TWO TREATISES: THE FIRST Of FEAR, FROM Isa. 8. v. 12, 13, and part of the 14.

THE SECOND, The Righteous Man's Refuge IN THE Evil Day.

From Isaiah, 26. verse 20.

By Iohn Flavell Minister of the Gospel.

LONDON, Printed by H. H. for Robert Boulter, at the Turks head in Cornhill. 1682.

A PRACTICAL TREATISE …

A PRACTICAL TREATISE OF FEAR.

Wherein the various Kinds, Vses, Causes, Effects, and Remedies thereof are distinctly opened and prescribed, for the Relief and Encouragement of all those that fear God in these Doubt­ful and Distracting Times.

By Iohn Flavell Minister of the Gospel.

‘Say unto them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, Fear not, behold your God will come with a vengeance, even God with a recom­pence, he will come and save you,’ Isa. 35. v. 4.

‘Intellige in te esse etiam fortitudinem spiritus, quo­modo & infirmitatem carnis, ac jam hinc scias quid unde facias, & quid cui subjicias, infir­mum scilicet forti.’ Tertul. Adv. Gentes.

LONDON, Printed by H. H. for Robert Boultera [...]t the Turks head in Cornhill. 1682.

To the Right Worshipful Sir IOHN HARTOP, Knight and Baronet.

Sir,

AMong all the Creatures God hath made (Devils only excepted) Man is the most apt and able to be his own tormentor; and of all the Scourges with which he lasheth and af­flicteth both his Mind and Body, none is found so cruel and intolerable as his own fears. The worse the times are like to be, the more need the mind hath of succour and encouragement, to confirm and forti­fie it for hard encounters, but from the worst prospect, Fear inflicts the deepest and most dangerous wounds upon the mind of man, cutting the very nerves of its passive fortitude and bearing ability.

[Page] The grief we su [...]er from Evil felt, would be light and easie, were it not in­censed by Fear; Reason would do much, and Religion more, to demulce and lenifie our sorrows, did not Fear betray the suc­cours of both. And it is from things to come that this prospecting Creature raiseth up to himself vast Hopes, and Fears; If he have a fair and encouraging Prospect of Serene and prosperous day, from the Scheme and Position of second causes, Hope immediately fills his heart with cheariness, and displaies the signals of it in his very face, answerable to that fair benign Aspect of things; but if the face of things to come be threatning and inauspicious, Fear gains the Ascendant over the mind, a [...] unmanly and unchristian faintness pervades it, and among the many other mischiefs it inflicts, this is not the least; that it brings the evil of to morrow upon to day, and so makes the duties of to day wholly unser­viceable to the evils of to morrow; which is much as if a man having an intricate and difficult business cut out for the next day, which requires the utmost intention both of his Mind and Body, and (haply might be prosperously managed if both were duly prepared) should lie all the night [Page] restless and disquieted about the event, torturing and spending himself with his own presaging Fears, so that when the day is come, and the business calls for him; his strength is no way equal to the burden of it, but he faints and fails under it.

There is indeed an excellent use that God makes of our Fears to stimulate our sloth­ful hearts to greater vigilance, and prepara­tion for evils, and there is a mischievous use Satan makes of our Fears, to cast us under Despondency and vnbecoming Pusilla­nimity; and I reckon it one of the great difficulties of Religion to cut by a thred here, and so to manage our selves under threatning or doubtful Providences, as to be touched with so much sense of those ap­proaching evils, as may prepare us to bear them; and yet to enjoy that constancy and firmness of mind in the worst times, that may answer the excellent principles we are professedly governed by.

These last times are certainly the most perillous times; great things are yet to be acted upon the Stage of this World before it be taken down, and the Scena ante­penultima, latter end, I say not the [Page] last, will be a Tragedy. There is an Ultima clades adhuc metuenda, a dismal slaughter of the Witnesses of Christ, yet to be expected: the last bite of the cruel Beast will be deadly, and if we flatter not our selves, all things seem to be disposing themselves in the Course of Providence to­words it.

But Sir, if our Vnion with Christ be sure in it self, and sure to us also; if Faith give us the daily visions and Praelibations of the World to come, what well composed Spectators shall we be of these Tragedies! Let things be tossed Susque, deque, and the Mountains cast into the midst of the Sea, yet then the assured Christian may sing his Song upon Alamoth▪ A Song composed for God's hid­den ones.Psal. 46. This so poiseth and steddies the mind, that we may enjoy the comfort and tranquillity of a resigned will▪ when others are at their wits end.

With design to promote this blessed frame in my own and others hearts in these frightful times, I meditated, and now pub­lish this small Tract, to which a dear friend (from whom I have often had the [Page] fair Idea and Character of your excellent Spirit) hath occasioned the prefixing of your worthy Name; I beg pardon for such an unusual presumption, as also your cha­rity in censuring the faults that will ap­pear in it, when it shall come under so ex­act and judicious an eye; it may be use­ful, though it be not elegant; its season­ableness is its best commendation, and its aim better than its performance. As for you Sir, I hope Faith hath really placed your Soul in that Serene and happy station where Seneca fancied Moral Virtue to have placed a good man, Fatendum est, cacu­mine Olympi constitutus, supra ventos & procellas, & omnes res humanas. Above the Storms and Tempests of this unquiet and distracting World; but there are ma­ny gracious persons, at this day, labouring under their own Fears, and whose hearts are ready to fail with looking for those things that are coming to try them that dwell upon the Earth; and possibly somewhat of relief may be administred to many such by this discourse: Some bivious and stag­gering Souls may be established; some dis­couraged and fainting Spirits may be re­vived; some doubts may be dissolved that have long perplexed gracious [...] [Page] Whatever use it may be of to any, I hum­bly call in the aid of your Prayers to my own, for a special blessing upon it, and re­mains, Sir,

Yours to Honour, Love and Serve you, John Flavell.

A Catalogue of some Books Printed for, and to be Sold by Ro. Boulter at the Turk's head in Cornhil, 1682.

Folio.
  • BIshop Reynolds Works.
  • Calderwoods History of the Reforma­mation of the Church of Scotland, from 1560 to 1625.
  • Rushworth's Collections, First Volume.
  • —His Second Volume.
  • Pharmacopoea Londinensis.
  • Baily's Chronology.
  • Twiss De Scientia Media.
  • Sturmy's Magazine.
  • Curia Politiae—
Quarto.
  • [Page]Durham on the Revelatio [...].
  • Baxter's Saints Rest.
  • Owen of Justification.
  • Origen Contra Marchionet.
  • Charles The Eighth, A Play.
  • Lesley Historia Scotorum.
  • Man of Sin.
  • Lightfoot on Lucan.
  • Dr. Charleton's Anatomical Lectures.
  • Flavel's Husbandry.
  • Boys's Sermons.
  • Prynn's Power of Parliaments.
  • Burnets Thesaurus.
  • Behin's Remains.
  • Manley of Usury.
  • Brown against, Quakers.
  • Seamans Calendar.
  • Mariners Calendar.
  • Seamans Practise.
  • Norwood's Trigonometria.
Large Octavo.
  • Pool's Nullity.
  • Wilson's Scriptures.
  • Durham of Scandal.
  • Dr. Trapham's Treatise of Iamaica.
  • [Page] Cloud of Witnesses.
  • Rutherford's Examen.
  • Sclater of Grace.
  • Bayfield De Capitis.
  • Danvers of Baptism.
  • Flavell's Two Treatises.
  • —His Preparation for Sufferings.
Small Octavo.
  • Wars of Hungary.
  • History of Jewels.
  • Moral Gallantry.
  • Flavell's Saint Indeed.
  • —Token for Mourners.
  • Roma Restituta.
  • Curious Destillatory.
  • History of Iapan and Siam.
  • Looking Glass for Children.
  • Hugh's Disputations.
  • Religio Stoici.
  • Petton on the Covenant.
  • Queens Wells.
  • Moreland of Interest.
  • Miltoni Logica.
  • Grey of Faith.
  • Sydenham's Works.
  • Rushworth's Solomons Remembrance.
  • Gales Idea.
  • Binning's Miscellanies.
  • Kirkwood's Grammatica.

A PRACTICAL TREATISE OF Fear, &c.

Isaiah 8. v. 12, 13, and part of the 14.‘Say ye not a confederacy to all them to whom this people shall say a confederacy; neither fear ye [their fear] nor be afraid. ’v. 13.‘Sanctifie the Lord of hosts himself, and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread;’v. 14. ‘And he shall be for a sanctuary.’

CHAP. I

Wherein the Text and Context are opened, the Doctrines propounded; and the general method stated.

THere is not more diversity found in the out­ward features, than in the inward tempers and dispositions of men: some are as timo­rous as Hares and start at every sound, or yelp of a dog: others are bold as Lions, and can face dangers without trembling, Some fear more than they ought, and some before they ought, and others when they ought not at all. The carnal person fears man, not God; the strong Christian fears God, [Page 2] not man; the weak Christian fears man too much, and God too little.

There is a Fear which is the effect of sin, spring­ing from guilt, and hurrying the soul into more guilt; and there is a fear which is the effect of grace, springing from our love to God and his interest, and driving the soul to God in the way of duty. The less fear any man hath the more happiness, except it be of that fear which is our happiness and our ex­cellency.

It cannot be said of any man as it is said of Levi­athan, Iob 41. 33. that he is made without fear, those that have most fortitude, are not without some fears: And when the Church is in the storms of per­secution, and almost covered with the waves, the stoutest passengers in it may suffer as much from this boisterous passion within, as from the Storm without; and all for want of throughly believing, or not sea­sonably remembring, That the Lord High Admiral of all the Ocean, and Commander of all the winds is on board the Ship, to steer and to preserve it in the storm.

A pregnant instance hereof is furnished to our hands in this Context, where you find the best men trem­bling in expectation of the worst events both on the Church in general, and themselves in particular. Their hearts were moved like the trees of the wood sha­ken with the wind, Chap. 7. v. 2.

And indeed if their dangers were to be mea­sured by sense only, their fears were not above the value of the cause, yea their dangers seemed to ex­ceed their fears; for it was the invasion of a forein and cruel enemy, even the Assyrian who were to break in upon them like a breach of the Sea, and overflow the land of Immanuel, v. 7. The Lord bring­eth [Page 3] up upon them the waters of the river strong and many; even the King of Assyria and all his glory, and he shall come up over all his channels, and go over all his banks. And as the 7. verse resembles the enemy to waters which quickly drown the countrey into which they break, so the 8 verse tells you how far they should prevail, and how near it should come to a general and total ruine. He shall pass through Iudah, he shall over­flow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck, and the stretching ou [...] of his wings shall fill the breadth of thy land O Immanuel. All the body should be under water, except the capital City, which remained above water.

Having thus described the power and success of the invading enemy, in the 9 and 10 verses he de­rides their plots and combinations, assuring them that although God for just and holy ends would permit them for a time to afflict his people, yet in the issue all their councels and cruelties should recoyl upon themselves, and end in their own ruine and confusion.

And thereupon Isaiah is commanded to encourage the feeble and trembling hearts of such as feared God in those distracted and frightful times, v. 11, 12, 13. The Lord spake unto me with a strong hand and in­structed me, that I should not walk in the way of this people, saying, say ye not a confederacy, &c.

God speaking to the Prophet by a strong hand, imports the strong and mighty impression that was made upon his heart by the Spirit of Prophecy: Wherein the Lord did as it were lay his hand upon him, as a man doth upon one to whom he is about to impart some special secret in a familiar way, q. d. Come hither Isaiah, (drawing him to him at the same instant with a friendly hand) take deep notice of what I am now to give thee in charge both with respect to thy self, and my elect people that follow [Page 4] thee; say not you a confederacy to all them to whom this people shall say a confederacy, (i. e.) let not these frightful tidings work upon you, as they do up­on Ahaz, and the common multitude with him▪ who are so terrified and scared with the approching dan­gers that all their councels, thoughts and studies are taken up in preventing it by making a confederacy or league with the Assyrian; or if that cannot be, then with some Forein power that may se­cure them against the Assyrian, Hos. 5. 13. but their eyes are not all to me for pro­tection and deliverance, they expect more from Egypt than from Heaven; from a broken reed, than from the rock of ages. Fear not you their fear; Their fear drives them from God to the creature; it first Distracts them, and then Ensnares them.

But on the contrary, see that thou, and all the faithful in the land with thee do sanctifie me in your hearts, and make me your fear, and your dread. (i. e.) rely upon me by faith in this day of trouble, and see that you give me the glory of my wisdom, power▪ and faithfulness; by relying intirely upon those my attributes engaged for you in so many tried promises: And do not betake your selves to such sinful and vain shifts as those do that have no interest in me, nor ex­perience of me. This is the general scope and design of the Text; wherein more particularly you have,

  • 1. An evil practice prohibited.
  • 2. An effectual remedy prescribed.
  • 3. A singular encouragement to apply that remedy.

1. An evil practice prohibited, Fear not their fear, neither be afraid. This is that sinful principle, which was but too apt to incline them to do as others [Page 5] did, scil. to say a confederacy. Sinful fears are apt to drive the best men into sinful compliances, and in­direct shifts to help themselves.

Their fear may be understood two ways;

  • 1. Subjectively.
  • 2. Effectively.

1. Subjectively, for the self same fear wherewith the carnal and unbelieving Iews feared: a fear that enslaved them in bondage of Spirit; a fear that is the fruit of sin, a sin in its own nature, the cause of much sin to them, and a just punishment of God upon them for their other sins.

2. Effectively, Let not your fear produce in you such mischievous effects as their fear doth; to make you forget God, magnifie the creature, prefer your own wits and policies to the Almighty power, and unspotted faithfulness of God; if you say, but how shall we help it?

2. Why in the next place you have, An Effectual remedy prescribed, But sanctifie the Lord of hosts him­self, and let him be your fear and your dread. The fear of God will swallow up the fear of Man, a reve­rential awe and dread of God will extinguish the sla­vish fear of the creature; as the Sun-shine puts out fire; or as one fire fetches out another; so will this fear fetch out that.

By sanctifying the Lord of Hosts himself, is meant a due ascription of the glory of his Sovereign power, wisdom and faithfulness, not only in verbal and pro­fessed acknowledgments thereof, but especially in those internal acts of affiance, resignation, and intire dependence on him, which as they are the choicest respects of the creature towards its God, and give him the greatest glory, so they are certainly the most beneficial and comfortable acts we can perform for [Page 6] our own peace and safety in times of danger.

If a man do really look to God in a day of trouble and fear, as to the Lord of Hosts, (i. e.) one that governs all the creatures, and all their actions; at whose beck and command all the Armies of Heaven and Earth are; and then can rely upon the care and love of this God, as a child in danger of trouble reposes on, and commits himself with greatest confidence to the care and protection of his Father: O what peace, what rest must necessarily follow upon this! Who would be afraid to pass through the midst of Armed Troops and Regiments, whilst he knows that the General of that Army is his own Father? The more power this filial fear of God obtains in your hearts, the less will you dread the power of the Creature. When the Dictator ruled at Rome, then all other Officers ceased; and so in a great measure will all other fears where the fear of God is Dictator in the heart. This is the Remedy.

3. And to enable us to apply this remedy in the worst and most difficult times, we have a singular encouragement proposed. If we will thus sanctifie the Lord of Hosts himself, by such an acknowledg­ment of, and child-like dependence on him in times of danger,Asyli loco. then he will be to us for a San­ctuary (i. e.) he will surely protect, defend and provide for us in the worst times and cases, then will the Lord Create upon every dwelling-place of mount Zion and upon her As­semblies,Praestabit vos inac­cessos, & inviolabiles ab his regibus.a cloud and smoke by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for upon all the glory shall be a defence, and there shall be a Tabernacle, for a shadow in the day-time from the heat, and for a place of refuge and for a covert from the storm, and [Page 7] from rain. Let the winds roar, the rain beat, the lightnings flash, you are in safety, and have a good roof over your heads. Hence these two points of Doctrine offer themselves.

1. Doctrine.

That the best men are too apt to be overcome with slavish fears in times of eminent distress and danger.

2. Doctrine.

That the fear of God is the most effectual means to extinguish the sinful fear of man, and to secure us from danger.

These two points take in the substance and scope of the Text, but because I design to treat in the follow­ing Chapters, of the Kinds, Nature, Uses, Causes, Effects, and Remedies of Fear, I shall not distinctly prosecute them, but proceed in this order in the fol­lowing Chapters.

CHAP. II.

Wherein the kinds and nature of Fear are opened, and particularly the distracting slavish Fear of Creatures.

SECT. I.

THere is a threefold Fear found in men. viz.

Fear
  • 1. Natural
  • 2. Sinful
  • 3. Religious

1. Natural Fear, of which all are partakers that partake of the common nature, not one excepted.

[Page 8] Natural Fear is the trouble or perturbation of mind from the apprehension of approaching evil, or impen­ding danger.

The Greek word [...] comes from a Verb that signifies Flight; [...] fugio, perfect▪ med. [...], in­de [...] timor, fuga. this is not always sinful, but it is always the fruit and conse­quent of sin. Since sin entred into our nature there is no shaking off Fear, no sooner had Adam transgressed, but he feared and fled, hiding himself among the Trees of the Garden, Gen. 3. 8. when he had transgressed the Covenant, he presently fear­ed the execution of the Curse. First he eats, then he hides. And this afflictive passion is from him trans­mitted and derived to all his children.

To this natural Fear it pleased our Lord Iesus Christ to subject himself in the days of his flesh, he was afraid, yea, he was sore amazed. Mark 14. 33. For though his humane nature was absolutely free from [...]in, yet he came in the likeness of sinful flesh. Rom. 8. 3.

This fear creates great trouble and perturbation in the mind, 1 Iohn 4. 18. Fear hath torment; in proportion to the danger is the fear, and in propor­tion to the fear, the trouble and distraction of the mind, if the fear be exceeding great, reason is displaced, and can conduct us no farther, as the Psalmist speaks of Mariners in a Storm, they are at their wits end,Rector in incer­to est, nec quid fugiatve petat­ve, invenit.Psal. 107. 27. or as it is varied in the Margin, all wisdom is swallowed up, and this is the mean­ing of Deut. 28. 25.Ovid. that they should go out against their enemies one way, and flee before them seven ways, (i. e.) so great shall be the fright and distraction that they shall attempt [Page 9] now one way, then another, striving every way, but liking none; for fear so far betrays the succours of reason, that their counsels are always in uncertainty and at a loss,pavidi semper consilia in in­certo. and the usual voice of a man in this condition is, I know not what to do, I know not which way to turn.

Evil is the object of fear, and the greater the evil is, the stronger the fear must needs be, and therefore the terrours of an awakened and terrified conscience must be allowed to be the greatest of terrours, be­cause in that case a man hath to do with a great and terrible God, and is scared with apprehensions of his infinite and eternal wrath: Than which no evil is or can be greater. You see at what height Christs con­flict with it wrought, when it made him sweat as it were great clots of bloud. Of all temporal evils death is the greatest, and therefore Iob calls it the King of terrours, Iob 18. 14. or the most terrible of terribles.Dux quidam indigno mortis metu, adeo con­cussus fuit, ut sangui­neum sudorem toto corpore fudit. Hist. lib. 11. Thuanus re­lates two strange instances of the fear of death, One of a certain Captain who was so terrified with the fear of death, that he poured out a kind of bloudy sweat from all parts of his body.Iuvenis ob levem cau­sam à Sixto V [...] damna­tus, prae doloris vehe­mentia fertur lacry­mas cruentes fudisse. lib. 80. Another, is of a Young man condemned for a small matter by Sixtus Quintus who was so vehemently terrified with the fears of death, that he shed a kind of bloudy tears. These are strange and terrible effects of fear, but vastly short of what Christ felt and suffered, who grapled with a far greater evil than the Terrors of death, even the wrath of an incensed God, poured [Page 10] out to the full, and that immediately upon him.

But yet evil, as evil, is rather the object of hatred, than of fear, it must be an imminent or near approa­ching evil, which we see not how to escape or put by, that provokes fear, and rouzes this Lion. And therefore the Saints in glory are perfectly freed from fear, because they are out of the reach of all danger: Nor do we that are here in the midst of e­vils fear them till we see them approching us, and we see not how to avoid them. To hear of Fire, Plague, or the Sword in the Indies, doth not affright us, because the evil is so remote from us: It's far e­nough off, we are in no danger of it; but when it is in the Town, much more when within our own dwellings, we tremble. Evil hurts us not by a sim­ple apprehension of its nature, but of its union; and all propinquity is a degree of union as a learned Divine speaks.Dr. Reynolds. And its worth Observation that all carnal security is maintained by putting evils at a great distance from us. As it is noted of those secure Sensualists Amos 6. 3. they put far from them the evil day. the mean­ing is not that they did, or could put the evil, one minute farther from them in reality, but only by imagination and fancy, they shut their own eyes and would not see it, lest it should give an unpleasing interruption to their mirth; and this is the reason why death puts the living into no more fear, because it is apprehended as remote, and at an undetermined di­stance, whereas if the precise time of death were known, especially if that time were near, it would greatly scare and terrifie.

This is the nature of natural Fear, the infelicity of nature which we all groan under the effects of: It is in all the creatures in some degree, but among [Page 11] them all none suffer more by it than man, for hereby he becomes his own tormentor, nor is any torment greater than this when it prevails in an high degree upon us. Indeed all constitutions and tempers admit not the same degrees of fear, some are naturally cou­ragious and stout like the Lyon for magnanimity and fortitude, others exceeding timorous and faint-hear­ted like the Hare or Hart, one little dog will make an hundred of them fear and flee before him. Luther was a man of great courage and presence of mind in dangers, Melancthon very timorous and subject to despondency; thus the difference betwixt them is expressed in one of Luther's Letters to him, ‘I am well nigh a secure spectator of things, and esteem not any thing these fierce and threat­ning Papists. Epist. ad Melanc. An. 1549. I much dislike those anxious cares which as thou wri­test do almost consume thee.’ There might be as great a stock of grace in one as in the other, but Melancthon's grace had not the advantage of so stout and couragious a temper of body and mind as Luther's had. Thus briefly of natural Fear.

SECT. II.

THere is a Fear which is formally and intrinsical­ly sinful, not only our infelicity, but our fault, not our simple affliction and burden, but our great evil and provocation; and such is the fear here dissua­ded, called Their Fear. (i. e.) the fear wherewith carnal and unbelieving men do fear, when dangers threaten them; and the sinfulness of it lies in five things.

1. In the spring and cause of it, which is unbelief, and an unworthy distrust of God, when we dare not [Page 12] rely upon the security of a divine promise, nor trust to Gods protection in the way of ou [...] duty: This was the very case of that people, Isai. 30. 15. Thus saith the Lord, the holy one of Israel, in returning and rest shall ye be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength; and ye would not, but ye said no, for we will flee upon horses; therefore shall ye flee: and we will ride upon the swift; therefore shall they that pursue you be swift, one thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one, &c.

Thus stood the case, Sennacherib with a mighty Host was ready to invade them, this puts them into a fright, in this distress God assures them by the mouth of the Prophet, That in returning and rest they should be saved, in quietness and confidence should be their strength. The meaning is, never perplex your selves with various councels and projects to secure your selves under the wings of Egypt, or any other Prote­ctor, but with a composed, quiet, and calm temper of mind rest upon my power by faith, take my pro­mises for your security, this shall be your salvation, and your strength, more effectual to your preserva­tion, than Armies, Garisons, or any creature de­fence in the World; one act of faith shall do you bet­ter service than Pharaoh and all his forces can do.

But ye said no, q. d. we dare not trust to that, a good horse will do us more service at such a time than a good promise; Egypt is a better security in their eye than Heaven. This is the fruit of gross infidelity. And as wicked men do thus forsake God and cleave to the creature in time of trouble, so there is found a spice of this distrustfulness of God producing fear and trouble in the best men. It was in the Disciples themselves, Matth. 8. 26. Why are ye fearful O ye of little faith? A Storm had befallen them at Sea, danger began to threaten them, and presently you [Page 13] find a storm within, their fears were more boisterous than the winds, and had more need of calming than the sea, and it was all from their unbelief, as Christ tells them; the less their faith, the greater their fear: If a man can but rely upon God in a promise, so far as he is enabled to believe, so far he will reckon himself well secured. Illy­ricus Illyr. Cat. Test. lib. 19. in his Catalogue of the witnesses re­lates this remarkable passage of one Andre­as Proles, a godly aged Divine who lived somewhat before Luther, and taught many points soundly, ac­cording to his light then, he was called to a Synod at Millain, and afterwards in the Lateran, where op­posing a proposition of the Pope about burdening the Church with a new Holiday, he was brought into much danger, and escaping very narrowly from Rome, he bought him a Bow and Weapons, but as he was riding, he began to bethink himself, That the cause was not his but Gods, and not to be maintain­ed with sword and bow, and if it were, yet what could such a decrepit old man do with weapons? Upon which he threw away his weapons, committed him­self, his cause, and his journey to God, relied upon his promises more than sword or bow, and came home safe, and afterward died quietly in his bed.

2 The sinfulness of Fear lies in the excess and im­moderacy of it, when we fear more than we ought; for it may be truly said of our fears as the Philoso­pher speaks of waters, difficilé suis terminis continen­tur, 'tis hard to keep them within bounds, every bush is a Bear, every petty trouble puts us into a fright, our fear exceeds the value and merit of the cause. 'Tis a great sin to love or fear any creature above the rate of a creature, as if they were Masters of all our tem­poral and eternal comforts. Thus when the men of [Page 14] Israel heard of the confederacy and conjuction of their enemies against them, the Text saith, their hearts were moved, as the Trees of the wood are moved with the wind, Isai. 7. 1. or as we use to say prover­bially, like an Aspine leaf: 'tis a sad sight to behold men shaking and quivering as the trees do in a windy day, yet thus did the house of David, partly through the remembrance of past calamities, but especially through incredulity in Gods protecting care in their present and future dangers; yea, this is too often the fault of good men in creature fear, as well as in creature love, to transgress the due bounds of modera­tion. 'Tis noted of Iacob though a man of much Faith, and one that had the sweetest encouragements to strengthen it both from former experiences, and Gods gracious promises to be with him; yet when Esa [...] was come nigh, he was greatly afraid and di­stressed, Gen. 32. 7. It was but a little before that God had graciously appeared to him, and sent a Royal guard of Angels to attend him, even two hosts or armies of Angels, verse 1, 2. and yet assoon as Esau approched him, he was afraid, greatly afraid, yea, greatly afraid and distressed, notwithstanding such an encouraging vision as this was.

3. The sinfulness of our Fears lies in the inordina­cy of them; to fear it more than we ought is bad enough, but to magnifie its power above the power of a creature; to exalt the power of any creature by our fears, and give it such an Ascendent over us, as if it had an Arbitrary and absolute dominion over us, or over our comforts, to do with them what it plea­sed; this is to put the creature out of its own Class and rank, into the place of God, and is therefore a very sinful and evil fear.

To trust in any creature as if it had the power of a [Page 15] God to help us, or to fear any creature, as if it had the power of a God to hurt us, is exceeding sinful, and highly provoking to God. This inordinate trust is taxed and condemned in Isai. 31. 3. They would needs go down to Egypt for help, and trust in their horses and horsemen, because they were strong (i. e.) in their opinion they were able to secure them against all those dangers the Prophet from the Lords own mouth had threatned them with, but to take them off from this sinful and inordinate dependence on the crea­ture he tells them, v. 3. Now the Egyptians are men and not God, and their horses flesh, and not spirit, when the Lord shall stretch forth his hand, both he that help­eth shall fall, and he that is holpen shall fall down; and they shall fail together, q. d.

'Tis a sinful and dangerous mistake for one crea­ture to give that trust and dependence to another creature, which is due only to God, to look upon men as if they were Gods, and horses as if they were Spi­rits: All creatures, even the strongest, are but as the Hop, the Vine, or the Ivy, if they clasp about the pole, the wall, or the oak; they may be supported, as you also may by leaning upon God, but if they depend, and intangle themselves one upon another, as you and the Egyptians do, you shall fail, and fall all together.

And as one creature is apt inordinately and sinfully thus to trust and lean upon another; so there is as great a proness in the creatures inordinately to fear and dread each other, as if the creature feared were rather a God, than a man, rather a Spirit than flesh; and thus our fear magnifies and exalts the creature, and puts it as it were into the room and place of God. This was the sin which God rebuked in his own people, Isai 51. 12, 13. I even I am he that comforteth thee, [Page 16] who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass, and forgettest the Lord thy maker, &c. See how fear exalts man, and depresseth God, it thinks upon the noxious power of men so much, that it forgets the saving power of God, as if that stood for nothing; thus a mortal worm that shall perish as the grass, eclipses the glory of the great God, that stretch­ed forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth.

And this was the evil against which Christ caution­ed his own Disciples in Matth. 10. 28. Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul; but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. q. d. Have a care you never fear any man, be he armed with never so much power, and rage; as if the power of making or marring you for ever were in his hands, as if you lay at the feet of his will and pleasure to be saved or ruined for ever. Fear not him that can only touch your bodies as if he would damn your souls, invest not any creature with the sovereign and incommunicable power of God.

4. The sinfulness of Fear consists in the distracting influence it hath upon the hearts of men, whereby it discomposeth and unfits them for the discharge of their duties.

Fear sometimes puts men into such an hurry, and their thoughts into such disorder, that for the present they have scarce any succour or relief from their gra­ces, or from their reason; for under an extraordina­ry fear both grace and reason like the wheels of a watch wound above its due height, stand still, and have no motion at all. It is rare to find a man of that largeness and constancy of heart and mind in a day of fear, that was found in Iehoshaphat, 2 Chro. 20. 2, 3. [Page 17] Then there came some that told Jehoshaphat saying, there cometh a great multitude against thee from be­yond the sea, on this side Syria, and behold they be in Hazazon Tamar which is Engedi, and Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord. He set him­self (i. e.) he composed and fixed his heart for Prayer in the time of so great a fright, and terrible an Alarm: But it is rare to find such constancy and eveness of mind as this; in like cases it is with most in great frights, as the Prophet describes the condition of the Jews, Isaiah 22. 2, 3. when the City of Ierusalem was be­sieged and the enemy came under the walls of it; that which a little before was the joyous City, or as some read, the revelling City, is now in such a panick fear, that it is full of stirs and tumults, some run up to the tops of the houses either to hide or bewail them­selves, or take a view of the dreadful enemy without; others prevent the sword of the enemy, and die by fear before hand, their own apprehensions of misery killed them before the sword of any other enemy once touched them, but you read of none that ran into their closets to seek the Lord; the city was full of stirrs, but not of prayers; alas, Fear made them cry to the mountains, rather than to God, ver. 5. The best men find it hard to keep their thoughts from wander­ing and their minds from distraction in the greatest calm of peace, but a thousand times harder in the hur­ries and tumults of fear.

5. The sinfulness of Fear consists in the power it hath to dispose and incline men to the use of sinful means to put by their danger, and to cast them into the hands and power of temptation. The fear of man bringeth a snare, Prov. 29. 25. or puts and lays a snare before him; Satan spreads the net, and Fear like the stalking horse drives men right into it. It [Page 18] was fear which drew Abraham that great believer in­to the snare of dissimulation, to the great disparage­ment of Religion, for it was somewhat an odd sight to see Abimelech an heathen so schooling an Abra­ham for it, as he did Gen 20. 9. And for the same evil you find God chiding his people in Isaiah 57. 11. And of whom hast thou been afraid, or feared that thou hast lied, and hast not remembred me? There is a double lie occasioned by Fear, one in words, another in deeds: Hypocrisie is a lie done, a practical lie, and our Church History abounds with sad examples of dissimulation through fear: 'tis Satans great engine to make his Tempations victorious and successful with men.

SECT. III.

3. There is an holy and laudable Fear, a Fear which is our treasure, not our torment, the chief ornament of the Soul, its beauty and perfection, not its infe­licity or sin, viz. the awful filial fear of God; natu­ral fear is a pure or simple passion of the Soul: Sinful fear is the disordered and corrupt passion of the soul; but this is the natural passion sanctified, and thereby changed and baptized into the name and nature of a Spiritual grace. This fear is also mentioned in my Text, and prescribed as an Antidote against sinful fears; it devours carnal fears as Moses serpent did those of the Enchanters. It's one of the sorest judg­ments to be in the fear of man day and night, Deut. 28. 65, 66, 67. and one of the sweetest mercies to be in the fear of God all the day long, Prov. 23. 17. The fear of men shortens our days, Isaiah. 22. 34▪ but the fear of the Lord prolongeth our days, Prov. 10. 27. The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life [Page 19] Prov. 14. 27. But the fear of man a fountain of mischiefs and miseries. By the fear of the Lord men depart from evil, Prov. 16. 6. but by the fear of man, men run themselves into evil Prov. 29. 25.

This Fear is a gracious habit or principle planted by God in the soul, whereby the soul is kept under an holy awe of the eye of God, and from thence is inclined to perform and do what pleaseth him, and to shun and avoid whatsoever he forbids and hates.

1. It is planted in the soul as a permanent and fix­ed habit, it is not of the natural growth and produ­ction of mans heart, but of supernatural infusion and implantation. Ier. 32. 40. I will put my fear into their inward parts. To fear man is natural, but to fear God is wholly supernatural.

2. This gracious fear puts the soul under the awe of Gods eye, Psal. 119. 161. my heart standeth in awe of thy word. 'Tis the reproach of the servants of men to be eye-servants, but it is the praise and honour of Gods servants to be so.

3. This respect to the eye of God inclines them to perform and do whatsoever pleaseth him, and is com­manded by him; hence fearing God, and working righteousness are connected and linked together, Acts. 10. 35. If we truly fear God, we dare not but do the things he commands, and if his fear be exalted in our hearts to an high degree, it will enable us to obey him in duties accompanied with deepest self de­nial, Gen. 22. 12. Now I know thou fearest God, see­ing thou hast not with held thy son, thine only son from me.

4. This fear ingageth, and in some degree inableth the soul, in which it is to shun and avoid whatsoever is displeasing to God, and forbidden by him, in this Io [...] discovered himself a true fearer of God, he would [Page 20] not touch what God had forbidden, and therefore was honoured with this Excellent Character, He was one that feared God▪ and eschewed evil, Iob. 1. 3.

And thus of the several kinds of Fear.

CHAP. III.

Shewing the various uses of Fear, both Natu­ral, Sinful, and Religious, in the Govern­ment of the world by providence.

SECT. I.

HAving taken a brief view of the several kinds and sorts of Fear that are found among men, our next [...] work will be to open the Uses of them in the Government of this world, for one way or other they all subserve the most wise and holy purposes of God therein. And we will first enquire into

1. The Use of Natural Fear.

Which if we well consider, it will be found ex­ceeding necessary and useful to make man a gover­nable creature by Law, and consequently the order comfort and tranquillity of the world necessarily de­pends upon it. How immorigerous and intractable would the corruptions of mans nature make him, and uncapable of any moral restraint from the most flagitious and barbarous crimes, had not God plant­ed such a passion as this in his na­ture, which like aEst timor instar frae­ [...]i quo equus regitur, hic metus si toleretur, omnia conciderent. La­vat. in pro. 29. v. 25. bridle curbs in the corrupt propensions there­of. If fear did not clap its mana­cles [Page 21] and fetters upon the wild and boysterous lusts of men, they would certainly bear down all milder motives and break loose from all ingenuous bands of restraint, the world would inevitably be filled with disorders tumults, rapines, theft, murders, and all manner of uncleanness, and unrighteousness, nec hospes ab hospite tutus, Intellectualis creatu­ra eò ipso quòd crea­tura est, superiorem habet, cujus provi­dentiae & ordinationi subjaceat: & qua in­tellectualis est capax est gubernationis mo­ralis, qua dirigatur ad bonum, & arceatur à malo, & talis lex est illi simpliciter neces­saria, ut convenien­ter suae naturae vive­re possit. Suarez de leg. lib. 1 cap. 3. men would become like the fishes of the sea, as the Prophet complains, Habak. 1. 14. where the greater swallow up a multitude of the smaller fry alive at one gulp; propriety could not be maintain­ed in the world, no mans person could be safe or inviolate; power and opportunity to do mischief would measure out to men their Lot and inheritance, and conse­quently all Societies must disband and break up. We say, and the observation is sure, he that fears not his own, may easily be master of another mans life. 'Tis law, and fear of punishment that keeps the World in order; men are afraid to do evil, because they are afraid to suffer it, they see the Law hath inseparably linked penal and moral evils together, if they will presume upon the one, they must necessarily pull the other upon them too; and this keeps them in some order, and decorum; there would be no order or security without Law; but if Laws had no annexed penalties to inforce them and give them their Sanction as good there were no Laws; they would have no more power to restrain the corruptions of mens hearts, than the new cords or green withs had to bind Sam­son; And yet if the severest penalties in the world, [Page 22] were annexed to, or appointed by the Law, they could signifie nothing to the ends of Government without Fear. This is that tender sensible power or passion on which threatnings work, and so brings men under moral government and restraint, Rom. 13. 3, 4. Magistrates are a terror to evil works; wilt thou not then be afraid of the power? but if thou do that which is evil, be afraid, for he beareth not the sword in vain. And by this means a world of evil is restrained and prevented in the world.

It was the custom and policy of the Persians, (I can­not say laudable) at the death of their Kings to give every man liberty for the space of five days to do what he would, and such mischiefs were done every where by the unbridled lusts of men in those days, that it made the people long and pray for the instal­ment of their next King, it exceedingly endeared Go­vernment to them: Blessed be God for Law and Go­vernment, for curbing by this means the raging lusts of the hearts of men, and procuring rest and comfort for us in the world this way.

2. The Use of Sinful Fear.

This is formally evil and sinful in its own nature, as well as the fruit of sin, and offspring of sinful na­ture, yet the Lord knows how to over-rule it in his providential Government of the world to his own wise and holy purposes, and he doth so;

First, by making it his scourge to punish his ene­mies. If men will not fear God, they shall fear men, yea, they shall be made a terrour to themselves. And in­deed it is a dreadful punishment for God to deliver a man up into the hands of his own fears: I think there is scarce a greater torment to be found in the world, [Page 23] than for a man to be his own Tormenter, and his mind made a Rack, an Engine of torture to his Bo­dy, we read in 2 Kings 17. 25. that God sent Lyons among the people, but certainly that is not so bad as for God to let loose our own Fears upon us. No Lion is so cruel as this passion, and therefore David esteemed it so great a deliverance to be delivered from all his fears, Psal. 34. 4. It is a dreadful threatning which is recorded in Deut. 28. 65, 66, 67. against the disobedient and rebellious, Thou shalt find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest, but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind, and thy life shall hang in doubt before thee, and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have no assurance of thy life; in the morning thou shalt say, would God it were Even, and at Even thou shalt say would God it were morning, for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear, and for the sight of thine eyes which thou shalt see. When fear hath once seized the heart, you may see deaths colours displayed in the face. What a dismal life do they live, who have neither any peace by day, nor rest by night, but wearisom days and nights are appointed to them. The days of such men are tiresome days, they wish for the night hoping it may give them a little rest, but their fears go to bed with them, their hearts pant, and meditate terrour, and then, O that it were day again.

2 By Fear God punisheth his enemies in hell: It is that flagellum Dei, terrible scourge of God, by which a great part of the torment of the damned is in­flicted on them. Divines use to make this tripar [...]ite distinction of hell torments, and tells us God punishes the wicked there partly by remembrance what is past, viz. the mercies and means they once had, but are [Page 24] there irrecoverably lost, partly by the sense of things present, even the wrath of God overlaying soul and body, and partly by the fear of what is to come; and sure this is not the least part of the misery of those wretched cast-aways:Calamitosus est ani­mus futuri anxius, & ante miserias mi­ser. Senec. O that fear­ful expectation of fiery indignati­on! more and more of Gods wrath still coming on as the waves of the Sea, thrusting forward one another: Yea, this is that which makes the De­vils tremble, Iames 2. 19. [...] the word signifies such a noise as the rote of the sea, or the roaring of the waves when they break them­selves against the rocks, and this is occasioned by the fears which are continually held as a whip over them.

3 Providence makes use of the slavish fears and terrors of wicked men to dissipate and scatter them when they are combined and confederated against the people of God; by these have they been routed and put to flight when there hath been no other visible power to do it: It's said, Psal. 78. 55. God cast out the Heathen before his people Israel; and by what means were those mighty nations subdued? not by the strength or multitudes of the Israelites, but by their own fears; for its said, Ioshuah 24. 11, 12. The Lord sent the hornet before them, which drave them out. Crabrones per meta­phoram repentinum terrorem significant, qui in animos malè sibi conscios a Deo im­missus fuit. Lavater in loc. These Hornets were the fears and terrors of their own guilty and presa­ging minds, which buzzed and smarmed in their own breasts, and stung them to the heart, worse than the swords of the Israelites could do. Theodoret relates a memorable story of Sapores King of Persi [...] [Page 25] who had besieged many Christians in the City [...] Nisibis, and put them to great straits, so that little hopes of safety were left them, but in the depth of their di­stress God sent an Army of Hor­nets and Gnats among their ene­mies,Sapores Rex Persarum cum urbem Nisib in qua erant Christiani, obse­disset, eamque afflige­ret, magna vis Cra­bronum, & Culicum repenté venit, & in Promuscides cavas E­lephantorum consedit, complevitque aures E­quorum, ita ut sessores excusserint, & turba­tos ordines in fugam converterint. Hist. lib. 2. cap. 30. which got into the trunks of their Elephants and ears and nostrils of their Horses which so enraged them, that they brake their harness, cast their Riders, and put them all to the rout; by which providence the Christians escaped. These Hornets were terrible to them, but Fears which are Hornets in a figure, are ten thousand times more terrible; they will quell and sink the very hearts of the stoutest men, yea, they will quickly make those, that in their pride and haughtiness took themselves rather to be Gods, and almighty Powers, to know themselves to be but men, as it is, Psal. 9. 20. Put them in fear O Lord, that they may know themselves to be but men: One fright will scare them out of a thousand fond conceits and idle dreams.

3. The use of Religious Fear.

If God can make such fruit to grow upon such a bramble as the sinful slavish fear of man is, what may we expect from Religious Fear, a choice root of his own spirits planting? The uses and benefits hereof are innumerable, and inestimable, but I must con­tract and will only instance in three special uses of it.

1. By this Fear the people of God are excited to, [Page 26] and confirmed in the way of their duty. Eccles. 12. 13. Fear God, and keep his commandments. It is Custos utriusque Tabulae, the keeper of both Tables; because the duties of both Tables are influenced by it. 'Tis this Fear of God that makes us have a due respect to all his commands, and it is as powerful to confirm us in, as it is to excite us to our duties, Ier. 32. 40. I will put my fear into their inwards, and they shall not de­part from me. Look as he that soweth doth not re­gard the winds, but goes on in his labour whatever weather the face of Heaven threatens; so he that fears God will be found in the way of his duty, let the as­pect of the times be never so lowring and discourage­ing; and truly, this is no small advantage in times of frights and distractions. Slavish fear sets a man up­on the Devils ground, Religious fear upon Gods ground; and how vast an odds is there in the choice of our ground, when we are to endure a great fight of affliction.

2. Another excellent use of this Fear, is to pre­serve the purity and peace of our Consciences, by preventing guilt, and grief therein, Prov. 16. 6. The fear of the Lord is to depart from evil. See how it kept Ioseph, Gen. 39. 9. and Nehemiah, chap. 5. 15. And this benefit is invaluable, especially in a day of outward calamity and distress; look in what degree the fear of God prevails in our hearts, answerable thereunto will the serenity, peace, and quietness of our Consciences be; and proportionable unto that will our strength and comfort be in the e­vil day, and our courage and confidence to look dangers in the face.

3 To conclude, A principal use of this fear of God is to awaken us to make timely provisions for future distresses, that whensoever they come, they [Page 27] [...]ay not come by way of surprize upon us. Thus No­ [...]h, being moved with fear, prepared an Ark, Heb. [...] 1. 7. It was the instrument of his and his Families salvation. Some men owe their death to their fears, [...]ut good men in a sense owe their lives to their fears; [...]nful fears have slain some, and godly fears have sa­ [...]ed others. A wise man feareth, and departeth from [...]vil, (saith Solomon) but a fool rageth and is con­ [...]dent. His fears give him a timely Alarm before the [...]nemy fall into his quarters and beat them up, by [...] his means he hath time to get into his chambers of [...]curity and rest, before the storm fall; but the fool [...]ageth and is confident, he never fears till he begin [...] feel, yea, most times he is past all hope, before [...] begin to have any fears.

