Printed for Alexander Ogston; and are to be Sold by William Keblewhite, at the Swan in St. Paul's Church-Yard, Lon­don, MDCXCVI.


I have considered this Book (entituled IACOB'S Vow,) and find nothing therein repugnant to the Protestant Religion, or con­trary to the Government of the Church or State of this Kingdom; And therefore al­lowes the same to be Printed,

Io. Edinburgh.


THE Scope of the Following Treatise may be read in the Tittle. The true Design hereof is to direct to True Felicity, to shew wherein it consists, and what is our Duty, that is, what are the necessary Means we should use in order to the obtaining it. And as their is little said, but what is subservient to the Main Design; so the Treatise being chiefly intended for Common use, therefore 'twas Judged fit to study Plainnesse and Perspicuity, rather then fine Language, or quaint Expressions; and therefore also the Proofs and Evidences of what was necessary to be said on this Mat­ter, are drawn from obvious things, which are neither so abstract from common obser­vance as to be gainsaid, nor yet so abstruse and perplext, as to need much Learning, [Page] and more then Ordinary Capacity to un­derstand them. Nothing is delivered but what may be easily understood; and if the least serious Attention be given in reading the same; I am confident they will go away fully convinced of the Truth thereof.

It is true, no new discovery is pretended here, all which is here said of Mans Felicity and Duty, are Old and known Truths: But however, People have need to be taught them, to be put in mind of them, and to be stirred up to a due Observance of them; and that not only because thy are Necessary and Important things, but also because they are very ready to forget them, and meet with many things Dayly which divert the sense and Practice of what thus evidently be­longs to their Felicity. Folly and Errour, Atheisime and ungodliness, take Men off the way of Happinesse, and they are day­lie abounding, and many Pamphlets and Discourses spread which help forward their [Page] growth: Common Charity therefore oblig­eth every one to do what he can to stay and extirpate these, to discover the Mischief of them, and to contribute such Help as he is able to the maintenance of Truth, Virtue and Piety which are the foundations of our Present Peace, and Future blisse. Out of this respect to the Common Good of Mankind, I have been induc'd to publish this Discourse such as it is, and I Heartily Pray GOD, to carry home the Convictions of what is here handled upon the Reader, that he may be as Dutifull as is here Directed, and by being so, arrive at all the Felicity here mentioned, which certainly is all that is ne­cessary, and even as much as heart can wish.

THE CONTENTS Of the First Part.

The Occasion of this Vow. Of Vows in general, their use▪ what should be the matter of them, and how necessary it is to keep them. pag. 1.
Of JACOB'S requests. Mens Wisdom discern▪ able by the matter of their desires. GOD de­nies no requests but what are unreasonable and improper. All that is necessary to compleat ones happiness, is contained in the Particulars which JACOB here askes. Of the First, viz: The Divine Presence, what it is, and how excellent a blessing, with an exhortation to seek after it. p. 27
[Page] CHAP III.
Why JACOB mentioned other particulars, see­ing the First request did comprehend them and all things else he could aske. The Second re­quest treated of, the reasons of JACOB'S [...]ear, and the lyableness of all Men Generally to Dan­gers; no true Security but in the Divine Protec­tion, an Application of all. p. 58
JACOBS third request considered in respect of himself. Though the generality of men ask more, yet all wise Heathens and Jews have preferred this Portion to all other. The confining our de­sires to this is shewed by several instances to be Wise and Reasonable, and that therefore every one ought to content himself, with his Compe­tency. All Mens competency is not the same, what is the duty of him who hath got his com­petency, what of him who hath less, and what his who hath more.
Of the end which Jacob proposed to himself in [Page] these Requests his Condition here a fit Emblem to represent the present State of Mankind, All Men considered as Pilgrims and Sojourners both in a Litteral and Moral Sense. The Pa­triarchs lived in expectation of a future State held forth, and some account thereof given.
The Conclusion of this first Part. p. 101

The CONTENTS of the Second PART.

A Short reveiw of the first Part, the Case pro­posed, how far it is lawful to eye the re­ward in our Resolutions of Obedience. The Re­solution given in five Particulars, with an Application of all to Jacob here. p. 139
Shewing the Importance of the Words. The Lord shall be my GOD. p. 163
Sect. 1.
The true sense of the Words is given, and a proposal of the Particulars to be treated on under this head. Ibid.
[Page]Sect. 2.
Of the Reasonableness and necessity of Worshipping GOD. p. 167
Sect. 3.
What care should be had to direct our Worship to the true GOD. Rules how to do it. Where also the dolatry of the Romish Church is consi­dered. p. 173
Sect. 4.
Shewing what Worship and Service is due to GOD, and how we may come to know the same. p. 248
Sect. 5.
Of the Fear of GOD. p. 266.
Sect. 5.
Of Walking With GOD. p. 284.
  • Of regarding GODs presence. p. 286.
  • Of Observing GODS ways and actions. p. 291.
  • Of Consulting GOD. p. 311.
  • Of following GOD. p. 324.
Of these words And the stone which I have set for a pillar shall be God's house. The reason and meaning of them. p. 331.
Sect. 1.
Of Churches or places Consecrate to GOD, the Origine and Necessity thereof, what regard and reverence should be payed them. p. 333.
Sect. 2.
Of Prayer. p. 359
Sect. 3.
Of publick Worship. p. 376.
Of the last words of JACOB'S Vow. The question about the Church's right to Tithes wa­ved, but the taking them away is shewed to be Sacriledge. Every Patricular Person oweth to GOD a part of his estate, the Proportion conside­red▪ and some motives pressing Charity, and Alms-giving are proposed. p. 419
The Conclusion after p. 468.



Gen. chap. 28. verse 20.‘And Iacob vowed a vow, saying, if GOD will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on,’
21.‘So that I come again to my fathers house in peace; then shall the LORD be my GOD.’
22.‘And this stone which I have set for a pillar, shall be GOD'S House; and of all that thou shalt give me, I surely will give the tenth unto Thee.’

CHAPTER I. The occasion of this Vow, of Vows in general, their Use, what should be the Matter of them, and how necessary it is to keep them.

THE Occasion of Iacob's making this Vow, was this, his Parents had sent him away to Padan-aram for fear of [Page 2] his being corrupted by the Inhabitants of Ca­naan, where they lived, and enticed to take one of their daughters to wife, like as his Brother Esau had done: Now as he was on his journey he happened upon a certain place (afterwards called Bethel) where he tarried all night, the Sun having set upon him be­fore he came thither, and the Canaanites not being so courteous as to invite him into their houses, he was necessitate to lodge in the o­pen field: but though men denied him entertainment, yet he found what was much better and more comfortable, that he was highly favoured of GOD, for there He ap­peared to him in a dream, and made him the promise of large and great blessings; as you may see in the 13, 14, 15, Verses. Upon which, when Iacob awakened and con­sidered it, the fear and dread of GOD fell upon him, and to testifie his gratitude and thank­fulness to GOD, who had thus graciously appeared unto him, he spake these words, and vowed this Vow, by which he bound and oblidged himself to serve, honour and worship GOD, if so be that he did these things which were promised.

This vow was not made rashly and incon­sideratly, but upon serious and mature de­liberation, nor is the matter thereof light [Page 3] and trivial, but weighty and important. It is certainly worthy our consideration, and hereby we may be instructed in very matte­rial points, viz. Wherein our felicity con­sists, what is the thing we should aim at while in this world, and what is our duty to­wards GOD: What Iacob asked, teacheth the one; and what he promised, sheweth the other, as will appear afterwards. But first we will take occasion to treat of Vows in ge­neral, as to their matter, use, and observ­ance, and thereafter we shall handle this vow of Iacob's in particular.

First then in general, a Vow is an holy and religious promise made to GOD, ei­ther for some mercy and favour, or upon the desire of some blessing, as here: And there be many instances in Scripture, of Prayers put up to GOD, by way of Vows, when our Prayers are accompanied with Vows, it doth be-speak a belief of power, and good-will, and particular knowledge on GOD'S part; and earnestness, importunity, and a grate­full Disposition on ours▪ which are things GOD very much delights in. And this may be the reason why they are ordinarily so effectuall and so succesfull; For 'tis ob­servable that such Prayers prevaile very much with GOD, and do almost alwayes [Page 4] obtain not only a Blessing, but even the very same thing prayed for. Thus Iacob obtained his whole desire. Thus Iephthah however rash in the matter of his Vow, yet out of a Devout Acknowledgement, having vowed to the LORD, got a Victory over the Ammonites; So likewise Hannah received a Child of the LORD, after that She had made a Vow. And thus we have read and heard of many, who upon their Vows have been delivered from great Straits and Diffi­culties, recovered of sore and Dangerous Sicknesses, and been Blessed with signal Mer­cies and Favours. All which teacheth us, that in cases of great need, or the threat­ning of Dangers, upon the various and great changes of our Life, in all great and weighty enterprises, whose success doth very much concern us, and in all our most solemn Ap­proaches to GOD, I say, that in these, or the like cases, it may not be amiss, but good and proper to back and strengthen our Pray­ers by some Pious and Religious Vow: For hereby we testifie, that we believe GOD able to grant what we ask, and that we our selves will retain a grateful sense of His Kind­ness, if so be he do it; and besides, this will awaken our minds to a due and serious at­tention, and add Fervour and Earnestness to [Page 5] our Devotions, which endeareth both us and them to GOD, and so probably will wrest a Blessing from Him. We should never offer to ask any thing of GOD without re­solving to serve him better, or glorifie Him more upon the granting our Desires and Re­quests; as we would wish him to do us good, so we should lay obligations upon our selves to do him all Acceptable Service; and it is but impudence and mockery to endeavour to get God to befriend us, without think­ing to become thereby the more dutiful to him. Wherefore every one of our Prayers and Addresses to GOD do contain vows im­plicity, although we make no express men­tion of them, for they imply alwayes a pro­mise and resolution to endeavour to please God, without which they were but meer ab­ominations unto him.

But as it is good sometimes to make par­ticular Vows, when we pray for any special blessing, and alwayes necessary upon all our Addresses to GOD, to resolve in the general to serve him and to do His will; so it is not good to be rash and inconsiderat in making of Vows: There is nothing about which we should deliberat more, and therefore it is that young Persons, and such as are not come to maturity of age, or understanding, are dis­charged [Page 6] by all Casuists from the making of vows, because their ignorance and want of knowledge may make them readily erre in this matter, and Vow what is not lawfull or convenient to be vowed. Good Religious and lawful vows doe honour GOD, and are very acceptable to him: But if they be rash, in­considerat, and in matters either not lawfull, or not fit, and proper, they do but displease him. If we be to Vow, then we must both use all Caution and Prudence in the making of them, and likewise see carefully to the ob­serving of them, otherwise we had better not Vow at all.

First in the making of Vows, we should shun all rashness and inconsideration, and ought to take heed, that both the thing we promise to GOD, and that which we make the Condition of it be Lawfull, and Agree­able to his will, for if this be wanting, we offer but the Sacrifice of Fooles, and both our Prayers and Vows become an abomina­tion unto GOD. What we aske, must ei­ther be something he hath commanded, or Allowed us to seek; It must neither thwart his Will, nor be unworthy of Him to grant; and how earnest soever we be, yet our desires must always be attended with a Submission to his Holy Will and Pleasure, for 'tis then [Page 7] only that we are to be confident GOD will hear us, when we ask according to his Will. And as we must thus use Modesty and Cau­tion in our Prayers, taking heed that what we pray for, be not offensive to GOD, so we ought to shew great Prudence and Dis­cretion in these Vows & Promises we make to God upon the granting our Prayers: we must see that the thing promised be both War­rantable in it self, and convenient for us in particular. Many have brought themselves with Iephthah into great snares and tempta­tions by their Vows, because they did not con­sider the matter of them before hand.

This we should chiefly look to, and there­fore that we may not make our Vows a last­ing snare to our selves, we shall do well ei­ther to keep within some branch of our Du­ty, as the doing such and such a thing which we are already oblidg'd to, either by our ge­neral Callings as Christians, or by our particular Calling as being in such a place or station; the doing of some such thing, I say, in a more ex­cellent manner, with a greater inclination of the Will, with a more fervent repetition of the Act, with some more noble Circum­stance, with a fuller assent of the Under­standing, or such like thing; for by this Vow of Iacobs, it is clear that it is neither im­proper [Page 8] nor impertinent to pitch upon what we are already tied to by prior obligations: Or if we have a mind to tie our selves to any thing uncommanded, or to which we are not necessarily oblidged, as it is proper and requisite to do in our more Solemn and Special Vows; then let us make choise of something useful and Serious, Grave and Weighty, something that tends to the Glory of GOD, the Benefit of others, or the bettering of our own Souls; at least, let it have an indirect subserviency to some of these ends, by put­ing us in greater capacity to advance them, otherwise our Vows degenerat into abominable superstition. As for example, It is but super­stition, and doth not at all please GOD, if we tie our selves to forbear such a kind of Meat or Drink, unless it be because we have found our selves provoked to lust upon the use thereof, or that we do fear this effect of it. And it avails very little to vow the fast­ing or not working such or such a day, un­less we imploy that time we thus redeem from Meat and Labour, in the exercises of Piety and Devotion, and the improvement of our selves in Christian Wisdom and Vertue. Bodily exercises profiteth nothing, as saith the A­postle, 1 Tim. 4. 8. Corporal Austerities are not acceptable to GOD in themselves, and [Page 9] he must have mean thoughts of him who thinks it: but only in so far as they serve and are instrumental to mortifie the flesh, with the lusts thereof, such as Pride, Vain Glory, Uncleanness, Effininacy, Wrath, Anger, and the rest. It is the end and effect of these and the like observations which make them either acceptable or unacceptable to GOD, if they prove to His Glory, or render us more capable to advance it, if they promote the works of Religion in us, and further us in doing good to others, GOD is well pleas­ed: But if the fruits of them appear little this way, He doth little regard them.

And hence it doth appear; how little true Piety there is in many of these Vows which are usually allowed and enjoined in the Romish Church; For first, the matter of some of them is so mean, and trivial, that it is a Scandal upon Religion to make Re­ligion of them, as the vowing a Pilgrimage to Ierusalem, to visit such a Chappel, or such an Image there, not to eat of the head of any Animal in honour of Iohn the Baptist, or broiled Fish in respect to St Laurence, or to give some wax Candles, Silver Puppets, or the like Childish conceits to be kept, or hung up in some Church or Chappel; when peo­ple are taught and suffered to place Devoti­on [Page 10] in such small things, it cannot but lessen their esteem of GOD, and contribute to make them think meanly of him, even as we of Europe look with disdain upon the Kings and Princes of the late discovered World, when we read how brass pins, and glass beads, and such like silly toys please them, and gain their favour. Solemn pre­sents to Kings ought to answer their dignity, otherwise they are dishonoured, and so God is dishonoured when the matter of our Vows is a meer trifle, or some naughty thing, which was the reason why under the Law, He discharged to bring the hire of a Whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the Lord thy God for any Vow, Deut. 23. 18. But secondly, there be other Vows of the Romish Church whose mat­ter indeed is grave enough, which yet must be reckoned among unlawful Vows▪ because of their pernicious consequence: And these are their Monastical Vows, of Celibacy, Implicite and absolute Obediences, and external poverty; or rather the abandoning all honest and ci­vil imployments used to gain a livelyhood in the World. They place Religion so much in these Vows, that the name of Re­ligion is appropriat to them, and they on­ly among them are called Religious who have taken on them such Vows: When [Page 11] yet it is certain that these things are not ab­solutely good in themselves, or pleasing to GOD; And seing they who marry, and fol­low secular Imployments, not onely do not sin, but also thereby observe the Ordinances of GOD and his Providence; I cannot see a Reason why the title of Religious should be denied them, and not thought as much due to them, if so be other things requisite con­curre to make them deserve it. And it can­not be denied, but that Persons may serve GOD the one way, as well as the other, for these examples which the Scripture sets be­fore us, are drawn not from Monkish or Cloi­stered Persons, but from such as were Married, and did commonly Traffique and entertain Commerce with the World; Which, how­ever are more useful for teaching solid Ver­tue and Piety, than the lives of their Saint Francis, Saint Laurence, Saint Teresa, or any other Ancient or Modern, which they can produce from their Monastries. But that we may take a particular view of these Vows severally, That of blind and absolute Obedi­ence cannot be lawfully promised to any Creature: GOD ought to be obeyed with­out any reservation, the plain intimation of his Will oblidgeth to Obedience, though the Reason thereof be not apparent, because [Page 12] we owe our selves and all we have to him: But as this is due to GOD, so to none else, because none other hath Absolute Dominion o­ver us. Therefore to obey any blindly with­out considering whether it be good or evil, which they enjoyne, is to pay Divine Honour to Man. Our subjection to others should be alwayes with a subordination to GOD, and with a respect to his Glory; and seing no man is so infallibly wise, but he may mis­take evil for good, nor so certainly good, but that he may enjoine evil though he know it, therefore we ought not to do every thing an­other bids us, until we have examined the same, and found it no wise offenssive to GOD, by being contrary to his Will. And even to make a Religion of obeying ano­ther in things not evil, but as to their na­ture indifferent, is to destroy our Christian liberty, and to cast our selves again into an useless bondage; As to the vow of external povertie which proves to be either the renouncing of secular imployments, and these Arts & Trades whereby men ordinarly are necessitat to seek their living, this can be no acceptable ser­vice to God, seeing it runs counter to his express ordinance, in the sweat of thy brows thou shalt eat thy bread, if men can free themselves of the necessity of eating and drinking, they [Page 13] may cast off all honest care and endeavours for these supplies, otherwise they ought not, for St. Paul commands, that if any would not work, neither should he eat, and such as work not at all, he saith, that they walk disorderly, 2 Thess. 3. 10. Sick and Malmed persons who cannot work for their own Maintenance, should be supplied by others Charity, but not these who are Able and Healthy, but resolved to live idly and uselessly to the Common­wealth. And herein the present Monks of the Romish Church differs much from those of the Primitive times, for the Ancient Monks did not eat their breadin idleness, but did labour, that they might help others to live, every one should study to be poor in Spirit, and mor­tified in his affections to the World, but these may be done in outward possessions. Finaly, as to the Vows of Celibacy and a total retirement, they are too important things to be under­taken by any rashly; and they are such as young Persons should not be suffered at all to engage in: for they cannot well know either the Temper of their Spirit, or the Constitution of their Body, how they will agree therewith. If their disposition be con­trary, then they involve themselves into a sad inconveniency, and almost insuperable difficulties of pleasing GOD; which might [Page 14] be easily avoided by taking a course more sutable to their natural disposition. Not to speak of Celibacy, every ones humour even will not sute with that Solitude and retirement, which by the Laws of Monastries they are oblidged to: who are naturally Stu­dious, thoughtful, and a little Melanchollie, may like it well enough, and also fall upon methods for improving it to their grouth in Vertue and Piety. But such as are active and sprightly weary, of it and count it a burden; And as their nature inclines them to action▪ so when they are any consider­able time without business, their fancy runs out upon vain projects and airy contrivan­ces, neither profitable to themselves, nor others; and which prove an Impediment to Spiritual devotion as much, yea more, then outward innocent actions. He who in his retirements bethinks with himself how he would rule the world, if he had place and power, and what he would doe or have done in such and such cases, spends his time more idly, then if he were actually versant in Wordly affairs; And there be few active Spirits, but have their retirements (if long) Spoiled with such devices and i­maginations. The Church of Rome seems to have foreseen the inconve­nencie [Page 15] of Monasticall Vows, & to guard a­gainst them, in that a year of probation is allowed: But it is evident from experience, and many instances, that a year is not proof sufficient, especially when arts and tricks are used to delude Novices, and to wheedle them into a belief that things are otherwise then what afterwards they find them. If Vows were not imposed, and that a free exit were allowed to such as pleased, and found a change convenient; I verily believe Monastries might be very usefull both for Church and State, both for the civil good of the Nation, and the Spiritual good of mens Souls. All men are oblidged to be chaste, but chastity may be preserved in a married State, as well as in a single life, and every ones constitution doth not sute therewith. It would be good and proper for every man, though never so much engaged in worldly affairs, to retire himself frequently for the excercise of Religion, and the considering the state of his soul: Buthardly any can stay their minds altogether▪ upon these exercises for whole years, much less all there lifetime, nor is their any necessity thereof, seing men may goe about the affairs of the world without crossing these of Religion, and ply the things of this life without prejudice to the other.

[Page 16]GOD is not pleased with our vows, when they have not a tendency to his Glory, our Neighbours good, and our own Spiritual Advantage: and he cannot be but highly displeased, when by our vows we tie our selves to doe something which is unlawfull in it self, or which may be the occasion of some sin to our selves or others; Or to for­bear another thing which is good or usefull, and which is or may become our duty;

What is sinful or evil, can never honour GOD, but doth dishonour him, and it do­eth bewray a gross ignorance to seek the pleasing of God by doing▪ contrary to His will: Unlawful Vows should not be made, and if made, they ought not to be kept, it is a sin to make them, but a greater to observe them, such Vows lay no obligation upon us, except to repentance, and mourning for our rashness and folly. Herod was no wayes ty­ed to cut off the head of Iohn the Baptist be­cause of his vow, for that would never excuse the murder of that innocent man: neither was the plot against Pauls life any whit ex­tenuated because the forty men had bound themselves thereto under a curse. It is a very bad reason for one not to come to Church and to refuse to hear such a Minister, because he hath sworn it. There is no per­jury [Page 17] in breaking of these Vows, the Perjury is in the first making of them, because they are contrary to those other general vows of Baptism, &c. Whereby we are tyed not to do any thing that is evil, but what ever is good and praise worthy. Wherefore I wonder much how ever it could have slipt from the Author of that excellent Book, entituled, The whole Duty of Man, to say, That he who rashly swears to kill another, if he do it, he is guilty of murder, and if he do it not, of perjury, and so is under a necessity of sining. If this be true, it might prove a shrewd tentation to the keeping of unlawful Vows; For where one of two evils is necessary or unavoidable, men are at liberty to choose which they will, or what they think least: And there be some who have perjury in greater abhorrencie then anyother wicked act, & therefore if such have once sworn a thing though never so evil, they will do it, for fear of drawing on them the guilt of perjury. This Doctrine there­fore may be of very bad consequence; but however such a necessity of sinning cannot be admitted, unlesse we make the nature of sin alterable, and that a sinful Act may sometimes cease to be sinful. One cannot be oblidged by any Law to impossibilities, and therefore not to contrary Acts, as to do, [Page 18] and not to do the same thing, at one and the same time, for to observe both is impossible. Wherefore if the doing a thing be sin, there is onely an Obligation upon us not to do it; and if the not doing thereof be a sin, then the Obligation is onely to do it; We can­not be oblidged to both, and so both cannot be sins. If it be objected, that though one and the same obligation cannot bind to contrary things, yet we may be bound thereto by different Obliga­tions as in the present case: But to this I an­swer, That we are not under any Obligati­on, but what the Law of GOD layeth upon us▪ or doth allow; and seeing the Law of GOD requireth us alwayes to do good, and forbiddeth to do any evil, therefore a Man can never be said to sin, by the doing of a good Action, or the forbearance of what is evil, though he hath never so preremptorly Vowed the one, and sworn against the other: For his Vows and Resolutions cannot take away his Obligation to obey GOD, and his Law. I have insisted the longer on this head, because some are so tenacious of their rash and unlawful Oaths, and think it ex­cuse enough for their continuance in a wic­ked course, that they have sworn and resol­ved it.

Religion certainly will never hallow an [Page 19] wicked or ungodly act, and it is an abomi­nation to God to offer to worship and ho­nour him by any thing sinful or unlawful: neither out of pretence of Vows, must we withdraw our selves from the duty and o­bedience we owe to others; for no Vow can take away that obligation which is upon Wife's to obey their Husbands, Children their Parents, Servants their Masters, Sub­jects their Prince; and which is upon one man to do good, and to shew acts of kind­ness and charity to another. Our Saviour taxed the Scribes and Pharisees for breaking the fifth Commandment, in not relieving their Parents when in want, upon the pretence that their goods were Corban, that is, they had Vowed and Devoted all they could spare, to the Temple, or other Pious uses, Mark 7. 7, 11. What we Vow and Devot to GOD must be our own, absolutely at our dispo­sal, and no wayes tending to the detriment, or prejudice of others; else we cannot ex­pect that it should be acceptable. Thus therefore it is not lawful for a Servant while he is a Servant to devote, and set apart whole days for private Prayer, Meditation, or other exercises of Religion, unless his Ma­ster concede and yield thereto: He may indeed if he please allow some portion of [Page 20] his meat to the poor, or some part of the time he should eat or sleep for Spiritual ex­ercises, for that is his own; but as for dayes or half dayes or any considerable quantity of time, belongs to his Master, and it would be a defrauding of him to take the same a­way without his consent and approbation. That which falls under anothers jurisdiction, must not be disposed off without their leave, for that were down right usurpation and robbery, wherefore GOD Num: 30. Gives the Husband power to dissolve the Wife's Vow, and the Father the Child's, And for the same reason the same Liberty must be assig­ned to other Superiours, whether Masters or Magistrats. And hence doth appear the un­lawfulness of that Oath which hath so much troubled this Nation; viz. The Solemn League and Covenant. For besides what may be said to the Matter thereof, it was an incroachment upon the Magistrats right, and did engage pri­vat Persons to that which was not within their Sphere, but did properly belong to the Su­preme Magistrat, and the other Governours of the Church. When Inferiours make Vows to the prejudice of their Superiours, and in the particulars wherein they are subjected unto them, the Vows are ipso facto null and void; and the Superiours hath full power and au­thority [Page 21] to annull and dispense with them.

The sum of what hath been said, is, that we must use consideration in the making of our Vows, and must look that the con­dition required be lawful and agreeable to GOD'S Word, and also the thing promised on our part not sinful and unlawful, a thing improper▪ and unbecoming us, which dis­honours GOD, prejudges others, and wrongs our own Souls, but that it be a thing lawful and allowable in it self, within our power and at our disposal, and designed and used by us for GOD'S Glory, our Neighbour's advantage, and our own Spirituall good especially. And finally, we ought to weigh well our strength and ability, and to have some ground to hope, that through GOD'S Grace it will match and master all the diffi­culties, we may encounter in observing such a particular as thus we tie our selves to. If we observe these directions and be thus cir­cumspect in making of Vows, we do a thing well pleasing to GOD, but if we proceed not with this caution and discretion, they lose both of their Worth and Efficacy.

But Secondly, as we must use caution in making of Vows, so we must shew care to keep them in every particular, when they are made; Our care of the one must be as [Page 22] great as the other, otherwise we had rather a thousand times not make any at all. You may see how straightly both Moses & Solomon enjoyned the punctuall observing of such Vows as are made to GOD, the one Deut: 23. 21. The other Eccl: 4: 5: When we break our Vows, or swerve in any point from them, we draw upon us the guilt both of Perjury and Ingratitude, the most abomi­nable of all sins, which have been ever most odious both to GOD and man, and which seldom pass unpunished, even in this life. All know what a dreadfull Judgment befell Ananias and his Wife Saphira, it was only because they lied unto GOD, and kept back from him what they had sworn to give. Nay, 'tis even observable of this same Iacob, who, for as dear as he was unto GOD, was yet afflicted with several sad disasters in his Family, because of his delaying the perfor­mance of this Vow: After his return to Canaan he did not presently (as he promised here) worship GOD in this place, but took up his residence elsewhere; and then fell out the Ravishment of his Daughter, Dinah, and the slaughter of the Sichemites by his two Sons Simeon and Levi; and that it was his not keeping of his Vow which occasioned GOD thus to punish him, may appear [Page 23] from this, that GOD immediatly enjoyned him the going up to Bethel as a redress of these troubles, as you may see Gen. 35. 1. There are many more sad instances almost in every History, how GOD had plagued those who Vowed to him in their troubles, but forgat him when he had delivered them out of their distresses; and though God may spare his rode a while in this life, yet they shall not escape altogether unpunished, espe­cially in the life to come.

Wherefore that we may draw to a con­clusion of this point, I would seriously be­seech every one to consider and call to mind what Vows they have at any time made un­to GOD, when they were seeking any thing of importance from him, or when the fears of Death, or some other Danger were upon them, or when they were sitting at his Table and receiving pledges of his Love▪ In such and the like cases and circum­stances, We are all ready enough to make Vows and Promises; I know not if we be all as ready to perform and accomplish them. It's to be feared, that too many are like bad Debitors, who either alto­ther refuse the payment of their debt, or else shift it off from day to day, and thereby do declare their folly and disingenuity, and [Page 24] monstruous ingratitude. If GOD hath been so gracious as to hear us, should not we also be faithful in keeping the Promises we made to Him; following Davids practice, Psalm 66. 13. where he saith, I will go into thy house with burnt offerings, I will pay Thee my Vows which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken when I was in trouble; And again, Psalm 116. 12. having asked himself, What shall I render unto the LORD, for all His benefits to­wards me? His answer & resolution was, I will take the Cup of Salvation, and call upon the Name of the LORD, I will pay my Vows unto the LORD, in the presence of all His People. See and consider then I pray you, what have been your particular Vows and Promises at any time, and labour now to keep them faith­fully; Did you promise to be more Holy? to have a greater Love and Zeal for GOD? Did you Vow to be more studious to ad­vance his Glory? to be more Just and Ho­nest in your Dealings, more kind to your Neighbours, and more Charitable to the Poor? Did you at any time pass your word that you would Pray oftner, and more fer­vently in privat by your selves, and take a care that the Worship of GOD be observed in your Family? That you would forbear Swearing and Drinking, loose and prophane [Page 25] company? did you promise greater Sobriety & temperance? Did you engage to bridle your passion? To be watchfull against Anger and Wrath, and to study Calmness and Peace? Did you engage to be more contented with your Allowances, and more thankfull for them? Did you vow to keep the Church better? To be a more Devout and attentive Hearer of GOD'S Word, and of the In­structions of his Servants? Have ye devot­ed any particular time for privat retire­ments and Converse with GOD, or any particular Moity of your Estates for Pious uses; Whether these, or whatever else have been the matter of your Vows, see that ye both Remember them, and also give diligence to observe them, neither mince thy Vows, nor defer the paying of them. Let it not be said that thou art libe­rall in thy promises, but sparing in thy per­formances: Like him, who when he was in Hazard of perishing at Sea, promised a rich offering, but when he came to land, put it off with a penny matter. Keep thy Word to GOD, and doe it chearfully without grudging; Let not our present Ease and Prosperity blot out the Sense and Memory of his past Loving Kindness, nei­ther let us account any thing too good for [Page 26] God, or too much to be given him: We can give him nothing but what is his own, for all that we have, we received from him, and we can do nothing to him, but what is our bounden duty. And withall let us Remember, that we may have yet need of his Kindness: We may yet fall into straits and trouble, be seized with Sickness and in fear of Death, and then how much will it concern us to have him our friend? but how, and with what confidence, can we cry unto him? if we now deal deceitfully with God, and break the word which we have uttered. That therefore we may avoid the Divine Vengeance and Displeasure, and also have GOD to be our refuge, and a present help in the time of trouble, let us Vow and pay our Vows unto the LORD, and keep every thing which hath gone out of our lips.

Thus we have spoken of Vows in Gene­rall, have shewed the Nature of them, what Obligation there is on us to make them, what Caution should be used in the making of them, and what care to keep them when they are made.

CHAP. II. Of Jacob's Requests, Mens Wisdom discernable by the matter of their Desires; GOD deny's no Re­quests, but what are unreasonable and impro­per, all that is necessary to compleat ones Hap­piness is contained in the particulars which Ja­cob here askes of the first, viz. the Divine Presence, what it is, and how excellent a Bles­sing, with an Exhortation to seek after it.

HAving taken occasion in the former Chapter upon Iacobs Vowing, to speak of Vows in general; we come next to treat of this Vow in particular, in which we have to consider these two things, viz. What he promised unto GOD, and what he craves of him as the condition of the Performance of that Promise. This last stands first in the Text, and therefore we shall handle it first.

Now Iacob craves here three things of GOD, first, that GOD would be with him, that is his Presence; Secondly, that he would keep him in his way, which is his Protection; Thirdly, that he would afford him his ne­cessary maintenance of Food and Raiment; these are his desires; And in the fourth place, [Page 28] you have the end for which he asks these things, and it is that he may be brought back to his Fathers house in peace.

Iacob may seem at first to ask no great matter, his requests look not very big; and 'tis true they are modest and reasonable: But yet if they be duely considered and seriously canvass'd, they will be found to comprehend all that is necessary to compleat ones Happiness. There is nothing that dis­covers men more than their Requests and Petitions, for they do certainly speak out the sentiments of their mind, and what it is their Hearts set most value upon. It was once wittily said to a young man, speak that I may see thee, thereby signifying, that we know Men better by their Words than by their Faces: But this especially holds true, when their Words express their Desires. A Fool may be known by his desires, and a Wise man by his; For by these we may perceive easily what Knowledge and Un­derstanding one hath, and what Inclinations and Dispositions, whether they have taken up right Measures of things, and do judge according to their true Nature, or only according to their outward appearance. Fools look only to the outward appearance, and if a thing glister, or make any big or [Page 29] splendid shew, they covet it, whatever it be in it self; But Wise men peirce through into the inward nature of things, & seek only what is Solide and Substantial, Good and Useful, like as the Patriarch did here. For in that he sought these and no other things from GOD, it shews him to have been Wise and Understanding, that he had e're this time weighed and pondered all things as they relate to Man, and found out what was Good, Proper and necessary for him.

And truely, would we restrain our De­sires to these things Iacob here mentions, if we would make these all we aime at in re­ference to this Life, we should both Act more wisely than ordinarly we do, and should also find it much better with us; If we would put up such Requests as these unto GOD, he would certainly grant them, and in granting them we should find all that Comfort and Good which our Hearts can wish. It is not for want of Will or Power in GOD that our Petitions and Re­quests are not granted, for he is both able and willing to do us good beyond the largest of our desires: But it is because they deserve not to be granted, they are neither reason­able in themselves, nor put up for Good ends and Purposes, and so do carrie a reason of [Page 30] their refusal in their very bosome. A Pa­rent denies his Child what he cryes for, not for want of Love, but out of the Tender regard he hath to him, because he knows it would hurt him; and a Physitian doth not allow his Patient the Meat and Drink which he asks, not because he doth not desire his Health and Recovery: But because he per­ceives his Appetite vitiat, and disordered; and knows that the thing required would hinder his Health, and increase his Distem­per. It is even so with GOD, the Reason why he heareth not our Prayers, is because they are not Reasonable, and that we do not wisely consider what we speak: Ye ask, and receive not, (saith St. Iames) Because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts, Iam. 4. 3. GOD cannot hear these Pray­ers which are prompted by Lust, Sensuality, Pride, Ambition, Vain glory, covetous­ness, and the other disorders of our Corrupt Nature, which should rather be starved and stifled, than fostered and encouraged; and we may be sure GOD will never furnish us with Weapons to rebel against himself. But as GOD designes the good and Happi­ness of his Creatures, so if we intend no more than that, he will not deny us; if we seek really that which is good for us, and which [Page 31] may help forward the happiness we were Created for, He will freely bestow it: for he only rejects and upbraids these Prayers which respect not the Right end, neither observe the right means or measures, otherwise he gives to all men liberally and willingly. The advice therefore of the Poet is good,

Quod justum est petito, vel quod videatur hone­stum:
Nam stultum est petere id, quod possit jure negari.
Englished thus,
Who would not have his Suite in vain,
on what is Honest set his eye;
He is a Fool, who thinks t'obtain,
what Reason justly may deny.

What the Heathen Satyrist also writes on this head, is not unworthy of a Christian, and deserves to be considered,

Nil ergo optabunt homines? si consilium vis,
Permittes ipsis expendere Numinibus, quid
Iuvena s [...]t. X.
Conveniat nobis, rebus (que) sit utile nostris.
Nam pro jucundis aptissima quae (que) dabunt Dii.
Carior est illis homo, quam sibi. Nos animorum
Impulsu, & caeca, mag naque eupidine ducti,
Conjugium perimus, partumque uxoris: at illis
Notum, qui pueri, qualis (que) futura sit uxor.
Englished thus,
Shall man then pray for nothing? if I may
Advise thee, let the Gods thy wishes weigh,
Unto their Providence thy Will submit,
And for what's sweet, they'le give thee what is fit.
And that which thy condition most behoves,
The Gods love man more then
himself he loves.
Transported with a blind-self-love we crave,
That all of us may Wives and Childen have,
But to the Omniscient Deity, alone,
What Wives, what Children we shall have, is known.

Now there is no more necessary to compleat our Happiness then what Iacob craves here, all things else are superfluous, this alone is sufficient to afford us all the comfort & satis­faction we would be at, in these things lye that good which men so much desires, but know not how to find, as we may discern by taking a particular view of them.

And first of the Divine Presence, which the Patriarch here requires to accompany him. A Staff and a Companion are very necessa­ry in a Journey; It is a comfortless thing to travel vvithout something to aid & support us, and vvithout a friend vvith vvhom vve may advise and consult, and in vvhose so­ciety [Page 33] and Fellowship, we may Refresh and Solace our selves upon all Occasions. This Iacob perceived, and therefore he desired not to Travel alone, but intreated that GOD might accompany him. All com­pany is not good, better want altogether than have some; And therefore Wise men use to make choice, and to look well whom they admit into Familiarity or an intimat Friendship; The better our Com­panions be, their company is still the more profitable, and we have the greater com­fort in it; And if we would know where, and how to make choice of a True, Good, and Useful Friend, alwayes to go along with us, we may receive Direction from Iacob here; For he indeed hath pitched upon him. And this doth sufficiently Evince, what Wisdom and Knowledge this man had even at this time, when in the first place, and before all things he prayed that God might he with him.

But here some may ask and say, what needed Iacob ask the Divine Presence as a Sin­gular and Peculiar Favour? Seeing that GOD is every where present, even with all Crea­tures. Did he think GOD, a local God, tied or confined to any place, or who being in one place, cannot be in another? No cer­tainly, [Page 34] this Holy Man had no such mean and low thoughts of GOD; He was better instructed than to be so Ignorant of his In­finitness and Immensity, he understood well enough that the Heaven of Heavens could not containe Him, and that His Presence, Power and Glory filled both Heaven, and Earth, he was a better Philosopher than not to know that His Presence and the actual Concur­rence of His Power was requisit to the Pre­servation of all and every one of his Crea­tures, and that nothing could subsist with­out him. But it was not this generall pre­sence, which every Creature enjoyes that Iacob begged, it was a more speciall presence whereby he might shew that he was interes­sed in Him, and concerned for him, a pre­sence of Special Favour, Love, and Kind­ness, to be present, as to let it appear that he cared for him and studied his good: This is the Presence of GOD which Iacob requires and the Reason why he so earnestly asks it, and doth thus prefer it in the first place, is no doubt because he had learn'd from his Fathers Abraham, and Isaac, that it was this that made them so Thrive and Prosper in the World: The Reason why they were so Singularly Blessed above others, was, be­cause GOD was with them. Thus also the [Page 35] good luck which Ioseph had, is ascribed to the Lords being with him, Gen. 39. 3. and this likewise is made the cause of Davids Wisdom, Courage and Success, as you may see 1 Sam. 18. 14, 28. 2 Sam. 5. 10. and it was a thing very useful with the Ancients, when they would express how well and hap­py a man was, to say, that GOD was with him.

And indeed how can it be but well with that Person, whom GOD is with, what can he want who hath him to be his Friend; He who hath the Divine Presence accompany­ing him withersoever he goeth is Richer, and Happier, than if he had all the treasures of the world carried about with him: For God is the Author and Fountain of all Good, from Him every Good, and perfect Gift doth come, he can easily command any desirable thing where, when, and to whom He pleases: So that he who enjoys GOD hath enough, and needs not fear or care for the want of any thing, for GOD will be to him in stead of all things. And in having Him he may say truly as that Philosopher said, Omnia mea mecum porto, that is, I carrie about with me all things proper, all things necessary or re­quisit, either for my Support or Comfort, for GOD is all that. It was a vain and [Page 36] proud boast of Cesars to the Mariner, who was wafting him over the Adriatick to Italy, when he perceived him seized with Fear and ready to turn back, Perge audacter, ne timeas, Caesarem vehis, Caesarisque fortunam, be not afraid you carrie with you Cesar and his Fortune: But truly every one that hath GOD with them, may with reason confident­ly say to himself, be not afraid, sad or dejected, Deum habes ejusque favorem, you have GOD & his favour; and having that, what cause can there be of Fear or Dejection? For He is Wis­dom, Power, all Goodness, and All-suffici­encie it self, and therefore He is a True Aid, and Support, and a sure Rock to build on, which will never fail. Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him, Psal. 2. 12. Though I walk, saith David, through the valley & shaddow of death, yet will I fear no evil, for thou art with me, thy Rod and thy Staff they comfort me. Psal. 23. 4. The very hopes of this special Pre­sence and Favour of GOD, did mightily chear up the Psalmist's Spirit, when he was like to be overwhelmed with trouble, he chides and is in a chaff with himself, for be­ing any wayes troubled, having this hope, Why art thou cast down, saith he, O my Soul, and why art thou disquieted in me? Hope thou in GOD, for I shall yet praise Him, who is the [Page 37] health of my countenance and my GOD, which he repeats twice, Psal. 42. and once, Psal. 43.

Many excellent Blessings and advantages follow him whom GOD is with. First. he is sure of Counsel and Direction which is a very necessary and desireable thing: The life of man while in this World is for the most part Dark, Intricate and full of Dif­ficulties, 'tis like a Labyrinth full of perplexi­ties, we cannot well discern the outgate; We know not what certain course to Steer for our profit and advantage: As the Pro­phet Ieremiah saith, the way of man is not in him­self, it is not in him that walketh to direct his steps, Ierem. 10. 23. It is not safe to follow our own Devices, things ordinarly succeed worse when we do so; the wittiest Men have sometimes befooled themselves by leaning too much to their own Wit. No Mans Wit and Judgement can be sufficient of it self to guide him, and oft-times we are not much better of others, for they are short sighted too as well as our selves, and may mistake things as well as we: we can never therefore be sure that we are right, but when we follow the Counsel and Direction of GOD, when we are guided by him who cannot erre, because his understanding is infinit. But if he be with us, his Counsel will be with [Page 38] us too, if he hath set his Heart upon, and chosen us for his Friend, he will also guide and instruct us, and shew us the way where­in we should walk; What man is he, saith David, that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way he shall choose, Psal. 25. 12.

But here some may ask, How doth GOD teach us? And what way are we to expect Direction from Him? Must we look for Revelations, Dreams, and Visions? Indeed this was not unusual under the Old Testament, GOD did then very ordinarly this way ma­nifest himself to the Patriarchs, and others his Eminent Servants; but now it pleases Him to forbear it, at least, that so common use thereof; and we are neither to ask nor to look for Advice and Counsel this extra­ordinary way. But however, if we wait on GOD, we may be confident of Direction from him, which he will communicat to us two manner of wayes: First, by the inward suggestions of his Spirit, he will not only en­lighten our minds, and clear our understand­ings with wisdom & knowledge, so that in the general we shall be able to know what is good and right; but he will also help us to dis­cern what is fit and proper in that particular case & circumstance wherein we stand, & will secretly incline and draw us whither his [Page 39] Wisdom sees it fit for his Glory, & our com­fort. This is no idle Fancy, or Delusion, it is no piece of Fanaticism, or a Dream of En­thusiastical persons, but a certain real Truth, which all Good and Holy Persons have felt from their experience; Though these words of the Prophet, Isa. 30. 21. Thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saving, this is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left; are not altogether to be restricted to an inward inspiration, but also to be understood that external Voice in the Word, and by the Ministry of His Servants: Yet Solomon seems to hold out this, when he saith, in all thy wayes acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths, Prov. 3. 6. This also must be the meaning of Elihu, in these words, There is a Spirit in Man, and the Inspiration of the Almigh­ty giveth them understanding, Iob 32. 8. This Voice is inward, and therefore not audible, or perceptible by our outward Senses, but however it may prove effectual enough for to move and sway us: ‘And though as one says, this secret Directi­on of Almighty GOD is prin­cipallyHalls Cont. of the fear of GOD. seen in matters relat­ing to the good of the Soul, yet it may be also found in the great and Momentous Concerns of this [Page 40] life, which a good Man that fears GOD, and begs his Direction, shall very often, if not at all times find.’ I hope none will be so injurious as to think, I intend to coun­tenance or authorise those who father hor­rid impieties and most impertinent extra­vagancies upon GOD, pretending they are carried thereto by a secret impulse of the Spirit. I know and would have every one to assure himself that God is never the author of what is evil, foolish or ridiculous, what­ever comes from him is worthy of him, that is to say, sutable to infinite Wisdom and Goodness; neither doth GOD shew himself thus to any mean trivial things, but in mat­ters of serious Importance. But because some have been so far out of purpose, as to al­ledge Inspiration for every thing, and to lay such things upon GOD, as are inconsistent with the true notions of a Diety, therefore to deny all such Commerce betwixt GOD and Men, or that he ever doth suggest Counsel or Advice to any in any matter, I think very unreasonable; both these are Extrems, which I desire to shun▪ I doubt not but good & vertuous Persons, who commit themselves in­tirely to the Divine Conduct may, and do find themselves sometimes extraordinarly directed in Weighty and Important Cases, especially [Page 41] when their own Wit and Reason is at a stand. To this purpose I was told a remarkable Passage, when Dundee was stormed and taken by the English, in our late Revolutions; This Town being fancied foolishly to be a place of strength, and able to hold out, therefore many re­sorted thither, and among the rest, a certain Citizen of Edinburgh, with his Wife and Apprentise, who finding themselves sadly disappointed upon the entry of the Enemy, and sacking of the Town, were in great anguish of Spirit, and concluded themselves lost, and therefore they recommended their Souls to GOD'S Mercy; but the Woman was extraordinarly moved to go down to the street, and no entreaties of her Husband could disswade her; when down, the first she espied was one of a goodly countenance, whom she laid hold on, desiring he might go with her; When he comes to the house she falls on her knees, and said, Sir, you shall have all my goods, only save my Husband's life, which he granted, telling her withall, thát Providence had directed her to him, for the last Fight he was at, he received a courtesie from a Scots Man, which made him swear, to save the first that sought quarters in this. This had not well passed be­twixt them, when the enraged Souldiers thronged in upon them, and if it ha [...] not been for him, they had undoubtedly perished. This was a sin­gular Providence, and I had it from the good [Page 42] Woman her self, who stills remembers it as an instance of GOD'S kindness, and which among other things she makes the Matter of her Devout, and thankfull Acknow­ledgement. A second way whereby GOD directeth us, is External, viz: By the Wise and Happy Occurrences of his Providence, ordering the Circumstances of things so happily together, and making several things to fall out so well at one time, as that we are necessarily and in a manner un­awares engaged into that course he Designes we should take, which will always be for our well, if we commit our selves unto him. Thus he made Abrahams Servant to light very happily upon the house of his Masters Brethren, and the Woman whom he should choose for his Master's Son's Wife; and thus also he directed Iacob to Laban, and Ruth to Boaz. The steps of a good man, saith the Psal­mist, are ordered by the LORD, Psal: 37: 23: He by his secret Providence doth so dispose of him, and engageth him to such a conduct in his affairs, that his Good, Peace and Ad­vantage, Credit and Comfort is carried on better than he desired, or could have ex­pected, and by wayes and means which he could never foresee. These methods of Di­vine Providence, sometimes look not Fair and [Page 43] Favourable, at the beginning they may look as if he frowned and threatned us: But the issue of them even then proves most happy, as we see in Ioseph's case. Who so is wise as to observe the tract of his own life, and GOD'S dealings with himself & others, shall come sufficiently to understand both this Wisdom and Loving Kindnesse of the LORD.

But secondly, GOD'S Presence is not de­sirable for Counsel and Direction only, but upon many other accounts: nay there is no Reason which may move us to desire any thing whatsoever, but the same should excite us to this: For either he can give the good, which we desire, or he can supplie the want thereof; He hath every thing at His disposal, and whatever Vertue or Pro­perty any Creature hath is from Him; Neither can they produce even their most Natural effects without him, but when he pleases he can work his will without them. It is not Bread alone which preserveth our Life, but his Blessing upon it, and he can easily when he sees it fit, maintain our Na­tural Life, and vigour without all Food, as he did to Moses, and Elijah, and our Saviour. It is not Medicine nor Physick which reco­vers our Health, but his Blessing in our use [Page 44] of them, and even when these Means are wanting, yet his Hand is not shortned; but that he can make Whole and restore Health without them. It is not our Labour and Industry or any Endeavours we can use, which will make us compasse the ends we would be at, unless He act and concur with us; For if he give not the Blessing, if he speak not the Word, all that we can do will be in vain. It is in vain for you, saith the Psalmist, to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows, for it is he who giveth his Beloved sleep. Psal. 127. 2. And the Pro­phet Haggai tells us plainly, that men may sow much, and yet bring in but little, they may eat, and not have enough, drink, and not be filled, they may be cloathed, and yet not warm, and earn wages but put it into a bag with holes, Hag. 1. 6. So that the Favourable Presence of GOD is desireable, both to supply what we want, and to make these things which we have useful and com­fortable▪ He that hath GOD with him, hath not only a Wise Friend, but a power­ful one, who can do whatsoever he pleaseth in Heaven or in Earth, who can oblidge and com­mand Angels and all Creatures to Serve and Minister unto him whom he loveth: Thus he caused the Ravens to feed the Prophet Elijah; These Foules by Nature are more [Page 45] ready to steal and take away then to give, and yet at the Command of GOD, they brought him Bread and Flesh in the morning, and Bread and Flesh in the evening, 1 King. 17. 6: He made the jaw bone of an Ass to afford drink unto Sampson when he was ready to to faint for thirst. He caused the Heavens to rain down Bread to his People in the Wilderness, and gave them Quails in great abundance, so that even then they were fed to the full: And in a word, as there is no­thing impossible unto GOD, as by his Power he can do all things whatsoever he pleaseth, so he will never fail to work Mightily and Wonderfully for those whom he loveth, when his Glory or their Good requires it, he will withhold nothing from them which their necessity or comfort calls for, and will make all things, even what seems most rough, severe, and adverse, to work together for their good, as the Apostle speaks, Rom 8. 28. and as may be easily made appea [...] from many instances drawn from Scripture, and also o­ther History.

Though neither privat Persons nor publick States, are now to expect to be maintained & supported by Miracles and extraordinary mani­festations of the Divine Power, so much and so frequently as the Children of Israel were of old, [Page 46] yet particular Providences must not be denyed; We must not think that GOD hath now abstracted himself from the Government of the World, and from taking care of such as love and fear Him, His eyes are still upon the Chil­dren of Men; He interesseth himself in their Affairs, and hath the chief hand in the disposal thereof, His eyes are still upon the Righteous, and his ears are open to their cry; now as much as formerly, he still shews a special care of his own, and when ordinary means and methods fail, and prove ineffectual for compassing their good; He inter­poseth himself by Wayes and Means extraordinary, as might be made evident from the lives of some who have been eminently Holy and Pious. I doubt not but who will be at the pains to make Collections, may find many Instances almost parallel to those we read of in Sacred Writ; I shall mention some which may perhaps help to the remembrance of others; and that deserves the first place, which the Reverend Archbishop Spotswood tells us of Mr. Iohn Craig; (Spots: Hist. lib. 6. p. 462) This eminent Person having fallen upon Calvins Institutions at Bononia, by which Means, he came not only to know the Doctrine of the Protestants, but also to be perswaded of the truth thereof, which being discovered, he was thereupon delat­ed, and sent to Rome, where he was tryed by the Court of Inquisition, who condemned him to be burnt as an Here­tick. But it pleased GOD, before the day of his Executi­on, to remove Pope Paul the 4th, whose death occasioned an uproar in the City, and several disorders amongst the rest, the Prison doors were broken open, which afford­ed to Mr. Craig the opportunity of an escape; And as he fled he met with two remarkable Instances of Provi­vidence; For first, Passing through the Suburbs of Rome, a company of Banditi met him, one of whom accosted him, and asked if he knew him, which Mr. Craig denying, the other re­membred him of a Courtesie he formerly received at Bononia, and for which he not only bestowed on Mr. Craig some Money, but also conveyed him safe sorth of the City, and directed him in the right way to Bononia, whither he intended. But not finding that good Reception there he expected; he resolved up­on [Page 47] Millan, without either knowledge of the way, or the ne­cessary means of a support for a Traveller; and while he lay pensive at the side of a little Brook, he received a second in­stance of GOD'S special Favour and Providence; for a Dog came to him with a purse of Money in his mouth. This (as the Reverend Historian sayes) may seem somewhat incre­dible; yet I cannot see how the truth thereof should be rejected, seing Mr. Craig himself did frequently relate the story; for both the holiness of his life, frees him from all suspition of Forgery, and any design of Imposing upon Men; and also the eminent Imployments he was honoured with, both before and after his Conversion to the Protestant Religion, shews him to have been far from the simplicity of being cheated and deluded himself. It is also reported of D. Barnaby Potter,

That after he had passed the ordinary timeSee Wilkin­sons Treat: of GODS alsufficiency. of his Studies in the University of Oxford, he was like to have missed his Degrees, for want of Money to defray the Charges thereof, upon which he retired to his Cham­ber, and vented his grief in Prayers and Tears before GOD; and while he was at Prayer, One came knocking at the door, and required him to come and speak with the Vice-Chancelour, who bestowed on him as much Money as his present necessity called for. To these I shall subjoyne two or three more of latter date, which I have from very good hands. And first, it is reporred of a worthy Divine of our Neighbour Nation, who was redacted in times of the late Troubles to great Straits; And one time espe­cially, he and his Family had been a day or two without victuals; and being much moved with their looks and speeches, by a secret suggestion of the Spirit, he commanded the Ser­vant-Maid, to go with her basket to the Mercat, (albeit he had no money to give with her.) When she came there, passing up and down without offering to buy any thing, she was espy­ed by some who were drinking nigh by, They invited her in, and began to make merry with her; but she not being in a disposition for it; told them sadly, ‘That though they were at their cups, yet such a good Man her Master and his [Page 48] Family were starving.’ Upon which they presently col­lected a sum of Money, and gave it her, with which she bought Provisions and took home with her. A Second Instance shal be of a Widow-Gentle-Woman in this same Countrey, who was left with several small Children, but little or nothing to maintain them with; and it be­ing in these troublesome Times wherein there was little occasion for shewing Industry, or using honest Shifts, this made her condition the more hard: One day, t [...] diver [...] her from the cries of her Children, she resolved to make a visit to some person living at some distance, and as she was passing thither, GOD sent a rain, which occasioned her to step into a Milne, for fear of spoiling a new Plaid which she car­ried about her, where she rencountred with an Aquaintance who was making meall for the service of the Publick, and he under­standing her condition, caused take home with her two loads of meal for the use of her self and family. I shall mention but one Instance more, which fell out much about the same time, and it was of another Widow Gentlewoman, who had been in a prosperous condition, and might have continued so, if it had not been for the Publick Revoluti­ons; One time being somwhat pinched with the want both of Mo­ny and Provisions, & not willing to make her condition known, she with her Daughters went to hear Sermon, and after Sermon they fetching a walk, met with a Gentle Man, who first gave them an entertainment, and thereafter proposed Marriage to the eldest Daughter, though he knew their present difficulties; it was accepted of, and as he was able, so he actually did maintain the Mother as well as the Daughter, handsomely and Creditably all her lifetime.

Those who have small sense of GOD and his Provi­dence, will be ready enough to mock at some of these In­stances, and to name others but chance, and accidental things, Hits of Fortune only But certainly considering all circumstances they cannot be looked upon as other then special and particular Providences. It is unreasonable to re­ject the truth of a thing, meerly because we cannot under­stand how it could be brought about, and it is no les [...] unreasonable to refuse to acknowledge it to be of God, be [Page 49] cause the same is not intimat to us by a Prophet, or par­ticular Revelation. By these Instances and others which Men may gather from their Experience and Reading, it doth appear what GOD is able to do for us, and how many things he may contrive, and make to occur for relieving us out of the Straits and Troubles we fall into. But for preventing Mens mistakes, it will not be amiss to add a Caution, and it is this, That we do not think that we are only beholden to GOD and his Providence, when we meet with such extraordinary occurrences, for GOD must still be acknowledged the Author of all our Com­forts, when they come to us in wayes Ordinar and Com­mon, as well as when they are brought about by Miracu­lous Means and Methods, He is the Preserver of our Life and Health, when we Eat, Drink and Sleep, no less then if we should live without either of these: Our Prosperity is to be ascribed to him, when it follows our Diligence and Industry in our Imployments, no less then when it falls out by Wayes and Methods extraordinary, and un­thought of, to convince us of which, GOD doth some­times blast Natural Means, for that shews the Effects doth not wholly depend upon them. And as GOD must still be acknowledged the Author of all the good we enjoy, by what ever Means or Instruments it comes to us, so we must not expect any extraordinary manifestation of his favour and Providence but in extraordinary cases, that is to say, when ordinary means and methods fail, and that such special and singular instances of the Divine Power and goodness, are requisit [...] for Supporting a stagger­ing Faith, and the engaging our selves and others, to a chearfull dependance upon GOD in times of Trouble and Calamity. And though even in these cases GOD should not interpose himself thus extraordinarly on our behalf, yet there were no Reason to complain of the Want of special Care of us; we must not think they are all desert­ed of GOD, who do not find Miraculous help and re­lief upon the want of Ordinary Means, for GOD may see it as much for their Spiritual good to leave them in [Page 50] these straits and difficulties, then it would be for their tem­poral good to be relieved out of them, so his Love is as great the one way as the other.

But thirdly, though the Divine Presence should not thus signally manifest it self in procuring External Successes and Advantages, yet it rendereth one happy, in that, Peace and Tranquillity, Joy and Gladness doth ever flow from it, and the sense thereof. Inward Peace and Contentment and Gladness of Heart every man covets, but few rightly understand where or how it is to be had: It doth not flow from an abundance of Temporal things and an Affluence of Worldly enjoyments; one may have as much of these as heart can wish, and yet be without inward peace and Sa­tisfaction, and however it is but a weak and brittle peace, a very slender comfort which a man can suck from these outward and perishing enjoyments; when these things are not considered as tokens and expressions of the Divine Favour, they can yield no more but vanity and vexation of Spi­rit, as Soloman proves, by his manifold expe­riences. True Peace and Joy can be built upon no other foundation then GOD Him­self, it results only from the enjoyment of him, and a sense and Assurance of his Fa­vour and Love, if he be with us, he both can and will give us a Peace, which the whole World cannot give, and which none can take from us. Thou will keep him, saith the Prophet, in perfect Peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee, Isa. 26. 3 when others were earnestly craving and gap­ing for this, and the other Worldly delight, saying, who will shew us any good: David [Page 51] prayes seriously, LORD lift up the light of thy Countenance upon us. And he adds the reason why he desired this so much above all other things, because saith he, Thou hast put Glad­ness in my heart, more then in the time that their Corn and Wine encreased, Psal. 4. 6. 7. That is, he had more Joy from GOD'S Presence & Favour, then Men use to have in the time of Harvest when all things most abound with them. This Peace and Comfort, which GOD giveth, is not necessarily annexed to outward Plenty and Prosperity, nor alwayes attended with it: There may be outward­ly nothing but Want and Poverty, Sickness and Distress, Trouble and Affliction, and yet even in this case, GOD may inwardly afford a joy unspeakable, and a peace which pas­seth all understanding. Wherefore Christ tells his Disciples, that in the World they should have trouble, but in me ye shal have peace, as if he had said be not afraid, for the trouble you meet with in the World, shall not bereave you of that peace I promise; and therefore also So­lomon saith Prov. 14. 14. That a good man shall be satisfied from himself, that is, his satisfaction & comfort depends not on External enjoyments, or things without him, but he can draw it from within, through the intimat presence of GOD which doth alwaies attend him. And [Page 52] thus you see how desireable a thing the Pre­sence of GOD is, and how happy he must needs bewhom GOD is with.

