Guil. Sill, R. P. D. Hen. Episc. Lond. à sacris domesticis.

THE Famine of the Word Threatned to ISRAEL, AND GODS CALL To Weeping and to Mourning.

BEING TWO SERMONS PREACHED On the Fast Day, Novemb. 13. 1678. AND On the Fast Day, April 11. 1679.

By JAMES BROME, A.M. Rector of Cheriton in the County of Kent.

LONDON, Printed by M. Clark, for Richard Chiswel, at the Rose and Crown in S. Pauls Church-yard. 1679.

To the Right Worshipful JAMES BROCKMAN, Esq;, My most honoured Friend and Patron; And his Vertuous Consort Madam LUCY BROCKMAN.

THese Sermons finding so favoura­ble an acceptance at your hands, and being so generally desired and called for by all the neighbourhood, I thought it my duty to prostrate them both at your feet, and usher them out in­to light under your most auspicious Pa­tronage.

These perillous Times into which we are fallen, as they call for a serious Hu­miliation on all sides, so do they com­mand our joint-endeavours to pro­mote it; and if I can be any way instru­mental to this good work in the publica­tion of these Papers; as it is the utmost of [Page]my design, so likewise of my desire; un­less it be further to give hereby a testi­mony of my real gratitude for the mani­fold favours so frequently conferred, since I had the honour to be under your wings, upon

Your most obliged Servant James Brome.

The Famine of the Word Threatned to ISRAEL, &c.

AMOS viij. Vers. 11, 12.

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a Famine in the Land; not a Famine of Bread, nor thirst for Water, but Hearing the Words of the Lord.

And they shall wander from Sea to Sea, and from the North, even to the East, they shall ran to and fro to seek the Word of the Lord, and shall not find it.

IT was ever an act of great mercy and kindness in the God of Heaven and Earth, that he never issued out his Judgments in the World, but he gave time­ly notice of them before their approaches, to awa­ken mens Consciences, either by timely Repentance to divert them, or else by Vigilancy and Prayer to prepare against them.

I might give you sundry instances that this is the certain method of Gods proceeding with mankind. Thus be­fore he destroyed the Old World, and washed away their pollutions by the general Innundation, Noah, the Prea­cher [Page 2]of Righteousness, was the Harbinger of that news, and he forewarned them what would follow their conti­nual disobedience, and perseverance in Iniquity. After the same manner did he deal with Sodom, with Gomorrah, and with Niniveh.

But I need look so far back; Israel a people of Gods own choosing, had sufficient experience of his loving kindness, and patience, and forbearance in this particu­lar. Though that Generation of men were a sort of people so refractory and stubborn, so stiff-necked and disobedient, so unsufferably wicked, and such notorious transgressours, that God might in justice have swept them away with the Beesom of Destruction, without giving them the least space of time to consider of their ways, or amend their doings; I say, though he might have opened all the treasuries of his Vengeance, and sent down his arrows in great numbers upon their heads by reason of their mani­fold provocations against him; yet did he never do this, but first by his Prophets and Messengers for warned them of what would happen: he did not strike till he dealt with them as the Angel did with Balaam, Numb. 22.31. open their eyes that they might see the blow was coming; he did not proceed to sentence till he had first convicted them, and represented their guilt in a true Mirrour before them; he did not make them examples of his Justice, till he had first declared what it was had provoked him, and what such wilful provocations did deserve at his hands: thus did God still temper his Mercy with his Justice, forewarn them, that they might be fore-armed. And for this very end and purpose was this precaution which God gave Israel in the words read unto you, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a Famine in the Land, not a Famine of Bread, nor a Thirst of Water, but Hearing the Words of the Lord, &c.

From which words I shall discourse:

1. Of the Nature of that Judgment which is here [Page 3]threatned to Israel, and shew you the dreadfulness of it. It is a Famine, but not of Bread, nor of Thirst for Water, but Hearing the Words of the Lord.

2. I shall consider the reason of this denunciation, what was the ground and original of it; and what it was that caused God Almighty to threaten that people with so se­vere a Judgment.

3. I shall endeavour to shew how they might, and we may prevent the like Judgment, which seems at this time to hang over our heads.

1. I begin with the first of these, the Nature of that Judgment which is here threatned to Israel, 'tis Famine. A sore Judgment indeed, the very name of which is suffi­ciently dreadful and terrible, were it but onely a corpo­ral punishment. For if by Famine the Prophet had on­ly meant scarcity of Bread, or extream want of Victuals, Gen. 43.1. such a Famine as hapned in Canaan in the Patriarch Jacobs days; or such a Famine as fell upon Samaria in the days of Elisha, 2 Kings 6.25. when an Asses head was sold for fourscore pie­ces of silver, and the fourth part of a Kab of Doves dung for five pieces of silver, that indeed would have been a sore evil, by the fearful effects that would have followed and ensued upon it. For to see men and women fainting for lack of Bread, and ready to prey upon and devour each other, to hear their Children and Sucklings, Lament. 2.11, 12. rending the Skies with their bitter ejulations, and crying to their Mothers, Where is Corn and Wine? whilest their souls were ready to be poured forth in their Mothers bo­som; nay, to behold women eating the fruit of their own wombs, 2 Kings 6.28. and children become a feast to their Mothers that newly bore them, as it hath hapned many times through the extremity of hunger; this must needs be a very dole­ful calamity which would grieve the heart, and afflict the eyes of all such as did behold it.

And yet this corporal Famine, though to us it appears to be the greatest of Evils, is nothing to that Famine which [Page 4]is here threatned to Israel, which was the Famine of Hea­ring the Words of the Lord, or the scarcity and want of Heavenly Bread, by depriving them of all holy Ordinan­ces and Duties. For certainly this is meant, when God threatens to send a Famine amongst them, that is, utterly to subvert the whole Jewish Church and Religion, to banish them from his Temple, and all their legal sacrifices, to deprive them of all their Rites, and Ceremonies, and Sacraments, which were most dear and pretious to them, take from them the Law, with which before he had en­trusted them, and to divorce and separate them from their Priests and their Prophets, who were the true and Or­thodox Expounders of it. All this is implied by the Fa­mine of the Word. And so the Judgment will appear in­deed to be very dreadful and terrible, upon these three accounts.

1. Because all entercourse and communion was likely to be cut off betwixt God and them.

2. Because by this means they would be reduced to a very deplorable condition, in relation to their souls, by being deprived of all such means as should be most bene­ficial and advantagious to them.

3. Because this commonly being the last of Judgments, for God to deprive them totally of his worship, must needs be most fatal and pernicious to them.

1. By this means all entercourse and communion was likely to be cut off betwixt God and them. As it was the greatest of honours to the Jewish Nation, that they were separated from the rest of the World as a People peculiar to God, to whom he was pleased very frequently to make greater manifestations of his love and favour than to any other community of mankind throughout the face of the Earth; so was it still a further enhansment of their glory, that God was pleased to choose their Metropolis Jerusa­lem, as his own City, and in that to accept of a Temple, where he took delight to be called upon and worshiped, [Page 5]rather than elsewhere; for at Salem was his Tabernacle, Psal. 76.2. and his dwelling place in Sion; Psal. 122.4. that Temple was his Man­sion house and habitation, whither the Tribes went up, the Tribes of the Lord unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord.

But now when once their provocations were grown so high, and their sins and iniquities were risen to that de­gree, as to enforce him to abominate both them and their Temple, and make him loath and reject both them and their Religion, what farther hopes could they have of any favour, or of any entercourse and communion betwixt God and them? In vain was it for them to expect that God should any longer strive to endear them by any former familiar ways of kindness, when he was resolved to aban­don both them, and their Worship; and all their Incense, and their Sacrifices became very loathsome and detesta­ble in his sight. For Religion being the Cement, the Liga­ment, the chief Bond of Union and Communion betwixt God and Man; when that is once broken, or dissolved, farewel to Gods love, to his favour and friendship; no longer doth God regard any persons than they are kept close to him, by the firm ties of Duty and Obedience. And therefore in this respect a Judgment of this Nature to ba­nish men from his Altars, to deprive them of his Ordinan­ces, and not to suffer them any longer to tread within his Courts; I say, such a Judgment of Famine must needs ap­pear very terrible, because when God rejects men as his Worshippers, he rejects them likewise for being his Fa­vourites; and no longer than they continue in his Church or in his service, must they expect any communion or any friendship from him.

2. Secondly this Judgment was the more dreadful, be­cause by this means Israel was like to be reduced to a very deplorable condition in relation to their souls, by being deprived of all such means as should be most advantagious to them.

As the Jews were happy in all manner of blessings, so were they in that great blessing which God was pleased to bestow upon them, by sending them his Messengers early and late to instruct them. These persons were some­times called Seers, and sometimes Prophets, and sometimes Priests, but all declared unto them the will of God, and expounded to them the Law and the Testimony: to these therefore the people had recourse in all doubts, in all straits, in all emergencies, and by them all their scruples were solved, and their ignorance dispelled, and their duty plainly taught and reiterated to them.

But now by this Famine they were like to lose all these, God was resolved to take away their Prophets from them, to suffer their Rabbies and Doctors of the Law no longer to instruct them: and then what do we think could follow, but a Night of Ignorance and Error? what could we expect from them, when these lights were put out, but that, like their Neighbours round about them, they should all be invelop'd with the dark mists of Super­stition and Idolatry? Mal. 2.7. though their Priests lips did pre­serve knowledge, yet if they were not permitted to seek it at their mouths, they must needs grow stupid and igno­rant, Titus 1.16. foolish and extravagant, abominable and disobe­dient, and unto every good work reprobate, [...], fitless, and unfashionable.

But this is not all, for they were not only like to be de­prived of those persons who expounded the Law, but of the Law it self, with all its Worship and Sacrifices; and that still enhanseth further the grievousness of this Judg­ment: not to have their Priests left amongst them was a great loss, but to be deprived of Gods Word too, was the greatest Judgment could light upon them: for now their souls were like to perish for want of food, Gods Word being nutriment to the Soul as Bread is to the Body; and that being subtracted and taken away from them which should nourish them up unto eternal life, the means cea­sing, [Page 7]the end could never be obtained; and so by con­sequence the Soul was not onely like to starve here, but to perish hereafter too, and to lie down in woe and sor­row to all eternity. A sad Judgment indeed! that God should subtract from them all means whereby to render themselves happy, that he should snatch them from their Priests, rend them from his Altars, and by taking the light of his Word from them likewise, condemn them to a far greater than Egyptian darkness,; this still renders it more grievous and dreadful.

3. But there is a third aggravation of it still behind, That this is the last of Judgments which God usually makes use of, when mens iniquities are ripe and ready for destruction, to deprive them of his true Worship, and to remove their Candlestick out of his sight.

He that can calculate in how many instances Humane Nature is passive, may quickly make an estimate of Israels calamities, which were so manifold and terrible, that God Almighty might have seemed even to have emptied his Magazine of Judgments, and to have discharged them all upon the Jewish race. In all the History of former Ages, and places, there is no where to be met withall any Generation of Mankind, with whom God had so many controversies, and upon whom he did pour down his hottest fury and displeasure drest up in such various and dismal shapes, as he did upon this stubborn and incorrigible people. There was not any manner of Judgment but the Jews were ac­quainted with; and our Prophet Amos reckons up a whole Catalogue of sufferings, which succeeded one ano­ther in that rebellious Nation. Cap. 4. v. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11. He tells us that God did not only cleanness of teeth in all their Cities, and want of Bread in all places, and with-held the rain from them, so that three Cities wandred to one City to drink water; but likewise that he smote them with blasting and with mil­dew, with the Pestilence after the manner of Egypt, with the Sword, and with Fire as dismal as that which redu­ced [Page 8] Sodom and Gomorrah to a heap of rubbish and ashes; and yet for all this they would not return unto God by reformation and amendment.

And do we think it possible for Gods Spirit always to strive with such a froward Generation? was it not high time for God to use the last and most rigorous means, when all other proved useless and ineffectual? Was in not high time for God quite to cashier them, and cast them out of his sight, when all other methods, though the Quin­tessence of the greatest fury and severity could no way reclaim them? No doubt it was: and therefore to this last of Judgments he threatens to have recourse; V. 12. Therefore this will I do unto thee, O Israel, and because I will do this unto thee, prepare to meet thy God O Israel; resolving hereby, that because nothing else would avail, to destroy their Nation, to root up that Vine and Vineyard which his own right hand had planted, to send a Famine in the Land, not a Famixe of bread, nor thirst for Water, but of hearing the words of the Lord; by which they should be reduced to so wretched and deplorable a condition, as to turn com­mon Vagrants or Vagabonds, and to wander from Sea to Sea, and from North to East, and to run to and fro to seek the Word of the Lord, and yet should not be able after all their wearisom journies, after all their narrow searches and disquisitions to find that Word, that Law, those Ordi­nances which they sought and hunted after.

And thus I have acquainted you with the Nature of that Famine, and the dreadfulness of it, which is threat­ned to Israel; from whose example it will become a duty incumbent upon us, to look back upon our selves, whose state and condition at this day seems not at all unlike to theirs then: for our sins are of as deep a die, and our abominations as loathsome, and our transgressions as ma­nifold, and our provocations as daring, and our impieties as provoking as theirs was before us, and God seems therefore now to threaten us after the same manner as [Page 9]he did the Jews, with as bad or worse a Famine by rea­son of such hainous and abominable provocations.