These are some of the uses God makes of the seve­ [...]al kinds of Fear.

CHAP. IV.

Wherein the springs and causes of Sinful Fear are searched out, and the evil of such fears thence discovered.

SECT. I.

HAving shewn before the Kinds and uses of Fear, it remains that next we search out the springs [...]om which these waters of Marah are derived, and [...]d. And,

1. Cause.

First, we shall find the sinful fears of most good [Page 28] men to spring out of their ignorance, and the dark­ness of their own minds. All darkness disposes to fear, but none like intellectual darkness, you read, Cant. 3. 8. how Solomon's Life-guard had every man hi [...] sword upon his thigh, because of fear in the night▪ The night is the frightful season in the dark, every bush is a bear, we sometimes smile by day, to see what silly things those were that scared us in the nigh; so it is here, were our judgment but duly informed, how soon would our hearts be quieted?

Now there is a five fold Ignorance out of which ou [...] fears are generated.

1 Ignorance of God, either we know not, or at least, duly consider not his Almighty power, vigi­lant care, unspotted faithfulness, and how they are all engaged by Covenant for his people: This igno­rance and inconsiderateness lay at the root of thei [...] fears, Isai. 40. 27, 28. My way, (saith Sion) is hi [...] from the Lord, and my judgment passed over from my God, words imparting a suspicion that God had le [...]t her out of the account of his providence, and the Ca­talogue of those whom he would look after and take care for.

But were it once throughly understood and be­lieved what power there is in Gods hand to defend us▪ what tenderness in his bowels to commiserate us▪ what faithfulness in all the promises in which they are made over to us, O how quiet and calm woul [...] our hearts be! Our courage would quickly up, an [...] our fears down.

2. Our ignorance of men generates our fears o [...] men, we fear them, because we do not know them if we understood them better, we would fear them less, we over-value them, and then fright at them▪ They say the Lion is painted more fierce than he is [Page 29] I am sure our fancy paints out man more dreadful than indeed he is. If wicked men, especially if mul­titudes of wicked men be confederated against us, our hearts quail, and presently apprehend inevitable ruine. The floods of the ungodly made me afraid, saith David, (i. e.) the multitudes of them, which he thought like a flood or mighty torrent of waters, must needs sweep away such a straw, such a feather as he was before them; but mean time we know or consider not that they have no power against us, but what is given them from above, and that it's usual with God to cramp their hands, and clap on the bands of restraint upon them when their hearts are fully set in them to do mischief; did we see and consider them as they are in the hand of our God, we should not tremble at them as we do.

3. Ignorance of our selves, and the relations we have to God, cre­ates slavish fears in our hearts.Isai. 51. 12. For did believers but throughly understand how dear they are to God, what relations they sustain to him, of what account and value they are in his eyes, and how well they are secured by his faithful promises and gra­cious presence, they would not start and tremble at every noise, and appearance of danger as they do. God reckoned it enough to cure all Abraham's sinful fears when he told him how his God s [...]ood engaged for his defence, Gen. 15. 1. Fear not Abraham, I am thy shield.

And noble Nehemiah valued himself in times of dan­ger and fear by his interest in God, as his words im­port, Nehem. 6. 11. the conspiracy against him was strong, the danger he and the faithful with him at that time were in, was extraordinary, some there­fore advised to flee to the Temple, and Barracado [Page 30] themselves there against the Enemy, but Nehemi [...] understood himself better, Should such a man as I flee And who being as I am, would flee? saith he, q. d. a ma [...] so called of God to this service, a man under such pro [...]mises, a man of such manifold and manifest exper [...]ences; should such a man flee? Let others who hav [...] no such encouragements flee [...] they will, for my part I will no [...] flee. I remember it was an argu [...]ment used by Tertullian Tertul. de fuga. Times hominem Chri­stiane, quem timeri oportet ab Angelis, Siquidem Angelos ju­dicaturus es: quem timeri oportet à De­moniis, siquidem & in Demoniis, accepisti potestatem: quem time­ri oportet ab univers [...] mundo, siquidem & in te mundus judicatur. to quie [...] the fears, and stay the flight [...] Christians in those bloudy times▪ Art thou afraid of a man, O Chri­stian, when devils are afraid [...] thee, as a Prisoner is of his Judge, [...] whom the whole world ought [...] fear, as being one that shall judg [...] the world: O that we could with­out pride and vanity but value our selves duly, ac­cording to our Christian dignities, and priviledges which if ever it be necessary to count over an [...] value, it is in such times of danger and fear, whe [...] the heart is so prone to dejection and sinking fears.

4. Ignorance of our dangers and troubles cause our frights and terrours, we mistake them, and there­fore fright at them; we are ignorant of two thing [...] in our troubles among others. viz.

  • 1. The comforts that are in them.
  • 2. The outlets and escapes from them.

There is a vast odds betwixt the outward appearance and face of trouble and the inside of it; 'tis a Lion to the eye at a distance, but open it, and there is honey in its belly. Paul and Silas met that in a prison that made them sing at midnight, and so have many more since their day.

[Page 31] And as we are ignorant of the comforts that are sometimes found in our troubles, so of the outlets and doors of escape God can, and often doth open out of trouble; To God the Lord belong the issues from death, Psal. 68. 20. he knoweth how to deliver the Godly out of temptation, 2 Pet. 2. 9. he can with every tempta­tion make away to escape, 1 Cor. 10. 13. the poor captive exile cast upon nothing but dying in the pit, making their graves in the land of their captivity, Isai. 51. 14. For they could think upon none but the usual methods of deliverance, power, or price, and they had neither; little did they dream of such imme­diate influences of God upon the Kings heart, to make him dismiss them freely contrary to all rules of State policy, Isai. 45. 13.

5. But especially the fears of good men arise out of their ignorance and inconsiderateness of the Covenant of Grace. If we were better acquainted with the nature, extent, and stability of the Covenant, our hearts would be much freed thereby from these tor­menting passions, this Covenant would be a Panacea, a universal remedy against all our fears, upon spiri­tual or temporal accounts, as will be made evident hereafter in this discourse.

2. Cause.

2. Another cause and fountain of Sinful Fear, is guilt upon the Conscience: A servant of sin cannot but first or last be a slave of Fear, and they that have done evil, cannot chuse but expect evil, no sooner had Adam defiled and wounded his Conscience with guilt, but he presently trembles and hides himself, so it is with his children, God calls to him not in a threatning, but gentle dialect, not in a tempest, but in the cool of the day, yet it terrifies him, there being in himself mens conscia facti, a guilty and con­demning [Page 32] Conscience, Gen. 3. 8. 'Tis Seneca's obser­servation, That a guilty Con­science is a terrible whip and tor­ment to the Sinner,Malè facinorum con­scientia flagellari, & plurimum illi tormen torum esse, eo quod perpetuo illam solici­tudo urget, ac verbe­rat quod sponsoribus securitatis suae non potest credere. Senec. Epist. 97. perpetually lashing him with solicitous thoughts and fears, that he knows not where to be secure, nor dare he trust to any promises of pro­tection, but distrusts all, doubts and jealouzeh all; of such it is said, Iob 15. 21. That a dread­ful sound is in their ears, noting not only the effects of real, but also of imaginary dangers, his own pre­saging mind and troubled fancy scares him where no real danger is, suitable to that Pro. 28. 1. The wicked fleeth when none pursues, but the righteous is bold as a Lion, just as they say of sheep, that they are affright­ed by the clattering of their own feet, when once they are set a running; so is the guilty Sinner with the noise of his own Conscience which sounds nothing in his ears, but misery, wrath, and hell; we may say of all wicked men in their frights as Tacitus doth of Tyrants that if it were possible to open their inside,Si recludantur mentes Tyrannorum posse as­pici laniatus & ictus. Annal. their mind, and conscience, many terrible stripes and wounds would be found there; and it's said, Isai. 33. 14. The sinners in Sion are afraid trembling ta­keth hold on the hypocrite fear; and trembling as na­turally ariseth out of guilt, as the sparks do out of a fiery charcoal, Histories abundantly furnish us with sad examples of the truth of this observation. Cati­line that monster of wickedness would start at any suddain noise, being haunted with the furies of his own evil conscience. Charles the IX. after his bloudy [Page 33] and barbarous Massacre of the Protestants, could neither sleep nor wake without musick to divert his thoughts. And our Richard the Third after the mur­ther of his two innocent Nephews, saw divers ima­ges or shapes like Devils in his sleep, pulling and haling him. Mr. Ward tells of a Iesuit in Lan­cashire who being followed by one that had found his Glove, out of no other design but to restore it to him, but being pursued by his own guilty Conscience also, he leaped over the next hedge and was drowned. And remarkable is that which Mr. Fox relates of Cardinal Cresentius who fancied the devil walking in his cham­ber, and sometimes couching under his Table as he was writing Letters to Rome against the Protestants. Impius tantum metuit, quantum nocuit, so much mis­chief as Conscience tells them they have done, so much it bids them expect. Wolfius tells us of one Iohn Hofmeister who fell sick with the very terrours of his own Conscience in his Inn, as he was travelling to­wards Auspurge in Germany, and was frighted by his own Conscience to that degree that they were fain to bind him in his bed with chains, and all that they could get from him was, I am cast away for ever, I have grievously wounded my own Conscience.

To this wounded and trembling conscience is op­posed the spirit of a sound mind, mentioned 2 Tim. 1. 7. God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, of love, and of a sound mind; A sound mind, is in this place the same thing with a pure and peace­able Conscience, a mind or Conscience not infirmed or wounded with guilt, as we say a sound or heal body which hath no disease to infirm it, such a mind is op­posed to the spirit of fear; it will make a man bold as a Lion; Nil conscire tibi, nullâ Pallescere culpâ, hic mu­ [...] aheneus esto—

[Page 34] An evil and guilty Conscience foments fears and terrours three ways.

1. by aggravating small matters and blowing them up to the height of the most fatal and destructive evils; so it was with Cain, Gen. 4. 14. Every one that meets me will slay me. Now every child was a Giant in his eye, and any body he met, his over-match. A guilty Conscience gives a man no sight of his enemy, but through a magnifying, or a multiplying glass.

2 It begets Fears, by interpreting all doubtful cases in the worst sense that can befastened upon them; Pessimus in dubiis Augur timor. If the Swallows do but chatter in the chimney, Bessus interprets it to be a discovery of his crime, that they are telling take of him, and saying, Bessus killed a man. Nay,

3 If a guilty Conscience have nothing to aggravate, and magnifie, nor any doubtful matter to interpret in a frightful sense, it can and often doth create fears and terrors out of nothing at all: the rules of Fear [...] not like the rules in Arithmetick where many no­things make nothing, but fear can make something out of nothing, yea, many thing [...] and great things out of nothing at all.in metu & periculo plura & majora vi­dentur metuentibus, cum creduntur facili­us, tum singuntur im­punius. Cicero. Psal. 53, 5. there wer [...] they in great fea [...] where no fear was; here was a great fear raise [...] or created out of nothing at all [...] had their fear been examined, an [...] hunted home to its original, it would have bee [...] found a pure creature of fancy, a Chimaera have [...] no fundamentum in re, no other foundation but [...] troubled fancy, and a guilty Conscience; thus it [...] with Pashur, he was a very wicked man, and a bit [...] enemy to the Prophet Ieremy, and if there be none [...] fright and terrifie from abroad, rather than he [...] [Page 35] want it, he shall be a terror to himself, Ier. 20. 3, 4. he was his own bug bear, afraid of his own shadow; and truly this is a great plague and misery; he that is a terror to himself, can no more flee from terrors than he can flee from himself. O the effic [...]cy of Conscience! how doth it arrest the stoutest sinners, and make them tremble, when there is no visible ex­ternal cause of fear! Nemo▪ sejudice, nocens absolvitur.

1. Object. But may not a good man whose sins are pardoned be affrighted with his own fancies, and scared with his own imaginations?

Sol. No doubt he may, for there is a twofold fountain of fears, one in the body, another in the soul, one in the constitution▪ another in the consci­ence; it is the affliction and infelicity of many par­doned and gracious souls to be united and married to such distempered and ill habited bodies as shall afflict them without any real cause from within, and wound them by their own diseases and distempers, and these wounds can no more be prevented or cured by their reason or Religion, than any other bodily disease suppose an Ague or a Feaver can be so cured. Thus Physicians tell us when adust choler and melancholy overflows and abounds in the bo­dy,Fernel. Pathiol. lib. 2. c. 16. Corporis ha­bitus siccus & maci­lentus, aspectus incon­stans, horridus ac moe­stus, in morbis animi­metus & moestitia, taciturnitas, solitudo, inanis rerum commen­tatio somnus turbu­lentus, horrendis i [...] ­somniis fluctuans, & agitatus spectris re­rum nigrarum; &c. as in the Hypochondriacal distemper, &c. what sad effects it hath upon the mind as well as upon the body, there is not on­ly a sad and fearful aspect or countenance without, but sorrow, fear and afflicting thoughts with­in; this is a sore affliction to ma­ny good men whose Consciences are sprinkled with the bloud of Christ from guilt, but yet God [Page 36] sees good to clog them with such afflictions as this for their humiliation, and for the prevention of worse evils.

2. Object. But many bold and daring sinners are found, who notwithstanding all the guilt with which their consciences are loaded, can look dangers in the face without trembling, yea, they can look death it self the King of terrors in the face, with less fear than better men.

Sol. True, but the reason of that is from a spiritual judgment of God upon their hearts and consciences, whereby they are hardened, and seared as with an hot iron, 2. Tim. 4. 2. and so Conscience is disabled for the present, to do its office, it cannot put forth its efficacy and activity now, when it might be useful to their salvation, but it will do it to purpose hereafter when their case shall be remediless.

3. Cause.

3. We see what a forge of Fears a guilty Consci­ence is, and no less is the sin of Unbelief, the real and proper cause of most distracting and afflictive fears; so much as our Souls are empty of faith, they are in times of trouble filled with fear: We read of some that have died by no other hand but their own fears; but we never read of any that died by fear, who were once brought to live by faith: If men would but dig to the root of their fears, they should certainly find unbelief there, Matth. 8. 26. Why are ye fearful, Oye of little faith? The less faith still the more fear: Fear is generated by unbelief, and unbelief strengthened by fear, as in nature there is an observable [...] circular generation, vapours beget showers, and showers new vapours; so it is in things moral, and therefore all the skill in the world can never cure us of the disease of fear, till God first cure us of our unbe­lief: [Page 37] Christ therefore took the right method, to rid the disciples of their fear, by rebuking their unbelief. The remains of this sin in Gods own people is the cause and fountain of their fears, and more particularly to shew how fear is generated by unbelief, let a few par­ticulars be heedfully adverted.

1. Unbelief weakens and stumbles the assenting act of Faith, and thereby cuts off from the soul in a great measure its principal relief against dangers and troubles. It is the use and office of Faith to reallize to the Soul the invisible things of the world to come, and thereby encourage it against the fears and dan­gers of the present world: Thus Moses forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the King, for he endured, as seeing him that is invisible, Heb. 11. 27. If this assent­ting act of Faith be weakned or staggered in the soul, if once invisibles seem uncertainties, and visibles the only realities, no wonder we are so scared and fright­ed when these visible and sensible comforts are ex­posed and endangered, as they often are, and will be in this mutable world. That man must needs be afraid to stand his ground, that is not throughly perswaded the ground he stands on is firm and good; 'tis not to be wondred that men should tremble, who seem to feel the ground shake and reel under them.

2. Unbelief shuts up the refuges of the Soul in the Divine promises, and by leaving it without those refuges,multa fidem pro­missa levant. must needs leave it in the hands of fears and ter­rors. That which fortifies and emboldens a Christian in evil times, is his dependence upon God for protection, Psal. 143. 9. I flie unto thee to hide me. The cutting off of this retreat (which nothing but unbelief can do) deprives the soul of all those succours and supports [Page 38] which the promises afford, and consequently fills the heart with anxiety and fear.

3. Unbelief makes men negligent and careless in providing for troubles before they come, and so brings them by way of surprize upon them, and the more surprizing any evil is, the more frightful it is always found to be; we cannot think that Noah was so affrighted at the Flood when it began to swell above all the hills and mountains as all the rest of the world was, nor was there any reason that he should, having foreseen it by Faith, and made provision for it, Heb. 11. 7. By faith Noah being warned of God, prepared an Ark. August. decivit. Dei, lib. 1. c. 10. Augustine relates a very per­tinent and memorable story of Pau­linus Bishop of Nola, who was a very rich man, both in goods and grace, he had much of the world in his hands, but little of it in his heart, and it was well there was not; for the Goths a barba­rous people breaking into that City, like so many Devils fell upon the prey, those that trusted to the treasures which they had, were deceived and ruined by them; for the rich were put to tortures to confess where they had hid their moneys: This good Bishop fell into their hands and lost all he had, but was scarce moved at the loss, as appears by his prayer which my Author relates thus, Lord let me not be troubled for my gold and silver, thou knowest it is not my treasure, that I have laid up in heaven, according to thy command. I was warned of this judgment before it came, and provided for it, and where all my interest lies. Lord thou knowest.

Thus Mr. Bradford, when the Keepers wife came running into his Chamber suddenly, with words able to have put the most men in the world into a trem­bling posture, O Mr. Bradford, I bring you heavy ti­dings, [Page 39] to morrow you must be burned, and your chain is now buying; he put off his hat and said, Lord I thank thee I have looked for this a great while, it is not terrible to me, God make me worthy of such a mercy, see the benefit of a prospect of, and prepara­tion for sufferings.

4. Unbelief leaves our dearest interests and con­cerns in our own hands, it commits nothing to God, and consequently must needs fill the heart with distra­cting fears when eminent dangers threaten us. Rea­der, if this be thy case, thou wilt be a Magor missabib surrounded with terrours, whensoever thou shalt be surrounded with dangers and troubles. Believers in this as well as in many other things have the advan­tage of thee, that they have committed all that is precious and valuable to them, into the hands of God by Faith, to him they have committed the keeping of their souls, 1 Pet. 4. 19. and all their eternal con­cernments, 2 Tim. 1. 12. And these being put into safe hands, they are not distracted with fears about other matters of less value, but can trust them where they have intrusted the greater, and enjoy the quiet­ness and peace of a resigned Soul to God, Prov. 16. 3. but as for thee, thy life, thy liberty, yea, which is in­finitely more than all these things, thy Soul will lie upon thy hands in the day of trouble, and thou wilt not know what to do with them, nor which way to dispose of them; O these be the dreadful streights and frights that unbelief leaves men in, 'tis a foun­tain of Fears, and distractions. And indeed it can­not but distract and confound carnal men in whom it reigns and is in its full strength, when sad experi­ence shews us what fears and tremblings the very re­mains and relicts of this sin begets in the best men, who are not fully freed from it. If the unpurged re­licts [Page 40] of unbelief in them, can thus darken and cloud their evidences, thus greaten and multiply their dan­gers, if it can draw such sad and frightful conclusi­ons in their hearts, notwithstanding all the contrary experiences of their lives, as we see in that sad instance, 1 Sam. 27. 1. What panick fears, and unrelieved terrors must it put those men under, where it is in its full strength and dominion.

4. Cause.

Moreover, we shall find many of our Fears raised and provoked in us by the Promiscuous administrati­ons of providence in this world, when we read in Scripture, That There is one [...]vent to the righteous and to the wicked, and all things come alike to all, Eccles. 9. 2. That when the sword is drawn, God suffers it to cut off the righteous and the wicked, Ezek. 21. 3. The Sword makes no difference, where God hath made so great a difference by grace, it neither distinguishes faces, nor breasts, but is assoon sheath­ed in the bowels of the best, as of the worst of men; when we read how the same fire of Gods indignation, devours the green tree and the dry tree, Ezek. 20. 47. How the basket of good figs (the Embleme of the best men of those times) were carried into Baby­lon as well as the bad, Ier. 24. 5. How the flesh of Gods Saints hath been given for meat to the fowls of heaven, and to the beasts of the field, Psal. 97. 12. and how the wicked have devoured the man that is more righteous than himself as it is Habak. 1. 13. I say when we observe such things in Scripture, and find our observations confirmed by the accounts and histories of former and later ages, when we reflect up­on the unspeakable miseries and butcheries of those plain hearted and precious servants of Christ, the Al­bingenses and Waldenses, how they fell as a prey to [Page 41] their cruel adversaries notwithstanding the convin­cing simplicity and holiness of their lives, and all their fervent cries, and appeals to God, how the very flower of the reformed Protestant interest in France was cut off with more than barbarous inhumanity, so that the Streets were washed, and the Canals of Paris ran with their precious bloud.

What horrid and unparallelled tortures the servants of God felt in that cruel Massacre in Ireland, a history too tragical for a tender hearted Reader to stay long upon: And how in our own Land, the most eminent Ministers and Christians were sent to heaven in a fiery chariot in those doleful Marian day: I say when we read and consider such things as these, it rouzes our fears, and puts us into frights when we see our selves threatned with the same enemies and dangers; when the feet of them that carried out the dear servants of God in bloudy winding sheets to their graves, stand at the door to carry us forth next, if providence loose their chain, and give them a permission so to do; and our fears on this account are heightned by consi­dering and revolving these four things in our thoughts, which we are always more inclined to do, than the things that should fortifie our faith, and heighten our Christian courage; as,

1. We are very apt to consider that as the same race and kind of men that committed these outrages upon our brethren, are still in being and that their rage and malice is not abated in the least degree, but is as fierce and cruel as ever it was, Gal. 4. 29. As then he that was born after the flesh, perseouted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. So it was then, and just so it is still, the old enmity is en­tailed upon all wicked men from generation to gene­ration; multi adhuc sunt qui clavum sanguine [Page 42] Abelis rubentem adhuc circumferunt. Cain's club is to this day carried up and down the world stained with the bloud of Abel, as Bucholtzer speaks; 'tis a rooted antipathy, and it runs in a bloud, and will run as long as there are wicked men from whom and to whom it shall be propagated, and a devil in hell, by whom it will not fail to be exasperated and irritated.

2. We know also that nothing hinders the execu­tion of their wicked purposes against us, but the re­straints of providence; should God loose the chain, and give them leave to act forth the malice and rage that is in their hearts, no pity would be shewen by them, or could be rationally expected from them, Psal. 124. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. We live among Lions, and them that are set on fire of hell, Psal. 57. 4. the on­ly reason of our safety is this, that he who is the keep­er of the Lions is also the shepherd of the sheep.

3. We find that God hath many times let loose these Lions upon his people, and given them leave to tear his lambs in pieces, and suck the bloud of his Saints; how well soever he loves them, yet hath he often delivered them into the hands of his enemies, and suffered them to perpetuate and act the greatest cruelties upon them; the best men have suffered the worst things, and the Histories of all ages have deli­vered down unto us the most tragical relations of their barbarous usage.

4. We are also conscious to our selves how fa [...] short we come in holiness, innocency, and spiritual excellency of those excellent persons who have suffer­ed these things, and therefore have no ground to ex­pect more favour from providence than they found [...] we know also there is no promise in the Scriptures t [...] which they had not as good a claim and title as ou [...]selves: With us are found as great, yea, greater sin [Page 43] than in them, and therefore have no reason to please our selves with the fond imaginations of extraordina­ry exemptions. If we think these evils shall not come in our days, 'tis like many of them thought so too, and yet they did, and we may find it quite otherwise, Lam. 4. 12. Who would have thought that the enemy should have entered in at the gates of Ierusalem? The revolving of these and such like considerations in our thoughts, and mixing our own unbelief with them creates a world of fears even in good men, till by resignation of all to God, and acting faith upon the promises that assure us of the sanctification of all our troubles, as that, Rom. 8. 28. Gods presence with us in our troubles, as that Psal. 91. 15. his moderation of our troubles to that measure and degree in which they are supportable, Isai. 27. 8. And the safe and comfortable outlet and final deliverance from them all at last, according to that in Rev. 7. 17. We do at last recover our hearts out of the hands of our fears a­gain, and compose them to a quiet and sweet sa­tisfaction in the wise and holy pleasure of our God.

5. Cause.

5. Our immoderate love of life, and the comforts and conveniencies thereof may be assigned as a proper and real ground and cause of our sinful fears, when the dangers of the times threaten the one or other: did we love our lives less, we should fear and trem­ble less than we do. It is said of those renowned Saints, Rev. 12. 11. They overcame by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their Testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the Death.

They overcame, not only the fury of their ene­mies without them, but their sinful fears within them; and this victory was atchieved by their mortification, to the inordinate and immoderate love of life, cer­tainly [Page 44] their own fears had overcome them, if they had not first overcome the love of life: It was not therefore without very great reason that our Lord injoyned it upon all his disciples and followers, to hate their own lives, Luke 14. 26. not absolutely, but in comparison and competition with him, (i. e.) to love it in so remiss a degree, as to slight and under­value it as a poor low thing in such a comparison, he foresaw what sharp tryals and sufferings were coming upon them, and he knew if the fond and immode­rate love of life were not overcome and mortified in them, it would make them warp and bend under such temptations.

This was it that freed Paul from slavish fears, and made him so magnanimous and undaunted; indeed he had less fear upon his spirit though he was to suffer those hard and sharp things in his own person, than his friends had who only Sympathized with him, and were not farther concerned than by their own love and pity: He spake like a man who was rather a spectator than a sufferer, Acts 20. 24, 25. none of these things move me, saith he, Great soul! not moved with bonds and afflictions? how did he attain so great courage and constancy of mind in such deep and dreadful sufferings? It was enough to have moved the stoutest man in the world, yea, and to have re­moved the resolutions of any that had not loved Christ better than his own life; but life was a trifle to him in comparison with Jesus Christ, for so he tells us in the next words, I count not my life dear unto me; q. d. 'Tis a low priz'd commodity in my eyes, not worth the saving or regarding on such sinful terms: O how many have parted with Christ, peace, and eternal life, for fear of losing that which Paul regar­ded not. And if we bring our thoughts closer to the [Page 45] matter, we shall soon find that this is a fountain o [...] fears in times of danger, and that from this excessive love of life, we are rack'd and tortured with ten thou­sand terrors. For,

1. Life is the greatest and nearest interest men naturally have in this world, and that which wraps up all other inferiour interests in it self, Iob 2. 4. Skin for skin, and all that a man hath, will he give for his life. It is a real truth, though it came from the mouth of the father of lies; afflictions never touch the quick till they touch the life; liberty, estates, and other accommodations in this world receive their va­lue and estimation from hence, if life be cut off these accidents perish, and are of no account. Gen. 25. 32. Behold, I am at the point to die, (said Esau) and what profit shall this birthright do to me?

2. Life being naturally the dearest interest of men in this world, the richest treasure, and most beloved thing on earth to a natural man; that which strikes at, and endangers life, must in his eyes be the greatest evil that can befall him; on this account death be­comes terrible to men, yea, as Iob calls it, the King of Terrors, Iob 18. 14. The black prince or the prince of clouds and darkness, as some translate those words: Yea, so terrible is death upon this account, that the very fear of it hath sometimes precipitated men into the hands of it, as we sometimes observe in times of pestilence,Nonnullos ob timorem morte subitanea peri­isse refert Galenus. Quod igitur homo, ti­more mortis quae est terribilissima, ex sententia Aristotleis alio­rum (que) penè omnium, moriatur, mirandum non est. Fuga mali, ipsum interdum accersit, quod liquet exemplis eorum, quorum metus mortem à judice ipsis designatam prevenit. Stern. de mort. p. 167. the excessive fear of the Plague hath indu­ced it.

[Page 46] 3. Though death be terrible in any shape, in the mildest form it can appear in; yet a violent and bloudy death by the hands of cruel and merciless men, is the most terrible form that death can appear in; 'tis now the King of terrors indeed, in the most ghastly representation and frightful form, in its scarlet Robes, and terrifying formalities. In a violent death all the barbarous cruelty that the wit of our enemies can in­vent, or their malice inflict, is mingled together; in a violent death are many deaths contrived into one, and it oftentimes approaches men by such slow and deliberate paces, that they feel every tread of [...] foot as it advanceth towards them. Moriatur, ut sentiat se mori, Let him so die, (said the Tyrant) that he may feel himself to die, yea, and how he dies by inch-meal or slow and lingring degrees; this is ex­ceeding frightful, especially to those that are of a more soft and tender nature and temper, who must needs be struck through with the terrours of death, except the Lord arm them against it with the assu­rance of a better life, and sweeten these bitter appre­hensions by the foretasts of it. This is enough of put even sanctified nature into a consternation, and make a very gracious heart to sink, unless it be so upheld by Divine strength and comfort: And hence come ma­ny, very many of our fears, and terrors, especially when the same enemies that have been accustomed to this bloudy work, shall be found confederating and designing again to break in upon us, and act over [...] ­gain as much cruelty as ever they have done upon ou [...] brethren in times past.

6. Cause.

To conclude, many of our sinful fears and con­sternations flow from the influences of Satan upon our phantasies. They say winds, and storms are of [...] [Page 47] times raised by Satan both by sea and land, and I ne­ver doubted but the Prince of the power of the air by Gods permission can, and often doth put the world into great frights and disturbances by such tempests, Iob 1. 19. He can raise the loftiest winds, pour down roaring showers, rattle in the air with fearful claps of thunder, and scare the lower world with terrible flashes of lightning. And I doubt not but he hath by the same permission a great deal of influ­ence and power upon the fansies and passions of men. and can raise more terrible storms and tempests within [...] [...]han ever we heard or felt without us: he can by leave from God approach our Phantasies, disturb and trouble them exceedingly by forming frightful Idea's there; for Satan not only works upon men mediately by the ministry of their external senses, but by reason of his Spiritual angelical nature, he can have immediate access to the internal sense also, as appears by diabolical dreams, and by practising upon that power of the Soul, he influences the pasti­ons of it, and puts it under very dreadful apprehen­sions and consternations: Now if Satan can provoke and exasperate the fury and rage of wicked men, as it is evident he can do, Rev. 2. 10. and so disturb our Fansies and influence our passions, as there is no reason to doubt but by leave from God he can do, as well as he can go to the magazines and store-houses of thunder, lightnings, and storms. O what inward storms of Fear, can he shake our hearts withal, and if God give him but a permission how ready will he be to do it? seeing it is so conducible to his design: for by putting men into such frights he at once weakens their hands in duty as is plain from his attempt this way upon Nehemiah, Chap. 6. 13. and if he prevail there, he drives them into the snares, and trains of [Page 48] his temptations, as the fisherman and fowler do the birds and fishes into their nets, when once they have flusht and frighted them out of their coverts. And thus you have some account of the principal and true causes of our Sinful Fears.

CHAP. V.

Laying open the sinful and lamentable effects of slavish and inordinate Fear both in car­nal and regenerate persons.

SECT. I.

HAving taken a view in the former Chapters of the Kinds and Causes of Fear, and seen what lies at the root of Slavish Fear and both breeds and feeds it, what fruit can we expect from such a cursed Plant, but gall and wormwood, fruit as bitter as death it self? Let us then in the next place examine and well consider these following and deplorable effects of Fear to excite us to apply our selves the more con­cernedly to those directions that follow in the close of this Treatise for the cure of it. And,

1. Effect.

The first Effect of this sinful and exorbitant passion, is distraction of mind and thoughts in duty; both Cicero and Quintilian will have the word tumultus, a tumult to come from timor multus, much fear, 'tis a compound of those two words; much fear raises great uproars and tumults in the Soul, and puts all in­to hurries and distractions, so that we cannot attend [Page 49] upon any service of God, with profit or comfort. It was therefore a very necessary mercy that was request­ed of God, Luk. 1. 74. That we being delivered out of the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear. For it is impossible to serve God without distractions, till we can serve him without the slavish fear of ene­mies. The reverential fear of God is the greatest [...]pur to duty, and choicest help in it, but the distra­cting fears of men will either wholly divert us from our duty, or destroy the comfort and benefit of our duties; 'tis a deadly snare of the Devil, to hinder all comfortable intercourse with God.

It is very remarkable, that when the Apostle was gi­ving his advice to the Corinthians, about marriage in those times of persecution and difficulty, he com­mends to them a single life as most eligible; where it may be without other sinful inconveniencies, and that principally for this reason, That they might attend upon the Lord without distractions, 1 Cor. 7. 35. He foresaw what streights, cares, and fears must unavoi­dably distract them in such times that were most clog­ged and incumbred with families, and relations; when a man should be thinking, O what shall I do now to to get my doubts and fears resolved about my interest in Christ? How may I so behave my self in my suffer­ings as to credit Religion, and not become a scandal and stumbling stone to others? His thoughts are taken [...]p with other cares and fears! O what will become of [...] wife and poor little ones! what shall I do with [...]hem, and for them, to secure them, from danger?

I doubt not but it is a great design of the Devil to [...]eep us in continual alarms and frights, and to puzzle [...]ur heads and hearts with a thousand difficulties which [...]ossibly may never befall us, or if they do, shall ne­ [...]er prove so fatal to us as we fancy them, and all this [Page 50] to unfit us for our present duties, and destroy our comfort therein; for if by frights and terrors of mind he can but once distract our thoughts, he gains three great points upon us, to our unspeakable loss.

1. Hereby he will cut off the freedom and sweet­ness of our communion with God in duties, and what an empty shell will the best duties be, when this ker­nel is wormed out by such a subtle artifice? Prayer as Damascen aptly expresses it, is [...] the ascension of the mind or soul to God; but distracti­on clips its wings; he can never offer up his soul and thoughts to God, that hath not the possession of them himself; and he that is under distracting fears pos­sesseth not himself. The life of all communion with God in Prayer, consists in the harmony that is betwixt our hearts and words, and both with the will of God, this harmony is spoiled by distractions, and so Satan gains that point.

2. But this is not all he gains, and we lose by di­stracting fears; for as they cut off the freedom and sweetness of our intercourse with God in prayer, so they cut off the Soul from the succours and re­liefs it might otherwise draw from the promises. We find when the Israelites were in great bondage, where­in their minds were distracted with fears and sorrows, they regarded not the supporting promises of delive­rance sent them by Moses, Exod. 6. 9. David had an express and particular promise of the Kingdo [...] from the mouth of God, which must needs include his deliverance out the hand of Saul, and all his stra­tagems to destroy him; but yet when eminent ha­zards were before his eyes, he was afraid, and tha [...] fear betrayed the succours from the promise, so tha [...] it drew a quite contrary inclusion, 1 Sam. 27. 1. [...] shall one day perish by the hand of Saul: And again [...] [Page 51] is at the same point, Psal. 116. 11. All men are liars, not excepting Samuel himself who had assured him of the Kingdom. This is always the property and na­ture of fear (as I shewed before) to make men distrust the best security when they are in eminent peril: But Oh what a mischief is this! to make us suspicious of the promises which are our chief relief and support in times of trouble: Our fears will unfit us for prayer, they will also shake the credit of the promises with us, and so great is the damage we receive both ways, that it were better for us to lose our two eyes, than two such advantages in trouble. But,

3. This is not all, by our present fears we lose the benefit and comfort of all our past experiences, and the singular relief we might have from all that faith­fulness and goodness of God which our eyes have seen in former streights and dangers, the present fear clouds them all, Isai. 51. 12, 13. Men and dangers are so much minded, that God is forgotten, even the God that hath hitherto preserved us, though our for­mer fears told us, the enemy was daily ready to de­vour us. All these sweet reliefs are cut off from us by our distracting fears, and that at a time when we have most need of them.

2. Effect.

Dissimulation and Hypocrisie is the fruit of slavish Fear; distraction you see is bad enough, but dissimu­lation is worse than distraction, and yet as bad as it is, fear hath driven good men into this snare; it will make even an upright soul warp and bend from the rules of that integrity and candor which should be in­separable at all times from a Christian: Of whom (saith God to his Israel) hast thou been afraid, that [Page 52] thou hast lied, and hast not remembred me? God finds falshood, and charges it upon Fear, q. d. I know it was against the resolutions of my peoples hearts thus to dissemble, this certainly is the effect of a fright; Who is he that hath scared you into this evil? It was Abraham's fear that made him dissemble to the reproach of his Religion, Gen. 20. 2, 11. And in­deed it was but an odd sight to see an heathen so schooling and reproving great Abraham about it as he there doth.

It was nothing but fear that drew his son Isaac into the like snare, Gen. 26. 7. And it was fear that over­came Peter against his promise as well as principle to say concerning his dear Saviour, I know not the man, Matth. 26. 69. Had Abraham at that time remem­bred, and acted his Faith freely upon what the Lord said to him, Gen. 17. 1. Fear not Abraham, I am thy shield, he had escaped both the sin and shame into which he fell, but even that great believer was foiled by his own fears; and certainly this is a great evil, a complicated mischief. For,

1. By these falls and scandals, Religion is made vile and contemptible in the eyes of the world, it reflects with much reproach upon God and his promises, as if his word were not sufficient security for us to rely upon in times of trouble, as if it were safer trusting to our wit, yea, to sin; than to the Promises.

2. It greatly weakens the hands of others, and proves a sore discouragement to them in their trials, to see their brethren faint for fear, and ashamed to own their principles; sometimes it hath this mischievous effect, but it is always improved by Satan and wicked men to this purpose. And,

3. It will be a terrible blow and wound to our own Consciences, for such flaws in our integrity we may [Page 53] be kept waking and sighing many a night; O see the mischiefs of a timorous and faint spirit!

3. Effect.

Slavish Fears of the Creature exceedingly streng­then our temptations in times of danger, and make them very efficacious and prevalent upon us. Prov. 29. 25. The fear of man brings a snare. Satan spreads the net, but we are not within its reach, till our own fears drive us into it; the recoyling of our spirits from some eminent danger, may cause the pulse of a true Christian to intermit and faulter, how regular soever it beats at other times, this will cause great trepidation and timidity in men that are sincere and upright, and that is it that brings the snare over their souls. Aaron was a good man, and Idolatry he knew to be a great sin, yet fear prevailed with that good man to give too much way to that great evil, Exod. 32. 22. Thou knowest the people that they are set upon mischief, saith he in his own excuse, in the matter of the golden calf, q. d. Lord I durst do no otherwise at that time, the people were violently and passionately set upon it; had I resisted them, it might have cost me dear.

It was fear that prevailed with Origen to yield so far as he did in offering incense to the Idol, the con­sideration of which fact brake his heart to pieces. It was nothing but fear that made David play the fool, and act so dishonourably as he did, I Sam. 21. 12. Fear is a snare in which Satan hath caught as many souls as in any other of his stratagems and toyls what­soever. It were easy to give instances, so many and so sad, as would inlarge this head even to tediousness, but I chuse rather to come to the particulars wherein [Page 54] the danger of this snare of the Devil consists. And,

1. Herein lies the ensnaring danger of sinful fear, that it drives men out of their proper station, out of their place and duty, beside which there is none to be found but what is Satans ground. The subtle enemy of our salvation is aware that we are out of Gun shot, be­yond his reach, whilst we abide with God in the way of our duty, that the Lord is with us, whilst we are with him, and there is no attempting our ruine under the wings of his protection. If ever therefore he mean­eth to do any thing upon us, he must get us off that ground, and from under those wings, and there is nothing like fear to do this; then we are as the birds that are wandring from their nests, Prov. 27. 8. or like Shimei out of his limits.

2. Fear is usually the first passion in the soul that beats a parley with the enemy, and treats with the tempter about terms of rendition; and as the French proverb is, The Castle that parlies, is half wone. 'Tis fear that consults with flesh and bloud, whilst faith is ingaged with God for the supply of strength to en­dure the siege; we have a sad and doleful instance of this in Spira, he tells us how his own fears betrayed him, by parlying with the tempter, for thus Mr. Ba­con in the History of his life records the occasion of his fall. ‘Whilst Spira was tossing upon the restless waves of doubts, without Guide to trust to, or Ha­ven to flee to for succour; on the sudden, Gods spirit assisting, he felt a calm, and began to di­scourse with himself in this manner: Why wan­derest thou thus in uncertainties? Unhappy man! cast away fear, put on thy shield of faith; where is thy wonted courage, thy goodness, thy constancy? Remember that Christs glory lies at the stake, suffer then without fear, and he will defend thee, he will [Page 55] tell thee what thou shalt answer; he can beat down all danger, bring thee out of prison, raise thee from the dead: consider Peter in the dungeon, the Mar­tyrs in the fire, &c.

‘Now was Spira in reasonable quiet, being resol­ved to yield to those weighty reasons; yet holding it wisdom to examine all things, he consults also with flesh and bloud; thus the battel renews, and the flesh begins in this manner: Be well advised, fond man, consider reasons on both sides, and then judge, how canst thou thus overween thine own sufficiency, as thou neither regardest the examples of thy progenitors, nor the judgment of the whole Church; dost thou not consider what misery this days rashness will bring thee unto? Thou shalt lose all thy substance gotten with so much care and travel, thou shalt undergo the most exquisite torments that malice it self can devise, thou shalt be counted an Heretick of all, and to close up all, thou shalt die shamefully. What thinkest thou of the loathsome stinking Dungeon, the bloudy Ax, the burning Faggot? Are they delightful, &c. Thus through fear he first parlied with the Tempter, consulted with flesh and bloud, and at last fainted and yielded.’

3. 'Tis fear that makes men impatient of waiting Gods time and method of deliverance, and so preci­pitates the soul, and drives it into the snare of the next temptation, Isai. 51. 14. The Captive exile hasteth to be delivered out of the pit. any way or means of escape that comes next to hand, saith Fear, is better than to lie here in the pit; and when the soul is thus prepared by its own fears, it becomes an easy prey to the next temptation, by all which you see the mischief that comes by fear in times of danger.

4. Effect.

4. Fear naturally produceth Pusillanimity, and cowardliness in men, a poor low spirit, that present­ly faints and yields upon every slight assault; it extin­guisheth all Christian courage and magnanimity where ever it prevails, and therefore you find it joyn­ed frequently in the Scriptures with discouragement, Deut. 1. 21. Fear not, neither be discouraged with fainting and trembling. Deut. 20. 3. Let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble; with dis­mayedness. Deut. 31. 6. and faint heartedness, Isai. 7. 4. these are the effects and consequents of sinful fear: And how dangerous a thing it is to have our courage extinguished, and faintness of heart prevail upon us in a time when we have the greatest need and use of courage and our perseverance, peace and eternal happiness rely and depend so much upon it, let all seri­ous Christians judge. 'tis sad to us and dishonourable to Religion to have the hearts of women, as it's said of Egypt, Isai. 19. 16. when we should play the men as the Apostle exhorts us, 1 Cor. 16. 13. We find in all ages those that have manifested most courage for Christ in time of trial, have been those whose Faith hath surmounted Fear, and whose hearts were above all discouragements from this world.

Such a man was Basil, as appears by his answer to Valens the Emperor who tempting him with offers of preferment, received this answer, Offer these things, said he, to children; and when he threatned him with grievous sufferings, he replied, threaten these things to your purple gallants that give themselves to plea­sure, and are afraid to die.

And this was the spirit of courage and magnanimity [Page 57] with which the generality of the Primitive Christians were animated, they feared not the faces of Tyrants, they shrunk not from the most cruel torments, and it redounded not a little to the credit of Christianity, when one of Iulians Nobles present at the tormenting of Marcus Bishop of Arethusa told the Apostate to his face, We are ashamed O Emperor, the Christi­ans laugh at your cruelty, and grow more resolute by it. So Lactantius also testifies of them, our wo­men and children, saith he, not to speak of men, o­vercome their torments, and the fire cannot fetch so much as a sigh from them. If carnal fear once get the ascendant over us, all our courage and resolution will flag, and melt away, we may suffer out of una­voidable necessity, but shall never honour Christ and Religion by our sufferings.

