THE Balm of the Cove …

THE Balm of the Covenant Applied to the BLEEDING WOUNDS OF Afflicted Saints.

First Composed for the Relief of a Pious and Worthy Family, Mourn­ing over the Deaths of their Hope­ful CHILDREN; and now made Publick for the Support of all Christians, Sorrowing on the same or any other Account.

To which is added, A Sermon Preached for the Funeral OF THAT Excellent and Religious Gentleman Iohn Vpton of Lupton Esq

By IOHN FLAVELL, Preacher of the Gospel at Dartmouth in Devon.

London: Printed for I. Harris, at the Harrow against the Church in the Poultrey. 1688.

To the Vertuous And much Honoured MADAM VRSVLA VPTON OF Lupton in Devon.

MADAM,

IF I find it an hard Task to write on such a doleful Sub­ject, it cannot be imagined but your part must be abundantly har­der, [Page] who feel over and over what is here writ­ten. Could I tell how to administer Counsels and Comforts to you, without exasperating your Sorrows, I would certainly take that way; but seeing the one (in this case) cannot be done without the other, 'tis our Duty to submit to the method Providence hath prescribed to us.

The design of the en­suing Discourse, is to e­vince the truth of what seems a very great Para­dox to most men, namely, that the Afflictions of the Saints can do them no hurt, [Page] and that the Wisdom of Men and Angels cannot lay one circumstance of their condition (how uneasie so­ever it seems to be) better, or more to their advantage than God hath laid it. I attempt not by a flourish of Rhetorick to perswade you against the Demon­strations you can fetch from Sense and Feeling to the contrary, but to over­throw the false Reasonings of Flesh and Sense, by the allowed Rules of Scripture and sure Principles of Re­ligion.

And methinks you, and every Christian, should [Page] gladly entertain that com­fortable conclusion, when you shall find the founda­tion of it as strong, as the influences thereof are sweet and comfortable.

Certainly, Madam, the intent of the Redeemer's undertaking was not to purchase for his People Riches, Ease, and Pleasures on Earth; but to mortifie their Lusts, heal their Na­tures, and spiritualize their Affections, and thereby to fit them for the eternal fruition of God. Upon this supposition the truth of this conclusion (how strange soever it seems) is firmly built.

[Page]It was not without di­vine direction, that the subject of the ensuing Dis­course was as pertinently, as seasonably, recommen­ded to me by your dear Husband, in the day of your sorrows for your only Son. He took, I hope, his Porti­on of Comfort out of it before he died, and it is now left as a Spring of Comfort to you, who then mourned with him, and now for him.

Heavy Pressures call for strong Support, and faint­ing Seasons for rich Cordi­als. Your Burden is in­deed heavy, yet I must say [Page] 'tis much our own fault they are so heavy as we feel them to be: for accor­ding to the measure of our delight in, and expectation from the Creature, is our sorrow & disappointment when we part from it. The highest Tydes are always followed with the lowest Ebbs. We find Tempe­rance and Patience knit to­gether in the same Precept, and Intemperance and Im­patience as inseparably connected in our own Ex­perience. It may be we did not suspect our selves of a­ny sinful excess in the time of their enjoyment, but it [Page] now appears the Creature was gotten deeper into our hearts than we ima­gined by the pain we feel at parting: Did we not lean too hard upon it, there would not be such shakings as we feel when it is slipt from us.

But, Madam, 'tis high time to recal your thoughts and bound your sorrows, which the following Con­siderations would greatly assist you in.

  • 1. What is the very ground and reason of our excessive sorrows for the [...]oss of earthly Comforts? [...]s it not this, that they are [Page] perishing and transitory? that is, that you find them to be as God made them. And can you expect that God should alter the Laws of Nature to please and humour us? It is as natu­ral to our Relations to die, as it is to Flowers to wi­ther, or the Moon to wane.
  • 2. That there is no such necessary connection betwixt these things, and our comfort, that whene­ver God removes the one, he must needs remove the other with it. Christ and Comfort are indeed so u­nited, but nothing beside him is or can be so. I [Page] hope you will shortly ex­perience the truth of this Conclusion, by the Com­forts God will give you in the absence of those Com­forts you have lost. Can you not now have as free access to God as before? Yea, do not these very Afflictions send you often­er into his presence? And if God meet you in those duties (as in days of di­stress he uses to meet his People) then it will be e­vident to you that your Joy and Comfort lives, though your Husband and Children be laid in their Graves.
  • [Page]3. That the removin [...] of your earthly Comforts hinders not but that yo [...] may still pursue the grea [...] end and business of you [...] life, and carry on all you [...] designs for Heaven as suc­cessfully as ever. Indeed, Madam, had we been sent into this World to raise Estates, contract Relati­ons, and then sit down in the midst of them, as our Portion, then our design had been utterly dasht and disappointed; but you know this is not your main end, or great business upon Earth, but to ho­nour God by an holy fruit­ful [Page] life here, and make [...]eady for the full enjoy­ment of him hereafter. And what hinders, but you [...]ay as prosperously ma­ [...]age and carry on this [...]our design as ever? You [...]o not think the Travel­ [...]er is disabled for his Jour­ [...]ey, because he hath few­ [...]r clogs and hindrances [...]an before. I think few Christians find much fur­ [...]erance Heavenward by [...]eir multiplicity of En­ [...]agements or Enjoyments [...] this World. Your [...]res and fears about these [...]ings, will now lie in a [...]arrower compass than [Page] they did before, and there by you may have yo [...] thoughts more about yo [...] to attend the great co [...]cerns of Gods glory an [...] your own salvation.
  • 4. But above all, yo [...] will certainly find yo [...] relief and consolation [...] lie in the everlasting C [...]venant of God. Then [...] it was that David fetc [...] his support under a mu [...] heavier Burden adn sma [...]ter Rod than yours: f [...] your Relations were su [...] as gave you comfort their lives, and left y [...] many grounds of hope their deaths; but his we [...] [Page] taken away in their sins. But though the grounds of his sorrow (blessed be God) are not yours, yet I hope the grounds of his comfort in the Text are fully yours.

I confess I have prepa­red these things in too much hast, and distraction of thoughts, which in this juncture was unavoidable; nor have I bestowed much of Art or Language upon them: and if I had, they would have been never the more effectual to your relief for that. But such as they are, I humbly pre­sent them to you, with [Page] my hearty Prayers, That God would make them a Soveraign Balm, by the blessing of his Spirit on them to your wounded Spirit, and to all other godly Families groaning under the like Stroaks of God with you, and re­main,

MADAM,
Tour most faithful Sympathizing Friend and Servant, Jo. Flavell.

THE Balm of the Covenant Applied to the BLEEDING WOUNDS OF Afflicted Saints.
TEXT.

2 Sam. 23. v. 5.

Although my house be not so with God, yet hath he made with me an ever­lasting Covenant; ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.

THese are part of David's last words. The last words of dying Saints, but espe­cially of dying Prophets, are pon­derous, [Page 2] memorable, and extraor­dinarily remarkable; and such are these acknowledged to be, by all Expositors: 'tis a golden Sentence, a divine Oracle, fit to be the last words of every dying Saint, as well as of David.

They are called his last words, not simply, and absolutely, as though he breathed them forth with his last breath; (for he spake many things afterwards) but ei­ther they are the last he spake as a Prophet, by divine inspiration, or because he had them often in his mouth, to his last and dying day. They were his Epicedium, his sweet Swan like Song, in which his Soul found singular Refresh­ment, and strong Support, amidst the manifold A [...]ictions of his Life, and against the Fears of his approaching Death.

The whole Chapter is design­ed for a Coronis or honourable Close of the Life of David, and gives us an account both of the worthy Expressions that dropt from him, and of the renowned [Page 3] Worthies that were employed by him: but all the heroick At­chievements recorded to the ho­nour of their Memories, in the following part of the Chapter, are trivial and inglorious things, com­pared with this one divine Sen­tence recorded in my Text; in which we have two things to con­sider, viz.

  • 1. The Preface, which is ex­ceeding solemn.
  • 2. The Speech it self, which is exceeding weighty.

1. In the Preface, we have both the instrumental and princi­pal efficient Cause of this divine Sentence, distinctly set down, ver. 1. and the Efficient, or Au­thor of it, v. 2.

The Instrument or Organ of its conveyance to us, was David; described by his Descent or Line­age, the Son of Iesse; by his emi­nent Station, the man that was rai­sed up on high, even to the top and culminating point of Civil and [Page 4] Spiritual Dignity and Honour, both as a King, and as a Prophet; by his Divine Unction, The anoin­ted of the God of Iacob; and last­ly, by the flowing sweetness of his Spirit, and stile in the divine Psalms that were penned by him, whence he here gets the Title of The sweet Psalmist of Israel, the plea­sant one in the Psalms of Israel, as some read it.

The principal efficient Cause of this excellent passage, is here like­wise noted, and all to commend it the more to our special obser­vation and acceptance:w. 2. The spi­rit of God spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. This stamps my Text expresly with divine Au­thority. The Spirit of God spake by David; he was not the Author, but only the Scribe of it. Thus the ensuing Discourse is prefaced. Let us next see,

2. The Matter or Speech it self, wherein we shall find the Maxims, and general Rules of Government prescribed, and the Felicity of such a Government e­legantly [Page 5] described.v. 3. He that ru­leth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God. Princes being in Gods place, must exalt the Righ­teousness of God, in the govern­ment of men; and when they do so, they shall be as the Light of the Morning when the Sun riseth, even a morning without Clouds, &c. What Halycon days shall that happy People see, whose Lot is cast into such times and places! All this is typically spoken of Da­vid, and those pious Princes who succeeded him; but mystically and eminently points at Christ, who was to rise out of David's Seed, Rom. 1.3. and to sit upon his Throne, Acts 2.30. So that in this he was raised on high, to an Eminency of Glory and Dignity indeed; He was so in his ordi­nary natural Seed; a Royal Race, deriving it self from him, and sitting upon his Throne in a Line­al Succession, till the Babylonish Captivity, which was about four hundred and thirty years. And after that, the Iews had Gover­nours [Page 6] of his Line, at least right­ful Heirs to that Crown, till the promised Messiah came. But that which was the top of David's Ho­nour, the most sparkling Jewel in his Crown, was this, that the Lord Iesus was to descend from him, according to the Flesh, in whom all the glorious Characters, before given, should not only be exactly answered, but abudantly exceed­ed. And thus you find the natu­ral Line of the Messiah is drawn down by Matthew, from David to the Virgin Mary, Matth. 1. and his Legal Line by Luke, from Da­vid to Ioseph, his supposed Father, Luke 3.23.

Now though the illustrious Marks and Characters of such a righteous, serene, and happy Go­vernment, did not fully agree to his day, nor would do so in the Reigns of his ordinary natural Successors, his day was not with­out many Clouds both of Sin and Trouble; yet such a blessed day he foresaw and rejoyced in, when Christ, the extraordinary Seed of [Page 7] David, should arise and set up his Kingdom in the World, and with the expectation hereof, he greatly chears and encourages himself: Although my house be not so with God, yet hath be made with me an ever­lasting Covenant, &c. In which words four things are eminendy remarkable.

  • 1. Here is a sad Concession of Domestick Evils.
  • 2. A singular Relief from Gods Covenant with him.
  • 3. The glorious Properties of this Covenant display'd.
  • 4. The high esteem and dear regard his house had unto it.

1. Here is David's sad and mournful Concession of the Evils of his House, both Moral, and Pe­nal. Although my house be not so with God, (i. e.) neither so holy, nor so happy, as this description of a righteous and flourishing Go­vernment imports; alas, it an­swers not to it: for though he was [Page 8] eminent for Godliness himself, and had solemnly dedicated his House to God,Psal. 30. as soon as it was built, yea, though he piously re­solved to walk in the midst of it with a perfect heart, and not to suffer an immoral person within his Walls; yet great miscarriages were found even in David's House,Psal. 101.2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. and Person, which God chastized him for, by a thick succession of sharp and sore Afflictions. Ta­mar was defiled by her Brother Amnon, 2 Sam. 13.23. Amnon was barbarously murthered there­upon, by the advice of Absalom, 2 Sam. 13.28. Absalom unnatu­rally rebels against his Father David, and drives him out of the Royal City, and perishes in that Rebellion, 2 Sam. 15.1. Then Adonijah, another Darling-Son, grasps at the Crown setled by Da­vid upon Salomon, and perishes for that his Usurpation, 1 King. 2.25. O what an heap of Mischiefs and Calamities did this good man live to see within his own Walls! be­sides the many forreign Troubles [Page 9] that came from other hands. How many flourishing Branches did God [...]op off from him, and that in their sins too? so that his day was a day of Clouds, even from the morning unto the even­ing of it; Psal. 132.1. Lord, re­member David, and all his afflicti­ons. Well might he say, His house was not so with God. But what then, doth he faint and despond under these manifold Calamities? Doth he refuse to be comforted, because his Children are gone, and all things involved in trouble? No, but you find,

2. He relieves himself by the Covenant God had made with him: Yet hath he made with me a Covenant. Plus est quam haec domus mea ante deum. Jon. He looks to Christ, there is more in the Covenant than this my House before God, as the Chaldee turns it. This lit­tle word yet, wraps up a great and soveraign Cordial in it. Though Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah be gone, and gone with many smar­ting aggravations too; yet hath he made with me a Covenant, yet I [Page 10] have this Sheet-Anchor left to se­cure me. Gods Covenant with me, in relation to Christ, this under-props and shores up my heart.

This Covenant was, without controversie, a Gospel-Covenant. It was David's Gospel: for all his salvation and all his desire were in it; which could never be, except Christ had been in it, who is the salvation of all the ends of the Earth, and the desire of all Nations.

'Tis true, it was a more obscure and imperfect Edition of the Co­venant of Faith, yet clearer than those that were made before it; it came not up to the fulness and clearness of the discoveries made by Ieremy and Ezekiel: but yet in this Covenant with David, God revealed more of Christ, than had been ever revealed be­fore; for the Light of Christ, like that of the Morning, increa­sed still more and more, till it came to a perfect day. It is worthy our observation, how [Page 11] God made a gradual discovery of Christ, from Adam, down along to New Testament-times. It was reveal'd to Adam, that he should be the Seed of the Woman, but not of what Nation, till Abraham's time; nor of what Tribe, till Ia­cob; nor of what Sex and Family, till David; nor that he should be born of a Virgin, till Isaiah; nor in what Town, till Micah. The first Revelation of this Covenant with David, 2 Sam. 7.12, 13, 14. was by Nathan the Prophet; afterwards enlarged and confirmed, Psal. 89. By it he knew much of Christ, and wrote much of him. He spake of his Person, Psal. 45.6.11. Psal. 8.4, 5, 6. of his Offices, both Prophe­tical, Psal. 40.8, 9, 10. Priestly, Psal. 110.4. and Kingly, Psal. 2.6. of his Incarnation, Psal. 8.5. of his Death on the Cross, Psal. 22.16, 17. of his Burial, Psal. 16.8, 9, 10. Resurrection, Psal. 2.7. and triumphant Ascension, Psal. 68.18. there was sum of the Gospel discovered, though in dark and typical terms and forms of [Page 12] Expression; but if out of this Co­venant, as obscure as its Revelati­on was, David fetcht such strong Support and Consolation, amidst such an heap of Troubles, then the Argument is good, à fortiori: What Support and Comfort may not we draw thence, who live under the most full and perfect display of it, in all its Riches and Glory? Enough hath been said to prove it a Gospel-Covenant; but if any doubt should remain of that, it will be fully removed, by considering,

3. The eximious Properties and Characters of the Covenant, as we find them placed in the Text; and they are three, viz.

  • (1.) Everlasting.
  • (2.) Ordered in all things, and
  • (3.) Sure.

[...].(1.) It is an Everlasting Cove­nant, or a perpetual Covenant, a Covenant of Eternity; not in the most [...]trict, proper, and absolute sence: for that is the incommu­nicable [Page 13] property of God himself, who neither hath beginning, nor end; but the meaning is, that the Benefits and Mercies of the Co­venant are durable and endless to the People of God: for Christ being the principal Matter and Substance of the Covenant, there must be in it everlasting Righte­ousness, as it is called, Dan. 9.24. everlasting Kindness, Isai. 54.8. everlasting Forgiveness, Ier. 31.34. and in consequence to all these, everlasting Consolation, Isai. 51.11. In all which, the riches and bounty of Free Grace shine forth in their greatest glory and splen­dor.

(2.) It is a Covenant order'd in all things, [...] ordinavit, disposuit, aptavit. or orderly prepared, disposed, and set, as the word im­ports. Every thing being here disposed and placed in the most comely order, both persons and things here keep their proper place: God the Father keeps the place of the most wise Contriver and bountiful Donor of the inva­luable Mercies of the Covenant; [Page 14] and Christ keeps the proper place both of the Purchaser and Surety of the Covenant, and all the Mer­cies in it; and Believers keep their place, as the unworthy Receivers of all the gratuitous Mercies and rich Benefits thereof, and the most obliged Creatures in all the World to Free Grace, saying, Although my house, yea, although my heart and my life be not so with God, yet hath he made with me an e­verlasting Covenant. And as Per­sons, so Things, all things in this Covenant stand in the most ex­quisite order, and exact correspon­dence to each other. O 'tis a ravishing sight to behold the ha­bitude and respect of the Mercies in the Covenant, to the sins and wants of all that are in it! Here are found full and suitable supplies to the wants of all Gods People. Here you may see Pardon in the Covenant, for guilt in the Soul; Ioy in the Covenant, for sorrow in the Heart; Strength in the Co­venant, for all defects and weaknesses in the Creature; Stability [Page 15] in the Covenant, for mutability in the Creature. Never did the Wisdom of God shine forth more in any contrivance in the World, (except that of Christ, the Surety and principal Matter of the Co­venant) than it doth in the or­derly dispose of all things in their beautiful order, and comely pro­portions in this Covenant of Grace.