And that this is too great a truth, will plainly appear to any one that considers the present posture and state of affairs in this Kingdom; for are there not at this day a brood of sanguinary, blood-thirsty, and wicked Sons of Belial, who have endeavoured to subvert both Church and State, and reduce us all to a Famine indeed, to a real destitution of all true spiritual comforts and refreshments? Had they not almost brought their wicked designs to effect, and doth not our Religion seem still to lie at the stake? Doth not Destruction still hover over our heads? And have we any certain security that we may not yet become a prey to these merclless Wolves and Tygers? There is more than a probability that God Almighty may suffer these very persons to become snares and traps to us, scourges in our sides, and thorns in our eyes. Josh. 23.13. 'Tis more than probable that those who so industriously con­sult our ruine, may yet attain to their end, and so we may all perish through their malicious machinations, that our Religion may be undermined, our Churches violated, our Temples made the Nests and Cages of Popish Super­stition and Idolatry, and we our selves fall a Sacrifice to the Pope and his devillish Emissaries. And if this should come to pass, which our sins and manifold transgressions do justly deserve and call for; Alas, into what unspea­kable calamities should we be involved? This would be a Famine of the highest degree, a Judgment the most grievous of all Judgments, as will appear again by these three following circumstances.

1. For first this would be a most certain indication, that as the measure of our iniquity was full, so the cup of Gods anger was full likewise, and that he was pouring out his utmost indignation against us. If once God should suf­fer our Church to fall, and our Religion to be taken from us; if he should once remove our Candlestick, and not [Page 10]permit us any longer enjoyment of his sacred Ordinan­ces amongst us, we may be assured that his fury was kin­dled to the utmost height, that he suffered all this because he could no longer endure us in his sight, because our pre­sent service was an abomination to him, and our worship being so extreamly tinctured and mixed with hypocrisie, did enforce him to draw away his face from us.

For as true zeal and piety endear men to God, and render them his Favourites; so hypocrisie and irreligion estrangeth Gods affection utterly from them; nay, cau­seth a separation, and sets God at open enmity with them, and when once God hath declared himself an Enemy, then follow his Judgments, then are all the Vials of his Anger opened, and Sluces of his displeasure plucked up to over­whelm them; and these fruitless Fig-trees, these unpro­fitable Servants, these wicked transgressors are cursed, and made an example of vengeance to terrifie others from the like evil courses.

So that if God should deal thus with us, and punish us after so rigorous, and so severe a manner, I know not for my part what would become of us; there is no further hopes of favour, of kindness, of friendship from him, we might have improved these better to our advantages whilest we enjoyed them; Mat. 21.43. and if the Kingdom of God, i.e. the Gospel of Christ be taken from us, it will be gi­ven to some other Nation to bring forth better fruits un­der its enjoyment than we have done. So that this is the first thing that speaks the dreadfulness of this Judgment, because it will be a testimony, that God is irreconcilably angry with us, that he is resolved to destroy us, and root out our memorial from off the face of the Earth.

2. But secondly, there is another thing which will speak the dreadfulness of this Judgment, and that is, that it will not onely be a means to cut us off from all hopes of Gods love and favour for the present, but for the future too, by depriving us of all those means which might be most in­strumental [Page 11]to procure and regain it: for should such a Famine come amongst us, then farewell to Gods Word and Ministers, and by consequence if these, which are the means and conduit-pipes of Grace, were stopped up, the way to Heaven would be precluded and stopped up like­wise. Now that this would certainly be our case, should Popery once more make a step over the Seas, I shall evi­dence to you in a few instances.

1. For first, you would have some indeed come amongst you, who would call themselves the Ministers of God, but you would quickly find a vast difference betwixt them and those who now are his lawful Ambassadors; for they would not trouble themselves to preach up the Gospel so much as their own selves, their own gain, ad­vantage, and filthy lucre: and though 'tis the misfortune and a sad fate which attends the present Ministers of the Church of England to be accused as covetous persons, or hirelings, proud, or imperious persons, men who lord it over their Brethren, and who encroach too far upon the dues, and rights, and estates of the Laity, yet should the Scene change, and these men be cashiered, you would find, that what you accuse them falsly of, would be abun­dantly verified in their Popish successors; and you would learn by too woful experience, what it is to be Priest­ridden, as you now call it, when upon every petty di­staste, upon the least injurious usage or affront put upon them, you should hear them thundring forth, as the Hea­thens did of old to the primitive Christians, Christiani ad Lecnes, Away with the Christians to the Lions; so they to you, Haeretici ad Carbones, Away with these Hereticks to Fire and Faggot. Then would you value those Mi­nisters whom you now despise, and he whom you are pleased now to esteem the most contemptible man amongst us, would then be thought worthy of your best words and elogies, when your backs once felt but the smart of the Romish Rod; and every Parish-Priest would be even [Page 12]an Anti-Pope to command you at his beck, and aw you at his pleasure.

2. But secondly, As the Ministry would fail, so would all true Religion too; For in stead of Gods Ordinances, humane Inventions should be enforced upon your Con­sciences, and Superstition and Idolatry should be imposed upon you, under the specious titles of Piety and Reli­gion. You should have Prayers indeed allowed you, but they should be a Compound of Ave-Maries, and of Prayers to the Saints, and Prayers for the Dead; and that too in an unknown Tongue, and in a Language which none of you could possibly understand, and by conse­quence could never say Amen at your Devotions. You should have the Psalter of the blessed Virgin, compiled by the Seraphical Doctor S. Bonaventure, presented to you as more useful than the Psalms of holy David; and a Mass-Book clapt into your hands; but your Bibles claspt up and taken away from you, and you prohibited the read­ing of the Scriptures upon the penalty perhaps of eter­nal damnation. And in stead of the pure and sincere milk of the Word tendred you by some sober and rational Di­vine, you shall have probably one of Johannes Argentus his prime Catholick Disciples come, and extol in the Pulpit the excellent qualities of the Virgin Maries Milk, or one of S. Francis his Fry, crying up the great Vertues of S. Francis his Slipper; or the healing faculties of S. Ve­ronica's Handkerchief; or else from some other of those Religious Juglers you shall hear a long ridiculous story of some miraculous Saint out of their famous Legend, which shall be as foolish and incredible as the Fable of Garagan­tua, or the Wandring Jew. Nay besides all this, you shall not only be compelled to worship the Virgin Mary, and pray to Saints, and fall down before Images, and pay re­verence to Reliques, and prostrate your selves before Pi­ctures and Crucifixes; but you shall be denied the Cup in the Sacrament, and taught that the Bread is the very [Page 13]Body of Christ, and under that notion will be enforced to receive and pay it homage: I say, notwithstanding after 'tis consecrated by the Priest, you see, and feel, and taste, and smell that it is still Bread, notwithstanding you know 'tis a plain contradiction for one and the self-same Body to be in a hundred places at one and the same time; yet this you must believe, and a thousand other ridiculous fansies, as that the Pope is infallible, that he is Christs Vicar, the Universal and Supreme Pastor of the Universe, and is endowed with a Power and Empire over all Chri­stian Kings, Princes, and Potentates, at the least in ordine ad spiritualia. Further, that there is such a place as Pur­gatory, that Confession to the Priest is absolutely neces­sary to Salvation, that in the Mass there is a propitiatory Sacrifice both for quick and dead, that the Saints have a mint and treasury of good works to spare, which they can lend to others, who want them, upon occasion; that to doubt in the least of miracles, traditions, and indul­gences, the power of the Pope, and his Priests, or to entertain the least thought of the possibility of being saved in any other Religion is a most enormous crime; These, and whatever else the Priest shall bid you be­lieve, that you must believe without making any scruple, or asking any questions for conscience sake: What days they please to set apart you must be sure to observe, what penances they inflict you must patiently undergo, what they think fit to command from you, you must undenia­bly grant, or else nothing would make atonement for such contempt and obstinacy, but your very lives and fortunes.

This would be your case and this your condition, should Popery prevail; and would not this be a sore judgment indeed to be deprived of your present honest and good Ministry, and to be enslaved by Popish tyranny? to be robbed of Gods sacred word and to give ear to fables? to leave the true Religion, and be made vassals to a Reli­gion which is superstitious and idolatrous? In a word, [Page 14] to forsake the Fountain of living Waters, Jerem. 2.13. and to dig unto your selves Cisterns, broken Cisierns that will hold no Wa­ter? How could you hope to find the way to Heaven by such guides, to gain an entrance by such blind Devo­tion, to merit glory by such an implicit Faith? Certainly in such circumstances men must needs run the greatest hazards imaginable of their immortal Souls, there would be little or no hopes of Salvation under such means, and therefore a Judgment of this nature must needs be very terrible and amazing, nay the greatest of Judgments that could befall this Nation.

3. Especially if we confider in the third place, that when God sends this, it is the last of all Judgments, and therefore must needs be the most pernitious and dread­ful: When God once works the downfal of a Nation, when he destroys a Kingdom, or suffers a Church to be buried in ruine, we may be sure God hath poured upon that people the utmost dreggs of his fury, and that there is no other Judgment to succeed, but the most fatal of all is happened to them, in which all in general shall be concerned, and have their portion. In the case of the Sword, the Pestilence, or Fire, 'tis possible some few may escape the Divine Vengeance, some may be reprie­ved till a further opportunity; but when once a whole Polity is laid in desolation, every one then is a sufferer, the blow is levelled at all, and there is none but feels the heaviness, and the smart of it. And then woe, woe to us, should this be our condition, as we have too great reason to fear it may be still by Gods former pro­ceedings with us, and our incorrigibleness under all his methods which he hath made use of to reclaim us: we know, 'tis not many years ago, since the Sword did glut it self with the blood of many thousands of our native Inhabitants; after that the Plague came in triumph, and erected its Trophies over all our Kingdom; after this succeeded a dreadful and terrible Fire, which laid in [Page 15]ashes the Metropolis of our Nation: And since all these three Judgments have not wrought in us that sincere and hearty Reformation, which God expected they should, what can we expect, but that God should give a word of command for the last to come amongst us, and so trouble himself no longer to punish so refractory and incorrigible a People? And if so, we can none of us escape, but we shall find the effect of it to be very direful and terrible; for when our Church is once in the dust, and our Religion subverted, when all our Rites and Solemnities of Worship are obliterated and abolished, and Gods Holy Word which should nourish us up unto eternal Life, is taken from us, 'tis much to be feared, that God will never be so far re­conciled as to restore them to us again, seeing we mana­ged them so ill, when we had the happiness of enjoying them: nay though afterward when we perceive the want of them, we should seek them carefully with tears, and wander from Sea to Sea, and from East to North to find them, yet shall we be unsuccessful, and miss of what we desire; lie down we must in the shades of darkness, where the Sun of Righteousness will no more arise upon us with healing under his wings.

2. And now what it was that provoked God to threa­ten such bitter and severe things against Israel, and upon what particular grounds and reasons we in this Nation may justly dread the same Judgment, is the next thing I am to give an account of: Where though Israel, as I might shew at large, was a people notorious for all manner of transgressions against the Law of God, for all manner of vices which could possibly be committed, so that God had just reason to complain of them by his Prophet Ma­lachy, Chap. vers. 7. That even from the days of their Fathers they had gone away from his Ordinances, and had not kept them, upon which account God might justly execute the utmost rigor of his justice upon them; yet I shall at present in­stance but in three or four things, which as they did ex­tremely [Page 16]aggravate their guilt, so did they call for, and hasten the greatest vengeance upon their heads.

1. For first, they were a sort of people that mocked, and despised both Gods Word and Messengers.

2. Secondly, they made no scruple to deprive their Priests of that, which was set apart by God as their Lot and Portion.

3. Thirdly, they were generally addicted to Irreligion and Profaneness.

4. And fourthly, if they did not break forth into open profaneness, they were no less blameable for their base secret hypocrisie.

Now when I have drawn the parallel betwixt them and us, and have shewn you that we have equalled, if not out-vied them in all these things; we shall then find from our selves as great reason to fear that God should pour down in this nature his utmost indignation upon us, as ever he did upon that wicked and obstinate people.

1. Israel was a sort of people, that mocked, and de­spised both Gods Word, and Messengers: He that con­fults the History of those times, will find this very visible in their manners, and practices; in the days of Amos and Isaiah they were grown to that pass, that they silenced their Prophets, Amos 2.12. and commanded them not to speak, unless it were such things as tickled their ears, Isaiah 30.10. or gratified their humours; but when this would not do, and they found them of such courage and undaunted spirits, that they did still cry aloud, spare not, but lift up their voices like trumpets, Isaiah 58.1. to shew Gods people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sin; why then they began to convert all their Prophets serious discourses into mirth, and drol­lery, and made sport with the gravest matters, and con­cernments of Religion: they burlesqu'd the Prophet Je­remiah's words, and turned the expressions he used into ridicule, Jer. 23.33, 36. crying in contempt, The burden of the Lord, which is called perverting the words of the Living God: [Page 17]After the same manner did they deal with Ezekiel, Ezek. 33.32. In Canticum oris sui vertun [...]. Vul. Lat. whose words they turned into pleasant Songs, or as the Mar­gents of our Bibles have it, they made loves or jests of the most sacred things, which the Prophet did utter for their benefit, and advantage: And no wonder that when the Fathers had eaten sower Grapes, Ezek. 18.2. the Childrens teeth were set on edge; no wonder that when the Fathers had attained to so good a knack of mocking their Prophets, and were so notorious for the obloquies and contempt which they passed upon them, that their Children did so readily follow their examples, and that the Pro­phet Elisha could not possibly escape the virulency of their tongues, whose years, one would have thought, should have rendred them uncapable of such vile misde­meanors; upon which account no doubt it was, that the little Children having sucked in such prejudices against the Prophets with their milk, and learnt to rail against them from their very cradles, ventured to clamour after that good man with such vile and base language (though they paid for it very dearly with the loss of their lives) when the best words they could afford him were no bet­ter than these, Go up thou baldhead, go up thou baldhead: 2 Kings 2.23, 24. In fine their own Chronicles have given us so full an ac­count of their scoffing, sarcastick temper, that we need look no further for a testimony hereof, for 'tis said there, that they mocked the messengers of God, 2 Chr. 30.1. and despised his words, and misused his Prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his People, till there was no remedy: from which it appears, that God did for some time for­bear the people of Judah, beyond what they could have expected, waiting for their amendment until they added impudence to their obstinacy, and made sport with the Prophets, and laughed at every thing that was sacred and religious; then the peremptory Decree came forth, and there was no hopes of escaping, Lament. 4.16. then did the anger of the Lord divide them, and he did no more regard them, because [Page 18]they regarded not the persons of the Priests, and favoured not the Elders.

