but it is too good for such base and worse then brutish persons that forsake God, and will have no communion with him. For their misery and torments begin after this life, whereas the bruit beasts perish, and there is an end of them with this life. That which our Saviour speaketh of impenitent Iudas, who en­ded his his daies in despaire, may be said of every impe­nitent person, Math. 26.24. Woe unto that man by whom the Sonne of man is betrayed, Ioh. 6.70. & 3.18. it had beene good for that man, if he had not beene borne: and in an other place, one of you is a Devil, and is condemned already, because he hath not beleeved and repented. 2 Secondly, such a one is under the power of Satan which is the greatest and sorest bondage: 2 Tim. 2.26. all the Pharohs and Hazaels in the world cannot be compared with his tyranny, as 2 Tim. 2. for impenitent the are taken captive by the Divell, and holden in his snares to do his will. Thirdly, 3 such are in danger of all the judgements of God [Page 157]to fall upon their heads every houre. For albeit they should escape th [...]m in this life, yet they are but respited or repri­ved, as the judge sometimes doth the malefactour that is afterward executed: and in the meane season, all the fear­full plagues and punishments that have come upon sinners are imminent & may suddainly & swiftly come upon them. They may be summoned to the barre of Gods judgement in this life, as Adam was, Gen. 3. and Caine, chap. 4. Gen. 3.9. & 4.9. & 6.7. they may be drowned in the waters with the old world Gen. 6. with Pharaoh and the Egyptians Exod. 14. Fxod. 14.28, Psal. 136.15. they may be overthrowne and overturned with fire & brimstone from the Lord out of heaven, as Sodome and Gomorrha were, Gen. 19.24. Gen. 19. they may perish with the arrowes of Famine, Pe­stilence, the Sword, banishment, and evill beastes, Ezek. 5.15.16.17. Exod. 7. &. 8. & 9. & 10. & as many in Israel, Ezek. 5. they may suffer & sustaine all the plagues of Egypt, as the King and people of Egypt, Exod. 7. &c. they may be burned and consumed with fire, as the cap­taines and their fifties, 2 King. 1. 2 King. 1.10.12. they may be stung with fiery Serpents, and perish, as the people in the wildernesse Numb. 21. the earth may open and swallow them, as it did Dathan and Abiram, Numb. 6. Psal. 106. Numb. 21.6. & 16.31. Psal. 106.17. 1 Sam. 31.4. 2 Sam. 17.23. Act. 1.18. Act. 12. [...]3. Act. 13. [...]1. Gen. 19.11. 2 King. 6.18. they may de­stroy themselues, and lay violent hands upon themselues, as Saul and Athithophel, 1 Sam. 31.2. Sam. 17. they may fall headlong, and burst a sunder in the middle, & all their bowels gush out, as Iudas, Act. 1. they may be smitten by the Angel of the Lord, & be eaten up of wormes, as Herod was, because he gave not God the glory. chap. 12. they may be smitten with blindnesse by the hand of the Lord, and a mist & darknesse may fall upon them, Luk 13.3. that they may seeke some to lead them by the hand, as Elymas the sorcerer, and sundry others. This is that of which our Saviour warned his hearers by occasion of the suddaine slaughter of the Galileans, and those eighteene upon whom the tower in Siloe fell and slew them, that except they did returne, they should all likewise perish. Luk. 13. Fourthly, such are in danger not [Page 158]onely of these corporall plagues to fall upon the body, but of eternal death and everlasting damnation from the com­fortable presence of God, Act. 17.30.31 the heaviest judgment of all the rest, as Act. 17. Now God commandeth all men every where to repent, because he hath appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousnesse. 5 Fiftly, God oftentimes knocketh at the dore of our consciences to open unto him. This is the acceptable season of comming to Christ. This is the time appointed for repentance, make much of it, we know not whether we shall have it againe. He that abuseth and mispendeth that time, forfeiteth his Salvation, as Eccl. 9. Whatsoever thine hand findeth to do, Eccl. 9.10. do it with thy might: for there is no worke, nor devise, nor knowledge, nor wisedome in the grave, 6 whither thou goest. Lastly, none can be made par­takers of eternall life, but such as are penitent. It is vaine with Balaam to wish for heaven, Numb. 23.10. and to dye the death of the righteous, except we live the life of the righteous, and re­pent us of our sinnes, and so turne from our evill wayes with these Ninevites. To conclude, let us take heed least these men rise up in judgment and condemne us, who re­pented at the preaching of one Prophet: the more hath beene committed to us, the more shall be required at our hands. The Lord that searcheth the hearts and tryeth the reines, Ier. 7. to give to every man according to his waies and according to the fruite of his doings, turne us unto him, and then we shall be turned, to whom be glory and praise in the Church for ever, Amen.

A Recapitulation of the doctrines in this Treatise.

  • GOd warneth before he punisheth.
  • Gods threatnings are conditionall.
  • Generall all sinnes procure generall judgmentes.
  • The preaching of the word is the meanes to worke faith.
  • It is a fruit of repentance to take revenge for sinne, of our selues.
  • Publike fastes were alwaies called and solemnized in dangerous times
  • Repentance is wrought by the preaching of the word.
  • Repentance must be speedy and not prolonged.
  • Superiors must give good example to their inferiors.
  • We have need to stirre up our selves and others to re­pentance.
  • Fasting and praier must be joyned together.
  • Prayer is a meanes to remove Gods judgments.
  • Prayer must be earnest, zealous, and feruent.
  • Prayer must be directed to the true God onely.
  • Prayer and repentance must go together.
  • The naturall man not yet called must repent.
  • Repentance standeth in turning from our evill waies unto God.
  • Where true faith is, there is a feare of judgments to come
  • God seeth all things, and approveth that which is good.
  • God is gratious and mercifull to penitent sinners.
GODS TRVMPET, SOVNDI …

GODS TRVMPET, SOVNDING THE ALARME, Sommoning all persons speedily to repent, and turne unto God, teaching the doctrine, removing the hindrances, and urging the practise of true repentance, before the evill dayes come which are at hand.

Act. 17.30.31.

The times of this ignorance God winked at, but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

Because he hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousnesse, &c.

Revel. 2.5. Remember from whence thou art fallen and repent, and doe thy first works, or else I will come unto thee quickly, and wil remove thy Candlesticke out of his place, except thou repent.

LONDON. Printed by T.C. for Michael Sparkes. 1632.

GODS TRVMPET SOVNDING THE ALARME, SVMMO­NING ALL PERSONS SPEEDILY TO REPENT.

An Exposition upon LVK. 13.1.2. &c.

1 There were present at that season, some that told him of the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their Sa­crifices.

2 And Iesus answearing, said unto them, suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans, because they suffered such things?

3 I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

4 Or those eighteene, upon whom the towre in Siloe fell, and flew them, thinke ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Ierusalem.

5 I tell you, Nay: but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

6 He spake also this Parable, &c.

HEre is a communication touching an inhu­mane and cruell fact of Pilate against cer­taine Galileans. The maine doctrine & use taught by our Saviour, who tooke all occa­sions to doe good to soule and body, is to [Page 2]move to repentance, comprehended in these words, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. The preaching of this ne­cessary truth be all that were present arose upon the report and information, Pilates barba­rous cruelty in three respects. which certaine made to him of Pilates barbarous and bloody action: which was so much the more foule and beastly: 1 first, because he was president and Governour of Iury, Math. 27.11. under the Romane Emperour, and as a judge ought to have proceeded according to Law, to have kept and preserued the Country in peace and quiet­nesse, and not to have used force and violence in sheding of blood: 2 Secondly, because these Galileans did not proper­ly belong to his jurisdiction, neither were these within his liberty, but did belong to Herod, and therefore if they had offended, they were to be sent to him, to whom they were bound to give on account; as he dealt afterward with Christ whom he sent to Herod, Luk. 23.7. Luk. 23.7. Lastly, because this murther was committed upon their persons, 3 whiles they were in a sacred place, which should have bin as in a sanctuary, and performing a sacred duty in offering sacri­fice, which should have purchased unto them an immuni­ty from such danger. But what these sacrificers were, what there sacrifice was, and where the place of meeting was, it is uncertaine: whether they were Proselytes sa­crificing at Ierusalem, Ioh. 4.20. or as the Samaritans sacrificing else where in the mountaine, it appeareth not. But this is cer­taine and appeareth evidently, that in the time of sacrifi­cing as the blood of the beast was shed and ranne downe, Pilate came upon them with his men of warre and shed their blood, so that the blood of the men and of the beasts was mingled together.

Of this strange and sauage practise there were some that informed our Saviour, whereupon he began to make use thereof, and to preach to them the doctrine of repen­tance, & to apply it the to consciences of all his hearers, as also to reprove and meet with a secret & common cor­ruption [Page 3]that reigned in them. For it seemeth by Christs Question, that such as were present and saw that slaugh­ter judged hardly and uncharitably of those men that so suffered, as being notorious and extraordinary wicked persons, because such things had befallen them, and there­fore he propoundeth a generall doctrine, I tell you Nay: but except your selues be take your selues to a better course and resolue to lead a new life, ye shall in like sort perish as well as they.

To worke a deeper impression of this in their hearts, Hieron. in 8. cap. Isaj. he addeth and annexeth another example, not much un­like the former of a like suddaine judgment, upon eigh­teene persons which perished by the fall of a tower in Siloe. Esay. 8.6. Ioh. 9.7. This Siloe was a calme streame or little brooke run­ning softly, which riseth at the root of mount Sion, flow, ing at certaine times onely, which carried the water about Ierusalem, De bello Iudai. lib. 6. cap. 11. and had upon it a fort builded as a Castle or Citadell. Of this read more in Iosephus, Now certaine standing under it, a piece of the Tower and wall fell downe, and crushed 18. of them to death. Vpon occasion of this example also, he presseth again the former doctrine and in the same words, as if he should say, Because these 18. were slaine, and died in that suddaine fall, not once thinking of death, impute you the cause of this extraordi­nary event and successe, to be their extraordinary sins? I tel you: Nay, but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

When he hath thus propounded the doctrine, he farther amplifieth & explaneth it by a Parable or similitude: as if he should say, I wil tel you in what case the Church of Ie­rusalem in generall, & you here present in particular are: it is as much as if a man had a large Vineyard, & in it had planted a fig-tree. Now when he had set it in his fruitful­lest ground & fattest soile, he looked for the fruit of his labours: & at the time of bearing, he cōmeth, & calleth the dresser of the vineyard, he saith, Loe, I have planted this fig [Page 4]tree, I have spared it a good time, and yet it remaineth barren & bringeth forth; no fruit what remaineth but that I cut it downe? The dresser, whether in regard of pitty and commiseration, or that continuance of time might do some good, or hope that other or farther dressing might helpe to amend the matter, pleadeth with the Lord of the Vineyard for the Vineyard, I will dresse it, and dung it, and digge about it, and use all good meanes I can: and it may be the next yeare, your patience and forbearance shall not be repented off, and my labour shall not be grudged at: but if after all this toile & paines-taking it yeeld no fruit, then thou maiest cut it downe. This is the summe of this Parable; the application whereof is. So God hath placed you of Iudea in a fertile place, hath bestowed many blessings upon you, and hath looked for good fruit from you, but behold ye bring forth none; I tell you therefore, except ye repent & that speedily, ye shall all likewise perish. Now for our better proceeding in the orderly handling of these words.

Observe herein 2. things

  • An exhortation to repentance or a threatning of destruction to the impenitent, vers. 3. & 5.
  • An amplification or enlarge­ment thereof in the residue.

The amplification or illustration is

  • By examples.
  • By a parable.

The examples are of the

  • Galileans
  • Eighteene upon whom the tower fell and slew them.

The second amplification, which is by parable, we will relerue to the proper place, & handle the same particularly. For all these things belong vnto us, as well as unto those to whom they were spoken by our Saviour, and may be applied to us as well as unto them. The doctrine of repen­tance was never more needfull to be preached, and the threatning also as fully concerneth us, Except we repent, we shall likewise perish, as Marke 13. least we passe by the exhortation uttered to the Disciples by our Saviour as impertinent to us, he addeth, What I say unto you, Mark. 13.37. I say unto all, Wa [...]ch; So it is in this place, as if he had said, what I say unto these, I say unto all, Repent. Wherefore, Doct. the generall point that Christ laboureth to presse and per­swade is, to worke in them and in all others, repentance. The way to prevent Gods judgments is to amend our lives. This teacheth, that the onely way to prevent and escape the judgments of God is to amend our lives and turne unto him with all our hearts, and to repent from dead workes. We live in the dayes of many judgments, some lying heavy upon us, others hanging over our heads, so that we may say with the Prophet. Psal. 1 [...]0.1. Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord: and 42.7. deepe calleth unto deepe at the noyse of thy water spoutes; all thy waves and thy billowes are gone over me. The meanes ordained of God to revoke his heavy, hand gone out against us is to turne from our evill wayes. See this Deut. 4. Deut. 4.29, 30 31. after that God punisheth his people for their sinnes, he saith When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter dayes, if thou turne to the Lord thy God, and shall be obedient unto his voyce, hee will not forsake thee nor destroy thee: 2 Chro. 17.13.14. if thou seeke him with all thine heart and with all thy soule. Thus the Lord said to Salomon 2 Chro. 7. If I shut up heaven that there be no raine, or if I command the Locustes to devoure the land, or if I send postilence among my people: if my people which are called by my name shall humble themselues, and pray, and seeke my face and turne from their [Page 6]wicked wayes, then will I heare from heaven, and will forgive their sinne, Ier. 3 22. and will heale their land. And the Prophet Ieremy bringeth in the Lord speaking, Math. 3.7.8.10. Returne ye back-sliding chil­dren, & I will heale your backsliding. So doth Iohn the Baptist reprove the Pharisees, O generation of vipers, who hath war­ned you to sly from the wrath to come? bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewne downe, and cast into the fire. So then the onely way to stay Gods hand, and to stop his judgments now that his arrowes fly through the land, is to returne from all our evill wayes, and to cause others to returne.

The reasons follow: Reas. 1 First, because untill we repent all judgements hang over our heads, and shall overtake us, as they did the old world, as they did Sodome and Gomorrha, as they did Pharaoh, and infinite others. We may be de­stroyed by fiery Serpents, burned in the fire, drowned in the waters, swallowed up in the earth as Dathan and Abi­ram: and may looke every day for some plague or other to find us out and seaze upon us. 2 Secondly, when we truly repent, forgivenesse of sinnes and other blessings do fol­low. For repentance and remission go together. We see this in the Ninevites, Ionah. 3.10. God saw their workes, that they turned from their evill wayes, and he repented of the evill he had said he would do unto them, and he did it not.

If then we would prevent Gods judgments, Ʋse. 1 first, we must beware of all false & counterfeite turnings, and by­pathes of our owne invention, and walke in the Kings high way. Some make confession of our selues to have sin­ned, and to say, I am a sinner, to be true repentance; but thus every civill man should repent. Some make all kind of sorrow and greefe, and sheding of teares to be turning to God; but so should Esau repent. Some content them­selues with a little humbling and an outware casting downe of themselues, to hang downe their heads for a day [Page 7]like a Bulrush, but so should Ahab repent. Some thinke every good word Lord, Lord, to be repentance, and if they can but say Lord have mercy upon me, they have truly re­pented, but so should every sicke man repent. Others, turne not from sinne, untill sinne turne from them, and they leave it not, till they can follow it no longer; but thus every old man repenteth. Others turne from one sinne to an other, as many from one disease into another: and from evill to worse, as it were from a fever into a frenzy. Lastly, others turne from some sinne, but not from all: they will keepe some beloved sinne still; but thus Herod and Iudas repented: but this must be the Covenant that we make with God to keepe us from all sinne, remem­bring that he which faileth in one point is guilty of all. Iam. 2.10. All these blind wayes wherein the greatest sort doe walke must be avoyded of us. True it is, wicked men may walke in all these pathes; they may confesse their sinnes and desire o­thers to pray for them: but this is an enforced repentance this is compulsion, not conversion; and thus Pharaoh re­pented: whereas true repentance must be voluntary, and as a free-will offering. They may confesse some heinous and capitall sinne, knowne to others as well as to them­selues, whereby they have brought shame and confusion upon themselues, howbeit they will not confesse all, but thus Iudus repented, saying. I have sinned, Math. 27.4. in that I have betrayed innocent blood; but he acknowledged not his cove­tousnesse, that he was a theefe and kept the bagge. They have often some remorse and touch of conscience, but it is a great deale more for the punishment threatned or in­flicted, then for the sinne committed: if they might any way escape the punishment, the sin would never trouble or torment them: but thus Caine repented, Gen. 4.13. who cryed out, My punishment is greater then I can beare. Besides, what contrition or compunction of heart soever they may have, it is but as a flash of lightning, it is not constant; it [Page 8]is not constant; it is not joyned with an unfained desire to forsake sinne and to turne unto the Lord, neither with any perswasion of Gods goodnesse and mercy in Christ Iesus, To conclude, we may be assured of true repentance and of our turning to God by these three infallible tokens: first when we can say before the Lord, How to be as­sured that our repentance and sorrow are, true. that there is no sinne but we doe as heartily desire never to commit it, and as unfainedly crave of God to give us strength to leave and forsake it, as we desire he would not plague and punish us for it. Every man desireth to be freed and exempted from the punishment; happy are we if we have as great a de­sire to be freed from the sinne. Secondly, when we as earnestly crave and covet to forsake sinne, as we desire that God would forgive us our sinnes, and not impute them unto us: Lastly when we as truly hate sinne, as we desire to be partakers of eternall Glory in the kingdome of heaven. These are unfallible signes of true repentance and turning unto God, which were never found in any wicked man in any age of the world, neither indeed can be.

Secondly, 2 must all repent and amend their lives, as the onely meanes and remedy which God hath appointed to turne backe his judgments? then it is necessary for us to know what we are by nature, or of our selues, that we may learne what is our owne, and what is not our owne. For we shall never returne unto God, untill we know how far we are turned from him: neither come into the right way, till we heare how farre we are gone out of it: nor will we labour to reforme our lives, untill we know how much we are deformed: nor become wise in God, untill we see our owne folly. Math. 9.12. The whole (saith Christ) need not the Phy­sition, Rules touching tonuersion. but they that are sicke. Now that we may search throughly into our selues, and make an Anatomy of our soules, and plowgh up the ground of our hearts, let us ob­serue these few rules following. The first rule. First, every man that [Page 9]commeth of Adam, and issueth out of his loines (as all mankind doth) is guilty of his sinne and disobedience in eating of the forbidden fruit. And if we had no inherent sinne of our owne, this imputed sinne of his were enough to condemne us: for we, even we our selues in his loynes did eate of the forbidden fruit, we beleeved not God, we hearkned to Satan, we were seduced and deceived as well as he. In this the proverbe holdeth true, Ezek. 18.2. which is justly re­proved in the Iewes. The fathers have eaten sowre grapes, & the childrens teeth are set on edge. This the Apostle teacheth at large Rom. 5. Rom. 5.12. By one man sin entred into the world & death by sinne. Now this sinne of Adam passeth to his posterity be two meanes; by imputation and propagation. The punishments which all men suffer do plainely argue that the sinne of Adam is imputed to us therefore he addeth in the next wordes, Death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned, to wit, in him.

But because this rule is not easily yeelded unto, but we are ready to say with Nicodemus, How can these things be, Iohn 3. and with the Disciples that followed him, This is an hard saying, who can here it, Iohn 6.60? We will pro­pound and answer a few objections, Ob. that may seeme to stand in the & way contradict the former rule. First it may be alleaged, We were then unborne, and lived many thou­sand yeares after him, how then can his sinne be ours, more then ours be his? How then can we be guilty in that respect before God? I answer, Answ. that the sinne of Adam was not onely personall, neither did he sinne as a singular person, but as carrying all mankind in the stocke and ori­ginall, no otherwise then our Saviour, satisfying for us on the crosse hath not satisfied for us as a private person, but as sustaining and representing the whole Church in the head, as 2 Cor. 5. If one died for all, all likewise were dead: 2 Cor. 5.15. Rom. 6.6.8. and Rom. 6. We are dead with Christ, & crucified with him. If then we died in Christ dying, and were likewise crucified with [Page 10]him, who can doubt but it may be said, that we sinned in Adam? For if the righteousnesse and satisfaction of the se­cond Adam be imputed to us, why shall not the sin of the first Adam in like manner be imputed, especially seeing the righteousnesse of Christ is imputed unto us, that the sin of Adam might not be imputed unto us? And besides the sacred recordes of holy Scripture, doth not this accord with good reason? For inasmuch as Adam received good things not for himselfe alone (as we do) but for his po­sterity it is not to be marveiled at, if being spoyled, or ra­ther spoyling himselfe of these good things, he lost them for himselfe & his posterity. If a man be capitally punish­ed for high treason against his Prince, and forfeit his estate and be thereby brought to poverty, his children also have their blood stained and loose their nobility. Even as he that is borne of Parents infected with the Leprosie, draw­eth from them like contagion: so it is with such as are borne of Adam, out of his loynes issueth a naturall de­prauation and contagion. So then we must consider, that we are all Adams seed and posterity, he was the com­mon father of us all, whatsoever he receiued, it was for himselfe and his posterity, and whatsoever gift he lost, he lost them for himselfe and all his posterity, Calu. justit. lib. 2. cap. 1. as it is said that Levi payed tithes in Abraham, albeit by his office he re­ceived tithes, Heb. 7.9. Religion and the image of God in which he was created, if he had stood fast in his estate, had beene hereditary and entailed to his posterity, as an inhe­ritance to be conveied from the father to the children: but when he fell from God, Gen. 5.3. he is said to beget a sonne in his owne likenesse after his owne image, not in the image of God. This the Apostle toucheth in many places Rom. Rom. 1.14.15 16.17.18.19. 5. Death riegned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adams transgression. And againe, Through the offence of one many be dead. And againe, The judgment was by one to condemnation. And againe, by one mans offence death reigned by one. And againe, By the offence [Page 11]of one, judgment came upon all men to condemnation. And a­gaine, by one mans disobedience many were made sinners.

Secondly, it may be objected, What reason is it, Object. 2 that we should answer for an other mans sinne? This may seeme jniustice in God, and wrong done to the sons of men to condemne them for an other: for what could we helpe or hinder Adams fall? I answer, Answ. this indeed seemeth strange to the carnall or naturall man, wherein the rule of the Apostle, if in any thing, holdeth in this, Let no man de­ceive himselfe: 1 Cor. 3.18. if any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a foole, that he may be wise. Cur omnium fit culpa, pau­corum sceluss Seneca in Hippoli. But howsoever few among the multitude thinke or beleeve they shall answer for Adams sinne; yet we must know it was not his sinne alone, but a common sinne, his and ours as he was a common or publike person, and carried all mankind in him. If any aske the reason, why the sinne of Adam should be imputed to his posterity, rather then the sinne, of other parents, as our fathers, grandfathers, or great-grand-fathers to their children: I answer, the diffe­rence appeareth in diverse respects: First, by the sinne of Adam we lost originall purity, but not by the sinnes of the other. Secondly, we shewed before, that Adam received gifts which he should have conveyed to his posterity: when they were lost, it commeth to passe justly, that all his posterity should be stripped and deprived of them: but our grand fathers or fathers received not supernatu­rall gifts, which by an hereditary right were to be derived to their children. Besides, the sinnes of such Parents were personall or proper sinnes, because they did not sustaine the persons of their posterity, it cannot be said of Heze­kiah, Iehoshaphat, or Iosiah, Velut a [...]mine facto, quidata [...] portaruunt, et terras turbine perflant; Virg. Aeneid. lib. 1. who were the posterity of David, that they did in the loynes of David murther Vriah, or commit adultery with her that was the wife of Ʋriah. Let us see the truth of this in the example of Adam. He was the roote and originall of all sinne, he dis­obeyed [Page 12]the Commandement of God, and after that, a flood gate being opened, followed a multitude of sinnes: yet doubtlesse onely that first sin of Adam was imputed to his posterity, not his daily failings, because by this sin he brake the Couenant of God made with him, as with the author and originall of all mankind. To conclude then, we must distinguish of Adams sinnes: they are of two sorts, his first sinnes and his after sinnes. His first sin was the sinne of mankind generally, this was not his alone, nor ours alone but his and ours joyntly together: his after sinnes (for no doubt he sinned dayly, being now become a sinner) which he committed as a private man, were his alone: being sins of his person, not of his nature, and therefore not to be laid to our charge.

The last objection is out of the Prophet Ezekiel, Object. 3 chap. 18.4, Ezek. 18.4. 20. All soules are mine, as the soule of the father, so also the soule of the Sonne is mine, the soule that sinneth, it shall dye the Sonne shall not beare the iniquity of the father, Deut. 24.16. neither shall the father beare the iniquity of the sonne. How then commeth it to passe, that we die for anothers sinne? or wherefore is the sinne of Adam imputed to us? or is it credible, that that he which forgiveth us our owne sinnes, will impute to any one an other sinne? Answ. I answer, the meaning of the Prophet is, that none perish or are punished being inno­cent, therefore the sonne that is innocent shall not beare the punishment of his father that is guilty, Exod. 20.5. So in the law, when the Lord threatneth to visit the iniquity of the fa­thers upon the children, Ezek. 18.2. he understandeth such children as walke in their fathers steppes, and are partakers of the same sinnes. For in this place he reproveth them that used this Froverbe, The fathers have eaten sower grapes, and the childrens teeth are set on edge. But the sonnes of Adam cannot be said to be innocent, as they which not onely sinned in Adam as in the stocke and roote of mankinde, but also themselues are borne stained with the same depra­vation [Page 13]and prone to the same sinne. So then this place maketh nothing to the present matter: for the first sin of Adam was not personall, being as one that represented the person of his posterity; whereas the Prophet speaketh of the sinnes of the fathers whose sinnes are meerely perso­nall, as they that in sinning did not sustaine the persons of their children.

The second rule dependeth upon the former, which is, The second rule. that in all men in regard of the guiltinesse aforesaid, the whole nature of man is corrupted, so that the whole man lyeth in evill, as Ioh 5. The whole world lyeth in wickednesse: 1 Ioh. 5.19. so we may say that every part and power of soule & body is infected with sin as with a foule Leprosie from the crowne of the head to the sole of the foot, there is no­thing in us but woundes and bruises and putrifying sores, so that we may cry out with the Leper, I am unclean, Levit. 13.45. I am uncleane. No man is free from this blot, whatsoever is borne of the flesh, is flesh Ioh. 3.6. Ioh. 3.6. We are by nature the children of wrath Eph. 2.3. Eph. 2 3. Iob. 14.4. Who can bring forth a cleance thing out of an uncleane? There is not one Iob. 14.4. David acknow­ledgeth himselfe infected with this contagion from his conception. Psal. 51.5. Psal. 51.5. and in this common lot he doth be­waile and lament his owne. This we must confesse to be in our selues, and thus the Apostle teacheth Rom. 3. Rom. 3.9.10.11.12.13.14, &c. Are we more excellent or better then they? No in no wise: for we have before proved both Iewes and Gentiles, that they are all under sinne, As it is written, There is none righteous, no not one, and they are all gone out of the way, and their throate is an open Sepulchre, with their tongues they have vsed deceit, the poyson of Aspes is under their lippes, &c. that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. This was signified by Circumcision, for by that ex­ternall signe or Symbole the Church was and is warned, that there was somewhat in man (so soone as he was borne) that ought to be cut off and corrected. The end of [Page 14]our Baptisme is the same, which is the Sacrament of our clensing in the blood of Christ, by which our naturall fil­thinesse is washed away. Neither doth the estate of this universall contagion belong only to Turkes and infidels, to the Sauages or evill Christians, but even to the off-spring of the Godly & faithfull, even as he that was Circumcised begate one that was uncircumcised; & as a graine of wheat well winnowed from the chaffe bringeth forth (when it groweth) wheat with chaffe againe. Therefore when any man hath children of evill disposition, he must ac­knowledge his owne jmage in them: and when he hath good children, Ioh. 1.13. he ought to admire the worke of God in them & to cōfesse their goodnes to be his jmage, who are not borne of blood, nor of the wil of the flesh, nor of the wil of man, but of God, to whom all Glory and praise is due. The Lord Iesus alone was free from this common contagion and corrup­tion, who derived not originall sinne from his mother. True it is, that all men sinned in Adam: & it is as true that Christ was in Adam, as being one of his posterity: Never­thelesse that sentence of the Apostle doth not concerne Christ, because the person of Christ was not in Adam, but onely his humane nature; neither was he conceived after the common maner of other men, but by overshadowing of the holy Ghost. What origi­nall sinne is. He therefore is excepted out of the common condition, all are borne in Originall sinne, which is nothing else but the depravation of mans nature, con­tracted from the very generation it selfe, and derived from Adam into all mankind. Now herein are two things, the want or privation of originall righteousnesse, and the inclinablenesse or pronenesse to evill: as sicknesse is not onely a privation of health, but also an evill affection or disposition of the body arising from the distemper of the humours: so this hereditary blot, as a sicknesse, is not on­ly the want of righteousnesse, but likewise a pronenesse to unrighteousnesse: from whence ariseth blindnesse in [Page 15]the mind, frowardnesse in the will, the losse of supernatu­rall gifts, and the corruption of those that are naturall.

The third rule followeth, that all Evill, The third rule even the whole body of sinne is in man, as we heard before that the whole man is in evill. In every man are the seedes and beginnings of all sin by nature. Not in one man a pronenesse to some sins, an in another to some other sins: but a pronenesse to all in all and every one; not onely in the worst or most wicked, in the unregenerate and carnall men, but in the regenerate and best men: even to the most odious, heinous and abominable sinnes. All that know themselues know this to be true, and such as know not the truth of it, doe not as yet know themselues, neither can they truely re­pent. As the matter first made (called a Chaos) had the seedes of all creatures in it: so the masse of sinne that is in us hath the fountaine and roote of all other sinnes. Matter of wonderfull h [...]miliation. O how should this humble us, to thinke what vile and venemed natures we have! never was there any grosse sinne or im­piety committed in the world by desperate, deboshed, and develish men, albeit we have not committed it already, neither intend to commit it hereafter, but doe hate and abhorre it: yet there lyeth hid in our hearts a fitnesse and forwardnesse, a pronenesse and disposition thereunto. All ground is not fit to beare and bring forth all kinde of fruit, but some yeeldeth one sort and some an o­ther: it is not so with our hearts; they are Seminaries or seed-plottes of all sinnes. We complaine and cry out of the Apostacy of the Angles, of the murther of Caine, of the filthy lustes of the Sodomites, of the hard heart of Pharaoh, the murmuring of the Israelites, of the conspiracy of Korah of the rebellion of Absolom, of the envy of the Pharesees, of the horrible treachery of Iudas, and such like vices and villanies: but let us never accuse or accurse these and cry out against them; rather it behooveth us wisely to returne home to our selues, and to enter into our owne hearts; [Page 16]where we shall see, that we carry them all within us; every man hath a Caine, a Sodomite, a Pharaoh, a Pharisee, an Ab­salom, a Iudas, nay a devill, nay all these together in his own breast, and bosome. These are indeed most wicked and wretched men: howbeit they serue as glasses to behold our owne faces. For as in the water face answereth to face, so doth the heart of a man to man: Pro. 27.19. their heart answeareth to our hearts, and ours to theirs. And as there is the same nature of cruell and savage Lyons, so there is betweene the heart of Caine, of Pharaoh, of Iudas, of our selues, and any other man. For (as the Apostle speaketh,) are we better then they? Rom. 3.9. No, in no wise. We complaine against Annas and Caiaphas the high Priests, against Herod and Pilat the chiefe Governours, against Iudas and the Iewes the cursed instruments that crucified the Lord of life, and accuse them as notorious wicked and hard hearted men: but do we judge our selues any better by nature, or of our selues? or shall we say with the proud Pharisees, Math. 23.30. if we had been in the daies of our fathers, we would never have done as they did we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the Prophets: nay had we lived in their times, and stood in their places, doubtlesse we would have put upon us their persons, and by the sway and swing of the same corrup­tion, we would have done none otherwise, unlesse Gods grace did prevent us and restraine us. If he should leave us (as he did them) to our selues, and not stay us up being ready to fall, if he did not hold us in the armes of his mercy, Exod. 19.4. as a father doth the child; and beare us as it were on Eagles winges; we should quickly fall downe as deeply as ever they did, and plunge our selues headlong into all iniquity.

The fourth rule to be knowne of every one that would amend his wayes is, The fourth rule. that every one borne of Adam lyeth under the curse of God, Eph. 2.3. & is the child of wrath by nature, as well as others, yea of hell and damnation. Have we not then [Page 17]need of repentance? As then the Egges of the Aspe are justly broken, and Serpents new bred are justly killed, al­beit they have yet poysoned none: so even infants, much more others, are guilty before him, Object. and worthily subject to punishments. But it may be said, the Apostle maketh the Iewes better then the Gentiles, Rom. 3.1. and to have many prehemi­nences above them? I answer, Answ. they were preferred in re­spect of God and his manifold benefits and blessings upon them above the other nations: but they were both equall in respect of naturall corruption, Rom. 3.9. being alike sinners by nature; in regard whereof he saith they were in no sort better then they: The Iewes had a preferment of favour to be Gods chosen or peculiar people, Deut. 4.34. to have his Law and Prophets, the Ceremonies and Sacrifices, the Arke and the Covenant, but touching grace and justification through grace before God, by faith not by workes, it was all one to Iew and Gentile, because all are sinners. So then this rule teacheth, that all men are under the guilt and punishment of sinne, which is a matter of such danger, as it were better to have the whole weight of the world upon us, then to lye under the burden and bondage of one sinne; because the wrath of God (which is the heaviest thing under heaven) doth hang upon sinne and sinners for ever. We are all of us condemned men, there is not any one which is not in himselfe damned and forlorne. Their is nothing in our whole nature but corruption; we are loathsome and abhominable in his sight, the heires of death and destruction, the enemies of God, the bondslaves of Satan held under his dominion even from our mothers wombe. This doth admonish us of the miserable condi­tion of all mankinde through sin; no creature more wretched; we have no cause to aduance or magnifie our selues. It stirreth up our mindes to seeke after a Saviour, Luk. 15.32. to find us being lost, and to quicken us being dead. It teacheth us to thinke seriously upon the riches of Gods mercy, Eph. 2.4. & to [Page 18]praise his name for his great love wherewith he hath loved us. It putteth us in mind by our owne estate of corruption, to reprove others with compassion, Gal. 6.1. considering our selues, that are no lesse sinners, and stand in the same case and condem­nation as well as they.

The fift rule is, The fift rule that the naturall man can doe nothing at all that can please God. For untill we have faith and repen­tance, all that we do or can doe is sinfull, and abhominable in his sight. Euery thought of the heart of man is evill, and onely evill, Gen. 6.5. & 8 21. and continually evill, Gen. 6. & 8. It is deceitfull above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it? The wised me of the flesh: Ier. 17.9. and therefore the best thing in a carnall man, even whatsoever he understandeth, or perceiveth, is enmity against God: Rom 8.8. & 7 18. & 3. for it is not subject to the Law of God, neither indeed can be. The Apostle saith of himselfe, I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing: and ge­nerally of mankind he pronounceth, Tit. 1.15. There is none righte­ous, no not one, they are all gone out of the way. and againe, Vnto the pure all things are pure, but unto them that are defiled and unbeleeuing is nothing pure, but even their mind and con­science is defiled. The doctrine. of Pelagius, The opinion of Pelagus, that a man that is an infidell and unregenerate hath in himselfe and of himselfe a sufficient power to beleeve and to fulfill the law, Ezek. 36.26. is as con­trary to the whole doctrine of the Scriptures, as light to darknesse, as sweet to sower. For the Prophets and Apostles teach, that the heart of man is stony, and therefore in it owne nature unfit and uncapable to receive the impression of the law of God, unlesse God write on that stone with his singer: that the naturall man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, 1 Cor. 2.14. 2 Cor. 3.5. Phil. 2.13. Eph 2.1.5. Col. 2.13. for they are foolishnes unto him, neither can he know them: that the Ephesians before their calling, yea and all of us are dead in sinnes and trespasses. Hence it is that the Scrip­ture calleth the change of man by regeneration, sometimes an other birth, Ioh. 3. Sometimes the creation of the new man, Eph 4. Sometimes an other resurrection from the dead [Page 19] Luk. 15.32. Ioh. 5.25. For as a dead carkasse can by no meanes dispose nor prepare it selfe to the refurrection, as Lazarus lay in his grave stinking, untill by the powerfull voyce of Christ he was raised up to life: or as a thing that is not created, cannot further it selfe any thing to the creati­on of it selfe: so man in the state of nature and before his regeneration hath nothing whereby he may dispose him­selfe or further his new birth, or spirituall life. This rule teacheth that many there are, who albeit they blesse them­selues, as men in a good case, yet are found the children of wrath, the enemies of righteousnesse, haters and hated of God Such are they that rest in outward or ciuil honesty, that boast and bragge that they are no adulters, no theeues, no murtherers, that they live peaceably and quietly among their neighbours, and pay every man his owne; and are not all these good? Yes doubtlesse they are good, but they are not good enough: these must we doe, Math. 23.23. but other things may not be left [...]done. For if they could looke throughly and unpartially into their soules, they should finde there a filthy sinke and puddle of all manner of sinne, and nothing else. It teacheth that we have no freedome left in any faculty of the soule to spirituall goodnesse, and therefore beateth down the doctrine of the Church of Rome, that setteth up and ad­uanceth mans free will, as if it were not lost, but onely weakned. It teacheth that before the naturall man be washed and purged, every thing is uncleane unto him, yea he tainteth and defileth every thing that he toucheth: which way so ever he turneth himselfe, all his actions, spirituall, civill, or naturall are polluted, because they proceed from uncleane hearts and consciences. His spirituall actions, which may seeme best of all, his hearing the word, reading the Scriptures, praying to God, receiving of the Sacraments, all being the sacrifices of the wicked, Pro. 15.8. & 28.9. are abhomination unto the Lord; the person must please him before our workes can please him. These divine ordinances, how pure and precious [Page 20]soever in their owne nature, as instituted of him, are turned into sinne. His civill actions and honest dealings in the world, his buying, selling, giving, lending, his labours in all the workes of his calling, are in him and to him no better then sinnes: Lastly, his naturall actions, as eating, drinking, sleeping, and the like, all are vncleane unto him and in his use. To conclude, it teacheth us the necessity of regenerati­on in every part, especially it should move us to beware, that we approach not neere the Courts of God, neither compasse his altar without washing our hands in innocency, Psal. 26.6. and to pray unto him to sanctifie us throughout, and to wash the whole man, both soule and body.

The last Rule is, The sixt rule. that the posting over, the denying, and di­minishing of our sinnes is one of the greatest hindrances of repentance. Some post them over, and thinke to save them­selues by appealing and appeaching of others, as Adam & his wife, Gen. 3. Some deny their sinnes, and so thinke to hide them, as Ananias and Sapphira, Act. 5. Some extenuate and excuse them, as Saul 1 Sam. 15. Thus we stop the pas­sage to repentance, and harden our hearts that we cannot turne unto God: Whereas we should feare our sinnes, more then his plagues. How many are there that stand in feare of his judgments, who never once consider the causes thereof; not hate their sinnes, though heinous and horrible, which bring them upon us? We deale commonly with our sinnes, as the vniust Steward did with his Masters debters and debt for an hundred he sets downe fifty. Luk. 15.6. See here­in how partiall we are: when we censure others, we are ready for fifty to set downe an hundred, and of every mole-hill to make a mountaine: but when we cast up our owne accountes, we say to our owne soules, Take thy bill and sit downe quickly, and write fourscore or fifty, or hap­pily foure or five, so unequall and unjust are our wayes. Againe, others acknowledge themselues to be sinners in grosse or in generall, as Pharaoh, Saul, and sundry others, [Page 21]but come to the particulars of the law, which is the glasse to shew us our sinnes (for by the Law commeth the knowledge of sin) & examine these by it from point topoint, Rom. 3.20. who never examined themselues, they are not ashamed to pronounce themselues innocent. For bring them to their triall, as it were to hold up their hand at the barre, whether they ever brake the first Commandement, Exod. 20, 3.4.7.8.13. Thou shall have no other Gods before me; they answer readily, God forbid I should set up strange gods. Or the second, To make graven images, or the rest, To kill, To steale, To beare false witnesse, Math. 19.20. and such like: they sticke not to plead not guilty, and to say with the young man, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lacke I yet. These are like to a man that saith he is sicke and being asked, where? and led a long from the crowne of the head to the Sole of the foot, should then say he is well in every particular part. Thus they shew, they understand not the Law which is spirituall, Rom. 7.14. and searcheth in­to the heart.

Lastly, 3 it is our duty to use all meanes to move us and bring us unto repentance. The first may be our present necessity. Motives to stirre us up to repentance. If there were no other, but the distresse and calamity that lyeth upon our Churches, 1 it were enough to rouse us up out of the dead sleep of sinne into which we are fallen. It is not our fasting and prayer that can call in Gods judgements, nay they provoke him the more against us, except we repent. O let us consider the wofull mortality and the pittifull estate of thousands of our brethren and sisters, Psal 80.5. & 79.8.9. that the Lord feedeth them with the bread of teares, and giveth them teares to drinke in great measure, and thereby be stirred up our selues, and stirre up others to unfained repentance: then let us say with the Prophet, O remember not against us former iniquities, let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us, for we are brought very low: helpe us, O God of our Salvation, for the glory of thy name, and deliver us, and purge away our sinnes for thy names sake: and he will heare us in the end, and send us a gracious [Page 22]deliverance. 2 Secondly, a man that liveth in this world with­out amendment of life, is farre more uile, then the basest creatures that creepe upon the ground. it had beene better we had never beene borne, or beene brought forth as dogs and swine, as wormes of the earth, nay as Serpents or a generation of Vipers. We are worse then all these lying in the state of impenitency: for there is an end of them when this life endeth, but our misery shall never have end. Thirdly, 3 such as ate not truly conuerted are in danger of all the judgments of God, which as a suddaine and violent flood may breake in upon them, or as a mighty host of men may quickly ouerthrow them and destroy them. Happy are they that feare them a farre off, and can beware by other mens harmes: Let us not tarry till they come upon us, Exod. 12.30. as the Egyptians did, till one in every house was dead. God was neuer more prouoked then at this day. Hitherto he hath prevailed little or nothing with us: Math. 3.10. now the axe is laid to the root of the trees, therefore every one which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewne downe and cast into the fire. 4 Fourthly, God hath used all meanes to worke in us repentance, the greater is our sin if we use them not. We are fast a sleep, & he hath sounded his trumpets to awakē us. He hath the trumpet of his word, and commandeth his Ministers to cry aloud and spare not, Esay. 58.1. to lift up their voyces like a Trumpet, to shew the people their transgressions, & their sins. He hath also the trumpet of his judgements, to pierce into our hearts when the word findeth no place in us. He hath often sounded the alarme and blowne the trumpet of his Word by the Ministery of his seruants that have spoken unto us early and late in the name of the Lord, and warned us of his wrath to come, and of our wickednesse present, and we would not heare them. He is therfore constrained to take in hand an other trumpet, and to strike us with the pestilence and mortality: Ames. 3.6. shall this Trumpet be blowne in the City, and the people not be afraid? Or sh [...]ll there be evill in a City, and the Lord hath not done it? For as when a trumpet [Page 23]giveth a signe or token out of a watch-tower, the people hearkneth and is troubled, and prepare themselves this way, or that way, as the trumpet giveth the token: so the Lord cryeth unto us by his judgments, as it were by the voyce of a shrill trumpet, ought we not then to be at­tentive, and be moved at the sound thereof, and, according to the warning, prepare our selves to repentance? and heare his voice while it is called to day, Psal. 95.8. Heb. 3.7. & 4.7. lest our hearts be hardned through the deceitfulnesse of sinne? It were better for us a thousand times to hearken to the sound of the first trumpet, then tarry till be sound the second: to heare his word, then waite till he take up his sword. O how much better had it beene for us, to have taken his word which he sends among us, and to Obey it, then to cause and even constraine him to send his destroying Angel to make havocke of us! Lastly, he that converteth not, is in danger of eternall damnation, to be separated from Gods presence, at whose right hand is fulnesse of joy, and pleasures for evermore: Psal. 16.11. Dan, 12.2. to have fellowship with the Devill and his angels, to have shame and everlasting con­tempt powred upon them, and to have horrour and an­guish of conscience cast upon them, arising from a feeling of Gods wrath; Then shall the last trumpet blow, and waxe lowder, that the dead shall heare the sound thereof, 1 Cor. 15.52. 1 Thes. 4.16. when the Lord himselfe shall descend from heaven with a great shout and with thousands of his Angels.

Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.) We have heard before, that the scope of Christ in these words, to which the examples, one going before, the other following after, are referred, is to perswade men to repentance. This we must lay as the foundation of our weekly meeting toge­ther, to make profession before God, before men and An­gels of our repentance, to renew our Couenant with God, and to seale to it with our hearts, and to cry unto him to remove his judgements that lye heavy upon us; Consider [Page 24]in this threatning farther an other doctrine, to wit, what danger it is to omit and reject repentance: such persons are subject to death and destruction th [...] repent not. Doct. This teacheth, Such as con­tinue in sinne without re­pentance shall certainly per [...]. that howsoever. God for a time spare and for­beare the Church, and do not alway strike upon every oc­casion (as he might do) yet it is a sure and certaine thing concluded with him, that such as continue to walke and wallow in evill without repentance, their end is confusion, their reward and wages is to perish. See the truth of this in the Prophet, remembred in a parable answearable to that which followeth of the Vineyard; he had pruned, trim­med, and hedged about it; he had digged and dunged, & done all that he could, Esay. 5.4. he looked for grapes, but it brought forth wild grapes: the conclusion is this, I will take away the hedge; and it shall be troden downe: I will command the clouds, and they shall raine upon it: I will lay it waste, and there shall come up briers and thrones. This will farther appeare by sundry examples, and by the wofull experience of many desolations made in all ages of the Church through default of repentance. When the Lord had heaped his mercies upon the old world, Gen. 6.3. and given them 120. yeares, the dayes of his patience, as the time of their repentance, he sent the Patriarkes that called upon them, and appointed Noah a Preacher of righteousnesse, 2 Pet. 2.5. who confirmed his doctrine by building the Arke, which was a figure of the destruction of the world of the ungodly, yet they continued their evil wayes, Luc. 17.27. eating and drinking, &c: they never though: of the day of the Lord, they never considered the day of their visitation; the flood come and destroyed them all, a small rem­nant reserued, and a few soules saved. The like we might say of the Sodomites, Gen. 13.13. & 19.25. Gen. 19. They were exceeding sinners be­fore the Lord, and were overturned with fire from heaven, be­cause they repented not. And was it any otherwise with the Israelites themselues 2 Chro. 36. he sent to them by his messengers, rising up betimes, because he had compassion [Page 25]on his people, and desireth not the death of a sinner, 2 Chro. 36.16. Math. 23.37.38. but that they should turne vnto him: but after all this, they mocked his messengers and despised his word, and misused his Prophets, untill the wrath of the Lord (in the end) arose a­gainst his people, till there was no remedy. So then, howso­ever God sometimes spareth the sonnes of men, yet such as continue in sinne, and wholly delight in the workes of the flesh, the end of them is fearefull, they repent not, and therefore they must perish.

Reason 1. Reason. 1 He hath pure eyes and cannot like or allow that which is evill. For can two walke together, Amos. 3.3. except they be agreed? but the Lord hath no agreement with evill, neither have the evill any agreement with him. He is holy in all his wayes, but impenitency is contrary to his wayes, and hath all sinnes following after it, and atten­ding upon it, and consequently also all plagues, Ier. 5. 2 Secondly, he taketh away his mercy and louing kind­nesse from such. What is it then that turneth away his heavy wrath and displeasure from us? Is it any worthi­nessein our selues? we are (alas) an uncleane thing. Doth any deserve life? or can he plead with his maker? we are all corrupt and abominable. The world, the Church, the Common-wealth, our selues, our owne Consciences know it and witnesse against us: Lam. 3.22. It is his mercy that we are not consumed, because his compassions faile not. His mercy is not reserved for the impenitent that proceed and goe for­ward in their sinnes, this were to confound heaven & earth, nay heaven and hell, God and the devill. Therefore the Prophet Ieremy declareth, that God had taken away his mercies from them, Ier. 5. If then he will not shew mercy to such as walke in the stubbornnesse of their euill hearts, conclude with me this point for a certaine truth, that howsoever God forbeare the children, yet wearying him by vrging and provoking him by our sinnes, destructi­on is reserued for such impenitent persons:

Seeing such as have hearts that cannot repent, Vse. 1 doe heape up wrath as a treasure against the day of wrath and iust de­claration of the righteous judgement of God, Rom. 2.5. let us put farre from us the wayes of the impenitent, let them not clea [...] [...] as pitch) unto our soules, lest if we follow their workes▪ we be partakers of their Plagues. Let us be grieved for our former evils, and returne to the Lord, that be which hath s [...]ricken us may heale us againe. But (alas) while we goe forward in our wicked wayes, doe we hold this point, that the impenitent are reserved to wrath? So many of us as hold and beleeve this truth, let us depart from our old courses, and labour to heape up mercy upon mercy, Iob. 21.30, being assured, that the wicked is reser­ved to the day of wrath and destruction. O how many things have we neede to repent of? the dayes of our ignorance, the sinnes of our youth, our presumptuous sinnes! If the Lord call us to an account, who shall be able to abide?

Secondly, 2 let no man mocke at his judgements, or set light by them: let no man thinke himselfe safe and secure, and no danger to be neere him, because he seeth not his judgements at hand or upon him, or evermore to fall out: O how deepe are his judgements! how neere often­times when we suppose them to be farthest off! how un­searchable are his Counsels, and his wayes past finding out! Es [...]y. 28.15. 2 P [...]t. 3 3. Carnal men promise peace, and have made a covenant with death and with hell, and make a mocke of all judge­ments. They see the wicked prosper, and the ungodly florish; but they cannot mealure him that is not to be measured: there is no measure of that which is infinite. God hath more workes to worke then one, he will not speake peace for ever. Esai. 28.24. The husbandman doth not plough al the yeare long, neither reap, or gather into his barne all the yeare, and God hath given to man this wisedome and understanding, to observe the times and seasons: and shall [Page 27]we not thinke that the Lord also hath his times of his judgements and of his mercies? Hee hath preached unto us by his mercies a long time, and the dayes of his patience have long continued among us. How neere hath Gods hand bin unto many of us in the great plague, When it hath beene in the same house? one hath bin taken away, and another hath bin spared? Nay in the same bed one hath bin smitten, another hath had his life granted him for a pray? Consider this yee that have forgotten this mercy of God, and labour to appease his wrath, before his judgement falleth upon us. He com­meth with a leaden foote, but he striketh with a rod of iron, and dasheth his enemies in pieces, as a potters vessel. The Lord complaineth in the Prophet, Ier. 8.7. that the storke in the Heaven knoweth her appointed times, and the turtle, and the crane, and the Swallow obserue the time of their comming, but my people know not the judgement of the Lord, they have re­jected the word of the Lord, &c. Every man, even by the light of nature, obserueth his times for his several worke [...]. Skilfull Physitians have their times of the yeare and of the Moone for their purges and potions: The Mariner stayeth not when the tide is come: the Husbandman soweth while it is winter: the Smith striketh while the iron is hote: the Merchant buyeth while the market lasteth: thus doe these take their time while the time tar­rieth: onely men in the matters of God and their owne Saluation know not, or will not know the time of their returning. Eph. 5.14. They will not awake from their deepe sleepe in sinne, they will not stand up from the dead, that Christ may give them light and life: They will not heare his voyce while it is called to day, but suffer themselves to be hard­ned through the deceitfulnesse of sinne. The Lord speaketh in the time present, behold now is the accepted time, now is the day of Salvation: but we will take a further day with God, as desperate debters doe with men: they can [Page 28]abide no present reckonings. Thus doth Satan beguile carelesse sinners, he promiseth them time enough here­after, like to biting Vsurers (as one saith) who are wont to give day to young heires from yeare to yeare, untill at last they wind and wring their inheritance from them: So the Prince of darknesse, August. Con­f [...]s. lib. 8. cap. 5 the God of this world sug­gesteth to the children of disobedience, that they may let repentance alone a little, and it will be soone enough to come anone, to repent heereafter. Remember that Esau losing the opportunity of the blessing, sought it after­ward with teares, Heb. 12.17. and yet found no place for repentance. Re­member that the rich man cryed for mercy, but it was too late. Lne. 16.24. Remember the foolish Virgins that cryed, Lord, Lord open unto us, Math. 25.11.12. & 7.22.23. but the doore of mercy was shut, and they received their answer, verily I say vnto you, I know you not. Remember that many shall say in that day, Lord, have we not Prophecied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out Devils? and in thy name done many wonderfull workes? but it shall be said to them, Depart from me yee that worke iniquity. Let us therefore beginne betimes to turne to God, while the day of grace endureth: let us cease to doe evill, learne to doe well; eschew evill and doe good.

Lastly, 3 let no man flatter himselfe with the enioying of earthly blessings, health, wealth, peace, plenty, and prosperity, nor with the bare continuance of the Gospel among us, as though it must therefore goe well with us, and that we must needes be highly in Gods fauour. This was the folly of Micah, Iudg. 17.13. Now I know that the Lord will doe me good, seing I have a Levite to my priest. This was the vaine flattery of the Iewes, who, because they had Abraham to their father, together with the law and the Oracles, the Arke and the Covenant, thought themselves in a good case, and that they must needes be Gods people; they cryed, the Temple of the Lord, this is the Temple [Page 29]of the Lord. But Iohn the Baptist putteth them from this foolish confidence in the flesh, Math. 3. Math. 3.9. thinke not to say within your selves, we have Abraham to our father; for I say vnto you, that God is able of these stones to raise vp children vnto Abraham. And the Prophet Ieremy, chap. 7. Ier. 7.8.9. Behold ye trust in lying words that shall not profit: will ye steale, mur­ther, and commit adultery, &c. and then come and stand in this house before me which is called by my name, and say we are delivered to doe all these abominations? behold I see it, sayth the Lord. O let it not be so with us to prophane the house house of God, to continue in our sinnes; farre be it from us to bring them to the place of Gods worship for this will cause him to curse all our meetings and assem­blies, that they shall be for the worse, not for the better: to encrease our plagues, not decrease them: and to double his judgements, not diminish them. Let us there­fore leave them behind us, and cast them from us, never to returne to them againe, 2 Pet. 2.22. lest we be like the Dog that re­turneth to his vomit, and the Sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. Otherwise let us not boast of the Gospel, and flatter our selves because we have the Gospel as the Iewes did glory in the Temple: but seeke to bring forth the fruit of the Gospel. For our sinnes are the causes of all plagues and judgements: neither can we looke that he should stay his hand, or say to the destroying Angel, 2 Sam. 24.16 It is enough, stay now thy hand, as he did in the dayes of David; And doubtlesse then we have begun to profit vnder the correcting hand of God, when we seeke the cause of his judgments within us, and acknowledge out sinnes to be the cause of all. For what is the true cause of this plague and pestilence? Our sinnes. And what is the cause of the continuance of his heavy judgement? Rom. 1.18. doubt­lesse the continuance in our sinnes: We must confesse that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all vn­godlinesse and vnrighteousnesse of men. When Israel had [Page 30]received an overthorw and turned and their backes to their enimes, Iosh. 7.10.11 When we are chastened, we must looke to our sinnes. 1 Cor. 11.30 Esay. 64.5.7. Lam. 3.39.40. Levit. 26. the Lord said unto Ioshua, Get thee up, where­fore lyest thou thus upon thy face? Israel hath sinned, and they have also trespassed my Covenant which I cōmanded, them, for they have even taken of the accursed thing, and have also stollen, and dissembled also. Nay as we encrease our sinnes in num­ber and measure, he will not onely continue his judge­ments, but encrease them also: and if we will not, for all this, hearken vnto him, but walke contrary unto him, he will walke contrary unto us, and chasten us seven times more, and bring seven times more plagues upon us accor­ding to our sinnes, Thus we see, that after moe and moe sinnes, we must looke for moe and moe judgements to follow us at our heeles.

Some that told him of the Galileans.) Doct. Our Saviour labour­eth to draw their affections from others and to reflect them upon themselves, We are rather to looke to our owne wayes, then to censure o­thers. yea not to censure them so much as to reforme their owne wayes. From hence we may observe this point, that every one is rather to respect his owne standing, then censure others. But is it not lawfull to respect others? nay are we not commanded to admo­nish, to exhort, to reprove? yea doubtlesse Levit. 19.7. 1 Thes. 5.11. Heb. 3.13. Pro. 9.8. but it is more agreable to the word, to have regard to our selves then to others, and more fit for our profession to search after our owne stan­ding. Math. 7.5. This our Saviour teacheth, Math. 7. first cast out the beame out of thine owne eye, and then shalt thou see cleerely to cast out the mote out of thy brothers eye. Iam. 3.1. And the Apostle Iames vrgeth this, chap. 3. be not many Masters, that is, be not over-sharp reproovers and rash condemners of other mens persons, as if we had a Master-like authoritie over them, which proceedeth from selfe-love in our selves, and from hatred toward others. So Rom. 14. Why judgest thou thy brother? Rom. 14.19. or why doest thou set at nought thy brother? So then every one is bound to begin with himselfe, and to re­forme [Page 31]his owne sinnes and offences which hee best knoweth.

And no marveile. For first, Reason. 1 the contrary is meere hy­pocrisie. For when we haue Eagles eyes to looke into other mens matters and dispositions, and are starke blind in trying our selues, accounting those things to be great sinnes which are none in others, and grosse sinnes in our selves (though as great as beames) to be none at all; ac­counting also on the other side great graces and gifts in others little or none at all, but the least good in our selues to be exceeding great, nay if it be onely the resemblance of a good thing, Math. 7.5 [...] what marveill is it if our Saviour brand such with the name of Hypocrites: Thou Hypocrite. 2 Second­ly, we may justly feare the same measure to be measured unto us againe: Math. 7.2. for God doth in justice pay them in their owne kind. Thus our Saviour speaketh, Math. 7. With what judgement yee judge, yee shall be judged, and with what measure yee mete, it shall be measured to you againe. 3 The Apostle handling this point useth two reasons: the first drawne from the person of others, Rom. 14.4. every one standeth to his owne Master, who then art thou that judgest an other mans servant? as if he should say, such censuring concerneth God onely, he shall raise or condemne him. This were to judge before the time, 1. Cor. 4.5. Againe, 4 he reasoneth from our owne persons, we have enough to answer for our selves, for we have failed many wayes: Rom. 14.10.12.13. We shall all stand before the judgement seate of Christ, and every one of us shall give account of himselfe to God, let us not therefore judge one another any more, &c.

First, Ʋse. 1 this reproveth all such as are curious searchers af­ter the secret failings of their brethren, a common course altogether unlawfull and uncharitable. For charity beateth all things, beleeveth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things: yea it seeketh not her owne, it is not easily provoked, it thinketh no evill, 1 Cor. 13.7.5. neither [Page 32]doth it agree to our professiō, Math. 7.12. neither doth it agree with the generall rule, Whatsoever yee would that other men should doe unto you, do ye even so to them, for this is the law & the Prophets. For how can we reprove sinne in others with a good con­science, Non potest alios continere qui se ipsū non continet: ne (que) severus esse in judicando, qui alios in se severos esse Iudices non vult. Cicer. de lege Manil. Math. 7.4. Rom. 2.1.3.21.23. when we make no conscience of sinne our selves? Or what hope have we to worke good in others, when there is none wrought in our selves? or how can we cause others to refraine from evil, when we do not abstaine from evill our selves? or how can he be a sharpe judge and censu­rer indeed, that cannot abide to have others sharp & severe judges and censurers against himselfe? Hence it is that our Saviour saith, Math. 7. How wilt thou say to thy brother, let me pul out the mote out of thy eye, & behold a beame is in thine own eye? And the Apostle, Thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest, for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thy selfe: and againe, Thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them that do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgement of God? And afterward, Thou that teachest another, teachest thou not thy selfe? thou that makest thy beast of the law, through breaking the law dishonou­rest thou God? Let not us be like vnto the Scribes and Pharises, hypocrites, who brought to our Saviour a wo­man taken in adultery, and put him in minde, how Moses commanded that such should be stoned, Levit. 20.10. thus they tempted him, that they might have to accuse him: and thus they were quicke in pronouncing sentence against her. But our Saviour calleth their wan­dring thoughts home to their owne doores, Ioh. 8.7. and teacheth them to begin with themselves, Let him that is without sinne among you, first cast a stone at her. The like we might say of Iudah and his incest with Tamar, albeit the cause were in himselfe, in which respect himselfe confesseth she was more righteous then he, Gen. 38.26.27. yet he said, bring her forth that she may be burned. He was sharp-sighted in condem­ning her, but altogether partiall in judging himselfe. The [Page 33]Apostle giveth us a generall precept, that we should study to be quiet, and doe our owne businesse, 1 Thess. 4. It is a com­mon sinne in all places, and so common that it is common­ly accounted no sinne: the common talke in all meetings is of other men, and it rejoyceth the hearts of the most sort to have other mens faults ripped up; and therefore it is our duty to strive more earnestly to be purged of this corruption, and to be preserved from the evill practise of rash judgement.

Secondly, beware of all rash and uncharitable iudgment, 2 which is sinfull, according to the counsell and comman­dement of our Saviour, Math. 7. judge not, Math. 7.1. that yee be not judged. Many there are that runne headlong like wild horses without any bridle in their mouths, of the which there are three sorts: First, when a man hath done some good duty, and that in an holy and sincere manner, evill men judge it to be done in hypocrisie and dissimulation. This was the sinne of Eli other wise a good man, 1 Sam. 1. Christ our Saviour conversed much with publicans and sinners, to the end he might do them good, and draw them from the kingdome of sinne and Satan, and make them in­heriters of the kingdome of heaven: a worke in all re­spectes most holy and righteous; yet the Scribes and Pharisees judged him to be a friend and favourer of them and of their sinnes. Lue. 7.34. And albeit he castout Devils by the power of his divine Majesty, for the confirmation of his doctrine, and edification of the weake in faith: yet they said he did it by Beelzebuh the Prince of the Devils. Math. 12.24. So in our dayes, religion and the zealous profession thereof are re­puted no better then counterfeit holinesse. Let the exam­ples of the faithfull be before us continually, whensoever we find the same measure offered untous, and comfort our selves with this, that it hath no otherwise befallen us, then to many Prophets of God, and faithfull seruants of Christ, Math. 5.12. who must not looke to be greater then there Master, [Page 34]neither to finde better entertainment in the world then he did. The second kinde of judgment forbidden, is, when men commit evill things worthy in themselves to be condemned, and thereupon are judged, not onely dange­rous, but desperate offenders, past hope of repentance and recovery. This is to execute indeede a right Lordship over their soules and Salvation, and to step up into the seate of God. 1 Cor. 4.5. Of this the Apostle speaketh, Iudge nothing before the time, untill the Lord come, who will lighten things that are hidde in darknesse, and will make manifest the coun­sels of the hearts; and then shall every man have prayse of God: and we are charged to instruct with meeknesse the contrary minded, 2 Tim. 2.25. to bring them to God, and not leave them in the snares of the Devill. No man therefore ought to passe their doome of the everlasting estate of any man and to pronounce peremptorily and absolutely that they shall perish and cannot be saved, as if they were Lords of one anothers life and death, salvation and damnation, or had power to bring them to heaven or cast them into hell. This is beyond our reach and commission; and to usurpe the office of Christ, to whom all judgment is committed. No man dare make himselfe a judge, and sit downe in the judgement seate to give sentence of absolution or con­demnation in matters of this temporall life without the Princes speciall appointment: and shall any dare doe it in things of the life to come, to pronounce any to be forlorne reprobates and vessels of wrath? For who knoweth what one day may bring forth, Pro. 24 1? He runneth farre that never returneth. We see many notorious wicked men suddainly and mightily called and changed, 2 Chr. 33. Act. 9. Luk. 23. We read of some standing idle all the day long, called at the eleventh houre to labour in the vineyard, Math. Math. 20. 20. The theefe repented and was converted at the instant of his death. Let us remember that we are all bre­thren, one no better then another, and therefore we ought [Page 35]not presumptuously to chalenge this superiority to judge and condemne one another. Christian love hopeth well of all men: and so long as they live, there is some hope. The third kind is, when we doe things which in them­selues are indifferent, which may be done either well or ill, either with a pure or a prophane heart, with faith or without faith, to judge such an action wicked, which in­deed is to be accounted good or evill according to the intent, purpose and affection of the doer, whereof God alone is the discerner, because he alone is the searcher of the heart, he alone is the Iudge of the heart. This cor­ruption we read to have beene in Eliab the brother of David, Why camest thou downe hither? 1 Sam. 17.2 [...] and with whom hast thou left those few sheepe in the wildernesse? I know thy pride and the haughtinesse of thy heart: for thou art come downe to see the battell. This the Apostle forbiddeth Rom. 14. Rom. 14.3. Let not him that eateth judge him that eateth not, &c. The faith­full servants of God are hardly delt withall in all these re­spects, their good things are not good, or at least it is shrunke up and contracted: their indifferent things are pronounced to be starke naught: and if they fall into evil, it is stretched and made a thousand times worse, even by those of the worser sort.

Lastly, 3 it standeth us upon to labour to see the grieuous­nesse of sinne in our selves, and to feele the waight and burden thereof. For commonly we are blinde and see not at all, or else we are purblind and cannot see them in their right colours; we be hold them as motes or strawes, not as beames: or if we doe ever judge them as beames, How we may perceive the neinousnesse and greinous­nesse of sinne Luc. 12.48. it is in others, not in our selves. Now that we may discerne of sinne in the nature thereof, we must consider these few particulars. First consider how God striveth with us by his manifold mercies and blessings to draw us to a love of Godlinesse, and hatred of wickednesse: now unto whom­soever much is given, of him shall be much required, and to [Page 36]whom men have committed much, of him they will aske the more. Secondly, if we compare our sinnes with Adams first sinne considered in the fact, doubtlesse we have as great in our hearts, yea greater: and yet by that one dis­obedience he brought destruction upon himselfe and all his posterity, that is, the first and second death. Thirdly, we may behold the grievousnesse of sinne by proportion with the punishment. For what is the wages and reward of sinne? a subjection to all woe and misery in this life, to death it selfe in the end of this life, and to eternall death after this life in hell with the Devill and his Angels. Fourthly, they were laid upon the person of our Saviour Christ, who outwardly endured the torments on the Crosse in his body, and inwardly apprehended the wrath of God in his soule, due unto us, and which we should have suffered. This made him to sweat water and blood, Lue. 22.44. Math. 27.46. and to cry out in the anguish of his spirit, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Math. 27. Are such sinnes to be holden as motes? no doubtlesse, they are great beames: are they as little moul-hills? no doubtlesse, they be huge mountaines, able to crush the sonnes of men in pieces under the heavy indignation of God. Lastly, the law of God is holy and perfect, and forbiddeth the first thoughts and motions in the heart, that arise against God or our neighbour, yea though we never give consent of will to practise them, Rom. 7. If then the first motions be sins in themselves deserving damnation, Rom. 7.7. because the law saith Thou shalt not lust: how heinous must the sinnes of our nature, and the transgressions of our life be, wherein we have yeelded full consent to rise up and rebell against God?

And Iesus answering said vnto them, Suppose ye, &c. It seemeth by this answer of Christ, that these men justified themselves, because they suffered not as the other did; and condemned them as notable & notorious wicked [Page 37]men, which rash judgement as a false sentence and censure in them Christ condemneth. Doct. This teacheth that outward judgements and calamities that befal the children of men, Outward judgements doe not al­wayes befall the worst, neither free the best men. doe not alwayes seize upon the most wicked and worst men, neither do they free the most righteous from them. It is the corrupt judgement of corrupt men to jmagine that such as are sharpely corrected and extraordinarily visited and chastened, are the greatest sinners of all: and on the other side such as escape and live in health, in wealth, in glory, in favour, in peace, in honour, and inpro­speritie, are highly in his favour. A common errour of the world, and no marveile: For first being blinded with the disease of selfe love, few looke upon themselves, and enter into a search of their owne hearts and wayes, or consider what they doe themselves deserve. They turne their owne sinnes behind their backes, where they are sure they cannot see them: but other mens they hang before them, to have them alwayes in their sight. Secondly, by esca­ping without punishment, and having freedome from scourges, they flatter themselves with a vaine perswasion and presumption, that God approveth and is delighted with their workes: whereas we should learne, that God by such examples stirreth up all men every where to re­pentance. This errour we see in Iobs friends, who, be­holding the suddaine calamity into which he was fallen, tooke occasion to condemne him of Hypocrisie & impie­ty: that because he suffered much, they judged he had offended much, and therefore suffered more then others, and more then themselves, Chap. 22. This we see in the Disciples of Christ, Ioh. 9. Ioh. 9.2. When they saw the man that was blind from his birth, they asked him, Master, who did sinne, this man, or his Parents, that he was borne blinde? They never consider the secret causes of Gods judge­ments, but as if there could be no other cause but this one, they enquire whether he or his Parents deserued by their [Page 38]sinnes that he should be so borne? The like we see in the Barbarians of Melita Act. Act. 28.4. 28. When they saw the viper upon Pauls hand, they sayd amongst themselues, Doubt­lesse this man is a murtherer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. So in this place, these men would have cōcluded these Galileans to be de­sperate sinners (who happly might be better then them­selves) because they were suddainly and savagely slaine with the sword: but Christs answere teacheth, that outward afflictions and chasticements doe not evermore seaze upon the worst and wickedest men, neither are the better sort freed from them, but they oftentimes lye open to them more then others, as we see in Iob, Chap. 1. and 2. and 1 Pet. 4. judgement beginneth at Gods house, the wicked abound in all things, Psal. 17. Whiles David lay under persecutions, Psal. 73.

The reasons; Reas. 1 first, all outward things fall out alike to all, as David saith, [...] Sam. 11.25 The sword devoureth one as well as an other: So affliction meeteth with one as well as with another. There is one event to the righteous and to the wicked; as is the good, so is the sinner: and therfore no man knoweth either love or hatred by all that is before them, 2 Eccl. 9.1. Secondly, the wicked are oftentimes as it were stalled and fatted to the day of slaughter, like fedde beasts appointed to be killed, Iam. 5.5. Deut. 32.15. Iam. 5. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and beene wanton, Yee have nourished your hearts as in a day of slaughter. Thus he letteth them alone to worke out their owne destruction, that they forsake God which made them and lightly esteeme the rocke of their salvation. Thirdly, he chastiseth his owne children, that he may bring them nearer to himselfe, and that they should not be condemned with the world, as 2 Cor. 4. We alwayes beare about in the body, 2 Cor. 4.10.11. 1 Cor. 11.31.32. the dying of the Lord Iesus, that the life also of Iesus might be made manifest in our mortall body: for we which live are alway dilivered vnto death for Iesus sake, that the life also [Page 39]of Iesus might be made manifest in our mortall flesh. When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world: if then we would judge our selves, we should not be judged, 1 Cor. 11.

Vse 1. Vse. 1 Seing God layeth outward afflictions upon his owne children, and letteth the wicked goe free, we may ga­ther and conclude from hence, that no affliction whatso­ever shall separate from him those that are his: nor death, nor famine, nor nakednesse, nor sword, nor perill, nor pestilence, nor persecution can divide and divorse be­tweene God and us: his love is so sure and steadfast, like mount Sion which cannot be removed: Psal. 125.1. the Lord standeth like a buckler round about his people, Rom. 8.28. that all shall worke for the best to them that love him. This is a singular comfort, that he will make not onely his blessings to turne to our good, but he will sanctifie all our afflictions and adversi­ties, and make even them blessngs also, and further our salvations, yea oftentimes more then the other. It is not so with the vngodly, not only their crosses are curses, but all their blessings are turned into judgements, and nothing shall be able to doe them. Indeed the faithfull must suffer, they are called unto it. 1 Pet. 2.21. The Crosse is the calling of a Christian, and the badge of Christianity. Christ hath left us an example, that we should follow his steppes: there­fore though they suffer, yet their sufferings cannot take them from God, nor God from them. The foundation of God remaineth sure, and his giftes are without repen­tance. They then are justly to be reprooved that conceive and judge hardly and harshly of them that have beene taken away by the plague and pestilence in this heavie vi­sitation: nay the dayes may hang over out heads, and we may see them with our eyes, when we may pronounce them happy that died of this contagious sicknesse, and ga [...] up the Ghost in their beddes: no doubt many of our deare brethren in other places, that are pursued by the rage [Page 40]of cruell enemies, & daily in danger of the sword at their throates, that are constrained to keepe garrisons in their townes and Cities, yea, billit mercilesse Souldiers in their houses, as it were vipers in their owne bosoms, desire with all their hearts that they were striken by the imme­diate hand of God, rather then endure these manifold miseries that are upon them and those that belong vnto them.

Secondly, 2 it leadeth us to thinke that our hope and com­fort is not heere upon the earth. Our happinesse and the time or place of our resting and refreshing is not heere. We must not looke for an heaven in this life, but make our selves ready to take up our crosse and follow our Master. Our Saviour never promiseth his Disciples to live ever in prosperity, and be free from all adversity: O how many followers should he have, if the profession of his name were coupled & accompanied with honour and temporall glory, as appeareth by the Shechemites that would be cir­cumcised for gaine, Ioh. 6.26. Gen. 34. and by those that sought him because they did eate of the loaves, and had their bellies filled Ioh 6. but he forewarneth them in all places of grieuous troubles, he sent them out as sheepe in the middes of Wolves: he telleth them that they will deliver them up to the Councils, and scourge them in their Synagogues: and the Apostle was assured by the holy Ghost, Act. 20.26. that bands and afflictions did abide him. It shall not be thus in the life to come, when the Lord shall wipe away all teares from our eyes: 1 Cor. 15.19 therefore the Apostle saith, If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. This is the description of such as are wicked men, Psal. 17.14. their portion is in this life, Psal. 17. they lay up for themselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, & where theeves breake through and steale, and where their treasure is, there is their heart also, Math. 6.19. Math. 6.19.21. they say, let us eate and drinke, for to morrow we dy, 1 Cor. 15. The hap­pinesse [Page 33]of a godly man is heereafter: Phil. 1.23. to be dissolved and to be with Christ is best of all, Phil. 1. When this earthly house of this his Tabernacle is dissolved, he hath a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternall in the heavens, 2 Cor. 5.1. Phil. 3.20. 2 Cor. 5. his Conversation is in heaven, and from thence looketh for a saviour, Phil. 3. Col. 3.1.2. he seeketh those things that are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God, Col. 3. he setteth his affections on things above, & not on things, on the earth. 3

Thirdly, seing be oftentimes chastiseth his children while worldly men feele nothing at all, it behoveth us to beare his chastisements cheerefully, humbly, and patiently, and not faint under the crosse, as men out of heart, Heb. 12.6. veing he correcteth every son whom hereceiveth and loveth: and with this we should comfort our selves, and strengthen the feeble-minded, support the weake, and be patient to­ward all men. This condemneth all murmuring and com­plaining under the Crosse, which causeth the Lord often­times not to remove, but rather to double his strokes up­on us. When Parents perceive their children grow stubborne and wayward, froward and foolish under the rod, doe they not rather encrease their punishment, then let them alone? Lam. 3.33.36. Thus doe we constraine the Lord to deale with us; true it is, he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men: to crush under his feete and to subvert a man he approveth not: but when we are impa­tient and fret against him, this is not the way to stay his hand and to call backe his judgements, but rather to pro­voke him against us, to strike againe and againe, Motives to patience. and to double and treble his strokes upon us. Now there are sundry motives to move us to this patience, and to stay us from all impatience. First, God useth bodily afflictions to cure spirituall diseases. Every paine preventeth the paines of hell by drawing us to Christ. We may learne more by adversity, then we can doe by prosperity. [Page 42] Manasses learned more in Babylon, then in Ierusalem: and profited more in prison, then in his palace, 2 Chro. 33. In prosperity David said, I shall never be remooved: but in ad­versity he confessed, Psal. 30.6.119.71. it was good for him to have beene af­flicted, that he might learne the statutes of God: whereas before he was afflicted, he went astray, but now he kept his word. 2 Secondly, the sorrowes and anguish we endure, alas what are they? if they be compared to those dolours and paines, which Christ our saviour suffered for us? for he might say more truly then any other, Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow which is done un­to me, Lam. 1.12. wherewith the Lord afflicted me, in the day of his fierce anger. 3 Thirdly, our sorrowes are a thousand times lesser then our sinnes have deserved. Let us enter into our owne hearts and consciences to try and find out this point, and we shall easily discerne our sinnes and offences to exceed all our paines. 4 Fourthly, nothing commeth upon us but that which the Lord hath sent and laid upon us: affliction springeth not out of the dust, though dust and ashes judge after that manner. We looke too much to second causes to finde the cause of our visitations; as also we trust too much in outward meanes and remedies to remove the same. The Prophet saith, Psal. 39.9. I was dumbe and opened not my mouth, because thou didst it. This consideration wrought patience in him. And our Saviour teacheth us to lift up our eyes higher then the earth, Math 10.29. and to rest in his providence, Are not two sparrowes solde for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your father. 5 Fiftly, God hath not given us ouer into the hands of our enemies to be chaste­ned, but he correcteth us with his owne mercifull hand. When David had his wish to chuse his owne chastice­ment, either warre, famine, or pestilence, all sharpe wea­pons able to wound to death, he chose rather to be corrected by the hand of God, then by men or other meanes, 2 Sam. 24.14 2 Sam. 24. Let us fall now into the hand of the Lord, [Page 43]for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man, for the very mercies of the wicked are cruelty. For if we stood at the discretion of mercilesse men (as sundry our bretheren at this day in other places doe) and heard the alarme of battel sounding in our eares, when mourning is in our streets, Amos 5.16. and we should heare crying in all our high wayes, Alas, alas, and all places be filled with weeping and wailing: when the blood of the Saints shall be powred out like water that cannot be gathered up againe: when so many widowes and fatherlesse children are left to la­ment: we would confesse it a great mercy to fall into the hands of God and not of men: if we considered aright these things. Sixtly, 6 all the afflictions of this life are not worthy the glory laid up for us in the life to come, Rom. 8. Rom. 8.18. 2 Cor. 4.17. The griefe may be great, but the glory will be greater. For what comparison is there betweene a thing finite and a thing infinite. Tell me, my brethren, how many stripes is heauen worth? Nay what is a few drops of blood to the kingdome of heaven? how much lesse then can a word or two of reproach be worthy of that glory?

Lastly, from thence we may conclude, 4 that certainely the wicked shall not escape in the end, howsoever they may for a time. True it is, the ungodly abuse his patience, because sentence is not speedily executed against an evill worke, Eccl. 8.11.12 therefore the heart of the sonnes of men is fully set in them to do evill: but though a sinner doe evill an hundred times, and his daies be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that feare God, which feare before him. Hence it is, 1 Pet. 4.17.18. that the Apostle concludeth, the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel of God? &c. So the Prophet Ieremy fortelleth the destruction of Babylon the rod of his wrath, and assureth them thereof, because he would chastice and correct his owne people; can he then let them alone, or shall they escape? no doubtlesse: for loe [Page 44](saith the Lord) I begin to bring evill on the City which is called by my name, Ier. 25.29. and calleth upon my name, and should ye be utterly unpunished? ye shall not goe unpunished, &c. When we see how God hath delt with his owne servants, whom he tendereth as the apple of his eye, as we see in the examples of David for his uncleannesse, 2 Sam. 12.10.11. Psal. 106.33. Luc. 1.20. 2 Chro. 32.25. & 19.2. of Moses & Aaron for their disobedience, of Zachariah for his unbeleefe, of Hezekiah for his unthankfulnesse, of Iehoshaphat for his affinity with Ahab: may we not be assured, that he will visit with grie­vous plagues the rebellion of such as are strangers to him, nay his utter enemies? Nay his little finger in the latter end shall be heavier upon the reprobate, then his whole loines have beene upon his owne deare children. He chastised poore Lazarus in this life with penury and much misery, while the rich man was clad in purple and fared delici­ously every day: but what was the end and issue of them both? the poore man was carried by the Angels into Abrahams bosome, and the rich man lay in torments in hell. This made Abraham say, when he desired to find some ease or release, Lu [...]. 16.25. Sonne, remember that thou in thy life time receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evill things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.

Whose blood Pilate had mingled with, &c. the tower in Siloe fell and slew them.) The Galileans about their best actions are suddainly taken away by the sword, when they thought themselves most in safety. For where and when should we judge our selves more in safe-gard, then when we are about the service of God, and in the house of prayer? And the Iewes that lay under the towre were pressed and crushed to death in like manner: both exam­ples joyntly shewing, both that God hath many wayes and weapons to take away the life of men, and to consume them at a suddaine and in a moment, even while they perswade thēselves to be safe in a Sanctuary or priviledged place, and to be without all feare of death or of danger. [Page 41]This teacheth us, Doct. God hath many wayes to take away many mans life, and can doe it sud­denely. that the Lord hath variable and infinite wayes to take away mans life, and it is offentimes suddain­ly taken from them, even while they say peace and safety, suddaine destruction commeth upon them. There are two points to be marked in this doctrine, and both offered un­to us in these examples: the first is the variety and mani­fold meanes the Lord hath in store to cut off our dayes: the second is the uncertainty of our life, which is soone gone and taken away. Touching the variety, read Deut. 28. Deut. 28.20.21.22. &c. Ezek. 14.13.15.17.19. where the point is handled at large. See Ezek. 14. When the land sinneth against me by trespassing grievously, I will stretch out mine hand against it, and will breake the staffe of bread, and will send famine upon it: I will bring a sword upon the land, and say, sword goe through the land and cut them off: I will send the pestilence into the land, and poure out my fury upon it to cut them off. What should I speake of the over­flowing of waters, Gen. 7.4. of the violence of fire, Gen. 19.24. Psal. 106.18. of the opening of the earth, Numb. 16.31.32. of the stinging of Serpents, Numb. 21.6. of the eating of Wormes, Act. 12.23. of the destroying of the destroying Angel, 2 King. 19.35. and what not? Nay, he can make the meanes and instruments ordained to pre­serve life to be meanes to shorten our life. And touching the second point, to wit, the suddainnesse of death and the uncertainty of our life, nothing appeareth more evi­dent; though we be active, young, strong, fresh, lusty, and beautifull, and promise to our selves many dayes and yeares, yet our life is fraile and speedily gone, Iob. 14.1. Psal. 49.11.20. 1 Pet. 1:24. Luc. 12.20. Act. 5 5.10. Eccl. 9.12.

The reasons: first for the variety, Reas. 1 Esay. 7.18.19. he is the Lord of hostes, and hath every creature as his servants and soul­diers, even a royall army or campe to employ them: if he bid them goe, they goe; if he bid them come, they come: if he say doe this, they do it. We see this in the plagues of [Page 46]Egypt, Psal. 105.31.34. Psal. 105. He spake, and there came diverse sorts of flies and Lice in all their coastes: he spake and the Locustes came, 2 and Caterpillers, and that without number, &c. Second­ly, for the suddaine fading and vanity of our dayes, the Scripture expresseth it by comparisons, to shew the short­nesse thereof. Hence it is, that our life is compared to the swiftnesse of the weavers shittle; Psal. 103.15.16. Iob. 9.25. & 7.6. to a wind that passeth away; to a swift post that tarrieth not long in one place, but soone departeth to an other; to a Flower of the field which quick­ly wasteth and withereth: to a shadow which easily vanish­eth: 1 Chro. 29.15 Iob. 8.9. Psal. 90.4.9.109.23. 2 Sam 14.14 Iob. 13.28. to a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vani­sheth away, Iam. 4.14. The Prophet Dauid compareth it to an hand-breadth and to vanity, and what is lighter then vanity? to a watch in the night, to a tale that is told, so that our life is soone gone, and we fly away, and we are carried away as with a flood: to water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up againe: and to a garment that is moth-eaten We have spent our dayes as a thought, they are but in a maner begun, and yet in a maner they are already done. For what are forty or fifty yeares, when they are past? Nay a thousand yeares are but as yesterday when they are past, Psal. 90.4.

This doctrine is not hard to conceave, Ʋse. 1 neither obscure to the understand, we all know it and confesse it; but not one of an hundred maketh right use of it, we passe by it as an ordinary and common thing; it must be aspeciall worke of God to say it to our hearts, as Psal. 90. So teach us to number our dayes that we may apply our hearts unto wise­dome. Psal. 90.12. But some will say, nothing is more easie then to num­ber our dayes, and to reckon the yeares of our life: thus indeed we may doe, and yet never gather any profit by it, to say with the Prophet, Psal. 39.4. The first re­proofe Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my dayes, what it is: that I may know how fraile. I am. First, this serveth for reproofe, and that of sundry sorts, who never consider the uncertainty and in­instability [Page 47]of future things, and are unmindful of the frail­ty and inconstancy of our life and of all humane affaires. For how many are there, which thinke wholly and onely of heaping up riches and getting gaine, yet cannot tell who shall possesse them? Such a one was the rich man in the Gospel, Lue. 12. Alas, who knoweth what one day, or one night may bring forth? good, or evill? prosperity, or adversity? life, or death? One night or one day altereth and changeth many things, and turneth them quite upside downe. Many men alive, merry, and pleasant over night, and dead in the morning? in good health in the morning, and dead before night? Nay, many in one houre alive, and dead the same houre? is it not thus at this time? Many at night rich, and goe to bedde wealthy men, able to helpe & relieve others, but the next way impoverished and beg­gered, and utterly undone for ever. Many houses and buildings standing to day, which before to morrow may be destroyed and burnt sticke and stake to the ground. The sonnes and daughters of Iob were making merry together and feasting together in their elder brothers house, Iob. 1.18. but in one day, even in a moment they were oppressed and slaine by the fall of the house upon their heads, wherein they were, and not one of them escaped. Secondly, The second reproofe. it reprooveth such as delay and deferre the time of their repentance, and put it off from day to day, nay from yeare to yeare, and from time to time till there be no more time remaining for them: never remembring that the present day may be the last. We dreame oftentimes of a time to come heere­after, and in the meane season, death cutteth short our dayes. We ought evermore to gird up our loynes, ready to take our iourney, from hence we should watch and pre­pare our selves, Math. 25.8. and learne wisedome by the example of the Foolish Virgins, Math. 25. This was never more neces­sary then now it is, when God summoneth us by his judgments round about us, and yet we labour not to have [Page 48]oyle in our Lampes. The third reproofe. Thirdly, they are condemned that reioyce at other mens evils, albeit they hold life & all with the greatest uncertainty, and such as insult over the misery of others, & so adde affliction unto affliction. Doubtlesse if we were wel grounded & established in the present truth, that we know not how soone and suddainly our selves may end our dayes, we would not triumph at the miseries of our brethren. Hence it is that Salomon calleth us home­ward, Pro. 17.5. & 24.17.18. Pro. 17.5. He that is glad at calamity shall not be un­punished, and chap 24. Rejoyce not when thine enemie falleth and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth, lest the Lord see it, and he turne away his wrath from him, to wit, upon thy selfe, as the stone that rolleth upon him that moved it. We ought rather as fellow-members one of an other to be grieved and inwardly touched at the calamities of our brethren: and these are the dayes (if ever) that call for this affection from us. No man can be ignorant under what afflictions they lye, Amos. 6.6. Esay. 57.1. yet who is sorry for the affliction of Ioseph? and albeit the righteous perish, and mercifull men are taken away, yet no man layeth is to his heart. This is it that Iob complaineth of chap. 19. all mine inward friends abhorred me, they whom I loved are turned against me: then he cryeth out, Iob. 19.21. Have pitty upon me, have pitty upon me, Oye my friends: for the hand of God hath touched me. The Apostle chargeth us to remember them that are in bonds, Heb. 13.3. as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as be­ing your selves also in the body. First, being your selves sub­ject to the same afflictions, and lying open to the same dangers. Miseries and calamities, sicknesses and diseases are common, whatsoever happeneth to others may befall to our selves, we know not how soone; they are chaste­ned to day, we may be corrected, nay consumed to mor­row. Iob. 31.29. Let us be like minded and tender hearted with Iob, chap. 31. I rejoyced not at the destruction of him that hated me, neither have I suffered my mouth to sinne, by wishing a [Page 49]curse to his soule. This is the note and nature of a godly man, to be grieved at the evill of others, as we see in Davids example, 2 Sam. 1. He and his men mourned, fasted, 2 Sam. 1.12. and wept till even for Saul and for Ionathan, the one the head and gouernour of the people, the other his sonne; albeit Saul had persecuted him and hunted him up and downe as a Partridge in the Mountaines, and sought to take away his life, and albeit he were to succeed after him in the kingdome: and Psal. 35. Psal. 35.13.14. They rewarded me evill for good to the spoile of my soule: but as for me, when they were sicke, my clothing was sack-cloth, I humbled my selfe with fasting, I behaved my selfe as though they had beene my friend, or brother, I bowed downe hea [...]ily as one that mourneth for his mother. On the other side, would we know a wicked man? he is not onely without naturall affections, but insulteth and grinneth his teeth at the miseries of others, especially of the faithful. Thus doth the Prophet describe the malice of his enemies, Vers. 15 in mine adversity they reioyced and gathered themselves to gether against mee, yea the abjects gathered them­selves together, they did teare me, and ceased not. 2 Sam. 16.5. 1 King. 2.8. O how did Shemei laugh and leape for joy in Davids misery, he cursed him with an horrible curse: but what was the end? the curse causelesse shall not come, saith the wise man Pro. 26.2. but was that all? no, the Lord met with him in the end, for he perished and no man lamented for him, saying, The fourth reproofe. Ah my brother. Fourthly, such are convinced, who breath nothing but threatnings as it were fire and flames out of their mouthes, and thinke upon nothing but revenge a­gainst their enemies, never considering the shortnesse of their owne lives, and that vengeance may first meet them in the way, and fall upon their owne heads. Such never marke nor meditate with themselves, Psal. 7.16. & 9.15. Eccl. 10.8. what danger may lye at their owne doores, and hang over their heads, as they that dig a pit for others, and fal into it first themselves: or spread a nett to ensnare others, and their owne foote is [Page 50]taken therein. We see an example hereof in Haman, Ester. Est. 7.10. 7. He builded a paire of Gallous for an other more righteous then himselfe, and himselfe was hanged thereon: as also the adversaries of Daniel cast him into the denne of Lyons to be devoured, Dan. 6.24. but themselves were destroyed, for the Lyons had the mastery of them and brake all their bones in pieces or ever they came at the bottome of the denne. Lastly, The fift re­proofe. this meditation reproveth such as are unmercifull toward those that are in misery and necessity, and will part with nothing, never regarding what mischiefe may hang over their owne heads, and in what wonderfull un­certainty they hold their lives, their estates, their goods, and all that they have. For what store and plenty soever we have present, we do not know what want and penury we may suffer. Many that have had abundance and super­fluity of all things, have also had lamentable experience of great misery before their last end. Eccl. 11.1.2. This doth Salomon teach Eccl. 11. Cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many dayes: give a portion to seven and also to eight, for thou knowest not what evill shall be upon the earth. Where he exhorteth to liberality and bountifulnesse to­ward the poore, and not thinke we have done enough, when we have given to one or two: yea he stirreth up thereunto from the uncertainty of things which we dreame to be certaine, All earthly things are uncertaine in sundry re­spectes. and not to measure things by our present fruition and possession of them. All earthly things, as life it selfe, are uncertaine, and that in divers respects. For first it is uncertaine, whether we shall prolong our dayes to shew our bounty toward other, 1 as Eccl. 9. Whatso­ever thy hand shall find to doe, doe it with thy might: Eccl. 9.10. for there is no worke in the grave whither thou goest. VVe must walke in the light while we have it, Gal. 6.10. the darkenesse commeth wherein no man can worke: as we have therefore opportuni­ty, let us doe good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. 2 Gal. 6.10. Secondly, whether our [Page 51]substance which we have in present shall continue and abide with us, or not. It is not with the world and worldly things, as with spirituall and heavenly things. Math. 6.19. For the moth and rust may corrupt the former, and theeues breake through and steale them away, but they cannot deprive us of the latter. Therefore Salomon warneth us that riches are deceitfull, that we should not lay up our treasure upon earth, but in heaven, Pro. 23.5. Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves winges and fly away as an Eagle doth toward heaven. So the rich in this world are charged not to be high-minded, 1 Tim. 6.17. nor to trust in uncertaine riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enioy. Thirdly, 3 we know not whether our selves or at least some of ours (how sure­ly soever we may thinke we have feathered our nestes) may be driven to pouerty and misery, and compelled even to begge our bread and crave an almes of others, and hap­pily of those whom we have despised and derided, as much as now we have, and as rich as now we seeme to be, and how setled soever we suppose our estate to remaine; when happily we may finde others as hard-hearted and streight­laced toward our selves, as we have beene toward them. And it is the just judgement of God, that they find no mercy, who have shewed no mercy. Besides, among all uncertainties this is not the least of all, whether our heire, sonne or daughter, or other, shall waste & consume all that we have gotten and gathered, and whatsoever we have heaped and hoarded together, or a stranger possesse all: or if we were sure to leave our substance to the heire of our bodies, Eccl. 2.19. Who knoweth whether he shall be a wise man or a Fools that shall have rule over all our labour? Let us there­fore follow the counsell of our Saviour Luc. 16. Luc. 16.9. I say unto you, make you friends of this earthly Mammon, that when ye faile, they may receive you into everlasting habitations: he meaneth that our good workes will give a friendly testi­mony [Page 52]to our consciences that we are the elect of God, and have not beleeved in vaine. To conclude, let us remem­ber the saying of the Prophet, after that he hath brought in the counterfeit fasting of the hypocrites of his time, complaining that they had fasted & God regarded it not, and pleasing themselves in the outward worke, Esay. 58. saying, Is this such a fast as I have chosen, a day for a man to afflict his soule, to how downe his head as a bulrush, and to spread sack­cloth and ashes under him? wilt thou call this a fast & an accep­table day to the Lord? He proccedeth to teacheth them and us by them what to doe, Is not this the fast that I have chosen, to loose the bands of wickednesse, to deale thy bread to the hungry, lo bring the poore to thy house, when thou seest the naked that thou cover him, and that thou hide not thy selfe from thine owne flesh? Hereby we make our fast acceptable to God, otherwise covetous and miserable persons may like of it, thereby to save somewhat both to pinch their ser­vants at home and to defraud their owne bellies: but if it be performed aright, then shall our righteousnesse goe before us, and the glory of the Lord shall be our re­ward.