Wherefore let all of us be so wise as to imitat Iacob, to seek this in the first place, and to prefer it before all things; Let us Pray to GOD that he may be with us, and even convenant with him, as Iacob doth here for this end; that in him, and by him, we may be supported. Doth not our experi­ence tell every one of us that we are not able to sustaine our selves? and that we must be propt and upholden, or else we cannot choose but droup and fall. Man is like unto the Hop or Ivie, and such other weak Plants, which cannot stand of themselves, nor bear their own weight, but must have something to lean to: How miserable would we be if we were left to our selves, and destitute of all external help? how insignificant would one be if he had no other supplies, but what he could furnish from, and by himself? We have certainly no sufficiency or subsistence of our selves, and therefore we ought to cleave unto him, who only can stay and support us: If we lay the stress and com­fort of our Souls upon any other thing be­sides GOD, it will be but like the Hop or Ivie's clasping about a Thistle, or Nittle, for [Page 53] want of an Oake, which brings both to the ground. Alas the generality of the World trust to the Creatures! And how foolish a thing is it? For they prove to them as the staff­of Egypt, which the Prophet compares to a bro­ken reed; whereon if a man lean, it will go unto his hand and pierce it, Isa: 36: 6. The Creatures and all things in the World of themselves are but fleeting vanities, and so must needs be but miserable comforters, they are not du­rable, and though they were, yet they are not sufficient, not stedable to all ends and purposes, they are so far from lessening ones vanity, that oft-times they encrease it, so far from easing his mind, or supporting his burden, that they produce [...]ome more vex­ation of Spirit. Riches is a vain thing to trust to, for they make to themselves wings and fly a­way; As the Wise Man observeth, and as every Man may take notice of as well as he, and though they did stay more constant­ly, yet could they not answer all things: What could they profit a man in the day of Wrath? could they make his bed in His Sickness, or comfort him in his Languish­ing Condition? Could they ease his Pain, or asswage his grief? If he were seized with the Gout or Stone, reproached in his Name, or inwardly Wounded in Spirit. And what [Page 54] may be said of them is applicable to all other things, which one may or can possess. All outward [...]enjoyments serve only to blow up▪ Men's Fancies, and to feed their Hopes while they are in Ease and Quiet, and in no diffi­culty; but so soon as Trouble overtaketh them, and that they fall into Straits, then these Gayeties shrink away, and discover how little strength or solidity is in them. He who confides in his Wealth, Greatness, Friends, Power, and such like, builds upon a Sandy Foundation▪ a Foundation which will certainly fail him when he hath most need to be. Sheltred and protected. The Psalmist makes a supposition, that Father and Mother may forsake us, Psal. 27. and indeed sometimes they do it of their own accord, and sometimes they are constrained thereto; Friends and Acquaintances; as Iob observed, prove like. Winter brooks, which flow in wet Seasons, but dry up when heat and drought comes: And then what comes of him, all whose Ho [...]e was placed in them? So who trusts to the World, trusts to no sure Friend, it never proved true to any yet, it hath de­ceived both its own Children, and the Chil­dren of GOD, it hath forsaken both its A­dore [...]s▪ and those who cared little for it▪ these who deserved well, and those whose▪ [Page 55] Merits were but small; this the History of every Age, and every Nation maketh out, we need not go beyond Seas, nor look back to former Times, to learn this; we need not fetch from Antiquity the Story of Craesus, or Darius: We may prove this from the Hi­story of our own Times, and from what hath been frequently transacted in this same British▪ Isle, this Age, and the last. Lord Crom­wel of Essex, the Seymours, Bacon, Lord Verulam Chancellour of England, and some others who had a higher Office than that of Chancellour amongst our selves, are eminent proofs of this vanity and uncertainty of the World. But there is no need of bringing single Instances, every day's observation furnisheth us with Proofes enough of this kind, so that he must be very blind, and very obdured, or very much be­sotted, who doth not see the vanity and folly o [...] trusting to the world and the things there­of. He that leaneth to these only shal fall, but he that trusteth in the LORD GOD, is Blessed, for he shall be upholden: I have set the LORD, saith David, alwayes before me, be­cause he is at my right hand; I shall not be moved; Psal 16: 8: And again, Psal. 46: [...]2: GOD only is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble, he is a refuge sure & stedfast which neither can not will deceive us, and he is a [Page 56] present▪ help, because he is always ready, hard at hand, and he is not more present than he is stedable and sufficient. Wherefore as the Psalmist goes on, We need not fear though the Earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried▪ unto the midst of the Sea. O LORD of Hosts, Blessed is the man that trusteth in thee; for in GOD there i [...] fulness which may fill our emptiness, in him there is sufficiency which can answer all our needs, there is no want in him, & that good which we crave, & which we are still seeking after is in him and him only▪ It is reported of a Souldier, who con­trived a Target or Shield, after such a fashion that it served both to defend him from the darts of his Enemies, and was also useful to help him over Rivers and Waters, and that therefore he used to hugge and kiss it, calling it the true companion of a Souldier, being serviceable both upon Land and Water. This shield is no unfit Embleme, to set forth the excellency and advantage of the Divine Pre­sence which serveth not for one season, but for all, and is usefull for every purpose: God is stedable both in Prosperity and Adversity, in Health and Sickness, in Company and so­litude, in Youth and old Age [...], at Sea and on the Land, in Peace and in War, in a Word, at all times and in all conditions; [Page 57] He can Supply all our Wants, and af­ford us whatever we need; Nothing is so Difficult, but he can remove it, nothing so adverse, but he can make it ad­vantageous; no case so perplexed, but he can resolve it▪ and no condition so Barren, but he can and will make it Comfortable, if he be with us: And if he once engage to be with us, he will not easily or lightly, for­sake us; He will not cast us off upon sur­mises and suspicions, while we continue Faithfull and Dutifull to him, he will ne­ver leave us, or fall to be with us. Where­fore Cardinal Wolsey said truely▪ though very sadly for himself, If I had served my GOD as well, and as faithfully, as I have done my King, be would never have deserted me. And now that we may never have ground for such a complaint, that we may never have reason to bewail the folly of a vain and false Confidence, and trusting unto a deceit­full hold; and that especially when there is no time of redressing it, let us therefore, I say, presently and speedily draw near to GOD, let us seek him with our whole hearts, a­bove all things, let us secure His Favour, and engage him to be with us. And then we shall tast and see better than words can unfold it, that the LORD is good, and [Page 58] that the Man is Blessed▪ that trusteth i [...] him; That it is better to trust in the LORD, than to put confidence in Man, in Princes, or in any thing under the Sun. None that wait on him shall ever be ashamed: They trusted in thee, saith the Psalmist, and were not confounded. Be of good courage and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD, Psal. 22. 5. & 31. 24.

CHAP. III. Why Jacob mentioned other particulars, seeing the first Request did comprehend them, and all things else he could ask The second Request treated of the Reasons of Jacobs Fear, and the lyable­ness of all Men generally to Dangers. No true Security, but in the Divine Protection; an Application of all.

IN the preceeding Chapter we have spo­ken to Iacob's first Request, and have shewed what it is to have the LORD with one, and how large and comprehen­sive a Blessing it is; for in effect it contains not only the other two which follow, but all other things else, which one can reason­ably desire: All the good that a man hath or which he can desire, is meerly the effect of GOD'S favourable presence. And so Iacob [Page 59] needed have asked no more to make him Happy, but that GOD might be with him. But because the holding to generals, doth not sufficiently alley or dissipate▪ our fears, this is only done when particulars are con­descended on; therefore the Patriarch here as in general, he begs GOD'S Presence, so that in particular he might know it, first by his being protected from these Dangers he was liable to▪ and secondly by the receiving a competent supply of his Wants, which two things fall next to be considered.

The second Request Iacob here made, is in these words, If he will keep me in the way that I goe; Which words speak out, that he was both apprehensive of Dangers, and that he thought none but GOD could truly defend him from them, or deliver him out of them. And indeed, first it was no wonder that he was apprehensive of Dangers, the fear of his brother Esau's wrath was one Principal Reason, why he left his Father's house, and seeing Friends and so near Re­lations bore him such ill will, and were ready to do him mischief, what might he expect from Strangers, who were no wayes tied or obliged unto him? if Abraham and his Father Isaac were in such fear of their Lives when they sojourned, that they deni­ed [Page 60] their Wives, calling them their Sisters, notwithstanding of their Power, and the numerous Family they had; What fear might he be in who had none with him but himself and was destitute of all help? And besides the Dangers which he might [...]ee him­self exposed to through the malice and wick­edness of men: Iacob could not but per­ceive innumerable others, which might be­fall him in the course of his Pilgrimage, the Wild Beasts of the Field might devour him, he might be entrapped unto Snares and Pitts; out of which there was no recovery. As he passed through the Waters, they might overwhelme him; the excessive heat of the Day, or the cold frosts of the Night, might bring on heavy Sicknesses and Dis­eases. It's impossible to reckon up all the evils which may befall a man▪ or to point at all the Sources from whence they flow; For we are lyabe to Dangers from all the Elements, and from every part of the Creation; A thousand Mischances and Accidents may happen to put an end to our life, or to render it miserable. But our greatest and sorest enemies are those of our own Kind: Man is to Man the worst Foe: The Plague and Pestilence have killed their thousands, but Malice and Revenge ten [Page 61] thousands; some Vineyards and Gardens have been taken away by the innundations of Rivers, but more by Covetousness; As some Merchants and Seamen have been brought to ruine by Storms and Tempests, so others by Pirats and Theeves and the Barbarity of those to whom they run for Shelter. And thus upon many accounts it is true, That Man that is born of a Woman, is of few dayes and full of trouble, as Iob saith; which Iacob might now understand by his Reason, as afterwards he spoke it to Pharaoh from his experience, Gen. 47. 9. And it is indeed a Truth which stands now valid and undoubted, by some five thousand years experience; For this life as a Heathen saith, [...] it is not truly a Life, but a Calamity. And the Wise Son of Sirach, hath observed, that great Tra­vel is Created for every man, and an heavy yoke is upon the Sons of Adam, from the day that they go out of their Mothers womb, till the day that they return to the Mother of all things, Eccl. 40. 1.

Now as every Prudent Man foreseeth the Evils and Dangers which he is lyable to, as he hath an apprehension both of the com­mon Calamities of Mankind, and of the particular Troubles and Distresses which may befal him in his Circumstances, so he [Page 62] is desirous to guard against them and shun them. And unless we know some Reme­dies against the Troubles we may meet with, unless we know how to prevent them, or how to remove them, or how to be eased under them, and how to be safely delivered from them, our Mindes can en­joy no true Rest nor Quiet. And what De­fence can one have unless he have it from GOD? How can any think to be keeped in safety, unless He do it whom Iacob here calls upon? Except the LORD, saith the Psalmist, keep the City, the Watch men waketh but in vain, Psal. 127. 1. And the same may be said of private Persons, for if the LORD be not on our side, if he do not look to us, and take a care of us, When men rise up against us, they should certainly swallow us up quick, when their wrath is kindled against us: certainly the Waters of trouble when they approach should overwhelm us; And the stream should go over our Soul, Psal. 124. 2, 3. But he is secure who hath GOD for his help; I will (saith David) both lay me down in peace and sleep, for thou LORD only makest me to dwell in safety, Psal. 4. 8. and in the former Psalm, he tells us plainly, I laid me down and slept, I awaked for the LORD sustained me; I will not be afraid of ten thousands of People that have set [Page 63] themselves against me round about. The like confidence may every one have who is in­teressed in the Divine Favour, for he that dwel­leth in the secret place of the Most High, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Because thou hast made the LORD which is my refuge, even the Most High thy Habitation: There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his Angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy wayes, they shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a Stone. Thou shalt tread upon the Lyon, and Adder, the young Lyon, and the Dragon shalt thou trample under foot. Be­cause he hath set his Love upon me, therefore will I deliver him, I will set him on high because he hath known my Name, Psal. 91. That is a great Comfort and Encouragement and a true Antidote against all Fear of Danger, or Trouble, which GOD giveth to his Ser­vants and People; by the Prophet Isaiah, Thus saith the LORD, that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, fear not, for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy Name, thou art mine: When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee, and through the Rivers they shall not overflow thee. When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burnt, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee, for [Page 64] I am the LORD thy GOD, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour, Isa. 43. 1, 2.

Thus it appears what safety and security one hath whom GOD takes into his Prote­ction, such an one as Eliphaz speaks, Shal be in league with the stones of the Field, and the Beasts of the Field shall be at peace with him, Iob 5. 23. Which we are not yet to understand. as if the Children and Servants of GOD, should never be in any Danger, nor ever meet with any trial, no. there is no such thing promised, nor must it be expected: Dangers they may be in, enemies they may, they will, nay shall have: a life of perpetuall ease is no where promised, nor yet an exem­ption, from Trouble altogether; yea, all temporall Promises are to be interpreted cum exceptione Crucis, with an attendance of Afflictions and Dangers; as our Saviour intimats to us, Mark 10. 30. But the thing which GOD promised to do for his Own, and which all who sincerely seek him may look for, is, that either first he will prevent and keep off Dangers, and such evils as are threatned by men, or which we may have cause to fear from other things; or Se­condly, that he will abate the Severity and Rigour of them when they come, & keep us from feeling too much the smart of them, [Page 65] by sending something or other at the same time, which may Ease and Comfort our Minds, that we may be the better able to bear it; or thirdly, he will procure us a Happy Issue and outgate so that we may not altogether be swallowed up by them; nay fourthly, that he will even make the Evils and Mischiefs threatned, & inflicted, to turn to our Good, and to prove instrumental either to our Spirituall or our Temporal advantage; That even upon this account we may have reason to rejoyce for the dayes wherein we have seen evil. This is the Nature and Manner of that Defence and Protection that we must look for from GOD; and to for­tifie [...]ur Minds with the hopes of this, he hath not only given us his Promises; But laid before us several excellent examples of his Providence, towards his Saints and Servants in the Disposal of their Calamities and Afflicti­ons. Thus though Abraham was in hazard by coming to the land of Canaan, for being a Stranger, the Inhabitants might have been jealous of him, and have thought it their interest to hinder his settlement, yet GOD suffered no man to do him harme. With every disaster that befell Ioseph, GOD grant­ed him some comfort, for he made him al­wayes to find favour in the sight of those he [Page 66] was among. Moses was exposed to perish in the waters, but he ordained Pharaoh's Daugh­ter to step in, and take him up, which occasioned him to get a more▪ Liberal and noble Education, than what his Parents could have given him. David was often in danger both from Men and Beasts, yet the LORD delivered him out of them all. The three Children were cast into Nebuchadnez­zar's fiery furnace; but he suffered not the fire to have power upon their bodies, nor was a hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor had the smell of the fire passed on them; Dan. 3. 27. Daniel also was thrown in­to the Lions Den, but GOD sent his An­gel, and shut the Lions mouths that they did him no hurt, Chap. 6. 22. And this same Iacob though he was hated by his Un­cle and his Sons, and hotly pursued by them, yet when they overtook him, the LORD suffered them not to speak either good or e­vil against him, or to do him any manner of mischief. His Brother Esau also, when he heard of his coming homewards, came out with four hundred Men against him, for to cut him and his off; but when they met, in steed of Fighting, they kissed each other, and gave mutual expressions and assurance of Kindness. So that as Solomon observeth, [Page 67] When a Man's wayes please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him; Prov. 16. 7. that is, He will either turn their Ha­tred into Love, and their Malice into Good­will, or He will so bridle their Wrath, that they can do him no hurt, but be oblidged to behave themselves as to the Outward part civilly. Of this we have many Proofs in all Ages throughout the World, but it is especially evident in the Revolution of States: for in these turns of Affairs, it hath been often seen, that some have been pre­served and suffered to live in Peace, when in all Humane appearance, the contrary might been expected, yea was actually look­ed for by all; because the letting them a­lone, was so little agreeable to the inclinati­ons and interests of those who had grasped the Power into their hands.

From all these therefore let us learn, First, when we apprehend any cause of Fear, or foresee any Evil coming, from whatsoever Airth it be, let us, I say, seek GOD as Iacob did here, and shelter our selves under His Protection; we may indeed and ought to use Prudent and Ordinary Means, but take heed that our chiefest confidence be in GOD, and his Help: Let us not be taken up with any thing we our selves can do, or with [Page 68] any Refuge we may expect from others, as to forget to depend upon the LORD; and to call upon Him for His Aid and Assi­stance; I will, saith the Psalmist, lift up mine eyes unto the Hills from whence cometh my help; And that we may know what Hills these were he meant of, he addeth, my help cometh from the LORD, which made Heaven and Earth; Psal. 121. 1, 2. If thou wilt run to the LORD, he will certainly keep thee; other Keepers may fail thee, or they may be asleep when thine Enemy comes upon thee, as Abner was and all the Host with him, when David stole in upon Saul. But if GOD keep thee, thy Keeper will not slumber. Behold, saith the Psalmist, He that keepeth Israel▪ shall neither slumber nor sleep, in the forecited place.

Secondly, Let us consider whither we en­joy any Safety, have we escaped any Dan­gers, and Evils which were threatned us? Are the Storms and Clouds dispelled which we feared? Do we at present enjoy any Ease and Quiet? If so, we may learn from what hath been said, whom we are obliged to for this, and whom we must thank, even GOD, for He and none other is the Author of all this; For whoever or whatever were the im­mediat Instruments, He was the Supreme Cause and Director. Owest thou any thing to [Page 69] the Favour and Good▪ will of Men? It is he and he only, who turns their Hearts towards thee, it is GOD who Ordered and Contrived all these Favourable Circumstances which occasion thy present Peace and Safety: It is the LORD who is thy Keeper, He is thy Shade upon thy Right Hand; and therefore see that thou do acknowledge it by Ren­dering Him thy Hearty thanks, and ascrib­ing the Praise of all to his Almighty Power and Goodness, and take heed lest your un­thankfulness make him who hath hitherto been thy Friend, to turn thy Foe, and to give thee up to the will of thine Enemies.

Thirdly, and lastly, Doth any man want Peace? Hath his life been still full of disquiet and trouble? Wants he the Hearts and Good will of those he lives among? Where ever he goeth, and whatever he doth, doth he still find Enemies and Persons who bear him Malice and Ill will? Doth one Cross and Danger come upon the back of another, so that he hath no Rest or Security? Such an one may learn by what hath been said also where the fault lies, and who is to be blamed for it: 'tis perhaps because he hath never sought the LORD, nor studied so to order his Wayes, as to Please GOD, he hath trusted too much to himself, His Wit [Page 70] and Industry, his Wealth, Power, or Friends, because of these he hath thought with him­self, that it should be alwayes well with him, and therefore he hath not cared much for GOD; and therefore GOD hath set him­self to vex and trouble him. For as the Eyes of the LORD are upon the Righteous, and his Ears are open unto their cry: so the Face of the LORD is against them that do eVil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the Earth; Psal. 34. 15, 16. Because DaVid displeased the LORD in the matter of Uriah, therefore 'tis said, That He raised him up many Enemies. Let every Man therefore Try and Examine himself, let him search his wayes, and see what sin lyeth at his door, and repent of it; and let him turn unto the LORD, and He will cause His Face to shine Favourably upon him, happy shall he be, and it shall be well with him. Make GOD thy Friend, and He shall preserVe thee from all eVil: He shall preserVe thy Soul. The LORD shall preserVe thy going out▪ and thy coming in, from this time forth and eVen foreVermore; Psal. 121▪ 7. 8.

CHAP. IV. Jacob's third Request considered, in respect of himself; Though the generality of Men ask more, yet all wise Heathens and Iews have preferred this Portion to all Others. The confining our Desires to this, is shewed by seVerall instances to be Wise and Reasonable; and that therefore eVery one ought to content himself with his Competency. All Mens Competency is not the same. What is the Duty of him, who hath got his Competency? what of him who hath less? and what his, who hath more?

JAcob's third Request, which he here makes, is for Maintenance, this is the last thing about which he conditions with GOD; And in this particular he was not Immodest and Exorbitant; His Desires were far from being Inordinate and unreasonable, for he craves only what was simply necessary and Re­quisit for the Support of his Life: He askes no more, but that GOD would give him Bread to eat, and Raiment to put on; without these he could not live, and having these he thought he had enough, all that was Need­ful or Sufficient, as to his Present State and [Page 72] Condition. And that Iacob confined his Desires to this Sober Measure of Food and Raiment is the more observable, seeing we find a little before, GOD making him large Profer's, and great Promises of the whole Land in which he was. It might been thought that he would at lest taken in GOD'S own Promise unto him, as one of the Conditi­ons of his Vow, and that he should have said, ‘well, if thou wilt indeed give me all this which Thou hast Promised, and do all these things to me which Thou hast spoken, and make me so Great, and so Rich a Man, then Thou shalt be my GOD▪’ But he takes another Method, and Proceeds after another Manner, he pas­ses by all these large Profers of Wealth and Greatness, and pitches only upon a meer simple Sufficiency of Food and Raiment, think­ing it Improper and Unreasonable, and a peece of Immodesty for him to seek more than was necessay for him▪ If GOD gave more, it was an Act of His Bounty; if his Wisdom and Goodness thought fit to be­stow a larger Allowance, and a greater Measure of these Temporal things, it might be matter of Praise and Thankful acknowledg­ment; But it did not become him to pre­scribe and set down▪ Rules to the Soveraign [Page 73] LORD of Heaven and Earth: he knew his Happiness was not tied to these outward things, and that Man's life did not consist in the abundance of these things which he pos­sessed; Food and Raiment was sufficient for the support of his Life, and therefore he craved no more.

The generality of the World are other­wise minded, their desires are not bounded with Iacob's, they are not satisfied ordina­rily with the portion of Food and Raiment, however sufficient it be of it self; they are not contented with meer necessary Supplies; but greedily covet a Superabundance, which is both their Folly and their Sin. We have shewed how wise and understanding the Pa­triarch was in the two former Particulars, and have proposed him as our Patern, and if we will consider it, we shall find him to be no less Wise in this, and no less Wor­thy of our Imitation. Wherefore let us set this holy Mans Example before us, and let us moderat our Desires after the things of this Life, according to this Measure and Model, which he gives and sets to him­self. and to which all Wise Men have ever proportioned their Desires. Thus Agur prayed, Give me neither Poverty, nor Riches: feed me with food Convenient for me; Prov. [Page 74] 30: 8. And as Solomon Contemned Riches and much Wealth so far, as that he would not ask them from GOD when he had it in his choice what to ask, so he hath Ad­vised us [...]o Despise them, and not to seek after them. Labour not, saith he, to be rich; Cease from thine own Wisdom; Prov: 23: 4. As if he had said, thou art not wise, thou understands not they self sufficiently, if thou think it a fine or a good thing to be Rich, and to have great abundance. St. Paul judged this, which Iacob here required, sufficient matter of Contentment, having food and rai­ment, saith he, Let us be therewith content; 1. Tim: 6: 8: And we might instance even in many Heathens, who sought no more than a meer Competency, and in their Judgement preferred that to the greatest affluence of Worldly Wealth, and Gran­deur. Horace calls this, Auream mediocritatem, a Golden Competency, because it is the best of Conditions; and elsewhere he saith,

—Bene est mi Deus obtulit Parca, quod satis est, manu.
—Thrice happy he, to whom the wise indulgency of Heaven,
With sparing hand, but just enough hath given.

Plutarch in his Banquet of the seven Wise Men, [Page 75] brings in this Question, Which is the happiest Family? Which one of the Sages answers thus, Where Necessaries are not wanting, and Su­perfluities are not sought. How much Seneca speaks in the commendation of a Moderate State, and how much in the contempt of Riches, is known to all who have seen any thing of his Writings; and the following lines speak out his sentiments thereof,

Fata si liceat mihi
Fingere arbitrio meo, &c.
Tuta me media vehat
Rita decurrens via.
If all my Wishes, I could have
I for Felicity,
No other thing would crave
then Mediocrity.

It is a saying of Cicero, in his book, de Of­ficiis, Nihil est tam angusti animi tamque parvi quam amare divitias, that is, Nothing doth more bewray ignorance, & meanness of Spirit, than the love of Riches. And certainly to crave and be desirous of more than what is Competent for the Maintenance and Sup­port of our Lives, is both inconsistent with that Dependence & Subjection we owe GOD, and doth also bespeak a great deal of Vani­ty, Folly and Inconsideratness.

GOD who is the great Master and Gover­nour [Page 76] of the World, he Allowes and Com­mands, that we wait upon Him for the ne­cessary Supplies of our Life; yea, this much we may lawfully seek from Him. Where­fore our Saviour in that Prayer which he prescribed his Disciples, he taught us to Pray for our daily bread, comprehending under that all other necessary Supplies; According to that of St. Augustine, quando ro­gamus panem quotidianum, quicquid nobis prop­ter carnem nostrum necessarium est rogamus; that is▪ when we aske our Daylie Bread, we also aske all other things necessary for the Preser­vation and Comfort of our Lives; And as it becomes us to pray for this, that we may own and shew our Dependence upon GOD; so it becomes us to rest satisfied with the seeking of it, and to be contented when we have gotten it: To aske and be desirous of more, is but immodesty and doth b [...]wray an Unruly and Stubborn and Unreasonable Disposition; As the holy Father we just now mentioned saith, ‘Food and Rai­ment is necessary, without it we cannot live; there is no immodesty in seeking it; But it is impudency to ask Riches, it is one thing to ask, what may nourish our Pride and Vanity, and another thing to seek only what is proper for the sustenance of our life.’

[Page 77] Aliud est unde superbias aliud unde vivas. When a Servant hath received his Allow­ance, is sufficiently Fed and Cloathed, what an insolency is it for him to desire his Master to give Superfluities over and above what he needs, meerly to please his Fancy, or to gratifie his Humour? It is not Dis­cretion to set down Measures, and to pre­scribe what should be given, where nothing is due, Now GOD owes us nothing, He is not oblidged to give us any thing at all: But only because we are his Creatures, he is Ready and Willing to preserve us, and hath in some sense oblidged Himself to Maintaine and Cherish that Life he hath given, which yet gives no Allowance to seek for the satisfying of our unreasonable, and unsatiable Appetites. Necessaries we may call for but Superabundance and more than enough, we ought not; seeing we Live meerly by the Bounty of Almighty GOD, we ought not to carve for our Selves, but the Alms and Portion which He bestowes we should take Thankfully, and sit down Con­tentedly therewith. It is observed that though we have several other failings of the Ser­vants of GOD mentioned in Scripture, yet there is not one instance of an immoderate desire for Temporall Goods in any one of [Page 78] them. For as the excessive Love hereof is inconsistent with the true Love of GOD, so the express desire of them is arrogant Presumption which the Servants of GOD are ever carefull to keep themselves free of.

And as it is Immodesty and Undiscreti­on in regard of GOD to be desirous of more than a Competency, then what is sufficient to maintain us in our State and Condition: So really it is an unreasonable and vain thing in it self. To what purpose is it to seek more than that we stand in need of? All that is over and above is perfectly vain, useless, and unreasonable; And it is no real, but an imaginary Satisfaction only which a Man can promise to himself thereby. If one keep the Wealth by him which he stands not in need of, if he hoord it up in his Chests and Coffers, and put it to no use, what is he the better of it? What doth it really signifie more to him, than if it were yet an hundred fathom under Ground in the Bowels of the Earth, except that he hath a great dale of Care, Fear, Anxiety, and Trouble which he would want, if it were still there?

Fond Man! what good or beauty can be found?
I [...] h [...]aps of Treasure buried under ground?
[Page 79]Which rather then diminisht, e're to see,
Thou wouldst thy self too buried with them be;
And what's the difference, is't not quite as bad▪
Never to use, as never to have had.

Dionysius the Elder, understanding a certain Citizen had Gold hid in his hou [...]e, he com­manded it to be brought to him; But af­terwards when the same Person went to so­journ in another City, and did Trade with a little which he had stollen away; Dioni­sius sent for him, and restored him all back again, b [...]cause he began to use his Wealth, and to leave off the rendring an useful thing useless; Thereby shewing that the true use of Money is not to hoord it up, but to lay it out in such and such wayes as tend to the Publick good;

—Surely use alone,
Makes Money not a contemptible stone.

Again, if one should resolve to use and spend it on his Family and House-keeping, if a Man design to keep a great Retinue, and to live up sutably to the Abundance which he possesseth; Yet even in that case, there is more of Fancy than Solid Pleasure and Satisfaction; When goods enc [...]ease, saith Solomon, they are encreased that eat them: and [Page 80] what good is there to the Owners thereof, saving the beholding of them with their eyes; Eccl. 5. 11. Which truely is a very small and vain good; Let a Man have never so much of this World, yet even in that abundance his Na­tural necessities are not better supplied, than if he had only a simple competency; of all his Dishes, he fills but one Belly, & of all his fair Houses, and Rich furnished Rooms, he can lodge but in one at once, and neither the Variety, nor the [...]ineness and Delicacy of the things he enjoyes, doth secure from Death, or Sickness, and Diseases, and the other incumbrances of our Life. Mans life, saith our Saviour, consisteth not in the abundance of the things he possesseth; Luke 12. 15. That is, a Man's Life is not prolonged thereby, he must not necessarily live as long as he hath any thing to spend, even though he have much goods laid up for many years, his Soul may be very soon required of him, as the Parable there sheweth. And as the Abundance mak­eth not our Life the longer, so neither much the better. True Pleasure and Content­ment doth not alwayes follow great Mea­sures of this Worlds goods; he that hath little, and but a moderate competency, passeth his dayes ordinarly more Quietly and Con­tentedly, than he that hath much Riches, [Page 81] and his sleep is alwayes sounder. The sweet­est sleep doth not necessarily follow Beds of Doun, and Pillows of Silk. The sleep, saith Solomon, of a labouring Man is sweet, whither he eat little or much; but the abundance of the Rich will not suffer him to sleep; Eccl: 5: 12. Our Natures may be well enough supplied with little, Natura paucis contenta, and ordina­rily when that little and moderate competency is only enjoyed, it affordeth greater Pleasure, and more Satisfaction than Excess and A­bundance. What is superfluous and redun­dant commonly turns to our Hurt and Dammage, breeds Surfeitings and Loathings, Pains and Diseases, and doth Violence e­ven to our Natural Complexions, and so tend­eth to the shortning of our dayes.

But farther a State of Mediocrity or Com­petency proportioned unto our Necessities is far more desirable than Great or Superflu­ous Abundance, because this condition is more safe and secure, and less subject to changes and alterations. ‘A man in this State (as is well expres­sed by the Excellent LordHales Con­temp. part first pag. 181. Justice Hales) will not be so readily disquieted through the malice and envy of others; as he who is in an Estate of External Gran­deur, [Page 82] Wealth, and Power; For he who is in the former State, hath nothing that others do covet or desire, but the lat­ter hath gotten the Golden Ball that the generality of mankind are fond to have, and restless till they have gotten it, which makes the Man's estate unquiet and un­safe, because he hath many competitours for what he enjoys, which are continual­ly endeavouring to trip up his Heels. Just as we see when a Bird hath gotten a booty or prey, all other birds of prey are following and catching after it, and ever molesting him that hath it. He that en­joys much either of Honour or Wealth or Power is the object of the envy of other men, which is a busie, restless pernicious Humor, and ever picking Quarrels and finding Faults, and studying and endeavouring the ruine of its object. Whereas a State of Me­diocrity is a state of Quietness, and free fr [...]m the Assaults and Shafts of this Pestilent Companion.’ The great Difference of these two states may be well [...]een in Iacob the Person in the Text, for whilst he had nothing but his Staff, his Bread to eat, and his Raiment to put on; the necessary supplies of Nature, he was in great Quiet and Safety; but so soon as Wealth encreased upon him, his [Page 83] Uncle and his Sons first envied him, and then pl [...]tted against him, so that he saw no other Security but to fly for it. And how many such instances may we collect from the present Age, and even too within this Isle? H [...]w many lived Happily and Con­tentedly until they were raised unto places of Dignity and Advantageous Emolument? How hath this engaged them into a life of Strife and Debate? they have been so far from Augmenting even their temporal happiness, that many have losed it altogether, their Enemies not being content to take a­way what was so much envyed by their am­bition and covetousness, unless they also redu­ced them to circumstances worse than their former, that they might not be in a capaci­ty of revenging themselves

Besides all this, such a competent Con­dition as we are speaking of, is of it self by far perferrable to any other, because there is less care and trouble attending it, and it affords a man time and leasure for acquir­ing knowledge & vertue, and for mind­ing and waiting upon the Great Con­cerns of another World. He that ei­ther wants what he stands in need of, or hath much more, both of them are often necessitat to be a drudge to this life: all their [Page 84] thoughts, & cares, are for the most part about the World, and the things of the World, which debaseth a man very much, and is a stouping of him far below the designe of his Creation, he was created for the enjoyment of GOD, for converse with his Maker, and the Exercise of Divine vertues, which both a state of want and a state of superfluity and abundance doth very much hinder and di­vert him from. This made Agur pray a­gainst both, give me, saith he, neither poverty nor riches; not Riches, left I be full and deny thee, and say, who is the LORD. Nor yet po­verty, left I put forth my hand and steal, and take the Name of my GOD in vain. There be a great many Temptations in both States, but more in a state of plenty and fulness, than in want. They that will be rich, saith S. Paul, fall into a temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtfull Lusts, which drown men in Destruction and Perdition. 1 Tim: 6. 9. This Crates that Pagan Philosopher had some sense of, when he threw his money into the Sea, declaring, that he would drown it, lest it should drown him; he might indeed have found many better and more Vertues Wayes of disposing it, for preventing the mischief thereof; But however this shews, that even Natural Wisdom teacheth that there be [Page 85] more inconveniency in Having, then in Wanting riches. ‘Of all Con­ditions in the World (saithIbid pag. 180. that excellent Personage for­merly mentioned) a redun­dant and over plentifull condition is most subject to the most Dangerous and Perni­cious Temptations in the World; As namely forgetfulness of GOD; Self-De­pendence, Pride, Insolence, Oppression, Injustice, Unquietness of Mind, Excess, Luxury, Intemperance, contempt of others. I have very often, saith he, known these persons that have carried themselves sted­dily, and commendably in a Condi­tion of Mediocrity; nay have been able to bear with Victory the shocks of these Temptations that arise from want and Po­verty: yet when in the late times being advanced to Wealth, Power, and Com­mand, they were lost, and could not bear the Temptations that attended Gran­deur, Wealth, and Power. So that the sun of wealth and Prosperity quickly disrobed them of that mantle of Innocence, Piety, and vertue that they keept about them against the Stormes of Wants and necessi­ties.’ And perhaps there be few, but from our experience we may learn and observe [Page 86] the like. Though Men little regard it, yet certainly it merits our consideration, seeing it was spoken by our Saviour, Verily, verily I say unto you, that a rich man shall hardly en­ter into the Kingdom, of Heaven; and again, I say unto you, it is easier for a Camel to go through the eye of a needle, then for a rich Man to enter into the Kingdom of GOD, Mat. 19.

Thus you see what Reason and Wisdom there is in this Request of Iacob's, and how much it doth really concern us to bound & measure our Desires thereto. Food and Raiment we may and ought to seek, because without this, we cannot live conveniently and comfortably; but to ask more, as it is Insolent and Immodest in regard of GOD, so it is Vain and Unreasonable in it self, un­safe in respect of others, and very Dangerous for our selves.

Quod nimium est fugito, parvo gaudere memento
Tuta mage est puppis, modico quae flumine fertur,
Despice divitias si vis animo esse beatus.
Quas qui suspiciunt mendicant semper avari.
Fly what's too great, be with small things content,
That Ship's most safe to which small gales are sent;
Wouldst happy be? For wealth do not much care,
Who it affect, Beggars and greedy are.

Wherefore let every one in the first place sit down and wisely consider what is their [Page 87] competency, their convenient Food, as Agur terms it; for it is certain that this va­ries according to the various conditions of Men: Some require more and some less, the same measure doth not fit all; a single Man needs not so much as he who hath a Family, a Privat Person so much as a Publick, one in a low Condition, as he of better Rank and Quality, every Man's Necessities are according to his Station, Cal­ling, and Circumstances; and therefore as Zeba and Zalmunna said to Gideon, as is the man, so is his strength; [...]o we may say in this Case, as is the Man so is his competency. But whatever it be, having found it, let us Humbly and Modestly ask it of GOD as Iacob doth here, and let us not think to ob­tain it without him, for unless he give it, we cannot come by it; It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows, for so he giveth his beloved sleep, Psal: 127. If the eyes of the inferiour Creatures, as the Psalmist tells us, do all waite upon GOD, that he may give them their meat in due Season; how much more doth this become us, to whom he hath given reason and understanding, by which we know that our food and raiment are his peculiar gifts; It is true they who seek not GOD, may come to have these [Page 88] things; For wee see the wicked and ungod­ly have them usually in abundance: But then they cannot be considered as tokens of Gods love, as effects of his special favor and parti­cular care, and as pledges of better things in the life to come, and so they loss their lest savour, they want that which would give them the sweetest taste. It is the love of the giver which puts a value upon the Gift, and so our chief delight in these temporal things should be, because they come from GOD, and witness his favour for us; otherwise they can afford but a Mean and brutish Satisfaction, no greater then what an Ox or Horse, hath over their fod­der. Now, who waite not upon GOD, though they have their sustenance & more, yet it is not given them as a Blessing, they have reason rather to look upon it as a Curse, that they may be among those whose portion is in this life only. Omnia temporalia Dei munera sunt, ne putetis quod aliquis illa possit dare nisi unus Deus. August: And as we should ask our necessary sustenance, as it becomes us to seek our dole and allow­ance, so let us be carefull not to offend him by craving arrogantly more for which we have neither Precept, nor yet any Patern of any wise or holy Man in all the Scripture. But we must not content our selves to seek [Page 89] this by Prayer only, it behoveth us to seek it, and also to wait upon GOD for it, in the use of these prudent lawfull and ordinary Means which his Providence hath appointed; for 'tis this way ordinarily that he gives it, and by which we must expect it. Prayer ought to be used, but it must not be wholly rested in; When the LORD directs us to Pray for our dayly bread, the meaning is not, that GOD may give it without our own en­deavours; we do not Pray that GOD may Feed, and Cloath us by a miracle, as he did the Prophet Elijah and the children of Israel in the Wilderness: But only that he would blesse our diligence and industry in those ho­nest Courses which his Wise Providence hath Ordained and Established, that thereby we may procure the means of our subsistence and the comforts of our lives. That sentence which GOD past upon Man after the fall, stands yet unrepealed, In the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat thy bread; This is still in force it binds all, and it is in the observance hereof, that we are to expect our necessary Main­tenance and Support. Only in following these Ordinary means and Methods, we ought to beware of all immoderate care, anxiety and Solicitude, taking no thought what we should eat, or what we should drink, or wherewithall we [Page 60] shall be cloathed; For our Heavenly Father who feeds the Fowles of the Air, and provides for the Beasts of the Field, and cloathes the Lillies, will not suff [...]r us his Children who are Crea­ted after his Image, to want the necessaries of our life. He knows before hand what things we need, and if we trust in Him he will not fail to bestow them. The young Lions saith the Psalmist, may lack and suffer hunger, but they that fear the LORD, shall not want any good thing; Psal: 34.

In the next place, it will be fit and proper that we consider our present State and Con­dition, and what be those things which GOD hath already bestowed on us, that ac­cordingly we may know how to behave and demean our selves sutably.

First, I [...] GOD hath blessed us with a com­petency, if we find that we have a sufficient Supply of our Wants, and a convenient Support and Maintenance in our present Condition, then we ought to be well Con­tented, and also should be very thankfull to GOD who is the author thereof: we ought to Bless and Praise Him, who hath put us into such a convenient Condition, as is every wise Mans choice, and wherein there is such Freedom from Cares and Anxie­ties, Molestations and Envyings of others, [Page 91] which gives such Peace and security, and allowes Time and Opportunity for improv­ing our selves in Vertue and Wisdom, and acquainting our selves w [...]th GOD here, that wee may enjoy him for ever hereafter. The Man is truly Happy who is in this case, and may say with David, the lines art fallen unto me in pleasant places, yea I have a Goodly heri­tage, therefore I will Bless the LORD, &c. Psal: 16. 6. and 7.

But secondly some will perhaps say, that they have not a Competency as yet, that they are so far from having enough, that they are in Wants, Straits, & Difficulties, and indeed it may be so; however let them take heed that they mistake not their case and Condition; perhaps you may call that a State of Want which is really a Competency; you may perhaps judge that Poverty, which some will look upon as Fulness; and every Reasonable Man will count sufficient: The Table you dispise, some would think a feast, the cloathes you disdain to wear, another would be vain of, that which you all a trouble and Mortification, sober and Rational Per­sons would not complain of, but esteem it Easie and Comportable, and then it is only needfull to rectify thy Judgement, and to take up a true estimate of things for to know [Page 92] the Happiness and Sufficiency of thy present Lot. For to be informed of the inconveni­ency of our present Condition, we must not proceed by those Measures which Pride, and Vanity, and Luxury, and Voluptuousness, and corrupt Customes lay down, but we must examine and consider things accord­ing to their true Nature and Use, and as Sober and Modest Reason doth dictate. Magis nos docere debet judicium veritatis, quam praejudicium consuetudinis. If we have whole­some Food, though it be not Rare, Costly or Delicious, if we have Cloaths that are Useful and Comely, though they be not Gaudy and Splendid, and for great Osten­tation, if we have as much as serves to re­lieve our present necessities, and to afford us Necessary and Convenient Accommodation, though not for Lavish and Prodigal Spend­ing, or so much as others have, or equal to what our Ancestours enjoyed, in this case we have no Reason to complain. And if we do complain in these Circumstances we shall never be satisfied in any, he that is not contented with a Moderate and Reasonable Competency will never think the greatest A­bundance enough; when Mens desires once go beyond their necessities, no measure of Wealth or Riches can stay them; Crescit [Page 93] amor nummi, quantum ipsa pecunia crescit: And Solomon tells us, he that loveth Silver, viz. with an immoderate Love, shall not be satisfied with Silver; nor he that loveth abundance with In­crease, Eccl. 5. 10. The best and readiest way to become Rich is not to seek to in­crease our Substance, but to Moderate and Abridge our Desires. The true way to fill a leaking Vessel is not to carry it to the O­cean or some great River, but to stop the leaks, for so long as they continue, it were no more possible to fill it at the Ocean, then at some small Rivolet, even so if we would draw Contentment and Satisfaction from our present State and Condition, we must not let our Desires reach farther then what is Just and Equitable, otherwise the whole World will not be able to content or satiat them.

But suppose that it shall be found even by the narrowest Measures, that thou art in an Estate of Want, and hast not a Sufficiency answerable to thy Necessities; in this case indeed thou hast not full matter of Content­ment, but however thou must Labour to support thy self with Patience, considering that this is the Lot which the All wise GOD hath given thee to whom thou owest an in­tire Submission, and who may have ap­pointed [Page 94] this, as to punish thy former Follies and Sins, so likewise both to further thy greater good and also to prevent greater mischiefs and evils which might have befal­len thee. And though thou mayest very law­fully seek to be out of this present Necessitous Condition, (providing it be by Lawfull Means and Moderat Cares and Endeavours) yet thou hast no reason to Fret and Repine thereat: For consider, that as thy Estate is little here, so thy account shall be the less hereafter, and thou art also at present delivered from many Dangerous Temptations, which per­haps thou couldst not well have resisted, and art rid of many Incumbrances and In­tanglements which would either have hin­dred thy Progress in Vertue and H [...]liness altogether, or else rendred it very difficult Remember also that even in this State there are fair and good Opportunities of wining Heaven and Eternal Life, as well as in any other, and if that be sufficiently secured, it's the less matter what come of other things: i [...] we be sure to be happy hereafter, we need not be much concerned how we fare here. And 'tis certain that neither our Praise nor our Reward depends upon any external con­dition of this World, but upon our living Vertuously and Uprightly, Devoutly and [Page 95] Piously in whatsoever Condition GOD puts us. The state of Man in this World may be compared to a play, whereof we all are the Actors; and as in a play it is of no great moment, what part a Man act, providing he act the part alloted him handsomely, and well, for he that acts the part of a Ser­vant or Clown rightly, gets as much Praise and Reward as he who playes the part of a Prince: So let it not trouble thee, whither this or the other Condition hath fallen into thy share, whi­ther GOD hath given thee this or the other Station to shew thy self in, but whatever it be, do thou what becomes thee, walk sutably to thy place and Circumstances, see that thou carry thy self so as that GOD may be Glorified, thy self Praised▪ and others Edified, and when the Play is done, when this Life is ended, great shall be thy Reward.

Lastly if thou find that GOD hath put thee into an Estate of Redundance & Plenty so that besides the liberal supplies of thy Ne­cessities thou hast much considerably over and above; if so, then thou owest first great thanks to GOD for his Bountyt and Libera­lity to thee, whilst many others in the World are Pinched and Strained: Thou [Page 96] broughtest as little into the World with thee as they did, and therefore if the Divine Providence had not made the difference and kept it up, thou shouldest have felt their Poverty, and they might have enjoyed thy present Plenty. Make therefore an thank­full Acknowledgement unto GOD'S Good­ness, as this Iacob did afterwards upon the like Consideration, O GOD, said he, I am not Worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which thou hast shewed unto thy servant, for with my staff I passed over this Iordan, and now I am become two bands; Gen. 32. 9: 10.

But as thou art thus oblidged to Grati­tude and Thankfulness, so in the next place you will do well to consider, what Warri­ness and Circumspection and Watchfulness thy present condition requires and calls for. A Plentifull State is Difficult and Dangerous it produceth many and strong Temptations, so that thou hast need to take head to thy self that thou be not overcome; keep a strict Watch and Guard over all thy wayes, that thou wax not Proud and Wanton, that thou be not ensna [...]ed to Rioting and Excess, that thou oppress not thy Inferiours: Let not thy Abundance make thee Forgetfull of GOD, or keep thee from the thoughts of [Page 97] another World, for if these be the effects and Consequences of thy Plentifull Conditi­on, it is a Curse and not a Blessing, and it hath brought thee to utter Ruine and De­struction, if thou thus abuse thy Plenty, thou shall one day pay sadly for it; and the more thou Satiats thy self here, the greater shall be thy Penu [...]y and Want hereafter: Then thou shalt feel the folly of Abusing Plenty-after this sort, and shalt be Glad to have one sent that he may Dip the tip of his finger in water to cool thy tongue, but it shal not be granted; in steed of this thou shalt hear, Son, Remember that thou in thy life time receivedst thy good things; Luk: 16. 25. Now he that would not have such a Comfortless Memo­randum to be given unto him in the other World, let him Remember to walk warri­ [...]y in this, let him not give himself to Pride and Luxury and Voluptuousness, but let him Exercise himself to Godliness, and keep that charge which the Apostle gives, and which he commands all Pastours of the Church to give them that are Rich in this World, that they be not high minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate, laying up in store for [Page 98] themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life; 1. Tim. 6. 17. Remember that thou art no more then a Steward, of what more then sufficiently serves thy self, and that thou must be accountable for it to him who trust­eth thee with it, not that it mightly idlely by the, or that thou mightest abuse it to the Maintenance of Impiety and Profaneness; But he gave it thee that thou mightest there­by shew thy Wisdom, manifest thy Ver­tue, glorifie his Name, and profite Man­kind; and especially to distribute to the Necessities of those that want. We mistake it very much if we think GOD is so fond upon one sort of men more then another; that he giveth in abundance to the one for to feed, and Pamper their Lusts to the full, and is content in the mean time that others starve; no certainly, GOD can be accused of no such partiality; but as His Wisdom hath not thought fit to make an equal Distribution of this Worlds Wealth among Men, so the Reason why he hath given to one, and withholden from another, is▪ that the one might learn the Vertue of Patience, and the other exercise Charity, and that by such mutuall Giving and Receiving, Love▪ Unity and Concord may be preserved, and kept up [Page 99] in the World. Quando Dominus Pauperem facit, Divites probat, saith the Father, when GOD maketh one Poor, it is to try the Rich, 'tis to put them to a proof of their love to Him, and of their Kindness to their Brethren. He therefore who keeps all to himself, or imploies it only for his own proper use, is an unjust Steward, and doth pervert GOD'S Design in giving it him. Non solum Avarus est qui rapit aliena▪ sed ille Avarus est qui cupide servat sua, that is, He is not only Covetous and Unjust who robbeth others, but he also who basely keeps his own, without Communicating to others; who eateth his morsals alone, as Iob speaks, without calling the Stranger and Needy to share with him. There is no evil in Rich Mens eating the Fat, and Drinking the Sweet, providing they send portions to them, for whom nothing is prepared: But if this be omitted they abuse the good Creatures of GOD committed to their Custody, and are as unjust as that Steward, who feeds high­ly himself, but lets his Fellow Servants starve. He only is a Wise and Faithful Steward, who is Liberal and Charitable of those Goods which GOD hath given him, who feeds the hungry, cloaths the naked, visits the Si [...]k; and such as are in prison, and Ad­ministers to them. And as by a Wise and [Page 100] Charitable Distribution of the Mammon of Unrighteousness, he purchaseth to himself Love and a Vertuous Commendation in this World, so he maketh to himself Friends that never die; but who, when he removeth hence, will recive him into their everlasting Ha­bitations? Luke 16. 9. We will not insist farther on this Point at present, because we will have occasion to Discourse thereon af­terwards in the Second Part; And therefore we shall now conclude with those words of our Saviour, often used, He that hath ears to hear let him hear; He that is concerned let him remember and take notice of this and do in like manner, that it may be well with him, that he may escape the Danger of Riches, and not through them make Ship­wrack of his Salvation: But notwithstanding of these Impediments and Difficulties which they throw in his way, he may obtain a safe Arrival into that Heavenly Canaan which is above.

CHAP. V. Of the end which Jacob proposed to himself in th [...]se Requests. His Condition here a fit Em­bleme to represent the Present State of Mankind; All Men considered as Pilgrims and Sojourners both in a Literal and Moral Sense. The Patri­archs lived in expectation of a Future State; The certaintie of this State held forth, and some account thereof given. The Conclusion of this first part.

THE last Particular to be taken notice of in this Part of Iacob's Vow, is the end which he proposed to himself, in asking those things from GOD, viz. that he might come back to his Father's house in peace; And hereby the Reasonable­ness and Equitie of his Requests will far­ther appear; he was at this time going a Pilgrimage, travelling a to Forreigne Countrey, where he intended not to take up a constant Residence, whatever he might meet with: he resolved only to Sojourne for sometime, and then to return to his Fa­ther's house, the place of his Birth and Edu­cation.

[Page 102]He Designed to take up his rest and settled Abode, no other where then his Father's house, and this Land of Promise he preferred to Kingdoms, and the best Inheri­tance else-where. And therefore it was that he now asked no more then what was Sutable, and Necessarie to his Present State, and Condition of a Pilgrim, and Traveller.

The present Condition of this Patriarch, is a fit and proper Embleme to hold forth the Nature and Qualitie of Man's Life, while in this World; for what Iacob was at this time, all Men may be said to be, during their abode upon Earth. This same Iacob when he appeared before Pharaoh in Egypt, calls his whole Life A Pilgrimage, without respecting this particular Journey which he made to Mesopotamia; And he sayes the same of the Life of his Fathers, The dayes, [...]aith he, of the years of my Pilgri­mage, are an hundred and thirty years; few and evil have the dayes of the years of my life been, And have not attained unto the dayes of the years of the life of my Fathers, in the dayes of their Pil­grimage; Gen: 47: 9: David also saith the same, Psal. 39. 12. I am a stranger with thee, and a Sojourner as all my Fathers were; And again, he saith plainly, I am a stranger [Page 103] in the earth, Psal. 119. 19. And indeed all men while they are upon Earth, are to be considered only as Strangers and Sojourners. Our very Life here is nothing else but a Pil­grimage, and that both in a Literal and Moral Sense. It holds even for the most part true Literally, for there is no settled Condition here: like Travellers we are still in a continuall motion, flitting up and down; what do we else but traverse the World, and go from one place to another? He is truely a singular person who hath never been from his Mothers knee, nor seen any other place then that of his Birth, nor conversed with any other Men then his particular Friends and Relations, and those he was Born and Bred amongst. The secret Provi­dence of GOD, the pursuing our Callings, the desire of a Livelyhood and Subsistance, the seeking out greater Peace and Security, drive us with Iacob from our Father's house. We are hereby often constrained to a wan­dring Course of Life, which exposes us also to Wind and Weather, and all the Incom­modites which Travellers meet with: Men cannot almost by any Means, or the great­est Foresight, secure to themselves a fixed Sta­ [...]ion in this World, but are either by their [...]hoice willingly, or through necessity chang­ing [Page 104] their Habitations and Imployments. When we think our selves most secure, and are building to our selves Houses and Ta­bernacles of Residence, hoping that here we shall fix and settle, behold, presently some thing or other occurs which defeats our Design, and alters our Purpose, and constrains us to make Tryal of some State and Condition we little thought upon. And thus all Men almost from their own Experience, may say, that their Life and Condition he [...]e is like that of a Traveller and Pilgrime.

But however true it hold in a Literal sense, it is alwayes Morally true, that Man while upon Earth is but a Sojourner and Stranger whatever be his Lot and Portion. For first, GOD hath not intended us a Sure and Last­ing Abode here, he hath resolved not to suffer us to make any long or considerable stay on the Earth, he designs only that we should take a short view of things, take a turn or two and then remove hence. Man's Life here is but of few dayes, even those who attain to the greatest number of years, their life if compared to Eter­nity, is but a span-long; and seeing that thus we have but so short and so uncertain Pos­session of this World, our stay therein can­not [Page 105] be counted other, then a Sojourning. It cannot be said properly that we dwell here, but only that we lodge; For we are not true Inhabitants, but only way-faring Men, who take a Nights Lodging and afterwards are gone. We can call no place here our Home, we never go Home till we descend into the Grave, and pass over into the other World; that is our Home, because there is no chang­ing of it, nor flitting from it.

Secondly, As we are to account our selves Sojourners, because our Life is short, so Strangers, because of the want of an agree­able Habitation. All Creatures have a proper Element, whither also their Natural Propensitie inclines them; that is the Proper and Natural Element of any Beeing which is suitable to its Nature and Quality, and where it finds Rest and Ease; but on the contrary, that is Improper and Unnatural which agrees not with its Disposition, and where it lives with Difficultie, and in much pain. Thus the Air is an improper Ele­ment for Fishes, as the Water for Fowls, and Terrestrial Creatures; and consequent­ly this World is not the proper place and habitation of Spirits, and Rational Beings: And therefore also not of Men, seeing we are of this Order by our better part. The [Page 106] Creatures to be met with here below, are not capable of Converse with us; and all the Delights and Enjoyments here can only gra­tifie the Body, and be profitable for chear­ing those frail Tabernacles we carry about with us; But 'tis little service they can do the Soul, and therefore however proper these lower Re­gions may be for Bodies, yet certainly our Souls soar higher, and aspire after a Happi­ness beyond what is to be found here. Wherefore whiles we are upon Earth, we may be truely called Exiles, and said to suffer Banishment, for Heaven only is our Na­tive S [...]yle, it is in yonder Regions above that we can only expect to find a sutable Habitation and abode. The very Heathens had this Sentiment, they accounted their Stay here a perfect banishment, and esteemed the Body the Prison, which detained the Soul from its Native Countrey. So Anexagoras being asked, whither he had any Care or Concernments for his Countrey; because he troubled not himself with the Publick Affairs and Transactions. His an­swer was, GOD forbid that it should be other­wise, indeed my mind is greatly towards my Coun­trey, pointing with his finger to Heaven. That is a Man's Home where his Friends and Re­lations live, where his Wealth and Estate, and the Possessions wherein his Happiness [Page 107] lyes are reserved, & where his Heart and Af­fections are placed; And so Heaven is and should be only our Home. Thither should we aim, for our Souls are descended thence, there GOD our Father liveth, and IESUS CHRIST our elder Brother; and Angels and Seraphims, and the Spirits of just Men made perfect; our Friends and Companions, and Fellow-Citizens; and there be the Treasures of our Happiness: That Good which our Souls crave and seek after is shut up there, and no where else. This World affords no perfect Contentment, or true solid Happi­ness: All we can expect here is some little Refreshing to keep us from Fainting and Languishing. This World is an Inne, too nar­row and scanty for to give Satisfactorie ease and fulness; this is only to be looked for when we come to our Fathers house, where there are many Mansions, and all Richly and well Furnished; In his Presence, there is fulness of joy, and at his Right Hand there are Rivers of Pleasures for evermore; Psal. 16. 11.

This Earthly Canaan which was here pro­mised to Iacob, was a type of Heaven, and given as a Pledge thereof: It is not to be doubted▪ but that the Patriarch had a prospect beyond the Land wherein he was, though it was the pleasantest upon Earth, he had [Page 108] already tasted these Delights which Canaan upon Earth afforded: and albeit they were good enough of their kind, yet he could not but be sensible, that they were far short of of satisfying the Appetite of the Soul: And that therefore there was something to be de­sired, more then what is to be found even in the best Countrey here. Iacob had cer­tainly the best and most vertuous Education of any in the World, he was preserved from Vice and Immorality, which render Men brutish, and so enfeeble their Minds, that they can Dream of nothing but what savours of the Flesh; he was early taught all Natural Wisdom and Knowledge, and In­structed also in things which Natural light could not reach to: And therefore he cer­tainly knew, and was persawded that there was something within him besides Flesh and Bones; even a Divine Soul capable of, and designed for a more noble kind of Life, then what Man enjoyes at present: Because the Promises made to the Patriarchs expressed in Scripture are Temporal, we must not from thence con­clude, that they had no other, Spiritual & Eternal Blessings were Vailed under these, and might perhaps also be Promised a part, though they be not particularly mentioned▪ No doubt more was Revealed to them then [Page 109] what we have an account of, but what is written was only necessarie to be known to us for the pointing out of the Messias. It is very unreason­able to think, that they who were so Dearly Beloved of GOD, Honoured with many Particular Revelations, and whose Wisdom and Vertue was more then Ordinary, I say it is unreasonable to think that they were left ignorant of a future state. Such a thought is injurious to the Love of GOD, and also in­consistent with that Character they deserve; as questionless they had a Curiosity to know, whither there was another better life hereafter. So GOD would not refuse to satisfie the same, it being very Laudable and very Necessary for the directing of their Life and composing their minds in Peace, It is but small Comfort and Satisfaction, the Patriarchs can be supposed to have had, in the Promises that were made them; if we take away the Hopes and Expectation of another Life: For the Promises did more concern their Posterity then themselves; And as for the Favours presently conferred, the pleasure thereof could not but be very much marred with the thoughts of their Death. Nay, the more Good they Enjoyed, the more they would be Troubled, when they reflected upon their Mortality; And they [Page 110] could not but frequently reflect thereon, seeing every where Instances thereof are to be met with. Death damps a Man's Spirit, and Imbitters his Life; The greater matter of Contentment one hath at present, the greater will be his Disquiet when he thinks he will die: Unless he believe his death will be followed with a long and better Life. It is the Wretched and Miserable, who de­sire death, or think upon it without Re­grate: Others cannot think upon it with­out sadness, if they have not the Comfort which ariseth from the Assurance of after Happiness. O death, saith the Son of Sirach, how bitter is the Remembrance of thee to a Man that liveth at rest in his Possessions, And to the Man that hath nothing to vex him, and that hath Prosperity in all things, Yea, unto him that is yet able to receive Meat; Eccles. 41: 1, 2. If then the Patriarchs had been ignorant of a Future State, and without the Hopes of it, their Life would have been very Miserable; And the Singular Blessings GOD bestowed on them, would have but tended to increase their misery. But that another better State was made known to them, and that they lived in the expectation of it, is plainly in­timat to us by St. Paul Heb. 11. 13. &c where he saith, these all died in Faith, not hav­ing [Page 111] received the Promises, but having seen them a far off, and were perswaded of them, and Embraced them, and Confessed that they were Strangers and Pilgrims on the Earth, for they that say such things, Declare plainly that they seek a Countrey; And truly if they had been mindful of that Countrey from whence they came out, they might have had Opportunity to have returned but now they desire a better Countrey, that is an Heavenly. Therefore GOD is not ashamed to be called their GOD, for He hath prepared for them a City. And a little before he tells us parti­cularlie of Abraham that he looked for a City which hath foundations, whose Maker and Builder is GOD. Which he could not look for in this World, and therefore certainly he expected it in that which is to come.

If we break off the Fetters of Lusts, and Disintangle our selves from Carnal and Worldly interests, and allow our Souls but any measure of Rational Wisdom; As then our Desires would soon take Wing and flee above Sublunarie Enjoyments, so our Minds would be easily inclined to believe another better State to succeed this: For without this Supposition, Man is the strangest and most Puzling Phenomena, the most Un­accountable thing in Nature, a Beeing patcht up of Irregularities & Contradictions: For by [Page 112] Nature he is capable of Immortality, and yet as to his Duration but an Ephemera, of so short a Life, that he bends to die almost as soon as he begins to live; He is capable of the highest Perfection, and fitted for the Noblest Imployments, and yet i [...] we do not suppose another Life, he hath nothing else to do, except to eat and drink, and serve the mean ends of an Animal Life; which the brute Beasts attain to with much less toil and trouble. Thus He who is the Chiefest of all the Creatures we see, and seems to be de­sign'd Lord of them, would be in the worst Condition of any; Because never attaining the End and Perfection his Nature is capable of, neither receiving the Satisfaction of his most Reasonable, which is the most Man­like desires. If there were not an after-State preferrable to this, Man would not be the Ornament of the Creation, but rather its Deformity; And would afford some ground of Impeaching the Divine Wisdom and Goodness, as if either the Contrivance had been marr'd, or the Design of Creating him cruel, in that he is indued with Ca­pacities never to be Perfected, and with Desires and Appetites which cannot receive Satisfaction. Hence it would follow that GOD is kinder to the Beasts then to Man; [Page 113] And that he is the happiest Man who least useth his Reason and Understanding, that is, that layeth aside that which maketh him Man, and endeavours to be as the Beasts who perish. Then they should be in the worst case, of all others the most Miserable who Love and Fear and Serve GOD most, and are most Careful to Please Him. These and a great many moe Absurdities would follow the Negation of a Future State, which cannot be admitted, unless we deny a Providence altogether, and ascribe all things to blind Chance. And indeed the Immortali­tie of our Souls seems to follow so necessarly from a belief of a Deitie, that there have been very few who doubted of that, without cal­ling this in Question too.