5. Effect.

Carnal fear is the very root of Apostacy, it hath made thousands of professors to faint and fall away in the hour of temptation, it is not so much from the fury of our enemies without, as from our own fears within, that temptations become victorious over us; from the beginning of fears Christ dates the begin­ning apostacy, Matth. 24. 9, 10. Then shall they de­liver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you, and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name sake, and then shall many be offended. When troubles and dangers come to an height then fears begin to work at an height too, and then is the critical hour; fears are high, and faith is low; temptation strong, and re­sistance weak. Satan knocks at the door, and fear opens it, and yields up the soul to him, except speci­al aid and assistance come in seasonably from heaven, [Page 58] so long as we can profess Religion without any great hazard of life, liberty, or estates, we may shew much zeal and forwardness in the ways of godliness, but when it comes to the sharpes, to resisting unto bloud, few will be found to own and assert it openly in the face of such dangers. The first retreat is usually made from a free and open to a close and concealed practice of Religion; not opening our windows as Daniel did, to shew we care not who knows we dare worship our God and are not ashamed of our duties, but hiding our principles and practi­ces with all the art and care imaginable, reckoning it well if we can escape danger by letting fall our profession which might expose us to it: But if the in­quest go on, and we cannot be secured any longer under this refuge, we must comply with false worship, and give some open signal that we do so, or else be marked out for ruine; then saith Fear, give a little more ground and retreat to the next security, which is to comply seemingly with that which we do not allow, hoping God will be merciful to us, and ac­cept us if we keep our hearts for him, though we are forced thus to dissemble and hide our principles. Ea­mus ad communem errorem, said Calderinus, when going to the Mass, Let us go to the common er­ror; and as Seneca adviseth about worshipping the Roman Gods, in animi religione non habeat, sed in actibus fingat, let us make a semblance and shew of worshipping them, though our hearts give no Reli­gious respect to them: But if still the temptation hunt us further, and we come to be more narrowly sifted, and put to a severer Test, by subscribing con­trary Articles, or renouncing our former avowed principles, and that upon penalty of death, and loss of all that is dear to us in this World; now nothing [Page 59] in all the world hazards our eternal salvation, as our own fears will do; this is like to be the rock on which we shall split all, and make an horrible shipwrack both of truth and peace: This was the case of Cranmer, whose fears caused him to subscribe against the dictates of his own Conscience, and cowardly to betray the known truth, and indeed there is no temptation in the world that hath overthrown so many as that which hath been backt and edged with fear; the love of Pre­ferments and honours hath slain its thousands, but fear of sufferings its ten thousands.

6. Effect.

Sinful Fear puts men under great bondage of Spi­rit, and makes Death a thousand times more terrible and intolerable than it would otherways be to us. You Read of some, Heb. 2. 15. Who through the fear of death were all their life time subject to bondage, (i. e.) It kept them in a miserable anxiety and perplexity of mind, like slaves that tremble at the whip which is held over them: Thus many thousands live under the lash, so terrible is the name of death, especially a vio­lent death, that they are not able with patience to hear [...] mentioned; which gave the ground of that saying, Praestat semel, quam semper mori, Its better to die once than to be dying always. And surely there is not a more miserable life any poor creature can live, than such a trembling life as this is. For,

1. Such a bondage as this destroys all the comfort and pleasure of life, no pleasure can grow or thrive under the shadow of this cursed Plant, Nil ei beatum cui semper aliquis terror impendeat, Cicer [...] Tusc. Q. 15. saith Cicero. All the com­forts we possess in this World are imbittered by it. [Page 60] 'Tis storied of Democles a flatterer of Dionysius the Tyrant, that he told him he was the happiest man in the World, having Wealth, Power, Majesty, and abundance of all things: Dionysius sets the Flatte­rer in all his own pomp at a Table furnished with all dainties, and attended upon as a King, but with an heavy sharp sword hanging by a single Horse hair right over his head, this made him quake and trem­ble so that he could neither eat nor drink but desired to be freed from that estate: The design was to con­vince him how miserable a life they live who live under the continual terrors of impending death and ruine. It was a sore judgment which God threatned against them in Ier. 5. 6. A Lion out of the forrest shall slay them, and a Wolf of the evening shall spoil them, a Leopard shall watch over their Cities, every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces. What a miserable life must those people live, who could not stir out of the City, but they presently were seized by Lions, Wolves, and Leopards, that watch'd over them, and lurked in all the Avenewes to make them a prey, and yet this is more tolerable than for a mans own fear to watch continually over him.

2. And yet I could wish this were the worst of it, and that our Fears destroyed no better comforts than the natural comforts of this life; but alas, they also destroy our spiritual comforts which we might have from Gods promises, and our own and others experi­ences, which are incomparably the sweetest pleasures men have in this World: But as no creature comfort is pleasant, so no promise relishes like it self to him that lives in this bondage of Fear; when the terrors of death are great, the consolations of the Almighty are small.

In the written word are found all sorts of refreshing [Page 61] strengthening, and heart-reviving promises, prepa­red by the wisdom and care of God for our relief in the days of darkness and trouble; promises of sup­port under the heaviest burdens and pressures, Isai. 41. 10. Fear not, for I am with thee, be not dismay­ed, for I am thy God, I will strengthen thee, yea, I will help thee, yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. A promise able to make the most timorous and trembling soul to shout with the joy of men in harvest, or as they that divide the spoil.

There are found the encouraging promises of de­fence and protection, Isa. 27. 2, 3. and Isa. 33. 2. promises that lead us into the Almighty power of God, and put us under the wings of his care in time of danger.

Promises of moderation and mitigation in the day of sharp affliction that we may be able to bear it, Isai. 27. 8. 1 Cor. 10. 13.

Promises of deliverance out of troubles, if the malice of man bring us into trouble, the mercy of God will assuredly bring us out. Psal. 91. 14, 15. and Ps. 125. 3.

And which is most comfortable of all the rest, pro­mises to Sanctifie and bless our troubles to our good, so that they shall not only cease to be hurtful, but by vertue of the promise, become exceeding beneficial to us. Isa. 27. 9. Rom. 8. 28.

All these promises are provided by our tender Fa­ther for us against a day of straits and fears; and be­cause he knew our weakness, and how apt our fears would be to make us suspect our security by them, he hath for the performance of them, engaged his wisdom, power, care, faithfulness, and unchangea­bleness, 2 Pet. 2. 9. Isai. 27. 2, 3. 2 Chron. 16. 9. 1 Cor. 10. 13. Isai. 43. 1, 2. In the midst of such [Page 62] promises so sealed how chearful and magnanimous should we be in the worst times? And say as David, Psal. 49. 5. Why should I fear in the day of evil? Let those that have no God to flee to, no promise to re­ly upon, let them fear in the day of evil, I have no cau [...]e to do so. But even from these most comforta­ble refuges in the promises, our own Fears beat us, we are so scared that we mind them not, so as to draw encouragement, resolution, and courage from them. Thus the Shields of the mighty are vilely castaway.

So for all the choice records of the Saints experi­ences in all former troubles and distresses; God hath by a singular providence, (aiming at our relief in future distresses,) preserved them for us; if danger threaten us, we may turn to the recorded experiences his people have left us, of the strange and mighty in­fluence of his providence upon the hearts of their ene­mies, to shew them favour, Gen. 31. 29. Psal. 106. 46. Ier. 15. 11.

There also are found the ancient Rolls and Records of the admirable methods of his peoples deliverance, contrived by his infinite and unsearchable wisdom for them, when all their own thoughts have been at a loss, and their understandings posed and staggered. Exod. 15. 6. 2 Chron. 20. 12, 15. 2 Kings 19. 3, 7.

There are the recorded experiences of Gods un­spotted faithfulness, which never failed any soul that durst trust himself in its arms. Mica. 6. 4, 5. Ioshuah 7. 9.

There also are to be found the Records of his tender and most fatherly care for his children, who have been to him as a peculiar treasure in times of danger. Psal 40. 17. Deut. 32. 10, 11, 12. Isai. 49. 16. Iob 36. 7. 2. Chron. 16. 9.

All these and many more supports and cordials are [Page 63] made ready to our hand and provided for a day of trouble; but alas, to what purpose, if our own fears, so transport us that we can neither apply them, nor so much as calmly ponder and consider them.

3. To conclude, by these Fears we are deprived of those manifold advantages we might gain by the calm and composed meditations of our own death, and the change it will make upon us; could we sit down in peace, and meditate in a familiar way upon death; could we look with a composed and well set­led mind into our own graves, and not be scared and frighted with the thoughts of death, and startle when­ever we take it, (though but in our thoughts) by the cold hand: To what seriousness would those meditati­ons frame us? And what abundance of evils would they prevent in our conversations? The sprinkling of dust upon new writing, prevents many a blot and blur in our books or letters; and could we thus sprinkle the dust of the Grave upon our minds, it would prevent many a sin and miscarriage in our words and actions: But there is no profit or advan­tage redounding to us either from promises, experi­ences, or death it self when the soul is discomposed and put into confusion by its own fears. And thus you see some of those many mischievous effects of your own fears.

CHAP. VI.

Prescribing the rules to cure our Sinful Fears, and prevent these sad and woful effects of them.

SECT. I.

WE are now come to the most difficult part of the work, viz. The Cure, of the sinful and slavish fear of Creatures in times of danger, which if it might through the blessing of God be effected, we might live at hearts ease in the midst of all our ene­mies and troubles, and like the Sun in the Heavens, keep on our steady course in the darkest and gloomiest day: But before I come to the particular Rules, it will be necessary for the prevention of mistakes, to lay down three useful cautions about this matter.

1. Caution.

Understand that none but those that are in Christ are capable to improve the following Rules to their advantage. The security of our souls is the great ar­gument used by Christ to extinguish our fears of them that can kill the Body, Matth. 10. 28. But if the Soul must unavoidably perish when the Body doth, if it must drop into hell before the Body be laid in the grave: If he that kills the body doth by the same stroak cut off the Soul from all the means and possi­bilities of mercy and happiness for ever; what can be offered in such a case, to relieve a man against fear and trembling.

2. Caution.

Expect not a perfect cure of your Fears in this life; whilst there are enemies and dangers, there will be some fears working in the best hearts: If our Faith could be perfected, our Fears would be perfectly cured; but whilst there is so much weakness in our Faith, there will be too much strength in our Fears.

And for those who are naturally timorous, who have more of this passion in their constitution than other men have; and those in whom melancholy is a rooted and chronical disease; it will be hard for them to­tally to rid themselves of fears and dejections, though in the use of such helps and means as follow, they may be greatly relieved against the tyranny of them, and enabled to possess their souls in much more tran­quillity and comfort.

3. Caution.

Whosoever expects the benefit of the following Prescriptions and Rules, must not think the Reading or bare remembring them will do the work; but he must work them into his heart by believing and fixed meditation, and live in the daily practice of them. It is not our opening of our case to a Physician, nor his Prescriptions and written directions that will cure a man, but he must resolve to take the bitter and nauseous potions how much soever he loath it, to ab­stain from hurtful diet, how well soever he loves it, if ever he expect to be a sound and healthful man. So it is in this case also. These things premised the

1. Rule.

The first Rule to relieve us against our Slavish Fears, Is seriously to consider, and more throughly to study the Covenant of Grace, within the blessed Clasp and Bond whereof all believers are. I think the clear understanding of the Nature, Extent, and Stability of the Covenant, and of our interest therein, would go a great way in the cure of our sinful and slavish Fears.

A Covenant is more than a naked promise, in the Covenant, God hath graciously consulted our weak­ness, fears, and doubts, and therefore proceeds with us in the highest way of solemnity, confirming his Promises by Oath, Heb. 6. 13, 17. and by Seals, Rom. 4. 11. Putting himself under the most solemn­ties and engagements that can be, to his people, that from so firm a ratification of the Covenant with us, we might have strong consolation, Heb. 6. 18. He hath so ordered it, that it might afford strong sup­ports, and the most reviving cordials to our faint and and timorous Spirits, in all the plunges of trouble both from within, and from without. In the Co­venant God makes over himself to his people, to be unto them a God, Ier. 31. 33. Heb. 8. 10. Where­in the Lord bestows himself in all his Glorious Essen­tial properties upon us, to the end that whatsoever his Almighty power, Infinite wisdom, and Incom­prehensible mercy can afford for our protection, support, deliverance, direction, pardon, or refresh­ment; we might be assured shall be faithfully per­formed to us in all the straits, fears, and exigencies of our lives. This God expects we should improve by Faith, as the most sovereign antidote against all [Page 67] our Fears in this world. Isaiah 43. 1, 2. Thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel; fear not, for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name, thou art mine; when thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee, &c. Isai. 41. 10. Fear not, for I am with thee, be not dismaied, for I am thy God.

And if thou Reader, be within the bond of this Covenant, thou mayest surely find enough there to quiet thy heart, whatever the matter or ground of thy fears be: If God be thy Covenant God, he will be with thee in all thy streights, wants and troubles, he will never leave, nor forsake thee. From the Cove­nant it was that David encouraged himself against all his troubles. 2. Sam. 23. 5. Although my house be not so with God, yet hath he made with me an ever­lasting Covenant, well ordered in all things and sure; and this is all my salvation, and all my desire, though he make it not to grow. He could fetch all reliefs, all comforts, all salvations out of it, and why cannot we? He desired no more for the support of his heart; this is all my desire; and sure if we understood and belie­ved it as he did, we could desire no more to quiet and comfort our hearts than what this Covenant affords us. For,

1. Are we afraid what our enemies will do? We know we are in the midst of Potent, Politick, and enraged enemies; we have heard what they have done, and see what they are preparing to do again; we tremble to think what bloudy Tragedies are like to be acted over again in the World by their cruel hands: But O what heroick and noble acts of Faith should the Covenant of thy God enable thee to exert amidst all these fears? If God be thy God, then thou hast an Almighty God on thy side, and that is enough [Page 68] to extinguish all these Fears, Psal. 118. 6. The Lord is on my side, I will not fear what man can do unto me. Your fears come in the name of man, but your help in the name of the Lord: Let them plot, threaten, yea, and smite too; God is a shield to all that fear him, and if God be for us, who can be against us?

2. Are we afraid what God will do? Fear it not, your God will do nothing against your good; think not that he may forget you, it cannot be; sooner may a tender mother forget her sucking child, Isai. 49. 15. no, no, He withdraweth not his eye from the Righteous, Iob 36. 7. His eyes are continually upon all the dangers and wants of your Souls and Bodies, there is not a danger or an enemy stirring against you, but his eye is upon it. 2 Chron. 16. 9.

Are you afraid he will forsake and cast you off? 'Tis true, your sins have deserved he should do so, but he hath secured you fully against that fear in his Co­venant, Ier. 32. 40. I will not turn away from them, to do them good. All your fears of Gods forgetting or forsaking you, spring out of your ignorance of the Covenant.

3. Are you afraid what you shall do? 'Tis usual for the people of God to propose difficult cases to themselves, and put startling questions to their own hearts; and there may be an excellent use of them, to rouze them out of security, put them upon the search and tryal of their conditions and estates, and make preparation for the worst; but Satan usually improves it to a quite contrary end, to deject, affright, and discourage them. O if fiery trials should come, if my liberty and life come once to be toucht in ear­nest, I fear I shall never have strength to go on a step farther in the way of Religion: I am afraid I shall faint in the first encounter, I shall deny the words of [Page 69] the Holy One, make shipwrack of Faith and a good Conscience in the first gust of temptation. I can hear, and pray, and profess; but I doubt I cannot burn, or bleed, or lie in a dungeon for Christ. If I can scarce run with footmen in the land of peace, how do I think to contend with Horses in the swellings of Iordan?

But yet all these are but groundless fears, either forged in thy own misgiving heart, or secretly shuffled by Satan into it; for God hath abundantly secured thee against fear in this very particular, by that most sweet supporting and blessed promise, an­nexed to the former, in the same Text, Ier. 32. 40. I will put my fear into their hearts, and that they shall not depart from me. Here is another kind of Fear, than that which so startles thee, promised to be put into thy heart, not a fear to shake and under­mine thy assurance as this doth, but to guard and maintain it. And this is the fear that shall be enabled to vanquish and expel all thy other fears.

4. Or are you afraid what the Church shall do? And what will become of the Ark of God? Do you see a storm gathering, the winds begin to roar, the waves to swell; and are you afraid what will become of that vessel the Church, in which you have so great an interest?

It is an argument of the publickness and excellency of thy spirit, to be thus touched with the feeling sense of the Churches sufferings, and dangers. Most men seek their own things, and not the things that are of Christ, Phil. 2. 21. But yet it is your sin so to fear as to sink and faint under a spirit of despondency, and discouragement, which yet many good men are but too apt to do.Ep. ad Melanct. Anno 1549. I remem­ber an excellent passage in a Letter of [Page 70] Luther's to Melancthon upon this very account. ‘In Private troubles, saith he, I am weaker, and thou art stronger; thou despisest thy own life, but fearest the Publick cause; but for the Publick I am at rest, being assured that the cause is just and true; yea, that it is Christ's and Gods cause. I am well nigh a secure spectator of things, and e­steem not any thing these fierce and threatning Pa­pists. I beseech thee by Christ, neglect not so Divine promises and consolations where the Scrip­ture saith, Cast thy care upon the Lord, wait upon the Lord, be strong, and he shall comfort thy heart. And in another Epistle. I much dislike those anxious cares,Anno 1530. which as thou writest do almost con­sume thee: 'Tis not the greatness of the danger, but the greatness of thy unbelief. Iohn Hus and others were under greater danger than we; and if it be great, he is great that orders it. Why do you afflict your self? If the cause be bad, let us renounce it; if it be good, why do we make him a liar that bids us be still? As if you were able to do any good, by such unprofitable cares. I beseech thee, thou that in other things art valiant, fight a­gainst thy self, thine own greatest enemy that puts weapons into Satans hand.’

You see how good men may be even overwhelmed with publick fears, but certainly if we did well con­sider the bond of the Covenant that is betwixt God and his people, we should be more quiet and compo­sed. For by reason thereof it is, 1. That God is in the midst of them, Psal. 46. 1, 2, 3, 4. When any great danger threatned the Reformed Church in its tender beginnings in Luther's time, he would say, come, let us sing the 46 Psalm, and indeed it is a lovely Song [Page 71] for such times, it bears the Title of A song upon Alamoth, or a song for the hidden ones, God is with them to cover them under his wings. [...] 2. And it is plain matter of Fact, evident to all the world, that no people under the Heavens have been so long, and so wonderfully preserved as the Church hath been: It hath overlived many bloudy Massacres, terrible persecutions, subtle and cruel enemies; still God hath preserved and delivered it, for his promises oblige him to it, amongst which those two are signal and eminent ones, Ier. 30. 11. Isai. 27. 3. 3. And it is obvious to all that will consider things, that there are the self same motives in God, and the self same grounds and reasons before him to take care of his Church and people that ever were in him, or did ever lie before him from the beginning of the world. For, (1.) The relation is still the same: What though Abraham, Isaac, and Iacob, those renowned believers be in their Graves, and those that succeed be far inferiour to them in Grace and Spiritual excellen­cy; yet saith the Church, Doubtless thou art our Father. There is the same tie and bond betwixt the father and the youngest, weakest child in the family, as the eldest and strongest. 2. His pity and mercy is still the same, for that endures for ever: His bowels yern as tenderly over his people in their present, as ever they did in any past afflictions or streights. 3. The rage and malice of his and his peoples ene­mies, is still the same, they will reflect as blasphe­mously and dishonourably upon God now, should he give up his people, as ever they did. Moses Argu­ment is as good now as ever it was, what will the Egyptians say? and so is Ioshuah's too, What wilt thou do unto thy great name? O if these things were [Page 72] more throughly studied and believed, they would ap­pease many Fears.

2. Rule.

Work upon your hearts the consideration of the many mischiefs and miseries men draw upon them­selves and others, both in this world and that to come, by their own sinful fears.

1. The miseries and calamities that sinful Fear brings upon men in this world, are unspeakable; this is it that hath plunged the Consciences of so many poor wretches into such deep distresses! this it is that hath put them upon the Rack, and made them roar like men in Hell, among the damned. Some have been recovered, and others have perished in these deeps of horror and despair. In the year 1550.Clarks examp. p. 27. there was at Ferrara in Italy, one Faninus who by reading good Books was by the grace of God converted to the knowledge of the truth, wherein he found such sweetness, that by constant reading, me­ditation and prayer, he grew so expert in the Scrip­tures, that he was able to instruct others; and though he durst not go out of the bounds of his calling to preach openly, yet by conference and private exhor­tations he did good to many. This coming to the knowledge of the Pope's Clients, they apprehended and committed him to Prison; where he renounced the truth, and was thereupon released: But it was not long before the Lord met with him for it: So as falling into horrible torments of Conscience, he was near unto utter despair, nor could he be freed from those terrors, before he had fully resolved to venture his life more faithfully in the service of Christ.

[Page 73] Dreadful was that voice which poor Spira seemed to hear in his own Conscience assoon as ever his sin­ful fears had prevailed upon him to renounce the truth. Thou wicked wretch, thou hast denied me, thou hast renounced the Covenant of thine obedience, thou hast broken thy vow, hence Apostate, bear with thee the Sentence of thine eternal damnation. Presently he falls into a swoon, quaking and trembling, and still affirmed to his death, that from that time, he ne­ver found any ease or peace in his mind; but pro­fessed that he was captivated under the revenging hand of the Almighty God, and that he continually heard the sentence of Christ, the just Judge against him, and that he knew he was utterly undone, and could neither hope for grace, or that Christ should intercede for him to the Father.

In our dreadful Marian days Sir Iohn Cheek who had been Tutor to King Edward the Sixth, was cast into the Tower, and kept close Prisoner; and there put to this miserable choice, either to forego his life, or that which was more precious, his liberty of Conscience, neither could his liberty be procured by his great friends at any lower rate, than to recant his Religion; this he was very unwilling to accept of, till his hard imprisonment, joyned with threats of much worse in case of his refusal, at last wrought so upon him whilst he consulted with flesh and bloud, as drew from him an Abrenunciation of that truth which he had so long professed, and still believed. Upon this he was restored to his liberty, but never to his comfort; for the sense of his own Apostasie, and the daily sight of the cruel butcheries exercised upon others for their constant adherence to the truth, made such deep im­pressions upon his broken spirit, as brought him to a speedy end of his life, yet not without some com­fortable hopes at last.

[Page 74] Our own Histories abound with multitudes of such doleful examples.

Some have been in such horror of Conscience, that they have chosen strangling rather than life; they have felt that anguish of Conscience that hath put them upon desperate resolutions and attempts against their own lives to rid themselves of it. This was the case of Peter Moon, who being driven by his own fears to deny the truth, presently fell into such horrour of Conscience, that seeing a sword hanging in his Par­lor, would have sheathed it in his own bowels. So Francis Spira, before mentioned, when he was near his end, saw a knife on the Table, and running to it would have mischieved himself, had not his friends prevented him; thereupon he said, O that I were above God, for I know that he will have no mercy on me. He lay about eight weeks (saith the Historian) in a conti­nual burning, neither desiring, nor receiving any thing but by force, and that without digestion; till he became as an Anatomy, vehemently raging for drink, yet fearful to live long, dreadful of hell, yet coveting death, in a continual torment, yet his own Tormentor; and thus consuming himself with grief and horror, impa­tience and despair, like a living man in hell, he repre­sented an extraor dinary example of Gods justice and po­wer, and so ended his miserable life.

Surely it were good to fright our selves by such dreadful examples, out of our sinful fears; is any mi­sery we can fear from the hands of man like this? O Reader, believe it, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of God: Hadst thou ever felt the rage and efficacy of a wounded and distressed Conscience, as these poor wretches felt it, no fears or threats of men should drive thee into such an Hell upon earth as this is.

[Page 75] 2. And yet though this be a doleful case, it is not the worst case your own sinful fears will cast you in­to, except the Lord overcome and extinguish them in you by the fear of his name, they will not only bring you into a kind of hell upon earth, but into hell it self for evermore: For so the righteous God hath said in his word of truth, Rev. 21. 8. But the fearful, and unbelieving, &c. shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death. Behold here, the Marshal Law of Heaven, executed upon Cowards and Renegadoes, whose fears make them revolt from Christ in the time of danger. Think upon this you timorous & fainthearted professors; you cannot bear the thoughts of lying in a nasty Dungeon, how will you lie then in the lake of fire and brimstone? You are afraid of the face and frowns of a man that shall die, but how will you live among Devils? Is the wrath of man, like the fury of God poured out? Is not the little finger of God hea­vier than the loyns of all the Tyrants in the World? Remember what Christ hath said, Matth. 10. 33. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I al­so deny before my father which is in heaven. Reader, The time is coming when he that spake these words shall break out of Heaven with a shout, accompani­ed with myriads of Angels, and ten thousands of his Saints, the Heavens and the Earth shall be in dread­ful conflagrations round about him: The last Trump shall sound, the Graves shall open, the Earth and Sea shall give up the dead that are in them. Thine eyes shall see him ascend the awful throne of judgment, his faithful ones that feared not to own and appear for him in the face of all enemies and dangers, sitting on the bench as Assessors with him; and then to be dis­claimed and renounced for ever by Jesus Christ in the [Page 76] face of that great assembly, and proclaimed a delin­quent, a Traitor to him, that deniedst his name, and truths, because of the frowns of a fellow Creature long since withered as the grass; O how wilt thou be able to endure this! now put both these together in thy serious consideration, think on the terrors of Consci­ence here, and the desperate horror of it in Hell; thi [...] as a perboiling, that as a roasting in the flames of Gods insufferable wrath: These as some scalding drops sprinkled before hand upon thy Conscience, that tender and sensible part of man; that as the lake burning for ever with fire and brimstone. O who would suffer himself to be driven into all thi [...] misery, by the fears of those sufferings which can but touch the flesh, and for their duration, they are but for a moment.

Think, and think again upon those words of Christ, Mark 8. 35. He that will save his life shall lose it. It may be a prolonging of a miserable life, a life worse than death, even in thine own account; a life with­out the comfort or joy of life, a life ending in the se­cond death, and all this for fear of a trifle compare [...] with what thou shalt afterwards feel in thine own Conscience, and less than a trifle, nothing, compare [...] with what thou must suffer from God for ever.

3. Rule.

He that will overcome his fears of sufferings, mu [...] foresee and provide before hand for them.

The fear of Caution, is a good cure to the fear of Distraction, the more of that, the less of this; this fear will cure that, as one fire draws forth another Heb. 11. 7 Noah being moved with fear, prepared [...] Ark. In which he provided as much for the rest an [...] [Page 77] quiet of his mind, as he did for the safety of his person and family. That which makes evils so frightful as they are, is their coming by way of surprize upon us. Those troubles that find us secure, do leave us distra­cted and desperate. Presumption of continued tranquil­lity, proves one of the greatest aggravations of misery. Trouble will lie heavy enough when it comes by way of expectation, but it is intolerable when it comes quite contrary to expectation. It will be the Lot of Babylon to suffer the unexpected Vials of Gods wrath, and I wish none but she and her children may be so surprized. Rev. 18. 7. O it were well for us, if in the midst of our pleasant enjoyments we would be putting the difficultest cases to our selves, and mingle a few such thoughts as these with all our earthly enjoy­and comforts.

I am now at ease in the midst of my habitation, but the time may be at hand, when my habitation shall be in a Prison, I see no faces at present, but those of friends, full of smiles and honours, I may see none shortly but the faces of enemies full of frowns and terrors. I have now an estate to supply my wants, and provide for my family, but this may shortly fall as a prey to the enemy, they may sweep away all that I have gathered, reap the fruits of all my labours, — Impius has segetes. I have yet my life given me for a prey, but O how soon may it fall into cruel and bloud-thirsty hands? I have no better security for these things than the Martyrs had, who suffered the loss of all these things for Christs sake; a double ad­vantage would result to us from such meditations as these, viz. The Advantage,

Troubles.
  • 1. Of Acquaintance with
  • 2. Of Preparation for

1. Hereby our thoughts would be better acquain­ted [Page 78] with these evils, and the more they are acquain­ted, the less they will start and fright at them: We should not think it strange concerning the fiery tri­al, as it is 1 Pet. 4. 12. It is with our thoughts, as it is with young colts, and so they start at every new thing they meet, but we cure them of it, by bring­ing them home to that they start at, and making them smell to it; better acquaintance cures this startling humour at them. The newness of evil, saith a late grave and Learned Divine, is the cause of fear,Dr. Edw. Reynolds. when the mind it self hath had no preceding encounter with it, whereby to judge of its strength, nor example of another mans prosperous issue, to confirm its hopes in the like success: For, as I noted before out of the Philosophers, experience is instead of armour, and is a kind of fortitude, enabling both to judge, and to bear troubles; for there are some things which are [...],Epictet. scarecrows and vizors which children fear, only out of ignorance; assoon as they are known they cease to be terrible.

I know our minds naturally reluctate, and decline such harsh and unpleasant subjects: 'Tis hard to bring our thoughts to them in good earnest, and harder to dwell so long as is necessary to this end upon them. We had rather take a pleasant prospect of future felicity and prosperity in this world; of multiplying our days as the sand, and at last dying quietly in our Nest, as Iob speaks. Our thoughts run nimbly upon such pleasant fancies like oyled wheels, and have need of trigging, but when they come into the deep and dirty ways of suffering, there they drive heavily lik Pharaohs Chariots, dismounted from their wheels. But that which is most pleasant, is not always most [Page 79] useful and necessary; Our Lord was well acquainted with griefs, though our thoughts be such great stran­gers to them, he often thought and spake of his suf­ferings, and of the bloudy Baptism, with which he was to be baptized, Luke 12. 50. and he not only minded his own sufferings before hand, but when he perceived the fond imaginations, and vain fansies of some that followed and professed him, deluding them with expectations of earthly prosperity and rest; he gave their thoughts a turn to this less pleasing, but more needful subject, the things they were to suffer for his name; instead of answering a foolish and groundless question, of sitting on his Right and Left hand, like earthly Grandees, he rebukes the folly of the Questionist, and asks a less pleasing question, Matth. 20. 22. But Iesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask, are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of? And to be baptized with the baptism that I shall be baptized with? q. d. You do but abuse your selves with such fond and idle dreams, there is other imployment cut out for you in the pur­pose of God; Instead of sitting upon Thrones and Tribunals, it would become you to think of being brought before them as Prisoners to receive your doom and sentence to die for my sake; these thoughts would do you a great deal more service.

2. As such meditations would acquaint us better, so they would prepare us better to encounter troubles and difficult things when they come. Readiness and preparation would subdue and banish our fears; we are never much scared with that for which our minds are prepared. There is the same difference in this case, as there is betwixt a Souldier in compleat Ar­mour, and ready at every point for his enemy; and one that is allarm'd in his bed, who hath laid his [Page 80] cloaths in one place, and his Arms in another, when his enemy is breaking open his chamber door upon him. It was not therefore without the most weighty reason, that the Apostle presses us so earnestly, Eph. 6. 13, 14. Take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand. Stand therefore having your loyns girt about with truth, and having on the breast­plate of Righteousness, and your feet shod with the pre­paration of the Gospel of peace. We see the benefit of such previsions and provisions for sufferings in that great example of courage and constancy, Acts 21. 13. I am ready, (saith Paul) not only to be bound, but to die at Jerusalem. And the same courage and constan­cy remained in him, when he was entering the very Lists, and going to lay his very neck upon the block, 2. Tim. 4. 6. I am ready to be offered up, and the time of my departure is at hand. The word [...] properly signifies a libation or drink-offer­ing, wherein some conceive he alluded to the ve­ry kind of his own death, viz. by the Sword: His heart was brought to that frame, that he could with as much willingness pour out his bloud for Christ, as the Priests used to pour out the drink offering to the Lord. 'Tis true, all the meditations and prepara­tions in the world made by us, are not sufficient in themselves to carry us through such difficult services, 'tis one thing to see death as our fancy limnes it out at a distance and another thing to look death it self in the face. We can behold the painted Lyon without fear, but the living Lyon, makes us tremble; but yet though our suffering-strength comes not from our own preparations, or forethoughts of Death; but from Gods gracious assistance, yet usually that assistance of his is communicated to us, in and by the conscionabl [...] [Page 81] and humble use of these means; let us therefore be found waiting upon God for strength, patience, and resolutions to suffer as it becomes Christians, in the daily serious use of those means whereby he is pleased to communicate to his people.

4. Rule.

If ever you will subdue your own slavish fears, Com­mit your selves, and all that is yours into the hands of God by Faith.

This Rule is fully confirmed by that Scripture, Prov. 16. 3. Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established. The greatest part of our trouble and burden in times of danger, arises from the unsetledness and distraction of our own thoughts, and the way to calm and quiet our thoughts is to commit all to God. This Rule is to be applied for this end and purpose when we are going to meet Death it self, and that in all its terrible formalities, and most frightful appearances, 1 Pet. 4. 19. Let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator. And if this committing act of Faith be so useful at such a time, when the thoughts must be supposed to be in the greatest hurry▪ and fears in their full strength; much more will it esta­blish the heart, and calm its passions in lesser troubles, you know what ease and relief it would be to you, if you had a Trial depending in Law for your Estates, and your hearts were overloaded and distracted with cares and fears about the issue of it: If one whom you know to be very skilful and faithful, should say to you at such a time, trouble not your self any further [...]bout this business, never break an hours sleep more [Page 82] for this matter; be you as an unconcerned Spectator, commit it to me, and trust me with the management of it▪ I will make it my own concernment, and save you harmless. O what a burden, what an heavy load would you feel y [...]r selves eased of, assoon as you had thus transferred, and committed it to such a hand! then you would be able to eat with pleasure, and sleep in quietness: Much more ease and quietness doth your committing the matter of your fears to God give, even so much more, as his power, wisdom, and faithfulness is greater than what is to be found in men. But to make this Rule practicable, and improveable to peace, quietness of heart in an evil day, it will be necessary that you well understand,

  • 1. What the committing act of Faith is.
  • 2. What grounds and encouragements Belie­vers have for it.

1. Study well the nature of this committing act of Faith, and what it supposes or implies in it, for all men cannot commit themselves to God, 'tis his own people only that can do it; nor is it every thing they can commit to God, they cannot commit themselves to his care and protection in any way, but only in his own ways. Know more particularly,

1. That he who will commit himself to God, must commit himself to him in well doing, as the Apostle limits it in 1 Pet. 4. 19. and in things agreeable to his will; else we would make God a Patron and Prote­ctor of our sins, Let t [...]m that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their Souls to him in well doing. We cannot commit our sins, but our duties to Gods protection: God is so great a friend to truth and righteousness, that in such a case he will [Page 83] not take your part, how dear soever you be to him, if truth be found on your enemies part, and the mistake on yours. Think not to entitle God to your errors or failings, much less to any sinful designs: You may commit a doubtful case to him to be decided, but not a sinful case to be protected. It is in vain to shelter any cause of your own under his wings, except you can write upon it as David did, Psal. 74. 22. Thine own cause, O Lord, thine own, as well as mine. Lord plead thine own cause.

2. He that commits his all to God, supposes and firmly believes that all events and issues of things are in Gods hands; that he only can direct, over rule, and order them all as he pleaseth. Upon this supposition, the committing acts of Faith in all our fears and distresses are built, I trusted in thee, O Lord, I said, thou art my God, my times are in thy hand, deliver me from the hands of my enemies, and from them that persecute me. His firm assent to this great truth, that his times were in Gods hands, was the reason why he committed himself into that hand. If our times, ourlives, or comforts were in our enemies hands; it were to little purpose for us to commit our selves into Gods hands. And here the contrary sences and methods of Faith and unbelief, are as conspicuous as in any one thing whatsoever: Unbelief perswades men that their lives and all that is dear to them, is in the hands of their enemies, and therefore perswades them the best way they can take to secure themselves, is by complyance with the will of their enemies, and pleasing them. But Faith determines quite contrary, it tells us we and all that is ours is in Gods hand, and no enemy can touch us or ours till he give them a permission; and therefore it is our duty and interest to please him, and commit all to him.

[Page 84] 3. The committing of our selves to God implies the resignation of our wills to the will of God, to be disposed of as seems good in his eyes: So David com­mits to God the event of that sad and doubtful provi­dence which made him flie for his life from a strong conspiracy, 2 Sam. 15. 25. And the King said unto Zadock, Carry back the Ark of God into the City; if I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord; he will bring me again, and shew me both it and his habitation, but if he thus say, I have no delight in thee; behold here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good to him: q. d. Lord, the conspiracy against my life is strong, the danger great, the issue exceeding doubtful: but I commit it all into thy hand, if David may yet be used in any further service for his God; I shall see this City and thy lovely Temple again, but if not, I lie at thy foot to be disposed either for life or death, for the earthly or the heavenly Ierusalem, as seemeth best in thine eyes: This submission to Divine pleasure is in­cluded in the committing act of Faith. Christian, what sayest thou to it? Is thy will content to go back, that the will of God may come on, and take place of it? It may be thou canst refer a difficult case to God, provided that he will determine and issue it according [...]o thy desires, but in truth that is no submission or re­signation at all, but a sinful limiting of, and prescribing to God. It was an excellent reply that a choice Chri­stian once made to another; when a beloved and only Child lay in a dangerous sickness at the point of death; a friend asked the mother, what would you now de­sire of God in reference to your Child? Would you beg of him its life, or death, in this extremity it is now in? The Mother answered, I refer that to the will of God. But said her friend, if God would [...] ­fer it to you, what would you chuse then? Why tru­ly [Page 85] said she, if God would refer it to me, I would e­ven refer it to God again.

This is the true committing of our selves, and our troublesome concerns to the Lord.

4. The committing act of Faith, implies our re­nouncing and disclaiming all confidence and trust in the arm of flesh, and an expectation of relief from God only: If we commit our selves to God, we must cease from man. Isai. 2. 22. To trust God in part, and the Creature in part, is to set one foot upon a Rock, and the other in a Quick-sand: Those acts of Faith that give the intire glory to God, give real relief and comfort to us.

2. Let us see what grounds and encouragements the people of God have to commit themselves and all the matters of their fear to God, and so to enjoy the peace and comfort of a resigned will; and there are two sorts of encouragements before you, let the case be as difficult and frightful as it will; you may find suffi­cient encouragements in God, and somewhat from your selves, viz. your relation to him, and experi­ences of him.

1. In God there is all that your hearts can desire to encourage you to trust him over all, and commit all into his hands. For,

1. He is able to help and relieve you, let the case be never so bad, yet let Israel hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is plenteous redemption Psal. 130. 7, 8. Plenteous redemption (i. e.) all the stores of power, choice of methods, plenty of means, abundance of ways to save his people, when they can see no way out of their troubles: Therefore hope Israel in Ie­hovah.

2. As his Power is Almighty, so his Wisdom is [Page 86] Infinite and unsearchable, He is a God of judgment, blessed are all they that wait for him, Isa. 30. 18. When the Apostle Peter had related the wonderful preserva­tions of Noah in the Deluge, and of Lot in Sodom; one in a general destruction of the world by Water, and the other in the overthrow of those Cities by Fire: He concludes, and so should we, The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, 2 Pet. 2. 9. Some men have much Power, but little wisdom to manage it, others are wise and prudent, but want ability; in God there is an infinite fulness of both.

3. His love to and tenderness over his people, is transcendent, and unparallelled; and this sets his wisdom and power both a work for their good, hence it is that his eyes of providence run continually throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose hearts are perfect (i. e.) upright towards him. 2 Chron. 16. 9. Thus you see how he is every way fitted as a proper object of your trust.

2. Consider your selves and you shall find encou­ragements to commit all to God. For,

1. You are his children, and to whom should chil­dren commit themselves in dangers and fears but to their own father? Doubtless thou art our father, saith the distressed Church, Isai. 63. 15, 16. Yea, Christian, Thy maker is thy husband, Isai. 54. 5. Is not that a suffici­ent ground to cast thy self upon him? What! a Child not trust its own Father? A wife not commit her self to her own husband?

2. You have trusted him with a far greater con­cern already than your estates, liberties, or lives; you have committed your souls to him, and your e­ [...]rnal interests, 2 Tim. 1. 12. Shall we commit the [Page 87] [...]ewel, and dispute the Cabinet? Trust him for heaven, and doubt him for earth?

3. You have ever found him faithful in all that you trusted him with, all your experiences are so many good grounds of confidence, Psal. 9. 10. Well then, resolve to trust God over all, and quietly leave the dispose of every thing to him; he hath been with you in all former streights, wants, and fears, hither­to he hath helped you, and cannot he do so again, ex­cept you tell him how? O trust in his wisdom, power, and love, and lean not to your own understandings. The fruit of resignation will be peace.

5. Rule.

If ever you well get rid of your fears and distracti­ons, get your affections mortified to the world, and to the inordinate and immoderate love of every injoyment in the world.

The more you are mortified, the less you will be terrified; 'tis not the dead, but the living world, that puts our hearts into such fears and tremblings: If our hearts were once crucified, they would soon be quieted. 'Tis the strength of our affections that puts so much strength into our afflictions. It was not therefore without great reason that the Apostle com­pares the life of a Christian to the life of a Souldier, who if he mean to follow the Camp, and acquit him­self bravely in fight, must not intangle himself with the affairs of this life, 2 Tim. 2. 4. Sure there is no following Christ's Camp., but with a disintangled heart from the world, for proportionable to the heat of our love will be the strength and height of our fears about these things; more particularly, if ever you will rid your selves of your uncomfortable and un­comely [Page 88] fears, use all Gods means to mortifie your af­fections to the exorbitant esteem and love of,

  • 1. Your Estates.
  • 2. Your Liberty.
  • 3. Your Lives.

1. Get mortified and cooled hearts to your Possessi­ons and Estates in the world. The poorest age afforded the richest Christians, and noblest Martyrs. Ships deep­est laden are not best for encounters. The believing Hebrews took joyfully the spoiling of their goods, know­ing in themselves that they had in heaven a better, and induring substance, Heb. 10. 34. They carried it ra­ther like unconcerned Spectators, than the true Pro­prietors: They rejoyced when rude Souldiers carried out their goods, as if so many friends had been bring­ing them in: And whence was this? But from an heart fixed upon Heaven, and mortified to things on Earth. Doubtless they esteemed and valued their Estates as the good providences of God, for their more comfortable accommodation in this world; but it seems they did, and O that we could look upon them as mercies of the lowest and meanest rank and na­ture. The substance laid up in Heaven was a better substance, and as long as that was safe, the loss of this did not afflict them.

They could bless God for these things which for a little time did minister refreshment to them, but they knew them to be transitory enjoyments, things that would make to themselves wings and flee away, if their enemies had not toucht them; but the substance laid up for them in Heaven, that was an enduring sub­stance; So far as those earthly things might further them towards Heavenly things, so far they prized and [Page 89] valued them, but if Satan would turn them into snares and temptations to deprive them of their better substance in Heaven, they could easily slight them, and take the spoiling of them joyfully. In a stress of weather when the Ship is ready to sink and founder in a Storm, all hands are readily imployed to throw the richest goods over-board: No man faith it's pity to cast them away, but reason dictates to a man in that case, better these perish, than I perish with and for them. These be the wares that some will not cast overboard, and therefore they are said to drown men in perdition. 1 Tim. 6. 9. Demas would rather perish than part with these things. 2. Tim. 4. 10. But Rea­der, consider seriously what comfort they can yield thee, when thou must look upon them as the price for which thou hast sold Heaven, and all the hopes of glory; even as much as the price of bloud yielded Iudas; and so they will ensnare thee if thy unmortified heart be overheated with the love of them as his was.

2. Be mortified to your liberty, and take heed of placing too great an esteem upon it, or necessity in it. Liberty is a desirable thing to the very birds of the air, accommodate them the best you can in your cages, feed them with the richest fare, they had rather be cold and hungry with their liberty in the woods, than fat and warm in your houses. But yet as sweet as it is, there may be more sweetness and comfort in part­ing with it, than in keeping it, as the case may stand. The doors of a Prison can lock you in, but they can­not lock the comforter out. Paul and Silas lost their liberty for Christ, but not their comfort with it; they never were so truly at liberty as when their feet were made fast in the stocks; they never fared so deliciously, as when they fed upon Prisoners fare. God spread a [Page 90] Table for them in the Prison, sent them in a rich feast, yea and they had musick at their feast too, and that at midnight, Acts 16. 25.

Patmos was a barren Island, and [...] place designed for banished persons;Rev. 1. 9, 10. it lay in the Aegean Sea, not far from the coast of the Lesser Asia: it was inhabited by none because of the exceeding barrenness of it, but such who were appointed to it for their punishment; so that here Iohn could meet with no more earthly re­freshment, than what the barren rocks, or wild and desperate persons condemned to live upon it, could afford: Ay, but there, there it was that Christ ap­peared to him in unexpressible glory; there it was that he had those ravishing visions, and saw the whole Scheme of Providence in the Government of this world, there he saw the New Ierusalem coming down from God out of heaven, as a bride prepared for her husband; This made a Patmos become a Para­dice: never did any place afford him such comfort as this did. So that Christians may not think there is so strict and necessary a connection betwixt Liberty and Comfort, that he that takes away the first, must needs deprive them of the other.