(3.) It is a sure Covenant, [...] custodivit ser [...]avit. or a Covenant safely laid up and kept, as the word imports; and upon this account the Mercies of it are called, The sure mercies of David, Isai. 55.3. And so, Psal. 89.28. speaking of this very Covenant, God saith, My Covenant shall stand fast with him, there shall be no vacillancy, no shaking in this Co­venant: and ver. 34. My Cove­nant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. E­very thing is as its foundation is. Now, Gods Covenant being founded in his unchangeable counsel and purpose, wherein there can be no lubricity, and Christ being [Page 16] the Surety of it, it must needs b [...] as the Text calls it, a sure Cov [...]nant, wherein the faithfulness o [...] God is as illustriously display'd, [...] his Bounty and Wisdom are in th [...] two former properties of it. An [...] such a Covenant as this so eve [...]lasting, aptly disposed, and sure must needs deserve that preciou [...] Respect and high Esteem from e [...]very believing soul, which Davi [...] here doth pay it in.

4. The singular and high valua [...]tion he had of it, when he saith This is all my salvation, and all my desire, [...] or as some translate, all my delight, or pleasure; (i. e.) here I find all repaired with an infinite overplus, that I have lost in the Creature: Here is life in death fulness in wants, security in dan [...]gers, peace in troubles. It is al [...] my salvation, for it leaves nothing in hazard that is essential to my happiness; and all my desire, for i [...] repairs whatever I have lost, or can lose: it is so full and compleat a Covenant, that it leaves nothing to be desired out of it. O it is a [Page 17] full Fountain! Here I repose my weary soul with full satisfaction, and feed my hungry desires with sweetest delights; so that my very soul is at rest and ease, in the bo­some of this blessed Covenant. Thus you have the parts and sence of the Text. The Notes from it are three.

Observation I.

That Gods Covenant People may be exercised with many sharp Afflictions in their Persons and Families.

Even David's House was the House of Mourning. Although my house be not so with God, though he make it not to grow. All sorts of outward Afflictions are incident to all sorts of men.Eccl. 9.2. All things (saith Solomon) come alike to all: there is one event to the righteous, and to the wicked; to the clean, and un­clean; to him that sacrificeth, and to him that sacrificeth not. The Pro­vidences seem one and the same, [Page 18] though the subjects on whom the [...] fall be vastly different. Estate and Children, Health, and Libe [...] ­ty, will still be like themselv [...] vanishing Comforts, whoever the Owners of them. No ma [...] spiritual Estate can be known b [...] the view of his temporal Estat [...] A godly Family cannot be a mis [...] ­rable, but it may be a mournful F [...] ­mily. Religion secures us fro [...] the Wrath, but it doth not secur [...] us from the Rod of God. Th [...] Lord hath chosen another way o [...] expressing his love to his peopl [...] than by temporal and externa [...] things: therefore all things come a­like to all. The Covenant exclude [...] the Curse, but includes the Cros [...] If his children forsake my Law, &c then will I visit their iniquity with the rod, and their sin with stripes nevertheless my loving kindness will not utterly take away.

Nor indeed would it be the priviledge of Gods Covenanted People, to be exempt from the Rod; a mark of Bastardy can be no mans felicity: Heb. 12.8. to [Page 19] go without the chastising discipline of the Rod, were to go without [...]he needful instructions and blessed fruits that accompany and result from the Rod, Psal. 94.12.

Let us not therefore say, as those [...]rreligious persons did in Mal. 3.14. It is in vain to serve God, and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinances, and walked mournfully before him? Surely none serve him in vain, but those that serve him vainly. Godliness cannot se­cure you from Affliction, but it can and will secure you from Hell, and sanctifie your Afflicti­ons to help you to Heaven. But I stay not here.

Observation II.

A declining Family is a sore stroke from the hand of God, and so to be acknowledged, wherever it falls.

It was a growing sorrow to David, that his House did not grow; and he eyed the hand of [Page 20] God in it: He made it not to gro [...] as he speaks in the Text. He fe [...] as many Deaths as he had de [...] Children. It is God that buil [...] and destroys Families; he enla [...]geth, and straighteneth them [...]gain. A Family may decline tw [...] ways, viz. either,

  • 1. By the Death: or,
  • 2. By the Degeneracy of i [...] Off-spring.

1. By their Death, when Go [...] lops off the hopeful springin [...] Branches thereof; especially th [...] last and only Prop of it, in whom not only all the care and love, bu [...] all the hope and expectation of th [...] Parents is contracted and boun [...] up. For,

Virgil.
Omnis in Aseanio stat chari cur [...] parentis.

The hearts of tender Parents are usually bound up in the life of an onely Son. As a mans Wife is but himself divided, so his Children [Page 21] [...]re but himself multiplied; and [...]hen all love and delight, hope [...]nd expectation, is reduced to one, [...]e affection is strong, and that [...]akes the affliction so too. If it [...]ere not an unparallel'd grief a­ [...]ong all earthly griefs and sor­ [...]ows, the Spirit of God would ne­ [...]er have chosen and singled it out [...]om among all other sorrows, to [...]lustrate sorrow for sin by it, yea, [...]orrows for that special sin of [...]iercing Christ, as he doth. They [...]all look upon him whom they have [...]ierced, Zech. 12.10. and shall mourn for him, as [...]e that mourneth for an onely son. How naked are those Walls, and [...]ow unfurnished is that House, [...]here the Children (its best Or­ [...]aments) are taken down and re­ [...]oved by Death! It is natural to [...]ll men, to desire the continuance [...]f their Names and Families in [...]he Earth; and therefore when God cuts off their expectations in [...]hat kind, they look upon them­ [...]elves as dry Trees, or as the wi­ [...]hering Stalks in the Fields, when [...]he Flowers are fallen off and blown [...]way from them.

[Page 22]2. Or which is yet much wo [...] a Family may decline by the [...] generacy of its Off-spring. Wh [...] the Piety, Probity, and Vert [...] of Ancestors descend not wi [...] their Lands to their Posterit [...] here the true Line of Honou [...] cut off, and the glory of a Fam [...]ly dies, though its Children liv [...] the Family is ruin'd, though the [...] be a numerous Off-spring. Su [...]ly it were better mourn for [...] dead Children, than for one su [...] living Child.

How many such wretched F [...]milies can England shew this da [...] how hath Atheism and Debauc [...]ry ruin'd and subverted ma [...] great and once famous Familie [...] O it were better the Arms of tho [...] Families had been reversed, a [...] their Lands alienated, yea, bett [...] had it been a Succession had fa [...]ed, and that their Names had bee [...] blotted out, than that Satan shoul [...] rule by Prophaness in the plac [...] where God was once so serious [...] and sweetly worshipped.

[Page 23]Whensoever therefore God shall [...]ther of these ways subvert a Fa­ [...]ily, it becomes them that are [...]oncerned in the Stroke, not only [...] own and acknowledge the [...]and of God in it, but to search [...]eir Hearts and Houses to find [...]ut the sins which have so provo­ [...]ed him: yet not so as to fall [...]to an unbecoming despondency [...]f Spirit, but withal to relieve [...]emselves, as David here doth [...]om the Covenant of God; Yet [...]ath he made with me an everlasting [...]ovenant. Which brings us to the [...]hird and principal point I shall insist on.

Observation III.

That the everlasting, well order'd, [...]nd sure Covenant of Grace, affords [...]verlasting, well order'd, and sure Relief to all that are within the bond [...]f it, how many or how great soever [...]heir personal or domestick tryals and [...]ffictions are.

[Page 24]This point will be cleared t [...] your Understandings, and pre [...]pared for your use, by clearin [...] and opening three Proposition [...] which orderly take up the sum an [...] substance of it, viz.

Proposition I.

That the minds of men, yea, th [...] best men, are weak and feeble thing under the heavy pressures of affliction and will reel and sink under them except they be strongly relieved an [...] under-propp'd.

A bowing Wall doth not more need a strong Shore or Butteress than the mind of man needs [...] strong Support and Stay from Heaven, when the weight of Af­fliction makes it incline and lea [...] all one way.Psal. 119.92. Unless thy Law ha [...] been my delights: I should then hav [...] perished in my affliction. Q. d. Wha [...] shift other men make to stand the shock of their afflictions, I know [Page 25] not; but this I know, that if God had not seasonably sent me the relief of a promise, I had certainly gone away in a faint fit of Despon­dency. O how seasonably did God administer the Cordials of his Word to my drooping sinking Soul!

This weakness in the mind, to support the burdens of Affliction, proceeds from a double cause, viz.

  • 1. From the sinking weight of the Affliction.
  • 2. From the irregular and in­ordinate workings of the thoughts under it.

1. From the sinking weight that is in Affliction, especially in some sorts of Afflictions: they are heavy pressures, ponderous bur­dens in themselves. So Iob speaks, O that my grief were throughly weigh­ed, Job 6.2, 3. and my calamity laid in the ba­lances together: for now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea, therefore my words are swallowed up. [Page 26] Q. d. If all the Sand that lies upon all the shores in the World, were shovelled up into one heap, and cast into one scale, and my sorrow [...] into the other, my grief would weigh it all up. How heavy are the hearts of the afflicted! what insupportable sorrows do they feel▪ and groan under, especially when God smites them in the dearest and nearest concerns they have in the World!

2. But especially the reelings and staggerings of the mind, are occasioned by the inordinate and irregular workings of its own thoughts. Were it but possible to keep the mind in a serene, se­date, and ordinate frame, our bur­dens would be comparatively light to what we now feel them to be▪ but the falling of the thoughts into confusions and great distractions spoils all. Upon this account i [...] is, that Afflictions are compare [...] to a stupifying Dose, which cas [...] the Soul into amazement.Psal. 60.3. Th [...] hast shewed thy people hard thing [...] thou hast made us to drink the wi [...] [Page 27] of astonishment. Afflictions are cal­led the Wine of Astonishment, from their effects upon the mind: for under a great and sudden stroke of God, it is like a Watch wound up above its due height, so that for a time it stands still, neither Grace nor Reason move at all: and when it begins to move again, O how confused and irregular are its motions! It is full of mur­murs, disputes, and quarrels: these aggravate both our sin and misery. 'Tis our own thoughts which take the Arrow God shot at us, (which did but stick before in our Clothes, and was never intended to hurt us, but only to warn us) and thrust it into our very hearts.

For T1houghts, as well as Pon­yards, can pierce and wound the hearts of men. Luke 2.35. A sword shall pierce through thine own soul; (i. e.) thy thoughts shall pierce thee. They can shake the whole fabrick of the Body, and loose the best compacted and strongly joynted parts of the Bo­dy. Dan. 5.6. His thoughts trou­bled [Page 28] him, and the joynts of his loyns were loosed. And thus a mans own mind becomes a Rack of Torment to him; a misery which no Crea­tures, except men and Devils, are subjected to. O how many Bodies have been destroy'd by the Passions of the Soul! they cut through it, as keen Knife through a narrow Sheath. Worldly sorrow works death, 2 Cor. 7.10.

Proposition II.

The merciful God, in condescension to the weakness of his people, hath pro­vided the best supports and reliefs for their feeble and afflicted Spirits.

Psal. 94.19. In the multitude of the thoughts I had within me, thy comforts delight my Soul. Carnal men seek their relief, under trouble, from carnal things; when one Creature for­sakes them, they retreat to another which is yet left them, till they are beaten out of all, and then their hearts fail, having no ac­quaintance [Page 29] with God, or special interest in him: for the Creatures will quickly spend all that allow­ance of comfort they have to spend upon us. Some try what relief the Rules of Philosophy can yield them, supposing a neat sen­tence of Seneca may be as good a remedy as a Text of David or Paul; but alas, it will not do: submission from fatal necessity, will never ease the afflicted mind, as Christian resignation will do. It is not the eradicating, but regu­lating of the affections, that com­poses a burthened and distracted Soul. One word of God will signifie more to our peace, than all the famed and admired Precepts of men.

To neglect God, and seek relief from the Creature, is to forsake the Fountain of living Waters, and go to the broken Cisterns,Jer. 2.13. which can hold no water. The best Crea­ture is but a Cistern, not a Foun­tain; and our dependance on it makes it a broken Cistern, strikes a hole through the bottom of it, [Page 30] so that it can hold no water. I, even I (saith God) am he that comforteth thee. Isai. 57.12. The same hand that wounds you, must heal you▪ or you can never be healed. Ou [...] compassionate Saviour, to asswage our sorrows,Joh. 14.18 hath promised he wi [...] not leave us comfortless. Our God will not contend for ever, lest the Spirit fail before him, Isai. 57.16. He knew how ineffectual all other comforts and Comforters would be, even Physicians of no value▪ and therefore hath graciously pre­pared comforts for his distressed ones, that will reach their end.

Proposition III.

God hath gathered all the material [...] and principals of our relief into the Co­venant of Grace, and expects that [...] betake our selves unto it, in times o [...] distress, as to our sure, sufficient, and only Remedy.

As all the Rivers run into the Sea, and there is the Congregation [Page 31] of all the Waters; so all the Pro­mises and Comforts of the Gospel, are gathered into the Covenant of Grace, and there is the Congrega­tion of all the sweet streams of Refreshment that are dispersed throughout the Scriptures. The Covenant is the Store-house of Promises, the Shop of Cordials and rare Elixirs, to revive us in all our Faintings; though alas most men know no more what are their Virtues, or where to find them, than an illiterate Rustick, put into an Apothecary's Shop.

What was the Cordial God pre­pared to revive the hearts of his poor Captives groaning under hard and grievous Bondage both in E­gypt and in Babylon? Was it not his Covenant with Abraham? And why did he give it the solemn con­firmation by an Oath, but that it might yield to him, and all his be­lieving Seed,Heb. 6.17▪ 18. strong consolation, the very spirit of joy amidst all their sorrows?

And what was the relief God gave to the believing Eunuchs that [Page 32] kept his Sabbaths, took hold of his Covenant, and chose the things in which he delighted. To them (saith he) will I give in my house, and within my walls, Isai. 56.4. a place, and a nam [...] better than that of sons or of Daugh­ters. Though they were deprived of those comforts other men have in their Posterity, yet he would not have them look upon them­selves as dry Trees; a Covenant-interest would answer all, and re­compence abundantly the want of Children, or any other earthly comfort.

Certainly therefore, David was at the right door of relief and comfort, when he repairs to the Covenant, as here in the Text, Yet hath he made with me an ever­lasting Covenant. There, or no­where, the Relief of Gods Afflict­ed is to be found.

Now, to make any thing be­come a compleat any perfect re­lief to an afflicted Spirit, these three Properties must concur and meet in it, else it can never effe­ctually relieve any man.

  • [Page 33]I. It must be able to remove all the causes and grounds of troubles.
  • II. It must be able to do so at all times.
  • III. It must be capable of a good personal security to us.

For if it only divert our trou­bles, (as Creature-comforts use to do) and do not remove the ground and cause of our trouble, 'tis but an Anodine, not a Cure or Remedy. And if it can remove the very ground and cause of our trouble for a time, but not for e­ver, then 'tis but a temporary re­lief; our troubles may return a­gain, and we left in as bad case as we were before. And if it be in it self able to remove all the cau­ses and grounds of our trouble, and that at all times, but not ca­pable of a personal security to us, or our well-established interest in it, all signifies nothing to our re­lief.

[Page 34]But open your eyes and behold, O ye afflicted Saints, all these Properties of a compleat relief meeting together in the Covenant, as it is display'd in the Text. Here is a Covenant able to remove all the grounds and causes of your trouble; for it is ORDER'D i [...] all things, or aptly disposed by the wisdom and contrivance of God, to answer every cause and ground of trouble and sorrow in our hearts. It is able to do this at all times; as well in our day, as in David's or Abraham's day: for it is an Ever­lasting Covenant; its vertue and efficacy is not decay'd by time. And lastly, it is capable of a good personal security or assurance to all Gods afflicted people; for it is a Sure Covenant. The concur­rence of these three Properties in the Covenant, makes it a complea [...] Relief, a perfect Remedy, to which nothing is wanting in the kind and nature of a Remedy. These three glorious Properties of the Cove­nant are my proper Province to open and confirm, for your sup­port [Page 35] and comfort in this Day of Trouble.

I.

That the Covenant of Grace is able to remove all the causes and grounds of a Believers trouble, be they never so great or many. This I doubt not will be convinceingly evidenced and demonstrated by the follow­ing Arguments, or undeniable Reasons.

Argument I.

Whatsoever disarms Afflictions of the only sting whereby they wound us, must needs be a com­pleat Relief and Remedy to the afflicted Soul.

But so doth the Covenant of Grace, it disarms Afflictions of the only sting by which they wound us.

Therefore the Covenant of Grace must needs be a compleat [Page 36] Relief and Remedy to the afflicted Soul.

The sting of all Afflictions, is the guilt of sin; when God smites, Conscience usually smites too: and this is it that causes all that pain and anguish in the afflicted. 'Tis plainly so in the Example of the Widow of Zarephath, 1 King. 17.18. when her son, her only son, and probably her only child died, how did that stroke of God revive guilt in her Conscience, and made the afflicti­on piercing and intolerable! as ap­pears by her passionate Expostula­tion with Elijah, who then sojourn­ed in her house: What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son? Q. d. What injury have I done thee? Didst thou come hither to observe my sins, and pray down this Judgment upon my Child for them? The death of her son re­vived her guilt, and so it general­ly doth, even in the most holy men.

