THat the thanks of this House be given to Mr. Bax­ter for his great pains in carrying on the work of Preaching and Prayer, before the House at Saint Margarets Westminster yesterday, being set apart by this House for a day of Fasting and Humiliation. And that he be desired to Print his Sermon, and is to have the same Priviledge in Printing the same, that others have had in the like kind.

And that Mr. Swinfin do give him notice thereof.

W. Jessop Cler. of the Commons House of Parliament.

[Page] A SERMON OF REPENTANCE. Preached before the Ho­nourable House of Commons, Assembled in Parliament at Westminster, at their late so­lemn Fast for the setling of these Nations, April 30. 1660. By Richard Baxter.

LONDON, Printed by R. W. and A. M. for Francis Tyton and Jane Underhil, and are to be sold at the sign of the three Daggers in Fleet-street, and at the Bible and Anchor in Pauls Church-Yard, 1660.


AS your Order for my Preach­ing, perswaded me you meant attentively to hear; so your Order for my publishing this Sermon, perswaded me that you will vouchsafe [Page] considerately to read it. (For you would not command me to publish only for others, that which was prepared for, and suited to your selves.) Which second favour if I may obtain, especi­ally of those that need most to hear the doctrine of Repentance, I shall hope that the Authority of the heavenly Ma­jesty, the great concernment of the sub­ject, and the evidence of Reason, and piercing beams of sacred verity, may yet make a deeper impression on your souls, and promote that necessary work of Holiness, the fruits whereof would be effectual remedies to these diseased Nations, and would conduce to your own everlasting joy. Shall I think it were presumption for me to hope for so high a reward for so short a labour? Or [Page] shall I think it were uncharitableness not to hope for it? That here is nothing but plain English, without any of those Or­naments, that are by many thought ne­cessary, to make such discourses grateful to ingenuous curious auditors, proceeded not only from my present want of ad­vantages for study (having and using no book but a Bible and a Concordance,) but also from the humbling and serious nature of the work of the day; and from my own inclination, less affecting such ornaments in sacred discourses, then formerly I have done. It is a very great honour that God and you have put upon me, to conclude so solemn a day of prayer, which was answered the next morning, by your speedy, and cheerful, and unani­mous acknowledgement of his Majesties [Page] authority. May I but have the second part, to promote your salvation, and the happiness of this Land, by your conside­ring and obeying these necessary Truths, what greater honour could I expect on earth? Or how could you more oblige me to remain

A daily Petitioner to Heaven for these mercies, on your own and the Nations behalf, Rich. Baxter.


EZEK. 36. 31.‘Then shall ye remember your own evil wayes, and your doings that were not good, and shall loath your selves in your own sight, for your iniquities, and for your abo­minations.’

THE words are a part of Gods prog­nosticks of the Jews restoration, whose dejecton he had before descri­bed. Their disease begun within, and there God promiseth to work the cure. Their captivity was but the fruit of their voluntary captivity to sin; and their grief of heart, was but the fruit of their hardness of [Page 2] heart; and their sharpest sufferings, of their foul pollu­tions; and therefore God promiseth a methodicall cure; even to take away their old and stony heart, and cleanse them from their filthiness, and so to ease them by the removing of the cause. How far, and when this promise was to be made good to the Jews, as Nationally considered, is a matter that requires a longer disquisition then my limited hour will allow: and the decision of that case is needless, as to my present end and work. That this is part of the Go­spel-Covenant, and applicable to us Believers now, the Holy-Ghost in the Epistle to the Hebrews hath assured us.

The Text is the description of the Repentance of the people, in which the beginning of their recovery doth consist, and by which the rest must be attained. The evil which they Repent of is, in general, all their iniquities, but especially their idolatry, called their abominations. Their Repentance is foretold, as it is in the understanding and thoughts, and as in the will and affections. In the former its called [Remembring their own evil wayes] In the latter its called [Loath­ing themselves in their own sight, for their iniquities and abominations. Montanus translates it [Reprobabitis in vos]: but in c. 20. v. 43. [fastidietis vos] The same sense is intended by the other versions: When the Septuagint translates it by [displeasure] and the Chaldee by [groaning] and the Syriack by [the wrinkling of the face] and the Sept. in c. 20. 43. by [smiting on the face:] the Arabick here perverts the sense, by turning all to Negatives [ye shall not, &c.] yet in c. 20. 43. he turns it by [the tearing of the [Page 3] face.] I have purposely chosen a Text, that needs no long explication, that in obedience to the fore­seen straits of time, I may be excused from that part, and be more on the more necessary. This Observati­on contains the meaning of the Text, which by Gods assistance, I shall now insist on: viz.

The Remembring of their own iniquities, and loathing themselves for them, is the sign of a Repenting people, and the prognostick of their Restoration. (So far as deli­verance may be here expected.)

For the opening of which, observe these things following.

1. It is not all kind of [Remembring] that will prove you penitent. The impenitent Remember their sin that they may commit it: They Remember it with love, desire and delight: The Heart of the worldling goeth after his aery or earthen idol: The heart of the Ambitious feedeth on his vain-glory, and the peoples breath: And the filthy Fornicator is delighted in the thoughts of the object and exercise of his lust. But it is a Remembring, 1o From a deep conviction of the evil and odiousness of sin; 2o And with abhorrence and self-loathing; 3o That leadeth to a resolved and vigilant forsaking, that is the proof of true Repentance, and the prognostick of a peoples restoration.

2. And it is not all self-loathing that will signifie true Repentance. For there is a self-loathing of the Desperate and the damned soul, that abhorreth it self, and teareth and tormenteth it self, and cannot be re­strained from self-revenge, when it finds that it hath wilfully, foolishly and obstinately been its own de­stroyer: [Page 4] But the self-loathing of the truly penitent, hath these following properties.

1. It proceedeth from the predominant Love of God, whom we have abused and offended: The more we Love him, the more we loath what is con­trary to him.

2. It is much excited by the observation and sense of his exceeding mercies, and is conjunct with Gra­titude.

3. It continueth and encreaseth under the great­est assurance of forgiveness, and sense of love; and dyeth not when we think we are out of danger.

4. It containeth a Loathing of sin as sin (and a Love of Holiness as such) and not only a love of ease and peace, and a loathing of sin as the cause of suffering.

5. It resolveth the soul against returning to its former course, and resolveth it for an entire devoted­ness to God for the time to come.

6. It deeply engageth the penitent in a conflict against the flesh, and maketh him victorious; and setteth him to work in a life of holiness as his trade and principal business in the world.

7. It bringeth him to a delight in God and holi­ness; and a delight in himself, so far as he findeth God, and Heaven, and Holiness within him: He can with some comfort and content own himself and his conversation, so far as God (victorious against his carnal self) appeareth in him. For as he loveth Christ in the rest of his members, so must he in him­self. And this is it that self-loathing doth prepare for.

This must be the self-loathing that must afford you [Page 5] comfort, as a penitent people in the way to restora­tion.

Where you see it is implyed, that materially it containeth these common acts. 1. Accusing and Condemning thoughts against our selves. It is a judg­ing of our selves, and makes us call our selves with Paul, foolish, disobedient, deceived, yea mad (as Acts 26. 11.) and with David to say, I have done foolish­ly, 2 Sam. 24. 10. 2. It containeth a deep distaste, and displeasure with our selves; and a heart-rising against our selves. 3. As also an holy indignation against our selves; as apprehending that we have plaid the enemies to our selves and God. 4. And it possesseth us with grief and trouble at our miscarriages. So that a soul in this condition is sick of it self, and vexed with its self-procured woe.