And indeed, as nothing doth more provoke God, than such a scoffing humour, and such a contemptuous usage of his Servants, and Messengers; so nothing doth sooner precipitate his Judgments, nay nothing can be a more certain prognostick, that they are even at the door, than that is: for there can be no worse symptom to a people, than to laugh at the only means to cure them, and if this once grow common, it must needs make their condition desperate; for then it comes to Gods turn to laugh, and to mock too; Because I have called, and ye have refused, Prov. 1.24, 15, 26. I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded, but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would have none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity, and m [...]k when your fear cometh.

Now if this was one reason, why God resolved to send a Famine of the Word amongst the Jews, to abolish their Worship, and banish them from their Priests, because they made so light of them, nay did even take a pride to de­spise, and contemn them, to vilifie and abuse them, what can we expect less in this Nation, who have far surpassed that people in this scoffing vein? Search the Annals of all History, and compare the manners of all the Nations of the Earth with ours, and you shall find this vice, no not even amongst Turks and Heathens, so predominant as it is in ours: and he that considers the base and unjust accusations, the vile and ignominious obloquies, the sordid and unworthy aspersions, the black and malitious calumnies, in a word, the general despite and contempt, that is thrown upon the present Ministry of the Church of England, may cause him justly to believe, that God hath very great reason to revenge this injury by depri­ving them of such Pastors, whom they use so despight­fully, 2 Thess. 2.11, 12. and to send them strong delusions to believe a lie, that they might all be damned, who believed not the truth, but [Page 19]had pleasure in unrighteousness: I wish that this mischief had not spread it self so universally over the face of this Nation, but (alas) the disease is grown now so Epi­demical, that the Priest affords matter of sport for all companies, and he that can be so ingenious to have a fling at him, shall be cryed up for a man of great wit and at­tainments, though in other things he is looked upon as very mean and inconsiderable; nay, our Children too (like the Jewish I mentioned before) have drawn in these prejudices with their very breath, for a man can scarce walk the streets in many places, but he shall hear some of them speak something contemptible of a Mini­ster, if he chance to pass by; as if those, who were for­merly reputed the glory of Christendom, were now to be esteemed the very refuse of the people; nay, the off­scouring, catharmata, & ludibria, the laughing stocks, and the most hateful of all mankind.

I remember, that it was part of the Liturgy in the Greek Church of old, to praise God, that out of his infinite con­descension he had given them Ministers and Teachers, not only of the same nature, and infirmities with themselves, but also of like guilt, and under the same condemnation; because, thereby having in themselves a sense of their own infirmities, and knowing the burden of sin, and the subtilty of Satan, they might the better know likewise how to offer up Sacrifices and Oblations, both in behalf of themselves and the people: but how is the scene alte­red! when instead of prayers, we meet with curses, and the failings of some are either imputed to all, or else mag­nified to so high a degree, as if we were the Pests and Grievances of the Nation! And now if God look upon the dishonour done to his Ministers, as done to himself, if St. Paul speak true, 1 Thes iv. 8. that they who despise them despise not men, but God; according to that usual saying, Every mans messenger is as himself, I cannot see why God should any longer suspend his judgments from us, who stand [Page 20]guilty before him of so foul a misdemeanour: why should he not deprive us of those persons whom we thus set at nought, and use so contumeliously? and it may be some of us would be glad if God should do so; but should this happen to us, I dare very confidently affirm, that we should find it by too woful experience the greatest curse yet that ever befel this Kingdom.

2. A second reason, that might enforce God to hasten such a judgment upon Israel, by rooting out their Reli­gion, was their depriving the Priests of that Lot and Por­tion which he himself had set apart for their use: whoe­ver knows any thing of the Jewish Oeconomy, cannot possibly be ignorant, that the Jews, by a more especial injunction of God himself, were commanded to pay the tenth of all their substance to the Priests who served at his Altars, which tithes God was pleased to call his own, and to sanctifie himself, commanding that no part of it, Levit. xxvii. v. 30, 31. whether it was good, or whether it was bad, should be so much as changed by any of the people: now not­withstanding all this, so covetous and worldly minded were the generality of the Jews, that they made no con­science to defraud God of his own, and the Priests of that which was allotted for their share: and though, when God reproved them for their unjust and fraudulent deal­ings towards him, they did justifie themselves, and expo­stulate the case with him, and were so insolent as to ask him the question (notwithstanding they could not but know their guilt) Wherein they had done him any inju­ry? God deals very plainly, and tells them, that it was in robbing him of his Tithes and his Offerings: Will a man rob God? Mal. iii. 8. yet ye have robbed me; but ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? in tithes and in offerings: Well, but what was the fatal consequence of such filthy defraudations? what did they get by their Rapine and their Sacriledge? the next verse tells you, the curse of God was their re­ward, Verse 9. Ye are cursed within curse: for ye have robbed me, [Page 21]even this whole nation. And may not we justly dread the same curse, whose defraudations are as great, and Sacri­ledg as insufferable? for though there is a certain portion of tithes set apart for our present Ministers under the Go­spel, which our pious and good Aucestors have bestowed upon the Church, and the Laws of our own Nation have ratified and confirm'd, and God himself under the Gospel doth allow and commend, yet such is the unsatiable ava­rice of some worldlings amongst us, that they make no conscience to defraud the Ministers of their due; nay, have the impudence, in their vulgar discourse, to assert very commonly, that it is no sin to cheat the Parson; as if the taking away the Corn which belongs to me, were not as directly a breach of the eighth Commandment, which saith, Thou shalt not steal, as the taking away a Horse, which doth not belong to me, would be from ano­ther man: and now, when that which ought to be our shame is our Glory and our Triumph, when fraud and downright cozenage is so plausibly swallowed down, and they who are guilty of such things, yet lay their hands on their mouths, and say they are innocent, Jer. v. 29. Shall I not visit for these things, saith the Lord, shall not my soul be avenged of such a nation is this?

It was St. Austins complaint of old, Aug. Serm. de Temp. 219. Hom. 48. that the covetous coldness of some Christians in his time persuading them to rob God, and to withdraw part of his portion, Tithes, from the Ministers, was a grand presage of Wars and Ca­lamities coming upon them in Africa, (as indeed they did soon after) when the hand of violence would revenge the injury of Sacrilegious avarice, with the Soldiers Rapine, saith he, or the Exchequers confiscation will take what was grudged for Christ and his Church: I pray God the same injurious usage from the Laity, at this day, do not portend to this Nation the same, or worse Calamities, that the Popish Harpies do not come in amongst us, and revenge our injuries upon those persons who have dealt [Page 22]unjustly by us: I pray God (I say) that this sin be not so far laid to their charge, as that some of that rapacious crue do not make as great a prey of them as they have done of us; for although it would be but a just one, yet it would be a curse indeed, a punishment very grievous.

3. But I hasten to a third thing, which might preci­pitate such a judgment upon the Jewish Nation, and that was their unsufferable degeneracy into all manner of irre­ligion and profaneness: if ever God had any right and title to worship, and service from any people, it was cer­tainly due from the Jews, who were so far his favourites, that he was pleased to entrust and deposit with them [...], as the Apostle calls them, his Holy Oracles, the Divine Law written with his own finger; nay, fur­ther he did manifest himself to be a God who highly me­rited their true and sincere service, by the manifold deli­verances he wrought for them, and the wonderful mercy he conferred daily upon their Nation: and yet so incon­siderate, insensate and stupid a people was this, that they were so far from calling to mind those signal favours, wherewith he endeavoured to oblige them, and from those considerations return him, in lieu thereof, a just and due proportion of duty and obedience, that instead of that they were arrived at so great a height of boldness and impiety, Mal. i. 13. as even to snuff at Gods service, and grew weary of it, and thought it a burden and a grievance to them; and therefore upon their Sabbaths and Festival days, when they should have paid God the most solemn and serious Devotion, they began to think those days most irksome and troublesome, because they seem'd to hinder their gain and their Merchandize, and had the con­fidence to cry out, Amos viii. 5, 6. When will the new Moon be gone, that we may sell corn, and the sabbath, that we may set forth wheat, making the Ephah small, and the Shekel great, and falsifying the ballances by deceit? That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shooes; yea, and sell [Page 23]the refuse of the wheat? nor did they stick here, but they became still greater proficients in that hellish art of irreli­gion, for the Prophet tells us again that they profaned the name of the Lord, saying, The table of the Lord is polluted, Mal. i. 12. and the fruit thereof, even his meat is contemptible: now upon these terms it was not possible for God any longer to with­hold his hand, when he saw his Worship neglected, his Ordinances spurn'd at, and his Holy Name profaned: the next thing he could expect was to have his very Essence questioned, and his Soveraignty over them openly dis­owned, and therefore it was high time for him to exert his power, and make them smart for their impieties.

And if we be convicted; and found guilty of as evil courses, we likewise can expect no less favour or mercy: Now that this is our case, the Atheism and Impiety of the present Age doth abundantly verifie, for men are not content to be modest Atheists, and to say secretly in their hearts, with the fool, that there is no God, but impiety appears with a brazen forehead, and disputes its place in every company, and without any regard to the voice of nature, to the dictates of conscience, and the common sense of mankind: men peremptorily determine against a supream Being, account it a pleasant divertisement to droll upon Religion, and a piece of wit to plead for Atheism: nay, as though the fountain of the great deep was bro­ken up, and Hell were let loose, and the Prisoners there had shaken off their Chains and came upon the earth, pro­faneness and all manner of wickedness grow so impu­dent and barefaced, that men do not only reproach, but totally neglect all Religion and Goodness.

Indeed in former Ages it was for the honour and glory of the English Nation, that as their genius prompted them to be very devout and religious, so they never omitted any opportunity to shew that real love they had for the Worship of God, and how mightily they de­lighted in a continual veneration of his most Sacred [Page 24]Person, and in a constant performance of all the holy Offi­ces which were enjoyned them by Christianity: But since Atheism hath flown over the Seas, and infected this Kingdom; Good God! what a strange degeneracy is in mens natures and inclinations? For if they do not openly discard all Religion, yet they have so small a regard and esteem for it, that it may justly provoke God to take it from them, and let them feel the want of it: When we see some so careless, and indifferent in performing all manner of religious Duties, that they care not whether they serve God, or not, when we see some absenting themselves from his Worship, and making every idle ex­cuse serve to cover their negligence, others absenting themselves from the Sacrament, and running away from the Lords Table with as much eagerness, as if the Plague would break forth upon them, and consume them; others cavilling at the Liturgy, and Offices of the Church, be­cause not dressed up, nor shaped according to their fan­cies: in fine, when we see Gods Houses deserted, his Altars unfrequented, his Sacred Days profaned, his Word despised, and all manner of true Zeal and Devo­tion quite difcarded in our daily assemblies; shall I not visit for these things, saith the Lord? shall not my Soul be avenged of such a Nation as this? I am sure we have all the reason to expect he should, when we give him such just reason to avenge himself of us.

4. Especially if we consider in the fourth place, that there is something still behind, which as it doth aggravate ours, and Israels guilt, so it will likewise hasten our pu­nishment, as it did theirs before us; and that is Hypo­crisie, a sin of so deep a dye, that nothing doth more in­cense God against a Nation than this doth: that no peo­ple could possibly be more addicted to this, than the Jews, is very evident from all their Prophets, they made nothing to commit the greatest villanies in the world, and defile themselves with the blackest crimes, and un­der [Page 25]a specious pretence of piety and innocency, cry out The Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord, Jerem. 7.4. the Temple of the Lord are these: They pretended great zeal and love for Gods Worship, and Sanctuary, and var­nished over all their evil actions with the false colours of Sanctity, and Holiness: But behold how God, who seeth through the thickest veils of Hypocrisie, the most secret imaginations of the sons of men, reproves them for it: Will you steal, murder, and commit Adultery, Vers. 9, 10. and swear falsly, and burn Incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods, whom ye know not, and come, and stand before me in the House, which is called by my Name? As if God had said, Do you think that though you are guilty of all these abominable sins, yet your coming to my House, your treading in my Courts, your calling on my Name, shall make an atonement for them? So far are such dealings from pacifying my wrath, that it will but kindle it the more against you, for, thus saith the Lord God, Behold, Vers. 20. mine anger, and my fury shall be poured out upon this place, upon man and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground, and it shall burn, and not be quenched: And therefore no wonder again it is that you find him by his Prophets Isaiah and Amos, Isaiah 1.11, 12 Amos 5.21. rejecting all their Sacrifices, and Oblations, and Assemblies, and professing that he hated all their New Moons, and ap­pointed Feasts, and that all their Worship was an abomi­nation to him, when he found it so extremely mixed with Hypocrisie; for when men pretend to be what they really are not, when they draw near to God with their lips, Isaiah [...]9.13. but their hearts are far enough from him, when they think to put a cheat upon him, and their own Souls, and make Religion a cloak for all manner of impiety, this doth so far separate betwixt God and them, that it causeth him to hide his face from them, till at last he appear very for­midable in his robes of vengeance, and then misery, and confusion is their inevitable lot and portion.