But though those things may incline us to the belief of a Future happy State, yet they do not certainly assure us thereof; They are great and strong Presumptions indeed, but no certain Demonstrations: Because it might be alledged that these Absurdities are rather the Consequence of our Ignorance, which cannot understand better, then of that sup­posed state of Man; And that we cannot conclude any thing to be, because that other­wayes we are unable to Salve and Vindicat the Wisdom of GOD: For how do we [Page 114] know what is Consistant or Inconsistant with Infinite Wisdom? Many things may be agreeable thereto which we cannot find out. The undoubted certainty therefore of an after happy State, can only be drawn from the Gospel of IESUS CHRIST; He hath brought Life and Immortality to Light, 2 Tim. 1: 10. He hath put this matter clearly out of doubt, so that it needs no longer be Disputed as an uncertain Probleme. IESUS CHRIST by his plain Assertions, and ex­press Promises, and his own Resurrection, hath Demonstrate to the World that there is another Life to succeed this: So that no­thing but Perversness and Obstinacy can make Men call it in Question. He that will not be Convinced with this Evidence which the Gospel giveth, is proofe against all Evidence, and it is impossible to Con­vince him; He who will not believe Moses and the Prophets, CHRIST and the Apostles, will not believe though One should rise from the dead.

And as it is the Gospel which doth only ascertain us of a Future state, so it is from it only that we may learn any true account of the nature and qualities thereof. This is a thing not so easie to be guessed at as the other. If any should offer to describe the [Page 115] State of a Countrey which they had never seen, neither hath any true Idea of, this description would be but bad and far from exactness: Now Heaven doth infinitlie transcend the best state in this World, and is of a quite different nature, so that our conceptions could not reach it, unless it were revealed. The Heathens who had not this true light to direct them, enter­tained wild and extravagant fancies about the nature of that Life which is to succeed this: But yet they were not so gross and absurd as Mahomet, who set aside the light of the Gospel, and followed his own dreams, which have suggested an odd kind of Para­dise, and such Monstruous Pleasures there, as can relish with none but beastlie and bru­tish Persons: for others certainly cannot but despise them, and be so far from count­ing such enjoyments of happiness, that they will certainly reckon it the greatest misery to be tyed to them eternally. Some of that False Prophets followers, are so ashamed of this account he gives of Mens happiness in the other World, that they study to put a fair construction thereupon, by interpre­ting the same allegorically: But though this should be admitted, it will not excuse; for such Similitudes should have been shun­ed, [Page 116] which can only serve to beget in Mens minds base and low thoughts of that Blessed Life, and which are so far from engaging men to purifie themselves here in order to it; that they rather foster an perswasion, that none are fitted and disposed for it, but impure and unclean persons; seeing it is represented by the exercise of impuritie and the grossest sensualities. It is true, the Gospel makes use of Earthly comparisons, in holding forth the Ioyes and excellency of Hea­ven; Because otherwayes it is impossible to convey to our minds any apprehension thereof: for as Children must be taught in Childish terms, so men cannot be instruct­ed in things so sublime, and so far above the reach of their understandings, but by using expressions and Similitudes familiar to them though not so just and adequat in themselves. But though the Scripture when it speaks of Heaven, adapts it self to the weakness of our apprehensions, yet at the same time it guards sufficiently against all low and sordid thoughts: for both the Me­taphors used are choise and cleanlie, and the manner of handling them such, as gives us to Understand, that we are not to take them Literally. The glory of the other Life it set forth by Growns, and Scepters, and Ban­quetings [Page 117] and Rivers of Pleasures; But we are allo abundantly cautioned against the ex­pectation of carnal gratifications; for these cannot be look'd for there, where the state of things makes them no wayes desirable, but altogether unnecessarie; for then men live not an Animal Life, but a life Sublimely Spiritual.

All the circumstances and particularities of the Life to come are not revealed, neither are we yet capable to know them. At pre­sent our faculties are not fitted to discern the pleasures and enjoyments above; even though they were laid out before us, we could no more take them up then a blind Man colours, or the Infant in the Womb, the Chearfulness of this lightsome World, or a Child the strong contents of riper Age. When St paul was caught up into Paradise he was so transported besides himself, that he knew not well whither he was in the body, or out of the body; And what he saw and heard there, he tells us is unspeakable, and not possible to be uttered; 2 Cor. 12. 4. Untill the tem­per and Disposition both of body and mind be changed and Spiritualized, we can nei­ther enjoy that Life above, nor yet fully understand the Pleasures and satisfactions thereof.

[Page 118]But that all possible Felicity, will both be then bestowed, and there also enjoyed, is not only expresly promised, but this we may very well conclude from what is re­vealed. For first, that State above, hath no­thing troublesome or uneasie in it. It is not like this World lyable to rough Wea­ther, severe Storms, or excessive heats, which occasion fainting; nor doth there e­ver fall out any sad disaster or calamitie to discompose the minds of the Inhabitants. There be some Mountains, as Tenariff, which surmount the Clouds, and it is said the Air about the top of them is alwayes so calm, that the smallest Sand or Dust will remain unblown away, and in the same manner it was first laid down, which may be no unfitt Emblem of the Tranquillitie of Heaven: It is the Fate only of these Sub­lunarie Countreys; to be infested with Fogs and Mists, with Wind and Rain; such is the constitution of this World, that the pleasures here are marr'd and allay'd, by some or other disgustfull inconvenience which always attend them: but the Hea­venly Regions are ever Clear and Serene, there is a perpetuall Calm there, and a constant Freedom from all sort of Distur­bances. They, who are there, saith St. Iohn, shall hunger no more, neither thirst any [Page 119] more, neither shall the Sun light on them, nor any heat: For the Lamb which is in the midst of the Throne, shall feed them, and shall lead them unto Living fountains of Waters, and GOD shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. And thereshall be no more death; neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away, Rev. 7. 17. 21. 4.

Secondly not only what Disquiets our present Life, and holds us in continuall Vexation, is for ever thrust out of Heaven: but also the Beautie and Ornaments of this World, are laid aside as Imperfections and Unnecessarie things; and what is infinitlie more glorious, take places in stead of them. The Sun is the Beautie of this lower World, and how disconsolat would our Condition be without the light thereof▪ But so glorious is the State above, and so excellent▪, that the Sun it self, and its Light would be but a Blemish there: for St: Iohn tells us, that the Heavenly Ierusalem had no need of the Sun, neither of the Moon to shine in it, for the Glory of GOD did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof; and again, there shal be no night there, and they need no candel, neither light of the Sun: for the LORD GOD giveth them light, Rev. 21. 23. and 22. 5. All Kings and [Page 120] Princes, Study to have their Courts answer­able to their Magnificence and Dignitie; The Palaces of Kings are alwayes Seated in the best part of their Kingdoms, and thither are brought the Chief delights which their Countreys can afford: How Glorious and Magnificent then must Heaven be, which is the Palace of the great King, the Peculiar habitation of GOD himself? if he hath so Beautified this World, and Replenished it with such variety, when it is only the lower apartment of beasts; or at the best but a transient quarter for Man, What do we think will that be, and how sumptuously Enriched, which he hath design'd to be his own everlasting abode, and the Habitation of those peculiar ones whom he hath set his love upon, and with whom he hath deter­mined to remain for ever? There cer­tainly GOD will display Himself, and His Glory, and will give Admi­rable Manifestations of his Wisdom; Power Goodness, and other Perfections; beyond what either eye hath seen, or eare heard, or what can enter into the heart of Man.

T [...]irdly, The excellent company which are in Heaven is no small Addition to the Hap­piness thereof; They are Persons far from Malice and Envy, from intertaining Sus­picions [Page 121] and Animosities, or from being ready to fall out in jars and contests: But as they are Enriched with the best Endow­ments, so they are Acted with the largest Charity and Good-will; loving each other intirely, and intertaining one another with all the Indearing expressions of Friendship. Of all pleasures, Friendship and the society of Excellent Persons is the greatest; it affects the mind most, and fills the Heart with the greatest Measure of Joy and Gladness: what Delight and Satisfaction then, may be expected in the Society of Angels and Arch-Angels, Cherubims and Seraphims, and the Spirits of just Men made perfect?

But fourthly, in the other life we shall find our selves, not only in a far better State as to Externals but shall also feel great and Glorious Changes in our selves. For first, we shall not be tyed to the necessity, of Eat­ing and Drinking and Sleeping, in which mean exercises, the one half of our time is consumed; there we shall not be cloged and fettered to a crazy, infirm, and sickly Body as now, for then this Corruptible shall put on Incorruption, and this Mortal, Immortality. And CHRIST IESUS shall change this vile Body, that it may be fashioned like unto his Glorious Body, according to the working whereby He is able to subdue all [Page 122] things to himself; 1 Cor. 15. Phil. 3. 21. There shall be a vast Change in the [...]rame and Constitution of our Body: For there shall be given to it, Glory and Power, and Splendor, and some other Subtile and Ex­cellent Qualities, so far above the common Nature of Bodies, that the Apostle thought fit to term it a Spiritual Body. Secondly, As such Glorious Changes are to be wrought upon our Bodies, so the like shall be done to our Souls; the Body is thus changed in­to the better, because the Soul is also made more perfect: these excellent Endowments are bestowed upon the Body, because the Perfection and Dignity to which the Soul is now raised, require that it should be solodg­ed; For being our inward Faculties are much better then Formerly, the outward Organs and Instruments of Action should be better too. Now our Souls shall not only be de­livered from Ignorance and Errour, and all the Disorders which sin hath involv'd them into, but shall also have all their Fa­culties rectified, and elevat to the outmost hight of Perfection, of which Creatures are capable. Truth shall not then be vail'd with Absurdity, nor shall we be oblidged to seek the Knowledge thereof; by such tedi­ous and uncertain inquiries as now we are [Page 123] necessitate to: But shall be endowed with all desirable Wisdom; Now sayes the Apostle, We see through a Glass darkly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then shall I know as also I am known; 1 Cor. 13. 12. And to make our Souls compleatly perfect, there shall be added unspotted Puritie and Holi­ness, and a participation of the Divine Na­ture. Beloved, saith St. Iohn, now are we the Sons of GOD; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is, 1 Iohn 3. 2. The Image of GOD, shall be renewed upon our Souls, and that more clearly and brighty then it was at our first Creation; the Divine Perfections shall be transcribed upon us, and thereby we shall be brought into a near and inconceivable Union with GOD. And now seeing this doth appear, what needs more? Here we may well stay our Thoughts, for indeed there is no climbing higher; GOD is Per­fection it self, and the Fountain of all Hap­piness, he therefore must needs be most Happy, who is like GOD and United to him. It is simply impossible to conceive greater Happiness and Satisfaction, then this Enjoyment of GOD and likeness to him. David doubted not of receiving Satisfaction from this, when he said, As for me I will be­hold [Page 114] thy Face in righteousness, I shall be satisfied when I awake with thy likeness; Psal. 17. 15.

This is true Felieity, and should be aspired after, 'tis a shame for any Man to sit down lower, or to content himself with less De­grees of Happiness, seeing GOD is willing to bestow this upon him. The obtaining Heaven and Eternal Life should be our main Project, and the great Design we should be alwayes dryving on, nothing should divert [...]us from this; but all our Endeavours should be to further it on: And our Prayers to GOD should be chiefly, that he would be pleased to favour this aim of ours, and not suffer us to miscarry. Some whom Worldly Love and Carnal Affections have seized and enslaved, may with Reuben and Gad wish to have their Tabernacles set up this side Iordan: And providing they could get their Portion in this Life, would never seek after the Land of Promise: But such certainly Act contrary to Reason, and unbecoming the Dignity of their Natures, They must put off the Man very much who intend no higher Pleasures then what are Bodily, and arise from the Enjoyment of Earthly things; Which though gluted to the full, can never satisfie the Soul. As all Mens Experience do testifie. As Noahs Dove found [Page 125] no rest untill she returned to the Ark; So neither can the Soul of Man have any solide content until it ascend into the holy hill of GOD; and rest in the bosom of him from whom it had its being.

And as Man's true Felicity lyes not in this, but in the other World, so the chief Satis­faction which we can have at present, flowes from the sure and well grounded Hopes of that after Happiness; even as the greatest content of a Merchant while he is Traf­ficking abroad, is in the Expectation of the Gain he will make when he comes home: And as the chiefest delight of an Heir while he is Minor, is in his hopes of succeeding to his Father's Honour and Fortune when he arrives at full Age. Here we are as it were, in the Quality and Condition of Minors, and therefore have no Reason to grudge though we be not put actually in the Possession of full Happiness. We may be very well sa­tisfied for the present, that the same is sure­ly reserved to us, and waiting upon us till that we be ripe for it; Blessed be the GOD and Father of our Lord IESUS CHRIST, which according to his abundant Mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope, by the resurrection of IE­SUS CHRIST from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not [Page 126] away, reserved in Heaven for us; 1 Pet. 1. 3, 4.

The Design of this present Treatise is to direct to true Felicity, which as it is of great Importance to be known; so we judge we have made some plain Proposals, which may sufficiently instruct those who are de­sirous to know, if they be also unbyassed. The sum of all this is, that true Happiness consists in the Enjoyments of GOD; for in him only is to be found what may satisfie all our Desires: All the Creatures are but finite things, and consequently their use is Limited and Restrained to some few Parti­culars; they can neither remedy all evils, nor procure every thing Good and Desir­able. The Sun gives Light, but doth not nourish; Meat nourisheth, but doth not Warm; Cloaths they warm us, but can­not recover our Health; Physick may do that, but cannot protect us from Dangers; and therefore we should be little the better, for the Enjoyment of one or a few of these Temporary Goods, unless we had all: and even though all were enjoyed, our Souls would crave some Satisfaction beyond what they could afford. The way to be Happy then, is not to seek to amass Wealth and Honour, and the other things of this World: the best and surest way is to seek [Page 127] GOD and make Him our Friend, for in him we shall find whatsoever is ne­cessary, He is infinite in himself, and the inexhaustable fountain of all Good, and there is in him what may serve all our necessities, and satisfie our Desires. And as he is our Summum bonum, our Chief good; so he is most readie and willing to Communicat himself to us: If we Labour to Please Him, and to approve our selves to him, he will befriend us as much as is requisite to our present Condition here, and hereafter when we are rendred capable thereof, he will Bless us with the full Enjoyment of Him­self, whereby we shall be possessed of the most Perfect Felicity.

Perfect Felicity is not to be met with in this World, in vain do men look for it, it is reserved till the next Life: All the Hap­piness which here we can enjoy, consists in the hope of that perfect Happiness which is to come, and in having fair Opportunities to secure it, together with the competent Supplie of our present bodily necessities. He then who would be truly Happy, let him make GOD and Heaven his great aim; for this will certainly lead to that Compleat and unspeakable Felicity of the other World; And in the mean time will procure him [Page 128] all the Satisfaction desirable in this. If we were so wise as to propose this to our selves, our Life would not be so uneasie and troublesome as ordinarly it is: but we should enjoy a great deal of Tranquillity and Peace. For hereby we should be pre­served from immoderat cares, discontentedness, and impatience, which so much disturb our Minds, and are the only hinderances of our present Felicity. First, he who placeth his Happiness in GOD, and sincerely pursu­eth Eternal Life, needs not vex himself with cares about the things of this Life: but may cast all his care upon GOD, who will un­doubtedly sustain him; and who hath promis­ed, that if we seek first the Kingdom of GOD, and his righteousness, all these things shall be added unto us. Matth. 6. 33. Secondly, this will bring our Minds to be contented, with Moderat and Competent Supplies, by taking off our thoughts from Wealth and Greatness and Honour, &c. Having food and Raiment, saith the Apostle, let us be there­with content: And good reason, seing it is all that Travellers stand in need of. All that is requisite to one in a Journey, is his Viaticum, convenient Dyet, Cloathing, and Lodging, and a safe and Peaceable Passage: Other things would but retard the Jour­ney, [Page 129] and render it less easie and safe.. Thirdly, this would free us from impatience the last Enemy of our Peace, and would make us bear trouble and Receive Disast­ers with a Serene composed Spirit; Consi­dering that our time here is but short, and soon at an end, and that when we come Home to our Father's house, we shall have all things to our Mind, and shall soon be made to forget our Toil and Travel. No Wise Man who sets out upon a Journey will fret and be dejected because the Weather is not alwayes Fair, and the way smooth, and that he finds not every where as good Accomodation, as at Home. While Men are Travellers in forreign Countreys, they must resolve upon Hardships and in­conveniencies: And we have this great en­couragement, to Patience and Cheerfulness even in the midst of Troubles, that no Trouble or Calamitie can defeat our De­signs, if we be but stedfast to them; If we keep our Hearts fixt upon GOD, and con­stant to the prosecution of Eternal Life, we shall certainly arrive there, what ever wea­ther it blow, and whatever Opposition we meet with. It is impossible for either Men or Devils, to separate us from GOD, or to keep us out of Heaven, if we continue sincere [Page 130] in our Love, and Endeavours.

And now that we may draw to a Conclu­sion, as what hath been said sheweth where our true Felicity lyes, So it discovereth the Wretched Folly of the greatest part of Mankind; Who though they all desire Happiness, yet miss it: Because they [...]eek it not where it is, but place the same in some vain empty Enjoyments. It is sad, to be­hold how Wild and Extravagant Men are in their Aims and Proposals, how hotly they pursue Toyes and Trifles and very means Things? and in the mean time, how careless they are of what they should most mind, viz. GOD and their eternal Interest. All are sensible that they cannot live here for ever; Its evident and visible unto them, that Nill they, Will they, they must be gone out of this World: And yet very few, are so wise as to endeavour that it may be well with them, when they remove hence. Their Thoughts for the most part are about the present World, and the things thereof, as if they were never to leave them; Cer­tainly though they could brook them al­wayes, they could not intend them more earnestly, or be more busie about them. Some being dazled with the Splendour and Glistering of Riches, labour for them with [Page 131] all their Might, others grasp at Power and Command, as if that were some Fine or Happy thing; some study to be accounted wise and and Learned, some would raise themselves a Name, And desire to be the talk and Discourse of the World, every one has his Different aim and design which he followeth, trahit sua quemque voluptas; And that they may compass these their se­veral Aims, They are still holding them­selves and others in continuall Vexation and Trouble, and do fill the World full of Jarres and Contests. Now this behaviour of of Men is most Unreasonable and Unac­countable, seing our Dayes are so few and that we are of so short continuance in this World; these things might be somewhat excusable if we were to live here for ever; but seing that cannot be, seing by the Eter­nal Decree of GOD, we are only appoint­ed to Lodge here for a short time, how vain and foolish is it to make a great dale adoe about that which is neither necessary to our Present Peace and Comfort, nor yet to our Future Happiness; It is just as if a Travel­ler coming to an Inne, where he were to stay but for a Night, and finding it but Poor and Mean and ill Accommodat, should pre­sently send for Masons, Carpenters and [Page 132] Painters to repair and beautifie it: Or as one upon his Arrival to any great City, should presently aspire to the highest Dignity and Preferment in it: And raise Stirs and Facti­ons for that end, when he knew assuredly that he must leave it the next day. If by such Impertinencies Men did only disturb their Present Peace and Quiet, the matter were yet the less, though even here their Loss would exceed their Gain, suppose they should obtain their Desire? But alas the great concerns of another World are often put in hazard thereby! Their Souls for the most part perish in these Attempts, and by their Eagernesse to have those vain and short Enjoyments of this present Life, they often keep themselves from receiving the Satisfactory and Eternal possessions above. O that men were wise, O that they understood this, that they would consider their Latter end! O that they were so Wise, and Happy, as not to enterprise or engage themselves into any Pursute: untill they first Weighed and Examined the importance thereof, whither the Fruit and Event would recompense the Pains and Labour! O that they would but put that Question often home to them­selves, What is a man profited if he should gain [Page 133] the whole World, and loss his own Soul? And what will a man give in exchange for his Soul? Matth. 16. 26. What a Madness and Un­excuseable Folly is it to be much concern­ed for a Transitory Life, and little for Eternity? To take much thought for things which perish, and which we must shortly leave, and to mind little or to seek with indiffe­rency that which endureth for ever? Here saith the Apostle, we have no continuing City, but we seek one to come; Heb. 13. 14. Our Heads and our Hearts, should be still towards Heaven, the recovery of that Countrey above, for which we were first designed, and to which we Naturally belong; this I say, should be our chief Aim and main Project; All other things in comparison to this are but idle Fancies, and building Castles in the Air; He that doth not so live as that he may be received into Glory when he dies, he hath lived to very little purpose; He deserves the Tom [...] and Epitaph of that Luxurious and Useless Emperour Sardana­palus, in which there was drawn two Fin­gers, and sounding one upon another with these words, NONTANTI EST, that is, all is not worth the while. Men are seldom wise till it be out of time, but sure if they did but consult their own Experience, they shold be more sen­sible [Page] of the Folly of many of their Designs and Enterprises; And if we did ask the greatest Warriour and Conquerour in the World, he that had been the most Succes­full in his Aims to be Rich, and Great, and Honourable, when he were departing hence, what pleasure or profit he received thereby? He would no doubt give us Solomon's Verdict, All is vanity and vexation of Spirit, the Pro­secution of them produceth Vexation, the Enjoyment proveth Vanity, and the Re­flection makes them tristes ineptiae, soure and sad trifles, and they carry little away with them, besides the Memory of being so ill imployed.

What hast thou by thy happiest project gain'd,
But thou repent'st thy pains, and wish obtain'd.

This Saladine that great Sultan of Egypt, loudly proclaimed to the World, when he discharged all Funerall Solemnities, and or­dered only a Black shirt, in which when dead he was to be wrapt, to be carried through the Camp on a Lance, and one to cry before it, This is all which Saladine the Emperour receives of his great Wealth, and vast Empire. Which Bocarius hath put into this dis [...]ich;

Vixi Divitijs regno tumidusque trophaeis,
Sed pannum heu nigrum nil nisi morte tuli.
With Riches, Power, and Trophees I did swell,
Now a Black-Shirt doth only with me dwell.

Death is a convincing proof of the Vani­tie of all Worldly things, it shews to how little purpose it is to Labour and contend so earnestly for them; for when that hour comes, they must be all thrown away, the use of them ceaseth. When a man dieth, saith the Psalmist, he shall carry nothing away, his Glory shall not descend after him; Psal: 49: 17: And though it should, yet in the other World Men do not take place as in this, according to their Birth, Wealth and Grandeur, 'tis Vertue only and True Holiness, which makes a Man's way there. In the morning when they awake, it is the Up­right only which shall have dominion; And there­fore let Men reckon when they will, he is the most Happy who hath enjoyed the greatest Quietness and Peace, tho it should not be much attended with outward Pomp and Grandeur; And who when he is to leave this World, hath some good and well grounded Hopes of being admitted into that [Page 136] blessed State, where he shall enjoy GOD, and the Society of Angels, and Immortal Felicities.

Now that we may be all thus Happy, let us henceforth take off our Eyes from viewing the Vanities of this World, let us beware of being deceived with its gaudy al­lurements: But let us seek and endeavour seriously, to lead a quiet and peaceable life in all Godliness and Honesty. Let us as much as in us lyes, follow Peace with all Men, and prevent unnecessary and impertinent Strifes and Debates; That enjoying an outward Peace with others, we may be the more capable to maintain the inward Peace of our own Consciences, and a true Peace with our GOD: That when he hath served him­self of us in this World, he may thereafter receive us, to the enjoyment of himself, and of his endless Glory.

Seneca Thyest Act. 2.

Stet quicunque volet potens
Aulae culmine lubrico:
Me dulcis saturet quies;
Obscur [...] positus loco,
Leni perfruar otio;
Nullis nota Quiritibus
Aetas per tacitumfluat.
Sic cum tran [...]ierint mei
[Page 173]Nullo cum strepitu dies,
Plebeius moriar senex,
Illi mors gravis incubat,
Qui notus nimis omnibus,
Ignotus moritur sibi.
Let him that will ascend the tottering Seat
Of Courtly Grandeur, and become as great
As are his mounting wishes; as for me,
Let sweet repose, and rest my portion be.
Give me some mean obscure recess; a Sphere
Out of the road of business, or the fear
Of falling lower, where I sweetly may
My self, and dear Retirement still enjoy:
Let not my life, or name, be known unto
The Grandees of the times, tost to and fro
By censures, or applause; but let my age
Slide gently by, not overthwart the stage
Of publick action; unheard, unseen
And unconcern'd, as if I ne're had [...]een,
And thus while I shall pass my silent dayes
In shady privacy, free from the noise
And busles of the World, then shall I
A good old innocent Plebeian d [...]e.
Death is a meer surprise, a very snare,
To him that makes it his lifes greatest care
To be a publick Pageant, known to all,
But unacquainted with himself, doth fall.

The Character of a Happy Life.

How happy is he born and taught,
That serveth not anothers will?
Whose Armour is his honest thought:
And simple truth his outmost skill?
Whose passions not his masters are,
Whose Soul is still prepar'd for death;
Unty▪d unto the World, by care
Of publick Fame, or privat Breath.
Who envies none that Chance doth raise,
N [...]r Vice hath ever understood;
How deepest wounds are giv'n by praise,
Nor rules of State, but rules of Good.
Who hath his life from rumours freed.
Whose conscience is his strong retreat.
Whose state can neither flatterers feed,
Nor ruine make oppressours great.
Who GOD doth late and early pray,
More of his grace, then gifts to lend:
And entertains the harmless day
With a religious book, or friend.
This man is freed from servile bands
Of hope to rise, or fear to fall:
LORD of himself, though not of lands,
And having nothing; yet hath all.
The end of the first Part.


Chapter First. A short Review of the First Part. The Case pro­posed, how far it is Lawful to eye the Re­ward in our Resolutions of Obedience. The Resolution given in five Particulars, with an Application of all to Jacob here.

THere are two things to be consider­ed in every Vow, viz. What is Pro­mised, and what is desired, this last we have handled already, as to this Particu­lar Vow of Iacob's here; we have in the for­mer Discourse opened up the Nature of his Requests and shewed what he sought of GOD, and made it appear, that as he was Humble and Modest herein, in respect of [Page 140] GOD, so very Wise for himself things craved comprehending all that is Necessa­ry and Requisite to compleat ones Happiness in this present World, he who is accom­panied with the Favourable Presence of GOD, who is kept and protected by the Power of the Almighty, and who hath Food and Raiment, that is, what is Competent and Sufficient for the serving his Necessities, and the Maintenance of the Present State, he hath all that is desirable in this World; And therefore Iacob is a fit Patern to direct us how we should steer our course, and what we should Aim at, while in this World, and wherein the Happiness of this Present Life doth consist.

Having thus cleared and treated▪ of the Conditional part of this Vow; It followes next that we consider and speak to the Promissory part thereof, that we may see what the Patri­arch binds and oblidges himself to do to GOD, if so be he bestowed and granted these things to him.

But first, We will Answer and Resolve a Question which any may readily start here, and it is this, whither it be lawfull to take in conditionall Clauses in our Resolutions to serve GOD, or how far we may have a respect to our benefit in our Purposes of Obedience, for it would [Page 141] seem that Iacob's service here was a little Mercenary, that he made a formal Bargain with God, and that he resolved only to serve him upon condition he did such and such things to him, for he first asks, and then he promises. For answer to this, we shall first consider the Case in general, and then speak to what Iacob did here in particular.

And first, you must know that we owe to GOD all possible Service and Obedience, even ab­stracting from these External Rewards which he hath to bestow, and which we have good ground to expect from him. Indeed no Man doth or shall serve GOD for nought, they be-lye GOD, and speak falsly, who say, It is in vain to serve Him, and what profit is there in keeping his Ordinances; for he plentifully rewardeth such as seek him in sincerity and truth, and is most Liberal to all those who come unto him: but however there are other prior Obligations and strong tyes upon us to Obey and Please Him, so that although we had no Advantage▪ by serving the LORD, yet we could neither Reasonably complain of, nor decline His Service, for he is the Author of our Life and Beeing, we are his Crea­tures and the work of his hands; And there­fore he hath just Right and Power to com­mand us, and all the Service we are able to [Page 142] do, is small enough requital for what he hath already done to us; And he may just­ly call for it, though he should add no far­ther Favours. It is his own Bounty and Good­ness which makes him load us with his Be­nefits, there is no Obligation upon Him therefore, our Services do not, nor can they Merit any thing at GOD'S Hand, & though we should suppose them never so excep­table or Worthy, yet GOD is alwayes afore­hand with us, and we can never draw him in Arrears to us, for our very Life and Be­ing is more then sufficient payment for all that we are able to do.

Secondly, the chief Motive to the Service of GOD and the great Principal by which we should be acted in our Obedience, is that of love. God himself, and his glory, should be the chief end, which we propose to our selves, otherwise our Service is nei­ther Reasonable nor Acceptable. GOD is not like man, that he may be profited by us, our goodness, as the Psalmist sayeth, extend­eth not to thee; Psal. 16. 2. And how little will he value what is not done to him, but to another? Now though we be never so much taken up in the Acts of Religion and Vertue, yet that cannot be counted Homage and Worship payed unto GOD, unless we make [Page 143] him our last end; But it is service only pay­ed to that which we chiefly aim at, be it our selves and Riches, or Honour, or Pleasure, or whatever else we have the greatest re­gard to. That for which any thing is be­loved, is of it self more beloved, when David dealt kindly and lovingly with Me­phibosheth for Ionathan his Fathers sake, it is a certain Argument that he loved Ionathan more then Mephibosheth. He that loves a Man for Money, and for Meat, loves Mo­ney and Meat more then the Man, for these are the Causes and Ends wherefore he loves the Man; so he that serves GOD for any other End then GOD, he certainly loves that more then GOD. Now if we prefer any thing to GOD, we do not love him truly, nor will he regard us as upright be­fore him. He, saith our Saviour, who loveth Father or Mother, Son or Daughter, or his own life more then Me, is not worthy of Me; Matth. 10. 37. Luke 14. 26. CHRIST upbraided the Men of Capernaum for following him, because it was for the loaves. We do not reckon them our Friends, nor do we think our selves oblidged unto them who wait up­on us and do us service, because they bring Gain and Advantage to themselves thereby; these are Mercenary Persons, but he is our [Page 144] Friend, who abstracting from his own Inter­est, or from any Advantage which we might procure him, doth freely and hearti­ly set himself to please us, or to assist us in our Affairs. If a Man visits a sick Friend, and watches at his pillow for Charities sake, and because of his old Affection, we approve it, but if he does it in hope of a Legacy, he is a Vulture, saith Seneca, and only watcheth for the Car [...]ass; So he is a Mercenary and sordid person who re­specteth more the Benefits which fall from GOD, then GOD himself, and GOD will not much regard this Man's service; but he indeed shall please him, who being acted not so much out of Self-interest, as out of a pure regard to GOD, doth Serve and Obey him, who makes the Glory of GOD his chief end; and who aims at nothing more then to please him, and who is more glad of the Occasion thereof, then of any external Ad­vantage which redound by it. Non sine prae­mio diligitur Deus, saith holy Bernard, etsi absque praemii intuitu diligendus sit; that is, GOD is never loved without a reward, albeit he is not to be Bernard. Tract. de dilig. DEO. loved chiefly for the Reward; our Love to Him can never be un­profitable, but yet it should not be Mercenary, for it should not seek its own things. [Page 145] The Soul that loveth GOD should not require a greater Reward of its Love, then GOD himself, or if it require any other thing, it doth not love GOD, but that other thing.

But Thirdly, though we must chiefly serve GOD for himself, and what we do to him and for him must in the first place be out of pure love to him, yet we may have also a re­spect to our selves, and to our own proper good, this doth not hinder the other; these two are not inconsistent together to love our selves, and to desire our own Happiness needs not imped, but should rather further our Loving GOD above all things. The best way of loving our selves is to endeavour the enjoyment of GOD, ille satis se diligit qui sedulo agit ut summo fruatur bono. There are im­planted in our very Nature great desires of Happiness, and it is impossible to root them out; we shall as soon cease to be, as cease to have Desires for our Preservation and well being, or not to intend this in all we do, and therefore it is certainly Lawfull to have an eye to our own Good and Felicity, providing that we subject this to the Glory of GOD, and make it subordinate to the Desires of pleasing him. It doth not Spoil or cast a Blot upon a Son's respect and love to his Father, that he minds and seeks his [Page 146] own interest, & doth expect a share in his Fa­ther's Inheritance; if so be he do it not to the greif and displeasure of his Father; neither doth it shew that we want True Love to God, that we seek and aim at our own Happiness, if so be we do not prefer our selves to GOD, nor yet take Courses to obtain our Happiness contrary to the Will and Commands of GOD. In the LORD'S Prayer, which is both a Patern of our Prayers, and the rule of our Desires, we are taught as in the first place to intend the Glory of GOD, the hallow­ing of his Name, the Advancement of his King­dom, and the fulfilling of his Will; So there­after to desire our own Good in the neces­sary Sustenance of our Soul and Bodies, and in our Deliverance from Sin and Dan­ger. ‘The Gospel doth not (saith one) Plainly prohibit us the Love of our selves, but teacheth only to Moderate it rightly, to Subject it to GOD, and to referr it to Him, we must not Love GOD for our selves, so as that we our selves are to be considered as the Last end, and GOD only to be placed in the Order of Means, by the fruition of whom we may be rend­red Happy, but because we pertain to GOD whom we ought to Love above all things, therefore also we ought to Love [Page 147] our selves with a reference to GOD: our Good is therefore to be sought, that in it we may taste the Goodness and Sweetness of God, and that Gods peculiar measure, (so to speake) may be so much the more enlarged; thus our own proper love should be swallowed up in that Ocean of the Di­vine Love.

Fourthly, It is not only Allowable, but it is Necessary and Commanded, that we propose to our selves and have still be­fore our eyes the Eternal Rewards of the other World, and We can never intend these enough. They do not understand things well, who study to take Peoples thoughts off these, and who go about to per­swade Men, that that Obedience is not Per­fect, which is done for Heaven; these are wild and Extravagant Principles, and it is sometimes advanced and set forth by as Romantik a fable, of a Womans going with a Torch in the one hand, and a Bucket of Water in the other, the one to burn up Heaven, the other to drown out the fire of Hell; That Men might serve GOD nei­ther for the Hopes of the One, nei­ther out of Fear of the other. It is a peece of Arrogancy to model Mens Obedience otherwise then GOD hath done, and to [Page 148] offer to take away these things which GOD hath Ordained, and which he hath pro­posed to Men to push them on the more forewardly in all manner of well-doing. And as one saith, if the Dowry which GOD hath given to Vertue, and Religion, were taken away, they would perhaps have but few Platonick Lovers.

—Quis enim virtutem amplectitur ipsam,
Praemia si tollas?

However all the Saints and Servants of GOD mentioned in Scripture, are said to have had the Promises of GOD for the future Life before them. We are told of Moses, that he had a respect unto the recompence of the Reward; Heb. 11. 26. And Saint Paul pro­posed to himself the Crown of Righteousness; 2 Tim. 4. 7, 8. Yea it is said of our Saviour himself, that be had an eye to the Ioy which was set before him; Heb. 12. 2. And St. Peter tells us the end wherefore there are given unto us, such exceeding Great and Precious Pro­mises, is that thereby we might be partakers of the Divine Nature, having escaped the Corruption that is in the world through lust; 2 Pet. 1. 4. Thus it is not only Lawfull and Necessary for us to look often to that which GOD himself hath proposed to us; that we may be the more [Page 153] Powerfully Excited and Encouraged to run the Wayes of GOD, and to keep his Com­mandements: Nay the Glory and Felicity of the other World is a thing which GOD hath chiefly before him, and therefore we should have it also. Obedience to the Laws of GOD is the Means only to carry it on, and so the end why we should do this, is to obtain that, and by intending that we truly Glorifie GOD, and do shew that we pre­fer him before all things. For the Main and great Happiness of Heaven it self con­sists in the clear Knowledge and full Enjoy­ment of GOD; and therefore, as one saith, it is too great nicety to distinguish between GOD and Heaven, his Glory and our Salvation, for they are not really things distinct; We cannot in a true Sense seek the Salvation of our Souls more then the Glory of God, for the one is the Advancement of the other. Heaven is not a thing without us, nor is happiness distinct from a Conjunction with God, to love God above our sel­ves, See Smith Sel: Dis: pag. 399 is not indeed so properly to love him above the Salvation of our Souls, as if they were distinct things, but it is to love Him above all our Sinful Affecti­ons and particular Beeings, and to conform our­selves to him.

Fifthly and Lastly, the proposing to our [Page 154] selves the temporal enjoyments of this World, as a Principal end, the making Wealth, Honor and Riches a main Motive why we serve GOD, and Obey him, is altogether Un­lawfull. It is a peece of the grossest Hypo­crisie, and Men do thereby dishonour GOD and Religion, in making them stoup for to Serve their base Carnal designs; they who are guilty of this, cannot be said so much to exercise Religion and Vertue, as to abuse them, and in steed of Honouring GOD they do but put a Mock upon him, like that Gentleman in Elian, who coming into the presence of the Persian King, at his entry into the Presence Chamber he stouped to take up his Ring, which he purposely let fall, that thereby he might be thought to pay that adoration to that Monarch which the Laws obliged him to. Satan laid this to Iob's charge, and would have made it be­lieved, that it was only GOD'S Blessing him with Outward Prosperity which tied him so much to the Service of GOD. doth Iob, saith he, Fear GOD for nought? Hast thou not made an hedge about him, and about all his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, [Page 155] and he will curse thee to thy face; Job 1. verse 10, 11. The Devil thought Iob was of the humor of some who keep close by a Man, whilst any thing is to be expected from him, and that he is in a capacity of doing them good, but so soon as Fortune frowns, and his Condition alters they turn their backs and run away: To take off which tash from Iob, and to convince the World of the falshood of this Accusation, it was that GOD gave Satan power over all that which he possessed. And indeed though the ser­ving of GOD be the most Natural, Reasonable and Proper Way, for securing to our selves the good things of this Life, yet he suffers his Faithful Servants sometimes to fare worst, that their Sincerity may be tryed and mani­fested, and that Men may learn thereby to seek and serve him for higher and more noble ends. GOD requires us to mortifie all immoderate desires for the things of this Life, to be so far denyed to all sublunary enjoyments, as neither to care much, whither we have them or want them, not to be overjoyed and lifted up when they come unto us; nor yet dejected and cast down when they re­move from us; and therefore it is not law­ful for us to have our Hearts set upon that [Page 156] which GOD teacheth us to despise, and besides that can be no true and proper Mo­tive to Religion, and the Service of GOD, which sometimes cannot be obtained, other­wise then by swerving from them; ye cannot serve GOD and Mammon, saith CHRIST, and the Reason is clear, because their Com­mands often interfere and come in Compe­tition together. We cannot sometimes se­cure our Life or Fortune, our Honour or Means but by renouncing GOD, and Obe­dience to his Laws, wherefore our Saviour tells us plainly, if any Man come to Me, and hate not his Father and Mother, and Wife and Chil­dren, and Brethren, and Sisters, yea and his own life also, he cannot be My Disciple; Luke 14. 26. That is, if a Man cannot find in his Heart to part with these freely, he needs not offer to follow Him, for he will sometimes be necessitat to leave him. If to have the World be the chief motive why one comes to GOD, for the same Reason, he will some­times foresake him, and GOD will have no Regard to that Man, who minds not to be constant, but who serveth only for a time. Wherefore I wish that Wealth, Honour and other Temporal things, were less insisted on as Motives to Christian duties, though I deny [...]t, but that it may be proper enough [Page 157] sometime, or occasionally to shew that Religion conduceth to our present happiness, as the Poet saith,

—Semita certe
Tranquillae per virtutem patet unica vitae.

But who come to CHRIST meerly for these Worldly Respects, cannot be ac­counted Converts: and as he upbraided the Men of Capernaum, so it may be said to them; Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye seek me not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the Loaves, and were filled; John 6: 26.

But here it will be objected and said, by some, doth not GOD in the Scripture give us many Temporal Promises? Doth he not frequently propose to us Wealth, and Honour, and the other good things of this Life, as the Reward of our Obedience; and is it Unlawfull to have an eye to GODS own Promise, and to Desire that Reward which he hath proposed? For Answer hereto, we are to consider that GOD makes these Promises, not to draw our Hearts after the World, or to make us think that our Happiness lies in the enjoyment thereof; but only to free us from Immoderate Cares, and to engage us to serve Him without Anxiety and Solicitude for these Temporall things we stand in need of while we are here [Page 158] That we may not be diverted from the Ser­vice of GOD, nor interrupted in our pursure of these Eternal Felicities in the other World, by a too great thought­fulness for the Relief of our Necessities in this; therefore it is that GOD hath made us the Promise not only of what is simply Necessary, but even also of Plenty and Abundance, and the only use we are to make of these Promises, is to encourage our selves with the Expectation of what is Good, Usefull and Convenient for us, and all the Rea­sonTemporalia haec me, O Domine, juvent utentem, non corrum­pant mentem & amo­rem meum retorque­ant in te Artificem eorum, ne in his quae placent mihi, ego dis­pliceam tibi. Amem haec, sed plus te a­mem, & haec propter te amen; Et si ista diligam, ut subjecta diligam, ut famulantia diligam, diligam ut arrham sponsi, ut munera amici, ut be­neficia Domini, sic tamen ut meminerim semper, quae tibi debeam, ista propter te, & per ista, & super ista te diligam. Illis adhaeream dilectione transitoria, tibi inhaeream dilectione mansoria. why we should de­sire these things here be­low is, that we may be rendred thereby more serviceable to GOD, and more Profitable unto o­thers, that the good things of this World may be­come to us Pledges of these better things above.

[Page 159]The sum of what we have said in An­swer to the Question proposed is this, That there is an Indispensible Obligation upon us to serve GOD, abstracting from any Consideration of the Benefit to be had thereby, and that our Services are then best and most Acceptable, when they are per­formed in Regard of GOD himself, and out of Pure love to him: but that however we may Respect our own Good, and Seek our own Happiness, and pursue for Heaven and Eternal Life; for this is not inconsistent with the Purest love of GOD, but only Sub­ordinate thereunto. But as for the Temporal things of this World, it is Unlawful to make them our Chief and Ultimat End, or to pro­pose them to our selves as any main Motive & inducement to the Observance of GOD, or his Laws, for we should resolve to cleave to GOD, whither he gives us these things or no; Nay though he should leave us alto­gether Destitute of all Worldly Help and Comfort, yet it should be our Resolution never to forsake him, saying with holy Iob, though he slay me, yet will I trust in him; Iob. 13. 15.

Now as to Iacob's case in Particular, it doth not appear that he swerved from these General positions, which we have laid down, [Page 160] yea it seems evident, that he kept close to them. He makes, 'tis true, his Requests for himself first, but his Serving and Ho­nouring of GOD might be the chief thing he had before him: If he had Aimed more at his own Private Interest, than at the Glory of GOD, he would not have been so Mo­dest in his Desires, nor yet contented himself with so small a Portion as Food and Raiment, he would certainly have sought more; but that he did not seek more, makes it clear, that he gave himself freely to GOD without Respect to his Be­nefits. GOD had been promising him the whole land of Canaan for a possession to him and his Posterity, and he to let see that it was not upon that Account he tied himself to GOD, and Resolved to become his Servant, he asked no more but Food and Raiment. As if he had said, ‘though thou do not so great things, if thou grant but Food and Rai­ment. If thou wilt but bring me back to my Fathers house in peace, though I should never brook this Land as my Property and Pos­session, yet thou shalt be my God. Thus Ia­cob loved GOD for himself, like a Friend and not for his Benefits, like a Merchant. Could Iacob have passed by Food and Ray­ [...]ent as well as he did all other good Benefits [Page 161] of GOD, he would not have given him­self thus unto GOD upon Com­position, but absolutely andHales Rem: pa: 223. without Condition. Now he is constrained to fall upon the Condition of Food and Raiment, for without this he could not love his GOD, because without this he could not Subsist, nor have his Being, by which he evidently witnesses, that he therefore and for no neither End desired to be, but only to Love and Serve his GOD. It was an ex­cellent speech of Crispus Passienus, a witty Gentleman of Rome, quorundam se judicium malle quam Beneficium, quorundam Beneficium malle quam judicium, that is Some Mans Res­pect and good Opinion is more to be esteemed then another Man's Benefit; and one saith, that Ia­cob here doth express the same Conceit: for when he came to compound with Laban he made his Bargain in another manner, he would not serve him for Bread and Rai­ment only, but fourteen years for his Daughters, and sex years for his Flock, by which Means he became Rich, and Wealthy, and the Reason why he Covenanted thus differently with GOD, and with Laban was, because with Laban he sought his own commodity, but with GOD only his Acceptance and Favour.

[Page 162]From this Example of Iacob's we should all of us learn this Lesson to aim at the Glory of GOD in all our Desires, when we make any Requests for any Particular Fa­vours, the chief thing which should Prompt us thereto should be that we may have the occasion of serving GOD, some way or other more eminently. Thus Hannah when she Prayed for a Son, she at the same time vow­ed to devote him to GOD. And David besought the LORD earnestly, to have mercy upon him, and to consider the trouble which he suffered of them which hate him; and the end why he de­sired this was, that I may, saith he, shew forth all thy Praise in the gates of the Daughter of Zion; Psal. 9. 13, 14. Whither we call for Spiritual or Temporal Blessings, we should seek them not for themselves, or to rest in the meer enjovment of them, but to reflect Ho­nour on GOD, that we having such things may be capacitated and enabled to do him greater Service, we must not let the Reins loose to our Desires, and be over anxious for the enlargement of our State; for often­times there is as much of Vanity, and seeking our own Praise in this, as any other thing. Whither we have little or much, what ever our Condition be, be it great or small, we may yet have opportunities enough of Glo­rifying [Page 163] GOD; Iacob sought here but Food and Raiment, and supposing he should get no more, yet he devoted himself to GOD, and resolved to own and acknowledge Him.

CHAP. II. Shewing the Importance of the Words, The LORD shall be my GOD.

SECTION I. The True Sense of the Words is given, and a Proposal of the Particulars to be Treated on under this head.

WE come now to the particular Consideration of what the Pa­triarch vowed and promised here. He puts up three Requests unto GOD, and here also he makes three ex­press and particular Promises: the first of which is, that the LORD shall be his GOD. Some render these words otherwise then we [Page 164] have them in our Translation, and put an­other sense upon them; they have it cumque fuerit Dominus mihi Deus, making it a fourth Petition, importing as much as if he had said, if the LORD indeed will be to me a GOD, which is indeed a very great and compre­hensive Request, and doth include all de­sirable Hapiness, for what can One ask more then that GOD should manifest his Wis­dom, his Power, his Goodness, and all his other Glorious Perfections for his particular behoof and benefit. Wherefore the Psalmist having prayed for the flourishing of their State, That their Sons may be as Plants grown up in their Youth, and their Daughters as Corner­stones, polished after the similitude of a Palace, that their Garners may he full, affording all man­ner of Store, that their Sheep might bring forth thousands and ten thousands in their streets, their Oxen strong to labour, that there be no breaking in or going out, nor any complaining in the Streets; Having, I say, prayed for this, and being much taken with the Consideration of that Happiness, he cryes out, Happy is that People that is in such a case: but presently he checks himself, and upon second thoughts cryes, Yea, happy is that People whose GOD is the LORD; Psal. 144. 15. intimating thereby to us, that the LORDS interessing himself in [Page 165] any People, and becoming their GOD, was a greater Happiness, then all that which he had formerly spoken of, did amount to.

But how great and Desireable soever this be in it self, yet we see no Reason why we should interpret the words in this sense, es­pecially seeing they should by this means coincide with the first petition; for the LORD to be with One, and to be Ones GOD, is one and the same thing; and it is not likely that Iacob would have come over twice with one thing in so short a Prayer. However our Translation in this agrees with the Hebrew, Septuagint, and the Vulgar Latine, and we judge it best and more Reasonable to take the words this way.

Here then when Iacob promises, that the LORD shall be his GOD, it implies two things, First, that he would not serve the Gods of the Nations, whither on this or the other side Iordan, that he should take care not to be corrupted with the Idolatry of the rest of the World. Secondly, that he should Faithfully serve the GOD of his Fathers, Abraham, and Isaac, who had here honoured him with a signal mainfestation of his Presence, and that to him, and to him only, he should pay all the Homage, Deference, Worship, and Service which is due from Reasonable [Page 166] Creatures to the true GOD. For to take One to be our GOD, is to carry towards him, as to such a Supreme and Infinit Beeing, and to yield him what is proper from us who are so far below the Deity, and who depend upon it for Life, Breath, and all things.

Thus you see what the Patriarch here en­gadged himself to: And it doth first ap­pear, that it was not an Arbitrary Free-will­offering which he here Pitched upon; it was not a thing which he could have passed over, and been Blameless; It is a Natural or moral duty, which he and all Men as Men, that is, as Rational Creatures are strictly ob­lidged unto, This is the first and great Com­mandement, all other are but parts and bran­ches of this: Wherefore it is that we find this set first in that sum and Abridgement of the Moral law, which Moses had from GOD, and delivered to the People of Israel: Thou shalt have no other GODS before me, Requires the same, and neither less nor more then that which Iacob here Vowes and Resolves on, Viz. that there shall be no declining and falling off, to the Worship of false GODS, and that the true GOD shall have all the Worship and Service which properly belongs to him.

Wherefore that we may be stirred up to [Page 167] imitate Iacob's Practice, and to conform to his Resolutions as well as his Desires: we shall GOD willing clear and make out these following Particulars, First, that all Men ought to Worship GOD. Secondly, that they ought to be very wary in the Ob­ject of their Worship, that it be the true GOD and none else whom they adore. Thirdly, we shall shew what Worship and Service is requisite to be payed to the true GOD.

SECTION II. Of the Reasonableness and Necessity of Worship­ping GOD.

AS to the first, that all Men ought to Worship GOD, we shall not need to insist much thereon, it being a confessed Principle, and the very dictat of Natural Conscience: So that not only those to whom the Word of GOD hath come, but even such also as never had any Particular Revelation, have yet looked upon themselves as oblidged to the Worship of a diety. All the World have [Page 168] consented in this, for though there be some Nations without Learning, Coin, Cloathes, and the like instances of Politness and Civi­lity; yet none are so Barbarous as to be with­out the Acknowledgement of a GOD. Some considering the Natural pron [...]ess of Men to the Worship of a GOD, have de­fined Man to be Animal Religiosum, and have made Religion and not Reason the dif­ference betwixt him and other Creatures: And indeed we never shew so much Rea­son, or Act so much above the Inferiour Creatures, as when we are taken up in the Exercise of Vertue and Religion; all other Actings are but Sense, and Animal motions, in which there be many Brutes who do of­ten outdoe us. But when our Reason doth exerce it self in Religion, it is so far above their reach that they cannot offer at an imi­tation.

Religion and the Worship of GOD, doth indeed suppose that there is One, which we may very well suppose, it being a Truth so evident and demonstrable. Every thing in Nature doth so clearly prove the existence of a Deity, that we can never sufficiently admire the Blindness and Stupidity of those who call it in Question: And indeed be­cause it Argues such Stupidity, some have [Page 169] doubted whither there be, or can be, any real speculative Atheists, and do imagine that such as have pretended Atheism, have done it only out of an ostentation of Wit, and for to shew their Smartness, in being able to Op­pose and Dispute the plainest and most received Opinions. But whither there be any Atheists or not, the Beeing of a Deity may be easily made appear to any whose eyes are but open to see it: His very Nature carries a Demonstration in it, and all things else do prove his Existence, Praesentemque refert quae­libet herba Deum. If we look within our own selves, there seems to be such an Impression of a GOD stamped upon our Minds, as is not easily defaced and blotted out; And how we could have this, without a GOD, is very hard if not impossible to Resolve. And if we take a view of the World without, either of the Parts singly by themselves, or in their Conjunction together, we shall discern such admirable Wisdom in their Contrivance, as might be sufficient to draw the most Incredulous to an Acknowledge­ment: for these things are either the effects of Chance, or they are the Works of a Wise Agent; If the last be said, a Deity is grant­ed, and it will be very strange if any have the Impudence to assert the first. He may [Page 170] believe anything in the World, though ne­ver so Monstruous, who can imagine blind Chance could have hit so well, or that things of themselves could have jumped so luklily together, as that the greatest or even infinit wisdom cannot be supposed to Rectifie, or to have contrived otherwise. And therefore it was well said by the Lord Verulam, I had rather beleive all the fables in the Le­gend, Essay 16. & the Talmud, & the Alcoran, then that this Universal Frame is without a Mind. The Atheists ordinarly object, against such as believe a GOD, as if they were too Credu­lous, and of an easie belief; But there is more Reason to retort this upon themselves, for they are the most Credulous who believe the most unlikely things, or what hath the least appearance of Truth: Now what can be more improbable, nay impossible then that Things should be produced without any Cause, or that there should be no Wisdom or Understanding, where the greatest Effects and Instances thereof are to be seen. Though one did take Garagantua or Don Quixot for true History, or did believe the Wildest and most Unlikely Forgeries of the old Ex­iravagant Romances; I could not yet think him so absurd, or judge him to have so large a swallow, as the Atheist, who denies a GOD, [Page 171] when there are so many and so great evi­dences and Demonstrations thereof.

Now if there be a GOD, as certainly there is One, there is nothing more clear then that He should be Worshipped. The very Atheists will grant this, even those who as yet deny a God, will acknowledge the necessity of Worshipping One if he be found; And in Truth it is hard to tell which of the two are most unreasonable, he who denies there is a GOD, or he who refuses to worship the GOD whom he believes. If Prudence and Interest, do oblidge Men to Honour and Obey Kings and Monarchs, that under their Favour they may enjoy Safety and Peace; should not every one for that same very Reason, adore and do homage to the great King, to whom all the Princes and Potentates of the World must submit and bow themselves? Though he sit in the Heavens, yet His Do­minion reacheth over all; the whole World is filled with his Presence, he ruleth the Children of Men, and there is no safety but in his Protection, nor any Security but in his Favour. The LORD, saith the Psalmist, is a great GOD, and a great King above all Gods. In his Hand are the deep places of the Earth: The Strength of Hills is his also. The Sea is His, and he made it: And his Hands formed the [Page 172] dry-land. Therefore he infers, and that rightly, O come let us Worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker, for he is our God, and we are the People of his Pasture, and the Sheep of his Hand; Ps. 95. 3, &c. If Men needed not either care for the Divine Favour, or much to fear his Wrath, they might be somewhat excusable, though they did not highly regard GOD, but seeing it is utterly impossible that ever they can be in such a Condition, wherein they stand in no need of GOD, or may easily protect them­selves from the effects of his Anger, it is the most unaccountable madness to neglect him, and to be careless to please him. It is even such and greater madness, as 't would be for a poor Peasant or other mean Fellow, to slight or shew a contempt of some mighty Monarch, while under his Power, and within his Reach. None have less Reason to make Pretensions to wit, then those who slight Piety, and cast off all regard to GOD; because none act more contrary to common Pru­dence and the Principles of Reason. Contempt or carelesness of the Divine Worship can never be justified; unless Men could be certainly assur­ed that there is no God, which the greatest Atheist never yet pretended to, nor can he? or else that they could extricate themselves from [Page 173] all dependence upon GOD, which as it is not desireable, so neither is it possible. And therefore it is absolutely necessary, that all Men concern themselves in the Wor­ship of GOD, and that they be carefull while they live to Own and Acknowledge Him, which who so Refuseth shall not pass Unpunished. They who will not willingly Own and Submit them­selves to Him, shall certainly fall under the dint of his Fury. Now there­fore, consider this, ye that forget GOD, lest He tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver; Psal. 50. 22.

SECTION III. What Care should be had to Direct our Worship to the True GOD; Rules how to do it. Where also the Idolatry of the Romish Church is considered.

AS thus you see it is necessary we Worship God, so by the same Rea­son it becomes no less necessary that we Worship the True GOD, which was the Second particular we promised [Page 174] to speak to. As there is a GOD, so there is but One True GOD, to whom and to none else we must direct our Worship, and our Religious Services; For if we adore any other then him, or make any Partner of our Worship with him, we are guilty of a Crime which is not easily pardoned, for it is a dethroning of GOD. And therefore, Iob, saith, If I beheld the Sun when it shined or the Moon walking in brightness: And my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath Kissed my hand? That is, if ever he was guilty of Worshipping the Sun, or the Moon, he ac­knowledgeth that this were an iniquity to be punished by the Iudge: For thereby, saith the he, I should have denied the GOD that is above; Job. 31. 26. 27. 28. Sceptra non ferunt soci­um. Kings can endure no Copartners, nor will God suffer any Rival with him? he will not endure that any should share in that Honour which is due to himself alone. I am the LORD, saith he, that is my Name, and my Glory will I not give to another, neither my Praise to graven Images, Isa 42. 8. Ido­latry or the Worship of false GODS, is such an abomination, and doth so highly pro­voke the True GOD, that nothing will, or can excuse it; neither is there any thing which he is more Jealous of: A Man's Serousness [Page 175] or Sincerity will never endear his Worship, and render it acceptable, Unless it be di­rected to the right Object, Though one be a favourer of Monarchy in the general more than any other Government, yet he can never be counted Loyal, if he neglect his True Prince, and follow an Usurper, no more then he who is for no King at all. Even so though one be never so Devout and Serious in his way, yet unless it be the True GOD whom he Adores, he is not to be esteemed a Friend, and Lover of GOD, he cannot be Reckoned otherwise then as an Enemy, as well as those who are altogether Irreligious and Profane. We must be sure then that we Worship the True GOD and none else, otherwise it is to no purpose to Worship any: For to worship none, and to Worsh a False GOD, will be alike profitable, that is certainly, they will be both of them hurtfull and pernicious: for either of them will incense the true GOD, and make him set himself against us to de­stroy us.

Now as it concerneth us to worship the true GOD and none else, so that we may be sure to worship him and none other, let us first Labour to get right Apprehensions of the Divine Nature, and Attributes. Let [Page 176] us be carefull to keep in mind how he is the Supreme Being, Eternal, Infinit and Independent from all others, that he is Almighty, most wise, most just, and good, and Holy; A pure Spirit, who is not only free from all imperfections, but who is infinitlie excellent beyond what can be apprehended, and who is every where present. For as the Apostle saith, he is not far from every one of us in him we all live, move, and have our beeing. 'Tis this and nothing else which we call GOD, He and none other hath these Pro­perties and Excellencies; And therefore not only what we Worship, must be such; but also we must be carefull to Worship Him under the consideration of a being thus infinitly excellent and glorious, or else we Worship we know not what. Instead of the True GOD we do but set up an Idol, which our own Fancie hath devised. 'Tis true an adequat Comprehensive Knowledge of God, or of any of his Attributes, is not pos­sible; for he dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto, whom no man hath seen, nor can see; He being infinite, and we finite, we are not capable of such an exact full know­ledge of him. Wherefore it will not follow that One is ignorant of the True God, be­cause his knowledge of him is imperfect, for the knowledge which the best have, or [Page 177] can have is no other. Nay farther, it is not reasonable to infer, that men are mistaken about the true God, because they err about these things which are deduceable from the right consideration of some of his Attributes, or because they have not right or true appre­hensions of some of the effects of his wis­dom, power or goodness. Every one is not capable of drawing proper consequences from truths, and the consequences are not al­wayes so clear as the truth it self; it would be too severe to charge one with the denial of a truth, because he does not close with what may follow upon it: Unless the one be as clear and evident as the other, when two things are not a like evident, neither their connexion very palpable, though in them­selves they may be really inseparable, Men may err very innocently and excusably a­bout them; and cannot be said to reject what is evident, because they do not hold the o­ther which is not so. As to the present case, that God is Almighty, Wise. Iust, Holy, & Good, is clear and demonstrable, so that they are altogether inexcusable who do not believe it: But the most proper methods and manner of exercing his Power, Wisdom, and Iustice, &c. Are not so discernable by us, and there­fore if men differ about them, it is no great [Page 178] wonder; and it savours somewhat of arro­gancie, to offer to determine them too par­ticularly. If silly Country-clowns were to speak of State Policie, and Regal Grandeur, 'tis not to be doubted but that they would err grosly, because they have not true or ex­act notions thereof: But it is less to be doubt­ed, that it is more beyond the wisest man's reach, to tell exactly what is sutable to the glory of God, and agreable to infinite wisdom, power, and justice. What boldness were it tosay peremptorly, God should have done or not have done this, & that if he had or not had done so & so he would have acted unworthily? What of the divine actions are plainly revealed, we see clearly are agreeable to the most perfect conceptions of a Deity, and what is kept secret, we ought rather to admire in silence, then to sit down and curiously resolve▪ And if men will needs attempt the resolution of the hidden mysteries of GOD's Councill, and prescribe Rules for that end, they should rather be check'd for their bold and too curious medling, then unbraid­ed with a false god, because their sentiments cannot be so exactly adjusted to the more common notions of justice and equity which men have. Wherefore the deriding the God of the Calvinists, * as one of late hath done, deserves a severe censure and chastisement; [Page 179] For whither these Calvinistical tenets *Turners Defence of his Sermon about Necessi­ty and Freedom. concerning Gods Decrees, be true or false, the believing or not believing them will not infer a denial or not own­ing of the true God? and seing the Calvinists acknowledge all the essential Attributes of a Deity, and believe in him only who is declared the true God, therefore they cannot be said to worship any other: and he who mocks at the God whom they worship, mocks at the true God himself, and how great a sin this is, I leave it to any to judge. But to return whence we degressed, it is requisite that every one study to get the highest and most wor­thy thoughts of GOD, and it is absolutly necessary that they acknowledge what is ex­presly contain'd in the very Idea of God, as that he is Almighty, most Wise, most Iust & Good above all things, and the cause of all things: For God is only a short term, used to expresse these perfections by; and therefore who takes any of them away, destroys the very na­ture of God; and who worships what he doth not ascribe these properties to, worships not God, but some other thing. Even as he is alto­gether ignorant of a circle or triangle, who does not consider the one, as a figure made up of three lines with three distinct angles; and the [Page 180] other of one round line, whose parts are all equally distant from the center; who knows not this, is quite destitute of the notion of these figures: But if one knows this much, he cannot but be said to have the right no­tion of a circle and triangle, though he do not understand all which knowing and skil­full Mathematicians demonstrate about them.