2. Note also, that when self-loathing proceedeth from meer conviction, and is without the Love of God and holiness, it is but the tormentor of the soul, and runs it deeper into sin; provoking men here to destroy their lives; and in hell it is the never dying worm.

3. Note also, that it is [themselves] that they are said to loath: because it is our selves that consci­ence hath to do with, as witness and as judge: It is our selves that are naturally nearest to our selves; and our own affairs that we are most concerned in. It is our selves that must have the Joy or Torment: and therefore it is our own actions and estate that we have first to mind. Though yet as Magistrates, Mi­nisters, and neighbours, we must next mind others, and must loath iniquity wherever we meet it; and a [Page 6] vile person must be contemned in our eyes, while we ho­nour them that fear the Lord, Psal. 15. 4.

And as by Nature, so in the Commandment, God hath given to every man the first and principal care and charge of himself, and his own salvation, and consequently of his own wayes. So that we may with less suspition loath our selves, then others; and are more obliged to do it.

4. Note also, that it is not for our troubles, or our disgrace, or our bodily deformities or infirmities, or for our poverty and want, that penitents are said to loath themselves: But for their iniquities and abomi­nations. For 1o this loathing is a kind of Justice done upon our selves; and therefore is exercised not for meer infelicities, but for crimes. Conscience keepeth in its own Court, and medleth but with moral evils, which we are conscious of. 2o And also it is sin that is loathed by God, and makes the creature loathsom in his eyes: And Repentance conformeth the soul to God, and therefore causeth us to loath as he doth, and on his grounds. And 3o there is no Evil but sin, and that which sin procureth. And therefore it is for sin that the penitent loaths himself.

5. Note also, that it is here implyed, that till Re­pentance, there was none of this Remembring of sin, and Loathing of themselves. They begin with our conversion, and (as fore-described) are proper to the truly penitent. For (to consider them distinct­ly) 1o The deluded soul that is bewitched by its own concupiscence, is so taken up with Remembring of his fleshly pleasures, and his alluring objects, and his honours, and his earthly businesses and store, that he [Page 7] hath no mind or room for the Remembring of his foolish odious sin, and the wrong that he is doing to God and to himself. Death is oblivious: and Sleep hath but a distracted uneffectual memory, that stirreth not the busie dreamer from his pillow, nor dispatch­eth any of the work he dreams of. And the uncon­verted are asleep and dead in sin. The crowd of cares and worldly businesses; and the tumultuous noise of foolish sports, and other sensual passions and delights, do take up the minds of the unconverted, and turn them from the observation of the things of greatest everlasting consequence. They have a memory for sin and the flesh, to which they are alive; but not for things spiritual and eternal, to which they are dead. They Remember not God himself as God, with any effectual remembrance: God is not in all their thoughts, Psalm 10. 4. They live as without him in the world, Eph. 2. 12. And if they remember not God, they can­not remember sin as sin, whose malignity lyeth in its opposition to the Will and Holiness of God. They forget themselves, and therefore must needs forget their sinfulness: Alas, they remember not (effe­ctually and savingly) what they are, and why they were made, and what they are daily nourished and preserved for, and what business they have to do here in the world. They forget that they have souls to save or lose; that must live in endless joy or torment: you may see by their careless and ungodly lives, that they forget it. You may hear by their carnal frothy speech, that they forget it. And he that remembreth not him­self, remembreth not his own concernments. They forget the end to which they tend: The life which [Page 8] they must live for ever. The matters everlasting (whose greatness and duration, one would think should so command the mind of man, and take up all his thoughts and cares, in despight of all the little trifling matters that would avert them, that we should think almost of nothing else; yet) these, even these, that nothing but deadness or madness should make a reasonable creature to forget, are daily forgotten by the unconverted soul, or uneffectually remembred. Many a time have I admired, that men of reason that are here to day, and in endless joy or misery to morrow, should be able to forget such unexpressible concernments! Me thinks they should easier forget to rise, or dress themselves, or to eat or drink, or any thing, then to forget an endless life, which is so un­doubtedly certain, and so near. A man that hath a cause to be heard to morrow, in which his life or ho­nour is concerned, cannot forget it: A wretch that is condemned to die to morrow, cannot forget it. And yet poor sinners, that are continually uncertain to live an hour, and certain speedily to see the Majesty of the Lord, to their unconceivable joy or terrour, as sure as now they live on earth, can forget these things for which they have their memory; and which one would think should drown the matters of this world, as the report of a Canon doth a whisper, or as the Sun obscureth the poorest glow-worm. O wonder­ful stupidity of an unrenewed soul! O wonderful folly and distractedness of the ungodly! That ever men can forget, I say again, that they can forget, eter­nal joy, eternal woe, and the eternal God, and the place of their eternal unchangeable abode, when [Page 9] they stand even at the door, and are passing in, and there is but the thin vail of flesh between them and that amazing sight, that eternal gulf; and they are daily dying, and even stepping in. O could you keep your honours here for ever; could you ever wear that gay attire, and gratifie your flesh with meats, and drinks, and sports, and lusts; could you ever keep your rule and dignity, or your earthly life in any state, you had some little poor excuse for not re­membring the eternal things, (as a man hath, that preferreth his candle before the Sun:) But when death is near and inexorable, and you are sure to die as you are sure you live; when every man of you that sitteth in these seats to day can say, [I must shortly be in another world, where all the pomp and plea­sure of this world will be forgotten, or remembred but as my sin and folly] one would think it were impossible for any of you to be ungodly; and to Remember the trifles and nothings of the world, while you forget that everlasting All, whose reality, necessity, magni­tude, excellency, concernment and duration, are such, as should take up all the powers of your souls, and continually command the service and attendance of your thoughts, against all Seekers, and con­temptible competitors whatsover. But, alas, though you have the greatest helps (in subserviency to these commanding objects) yet will you not Remember the matters which alone deserve remembrance. Some­times the Preachers of the Gospel do call on you to Remember; to Remember your God, your souls, your Saviour, your ends and everlasting state, and to re­member your misdoings, that you may loath your selves, [Page 10] and in Returning may find life: But some either scorn them, or quarrel with them, or sleep under their most serious and importunate solicitations, or carelesly and stupidly give them the hearing, as if they spoke but words of course, or treated about uncertain things, and spoke not to them from the God of heaven, and about the things that every man of you shall very shortly see or feel. Some­time you are called on by the voice of conscience within, to remember the unreasonableness and evil of your wayes: but conscience is silenced, because it will not be conformable to your lusts. But little do you think what a part your too-late-awakened con­science hath yet to play, if you give it not a more sober hearing in time. Sometime the voice of com­mon calamities, and National or local judgements do call on you to remember the evil of your wayes: But that which is spoken to all, or many, doth seem to most of them as spoken unto none. Sometime the voice of particular judgements, seizing upon your fa­milies, persons or estates, doth call on you to remem­ber the evil of your wayes: And one would think the rod should make you hear. And yet you most disregardfully go on, or are only frightened into a few good purposes and promises, that die when health and prosperity revive. Sometime God joyn­eth all these together, and pleadeth both by word and rod, and addeth also the inward pleadings of his Spirit: He sets your sins in order before you, Psal. 50. 21. and expostulateth with you the cause of his abused love, despised Soveraignty and provoked Justice; and asketh the poor sinner, Hast thou done [Page 11] well to waste thy life in vanity? to serve thy flesh? to forget thy God, thy soul, thy happiness? and to thrust his service into corners, and give him but the odious leavings of the flesh?] But these pleas of God cannot be heard. O horrible impiety! by his own creatures! by reasonable creatures (that would scorn to be called fools or mad men) the God of heaven cannot be heard. The brutish, passionate, furi­ous sinners, will not Remember. They will not Re­member, what they have done, and with whom it is that they have to do, and what God thinks and saith of men in their condition; and whither it is that the flesh will lead them? and what will be the fruit and end of all their lusts and vanities? and how they will look back on all at last? and whether an holy or a sensual life will be sweetest to a dying man? and what judgement it is that they will all be of, in the controversie between the flesh and spirit, at the later end? Though they have life, and time, and reason for these uses, we cannot entreate them, to consider of these things in time. If our lives lay on it, as their salvation, which is more, lyeth on it, we cannot intreate them. If we should kneel to them, and with tears beseech them, but once a day, or once a week, to bestow one hour in serious consideration of their latter end, and the everlasting state of Saints and sinners, and of the equity of the holy wayes of God, and the iniquity of their own, we cannot pre­vail with them. Till the God of heaven doth over­rule them, we cannot prevail. The witness that we are forc't to bear, is sad: It is sad to us: but it will be sadder to these rebels, that shall one day know, [Page 12] that God will not be out-faced; and that they may sooner shake the stable earth, and darken the Sun by their reproaches, then out-brave the Judge of all the world, or by all their cavils, wranglings or scorns, escape the hands of his revenging Ju­stice.