[Page 37]When Iob looked upon his wa­sted body under Afflictions, every wrinkle he saw upon it, seemed to him like a witness rising up to te­stifie against him.Job 16.8. Thou hast filled me with wrinkles which is a witness against me, and my leaness rising up in me, beareth witness to my face.

Affliction is like a Hue and Cry after sin in the ears of Conscience, and this is the envenom'd poyson­ous sting and Affliction: pluck out this, and the afflicted man is present­ly eased, though the matter of the affliction still abide with him, and lie upon him. He is afflicted still, but not cast down by affliction; the anguish and burden is gone, though the matter of trouble remain.

This is plain both in Scripture, and in Experience. Suitable here­unto is that strange, but sweet Ex­pression, The inhabitant shall not say I am sick, Isai. 33.24. the people that dwell there­in shall be forgiven their iniquities. It's not to be imagined these people had found such a fortunate Island, o [...] happy Climate, where no Dis­ease could touch or invade their [Page 38] Bodies; no, sickness will find o [...] the Bodies of the best men, where ever they live; wherever sin ha [...] been, sickness and death will fo [...]low it. Heaven is the only pr [...]viledg'd place from these miseries but the meaning is, though the [...] be sick, they shall not feel th [...] pains and burdens of sickness they shall not say they are sick: An [...] why so? because their iniquitie [...] are forgiven. Plainly confirmin [...] what was before asserted, that the anguish of an Affliction is gone as soon as ever the sting of guil [...] is plucked out. And hence par [...]doning of the Soul, and healing o [...] the Body, are put together as co [...]jugate mercies: Psal. 103.1.3. Bless the Lord, O my soul, who forgiveth all thine iniquities and healeth all thy diseases. When the soul is at ease, the pains of the body are next to nothing: sick [...]ness can cloud all natural joys, but not the joy of a Pardon.

Nay, which is yet more; pluck out but the sting of sin, and there is no horrour in Death, the King of Terrours, and worst of all out­ward [Page 39] Evils. See how the par­doned Believer triumphs over it: O death, 1 Cor. 15.55. where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? the sting of death is sin. They are words of defiance, as men use to deride and scorn a boasting insulting Enemy, when they see him cast upon his back, and his sword broken over his head.

Heus! uhi nunc fastus, alta (que) verba jacent?
Ovid.

Where are your boasts and mena­ces now? O Death, thou hast lost thy sting and terrour together. Thus the pardoned Believer, with an holy gallantry of spirit, derides and contemns his disarmed Enemy Death: so then 'tis manifest, that whatever plucks out the poyson­ous sting of Affliction, must needs be an effectual Remedy and Cure to the afflicted person.

But this the Covenant of Grace doth, it reveals and applies Go­spel-remission to them that are within the blessed bond of it. [Page 40] This shall be the Covenant that I wi [...] make with the house of Israel; Jer. 31.33, 34. I wi [...] forgive their iniquity, [...] It respects the propi­tiatory ex­piation of sin by Christ, who is there­fore called [...]. and I will re­member their sin no more. Behol [...] here a gracious, full, and irrevo [...]cable Pardon! I will forgive, o [...] be propitiously merciful, as tha [...] word imports; pointing plainly t [...] Christ our Propitiation, our sin [...] are forgiven us for his Names sake And a Pardon as full as it is free iniquity and sin,1 Joh. 2.2. & Rom. 3.25. smaller and grea [...]ter, are here forgiven: for Go [...] in the remission of his peoples sins having respect to the propitiatin [...] Bloud of Christ, he pardons all as well as some, that Bloud deser [...]ving and purchasing the most ful [...] and compleat Pardons for his Peo [...]ple. 1. Joh. 1.7. The bloud of Christ cleanseth us from all sin.

And this Covenant-pardon is a firm, as it is free and full. So ru [...] the expressions in the Grant, I wi [...] remember their sin no more: or in the Apostles words, Heb. 8.13. [...]. I will not remember them again. That is, not so remember as to impute them, o [...] [Page 41] condemn my pardoned ones for them: for the pardoned persons come no more into condemnati­on, Ioh. 5.24. their sins are cast into the depths of the Sea, Mica. 7.19. Sooner shall the East▪ and the West, the two opposite points of Heaven, meet, than the par­doned soul and its sins meet again in condemnation, Psal. 103.12.

Now, the case standing thus with all Gods Covenant-people, all their sins being graciously, ful­ly, and irrevocably forgiven them, how convincingly and sweetly doth this conclusion follow, that the Covenant is a compleat Reme­dy to all afflicted Believers? As nothing can befal us before Christ and Pardon be ours, which is suf­ficient to raise us, so nothing can befal us afterwards, which should deject and sink us. This is the first benefit afflicted Believers re­ceive from the Covenant, and this alone is enough to heal all our sor­rows.

Argument II.

As the Covenant of Grace d [...] arms all the Afflictions of Bel [...]vers of the only sting by whi [...] they wound them; so it al [...] the very nature and property [...] their Afflictions, and turns the [...] from a Curse into a Blessing [...] them: and in so doing it becom [...] more than a Remedy, even a choi [...] Benefit and Advantage to them.

All Afflictions in their own n [...]ture, are a part of the Curse; the [...] are the consequents and punis [...]ments of sin; they work naturall [...] against our good: but when on [...] they are taken into the Covenan [...] their nature and property is alte [...]ed. As Waters in their subterr [...]nean passages meeting some ver [...]tuous Mineral in their course, a [...] thereby impregnated and endow [...]ed with a rare healing property [...] the Body; so Afflictions passing through the Covenant, receive from it an healing Vertue to our [Page 43] souls. They are in themselves soure and harsh, as wild Hedge-Fruits; but being ingrafted into this stock, they yield the pleasant Fruits of Righteousness. If his children break my Statutes, Psal. 89.30, 31. and keep not my Commandments, then will I visit their iniquity with the rod, and their sins with stripes: nevertheless my loving kindness will I not utterly take away, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. Here you may see all the Rods of Affliction put into the Co­venant, as Aaron's Rod was into the Ark. And hence two things necessarily follow.

(1.) That such Afflictions can do the Children of God no hurt. They may affright, but cannot hurt them: We may meet them with fear, but shall part from them with joy: An unsanctified Rod never did any man good, and a sanctified Rod never did any man hurt: He may afflict our Bodies with sickness, deny, or cut off our comfort in Children, impoverish our Estates, let loose persecutors [...]pon us; but in all this he really [Page 44] doth us no hurt, as he speaks in I [...] 25.6. no more hurt than a skil [...] Chirurgeon doth in saving his P [...]tients life, by cutting off a mor [...]fied gangren'd Member: no mo [...] hurt than Frosts and Snow do t [...] Earth in killing the rank Wee [...] that exhausted the sap and streng [...] of it, and preparing and mello [...] ­ing it to produce a fruitful crop [...] Corn. By these he recals o [...] minds from vanity, weans o [...] fond and ensnaring affections fro [...] the World, discovers and mortifi [...] those lusts, which gentler method and essays could not do: and [...] this for our hurt?

I confess Gods thoughts an [...] ours often differ upon this case [...] We measure the good and evil o [...] Providences by their respect t [...] the ease and pleasure of our flesh [...] but God sees this is the way to cas [...] our Spirits into a dead formality and in removing them, he dot [...] but deprive us of the occasions and instruments of spiritual mischief [...] and miseries, in which certainly he doth us no hurt.

[Page 45](2.) But that is not all. Af­ [...]ictions once put into the Cove­nant, must promote the good of [...]he Saints: they are beneficial, as well as harmless things. We know [...]saith the Apostle) that all things work together for good to them that [...]ove God. This Promise is the Compass which sets the course and directs the motion of all the Af­ [...]ictions of the People of God; [...]nd no Ship at Sea obeys the Rud­der so exactly, as the troubles of the Righteous do the direction of this Promise. Possibly we cannot dis­cern this at present, but rather pre­ [...]udge the works of God, and say all these things are against us; but hereafter we shall see, and with [...]oy acknowledge them to be the happy instruments of our salva­tion.

How often hath Affliction sent [...]he People of God to their knees, with such Language as this! ‘O my God, how vain and sensual hath this heart of mine been un­der prosperity! How did the love of the Creature, like a sluce, [Page 46] cut in the bank of a River, draw away the stream of my affect [...] ­ons from thee! I had gotten soft a Pillow of Creature-comfort under my head, and I easily fel [...] asleep, and dreamed of nothin [...] but rest and pleasure, in a stat [...] of absence from thee; but now thy Rod hath awakened me and reduced me to a right sen [...] of my condition. I was negl [...] ­gent or dead-hearted in th [...] course of my duty, but now [...] can pray more fervently, feeling­ly, and frequently than before. O it was good for me, that I hav [...] been afflicted. O, saith God, how well was this Rod bestow'd which hath done my poor Chil [...] so much good! Now I hav [...] more of his heart, and more o [...] his time and company than ever. Now I hear the voice, and see the gracious workings of the Spi­rit of my Child after me again, as in the days of his first love.’ The sum of all this you may see in the ingenuous meltings of Ephraim under a sanctified Rod, Ier. 31. [Page 47] 19,20. and the sounding of the [...]owels of mercy over him. 'E­phraim mourns at Gods feet, and God falls upon Ephraim's neck. I have been as a Beast, saith E­phraim: Thou art a dear son, a pleasant child, saith God. My bowels are troubled and pained for sin, saith Ephraim: And my bowels are troubled for thee, and my compassions rolled together, saith God. O blessed fruits of [...]anctified Rods! such precious ef­ [...]ects as these richly repay you for [...]ll the pain and anguish you feel. And thus, as the wound of a Scor­ [...]ion is healed by applying its own Oyl, so the evil of Affliction is cured by the sanctified Fruits that [...]t produceth when it is once put [...]nto the Covenant.

Argument III.

The Covenant doth not only alter the nature and property of the Saints Afflictions, but it also orderl [...] disposes and aptly places them in the frame of Providence, among th [...] other means and instruments [...] our salvation; so that a Counc [...] of Angels could never place them or the least circumstance belong­ing to them, more aptly and a [...] ­vantageously than it hath done▪ The knowledge of this must need quiet and fully relieve the afflict­ed soul: and who can doubt it that believes it to be a Covenan [...] ordered in all things, as the Te [...] speaks? Here all things, yea, th [...] most minute-circumstances that be [...]fal you, are reduced to their pro­per Class, and place of service; s [...] exactly ordered, that all the wi [...] ­dom of men and Angels know not how to mend or alter any thing to your advantage.

[Page 49]If a small Pin be taken out of the frame of a Watch, and placed any where else, the motion is ei­ther presently stopped, or made irregular. And as Gallen observes of the curious Fabrick of an hu­mane Body, that if the greatest Naturalist should study an hun­dred years to find out a more commodious scituation, or confi­guration of any part thereof, it could never be done. 'Tis so here: No man can come after God, and say, this or that had been better placed or timed, than it is, if this Affliction had been spared, and such an enjoyment stood in the room of it, it had been better. All God's Providences are the re­sults and issues of his infinite Wis­dom: for he works all things accor­ding to the counsel of his own will, Eph. 1.11. The Wheels, (i. e.) the motions and revolutions of Pro­vidence, are full of Eyes;Ezek. 1.18. they are well advised, and judicious motions, Non caeco impetu volvuntur rotae; they run not at random. The most regular and excellent [Page 50] working, must needs follow the most deep and perfect counsel. Isai. 28▪ 29. He is deep in counsel, and excellent in working.

Now every Affliction that be­fals Gods covenanted People, be­ing placed by the most wise and infinite counsel of God, in tha [...] very order, time, and manner in which they befal them, this very Affliction, and not that, at this very time, and not at another, (it being always a time of need▪ 1 Pet. 1.6.) and usher'd in by such fore-running occasions and circumstances; it must follow, that they all take the proper places▪ and nick exactly the fittest seasons▪ and if one of them were wanting, something would be defective in the frame of your happiness. As they now stand, they work toge­ther for your good, which displa­ced, they would not do.

It's said, Ier. 18.11. Behold [...] frame evil, and I devise a devi [...] ▪ It's spoken of the contrivance and frame of Afflictions, as the proper work of God. The project of i [...] [Page 51] is laid for his glory, and the eter­nal good of his People. It turns to their salvation, 1 Phil. 19. But oh how fain would we have this or that Affliction scrued out of the frame of Providence, concei­ving it would be far better out than in. O if God had spared my Child, or my Health, it had been better for me than now it is. But this is no other than a presumptu­ous correcting and controlling of the Wisdom of God; and so he interprets it, Iob 40.2. He that reproveth God, let him answer it. God hath put every Affliction up­on your Persons, Estates, Relati­ons, just where you find and feel it; and that whole frame he hath put into the Covenant, in the vertue whereof it works for your salvation: and therefore let all disputings and reasonings, all mur­murs and discontents cease, no­thing can be better for you, than as God hath laid it; and this one would think should heal and quiet all. You your selves would mar all, by presuming to mend any thing. [Page 52] Who hath directed the spirit of the Lord, Isai. 40.13, 14. or being his counsellour, hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him the path of judgment? and taught him knowledge, and shew­ed him the way of understanding? Well then, be satisfied 'tis best as it is; and nothing can be so advan­tageous to you, as God's project and contrivance, which you are so uneasie under, and dissatisfi'd a­bout.

Argument IV.

As the Covenant sorts and ranks all your troubles into their proper Classes and places of service, so it secures the special gracious pre­sence of God with you, in the deepest plunges of distress that can befal you; which presence is a full relief to all your troubles, or else nothing in the World is or can be so.

The very Heathens thought themselves well secured against all [Page 53] evils and dangers, if they had their petty houshold Gods with them in their Journeys: but the great God of Heaven and Earth hath engaged to be with his Peo­ple, in all their afflictions and di­stresses. As a tender Father sits up himself with his sick Child, and will not leave him to the care of a Servant only; so God thinks it not enough to leave his Children to the tutelage and charge of An­gels, but will be with them him­self, and that in a special and pe­culiar way: so run the express words of the Covenant,Jer. 32.40. I will not turn away from them to do them good, but I will put my fear into their hearts; and they shall not depart from me. Here he undertakes for both parts, himself and them. I will not, and they shall not.

Here is the Saints security for the gracious presence of God with them, a presence which dispels all the Clouds of affliction and sor­row, as the Sun scatters the morn­ing Mists. The God of all conso­lation is with you, O poor deject­ed [Page 54] Believers, and will not such a presence turn the darkness into light round about you? There is a threefold presence of God with his Creatures.

  • 1. Essential, which is common and necessary to all.
  • 2. Gracious, which is peculiar to some on Earth.
  • 3. Glorious, which is the feli­city of Heaven.

The first is not the priviledge here secured; for it is necessary to all, good and bad: in him we all live, and move, and have our being. The vilest Men on Earth, yea the Beasts of the Field, and the very De­vils in Hell are always in this pre­sence of God, but it is their torment, rather than their priviledge. The last is proper to the glorified Saints and Angels. Such a presence im­bodied, Saints cannot now bear; but it is his special gracious pre­sence which is made over and se­cured to them in the Covenant of Grace: and this presence of God is manifested to them two ways.

  • [Page 55]1. Internally, by the Spirit.
  • 2. Externally, by Providence.

1. Internally, by the Spirit of Grace dwelling and acting in them, this is a choice priviledge to them in the day of affliction: for hereby they are instructed and taught the meaning of the Rod. Psal. 94.12. Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, and teachest him out of thy law. O 'tis a blessed thing to be taught so many Lessons by the Rod, as the Spirit teacheth them! Surely they reckon it an a­bundant recompence of all that they suffer.Psal. 119.71. It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I might learn thy statutes. Yea, he refre­shes as well as teaches, and no Cordials revive like his.Psal. 94.19. In the multitude of the thoughts I had with­in me, thy comforts delight my soul. Yea, by the presence and blessing of his Spirit, our Afflictions are sanctified to subdue and purge out our corruptions.Isai. 27.9. By this shall the iniquity of Iacob be purged, and this [Page 56] is all the fruit to take away sin. Now if a man be instructed in the ends and designs of the Rod, refreshed and comforted under every stripe of the Rod, and have his sins mor­tified and purged by the sanctifica­tion of the Spirit upon his Afflicti­ons; then both the burthensom­ness and bitterness of his Afflicti­ons are removed and healed by the internal presence of the Spirit of God with his afflicted ones. But,

2. Besides this, God is provi­dentially present with his People, in all their troubles, in a more ex­ternal way; ordering all the cir­cumstances of their troubles to their advantage. He orders the degree and extent of our Afflicti­ons, still leaving us some mercies and comforts to support and refresh us, when others are cut off. In measure doth he debate with his Covenant People,Isai. 27.8. staying the rough wind in the day of the East wind. He might justly smite all our outward Comforts at once, so that Affliction should not rise up [Page 57] the second time: for what com­fort soever hath been abused by sin, is thereby forfeited into the hand of Judgment. But the Lord knows our inability to sustain such strokes, and therefore proportions them to our strength. We have some living Relations to minister comfort to us, when mourning over our dead: He makes not a full end of all at once. Yea, and his Providence supports our frail Bodies, enabling them to endure the shocks and storms of so many Afflictions, without ruine. Surely there is as much of the care of Providence manifested in this, as there is in preserving poor crazy leaking Barks, and weather-beaten Vessels at Sea, when the Waves not only cover them, but break into them, and they are ready to founder in the midst of them.