But it is not enough for preserving our selves from Idolatry that we get and maintain some right true and proper notions of a Deity. Men may have these, and yet be Idolaters; in that they fix these notions where they ought not, and ascribe them to that which in it self is not God. Thus the Heathens were guil­ty of Idolatry: for many of them, were not so much mistaken in their conceptions of God, as in the application of their general concepti­ons, to the particular objects of their worship, when they spake of God (at least the wise & understanding persons among them) they shewed that they believed him a Supreme Beeing of great Wisdom, Power, and Good­ness; and therefore they term'd him alwayes the Summum Numen, Deus ter optimus maxi­mus. So that their sentiments concerning the Nature and Attributes of GOD, could not be so much found fault with as their gross absurdity in misapplying these proper­ties [Page 181] of the Divine Nature: For some affixed the Numen or Deity to the Sun, others to the Moon, or to some other of the Celestiall Bodies; as the Author of the book of wisdom speaks, they deemed either Fire, or Wind, or the swift Air, or the circle of the Stars, or the violent water, or the lights of Heaven to be the Gods which govern the World; Wis. 13. 2. And though this was a sotish errour, yet not so detestable as theirs who worshiped four footed beasts, and creeping things, and roots and herbs, as we read the Egyptians did.

They may have been misled into these abominations, through the infirmity of their Minds which could not fix steedily on a thing so Spiritual, and so wholly abstracted from Sense as GOD is, without the help of Sensible representations, which might affect their imaginations; Wherefore, the better to bring GOD to their Minds, & that they might keep him the more easily in their Thoughts, thy have have devised such Bodily figures and gross representations. Or not attending to the True Nature of GOD, they have imagined that he was confin'd to some peculiar place and seeing none more Glorious then the Sun, or other Celestiall Bodies, therefore have at first only fancied these to be the Seat of Divine Majesty: But in [Page 182] Processe of time have degenerate into the grosser belief of their being Gods. Being delighted with there beauty, saith the foresaid Authour, they took them to be Gods. And as to that Astonishing as well as inexcusable Blockishness of Worshiping Beasts, and Insects, and Roots, it might been occasioned either through a misunderstanding of their Sages or Wisemen, who treating of GOD have used such Symbols and Hieroglyphicks: Or else upon the surprise of some vertue and useful quality, or a destroying Power in these things, which their Ignorance could not otherwise resolve by a particular and some more then ordinary presence of the Deity.

But 'tis nor ou [...] present business, to en­quire into the cause and occasion of Mens being guilty of Idolatry. The chief thing which at present we would have marked, is that Men may be Idolaters, even while their apprehensions of a Deity are not so very grosse: 'tis true the Attributes and Perfecti­ons of GOD, and the nature of things Visi­ble and material are so inconsistent, that it might be thought none would take what is of this last kind, for the other; but 'tis as true, that there is nothing more ordi­nary, then for Men to Join in their opinions and Practices what are really repugnant and [Page 183] inconsistent together. Wherefore to shun all Guilt and Suspicion of Idolatry it is not only necessary to have some knowledge of a GOD, how he is a Beeing, great and powerful, &c. But also that we be sure of his Deity, whom wee Worship, and to whom we ad­dresse our selves, by finding out in him what only can be appropriate to the true GOD, and none else. A Woman must not only have an esteem for her Husband, & a resolution to admit none other, but must actually take a care that she do it not, otherwise she does not preserve her Faith and Chastity: If one addresse himself to her, and She should admit him to a Conju­gal Freedom, without examining whither he were her true Husband, or receiving any certain evidence thereof, she commits A­dultery. So if we take any for GOD, and honour him as such, without sure and in­fallible tokens which manifest his Godhead, we draw on our selves the guilt of Idolatry, which is Spiritual adultery. If Mens minds had never been corrupted with Idolatrous apprehen­sions, if they had never turned aside, and devised strange gods, that is more then one; then it would have been sufficient to have directed our Worship to a Deity, for then all Worship would have been the worship [Page 184] of the true GOD: But now that the World hath been, so miserably o'respread with Idolatry, and that Men are become so vain in their imaginations as to set up false Gods and to ascribe a Deity to many things; Therefore it is necessary that we be very wary, and not only Design to have our Worship terminate in the True, for who Worship False Gods intend this: But that it may really do so, we must discern what doth certainly particularize the true GOD, and as it were Single him out from all the false Gods of the World.

Now it needs not puzle us much or put us to any great difficulty to find out who is the True, amongst the several pretended Deities; a small enquiry will easily deter­mine the point: We shall not have well begun to examine, when it shall appear who is True, & who False. It is a speech of Tully, the Heathen Orator, utinam tam facile veram re­ligionem invenire possim, quam falsam convincere; I wish I could as easily find out the true GOD, as detect who is false: But the one will certain­ly follow upon the other. Solomon at once discovered the false Mother, and the true by mak­ing a tryal of their Motherly affection and behavi­our; So by examining the account of those Gods which are mentioned among Men, [Page 185] and the Actions ascribed to them, which of them are the most God-like, we shall pre­sently discern both the True GOD, and such as are false.

These can be no Gods who have deri­ved their beeing, whose Genealogies can be given account of, who could do no great thing for those who adored them, nay could not deliver themselves, who were acted with Humane Passions, and were guilty of Grosse vices, and who never gave any token whereby they might be known to be Gods; But are meerly supported by Poeticall Ficti­ons, and the imaginations of Men. And so Iupiter and Saturne, and Apollo, and all the ancient and present Pagan Gods must fall to the ground; And in a word, none can stand but the GOD whom the Iews of old Worshipped, and who is still Worshipped and acknowledged by Christians: For what he hath done, speake him out clearly the True and Ever-living GOD, who alone reigneth in the World.

And as it is Man's interest as well as Duty, to Worship the True GOD; So this true GOD never left himself without Witnesse in the World, that such as were desirous, might know and find him, and that others might be rendred in excusable. The invisible things [Page 186] of him, saith St. Paul, from the creation of the World are clearlie seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his Eternal Power and God head, so that they, who are not convin­ced, are without excuse. His Works which are every where to be seen, did point him out; but such was the perverseness of Men; that they withstood them: Because they were common and ordinarie, therefore they became ineffectuall, for bringing them to the Knowledge of the True GOD, and the ret [...]ining them in His Service. They lost memory of the Creation; and as for the day­ly Acts of GODS Providence, in doing good giving rain, and blessing with fruitfull Seasons, they wrought litle or nothing upon them: And then he was pleased, to give other Signal and extraordinary manifestations of himself, which was sufficient to convince the most Obstinat and Incredulous. Thus to a [...]cend no higher, he raised up Abraham to be a speci­al and extraordinarie witness of the True GOD; none could boast of any favour from the Gods they Worshipped, as Abra­ [...]am could shew from his GOD, as particu­larly that of getting a Son in his Old Age, and when the Womb of his Wife too was be­come dead by the Co [...]rse of Nature, which could not be effectuate by any other then an [Page 187] Almighty Power. And therefore it was evi dent that he was the True GOD who did all this; and therefore also all to whom the knowledge of this came were oblidged to own the GOD of Abraham. And indeed we find that these singular Providences, which followed Abraham and his Family, did draw a Confes [...]ion from these Strangers with whom they lived, that it was the tru [...] GOD whom they feared. See Gen. 12. 17. 14. 20 20 3, 17. and chap. 26. v. 28. We have Abimelech confes­sing that the true GOD was with Is [...]ac, and upon that account desiring a Covenant to be made betwixt them; We saw, saith he, certainly that the LORD was with thee; and he said let there be now an Oath betwixt us, even betwixt us and thee; and let us make a Covenant with thee for thou art now the bl [...]ssed of the Lord. Nay such clear Testimonies were Abraham and Isaac of the true GOD, that GOD him­self useth them for the Conviction of Iacob at this time, for upon his first appearance he call'd himself the Lord GOD of Abraham, and the GOD of Isaac, as you may see, v. 13.

As GOD made use of Abraham Isaac and Iacob to be his Witnesses in their time, so he continued still to use their Posterity; for convincing the World of the vanity of their Gods, which were generally worshipped [Page 188] and to let them see that he was the true GOD, whom all should serve and obey: For, for this end he wrought so many Wonders for them in Egypt, did so strangely plague Pha­raoh and his People, brought them forth with such a high hand, and used many and so great Miracles in settling them in the Land of Canaan: For being the Fame of these things could not but reach to all Nations & People, so who ever heard and seriously con­sidered th [...]se things, might be forced to con­fesse that he who did them, that is, the GOD of Israel, was a great GOD, above all Gods, a GOD of Power and Majestie, that he was the true GOD, and that there was none besides him. What other but the true GOD, can command the Wind and the Sea, the Sun and the Stars, and all the Elements, and force them to obey his Word? Who can make Night and Day when he pleaseth? who can change the course of Nature? and when he hath done so, can easily bring it back again? but he who is the Author of Nature, and the Creator of all things, GOD blessed for ever.

Wherefore the God of Israel, whose Migh­ty and Wonderful Acts are Recorded in the holy Scripture, is the only true GOD: And who would be found worshippers of the true GOD must direct their worship to Him. All [Page 189] who do not own and acknowledge him are Idolaters; for if they reject him, the Gods whom they serve and bow down to, are only false Gods, Vain Devices and Imagi­nations. Now who would be reckoned a­mongst the Worshippers of this true GOD, [...] testifie themselves to be such, first by owning these special and particular Manifestati­ons, whereby he hath revealed and made himself known; For as these do certainly point out the true GOD, and make a distin­ction betwixt him and all false Gods devised by Men: So 'tis only Faith in these Mani­festations, which must put the difference be­twix [...] the worshippers of false Gods, and un­certain Deities, and those who do certainly adore the only true GOD. Hence it is that we find the Servants of GOD, when they sp [...]ke of Him▪ styling him by these particu­lar manifestations; and when they addressed themselves to Him, having a special respect to them. Thus Iacob called GOD, the GOD of his Father, and the fear of Isaac. Nay it seems evident that GOD would have him­self named from these things, and worshipped under these designations: for when he appear­ed again to Iacob, he called himself the GOD of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar; Gen. 31. 13. and thereafter we find Him [Page 190] (when he required of Iacob the accomplish­ment of this Vow) bespeaking him thus, A­rise go up to Bethel, to dwel there, and make an Al­tar unto GOD, that appeared unto thee when thou fledst from the face of Esau thy Brother; Gen. 35. 1. GODS constant Title under the Old Testament, was, that of the GOD of Abraham, Isaac, and Iacob; GOD that brought the Children of Israel out of Egypt; and they who own'd not these Titles were accounted Strangers to the True GOD: There is now another Name and Designation given to GOD, sutable to the Gospel▪dispensation, viz. The GOD and Father of our Lord IESUS CHRIST; the Reason why GOD takes to Himself these Names and Titles, and will have himself acknowledged according to them, is because they are par­ticular Denominations, and do more direct­ly lead to him. The Title of Creator is due to GOD, and can belong to none other: but they who have worshipped false gods, have acknowledged a Creator; but who is the true Creator of all things, is only owned and adored by those who believe and receive the Reve­lation of the holy Scriptures.

They who attend not to the light of the Scriptures, and reject their direction, if they own a Deity, it is onely a Numen vagum, an unknown and uncertain God, [Page 191] as the Athenians did. If GOD had never made any other discoverie of himself, then by this outward and visible World, then Men would have been only oblidged to worship the Deit [...], according to that Mani­festation: But seing it hath pleased him to give other Manifestations, for the illustrating of his own glory, therefore it is Reasonable and Necessary, that these be acknowledged as well as the other, and that we adore him out of a respect to these Super added Revela­tions, as well as out of a regard to the Crea­tion of the World. And who do it not, are so far from owning the True GOD, that they oppose and set themselves against him. Thus certainly P [...]gans, and Infidels, and such as disbelieve the holy Scripture of the Old and New Testament, must be excluded from a­mongst the Worshippers of the One True GOD. Which I wish were more serio [...]sly consider­ed; for many Persons of this Age, content themselves with the belief of a Deity, and think they have gone a very great length, by acknowledging this, though they deny Faith to the Gospel: Who are not con­vinced, By the Testimonies of Scripture, are as much without excuse, as they who will not be perswaded there is a GOD, upon the evidence thereof, from the [Page 192] existence of other things, and the Wi [...]e and useful Order, and Ha [...]monie, and Stedfastness which is visible in the World: for the rolling over the production of this ma­terial World upon blind chance, the attributing it to a various tossing and tumbling of Attoms, without any Guide or Director, as was the dream of Epicurus and Democritus, would be no greater absurdity then to think that the Miracles and Prophesies, and other things narrated in Scripture, the admirable correspon­dence between the Old and New T [...]stament, and the excellent Agreement between the Chri­stian Doctrine and the Nature and State of Man, when truly considered should not be of God, but only a cunningly devised fable. [...]nd as for the Truth of Matters of Fact in Scripture, there is as much evidence for them, as in Reason can be desired, and they cannot be called in Question, without overturning all Humane certainty every Man acts dayly in his Civill affairs, as much upon Trust as he is obliedg'd to, by receiving and obeying the Gospel; So that Infidelity is a most unreason­able thing. And as it is unreasonable so it averts a Man from GOD: Who have an evil heart of unbelief depart from the living GOD; as the Apostle insinuateth, Heb. 3. 13. The­isme, & Atheisme, are somewhat of a kin toge­ther, [Page 193] and he who is only a Theist may be very soon induced to be an Atheist: for though the existence of a Deity may be learn­ed by Natural light; yet without the Reveal­ed light of the Scriptures, it is hard, i [...] not impossible, to discuss the doubts which may arise, from the consideration of that un­equal, and as it would seem, unjust dis­posal of Men, besides other things which may be instanced: And without the help of Revelation, all that can be known of GOD by meer Nature, will not be effectual to counterpoise the corruption of our Natures, and to restrain us from following Sensual and Brutish appetites, which being cherished, drown all sense of GOD, and cast out all Fear and Regard for Him.

As Faith in the Divine Revelations of the Scripture is requisite to qualifie us for being Worshippers of the True GOD: So in the next place it is necessarie that we adore the God-head according to that Incomprehensible Mysterie of the Trinity. Reason and Scripture both teach, That there is but One True GOD; For it is impossible there can be more then One supreme Infinite Beeing: But though Reason do not, yet Scripture doth declare, as plainly and clearly as it doth any thing, that in the Unity of the God-head, there are a Trinity of the Per­sons, [Page 194] viz. the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, each of which is proposed to us as the due Object of all Divine Adoration; therefore who do not adore all three, and all three as one God, doth not adore the true God: For the true God, is this Trinitie of Persons, as he hath plainly manifested Himself, and mani­fested it for this end, that he may be so wor­shipped and acknowledged by men. That the Trinitie is not contained within that Idea of God which we have by Nature, will not excuse the disbelief thereof, when clearly revealed, as I suppose every one will find who layeth aside their prejudice. We are as much oblidg­ed, to believe the word of God, as the dictats of our own Reason; and when Men will not be­lieve God's word, because their Reason cannot fathom the depth of it, nor easilie conceive the truth thereof, as in the present case, then they make an Idol of their Reason, and may be said rather to adore it, then GOD: Seing they will not acknowledge him ac­cording to what he really is in himsel [...], which he hath also plainlie declared, but according to the appearance of their own Imaginations. If the nature and essence of God agree with their sentiments, they are very ready to own and acknowledge him; but if it differ in any thing from these, then they are Stubborn and [Page 195] Refractory: Which I may fitly compare, to those who make a nice distinction betwixt the name and Authority of the King, and his per­son; the King's Authority they profess to regard as much as any, but however they are still Plotting and Rebelling against His Person. If one should take away Omnipotency from God, all would acknowledg that it is not God reallie, but a fantome of his own devising, which he pays worship too: For that is no God which is not Omnipotent. Now he doth the same who removes Veracitie from God: for Truth as pro­perly belongs to him as Power: And there­fore as the consideration of God's Omnipotencie doth oblidge us, to believe that he can work not only above what we our selves can doe, but beyond our conception, for all things must be possible to him; so the consideration of his Veracity, oblidgeth us no less to believe all to be true, which he speaks and declares, though our reason cannot comprehend it. If God had pleased, he might have made the mystery of the Trinity, and the other Mysteries of the Gospel more intelligible; But then he would have wanted the homage, and acknowledge­ment which is due from our understandings, which the Scripture calls the Obedience of Faith, and which is no less reasonable then the obedience of the will and actions: He who doth not sub­mit [Page 196] his will to the laws of God, cannot be said to own him or his Authority; Neither he who refuseth to yeeld His judgement to God to be informed by him: And the with­drawing the submi [...]on of our understandings will not be excused by paying the obedience of our wills; for one duty, will not make up the breach of another, which is as necessary of it self. Hence it is that Faith is so much spok­en of in Scripture, and made so necessary a duty to the being accounted Righteous before God, and therefore also it is that Abraham is proposed for our Patern, who against hope, believed in hope, for being not weak in Faith, he staggered not at the Promise of God through un­belief: but was strong in Faith, giving glory to God, being fully perswaded that what he had Promised, he was able also to perform: and there­fore it was imputed to him for righteousness, Now, saith the Scripture, it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but for us also to whom it shall be imputed if we likewise believe. By this rule Socinians, and Quakers will be cut off from the pretences of Worshipping the true God; for as much Reason as the one sets up for, and for as great Pietie as the other endeavours to make a shew of.

[Page 197]Thirdly that the True GOD may be our GOD, it is absolutly necessarie that we pay all divine worship to Him alone, and not share it among others besides him: for seing there is but One GOD, therefore to have more Objects of divine Worship, is to be guilty of Idolatrie; and Idolatrie and the wor­ship of the true GOD cannot agree together. It is certain, that GOD will not accept of their worship, who pay the same adoration to others besides him: Therefore the First command which He gave to his People of old, was this, Thou shalt have no other Gods before ME. Intimating thereby that the very foundati­on of true Religion, and the very first thing to be done in the Acknowledgment of the true God, is to resolve to Worship him only, according to what our Saviour saith, thou shalt Worship the LORD thy GOD and him only shalt thou serve; Matth 4: 10. This Ioshua under­stood well, and laid plainly before the Children of Israel, in his last solemn speech to them, wherein he endeavoured to reclaime them from Idolatrous practices, that is, the paying divine respect to any other besides the True GOD, by shewing the absurdity there­of, and its inconsistencie with the Worship and service of the true GOD; for having bidden them choose whom they would serve, lest they [Page 198] might have thought that they could well e­nough both serve Him who had done so much for them, and others besides, he round­ly tells them, ye cannot serve the Lord, for he is an holy God, he is a Iealous God, He will not forgive your transgressions, nor your sins, if ye foresake the Lord and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you after that he hath done you good. And when the People expressed their resolution to serve the LORD, that they might give a true Testimonie thereof he said to them, Now there­fore put away the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD GOD of Israel, Ioshua 24.

Some perhaps will say that these Passages of Scripture, do only strike against plurality of gods, or the Worshipping of false gods, with a neglect or contempt of the True, or the Substituting any in his Room, but not at all against the Worshipping of Subordinate Bee­ings, while one Supreme LORD and GOD the Creator of all things is owned and worshipped. But to this it is answered, that certainly all is to be included in the Prohibition, which de­rogates from the Glory of the True GOD, and is inconsistent with the Worship and Service due to Him; and therefore among other things, this of paying Divine Worship to any be­sides: [Page 199] For who doth this, does not Glorify GOD as GOD, nor acknowledge that Infinit distance, which is betwixt him and all o­ther Beeings. They are guilty of Lese▪ Majesty and commit Treason against the Person of GOD, who either level Him with others, or exalt others to a parity with him; and yet this is done when GOD is not Honoured above others, and that Creatures are honour­ed with all the Acts of Worship, and Testimonies of respect proper to the Creator. In the Scripture a Covetous man is called an Idolater, not that he sets up his Money as an Idol, falls down before it, makes Prayers, and counts it his Creator, but because it enhanceth his Affections, is the Ground of his Confidence; and that he cannot be more earnest to Please GOD, then he is to get Money and keep it: Now is he not much more an Idolater, who designedly, and of set purpose, payes all that homage and Worship to others which he owes only to GOD; is not this to return to the Idolatry of the Gentiles; for their Crime was, that they did service unto them which by nature are no Gods, as St: Paul tells us, Gal. 4. 8. And in that he saith, they did it when they knew not GOD, it clearly implies that they who know him aright as the Gospel manifests him, ought not to do it, otherwise they [Page 200] walk contrary to the Gospel, and disho­nour GOD.

To guard men against this crime, God hath in Scripture declar'd himself, a Iealous God; like a Iealous Husband, who cannot suf­fer with patience, the least appearance of dis­honesty in his wife, or any the least inclina­tion to strange embraces. And indeed as a Woman would be guiltie of Adulterie, though she did not quite abandon her hus­band, if she did but prostitute her self to a­nother, and entertain him with the affection and kindness due to her own husband: So they are guilty of Spiritual whorrdom and adulterie, who honour with divine worship any besides the true God; though they do not cast him off. As the Husband is not con­tent, unless he have his wife's whole heart and intire affection; so neither is God, un­less those who pretend to worship him, do it without reserving any homage or service for another. And as she comes at last to have her heart wholly enstranged from her hus­band, who hath been too familiar with ano­ther: So they who allow themselves to per­form Divine Homage and service to creatures, are at last altogether alienated from the Cre­ator, when men are drawn, to worship any other then God, they prove wholly forget­full [Page 201] of him; they let those whom they in­tended at first only to be Co-partners to turn absolut Proprietors of their hearts and service. Wherefore who would take the Lord to be their God, must resolve to devote them­selves intirely to him, and to have none other beside him.

Lastly, who would worship the true GOD, and have their service find acceptance with him, as they must not dishonour God by giving him Co-partners; so they must not make their adress to him, by the means of Images or such sensible or external objects, but must direct their worship immediatly to God himself, without application to any other thing for the conveyance of their worship; for this he hath expresly forbidden, and that worship which he hath forbidden and declar­ed his displeasure with, can never be said to terminate in him, That He hath forbidden it, is evident from the second Commandement, where all sort of similitude and resemblances are discharged: And that there is forbidden, not only Images and similitudes design'd for ho­nour of false Gods, but even also such as might be intended for the honour of the true GOD, appears clearly from Deut: 4. 15. where Moses saith, take ye good heed unto your selves (for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day the [Page 202] Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire) least ye corrupt your selves and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the like­ness of Male, or Female, the likeness of any beast that is on the Earth, the likeness of any winged foul that flieth in the Air, the likeness of a­ny thing that creepeth on the Ground, the likeness of any Fish that is in the Waters beneath the earth, and least thou lift thine eyes up to Heaven, and when thou seest the Sun, and the Moon, and the Stars, even all the Host of Heaven, should be driven to worship and serve them. In this pas­sage not only particular Resemblances, but all kinde of similitude whatsoever with a design to worship it, is absolutely forbidden: So that there is not the least shadow of pretence, for the thinking any lawfull to be made use of. And that God not only prohibits the use and worship of Images themselves, and for themselves, that is to say, when the wor­ship is made to terminat in the Image or ma­teriall object it self; but also when the same is used, as a means of honouring and worship­ping God, is clear both from the due consi­deration of what hath been already said, and likewise from the instances of the Golden Calf which Aaron made, and the two Calves in Dan and Bethel, which Ieroboam set up: For they who worshipped these Calves were not so [Page 203] gross as to terminate their worship in the Calves themselves; but used only the Calves, to stir up their remembrance of the true God, and their devotion for him as appears by their saying, these be thy Gods, O Israel which brought thee up out of land of Egypt. Exod. 32. 4. 1 Kings 12: 28.

The reason why God discharg'd the wor­shipping of him, by Images and external Re­semblances, or any kind of visible objects, and which makes this still unlawfull, is because it is a very improper and disagreable thing in it self, and that which begets dishonour­able thoughts of God, and which seldom or never faileth to make men guilty of the grossest Idolatrie. What an improper, and unsutable thing is it, to studie to make him visible who by nature cannot be seen; and by materiall and corruptible things, to re­present him who is Spirituall and Incorrup­tible; nothing which we can make or fancie bears any proportion to God, neither hath any resemblance of him; the glory of the best and chiefest creatures, is far below the glory of God; and therefore it would be but a dishonouring of him to Resemble him to them, or to set up them as Images of him. To whom, saith the Prophet, will ye liken GOD, or what likeness will ye compare [Page 204] unto him? Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and metted out the Heaven with his span, and comprehended the dust of the Earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in seales, and the hills in a Ballance. He sitteth upon the circle of the earth and the Inhabitants thereof are before him as grashoppers, he stretcheth out the Heavens as a Curtain, and spreadeth them as a tent to dwell in. By what figures and similitudes then can he be represented? As St. Paul saith, we ought not to think that the God-head is like unto Gold or Silver, or Stone, graven by Art and Mans device. And as there is no truth in these resem­blances which men make of GOD, so by making them they dishonour GOD, and occasion people to intertain mean and disho­nourable thoughts of Him: they who set up visible representations of the Deity are said to have changed the Glory of the Incorrup­tible GOD; and thereby also the true dread of God, came to be taken away from among men. For by the meannesse and foolish­ness of Images, men came to despise the Deity which they represented; as some of the wiser and sober Heathens have observed. Farther the use of Images is at­tended with the grossest Idolatrie; For who are accustom'd to Worship them, fancie something of Divinity in them, for they [Page 205] think good luck attends them, and that it bods ill when they want them; as appears by Micah's speech, to those who stole away his Images, ye have taken away my Gods which I made, and what have I more? But though one should never be so Cautious in the use of Images, and guard never so well against these abuses of them, yet certainly it is not lawfull to have them with a Design to Worship them, seing GOD hath expresly forbidden it, and that he hath declared he will not own that Worship, which is given in and by an Image or any visible form and representation.

Now by the two last Particulars, it doth easily appear how corrupt the Church of Rome is, and how much guilty of Idolatry, for though that Church profess the knowledge of the One true GOD, yet She both hath other Gods besides whom She Worshippeth, and also Worshipped the True GOD for the most part in that way which he hath expresly discharg'd, and which by his word we are assured he will not own. First the Church of Rome holdeth other GODS besides the True, for I may well call these People's Gods, to whom they pay'd Divine Ho­mage and Worship: And so Angels, the Blessed Virgin, and other departed Saints, [Page 206] Crucifixes, Images, the Host, or consecra­ted Bread, and other Reliques are Gods to the Papists; for they pay to them Divine worship and Service, even all that is usual to be payed to the true GOD himself, they fall down before them, make Prayers and Vows unto them, Sacrifice and burn Incense, build Temples, and keep Festivals in honour of them, and in a Word, there is scarce any Testimonie of respect payed to GOD himself, which is not also given to them; and the service of these is very little, if any thing different from the service of GOD. Certainly some few subtile Distinctions, which of late they have set up will not put any essentiall difference betwixt the Wor­ship of GOD, and the Worship of these other persons and things, so long as they are the same upon the matter. Nay though I should say that they served these more then GOD, I would not calumniat them, I would but speak the truth; For they pray oftner to the Saints, particularlie to the Virgin Mary, then they do to GOD; She hath ten Aves for a every Pater Noster; there be more Temples built to Her and the other Saints, and many more dayes kept to their Memory, then what are consecrat for the Honour of GOD; their Altars and Shrines [Page 207] are more frequented, and greater offerings made at them; and by many instances it might be made appear, that greate Privi­ledges, as Indulgences, &c: are bestowed by the Pope, for their devotion to the Vir­gin and other Saints, then for the ac­knowledgement of GOD and of JESUS CHRIST. Thus what St. Paul said of the Gentiles, is applicable to them, even that they Worship and serve the creature, more then the Creator, who is Blessed for ever.

These practises are so palpably Idolatrous, so contrary to GODS word, and so incon­sistant with the honour and worship due to Almighty GOD, that it is a Wonder indeed how men who pretend to Learning and Rea­son should go about to excuse them; They are so gross, that the very Ignorant Vulgar could discern them, if they were allowed the use of the Light: But alas poor People! they are therefore Industriously keept in the dark, and the word of GOD is hid from them, which would teach them the Haynous abomination of these things, and how highly displeasing they are to GOD.

How little these Practises of the Papists, in Worshipping of Angels, the Virgin Mary, departed Saints, &c: are to be justified, yea how much to be abominated [Page 208] will presenty appear by considering the ground they are built on, and the reason pretended for the defence of them.

First, That whereon all Saints and Angel-Worship is founded, is the Supposition that they are Agents, and Mediatours betwixt GOD and Man, by whose moyen and Meanes, both Temporal and Spiritual good things are dis­pensed: Remove but this supposition, and the the whole frame of this Service will fall and prove an idle ridiculous foppery▪ Now as to this, first we say it is the same pretence which the Heathens made, for the Wor­shipping of their severall Deities, as doth clearly appear from their Writings; for we must not think, that they believed all whom they Worshipped to be Gods, in the strictest sense of the word: No indeed, they believed but One Supreme LORD, One real GOD, who created and ruled all, whom therefore they called the Father of Gods and Men. But besides him, they held several others, to whom they gave the name of Gods, not that they thought them Uncreated and not Subordinat to the great GOD; but because they were superiour to Man by their Nature, and made use of by the Great GOD, in the Go­vernment of the world, and the disposal of Humane Affairs. Not having right appre­hensions [Page 209] of the infinite nature of GOD, they thought that he either could not, or that it was below him, to superintend all things himself; but that he did all things by the intercourse of these Inferiour Deities, to each of whom they assign'd Particular offices; giv­ing to one the charge of the Earth, to ano­ther the Sea, to a third Fire; some they appointed to be the Guardians of Cities, and whole Countreys, others of particular Men, and some were set over Beasts, in a word, there was no Art, nor Trade, nor Disease incident to Man or Beast, nor Passion, nor Vertue, nor Vice, which they did not commit to the oversight of some Deitie or other, which they failed not to invock, according to their various Conditions and Circumstances. By this it appears, that the Opinion which the Heathens had of their Deities, was just such which the Papists have of Saints and Angels, and that the One hath no other ground for the Worshipping of Saints and Angels, then what the other pre­tended for the worshipping of Iupiter, Iuno, Minerva, Mars, Vulcan, &c. these Dij mino­rum gentium, these Gods of the lower rank & order. Neither can any thing be said in de­fence of the one which may not be alledged for the other. And in truth, it would seem [Page 210] that the Romish Church hath been so much in love, with that scheme of Heathen Religion, as to think fit to transcribe it wholly: for there be little difference in this point, except some change of Names, that whereas they Worshipped formerly Iuno, Iupiter, &c. Now some more Christian names are set up to be adored. And though certainly the holy Angels, and some of the Christian Saints, are by far preferable to the best of the Heathnish Deities; yet it is no more law­full to worship the One, then the other: for the doing either, is to do service to them who by nature are no Gods, which the Scripture condemns, Gal. 4: 8▪ And which they who are thus worshipped would abhore. If there were any communication betwixt us and the Angels and Saints, they would certainlie declare against the Worshipping of them, and would shew themselves so far from be­ing gratified thereby, as to be highly dis­pleased therewith. That the Angels would forbid it, we have good reason to believe, seeing they have done it when occasion offer­ed; for when St Iohn was about to worship the Angel, who shewed him these things he sets down in his Revelation, he withheld him, saying, see thou do it not, for I am thy fellow­servant. And if Paul and Barnabas returned [Page 211] to the earth, they would no doubt as earnest­lie restrain men, from paying Divine ho­mage to them, as they did once the People of Lystra, and that too for the same reason, even because they are Men of the like passions; for though they be freed from sin, and these frailties we are lyable to here, yet they are men still, they are Glorified indeed, but not Deified, and therefore not proper Objects of Worship.

But to return and to speak more particu­larly to this, which is pretended for the Ground of Saint and Angel worship. In the next place, we say it is a thing very uncertain, what use God makes of the Angels and Saints, what be their charge, and office, and what imploy­ments they are put to. We read indeed in the Scriptures, that God hath sometimes imployed Angels, in the affairs of his Servants here below: But whither he doth this always, whither each Saint or Angel hath a particu­lar constant imployment, or what is the parti­cular imployment of each of them, is not re­veal'd; men can only guess at them, nei­ther have they any rule to make their guesses probable, and therefore there is no reason to worship them or to make any adresses to them. For Religious worship and service, should stand upon better grounds, then meer con­jectures, [Page 212] yea I may say idle and fanta­stick dreams. What Ground of assurance can be given that Raphael is appointed for traveling, St. Roche for the Pox, St. Cornelis for the falling sickness, St. Loy for Horse diseases, St. Apollina for the tooth-ach, and that the Virgin Mary can give all that either Soul or body needeth; I say what assurance have we of this? And if there be no assurance, (as cer­tainly there is none▪) what a foolish thing is it to make adresses to these Saints, for these favours which (for ought we know,) do not belong to them to give, but to other Saints, if to any at all; if men be desirous of the fa­vours they seek, me thinks they should make application where they are surest to be had, that is, they should rather go to God then to Saints or Angels; for we are sure he hath all good to bestow, but what gifts are at their disposal, or whither any, is a thing we know not.

Thirdly, though all should be true that is alledged, that we receive good things from hands of Saints and Angels, and that they could procure us what we desire; yet this were no reall ground for worshipping them: For they are not the Author and cause of these things, which are thus supposed to come from them. Do not erre, my beloved Brethren, [Page 213] saith St. Iames, every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, and least we should mis­take him, and think he included Angels and Saints, he addeth, and cometh down from the Father of Lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning, Iames 1. 17. Saints and Angels at the best, are but the means and Instruments of the conveyance of God's bles­sings, and therefore it is not reasonable to worship them, as we worship God. If they ought to be honoured with Divine worship, be­cause God useth their Ministerie, in blessing us with Spiritual and Temporal benefits; then for the same reason, a Merchant or Sea-man may adore the Wind, when its favourable; and every one may worship his meat, for by the use of our Meat, GOD gives us the Bles­sing of Life: and it will not cast the Bal­lance, as to the being a Ground of paying Divine Worship to Saints and Angels, that they are Intelligent Beeings, understand what they do, and what good they do us, they do it with good-will; for if this were sufficient then it should be of as great force, for the Worshipping of the Pastours of the Church, or any other Earthly men, whom GOD raiseth up to be the instruments of our Temporal or Spirituall good. The Means and Instruments should indeed have a due respect, [Page 214] but it should be far below what is payed to the Author and main cause; Saints and Angels indeed ought to be honoured and had in great esteem, because they stand alwayes near GOD, and are his chief Servants: But there is no Reason to equal then with GOD, by giving them the same homage, and pay­ing them the same Acts of Adoration A great difference should be put between the Servant and his Lord, Ministers of State and the Person of the King, and so betwixt GOD and Angels, and Saints; Which also shewes the unsuffi­ciencie of that other Reason and Pretence, which some make for the worshipping of Saints and Angels, viz. That hereby they do Honour to GOD, for though GOD would have them Honoured, yet he would not have them Honoured as Himself.

2. Some of the Papists, are so sensible of the absurdity of Worshipping Saints and Angels directlie, that to take away the shame thereof, they study to put another face on these acts of Adoration, which they pay to Saints and Angels, telling us that they intend thereby no more, but to intreat the Saints and Angels to interceed with GOD for them, which may be as well done as the seeking of Prayers of those upon Earth. To which it may be replyed, first, that what is [Page 215] alledged is not true. 2. That it will not excuse this worship nor free it from Idolatry.

First, the thing alledg'd in the excuse of Saint and Angel worship is not true. For besides the building of Temples, the erecting of Altars, offering up to them Christ in the sacrifice of the Mass, which without the most violent stretching cannot be interpret a desiring them only to pray for them; I say, besides this, there is nothing more evident, then that their Prayers to Saints, is put up in as express terms, as they should be to GOD Almighty; and it is impossible for any to ad­dress themselves to GOD, more humbly and devoutly then they doe, Particularlie to B: Virgin; or to speak more highly of God, then they do of her; or to attribute more to the One, then to the Other; or to Peti­tion the greatest Graces in more plain and direct Terms, as appears from many In­stances in that office of B: M: Authorized by Pope Paul 5. There She is called the Queen of Heaven, the most Glorious Lady, which is exalt­ed above the Heavens, and in that Hymn which begins Ave Maris stella, they bespeak her thus,

Hail [...]ou the Seas bright Star,
Who God's pure Mother are,
[Page 216]Offenders bonds unbind,
Give light unto the Blind;
Our evils clean disband,
All good for us demand,
Do like a Mother bear
Our Prayers, up to His ear.
O singularly chaste,
Whose meekness all surpast
Our sins, from us exil▪d,
Render us, chaste and mild,
Grant that our life be pure, &c.

This as it is the sense of that Hymn, so it is their own Translation, as may be seen in that English Manual of Prayers Printed at Edinburgh, this year 1685. though it bear the name of Paris. See pag: 76. and least the citation of forreign or old Books may be discredited, we shal produce some passages of this Book which is lately emitted by themselves, and which the Curious may easily get a sight of; pag: 81. in a Prayer to the Virgin, after very high titles, they pray, be thou with me in all my trou­bles, and afflictions, and in the hour of my death receive, I beseech thee, my Soul, and offer it to thy sweet Son IESUS, that for thy sake he may accept of it, and place it among the Quire of Celestial Spirits. And page 85. in the Hymn Memento Rerum Conditor.

Blest Mary pre▪ordain'd to be
Mother of Grace, and Clemency,
Defend us from our mortal foe
Receive us when from hence we goe.

And every where throughout the book they speak to her, and of her, as if she were a God­desse in the strictest sense. But not only they pray thus directly to the blessed Virgin, but to Angels and other Saints, as may be seen there. The Prayer to the Guardian Angel, is O Angel of God, to whose holy care I am com­mitted by the Supernal Piety, illumnat, defend, and govern me this day in all my thoughts, words, and actions, pag 18. And as they some­times bid the Saints only pray for them, so at other times they desire GOD to interceed with the Saints. Thus, O Lord we beseech thee, that all thy Saints may every where help us, and while wee reverently celebrate their merits, we may feel their Patronages. pag. 52. and pag. 108. they amply recommend their souls into the hands of the Saints, Angels, and Patriarchs, that not only by their intercession but by their assistance they may be delivered from the Prince of darknesse, and from all dreadfull torments.

And if they intended no more in the Wor­ship of the Virgin, & other Saints, why was that [Page 218] book condemn'd, which was printed at Cullein for the rectifying these abuses, which had crept in into the worship of the Virgin Mary, as if the Author had been guilty of Impiety, against the Scriptures, the Virgin, the Saints, &c. And on the other hand, why was the book of F. CRASSET allowed, and Authorized by the Provincial, and the Arch-Bishop of Paris to be published Anno 1679; wherein as an Antidote against the poyson of the former, all is re­established, which the most shameless Ad [...]rers of the Virgin, ever asserted; that an Almighty power in Heaven and Earth belongs to her, that nothing is impossible to her, that she can save those who are ready to perish, that she comes to the Tri­bunal of God, not as a Servant to intreat her Lord, but as a Mother which may command Her Son; pag. 28. Thus by what hath been said, and an hundred moe instances which might have been given, did we not fear to be tedious, it appears that the Papists do more, then pray to the Saints, to pray for them: And that this alledgance is meerly a blind, whereby they may the more easily deceive such as are not yet fully disposed to receive the whole Saint­worship in gross.

But 2l [...], though this were true, it will not excuse, nor free those who thus worship Saints and Angels from Idolatry. 1. Because [Page 219] even this much cannot be done, without as­cribing to them the peculiar properties of God, as Omnipresence, Omniscience and the know­ledge of mens hearts and secret thoughts If the Saints do not, neither can hear us, its a vain thing to pray to them and they cannot be supposed to hear the prayers which are put up every where througout the World, unless they be made every where present, or so Omniscient as to know whatsoever is done or said upon the earth: Which to say of them, is reallie to make them Gods, for the Scripture and Reason both appropriate these things to GOD only. Thou even thou onely, saith Solomon, knowes the hearts of all the children of Men; 1 Kings 8. 39: And it is One of the proofs we give of the Deitie of CHRIST, that he saith of himself, I am he which searchest the reins and hearts; Rev: 2▪. 23. Which would not be sufficient, if any other could know these save GOD only. Therefore there is a great difference betwixt the praying to departed Saints in particular, and the seeking the assistance of good mens prayers upon earth: For there is a free enter­course between us, and our fellow Christians here; but there is no means of Communication with departed Saints and Angels, who by their Nature are finiee▪ and so confined to [Page 220] one particular place, which makes it a very Improper and Absurd thing to call upon them every where. [...]ly, the seeking the Me­diation and Intercession of the Saints and Angels so much,, and the laying stress upon it, is Idolatrie in respect of CHRIST: For it is a robbing him of his Prerogative, and the cloathing others with it. It belongs to CHRIST only, to make Intercession at the right hand of GOD; for as St paul saith, there is but One GOD, and One Mediatour, between GOD and men, the Man CHRIST JESUS, 1. Tim. 2. 5. And it seems, St Iohn knew not any other, when he said, if any Man sin, we have an Advocat with the Father, IESUS CHRIST the righteous; 1. Iohn 2. 1. He speaks not of many Advocats, but of One, and that One to be neither Saint nor Angel; but JESUS CHRIST. It is an injurie therefore to him, and an Incroachment u­pon his Office of Mediatourship, which he hath purchased by his Death and sufferings, to esta­blish othir Mediatours & Intercessours besides [...]im And to say as they are frequently taught, accept O most Gracious GOD, by the Prayers and Merits of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of all Saints the office of our service. See pag. 88. of the forecited book.

[Page 221]Thus the Ground of Saint and Angel-worship the pretences for it, and all that can be said in excuse of it, are altogether frivolous and unsufficient, and will not free it from Idola­try. And as it is down right Idolatry in it self, so by it the worship of the true GOD is shuff­led aside: For men run sooner to Saints and Angels, then to God; and Pray more readily to the B. Virgin, then to Iesus Christ, as if the One were of easier access then the other; it is more ordinary for People, to commit them selves and theirs to the protection and guidance of some Saint, then to the ▪ providence of Al­mighty GOD; and to bid some or other Saint to be with them in their journey, and the Ma­nagement of any Business for to speed them, then to Pray as Iacob doth here, that GOD may be with them. Wherefore if the Pope were as true to God and Iesus Christ, as his Vicar and Viceg [...]rent should be, which are the tit­les he assumes to himself, he would take Care to Abolish that, which tends so much to the dishonour of GOD, and which estranges men so much from GOD; especially seing there is neither precept nor example for it, in all the Scripture. The Kings deputie is very unfaith­full, and ill worth his Trust, who sits and sees Customs introduc'd, and keept up, which tend to the dishonour of his Master, and are [Page 222] like to justle him out of His Throne.

But leaving the Worship of Saints and An­gels, we come in the next place, to con­sider their Worship of dumb Images, reliques, & particularlie the Cross, which hath not the grounds and pretences of the former Worship. They cannot say that they are Mediatours betwixt God and them, and that they may interceed in their behalf; and yet the wor­shipping of them is injoyned by the Councill of Trent, defended by their Doctours, and dayly put in practise amongst the People, which is so manifest that I need not stand now to prove it by instances. However I shall mention One concerning their devotion for the wood of the Cross; On Goodfriday, the Priest in the time of service, holds up a Cross, and saith, Ecce lignum Crucis, behold the wood of the Cross, and the People are taught to an­swer, Venite adoremus, come let us worship, and and so they pray to it, O crux ave, spes uni­ca hoc passionis tempore auge piis justitiam, reisque da veniam; Hail thou Cross, our only Hope at this time, increase the Righteousness of the Godly, and grant pardon to the Guilty. Lest any think that the Cross is used figuratively for Him who was crucified on it, the following words will re­move that suspicion sola digna fuisti, ferre secli pretium; Thou only wast worthy to bear the price, [Page 223] or Him who was the price of the World, In that English Manual (done at Edinburgh) there is a particular Office for the worshipping of the Cross, and one of the Antiphony's, is, O venerable Cross, which hath brought Salvation to wretches, by what praise shall I extol thee, for that thou hast prepared the Heavenly Life. Page 332. and the general Let any in that Office; is that GOD would deliver them, not by CHRISTS Death, or Passion, or Crucifixion, but by the Sign of the Cross. Thus as it is evident, that they worship Ima­ges, &c. so it will not be excused and justifi­ed, that they do it for the sake of what is represented by them; for as we formerly made appear, God hath absolutely discharged the use of such things in His Service & will not accept of any Worship or Honour tendred him thereby. The Images of GOD and CHRIST, should not be worshipped for themselves, for they are but the work of Mens hands; nor yet for their sake whom they re­present, seing they have forbidden it: and the Images of Saints should far less be wor­shipped, seing it is not Lawfull to Worship the Saints themselves, as we have made out; and therefore the Homage which the Pa­pists pay to Images, Crucifixes, &c. cannot be acquitted of Idolatry: How much the Hea­thens are accused of Idolatry in the Scripture [Page 224] for the usage and worshipping of Images, is known to all who read these holy Books? And if there was Reason to fix this Guilt upon the Heathens, there is no less Reason to leave it at the Papists door; seeing their use of Ima­ges, now is little or nothing different from the Customs and Practices of the ancient Hea­thens, as might be easily made appear, could we allow our selves to pursue every thing at full length. But as we said of the Saints and Angel-worship, that it was no­thing but a transcript of the Heathen Demon Wor­ship; so who are pleased to compare them to­gether, shall find the Religious use and Ob­servance of Images among the Papists, to be a perfect imitation of the Heathen Idol-Wor­ship: for as to their Matter whereof they are made, it is the same, to wit, Stone, Wood, Brass, Gold, Silver, &c. as to their qualitie they are not different, both the one and the other being dumb and senseless, having mouths which speak not, eyes which see not, and hands and feet, which can neither handle nor walk. Nay in many places the Images honoured by the Papists, are the very same which the Heathens used, only the name is changed, thus it is said, that in the Vatican Church at Rome, the Image of Jupiter Capitolinus, stands this day for St. Peter; onely they have taken [Page 225] away the Thunder-bolt, and instead thereof have put the Keyes in his hand: but it may be easily discerned to be Iupiter, because of his long thick and curl'd hair, whereas all the o­ther Images of St. Peter are made bald. And at Bordeaux, in the Metrapolitan Church of St. Andrews, an Antick of Iupiter going up to Heaven upon an Eagle, served sometimes to represent Iesus Christ ascending up to the Heavens; And who doubts, but the same thing may have happened in diverse places? However the Papists agree with the Heathens, as to the Ceremonies and externall Acts of Adoration payed to Images; they cloathed, and decked and perfumed them; they kiss'd them, pro­strated themselves before them, burnt Incense and lighted Candles to them, and carried them in Pompous processions, all which the Papists do: * yea some not onlySee Iur: prej. cont. papisme. Protestant-writers, but of their own, undertake to prove, that the Super­stition of the Heathens, never carried them so far towards the honouring of Images as the Papists have gone: And certainly, nothing can be brought in defence of the Papists, which may not as well be alledged for the Heathens: Nay except some few logical distinctions, which prove very frivolous, all the specious pretexts which the Papists make, for justifying their [Page 226] Practice, are to be found in the Apologies of the Heathens. Do the Papists say, that their Wor­ship terminats not in the Image it self, but is car­ried by it to what is thereby represented? the Heathens said the same. Do the Papists say, that they use Images only, to remember them of the Invisible objects of their Worship? So did the Heathen as appears from Maximus Tyrius, and some others. Are the Heathens taxed with a gross conceit, that the Gods inhabited their Ima­ges and that some divinity resided in them? The Papists entertain the same fancy of theirs, at least a great part of the Vulgar do, else what means the high esteem of one Image of the same Person above another? Why are te­dious Pilgrimages undertaken, to visit the Ima­ges of the Virgin, or some other Saint in such and such places, when the Images of the same Saints are every where? How comes it that miracles, the gifts of healing, &c. Are ascrib­ed to Images, if they do not think that there be something of Divinity in them? There­fore the Papists opinions and practices anent Ima­ges, are one and the same with the Heathens, for which they are accounted Idolaters in Scripture: and consequently all subtilties of the Roman Doctors, will not free their Church, from this horrid and provoking crime. And as both rea­son and Scripture declare against them, so [Page 227] they cannot plead here the practice of the Ancient Church; for nothing is more mani­fest, then that the Primitive Church abstained from the very appearance of this Idolatry and Superstition, so far were they from practis­ing it, witness that known Fact of Epiphanius Bishop of Salamine in Cyprus, in tearing a Linnen cloath whereon the Image of Christ was painted, which he found in the Church, lest it should be an occasion of Idolatry to the People, this was about the end of the fourth Century; And about the sixth, Serenus Bishop of Massile brake to pieces all the Images of CHRIST and Saints, which were in the City, fearing the People who were then Declining from the Purity of the Christian Religion, should be drawn to wor­ship them. And that the worship of them, was not at that time Publickly allowed, nor brought into the Church, appears clearly from Gregory the first his Letter to the said Bishop, wherein he hath these words, that thou didst forbid Images to be Worshipped, we praise altogether, but that thou brakest them we blame; who would be fu [...]ther instructed in the Judgement of the Fathers, in this point of Image-Worship, let them read the English Homilies, where also they will clearly [Page 228] see, the great Disagrement betwixt the pre­sent Church of Rome, and the Primitive Church for hundreds of years, so little Reason have they to plead Antiquity.

But though all should be admitted which the Papists say, for their Vindication in wor­shipping Angels, Saints and Images; yet this would not free them altogether from Idolatry so long as they Worship the Host, or Consecrated Bread: For though there were no o­ther Reason to tax them with this Crime, yet this were sufficient, which we come now in the last place to speak to; And the rather, because they go not about to excuse this, nor do they collour it with subtile Glosses, as in former Instances: they do not cry out, that they are wrong'd and calumniat, when they are said to worship the Host, for they publick­ly allow it, and the Council of Trent hath pro­nounced an Anathema upon all who do not think the same Worship due to GOD, ought to be payed to this Sacramental Bread. That whereon the worship of the Host is foun­ded, is the Doctrine of Transubstantiation, or a total Conversion of the Bread into the Body and Blood of the Lord IESUS CHRIST; and therefore if this Doctrine be taken away, or shew'd unsufficient it will clearly appear, that they are guilty of Idolatry, as some of [Page 229] themselves plainly acknowledge.

Now as to the Doctrine of Transubstantiation, it cannot be expected that we should here treat of it fully and particularly, for this would carrie us too far from the design of this Present Treatise, and make it swell too bigg. All we shall say at present, is that there is no Evidence for it, no Ground to believe it, and consequently no Reason for establishing this Worship, which they make to follow upon it. If we examine the seve­ral ways, by which we come to know and to be assured of any thing; it will easily appear that there is no Evidence for Tran­substantiation, no Ground to believe that the Host is the real Body and Blood of JESUS CHRIST. All things are Manifest to us, either by Sense, or Reason, or Revelation, and what appears by none of these, is a groundless conceit, a Fantastick Opinion, which ought not be made the Foundation of any Re­ligious observance, and such will the Doctrine of Transubstantiation be found to be: For first if we examine our Senses, and believe their Testimonie: there is no Transubstantia­tion, but the Bread continues Bread after con­secration; the Figure, Shape, Cllour, smell and Taste, are the same were before; and if it be keept any while it moulds and corrupts as [Page 230] Bread, so that to the appearance of Sense there is nothing but Bread. And if we have recourse to Reason, it will not contra­dict, but confirm the Testimony of our Sense: And farther shew what an absurdity it is to think otherwayes: because it would, quite destroy the Nature and Properties of Bodies, if the Body and Blood of IESUS CHRIST were in the Host; For then it would follow that one body might be in Diverse places at once, that Matter might be without Extension, that the Accidents, Effects and Properties of a Body may remain when the Body it self is destroyed, and such like absurdities; Thus Transubstantiation is founded, neither upon Sense nor Reason but is contrare to both. And therefore if there be any such thing, it must appear by Revelation, but it will appear as little this way, as any other: for there is no Revelation to be trusted, but what is set down in the Scripture, and they are altogether silent. What ever was the oc­casion of this Doctrine, sure the Scripture was not, for it is not plainly asserted, nor is it to be deduced from clear or Positive Truths. Nay the Scripture gives so little ground to fancie this, that on the contrarie, it speak so of this Sacrament as may assure us there is no such thing as the Papists dream: [Page 231] for it calls it Bread, both before and after its Consecration, and the usuall Phrase for the celebration of this Sacrament, is in Scripture, the breaking of Bread, which would have been a very mean expression if the Bread were turned to the Body of IESUS CHRIST. The pretext for Transubstantiation, from Scripture, are these words, this is my Body, which in Truth when considered are no Pretext at all; because none but such as are Prepossest with the Fancy, could under­stand that to be the Meaning of them: such a Mystery and Miracle as Transubstantiation is, had need to have been asserted more plainly and clearly, that is to say in Terms which do more necessarly import it. The Disciples who used frequently to trouble our LORD, about the meaning of His Words, and to raise Scruples when he spoke of things far more Credible, it is not likely that they would have let this go, if they had under­stood him as the Papists do; if they had so taken him up, as to think that he said, what He Reached, and what they Receiv­ed, and Eat, was not real Bread, but that same real Body which was before their eyes, they would no doubt enquired farther into the matter, and asked how such a thing could be? But having a little before, in the Ce­lebration [Page 232] of the Passover, heard our LORD say of the unleavened Bread, according to the Iewish custom, this is the Bread of Affliction which our Fathers eat in Egypt, they could not understand the Bread now distribut, to be his Body otherways, then the unleavened Bread was the Bread which their Fathers eat in Egypt, to wit, not the same reallie, but only the Symbol or Memorial thereof.

Thus it appears that the Doctrine of Tran­substantiation, is a meer groundless Conceit, favoured neither by Sense, nor by Reason, nor Scripture, but flatly opposed by all of them: And so though the Bread in the Sa­crament, be Consecrat to an Holy use, and though it serve for Holy ends and Purposes, yet as to its Nature and Substance it is still Bread, and therefore who worship it, wor­ship not GOD, but a Creature, and a dumb Senseless Creature of it self too, which is as gross Idolatry as any can be. Neither will it excuse them, that they think it to be him who is their GOD: for then all Idolatry should be excusable, he who Worships the Sun should be excused if he fancied a Deitie therein; Mens Opinions will not alter the Nature of things, nor make that Justifiable which is of it self Damnable, otherways the greatest Crimes may prove no Crimes. Nor [Page 233] will it acquit the Papists of Idolatry in wor­shipping the Host, that they intend therein to worship JESUS CHRIST, seing their Worship is directed immediatly to another thing; otherwayes the Israelites, who wor­shipped the Golden calf, might upon the same account be freed of Idolatry. And yet the Papists in worshipping the Sacramental Bread, are more gross then the Israelites in worshipping the Golden calf: For they made not the Calf their GOD, neither did they terminat their worship in the Calf it self, but used it only as the means of conveying their Worship to the true GOD. Whereas the Papists believe the Bread in the Sacrament, to be the very LORD IESUS CHRIST himself, and do terminat their Worship in the very Sacrament it self. Then which I hardly think there can be a grosser instance of Idolatry produced from among the Hea­thens whither Ancient or Modern: ‘If saith Coster, a Popish-Writter, the See Stil­ling: Idolat? Doctrine of Transubstantiation be not true, the Idolatry of the Heathens in Worshipping some Golden or Silver statue, or any Image of their Gods, or the Laplanders Worshipping a red cloath, or the Egyptians an Animal, is more excusable then that of Christians Worshiping a bit of [Page 234] bread.’ And another of them saith, that if there be nothing but bread in the Eucharist, they are all Idolaters. Thus they confess, that it is the Supposition of Transubstantiation only, which can vindicat them from the grossest Idolatry: but that there is no such thing to be supposed, we have already proved, and they who will needs believe a thing not only without all ground, but contrarie to all E­vidence of Sense, Reason and Scripture, their Errour is wilfull, and neither is it to be ex­cused, nor the Practises which they build thereupon to be Extenuated. And it will be to little purpose here, to have recourse to the Fathers for the Defence of this Opi­nion; for first, we are not obliedged to be­lieve any of them contrary to Sense, Rea­son and Scripture. And secondly, it hath been frequently shewed that they say no such thing, for untill about the Eight or Ninth Century this Opinion did not creep into the Church, it only entered in with the Worship of Images, for which among several others, see a late discourse of Transubstantiation.

But though there were ground for the Doctrine of Transubstantiation, and that CHRIST should be really in the Sacra­ment, as the Papists imagine; yet according to their Principles, it is scarce possible, yea I may say altogether impossible, to know [Page 235] certainly, or to have any assurance, when the Bread is truly Transubstantiated, or that CHRIST is Really in the Sacrament: and there­fore who Adore it run alwayes the Hazard of committing the grossest Idolatry, which is the most Heinous of Crimes. According to the Principles of the Romish Church, there can be no Transubstantiation, if the Elements be not prepared of due matter, viz. The Bread of true Wheat, and the Wine of ripe Grapes, and neither of them any wayes spoiled or corrupted; if the Priest who Cele­brats, be not a true Priest, that is to say, Rightly ordained, and according to them, a great many things are requisite to make ones Ordination valid, and it is not possible to know when they are wanting or when they are present, but thought he should be a True Priest, yet if he intend not seriously the Consecration of the Sacrament, or doth not pronounce the words, or doth not pro­nounce them right, but doth either mangle or transpose them, in all these cases, there is no Transubstantiation, neither is there any dif­ference betwixt the Elements of Bread and Wine which seems to be consecrat, and common Bread and Wine. And therefore it is impos­sible to know, when the Bread is Transubstan­tiated, or when not, when CHRIST is really [Page 236] present, and when he is absent; for it is one to an hundred, but some one or other of these necessarie conditions of a right Consecration is wanting; and therefore also who adore the Sacrament; can never be certain that they a­dore JESUS CHRIST really, but instead of him, may be paying Divine worship to a meer creature, to lifeless Bread and Wine, which may perplex the minds and conscien­ces of such as seriously consider the hei­nousness of the crime of Idolatry. To evade this Difficultie, they tell us that the Adorati­on of the Sacrament is always with the suppositi­on of Christ's presence, that they adore the Bread upon this condition, that it is the Body of IESUS CHRIST: But this is a sillie evasi­on, and will never free their Church of Idola­try; for it is only Doctours or the Learned who may use these subtilties; as for the Vulgar they do not make any such supposition, nor do they worship the Sacrament with any such salvo. And besides, both the One and the Other pay the same Adoration when it is no Sacrament, as when it is: for without any scruple, they worship alwayes and every where the Bread which is pretended to be Consecration, when it is certain some­times, nay oftimes, it is not Transubstantiated into the Body and Blood of JESUS CHRIST, because of the want of those necessary con­ditions [Page 237] which infer that change. And when it is but simple Bread, will it take off the guilt of Idolatry, to say, I worship thee if thou art CHRIST? Which is, as if a Woman should pretend to excuse her Adultery, by saying when she admitted a stranger, I do this if thou art mine Husband. A woman is not honest and faithfull, if she embrace another upon light pretences and appearances; she should be alwayes certain, that he is her real Husband to whom she payes the duty of a wife: in like manner, none are faithfull to God, who throw away the worship due to him only, upon uncertain objects. He is a jealous GOD, as jealous of his glory as any earthly Husband is of his honour, and therefore will never be pleased with us, if we worship rashly, when we are not sure that it is him we worship. Thus though it were granted, that the Bread and Wine should be turned into the Body and Bloud of Iesus Christ, yet seing it is so uncer­tain when it is de facto thus turned, it is much safer not to worship then to worship: because there is no crime in not worshipping, but by worshipping we may run the hazard of Ido­latry. No King would find fault with one that were blind or half blind, for not falling down and paying homage to him, when he were Ignorant of his presence. But if such a [Page 238] one, upon presumption of the King's presence should prostrat himself before the empty Chair of State, or mistake a Courteour for the King, and accoast him with all the Titles of Soveraignity, and pay him all the respect pro­per to Kings, both he should render him­self ridiculous in the sight of all, and also what he did would be altogether vain and unprofitable; for it would find no acceptance with the King, nay would very readily dis­please and incense him, because it would imply that the Majesty of the King, were as much to be seen in others as in him­self. The case is the same in the Sacrament which any one may easily apply.

