ELIJAH'S EPITAPH, AND THE MOTTO OF ALL MORTALLS: IN THE Other Reason in the Text, perswa­ding him into a willingness to Dye, in these words,

I am no better then my Fathers, 1 Kin. 19.4.

By Thomas Bradley, D.D. one of his late Majesties Chaplains, and Praebendary of York; and Preach't in the Minster there, and in his Rectory of Ackworth, 1669. Aetatis suae, 72.

YORK, Printed by Stephen Bulkley, and are to be sold by Francis Mawbarne, 1670.

Elijah's EPITAPH, AND The MOTTO of all Mortalls, in the other Reason of the Text, perswading him into a willingness to Dye, in these Words, I am no better then my Fa­thers.

AND now, after this long Paren­thesis, I fall upon the [...] of the Text, the other Motive per­swading the Prophet to make this his Suite to Almighty God to take away his Soule, as it lyes in these words, Nam non sum melior Majoribus meis: For I am no better then my Fathers.

In which words, note these four things clearly offered to our consideration.

  • 1. An humble Confession.
  • 2. An ingenious Concession.
  • 3. A serious Observation.
  • 4. A contented Submission to the common Condition of Mortalls; namely, To Dye, and to be gathered unto his Fathers, all comprised in these words, For I am no better then my Fathers.

First, An humble Confession, wherein he doth not preferr himself before others; but others rather before himself.

Secondly, An ingenious Concession, wherein he acknowledges of himself, He was no better then he should be.

Thirdly, A serious Observation, most gene­rally true in all successions, That seldome comes the better.

Fourthly, A contented Resolution to submit to the common condition of Mortalls, To Dye, and to follow the Generation of his Fathers: [Page 3]All these foure you may Reade plainly in these words, For I am no better then my Fa­thers.

Of all which I shall speak something briefly, if first, by the way, you will give me leave to take notice of the expression: It is usuall with the Antients, especially in the Old Testament, frequently upon occa­sion to make Honourable mention of their Fathers. So old Jacob telling Pharaoh of his Age, numbers his Dayes and Years, by com­paring them to the Dayes and Years of his fore-fathers: Gen. 47.9. Few and evill are the Dayes of the Years of the Life of thy servant, and I have not attained to the Dayes of the Years of the Life of my Fathers. So Joseph's brethren, asking him forgiveness for the wrong they had done him, and fear­ing now he would revenge himself upon them, Gen. 50.17. Forgive we pray thee, the trespass of the servants of the God of thy Fa­thers. So David, upon his Death-bed, giving ghostly counsell to Solomon his Sonne, in the like termes doth even adjure him; 1 Chron. 28.9. And thou Solomon my Sonne, [Page]know thou the God of the Fathers, &c. So frequently, especially in the Scriptures of the Old Testament; and so here.


First, It is a grave expression, and well-becoming the gravity of holy and wise men to use; it strikes reverence into the minds both of the speaker, and the hearer.

Secondly, It adds Authority to that which is spoken, and commands heedfull Atten­tion to what is spoke, with respect and re­verence.

Thirdly, 'Tis for the honour of the An­cestors to have honourable mention made of them upon occasion; The Righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance: but the name of the wicked shall rot.

Fourthly, 'Tis for the honour of Poste­rity too, to be descended of such Ance­stors: The Jews bare themselves high up­on this, That they had Abraham to their Fa­ther; though they were removed from him by the distance of many Generations.

Fifthly, 'Tis much for the benefit and advantage of Posterity many wayes; that they can derive themselves from such Reli­gious and gracious Auncestors: By this means they come to be partakers of many great blessings, and to have an interest in the Promises of many good things, both temporall and spirituall; both concerning this life, and the life to come. Blessings and good things, oft times become haereditary: Pretious Promises made to Abraham, and his Seed: To David, and his Seed: The Promise is made to you, and to your Seed, Acts 2.39. Saint Paul commends the faith that was in Timothy; but withall takes notice, It was not onely in him, but also in his Mother Eunica, and in his Grand-mother Lois.

Sixthly, 'Tis an advantage to Posterity in respect of imitation, an invitation, and encouragement to tread in their steps, and to imitate them in the best things: It is a shame to Posterity, and a great reproach, to be descended of worthy Ancestours, fa­mous for their faith, grace, and holiness, and to degenerate from them, and to become [Page 6]lewd and loose, vitious and graceless, where­by they become a reproach, and a disho­nour to their Relations, and the Stock they come of: The Vertues of their Ancestors are the great aggravation of their vitious­ness, and will be their great condemnation another day: Let us so walk in the steps of our fore-fathers, that if they were living, they need not be ashamed of us, nor our Posterity after us to derive themselves from such Fathers.

Thus of the expression: We now come to the Observations raysed out of it: Of which,

The first is, His humility, in thinking and speaking meanly of himself, in comparison of others: He doth not exalt himself above them, but makes himself equall to them that were of a lower sort; I am no better then my Fathers: It was his modesty to say so; for he was better then his Fathers, in more respects then one: For,

First, He was a Prophet; and we doe not Reade of any of his Race, that they were so: It was an Honour, and an Office, [Page 7]that was not haereditary; it went not by descent, as the Priesthood did, in the Tribe of Levie.

