London Printed for Iohn Kidgell at ye. Golden Ball [...] Gate in [...]rn

THE VANITY OF THE CREATURE. By the AUTHOR OF THE Whole Duty of Man, &c. Together with a LETTER Prefix'd, sent to the Bookseller, relating to the AUTHOR.

ECCLES. 1.2.

Vanity of Vanities, all is Vanity.

LONDON: Printed for John Kidgell at the Golden-Ball near Grays-Inn-Gate in Holborn 1684.

TO THE Bookseller.

Mr. Kidgell,

YOu having Printed that most Excellent piece, Entituled, The Whole Duty of Man, Part II. Wherein the Author of that Book hath discovered much Iudg­ment, together with a composure of Ele­gancy of Style and Expression, I having a good opinion of your Conversation by a little acquaintance with you, at the re­quest of my Kinsman Mr. G. L. I. send you an account of the little Tract you are Printing, called The Vanity of the Crea­ture; which was, (if my word may pass for it) written by the first Author of The Whole Duty of Man. That he [Page] was a person of great Learning and Piety, I think no man will gain-say; which if he did, he would be sufficiently confuted by that his most Excellent and Divine Trea­tise. He was also of that Christian-like temper of meekness and modesty, rarely to be found in the best of men of these fla­gitious times, that out of a perfect enmi­ty and aversion to vain-glory, he purpose­ly concealed his name; which hath been the occasion of as many conjectures (al­most) to know who he was, as there have been scrutinies to find out the head-spring and original source of the River Nile. For my part, I shall not (though I could) break the rules of Decency and good Man­ners, to satisfie the itching desire of the over-curious, in divulging that which the Author himself was so careful to conceal. —Cum vides velatam, quid inquiris in rem absconditam? This is certain, and I will adventure at the boldness to say, that all those several Discourses which have appeared abroad in the World un­der [Page] our Authors name, were not written by him; but whoever were the Authors, it cannot be denyed, but that they have written them with the greatest Iudgment, Learning, and Piety imaginable, and that they are only worthy of imitating so great a Divine as our Author.

Yours in all Civil Offices, J. L.

THE Vanity of the Creature.

THE Creatures Vanity and Mutability is so great, that it should be the greatest incentive to us to look to the Supream good, as the only Center of our Happiness and Felicity. Since the Summum bonum of Man lies in some­thing more sublime and excellent than any Created Being, it's not in vain for him, in order to attaining the true ob­ject of his real Happiness, to take a Contemplative view of the Creatures vanity, which is most perspicuously de­monstrable even in Monarchies, which Bodin tells us, are more durable than Popular States, because less subject to be divided, (Unity being the great Preserver of all things:) and yet have these had, as the Moon, not only their [Page 2] increase and full light, but also their wain and changes, and this sometimes in a moment. That as in Musick you shall hear sometimes a string tun'd up to its ultimum potentiae, as high as it will bear, and presently depressed again to the lowest Key, and another elevated, yet both of them breathing but light Airs, and of short continuance: So may you see a Monarchy now wound up to the highest pitch of Happiness, and by and by let down again into the low­est depths of misery. This is Gods doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.

And here I shall begin with those Empires and Monarchies that were most famous among the rest.

For how soon was the Assyrian or Babylonian Monarchy swallow'd up by the Persian, the Persian by the Greek or Macedonian Empire, and the Greek by the Roman? which the Prophet Daniel presents unto us, by the Gold, Silver, Brass, and Iron, whereof Nebuchadnez­zars Image consisted, Dan. 2.32. The [Page 3] dissolution of one, as in natural things, so here, being still the generation of a­nother; and again, the erection of the later being the destruction of the former.

And as for the Roman Monarchy, their own Historian can tell us of that, how it had both its Infancy, Youth, Manhood, and Old age, as it were by turns: As its Infancy under Kings, its Youth under Consuls, its Manhood from the first Punick War unto the time of Augustus Caesar, and from that time its Old age under the succeeding Emperours; until at length that solid Body was torn asunder by the strug­lings of her own Children, into the Eastern and Western Empires, whereof the former was soon eaten out by the Turks and Saracens, and the later also fell away much, after a little revolution of time, by the falling off of divers Nations from her, each of which after they had pluck'd off their own feathers from the Roman Eagle, left her almost naked; As the Franks and Burgundians [Page 4] in France, the Goths in Spain, the Nor­mans and Lombards in Italy, together with the English and Scots in Britain: until at the last cast the Roman Monar­chy began a little to recal her self into Germany, where she hath held up since little more than the bare name of the Empire. So that Vicissitude you see is the great Empress of the world, unto whose unstay'd Dominion all earthly Powers and Principalities must be sub­ject, even those that are of the first Magnitude, much more others that move in a lower Orb.

And of these I shall single out only three, which I conceive most eminent, to be instanced in for this point.

The first is Judea, whose Govern­ment was Monarchically setled by God himself; yet how oft did she change her Lords and Masters, yielding her self as it were successively first to the Babylo­nian, and after that to the Roman, Per­sian, Saracen, Christian, Aegyptian, and now to the Turkish power? That as [Page 5] the Poet spake of Troy, Fuit Ilium; so may we of Jerusalem, her Metropolis, Fuit Hierosolyma, that Jerusalem was; She was great among the Nations, or Domina Gentium, the Lady of the Nations, but now, Non sic ut olim, it hath not been with her for these many Generations past, as in former days, (to use Job's words in his twenty ninth Chapter, se­cond and third verses) when God pre­served her, when his Candle shined upon her head, and when by that light she walk­ed through darkness; but Servants have ruled over her, and there was none to de­liver her out of their hands. Which is a good Lecture of Mutability to other Kingdoms and their Mother-cities. For Jerusalem was once a holy and happy City, and had been happy still, and she but continued holy; but that failing, How is her Gold become dim, how is her fine Gold chang'd into Dross! as she complains her self.

The second Example I produce here is Naples, which we many well call the [Page 6] Ball of Providence: And indeed so it was, being bandied from one Lord to another ten several times, before it came to lie (as now it doth) at the foot of Spain. For being a Countrey at first diversly peopled, it was upon the di­vision allotted to the Eastern Empe­rours, but from them forc'd by the Al­mains, and so to the Greeks and Sara­cens, and then successively hurried a­bout to the Normans, Germans, French, Hungarians, Arragonoys, and from them to the French again; till in the end the Spaniard seized upon it: and whether it will continue long with him or no, is very uncertain; especially if we re­member how of late years a poor Fish­erman (Massinello by name) snatch'd up the Reins of Government from him, and (had not God otherwise determi­ned of that Kingdom, by infatuating that Mushrome-King) for ought we know, he might have run quite away with them; so slippery are all earthly Kingdoms▪

[Page 7]3. But not to look out any longer to other Nations of Christendom, (me­thinks) we may instance this best by reflecting upon our selves. For you all know (I suppose) how the Romans, Saxons, Danes, and Normans, had each of them their several and alternate days of Lordship over this Nation; but yet because they did not know in those their days the things that belong­ed unto their Peace, how do we see the shadows of the night stretched out upon them, their Suns set with us, and their days shut in!

The longest day we read of, was that in Joshuah's time, wherein though the Sun stood still in Gibeon for the space of a whole day, yet set it did at last.

The day of the Romans was long up­on our Horizon, for the Sun of their prosperity shone here for the space of four hundred years and more; yet did it then go down as to us in this Nation, and Darkness here now doth lie upon

[Page 8]Again, the day of the Saxons conti­nued five hundred years and upwards; That of the Danes two hundred fifty five years, or thereabouts.

And how long the day of the Nor­mans hath lasted, every petty Alma­nack can tell us. I, and if none of those Suns come to rise again within our Hemisphere, (when the sins of this Na­tion are ripe, and call for Gods sickle to cut them down) it's beside his ordi­nary rule, which usually runs out all Humane things by a changeable circum­ference; for so Solomon tells us in his Book of Ecclesiastes, That the Sun rises, and the Sun goes down, and hasteth to the place where he arose.

Neither is this all, that the Powers and Principalities on earth are upon a daily turn, but as the Primum Mobile (you know) carries about the other Spheres; so do these carry about ma­ny other changes and alterations with them: As that of Religion, Laws, Li­berties, Sciences, Customs, and such like. [Page 9] Nay, even the Houses of God, which before to violate, was held a Crime in­expiable, yet are they now upon such removes broken down without scruple; and the very Urns of the Dead, which have been always look'd upon as Sacred Cabinets to preserve the Bodies of Gods Saints in for Eternity, yet are they now broken up, and their Ashes thrown a­bout, (such is the unsetledness of all things here below) even as the vilest Dust upon the face of the earth.

Beloved, it hath been ever thus upon the conversion of such great Bodies, and it is so still: for never was there any conversion in this Land like to that our eyes have seen of late; That if any one should have slept but some few years last past (as the Ancients fain of Epimenides) and should have awaked again in these times, how would he wonder at those strange Metamorphoses that are now among us, there being Nova rerum facies, A new face of things both in Church and State! Insomuch, [Page 10] (as Mr. Harding spake sometimes of Rome, That he did quaerere Romam in Roma, That he did seek Rome in Rome, and could not find it,) so may we say now, That we may quaerere Angliam in Anglia, That we may now seek for old England in our new England, and yet go without it, it is so much changed from what it was before.

And as we have seen much of this already, so who knows but we may come to see a great deal more hereaf­ter? Since we know not what a Day may bring forth.

Secondly, Neither is this true only in Empires and Monarchies, but also in Cities and their popular Governments. Etiam summis negatum est urbibus stare din, says the Moralist. And to this purpose tends that of the Author to the Hebrews, Heb. 13.14. We have here no abiding City, but we look for one to come, whose foundation is in the heavens.

There is then no City on earth, nor any kind of Government in it that e­ver [Page 11] stood up long in one posture, none that ever was, or shall be abiding. Pass ye up to Calneh and see, says the Pro­phet, Annos 6.2. and from hence go to Hemath the Great, and so to Gath of the Philistins. So, pass ye up to Athens the eye of Greece for Knowledge and humane Literature, and see; and from thence go to Rome, the Head of the Western Empire, and so come to Flo­rence, the Beauty of Italy; (for I for­bear to name more, Examples in this kind being almost infinite) in all which you may read this truth at large.

And first for Athens: How many changes of Governours and Govern­ments did she endure? putting her self off from Hereditary Kings to Archons, or Aristocratical Lords, who govern'd first for term of life, then decennially; and after these, to Democratical Ru­lers.

Next for Rome; how oft hath that City been alter'd by Gauls, Hunnes, Goths and Vandals?

[Page 12]Yea, how oft hath the Government of it been pass'd away from one hand to another?

It is mystically represented to us, Rev. 17.3. by the beast of seven heads, which is there interpreted by the seven Hills it is built upon, to be Rome: And according to the number of those Hills, to so many Masters did it submit it self, who had their several turns of supreme power and regiment over her, as Kings, Consuls, Dictators, Decemviri, Tribunes, Emperours, and Popes: under the last of which, I do not find that it was ever Besieged by any that took it not: such strange ebbings hath that Sea had expe­rience of!