But lastly, we shall suppose in general, that the doctrine of Transubstantiation is true, and also in particular, that the Sacrament it self is duely consecrat, so that the Bread and Wine is actually transubstantiated into the Body and Bloud of Iesus Christ: yet it will not from hence follow, that the Sacrament is to be a­dored, for which there is neither precept nor example in all Scripture. Our Saviour did not enjoyn it himself, nor yet the Apostles af­ter him, neither did they look upon them­selves as oblidged to this, for we read that at the first institution of the Sacrament, they re­ceived it in the same manner they did their o­ther [Page 239] common Meals. And we cannot conclude that the Eucharist should or may be adored, because it is said, this is my Body, even under­standing the words literally: for if this reason hold good, it would follow that all things might be adored. The body of Iesus Christ is only the object of adoration, because of its uni­on with the God-head; wherefore if we may worship the Sacrament, because it contains that which is united to the divine nature, we may and also ought to worship every other thing where the essence of God is; and therefore e­very Stone, and Tree, and Animal, all Animat and Inanimat Creatures, should be worshipped, for God is in them all. But to worship God in and by the Creature is flat Idolatry. God is not to be worshipped with a particular reve­rence to any thing, but either when it is ex­presly commanded, or when he sheweth there visible rayes of Majesty and Glory, and even then we are not to worship the thing it self, but God who sheweth himself thus present at it, as the Israelites worshipped not the Ark, but toward the Ark, and as Moses worshipped God who manifested himself in the burning bush, but not the bush it self. But where God or Christ is not present by such visible rayes of Majesty, there worship should not be payed; we are sure Christ dwelleth in all the faithfull, but I hope [Page 238] [...] [Page 239] [...] [Page 240] none will say, that every believer should be wor­shipped: so though Christ should be really present in the Sacrament, yet it will not fol­low that the Elements whereof it is constitute should be adored, no more then the Manger wherein Christ lay, or the Cloaths which cover­ed his Body and therefore the Papists who a­dore the Sacrament it self, that which they see, feel, and taste with their bodily senses, they adore the creature with the Creator, and com­mit as great absurdity, that is to say, as gross Idolatry, as they who should have ador'd Christ's garments, as well as his person.

Thus whatever way we consider the Sa­crament, and the words of its institution, whi­ther we take them Figuratively (as certainly they should,) or even Literally, as the Papists would be at, it is clear that the Sacrament is no object of adoration, and they who religious adore it, do service to that which by nature is no God, which is down right Idola­try. And as the Papists are most unreason­able, in looking upon the Sacrament as a due object of Adoration, and by entertaining no less esteem of it then they do of JESUS CHRIST himself; so they commit gross ab­surdity, and are guilty of unaccountable stupidity in eating, chewing, and digesting; and consequently letting forth to the draught [Page 241] what they have such a high Opinion of; to believe it to be no less then the GOD whom they should adore, and yet at the same time to treat it thus seems most disagreeable and inconsistant: For this is both to elevat and to depress it, to raise it as high as is possible; and at the same time to debase it as much as can be. Adoration is the highest honour which can be payed, but it speaks out the greatest contempt of a thing, to eat and devour it. Wherefore I think it would be very agreeable to the tenets of the Ro­mish Church, that the Pope should interpose his Authority to discharge people to treat the Lord Iesus Christ as they do common food, which is to put upon him the greatest indignity. 'Tis true, Christ hath said, take eat this, but that needs be no hinderance to the Pope to enjoya the contrary, who pretends to have power to alter and dispence with Divine Commands: Christ said of the Cup too, drink ye all of it, and yet this hath not hindred the Pope to take it away from the People; and there can­not be alledg'd greater inconveniences in giv­ing the Cup, then in giving the Bread to be eaten and chew'd. If the People saw the Host only in the Priests hands, when it is ele­vat; their respect and esteem thereto might be the more easily keept up: but nothing [Page 242] may occasion more the vilifying thereof, then the allowing them Liberty to use it as they do the most Despicable food. It is said, that GOD commanded the Israelites, to eat what was usuallie adored in Egypt, that the Egyptians thereby might be undeceived in their Opinion of the Deity of these things: And if it may convince one, that a thing is no God, when he sees it eaten by another: how much more may he be reasoned out of that Belief, when he is accustomed to eat it himself; For as the Heathen Oratour speaks, is any man so mad as to believe that which he eats to be God. The Church of Rome therefore should either let go the Doctrine of Transubstantiation, or they should abolish the Custome of Feeding upon what, they say and profess to believe, to be changed into the Body of their LORD: for these two seems not to agree well together. There can be nothing more brutish then to adore what they eat, and to eat what they adore, whereby they make themselves and their Religion lyable to the greatest contempt and Derision. A proof of which we have in that known speech of Averoes the Arabian Philosopher, I have travelled, says he, over the World, and have found diverse Sects, but so sottish a Sect, or Law, I▪never found, as is the Sect of the Christians; Because with their own Teeth [Page 243] they devour their God whom they Worship.

By these Instances which we have adduced, the Idolatry of the Church of Rome, doth clearly appear; it is evident that that Church both teacheth to adore as GOD what is not GOD, and also alloweth to have Compart­ners in the Worship of the True GOD: Which we have the longer insisted on, both because it was pertinent to our subject, and also seasonable to the times, when Rome is likelie to be so active by its Emissaries, to re-e­stablish its Authority among us, and that so many fair and plausible things are pretended for the inclining Men to embrace its principles and practices: but whatever specious pretncees be used, we may see by what hath been said, that there is all reason to avoid the communion of that Church, whose communion can­not be keept, without drawing on our selves the guilt of Idolatry, and the having accession thereto in others.

Now that we may draw to a Conclusion of this Section; seing the Knowledge and Wor­ship of the True GOD is so necessary, and that all Worship is in vain which is not par­ticularly directed to Him, what matter of Thankfulness have we that our Lot hath been in these Times, and in these places where we may so easily come to the Knowledge of the [Page 244] true GOD, and what way to find acceptance in his sight. If we had been born in former Times, or in many other Places of the World, we might have remained for ever without the true knowledge of GOD, and so without all Hopes of true Felicity. It was once matter of Praise to a Poor-man, when he passed by a Toad, or some other Venemous Creature, that GOD had made him a Man, and not so Vile a Beast: But truly it should stir up greater Thankfulness in us, that GOD hath not left us to wander after the Foolish and Ignorant Devices of our own Hearts, nor to be involved into the Idolatrous Abominations of such as know not GOD, which should have Deformed and Debased our Natures, and rendred us more ugly and loathsome in the sight of GOD, then such Vile creatures are in our sight. Blessed be GOD, who hath sent us the Light of the Gospel, which hath dispelled the Darkness of Heathenish superstition and Idolatry, and drawn us from the Service of those who by Nature are no gods, which could have been no wayes Profitable to us, but many wayes Hurtfull. This is a Blessing for which we can never be enough Thankfull, and if we have a right Sense thereof we will value it above all Bles­sings. Many Heathens and Infidels indeed [Page 245] enjoy a Pleasanter soil, their Countrey per­haps affoords them rich Mines of Gold and Silver, and aboundance of Wines and Spices, which we want: But yet we have no rea­son to envy them upon that account, or to think them happier then we, seing we have that which brings us better then a Tem­poral Happiness, even Eternal Life: for this is Life Eternal, that they might know thee, the only true GOD, and Iesus Christ whom thou hast sent; Iohn 17: 3.

Now if we look upon this Knowledge of the true GOD as any Happiness, let us Praise and Highly esteem it and testifie the same, first, by taking a care to get and to keep this Knowledge: for they slight and despise a thing who are careless of it, and readie to prefer any other thing to it. It might have been expected, that there should have been no need, of exhorting People to seek after the knowledge of GOD; but that ere this time, every one both Old and Young, Great and Small would have abundantly known Him, seing we have so many good Occa­sions of acquiring this Knowledge; But alas! the contrary is very much to be seen, our knowledge of God is not answer­able to the means of instruction, we have a­mongst us, some can give so little account [Page 246] of what is known of God either by Nature or Revelation, that one might imagine they had been alwayes tedder'd in the deserts of Arabia, and not bred up in the green Pastures of Brittain. There is generally gross igno­rance of God, and little desire to know him; every thing even the most trifling shufles aside, and diverts from the knowledge of GOD, and all things are hotly pursued ex­cept this, which (though People will not a­vow it, yet) do speak out a contempt and un­dervaluing thereof. The Prophet tells us, that God had a controversie with Israel, because there was not knowledge of God in the Land; Hos: 4: 1. and surely we have reason to think, that his controversie with us will be no lesse, seeing besides our lake of this knowledge, we do but despise it, in that we neither much desire it nor endeavour after it. God hath given clear manifestations of himself, but some will not believe them, and others are care­less to be acquainted with them, loving dark­ness rather then light, which in Truth is to love their Mi [...]ery, rather then their Happiness: For certainly this inner darkness of the Mind will bring on outer and Eternall darkness; who are without the knowledge of God here, shall be debarred His presence hereafter, especially considering that their ignorance is wilfull and without excuse.

[Page 247] 2ly. As we ought to shew our regard for, and estimation of the True GOD, by taking care to get and maintain the same, so like­wise by walking worthy of it, in studying to Glorifie Him whom we thus profess to know, otherwayes we shall but make our guilt and condemnation the greater. It will not avail us much to profess GOD with our Mouths, if we deny him by our works; to acknowledge him with our tongues, but not with our deeds and actions; if our knowledge of God doth not lead and excite us to the honouring of him, it will prove much to our hurt and dammage; as we may learn from, Rom: 1. where we see, what plagues and judgements God gave them up to, who when they knew God, did not glorifie him as God, neither were thankful. It is said, he gave them up to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient, that they all might be d [...]mn'd who believed not the truth, but had plea­sure in unrighteousnes [...], as we have it; 2Thes: 2. 12 Seing therefore we have found out the True GOD, and that he hath revealed himself to us, let us not slight or neglect him, and be careless to please him, But let us with all Readiness and Cheerfulness, pay that Homage, Worship and Service which is due unto him. To shew which, was the third Particular we promised to speak to, and [Page 248] we shall treat thereof in the following Secti­ons.

SECTION IV. Shewing what Worship and Service is due to GOD, and how we may come to know the same.

THE Knowledge of this is most neces­sarie, for it is not enough that we find out who is the True GOD, un­less we also own and acknowledge him, which is not done unless we pay him that Ho­mage and Worship which is due unto Him: For as He is our Master whom we serve and O­bey, and as He is our Soveragin to whom we swear Loyalty, and pay the proper Acts of allegiance, so He is our GOD to whom we give the Worship due to GOD, which can never be rightly performed, unless we know well what it is.

Now to find out this, we must proceed Warrily and take right Measures, other­ways we cannot choose but fall into gross Mis­takes, we ought not to follow at random, the Devices and Imaginations of our own Hearts; for what pleaseth us may Displease GOD, & be unsuitable to his Majesty, and im­proper [Page 249] for the advancing his Honour and Glory. Nor will it justifie and warrand any way of Worshipping GOD, that the same is observed by others: for whither we view the old, or the present World, we shall find that the gene­rality of man-kind, have deviated much from the true way of worshipping God; they have set up various forms of Religion and Worship, which are not acceptable to God, because in modelling these, they have studied more their own several humours and dispositions, then what was proper in it self, or sutable to the Di­vine Majesty. Thus for example, the manner after which the Heathens worshipped God, was an abomination unto him; for how could he who is a spirit, be but displeased with empty out­ward shewes, with sensless insignificant actions? How could it but offend his unspoted puritie, to be worshipped by debauchery, and acts of filthiness and impurity? How odious to his in­finite wisdom, that Foolish and ridiculous Gestures should be thought his Honour and delight? and how unsutable to his goodness and mercy, to be courted with Cruelty and Barbarity? As Lucian saith, they rather de­serve the name of Impious then Religious, who think God takes pleasure to be worshipped after that manner. The practices of the Heathen in their Worship, destroy the very Ide [...] of GOD, and [Page 250] chock these Sentiments of him which we have by Nature: for they were the occasion of these Poetical fables, which made their Gods guilty of theft, murder, adultery, and the like vices; which Fables were again necessarly keept up, that they might the better de­fend and support that Foolish and unreason­able Worship, which was so far from hold­ing forth the Glory of GOD, that it did only serve to beget mean and unworthy thoughts of him.

The practices of men therefore, is a very uncertain rule to walk by, as well as our own Fancy; and seing men have differed about nothing more, then the way and manner of worshipping GOD, it would be a tedious task to examine their various sentiments. The surest and nearest way, to be informed where­in the true and acceptable Worship of God con­sists, is to apply our selves to the considera­tion of the Divine Nature, and [...]o search out his will and pleasure concerning us: for as when we are about to make presents, and to offer gifts, we do not so much consider what we our selves would be taken with, as what will be gratefull and acceptable to the person whose favour we are seeking; so the worship of God being design'd to please him, we ought [Page 251] not to seek therein the satisfaction of our own humors & inclinations, as what will find acceptance in his sight. And nothing will find acceptance with him, but what is agreeable to his Nature, conform to his will, and which doth properly express the glory of his Attributes and perfections; So none can shew us these things but God, and if he doe not declare them, we cannot be sure not to erre: an expresse particular Revelation therefore is ne­cessary to determine the Worship of God; for who besides himself should presume to order it? It is our part to set about the service of God, but it belongs to him only to prescribe it.

'Tis true something of GOD'S mind and will, and consequently part of his true Wor­ship, may be learn'd by Natural light; for the will of GOD is founded upon his Nature, which never varies, but is still the same: Wherefore a due and serious consideration, of the Divine Nature and Attributes, might bring us to the knowledge of His will, and of what is acceptable to him: the Dictates also of Rea­son and Conscience being from GOD, they do teach us his Will. But though Natural light may thus teach us part, yet it can not shew all that is necessary; it is good and usefull so far, and ought not to be slighted, but it [Page 252] is not full or sufficient, neither so very cer­tain now, by Reason of that darknesse which Sin hath raised, which is too thick to be dispelled by Natural Light: yea, Sin hath so mingled it self with our very Nature and Constitution, that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish betwixt the Dictates of right Rea­son and Conscience, and the erroneous sentiments of that Sinfull contagion. And farther, seing wee have not kept our First state, but are be­come Sinners, some other Homage and Worship is requisite then if it had not been so: For it is not Reasonable, to think that such as have offended GOD should do no more, then if they had still retained their upright­nesse; another acknowledgement is due from Traitors and Rebels, then from these who have been always Loyal, els it will not be accepted. But what Homage Sinners should pay, or how they should Address themselves to GOD, cannot be known, unlesse he declare it: Natural Reason doth not teach this, for though it were cleared of its present incumbrances, it is only adapted to the State in which we were Created, that is a State of Innocency, and doth not serve to di­rect our behaviour if we fall from that state. Thus it is evident that some new Revelation is necessary to be superadded to natural Light [Page 253] both to confirm it and to supply its defects.

And what was thus necessary, GOD hath not withholden from Men; but as he made Particular Manifestations of himself to distinguish himself from the False Deities which Men had devised, as was shewed above: So he hath given expresse Revelation of his Mind, concerning the way how he will be Worshipped; that Men may not be to seeke herein, nor yet make an offer of what is Abominable in his Sight. The Wor­ship of GOD is not now left to Mens uncer­tain conjectures, and unless they be Perverse and Obstinate, they need not perplex their Minds long with such enquiries, wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow my self before the high GOD? Shall I come before him with burnt offering, with Calves of a year old; if we be truely Serious we may soon come to a resolution, for as Micah saith. He hath shewed thee, O man what is good, and what the Lord do inquire of thee. He hath giv­en a sure, plain, and fixed rule, which to use the words of Moses, is not hidden from thee neither is it far of, it is not in Heaven that thou shouldest say, who shal go up for us to learn and bring it unto us, that we may hear it and doe it. Neither is it beyond the Sea, that thou shouldest say who shall go over the Sea for us, and bring it [Page 254] unto us, that we may hear it and do it; but the Word is very nigh unto thee, in thy Mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest doe it; Deut: 30. 11.

The holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testa­ment are the Word of God, as is witnessed by the Divine Testimonies, of Miracles, Prophe­cies, and the like; which could only come from God: who ever also considers impar­tially and attenti [...]ely the Matter of them, and Manner of expression, cannot but ac­knowledge they are of Divine Inspiration. For as to their matter, they both teach things not discernable by naturall light; and also the dictates of human reason, could not be so purely and with such evidence held forth by any meer man, sure all the writings of the Philoso­phers come farr short of them, even in this particular: and as to their Style and expression it is so fitted to teach men, and yet at the same time so becoming God, and so sutable to the divine Majesty, that the Spirit of God only could joyne these two together, and it is impossible for the Greatest Master of Eloquency to counterfeit them: So that there be many evidences of the Scriptures being from God, and as they are his word, so the Designe of them is to direct us in the Worship of GOD, and to prescribe that Service which is due to him, and will be accepted [Page 255] by him. Wherefore who would be infor­med of the true Worship of GOD, ought to consult these Holy books, especially the N. T. even as a Subject to know his Devoir to his Soveragine, would do best to consult the pub­lick acts and statutes of the Kingdom; and who would Worship GOD acceptably must do it according to the direction of the Scrip­tures, as he who would shew himself a Loy­al and dutifull Subject, must doe it by a care­ful observance of the Laws and Statutes of his Prince.

Some will be ready to ask here wither any service will be acceptable, besides what is enjoyned in the Scripture; which I shall stu­dy to answer plainly and in few words. First it is certain that it is not lawfull to ex­change the divine appointments with our own di­vices; for nothing which we can doe will ex­cuse the neglect of Commanded duties, nor will be received in compensation of them: we then truly adore GOD and own him, when we heartily and readily comply with his ho­ly will and pleasure and as this will please him better then an Ox, or Bullock, that hath horns and hoofs, yea better then thousands of oblations and burnt offerings, so though we would doe never so much or so many things it would not please him if that were left un­done, [Page 256] as Samuel said to Saul, hath the Lord as great pleasure in Sacrifices and burnt offerings as in obeying the voice of the Lord; behold to obey is better then Sacrifice, and to hearken then the fat of Lambs; [...] Sam. 15. 22.

Secondly, if we make the acts of Religion and Devotion which are of our own Devising of equall weight, and value with what is Commanded, they are Abominable Supersti­tion. But Thirdly, if these two be garded against, it cannot be said to be unlawfull or displeasing to GOD, to do things not ex­pressely or particularly enjoined, especially if the end and Reason of doing them, be mainly to help forward that Service which is enjoined. This matter will be farther clear­ed by the following Example, if some Capri­cious and Conceited Person should either coun­teract or slight the established Statutes of the King, and resolve to expresse His Loyalty by new ways of his own, it is evident that he would not find acceptance with the King, though his aime be good: But on the other hand, if one duely observe the King's laws and pay the Homage required, and more­over out of the greatness of his Affection will doe more or something else, then what by the Lawes he is tyed to, the King will not be displeased with him, yea cannot but highly [Page 257] favour him. The very same may be said to the present question, only there is this diffe­rence, that all humane laws are imperfect, so that a Man may out-doe them, his Actions of­ten may be better then the Law, by which he may pretend to merit at the King's hand: but the Law of God is most perfect and reach­eth to all things good and commendable either in themselves or in Order to other things; and none have Reason to plead Merit be­fore GOD upon the account of any thing they doe, For their Actions which are commanded fall short of the Perfection re­quired, and if they do any thing not ex­presly or particularly required, if it be Good or Usefull any wise, it comes under some general Command, if it be not Good and Usefull, it is but a vain and unreasonable service, which GOD doth not value or re­gard.

Thus having shewed, that GOD hath pre­scrib'd the Worship he would have in the holy Scri­ptures, and that they do not worship in an ac­ceptable manner, who do it not as they are there directed: It comes next to be considered, what that Worship is which is there required, & by which we testify that we own the true GOD to be our God. Now in discoursing hereof, we shall begin with that which indeed must [Page 258] have the first place in our Addresses to God, viz. Faith in Iesus Christ, both as he is a Me­diator, and a Propitiation for sin. Without this the Scripture tells us, it is impossible to please God; Heb: 11. 6. And the reason thereof is clear, for seing we have offended God, and thereby made him our enemy, it is necessa­ry that our peace be first made, before either our Persons or Actions can find Favour in his Eyes: and there can be no peace without the Mediation and Intercession of some third Person. When Parties treat together immediately by themselves, it speaks out an equality; and so t'would savour of great Arrogancy in us to presume to draw near of our selves, the infi­nite distance betwixt God and us, makes it ab­solutely necessary that there be some Dayes-Man; and not to acknowledge the necessity of such an one is to do a dishonour to the Divine Majesty. Nw Iesus Christ is a Mediatour, and there is none other, by him we have accesse to God, but without him there is none; I am, saith he, the way, the truth and the life, no man cometh to the Father but by Me; Iohn 14. 6. There is not Salvation, saith St. Peter, in any other, for there is none other Name under Heaven given a­mong Men whereby we must be saved. Acts 4. 12 When ever therefore we present our selves before God, it ought to be in the Name of Christ, [Page 259] and all our services ought to be tendred in and by him; according to that of St. Paul, whatso­ever ye do in word or deed, do all in the Name of the Lord Iesus, giving Thanks to God and the Fa­ther by Him. Col: 3. 17. for what is not done thus by Faith in Christ, is rejected as the addresses of an irreconciled enemy which nauseat and stir up wrath: all the Sacrifices and services of Unbelievers are an abomination to God.

Therefore also, besides Faith in Christ as Mediatour, we must draw near to God, by Faith in him as the Sacrifice and great Propitiation for sin: for as the Majesty of God requireth that, so the justice of God exacteth this; it being most just and Reasonable that they who do a wrong, should both acknowledge it, and make satisfaction for it, otherwise the Injur­ed Person hath no reason to remit the wrong, or to take the Partie offending into favour. Iesus Christ hath made Satisfaction for us, by submitting Himself to the death of the Cross, because we could never have done it our selves but it remains necessary, that we by Faith give our assent to what Christ hath done in our name, and that by Faith we offer up unto God, this death of Christ, as that which is just and due to be payed unto him, for our offences and sins; for without this, what Christ hath [Page 260] done cannot be imputed to us, nor receiv'd as a satisfaction for us. For as in the case of an affront, when a third Person, understanding well all the points of Honour, is desirous to Recon­cile the Affronted and Affronter, by drawing up a writ, in which there is an ample ac­knowledgement of the fault of the one, and a sufficient Reparation of the honour of the o­ther; this Writ is only accepted and becomes satisfactory, when he who gives the affront subscribes it: but if he refuse to own and ratifie it, 'tis altogether void and null; neither is there any reparation of the honour of Him who is injured. It is Even so here, the Death of Christ is in it self a sufficient atone­ment for sin, and doeth truely repair the Di­vine honour and Authority which are affronted and injured by out sins: but it is not effe­ctuall to make our peace with God, untill we assent thereto by Faith; for untill that be done there is no actuall reparation made by us, what Christ hath done is his own deed alone, and can be reckoned ours no manner of way, and so no more valid then the Writ in the former case, which the offender neither drew up, nor yet consented to after it was drawn up. Thus it appears, how necessary Faith is in our ad­dresses to God; for as it is only for Iesus his sake and by vertue of his blood, that we ha [...] [Page 261] liberty to approach God, so it is only Faith in Him which makes him become our Advo­cate, and a Propitiation for our sins in particular; Without Faith it is impossible to remove out of the way, the wrath of God due to Sin, and the approaches of Unbeleevers will but prove their confusion and destruction.

But though Faith be necessary, yet it is not all that is necessary; it must indeed have the first place in our worship of GOD, and addresses to him; but after the acknowledgement of Faith, we ought to mind other things too, else we mangle the Service of GOD, and are very much wanting in that Worship which is due to him; As when a King to shew his clemency, hath Indemnified rebellious and Disobedient Subjects, It is their duty not only to come and lay hold on the Indemnity, and to claime his Protection and Favour and other Priviledges only by Vertue thereof: But also to return to the Loyalty and Obedience of good Subjects, and to be carefull to manifest the same by such proper acts and Services, as they have occasion of. So we are justified by faith, and have our peace with GOD through our Lord Iesus Christ; but this doth not ab­solve us from paying to GOD, what his Law and the Dignity and Excellency of his Na­ture require of us; we are rather the more [Page 262] oblidged to set about carefully, what was our duty before our revolt, and all these other services, by which it may appear that we own and acknowledge the LORD GOD. Therefore though Faith makes our way to GOD, and rendreth our Actions accep­table to him, yet will not serve insteed of all those duties we owe him.

We must first Reconcile our selves to God by Faith, and then by proper and sutable acts both of the Inward and Outward Man, endeavour to honour him, and to set forth the Glory which is Due to his Name. To worship in the General is nothing else but to make an acknowledgement of some excellency in ano­ther: Therefore the true worship of GOD, consists in a serious sense of what he is, and in giving proper & sutable expressions there­of; and seing GOD is infinitly great, and powerfull, and wise, and good, &c: We are taught by Reason and Scripture, to fear and love him above all things, to trust in him, depend upon him, to offer prayers and praises vnto him; for these Divine at­tributes of Power, Wisdom, &c: are not o­therwise glorified, nor can we any other way shew a sense of them.

But seing GOD is not only Power, Wisdom, Goodness, &c. but our Maker, Preserver, and the [Page 263] Author of all me have, therefore a ready and chearfull Obedience is due to him; And by this especially we must testify that we own & acknow­ledge him. What Obligations are on Servants to obey their Masters, Children their Parents, Subjects their King, the same and greater Obligations are upon us to obey God: And so there is nothing more evident, then that we disown and re­ject him from being our GOD, whom we refuse to obey in any thing he commands. Now all the Commands of GOD may be reduced to two sorts. First, there be some whose reason is apparent to us, such are those which are discernable by natural light, and usually called the Moral law. The ob­servance whereof is required by the very Order of Nature: for if we act rationally we ought to follow this Law as closely, as the Brute Creature do their Natural instinct. But besides the commands of this first kind, there be others Meerly Arbitrary, which God hath enjoined cheifly to hold out his abso­lute Soveraginity over us, and to prove our Subjection to him; These Divines ordinarly term Positive Precepts, and they are only known by Revelation. GOD never suffered Man to be without some command of this Nature, the Iews had many such, but Christians have few, and those few too are [Page 264] made very serviceable to the great ends of Religion, the perfection of our souls, and their Union with God. How ever though 'twere o­therwise, they ought to be observed, if we would have it appear, that we serve and Wor­ship God: for if it be a part of Divine Worship to own Gods Authority, as we have made it ap­pear, then we ought to observe positive Pre­cepts as well as the Duties of the Moral Law; seing thereby we signifie a true respect to the Authority of GOD, because there is no o­ther Reason which induceth us to such an Observance. Our chief motive to the obedience of the Moral Law, should be the Will and Au­thority of GOD, otherwise it is no Act of Reli­gious worship: but it cannot appear that our Obedience to that Law is for GOD, if we refuse to observe the positive Precepts of Scripture; for that Obedience is no true Obedience, which consider rather the Reason of the thing then the authority of the Injoyner.

Indeed if Moral and positive Duties come at any time in Competition together, then these last should give place to the first; for this is the Will of GOD according to that Rule, I will have Mercy and not Sacrifice; that is ra­ther then Sacrifice. But when there is no such Reason for suspending them, it is a great sin and contempt of GOD to slight or [Page 265] neglect them. It was by the breach of a positive precept, that our first Parents revolted from GOD, and which brought all this Masse of Sin and Misery upon Mankind; Which shews Divine Authority is affronted by small things as well as great, and that the Wrath of GOD may be provock'd by the neglect of positive Commands no lesse then of What is Moral. Wherefore they are grosely mistaken who think they are only concern'd to be what we call Moral good Men, and that it is little mat­ter whither they observe the positive Ordinances of the Scripture. He is indeed no true servant of God, nor a right Worshipper of him, who is Vicious, and whose Conversation is not Honest and Righteous, for that is a Weigh­ty matter of the Law: but neither can He be said to Worship God, who makes no Conscience of doing these Acts of Religion, which God hath been pleased to enjoyne, to shew his Authority, and to try what regard we have thereto. One may be Chaste, Temperate, Iust, Bountifull, &c: Not for God's cause, but for his own, because 'tis agreeable to his Constitution, and for his Health, Interest, Reputation &c: but who is all these, & also carefull to expresse his devo­tion, those otherwayes which are peculiar to the Scripture, gives a true proof that he owns God and doeth what he doeth only for him.

[Page 266]Thus wee have given a General View of tha [...] Worship and Service which is Due to GOD. To condescend to Particulars, and to treat of them Severally would be a tedious Taske, who are desirous must be at the pains to ga­ther them from the Scripture; and they may be much helped herein by that Excellent Book, The whole Duty of Man: But for the present we shall only speak to one or two points, which may help to a farther understanding of the Nature of Gods Worship.

SECTION V. Of the Fear of GOD.

THAT we may shew more Parti­cularlie, how and wherein GOD is to be Worshipped and Acknowledged, we shall instance, first, that of Fear. And here we shall not need to prove from Scripture, that GOD should be feared, it being so known and manifest a thing, that all who have ever acknowledged a GOD, have also Acknowledged that he ought to be feared; so that not only in Scripture, but even amongst all Nations, all Religion and Divine Worship is frequently expressed, by this one particular, he Fear of the LORD. And indeed it would [Page 241] be very strange, if any should think GOD ought not to be Feared; a greater Parodox was never vented among Men: Fear ye not Me, saith the Lord, Will ye not tremble at my Pre­sence, which have placed the sand for the bound of the Sea, by a perpetuall decree that it cannot pass it, and though the Waves thereof toss them­selves, yet can they not prevaile, though they rear yet can they not pass over it. Ier 5. 22. And again, as the same Prophet hath it, Chap. 10. 6. 7. Forasmuch as there is none like unto thee, O Lord thou art great, thy Name is great in might, who would not fear thee, O King of Nations? For to thee doth it appertain; yea it is a saying of that excellent Roman Ora­tour, quis non timeat amnia providentem, & co­gitantem, & animadvertentem, & omnia ad se pertinere putantem, curiosum & plenum negotii Deum: That is, who would not fear that GOD, who sees and takes notice of all things, so carefull and full of business as to have a Particular concern for every Action and Person in the World.

But as it is certain that GOD is to be feared, so by this we do not mean that servile and slavish fear, which makes Men only appre­hensive of the hurt and evil which GOD may do them, and which such have who consider GOD only as a Being of great Might and Power, which he useth Arbitrally, with­out [Page 268] considering that his Power is alwayes ma­naged by his Wisdom, and determined by his Goodness. This Kind of Fear ingendereth Superstition, and doth as oft avert a Man's mind from GOD as incline it to him; Plu­tarch observeth in his Treatise of Superstition, that this ordinarly turneth to Atheism, and nourisheth it. such was the Fear of the Israelites, when they saw the Lightnings and heard the thunderings from Mount Sinai, as we read Exod. 20. 18. for it is said there, when the People saw these things, they removed and stood a far off, and they said unto Moses, speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. It was this fear also, which possessed our First Parents after they had eaten the for­bidden fruit, they were afraid of God, and there­fore they hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the Garden; Gen. 3. 8. Nay, the Divels themselves are seased with this Fear, they also fear and tremble, but by doing so they do not please God, nor find any acceptance with him.

The True and Commendable fear of God is what we call a filial fear, such a fear as a Son carrieth to his Father, whom he loveth dearly, a fear which breedeth love and delight, which makes a Man to rejoyce in God and glad that he is; whereas the other fear makes one wish [Page 269] there were no God, and is inconsistent with love, and doth fill one with dread and horrour: Of which kind of Fear it is that the Apostle speaketh, when he saith, There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear, because fear hath torment, he that feareth is not made perfect in love; 1: John 4: 18.

This true Fear of GOD, is founded upon his Nature, and doth proceed from the right Knowledge of GOD, and a deep Sense of his Glorious Attributes and Perfections. Some say, Ignorance is the Mother of Devotion, But it is quite contrarie; for the more one knows of GOD, and the greater apprehensions he hath of these infinite excellencies which are in him, the more he both Fears and Loves Him, and therefore it is we find that those to whom God revealed himself most, did ever Fear him most: Abraham and Moses seemed to have had GOD in greater reverence then all other Men, because they were most in­timate with Him; and certainlie the An­gels in Heaven do yet Fear him more then any the most eminent Saint upon Earth, be­cause they see him more clearlie and know him more fully: For it is certain, the more ones worth and perfection is known it is alwayes the more valued and esteemed, and as there is no Love nor Desire of a good [Page 270] unknown, so it is a small regard which any can have to the Worth and Perfections which they are Ignorant off. Wherefore that we may be possessed with the true fear of God, it is necessary that we get the right knowledge of Him, we must learn what he is, and how great he is; we must furnish our minds with true and proper nations of his Almighty Power, his unsearchable wisdom, his infinite goodness, his unspotted holiness, his admirable greatness, his un­speakable glory, his strict and severe justice, and his Soveraign Dominion over all things; which made David to say, my flesh trembleth for fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy judgements; Psal: 119. 120. I say, we should labour to know these things, and should let them have a deep im­pression on our Spirits, and should ever bear the Sense of them about with us, or else we can never truely fear God.

And as this is the way to come to the true fear of God, so it expresseth it self alwayes in two things viz. 1. in reverence towards his Name and Person; & 2ly. in a care not to offend him.

First, if we truly fear God, we will highly honour and reverence Him, and that both in­wardly and outwardly. Inwardly, by having him in a high Esteem, and thinking upon him alwayes with a holy regard and Hum­ble Deference. When ever God comes in­to [Page 271] our mind, or that we present our selves before him, our Spirit should be struck into fear and [...]w; we should lay aside all Vanity and Lightness, and become Grave, Serious, and Composed, as is sutable to so High and Holy a presence. The serious Thoughts of God, should make us stoop and humble our selves and be very submissive; when we consider God and his Greatness, we should strip our selves of all Pride, and Self-conceit and look upon our selves, and all things else as little and inconsiderable; yea as very no­thing, for what else are we, or any Creature, nay all Creatures together when compared to God. Behold, saith the Prophet, the Nations are as the drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the Ballance: behold he taketh up the Isles as a very little thing; All Nations before him are as nothing, and they are counted to him less then nothing, and vanity; he sitteth upon the cir­cle of the Earth and the inhabitants thereof are as Grashoppers; Isai: 40, 15, 17, 22. They who are proud of themselves, or big with conceit of any other thing, do either not know God or they doe little reflect upon him: for as the lesser Stars disappear when the Sun aris­eth; and as the Diamond doth obscure with its brightness, the Peeble, and counterfeit Stones, when it is set beside them, so certainly when [Page 272] God is seriously considered and thought upon, he will make all things appear small and inconsiderable; the sense of his Greatness and Glory will cast a shadow upon the Beautie, Lustre, & Excellencie, even of the best of other things. The Right fear of GOD will not suffer him who hath it to be proud, but doth alwayes fill him with low and mean thoughts of himself, and with a high esteem of God and greater reverence for him; yea, also it maketh a Man to admire the least Act of Favour and Condescension which cometh from GOD. Thus we find Abraham humbled himself when he talked with GOD, and shewed what a high esteem he had of him, behold, saith he, Now I have taken upon me to speak unto the LORD, which am but dust and ashes; Gen 18: 27. Iob likewise when he had a clear Sight of GOD, he was base in his own eyes, behold I am vain, saith he, what shall I answer thee, I will lay my hand upon my mouth: And again, I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eyes seeth thee, wherefore I abhorre my self, and repent in dust and ashes; Iob 40, 4: 42; 5. And when David had considered the Heavens, the works of God's Fingers, the Moon, and the Stars, and was drawn by them to the consideration of of the greatness of the Maker, he presently [Page 273] looks down with contempt and disdain upon himself and all Mankind, and admires GOD'S Goodness unto them. Lord, saith he, what is Man, that thou art mindfull of him, and the Son of man, that thou visitest him? Psal. 8: 4. Thus it appears, that the fear of God doth alwayes make us to reverence and esteem him highly in our minds, and thoughts, and also to contemn and undervalue our selves, and all other things out of respect unto him.

But as we must thus reverence God Inwardly, by studying to have great & worthy thoughts of him, & mean & low thoughts of our selves, & all things besides for his cause, so we ought to shew reverence towards him Outwardly, by a Grave and Humble deportment of the Out­ward man before him: All reverence of the Divine Majestie must not be confined within us, it must sometimes appear without also, and certainly if there be much Within, there will something of it Kyth Outwardly. The In­ward Thoughts, Sentiments, and Inclinations of the Soul, are always to be discerned by the Outward behaviour; and therefore if we Inwardly fear GOD and reverence him, we will discover it both by speaking alwayes of him with great Respect and Deference; and also by such Acts and Gestures of the Body when we set about his Worship or present our selves [Page 274] before Him; as are proper to express and speak out the sense of that Infinite Dis­stance which is betwixt Him and us: And so we read that Abraham, and Moses, and David, and all the Prophets, and Servants of GOD in the Scripture, used to bow down and fall upon their Face to the Ground when they ap­peared before GOD, or that he appeared un­to them. Yea, GOD himself expresly re­quired this of Moses and Ioshua, at these Manifestations of his presence unto them, which we find, Exod. 3. 5. Iosh 5. 15. For there he commanded them, to put off their shoes from off their feet, which according to the custom of the Eastern Nations, was then a Testimonie of Respect and Reverence. And indeed seing we bear no proportion to the Greatness of God, there is nothing more Pro­per or Reasonable, then that we should Re­verence and Exalt him, by such depressing of our selves and humbling of our Bodies in his Sight. The very Angels, these Glorious Spirits, are said to vail and cover their faces when they appear before God; And how much more Reason is it, that we be abashed and humbled who dwell in houses of clay, and whose founda­tion is in the dust. Certainly if there be any Gesture or Posture more humble then ano­her, it becomes us to use it; and it doth [Page 275] bespeak little Reverence to God, to use that Gesture and Carriage, when we speak to him, or he speaks to us, which we would not make use of, but when we were conver­sing with our Equals, or Inferiours. Sitting therefore at Prayer, and having the head covered when Divine Worship is performed, are very undecent and unbecoming things. I wonder how ever this creept in, or came to be in fa­shion amongst us; and I think it yet more strange, that there should be some who take upon them to defend that which is condemned not only by the practice of all the Saints and Servants of God, we read of in Scrip­ture, but also by the Custome of all Nations whatsoever: For even the very Heathens, would account it irreverence towards their False Gods; which many Christians in this Country are not ashamed to do towards the True and Living God. What the Lord saith by the Prophet Malachy, in another case, will be very applicable here, a Son honoureth his Father, and a Servant his Master, if then I be a Father, where is my honour, and if I be a Ma­ster where is my fear: offer this now unto thy Gover­nour, will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy Per­son, saith the Lord of Hosts? Mal: 1. 6. 8. Nay, to pass Kings and Princes, and those of the best quality, even the meaner sort of Gentlemen, [Page 276] would look upon themselves, as affronted and uncivilly Treated, if they had not great­er respect payed them, then what some shew to God: who would not be incens'd and pro­vock'd, if his Tennent or any other Poor mean Fellow should thrust into his presence, with­out uncovering his Head, and sit down and talk with him? I doubt not but there are some, who would be ready to cause kick such all manner'd Persons, to the doore; and I can­not see, how that can be reckoned as reverence and a sign of devotion to God which men look upon as rudenesse and incivility.

There be some which very much mistake that place of the Prophet, Isai. 29. 13. Where the Lord complains of his People of Old, that they drew near Him with their Mouth, and that they honoured him with their lips, as if that were a discharge of all externall Worship or of outward reverence therein: whereas it is not the outward honour and reverence which the Lord there finds fault with, but only that their hearts were far from him: God values not the Body without the Soul, for then it is but a dead Carcase; he cares not for our outward reverence and Prostrations, when the inward Spirit of devotion is wanting: but as he calls chiefly for the Heart and Mind, because it is the better part of Man; so he expects that [Page 277] having the inward, the outward man will fol­low: and indeed what God hath joyned together should not be put asunder. The Apostle enjoyns the honouring of God outwardly as well as inward­ly, when he saith, Glorify God in your body, and in your spirit which are Gods; 1 Cor: 6. 20. 'Tits true superstition is a fault, but it is not the best way to redresse it, to turn Profane and irreve­rent. God is not pleased with the humblest postures of our bodies, when our hearts and souls do not accompany them: but to make up that want, we must not turn away from the necessary and becoming testimonies of devotion and reverence: What our Saviour said on ano­ther occasion to the Scribes and Pharises, I may well apply here, these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Matth: 23. 23. As hypocrisie may be joyned to the outward acts and expressions of humility and reverence, so it is as certain that there is little true sense of God within, when the outward behaviour is not Grave, modest, and Humble: wherefore it is the saying of One, I will as sure believe him tem­perat, who is staggering in the Streets with drink, and him chaste, whose eyes are full of Adultery, & him mercifull, whose hands are imbru'd in blood, as that he can truely fear God who sheweth no out­ward reverence in his worship. The outward re­verence of the Body, is not only necessary [Page 278] to testifie the inward respect of the mind; but it is also requisite for the quickning and stir­ing it up: as the outward Pomp and Grandeur of Princes and Magistrats is necessary, to put People in mind of their Power and Authority, which otherwayes they would be readie to forget, or to be too bold with; so the out­ward Humiliation of our Bodies, serves to che­rish and to keep up in us the sense of God's greatness and Glory, which otherwayes perhaps would slip out of our minds.

Thus we have spoken to that reverence both Inward and Outward, which is due to GOD, which is always One of the fruits of his fear. The other effect thereof, consists in a great care and circumspection not to offend or displease him: And indeed if this be want­ing, there is no true Fear of GOD, nor will any Reverence which we shew towards him find acceptance with him. As Children who truly honour and respect their Parents, are alwayes very loath to give them any man­ner of offence, and as they are grieved when at any time they chance to do it, though they do not Fear nor apprehend to be chastised; so such as are sincerly acted with the Fear of GOD, will carefully watch against all manner of sin, and will have an aversion from it, though there where no ground to dread [Page 279] Hell or other punishments; but even be­cause that this is contrarie to him, whom they intirely love and honour: And when they have sinned, the consideration of the offence which is given GOD thereby, will afflict them more, then these bitter fruits which sin alwayes produceth. Therefore the True fear of GOD, doth alwayes restrain Men from doing these things that are Evil in his sight, and doth incline them to that which is good, the fear of the LORD, saith the wise Man, is to hate evil; Prov: 8: 13: And again, by the fear of their Lod, men depart from evil. Chap. 16 6. This is a great Aw▪ band over men, & will crub them more then all humane Laws and Authority: For such as are possessed with the Fear of GOD, will not only for bear gross and open transgressions, which may make them lyable to punishment from Men▪ but even also as much as possible Se­cret and lesser Faults, which the World takes no notice off. Thus Ioseph would not yeeld to the enticements of his Mistress, though perhaps he might have done it, without being in hazard of a discovery, for he feared GOD: How shall I, saith he, do this great wickedness, and sin against GOD. Gen. 39. 9. And when his Brethren were seased with Panick fear because of that rough and [Page 279] severe countenance which he put on towards them, he encouraged them with this con­sideration that he feared GOD, as if he had said, Though I have all power and Authority here in Egypt, yet you have no reason to be afraid of me, for I am not one who will abuse my Authori­ty, and wrest my power to do Men hurt, and prejudice, for I fear GOD: Gen. 42. [...]8. When Men are not very carefull to avoid sin, and to do good, it is certain there is little or no Fear of GOD before their eyes, and they do in vain pretend it: How im­pertinent and unreasonable a thing is it, to say, we Fear that Person whom we nevery study to please, & whom we are careless whither we offend or not? There cannot truly be great­er signs and evidences of contempt and dis­respect then this, and it is impossible that we should both Fear and Despise, Slight and Reve­rence the same Person at one and the same time.

And hence it appears how little of the true fear of God is in the World, even among us who are called Christians, seing there are so small endeavours to please God, Nay such a forwardness to displease him, by doing these things which he hates and Abhors, and which he hath so often expresly forbidden. It is a sad, but a certain Truth, that the Mo­gul and Cham of Tartar, nay some of the [Page 281] Petty Indian Princes, are not only more ho­noured & feared by their own proper Subjects, but also may be said to be had in greater Re­verence by many Christians, then the true and everliving GOD is: because they do not slight them so much as they do Him, their laws they do not so often violat, their power and Authority they do not so frequently bafle and trample upon as they do Gods; and it is certain their name is not so much nor so often profaned and derided, as the Name of the Great GOD; for some, nay many both Old and Young amongst us, are come to this now, that they cannot open their mouths without prophaning the holy Name of God, though he hath said expresly, that he will not hold them guiltless who take his Name in vain. Judge I pray you, if this be to fear the Lord, or if it be not rather to mock him, and to have him in Derision; for certainly though Men would set themselves to affront Him, they could hardly do it more effectu­ally; And is this then fair and equall deal­ing by such as profess themselves Friends and Servants? Did every Nation or People [...]reat the God whom they worshipped at this rate? Men have not cared to scorn and dis­honour these Dieties, whom they did not own, but was there ever such a strange and absurd [Page 282] thing as this? That People should profess and acknowledge One to be the true GOD, and yet carry no respect towards him, neither shew any care to please him▪ but dayly and hour­ly live in the greatest contempt of him. These things are so unworthy and so incon­sistant, that I neither know how any can ex­cuse them, nor can I find out any similitude or comparison proper and sufficient, to set off the madness and unacountable absurdity thereof. To convince Men hereof, I would ask them what they do mean by being thus careless to please God▪ and why they do so easily offend Him? Do they think Him ignorant of their Actings? Say they (as Eliphaz speaketh) how doth God know, can he judge through the dark Clouds; Iob 22: 13. And with these Atheists, in the 94. Psal. who say, the Lord shall not see, neither shall the God of Iacob regard it▪ If so, hearken to what the Psalmist there teacheth, understand ye brutish among the People▪ and ye fools when will ye be wise? He that planted the ear, shall be not hear? He that formed the eye shall he not see? He that chastis­eth the Heathen shall not be correct? He that teach­eth men knowledge shall not he know? The Lord knoweth the thoughts of Man, [...]ea he spieth them out a far off; he is privy to all our wayes, and there is nothing that we do, hid from [Page 283] him, how therefore dare any presume to offend and to provoke Him? For God is a terrible GOD, and of great power, if he but touch the Mountains they smoke, when the voice of his thunder was in the Heaven, the lightnings lightned the World, the Earth trembled and shook. At the rebuke, O GOD of Iacob, saith the Psalmist, both the Chariot and the Horse are east into a dead sleep, thou therefore even thou art to be feared, and who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry? Psal: 76: [...]. 7. If God arise his enemies shall be scattered, they also that hate Him shall flee before him; as smoke is driven away, so shall be drive them away, as wax melteth before the fire, so shall the wicked perish at the presence of God. Psal: 68: 1. 2. 'Tis strange to see how warry Men will be of offending those who may ruine their Fortune, or take away their Lives, or make them miserable here, and yet at the same time, to find them not in the least afraid of exasperating God, who besides the punishments he can inflict in this World, is able to render one eternally mise­rable? and what a folly is it then to fear any more then him, and to be more careful to shun a small evil, then that which is un­speakeably great? I shal conclude with these words of our Saviour, I say unto you my Friends, be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after [Page 284] that have no more that they can doe: but I will forewarn you whom you shall fear, fear him, which after he hath killed, hath power to cast into Hell, yea I say unto you, fear him. Luke 12. 4.

SECTION VI. Of Walking with GOD.

'TIs the Errour of some, that they think the whole of Religion consists in some few Externall Acts and Performances, which having done, they think they have acquitted themselves sufficientlie of the Wor­ship of GOD: Thus for Example, they make Religion to be, to Fast, and Pray, and keep the Church, and Observe the Sabbath, &c. and by doing these, they imagine they have done enough, to set themselves up for the true Worshippers of GOD. But though these Actions be necessarie parts of Religion, yet they prove but dull insipide things, if the Intervals betwixt them be not likeways fill'd up with proper and agreeable Exercises, which tend to the Honour and Glory of GOD. To Worship GOD is not to per­form a Particular sett of Actions, but to order the whole Life and Conversation aright be­fore him. Wherefore in Scripture it is gene­rallie set forth, by the Phrase of Walking with [Page 285] GOD, thus saith the Prophet Micah be hath shewed thee O Man, what is Good, and what doth the Lord thy GOD require of thee, but to do Iustlie, and to love Mercy, and to walk humblie with thy GOD; Micah 6. 8. It is recorded also of Enoch and Noah to their commendati­on, that they walked with GOD; Gen: 5. 24. 6. 9. And it is a certain rule, that when GOD commends any thing in any of his Servants, it lays an Obligation on all the Rest, to imitat that thing, that thereby they also might please him.

That there is Frequent mention of walk­ing with GOD in the Scripture, is known to all and we design at present to unfold the Importance of the Phrase, and to shew the things comprehended therein, are neces­sarie acts of GODS worship, and that who so would own and acknowledge him, ought to do it by these Instances.

The Septuagint, and Saint Paul follow­ing them, render the Phrase by Pleasing GOD: But in doing so, they rather have had an eye to the End of this Duty; then to explain the Particulars thereof. The scope and design of Walking with GOD is to please him, but by what Means we shall best do that; we will learn by considering the Rea­son of the Phrase and what is implyed therein. [Page 286] It is a Metaphoricallspeech taken from the cu­stome of Mens convensing together, especialy of Inferiours keeping company with their Superi­ours: And it importeth these several Parti­culars, first, a dutifull regard of GOD'S Pre­sence. Secondly a carefull observance of what he doth. Thirdly, the consulting him about what concerns us, especially the great and Momentous Acts of our Life: Fourthly, and and lastly, a stedfast and Faithful following, or keeping close those Directions and Ad­vices which he gives. We shall take a view of each of these; and First,

Of Regarding GOD'S Presence.

First, walking with GOD, implyes a duti­full regard to bi [...] Presence, that is out of re­spect to GOD, we ought to take care to carry our selves decently and sutably before him, for the Presence of great and Worthy per­sons doth alwayes oblidge to a discreet and civill Behaviour. There be some indeed who are never over-awed by any, but speak, and do what ever comes in their head, and what ever their Humors prompts them to, what ever place or Company they be in; which bewrayes a great want of Discre­tion▪ and shews them to be insensible of [Page 287] what respect is due to those before whom they take this liberty. Certainly is is very great insolency, to act foolishly, or speak im­pertinently, before such whose either place, or wisdom, or vertue, doth command re­spect and reverence from us. When Servants are before their Masters, or Children before their Parents, or Subjects before their Prince, they ought to forebear not only what they know will certainly displease; but also all things light and undecent, as Foolish jesting, and Filthy communication, and the like: But how much more ought the Presence of Al­mighty GOD oblidge us to compose our sel­ves to a humble, Holy, and Vertuous beha­vour? GOD gave it in Precept to Abraham, walk before Me, and b [...] thou perfect; Gen. 17. 1. That is, consider thy self alwayes as in my sight, and walk agreeabl [...] to the belief thereof, by behaving thy self Perfectly and Uprightly▪. All the wayes of a Man are before the Lord, and he seeth [...]ll his goings, as it is Job [...]4▪ 21. None can hide themselves from him in secret places that he cannot see them, for every Creature is naked and open before Him: And therefore, what Solo­mon adviseth, when we come to the house of GOD, ought to be our care in every place, though never so secret and remote from the sight of Men, seing God is present every [Page 288] where as well as in his Temples; keep thy foot, he not rash with thy mouth, and let not thy heart be hasty to utter any thing before God; Eccles. 5. 1.

By this we do not mean, that Persons should every where and at every time, be taken up with Prayer and Meditation, and such other Religious Exercises, as are proper for the House of God, for God hath enjoyned other imployments besides these, and our pre­sent State and condition makes it necessary, of­ten to mind other things. But what we would▪ here inculcat▪ is that the sense of the Divine Presence, should make us take up Davids resolution, I will take heed to my wayes, that I sin not with my tongue; Psal: 39. 1. We ought to cut off from our Conversation whatsoever is evil and offensive to God, and to study as much as possible to demean our selves alwayes sutably, that is, as becomes our Station, the Time, Place, and other Circumstances requisite to be observ'd. Be­cause Gods Eye is alwayes upon us, it should be our endeavour to do those things which he approves of, which doth not tye us to do always what is best in it self simply, or when compared to other things, but only that we never be busied in other then Lawfull and innocent things, and that we be ever care­full to do what is best relatively, and agree­able [Page 289] to the Occasion, Time, Place and Wit­ness of our Actions.

When we thus study to order our conversa­tion aright, and to remove from it, what is evil, foolish, and undecent, in regard of God's presence which attends us, we do high­ly honour God, and it is as acceptable Worship as we can pay to Him: And without this, he will little regard our sett and solemn services. And indeed how can it be said, that they own or honour God, who are no wayes care­full how they behave themselves before him? But they may be truly said to acknowledge him, who out of a due deference to his presence which fills both Heaven and Earth, do shun warrily what they think unworthy of it. Though there be some so out of measure, in­solent and wicked, as not to care in whose presence they are; yet generally the presence of men have some influence upon us, and will restrain us from many things, which other­wayes we would, and are inclined to do, what gross Atheism then is it? And what a high contempt of God doth it speak out! To be over-awed by the eye of Man, and not by the presence of Almighty GOD! To do and forbear any thing, because Men are witnesses, and do approve or discommend it, and yet not to care to do or neglect the [Page 290] same thing though God see us, What a dishonour is done to God, when we regard Man more then him? And do we not re­gard man more then God, when we are more desirous of applause from Men, then to find favour in the Eyes of GOD? And when we withdraw our selves from the eyes of Men lest they should know our evil Actions, but never value God's sight and knowledge thereof? He who doth thus, hath not taken the Lord to be his God, he doth not own and acknowledge him, he bows only to Men, to his own Credit or Homour, and hath set up these for his GOD. Wherefore who would not be guilty of such gross Idolatry, as to wor­ship the Creature more then the Creator, and and who would testifie and make it appear that they indeed adore the true GOD, let them not slight or despise the Divine Presence, but let them alwayes eye and consider it, and be carefull to carry themselves alwayes, as before so Great and Glorious a Majesty. And seing that God is every where, and hath his eye alway upon us, let us in private and in publick, at home and abroad, at all times and in all places, walk wisely and circum­spectly, let us not be guilty of such incivi­lity towards God, as to do any unworthy thing before him: but let us labour so to [Page 291] behave our selves, that he may think us worthy of that testimony, which he gave unto Iob, whom he said, was a perfect and upright man, One that feared GOD, and eschew­ed evil; Iob 1. and 1,

Of Observing GOD'S Wayes and Actions.

In the second place, Walking with GOD, implies a carefull observance of whatsoever he doth: For it is usuall for such as are in com­pany together, to watch and take Notice of one anothers Words and Actions; and if one be more eminent for Wisdom and Ver. tue, or any other excellency, then such a are with him are the more oblidg'd to eyes his Motions and and Behaviour. Nothing which Excellent and Worthy Persons speake or doe, should fall to the Ground un-observ'd; and it doth speake out some contempt of one to think that what they do or say is not worth the noticing: as therefore out of re­spect to Great and Eminent personages we ought seriously to consider them, their Speeches & Actions, and to count them worthy our re­membrance, so much more should our eyes be fixed upon God, and it is much more our dutie to consider him, what he hath done and what he dayly doth in the World; that [Page 292] the consideration thereof, we may return Him due praise and glory. For this end GOD endued us▪ with Rational Spirits, and with understanding Faculties, that we might be ca­pable of Contemplating himself, and his workes. And therefore, when we turn a­way our eyes from such Contemplations, or neglect them, we do in so farr swerve from the Design of our Creation, and do dis­appoint GOD of that Tribute of Praise which is due unto him, yea, in steed of honour­ing him, we do actually dishonour him, by slighting the Effects and Products of his infinite Wisdom, Power, and Goodness. All GOD'S Actings are like himself and do shew forth his Admirable Perfections, there is no part, even of the Material world, but is stamped with some impression of his Almigh­ty power and unsearchable wisdom, and Infinite goodness: And therefore what the Psalmist sayes of the Heavens, Psal. 19. 1. May be said of all GOD'S other works; they all de­clare the glory of GOD, i. e. As a Curious engine or Fine Piece of Work, doth hold out the Skill and Cunning of him that made it; so all the Works of GOD have in them, what doth set forth and proclaime, how wise, how great, and good he is. And as the External and Material World, doth contain [Page 293] Visible Characters of the Divine greatness and Perfections, so GOD hath created Rational and Intellectual Beeings, viz. Angels and Men, capable to discern and read them; that by so doing they may sound forth his Praise.

The Contemplation and Admiration of God's works and Wayes, is our proper, and should be our constant imployment: And if it had not been for this, there would not have been bestowed upon us such Powers and Capacities. Wise and Understanding Per­sons, will not Expend more upon any thing, then it is worth; they will not reare up stately fabricks meerly to lodge Swine, nor will they buy fine Silk and Carpet to Wipe shoos and Dishes: and neither would GOD have endued us with understanding Souls, Immortal Spirits, if we had been only destin'd to the Acts of a Brutish and Sensuall life; for then what Iudas said imper­tinently, when the Box of Oyntment was powr­ed upon our LORD, might have been here put as a very pertinent question, What needed all this Cost. For something less then Reason and Spirit, a meer Animal Sagacity might have served, and been suf­ficient for finding out and taking care of Bodily Pleasures, and Accommodations. GOD and his Works therefore, are the only su­table [Page 294] object, for our thoughts to be imployed about: these indeed are answerable to the capacities of our Soul; and as the conside­rations thereof, tendeth to the Honour of GOD, so it clevats our selves to a proper and becoming Dignity; whereas the most of other things are so far below us, and so much within our reach, that it is a debasing of our Natures, too much to mind, or to be taken up with them.

However, it is certain all the Saints and Servants of GOD have ever thought it their Duty, and a proper and necessary Testifica­tion of their Respect unto GOD, to be taken up with the Contemplation of his Works, both of Creation and Providence, and to set a part sometime dayly for this purpose. We are told that it was Isaac's custome, to go out to the Field and meditate about even-tide; Gen. 24: 63: and no doubt his Meditations were such as we are speaking of. The Book of Iob shews how much that holy Man and his Friends were accustomed to the consideration of GOD'S Works and Wayes; for all their Dis­course and Reasonings are taken thence. Yea, when GOD himself appeared unto Iob, he calls him to a particular consideration of his great and wonderful Works, and does [Page 295] therefore largely display them before him, in the 38. and following Chapters. Nay, what are all the Psalms, but as so many de­vout Meditations of GOD'S Works, or Pious Hymns composed in memory of them? The Works of the LORD▪ saith the Psalmist, are great, and they are sought out of all them, that have pleasure therein. His Work is honour­able and Glorious and he hath ordained his won­derfull Works to be remembred; Psal. 111. 2. 3. And again he saith, All thy works shall praise thee, O Lord, and thy Saints shall blesse thee? That is, as his works contain the matter of his Praise, so the Saints shall publish and Declare it, by admiring and magnifying of them, they shall, as he goeth on, speake of the Glory of thy Kingdom, and talk of thy power to make known to the Sons of Men his mighty Acts, and the Glorious Majesty of his Kingdom, Psal. 145. 10. &c:

Thus it appears, that the observing of GOD'S wayes and works, makes a great part of his Worship; and that hereby we do truely acknowledge him to be what he is, not only of great Majesty, but also a GOD of Infinite Wisdom and Power: Because by so doing, we declare that He does nothing in Vain, nothing that is not infinitly Worthy, of our most Serious Consideration, and that [Page 296] our thoughts can never be better imployed, them in the Contemplation of what he hath done and dayly doth in the World. Let us therefore frequently betake our selves, to the Contemplation of GOD'S Works both of Nature and Providence; Let us sit down and seriously and devoutly consider them, and Admire, and Adore that Wisdom, Power and Goodnesse which appears in them.

It will become us to take notice, how manifold the works of the LORD are, and in what Wisdom he hath made them all: How he hath reared up this vast fabrick of the World out of nothing, and Wonderfully beautified & adorned it. How he hath stretched out the Heavens like a curtain, and in them hath set a Tabernacle for the Sun, which is as a bride­groom coming out of his chamber, and rejoyceth as a strong man to run a race, whose going forth is from the end of the Heaven and his circuit to the ends of it, and there is nothing, hid from the heat thereof. What a wise and admirable contrivance is▪ the Scituation and Motion of the Sun, whereby all the parts of the world are equally enlightned? For what any part wants at one time, it hath at another, those places which are longest without the Sun, have him also longest with them, so that his Presence alwayes equals his Absence. [Page 297] And the dispensing his presence thus different­ly is much more usefull and convenient, then if it had been otherwise; it is visibly better that the Sun moves now betwixt the two Tropicks not in a straight or direct Line, then if it had rolled regularly upon the Equator: for then those under the Line or near it would have had all the Advantage, and his influence upon the rest of the World would have been very faint, like to that in March and September, which is not sufficient to produce and ripen the various fruits of the Earth, which are usefull both for our Sup­port and Pleasure. But when we have our eyes lifted up to the Heavens, the Sun is not all which is worthy to be observed there, we ought likewise to consider the Moon which GOD hath appointed for the Dis­tinguishing Seasons, and hath placed as a Lamp to give light in the night, that those whose necessities call to travell then, may be derected and see their way. We ought to view the Stars also, these admirable Embellishments of the Heavenly Frame, which we have reason to think vastly bigg, beyond their appearance, else how would they be seen at such a distance? And seeing Reason teacheth them to be so great in quantity, and that our eyes shew them to be many in [Page 298] number, and Art yet farr more, we [...] well conclude that the work of GODS Crea­tion is great & magnificent above the reach of our Apprehensions: And therefore it may fill us with wonder and astonishment, that GOD should take such notice of Man, who bears so small a proportion to the rest of the Creation; When I consider the Heavens, saith David, the work of thy Fingers, the Moon, and the Stars, which thou hast ordained; Lord, what is man, that thou art mindfull of him? Or the Son of Man that thou visitest him? Psalm 8. 3. 4.