Secondly, He was no ordinary Prophet, he was a Prophet extraordinary, mighty in word and deed, that wrought such Mira­cles, as none of the Prophets did besides, not Moses excepted: By his Prayer, he shut up the Heavens for three years and six moneths, that it should not Raine: And by his Prayers opened them again, that they sent down Raine in abundance, James 5.17, 18.

Thirdly, In respect of his miraculous As­sumption into Heaven in a fiery Chariot, wherein he exceeded Enoch. He was taken up into Heaven also; but not with that State that Elijah was: Elijah was taken up in a fiery Chariot: And in many other things this Prophet was singular; The Lord did honour him exceedingly, and made him, as it were, his Deputy on Earth, and gave him power to doe great and marvellous things; yet see, when speaking of himself, he lessons himself in his own estimate, com­paring himself with others farr below him, [Page 8] Non sum melior; I am no better then they:

Humility is the badge of Christianity: Heare the Voyce of it in the great Patri­arke Jacob, Gen. 32. Lord I am less then the least of all thy mercies. Moses a great Pro­phet of the Lord, that was a King in Je­surum; yet in his temper, the meekest man in all the Earth. Saint Paul an Arch-Apo­stle, the great Doctor of the Gentiles; yet speaking of himself, see how he lessens him­self, If he speak of Saints, I am (saith he) the least, Ephes. 3.8. If of sinners, I am the greatest, 1 Tim. 1.15. The truth is, they that have Grace, know they want more then they have, they are enlightened, and so see their wants, their corruptions, their infirmities, and are sensible of them: Those that are voyd of Grace, as they have it not, so they doe not feel the want of it, nor hunger and thirst after it, for it is an Act of Grace to be sensible of the want of Grace: And a further Act of Grace, to hunger and thirst after it, in spirituall things. None think better of themselves, then they that have least cause. Empty Vessels make [Page 9]the greatest noyse, and sound; those that are full doe not so: They are the light Eares of Corne that stand staring up in the field, over-looking, and over-topping the rest; those that are weighty with Corne, hang down their heads. In the Pharisee, and the Publican in the Gospel, you have them both, Luke 18. ver. 10.11, &c. I thank God, I am not as other Men, nor as this Pub­lican: I fast twice a week, I pay Tythes of all that I have, &c. An empty Vessell, see what a sound he makes, and all this while, but as sounding brass, and a thinkling Cym­ball: The other, with a penitent heart, and a submissive Voyce, makes his humble Confession, and Petition to Almighty God, Lord be mercifull to me a sinner: He goes away justified rather then the other. The Voyce of humble Saints in the estimate of them­selves, was wont to be that of David, 1 Chron. 29. Lord, who, or what am I, that thou hast dealt thus bountifully with me, that thou hast brought me hitherto? But now, the Voyce of empty, and conceited Christians, hypocrites rather, is clean contrary: What [Page 10]am I not? am I not knowing? am I not wise? am I not holy? had such a con­ceited Christian all that he pretends to have, and pride himselfe in it, that very humour would marr all the rest, and take away from it all the thanks, acceptance, and reward, in that he prides himselfe in that, which is not his own, and robs God of his glory; For what hast thou, which thou hast not received? And if thou have received it, to whom is the prayse of it due? to the Receiver, or to the Giver? to the Owner, or to the Donor? David apprehended rightly of this, when he confesseth, That in all the largeness, which he, and the people had given towards the building of the Tem­ple, to the Honour and Worship of God, they had given him nothing, but what was his own: 1 Chron. 29.14. Of thine own have we given thee: Of his own every way; For first, 'Twas he that gave them the sub­stance, which they contributed to that pi­ous use. Secondly, 'Twas he that gave them the heart to doe so; so it was his own every way: Of thine own have we given thee. [Page 11]If there be any good in us, whether Na­turall, Morall, or Spirituall, it is his own: If any evills, that's our own; and this is so much, in comparison of that good which is sound in the best of us, that it doth so over ballance it, that it is no more then a drop of water in a bucketfull, in compari­son. To keep us humble therefore, and to make us so, look not upon that little good that is in us, which is none of our own; but look upon that evill which is in us, and is truely our own; our sinnes, our cor­ruptions, our infirmities, our inordinate af­fections, sinfull lusts, unruly passions, and if in this examen, we will deale imparti­ally with our selves, I beleeve there is no man knows so much evill by another, as he doth by himselfe; and therefore shall doe himselfe no wrong, if he confess, as in the Text, He is no better then others. If so wor­thy a Prophet as Elijah, doth acknowledge, He is no better then his Fathers; well may we, the best of us confess, we are much worse. This of the first Observation, The Prophet's humble Confession.