Last of all for Florence. It is strange to tell what various whirlings about that hath had in point of Supreme Rule and power. For at first the Nobility ruled it in an Aristocratical way. But a little after, some Grandees among the people wrested it to themselves; who being tired out with continual quarrel­lings [Page 13] one with another, (for the people were divided into three ranks) the mid­dle sort of them took upon them the management of the State. And these also falling quickly together by the ears, the third and lowest sort became Masters of it. Which holding not long, by reason of their mutual dis­cords, they yield themselves and the Government of their City unto Charles of France, Brother to Lewis the Ninth; who within a short time being invited to the Kingdom of Naples, and leaving only Deputies at Florence, the Floren­tines return to their Popular Govern­ment, and renew their Civil Wars a­mong themselves For redress where­of, they send for the Duke of Athens, and give up all to him. But shortly they supposing themselves to be brought in bondage, and to be despoiled of their Liberty by the fear of his Guard, banish him the City, and within less than one years space shake off his Go­vernment over them. After which [Page 14] they come to an Aristocracie again, de­vising new Names and Officers for their Magistrates, and changing and rechan­ging them so oft, that sometimes their State was no better order'd, than if it had been committed to Mad men, or Children without discretion, the City scarce twenty years together keeping the same form of State: but as sick men in Feavers (says Bodinus) desire to be removed now hither, and by and by thither, or from one bed to another, as if the Disease were in the places where they lay, and not in the intrals of their own Bodies; so were the Florentines still turning their State, till they turn'd it into the hands of the Medices, who now hold it. A thing almost incredi­ble, (says he) did not their own Recor­der leave it recorded to posterity.

But in the second place let us des­cend to Families or Races of men that are lineally successive for Name and Greatness.

[Page 15]And here let me ask, where are those Illustrious Families cried up so much in former times, and famous in their Generations?

As the Couragious Family of the Maccabees in Jewry, and of the Ptole­mies in Aegypt.

Again, where is the Zelzuccian Fami­ly in the less Asia, and the Imperial Fa­mily of the Palaeologi in Greece?

That of the Merovignians in France?

Of the Plantagenets in England, with many more of this rank I might name, did not the narrow compass of so small a Treatise bound me?

Tell me, is not the Name and Great­ness of these Families long since expi­red, the Roots and Branches of them quite remov'd, and others planted in their rooms? Examples of this sort are innumerable, as Elihu says in Job: He breaks in pieces mighty men without num­ber; (so mighty Families without num­ber) and sets up others in their stead.

[Page 16]And as for such Families as are of a lower form, we need not go far, since our own knowledge here will lead us to continual changes and alte­rations.

For thou hast seen it may be ma­ny Families heretofore in this Nation, brim-full of earthly happiness, and run­ning over; and now upon thy second view of them, behold there is no such thing, but they are much alter'd, and running very low in the world, if not clean run out.

So that prosperity (you see) was never yet so entail'd upon any Family, and the Heirs thereof, but within a little time some one or other hath cut it off.

But last of all, if we look upon par­ticular persons, this will appear most evident; but especially if we consider them three ways. In respect of their Bodies, Minds, and Estates.

Gregory Nazianzen hath an excellent saying of the two former joyntly con­sider'd, [Page 17] which is this; [...]. i. e. We are not mixt Creatures only, but also contrary both to others and our selves: not continuing truly the same, no not so much as one day; but both in regard of our Bodies and Minds, perpetually flowing and perpetually changing.

And we can instance this in all the stages of our life, wherein by the or­dinary course of Nature, we are first weak, and then strong, and after weak again. As in our Childhood, we are then weak both in Body and Mind: in our Youth, strong in Body and weak in Mind; and in our Manhood, strong in both; but in our Old age, strong in Mind and weak in Body; and in our Decrepit, weak again in both, as we were in our Childhood at the first.

But to leave this general considera­tion of them, and to look upon them now more distinctly and severally by [Page 18] themselves. And first for the change of particular Persons in regard of their Bodies.

And here it is true of them, what Seneca affirms, viz. That no man is the same to day, he was yesterday: Ego ipse (says he) dum haec loquor mutari, muta­tus sum. Our Bodies (says he) are like a River, which keeps nothing but the bare name that was first given it; for as touching the present individual mat­ter, which is the watry substance of it, this is always transient, and other comes into its room: And so it is with the Body of Man, which is always recei­ving in new Air and Life, and venting the former. Which makes David pro­fess of himself, that he was toss'd up and down like the Locust; and Job compares Man for his bodily substance to a flower that never continues in one stay, Job 14.2. For now we are strong, and by and by weak; now beautiful, and presently deformed. A little Fit of the Feaver, Small Pox, or the like, [Page 19] alters us so, as if we were not the same men we were before; insomuch that we hear some speaking thus unto us,— Hen quantum mutatus ab illo! Alas, how hath this fit alter'd you from what you were in your health! for how are your lips grown pallid, your cheeks disco­lour'd, your eyes sunk into their holes, and your face quite disfigur'd! And o­thers there be of our acquaintance that like Jobs three friends do lift up their eyes afar off, and know us not; so much are we chang'd in respect of our Bodies!

But Secondly, Let us consider it also in respect of mens Minds.

And here (to say nothing of a moral change, which is obvious every where) as on the one side we find nothing more notable Quinquennio Neronis, than the first five years of Nero's, Reign, and more excellent than his Youth: Yet afterwards, having well tasted the sweet morsel of Soveraignty, he became (says one) the most detestable Tyrant that [Page 20] ever was: And so also of Herod the Great, Philo says, that he Reign'd six years as a good and just Prince, pre­senting the Protasis of his Reign with a large Fringe of Goodness about it; (as Joaz, Amazias, and Ozias did) but as for the Catastrophe of it, that was very sad and fearful. So on the other side, we find Manasseh and Paul soak­ing the forepart of their Lives in Blood, being no better at first then Nero was at the last, even a piece of clay temper'd with blood; yet was their end like the end of Davids good man, The end of that man is peace, Psal. 37.37.

But to wave these, (whereof much might be said, did it not quite lie out of my road I am now in) and to in­sist only upon the changeableness that doth naturally adhere to the mind of man.

Now tell me, if any thing in the world may be said to be more movea­ble than the mind of man.

[Page 21]It is a Spiritual substance, and so is always moving, (though insensibly) from one thing unto another; never resting, until at last like Noah's dove it be taken into the Heavenly Ark. S. Chry­sostome therefore compares it to a Bird, which flies in a moment of time over Mountains and Hills, over Seas and Rocks, without any hinderance: for now it is upon the lowest Shrub, and presently upon the highest branch of the tallest Cedar; now upon heavenly, and within the twinkling of an eye upon earthly things; now at Dan, and in a trice at Beersheba; now at one part of the earth, and then at another: for sometimes it is soaring after Princi­palities and Powers, and spiritual Wicked­nesses in high places, as the Apostle speaks; then after Riches, and by and by after pleasures; now rejoycing, and then sorrowing; now quieted, and im­mediately troubled, and as soon paci­fied again; now hoping, and straight­way fearing those hopes; now loving, [Page 22] and then hating what it loved before. Sic omnia mutabilitati subjacent (says St. Augustine) Thus do all things lie down under mutability! And it amaz'd Saint Bernard much, to consider how in the same moment of time his mind was not only diversly, but likewise contra­rily affected, and as it were pull'd a pieces betwixt love and hatred, joy and sorrow, fear and hope; having as many varieties of affections within him, as there were diversities of things in the world for them to light upon.

So that you see how the several Passions of our Minds do in a breath, and with the turning of a hand, steer divers ways, first looking one way, and then another, according as they are wheeled about with the motions of out­ward Contingencies.

But in the last place, we shall add un­to the former, the great changes that particular men are subject to in regard of their outward Estates and Fortunes. For the condition of Mortals (says a [Page 23] Heathen man) hath its turns and returns, both of Prosperity and Adversity.

That as in a Military skirmish there be some come up to discharge, while others fall of: So is it in the World's Militia.

One there is that is rais'd out of the Dust to sit among Princes: whereas there is another that is flung down from the pinnacle of worldly joy and prospe­rity, and stated, as Job was, upon the Dunghil. And this doth the Preacher tell us, among the rest of those changes that fell under his observation, That one comes out of Prison to Reign, (as Queen Elizabeth did out of the Tower to the Throne) whereas also there is he that is born in his Kingdom, and becomes ver poor; (as our Henry the Third was, while he lived sometimes on the Churches Alms.)

God hath appointed us (saith one well) all our parts to play, and hath not in their distribution been either spare-handed to the meanest, nor yet partial to the greatest.

[Page 24]He gave Caius Marius at first the part of a Carpenters Son, but afterwards the part of one that was seven times Consul. So also Agathocles the part of a Potters Son at the first, but afterwards of the King of Sicily.

So also on the other side, Darius play'd the part one while of the great­est Emperour, and another time of the most miserable Beggar, begging but a little water to quench the drought of Death. And Bajazet play'd the Grand Signior in the morning, but in the even­ing stood for Tamerlains footstool.

And Jane Shore, Edward the Fourths Minion, acts now as Mistress of a stately Palace, and a little after dies in a Ditch for want of a House; and (as he said of Icarus) so may we of her, That—Nomina fecit aquis, she gave Name to the place where she died, it being call'd from her Shore-ditch to this day.

But I forbear, since there is enough recorded for our use in the Sacred Scri­ptures to this purpose; where we find [Page 25] an example of the one in David, who says, that God took him from following the Ewes with young, and set him upon the Throne; there to feed (as he says) Jacob his people, and Israel his Inheri­tance. And to go lower yet, not only from the sheepfold, so he says, Psal. 113.7. and 8 verses; God takes the poor out of the Dust, and the needy out of the Dunghill, that he may set him among Princes, even with the Princes of his people. Now more vile and contempti­ble than the Dust we tread upon, which the least breath of wind commands any way; or than the worst of dust, which is that of the Dunghil, we cannot be; yet these are they (says the Psalmist) whom he sets among Princes, even with the Princes of his people.

An example of the other we have in Antiochus, 2 Mac. 9.9. who was so fill'd with Pride through the rankness of his Prosperity, that he thought he might command the Sea, (so proud was he, says the Text, beyond the condition of [Page 26] man) and further, that he could weigh the Mountains in a ballance, and reach up to the Stars of Heaven: yet by and by is his Comb cut, all his Glory worm-eaten, and none able to endure him for the filthiness of his smell.

Adde to this the example of Baltha­zar, Dan. 5.5. who was now carou­sing in the Consecrated Vessels that Ne­buchadnezzar his Grandfather had plun­dred the Temple of, and House of God at Jerusalem, as you may see, 2 Kings chap. last. But in the same hour (says the Text) came out the hand-writing of the wall against him, and then was the Kings countenance chang'd, his thoughts troubled, the joynts of his Loyns loosed, and his Kingdom given away to the Medes and Persians.