But if ever the Lord will save these souls, he will bring their misdoings to their remembrance. He will make them think of that, which they were so loth to think on. You cannot now abide these trou­bling, and severe meditations: The thoughts of God, and Heaven, and Hell, the thoughts of your sins, and of your duties, are melancholly unwel­come thoughts to you: But O that you could fore­know the thoughts that you shall have of all these things! Even the proudest, scornful; hardened sinner that heareth me this day, shall shortly have such a Remembrance, as will make him wonder at his pre­sent blockishness. O when the unresistible power of heaven shall open all your sins before you, and com­mand you to remember them, and to remember the time, and place, and persons, and all the circumstances of them, What a change will it make upon the most stout or stubborn of the sons of men? What a dif­ference will there then be between that trembling self-tormenting soul, and the same that now in his gallantry can make light of all these things, and call the messenger of Christ that warneth him, a Puri­tane or a doting fool! Your memories now are some­what subject to your wills; and if you will not think of your own, your chief, your everlasting concern­ments, you may choose. If you will choose rather to [Page 13] employ your noble souls on beastly lusts, and waste your thoughts on things of nought, you may take your course, and chase a feather with the childish world, till overtaking it, you see you have lost your labour. But when Justice takes the work in hand, your Thoughts shall be no more subject to your Wills: You shall then Remember that which you are full loth to remember; and would give a world that you could forget. Oh then one cup of the waters of oblivion, would be of unestimable value to the damned! O what would they not give that they could but forget the time they lost, the mercy they abused, the grace which they refused, the holy servants of Christ whom they despised, the wilful sins which they com­mitted, and the many duties which they wilfully omitted! I have oft thought of their case, when I have dealt with melancholy or despairing persons. If I advise them to cast away such thoughts, and turn their minds to other things, they tell me they cannot; it is not in their power; and I have long found, that I may almost as well perswade a broken head to give over aking. But when the holy God shall purposely pour out the vials of his wrath on the consciences of the un­godly, and open the books, and shew them all that ever they have done, with all the aggrava­tions, how then shall these worms be able to resist?

And now I beseech you all consider; is it not better to Remember your sins on earth, then in hell? before your Physitian, then before your [Page 14] Judge? for your cure, then for your torment? Give me leave then, before I go any further, to address my self to you as the Messenger of the Lord, with this importunate request, both as you stand here in your private, and in your publick ca­pacities. In the name of the God of Heaven I charge you [Remember the lives that you have led: Remember what you have been doing in the world! Remember how you have spent your time: and whether indeed it is God that you have been serving, and Heaven that you have been seeking, and Holiness and Righteousness that you have been practising in the world till now? Are your sins so small, so venial, so few, that you can find no employment on them for your memories? Or is the offending of the Eter­nal God, so slight and safe a thing, as not to need your consideration? God forbid you should have such atheistical conceits! Surely God made not his Laws for nought; nor doth he make such a stir by his Word, and Messengers, and Providen­ces against an harmless thing? Nor doth he threaten Hell to men for small indifferent matters: Nor did Christ need to have dyed, and done all that he hath done to cure a small and safe disease. Surely that which the God of heaven is pleased to threaten with everlasting punishment, the greatest of you all should vouchsafe to think on, and with greatest fear and soberness to remem­ber.

It is a pittiful thing, that with men, with Gentle­men, with professed Christians, Gods matters, and [Page 15] their own matters, their greatest matters, should seem unworthy to be thought on; when they have thoughts for their honours, and their lands, and friends; and thoughts for their children, their servants, and provision; and thoughts for their horses, and their dogs, and sports! Is God and Heaven less worth then these? Are death and Judgement matters of less moment? Gentle­men, you would take it ill to have your wisdom undervalued, and your reason questioned: For your Honour sake do not make it contemptible your selves, in the eyes of all that are truly wise. It is the nobleness of objects that must ennoble your faculties; and the baseness of objects doth debase them. If brutish objects be your employ­ment and delight, do I need to tell you what you make your selves? If you would be noble indeed, let God and everlasting Glory be the object of your faculties: If you would be Great, then dwell on Greatest things: If you would be High, then seek the things that are above, and not the sordid things of earth, Col. 3. 1, 2, 3. And if you would be safe, look after the enemies of your peace: and as you had Thoughts of sin that led you to commit it, entertain the Thoughts that would lead you to abhorr it. O that I might have now but the grant of this reasonable request from you, that among all your Thoughts, you would bestow now and then an hour in the serious Thoughts of your misdoings, and soberly in your retirement between God and your souls, Remem­ber the paths that you have trod; and whether [Page 16] you have lived for the work for which you were created? One sober hour of such employment might be the happyest hour that ever you spent, and give you more comfort at your final hour, then all the former hours of your life: and might lead you into that new and holy life, which you may review with everlasting comfort.

Truly, Gentlemen, I have long observed that Satans advantage lyeth so much on the brutish side, and that the work of mans Conversion, and holy Conversation, is so much carryed on by Gods exciting of our Reason; and that the mise­ry of the ungodly is, that they have Reason in fa­culty, and not in use, in the greatest things, that I perswade you to this duty with the greater hopes: If the Lord will now perswade you but to retire from vanity, and soberly exercise your Reason, and Consider your wayes, and say, What have we done? and What is it that God would have us do? and What shall we wish we had done at last? I say, could you now but be prevailed with, to bestow as many hours on this work, as you have cast away in idleness, or worse, I should not doubt, but I should shortly see the faces of many of you in Heaven, that have been recovered by the use of this advice. It is a thousand pitties, that men that are thought wise enough to be entrusted with the publick safety, and to be the Physitians of a broken State, should have any among them that are untrusty to their God, and have not the Rea­son to Remember their misdoings, and prevent the danger of their immortal souls. Will you sit all [Page 17] day here, to find out the remedy of a diseased Land; and will you not be intreated by God or man, to sit down one hour, and find out the dis­ease of, and remedy for your own souls? Are those men likely to take care of the happiness of so many thousands, that will still be so careless of themselves? Once more therefore I entreate you, Remember your misdoings, lest God remem­ber them: And bless the Lord that called you this day, by the voice of Mercy, to Remember them upon terms of Faith and Hope. Remem­bred they must be first or last: And believe it, this is far unlike the sad remembrance at Judge­ment, and in the place of woe and despera­tion.