And if so, then in what miserable circumstances are we in again of this Nation, whose hypocritical actions do still keep pace with such deceitful Jewish Worshippers? How ready are many of us to come and stand before God, to visit his Courts, and to worship him in his Holy Temple? But we hope that it is no offence to bring our sins along with us, that our Fraud and Oppression, our Pride and our Covetousness, our Lying and our Slandering, our Malice and Uncharitableness may bear us Company to the Church, and yet we our selves are no less acceptable to God Almighty, as if God was obliged to us for the outward formalities of his Worship, and might very well afford to let us have our sins into the bargain, as if Sa­crifice was better than Obedience, and the labour of the Lips was much to be preferred before the true homage of the Heart: And that this is too true, daily experience may convince us, for may we not see some to day in the Church, complementing God into a belief, that they are his Servants, when behold to morrow we shall find them either the Devils slaves, or the Worlds drudges? May not we observe some to day very devout towards God, whom to morrow we shall find ready to devour their neighbour? Blessing God to day, and cursing men to morrow? Praying to Christ now perhaps with some fer­vency, and anon with no less vigour belying and back­biting, or oppressing their fellow-Christian? Hearing a Sermon one hour, and the very next resolving to act and do clear contrary to what they hear? And can we think that God will accept of such worshippers as these? That such monsters made up of light and darkness, shall be as dear to him as his Children, or that such a form of god­liness will be as grateful as, the power of it? if we do we are strangely mistaken, for believe it, such things as these are the highest provocations, and if we in this Nation persevere and continue in them, if we take a delight in playing the Hypocrites, and make Religion a cloak [Page 27]for the foulest abominations, it is but just for God to take from us that Religion which we so grosly abuse, to lay o­pen our fallacies, and discover our secret wickedness, and make us appear by the dreadfulness of his judgments up­on us, to be what we really are, a deceitful, impious and incorrigible Generation.

3. This, I say, God may and will do if we do not time­ly prevent it, but, God be thanked, there is yet a possi­bility that this may be done, God, I hope, hath not past an irrevocable Sentence upon us, but we may yet reverse it, if we please, our selves; now by what means and me­thods this may certainly be accomplished is the third and last Head of Discourse I am to speak to.

And here, though I might instance in divers things which would be very effectual to this purpose, yet I shall contract them all to three, and leave them then to your serious consideration.

1. It will be very requisite for you to set a due value and estimation upon that Church and Religion which is now established.

2. To humble your selves before God, and be inces­sant in your prayers and supplications to him.

3. To cast away all those sins and abominations, which, by reason of their heinousness, cry to Heaven for venge­ance, and may justly provoke God to plague us with such a judgment.

First, Learn to set a true value and estimation upon that Church and Religion which is now established a­mongst us, for that will be one means for God to preserve and to continue it to us. He that duly weighs and considers with himself, not only the present way of worship which is established in our Church, but the purity of its Doctrine, and the excellency of its Institutions, as he will find, that it is not possible for him, in any other Church of the World, to be a more honest man, a more dutiful Subject, and a better Christian, than he may be in the Fellowship [Page 28]and Communion of the Church of England; so ought he upon such considerations to have the greatest esteem, and honour and kindness for this Church, which doth the best deserve it.

Now because this regard and esteem cannot be better expressed than by laying aside all unjust and undue preju­dices against it, and by an unanimous embracing all its holy sanctions, therefore must these two things be careful­ly observed by him.

First, It is very necessary, in order to the setling men in a due regard and esteem for our present Church, to lay aside all unjust prejudices against it: it was ever for the honour of the Church of England, that her Principles and Doctrines were always found true from error and falsity, that in matters of faith she still kept up to the Pri­mitive Rule, and never enjoyned any thing to be recei­ved as a truth, but what the word of God did sufficiently confirm, and the first and purest Ages of Christianity did assert and maintain to be so: and for what concerns all her outward Rites and Ceremonies, all her Government and Institutions; although some of her unnatural and dis­obedient Sons have, upon this account, bespattered her reputation, and flung durt in her face, and have endea­voured to pollute her Garments, and subvert both her Order and Discipline, and like the Children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem, Psal. cxxxvii. ver. 7. have cryed, Down with her, down with her even to the ground; yet these have been so fully evinced to be only the effects of the deepest malice and envy, that we find the judicious Hookers assertion, in his Preface to his Ecclesiastical Polity still abundantly verifi­ed: That surely the present form of Church Govern­ment, which the Laws of this Land have established, is such, as no Law of God, no Reason of man hath hitherto been alledged of force sufficient to prove they do ill, who to the uttermost of their power withstand the alteration thereof; and contrariwise, the other, which instead of [Page 29]it we are required to accept, is only by error and miscon­ceit called the Ordinance of Jesus Christ, no one proof as yet brought forth, whereby it may clearly appear to be so in very deed, And if so, why should any one be prejudi­ced against that Church, which doth not command any thing contrary to the word of God, or which is not agree­able to the first and purest Ages of Christianity? Why should any one be so unreasonable to separate from a Church, which is stupor mundi, the amazement of the world for Piety, Learning, and true Religion, only by reason of a few outward modes and Ceremonies, when nevertheless those very Ceremonies contain nothing in them, which is any way inconsistent with the substantial parts of Religion, but are very useful and necessary to beautifie and adorn it? I say, who would any longer de­sert this Church upon such grounds as these are, especial­ly when we consider that such prejudices as these give the greatest advantage to our common Enemy, the Pope, whilst by our difference about trifles, he takes an oppor­tunity to open the gap wider, to foment our Divisions, and increase the Schism, and come upon us unawares whilst we are at variance amongst our selves, and so work the ruin and downfal of us all?

And then tell me, whether would the yoke of the Church of England or of Rome be more intolerable? Which do you think would be more easie to you, the bloody Court of Inquisition, or the Consistory of our Bishops? Which would be most grateful, a few innocent Ceremonies in our Church, or the constant practice of superstition in theirs? Which would be most acceptable, a grave Liturgy of Prayers directed to God alone, in a Language which you all understand, as it is in ours, or an extravagant Form of Prayers to Saints and Angels, and in a Tongue too of which you are ignorant, as it is with them? in fine, whether, had you better adhere to a Church which is guilty of the greatest corruptions, both in faith [Page 30]and manners, as it is at this day evident in the Church of Rome, than submit to a Church which is free from all such things as it is at this day with the Church of En­gland?

And now if these things strike a dread and terror into you, if the Popish Tyranny doth affect you with hor­rour, and you tremble to think of their cruelties and persecutions towards those who do not embrace their monstrous Tenents and Doctrines, have a care you pro­voke not God to deliver you up once more to their pow­er, and leave you to be inslaved and tortured by the Ja­nizaries of Rome, for your uncharitable practices towards the Church of England, let not your unjust cavils and aspersions, your prejudices and ill will you bear towards it enforce him to take it away from you, since you know not how to value the blessing you enjoy by the establish­ment of it, and leave you to be blinded with the spirit of Error and Idolatry; but be at last perswaded to open your eyes, and have but once a due regard to that Churh, whose Docttines are so sound, whose Principles are so firm, and whose integrity so unquestioned.

And when once you have so far considered its worth and excellency, as to esteem and value it as you ought to do, by laying aside all your prejudices against it, you will then quickly be perswaded with one heart, and one mind, to embrace all those sanctions and institutions which she thinks fit to enjoyn you, which is the second thing I shall propose to you.

Unity is the very Bond, and Cement of all Christian Society, and 'tis impossible to make a rupture in that body which is tied, and kept close together by this holy Ligature, and this our adversaries know very well, and therefore though they endeavour unity as much as in them lies amongst themselves, because it renders them very strong and formidable, yet they have so far experienced the old Maxim, Divide & Impera, that it hath been their [Page 31]business to cause their business to cause the greatest divi­sions, and separation amongst us, that so they may make a prey of us, and like the Kite in the Fable carry away the feeble combatants whilst they are pecking at one another with bents and bulrushes: and to this purpose it is, that they are creeping into all houses, and transforming them­selves, like Proteus, into all shapes, hence it is that they counterfeit any manner of Sect, and cant in all tones, and adapt themselves to all humours, and become all things to all men, though in another sense that S. Paul did, even to seduce all. And now though we know this to be their project, and design to subvert Church and State, and are sensible they can no way better do it than by widening the breach of separation, yet are we so foolish to hearken still to the bewitching charms of these Sirens, till they draw us at last into the sea of destruction? Hath not the wisest man that ever lived told us that a Kingdom divided against it self cannot stand? Luke xi. 17. And did not the ancient Britains ex­perience this truth in this Nation, when by their mutual feuds and animosities they fell a Sacrifice to their foreign enemies, for, dum pugnant singuli vincuntur universi? Nay have we not great reason to believe what some consider­ing persons have affirmed upon very probable conjectures, that if ever Popery came in amongst us, it would most certainly creep in through the back door of Separation? And yet for all we know, and are forewarned of this, shall we give the opportunity to these Philistins to bind us, and take from us our strength by cutting away the locks of Unity that would make us invincible? Were you ever in more danger than at this time? Do you not see these mad Bulls of Bashan ramping and roaring, Psal. xxii. 12, 13. and gnashing upon you with their teeth? Upon which ac­count there was never a more absolute necessity to forget all animosities, to lay aside all unnecessary cavils and scruples than now, and to join your forces together with one consent, John xi. 48. lest the Romans should come and take away [Page 32]both your place and Nation. Join therefore your hands and hearts together, and become as one people, for such a blessed Union would frustrate all the designs and plots of our enemies, it would become a brazen wall of defence round about us, which they would never be able to undermine, or cast down, it will put them quite out of heart, and dash all their hopes, it would take away from them all advantages, and put them to their last shifts; nay in fine, 'tis the only way to continue peace and happiness to the Nation: for God who is the God of peace, of order and unity, would then begin to take a delight in us, and protect us under the shadow of his wings from all the outward violences and secret machina­tions of the sons of Belial, and if we could once be per­swaded to arrive at so good, and holy a temper of mind, as with one heart, Rom. xv. 6. and one voice to glorifie God even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, this would so far endear him to us as to ensure him on our sides, and to gain his Patro­uage; and then let men or devils combine against us, and threaten our Church with ruine and desolation, He that sitteth in the Heavens would laugh them to scorn, Psal. ii. 4. the Lord would have them in derision: and as he would defeat all the evil contrivances of our enemies against it, so would he raise it to greater beauty and lustre, and establish it upon such firm, durable and lasting foundations, that the gates of Hell should never be able to prevail against it: Since then these would be the joyful effects of Unity, since this would make God to be our peculiar Guardian, and us to be his more especial favourites, since this would be a means to secure us from all our enemies, and reduce us to a blissful, and a flourishing condition, if either you desire to desire to promote the common interest of your Religion, or your Brethrens welfare, or your Nations happiness, let S. Pauls advice sink down in your hearts, and appear practicable in your lives; I beseech you, Bre­thren, 1 Cor. i. 10. by the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak [Page 33]the same things, and that there be no divisions amongst you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind, and in the same judgment.

2. Secondly, as united hearts, minds, and judgments would become one very instrumental means to divert Gods Judgments from us, so would our joint concurrence in humbling our selves by Prayer and Supplication be another excellent way to move God to commiserate our condition, and preserve us from destruction. When Jonah came with that severe message to Niniveh, that in forty days God was resolved to destroy it, both nature, and the present danger they were in suggested it to them to address themselves in all humility to the supreme Being, who had sent his Prophet to denounce that Judgment against them, and both King and People, Man and Beast was covered with sackcloth, and they lift up their voices with one accord, and cried mightily to God to deliver them from that evil, which he threatned against them, and we find that they met with success suitable to the impor­tunity and fervency of their prayers, for God repented him of the evil, which he said he would do to that City, Jonah 111.8, 9. and did it not.