Thus are we for outward things like so many Counters, which stand one while for a pound, and another for a penny.

That was we see commonly in High­ways, where one man hath seth his foot, [Page 27] another presently follows him and treads it out again; so is it usually, That if one man beat out an Honour or Estate to himself, another comes after and treads out that impression; and whose it shall be next, there is no man knows. Nay, Lucan, Ipsa vices natura subit— Even the whole course of Nature runs about in a circular motion Our Bo­dies, Minds, and outward felicities, whatsoever we are, or whatsoever we have, are all subject to change in such wise, that we can have no assurance of them, no not for a day. We know not what a day may bring forth.

And so much for the demonstration of this truth, viz. That there is such a Vicissitude.

The next thing is the Efficient Cau­ses of it. For we never know any thing throughly, (says the Philosopher) until we know the Causes of it.

Now in speaking to this, I shall pro­ceed, 1. Negatively, 2. Affirmatively.

[Page 28]1. Negatively, in shewing what have been thought to be the causes of all Changes and Alterations, yet are not so indeed. And here the Epicures and vulgar Heathen have thought Fortune to be the cause of them: And they define it thus to be, An Event of things without Reason.

But how unreasonable it is to say, That an Event of Things without a Cause, should be the Cause of all E­vents, judge ye.

For it was only the ignorance of the true Causes, that made the name of Fortune; there being nothing fortui­tous in it self, but only to us and our ignorance; since the power and provi­dence of God hath the ordering and disposing of all things here below. And this did the wiser sort among them con­fess, as the Satyrist tells us.

Nullum, numen abest si sit prudentia, sed te
Nos facimus Fortuna Deam—

[Page 29]Others again, as the Stoicks, make Fate or Destiny the cause of all Altera­tions, which they say is an Event that necessarily falls out, from a certain ine­vitable order and connection of Natu­ral Causes, working without the will of God, as the Supreme Orderer and Disposer of them, he being subjected to them, and not they to him: where­by they take away the very Nature of the Godhead, which is to be a most powerful and free Agent, that works what, and by what means it pleases; all secondary causes depending upon that, and that upon none.

But enough of these: For I must remember my self, that I am now speak­ing to Christians, who acknowledge the Divine Providence in all things; and therefore shall speak no more of these Negative and supposed Causes, but shall now give you the true Effici­cent Causes of them, by way of Affir­mation.

[Page 30]And here know, that Logicians tell us of two Efficient Causes; Principal, and less Principal: And this is twofold, Impulsive, and Instrumental.

First then, the Principal Cause of all Changes and Alterations is God: for so said the Heathen man,

—Valet ima summit
Mutare, & insignem attenuat Deus,
Obscura promens—

But why borrow I weapons from the Philistins forge, when as there is e­nough for this, that may be drawn out of Gods Armory of the Scriptures? as Psal. 75.6, 7. Promotion, says the Pro­phet, comes neither from the East, nor from the West, nor from the South; but God is the Iudge, he puts down one, and sets up another. So also Job 34.29. When he gives Quietness, who can make Trouble? and when he hides his face, who can behold him; whether it be done (says Elihu) against a Nation, or against [Page 31] a particular man only? Again, Amos 5.8. He makes the Seven Stars and Orion, and turns the shadow of Death into the morning: The Lord is his Name.

The Oratour expresseth this well, by comparing Gods Omnipotency to the power of the Soul over the Members of the Body, which upon the least in­timation of the Mind do turn and move about with all facility. Now God (says he) is the sole Mind of the Uni­verse, and hath all parts and parcels thereof at his beck and pleasure, to be turn'd into any shape or form at his disposal.

Nay, it is no dishonour for God to cast the eye of his Providence upon the alteration even of the meanest things: for who is like, says the Psal­mist, to the Lord our God, who hath his dwelling on high, and yet humbles himself to behold the things in Heaven and Earth? Not only to behold the things in Hea­ven, which is a great condescention to him, whom the Heaven and the Heaven [Page 32] of Heavens cannot contain; but also the things in Earth. Now how unworthy these are of his taking notice of, you may see by those diminutive expressi­ons of them, compared with Gods great­ness, Isa. 40.15. where the Prophet says, Behold, the Nations are but as the drop of a Bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the Ballance; Behold, he takes up the Isles as a very little thing. And if this be not low enough for them, he says further, v. 17. That all Nations before him are as nothing, and are counted to him as less than nothing. Now look what a wide difference there is betwixt the Sea and a Bucket of wa­ter, yea the drop of a Bucket; or be­twixt a heap of dust, and the small dust of the ballance; betwixt very great and very little; betwixt all things and nothing at all, yea less then no­thing, (if less could be:) so vast is the disproportion betwixt God and all Na­tions, which are the greatest among all earthly things. And yet for all this, is [Page 33] God pleased so far to extenuate his own greatness, and to take off from it, as to look after them, and run them about in their several stages from one point unto another.

And if you would have this truth to be made out further unto you, our Sa­viour doth it, Mat. 10.29. by two seve­ral instances.

The one is of two Sparrows, which are little birds and of small value; but the Greek yet runs it more diminu­tively, [...] two little sparrows; and so they must needs be, for they were sold both even for a farthing, and this is price little enough. Yet the Arabick makes it less, and hath for it Phals, which is the least piece of money that can be; and accordingly expresses the two Mites spoken of, Mark 12.42. (which makes but one Farthing) by Phalsain in the dual number, as a late and learned Expositor notes.

The other is of the Hairs upon our Heads, being a kind of Excrement be­longing [Page 34] to our Bodies, and no integral or necessitous part of them, (as the Heart, Hands, and Feet are;) and yet he tells us, that God numbers these, and takes such a particular account of them, that not one of them falls to the ground without his disposal.

In the vision of the Wheels we read of a wheel within a wheel. Now the wheel within is the wheel of Gods Pro­vidence, that turns about the wheels of all outward things, be they never so low and mean. For as God doth not labour in doing the greatest things, so neither doth he disdain, either to do or undo the least; but as he made the small and great, (says the book of Wis­dom) so also doth he care for both alike. The Potter having power over his Clay, either to make of it a vessel of honour or dishonour, and being made, either to preserve it in that form and being he hath bestowed upon it, or else to de­form and destroy it, since it is equita­ble that every one should do with his [Page 35] own as he pleases. Nay, as he says of the gnat, that Nusquam potentior natura quam in minimis; So may we say, that God doth no ways advance his Power and Wisdom more, than in ordering of the least accidents to be disposed of to his Glory, and the good of his Chil­dren. And so much for the Principal Efficient cause.

The less Principal follows; which (as I said) is either Impulsive or Instru­mental.

Now the Impulsive cause of all Chan­ges and Alterations is the sin of man. This usher'd them in at the first, and so it doth still. For before Adam sin­ned, he enjoyed a Paradise of constant and uninterrupted happiness: but so soon as he sins against God, then fol­lows a great change presently: For the Earth all fruitful before, now becomes barren, himself subject to labour, his Wife to Travail and Sorrow, and both to cares and troubles, to weakness and dissolution. And so it is also with Na­tions [Page 36] and Kingdoms. If they be chang'd at any time, sin is the cause of it; and the greater their sin is, the greater usu­sually is their change. Great sinnings are the floud-gates to let in great Alte­rations upon them. For it is not a bare sinning in a Nation, (from which there is none that could ever plead ex­emption) but a sinning in some high measure, that is an in-let to Changes in the highest kind. Which made Da­vid say, Psal. 107.34. That a fruit­ful land is turn'd into barrenness for the wickedness of those that dwell therein; which the vulgar Latine reads, Propter malitiam, i. e. for the malicious wicked­ness of those that dwell therein; which notes a sin of a high nature, viz. such a one as is persisted in both against Know­ledge and Conscience. And therefore it is a good observation which Muscu­lus hath upon the words: These strange Alterations, says he, of Nations and Kingdoms, are not for the sinning of them, (from which no Nation can be free) but [Page 37] for their malicious sinning. And this you may see farther in Jerusalem, Ezek. 21. where we read of a very great Judgment that should befal her from the Babylonian, viz. Utter Destruction, expressed by the threefold Overturn wherewith God threatens her, v. 27. And v. 24. he laies down the Impul­sive cause that mov'd him to it; and this is an impudent and shameless sin­ning against God: for they did not commit their sin in a corner, as those that were asham'd of it, but (brazen­faced Wretches as they were) they de­clar'd their sin as Sodom, and discover'd it openly in the face of the Sun: and this they did too, not only in one or two particular acts, but generally, says the Text, in all their doings.

Now there is some hope of a modest and bashful, but none at all of a shame­less and obdurate sinner. Thus the Father, when his Son hath done amiss, yet is he well perswaded of his amend­ment, if he but see him blush upon his [Page 38] reproving of him. But when like Ju­dah, he hath once a Whores forehead, and refuses to be ashamed, then doth he give him over as a lost Child, and not to be recover'd.

So that from hence we see, that in what place soever we find such a Turn, such an Eversion as this, where all is turn'd upside down) there hath been without question some great Aversio a Creatore ad Creaturam, some great sin­ning against God (as the Schoolmen call it.) Which was the reason that when the English were (now upon their quitting of France, in Henry the Sixth's days) demanded of the French by way of derision, when they would make their return thither; it was feelingly answered by one of our Nation thus, When your sins are greater than ours.

It is sin then that ruines particular persons, that subverts Families, that periods Kingdoms, that wheels about Governments, that overturns States, that disjoynts Common-weals, and says un­to [Page 39] them as to the proud waves, Thus far ye shall go, and no farther.

And so I have done with the Impul­sive Cause, and come next to the In­strumental causes or means which God uses in effecting his Changes here; and they are two.

The first is the Motion and Influen­ces of the Celestial Bodies.

And this will the better appear, if we consider their forcible workings upon the Mind of man. For though they cannot work immediately upon it, be­cause it is immaterail; yet may they, and do work mediately upon it, as by the Body, which is the Instrument of the Soul to work by, and the Case wherein it is put up here for a time; and so make it either well or ill affect­ed, according to the Bodies present tem­per. By which means it comes to pass many times, that not only the disposi­tions of particular men, but also of whole multitudes collected together in a Politick Body, are much alter'd and [Page 40] chang'd, either to labour or Sloth, to Peace or Disquiet, to good or evil actings, according as they are inclin'd by the Motions of the Heavenly Bo­dies.