Again, Suppose we should be so fond of our Li­berty as to exchange truth and a good Conscience for it; cannot God so imbitter it to you, yea, hath he not so imbittered it to many, that they were quick­ly weary of it, and glad of an opportunity to ex­change it for a Prison. Our own Martyrology fur­nishes us with many sad examples of it: O What will yo do with your bitter dear bought Liberty, when peace is taken away from the inner man? When God shall clap up your souls in Prison, and put your Con­sciences into his bonds and fetters; then you will [Page 91] say as the Martyr did, I am in Prison, till I be in Prison.

3. Be mortified to the inordinate and fond love of life, as ever you expect relief against the fears of death. Reason thy self into a lower value of thy life: Methinks you have arguments enough to cure your fondness in this point: Have you found it such a pleasant life to you, for so much of it as is past? You know how the Apostle represents it, 2 Cor. 5. 4. We that are in this Tabernacle do groan being burthen­ed. And is a burthened and a groaning life so desirable? You know also as he speaks in the next Verse, that whilst you are at home in the body, you are absent from the Lord; and is a state of absence from Jesus Christ so desirable to a soul that loves him? Can you find much pleasure so far from home? You may fancy what you will, but upon serious re­collection you will be able to tell your selves, that till you be dead you will never be out of the reach of Satans temptations, never freed from your own in-dwelling corruptions, these conflicts cannot have an end till life be ended. You also stand convinced that till you be dead, your Souls cannot be satisfied, nor your desires be at rest; have what comforts soe­ver from God in the way of faith, and course of du­ties your hearts are still off the center, and will still gravitate and gasp heaven-ward. You also know that die you must, and the time of your departure is at hand, and of all deaths, if you might have your choice, none is more honourable to God, or like to be so evidential and comfortable to you as a violent death for Christ; therein you come to him by consent and choice, not by necessity and con­straint therein you give a publick testimony for Christ, which is the highest use that ever our bloud [Page 92] can be put to, or honoured by; and for the pain and torment, as the Martyr said, He that takes away from my torment, takes away from my reward. But even in that point, God can make it easier to you than a natural death would be; he will be with you in your extremity, and administer such reviving cordials as other men must not look to taste, at least not ordina­rily; they being prepared and reserved for such, a­gainst such an hour.

O then, work out the inordinate love of life by working in such mortifying considerations upon your own hearts, and if once you gain but this point, you will quickly find all your pains and prayers richly an­swered in the ease and rest of your hearts, in the most scaring and frightful times.

6. Rule.

Eye the encouraging examples of those that have [...]rod the path of sufferings before you, and strive to imi­tate such worthy patterns.

Behold the cloud of witnesses encompassing you round about; a cloud like that over the Israelites to direct you: Yea, a cloud for multitude of excellent persons to animate and encourage you. Heb. 12. 1. O take them for an ensample in suffering affliction, and patience. Iames 5. 10. Examples of excellent per­sons that have broken the ice, and beaten the path before us, are of excellent use to suppress our fears, and rouze our courage in our own encounters.

The first sufferers had the hardest task, they that first entred the lists for Christ, wanted those helps to suppress fear which they have left unto us. Strange and un­tried torments are most terrible, for magnitudinem re­ [...]um consuetudo subducit, trial and acquaintance a bates [Page 93] the formidable greatness of evils. they knew not the strength of that enemy they were to engage, but we fight with an enemy that hath been often beaten and triumphed over by our brethren that went before us: certainly we that live in the last times, have the best helps that ever any had to subdue their fears; we have heard of the courage and constancy of our brethren, in as sharp trials of their courage as ever we can be called to; we have read with what Christi­an gallantry they have triumphed over all sorts of suf­ferings and torments, how they have been strengthen­ed with all might in the inner man unto all patience, and long suffering, with joyfulness, 1 Collos. 11. How they have gone away from the Courts that cen­sured and punished them, rejoycing that they were ho­noured to be dishonoured for Christ, as the strict reading of that Text is, Acts 5. 41. [...]. counting the reproaches of Christ greater riches than the treasures of E­gypt, Heb. 11. 26. which at that time was the Ma­gazine of the world for Riches: You read what Trials they have had of cruel mockings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonments, how they were stoned, sawn asunder, tempted, slain with the sword, wandred a­bout in Sheep skins, and Goat skins, destitute, afflicted, tormented, Heb. 11. 36, 37. In all which they ob­tained a good report, they came out of the field with triumphant faith and patience; and this was not the effect of an over-heated zeal at the first outset, but the same spirit of courage was found among Christians in after ages, who have put off their Persecutors with a kind of pleasant scorn and contempt of Tor­ments.

So did Basil, truly sirnamed the great, when Valens the Emperour in a great rage threatned him with ba­nishment, [Page 94] and tortures, as to the first, said he, I lit­tle regard it, for the earth is the Lords, and the fulness thereof;Socrat. Hist. l. 4. c. 26. and as for tor­tures what can they do upon such a poor thin body as mine, nothing but skin and bone?Theod. lib. 4. cap. 19. And at another time when Eusebius Governour of Pontus told him in a great rage, he would tear his very liver out of his bowels: Truly said Basil, you shall do me a very good turn in it, to take out my naughty liver; which inflames and diseaseth my whole body. Their enemies have professed the Christians put them to shame, by smiling at their Cruelties and and threatnings. Ignatius his love to Christ had so perfectly overcome all fears of sufferings, that when he was going to be thrown for a prey among the Lyons and Leopards, he professed he longed to be a­mong them, and, said he, if they will not dispatch me the sooner, I will provoke them, that I may be with my sweet Jesus. And if we come down to later ages, we shall find as stout Champions for Christ▪ The Courage and undauntedness of Luther is trum­peted abroad throughout the Christian world, it would swell this small Tract too much, but to note the most eminent instances of his courage for Christ; The last he gave was by his sorrow in his last sickness, that he must carry his bloud to the Grave. The like Heroick Spirit appeared in divers persons of Honour and eminency, who zealously espoused the same cause of reformation with him. Remarkable to this pur­pose is that famous Epistle written by Ulricus ab Hut­ten a German Knight, in defence of Luther's cause against the Cardinals and Bishops assembled at Wormes. ‘I will go through (said he) with what I have un­dertaken against you, and will stir up men to seek [Page 95] their freedom: Such as yield not to me at first, I will overcome with importunity; I neither care nor fear what may befal me, being prepared for either event; either to ruine you, to the great be­nefit of my Countrey, or my self to fall with a good Conscience; therefore that you may see with what confidence I contemn your threats; I do profess my self to be your irreconcilable enemy, whilst ye persecute Luther and such as he is. No power of yours, no injury of fortune shall alter this mind in me; though you take away my life, yet this well deserving of mine towards my countries liberty shall not die. I know that my endeavour to re­move such as you are, and to place worthy Mini­sters in your room, is acceptable to God; and in the last judgment, I trust it will be safer for me to have offended you, than to have had your fa­vour.’

It was also a brave Heroick spirit by which Iohn Duke of Saxony was acted to defend the Reforma­tion, who despising all the favours and offers of the Court, and of Rome, and the terrors of Death it self; appeared as my Author speaks in its behalf against all the Devils,Spangenberg. ad An. 1531. and the Pope, in three publick Imperial Assem­blies, saying openly to their faces, I must serve God, or the world; and which of these two do ye think is the better? And assoon as Lu­ther's Sermons were forbidden, he hasted away, say­ing, I will not stay there where I cannot have my li­berty to serve God.

And now Reader, thou hast a little taste of the courage and zeal of those worthies who are gone be­fore thee in defence of that cause for which thou fear­est to suffer. Most men, saith Chrisostom, that read [Page 96] or hear such examples, are like the Spectators of th [...] Roman Gladiators, who stood by and praised their courage, but durst not enter the Lists, to undertake what they did. If ever thou wilt get like courage for Christ, thus improve such famous examples.

1. Make use of them to obviate the prejudice of singularity; you see you have store of good com­pany, the same things you are like to suffer for Christ, have been accomplished in the rest of your brethren in the world. 1 Pet. 5. 9.

2, Improve them against the prejudice of all that shame that attends sufferings, here you may see the most excellent persons in the world reckoning it their glory to suffer the vilest things for Jesus Christ. Acts 5. 41. Heb. 11. 26.

3. Improve them against the conceit of the insup­portableness of sufferings. Lo here, poor weak creatures which have been carried honourably and comfortably through the cruellest and difficultest sufferings for Christ. Our Women and Children, not to speak of men (saith Tertullian) overcome their Tor­mentors, and the fire cannot fetch so much as a sigh from them.

4. Improve them against thine own unbelief, and staggerings at the faithfulness of God in that promise, Isa. 43. 2. When thou passest through the fire, I will be with thee, &c. Lo here you have the recorded and faithful t [...]stimonies of such as have tried it, with one voice wit­nessing for God, Thy word is truth, thy word is truth.

5. Improve them against the sensible weakness of your own graces, are you afraid your faith, love, and patience are too weak to carry you through great trials? Why, doubtless so were many of them too, they were men of like fears, troubled with a bad heart, and a busie devil [...] well as you, they also had their [Page 97] clouds and damps as you have; yet the Almighty power of God supported them; and out of weakness they were made strong: Despond not therefore but get a judgment satisfied, Psal. 44. 22. A Conscience sprinkled, 2 Tim. 1. 7. And a Call cleared, Dan. 6. 10. Exercise Faith also with respect to Divine assistan­ces, and everlasting rewards as they did; and doubt not but the same God that enabled them to finish their course with joy, will be as good to you as he was to them. Consider, Christ hath done as much for you as he did for any of them, and deserves as much from you as from any of them; and hath prepared [...] same glory for you, that he prepared for them: [...] that such considerations might provoke you to shew as [...]uch courage and love to Christ, as any of them ever [...].

7. Rule.

If ever yi will get above the power of your own fears in a [...]ffering day, make haste to clear your in­terest in Christ, and your pardon in his blood before that evil day com

The clearer th [...]s, the bolder you will be; an as­sured Christian w [...]never known to be a coward in sufferings: It is impo [...]ble to be clear of fears, till you are cleared of the [...]ubts about interest in, and pardon by Christ. N [...]thing is found more streng­thening to our fears, th [...] that which clouds our evi­dences; and nothing [...]re to quiet and cure our fears, than that which clears [...]r evidences. The shedding abroad of Gods love i [...] our hearts, will quickly fill them with a spirit of g [...]rying in tribulations, Rom. 5. 5. When the beli [...]ing Hebrews once came to know in themselves t [...]t they had an enduring sub­stance [Page 98] in Heaven, they quickly found in themselves an unconcerned heart for the loss of their comforts on earth, Heb. 10. 34. and so should we too. For,

1. Assurance satisfies a man that his treasure and true happiness is secured to him, and laid out of the reach of all his enemies; and so long as that is safe, he hath all the reason in the world to be quiet, and chear­ful, I know (saith Paul) whom I have believed, and am perswaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him against that day, 2 Tim. 1. 12. And he gives this as the reason why he was not ashamed of Christs sufferings.

2. The assured Christian knows that if death it self come, (which is the worst men can inflict) [...] shall be no loser by the exchange; nay he shall [...] the best bargain that ever he made since he [...] parted with all in his afflictions, to follow Christ There are two rich bargains a Christian makes; [...] is whe [...] he exchanges the world for Christ in his [...]rst choice at his conversion, in point of love and stimation: the other is when he actually parts wit [...]'he world for Christ at his dissolution: both th [...]e are rich bar­gains, and upon this ground it wa [...]the Apostle said, To me to live is Christ, and to die is [...]ain, Phil. 1. 21. The death of a believer in Chr [...], is gain unspeaka­ble, but if a man would ma [...] the utmost gain by dying, he shall find it in dyin [...] for Christ, as well as in Christ: And to shew you werein the gain of such a death lies, let a few particul [...] be weighed, where­in the gain will be cast up in b [...]h; he that is assured he dies in Christ, knows,

1. That his living time is hi [...]labouring time, but his dying time is his harvest ti [...]: whilst we live we are plowing and sowing in all te [...] duties of Religion, but when we die, then we reap [...] fruit and comfort [Page 99] of all our labours and duties, Gal. 6. 8, 9. As much therefore as the reaping time is better than the sowing and plowing time, so much better is the death than the life of a believer.

2. A Believers living time is his fighting time, but his dying time is his conquering and triumphing time, 1 Cor. 15. 55, 56. The conflict is sharp, but the tri­umph is sweet; and as much as victory and triumph is better than fighting, so much is death better than life, to him that dieth in Jesus.

3 A Believers living time is his tiresome and weary time, but his dying time is his resting and sleeping time. Isai. 57. 2. Here we spend and faint, there we rest in our beds, and as much as refreshing rest in sleep is better than tiring and fainting; so much is a Believers death better than his life.

4. A Believers living time is his waiting and longing time, but his time of dying is the time of enjoying what he hath long wished and waited for, Phil. 1. 23. Here we groan and sigh for Christ, there we behold and enjoy Christ, and so much as vision and fruition is better and sweeter than hoping and waiting for it; so much is a believers death better than his life.

2. As the advantage a Believer makes of death is great to him by dying only in Christ; so it is much grea­ter, and the richest improvement that can be made of death to die for Christ as well as in Christ: For com­pare them in a few particulars and you shall find,

1. That though a natural death hath less horrour, yet a violent death for Christ hath more honour in it. To him that dies united with Christ the grave is a bed of rest; but to him that dies as a Martyr for Christ, the grave is a bed of honour. To you (saith the A­postle) it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe, but also to suffer for his sake, 1 Phil. 29. [Page 100] To you it is granted as a great honour and favour to suffer for Christ; all that live in Christ have not the honour to lay down their lives for Christ. It was the great trouble of Ludovic [...]s Marsacus a Knight of France, Cur me non quoque torque donas, & illu­stris illius ordinis mi­litem non creas? to be exempted because of his dignity, from wearing his chain for Christ, as the other Prisoners did; and he resented it, as a great injury, Give m [...] (saith he to his Keeper) my chain as well as they, and create me a Knight of that noble Order.

2. By a natural death we only submit our selves to the unavoidable consequence of sin, but in dying a violent death for Christ, we give our testimony a­gainst the evil of sin, and for the precious truths of Jesus Christ. The first is the payment of a debt of justice due by the fall of Adam; the second is the pay­ment of a debt of thankfulness and obedience due to Christ, who redeemed us with his own bloud. Thus we become witnesses for God, as well as sufferers upon the account of sin: In the first, sin witnesseth against us, in this we witness against it; and indeed it is a great testimony against the evil of sin: We declare to all the world that there is not so much evil in a Dunge­on, in a bloudy Ax, or consuming flames; as there is in sin: That it is far better to lose our carnal friends, estates, liberties, and lives, than part with Christs truths and a good Conscience, as Zuinglius said,Quas non oportet mor­tis praeeligere, quod non supplicium potius ferre, imo inquam pro­fundum inferni Abys­sum non intrare, quam contra conscientiam [...]ttestari? What sort of death should not a Christian chuse, what punishment should he not rather undergo; yea into what vault of hell should he not ra­ther chuse to be cast: than to wit­ness against truth & Conscience.

[Page 101] 3. A natural death in Christ may be as safe to our selves, but a violent death for Christ, will be more beneficial to others; by the former we shall come to heaven our selves, but by the latter we may bring many souls thither. The bloud of the Martyrs is truly called the seed of the Church. Many waxed confident by Pauls bonds, his sufferings fell out to the furtherance of the Gospel, and so may ours: In this case a Christian, like Samson, doth greater service against Satan and his cause, by his death, than by his life.

If we only die a natural death in our beds we die in possession of the truths of Christ our selves; but if we die Martyrs for Christ, we secure that precious inheritance to the generations to come, and those that are yet unborn shall bless God, not only for his truths, but for our courage, zeal, and constancy by which it was preserved for them, and transmitted to them.

By all this you see that death to a Believer is great gain, it's great gain if he only die in Christ, it's all that, and a great deal more added, if he also die for Christ: And he that is assured of such advantages by death either way, must needs feel his fears of death shrink away before such assurances; yea,potius nobis deliciae quam tormenta sunt. Basil. he will rather have life in patience, and death in desire? he will not only sub­mit quietly but rejoyce exceedingly to be used by God in such honourable imployment. Assurance will call a bloudy death a safe passage to Canaan through the Red Sea. It will call Satan that insti­gates these his instruments, and all that are imployed in such bloudy work by him, so many Balaams brought to curse, but they do indeed bless the people of God, [Page 102] and not curse them. The assured Christian, looks upon his death as his wedding day, Rev. 19. 7. And therefore it doth not much differ whether the horse sent to fetch him to Christ be pale, or red, so he may be with Christ his love as Ignatius call'd him.

He looks upon death as his day of enlargement out of Prison, 2 Cor. 5. 8. and it is not much odds what hand open the door, or whether a friend or enemy close his eyes, so he have his liberty, and may be with Christ.

O then, give the Lord no rest till your hearts be at rest by the assurance of his love, and the pardon of your sins; when you can boldly say, the Lord is your help, you will quickly say what immediately follows, I will not fear what man shall do unto me, Heb. 13. 6. And why, if thy heart be upright, may­est thou not attain it? Full assurance is possible, else it had not been put into the command, 2 Pet. 1. 10. The sealing graces are in you, the sealing spirit is ready to do it for you, the sealing promises belong to you; but we give not all diligence, and therefore go without the comfort of it: Would we pray more, and strive more, would we keep our hearts, with a stricter watch, mortifie sin more throughly, and walk before God more accurately; how soon may we attain this blessed assurance, and in it, an excel­lent cure for our distracting and slavish fears.

8. Rule.

Let him that designs to free himself of distracting fears, be careful to maintain the purity of his consci­ence, and integrity of his ways in the whole course of his conversation in this world.

[Page 103] Uprightness will give us boldness, and purity will yield us peace. Isa. 32. The work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness, and assurance for ever. Look as fear follows guilt and guile, so peace and quietness follows Righteous­ness and sincerity, Prov. 28. 1. The wicked flee when none pursueth, but the righteous are bold as a Lyon. His confidence is great, because his Conscience is quiet, the peace of God guards his heart and mind. There are three remarkable steps by which Christians rise to the height of courage in tribulations. Rom. 5. 1, 2, 3, 4. First they are justified and acquitted from guilt by faith, v. 1. Then they are brought into a state of favour and acceptation with God, v. 2. Thence they rise one step higher, even to a view of Heaven, and the glory to come, V. 3. and from thence they take an easy step to glorying in tribulations, v. 4.

I say, 'tis an easy step, for let a man once obtain the pardon of sin, the favour of God, and a believ­ing view and prospect of the glory to come, and it is so easy to triumph in tribulation, in such a station as that is, that it will be as hard to hinder it, as to hin­der a man from laughing when he is tickled.

Christians have always found it a spring of courage and comfort. 2 Cor. 1. 12. This is our rejoycing, even the testimony of our Consciences, that in all sin­cerity and godly simplicity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God; we have had our conversation in this world. Their hearts did not reproach them with by-ends in Religion; their Consciences witnessed that they made not Religion a cloak to cover any fleshly design, but were sincere in what they profes­sed; and this enabled them to rejoyce in the midst of sufferings. An earthen vessel set empty to the fire will crack and fly in pieces, and so will an hypocritical, [Page 104] formal, and meer nominal Christian: but he that hath such substantial and real principles of courage as these within him, will endure the trial, and be never the worse for the fire.

The very Heathens discovered the advantage of Moral integrity, and the peace it yielded to their natu­ral Consciences in times of trouble.

Nil c [...]nscire tibi, nullâ pallescere culpa hic murus aheneus estc— It was to them as a wall of brass, much more will godly simplicity, and the sprinkling of the bloud of Christ upon our Consciences, secure and encourage our hearts. This Atheistical Age laughs Conscience and purity to scorn; but let them laugh, this is it will make thee laugh when they shall cry. [...] meditor, operam do. Paul exercised him­self, or made it his business, To have always a Conscience void of offence, both towards God and towards men, Acts 24. 16. And it was richly worth his labour, it repayed him ten thousand fold in the peace, courage, and comfort it gave him in all the troubles of his life, which were great and many.

Conscience must be the bearing shoulder on which the burden must lie, beware therefore it be not galled with guilt, or put out of joynt by any fall into sin, 'tis sad bearing on such a shoulder: Instead of bearing your burdens, you will not be able to bear its pain and anguish. To prevent this, carefully observe these rules.

1. Over-awe your hearts every day and in every place with the eye of God; this walking as before God will keep you upright, Gen. 17. 1. If you so speak and live as those that know God sees you, such will be your uprightness, that you will not care if all the world see you too. An Artist came to Drusius and offered to build him an house so contrived, that he might do [Page 105] what he would within doors and no man see him; nay said Drusius, so build it that every one may see.

2. Do no action, undertake no design that you dare not preface with Prayer; this is your rule, Phil. 4. 6. Touch not with that you dare not pray for a blessing upon; if you dare not pray, dare not to engage: If you cannot send your prayers before, be confident shame and guilt will follow after.

3. Be more afraid of grieving God, or wounding Conscience, than of displeasing or losing all the friends you have in the world besides; look upon every ad­venture upon sin to escape danger, to be the same thing as if you should sink the Ship to avoid one that you take to be a Pirate; or as the fatal mistake of two vi­als wherein there is poyson and physick.

4. What counsel you would give another, that give your selves, when the case shall be your own; your judgment is most clear, when interest is least felt. Da­vids judgment was very upright, when he judged himself in a remote parable.

5. Be willing to bear the faithful reproofs of your faults from men, as the reproving voice of God; for they are no less when duly administred: This will be a good help to keep you upright, Psal. 135. 23, 24. Let the Righteous smite me, &c. It is said of Sir An­thony Cope, that he shamed none so much as himself in his family Prayers, and desired the Ministers of his acquaintance not to favour his faults; but tell me, said he, and spare not.

6. Be mindful daily of your dying day, and your great Audit day, and do all with respect to them. Thus keep your integrity and peace, and that will keep out your fears and terrors.

9. Rule.

Carefully record the experiences of Gods care over you, and faithfulness to you in all your past dangers, and distresses, and apply them to the cure of your pre­sent fears and despondencies.

Recorded experiences are excellent remedies. Exod. 17. 14. Write this for a memorial in a book, and re­hearse it in the ears of Joshuah. There were two things in that Record; the victory obtained over Amalek, and the way of obtaining it by incessant prayer: And there were two things to be done to secure this mer­cy for their use and benefit in future fears, it must be recorded and rehearsed, preserved from oblivion, and seasonably produced for relief.

There are two special assistances given us against fear by experience.

  • 1. It abates the terror of Sufferings.
  • 2. It assists Faith in the promises.

1. Experience greatly abates the terror of suffer­ings, and makes them less formidable and scaring than otherwise they would be; fear saith, they are deep waters, and will drown us; experience saith, they are much shallower than we think, and are safely fordable: Others have, and we may pass through that Red sea, and not be overwhelmed. Fear saith the pains of death are unconceivable sharp and bitter, the living little know what the dying feel; and to lie in a stinking Prison in continual expecta­tions of a cruel death is an insupportable evil: Ex­perience contradicts all these false reports which make our hearts faint, as the second Spies did the daunting [Page 107] stories of the first; and assures us, Prisons and Death are not when we come home to them for Christ, what [...]hey seem and appear to be at a distance. O what a good report have those faithful men given who have searched and tried these things! Who have gone down themselves into the valley of the shadow of death, and seen what there is in a Prison, and in death it self, so long as they were in sight and hearing able by words or signs to contradict our false Notions of it. O what a sweet account did Pomponius Algerius give of his stinking Prison at Lions in France! Dating all his Letters whilest he was there, From the delectable Orchard of the Leonine Prison: And when carried to Venice, in a Letter from the Prison there he writes thus to his Christian friends; I shall utter that which scarce any will believe, I have found a nest of honey in the entrails of a Lyon, a Paradise of pleasure in a deep dark Dungeon, in the place of sorrow and death, tranquillity of hope and life. O here it is, that the Spirit of God, and of glory rests upon us.

So Blessed Mr. Philpot our own Martyr, in one of his sweet encouraging Letters, O how my heart leaps, (saith he) that I am so near to eternal bliss, God for­give me my unthankfulness and unworthiness of so great glory; I have so much joy of the reward pre­pared for me, the most wretched sinner, that though I be in the place of darkness and mourning, yet I cannot lament, but am night and day so joyful as though I were under no cross at all; in all the days of my life I was never so joyful, the name of the Lord be praised.

Others have given the signals agreed upon betwixt them and their friends in the midst of the flames, there­by to the last confirming this truth, that God makes the inside of sufferings quite another thing what the ap­pearance [Page 108] and outside of them is to sense. Thus the ex­perience of others abates the terrors of sufferings to you; and all this is fully confirmed by the personal experience you your selves have had of the supports and comforts of God, wherein soever you have consci­ientiously suffered for his sake.

2. And this cannot but be a singular assistance to your faith, your own and others experiences; just like Aaron and Hur, stay up the hands of Faith on the one side and the other that they hang not down, whilst your fears like those Amalekites fall before you For what is experience, but the bringing down of the Divine promises to the test of sense and feeling? It is our duty to believe the promises without tryal and experiments, but it is easier to do it after so many trials; so that your own and others experiences care­fully recorded and seasonably applied; would be food to your faith, and a cure to many of your fears in a suffering day.

10. Rule.

You can never free your selves from sinful fears, till you throughly believe and consider Christ providenti­al Kingdom over all the creatures and affairs in this lower world.

Poor timorous soul, is there not a King, a Supreme Lord under whom Devils and men are? Hath not Christ the reins of Government in his hands? Matth. 28. 18. Phil. 2. 9, 10, 11, 12. Iohn 17. 2. Were this dominion of Christ and dependence of all crea­tures on him well studied and believed, it would cut off both our trust in men, and our fear of men; we should soon discern they have no power either to help us, or to hurt us but what they receive from above. [Page 109] Our enemies are apt to over-rate their own power in their pride, and we are as apt to over-rate it too in our fears. Knowest thou not, saith Pilate to Christ, that I have power to crucifie thee, and I have power to release thee, q. d. Refusest thou to answer me? dost thou not know who and what I am? Yes, yes, saith Christ, I know thee well enough to be a poor impotent creature, who hast no power at all, but what is given thee from above; I know thee, and therefore do not fear thee. But we are apt to take their own boasts for truth, and believe their power to be such as they vainly vogue it to be; whereas in truth all your enemies are sustained by Christ. Colos. 1. 17. they are bounded and limited by Christ, Rev. 2. 10. Providence hath its influences upon their hearts and wills immediately, Ier, 15. 11. Psal. 106. 46. So that they cannot do whatever they would do, but their wills as well as their hands are ordered by God. Iacob was in Laban's and in Esau's hands; both hated him but neither could hurt him. David was in Sauls hand, who hunted for him as a prey, yet is forced to dismiss him quietly, blessing instead of slaying him. Melancthon and Pomeren both fell into the hands of Charles the Fifth, than whom Christen­dom had not a more prudent Prince, nor the Church of Christ a fiercer enemy; yet he treats these great and active Reformers gently, dismisseth them freely, not once forbidding them to preach or print the Do­ctrine which he so much opposed and hated.

O Christian, if ever thou wilt get above thy fears settle these things upon thy heart by faith:

1. That the reins of Government are in Christs hands; enemies like wild horses may prance and tramp up and down the world, as though they would tread down all that are in their way; but the bridle [Page 110] of Providence is in their mouths, and upon their proud necks, 2 Kings 19. 28. And that bridle hath a strong curb.

2. The care of the Saints properly pertains to Christ; he is the head of the body, Eph. 1. 22, 23. Our consulting head: And it were a reproach and dishonour to Christ, to fill our own heads with distra­cting cares and fears, when we have so wise an head to consult and contrive for us.

3. You have lived all your days upon the care of Christ hitherto, no truth is more manifest than this, that there hath been a wisdom beyond your own, that hath guided your ways, Ier. 10. 23. A power above your own, that hath supported your burdens, Psal. 73. 26. A spring of relief out of your selves that hath supplied all your wants, Luke 22. 35. He hath performed all things for you.

4. Jesus Christ hath secured his people by many promises to take care of them how dangerous soever the times shall be, Eccles. 8. 12. Psal. 76. 10. Amos 9. 8, 9. Rom. 8. 28. O if these things were through­ly believed and well improved! fears could no more distract or afflict our hearts, than storms or clouds could trouble the upper Region: But we forget his providences and promises and so are justly left in the hands of our own fears to be afflicted for it.

11. Rule.

Subject your carnal reasonings to Faith, and keep your thoughts more under the government of faith, if ever you expect a composed and quiet heart in distracting evil times.

He that layeth aside the Rules of Faith, and mea­sures all thing by the rule of his own shallow reason, [Page 111] will be his own bugbear; if reason may be permitted to judge all things, and to make its own inferences and conclusions from the aspects and appearances of second causes, your hearts shall have no rest day nor night; this alone will keep you in continual A­larms.

And yet how apt are the best men to measure things by this rule, and to judge of all Gods designs and mysterious providences by it: In other things it is the Judge and Arbiter, and therefore we would make it so here too; and what it concludes and dictates, we are prone to blieve, because its dictates are backt and befriended by sense, whence it gathers its intelligence and information. O quam sapiens Argu­mentatrix sibi videtur ratio humana? How wise and strong do its Arguments and conclusions seem to us, saith Luther. This carnal reason is the thing that puts us into such confusions of mind and thoughts. 'Tis this that,

1. Quarrels with the promises, shakes their credit, and our confidence in them, Exod. 5. 22, 23.

2. 'Tis this that boldly limits the Divine power, and assigns it boundaries of its own fixing, Psal. 78. 20, 41.

3. 'Tis carnal reason that draws desperate conclu­sions from providential appearances and aspects, 1 Sam. 27. 1. and prognosticates our ruine from them.

4. 'Tis this carnal reason that puts us upon sinful shifts and indirect courses to deliver and save our selves from danger, which do but the more perplex and en­tangle us, Isai. 30. 15, 16.

5. It is mostly from our arrogant reasoings that our thoughts are discomposed and divided; from this fountain it is that they flow into our hearts in multi­tudes when dangers are near, Psal. 94. 19. Psal. 42. 1. [Page 112] All these mischiefs owe themselves to the exorbitant actings and intrusions of our carnal reasons; but these things ought not to be so, this is beside rule▪ For,

1. Though there be nothing in the matters of faith or providence contrary to right reason▪ yet there are many things in both, quite above the reach, and beyond the ken of reason, Isai.. 55. 8. And,

2. The confident dictates of reason are frequently confuted by experience all the world over; 'tis every day made a liar, and the frights it puts us into, proved to be vain and groundless, Isai. 51. 13.

Nothing then can be better for us, than to resign up our reason to faith, to see all things through the promises, and trust God over all events.

12. Rule.

To conclude, exalt the fear of God in your hearts▪ and let it gain the ascendent over all your other fears.

This is the prescription in my Text for the cure of all our slavish fears, and indeed all the forementi­oned rules for the cure of sinful fears run into this, and are reducible to it. For,

1. Doth the knowledge and application of the Co­venant of Grace cure our fears? The fear of God is both a part of that Covenant, and an evidence of our in­terest in it, Ier. 32. 40.

2. Doth sinful fear plunge men into such distresses of Conscience? Why, the fear of God will preserve your ways clean and pure, Psal. 19. 9. and so those mischiefs will be prevented.

3. Doth foresight and provision for evil days pre­vent distracting fears when they come? Nothing [Page 113] like the fear of God enables us to such a prevision, and provision for them. Heb. 11. 7.

4. Do [...]e relieve our selves against Fear by com­mitting all to God? Surely 'tis the fear of God that drives us to him as our only Asylum, and sure refuge, Malachi 3. 16. They feared God, and thought upon his name, (i. e.) they meditated his name which was their refuge, his Attributes their chambers of rest.

5. Must our affections to the world be mortified, before our fears can be subdued? This is the instru­ment of mortification, Nehem. 5. 15.

6. Do the worthy examples of those that are gone before us, tend to the cure of our cowardise and fears? Why, the fear of God will provoke in you an holy self­jealousie, lest you fail of the grace they manifested, and come short of those excellent patterns, Hebrews 12. 15.

7. Is the assurance of Interest in God, and the pardon of sin, such an excellent Antidote against slavish fear? Why, he that walks in the fear of God, shall walk in the comforts of the Holy Ghost also, Acts 9 31.

8. Is integrity of heart and way such a fountain of courage in evil times? Know Reader, no grace pro­motes this integrity and uprightness more than the fear of God doth, Prov. 16. 6. Prov. 23. 17.

9. Do the reviving of past experiences suppress sinful fears? no doubt this was the subject which the fear of God put them upon, for mutual encourage­ment, Mal. 3. 16.

10. Are the providences of God in the world such cordials against fear? The fear of God is the very character and mark of those persons over whom his providence shall watch in the difficultest times, Eccles. 8. 12.

11. Doth our trusting in our own reason, and [Page 114] making it our rule and measure, breed so many fears? Why, the fear of God will take men off from such self-confidence, and bring them to trust the faithful God with [...] doubtful issues and events, as the very scope of my Text fully manifests. Fear not their fear; their fear moving by the direction of carnal reason drove them not to God, but to the Assyrian for help, follow not you their example in this: But how shall they help it? Why, sanctifie the Lord of Hosts, and make him your fear.

CHAP. VII.

Answering the most material Pleas for slavish Fears, and dissolving the common Objecti­ons against courage and constancy of mind in times of danger.

THe Pleas and excuses for our cowardliness and faintness in the day of trouble are endless, and so would his task be that should undertake particularly to answer them all. 'Tis but the cutting off an Hy­dra's head, when one is gone, ten more start up; what is most material I will here take into considera­tion. When good men (for with such I am dealing in this Chapter) see a formidable face and appearance of sharp and bloudy times approaching them, they begin to tremble, their hearts faint, and their hands hang down with unbecoming despondency, and pu­sillanimity; their thoughts are so distracted, their reason and faith so clouded by their fears, that their temptations are thereby exceedingly strengthened [Page 115] upon them, and their principles and professions brought under the derision and contempts of their e­nemies; and if their brethren, to whom God hath gi­ven more courage and constancy, and who discern the mischief like to ensue from their uncomely carri­age, admonish and advise them of it: They have a­bundance of Pleas and defences for their fears, yea, when they reason the point of suffering in their own thoughts, and the matter is debated (as in such times it's common) betwixt faith and fear, O what endless work do their fears put upon their faith, to solve all the Buts and Ifs which their fears will object or sup­pose.

Some of the principal of them I think it worth while here to consider, and endeavour to satisfie, that if possible I may prevail with all gracious persons to be more magnanimous. And first of all:

1. Plea.

Sufferings for Christ are strange things to the Chri­stians of this age, we have had the happy lot to fall into milder times than the Primitive Christians did, or those that strugled in our own land in the begin­ning of Reformation; and therefore we may be ex­cused for our fears, by reason of our own unacquaint­edness with sufferings in our times.

Answer.

1. One fault is but a bad excuse for another, why are sufferings such strangers to you? Why did you not cast upon them in the days of peace, and reckon that such days must come? Did you not covenant with Christ to follow him whithersoever he should go, [Page 116] to take up your cross and follow him? And did not the Word plainly tell you, that All that will live god­ly in Christ Iesus, must suffer persecution, 2 Tim. 3. 12. And that we must through much tribulation en­ter into the Kingdom of God, Acts 14. 22. Did we fall asleep in quiet and prosperous days, and dream of Halcyon days all our time on earth? that the mountain of our prosperity stood strong, and we should never be moved? That we should die in our nest, and multiply our days as the sand; Babylon's Children indeed dream so, Rev. 18. 7. but the Chil­dren of Sion should be better instructed. Alas! how soon may the brightest day be overcast? The wea­ther is not so variable, as the state of the Church in this world is; now a calm, Acts 9. 31. and then a storm, Acts 12. 1, 2. You could not but know what con­tingent and variable things all things on earth are; Why then did you delude your selves with such fond dreams? But as a learned man rightly ob­serves,Gerson. Mundus senescens patitur Phantasi­as, The older the world grows the more drowzie and doting it still grows, and these are the days in which the wise as well as the foolish Virgin [...] slumber. Sure 'tis but a bad Plea, after so many warnings from the word, and from the rod to say, I did not think of such times, I dreamed not of them.

2. Or if you say, though you have conversed wit [...] death and sufferings by speculation, yet you live [...] not in such times wherein you might see (as othe [...] sufferers did) the encouraging faith, patience, an zeal of others set before your eye in a lively patte [...] and example. Sufferings were not only familiarize [...] to them by frequency, but facilitated also by the dail [...] examples of those that went before them.

[Page 117] But think you indeed that nothing but encourage­ment and advantage to followers, arose from the trials of those that went before? Alas, there were some­times the greatest damps and discouragements ima­ginable; the zeal of those that followed hath often been inflamed by the faintings of those that were tried before them. In the Seventh Persecution under Decius, Anno 250. there were standing before the Tribunal, certain of the Warriours or Knights, viz. Ammon, Zenon, Ptolomeus, Ingenuus, and a certain aged man called Theophilus, who all standing by as Spectators when a certain Christian was examined, and there seeing him for fear, ready to decline, and fall away, did al­most burst for sorrow within themselves; they made signs to him with their hands, and all gestures of the body to be constant; this being noted be all the stan­ders by, they were ready to lay hold upon them; but they preventing the matter, pressed up of their own accord, before the bench of the Judge, professing themselves to be Christians, insomuch that both the President and the Benchers were all astonished, and the Christians which were judged, the more encoura­ged. Such damping spectacles the Christians of for­mer ages had frequently set them before them.

And it was no small trial to some of them, to hear the faintings & abnegation of those that went before them, pleaded against their constancy; as in the time of Valens it was urged by the Persecutors: Those that came to their trial before you, have acknowledged their errors, begged our Pardon, and returned to us; and why will you stand it out so obstinately? But the Christi­ans answered, Nos hac potissimum ratione viriliter stabimus, For this very reason we will stand to it the more manfully, to rep [...]ir their scandal, by our greater [Page 118] courage for Christ. These were the helps and advan­tages they often had in those days, therefore lay not so much stress upon that; their courage undoubt­edly flowed from an higher spring and better princi­ple, than the company they suffered with.

3 And if presidents and experiences of others to break the Ice before you, be so great an advantage, surely we that live in these latter times have the most and best helps of that nature that ever any people in the world had. You have all their examples record­ded for your encouragement, and therefore Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial, as though some strange thing had happened to you, as the Apostle speaks, 1 Pet. 4. 12. This Plea is weighed, and no great weight found in it.

2. Plea.

But my nature is soft and tender, my constitution more weak and subject to the impressions of fear than others; some that have robust bodies and hardy stout minds, may better grapple with such difficulties than I can, who by constitution and education am alto­gether unfit to grapple with those torments, that I have not patience enough to hear related; my heart faints and dies within me, if I do but read or hear of the barbarous usages of the Martyrs, and therefore I may well be excused for my fears and faint-hearted­ness when the case is like to be my own.

Answer.

1. 'Tis a great mistake to think that the mee [...] strength of natural constitution can carry any one through such sufferings for Christ, or, that natu­ral [Page 119] tenderness and weakness Divinely assisted, cannot bear the heaviest burden that ever God laid upon the shoulders of any sufferer for Christ. Our suffering and bearing abilities are not from Nature but from Grace. We find men of strong bodies and resolute daring minds, have fainted in the time of trial. Dr. Pendleton in our own story was a man of a robust and massie body, and a resolute daring mind; yet when he came to the trial, he utterly fainted and fell off. On the other side, what poor feeble bodies have sustained the greatest torments! and out of weakness been made strong, Heb. 11. 34. The Virgin Eulalia of Emerita in Portugal was young and tender, but Twelve years old, and with much indulgence and tenderness brought up in an honourable family, be­ing a person of considerable quality; yet how coura­giously did she sustain the most cruel Torments for Christ! when the Judge fawned upon her with this tempting language, Why wilt thou kill thy self, so young a flower, and so near those honourable Mar­riages and great Dowries thou mightest enjoy: In­stead of returning a retracting or doubtful answer, Eulalia threw down the Idol, and spurnt abroad with her feet the heap of incense prepared for the censers: And when the Executioner came to her, she enter­tained him with this language, Go to thou Hang­man, burn, cut, mangle thou these earthly mem­bers; it is an easie matter to break a brittle substance, but the inward mind thou shalt not hurt.Acts and Mon. v. 1. p. 120. And when one joynt was pul­led from another, she said, Behold, what a pleasure it is for them O Christ, that remember thy triumphant victories, to attain unto these high dignities. So that our con­stitutional strength is not to be made the measure of [Page 120] our passive fortitude: God can make the feeblest and tenderest person stand, when strong bodies and blustering, resolute, daring minds faint and fall.

2. Are our bodies so weak, and hearts so tender that we can bear no sufferings for Christ? Then we are no way fit to be his followers. Christianity is a war­fare, and Christians must endure hardship, 2 Tim. 2. 3. Delicacy and tenderness is as odd a sight in a Christian, as it is in a Souldier: And we cannot be Christs disciples, except we deliberate the terms, and having considered well what it is like to cost us, do resolve in the strength of God to run the hazard of all with him and for him. 'Tis in vain to talk of a Re­ligion that we think not worthy the suffering and en­during any great matter for.

3. And if indeed Reader, thy constitution be so delicate and tender, that thou art not able to bear the thoughts of torments for Christ; how is it thou art not more terrified with the torments of hell, which all they that deny Christon earth must feel and bear eternally. O what is the wrath of man in compari­son with the wrath of God, but as the bite of a flea to the rendings of a Lyon. This is the consideration propounded by Christ in Matth. 10. 28. Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. The infinite and insupportable wrath of the great and terrible God should make our souls shrink and shake at the thoughts of it, rather than the sufferings of the flesh which are but for a mo­ment.

4. Know that the wisdom and tenderness of thy father, will proportion the burden thou must bear, to thy back that must bear it; he will debate in mea­sure, and not overload thy feeble shoulders: Thou [Page 121] shalt find those things easie in trial, that now seem insupportable in the terrible prospect; a way of escape or support will certainly be opened that thou mayest be able to bear it.

3. Plea.

But others plead the sad experience they have had of their own feebleness and weakness in former trials and exercises of an inferiour nature, in which their faith and patience hath failed them: and how can they imagine they shall ever be able to stand in the fiercest and most fiery trial. If we have run with the footmen and they have wearied us in the land of peace, how shall we then contend with horses in the swellings of Iordan? Ier. 12. 5.

Answer.

1. We are strong or weak in all our Trials, be they great or small, according to the assisting grace we receive from above; if he leave us in a common and light trial to our own strength, it will be our over-match, and if he assist us in great and extraor­dinary trials we shall be more than Conquerours. At one time Abraham could offer up his only son to God with his own hand; at another time he is so a­fraid of his life, that he acts very unsuitable to the character of a Believer, and was shamefully rebuked for it by Abimelech. At one time David could say, Though an Host encamp against me I will not fear: At another time he feigns himself mad, and acted be­neath himself, both as a man, and as a man enriched with so much faith and experience. At one time Peter is afraid to be interrogated by a Maid; at ano­ther [Page 122] time he could boldly confront the whole Coun­cil, and own Christ and his truths to their faces. In extraordinary trials, we may warrantably expect ex­traordinary assistances, and by them we shall be car­ried through the greatest, how often soever we have failed in smaller trials.

2. The design and end of God in giving us expe­rience of our own weakness in lesser troubles, is not to discourage and daunt us against we come to grea­ter, (which is the use Satan here makes of it) but to take us off from self-confidence and self-dependence; to make us see our own weakness, that we may more heartily and humbly betake our selves to him in the way of faith and fervent supplication.