Secondly, 2 glory not of the time to come, Pro. 27.1. nei­ther ascribe any power to our selves, let us not resolve and appoint what we will doe: we know not what God hath decreed and determined concerning us. The Apostle Iames concludeth this, Iam. 4.13. chap. 4. Goe to now ye that say, To day or to morrow we will goe into such a city and continue there a yeare, and buy, and sell, and get gaine; whereas ye know not what shal be on the morrow! for what is your life? it is even a vapour that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away: for that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, both we shall live, and doe this, or that. But on the other side, it should hasten and further our repentance, and cause us to humble our selves under the mighty hand of God, as the Ninivites did, who hea­ring their end was neere at hand, they proclaimed a fast, [Page 53]they put on sack-cloth, they cryed unto God from the greatest of them to the least of them. And who knoweth how nigh at hand our time may be! are not many gone and swept away, that seemed before as safe as we? The Sodomites thought themselves as free from judgement, and as farre from their end, as we doe; Gen. 19.23.24. the Sunne shined upon them, they promised to themselves a faire day, but before night they suffered a perpetuall night and darknesse of death, they were destroyed with fire and brimst one from heaven. So it was with the Egyptians, they went quietly to bed, and slept soundly, but it came to passe at midnight, Exod. 12.29. the Lord smote all the first-borne in the land of Egypt, &c. The like I might say of Belshazzar, Dan. 5. and of Anarias and Sapphira Act. 5. Now is the time of our acceptance, of turning and changing; after death, there is no change at all.

Thirdly, 3 learne to content our selves with every estate and condition, whatsoever shall befall us. Our life is vaine and suddainly gone, we have a short journey to make, Cicer. de Se­nectute. and therefore the lesse provision will serve our turne. It is great folly for a man that hath a short way to goe and a lit­tle iourney to take, to carry greater provision with him for it. A little will serve to bring us to our iournies end. 1 Tim. 6.7. Heb. 13.5. Therefore the Apostle saith, 1 Tim. 6. We brought nothing into this world, and it is certaine we can carry nothing out: and having food and raiment, let us be therewith content.

Lastly, let us be wise to number our dayes, and to mea­sure out the length of our time, that we may know how fraile we are. There is a great art and skill required to doe this aright: few have learned this knowledge. Hence it is that the Prophet himselfe turneth himselfe to God to be instructed of him, as one that was not able of himselfe to conceive it without such a master, Lord teach me: Psal. 39.4. & 90.12. Lord make me to know mine end, &c. This is the best art of num­bering and skill of mensuration. It is a vaine thing to be [Page 56]able to measure our land, and to number our sheepe and o­ther cattell, and yet have no knowledge how to number our dayes. The num­bring of our dayes aright hath many branches. A man may seeke the register and know his age, and not number his dayes; but suffer whole yeares to passe over his head, and the greatest part of all his life without heavenly wisedome. This point hath many branches: first account the present time and day to be as the last; 1 and so live, as if every day we should die, that we may prepare our selves for the day of our dissolution, Luc. 12.10. when we must go hence & be no more: not as the rich man that numbred falsely, and deceived himselfe in his accounts, Thou hast much laid up for many yeares, take thine ease, eate, drinke and be merry, and therefore is worthily called a foole for his labour. There can be no worse deceit, then when a man deceiveth himselfe in his reckonings. 2 Secondly, we number our daies, when we looke backe and remember the miserie into which sinne hath brought our nature, Gen. 2. Must not that needs be bitter, which hath brought forth such bitter fruit? Gen. 3.17.18 the ground was cursed to bring forth thornes and thistles: but man bringeth forth more sowre and unsave­ry fruits of ungodlinesse and unrighteousnesse, and hath pul­led down that goodly building which God had set up, that only a little rubbage therof remaineth. An evill tree cannot bring forth good fruit: so man drinketh iniquity as wa­ter, and cannot bring that which is cleane from the foun­taine that is uncleane. 3 Thirdly, we learne thereby to dy daily. 1 Cor. 15.31. This the Apostle practised 1 Cor. 15. I protest by your rejoycing which I have in Christ Iesus our Lord, I dy daily. We must exercise and enure our selves in dying by little and little, so long as we live here upon earth, before we come tody indeed: and then I doubt not but we shall depart hence in peace & dye well in the end. Every afflictiō is a preparation to death, and a putting of us in minde of our dissolution. For he died daily, not onely because he was often in danger of death, that there was often but a steppe betweene death and him, but because in all his troubles and [Page 55]dangers he made himselfe ready, not knowing when God might call him. He that will inable himselfe to beare the crosse of all crosses, I meane death, Iob. 18.24. called the King of ter­rours, must first of all learne to beare smaller & lesser cros­ses patiently and meekly, as sicknesse of body, trouble of minde, anguivh of conscience, losse of goods, greatnesse of paines, death of friends, burdens of poverty, lacking of maintenance, crosses in our affaires and many such like, which are as the harbingers or messengers of death, ma­king the way before it. Learne we therefore to enter­taine them, and make good use of them, that when death the end of all commeth indeed to cut off our dayes, as the sickle reapeth downe the corne that is ripe and ready to be carried into the barne, we may looke it in the face, bid it welcome, and prepare to meete it halfe way. O how bitter and distastfull is death, to them that live in the pleasures of sinne, and how sweet to the distressed! 4 Fourthly, labour to take away the power and sting and strength of death. It is as a Scropion that carrieth poison in the taile of it: and therefore we must deale with it, as they doe with a venimous beast, pull out the sting of it, & then it cannot hurt. What is that, may some say? 1 Cor. 15.56 The sting of death is sinne, saith the Apostle, as the strength of sinne is the law. Or let us deale with it as the Philistines dealt with Sampson, they never rested, but laboured day and night to know, wherein his strength lay, Iudg. 16.5. that they might weaken him and make him like to one of them. So ought we to doe. If any aske, wherin lyeth the strength of death, that it beateth downe so many to the ground, nay throw­eth and thrusteth them headlong downe to hell? I answer, it lyeth altogether in our sinnes, and therefore we must la­bour earnestly to take away the strength of them by re­pentance from dead workes, and faith in Christ Iesus. So many sinnes as we maintaine and cherish in our selves, so many stings of death be in us, the least whereof is able to [Page 56]wound our soules to eternall death. The venime of these sticketh deeply in us, it must be the labour of our whole life to pull it out. 5 Fiftly, whatsoever a man would do, when he is dying and departing out of this world, let him doe the same every day while he is living: and what he would doe when he sicke, let him doe it while he is in health. The most wicked, Exod. 8.8. 1 King. 13.4. when he is dying, will pray and desire others to pray for him. So I haraoh did in his troubles: so did Ieroboam that made Israel to sin, when his hand was withe­red and dried up, that he could not pull it into him againe. Sixtly, 6 he that would live when he is dead, must die while he is alive, namely, to his sinnes. If we would die the death of the righteous, we must have the conversation of the righteous: otherwise it shall goe no better with us, then it went with Balaam, Num. 23.10. he would have his soule dy the death of the righteous, but he would not live the life of the righteous. A profitable meditation in these dangerous times, we know not how soone we may be called to give an account of our stewardship. 7 Lastly, let us begin our eternall life here upon earth, Phil. 3.20. and even now have our con­versation in heaven, Col. 1.13. and seeke those things that are above, where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God. So the Apostle describing the estate of the faithfull saith, God hath delivered us from the power of darknesse, Col. 3.1. and hath translated vs into the kingdome of his deare sonne. It be­hoveth us therefore to be watchfull and in a readinesse, like the wise Virgins against the comming of the bride­groome, lest we be taken unawares, and swept away from his presence, as the chaffe which the winde driveth away. To this purpose Christ exhorteth Mar. Mar. 13.35.36. 13. upon this ground to watch & pray, & to take heed, lest he comming suddainly to us, or calling us suddainly to come to him, doe find us sleeping, Of that houre and that day knoweth no man, no not the Angels that are in heaven, neither the Sonne, but the Father onely: take ye heed therefore, watch and pray, [Page 57]for ye know not the time, when the master of the house commeth, at even, or at midnight, or at the cocke crowing, or in the mor­ning, lest comming suddainly he find you sleeping: and what I say unto you, I say unto all, watch: thus heteaceh thus to apply generall commandements particularly to our selves, and this was never more necessary then in these pre­sent daies of affliction.

Whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.) Doct. The vvicked are by nature cruell and bloody. See here the violent practise of Pilate: behold a matter of great impiety, without having respect to persons, to time, place or action whereabout they went that offered sacri­fice. He was the governour and judge in Iudea, he should have preserved peace, and prohibited others from such outrage: This teacheth us that wicked and ungodly men are bloody and cruel, without mercy or naturall affection. See this at large, Amos 1. Amos. 1.3. Obad. ver. 12.13. describing the enemies of the Church, They have threshed Gilead, that is, the inhabitants of Gilead, with threshing instruments of iron, they pursued their brethren with the sword, and cast off all pitty, they have ript up women with child, &c. This is to be noted in the Edomites against their brother Iacob, they rejoyced in the day of his destruction, and laid hands on his substance in the day of his calamitie, and stood in the crosse way to cut off those of his that did escape, &c. Behold the truth of this far­ther confirmed in the examples of Caine, of Nimrod, of Esau, of Pharaoh, of Saul, of Hazael, of Agag, of Herod, of infinite others, whose tender mercies have beene terri­ble cruelties, as Salomon speaketh, Pro. 12.10.

The reasons are evident: for first who ruleth in them? Reason. 1 and who carrieth them with might and maine, and hath the sway and swing of their whole life? Doubtlesse they are led by the spirit of Satan, Ioh. 8.44. who was a murtherer from the beginning, 1 Pet. 5.8. and the great Dragon that persecuted the wo­man that brought forth the man-child: the roring Lyon that walketh after his prey, and seeketh whom he may de­voure. [Page 58]For that which is said of Caine, is true of all the company of the ungodly; he was of that wicked one and slew his brother, because his owne workes were evill and his brothers good. This our Saviour also teacheth, Revel. 2. Behold the devill shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried: not that Satan was incarnate and become a layler in his owne person, but he understandeth the instruments of the devill, such as obeyed him as the servant his master. Secondly, 2 by the names given to them in holy Scripture, we may see and judge of their natures. For they have the names of such beastes given unto them as are given to spoiling and ravening, as Lyons, Beares, Bulls, Dogs, Leopards, Psal. 22.12.13.16. Wolves, & such like, of which the Scripture is full in every place, that we should not be ignorant of them.

This serveth to reprove all such as are guilty of violence and cruelty, Ʋse 1 Severall sorts of cruelty. of oppression and unmercifulnesse toward o­thers: and hereof there are sundry sorts, and herein we may offend sundry waies. 1 First, when we goe beyond the bounds of justice. For extremity of justice is injustice, or a kind of cruelty: so that we offend by exercising heinous tyranny in inflicting punishment even against offenders and malefactours. If too much mercy be a kinde of cruel­ty, much more over much rigour of justice. There is mer­cy to be shewed in justice, & there is justice to be shewed in mercy. In the law of Moses the Iudge is charged to iustifie the righteous, and to condemne the wicked: and if he be worthy to be beaten, he shall receive according to his fault; Deut. 25.3. forti [...] stripes he may give him, and not exc [...]ed. So then these are to be punished, 3 but not with cruel [...]y. Secondly, 2 by fighting and quarelling, beating or maiming our neighbour in his body, reprooved by Moses, Levit. 24. Levit. 24.19.20. if a man cause any blemish in his neighbour, as he hath done, so shall it be done to him, &c. as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shal it be done to him againe. True it is, many carnall men of this world know no other valour or vertue, then hurting, laming, quarelling and desire of [Page 59]revenge, which breath forth cruelty & are often times the forerunners of bloody murther. Such as have neither hand nor heart to fight against the enemies of their soules, and against spirituall wickednesse in high places, to fight the battels of the Lord against sinne, Satan, and the world, but are ready as cowards and dastards to yeeld unto them the field, yet are never well but when they are fighting and quarreling, chalenging and provoking others; contrary to the earnest persuasion of the Apostle, As the elect of God, Col. 3.13. holy and beloved, put on tender mercy and kindnesse, hum ble­nesse of minde, meekenesse, long suffering, forbearing one ano­ther and for giving one another, if any man have a quarell to an other, even as Christ forgave you, even so doe ye. And doubt­lesse if the spirit of the Lord were in us, and we had any feeling of his love in sparing and forgiving us, we could not but expresse the power thereof, and the spirit of meeknesse would mortifie in us more and more this thirst after revenge, and we would learne of our Saviour, Math. 11.29. who hath said, I am meeke and lowly in heart, and ye shall finde rest unto your soule [...]. Thirdly to procure any way the death of others, and the shortning of their dayes. What cruelty is shewed in infectious times. This may be done many wayes, either by the sword, or by famine, or by false accusations, and such like. But not to speake of all these meanes, it is done in these infectious times, when the pestilence walketh in darknesse, & destruction wasteth at noone day, three wayes especially, by such as restraine them, by such as are restrained, and by such as are appoin­ted to attend them that are restrained. First they offend that restraine them, but doe not relieve them: that are very carefull to shut them up, and then shut up their compassi­on from them, and their farther care of them, like those that bind a man hand and foot, and then beate him. This is extreme cruelty, that a naturall man would not shew to his bruit beast. If a carnall man have any of his cattell sicke and he shut them up, he will use all meanes to recover [Page 60]them: and ought we not much more to supply the wants of our poore brethren made after the jmage of God, and for whom Christ Iesus died? shall we adde affliction to them that are afflicted, and make the heavy burden they beare more heavy, and cause them to breake out into un­lawfull and ungodly courses which may not be warranted?

Secondly, 2 when such as are infected goe about to infect others. These are unruly persons, the very sons of Belial, that breake all lawes of God and man: that cry out, shall we be restrained & cooped up, as it were imprisoned like malefactors? we will breake their bands, and cast away their cordes from us: We will have our liberty, and who shall hinder us? we will have what we list, or else we will make those rich grubbers repent it? These are impatient under the hand of God, and will not stoope downe at his correction; but as refractary beasts lift up the heele against him: whereas they should consider that it is God which restraineth them and not man. Hence it is, that the Lepers in the law were shut up, Levit. 13.46. and dwelt apart by themselves, as Levit. 13. All the dayes wherein the plague shall be in him, he shall be defiled, 2 Chro. 26.21. he is uncleane: he shall dwell alone, without the campe shall his habitation be: yea even Kings and Princes dwelt in sever all houses, and were cut off from the house of the Lord. This rule holdeth by proportion in contagious diseases. Therefore when God visiteth us and striketh us, we must not strike others: and when we are infected we must not infect others: for then we make our selves guil­ty of blood in Gods sight. Be it that we may goe away scotfree; and not be accounted as murtherers in the courts of men, yet we shall be arriagned as guilty in the high court of heaven; and albeit the lawes of men should not take hold upon us, yet the law of God will find us out, wherein we are commanded to preserve life, and therefore much more forbidden to shorten the dayes of any, & bring them to an untimely death. This is an heinous crime and [Page 61]horrible cruelty, and bringeth a blot upon our own soules. True it is, we may hurt their bodie [...], but we hurt our own soules & wound our consciences more then we can annoy others: and we may carry the plague into their bodies, but we admit a greater plague into our owne soules. Thirdly, 3 when such as are appointed or hired to looke to such as are infected, doe not only shew no mercy, but ra­ther cruelty; and rather regard to enrich themselves, then recover the diseased. The properties required in Church­widdowes that were to attend the sicke and the poore, ought to be found in these, that they be such as be well re­ported of for good workes, and have relieved the afflicted, washed the Saints feete, and have diligently followed every good worke. 1 Tim. 5.10. This is a glasse wherein such should behold themselves and their office, that are called to looke to o­thers in their extremity, to exhort to counsell, and com­fort them, to support them, to feed them, that are not able to helpe themselves. An other branch of cruelty is by using any of the creatures of God hardly. 4 This doth Sa­lomon reprove Pro. 12.10. a righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: how much more ought he, of his servant, though he be never so meane, poore, or simple. In the in­stitution of the Sabbath the Lord had regard and reference to the servant, Deut. 5. Deut. 5.14.25. That thy man-servant and thy maid­servant may rest as well as thou, and remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, &c. And wherefore did the God of all mercies forbid in the law to kill the damme when they had taken her young ones away, Deut. 22.6. but that he would have it known, that he alloweth cruelty & wrong to be offered no not so much as to the seeliest birds or beastes. It is true that the mercies of the wicked are cruel: and it is true that many wicked men regard the liues of their beasts, and provide plenty of fodder for them: but wherefore? doubtlesse it is not simply in mercy and love to the creature, but in love to themselves, & covetousnesse [Page 52]and desire of their owne gaine, either that they may doe them the more worke, or carry them the better on their backes, or live the longer to doe them service, or be more sailable to yeeld them mony, and not to obey God there­in that made them. The mercies of the wicked how they are cruell. True it is the wickedst man will pre­tend mercy; but their mercy pretended is cruelty exten­ded: for first they are or would seeme to be very carefull, that their people and families should have their recreation and refreshing, their liberty from their labour, and times for their sports and delights: yea they pretend necessity, and plead their cause that they must have it. What, say they, would you not have them take any pleasure? what? nothing but droyling and moyling, and never be at rest? But when shall this be? if at any time, I warrant you, upon the Lords day, when they may doe them no service, when it shall doe more hurt to their servants soules, then good to their bodies; and when they cannot be suffered to worke for them, they care not if they play, neither what else they do; but whosoever giveth, must learne to give of his owne: the Lords day is none of his own to give away. Secondly, 2 they are sometimes forward in giving, but not to Iobs almesmen, the poore labourer, the blind, the lame, the aged, the impotent, the maimed, but to the idle and sturdy begger, whom it were more mercy to punish, & it would doe them more good. 3 Thirdly, by saving many male­factours from punishment, like Saul that spared Agag, or like the Iewes that would have Barabbas let loose, who had bin put in prison for murther and sedition. 5 Fiftly, by laughing and taunting all the infirmities of our brethren, reproved in the law of God, Levit. 19.14. Thou shalt not curse the deafe, nor put a stumbling blocke before the blinde, but shalt feare thy God. Prov. 17.5. I am the Lord: and Pro. 17. Who so mocketh the poore, re­proacheth his maker: & he that is glad at calamities shal not be nupunished. Lastly, to deale hardly with the poore among us that are most helplesse and succourlesse, of which are [Page 63]foure sortes often ioyned together, the day labourer, Mal. 3.5. the comfortlesse widow, the fatherlesse child, and the destitute stranger. Touching labourers oppressed. The first branch is of such as with-hold the la­bourers wages, often reprooued and condemned in the law and the Prophets, Levit. 19.13. Deut. 24.14. Ier. 22.3.13. Doubtlesse if there were not great wickednesse and crue [...] ­ty in men, it had beene needlesse to set downe any such threatnings as these here contained. We know the poore have no rents nor revenues to live upon, as the richer sort have: The poore laboures hovv defrauded. their lands and inheritance is the labour of their hands: it is therefore against all right and reason, that they should be deprived of the fruit of their labours. This is done many wayes, first when the wages of their worke is denied, or detained, or delaied, without respect or regard of the necessity of the workman. Secondly, though it be not wholly wrung and wrested from them, yet it is often clipped or gelded, and so a part is kept away. For if we constraine a poore man to labour for us, and then will pay him but by halfes, and use him as the Ammonites did the messengers of David, 2 Sam. 10.4. who cut off their garments by the middle this also is open violence and oppression, Thirdly when we will seeme to deale justly and truly with them, and pay them all, but it is not in mony according to Covenant, but with old shooes, or with ragges and reliques of our own, or with cast garments which we have left, yet sell them & value them againe to our servants, as if they were new, and sometimes at a dearer rate. Thus both we shew our owne cruelty, and abuse their simplicity. Fourthly, when we see a poore man out of worke, and that he must needes passe through our handes, if we take occasion and advantage thereby to bargaine with him as we list, and to give him little or nothing, because we know he knoweth not other­wise where to have worke and whereabout to set him­selfe, and begin to say within our selves, This fellow is a fit pray and booty fallen into my hands, he cannot escape me: [Page 64]he is quite out of worke and apparrell, now I may hire him for a crust; now I have him at an advantage, I can use him at my pleasure: now he will be glad to serve for a song, or a morsell of bread: what is this but horrible and monstrous oppression? for albeit through the wrongs and iniuries they lye under, as a greevous burden that presseth them downe, they dare not complaine or mutter, much lesse sue and bring an action: yet the hire it selfe detained, and the wrong sustained crieth out and is ready to wit­nesse against such cruell oppressours that grinde the faces of the poore, G [...]. 4.10. as it is said of the blood of Abel, behold the voyce of the blood of thy brother crieth unto me from the ground so the Apostle Iames teacheth that the hire of the labourers, Iam. 5.4. which have reaped downe your fields, which is by you kept backe by fraud, cryeth: and the cries of them which have reaped, are entred into the eares of the Lord of the Sabbath. Levit. 19.13. This is in­deed and in truth no better then a cunning kind of stealing and robbing. This they must learne, that use such winching to save a penny or halfe-penny out of a poore mans wages which being given could doe them no hurt, but to the poore man much good: whereas we should provide not onely that they may live, but that they may live cheere­fully and comfortably. Otherwise, what doe we, but prolong their lives in misery and penury, and of their wives and children in beggery and necessity. How many are there every where, that care not how much they spend in surfetting and drunkennesse, in revelling and riotous­nesse, in feasting and banketting, who thinke they never bestow enough in complements and entertainment? yet grudge at a little given to the poore, and strive who shall bestow least; Touching widowes and fatherlesse children, how wronged. such a one is though the best husband and most provident, he is judged to have made the best bar­gaine, and to goe away with all the praise and glory in the world. The second and third branches are touching the widow and the fatherlesse: God will be avenged of such as [Page 65]vexe and oppresse them, Deut. 10.18. & 14.29. & 24.17. True it is, many widowes are tendred and regarded, and much made off while their husbands are living, and so are children in their father life time: but when once their husbandes and parents are dead, they are not once looked upon, but left to the wide world and soon out of mind. It is greefe and sorrow enough to the widow to loose her husband, and the children their parents: howbeit the cruelty of men spareth not to adde more affliction: but the Lord will take their cause into his owne hand, and reser­veth to himselfe the punishment of such oppressours. See this Exod. 22. Ye shall not afflict any widow, Exod. 22.23.24. or fatherlesse child: if thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely heare their cry, and my wrath shall waxe hote, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall be wi­dowes, and your children fatherlesse: Where he threatneth not onely to punish them, but in like manner and measure as they had sinned, according to the saying of our Saviour, With what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: Math. 7.2. Touching strangers▪ how they a [...] iniuried. and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you againe. The last is touching strangers, that is, such as being borne in a forraine land, are willing to forsake it, to come and dwell where the word of God is truly and plentifully preached, being peacable to the state, and proselytes to the same reli­gion, and serue the same God with us: doubtlesse God will be avenged of such as hurt or oppresse them, for he will not have such vexed & wrenged. This was forbidden to the Iewes, Exod. 22. Exod. 22.21. Levit. 19.33. Thou shalt neither vexe a siranger op­presse him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: & Levit. 19. If a stranger sojourn among you ye shal not vexe him he shal be as one borne among you & thou shalt love him as thy selfe for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: so Deut. 24. Deut. 24.18. Thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman, in Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee thence therefore? command thee to doe this thing. This was often remembred and repeated to the [Page 66]Iewes. But what, may some say, doth this belong to us? who were never in Egypt, Ioh. 8.33. much lesse strangers in Egypt, or any other land, as the Iewes said, We were never in bondage to any man. I answere, though we were not, yet we know not whether we shall be, neither how soone we may be: Pro. 27.1. Math. 7.12. we know not what hangeth over our heads, nei­ther what a day may bring forth. Besides, the common rule leadeth us to this homanity, Whatsoever ye would that other men should doe unto you, doe ye even so to them: for this is the law and the Prophets: Our forefathers have for the truths sake beene driven from house and home, and beene con­strained to forsake wife and children, lands and goods, and have received comfort and releefe in a strange land, where God inclined the hearts of the magistrates to favour them: is it not then reason, that we now should doe the like, and shew mercy? But how many wicked and envious men are there among us, which murmure and grudge, that such should come over and dwell among us, who have left their countrie for their conscience sake and the Gospels? They pretend and plead that they grow rich and wealthy; they see it, and grudge and grieve at the fight of it. For an­swere unto these, 1 Sam. 2.8. observe these few points: First, who made them so? 1. Tim. 4.8. Is it not God? he maketh poore and maketh rich, he bringeth low and lifteth up, and doe we envy them, and repine at them? Or shall our eye be evill toward them, because his is good? Secondly, it is Gods blessing upon them (no doubt) for the faiths sake, because they have preferred the Gospel of God before their owne goods. And indeed godlinesse is profitable to all things, and hath the promise of the things of this life, and of that which is to come. To this purpose our Saviour teacheth, Every one that hath forsaken houses, Math. 19.29. Luc. 18.29.30. or bretheren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my names sake, and for the kingdome of Gods sake, shall receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting. Thirdly [Page 67]Is it not better they should be rich, then poore? better, I say, not for them onely, but even for others? If they were poore, they must be releeved: for we are debters to Iew and Gentile, even to the Turkes and infidels, so farre as we doe not helpe them against Christ and Christianity. If they be rich, they will not be chargable to any of us, but will rather be helpfull unto others. Fourthly, What is the cause they grow so rich? because they are painfull and industrious. And wherefore are many poore and in need among us, but because they are idle and will not labour, nor use the meanes that these do? Lastly, I am perswaded, that God blesseth us and the land the better for giving en­tertainment to the distressed members of the Churches scattered abroad: We have done some good to them, but much more to our selves, as the Shunamite that entertained the Prophet of God did him and his servant good, but she did more to her selfe and her owne house. Thus we see what sundry branches there are of cruelty, all which as we should alwayes consider, so most especially in these dayes of our publike humiliation, when we make solemne pro­fession of our unfained repentance.

Secondly, 2 judge by this note and property of the religion of the Church of Rome. Such as have not understanding to judge of the doctrine, let them open their eyes and be­hold their practises, for by these fruits ye shal know them. Whom have they in their fury spared? What age, what sexe, what person? Surely neither high nor low; infant nor suckling, no not such as never saw the light; neither living nor dead: neither distressed nor distracted, sheading the blood of the Saints, as water spilt upon the ground, and making themselves drunke with the blood of poore Christians, a thousand times better and more righteous then themselves. Never did the Turkesand savages shew themselves so beastly and barbarous, as these counterfeit or bastard-Christian-Papists, who boast they serve Christ; [Page 68]but serve Antichrist. They can suffer the Iewes that daily blaspheme Christ Iesus our blessed Saviour to dwell among them: but they will not suffer those to buy or sell or abide among them that professe Christ as wel as them­selves, nay better, and looke for salvation and eternall life wholly through his merits and not their owne. The soules that lye under the Altar cry unto God without ceasing, day and night for vengeance against such blood-suckers, saying, Revel. 6.10. How long, Lord, holy and true, doest thou not judge & avenge our blood on them that dwel on the earth! Their king­killing doctrine, is of the same stampe, that Princes have forfeited their crowne and Scepters, & their subjects dis­charged of the duty of alleageance, whensoever the Pope pleaseth to pronounce them heretickes, and to thunder against them his Excommunications. The Gun-powder treason shall remaine for ever as a monument of this un­matchable cruelty. It is and hath beene ever otherwise with the true Church of God, there shal no such murther­ings and massacres be found and commited in all the moun­taine of Lord: Esay. 11.9. but the Wolfe shall dwell with the Lambe, they shall not hurt nor destroy in all mine holy mountaine, saith the Lord.

Lastly, 3 let us earnestly and often desire of God to pre­serve us from such unreasonable and wicked men, Object. nay wild beastes in the outward shape of men, 2 Thess. 3. It wil be objected touching those of the Romish religion, though they be enemies to the Gospel and to our profession, yet we see no such matter in them, they live as peaceable men, and the quiet of the land, they meddle not with others, or against others. Answ. But what is the reason? or where is the cause? doubtlesse, not in the persons, but in the times. Charge the times, and the persons will soone be changed, the difference wil soon be espied. They are now as a Lyon within a grate, or a Wolfe kept in a chaine. Let the Lyon loose, set the Wolfe at liberty, ye shall soone see him as [Page 69]fierce and cruell as ever he was. Remember what they were when they bare sway: such as they were then, such they are now in heart & affection; such as the fathers were, such are their children; a cruell, a barbarous, a bloody ge­neration, ever delighted with shedding blood. Blessed be God the father of our Lord Iesus Christ, who hath not given us as a pray unto their teeth: and let them fulfill the measure of their sinnes, that upon them may come all the righteous blood which they have shed upon the face of the earth.

Above all the Galileans, &c. or those eighteene, &c.) The examples of others and the miserable event upon them are propounded to teach the Disciples and all others to turne o God, these men judging these punishments to be the wages of unrighteousnesse. Doct. Examplesf Gods judg­ments upon some, are pro­fitable to o­thers. This teacheth that the exam­ple of Gods judgements, which he useth and executeth upon nations, kingdomes, cities, families, houses, and par­ticular persons are profitable meanes to stay from that euil which God hath chastised in others. In the glasse of others, wee may looke upon our owne faces. We see this Deut. 24. Remember Miriam, Deut. 24.9. what the Lord thy God did upon her by the way, 2 Sam. 11.20 21. after ye were come forth out of Egypt. the Like is noted 2 Sam. 11. Wherefore approched ye so nigh the City when ye did fight? knew ye not that they would shoote from the wall? who smote Abimelech the sonnes of Ierubesheth? 2 King. 9.31. did not a woman cast a piece of a Mil-stone upon him from the wall that he died, &c. Math. 24.37. The words of Iezabel are grounded upon this foundation, Luc. 17.27.32. Had Zimri peace, that slew his master? Christ our Saviour chargeth all to beware of excesse, propounding the examples of Noah and Lot, to tye up their hearts to looke after the appea­rance of Christ in glory, and to draw them from the love of the world: and afterward he addeth to the same end, Remember Lots wife. So that we see, Dan. 5.20.22 the examples of Gods judgment in former times are profitable to them that [Page 70]come after to hold them in the wayes of righteousnesse, and to keepe them from the pathes of death.

This is proved plainely from the unchangable nature of God, Reason. 1 he is one and the same now, as he was in former times, his words are not yea and nay, but yea and amen; he is not variable and unconstant, Mat. 3.6. Iam. 1.17. like a reed shaken with the winde hither and thither, but remaineth ever the same, Psal. 102.27. With him is no variablenesse, neither shadow of turning, he is the Lord, he changeth not, and his hatred against sinne is no way diminished. 1 Cor. 10.11 6. Secondly, from the end of Gods chasticements, which is to respect others, as well as those that are chasticed: for they are written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come, Rom. 15.4. and these things are our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evill things as they also lusted. Now let us apply these things.

Behold here the great kindnesse of God, who teacheth and instructeth us many wayes, Ʋse. 1 not onely by his word, by his mercies, by his present judgments, by his promises, by his threatnings, but even by examples of things recor­ded, that have fallen out, all of them were written for our good. The moe wayes we have, the moe meanes God hath used, the more inexcusable we are. We are giuen to looke upon examples, and to behold what is done by o­thers, and to follow them even in evill: but as we see the examples, so let us beleeve the punishments that befell them also. Woe unto them, and wretched is their estate, that are not moved by examples of Gods judgements. What will move and peirce our stony hearts, if these things will not move us to turne unto him, neither the hammer of his word, nor the iron rod of his judgements? Nay while we lye under a grievous visitation, are we any whit softned, or do our hearts relent? What teares have we shed? or what hath our behaviour beene? or what sinnes have we forsaken? O what can be said of us, but [Page 71]that we are brasse and iron, a stubborne and stiffe necked generation, a people that are secure and senselesse, and have our consciences as it were seared with an hote iron! God hath executed sundry judgments upon us, he hath given us cleannesse of teeth and want of bread in all our places: Amos. 4.6.9. yet we have not returned unto him; he hath smitten our great Gardens and the fruits of the earth with blasting and mildew, yet we have not returned unto him: he hath sent among us the pestilence after the maner of Egypt, and now threatneth us with the sword of the enemie, yet we have not returned unto him; what marveill then when we profit by none of them, and nothing will doe us good, if he make us fearefull ex­amples to others? This we read Deut. 29. When God hath brought all the curses of the law upon the land, the gene­ration to come of their children that shall rise up after them (when they see the plagues of the land, and the sicknesses which the Lord hath laid upon it, made like the overthrow of Sodome and Gomorah) shall say, Deut. 29.24.25. Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger? then men shall say, be­cause they have forsake the Covenant of the Lord God of their fathers, &c. The Lord God setteth former examples be­fore our eyes to teach us, and he will teach our posterity by the examples of his judgments before our eyes to teach us, and he will teach our posterity by the examples of his judgements fallen upon us. When the generation to come shall read and heare of his great judgments upon us, that he hath smitten downe many thousands of us in his great wrath and heavy displeasure, so that the former plagues will be forgotten in comparison of this, if yet we will not returne and repent, he will double and trebble his strokes, and encrease his plagues yet seven times more, and cause this to be forgotten in comparison of those to come and when any shall aske, wherefore hath the Lord done this unto his people? shall not men say, as the truth is, [Page 72]because they were warned, and they would not be warned? Is it not for the raigning sinnes in it, that cry to heaven? He hath spoken unto us and besought us by innumerable his mercies, but they will not enter: now he is constrai­ned to send his destroying Angel and to scourge us with furious mortality, and yet our dul, nay dead hearts are still insensible; we will not turne to him that smiteth us, nei­ther prepare to meet our God by timely repentance. Our Atheisme, Libertinisme, Riot; Excesse, Pride, Drunkennesse, Vnthankfulnesse, & open Prophanenesse call for vengeance upon our heads. The old sinnes in the common wealth, the new-sprung-up heresies and false doctrines in the Church, what doe they, but threaten our ruine and de­struction? Among all our fearefull sinnes, none greater then the contempt of his word, which commonly of the common sort is no more regarded then a very tale that is told. The people of God were wont to tremble at it with feare, Math. 11.20.21. but we tread it under our feet. Our Saviour upbrai­deth those Cities with sundry woes, and reprocheth their unthankfulnesse, where he had preached the Gospel, be­cause they repented not. Ier. 7.12.13.14. To this purpose the Prophet saith, Go now to my palace which was at Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickednesse of my people: I spake unto you rising early, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not: therefore I will doe to this house as I have done to Shiloh, &c. What can we then looke for, but speedy desolation for this contempt? May we not say the like of the prophanation of the Sabbath? hath not God revenged the abuse thereof, and set before us exam­ples of his judgements to awaken us? Read it at large in Nehemiah, chap. 13. And whom doth he reprove? marke it and meditate upon it; not so much the sellers as the buyers: not so much the Gentiles, as the Iewes: the Iew first, Neh. 13.17.18 and then the Gentile, What evill thing is this that ye do, and prophane the Sabbath day? did not your fathers thus, and [Page 73]did not our God bring all this evill upon us and upon this City, yet ye bring more wrath vpon Israel by prophaning the Sabbath, A greater fault in buy­ers then in sellers on the Sabbath day. Let us not go about to wash away the filthinesse of this offence by casting the fault upon the seller, for if there were no buyers there would be no sellers: with­draw our buying, and their selling will fall of it selfe. As receivers cause theeues, so buyers cause these covetous Merchants to prophane the Lords day. Doe not these things concerne us? have not we the example of that Godly gouernour written for our admonition? and may we not justly feare, that among other crimes, the present judgment is fallen upon us for our horrible prophanation this way? The like I might say of drunkennesse. Doth not the Lord set before us the example of the old world, to admonish us, Luc. 21. Take heed to your selves, Luc. 21.34. lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfetting and drunken­nesse, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you un­awares, &c. The companions of this are whordome and blasphemy; doe not these helpe to kindle the flame and fury of his wrath against us? and yet where is our repen­tance for these sinnes? O let us labour to quench the fire of his anger with teares of sorrow: let all that love and feare God, Ezek. 9.4. and beare his marke in their foreheads sigh and cry out for all the abominations that be done in the middest thereof? and let us not give over weeping, praying, and repenting, untill we have received a gracious answer, till his ancient favours be recovered, his present judgments removed, and the sinnes of our land remitted.

Secondly, wretched is their estate, 2 who are never a whit moved by his judgments. What? will we be so foo­lish to tary till they fall upon vs, as the Egyptians did? woe therefore to such as read them only as things done before, but now quite out of date. For what doe the most part account of the holy Histories, but as monuments of an­tiquity, and witnesses of former times? whereas wee [Page 74]should set them continually before us, & in them as glasses to behold our selves, and thereby receive instruction. Thus we heard how the Lord chargeth his people to looke what he did to Shilo. [...]er. 7.12. Consider how he spared not the Angels in heaven, the habitation of God: nor Adam in Eden, the garden of God; nor Ierusalem, the citty of God: and shall we dreame he will spare us when we provoke him?

Lastly, 3 be not ignorant of ancient examples. This is a great sinne, and a great meanes that leadeth to sinne, when God teacheth us after the plainest maner and easiest to be understood, yet we will not learne: so that if we will not open our eares to heare his word, yet we should open our eyes to see his judgements: and if we will not learne by doctrines, yet let us be instructed by examples. This is the use that the Apostle pointeth unto, 1 Cor. 10. Where pro­pounding sundry judgments and punishments brought upon his owne people, 1 Cor. 10.8.9.10.1. some committed fornication, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand: others tempted Christ, and were destroyed of Serpents, others murmured and were destroyed of the destroyer: touching all these, he saith in the beginning of the Chapter, Moreover bretheren, I would not that ye should be ignorant what befell all our fathers, for this is to be repented and applyed to those things that follow after. This then serveth justly to reprove the ignorance of our times, that regard not this heavenly knowledge, be­cause they know not the value of this treasure, which is more to be desired then gold, yea then much fine gold. By knowledge we beare the image of God. Col. 3.10. Col. 3.10. but igno­rance is the similitude of a beast, and the image of the Oxe and Asse, Esay. 1. Psal. 32. And hitherto of the first ampli­fication of the exhortation to repentance by the two ex­amples: the one of the Galileans, the other of the 18. upon whom the tower fell.

  • [Page 75]6 He spake also this parable, A certaine man had a fig-tree planted in his vine-yard, and he came and sought fruite thereon, and found none.
  • 7 Then said he to the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three yeares, I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree and find none: cut it downe, why cumbreth it the ground?
  • 8 And he answering, said unto him, Lord, let it alone this yeare also, till I shall digge-about it, and doung it:
  • 9 And if it beare fruit, well: and if not, then after that, thou shalt cut it downe.

The second enlargement of the former doctrine, that impenitent persons are reserved to destruction, Wherefore Christ taught so often by parables. is by a parable or similitude, a common forme of teaching used by Christ our Saviour. If any aske, why he did teach in parables? I answer, for foure causes: First, Mark. 4.11. that some might not understand, as Mark. 4. Vnto them that are with­out, all things are done in parables, that seeing they might see and not perceive, and hearing, &c. Secondly, that others might more diligently enquire after them and the inter­pretation of them, as Math. 13. Math. 13.36. when he had propoun­ded the parable of the Tares, his Disciples came unto him, saying, declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field: & a­gaine, Mark. 4.13. Know ye not this parable, Mar. 4.13.33 and how then will ye know all parables? Thirdly, that men might better carry it away, when he framed himselfe to the understan­ding and capacity of every one, as Mark. 4.33. Math. 13.35. With many such parables, spake he the word unto them, as they were able to heare it. Fourthly, that the elect might be informed touch­ing the marveilous workes of God, his goodnesse and justice, as our Saviour proveth out of the Psalme, Math. 13. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Prophet, I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter things which have beene kept secret from the foundation of the world. [Page 76]Here I might point out this doctrine, Doct. that the ministers of God and such as have to deale with others, It is lawfull for the Mini­sters to use parables. either for in­struction or for reproofe, it is lawfull and fit for them to use parables and familiar similtudes, that the people may the better conceive and understand such things as they purpose to teach them. So did the Prophet Nathan 2 Sam. 12. So our Saviour used sundry kinds of parables, some drawne from things that have life, as from builders, Mtah. 7.24. Luc. 14.28. from children, Math. 11.16. from friends Luc. 11. from sheepheards, from women, Luc. 15.8. from birdes, Math. 6.24. and 23.27. and such like. Others are drawne from things without life, as from light, Math. 5.14 from leaven, from bread, Ioh. 6.48. from the drawnet, Math. 13.47. From treasures hid in the field Math. 13. &c. Reason. 1 The reasons of this forme of teaching we have tou­ched before, both to be a speciall meanes to make the peo­ple conceive, and understand these things, as also to helpe their attention, and to strengthen their memory the better to beare them away: 2 And againe in regard of the minister, whose comfort it is that the people are by such familiar examples made to understand them, Ioh. 3.12. Ioh. 3.12. for simili­tudes are naturall even to naturall men, & they more easi­ly understand heavenly things by earthly. Ʋse 1 The uses hereof are; First, it instructeth the Ministers after what sort to teach the people, especially such as are not yet come to the understanding of the Scriptures; they may apply them­selves to their capacities, shewing by familiar examples and comparisons the nature and course of the creatures, and the frame of the world, that by these well konwne means they may by littleand little creepe into their hearts, and cause them to get the saving knowledge of those things that are necessary for them. 2 Secondly, it teacheth the people, that they should be content to heare such easie and evident similitudes, seing they are so plaine to teach them knowledge. A father that would teach his children [Page 77]how to speake, doth not fly aloft above their reach, nor speake eloquently and learnedly unto them, which may rather astonish them then teach them, or any way make them better: so ought the Ministers of God to stoope downe to the understanding of every man, remembring that they speake to plaine men for the most part, and such as are without Schoole-learning. Thirdly, 3 behold from hence the infinite love and mercy of God towards sinners that hath appointed the stewards of his house to give all the house a diet fit for them: 1 Cor. 2.4. they must not preach with en­tising words of mans wisedome, but in demonstration of the spirit and of power. If it had pleased him, he could have drawne comparisons from things out of our knowledge and sight, such as are in the highest heavens, and in the center of the earth: but as our Saviour himselfe fetcheth all from things familiar and well knowne, so he hath left the same direction to his servants to follow. Lastly, 4 this serveth to make all men, even the most simple and igno­rant without excuse, in that Christ applyeth himselfe to them, but they will not apply themselves unto him. Shall he after a sort forget himselfe, he I say, Col. 2.3. in whom are hid all the treasures of wisedome and knowledge, and tell us earthly things; and will we yet be without understanding and continue blinde and ignorant in the matters and mysteries of Salvation? May we not say of such, now they have no cloke nor colour for their sinnes?

He spake also this parable.) Now let us come to the par­ticular points to be observed in this parable, wherein we must observe before we come to the doctrines, both the methode and the meaning; the course and order of the words, and the right understanding of them.

This parable containeth matter of Communicati­on betweene

  • The Owner of the vineyard
  • The dresser of it.