The second now follows, and that is, His ingenious Concession, That he was no better then he should be. For though there was sin­gular modesty, and humility, in this testi­mony he gives of himselfe, That he was no better then his Fathers: yet withall, he speaks it as sensible of his infirmities, and that he was not free from those Passions, and corruptions, which humane frailty is subject unto. Saint James making Honou­rable mention of him, James 5.17. yet baukes not that, Elias was a man subject to like passions with us: And this very request of his in the Text, That the Lord would now take away his Soule, was not altogether free from blame, it discovered some infir­mity in him, in not being willing to stay the Lords time, for taking of him out of the World: the Lord had more worke for him to doe, before he took him away, as it appears afterward in his Story. But God doth not take the advan­tage of his servants infirmities against them, though we doe so one against another; but where he sees an honest heart, an upright [Page 13]mind, truth in the affections, sincerity in the desires, seriousness the endeavours, and the bent of the will to be towards him, and to the feare of his Name, he will pass by many infirmities, and failings in his ser­vants, and lay his hand upon them, that he may not see them to be displeased with them for it, and take notice of that which is good in them, to approve it, to commend them for it, and to reward it; such is the indulgence of our Heavenly Father, Lord have mercy upon us, if he should strictly marke what is done amiss, and deale ex­treamly with us in this matter; the best of us, yea, the best that ever were, we, or our Fathers, Noah, Abraham, Lot, Levi, Mo­ses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Peter, &c. saints of the first List, famous for their faith and [...]iety, holiness and obedience, yet had their [...]aylings, and those foule ones too, in sinnes of high nature, scandalous and fearfull, up­ [...]n Record, all Written for our instruction, [...]ot for our imitation: But,

First, For caution, that we may walk warily [...]nd circumspectly, and at every step we tread, [...]ook to our footing.

Secondly, For humiliation, that we should not be high-minded, but feare, considering what weaklings, what nothings we are, if God leave us to our selves.

Thirdly, For admonition, that we may judge charitably of others in case of of­fence. And,

Fourthly, For consolation, in case it may be our own case, that we may not there­fore give our selves for lost, or forsaken of God, but lay hold on Christ by Faith, and recover our selves by Repentance, assuring our selves, that the Lord will accept us to grace and mercy, as he did these our Fa­thers, notwithstanding all these breaches in their obedience, he owned them still to be his servants, and himselfe to be their God. He is the same God still, that pardoneth, and passeth by the iniquity, and the trans­gressions of his people, Micha 7.18. because he delighteth in mercy: He will not Sue us at the extremity of his Law, but relieve us in the Chancery of his Gospel, remem­bring whereof we are made, considering that we are but dust. Gratious, and preti­ous [Page 15]is that Declaration which the Lord makes of himselfe to us-ward, Malachi 3.6. I am the Lord, I change not, therefore ye sonnes of Jacob are not consumed. Alas! we doe change, and most commonly every change is for the worse: Which brings in the third Note, or Observation arising out of these Words,

That seldome comes the better.

In all things wherein there is succession, this Observation is found to be so true, that it is come into a common Proverbe, That seldome comes the better; but the World grows worse and worse. It were as endless, as need­less, to instance in all particulars, how this is made good: Take one or two in stead of the rest; When God at first Created the World, Behold, all that he had made was exceeding good; and Man more excellent then all the rest: But how soon, and how fast, did he, and his Posterity degenerate, and fall from their primitive purity; so fast, that in ten, Ge­nerations, they were so corrupt, That it re­pented God, that he had made them: and their wickedness so great, That the Earth was not [Page 16]able to beare it, nor the Lord to forbeare pu­nishing of it; and that with so great a Judge­ment, as sweept them all away from the face of the Earth. And after the Flood, when in Noah, God had set them upon a new score; How soon was this New World fallen back into the sinnes of the Old, not onely in the Posterity of Cham, which fell off in the very next Generation; but even in Shem, that great Patriarke, after a few Generati­ons, fallen to Idolatry, and to the worship of strange gods in Terah's dayes, the Fa­ther of Abraham? and who knows how long before him? remembred by Joshuah, Josh. 24.2. Your Fathers dwelt beyond the Flood in old time, even Terah the Father of Abra­ham, and the Father of Nachor: and served other gods. After God had by miraculous Providence brought his People into the Land of Canaan, and there settled them in a happy condition, affording them all helps, and means to keep them so, and to con­tinue them in his feare, and in his true Religion; how soon had they cast off all, and by their multiplyed rebellious, mur­murings, [Page 17]disobediences, and unsufferable provocations, tontinually renewed, even sorc't him (after many means used for their reformation in vain, and without success) to cast them off, and to remove them out of his sight, and out of that good Land, that he had given them, and to give them up into the hands of their enemies, Sal­manasar King of Asyria, and Nebuchadnez­zar King of Babylon, under whose tyranny they suffered great hardship a long time, as is remembred at large, in the 78. Psalme, and 2 Chron. 36.

Thus take the World in what Epoche, or section of time you will; As, from the Creation to the Flood: From the Flood to Abraham: From Abraham to the setling of them in the Land of Canaan: From thence to the Captivity, and so all along, till the comming of Christ, and so down­ward from time to time, you shall finde it still declining from bad to worse, and ge­nerally every Age worse then other; so that if God should not sometimes purge the Land, and take away the evill that is [Page 18]upon it, either by some generall Judge­ments, as of Famine, Sword, Pestilence, Fire, inundations of Water, and the like; or by working some generall Reformations in it, to stop the course and current of sinne, prevayling and over-flowing, if he should not frequently keep (as it were) his Courts of Visitations and corrections in the World, for the suppressing of sinne, conti­nually growing, and increasing, the World would grow monstrous, in all manner of sinne and iniquity; and the wickedness upon it would be so great, that the Earth would not be able to beare it, every Ge­neration of men adding to the iniquity of their fore-fathers, and so making the World worse and worse. The Antient Poëts had some apprehension of this, when dividing the World into foure Ages, they repre­sented every succeeding Age worse then the former, under the similitude of foure kinds of Mettalls, every one baser then the other; Gold, Silver, Brasse, and Iron. The first Age they termed the Golden Age. The second, the Silver Age. The third, [Page 19]the Brasen. And the fourth, the Iron Age: Every one worse then other. Or, as a­nother of that apprehension, elegantly hath express't it, in few words, to the same sence; Aetas Parentum avis, pejor nos peperit progeniem deteriorem: Our Parents Age, worse then that of our Grand-fa­thers, hath brought forth us an Off-spring worse then both of them.