4. Plea.

But some will object that they cannot help their fears and tremblings when any danger appears; be­cause fear is the disease, at least the sad effect and Symptome of a disease with which God hath woun­ded them; a deep and fixed melancholy hath so far prevailed, that the least trouble overcomes them: If any sad afflictive providence befal, or but threaten them; their fears presently rise, and their hearts sink, sleep departs, thoughts tumultuate, the bloud boyls, and the whole frame of nature is put into disor­der. If therefore the Lord should permit such great and dreadful trials to befal them, they can think of nothing less than dying by the hand of their own fears, before the hand of any enemy touch them; or which is a thousand times worse, be driven by their fears into the net of temptation, even to deny the Lord that bought them.

Answer.

This I know is the sad case of many gracious per­sons, and I have reason to pity those that are thus ex­ercised; O 'tis an heavy stroke, a dismal state, a deep wound indeed: But yet the wisdom of God hath or­dered this affliction upon his people for gracious ends and uses; hereby they are made the more tender and watchful, circumspect and careful in their ways, that they may shun and escape as many occasions of trouble as they can, being so unable to grapple with them. I say not but there are higher and nobler motives that make them circumspect and tender, but yet the pre­servation of our own quietness is useful in its place, and 'tis a mercy if that or any thing else be sanctified to prevent sin, and promote care of duty. This is your clog to keep you from straying.

2. And when you shall be called forth to greater trials, that which you now call your snare, may be your advantage, and that in divers respects.

1. These very distempers of body and mind serve to imbitter the comforts and pleasures of this world to you, and make life it self less desirable to you than it is to others, they much wean your hearts from, and make life more burdensome to you than it is to others who enjoy more of the pleasure and sweetness of it than you can do. I have often thought this to be one design and end of Providence in permitting such di­stempers to seize so many gracious persons as labour under it, and providence knows how to make use of this effect to singular pur­pose and advantage to you,It was common with the Martyrs to sweeten death to themselves by reckoning what infirmities it would cure them of, one of his blindness, another of his lameness, &c. when [Page 124] a call to suffering shall come; this may have its place and use under higher and more spiritual considerations to facilitate death, and make your separation from this world the more easie to you; for though it be a more noble and raised act of faith and self denial to offer up to God our lives, when they are made most pleasant and desirable to us upon natural accounts, yet it is not so easie to part with them as it is when God hath first imbittered them to us. Your lives are of little value to you now, because of this burdensome clog you must draw after you, but if you should increase your burden by so horrid an addition of guilt, as the denying of Christ, or his known truths would do, you would not know what to do with such a life; it would certainly lie upon your hands as a burthen. God knows how to use these things in the way of his provi­dence to your great advantage.

2. Art thou a poor melancholy and timorous per­son? Certainly if thou be gracious as well as timorous this will drive thee nearer to God; and the greater thy dangers are, the more frequent and fervent will thy addresses to him be: Thou feelest the need of everlasting arms underneath thee to bear thee up under, and to carry through smaller troubles; that other persons make nothing of, much more in such deep trials, that put the strongest Christians to the utmost of their faith and patience.

And 3dly. What if the Lord will make an advan­tage out of your weakness, to display more evident­ly his own power in your support? you know what the Apostle saith, 1 Cor. 12. 9, 10. And he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness: most gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me—for when I am weak, then am I [Page 125] strong. If his infirmities might serve as a foil to set off the grace of God with a more bright and spark­ling lustre, he would rejoyce in his infirmities, and so should you: Well then, let not this discourage you, the infirmity of nature you complain of may make death the less terrible; it served to that purpose to blessed Basil (as you heard before) when his ene­my threatned to tear out his Liver, he thought it a kindness to have that Liver torn out that had given him so much trouble. It may drive thee nearer to God, and minister a fit opportunity for the display of his grace in the time of need.

5. Plea.

But what if God should hide his face from my soul in the day of my streights and troubles, and not on­ly so, but permit Satan to buffet me with his horrid temptations and injections, and so I should fall like the Ship in which Paul sailed, betwixt these two boisterous Seas; what can I suspect less than a shipwrack of my soul, body, and all the comforts of both, in this world, and in that to come?

Answer.

1. So far as the fears of such a misery awaken you to prayer for the prevention of it, it may be service­able to your souls, but when it only works distraction and despondency of mind, it is your sin, and Satans snare. The Prophet Ieremy made a good use of such a supposed evil by way of deprecation, Ier. 17. 17. Be not a terror unto me, thou art my hope in the day of evil. q. d. In the evil day I have no place of retreat or refuge, but thy love and favour; Lord, [Page 126] that is all I have to depend on, and relieve my self by: I comfort my self against trouble with this con­fidence, that if men be cruel, yet thou wilt be kind; if they frown, thou wilt smile; if the world cast me out, thou wilt take me in; but if thou shouldest be a terror to me instead of a comforter, if they afflict my body, and thou affright my soul with thy frowns too; what a deplorable condition shall I be in then! Improve it to such an end as he did, to secure the favour of God, and it will do you no harm.

2. It is not usual with God to estrange himself from his people in trouble, nor to frown upon them when men do. The common experience of Belie­vers stands ready to attest and seal this truth, that Christians never find more kindness from God, than when they feel most cruelty from men for his sake; consult the whole cloud of witnesses, and you will find they have still found the undoubted verity of that tried word in 1 Pet. 4. 14. That the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon sufferers. The expression seems to allude to the Dove that Noah sent forth out of the Ark, which flew over the watry world, but could not rest self any where till she returned to the Ark. So the Spirit of God, called here the Spirit of Glory, from his effects and fruits, viz. his chear­ing sealing and reviving influences which makes men glory and triumph in the most afflicted state. This spirit of God seems like that Dove to hover up and down, to flee hither and thither, over this person and that, but resteth not so long upon any, as those that suffer for righteousness sake, there he commonly takes up his abode and residence.

[Page 127] 3. And what if it should fall out in some respect according to your fears? that heaven and earth should be both clouded together, yet it will not be long before the pleasant light will spring up to you again, Psal. 112. 4. Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness. You shall have his supporting presence till the comforter do come. When Mr. Glover came within sight of the stake, he suddenly cries out, O Austin, he is come, he is come.

6. Plea.

O but what if my trial should be long, and the siege of temptations tedious, then I am perswaded I am lost; I am no way able to continue long in a Prison, or in tortures for Christ, I have no strength to endure a long siege, my patience is too short to hold out from month to month, and from year to year, as many have done: O! I dread the thoughts of long continued trials, I tremble to think what must be the issue.

Answer.

1. Cannot you distrust your own strength and ability, but you must also limit Gods? What if you have but a small stock of Patience, cannot the Lord strengthen you with all might in the inner man unto all patience and long-suffering with joyfulness, according to his glorious power, 1 Coll. 11. And is it not his promise, to confirm you to the end. 1 Cor. 1. 8. You neither know how much, nor how long you can bear and suffer. It is not inherent, but as­sisting grace by which your suffering abilities are to [Page 128] be measured. God can make that little stock of pa­tience you have to hold out as the poor Widows cruise of oyl did, till deliverance come, he can enable your patience unto its perfect work, (i. e.) to work as extensively to all the kinds and sorts of trials, as in­tensively to the highest degree of trial, and as proten­sively to the longest duration and continuance of your trials, as he would have it: If this be a marvellous thing in your eyes, must it be so in Gods eyes also?

2. The Lord knows the proper season to come in to the relief of your slideing and fainting patience, and will assuredly come in accordingly in that season; for so run the promises, The Lord shall judge his peo­ple, and repent himself for his servants when he seeth that their power is gone, and that there is none shut up or left, Deut. 32. 36. Cum duplicantur lateres venit Moses. In the mount of difficulties and extre­mities it shall be seen. The rod of the wicked shall not rest upon the lot of the Righteous, lest the Righteous put forth their hands unto iniquity, Psal. 125. 3. Ubi desinit humanum, ibi incipit divinum auxilium. Gods power watches the opportunity of your weak­ness.

7. Plea.

But what if I should be put to cruel and exquisite tortures, suppose to the rack, to the fire, or such most dreadful sufferings as other Christians have been, what shall I do? do I think I am able to bear it? Is my strength the strength of stone, or are my bones brass, that ever I should endure such barba­barous cruelties? Alas! death in the mildest form is terrible to me; how terrible then must such a death be?

Answer.

Who enabled those Christians you mention to en­dure these things? They loved their lives, and sensed their pains as well as you, they had the same thoughts and fears many of them, that you now have; yet God carried them through all, and so he can you: Did not he make the devouring Flames a bed of Roses to some of them? Was he not within the fires? Did he not abate the ex [...]remity of the torment, and enable weak and tender persons to endure them patiently and chearfully? some singing in the midst of flames, others clapping their hands triumphantly, and to the last sight that could be had of them in this world, nothing appeared but signs and demonstrations of joy unspeakable. Ah friends! we judge of sufferings by the outside, and appearance, which is terrible, but we know not the inside of sufferings which is exceed­ing comfortable. O when shall we have done with our unbelieving ifs and buts, our questionings and doubtings of the power, wisdom and render care of our God over us, and learn to trust him over all. Now the just shall live by faith, and he that lives by faith, shall never die by fear. The more you trust God, the less you will torment your selves. I have done; the Lord strengthen, stablish, and settle the trem­bling and feeble hearts of his people, by what hath been so seasonably offered for their relief by a weak hand. Amen.

THE END.
THE RIGHTEOVS MAN'S …

THE RIGHTEOVS MAN'S REFUGE IN THE Evil Day.

OR, A Treatise upon the Attributes of GOD, as they are opened in his Pro­mises and Providences for the Security of his People in the Storms of publick Cala­mities, from Isaiah 26. v. 20.

By Iohn Flavel Minister of the Gospel.

‘A Man shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest; as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. ’ Isaiah 32. 2.

‘Non facilè inveniuntur praesidia in adversitate, quae non fuerint in pace quaesita. ’ Augustine.

LONDON, Printed by H. Hills, for Robert Boulter at the Turks head in Cornhill. 1681.

THE EPISTLE TO THE READER.

Christian Reader,

IF Heinsius, when he had shut up himself in the Library at Leyden, reckoned him­self placed in the very lap of Eternity, because he conversed there with so many Divine Souls,Plerumque in qua si­mul [...]c pedem posui, fo­ribus pessulum abdo, & in ipso eternitatis gremio inter tot illu­stres animas sedem mi­hi sumo; cum ingen­ti quidem animo, ut subinde Magnatum me misereat qui felicita­tem hanc ignorant. E­pistola primira. and profes­ed, he took his seat in it with so lofty a spirit and sweet content, that he heartily pittied all the great and rich men of the world, that were ignorant of the happiness he there daily enjoyed. How much more may that soul re­ioyce in its own happiness, [Page] who hath shut himself up in the Chambers of the Divine Attributes, and exercise pity for the exposed and miserable multitude that are left as a prey to the temptations and troubles of the World?

That the days are evil is a truth preached to us by the convincing voice of sence, and that they are like to be worse, few can doubt that look into the moral causes of evil times, the impudent height of sin, or into the Pro­phesies relating to these latter days; for whom the sharpest sufferings are appointed, to make way for the sweetest mercies. A faithful Watchman of our own hath given us fresh and late warning in these words of truth. Hath God said nothing? Doth Faith see nothing of a flood coming upon us? Is there such a deluge of sin among us, Mr. R. A. Of Godly Fear. p. 19. and doth not that Prophesie to us of a deluge of Wrath? Lift up your eyes Christians, stand, and look through the land, Eastward, and West­ward, Northward, and Southward, and tell me what you see? Behold a flood cometh, a flood of sin is already broken forth upon us, the fountains of the great [Page] deeps are broken up, and the windows of Hell are opened, &c. In such an Evil day as this is, happy is the soul that hath made God its refuge, even the most high God its habitation. He shall sit Noah like, Me­diis tranquillus in undis, safe from the fear of evil. In consideration of the distress of many unprovided souls for the misery that is coming on them, and not knowing how short my useful time will be to any, (for I know it cannot be long) I have endeavoured once more the assistance of poor Christians in these two small Treati­ses, one of Fear, the other of Preparation for the worst times, which it may be is the last help I shall this way be able to afford them. It is therefore my earnest request to all that fear the Lord, and tremble at his word, to redeem their time with double diligence, because the days are evil. To clear up their interest in Christ and the promises, lest the dark­ness of their Spiritual estate, meeting with such a night of outward darkness o­verwhelmed them with terrors insupporta­ble. Some help is offered in this Treatise to direct the gracious Soul to its rest in God. May the blessings of his Spirit ac­company [Page] them, and bless them to the Soul of him that Readeth. It will be matter of joy, beyond all earthly joys to the heart of,

Thy Friend and Servant in Christ, John Flavell.

THE RIGHTEOVS MAN'S REFUGE, &c.

Isaiah 26. v. 20.‘Come my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee; hide thy self as it were for a little moment till the indignation be over-past.’

CHAP. 1.

Wherein the literal, and real importance of the Text are considered, the Doctrine propoun­ded, and the method of the following di­scourse stated.

SECT. 1.

MAn being a prudent and prospecting Crea­ture, can never be satisfied with present safety; except he may also see himself well secured against future dangers. Upon all appearances of trouble, 'tis natural to him to seek a refuge that he may be able to Shun what he is loath to Suffer, and survive those calamities which will ruine the defenceless and exposed multi­tude. [Page 138] Natural men seek refuge in natural things. The rich mans wealth is his strong city, and as an high wall in his own conceit, Prov. 18. 11. Hypocrites make lies their refuge, and under falshood do they hide themselves, Isa. 28. 15. Not doubting but they shall stand dry and safe, when the overflowing flood lays all others under water. But,

Godly men make God himself their hiding place, to him they have still betaken themselves in all ages, as often as calamities have befallen the world, Ps. 46. 1. God is our refuge and strength a very present help in trouble. As Chickens run under the wings of the Hen for safe­ty, when the Kite hovers over them, so do they fly to their God for sanctuary, Psal. 56. 3. At what time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. q. d. Lord, if a storm of trouble at any time overtake me, I will make bold to come under thy roof for shelter, and indeed not so bold as welcome; 'tis no presumption in them, after so gracious an invitation from their God, Come, my people, enter thou into thy cham­bers.

My Friends, a sound of trouble is in our ears, the clouds gather and blacken upon us more and more: Distress of Nations with perplexity seems to be near, our day hastens to an end, and the shadows of the night are stretching forth upon us. What greater service therefore can I do for your souls, than by the light of this Scripture (as with a Candle in my hand) to lead you to your Chambers, and shew you your Lodgings in the Attributes and promises of God, before I take my leave of you, and bid you good night.

O with what satisfaction should I part with you, were I but sure to leave you under Christs wings! It was Christs lamentation over Ierusalem, that they [Page 139] would not be gathered under his wings, when the Ro­man Eagle was ready to hover over that City; and you know how dear they paid for their obstinacy and infidelity. Be warned by that dreadful example, and among the rest of your mercies bless God heartily for this, That so sweet a voice sounds from Heaven in your ears this day, this day of frights and troubles; Come my people, enter thou into thy Chambers, &c.

This Chapter contains a lovely song fitted for the lips of Gods Israel, notwithstanding their sad capti­vity; for their God was with them in Babylon, and heard their hearts there with many promises of delive­rance, and in the mystical sence, it relates to the New Testament Churches, of whose troubles, protecti­ons, and deliverances, the Iews in Babylon were a Type.

This Chapter, though full of excellent and season­able truths, will be too long to Analize; it shall suffice to search back only to the 17 verse, where you find the poor captived Church under desponden­cy of mind, comparing her co [...]dition to that of a woman in travail, who hath many sharp pains, and bitter throws, yet cannot be delivered, much like that in 2 Kings 19. 3. The children are come to the birth and there is no strength to bring forth.

Against this discouragement a double relief is ap­plyed in the following Verses, the one is a Promise of full deliverance at last; the other an Invitation in­to a sure Sanctuary and place of defence for present, until the time of their full deliverance came. The promise we have in verse 19. Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise; awake and sing ye that dwell in the dust, &c. Their capti­vity was a civil death, and Babylon as a grave to them, So it is elsewhere described, Ezek. 37. v. 1, 3, 12. [Page 140] I will open your graves and cause you to come up out of your graves and bring you into the land of Israel. And therefore their deliverance is carried under the notion of a resurrection in that promise.

Objection. Yea, (might they reply) the hopes of deliverance at last is some comfort, but alas, that may be far off: How shall we subsist till then?

Sol. Well enough, for as you have in that pro­mise a sure ground of deliverance at last, so in the interim here is a gracious Invitation into a place of security for the present, Come my people, enter thou into thy chambers. In which invitation Four things call for our close attention.

1. The Form of the invitation, including in it the qualified subject, Come my people. Gods own pe­culiar people, who have chosen God for their por­tion, and resigned up themselves sincerely to him in the Covenant, are the persons here invited, the same which he before called the righteous nation that kept the truth, verse 2. he means [...]hose that remained faithful to God (as many of them did) in Babylon, witness their sorrow for Sion, Psal. 137 per totum; and their solemn Appeal to God that their hearts were not turned back, nor had their steps declined though they were [...]ore broken in the place of Dragons, and covered with the shadow of death, Psal. 44. 18, 19, 20. These are the people invited to the chambers of security. And the form of invitation is full of ten­der compassion, Come my people; like a tender father that sees a storm coming upon his children in the fields, and takes them by the hand, saying, Come away my dear children, hasten home with me le [...]t the storm overtake you, or as the Lord said to Noah be­fore the Deluge, Come thou and all thy house into the Ark, and God shut him in, Gen. 7. 1. 16. This [Page 141] is the form of the invitation, Come my people.

2. The priviledge invited to; Enter thou into thy chambers. There is some variety, and indeed varie­ty rather than contrariety in the exposition of these words.

In this all are agreed, that by their Chambers,Ezek. 21. 14. is not meant the Cham­bers of their own houses; for alas, their houses were left unto them desolate; and if not, yet they could be no security to them now, when neither their own houses nor their fortified city was able to defend them before.

Grotius expounds it of the Grave, and makes these Chambers the same Grot. in loc. with the Chambers of death. Ite in cubiqula, h. e. sepulchra vestra. The grave indeed is a place of security where God sometimes hides some of his people in troublesome times, as is plain in Isa. 57. 1, 2. but I cannot allow this to be the sence of this Text; God doth not comfort his captives with a natural against a civil death, but with protection in their troubles upon earth, as is evident from the scope of the whole Chapter.

By Chambers therefore, others understand the cham­bers of Divine providence, where the S [...]ints are hid in evil days. So our Annotatons on the place, and no doubt but this is in part the special intendment of the Text.

Others understand the Attributes and Promises of God to be here meant, as well as his providences. And I conceive all three make the sence of the Text full, (i. e.) the Divine Attributes engaged in the promises, and exercised or actuated in the provi­dences of God; these are the sanctuaries and refuges of Gods people in days of trouble.

[Page 192] Calvin understands it of the quiet repose of the Believers mind in God, but that is rather the effect of his security, than the place of it. It's Gods Attributes or his name (which is the same thing) to which the righteous fly and are safe, Prov. 18. 10.

Object. But you will say, why are they called their Chambers? Those Attributes are not their [...], but Gods.

Sol. The answer is easie, though they be Gods Properties, yet they are his peoples priviledges, and benefits; for when God makes over himself to them in Covenant to be their God, he doth as it were de­liver to them the Keys of all his Attributes for their benefit and security; and is as if he should say, my wisdom is yours, to contrive for your good; my power is yours, to protect your persons; my mercy yours, to forgive your sins; my all-sufficiency yours, to supply your wants; all that I am, and all that I have is for your benefit and comfort. These are the Chambers provided for the Saints lodgings and into these they are invited to enter. Enter thou into thy chambers. By entring into them understand their actual faith exercised in acts of affiance, and resigna­tion to God in all their dangers. So Psal. 56. 3. At what time I am afraid (said David) I will trust in thee. q.. d. Lord, if a Storm come I will make bold to shelter my self from it under thy wings by faith; look as unbelief shuts the doors of all Gods At­tributes and promises against us; so faith opens them all to the Soul, and so much of the priviledge invited to, which is the second thing.

3. We have here a needful caution for the secu­ring of this priviledge to our selves in evil times, shut thy doors about thee. Or as the Syriack renders [...] behind or after thee, i. e. [...]aith Calvin, [Page 193] Diligenter cavendum ne ulla rimula diabolo ad nos pa­u [...]t. Care must be taken that no passage be left open to the Devil to creep in after us and drive us out of our refuge; for so it falls out too often with Gods people, when they are at rest in Gods name or promises, Satan creeps in by unbelieving doubts and puzling objections, and beats them out of their re­fuge back again into trouble; it is therefore of great concernment in such times especially, not to give place to the Devil, as the phrase is, Eph. 4. 17. but [...]eave to God by a resolved reliance.

4. Lastly, we are to note with what Arguments or motives they are prest to betake themselves to this refuge. There are two found in the Text, the one working upon their fear, the other upon their hope.

1. That which works upon their fear, is a suppo­sition of a storm coming, the indignation of God will fall like a tempest; this is supposed in the Text, and plainly expressed in the words following, For the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth, ver. 21.

2. The other is fitted to work upon their hope, though his indignation fall like a Storm, yet it will not continue long; it shall be but for amoment, bet­ter days and more comfortable dispensations will fol­low. From all which the general observation is this.

Doctrine.

That the Attributes, Promises, and Providences of God are the Chambers of rest and security, in which his people are to hide themselves, when they foresee the [...]orms of his indignation coming upon the world.

The name of the Lord (saith Solomon) is a strong Tower; the righteous run into it, and are safe, Prov. [Page 144] 18. 10. And his Attributes are his name, Exod. 34. 5. For by them he is known as a man is known by his name, and this his name is a strong Tower for his peoples security; now what is the use and end of a Tower in a City, but to receive and secure the In­habitants when the outworks are beaten to the ground, the walls scaled, and the houses left de­solate?

And as it is here resembled to a Tower, so in Isa. 33. 16. Its shadowed out unto us by a munition of rocks, His place of defence shall be a munition of rocks. How secure is that person that is environed with rocks on every side? Yea you will say, but yet a rock is but a cold and barren refuge, though other enemies cannot, yet hunger and thirst can invade and kill him there. No, in this rock is a store-house of provisi­on, as well as a magazine for defence; so it follows, Bread shall be given him and his water shall be sure.

And sometimes it is resembled to us by the wings of a fowl, spread with much tenderness over her young for their defence, Psal. 57. 1. Yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge until these calamities be overpast. So Psal. 17. 8. Keep me as the apple of thine eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings. No part of the body hath more guards upon it, than the apple of the eye God is as careful to preserve his people, as men are to preserve their eyes; and he that toucheth them, toucheth the apple of his eyes. But we need not go from one Metaphor to another, to shew you where the Saints refuge is in time of danger, you have a whole bundle of them lying to­gether in that one Scripture, Psal. 18. 2. The Lord is my rock and my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my strength in whom I will trust, my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. Where [Page 145] you find all kinds of defence, whether natural, or artificial, under a pleasant variety of apt Metaphors, ascribed to God for the security of his people.

Now for the casting of this great point into as easie and profitable a Method as I can; I shall resolve this general truth into these following Propositions, which are implied or expressed in the Text and Doctrine thence deduced; and the first is this.

1. Proposition.

That there are times and seasons appointed by God for the pouring out of his indignation upon the world.

2. Proposition.

That Gods own people are concerned in, and ought to be affected with those Iudgments.

3. Proposition.

That God hath a special and particular care of his people in the days of his indignation.

4. Proposition.

That God usually premonishes the world, especially his own people, of his Iudgments before they befal them.

5. Proposition.

That Gods Attributes, Promises, and Providences are prepared for the security of his people, in the greatest distresses that befal them in the world.

6. Proposition.

That none▪ but Gods people are taken into these cham­bers of security, or can expect his special protection in evil times.

And then I shall apply the whole in the proper uses of it.

CHAP. II.

Demonstrating the first Proposition, That there are times and seasons appointed by God for the pouring out of his indignation upon the world.

SECT. I.

THis is plainly implyed in the Text, that there are times of indignation appointed to befal the world; yea, and more than this; not only that such times shall come, but the duration and continuance is also under an appointment. Hide thy self for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. The Prophet tells us in Zeph. 2. 2. that these Stormy times are under a decree, and that decree is there compared to a pregnant Woman which is to go out her appointed months, and then to travel and bring forth: Even so it is in the judgments God brings upon the world. We see them not in the days of provocation, sed ad­huc faetus in utero latet, but all this while it is in the womb of the decree, and at the appointed season they shall become visible to the world. As there are in Nature fair Halcyon days, and cloudy, overcast, and stormy: So 'tis in providences, Ec [...]les. 7. 14. God hath set one over against the other. Yea, one is the occasion of the other; for look as the Sun in a hot day exhales abundance of vapours from the Earth and Sea, these occasion showers thunder and tem­pests, and those again clear the Air, and dispose it to fair weather again. So it is here, Prosperity is the [Page 147] occasion of abundance of sin, this brings on adver­sity from the justice of God to correct it; adversity being sanctified, humbles, reforms, and purges the people of God, and this again by mercy procures their prosperity: So you find the account [...] in Psal. 107. 17. Fools because of their iniquities are▪ af­flicted, then they cry to the Lord in their troubles, and he saveth them out of their distresses.

And this appointment of times of distress is both profitable and necessary for the world, especially Gods own people in it.

In general, hereby the Being and righteousness of God is cleared and vindicated against the Atheism and Infidelity of the world, Psal. 9. 16. The Lord is known by the Iudgments that he executeth. Impu­nity is the occasion of many Atheistical thoughts in the world. Ier. 48. 11. Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath setled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity; therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed. So Psal. 55. 19. Be­cause they have no changes therefore they fear no [...] God. Kingdoms, Families, and particular persons, like standing waters and ponds, are apt to corrupt by long continued peace and prosperity; the Lord there­fore sees it necessary to purge the world by his judg­ments; When thy judgments are in the earth, the in­habitants of the world will learn righteousness. Those Sermons that God preaches from heaven by the ter­rible voice of his judgments, startle and rouze the secure world, more than all the warnings and exhor­tations of his Ministers could ever do: Those that slept securely under our Ministry, will fear and trem­ble under his rods; those that are without faith are not without sense and feeling, their own eyes will [Page 148] affect their hearts, though our words could make no impression on them.

SECT. II.

BUt of what use soever these National Judgments are to others, to be sure they shall be beneficial to Gods own people; when others die by fear, they shall live by faith: If they be baneful poison to the wicked, they shall be healthful physick to the God­ly. For,

1. By these calamities God will mortifie and purge their corruptions; this Winter weather shall be useful to destroy and rot those rank weeds, which the Summer of prosperity bred, Isa. 27. 9. By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged. Phy­sick in its own nature is griping and unpleasant; but very useful and necessary to purge the body from noxious and malignant humours, which retained may put life it self in hazard; and it is with the bo­dy Politick, as with the body Natural.

2. National Judgments drive the people of God nearer to him, and one to another, they drive the peo­ple of God to their knees, and make them pray more frequently, more fervently, and more feelingly than they were wont to do; in this posture you find them in ver. 8, 9. of this Chapter. Yea, in the way of thy judg­ments, O Lord, have we waited for thee, the desire of our soul is to thy name, and to the remembrance of thee. With my soul have I desired thee in the night, yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early.

3. In a word, by these distractions and distresses of Nations, the people of God are more weaned from the world, and made to long more vehemently after [Page 149] heaven; being now convinced by experience that this is not their rest. When all things are tranquil and prosperous, Gods own people are but too apt to fall asleep and dream of pleasure and rest on earth, to say as Iob in his prosperity, I shall die in my nest, I shall multiply my days as the sand. And then are their heads and hearts filled with many projects and designs; to promote their comforts, and make pro­vision for their accommodations on earth: The mul­tiplicity of earthly cares and comforts take up their time and thoughts, too much, and make them that they mind death and eternity too little. But saith God, this must not be so, things must not go on at this rate, the prosperous world must not thus en­chant my people; I must imbitter the earth that I may thereby sweeten heaven the more to them; when they find no rest below, they will surely seek it a­bove.

These and such like are the gracious designs and ends of God in shaking the world by his terrible judgments; but yet, though National troubles must necessarily come, the wisest of men cannot positively determine the precise time of those judgments; we may indeed by the signs of the times discern their near approach; yet our judgment can be but pro­bable and conjectural, seeing there are tacite condi­tions in the dreadfullest threatnings, Ier. 18. 7, 8. Ionah 3. 9, 10. And such is the merciful nature of God, that he oft times turns away his anger from his people, when it seems ready to pour down upon them, Psal. 78. 38. The consideration whereof no way in­dulges security, but encourages to repentance, and greater fervency in Prayer.

CHAP. III.

Opening and confirming the second Proposition, viz. That Gods own people are much con­cerned in, and ought to be suitably af­fected with, those Iudgments that befal the Nation wherein they live.

SECT. I.

IF Gods people have no concernment in these things, why are they called upon in this Text, to run into their chambers, hide themselves, and shut their doors, till the indignation be overpast? Certain­ly though God hath better provided for them than o­thers, yet they are two ways concerned in these cases as much as others. Viz.

Account.
  • 1. Upon a Political
  • 2. Upon a Religious

1. Upon a Political account, as they are mem­bers of the community, and so are equally concern­ed in the good or evil that befal the Nation in which they live, their Cabbins must follow the fate of the Ship in which they Sail, their Lives, Liberties, E­states, and Interest sink and swim with the publick. The good figs were carried away with the bad, Ier. 24. 5. In these outward respects it often times bears as hard upon the righteous as upon the wicked. Ezek▪ 21. 3. I will draw forth my sword out of his Sheath and will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked. [Page 151] In these outward respects as it is with the good, so with the sinner, Eccles. 9. 2. The same fire that burns the dry tree, oftentimes burns the green tree too. Ezek. 20. 47. Gr [...]ce is above all hazards, but creature enjoyments and comforts are not. The sins of the Sodomites involve not only their own houses and estates, but Lots also, in the ruine and o­verthrow; wicked men often fare the better for the company of the godly, and the godly often fare the worse for the company of the wicked.

And it is not to be wondered at, if we consider that even the Saints themselves have an hand in the provocation of these judgments, as well as others, Deut. 32. 19. And when the Lord saw it he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons and of his daughters. We have contrihuted to the common heap guilt, and therefore must justifie God if we partake with others in the common calamity.

2. They are greatly concerned in such judgments upon a Religious and Christian account, for it is usu­al for the floud of Gods judgments not only to sweep away our civil and natural, but our spiritual and best enjoyments and comforts. Thus the Ordinances of God ceased in Babylon, and there the faithful bewail­ed their misery upon that account, Ps. 137. per totum; we wept when we remembred thee, O Zion. Not only Israel flies, but the Ark is taken prisoner by the enemy, 1 Sam. 4. 11. And you find the people of God more deeply concerned upon this account, than for all their outward losses and other sufferings, Zeph. 3. 18. I will gather them of thee that are sorrowful for the Solemn assemblies, to whom the reproach of it was aburthen. For by how much our souls are more ex­cellent than our bodies, and the concerns of Eternity over ballance those of time; by so much more are [Page 152] we concerned in the loss of our spiritual, more than of our temporal mercies and enjoyments.

Grace indeed cannot be lost, but the means and instruments by which it is begotten may; the golden candlestick is one of the moveables in Gods house, Rev. 2. 5.

Thus you see a twofold concernment that the peo­ple God have in the effects of National Judgments.

SECT. II.

THis being So, how should all that fear God be affected with the appearances and signs of his indignation? So was David, Psal. 119. 120. My flesh trembleth for fear of thee, and I am afraid of thy judgments. He that feared not a Bear, a Lyon, a Goliah, yet trembleth at Gods judgments. So did Habakkuk, chap. 3. v. 16. When I heard, my belly trembled, my lips quivered at the voice, rottenness entred into my bones. Expressions denoting the deep­est seizures of fear and greatest consternations; not that I would perswade you to such slavish fear, or un­christian dejection, as it is not only sinful in it self, but the cause and inlet of many other sins: But to a due sense both of the evils of misery that will befal the Nation when Gods indignation comes upon it; and the evils of sin that have incensed it; and to such a fear of both as may seasonably awaken us to the use of all preventing remedies. And first,

1. O that all would lay to heart the National miseries that Gods indignation threatens upon us. It is said, Psal. 107. 34. A fruitful land is turned into barrenness for the wickedness of them that dwell there­in. It was long since told England by one of its faithful [Page 153] watchmen.* Mr. Strong. ‘The Nation and Church▪ in which we are, is the common Ship in which we are all embarked, and if this in judgment be cast away, whether dashed against the rocks of any Foreign power, or swallowed up in the quick­sands of Domestick divisions, it must needs hazard all the Passengers: Or if you were sure, that for your parts you might be safe; would it not be a bitter thing, to stand upon the shore, and see such a glorious vessel as this Nation is, to be cast away? To see this glorious Land defaced, the blessed Gos­pel polluted, the golden candlestick removed, it cannot but affect men that have any bowels.’

Or if this move you not, yet to see a stranger to Lord it in thy habitation, and thy dwelling place to cast thee out; for your delightsome dwellings, your fruitful pleasant and well tilled fields to be made a prey; for you to sow, and another to reap Impius has segetes; for the delicate woman upon whom the wind must not blow, to be exposed to the lust and cruelty of an enemy, and be glad to fly away naked to prolong a miserable life, which they would be glad to part with for death, were it not for fear of the exchange. For the tender Mother to look upon the Child of her womb; and consider, must this child in whom I have placed the hope of my age; for,
Omnis in Ascanio stat chari cura parentis;
He that hath been so tenderly bred up, must he fall into the rough hands of a bloudy Souldier, skilful to destroy. It had been well for me if God had given me dry breasts, or a miscarrying womb, ra­than to bring forth children unto murtherers; or if you might be safe, how could you endure to see the miseries that should come upon your people, [Page 154] and the destruction of your kindred.

Thus far he▪ But alass! What security have any of us as to our earth­ly comforts from the common calamity? We may please our selves as Baruch did, Ier 45. 4, 5. and dream of exemption, but by so much the greater will our distress be, when it shall surprise us.

2. You that are the people of God ought to be deeply affected with the spiritual miseries that threa­ten us in the day of Gods indignation: do you consi­der what the removing the Candlestick out of its place is? A departing Gospel, the going down of the Sun up­on the Prophets, the loss of your sweet Sabbaths, and Gospel Feasts, and the gross darkness of Popery to fill the earth: O it is hard parting with these things, it's said, 1 Sam. 7. 2. when the Ark was removed, that all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord. Pity your own Souls, and be deeply affected with the misery of others, the poor Christless world, who are like to perish for want of Vision, Prov. 29. 18. In the Year 1072, saith Matthew Par [...]s, Preaching was suppressed at Rome, and then Letters were fra­med by some as coming from hell; in which the De­vil gives them thanks for the multitude of Souls sent to him that year.

3. But especially labour to affect your hearts with the sins that have incensed Gods indignation: So did the Saints in Ierusalem, Ezek. 9. 4. they sighed and mourned for all the abominations committed in it. So did Lot, 2 Pet. 2. 7. He vexed his righteous soul from day to day. So did David, Psal. 119. 136. Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because men kept not thy law. O who that loves God can refrain tears, to see the God of pity, the God of tender mer­cies, a father full of bowels of compassion, so incen­sed and provoked to indignation! Oh it is an heart­melting [Page 155] consideration where there is any ingenuity. If our afflictions grieve God to the heart as it doth Iudg. 10. 16. Our souls should be grieved for his dishonour.

4. To conclude, get upon your hearts such a sense of Gods indignation as may quicken you to the use of preventing duties. So Amos 4. 12. Because I will do this prepare to meet thy God, O Israel. So the Pro­phet, Zeph. 2. 1, 2. Gather your selves together be­fore the decree bring forth. It was Moses his honour to stand in the breach, Psal. 106. 23. And Abra­bam's to plead so with God, though he did not pre­vail.

CHAP. IV.

Confirming the third Proposition. viz. That God hath a special and peculiar care of his own in the days of his indignation.

SECT. I.

PRopriety and Relation engages Care and Solici­tude in times of Danger; we see God hath put such a Storge, and inclination into the very creatures, that they will expose themselves to preserve their young; and it cannot be imagined that the fountain of Pity which dropt this tenderness into the bowels of the crea­tures, should not abound with it himself; is there such strong inclination in the very birds of the air, that they will hazard their own lives to save their young▪ [...] much more is God solicitous for his people. Isa. 31. [Page 156] 5. As birds flying, &c. to their nests when their young are in danger: So will the Lord of Hosts defend Jeru­salem. No mother is more solicitous for her dearest Child in danger and distress, than the Lord is for his people. Isa. 49. 15. Can a Woman forget her suck­ing child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee. A woman [the more affectionate Sex forget her child] a piece of her self, her suck­ing child, which together with milk from the breast draws love from the heart. This may rather be sup­posed, than that the Lord should forget his people.

Two things must here be cleared. 1. That it is so. 2. Why it is so.

1. That it is so will appear from,

  • 1. Scripture Emblems.
  • 2. Scripture Promises.
  • 3. Scripture Instances.

1. Scripture Emblems, and among many, I will upon this occasion single out two or three principal ones. In Ezek. 5. 1, 2, 3. And thou son of [...] take thee a sharp knife, take thee a Barbers razo [...], and cause it to pass upon thine head and upon thy beard, then take the balances to weigh and divide the hair; thou shalt burn with fire a third part in the midst of the City, when the days of the siege are fulfilled, and thou shalt take a third part, and smite about it with a knife, and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them: Thou shalt also take thereof a few in number, and bind them in thy skirts. You find this truth shadowed out in this excellent Emblem; Ierusalem the capital City is the head, the numerous inhabitants are the hair, the [Page 157] King of Babylon the Razor, the weighing it in ba­lances, is the exactness of Gods procedure in Judg­ment with them; the fire, knife, and wind, are the various judgments to which the people were appoin­ted; the hiding of a few in the Prophets skirt, is the care of God for the preservation of his own remnant in the common calamity, this is one Emblem clear­ing this point. And then, in Ezek. 9. 3, 4. the same truth is presented to us in another Emblem, as lively and significant as the former. And behold, six men came from the way of the higher gate, which lieth toward the north, and every man a slaughter weapon in his hand, and one among them was cloathed in linnen with a writers ink [...]orn by his side, and they went in and stood before the brazen Altar; and the glory of the God of Israel was gone up from the Cherub, where­upon he was, to the threshold of his house, and he called to the man cloathed with linnen, which had the writers inkborn by his side, And the Lord said un­to him, go through the midst of the City, through the midst of Jerusalem and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh, and cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof. The men that had charge over the City are the Angels appointed for that Service, some with slaughter weapons whose work it was to destroy, but one among them had a writers inkhorn by his side, and he was imployed to take the names, and mark the persons of Gods faith­ful ones among them, whom the Lord intended to preserve and hide in that common overthrow and de­solation of the City, and these were to be all marked man by man before the destroying Angel was to be­gin his bloudy work. Oh see the tender care of God over his upright mourning servants! Once more, the same truth is represented in a third Em­blem [Page 158] Mal. 3. 17. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord, in the day that I make up my jewels, and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that ser­veth him. Where the world is compared to an house on fire; God to the master, and father of the family; the wicked to the useless lumber therein; the Saints to the children and jewels in the house; about these his first and principal care of preservation is exercised, these he will be sure to save, whatever become of the rest. Thus you have the chosen Emblems that illu­strate this comfortable truth.

2. As these Scripture Emblems illustrate it, so there are many excellent Scripture Promises to confirm it, Isa. 32. 2. A man shall be for an hiding place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest: as rivers of wa­ter in a dry place. This man is the man Christ Je­sus, the tempest spoken of, are the miseries and ca­lamities of War, which make the land on which it talls, an hot, dry, and weary land; in the midst and rage whereof, Christ shall be to his faithful ones a covert for protection, a river of water for supply; and a shadow for refreshment, that is to say, whatso­ever shall be necessary either for their safety or com­fort. Christ is not only a shadow to his people from the wrath of God, but also from the rage of men. Again, Zech. 2. 5. I will be a wall of fire round about. Alluding to Travellers in the desert, who to prevent danger from wild beasts in the night, use to make a cir­cular fire round about the place where they lie down to rest, and this fire was as a wall to secure them. You have the like gracious promise also made to the poor captived Church in Ezek. 11. 16. Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and scat­tered them among the countreys, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countreys where they shall come.

[Page 159] A little Sanctuary, the word is various­ly rendred and expounded, [...] Some Adverbi­ally, and render it paulisper, a Sanctuary for a little while, viz. during their danger at the short­ness of which this Adverb points, So Iun [...]s. Others Adjectively, as we translate it, Templum paucorum, as Votablus, there were but a handful of them and God would be as a Sanctuary to secure and protect that remnant.

3. And all these promises have in all ages been faithfully fulfilled to the Saints; you have an excel­lent Scripture for this, 2 Pet. 2. 4, 5, 6. when the floud was brought upon the old world, there was one Noah a righteous man in it, and for him God provided an Ark. When Sodom was overthrown, there was one Lot in it, a just man, and God secured him out of danger; upon which that comfortable conclusion is built, ver. 9. The Lord knows how to deliver the godly. When Ierusalem was de­stroyed a Pella was provided as a refuge for the godly there. Remarkable is that place to this purpose, Isa. 25. 4. Thou hast been a strength to the poor, a [...] strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible one is as a storm against the wall. And this hath God been not only once or twice, but in all ages, Psal. 90. 1. Lord thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Or as the Hebrew, in generations, and generations. What he hath been in former genera­tions to his distressed people, that he is, and will be without alteration in all generations.

SECT. II.

YEt we must remember, that all who are preser­ved in common calamities are not the people of God; nor are all that are indeed his people prefer­ved: He hath people enough to divide into two ranks, as the Husbandman his corn, some for the mill, and some to reserve for seed. There be stars enough in the heaven to shine in both Hemispheres, and there are Saints enough in the world, some to shine in heaven, and some to preserve the Church on earth.

1. All that are preserved are not the people of God; in the Ark a wicked Cham was preserved and those that were preserved in Egypt, many of them were afterwards destroyed for their unbelief. Iud. 5. So in Ezekiel's vision, a part even of those hairs which were spared, were afterwards cast into the fire, Ezek 5. 4. Preservation from the dominion of sin, and the wrath to come, is peculiar to Gods own people; but as for temporal deliverances we cannot infer that conclusion.

2. Nor yet can we say that all Gods people shall be preserved; that promise Zeph. 2. 3. leaves it upon a may be, many a precious Christian hath fallen in the common calamity, they have been preserved in, but not from trouble.

But it is usual with God to preserve some in the sorest judgments: And the grounds of it are,

1. Because, some must be left as a seed to propa­gate and preserve the Church, which is perpetual and can never fail; he never so overthrows nations as Sodom was overthrown, Isa. 1. 9. this was the [Page 161] ground of that promise, Ier. 30. 11. For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee, though I make a full end of all nations, whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee. And of that plea, Amos 7. 2. O Lord God, forgive I beseech thee; by whom shall Iacob arise? for he is small. Except the Lord had left a small remnant, we had been as Sodom. Remarkable to this purpose, is that Scripture, Isa. 6. 13. But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: As a Teyl-tree, and as an Oak whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves. So the holy seed shall be the substance thereof. This preserved remnant is the holy seed, by which the Church is propagated and continued, Psal. 102. 28.

2. Because, God will even in this world own and reward the fears and sorrows of his people for the sins of the times, and sufferings of the Church, with the joy and comfort of better times, and a partici­pation of Sions consolation; so Isa. 66. 10. Rejoyce ye with Jerusalem, ye that have mourned for her. They that have sown in tears, do sometimes live to reap in joy, Psal. 125. 6. they shall say as Isa. 25. 9. Lo, this is our God, we have waited for him, and he is come to save us. And those that live not to reap down in this world the harvest of their own Prayers and tears, shall be no losers; a full and better reward shall be given them in heaven, Isa. 57. 22

3. Because the preserved remnant of Saints are they that must actually give unto God the glory of all his providential administrations in the world, both of judgments and mercies upon others, and towards themselves. They that go down to the pit do not cele­brate his praise, the living, the living they praise him, Isa. 38. 18, 19. Thus when God turned back Sion's captivity, the Remnant of Saints that were [Page 162] preserved, were they that recorded his praise, Psal. 126. 1, 2. Then was our mouth filled with laughter. And fully to this sense is that Scripture, Psal. 102. 19, 20, 21. He delivers those that are appointed to death, i. e. That men had doomed to death, That they may declare the name of the Lord, in Sion, and his praise in Jerusalem.