In the owner observe his

  • Patience, behold these 3. yeares, &c.
  • Comman­dement
    • Set downe, Cut it downe.
    • Amplified by the reason, It cumbreth the ground.

In the dresser marke the

  • prayer, Lord, &c
  • Cnditioon
    • If it beare fruit, Let it alone
    • If not, after that thou shalt cut it downe.

This is the order: now let us see the meaning. True it is that parables for the most part ayme at one maine point, and are not curiously to be stood upon in particu­lar, as if every point had his severall signification: yet the speciall parts of this parable doe answer fitly to the doctrine it selfe. By the vineyard we understand the Church and people of God, Esay. 5.7. Psal. 80.8. Hos. 10.1. as Esay. 5. The vineyard of the Lord of hoastes is the house of Israel. The fig-tree planted in it is every man brought into the Church by the Word and Sacraments, setled indeed in a pleasant place. The man that was owner of the vineyard and Fig-tree is God him­selfe: after he had planted it, be came and looked for fruit, that is, obedience: he came againe the second yeare, and againe the third yeare: This is the patience of God. The dresser of his vine-yard what it importeth is not so cer­taine. Brent. hom. 1. in Luc. 13. Dionys. Car­thus enarrat. in hunc locum Some understand thereby Christ Iesus, who ever more appeaseth the wrath of his father, and maketh con­tinuall intercession for us: of this see more afterward. The dunging of the Fig-tree is by praying, and by preaching of the Gospel, which serveth to make our barren hearts fruitfull.

A certaine man had a fig-tree planted.) In generall we see here what the patience of God did looke for, and what that parable aymeth at. God a long time spared the Church; and wherefore? that it may bring for [...]h fruit: and when he is ready to cut it downe, yet he is ready to spare it, so long as is hope of amendment: whereby we gather that Gods patience requireth fruit, and repentance or else we perish. Doct. This teacheth that the patience of God is offered to the children of men, that thereby they may be brought to amendment of life. Gods pati­requireth fruit. The end of his patience must lead us to repentance. VVhile Noah a preacher of righteousnesse was building an Arke, God spared the world an hundred and twenty yeares. Gen. 6.3. VVhen Ionah preached to Niniveh, sorty dayes were granted to turne every one from his evill wayes, Ion. 3.8. and from the violence that was in his hands. The purpose therefore of God was to draw them to repentance, which when each one of the City practised, he turned from his wrath and spared them. Neh. 9.30. Dan. 9.6. Esay. 5.4. VVe may see this at large, Neh. 9.30. Dan. 9.6. So the Prophet Esay, chap. 5. What could I have done more for my vineyard, then that I have done in it? So then Gods forbearance and long­suff [...]rance hath this drift and purpose, to try whether we will turne to him and repent, or not.

And no marveil. First, Reason. 1 that men may be conuinced of the righteous judgements of God, and say and confesse that nothing on Gods part hath beene omitted which he hath not done, and that on our part they have beene justly deserved. Hence it is, that in the Prophet, he maketh the Church it s [...]lfe judge between him and his vineyard, Esay. 5.3. Esay 5. Iudge, I pray you, betweene me and my vineyard. Secondly, God respecteth the clearing and justifying of himselfe in all his actions, that he is not (as it is in the parable) an hard man, that reapeth where he hath not sowen, and ga­thereth where he hath not strowed, Psal. 51.4. for he desireth to re­ceive the fruit of his owne labour, as Psal. 51. That thou [Page 80]mightest be justified when thou speakest, and cleare when thou judgest. He cannot be charged to be severe or unjust, or to have dealt too streightly, who cryeth out againe and a­gaine, Ezek. 18.31.32. Turne ye, turne ye, why will ye dye and not live, O house of Israel: therefore let God be true, and every man a lyar, Rom. 3. So then, he taketh this course for these two endes, the one to convince us of his righteous judgments, the other to give glory to his owne name, that he hath not beene of unequall wayes, but hath ever tendred our good and benefit.

Seing patience looketh for amendment of life, Ʋse. 1 and that this is the end thereof on Gods part; these are certaine conclusions, that he desireth not the death of a sinner, he is not pleased with their destruction, but in the conversi­on of a sinner: we g [...]ieve the spirit of God by our sinnes: it is noted of the Angels, Luc. 1.5.7.10. that joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth: how much more may we say of God, as he is described in the fa [...]her of the prodigall son, when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him and had com­passion on him, he ranne and fell on his necke and kissed him; even when he had done nothing, the Lord only knew his purpose and willingnesse to humble himselfe and to say, fa­ther, I have sinn [...]d against heaven and before thee, &c. he tarried not untill he came unto him and fell downe before him, but prevented him and met him in the way. If he were delighted in the destruction of us, and to make de­solations in the earth, and to trample us under his feet, how could we escape, seeing every soule calleth for justice and judgement, and he is provoked every day? As the day is renewed, so are our sinnes renewed, as Ezek. 18. and 33. have I any pleasure at all, Ezek. 18.23. & 33.11. that the wicked should dye, sayth the Lord God, and not that he should returne from his wayes and live? turne ye from your evill wayes, for why will ye dye O house of Israel? Let us waigh and consider the wonder­full kindnesse of the Lord, and the difference that is be­tweene [Page 81]him and us. Alas, we upon every occasion and eve­ry moment, how ready are we to worke revenge, to take vengeance to the full? Alas how soone are we provoked, and our anger once kinded is not quickly turned away? This is our comfort, it is not so with God. If he were not of another nature and affection then we are, who should be able to beare it and abide it? He spake the word in the beginning, and we were: he can speake the word againe, and our breath is soone stopped, and our dayes are ended.

Secondly, 2 observe that the Lord is not slacke of his com­ming, as some men count slacknesse. Many repine at Gods goodnesse toward others, but never I warrant you toward themselves. Their eye is evill, because his is good. They envy others the grace of God. They are willing no­thing should passe by themselves. We see this in Ionah to­ward the Ninivites, when he saw that God repented of the evill that he had threatned, Ion. 4.3.9. he was angry even unto death, and besought the Lord to take his life from him. Thus did the labourers repine and murmure, who boasted that they had borne the burden and heate of the day, all those that were hired about the eleventh houre, Math. 20.11.12. and wrought but one houre, that they should be made equall unto them. Thus the brother of the prodigall son was angry, when his father had received him into his favour againe, Luc. 15. Luc. 15.27.28. 2 Pet. 3.9. This use the Apostle Peter concludeth, God is not slacke of his promise, as some men count slacknesse, but is patient and long-suffering to us ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Lastly, seing this is the end of his patience, 3 take heed we doe not despise, contemne, and abuse it, which provo­keth the greater judgment and condemnation. Shall a fa­ther see his lenity and gentlenes [...]e abused, and not rise up with greater indignation? This use the Apostle maketh of the doctrine Rom. 2. Rom. 2.4.5. Despisest thou the riches of his good­nesse, and forbearance, and long-suffering, not knowing that the [Page 82]goodnesse of God leadeth thee to repentance, but thou after thy hardnesse, &c. O that we would diligently enter into the meditation of this use, and lay it up in our hearts. He hath spoken unto us earely and late, but we have provoked him to wrath early and late, and have heaped up one evill upon another: yet hath the Lord spared us a long time, yea and yet spareth us. He might justly have begun with us, & have made us examples to them, and who could have said unto him, why doest thou thus? but we hitherto remaine un­touched, and he maketh others examples to us: and yet where is our repentance? have we not cause to feare that his hand will make an end with us?

Then said he to the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three yeares I come, &c. Hitherto of the generall scope of the parable: Bezae Anno­tat. in hunc locum now we come to the particular parts there­of in order as they lye. And first there is propounded in the parable the greatnesse of Gods patience, waiting long for fruit, the first, the second, and the third yeere. Some read the words by warrant of an ancient coppy after this manner, Behold there are three yeeres since the time I come, &c. and thus also the vulgar Edition readeth the place. Whereby it may appeare that this communication was had in the beginning of the fourth yeare after the bap­tisme of Christ. And albeit he speake in the time present, I come, Doct. yet he meaneth (he came) in the time past, or I am wont and accustomed to come, God is very patient. as Math. 26.23. From hence we learne that the favour of God to his Church, & his patience is great & infinite, he is not easily moved, nor quickly provoked. He is of much patience even toward them that obey not, much more toward his deare children he is of a forbearing nature, and will not poure out all his wrath, neither execute his justice upon offenders so soone as they deserve it. He expecteth many dayes, moneths and yeares for the conuersion of sinners, Esay, 65.2.3. & 48.9. he spreadeth out his hand all the day long unto a rebellious people, which walketh in [Page 83]a way that is not good &c. Ier. 35.15. Math. 22. a people that procureth me to anger continually to my face: and chap. 4.8. for my names sake will I deferre mine anger, and for my praise will I refraine for thee, that I cut thee not off. His patience is so great, that it excee­d [...]th the height of heaven, Psal. 103.11.13. and goeth beyond the love of women. We see it in the old world, nay we need not seeke far [...]e to prove it, nor goe out of our selves, we have all good experience thereof.

The reasons are plaine. Reasons. 1 Sometimes to the inten this enemies should not thereby take occasion to blaspheme his name, which is holy throughout all generations, as Deut. 32. I said, I would scatter them into corners, Deut. 32.26.27. I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men, were it not that I feared the wrath of the enemie, lest their adver­saries should behave themselves strangely, and should say; Our hand is high, and the Lord hath not done all this. Hence it is also that Moses groundeth his prayer upon such a point as this, Exod. 32. Exod. 32.11. Why doth thy wrath waxe hote against thy people, which thou hast brought out of the land of Egypt, with great power, and with a mighty hand? Numb. 14.13.14. wherefore should the Egyptians speake and say, for mischiefe did he bring them out to slay them from the mountaines, and to consume them from the face of the earth: and againe in an another place, Then the Egyptians shal heare it and they will tel it to the inhabitants of this land, &c. Secondly, 2 are not we the workmanship of God? he knoweth our weaknesse, that we are nothing but dust and ashes, neither able to answer him one of a thou­sand; he considereth whereof we are made, he remembe­reth that we are but flesh, Psal. 103.14. yea as a wind that suddenly pas­seth away, as Psal. 103. So the Prophet Esay speaketh chap. 57. I will not contend for ever, Esay. 57.16. neither will I be alwayes wroth: for the spirit would faile before me, and the soules which I have made. Thus God rejoyceth not to be alwayes smi­ting, in regard of our enemies, lest they should insult over the Church, and in regard of our owne frame and frailty, [Page 84]lest we should be consumed and come to nothing.

First, Vse. 1 therefore take notice how the Lord exerciseth his patience toward his servants, which he doth divers wayes: first, he powreth not out all his wrath, he pro­ceedeth by steppes and degrees, Hab. 3.2. and when his people pray unto him, in judgement he remembreth mercy: Or else wee should immediatly be consumed: Heb. 12.29. for why? our God is a consuming fire. Math. 17.5. Secondly, he sent a Saviour and redeemer as a remedy of our sinnes, in whom he is well pleased, and he hath appeased the wrath of his father: 1 Ioh. 2.1. & 1.7. Ioh. 3.16. for we have an advocate with the father, Iesus Christ the righteous, & his blood clenseth us from all sinne. Is it then any marvell, if God be patient toward his people, and do not keepe his anger for ever? Esay. 65.1. Thirdly, he sendeth to his enemies an Ambassage of peace before they seeke to him, and is found of them that never asked for him, he setteth up his ordinances among them, Psal. 147.19.20. as meanes to reclaime them: for he sheweth his word unto Iacob, his statutes and judgements unto Israel: he hath not dealt so with any nation, and as for his judgments they have not knowne them. Hence it is, that he hath committed the word of reconciliation to his Ministers, who as the ambas­sadours of Christ beseech us to be reconciled to God. 2 Cor. 5.20. Fourthly, he is infinitly patient in that he putteth off the day of judgment to so long a day, 2 Pet. 3.9. as 2 Peter, 3. the Lord is not slacke of his comming, but is long-suffering to us ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to re­pentance.

Secondly, 2 is his kindnesse great? then blessed are they that belong to him, who have the God of Iacob for their refuge, because his mercy is endlesse, and his compassion infinite. Such shall abide under the shadow of the Al­mighty; happy are they that put their trust in him, as Iam. Iam. 5.11. 5. Behold we count them happy that endure. we have seene the end of the Lord, for he is very pitifull and merci­full.

Lastly, 3 it putteth us in minde of sundry good duties both toward God and toward one another. First, to seeke the Lord with a steadfast faith, because we deale not with one that stoppeth his eares against us, but heareth the cryes of his servants & helpeth them. This the Prophet presseth, Amos. 5. Seeke the Lord and ye shall live, Amos. 5.6.14.15. seeke good and not evill, &c it may be that the Lord God of hostes will be gratious unto the remnant of Ioseph. The ungodly haue no promise of his patience, who hate the good and love the evill. Se­condly, it behoveth us to repent us of our sinnes, withall our hearts, and that betimes. For albeit he be patient, yet he is also just, and therefore we may not dreame of such a patience as shall destroy his justice. Mockers at Gods judg­ments. This reproveth such as make a mocke of his threatnings, and feare them no longer then they are upon them: The Lord threatned the Egyptians to raine downe a very grievous haile upon man and beast, Exod. 9. and willed them not to abide abroad in the field: but what followed? Gen. 19.15. he that feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and cattell fly into he houses: Exod. 9.20.21 but he that regarded not the word of the Lord, left them in the field; and there they all, both man and beast perished. Is it any better with the most sort? no, doubtlesse: for why hath God executed his judge­ments, and doth daily cast them abroad as the firebrands of his wrath? is it not because we regard neither his promises nor his threatnings? doubtlesse if we had taken his word, he had never drawne his sword: and had we beleeved his threatnings, we had not felt his punishments: if we had hearkened to his mouth to heare his voyce, he had not stretched out his hand to smite with his rod. So it was with the Iewes, when the Prophet denounced the 70. Ier. 25.12. & 29.10. yeares captivity, they would not beleeve it, till the Babylo­nians came indeed and carried them away. It is a great mercy of God to open our eares and to give us beleeving hearts, before his plagues fall upon us: whereas others [Page 86]runne on and are p [...]nished. Thirdly, seing our God is thus patient and gentle, even towards us that provoke him every day, what ought we to be one toward an other? As he is not soone provoked, so we should be kind toward those that provoke us, and disturbe our peace and patience, forgiving one another, as God hath forgiven us: and as he is called the God of patience, sowe should approove our selves to be the children of patience. It is our duty there­fore to learne meeknesse and mercy toward our brethren. As we are exhorted to be perfect, Math. 5.48. because our heavenly fa­ther is perfect, and to be mercifull, because he is mercifull: so we should be patient, because he is the God of patience. This is the exhortation of the Apostle, Luc. 6.36. put on the bowels of mercies, kindnesse, humblenesse of minde, meekenesse, long-suf­fering, Rom. 15.5. forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrell against any: Col. 3.12.13 even as Christ forgave you, so also doe ye. Eph. 4.31.32 But on the other side, if we be given to hatred and revenge, and doe not put away all bitternesse, & wrath, and anger, and evill speaking, let us take heed we doe not make a law against our selves, and so finde the same mea­sure at the hands of God which we shew toward our brother.

Cut it downe, &c.) Hitherto of the patience of God: now followeth his Commandement, directed to the dres­ser of the Vineyard to cut it downe. When once the dayes of his patience are expired, at the last he executeth judge­ment, Dcto. and chargeth him to cut downe the Fig-tree. And wherefore? Patience a­bnsed causeth destruction. he had waited for fruit three yeares, and yet findeth none; now the time approched, that it must be hewen downe. For where the acceptable time of grace is neglected, there judgement is most worthily called for. This reacheth, that patience neglected bringeth forth de­struction. If we make not his patience to worke in us repentance, he will cause his patience to worke out his judgements. He doth desire our amendment, that we [Page 87]should not deserve revengement. As then Gods patience tendeth to this end to bring forth repentance, so his pa­tience and kindnesse abused and despised bringeth forth utter confusion. Thus the Prophet speaketh, Esay 5. Esay 5.5. I will tell you wh [...] I will doe to my Vineyard (that bringeth forth no fruit) I will take away the hedge thereof, it shall be eaten up, troden downe, and laid waste. This doth Nathan preach to David in the name of God 2 Sam. 12. 2 Sam. 12.9.10. I have given to thee the house of Iudah and Israel, &c. if that had beene too little, I would have given unto thee such and such things: Wherefore then hast thou despised the commandement of the Lord to doe evill in his sight? thou hast killed Ʋriah with the sword, &c. now therefore the sword shall never depart from thy house, &c. We have examples hereof in the old world, in Sodome and Gomorah, in Pharaoh and the Egyp­tians, yea in the Israelites themselves: Rom. 2.5. of them all we may say with the Apostle, Thou after thine hardnesse and heart that cannot repent, heapest up wrath against the day of wrath, &c. behold here a sharpe and severe threatning of most heavy vengeance to come at the last upon such as abuse the great lenity and long-sufferance of God, and are not bettered but hardned thereby, and not made wiser, but worser by them.

And wherefore shall this abuse cause destruction? Reason. 1 First because God will take vengeance and execute judgement upon every man according to his workes. It is justice to give to every one that which is his owne, and of right be­longing unto him: but destruction is as due to such as neglect his patience, as wages is to the labourer. Gen. 18.25. Thus doe such deserve to be proceeded against: for shall not the judge of all the earth doe right? This is the reason rendred by the Apostle, where the doctrine hath his confirmation, Rom. 2.6. He will render to every man according to his deedes, Rom. 2. Secondly there is no respect of persons with him, it skilleth not whether we be rich or poore, Iew or Gentile, bond or free: all [Page 89]that neglect his patience, ly with all under his punishment, as it is concluded vers. 3 11. of the same Chapter. Thridly, sinne is thereby encreased, for the longer he waiteth by his patience, the more heavily will he pursue us by his vengeance: Luc. 12.48. as our Saviour teacheth. To whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required, and to whom men have committed much, of him they will aske the more.

This reproveth the fond perswasion of such as imagine, Ʋse. 1 that albeit all other mens sinnes should be punished, yet they alone may escape Gods judgements, as if they had made a covenant with death, and were at an agreement with hell. We promise to our selves impunity, even in those sinnes, for which his wrath hath lighted upon o­ther the children of disobedience. Marveilous have beene the mercies of God toward us in this kingdome, we have had peace within our walles, and plenteousnesse with­in our dwellings: he hath made us hitherto the head, and our enemies the taile, defeating their policies, and turning their mischeivous plots & devises upon their own heads, and what could he have done that he hath left undone? But what hath all this bountifulnesse of God wrought a­mong us? and what effect have his blessings taken in us, but a blessing of our selves in our wickednesse, and an adding of one sinne to another, as it were drunkennesse unto thirst, and running up and downe from one extreme to another? Have we not, nay doe we not for the most part heape up our sinnes without measure, or conscience of turning to God? If we would behold with a single eye the state of Church and common-wealth as now it stan­deth, Esay. 1.6. might I not say with the Prophet, from the sole of the foote, even unto the head, there is no soundnesse in it, but wounds and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not beene closed, nei­ther mollified with oyntment: and after this might I not lead you a long in the spirit, Ezck. 8.6.15 as God did the Prophet Ezekiel, and after many sinnes & much prophanenesse, say, Turne [Page 90]thee yet againe, and behold greater abominations then these! I might point out unto you such (not to speake of the grea­ter and higher sort, whose doings I know not) as make religion nothing else but a matter of pollicy, and forget the high God that hath set them up on high? but turne ye yet againe, and ye shall see other abomination. How many in this cleere light of the Gospel remaine in darknesse and blindnesse, and in the shadow of death, that know not the right hand from the left, that is, truth from errour, which know nothing of God, neither can give any even the least account of their faith, worse then children in understan­ding: yea how many say to God with the wicked, Iob. 21.14. Depart from us, for we desire not the knowledge of thy wayes: what is the almighty that we should serve him? and what pro­fit should we have, if we pray unto him? and behold greater abominations then these! Others are wholly given over to the world, men possessed with a spirituall dropsie, the more riches encrease, the more they desire, and the more they set their hearts upon them, that they bury the re­membrance of heaven and of heauenly things, as if they should abide and continue upon the earth for ever: the cares of this world and the deceitfulnesse of riches choke all good things. How many perswade themselves to be highly in Gods favour, because they are blessed with out­ward blessing: who shame not to say, I see God blesseth us, as well as the purest and precisest of them all. But un­derstand, ye unwise among the people, must all needes be well, because God forbeareth for a time to punish? or shall we continue in our sinnes because he continueth his mercies towards us? What should I speake of the con­tempt of his word and the prophanation of the Sabbath? May we not turne our selves yet againe, and see these greater abominations then the former, which are com­mon and capitall crimes swarming in every place? And might we not from these turne our selves to swearing and [Page 90]and drunkennesse in every streete? A rare thing to find a parish without a common drunkard: and as rare to find an house without a common swearer. These are the prin­cipall causes of his visitations, these are the sinnes that bring the pestilence among us: let us labour to keepe out these, The ends of Gods lenity and patience. or all the care we can take, and diligence that we can use, shall not be able to keepe it from us. Let us not therefore flatter our selves in our sinnes, and so abuse his patience, let us not thinke we are justified, because we are not striken. Gen. 15.16. Math. 23.32. There are other end of Gods bounty and patience. First, to let us alone to fill up the measure of of our sinnes, that then he may fill up the measure of his judgements: from whence arise sundry profitable me­ditations: 1 we see his infinite mercy and compassion, who ceaseth not, nor giveth over to waite for their conversion who have deserved already to be punished, and such as he hath determined to destroy: so that we may say with the Prophet, 2 he desireth not the death of a sinner. Ye see that he is most just and never punisheth without our deserts: nei­ther will he suffer sinners to go unpunished, albeit he hold his peace & keepe silence a long time. We see, that howso­ever we offend, 3 all is cast upon an heape, that the measure being full, Ioh. Feri. in Gen. 15. e­narrat. pressed downe and running over, certaine de­struction might fall upon us. Let us not account sinnes to be small or slight matters, for how light and little soever they may seeme to be, yet they adde somewhat to the heape, as every graine of corne serveth to fill the bushell. We see it is a speciall token of his mercy and favour, 4 when he punisheth quickly or at the beginning, and suf­fereth us not to runne on from one sinne to another, for thereby the heape of our sinnes is diminished. We see on the contrary, 5 it is a token of Gods great displeasure, when he delayeth and differeth to punish, for thereby the heape of sinne groweth and encreaseth, and consequently the punishment. 6 Lastly, as God is faithfull and suffereth [Page 91]not his to be tempted above that they are able: so also he is just and beareth with the wicked untill they proceed to a certaine point or period, beyond which they cannot passe. Thus he suffereth sinners to grow to their height, to teach us that our nature declineth from worse to worse, unlesse we be staied by a stronger hand. And this is the first end of his lenity. Secondly, it may be, 2 the dressers of this barr [...]ne vine by their continuall intercession (as his faithfull remembrancers) have obtained some respit and forbearance, as this fig-tree mentioned in this parable. Thirdly, it may be, 3 there is yet a remnant to be gathered from among us, and the number of the elect not yet ac­complished, as Iob. 10. Other sheepe I have that are not of thi [...] fold, them also I must bring, and they shall heare my voyce, Ioh. 10.16. and there shall be one fold and one Sheepheard. Such then as be­long unto him must in his good time be brought to repen­tance. Fourthly, 4 that the reprobate may be more and more hardned, and so perish everlastingly. 1 Sam. 2.24.

Secondly, 2 concluded the wofull & wretched estate of those that despise the riches of his goodnesse and patience. For they are most certainely in worse case of all others, whom God doth most blesse and beare with all, except they re­pent, nay worse then Turkes and Infidels: and it had been a thousand times better for such prophane sinners, that they had never received such blessings, and tasted so plen­tifully of his fatherly kindnesse, then to take occasion by his bountifulnesse to continue and increase in sinne, as may plainely appeare by those cities which our Saviour upbraided, where his word had beene preached and his workes had beene seene, Math. 11. Math. 11.22.42. because it should be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, and more easie for the land of Sodome and Gomorah then for them. It shall not be enough for us to say, Oh God is mer­cifull! and Christ died for us. For, because God is merci­full, shall we be sinfull? or because he hath beene more [Page 92]mercifull to us then to others, shall we be more sinfull then others? Or because Christ Iesus hath died for us, shall we live in our sinnes, Heb. 10.29. and by our prophanenesse crucifie him againe, and tread under our feete the blood of the new Testa­ment, as an unholy thing, and doe despite to the spirit of grace? God for bid.

Lastly, 3 let all stand in feare to provoke him and breake off his patience, least there come a wofull and heavy rec­koning in the end. Let us take heed and beware of after reckonings. We are wary enough to prevent them in our dealings with men, and ought we not to be wise more in our reckonings with God? The increase of sins bringeth with them an heavier waight of vengance upon our selves when the Lord beginneth to enter into judgment with us. He is slow to wrath, and proceedeth leysurely, but when once he commeth, he striketh home. We cannot be brought to feare before him, because he doth not present­ly strike: but be not deceived, he is all this while fetching his blow, the higher he lifteth his hand, the heavier it lighteth, and the sorer he striketh. This the Prophet nota­bly expresseth Psal. Psal. 7.12.13 7. If he turne not, he will whet his sword, he hath bent his bow and made it ready: he hath also prepared for him the instruments of death, he ordaineth his arrowes a­gainst the persecuters. O that we could alwayes, when we heareor read, understand what we heare, and marke what we read, according to the commandement of our Saviour, who so readeth, Math. 24.15. let him understand. There the Prophet compareth the Lord to A man of warre, Exod. 15.3. that taketh some time to scoure up his sword bright, and to sharpen the edge and point thereof, to strike and wound his enemie: as also to an archer, that taketh a certaine time to bend his bow and to make ready his arrowes: but in the end he draweth them up to the head, & never misseth his marke, being more skilfull then those Benjamites, that could sling stones at an haire bredth, Iudg. 20.16. and not misse, so that he shooteth [Page 93]sure and meaneth to pierce deepe to the very heart of all his aduersaries. Thus it is with the Lord, when we thinke him forgetfull oftentimes, or unmindfull of justice and judgment: we must thus judge, that he is whetting his sword, and bending his bow, & drawing out his arrowes, and preparing to shoot, all which require some time: and therefore let us feare before him, and not tarry untill his judgements be upon us.

Why combereth it the ground.) Hitherto of the commande­ment to cut down the figtree now we come to the reason. The owner propoundeth the justice of his former doome or sentence. The word importeth and signifieth not onely to make unprofitable, fruitlesse, barraine, and good for nothing, but to hinder the growth of other things which might be planted in the roome thereof, that might bring forth good fruit. They that professe the Gospel, if they be not fruitfull are unprofitable and hurtfull to themselues and others. Doct. Evill minded men are alto­gether unpro­fitable and full to the vvhole society where they remaine. Iudg. 19.22. & 20.13. Iosh. 7.11.12. This teacheth that evill minded men are noy­some, hurtfull, and unprofitable to themselves and to o­thers, wheresoever they abide, untill they be removed. We see this in the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abi­ram, how hurtfull they were to the whole assembly. Numb. 16. in the shamelesse uncleannesse of Zimri and Cosbi, Chap. 25. A notable example hereof is at large ex­pressed Iudg. 20.15. Those wicked Beniamites, the sonnes of Belial that committed folly in Israel, were the causes of the ruine of many thousands, and brought the whole tribe to a low ebbe: yea this often falleth out to the children of God, when they provoke him to wrath. We see this in David, 2 Sam. 24. When he had numbred the people in the pride of his owne heart, 2 Sam. 24.17 and had exalted himselfe in his owne strength, he said, I have sinned and have done wickedly, but these sheepe what have they done? let thy hand, I pray thee, be against me and against my fathers house. Here­by many thousands perished. The like we see in Ionah, [Page 94]chap. 1. he forsooke his calling, and the commandement of God: he must be cast into the sea, or else the passengers in the ship must perish: who had beene almost drowned through his disobedience, Ionah. 1.11. for the sea wrought and was tem­pestuous.

And no marveil. Reasons. 1 For first they are the meanes and causes of judgments and punishments to others among whom they live, as well as to themselves, as trees twise dead & reserved to the fire. A tree albeit it were dead in it selfe, and albeit it did keepe the ground barrne, and hinder the growth of a better in his place, yet it killeth not ano­ther that standeth beside it: but one wicked man hurteth, and destroyeth another: and therefore we must needes judge such to be hurtfull and dangerous to an whole fami­ly or society. We feare judgements, but we seeke not to know and remove the true cause thereof. The faithfull are commanded to depart out of Babylon, Revel. 18.4. the mother of for­nications, that they be not partaker of her sinnes, and that they receive not of her plagues, wherby we see, these follow each other, infection, participation, destruction.

He that is infected himselfe, never resteth till he have made other partakers of his sinne, and from them both followeth the destruction of them both, as we shall shew afterward. Secondly, they are unprofitable, hurtfull, and dangerous: and why? because other vines and trees can­not prosper and florish, or bring forth fruit neere unto them. When any part of the body is putrified, it passeth and spreadeth from ioynt to ioynt, and from one member to another, 2 Tim. 2.17. as the canker or gangrene fretteth or eateth the flesh next unto it: so where loose livers are, many others are brought to the same loosenesse, and stand in danger to go to wracke. 2 Cor. 5.6. Gal. 5.9. To this purpose the Apostle saith, Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lumpe? Sinne is fruitfull, and compared to the child in the wombe, it groweth apace: one sinne begetteth another, and one [Page 95]sinner infecteth another, which bringeth forth death. Iam. 1.15.

This reproveth such as reioyce in the fellowship of the ungodly, and delight wholly in their company. Vse. 1 For what fellowship hath righteousnesse with unrighteous­nesse? or what communion hath light with darknesse? and what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what agreement hath he that beleeveth with an infidel? But what is more common in every place then this? that which the Lord himselfe could never doe, to reconcile these contraries, and bring light and darknesse, nay heaven and hell toge­ther, sinfull men professe themselves able to doe. These goe about to set God to schoole, and to make God and the devill, Christ and Belial good friends. Gen. 3.15. God in the begin­ning put enmity betweene the woman and the serpent, betweene her seed and his seed: but these have broken downe this hedge, and pulled away the wall of partition, and have set them together againe. The Apostle plainely declareth, Iam. 4.4. that the friendship of the world is enmity with God: but these spirituall adulterers and adulteresses (as he calleth them) will have no enmity at all betweene them, but will have the friends of God and the world shake hands and kisse one another. The Prophet asketh the Question, Amos. 3.3. Can two walke together, except they be agreed, that is, they cannot: but these answer otherwise, they can walke hand in hand together, or else they must needes confesse they are them­selves at an agreement with hell. We must learne to avoyd these sinfull practises, & know that danger alwaies commeth to the better part by the evill: seldome or never any good to the worse sort. For when the good and bad are ioyned together, the evill man is hardly made bet­ter by the good, but he that is good is rather corrupted by the evill. It is an easie thing to defile and make uncleane; but the a matter of great difficulty to clense and purifie. And the reasons are, first because the wicked are wholly carnall, and a lumpe of flesh, and runne one way without [Page 96]any resistance: Why the wicked sooner cor­rupt the god­ly, then the godly can correct the wicked. but the Godly are onely in part spirituall and regenerate; the wicked therefore being altogether un­regenerate, are but as one man, so that they draw and pull the Godly with all their might and with full swinge of will: whereas the Godly, being partly carnall and partly spirituall, as consisting of two men, have their power and strength divided, the flesh drawing one way and the spirit another, and consequently cannot have such force and vertue. Againe, the ungodly are as men that runne downe a steep hill, or swimme downe a swift streame, and therefore if they catch hold on us, or we one them, it is a thousand to one but we are carried smoothly away with them: on the other side, the Godly are as men that climbe up an high hill, or that swimme up against the streame, and therefore must put to all their strength, and yet they creepe but softly forward, because the flesh striveth to carry them another way. Moreover, besides that the ungodly are apt of themselves to infect and cor­rupt, we must consider that we are by nature apt to be corrupted and to receive infection, as when fire and tow meete together, Psal. 106.34.35.36. Thus it was with the Israelites, as the Prophet teacheth. They did not destroy the nations, concer­ning whom the Lord commanded them: but were mingled a­mong the beathen, and learned their workes, and they served their Idols, which were a snare vnto them: Such then are justly condemned, that thinke they may have usuall and familiar company with prophane persons, a rash, pre­su [...]ptuous, & desperate course, whereat they dash them­selves as against a rocke, and suffer shipracke both of soule and body.

Secondly, 2 observe that many others of all sorts doe fare the worse both in soule and body for the wickeds sake, who are disobedient to God. We see this evidently in Lot living in Sodome, Gen. 13. He was first allured to so journe there by the richnesse and ranknesse of the soile, [Page 97]when he saw all the coast fruitfull as the land of Egypt and beautifull as the garden of Eden, Gen. 13.10. & 14.14. he made choise to in­habit there: but what followed? First, he was taken prisoner in the sacking of Sodome and his goods made a pray to the enemie, so that he lost both his substance and himselfe: yea, after he was recovered againe by the strength and power of Abraham out of their hands, and returned to­gether with the Sodomites, 2 Pet. 2.8. they vexed his righteous soule from day to day by their unlawfull deedes: but was this all? no, he ranne into a greater danger, for it had well neere cost him his life, had not God beene mercifull unto him, and pulled him as a brand out of the fire, Amos. 3.12. or as a sheepheard taketh out of the mouth of the Lyon two legges, or a piece of an care. See this yet farther in the example of the Israelites go­ing to battel against their enemies, the host of the Lord could not prosper or prevaile, but turned their backes and fell by the edge of the sword, so long as Achan was a­mong them: the Lord said, I will not be with you any more, Iosh. 7.12. except ye destroy the accursed from among you. Numb. 16.26 1 King. 22.22 2 Chro. 20.37. But when he was taken out of the way, then they had the upper hand. See more in other places. The wicked oftentimes speede the better for the righteous seeke: so did Laban for Iacob, Gen. 30.27. So did Potaphar for Ioseph, Chap. 39.3. so did the passengers in the ship for Paul. Act. 27.24. Yea God would have spared Sodome, and not destroyed it, if ten righteous persons had beene found in it, Gen. 18.32. but the faithfull evermore speed the worse for the society of the wicked.

Thirdly, it is our duty to come out from among them, 3 and not to be unequally yoked with them, to be separated from them, and to touch no uncleane thing: then he pro­mised to receive us, to be a father unto us, and to account us as his sonnes and daughters, 2 Cor. 6. 2 Cor. 6.17.18. For certainly they are very pestes, and they have plague-sores running upon them. Nay no sicknesse so contagious and noysome, as [Page 98]sinne and the sinners are. We shunne infected persons and places for feare of bodily harmes: but let us learne to shunne prophane and wicked persons and places no lesse, nay rather much more. The other may corrupt the body, but these endanger the soule: here the commandement of our Saviour taketh place, Math. 10.28. feare not them so much which can but kill the body, and doe no more, but feare especially those things and persons, which will be able to cast body and soule into hell fire, I say unto you feare them. They are like to the spreading leprosie, which beginning in one house pro­ceedeth to another, untill it have infected the greatest part of a towne or City: or as the Lepers that were were put apart for feare of their infection: Psal. 119.115 Therefore the Prophet sai [...]h, Depart from me yee evill doers: for I will keepe the Commandements of my God: 1 Cor. 5. and the Apostle, Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump: and after­ward, put away from your selves that wicked person.

Lastly, 4 it is the duty of all such as have the oversight of others, to looke to their charge, that they foster not, nor entertaine those within their gates or jurisdiction, that are knowne wicked persons, they will infect and poyson the rest. One scabbed sheepe will annoy the rest of the flocke. Psal. 101.3.4.6.7. This made David to say, I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the worke of them that turne aside, it shall not cleave to me: I will not know a wicked person: he that worketh deceit shall not dwell in mine house: hee that telleth lyes, shall not tarry in my fight: him that privily flandreth his neighbour, will I cut off: him that hath high lookes will I not suffer: mine eyes shall be upon the faithfull of the land, that they may dwell with me, be that walketh in a perfect way he shall serve me. This is profitable to be considered of fathers and masters, yea of all house-holders and governors whatso­ever, that are in any place of superiority, and are set over others as a City upon an hill: would we have our people obedient, our children dutifull, our servants trusty, our [Page 99]families faithfull and in good order: we must lead them the way, and goe before them in all uprightnesse: we must first of all be faithfull our selves, and behave our selves wisely in a perfect way: we must be obedient to him and his word, and walke within our house in a perfect way. For it is most certaine, that none are greater enemies to their children and posterities, pulling their houses downe even with their owne hands, and bringing them to utter ruine and desolation, then such superiours or overseers as are ungodly and disobedient unto God. Let us seeke never so much to make our names great upon the earth, and to leave our issue rich and wealthy in the world; yet so long as we live in prophanenesse, we pull an heavy curse not onely upon our owne heads, but upon our posterities, and make our names to stinke and rot, as we see in Ieroboam that made Israel to sinne; 1 King. 14.10. & 21.21.25. the Lord threatned to bring evil upon his house, and to take away the remnant thereof, as a man taketh away dung till it be all gone. The like we see in Ahab who sold himselfe to worke wickednesse in the sight of the Lord: who more likely to make himselfe great upon the earth, and to have left a plentifull issue behind him, yet were all swept away suddenly, as a man wipeth a dish and turneth it upside downe. Pro. 14.1. Wherefore that which Salomon teacheth touching the wise and foolish woman, Every wise wo­man buildeth her house, but the foolish plucketh it downe with her hands: we may extend and apply to the faithfull man and the ungodly: the one doth by godlinesse lay a sure foundation in time to come, as Psal. 112. Psal. 112.1.2.3. &c. Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord and delighteth greatly in his Commandements: his seed shall be mighty upon earth, the ge­neration of the upright shall be blessed, &c. the other sort by their infidelity, impiety, and iniquity pull their houses quite downe, that they are never raised up againe, whose children may curse such perverse and prophane parents.

Vers. 8. And he answering, said unto him, Lord, let it alone this yeare also.) Hitherto of the first part of the commu­nication concerning the Owner of the Vineyard: now followeth the second, touching the dresser thereof, where­in consider first of all his prayer directed to the Owner, Lord, Gualt. in Lucā hom. 237. let it alone this yeare, Here we see the dresser of this Vineyard intreateth the Lord of it for the fig-tree, and maketh intercession to have it spared. Heb. 13.20. I will not precise­ly or peremptorily decide and determine, what part of the Church, Hab. 2.1. whether Christ the head and great sheepheard of the sheepe, Esay. 62.6.7. or the Ministers that stand in their watch-tower, or other the faithfull, as the Lords remembrancers which give him no rest, this Dresser of the Vineyard in the pa­rable representeth: onely I will observe, that the prayer of him continueth yet one yeare longer the standing and abode of it in the Vineyard. Doct. This teacheth that it is the duty of Gods children to make request for others, Gods chil­dren must pray for o­thers, & God heareth them and their requests are powerfull and available not onely for the faithfull, but oftentimes for others, to remove judg­ments, and God heareth them when they pray. We see this touching Abimelech, who had taken away Abrahams wife. Gen. 20.7. & 17.20. God sendeth him unto him, and said, He shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and God saith to Abraham con­cerning Ishmael, I have heard thee. And our Saviour Christ and his faithfull witnesse Stephen doe commend their strongest enemies and persecuters into the hands of God, Luc. 23.34. Act. 7.60. Father, forgive them, for they know not what they doe; lay not this sinne to their charge. To these infinite other testi­monies might be ioyned.

The reasons are; Reason. 1 first because it is an expresse comman­dement to pray one for another: he transgresseth the law and sinneth against God, that faileth in it, and performeth it not. It is a commandement of God to honour parents, and this is the first commandement with promise of a particular blessing: but it is a commandement in the first [Page 101]Table to honour God by praying unto him, which we are no lesse but rather more commanded to practise, then we are forbidden to kill or to steale. If then we make consci­ence of these, 1 Sam. 12.19.23. we ought in like manner to make conscience of the other. This appeareth in the words of Samuel, when the people desired him, pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God, that we die not; he said, as for me God forbid that I should sinne against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you. 2 Secondly, such have a promise annexed vnto their prayer, that we should not say with the wicked, what profit should we have, if we pray unto him. Iob, 21.15. nor with those shamelesse blasphemers, It is in vaine to serve God, Mal. 3.14. Our Saviour, because we are weake in faith, assureth that Whosoever asketh, receiveth: and he that seeketh, findeth: Math. 7.8. and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened. And the Apostle Iames accordeth hereunto, Iam. 5.16. The Prayer of a righteous man availeth much, if it be fervent. Would we have a surer ground and foundation to build upon, then the faithfull word and promise of God, that cannot lye or deceive?

Seing it is the duty of the Church to pray one for ano­ther, and that is profitable and available, hence ariseth comfort and cheerefulnesse in all heavy and sorrowfull times (such as the present times are) when afflictions lye sore upon sundry our bretheren and sisters in other places, and presse them downe to the ground, nay to the grave; remember the rest of the Church of God pray for us; I say, Gods people, our fellow-members commend us and and our causes day and night with fasting and praying, & weeping, whom he hath promised to heare, they thinke upon us in their best meditations, and are earnest re­membrancers for us to him, as if it were their owne case, and have a fellow-feeling of all our miseries, Heb. 13.3. as if them­selves were afflicted. This in the middes of all our heavi­nesse and greatest weaknesse, is not our least comfort, that we have many strong servants of God, strong in faith, that [Page 102]send up many strong cries to the throne of grace: nay the strong God, that hath commanded this duty to pray one for another, hath also promised to heare them. This no doubt was a comfort even to Peter himselfe put in prison, that he knew, Act. 12.5. Heb. 12.5.12.13. Prayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto God for him and for his deliverance. Let us not therefore faint under the Crosse when we are rebuked of him, neither despise the chastening of the Lord, who aymeth at our profit, that we might be partakers of his holinesse: but rather lift up the hands which hang downe, and the feeble knees, and not cast away our confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. And let this be our comfort in these rerillous times, that God heareth us for our brethren, and our brethren for us, and our elder-brother Christ Iesus our mediatour for us all, who for his mercies sake, for his truthes sake, for his promise sake, for his sonnes sake will in his good time send an happy deliverance, that albeit for a season we be kept in afflicti­on, 2 Cor. 1.5.12 yet as our sufferings have abounded in us, so our consola­tion should abound through our restoring, when we had in a manner the sentence of death in us, that thankes also may be given by many on our behalfe:

Secondly, 2 seeing Gods children for our comfort and consolation make request and intercession for us, and are heard, O how much more ought we to remember the sweet mediation of Christ Iesus our Lord and Saviour, and comfort our selves and one another therewithall. True it is we may and ought not a little to comfort our selves, with the prayers and intercessions of other weake men, our fellow servants like to our selves, and subject to the same passions we are, especially seing we know our whole Church at the same time assemble together to pray for us and to turne away his wrath from us, and to call backe his destroying Angel, that he may at length say, It is enough, 2 Sam. 24.16 stay now thy hand; and so repent him of the evill [Page 103]upon our repentance and humiliation: if, I say, we have much matter of comfort offered unto us by the publike prayers of the Church often as it were with one mind and with one mouth made and renewed on our behalfe: how much more doth peace and consolation arise unto us by the mediation and intercession of Christ our Saviour, the head of the Church, the beloved sonne of God, Heb. 1.2.3. Math. 17.5. the sonne of his love, the heire of all things, the brightnesse of his glory, and the expresse image of his person, in whom the fa­ther is well pleased. Herein consisteth our cheefe com­fort that we rest and repose our selves in him as our Ad­vocate, and rely upon the merit of his passion, Ioh. 11.42. whom the father alwaies heareth. Indeed he commandeth that sup­plications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thankes be made for all men 1 Tim. 2.1. and that we pray one for an­other, that we may be healed, Iam. 5.16. But if God at any time vouchsafe to heare any of his children, it is for his sonnes sake, not for any worthinesse or merits in them, but for the Lords sake, that is, for Christs sake, Dan. 9.1.7. for he is the Angel of the Covenant, Revel. 8.3. to whom was given much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all Saints up­on the golden Altar, which was before the throne. Therefore also the Apostle saith, Heb. 5.16. In the dayes of his flesh he offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and teares, & was heard in that he feared, because he prayed to him that was able to save him from death.