And as in matters of Religion; so also in matters of civill concerne, (if we com­pare) we shall finde, that we are much worse then our Fathers: We have more Light, but they had more Love: We have more Knowledge, but they had more Con­science: We have more Preaching, but they more Practise, more Charity, more Devotion, more Works, without which, all the rest is but sounding Brasse, and we with it, but tinkling Cymballs: Their Love shall out-weigh our Light: Their Conscience, our Knowledge: Their Pra­ctise, our Profession: Their Charity, our fruitless Faith: Their Fruit, our Leaves and Blossomes, be they never so faire; who [Page 20]exceeded us as farr in all Morall Honesty, Truth, Sincerity, and Uprightness, as we doe them in the shews of it, and preten­ces to it. They would deale justly with all men, pay every man his own, doe to others, as they would be done unto: In paying of Tythes, they made such Con­science of it, that you shall scarce Reade an old Will, but you shall finde something set down in it for Tythes forgotten. In making Conveiances, they made not halfe that adoe, that now adayes we doe, no more but this,

In witness that this is sooth,
I bite it with my Tooth;

And that was Seale good enough. But now, if a man make, or take a Convei­ance, there's much more to be done, there must be long Leases, Deeds, Bonds, Secu­curities, Counter-securities, generall Warran­tyes, Fines, Recoveries, and a World of businesses, (which the simplicity of our fore-fathers never knew, nor used) and yet all little enough to secure a man from a loose, and false Chapman, and too little [Page 21]too sometimes. In buying and selling, or bargaining, (in those innocent times of our fore-fathers) a man might have dealt free­ly, and safely, and one beleeve another, and trust him upon his word. But in these dissembling times, that we live in, for the most part, every man in these transactions, must deale as warily with another, as if he dealt with a Cheate; and if he have not good skill in the Commodity he deales for, he is sure to be Cheated, more or less: And if the other he deales withall hath not the like skill, he is as like to be Cheated on the other hand; For there is no trust to be given to words in this case, Thus much it cost me; Thus much it is worth; Thus much I have been bidden for it, saith the Seller, and never a word true. Then on the other hand, It is naught, it is naught, saith the Buyer, but when he is gone, he boasteth, as Soloman observeth. So that our Saviour was not mistaken, Matth. 21. when speaking of such Chapmen in buying and selling, he calls them both Theeves, both the buyer, and the seller, [Page 22] It is Written, My House shall be called the House of Prayer; but you have made it a Denn of Theeves: To set forth this by a Comparison, there is (me thinks) the same difference between us, and our Fathers of former Generations, in these matters, that there was between Jacob and Esau: The Scripture tells us, Jacob was a plaine Man, and dwelt in Tents; but Esau was a cunning Hunter: Even so, our fore-fathers were plain men, and dwelt in Tents; plain in their dea­ling, plain in their dyet, plain in their apparrel, plain in their buildings, plain in their speech, plain in their carryage and behaviour every way; and above all, plain and rich in the rich Jewell of plain Dealing: But the men of our after Ages, (like Esau) are cunning Hunters, they hunt for their Neighbours Goods, for their Houses, for their Lands, for their Farmes over their heads, for their substance, for their Possessions, for their Places, for their Offices, yea, (and where they can have opportunity for it, or any hope they may prevaile) for greater gaine.

And thus we have made out the third Observation to be generally too true, That in those things wherein there is Succession, sel­dome comes the better: Elijah tells us, He was no better then his Fathers; well were it with us, if we were no worse.

And so much of the third Observation gathered out of this expression of the Pro­phet, For I am no better then my Fathers. The fourth follows, and that is,

4th. Obs. His contented submission to the common condition of Mortalls, to Dye, and to follow the Generations of his Fathers. And here, by his Fathers, may well be meant, all the Generations that were before him, as well the Fathers that were before the Flood, as those that followed after in the second World, from Adam that was first Created, to the last Generation that was before him, I am no better then they, but mortall, as they were, made of the same mould, the Dust of the Earth, as they were; under the same Law and condition that they were, to return to Dust again: They all had their Pilgrimages here on [Page 24]Earth for a time, and in their time served their Generations; their Pilgrimages are ended, and they are dead, and gone, and turn'd to their Dust; I also have now had my time upon Earth in a tedious Pilgri­mage, and now I pray thee, let this day be the last of it, and this place the end of it, here let me dye, and be gathered unto my Fathers, For I am no better then my Fathers. In which words we have,

His humble acknowledgement of his mortality; and in him, of our own, and of all Man-kind, throughout all Genera­tions, we, and all our Fathers before us, and our Posterity after us, All Mortalls.