And I beseech you observe here, that it is your Own misdoings that you must Remember. Had it been only the sins of other men, especially those that differ from you, or have wronged you, or stand against your interest, how easily would the duty have been performed? How little need should I have had to press it with all this importu­nity? How confident should I be, that I could convert the most, if this were the Conversion? It grieves my soul to hear how quick and constant high and low, learned and unlearned are at this un­charitable contumelious remembring of the faults of others: how cunningly they can bring in their insinuated accusations: how odiously they can aggravate the smallest faults, where diffe­rence causeth them to distaste the person: how [Page 18] ordinarily they judge of actions by the persons, as if any thing were a crime that is done by such as they dislike, and all were vertue that is done by those that fit their humours: How commonly Brethren have made it a part of their service of God, to speak or write uncharitably of his servants; labouring to destroy the hearers charity, which had more need in this unhappy time, of the bellows then the water! How usual it is with the igno­rant that cannot reach the truth, and the impious that cannot bear it, to call such Hereticks that know more then themselves; and to call such Precisians, Puritanes, (or some such name which Hell invents, as there is occasion) who dare not be so bad as they! How odious, men pretending to much gravity, learning and moderation, do labour to make those that are dear to God; and what an art they have to widen differences, and make a sea of every lake, and that perhaps under pretence of blaming the uncharitableness of others! How far the very Sermons and dis­courses of some learned men are from the com­mon rule of doing as we would be done by: and how loudly they proclaim that such men love not their neighbours as themselves; the most unchari­table words seeming moderate which they give; and all called intemperate that savoureth not of flattery, which they receive! Were I calling the several exasperated factions now in England, to remember the misdoings of their supposed adver­saries, What full-mouth'd and debasing Con­fessions [Page 19] would they make? What monsters of Heresie, and Schism, of impiety, treason and re­bellion, of perjury and perfidiousness, would too many make of the faults of others, while they extenuate their Own to almost nothing! It is a wonder to observe, how the case doth alter with the most, when that which was their adversaries case, becomes their own. The very prayers of the godly, and their care of their salvation, and their fear of sinning, doth seem their crime in the eyes of some that easily bear the guilt of swearing, drunkenness, sensuality, filthiness, and neglect of duty, in themselves, as a tolerable bur­den.

But if ever God indeed convert you, (though you will pitty others, yet) he will teach you to begin at home, and take the beam out of your own eyes, and to cry out, [I am the miserable sinner.]

And lest these generals seem insufficient for us to confess on such a day as this, and lest yet your memories should need more help, is it not my duty to mind you of some particulars? which yet I shall not do by way of accusation, but of en­quiry: Far be it from me to judge so hardly of you, that when you come hither to lament your sins, you cannot with patience endure to be told of them.

1. Enquire then, whether there be none among you that live a sensual careless life; cloathed with the best, and faring deliciously every day? in [Page 20] gluttony or drunkenness, chambering and wanton­ness, strife or envying, not putting on Christ, nor walking in the Spirit, but making provision for the flesh, to satisfie the lusts thereof, Rom. 13. 13, 14. Is there none among you that spend your precious time in vanities, that is allowed you to prepare for life eternal? that have time to waste in complements and fruitless talk and visits; in gaming and unnecessary recreations, in excessive feasting and entertainments, while God is neg­lected, and your souls forgotten, and you can never find an hour in a day, to make ready for the life which you must live for ever. Is there none among you that would take that man for a Puritan or Phanatick, that should employ but half so much time for his soul, and in the service of the Lord, as you do in unnecessary sports and pleasures, and pampering your flesh? Gentle­men, if there be any such among you, as you love your souls, Remember your misdoings, and bewail these abominations before the Lord, in this day of your professed humilia­tion.

2. Enquire whether there be none among you, that being strangers to the New birth, and to the inward workings of the Spirit of Christ upon the soul, do also distaste an holy Life, and make it the matter of your reproach, and pacifie your accusing consciences with a Religion made up of meer words, and heartless out-side, and so much obedience as your fleshly pleasures will [Page 21] admit; accounting those that go beyond you, especially if they differ from you in your modes and circumstances, to be but a company of proud, Pharisaical, self-conceited hypocrites, and those whom you desire to suppress. If there should be one such person here, I would entreat him to re­member, that it is the solemn asseveration of our Judge, that Except a man be converted, and be born again, of water and the spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of heaven. Joh. 3. 3, 5. Mat. 18. 3. That if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his, Rom. 8. 9. That if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are past away, and all things are become new, 2 Cor. 5. 17. That without holiness none shall see God, Heb. 12. 14. That the wisdom that is from above, is first Pure and then Peaceable, Jam. 3. 17. That God is a spi­rit, and they that worship him, must worship him in spirit and in truth, John 4. 23, 24. That they worship in vain, that teach for Doctrines the com­mandments of men, Mat. 15. 8, 9. And that Except your righteousness exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no wise enter into the King­dom of heaven, Matth. 5. 20. And I desire you to remember that its hard to kick against the pricks; and to prosper in rage against the Lord: and that its better for that man that offendeth one of his little ones, to have had a mill-stone fastened to his neck, and to have been cast into the bottom of the Sea, Matth. 18. 6. It is a sure and grievous con­demnation, that waiteth for all that are themselves [Page 22] unholy: but to the haters or despisers of the holy Laws and Servants of the Lord, how much more grievous a punishment is reserved?

3. Enquire also, Whether there be none among you, that let loose your passions on your inferiours, and oppress your poor Tenants, and make them groan under the task, or at least do little to relieve the needy, nor study not to serve the Lord with your estates, but sacrifice all to the pleasing of your flesh, unless it be some incon­siderable pittance, or fruitless drops, that are unproportionable to your receivings. If there be any such, let them Remember their iniquities, and cry for mercy, before the cry of the poor to heaven, do bring down vengeance from him that hath promised, to hear their cry, and speedily to avenge them, Luk. 18. 7, 8.

4. Enquire, Whether there be none that live the life of Sodom, in Pride, fulness of bread and idleness, Ezek. 16. 49. and that are not pust up with their estates and dignities, and are strangers to the humility, meekness, patience, and self-denyal of the Saints: That ruffle in bravery, and contend more zealously for their honour and preheminence, then for the honour and interest of the Lord. For pride of apparel, it was wont to be taken for a childish or a wo­manish kind of vice, below a man; but its now observed among the gallants, that (except in spots) the notes of vanity are more legibly writ­ten on the hair and dress of a multitude of [Page 23] effeminate males, then on the females; proclaim­ing to the world that pride, which one would think even pride it self should have concealed; and calling by these signs to the beholders to ob­serve the emptyness of their minds, and how void they are of that inward worth, which is the honour of a Christian, and of a man: It being a marvel to see a man of Learning, gravity, wisdom, and the fear of God, appear in such an antick dress.

I have done with the first part [the Remem­bring of your own evil wayes and doings.] I be­seech you practically go along with me to the next, [The loathing of your selves in your own eyes, for all your iniquities and abominati­ons.

Every true Convert doth thus loath himself for his iniquities; and When God will restore a pu­nished people upon their Repentance, he bring­eth them to this loathing of themselves.

1. A converted soul hath a new and hea­venly Light to help him, to see those matters of humbling use, which others see not.

2. More particularly, he hath the know­ledge of sin, and of himself. He seeth the odious face of sin, and seeth how much his heart and life, in his sinful dayes abounded with it, and how great a measure yet re­mains.

[Page 24] 3. He hath seen by Faith the Lord himself: The Majesty, the holiness, the jealousie, the goodness of the eternal God whom he hath offended; and therefore must needs abhorr him­self, John 42. 6.

4. He hath tasted of Gods displeasure against him for his sin already. God himself hath set it home, and awakened his conscience, and held it on, till he hath made him understand that the consuming fire is not to be jested with.