Lastly, 3 it is our duty to performe this duty our selves toward others, and to require this duty to be performed for us by others. Thus did Daniel, a man greatly beloved of God, who had many deepe mysteries by vision decla­red unto him; he spake to his Companions, Dan. 2.18. that they should desire the mercies of the God of heaven to reveale his secret to him, that they might not perish. So the Apostle prayed the Church of the Thessalonians, 2 Thess. 3.1. to pray for him and the rest of his f [...]llow-labourers, that the word of the [Page 104]Lord, much hindred by the opposition of potent adversa­ries, might have a free passage. As then he prayed before for the Thessalonians, so here he prayeth the Thessalonians to pray for him, that he might be comforted together with them by the mutuall prayers both of them and of him. The use of mutual praier To this duty we should be stirred up in regard of the mutuall profit that proceedeth from the practise and performance thereof. 1 For first it serveth as the ordinary meanes or­dained and sanctified of God to prevent judgments threa­tned, and to remove judgments already inflicted. Remem­ber the devout and zealous prayer of Salomon, 2 King. 8.33.35.37.44. when the people of Israel be smitten downe before their enemies, because they have sinned against thee: when heaven is shut up, and there is no raine, &c. if there be in the land famine, if there be pestilence, blasting, mildew, locust, or caterpiller, &c. whatso­ever plague, whatsoever sicknesse there be, heare thou in hea­ven thy dwelling place, and forgive the sinne of thy servants, &c. 2 Secondly, it is a cordiall to preserve and strengthen us in all spirituall graces, as we see that by Christs prayer Peters faith was kept from failing, Luc. 22.32. Luc. 22. and thus he prayed, not onely for the rest of the Apostles, but for all them that should beleeve on him through their word, Ioh. Iob. 17.20.24. 17. Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me, where I am, that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me, &c. Prayer therefore is a notable pre­seruative to keepe the precious treasures and iewels of grace in the Closets of our hearts, and serveth to streng­then and encrease good things in us. For as it obtaineth blessings at Gods hands, so it procureth the encrease of them: and it is no lesse vertue to keepe and continue, to enlarge and encrease what we have obtained, then at the first to obtaine it. 3 Thirdly, to bring remission of sinnes & to subdue in us the power of sinne, Iam. 5.15. Psal. 19.13. Iam. 5.15. The prayer of faith shall save the sicke, and the Lord shall raise him up: and if he have committed sinnes, they shall be [Page 105]forgiven him. For the cause of sicknesse and all diseases is sinne, and therefore our Saviour healing the man sicke of the Palsie, said unto him, Math. 9.2. Sonne be of good cheere, thy sinnes be forgiven thee, dealing like a good Phy­sitian, who removeth the cause that he may remove the effect. So then faithfull prayer and a purpose or re­solution to continue in sinne cannot poffibly stand to­gether. Lastly, 4 it sanctifieth all Gods creatures unto our use. It obtaineth a good right and title to them, and a blessing upon them, 1 Tim. 4.5. Our callings, our labours, our actions, and the workes of our hands are sanctified by it, as Psal. 127. Except the Lord keepe the City, Psal. 127.1.2 the watch-man waketh but in vaine: it is in vaine for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eate the bread of sorrowes, &c. Seing these things be thus, that these be the fruits of prayer, Ezr. 9.6.10.11.13. Neh. 9.32.33. Psal. 79.8.9. & 80.3. Dan. 9.7.8.18.19. let us put it in practise, and double our zeale, and never cease to follow the example of this Dresser, to cry to the Lord for our brethren, Lord, let them alone this yeare also, spare thy people, and give them not over into the hands of the destroyer: we are ashamed and blush to lift up our faces to thee, O our God; for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our trespasses are growne up unto the hea­vens. And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken thy Commandements, which thou hast commanded: and all this evill is come upon us for our evill deedes, and for our great trespasses, for asmuch as thou our God hast punished us lesse then our iniquities deserue; Now therfore, O our God, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who keepest Covenant and mercy, let not all the troubles which are most heavy upon us and our chiefe Cities seeme little before thee: howbeit thou art just in all that is brought upon us, for thou hast done right, but we have done wickedly, and dealt foolishly and frowardly with thee. O remember not against us former iniquities, let thy tender mercies speedily prevent us, for [Page 106]we are brought very low; helpe us, O God of our Sal­vation, for the glory of thy name; and deliver us, and purge away our sinnes for thy names sake: wherefore should the enemies of the Gospel say, where is their God? turne us againe, O God, and cause thy face to shine, and we shall be saved: O Lord God of hostes, how long wilt thou be angry against the prayers of thy people! O Lord, righteousnesse belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, to our Princes, to our fathers, to our people: in­cline thine eare and heare, open thine eyes and behold our desolations, and the City which is called by thy name. For we doe not present our supplications before thee for our righteousnesses, but for thy great mercies: O Lord heare, O Lord forgiue, O Lord hearken and doe: deferre not for thine owne sake; for the City and thy people are called by thy name. Now is the time of this humiliation: now God calleth to us to call upon him: now is the time of trouble and affliction: Let us give him no rest, you that are the Lords remembrancers stand in the breach, which his right hand hath made, Numb. 16.48 as it were betweene the living and the dead: let us never give over; neither let him alone untill we have received a gratious answer, that our ini­quities be pardoned, his present judgments removed, and his ancient favours recovered.

Till I shall digge about it, and dung it.) The labour of the Lord of the Vineyard hath beene before expressed, so that the complaint of the Prophet may be renewed, Esay. 40.4. & 53.1. & 65.23. I have la­boured in vaine, I have spent my strength for nought and in vaine: and in another place, who hath beleeved our re­port? Doct. and againe, I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people which walke in a way that is not good: We must have hope touching the salvation of others, albeit they runne a [...] stray. yet the barren fig-tree is not forsaken and given over, so long as there is any hope, but the Dresser wil still be digging about it and dunging of it. This teacheth, that we must not despaire of the salvation of any, howsoever [Page 107]they have long gone astray. We see this in the example of Manasses, he built altars for all the host of heaven, he caused his children to passe through the fire, he used Witch-craft and enchantment; he dealt with a familiar spirit, and with wizards: 2 Chro. 33.5.6. he shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Ierusalem from one end to ano­ther, and wrought much evill in the sight of the Lord to provoke him to anger: yet the Lord was intreated of him, 2 King. 21.16 and heard his supplication, when he had learned by wofull experience that the Lord was God. Act. 2.37. & 10.11.12.13.14.15. Thus it was with those that crucified the Lord of life, they were pricked in their hearts, and had Salvation preached vnto them. Here­unto commeth the vision of Peter, he saw heaven opened, and a certaine vessel descending unto him, as it had beene a great sheet knit at the foure corners, wherein were all manner of foure-footed beasts of the earth & wild beasts, and creeping things, and soules of the aire: and there came a voyce to him, Rise, Peter, kill and eate. And when he re­fused, because he had never eaten any thing that is com­mon or uncleane: the same voyce answered, What God hath clensed, that call not thou vncleane: This was the inter­pretation of the vision, that which is uncleane God is able to cleanse. Paul before his conversion was a blasphe­mer and a persecuter and a great oppressour, 1. Tim. 1.13. but he obtai­ned mercy because he did it ignorantly through unbeleefe. The Gentiles wandred many yeares, even thousands of yeares in superstition and Idolatry, yet at length when the time of their conversion was come, Gen. 9.27. Ioh. 10.16. God perswaded Iapheth to come and dwell in the tents of Shem, Gen. 9. and our Saviour speaking of them, saith, Other sheepe I have, 2 Tim. 2.25. which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall heare my voyce, and there shall be one fold and one shepheard: So the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be patient and gentle unto all, proving if God will give them repentance.

The reasons are plaine. First, Reason. 1 because God calleth at all [Page 106]houres of the day, who hoth the times and seasons in his owne power: Math. 20.3.5 6. some at the third, some at the sixt, some at the ninth, and some at the eleventh houre; and we have a notable example thereof in the penitent theefe converted by the powerfull word of Christ upon the Crosse: Luc. 23.34. he that was running a pace to hell hath promise to be carri­ed into Paradise: whereby the common proverbe is veri­fied, if in any thing else, that he runneth far which never returneth, 2 Secondly, God waiteth the time that he may be gracious unto us, Esay 30.18. and have mercy upon us, for he is a God of judgment: and blessed are all they that wait for him, Esay 30. ought not we therefore to follow his example, and to hearken who will speake aright and repent him of his wickednesse, saying, what have I done?

This reproveth the boldnesse and rashnesse of such as dare take upon them to enter into the secrets of God, Ʋse. 1 without any warrant or commission from him; 2 Sam. 6.19. as they that adventured to pry into the Arke were punished 1 Sam. 6. so such as presume to read what is written in the booke of life, and presume to open the booke that is clasped and sealed with many seales, may happily never finde their owne names registred therein. For the farther reproofe of such as dare pronounce the sentence of damnation up­on any, and judge others reprobates, and the directing of our selves herein, let us observe these few rules for the cleering of the point, and the keeping of us in the meane betweene two extremes. Deut. 29.29. First, it is a good rule which Moses giveth, The secret things belong unto the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may doe all the words of this law. But the sentence of reprobation is one of the secrets of God, or rather the secret of secrets, the most hidden secret of all the rest. Secondly, it is noted of charity, it thinketh no evill, 1 Cro. 13.5.7 it beleeveth all things, it hopeth all things, it endureth all things: Such then as despaire of the conver­sion [Page 107]of others, doe plainely declare they are destitute of love which covereth a multitude of sinnes. Thirdly, we must notwithstanding learne the great folly of many men in the world, that build awry or amisse upon a good foundation. For seing we must not be as men without hope of Salvation of others, much lesse of our selves, we see how diverse are deceived that give an easie passage & entrance to commit sinne, till they be so caught and in­tangled, yea so enwrapped and fettered with it, as a fowle in a snare, or as a prisoner in chaines, that they cannot easi­ly breake it off againe, neither ridde themselves of it, as the wise Salomon speaketh of the strange woman, Pro. 2. Pro. 2.19. None that goe unto her returne, againe, neither take they hold of the pathes of life. True it is, this is an excessive and hyper­bolicall speech often used in Scripture, as Esay, 59 4. & 64.7. Ier. 8.6. and sundry examples teach the same, 2 Sam. 12.13. 1 Cor. 6.11. Heb. 11.31.32. Iam. 2.25. But the mea­ning is, few come to repentance & to reforme themselves, or take a better course of life, that they might be saved. And this is another folly of the sinner, who, being rebu­ked and threatned for sinne, doe by and by answer, Tush, we can leave sinne when we list: we will repent at ley­sure and helpe all. But Salomon will teach these fooles, that few or none compassed with the continuall practise of sinne amend their wayes, Pro. 6.22.27 but goe as the Oxe to the slaughter, or as a foole to the correction of the stockes, because they have set themselves in the way to hell, Ier. 13.23. going downe to the Chambers of death. For custome is as strong as na­ture, or rather much stronger; It is as the Ethiopians skin and the Leopards spotts, which cannot be changed. It is hard for a man to forget his naturall language and his mother tongue, but it is harder for the sinner to forsake his sin­full course. For a man by nature or birth is indifferent to any language, and inclined to no one more then to another, because he hath it by hearing and imitation of others, as [Page 110]appeareth in such as are borne deafe: but we doe not on­ly sucke in sinne with the mothers milke, but as the Pro­phet confesseth, Psal. 51.5. We were shapen in iniquitie, and in sinne did our mothers conceive us: which is a great deale more then can be spoken of the language which we learne in our youth. Besides, it is a great pollicy of Satan to cover his purpose at the first, as the fisher doth the hooke, to deceive us the sooner; he beginneth with lesser sinnes, until he have wrapped us in the greater, and our consciences be hardned, and as it were seared with an hote iron. Fourthly, A tvvo fold favour of God to the sinner. this sheweth the wonderfull love and favour of God which he vouchsafeth to any, both when he preven­teth sinne that we doe not fall into it, and when he brea­keth off the course of it when we are overtaken with it; This is a twofold grace. We are by nature prone to sin, and ready to yeeld to every tentation, as we see in Peter that denied his Master at the word of a seely damsell: when therefore the Lord putteth his hand under us and stayeth us up, that we doe not stumble and fall, is not this a wonderfull grace to keepe us from sinning against him, and wounding our owne soules? As this is a great blessing, so the other is yet greater, to pull us out of the snare, when we have one foot in hell; as it is a greater worke to stay a man that is running downe a steepe hill, then to perswade him not to runne at all. The truth of both these, we see in David, a man after Gods owne heart, for when he was purposed to shed blood, 1 Sam. 25.22.33. and to destroy all that pertained to Nabal by the morning light: he blessed God that had kept him from comming to shed blood, and from avenging himselfe with his owne hand. Loe here the preven­ting grace of God to stay him, that was running and ma­king haste to commit sinne. Againe, when he had given himselfe over to commit one sinne after another, Luc. 11.22. as it were to adde drunkennesse unto thirst, the strong man bagan to possesse the house, but a stronger then he came, [Page 111]and overcame him, and tooke from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and so recovered him out of the snare of the Devil, which he laid to entrap him. He had, as much as lay in him, cast himselfe into the mouth of the roaring Lyon that gapeth after his prey: it was therefore the speciall mercy of God to reclaime and recover him out of the snare of the devill, who after a sort was taken captive by him at his will. Lastly, we must labour that sinne may not raigne in our mortall bodies. For albeit we cannot be without sinne, because we carry about the flesh, yet we must take heed it exercise not a kingdome in us: it hath an easie entrance, an easie continuance, but it is hard to get out and to ridde our selves from the tyranny there­of, as we may see in Esau, Gen. 26. in Saul, 1 Sam. 14 & 15. and in Iudas, who passed from one degree to another, till at last they filled up the measure of their sinne. It is an easie matter to pull up the bankes and throw downe the walles, whereby as by fenses or bulwarkes the sea is kept out from overflowing the land, and so to let in the water: but it is not so easie to let it out againe: so it is with sinne, it is no hard thing to make shipwrack of faith and a good conscience, and to pull up the bankes of the feare of God whereby sinne is kept out: but we shall find it one of the hardest things in the world to cast it out of the heart, when it hath gotten firme possession: and therefore it must be our labour and wisedome to prevent sinne in the beginning, lest by continuance it take roote and be as a disease that is incurable.

Secondly, 2 it serveth as an instruction to the Ministers of God, that we cease not with the Dresser in this place to digge about them that remaine unfruitfull, and dung them, that is, to labour [...] [...]yeth in us to further their conversion. Let us all follow the example of Peter, when the Lord had said unto him Launch out into the deepe, and let downe your nettes for a draught, he answered, [Page 112] Master, Luk. 5.5. we have toyled all night, and have taken nothing: neverthelesse at thy word I will let downe the net: Matt. 13.27. so must we cast out the net of the Gospel into the sea, and gather the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. And if it fall out that we draw none to the shore, 2 Cor. 2.15. yet are we the sweet savour of God, as well in them that perish, as in them that are saved: and God no lesse accounteth of our labours, if we have beene faithfull and conscionable, then if we had converted many thousand soules. To this end, the Lord himselfe commandeth Paul not to hold his peace at Corinth, Act. 18.10. but to speake boldly, because he had much people in that City. The husbandman must digge and dung his ground, and cast the seed into the earth, but he cannot give the earely and the latter raine: and albeit he finde a thinne harvest, he may be greeved, yet het he is not dis­couraged. We are commanded to feed the flocke com­mitted unto us, & woe to us if we preach not the Gospel: but we must evermore commit the successe to him, that hath the hearts of all men in his owne power. Mat. 3.11. Iohn Baptist did baptize with water to the remission of sinnes, but he could not Baptize with the holy Ghost: So we may teach and preach the word of the kingdome, but as it fell out with the sower that went out to sow, some fell by the high way side, Matt. 13.4.5.7. some in stony ground, and other among thornes, so must we make our account it will be with us: yet this is our comfort, our judgment is with with the Lord, and the reward of our worke with our God: Esa. 49.4. 1 Pet. 5.4. and when the cheefe shepheard shall appeare, we shall receive a crowne of glory that fadeth not away.

Lastly, it teacheth generally a good duty and direction to all the faithfull, 3 namely, that upon this ground we ex­hort and admonish one another, and seeke to winne and gaine them to God, that so we may bring home the lost sheepe upon our shoulders. This the Apostle prescribeth, exhort one another daily, Heb. 3.13. while it is called to day, lest any of [Page 113]you be hardned through the deceitfulnesse of sinne. Who ac­counteth not him a mercilesse man, that having escaped danger of robbing or drowning, yet giveth not warning to him which traveleth that way, lest hee fall into the hands of theeves and be robbed, or passe by the waters and be drowned? but much more is he without mercy, and guilty of the blood of the soule, that seing his brother overtaken in sinne, and taken in the snare of the Devill, ever seeketh to set him at liberty? Now we have sundry motives to move us to this worke of mercy, farre more profitable to men, and acceptable to God then the sacrifice of Almes-giving that toucheth the body, in re­spect of God, in respect of our selves, and in respect of others. In respect of God, Rom. 11.23 for it maketh manifest his power to be infinite, that he is able to graft them in againe, as the Apostle speaketh of the unbeleeving Iewes, albeit through unbeleefe they were broken off; and it turneth to the greater praise of his glory, and the honour of his name, which we ought to seeke above all things. The more dangerous the disease is, and the longer it hath con­tinued, the more doth the skill and learning of the Physi­tian appeare: Rom. 5.20 so are we the more to magnifie the mercy of God, in that where sinne, bounded, grace doth much more abound. Touching our selves, we thereby exercise the giftes that God hath given, doe not as wicked and sloathfull servants, Mat. 25.26. digge them in the earth and hide our Lords mony: besides, we know not how soone it may be said to us, Come, give an account of thy steward-ship, Luk. 16.1. for thou maist be no longer steward. Lastly, we shall free our owne soules, and not make our selves partakers of other mens sinnes: for by conuivence and holding our peace, we draw guiltinesse upon our owne soules. In respect of others, we may be meanes to save a soule, as Iam. 5. Iam. 5.19.20. If any of you doe erre from the truth, and one convert him, let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the errour [Page 114]of his way, shall save a soule from death, and shall hide a multi­tude of sinnes.

Ʋers. 9. And if it beare fruit, well: and if not, then af­ter that, thou shalt cut it downe.) We heard before of the intreaty and intercession of the Dresser: now the condi­tion followeth, which is double: first, if after all his la­bour, it bring forth fruit. Secondly, if it bring not forth fruit: one of the twaine it must of necessity doe, there is no third: either it must be fruitfull, or vnfruitfull: either we must make the tree good, or evill. The first part of the speech is defective, for there is nothing in the originall to answere to the Condition: the translaters have supplied the word, Well: and somewhat is necessary to be supplied, to make the sense and sentence perfect. I would thinke a word might be borrowed and supplied out of the former verse, where the Vine-dresser saith, Let it alone this yeare also; so in this place, If it bring forth fruit, Let it alone, or thou shalt let it alone: as also appeareth by the contrary condition in the last words. If not, thou shalt cut it downe. He expresseth bearing fruit first, besore he mention the cutting of it downe, because it was the chiefe and principall in the dressers intention, and because all his labour of digging and dunging tended to this end and purpose. Now he intreateth that it may be let alone, if it bring forth fruit: he yeeldeth to the cut­ting of it downe, Doct. if it continue unfruitfull. This teacheth in both the conditions, Promises and threatnings are both of them condi­cionall. 1 King. 8.25. that as well the promises of grace & mercy, as all the threatnings of judgments and punish­ments are conditionall, and to be understood with limita­tion. See this 1 King. 8. Now O Lord God of Israel, keepe with thy servant David my father, that thou promisedst him, saying, There shall not faile thee a man in my sight to sit on the throne of Israel, so that their children take heed to their way, that they walke before me as thou hast walked before me. Of this did David himselfe put his sonne Salomon in [Page 115]mind, 1 Chro. 28.9. Know thou the God of thy father and serve him with a perfect heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searcheth all hearts, &c. if thou seeke him, he will be found of thee: but if thou forsake him, he will cast thee off for ever. So doth our Saviour threaten the Church of Ephesus to remove the Candlesticke out of his place, except it did repent. Revel. 2.5. The rea­son is plaine, both of the one and of the other. He pro­miseth mercy with condition, that we should be stirred up to obedience, that no defect might be on Gods be­halfe: and againe he threatneth judgement, that he might not enter into judgement; and denounceth punishment, that he might not punish, but that we should repent and a­mend our lives, and remember from whence we are fallen. Revel. 2.5. This appeareth evidently in his threatning against Nineveh, who can tell, Ionah. 3.9. if God will turne and repent from his fierce wrath, that we perish not? When we repent, he re­penteth: we of the evill of sinne, he of the evill of punish­ment: but if we repent not of our sinne, he will never re­pent him of the punishment that he hath threatned to bring upon us.

It reproveth all such as remember what God hath pro­mised to us, but forget what he requireth of us. Ʋse. 1 God hath made a Covenant with us, as he did with Abraham, Gen. 17.7.1.2.6. and we binde our selves interchangably one to another. He said unto Abraham, I will be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee: but how? on this condition, Thou shalt keepe my Covenant; and what was that? Obedi­ence, whereof circumcision was a signe; walke before me and be upright. If Abraham had called unto God to per­forme his part, to blesse him as his God, and in the meane season had never performed his owne part of the Cove­nant, to walke before him in the uprightnesse of his heart had he not dallied with God, and deceived himselfe? But thus the case standeth with us, we are ready to cōplaine & murmur, if the Lord do not blesse us, when in the meane [Page 116]season we forget what promise we have made to him. If we should deale so with men like unto our selves, would not all accuse us of folly?

Secondly, 2 let us not flatter our selves and beare our selves bold and presume, because we have many precious promises of grace and helpe in time of neede. These pro­mises, howsoever they be in themselves surer then the heavens, and more stable then the earth, yea be ratified & confirmed by an oath, that by two unchangable things, wher­in it is unpossible that he should lye, Heb. 6.18 we might have strong consolation: I say these promises are no promises to us, if we doe not keepe the Covenant; it is all one as if they had never beene made. Mat. 6.25.33. Our Saviour willeth us to take no thought what to eate or what to drinke, or wherewith to be clothed; he promiseth that he will never leave us nor forsake us, but it is with condition, first seeke the kingdome of God, and then all these things shall be mini­stred unto us; then he saith, my mercy will I keepe for them for evermore, my promise shall stand with them: my co­venant will I not breake, Psal. 89.28.34. neither alter the thing that is gone out of my lippes.

Lastly, 3 let us serve him with a perfect heart and a willing mind: seeke to know his will, and serve him when we do know it. Let us not be discouraged in his threatnings, seing they also are conditionall, as well as his promises. Let us breake off the course of our sinnes, and amend our lives, then we may be well assured, he will turne from all his wrath, and remember our sins and iniquities no more. For he is faithfull, he never forsaketh us untill we forsake him. This is it, that the Prophet is sent to tell Asa and all Iudah and Benjamin, The Lord is with you, while ye be with him: 2 Chr. 15.2 and if ye seeke him, he will be found of you: but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. And is it not just with God to deale with us, as we deale with him? and to mea­sure to us againe, as we have measured to him? Let us [Page 117]therefore seeke him while he may be found, and call upon him while he is neere: let us forsake our evill wayes, and returne unto the Lord: then he will have mercy upon us, and he will abundantly pardon all our sinnes.

If it beare fruit, well.) Doct. The barren estate is very dangerous, neare to bee burnt up. The fig-tree in this place is not said expresly to be dead, but to be barren and to bring forth no fruit at all, which is all one. This teacheth that the barren condition hath no life nor comfort in it, but is full of danger, even neere to burning. This Iohn the Bap­tist teacheth, Every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewen downe and cast into the fire, Math 3.10. Math. 3.10. So the Apostle Heb. 6.6. The earth which beareth thornes and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing, Heb. 6.7.8. whose end is to be bur­ned. A man may say of such, as the Disciples of the fig­tree, Math. 21.29. against which the curse was passed by the mouth of Christ, How soone is the figge-tree withered away? Such then doe lye under an heavy curse. We thinke we have said much in praise and commendation of many, and in­deed of many it is too much, to say they are harmelesse men, they doe no man any hurt, you may live long among them, and you shall receive no wrong nor jniury from them: but is this enough? no doubtlesse: for what shall this profit, if we bring forth no good fruit? Ier. 17.8. Ezek. 47.12.

The reasons are plaine: for first, Reason. 1 the law of God is not onely negative, but also affirmative: it commandeth good, as well as forbiddeth evill. The negative part is but halfe the Commandement: and he that performeth so much, hath done but halfe his duty, like a Dove that flyeth with one wing, or like a lame man that hoppeth up­on one legge. The Commandement which saith thou shalt not kill, saith also inclusively. 2 Thou shalt preserue thy neighbours life. Secondly, to omit the duties which a man ought to performe, is a kind of contempt against God. For not to honour or obey, is to contemne. A [Page 118]servant which will not doe what his Master comman­deth, Mal. 3.6. (because a servant honoureth his Master) it is joy­ned with open contempt of him; no marveil therefore, if disobedience to God, be also a contempt against God, as the Prophet saith, If I be a Master, where is my feare, saith the Lord of hostes?

This teacheth that doubtlesse many stand guilty of a mul­titude of sinnes which they never thought of, Ʋse 1 neither once dreamed upon. Many men happly will grant there is some conscience to be made of committing evill, who never thinke it a sinne to omit a good duty. Such will confesse it a sin to worship a false god, but never consider, they are commanded to vnite their affections to the true God, to trust in him, to beleeve him, to love him, to feare him, and to depend upon him: that it is an heinous Crime to pray to a strange God, or to Saints and Angels, or to bow downe to an image, who regard not to worship God in truth and sincerity, and to call upon him in the day of trouble. Many will refraine from working on the Sabbath day, and prophaning it by riding about their businesse, or running after their sports and pastimes, they would be loth to doe these: but in the meane season how doe they sanctifie and keepe it holy? when they care not to heare the word, or to performe publike and private duties of religion upon it? We must all give ac­count at the great day of the Lord, as well what good we have done, as what evill we have done. That good go­vernour of the people Nehemiah desired the Lord to re­member him concerning the good deedes which he had done for the house of his God: Neh. 13.14. It had beene small comfort to him if he had onely done them no hurt, and gone no farther: for so much might be said of an image, or of the bruit beast; but his comfort was, he had endeavoured and em­ployed himselfe to doe them good. And how did Obadiah shew his religious heart in the dayes of persecution [Page 119]toward the Lords Prophets? what, did he rest in this, that he had done them no hurt? No, 1 King. 18.13 he did an hundred of them by fifty in a cave, and fedde them with bread and wa­ter. Or how did Rahab the harlot testifie her faith to­ward the spies, that were sent to search the land? did she content her selfe to offer them no injury, and to bewray them, or deliver them into the hands of their enemie? No doubtlesse, she was justified by her workes, Iam. 225. Heb. 11.31. when she had received the messengers with peace, and had sent them out an­other way. But the religion of most men in our dayes is a negative religion, they have little positive, you may sooner obserue what they doe not, Gal. 6.10. then understand what they doe. We must obserue the rule of the Apostle, As we have opportunity, let us doe good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the houshold of faith.

Secondly, 2 it reproveth such as content themselves with idle shewes and appearances of obedience and sincerity: It will not serve our turne to be Christians onely in out­ward profession, if we be fruitlesse and faulty in conver­sation. It is not enough to make us sound Christians to come to Church, to be at prayers, to heare the word, and receive the Sacraments, when we yeeld no fruit of obedi­ence, as if it were sufficient, that the fig-tree were planted in the Vineyard, albeit it bare nothing but leaves: Psal. 1.3. but we must be as trees of righteousnesse, planted by the rivers side which bring forth fruite in their season: True it is, the Church hath alwayes had such painted Sepulchers, or gilded tombes outwardly, as the Iewes that had the Temple of the Lord alwayes in their mouthes, who yet re­mained wicked and prophane persons in their lives. The sound Christian is not discerned by the leaves of outward appearance, but by the precious fruits of the spirit: not by his profession, but by his practise: and they are the true Israelites which are so within, whose praise is of God and not of men. The fig-tree had leaves good flore which [Page 120]were seene a farre off, Mar. 11.13. and seemed to promise great store of fruit, but when Christ drew neere and looked for fruit, & found none, he said, Never more fruit grow upon thee. Let us take heed, in time, of such a wofull sentence. For may not Christ Iesus, trow you, finde store of such fruit­lesse fig-trees in this Vineyard of his? nay, when he com­meth to looke upon his Vineyard, will it not be a rare thing and an hard matter to see a fig-tree with any fruit upon it? Nay, are we not for the most part come to this passe, that we have scarce any leave at all to be seene, that a man may take a Candle and search for leaves, and yet find none upon them? This is the state and condition of sundry among us: how neere are such to the curse, and to be burned up, which have neither fruit nor leaves, neither substance nor shew, neither body nor shadow, neither truth nor appearance: but openly and evidently make plaine Demonstration of wild and wicked fruit, Deut. 32.32.33. their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter, their wine is the poi­son of Dragons, and the cruell venime of Aspes: Such shall never be suffered to remaine within the Vineyard, the axe is laid to the root of the tree, to cut them downe.

Thirdly, 3 this checketh and controlleth the slanderous mouthes and pennes of the Romish Church opened wide and enlarged against our doctrine, which they knew not or will not know: who beare the world and their igno­rant Disciples, the multitude in hand, that our religion destroyeth good works, Math. 5.16. whereas we call upon the people to bring forth the fruits of the Gospel, and to let our light so shine before men, that they may see our good workes and glorifie our father which is heaven. Nay we teach a necessity of good workes, as well as they, to be in all true be­leevers, that they which have beleeved in God, might be care­full to maintaine good workes, these things are good and profi­table unto men. Wherein then lyeth the difference between us! they teach them to be the causes of our justification; [Page 121]we that they be lively fruits and effects of faith: they doe not goe before him that is to be justified, but they follow him that is already justified: they are not necessary in the act or office of justification, but they are necessarily required to be in every justified person.

Lastly, 4 let us all be provoked to the diligent practise of good workes. No man must thinke himselfe exempted or priviledged from good workes, albeit he be never so poore or simple. The most sort post over this duty from one to another, and thinke when we call for good workes it is a doctrine that toucheth onely rich men and such as have the wealth of this world at will, and none other: as if there were no good workes of charity, that did de­serue the name of good workes; which neuerthelesse are neither the onely good workes, nor the chiefest good workes. For we looke upon our selves in the glasse of the law, and try our selves thereby. These workes are of two sorts; some generall, and others speciall. The gene­rall are such as concerne all, among which the workes of the first Table, being the first and great Commandements, Math. 22.38. must have the first place, to love God above our selves, to feare him, to beleeve in him, to trust in him, to pray unto him, to serve and worship him, to reverence his name, and to sanctifie his Sabbath: and the workes of the second Table are like; Gal. 5.22.23. for the fruits of the spirit are mani­fest, love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentlenesse, faith, meekenesse temperance, and such like. These belong to all, and must be practised of all persons, high and low, rich and poore, none may excuse themselves. The speciall workes are such as belong to every man in his particular calling. For as we have all a generall calling as we are Christians, so we are set in severall callings, such as are superiors and inferiors, as the Magistrate and subject, the husband and wife, fa­ther and sonne, master and servant: we must labour to be found faithfull in these, how low so ever our place be, if [Page 122]we be found carefull and conscionable, even the meanest servant that drudgeth in the Kitchin, if his calling be no­thing but to scoure spittes, Eph. 6.6.7. or to wipe shooes, yet if he be obedient to his Master as unto Christ, not with eye-service, as men pleasers, but as the servant of Christ, do­ing the will of God from the heart, with good will doing service as to the Lord and not to men: he is no lesse accepted of God in his place, then he that prea­cheth the word, or he that ruleth a kingdome.

Well; or thou shalt let it alone.) These words are expresly mentioned; but they, or some such like must necessarily be understood, as if it were said, let it stand and continue in the Vineyard, that it may bring forth more fruit, as Ioh. Ioh. 15.2. 15. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Doct. This teacheth us, that the fruits of repentance obtaine the pardon and forgivenesse of all sinnes and offences, Repentance obtaineth for­givenesse of sinnes and the favour of God. and prevent Gods wrath and judgements, and procure his love and favour. He hath made a sure promise of remission of former offences to all such as truly turne unto him. Thus the Prophet hath, Wash you, make you cleane, take away the evill of your workes from before mine eyes, &c. then though your sinnes were as crimsin, Esay, 1.16.18 & 55.6.7. they shall be as wooll; and though they were as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow: and chap 55. Seeke the Lord while he may be found, and call upon him while he is neere: let the wicked forsake his wayes, and the unrighteous his owne imaginations &c. let him returne unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, Ezek. 18.23. And the Prophet Ezekiel chap. 18. I will not the death of a sinner, but rather that he repent and live: where he coupleth these two together. The truth of this point is farther confirmed by sundry examples, as 2 Sam. 2 Sam. 12.13 12.13. When David had acknowledged his sinne against the Lord, the Prophet said for his comfort, The Lord also put away thy sinne. The like we see in Manasseth [Page 123]when he was carried away captive and clapt up in prison being in great tribulation, prayed unto the Lord, 2 Chr. 33.12 and hum­bled himselfe greatly be fore the Lord God of his fathers, and God was intreated of him and heard his prayer, and brought him backe againe to Ierusalem, and set him upon the throne of his fathers. The Publican smote his brest, saying, Lord, Luk. 18.13.14. be mercifull to me a sinner: I tell you this man went downe to his house, justified rather then the proud Pharisee. The like I might say of Paul, 1 Tim. 1.13. he obtained mercy and forgivenesse when he was converted: so the penitent theefe upon the Crosse, said to the Lord Iesus, Lord, Luk. 23.42.43. remember me when thou commest into thy kingdome? and Iesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in Paradise. Mar. 1.4. Hence it is that the Evangelist witnesseth that Iohn did baptise in the wildernesse, and preach the baptisme of repentance for the remission of sinnes: where we see he knitieth repentance and forgivenesse of sinnes together.

The reasons: first, Reason. 1 all penitent persons shall have the blood of Christ Iesus to wash & clense their soules from all their sinnes: a singular benefit. This reason the Pro­phet vrgeth, Esay, 1.17.17.18. For to speake properly, no­thing can clense us but Christs blood, so foule and filthy we are; and therefore it is called cleane water, Ezek. 36.25. 1 Ioh. 1.7.9. I will powre cleane water upon him: and thus the Apostle Iohn saith, If we confesse our sinnes, he is faithfull and just to forgive us our sinnes; and the blood of Iesus Christ his Sonne clenseth us from all sinne. Secondly, 2 such shall have right to carthly bles­sings and to a right use of them to their everlasting com­fort, as Esay, 1. Ye shall eate the good things of the land: Esay 1.19.20 but if they refused and rebelled, they should be destroyed, for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

Let us apply these things. First conclude, Vse 1 that all impe­nitent persons are out of Gods favour and protection, and lye under all the plagues and punishments that God de­nourceth against sinners. This is a fearefull estate and [Page 124]condition, Deut. 28.16. to be cursed in the whole course of our life, at home and abroad, in the City and in the field, in all that we put our hand unto, Deut. 28. The curse of God bringeth with it all miseries of this life and of the life to come. If then we repent not, we die.

Secondly, 2 they, that are truly penitent, are truly happy: for that man is blessed, Psal. 32.1.2. & 38.4. whose transgressions are for given, and whose sinne is covered: Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity. There cannot be a greater blessing befall us in this world, then to get pardon of our finnes: for all the burdens that we can beare, are not to be compa­red to the burden of sin, and therefore to be lighted of it, is one of the greatest blessings: of all the spottes & staines that can sticke unto us, Iam. 1.21. sinne is the filthiest, and therefore to be clensed and washed from it, maketh us cleane in his sight.

Lastly, 3 hence ariseth matter of comfort to all such as earnestly endeavour this worke of clensing and purging of themselves, The vvay and the meanes to attaine to re­pentance. to bring forth good fruit. They shal have God himselfe to helpe, strengthen, and assist them, to cause them goe through with that worke. If any aske what is the way, and what be the meanes to attaine unto it, and to lead us by the hand to enter into that course? I answer, 1 First, to account no sinne in it owne nature light or small. This is that withholdeth us from repentance, and draweth iniquity with cords of vanity, Esay, 5.18. and sinne as it were with a cart-rope, to suppose it to be a slight thing, that we may doe a little, that we neede not be so precise to sticke at a little, like the sluggard that giveth way to a little sleepe a little slumber, Pro. 6.10. a little folding of the hands to sleepe: but we must assure our selves, that though there be difference be­tweene sinne, yet all finne is heinous, none to be accounted little, Rom. 6.23. as Rom. 6. the wages of (all) sinne is death. Secondly, to avoyde all occasions and allurements that may draw and entise us to sinne, 2 as we are commanded to abstaine from [Page 125]all appearance of evill: and Iude saith, Others save with feare, 2 Thess. 5.22 Iude vers. 23. pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment spotted with the flesh. Thirdly, 3 to accustome our selves to subdue the smaller and lesser sinnes, that at the last, we may subdue and overcome the greater: like a captaine who to hearten & encourage his souldiers, bringeth them where the weakest enemies are encamped. Fourthly, to oppose the law, 4 the curse, the last judgment, and such like, against all sinne whatsoever: and therefore Salomon saith, Pro. 28.14. Blessed is the man that feareth alwayes: but he that hardneth his heart shall fall into mischiefe. Lastly, 5 to remember that the least sinne cost the blood of Christ our Saviour to make satisfaction: and brought him from the bosome of his father to take our na­ture upon him, and in that nature to dye for us: Psal. 49.7.8. No man can by any meanes redeeme his brother, neither give to God a ransome for him, so precious is the redemption of the Soule.

And if not, then after that thou shalt, &c.) This latter clause of the sentence is defective in the former part, as the former was in the latter part. The meaning is, if this fig-tree will not bring forth fruit, that is, of repentance, after all the labour of digging and dunging bestowed up­on it, after this thou shalt cut it downe. Doct. This teacheth that all trees, which are in the Vineyard are not fruitfull trees: All that are in the Church are not true members of the true Church. neither are all which are in the Church members of the Church; but many hypocrites in it, as there are evill hu­mours in the body, which are no parts of the body. So it was in the house of Abraham; so it was in the house of Isaac: for all are not Israel, which are of Israel: Rom. 9.6.7. & 2.28. neither be­cause they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children, but in Isaac shall thy seed be called. So there is a Iew which is one outwardly, and there is a Iew which is one inwardly; as there is a circumcision which is in the flesh, and a circumci­sion of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men but of God.

This will farther appeare by the title given to the Reason. 1 [Page 124]visible Church, It is the garden of God; in a garden all are not good and wholsome herbes: and on the tree, all is not fruit, but some leaves. The Church is the floore, where in is both corne and chaffe: Mat. 3.12. & 13.24.47. the field wherein groweth both wheat and tares: the net that catcheth all sorts of fishes both good and bad: the pasture where in feed both sheepe & goates: some are sheepe in shew and semblance, that in­wardly are ravening wolues in sheepes clothing, others are sheepe indeed and in truth: some by outward calling and profession and in the eye of the Church, others by grace and inward regeneration and in the eye of God. Secondly, 2 all that be within the Church be not the elect of God, Math. 20.16. therefore all cannot be beleevers: for many are called, but few are chosen. It is the house of God, in a great a great house, 2 Tim. 2.30. there are not onely vessels of Gold and of Silver, but also of wood and of earth, some to honour and some to dishonour. 3 Thirdly, it is compared to the Arke of Noah; wherein as there were both cleane beasts and un­cleane: and men cleane and uncleane: So all that are in Church are not by and of the Church, 1 Ioh. 2.19. as 1 Iohn. 2. they went out from us, but they were not of us: for if they had beene of us, they would no doubt have continued with us, &c.

This serveth for reproofe, Ʋse. 1 and that of sundry sorts. First it confuteth them that hold the godly alone to be members of the visible Church: whereas the barren fig-tree was planted in the vineyard as well as the other trees. Secondly, it reproveth such as forsake the visible Church, for the wickednesse of them that live in it, and doe in that respect condemne it for no Church. Thirdly, it convinceth such as dreame of perfection in the Church. The floore cannot be throughly purged in this life, that there should be nothing but wheat in the Church of God: the servant cannot plucke up all the tares in this life, Math. 13.28.29. lest while they ga­ther up the tares, they root up also the good seed with them. This serveth to pull up by the rootes the dotage of the Anabap­tists [Page 125]and familie of Loue: for never was there such a Church in this life, as they dreame off, neither shall there be hereafter.

Secondly, 2 see here the difference betweene the Church in this life and that in the life to come: betweene the Church militant & triumphant. For here the Church complaineth that it is blacke both in regard of the affliction and infirmi­ties therof in this life, albeit it be also comely: Cant. 1.5. blacke in re­spect of it selfe, but comely or lovely in respect of Christ. But after this life, all blacknesse and imperfections shall be done away, when Christ Iesus shall present it to himselfe a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinckle, or any such thing, Eph. 5.27. but that it should be holy & without blemish. No unrighteous­nesse then shall enter therein, Revel. 21.27.4. neither any thing that is un­cleane or any thing that defileth▪ then God shall wipe away all teares from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more paine, for the former things are passed away.

Lastly, it exhorteth us never to give rest to our soules, 3 until we become the Israel of God, true members of the visible Church: because to such & to none others, the pro­mises of grace & life by Christ be fruitfull & effectuall. Let us then be warned, that we do not cōtent our selves to live in the Church, for so false Israelites doe, and hypocriticall Christians, who professe Christ in word, Tit. 1.16. Revel. 3.1.2. but deny him in their workes, who have a name that they are alive, but indeed are dead. Let us therefore be watchful, & strengthen the things which remaine, that are ready to dy, & repent speedily, be­cause wee know not what houre hee will come upon us. This is the use that the Apostle teacheth, having shewed that in a great house are sundry vessels, some to honour & some to dishonour, he addeth, 2 Tim. 2.21. Let us purge our selves from these, that we may be vessels unto honour, sanctified, & meet for the masters use, and prepared to every good worke. Math. 3.8. Let us strive to bring forth fruit worthy amendment of life. Let us clense [Page 126]our selves from all filthinesse of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holinesse in the feare of God, and pur­ging our consciences more and more from dead workes, that so we may gather comfort and assurance that we are vessels to honour, and for our better assurance, let every one depart from iniquity, that nameth the name of Christ. 2 Tim. 2.19. Doct.

After that thou shalt cut it downe) Here is the finall doome of this fig-tree without any farther repriving or sparing thereof, Though the Lord suffer long, yet he punisheth at the last. if it cannot be made fruitfull. From whence I might observe, that the Lord, howsoever he be very patient and doth forbeare long, yet at the last he wil come to visit and punish men for their sinnes, Ier. 5.7.9. How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me and sworne by them that are no gods: when I had fedde them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assem­bled themselves by troupes in the harlots houses. So Esay 42.14.15. 1 Sam. Reason. 1 5.6. The reasons, first, in regard of his love and mercy to his children, he will not suffer them to live in their sinnes unpunished: thus he doth mani­fest his goodnesse, yea that he is goodnesse it selfe, and consequently opposite to evill, 2 and so will visit them for their sinnes. Secondly, his justice will not suffer him to let the wicked escape, but hee will and must punish. He is just, nay justice it selfe, and therefore cannot but doe justice, Rom. 2.6. & 3.5.6. and give to every one according to his workes, as Rom. 3. Is God unrighteous who taketh vengeance? I speake as a man: God forbid: for then how shall God judge the world?

This teacheth the children of God, Ʋse. 1 that they have no cause at all to be envious against the wicked for their prosperity and happinesse in this world: for let them waite a while, and abide but a short time, which the Lord in his providence hath appointed, they shal behold him comming against them with his drawne [Page 127]sword, and visit their iniquities to the full: Exod. 34.7. for hee will by no means clearethe guilty. Secondly, 2 it admonisheth every man to labour to breake off his sinnes whatsoever they be, and not to harden himselfe, because God spareth him: be­cause howsoever God spareth him, and maketh as though he did not perceive him: yet at the last he payeth home. How neere hath Gods hand beene to many in this great visitation, in the same house, and in the same bed, when the one hath beene taken away, and the o­ther spared, and his life given him for a prey. O con­sider this, ye that have already forgotten this mercy of God, and labour to appease his wrath before yee come to his judgement-seate, for then it will be to late to call and cry for mercy: let us labour too repent betimes here, that so we may find mercy before the throne of God hereafter. Lastly, 3 it warneth us of the wofull estate of all such as despise his patience: for what doe such, but heape up wrath against the day of wrath? Rom. 2.

Thou shalt cut it downe.) Dcto. The Lord of the Vineyard waited yeare after yeare to receive some fruit; Such as grow desperate are neere to de­struction. and the dresser thereof obtained the continuance of the standing thereof another yeare, if nothing will serve, none will intreat any farther, it must be cut downe. This teach­eth us, that when once we grow desperate without hope of amendment, and past recovery, God is deter­mined to destroy us, and to pull us up by the rootes, as trees that are altogether withered, dead, and rotten. Thus it was with the sonnes of Eli, the sonnes of Belial, 1 Sam. 2.12.25. they knew not the Lord, neither would they give eare to the warning of their father: but what was the end? They hearkned not to the voyce of their father, because the Lord would slay them. This we see also 2 Chro. 36. the Lord gave his people over into the hand of the Calde [...]s: but when came the wrath of the Lord upon them to the uttermost? when there was no remedy. He had sent his [Page 128]Prophets continually and successively one after another among them, 2 Cor. 36.15 16. but they could do no good with them they grew worse, as those that are desperately diseased, & cānot be healed. There was therfore no remedy, neither other way with them, then to cut them off utterly. Thus our Saviour speaketh, Math. 23.37.38. I would have gathered you together, but ye would not: behold your house and habitation is left unto you deso­late, Esay. 6.10 so that it came to passe as the Lord had threatned, Make the heart of this people fat, and make their eares heavy, and shut their eyes: lest they see with their eyes, and herewith their eares, and understand with their heart, and be healed.

The reasons are; first because there is nothing left that can doe them any good. Reason. 1 All the meanes that the Lord hath used or can use will not profit them, but like Dogges and Swine they tread the precious pearles of the Gospel under their feet. Ier. 17.6. They are like the heath in the wildernesse, which shall not see when any good com­meth, but shall inhabit the parched places in a salt land and not inhabited. The heath hath good meanes com­ming upon it to make it good, the Summer commeth, the Sunne shineth, the raine falleth, the influence of the heavens descendeth, yet euermore it remaineth the same, a dry and barren heath: It is with the barren soule as with the barren soile; the word, the Ministers, the Sab­bathes, the Sacraments, the dayes of grace, nay Christ Iesus himselfe can doe them no good: no good? nay the Word, which in it selfe is the savour of life to life, becommeth to them the savour of death to death: 2 Cor. 2.16. Christ himselfe is a recke of offence, and a stone to stumble at: and all the rest of the meanes ordained to Salvation turne to their finall destruction. 1 Pet. 3.8. Secondy, such haue filled up the measure of their sinne, 2 being disobedient, and to every good worke reprobate, Math. 23.32. it is now come to the top, and his judgments lye even at the doore, ready to fal heavy upon them: then will God fill up the vials of his [Page 129]wrath, and powre them downe upon their heads.