The Earth is to the rest of the World as a point to a great glob, or a grain of sand to a high mountain, and yet it affords many instances both of the Wisdom and Power of GOD. It hangs upon nothing, as Iob speaks; and yet as the Psalmist hath observed, he hath so laid the Foundations thereof, that it cannot be removed for ever; the Earth is ordained a Tem­porary abode for Man, and it is made most use­full and convenient; for it affords not only Necessaries but Comforts; it yelds not only Food to sustain our Life, but also pleasures to affect our fenses; there are proper objects to every appetite, and things sutable to all the ends and purposes of our Present Condi­tion. Every place gives the necessaries of [Page 299] Life, and what is else desireable is wisely [...], so that they who live in the seve­rall parts of the world may be engaged to entertain mutual Commerce together. Though the State of things be not now as 'twas at the beginning, (because sin hath altered the order and beauty of them, by reason there­of every creature groaneth and travelleth with pain) yet we may easily discern that GOD designed us all content and satisfaction even here below: For with what variety of de­lights hath he replenished this world: What a multitude of living Creatures of diverse kinds, hath he put therein for our use and service? And how wisely are they all dis­posed? The Cattel go upon the mountains the wild beasts-lodge in Forests, Fowls nest in Trees, the high hills are a refuge for Goats, and the rocks for the Coneys. And though our sins do provock GOD to turn the earth into a barren Wilderness, yet he still visits and wa­tereth it, and greatly enricheth it, he Watereth the ridges thereof abundantly, and setteth the fur­rows thereof, he maketh it soft with showers, & bles­seth the springing thereof: He crowns the Year with his Goodness, and his paths drop Fatness; they Drop upon the Pastures of the Wilderness, and the little hills rejoyce on every side, the Pastures are cloathed with flocks, and the valleys also are co­vered [Page 300] with Corn. He causeth grasse to grow for the Cattel, and Herb for the service of Man: that he may bring forth food out of the Earth, and and Wine that maketh glad the heart of Man, and Oyl to make his face to shine, and bread which strengthne [...]h Mans heart. The earth is full of the Riches of the LORD; so is the great and wide Sea▪ wherein are things creeping innume­rable, both small and great Beasts, who herd to­gether in Companies, as well as those upon the Land, at their appointed Moneths and Seasons, they ascend from the bottom of the Deep and walk upon the Surface of the Waters, that they may be catcht by the Children of Men to serve for Food and other necessaries. There goe the Ships: there is that Leviathan, whom GOD hath made to play therein. By his neesings a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eye lids of the Morning; out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out; out of his nostrils go smoke as out of a seething Pot or Cauldron. He maketh the deep to boyle like a Pot, and the Sea to be as a Pot of Oyntment, he maketh a path to shine after him, so that one would think the Deep to be hoar [...]. Upon the Earth there is not his like, so that one may be cast down at the very sight of him; as it is Iob 41. 9. Where also he is largely described. The frame, the sagacity, the ends and uses of the several sorts of living [Page 301] Creatures are wonderfull, and their de­pendance on GOD no lesse: for they are all made to wai [...]e▪ upon GOD, that he may give them their meat in due season, what he giveth they gather, he openeth his hand and they are filled with good. He hides his face and they are troubled; he takes away their breath, and then they die and return to their dust. Again, he sendeth forth his Spirit, and they are Created; thus he still re­neweth the face of the Earth.

These Various and Wonderfull Works of Nature, which we have dayly and every where before our Eyes, we ought not to slight; but should duely and seriously consider them, that we may have more abundant matter for praising him, whose greatnesse they shew forth. We mistake it very much, if we think the Consideration of these things, should be reserved and put over to Natural Philosa­phers; nay, they are proper for the medita­tion of every Christian. Neither is it necessary to be train'd up at Schooles, to become qua­lified for such contemplations: for the most Ignorant Person, and he or she that is least Book-learn'd, if they but seriously set them­selves to it, may be able well enough to discover and find out the greatness and Wis­dom and Usefulnesse of God's Works and if they doe this, it is all which is requisite: [Page 302] The wisest Philosophers can aim no farther, and when they do not aime at this, their Speculations turn vain, empty and insipid things.

But of all Gods Works, none ought more to be considered, then those of His Providence, His Actings, and Dealings with the Children of Men: How the LORD looketh from Heaven and beholdeth all the Sons of Men; from the place of his Habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the Earth, he fashioneth their Hearts alike, and considereth all their Works. And though there be many devices in Mens Hearts, yet he suffereth his own Counsell only to stand; for he bringeth the Coun­sell of the wicked to nought, and maketh the devi­ces of the People of none effect. 'Tis well worth the while to take notice, how miraculously he sometimes preserves Kings and Kingdoms from Destruction, when it is much threat­ned them by Enemies; and how again at o­ther times he causeth them to be minis [...]ed and brought low, maugre all the humane endeavours to the contrary. How he powreth contempt upon Princes, and causeth them to wan­der in the wilderness, where there is no way, that they may know themselves to be but Men; and that the most High ruleth in the Kingdom of Men, and giveth it to whom he will. And how on the other hand to let the People see that [Page 303] there is no power but of GOD, he curbs their Rage, stills their Tumults, defeats their Conspiracies and Rebellious Designs, and and forceth them to stand in aw of the Au­thority established over them, which other­wise is too weake to restrain their fury. The Lord maketh Poor, and maketh Rich, he bring­eth low and lifted up, he raiseth up the Poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the Beggar from the Dunghill, to set them among Princes, and to make them inherit the Throne of Glory. It's fit to observe, how variously and wonderfully, God punisheth Sin, and rewardeth Vertue and Righteousness; for his Hand findeth out sinfull Men, and maketh them to smart for all their evil Deeds, and repayeth them as they have dealt with others, that with A­donibezek, they may say, as I have done, so GOD requited me. But he blesseth the Righte­ous and giveth them Peace; he sendeth them many Afflictions to teach them Wisdom, and to perfect them in Virtue, but also he de­livereth them out of them all, that Men may learn to trust the LORD, and to seek his Favour above all Things. Thus we ought to consider the various instances of Gods Providence towards the Children of Men, what Straits, Difficulties, and Dangers they fall into, and how strangely they escape them [Page 304] and how wonderfully their Peace and Com­fort, their Honour and Happiness are brought about by wayes unseen, and by me­thods unthought of either by themselves or others. Whos [...] is wise, saith the Psalmist, and will ohserve th [...]se things, even they shall under­stand the loving Kindness of the Lord; Psal▪ 107. 43. And certainly such as are truly wise either to GOD, or for themselves will not fail to observe GODS working in the World, especially his manifold Providences, and Won­derfull works towards the Children of Men, whereby they shall both encrease in Wis­dom, even the chiefest Wisdom, and shall also understand, and be made sensible of GODS gracious Love and Fa­vour: Which shall yet farther appear to their Comfort, if they take exact notice of the Divine▪ Providence towards themselves, how wonderfuly they were made! How care­fully preserved! how much they are follow­ed with his goodness! And what wise con­trivances are made for their good, which they little know▪ of, or think upon! Every one of us may discover these things, in the course of our Life: And as this discovery will manifest the Divine favour, so t'will ravish our Souls with delight, there being nothing more delightfull and pleasant, then [Page 305] to / find out that we are Beloved of GOD. Wherefore as it is a piece of slight put upon GOD, not to observe these his Admirable workings, and Manifestations of his Power, Wis­dom and Goodness; So it is a prejudice unto our selves; in that hereby we are deprived of unspeakable Pleasures and Delight, which otherwise would accrue unto us. And is it not strange that this so pleasant Duty, should be so much neglected and laid aside; the meaner sort drudge alwayes at their Work, and take no leasure to meditate; and those who can, and do allow themselves some spare hours, do for the most part imploy them in hearing and telling News, in Cu­rious enquiries about the Motions & Tran­sactions, of some remote Prince, which little concerns them, and which amounts to little when known, they becoming there­by neither wiser nor more Happy. Nay 'tis to be feared, that even those we call Studious Persons, make these Divine Con­templations the least part of their Study: but bestow more pains to know the Journeys of a Caesar, or Alexander, the opinions of Ancient & Modern Authours, and the like. I do not say, we should be altogether taken up with the consideration of Gods Wayes and Works; but certainly nothing concerns us more, nor [Page 236] is there any thing more worthy of us, this is most worthy of Angels. What a foolish thing then is it to mind Trivial and Inconsi­derable things, and to slight what is of greatest moment? To be much busied about what we have nothing to do with, and in the Mean time to neglect and be care­less of what is both our Interest and Duty? what respect to the Divine Majesty oblidgeth us to, and by doing of which we may procure to our selves much Joy and Satis­faction.

Now as it is our Duty thus to observe the Works and wayes of GOD; so that we may be enabled to make a wiser Observation of them, 'twill be necessary to follow the Light and Direction of the holy Scripture: By which means we shall both [...]ee the more clearly, and shall also understand the ends and uses of GODS works more fully. Many things which lye hid from the light of nature, may be discerned by the Word of GOD, this gives us a better view of many of GOD Act­ings, then what is possible to have other­wise. And hereby only we are instructed in one Work of GOD, which of all others is the greatest and most wonderfull, I mean, the Work of Mans Redemption; This is a deep Mystery, and of the greatest importance; [Page 307] both for it self, & because helps to unriddle all the other Mysteries of Divine Providence. Such as are ignorant may with the Greeks count it Foolishness, but who seriously exa­mine it, shall find it the Power of GOD, and Wisdom of GOD; Therefore it is said, the Angels desire to look into it; 1 Pet. 1. 12. And seing it concerneth us more then them, cer­tainly we can never sufficiently either Con­sider it or Admire it. If it be our Duty to observe the Divine Transactions, as we have made it appear, sure we ought to Contempt­late this which is the chief Contrivance of his Wisdom, and the very end of all the other purposes of his Eternal Counsel. In the Mystery of the Gospell, are hid all the Trea­sures of Wisdom and Knowledge, as St. Paul speaks, Col 2. 3. Here we see the most amazing things, viz. An union betwixt two Natures, infinitly distant, a Reconciliation be­twixt infinite Iustice; and infinit Mercy, the greatest severity towards Sin, and the great­est kindness towards Sinners, expressed by one and the same Act. All Gods works declare his Glory, but never any more or so much as this; his Power, Wisdom, Goodness, Holiness, Justice, Mercy, and other Per­fections were never so Illustriously Display­ed as here. On this therefore we must in a [Page 308] more speciall manner fix our Thoughts and that not meerly to satisfy our Curiosity, or to stuffe our Heads with Notions: but to fill us with a greater Knowledge of GOD, to raise our Admiration of him, to excite our Love to him, and to stirre up our Souls and all their Powers and Faculties, to Blesse and Praise Him for his Goodness and Wonderfull Works to the Children of Men. And as this should be our End, in Observing and Con­templating the Wayes and Works of God; so u­pon this very account we are oblidged thereto, because that this is the proper and necessary mean to carry on this End, we can­not Love, nor Admire, nor Adore nor Trust, &c: What we do not know, and we cannot know GOD otherwaves then by his Works, and those Manifestations which he hath given of himself, for there can be no Immeditat intuition of his essence, and the Idea which we have of him by nature will soon be defaced, if it be not cherished by such Meditations. That therefore we may know GOD, and knowing him be en­gaged to those Acts of Love, Praise, Trust, Dependance, &c. Which is due to him, we ought to observe those Works and Acti­ons of GOD which he hath laid before us, in Nature; and in his Word, and which [Page 309] daylie appear by the Administration of his Pro­vidence towards our selves and others.

Wherefore also we must not do this only now and then, or in a slight overly man­ner: But we ought to be taken up frequent­ly with such Contemplations, and when we set about them it should be with all Serious­ness and Attention, that we may under­stand what we Consider, and that it may have a due Impression on us; short and Su­perficiall glances do little good. Indeed what occurs to us, as we Converse with others, or go up and down about our A [...], we need not stay long thereon, but may observe passingly: But 'twill be neces­sary besides, to set a part some particular time for this purpose, that our Meditations may be more Deliberate, and free of Di­stractions. How much time should be allot­ted, and what hours are best must be left to each ones Prudence and Discretion; for there can be no general rules, prescrib'd to all: some have their time at their own Disposal, and can use it as they please, others are not so. The First sort may keep hours, and are oblidged to spend more time in this Exercise; but for the Last, they must take the Evening, or the Morning, or Midday, as is most convenient for them, and must con­tinue [Page 310] long or short as agrees best with their Station and Imployment. Every one hath the Lords day almost free, and therefore it is every ones Duty to imploy this Day thus, which is indeed the Main end of the Day; and they who cannot command much time all the Week, are above all others oblidged to use this Day well to the present purpose. As to the Order and Method of Meditating, it is not very Material, neither need any be nicely Curious, in what Order, or after what Way and Manner they proceed in con­sidering these Works of God, Providing they seek them out seriously, labour to under­stand them truely, and make proper and usefull Reflections on them. At every Re­tirement, we cannot make serious and deep Observations of all Gods Works, therefore to consider them well, 'twill be requisite to consider them severally. Sometimes our inward Disposition, Externall state, the present occasion, and other Circumstances make some of Gods Works more proper and sutable then others, when it is so, we should de­termine our Meditations to these especially: But ordinarly when there is no such parti­cular Reason to determine us, 'twill be best & most profitable to follow the course & or­der of the Scripture, for we may call the [Page 311] Scripture, Divine Mom [...]ires, which hold forth to us the great and admirable Actions of the Universall Monarch of the World. And thus much of the Second instance of Walking with God.

Of Consulting GOD.

The third particular meant by walking with GOD, is the consulting Him about what concerns us. For as is usuall for such as are in Company together, to Advise with one another; so by walking with God we are to understand, the asking his Counsel and Direction, and the Guidance of his unerr­ing wisdom. The more eminent any one is, the more others are oblidg'd to advise with him, especially if with all he hath a Ju­risdiction & Authority over them, and that there be Obligations on them to study the pleasing him. Thus Servants and Children ought to consult their Parents and Masters, not only because they should think them more wise then themselves: but also because it is their Duty to Humour and Please them, and so it being our Duty to walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing; as it is Col. 1. 10. There­fore we should do nothing without his Warrant and Advice. The way of Man is not [Page 312] in himself, as the Prophet hath it, it is not in him that walketh to direct his Steps, Ier. 10. 23. We are for the most part Foolish and Igno­rant, and do not know what is the best and and safest Course to steer, and which is worse we are oftimes carried away by diverse Lusts; and these Lusts do blind our Judge­ments, and hinder us from discerning the Truth, and therefore it is great presumpti­on in us to follow the devices and suggestions of our own hearts, unlesse we find them allow­ed and approved of by God: Unless he Guid and instruct us, we may, nay shall certainly [...]erre, and our Designs shall miscarry. Our Peace and Comfort here, and Happinesse hereafter, are not the effects of Chance; but the Fruits of God's Favour and Love, which is not procured by walking at random, or do­ing any thing inconsideratly, never taking heed whether it be fit or not: We only then please God, and gain His Favour, when we wisely consider our doings, and do serious­ly deliberat about all we have to do especi­ally what is of greater moment and concern­ment, that all may be agreeable to the Minde and Will of GOD. As Solomon there­fore adviseth, Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding; In all thy wayes acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths; Prov. 3. 5, 6.

[Page 313]There being now no Prophet to enquire. at, nor any Empowred (as the High Priest of old) to deliver Oracles and give Responses; it will be asked what we mean by consulting GOD? wherefore to clear this Matter and to prevent all Mistakes thereanent, and to guard against all Abuses to which some may be ready to wrest it, I shall shew two things.

  • 1st. Whereabout we should consult God.
  • 2ly. What way and manner it is to be done.

As to the first, by consulting GOD, is not meand the betaking our selves to him, to know the Event of any Business we are en­gag'd in, or whither if we do this or the other thing 'twill succeed and prosper; we may indeed, nay ought to recommend all our Lawfull and Virtuous Undertakings to God, that he may blesse them with successe and we may lawfully wish Successe thereto, but ever with a Humble Submission to the will of God, according as our Saviour hath taught us to say, not my will, but thine be done: but to be desirous to know before-hand, what God purposeth to do, is not allowed us. It is not for you, saith Christ, to know the times and Seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power; Acts 1. 7. and as not the times and Seasons, so neither the things themselves which he hath determined to bring to pass. [Page 214] These Secrets of the Divine Counsel, God hath reserv'd to himself, and 'twould but offend him to be over curious to know them. It is not the will of God that we seek for this, for he hath given us no Means to come to the knowledge thereof; for to have recourse to Astrologers, Wizards, such as have Familiar Spirits, &c. Are means as Unlawfull as they are Uncertain and Deceitful. Nor is it profitable for us to know what shall befall us, God keeps this Secret, because it is better to be Ignorant of it, then if it were revealed; 'tis better that we live by Faith then such a sight, because hereby these necessary vertues of Pa­tience, trust in God, Watchfulness, and Dili­gence, are exercised & confined. It is true the Iews of old had Liberty granted them to enquire about future Events and their De­sires were satisfied as appears by many In­stances in Scripture: but now the Reason of such Extraordinary Temporal priviledges is ceased, and the Gospel requires us to be entire­ly resign'd to GOD, and to be dispos'd either to Prosperity or Adversity, to Disappoint­ments and Successe, with a kind of indiffe­rency, because the Glory of GOD and our true Felicity, depend neither upon the one nor the other, but may be Advanced by either of them.

[Page 315]To consult GOD then, is not to enquire into secret purposes of his Counsel▪ how he intends to dispose of us: but it is that we may be inform­ed of our Duty, that we may understand what becomes us to do in the several Periods of our life, and in all those Stations and rela­tions we stand in what course of Life we should intend; How we ought to carry our selves having chosen one? How we should best spend our Time and Order our Affairs, that as much as possible, we may be with­out all offence either to GOD or Man.

From hence it follows that we ought ne­ver to deliberate about things certainly un­lawful, nor yet ask of GOD whither at any time we may venture upon them, for this in plain terms is, to ask whither we should thwart his Will, transgresse his Laws, grieve his Spirit▪ dishonour his Name, and rebell against his Authority. They there­fore tempt God, and Act most impudently who ask Counsel in such a Case; and what prompts Men to things sinfull is not the Spi­rit of GOD: the Counsel is not from GOD which Allows and Approves of any unlawfull deed. GOD is not the Author of Sin, He cannot be tempted with evill, neither tempteth he any man; Iam▪ 1. 13. It is a delusion of Sa­tan which draws Persons to wickedness, or [Page 316] which make them continue the practice of any wicked Action whatever such pretend, and whatever high conceit they may enter­tain of themselves, yet the Scripture tells us, that it is a heavy Iudgement and a sign of a repro­bate mind to be given up to do things unlawfull, and which are not convenient; Rom: 1. 28.

When therefore we come to Consult GOD, as we ought alwayes in all doubtful Cases, it should be to know what is lawful, and not only what is simply lawful, but also what is expedient, what is sutable for us as we are so Stated & Circumstantiated, and by what wayes and Means we should prose­cute those Ends we ought to have before us, viz. GOD'S Glory, our Neighbours good, and our own present Comfort, and after hap­pinesse.

Now having seen whereabouts we ought to consult GOD, we come in the next place to shew how we are to doe it. And First, we must lay aside all prejudice and byassed affecti­ons aud put on the Indefferency of a Traveller, who hath no Inclination to turn either to the Right or the Left hand, but to be directed in the Right way. If we do not this, we are not Sincere when we seek Counsel of God, nor capable to receive it though it be given; this was the fault of the Young Man that came to [Page 317] our Saviour, to ask, what he should do to inherite eternal Life? For because the Answer would have parted him and his Possessions, he would not listen to it. If Men be blinded with Prejudice, they will not see the Light though it be clear; nor will they be per­swaded though they have Sufficient convictions laid before them, if their Inclinations be strong another way, we must therefore free our selves of all Passion and Prejudice; and be Sincerely Desirous of right Information. In the next place, we must Addresse our selves to GOD by Humble and Hearty Prayer, that it may please him to Enlighten the eyes of our Minds, to the discerning His Will, and the way wherein we should walk: For is we do not Pray, we are not desirous here­of, neither duely Value it, and so GOD will not think us worthy of it; who De­spise or Lightly esteem the Counsel and Direct­ion of the LORD, shall be left to wander in the Ignorance and Darknesse of their own Minds: But he will lead and guide them in the Paths of Righteousnesse, who hum­bly seek Him. But though Prayer be good, yet it is not the only Means, it must not be neglected, but it must not be rested in. We must not ask direction, as Pilate, what was Truth at Christ, who when he put the questi­on, [Page 318] presently went out and stayed not for an Answer. After we have Prayed, we should listen attentively to what GOD say­eth; we ought to hearken carefully to the voice of GOD. And therefore, Thirdly, we must search Diligently the Scriptures, for they are the Word of God, and in and by them he speaketh to us his Will and Pleasure. God hath given the Seripture, to be a Lamp unto our feet and a Light unto our Path; And so who would walk uprightly so as to Please God, must follow the Guidance thereof. 'Ts true God speaketh also Inwardly by his Spirit to the Hearts and Minds of Men, but Ordinarly it is by the outward Means of the Word. 'Tts seldom and in some singular Cases only, that he speaks to men without the Mediation of the Scriptures: However he never speaketh but agreeably to the Scrip­tures, whatever he sayeth any manner of way must be consistent with the Doctrine and Precepts of the Scriptures, for GOD neither can nor will contradict Himself. Wherefore all inward Suggestions and Inspirations must be examined by the Written word of GOD, which as St. Peter speaks in a like case, is the surer Word, 2 Pet 1. 19. We have Reason to put greater Confidence in the outward Light of the Scriptures, then what is inwardly suggest­ed; [Page 219] for we may readily deceive our selves here, and take the delusions of Satan, or our own strong Imaginations for the Inspirations of GOD'S Spirit, every one cannot distin­guish betwixt them, and indeed it is often hard for any to do it, but by comparing them to what is delivered in the Scripture, which we are sure is from GOD. We must not then be too hasty in concluding our in­clination to a thing, or aversion from it, (after that we have prayed fervently) to be from GOD unlesse it be warranted by the Word of GOD revealed in the Scripture, or at lest no wise opposite to what is there en­joyn'd us.

The Scriptures are the holy Oracles which de­liver the mind of GOD, to them therefore we must resort at all times, and on all Occa­sions to know what we should do; and by them all Persons of each Sexe, Age, Con­dition, Imployment may be instructed how to order their conversation aright before GOD. For they are so composed, that the Man of GOD, by them may be perfect, throughly fur­nished unto all good works; 2 Tim. 3. 17. 'Tis true every one will not find their particular Case Stated and Resolved, but either Di­rectly or Indirectly, either by expresse Pre­cepts or Paralel, and not much different Ex­amples, [Page 320] they shall see what may sufficient­ly inform and resolve them: And whoso will give themselves entirely up to the con­duct of GOD in his word shall without doubt (as we shewed before) either by secret Suggestions of the Spirit, See part first chap; 2? or by some speciall occurrences of his providence be Particularly di­rected in the disposall of themselves and their affairs which are of greatest concernment and to which it cannot be expected that the Scrip­ture should speak particularly. The meek will he guide in judgement, and the meek will he teach his way. All the paths of the LORD are Mercy and Truth, unto such as keep his Covenant and Testimonies; Psal. 25. 9. 10.

Thus we have shewed how we should consult GOD, and by what means wee may come to be directed by him. Now certainly it concerns us very much thus to consult Him, and to follow these Means for acquainting our selves with what is proper for us to do. The Heathens of old gloried much in their Oracles, and used to Consult them in all their affairs, though they were so uncer­tain and Ambiguous, that they proved more often Snares to entrap them, then Lights to guide them. But sure wee have much more Reason to Glory and Rejoyce [Page 321] in this Special Priviledge we have of Consult­ing the true GOD, who neither will deceive others, nor can be deceived himself; and who hath been Graciously pleased to speak to us so plainly and clearly by his Word, and who Promises farther Direction as we stand in need. Hereby we are enabled to walk wisely, and are shewed the True way of car­rying on our Happiness, and Peace, the Testimony of the Lord, saith David, is sure, making wise the simple; the commandement of the Lord is pure, enlightning the eyes. Psal. 19. 7, 8. It was a laudable custome amongst the Iews, to ask Counsel of GOD before they began any Enter­prise; and so it becomes us to resort unto the Scriptures for Counsel and Direction, where we shall receive it fully and clearly if we be desirous thereof, and follow the Direction prescribed above. David no doubt had many Counsellours, and yet he preferred the Word and Law of GOD before them all: thy testimonies, saith he, are my delight and Counsellours. And again, he tells, us that he bad more understanding then all his Teachers, for GODS Testimonies were his Meditation; Ps 119. 24. 99. It is reported of the Heathen Socra­tes that he pretended to have a certain Spirit or genius, which he used as his Counsellour; and therefore when ever he was required to [Page 322] speak or to do any thing, his usuall answer was, si Daemon permiserit, if my spirit or genius will suffer. Now it is our Happiness that we have a better Counsellour to advise with, and therefore also whenso e're any thing is pro­pounded unto us, either to our understand­ings or Wills, to be believed or practised, let our Answer be with the Psalmist, I will hear what GOD the LORD will speak Ps. 85. 8. I will first consult GOD, by the Holy Oracles of the Scriptures. And if we never conclude or resolve any thing without advising thus with GOD, we shall highly honour him and shew an entire regard unto him, and also take a Wise and most Profitable Course for our selves. But alas! As Solomon complains, wherefore is there a price in the hand of a Fool to get Wisdom, seeing he hath no heart unto it? So it may be said, to what purpose is it? And how little doth it avail us, to have the Scrip­tures, seing we make so little use of them, and take so little notice of what GOD says to us in and by them? How sad is it, and what matter of regrate to see how many miscarry in this Point? There be many who will readily consult Flesh and Blood, they will listen to the corrupt maximes of the World, they will hearken to what the Devil himself doth say, and suggest unto them; bnt only [Page 323] what GOD the LORD speaketh, they care not to hear: nay with the deaf Adder, they stop their ears and will not hearken to the voice of the Charmer, though he Charm never so wisely. And as Men hereby slight and dishonour GOD, in that they undervalue his Counsel, so they intangle themselves in a World of Trouble and Difficultys: for many, nay most of our Crosses and Sorrows, are but the effects of this folly. For when we do not ask Counsel of the LORD, but will needs take our own courses, then he blasts our de­signs, by leaving us to our selves, to stand by our own strength; and so it comes to passe, that we have no ability to conquere the difficultys we are engadg'd in, but must necessarly sink under them, whereas if we con sulted GOD, he would not fail to concur with his Power and Providence to effectuat that which he himself had advised or approved of. That therefore we may be Wise in all our Undertakings, and have Comfort in them, let us undertake nothing without GOD, let us be carefull alwayes to ask Di­rection of him, praying with David, shew me thy wayes O LORD, teach me thy paths, lead me in thy truth and teach me: for thou art the GOD of my Salvation, on thee do I wait all the day. Ps. 25. 4. And then no doubt GOD [Page 324] would guide us with his Counsel here, and receive us into Glory hereafter: If withall in the last place, we Stedfastly and Faith­fully observe the wayes he layeth before us, and keep close to the Direction he gives, which we told was the last Particular includ­ed in Walking with GOD; and which comes next to be spoken to,

Of Following GOD.

We must not Consult GOD out of curio­sity to know his Mind and Judgement, but out of a Sincere desire and Purpose to do his Will and Pleasure. As we must first Advise with him what should be done, so having understood his Mind, we should next with Care and Diligence set about the doing of it. We have Reason sometimes to dispute the Reasonablenesse and Equity of Mens Coun­sels and Advices, but we must never call in Question the Justice or Fitnesse of what GOD propeseth unto us, but ought cordially and freely to close with it. Obedience must be the fruit of our hearing, or else we Hear to no purpose; and therefore Hearing and Obeying in the Scriptures, are often taken for one and the same thing: to hear GOD is to obey him, and to consult with him, is to do his will. [Page 325] True hearing, is opus animi, non auris, it is a work of the Mind rather then the Eare: But though it reside in the Mind, yet it must spread through our Affections and Actions, otherwise it is vain and unacceptable.

As he is said to walk with one, who follow­eth him and taketh the same way he goeth, so to walk with GOD, is to follow the wayes of GOD, and to tread the whole paths of his commandments: For the end of our walking with him must be to please him, as the Septua­gint still rendreth the Phrase; now we cannot please him, if we frequently turn aside, and go out of the way which he commands us. As a true Friend we must never leave him or part with him, but must follow chear­fully whither so ever he leads us, be the way fair or foul, pleasant or unpleasant. They cannot be said to walk together who only have some accidental Rencounters: nor can he be said to Walk with GOD, who on­ly complies with him now and then, or in some particulats which sutes with his Hu­mour or proves for his Interest. They only are said to walk truely together, who hold on the same Way, keep still the same Pace, carry on the same Design, run the same dangers, and who share together in every thing: even so he only Walks with GOD, who [Page 326] Devots himself entirely to God, whose thoughts and Purposes, Motions, and Actings are all GOD'S, that is, such as he requires and which tend to his Glory; Who doth not sometimes step aside to seek his own Ease, Pleasure or Profite, nor yet taketh wayes which GOD doth not allow of, but he minds wholly the things of God, and follows altogether the courses he approves of, even though thereby he expose himself to Dan­ger and Trouble. In Walking with GOD, there must be such an Union as is betwixt a Wife and her Husband, whereby his Interest be­comes hers, which makes it her Delight and Care to Please him, and which engag­eth her to abide with him, what ever be his Lot and Condition. It was a noble and ge­nerous Friendship, which Ittai shewed to David, when he fled from Absolom, As the Lord liveth, said he, and as my LORD the King liveth, surely in what place my Lord the King shall be whither in death or Life, even there also will thy servant be. 2 Sam. 15. [...]1. Ruth ex­pressed the like towards her Mother in Law, when she said, Whither thou goest I will go, and where thou lodgest I will lodge, and the Lord do so to me and more also, if ought but death part thee and me; now if we would walk [Page 327] uprightly with GOD, we must walk after the same manner: for as none but Freinds use to walk together, so by Walking with GOD, is meant such a High and Intimate and Con­stant Friendship, which sticks not at Diffi­culties, nor startles at Dangers, but which makes a Man chearfully set about whatever the Interest or Pleasure of his Friend calls for: An Eminent Instance hereof, we have in Abraham, who therefore is called the friend of GOD; where ever GOD called him, he Chearfully followed; whatever he En­joyned, he readily Obeyed; he stumbled not at Difficulties or Dangers, or any Incon­veniences, but yielded an entire obedience to the Will of GOD when ever it was inti­mate to him.

And as this is to walk with GOD, so by walking thus with Him we make the most proper acknowledgement of him and pay the most acceptable Worship to him: for hereby we declare a true sense of his Wisdom, Goodnesse, Greatnesse, and Absolute Sove­raignity; and that we think him worthy of all Honour, Love, and Service. GOD is not truly honoured, when we make not an Oblation of the best things to him; for he who is Authour of all should be served with he best, or else he is badly requited: And [Page 328] consequently he is never truely Honoured or Worshipped but when we make an obla­tion of our whole selves to him. I beseech you therefore Brethren, saith St. Paul, by the mereies of GOD, that ye present your Bodies a living Sa­crifice, holy, acceptable to GOD, which is [...]our reasonable service, and be not conformed to this World, but [...]e transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and ac­ceptable and perfect will of GOD. Rom 12. 1, 2. Now what is it to make a Sacrifice of our selves: but only to Walk with GOD, for who Walketh with GOD as we have shewed, Sacrifices his understanding to God to Believe what he reveales, and to Contemplate what he does; he Sacrificeth his will to be entirely re­gulate by his Laws, his Affections to be plac­ed or displaced according to his Order; and in a word, his whole Life and all its Ope­rations to set forward the purposes of his Counsel and the Glory of his Name; Which indeed is a most Reasonable Service, for what lesse can be payed to him who is the Authour and preserver of our Beeing, and gives us whatever we enjoy? It is also agreeable to his Word, nay the very thing it calls for (which perhaps is true meaning of the Apost­les [...]) for the very scope of the Scripture is to teach us this and to obliege [Page 329] us thereto. Finally it is most acceptable GOD is very well pleased with these Spiri tual Sacrifices, they have an Odour of sweet Smell with him: But if they be wanting that thing which is savoury; if we do not walk closely and constantly with God as above, though we would bring never so many Burnt Offer­ings and Calves of a Year old, Thousand of Rams, and ten thousand Rivers of Oyl, yet He would not regard them. Sacrifice and Offering thou didst not desire, Burnt Offering and Sin Offering thou hast not required; then said I, Lo I come, in the Volume of the Book it is written of Me, I delight to do thy will, O my GOD, yea they Law is within my Heart. Psal. 40. 6. 7. Let none think, saith Lactantius, Divine Inst: Ep. Cap 2. that GOD requires Victims, Incense, Donations, &c. For if he be not cap­able of Hunger, Thrist, Cold, neither hath the Desire of Earthly things, he will not use th [...]se and the like which are brought unto the Temples: but as Corporeal Beings require things of the like Nature, so a Spiritual Sacrifice is only necessary to be offered to a Spiri­tual Being. What GOD hath given to Man for his use he himself needs not; and besides the whole World is his, and the fulness thereof: he needs not a Temple, who hath the World for his dwelling place nor an Image, or Statue who is [Page 330] incomprehensible; he stands not in need of Lamps and Earthly Lights, who hath kindled the Sun and the rest of the Stars for Mans behoof; what is it therefore, saith he, which GOD requireth of Man, but the inward Worship of the mind seing He himself is pure and Holy, for these things which are wrought by the Hands, and which are with­out the Man, is no true or proper Sacrifice; nei­ther that which is taken out of the Coffer, but which cometh from the Heart; nor what is offered by the Hand, but by the Soul. This is a true Sacrifice, when the Soul offereth it self unto GOD: For what signifieth other Sacrifices? What doth inccnse, what do Garments, and Gold, and Silver and Precious stones profit, if the Worshippers mind be not holy and pure? 'Tis only Righteousness which GOD seeks after, 'Tis in this that the True Worship of GOD doth consist. The true Worshippers of GOD, saith CHRIST, shall Worship him in Spirit and Truth, for the Father seeketh such to Worship him. And what is it to Worship GOD in Spirit and Truth, but to worship him by a truly holy Life, and an upright walking with him? In this is his Delight, and who taketh this way to please him, shall be counted worthy of the Kingdom of GOD. Enoch walked with GOD, and it's said, GOD took him, that is, he took him out of this wretched Life, unto his [Page 331] Heavenly Glory, And all who tread the same paths, shall meet with the same Re­ward. GOD will take every one to himself who walketh with GOD, though not after the same manner. Death puts a stop to our Walking with Men, and forces us and them to part: but it doth not break off our Walking with GOD, it doth unite us more firmly to him, this fellowship which we thus begin here, results into an Eternal Friendship and Society in the other World.

CHAP III. Of these Words, And this Stone which I have set for a Pillar, shall be GODS House, The Reason and Meaning of them.

GOD is to be Worshipped not only in Private but in Publick, he is not only to be Owned and Acknow­ledg'd a part, by our selves in Se­cret, but ought to be professed openly before all the World, by the Performance of such things as Reason and the universall Consent of Mankind hath established, to be publick Testimonies of our Alleagiance to him. [Page 332] He who doth not this Last, can never [...]e very sincere in the First; neither will GOD own such to be true Worshippers of him, who do not avowedly professe him before Men, according to that of our Saviour, whosoever shall confesse me before Men, him shall the Son of Man also confesse before the Angels of God; but he that denyeth me before Men, shall be denyed before the Angels of God. Luke. 12. 8. The very Light of Nature teacheth this, and there­fore it is that when Iacob here did Solemnly take the LORD to be his GOD, he did not only engage himself to that Inward Spiri­tual Worship, which is acted within a Man's own self, whereof we have spoken already; but also he binds Himself to that Outward and Visible Worship, which is transacted by things without the Man, that it may be manifest to al [...] the World that he Honour­ed and Adored this GOD. This stone, saith he, which I have here set up for a Pillar, shall be GOD'S house, that is, here in this place where I erect this Stone, when I come back I will build and consecrat a House to my GOD, for the Honour of his Name, and the Ce­lebrating of his Worship, where I will Call upon him and Pray unto him. The Rea­son why he pitched upon this particular place, was because GOD had made it emi­nent [Page 333] by so signal an appearance unto him, as we read before; and what moved him to build a house to GOD; was because this, was universally agreed to, as an Act of Honour due unto GOD, and as an proper instance whereby men signify their Ho­mage to him.

This which Iacob Vowed here, gives us Oc­casion to speak of Churches, or consecrated pla­ces, of Prayer, and of publick Worship.

SECTION I. Of Churches or Places Consecrat to GOD, the Origine and Necessity thereof, what Regard and Reverence should be payed them.

AND First, as it is an universal Cu­stome all the World over, to erect Temples and to Consecrat places for the Honour and Service of GOD: So this custome is most Ancient. At present there are not only Churches throughout all the Christian World: but Mahumetans and Pagans also have Temples and Religious houses of one sort or another, and it was so from the very beginning. It would seem that even our First Parents in Paradise had some more peculiar place for presenting themselves be­fore [Page 334] GOD; Gen 3. 8. And after the Fall 'tis certain, that there was a Particular place set apart for the Worship of GOD, whi­ther Abel and Cain brought their sacrifices; Noah came no sooner forth of the Arke, but he built an Altar to the LORD: and in like manner we read of all the Patriarchs that where ever they sojourned they built Altars, which were usually ranged about either with Trees or Stones, where they and their Family Worshipped GOD, and perfor­med all their Solemn Acts of devotion; their wandring course of Life would not allow them better; the Tabernacle which Moses pitch­ed in the Wilderness, was the first house of GOD we read of, which was covered and adorned with Art, and it was followed and imitated by that magnificent Temp [...]e which which Soloman built: Where all who lived at Ierusalem, and near it, resorted for the Worshipping of GOD; and whither all the Males even in the remotest parts of the Kingdom, were oblidged to come up, at least thrice a year. But though 'twas not lawfull to offer Sacrifice except in that one place, yet there was every where besides both in Towns and Villages, in the Cities and open Fields, Synagogues, and Oratories, where people came to Pray to GOD [Page 335] and to joine with others in His Worship, and to be instructed in His will. Of Synagogues there are frequent mention in the New Testa­ment, and by severall things it may be col­lected that there were of them during the first Temple: but of Oratories, or places for Prayer, we read not so often, yet they be sometimes spoken of, as particularly, Luke 6. 12. where it is said, our Saviour we [...]t into a mountain to pray and continued all night in Prayer to GOD; but the Original will rather bear in the House or Place of Prayer. So likewise, Acts 16. 13. 'tis said of Paul and others, that were with him, being come to Philippi of Macedonia, they went on the Sabbath day out of the city by a River side, where Prayer was wont to be made, or where there was an usuall Orator [...]. Th [...]s it is cer­tain that 'twas frequent every where and in every Nation, to consecrate and s [...]t a part Places and Houses for the Worship and Service of GOD: 'tis well conjectured by the Learn­ed Mr. Mede, from Iosh: 22. 16. that these Lands and Countries were reputed un­clean, where there was no such Consecrate or Devoted Places.

Now whither Men had an expresse Posi­tive Precept, for the erecting houses to GOD, and consecrating such places to him, or if they were meerly prompted thereto by the [Page 336] light of Nature, and the Stength of Reason, it doeth not very clearly appear. But how­ever it is certain, that GOD did very much approve therereof; not only by allowing his most eminent Servants to continue in the use and practice of this thing: but also by requiring it of them. Thus GOD was so well pleased with Noahs building him an al­tar, that 'tis said he smelled a sweet savour therefrom; Gen. 8. 21. and 35. 1. we have God putting Iacob in mind of the Vow which he here made, and requiring him to make performance thereof in this very parti­cular. When it first came into Davids Heart to build an house unto the LORD, the motion did so please GOD, that he sent Nathan the Prophet to tell him, that for this he would make a sure covenant with him, and establish the Crown and Throne upon him, and his house for ever; though for reasons he would not let him build the house, but deferred it to his Son So­lomon. 2 Sam: 7. And we must not look up­on Temples, as a Legall Ceremonie agreeable on­ly to the Times of the Old Testament, not pro­per or necessary now: for though GOD dwelleth not in Temples made with mens hands, and that his Worship is not fixed to one particular place, as 'twas of old, yet it's no lesse necessary now then formerly, to [Page 336] set a part Places and to consecrate Houses for the publick worship of GOD, that hereby he may be the more solemnly acknowledg'd, & that his Worship may be gone about with the great­er Decency, Gravity, and Conveniency.

These were the Reasons, no doubt which moved Men to this Act first, and their Strength and Force is as great now, and as binding as ever. Wherefore the Apostles, and first Christians, even such as was most zea­lous against Iudaisme, did not think the use of Temples to be abolished by the Chri­stian Law: but did continue the use of them, and were carefull to consecrate and set apart Churches where ever they made converts and did propagate the Gospel. For though the ontward state of Christians was then but mean and though they were also lyable to many persecutions, yet they wanted not Houses for that Worship and service of God which was peculiar to the Gospel. This the Learned Man formerly mentioned, hath made very evident; and it appears clearly from 1 Cor. 11. 22. and from these salutations to parti­cular Churches of such and such a house.

At first Temples and Religious Places were but mean, plain, and simple, without any great ornament: what the Patriarchs used seems to have been no other then open un­covered [Page 337] places, set about with trees or Stones agreeable to their own way of living, which was not constant or settled in any one place; for they dwelt in tents only and removed from place to place. There be some remain­ders of such kind of simple Oratories, yet to be seen in many places of this Kingdome. But as People became more fixt and settled, and as they farther improved in art and cunning, so they used to take greater pains in adorning their temples and religious hous­es: and judg'd it to be their glory, to have them Stately and magnificent. David was ashamed that he himself should dwell in a house of Cedar, while the Ark of the LORD was only within Curtains. And GOD com­plained by the Prophet Haggai, that the People who returned from the Captivity, should have dwelt in Cieled Houses themselves while the Temple of the Lord lay wast and unre­paired. The Churches of the first Christians 'tis like indeed were not very fine, nor could much better be expected from them, if we consider the meannesse and poverty of their State, and what hazards they run by offer­ing to meet together at all. They were then necessitate to content themselves with any place, though it had not the conveniency and adornments which they wished: but so [Page 338] soon as the Emperours turned Christians, and that the publick exercise of the Christian Religion was allowed, then Churches were e­very where built Stately and magnificent. They did not then proceed by the scant rule of meer necessity, but rendred them not on­ly convenient for themselves: but such as might speak out the greatnesse and glory of that God whom they adored. And though it cannot be denyed but that there may be an excesse in adorning Churches, when more is bestowed on them then on the poor which are GOD'S living Temples; yet certainly to have no regard of them, and to grudge any cost upon them, is an other extreme much more to be condemned; seing GOD hath been so bountiful to us, and to enrich this World for our use not only with necessaries, but with comforts, and to make it not only convenient, but also very beau­tiful, pleasant and delightful: therefore I think gratitude should oblidge us, to make an acknowledgement hereof, by adorning his temples, and taking care that these places of his special presence, have all the ornament and comlinesse, which our State and Coun­try will allow. Sure by all the rules of the World, it cannot be judged otherwayes then a contempt of GOD, or at the lest [Page 339] small esteem of him, when his houses are the worst of the Land, as is usually to be ob­served throughout this Kingdom: nay in many places are to be seen Stables and Byers much more neat and handsome then the Church­es beside them, which certainly is a most shamefull thing, and cannot but expose us to the contempt of all strangers. What a shame? and how unworthy a thing is it to be more curious about the apartment of our beasts, then the house of our GOD? GOD ordered his Son to be born in a Stable and in a Manger, to teach us humility and to be content with a mean State, but not to make us humble him thereafter by lodging him no better then our beasts. I am sory it should be said, because 'tis our shame, but it is true that we have many Churches, which look rather like barns byres and stables, and would be as proper for that use, then what they are design'd for. God did expresly pro­hibite under the law, the dedicating the worst things unto him, and I cannot understand what precept or example can be pretended forwarranding this under the Gospel: I would think Nature as well as Religion doth teach the contrary. GOD and Kings should be al­wayes honoured with what is best, and there is reason that the Courts of both be beautified [Page 34] and Adorned with State and Splendour, that thereby that Reverence and Respect which is due from all who approach them, may be engendered, nourished & increased. But by Adorning of Churches, I doe not mean what is in use in the Romish Church, viz. I­mages, Lamps, Puppets, rare and various Curiosities, &c. which are of no use in the Service of God, and do but divert the minds of those who come up to Worship; gaudy shews are not the true ornament of Churches but what makes them Grave, August, and Venerable. And therefore the same Rules are to be observed in building of Churches, which Wise and Discreet Persons follow in their Cloaths, who seek out what is Decent and Useful, and are careful to shun both what is nesty and course, and also, what is Gaudy and Vain; because the one speaks out a mean sordide Spirit, and the other too much lightness and childishness.

But whatever Churches be as to their exter­nal matter or form, whither they be well or ill adorned, there is a holy respect and reverence due unto them; their having or wanting the externall Ornaments of Art or Beauty, does not alter their Nature, or make them more or lesse the House of GOD, which is the thing their very name imports, for Kirk or Church [Page 342] is from the Greek [...] which is as much as the Lords. And upon this account they should be had in reverence, more then for their Outward Pomp and splendour. Every thing which relates to GOD is Sacred, and should be reverently dealt with, and particularly his Temples; wherefore it is that the Wise-man adviseth, to keep our foot when we go to the house of GOD. Ecl. 5. 1. He there alludes to the common Custome of pulling off the shoes in to­ken of respect and reverence, And though that particular Act be now out-dated and worn out of fashion, yet still 'tis necessary to carry reverently towards them; For GOD him­self commands it, saying, ye shall reverence my Sanctuary, and the reason he gives is, be­cause I am the LORD; Lev. 19. 30. Now this Reverence to the House of GOD, was no Temporal Ceremonie peculiar to the time of the Law: but even a Moral Duty, to be continu­ed as long as it is necessary to keep up the use of Churches and consecrated Places, which will be ever necessary in this World; as doth appear from our Saviour's Zeal, in scourging out of the Temple, such as have profaned it, by buying or selling therein. And the Apostle S [...]. Paul inveighs against the Corinthians for that abuse which crept in amongst them in the Celebration of the Lords Supper, whereby in eat­ing [Page 343] every one, did take before another, and one was hungry and another drunken: because as he tells them 'twas not only contrary to the Na­ture and Purport of the Sacrament, but also a contempt of the house of GOD, and a want of reverence towards it. What, saith he, have ye not houses to eat or drink in? Or de­spise ye the Church of GOD; 1 Cor. 11. 22. And when the same Apostle urgeth the not defil­ing the Body, because it is the Temple of GOD; it is evident that he takes it as a certain and undoubted Truth, that what is the Temple of GOD should not be prophaned, or else his Argument would not be good or valid. Through all the World it is a custome to respect the Presence Chamber of Kings, and such places wherein they use to appear in Majesty and State, and to behave Reverent­ly towards them, even when they are not Personally present: And how much great­er Reason is there to pay the like Respect and Reverence to the House of GOD, and those Places where he uses to meet and bless his People, and where he is alwayes special­ly present, by the Attendance of his Angels and Ministring Spirits? For that Churches are thus Honoured with the special Presence of GOD, seems to be very evident from the Scripture, both of the Old and New Testament. [Page 344] GOD indeed is not in Temples so as to be in­cluded in them; we must not think that his Essence can be shut up any where, where­fore in this 'tis true, that He dwelleth not in Temples made with Mens hands; Nay, the very Heaven of Heavens do not contain Him: But how ever it is certain that He is and may be said to be more present in his Temples and Churches, then in other places.

When GOD is said thus to be more pre­sent in one place then another, it is either when there are some more visible Effects of His Presence by the conferring of special Blessings; or when his Heavenly Host is there: for so Iacoh here declared GOD to be in this place, because he saw the Angels of GOD a­scending and descending. Now that GOD is present in his Churches, the first way appears from Exod. 20. 24. Where GOD saith ex­presly, in all places where I record my Name, I will come unto thee, and I will blesse thee, upon which account the Tabernacle, was called the Tabernacle of the Congregation or meeting, not of Mens meeting, but of GOD'S meeting with Men. The like Promise our LORD gives us, Mat. 18. 20. Where he saith where two or three are gathered together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them. And that he is also present the other way, viz. by the atten­dance [Page 345] of his Angels and Heavenly Host, was not only the constant Opinion of the Iews, concerning their Temple; but is also express­ed plainly by Solomon, Eccl. 5. 6. When he sayes concerning our behaviour in the House of GOD, Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin, neither say thou before the Angels that it was an errour. And in like manner, St. Paul pleads against the undecency of Womens being un­covered in the Church, because of the presence of Angels: for this cause, saith he, ought the Wo­man to have power over her head, because of the Angels; 1 Cor. 11. 10. Christ telleth us, Mat. 23. 21 That God dwelleth in his Temple, and how can he be said to do it more there then else where, but this way.

Now that we may make what hath been said usefull to direct our practice, we will proceed to draw some inferences. And first it teacheth us, that it is the duty of all those who would Worship GOD aright and who would manifest themselves to be his Devoted Servants, to take care to consecrate places for his Service, and to erect Churches for his Wor­ship where there are none; and to contribute chearfully to the maintaining and keeping them up where they are: for the Honour and Glory of God requires it, and Nature as well as Scripture teacheth this to be a proper [Page 346] Act of Homage and acknowledgement due to GOD. It is the Duty of all who own and believe in him, to meet frequently toge­ther to Worship Him, and that Worship which is due unto him, can never be right­ly performed, with requisite solemnity and de­cency, unlesse there be particular places Conse­crate for it. And if there be no care taken, what sort of places these are, if they be suf­fered to be Mean, Nasty, Sordide, and Sloven­ly, it will very much lessen Peoples esteem for GOD and his Service: for whilst Men are in this World, they will be still creatures of Sense, and their Apprehension of things will be alwayes according to the outward im­pression they make upon their Senses. How comes it that the meanner sort especially, are lesse awed in the Church, then when they are in the houses of Lords and Gentlemen? but because in these they see something of Gran­deur, but in the other nothing finer then what they have at home in their own silly Cottages.

Secondly, what Iacob Vowed and resolved on here, may be a fit Patern and Precedent to all the great Ones of the World, whose Quality and Condition makes it requisite for them to have great and Magnificent dwellings: viz. That they allow some [Page 347] particular room in these their Dwellings, and Palaces, for a private Chappel and House of GOD, wherein they and their Family may dayly meet together to Worship Him. If they do not think their houses and dwellings convenient or answerable to their Grandeur unlesse there be in them several Apartments for severall Offices; me thinks also they should judge them defective, if they cannot allow one spare Room to be reserved for GOD and his dayly service. We would not have any believe us so Superstitious, as to think no Prayers acceptable, but such as are made in the House of GOD or consecrated Places; for without doubt, God will hear all who call upon him in sincerity & truth, where­soever they are: but yet there is great conveni ency & decency, in appropriating one parti­cular place for the performance both of our private and more Solemn Devotions with the rest of the Family; for then we are not so lyable to disturbance and distractions: & therefore if our state & condition allow it, it were com­mendable to set apart some particular room of our house for this end only. It is not to be expected that the generality can win to to this, yet those of the best Quality I think may, and if they may, they ought too: & if they would thus give GOD an Interest in [Page 348] their Houses and dwelling Places, we may very confidently say 'twould be their best security, Except the Lord keep the house, they la­bour in vain that keep it; and he would not fail to preserve and maintain that House and Family where he is so highly Honoured and devotely served. But alas this is little looked to now a dayes! There be very few who regard much the interessing God in their houses, by the consecrating them or any part of them to him; and which is farr worse, who take any care to have Him Worshipped in their Fa­milies either inseparate or comon Rooms. This part of Religion is but little in request amongst the Grandees of the World, it is laid aside as an Antick and unfashionable thing: and as their practice in other things is too ordinarly a Law unto the inferiour Sort of People, so 'tis very much to be re­grated that it is so here. How seriously the Heads of Families Worship GOD in their Clo­sets, we do not, and we cannot know; but 'tis too apparent, that there is but little care taken to have him Worshipped decently by all the Family together; nay, this is now scarce lookt upon by any as their Duty; Io­shua thought it incumbent upon him, when he said, as for me and my house we will serve the LORD; as if he had said, not I in my single [Page 349] capacity, but I also with my whole Family; and not I only by my self alone in private, but I also with all my House; we shall be carefull to serve Him and Devotely to call upon Him: which certainly every one whose heart is sincere with GOD will endeavour to imitate. Fa­mily Worship becomes now the more necessa­ry, that there is no publick Worship Evening and Morning in our Churches; if this were, Ma­sters of Families should with their Families attend it, and so the want of the other might be much excused: but seing we are not so happy as to have a dayly publick worship, every Family should serve God apart. And though as we have said, there be some reason for set­ting apart particular Rooms, for the exercise of Family Worship, by such as can do it conve­niently; yet the want of such conveniency; needs neither be a hinderance to this necessa­ry serving of GOD, nor will it excuse the ne­glect thereof. When we cannot serve God as we would, we ought to do it as we may, when we honour him as far as we are able, he will not impute the want of what is with­out our reach as a sin to us. Though there be no Room nor apartment in our house, but what of necessity must be put to com­mon use; yet let us not neglect to offer unto [Page 350] GOD Evening and Morning the Sacrifices of Prayer and Thanksgiving, and they shall certainly find acceptance in his Sight. By doing this our House and Family shall be a little Sanctuary unto GOD, who will graci­onsly vouchsafe to dwell in them, and to e­stablish with us his Comfortable Presence, which should afford us greater Peace and quiet and Satisfaction, and should prevent those Un­natural Tarres and Disorders, which fall out too commonly amongst those of the same Family. If GOD were much among them, these things would not be; and he is not a­mong them, because his Name is not called upon, nor his Worship observed by them.

Thirdly, we may see by what hath been said, how much it is our Duty to frequent the House of of GOD; for as it is Religion to e­rect Churches and Temples, so 'tis with a De­sign to use them, and to come up unto them to call upon GOD, and to hear what he will say to us. When Iacob resolved to build GOD an House, he did not mean to shut the door thereof, and to be a Stranger thereunto; but to visit it often that he might have Opportunity of meeting and conversing with His GOD. If civili­ty and kindnesse draw us to the House of our Neighbour; and if such as are about Kings Courts, be oblidg'd to come and at­tend [Page 351] the King's person at those hours when the Court opens up, or that he presents himself; sure we should think our selves much more oblidg'd to come up to the House of GOD, and to wait upon him at these times and hours which he hath appointed for meeting with us. What a Honour and happinesse is it to have the freedom to stand in his presence, and the Liberty to speak unto Him? The Psalmist, it seems, thought it a great hap­pinesse when he cryed out, Blessed is the Man whom thou choosest, O LORD, and causest to ap­proach unto Thee, that he may dwell in thy Courts: we shall be satisfied with the goodnesse of thy house, even of thy holy Temple. Ps. 65. 4. And again, How amiable are thy Tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts, My soul longeth, yea fainteth for the Courts of the LORD. Blessed are they that dwell in thy House, they will be still praising thee. Ps. 84. Hereby it appears that he looked upon the Priests and Levits as very happy, whose Office ob­lidg'd them to a continuall attendance on GOD'S House; their Lot he thought was worthy of his ambition: for though he was a King, and upon that account might have commanded the Chiefest Pleasures and Delights of the Sons of Men, yet he undervalued them all in comparison of the Priviledge of being in GOD'S House. A day in thy Courts, saith he, [Page 352] is better then a thousand; I had rather be a door keeper in the house of my GOD, then to dwell in tents of Wickedness. This favour he sought a­bove all things, and preferred before all things, as he plainly tells us, Ps. 27. 4. where he saith, One having have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the LORD, all the dayes of my life, to behold the Beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his Temple. And certainly whosoever comes up to the House of GOD, with a sincere Love to and desire after Him, shall receive much Comfort and Good thereby. It is not an Honour only, but an advantage also to be in GOD'S presence: for he still leaves a Blessing behind him and hath expresly promised to meet with us in His House to blesse us, as you have it, Exod. 20. 24. In token hereof the Ministers of GOD are appointed to blesse in His Name, as appeared from Deut. 10. 8. which in all Reason must be extended to Evangeli­cal Ministers, seing GOD'S Goodnesse is not narrower, but larger then it was of old, We are not then to look upon Pastoral Bene­dictions, especially in the solemn assemblies, only as intimations of their own good wish­es; but as Authoritative declarations of the Good will of GOD, which are effectuall upon such as are worthy; See Mat. 10. 13. [Page 353] Let none therefore withdraw from the House of GOD, but let all accept of all Occasions of coming up thereto; as David who tells us, I was glad when they said unto me, let us go in­to the House of the LORD. Ps. 122. 1. For our coming shall not be in vain, GOD will not suffer such as sincerely seek him to return without profite. I said not to any of the seed of Iacob seek ye Me in vain. Isa. 45. 19. They speak Ignorantly and unadvisedly, who say, they will not be the better by coming to the Church, and that they may profite themselves as well at home: For seing GOD hath promised to be there, such as are truly dispos'd and seek Him in sincerity, shall undoubtedly find Him; they shall feel the influences of His Spirit moving on their Hearts, and shall be made to taste and see his Goodness, that by Expe­rience as well as by Reason they may under­stand it is good for them to draw near to God. It is true God is not tyed to the Church or Pub­lick meetings, but may & will manifest him­self to his Servants also in other places; yet they are not likeliest to find him at home, who stay there out of a contempt of the Church, which is the place he himself hath appointed for a Solemn meeting with his Peo­ple. We ought not to despise or neglect those means of Comfort and Happinesse which [Page 354] GOD hath prescribed, but to use them Pi­ously and Thankfully; waiting humbly up­on Him, that in and by them he may blesse us. 'Tis a tempting of GOD, to expect or desire he should shew himself or conveigh his blessings by wayes extraordinary, while the ordinary means may be had. What is better then to find GOD? What is more de­sireable then to receive Expressions of His fa­vour? And where shall we seek him? Or where may we with greater assurance expect these, then where he hath promised to be found, to wit, in His House and Ordinances? Let us then resort thither, and we shall find Him whom our Soul Loveth, who shall resolve our Doubts, and Advise us in the Way we should take; he shall ease our Hearts of our Secret Grief, comfort us against all our Troubles, and shall Refresh us with new Strength and vigour, to enable us to endure patiently to the End of our Race, that so we may obtain the Crown of life. I have known some (and I believe 'twill be found nothing extraordinary) who upon their coming to Church, have receiv­ed a Resolution of their Particular Doubts, Comfort for their Particular Troubles, and who when they little expected it have had their present Case touched as if the Preacher had mainly aimed at them, when yet he [Page 355] neither knew them, norintended them. Weak Preachers will drop now and then good and usefull Speeches, and though their Discourse in the grosse be not Learned nor Eloquent, yet sometimes they let fall short sentences which may be, and often prove more bene­ficial then more fine and Elaborat Ser­mons. I have known Digressions in Ser­mons, what is usually termed a running from the Text, more pertinent to some of the Hearers, then if the Minister had kept more close to his Subject, because they were there­by struck home, and hit upon some Parti­culars of their Condition which concerned them to understand, and to be rightly in­form'd of. If then Men would but lay aside their prejudices, put themselves in a Sutable Disposition, and listen attentively, they might and without doubt should be Edified and Bettered by coming to Church. The appre­hended weakness of him who is to Offici­at, ought to be no discouragement, for GOD often useth weak and mean things to effectuat great Matters, & by what we account the foolishnesse of preaching, he doth save those that believe. Though there were no Sermon, 'twould be our Duty nevertheless to come up to Church, that thereby we may testify our homage to GOD and acknowledgment [Page 356] of him: but however for our Encourage­ment, if we be sincerely desirous to hear what GOD the LORD will speak, he will speak good one way or other.