It is usuall in the Scriptures, especially of the Old Testament, to periphrase the death of men departed out of this world, by saying, They are gathered unto their Fa­thers. Here in this world, men are scatte­red one from another, in respect of time, by the interposition of many Generati­ons; in respect of place, by the distance of many hundreds of miles; in respect of state and condition, by the variety of diffe­rences [Page 25]of high and low, rich and poor, learned and unlearned, bond and free, Kings and Captives, mighty and meane, strong and weak, &c. but Death gathers all together in the Grave, we shall all meet, in the Dust we shall finde one ano­ther, Death gathers us all into it's Nett, and layes us up in the Dust. How Courtly the Prophet brings in the Kings, and mighty men of the Earth, brought down to the Dust, saluting one another, and, as it were, complementing one another in the Grave, being met there, and those that were there formost, well-comming those that came after them to the same House of Darkness! There lyes Adam, Seth, Enes, Methushalem, and the rest of the Fathers of the Old World before the Flood. There Noah, Shem, Arphaxad, Terah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the rest of the Patriarks since the Flood: And there all the Ge­nerations of our Fathers since them, to these times, wherein we now live; some of them lived longer then others; some of them did great and glorious Acts, in [Page 26]their time, and so were more famous in their Generation then others; but the conclusion of all was this, at the last, And he dyed, and was gathered unto his Fathers. Adam lived nine hundred and thirty years, and he begat Sons and Daughters, and he dy­ed. Seth lived nine hundred and twelve years, and begat Sons and Daughters, and he dyed. Methushalem, the longest liver of them all, he lived nine hundred sixty and nine years, and begat Sons and Daughters and he dyed; and so of all the rest, after all the Story of their long Lives, and great things done by them, in their time; yet this was the Catastrophe of them all, And he dyed. Neither Wise­dome, nor Wealth, nor Power, nor Poli­cy, nor Greatness, nor Goodness, nor Grace, nor Holiness it selfe, can priviledge from this common condition of the Sonnes of Adam, but they must dye. We see, That wise men dye, as well as fools, Psal. 49.10. and rich men dye, as well as poor; and strong men dye, as well as weak; and Kings dye, as well as Captives, &c. It puts me in minde of a Sage, and grave saying of an Embassa­dour, [Page 27](from whom I doe not now well remember) but comming to Rome in an Embassie, he was shewed all the glory, the state, and the magnificence of that fa­mous City: but it chanc't, that while they were shewing him all these glorious things, there past by a Corps, carried to the Grave to be buried; which this wise Embassadour observing, took occasion from thence, to speak these words, That not­withstanding all that greatness, and glory, yet he saw, that men dyed at Rome, as well as in their Country: so impartiall, so inexo­rable is this common devourer of men, there is no Covenant to be made with Death, no agreement with the Grave: It is one of Solomon's insatiables, which never saith, it hath enough, till it hath us all with our Fathers, For we are no better then our Fathers.

But what need I Preach mortality to mor­talls, whose very bodies that they carry about them, dayly Preach unto them the same thing; and the spectacles of morta­lity which we dayly see, Preach it more [Page 28]powerfully to our Eyes, then Funerall Ser­mons can doe unto our Eares? Dayly we heare the Tollings of the Passing bells, calling us to our long home: Dayly we see the bones and skulls of our friends deceased, rak't out of the Grave: dayly we see others following after them, and the mourners about the streets. It strikes me deeply into the meditation of morta­lity, when I doe but look over the Regi­ster Book, to see in the turning over of how few leaves, I finde the same man Baptized, Married, Buried: Thus one Ge­neration passeth away, and another suc­ceedeth, and hasteth after it, as we after them, till we all lye down in the Dust of Death: For we are no better then our Fa­thers.

But to draw to an end; I will onely shew you some Reasons, proving not onely the certainty, but the necessity of dying, that so we may make account of it, look for it, and provide for it, and so conclude this Observation also.

And there are six Reasons which make it not onely certain, but necessary, that we should dye.

First, Because we are all sinners: And the wages of sin, is Death, Rom. 6.23. And in the fifth of the Romans, ver. 12. By one man sinne entred into the World, and death by sinne: and so death went over all men, in whom all men have sinned.

Secondly, The Sentence of Death is gone out against all mankind, not to be reverst: This Sentence was pronounc't in Paradise, and dayly put in execution ever since; In quo die commederis, morte moriêris: In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt dye the death.

Thirdly, The matter whereof we are made, necessitates it, the meane and corruptible dust of the Earth: And of this God puts us in minde, from the very beginning of our being, Pulvis, & in pulverem: Dust thou art, and to Dust thou shalt return.

Fourthly, From the continuall conflict that is between the foure contrary qualities that are in us; Of Heate and Cold, Drought and Moysture, one against another: These being the prime qualities of the foure Elements, of which we, and all compound, or mixt bodies doe consist, are found in us, in one degree, or other; all which being con­trary the one to the other, are in conti­nuall fight one with another, which never ceaseth, but with the dissolution of the compositum, the compound body wherein they are: Where here these qualities are in aequilibri [...], equally ballanc't, and in some due proportion mingled in the body; there the body is healthfull, strong, of an ex­cellent temper, and of long continuance, which was the happiness of Adam, in his first Creation, and of the long-lived Fa­thers before the Flood, in a great mea­sure: But where one of these qualities doth predominate, and get the upper hand over the other, there follows a distemper, and upon that sickness, and weakness, which by the Art, and care of the skill­full [Page 31]Physitian may be helpt, at least in some measure, and for a time, if he be skillfull in these two things. First, to find out, and to discover which of the quali­ties it is, which hath the predominancy. And secondly, How to correct that qua­lity, and to relieve the other, which is oppressed by it, and so to set them in some equall proportion, and due temper again. But this can no Art of man doe so, as to keep them alwayes in an equall ballance, but the qualities being so dia­metrally opposite one to the other, the fight will still be renewed again, and the conflict continued, till the one hath de­stroyed the other; upon which must needs follow the dissolution of the whole body: so that in these very Elements that we consist of, we carry Death about us, we onely stay while the one hath gotten the mastery of the other, and so bring us down to our dust.