To apply these things to our selves, it ought to move us to turne to the Lord betimes, Ʋse 1 while there may be an healing and binding up of the wounds, least the heart be hardned through the deceitfulnesse of sinne, which of all judgments is the most grievous. If it be once said of us as it was of the Iewes, That the Lord sent to us his servants rising up continually and carefully, because, 2 Chro. 36.15.16. he hath compassion on his people: but we on the other side mocke his messengers & ministers, & despise his words; what remaineth but that the wrath of the Lord arise against us, either by the plague & pestilence, as he hath upon our brethren, or by the sword of the enemy which wil have no cōpassion upon the yong the maiden, or him that stooped for age. He hath other man or secret judgements which the world taketh no knowledge of, neither judgeth them to be any judgements at all, these, as they are more secret, so they are more sharpe: as when he taketh away his word from us, or if he continue it, yet maketh it unprofitable through our abuse and contempt of it.

Secondly, 2 wofull is their estate which goe forward in their evill wayes: are not these nigh destruction? Doubt­lesse there is but a step betweene death and them: nay, they have as it were one foot in hell already, being readier to draw the other after a thousand times, then to withdraw the other from thence. Hence it is that the Prophet saith, Ier. 30.12. Thus saith the Lord, thy bruise is incurable, and thy wound is grievous, there is none to plead thy cause that thou maist be bound up, thou bast no healing [...]dicine: there is no Balme in Gilead to heale them, whom the Lord seeth thus with­out remedy, and thus past recovery. They are like a man desperately sicke, whom all the Physitians have forsaken: The husbandman taketh his weeding instruments, and la­boureth to grubbe up the thornes and thistles and weedes out of his ground, that the good corne might the better [Page 130]prosper and flourish; but when once he seeth there is no end of his worke, nor fruit of his labour, but the more he toyleth and moyleth, the more they grow and encrease, he is without hope to overcome them, and so withdraweth himselfe, and letteth all alone. For why or to what end should he busie and bestirre himselfe in vaine? Thus it is with the Lord, he sendeth his messengers, and chargeth them to warne his people in season, to admonish and ex­hort them: but when they stop their eares, and pull away their shoulders, and refuse to hearken, what can we thinke but that the Lord is determined to lay waste his Vineyard, that it shal not be pruned or digged or dunged any longer, but there shall come upbries and thornes, Esay, 5.5. and to command the cloudes that they raine downe no more raine upon it; yea, to take away the hedge thereof, that it may be eaten up: and to breake downe the wall thereof, that it may be troden downe, as he threatned to the Vineyard of the house of Is [...]ael, when he looked for judgement, but behold op­pression: and for righteousnesse, but behold a cry.

Thirdly, 3 let not the Ministers neverthelesse be discoura­ged, though they see oftentimes they must be driven to plough the waste and barren wildernesse, and then sow among thornes and thistles. The sower goeth out to sow his seede, and it falleth not all or alwayes in good ground, but some by the high-way side, some in stony ground, and other falleth upon thornes without any fault either of the sower or of the seed. We may not not be ou [...]own chusers to chuse our ground where we will sow, neither lay our plot-forme where we will build: much lesse can we make the earth fruitfull, or the building healthfull. The Prophet complaineth, Esay. 53.1. & 49.4. that no man beleeved his report: and prophe­sying of the labours of Christ Iesus to plant the Gospel, who was the best labourer in the field, and the best shep­heard of the sheepe, he bringeth him in complayning, that he had laboured in vaine, and spent all his strength in vaine: [Page 131]neverthelesse he was not discouraged, but comforted himselfe in this, that the reward of his worke was laid up in heaven. Salomon giving directious for workes of charity, Eccl. 11.1.6. chargeth them that have this worlds good to cast their bread upon the waters, because they should find it after many dayes: and afterward he addeth to the same purpose, In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withdraw not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good: much rather should it be thus with us; we should cast the bread of life upon the waters, even when we have small hope to find it againe, as if a man should sow his seed in the sea, and use all diligence, and take all occasions to doe good, leaving the issue of our labours to the cheife husband man. And the rather we ought to doe it, because we are unto God the sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, 2 Cor. 2.15. and in them that perish, that is, in all persons, because all men whatsoever, either are such as shall be saved, or such as shall be condemned: and the reward shall be according to the faithfulnesse of the Ministers teaching, not according to the fruitfulnesse of the peoples hearing.

Lastly, it behoveth us in time to take heed how we heare; 4 not onely what we heare touching the matter, Mark 4.24. Mar. 4 24. Luk. 8.18. but also how we heare, touching the manner, Luk. 8.18. and regard how it be performed, as well as that it be per­formed. The more the word of God soundeth in our eares and we respect it but as a sound, the more our hearts are hardned, like the anvill that is beaten and hardned by the continuall strokes of the hammer. Gods word is in regard of the effectes resembled & compared to fire & to an ham­mer, as Ier. 23. Is not my word like as a fire, saith the Lord, Ier. 23.29. and like an hammer that breaketh the rooke in pieces? There is more hope of men that never heard the word, and never lived under the ordinary ministry and preaching of it, [Page 132]then of such as have had their eares beaten with it, & yet it cannot enter into their hearts, as our Saviour speaketh to the chiefe Priests and Elders of the people, Math. 21.31. Ʋerily I say unto you, that the publicanes and the harlots goe into the king­dome of God before you, If the word do not convert us, it doth condemne us: and if it make us not better, it maketh us worse. A soft heart is a singular blessing: they are thrice happy that have attained unto it: on the other side, the sinner that is as brasse and iron, and past feeling, lyeth under an heavy curse. Pro. 20.12. Hence it is, that Salomon sayth, The hearing eare, and the seeing eye, the Lord hath made even both of them. We cannot see what is before us, untill God direct us, Gen. 21.19. Luk. 24.16.31. We cannot heare the voice that soundeth, untill he open our eares, Act. 22.9. If then he have opened our eares, that it may be said of us, My sheepe heare my voyce, Ioh. 10 27. and I give unto them eternall life, and they shall never perish: and if withall he opened our hearts as he did the heart of Lydia, Act. 16.14. that we may attend to the things which are spoken; We have received such a blessing as many thousands do want, and for which we are bound to give continuall thankes to almighty God, to whom be praise in the Church for ever, Amen.

FINIS.

A Recapitulation of the Doctrines handled in this Scripture.

  • THe way to prevent Gods judgments, is to repent.
  • Doubtlesse such as continue in sinne without repentance shall perish.
  • We are rather to looke to our selves, then to censure others.
  • Outward judgments neither alwaies seaze up­on the worst sort, neither alwayes free the best men.
  • God hath many wayes to take away mans life, and that suddainely, when pleaseth him.
  • The wicked are by nature bloody and cruell.
  • Examples of Gods judgements upon some are profitable to others.
  • Jt is lawfull for the Minister of God to use parables and similitudes.
  • [Page]The end of Gods patience ought to be our re­pentance.
  • The favour and patience of God toward his Church is infinite.
  • Patience neglected and abused bringeth de­struction.
  • Evill minded men are altogether unprofita­ble to themselves and others.
  • Gods children make intercession for others, and are heard.
  • We should not utterly despaire of the salvation of others, howsoever they runne astray.
  • The promises and threatnings of God are con­ditionall.
  • The barren estate is very dangerous, neere to the fire.
  • Repentance obtaineth for givenesse of sinnes, and the favour of God.
  • All that are in the Church are not true members of the Church.
  • The Lrod, though he suffer long, punisheth at last.
  • Such as grow desperate and are past recovery, God is determined to destroy.
FINIS.
PHISICKE AGAINST FAM …

PHISICKE AGAINST FAMINE. OR, A SOVERAIGNE Preservative against all distrustfull thoughts and cares touching the things of this life, prescribed and administred by the best Physicion of soule and body, Christ Iesus:

Comfortable in these dayes.

Opened and expounded in certaine Sermons, by WILLIAM ATTERSOLL, Minister of the Word of God.

PSAL. 37.25. I have beene yong, and now am old: yet have I not seene the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.
ROM. 8.32. He that spared not his owne Sonne, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

LONDON, Printed by E. A. for Michael Sparke the yonger, dwelling at the blue Bible in Greene Arbour. 1632.

TO THE RIGHT VVOR­shipfull and worthy Lady, the Lady DOROTHY SHVRLEY, all happinesse in this life, and in the life to come.

Madam;

THe saying of the Apostle is remarkable and never to be forgotten, 1 Tim. 4.8. & 6.6. Godlinesse is pro­fitable unto all things, having the pro­mise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come: and afterward in the same Epistle, Godlines with cōtentment is great gaine. For what can it profit a man, if hee should gaine the whole world, and then lose his owne soule? Now the drift of this ensuing Treatise (as appeareth by the Title) is to shew to a godly Christian, received already into the love and favour of God in this life, & looking for happines in hea­ven after this life, by what holy meanes he may support his heart, as posts doe the house, with sufficient contentment against all the miseries that doe or may assault him in time of necessity. The crosses and tentations, wherewith the life, especially of a poore Christian is distressed, are manifold, and Satan worketh upon their severall wants, to surprize them, and make them often cry out, What shall we eate? Matth. 6.31. or what shall we drinke? or wherewithall shall we be clothed? Every calling in the world, from the highest to the lowest, is assaulted with his proper and peculiar tentations, and there are certaine unlawfull and ungodly courses practised by wicked man, which we may not unfitly call The speciall sinnes of such a calling. Hence it is, that the Apostle among [Page]other precepts beateth upon this, Heb. 13.5, 6. Gen. 28.15. Deut. 31.6, 8. Iosh. 1.5. Let your conversation be without covetousnesse, and bee content with such things as ye have; for hee hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee: so that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, I will not feare what man shall doe unto me: and our Saviour, to comfort us against feare of famine, sendeth us sometimes to God, sometimes to our selves, sometimes to the Heaven, sometimes to the earth, and sometimes to the Gentiles, that by all these wee might have strong consolation and rest in him, that hath given us both our lives and our bodies. Consider a little the History of the Creation, as it is described in the Booke of Genesis: God made all the Creatures to serve for mans use, before he made man himselfe, wherein wee may behold a perpetuall patterne of his providence, that he never bringeth any into the world, but that first hee ordaineth things needfull for them, for the time alotted them to be there; even as milke in the Mothers brests for the child to sucke, before ever the child be borne to sucke the same. A very gaod patterne al­waies to have before on eyes, against that distrust and infi­delity which commonly hangeth on, and haunteth the nature of man in those matters. Let us also take heed of setting our heart upon the world, and the things in the world, and be rea­dy evermore to confesse in word, and shew it by our, practice that we account our selves to be but as Strangers and Pil­grims in this world: Heb 11.13. Psal. 62.10. if riches increase, we must looke to it, that we set not our hearts upon them: and we must use the world, as if we used it not, because the fashion thereof passeth away. And if we doe not set our hearts and affections upon our riches, 1 sundry good fruits will follow thereupon. First, it bringeth comfort and contentment with our estate, as being that portion which God allotteth unto us, & maketh us not to repine against his providence, because we have not a larger allowance; for he that doth not too much affect their presence, will not too much bewaile their absence, neither be discontent because he hath not abundance of that which hee doth not [Page]much regard; but as the Apostle saith, 1 Tim. 6.8. Having food and raiment, will therewith rest contented. Secondly, 2 having store of this worlds good, if wee doe not set our hearts upon them, then we will be content to leave them, whensoever God the supreme and soveraigne Owner calleth againe for them, and not excessively mourne for them when they leave us. And as we will not refuse and reject them when we have them, seeing they are the gifts of God, so when they betake them to their wings and flee away, we will looke after them with a quiet minde, as it was with Iob; who, because hee rejoyced not when his substance was great, Iob 31.25. & 1 21. and when his hand had gotten much, therefore he did not much grieve when his wealth was taken away, but in his greatest losse praiseth the Lord. So also it was with Paul, who, because he used this world as not abusing it, and esteemed the best things thereof no better then dung in comparison of Christ and his benefits, 1 Cor. 7.31. Phil. 3.7, 8. & 4.11, 12, 13. it was no great paine to him to take forth a farther lesson, in what state soever he was, therewithall to be content: he could be abased and abound, every where in all things he was instructed, both to be full, and to be hungry, to abound, and to have want: yea, hee could say, I can doe all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Thirdly, 3 if worldly riches be wanting, we will not seeke them by evil meanes, nor glory in them when we have them to make us high minded, or to put our trust and confidence in them. Lastly, 4 it will make us keepe a vigilant eye over them, that through our a­buse they doc not degenerate from their owne nature, and be­come Satans baits to allure us, nor his snares to intangle us, nor his thornes to choke us, that the seed of the Word cannot prosper, neither the graces of God grow in us. Hence it is that I goe about to perswade to lay hold on Gods speciall provi­dence watching over his children, to succour and relieve them out of hopelesse and remedilesse troubles, when they ap­peare destitute of all succour, and in a manner in a desperate estate, without all meanes left unto them. When the Sonnes of Iacob stood gazing one upon another, that is, Gen. 42.1. they fared [Page]as men amazed, and at their wits end, that they know not what to doe for themselves, their wives, and their children; then the Lord by his good hand opened a way for their re­liefe, that there was plenty of Corne in Egypt, when there was none in the Land of Canaan, verifying his gracious promise, Gen. 8.22. So when the poore widdow in time of a great fa­mine was brought to that extremity, 1. King. 17.12, 13. that shee had but an handfull of meale in a barrell, and a little oyle in a cruse, and was now going purposely to gather a few stickes to dresse it for her selfe and her sonne, that they might eate and die; when she was in this great perplexity, necessity, and extre­mity, the Lord (that never leaveth his) by his good provi­dence directed the Prophet Elijah (who immediately before had himselfe beene fed by Ravens that brought him bread and flesh in the morning, verse 6. and bread and flesh in the evening) to tell her good newes, that the barrell of meale should not waste, verse 14. neither the cruse of oyle faile, until the Day that the Lord sendeth raine upon the earth. Thus it was with the widdow of one of the sonnes of the Prophets, she was left so farre in debt, that her children were to be sold to satis­fie the griping and greedinesse of the mercilesse Creditor: and she had nothing to discharge it, 2 Kings 4.2. but a little pitcher of oyle: yet she was provided for by wonderfull meanes: all which examples, as a cloud of witnesses, doe verifie the say­ing of the Psalmist, Psa. 33.18, 19. and 37.25. Behold, the eye of the Lord is upon them that feare him, upon them that hope in his mercy, to deliver their soule from death, and to keepe them alive in famine: and Psal. 37. I have beene young, and now am old, yet have I not seene the righteous forsa­ken, nor his seed begging bread.

But if there were no other reasons or considerations, then such as are handled in this Scripture, to be as a preservative or counterpoison against diffidence and distrust, touching earthly things, which doe more disquiet & disturbe, not one­ly the naturall man, but even the Regenerate themselves of­tentimes, then any thing in the world besides, herein we may [Page]finde matter sufficient to take from us the carnall feare of future wants: first, because we are his Flocke, 1 and he is our Shepheard. Will the good Shepheard starve his Sheepe, and not make them lye downe in greene pastures? This confidence in God doth the Prophet shew, and concludeth from this ground the point in hand, The Lord is my Shepheard, Psal. 23.1. therefore I shall not want: how then can they assure them­selves to be in the number of the Sheep of Christ, that doe not rely upon the care of this great Shepheard? As then the Prophet saith in another case, Esay 40.11. Ezek. 34.2. Should not the Shepheards feed the Flocke? So we may be assured, that the Shep­heard of Israel, that leadeth Ioseph like a Flocke, will ne­ver be wanting to his sheepe, that call and cry unto him. 2 Se­condly, because the Title given to God, assureth us hereof, he is called a Father. Psal. 80.1, 2. Will the father give over the care of his children, and forsake or forget the fruite of his owne body? nay, doth not the Prophet say, Esay 49.15. Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the sonne of her wombe? yea, they may forget: yet will I not forget thee, whom I have graven upon the palmes of my hands. And Christ our Saviour speaketh to the same purpose, What man is there of you, Matth. 7.9.10.11. whom if his sonne aske bread, will he give him a stone? or if he aske a fish, will he give him a Serpent? If ye then being evill, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that aske him? Lastly, 3 because we have the promise of a Kingdome, and of the glory of heaven which is unspeakeable, incomprehensible, and everlasting. He that hath promised us a Kingdome, will he with-hold from us food and raiment? nay, Rom. 8.32. as the Apostle teacheth us to reason, He that spared not his owne Sonne, but deli­vered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? So should we cōclude, that seeing he hath called us to an inheritance incorruptible, and unde­filed, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven, 1 Pet. [Page]1.4. He will never leave us nor forsake us in this life, but if we first seeke the Kingdome of God, Matth 33. all other things shall be added unto us. He that promiseth and provideth the greater, can he faile us and not performe the lesse? He that maketh us Kings unto his Father, and hath promised a Crowne, August. de verb. Domini Qui da­bit regnum, non dabit viaticum? will he deny us a bit of bread, and a cup of drinke?

These points are more particularly discussed and opened in the ensuing Treatise, which I have presumed to dedicate to your Lady-ship, and not without good and waighty rea­sons. You heard the publike preaching of them with speciall attention, (though many yeeres since,) and therefore I must needs acknowledge you among my best hearers and friends, and withall consecrate vnto you some part of my labours, which I have bestowed in writing. Besides, considering your earnest desire, to know that God, whose goodnesse you have alwaies tried, your zeale to glorifie him, on whom you have alwaies called, your care to walke in his waies, whom you have alwaies served, and the fruits of a lively faith, that have plentifully flowed from you, whereof there are so many eye-witnesses among us, the hearts of many distressed Mi­nisters, and the loynes of many poore people being ready to blesse you, and God for you: I cannot but beseech your La­dy-ship, to accept of this small testimony of my unfained ob­servance of your many praises in the Gospell, and as a pledge of my thankefulnesse, which I leave behind me to the world, being now ready to goe out of it. The God of eternall glory, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, make you abound yet more and more in all the riches of his saving graces in this life, and fill you with the inward comforts of the blessed hope of the appearance of Jesus Christ.

Your Lady-ships in all Christian duties to command, WILLIAM ATTERSOLL.

PHISICKE AGAINST FAMINE.

LVKE 12.32.‘Feare not, little Flocke: for it is your Fa­thers good pleasure to give unto you the Kingdome.’

THe occasion of these words is to bee taken from the 15. The occasion of the words. verse of this Chapter, wherein our Savi­our exhorteth to take heed & be­ware of covetousnesse, for as much as no mans life standeth in the a­bundance of those things he pos­sesseth. True it is, this lesson is short, and set downe in few words: howbeit it is not so soone learned, and easily pra­ctised, as it is spoken and delivered. Wherefore, he pro­poundeth [Page 2]a parable, and telleth what hapned to a cer­taine rich man, who, in the plentifull encrease of his goods and fruits of his ground, blessed himselfe the pos­sessor, but not the Lord the giver of all: for he said to his soule, Luke 12.19, 20. Soule, thou hast much goods laid up for many yeeres, take thine ease, eate, drinke, and be merry. But what said the Oracle of God unto him? Thou foole, this night thy soule shall bee required of thee; then whose shall these things be, which thou hast provided? This example hee applieth to all, Verse 21 so is he a starke foole that layeth up trea­sure for himselfe, but is not rich toward God. Then he goeth forward to lay before us the care that God hath over his Children, both toward their lives and their bodies, Verse 24 who feedeth the Ravens that cry unto him, and clotheth the Lillies of the Field that cannot cry unto him; Verse 27 so that Salomon in all his royalty was not arayed like one of them. But what is all this, if we make not use thereof? if we doe not apply it unto our selves? doubtlesse, it is no better then the covetous mans hid­den treasure, which he heapeth and hoardeth together, but doth neither to himselfe nor to other any good. Wee have therefore the direction of Christ himselfe, who draweth and deducteth sundry conclusions from hence. Verse 31 One use is taught in the verse 31. First of all seeke the Kingdome of God, and then all these things shall be ad­ded unto you. Another use is in these words of the text, feare not, for you have a Kingdome prepared and provi­ded for you.

Thus we are come to the words that are to be hand­led, The interpre­tation of the vvords. being the use that the best Teacher and Master ma­keth of his doctrine he had delivered: Now let us see the meaning and interpretation thereof.

Feare not.) This is to be restrained according to the circumstances aforegoing, the generall being put for the speciall. We are sometimes commanded to feare, [Page 3] Psal. 34.9. O feare the Lord, yee his Saints: and Rom. Psal. 34.9. Rom. 11.20. Matth. 10.26, 28. 1 Pet. 3.20. Psal. 2.11. Luke 1.74. 11 Be not high-minded, but feare. And againe sometimes, not to feare, Matth. 10.26, 28. 1 Pet. 3.20. Sometimes wee are charged to serve the Lord in feare, and to re­joyce in trembling, Psal. 2. Likewise sometimes to serve him without feare, Luke 1.74. These phrases may seeme the one contrary to the other. But they are easily recon­ciled, if the words going before, and following after be diligently marked. In this place hee meaneth the feare of want of earthly things, as if there were none in Heaven above to provide, nor promise made in the Word to strengthen, nor example of the godly to direct, or as if every one were left to shift and scamble for himselfe. So then hee meaneth a corrupt and carnall feare, whereby a man feareth lest he lacke such things as are needfull for the maintenance of this life, and thereby is so distracted in the service of God, that he employeth all his time in the businesse and affaires of this present world.

Flocke) That is, my people, whom I have underta­ken to maintaine, nourish, keepe, preserve, and feed, as a good Shepheard doth his Flocke: for these are as it were the sheepe of his pasture.

Little) Gods heritage is called little in three re­spects: first, in regard they are few in number, because the multitude of the wicked world is the gnats, and re­plenisheth all palces of the earth. Secondly, in regard of the small account and estimation wherein they are; there is little reckoning made of them: Matth. 10.42. 1 Cor. 4.13. for in the judge­ment of the ungodly, they are as the filth of the world, and the off-scowring of all things unto this day. Hence it is, that Christ saith, Matth. 18.14. Matth. 18.14. It is the will of your heavenly Father, that none of these little ones should perish. Thirdly, they are little in their owne eyes, and thinke more lowly of themselves, then any other, or [Page 4]then of any other, 2 Sam. 6.22. 1 Chron. 29.14.

Fathers.) That is, God, the Father of his Church, whom he tendreth as the apple of his eye, and loveth as a Father doth his Children, and therefore cannot see nor suffer them to want any thing that is good.

Kingdome.) That is, the Kingdome of Heaven, the Kingdome of glory, for Christs Kingdome is not of this world, Iohn 18.36. Touching the good pleasure of God see more afterward.

In these words observe two points: The division of the vvords. first, the coun­sell or commandement of Christ which is delivered. Secondly, a reason whereby it is enforced. In the coun­sell consider these particulars.

First, an earnest dehortation or disswasion, feare not. Secondly, a loving appellation by way of an Apo­strophe, or a turning of his speech, belonging to those hearers that are called from feare, the Flocke of God.

Thirdly, a strict limitation, or word of restraint, it is a little Flocke, that God taketh charge and care of. The Shepheard regardeth not the Goates and wild beasts of the field and forrest: it is enough for the Shepheard, that he feed his Sheepe and his Lambes.

The second point is a reason, and that reason is a pro­mise, and that promise is of a Kingdome. For so graci­ous is our good God unto us, that he annexeth his pro­mise to our obedience, to give us encouragement in do­ing our duty. And herein observe divers branches; for the promise containeth the Author, the application, the ground-worke, the manner, the object, and the subject.

First, the Author of the promise, who also is as able to performe it. Many men doe make large and faire promises, but are not able oftentimes to make them good. This promiser is God, described unto us by a word of relation, he is in nature a Father.

Secondly, the speciall application thereof to our [Page 5]selves, he is our Father, so that as he is able, so like­wise he is willing to performe his promise, because he loveth us. For what Father will forsake his children?

Thirdly, the ground and originall of it, his owne good pleasure, and not any thing in our selves as of our selves to move him to favour us.

Fourthly, the manner of it, he giveth it, he doth not sell it, or exchange and barter with us, to receive the like againe, or the worth of his promise in some other commodity at our hands; it is his free gift, it is not for any merits done, or workes and worthinesse foreseene: so that we cannot say to God, as Abraham did to the Hittites, Give it me for so much mony as it is worth, Gen. Gen. 23.9. 23.9. and if any be so foolish, Acts 8.20. we may answer them as Peter doth to Simon Magus, Act. 8. Thy mony perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with mony.

Fiftly, the object of the promise, to wit, the persons to whom it is given, to You: but to what You? not to the wise and prudent of this world, but to babes and simple ones: not neither to all in generall, for hee hath made no such large promise to all the sonnes of men, but to You, called before, the little Flocke.

Lastly, the subject or matter of the promise, the Kingdome of Heaven, without which, all other promi­ses are of no value. This is promised and bestowed up­on a few onely. And thus much touching the occasion; the interpretation, and the division of the words. Now let us come to the particular handling of them in order as they have beene unfolded unto us.

Feare not) The first point that commeth to be consi­dered, is the dehortation, wherein our Saviour shew­eth what wee may not doe. This is the ground of all diffidence and distrust, a causelesse and needlesse feare. This is the root of all doubting and distraction, and [Page 6]therefore he laboureth first of all to pull it up by the root, and to cut it off with the sword of Gods provi­dence. Doct. 1 This teacheth that Gods servants have no cause to feare the want of Gods hand or helpe in tem­porall things. We need not be afraid to be forsaken or forgotten of God, as if hee neglected us, or had cast us off in time of distresse. True it is, when we looke up­on our present estate with fleshly eyes, and can see no end, nor issue out of our troubles, like a Sea that hath neither banke nor bottome, we are oftentimes assaulted with doubting, and sometimes with despaire: but when we cast up our eyes to Heaven, and behold the providence, the purpose, the promise, the protection, and preservation of God, we have a staffe of comfort put into our hands to stay us up, that we fall not to the ground. The Israelites being brought out of Egypt, lifted up their eyes, and beheld the Egyptians march­ing after them. Then they were sore afraid, and began to murmure against Moses, not without a bitter taunt likewise, Exod. 14.10.11. Exod. 14.10. Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to dye in the wildernesse? Wherefore hast thou delt thus with us to carry us forth out of Egypt? then Moses said unto them, Feare ye not, stand still and see the salvation which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seene to day, yee shall see them againe no more for ever: the Lord shall fight for you, and you shall hold your peace. Thus the Prophet speaketh, Psal. 34.9, 10. Psal. 34. They that feare the Lord, shall need to feare no lacke: the Lyons lacke and suffer hunger, but they that seeke the Lord, shall want nothing that is good. Where no feare of God is, no marvaile if there be feare of all things else: but where the feare of his name is, there is a counterpoyson to expell all o­ther feare. Hereunto accordeth the saying of Christ, I say unto you, Matth. 6.25. be not carefull for your life what yee shall eat, [Page 7]or what yee shall drinke, nor for your body what yee shall put on: is not the life more worth then meat, and the body then raiment? It is the manner of the most sort, when they begin to feele any want, especially in times of fa­mine, to cry out, Oh, we are undone! what shall wee doe? how shall we live? wherewithall shall we main­taine our families and housholds? As if there were no God in Israel that looked upon us, or cared for us, or knew our wants. But who is it that gave thee thy life? or from whence receivedst thou thy body? have wee not our breath and being from God? doubtlesse hee will therefore maintaine our lives, and cloath our bo­dies, so that we may say with the Apostle, Phil 4.6. Bee care­full for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and suppli­cation with thankesgiving, let your request bee made knowne unto God.

This truth receiveth farther strength from the titles given to God. Is not he the Husband, the Shepheard, Reas. 1 and Father of the Church? It is the duty of the Hus­band to provide all necessaries for his Wife, Ephes. 5 31. For no man hateth his owne flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, Ephes. 5.31. Will a good Shepheard take charge of a flocke, and then starve it? God hath taken charge of all that are his: when we are once become his Sheepe, in that very moment, we live under his protection, as Psal. 23.1, 2. The Lord is my Shepheard, Psal 23.1. & 80.1. and he maketh me lye downe in greene pastures, he leadeth mee beside the still waters, and Psal. 80.1. Give eare, O thou Shepheard of Israel, thou that leadest Ioseph like a Flocke. Will not naturall Fathers and Mothers sustaine their Children, and supply all their wants? can Parents see them perish, or miscarry, and never bee moved at it? Our Saviour telleth us, What man is there, if his sonne aske him bread, Matth. 7 9, 10, 11. will he give him a stone? or if he aske a fish, will hee give him a serpent? If ye then being evill, know how to give [Page 8]good gifts unto your Children, how much more shall your Father which is in Heaven, give good things to them that aske him? And the Lord by the mouth of the Prophet, Esay 49.15, 16. Can a woman forget her sucking Childe, that she should not have compassion on the sonne of her wombe! yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee, Esay 49.15. The love of God therefore toward his, is greater then the love of men is, or can be to their Children: he that toucheth them, toucheth the apple of his eye, and shall not escape his hand, his revenging hand.

Secondly, 2 God will worke above and beyond all or­dinary meanes, rather then such as are his shall perish, and after the course of nature to doe them good, and to preserve them from evill, who hath all creatures in his owne hand. A memorable example hereof we have in the Israelites, while they were in the wildernesse, hee fed them with Manna for the space of 40. Exod 16.15. Numb. 20.8. yeeres, and opened the hard Rocke to give them water, whereof they and their Cattell dranke, Exod. 16. Numb. 20. Consider this further in the example of Eliah, 1 King. 19. when he was constrained to flye for his life from the persecution of Jezabel, and desired to dye, the An­gell of the Lord came unto him and said, 1 King 19. [...]. & 17.6. Arise, and eat: and he went in the strength of that meat 40. dayes and 40. hights unto Horeb the mountaine of God. The like we read before, that is, The Word of the Lord came unto him, Hide thy selfe in the brooke Charith, and thou shalt drinke of the brooke, and I have commanded the Ravens to feed thee. So hee did according to the Word of the Lord, for he dwelt by the brooke, and the Ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening, and he dranke of the brooke. But be hold how the Lord tryed him! for hee had not tarryed there long, but the brooke dryed up, because no raine fell in the Land. What then did the Prophet [Page 9]of the Lord? did he murmure against God? No, hee waited with patience his leisure, and he sent him other meanes for his maintenance; he directed him to the widdow of Sarepta, where he was fed in that famine. She had indeed but an handfull of meale in a barrell, and a little oyle in a cruse, and he saith unto her, Verse 14 Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrell of meale shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oyle faile, untill the day that the Lord sendeth raine upon the earth. Thus he comman­deth to lay aside feare, and to submit her selfe to the will and pleasure of Almighty God. Thus also the Lord dealt with her, that had beene the wife of one of the children of the Prophets, after his decease, 2 King. 2 King. 4.1, 43, 44. Ioh. 6.5, 6, 10, 11. 4. he dying indebted, the mercilesse Creditor came to take unto him her two sonnes to be his bondmen: but the mercy of God was such in her extremity, that having in her house a pot of oyle onely, it was so increased and multiplied, that she received more then shee desired, through his abundant blessing that giveth more then is asked, so that she, not onely paied the debt, but her selfe and children lived of the residue.

Thirdly, God will sanctifie a little, 3 and that of the worst, and coursest sort, to serve and suffice those that are his: that albeit they have but short Commons and a poore Pittance, yet a little that the righteous hath, shall be better unto them, then all the store and abun­dance of the ungodly. This Moses teacheth, Deut. 8. Man liveth not by bread onely, but by every Word that pro­ceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live. Wee have a lively example hereof in Daniel and his fel­lowes that did eate nothing but pulse (a graine that beareth his fruit in poddes) yet were they fairer and fresher, fuller and fatter at the end of ten dayes, Dan. 1.15. then all the children which did eate the portion of the Kings meate, Dan. 1.15. This also we may see by experience in rich [Page 10]mens and poore mens children, and in themselves also as well as in their children. For whereas the poorer sort have scarce one good meales meat in a moneth, but keep a perpetuall Lent, not eating a bit of flesh in their owne houses once in a yeere, and feed hardly and homely with browne bread, and yet have not enough of that neither: Eccles. 5.12. yet is their labour pleasant, and their sleepe sweet: whereas the richer sort that fare deliciously every day, are many times oppressed with raw hu­mours, and are neither so strong and healthy as the other.

Fourthly, 4 nothing shall bee able to hurt Gods ser­vants. For as all things tend to the hurt of the wicked, and nothing shall doe them good: so contrariwise no­thing can hinder the salvation of the Church, Rom. 8.28. Rom. 8. But all things shall fall out for the best to them that love him. For what shall separate us from the love of God? shall tribulation, or distresse, or persecution, or famine, or nakednesse, or perils? no doubtlesse: forasmuch as we are more then conquerours through him that loved us. Psal. 90.5, 6, 7. So likewise, Psal. 90. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terrour by night, nor for the arrow that flyeth by day, neither for the pestilence that walketh in darknesse, nor for the destruction that wasteth at noone day, a thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shal not come nigh thee: there shall no evill befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. Obiect. But it may bee objected, Doe not these befall the righteous, as well as the unrighteous? nay, doe not the godly often fall by them, while the ungodly escape out of them, or never enter into them? Answ. I answer, Divers wayes. First, albeit all these may befall, and doe befall the Faithfull, yet doe they not come upon them as evils. They may dye of the plague, but to them the plague is no plague. True it is, of themselves or in the nature of them they [Page 11]are evill, and the punishments of evill; but to Gods children they are onely chastisements and correction of a good and gentle Father, and that for their further good, to prevent sinnes to come. Contrariwise, to the wicked, they are the heavy strokes of a just Iudge, or of a revenging enemy. Secondly, God pulleth out the sting of them, that they cannot hurt them. True it is, 1 Cor. 15.55. all things fall out alike to the godly and ungodly, to him that sweareth, and to him that feareth an oath, so that no man knoweth love or hatred by these outward things, yet the venome and poyson is pulled out from these Scorpions, so that albeit they may hisse at us, yet they shall never hurt us. Gen. 2.17. Rom. 6.23. Death is of it selfe the wages of sinne, Gen. 2. Rom. 6. It came into the world by sinne, and is the last enemy that shall bee subdued: howbeit it hath already received his deaths-wound, and the na­ture of it is quite changed to the godly. Indeed death remaineth as a cup that all must taste off: but behold the difference, to the ungodly it is the reward of sinne, the suburbs of hell, the separation of the soule from God, and the guide that conducteth them into ever­lasting torments. To the godly it is no punishment of sinne, but the abolishing of sinne, the path and passage to a better life, the haven of our rest, the end of all our labours, and the way by which we must come into the presence of Christ. He is become the death of death, so that they are bold in him to looke death in the face, because they looke beyond death. For he that will not feare it, must cast his eye further then it; as they feared not the fiery Serpents, that lifted up their eyes to the brazen Serpent. Thirdly, if any meanes to uphold their life be wanting, the Lord doth strengthen & arme those that are his, with patience, contentednesse, and inward comfort and consolation, that he maketh them able to beare them; he layeth heavy burdens upon them, yet he [Page 12]supporteth thē with his hand, that they sinke not under the waight thereof. Albeit famine doe pinch and presse hard upon their bodies, hee feedeth their soules with the precious food of his Word to eternall life, and they are ready to answer with their Lord and Master, Ioh. 4.32. I have meant to eate, Iohn 4 32. that yee know not of. Albeit they be vexed with warre, yet he giveth them peace of con­science that passeth all understanding, even peace with himselfe, which the world cannot take away from them. Albeit they fall into times of perils and dangers, yet are they made to dwell in the secret place of the most high, Psal. 91.1. and to abide under the shadow of the Almighty, Psal. 91.1. The name of the Lord is a most strong tower and place of refuge, the righteous flie unto it, and are pre­served. Albeit they be sometimes enforced to endure nakednesse, yet even then hee clotheth them with the precious robes of Christs righteousnesse, Psal. 45.8. all whose graces smell of Myrrhe, Aloes, and Cassia, whereby they are more adorned, then with all the silver and gold in the world. Lastly, if he take away this temporall life, he recompenseth the losse thereof with eternall life and happinesse.

We learne from hence first of all, Vse 1 what need we have all of us of faith, to lay hold on the promises of God made in Christ Iesus to such as are in him, and have him dwelling in them. For what is there can drive us out of this feare, 1 Tim. 4.8. & 6.6. but faith? Indeed godlinesse is profitable to all things, and hath the promises of this life, as well as of the life to come. Of this life, with condition, so far as it shall be good for us: of the life to come, without any condition. This godlinesse is great gaine, nay, the greatest of all other. But what of all this, if wee have not the hand of faith to receive them? Offer meat ne­ver so much to the hungry soule, yet if the hand be clo­sed, and the mouth stopped, hee can receive nothing. [Page 13]Powre water upon a Vessell all the day long, it remai­neth empty, if the entrance thereof bee shut up: so let us heare of the promises of God to sustaine us in times of famine, want, losse, and nec [...]ssity; yet it is all one as if you spake to a dead man, except wee have faith to quicken us, and to put life into the soule. For as the A­postle concludeth from the suffring of the Saints, Hebr. 10.34. who endured with ioy the spoyling of their goods, knowing they had a better inheritance reserved for them in the Hea­vens, that we have all need of patience, that after we have done the will of God, wee may receive the promise, Hebr. 10. So from this consideration that wee are rea­dy every foot to faint, and to feare want and beggery (or else this dehortation were vaine and needlesse) we are to gather, that we may not cast away our confidence in God, which hath great recompence of reward. The just shall live by faith, Hebr. 11.1. which is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seene. Take heed therefore, and beware of infidelity. For as covetous­nesse is the root of all evill, 1 Tim. 6. 1 Tim. 6.10. so is infidelity the root of covetousnesse. What is the cause that we feare the lacking of earthly things, which the greatest sort doe more feare then the lacke or losse or lessening of the feeding of the love and favour of God? Doubtlesse this is nothing but the want of faith. Let them lose but a trifle, or the least pinne and profit that commeth to the purse, what crying and complaining have wee? how much adoe have wee to perswade them to bee conten­ted? to bee resolved to submit themselves to the plea­sure of Almighty God? and to beleeve that hee is able to give them more then that? All the armor and furni­ture that wee can bring out of the Store-house of the Scripture, is too little to settle their unbeleeving hearts upon the promises of God. But these men can bee con­tent without any scruple or touch of conscience to ab­sent [Page 14]themselves from the house of God, to lose many Sermons, and much wholesome doctrine which is ac­cording to godlinesse, many exhortations, many instru­ctions, many comforts: nay, they may apparently feele their decaying and declining in knowledge, in faith, and in obedience, yet it troubleth them no more then it did that prophane Esau, Gen. 25.34. who when hee had sold his birth-right, contemned and despised it. The true cause of our carnall and corrupt feare is this want of a true lively faith, when we dare not believe him that hath promised, who yet is able to performe, and is not as man that he should lie, or as the sonne of man that hee should deceive. Hence proceedeth feare of the losse of life and living, that we are afraid to commit our state and standing to the safe garding of God, as manifestly appeareth by the contrary, Psal. 27.1, 2. Psal. 27. The Lord is my light and salvation, whom shall I feare? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? Though an host shall encampe against me, my heart shall not feare: though warre should rise against mee, in this will I bee confident. What made the Prophet bold to overstride all dangers, that he could not be dismaied by them, but because his heart was fixed in God to depend upon him, and to looke for salvation from him? On the other side, what doth dis­comfort and dis-harten many men, what maketh them to doubt, to murmure, and many times to blaspheme, but because they imagine the Lords hand is shortned, Numb. 11.23. and is not able to supply their wants? It is an easie matter, when we have store and abundance, when the Lord blesseth us on every side, and our substance is encreased, when he washeth our steps with butter, Iob 29.6. and the rocke pow­reth out rivers of oyle upon us, to flatter our selves that we have a strong faith, and a full perswasion and assurance of his love, that we put our whole trust and affiance in him, and will never be brought to rapine against him. [Page 15]But be not deceived, these are not the dayes of triall of our faith, these are not the times of the patience of the Saints. Before triall, Peter was most confident; but in the brunt of the battel he was a coward, and gave over in the plaine field. So doe we triumph before the victo­ry: but when wee see persecution, famine, perill, and sword, we give over fighting, and feare possesseth our hearts. When Elisha the man of God was sent with a comfortable message at the siege of Samaria, that two measures of barly should bee sold for a shekell, and a measure of fine flowre for a shekell to morrow about that time, one of the Princes beleeved not the Word of the Lord, Behold, 2 King. 7.1, 2. if the Lord would make windowes in Heaven, would this thing be? the Prophet answered, Because thou saist so, thou shalt see it with thine eyes, but shalt not eate thereof: and according to his Word so it came to passe. The Disciples being in danger to be drowned, when a storme arose, they came to Christ their Master for helpe, and he saith, Why are ye fearefull, Ma [...]th. 8.26. O yee of little faith? He accuseth them not to be faith­lesse men, or to have no faith at all: for beleeving and doubting, faith and feare may stand together in one subject, as they met together in these, but he layeth to their charge to have little faith. The like wee read touching Peter, when he saw the windes blow, and the waves arise, he was sore afraid, and beginning to sinke, he cryed out, O Master, save me! Matth. 14.30, 31, & 6.30. Then Christ stretched out his hand, caught him, and said, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And in a like case wherein we deale, he saith, If God so clothe the grasse of the field, which to day flourisheth, and to morrow is cast into the Oven, will he not much more cloathe you, O yee of little faith? Thus doth Christ evermore upbraid such as are feare­full, doubtfull, and distrustfull, with want or with weak­nesse of faith to rest upon him. For as the Apostle spea­keth [Page 16]of perfect love: 1 Ioh. 4.18. so may I say of perfect faith, that it casteth out feare. Where such feare is, there is little faith. These testimonies teach us, where to seeke and finde the true cause of all our wavering and doubting: it springeth from an evill heart and unfaithfull, Hebr. 3.12. 1 Ioh. 5.4, 5. to depart away from the living God, this is the ground of all. Therefore this shifting for our selves, and pensivenesse for worldly things, is a strong argument of a weake faith: for whatsoever is borne of God, overcommeth the world, and this is the victory that overcommeth the world, even our faith: and who is he that overcommeth the world, but hee that beleeveth that Jesus is the Sonne of God? 1 Iohn 5.4, 5.

Secondly, 2 it is our duty to rely upon Gods provi­dence for earthly things, as Children doe upon their Fathers love and care for them, in like manner as Abra­ham speaketh to his Sonne. When Isaac said, My Fa­ther, where is the sacrifice? he answered with words of faith, Gen. 22.8. My Sonne, God will provide. Doe wee not see how little Children, albeit they have nothing, and know not to day what they shall have to morrow, never dis­quiet themselves what they shall eate, or what they shall drinke, or wherewith they shall be clothed? And the reason is, because they know, their Parents provide for them, and will not see them want. Shall wee rely lesse upon our heavenly Father, then these doe upon their earthly? or shall we thinke that God hath lesse care of his Children, then the sonnes of men have of theirs? Nay, as great as the difference is betweene that which is infinite, and that which is finite; so much greater is his love then the love of men, Psal. 103.11, [...]3. and consequent­ly so much greater ought our dependance to bee upon him. His love is infinite as himselfe is: for the love of God is God, and every way as great as himselfe, nay, it is himselfe: it is no quality in him, as it is in us. To [Page 17]worke this resting upon God as upon a rocke, we have sundry exhortations in holy Scripture, all of them tend­ing to the same purpose, Commit thy way to the Lord, Psal. 37.5. 1 Cor. 10.13. and trust in him, and he shall bring it to passe, to wit, when we can see no end or issue out of our dangers, yet hee can: we see but before our eyes, he seeth the most hid­den things of the world. And againe, Psal. 35.22. Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustaine thee. Let us not there­fore content our selves to depend upon him in light and slight troubles, but even then, when we have the grea­test tentations and afflictions upon us: and let us not cry out in anguish of spirit, O what an heavy burden doe I beare! no man is so troubled as I am. No man knoweth what sorrow I sustaine, what misery I feele! But be it never so tedious and toilsome, as waighty and wearisome as a mountaine to carry, cast thy care and crosse upon the Lords shoulders, he is able to beare it, albeit we be not, and he hath promised to helpe us to beare it, who never faileth of his promise in time of need. Thus Salomon speaketh, Prov. 16.3. Prov. 16.3. Commit thy waies unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established. And 1 Pet. 5.7. Cast all your care on him, 1 Pet. 5.7. for he careth for you. If a Prince should utter any such gracious words of comfort to any of his poore people, and give such a precept accompanied with such a promise, O how would they accept of it, and rejoyce in it, as we see an example in Barzillai, 2 Sam. 19. David promising to shew kindnesse to his Sonne, I will doe to him whatsoever thou shalt require of me, 2 Sam. 19.38. and whatsoever shall seeme good to thee: how did his heart rest in the Kings word? and how willing was he to trust the King with him? God hath made a faithfull promise to us to care for us, and shall not we cast all our care upon him? or shall wee thinke he will, or can falsifie his Word? True it is, the chiefe promise that we lay hold upon, is touching the [Page 18]remission of sinnes and eternall life: but when by a true faith we lay hold upon the principall promise of God, and beleeve it, touching salvation in Christ, we appre­hend by vertue thereof the promise of God for tempo­rall blessings also, as food, raiment, health, peace, liber­ty (all which depend upon the former maine promise of Christ) so farre forth as God seeth them behoovefull for us. This wee see in Abraham, who, beleeving in God and having his faith imputed unto him for righte-ousnesse, doubted not of the particular promise that God would give him a Sonne, Gen. 15.6. Heb. 11.12. and that his seed should be as the Starres in Heaven for multitude, and as the sand upon the Sea-shore that cannot be numbred. The heart that hath truely learned to say by faith, God will pardon my sinnes and save my soule; will easily also say by force of the same faith, God will give mee food and raiment, provide things necessary for my body, and sufficient for this present life. If we have not learned to beleeve in God touching his mercy in feeding and in clothing of us, which are matters of farre lesser moment and im­portance, we have not yet learned to depend upon him for the remission of our sinnes, and the imputation of Christs righteousnesse, which are of infinite more price and value then the other. If we will not trust him for our bodies, how should wee trust and rest in him for our soules? And if we commit not to him the things of this life, how can we credit him with heavenly things? Wee must all therefore learne to say with the Apostle, I know whom I have beleeved, 2 Tim. 1.12. and I am perswaded that he is able to keepe that which I have committed unto him a­gainst that day.