5. He hath seen Christ Crucified, and mourned over him. This is the glass that doth most clearly shew the ugliness of sin: And here he hath learned to abhor him­self.

6. He hath foreseen by Faith the End of sin, and the doleful recompence of the un­godly: His faith beholdeth the misery of damned souls, and the Glory which sinners cast away. He heareth them before-hand re­penting and lamenting, and crying out of their former folly, and wishing in vain that all this were to do again, and that they might once more be tryed with another life, and resolving then how holily, how self-denying­ly they would live! He knows if sin had had its way, he had been plunged into this hellish misery himself, and therefore he must needs loath himself for his iniquities.

[Page 25] 7. Moreover the true Convert hath had the live­liest tast of mercy; of the blood of Christ; of the offers and Covenant of grace; of reprieving mercy; of pardoning mercy; of healing and preserving mercy; and of the unspeakable mercy contained in the pro­mise of everlasting life: And to find that he hath sin­ned against all this mercy, doth constrain him to ab­horre himself.

8. And it is only the true Convert that hath a new and holy nature, contrary to sin; and therefore as a man that hath the Leprosie doth loath himself be­cause his nature is contrary to his disease, so is it (though operating in a freer way) with a converted soul as to the Leprosie of sin. Oh how he loaths the remnants of his pride and passion; his excessive cares, desires, and fears; the backwardness of his soul to God and Heaven! Sin is to the new nature of every true Believer, as the food of a Swine to the stomack of a man; if he have eaten it, he hath no rest till he hath vomited it up; and then when he looketh on his vomit, he loatheth himself to think how long he kept such filth within him; and that yet in the bot­tome there is some remains.

9. The true Covert is one that is much at home; his heart is the Vineyard which he is daily dressing; his work is ordinarily about it; and therefore he is acquainted with those secret sins, and daily failings, which ungodly men that are strangers to themselves, do not observe, though they have them in domi­nion.

10. Lastly, A serious Christian is a workman of the Lords, and daily busie at the exercise of his gra­ces; [Page 26] and therefore hath occasion to observe his weak­nesses, and failings, and from sad experience is for­ced to abhorre himself.

But with careless unrenewed souls it is not so; some of them may have a mild ingenuous disposition; and the knowledge of their unworthiness; and custo­marily they will confess such sins, as are small disgrace to them, or cannot be hid; or under the terrible gripes of conscience, in the hour of distress and at the approach of death, they will do more; and abhorre themselves perhaps as Judas did; or make a con­strained confession through the power of fear. But so far are they from this loathing of themselves for all their iniquities, that sin is to them as their element, their food, their nature, and their friend.

And now, Honourable, Worthy and beloved au­ditors, it is my duty to enquire, and to provoke you to enquire, whether the Representative body of the Commons of England, and each man of you in parti­cular, be thus affected to your selves or not. It con­cerns you to enquire of it, as you love your souls, and love not to see the death-marks of impenitencie on them. It concerneth us to enquire of it, as we love you and the Nation, and would fain see the marks of Gods return in mercy to us, in your self-loathing and return to God. Let conscience speak as before the Lord that sees your hearts and will shortly judg you: Have you had such a sight of your naturall and actuall sin and misery, of your neglect of God, your contempt of Heaven, your loss of precious hasty time, your worldly, fleshly, sensuall lives, and your omission of the great and holy works which you were [Page 27] made for; have you had such a sight and sense of these, as hath filled your souls with shame and sor­row? and caused you in tears or hearty grief to la­ment your sinfull careless lives, before the Lord. Do you loath your selves for all this, as being vile in your own eyes, and each man say, What a wretch was I? what an unreasonable self-hating wretch, to do all this against my self? what an unnaturall wretch! what a monster of rebellion and ingratitude, to do all this against the Lord of love and mercy? what a deceived foolish wretch! to preferre the pleasing of my lust and senses, a pleasure that perisheth in the fruition, and is past as soon as its received, before the manly pleasures of the Saints, and before the souls delight in God, and before the unspeakable everlasting pleasures? was there any comparison between the bruitish pleasures of the flesh, and the spirituall delights of a believing soul, in looking to the endles pleasure which we shall have with all the Saints and Angels in the glorious presence of the Lord. Was God and glory worth no more, then to be cast aside for satiating of an unsatisfiable flesh and fancie! and to be sold for a harlot, for a forbidden cup; for a little aire of popular applause, or for a burdensome load of wealth and power, for so short a time? where's now the gain and pleasure of all my former sins! what have they left but a sting behind them? How neer is the time when my departing soul must look back on all the plea­sures and profits that ever I enjoyed, as a dream when one awaketh; as delusory vanities, that have done all for me that ever they will doe, and all is but to bring my flesh unto corruption (Gal. 6. 8.) and my soul to this distressing grief and fear! Add then I must sing and [Page 28] laugh no more! I must brave it out in pride no more! I must know the pleasures of the flesh no more! but be levelled with the poorest, and my body laid in loathsome darkness, and my soul appear before that God whom I so wilfully refused to obey and honour. O wretch that I am! where was my understanding, when I plaid so boldly with the flames of hell, the wrath of God, the poison of sin! when God stood by and yet I sinned! when conscience did rebuke me, and yet I sinned! when Heaven or hell were hard at hand, and yet I sinned! when to please my God and save my soul I would not forbear a filthy lust, or a forbidden vanity of no worth! when I would not be perswaded to a holy, heavenly, watchfull life, though all my hopes of Heaven lay on it. I am ashamed of my self: I am confounded in the re­membrance of my wilfall self-destroying folly! I loath my self for all these abhominations: O that I had lived in beggery and rags, when I lived in sin: and O that I had lived with God in a prison or in a wilderness, when I refused a holy heavenly life, for the love of a deceit­full world! Will the Lord but pardon what is past, I am resolved through his grace to do so no more, but to loath that filth that I took for pleasure, and to abhorre the sin that I made my sport; and to die to the glory and riches of the world, which I made my idoll; and to live entirely to that God that I did so long and so un­worthily neglect; and to seek that treasure, that King­dome, that delight, that will fully satisfie my expecta­tion, and answer all my care and labour, with such in­finite advantage. Holiness or nothing shall be my work and life; and Heaven or nothing shall be my portion and felicity.