And that these Celestial Bodies have their energy upon all Sublunary things, is plain,

First, by Scripture; as Job 38.33. where the Lord speaks thus to Job, Know'st thou the Ordinances of Heaven? and canst thou set the dominion thereof in the Earth? which implies,

1. That the Heavens have power and dominion in the Earth.

2. That this power of theirs is set them from Gods ordinance and appoint­ment.

Secondly, by the constant Observa­tion and Experience of all Ages. Bo­dinus the French Lawyer speaks well to this point; Many erre (says he) great­ly, who think the influence of the Celesti­al Spheres to be nothing, when as their strength hath ever been most effectual, as in [Page 41] Sacred Writ is to be seen: and he cites the 38. chap. of Job before-mentioned to prove the same. Adding further, That many ancient Writers have noted the great Changes in Cities and Kingdoms upon the conjunction of the Superior Pla­nets, but to them only where they have been deputed of God to that end and pur­pose. And that they have been instru­mental towards the working of such effects, he shews by an induction of some particular instances: As, that be­fore the translation of the Roman So­veraignty unto Caesar, there was a great Conjunction of the Superior Planets met together in Scorpio: which fell out again seven hundred years after, when the Arabian Legions received the Law of Mahomet, rebell'd against the Greek Emperours, and subdued the Eastern Asia from the Christians.

The same also came about again, Anno Christi 1464. after which Lada­machus, King of the Tartars, was by his Subjects thrust out of the Chair of [Page 42] Soveraignty; and Frederick the Third driven out of Hungary by Matthias Cor­vinus, who from a Prisoner stept up to the Royal Throne, &c.

And Alstedius tells us, that the Con­junction of Saturn and Jupiter in Fe­bruary, 1642. did foretell and portend the revolution of some new Empire and Government to fall out after it in Europe. The effect whereof in part (it's like) we have seen in this Nation already, and may live (if God so dis­pose of us) to see further of it yet in time to come.

But to pass this, and to come to that daily and usual course of Gods proceed­ings with us in the world. Here me­thinks there should be few, (though of ordinary capacities among us) but (if we be a little observing) may see this truth made good by the eye of our own experience, which tells us, that the Earth is either Fruitful or Barren, and the Air either Wholsome or Infectious, sutably to that measure and manner of influence they receive from them.

[Page 43]And therefore when God will at any time bring about some great change in the world, it is then easie to see how usually he fits his inferiour means, ac­cording to their several natures, for the orderly transacting of it in those stati­ons wherein he hath set them. As, when he will turn a fruitful Land into bar­renness, and again, a barren Land into fruitfulness, (which he promis'd his own people, Hos. 2.21.) there he tells them in what order he will work it: I will hear (says he) the Heavens, and they shall hear the Earth, and they shall hear Jezreel. For this is a sure rule, That the Supreme Cause of all doth not take away the natures and workings of Secondary Causes, but rather establish them: which is the reason of that Speech of God to Job, in the ordinary revolution of the times and seasons of the year, Job 38.31. Canst thou bind the sweet influences of the Pleiades, and loose the bonds of Orion?

[Page 44]Now the Pleiades are those we com­monly call the Seven Stars, that have their influence on the earth, by produ­cing sweet showres to the opening and refreshing of it, about the Spring of the year; and Orion is a Constellation most conspicuous in the Winter-season, as having a commissionary power to bind up the earth with Frosts. Again, canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season, (i.e. the twelve Signes successively after one another) or guide Arcturus with his Sons? (i. e. the Polar Star, as some will have it, with those ignes minores that wait upon him; or Bootes, as o­thers.) It is not then so much the Earth, as the Heavens that give us either fruit, or withhold it; they being the first ordinary means, whereby God uses to work out alterations in sublunary things.

The second Instrumental cause of these strange Vicissitudes here below, is the Will of Man: for though it have not a liberty to Spiritual, yet all grant [Page 45] it a liberty to external acts, and moral goodness. And this Liberty of Mans Will, doth God use as an under-wheel to turn about most of those Alterations that are in the world.

It is true, that Health and Sickness, Peace and War, Plenty and Scarcity, Riches and Poverty, proceed from God as the principal Efficient cause; but yet for all this we deny not but that God makes use both of our selves and others, as to the means of bringing them about. The life of Joseph was checquer'd with variety of accidents: for he is now a Slave to the Ismaelites, and by and by a Prince in Aegypt. Now these al­though they proceeded from God as the Author, yet was the will of his Bre­thren, as the will of Reuben and Ju­dah, the instruments of preserving his life, and the wills of his other Brethren the means of selling him into Aegypt.

Now because it is the Nature of In­struments to be subservient to the prin­cipal Agent, and to be determin'd by [Page 46] it; therefore give me leave here by the way to fasten this exhortation upon you, That in all Changes whatsoever you will look beyond the Instruments of them, unto God the Principal Agent. For so did Job in his losses, beyond the plundring Chaldeans and Sabeans, unto Dominus abstulit, The Lord hath given, and the Lord hath taken away; looking upon them as we use to do upon an Index, tantum in ordine ad Librum, only in order to the Book it self, Et in tran­situ ad Deum, in his passage unto God, who sets them a work, as to their natu­ral powers and faculties, though to the evil of them no otherwise, than by or­dering and over-ruling it to the good of his Children. And hence it is, that the wicked are called Gods Sword, as in the 17 Psalm, v. 13. Deliver my Soul (says David) from the wicked which is thy sword. And so must we in all those Losses that befal us here, have in our eye not so much the Sword, as the Hand that holds it: which will be one means, [Page 47] and a good one too, to bring us to Da­vids calm temper in the 39 Psal. 19. who says in the like condition, That he was dumb, and did not open his mouth, nor let fall an impatient word in it, be­cause it was Gods doing: And there­fore when Abishai would have taken away Shimei's life for cursing of David, No, (says he) Let him alone, Iussit enim Dominus, for the Lord hath bidden him curse; who then shall say, Wherefore hast thou done so? q. d. Who then dare ex­postulate with God, or call him to ac­count about it, as if he were unrighteous in it; since evil men are but Swords in Gods hand, who, when he hath once done his work by them, will either put them up again into his Scabbard, and lay them by, or else so blunt the edge of their power, that it shall not cut, or else break them a pieces, and throw them quite away? And so much for the Efficient Causes of Vicissitudes.

[Page 48]Next I shall speak to the Ends, or Final Causes of them.

And these are either Ex parte Dei, or Nostri; in respect of God, or our selves.

First, in respect of God; and so the Principal End why God rings such Changes upon all earthly things, and will have them disposed of after so va­rious a manner, is to make them by it the more tunable to his own Glory, which by this means is exceedingly magnifyed and advanced: but especi­ally in the Attributes of his Power, Truth, Wisdom, and Goodness.

1. In his Power and Omnipotency: that so he may let the world know, that the Finger of his Power is in all Transactions; and that he can do what­soever he will, both in Heaven and Earth, and yet changes not.

For why else did God work so ma­ny miraculous Changes in Aegypt by the hand of Moses?

[Page 49]Why turned he Moses Rod into aSerpent, and the Aegyptian waters into Blood?

Why their Dust into Lice and Flies, and their Light into Darkness for the space of three days together?

Why else Created he a new genera­tion of Frogs and Locusts among them?

Why unheard-of Diseases upon them­selves, and upon their Cattel?

Why destroyed he their Herbs and Fruit-trees with Hail, and their first-born with untimely death?

In a word, Why caused he the Red­sea to go out of its natural course and chanel, whereby it became a wall to the Israelites, and a grave to the Ae­gyptians?

Did not God all this to make known the glory of his power, in the preser­vation of the one and destruction of the other? Yes; For this cause (says God to Moses) I have raised thee up, to shew in thee my power, and that my Name may be declared in all the earth.

[Page 50]2. He advances also his Glory this way, by manifesting his Truth and Faithfulness: in that those things which are accidental in regard of us, and seem as impossible, yet are they exactly brought to pass in their due times and seasons. As in the bringing of the Is­raelites out of Aegypt, wherein God was full as good as his word, and kept touch with them to a day in their De­liverance, as you may see, Exod. 12.41. where we read, That it came to pass in the end of four hundred and thirty years, even the self-same day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out of the land of Aegypt. All Pharaoh's op­positions and tergiversations could not prorogue their Bondage so much as one day beyond the time prefixed of God, but serv'd only to fill up that Interim, or void space of time betwixt Gods Promise made to Abraham and his per­formance of it.

And if you ask by what intervals of time the truth of his promise came a­bout [Page 51] so punctually, Divines will tell you, That from Abraham's receiving of the promise, unto the birth of Isaac, were five and twenty years; sixty from thence to Jacobs birth; and to his death (which fell out presently upon their entrance into Aegypt) a hundred and thirty years. After which unto the death of Levi, who was Vltimus Patriarcharum, the last of the Patriarchs that survived, and in which space the Israelites were kindly entreated for Jo­seph's sake, were ninety four years; and a hundred and one and twenty more of cruel Bondage, until Moses came to deliver them from it in the Reign of Pharaoh Cencres.

All which particulars being gathered up together, do make up the compleat sum of four hundred and thirty years, and may serve to justifie God in all his sayings, and to clear his Truth in the least circumstance and punctilio of time, when it shall come to be judged.

[Page 52]For when once Gods appointed time is come to introduce a change, either for better or worse, among any people, then shall every breath of wind, how cross soever it seems to blow at the pre­sent, yet be so far from hindring Gods work in it, as that one way or other you shall find it in the sequel, to con­tribute its help and assistance to it.

3. God advances also his Glory this way, in the manifestation of his Wis­dom and Goodness; in that he makes a sweet harmony of so many different cords and changes, and frames a most admirable Order out of a seeming Dis­order and Confusion.

Many and divers are the qualities of Herbs, yet if a skilful Simpler hath the mixing of them, he knows how to make of them a well-relish'd and whol­some Sallade: So, many were the in­terchangeable passages that happen'd to Joseph; and had we the same, it may be we should think them very confused ones; but yet let the Wisdom and [Page 53] Goodness of God but lay them toge­ther, and we shall presently find, as Joseph did, the close of them all in a sweet Diapason.

For though all things, as to us, are floating up and down, to and again, by chance as it were and accident; [...], says Gregory Nazianzen; yet if we look to the order and appointment of Gods Providence, (which doth always most wisely contrive all events for the good of his Children) they are fixt and sta­ble, howbeit they may seem to go con­trary at the present.

And of Gods dealing in this kind we have Job an aminent example; who is to day the greatest man for Wealth and Honour in all the East, (and a Ta­blet of this is Greatness you may see in his 29 Chapter, which I desire you to read over at your leisure) wherein you shall find a whole series of worldly prosperity to wait upon him;) yet tomorrow he is poor, even to a by-word [Page 54] and proverb, As poor as Job: insomuch as he spends all the next Chapter in bemoaning his suddain change, begin­ning it with a But; which though a small Monosyllable, yet as the Helm of a Ship turns about the Vessel any way, so doth this But turn about Job, and all his former Honour and Prospe­rity, into the extremest contempt and adversity. But now, says he, they that are younger than I have me in derision, whose fathers I would have disdained to have set with the dogs of my Flock; and ending it with this doleful accent, verse last, versa est cithara mea in lu­ctum, & organum in vocem flentium; My harp is turned into mourning, and my organ into the voice of those that weep.