O what a singular mercy is the gracious presence of God with men! even the special presence of that God,Eph. 4 6. who is above all, and through all, and in you all, as the A­postle speaks. Above all, in Majesty [Page 58] and Dominion; through all, in his most efficacious Providence; and in you all, by his Grace and Spirit. As he is above all, so he is able to command any Mercy you want, with a word of his mouth; as he is through all, so he must be inti­mately acquainted with all your wants, straights, and fears; and as he is in you all, so he is engaged for your support and supply, as you are the dear Members of Christ's mystical Body.

Object. But methinks I hear Gi­deon's Objection rolled into the way of this soveraign Consolation. If God be with us, why is all this Evil befallen us?

Sol. All what? If it had been all this rebellion and rage against God, all this apostacy and revolt­ing more and more, all this contu­macy and hardness of heart under the Rod; then it had been a weighty and stumbling Objection indeed: but to say, If God be with us, why are all these chasten­ing corrections and temporal cros­ses befallen us? why doth he smite [Page 59] our Bodies, Children, or Estates? is an Objection no way fit to be urged by any that are acquainted with the Scriptures, or the nature and tenour of the Covenant of Grace. Is afflicting and forsa­king, all one with you? must God needs hate, because he scourgeth you? I question whether Satan himself hath impudence enough to set such a Note or Comment upon Heb. 12.6. For Whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth, and scour­geth every son whom he receiveth.

No, no, Christian, 'tis not a chastening Rod, but the denying of such a favour, and suffering men to sin with impunity, and go on prosperously in the way of their own hearts, that speaks a rejected man, as the next words, ver. 7. in­forms you. As he never loved you the better for your prosperity, so you may be confident he loves you never the less for your adver­sity: and will not this close and heal the wounds made by Affli­ction? What, not such a Promise as this, I will be with him in trouble, [Page 60] Psal. 91.15. Will not such a pre­sence revive thee? What then can do it? Moses reckoned that a Wil­derness with God, was better than a Canaan without him.Exod. 33.15. If thy presence go not with me (saith he) then carry us not hence. And if there be the Spirit of a Christian in thee, and God should give thee thine own choice, thou wouldst rather chuse to be in the midst of all these Afflictions with thy God, than back again in all thy prospe­rity, and among thy Children and former Comforts, without him.

Argument V.

As this Covenant assures you of Gods gracious and special presence, so it fully secures all the Essentials and Substantials of your Happiness, against all hazards and contingencies; in which security lies your full Relief and compleat Remedy against all your troubles for the loss of other things.

[Page 61]There be two sorts of things belonging to all God's People, viz.

  • 1. Essentials.
  • 2. Accidentals.

1. They have somethings which are essential to their Happiness; such are the loving kindness of God, the pardon of sin, union with Christ, and eternal salvation. And they have other things which are Accidentals, that come and go, live and die, without affecting or altering their Happiness; such are Health, Estates, Children, and all sorts of Relations and earthly Comforts. These are to our Hap­piness, as Leaves are to the Tree which fade and fall away without endangering the Tree; but the other as the vital Sap, without which it withers and dies at the very root. Now if it can be made out that the Covenant fully se­cures the former; then it will strongly follow, that it therein a­bundantly relieves us under all our [Page 62] sorrows for the latter: and that it doth so, will evidently appear, by reviewing the Covenant, wherein you shall find all these substantial and essential Mercies of Believers, fully secured against all hazards and contingencies whatsoever.

There the loving kindness of God is secured to their Souls, whatever Afflictions he lays upon their Bodies.Psal. 89.33. Nevertheless my lo­ving kindness will I not take away. And their pardon is as safe as the favour of God is; 'tis safely locks up in that Promise,Jer. 31.34. I will remember their sins no more. Yea, Heaven, together with our perseverance in the way to it, are both put out of hazard by that invaluable Pro­mise, They shall never perish, Joh. 10.28. neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.

Thus are all the Essentials of a Believers Happiness secured in the Covenant; and these being safe, the loss of other enjoyments should not much affect or wound them, because if he enjoy them, they add nothing to his Happiness; [Page 63] and if he lose them, he is still hap­py in God without them. And this unriddles that AEnigmatical Expression of the Apostle,2 Cor. 6.10. As ha­ving nothing, and yet possessing all things; (i. e.) the substraction of all external things cannot make us miserable, who have Christ for our portion, and all our happiness intire in him.

If a man travelling on the Rode fall into the hands of Thieves who rob him of a few shillings, why this doth not much affect him: for though he have lost his spending Money, yet his stock is safe at home, and his Estate se­cure, which will yield him more. Or if a man have been at Court, and there obtain'd a Pardon for his Life, or a Grant of a Thousand pound per annum, and returning home should chance to lose his Gloves or his Handkerchief, sure if the man be in his wits, he will not take on or mourn for the loss of these Trifles, whilst the Pardon or Grant is safe. Surely these things are not worth the mentioning.

[Page 64]'Tis true, the loss of outward earthly things, are to a Believer real Tryals, yet they are but seem­ing Losses: and therefore they are expressed in the Apostles phrase with a Tanquam, 2 Cor. 6.9. sicut: As chasten­ed, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoycing. And if your losses be but as it were losses, your sorrows should be but as it were sorrows: Much like a Physick sickness, which we do not call a proper sickness, but as it were a sickness, because it conduceth to the health, and not the hurt of the Person; as all God's medici­nal Afflictions on his People also do.

Indeed, if the stroke of God were at our Souls, to cut them off from Christ and Heaven, to raze our Names out of the Covenant, or revoke the pardon of sin; then we had cause enough to justifie the extremity of sorrow; cause enough to weep out our eyes, and break our hearts for such a dismal blow as that would be. But bles­sed be God you stand out of the [Page 65] way of such strokes as these; let God strike round about you, or lay his hand upon any other com­forts you possess, he will never smite you in these essential things, which is certainly enough to allay and relieve all your other sor­rows.

My Name is blotted out of the Earth, but still it is written in Hea­ven. God hath taken my only son from me, but he hath given his only Son for me, and to me. He hath broken off my hopes and expectations as to this World, but my hopes of Heaven are fixed, sure, and immoveable for ever. My house and heart are both in confusion and great disorder, but I have still an everlasting Cove­nant ordered in all things, and sure. I cannot say my son liveth, [...]ut I can still say I know that my Redeemer liveth. The grass wither­ [...]th, and the flower fadeth; but the word of the Lord abideth for ever, Isai. 40.8.

Argument VI.

As God strikes none of the sub [...]stantial Mercies of his covenan [...] People, so when he doth smi [...] their external and accidental Com [...]forts, the Covenant of Grace [...] sures them, that even those stroke [...] are the strokes of Love, and m [...] Wrath; the Wounds of a Frien [...] and not of an Enemy: which another singular relief to the affl [...]cted soul.

The most frightful thing in an Affliction, is the mark or characte [...] of God's Wrath which it seems [...] bear: take away that, and the Affl [...]ction is nothing.Psal. 6.1. O Lord, rebuke [...] not in thine anger, neither chasten [...] in thy hot displeasure. He doth no [...] deprecate the rebukes, but the a [...]ger of God; not his chastening but his hot displeasure. Gods a [...]ger is much more terrible than hi [...] rebuking, and his hot displeasur [...] than his chastening. Therefor [...] he intreats, that whatever God di [...] [Page 67] to him in the way of affliction, he would do nothing in the way of wrath; and then he could bear a­ny thing from him. A mark of divine anger ingraven upon any Affliction, makes that Affliction dreadful to a gracious soul.

But if a man be well satisfied that whatever anguish there be, yet there is no anger, but that the Rod is in the Hand of Love: O how it eases the soul, and lightens the burden! Now this desirable point is abundantly cleared in the Covenant; where we find a clear Consistence, yea, a necessary Conne­ction betwixt the Love and the Rod of God, Psal. 89.31. and Heb. 12.6. nay, so far are the Afflictions of the Saints from being marks of his Wrath, that they are the Fruits and Evidences of his Fatherly Love.

Two men walking through the Streets, see a company of Boys [...]ighting, one of them steps forth [...]nd singles out one of those Boys, [...]nd carries him home to correct [...]im; which of the two think you [Page 68] is that Childs Father? The c [...] standing thus with all Gods Peo­ple, surely there is no reason fo [...] their despondencies whatever the [...] Afflictions be.

Argument VII.

Lastly, the Covenant doth no [...] only discover the consistence an [...] connection betwixt the Love an [...] the Rod of God, but it also giv [...] full satisfaction to the Saints, th [...] whatsoever temporary Mercy the [...] are deprived of, which was with in the Bond of the Covenan [...] when they enjoyed it, is no [...] lost, but shall certainly be restore [...] to them again with a rich im [...]provement, and that they shall en [...]joy it again to all eternity.

What a rare Model or Platfor [...] of Consolatory Arguments ha [...] the Apostle laid down, to antido [...] our immoderate sorrows for th [...] death of our dear Relatives whic [...] died interested in Christ and th [...] Covenant! I would not have yo [...] [Page 69] [...]gnorant, 1 Thess. 4.13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18. brethren, concerning them which are asleep, v. 13. They are not dead, but asleep. Sleep is but [...] Parenthesis to the Labours and Travels of this Life; and it is but a partial privation, not of the ha­ [...]it, but acts of Reason, to which [...]pon awaking the soul returns a­gain. Just such a thing is that [...]hich in believers is commonly [...]alled Death. And we do not [...]se to bewail our Friends, because [...]hey are fallen asleep: And there­ [...]re it no way becomes us to sor­ [...]ow as those that have no hope, or to look upon them as lost; [...] (as he strongly argueth and concludeth, v. 14) their restora­ [...]ion to their Bodies, yea, and to [...]ur enjoyment again, is fully se­ [...]red both to them and us by the Resurrection of Jesus from the [...]ead. The influence of his Re­ [...]rrection is by the Prophet Isaiah [...]ompared to the Morning-dew,Isai. 26.19. [...] shew that what vertue there is [...] the Morning-dew to cause the [...]nguishing Plants of the Earth to [...]ive and flourish, that, and much [Page 70] more there is in the Resurrectio [...] of Christ, to revive and quicke [...] the dead bodies of these Saints, their Bodies shall be restored by vertue of the warm animating dew or influence of his Resurre­ction.

Obj. But the marvellous change which the Resurrection makes up on glorified Bodies, and the long separation of many Ages betwi [...] us and them, seems to make it in possible for us to know them [...] those that were once related to [...] upon Earth; and if so, then tha [...] comfort which resulted from them as in relation to us, is perishe [...] with them at death.

Sol. Whatever change the R [...] ­surrection shall make on their B [...] ­dies, and the length of time be­twixt our parting with them [...] Earth, and meeting them agai [...] in Heaven, shall be; neither th [...] one or other seem sufficient to i [...] ­form the grounds of our hope, th [...] we shall know them to be the ver [...] persons that were once so dear t [...] us upon Earth. There may remai [...] [Page 71] [...]ome lineament or property of in­ [...]ividuation whereby the acute [...]lorified eye may possibly discover [...]ho they were; or if not, yet [...]one can doubt but it may be dis­ [...]overed to us by revelation from God: and that one way or other [...]t will be discovered, is highly pro­ [...]able, because nothing will be denied to that perfect State which may contribute to, or compleat [...]he joy and happiness thereof, as [...]e cannot but think this know­ [...]edge will do. If Adam knew Eve to be flesh of his flesh, and [...]one of his bone, in the state of [...]nnocence; and if the Apostles knew Moses and Elias upon the Mount; yea, if Dives in Hell [...]new Abraham and Lazarus in Heaven: sure we may well allow [...]hat knowledge to the glorified [...]aints in Heaven, which we find [...]n the State of Innocence, or in [...]he sinful State on Earth, or in [...]he State of the Damned in Hell.

And if so, then the Covenanted Parents shall be able to say in that [Page 72] day, This was our Child for who [...] we prayed and travelled again, ti [...] Christ was formed in him; th [...] is he whom we educated for God▪ and trained up in the Nurture an [...] Admonition of the Lord; and now we see the fruit of our Pray­ers, Counsels, Catechisings, [...] Child of so many Prayers perishe [...] not. And the Covenanted Chil [...] shall say, This was my pious [...]ther, who took such care for my Soul; and this my tender Mother who, like another Monica, was ze [...]lously concerned for my etern [...] happiness. These are they th [...] sowed so many Prayers, which God gave them not time [...] reap the fruits of on Earth, b [...] now they shall reap the fruit an [...] comfort of them for ever. O joy [...]ful meeting in the Kingdom o [...] God! The joy of such a meeting abundantly recompences for a [...] the tears and groans of a dolorou [...] parting.

Now, put all this together, an [...] value the Arguments produced to make good the first thing pro [...]pounded, [Page 73] namely the sufficiency of the Covenant to relieve and re­medy all the sorrows and losses of Believers, be they never so many, or so great; this cannot be doubt­ed, since it hath been proved, that it Disarms all their Afflictions of the only sting by which they wound; Alters the very nature and property of their Afflictions, turning them from Curses into Blessings; Ranks and Disposes them into their proper class and place of service, so as the counsel of men and Angels could never lay them better to our advantage; Engages the gracious and special presence of God with you in all your troubles; Secures all your essential and substantial Mercies from all hazards and contingencies; Dis­covers a consistency, yea a con­nection betwixt the Rod and the Love of God; and Assures you, that whatever temporal Mercy you ever enjoy'd in, and by ver­tue of the Covenant, shall be re­stored to you again with an admi­rable improvement, and singular [Page 74] advantage. It is by all this, I say abundantly proved, that the Covenant is a soveraign and effectua Remedy to all the sorrows o [...] Gods People; and that it was no [...] Hyperbole in David's Encomium, when he call'd it his Salvation, and all his Desire. But then, as I hinted before.

II.

It must be able to do these things at all times, and in all Ages, or else it will be but a temporary relief to some only, and not to all. Now that the Covenant hath this ability in all Ages, and is as able to relieve us now, as it was to relieve David in his day, fully appears by the Epithet given it in the Text, it is an EVERLASTING CO­VENANT. Yet hath he made with me an everlasting Covenant.

Time is the measure of other things; but Everlastingness is the measure of the Covenant. When the Lord espouseth a People to [Page 75] himself in Covenant, he betroths them to himself for ever, Hos. 2.19. and from that day forward they may say on good grounds, This God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death, as it is in Psal. 48.14. Nothing in na­ture is so firmly established as the Covenant is. Hills and Moun­tains shall sooner start from their basis and centre, and fly like wan­dering Atomes up and down in the Air, than this Covenant shall start from its sure and stedfast foundation, Isai. 54.10.

The Causes and Reasons of the immutability of the new Cove­nant, are

  • 1. The unchangeable purpose of God, which is a sure and sted­fast foundation. 2 Tim. 2.19. Ne­vertheless, the foundation of God stand­eth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth who are his. The first act of Gods love to the creature is that by which he chuseth such a one to be his, and is therefore called the foundation of God, as being that on which he lays the super-structure [Page 76] of all other Mercies. And this stand sure, there can be no va­cillancy or slipperiness in such a foundation: for he knows who are his; he knows them as his Creatures, and as his new Crea­tures in Covenant with him; as his by Election, and his by Cove­nant, Transaction and Compact. The purpose of his Grace before time, gave being to the Covenant of Grace in time, and is the foun­dation of it.
  • 2. The Free Grace of God in Christ, is that which gives immu­tability to this Covenant. It is not built upon Works, but Grace: Therefore it is of faith,
    Rom. 4.16.
    that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed. This Covenant is not founded as the first was, upon the variable and inconstant obedience of man, but upon Grace which is a steady and firm foundation.
  • 3. The suretiship of Christ gives everlasting stability to this Cove­nant. Heb. 7.22. He was made the surety of a better Testament, or [Page 77] Covenant:
    [...] ab. [...] pro mittere qua si [...], in manibus.
    for [...], signifies both, he struck hands, or engaged himself for the whole Covenant, and every condition in it, and that both on Gods part and ours; to undergo all our punishments, to pay all our debts, and to work in us all that God required of us in the Covenant of Grace: and all this under the penalty that lay upon us to have undergone. And this not as other Sureties, who en­ter into one and the same Bond with the principal, so that the Creditor may come upon which he will; but he lays all upon Christ, and relies wholly upon him for satisfaction, knowing he was able to perform it; and so un­der the Type of Gods Covenant with David, Christ is brought in, Psal. 89.19. Thou spakest in vision to thy holy one, and saidst, I have laid help on one who is mighty. Q. d. I know thy ability, my Son, thou art able to pay me, and therefore lay all upon thee.

It follows strongly from what hath been said, that the vertue of [Page 78] the Covenant decays not by time, as other things do, but it is at this day, and will be to the end of the World, as potent and efficacious a Relief to all Gods People, as e­ver it was to David, or any of the Believers of the first Ages.

And if so, certainly nothing can be more strongly supporting, or sweetly relieving in such a change­able World, than this he hath made with me, an everlasting Co­venant. What David speaks of the natural Heavens, will be found true, of things over-spread and co­vered by them.Psal. 102.26, 27. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure, and all of them shall wax old like a garment: and as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed. But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end. The Creature was, and is not; but my Covenant God is the same; his name is I Am, and his Covenant is the same that ever it was; which is the second Pro­perty or Ingredient of this com­pleat Remedy to the Saints Affli­ctions. The Covenant hath not [Page 79] only all Power, Vertue, and Effi­cacy in it self to relieve a distres­sed Christian, but it hath it in all Ages, as well for one as for ano­ther. The third and last follows, namely,

III.