O let us follow the same method at this day, let us humble our selves before Almighty God, and if there be ever a Jacob amongst us, any who can wrestle and prevail with God, let him forthwith set about so glorious a work, for never was there more need of such pressing intercessions: Alass, when we see our enemies ready to devour us, when we find they are restless in their plots and conspiracies against us, 'tis sure high time for us to fall to our prayers, and be as restless in our supplications to God Almighty to disappoint them: and indeed if we were but once really sensible of our danger, as it would melt the strongest heart living, and make it bleed to con­sider the miseries that would ensue from hence, so would it make us fly forthwith with the greatest speed to Gods [Page 34]Sanctuary, and there implore the Auxiliaries of Heaven to succour and relieve us: and since we know not how long we may enjoy the blessed opportunity of treading in Gods Courts, and calling upon his name, and deprecating his judgments, as blessed be God, we do yet for the pre­sent; since we are not sure how soon we may be banished from his Temples, be abridged of his worship, be depri­ved of his word, and made to wander to and fro from this place to that place, from this City to that City, to seek that word, which yet we shall not be able to find, why do not we make the best use of it whilst me may? Why do not we assemble more unanimously together, and with whole Volleys of Prayers storm the gates of Heaven, and enforce God to stand up for us, and to become our defence and refuge? If your Houses were like to perish in a general Conflagration, would you not all run to quench the fire with the greatest celerity? And when the whole Kingdom is ready to be put into a flame by a com­pany of turbulant Popish Incendiaries, will not you be as ready to use all possible means to obstruct and allay it? Now since nothing can be more effectual to this purpose than Prayer, why are we so back ward in the performance of this Holy Duty? What is the reason our petitioners are so few, and the House of Prayer so empty and unfre­quented? Alas, Can we think that God will do what we would have him, though we say nothing at all to him, or that a short, slight, sleepy-hearted address now and then, when we please, will serve the turn? Can we hope to bind Gods hands with withs and straws, to arrest his vengeance with weak and feeble Assaults? What our Saviour said in another case, that this kind, speaking of such Devils as had got possession of mens bodies, The Arch-Bi­shop of Can­terbury in his late Sermon before the House of Lords. goeth not out but by Prayer and Fasting; may be said of the Jesuits, the Devils of Sedition and Faction, of Treason and Rebellion, those Familiars of Rome, and Rhemes, and St. Omers, as they are justly stiled by the greatest Prelate [Page 35]in this Nation, which have so long possessed and agitated a wretched part of this Kingdom, they are not to be quelled easily or driven out from hence, but by the most serious humiliation, and by the most fervent prayers and supplications of holy Votaries: then let our hands never wax heavy, but be always held up like Moses, in a devout importunity; let us consider, and lay to heart what great need we have now more than ever, to be constant at Church, and devout at our prayers, and from thence be perswaded with one accord to perform this so acceptable a duty, let us lift up our hearts and voice in some such petition as that of Holy David, O, Psai. lxxiv. ver. 19. deliver not the soul of thy turtle dove to the multitude of the wicked, forget not the congregation of the poor for ever. Arise, O God, plead thine own cause, remember how the foolish man blasphemeth thee daily. Forget not the voice of thine enemies, the tu­mult of those that rise up against thee increaseth continu­ally.

3. Now if to such ardent Petitions as these we add in the last place a true and serious Reformation of what is amiss amongst us, then will God be intreated for the Land, and become gracious unto us: but indeed without this there is very little hopes of it; for can we think that when continual provocations are offered to him, he will still connive at them, and bear with them? Can we ima­gine that when the blasphemies of the profane, the sen­sualities of the voluptuous, and the mockeries of the Hypocrite send up daily challenges to Heaven, this will not at last overcome Gods patience and long-suffering, awake him to vindicate the honour of his name, and not suffer it any longer to be thus prostituted and polluted? Will the deepest sighs, or the loudest clamours to Heaven be able to drown our impieties, or the most importunate Petitions make an atonement for our transgressions? no, the wise man hath told us, Prov. xv. 8. That the prayer of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, and it was the blinds mans [Page 36]Divinity in the Gospel, Joh. ix. 31. Now we know that God heareth not sinners; and therefore it was well observed by St. Cyril, that it was very absurd, for those who come by Prayer to obtain mercy, to provoke the Divine Law-giver another way by not doing what he commands. The only way to have all our supplications answered by God with a graci­ous return, is to make our lives the transcripts of our Prayers, not only to pray against sin, but to endeavour to relinquish those sins we pray against, not only to beg of God that he would enable us to perform his Holy Laws, but actually to set our selves about the perfor­mance of that which we crave of him: and unless we do thus, our Prayers are but the labour of the Lungs, which, like bellows, make the fire of Gods anger burn fiercer, but do not blow it out: therefore, saith God to the Jews, When you spread forth your hands, Isa. 1.15. I will hide my face from you; when you make many Prayers I will not hear, and what was the reason of this? the following words tell you, your hands are full of blood: As if God had said, you come and worship in my Temple, and offer up the Sacrifice of Prayer to me, but you keep your old sins, and stick close to your former transgressions, and this makes me hate and abominate all your service; but then, as he reproves them severely for such Hypocrisie, so in the next place he prescribes them a way to regain his fa­vour. Verse 16, 17, &c. Wash you make you clean, put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes, cease to evil, learn to do well, seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judg the fatherless, plead for the widow; Come now, and let us reason together, though your sins be as scarlet they shall be white as snow, though they be red as crimson, they shall be as wooll. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the Land, but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be destroyed by the sword: The same advice is given them by Jeremi­ab, Jerem. xvii. 4. Trust ye not in lying words, saying, the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord, the Temple of the Lord are [Page 37]these. For if ye throughly amend your ways and your do­ings; if ye thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbour; if ye oppress not the stranger, the fatherless and the widow, and shed not innocent blood in this place, neither walk after other Gods to your hurt; then will I cause you to dwell in this place in the Land that I gave to your fathers for ever and ever.

So that you see upon what terms 'tis God suspends his judgments, 'tis upon repentance and amendment, and therefore we find in the instance I gave you before of Ni­neveh, that when they there did turn away every one from his evil way, and from the violence that was in their hands, God had mercy on them, and destroyed them not; by which we may find what we of this Nation are now to hope and trust to; for the result of all in this, if we per­sist in our disobedience and impenitency, in our contempt of God and Religion, in Profaneness and Hypocrisie, such things will most certainly make us ripe for Gods ven­geance, but if we reclaim our evil ways, and reform what is amiss; if we worship God more devoutly, and pray unto him sincerely, and repent unfeignedly, then will God preserve us still from our enemies, all the Je­suits and Emissaries of Rome shall never be able to do us any prejudice, but our Church shall still flourish, and our Kingdom shall enjoy greater measures of happiness, and we shall all sit under our Vines and our Figg-trees to eat the fruit of our labour in peace and tranquillity.

I will conclude all therefore with the Prophet Zephani­ah's advice, and let us all endeavour to treasure it up care­fully in our hearts: Gather your selves together, Zeph. ii. 1, 2, & 3. before the decree bring forth, before the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord come upon you: Seek ye the Lord, all the meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment, seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be you shall be hid in the day of the Lords anger.

GODS CALL TO Weeping and Mourning.

ISAIAH xxij. 12, 13, 14.

And in that day did the Lord God of Hosts call to weep­ing, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth.

And behold, joy and gladness, slaying Oxen, and killing Sheep, eating Flesh, and drinking Wine: let us eat and drink, for to morrow we shall die.

And it was revealed in mine ears by the Lord of Hosts, Surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord God of Hosts.

IT is not long since we kept a Day of Humiliation to implore Gods Mercy, and deprecate his Judg­ment, which seemed to hang over our heads, by a bloody Plot contrived by Papists, to murder our King, to subvert our Religion, and enslave our King­dom by reducing it again under the Romish Yoke, a Yoke which neither we nor our Forefathers were able to bear.

And he that considers with himself how ready and active the Devil is, who was [...] a murderer from the beginning, John viii. 44. still to instigate and spur forward his Agents, to set Kingdoms in flames, and make the Streets swim with the Blood of good and holy Christians; how willingly the Jesuits, who be his chiefest Factors, do obey such diabolical motions, under what unhappy circum­stances we of this Nation are for the present by reason of our manifold and potent enemies abroad, our private feuds and divisions at home, and above all our open da­ring and notorious sins and abominations, which justly call aloud to heaven for vengeance upon us, will certain­ly be perswaded that a second day of Humiliation is no less necessary than the former, which it is much to be feared was not observed with those hearty resentments of indignation against our sins, with those sincere testimo­nies of outward and inward contrition, and with those cordial resolutions of future reformation and amendment, which the grievousness of the Judgment, and the great­ness of the danger impendent over us did justly require at all our hands.

And now that the drowsy may be awakened, the igno­rant instructed, the negligent excited, the improvident forewarned, and all of us deeply affected with a true sense of our condition, and by a timely repentance pre­vent those calamities which threaten the extirpation of the Ecclesiastical and Civil Polity amongst us, I have made choice of these words of the Prophet, wherein God seems now to give us as seasonable a call, as he did then to the Jews: And in that day did the Lord God of Hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, &c. From which words there are three things will fall under our consideration.

1. The unspeakable Mercy and Kindness of God to the Jews, in calling them to a solemn and serious humiliation; Ver. 12. In that day did the Lord God of Hosts call to [Page 41]weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth.

2. The horrible Ingratitude of the Jews, who instead of humbling themselves before God, went on in their former habituated courses of voluptuousness, and sensu­ality: For behold ver. 13. joy and gladness, &c.

3. The astonishing Resolution of God upon their not hearkning to, and obeying that gracious call, viz. to root them out and destroy them: Ver. 14. Surely your iniquity shall not be purged from you till you die, saith the Lord of Hosts.

I. I begin with the first of these, the unspeakable mercy and kindness of God to the Jews, in calling them to a so­lemn and serious Humiliation: In that day did the Lord of Hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, &c. Whether this call was by his Prophet threatning them with some severe Judgment for their perseverance in iniquity, or whether by some smart Judgment which God thought fit to lay upon them, he endeavoured to reclaim them from the evil of their ways, and bring them to a sight and sense of their follies before their final extirpation, 'tis certain that either or both of these calls were very ex­pressive of his loving kindness towards them.

1. For first, it argues the great Care and concernment God had still for their Nation, how sollicitous he was to preserve, and to continue it, to protect and to defend it, to make them still a glorious and a flourishing people, happy in themselves, and a terror to their enemies.

2. And secondly, it was an argument of his Patience and forbearance, in sparing and reprieving them from punishment when they most deserved it.

3. And thirdly, it was an incentive to their Duty, a memorandum to put them in mind, what course they should take under such gracious methods, namely to fall to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with sackcloth; that is, by such outward lugubrious ge­stures [Page 42]of body, as well as an inward anguish and vexation of spirit, to declare their sincere hatred of all sin, and resolution of amendment.

So that from hence here will be three things to be insisted upon.

1. The Providence of God in taking care of King­doms and Communities of Mankind, he suffers not things to go at random in them, but he disposeth of them as he thinks fit, and when there is a necessity he calls to them.

2. His Patience and forbearance, he doth not punish without giving them notice, he calls them first, and then he strikes.

3. The End of all his gracious calls, 'tis to work in them a thorough humiliation for their transgressions.

1. First, I shall consider the Providence of God in ta­king care of Kingdoms, and Communities of Mankind, where all things do not happen by chance, but the divine disposal of God Almighty, who calls to them, and exerts his power amongst them when there is occasion for it. It was a fond and strange opinion of the Epicureans of old, that God was so taken up with the contemplation of his own excellencies and perfections, that he would not so much as vouchsafe to cast one glance down upon these Sublunary Regions; that it was below the Majesty of Heaven to be concerned in the pitiful affairs of poor earthly miscreants, and to be angry at their follies, or seem to applaud their actions, was irreconcileable with the Divine Happiness, which was unmixed and pure, free from any thing that might disturb or disquiet it: a fancy no doubt which Lucian gathered from their Schools, (in which he was no small proficient, as a learned and worthy person tells us) for he brings in old Japetus and Saturn tipling Nectar together, Archdeacon of Canterbury in his Book De Deo & Pro­videntia. and spending their time in telling old stories, Saturn confessing that he was gouty, which gave occasion to the Poets to write, that he was fet­tered [Page 43]by Jupiter, to whom as being the younger, and more active, he resigned the thunder, and the Kingdom, not troubling himself with hearing mens prayers, and punish­ing their offences, that being a troublesome and irksome piece of service. But if God Almighty be thus confined to Heaven, and his Providence doth not expand it self over all the Universe, what account can be given of the establishment of one Kingdom upon the ruines of another; that one Nation, whose Senators are wise and politick, whose Armies are strong and numerous, whose People are warlike and couragious, should fall a prey to ano­ther which is far inferiour to them, either in wisdom or conduct, in strength or policy? How can this possibly be solved but by admitting that it is God who weakens and infatuates the one, and strengthens, and gives assistance to the other, and by that means declares himself to be the Person alone that setteth up one Kingdom, and plucketh down another, as it shall seem good to him in his wisdom and justice. Look we but abroad into the revolution of some of the grand Empires and Kingdoms of the world, and we shall find this truth abundantly verified. Tell me, what could make Cyrus the Persian so puissant and victorious over the fierce Nations of the East, but that God who raised him up, and called by his name long before he was born, was an assistant to him, and crowned him with success by leading him into Babylon, when that City was most secure, full of wine and jollity, at an anni­versary feast, by a way they little dreamed of? And what could entitle the Macedonian Prince Alexander to so great Victories over the Persians, but that God infatuated their Counsels, and gave him such advantages, which if he made but use of, he could not fail of success? It might seem strange to some, that the cowardly Goths, and bar­barous Vandals, and despicable Hunns, shold make such devastations in the Roman Empire, which had been a terrour to the greatest part of the World, and that in [Page 44]fifty years time more of it should be lost and destroyed, than had been conquered in a thousand; but when again 'tis considered that the hand of God was in this desola­tion, and that something which was divine over-ruling all the Counsels and Stratagems of the gravest Roman Senators, made that Nation at last improsperous in all their enterprizes, we may justly cease our wondering, and conclude with Solomon, that the race is not always to the swift, Eccles. ix. 11. nor battel to the strong, but that God ordereth and disposeth all things as seems most expedient to his infinite wisdom.