Yet all is well (we say) that ends well; and so it was with Job, which makes Saint James say, by way of sup­port unto Gods people in their afflicti­ons, Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; i. e. [Page 55] what good end God gave him in it; for the next day God brings a great deal of Light out of this Darkness, by a wise and gracious disposing of all that evil to him for the best, in giving him twice as much as he had at the first, and blessing his later end more than his beginning.

So that although for a time all those sad Changes that befell Job, seem'd even to cross the ordinary course of Gods care and Providence to him; yet in the conclusion you see how his Wis­dom and Goodness cut them all out, and made them serve to his greater Honour and Abundance.

And so much for the Ends or Final Causes in respect of God.

They follow now in respect of our selves.

And these are two: first to confirm our Faith; secondly to reform our Lives, and to work out by them good to his servants.

[Page 56]First, to confirm our Faith.

And so God brings many times great Changes into the world, to try, if amidst those shakings of outward things a­mong us, we will be shaken in our Faith, or not. That as the Apostle speaks of Heresies, 1 Cor. 11.19. Opor­tet esse Haereses, There must be Heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest; so say I, Opertat esse mutationes, There must be Changes: and these not so much in respect of the things themselves, which are in their own natures liable to alteration and dissolution; as in respect of Gods end in it, that they which are approved and sincere in the Faith, may be ma­nifested to be so, by their constancy and perseverance in it. That as there is a necessity of Fire to try Gold, whe­ther it be true or else counterfeit; so al­so is there a necessity of Changes: for by these it will appear, whether we will measure our Religion by outward things, and in the loss or enjoyment of them [Page 57] be lost in our Protestant Faith, yea or no.

There is nothing, Beloved, more discovers the Hypocrite than his Ingeni­um versatile, (as Livy said of Cato) than his turning humour in Religion: for which I do not say he shall be pla­gued in Hell, by being wheel'd about there continually without any relaxati­on, (though that may seem a punish­ment somewhat suitable to his Wea­thercock-disposition here upon earth;) no, Hoc nimis Ethnicum, This is too hea­thenish: but rather with the Prophet David, That he shall turn into Hell with all those that forget God, which is that portion of Hypocrites mentioned by our Saviour, Matth. 24. last.

For if an Apple be rotten at the coare, it will not hold long upon the Tree, but upon the least Wind will fall from it. And so it is with the rotten-hearted Hypocrite; if a little cross wind do but blow upon him, oh how soon doth he fall off from the Tree of [Page 58] Life, and become a wind-fall in his Religion, for the Devil that old Ser­pent to prey upon!

Every Cock-boat (you know) will bear up well enough in a calm sea: but that is a stout Vessel that can live in the most troubled water. And too too many there were in the Primitive times, that like Dr. Pendleton in Queen Maries days, boasted much of their Constancy in the Orthodox Faith during Constan­tines days, so long as God hedg'd about his Vineyard with Peace and Prosperity; but so soon as that Hedge was broken down, and erroneous, yea Heretical Doctrines were let in like so many Beasts of prey to devour, then how quickly did these prove Turncoats, and Apostates from the Faith!

But as for the true Christian, he is like a Rock,—Mediis immotus in un­dis; That although the waves are al­ways swelling against him, yet is he the same man still in his Reformed Religion, and wavers not: or else like that House [Page 59] built upon the Rock, against which the Floods came, and the Winds blew, but it fell not, because it was built upon a Rock.

And such a well-built house was St. Basil, who being threatned with death by Valens, if he would not advise fur­ther and turn Arrian, answer'd with this brave resolution, I need not any fur­ther advice than I have taken already a­bout this matter; for to morrow I shall be the same man that I am to day therein, and no other.

And here know that some things are of Necessity, wherein we cannot but change, as in natural, civil, and moral things; and to change in there is only humane.

Others again are of Duty: and these either prohibited, or enjoyn'd.

1. Prohibited, as in evil and errone­ous things: and to change here is pious and divine; and not to change, either Weakness or Obstinacy.

[Page 60]2. Enjoyn'd, as in sacred and religi­ous: and to change here is impious and Diabolical; and not to change, true Christian Fortitude and Constan­cy.

Whatsoever things we see then wheeling about in the world, as Go­vernments, Families and the like; nay, howsoever we may change our selves or be chang'd in some things of an indiffe­rent nature, by those that have domini­on over our Bodies and Estates; yet is there no man that hath dominion over our Faith: But this is Gods peculiar, and therefore in this we must not change.

It is not with saving Truths as it is with Clothes, which alter every year as the fashion doth: for the fashion of the world passes away (says St. John;) but true Religion is ever in fashion with good men, and alters not.

And herein we may justly take occa­sion to bewail the unsteadiness of some in these times, who are mere Scepticks in Religion, always conceiving some [Page 61] new Opinions in it, and always in pain till they be deliver'd of their new con­ceptions, though never so monstrous and deformed.

That which was truth with them ye­sterday, is no such thing to day; and what is so to day, is otherwise to mor­row; such Changelings there be in this last Age, who like the Moon do never appear the same two days toge­ther! And I would to God, (says St. Ambrose,) that their change were no worse than that of the Moon; for she re­turns again within a little time to her full light, but these never.

And he is blind that sees not this a­mong us, (namely) how some turn e­very day to Popish Superstition, but more to Anabaptistical Fancies; some unto Socinian Blasphemies, but most un­to Atheistical Notions, and all into Sen­suality; this being the common Sewer into which all the former run, and are ultimately resolved.

But as St. Paul said to his Galathians, [Page 62] so do I to such, O foolish Galathians, who hath bewithc'd you that you should not obey the Gospel? And it is a meta­phor, says one, from Sorcerers, who use to cast a mist before the peoples eyes, that so they may not take a right view of what is presented to them: As if he had said, Who hath cast a mist before the eyes of your understandings, to make that appear unto you for truth which indeed is not? What? Are ye so foolish, that having begun in the Spi­rit, ye will be perfected in the Flesh? So, Are ye so foolish, that having begun in truth, ye will end in falshood? or can ye be so simple, as to exchange Gold for Dirt, Wheat for Chaff, and your pretious Faith, as St. Peter calls it, which is the substance of things hoped for, for Errours of all sorts, and mere shadows of Truth? I trow not. For if Errour (as our Kingly Divine said well) have any advantage, it consists in Novelty: or if Truth any, it consists in Constancy.

[Page 63]Was the Doctrine then of the Re­formed Churches, and the Harmony of our Confessions grounded upon evident and pregnant Scriptures, maintain'd by the Orthodox and Primitive Fathers, and conveyed to us by the constant tra­dition of the Universal Church, the Faith of Christ once deliver'd to the Saints, and the Truth of God yester­day? why, so it is to day, and will be to morrow also. And therefore to day in our profession of it we must be as yesterday, and to morrow as this day: because as God is the same yesterday, to day, and for ever; so also is the Truth of God, That which was once so, will be so always, and cannot be o­therwise.

Oh that we would then be exhorted in the Apostles words, To stand fast in the Faith, to quit our selves like men, and be strong: and not to be as children, toss'd to and fro, and carried about with every wind of Doctrine; but to be as men in understanding, stedfast and im­moveable; [Page 64] that so God may have cause to glory on our behalf, as he did on Jobs, Hast thou consider'd (says God to Satan) my servant Job? So, hast thou consider'd such a servant of mine? Seest thou to how many changes I have subjected him? to changes in his Chil­dren, to changes in his Estate, to chan­ges in his Liberty, to changes in his Friends and Acquaintance? Nay, seest thou how many of his Brethren are chang'd of late, from a febrish distem­per before, now into a sleepy Lethar­gy? Seest thou how indifferent they are for their Religion round about him, and how many shaken reeds there are on every side of him? And yet for all this, as my servant Job did, so doth he still hold his integrity. But enough of this.

Secondly, Gods end also in it is, To reform our Lives, and do us good by his so various dispensations towards us Hence we read, Isa. 30.28. of a sieve of vanity, wherein God says, he will [Page 65] sift the Nations, and shake them to and fro one after another, that so he may winnow them from that chaff of sin that is within them. For why was Moab at ease from his youth? why set­led he upon his lees, and held still his corrupt tast? but because he was never disquieted, nor emptied from vessel to vessel, Ier. 48.11. Thus a sedentary life we find very subject to Diseases; and a long standing Prosperity to a Na­tion, is like a standing Pool, whose wa­ter doth soon puddle and putrifie. And this is the reason of that speech of Da­vid, Psal. 55.19. Because they have no Changes therefore they feare not God; ma­king by it the uncheckt prosperity of worldly men, a great occasion of their continuance in sin, and so an Index of Gods Wrath upon them, rather than of his special Favour to them.

And therefore now we have seen the Angel of God moving the waters of this Church and State by Intestine War, new Opinions in Religion, by Sects, di­visions, [Page 66] and the like; it will be good for us to meditate, how God hereby intends to purge us from that sinful filth that adheres to us, as our disrespect to Gods Ministers, and contempt of his Word, our Cruelty and Oppression, our Pride and Security, our Worldly-mindedness, and Hypocrisie.

Indeed men, who are the instruments of them, may have other ends in such Alterations, as to wreak their own spleen upon their Adversaries, to un­horse others, and get themselves into the Saddle either of Profit or Prefer­ment; (That as Demitrius the Silver­smith said, We get our gains by this means; so say they, We get our Honours and Estates by these means, for if the wa­ters had not been troubled, we had catch'd nothing:) or else to satisfie their own corrupt wills and pleasures; as the Author to the Hebrews says of earthly parents, That they chasten their chil­dren after their own pleasure, but God who is the Supreme Agent, he doth it [Page 67] for our profit, and not his own; there being no ends of gold and silver, no mere will or revenge in his end, but only our profit, and to take away the dross from the silver, that so he may bring forth (to use Solomon's expressi­on) a Vas electum a chosen Vessel, as St. Paul was, and fit for the Finer.

Thus the Scripture tells us of Jo­seph, how he was pass'd over from his brethren to the Ismaelites, and from them to Potiphar; and his Brethren had one end in it, but God another: for they did it for evil against him, (as he tells them himself) and to get twenty Pieces by the sale of him; but as for God, he meant it to him for good, and to save much people alive.

And so also was Christ the Antitype of Joseph, thrust (as we say) from post to pillar, viz. from Judas to Caiaphas, from him to Pilate, from Pilate to He­rod, from Herod back again to Pilate, and then into the hands of the clamo­rous and unreasonable multitude to be [Page 68] crucified; and Judas had one end in Christs death, but God another. The end of Judas in it was to silver his bag with thirty pieces, but Gods end was to sa­tisfie his own Justice, and to save Man­kind by it.

So that let mens sinful ends in these Changes and Alterations be what they will, yet is Gods end in it the gaining of glory to himself, by his taking away that sin and corruption which he sees contracted in us by a long standing se­curity. And if these changes of his be not as a gentle fire to purifie us, they shall be as a consuming fire to destroy us.