That it is a sure Covenant. So David stiles it in my Text. The certainty of the Covenant, is the glory of the Covenant, and the comfort of all that are in it. The certainty of it in it self is past all doubt, by what hath been said be­fore. It is certain God did make such an everlasting Covenant with his People in Christ, and it must remain an eternal Truth, that such a Covenant there is betwixt God and them. It is as impossible that this everlasting Covenant should not be made with them, as it is impossible for God to lye, Heb. 6.18. If he might make himself not have covenanted, e­verlastingly with them, when once [Page 80] he had so covenanted, such a sup­position would turn up the foun­dation of all Faith and Certainty, and overthrow the Apostles conse­quence on which the Faith and Comfort of Believers is built. Nor is it any infringement of the Al­mighty power, to say, God him­self cannot do that which implies a plain contradiction, as factum in­fectum reddere, to make that which was done, not to be done.

But of this there is no doubt; it is a sure Covenant in it self: That which makes to my purpose here, is to prove it capable of a personal security and certainty to us. David had, and all the Fede­rates, as well as he, may have a subjective or personal certainty al­so. He speaks categorically and positively in the Text, Yet hath he made [with me] an everlasting Co­venant.

Object. If it be said, he might have a personal certainty of it, be­cause it was revealed to him in an extraordinary way by the Prophet Nathan, 2 Sam. 7.12, 13, 14. and [Page 81] extraordinaria non currunt in exem­plum, this was a peculiar favour, which we may not expect.

Sol. I reply, And why may not we know it with as full a certain­ty to whom God is pleased to make it known in his ordinary way? Think you his Word and Spirit cannot ratifie it as fully and firmly to our souls, as Nathan's discovery of it did to David's soul? God give me but such a Seal of it in his ordinary method and way of confirmation, and I will desire no more of him in this World for my relief and comfort, whatever Afflictions it shall please him to lay upon me.

And thus you see all the Pro­perties of a compleat Remedy in the Covenant, and of it every Be­liever may say, This is all my salva­tion, and all my desire, though he make not my house to grow. And now what hinders, but that all Gods afflicted should say from henceforth,Psal. 116.7. Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt boun­tifully with thee. I have all the de­sires [Page 82] of my heart in the Covenant of God, though he take away the desire of mine eyes upon earth with his stroke. In this Covenant my soul is at rest, and my very heart is centred. No Affliction can be great enough to make the Consolations of the Almighty seem small in mine eyes. Worldly sor­rows may swallow up worldly comforts, but no sorrows upon Earth can swallow up the consola­tions of the Covenant.

I know many Christians droop and are dejected under the Rod, notwithstanding such soveraign Cordials are prepared for them in the Covenant; but this is not for want of Efficacy in the Covenant, but for want of Faith to clear their interest, and draw forth the vertue of it to their relief. Some are ig­norant of their priviledges, and o­thers disfident about their interest. It is with many of Gods Children, as it is with our Children in their infancy, they know not their Fa­ther, nor the Inheritance they are bo [...]n unto.

[Page 83]That which remains, is the im­provement of this Truth to our actual comfort and relief in the day of trouble. And this I shall assist you in as God shall assist me, by way of,

  • 1. Information.
  • 2. Exhortation.
  • 3. Examination, and
  • 4. Consolation.

VSE I.

For information, in three Co­rolaries.

Corolary I.

By what hath been discoursed from this Text, it appears, That God go­verns the spiritual part of the World by Faith, and not by Sense. He will have them live upon his Covenant and Promises, and fetch their relief and comforts thence, under all their sor­rows and distresses in this Life.

[Page 84]God never intended temporal things for his Peoples Portion, therefore from them they must not expect their relief in times of trou­ble. He will have us read his love to us by things within us, not by things without us. He hath o­ther ways of expressing his love to his People, than by the smiles of his Providence upon them. How would earthly things be o­ver-valued and idolized, if beside their conveniency to our Bodies, they should be the marks and e­vidences of Gods love to our souls! A Christian is to value himself as the Merchant, or the Husbandman doth. The Merchant values him­self by his Bills and Goods abroad, not by the ready Cash that lies by him. And the Husbandman by his Deeds and Leases, and so many Acres of Corn he hath in the ground, and knows he hath a good Estate, though sometimes he be not able to command twenty shil­lings. Christian, thy Estate also lies in good Promises and new Co­venant-securities, whether thou [Page 85] hast more or less of earthly com­forts in thy hands.

Every Creature feeds according to its nature; the same Plant af­fords food to several sorts of Crea­tures: the Bee feeds upon the Flow­er, the Sheep upon the Branch, the Bird upon the Seed, and the Swine upon the Root. One cannot live upon what the other doth. So it is here: A Christian can feed up­on the Promises, and make a sweet meal upon the Covenant, which the carnal mind cannot relish. The life that I now live, I live by the faith of the son of God, Gal. 2.21. saith the Apo­ple.

This is that mysterious and ex­cellent life of Faith, and the Test of true Christianity, to relieve our selves by our hopes of things to come, against present Evils; to balance the sorrows and losses of this life, with the promises and ex­pectations of the next. Thus did the renowned Believers of the first Age; whenever they felt a faint pang or qualm upon their hearts, under their tryals and sorrows [Page 86] from the World, they would pre­sently run to their Cordial, the Promises, and a sip of Faith from that Bottle would refresh and in­vigorate their souls with new life and powers.2 Cor. 4.16, 17, 18. We faint not, whilst we look not at the things which are seen, for they are temporal; but at the things which are not seen, for they are eternal. And truly so must we also, when our hearts are faint within us in days of affliction, or our Spirits will fail, and we shall go away in a faint fit of despon­dency.

Corolary II.

Learn hence the soveraign efficacy of the word, and what a choice pri­viledge it is to have these lively Ora­cles of God in our hands, in a day of distress and trouble.

'Tis no ordinary Mercy to be born in a Land of Bibles and Mi­nisters; to have these choice Sup­ports and Reliefs at hand, in all [Page 87] our fainting hours.Psal. 119.50. This is my comfort in my affliction, for thy word hath quickened me. It was no small Mercy gained by the Reformati­on, that it put the Oracles of God into our hands. It opened a Shop of Cordials for the support of our [...]ouls. For this, among other great and excellent uses, the Scriptures were written,Rom. 15.4. That we, through pa­tience, and comfort of the Scriptures, might have hope. In other parts of the World it is a sealed Book; bless God it is not so to you. All Creature-comforts have a double defect, they are neither suitable nor durable; but the word is so. Compare the Arguments that have been urged from the Covenant, with such as these. It's in vain to trouble our selves about what we cannot help: we are not alone in trouble, others have their losses and afflictions as well as we. A­las, what dry and ineffectual com­forts are these! they penetrate not the heart, as pardon of sin, peace with God, and sanctification of troubles to our salvation do.

[Page 88]And no less is the Mercy of an able New Testament Ministry, to open, apply, and inculcate the consolations of the Scriptures to be esteemed. It is no common fa­vour to the afflicted soul, to have with, or near him, an INTER­PRETER, one among a thousand, Job. 33 23. to shew unto him his uprightness. O England, prize and improve these Mercies, and provoke not thy God to bereave thee of them.

I can find no such settlement made of the Gospel and Ministry upon any place or People, but that God may remove both, upon their abuse of them; and if he do, sad will the case of such a People be, especially when a day of distress and trouble shall be upon them. 'Tis sad to be in a storm at Sea, without a Compass or Pilot to di­rect and advise the distressed Pas­sengers. Much so is the case of the afflicted, when deprived of the Word and Ministry.

Let it therefore be your care to hide the Word in your hearts, and get the Teachings of the Spirit; [Page 89] that whatever changes of Provi­dence be upon the World, you may have the light and comfort of the Scriptures to direct and chear your souls. Sanctification is the writing of Gods Law in your hearts; and what is written there, is secure and safe. The Word within you, is more secure, sweet, and effectual, than the Word without you. Ierom saith of Nepotianus, that by long and as­siduous meditation of the Scrip­tures, his Breast was at last become the Library of Christ. O that the Breast of every Christian were so too.

Corolary III.

How sad and deplorably miserable is their condition, who have no title to, [...]or comfort from the Covenant of God, when a day of affliction and great [...]istress is upon them!

Unrelieved Miseries are the [...]ost intolerable Miseries. To be [Page 90] over-weighed with troubles o [...] Earth, and want support and com [...]fort from Heaven, is a dism [...] state indeed; yet this is the ca [...] of multitudes in the World. If [...] Believer be in trouble, his God bears his burden for him, yea, he bears up him and his burden too but he that hath no Covenant i [...]terest in God, must say as it is Jer. 10.19. This is my affliction, an [...] I alone must bear it.

There are but two ways the [...] can take for relief, either to di [...]vert their troubles by that whi [...] will inflame them, or rest their burthened Spirits upon that which will fail them. To run to the Tavern or Ale-house, instead of the Closet, is to quench the fire, by pouring on Oyl; and to run from one Creature which is smit­ten and withered, to another which yet continues with us, is to lean upon a broken Reed, which not only deceives us, but wounds and pierceth us. What a miserable plight was Saul in, and how dole­ful was his cry and complaint to [Page 91] [...]amuel, 1 Sam. 28.15. I am sore [...]istressed, for the Philistins make war [...]gainst me, and God is departed from [...]e, and answereth me no more. Heaven and Earth forsook him at once.

Reader, if this be thy case, I ad­vise thee to rest no longer in so miserable a condition. Thy very distress seems by an happy necessi­ [...]y to put thee upon God, and drive thee to him for refuge: And [...] seems to be the very aim and de­sign of God in blasting all thy earthly comforts, to necessitate thee to come to him, which thou wouldst never be perswaded to do, whilst thou hadst any Creature-prop to stay and rest upon. And think not that thou shalt be re­jected, because thou art brought by a plain necessity to him; come sincerely, and thou shalt not be upbraided, because a necessity threw thee upon him.

VSE II.

Seeing then that the Covena [...] of God is the great relief and su [...]port of all the afflicted people, I [...] the afflicted soul go to this blesse [...] Covenant; study and apply it i [...] all distresses. It is in it self a s [...] veraign Cordial, able to revive [...] gracious Spirit at the lowest ebb [...] but then it must be studied an [...] applied, or it will never give fort [...] its consolations to our refreshment [...] Extream sorrows are apt to deafen [...] our Ears to all voices of comfort [...] The loud cries of Affliction too often drown the sweet still voice of spiritual Consolation; but ei­ther here or no-where our redress is to be found. Why seek we the living among the dead? comfort from things that cannot yield it? The Covenant can discover two things which are able to pacifie the most discomposed heart, viz.

  • [Page 93]1. The good of Affliction.
  • 2. The end of Affliction.

1. It will discover to us the good of Affliction, and so rectifie our mistaken judgments about it. God is not undoing, but consult­ing our interest and happiness in all these dispensations. It will sa­tisfie us, that in all these things he doth no more than what we our selves allow and approve in other cases. It is not meerly from his pleasure, but for our profit, that these breaches are made upon our Families, and Comforts, Heb. 12.10. Who blames the Marriner for casting the Goods over board to save Ship and life in a storm? or the Chirurgeon for lancing, yea, or cutting off a Leg or Arm to pre­serve the life of his Patient? or Souldiers for burning or beating down the Suburbs, to save the Ci­ty in a siege? And why must God only be censured, for cutting off those things from us which he [Page 94] knows will hazard us in the [...] of temptation? he sees the less [...] have of entanglement, the m [...] promptness and fitness we [...] have to go through the tryals [...] are coming upon us; and that the comforts he cuts off from [...] Bodies, goes to the profit and [...] vantage of our Souls.

2. Here you gain a sight [...] only of the good of Affliction, [...] also of the comfortable end [...] issue of Affliction. This clou [...] and stormy morning will wind [...] in a serene and pleasant evenin [...] There's a vast difference betw [...] our meeting with Afflictions, [...] our parting from them.Jam. 5.11. You ha [...] heard of the patience of Iob, and [...] seen the end of the Lord. O get [...] Iob's Spirit under Affliction, an [...] you may see as happy an end [...] them as he did.

Had Naomy seen the end of [...] Lord in taking away her Husband and starving her out of Moab, [...] would not have changed her name or said the Lord had dealt bitter with her, in grafting her Daughte [...] [Page 95] by that Providence into the Noble Line, out of which the Saviour of the World was to rise; and could you but see that good in order to which all this train of troubles is [...]aid, you would not murmur or [...]espond as you do.

Object. 1. O but this is a grie­vous Stroke; God hath smitten [...]e in the apple of mine Eye, and written bitter things against me. No sorrow is like my sorrow; 'tis a mourning for an onely Son; I have lost all in one.

Sol. 1. You can never lose all in one, except that one be Christ; and he being yours in Covenant, can never be lost. But your meaning is, you have lost all of that kind in one: no more Sons to build up your House, and conti­nue your Name.

2. But yet Religion will not al­low you to say, that your dead Children are a lost Generation. Praemittuntur, non amittuntur: They are sent before, but not lost. For they are a Covenant-seed, by you dedicated to the Lord: They [Page 96] were Children of many Prayers a great stock of Prayers was lai [...] up for them; in them also yo [...] and all that knew them, discerne [...] a teachable Spirit, pious inclina [...]tions, and Conscience of secret du [...]ties, some good things toward the Lord God of Israel, as was sai [...] of young Abijah, 1 King. 14.1 [...] So that you parted from them u [...] on far easier terms than good D [...]vid parted from his Amnon, Abs [...]lom, or Adonijah, who died in the [...] sins and open rebellions. Ther [...] was a sting in his troubles whic [...] you feel not; and if he comforte himself notwithstanding in th [...] Covenant of his God, in this r [...]spect may you much more.

Object. 2. O but my Son w [...] cut off in the very Bud, just wh [...] the Fruits of Education were re [...]dy to disclose and open.

Sol. Let not that consideratio [...] so incense your sorrows: Go [...] knows the fittest time both to giv [...] and to take our comforts; an [...] seeing you have good grounds [...] hope your Child died interest [...] [Page 97] in the Covenant of God, you have the less reason to insist upon that afflicting circumstance of an immature death. He that dies in Christ, hath lived long enough both for himself and us. That Marriner hath sailed long enough, that hath gained his Port: and that Souldier fought long enough, that hath won the Victory: and that Child lived long enough, that hath won Heaven, how early so­ever he died.

Beside, the sooner he died, the less sin he hath committed, and the less misery he saw and felt in this wretched World, which we are left to behold and feel. And it is but a vanity to imagine that the parting pull with him would have been easier, if the enjoyment of him had been longer: for the long enjoyment of desirable Com­forts, doth not use to weaken, but abundantly to strengthen and fa­sten the tyes of affection.

Submit your Reason therefore, as is meet, to the Wisdom of God, who certainly chose the fittest sea­son for this Affliction.

[Page 98]O but, — No more Buts and Objections, I beseech you. Enough hath been offer'd from the Covenant of your God, to si­lence all your Objections, and to give you the ease and pleasure of a resigned Will. And what are all our Buts and Objections, but a spurning at Divine Soveraignty, and the thrusting in the Affliction deeper into your own hearts, which are wounded but too deep already?

I perswade you not to put off, but to regulate natural Affections: To be without them, would deser­vedly rank us among the worst of Heathens; but rightly to bound and manage them, would set you among the best of Christians.

I cannot imagine what ease or advantage holy Basil gained by such a par­ticular and heart pier­cing account,Filius mihi erat Ado­lescens, solus vitae succes­sor, solatium senectae, glo­ria generis, flos aequalium, sulcrum domus, aetatem gratiosissiman agebat, &c. as he gave of a like Afflicti­on with this; nor to what purpose it can be to you, to recal and recount those things [Page 99] which only incense and aggravate your troubles: Doubtless your bet­ter way were to turn your thoughts from such subjects as these, to your God in Covenant, as David in the Text did, and to recount the many great and inestimable mercies that are secured to you therein; which death shall never smite, or cut off from you, as it doth your other enjoyments.

Quest. But yet unless we can in some measure clear our Covenant-interest, all these excellent Cor­dials prepared, will signifie no more to our relief, than water spilt upon the ground: help us therefore to do that, or else all that hath been said is in vain? How may a person discern his Covenant-right and interest?

Answ. This indeed is worthy of all consideration, and deserves a serious answer, forasmuch as it is fundamental to your comfort, and all actual refreshment in times of trouble; and will bring us to the next Use, which is for tryal of our Covenant-interest.

VSE III.

The great Question to be deci­ded, is, Whether God be our Co­venant-God, and we his People? A Question of the most solemn nature, and such as requires awful attention.

We cannot expect satisfaction in this matter by such an extraor­dinary way as David had it, but we may know it by,

  • First, Our Covenant-Engage­ments.
  • Secondly, Our Covenant-Impres­sions.
  • Thirdly, Our Covenant-Conver­sations.

First, By our Covenant-En­gagements, or Dedications of our selves to God; sometimes called our joyning our selves to the Lord, Zech. 2.11. our yielding our selves to him, Rom. 6.19. our giving our selves to him, 2 Cor. 8.5. The [Page 101] soul that freely and deliberately consents to take or chuse the Lord to be his God, may warrantably conclude the Lord hath taken or chosen him: for our choice of God is but the result of his choice of us. Joh. 15.16. You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you; (i. e.) you could never have cho­sen me, but in consequence to, and by vertue of my first choice of you.

Well then, let it be seriously considered, whether you have due­ly consented to take the Lord for your God, and Christ for your Redeemer. This includes two things in it.

  • 1. Your relinquishing of all things inconsistent with him.
  • 2. Your acceptation of all that promotes the glory and en­joyment of him.