But to come nearer to the Text, how often did the Jews, with a handful of men, work miracles against their stron­gest enemies? How many Cities did they destroy? How many Fortresses did they demolish? What Armies did they put to flight, and how many Nations did they sub­due, and that many times by such unlikely means, by such weak forces, and under such unhappy circumstances, that nothing can be plainer, that if so be God had not presided in their Councils, inspirited them with courage, removed all difficulties, and fought their battels, it had been im­possible for them to have effected such wonderful ex­ploits: but now although he had taken so great care of them, had subdued all the Nations under them, and gi­ven them the Land of the Heathen for an inheritance, yet to shew them likewise that he had still the same power to dispose of them and their Kingdom to other people, as he had done of other Kingdoms to them; he calls to them to learn so much duty from his care and his provi­dence over them, as to humble themselves under his Al­mighty hand, lest he should make them as great a prey to their Enemies as their Enemies had been to them; Deut. ix. 4, 5. for as it was not for the righteousness or the uprightness of their hearts, that God gave possession of the Land of Ca­naan to Israel, but for the wickedness of those Nations did the Lord drive them out from before them, so would [Page 45]he deal with them, and by the same Arm of providence destroy them before the face of the Heathen, if they did not forsake the evil of their ways, and become obedient unto the voice of the Lord their God.

You see then how far the Providence of God is plea­sed to interest, and concern it self with Societies of man­kind; as there is no Nation, which is out of its reach, so there is none but hath felt the effects of its influence, and if we will but take the pains to trace it in those footsteps which are visible in this our Kingdom, we shall find such evident marks, and notices of it amongst us, as will justly call us to a serious humiliation for the further con­tinuance of such mercies towards us: that for these many years now together we of England have enjoyed a bles­sed and a glorious peace in our Nation, whilst all Europe beside hath swom in streams of blood; that we should all be exempted from the misery of War, whilst our Neigh­bours round about us have been continually spoiled and harassed by the rapine and cruelty of the insolent Soldie­ry, that the black Clouds, and frightful Hurricanes, which the Jesuits have conjured up, should not fall down in showers of blood and vengeance upon our heads; that all the bold Popish Confederates, who, like St. Paul's Assassinates, had bound themselves under the most solemn vows and obligations, that they would murder our Sove­reign, massacre his Subjects, subvert our Church, and un­dermine our State, should as yet be disappointed and de­feated in their machinations; to what can we justly a­scribe all this, but to the gracious Protection and Provi­dence of God Almighty? Indeed, did not he spread his shady wings over us, and protect us, we should soon fall under these Popish Cormorants clutches, so secret are their Plots, so cunning their Contrivances, so politick their Agents, and so numerous and resolute are they in all their enterprizes: and could their stratagems prevail, and their devices take effect, how joyful would they be at [Page 46]such an accomplishment of their designs! What Jubilees would be kept, could they but gain this Kingdom, or could they but once seize upon the Vineyards of our Naboths, how willingly would they feast and glut themselves with their blood into the bargain! but, God be thanked, that we are as yet out of their power, that we are still under the arms of Gods gracious Providence, that God is plea­sed to call us to humiliation, that so he may continue his protection over us, that he is pleased to give us notice upon what terms we may expect his further patronage, upon what conditions he will be a Patriot to our Coun­trey, a Guardian to our Church, a refuge to us all in our greatest dangers and extremities: and this is the first thing observable from Gods Call, the great care and con­cernment he hath for communities of mankind, by cal­ling them to repentance, that so they may become fit sub­jects for his Patronage and Protection.

2. A second thing observable from Gods Call is his Pa­tience and Forbearance in calling to men before he strike: though their provocations are high, their wickedness ve­ry hainous, and their sins ripe for vengeance, yet he fre­quently defers punishment, and gives them timely notice to prevent it by repentance. In the Patriarchal Age be­fore the Flood, though wickedness was grown rampant, and the manners of men very corrupt and vitious, God did not presently pour down the vials of his wrath, but upbraid them first for their crimes by Enoch, who was an eminent Prophet in those days (a fragment of whose Prophesie is still extant in St. Judes Epistle) and only threaten them with vengeance upon their perseverance in impenitency. Afterwards when the world grew worse and worse, and wickedness appeared with a brazen forehead, and violence had covered the face of the earth, when the promiscuous mixtures of the Children of Seth and Cain had produced Giants and mighty men, men strong to do evil, and who had as much will as power, [...], [Page 47]as Josephus calls them, a race of men insolent and ungovernable, scornful and injurious, and who bearing up themselves in the confidence of their own strength de­spised all justice and equity, and made every thing truc­kle under their extravagant lusts and appetites, a character which Lucian gives the men of this Age, speaking of the time of Deucalion (their Noah) and the flood, for saith he [...], &c. they be­ing men exceedingly contumelious were guilty of the most enormous and unrighteous actions, violating all oaths and covenants, throwing off kindness and hospitality, and rejecting all supplications and addresses made to them: I say, when mankind was grown to so prodigious a height of impiety, and this infection had spread it self over all parts, and was become so epidemical, that all flesh had corrupted their ways, and scarce any but Noah left to keep up the face of a Church, and the profession of Religion: things being come to this pass quickly a­larum'd the Divine Justice, and made the world ripe for vengeance; the patience of God was now tired out, and he resolved to make mankind feel the just effects of his incensed severity: but yet in the midst of judgment he remembred mercy, for he tells them, although he would not suffer his patience to be eternally prostituted to the wanton humours of unreasonable and wicked men, and although his spirit would not always strive with them, di­sceptabit, as some Divines render it, dispute, Gen. VI. 3. and reason with them, yet that he would bear with them 120 years longer, in order to their Reformation; so loth is God to take an advantage of the sins of men, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come unto re­pentance. Well, thus it was in the Antideluvian Age; and when the world was replenished with new inhabi­tants, who tempted and provoked the most high God afresh, by such sins and abominations as were of the dee­pest dye, yet God did not presently open the treasuries [Page 48]of vengeance, and speak their ruine, and decree their destruction, but still endeavoured to reclaim them by seasonable precautions, and deferred his punishment, and waited patiently for their amendment: and to instance in Israel, who was a people as signal for their perverseness and rebellion as for the manifold favours they received from the Almighty, under the Parable of the Vineyard, God is pleased to give a clear demonstration of the tender care, and regard he had still for them notwithstanding their reiterated provocations against him, for he made this Vineyard upon a very fruitful Hill, Isa. v. and he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vines; nay, he digged it, and dunged it, pruned it, and watered it, used all the art of cultivation, that might cause it to be fruitful, hoping and looking still for some productions proportionable to his care and indu­stry concerning it; nay, and when it still, year after year, disappointed his expectations, and brought forth wild Grapes instead of Grapes, he was loth to withdraw his kindness from it, but continued to dress and to manure it, and suffered it, Luke xiii. 7, 8, 9. like the Figg-tree in the Gospel, (an Em­blem still of the same People) further to trespass upon his patience, and would not destroy it till there was no hopes of its improvement.

And to apply this to our selves: Hath not God plan­ted as choice a Vineyard in this Nation, and evidenced his Providence and his loving kindness towards it by cul­tivating and preserving it for many years together in as ample a manner, as he did that amongst the Jews? Hath any Church of the world received greater notices of his favour, more peculiar marks of his affection, or more signal testimonies of his care on it, than the Church of England, of which we profess our selves to be members? Hath not the Divine Omnipotency interposed it self many times miraculously for its deliverance, and have we not been as fire-brands pluck'd out of the fire, rescued from the [Page 49]most apparent dangers, snatch'd from the very jaws of death, and the pit of destruction? How frequently have the crafty Foxes of Geneva endeavoured to undermine us, and the wild Boars of Rome to root us up, and de­vour us; and yet notwithstanding all their secret Cabals, their slie insinuations, and politick projections, have been disappointed of their hopes, and frustrated in their expe­ctations? As nothing could be more cruelly contrived, than the present Popish Plot, so nothing could be more secretly managed, for as if the Devil and the Jesuits had laid their heads together, and joyned in a league to ruin and dispatch us, nothing could seem more to favour their barbarous enterprize: they had strengthened themselves against us with Foreign interests abroad, they had drawn into the confederacy many of their friends at home, a ge­neral Massacre was resolved upon, and most of us to be entombed in the ruins of our Kingdom, whilst they e­rected triumphant Trophies upon the piles of our mur­dered and mangled Carkasses: but behold, when they thought themselves most sure, when they were pleasing themselves with the thoughts of a prosperous success in their designs, the Lord in mercy looked upon us by dis­covering their wicked intentions, by defeating their cur­sed projects, and bringing to light their mischievous pra­ctices and machinations against us; and though in justice, by reason of our manifold offences against him, he might have suffered us to be taken by their wilyness, to be en­snared by their devices, and fall a prey to these malitious and blood-thirsty Boutefeus, yet he hath reprieved us for some longer time from their tyranny and cruel deal­ings, and is resolved to try what effects this his gracious and merciful providence will have upon us, hoping still that this his patience and forbearance will lead us to re­pentance.

3. Which brings me to the third Consideration I pro­posed from the Text, the end of all Gods callings to man­kind, [Page 50]'tis to work in them a thorough and sincere humi­liation for their transgressions; In that day did the Lord God of Host call to weeping and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding with Sackcloth: now although these put together are but the exteriour superficies of repentance, yet they are very good signs and symptoms of the reality of its performance, and necessary in order to its accep­tance with God Almighty: a weeping eye and a blubber­ed cheek, a mournful heart and an afflicted spirit, a mor­tified body and a penitent soul, (which I confess must be indispensably superadded to all the rest) must needs become Sacrifices acceptable to God, and will at any time, no doubt, be very available to avert all present danger, to prevent all future punishment, or at least to secure such safety and deliverance, as may be most necessary, and expedient in the dismal times of calamity.

1. Such humiliation is very necessary to avert all pre­sent danger: though the hand of vengeance be lifted up, this can hinder the stroke, though the sword of justice be drawn, this can hold it back, though the decree be issued forth, this may prevent the execution; for so saith Jeremi­ah, Chap. xviii. 7, 8. At what instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it: If that nation against whom I have pronounced, turn from their e­vil, then I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them. I cannot give you a better instance than in that of Nineveh, God sends his Prophet to them to assure them, that they had but forty days space allowed them either to repent in, or to be destroyed: Jonah iii. 3. upon this they being immediately struck with the guilt of their own sins, and the terror of this judgment set a part a solemn day, without any further delays, for fasting and humiliation, for they put on Sack­cloth from the least to the greatest, and caused their very beasts to fast as well as themselves, that so, as St. Gregory observes, the bleating of the Sheep, and lowing of the Cattel, with such other doleful notes might move the [Page 51]hearts of men still to further sadness, which is a great pre­parative to repentance: and how did they speed upon this? What success did their contrition and humiliation meet with, even with the greatest their hearts could wish or desire, for God altered his purposes forthwith con­cerning this people; the Text saith, Vers. 9. He repented of the evil he said he would do unto them, and did it not.

We are all alarum'd at the news of great dangers which hang over our heads, and who is so obdurate and insen­sate amongst us, as not to be affected with the horror of them? I am apt to think that the yoke of Rome is as dreadful to us as ever that of Egypt was to the people of Israel, nor did they more tremble at the name of the Aegyptian Task-masters, than we do when we hear of the leagues and frauds, the treacheries and conspira­cies, the seditions and insurrections, the butcheries and massacres of the Popish Emissaries: but will our fears prevent our dangers, or our jealousies become a bar to our miseries? Will a bare antipathy against them keep us out of their reach, or a few weak sighs, or insignificant groans, blow away those storms that threaten both Church and State with inevitable destruction? No, the only cer­tain way to be eased of our cares, and have our fears a­bated, is to gain God on our sides by a timely humiliation, and then we need not fear what the malice of man can do unto us: indeed we are too apt to rely upon a weak arm of flesh, to confide in the strength and the policy, in the counsel and advice, in the consultation and resolutions of those who preside over us; thus we feed our selves with fancies, that if our Senators be but quick and sagacious in making a thorough discovery of these wicked incen­diaries, if our Magistrates be but speedy in the execution of the Laws against them, if these Traitors be but brought to condign punishment for the present, and severe Laws be enacted for the security of the King, and the preser­vation of the State for future Generations, all things yet [Page 52]will go well, and we may hope still for glorious days of peace and tranquillity: but then we do not consider, that when those are dispatched we have Traitors still amongst us at our own homes, within our own breasts, I mean our Sins, which, if not executed likewise with no less rigour and severity, will open still a door, and let in others from abroad no less dreadful and pestilential than those are, when we think our selves most secure and out of danger. It was a smart answer which an English Commander gave a French Captain in Normandy, who asking him, when he thought their Forces, which were called back for England, by King Henry the sixth, would return into those parts a­gain, replyed, When their sins called for them. Yea, 'tis they which are the inlets to all the evil in the world, 'tis they make a gap, open the avenues for our Enemies to come upon us armed, and never believe the Seminaries of Rome will desert this Nation, till by unfeigned repentance we have obstructed their passage, and God, by reason of that shall think fit not to suffer them any longer to torment, and persecute us: Humble then you selves under the mighty hand of God, 'tis the best way to avert present danger.