4. The hiding of the Saints in evil days, is the greatest discovery of the hand of God in the world; when he hides them he shews himself, and that, both to the Saints and to their enemies.

It is one of the most glorious mysteries of provi­dence, that ever the world beheld, viz. the strange and wonderful protection of poor helpless Christians from the rage and fury of their mighty and malicious ene­mies; though they walk visibly among them, yet they are, as it were, hid from their hands, but not from their eyes. So Ier. 1. 18. You find God made that Prophet among the envious Princes, and against an enraged and mighty King, As a defenced City, and as an iron pillar, and as a brazen wall. And indeed it was easier to them to conquer and take in the strong­est Fort or Garison, than that single Person, who yet walked day by day naked and open among them So Luther a poor Monk was made invincible, all the Papal power could not touch him, for God hid him All the world against one Athanasius, and yet not able to destroy him, for God hid him. This is the dis­play of the glorious power of God in the world, and he hath much honour by it.

Well then, if there be a God that takes care of his own in evil days, do not you be distractingly careful what shall become of you in such times; you cannot see how it is possible for you to escape, bu [...] 2 Pet. 2. 4, 5, 6. the Lord knows how to deliver [Page 163] when you do not. Little did Lot know the way and manner of his preservation, till God opened it to him, nor Noah till God contrived it for him: There was no way to be contrived by them for escape. He that knew how to deliver them, can deliver you also.

Leave your selves to Gods dispose, it shall cer­tainly be to your advantage; the Church is his pecu­liar care, Isa. 27. 3. I the Lord do keep it, I will wa­ter it every moment lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day.

The more you commit your selves to his care, the more you engage it, Isa. 26. 3. Thou wilt keep him in prefect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee. He will certainly find a place of safety for his people under or in Heaven.

Neither be too much dejected when the number of visible professors seems but small, think not the Church will perish, when it is brought so low: This was Elijah's case, he thought he had been left alone, that Religion had been preserved in his single person, as the Phoenix of the world; but see 1 Kings 19. 18. God hath enough left if we were in our graves to continue Religion in the world, it con­cerns him more than you to look to that.

CHAP. V.

Evincing the fourth Proposition. viz. That God usually premonisheth the World, espe­cially his own of his judgments before they befal them.

SECT. I.

GOd first warns, and then smites, he delights not to surprise men when indignation was coming, he tells his people of it in the Text, and admonisheth them to hide themselves. Surely the Lord will do nothing but he revealeth his secrets to his servants the Prophets, Amos 3. 7. Thus when the flood was to come upon the old world, he gave them one hundred and twenty years warning of it, Gen. 6. 3. compared with 1. Pet. 3. 19. So when Sodom was to be de­stroyed, God would not hide it from Abraham, Gen. 18. 17. Shall I hide from Abraham the thing that I do? The like discovery was made unto Lot, G [...]. 19. 12, 13, 14. So when the Captivity was at hand, Ezekiel was commanded to give the Iews solemn war­ning of it from God, Ezek. 3. 17. Hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me.

And when their City and Temple was to be de­stroyed by the Romans, how plainly did Christ fore­ [...]el them of it by his own mouth, Luke 19. 43. 44. Thine enemies shall cast a Trench about thee, and com­pass thee round and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children with­in thee, and they shall not leave thee one stone upon another, because thou knewest not the time of thy visita­tion. [Page 165] Iosephus also tells us that a little before the execution of this judgment upon them,Iosephus de bel. Iud. lib. 7. c. 2. Tac. lib. 21. a voice was heard in the temple, Migremus hinc, let us go hence, which voice Tacitus also in his An­nals, mentions, Audita major humana vox, excedere Deos, simul ingens motus excedentium. It was more than an humane voice, telling them God was de­parting from them, and withal there was heard the rushing noise as of some that were going out of the Temple.

And as there were extraordinary premonitions of approaching judgments by revelation to the Prophets of old, and signs from heaven; so there still are stan­ding and ordinary rules by which the world may be admonished of Gods judgments before they come up­on them.

And the general rule, by which men may discern the indignation of God before it comes, is this; ☞ When the same provocations, and evils are found in one Nation, which have brought down the wrath of God upon another nation; this is an evi­dent sign of Gods judgment at the door. For God is unchangeably holy and just, and will not favour that in one people, which he hath punished in another; nor bless that in one age, which he hath cursed in an­other. And therefore that which hath been a sign of Judgment to one, must be so to all.

Here it is that the carcases of those sinners whose sins had cast them away, are as it were cast up upon the Scripture shore, for a warning to all others that they steer not the same ill course they did. 1 Cor. 10. 6. Now these things were our examples. The Israelites are made examples to us, plainly intimating that if we tread the same path, we must expect the [Page 166] same punishment. Let us therefore consider what were the evils that provoked Gods judgments against his ancient people, whom he was so loth to give up, Hos. 11. 8. and so long ere he did give up, Ier. 15. 6. and we shall find by the concurrent accounts that the Prophets give,

1. That Gods worship among them was generally mixed and corrupted with their own inventions, for so it is said, Psal. 106. 40, 41. they went a whoring with their own inventions. And this so inflamed the wrath of God, who is a jealous God, and tender over his own honour, that he abhorred his own inheritance; yea, he expresses himself as a man doth whose heart is broken by the unfaithfulness of his wife, Ezek. 6. 9. Upon this account his professing people became the generation of his wrath, Ier. 7. 29, 30.

2. Incorrigible obstinacy under gentler correcti­on, Amos 4. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. Scarcity, Mil­dews, Pestilence, and Sword had been upon them; and still these that remained, though saved as a brand out of the fire, in which their fellow sinners perished, would not return to God; and this hasten­ed on the general ruine, ver. 12. This presages the ruine of Nations indeed.

3. Stupidity and senselesness of Gods hand was a sad Omen, and cause of that peoples ruine; So Isa. 26. 10, 11. Lord when thy hand is lifted up, they will not see. No nor yet when his hand is laid on, Isa. 42. 24, 25. It is not some small drop of Gods anger that passes without observation, but the fury of his anger; not some light skirmish of his judgments with them, but the strength of battel: Not in a corner upon some particular person, or family, but that which set him on fire round about; yet all this could not awa­ken them. He hath poured upon him the fury of his [Page 167] anger, and the strength of battel, and it hath set him on fire round about, yet he knew it not, and it burn­ed him, yet he laid it not to heart. Prodigious stu­pidity! to be in the midst of flames, yea, to be seiz­ed by them, and destroyed sooner than awakened. So you find again in Hos. 7. 9. Gray hairs were here and there upon Ephraim, yet he knew it not. Youth and Age are easily distinguished, and gray hairs do plainly distinguish them, being the plain tokens of a declining State, yet they took no notice of them. Such stupidity is ever more the forerunner of mi­sery.

4. Persecution of Gods faithful Ministers and peo­ple, was another forerunning sign of their ruine, 2 Chron. 36. 16. They mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his Prophets until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy. There were also a number of upright Souls among them, that desired to worship God accord­ing to his own prescription, but a snare was laid for them in Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor; and therefore was judgment towards that people, Hos. 5. 1. Mizpah and Tabor were places in the way lying be­twixt Samaria and Ierusalem, where the true worship of God was, and there were Informers or Spies set by the Priests to intercept such as would venture to serve God at Jerusalem according to his own prescription, this also foreboded the judgments of God upon that nation.

5. The decay of the life and power of Godliness among them plainly foreshewed their ruine at hand, Hos. 4. 18. Their drink is sour, where under the Metaphor of dead and sour drink which hath lost its spirit and is become flat; their formal, heartless, and perfunctory duties are severely taxed and condemned.

[Page 168] 6. To conclude, the mutual animosities, and feuds among that professing people, evidently shewed judgment to be at the door. Hos. 9. 7. The days of visitation are come, the days of recompence are come, Israel shall know it: the Prophet is a fool, the spiri­tual man is mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred. This great hatred was one of the greatest sins, and saddest signs upon them. This Spirit of enmity sowed by the Devil among them hastened their calamity. If Ephraim will envy Iudah, and Iudah vex Ephraim the common enemy shall part the fray: when the whole Nation was under water, and the Roman Armies under the very walls of Ierusalem, their own Historians tell us, what bitter contentions and sharp conflicts continued a­mong them to the very last. These things must be looked upon by all Wise and considerate men, no otherwise than we look upon Glazing Meteors, and Blazing Comets, portending judgment and ruine at the door. We have had indeed terrible Signs in Heaven, a dreadful rod of God shaken over us of late, which all men ought to behold with trem­bling: Yet I must say those Moral Signs of judg­ment forementioned, are much more terrible and portentous. According therefore to the evidence of these signs among us; let all upright hearts be affected and awakened with expectations of Gods righteous judgments. It is indeed below faith to expect evil days with despondency and distra­ction; but surely it is a noble exercise of Faith, so to expect them, as to make due preparation for them.

SECT. II.

ANd if we enquire for what End God gives such warnings to the world, and premonishes them from Heaven, of the judgments that are coming on the earth, know that he doth it upon a threefold account.

  • 1. To prevent their Execution.
  • 2. To leave the Careless inexcusable.
  • 3. To make them more tolerable and easie to his own people.

1. Warning is given with design to prevent the execution of judgments; this is plain from Amos 4. 12. Therefore will I do this unto thee; there is warn­ing given; and because I will do this, prepare to meet thy God O Israel: There is the gracious design of preventing it, by bringing them seasonably upon their knees at the foot of an angry God: You see the Lord expects it from all his Children, that they fall at his feet in deep humiliation, and fervent inter­cession whenever he goes forth in the way of judg­ment. What else was the design of God in sending Ionah to Nineveh with that dreadful message but to excite them to repentance, and prevent their ruine? This Ionah guessed at, and therefore declined the message to secure his credit, well knowing, that if they took warning and repented, the gracious nature of God would soon melt into compassion over them: Free grace would make him appear as a liar among the people; for to that sense his own words sound, Ionah 4. 2. Was not this my saying when I was yet in [Page 170] my Countrey, Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish, for I knew that thou art a gracious God. q. d. I thought before hand it would come to this; I knew how willing thou art to be prevented by re­pentance; therefore to secure my credit, I fled to Tarshish.

2. He forewarns of judgments to leave the Incorrigi­ble wholly inexcusable, that those who have neither sense of Sin, nor fear of Judgment before, might have no cloak for their folly, nor plea for themselves after­ward; What wilt thou say when he shall punish thee? Ier. 13. 21, 22. q. d. What Plea or Apology is left thee after so many fair warnings? You cannot say you were surprized, before you were admonished, or ruined be­fore you were warned.

3. God warns of Judgments before they come to make them the more easie to his people when they come indeed; thus in Iohn 16. 4. Christ foretold his Disciples of their approaching sufferings, that when they came, they should not be found amazed at them, or unprovided for them; for unexpected miseries are astonishing to the best men, and destructive to wicked men, Luke 17. 26, 27, 28.

Well then if it be so, let all that are wise in heart consider the Signs of the times, and seasonably heark­en to Gods warnings. The Lords voice crieth to the Cit [...], and the man of wisdom shall see thy name; hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it, Mica. 6. 9. 'Tis our wisdom to way-lay our troubles, and provide for the worst estate, whilst we enjoy the best: hap­py is he that is at once believing, and praying for good days, and preparing for the worst. Noah's example is our advantage. Heb. 11. 7. Who by faith, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an Ark. Preventing mercies [Page 171] are the most ravishing mercies, Psal. 59. 10. And preventing calamities are the sorest calamities, A­mos 9. 10.

And let us heartily bewail the supiness and care­lesness of the world in which we live, who take no notice of Gods warnings, but put the evil day far from them, Amos 6. 3. who will admit no fear, till they are past all hope; they see God housing his Saints a­pace, yet will not see the evil to come from which God takes them, Isa. 57. 1, 2. The righteous perish­eth, 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; he shall enter into peace, they shall rest in their beds each one walk­ing in his uprightness. They hear the cry of sin which is gone up to heaven, but cry not for the abominati­ons that are committed, nor tremble at the judgments that they will procure.

O careless Sinners drowned in Stupidity, and sleep­ing like Ionah under the Hatches, when others are upon their knees and at their wits end! do Saints tremble, and are you secure? Have not you more reason to be afraid than they? If judgments come, the greatest harm it can do them, is but to hasten them to Heaven; but as for you, it may hurry you away to Hell: They only fear tribulation in the way; but you will not fear damnation in the end. Believe it Reader, in days of common calamity both Hea­ven and Hell will fill apace.

CHAP. VI.

Demonstrating the fifth Proposition. viz. That Gods Attributes, Promises, and Providences, are prepared for the secu­rity of his people in the greatest distresses that befal them in the World.

SECT. I.

HAving more briefly dispatched the foregoing preliminary Propositions it remains that we now more fully open this fifth Proposition, which contains the main subject matter of this Discourse; here therefore our meditations must fix and abide, and truly such is the deliciousness of the subject to Spiritual hearts, that I judge it wholly needless to offer any other motive besides it self to engage your affections. Let us therefore view our Chambers, and see how well God hath provided for his Children in all their distresses that befal them in this world; it is our fathers voice that calls to us, Come my people, enter thou into thy chambers. And the

1. Chamber,

Which comes to be opened as a Refuge to distressed Believers in a stormy day, is that most secure and safe Attribute of Divine Power; into this let us first enter by serious and believing meditation, and see how safe they are whom God hides under the protection thereof in the worst and most dangerous [Page 173] days. In opening this Attribute we shall consider it,

  • 1. In its own Nature and Property.
  • 2. With respect to the Promises.
  • 3. As it is actuated by Providence on the behalf of distressed Saints.

And then give you a comfortable prospect of their safe and happy condition, who take up their lodgings by Faith in this Attribute of God.

1. Let us consider the Power of God in it self, and we shall find it represented to us in the Scriptures in these three lovely Properties, viz.

Power.
  • 1. Omnipotent
  • 2. Supreme
  • 3. Everlasting

1. As an Omnipotent and All-sufficient Power, which hath no bounds or limits, but the pleasure and will of God, Dan. 4. 34, 35. He doth according to his will in the armies of Heaven; and among the In­habitants of the earth, and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What dost thou? So Psalm 135. 6. Whatsoever the Lord pleased that did he, in Heaven, and in Earth, in the Seas, and all deep places. You see Divine pleasure is the only rule ac­cording to which Divine Power exerts it self in the world; we are not therefore to limit and restrain it in our narrow and shallow thoughts, and to think in this or in that the Power of God may help or secure us; but to believe that he is able to do exceeding abun­dantly above all that we can ask or think. Thus those Worthies, Dan. 3. 17. by Faith exalted the power of God above the order and common rule of second [Page 174] causes. Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O King. Their faith resting it self upon the Omnipotent power of God, expected de­liverance from it in an extraordinary way; 'tis true, this is no standing rule for our faith ordinarily to work by; nor have we ground to expect such miraculous Salvations, but yet when extraordi­nary difficulties press us, and the common ways, and means of deliverance are shut up, we ought by faith to exalt the Omnipotency of God, by ascribing the glory thereof to him, and leave our selves to his good pleasure, without straitning or nar­rowing his Almighty power, according to the mold of our poor low thoughts and apprehensions of it: For so the Lord himself directeth our faith in difficult cases. Isa. 55. 8, 9. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord; for as the Heavens are higher than the earth; So are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. He speaks there of his pardoning mercy which he will not have his people to contract; and limit according to the model, and plat­form of their own desponding, misgiving and unbe­lieving thoughts; but to exalt and glorifie it, accor­ding to its unbounded fulness; as it is in the thoughts of God, the fountain of that mercy; so it ought to be with respect to his power, about which his thoughts and ours do vastly differ; the power of God as we cast it in the mould of our thoughts, is as vastly diffe­rent and disproportionate from what it is in the thoughts of God the fountain thereof; as the earth is to the heavens, which is but a small inconsiderable point compared with them.

[Page 175] 2. The power of God is a Supreme and Sovereign power, from which all creature power is derived, and by which it is over-ruled, restrained, and limited at his pleasure. Nebuchadnezzar was a great Mo­narch, he ruled over other Kings, yet he held his Kingdom from God; it was God that placed not on­ly the Crown upon his head, but his head upon his shoulders. Dan. 2. 37. Thou O King art a King of Kings; for the God of Heaven [...]ath given thee a Kingdom, po­wer, and strength, and glory. Hence it follows, that no creature can move tongue or hand against any of Gods people, but by vertue of a Commission or per­mission from their God, albeit they think not so. Knowest thou not, saith Pilate unto Christ, that I have power to crucifie thee, and power to release thee? Proud worm! what an ignorant, and inso­lent boast was this of his own power! and how doth Christ spoil and shame it in his answer? Iohn 19. 10. Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above.

Wicked men like wild horses would run over and trample under foot all the people of God in the world, were it not that the bridle of Divine providence had a strong curb to restrain them: Ezek. 22. 6. The Prin­ces of Israel every one were in thee, to their power to shed bloud. And it was well for Gods Israel that their power was not as large as their wills were; this world is a raging and boisterous Sea, which sorely toffes the passengers for heaven that sail upon it, but this is their comfort and security: The Lord stilleth the noise of the sea, the noise of the waves, and the tumult of the peo­ple, Ps. 65. 7. Moral as well as natural waves, are checked and bounded by Divine power. Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee, and the remainder of wrath thou shalt restrain, Psal. 76. 10. As a man turns so [Page 176] much water into the channel as will drive the mill, and turns away the rest in another sluce.

Yea, not only the power of man, but the power of Devils also is under the restraint and limitation of this power, Rev. 3. 10. Satan shall cast some of you into prison, and ye shall have tribulation ten days. He would have cast them into their graves, yea, into hell if he could, but it must be only into a Prison: He would have kept them in prison, till they had died and rot­ted there, but it must be only for ten days. Oh glo­rious Sovereign power! which thus keeps the reins of Government in its own hand!

3. The power of God is an everlasting power; time doth not weaken or diminish it, as it doth all creature powers, Isa. 40. 28. The Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth fainteth not, neither is weary, Isa. 59. 1. The Lords hand is not shortened (i. e.) He hath as much power now as ever he had, and can do for his people as much as ever he did; time will decay the power of the strongest creature, and make him fai [...] and feeble; but the Creator of the ends of the eart [...] fainteth not. Thou, saith the Psalmist, abidest for ever, thy years flee not, Psal. 102. 27. In Gods working there is no expence of his strength. he is able to do as much as ever he did, to act over again all the glorious deliverances that ever he wrought for his people from the beginning of the World; to do as much for his Church now as he did at the Red sea; and upon this ground the Church builds its Plea, Isa. 51. 9, 10. Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of the Lord, awake as in the ancient days in the generations of old, art thou not it that hast cut Ra­hab, and wounded the Dragon? q. d. Lord why should not thy people at this day expect as glorious producti­ons of thy power as any of them found in former ages?

SECT. II.

LEt us view the power of God in the vast extent of its operation, and then you will find it work­ing beyond the line,

  • 1. Of Creature power.
  • 2. Of Creature expectation.
  • 3. Of Humane probability.

1. Beyond the line of all created power, even up­on the hearts, thoughts, and minds of men, where no creature hath any jurisdiction. So Gen. 31. 29. God bound up the Spirit of Laban, and becalmed it towards Iacob. So Psal. 106. 46. He made them also to be pitied of all them that carried them captives. Thus the Lord promised Ieremy, Ier. 15. 11. I will cause the enemies to entreat thee well, in the time of evil. This power of God softens the hearts of the most fierce and cruel enemies, and sweetens the spirits of the most bitter and enraged foes of his people.

2. Beyond the line of all Creature expectations, Eph. 3. 20. God is able to do exceeding abundantly a­bove all that we can ask or think. He doth so in Spirituals; as appears by those two famous Parables, Luke 15. 19. 22. And am no more worthy to be called thy son; make me as one of thy hired servants. But the Father said to his servants, bring forth the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. The Prodigal desired to be but as an hired servant, and lo, the fatted Calf is [...] for him, and musick to his meat, and the gold [Page 178] ring upon his finger. And in Matth. 18. 26, 27. The Debtor did but desire patience, and the Creditor forgave the Debt. O, thinks a poor humbled Sinner, if I might have but the least glimpse of hope, how sweet would it be! But God brings him to more than he expects, even the clear shining of assurance. It is so in Temporals, the Church confesses the Lord did things they looked not for, Isa. 64. 3. And in both Spirituals and Temporals this power moves in an higher Orb than our thoughts, Isa. 55. 8, 9. My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor my ways your ways; but as far as the heavens are above the earth, so are my thoughts above your thoughts, The earth is but a punctum to the Heavens; all its tallest Cedars, Mountains, and Pyramids cannot reach it: He speaks, as was said before, of Gods pitying, pardoning, and merciful thoughts, and shews that no Creat [...]re can think of God, as he doth of the creature under sin, or under misery. Our thoughts are not his; eit [...]er First by way of simple cogitation we cannot thi [...]k such thoughts towards others in misery, by way of pity; or under sin against us by way of pardon, as God doth: Nor Secondly, are our thoughts as Gods in respect of reflexive comprehension; i. e. We cannot conceive or comprehend what those thoughts of God towards us are, when we fall into sin or misery; j [...]st as he thinks them, they are altered, debased, and straitened as soon as ever they come into our thoughts. See an excellent instance in Gen. 48. 11. I had not thought to see thy face, and lo God hath shewed me all thy seed. A surprizing providence; and thus the Di­vine power works in a Sphere above all the thoughts, prayers and expectations of men.

3. It works beyond all probabilities, and rational conjectures of men; this Almighty power hath [...] ­ted [Page 179] deliverances for the people of God when things have been brought to the lowest ebb, and all the means of salvation have been hid from their eyes. We have diverse famous instances of this in Scripture, wherein we may observe a remarkable gradation in the working of this Almighty power: It is said in the 2 Kings 14. 26, 27. The Lord saw the affliction of Israel, that it was very bitter, for there was not any shut up, nor any left; nor any helper for Israel. A de­plorable state; how inevitable was their ruine to the eye of sense? Well might it be called a bitter affliction; Yet from this immediate power arose for them a sweet and unexpected Salvation; and if we look into 2 Cor. 1. 9, 10. we shall find the Apostles and choicest Christians of those times, giving up themselves as lost men, all ways of escape being quite out of sight; for so much those words signifie, We had the sentence of death in our selves; i. e. We yielded our selves for dead men. But though they were sentenced to death, yea, though they sentenced themselves, this power which wrought above all their thoughts, and ratio­nal conjectures, reprieved them. And yet one step farther in Ezek. 37. 4, 5, 6, 7. The people of God are there represented as actually dead, yea as in their graves, yea as rotted in their graves, and their very bones dry, like those that are dead of old; so utterly improbable was their recovery: Yet by the working of this Almighty power which subdueth all things to it self, their graves in Babylon were opened, the breath of life came into them, bone came to bone, and there stood up a very great Army; it was the working of this power above the thoughts of mans heart, which gave the ground of that famous Pro­verb, Gen. 22. 14. In the Mount of the Lord it shall [...]eseen. And the ground of that famous Promise, Zech. [Page 180] 14. 7. At evening time it shall be light; i. e. Light shall unexpectedly spring up, when all men according to the course and order of Nature, expect nothing but increasing darkness. How extensive is the power of God in its glorious operations!

SECT. III.

LEt us view the power of God in its relation to the promises, for so it becomes our Sanctuary in the day of trouble; if the Power of God be the Chamber, 'tis the Promise of God which is that Golden 'Key that opens it. And if we well consult the Scriptures in this matter, we shall find the Almighty power of God made over to his people by promise, for many ex­cellent ends and uses in the day of their trouble. As,

1. To uphold and support them, when their own strength fails, Isa. 41. 10. Fear thou not, for I am with thee, be not dismayed for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee, yea, I will help thee, yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. And which of the Saints have not sensibly felt these everlasting arms, under­neath their spirits, when afflictions have pressed them above their own strength? So runs the promise to Paul in 2 Cor. 12. 9. My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness; i. e. It is made known in thy weakness. Our weakness adds nothing to Gods power, it doth not make his power perfect, but it hath the better advantage of its disco­very, and puts forth it self more signally and conspi­cuously in our weakness; as the stars which never shine so gloriously, as in the darkest night.

[Page 181] 2. To preserve them in all their dangers, to which they lie exposed in Soul and Body. 1 Pet. 1. 5. You are kept (saith the Apostle) by the mighty power of God. Kept as in a Garison; this is their arm every morning, as it is Isa. 33. 2. O Lord be gracious unto us, we have waited for thee, be thou their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trou­ble. The Arm is that member which is fitted for the defence of the body, and for that end so placed by the God of Nature, that it may guard every part above and below it; but as good they were bound behind our backs, for any help they can give us in some cases: It is Gods Arm that defends us, and not our own. This invisible power of God makes the Saints the worlds wonder. Psal. 71. 7. I am as a wonder to many, but thou art my strong refuge. To see poor defenceless Creatures preserved, in the midst of furious enemies, that is just matter of wonder; but God be­ing their invisible refuge, that solves the wonder; to this end the Power of God is by promise engaged to his people, Isa. 27. 3. I the Lord do keep it, I will water it every moment, lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day. And thus they subsist in the midst of dangers and troubles; as the burning Bush (the Emblem of the Church) did amidst the devouring flames, Exod. 3. 3.

3. To deliver them out of their distresses, so runs the Promise, Psal. 91. 14, 15. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he hath known my name: he shall call upon me and I will answer him, I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him, and honour him. And Ier. 30. 7. Alas, for that day is great, so that none is like it: It is even the time of Jacob's trouble, but ye shall be saved out of it. And surely [Page 182] there can be no distress so great, no case of Believers so sorlorn; but,

1. It's easie with God to save them out of it. Are they to the eye of Sense lost, as hopeless as men in the grave? Yet see Ezek. 37. 12. O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And he doth whatever he doth easily, with a word, Ps. 44. 4. Thou art my king, O God, command deliverances for Jacob. And it requireth no more violent motion to do it, than he that swimeth in the water uses, Isa. 25. 11. A gentle easie motion of the hand doth it.

2. And as the power of God can deliver them easily, so speedily. Their deliverance is often wrought by way of surprizal, Isa. 17. 14. Behold, at even­ing tide trouble, and in the morning he is not. So the Church prays, in P [...]. 126. 4. turn again our captivity, as the streams in the South. The Southern Countreys are dry, the streams there come not in a gentle and slow current, but being occasioned by violent sud­den spouts of Rain, they presently overflow the Countrey, and as soon retire: So speedily can the power of God free his people from their dangers and fears.

3. Yea, such is the excellency of his delivering po­wer, that he can save alone without any contributi­on of Creature aids. So Isa. 59. 16. He wondered that there was no intercessour; therefore his hand brought salvation unto him, and his righteousness sustained him. We read indeed Iudg. 5. 23. Of helping the Lord, but that is not to express his need, but their duty; we have continual need of God, but he hath no need of us; he uses instruments, but not out of necessity, his arm alone can save us, be the [Page 183] danger never so great, or the visible means of delive­rance never so remote.

4. Once more, let us view this Chamber of Di­vine power, as it is continually opened by the hand of providence, to receive and secure the people of God in all their dangers. 'Tis said, 2 Chro. 16. 9. The eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in behalf of them, whose heart is perfect towards him. Where you have an ex­cellent account of the immediacy, universality, and efficacy of Divine Providence, as it uses and ap­plies this Divine power for the guard and defence of that people, who are its charge; he doth not only set Angels to watch for them, but his own eyes keep Sentinel, even those seven eyes of Providence men­tioned Zech. 3. 9. which never sleep nor slumber; for they are said to run continually to and fro, and that not in this or that particular place only, for the ser­vice of some more eminent and excellent persons; but through the whole earth. 'Tis an encompassing and surrounding providence which hath its eye upon all, whose hearts are upright; all the Saints are within the line of its care and protection; the eye of Provi­dence discovereth all their dangers, and its arm de­fends them, for he shews himself strong in their be­half.

The secret, but Almighty efficacy of Providence is also excellently described to us in Ezek. 1. 8. where the Angels are said to have their hands under their wings, working secretly and undiscernibly, but very effectu­ally for the Saints committed to their charge. Like un­to which is that in Hab. 3. 4. where it is said of God, that He had horns coming out of his hands, and there was the hiding of his power. The hand is the instru­ment of action, denoting Gods active power, and [Page 184] the horns coming out of them are the glorious raies, and beams of that power shining forth in the salvation of his people: O that we could sun our selves in those chearful and reviving beams of Divine power, by considering how gloriously they have broken forth, and shone out for the salvation of his people in all Ages. So it did for Israel at the Red Sea, Exod. 15. 6. So for Iehoshaphat in that great streight, 2 Chron. 20. 12, 15. And so in the time of Hezekiah, 2 Kings 19. 3. 7. Yea in all ages from the beginning of the World the Saints have been sheltered under these wings of Divine Power, Isa. 51. 9. 10. Thus Pro­vidence hath hanged and adorned this Chamber of Divine power with the delightful Histories of the Churches manifold preservations by it.

SECT. IV.

HAving taken a short view of this glorious Cham­ber of Gods power absolutely in it self, and al­so in relation to his promises and providences, it re­mains now, that I press and perswade all the people of God under their fears and dangers according to Gods gracious invitation to enter into it, shut their doors, and to behold with delight this glorious At­tribute working for them in all their exigencies and distresses.

1. Enter into this Chamber of Divine power, all ye that fear the Lord, and hide your selves there in these dangerous and distressful days; let me say to you as the Prophet did to the poor distressed Iews, Zech. 9. 12. Turn ye to your strong hold, ye prisoners of hope. Strong holds might they say; Why, where are they? The walls of Ierusalem are in the dust, the Temple burnt with fire, Sion an heap, what meanest [Page 185] thou then in telling us of our strong holds? Why, ad­mit all this, yet there is Satis praesidii in uno Deo, Refuge enough for you in God alone, as Calvin ex­cellently notes upon that place. Christian, art not thou able to fetch a good subsistence for thy Soul by Faith, out of the Almighty power of God? The re­nowned Saints of old did so, Abraham, Isaac, and Ia­cob met with as many difficulties and plunges of trouble in their time, as ever you did or shall meet with; yet by the exercise of their faith upon this Attribute, they lived comfortably, and why cannot you? Exod. 6. 3. I appeared (saith God) unto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, by the name of God Al­mighty. They kept house and feasted by Faith up­on this name of mine; O that we could do as Abra­ham did, Rom▪ 4. 21. We have the same Attribute, but alas, we have not such a Faith as his was to im­prove it. It is easie to believe the Almighty power of God in a calm, but not so easie to resign our selves to it, and securely rest upon it in a Storm of adversity: But oh what peace and rest would our Faith procure us by the free use and exercise of it this way, to assist your faith in this difficulty wherein we find the faith of a Moses sometimes staggered. Let me briefly offer you these four following encouragements.

1. Consider how your gracious God hath engaged this his Almighty power by Promise and Covenant for the security of his people, God pawned it as it were to Abraham in that famous promise, Gen. 17. 1. I am the Almighty God, walk thou before me, and be perfect. And Gen. 15. 1. Fear not Abraham, I am thy shield. Say not, this was Abraham's peculiar priviledge, for if you consult Hos. 12. 4. and Heb. 13. 5, 6. you will find that Believers in these days, have as good a title to the promises made in those [Page 186] days, as those worthies had to whom they were imme­ately made.

2. If you be Believers, your relation to God strong­ly engageth his power for you, as well as his own promises, Surely (saith God) they are my people, children that will not lie; so he became their Saviour, Isa. 63. 8. We say Relations have the least of Enti­ty, but the greatest of efficacy; you find it so in your own experience, let a wife, child, or friend be in e­minent danger, and it shall engage all the power you have to succour and deliver them.

3. This glorious power of God is engaged for you by the very malice and wickedness of your enemies, who will be apt to impute the ruine of the Saints to the defects of power in their God; from whence those excellent arguments are drawn, Numb. 14. 15, 16. Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man then the nations which have heard the fame of thee, will speak, saying, because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land, which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness. And again, Deut. 32. 26, 27. you shall find the Lord improving this argument for them himself; if they do not plead it for themselves, he will. I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remem­brance of them to cease from among men, were it not that I feared the wrath of the enemy, left their adver­saries should behave themselves strangely and lest they should say, our hand is high, and the Lord hath not done all this. O see how much you are beholding to the very rage of your enemies for your deliverances from them▪

4. To conclude, the very reliance of your Souls by faith upon the power of God, your very leaning upon his arm engages it for your protection, Isa. 26. [Page 187] 3. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee. Puzle not your selves therefore any longer about qualifica­tions; but know that the very acting of your faith on God, the recumbency of your Souls upon him, is that which will engage him for your defence, how weak and defective soever thou art in other respects.

2. Having thus entered by Faith into this Cham­ber of Divine power, the next counsel the Text gives you is, to shut the door behind you, i. e. after the acting of your faith, and the quiet repose of your Souls upon Gods Almighty power, then take heed lest unbelieving fears and jealousies creep in again and disturb the rest of your Souls in God, you find a sad instance of this in Moses, Numb. 11. 21, 23. After so many glorious acts and triumphs of his Faith, how were his heels tripped up by diffidence which crept in afterwards; good men may be posed with difficult providences and made to stagger. The Is­ [...]aelites had lived upon miracles many years, yet Psal. 78. 20. Can he give bread also? Good Martha objects difficulty to Christ. Ioh. 11. 39. By this time he stinketh. O 'tis a glorious thing to give God the glory of his Almighty power, in difficult cases that we cannot comprehend. See Zech. 8. 6. If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it be also marvellous in mine eyes? saith the Lord of hosts. Difficulties are for men, but not for God; because it is marvellous in your eyes, must it be so in Gods: Various objections will be apt to arise in your hearts to drive you out of this your refuge. As,

1. Objection. O but the long continuance of our troubles and distresses will sink our very hearts, Isa. 40. 27. Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Isra­el, [Page 188] my way is hid from the Lord, and my judgment is passed over from my God?

Sol. But O wait upon God without fainting, Heb. 2. 3▪ The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end of it shall speak and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

2. Objection. O but our former hopes, and ex­pectations of deliverance are frustrated, Ier. 8. 15. We looked for peace, but no good came: and for a time of health, and behold trouble.

Sol. O but yet be not discouraged, see how the Psalmist begins the 69 Psal with trembling, and ends it with triumph; the husbandman waiteth, and so must you.

3. Objection. But there is no sign or appearance of our deliverance.

Sol. What then, this is no new thing, Psal. 74. 9. We see not our signs, there is no more any Prophet, neither is there any among [...]s that knoweth how long.

4. Objection. But all things work contrary to our hope.

Sol. Why, so did things with Abraham, yet see Rom. 4. 18. against hope, he believed in hope.

3. Observe further with delight the out goings and glorious workings of Divine power for you, and for the Church in times of trouble; this is sweet enter­tainment for your Souls, 'tis food for Faith, Psal. 74. 14. Thou breakest the heads of Leviathan in pieces, and gavest him to be meat to the people inhabiting the wil­derness, and here I beseech you behold and admire,

1. It's mysterious and admirable protection of the Saints in all their dangers. They feed as Sheep in the midst of Wolves, Luke 10. 3. they lie among them [Page 189] that are set on fire, Psal. 57. 4. Their habitation is in the midst of deceit. Ier. 9. 6. Yet they are kept in safety by the mighty power of God.

2. Behold and admire it in casting the bonds of re­straint upon your enemies, that though they would, yet they cannot hurt you; our dangers are visible, and our fears great, but our security and safety ad­mirable, Isa. 51. 13. Thou hast feared continually every day, because of the fury of the oppressour, as if he were ready to destroy; and where is the fury of the oppressour?

3. Behold its opening unexpected, and unlikely re­fuges and securities for the Saints in their distresses, Isa. 16. 4. Let mine out-casts dwell with thee, Moab, he thou a covert to them from the face of the spoiler; for the extortioner is at an end, the spoiler ceaseth, the oppressors are consumed out of the land. Rev. 12. 16. the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the floud which the Dra­gon cast out of his mouth.

4. Behold it frustrating all the designs of our ene­mies against us, Isa. 54. 17. no weapon that is form­ed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. Be­hold, I have created the Smith, Isa. 54. 16. q. d. He that created the Smith, can order as he pleaseth the weapon made by him; hence our enemies are not ma­sters of their own designs.

O then depend upon this power of God, for it is your security; there is a twofold dependence, the one Natural and necessary, the other Elective.

1. Natural dependance, so all do and must depend upon him.

2. Elective and voluntary, and so we all ought to depend upon him; and for your encouragement [Page 190] take this Scripture, Psal. 9. 9, 10. The Lord also wil [...] be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trou [...]ble, and they that know thy name will put their tru [...] in thee; for thou Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek thee. And thus of the first Attribute of God, prepared for the safety of his people in times of trouble.

CHAP. VII.

Opening that glorious Attribute of Divine Wisdom as a second Chamber of security to the Saints in difficult times.

SECT. I.

THe next Chamber of Divine Protection into which I shall lead you, is the Infinite Wisdom of God; I call it the next, because I so find it placed in Scripture, Iob 36. 5. He is mighty in power and wis­dom. Dan. 2. 20. Wisdom and might are his.

This Attribute may be fitly called the Council Chamber of Heaven, where all things are contrived in deepest wisdom, which are afterwards wrought in the world by power, Eph. 1. 11. He worketh all things after the counsel of his own will. Counsel in the Creature implies weakness and defect; we are not able at one thought to fathom the depth of a business, and therefore must deliberate and spend many thoughts about it, and when we have spent all our own thoughts we are oft times at a loss, and must borrow help, and ask counsel of others; but in [Page 191] God it notes the perfection of his understanding, for as those acts of the creature which are the results of de­ [...]beration and counsel, are the height and top of all rational contrivement; so in its accommodation to God, it notes the excellent results of his infinite and most perfect understanding.

Now this wisdom of God is to be considered either,

  • Absolutely, or, Relatively.

1. Absolutely in it self, and so it is, That, where­by he most perfectly and exactly knows himself, and all things without himself, ordering and disposing them in the most convenient manner to the glory of his own name.

Wisdom comprehends two things, 1. Knowledge of the natures of things, which in the creature is cal­led Science. 2. Knowledge how to govern, order and dispose them, which in the Creature is called Prudence; these things in man are but faint shadows of that which is in God in the most Absolute perfection; he fully knows himself, for his under­standing is infinite, Psal. 147. 5. And the thoughts he thinks towards us, Ier. 29. 11. and as he perfect­ly understands himself, so likewise all things that are without himself, Act. 15. 18. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Toge­ther with all the secret designs, thoughts, and pur­poses which lie hid from all others in the inmost recesses of mens hearts, Psal. 139. 2.

And as he perfectly knows all things, so he fully understands how to govern and direct them to the best end, even the exalting of his own praise, Psal. [Page 192] 104. 24. Rom. 11. 36. for of him, and through him, and to him are all things. Of him, as the efficient cause; through him, as the conserving cause; and to him as the final cause. And in this wise disposition of all things, he hath a gracious respect to the good of his chosen, Rom. 8. 28. All things shall work together for good to them that love God. More particularly, the wisdom of God is to be considered by us in its excellent properties, amongst which these four following are eminently conspicuous, as it is the,

  • 1. Original.
  • 2. Essential.
  • 3. Perfect, and
  • 4. Only wisdom.

1. The wisdom of God is the Original Wisdom, from which all the Wisdom found in Angels or men is derived, and unto that fountain we are directed to go, for supplies of Wisdom, Iam. 1. 5. If any man lack wisdom, let him ask it of God. There is indeed a spirit in man, but it is the inspiration of the Almigh­ty that giveth understanding, Iob 32. 8. The na­tural faculty is ours, but the illumination thereof is Gods; the understanding of the Creature is as the Dial which signifies nothing, till the Sun shine up­on it.

2. Gods Wisdom is Essential Wisdom. Wisdom in the Creature is but a quality separable from the subject; but in God it is his Nature, his very Es­sence, he can as soon cease to be God, as to be most wise.

3. The Wisdom of God is perfect wisdom, full of it self, and exclusive of its contrary; the wisest of men are not wise at all times, the greatest wits are [Page 193] not without some mixture of madness; it is an high attainment in humane wisdom to understand our own weakness and folly; the deepest heads are but shal­lows, but the wisdom of God is an unsearchable deph, Rom. 11. 33. O the depth of the riches, both of the wisdom and knowledge of God, how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out?

4. To conclude, The wisdom of God is the only wisdom; there is no wisdom without him, none a­gainst him, he is the only wise God, Iude v. 25.

2. The Wisdom of God must be considered Rela­tively, and that in a double respect:

  • 1. To his Promises.
  • 2. To his Providencs.

SECT. II.

LEt us view it in its relation to the Promises, where you shall find it made over by God to his people for divers excellent uses and purposes in times of distress and danger. As,

1. It is made over to them in Promises for their direction and guidance when they know not what to do, or which way to take. So Psal. 25. 9. The meek will he guide in judgment, and the meek will he teach his way, And Isa. 58. 11. The Lord shall guide thee conti­nually. And Psal. 32. 8. I will guide thee with mine eye. And with this the Psalmist encourages himself, Psal. 73. 24. Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterwards receive me to glory. O what an in­valuable mercy is this! we should make Shipwrack both of our Temporal and Eternal mercies quickly, were it not for the guidance of Divine Wisdom.

[Page 194] 2. To Extricate them when involved in difficul­ties: So 2 Pet. 2. 9. The Lord knoweth how to de­liver the godly out of temptation. They know not how, but their God doth; they are often at a lo [...], but he is never: So 1 Cor. 10. 13. There hath no temptation taken you, but such as is common to man, but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be temp­ted above that ye are able, but will with the tempta­tion also make a way to escape that ye may be able to bear it.

3. To over-rule and order all their troubles to their good, and real advantage: So runs that most com­prehensive promise, Rom. 8. 28. All things shall work together for good to them that love God. In the faith whereof Paul concludes, Phil. 1. 19. Even this shall work for his Salvation. Thus the people of God were sent into captivity for their good, Ier. 24. 8. and Ioseph into Egypt, Gen. 50. 20. Ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass as it is this day, to save much people alive.

2. Let us view the Wisdom of God in its Relati­on to his Providences, for there it shines forth emi­nently, Ezek. 1. 18. The wheels were full of eyes, i. e. the motions and Providential revolutions in this lower world, are very Judicious and advised motions▪ Non caeco impetu volvuntur rotae, It hath a fetch and design which no man understands till it open it self in the event.

The enemies of the Church are oft times men of the finest brains, and deepest policies: Herod a Fox for subtilty, Luke 13. 32. Iulian and Ahithophel with many others, who have digged as deep as Hell in their counsels, and laid their designs so sure, that they doubted not but to be masters of it, yet their hands could not perform their enterprize.

[Page 195] The wisdom of Providence hath still befooled them, and baffled the cunningest head-pieces that ever un­dertook any design against the Church, as fast as ever they arose; and here the Wisdom of Providence is remarkable in three things especially.

1. In revealing and discovering the secret conspi­racies and counsels of the Churches enemies, and thereby frustrating their designs, Gen. 27. 41, 42. Providence (as one calls it) is the Bird of the air that carries tidings, and whistles deeds of darkness, Iob 12. 22. He discovereth deep things out of darkness, and bringeth out to light the shadow of death. And this God hath done both immediately and mediately. 1. Immediately, 2 Kings 6. 11. What counsel so­ever the King of Syria took in his Bed-chamber was still discovered by the Lord to the Prophet. So true is that Iob 34. 22. There is no darkness nor shadow of death where the workers of iniquity may hide them­selves. Thus the design of Herod is revealed to Ioseph in a dream.

But commonly he doth it by means; as

1. By giving knowledge of it to some that are un­der obligations of duty, or affection to reveal it to these that are concerned in the danger. So Paul's Sisters Son, Acts 23. 16. revealed the conspiracy against his life, and so the Plot miscarried by reveal­ing it before it was ripe for execution.

2. By the failure of some circumstance, the whole is brought to light; there be many fine threds upon which the designs of Politicians hang, if one break the whole design is unravelled. Thus the Wisdom of God sometimes prevents his peoples ruine, by ta­king away the speech of the trusty from him, and making their own tongues to fall upon themselves.