1. Your relinquishing of all things that are inconsistent with an interest in him. Except we let these go, God cannot be our God, [Page 102] nor Christ our Redeemer. The things to be relinquished for Christ are in short, both our sinful and our righteous self. Sinful-self must be disclaimed and renounced: for we cannot be the Servants of sin, and the Servants of Christ too, Rom. 6.14.18. and righteous self must be renounced also, or we can have no part or interest in his Righteousness, Rom. 10.3. These are two difficult points of self-de­nial to part with every beloved Lust, and to give up our own Righteousness. Thousands chufe rather to be damned for ever, than to do either of these.

2. Your acceptance and em­bracing of all things that promote his glory, and further the enjoy­ment of him. As all the painful ways of duty, hearing, praying, meditating, and all this with the intention of the inner man, and offering up of the soul to God in these duties, and the more painful ways of suffering for God, and enduring all losses, reproaches, torments, and death for him, if [Page 103] his glory require it, and you be thereunto called. All this is inclu­ded in your chusing God to be your God. And upon our under­standing, and free consent, and sealing to these Articles, we have right to call him our God. Mat. 16.24. If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. Now have you considered the terms of the Covenant, weighed and balanced all the conveniencies and inconve­niencies of Godliness, and then determined for Christ and Holi­ness, let the cost be what it will; then you have chosen him aright for your God. Many think they have chosen God for their God, that never understood or delibera­ted these terms. But Non consentit, qui non sentit: He that neither knows nor ponders them, is not capable of giving a due consent.

Secondly, We may discern our Covenant-Interest, in the Cove­nant-Impressions that are made upon our souls. All Gods Cove­nant People have a double mark [Page 104] or impression made upon them, viz.

  • 1. Upon their Minds.
  • 2. Upon their Hearts.

1. Upon their Minds, in a more spiritual and efficacious knowledge of God: Jer. 31.33. They shall all know me, from the greatest of them, even to the least of them. This knowledge is said to be given, not acquired by the meer strength of natural Abilities and humane Aids; and given us in the face of Christ, not by the foot-steps of the Crea­tures only, as he speaks, 2 Cor. 4.6. 'tis the choice teaching of the anointing, 1 Ioh. 2.27. a know­ledge springing from inward expe­rience, and spiritual sense; as we know the sweetness of Honey by tasting, better than by all the de­scriptions and reports that can be made of it.

2. Upon their Hearts, in that gracious tenderness and meltings of it for sin, or the discoveries of Free Grace in the pardon of it. [Page 105] So you read in Ezek. 36.26. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

It is as easie to melt the obdu­rate Rocks into sweet Syrup, as it is to melt the natural heart into a penitential and tender melting for sin; but now there is a principle or habit of tenderness implanted in the soul, whereby it is disposed and inclined to relent and thaw ingenuously upon any just occa­sion.

Thirdly, Our Covenant-Interest may be evidenced in and by our Covenant-Conversations. All the knowledge which is communica­ted to our Minds, and all the ten­derness given to our Hearts, do respect and tend to this: Ezek. 36.27. I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes. Habits and Principles are for acti­on and practice: Grace in the heart is for Obedience and Holi­ness in the life.

[Page 106]It is true, that as our Graces are imperfect, so is our Obedience al­so. Perfect working is not to be expected from imperfect Crea­tures. God's own Covenanted People do often grieve him, and provoke him to bring them under the Rod of Affliction; but those their Infirmities break not the Bond of the Covenant, Psal. 89.30, 31, 32. Care and Watchful­ness ordinarily goes before them, Conflicts and Resistance accompa­nies them, and Shame, Grief, and renewed Care usually follows them. 2 Cor. 7.11. By these things (which deserve a more copious discourse than my present design can allow) we may be helped to clear our interest in the Covenant of Grace: and that being done, it should be out of the power of all the Afflictions in the World to sink your Spirits. Let me there­fore in the last place add,

VSE IV.

A word of Consolation to your dejected and drooping hearts, upon this sad and mournful occasion. Why are you so troubled? and why do Thoughts arise in your Hearts? Methinks there hath been so much of Support and Comfort already discovered to you in this blessed Covenant, that could your Faith but once fix upon it, and realize and apply it, I might lay down my Pen at this period, and say the Work is done, there needs no more; but knowing how obstinate deep sorrows are, and how diffi­cult a Task the comforting of an afflicted mind is, I will for a close, superadd a few Considerations more, to all that hath been urged and argued before.

Consideration I.

I Consider how small and trivial the Comforts, whose loss you be­wail, are in comparison with Je­sus Christ, who is still your own, under the Bond of a sure Cove­nant. A Son, an only and a pro­mising Son, is a great thing, when he stands in comparison with o­ther Creature-comforts; but sure­ly he will seem a small thing, and next to nothing, when set by, or compared with Jesus Christ. Be­hold, the Father, Son, and Spirit! Pardon and eternal salvation are this day presented in the Covenant of Grace before your souls, as your own. God, even our own God shall bless us, Psal. 67.6. When you feel your hearts wounded with such a thought as this, I cannot embrace my Children in my arms, they are now out of my reach; then bless and admire God, that the arms of your Faith can embrace so great, so glorious [Page 109] a Saviour, and that you can say, My beloved is mine, and I am his.

Consideration II.

Consider what evil days are coming on,II and what a mercy it is to your dead, that God hath taken them away from the evil to come, Isai. 57.1, 2. There are two sorts of Evils to come, viz. Evils of Sin, and Evils of Suffering; and 'tis no small favour to be set out of the way of both. The Grave is the hiding-place where God secures some from the dangers of both.

We are apt to promise our selves times of Tranquility, and then it cuts us to think that our dear Ones shall not partake with us in that Felicity: but if we wisely consider the sins or the signes of the times, we have more cause to rejoyce that God hath set them out of harms way.

[Page 110]All things seem to conspire and work towards a day of great Temptation and Tribulation. Now as Christ told his Disciples, who were so dejected because he was to leave them, Ioh. 14.28. If ye loved me, ye would rejoyce, because I said, I go to the Father: so truly you would much better express and manifest your love to your Children, in your satisfaction in the will and appointment of God, in taking them into rest and safe­ty, than in your dejections and sorrows for their removal. Surely they are better where they are, than where they were, whom God hath housed in Heaven out of the storm and tempest. And could your dead Friends that are with Christ, have any more inter­course with this World, and see your tears, and hear your sighs for them, they would say to you, as Christ did to those that follow'd him wailing and mourning, Weep not for us, but for your selves, and such as remain in the World with you, to see and feel the calamities that are coming on it.

Consideration III.

Consider how near you are to that blessed State your selves,III. where God shall be all in all, and you shall feel no want of any Creature-comfort, 1 Cor. 15.28.

Creature-comforts are only ac­commodated comforts to this ani­mal life we now live, but shortly there will be no need of them; for God will be all in all: that is, all the Saints shall be abundantly satisfied in and with God alone. As there is water enough in one Sea to fill all the Rivers, Lakes, and Springs in the World; and Light enough in one Sun to enlighten all the In­habitants of the World: so there is enough in one God eternally to fill and satisfie all the blessed Souls in Heaven, without the addition of any Creature-comfort. God is compleat satisfaction to all the Saints, in the absence (I cannot say want) of Wives and Children, Meats and drinks, Estates and sen­sitive Pleasures: There will be no [Page 112] more need of these things, than of Candles at Noon-day. You shall be as the Angels of God, who have no concernment for Relations.

Your fulness of years, infirmities of Body, and I hope I may add your improvements in Grace, speak you not far short of this bles­sed State: and though you may seem to need these comforts in the way, your God shall supply all your wants.

Consideration IV.

IV.To conclude, whatsoever your troubles, wants, fears, or dangers are, or may be in your passage to this blessed State, the Covenant of Grace is your security, and by ver­tue thereof your troubles shall open and divide, as Iordan did, to give you a safe passage into your eternal Rest.

Look as when the Israelites came near the Land of Promise, there was a swelling Iordan betwixt it and them, which seemed to forbid their farther passage and progress; but [Page 113] it's said, Iosh. 3.17. The Priests that bore the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, stood firm on the ground in the midst of Iordan; and all the Israel­ites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Iordan. Just so it is here: The Covenant of Grace stands on firm ground in the midst of all the deep Waters of Tribulation you are to pass through, to secure unto you a safe passage through them all. Re­joyce therefore, and triumph in the fulness and firmness of this blessed Covenant, and whatsoever Affliction your God shall please to lay upon you, or whatsoever Comfort he shall please to remove from you, still comfort and en­courage your selves, as David here doth, Yet hath he made with me an everlasting Covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire; although he make it not to grow.

FINIS.
A SERMON Preached fo …

A SERMON Preached for the Funeral OF THAT Excellent and Religious GENTLEMAN IOHN VPTON OF LUPTON, Esq

LONDON: Printed for I. Harris, at the Harrow against the Church in the Poultrey. 1688.

TEXT.

2 Chron. 35.24, 25.

His ser­vants therefore took him out of that chariot, and put him in the second chariot that he had; and they brought him to Ieru­salem, and he died, and was buried in one of the sepulchres of his fathers: and all Iudah and Ierusalem mourned for Io­siah. Ver. 25. And Ieremiah lamented for Iosiah, and all the singing men, and the singing-wo­men spake of Iosiah in their la­mentations to this day, and made them an ordinance in Is­rael: and behold they are writ­ten in the Lamentations.

IN this Context we have the History of the Pious Life, and Tragical Death of good King Iosiah. [Page 118] The History of his Life gives u [...] an account of both what he was, and what he did. As to his Per­sonal Endowments and Qualifi­cations, they were singular and eximious, as appears by the four­fold Character by which he is de­scribed in the Context: for,

  • First, He espoused the interest of Religion betimes, even in his Youth; cap. 34. ver. 3. For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father: And that under the great disadvantage of an ill Education, such a Morning promised a glorious Day.
  • Secondly, He hated all corruptive mixtures in the Worship of God, and was answerably zealous for Reformation; ibid. And in the twelfth year he began to purge Iuda [...] and Ierusalem from the high places, and the groves, &c. as knowing well he and his people might expect no more of Gods blessing on the Or­dinances, than there was of his presence in them; and no more of his presence can rationally be [Page 119] expected, than there is of his own Order and Institution.
  • Thirdly, He was of a very ten­der impressive heart, mourning for publick sins and dangers; ver. 26, 27. Because thy heart was tender, and thou didst humble thy self before God, when thou heardest his words a­gainst this place, and against the in­habitants thereof; and humbledst thy self before me, and didst rend thy cloaths, and weep before me, &c. He was not so intent upon his own pleasures (though in the sprightly vigour of Youth) nor on the weighty concerns of the King­dom, as to forget the interest of God, and the greater concerns of his Glory.
  • Fourthly, He was exceeding care­ful to propagate the interest of Religion, and spread it far and wide among his People. Though he could not infuse the inward Principle, (that was the work of God) yet he did enjoyn the ex­ternal practice of it upon all his Subjects, which was his part and duty; ver. 33. He made all that [Page 120] were present in Israel to serve, even to serve the Lord their God. And all his days they departed not from follow­ing the God of their Fathers.

But yet good Iosiah had his mistakes and failings. The best of men are but men at best▪ He was too rash and hasty in re­solving, and too stiff and obstinate when resolved; and this was the occasion of his ruine. The case was thus:

Pharoah Necho King of Egypt, was at that time making War up­on Charchemish, a place that be­longed to him, but was taken from him by the King of Assyria, so the War of Necho was a just War; and Iudah lying between him and Charchemish, and being at peace with Iudah, he requests leave of Iosiah to march his Army peace­ably through his Country to the seat of the War: Iosiah takes an Alarm from this Message, and arms against him. Hereupon Ne­cho send Embassadours to Iosiah, chap. 35. ver. 21. saying, What have I to do with thee, thou king of Iu­dah? [Page 121] I come not against thee this day, but against the house wherewith I have war: for God commanded me to make hast: forbear thee from med­ling with God, who is with me, that he destroy thee not.

Expositors conceive Necho had this discovery of the mind of God, from the Prophet Ieremiah, Ierom à lapide. Iustin Martyr. Per o­raculum non scriptum, sed viva voce editum: even by word of mouth. If so, no doubt Ieremiah also disswaded Iosiah from going out against him: However, this is clear, Iosiah did not consult the mind of God about that expedi­tion, as he ought, and was too hasty and resolute therein; ver. 22. Nevertheless Iosiah would not turn his face from him, &c. By this means this excellent man came to a tragical end, and that in the very flower of his days. He dies in that unhappy Expedition, from which he would not be di­verted; is brought home to Ieru­salem in the second Chariot; dies, and is buried in the Sepulchre of his Fathers, to the universal sorrow [Page 122] of all good men in Israel, as you read in the Text; wherein we have these two parts to consider.

  • I. The Nature and Quality of the Lamentation.
  • II. The Cause and Ground of it.

1. For the Lamentation here made, it was extraordinary; never such cries heard before in Israel at any Funeral, whether we consider it either,

  • 1. Extensively,
  • 2. Intensively, or
  • 3. Protensively.

1. Extensively, all Iudah and Ie­rusalem, that is, City and Country mourned that day; not every In­dividual, but all that had any sense of the worth of the man, the good that he did, or the evils that followed upon his removal. No doubt the Priests of Baal, their Abettors, and Associates, secretly rejoyced at his fall; but all good [Page 123] men mourned. But among all the Mourners, one only is specified by name, and that is Ieremiah the Prophet, in whom all the faithful Ministers of God were in­cluded. To them he was a true and faithful Friend; and in him they lost a Father, and a famous Instrument of Reformation.

2. Consider it Intensively, as to the degree of the sorrow, it was a bitter Lamentation: so pungent, intense, and deep▪ that the Mourn­ing of the Iews for Christ, at the time of their conversion to him, is compared to this Mourning for Iosiah. Zach. 12. ver. 11. In that day there shall be a great mourning in Ierusalem, [...]s the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megid­don. This Hadadrimmon was a little Town in the Valley of Me­giddon near the place of this fatal Battle, whose Inhabitants recei­ving the first tydings of the fall of Iosiah, made the Town ring with doleful Outcries and Lamenta­tions.

[Page 124]3. Lastly, Consider it Protensive­ly, in its continuance and durati­on, it was made an Ordinance in Is­rael; and accordingly the singing-men and singing-women spake of Io­siah in their lamentations to this day: i. e. Whenever any solemn Fune­ral or publick Calamity was solem­niz'd in Israel, those persons that were skilful in Lamentations, brought in the story of Iosiah's death, as the burthen of that dole­ful Song or Funeral-Elegy.

II. Let us consider the Cause and Ground of this Lamentation, which certainly was great and weighty enough to justifie that sorrow, as great and bitter as it was: for in him they lost a faith­ful, publick, useful, zealous, and tender-hearted Instrument, whose Life had been eminently useful to the Church of God, and whose Death opened the gap to all the following Calamities upon Iu­dah.

Now considering Iosiah, here especially in his religious capaci­ty, as so faithful, industrious, and [Page 125] useful an Instrument for the Church of God, rather than in his political capacity as a King, the Note from it will be this.

Doctrine.

That faithful, Doctr. active, and publick spirited men in the Church of God, should not be laid in their Graves, without great Lamentations.

When Iacob was buried, a man famous for Religion, a great and sore lamentation was made for him, Gen. 50. v. 10. And when Aaron died, all the House of Israel mourned for him 30 years, Num. 20. v. 29. When Stephen the Proto-Martyr died, devout men carried him to his Grave with great lamentations, Acts 8.2. and indeed for any good man to be laid in his Grave, with­out lamentation, is lamentable. The living Saints have ever paid this respect and honour to dead Saints, as men sensible of their worth, and how great a loss the [Page 126] World sustains by their removal.

I know the departed souls of Saints have no concernment in these things, yet respect is due to their very Bodies, as the Temples wherein God hath been served and honoured, as they are related to Christ who will one day put great glory and honour upon them.

In the Explication and Confir­mation of this point, I will shew you,

  • 1. Negatively, on what account the death of good men is not to be lamented.
  • 2. Positively, on what account Tears and Lamentations are due to them, with the grounds and reasons thereof.

1. Negatively, there is not a Tear or Sigh due to the death of any good man, upon the account of any real loss or detriment that he sustains thereby. No, no, in this case all Tears are restrained, all Sorrows prohibited, by the Principles and Rules of Christia­nity, [Page 127] 1 Thess. 4.13, 14. Religion differences the sorrows, as well as the joys, of its Professors, from the common joys and sorrows of the World. Dead Saints are better where they are, than where they were; to be with Christ is far better; Death to them is gain and infinite advantage, Phil. 1.21.23. This World is the worst place that ever God designed his People to live in: for if a state of perfect Holi­ness and Purity, be better than a state of Temptation and Corrup­tion; if a state of Rest and Peace, be better than a state of Labour and Sorrow; if it be better to be triumphing above, than sighing and groaning beneath: then it's better for departed Christians to be where they are, than where they were. And could they now communicate their minds to us by words, as they lately did, they would say to us as Christ said, Luke 23.28. Daughter of Ierusa­lem, weep not for us, but weep for [...] selves, and for your children. Or as he spake to his Disciples [Page 108] under their sad resentments of his departure, Ioh. 14.28. If ye loved me, ye would rejoyce, because I go to the Father. So then no tears or sorrows are due to them, or be­coming us, upon the account of any real loss or detriment they re­ceive by death.

2. Positively, But the true grounds and causes of our Lamentations, are upon divers other weighty accounts: as,

1 Reason. First, Because so much of the Spirit of God as dwelt in them when amongst us, is now recall'd and gather'd up from this lower World. Those precious Graces which they exercised among us, in Prayer, Conference, and other beneficial Duties, are now gone with them to Heaven.