2. 'Tis as expedient likewise to prevent all future pu­nishment; Repentance is not only an antidote against present evils, but a most certain defensative against all fu­ture calamities: we are very ready to believe, that if this Plot could be but thoroughly fifted; if the bottom of it could be dived into, the chief Abettors of it discover­ed, the Confederates laid open, the Associates brought to light, the whole Popish Faction would be so bafled and disappointed, and their motion for the future watch­ed with such vigilancy, and caution, that they could ne­ver be able to do us any more prejudice: But put the case this were true, suppose we could obviate all their de­signs, countermine all their Plots, be privy to all their Cabals, and receive weekly Bills of Intelligence from all their Consults in Spain, Italy, France or Flanders; sup­pose [Page 53]they should still be so infatuated in their Counsels, divided in their interests, and so weakened by their ill success, as nothing could come to any maturity which they projected against us; yet can we be so foolish to imagin that God hath no other workmen to make him Darts and Arrows than Papists, or no other executioners of his ven­geance but Jesuits? Alas, if our offences require it, there are instruments enough befide to serve God in his purpo­ses, he can raise up wicked Agents within our own King­dom to ruin and destroy us; he can, if he please, make a Synedrial Classis of Geneva become as fatal to us as a Con­clave at Rome, and permit a trumpet of Sedition in order to our downfall to be blown as loud out of a Fanatick Con­venticle, as a Jesuits Cloyster: he can crumble us into Fa­ctions and Divisions amongst our selves, and make every Schismatical Sect amongst us become his rod and scourge to chastise our wickedness and folly: nay, he need not go so far for executioners to dispatch us, for he can raise up within our own bowels Ministers of his wrath, as he served Antiochus and Herod, to put a period to our lives and sins together: and nothing but a serious and sincere Repentance, though perhaps we do escape now, can give us any assurance that we shall not fall, for the future, by one or other of those direful Assassinates.

'Tis observable in all the States and Kingdoms of the world, as in Aegypt, Babylon, Jewry, &c. whom God en­forced to drink the dreadful cup of his fury, that their final impenitency was the cause of their destruction, and they might perhaps yet have flourished and been in vogue in the world, had not their sins intercepted the Divine Favour, and hastened their ruin. There is nothing can make a Nation firm and durable, lasting and permanent, settle it upon such foundations, as that when the rain de­scends, and the floods come, and the winds blow, they shall not be able to shake it, but Repentance alone, which will so fortifie and strengthen it, that the gates of Hell [Page 54]shall not be able to prevail against it: upon which ac­count, if we would for ever promote the universal happi­ness of out Nation, prevent all future attempts and de­signs of its Enemies against it, and establish it upon such solid and lasting foundations, as no shocks of the most puissant assailants shall be able to demolish it, let us answer Gods Call, and fall to weeping and mourning.

3. By which means, I dare assure you, that if we could not avert present danger, nor prevent future punishment, yet we may thirdly, without all peradventure, deliver our own souls; yea, this is the comfort that the truly penitent man receives, though Gods judgment fly abroad to the terror of the wicked, Psal. lvii. 1. though the storms and bil­lows of affliction do arise, yet either under the shadow of his wings will hide him, 1 Cor. x. 13. until those calamities be over­past, or else with the temptation make a way to escape, that he may be able to bear it: if the old Dragon cast out a flame of fire to destroy the Church, if the Clouds of persecution fall in showers upon the penitent mans head, yet behold, Isa. xliii. 2. When he passeth through the water, God will be with him, and through the rivers, they shall not overflow him, when he walks through the fire, he shall not be burnt, neither shall the flame kindle upon him: nay, God hath decreed to set a mark upon his head, that so he may escape the fury of the destroyer; Set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh, and that cry for all the abominations, that are done in the midst of her; Ezek. ix. 4.5. and to the others he said, Go ye after him through the city, and smite, let not your eye spare, nei­ther have pity, slay utterly both old and young, both maids and little children, and women, but come not near any man upon whom is the mark. You see then upon terms, you may hope for safety in the gloomy days of Calamity; if your returns be proportionable to Gods gracious calls, if you exercise all the acts of true penance and contrition, though your Nation should be consumed in the day of the Lords anger, yet your repentance shall render you so [Page 55]grateful a Sacrifice to him, as will cause him, not only to accept your persons, but to secure and protect them, to be your shield and buckler, your high tower and defence in the greatest extremities.

And now this being the design of Gods gracious call to Israel, one would be apt to think that such endearing methods of kindness should have met with some suitable returns of duty, that such cords of love should have drawn the Jews to a compliance with Gods desires, and such Philtrum's of mercy charm'd them into good nature, and a complaisant obedience; nay, one would believe it almost impossible for intelligent beings, who had but any spark left of the sensitive part of humanity, not to be armed against future danger upon such fair premoniti­ons, and be perswaded from thence to provide for their own safety, and consult their own security, much less to be guilty of such oscitancy and supineness, such obdura­cy and perverseness, as neither to be won by love nor awed by fear, but to set up themselves in opposition to God, their own ways in contradistinction to his, and re­solve, that because God will have one thing, they will be sure to act clear contrary to the Divine Pleasure: and yet this was the case of the Jews in the Text, which brings me to the second observable.

II. To consider their horrible Ingratitude towards God, who as it were, in defiance to his Almighty hand, cal­led to joy and gladness, when God thought it most ne­cessary to call to weeping and mourning; to slaying sheep, and killing oxen, when God thought fasting and abstinence to be most proper for them; nay, to eating and drinking, even downright luxury and profaneness, when God expected, by a mortified body and a penitent soul, to have received the earnest from them of a tho­rough Reformation.

From which unworthy procedure of this people to­wards God, there will three things again fall under con­sideration.

[Page 56] 1. The base Nature and disingenuous Temper of the Jews, thus boldly to thwart God in all his gracious designs towards them.

2. Their carnal Security which made them deaf to the loudest Calls, and regardless of all such things which were of the greatest moment and concernment to them.

3. Their prodigious Luxury and Voluptuousness, which laid their consciences asleep, and made them incredulous, hard-hearted and remorseless, unfit to relent at any thing, which was threatned against them, or to receive any Di­vine favour or kindness that was offered them.

1. I shall consider the disingenuous Temper, and base Nature of the Jews, thus to thwart God Almighty in the most gracious designs, and purposes concerning them. 'Tis the opinion of some Divines, that one reason why God was pleased to make choice of the Jews, as a pecu­liar people, and select them from all the rest of the world beside, was indeed out of meer pity and compassion to­wards them, because he knew they were a sort of men of the most obstinate, refractory and unmanageable tem­per beyond all other Nations throughout the Universe, and therefore stood most in need of it: and indeed had they not been of so untractable a disposition, and of a mold quite differing from all the race of mankind beside, 'tis hardly supposeable, that under such happy circum­stances, as God was pleased to place them, they could e­ver have miscarried, and become at last the off-scouring and the contempt of the world, had not their own unpa­rallel'd ingratitude opened a way for their ruin, and their incorrigibelness under all means exposed them to such misfortunes; and really, though they appeared in the shapes of men, yet that they seem'd to be devested of the common sentiments and principles of humanity, will be too apparent to any one, who considers, that the most signal marks of the Divine Care and Providence left no more footsteps, nor made any more impressions upon [Page 57]their minds and consciences, than if they had been no­thing else but meer stocks and stones, Statues of Brass, or Pillars of Marble. Who would not be perswaded, that in the age of miracles, when God had delivered Israel out of the hand of the Aegyptians by a mighty hand, and an out-stretched arm, by causing the Red Sea to be a Fortress to them, and a Grave to their enemies; this being an e­verlasting monument of Gods peculiar respect and regard to them, would not be likewise as lasting a memento of duty and obedience to them and their Posterity to all suc­ceeding Generations? And yet no sooner is the Song of praise for that deliverance out of their mouths, but they fall a murmuring and repining at the Author of it, as if he who had divided the Sea for their sakes, could not as well open the treasuries of Heaven, or soften the iron ribs of rocks to supply their exigencies; and when this was done too by miracle, and God had smote the rocks, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed, When he commanded the clouds from above, Psal. lxxv. [...]. 23, 24, 25. and opened the door of Heaven, and had rained down manna upon them to eat, and had given them of the corn of Heaven; yet for all this they sinned still, and the next news we hear of them, is, Psal. cvi. 19. that they chose to worship a molten Calf before this God who had done so great things for them; by this means involving themselves in the grievous guilt of ido­latry, and provoking God to anger by such extravagant inventions: I might give other instances to make good the Psalmists character of them, Psal. lxxviii. 8. that they were a stubborn and rebellious generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast with God, but the Text doth it so fully, that I need not go further; for that when God appears in his bloody robes of vengeance, and shakes the sword of Justice over them, they nevertheless should take so little notice of it as not to abate one inch of their jollity, but continue as merry and frolicksom, as if all was well, is an argument of the most perverse incorrigible hu­mour in the world.

And I wish we be not found guilty of as base and un­worthy requitals: we are all mightily surprized at the rumour and noise of a bloody Plot against us, and this heightens our fears, and increaseth our jealousies: but is our deportment suitable to such dreadful apprehensions, or do we behave our selves as men, whose present fear of danger is the genuine issue of the heart, and not barely of the tongue? doth the dreadfulness of such a judgment cause any alterations in our persons, becloud our counte­nances with sorrow, bedew our cheeks with tears, or af­fect our hearts with such passionate regrets, as the ruin of our State, the subversion of our Church, and the horror of death or slavery may justly call for at all our hands?

Alas, is not a quite contrary behaviour more discerni­ble amongst us, and doth not our uninterrupted jollity, our unseasonable mirth, our excessive joy and gladness under all these circumstances speak our fears to be but counterfeit, or our jealousies superficial, and that what­ever we may profess, we are not really concern'd for the good and interest of our Countrey? Is it an argument of any real care or sincere affection in that Son, who when his Parents shall lie sick, and are upon the very confines of Death and the Grave, shall follow his sports, and indulge himself in pleasure, shall frolick and carouze it, and be as brisk and bonny as if they were well and out of all fear of danger? And when the King, who is Pater patriae, the Father of our Countrey, when the Church, who is our Mother, when our Laws and Liberties seem all to lye at the stake, and are in the most apparent and imminent dan­ger imaginable, can it be fitting or decorous for us to be guilty of such things? Believe it, that is one way to force God to laugh and mock too, and then our laughter may chance to end in the most dismal of all sorrows, even in weeping to all eternity, and in wailing and in gnashing of teeth. Let us take heed then that this be not the result of our mad-brain'd jollity, but let us endeavour to prevent [Page 59]it by mourning both for our own and the sins of the Na­tion; if we cannot redress them, yet let us heartily bewail the mischiefs which we fear, and if the Church must pe­rish, at least give her Funeral Rites, and if we cannot quench her flames, bedew her ashes with our tears: thus we shall to good purposes invert the Jewish preposterous method, for which they are justly stigmatized, who, when God called to weeping and mourning, called aloud to joy and gladness, which argued the Baseness and Per­verseness of their nature: and that is the first.

2. The second thing observable from hence, in the Jews, is their carnal Security, who were utterly uncon­cerned at all Gods Calls, and regardless of all such things as were of greatest consequence and importance, and thinking themselves out of danger, when destruction was at the door, call to joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing sheep, &c. It hath been a sad fate which hath attended many people, to be infatuated with the grea­test hopes of safety, and promise themselves the greatest measures of tranquillity, when destruction hath been coming upon them like an armed man: it seems the Jews had still so great confidence in Gods favour, that they thought the most daring provocations could not possibly intercept it, and therefore still cryed Peace, Peace, when the dangers were most apparent, and their ruin just at hand: but many Ages before them the spirit of secu­rity had so seized the hearts of men, that nothing could remove those Torpor's which had benum'd them, and not­withstanding the fearful menaces, and thunderclaps that were sent to awaken their lethargical consciences, yet they went on in their old habituated courses of sin, being no more concerned at Gods voice, though it breathed out such severe threatnings, than if it had approach­ed them with all the calmness imaginable, for they eat, Luke xvii. 27. they drank, they married wives, and were given in marriage. Let Noah, the Preacher of righteousness, say what he would [Page 60]to the contrary, until the very day that Noah entred in­to the Ark, and the flood came and washed away all their filthy pollutions: Vers. 28. And so again in the days of Lot, they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built, and when righteous Lot went to some of his friends to forewarn them of the evil which was coming upon them, Gen. xix. 14. his words seem'd unto them like some idle story or feigned Romance, and they would give no cre­dence to the message he delivered, till they felt the flames about their ears, and themselves perishing in the ruins of their City.

And should we calculate the number of such like per­sons amongst us, I am afraid we should find so large a roll of them, as might justly induce us to believe that their great Security is too fatal a Prognostick of our ap­proaching Destruction: for some there are, who, unless they saw with their eyes the Popes Standard set up in England, and the Jesuits washing their hands in the rea­king blood of those who are its Natives, will not believe that those Religious Persons by any means can be such sanguinary and cruel Butchers, notwithstanding the kil­ling of Hereticks (and we know whom they are pleased to asperse with that title) is a Doctrine taught in their Schools, justified by their practices, and maintained in their writings, as might be made appear from Ribadenei­ra, Becanus, Windeck, Stapleton, and the rest of that lawless herd of Ignatian Casuists: nay, is a Doctrine whose bloodiness they can neither be able to conceal, nor wash off from their Church, whilst the Triumphant Oration of Pope Sixtus the fifth continues extant in the world, which he made to his Cardinals in the Consistory at Rome, upon the barbarous Assassination of Henry the third of France, after he was stabbed to death by Clement the Do­minican Fryar.