In the last place, when we come up to the House of GOD, we ought to be carefull to lay aside every thing which may offend, and be unbecoming so Divine and holy a Presence: while we are there, we should behave our selves decently and reverently; for if the presence of Kings over-awe us, how much more should the presence of GOD and Angels? If it be im­proper and most unseemly to appear any ways light frothy & impertinent before Kings, especially when they are sitting in Majesty, and State, it is sure much more unworthy to be guilty of Indiscretion in the House of GOD, which is the Place where God is alwayes present, and that in Majesty and State too by the atten­dance of Angels and Ministring Spirits. It were far better not to approach the House of GOD, then not to be reverent when we are in it: he who stayes away is but guilty of neglect, which though it be a great sin, yet 'tis not so great as insolency & a downright affront­ing of GOD, which he is guilty of who laugheth, Sporteth, talketh idlely, or any ways playeth the Fool within the Church, or sleepeth and snorteth away the time [Page 357] therein to the Scandal and disturbance of o­thers; or who abstracts his mind from the Service of GOD, and imployes his thoughts in Worldly Matters. Such behaviour, and irreverent Carriage cannot but highly pro­vock God, and obstruct our own Good and Benefite. If we do not meet with GOD when we come to Church if he do not blesse us, if we find our selves no whit bettered, the reason must be our Irreverent and un­seemly Behaviour, or some indisposition in our selves, for GOD is alwayes ready and will­ing to manifest Himself. Wherefore if we would see the Beauty of the Lord in his Temple; or if we would taste the goodness of his house; we must guard against those things which may provock him to withdraw himself from us. And must labour so to please him by a Humble, Devout and Reverent Behaviour, as that he may condescend to come and manifest himself to our souls for our edification and comfort. And to what purpose is it to come, if you be not resolved to do Reverence to GOD by coming? what a dishonour is done to the House of GOD? When you only come up unto it, because you know not otherwise how to spend the Time, or when you make it on­ly a place for meeting with your neighbours where you talke about Newes and other [Page 358] Worldly Affairs, and where you may be informed what Garb and Dresse is most in Fashion, or where you may Sleep and take your rest, or where without Disturbance you may ruminate on your Business and projects. as St. Paul said to the Corinthians, have ye not houses to eat and drink in, so I say, have ye not other places to do these things in? Or do ye indeed despise the Church of GOD,

Consider I pray you, that the Church (as St. Chrisostome saith Vid. Mede, lib. 2. p. 439) is no Bar­bers or Drug-sellers Shop, nor any o­ther Crafts-mans or Merchants Work­house in the Market place; but the place of Angels, the place of Arch-Angels, the Palace of GOD, Heaven it self; think near whom thou standest, with whom thou invocatest GOD; namely with Cherubims and Seraphims, and all the powers of Heaven: Consider but what companions thou hast: let it be sufficient to perswade thee to Sobrie­ty, when thou remembrest that thou who art compounded of Flesh and Blood, art admitted with the incorporeal Powers to celebrate the common Lord of all: when thou goest into a King's Palace thou composest thy self to Comeliness in thy Habite, in thy lookes, in thy gate, and in all thy whole guise: but here is indeed the Pala [...]e of a King, and the like attendance to that in Heaven, and dost thou laugh? &c. I know well enough thou seest it [Page 359] not, but hear thou me, and know that Angels are every where, and that chiefly in the House of God, they attend upon their King, where all is filled with these incorporeal powers.

SECT. II. Of Prayer.

HAving had occasion to treat of Chur­ches or Sacred places, I judge it ne­cessary to subjoine some short dis­course on Prayer, seing that this is the ve­ry use, & end of these: For upon this account the Church in Scripture is called the House of Prayer. The very design of consecrate hous­es or Places, is that Men may have in them conveniency for Prayer; & thither men were wont to come, not only to joyne in the pub­lick Worship, but also for the performance of their private Devotions. But because our Lord perceived that the resorting to such publick Places, so often as we need to pray, might Minister to pride and vanity, which spoile the odour of our Prayers, and hinder their acceptance with GOD; therefore he hath advised us, Mat. 6. to choose out the [Page 360] most secret and retired Places, for our Pri­vate Prayers and addresses to GOD: and though the place we pray in, have not the Honour to be appropriate to GOD, yet our Prayers shall find acceptance, if they be sin­cere and rightly qualified. Prayer doth in some sense sanctify the place, but the place can add no weight or worth to our Prayers. It may be more convenient for us to pray in one place more then ano­ther, but our Prayers will not be more ac­ceptable to GOD upon the account of the place they are said in. GOD is every where, and we may freely addresse our selves to him any where, and where ever Men lift up holy hands in Prayer without wrath or doubting they shall be heard. If Churches be imployed to any other use then prayer, and religious services, they are profaned. See Mark 11. 15. but it is not necessary, nor expedient to goe to Church each time we pray to GOD. The Church should be reserved for Publick Worship chiefly, but as for what we do apart by our selves, we ought to seek out Places of the greatest privacy to do it in, and as I said in the former section, if our State would suffer it, 'twould be very pro­per and convenient to set apart one particu­lar Room of our House for this end, that [Page 361] we may perform our Devotions with the greater freedom, and be less lyable to di­sturbance, and those interruptions which persons usually meet with who want this con­veniency.

But to leave the circumstance of the place, and to come to the thing it self. Prayer is a speciall part of Divine Worship, enjoined by clear precepts, recommeded by the example of all holy Men, and so necessary that who prayeth not at all or but seldome, cannot be said to Worship GOD, whatever el [...]e they doe: For their other Acts cannot be pro­perly referred to GOD, if they be not ac­companied with Prayers. Our obligation to Prayer ariseth not from one, but from all the Divine Attributes; and by Prayer there is an acknowledgement of all of them: He who prayeth declareth GOD'S Omnipre­sence, His Omniscience, His Omnipotence and All sufficiency, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him. But who neglecteth Prayer doth not believe these Divine Perfecti­ons, or doth not seriously consider them; he maketh no actuall acknowledgment of them, nay he lives in open defiance of them, and arrogates to himself an indepen­dency and self-sufficiency, which are GOD'S prerogative.

[Page 362]Again there can be no Intercourse with GOD, but by the means of Prayer. With­out Prayer we can never arrive at he end of Religion, viz. Union with GOD, and participation of the Divine Nature. He who is not exercised in Prayer hath his Heart a­lienat from GOD, and is wholly indisposed for receiving the Spirit of GOD, and the impression thereof, without which there is no advancing towards perfection Prayer is by some compared to Breathing, and not unfit­ly; for what that is to the Body, Prayer is to the Soul; respiration is no more necessa­ry to our NaturallLi'e, then Prayer to the Spirituall Life, for hereby it [...]s preserved: & as the stiffling our breath ends our Life, so the ceasing to pray destroyes the life of God in the Soul. The b [...]dy which breaths not has no sense or feeling, nor is it capable of motion; even so the man who prayeth not, is without all due sense of GOD, neither maketh he any motion towards him Pray­er is a sign of Spirituall Life, and shews a desire and capacity to receive what is necessa­ry to growth and perfection: and as the want of such a desire and capacity obstructs the communication of GOD'S Spirit▪ so where this is he will certainly manifest his L [...]ve, and bestow his Grace. To him who hath the de­sire [Page 363] and capacity shall be given. He who asketh shall receive, he who seeketh shall find, and who knock [...]th it shall be opened unto him. Mat. 11.

But to make Prayer acceptable to GOD, and thus profitable to our selves, it must be rightly performed and duely qualified. true Prayer is alwayes acceptable as incense, and never failes to bring down a Blessing; but many deceive themselves with a meer shew, they are contented that they seem to Pray, but do not Pray really: some Pray much, but yet are never a whit nearer GOD, nor move more forward in Holinesse, which is both the undoubt­ed Sign, and the certain Effect of true Prayer. We ought then not only to Pray, but to pray aright, else all the Labour we bestow this way is in vain. Ye ask, saith St. Iames, and ye have not, why? because ye ask amiss.

Now that our Prayers may be proper Prayers and effectuall; first, We must take heed that they be the Work of the Spirit, and not the Labour of the Lips: For GOD is a Spirit, and will be Worshipped in Spirit and Truth, That is, by free and proper Acts of the Mind and not by empty shews which have no Solidity or Reality in them. If our Hearts be removed, he cares not for our drawing near with our mouth, or the [Page 364] honouring him with our Lips as we learn from Isa: 29. 1 [...]. To prostrate our Bo­dies before GOD, and to let our Minds [...]ove and wander, is to offer a dead Sacrifice which is no Reasonable, or acceptable Service; to utter words which we do not understand, or whose meaning we attend not to, is not to pray but to prat, it is to bable without sense, to make a sound which signifies no­thing and deserves no more to be regarded, then the pronunciation of Puppets and Me­chanicall Engines, which is performed by Wheels, and Springs without understand­ing. Our Prayers are but bruitish gru [...]t­lings, if they come not from the Heart and be not performed by the understanding. Wherefore when we are to Pray, we should first fix our Spirits, and compose our Minds to a serious Attention, and should endeavonr to wind up our Souls to that fer­vour and earnestness which is Sutable to the weight▪ and importance of Prayers: And to this purpose, [...] will be necessary to bestow some time in Meditation, and Reading of the Seriptures, or some other devout book.

Having thus reduced our Minds to a due Attention, and secured as much as possible a­gainst wandering thoughts; in the next place we must consider the several parts of Prayers, [Page 365] the Nature and Property of each, and the Affections sutable thereto, and frame our Prayers accordingly: For they cannot be acceptable if lame and defective, nor though they have all necessary parts, if each part be not rightly Adjusted and Properly qualified. To clear this better, we will touch a little on them;

The first part of Prayer is Adoration and Invocation. This we should alwayes begin with, for as in our addresses to Kings and great Personages, we use first to do them reverence, and to testify their dignity before we present our requests: So in our addres­ses to GOD, we should first adore his Maje­sty and invocate his Audience. Now the right way to do this, is not to be accoast him with a heap of bigge tittles; but to call to mind his incomprehensible Nature, and Ado­rable perfections, visible in his manifold Works. And if our apprehensions of GOD be wor­thy of him, we will be abashed at our selves as unfit for so great a presence, and most unworthy to be regarded by one so highly exalted above all our thoughts: To ex­presse which and to cherish it too, 'tis re­quisite to throw our selves in some humble posture. Thus the Publican to signify his own vileness, and GODS greatness, he stood [Page 366] a far off, and would not lift up his eyes, as one ashamed of himself. But lest the reflecting u­pon GODS Majesty and Greatness, should take away the hopes of Acceptance, and rather fill us with dread then confidence in him; we must remember his Goodness, his Love, his Mercy, and how that he is reconciled to us in his Son IESUS CHRIST. Therefore our Saviour hath taught us to draw near to GOD as in a sense of his Ineffable Grea­tness whose throne is in the Heavens, so un­der the notion of a Father who is alwayes ready and easie to be entreated: When ye pray, saith he, say Our Father which art in Heaven; &c.

Confession is another part of Prayer. This must by no means be omitted, GOD re­quires it; the rules of Justice and Equitie make it necessary, and there is no Remissi­on without it; he who confesseth hath the promise of pardon, but who covereth his Sins shall not prosper. To perfom this aright we must consider both our Generall and parti­cular State, and make an acknowledgement of them: In the Generall we ought to ac­knowledge what is common to us with all others, that we are of a rebellious Race, miserably corrupted, and prone to all evil; but we must not rest here, but must subjoine also a con­fession [Page 367] of our own particular faults, all our sinful inclinations and actual transgressions, with their Aggravating Circumstances: for which purpose we ought to search our hearts, to ex­amine our Disp [...]sitions, and to take account of our Lives. But if we make only a simple Confession, it will avail us little; we must not confess our sins to GOD, as usual People do the offences they give one another, or some great Man, which they do clearly out of Complement, or out of Constraint to shun some present inconveniency, without any dere [...]ation of the thing: But as we must be ingenuous in confessing our Sins, so we ought to confesse them with sorrow and contrition. Confession is a meer mockery, if it proceed not from an abhorrency at Sin; and be not atten­ded with indignation at our selves, and back­ed with unfeinged purposes to abandon Sin, and guard against it: wherefore when we confesse, 'twill be necessary to consider how every sinful act is a complex of Injustice, Ungratitude, Arrogancy, madness and Fol­ly, that sin is most loathsome in its Na­ture, and most mischeivous in its Conse­quences. But because GOD requires us not to remember and confesse our Sins, that we may be filled with despair: But to stirr up in us desires of Mercy, and to prepare us [Page 368] for it▪ So having humbled our Souls with the sight of our sins, and wrought our selves to an earnest Desire of being delivered from the stain and Guilt of them, we should next support our selves with the comfortable con­sideration of GODS infinite Mercy, how that he is most ready and willing to forgive, and how that to make way for his Mercy to Sinners, he hath sent his own Son to satisfy for our sins, and to repair his Honour which by our sins is affronted and baffled; we should consider that IESUS CHRIST is the True Sacrifice and Propitiation for sin, which by Faith we should offer up to GOD and thereupon both ask forgivenesse and confidently hope for it.

A third part of Prayer is Petition or a humble Representation of our Desires to GOD; which he calls for, to teach us our Dependance on him, that 'tis in him we live, move, and have our being, and that we may acknowledge Him the Authour and Giver of all good. To the right performance of this part, we must first have a sense of our own indigency, and a strong Faith in Gods Power and Goodness, in his Power that he is able, and in his goodnesse that he is willing to give us what we aske: For 'tis a vain thing to ask of another what we think we [Page 369] need not, or what we may get without him; and 'tis no less vain to address our selves to one in whom we have no Confi­dence, whose Power or Goodness we very much doubt. Now to▪ perswade us of GODS Power and Goodness, and of our own Misery and Poverty, we need but to read the Scripture, call to mind the Nature and Works of GOD, and take an impartial view of our selves. Secondly, we ought to look to the Aime and Reason of our Desires that we have a right end before us; for if we have an evil intention, our Desires are sinful and unworthy to be presented to GOD, who is most Iust and Holy, and who cannot be perverted from what is right▪ Our Desires therefore must not ter­minate in our selves, we must not intend our own Honour, Glory, Pleasure, &c: in this World; that must be the cheif end of our Desires and Petitions, which is the last end of our Life and Beeing, viz. GOD him­self and his Glory. This our Saviour teach­eth us in that short Prayer he prescribed; for there we are commanded in the first place to Pray that GODS name be hallowed, that his Kingdom may come; But this doth not debarr us from respecting our own Eternal Fe­licity, for the Glory of GOD, which we [Page 370] should seek includes that; in seeking the Glory of GOD, we seek our own Eternal interest, and we cannot aime at Heaven with­out aiming at the Glory of GOD: these two are inseparable. 3ly. We ought carefully to consider the matter of our Requests, that in this also they be good and proper, that is, agreeable to the will of GOD; for it is not lawful for us to crave what he hath not approved. And therefore we must acquaint our selves well with the Holy Scripture, in which GOD hath revealed his Will, and thereby regulate all our Desires: what he hath allowed we may, what he hath com­manded, we ought to ask; but what he hath forbidden we should pray against. From hence it follows. 4ly. That we ought to pray with all earnestnesse for all Spiritual Blessings: but as for Temporal things, though we should Pray for them too, yet not Peremptorly, but with a Resignation to the wise Disposal of GOD'S Will: the Reason of this Difference is, because he hath absolutely approved of Spiritual Blessings, but hath declared other­wise anent Temporal Benefits; and because he hath made it alwayes necessary for us to be Good, Holy, Chaste, Sober, Meek, & c. But it is not always expedient for us to have health and outward Peace, Prosperity, and other [Page 371] temporal good things, nor is it expedient for us to know when they are fit for us. Fifthly, and lastly, each time we pray, we should not only consider our general State as Men and Christians, and ask what is agreeable there­to: But also our particular Station, the Condi­tion of our Body and Soul, the tentations we are in or lyable to; and in a word, all the Circumstances of our Affairs both Spiri­tual and Temporal, and lay them open before GOD, and frame Desires sutable to each of these things: as a Man goeth to his Friend with a thing which befalls him, and as the Sick and Infirm make the Physitian ac­quainted with all their Distempers, so we should never fail to impart our State and all our Concerns to GOD, and to ask the Direction and Assistance he knows we stand in need of: Which being done in Faith of his Power and Good-will, as was said be­fore, cannot but be a great Ease and Satis­faction to our Minds, because then we may have this confidence, that we shall have the Peti­tions we desired of Him; 1 Iohn 5. 15. For as all things are possible to GOD, so all that is good and fit shall be done to them who believe in Him or rely upon Him; Bles­seod are they who believe, for there shall be a per­formance of these things which are told them of the LORD.

[Page 372] Intercession makes a fourth part of Prayer, this St. Paul enjoyns, 1 Tim. 2. 1. and it is insinua­ted in the Tenor of the LORD'S Prayer, for that being prescrib'd to be a Form of private Prayer, and yet runing all alongs in the plural number; it teacheth us that while we pray for our selves, we should also be careful to hold up the concerns of others. Selfishness is contra­ry to the temper of the Christian Religion, and it tenders our Prayers ineffectual; For GOD hears us and deals with us only according as we are disposed towards others, with what measure we mett it shall be measured to us. The Apostle requires expresly that our Prayers be without wrath, 1 Tim. 2. 8. intimating thereby that where there is wrath, there is no acceptance; And according to the Christian Law, there is Wrath, where Kindness is not testified; he hates who does not love; he envies anothers Hap­piness, who does not heartily wish it: That therefore our Prayers may be effectual for our selves, we must present Supplications for others; that we may taste the goodness of GOD, let us not confine it to our selves, but heartily wish it extended to all the rest of the World. That GOD may be glorified in others as well as in us, thus it is our duty to pray for all Men, whom we must specify ac­cording to their various Conditions and [Page 373] Necessities, because we cannot name every one in particular; but St. Paul bids us pray, especially for Kings, and those in Civil Authority, in the forecited place, and for our Spiritual Guides and Rulers, in several of his Epistles: both because they have much need to be prayed for, and also in that the good of Man­kind much depends upon them. And as Na­ture teacheth us to particularize those who are near or dear to us, so Religion requires us expresly to mention our Enemies: and if our hearts will not suffer us to do this, we need not pray at all, as our Saviour plainly intimats; Matth. 5. 23. 6. 14.

The fifth Particular whereof Prayer should consist, is Praise or Thanksgiving, this must be alwayes joyned to our Prayers according to the Apostles Precept, Col. 4. 2. 1 Thes. 5. 18. Very Nature teacheth us to be thankful to our Benefactors, and to make an acknowledg­ment of their Favours, so that an unthank­ful person has been ever esteemed among Heathens most odious; what Obligations then are on us to give thanks to GOD, who is the great Benefactor, and who is even the Author of all the favours which others con­fer? And we are the more oblidged to make this hearty and thankful acknowledg­ment, because tis all the requital he seeks, & all [Page 374] we can return for what he does to us: for we cannot be profitable to him again, as we may be to our fellow creatures, our requests & the desires of our heart are intimat by thanksgiv­ing, as much as by Formal Petitioning, as appears from Phil. 4. 6. and moreover hereby, we in a manner lay obligations on GOD, both to continue the benefite, and also to grant us what else we aske: whereas by our unthank­fulness, we provock GOD to withdraw his Blessing already bestowed, and to turn away from our Prayers; How unrea­sonable is it to desire or expect a kindness from him, to whom we have shewed our selves unthankfull, for what he hath already done? But because GOD measureth our Thankfulness not by our Words, but by the inward sentiments and affections of our hearts, therefore we should consider, First, the num­ber of those blessings which God bestows on us, how they are almost, nay altogether infinite, for who can reckon up all the Publick and Private, the Temporal and Spiritual Bles­sings they enjoy, the Good they possess, and the Evils which they want? for as he gives the one, so he withholds the other. As the Psalmist speaketh, Many, O LORD my GOD, are thy wonderful Works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts [Page 375] which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee; if I would declare and speak of them, they are moe then can be numbred. Psal. 40. 5. 2ly. The greatness of them, what matter of Content and Satisfaction they af­ford, especially such as are Spiritual, for without them we should be Eternally miserable. 3ly. How freely they are bestowed, for they are all Acts of pure love in GOD, being given with­out either merit on our part, or profite or gain to Himself. 4ly. How undeservedly they are continued, we rebell against GOD, grieve his Spirit, and give him dayly manifold Provocations and yet he still loads us with his Benefits: if any Parent received but the thou­sand part of these injuries from his only Son, He would certainly abandon him. By these considerations, we must labour to make our selves sensible of GOD'S Goodness to­wards us, and to estimate truly these expres­sions thereof we have received, that our af­fections towards him may be enflam'd, and that our Souls and all within us may be stirred up to bless and magnifie his holy Name.

These are the several parts of Prayer which if persons please they may rank other­wayes, for 'tis not material what particular method be observed: but by this veiw we have given, it appears that Prayer is some­what [Page 376] more then a bare repetition of Words; that to pray well and effectually, there is more time and greater deliberation requisite then People ordinarly imagine, or what I fear the most bestow. If we would have our Prayers avail or take effect, we must ply them seriously, and al­lot some time for the right performance of them. And here none ought to pretend, that their business will not suffer this; for though upon some urgent Occasion or par­ticular emergency, Men may be allowed to shift or abridge their Prayers: Yet it is not lawful for any to let the Ordinary or Daily Business of their Callings, so take them up as not take time to retire and pray in that manner we have shewed; for this were to prefer Earth to Heaven, the Body to the Soul, the cares of this Life to those things above; whereas our Saviour bids us seek first the kingdom of GOD, and his righteousness. The Servant that is most strictly kept, hath time allowed to eat, drink and sleep, & the Man of the greatest business if he be Master of himself, will allow himself some leasure to talk with his Friends or Neighbours; and why also should not every one seek out some proper time for Praying to GOD. 'Tis true, People may lift up their Hearts to GOD while at work, and [Page 375] indeed they ought to be ever darting up Pious Ejaculations, wherefore we are commanded to Pray alwayes, and herein also Prayer is like to Breathing, that it ought to be continual and joined to all other Exercises. But these short Ejaculations or occasionall Prayers, will not serve in steed of such Set and Solemn Prayer as we have been speaking of, which GOD ne­cessarly calls for, which all Holy Men have taken care to perform, some seven times, some thrice a day, and which none ought to do seldomer then twice, viz. Morning and Evening: and those who fear that their Daylie business hinder them from plying Pray­er so seriously as they ought, should set a-Day of the Week, or once a Moneth, for redressing their Daylie Omissions in this Mat­ter. And indeed none ought to grudge at the time they imploy in Prayer, even upon a Worldly account; for though the hours we steall from our Callings to Pray and Meditate, may seem to obstruct our interest, and to hinder our Thriving; yet on the contrary, they shall bring a secret Blessing on the other hours which remain, and make them as much or more for our gain then twice as much time: All these things, saith Christ, shall be added unto you.

I cannot now adduce all the Motives to [Page 376] Prayer, for they might be sufficient for a Vo­same. I shall at present content my self to say, that as Prayer is▪ necessary, so it is the most pleasant and profitable exercise; it Sanctifies for our use what we receive here, and secures the better things of the Life to come; it sweettens adversity, and keeps us from sur­feiting on Prosperity; it is delightful in times of Peace, and disburdens our Hearts of Grief in times of Trouble; and in a word is the greatest priviledge we enjoy on Earth. But we must remember that we hold it on­ly by Iesus Christ, and therefore we must ever conclude our Prayers in His Name and present them through Him.

SECT. III. Of Publick Worship.

WHat Obligations are on us to worship GOD in private retirements, and how we should order these secret Addresses, we have laid out in the former Section. But we must not think that we have sufficiently served GOD, when these Private Devotions are performed; we must also worship Him openly, in the view of all the World, with those [Page 377] who hold the same Faith and Profession with our selves: and without we pay this publick Service, our Sincerity in the other does not, yea cannot appear, as we have alrea­dy insinuat Sect. 1st. of this Chapter, where we shewed our Obligations to frequent the Church or House of GOD.

But because the publick Worship of GOD is so much disregarded now a dayes, and every Person is so ready to quarrel with what is Established, and to take upon them to Mo­del it; therefore we have thought fit to treat here of somewhat particularly, and to shew First, the necessiity of this Worship. Secondly, the time to be appointed for the perfor­mance thereof. And Thirdly the Nature and Matter of it. As to the First, concerning the Necessity of publick Worship, it will not be needfull to insist much in proving it; for though there be many who slight the Pub­lick Worship of GOD in their Practice, yet we hardly think there will be any who will take upon them to Justify their practice, by alledging the non-necessity of Worshipping GOD publickly: And if any person should be so hardy as to doe it, he should herein not only set himself against all Christians of what ever Perswasion, but also should oppose the Sentiments and Practice of all Mankind. As the [Page 378] beleife of a Deity hath been every where re­ceived, so all People have ever look'd upon themselves as oblidged to Worship▪ GOD pub­lickly according to the knowledge they had of him. The Iews to whom GOD reveal­ed himself, were both enjoyned such a Worship and directed how to do it; and the Gospel only abrogate the Ceremonial part of the Law, it still retains and confirms such Customs and Practices as are useful and agreeable to the Nature thereof, and this is one of them: therefore the Apostles and Private Christians, continued to assemble themselves publickly as the Iews did, only taking care to adapt their Worship to the Chri­stian Law. Our LORD supposeth, that His Church will have publick Meettngs, and to en­courage them here he makes a special pro­mise; Mat. 18. 19. St. Paul finds fault with those who for fear of pesecution foresooke the Assembling themselves together. Heb. 10. 25. 'Tis not only necessary that we Believe with our Hearts, but we must also confess with our Mouth. Rom. 10. 12. Mat. 10. 32. 33. And as we are thus oblidg'd to a publick profession of GOD and Religion, so by the same Reason to a publick Worship: for this is the Badge and E­vidence of that▪ And as the Glory of GOD requires him to be woshipped Publickly, so the [Page 379] Edification of others, for hereby saith the A­postle, we provock one another to love and to Good Works; Heb. 10. 24. Finally, our Private In­terest, and the Concerns of the Common Wealth where we live, oblidge us to meet together, to call upon GOD, that by the Importunity and Strength of our united Prayers, we may procure all necessary Blessings. Upon these considerations we are oblidg'd to attend the publick Worship of GOD. And nothing can jus­tifie our withdrawing from it, except those we live among require our complyance with some thing sinful and which we know to be offensive to GOD.

Having thus seen the necessity of publick Worship, it clearly follows from hence that there must be some set time appointed for it. And seeing the Reasons which oblidge to this Worship are alwayes in force, therefore that it may seem continued too, there must be no considerable distance betwixt the times appointed for the performance thereof: there is a Cessation of the Worship, if the returns of these times be not Frequent; for Men are said to leave off that, which they do seldom­er then there is need or occasion of doing it. Upon this account even these who had no more then Natural Light, have thought them selves tyed to a dayly Service in their Temples▪ [Page 382] the Pagans and Mahumetans do still Assemble themselves several times a day▪ GOD en­joyned his People of Old a Sacrifice Morning and Evening, Exod. 29. 38. At which time al­so Publick Prayer was wont to be made, as ap­pears from Act. 3. 1. And though Sacrifice could only be offered in Ierusalem, yet the Iews who lived elsewhere observ'd those hours, came up to their Synagogues, and made Pray­ers to GOD jointly, which is the constant Practice of that People to this Day, as Bux­torf and some others tell us. Now as I hint­ed before, CHRIST and his Apostles did not abolish such Customes and Practices as were Moral and tended to the Glory of GOD, or Edification of Men, but recommended them to be continued among Christians: Sacrifices of Beasts, 'tis true, are not required nor is there any use of them; but Sacrifices of Prayer and thanksgiving, these Calves of our lips are no less exacted by the Gospel then the other by the Law. And I cannot see why the one should been continued under the Law and the other discon­tinued under the Gospel; the Apostles thought there was as much Reason for the one as the other, wherefore they and their Converts con­tinued to serve GOD daylie by such publick Pray­ers and Worship, as is evident from Act. 2. 42. 46. Which Custome was kept up in the [Page 381] Church afterwards, and certainly the want hereof is such a defect, as doth more then spoile the Beauty of a Church; it is a main cause of the decay of all true piety: and there­fore the ignorance and stubbornness of the Generality of this Nation is much to be lament­ed, which discourage our Governours from Establishing this Dayly Worship of GOD in Towns, Cities, and other populous Places, which I may confidently call a Necessary, as well as a Reasonable Service.

But as we ought thus to hallow every Day, by devoting some part thereof to the publick Service of GOD; so we are oblidg'd to Sanctify for this end one whole Day in seven, viz. the first day of the Week, commonly called the Lord's Day, partly because of its being peculiarly consecrate to the Service of GOD, and partly because of that special Honour whiich the LORD IESUS CHRIST conferr­ed on this Day, by his Triumphant resurrection from the Dead, which was the Reason for its consecration: we should set a part one day of the seven, not that this portion appears necessary by Natural Light, but because 'twas expresly exacted of the Iews, and that we are unjust if our expressions of Piety and Devotion to­wards GOD be lesse then what was sought of them; and what oblidgeth us to the ob­servation [Page 380] of the first day particularly, is the practice of the Holy Apostles, who either had an expresse command for what they did themseves and enjoyned others in the Wor­ship of GOD, or were led thereto by the holy Ghost. Now their practice in this particular is declared to us Act. 20. 7. 1. Cor. 16. 2. And is witnessed by a constant universal Tradition of the Church.

Besides the LORD'S Day, no other is strictly necessary to be kept, except in obe­dience to our Rulers Civil and Ecclesiastical; who without all question may (as well as the Iewish Church and State formerly) ap­point dayes for the publick Worship and service of GOD, upon the account either of some particular emergency wherein Church or State is concerned, or of some special Mercy granted them. But they ought to be care­ful neither to burden People with too many such appointments, nor yet to give them a disgust by ordering Solemn Dayes upon mean & silly accounts: if Men be not serious in these Solemn Addresses, they are a meer Mockery and Dishonour to GOD; and it is impossi­ble to make them Serious when the cause and occasion of them is frivolous and un­worthy to be made the matter of Divine Wor­ship. And so the Church of Rome has misera­bly [Page 385] transgressed, for first, she hath so multiplied her Fasts and Festivals, that the number of them almost exceeds the dayes of the Year; the year would need to be enlarg'd, if all their Holy Dayes should be distinctly and exactly keept. And though it be pretended that all are not required to observe each of them; yet there be too many imposed upon every person and every place, so that the French King was necessitate to deall with the Pope lately for the dispensing with a great many in his Kingdom. Again the Church of Rome is not only to blame for enjoyning such an intollerable burden of dayes, but also because the Reason of these injunctions, for the most part, are frivolous scarce worthy of a Man's serious attention, much lesse of being the matter and occasion of solemn Devotions, as for example the invention of some pitiful Relicts, the dedication of Bells, some ridicu­lous passage of their Legendary Saints, &c. and as most of their Holy-dayes are in honour of their Saints, so the most of their Saints according to their own relation did nothing memorable, their lives are more Foolish and impertinent then Old Wives Fables, or the Tales of Children, as we might shew by seve­ral instances did we not fear to be tedious.

But leaving this, we come next to speak [Page 386] to the Nature of this Worship, which should be payed unto GOD publickly, and to shew the Particulars whereof it should consist, which ought especially to be considered.

And First, as to the General nature of this Worship, it must first answer the end thereof, which is the Glory of GOD, the Celebration and Praise of his Greatness, Wisdom, Goodness and other Glorious perfections; that the Souls of the Worshippers may be enflamed with the love of GOD and that they may be excited to Fear, Trust, and Obey Him.

2ly. It must be agreeable to the Will and Mind of GOD, and altogether free of what he hath forbidden, or signified his displeasure with: otherwayes it will be so far from being acceptable, that it will be very abominable.

3ly. It must not only contain all the parts of Natural Religion, but besides carry Characters of the Gospel, for it is not only Reasonable, but Necessary that the Worship of GOD be Regu­late by special dispensations of his Grace, and made to expresse the particulars of such Dis­pensations. the Iews were required to Worship God in a different Manner from what is discern­able by Natural Light; and so those who be­lieve the Truth and Mysteries of the Christian Religion, must have a Peculiar Worship, that is distinct from such as own no Revelation, or only that of the old Testament.

[Page 387] Fourthly, from these considerations it fol­lows, that Christians must Worship GOD to­gether, in spirit and Truth: For so our Savi­our directed us, Iohn 4. 23. Where he saith, The hour cometh, and now is, when the true Worshippers shall worship the Father in Spirit and Truth: For the Father seeketh such to Worship him, GOD is a Spirit, and they that Worship, must Worship him in Spirit and Truth. Which words, whither we consider them abstractly & in a general notion, as deliver­ing a certain Natural Truth, or with a re­ference to the way of Worshipping GOD then usual in the World. I say, which way so ever we consider them, they teach us that GOD will now be Worshipped, not by a Multitude of carnal and external Observances, or a number of Mysterious and almost unintelli­gible rites and Ceremonies, as the Gentiles used to doe, and as he thought fit for a time to impose upon the Iews: But by actions of a Spiritual Nature, and whose signification and use is Reasonable and easily understood. The Law considered Men as in a weak In­fant State, and so prescribed a Worship su­table to such a State; but the Gospel endea­vours to bring us to the full Stature of perfect Men, and considers us as such, and there­fore our way of worshipping GOD now [Page 388] must speak out more perfect Reason and un­derstanding. The worship required of Christians is not a Pompous shew of Ceremonies, which may affect Children or Childish Per­sons; but Real and Substantial expressions of Faith, Love, Fear, Ioy, and Confidence in GOD: There must not be more, or other Ceremonies used in the Worship of GOD, then what is requisite for Order and Decency, or necessary to Excite and Fix the inward atten­tion of our minds; for that is not True or pro­per Worship which is wholly External, and doth not come from, and is not perform­ed by the inward Mind. Thus in a word as we should Worship GOD in Spirit and Truth, So to Worship in Spirit, is to Worship with the in­ward acts and Affections of the Soul, and to Worship in Truth is to perform such Outward Acts as doth not Mystically and Figuratively but plainly and properly, signify and hold forth these inward ones.

Having thus viewed the Nature of Publick Worship in General, we passe to the considera­tion of the parts thereof In particular.

And First the Publick Worship of God should consist of Prayers, this is so clear from Scrip­ture, Reason, & the practice of all the world, that it were a vain thing to prove it: the parts and Qualifications of Publick Prayer, are [Page 389] the same with those of private Prayer, where­of we have spoken already. And because it is so useful to know before hand what we should Pray, and so unworthy a thing to utter rash and indiscreet expressions before GOD, especially in publick, therefore the Church in Ages have ever thought themselves oblidged to compose deliberatly Forms of publick Prayer, and not to leave them to the extemporary effusions of him who officiates; there is not at this day any Church (except our own) without a publick Service and Liturgy: But because we are driven to the necessity at pre­sent, not to use one, therefore it is incum­bent on the publick Ministers to take the more care in composing their Prayers, that their ex­pressions be grave & Decent, & that as to the Matter of them they contain all things proper & necessary, & nothing disagreable to God, or which may disgust & stumble the Worshippers. they should study to make their Prayers to ex­press truly the general needs & desires of the People; for he who Prayeth is their mouth, imployed to speake in their name, what every one should do if they were allowed to speak: & so all publick Prayers should be so ordered, that every one may be able to joine heartily with them. And here I cannot passe two faults ordinarly committed in this part of [Page 390] publick Worship, the one for the most part in Country Parishes, the other generally both in City and Country: by this last I mean a careless unconcernedness in Prayer, many think not themselves oblidged to joyne with the Minister while he prayes, they do not con­sider that he is but their voice, & that 'tis ne­cessary for them to say with the heart what he does with the mouth, else the Prayers can­not be heard as theirs, or for them. Though one Pray but audibly to shun confusion, yet it is necessary for all to assent thereto. The o­ther Fault is committed often by the Common People (especially in the Northren parts of the Kingdom, as the former in the Southren parts) who fall to their particular Prayers when the Minister is praying in the name of the whole Congregation: this is an irregular and unde­cent thing which obstructs the Edification Designed by this part of Worship, see 1. Cor. 14. 26. When the congregation cometh to­gether, it should be with one Heart and Mind, they ought not to have different exercises but alwayes the same; they should pray one and the same Prayer with one accord, as we read the Disciples did Act. 4. 24. To prevent both these Evils, if 'twas usuall in all, both Iewish and Christian Liturgies to Appoint the People to utter sometimes some short senten­es, [Page 391] and alwayes to speak out audibly, Amen, at the conclusion of every Prayer, as is inti mate to us, 1. Cor. 14. 16.

Another Act of Divine Worship especially in Publick Assemblies, is singing of Psalms and Spiritual Songs. This was alwayes a part of the Worship of GOD under the Old Testament, 'twas observed by our Saviour with his Disci­ples, Matth. 26. 30. And St. Paul enjoyns it to all Christians, Eph. 5. 19. Col. 3. 16. Sing­ing Hymns and Psalms is of great use in the Service of GOD, both to prepare our Minds for it, and to make us take Pleasure in it. It fixeth our thoughts, elevats our Spirits, fills us with Joy in GOD, and leaveth on our Minds a deeper impression of Divine Truths, then almost any other part of Religious Worship: for which cause it hath been an universal practice in the Church through all Ages of the World.

And as Singing is our Duty, so the Psalms of David are excellently fitted for the purpose, they furnish us both with proper Matter and apposite Expressions: They were dictate by the Spirit of GOD to be im­ployed particularly in this Divine exercise; and we must not think the use of them to have ceased with the Law or Iewish state; no certainly they are still usefull to the Church [Page 392] and proper for the times of the Gospel. Without doubt S. Paul in the forecited places, and S. Iames Ch: 5. 13. Are to be understood of the Psalms of David, because the tittle of Psalms has been alwayes appro­priate to them. And from this Injunction of the Apostles conformable to their Practice, and which is most Reasonable and u [...]efull, the Church hath ever used these Psalms in her Publick Service.

I know there are some who not only scruple at some of the Psalms, but say expres­ly they ought not to be sung and when it is done they refuse to take a part. But truly I think there is no Reason for this. Indeed all of them are not proper for all occasions, some are more pertinent and sutable at one time then another, and therefore they who have the ordering of the Publick Service, should make a Prudent choice of Psalms suted to the occasion, however all of them may be sung, and because People have not their own choise, but must take them as they are pre­scrib'd; I will here propose some Considera­tions to shew how we may freely joyne with any Psalm and both sing it with un­derstanding and also with edification.

First there can be no Question of those Psalms, which Declare the Divine Attributes, [Page 393] Display the Works of GOD, hold forth the excellency of his word, or the General State of Man. To Sing and Meditate on these can­not be improper at any time, but alwayes usefull and seasonable.

2ly. As for those Psalms which were Writ upon particular Occasions, besides the Lite­ral sence which relates to those Persons, their actions and circumstances upon which ac­count they were penned; there is a Mystical sense belongs to them which referres them to Christ and his Church; and moreover, they are capable of being accommodated to seve­ral Conditions and Circumstances both of Private Persons and Publick Societies by allow­ing some Liberty to Figures, Allegories and o­ther Poetical Strains which are usual in Songs and Hymns: Now though we should be lit­tle concerned in the Literal sense, yet we are in the Mystical▪ and if they will suffer an ac­commodation to our selves or the Church and State we live in, then we not only may use them, but the use of them will be both pleasant and edifying.

3ly. These Psalms which contain narrati­ons of the Wonders which GOD wrought for the People of Israel, or the Special mercies conferred upon them, or David in particular, they are very proper to be sung; for besides that we [Page 394] ought to celebrate the Praises of GOD for his goodness to others as well as our selves, and that all the world are concerned in these favours heaped on the Iewish Nation, because they served to Usher in the Gospel and contri­buted to the Manifestation of the Son of GOD. I say, besides these two Considerations, those Acts of GOD towards his People in former times, are instances of his Power and Good­ness, and so proper matter for his Praise; they are also grounds of our hope, and Mo­tives to trust & confidence in Him both for our selves and the Publick; see Rom. 15. 4.

4ly. GOD'S plagues upon the Heathen and his punishments upon His own People, are in­stances of GOD'S Iustice and Holiness, and therefore the Psalms which narrate these may be sung to put us in mind, that he is not a GOD who hath pleasure in wickedness, and that no relation to him will excuse sin, or hold off judge­ments, if his Laws be broken. And so they are useful to stirr up our repentance le [...]t we likewise smart, and our thankfulness for whatforbearance and gentle dealing we have met with.

5ly. The Psalms where David layeth out his own Troubles, and the successe of his Enemies are be meditate on, as Proofs that the Just will be afflicted and the wicked pro­sperous, [Page 395] to teach us Patience and Content­ment. The high Assertions of his Integrity and Uprightness, and Love to the Law of GOD, &c. We should sing, thereby to testi­fy, that it is our Duty to endeavour this way to please GOD, and that without these Endeavours we ought not to lay hold on the Promises, nor presume to crave the Privi­ledges of His Children.

6. The Psalms of imprecations are most scrupled at, but it is because persons are not at the pains to take a right view of them: for whatever was the particular Occasion of them, or whom ever they were primarly designed against, we should consider them now as intimations of the Divine vengeance to­wards obstinate and incorrigible sinners, and as declarations of the irrevocable Sentence which his justice hath passed against them. Nay, I may say this is the special intent of them, for if they had been only to vent David's private wrath, and emnity, GOD would not inspired them, nor approved of them. And it is no less lawful & proper sometimes to sing them, then to meditate on the heavy judgements & seve­rity of God towards impenitent sinners; that thereby a wholesome fear of God may be ex­cited in us. By them also we may be supported against those tentations which arise from suc­cess [Page 396] of the Enemies of God, & their insolen­cy in opposing the Truth and oppressing his People: And as it was never thought un­lawful in times of Warr, and publick Trouble and Disorders to pray against the unjust authour and instruments thereof, not that GOD would damne their Souls, but that he would defeat their Devices, give them shame and confusion, and by his Judgements on their Persons, put them in fear to carry on their wicked enterprises; and all this not to satisfy our revengful Pas­sions, but that it may be known there is a GOD who ruleth the world, and who will de­fend the innocent and righteous to the end all people may be engaged to put their trust in him. So I doe not see why it should be thought improper on such occasions to sing these Psalms, and to waite patiently for the accomplish­ment of them. They are very unreasonable and unjust who would wrest this to the coun­tenancing of private revenge, and the cursing of Enemies, whither publick or Private, for its not lawful for us to doe, what GOD doth as he is Supreme judge, and by vertue of his soveraign authority, vengeance is mine saith the Lord, it belongs to him to punish, but not to us; and as it is not lawful for us to take Vengeance, because GOD doth it; so nei­ther [Page 397] is it unlawful to meditate on the just judgements of GOD, to sing of them, and to give our assent to them, because we are forbidden to curse or revenge our selves.

7ly. It is alledged against some Psalms, that we cannot turn them to Prayers, or if we should they would not be true as from us, and therefore it is not fit to sing them: But to this may be answered, that there is a difference between praying and singing; every Prayer may be made a Hymn or Song of Praise, but that may be fit to be Sung which cannot properly be Prayed. In Pray­er we turn our Minds wholly to GOD him­self, speake to him, and therefore it is ne­cessary that our Words be strictly true and sutable to our Particular State: But in Singing we speak not so directly to GOD, as of him to others. Singing is a mutual calling upon one another to Laud and Praise GOD, together with a proposal of what makes for his Glory; and therefore it is proper enough to sing any thing which makes for the Glory of GOD, though it do not quadrate with our own case in all Circumstances.

But as we have made it thus appear that all the Psalms of David may be sung properly and with Edification, so we do not say [Page 98] [...]hat none other may be sung, it is certainly lawful to have other Hymns besides, and most Reasonable to have some more appro­priate to the Gospel and the Mysteries reveal­ed therein, that our Worship in this as well as in other things may be distinguished from that of Iews. Pliny in his Letter to Tra­jan, tells that the Christians were wont to sing a hymn to CHRIST as to GOD, which must have been some other then the Psalms of Da­vid, wherein there was some more express mention of CHRIST, or which had some more peculiar reference to him, then what is to be found in these Psalms. It is impossible to give any Reason why the Hymns of the N. T. should no be used as well as those of the Old, seing the same Spirit dictate both, and that there is some special propriety in them to the Christian Faith. And as for the Doxology, the questioning its lawfulness, bewrayes such Ig­norance or humour, that I think it needless to prove the use of it: if People would lay aside their prejudices, they might easily dis­cern it very fit and proper to joyne this to each Psalm, for thereby we give the Psalm an Evangelical sense & make it referre to every Person in the Holy Trinity, who as they are un­divided in their essence, so they should be uni­ted in our Worship and as they are distinctly [Page 399] revealed to us, so we ought in all our Devotions to pay them distinct and particular Worship.

3dly. The reading of the Holy Scriptures is a necessary part of Gods publick Worship. This was used in the Iewish Assemblies as appears from Neh. 8. 8. Luke 4. 16. Acts 13. 15. 15. 21. St. Paul expresly chargeth The reading of his Epistles, Col. 4. 16. 1 Thess. 5: 27. And for the same Reason the rest of the Scripture ought to be read, and the Church has been still in use to do so. Now the main Reason hereof, is not our own instruction, but to do honour to GOD, for as hereby we own the Scriptures to be from GOD, so we solemnly acknowlege our selves bound to hear and obey his word, and tye our selves to walk as it diercts us. The publick Worship of GOD is not rightly performed, when there is no reading of Scriptures; and it is all one almost as if they were cast out of the Worship, when they are only read while the People are coming to Church, but not after they are mett: For then the reading is only used for a divertisement to put off the time, and not as a Honour or Acknowledgement due to GOD. They understand little of the Nature or end of publick Worship, who would have the reading of Scripture laid aside, be­cause it can be done at home, Such have [Page 400] more regard to their Fancy, then to the true honour of GOD; and do come to Church rather to feed an impertinent Curiosity, and desire of Novelty, then to perform a reasonable Service to GOD. Not to speak of the inability of a great many to perform this exercise in Private, the reading at home makes not so much for the Honour of the Sciptures, and consequently of GOD who is the Author of them. Respect to the Majesty and Authority of GOD require that his Will and Pleasure be Pro­mulgate with solemnity, and heard with reverence. We have an eminent Instance hereof, Neh. 8. 5, 6.

4thly, To the reading of the Scripture was alwayes wont to be joyned Preaching on the Sabbath and other Festival-dayes, as appears from the forecited places, which custome the Church hath continued, and it is most necessary and profitable, It shews our de­ference to GOD, and a regard for his Au­thority, when we are willing to hear such as he hath Commissioned to inform us of his Will anent us. He that heareth you, said Christ to the Apostles, heareth me, and he that dispiseth you, despiseth me, and him that sent me. Kings and Princes are Honoured or Affronted according as their Servants and [Page 401] message are received: now the Ministers are Ambassadours in CHRISTS stead, by whom GOD befeecheth People to be reconciled unto himself. 2 Cor▪ 5. 20. Reconciliation with God is the Errand on which Ministers are sent, and seing the terms of this Reconciliation, and the means by which it is wrought, are set down in Scripture, therefore the subject matter of preaching should be to give the sense and meaning of the Scripture, and to exhort to a Complyance with what is there contained. Sermons are not ordain­ed to teach men curious things, or to tickle them with fine neat speeches; but to make them understand the Scriptures, to instruct them in the Doctrine thereof, and to stirr them up to observe the same, thus Ezra preached, Neh. 8. 8. And ordinarly in the primitive Church, their Sermons were on­ly Explications of such Portions of Scripture as were read in the publick Service, together with an Exhortation to obey it. The prin­cipal design of Preaching is to unfold the meaning of God's Word, and to help men to discern the mind of the Lord revealed there­in; and as these are the best and most Edi­fying Sermons which discover this plainly and clearly, so it is the duty of all to hearken diligently to these instructions, and to re­ceive [Page 402] them gladly. It speaks out a Love to GOD when we are willing and very desirous to know his will: but there is little regard for God, where there is no desire to under­stand what he sayeth to us in and by his word. But though the Priests lips should keep know ledge, and that it is the peoples duty to seek the Law at his Mouth, yet this is not to render the private search and study of the Scriptures useless: Guides are ordained to be helps, but not to take away our own sight; we may find them useful though we do not put out our eyes. As the Noble Bereans did, we should search the Scriptures dayly whither these things we hear be true or not; And this is the more necessary, because we are fore­warned of false Prophets: Every Spirit is not to be believed, none ought to be receiv­ed with an implicit Faith, but only the Spirit of GOD: all other should be tryed before trusted. And it needs be no hard task to try the truth of Doctrines, if we lay aside pre­judice, and search the Scripture impartially: A man by applying his eye narrowly, espe­cially if he hath the advantage of a Rule, will soon discern whither a thing be straight or crooked; and it is indeed no less easie to judge in matters necessarie to Salvati­on.

[Page 403] 5thly, I cannot omit here what was Anci­ently & Universally used though now turn­ed into desuetude among us; and it is the Solemn and explicite profession of the Christian Faith, by a rehearsal of some Summary thereof, as the Apostles or Nicene, or Athanasian Creed. The expresse declaration of our Faith is much both for our profite and the honour of GOD: It is for the honour of GOD that we believe in GOD, and in JESUS CHRIST, and give our assent to all the truths of the Gospel; without this faith it is impossible to please GOD, unless our worship be founded on the belief of these things, it is altogether unacceptable: And it is not only necessary to have this Faith al­wayes in our hearts, but we must also some­times openly testify it, by confessing the same with our mouths, as the Apostle tells us, Rom: 10. 9. Where he saith, that if thou shalt confesse with thy mouth the LORD IESUS, and shalt believe in thine he art that GOD hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved; For with the heart man believeth unto righteous­ness, and with the mouth confession is made unto Salvation. This is also profitable for our selves, for these Creeds are the Badges of Christia­nity, which instruct us in our profession, and teach us how to answer every man who [Page 404] asketh a reason of the hope that is in us. A fre­quent repetition of the Creed fixeth the great Articles of our Religion in our mind, brings them often to our remembrance, and serves to excite us to walk worthy of the Gospel. Persons of Honour are careful to behave su­tably while they have the signs and badges of their Dignity and Quality upon them; and sure it could not but oblidge and quicken us to study a Christian Behaviour, if we frequently made a serious and solemn pro­fession of our Faith. Lastly, the celebration of the LORDS Supper should frequently accom­pany our other acts of publick worship; the Apostles with their Converts did this dayly, as we read Acts 2. 42. 46. which practice continued long in the Primitive Church. St. Augustine in one of his Epistles to Ianearius says 'twas the custome to do so in many places vid: Gessel: Hist: Eccl: p: 426. The Council of Antioch con­demnes such as do not com­municate when they come up to Church to hear, so doe those Canons which carry the name of Apostolical. Thus it appears that the participation of the Lord's Supper, was look'd upon as a necessary part of Divine ser­vice, which could not be well omitted; and there can be no reason given, why the use [Page 405] of this Sacrament (at least every LORDS Day) was left off, but the decay of Piety: The Zeal and Devotion of the Apostolick Ages wore out, and so men became careless of giving this expression thereof. Or out off a Superstitious regard to their chief Festivals, they would only communicate on these days, that they might seem to do them the greater honour. But as for the present cus­tome of communicating only once or twice a year, it is so unaccountable and speaks out so little true love to GOD, and the memory of our Saviour, that Calvin had good reason to call it Diabolicum inventum, a meer device of Satans to stiffle Piety, and to keep back Peoples endeavours after Godliness.

This is a piece of Worship peculiar to the Christian Religion, which our LORD hath expreslly enjoined; It's a great testimony of our Faith, a solemn act of Adoration payed both to the Father and Son, and a visible commemoration of the Mystery of the Cross, which as S. Paul speaketh, is both the Wisdom of GOD, and the Power of GOD: In a word, the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, is the Chief Rite of our Religion, which in a man­ner comprehends all others parts thereof, and by the serious participation of this Sacra­ment we truely glorify GOD, and bring [Page 406] good to our selves, for CHRIST hath or­dained it to be the instrument of our union with him, and the conveyance of the benefits of his death. And therefore this Sacrament should be of­ten administrate, and who would testifie their love to GOD, should as frequently partake thereof.

It is alledged against frequent communi­cating, first, that 'twould take away much of the esteem due to this Sacrament. But if this Reason were good, 'twould follow also that we should seldome think on GOD, Pray, read the Scriptures, and perform other Acts of Re­ligion. It is no true esteem, which ariseth only from the consideration of the rarity of the thing; and certainly acquaintance with Spiritual actions & frequent exercising them, begets the highest esteem of them and de­light in them: He Prays best and with most pleasure who Prays oftnest, and so of other things. Another pretence is that if men Communicate frequently, they would not have leasure to prepare themselves: But this runs upon a mistake of the nature of the Sacrament, and of the preparation re­quisit thereto. A Cessation from sin is al­wayes necessary, but not from our civil bu­siness, especially if we had any occasion of Communicating. He who firmly believes the [Page 407] Gospel, heartily repents of his sins, and is re­solved to live according to the Gospel, is true­ly disposed for the Sacrament any day, and e­very day; and who is not thus disposed for the Sacrament, neither is he fit to pray, or to go about any other Religious exercise, and so is in a state of enmity with GOD. If a Person once understand the Nature and Design of the Sacrament, and daylie exercise himself in Prayer, as we have shewed in the former Section, if his Life be a continual walking with GOD, he is ever sutablely pre­par'd for it. And if we ought to be alwayes thus prepar'd, therefore the want of prepa­ration will not excuse the Ommission of this Duty, the Omission whereof doth of it self imply (though People are loath to acknowledge it) a renunciation of the Christian Religion.

Thus we have gone through the several parts of publick Worship, shewed the necessi­ty of them, and let see the right manner of going about them. And by what account we have given, which certainly will hold true, it appears that the publick Worship in all Reformed Churches is Proper and Acceptable, so that none have any just Reason to with­draw from it, and who doe it are undoubt­edly guilty of Schisme: 'tis true, in some Places perhaps (and particularly among our [Page 408] selves) there would need some Rectification for the more Grave, Decent and Orderly per­formance of Divine service; but however nei­ther we nor any other of our Protestant Brethren want any essential part of Worship, nor have we or they any thing disagreeable to GOD, or which destroyes the end of Wor­ship, so that they are without all excuse who refuse to have Communion with this or any other Reform'd Church.

But as this must be acknowledg'd for all Reformed Churches, so the quite contrary is true of the Worship in the Church of Rome: For it neither answers the end, nor agrees to the right rules of GOD'S Worship; it is not, it can­not be acceptable to GOD, for it is full of Abominations.

For First, in generall the Popish Service is neither Spiritual nor Reasonable. Though we do not consider it in Retail but in Gross, it must be acknowledg'd an ignorant brutish service, a service which is not conform to the Scriptures, nor doth it tend to the Glory of GOD, or the Edification of Men, because it cannot be understood being performed in an unknown Tongue. As the Learned D. Taylor sayeth, we may as soon reconcile Adultery with the seventh Command, as the service in a Language which cannot be understood, with the 14. of [Page 409] first Ep. to the Corinthians; and if publick Worship need not be understood, neither needs it be pronounced at all; for if the Priest speaks not to let Men understand him, he needs not speak to inform God, and so a Dumb Priest is even as good as one whom the People doth not understand. This practice of the Church of Rome is both contrary to the practice of all the World, & is condemned by common Sense; so that the Papists in defend­ing themselves use a deal of impertinent non­sence and vent intolerable absurdities which render Religion ridiculous, and destroy the very Nature and Design of it. What an Ab­surdity is it, to teach People to use Prayers only as Charms? To think ignorant prating as acceptable to GOD, as the sincere desires of the Soul? and that judgement and discre­tion are useless in Religion, though it be the great end of our Creation, and though for it especially we were endued with Reasonable Faculties? I shall conclude this point. with what a late Popish Writer hath Moyens confessed, It is necessary to have the pub- surs par lick service in the common language of la conver­the Country; for it is certain that this is de Here­agreeable to the Holy Scripture. The tiques Mysteries of GOD are not as those of 147. Pagans; these behoved to be hid from [Page 410] People, because they were shameful and ridiculous, but GOD would have his Children instructed fully in his. There cannot be greater reproach thrown upon Religion, then to say as some do, that Faith without Knowledge is best. He must be an Impos­tour and Seducer who speaketh so, for St. Paul commands nothing more then that we should en­crease in knowledge; The reading of the Holy Scripture should be recommended to People accord­ing to the practice of all the Fathers, It was not the People who wrested the Scripture, and spread Heresies; they were the Bishops and Doctors and Persons of the Clergy. Arrius, Macedonius, Nesto­rius, Eutyches, Pelagius, were all Church-men.

2ly. The Worship of the Roman Church has not a Resemblance to the Christian Religion, because it wants the purity and simplicity there­of to make Worship look like Christian, as we formerly shewed, it should be Plain and Simple, that is, free of Ceremonies, except what are requisite to Excite and Fix the at­tention, & should chiefly consist of Actions, which are Grave and Serious, and which do properly expresse the Divine Majesty and Glory: But the Worship of the Papists is meerly Pomp & Pageantry, a vain external Shew of Ceremonies, fitter for the Theatre then the Church. Their Churches are dressed with Gaudy Scenes like Play-Houses, and like them [Page 411] too they use not the light of the Sun, but the dazling & deceiving light of Lamps and Wax-Candles; their Priests are sumptuously deck­ed with various kinds of Garments, and as for the Service it self, it consists in sprink­ling of holywater, kindling Perfumes, Kneeling, and bowing and often crossing, Turning to the Right or Left Hand, according to the Sign given, the Elevating and Lowing of the Voice at certain Times, the vain repeti­tion of unintelligible Words, and in a mul­titude of impertinent and insignificant Cere­monies which chock the very Spirit of Reli­gion, and which would render what is read or spoken to no purpose though it could be understood: For 'tis impossible that the mind can be attentive or make any Serious application, where there is such a multitude of external performances. The Worship enjoyn'd and practised in the Church of Rome has more resemblance to Paganisme then the Christian Religion; it contains indeed Acts and Instances of the true Worship of GOD, but so buried in Heathnish Superstition that they lose their Efficacy, both with GOD and Man. Their Sprinklings, Processions, Scourgings, Pilgri­mages, and in a word, the most of their Ce­remonies both in their Ordinary and Extra­dinary Devotions are derived from ancient [Page 412] Paganisme, and are indeed more suited to Pagan tempers then Christian minds; for such as understand the Gospel know that GOD taketh no pleasure in such Actions. The hour cometh saith Christ, and now is that the true Worshippers of GOD, shall Worship Him in Spirit and in Truth, for the Father seeketh such to Worship Him.

3ly Popish worship is not only full of Super­stition but Idolatry, it not only is made up of many foolishly and uselesse Actions, which can pretend to no Shadow of Reason or Di­vine Authority: But it contains also many things expresly forbidden, as the Invocation and Adoration of Angels, and Saints, &c. What St. Paul said of Rome Pagan, holds true of Rome Christian, they have changed the truth of GOD into a lie, and Worship the creature more then the Creator. For the most of their Wor­ship is not tendred to GOD and JESUS CHRIST, but to Angels, the blessed Virgin, and other departed Saints, to Images, Reliques, that is, the Bones, Ashes and other forged appurtenances of their supposed Saints, I say supposed, for their is no evidence for the most of them but the Popes Cannoniza­tion which is very unsufficient: 'Tis laid on the name of one Pope Gregory, that he should have said, multorum corpora venerantur [Page 413] in terris, quorum animae cruciantur in infernis, that is, many are Worshipped as Saints, who are damned in Hell. The Papists in their publick Worship are required to adore Bread as GOD, to Pray to the Dead, and for the Dead, and to do several other things which not only have no warrant in Scripture, but are quite con­trary thereto, and therefore GOD can be pleased neither with such a worship, nor those who offer it, more then he was with the Nations whom the King of Assyria planted in Samaria, of whom it is said, that they feared the LORD, and served other Gods besides.