The Church had the benefit of them during their abode with men, but now no more, except only what the remembrance of their holy Words and instructive Exam­ples (whereby they still speak to us, though dead) may afford unto us.

[Page 129]There are choice effusions of the Spirit at the time of our San­ctification, of which the Church reapeth the benefit whilst we live; but all these are recall'd at our dissolution, and thenceforth we can be no farther useful in this lower World: for as the Soul is the subject in which these preci­ous Graces inhere, so they accom­pany and go along with the Soul into glory.

Now as it is a real loss to a Company when any Merchant with­draws a great Stock, he had run­ning in Trade, out of the Bank; so certainly it is a great loss to the Church of God, when the preci­ous gifts and graces of the Spirit, dwelling in the Saints, are drawn out by Death; so as the Church can have no farther benefit by them, their Prayers for us, and with us, are now ended; Abra­ham knoweth us not, and Israel is ignorant of us.

Secondly, 2 Reason. The death of the Saints deserves a bitter lamenta­tion, [Page 130] because thereby a breach is made, a gap opened, to let in the Judgments of God upon the Rem­nant that is left. It is said of Moses, Psal. 106.23. Therefore he said, that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, lest he should destroy them. A Metaphor from a be­sieged City, when a breach is made in the Walls, and an Ene­my ready to enter; but some Champion stands in the breach to defend the City. Such a Cham­pion was Moses, who by his con­stant and fervent Prayers, put a stop to the inundation of God's Judgments against Israel. And such another was Lot, Gen. 19.22. whose Prayers for that wicked place he lived in, bound up the hand of Judgment insomuch as the Lord told him, I can do nothing till thou art gone. But when the Lord by death removes such men, he thereby makes a way to his anger, as the expression is, Psal. 78.50. Hence the death of eminent Saints, especially when [Page 131] many are taken away at or near the same time, hath been ever look'd upon as a direful Omen, and dread­ful Presage of ensuing Judgments, and that not without good Scripture-authority, Isai. 57.1. The righteous perish, and no man layeth it to heart; and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righ­teous is taken away from the evil to come.

Thus Methusalah, whose very Name signified a Flood cometh, died the year before the Flood. Au­gustin, a little before the sacking of Hyppo. Pareus, a little before the taking of Hydelberg. And Luther, before the Wars brake out in Ger­many. Death as a Pioneer, clears the way to a Troop of Miseries following after. This therefore is a just and weighty ground of our lamentations for the death of use­ful and goodly men.

Thirdly, 3 Reason. The beauty and orna­ments of the places they lived in, is defaced and removed by their death; they look not like them­selves, [Page 132] when the godly are remo­ved out of them: for as wicked men are the spots and blemishes, so good men are the beauty and ornaments of their Country. A good man was wont to say of Mr. Barrington of Barrington-Hall in Essex, Methinks the Town is not at home, when Mr. Barrington is out of Town. How desolate and dismal doth a Family look (whatever other Ornaments be a­bout it) when the Religious Go­vernour of it is gone! Take away good men from their Families, and Country, and what are they but like a Vineyard when the Vintage is past? as the Prophet speaks, Micha 7.1.

4 Reason. Fourthly, The death of good men deserves a bitter Lamentati­on, because thereby the passage of the Gospel, and propagation of Religion, is obstructed in the places from whence they are re­moved. Of how great use in a Country may one zealous publick-spirited man be? Hundreds may [Page 133] have cause to bless God for such a man. It was the Apostles desire to the Thessalonians, To pray that the word of the Lord may have its free course, that it might run and be glorified, 2 Thess. 3.1. The re­moval of such a person as natu­rally took care for the souls of those that were about him, to provide food for them, is no small loss, nor lightly to be passed o­ver.

Fifthly, 5 Reason. The consideration of the time in which good men die, aggravates the loss, and justly incen­ses the sorrow of them that remain, and that upon a threefold account. (1.) That it falls out in the de­clining state of Religion, when the Spirit and power of Godliness is so much weakned and impo­verished. This is like the loss of good Bloud in a consumptive Bo­dy, which must bring it very low. (2.) That it falls out also in a time when the numbers of the Godly are so much thinn'd and lessen'd, not when the Churches Children [Page 134] say in her Ears, The place is too straight, give place that we may dwell; but when they are every­where lamenting, the paucity and scarcity of good men, as the Psal­mist did, Psal. 12.1. Help, Lord, for the godly man ceaseth, for the righteous fail from among the children of men. At a time when they are bewailing themselves in the lan­guage of the Prophet, Micah 7.1. Wo is me, for I am as when they have gathered the summer-fruits, as the grape-gleanings of the vintage: there is no cluster to eat; my soul desired the first ripe fruit. Alluding to a hungry man that goes into a Vine­yard to refresh his spirits with the fruit thereof; but alas, there is not one pleasant bunch to be found, none but sower Grapes, to increase his Hunger, and set his Teeth on edge. (3.) And that which much more aggravates the loss, is this: when it falls in a time wherein the spring and succes­sion of good men is obstructed. In this case Death, like a storm of Wind, overturns the fairest, [Page 135] pleasantest, and most fruitful Trees in the Orchard, when there is no Nursery from whence others may be taken to plant in their rooms.

Lastly, 6 Reason. There is just cause to la­ment the removal of publick and pious men, when we consider what influence our sins and pro­vocations have had upon those Judgments and Calamities; our unworthiness of them, unthankful­ness for them, and non improve­ments of such mercies, have be­reaved us of them. I look upon every good man, as a good Book, lent by its Owner to another to read and transcribe the excellent Notions and golden Passages that are in it, for his own benefit, that they may remain with him, when the Owner shall call for the Book again: but in case this excellent Book be thrown into a corner, and no use made of it, it justly pro­vokes the Owner to take it away in displeasure.

Thus you see upon what ac­count our sorrows for the death [Page 136] of good men are restrained, and upon what accounts and reasons they are due debt to the death of eminent and useful Instruments for God. What remains, is the Appli­cation of this point. And,

1 Use. First, The Point before us justly reproves three sorts of men.

  • 1. The worst of men, such as secretly rejoyce, and are inwardly glad at the removal of such men; they took no delight in them while they lived, and are glad they are rid of them when they are dead. Those that persecuted and hated them when alive, may be presumed to be pleased and gratified with their death. But alas, poor Creatures, they know not what they do! The innocent preserve the Island. Except the Lord of hosts (saith the Prophet) had left us a small remnant, we had been as Sodom, we had been like un­to Gomorrah, Isai. 1.9. It's a Pro­verb among the very Jews, Sinè Supplicationibus non staret Mundus: The World stands by the Prayers [Page 137] of the godly. Let the World think what they will of them, I tell you these men are a Screen, a Partition-wall, betwixt them and destruction.
  • 2. It reproves the insensibleness of good men, who are apt too slightly to pass over such tremen­dous stroaks of God: for this it was that God reproved his own People, Isai. 57.1. No man layeth it to heart. Where the want of affection is charged upon the want of consideration, none considering their worth, their use, or the con­sequences of their fall. Such Re­bukes of God do certainly call for a deeper sence and sorrow, than is found in most men.
  • 3. It reproves the very best of men, who though they do bewail and lament the loss of such men, yet they do not lament it in the due manner. They lament it one to another, saying, Alas, alas, such a Worthy is fallen, such an emi­nent Instrument in the Church or State is dead; but they do not lament it in Prayer to the Lord, [Page 138] they mourn not over the matter to him, as David did, Psal. 12.1. Cry­ing, Help, Lord, for the godly man ceaseth. Help, Lord, the remnant that is left; help, Lord, to repair the breach made by their death; let the God of the Spirits of all flesh raise up a Man to fill the room and supply the want. Alas, how insignificant are the Lamen­tations of most men upon this ac­count!

2 Use. Secondly, This point invites us all this day to bewail the stroak of God that is upon us. I could wish that he that looks upon this Text, and then upon the counte­nance of this Assembly, might be able to discern the agreeableness of the one to the other, in such a sad and solemn occasion.

O let all that love Sion, lament this day the fall of one of her true Friends and Lovers. I know Fu­neral Panegyricks are apt to be su­spected of flattery; but as I want a Rhetorical Tongue for such a work, so if I had it, it should ne­ver [Page 139] be saleable for so base a use and purpose. I am sure by send­ing the generality that die to Hea­ven, many are confirmed in the way to Hell. Nor can I but think of that serious Line in Chry­sostom, What a poor comfort is it, to be praised where a man is not, and to be tormented where he is. But yet the righteous shall be had in everla­sting remembrance, Psal. 112.6. Expect nothing from me on this occasion, but what may be spoken with greatest assurance of truth, and that intended for the benefit and imitation of all that hear it. Some may think it a strain too high, to compare a private per­son with such a glorious King as Iosiah was; but if Christ compa­red and preferr'd the very Grass of the Field, to Solomon in all his glory, I know no reason why we may not compare and parallel the precious Graces of a private per­son with a royal Saint, especially since the comparison is only made in the religious, not in the civil ca­pacity.

[Page 140]I am sure the Graces and gra­cious Performances of David, He­zekiah, and Iosiah, with all the o­ther dignified Saints, were inten­ded and propounded as Patterns for our imitation; and no doubt but private Christians may mea­sure by their Pattern. Beside, it is abundantly more safe to relate the Vertues of the Saints when they are dead, than whilst they were alive: for now there is no danger of provoking pride and vain-glory in them that are prai­sed, but much hope of provoking an holy emulation and imitation in them that hear them.

Well then, Absit invidia verbis: Suffer me this day to erect a Pil­lar to perpetuate the Memory of this deceased Worthy, to pay the tribute of my Tears due to that mournful Hearse, and to engage you to imitate those Excellencies of his, which I shall with equal truth and modesty display this day, that we also may be duly affected with the Rebuke of God upon us, and mourn over it be­fore him.

[Page 141]If when an eminent Commander in any Army falls, the whole Ar­my is affected and concerned with his death;

The mourning Drum, the Lance and Ensignes trail'd;
The Robes of Honour all in Sables vail'd.

Let it not be thought much, Chri­stians should express their sense and sorrow in sighs and tears, for so useful and worthy a man as God hath this day removed from among us, whose Character I shall give you in the following immi­table particulars.

1. That worthy man whose fall we lament this day, was sea­soned with Religion in his Youth, by God's blessing upon his pious Education; in this he had the advantage of Iosiah. His Proge­nitors were men of Piety, and himself a Child of many Prayers: and, as Monica said of her Son Au­stin, it was not likely that a Child of so many Prayers should perish. [Page 142] How importunately did they re­quest the fervent Prayers of their pious Friends for him, in the time of his Education? nor was it in vain, for they were manifestly an­swered in him. He soon disco­vered that Probity and Piety in his Youth, which justly raised great expectations from him in his riper years.

2. Nor did he frustrate those hopes; for as soon as ever God had fixed him in a proper Sphere of Activity, (I mean, a Family of his own) those Graces that were in him shone forth, to the com­fort and benefit of all that were about him. Ioshua's pious resolu­tion was his; As for me, I and my house will serve the Lord.

He kept up the Worship of God in his Closet, as well as in his Family. And truly if Reli­gion languish in the Closet, it will quickly die in the Family. His House was a Temple consecrated to God; there the Morning and E­vening-Sacrifices of Prayers and Praises were offered up. He cal­led [Page 143] his Children and Servants to those Duties, not reckoning that time lost to him, which was spent for God. The Lord had endow­ed him with an excellent Spirit of Prayer himself: I have some­times accidentally heard him pray­ing in his Family, with such soli­dity of Judgment, pertinency of Expression, and holy warmth of Affection, that hath at once edi­fied, refreshed, and reproved me in hearing him.

He constantly read the Scrip­tures in course before Prayer, and oft-times with a Commentary upon them, for his own and his Fami­lies Edification.

The Lords day he sanctified not only in more publick attendance on the Ordinances, but in the Duties of Reading, Repeating, Singing, and Catechising all his Children and Servants about him. And all this before he allowed him­self or them any bodily Refresh­ments, lest the edge of their Af­fections should be blunted in Du­ty, by the clogging of Nature with [Page 144] Creature-repasts. And thus did he, as Iob, continually: to this course he was severe and constant, no incident occasions, how great or many soever, could divert him from it.

3. Neither was his holy Zeal and Christian care limited and circumscribed within his own Fa­mily, but was extended to the Souls of all in his Neighbourhood, who desired helps and means in the way of salvation.

His House was seldom without a godly Minister in it, and loath he was to eat his pleasant Morsel [...] alone. It was the joy of his hear [...] to see his house fill'd on this ac­count: How many Witnesses to the truth of this are here this day Like another Ioseph, he provide [...] food for your souls; he loved, ho­noured, received, and incourage [...] the Ministers of the Gospel in thei [...] deepest sufferings; gave them op [...]portunities of service, when som [...] durst not own them, and othe [...] violently persecuted them.

[Page 145]4. When God called him to publick Employments in the Com­monwealth, he neither purchased nor abused that Trust; but with a true English, rather a Christian zeal and courage, he dedicated himself to the service of God and his Country. Chearfully quitting all domestick concerns, spent his Estate, time, and pains, to heal the breaches of England. I know not a man whose zeal for the common good, would have carri­ed him nearer to the Example of that noble Roman, who when a Chasm was made by an Earth­quake, and the Oracle had decla­red, that it could never be closed, except something of value was thrown into it, cast in himself to close it.

I could truly have said, had there been conveniency and op­portunity for it, when he was laid in his Grave, Here lies a man that never betrayed nor deserted the Pub­lick, for any private interest of his own.

[Page 146]5. He was a man that came as near Iosiah in tenderness of heart, as ever I had the happiness to be acquainted with. The Churches troubles were his troubles, they all met in him as lines in a centre; he even lived and died with the interest of Religion: and of him I will say, as the Apostle said of Timothy, 2 Phil. 20.21. I have no man like minded who will naturally care for your state, for all seek their own, not the things which are Iesus Christ's. Naturally, in this place, is not opposed to Spiritually, but to Artificially. Many can artifi­cially act the part of a Zealot, when their own interest lies in it; but he naturally, and therefore freely, cheerfully, and constantly.

6. But though these Excellen­cies were in him, he had his Naevi, blemishes, and imperfections. E­lias was a man of like passions and weaknesses of Spirit. All these I doubt not but God hath covered, and he is now perfectly freed from them all.

[Page 147]There is now no passion left within him to be stirred by tem­ptation, no despondencies and sinkings of Spirit under dismal as­pects of Providence. His Graces are perfected, and his Corrupti­ons finally eradicated.

7. To conclude, he was a man of great Afflictions, as well as ten­der Affections. And as the Lord greatly honoured him in the course of active obedience, so he greatly proved and tryed him in a course of passive obedience. He not only gave the Cross in his Coat, but bear it upon his Shoulders: for besides those troubles which were proper­ly sympathetical, he had his Idio­pathetical sufferings also, and that both from the hands of men, and from the hand of God. His Pie­ty made and marked him for an Object of Persecution; the Ar­chers shot at him, and sorely grie­ved him; he and his Family were hunted with a Net; the Lord lay it not to their charge: Et hinc illae lachrymae. The sad effects thereof, I chose rather at this time [Page 148] to pass over with a sigh, than in this place to commemorate.

And as the hand of man was upon him, so the hand of his God also. First, lopping off all the pleasant Branches that sprang from him, and that one after another; when come to the endearing age, opening and disclosing the Bud: And as the Complement and Issue of all, breaking his constitutional strength with a long languishing Disease, which at last extinguish­ed this bright Lamp, and hath left his Family and Neighbour­hood in darkness and sorrow. His poor Heart was the Anvil on which many Hammers of Afflicti­on had been a long time beating; and no wonder it appeared re­laxed and tumified, when it was inspected, having endured so ma­ny successive stroaks of sorrow.

And now what the Lord spake of Israel in Ier. 11.16. is fulfilled upon this worthy person, The Lord called thy name a green Olive-tree, fair and of goodly fruit, with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled a [Page 149] fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken.

Thirdly, 3 Use. I shall wind up the whole in several seasonable and necessary Counsels: Some more general, others more particular, and some most particularly and e­specially.

First, Counsel to all in general, to awaken themselves, and reco­ver a due sense of such sore Re­bukes of God as this is. When Saul fell, David lamented it, saying, The beauty of Israel was slain on thy high places.

God hath this day stript off an Ornament from this Country. Such Dispensations of Providence speak indignation coming on. It requires almost an Age to breed and furnish a man with due qua­lifications for the service of the Church and Common-wealth. England doth not so abound with pious, zealous, and faithful Gen­tlemen at this time, but that it may sensibly feel the loss of such a man.

[Page 150] Secondly, More particularly, let the Ministers of Christ lament his fall, as Ieremiah did the fall of Iosiah in the Text. He was a true Friend to Christ's faithful Ministers, and had them in ho­nour for their work sake. 'Tis true, he hath no more need of us, he is now wiser than his Teachers; but we greatly need him, and men of his Spirit, in such a dull degenerate Age as we live in.

Thirdly, And most particularly, I shall apply and close all with a few words of Counsel to the dear and now desolate Relict of this Worthy Person, whose sad lot it is this day to over-live the mer­cies and comforts she once enjoy­ed in him.