But others there are, who though they are persuaded, that if indeed the power of the Jesuits was as extensive [Page 61]as their malice, and their interest as strong as they could wish it were in England, both King and People might then suffer indeed, as the Protestants in France and in Ireland have done before them; but it being next to an impossibility for them ever to effect what we imagine they design, their caballs being now so narrowly watched, their secrecies disclosed, their interests weakned, and their own parties many times countermining their projects, be­sides the grand and most certain opposition they would be apt to meet withall from the greatest part of this Nation, who 'tis to be hoped will never more be recon­ciled to their monstrous Doctrines and Tenents. These things being considered, and they upon these grounds having such unlikely hopes of success, why men should afflict themselves with the terror of them, or dread their power, or be uneasie, and concerned at their wild and extravagant attempts, argues too great levity and im­prudence in them that do it, and therefore they resolve, as for their own parts, let the Pope do his worst, to con­sult still their own ease, and gratifie their own humours, and follow their own ways, Judg. xviii. 7. and like the men of Laish live careless, and remiss under all the revolutions, that may happen in the Kingdom. To such men I answer, that such Security is the readiest inlet to the mystery of Jesuitism, for supposing that every body was as supine and careless as they, who would be left to search into the intrigues, to obviate the designs, or to countermine the plots of these politick adversaries? And then indeed would they triumph over our carelesness and security, and we should as easily fall into their hands as they could desire, and nothing could prevent this, but omnipotency it self; but why God should take care of them, who are so unwilling to take care of themselves, why God should not suffer them to make use of such advantages as we afford them, but interpose his providence betwixt our Security and Ruine, is no way to be answered, unless we [Page 62]will admit God to be the Patron of the slothful, or a Protector of those who yet by their supinity fling them­selves out of the covert of his most sacred Wings: so that if upon such terms as these are men will promise themselves safety, they are farther from it than they sup­pose or imagine; for if a man will still compose himself to sleep, when the floods are rushing in upon him, he must needs perish by his foolish security, and if, when dangers are impendent, men will feed themselves with hopes of escaping, and avoiding them, and yet use no means in order to prevent them, and though God calls to them, will not step one inch out of the way, not part with one sin, not relinquish one lust, not abandon the least pleasure, though they are sure to gain thereby Gods favour and protection, no wonder he at last suffers them to fall by their folly, and to perish in those calamities of which they thought themselves most secure; this was the Jewish crime, for which God did justly upbraid, and punish them, and is a second aggravation of their Ingra­titude towards him.

3. The third thing to be taken notice of, was the in­sufferable height of Voluptuousness and Luxury to which they were arrived: the most powerful calls, the most amazing judgments, the most awakening menaces could not reclaim them from such abominations, but being re­solved to take their fill of pleasure before God cut them off, in defiance of him they give their wills the full swing, indulge themselves in all manner of sensuality, crying out in the Epicurean dialect, Let us eat and drink, for to mor­row we shall die.

But he that considers how far the doctrine of Epicurus hath prevailed in this Age, how Gods Judgments, which have been very dreadful and astonishing amongst us, have wrought clear contrary effects, to what they were designed, and having wasted the Seeds of natural Piety in us, have erected Academies of downright Atheism, [Page 63]and Voluptuousness in the room, may justly conclude, that as we have out-vyed all the Jewish race of sinners, so ought we likewise at last to transcend them in our pu­nishments. Look we but upon the practices and manners of this Nation, and we shall find this truth too sadly exemplified, that the generality of men look upon themselves, no otherwise than as creatures sent into the world, as the Leviathan into the deep, to take his full career of pastime and pleasure in it; that they make it their business first to excite and cloy the flesh, to spur it on to riots even beyond its own propensions, by which means the year becomes but one mad Carnival, and all the Elements are mustered up, and yet (nec Aer, nec Aqua, nec Terra sufficit) all are not enough to caress and satisfie their craving appetites:

Aude aliquid brevibus Gyaris & carcere dignum,
Si vis esse aliquid—

To be aggrandized for wickedness was not only the great ambition of many Romans in Juvenal's days, but is the desire and chief aim of too many amongst us, and he is reputed a man of excellent parts, a person of a very re­fined and delectable conversation, who dares venture to pull down the pale, or lay open the inclosures of Reli­gion by the hellish art of scoffing, or prophane jesting at it: nay are there not some who are so bold as to ungod the world, and out-hector the devil, and reduce both to nothing, but imaginary phantasms? Who endeavour to make Hell no more than some painted fire, and a fu­ture state pass for an imposture of the Priest, and level all discourses concerning it with the poetical description of the Fairy-Land! And in these circumstances no won­der, that the evil communications of such men corrupt all good manners, no wonder that the empire of debauchery is so large, and that iniquity goes down with so great [Page 64]satisfaction and delight, no wonder, that when men are willing to imbibe such principles, their hearts and fore­heads grow as hard as brass, Jerem. vi. 15. blush not, nor are ashamed of the most filthy abominations, but publish their sin like Sodom, and glory in such things as have the greatest tur­pitude and deformity: but if this desperate condition was the most certain Symptom of the Jewish desolation: if the poor Britains of this Nation were then invaded by the Saxons, when they were grown to such a height of luxury and prophaneness, that as Gildas saith, they were not only strangers to Religion themselves, but hated those very persons who had any sense of it amongst them; then may we justly dread the same fate will attend us, that our Atheism and Licentiousness, our Pride and Vo­luptuousness, will open a door, either for the Papists, or some other executioners of Gods vengeance to come in upon us, and destroy us.

And this we may be convinced of to our eternal sor­row and confusion, if we consider Gods manner of pro­ceeding against all obstinate and incorrigible sinners, which brings me to the third Observable.

III. The astonishing Resolution of God toward the Jews upon their not hearkening to, nor observing his gracious Call, namely, to devote them to the most bitter Plague of Death it self: And it was revealed in mine ears by the Lord of Hosts, surely this iniquity shall not be purged from you till ye die, saith the Lord God of Hosts.

By which we may learn that the mercies of God, when once they are abused, are always converted into the most direful plagues and punishments: God is said in Scripture to have two rods, a rod of men, and a rod of iron, if the one cannot work upon our stony hearts, he will break them with the other; if men will not be bettered with the bread of affliction, he will feed them with wormwood: though, Exod. xxxiv. 6, 7. 'tis true, God hath proclaimed himself merciful and long-suffering, yet he adds too, that he will by no [Page 65]means clear the guilty; though he be [...], a com­passionate lover of all mankind, and endeavours to draw them to him with the cords of love, yet if this will not do, he will chastise them with Scorpions: he punisheth first gently, to try if that will work a reformation amongst sinners, but if such mild punishments avail nothing, he then pours down upon them the utmost dregs of his fury: when they once come to such a pitch of insolency, as even with the Gigantick race of Rebels of old, [...], to fight against Gods Sacred Majesty, he then makes their arrows recoil back upon their own heads: 'Tis ob­servable, Gen. xiv. 10. that before the fatal judgment fell upon Sodom and Gomorrah, God sent some smaller punishments by the Invasion of the Eastern Kings, who came against them, and discomfited them; and thus he dealt with the Jews before their final Captivity, he afforded them smaller in­stances of his displeasure, to tell us, that if little notices prove insignificant amongst us, greater marks of his fury shall leave deeper impressions on us; hence God is said to have treasuries of judgments, that will never be exhau­sted whilst men prove so expensive in their sins.

Now that this way of proceeding is very just and equi­table towards all incorrigible sinners will appear very evi­dent upon these accounts.

First, Because there is no other way to deal with such men but to make them the most formidable examples of his Justice; when men arrive at so great a degeneracy, they are past all sense, and there is no hopes of recovery, they are altogether dead in trespasses and sins, and their consciences are so obdurate; so frozen and so benumm'd that there is nothing can awaken, soften or mollifie them, no other means left to satisfie the offended justice of God but utter excision and desolation: nay, there is no other way to deter others from such habituated courses of sin­ning, as will in time induce such fearful Lethargies upon the soul, than by inflicting the most heavy hand, and the [Page 66]severest rod upon the back of such offenders, nothing will sooner bring men to a sense of their follies, and the practice of true Religion and substantial godliness, than such terrible marks of the Divine vengeance, for when Gods judgments are so visible in the earth the inhabitants thereof will learn righteousness. Isaiah xxvi. 9.

Secondly, there is no other way to give any tole­rable satisfaction to the abused mercy of God, but by such severe proceedings: the greater the mercy, the greater is Gods resentment of it, when abused, and con­sequently the greater must be the punishment, and the more smart the retribution for the abuse of it: if God do multiply his blessings upon men, and they debauch them to the worst ends, what compensation can he re­ceive for the violation of such kindness, but by making them the utmost objects of his fury, who spurned at all the bowels and the tenders of mercy? If a City should fall into open rebellion against its King, and after all the gracious overtures of Peace and Reconciliation, still hold out against him, and deny him admission till his Sword forced the way through; would not this so far incense his abused patience and goodness, and make him to re­solve upon its utter desolation? And when we still con­tinue our provocations against God, notwithstanding all the gracious terms and conditions he hath proposed to us, will not his loving-kindness, which is tired out, con­vert it self into the hottest flames of indignation to re­venge the injury? Remember again the Parable of the Vineyard when God saw that after all his care, and his pro­vidence over it, it was not bettered by his pruning, and brought forth nothing but wild Grapes, behold what severe things he threatens against it; Isaiah v. 5, 6. I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down; and I will lay it waste, it shall not be pruned, nor digged, but there shall come up Briars and Thorns: I will also command the clouds, that [Page 67]they rain no rain upon it. Believe it, there is no sury so extreme, as that which is bottomed upon repelled and irritated love; and God is then always moved to the highest wrath, when men take courage to sin, because grace doth abound.

3. But lastly, such wilful wickedness always enhan­seth the guilt, and hasteneth the punishment. Thus when the Jews had beyond measure incensed God Almighty by continual provocations, the judgments which fell upon them were proportionate to their offences, and it would make ones heart ake to read the History of their Times, when in the space of less than seven years there perished of the Jews, at home and abroad, both in their Civil and Foreign Wars (as Lipsius hath computed the number) no less than duodecies centena & quadraginta millia, twelve hundred and forty thousand men, De Constantia lib. 2. cap. 21. to fulfil the tenor of those threatnings which had so frequently been issued out by their Prophets against that Nation.

And now since the mercies have been as great which God hath vouchsafed to us, and our incorrigibleness as remarkable under the greatest of them, what remains for us, but a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indig­nation to devour all Gods adversaries? What can we say for our selves, that God should not suffer us to fall into their hands whom we most fear; since we have trampled upon his goodness, whom we have most reason to love? It is but just with God to punish one sin by another, and so fit us for destruction by the permission of it, to change our indifferency in Religion into a blind Zeal, and super­stitious practice of it; our open Prophaneness into pro­fessed Idolatry; our contempt of Order and Discipline into rigorous Censures and a bloody Inquisition; our de­spising of Dominion and speaking evil of Dignities, into a Yoke of Tyranny and Romish Usurpations. And I know not what can any way avert the one, but our hearty and sincere resolutions to retract and utterly for­sake [Page 68]the other, and with prostrate bodies and contrite souls unanimously to implore the divine mercy in that excellent Form of Prayer which our Church affords us for this occasion.

GLORIOƲS and gratious God, whose judgments against obstinate offenders are most severe and terrible, but thy mercies insinite to all, that with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto thee: We sinful people of this Land do acknowledge before thee, to thy glory, and our own shame, that never any Nation had more experience of thy goodness, nor yet did ever any more unthankfully abuse it: when thou gavest us great and long prosperity, we fed our selves to the full, waxed fat, and kicked against thee: when thou threwest us into horrid confusions, from which we saw then little hopes of arising, even in the time of that distress did we trespass yet more against thee: when by miracles of mercy thou hadst tur­ned our captivities, we soon returned to folly, to our vomit, and to our wallowing in our former, or greater filthiness. Even while thou hast of late appeared for us, by discovering the Plots and Contrivances of our implacable enemies of the Romish Faction, we have been in the mean time by our sins sighting against Heaven, and against thee. And now we are no more worthy to be called either thy sons or thy servants, whom neither thy fear hath driven, nor thy goodness led to repentance. In mercy awaken our drowsie consciences, and subdue our hard hearts into deep contrition. Pardon the many great offences of us thy servants, and the crying sins of the whole Nation. Remove the evils we now lie under. Avert the judgments which we justly fear, because we most justly deserve. Discover more and more the snares of death. and Popish treachery, and let us never fall into the hands of those men, whose mercies are cruel. Ʋnite all our hearts in the profession of the true Religion, which thine own right hand hath planted amongst us, and in a holy conversation an­swerable therete. Pour out thine abundant blessings upon our [Page 69]gracious King, and his great Council the present Parliament, Keep him as the apple of thine eye, hide him under the shadow of thy wings. Inform his Princes after thy will, and teach his Senators wisdom: And grant that all their counsels, re­solutions and endeavours may tend to, and end in the glory of thy great Name, the preservation of the Church and true Re­ligion amongst us, and the security, peace, and prosperity of these Kingdoms. All which we humbly beg in the Name, and through the Mediation of Jesus Christ thy Son, our Saviour. Amen.


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