And so much for the Efficient and Fi­nal causes of Vicissitudes.

The Vses follow; and they are three.

First, To take us off from our greedy desire of worldly things.

Secondly, To unpride us in a prospe­rus condition.

[Page 69]Thirdly, To comfort and support us in an afflicted one.

And to this purpose there is a good saying of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, the best of all the Heathen Emperours, which is this:

Meditate (says he) with thy self how swiftly all things that subsist are carried away: for both the substances themselves are in a continual flux, and all actions in a perpetual change; yea the causes of them also, subject to a thousand alterations, nei­ther is there any thing that can be said to be setled or at a stand.

And from hence he draws this infe­rence: Art thou not then unwise, who for these things art either distracted with cares, puffed up too much with pride, or dejected with troubles?

And it may put many of us Chri­stians to the blush, who seldom make so good use of it as this Heathen did, though we have a far clearer light than he had to guide us to it.

[Page 70]First then, the consideration of this point, viz. The great Vicissitude and Inconstancy of all earthly things, may serve to wean our hearts from the plea­sing teat of this world, and to raise them up to that place where only fixed good is found.

Here we are all too apt with the rich fool to set down our rests, when (God knows) we have little or no cause so to do. Nescis enim, ah nescis serus quid vesper ferat; Since we do not know what the midwifery of this evening, nay less, of this hour or moment may help to bring forth.

It may be a change of our Estates into Beggery, by Fire, Thieves, and the like; or else of our Liberty into Thral­dome, or of our Health into Sickness; all these successively wheeling about, un­til at last our great change come from Life to Death, and swallow up the rest, as the sea doth the waters that fall into it.

[Page 71]Alas! here we are subject to a thou­sand casualties; but in Heaven, there, there we shall meet with no such altera­tions; for that is a Kingdom that can­not be shaken as earthly Kingdoms are, either by War, Factions, all-eating time, or the like. No, but there is Peace without War, Quiet without Trouble, Freedom without Thraldome, Day without Night, Health without Sick­ness, and Life without Death: whereas here it is far otherwise; for God takes away one it may be, with a Feaver, ano­ther with the Sword, as Saint Augustine reckons them up. Nay, he cuts off the spirits of Princes (says the Psalmist:) which Junius and Tremelius Translate by Vindemiat, i.e. he slips them off as a Vintager doth a Bunch of Grapes from a Tree, it is so quickly done. Even the highest enterpizes that the greatest Magnifico's of the earth undertake, God doth but blow upon them a little with the breath of his displeasure, and how soon are they blasted and shrink away to nothing!

[Page 72]An example of this we have in Xerxes, who went against Greece with a Million of men, and as many Ships as covered the Hellespont; as if he would have subdued the Sea, have put a hook into her jaws, and have led her away in triumph: yet how soon was his over­bold pride dashed in pieces by a hand­ful of Greeks! One and the same day saw him both happy and miserable; u­sing him as a tender and indulgent Mo­ther in the morning, but in the evening as a cruel and hard Stepdame.

Oh the folly then of those that lye always sucking at these earthly flowers, which are as various in their shapes, as ever Proteus was, and constant in no­thing save in their inconstancy!

It was the saying of Maximilian the Second, That every year of our life was a Climacterical year, and brought with it some great change or other.

And if every year be so changeable, what fools then are they that joyn land to land, and house to house, that they [Page 73] may dwell alone in the earth! yea what mean great men to pride it so much in their Babels here below, and out of a greedy desire of gain to run out of their own Chanels, and to call their Lands by their own names? For they that do thus, declare plainly that they think themselves to enjoy a setled estate here on earth, as if they should never see a change, or at least did not for the pre­sent look for in Heaven a better and more enduring substance, as the Author to the Hebrews speaks, Heb. 12.34.

And yet as the Prophet Isaiah com­plains, so may we, Quis credidit auditui nostro? who hath believed our report? or to whom is this truth of God revea­led? For it is strange to see how few among us do believe this, that both in our persons and estates we are so changeable.

But this is their way, says David, this is their foolishness.

For how soon did Galba start aside from the Empire. Degustans Imperium, [Page 74] tasting it only as Jonathan did the Ho­ney with the end of his Spear! How soon was Haman chang'd from the Mi­nion of the Court, to be the hang-by of the world!

Again, how soon was Nebuchadnez­zar chang'd, even from a Man to a Beast: and Herod from the highest of Men, to be Meat even for the lowest of Reptiles?

And the prosperity of Richard the Third was so short (says our incompa­rable Historian) that it took end ere himself could well look over it.

There is not any thing then that we can call constant here on earth; which makes the Author to the Hebrews, speaking of Abraham, say, That he look­ed for a City having foundations: Upon which one gives us this Note; That the Heavenly City can only be said to have properly a Foundation, whereas those Cities that are on earth, do shew plainly by their daily ruines, that they have no sure foundation to rest upon.

[Page 75]Oh let this be a means to take off the wheels of our Affections from their eager pursuit after earthly things, and set them upon things above, where the moth cannot come at them, nor thieves break through to steal. And let us look to that charge of the Apostle, 1 Tim. 6.17. Charge those that are rich in the world, that they trust not in uncertain Riches; or rather in Riches which are Uncertainty it self in the abstract; (for so the Greek runs it; [...] i.e. in the uncertainty of Riches.) And that we may in no wise doubt of this their uncertainty, the Wise man prefixes a note of certainty before this uncertain­ty, Certainly (says he) Riches make them­selves wings, and fly away as an Eagle towards Heaven: as if he should have said, Certainly Riches and all worldly things are as uncertain as a Bird that is upon the wing: and therefore we must not set our hearts upon them; but our daily prayer and practice must be, So to pass through things temporal, that so we [Page 76] do not loose those things that are eternal: or else with David, let us beseech God to incline our hearts unto his Testimonies, and not to Covetousness. Now this in­clining our hearts unto Gods Testimo­nies, is nothing else but that holy and penitential change of Heart and Life, or else that turning unto God with all our hearts, which God calls for at our hands, and expects from us in all his changes, whether personal or else Na­tional; which if he find in us, then let what changes soever fall, they shall all work together for our good: but if not, we must then look to be as a rowling stone, and to have our daily turns and changes in this life from one degree of misery to another, until at last we turn into Hell, as David speaks, with all those that forget God.

Secondly, The consideration of this point may be a good antidote against Pride in a prosperous Condition, since God hath so ordered the Web of our [Page 77] Lives, as that Adversity as well as Pros­perity is interwoven in it: For there is nothing that swells us up so much, as prospering here in worldly things; and nothing again that is more effectual to asswage this swelling in us, than to consider the brevity and mutability it is subject to.

Now it swells us up with a high o­pinion either of our own Goodness a­bove others, or else of our own Great­ness.

1. Our prospering in worldly things swells us up with a high opinion of our own Goodness above others; as

1. It makes us think our selves the only good men in Gods eye, because we are prosperous in the worlds; where­as indeed, this can be no certain rule to measure out any such thing by, since the world and the prosperity of it is so va­riable and uncertain.

And therefore, when at any time God shall water us more than others with the lower springs of his earthly [Page 78] Blessings, we are not therefore to have an overweening conceit of our selves, and our own causes, above others, (as if God upon this ground had tyed his special love either to us or them:) For you know that when God would chuse a King for Israel, he chose him not by outward and perishing excellen­cies, for then he would have chosen in the room of Saul, Eliab, Aminadab, or Shammah, who were the three elder brothers of David, and men of goodly personages to look upon; yet God chose none of these, (says the Text) but David the youngest of them, though not so outwardly, yet inwardly glorious, being a man after his own heart.

It is the chief Argument the Turks use at this day, to prove themselves the only Musselmen, or true believers; We thrive (say they) and prosper in the world: for how hath our Mahometa­nism over-run all Asia, Africk, and the greater part of Europe too! And do [Page 79] not they among us then reason more like Turks than Christians, who speak after this manner, Come, see how we bear down all before us, and ride upon the backs of the poor in triumph! Thus and thus do we prosper in the world, and do even what we list; and is not this an evident sign we are Gods Chil­dren, and that the right end of the staff is ours? Sure, if we were other than Gods peculiar people, he would not bless us so much as he doth.

But to these I answer, That these and such like are only Bona Scabelli, (as Di­vines distinguish well out of that place of Isaiah) and not Bona Throni, the Goods of Gods Footstool, (but earthen ware) and not the good things of his Throne, which are Grace and Glory; & therefore can set upon us only an earth­ly mark for men here to take notice of us, but not any heavenly cognizance for God to look upon us, as upon his dear and elect Children. For else it would easily follow, That the Alchoran were [Page 80] better than the Bible, and the Turks fancie better than our Faith of Christia­nity.

And were there no other signal place of Scripture for this, than that of the Prophet David in his 73. Psalm, (as in­deed there are very many) this alone (methinks) were enough to impress this as a truth upon us, where he speaks of some that are not in trouble like other men, but pride compasseth them about as a chain, violence covers them as a garment, their eyes stand out with fat­ness, and they have more than their heart can wish; yet these (says he) v. 12. are the ungodly who prosper in the world. And the Prophet Jeremy makes bold to question with God about it, in these words, Jer. 12.1, 2. Wherefore, says he, doth the wicked prosper? and why are all they in wealth that rebelliously transgress? and he rests satisfied with this, verse 3. That God did by that prosperity of theirs fatten them as sheep to the slaughter, and prepare them for [Page 81] the day of destruction. And this is that prosperity of fools that the Wise man speaks of, which will destroy them, Prov. 1.32.

It is not then our thriving in Tem­porals, but in Spirituals, that speaks us and our Faith to be accepted of God.

For the truth of Grace or Religion, and the goodness of a mans Cause, is not measured by the Souldiers Sword, but by the Word of God, which is the Sword of the Spirit.

God Saints no man for his goodly Personage, for his Riches, for his poli­tick head-piece of contriving, and bring­ing about his own worldly and sinister ends, or for his Arms and Conquests; for then Saul and Croesus Ahitophel and Alexander the Great had been high in Gods book: but he values Men only by their Spirituals, as their graces of Faith, Humility, Patience, Meekness, Obedience, and the like: and where he finds these, (how unfurnished soever they are otherwise) yet these are mine, [Page 82] saith the Lord; and in that day when I shall make up my Iewels, I will spare them, even as a Father doth his Son; and then shall ye discern between the righ­teous and the wicked, betwixt him that feareth God, and him that feareth him not.

Indeed God may sometimes permit evil to prosper in the world, but never approve of it: for so acknowledges the Jewish Church, Lament. 3.35. To turn a­side the right of a man before the face of the most High, or to subvert a man in his cause, the Lord approves it not. And therefore to argue from Gods permissi­on to his approbation, is a gross Non se­quitur, nay more, a laying our iniquity on Gods back, as if he would take it well at our hands to be made a Pack­horse at every turn to bear all our ex­ecrable burdens, and were (as David speaks) such a one as our selves, to fa­vour evil courses, or else to own them as his off-spring.