4ly. The Mass which is the chiefest part of their Worship, is the highest abomination: For it is used in stead of the Holy Sacrament which our LORD instituted that night wherein he was betrayed, but in Truth, it is is quite another thing, because they have added to it and pared from it, and use it in another sense and to other purposes, then what that Sacrament was design'd for. First, they with­hold the Cup, which is the one half of the Sacrament, though it be clear that our Savi­our commanded All to drink of it, as both the Councill of Constance, and Trent, acknowledge in their Acts which prohibite the use of the Cup to the Laity. And as for the other part of the Sacrament, besides that their Wafers cannot [Page 414] be counted Bread, they do not use the rite of breaking it, which is so essential that this Sacrament is ordinarly denominat by it in Scripture. Indeed what the Priest takes to him­self, he breaks in three pieces, one whereof is cast into the Cup, another is left upon the Altar, until the end of the Ser­vice, and the third he puts in his own Mouth: but this doth not answer to that breaking which our LORD used, and which is necessary to hold Forth the purport of the Sacrament. That this Action may be agree­able to our LORD'S institution, it is necessa­ry that all the Communicants eat and have dis­tribute to them one broken Bread. 2ly. Our LORD ordain'd the Bread in this Sacrament to be only a symbol of his Body, but they give it out to be His very self, and command Di­vine Adoration to be payed thereto, which is the greatest absurdity and the grossest Idola­try imaginable, as we have formerly made out. 3ly. Our LORD designed this Sacra­ment to be only a memorial of his Death, and of that satisfaction was given thereby to the Iustice of GOD for the sins of men: but they teach and command under pain of dam­nation to be believed, that in theVid. concil. Trid. sess. 22. cap. 1. & 2. Masse there is a real propitiatory Sa­crifice for the living and the dead, be­cause according to them, Iesus [Page 415] Christ is dayly Sacrificed and Offered there­in: Which Doctrine contains a heap of Absurdities, and makes their Mass a Blas­phemous action and most injurious to the Sacrifice of the Cross. For hereby it would fol­low that Christ was Sacrificed before he was Crucified, viz. when he instituted this Sa­crament; that his Death was no sufficient Atto­nement there being such necessity for repeat­ing it so frequently; and that St. Paul erred grossely in thinking it absurd that he should offer himself often, in saying, he was but once offered to bear the sins of many; and in prefer­ring that one Oblation of IESUS CHRIST up­on the Cross to all the legal Sacrifices, because they behoved to be offered year by year continu­ally to shew their insufficiency; whereas he by one offering, hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified, see Heb. 9. 25. 28. 10. 1. &c. farther from the Papists Doctrine of the Sacri­fice of the Mass, it follows that our LORD'S Priest hood is not Eternal, or peculiar to him­self as the Scripture teacheth, particularly Heb. 7. Seing many succeed him in the Office. Nay it may be inferred by good consequence, that Men are preferrable to IESUS CHRIST Himself, for the Priest is alwayes preferrable to the Sacrifice; and there­fore if their Priests are impowred to offer up [Page 416] Iesus Christ they must be esteem'd better then he. None was worthy to offer that saerifice which taketh away sin, but such an high Priest as was holy, harmless, undefiled, separat? from sinners, and made higher then the Heavens, Heb: 7. 26. Wherefore as none could be the sacrifice but IESUS, so none other could be the Priest to offer that Sacrifice, both the Sacrifice and Priest are one, which makes the Opinions of the Papists concerning a sacrifice of the Mass impious and blasphemous. It would require a particular Treatise, to set forth the cor­ruptions of the Church of Rome in this part of their Worship, as the Priest partaking alone, the offering it for such are dead, the celebrating it in honour of Saints, &c. And therefore if there were no more but this alone, 'twere too much to make People leave the communion of that Church. But,

Lastly, besides these Impieties mentioned, whereof every one is actually guilty who joine in the Worship of the Church of Rome, there be a great many other errours, abuses, and corruptions taught and practised in that Church, which all they who keep her Com­munion must necessarly be reckoned guilty of: For as joyning in Worship is a sign of holding Communion, so thereby persons testify their belief of, and assent to all which [Page 417] that Church with whom they hold Com­munion teacheth and practiseth as necessary to Salvation. Now seeing the Church of Rome requireth all under pain of damnation to be­lieve the infallibility of their Church, the Supre­macy of the Pope, Purgatory, Auricular Confession, Pennances, Indulgences, the Insufficiency of Scrip­ture, the equal Authority of Unwritten Traditi­ons, the unlawfulnesse of Clergy Mens Marrying, the necessity of observing Dayes, Meats, &c. Without particular dispensations from the Pope, who arrogates to himself a power of rescinding both Humane and Divine Laws, these and many more Falseshoods and Absurdities are enjoy­ned by the Roman Church as Articles of Faith, and as necessary to Salvation, and therefore who keep communion with her, do ipso facto approve of all her Errours and Abominati­ons, and must be thought to exclude from Salvation those who refuse to submit thereto, for she doth so. It will not availe any to say, that in their Private judgement they are otherwise perswaded, neither have made any expresse Verbal Acknowledgement to the contrary, seeing they do that which ne­cessarly import the same. Men give their assent by their Actions as well as by their Words; and what we cannot approve in our Hearts, we ought not to approve by [Page 418] our Profession or Practice. Hypocrisy in Religion is damnable, and they are Hypo­crits who professe what they do not beleive: The belief of the Heart and confession with the mouth should not be disjoined, neither ought we by our Actions to countenance what we judge false and abominable. This I thought fit to say, because it is a trick used to gain persons to the Roman Communion, if otherwise they cannot be induced, to pass them a formal abjuration of the Protestant Doctrine, or an expresse consent to all the Tenets of that Church: But such would do well to remember and consider, that they do the one and the other, really and upon the matter as much as if they gave more ex­presse Declarations. I shall conclude with these words of Scripture which certainly are as applicable to the Church of Rome, as ever they were or will be to any. Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the LORD, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my Sons and Daughters, saith the LORD Al­mighty; 2 Cor: 6. 17, 18. And again, Come out of her my People, that ye be not par­takers of her Sins, and that ye receive not of her Plagues: For her sins have reached unto Heaven, and GOD hath remembred her Iniquities; Rev: 18. 4. 5.

CHAP. IV. Of the last Words of JACOB'S Vow, The Que­stion about the Churches Right to Tithes wav­ed, but the taking them away is shewed to be Sacriledge. Every Particular Person ow­eth to GOD a part of his Estate; The Propor­tion considered, and some Motives pressing Charity, and Alm's-Giving, are proposed.

THat GOD is to be Worshipped and Adored, that there should be Endea­vours to please Him, will be readily acknowledged by All: This is the very Dictate of Natural Conscience, and who have no Sense thereof, nor own any Obligation there­to, must needs be very Profligate and De­bauched. And though it cannot be denyed, but that there are such Monsters of Wicked­ness who have no Fear of GOD before their eyes, yet it must be confessed also, that the Ge­nerality of Mankind as they profess and believe in GOD, so they seem to wish and be desirous of His Favour and Good▪wil. It is not then gross Atheism and Infidelit [...] which damnes and undoes the greatest part of the World: but the Rock upon which Men split most is Hypocrisie, [Page 420] and the want of sincerity in serving GOD. They would please him, and are content to do something in order to it, but yet have not a Heart to ply all that is requisite: thus they will observe the smaller and lesser part of the Law, but in the mean time slip over what is more Weighty and of Greater Moment; they are very ready and willing to pay that Service which is cheap and easie, and which puts them neither to great pains, nor much cost, but what imports and includes either they are averse to and shrink from. Some will be very Religious whilst it is counted Re­ligion to hear the Word of GOD, to read it and talk of it, to pray and to frequent the out­ward Ordinances of the Gospel, but when they are told of denying themselves, of taking up the Cross, of Mortifying the body, Subduing lust, Bridling their passions, and particularly, of distributing their goods to the poor, then they discover the Naughtiness & Hollowness of their Heart, how much they mock GOD and deceive them­selves: for they look upon these as hard say­ings, and cannot digest them, but with the Young Man in the Gospel, they turn away sad and sorrowful. Such will seem sometimes to contend earnestly for Heaven, but yet they keep a fast hold of the Earth; they seem ve­ry zealous for the service of GOD so long as it [Page 421] costs them nothing, but when Chargeable & Expensive Duties are required, then they find out many Shifts & Excuses, they either pretend the non-necessity of them, or their own inability; and when none of these can be pretended, they still delay and put off till another time, and 'tis very long before they can be drawn to the Performance; & some never think it time to bequeath any of their Goods to Pious and Charitable uses till Death, that 'tis impossible for them to hold them any longer.

This Pievish and nigardly disposition to­wards the Service of GOD is very far contrary to what the holy Patriarch Iacob sheweth here, where we see that as he devoted him­self to GOD, so heartily and freely the Tenth of all that he possessed, By giving this portion to GOD, we are to understand the allotting and Setling a part the same for such Ends and Uses as tendeth to the Honour and Glory of GOD, such as to the mainte­nance of his House, and his service therein, and to the relief of the Poor and Indigent, for whatsoever is imployed this way, is given unto GOD: We cannot reach himself immediatly with our Presents & Gifts, nor stands he in any need of them, but the LORD is pleased to take that as done to himself, which [Page 422] is done for the publick good of Mankind, parti­cularly for the relief and comfort of such as are in Poverty and Distress: Verily I say un­to you, saith our Saviour, in as much as ye have done it to one of the least of these my Brethren, ye have done it unto me; Mat: 25. 40.

I doubt not but upon the first view of the title of this Book, it will be apprehended that we intend to assert the Churches Right to the Tithes, but as this is a Doctrine which few are disposed to hear, so the entering upon this Question would but oblidge us to enlarge this Treatise beyond what we design'd it, and seing a discourse of this head is fitter to be addressed to Publick States, than to private & particular persons, for whose use only we have intended this, therefore we resolve not to meddle with this Question. However by the by, we cannot but say, that whatever may be pretended by the Law of Nature, or the Written Law of GOD, it is certain that our Tithes were Sacred and Consecrate things, by the Donation and Charity of Men; and therefore ought never to have been ali [...]nated to any profane use. 'Tis true indeed they were most vilely abused by such as possessed them, but their abuse of them did not, nei­ther could annul and cut off GOD'S right unto them. The abuse might have been [Page 423] rectified without taking away the use of the things themselves, and certainly the Sacrile­gious robbing of GOD of what was so Solemnly and for so many Years Devoted unto him, is such a stain upon our Reformation, as that our Orthodox Faith and the soundness of our Judgements, in other Particulars Will ne­ver attone or sufficiently wipe away; these words of St. Paul, seem to touch us very nearly, thou that abhorests Idols, dost thou commit Sacriledge, Rom: 2: 22: The brasen Censers which Corah and his complices made use of; though their use of them was not only unwarrantable, but even contrary to the expresse command of GOD, yet the LORD would not suffer them to be cast away, or to be turned unto any other use than that of the Sanctuary, but commanded to make of them Broade plates for a covering of the Altar: For, saith he, they offered them before the Lord, there­fore they are hallowed; Numb. 16. 38. So notwithstanding the great abuse of those things which the Church possessed in the times of Poperie, yet being they were once dedica [...] unto the Lord, therefore they ought never to have been imployed to other than Sacred uses. I say, sacred uses, and not the Mi­nisters of the Gospel only, for I confess the ap­propriating all that Wealth to the present small [Page 424] number of the Clergy, and to their particular use allennarly, were neither Reasonable nor Convenient: But as this Kingdom would re­quire a greater number to serve in the Mini­stry, so it would be fit and proper to bestow a better Maintenance upon some then what they enjoy. People testifie their respect to GOD, when they Honour His Servants, in allowing them a Liberal Maintenance, and indeed as a liberal Share is first due to the Ministers of the Gospel, and such as officiat a­bout Holy Things; so this might have been given out of what the Church formerly pos­sessed, and enough besides for other pious uses. Out of what remained, Hospitals might have been maintained for Sick and Diseased Persons, and for a Refuge for such as were decayed through Age or other Infirmitie, and thereby rendred unable for any Calling or Office, there might have been an Al­lowance for Widows and Orphans, and the training up Children in Lawful Trades, and some Charitable Banks erected for lend­ing Supplies to such, as were broken in their Fortunes, whereby they might Recruite themselves, and be enabled to set up again. I am confident the former Church Revenues▪ and consecrated Lands would have been almost sufficient for these things, and this use there­of [Page 425] will I think be acknowledged more for the publick good then what they were imploy­ed unto: And as this would have made less complaining in our Streets, so it would, been more for the Honour of our Reformation, and would have stoped the mouthes of our Adversaries, whereas now they Cry out, that the Zeal for the Reformation was not Sincere, but that there was more regard to the spoiles of the Church, then to the taking away the corrup­tions thereof; for which the Pious Mr. Mede, and some others, are very confident, GOD will some time or other signifie his displeasure by some signal judgement, and indeed Sacriledge seldome or never passed unpunished. But enough of this.

What we intend at present is, First, to shew that every Particular Person owes to GOD a part of his Estate and Fortune, and that GOD doth require and expect it from him. 2ly we shal consider what Proportion or Quality every one should think themselves oblidged to give. And Thirdly, we shall propose some Motives for pressing home, and stirring up to the Practice of this necessary, but I sup­pose much neglected Duty.

As to the First, that every one owes a part of his estate and fortune, to be thus imployed in the exercise of Charity towards Men, is a thing [Page 426] which will easily appear by the Laws of Justice and Gratitude; for all that we have is from GOD, what ever we possess comes from His Bounty, and is the effects of his Good­ness, by whatsoever Means and Methods it hath come unto us. Was thy inheritance intail'd upon the By birth, thou art neverthe­less oblidged to GOD allennerly for it, for it was his Providence who Ordered thee to be born in Lawful Wedlock of such Rich and Wealthy Parents, it was he alone that car­ed thus for thee before thou hadst a beeing, and before thou could'st make any choice for thy self. Is all the Fruit of thy Labour and industry? Though it be so, yet it doth not lessen they Obligation to GOD, for he gave thee, the Wit and the Head by which thou hast contrived, and the hands by which thou hast wrought and laboured; and his Wisdom did appoint and find out all those Favourable Circumstances which have been the occasion of they Prosperity and success; and it is his Providence alone which hath pre­vented those many Casualities, which might have devested thee of all, so that if it had not been for Him, thou mightest long agoe been stript naked and reduced to a piece of Bread. How many have gone to Bed rich and wealthy and have awakned [Page 427] poor and Miserable? have we not seen per­sons turned out of their possessions, and rob'd of all their Wealth; and who have not been so dealt with must ascribe it to the Goodness and Care of GOD toward them. Certain­ly what ever Wealth or Riches, Honour or Advantages any man enjoyeth, is still to be considered as the Gift and Gratuity of Almightie GOD, as Iacob doth here: For he saith not, all that I have, or shall have, but all that thou shalt give me; Acknowledging thereby that whatsoever should accrew to him by whatsoever means would be never­theless GOD'S doings. But when I say by whatsoever means, it is still to be understood of lawfull means, for what cometh by un­lawfull wayes, as by fraud and violence &c. Is not from GOD, but from him who pro­mised to our Saviour All the Kingdoms of the World if he would fall down and Worship him: And though a man should give all this to the Poor, and in Charitable uses, it would not be accepted, it would be but an abomi­nation.

But to return, if all be owing to the Di­vine bountie, it is just and reasonable, and our bound Duty to allot and consecrate a part to his Glory. We are unworthy receivers of his Benefits if we do not thanfully acknow­ledge [Page 428] his Goodness in bestowing them; and without such an acknowledgement we cannot pretend to a right or sanctified use of them: For the Apostle tells us, every Crea­ture of GOD is good, if it be received with thanks­giving, and not otherwayes, which thank­full acknowledgment must be made not on­ly verbally, by Speeches and Expressions, but by real works & deeds, viz. by devoting a certain part of what we enjoy to such pi­ous uses as he hath appointed. As Tenements own their Land-Lords, by paying their yearly rent, and Subjects their Soveraigne by yeeld­ing tribute, so it is no le [...]s our Duty to Ho­nour GOD with our substance as Solomon enjoyn­eth Prov. 3. 9. It was thus to honour GOD by acknowledging him to be the LORD and Giver of all, that David with the Princes and Captains of Israel made these great offer­ings for building the Temple of the LORD, and the service of the Sanctuary which we find 1. Chron. 29. for verse 11. David saith thine O LORD is the greatness, and the Power, and the Glory, and the Victory, and the Majestie, for all that is in the Heaven and Earth is thine, thine is the Kingdom O LORD, and thou art exalted as Head above all: both Riches and Honour come of thee, and thou Reignest over all, and in thy hand is power and might, and in thy Hand it is to [Page 429] make great and to give strength unto all; now therefore our GOD we thank thee, and praise thy Glorious Name, and of thine own have we given thee.

Now as Reason teacheth it to be just, thus to honour and acknowledge GOD, by consecrating a part of our Substance to his Glory, and for his use, so there never was a time wherein GOD did not particularly require it. In the State of Innocency there was not occasion for almes or other such pious uses as now, but the tree of know­ledge in the midst of the Garden was reserv'd to GOD as holy in token that he was Lord of the Garden; and therefore was man cast out of Paradise and had the earth cursed for his sake because he had violated the sign of his Fealtie unto the LORD of Heaven and Earth. After the fall untill the Law of Mo­ses, we do not indeed find any expresse particular precept for making such offer­ing out of our substance to GOD, but yet all holy men did it; Iacob you see here vow­ed it, and Abraham gave the tenth of his Spoil to Melchisedeck the high Priest of GOD. And though reason and the meer light of nature, might teach them that something was due and proper to be given, yet we cannot con­jecture, how they could come to conde­scend so generally upon such a Particular [Page 430] Portion without learning it by Divine reve­lation. In the law of Moses the Tithes of all things are expresly Commanded to be payed as an acknowledgment of GOD'S being the Proprietar of the whole Earth, and that men hold their possessions only by his boun­ty and good will therefore Deut: 26. As there is a Command for paying Tithes, and bringing the First Fruits as an offering unto the house of the LORD, so there is set down the particular confession to be made at these Offerings in which is shewed the rea­son for requiring them viz: That even GOD'S Tittle to the whole land might be acknowledged, and that he might thereby be moved to bless the possession thereof to them, seing that they thus own him to be their LORD and GOD. Now as for the Gospel, this Precept is not renewed in it; and the Ceremonies of Bringing up to the house of GOD, the first Fruits of our encrease and what is due out of our Substance, doth not much concern us: But though the Ceremonial part of this Precept be not now obligatorie, yet the Moral thereof is; for CHRIST hath not taken away our Obligation to these moral observances, which the Honour of GOD calls for, think not, saith he, that I am come to destroy the Law or the Prophets, I am not come to [Page 431] destroy, but to fulfil; Matth. 5. 17. There is not indeed in the New Testament such fre­quent and particular mention of making these offerings by way of Tribute unto GOD, because there we are not considered as in a Servile State, by the Gospel GOD hath exalted us to the Nobler State of Friends and Children, and deals with us as such, which yet doth not take away our obligation from paying necessary Duties, whereof the thing we are now speak­ing about is one. And though as we have said the Devoting some portion of our Goods, be not now called so by way of Tribute as from Servants or Subjects, yet the thing it self is very often injoyned and inculcated, viz. of Almes giving, Beneficencie, and Works of Charity & Mercie, & though the phrase of give­ing Almes be generally used, yet it is so spoken of, as to let us understand that it is a debt due unto GOD which we are unjust if we do not pay: for it is usually Styled Ius­tice or Righteousness, as Mat. 25.

We must not think that GOD hath now under the Gospel quit his Right and Tittle to our Goods and Possessions, or that he doth not require any acknowledgment of them from us; we are much mistaken if we think so, He requires this now as much as ever; and therefore to this end it is, that [Page 432] his Providence continues to Poor and Distressed persons in the World, and other occasions of doing good. Ye have; saith our Saviour, the Poor alwayes with you; Mat: 26. 11. Which is the repetition of a Promise made Deut: 15. 11. Where it is said The Poor shall never cease out of the land, tberefore I command thee, saying, thou shalt open thy hand wide unto thy brother, to thy Poor, and thy Needy, in thy land. The Poor and Distressed are GOD'S Assignes, to them he hath assigned the Debts we owe Him; or we may look upon them as his Chamberlanes whom he hath appointed to take up his Rents; by them he doth as 'twere Draw Bills upon us for what is due to himself, and when they aske us in GOD'S Name, 'tis no Forgery, they have GOD'S Warrant and Commission for it: Wherefore as the Wise man teacheth, with hold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Prov: 3: 27. Thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy Poor Brother saith the LORD, but thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shall surely lend him sufficient for his need in that which he wanteth. Deut: 15. 7. The Poor and Needy are GOD'S Altars, whereon we must offer Sacrifice; and seing he hath bro­ken down these other Altars of stone which [Page 433] were under the Law, and hath freed us from the burden of these many expensive Sacrifices which were then required, we should not take in our hand, nor be sparing in the works of Charity and Mercy, but should look upon our selves as oblidg'd in all justice and Gratitude to abound in them the more Li­berally. GOD hath not abrogat Sacrifices and Oblations altogether, but only chang'd the use of them, and the way and manner of offering them; he will have them offered upon Living Altars, for the greater Comfort and delight of the Sons of Men: and as by the Law many Sacrifices and Offerings were exacted of the Worshippers, so the Gospel now requires Almes and charitable deeds no lesse; and as under the Law, he who contemned sacrifices, and refused oblations, was not counted Religious to­wards GOD, but without all fear of Him; so now under the Gospel, they must be reckoned void of all Piety and Devotion. who do not ex­press it by works of Charity and Mercy which are our Spiritual Sacrifices for St. Iames tells us, that pure Religion and undefiled before GOD, and the Father is to visite the Fatherless, and Widows in their affliction, and to keep our selves unspotted from the World. Iam. 1. 29.

Thus we have made out our obligation to devote some part of our Goods to GOD, that is to [Page 434] Works of Piety and Charity, because it is ex­presly commanded. 'Tis both a Sign and an Essential part of Religion, and 'tis a necessa­ry Act of Homage whereby we acknowledge GOD to be the Soveraign of the World, a [...] the true Owner of all our Possessions. He ther [...] [...]e who gives nothing this way, [...] a Divine command, casts off the Badge of [...] [...]gi­on, and is not only unjust to Men but to GOD; he rebelleth against the LORD of Heaven and Earth, in refusing to pay Tri­bute which is due, and whereby our Vass [...]l­lage is signified.

It follows next, that we shew what quantity or proportion of our state should be payed unto God. It is ordinarly thought that Alms is an Ar­bitrary thing, left altogether to Peoples own Discretion; and that being their Goods are their own, they may give as much or as little as they please, without deserving any blame: But truly it's not so left to Peoples own Dis­cretion; For he is as unjust both to GOD and Man, who gives nothing in Charity, so one may give and yet be nevertheless un­charitable, and consequently undutiful to GOD, because he gives not enough, not proportionally to his Estate, and that mea­sure of Wealth which GOD hath bestowed on him. Little will be accepted of, from him [Page 435] who hath little; but to whom much is given, of them much will be required, and to whom is committed much, of him the more will be asked, as it is Luke 12. 48. Our LORD indeed commended the poor Widow for casting i [...] two [...]tes into the Treasury of the Temple: But that will not justifie the unworthy custome, which is now become very general, of throw­ing a Penny or Farthing or thereabouts to our offering when we come up to the House of GOD; nor because of this, have any rea­son to think they deserve Commendation, if they in any thing exceed the Widows alms, un­less what they give, bear as great a proportion to their Fortune as her two mites did to hers. Now saith Christ, all these have of their aboun­dance cast in unto the Offering of GOD, but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had, Luke 21. 4. Wherefore every on ought to give proportionally as God hath blessed him, and when a Mans Alms or Charity beareth no proportion to his Means and Estate, he may des [...]dly be charged with Ingratitude to God, and a Defrauding him of his Dues, even as he is unjust who payeth not the just reddenda of his Charters, and the real Take-duty of the Lands he possesseth.

Now in finding out the true proportion of our Alms and Charity, as we must consider [Page 436] our own Ability and God's bounty towards us, so we must distinguish between ordinary and extraordinary Occasions: for neither can all Men give alike, nor is any oblidged to the same measure at all times. Men are bound to be more Liberal and Charitable in times of great Dearth, Famine and Scar­city, when many People are ready to pe­rish for want at such Occasions, there is no other set rule but the necessities of People, which every one who hath must be careful to administer unto. Then these Precepts, Go sell all that thou hast, and give unto the poor. Let him that hath two Coats give to him that hath none, and let him that hath bread do so likewise, these I say must be obeyed even to the very strictness of the Letter: For we are but stewards of the good things which we receive and must despense them out again when God calls for them; as certainly he doth on all such Occasions, when it is not possible otherwise to keep People from Starving, As Stewards we ought first to serve ourselves and then to distribute to the rest o [...] the Fa­mily; but he is an unjust Steward, who let­eth any want or perish for hunger, if he hath beside him wherewith to supply them. Hence 'twas that the Disciples and the first Converts to Christianity, did sell their whole [Page 437] possessions and gave them to the Treasury of the poor: they had all things then in com­mon, and it is St. Pauls advice to the Corin­thians, that every man lay by in store what God hath prospered him, viz. For the poor, 1 Cor. 16. 2. which rule and practice is not alwayes binding, nor are any now tyed to follow the same unless we were in the same circum­stances.

But leaving what is extraordinary, we will speak to that which men are oblidg'd to, even when there is no such great or uni­versal Calamity: As in times of Dearth and Famine all must be given, if it be ne­cessary; so even at other times, we must be carefull to devote somthing to God, and the use of his poor Servants. That proportion which Iacob vowed here, was the practice of all the Patriarchs and Servants of God before the Law: When the Law was given by Moses, God required the first fruits of all things, and one Tithe for the use of the Priests and Levites; he commanded also another Tithe every third year for the use of the poor Deut. 14. 28. The first Tithe was Debitum fundi, the tribute upon the Land, and may be called GOD'S ground▪rent, or Few duty which the very Land owed to him: The other Tithe was Debitum Personae, which every [Page 438] one owed out of his own property, thereby to make an acknowledgment of God's Fa­vour and kindness to him, in allowing him Possessions while others wanted.

But besides this Trienial Tithe, they were ordained every year to leave the corners of their field at Harvest, & were forbiden either to reap the rest of their field clean, or to gather all the fruit of their Vine yards, but to leave in them for the poor, Lev. 19. 9. And moreover every seventh year, the poor and Stranger had the whole profite of all the land. see, Exod. 23. 11. All which reckoned together, the Iews besides the Tithes to the Priests & other Publick Dues, will be found to have payed more then the tenth of their yearly incomes for the use of the poor only. Which pro­portion, though it be not exacted by any expresse positive Law repeated in the Gospel, yet all Good and Holy Persons have ever look'd upon themselves as oblidg'd to it in strict Justice, seing the Iews were tyed to it. Some offered to prove Tithes due to GOD from the Law of Nature, but I could never see any forcible argument why either the tenth of our Estate, or the seventh of our time should be allotted and condescended on if we abstract from Divine Revelation, and the expresse Command of GOD: certainly a [Page 439] one concerning the proportion of our time so the other which measures the quantity of our Goods and Estate, hath been fallen upon by the particular direction of GOD himself. And therefore seing the Worshippers of GOD under the Old Testament were oblidg'd to give the tenth of all they possessed, I cannot un­derstand how any can be satisfyed with giv­ing lesse under the New Testament. Our Righteousness must not come short of those under the Law, I say unto you, saith CHRIST, that except your righteousness exceed the righteous­ness of the Scribes and Pharis [...]es, ye shall in no case enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; Mat. 5. 10. [...]f therefore they gave the tenth, sure we can do no less. This is no part of the Ceremoni [...] Law abrogated by the Gospel, for as the De­voting something is clear by Natural Light, so this quotum we see was enjoyned before the Law; and there is so little reason for mincing it now, that there is much Reason rather to Augment it, for we live under a clearer light, have received greater manifestations of GOD'S Love and better promises, that is, Promises wherein a future happy Life is more plainly exprest. We pay 6 of the hundred for the use of Money, and sometimes more for the exchange of it, now the tenth is but four more, and shall we grudge to give this [...] [Page 440] GOD for the property, when we are oblidg­ed to give the other to men for the simple loan and use. Sure none will refuse this, or think it too much after they have seriously considered the matter, but such as are too much oblidg'd to the World, and are but too little sensible of their obligations to Love and Honour GOD. How small a matter is an 100 Merks to him whom GOD hath Blessed with a 1000 free of yearly Rent? He who hath much over and above the Payment of Publick and Particular Burdens, may very well let one go to the poor in Testi­mony of his Thankfulness to GOD who giveth all Liberally. But would to GOD! That Men in his Degenerate Age could be prevailed on to give the fifteenth or sixteenth part of their yearly gain and incomes, which is but the propor­tion of the Ordinary annual-rent of Money in this Countrey: & unless they be resolved to baulke this Duty of Charity altogether I can­not understand how they can satisfy their Consciences with lesse then this comes to; if they will not be convinc'd of their Obligati­on to pay the tenth, yet I hope at least they will acknowledge themselves bound to be as Thankful to GOD as to Man, and to return him as much for the Property as they give to, and exact of others for the Loan and use. If [Page 441] one were borrowing a 1000 Merks▪ he would give Fourty Pounds in the year for it; now he who hath a Thousand merks per annum free, I think should be ashamed to offer less then fourty pounds to God, or indeed to give so little.

I suppose my Reader before this time is convinc'd of the necessity of Obeying and Honouring GOD, and that the Communicat­ing a part of our goods for the use of the Poor, &c. Is one instance of our Obedience, and one necessary way of Honouring him: Now he who is thus convinc'd, may be easily perswaded of his Obligations not to reckon with God too narrowly or particu­larly; but that he ought to be as free and Li­beral in the Expressions of his Thankfulness as GOD is to him in the effects of his Boun­ty. Every one hath more then he deserves, and the rich have more then they can law­fully ask, for Daylie Bread is all we are al­lowed to Pray for, and considering what Sinners we are, t'is more then we are wor­thy of, and therefore when GOD hears our Lawful Desires, yea gives beyond them, I think common Equity should teach us to deall with him in like manner, and to give back more, at least as much as he seeks from us, that is, I think we should not hesitate at the Tenth, but give even over and above, [Page 442] if our Circumstances will allow it: If we think the quantity of our Charity be wholly left to our own Discretion, then should not the Rules of Discretion teach us to give rather more then what would be sought? Now the tenth was required before the Law and under the Law, and there can be no Reason pretended why it should be abated under the Gospel.

Let me therefore entreat all who would keep a Conscience void of offence in this par­ticular, to consider how GOD hath Blessed them, what is their yearly Rent, Gain, or Income to give GOD His due out of the same freely and Chearfully. And whatsoever they purpose in their Heart to give, I would advise them to set it a part by it self, to se­parate it from what is reserved to their own use, for hereby several Advantages would arise. First, They shall be sure to make no encroachment on what they Devote to GOD, which would be no lesse then the Heinous sin of Sacriledge. 2ly. They should hereby give more Readily and Chearfully, because they have so much by them, for no other use then to be given. 3ly. This would make them seek out occasions of bestowing Chari­ty, and not wait until Occasions present themselves which is an Ordinary fault, and [Page 443] the Reason why this Duty is so seldome per­formed; who devotes a certain part of their Goods and estate to GOD, should do as Men use when they have Mony of a Friend, even seek out Good hands to lay it in.

Perhaps 'twill be best to pay this Debt to GOD in Parcels as our gain and Advantages come in; for as hereby we shall best know whither we doe justly agreeable to our vow or purpose, so 'twill be more convenient, & a lesse Tentation to grudging, then if all were payed together. And besides what we think fit thus to Consecrate to GOD, for his Ordinary constant Kindness to us, 'twill be proper to en­large our hand on special Occasions, as up­on the receit of some particular Mercy, or in time of Sickness or other Affliction, that we may give a Testimony of joy and thank­fulness for the first, and secure some Special comfort to our selves in the last case.

Some it may be will imagine that all this doth only concern the Rich and Wealthy, but let none be so mistaken. These indeed are especially Oblidged to give Almes, or rather they are Oblidged to large and Libe­ral Measures: But others are not exeemed from Works of Charity, this is a Duty incum­bent on all. Who have Much, must give Much, who have much of this Worlds [Page 444] Gods and Little to do with them, are ob­lidged to bestow more this way then those of equal Fortune, but who have more to do with it, as having more Children, or be­ing Oblidg'd to keep a greater retinue: but even all who are not themselves objects of Charity are oblidged to contribute some­thing to the relief of the Poor and indigent thereby to testify their Homage to, and De­pendence upon God; and if Persons be wil­ing, they easily may render themselves able to do either more or less. They who live on their proper industry, and have nothing but as they earn it, may lay by a dayes or half dayes work in the Week, & Servants who work to others may give a part of their Wages, or one or two Meals a week; and if every one study to enable themselves, and give according to their Ability, though it be little 'twill be as acceptable as the gifts of the Rich. I never saw the meaner sort of People, even such as seem scarce to have their necessaries, but they would find out some shift for Money when they had a Friends or Neighbours Marriage to go to, and sure if they were as intent upon Chari­table Deeds, they might take the same course to enable them thereto. The want of abi­lity therefore proceeds too often from the [Page 445] want of will, 'tis because we think not our selves Oblidged to doe Good, or that 'tis enough if we do any though never so little: but we should consider that we ought to lay our selves out to this, we should be industri­ous in this matter, and ought to endeavor as much to be Rich in good Works, as to be Rich in Worldly goods; nay the main Reason why we should Labour to be rich towards the World, is that we may be Rich towards GOD, and that we may have to give to them that need.

Which leads me to the Third and Last thing proposed, viz: to give some Motives to Perswade and Excite to the Exercise of this Duty of Charity.

And First, we shall begin with what in­deed should be the Chief end of such good works, and alms-deeds, and the Principle from which they should flow, viz: The Love of GOD and desire of pleasing him. Though one would give never so much this way, even all his goods to feed the Poor, if 'twere not out of Love to GOD, 'twould profite nothing, he would neither find Acceptance nor Re­ward: But as what we do of this kind should be out of Love to GOD, so if we have any Sincere Love to him, any true Regard for him, any Hearty desire to infinuate our [Page 446] selves in his Favour, we cannot but be for­ward to, and much set upon the works of Charity and Mercy: Because he Delights in these things, is well pleased with them, and truly oblidged by them. To doe good and to com­municat forget not, saith St. Paul, for with such sacrifices GOD is well pleased, Heb: 13. 16. And writing to the Philippians of the supply they sent him, he tells them 'twas an odour of Sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to GOD. Phil: 4. 18. I shall not offer to shew how much we ought to Love GOD, or how much it is our interest to seek his Favour, for who will not▪acknowledge it? But cer­tainly if we have any love to him for the many Blessings Spiritual & Temporal bestowed on us, or be desirous to secure his Kindness for the time to come; we will exercise our selves in acts of Charity, seing they are so ac­ceptable to him. Every good and Charitable deed gratifies GOD, and endears us to him; hereby we both requite his past Favour, and also secure his future love. O how fond are People of Occasions of oblidging Kings, Princes, and other great Persons? How much will they stretch themselves even be­yond their Power, to get rare and accep­table presents to offer them▪ with what joy will they receive them into their houses, if [Page 447] they have the least hope thereby to make Court, and to obtain acts of Grace from them? But O how small a happiness is this? And how contemptible in Compa­rison [...]f that which ariseth from occasions of Gratifying GOD, for his court is not un­stable like Earthly Courts, his Favour is a certain thing, and attended with many more desirable Blessings. Now all the occa­sions of doing good, are as many occasions of Gratifying and oblidging GOD; he who is capable of giving Charity is capable of be­friending GOD, and of engaging his Love; to feed the hungry, to cloath the naked, to loose the prisoner, and to doe other acts of charity, is to entertain GOD himself: For in as much, saith CHRIST, as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren ye have done it to me. Mat: 25. 40. And seing GOD thus presents himself to us in the persons of the Poor, we may very well say with St. Iohn, Who so hath this Worlds goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of GOD in him? 1. Iohn. 3. 17.

Secondly. It is a generous and praise-wor­thy thing to be Charitable. To be set upon doing good is both lovely in it self, and in the eyes of all the World; this gains the [Page 448] Hearts, and wins the Affections of all. Wit, Learning, Dexterity, and Courage will be talk [...]d of indeed with some Admiration, but Bounty and Charity is truly lov'd and Esteem­ed; instances of these do tickle the Fancy chiefly, but this really affects the Hearts of all who know it. Every ones heart is open to embrace him whose hands are alwayes ready to the relief of the Poor and Miserable every Mouth blesseth him, and every tongue speaks of his Praise; People honour his Pre­sence, Pray for his Life, and count it a Blessing, and when he is gone hence his memory is dear to them: Such an one needs no Brass Statue, or Marble Tomb to perpetuate his Name, it never rots, but lasteth to many Generations, and like precious Ointment has still a sweet Savour, which refresheth the Spirits of those who smell it. The Righteous saith the Psalmist (that is the Charitable Man, as appears from the context) shall be in everlast­ing remembrance. Ps. 112. 6 And how can it be otherwise? for

Thirdly, Charity is a God-like thing, it makes a Man truly resemble GOD in the most Lovely of his Attributes (if I may be allowed to speak so▪) GOD'S Omnipotence and Omniscience are proper Objects of fear and Reverence, but 'tis the consideration of [Page 449] his Goodness which especially begets our Love to him; yea 'tis this which makes him most Glorious, therefore when he shewed his Glory to Moses, he did it by proclaim­ing his Name, the LORD GOD, Merciful, and Gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness, &c. Exod: 34. 6. Because Goodness is the chiefest of the Divine Attributes, therefore the rest are set on work for the manifestation thereof; his Wisdom contrives, and his Power Acts, that by both he may shew his Goodness, his Mercies are over all his Works. Now as 'twill be acknowledged the Highest Perfection to be like GOD so the best and truest Likeness to him is to study to be good and Merciful as he is Good and Merciful: Though we could come to some resemblance of his Wisdom and Power, 'twould neither endear us to Him, nor to others, so much as the imitation of his Goodness. Who therefore would be Like GOD, who are Acted with such an High and holy Ambition, let them busie themselves in doing good, and according to their Power let them abound in Works of Charity and Mercy: For hereby they shall be­come partakers of the Divine Nature, and shall purchase a right to the same Tittles which GOD takes to himself in Scripture, and indeed glories in, as the Father of Mer­cies [Page 450] and Comforts, the Helper of the helpless, the Reliever of the needy, & such as are distressed, &c. The half of the Money which some lay out for Worldly Tittles would procure these Di­vine Designations, which are by far preferrable, and upon many considerations more Ho­nourable.

Fourthly, this Duty of Charity is most pleasant and taking, 'tis not more for the Comfort of the distressed, then 'tis for the satisfaction of the Charitable Man himself: wherefore our Saviour said, It is more blessed to give then to receive; Acts 20. 35. Acts of Boun­ty and Charity truly rejoice the Heart, and fill the Soul with large measures of solid joy; there is far more Joy in Spiritual Exercises, then in any other; other pleasures are but skin deep, they are only some Titillations in the Body which soon evanish; but the Joy which results from Vertue and Religious exer­cises peirceth the Heart, and causeth the ve­ry Spirit to exult: and there is in Particu­lar a special Pleasure in doing Good. As the desires of doing Good are of all other the Noblest, which made a Heathen Poet to call them Sensus pars Optima Nostri, so certainly the fulfilling thereof is attended with the Chief­est Satisfaction, has a gust and relish proper to delight a Heaven born Soul. 'Tis but small [Page 451] delight which cometh from dainty Morsels, quaffing of Healths, for these are Bruitish ex­ercises and inferiour to the Dignity of our Natures: But to feed the hungry, to afford drink to the thirsty Soul, to cloath the naked, to comfort those who mourn, to save the life which is ready to perish, and other the like Charitable deeds, are Exercises worthy of GOD himself, he delights in them, and how can it but de­light and rejoyce us to be so Nobly and Di­vinely imployed? If Men have reared up magnificent Structures, great Buildings, and made fine Gardens about them, they are rea­dy to contemplate them with vanity, as Ne­buchadnedzar did his Babylon, saying, Is not this great Babylon which I built: O how mean a thing is it to be vain of these works which Wind and Weather can deface, Storms batter down, and time wear out! But cer­tainly there is Reason to rejoyce in being instrumental to rear up living fabricks, to repair the Temples of the Holy Ghost, and to pre­serve those who are capable to sound forth the praises of GOD to all Eternity. If People will but consult their Reason, and reflect on their own little Experience, they cannot but be perswaded of the unspeakable Pleasure in doing Good, in contributing seasonable comfort and relief to their fellow Brethren, in being able [Page 452] to step in and pull them out of some Sad Straite, or to hold off the weight of a Crosse whose pressure is likely to fill them with excessive grief: 'Tis only the considerati­on of this pleasure, which makes Worldly Greatness desireable or Supportable, for abstracting from this, 'tis an uselesse burden, and a great impertinence which a Wise Man would shun and seek to be rid of.

Fifthly, Acts of Charity and Bounty are most profitable; and that upon many Accounts, First, they are Profitable, because hereby the Creatures of GOD are Sanctified to our use, and our enjoyment of them becomes Lawful, Every creature of GOD is good, saith the Apostle, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving; 1 Tim: 4: 4. The Creatures are only good then, when thanksgiving is Joined to the use of them, which thanksgiving doth consist in a deep sense of GODS Propriety in the Creatures, and of his goodness in bestowing them upon us, & this sense must be expressed not only in Words but Deeds. The violating the Signs of GODS Dominion over the Creatures brought a curse upon them, for this cause the Earth was cursed to us; and this curse is not removed, but by returning to our Alle­giance, by making an acknowledgement of [Page 453] GOD'S Right and Dominion, in paying the Tribute which is due, and which he re­quires: The neglect of this keeps GOD from blessing our enjoyments, this is the reason why some as the Prophet Haggai speaks, sow much and bring little, eat but have not enough; drink but are not filled with drink; Cloath them­selves but are not warm; earn wages but 'tis put as 'twere into a bagge with holes Hag: 1: 6: And as the giving GOD his due, sanctifieth the Creatures by taking away the curse upon them, So it rendreth our enjoyment of them Lawful and Sweet. We may freely use the Creatures, may Eat our Meat with gladness▪ and Singleness of heart, when we have dis­charged the Debt lying thereon, and payed the tribute of Gratitude we owe to GOD: But without this, our enjoyments can have no Delicious Relish, nor afford true satis­faction: They are attended with remorse and sting of Conscience, as the feasting of Bankrupts, or the riotous living of Tennents, who have not payed their Masters rent. 'Tis not Lawfull to sit down to full Tables, to be alwayes Eating the fat, and drinking the Sweet, whiles there is no regard of those who are at the point of starving; 'tis not Law­full for any to ruffle it out in Silke, to hang their rooms with Arras & other costly hang­ings, [Page 454] whiles they see any perish for want of Cloathing, or any Poor without covering, and will not offer to help them, that their Loins may Blesse them as Iob speaks, 'Tis an heinous crime which will not pass unpuni­shed, to cast the Childrens Bread to Dogs; and are not they guilty of it who spend much on Dogs, Hawks, and other idle sports, but give nothing to the Supply of the Poor, the Fatherless, and Widow? But as the Enjoyments and pleasures of uncharitable Persons are unlaw­ful and accursed, so who exerciseth Charity may lawfully indulge his desires, and allow himself what Innocent Comforts and conveni­ences this World affords.

Secondly, Charity is profitable for securing and preserving the Good things a Man hath; Every days experience may teach us the uncertain­ty of Earthly things; one may have much and soon come to Poverty; Fire, Violence, Treachery, and a thousand other Accidents, to which all are exposed, may very easily devest a man of his Wealth and Possessions, and 'tis impossible to prevent this, by our Foresight, Care, and Industry: our chief, yea, only security is in the Divine Pro­vidence, which we may lean to, if we testi­fy our thankfulness by acts of Charity and Bounty to the Poor. By giving to the Poor, [Page 455] we clip the wings of Riches, so that they can not flee so fast from us: But if the Poor be not the better of our Wealth it wants the Divine protection, and so is altogether defence­less, it hath no sure hedge about it. By denying the Tribute of Charity we break our Tacks, forfeit our right by which we hold our Possessions: And as Masters use to turn out those Tennents who pay not their Rent, so GOD taketh away the good things of this World from them who do not use them to his Glory, not make any acknowledgment to him for them, or if he let them keep them, 'tis because he reserves them to a Heavier judgement.

Thirdly, Charity is profitable, because it tendeth to the encrease of our Wealth and Estate. As 'tis the best means to preserve our Fortune, so 'tis the likliest way to en­large it: The Blessing of the LORD it maketh Rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it; Prov: 10. 22. Which Blessing is particularly entail­ed on the Charitable Man, and therefore Mo­ses having commanded to pay the Triennial Tithes to the Poor, addeth for an en­couragment, That the LORD thy GOD may blesse thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest, Deut: 14: 29: Some are ready with Iudas to count all lost which comes not into heir own bagge, but what is given in Charity [Page 456] is so far from losse, that 'tis great Gain, it returns with Usury. He that hath pity on the Poor, lendeth to the LORD, and that which he hath given will he pay him again. Prov: 19. 17. And that more may be expected then what is laid out we learn from many Texts in Scripture, The liberal Soul shall be made fat, and he that wattereth shall also be wattered himself, Prov. 11▪ 25. Alms and Charitable Deeds may seem to impoverish us, but really they do it no otherwise then the Husband Mans throwing his Seed upon the Ground, which after some Moneths he receives with en­crease; There is that Scattereth▪ saith Solomon, and yet encreaseth; and there is that withholdeth more then is meet, but it tendeth to Poverty. And because Charity contributes as much to Wealth as the ordinary way and Arts of Thriving, therefore he adviseth to use it, In the morning, saith he, sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand for thou knowest not whither shall prosper, either this or that, or whither they both shall be a like good. Ecel: 11: 6. Men indeed ought not to use Charity with this Design to be Rich, but neither need they be Discouraged from the Exercise thereof, for fear of redacting themselves to Poverty: for this is the ready way not only to prevent Poverty, but to ensure Wealth. [Page 457] if the Word of GOD may be rested on. And who but Infidels will not rely on it? GOD'S hand is both t [...]e surest and most profitable Bank to put our Money in, other Persons and States may, and we see dayly do break and fail, but he will never fail nor turn unable to repay us with Advantage he hath promised perhaps to try Mens sincerity. GOD will keep up for some time [...] this gain of Charity, but they shall recei [...] [...] one time or another; Many instan [...]s might be produced of these Advantagious returns of Charity, but I choose rather to let every one recollect their reading and Experience in this point, then to detain them farther. What doest thou know (they are the words of a dear Friend) but those showres which did lately refresh thy corn, that prosperous gale which brought home thy commodity unto the desired haven, that advantagious bargain which thou hast made, that plea of of Law which thou hast gain'd may have been designed as a recompence of which thou hast bestowed? However I am sure that no Man shall have occasion to complain that he is a loser at GOD'S hands, and that he hath been decieved by that promise, that he who giveth to the Poor shall not lack.

Fourthly, Charity is profitable in that it either prevents the days of evil or procures us [Page 458] solide Comfort in them. Man is born to trouble as the sparks flee upward; we are but of few dayes, but we are lyable to many Troubles, and therefore every wise Man should provide a­gainst them: but the best Provision we can lay up against the evil day of affliction, is to be liberal and Charitable in Prosperity. When Daniel laid before Nebuchadnezar the disasters of his D [...]eam, he advised him to take this cours [...] [...] [...]vent them: O King, said he, let my couns [...] acceptable unto thee, and breake off thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy to the Poor, if it may be a lengthning if thy Tranquility, Dan. 4. 27. But if Charity doth not altogether prevent Calamity and Affliction, 'twill be sure to lighten them, and to give us Comfort in them, even solide Comfort, the Consolations of GOD. Riches pro [...] little in the dayes of evil, friends may th [...] [...]nd [...], or if they come near, all they can do is to weep and waile; true and certain comfort cometh only from above, which a Charitable Man is sure of. For Blessed is he that considereth the Poor. the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble. The LORD will preserve him & k [...]ep him alive and he shall be bles­sed upon the Earth, and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies? The Lord will strength­en him upon the bed of languishing, thou wilt [Page 459] make all his bed in his sickness. Psal. 41. 1. 2. 3. If saith the Prophet Isaiah, thou draw out thy Soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted Soul, then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy Darkness be as noon day, and the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy Soul in drought, and make fat thy bones, and thou shalt be like a wat­tered Garden, and like a spring of Watters whose watters fail not. Isa. 58. 10▪

Fifthly, the profite of Charity [...] [...]rther then Earth, it reacheth to Heaven, and gets us an interest there. 'Tis true Heaven is not merited by any deed of ours, we must not en­tertain any such thought: but certainly such good Deeds are followed with Heaven & happiness of the other Life. How much respect GOD will have to Acts of Charity and Mercy in bestowing Heaven, we may see from Mat. 25. and therefore St. Paul would [...] [...]he Rich to do Good, to be rich in good works, ready to distribut, willing to communicate, thereby laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on Eternal Life, 1 Tim: 6▪ 18. 19. Here is the greatest advantage of Charity, and here we may see that the most profitable way of expending our Wealth, is to lay it out upon Works of Charity: For the profit of all other Works is limited to this life; the good of [Page 460] them as to us expires with our Breath, and 'tis but seldom that it lasteth so long; when a man dies he carries nothing away of all that he hath done otherwayes, except perhaps a troubled Conscience for being imployed so much to so little purpose. But the profit of good and Charitable Works accompanieth a man to the Grave, nay followeth him to the oth [...] [...] and purchaseth Friends there, Friends [...] never die, and which receive and welcome him to their everlasting Habitations. And seeing it is so, what senselesness is it to neglect Charity? How much do they sit in their own light, who give not all dili­gence to abound in Good Works? nill we, will we, we must remove hence; here we cannot stay alwayes, sometime or other we will be forced to pack to another World, and should we not then before hand secure a Habitation, and Endeavour that it may be well with us there? if we were to be banished this King­dom, or saw any necessity of leaving it, we Would take care to Transport our goods whither we intended to take up our residence or we would make money of them and carry bills thither, that we may have wherewith to sus­tain and comfort our selves: Now what mad­ness is it, not to be as provident for our Souls, as for our Bodies? why do we not distri­bute [Page 461] our Goods to the use of the Poor and needy, that we may have Treasures in Hea­ven? And that when this Earthly tabernacle is dissolved we may be lodged in glorious and E­ternal mansions? 'Tis strange to see how fond Men are upon Possessions here below, they will give all they are Worth, nay con­tract for more (though it Make their Life burdensome) to get an Heritage upon Earth, notwithstanding they are perswaded that they cannot abide with it. Now a Purchase iu Heaven may be had easilier, it needs not all, nor half, nor the Fourth part of our goods to this, a Tenth part Devotely disposed will do the businesse: And is it not Wisdom then to lay out money rather upon this, which may be had so easily, which is best in it self, & which is of Eternal Advantage? A Charitable Person of all others is the Wisest and Happi­est, for he both enjoyeth the good things of this present life, and also has the better things of the Life to Come reserved for him.

6ly. The profite of Charity is not con­fined to the Persons of the Charitable Man, it descendeth to his children, it entails a Blessing upon his Posterity, and it goeth well with them for his sake. His seed shall be mighty upon Earth, the generation of the upright shall be blessed, Wealth and Riches shall be in [Page 462] his house: For such as be blessed of him shall in­herite the Earth, and they that be cursed of him shall be cut off. All Parents that are no [...] un­naturall wish their Children well, and de­sire they may have wherewith to live ho­nestly in the World after themselves are gone; now the best course for this is to be Charitable, for Charity secures to them the Favour of GOD, and the Providence of the Almighty which is the Chiefest Treasure; this makes GOD their Tutor and Curator, who is best ab [...]e to manage their interest; and without him others can do but little. How many have left great Summes behind them, and much riches, whose Childr [...]n have been Vagabounds running up and down Seeking Bread? The Blessing of the LORD is the best Inheritance, 'Tis the best Portion Pa­rents can leave their Children, and Chari­table Persons may bequeath it confidently. The bountiful Man needs not be troubled that he hath Little to leave among his Children, for GOD will Blesse that little, and make it sufficient; A little that a righteous man hath is better then the riches of many wicked; Psal: 37. 16. That is, it goeth farther, doth more good, and is more profitable for the Owners. And though he hath no means at all to bestow, yet he has no Reason to vex [Page 463] himself upon that account; For GOD will then surely [...]e their Provisor, GOD will re­pay to his Children what he lent to the Poor. I have been young saith the Psalmist, and now a [...] Old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, Nor his Seed begging Bread; Psalm: 37. 25. I shall not say no instance to the contrary can be shewed, but truely I believe very few; let Men look abroad the World, observe themselves, and ask at others, and they shall find it generally true that the Children of the Good and Merciful have mett with singular Providences. do not therefore excuse thy self from Charitable Deeds be­cause thou hast a numerous Family and many Children, this is but to mock GOD and deceive thy self: Thou should rather take Pity on the Poor, that mercy and compassion may be shewed to thine; that when Father and Mother forsake thy Children the LORD may take them up. What would People say or do if they were in the Widow of Zarep­tha's Circumstance, who had not a cake but an handful of Meal in a Barrel, and a little Oile in a cruse, and that too in the dayes of great Fa­mine? I suppose many would think they had Reason to deny even a Prophet himself, but did she loss by giving a Morsel to Elijah? Did she prejudge her self or her Son? If [Page 464] she had refused the Prophet, she and her Son would have eaten all at one meale and then died: But because she fed the Pro­phet, therefore the word of the LORD was that the barrel of Meal shall not wast, neither shall the cruse of Oyl fail, untill the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the Earth; 1. King: 17. 14. Learn by this Example to obey the LORD, who hath commanded▪ thee to give bread to the Hungry, and Drink to the Thris­ty; Grudge not because thy Substance is small, trust in GOD, believe and obey his Word, and he will cause thy small Quan­tity of Meal and Oyle to last, and to be suf­ficient for [...]hee and thy Children.

In the Last place it may engage us to be Charitable to consider the Wretched state and circumstances of Uncharitable and hard Hearted Persons. Their Betters despise them their Neighbours and Equals value them not, and the Poor envy and curse them; people talk of their Misfortunes and Disas­ters with Complacency, and murmure at any good which befall them: They have not the Love and Goodwill of the Generati­on they live in, and when they die their name die with them, or it is unsavourie and remem­bred with disgust. But this is the least part of their misery, they are no lesse odi­ous [Page 465] to God then to Man; he hates & abomi nates them, because they violate his Laws, despise his Authority, abuse his Mercies, and are unthankful for his Goodness; they counter­act the Methods of his Providence, keep People from discerning the Beauty and Wisdom thereof, yea occasion many to Blaspheme his Name, therefore his Soul abhorreth them: And as Blessings are upon the head of the Righte­ous and Mercifull, so curses are heap'd upon such wicked and hard hearted Persons. If GOD blast not their Fortune altogether, it is keept to their hurt; as they harden their Hearts a­gainst the Poor, so the LORD shutteth their own Bowels upon themselves, so that they can as little allow themselves as others the necessary Supplies of Nature, he hath, but useth it as little as they who have nothing, which certainly is a great plague and curse; Behold, saith Solomon, it is good and comely for one to Eat and to Drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labour that he taketh under the Sun, all the dayes of his Life whic [...] GOD giveth him, for it is his Portion. Every man also to whom GOD hath given Riches and Wealth, and hath given him power to eat thereof, and to take his Portion, and to rejoice in his Labour, this is the gift of GOD. But saith he, There is an evil which I have seen under the Sun, and it is common among Men, [Page 466] (and indeed among none so common as a­mong Uncharitable Men.) A man to whom GOD hath given Riches, Wealth, and Honour, so that he wanteth nothing for his Soul of all that he d [...]sireth, yet GOD giveth him not power to eat thereof, but a stranger eateth it, this is vanity and it is an evil disease. Eccl. 5. 18, 19. 6. 12. Farther it may be observed, that GOD often deprives such persons of the com­fort of Children, or if they have them, for the most part they have little comfort in them: The Children of such ordinarly are graceless and debauch'd, they are averse from all Honest Callings, and use to lavish away what their Parents sordidely hoorded up; But as often they want Children: and he who hath Means and wanteth Children, hath but little satisfaction in his means, and far less in his Relations and Acquaintances; for he is filled with Jealousies and Suspicions a­gainst them, that they look greedily after his [...]state, and wish him dead that they may grasp it', therefore he is ever altering and renewing his will; partly through jealousie, partly through his peevishness he puts off the m [...]king a wise disposition of his goods; he cannot think on it till his death, which surprising him, hence it is that what he so anxiously gathered, and keept, often falls [Page 467] into the hands of those he little thought on, or cared for, which foolish end is all the subject of discourse at his Funeral, and every Bodies sport and laughter then and afterwards, Finally▪ let us follow the Un­charitable Man▪ unto the other World, and we shall see his case yet sader; there he stands more despicably then ever the Poor here did at his own door, and cryes for help to as little purpose GOD hath no M [...]rcy upon him, Angels and Saints stand aloof, he hath no Testificats from the Poor, can pro­duce no Letters of Advice from these Factors of their here below to recommend him, and so those Heavenly inhabitants declar [...] they know him not, they will not receive hi [...] to their Everlasting Habitations, and thus he is forced to lodge with Devils and Damned Spi­rits where there is weeping and wailing and g [...]sh­ing of Teeth.

Thus we have proposed some M [...]tives to Charity, more might have been laid before you, but these are sufficient; he who is not excited by these would not be moved by o­ther Considerations, and he must be strangely hardened who is not convinc'd and perswaded by them. If what hath been said has any influence on the Reader, if he there­by find his Bowels moved and his heart in­clined [Page 468] to Charity, I shall only say this farther to him, that he delay not the expressing his Charity till his Death, as too many do; the time and manner of thy Death is very uncertain, do good therefore whiles thou hast Health; leave not this work to thy Heirs or Executors, for thou knowst not how faithfull they will be; exerce Acts of Charity in thine own Time, give Alms with thine own Hand, and thereby thy Sincerity shall the better appear, and thou also shall have the greater Satisfaction thereof.

The end of the Second Part:


I Have now gone through both Parts of Ja­cob's Vow, and illustrated them by the Light of the Gospel, thereby to demon­strate where our true Happiness lyeth, and by what Means we may compasse it, The Reason why Jacob's Vow was pitched on to afford Instructions in these Material Points, was because I judged it very propper, and that such Instructions as are drawn from Examples are the most convincing. Now that I may summ-up all which hath been said, As all will acknowledge that 'tis of the greatest im­portance to be rightly informed about Felicity, and the Means of accomplishing it, so every one may learn this necessary knowledge here. In the First Part, is laid out the Folly of being fond on the things of this World, of thinking Happiness depends on Wealth and Worldly greatness; For as the pursuit hereof is certain Slavery, Toile, and Vexation, and of very uncertain success, so when one is arrived to a more then ordinary Measure of these things, what is he the better? He is as far from being Happy as he was before, except that [...]e may be a little more sensible that Happiness [Page] lyes not there, and is able to witness [...] from his Ex­perience the truth of Haman's Verdict All these things availe me nothing, E [...]h: 5. Ne­ver any sought Happin [...]sse in Worldly things, but mett with a disapointment: For 'tis too weigh­ty and important to stand upon such a Sandy Foundation, Men are not Happy by the Splen­dour and Grandeur of their Outwa [...]d Condition and Circumstances, but when▪ they have In­ward peace and Satisfaction of Mind, Which they only have when they enjoy something agreeable to the Nature of their Souls, which answers their large (and I may almost sa [...] infinite) Desires which gives what is pres [...]ntly requisit, and ensures the continuance of all things neces­sary and Desireable. Therefore GOD only is and can be the Authour and Matter of Man's Felicity, for his Favour can only secure us of what our Present Life calls for, it is always at­tended therewith, and doth infillibly lead to E­ternal and unspeakable Felicity, the very Hope whereof gives more Pleasure th [...]n all Worldly En­joyments; yea, is able to make one▪ Rejoyce in the midst of all the Troubles and Disasters of this Life.

Thus then instead of runing hither and thither in the search of this or the other Particular, we ought to seek GOD, and altogether to intend and endeavour the possessing our selves of his [Page] Love and Favour, for the Favour of GOD is the foundation of true Felicity, and the enjoyment of Him, is the very Height and Compl [...]on thereof.

And as the scope of the First Part is to perswade Men of [...], so it is endeavoured in the Second to [...] before them the true and proper wayes of en­de [...]g thems [...]lves to GOD, by which they may purchase his Favour here, and qualify themselves for the E [...]rnal Enjoyment of him hereafter. In shewing this nothing necessary has been omitted, every thing indeed could not be particularly hand­led, but what is not expresly mentioned is clear­ly included in the things spoken of; so that who doth all here required, doth all that is necessary to Please GOD: Nor has any thing been pro­posed as necessary which is not really so, for on these Terms only GOD offereth Himself and his Benefits to Men. The acceptance of these Duties, when we perform them, is only in and through Christ, as hath been made appear: But they are in them­selves necessary, even as necessary to obtain the Fa­vour and Enjoyment of GOD, as this is to procure Happiness. They neither understand what GOD is, nor have they right notions of Eternal Life, who think to arrive there any other way, without Holiness, saith the Apostle, no Man shall see the LORD. And the Duties spoken of are necessary parts of True Holiness, as will appear [Page] to any who considers the account given of them. As by the foregoing Treatise, the Nature of true Religion may be understood, and the right Man­ner of Performing the Publick and Private Ex­ercises thereof, if people have a mind to set about them, and desire to be instructed▪ in them: So if they be desirous to be inform'd of the Truth, and will not obstruct their own Conviction, they may here see the absolute Necessity of doing these Duties here laid before them. Let me therefore earnestly entreat the Reader to give way to his Conviction, and to beware of letting either his former Inclinations and habits, or the Customes of others divert him from the Practice of what he is convinced is necessary to the obtaining True and Eternal Felicity. I shall not offer to perswade any to seek to be Happy, for this would be as vain and impertinent as to bid a hungry Man eat, or a Thirsty Man drink; but I would entreat all to consider that 'tis the height of madness to expect to be happy without using the means necessary there­to, even as 'twould be great folly in a Hungry or a Thirsty Man to desire the allaying of his Appetite without eating and Drinking. What is it which hinders you from closing with these Means of Hap­pinesse? What keeps you from observing the Du­ties here enjoined? Do you think them unnecessary, that cannot be now pretended. Do you think them too much? What? Can there be too much Pains, [Page] or Cost bestowed on Eternal and perfect Felicity None have Reason to grudge at these Conditions of Happiness, they are Just and Reasonable: This Service which GOD requires is no present Drudgery, and though 'twere, it could not be com­plained of, seing so Glorious a Reward followes it, His yoke is easy, his Burden is Light, and this service he exacts is most Reasonable and desireable, [...]ake a view of the several Exercises and Imployments of the Sons of Men, of the va­ri [...]s wayes of spending their Time, and there will be found none preferrable to this. Idleness is an uneasy thing, and of all Occupations Religion is the most Manly, the most Noble the most Desire­able. As it hath the greatest Reward, so it gives at present the greatest Pleasure and Satisfaction. The wayes of Wisdom, that is of Religion, are waves of the pleasantness, saith Solomon, and all her paths are peace: And they are so even when they are set about with Thornes and Bri­ers. Great peace sayes David, have they who love thy Law, and nothing shall offend them. And he tells of himself▪ That he re­joiced in the way of GOD'S Testimonies, as much as in all Riches. I shall conclude all therefore in the words of our Saviour, if ye know these things, happy are ye, if ye do them.



In the First PART.

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In the Second part.

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