[Page 29] These are the thoughts, the affections the breath­ing of every regenerate gracious soul. For your souls sake enquire now, Is it thus with you? or have you thus returned with self-loathing to the Lord, and firmly engaged your souls to him at your enterance into a holy life? I must be plain with you Gentlemen, or I shall be unfaithfull; and I must deal closely with you, or I cannot deal honestly and truly with you. As sure as you live, yea as sure as the word of God is true, you must all be such converted men, and loath your selves for your iniquities, or be condemned as im­penitent to everlasting fire. To hide this from you, is but to deceive you, and that in a matter of a thou­sand times greater moment then your lives. Perhaps I could have made shift, instead of such serious admo­nitions, to have wasted this hour in flashy oratory, and neat expressions, and ornaments of reading, and other things that are the too common matter of ostentation, with men that preach Gods word in jeast, and believe not what they are perswading others to believe. Or if you think I could not, I am indifferent, as not much affecting the honour of being able, to offend the Lord, and wrong your souls, by dallying with holy things. Flattery in these things of soul concernment, is a self­ish vilany, that hath but a very short reward; and those that are pleased with it to day, may curse the flatterer for ever. Again therefore let me tell you, (that which I think you will confess,) that it is not your greatness, nor your high looks, nor the gallantry of your spirits that scorns to be thus humbled, that will serve your turn when God shall deal with you, or save your carcasses from rottenness and dust, or [Page 30] your guilty souls from the wrath of the Almighty. Nor is it your contempt of the threatnings of the Lord, and your stupid neglect, or scorning at the message, that will endure, when the sudden unresi­stible light shall come in upon you and convince you, or you shall see and feel what now you refused to be­lieve! Nor is it your outside hypocriticall Religion, made up of meer words or ceremonies, and giving your souls but the leavings of the flesh, and making God an underling to the world, that will do any more to save your souls, then the picture of a feast to feed your bodies. Nor is it the stiffest conceits that you shall be saved in an unconverted state, or that you are sanctified when you are not, that will do any more to keep you from damnation, then a conceit that you shall never die, will do to keep you here for ever. Gentlemen, though you are all here in health, and dignity, and honour to day, how little a while is it, alas how little, till you shall be every man in Heaven or hell! (unless you are Infidels you dare not deny it.) And it is only Christ and a holy life that is your way to Heaven, and only sin, and the neglect of Christ and holiness that can undo you. Look therefore upon sin as you should look on that which would cast you into hell, and is daily undermining all your hopes. O that that this Honourable Assembly could know it in some measure, as it shall be shortly known? and judg of it as men do, when time is past, and delusi­ons vanished, and all men are awakened from their fleshly dreams, and their naked souls have seen the Lord? O then what Laws would you make against sin? How speedily would you joyn your strength [Page 31] against it, as against the only enemy of our peace, and as against a fire in your houses, or a plague that were broken out upon the City, where you are? O then how zealously would you all concurre to promote the interest of Holiness in the Land, and studiously en­courage the servants of the Lord! How severely would you deal with those, that by making a mock of Godliness, do hinder the salvation of the peoples souls? How carefully would you help the Labourers that are sent to guid men in the holy path? and your selves would go before the Nation, as an example of peni­tent self-loathing for your sins, and hearty conversion to the Lord. Is this your duty now, or is it not? If you cannot deny it, I warn you from the Lord, do not neglect it; and do not by your disobedience to a convinced conscience, prepare for a tormenting con­science. If you know your Masters will and do it not, you shall be beaten with many stripes.

And your publike capacity and work, doth make your Repentance and holiness needfull to others as well as to your selves. Had we none to govern us, but such as entirely subject themselves to the government of Christ; and none to make us Laws, but such as have his Law transcribed upon their hearts, O what a happy people should we be. Men are unlikely to make strckt Laws, against the vices which they love and live in: or if they make them, they are more unlikely to execute them. We can expect no great help against drunkenness, swearing, gaming, filthiness, and pro­phaneness, from men that love these abominations so well, as that they will rather part with God and their salvation, then they will let them go. All [Page 32] men are born with a serpentine malice and emnity a­gainst the seed of Christ, which is rooted in their very natures. Custome in sin encreaseth this to more malignity; and it is only renewing grace that doth overcome it. If therefore there should be any among our Rulers, that are not cured of this mortall malady, what friendship can be expected from them to the cause and servants of the Lord? If you are all the chil­dren of God your selves, and Heaven be your end, and holiness your delight and business, it will then be your principall care to encourage it, and help the peo­ple to the happiness that you have found your selves. But if in any the originall (increased) enmity to God and godliness prevail, we can expect no better (or­dinarily) from such, then that they oppose the ho­liness which they hate, and do their worst to make us miserable. But woe to him that striveth against his Maker. Shall the thorns and bryers be set in battail against the consuming fire and prevail? Isa. 27. 4, 5. Oh therefore for the Nations sake, begin at home, and cast away the sins which you would have the Na­tion cast away! All men can say, that Ministers must teach by their lives, as well as by their doctrines; (and woe to them that do not.) And must not Ma­gistrates as well govern by their lives, as by their Laws? Will you make Laws which you would not have men obey? Or would you have the people to be better then your selves? Or can you expect to be obeyed by others, when you will not obey the God of Heaven and Earth your selves? We be­seech you therefore for the sake of a poor distressed Land, let our recovery begin with you. God looks [Page 33] so much at the Rulers of a Nation in his dealings with them, that ordinarily it goes with the people as their Rulers are. Till David had numbered the people, God would not let out his wrath upon them, though it was they that were the great offenders. If we see our Representative body begin in loathing themselves for all their iniquities, and turning to the Lord with all their hearts, we should yet believe that he is returning to us, and will do us good after all our provocations, Truly Gentlemen, it is much from you that we must fetch our comfortable or sad prognosticks, of the life or death of this diseased Land. Whatever you do, I know that it shall go well with the righteous; but for the happiness or misery of the Na­tion in generall, it's you that are our best prognosti­cation. If you repent your selves, and become a holy people to the Lord, it promiseth us deliverance: But if you harden your hearts, and prove despisers of God and holiness, it's like to be our temporall, and sure to be your eternall undoing, if saving grace do not prevent it.

And I must needs tell you, that if you be not brought to loath your selves, it is not because there is no loathsome matter in you. Did you see your in­side, you could not forbear it. As I think it would somewhat abate the pride of the most curious Gal­lants, if they did but see what a heap of flegme, and filth, and dung, (and perhaps crawling worms) there is within them. Much more should it make you loath your selves, if you saw those sins that are a thousand times more odious. And to instigate you hereunto, let me further reason with you.

[Page 34] 1. You can easily loath an enemy; and who hath been a greater enemy to any of you, then your selves? Another may injure you; but no man can everlastingly undo you, but your selves.

2. You abhorre him that kills your dearest friends; and it is you by your sins that have put to death the Lord of life.

3. Who is it but your selves that hath robbed you of so much precious time, and so much pre­cious fruit of Ordinances, and of all the mercies of the Lord?

4. Who is it but your selves that hath brought you under Gods displeasure? Poverty could not have made him loath you, nor any thing besides your sins.

5. Who wounded Conscience, and hath raised all your doubts and fears? was it not your sinfull selves?

6. Who is it but your selves that hath brought you so neer the gulf of misery? and endangered your eter­nall peace?

7. Consider the loathsome nature of your sins, and how then can you choose but loath your selves?

1. It is the creatures rebellion or disobedience a­gainst the absolute universall Soveraign.

2. It is the deformity of Gods noblest creature here on earth; and the abusing of the most noble facul­ties.

3. It is a stain so deep that nothing can wash out but the blood of Christ. The flood that drowned a world of sinners, did not wash away their sins. The fire that consumed the Sodomites, did not consume [Page 35] their sins. Hell it self can never end it, and therefore shall have no end it self. It dieth not with you when you die: Though Churchyards are the guiltiest spots of ground, they do not bury and hide our sin.

4. The Church must loath it, and must cast out the sinner as loathsome if he remain impenitent: and none of the servants of the Lord must have any friendship with the unfruitfull works of darkness.

5. God himself doth loath the creature for sin, and for nothing else but sin, Zech. 11. 8. My soul loathed them. Deut. 32. 19. When the Lord saw it he abhor­red them, because of the provoking of his sons and daugh­ters.] Lev. 26. 30. My soul shall abhorre you.] Psal. 78. 59. When God heard this he was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel. Lam. 2. 7. He abhorred his very San­ctuary.] For he is of purer eyes then to behold iniquity, Hab. 1. 13. In a word, it is the sentence of God him­self, that a wicked man is loathsome and cometh to shame, Prov. 13. 5.] so that you see what abundant cause of self-abhorrence is among us.

But we are much afraid of Gods departure, when we see how common self-love is in the world, and how rare this penitent self-loathing is.

1. Do they loath themselves that on every occasion are contending for their honour, and exalting them­selves, and venturing their very souls, to be highest in the world for a little while?