Madam, God hath this day co­vered you with Sables, written bit­ter things against you, broken you with breach upon breach. Your sorrows need not be excited, but regulated. 'Tis my trouble, that I cannot discharge my duty to the memory of your dear Hus­band, [Page 151] without exasperating your Griefs, which alas were too acute before; but Rods have their voices: Blessed is the man whom God cor­recteth and teacheth him out of his Law. Hear you the Rod, and who hath appointed it; and oh that your Soul may this day take in these necessary Counsels and Cautions, without which your Afflictions cannot be sanctified to the advantage of your Soul. And,

1. Learn from hence the vanity of the Creature, the emptiness and nothingness of the best things here below. How hath God made your best comforts on Earth to shrink up and vanish into no­thing? How do our fancies var­nish and guild over these empty Bubbles? What great expectati­ons are we apt to raise from them? How apt to fall asleep in the bo­soms or laps of earthly Enjoy­ments? and say with Iob, I shall die in my nest, and multiply my days as the sand. When loe, in a mo­ment the projects and expectati­ons [Page 152] of many years are over-turn­ed. Oh what a difference will you find betwixt hope founded in Christ, Comforts drawn out of the Promises, and the flattering Comforts and vain hopes founded in the Creature whose breath is in its Nostrils?

'Tis time for you and for us all to wean off from this vain World; mortifie our Fancies and Affections to it, and place them where they shall not be capable of disappointment.

2. Guard carefully, I beseech you, against those Temptations which probably may accompany this Affliction. It may be Satan will suggest to your heart, what he once put into their lips. Mal. 3.14. What profit is it that we have kept his ordinances, and walked mournfully before him? Where is the fruit of Prayer? What good have I seen of Fasting? What hath Religion availed? Do not prayerless and ungodly Families thrive and prosper? Beware of this. Madam, I doubt not but [Page 153] you will acknowledge there have been sins and provocations within your walls, yea within your heart, for which God may as justly and severely judge your house as he did Ely's. Remember the re­wards of Religion are not in this World; and should we speak thus, we shall offend against the generation of his Children. All we must expect from Religion, is to save our souls by it.

3. Call not the love of God in­to question to your self, or yours, because of these severe stroaks of God upon you and them: You know Iosiah was dear to God, yet he died in the prime of his days, by a violent hand, remote from his own home, and was brought home in the second Chariot to Ierusalem, a Spectacle of far greater sorrow, than your dear Husband was; and yet notwith­standing all these sad circumstan­ces of his death, the Promise of his God was punctually performed to him, that he should die in peace, and not behold the Evil that was [Page 154] to come. There is a vanity, saith Solomon, which is done upon the earth, that there be just men unto whom it happeneth according to the work of the wicked: again, there be wicked men to whom it happeneth according to the work of the righte­ous, Eccles. 8.14. But then re­member, that it is but in the Earth; here, or no-where, God must chastize his Children.

4. See that you maintain that holy course of Religious Exercises in your Family, and in your Closet, wherein he walked so exemplarily before you. Let Re­ligion live, though he be dead; and convince the World, I pray you, that it was Gods influence, and not your Husbands only, which was the Spring and Princi­ple of this holy Course.

5. Strive not with your Ma­ker, nor fret against the Lord, under this irksome and painful Dispensation. Remember there is a Woe hanging over this sin: Isai. 45.9, 10. Woe to him that striveth with his Maker. There is [Page 155] a twofold striving of men with God, one lawful and commenda­ble, when we strive with him up­on the knee of importunity in Prayer, thus Iacob wrestled with God and prevailed, Hos. 12.4. the other is highly sinful and dan­gerous, when we presume to cen­sure or accuse any of his works as defective in wisdom or good­ness. He that reproveth God, let him answer it, (i. e.) at his peril be it. This sinful striving with God is twofold, either Vocal or Mental.

1. Vocal, when men in bold blasphemous language, arraign the Wisdom, Power, Goodness, or Faithfulness of the Lord at the bar of their own Reason, and there condemn them, setting their mouths against the Heavens, Psal. 73.8, 9. this is the sin of the wicked, yea of the first-born sons of wickedness.

2. Mental, in inward frets, mur­murs, repinings against God; Prov. 19.3. The foolishness of man perverts his way, and his heart fret­teth [Page 156] against the Lord. The heart may cry out impatiently against God, when the tongue is silent: And if the frets and murmurs of the heart be (as indeed they are) interpretatively no better than a striving with our Maker, then this sin will be found more com­mon among good men in the Pa­roxisms of Affliction, than we ima­gine. It will be necessary there­fore, for your sake, and the sakes of many more in a like state of Affliction with you, to stay a while upon this head, and consi­der these following Queries.

  • Query 1. How far we may en­quire, expostulate, and com­plain in times of Affliction, without sin?
  • Query 2. Wherein lies the sin­fulness and danger of excee­ding these bounds?
  • Query 3. What Considerations are most proper and power­ful to restrain the afflicted soul from this sinful excess?

Query 1. How far we may enquire of God, expostulate with him, and complain to him in time of Affliction, without sin?

1. We may humbly enquire in­to the causes and reasons of Gods displeasure against us, not to seek matter for our Iustification, but Direction in the work of our Hu­miliation. So David enquired a­bout the three years Famine, and the Lord inform'd him for whose sake and for what sin it was, 2 Sam. 21.1. And thus Iob ad­dressed to him in the day of his Affliction, Iob 10.2. Shew me wherefore thou contendest with me; (i. e.) convince me what special sin it is for which I am thus affli­cted. This is so far from being our sin, that it is both our duty, and the excellency of our Spirits; 'tis a Child-like temper, willing [Page 158] to know, that we may be parti­cularly humbled for that sin, and for ever the more careful to shun it. That which I see not, teach thou me; if I have done iniquity, I will do no more, Job 34.32. Thus far we are safe.

2. We may plead by Prayer, and put him in mind of his Mer­cies, Relations, and Promises, in order to the change of his provi­dential Dispensations towards us: we may say to him under the smartest Rod, as the Church did, Doubtless thou art our Father, Psal. 74.20. Have respect to the Co­venant, or as Iacob, Gen. 32.9.12. Thou saidst, I will surely do thee good.

3. We may complain to God under our sufferings, and spread them before him in all their cir­cumstances and aggravations, as Iob, He [...]an, Asaph, Hezekiah, and David did. He allows his Chil­dren to complain to him, but not of him. I poured out my complaint before him, I shewed before him my trouble, Psal. 142.2. To whom [Page 159] should a Child make his com­plaint, but to his Father? So far we are safe.

4. We may submissively pray for the removal of his hand from us, and entreat that his anger may cease; that he will turn again and heal us and our Families, and not draw forth his anger for ever. So did David, Psal. 39.10. Remove thy stroke away from me, I am con­sumed by the blow of thine hand. Q. d. Ah, Lord, I am not able to endure another stroak. All this while we are safe, within the bounds of our Duty. But then,

Query 2. Wherein lies our sin and dan­ger, in exceeding these bounds? I answer,

Sol. When forgetting God's So­veraignty, and the desert of our Iniquities, we arrogantly censure his effecting, or permitting Pro­vidences, as if they had no con­ducency [Page 160] to his own glory, or our good. This is both sinful and dangerous: for,

1. This is a proud exalting of our own Reason and Understand­ing, above the infinite Wisdom of God. God hath made our Rea­son a Judge and Arbitor in mat­ters within its own Sphere and Pro­vince; but when it comes to sum­mon God to its Bar, and article against Heaven, it is an insuffera­ble arrogancy, and we do it at our own peril. God will have all men know that he is an unac­countable being, Iob 33.13. yea, he will have us to know, that the foolishness of God is wiser than men, 1 Cor. 1.25. that is, that those very works of God which mans proud Reason adventures to censure, as not so wise a method as their own would be, hath more wisdom in it, than all the deep-laid designes of the greatest Polititians in the World. And it is strange that men should dare to attempt such a wickedness as this, after God hath so severely pu­nished [Page 161] it in the fallen Angels.

2. It is no less than a spurning at the Soveraignty of God, from whose pleasure we derive our Beings and all our Mercies, Rev. 4.11. In these quarrellings of Providence, and frets at divine appointments, we invade his Throne, and controul his soveraign Pleasure. How monstrous were it to hear a Child quarrelling with his Father, that he is not so and so figured, or the Clay to chide the Potter for moulding it as it is?

3. 'Tis destructive to our own inward peace and tranquility of mind, which is part of the pu­nishment of this sin; and a smart stripe, a sore rebuke it is from the hand of God upon us.

Contention is uncomfortable, though but with a Neighbour, worse with a near Relation; but a quarrel with God is destructive to all comfort in the World. Af­flictions may disturb a good mans peace, but a mutinous Spirit against God, destroys and stabs it at the [Page 162] very heart. What is the sin and torment of the Devils, but their rage against the Lord, and swel­ling against the methods of his Grace? He seeketh rest, but findeth none, Mat. 12.33. The peace of our Spirits is a choice Mercy, and might be maintain'd amidst all our Afflictions, were but our interest in his Promises, and the true level of his Providences clear­ed to us.

4. 'Tis irrational, and highly unjust, to give the cause, and quarrel at the effects. God hath righteously and inseparably linked penal with moral evils; sin and sorrow by the Laws of Heaven are tackt and united together; he that doth evil, shall feel evil, Gen. 4.7. We adventure upon sin, and then fret at Affliction: Prov. 19.3. The foolishness of a man per­verts his way, and his heart fretteth against the Lord. Is this becoming a reasonable Creature? Doth not every man reap as he soweth? Can the seed of sin bring forth a crop of peace and comfort? [Page 163] Why doth the living man complain, a man for the punishment of his sins, Lam. 3.39. Search your hearts, and search your houses, and you will quickly find that all your Afflictions in this World, were they ten thousand times more and heavier than they are, do not come near to the desert of one sin. All sorrows, losses, afflictions on this side Hell are quite below the value of sin, the meritorious and provoking cause of them all.

5. 'Tis foolish and vain, to strive against God, and contest perversely with him. Can our discontents relieve us? or our murmurs ease us? Will they turn God out of his way? No, no; He is in one mind, and who can turn him aside? Job 23.13. The Wheels of Providence go straight forward, and turn not when they go, Ezek. 1.17. We may bring them over us to crush us, by standing thus in their way, but cannot turn them out of their way.

[Page 164]
Impatiens oegrotus, crudelem facit medicum.

If ye still walk contrary to me, [...] temerè am­bulabo. then will I walk contrary to you, and pu­nish you yet seven times for your sins, Lev. 26.13, 14. or I will walk in the rashness of mine anger, smiting you without moderation, as men do in the height of their rage and fury. This is all we shall get by fretting against God. Ne­ver expect relief under, or release from the Yoak God hath laid on your necks, till you be brought to accept the punishment of your iniquities, Lev. 26.41.

6. 'Tis a sin full of odious in­gratitude towards your God: Which appears (1) in murmur­ing because it is so bad, when we should be admiring that it is no worse. Are there not millions in Hell that never sinned at higher rates than you have done? Is this Affliction as bad as Hell? Hath God pardoned you, and sa­ved you, and yet doth he deserve [Page 165] to be thus requited by you! (2) In murmuring that our con­dition is so bad, when we may every day see others in a far worse case who are equal with us by nature, and were equal with them in guilt and provocation. If we speak of outward Afflicti­ons, certainly others would be glad to exchange conditions with us, and account themselves happy in our circumstances. Consider the description given of those per­sons, Iob 30.3, 4, 5. and how lit­tle they differ in the manner of life from bruit Beasts: and if we speak of inward troubles, com­pare your own with those of He­man, and Asaph, in Psal. 77. and Psal. 88. and if of both together, and that in an intense degree, con­sider Iob 6.4. and you will soon find your condition full of sparing Mercy: these excellent persons that were so much above you in Grace, were yet plunged so much deeper than you into Affliction. And is it not then vile ingrati­tude in you, thus to mutiny and [Page 166] charge your God foolishly? (3) But especially here lies our ingratitude, in quarrelling and censuring those Providences, whose very end and errand is our eternal good; Heb. 12.10. But be for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holi­ness.

7. 'Tis a sin that deprives us of the fruits and benefits of our Af­flictions: a tumultuous raging Spi­rit reaps no good by the Rod. The fruits of Affliction are called the peaceable fruits, Heb. 12.11. because they are always gathered and reaped down by the afflicted soul in a quiet and peaceful tem­per. Anima sedendo, & quiescendo fit sapiens: Blossoms and Flowers open not in the boysterous storms of Winter, but in the mild and gentle Spring.

Well then, be convinced of the sin and danger of a discontented Spirit under the hand of God, and instead of mourning over lost Re­lations, now mourn for the loss of Patience, the want of Submission, and for the pride and arrogancy [Page 167] of your own Reason, that presumes to correct the works of the Al­mighty, and say to God, as Ioseph did to his Father, when he wit­tingly crossed his hands in blessing Ephraim and Manassah, Not so, my Father? This is not fit.

Query 3.

But how may these Evils be prevented or cured, and the tem­pestuous soul calmed under the the Rod? How shall all strifes betwixt God and his People be ended, and the soul made quiet at his feet?

Reply, This blessed frame of Spirit may in a great degree and measure be attained in the use of the following Directions. I say, [...]n their use and application, not by the prescription or simple know­ledge of them. And,

Rule 1.

The first Rule or Direction, is this: Study well the glorious sove­raignty of God over you, and aw your hearts with the consideration of it. From his meer pleasure you and all that is yours proceeded, on his pleasure you depend, and into that good pleasure of his will your wills therefore ought to be resol­ved: Whatever the Lord pleased that he did, in heaven and in earth, in the sea and in all deep places, Psal. 135.6. Man and man stand on equal ground, and if our Reason be not satisfied about the equity of mens dealings with us, we may ask who did it, and demand the reasons why he did it; but when we have to do with God, we mus [...] not dispute his pleasure. Let the Potsherd strive with the Potsherd of the Earth, but let not the Clay dispute with the Potter. Now the Soveraignty of God is gloriously display'd in his Decrees, Laws [Page 169] and Providences. (1.) In his De­crees, appointing the Creatures to their ends, whether to be Vessels of Mercy, or of Wrath, Rom. 9.18, 19, 20. In this case there must be no disputing with God. (2.) In his Laws, appointing the work and duty of the Creature, as also the Rewards and Punishments; Jam. 4.12. There is one Law-giver, that is able to save and to destroy. In this case his Soveraignty imme­diately and indispensably binds the Conscience of man, and no hu­mane Authority can dissolve that Obligation: Nor must we snuff at the severest command. (3.) The glorious Soveraignty of God is display'd in his providential admi­nistrations, appointing every man to that station and condition he is in in this world; whether it be high or low, prosperous or afflict­ed. Psal. 75.6. I said to the fools, Deal not foolishly, &c. for promotion cometh not from the east, or the west; but God is Iudge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. Let not them that are at the top of the [Page 170] world, be lifted up; nor those that are at the bottom, be deject­ed: for God cast every mans lot, and changeth their condition at his pleasure; a word of his mouth plucks down the lofty, and exalts the lowly; he woundeth, and his hands make whole. Hence it becomes the afflicted to be still, and know that he is God, Psal. 46.10. to put his mouth in the dust, and quietly to wait for his salva­tion. All our fretting and strug­gling cannot shake off the Yoak which he hath put upon us, but a weak and quiet submission to his will, and compliance with his de­signs, is the best expedient to pro­cure our freedom. There is not one circumstance of trouble be­fals you, without his order; nor can you expect deliverance, but by order from him.

Rule 2.

Study the transcendant evil of sin, and what the demerit of the least sin that ever you committed is. This will becalm your tempestuous Spi­rits, and at once work them into Contentation with your present state, and Admiration that it is no worse, Lam. 3.22.39, 40.

Consider, thou querulous and discontented Soul, that the wages of sin is death, Rom. 6. ult. that tribulation, anguish, and wrath, are due by Law, to every soul of man that doth evil; that so often as we have sinned, so often have we deserved Hell: and shall we then charge God with severity, for scourging us with the Rods of gentle fatherly chastizements? Is this Hell? Dare you say the seve­rest affliction that ever was upon you, is above the demerit of your sin?

'Tis true indeed, the Lord tells Ierusalem, that she had received of [Page 172] his hands double for all her sins, Isai. 40.2. But that is not the language of strict Justice, but of Compas­sions rolled together. There is not a gracious soul in all the world, but will readily subscribe Ezra's Confession, that God hath afflicted it less than its iniquities deserve, Ezra 9.13. Oh if once we measure our afflictions by our sins, we shall admire they are so few, so mild and gentle, as they are.

Rule 3.

Consider what a difference there is betwixt the Saints meeting with afflictions, and their parting with them. You meet them with trem­bling and astonishment, but you shall part with them with praise and thanksgiving, blessing God for the manifold blessings they have instrumentally conveyed to your souls. It is good for me, saith David, that I have been af­flicted. By these things sin is pre­vented, [Page 173] discovered, and mortified, the ensnaring World imbittered, and the Rest to come sweetned.

Many other excellent Rules may be added; try these, and the blessing of the Spirit accompany them.

To conclude, be not swallowed up of sorrows for what you have lost, but balance all the troubles of this life, with the hopes of the next. Your dear Children are gone, your sweet Husband is gone; but consider who took them, and whither. It is said of Enoch, Gen. 5.24. He walked with God, and was not; for God took him. Mr. Upton is not, and yet he is: He is not with men, he is with God: He ceases not to be, though he cease to breathe: He is taken away, but God took him: He is better where he is, than where he was: Though he be not in your Bosom, he is in Christ's.

Imitate his Zeal, Plain-hearted­ness, diligence in Duties, and you shall shortly meet him again, and [Page 174] never part any more. For this we say by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive, and remain to the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them which are asleep. 1 Thess. 4.15, 16, 17, 18. For the Lord himself shall descend from hea­ven with a shout, and with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive, and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words. Did you but know the deep Emphasis of these words, ever with the Lord, I doubt not but you would find Comfort enough in them for your self, and a great overplus for the comforting of others.

FINIS.

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