[Page 196] 3. By their own confession; So Psal. 64. 5, 6, 7, 8. where you have the Plot laid, ver. 5. They encourage themselves in an evil matter, they commune of laying snares privily, they say, who shall see them? The deep contrivance of it, ver. 6. They search out iniquity, they accomplish a diligent search; both the inward thoughts of every one of them, and the heart is deep. Their Plot destroyed, ver. 7. But God shall shoot at them with an arrow, suddenly shall they be wounded. The method or way of Providence in destroying it, ver. 8. So they shall make their own tongue to fall up­on themselves, all that see them, shall flee away. Thus hath the Wisdom of our God wrought for us this day beyond all the thoughts of our hearts; and oh that it might make such impressions upon all our hearts, as follow in the 9, and 10. verses, All men shall fear, and shall declare the work of God, for they shall wisely consider his doing. The righteous shall be glad in the Lord and shall trust in him, and all the up­right in heart shall glory.

2. The Wisdom of God discovers it self in behalf of that people who are his own, in diverting the dan­ger from them, and putting by the deadly thrusts their enemies make at them; thus it spoils their game by an unforeseen rub in the green, and that especially three ways.

1. By making their counsels to jar among them­selves, in which jars is the sweetest harmony of pro­vidence; thus the counsel of Ahithophel jars with the counsel of Hushai, 2 Sam. 17. 5. 7. by which means David escaped: the Pharisees clashed with the Sad­ducees, Acts 23. 7. and by that means Paul esca­ped.

2. By cutting out other work, and starting some new design which like a fresh scent puts the dogs to a [Page 197] loss. Thus the people of God in Ierusalem were deli­vered by a diversion, 2 Kings 19. 7. Behold, I will send a blast upon him, and he shall hear a rumour and shall return to his own land, and I will cause him to fall by the sword in his own land, so Rabshakeh re­turned. By this means also was David delivered from the hand of Saul, 1 Sam. 23. 27. And in this method of Providence, that Scripture is often ful­filled, Prov. 21. 18. The wicked shall be a ransom for the Righteous, and the transgressour for the up­right.

3. By cutting off the capital enemies of his Church, by whose seasonable destruction they are delivered. Thus fell Iulian, that bitter enemy of the Christians, when he was preparing to put his last and most blou­dy design against them in execution. And thus fell Haman, Nero, and many more in the very height and heat of their designs against the Church.

3. The Wisdom of God gloriously displays it self in causing the designs of the wicked, like a surchar­ged gun to recoil upon and destroy themselves: It often falls out with the undermining enemies of the Church, as it sometimes doth with them that dig deep Mines in the Earth, who are destroyed and buried in their own work; Psal. 9. 15, 16. The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made, in the net which they hid is their own foot taken. The Lord is known by the judgments which he executeth, the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgajon, Selah. There is a double [...]ercy in this providence, one in delivering the Saints from the danger, the o­ther in causing it to fall upon the contrivers, and is therefore celebrated with a double note of attention; in these observable strokes, the righteousness of God [Page 298] shines forth, in repaying his peoples enemies in their own coin.

—nec lex est justior ulla,
quam necis Artifices arte perire su [...].

Thus Haman did eat the first-fruits of that tree which his own hands planted, and thus Ierusalem becomes a burthensome stone to all that burthen themselves with it, Zech. 12. 3.

4. Admire and adore the Wisdom of your God in those great and unexpected advantages, which arise to you out of those very dangers and designs of your enemies that threatened your ruine; the very hands of your very enemies are sometimes made the instru­ments of your advancement and enlargement; your persecutions become your priviledges, the Motto of the Palm tree fitly becomes yours, Suppressa Re­surgo.

In three things the Wisdom of God makes advan­tage out of your troubles.

1. In fortifying your Souls and Bodies with suita­ble strength, when any eminent trial is intended for you: So it was with the Apostles, 2 Cor. 1. 5. As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation by Christ. God lays in suitably to what men lay on mer­cilesly: Christ would not draw the poor timorous disciples out of Ierusalem unto hard encounters, un­til first he had endued them with power from on high, Luke 24. 49.

2. The Wisdom of your God can and often doth make your very troubles and sufferings instead of so many ordinances to strengthen your Faith and for­tifie your Patience. So the heads of Leviathan be­came meat to his people inhabiting the Wilderness, Psal. 74. 14. And so the Plots of Balak and Ba­laam [Page 199] were designed by God to be as a standing in­structing ordinance for the encouragement of his peoples Faith in future difficulties, Micah 6. 5. O my people remember now what Balak King of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal that ye may know the righteousnes of the Lord. q. d. You cannot but re­member how those your enemies courted me with multitudes of Offerings to deliver you up into their hands, and how faithfully I stood by you in all those dangers; that Plot discovered at once the policy of your enemies, and the righteousness of your God.

3. His Wisdom is discovered to your advantage in permitting your dangers to grow to an ex­tremity, on purpose to magnifie his goodness, and increase your comfort in your deliverance from it. Psal. 126. 1. When the Lord turned our captivity we were as them that dreamed. Proportionable to the greatness of your dangers will your joys be.

SECT. III.

WEll then, if the Wisdom of God shines forth so gloriously in the times of his peoples trouble; be perswaded by Faith to enter into this Chamber also; it is a Chamber where a believing Soul may enjoy the sweetest rest, and quietness in the most hurrying and distracting times; shut the door be­hind you, and improve this Attribute to your best ad­vantage.

1. Enter into this Chamber by Faith, believe firmly that the management of all the affairs of this world, whether publick or personal, is in the hands of your All wise God; more particularly, exercise your faith about the Wisdom of God in these things.

[Page 200] 1. Believe that the Wisdom of God can contrive and order the way of your escape and deliverance, when all doors of hope are shut up to sense and rea­son; we know not what to do, said good Iehosha­phat, but our eyes are unto thee. q. d. Lord though I am at a loss and see no way of escape, thou art never at a loss. The Lord (saith Peter) know­eth how to deliver the Godly out of temptation: Di­vine wisdom hath infinite methods and ways of de­liverance unknown to man, till they are opened in the event.

2. Believe that the Wisdom of God can turn your greatest troubles and fears into the choicest blessings and mercies to you: I know (saith Paul) that this shall turn to my Salvation, Phil. 1. 19. meaning his bonds and sufferings for Christ. Divine wisdom can give you honey out of the carcase of the Lyon, cause you to part with those afflictions, admiring and bles­sing God for them, which you met with fear and trembling, as suspecting your destruction was im­ported in them.

3. In consideration of both these, resign up your selves to the wisdom of God, and lean not to your own understandings; Commit thy way unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established, Prov. 16. 3. When Melancthon was oppressed with cares and doubts a­bout the distracting affairs of the Church in his time, Luther thus chides him out of his despondency, De­sinet Philippus esse rector mundi, do not thou presume to be the Governour of the world; but leave the reins of Government in his hand that made it, and best knows how to rule it: Let God alone to chuse thy lot and portion, to order thy condition, and ma­nage all thy affairs, and let thy Soul take its rest in this quiet Chamber of Divine wisdom. But then,

[Page 201] 2. Be sure to shut thy door behind thee, and be­ware lest unbelief, anxieties, fears, and doubts creep in after thee to disturb thy rest, and shake thy faith in this point; we are apt in two cases to be stumbled in this matter.

1. When subtle and cunning enemies are engaged against us; this was Davids case, 2 Sam. 15. 31. One told David, saying, Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom; and David said, O Lord. I pray thee turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolish­ness. When he heard Ahithophel was with the Con­spirators, it greatly puzled him. Though a whole Conclave of Politicians be against us, yet if God be with us let us not fear.

2. When our own reason intrudes too far, and of­fers its dictates too boldly in the case, we are apt to say in the arrogancy of our own reason, we cannot be delivered; but O that we would learn to resign it up to the Wisdom of God. The Lord knows how to deliver the godly. When the question was ask­ed the Prophet, Ezek. 37. 3. Can these dry bones live? He answers, Lord thou knowest. That's ex­cellent counsel, Prov. 3. 5. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not to thine own understan­ding.

3. Improve the Wisdom of God for your selves in all difficult and distressful cases.

1. Beg of God to exercise his wisdom for you when enemies conspire against you: So did David, 2 Sam. 15. 31. Lord turn the counsel of Ahitho­phel into foolishness! O 'tis the noblest and surest way to vanquish an enemy; it was but asked and done.

2. Comfort your selves with this whenever you are at a loss in your own thoughts and know not what to do, then commit all to Divine conduct; let God [Page 202] Steer for you in a Storm; he loves to be trusted, Psal. 37. 5. Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust al­so in him, and he shall bring it to pass.

3. Encourage your selves from this when the Church is in the greatest danger, and most sorely shaken; O that is a blessed promise, Zech. 3. 9. Up­on one stone shall be seven eyes. Meaning Christ, and the Church built on him as the chief corner stone; the seven eyes are the seven eyes of Providence which are never all asleep.

CHAP. VIII.

Opening that glorious Attribute of Divine Faithfulness as a third Chamber of Secu­rity to the people of God in times of distress and danger.

SEC [...]. I.

HAving viewed the Saints Refuge in the Power and Wisdom of God, we next proceed to a third Chamber of Safety for the Saints refuge. viz. The Faithfulness of God.

In this Attribute is our Safety and Rest amidst the confusions of the world and daily disappointments we are vexed withal through the vanity and falsenes of the Creature: As to Creatures, the very best of them they are but vanity, yea, vanity of vanity, the vainest vanity, Eccles. 1. 2. Every man in his best estate is altogether vanity, Psal. 39. 5. Yea, those [Page 203] that we expect most from, give us most of trouble, Micah 7. 5. Nearest Relations bring up the rear of sorrows, Iob 6. 15. My brethren have dealt deceit­fully as a brook. Especially their deceit appears most when we have most need of their help, Psal. 142. 4. How great a mercy is it then to have a refuge in the Faithfulness of God, as David had, I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me, refuge failed me, no man cared for my soul. And likewise the Church, Micah. 7. 7. I will look unto the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation, my God will hear me. A time may come when you shall not know where to trust in all this world: Let me therefore open to you this Chamber of rest in the Faithfulness of God, against such a day, and this I shall do in a two sold consideration of it. viz.

  • 1. Absolutely in its own Nature.
  • 2. Relatively in the Promises and Providences of God.

1. Absolutely, and so the Faithfulness of God is his sincerity, firmness, and constancy in performing his word to his people in all times and cases. So Mo­ses describes him to Israel, Deut. 7. 9. Know there­fore that the Lord thy God he is God, the faithful God. And Ioshua appeals to their experience for the vindication of it, Iosh. 23. 14. Ye know in all your hearts, and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass, and not one thing hath failed thereof. And it is also fully as­serted, Ier. 31. 35, 36, 37. and greatly admired even in the darkest day, Lam. 3. 23. Great is thy faithfulness. And it is well for us that his faithful­ness [Page 204] is great, for great is that weight that leans upon it, even all our hopes for both worlds, for this world, and for that to come, Tit. 1. 2. In hope of eternal life which God that cannot lie promised before the world began.

It was a very dishonourable character that Suidas gave of Tiberius, Eorum quae appetebat ne quicquam prae se ferebat, & eorum quae dicebat, ne quicquam facere volebat. i. e. He never made shew of having what he desired to have, nor ever minded to do what he promised to do: But God is faithful, and that will appear by these following Evidences of it.

1. Evidence.

By his exact fulfilling of his Promises of the long­est date. So Acts 7. 6. Four hundred and thirty years were run out before the Promise of Israel's de­liverance out of Egypt was accomplished, yet Acts 7. 17. when the time of the Promise was come, God was punctual to a day: Seventy years in Babylon, and at the expiration of that time they returned, 2 Chron. 36. 21. Men may forget, but God cannot, Isa. 49. 15, 16.

2. Evidence.

By making way for his Promise through the grea­test difficulties, and seeming impossibilities. So to Abraham when old, Gen. 18. 13, 14. Is there any thing too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time will I return unto thee, according to the time of life; and Sarah shall have a son. And likewise to the Israelites, Can these dry bones live? Ezek. 37. 3. Difficulties are for men, not God, Gen. 18. 14. What art thou O [Page 205] great Mountain, Zech. 8. 6. If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the Lord of hosts.

3. Evidence.

By fulfilling promises to his people, when their hopes and expectations have been given up. So Ezek. 37. 11. Our bones are dry, our hopes lost, we are cut off for our part. And Isa. 49. 14. Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me. There may be much unbelief in good men, their faith may be sorely staggered, yet God is faith­ful, men may question his promises, yet God cannot deny himself, 2. Tim. 2. 13.

4. Evidence.

By Gods appealing to his people and referring the matter to their own judgments, Micah 6. 3, 4, 5. O my people, what have I done unto thee, and where­in have I wearied thee? Testifie against me, for I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeem­ed thee out of the house of servants, and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. O my people, re­member now what Balak King of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal, that ye may know the righteous­ness of the Lord. q. d. If I have failed in a Punctilio of my promise, shew it; did not Balak and Balaam court me, and try all ways to win me over to them by multitudes of Sacrifices, yet I did not desert you. So Ier. 2. 31. O generation, see ye the word of the Lord, have I been a wilderness unto Israel, a land of [Page 206] darkness? wherefore say my people, we are lords, we will come no more unto thee? Isa. 44. 8.

5. Evidence.

The Faithfulness of God is abundantly cleared by the constant testimonies given unto it in all Ages by them that have tryed it, they have all witnessed for God, and attested his unspotted faithfulness to the generations that were to come. So did Ioshua 23. 14. All is come to pass; and so did Daniel, Chap. 9. 4. O Lord the great and dreadful God, keeping the co­venant and mercy to them that love him: With▪ which David's testimony concurs, Psal. 146. 6. Happy [...]s he that hath the God of Jacob for his [...]elp, whose hope is in the Lord his God, which made the heaven and earth, the sea and all that therein is, which keep­eth truth for ever. Thus his people have been wit­nesses in all generations, unto the faithfulness of God in his promises; the consideration whereof leaves no doubt or objection behind it.

SECT. II.

ANd if we enquire into the grounds and reasons why God is, and ever must be most Faithful in perfoming his Promises, we shall find it is built up­on stable and unshaken pillars: viz.

  • 1. The Holiness of his Nature.
  • 2. The All-sufficiency of his Power.
  • 3. The Honour of his Name.
  • 4. The Unchangeableness of his Nature.

[Page 207] 1. The Faithfulness of God is built upon the perfect Holiness of his Nature, by reason whereof it is im­possible for God to lie, Tit. 1, 2. Heb. 6. 18. The deceitfulness of men flows from the corruption of the Humane Nature, but God is not as man that he should lye, neither as the son of man that he should repent; [...]hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? Numb. 23. 19. If there be no defect in his Being, there can be none in his working; if his Nature be pure Holiness, all his ways must be perfect Faith­fulness.

2. It is built upon the All-sufficiency of his Power, whatsoever he hath promised to his people, he is able to perform it; men sometimes falsifie their promises through the defects of ability to perform them; but God never out-promised himself; if he will work none can lett, Isa. 43. 13. He can do whatsoever he pleaseth to do, Psal. 135. 6. The Holiness of his Nature engageth, and the Almightiness of his Power enables him to be Faithful.

3. The glory and Honour of his Name may assure us of his Faithfulness in making good the Promises, and all that good which is in the promises to a tittle; for wherever you find a Promise of God, you also find the Name and Honour of God given as security for the performance of it; and so his name hath ever been pleaded with him by his people, as a mighty argument to work for them, Ioshuah 7. 9. What wilt thou do to thy great name? q. d. Lord thine Honour is a thousand times more than our lives, it is no such great matter what becomes of us; but ah Lord it is of infinite concernment that the glory of thy Name be secured, and thy faithfulness kept pure and unspotted in the world. So again, Exod. 32. 11, 12. And [Page 208] Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought out of the land of Egypt, with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak and say, for mifchief did he bring them out to [...]lay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people, q. d. It will be sad enough for the hands of the Egyptians to [...]all upon thy people, but infinitely worse for the tongues of the Egyptians to fall upon thy Name.

4. The unchangeableness of his Nature gives us the fullest assurance of his Faithfulness in the Pro­mises, Mal. 3. 6. I am the Lord, I change not, there­fore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. Gods un­changeableness is his peoples indempnity, and best security in the midst of dangers; whilst there is not yea and nay with God, there should be no ups and downs, offs and ons in our faith; that which gives steadiness to the Promises, should give steadiness also to our expectations for the performance of them; and so much briefly of the Faithfulness of God absolutely considered in the Nature and grounds of it.

2. Next let us view the Faithfulness of God, as it relates to the many great and precious Promises made unto his people for their security both in their,

Concernments.
  • 1. Temporal
  • 2. Spiritual

1. We find the Faithfulness of God pawned and pledged for the security of his people in their Spiritual and eternal concernments, against all their dangers [Page 209] and fears, threatning them on that account, and that more especially in these three respects.

1. It is given them as their great and best security for the Pardon of their sins, 1 Iohn 1. 9. If we con­f [...]ss our si [...]s he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse [...]s from all unrighteousness. Our grea­test danger comes from sin; Guilt is a fountain of Fears, a pardoned Soul only can look other troubles in the face boldly: As Guilt breeds fear, so Pardon breeds Courage, and Gods Faithfulness in the Co­venant is as it were that Pardon-office from whence we fetch our discharges and acquittances, Isa. 43. 25. I, even I am he, that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake. The promises of remission are made for Christs sake, and when made, they must be fulfilled for his own, that is his Faithfulness sake.

2. It is engaged for the perseverance of the Saints, and their continuance in the ways of God in the most hazardous and difficult times; this was the encourage­ment given them, 1 Cor. 1. 8, 9. Who shall also con­firm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Iesus Christ; God is faithful by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Ie­sus Christ our Lord. Ah Lord! might those Corin­thians say, the Powers of the World are against us, Suffering and Death before us, a Treacherous and fearful heart within us. Ay, but yet fear not, Christ shall confirm you, whosoever opposes you; though the World and your own hearts be deceitful, yet comfort your selves with this, your God is Faith­ful.

3. The Faithfulness of God is given by promise for his Peoples security in, and encouragement a­gainst all their sufferings and afflictions in this World, [...] Thes. 3. 2, 3. That we may be delivered from un­reasonable [Page 210] and wicked men, for all men have not faith; but the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. He prays they may be deliver­ed from absurd, treacherous and unfaithful men, who would trapan and betray them to ruine; but this is proposed as their relief, that when the treachery of men shall bring them into trouble, the Faithfulness of God shall support them under, and deliver them out of those troubles; they shall have Spiritual supports from God, under their deepest suf­ferings from men, 1 Pet. 4. 19.

2. Gods Faithfulness is engaged for his peoples indempnity and security amidst the Temporal and outward evils whereunto they are liable in this world▪ and that either to preserve them from troubles, Psal. 91. 1, 2, 3, 4. or to open a seasonable door of deli­verance out of trouble, 1 Cor. 10. 13. In both or either of which the hearts of Christians may be at rest in this troublesome world; for what need those trou­bles fright us, which either shall never touch us, or if they do, shall never hurt, much less ruine us.

SECT. III.

HAving taken a short view of Gods Faithfulness in the Promises, it will be a lovely sight to take one view of it more as it is actuated, and exerted in his Providences over his people; believe it Christians, the Faithfulness of God runs through all his works of providence, whenever he goes forth to work in the World, Faithfulness is the girdle of his loins, Isa. 11. 5. It is an allusion to workmen who going forth in the morning to their labour, gird their loins or rein [...] with a girdle, now there is no work wrought by God [Page 211] in this world, But his faithfulness is as the Girdle of his Loins. The consideration whereof should make the most despondent believer, gird up the Loins of his mind, that is, encourage and strengthen his drooping and discouraged heart. Those works of God which are wrought in Faithfulness and in pursuit of his eternal purposes and gracious promises, should rather delight, than affright us, in behold­ing of them. It pluckt out the Sting of David's affliction when he considered it was in very faith­fulness, that God had afflicted him, Psal. 119. 89, 90. But more particularly, let us behold with de­light the faithfulness of God, making good six sorts of Promises to his People, in the days of their affliction and trouble, viz.

  • 1. The Promises of Preservation.
  • 2. The Promises of Support.
  • 3. The Promises of Direction.
  • 4. The Promises of Provision.
  • 5. The Promises of Deliverance.
  • 6. The Promises of Ordering and Directing the Event to their Advantage.

1. There are promises in the word for your pre­servation from ruine, and what you read in those promises you dayly see the same fulfilled in your own experiences. You have a promise in Psal. 57. 3. He shall send from Heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth. Say now, have you not found it so, when Hell hath sent forth its Temptations to de [...]ile you? The World its persecu [...]ions to destroy your own heart, its unbelieving fears to distract and sink you, hath [Page 212] not your God sent forth also his mercy and his truth to save you? Hath not his truth been your shield and buckler? Psal. 91. 4. May you not say with the Church it is of his mercy you are not consumed, his mercies are new every morning, and great is his faithfulness, Lam. 3. 23.

2. As you have seen it actually fulfilling the promises for your preservation, so you may see it making good all the promises in his word for your support in troubles. That is a sweet promise, Psal. 91. 15. I will be with him in trouble: I will deli­ver him, you have also a very supporting promise in Isa. 41. 10. Fear not thou, for I am with thee: be not dismayed for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee, yea, I will help thee, yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. O, how evidently hath the faithfulness of God shone forth in the perfor­mance of his word to you in this respect! you are his witnesses, you would have sunk in the deep wa­ters of trouble if it had not been so. So speaks Da­vid, Psal. 73. 26. My heart and my flesh faileth, but God is the strength of my heart; and my portion for ever. Have you not found it so with you as it is in 2 Cor. 12. 10. Therefore I take pleasure in infir­mities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. God's strength hath been made per­fect in your weakness, by this you have been car­ried through all your troubles; hitherto hath he helped you.

3. As you have seen it faithfully fulfilling the promises for your preservation, and support; So you have seen it in the direction of your ways. So [...]uns that promise, Psal. 32. 8. I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way that thou shalt go: I will [Page 213] guide thee with mine eye. Certain it is That the way of man is not in himself, Jer. 10. 23. O how faith­fully hath your God guided you, and stood by you in all the difficult cases of your Life! Is not that promise, Heb. 13. 5. faithfully fulfilled to a tittle▪ I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee? Surely you can set your seal to that in Ioh. 17. 17. Thy word is truth: had you been left to your own coun­sels you had certainly perished; as it is said of them, in Psal. 81. 12. I gave them up unto their own hearts lusts: and they walked in their own counsels.

4. As there are promises in the word for your pre­servation, support, and direction; So in the fourth place there are promises for your provisions, as in Psal. 34. 9. the Lord hath promised that They that fear him shall not want. When they are driven to extremity, he will provide, Isa. 41. 17. When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the Lord will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. And is not this faithfully performed? He hath given meat un­to them that fear him: he will ever be mindful of his Covenant, Psal. 111. 5. In all the exigencies of your lives, you have found him faithful to this day; you are his witnesses that his providences never fail­ed you, his care hath been renewed every morning for you; how great is his faithfulness?

5. You also find in the word some reviving pro­mises for your deliverances. You have a very sweet promise in Psal. 91. 14. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: and again, Psal. 50. 15. Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee; you have done so, and he hath made a way to escape. Our lives are so many monuments of mercy, we have lived among Lyons, [Page 214] yet preserved, Psal. 57. 4. The burning Bush was an embleme of the Church miraculously preser­ved.

6. There are promises in the word for the or­dering and directing all the occurrences of provi­dence to your great advantages; so it is promised, Rom. 8. 28. That all things shall work together for good, to them that love God. Fear not Christians, however you find it now, whilst you are tossing to and fro upon the unstable waves of this world; you shall find to be sure when you come to heaven, that all the troubles of your lives were guided as steddily by this promise, as ever any Ship at Sea was directed to its Port, by the Compass or North-Star.

And now what remains, but that I press you as before,

  • 1. To enter into this Chamber of Divine Faith­fulness.
  • 2. To shut the Door behind you.
  • 3. And then to live comfortably on it in evil days.

1. Enter into this Chamber of God's faithfulness by faith, and hide your selves there. Every man is a Lye, but God is True, eternally and inchangea­bly faithful; O exercise your faith upon it, be at rest in it!

Now there are two great and weighty Arguments to press you to enter into this Chamber of divine faithfulness.

1. Arg. Is fetched from the nature of God who can­not lye, Ti [...]s 1. 2. He is not as man, that he should [...]ye. Numb. 23, 19. Neither the son of man that the should repent: hath he said, and shall he [...]ot do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make [Page 215] it good? Remember upon what everlasting steddy grounds the faithfulness of God is built. These are immutable things, Heb. 6. 18. This Abra­ham built upon. Rom. 4. 21. Being fully perswa­ded, that what he had promised, he was able also to perform. He accounted him faithful that promised. What would you expect or require in the person that you are to trust? You would,

1. Expect a clear promise, and lo, you have a thousand all the Scripture over; fitted to all the cases of your Souls and Bodies. This you may plead with God, as David, Psal. 119. 49. Remem­ber the word unto thy Servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope. So Iacob pleaded, Gen. 32. 12. Thou saidst, I will surely do thee good. These are Gods Bonds and Obligations.

2. You would expect sufficient power to make good what he promiseth. This is in God as a fair foundation of faith, Isa. 26. 4. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Iehovah is everlasting strength; Because of thy strength we will wait on thee. Creatures cannot, but God can do what he will.

3. You would expect infinite goodness and mer­cy inclining him to help and save you; why? So it is here, Psal. 130. 7. Let Israel hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is mercy: and with him is plenteous redemption. So Moses, Exod. 33. 18. I beseech thee, shew me thy glory. The request was a view of God's Glory. The answer is, my goodness shall pass before thee, which hints to us, that though all God's Attributes be glorious, yet that, he most glories in, is his goodness: And then,

4. You would expect that none of his Promises [Page 216] were ever blotted or sta [...]ed by his unfaithfulness at any time, and so it is here, Iosh. 23. 14. not one thing hath failed, all are come to pass, all ages have seal­ed this conclusion, Thy word is truth, thy word is truth.

2. Arg. Besides all this you have the encourage­ment of all former experiences both others and your own, as a second Argument to press you to enter into this Chamber of Safety, the Faithfulness of God.

1. You have the experiences of others. Saints have reckoned the experiences of others that lived a thou­sand years before them, as excellent arguments to quicken their Faith. So Hos. 12. 4. He had power over the Angel and prevailed, he found him in Bethel and there he spake, Remember there was a Ioseph with us in Prison, a Ieremy in the Dungeon, a Daniel in the Den, a Peter in Chains, an Hez [...]kiah upon the brink of the Grave; and they all found the help of God most faithfully protecting them and saving them in all their troubles. Suitable so this is that in Psal. 22. 4. 5. Our fathers trusted in thee; they trusted and thou deliveredst them, they cried unto thee and were delivered, they trusted in thee and were not con­founded.

2. Your own experiences may encourage your faith: So Davids did, 1. Sam. 17. 37. The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the Lyon, and out of the paw of the Bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. So did Paul's experi­ence encourage his Faith, in 2 Cor. 1. 10. Who de­livered us from so great a death, and doth deliver; in whom we trust that he will yet deliver us. Thus en­ter into the Faithfulness of God by Faith.

2. Let me beg you to be sure to shut the doors be­hind you, against all unbelieving doubts, jealousies, and suspicions of the faithfulness of God; the best [Page 217] men may find temptations of that nature; so did good Asaph though an eminent Saint, Psal. 77. 78. Will the Lord cast off for ever? and will he be favourable no more? Is his mercy clean gone for ever? Doth his pro­mise fail for ever more? These jealousies are apt to creep in upon the minds of men, especially when,

1. God delays to answer our Prayers as soon as we expect the return of them, we are all in hast for a spee­dy answer, forgetting that seasons of Prayer are our seed-times; and when we have sown that precious seed, we must wait for the Harvest, as the Husband­man doth. Even a precious Heman may find a faint qualm of unbelief and despondency seizing him by the long suspension of Gods answers, Psal. 88. 9, 10, 11.

2. Twill be hard to shut the door upon unbelief, when all things in the eye of our sense and reason seem to work against the Promise. It will require an Abra­ham's Faith at such a time to glorifie God by believ­ing in hope against hope, Rom. 4. 18. If ever thou hop [...]st to enjoy the sweet repose and rest of a Christi­an in evil times, thou must resolve whatever thine eyes do see, or thy senses report, to hold fast this as a most sure conclusion; God is faithful, and his word is sure, and that although Clouds and darkness be round about him, yet righteousness and judgment are the ha­bitation of his throne, Psal. 97. 2.

O that you would once learn to keep house upon Gods Faithfulness, and fetch your daily reliefs and supports thence, whensoever you are pressed and as­saulted, either,

1. By Spiritual troubles. When you walk in dark­ness and have no light, then you are to live by acts of trust and recumbency upon the most faithful one, Isa. 50. 10. Or,

[Page 218] 2. By Temporal distresses, so did the People of God of old, Hab. 3. 17, 18. He lived by Faith on this Attribute when all visible comforts and supplies were out of sight.

But especially let me warn and caution you against five principal enemies to your repose upon the Faith­fulness of God, viz.

1. Distracting cares, which divide the mind, and eat out the peace and comfort of the heart, and which is worst of all, they reflect very dishonourably upon God, who hath pledged his Faithfulness and Truth for our security; against which I pray you bar the door by those two Scriptures, Phil. 4. 6. Be care­ful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and sup­plication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And that in 1 Pet. 5. 7. Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.

2. Bar the door against unchristian despondency, another enemy to the sweet repose of your Souls in this comfortable and quiet Chamber of Divine Faith­fulness; you will find this unbecoming and uncom­fortable distemper of mind, insinuating and creep­ing in upon you, except you believe and reason i [...] out, as David did, Psal. 42. 11. Why art thou cast down O my soul, and why disquieted within me? Hope thou in God for I shall yet praise him.

3. Bar the door of your heart against carnal poli­cies and sinful shifts, which war against your own Faith, and Gods Faithfulness, as much as any other enemy whatsoever. This was the fault of good David in a day of trouble, 1 Sam. 27. 1. And David said in his heart, I shall now perish one day by the hand of Saul; there is nothing better for me than that I should speedily escape into the land of the Philistines. Alas poor Da­vid, nothing better than this? Time was when thou [Page 219] couldst think on a better way, when thou couldst say at what time I am afraid I will trust in thee. How dost thou forget thy self in this strait? Doth thy old refuge in God fail thee now? Can the Philistines se­cure thee better than the Promises? Wilt thou fly from thy best friend, to thy worst enemies? But what need we wonder at David who find the same distem­per almost unavoidable to our selves in like cases?

4. Shut the door against discontents at, and mur­murings against the dispositions of Providence, what­ever you feel or fear; I perswade you not to a Stoical Apathy, and senselesness of the evils of the times, that would preclude the exercise of Patience: If the Mar­tyrs had all had the dead Palsie before they came to the fire, their Faith and Patience had not triumphed so gloriously as they did; but on the contrary, beware of grudgings against the ways and will of God, than which nothing militates more against your Faith and the peace and quietness of your hearts.

5. To conclude, shut the door against all suspicions and jealousies of the firmness and stability of the Pro­mises, when you find all sensible comforts shaking and trembling under your feet; have a care of such dangerous questions as that, Psal. 77. 8. Doth his promise fail? These are the things which undermine the foundation both of your faith and comfort.

3. In a word, Having sheltered your Souls in this Chamber of rest, and thus shut the doors behind you; all that you have to do, is to take your rest in God, and enjoy the pleasure of a resigned Soul into the hands of a Faithful Creator, by opposing the Faith­fulness of God, to all the fickleness and unfaithful­ness you will daily find in men, Mica. 7. 6, 7, Yea to the weakness and fading of your own natural strength and ability, Psal. 73. 26. My flesh and my heart [Page 220] faileth, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever. And so much of the Third Cham­ber prepared for Believers in the Name of their God.

CHAP. IX.

Opening to Believers the Vnchangeableness of God, as a Fourth Chamber of Refuge and Rest in times of trouble.

SECT. I.

IT is said, Prov. 9. 1. Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewen out her seven pillars. (i. e.) She hath raised her whole building upon solid and stable foundations, for indeed the strength of every building is according to the ground work upon which it is erected, Debile fundamentum fallit opus. The Wisdom and Love of God have built an house for a Refuge and Sanctuary to Believers in tempestu­ous and evil times, containing many pleasant and comfortable Chambers prepared for their lodgings, till the calamities be over-past; three of them have been already opened, viz. The Power, Wisdom, and Faithfulness of God.

The last of which leads into a fourth much like un­to it, namely the Unchangeableness of God; where­in his people may find as much rest and comfort a­midst the vicissitudes of this unstable World, as in any of the former. This World is compared, Rev. 15. 2. to A sea of glass mingled with fire. A Sea for [Page 221] its turbulency and instability, a Sea of glass for the brittleness and frailty of every thing in it; and a Sea of glass mingled with fire, to represent the sharp suf­ferings and fiery trials, with which the Saints are exercised here below. The only support and com­fort we have against the fickleness and instability of the Creature, is the Unchangeableness of God. There is a two-fold changeableness in the Creature:

  • 1. Natural, the effect of Sin.
  • 2. Sinful, in its own Nature.

1. Natural, let in by the fall upon all the Crea­ [...]ion; by reason whereof the sweetest Creature is but a fading flower, Psal. 102. 26. Time like a Moth frets out the best wrought garment with which we cloath and deck our selves in this World, temporalia rapit tempus. Our most pleasant enjoyments, Wives, Children, Estates, like the Gourd in which Ionas so delighted himself, may wither in a night; Sin rings these changes all the world over.

2. Sinful, from the falseness, inconstancy, deceit­fulness of the Creature; Solomon puts a hard questi­on which may pose the whole World to answer it, Prov. 20. 6. A faithful man who can find? The meaning is a man of perfect and universal Faithful­ness, is a Phoenix seldom or never to be found in this world; for when a question in Scripture is moved and let fall again without any answer, then the sence is Negative; but though the believer despair of finding an unchangeable man, it is his happiness and comfort to find an Unchangeable God.

The Unchangeableness of God will appear three ways.

  • [Page 222]1. By Scripture Emblems.
  • 2. By Scripture Assertions.
  • 3. By convincing Arguments.

1. By Scripture Emblems, remarkable to this pur­pose is that place, Iam. 1. 17. where God is called The Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. No variableness the word is, [...], an Astronomical term, commonly applyed to the Heavenly Bodies which have their Parallaxes, i. e. their Declinations, Revolutions, Vi­cissitudes, Eclipses, Increases and Decreases; but God is a Sun that never rises nor sets, but is everlast­ingly and unchangeably one and the same; with him is no variableness nor shadow of turning, [...]. The Sun in its Zenith casts no shadow, it is the Tropick, or turning of its course, that causes the shadow; the very substance of turning is with man; but not the least shadow of turning with God. And in Deut. 32. 4. Moses tells us, God is a rock, and his work is perfect. And indeed perfect working necessarily follows a perfect Being: Now there is nothing found in Nature more solid, fixed, and immutable, than a rock; the firmest buildings will decay, a few ages will make them a ruinous heap; but though one age pass away and another comes, the rocks abide where, and what they were; Our God is the rock of ages; and yet one step higher, in Zech. 6. 1. His decrees and purposes are called Mountains of Brass, that is, most firm, durable, and unchangeable purposes: Thus the Immutability of God is shadowed forth to us in Scripture Em­ble [...]s.

[Page 223] 2. The same also you will find in plain positive Scripture Assertions; such are these that follow, Mal. 3. 6. I am the Lord, I change not, therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. And Iob 23. 13. He is in one mind, and who can turn him? Men are in one mind to day, and another to morrow; the winds are not more variable than the minds of men: But God is in one mind, the purposes of his heart never change. Thou art the same, or as some translate, Thou art thy self for ever, Psal. 102. 27. Thus when Moses desired to know his name that he might tell Pharaoh from whom he came; the Answer is, I am hath sent me, Exod. 3. 14. not I was, or I will be, but I am that I am, nothing the Absolute unchangeableness of his Nature.

3. The Unchangeableness of God is fully proved by convincing arguments which Divines commonly draw from such Topicks as these, viz.

  • 1. The Perfection of his Goodness.
  • 2. The Purity of his Nature.
  • 3. The Glory of his Name.

1. Arg. From the Perfection of his Goodness and Blessedness, God is Optimus, maximus, the best and chiefest good, and in that sense, There is none good but one, which is God, Mark 10. 18. From whence it is thus argued, If there be any change in God, that change must either be for the better, or for the worse, or into a State equal with that he possessed before.

But not for the better, for then he could not be the chief good; nor for the worse, for then he must cease to be God, the perfection of whose Nature is perfect­fectly exclusive of all defects; nor into an equal state [Page 224] of goodness with that he possessed before; that notion would involve Polytheism, and suppose two First and equal Beings, besides the vanity of such a change would be absolutely repugnant to the Wisdom of God.

Therefore with the Father of lights can be no vari­ableness nor shadow of turning.

2. Arg. The Unchangeableness of God may be evinced from the Purity, sincerity, and uncom­poundedness of his Being, in which there neither is, nor can be the least mixture, he being a pure act. From whence it is thus argued;

If there be any change in God, that change must be made either by something without himself; or by something within himself, or by both together.

But it cannot be by any thing without himself; for in him all created dependent Beings live and move, and enjoy the Beings they have; and all the changes that are among them, are from the pleasure of this unchangeable Being, he changeth them, but it is not possible for him, upon whose pleasure they so intirely and absolutely depend, both as to their Be­ings, and workings, to suffer any change himself from, or by them.

Nor can any such change be made upon God by any thing within himself; for that would suppose action and passion, movens & motum a mixture and composition in his Nature, which is absolutely re­jected and excluded by the simplicity and purity thereof: seeing therefore it can neither be from any power without him, nor any mixture within him, there can be no change at all made on him.

3. Arg. That is by no means to be ascribed to God, which at once eclipses the glory of his name, [Page 225] and overthrows the hopes and comforts of all his people.

But so would the supposition of mutability in God do, this would level him with the vain changeable creature; whereas it is a principal part of his glory, that He is not as man that he should lie, neither the son of man that he should repent, Numb. 23. 19. This also would overthrow the hopes and comforts of all his people, which are built upon this Attribute as upon their stable and solid foundation: Among divers o­ther we find three principal priviledges of the people of God, built upon his Immutability, viz.

  • 1. Their Perseverance in Grace.
  • 2. Their Comfort in the Promises.
  • 3. Their Hopes of Eternal life.

1. Their Perseverance in Grace is built upon the foun­dation of Gods unchangeableness; one main reason why Christians never repent of their choice of Christ and the ways of Godliness, is because the gifts and calling of God are without repentance, Rom. 11. 29. Should God but once repent of the gifts of grace he hath bestowed on us, and alter in his love towards us, how soon would our love to God, and delight in God vanish, as the image in the glass doth when the man that looked upon it hath once turned away his face?

2. All their comfort in the promises is built upon Gods unchangeableness. The promises are the springs of consolation; should they fail and dry up, the whole world could not afford them one drop of Spi­ritual comfort to refresh their thirsty Souls; the strength of our consolation immediately results from [Page 226] the stability and firmness of the Scripture promises, Heb. 6. 18.

3. Their hopes of eternal life depends upon the unchangeableness of God that hath promised, Tit. 1. 2. In hope of eternal life, which God that cannot lie, promised before the world began. Take away then the Immutability of God, and you at once darken and eclipse his Glory, and overturn the perseverance, con­solations, and hopes of all his people; but blessed be God these things are built upon firm foundations.

1. His Nature is unchangeable, Thou art the same for ever, Ps. 102. 27. The Heavens though they be the purest, and therefore the most durable and un­changeable part of the creation; yet they shall pe­rish and wax old, and be changed as a vesture, but our God is the same for ever.

2. His power is unchangeable, Isa. 59. 1. The Lords hand is not shortened. Time will enfeeble the strong­est creature, and cut short the Power of the hands of the mighty, they cannot do in their decrepit age as they were wont to do in their youthful and vigorous age; but the Lords hand never is, nor can be shor­tened.

3. The counsels and purposes of his heart are un­changeable, Psal. 33. 11. The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all ge­nerations.

4. The goodness, truth, and mercy of God are Unchangeable, Psal. 100. 5. The Lord is good, his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endureth to all ge­nerations.

5. The word of God is Unchangeable. Though all flesh be as grass, and the goodliness thereof as the flower of the field, yet the word of our God shall stand for ever; all the Promises contained therein are sure [Page 227] and stedfast: Not yea and nay, but yea and Amen for ever, 2 Cor. 1. 20.

6. The love of God is an Unchangeable love, Ier. 31. 3. Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love.

7. In a word, all the gracious Pardons of God are unchangeable, as they are full without excepti­ons, so they are final Pardons without any revoca­tion. I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their iniquities and sins will I remember no more, Heb. 8. 12. And thus much briefly of Gods unchangea­bleness absolutely considered in it self.

SECT. II.

LEt us next consider, and believingly view the Unchangeableness of God in its respect and re­lation,

  • 1. To his Promises.
  • 2. To his Providences.

1. The Immutability of God gives down its com­forts to Believers through the Promises, there is no o­ther way by which they can have a comfortable ad­mission into this Chamber or Attribute of God; and there are six sorts of promises in the word, by which it is highly improveable to their support and comfort in an evil day. For,

1. The unchangeable God hath engaged himself by Promise to be with his people in all times and in all streights, Heb. 13. 5. I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. The life, joy, and comfort of a Be­liever lies in the bosom of that Promise, the conclu­sion [Page 228] of Faith from thence is sweet and sure; If I shall never be forsaken of my God, let Hell and Earth do their worst, I can never be miserable.

2. The Unchangeable God hath promised to main­tain their graces, and thereby his interest in them for ever, Ier. 32. 40. And I will make an everlasting Covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me. Where the Lord undertakes for both parts in the Covenant, his own and theirs; I will not turn away from them, O unexpressible mercy! Yea, but Lord, may the poor Believer say, that is not so much my fear, as that my treacherous heart will turn away from thee. No, saith God, I will take care for that also; I will put my fear into thy heart, and thou shalt never depart from me.

3. The Unchangeable God hath promised to esta­blish the Covenant with them for ever; so that those who are [...] taken into that gracious Covenant shall never be turned out of it again, Isa. 54. 10. The mountains shall depart, and the Hills be removed, but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.

4. The Unchangeable God hath secured his lo­ving kindness to his people by Promise under all the trials, and smarting rods of affliction, with which he chastens them in this world; he hath re­served to himself the liberty of afflicting them, but bound himself by promise never to remove his fa­vour from them, Psal. 89. 33, 34. I will visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with siripes, nevertheless my loving kindness will I not take from them, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.

[Page 229] 5. The Promises of a joyful resurrection from the dead are grounded upon the Immutability of God, Matth. 22. 32. I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; God is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living. Death hath made a great change upon them, but none up­on their God; though they be not, he is still the same, therefore they are not lost in death; but shall assuredly be found again in the resurrection.

6. To conclude, the promises of the Saints eter­nal happiness with God in Heaven, are founded in his Immutability, 1 Cor. 1. 8, 9. Tit. 1. 2. By all which you see what a pleasant lodging is prepared for the Saints in the unchangeable promises of God, amidst all the changes and alterations here below.

2. Once more, let us view the unchangeableness of God in his Providences towards his people, what­ever changes it makes upon us, or whatever changes we seem to discern in it, nothing is more certain than this, that it holds one and the sam [...] tenor, pursues one and the same design in all that it doth upon us, or about us. Providences indeed are very variable, but the designs and ends of God in them all are invaria­ble, and the same for ever. It is noted in Ezek. 1. 12. that The wheels went straight forward, whither the spirit was to go, they went, and they turned not when they went. As it is in Nature so in Providence, you have one day fair, halcyon, and bright, ano­ther dark and full of storm, one season h [...]t, ano­ther cold; but all these serve to one and the same end and design to make the earth fruitful; and the aim of all Providences is to make you holy and happy: That is a sweet Promise, Rom. 8. 28. All things shall work together for good to them that love God. This is the compass by which all Provi [...]ences steer [Page 230] their course, as a Ship at Sea, doth by the Card; but more particularly, let us note the unchangea­bleness of God in his Providences of all kinds, effe­ctive and permissive, and see in them all his unchan­geable righteousness and goodness.