[Page 83]Which made Dionysius the elder conclude Sacriledge to be no sin, when he had rob'd the Temple at Locri, be­cause the Gods seem'd (as it were) to smile upon the action, in giving them fair Winds and Weather, both in their voyage thither and return back again.

But, as it was a great Blasphemy (says one) for the Devil to personate God, when he would be similis Altissi­mo; so is it greater to make God per­sonate the Devil. And yet this he doth, that makes God patronize his e­vil, because he prospers in it; for this brings in God saying, That he will be like the Prince of Darkness, and makes the Holy Ghost to leave his Dove-like shape, and come only to us in the form of a greedy Raven or Vultur.

2. As our prospering in worldly things swells us up too high with an opinion of our own Goodness, and makes us think better of our selves than is meet; so also doth it on the other [Page 84] side lift us up too far with thoughts of evil towards our brethren, and make us think worse of them, and the ways of God they walk in, than we should, by charging them as utterly deserted of God, because we see not now the same hedge of Gods favour about them as heretofore we did, but the stakes that then prop'd them up, are now thrown away as useless and unserviceable. Whereas Afflictions on this hand are e­very way as temporary and transient, as Prosperity was on the other; and being so, must needs be as a broken reed, or a reed of Egypt, wherewith we cannot exactly measure Gods Temple, nor the Spiritual estate of his Children.

It was a hard stumbling-block to the Prophet David for a time, when he says that his feet were almost gone, and his footsteps had well-nigh slipt, upon his sight of the wickeds prosperity; until he went into the Sanctuary of Gods Word, where he learnt to settle his wavering and distrustful thoughts: for [Page 85] there he saw, that notwithstanding his outward afflictions, that God held him up under that sore temptation with his right hand, and would (in opposition to transitory goods, which are the pro­per blessings of the wicked, because they have no others but these to trust unto) guide him with that which should infinitely exceed them, to wit, his Coun­sel here, and his Glory hereafter.

And it was the great question so much agitated betwixt Job and his Friends, Whether those doleful chan­ges that befel him were the cognizance of his insincerity to God, and of Gods disfavour to him upon it, yea or no. His Friends taking advantage upon his present weakness and distemper, main­tain it strongly against him in the affir­mative, that they were: until at length God himself steps in to the rescue of the weaker side, and makes the con­clusion (as all Logical conclusions do) to follow the weaker part, determining it for Job against his Opponents in the [Page 86] Negative, and telling them, that they spake not of Job, nor of his proceed­ings towards him that which was right, Job last, verse 7.

Seneca a Stoick Philosopher, hath a set discourse to this purpose, Cur bonis viris mala eveniant, why the evils of this life most commonly fall out to good men: and he concludes it thus, That temporal evils are no sign of Gods ha­tred to them. For, dost thou think (says he) that the Lacedemonians hated their Children, when as they experi­mented their disposition to virtue by stripes in publick? No. So, do we think Gods Children in disfavour with him, because he lays here sore blows upon their Bodies and Estates by evil men, as his rods and scourges in it? No; for we see and feel many times (says an experimental patient of our own well) the deep lines and strokes of Gods hand upon us, when as we can­not by our skill in Palmestry decipher his meaning in it, no more than the [Page 87] Malteses could by the viper upon Saint Pauls hand judge of his condition to God-ward.

For God sometimes (that we may not thus judge) inverts humane order, and runs out his dealings towards us in the ordinary chanel of his universal Pro­vidence, Justice and Equity, by which he waters here all alike.

Indeed they may seem (I grant) to go counter to our apprehended rules of common right: yet are they always a­greeing both with Gods secret and re­vealed will, though (like the Sun in its sphere) not perceptible to us, because too mysterious and dazzling: however, many pretend to interpret them by a blaze of fire lighted at the natural pride of their own private spirits, and that dimme twilight of knowledge which is in them; when as they are altogether in the dark to the true light of Gods word and works herein.

And here take in the opinion also of Epictetus another Stoick and Heathen [Page 88] man, which speaks most Christianly to this point, namely, That all are not ha­ted of God, who do wrastle here with variety of Miseries: but that there are with God good causes of it, though so secret that few can reach them.

And therefore, albeit we cannot see how these actings of God may stand with his tender love to his children, and so may conceive an ill opinion of them; yet when we shall think seriously, that Gods thoughts and ways are not as ours, it will teach us to give them a more fa­vourable interpretation.

For how dare humane rashness (says Saint Bernard) reprehend that which it cannot comprehend; in giving demon­strative reason why wordly prosperity should be Virtues stepdame, and not her natural mother!

But (to close up this Discourse) you see here by what hath been said, that it is a great errour (howbeit now grown more than popular) to judge of per­sons [Page 89] and causes by the events, whenas all outward things (says Solomon) fall alike to all, neither can any judge of love or hatred by what is before him: Pros­perity and Adversity being but separa­ble accidents to them, and no essential properties of them, because they are grounded upon worldly things, that have so loose and mouldring a founda­tion, as that a man cannot tell concern­ing them what a day may bring forth. Again,

2. As worldly prosperity swells us up with a high opinion of our own Goodness above others, so likewise of our own Greatness. And this makes us slight those that are under us, and deal hardly with them, (as to temporal things) which we would not do, if we once consider'd the mutability of it.

And therefore if at any time God shall give up unto us those we conceit our enemies, to be dealt with (if we will) by all harshness and extremity; yet are not we then to trample upon [Page 90] them in the pride of our hearts, nor to adde more load to that which God hath already laid upon them; but rather to take off from it what we can, and to use them with all gentleness and com­passion, with all mildness and moderati­on, as considering our selves, that we are not here to live always as Gods up­on earth, the same yesterday, to day and for ever: but what is the bitter cup of their portion to day, may be ours to morrow.

It speaks out but a coarse and igno­ble spirit, to crow and insult over those that are down. The very Heathen thought it so, who had only the glim­mering of Nature to guide them; much more ought we Christians, whom the Apostle exhorts, that our moderation may be known to all men. That as the Apostle will have his Corinthians to use the world with a tanquam, as if they used it not; so must they among us, that have wealth, power and authority, so use them, as if they used them not: [Page 91] that so when they shall fail us, (as they will ere long, since the wind blows not always out of one and the same favou­rable quarter) we may then be able to say with comfort, That we never mis­employed those talents of Gods out­ward favour to us unto the pressure and destruction of our Brethren, but only to their relief and preservation.

The Prophet David in his Tenth Psalm, speaks of some, who through the pride of their countenance do not seek after God, neither is God in all their thoughts. But their ways are always grievous; they puff at their enemies, and say in their hearts, they shall never be moved, nor be in adversity.

And such were the Babylonians, who (besides their barbarous cruelty to the Israelites under captivity) added this a­bove all, that they scoffed and jeered at them in their miseries, with Sing us now one of the Songs of Sion. So also were the Edomites, v. 7. who cryed o­ver Jerusalem in the day of her visi­tation, [Page 92] Rase it, rase it even to the foun­dations.

And were we sure that the sun of our earthly Happiness would always stand will in this our Gibeon, it may be we might take liberty to do the like, and think we did well in it too. But when as we come to consider seriously, that there is no Solstice here upon earth, but so soon as the Sun is come to his fur­thest Summer-point in our Horizon, it is then presently vertical, and turning a­gain to make winter-weather with us, how will this asswage that swelling of pride that is within us, and make us humble?

To this purpose there is a memorable History of Caganus King of the Huns, unto whom Theodorus Medicus being sent in an Embassy from Mauritius the Emperour, to divert those swarms of people wherewith Caganus at that time threatned to storm the Empire, he ap­ply'd himself to him in these words; Audi Cagane, utilem narrationem Seso­stris, [Page 93] &c. Hear, says he to Caganus, a profitable Narrative of Sesostris King of Aegypt, who being lifted up too high with his great successes against his ene­mies, caused four Kings taken prisoners to draw his Triumphal Chariot, where­in one of them looked back with smiles to the wheel of the Chariot, and being demanded his reason for it, answered, That he smiled to see the spoak of the wheel now at the top, to be presently at the bottom; and again, that which is now at the bottom, to be by and by at the top. The very hearing whereof did so mol­lifie, and keep down the haughty Prin­ces spirit, that it drew him a little to forbear his acts of hostility against the Emperour.

And from this Topick also of volu­bility, did Croesus draw an argument to disswade Cyrus from his intended inrode into Scythia: for if thou didst lead (says he) an immortal Army, then is there no need for thee to ask my ad­vice in it; but if thou dost acknowledge [Page 94] thy self a man, and a leader of mor­tals, then think that there is a wheel of humane affairs that turns about con­tinually, and suffers nothing here be­low to stand long upon the same bot­tom.

But this advice of Croesus took no place with Cyrus; If it had, he would have kept himself (as the Tortoise doth) intra testudinem, within his own shell, within his own dominions, and not have causelesly usurped upon the rightful possessions of others to his own destru­ction: for see the issue and event of it!

Even that God who is infinite in his Wisdom, and terrible in his Power and Justice, he that resists the proud, and looks upon them afar off, He (I say) made the pride of Cyrus serve as a snare to take himself in, and to work his ruine: for he was no sooner entred Scythia, but he found by sad experi­ence how unconstant the World wa [...] not looking now upon him with [...] [Page 95] smiling aspect it did before; but the wind was now in another quarter, and (as the Wise man says or Riches, that they make themselves wings and fly away) so did his former prosperity betake her self now to her wings, and flew away, his whole Army being quite defeated, and himself slain by Tomyris Queen of Scythia.

A good example to make the secure wretch look about him, and to pull down the high looks of the proud.

And therefore when ever any flush­ing of pride begins to rise within thee, and to bud forth, as it is in Ezekiel, in­to violence, and oppression of others, then think thou hearest some Monitor calling unto thee, as King Philips Page did to him, Memento te esse mortalem, remember that thou art Mortal: so, re­member that thou art changeable as well as others, and this will be an excel­lent means to keep it in.

For tell me, would Cyrus, think you, have invaded Scythia, had he thought [Page 96] so sad a fate would have attended him in it?

Or would Pharaoh have oppress'd the Israelites so much, had he thought that God would have tumbled him up and down so much as he did, from one plague to another, and at last made the sea his champion to revenge their inju­ries upon him?

Or would Joseph's brethren have per­secuted him as they did, if they had thought he should afterwards have been lord over them?

Or the Gileadites have expelled Jeph­tha, had they known he would have been such a shelter against a storm, and of such use unto them against the Am­monites?

Or (to say no more) would Darius have call'd Alexander Philip's boy in de­rision of him, had he known that he should have been conquered by him?