Lastly, 3 seeing we ought not to feare at all touching earthly things, we may be well assured hee will give us all things needfull for our soules, which are of an high­er nature, and of a greater price. If hee that sitteth in [Page 19]the Heavens, vouchsafe to looke downe so low, and to abase himselfe to order every creature serving for the safety of our bodies, doubtlesse hee will not passe over the provision for our soules: he, I say, who hath for­bidden to tithe mint, and rue, and all manner of herbes, Matth. 23.23. and then passe over iudgement, and the waightier matters of the law. If he will not deny us the lesser, certainely he will bestow upon us the greater blessings, without which it cannot goe well with us. For as hee knoweth what we have need of, so he knoweth, wee may better bee without earthly then spirituall blessings. What folly were it for a man to be carefull for the garment, and carelesse of the body it selfe? to respect the shoo, and to neglect the foot? Wee must therefore all of us, from this fatherly care of God for our bodies which are transitory and must turne to dust, learne to ascend higher, to see his care toward our soules, which beare the lively prints of his image, and come neerer to his nature. Earthly blessings indeed are speciall pledges of his loue, whereby he taketh us by the hand, and lea­deth us farther to behold his eternall favour in his owne Sonne: but if we doe not make this use of them, his blessings cease to bee blessings to us, whatsoever they are in their owne nature.

Flocke.) In this word we have the second point in the Counsell, which is the appellation or title of the people of God, being called the Sheepe of God. Pro­perly a Flocke is a company of Sheepe gathered toge­ther into one pasture. A Flocke presupposeth a Shep­heard, a Sheepfold, and the Sheepe themselves. The Shepheard is God: the Sheepfold is the Church: the Sheepe are the faithfull. Christ Iesus is the dore of the Sheepe, by him if any man enter, he shall bee saved, Ioh. 10.7, 9. Ephes. 3.12. and shall goe in and out, and finde pasture, Ioh. 10.7, 9. The wrath of God against sinne hath clozed up against us [Page 20]all entrance into Heaven, and hath shut us up under sinne and damnation. The death of Christ hath opened the dore, and not onely satisfied the wrath of God, but merited for us mercy and forgivenesse, grace and fa­vour for ever. This is the preeminence of the passion of Christ. Now they enter by him that beleeve in him. The Sheepe of Christ are of two sorts: one outward in the account of the visible Church consisting both of good and bad: the other inward, consisting onely of the Elect, being members of the invisible or Catholike Church. Doct. 2 Hence wee learne, that all the Elect are the Sheepe of Christ, and his Flocke, beloved of him, deare to him, as his portion and possession, and in the account of him, his chiefe jewels, and principall substance, Cant. 1.7. Joh. 10.14. Heb. 13.20. many other testimonies doe follow after. The reasons are plaine.

First, Reas. 1 Christ Iesus paid a deare price, and gave his life for them, for it cost him much to redeeme the same, Act. 20.28. as Act. 20. He purchased the Flocke with his preci­ous blood: precious indeed, because it was the blood of him that is God, as well as man, and therefore of in­finite value and estimation, sufficient for the whole world.

Secondly, 2 because they resemble Sheepe, and that in many particulars: First, Sheepe are by nature straying and wandring out of the way, and ready to bee made a prey to the Wolfe: so it is with men, yea even the Elect and such as are called, in which respect the Apostle Peter saith, 1 Pet. 2.25. Ye are as Sheepe going astray through igno­rance of the doctrine of salvation, and prone to be sur­prised by the Devill that great wolfe, but are now retur­ned to the Shepheard and Bishop of your soules. Act. 20.28, 29. Secondly, Sheepe oftentimes wander out of the right way, so that there seemeth small hope of their safety, and in the judgement of man, they are estemed to bee as good as [Page 21]utterly lost without any redresse, or recovery: so it is among such as are the Sheepe of Christ, some doe so farre swarve, and are so intangled in the snare of the enemy, as a Sheepe in the brambles, that their estate seemeth desparate and forlorne: Hereunto commeth the parable, Matth. 18. How thinke yee? Matth. 18.22. Luke 15.4. If a man have an hundred Sheepe, and one of them be gone astray, doth hee not leave the ninety and nine which went not astray, and goe after that which is lost, till he finde it? Such a Sheepe was Manasseh, that filled Ierusalem with innocent blood, 2 King. 21.16. 2 Chron. 33.6. and did much evill in the sight of the Lord to provoke him to anger: yet he found mercy upon his prayer and humiliation. Such a Sheepe was Paul, who had beene an oppressor and blasphemer, 1 Tim. 1.13. yet he was called and conver­ted to the faith, and of a persecuter became a Preacher, because he did it ignorantly, through unbeleefe. Such were the hearers of Peter, Act. 3. who denied the holy One and just, and desired a murtherer to be granted un­to them, They killed the Prince of life, Act. 3.14, 19. when Pilate was determined to let him goe; yet when they repented, their sinnes (albeit most hainous) were blotted out, when the times of refreshing came from the presence of the Lord. Such Sheepe were the Gentiles, Ioh. 10.10. Other Sheepe I have which are not of this fold, Iohn. 10.10. them also I must bring. He runneth farre that never returneth: so doth the sinner that never repenteth, Such God cal­leth at all houres, Matth. 20. That where sinne aboun­deth, grace may abound much more, Rom. 5.20. Third­ly, Sheepe doe heare and know the voice of their owne Shepheard, but the voyce of a stranger they will nei­ther know nor heare, after they be once thorowly ac­quainted with the voice of their owne Shepheard: so men Elect in the Church, when they have had the voice of their Shepheard sounding in their eares rightly cir­cumcised, they know it and discerne it, Ioh. 10.27, 28. and they follow [Page 22]him, who before their regeneration were as wild beasts and savage creatures. For no man is borne a Sheepe of Christ, but a Goat of the Devill. When he is become a Sheepe, he is by regeneration formed or reformed to be so: forasmuch as by nature we are no better then others, but the children of wrath as well as others, Ephes. 2.3. Tit. 3.3. we are rather of our selves wolves, living in malice and envy, hatefull and hating one another, Tit. 3.3. Lastly, the resemblance stādeth in meeknesse, gentlenesse, simplicity, innocency, harmelesnesse, being profitable to many, hurtfull to none, subject to the injuries of other creatures to be rent and torne in pieces of them, but of all other most pati­ent in bearing: so the faithfull in the Church, are a peo­ple innocent, 2 Sam. 14.17. and harmelesse, 2 Sam. 24. These Sheepe what have they done? they profit such as hurt them, they doe good to those that doe them evill, they for­give their enemies, they pray for their persecuters, they lie open to open wrongs, and yet possesse their soules with patience when they are wronged. Hence it is, that Christ himselfe is said to bee led as a Sheepe to the slaughter, Act. 8.32. Esay 53.8. and like a Lambe dumbe before his shearer, not to open his mouth. Neverthelesse, the Sheepe of Christ must be in such sort simple as Doves, that they be also wise and prudent as serpents, in taking heed of the wiles of their enemies, who can abide neither Shep­heard, nor Sheepe, nor Sheepfold.

Acknowledge from hence to our great and endlesse comfort, Vse 1 that Christ Iesus, the great Shepheard, will judge all the adversaries of his people. It goeth farre better with them then it doth with all other Flockes of Sheepe that are unreasonable creatures. True it is, the care of such as have the oversight of such Flockes, hath beene great day and night, Gen. 31.40. Luke 2.8. Gen. 31. Luk. 2. But what is this to the love of Christ the Arch-pastor of his Sheepe, who guideth them to eternall life, and suffe­reth [Page 23]no man to doe them harme, but often rebuketh Princes and people for their sakes? Howsoever there­fore no creature lyeth open to more dangers and disad­vantages then they doe, yet Christ is their guide and governour that will judge betweene the Lambes and the Goates, Ezech. 34.17. As the Shepheard seeketh out his Flocke in the day that he is among his Sheepe that are scattered, so will I seeke out my Sheepe, saith the Lord. The like wee read in the prophesie of Amos, Amos 3.12. As a Shepheard taketh out of the mouth of the Lyon two legges or a piece of an eare: so shall the Children of Israel bee taken out that dwell in Samaria: and so will our Shepheard take his Sheepe out of the jawes of our adversary the Devill, who goeth a­bout like a roaring Lyon, seeking whom he may devoure: 1 Pet. 5.8. Indeed it cannot be denied, some of them are often in pittifull case, some lost, Matth. 10. some broken, Gal. 6. Matth. 10.6. Gal. 6.1. Rom. 14.1. & 15.1. some weake, Rom. 14.1. some sicke, and some driven away, Ezek. 34. But here is matter of much comfort, he will seeke that which is lost, he will binde up that which is broken, hee will strengthen that which is weake, he will bring againe that which is driven a­way, and he will cure that which is sicke. Woe then to all such as are any way injurious to this Flocke. The more the servants of God lye open to injuries, the more will God bee in the middest of them ready to uphold them. This wee see in Paul, whiles as a ravening Wolfe he preied upon the poore Sheep, the Shepheard cryed out unto him from Heaven, Saul, Saul, Act 9.4. why per­secutest thou me? All such therefore as are the enemies of this Flocke must understand, that they have to doe, not onely with the Sheepe that may bee massacred, but with the Shepheard himselfe that cannot bee overma­stered. Be it that they may overcome them, yet it is impossible to overcome him. The Apostles were sent out as Sheepe in the middest of Wolves, Matth. 10.16. Matth, 10.16. yet [Page 24]neverthelesse they prospered and prevailed in the worke whereunto they are employed: and when the faithfull, that beleeved through their word, were car­ryed as Sheepe to the slaughter, they multiplied and en­creased even under the crosse, as the Israelites did in Egypt when they were oppressed.

Secondly, 2 let us all be like unto Sheepe, and thereby examine our selves, whether wee bee in the number of the Elect of God, or not. For wee are all of us either Sheepe, or Goats. This shall be made manifest at the latter day, when our Saviour shall sever the Sheepe from the Goats, which are here blended and mingled together, and set the Sheepe on the right hand, and the Goats on the left. Wee must know therefore, wee are either Elect or Reprobates. For as there are but two places, Heaven or Hell: so there are but two sorts of persons, we are either Saints or Devils. I speake of them as the Lord doth of Judas, Ioh. 6.70. & 17.12. Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a Devill? Some of the Disciples were Sheepe, were Elect, were Saints; one of them was a Goat, a Reprobate, a Devill, the sonne of perdi­tion. The proper­ties of Christs Sheepe. Ioh. 8.47. Now the Sheepe of Christ are knowne by these properties. First, they heare his voice, and follow him. This is as it were their eare-marke, as Ioh. 8.47. Hee that is of God, heareth Gods Word: yee therefore heare it not, because yee are not of God. Every man hath some marke whereby to know his Sheepe. This is Gods marke whereby he knoweth his, to heare him, and to obey him. As the Sheepe are Gods, so the Goats are the Devils, and belong to him, to whom they shall be sent at the last day: he knoweth his vassals by the con­trary, they will not heare the Word of God, nor follow after it: they will heare his voice, and obey him as their lord and master, but Gods voice they cannot abide, nei­ther will they heare it, and he rejoyceth in it. Secondly, [Page 25]they are profitable to many, they doe every way what good they can, as Gal. 6.10. As wee have opportunity, Gal. 6.10. let us doe good to all men, especially unto them who are of the Houshold of Faith. They consider they are borne to doe good to others, much more that they are borne againe to that end. This is the nature and property of love, 1 Cor. 13.3. It seeketh not her owne. It is a corrupt love so to live, as if we were borne for our selves alone, which the very Heathen abhorred. Thirdly, we must be patient in bea­ring wrongs, we must not be desirous of revenge. This was in the Shepheard of the Sheepe himselfe, 1 Pet. 2.23. When he was reviled, he reviled not againe: 1 Pet. 2.23. when hee suffered, he threatned not: but committed himselfe to him that iudgeth righteously; These are notes of the nature of the true Sheepe: the contrary are evident signes and markes of stinking and unsavory Goats. And if wee will try and prove our selves, and examine others by these badges of Christian profession, we shall finde ma­ny jetting up and downe like Sheepe, who challenge to themselves the name, but are not indeed the Sheepe of Christ, because we cannot finde the former properties in them. For few heare his voice with diligence, and yeeld obedience with conscience. Few labour to doe service to the Saints, while they have time, but are idle and unfruitfull. Now it is day, we know not how long it will last: The night commeth, wherein no man can work. Ioh. 9.4. Alas, when the Lord shall demand an account of his Stewards, what good they have done; what will they answer? shall they not be taken speechlesse? Few can put up the least injury and disgrace, every one of us is ready to breathe out threatnings, or to dissemble our malice untill we may revenge, as we see in Esau, Gen. Gen. 27.41. 27.41. and in Absalom, 1 Sam. We are taught another lesson of our Lord and Master, to be meeke and gentle, Matth. 11.29. Esay 11.9, 10. & 65.25. and lowly in heart, that we may finde rest to our soules. [Page 26]I never knew or have observed any meeke and mild in spirit, ready as a Lambe to endure wrongs, and un­mindfull of injuries for Christs sake, but hee bare a deepe impression of grace, and a lively character of Gods Spirit in his heart. This wee may see in all the Saints as in a glasse, the Scripture having set before us a cloud of witnesses, that in them we should behold our faces. Consider Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, how they behaved themselves patiently, when their enemies op­pressed them, and filled up the wells, which they with great labour and industry had found and digged, Gen. 26. Gen. 26.18. How often did the unthankfull Israelites murmure against Moses, and sought sometimes to stone him to death, Numb. 12.3. yet was hee the meekest man upon the face of the earth? Hee never desired fire to come downe upon the heads of his enemies to destroy them, but often­times prayed for them. Gen. 50.19. 1 Sam. 24.12 & 26.10, 11. 2 Sam. 16.10. Psal. 7.4. Acts 7.60. Heb. 12.2. Luk. 23.34. What should I say more? for the time would faile me to tell of Joseph pardoning the treachery of his brethren; of David, passing over the injuries of Saul, and the curses of Shemei; of Ste­phen, praying for them that stoned him to death; of Christ himselfe, an example farre above all these, the Author and finisher of our faith, enduring mockes, buffetting, and crucifying, and yet he prayed to his Fa­ther to forgive them. The contrary to all these are evi­dent markes and signes of Goats. And if we search in­to the waies of men by these former notes, wee shall finde few Sheepe indeed, but store and plenty of Goats every where. Gedeon seemed to have many stout Soul­diers in his Army, Iudg. 7.3. but after they were once tried, there remained few with him: so many are disguised in Sheepes clothing, but when they come to bee proved, they appeare to be rather ravening Wolues, or filthy Goats, wild Beasts of the forrest, or cruell Boares out of the wood; then any true Sheepe. How rare are they [Page 27]that heare the voice of Christ with diligence, attention and obedience? The Word is no more regarded of the most, then if it were a tale or a toy, as appeareth by their palpable ignorance, ordinary absence, and nota­ble disobedience. Every light pleasure, every slight profit, every foolish occasion, every frivolous businesse is sufficient to lead them from the house of God, and yet they would be accounted such Sheepe of Christ as heare his voice. How rare are they that labour to doe what good they can to the Church of God, albeit God have inabled them with plentifull meanes to doe much! Where are they that can say with godly Ne­hemiah, Thinke upon me, my God, for good, Nehem. 5.19. according to all that I have done for this people; or if they should, what doe they but pray fearefully against themselves? When the Lord Iesus shall come to judgement, and all flesh shall appeare before him, will he enquire of them, what goods they have gotten, or how much ground they have purchased, or what lands they have left to their posterity, and how richly they have provided for their heires? No, no, we must give up unto Christ Iesus o­ther accounts, and that of other things, to wit, what good we have done with our goods, what members of his we have fed, clothed, harboured, or visited. O what an heavy reckoning then have thousands to make, when they must give up an account of their Steward­ship! and yet they would be accounted the Sheep of Christ? O that they could think of these things betimes, before it be too late! How rare also are they, almost as blacke Swannes, that will forbeare, forgive, and forget the wrongs that are offered, Ephes. 4.32. Col. 3.12, 13. as Christ forgiveth them that offend him? but if any of us have a quarrell against another, we are ready to pursue it with all greedinesse, and watch all occasions of advantage many yeeres sometimes, as wee see in the example of Absalom, [Page 28]2 Sam. 2 Sa [...]. 13.22, 23. 13.22, 23. and yet they would be accounted the Sheepe of Christ. There cannot be a more fearefull marke and cognizance of a Goat then this is; beware of it.

Thirdly, 3 conclude the safe estate and condition of the Sheepe of Christ: Iohn 10.28. for who shall be able to take them out of his hand, Ioh. 10.28. or who shall fight against his Sheepe, and the Flocke of his pasture, and prevaile? This the Prophet teacheth, Ier. 2.3. Israel was holinesse unto the Lord, and the first fruits of his increase: all that devoure him, shall offend, evill shall come upon them, saith the Lord. Ier. Iob 1.3. 2 3. The Sheepe of Job are reckoned in the account of his substance: so are Gods Sheepe a part of his sub­stance which he chose to himselfe: so great is the kind­nesse and mercy of God toward us, For why doth hee take them for his Sheepe, and let the rest goe as Goats, being by nature no better? Is it any worthinesse, or ex­cellency in them before others? Rom. 2.12, 19. No, we are all gone out of the way, there is none that doth good, no not one, that every mouth might be stopped, and that all the world may become guilty before God. Is it for their multi­tude? Iohn 14.6. No, they are called by Christ in this place, a lit­tle Flocke, and hee is the truth it selfe that speaketh it. Thus Moses sheweth, that the Lord did not set his love upon Israel, neither chuse them, because they were moe in number then any people, Deut. 7.7. For they were the fewest of all people, Deut. 7.7. Is it for their strength, might, and power they have? Ezek. 16.5, 6. No, he found them weake and wal­lowing in their blood, none eye pittied them to have com­passion upon them; so that wee may not say in our hearts, Deut. 8.17, 18. My power and the might of mine hand hath got­ten me this wealth, but wee must remember the Lord our God, for it is he from whom wee receive all good things. What then? is it because we are more righte­ous? The Israelites are charged not to speake so in [Page 29]their hearts, Deut. 9.4, 5. Deut. 9.4, 5. because It was not for their righteousnesse or uprightnesse of heart that they entred to possesse the Land, but for the wickednesse of those Nati­ons which were driven out before them. Who is it a­mong the sonnes of men, that will not spend land, and limme, and life it selfe, to defend that which hee hath bought and purchased with a great price, and at a deare rate? And will not God defend and avenge his Chil­dren, whom he knew to be his before the foundation of the world was laid, though they bee oppressed for a time, and he beare long with the vessels of wrath, who cry out against them, Downe with them, downe with them, even to the ground? 2 Tim. 2.19. Rom. 11.1, 2, 3 howbeit the foundation re­maineth sure, and hath this seale, The Lord knoweth who are his, and hee will not cast off the care of them for ever.

Fourthly, 4 here is matter offered unto us to stirre our hearts to thanksgiving, considering the infinite mercy of God toward us, who hath vouchsafed to make choise of us to be his Sheepe, passing by so many thou­sands in the world. Of this duty the Prophet putteth us in minde, arising from this doctrine, Psal. 100. Psal. 100.3, 4. It is the Lord that hath made us, and not we ourselves: for we are his people, and the Sheepe of his pasture. What fol­loweth? he maketh this use thereupon, Enter into his Gates with thankesgiving, and into his Courts with praise, be thankefull unto him, and blesse his Name. It is no small token of his love toward us, to make us to be his Sheep, that are by nature Lyons, Leopards, Beares, Bulls, Dogs, Psal. 22.12, 13, 16, 21. Matth. 15.26. Wolves, and wild Beasts, and what not? Is not his love (who loved us first) worth our love to him againe? If it be a great blessing, that we are made to bee reaso­nable men, how much greater is it to be received and regarded as his owne inheritance, then which nothing is dearer to him, nothing ought to be better to us? The [Page 30]unfaithfull are the worke of God by naturall generati­on, but they are the new-worke of God by spirituall regeneration. It is not our owne free will that can frame and fashion us to be the people of God, for then we might say, It is we our selves that have made us, and not the Lord. Particular branches of thankfulnesse. This thankfulnesse consisteth not in words onely, but in divers other particular branches noted by the Prophet in that place. First, let us give to him our hearts, that our tongues may bee guided thereby: let us first offer him all that is within us, and then all that is without us will follow also; for other worship God accepteth not. In vaine they worship him, Matth. 15.8. that draw neere unto him with their mouth, and ho­nour him with their lippes, when their hearts are farre from him. Secondly, we must never bee ashamed to praise the Lord, and to confesse his wonderfull workes to the children of men. We see how men are not asha­med to sinne before the Lord, openly, publikely, proud­ly, presumptuously, and prophanely, and they blush at nothing but at godlinesse, prayer, profession, hearing the Word, and such like workes of Christian piety. These men glory in their owne shame, Phil. 3.19. Ier. 6.15. but they are asha­med of their glory, nay of Gods glory, and even of their owne good. Thirdly, the service which we per­forme to God, wee must yeeld willingly, readily, joy­fully, 2 Cor. 9.6. and with a glad heart, for hee loveth a cheerefull giver. Thankes constrained, or wrung and wrested from us, are rejected of God. Wee must give unto him backe againe, as he giveth to us. But how is that? and in what manner bestoweth he upon us? hee giveth us his gifts freely, we must therefore returne to him our thankes frankly. Lastly, he calleth us to the assembly of his Saints, which he nameth the Court and presence of God, which was the place appointed for his publike service and worship. Indeed God is not confined to a [Page 31]certaine place, Act. 7.48. Iohn 4.21. neither is there any place wherein he is not to bee worshipped: neverthelesse, such as are in­dued with true faith, must follow the communion of the Saints, as Sheepe that feed not alone, but with their fellowes. Gods Sheepe and servants must shew them­selves in the publike Assemblies, being publikely thankefull for publike benefits received at his merci­full hands, Psal. 84.10. considering that one day in (a) his Courts is better then a thousandelsewhere.

Fiftly, 5 all that are Pastors and Teachers under Christ are bound to feed the Flocke that dependeth upon them. They are Vnder-shepheards, as it were Christs Vicars or Curates: hee is the great Shepheard of our soules, to whom the rest must be subject, for the Sheepe are his. This use is gathered from the exhortation that Paul giveth to the Elders of Ephesus, Act. 20. Take heed unto your selves, and to all the Flocke, Act. 20.28. over the which the holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which hee hath purchased with his owne blood. Where he reasoneth thus, It is the Flock of God, therefore feed it: for hee maketh the Church of God and the Flocke of God all one. So when the Lord Iesus ascended, and led captivity captive, hee gave gifts to men, and appointed Vnder-pastors and Vnder-teachers, Ephes. 4.11. for the worke of the ministery, and the edification of the whole body. This is the charge hee gave to Peter, To feed his Sheepe: as if he should say, Feed them, be­cause they are my Sheepe. 2 Tim. 2.2. Now as Paul speaketh to Timothy; The things that thou hast learned of me, the same commit to faithfull men, who shall bee able to teach others also: so Peter having received so earnest a charge himselfe, is carefull to deliver the same to o­thers, himselfe an Elder, to the Elders, 1 Pet. 5. 1 Pet. 5.2. Feed the Flocke of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly: not for filthy lucre, [Page 32]but of a ready minde, &c. And that we may performe this the better, we must consider that we are sundry wayes provoked to our duties by this title. For as wee have shewed that the people must resemble the Sheep, Wherein the Minister is to resemble a Shepheard. Matth. 18.12. so we must remember that spirituall Pastors and Teachers must be like to other Shepheards, bestowing great la­bour and paines among the sheepe, for that is not an idle calling. First, the Shepheard overseeth the whole flocke in generall, and every part in particular; foras­much as to overlooke one, and overslip another, is the part of a loose and carelesse Shepheard. Thus must the Minister of God looke to all, and exempt himselfe from instructing of none that are of his fold. For as the soule quickneth every member of the body from the highest to the lowest, from the greatest to the least: so must he seeke the good of all, both high and low, great and small, one and other, so farre as lyeth in him to the ut­most. Hence it is, that Paul willeth the Elders to take heed to all the flocke. Whosoever scorneth in his dee­per skill to stoope downe to teach the least, the lowest, the poorest, the simplest, & to be familiar with them to win them to God, serveth not his Master Christ, neither savoureth of his Spirit, Comment. on Numb. pag. 699. but rather of the spirit of Anti­christ. But of this more at large elsewhere. Secondly, the Shepheard looketh to the lambes as wel as to the sheep, which are as the hope of the flocke, as we see in Jacob, Gen. 33.13. So is the Minister to teach the youth, that he may have comfort of them in their age, as Moses would not goe out of Egypt without their little ones to offer sa­cifice to the Lord, Exod. 10.9. Exo. 10.9. As Christ willeth the Dis­ciples to suffer little children to come unto him, Mark. 10.14. because to such belongeth the Kingdome of God, Mark. 10.14. And he willeth Peter to feed his Lambes as well as his Sheepe, Ioh. 21.15. Prov. 22.6. Joh. 21.15. If a child bee taught what trade to take when he is young, he will not forget it when hee is [Page 33]old; as a vessell retaineth the taste of that liquor where­with it was seasoned when it was new. Thirdly, wee see that as the Shepheard feedeth the flocke, so it fee­deth him againe, whereby the Minister of the Word hath warrant to live of the Gospell, as he preacheth the Gospel. This similitude is pressed by the Apostle, 1 Cor. 9. Who goeth a warfare any time at his owne charges? 1 Cor. 9.7. who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flocke, and eateth not of the milke of the flocke? If we feed the flocke, we have warrant to be fed there­with? but we have no power and authority given us from God to eate thereof, if we labour not. 1 Thes. 3.10. For he set­teth us to worke, he calleth us not to idlenesse. Fourth­ly, the Shepheard looketh to the sheepe that are weake and feeble, and laboureth to cure them, and therefore is never without his remedies and medicines to heale them: so the Minister of God must receive the weake, restore such as are fallen, warne them that are unruly, comfort the feeble-minded, support the tender-hear­ted, and be patient toward all men, 2 Tim. 2.26. proving if God at any time will give them repentance, that they may come out of the snares of the Devill, of whom they are hol­den captive to doe his will. These doe especially stand in need of the helpe of the spirituall Shepheard. Fiftly, as the Shepheard preserveth the sheepe from the vio­lence and invasion of the Lyon and the Beare, 1 Sam. 17.34. of the Wolfe and the Fox, that would prey upon both the sheepe and lambes; so must the Minister keepe his hea­rers from the infection and contagion of seducers and false teachers, who oftentimes come in sheepes clothing, Matth. 7.15. but inwardly are either crafty Foxes, or ravening Wolves. To this purpose it is said, Cant. Cant. 2.15. 2 Take us the Foxes, the little Foxes, that spoile the vines: for our vines have tender grapes. Thus wee must give all diligence, earnestly contending for the faith, Iude 3. which was once delive­red [Page 34]to the Saints. Sixtly, as the Shepheard is to give an ac­count of his sheepe, Gen. 31.39. as appeareth in Jacob, so is the office of the Minister an office of account, and therefore woe unto us if we preach not the Gospell, because a necessity is laid upon us, 1 Cor. 9.16. Ezek. 34.2. 1 Cor. 9. Eze. 34. Thus saith the Lord God unto the Shepheards, Woe bee to the Shepheards of Israel that doe feed themselves, should not the Sheepheards feed the flockes? On the other side, if wee feed the flocke willingly, and readily, wee shall receive a crowne of glory that fadeth not away, 1 Pet. 5.4. Dan. 12.3. when the chiefe Shepheard shall appeare in glory. If this great Day of the Lord were alwaies before us, it were su [...]ficient to make them that are idle to be diligent, and such as are diligent, to be yet more diligent; and such as are faithfull, to bee yet more faithfull.

Lastly, 6 conclude from hence, that the faithfull can­not want any thing that is good for them. The title gi­ven to the faithfull, that they are Christs Sheepe belong­ing to their All-sufficient Shepheard, serveth to assure them of his never-failing care toward them. For albeit they be simple and innocent, yet their Shepheard is wise and full of discretion to search and see into their wants, as Esay 40.11. Esay 40.11. He shall feed his flocke like a Shepheard, he shall gather the Lambes with his arme, and carry them in his bosome, and shall gently lead those that are with young. They are his chiefe treasure, a royall Priesthood, a chosen generation: they are chosen of him to life, and distinguished from all people of the world, Revel. 2.17. graven in the palme of his hands: They have a new name set upon them, which no man knoweth saving such as have received it. How then can they bee for­gotten of him that knoweth them all by their names? Thus David reasoneth, Psal. 23.1. Psal. 23.1. The Lord is my Shep­heard, I shall not want. Observe the conclusion of the Prophet in this place: the Lord was his Shepheard, and [Page 35]he one of his sheepe, therefore he is assured he shall ne­ver want, therefore he will have a speciall care of him. For what, I pray you, can they want, who have God to be their Shepheard? Hence it is, that hee saith else­where, I am poore and needy, Psal. 10.17. yet the Lord thinketh upon me. But it will be objected, Obiect. Doe we not see many of Gods servants live in want? to suffer hunger, thirst, nakednesse, cold, and an heape of many miseries? to be driven from house and home, and to wander from place to place? and doth not the Scripture teach us as much? 2 Cor. 11.27. Heb. 11.37. I answer, Answ. God fee­deth his in such extremities as these, another way: hee strengthneth and stayeth them up with his grace, that they cleave unto him, and depend upon him, for hee is their portion, and never forsaketh them. They have such inward peace that the world knoweth not of; which made the Apostle say, Phil. 4 11, 12. I have learned in whatsoe­ver state I am, therewith to be content: I know both how to be abased, and know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full, and to bee hungry, both to abound, and to suffer need. This hee expresseth more at large, 2 Cor. 6.8, 9, 10. What then? is there nothing required on our behalfe? Yes doubtlesse, for we have no promise of earthly things, Matth. 6 32. except we seeke first of all the Kingdome of God and his righteousnesse. If our chiefest care be of heavenly things, all these tem­porall things shall be added unto us. And this must bee our chiefest care for these causes. First, the soule is of more excelelnt price then the body by many degrees, Matth. 16.26. and draweth neerer to the nature of God, because it is a Spirit immortall, and invisible. Secondly, corporall and earthly blessings are common blessings, Luke 12.16. & 16.19, 23. & 18.18, 23. the ungodly are partakers of them as well as the godly, nay oftentimes they have the greatest share and portion of them, Luk. 12.16. & 16.19. & 18.23. [Page 36]Thirdly, temporall blessings serve onely for this present life, but spirituall belong to the life to come. As then the life to come ought more to be desired which never shall have end, then this present which is transitory and cannot continue, but passeth away wee know not how soone: so we should much more desire the bles­sings of the next life which abide for ever, 2 Cor. 4.18. 2 Cor. 4. For the things that are seene, are temporall, but the things that are not seene, are eternall. Fourthly, we may have earth­ly blessings, and yet they may lie dead by us, and wee have no use at all of them, either to our selves or to o­thers: it is not so with heavenly blessings, such as pos­sesse them, alwaies doe good with them. Fiftly, spiri­tuall things are simply and absolutely necessary to sal­vation, so that without them we cannot be saved: the other not so. For albeit they be required for the use of this life, yet they are not necessarily requisite to bring us to salvation. Nay, sometimes through the abuse of them, and sometimes through the want of a speciall sanctifying grace, they become hindrances, and clogs, and snares, and thornes unto us, as lamentable experi­ence in the world teacheth. Lastly, spirituall blessings once received shall never bee taken away from us, be­cause his owne, Iohn 13.1. Rom. 11.29. Luke 22.32. whom he loved in the world, he loveth to the end, his gifts and graces are without repentance; and their faith shall never faile; whereas temporall things are onely left and lent unto us, but the time shall come when they must leave us, and we them. These two points last remembred, are concluded out of the words of Christ himselfe, Luke 10.42. Luk. 10. touching the necessity and perpetuity of spirituall graces; as for temporall bles­sings, they are indeed convenient and profitable, but not simply necessary, so that we may be saved without them, as many are condemned with them. For the soule of Lazarus was carried into Abrahams bosome, [Page 37]that wanted them, and the soule of the rich man to hell and torments that had them. Lastly, we are moved to seeke Gods Kingdome before and above all earthly things, because as earthly things are Gods gifts, so they belong rightly and properly to the faithfull. They onely have the promise, that they shall not want, and therefore they have the truest title and tenure whereby they hold them, as Esay 65.13. This made the Prophet say, Psal. 37.25. I have beene yong, and now am old, Psal. 37.25. yet have I not seene the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. The Lord hath made no such promise to ungod­ly men. True it is, they have earthly blessings often­times more then the godly, to make them without ex­cuse, but they have them not by vertue of his promise. For where hath hee given to them any such promise? or how can they shew us their charter? nay, they and their children have a contrary judgement wayting up­on them, Psal. 109 9, 20. Let his children bee continually vagabonds and begge, Psal. 109. Such as will not hearken unto the voice of the Lord to observe all his Commandements, shall be cursed in the City and in the Field, Deut. 28.15, 16, &c. 2 Sam. 3.29. 1 Cor. 3.22. Rom. 8.32. Matth. 5.5. in their basket and store, in all their fruit and increase, Deut. 28. 2 Sam. 3.29. As for the godly, it is not so with them, Christ Iesus is theirs, and therefore no marvaile, if all things else be theirs, and that they shall inherit the earth. The Sheepe of Christ have all by a right of do­nation, the ungodly hold all by a wrong of usurpation. Can there be a better or truer title then Gods gift, by which Israel possessed the Land of Canaan? or can there be a meaner or worser hold, then to usurpe that which is not their owne, as the theefe doth the true mans purse? All that the godly man hath, is his free­hold touching the Conscience, Iohn 8.36. Gal. 4.26. as themselves are made free by the Sonne, and as his service is perfect freedome: his food is free, his house and land (if hee have any) is [Page 38]free, his dwelling is free, all that he putteth on, or any way belongeth unto him, is of a free tenure. Howbeit understand thus much, that this freedome of the faith full exempteth them not from Princes lawes, but is wholy spirituall; and this is their advantage, that which they have, is their owne, and they may use it to their comfort. For they have an interest both from God and man; from Heaven and earth, to enjoy the things of this life. It is not so with the ungodly, who are in bondage to sinne, to Satan, to their owne lusts and cor­ruptions, which bringeth all that they possesse into bon­dage with them. True it is, they may shew their war­rant from men, and bring forth their evidences, or leases, their writings and seales, their bonds and inden­tures; but what is all this to their right and claime from God, and to a sound sanctified use of them before him? For the bondage of their persons bringeth with it the bondage of their possessions. All therefore that they have and hold, is a bad and a bond hold. They can fetch their title no further then from men, and from their courts and customes. Howsoever such are ready to cry out with the Iewes, Iohn 8.33. Wee were never in bondage to any, yet while they take themselves to bee the freest men upon the earth, and to have liberty to make others free, 2 Pet. 2.19. they are themselves the servants, nay slaves to their owne corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage.

Flocke.) Another ob­servation ari­sing from the number here used. Another observation fitly ariseth from the name and number here used; as the former did from the borrowed speech, and title ascribed to the faithfull. For hee calleth not his people flockes, as speaking of many, but he singleth them out in the singular number, as speaking of one onely by the name of a flocke, my little flocke; one flocke, not many or severall flockes. True it is, there are many sheepe, yet they make but [Page 39]one flocke or sheepfold. This teacheth us, Doct. 3 that the Church of Christ is onely one, and not divers. So wee professe in the Articles of our faith, to beleeve one ho­ly and Catholike Church, not many Catholike Churches. This Christ himselfe sheweth plainely, Ioh. 10. there is one Shepheard, and one Sheepfold. Iohn 10.16. The Shepheard is but one, so the flockes are not many. Thus also the Apostle speaketh, 1 Cor. 12. 1 Cor. 12.12. Ephes. 1.10. & 2.16. There be many members, yet but one body. This we finde often repea­ted in him in many places, he purposed to gather together in one all things both which are in Heaven and in earth, Ephes. 1.10. we being many, are one body in Christ, Rom. Rom. 12.5. Gal. 3.28. 1 Cor. 10.17. Iohn 17.21. 12.5. Ye are all one in Christ Jesus, Gal. 3.28. Wee being many are on bread and one body, 1 Cor. 10.17. This is the effect of our Saviours prayer, That they all may bee one, as thou, O Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us. This also Salomon setteth downe, Cant. 6. My Dove, my undefiled is but one, Cant. 6.9. she is the onely one of her Mother, she is the chiefe one of her that bare her.

The tr [...]th hereof better appeareth, Reas. 1 if wee consider the titles given to the Church. Psal. 87.2. & 48.2. Cant. 4.9, 12. & 5.2. Esay 2.2. &. 5.7. 1 Cor. 6.19. Numb. 12.7. Heb. 3.2. Ephes. 3.15. G [...]l. 4.26. 1 Tim. 3.15. It is called the City of God, Psal. 87.2. The City of the great King, and the joy of the whole world, Psal. 48 2. The body of Christ, Ephes. 1.22, 23. & 5.23. 1 Cor. 12.27. Col. 1.18. The spouse of Christ, Cant. 4.9. The Mountaine of the Lord, Esay 2.2. The Temple of God, 1 Cor. 6.19. The house of God, Numb. 12.7. Heb. 3.2. The piller and ground of the Truth, 1 Tim. 3.15. The vineyard of the Lord of Hosts. Esay 5.7. The whole family in Heaven and Earth, Eph. 3.15. A gar­den inclosed, Cant. 4.12. as Christ also oftentimes in that Booke calleth it his Sister, his Love, his Dove, his Vnde­filed, chap. 5.2. The heavenly Jerusalem, the mother of us all, Gal. 4.26. and many other such like titles, all singu­lar signifying one, none plurall as pointing out many.

Againe, 2 the priviledges of the Church are one and [Page 40]the same: for albeit there bee many Citizens in this City, many subjects in this Kingdome, many members in this Body, many dwellers in this House, many plants in this Vineyard, many Sonnes and Daughters in this Family, many trees in this Garden, and many children of this Mother, yet the milke they sucke, the meat they eate, the garments they put on are one and the same, as Ephes. Eph. 4.4, 5, 6. 4.4, There is one God, one Head, one Saviour, one Redeemer, one Sanctifier, one Husband, one Hope, one Heaven, one Way, one Doore, one Lord, one Baptisme, one Supper, one Faith, and one Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Here are ma­ny unities, which make the Church fitly joyned toge­ther, and compacted by that which every joynt sup­plieth, according to the effectuall working in the mea­sure of every part, &c.

But it may be objected, Obiect. How is it then that we read of sundry Churches, 1 Cor. 11.16. Likewise of the se­ven Churches of Asia, Revel. 1.4, 13. as also of the Churches of the Romanes, Corinthians, Galatians, &c. I answer, Answ. These are onely severall parts of the Church militant, which is the company of Elect or faithfull living under the Crosse, desiring to be dissolved and re­moved hence, to be with Christ. Now as the Ocean Sea which is but one, is notwithstanding divided into sundry parts, according to the Countries and King­domes by which it runneth: so the Church dispersed over the whole earth, is divided into many particular Churches, according as the regions are several in which it is seated. Or as the body of man is one, but in this body there are many severall members that make all of them but one body: so it is with the body of the Church it selfe, Psal. 122.3. as the Prophet teacheth, that Jerusalem is builded as a City that is compact together in it selfe, Psal. 122.3.

Acknowledge from hence a difference betweene the true Church, Vse 1 and all other false conventicles and syna­gogues of Satan, not worthy to bee called by the names of Churches. The true Church is onely one, as God is one, that calleth it, as Christ is one that redeemeth it, as the Spirit one that sanctifieth and preserveth it. But the false churches have Satan and his angels for their head and king: and as hee is called the god of this world, so he may be called the god of disorder and con­fusion, the god of hatred and malice; these are at enmi­ty with God, with the truth, with the true Church, and one with another, Iudg. 7.22. as the swords of the Midianites were drawne out against the Midianites their owne fellowes. This use is concluded in the song of Salomon, chap. 6. There are threescore Queenes, Cant. 6.8, 9. and fourescore Con­cubines, and Virgins without number: yet my Dove, my Vndefiled is but one, the onely one of her Mother. Here is an objection and an answer to it. As if it were said, There are indeed multitudes of other assemblies in the world, which seeme to bee in more favour with God then the true Church, by reason of their multitudes, by reason of their pomp and glory, by reason of their flou­rishing estate, and freedome from inward and outward terrours: neverthelesse, though there be such an innu­merable sort of Queenes and Concubines as these, yet the true Church is onely one, and indeed the onely one dearely beloved, and tenderly regarded of the true God, as that which walketh in the truth, and profes­seth the Word truely. As for all other societies, they are no better then as routes of Rebels, and conspiracies of wicked men gathered together, and risen up against the Lord, and against his Anoynted, breaking the bonds, Psal. 2.3, 9. and casting away the cords of doctrine and discipline, who in the end shall be broken to shivers with a rod of Iron, and dashed in pieces like a Potters vessell. Such [Page 42]are all the assemblies of the Turkes, Sarazens, Savages, Iewes, Persians, Pagans, and the like, who are no Churches. Such are the congregations of the Papists, the meetings of the Arrians, Anabaptists, Libertines, Familists, Antinomies, Tritheits, Samosatenians, Swink­fieldians, all which are false Churches, some like the Israelites or ten tribes, after they were fallen from the house of David, and others worse: all of them no true Churches of God, but multitudes of horrible Infidels, detestable Idolaters, and abominable Heretickes de­parted out of the true Church, with whom wee must hold no communion, with whom wee must have no­thing to doe, but rather shun them, and separate from them, nay abhorre and abjure them, as men that walke in the path-way that leadeth to death and destruction. A man will not willingly goe into an infectious house, but these assemblies are a rout and receptacle of pesti­lent and prophane persons, who have made shipwracke of faith and of a good conscience. Hence it is that the Church speaketh in respect of such, Cant. 1.7. Cant. 1.7. Why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flockes of thy companions? she meaneth swarmes of Idolaters, heapes of false Worshippers, and societies of Schismatickes and Heretikes, 2 Tim. 2.17. whose doctrine fretteth as a canker, sow­reth as a leaven, and spreadeth as a leprosie over the whole body. Therefore hee calleth these evill compa­nies flockes, because they are many in number, and not that one flocke, which hath Christ Iesus to be the onely Master, the onely Shepheard, the onely Teacher of the true service of God. There alwaies have bene, and now are, Revel. 3.9. such as are no other, nor no better then the syna­gogue of Satan, who say they are virgins, but are harlots: who say they are Jewes, that is, the true Church and people of God, and are not, but doe lye.

Secondly, the Church being but one, this point and [Page 43]principle is to be holden, that there is no salvation out of the Church, as there is no condemnation to them that are of the Church, and consequently every one that looketh to bee saved by Christ, must necessarily range himselfe in that number, that so he may become a member and Citizen of this one Catholike Church. For as out of the Sheepfold are Goats, Dogs, Swine, Wolves, and such like, Revel. 21.15. so out of the Church are Sorce­rers, and Whore mongers, and Murtherers, and Idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh lies, Revel. 22. Such al­beit they may be in the Church for a season, yet are not of the Church, for they remaine not in it. They that were not in the Arke of Noah, perished in the waters: so out of the Church, and out of this flocke and sheep­fold all are condemned. Hence it is that Luke teacheth, Acts 2.47. Cant. 4.12. The Lord added to the Church from day to day such as should be saved. So Salomon, Cant. 4. A garden inclosed is my Sister, my Spouse, a Spring shut up, a Fountaine sea­led. This is plaine in these foure respects. First, Why there is no salvation out of the Church. because Christ Iesus is the onely head of the Church, by whom all parts as by certaine joynts and sinewes are knit and coupled together: but out of the militant Church there is no Christ, Revel. 1.13. for he alwaies walketh in the midst of the seven golden Candlestickes: out of the Church there is no faith in Christ, no obedience to Christ, no justifica­tion through Christ. This reason may bee thus con­cluded,

Where no Saviour is, there can be no salvation.
But out of the Church there is no Saviour: Therefore
Out of the Church there can be no salvation.

So then where no head is to quicken or make alive, there can be no body or members that are alive: but out of the Church there is no head to quicken or make alive: therefore there is no body or members quick­ned or made alive, but dead members which are so [Page 44]onely in name. 2 Secondly, out of the Church who ruleth as King, 2 Cor. 4.4. Ephes. 2.2. but the prince of the aire, and god of this world, that ruleth in the hearts of the children of disobedience? and therefore such as are justly cast out of the Church by the censure of excommunication, and cut off by that spirituall sword of discipline, 1 Cor. 5.5. 1 Tim. 1.20. are said to be delivered to Satan, that they might learne not to blaspheme, 1 Cor. 5.5. 1 Tim. 1.20. This reason may be thus framed.

Where Satan ruleth, nothing beareth sway but de­struction:
But out of the Church Satan ruleth, Therefore
Out of the Church nothing beareth sway but de­struction,

and consequently there can be no salvation. 3 Thirdly, out of the Church there are no ordinary meanes to come to salvation. Now what are the meanes to at­taine salvation? They are these, Hearing, Faith, Prayer, the Sacraments, and such like. But out of the bosome of the Church there is no sound preaching of the Word, no true beleeving in Christ, no devout calling upon God, no right partaking of the Sacraments, no sincere holinesse of life, no brotherly communion of Saints, no pure worshipping of God according to his Word. These are the priviledges of the Church, and the markes whereby it is knowne, Acts 2.42. Act. 2. They continu­ed stedfastly in the Apostles doctrine, and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. Where these are not, 4 there can be no Church, nor salvation. Fourthly, the Church and the world are quite contrary the one to the other. Iohn 17.9, 14. Ephes. 5.27. 1 Pet. 2.9. Christ prayeth not for the world, as hee doth for the Church, and for all the parts and members of it, John 17.9, 14. the whole world lyeth in wickednesse, onely the Church is an holy company, which follow­eth the waies, and practiseth the workes of godli­nesse.