Fifthly, There is a nocessity that we should taste of death, and be turned to our dust again, that so our gross, and corruptible bedies being [Page 32]first putrified, may be purifyed and refined, and defaecated from all those dreggs, and terrestri­all groseness, which was in them, while they lived here in the Flesh, and so be raysed again spirituall, and incorruptible. This Reason Saint Paul gives, 1 Cor. 15.36. Thou foole, that which thou sowest, is not quickened, ex­cept it dye. And ver. 53. This corruptible must put on incorruption: but before it put on incorruption, it must put off corrupti­on, and that must be done by death: It shall be raysed spirituall; but first, it must lay down that which is carnall in it; this is done by Death, and the Grave, where the body is first putrified, and turn'd to Dust, that so, as the Phaenix out of it's own Ashes; so the body may be raysed out of it's own Dust, and renewed out of it's own Materialls, that so, becoming in­corruptible, spirituall, and immortall, it may be fit to enter into the Heavenly ha­bitations, and to be partaker of the inhe­ritance with the Saints in glory.

Sixthly, and lastly, It is necessary that all men should dye, and be layd up in the Earth, in [Page 33]order to the great Assizes, the great and gene­rall Judgement to come, that so they may be all brought forth, together to their tryall, for the greater honour of the Judge our Lord Jesus Christ, the greater glory of the solemnity, and the greater state of the proceedings in that high Court, and in that great day. This is the Reason the Apostle gives of the ne­cessity of all mens dying, before the ge­nerall Judgement: And in order to it, Heb. 9.27. It is appointed for all mon once to dye, and after that to come into Judge­ment. Some particular judgements we see dayly executed in the World, in which God doth punish some particular sinnes, by Judgements Nationall, Locall, and Per­sonall, that men may know, There is a God that Judgeth the Earth; and that sinne shall not alwayes goe unpunished: But these are but as petty Sessions, in respect of the Great Assizes to be holden at the Gene­rall Judgement of the Grat Day. That's the Day indeed, the Day of all Dayes, called, The Day of the Lord, the Day wherein the Lord will be glorified in the [Page 34]sight of Men and Angells, good, and bad, when they shall see the Sonne of Man com­ming in the Clouds, with power and great glory, and all the holy Angells with him, with flaming fire rendring vengeance to them that would not know him, nor obey his glorious Gospel, when all Nations shall be gathered before him; and all the Generations of men which have been upon the Earth, from Adam, to the end of the World; when the Angells shall gather the Elect from the foure Winds, from all quarters of the World: and the Sea shall give up her dead, and the Earth shall give up her dead; and they shall all, great and small, appear before the Throne, and be set in two mighty bodies, the one on the right hand, and the other on the left, and there stand to heare their finall doome; Those on the right hand, the Sen­tence of Absolution, Venite benedicti: Come ye blessed. And those on the left hand, the Sentence of Condemnation, Ite maledicti: Goe ye cursed: So they shall goe into eter­nall life; and these into everlasting fire. [Page 35]I conclude this Discourse with the words of Saint Peter, upon the same subject, 2 Epist. 3. chap. 11. ver. Seeing all these things must come to pass, what manner of people ought we to be in all holy conversation, and godliness? And those of Saint Paul to the same purpose, 2 Cor. 5.11. Conside­ring the terrors of the Lord, we admonish you; What to doe? To reconcile your selves unto God, to goe quickly, and make your peace with your adversary, while you are in the way, that is, in this life, be­fore you dye, and your soule be taken away; to break off your sinnes by repen­tance, that they may be blotted out, and not be found upon the fyle against you; in the day of account, to make your ac­counts streight, and ready, that when the Master shall call for them, you may give them up with joy; to get oyle into your Lamps, and your lights burning, that you may be ready to enter in with the Bride­groome; to purge your selves from all fil­thiness of flesh and spirit, by the sancti­fying vertue of the holy Ghost, and get [Page 36]your soules wash't in the blood of the Lambe, that so when they shall be sepa­rated from the body by death, you may with comfort and confidence, commend them into the hands of God, in the words of the Prophet, and of the Text, and say, Lord take away my soule, and he may own it, and accept it, and take it into the high­est Heavens, and assigne it a place among the holy soules of the Saints in light, where it shall rest in joy, happiness, and glory for evermore.

And so we have now put up the Pro­phets Petition to Almighty God, in his own words, Lord take away my soule.

But there is no Petition, but referrs to some Answer, which leads us to enquire after the Answer to this: What Answer did the Lord give to this his request? Did he grant his desire, by taking away his soule, or no?

No, he did not: And why so?