No, little do proud men think that the water which is now in the float, will presently be in the ebbe; and that [Page 97] the spoak of the wheel which is now at the top, may quickly be at the bot­tome: and then he that is the greatest now among us, may come (how soon he knows not) to stand in need of the meanest creature whom he now despi­ses.

It is wisdome then for every Christi­an, when as he is at the top of the wheel, and may lord it over those that are be­neath, yet not to overlook them with a scornful eye, but to let down his spi­rit, and (as the Apostle exhorts us) to condescend to men of low degree: For one scale is not always in depression. No, This were dura infoelicitas, a very hard and high measure of infelicity. Neither is the other always in elevati­on: This were foelicitas miseranda, a happiness to be pitied. But the alter­nate wave of the beam keeps them both in awe, and especially the proud per­son, who seems unto me as a bird tied to a string, which if it fly too high, the hand draws in the string and pulls it [Page 98] down again. And so if we shall let out our spirits too high with pride, God hath then a line of vicissitude in his hand to pull us in at his pleasure.

The Prophet David said in his pro­sperity, that he should never be moved, his mountain was made so strong; yet God did but hide his face from him a little, and he was troubled.

Naturally then we are too apt to know no measure in a high fortune; but (as a person of Honour and Piety in this Nation said) although in the heat of summer we easily believe there will come after it a cold season of frost and snow, yet are we so stupid as in Pro­sperity not to consider of Adversity, though the one be as successive as the other. And this makes us to exalt our selves so much above all that is called God. That as it is observable touching the Book of Esther (which is nothing else but a Declaration of acts done in reference to the Greatness, Power and Glory of Ahasuerus the Persian Mo­narch, [Page 99] as to the principal instrument of them) that in that whole Book the Name of God is not so much as mentioned at all: So doth it also commonly fall out, that while we are here in the ruff of our worldly Glory and Prosperity, we seldom or never speak of God, and as seldome think of him, but set our selves up in his room, as Nebuchadnez­zar did, who spake too big, and too much of himself, saying, Is not this great Babel that I have built for the house of my Kingdom, by the might of my pow­er, and for the honour of my majesty? As the fly said in the Apologue when it was got up to the top of the wheel, See what a dust I make! So, see what a dust makes this poor Worm, what a Mying there is with him in the height of his pride! nothing but my Kingdom, my Power, and my Majesty: but as for God, Ne gry quidem, There is not a word of him; He is not in all his thoughts.

[Page 100]And therefore how soon the house of his Kingdom fell upon his head, yea how short-liv'd the might of his power was, and the honour of his Majesty, you may see by the next verse, where it is said, That while the word was in the Kings mouth, there fell a voice from Heaven, saying, O Nebuchadnezzar, to thee be it spoken, Thy Kingdom is depar­ted from thee.

The world then may well be com­pared to the Sea of glass which Saint John saw in his vision, Revelat. 4.6. and there be also, that from the resemblance of the one to the other, interpret it thus. For

First, It resembles the Sea either for its ebbing and flowing; or else for the suddain change of it: for how soon is the face of the Sea alter'd? in one and the same hour (it may be) thou mayst see her smiling upon thy vessel, and frowning too; playing with it, and swallowing it up. Noli igitur (says the Moralist) tranquillitati ejus credere, i.e. [Page 101] Do not therefore trust too much to her smooth and calm looks; in hoc enim mo­mento mare evertitur, for in one moment doth she appear wrinkled vvith bil­lovvs, and turns about from a calm unto a storm.

Secondly, It resembles also glass, and that either for its brittleness, because nothing is sooner broken: or else for its slipperiness, because he that walks upon glass can have no sure footing; and therefore for any man to presume upon the steadiness of it, must needs be very dangerous.

That as the ancient Romans used to distinguish their days into Dies albi, and Dies atri, white and black days: so doth God, and there is no man but hath the later of these as well as the former, his black as well as his white days.

Oh the madness then of wicked men, vvho are alvvays plotting against the righteous, and gnashing upon them vvith their teeth! At ridebit Deus, says Da­vid, But God shall laugh at them for it: [Page 102] and he gives this reason, v. 13. because he sees that their day is coming, i. e. he sees clearly that their black and dismal day is coming upon them, though them­selves will not see it through the pride and security of their spirits; yea, and he knows also punctually when it will be, though we know it not: for though to day may be fair and shining, yet may to morrow be dark and tempestuous with them; since we know not what a day may bring forth.

Last of all, (because I am loath that my Sun should set in a cloud) The con­sideration of this point may serve as a good antidote against despair in an af­flicted condition; or as a cordial to stay up our spirits in the saddest and most distressed times, and to teach us pati­ence and contentedness in them: that so as in prosperity we should not say, we shall never be moved, so neither in adversity, that we shall never be deli­vered; when we shall consider, that what weight of affliction soever we lye [Page 103] under, is not of a continuant, but of a changeable nature. And to this end we have the sure staff of Gods pro­mise unto his children to lean upon, as in the tenth Chapter to the Hebrews, where he says thus, Yet a little while, or rather as it runs in the Greek, yet how very very little while, (with a double diminutive) and he that shall come, will come, and will not tarry. And in the precedent verse he tells them, they have need of patience, that they may re­ceive this promise. And in the twelfth Chapter to the Hebrews, the Apostle takes up an exhortation to it from the Wise man, and makes a consolatory use of it to his Hebrews, withal taking them to task for their forgetfulness of it; And ye have forgotten the exhortati­on which speaks unto you, as unto children: My Son, despise not thou the chastning of the Lord, nor faint, or be not broken in mind (as others translate it) when thou art rebuked of him. For we had (says he) the fathers of the flesh, who verily [Page 104] chastened us a few days after their own pleasure, and we were patient under their rod, and gave them reverence, but God a few days only, for our profit. Shall we not then be much rather in sub­jection to him who is the father of spirits, and live?

Thus when Boetius, that Christian Consul and Martyr at Rome, was wrong­fully deprived by Theodoricus of his Honours, Estate and Liberty, Philoso­phy brings in what we call Gods Provi­dence, comforting him in these words:

I turn about my wheel continually, and delight to tumble things upside down; why then doth thy heart shrink within thee, when as this changeable­ness of mine is cause enough for thee to hope for better things?

And so also, when many of our Bre­thren were heretofore in Exile for their Religion in Queen Maries days, what (I pray) did that Jewel of our Church comfort them with, but onely this, Haec non durabunt, aetatem; These will not [Page 105] endure an Age? as indeed you know they did not, her Reign being not full out six years time.

And with the same consideration also should we chear up our selves now un­der that black cloud that hangs over the Church, that it will not endure an Age, but be as Ephraim's righteousness was, even as the morning cloud, or as the early dew that passes away.

To this end, it will not be amiss to note, how the afflictions of Gods people in the Scripture, are run out not by a­ny long tract of time, as by an Age, Year, Month, Week, or the like; but by the shortest measures that can be, as by a Day: now a Day (you know) holds not long, but is quickly gone, e­ven as a flying Bird, or a Poast that run­neth by. And thus good Hezekiah calls the time of Sennacheribs rage against Judah, a Day of trouble, Isa. 37. v. 3.

Or if this be not enough, you have them then contracted within a lesser room, and measur'd onely by a Night, [Page 106] which is no more but the dark side of a natural Day, and therefore is a great deal shorter. And this made the Pro­phet David say, Psal. 30. v. 5. That heaviness may endure for a Night, but joy cometh in the Morning. The time then that heaviness shall endure to the God­ly can be but a Night at the longest, but whether it shall be so long or no, the Prophet is very uncertain and unsa­tisfied, for which cause he expresses it here with a May be, Heaviness may en­dure for a Night.

But if this expression be not full e­nough to set forth the brevity of them, our Saviour doth it then by an Hour, which is shorter yet, and but the four and twentieth part of a natural Day; for so he calls the time of his persecu­tion by the High Priests and Elders of the people, Their hour, and the power of Darkness, Luke 22.53.

Or, if this be yet too long a space to set forth the brevity of their afflictions, and to give a through Comfort to Gods [Page 107] people, their little continuance is then express'd by a Moment, which I am sure is short enough; so you have it Isa. 54. v. 7. For a small moment (says God to his Church) have I forsaken thee, but with great mercy will I gather thee: And again, v. 8. In a little wrath I hid my Face from thee for a moment, but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy upon thee.

Or last of all, if any time can be shorter than this, it must then be the present time; yet such are the suffer­ings of Gods children, in St. Pauls ac­count, but the sufferings of the present time, Rom. 8.18. and a shorter time than this there cannot be. For as the French our Neighbours are said to be for their inconsiderateness, Animalia sine praeterito & futuro, Creatures that have respect neither to time past nor time to come: so may we say of the present time, That it is as short a measure as can possibly be imagined, having in it nothing either of time past [Page 108] or future, the first of the two being dead already, and the later of them being not yet born unto us. And yet we see here for all this, that St. Paul, when he had cast up the account of all which he suffered in the cause of Christ, how he reckons and concludes it to be one­ly the suffering of the present time, and not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed.

A Prayer.

ALmighty God, who rulest the Sea of this World by thy power, and whose paths are in the roughest Waters; We the unworthiest of all thy Servants commit our frail Barks, with all that we have, to the Steerage of thee our great Pilot, and faithful Preserver: beseech­ing thee so to order by thy good hand of Providence all outward contingencies to us, that we may be able to bear up through them with a steady and even Course, against the several Storms we shall meet with in this passage to our blessed Harbour of Eternity. And how­ever earthly things may like Watery Billows be every day rowling up and down in their vicissitudes about us; yet suffer, oh suffer not the Heavenly truth of our Reformed Religion to flote about any longer so uncertainly among us, [Page 110] nor our selves to be as Children toss'd to and fro with every Wind of Doctrine. But let us be constant and unwavering in the profession of that Holy Faith we have received; and (Thou that art the God of Truth) be graciously pleased to stay us up firmly in it by the sacred Scriptures, which are thy Word of Truth, and the sole Anchor of our Faith to rest upon. Lord, pull in the Sails of our desires to­wards fleeting and transitory substances: for who will cast his eyes upon that which hath wings to flee away as an Eagle to­wards Heaven! Ballast our Spirits with Humility in a prosperous condition; and when we have the highest and most plea­sing Gale of the worlds favour for us, give us to strike our spreading Sails of Pride, and to make our Lenity and Mode­ration to be known to all men, for the Lord is nigh at hand. But if thou in thy just judgment against us for our mani­fold and hainous sins, shalt cause some cross wind or other to blow upon us, and give us over to Shipvvrack in our tempo­rals; [Page 111] Supply then, we entreat thee, their want with thy spirituals of Patience, Faith, and other suffering graces; That although the tempest be never so boisterous with­out, yet we may enjoy within a Christian calmness of Spirit, in a happy quietude and contentedness of mind with all thy dealings towards us, and not set down our rest upon the Creature, which is so restless with us, but amidst the sundry and various changes of the world, may there fix our Hearts, where onely true and unchangeable joys are to be found, through Jesus Christ our Lord.


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