Lastly, labour to be of this Church, 5 and joyne thy selfe to it, as a part and member thereof. If any aske, By what signes we may discerne whether we be members of the Church: or not? I answer, It is not hard, much lesse unpossible to establish our hearts in this truth. For first, such are separated from the world, 1 and are called with an holy calling by the voice of their Shep­heard, and set apart by the power of the Word, as the Nazarites were by their vow. To this purpose it is said of the Church, Loe, the people shall dwell alone, Numb. 23 9. and shall not be reckoned among the Nations; If then we joyne our selves with the world, we disjoyne our selves from the Church. Secondly, 2 true holinesse is begun in their nature. Wee beleeve this in our hearts, and wee must practise it in our lives, Tit. 3.5. Tit. 3.5. 2 Pet. 1.10. Matth. 5.16. Hereby we make our election and calling sure, 2 Pet. 1.10. Matth. 5.16. No sanctification, no salvation. Thirdly, the holinesse of Christ and his righteousnesse is imputed unto them, 3 Heb. 10.10. be­ing washed and bathed in his blood, Heb. 10.10. These rely wholy upon his merits for their righteousnesse and salvation, not upon themselves. Fourthly, 4 they cleave unto such as feare God, and worke righteous­nesse with unchangeable affections, as the onely people in the world, with whom they become one body, Rom. Rom. 12.5. 12.5. For as they are one in Christ, so they are one a­mong themselves, and love one another in deed and in truth, as fellow servants of the same family, as fellow berthren of the same Father, and as fellow Citizens of the same City, with all meeknesse, patience, gentlenesse, lowlinesse, long-suffering, love, concord, and unity. As sheepe will not be alone, so neither will they sort with Swine, or Beares, or Lyons, or Wolves. Let all our de­light therefore be in the Saints, Psal. 16. 2 Cor. 6.16. 2 Thes. 3.14. Heb. 10.39. On the other side, let us avoid the society of the wicked, Come out from among them, and touch no uncleane thing, separate [Page 46]from them, 5 and have no familiarity with them. Fiftly, they strive with might and maine by sanctification and holinesse of life to exceed and outstrip the deeds and practices of Turkes, Papists, and prophane persons of the world, 1 Pet. 2.9. Phil. 2.15. that these may see their good workes, and glorifie their Father which is in Heaven. For except our righteousnesse exceed the righteousnesse of the Scribes and Pharises, Matth. 5.20. wee cannot enter into the King­dome of Heaven. Our workes, not our words onely must speake for us, and witnesse with us, that we are of this one Church. And let us take heed, lest by our sin­full lives we slander our profession, blaspheme the Name of God our Father, dishonour Christ our Head, and dis­grace the Church our Mother, 6 Ephes. 1.4. Lastly, wee must acknowledge our selves to be Pilgrims and stran­gers in this world, Heb. 11.9, 10. as the Patriarkes and holy men of God did. For albeit we are in the world, yet we are none of the world: and albeit we live on the earth, yet we must not be earthly-minded, Phil. 3.20. but have our conversa­tion in Heaven, and from thence looke for our Saviour, to change our vile bodies, and to fashion them like to his glorious body. We live here as in a strange Coun­try, but we looke for a City which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. We must therefore use this world as though we used it not. 1 Cor. 7.31. And thus being members of the Church militant in this life, wee shall be parts of the Church triumphant in the life to come, there to remaine with Christ Iesus our Head for ever.

Little flocke.) The third point of the division fol­loweth, which is the limitation, it is little. Though it be a flocke, yet it is but a little flocke. It is a company, yet but a small company. Touching the company or compasse of the Church, we are to consider two things: First, the errors that stand on both sides, and the strength of the reason that Christ maketh against all [Page 47]carnall feare of want and famine. Touching the errors on both hands, as well on the right hand as on the left, some goe about to shrinke up the sinewes of this little flocke, and so contract it into a lesser roome then Christ himselfe hath folded it into. True it is, hee hath shut it up into a narrow fold, but many have gone about to pin it up, and to tye it shorter then he hath done. Thus the Iewes that were of the Circumcision offended, who went about to gather it into a shorter summe then they ought to have done: for they contended with Peter, and tooke it grievously, Acts 11.2, 3. that he went in to men uncir­cumcised, and did eate with them. They falsely perswa­ded themselves, that the promises concerning the Messiah pertained to themselves alone, because they heard in the Scriptures that they were called the pecu­liar people to whom pertained the adoption, Rom. 9.4, 5. the cove­nants, the giving of the Law, and the service of God, and so they dreamed that the Gentiles were quite ex­cluded from salvation, and severed from the Church of God. Howbeit this is contrary to the ancient promise and prophesie, that God will enlarge Iaphet, Gen. 9.27. that hee shall dwell in the Tents of Shem: and hereunto doe other Prophets accord. Thus also did the Donatists shut up the Church into a corner of the world onely, to wit, in Africk, August. De Hae­res. cap. 69. as if it had beene utterly perished out of the whole earth besides. Thus doe the Anabaptists and sundry of the Separation, as if there were no true Church upon the earth, but among themselves, who in truth are the true Donatists of our time, as whosoe­ver knoweth the history of them will easily acknow­ledge. For these Sectaries were Separatists, who had their Conventicles apart under colour of great corrup­tions in other places, persons, and Churches, and they imagined contagion and infection to arise by commu­nicating with all others. This is a generation that say [Page 48]as it is in the Prophet, Esay 65.5. Stand by thy selfe, Come not neere to me, for I am holier then thou. But here good and evill are mingled together, as cleane & uncleane in the Arke, as wheate and chaffe in the floore, and must so continue to the end of the World. So likewise doe the Roma­nists abridge it, who fasten the Church to the sleeve of the See of Rome, and therefore define it to bee a com­pany of men under one Pastor, Bellar. lib. 3. De Eccles. cap. 2. and subject to the jurisdi­ction of the Bishop of Rome: so that let men beleeve never so orthodoxally and soundly otherwise, yet they hold them out of the account of the Church, and brand them to bee no better then damnable Heretikes, who doe not acknowledge their lord god the Pope to be the Vicar of Christ, the head of the Church, and their chiefe, nay universall Pastor. Thus Catholike and Ro­mane with them, generall and particular shall be all one; which Church when it was at the best, Rom. 1.8. and their faith spred abroad thorowout the whole world, was never taken to be the Catholike Church, but a part thereof, which now is no sound part or member thereof, being fallen from that faith. For neither did that Roman Church beleeve as this doth, neither yet this as that did, as it were easie to shew by sundry particulars. But to leave all these, the Iewes, the Donatists, the Anabaptists, the Separatists, and the Romanists that thus restraine the Church: on the other side there are others, who pull up the fence, and digge downe the wall wherewith it is fenced and defended, and lay it out as common ground, and set it wide open to the beasts of the field. Now they stretch it too wide, and extend it too farre, who will have all men saved in their religion (whatso­ever it bee, true or false) so that they bee zealous, and serve God with a good intention and devotion. These erre on the contrary part, who lest they should seeme to condemne any rashly, they proclaime a generall par­don, [Page 49]and offer salvation unto all. They see and confesse that there are manifold contentions touching faith and religion, but because all ayme at one and the same end, and desire both to serve God, and to bee saved by him, therefore they hold that their error and ignorance shall be no hindrance or impeachment unto them. This perverse and peevish opinion is very plausible, and well-pleasing to flesh and blood, and to the politicke wise men of the world, and therefore findeth many followers: the ground whereof they take out of the Words of Christ, There shall bee one Shepheard, and one Sheepfold. But this he understandeth not of all men ge­nerally, but of the Elect onely, or sheepe gathered of Iewes and Gentiles; whereby he represseth the vaine boasting of the Iewes, who presumed that they were the Children of Abraham, and that the promises of salvation belonged to themselves alone. These doe in­deed pretend devotion, and thinke it enough to serve God with a good intention: howbeit neither are they devout, neither yet have they any good intent. For how unreasonable is it once to imagine, that God will be pleased with good intents, that saith by the Prophet, Who required these things at your hands? Esay 1.12. or as though the Church were a kennell of Dogs, or a stye of Swine, or a den of wilde Beasts, which receiveth a mixture or confusion of all sorts without difference or distinction. If God be God, we must follow him alone, there is no dallying with him, nor halting betweene two opinions: 1 King. 18.21 and if the Scripture be the Word of God inspired by him, we must follow the direction thereof. The Chri­stian religion is the onely true religion, Acts 4.12. there is no name under Heaven whereby wee can bee saved, but by Christ Iesus, the Lambe slaine from the beginning of the world, Revel. 13.8. neither is there salvation by any other then through him alone.

Now concerning the reason that Christ useth in this place, it is indeed contrary to carnall reason, and seemeth rather to destroy that which he would perswade, then perswade that which he would destroy. For he shew­eth in this place, to whom he maketh this dehortati­on, even to his little flocke: whereby he may seeme ra­ther to discourage them, then to encourage them; and to worke distrust and infidelity in them, then to draw them from their feare, forasmuch as the reason standeth thus, Feare not: Wherefore? Because yee are a little flocke. If a Captaine should say thus to his Souldiers, Yee are a little Army, and your Enemies are many, therefore feare not their feare, neither be yee discoura­ged, what comfort could bee gathered by such reaso­ning? But God useth not reasons according to mans reason; his Workes are contrary to the wisedome of men, Iohn 9 6. as Christ cured the blinde man by making clay of the spittle, and by anoynting his eyes therewith. Thus also are his arguments, his promises, his threatnings, and his punishments oftentimes contrary to humane under­standing. Wee are ready to judge them to bee no pro­mises, which notwithstanding are great and precious promises, if we consider of them aright. As for exam­ple, Psal 89.32. Psal. 89.32. If thy children forsake my Law, then will I visit their transgression with the rod, but my loving kind­nesse I will not utterly take from him: and this God would doe in mercy, 1 Cor. 11.32. as 1 Cor. 11. that we should not be condem­ned with the world. So Davids afflictions were medi­cines and blessings unto him, and as a precious balme, Psal. 119.67, 71. Againe, wee many times suppose those to be no threatnings, nor punishments at all, which neverthelesse are deepe and grievous judgements, as Hos. Hos. 4.14. 4.14. I will not punish your daughters, when they com­mit whoredome. Where he threatneth to let them alone, so that he will not punish them, but suffer them to run [Page 51]on without punishment, that thereby hee may punish them the more sharpely and irrecoverably. His hand is most heavy, when it is thought most light; and he striketh us with a deadly blow, while we are sencelesse and feele nothing. Thus the wound is deepest, when it is not seene at all. These doe seeme para­doxes to natu­rall men. And as sometimes he will not pu­nish, that he may punish: so sometimes hee will blesse, that he may not blesse. Thus no punishments become punishments, and blessings become no blessings, but curses upon us. These considerations may seeme para­doxes and strange positions to naturall men, Psal. 92.7. Mal. 2.2. but the re­generate understand them well enough, and feele the truth of them by experience, and wonder at the un­searchable wisedome of God, and tremble under the stroke and deepe judgement of his right hand upon the world. To escape scotfree whiles other men smart for their sinnes, the most sort interpret to be no punish­ment at all, but rather a speciall priviledge, and notable blessing: howbeit such shall know and feele in the end to their eternall woe and destruction, that it had beene a thousand times better, they had lyen under the rod, and beene chastened of the Lord all the day long For as it is said of an earthly Father, Prov. 13.24. & 19.18. Hee which loveth his child, chasteneth him betimes, Prov. 13.24. and 19.18. so it is with God, those whom he loveth, he also cha­steneth betimes, Heb. 12. which made David say, Psal. 119.67, 71. It is good for me that I have bene afflicted, that I might learne thy Statutes: because, before he was afflicted, he went astray. In like manner, the reasons that the holy Ghost useth in his Word, are not like our reasonings, as his thoughts are not like our thoughts, neither his waies like our waies. If we consult with flesh & blood, we shall never allow this for a strong and a substantial reason, Ye are a little flock, therefore feare not: but rather conclude the contrary, therefore feare. Wee would rather argue on this man­ner; [Page 52]as they did in the Prophet, Ezek. 33.24. Wee are many, therefore feare not, Ezek. 33.24. Wee are wealthy, therefore feare not. We have many friends, therefore feare not. Wee have houses and lands, therefore feare not. Wee have much laid up for many yeeres, and wee want no­thing, therefore feare not. But the reason standeth o­therwise with God. He will draw faith from the con­sideration of our frailty; hope out of despaire; and strength out of weaknesse; as once hee brought light out of darknesse, Gen. 1.2, 3. Rom. 4.17. Heb. 11.3. 2 Cor. 12.9. and all things out of nothing. As if hee should say, Ye are few and little regarded of the world, therefore ye shall be the more regarded of me, my power shall be perfected in your weakenesse, and the more yee lye open to the wide world, the more ye shall be under my protection, and the lesse yee shall need to feare: so that howsoever yee be every way little in the judgement of men, yet yee are every way great in mine eyes. Thus doth Christ our Saviour understand more then hee ex­presseth. Now to come to the words themselves, we have shewed before in what sence the flocke of God is called little. The first consideration is in regard of the number; yee are a few in number, yea a very few, and as it were a little handfull: yet notwithstanding as a little corne is more of worth then great heapes of chaffe, and one sheepe then many goats: so this small company is more precious in Gods sight then all the multitudes of the ungodly. Doct. 4 This teacheth, that the flock of Christ is but a small and little flocke: the number of Gods children is few, thin sowne, and soone told. We may easily perceive and prove the truth hereof, if wee observe the state of the Church from the beginning of the world. Gen. 4.8, 25. The family of Adam the first man was lit­tle, and he remained childlesse a long time after Abel was made away by his owne brother, while the poste­rity of Cain (a carnall and cursed seed) encreased in [Page 53]power, in strength, in number, and in estimation of the wicked world. When the flood came, the house of Noah onely (whom hee saw righteous in that genera­tion) consisting of eight persons was saved, Gen. 6.9. & 7.1 1 Pet. 3.20. 2 Pet. 2.5. Gen. 19.24. 2 Pet. 2 6. whiles all the rest were miserably drowned in the waters. When Sodom was destroyed with fire and brimstone from Hea­ven, all the rest of the City were consumed and burnt to ashes, and onely the house of Lot escaped with their lives as a prey. Of all the multitude that came out of Egypt amounting to sixe hundred thousand, none en­tred into the Land of Canaan, but Caleb and Ioshua. Numb. 14.22, 23. True it is, all the rest were not condemned: howbeit if we consider their often provocations, disc [...]entments, murmurings, and open rebellious against God, we shall easily discerne that the fewest number did truely be­leeve, and soundly cleave to God, and entred into the heavenly Canaan, as Iude 5. Iude 5. The Lord having saved the people out of the Land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that obeyed not. The holy Scripture is full of such testi­monies, examples, parables, and comparisons both in the old and new Testament. Those whom God reser­veth as a portion to himselfe, are called a tenth: Esay 6.13. & 17.6. & 24.13. they are compared to the shaking of an Olive tree, Two or three berries are in the top of the utmost boughes, and foure or five in the high branches. The Church it selfe complaineth, that it is as the Summer gatherings, Mic. 7.1. and as the grapes of the Vintage, there is no cluster to eate. If there be foure sorts of hearers, Matth. 13.23. Luk. 18.18. one onely among them all is the saving hearer that hath a good and honest heart. And if ten leapers be clensed, one of them onely among them all is found to returne backe to give glory to God. Gen. 18.32. Ier. 5.5. Matth. 7.13. Luk. 13.24. Rom. 21.3, 4. 1 King. 19.14. When Abraham made intercession for Sodom, if ten righteous persons had beene found in it, the whole City had bene spared for their sakes; See more, Jer. 5.5. Matth. 7.13. Luk. 13.24. Rom. 11.3, 4. compared with 1 King. 19.14. [Page 54] Rom. Rom. 9.27, 28. Esay 10.22, 23. & 1.9. Revel. 3.4. 9.27, 28. Though the number of the Children of Is­rael be as the sand of the Sea, yet a remnant shall bee saved: for he will finish the worke, and cut it short in righte­ousnesse, because a short worke will the Lord make up­on the earth. And as this hath beene in former times, so is it in our dayes. If wee would take a view of the state of the world as it is knowne and daily discovered in our daies, and sever from places where the face of a Church is, the state of Mahometans, Barbarians, Savages, Iewes, and Idolaters, what is it but a poore handfull, as a brand taken out of the middest of the fire, or as a lit­tle flocke driven into a corner of the world? Againe, to leave out the rabble of those that are without, expe­rience teacheth that where the face of a Church is set­led and established, and Christ Iesus is professed, if you take away such as are open enemies, Libertines, Epicures, luke-warme Professors, prophane men, Atheists, New­ters, Halters, carnal Gospellers, ignorant persons, hypo­crites, Antichristians, Anabaptists, false-brethren, meere civill men, that trouble not themselves with God or godlinesse, and such like, that meddle not any way with matters of religion; we may truely cry out with Christ our Saviour, Matth. 20.16. Luke 18.8. Many are called, but few are chosen. Nei­ther may we thinke it will be better or otherwise here­after: for Christ Iesus admonisheth us, that when the Sonne of man commeth, he shall scarce finde faith on the earth.

This will farther appeare by reasons; Reas. 1 First, because as the way to the earthly Canaan was thorow a solitary wildernesse; so the way that leadeth to the heavenly Canaan and to everlasting life is narrow, Matth. 7.13, 14. and the gate straight, and that in divers respects. It suffereth not a man to sleepe soundly in his sinne, and to wander whi­ther hee listeth, but shutteth him up within the close bounds of the Word of God, which telleth him that [Page 55]he must suffer persecution, deny himselfe, Matth. 16.24. Col. 3.5. mortifie and crucifie the old man, and all the affections of the flesh, which is as irksome and unpleasant to the flesh, as if a man should betake himselfe to perpetuall imprison­ment, put manacles and fetters upon hands and feet, and thrust himselfe into the Stockes or Gaole, where­as he might live abroad at liberty without restraint and resistance, or without controlement and contradi­ction of any man whatsoever,

Secondly, such as are faithfull and feare God, 2 live for the most part in contempt and disgrace of the world, which hateth and contemneth them, mocketh and scoffeth at them, as Ismael did at Isaac, so doe they that are borne after the flesh, Gal. 4.29. persecute them that are borne af­ter the Spirit, and therefore they must take up their Crosse, and follow after their Master. They are chosen out of the world, no marvell then if the world hate them, Ioh. 15.18, 19. which hated Christ before ever it hated them. The world loveth onely her owne, the godly must be ready to be under the crosse, and to suffer persecutions, 2 Tim. 3.12. Acts 14.21. know­ing that through manifold tribulations they must enter into the Kingdome of Heaven. The Head is gone be­fore that way, and all the members must follow after him, bearing his Crosse.

Thirdly, 3 the way to godlinesse is unknowne to the naturall man, and to carnall reason. Hence it is, that few embrace it and entertaine it any further then stan­deth with their owne pleasures, honours, humors, pro­fits, preferments, or corruptions. 1 Cor. 2.14. The naturall man knoweth not the things of God: but whatsoever we are ignorant off, we doe not heartily desire, or earnestly delight in: Matth. 10.37. Luke 14.26. whereas wee should bee willing to leave and lose all, when the Lord calleth and commandeth us, as Abraham did, Gen. 22.4. rather then forsake him and the Gospell.

Lastly, 4 few carry about them the markes of Christs sheepe before spoken off, which are, to heare the voice of the Shepheard, to obey him and follow him, to ac­count themselves never better then when they feed in his greene pastures, Psal. 1.2. & 23.2. & 27.4. & 119.24. & 26.8. to delight in the Word above all things, to bee patient in adversities, and toward their adversaries, and to call upon God in the day of trouble. When a sheepe sticketh in bushes and brambles, and is any way holden in thornes and thickets, it bleateth and cryeth, and the Shepheard, hearing the voice thereof, soone delivereth it: so when wee are in any distresse and calamity, or want of earthly things, we must shew our selves the sheepe of Christ by calling to our great Shepheard: if he once heare us cry unto him out of the depths, he will deliver us out of our distresse, and set us in safe places.

If it be objected, Obiect. that many are said to bee redeemed by Christ, Matth. 26.28. Revel. 7.9. Matth. 26. and that an infinite number not to be reckoned, are sealed up for the Lords servants, Re­vel. 7. Now many are not few: a great multitude is not a little company: Esay 53.1 [...]. if no man can number them, they cannot bee a small number. How then can these things stand together? Answ. I answer briefely: The faithfull are both many and few. Many, being considered simply in themselves, moe then the sand upon the Sea-shore, and the starres in the Firmament, as I have shewed more at large else-where: and they are few, in respect of the reprobate: and both these are taught in this ti­tle, for the Word flocke importeth that they are many, the word little that they are few.

First, Vse 1 this serveth for reproofe of the Church of Rome, The first re­proofe. which standeth upon outward pompe and glo­ry, upon universality and multitudes of men, all which are no sure and certaine markes of the Church of Christ, Bellarmine. lib. 4. De Eccles. cap. 4. but rather badges of the synagogue of Satan and [Page 57]his eldest sonne Antichrist. For why may not Turkes and Infidels boast of this, as well as the Romanists? In all societies for the most part the least number is the best, the greatest number is the worst. Secondly, The second reproofe. it checketh such as are offended with the fewnesse of the godly, because they are no moe in number, as if Adam should repine that the Garden, wherein God had plan­ted, and wherein hee was placed, was no greater: or the Iewes murmure that the Church was bounded within the Territories of Iudea: or as if earthly men should complaine that the world was created in no greater compasse. These would as soone bee offended with Christ himselfe, if hee were among them, and li­ved upon the earth: for in the dayes of his flesh, few followed him and his doctrine, Hee came to his owne, Iohn 1.11. and his owne received him not, but for the most part re­jected him, nay, in the end they crucified the Lord of glory, and preferred a robber and murtherer before him. Iohn 18.40. Luke 23.19. And those few that did cleave unto him, as wisedome is alwaies justified of her children, what, I pray you were they? were they Kings and Princes, and Poten­tates, and Priests, and Prelates? were they the chiefest, the choicest, the highest, the noblest, the richest, and those in greatest authority? was it Herod, or Pilate, or the Scribes, and Pharises, the Rabbies and great Do­ctors of the Law? No, no, these above all others were his deadly enemies, and persecuted him and his Disci­ples unto death. Who then were his followers? Veri­ly the poorest, the lowest, Matth 11.5. and such as were the basest in the eyes and estimation of the former fellowes; these were they that received the Gospell, these were they that beleeved in him; Matth. 2.16. Indeed one Herod wished to finde him, but it was not to worship him, but to kill him. Luke 23.8. Another of them had desired of a long time to see him, and when he saw him, rejoyced, but it was for his [Page 58]miracles, not for his doctrine. The Pharises indeed came unto him to heare him, but it was to tempt him and entangle him in his words: so that they say, and not onely confesse, Iohn 7.48, 49. but glory in it, Ioh. 7. Have any of the Rulers, or of the Pharises beleeved in him? but this people that knoweth not the Law, are cursed. Blessed are they therefore that are not offended at him. Matth. 11.6. The third re­proofe. Thirdly, they are reprooved, which are troubled and disquieted at the great company and prosperity of the ungodly, whereat the faith of the Elect hath oftentimes stagge­red and started backe, never remembring that God is ever good to Israel, Psal. 73.1, 12, 13. even to the pure in heart, though they be very few in number, as Psal 73.12, 13. and Jer. 5.1, 2. Wherefore doth the way of the wicked prosper? wherfore are all they happy that deale very treacherously? Ier. 12.1. So Hab. 1.13. Wherefore holdest thou thy tongue, when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous then himselfe? Hab. 1.13. Howbeit they are set in slippery places, albe­it for a time they may flourish, and spread themselves like a greene Bay tree, Psal. 37.35. The fourth re­proofe. and in the end shall bee horribly consumed, as a dreame when one awaketh. Fourthly, such as lay the fault where it is not, and not where it is. Some upon Christ, as Adam did upon God, as if hee were tyed to give repentance: who notwithstanding offereth the meanes to draw them, but they will not be drawne; Matth. 23.37. hee would, but they would not, albeit hee bee bound to none. Some upon the Word, as if it were of no force and power, or at least not sufficient to convert the soule; which notwithstanding hath the working of the Spirit joyned with it in all that are saved. Some upon the Minister, as if it were in him to convert the heart: he soweth the seed as the spirituall Husband­man, but he cannot make it grow, as also he washeth the body, Matth. 3.11. & 13, 19, 20. but cannot baptize with the holy Ghost, & clense the soule. But the Parable of the Sower serveth to rectifie [Page 59]and reforme our judgement and understanding, that the fault is not in the Seedman, nor in the seed, nor in the sowing, but in the ground of mens hearts, so that wee may say with the Prophet, Hos. 13.9. The fift re­proofe. Thy destruction (O Israel) is of thy selfe. Fiftly, such as will stay till all men be agreed. For if the number of the sheepe be few, we may looke long enough, before all will meet in the unity of the Spirit. Woe then to such as waite for the comming in of all to joyne together, and will resolve upon no­thing, so long as any remaine unresolved, as if they strove to be the last that should be added to the Sheep­fold. When all men thinke one thing, then will they joyne and jumpe with them in practice and opinion: but in the meane season they will hang and hover in the aire in suspence, and expect a generall agreement. And that they may doe, untill their eyes fall out of their heads, and be never the wiser, but rather the worser, and the wickeder. For this is to looke for Heaven up­on earth. Thus indeed it shall bee when wee come to know, even as we are knowne: then wee shall have and heare a perfect harmony of all voices, singing with one minde, and with one mouth, Hallelu-iah: Revel. 19.1, 3. but here our musicke hath many jarres, and we meet with sun­dry rubbes in our way: for wee know onely in part, 1 Cor. 13.9, 10. and we prophecy in part, but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall bee done away. Howbeit, it availeth little, to speake to such of spiritu­all things, being wholly carnall themselves: and there­fore set us deale with them in their owne language, that is, speake to earthly-minded men of earthly things, and so keepe our selves within their owne element. If these would never buy or sell, untill all men be agreed of the due price and just value, they should never have any doings or dealings in the world, that now overburden themselves with the world. If they would never pur­chase [Page 60]foot of land, neither husband their ground, or plough, or mow, or sow, untill all men were consent­ing about the matter, or manner, or time, when to begin, and where to make an end, or other like circumstances; their fields would bee all growne over with thornes, and thistles; and nettles would cover the face thereof. How then are these so sencelesse and sottish as not to consider that there never was, nor never will be a ge­nerall concord in any thing under the Sunne? If then there will never be a full agreement, no, not in tempo­rall things, wherein notwithstanding the sences of car­nall and worldly men are expert and wholly exercised: how much lesse is it to be looked for in heavenly things, which are supernaturall, and cannot bee conceived of meere naturall men? I may therefore say unto such, ac­cording as our Saviour reasoneth, Iohn 3.12. Ioh. 3. If I have told you earthly things, and yee beleeve not; how shall ye beleeve, if I tell you of heavenly things? If these had lived in the dayes of Christ, when some spake one thing of him, and some another according to their severall fancy and fol­ly, Iohn 7.12, 40, 41, 43. some said he was a good man; some, of a truth hee is a Prophet; some, this is the Christ; but others, nay, for he deceiveth the people, so that there was a murmuring, and a division among them because of him; doubtlesse they would have denied and refused him, at least till they had seene the Scribes and Pharisees, and other learned Lawyers among the Iewes, wholly to receive him. But how many among them, thinke you, were damned for this device, albeit they had fully as much to plead for themselves as these men have? And if Noah had never set upon the Arke to build it, untill the whole world of the ungodly had consented unto him, and counselled him, he had perished with them in the waters. The sixt re­proofe. What good thing ever was there, that all men allowed and approved? Lastly, another sort (the worst [Page 61]of all the rest) are here reprooved, who make a scoffe and derision at these Words of Christ, as Pilate did, when Christ Iesus shewed, that he came for this cause into the world, that he might beare witnesse unto the truth, he said, What is truth? Iohn 19 20. So doe prophane persons upbraid the faithfull servants of God with this title as with a taunt, O, you are of the godly ones! O, you are one of these holy folke! you have the Spirit of God, and are one of the little flocke! thereby scorning and deriding such as honour the Word, and frequent the hearing of it; nay mocking at the preaching of Christ, and bringing the Word it selfe into contempt, and as it were flouting God to his face. But he that sitteth in the Heavens, shall laugh at them, Psal. 2.4. the Lord shall have them in derision, nay in detestation. For this differeth not from open blasphemy, nor these from wretched blasphe­mers, who make scoffes and jests at Gods Word, whereby they shall be judged, nay condemned at the last day, except they repent. It is ill jesting with a sharp two-edgedsword that cutteth as a razor, Heb. 4.12. which in the end shall cut them in pieces. These raise a nick-name upon the Word, Psal. 138.2. which He hath magnified above all his other Names, and are come to the height and top of sinne, and take the name of God in vaine in the highest degree, not onely walking in the counsell of the ungodly, Psal. 1.1. and standing in the way of sinners, but even sitting downe in the seat of the scornefull, whereby they fill up the mea­sure of their sinne, that God may fill to them the full viall of his fierce wrath and indignation. These doe notoriously belch out their owne shame, and manifest­ly renounce their owne salvation, and prove with their owne mouthes, that they looke for no other, but the portion of reprobates, together with the Devill and his angels. For I would gladly be informed, and receive answer from them, whether they beleeve in their [Page 62]hearts, that themselves have any true holinesse in them, and are in the number of this little flocke, or not? If they doe, then their owne words convince them, and by their owne mouthes (as the evill servant) they shall be condemned. If they doe not, then they must bee foule and filthy goats that shall stand at the left hand, as damned creatures, and receive an horrible curse de­nounced and executed against them: and all this by their owne verdict and confession. For as Christ Iesus at the last Day shall say to the reprobate, Inasmuch as they shewed no mercy to his brethren, they did it not to him; so may I say to these scoffers, In as much as they doe it against the Word, they doe it against the Lord himselfe, whose Word it is. To conclude, I will speak to them in the words of the Prophet, Esay 57.3, 4. Draw neere hither, ye sonnes of the Sorceresse, the seed of the Adulterer and the Whore, against whom doe yee sport your selves? against whom make yee a wide mouth? and draw out the tongue? are ye not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood?

Secondly, 2 here is peace and comfort against all dis­couragements that arise in the world from prophane persons, and a soveraigne preservative to all those that truely feare God, though they see themselves alone like a Pellican in the Wildernesse, like an Owle in the Desart, and like a Sparrow upon the house top. If wee be as a signe and wonder in Israel, Esay 8.28. yea as a monster among men, yet let us not be discouraged, but remember that the Lords portion hath beene but as the tenth, that is, in comparison of the multitude in all ages the least part, as it were an handfull. If then we have heretofore run into all excesse of riot with the world of the ungodly, and made conscience of nothing that is good or plea­sing to God, and now have learned better things by the direction of the Word, to refraine from every evill way, to have respect to all the Commandements of [Page 63]God, and to make conscience of all, even the least sins: albeit we finde our selves left alone, as Eliah the Pro­phet did, when they had killed the Prophets of the Lord, and digged downe his Altars; and walke in a rugged and untrodden path like Jonathan and his Ar­mour-bearer, having few to follow us, 1 Sam. 14 13. or to accompany us, many to disswade and discourage us, and some ready to hinder us, and to pull us backe; yet let us say with Peter, Though all men should forsake thee, Matth. 26.32. Iohn 6.68. yet will I never leave thee: and elsewhere, Whither shall wee goe? thou hast the Words of eternall life; when Iesus said unto the Twelve, Will yee also goe away? And let this bee our comfort, and give us rest, that thus it hath gone ever­more with the faithfull, this hath beene the state of Re­ligion, and few in comparison of the rest have found the true path-way that leadeth to life and salvation to their endlesse comfort.

Thirdly, 3 learne that the number of the wicked and reprobate is exceeding great, and the way to Hell hath many people and passengers that thrust and throng by heapes that way. The way is broad, and the gate wide that leadeth to destruction, Matth. 7.14. and many there be that enter in thereat, Matth. 7. We are ready to follow a multi­tude to evill, but Christ Iesus giveth us counsell to shun that way, as a dangerous rocke, which the multitude treadeth. Hence it is, that the Apostle teacheth, 1 Cor. 1. Not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, 1 Cor. 1.26, 27. not ma­ny noble are called, but the foolish things, weake, and base, and despised, and things which are not, hath God chosen, to confound and bring to nought the glory of the world. The worst courses have commonly the most followers, and the worst number is for the most part the greatest number: forasmuch as the greatest part are left out of the Booke of Life, and the Catalogue of Gods election. And as in the old world, when the [Page 64]flood came, 2 Pet. 2.5. Gen. 6.22. Luke 18.8. all flesh had corrupted his wayes upon the earth; so at the comming of the Sonne of man, shall he finde faith upon the earth? The greatest part shall bee given to carnall security, and worldly profits, without any respect to heavenly things. Such as came out of Egypt, were for the most part of them murmurers, and therefore perished. There were foure hundred and fifty false prophets standing to plead Baals cause, 1 King. 18.19. when one onely Elias stood for the honour and glory of the true God of Israel. 1 King. 22.6. There were also foure hundred flat­tering prophets against one plaine Preacher Michaiah, that spake the truth from his heart, yea even for the good of the King himselfe, if he had knowne the things that belonged to his owne peace, but they were hidden from him. Hereby then we learne the vanity of all such as goe about to excuse themselves, because they have many fellowes that are followers of their folly, and multitudes of companions in throngs and heapes, par­takers of their evil courses. They say, We are not alone, We have a world of people in the same case. If this be all they can alleadge for themselves, and their sinnes, and their consorts, woe unto them: for as they have many joyne with them in evill, so they shall have mul­titudes partake with them in punishment. God will judge all the ungodly, he regardeth neither might nor multitude. What store of carcasses perished in the wa­ters, and what heapes went to Hell among them? and at the last Day the Lord will give iudgement against all men, Iude 15. and rebuke all the ungodly among them, of all their wicked deeds which they have ungodlily committed, and of all their cruell speaking, which wicked sinners have spoken against him. Every man shall receive the things which are done in his body, 2 Cor. 5.10. according to that he hath done, whether it be good or evill, 2 Cor. 5.10. Hee hath evermore plagued multitudes as well as a few persons, [Page 65]with whom it is easie to doe execution, inasmuch as he commeth with thousands of his Saints and Angels, Jude 14. The worst waies have evermore found the greatest applause, consent, and countenance of the world. When it was agreed to compasse Lots house, they assembled together both young and old, Gen 19.4. all the people from every quarter, Gen. 19. When the golden calfe was to be made, Exod. 32.3. all the people brake off the golden earings which were in their eares, Exod. 32. When Pilate de­manded what should be done with Christ, Matth. 27.22. they all cryed out, Let him bee crucified, Matth. 27. So in mainte­nance of Idolatry, the zeale was so great, Acts 19.34. that all with one voyce cryed out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. Every place is full of evill; the greatest part ready to backe and bolster it; to uphold and countenance it; Esay 59.15. and such as never so little oppose against it, make themselves a prey. Who seeth not what plenty is every where of Atheists, unbeleevers, ignorant persons, disobedient, swearers, blasphemers, prophane, breakers of the Sab­bath, contemners of the Gospell, and what not? It is not their multitudes that can protect and patronize them, but shall rather encrease their sorrow and punish­ment.

Lastly, it is our duty to seeke, nay, 4 to strive to enter in at the straight gate, that we may finde our selves a­mong the little flocke, and joyne with those few that live well. And the rather, because many will seeke to enter in, and shall not be able, because it is too late, Luke 13.23. like the foolish Virgins, who, when the Bride-groome had shut rhe doores, desired to have them opened: but the Lord answered, Verily, I say unto you, I know you not. Matth. 25 12. It must be our study to be in this little number. We com­monly and for the most part sit still as a secure and sencelesse people, No easie mat­ter to come to Heaven. as though it were the easiest matter in the world to step to Heaven, or as if all the world [Page 66]should be saved. If multitudes were not of this minde, they would not spend all their dayes in vanity, in plea­sures and pastimes, in chambering and wantonnesse, in playing, in gaming and rioting, in eating and drinking, in surfeting and drunkennesse, and idlenesse, which was the life of the Sodomites; Ezek. 16.49. as if they were borne to no other end: or as if they should continue here for ever; or as if this were their vocation and calling; or as if there were no other Heaven; or as if this were the way to the Kingdome, which is the beaten path to Hell; or as if divers passing this way, were not now already in torments. It is commonly thought of these, that Hea­ven is as easily gotten and obtained, as for a man to open his mouth and breathe, and receive in the com­mon aire; their loose practice discovereth their opinion to be no other. What then, I beseech you, is become of the Words and warning of Christ? is his counsell and wisedome any way disprooved? what is now become of the narrow way? where is the straight gate that we have given us in charge to search after? is the way now growne at last to be wide and broad, when there are a few onely that tread in it? Doubtlesse, either it is so, or else these men glory in themselves that they are wi­ser then He, who is Wisdome it selfe, and that they have found a neerer cut, and shorter passage to Heaven, then He ever knew or commended to men. But if he be the wisedome of the Father, 1 Cor. 10.30. Col. 2.3. and have all the treasures of wisedome dwelling in him, certainely these men are stark fooles, and wholly ignorant of the right Way that lea­deth to salvation. Facilis d [...]scensus Averni: at supe­rare gradum, superas (que) evadere ad auras, hic la­bor, hoc opus est. Aeneid. lib. 6. It is an easie matter to goe to Hell: we are all by nature in the way unto it, and we have ma­ny helpes and guides that offer themselves to take us by the hand, and to conduct us, [...]d to accompany us thither. It is the hardest matter that can bee in the world, to come to Heaven. All excellent things are [Page 67]hard, the more excellent the harder: but nothing more excellent then a Kingdome. It is a difficult matter and very uneasie to climbe up to the top of an high moun­taine, or a steepe rocke; it requireth puffing and blow­ing, and labouring, and striving, and struggling, and sweating; contrariwise it is an easie matter to runne downe an hill without any staying and stopping, with­out any hinderance, or interruption, or intermission. So is it the easiest matter in the world to throw our selves downe, and to plunge our selves headlong into the pit of Hell, as it was to throw ones selfe downe from the pinnacle of the Temple: but to get up to the holy Hill of God, and to attaine to the Kingdome of Heaven, this is a labour, this is a worke indeed; this cannot be done without taking up of the Crosse, with­out denying of our selves, without mortifying of the old man, Hebr. 12 1. without laying aside the sinne that doth so easily beset us, without using violence to shake off the hinde­rances that stand in the way: so that I may say with the Apostles, If the righteous scarcely be saved, 1 Pet. 4.18. where shall the ungodly and the sinner appeare? 1 Pet. 4.18.

Little Flocke.) Another observation from this limi­ting and restraining title, that the flocke is little, is, that it is so called, because it is little regarded in the world. Now observe in this place, that the Scripture speaketh of things, sometimes as they are in themselves and in their owne nature; Tolet. in Luc. 9. pag. 788. and sometimes according to the account and estimation of men. A lively example of them both we have, 1 Cor. 1. concerning the preaching of the Word. For when the Apostle speaketh of it as it is by the ordinance of God, 1 Cor. 1.24, 23, 2 [...], 25, 18, 2 [...] he calleth it the power of God, and the wisedome of God, Verse 24. but when hee speaketh of it as it is in the corrupt account of the sin­full world, he calleth it a stumbling blocke and foolishnesse, Verse 23. and the foolishnesse of preaching, Verse 21. the [Page 68]foolishnesse of God, and the weakenesse of God, Verse 25. What then? is the publishing of the Gospell in it selfe either a stumbling blocke, or foolishnesse, or weaknesse? No, in no wise, being mighty to throw downe all strong holds: but thus the men of this world account and judge of it. Rom. 1.16. To whom then is it the power of God? To them that are called, Verse 24. to them that beleeve, Rom. 1.16. And to whom is it foolishnesse? To them that perish, 1 Cor. 1.18. So touching the flocke of God, in the estimation of God it is great, but in the estimati­on of the world it is as little. Thus the faithfull are cal­led by Christ our Saviour, Matth. 10.42. & 18.6. The little ones that beleeve in him, Matth. 10.42. & 18.6. But howsoever they be tendered of God, and highly in his favour, yet they finde hard entertainment at the hands of the prophane men of the world. Doct. 5 This teacheth, that the faithfull are hated, contemned, and little regarded of wicked men. Howsoever, Zach. 2.8. they that touch them, touch the apple of his eye, yet the ungodly account basely and vilely of them, as if they were the scumme and filth of the world, or unworthy to live, or to breathe among men, or to tread upon the earth. Psal. 22.6. Thus the Prophet David complaineth concerning himselfe, Psal. 22. I am as a worme, and a wonder among many, a reproach of men, and despised of the people. Thus also speaketh the Prophet Esay, Chap. 8. Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me, are for signes and for wonders in Israel, from the Lord of Hosts which dwelleth in mount Sion. So the Pro­phet Zachary complaineth, speaking of the Priests and Levites that were earnest to lay open the sinnes of the people before God, Zach. 3.8. Thou and thy fellowes are men won­dred at, or they are accounted as monsters among men. Thus Christ speaketh, Ioh. 16.2. They shall put you out of their syna­gogue, yea the time commeth, that whosoever killeth you, will thinke that he doth God service. The Apostle Paul [Page 69]was no sooner converted, but by and by he was hated, reviled, and persecuted, who before lived in peace and preferment, in credit and countenance, in favour and friendship with the greatest men. Whereupon he saith, 1 Cor. 4. 1 Cor. 4.9, 13. 2 Cor. 11.23, 24, 25. I thinke that God hath set forth us the Apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a specta­cle unto the world, and to Angels, and to men, even the off­scouring of all things unto this day. And thus it is with others also.

And no marvaile. For first they follow goodnesse, Reas. 1 which the men of this world cannot abide, but hate unto the death, and therefore how can it be otherwise? The Prophet saith, Psal. 38. Psal. 38.19, 20. They that hate me wrong­fully, are multiplied, they also that render evill for good, are mine adversaries, because I follow the thing that good is. If hee had followed evill, hee had beene loved of the evill.

Secondly, 2 they refuse to follow wicked men in the workes of the flesh, so that they thinke it strange that they runne not with them into all excesse of riot, 1 Pet. 4.4, 5. and they speake evill, because they are evill, of such as are better then themselves: but they shall give an account to him that is ready to judge the quicke and the dead, 1 Pet. 4. If wee were of the world, the world would love his owne, but because we are not of the world, but we are chosen out of world, therefore the world hateth us, Iohn 15.19. Iohn 15.19. As then, the friends of the world are the ene­mies of God, so the enemies of the world are the friends of God, Jam. 4.

Thirdly, the servant is not greater then his Lord, 3 nor the Disciple then his Master, neither hee that is sent, Iohn 13.16. & 15.20. Luke 11 18. Matth. 10.25. Luke 7.34. & 23.32. greater then him that sent him, John 13.16. & 15.20. If then they have called the master of the house Beelze­bub, a Samaritane, a Wine-bibber, a friend of Publicans and sinners, Luke 7.34. How much more shall they call [Page 70]them of his household? And if they doe these things to the greene tree, what shall bee done to the dry and barren? Luke 23.32. and if they have persecuted him, they will also persecute them that belong unto him.

Fourthly, 4 they know not the Father, neither his Sonne Iesus Christ, and therefore no marvaile if he will not know them, no marvaile if they doe not know his Children. The world doth not know the Sonnes of God, neither the love of the Father toward them, nei­ther their love toward the Father, because they know not the Father himselfe, Ioh. 15.21. & 16.3. Joh. 15.21. & 1 Joh. 3.1. God is not their Father, neither they his children, and there­fore his children are strange to them.

Lastly, 5 the ungodly are the seed of the Serpent, that is, Iohn 8.44. the children of the Devill, and he their father, whose lusts and will they performe, and whose expresse Image they represent, Joh. 8. This the Lord saith, Gen. 3.15. I will put enmity betweene thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed, it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heele. To this purpose Salomon speaketh, Prov. 29.27. Prov. 29.27. & 28.4. & 28.4. An uniust man is an abomination to the iust, and he that is upright in the way, is abomination to the wicked. The wicked hate the godly wrongfully, and without cause, the godly hate them worthily, (not sim­ply their persons, but so farre as Gods Image is defa­ced) as the old Serpents brood, and therefore account of them no otherwise then they doe of their Father. For as every one that loveth him that begate, 1 Iohn 5.1. loveth him also that is begotten of him: so they that hate him that begetteth to his corrupt image, hate them also that are begotten of him. The hatred of the ungodly, whereby they abhorre the faithfull, for their faiths sake, which is good: nay, for their Fathers sake, which is God, is implacable, and never can they be reconciled; it may not therefore seeme strange, if the godly doe not onely [Page 71]hate ungodlinesse, but the desperate ungodly also them­selves for their ungodlinesse, as we hate not onely the poison of the Serpent, but the Serpent for the poisons sake. But it will be said, Obiect. We are commanded to love our enemies, to blesse them that curse us, to doe good to them that [...]ate us, and to pray for them that perse­cute us, Matth. 5. If then we must love them, Matth. 5.44. we may not hate them. I answer, It is true, Answ. wee are charged to love our enemies, but not Gods enemies, nor the ene­mies of godlinesse, so farre as they may bee discerned so to be. For we must make a difference betweene his enemies and ours. Wee must love them that are ene­mies to our persons, but not those that are enemies (so farre as they are enemies) to our profession, and for the profession sake. It will be objected further, Obiect. Are we not bound to love every creature of God, Gen. 1.31. seeing hee saw them all to be very good? and are we not charged to love all men as they are men?