First, He had more work for him to doe, before he meant to take him away: He was to Anoint Huzael King of Syria: Jehn [Page 37]King of Israel: And Elisha Prophet, in his roome. It was after this, that he had that great bussle with Ahab, about Na­both's Vineyard, and denounc't a heavy judgement from the Lord upon him, for that his oppression, and injustice, which fell upon him accordingly; And as great a con­troversie with Ahaziah his Sonne, whom he sentenc't to death, for seeking to the god of Ekron for help in his sickness. And many other great things did he, be­fore God took him away. Therefore the Lord would not grant this his request at this time, though it seemed to be reaso­nable, and modest, To take away his soule; he would not doe it yet, he had more work for him to doe first.

Secondly, If God had granted this his request now, it had been much to his loss, it had prevented his glorious assumption into Heaven in a fiery Charriot, which ho­nour he had afterward, as we reade, 2 Kings 2. Besides, the glory that he got upon those two Kings, Ahab, and Ahaziah, in sentencing them to death for their wick­edness: [Page 38]And upon the two Captains of Ahaziah, in calling for fire from Heaven to devoure them, and their fifties, sent to take him, 2 Kings 1. It had been much to his loss, if God had granted him his request, therefore he would not grant it, to take away his life, but sent an Angell with Provision, to satisfie his hunger, and his thirst, and to preserve him from famishing in the Wilderness, he had no worse Kate­rer, 1 Kings 19.6. and afterwards taken up both body and soule into Heaven in a fiery Charriot.

From hence I rayse these two Observa­tions.

The first, That God doth not alwayes grant the Suits of his servants, but sometimes may, and doth for good reason deny them.

The second this, That God doth often­times give unto his servants greater things, then they aske, he out-grants their own asking.

To the first, Moses had a desire to goe into the Land of Canaan: God would not suffer him; He carried him up to the top of Mount Nebo, where he might take a view of it; but he would not grant he should goe into it: but there he took away his soule, Deut. 34.4, 5. Saint Paul was a great favourite of Heaven, and he Prayed again and again, that the Messen­ger of Satan might depart from him; yet was content to sit down without an An­swer: And when, at last, with much im­portunity, he obtained an Answer, it was not so directly to his request; but onely a generall promise of Gods Grace to sup­port him under the conflict, My Grace is sufficient for thee: For this thing I be­sought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me: and at last he obtained this an­swer, My Grace is sufficient for thee. Sup­plicat primo, Grace is denyed: Supplicat secundo, Grace is denyed again: Supplicat tertio, Grace is granted; yet all this while, he doth not gratifie him in granting what he requested in specie; but granted him some­thing [Page 40]els, that he in his wisedom thought fitter for him, My Grace is sufficient for thee. Deus non semper dat ad voluntatem, sed Deus dat at sanitatem: God doth not alwayes give according to our will; but God al­wayes giveth for our weale, as a Father speaks, Deus audit misericorditer, Deus non audit misericorditer: When God heareth us it is in mercy; when God heareth us not, it is in mercy too. Sometimes we in our ignorance ask such things, as are not fit for us to receive; sometimes such things, as 'tis not fit for him to give: In both these cases, it is no wonder, if we ask, and have not, sometimes we ask amiss; and then, no marvaile, if he deny us, some­times unseasonably; and then no marvaile, if he delay us: Yet let not all this dis­courage from asking, but let it make us, First wise, and prudent, in framing our Petitions, both for the matter, and the man­ner of them: To take to us words, and goe to God; to consider he is in Heaven, and we on Earth, and therefore to let those words be few, but weighty. Secondly, To [Page 41]mark well the returns of our Prayers, whe­ther God hath answered them, or no? or how? If he hath answered them in specie, and directly, then ther's a speciall ground of Faith, and farther confidence in God. 2ly. By speciall matter, and occasion of prayse, and thanksgiving, I will hear thee, and thou shalt prayse me, Psal. 50.15. And thirdly, Great encouragement, and invitation to Pray again, and to goe with boldness to the Throne of Grace, not doubting to obtain like help again in the time of need, I am well pleased, that the Lord hath heard the Voyce of my Prayer, that he hath enclined his eare unto me: Therefore will I call upon him as long as I live, Psal. 116.1, 2.

But, if God hath not so answered in specie, by granting thee, just the thing that thou did'st desire, mark well if he hath not commuted with thee, giving thee some­thing els in the roome of it, that may be to thee as good as it, as he did to Saint Paul, or farr better, as here to our Pro­phet in the Text: And then, If where thou askest a stone, he give thee bread: Or, [Page 42] Where thou askest a scorpion, he give thee a fish: Or, Where thou askest temporall things, he give thee spirituall; say, thou art no loser by the change, though thou have not punctu­ally that, which thou didst desire. So it is here with our Prophet in the Text, He de­sires the Lord to take away his soule: No, saith God, I will not doe so; but I will doe that which is farr better for thee: I will pre­serve thy soule in thy body for a time, where­with thou shalt doe me more service and that ho­nourable service, which shall be to thy eternall fame and glory: and that done, I will take away thy soule and body both, and carry them to Heaven in a fiery Charriot. Which brings in the second Observation.

2. Obs. That God oftentimes doth better for his servants, then themselves desired, he out-grants their own asking: Thus he dealt by Solomon, 1 Kings 3.