2. Do they loath themselves that are readier to ju­stifie all their sins, or at least extenuate them, then hum­bly confess them?

3. Do they loath themselves for all their sins, that cannot endure to be reproved, but loath their friends, [Page 36] and the Ministers of Christ that tell them of their loathsomness?

4. Do they loath themselves that take their pride it self for manhood, and Christian humility for base­ness, and brokenness of heart for whining hypocrisie or folly, and call them a company of Priest-ridden fools, that lament their sin, and ease their souls by free con­fession? Is the ruffling bravery of this City, and the strange attyre, the haughty carriage, the feasting, idleness and pomp, the marks of such as loath them­selves for all their abhominations? why then was fasting, and sack cloth and ashes, the badg of such in an­cient times?

5. Do they loath themselves for all their sins, who loath those that will not do as they? and speak reproach­fully of such as run not with them to the same excess of ryot, 1 Pet. 4. 4. and count them precisians that dare not spit in the face of Christ, by wilfull sinning as venturously and madly as themselves.

6. Or do they loath themselves for all their sins, that love their sins, even better then their God, and will not by all the obtestations, and commands, and intreaties of the Lord, be perswaded to forsake them? How farre all these are from this self-loathing, and how farre that Nation is from happiness where the Rulers or inhabitants are such, is easie to conje­cture.

I should have minded you what sins of the Land must be remembred, and loathed if we would have peace and healing. But as the glass forbids me, so, alas, as the sins of Sodom they declare themselves. Though through the great mercy of the Lord the [Page 37] body of this Nation, and the sober part, have not been guilty of that Covenant-breaking persidiousness, trea­son, sedition, disobedience, self-exalting, and tur­bulencie as some have been, and as ignorant forreign­ers through the calumnies of malicious adversaries may possibly believe, yet must it be for a lamenta­tion through all generations, that any of those that went out from us, have contracted the guilt of such abhominations, and occasioned the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme; and that any in the pride or simplicity of their hearts, have followed the conduct of Jesuiticall seducers, they knew not whither, nor to what.

That Profaness aboundeth on the other side, and drunkenness, swearing, fornication, lasciviousness, idleness, pride and covetousness, do still survive the Ministers that have wasted themselves against them, and the labours of faithfull Magistrates to this day! And that the two extreams of Heresie and Profane­ness, do increase each other; and while they talk against each other, they harden one another, and both afflict the Church of Christ. But especially woe to England for that crying sin, the scorning of a holy life, if a wonder of mercy do not save us. That people professing the Christian Religion, should scorn the diligent practise of that Religion which themselves profess! That obedience to the God of Heaven, that imitation of the example of our Saviour who came from Heaven to teach us Holiness, should not only be neglected, unreasonably and impiously neglected, but also by a transcendent impious madness, should be made a matter of reproach! That the holy Ghost [Page 38] into whose name as the sanctifier these men were them­selves baptized, should not only be resisted, but his san­ctifying work be made a scorn! That it should be made a matter of derision, for a man to preferre his soul before his body, and Heaven before earth, and God before a transitory world, and to use his reason in that for which it was principally given him, and not to be wilfully mad in a case where madness will un­do him unto all eternity! judg as you are men, whe­ther hell it self is like much to exceed such horrid wic­kedness! and whether it be not an astonishing won­der, that ever a reasonable soul should be brought to such a height of abhomination. That they that profess to believe the holy Catholike Church, and the Commu­nion of Saints, should deride the holiness of the Church, and the Saints and their communion! that they that pray for the hallowing of Gods Name, the coming of his Kingdom, and the doing of his will even as its done in Heaven, should make a mock at all this that they pray for! How much further think you is it possible, for wicked souls to go in sin­ning? Is it not the God of Heaven himself that they make a scorn of? Is not Holiness his image? Did not he make the Law that doth command it; profes­sing that none shall see his face without it? Heb. 12. 14. O sinfull Nation! O people laden with iniquity, Repent, Repent, speedily and with self-loathing Re­pent of this inhumane crime, lest God should take away your glory, and enter himself into judgment with you, and plead against you the scorn that you have cast upon the Creator, the Saviour, the sancti­fier to whom you were engaged in your baptismall [Page 39] vows! Lest when he plagueth and condemneth you he say, Why persecuted you me? (Acts 9. 4.) Inas­much as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it unto me.] Read. Prov. 1. 20. to the end. When Israel mocked the messengers of the Lord, and despised his words, and misused his Prophets, his wrath arose against his people till there was no re­medy, 2 Chron. 26. 16. And O that you that are the Physicions of this diseased Land, would special­ly call them to Repentance for this, and help them against it for the time to come.

Having called you first to Remember your misdoings, and secondly to loath your selves in your own eyes for them; I must add a third, That you stop not here, but proceed to Reformation, or else all the rest is but hypocrisie. And here it is that I most earnest­ly intreat this Honourable Assembly for their best assistance. O make not the forementioned sins your own; lest you hear from God, quod minus crimine, quam absolutione peccatum est. Though England hath been used to cry loud for liberty, let them not have liberty to abuse their Maker, and to damn their souls, if you can hinder it. Optimus est reipublicae status, ubi nulla libertas deest, nisi licentia pereundi, as Nero once was told by his unsuccessfull Tutor. Use not men to a liberty of scorning the Laws of God, lest you teach them to scorn yours: For can you expect to be better used then God. And cui plus licet quam par est, plus vult quam licet (Gell. l. 17. c. 14.) We have all seen the evils of Liberty to be wanton in Re­ligion: Is it not worse to have Liberty, to deride Religion? If men shall have leave to go quietly to [Page 40] hell themselves, let them not have leave to mock poor souls from Heaven. The suffering to the sound in faith is as nothing: for what is the foaming rage of mad men to be regarded? But that in England God should be so provoked, and souls so hindered from the pathes of life, that whoever will be converted and saved, must be made a laughing stock (which carnall mindes cannot endure,) this is the mischief which we deprecate.