That King had a large offer, and promise from Almighty God, That let him aske what he would, it should be given him, 1 Kings 3.5. [Page 43] He asked Wisedom that he might be able to go­vern that mighty people committed to his charge. The Lord was so well pleased that he had asked this thing, that he tells him, That he hath not onely given him that which he ask't; but he also gave him that which he had not asked, Riches, and Honour, &c. ver. 13. and that in such abundance, that no King ever had the like, nor should have after him. Jacob being to take a long Journey, through dangerous wayes, into a strange Country, and being but ill pro­vided with viaticum for such a Journey, beggs of God, That he would but grant him food and rayment, and he should be happy; he askes no more: Oh if God will but give me Bread to eat, and Rayment to put on, how thankfull shall I be for it? And if you look but a little farther in the Story, to the 32. Chapter, you shall finde how abundantly God answered his request, with measure run­ning over, prest down, and shaken together; He gave him not onely Food and Rayment in his Journey, but Wealth, and Honour, and Riches in abundance, as he doth thankful­ly acknowledge, ver. 10. O Lord, I am less [Page 44]then the least of all thy mercies, for with my staffe came I over this bridge, and loe, thou hast made me two bands; so farr doth his bounty exceed our very hopes and expectations. As in Jael's entertainment of Sisera, Judges 5. He asked Water, and she gave him Milke. And as Naaman to Gebazi, He asked him one change of Rayment, and one Talent of silver; nay, (saith he) take two. Such is the bounty of our Heavenly Father, that giveth abundant­ly, above all that we can ask, or think, Ephes. 4. We ask temporall blessings, and he gives us spirituall; earthly, and he gives us heaven­ly. He asked life of thee, and thou gavest him a long life, yea, even for ever and ever.


First, It serves to admonish us, to give unto God the Glory that is due unto his Name in this respect, even the Glory of his bounty, that delights in giving, and is never weary of giving, that loads us with his mer­cies, and poureth his benefits upon us, an inexhausted treasure, a Fountain never drawn [Page 45]dry, but continually springing up, with new supplies of Grace, and good things of all sorts, to all them that seek them, and to him for them.

Secondly, 'Tis much for the consolation of his poor Saints, and servants, though of them­selves they have nothing, nor are nothing, but with the Laodiceans, are poor, and misera­ble, and blind, and naked; yet, as long as they have such a Heavenly Father, they haue enough, what can they want, that have such a Magazine to goe unto, such a Father to turn themselves unto in all their wants, and necessities, as willing as able to relieve, and to supply them, that taketh care for them, and is engaged by promise to see they shall want nothing that is good for them: All is yours, and you are Christs, and Christ is Gods: What would they more?

Thirdly, Here's encouragement enough, to goe boldly unto the Throne of Grace, (where the gate of mercy stands open, and the Golden Scepter is held forth unto us) with full assurance, that we shall speed in our suits surely, and if we have not, it is be­cause [Page 46]we ask not; and if we ask and have not, it is because we ask amiss.

Fourthly, Let this teach us wisedom, and good manners too, in all our suits, never to put them up, but with submission to his will: If Christ the Sonne of God did so, well may we ever put in, or at least tacitly imply, Not my will, but thy will be done: Beware of limiting the holy one of Israel, or prescribing what he shall give, or in what measure, or when, or how, or in what manner he shall answer our suits; he may deny, delay, com­mute, give less then we ask, or more, and all in great wisedom too, and upon good reason. The Disciples seeing Christ now risen from the dead, and thereby having such an expe­riment of his power and glory, will needs know, Whether now he will restore the Kingdom to Israel, which the Romans had lately taken from them, Acts 1.6, 7. And the two fa­vourites, James and John, expecting such a Kingdom now to be set up, put in betimes, and bespake high places under him in it; That the one may sit on his right hand, and the other on his left in this Kingdom, (though [Page 47]it was their Mother, which they put upon it, to preferr the Petition;) yet that they had a hand in it, appeareth by the indignation the rest of the Disciples took against them for this their ambition: Christ lik't neither of these suits, and therefore answers both ac­cordingly; To the former, Non est vestrum: To the latter, Non est meum: To the for­mer, It is not for you to know the times, and the seasons, which the Father hath kept in his own power: To the latter, To sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give; but it shall be given to those, for whom it is pre­pared, Mat. 20.23. Again, in other cases, he is pleased to over-grant the Petitions of his servants, and to give them abundantly, beyond their own asking, as in the instan­ces before given, and in the Text, The Lord doth not immediately take away the Pro­phets soule, at his request, but reserves it in his body for a time, till they had done some more work, which he had for them to doe; And then he takes up both his soule and body, in a wonderfull manner into Heaven, in a fiery Charriot, 2 Kings 2.11.

I conclude this Petition of the Prophet, and my discourse upon it, in the words of the Prayer of the Church, set forth, and commended to us, in our despised Liturgy, as the conclusion of the Prayers of the second Service.

O Lord, which knowest our necessities before we ask; and our ignorance in asking; we beseech thee have compassion up­on our infirmities, and those things which for our blindness we cannot ask; or, for our unworthiness we dare not, vouchsafe to give us, for the worthiness of thy Sonne Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom with thee, and the holy Spirit, three Persons, and one God blessed for ever, he all Honour and Power, Prayse and Glory (as is most due) for evermore, Amen.


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