The eyes of the Nation, and of the Christian world, are much upon you, some high in hopes, some deep in fears, some waiting in dubious expectations for the issue of your counsels. Great expectations, in deep necessities, should awake you to the greatest care and diligence. Though I would not by omit­ting any necessary directions or admonitions to you, invite the world to think that I speak to such as can­not endure to hear, and that so Honourable an As­sembly doth call the Ministers of Christ to do those works of their proper office, which yet they will be offended if they do; yet had I rather erre in the de­fective part, then by excess, and therefore shall not presume to be too particular. Only in generall, in the Name of Christ, and on the behalf of a trembling yet hoping Nation, I most earnestly beseech and warn you, that you own and promote the power and practise of Godliness in the Land, and that as God whose Ministers you are (Rom. 13. 4.) is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek him, Heb. 11. 6. and hath made this a principall Article of our Faith; so you would imitate your absolute Lord, and honour them that fear the Lord, and encourage them that diligently [Page 41] seek him. And may I not freely tell you, that God should have the precedencie? and that you must first seek his Kingdom and the Righteousness thereof, and he will facilitate all the rest of your work. Surely no Powers on earth should be offended, that the God from whom, and for whom, and through whom they have what they have, is preferred before them; when they should own no interest but his, and what is sub­servient to it. I have long thought that pretences of a necessity of beginning with our own affairs, hath frustrated our hopes from many Parliaments alrea­dy: and I am sure that by delayes the enemies of our peace have got advantage to cross our ends and at­tain their own. Our calamities begun in differences about Religion, and still that's the wound that most needs closing: and if that were done, how easily (I dare confidently speak it) would the generality of sober godly people, be agreed in things civill, and become the strength and glory of the Soveraign (under God?) And though with grief and shame we see this work so long undone (may we hope that God hath re­served it to this season.) Yet I have the confidence to profess, that (as the exalting of one party by the ejection and persecuting of the rest, is the sinfull way to your dishonour and our ruine, so the termes on which the differing parties most considerable among us, may safely, easily and suddenly unite, are very obvious; and our concord a very easie thing, if the prudent and moderate might be the guides, and selfish interests and passion did not set us at a further distance then our principles have done. And to shew you the facility of such an agreement, were it not that such personall [Page 42] matters are much liable to misinterpretations, I should tell you, that the late Reverend Primate of Ireland consented (in less than half an hoursdebate) to five or six Propositions which I offered him, as sufficient for the Concord of the moderate Episcopall and Pres­byterians, without forsaking the Principles of their Parties. O that the Lord would yet shew so much mercy to a sinfull Nation, as to put it into your hearts to promote but the practise of those Christian principles which we are all agreed in: I hope there is no con­troversie among us whether God should be obeyed and hell avoided, and Heaven first sought, and Scripture be the rule and test of our Religion, and sin abhor­red and cast out. O that you would but further the practise of this with all your might: We crave not of you any Lordship or dominion, nor riches, nor interest in your temporall affairs: we had rather see a Law to exclude all Ecclesiasticks from all power of force: The God of Heaven that will judg you and us, will be a righteous Judg betwixt us, whether we crave any thing unreasonable at your hands. These are the summe of our requests: 1. That Ho­liness may be encouraged, and the overspreading pro­phaneness of this Nation effectually kept down. 2. That an able diligent Ministry may be encouraged, and not corrupted by temporall power. 3. That Dis­cipline may be seriously promoted, and Ministers no more hindred by Magistrates in the exercise of their office, then Physicions and Schoolmasters are in theirs; seeing it is but a Government like theirs, consisting in the liberty of conscionable managing the works of our own office that we expect: Give us but leave to [Page 43] labour in Christs Vineyard with such encouragement as the necessity of obstinate souls requireth, and we will ask no more. You have less cause to restrain us from discipline then from preaching: for it is a more flesh-displeasing work that we are hardlier brought to. I foretell you, that you shut out me and all that are of my minde, if you would force us to ad­minister Sacraments without Discipline, and without the conduct of our own discretion, to whom the Magistrate appoints it; as if a Physicion must give no Physick but by your prescript. The antidiscipli­narian Magistrate I could as resolutely suffer under as the superstitious; it being worse to cast out Discipline, then to erre in the circumstances of it. The question is not, whether Bishops or no? but whether Discipline or none? and whether enow to use it? 4. We ear­nestly request that Scripture sufficiency as the test of our Religion, and only universall Law of Christ may be maintained: and that nothing unnecessary may be imposed as necessary, nor the Churches unity laid on that which will not bear it, nor ever did. O that we might but have leave to serve God only as Christ hath commanded us, and to go to Heaven in the same way as the Apostles did! These are our desires; and whether they are reasonable God will judg.

Give first to God the things that are Gods, and then give Caesar the things that are Caesars. Let your wis­dome be first pure, and then peaceable. Not but that we are resolved to be loyall to Soveraignty, though you deny us all these: whatever malicious men pre­tend, that is not nor shall not be our difference. I have proved more publikely when it was more dangerous [Page 44] to publish it, that the generality of the Orthodox so­ber Ministers, and godly people of this Nation, did never consent to King-killing, and resisting Sove­raign Power, nor to the change of the ancient Go­vernment of this Land; but abhorred the pride and ambition that attempted it. I again repeat it: The blood of some, the imprisonment and displacing of others, the banishment or flight of others, and the detestations and publike protestations of more; the oft declared sense of England, and the warres and sad estate of Scotland, have all declared before the world, to the shame of calumniators, that the generallity of the orthodox sober Protestants of these Nations, have been true to their allegiance, and detesters of unfaith­fullness and ambition in subjects, and resisters of he­resie and schisme in the Church, and of Anarchie and Democraticall confusions in the Commonwealth. And though the Land hath ringed with complaints and threatnings against my self, for publishing a little of the mixture of Jesuiticall and Familisticall contri­vances, for taking down together our Government and Religion, and setting up new ones for the intro­duction of Popery, infidelity and heresie; yet I am assured that there is much more of this confederacie, for the all-seeing God to discover in time, to the shame of Papists, that cannot be content to write them­selves for the killing of Kings when the Pope hath once excommunicated them, and by the Decrees of a Generall Councill at the Laterane, to depose Prin­ces that will extirpate such as the Pope calls Here­ticks, and absolve all their subjects from their fide­lity and allegiance, but they must also creep into the [Page 45] Councils and Armies of Protestants, and taking the advantage of successes and ambition, withdraw men at once from their Religion and allegiance, that they may cheat the world into a belief, that Treasons are the fruits of the Protestant profession, when these masked Juglers have come by night and sown and cherished these Romish tares. As a Papist must cease to be a Papist if he will be truly and fully loyall to his Soveraign (as I am ready to prove against any ad­versary;) so a Protestant must so farre cease to be a Protestant before he can be disloyall. For Rom. 13. is part of the Rule of his Religion. Unhappily there hath been a difference among us, which is the higher Power, when those that have their shares in the So­veraignty are divided: But whether we should be subject to the Higher Power is no question with us.

Gentlemen, I have nothing to ask of you for my self nor any of my brethren as for themselves: But that you will be friends to serious preaching and holy living, and will not ensnare our consciences with any unscri­pturall inventions of men, this I would beg of you as on my knees: 1. As for the sake of Christ, whose cause and people it is that I am pleading for. 2. For the sake of thousands of poore souls in this Land, whose salvation or damnation will be much promoted by you. 3. For the sake of thousands of the dear ser­vants of the Lord, whose eyes are waiting to see what God will do by your hands. 4. For your own sakes, who are undone if you dash your selves on the rock you should build on, and set against the holy God, and turn the cries of his servants to Heaven for de­liverance from you, Luk. 18. 8. If you slumble on [Page 46] Christ he will break you in pieces; but if he fall upon you he will grind you to powder. 5. For the sake of your posterity, that they may not be bred up in igno­rance or ungodliness. 6. For the Honour of the Na­tion and your selves; that you turn by all the suspi­cions and fears that are raised in the Land. 7. For the honour of sound Doctrine and Church Government, that you may not bring schisme into greater credit then now you have brought it to deserved shame. For if you frown on godliness under pretence of uniformity in un­necessary things, and make times worse then when Libertinisme and schisme so prevailed, the people will look back with groans and say, what happy times did we once see? and so will honour schisme, and li­bertinisme, and usurpation, through your oppression. 8. Lastly, I beg this of you, for the Honour of Sove­ragnty and the Nations Peace. A Prince of a holy peo­ple is most Honourable. The interest of holiness is Christs own: Happy is that Prince that espouseth this, and subjecteth all his own unto it. See Psal. 1. 1, 2. & 101. & 15. 4. It is the conscionable, prudent, godly people of the Land that must be the glory and strength of their lawfull Soveraign. Their Prayers will serve him better then the hideous Oaths and Cur­ses of the prophane. Woe to the Rulers that set them­selves against the interest of Christ and holiness. Read Psal. 2. or that make snares for their consciences, that they may persecute them as disobedients, who are de­sirous to obey their Rulers in subordination to the Lord. See Dan. 3. & 6. 5, 10, 13. I have dealt plainly with you, and told you the very truth. If God have now a blessing for you and us, you will obey it: but [Page 47] if you refuse, then look to your selves and answer it if you can. I am sure in spite of earth and hell, it shall go well with them that live by faith.


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