1. It must needs be so, considering the unchangea­bleness of his decree, 2 Tim. 2. 19. The foundation of God standeth sure. Providences serve, but never frustrate, execute but cannot make void the decree; so that you may say of the most afflicting Providen­ces, as David doth of the stormy winds, Psal. 148. 8. they all fulfil his word.

2. The Wisdom of God proves it, he will not suffer his works or permissions to clash with his de­signs and purposes; Divine Wisdom shews it self in the steddy direction of all things to the ultimate end. To open this in some particulars, consider,

1. Doth the Lord permit wicked men to rage, and insult, persecute, and vex his people? Yet all this while Providence is in its right way, it walks in as direct a line to your good, as when it is in a more pleasant path of Peace. Ier. 24. 5. Thus saith the Lord the God of Israel, like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chald [...]ans for their good. Israel was sent to Babylon for their good. This improves your faith and patience, Rev. 13. 10. Here is the patience and f [...]ith of the Saints. So R [...]m. 5. 2, 3. By whom also we have access by faith into this grace, wherein we stand, and rejoyce in hope of the glory of God; and not only so, but we glory in tribulations also; knowing that tribulati [...]n worketh patience. By this you are weaned from, and mortified to this world.

[Page 231] 2. Doth the Lord in his Providence order many and frequent, close and smarting afflictions for you? Why lo, here is the same design managing as effectu­ally, as if all the peace and prosperity in the World were ordered for you: The face of Providence in­deed is not the same, but the love of God is still the the same, he loves you as much when he smites, as when he smiles on you; for what are his ends in af­flicting you, and what the sanctified fruits of your afflictions? Is it not?

1. To purge your iniquities, Isa. 27. 9. By this therefore shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged, and this is all the fruit to take away his sin.

2. To reduce your hearts to God, Psal. 119. 67. Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now have I kept thy word.

3. To quicken you to your duties, let the best man be without afflictions and he will quickly grow dull in the way of his duty.

3. Doth God let loose the chain of Satan to tempt and buffet you? Yet is he still the same God to you as before; for do but observe his ends in that permissi­on, and you will find, that by these things the Lord is leading you towards that desired assurance of his love which your Souls long after. Few Christians attain to any considerable settlement of Soul, but by such shakings and combates; the end of these per­missions is to put you to your knees, and blow up a greater flame and fervour of Spirit in Prayer, 2 Cor. 12. 8. So that eventually these permissions of Provi­dence prove singular advantages, and blessings to you.

SECT. III.

WHat remains then, seeing God is Unchange­able in his love to his People, pursuing the the great ends of all his gracious promises in a steddy course of Providence wherein he will never effect, or permit any thing that is really repugnant to his own glory or their good; but that we enter also into this Camber of Rest, shut the doors about us, and comfortably improve the unchangeableness of God, while we see nothing but changes and troubles here below.

1. Enter into Gods Unchangeableness by Faith, take up your lodgings in this sweet Attribute also; and to encourage your Faith thereunto, seriously con­sider a few particulars.

1. Consider how constant, firm, and unchange­able God hath been to his people in all times and streights; not one among the many thousands of his people that are passed on before you, but by frequent and certain experience have found him so. What a singular encouragement should this be to our Faith in the case before us? Psal. 9. 10. They that know thy name, will put their trust in thee, for thou Lord hast not forsaken them that seek thee. So Isa. 25. 4. Thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shad­dow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as the storm against the wall. Neither is there any thing in your experience contradictory to the encou­raging reports others have made of God; you must acknowledge, that notwithstanding your own chan­geableness who have hardly been able to maintain [Page 233] your hearts in any Spiritual frame towards God for one day together, yet his mercies towards you have been new every morning, and great hath been his Faithfulness: You have often turned aside from the way of your duty, and have not followed God in a steddy course of obedience, and yet for all that, his goodness and mercy have followed you all the days of your life, as it is Psal. 23. 6.

2. Consider how often you have doubted and mistrusted the unchangeableness of God, and been forced with shame and sorrow to retract your folly therein; God hath many times convinced you that his love to you is an unchangeable love, how many changes soever in the course of his Providence have passed over you; consult Isa. 49. 14. and Psal. 77, 78. and see how the cases parallel both in respect of Gods constancy to them and you, and the inconstan­cy of his peoples Faith then, and yours now; your fears and doubts are the same with theirs; though his goodness and love have been as unchangeable to you as ever it was towards them.

3. Consider the Advocateship and intercession of Jesus Christ in Heaven for you; by vertue whereof the favour and love of God becomes unalterable to­wards his people. If any thing can be supposed to cool or quench the love of God towards you, no­thing in the world is more like to do it, than your sin, and this indeed is that, which you fear will estrange and alienate the heart of your God from you. But Reader, if thou be one that sincerely mournest for all the grief and dishonour of God by thy sin, appliest the bloud of sprinkling to thy Soul by Faith, and makest mortification and watchful­ness thy daily business; comfort thy self against that fear from that singular encouragement given thee [Page 234] in this case, 1 Iohn 2. 1, 2. My little children, these things write I unto you that ye sin not, and if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Ie­sus Christ the righteous, and he is the propitiation for our sins. Look as the death of Christ healed the great breach betwixt God and thy Soul, by thy reconcili­ation at first; so the powerful Intercession of Christ in Heaven effectually prevents all new breaches be­twixt God and thy Soul afterwards, so that he will never totally and finally cast thee off again.

2. Shut the door behind you against all objecti­ons, scruples, and questionings of Gods immutabi­lity, and by a resolved and steddy Faith, maintain the the honour of God in this point by thy constant ad­herence to it and dependence upon it, and especially see that thou give him the glory of his unchangeable­ness.

1. When thou shalt see the greatest alterations and changes made by his Providence in the World. What though thou shouldest live to see all things turned upside down, the foundations out of course, all things drawing into a Sea of confusion and trou­ble? Yet in the midst of those publick distractions and distress of Nations: Encourage thou thy self in this, thy God and his love to his people is the same for ever. Psal. 46. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be moved, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea. God is in the midst of her, she shall not be mo­ved.

2. Live by Faith upon Gods unchangeableness under the greatest changes of your own condition in this world: Providence may make great alterations upon all your outward conforts, it may cast you [Page 235] down, how dear soever you be to God, from riches into poverty, from health into sickness, from honour into reproach, from liberty into bondage! thou mayest overlive thy comfortable relations, and of a Naomi become a Marah. Thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down, said as good a man as you, Psal. 102. 10. Yet still it is your duty, and will be your great priviledge in the midst of all these changes, to act your faith upon the never changing God, as that holy man did, Hab. 3. 17. Although the Fig-tree shall not blossom, neither fruit be in the vine; the la­bour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flocks shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet will I rejoyce in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. q. d. Suppose a thousand disappointments of my earthly hopes, yet will I maintain my hope in God. O Christian, with how many yets, notwithstandings, and neverthelesses, must thy faith bear up in times of trouble, or thou'l sink?

3. See thou live upon Gods unchangeableness, when age and sickness shall inform thee, that thy great change is at hand; though thy heart and thy flesh fail, comfort thy self with this, thy God will never fail thee, Psal. 73. 16. O God, saith David, thou hast taught me from my youth, and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works, now also when I am old and gray headed, forsake me not, Psal. 71, 17, 18.

4. Live upon the unchangeableness of God under the greatest and saddest changes of your Spiritual con­dition, God may cloud the light of his countenance over thy Soul, he may fill thee with fears and trou­bles, and the comforter that should relieve thee, may seem to be far off; yet still maintain thy faith [Page 236] in the unchangeableness of his loves; trust in the name of the Lord, stay thy self upon the God when thou walkest in darkness and hast no light, Isa. 50. 10. Thus shut thy door.

3. Improve the unchangeabless of God to thy best advantage in the worst times, by drawing thence such comfortable conclusions as these:

1. If God be an uchangeable God in his promi­ses, and in his love to his people, what should hinder but the people of God may live happily and comfor­tably in the saddest times, and greatest troubles upon earth. As sorrowful, yet always rejoycing, as poor, yet making many rich, as having nothing, and yet possessing all things, 2 Cor. 6. 10. Certainly nothing ought to quench a Christians mirth that is not able to separate him from the love of Christ, Rom. 8. 35.

2. If God be an unchangeable God in his love to his people; then it becomes all that have special in­terest in this God, to be unchangeable and immove­able in the ways of their obedience towards him: God will not cast you off, see that you cast not off your duties, no not when they are surrounded with difficulties; he loves you, though you often grieve him by sin; see that you still love him, though he often grieve and burden you by affliction: he will own you for his people under the greatest contempts and reproaches of the World; see that you own and honour his ways and truths when you are under most reproach from a vile World.

CHAP. X.

Opening the Care of God for his people in times of trouble, as the fifth Chamber of Rest to Believers.

SECT. 1.

CAre in the general Notion of it, as it is applyed to the Creature, imports the studiousness, and solicitousness of our thoughts, for the safety and wel­fare of our selves, or those we love, and highly va­lue. Now though there be no such thing properly in God, at whose dispose and pleasure all events are, and to whose counsels and appointments all difficul­ties must give way, yet he is pleased to accommodate himself to our weakness, and express his regard and love to his people, by such things, as one creature doth to another to which it is endeared by relation or affection. To this purpose we find many significant, Synonomous expressions in Scripture, all importing the careof God over his people in a pleasant variety of notion and expression, as Nah. 1. 7. The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble, and he knoweth them that trust in him. He knoweth them, i. e. he hath a special, tender, and careful eye upon them, to see their wants supplyed, and to protect them in all their dangers; for in the common and ge­neral sense, he knoweth them that trust not in him, as well as those that do; and further to clear this sence of the place, it is said, Ps. 40. 17. The Lord thinketh on them. Importing not only simple cogitation, but the [Page 238] immoration or abiding of his thoughts upon them, as our thoughts are wont to do, upon that which we highly esteem, especially when any danger is near it. And yet farther to clear this sense, it is said, Iob 36. 7. He withdraweth not his Eye from the righteous. As when Moses was exposed in the Ark of Bulrushes, where his Life was in eminent hazards by the waters of Nilus upon one side, and the Egyp­an Cut-Throats on the other; his Sister Miriam kept watch at a distance, to see what would be done to him. Her eye was never off that Ark wherein her dear Brother lay; fear and care engaged her eye to keep a true watch for him. Thus the Lord withdraweth not his eye from the righteous. To the same purpose is that expression, Deut. 33. 3. Yoa he loved the People; all his Saints are in thy hand. That which we dearly love and prize above ordina­ry, we keep in our own hands for its security, as not thinking it safe enough in any other hand or place. And once more, Isa. 49. 16. God is said to engrave them upon the Palms of his Hands, alluding to what is customary among men, who when they would charge their memories with something of spe­cial concernment, use to change a Ring, or bind a Thred about the Finger, to put them in mind of it. Thus is the care of our God expressed to us in Scripture notions. The amount of all which, is gi­ven us in that one proper and full expression of the Apostle, 1 Pet. 5. 7. He careth for you. To open this Chamber of Divine care as a place of sweetest rest, to our anxious and perplexed minds, in times of difficulty and hazard, it will be necessary that you seriously ponder;

Of the care of God.
  • [Page 239]1. The Grounds and Reasons
  • 2. The Extent and Compass
  • 3. The Lovely Properties

1. The grounds and reasons of Gods care for his people; which are,

1. The strict and dear Relations in which he is pleased to own them. Believers are his children, and you know how naturally children engage and draw forth the Fathers care for them. This is the argument Christ uses, Matth. 6. 31, 32. There­fore take no thought, saying what shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or wherewithal shall we be cloathed? For your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. Children, especial­ly when young, disquiet not themselves about pro­vions for back or belly, but leave that to the care of their Parents, from whom by the tye and Bonds of Nature and Love, they expect provision for all those wants: Every one takes care for his own; much more doth God for his own Children, and indeed he expects his children should live upon his care; as our children in their minority, do upon ours.

2. Gods precious estimation and value of them, engages his constant care for them. Believers are his Jewels, Mal. 3. 17. his peculiar people, 1 Pet. 2. 6. his special portion or treasure in this world, Deut. 32. 9. and as such he prizes and esteems them above all the people of the earth, and accor­dingly exerciseth his special care in all the dangers they are here exposed to. Special love engageth peculiar care.

3. The dangers and fears of the people of God, [Page 240] in this world, are many and great, and were it not for the Lords assiduous and tender care over them, they must necessarily be ruined, both in soul and body, by them. The Church is God's Vineyard, its Enemies as so many wild Boars to root it up: Upon this account, he saith, Isa. 27. 3. I the Lord do keep it, lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day. And indeed it is well for Israel, that he that keepeth it, never slumbereth nor sleepeth, Psal. 121. 4. that our houses are in peace, that we and our dear relations fall not as a prey, into cruel and bloody hands, skilful to destroy, that we find any rest, or comfort in so evil and dangerous a world, it is wholly and only to be ascribed to the care of God over us, and ours.

4. Jesus Christ hath solemnly recommended all the people of God, to his particular care. It was one of the last expressions of Christ love to them at the parting hour, Io [...]. 17. 11. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world; and I come to thee: Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, q. d. While I have been personally present with them, I took the same care of them; as a Shepheard doth of his Flock, or a tender Father of his Children: But now I must leave them in the world, and in the midst of a world of dangers, fears and troubles, against which they can make no provision or de­fence themselves. Father remember them, look af­ter them, when I shall be removed from them, they are thine, as well as mine; and I recommend them with my last breath to thy care and protection. This is a special ground also of Gods care for them.

5. Believers dayly cast themselves upon the care [Page 241] of God, and resign themselves unto it in their dayly Prayers. And by their often renewed acts of Faith, than which no act is found more engaging from the creature upon its God; though there be nothing of merit, yet there is much of engaging efficacy in it, Isa. 26. 3. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. We find it so among our selves, the more firmly and entirely any one trusteth to us, and de­pendeth upon us, the more he engageth us to pro­tect or relieve him. Now this is the dayly work of Christians to trust God over all, and put all their concernments into his hand, which very trust and dependance draws forth the care of God for them.

6. In a word, the many promises God hath made to his people to preserve, support and supply them in all the times of need, engageth the c [...]re of God for them, as often as such wants, or dangers befal them; for indeed herein, he at once takes care for their necessity, and for his own honour and glory. They trust to his word, and rely upon his promises which therefore he will be careful to make good. This was the argument, which the Church pleaded in the time of eminent danger, to engage the care of God for them, Psal. 74. 20. Havs respect unto the Covenant: for the dark places of the Earth are full of the habitations of cruelty. q. d. O Lord, thy people are in the midst of cruel enemies, take care for their protection, and though there be no worth in them, to which thou shouldest have respect, yet have respect unto thine own Covenant: let the glory of thy Name draw forth thy care to thy Peo­ple.

SECT. II.

WE have seen the grounds and reasons of Gods care over his people, let us next view the extent and compass of this Divine care; and here methinks the Lord saith to his people as he said to Abraham, Gen. 13. 14, 15. Lift up now thine eyes from the place where thou art, northward, and south­ward, and eastward, and westward, for all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. So here, poor timorous, dejected Believer, lift up thine eyes from the place where thou art, and take a view of all the promises in the Scriptures of truth; promises of supports under all burthens, supplies of all wants, deliverances out of all dangers, assistances in all distresses; to thee have I given them all as a portion for ever. This care of God walks the round, and encom­passeth the Souls and Bodies of them that fear him, day and night. There is no interest or concern of either found without the line of his all-surrounding Care, and every one of his children are enfolded in his Fa­therly arms, Deut. 33. 3. All his Saints are in thy hand. All and every one of their wants and streights are observed by this Care, in order to their supply, Phil. 4. 19. My God shall supply all your wants.

1. Great is the Care of God over the Bodies of his people, and all the dangers and necessities of them as they daily grow; your meat and drink are daily provided for you by your Fathers Care. Psal. 111. 5. He hath given meat unto them that fear him; he will ever be mindful of his Covenant. It is from this Care of thy Heavenly Father, that necessary pro­visions [Page 243] have been made for thee, of which it may be thou hast had no foresight: This is the God that hath fed thee all thy life long, Gen. 48. 15. It is from the same care thy body hath been cloathed, Matth. 6. 28. How much more shall he cloath you, O ye of little faith? It is through this Care, you sleep in peace, and your rest is made sweet unto you, Prov. 3. 24. When thou lyest down thou shalt not be afraid; yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet. In a word, thou owest all thy recoveries from dangerous diseases, and narrow escapes from the grave, to this Care of thy God over thee, He is the Lord that heal­ [...]th thee, Exod. 15. 26. That the incensed humours of thy body had not overflowed their banks, like an inundation of the Sea, when they raged in thy dangerous diseases, is only because thy God took the care of thee, and set them their bounds.

2. Divine Care extends it self to the Souls of all that fear God, and to all the concernments of their Souls; and manifestly discovers it self in all the gra­cious provisions it hath made for them. More particularly, it is from this tender Fatherly care that,

1. A Saviour was provided to redeem them when they were ruined and lost by sin, Ioh. 3. 16. Rom. 8. 32.

2. That Spiritual cordials are provided to refresh them in all their sinking sorrows, and inward distres­ses, Psal. 94. 19.

3. That a door of deliverance is opened to them, when they are sorely pressed upon by temptations, and ready to be overwhelmed, 1 Cor. 10. 13.

4. That a strength above their own comes in sea­sonably to support them, when they are almost overweighed with inward troubles, when great [Page 244] weights are upon them, the everlasting arms are un­derneath them, Psal. 138. 3. Isa. 57. 16.

5. That their ruine is prevented when they are upon the dangerous and flippery brink of temptati­ons, and their feet almost gone, Psal. 73. 12. Hos. 2. 6. 2 Cor. 12. 7.

6. That they are recovered again after dangerous falls by sin, and not left as a prey and Trophy to their enemy, Hos. 144.

7. That they are guided and directed in the right way, when they are at a loss, and know not what course to take, Psal. 16. 11. Psal. 73. 24.

8. That they are established and confirmed in Christ in the most shaking and overturning times of trouble and persecution; so that neither their heart t [...]neth back, nor their steps decline from his ways, Ier. 32. 40. Ioh. 4. 14.

9. That they are upheld under Spiritual deserti­ons, and recovered again out of that dismal darkness into the chearful light of Gods countenance, Isa. 57. 16.

10. That they are at last brought safe to Heaven through the innumerable hazards and dangers all a­long their way thither, Heb. 11. 16. In all these things the care of their God eminently discovers it self for their Souls.

3. Once more let us consider the Care of God for his people in the lovely properties thereof. As,

1. It is a Fatherly care, than which none is more great or tender, Matth. 6. 8. Your father knoweth that you have need of all these things. And indeed the greatest and tenderest care of an earthly Father is but a f [...]int shadow of that tender care which is in the heart of God over his Children; for to that end we [Page 245] find them compared, Matth. 7. 11. If ye then, be­ing evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your father which is in heaven, give good things to them which ask him. The care of Patents is carelesness it [...]elf, compared with that care which God takes of his.

2. The care of God is a universal care, watching over all his people in all ages, places and dangers, 2 Chron. 16. 9. The eyes of the Lord run to and fro through the whole earth, to shew himself strong in behalf of them whose heart is perfect towards him. This was applyed by way of reproof to Asa, who out of a sinful distrust of the care of God, relyed up­on the help of Syria, as if there had not been a God in Heaven to take care of him and the people.

3. Gods care over his, is assiduous and continual; his mercies are new every morning, great is his faith­fulness, Lam. 3. 22, 23. He keeps his people night and day, Isa. 27. 3. Could Satan, or his instruments find such an hour wherein the seven eyes of Provi­dence should be all asleep, that would be the fatal hour to our Souls and Bodies; but he that keepeth Israel slumbereth not.

4. Gods care over his, is exceeding tender, far beyond the tenderness that the most affectionate mo­ther ever felt in her heart towards the child that hang­ed on her breast, Isa. 49. 15. Can a mother forget her sucking child, &c. they may, yet will not I forget thee. The birds of the air are not so tender of their young in the nest, as God is of his people in the world, Isa. 31. 5. Mercy fills the heart of God, yea, tender mercy, yea, multitudes of tender mercies, Psal. 51. 1.

[Page 246] 5. The care of God is a seasonable care, which is always sure to nick the opportunity and proper season of relieving his people; in the mount of the Lord it shall be seen: The beauty of Providence is much seen in this thing, wherever you feel a want, this care finds a supply; and thus much briefly▪ of the care of God absolutely considered in it self.

SECT. III.

IT remains that we also consider the care of God in its twofold respect, viz.

  • 1. To his Promises.
  • 2. To his Providences.

1. There are multitudes of Promises found in the Scriptures, exactly fitted as so many keys to open the door of this comfortable Chamber to receive, and secure all that fear God, whatever their wants, fears, or distresses are. These are reducible into two Classes, or ranks. viz.

  • 1. More general and comprehensive.
  • 2. More particular Promises.

The general and more comprehensive Promises are found in the general expressures of the Covenant, as that to Abraham, Gen. 17. 1. I am God Almighty, walk thou before me and be perfect. q. d. Let it be thy care to walk exactly in the paths of obedience before me, and I will take care to supply all thy wants from the never failing fountain of my al-suffi­ciency; and of the same tenour is that, 2 Cor. 6. 18. [Page 247] I will be to them a Father, and they shall be my sons and daughters, i. e. Expect your provisions and protections from my care, as children do from their father. More particularly, there are six sorts of Promises, wherein the care of God is particularly made over to his people in the greatest hazards and difficulties in this life. viz.

1. It is assigned and made over to them to supply all their needs, so far as the Glory of God and advance­ment of their Spiritual and eternal good shall require it, Ps. 34. 9. They that fear the Lord shall not want any good thing. All your livelihood is in that Promise; thence comes your daily bread; your own and your families meat is in that cupboard.

2. It is made over to the Church and people of God for their defence against all dangers, Isa. 54. 17. No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper. This promise wards off all the deadly blows, and puts by all the mortal thrusts that are made at you; here the care of God forms it self into a shield for your defence.

3. The care of God is engaged by promise for the moderation and mitigation of your afflictions, that they may not exceed your abilities to bear them, Isa. 27. 8, 9. in measure when it shooteth forth, thou wilt debate with it; he stayeth the rough wind in the day of the east-wind. If the wind blow from a cold corner, this Promise moderates it, that it blow not a storm; all the sparing mercies and sweetning cir­cumstances, which gracious Souls thankfully note in the sharpest trials come from this promise, wherein the care of God is ingaged for that purpose.

4. Divine care is put under the bond of a promise, for the direction and guidance of all their troubles and trials to an happy issue, Rom. 8. 28. All things [Page 248] shall work together for good. From what quarter so­ever the wind bloweth, God will take care that it shall be useful to drive you to your Port; the very Providences that cast you down, by vertue of this promise prove as serviceable and beneficial as those that lift you up.

5. The care of God stands engaged in the promise for the help and aid of his people in all the extremi­ties and exigencies of their lives, Psal. 46. 1. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Never is the care of God more visible and conspicuous, than in such times of need.

6. Lastly, the care of God is ingaged to carry his people safe through all the dangers of the way, and bring them all home to glory at last, Ioh. 10. 28. I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. This care of God thus engaged for you is your convoy to acompany and secure you till it see you safe into your harbour of eternal rest.

2. You have heard how the [...]are of God is enga­ged for you by promise; now see how it actuates, and exerts it self for the people of God in the various me­thods of Providence; and here, oh here is the sweet­est pleasure of the Christians life, a d [...]l [...]ght far tran­scending all the delights of this life. Sit down Chri­stian in this Chamber also, and make but such ob­servations upon the care of thy God as follow, and then tell me whether the world with all its plea­sures and delights can give thee such an other enter­tainment.

1. Reflect upon the constant, sweet, and suitable provisions that from time to time have been prepared for thee and thine, by this care of thy God; From whence soever thy wants did come, I am sure from [Page 249] hence came thy supplies, it hath enabled thee to re­turn the same answer the disciples did to that questi­on, Luke 22. 35. Lacked ye any thing, and they said nothing.

2. Reflect with admiration upon the various diffi­culties of your lives, wherein your thoughts have been entangled, and out of which you have been ex­tricated and delivered by the care of God over you: How oft have your thoughts been like a ravelled skeyn of silk, so entangled and perplexed with the diffi­culties and fears before you, that you could find no end, but the longer you thought, the more you were puzled, till you have left thinking, and fell to pray­ing; and there you have found the right end to wind up all your thoughts upon the bottom of peace and sweet contentment, according to that direction, Psal. 37. 5. Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in him, and he shall bring it to pass.

3. Observe with a melting heart how the care of thy God hath disposed and directed thy way to un­foreseen advantages; had he not ordered thy steps when, and as he did, thou hadst not been in possession of those Temporal and Spiritual mercies that sweeten thy life at this day. Surely the steps of good men are or­dered by the Lord; and as for thee Christian, what reason hast thou with an heart overflowing with love and thankfulness to look up and say, My father thou art the guide of my youth? It is sweet to live by faith upon Divine care. Oh what a Serene life might we live, careful for nothing, but making known our request unto God in every thing, Phil. 4. 6. casting all our care on him that careth for us, 1 Pet. 5. 7. perplexing our thoughts about nothing, but rolling every burthen upon godly Faith. Thus lived holy Musculus when reduced to extreme poverty, and [Page 250] danger at the same time; then it was that he solaced his Soul with that comfortable Distich, a good lesson for others,

Est Deus in coelis, qui providus omnia curat,
Credentes nusquam deseruisse potest.

The Provident care of his heavenly father, made his heart as quiet as the child at the breast Christian, thou knowest not what distressful days are coming upon the earth, nor what personal trials shall befal thee in this world; but I advise thee as thou valuest the tranquility and comfort of thy life: Shut up thy self by Faith in this Chamber of Divine Care, it is thy best security in this world: Reflect frequently and thankfully upon the manifold supports, supplies, and salvations thou hast already had from this fountain of mercies, and be not discouraged at new difficulties. When an eminent Christian was told of some that way-laid him to destroy him; his answer was, Si Deus mei curam non habet, quid vivo? In like manner thou mayest say, if God had not taken care for thee, how couldst thou have lived till now? How couldest thou have overlived so many troubles, fears, and dangers as thou hast done?

CHAP. XI.

Opening the sixth and last Chamber, viz. The Love of God, as a resting place to believ­ing Souls in evil times.

SECT. I.

THough all the Attributes in the name or Cham­bers of this house of God are glorious, and ex­cellent; yet this of love is transcendently glorious: Of this room it may be said as it was of Solomon's royal Chariot, Cant. 3. 10. The midst thereof is paved with love. In this Attribute the glory of God is signally and eminently manifested, 1 Iohn 4. 9, 10. And up­on this foundation the hopes and comforts of all Be­lievers are built and founded, Rom. 8. 35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribu­lation, or distress, [...] persecution, or famine, or naked­ness, or peril, or sword? He defies and despises them all, because neither of them alone, nor all together by their united strength, can unclasp the arms of Divine Love, in which Believers are [...]afely enfolded. In this Attribute Gods people by Faith entrench themselves, and of it a Believer saith, Hic murus a [...]enus esto, this shall be my strong hold and fortress in the day of trouble, and well may we so esteem and reckon it, if we consider,

1. That wherever the special love of God goes, there the special presence of God goes also, Iohn 14. 23. He shall be loved of my father, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. And O [Page 252] how secure and safe must those be (however times govern) with whom God himself maketh his abode! For as the Psalmist speaks, Psal. 91. 1. He that dwells in the secret place of the most high, shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. And he that is over­shadowed by an Almighty power, needs not fear how many mighty enemies combine against him.

2. Wherever the special love of God is placed, that person becomes precious and highly valuable in the eyes of God; he appretiates and estimates such a man as his peculiar treasure, which naturally and ne­cessarily draws and spreads the wing of Divine care over him for his protection, Deuteron. 33. 12. The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him, and the Lord shall cover him all the day long. Things of greatest value are always kept in safest cu­stody.

3. Upon whosoever the special love of God is se [...], there all events and issues of troubles are sure to be over ruled to the eternal advantage of that Soul, Rom. 8. 28. Which consideration alone is sufficient to unsting all the troubles in the world, and make the beloved of the Lord shout and triumph in the midst of tribulations.

But let us enter yet further into this glorious Chamber of Divine love, and more particularly view the admirable properties thereof, though when all is done, it will be found a love passing know­ledge; our thoughts may admire, but can never measure it.

1. And first you will find it an ancient love, whose spring is in eternity it self. Believer, God is thine ancient friend, who foresaw and loved thee, before thou, yea, before this world was in being; the fruits and effects thereof thou gatherest in time, but the root [Page 253] that produces them was before all times, Prov. 8. 22, 23. The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was. Thus was the love of God contriving, and providing the best of mercies in Christ for us; while as yet there were no such creatures in the world, nor a world pre­pared to receive us.

2 The love of God to his people is a free, and altogether undeserved love; it must needs be so see­ing it prevented our very being, which had it not done, yet no motives had been found in us, to allure it to us more than others, Deut. 7. 7. The Lord did not set his love upon you, nor chuse you, because ye were more in number than any people, (for ye were the fewest of all people) but because the Lord loved you. So that we cannot find one stone of our own merit in the foundation of this love; for those whom it em­braceth in its arms are, Immerentes, & malè meren­tes, ill deserving as well as undeserving, we were lo­ved of God, before we were lovely in our selves; it is freely pitched upon us, not purchased by us, Isa. 43. 24.

3. The love of God to Believers is a bountiful love, streaming forth continually mercies both in­numerable and invaluable to their Souls and Bodies, 2 Pet. 1. 3. Christian, it would quickly weary thine arm, yea, let me say the arm of an Angel; but to write down the thousandth part of the mercies which have already flowed out of this precious fountain to thee; though all thou hast received, or shalt receive in this world, are but the beginnings of mercy, and first-fruits of the love of God to thee; 'tis the love of God which daily loads thee with benefits, as the ex­pression is, Psal. 68. 19. And if thou art daily loaded [Page 254] with mercies, what an heap of mercies will the mercies of thy whole life be.

4. The love of God to believers is a distinguishing love, not the portion of all, no, nor yet of many be­sides thee, 1 Cor. 1. 26. The generality of the world dwell in the Room of common Providence, not in the Chamber of special love into which God hath ad­mitted thee; this consideration should make thee break out in admiration, as it is, Iohn 14. 22. Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thy self to me, and not to the world.

5. The love of God to believers, is a love tran­scendent to all creature love, it moves in an higher Sphere than the love of any creature doth, Rom. 5. 6, 7, 8. We read of Iacob's love to Rachel, which is so celebrated in the Sacred story for the fervour of it, and yet all that it enabled him to suffer was but the Summers heat and the Winters cold; a trifle to what the love of Christ engaged, and enabled him to suffer for thy sake. We read also of the love of David to Absalom which made him wish, would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son. This love was only manifested in a wish, which haply might have been retracted too, had there been an exchange to be made indeed; but the life of Christ, wort [...] millions of his life, was actually and willingly staked down for thy Soul. We read of the love of one Disciple manifested to another Disciple in a cup of cold water; but Christ hath manifested his love to thee in pouring out his warmest heart bloud for thy redemption. Oh what a transcendent love is the Di­vine love!

6. To conclude, (though alas little is said of the love of God,) it is an everlasting and unchangeable love. Hills and moutains shall sooner start from their [Page 255] Bases, than his loving kindness depart from his peo­ple, Isa. 54. 10. Though he afflict us, still he loves us, Psal 89. 32, 33. Nay, though we grieve him, yet still he loves us, Mark 16. 7. Tell the Disciples, and tell Peter. Peter had grieved Christ, denied Christ, yet will he not renounce nor cast off Peter.

SECT. II.

WEll then, if God have opened to your Souls such a Chamber of love, where your Souls may be ravished with daily delights, as well as secu­red from danger and ruine: O that you would enter into it by Faith, and dwell for ever in the love of God! I mean, clear up your interest in it, and then solace your Souls in the delights of it. Need I to use an Argument, or spend one Motive to press you to enter into such an Heaven upon Earth? If the dead­ness of thy heart doth need it, take into consideration, Reader, these few that follow.

1. Motive. Ponder with thy self how sad and mi­serable the case will be with thee in the days of cala­mity and distress, if the love of God shall then be clouded to thy Soul; in those days such as love thee will either be absent from thee, or impotent to help thee, all thy friends and familiars may be removed far off, and whither then wilt thou turn should God be far off too? This was that evil which Ieremiah so vehemently deprecated, Chap. 17. v. 17. Be not a terrour unto me, thou art my hope in the day of evil. q. d. O Lord my Soul depends upon refreshment, and comfort from thee, when all the springs of earthly comfort are dried up. Shouldest thou be a te [...]rour to me in the day of evil, it will be the most terrible [Page 256] disappointment that ever befel my Soul; if thou be kind, I care not who be cruel if I have the love of God, I value not the hatred of men; but if God be a terrour, who or what can be a comforter? The love of God is the alone refuge to which the gracious Soul retreats upon all creature disappointments, and fail­ings. This therefore is the main thing to be feared a­gainst the evil day.

2. Mot. The knowledge and assurance of the love of God is a mercy attainable by a gracious Soul, not­withstanding the imperfections of Grace. Peter had his falls and failings as well as other Christians, yet when Christ puts the question home to him, Ioh. 21. 15. Simon son of Jonas lovest thou me more than these, he was able to return a clear positive answer; Yea, Lord thou knowest that I love thee. Study thy heart Christian, and study the Scriptures; if thou canst find the sincere love of God in thy heart, that Scripture will clear the love of God to thy Soul, 1 Iohn 4. 19. We love him because he first loved us. If thou lay thine hand upon a stone wall, and feel it warm, thou mayest conclude the Sun beams have shone upon it; for warmth is not naturally in dead stones. Our love to God is but the reflex beam of his love to us, and we know there can be no reflex without a direct beam. Thousands of Christians do at this day actually possess the ravishing sense of Di­vine love, whose fears and complaints have been the same that thine now are; that God who indulged this favour to them, can do as much for thee.

3. Mot. Think how well thou wilt be provided for the worst and difficultest times, when the love of of God shall be well secured to thy Soul; when the love of God, i. e. the sense of his love is once shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Ghost, which for [Page 257] that end, among others, is given unto us, we shall then be able to glory in tribulation, Rom. 5. 3, 5. We may then bid defiance to all the adverse powers of hell, and earth, and say, Now do your worst: we are out of your reach, and above all your terrors and affrights. Be advised then to sit close to this work: clear but this point once, and the worst is past. O lye at the feet of God night and day, give him no rest, take no denial from him, fill thy mouth with pleas and arguments; tell him, Lord, it is nei­ther for Corn nor Wine that I seek thee, but only for thy love; bestow thy other gifts upon whom thou wilt, only seal up thy love to my soul.

And Lastly, I advise thee, Reader, to be exceed­ing careful, when God admits thee into the sense of his love, to shut the door behind thee, lest thy soul be soon expelled thence, by the subtlety of Satan, who envies nothing more, than such an happiness as this: that envious Spirit totally despairs of the least drop of such a mercy, and therefore swells with envy at thine enjoyment of it; but if ever thou fasten thy hand of faith upon this mercy, loose not thy hold by every objection with which he will rap thy fin­gers.

1. If he object the many sharp afflictions, and manifold rods of God upon thee, call not the Love of God in question for that; but remember what [...]he saith, Heb. 12. 6. Whom the Lord loveth, he cha­steneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. Fatherly Corrections are so far from being incon­sistent with the love of God, that his love is rather questionable without them, than for them; they are love tokens, not marks of hatred.

2. Yield not up thy claim and title to the love of God, because he sometimes hides away his face [Page 258] from thee; thou knowest the sun is up, and going on in its regular course, in the darkest and closest day. My God, my God, saith Christ himself, Why hast thou forsaken me? believe he is still thy God, and his love immutable, when the sense and manifesta­tions thereof do fail.

3. Call not the Love of God into question, be­cause of thy great vileness and unworthiness; say not when thou most loathest thy self, God must needs loath thee too; he can love where thou loathest. Return, return, O Shulamite, return, return, that we may look upon thee: what will ye see in the Shu­lamite? as it were the company of two armies. The Spouse was exceeding beautiful in the eyes of others, when most base and vile in her own: What would you see in the Shulamite? alas, there is nothing in me, at the best, but Conflicts, and Wars, betwixt Grace and Corruption, as it were betwixt two Ar­mies, Cant. 6. 13.

4. Quit not thy claim to the Love of God, because he seems to shut out thy Prayers, and delays to an­swer the long continued desires and importunities of thy soul in some cases. David would neither cen­sure his God, no nor call in question his interest in him, because of such a delay and silence, Psal. 22. 1, 2. My God, my God. The claim is doubled, ver. 1. and yet in the next breath he saith, I cry in the day time, but thou hearest not, and in the night season, and am not silent.

Thus I have offered you some advice and assistance, how to secure your selves in these Divine Attributes, viz. The Power, Wisdom, Faithfulness, Unchan­geableness, Care, and Love of God, as in so many Sanctuaries, and comfortable Refuges in the days of Common Calamity. It is noted even of the [Page 259] Egyptians, when the storm of Hail was coming upon the Land, Exod. 9. 20. He that feared the Word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh, made his servants and his cattle flee into the houses. Let not an Egyptian take more care of his Beasts, than Christi­ans of their Souls. Stormy days are coming, God hath provided you a Refuge, and given you season­able Praemonitions, and Calls from Heaven, to ha­sten into them, before Desolations come. The Lord help us to hear his Calls, and comply with them, which will be as much our Priviledge, as it is our Duty. And so much of the Fifth Proposition, viz. That God's Attributes, Promises, and Providences, are prepared for the security of his people in the greatest distresses that befal them in the world.

PROPOSITION VI.

That none but God's own People are taken into these Chambers of Security, or can expect his special Protection in Evil Times.

SECT. I.

THis Proposition describes and clears the qualified subject of this Priviledge. God's own People, and none but such can warrantably claim special protection in evil times, and this is consonant to the current account of Scripture, Isa. 3. 10, 11. Say ye unto the righteous, it shall be well with him. Wo to the wicked, it shall be ill with him. He speaks con­cerning [Page 260] the day of Ierusalem's ruin, and Iudah's fall, as appears, ver. 8. So great a difference will God make even in this world, betwixt the righteous, and the wicked. In Nah. 1. you have also a terrible day described, wherein Bashan, Carmel, and Lebanon, the most pleasant and fruitful places of the land shall languish. ver. 4. The mountains shall quake, the hills melt, the earth, and those that dwell therein burnt up. ver. 5. The indignation and fury of God poured out like fire. v. 6. The priviledged people in this terrible day are God's own people, they only are taken into security. ver. 7. The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble, and he knoweth them that trust in him, i. e. he so knoweth them, as to care and provide for them in that evil day, and so through­out the whole Scripture, you shall find the Promises of protection still made to the people of God. When the Chaldean Army, like a devouring fire, was ready to seize upon the Land, the sinners in Sion were afraid, fearfulness surprised the hypocrites, for who among us (say they) shall dwell with devouring fire, and everlasting burning. Yes, saith God, some there are that shall abide that day, viz. He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly; he shall dwell on high, his place of defence shall be the munition of rocks. i. e. God will be a sanctuary to them, when others shall be as stubble before the flames, Isa. 33. 14, 15, 16.

But for the right stating of this Proposition, three things must be heedfully adverted.

1. That all good men are not always exempted from the stroke of outward Calamities; in that sense the righteous may perish, and merciful men be taken away, yea, they may perish in love, and be taken away in mercy from the evil to come, Isa. 57. 1. 2. Mica. 7. 1, 2.

[Page 261] 2. That all wicked men are not all always exposed to external miseries, but a just man may perish in his righteousness, and a wicked man prolong his life in his wickedness, Eccles. 7. 15.

3. But in this sense, we are to understand the Proposition, That none, but the people of God, have right, by promise, to his special protections in evil days, and that all such shall either be preserved from the stroke of calamities, or from the deadly sting, namely Eternal Ruin, by them; though they should fall by the hands of enemies, yet they die, as Iosiah did, in peace, 2 King. 22. 19, 20. If they be taken away, it is but out of the way of greater mischiefs; death doth but lay the Saints in their beds of rest, when it hurries away others into everlasting miseries: if they be not excused from troubles, yet their trou­bles are sure to be sanctified to their eternal good, Rom. 8. 28. And the Lord will be with them in their troubles, Psal. 91. 15. Isa. 41. 10.

Two things remain to be considered, before we finish this last Proposition: viz.

  • 1. Who the People of God are?
  • 2. Why this Priviledge is peculiar to them?

1. Who are the People of God? The Scripture describes them two ways; Negatively, and Positive­ly; Negatively, in opposition to those who are not the people of God, but are (1.) the servants of sin, obeying it in the lust of it, which the people of God neither are, nor dare to do, Rom. 6. 11, 12. &c. (2.) The men of this world, who have the portion in this life, savouring, and minding the things of the world only, whereas the people of God are called out of the world, Ioh. 17. 16. and principally [Page 262] study, and labour after the higher concernments of the world to come, Rom. 8. 5. (3.) The vassals of Satan doing his lust, and in subjection to his power, Acts 26. 18. Ephes. 2. 2. from which bondage the people of God are made free. (4.) Nor yet are they their own, living wholly to themselves, and seeking only their own ends, as others do, 1 Cor. 6. 19, 20. These, all these are not the people of God▪ God will not own them for such; they but deceive themselves in thinking, and calling themselves so: but then Positively. They are (1.) a people regene­rated, and born again, Ioh. 1. 13. Their regenera­tion gives them both the essence and denomination of the people of God: it is as impossible to be the children of God, without regeneration, as it is to be the children of men without generation. (2.) They are a people in covenant with God, Ezek. 16. 8. I entered into a covenant with thee, and thou becamest mine. For in this Covenant they give themselves to the Lord, 2 Cor. 8. 5. They avouch the Lord to be their God, and make over themselves to him to be his people, Ier. 31. 33. devoting unto God all that they are, their souls, and bodies, with every faculty and member inclusively, Rom. 12. 1. Luk. 10. 27. All that they have, Rom. 11. 36. all is dedicated, and devoted to the Lords use and service, and these only are the people of God.

2. The last thing to be cleared is, Why the people of God, and none beside them, have this peculiar pri­viledge of an hiding place in the day of trouble; and the grounds of it are:

1. Because they only have special interest in God, and propriety is the ground on which they claim and expect protection, I am thine, save me, Ps. 119. 94 Upon this very ground it was, that David encou­raged [Page 263] himself in one of his greatest plunges, and di­stresses of his whole life, 1 Sam. 30. 6. But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.

2. The people of God only are at peace with God; and where there is no peace, there can be no protection: the Harbours and Garrisons of one King­dom never receive into their Protection, the Sub­jects of another Kingdom, that are in open Hostility against them. Now there is open War betwixt God, and the wicked, Psal. 7. 11. Zech. 11. 8. Till they have peace with God, they can claim no protection from God.

3. The promises of protection are made only to Gods people, and where there is no promise, there can be no warrantably claim to protection, 2 Cor. 1. 20. 2 Pet. 1. 4. Common providence may shelter them for a time, but the Saints only have the keys of the promises which open the Chambers, or Attributes of God, to them.

4. None but the people of God walk in the ways of God, and none but those that walk in his way can groundedly expect his protection; for so runs the promise, 2 Chron. 15. 2. I am with you, whilest you are with me. i. e. I am with you, by way of Pro­tection, Direction, Supportation, and Salvation: whilest you are with me in the duties of Obedience, and exercises of your Graces, see that you love, fear, and obey me; and then depend upon it, I will look after, and take care of you.

5. To conclude, The people of God only flee to God for sanctuary, and cast themselves upon him for protection, Psal. 56. 3. At what time I am afraid, I will trust in thee, Psal. 18. 2. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust, my buckler, and the [Page 264] horn of my salvation, and my high-tower. This their confidence in God, and reliance upon him, en­gages him to protect them in their dangers, Isa. 26. 3. All others put themselves out of God protection, by making flesh their arm, and so giving the honour of God to the creature, Ier. 17. 5. And thus much for clearing this last Proposition also. All that remains, will be dispatched in brief and close Application of the Point thus opened and confirmed.

CHAP. XII.

Containing the first Vse of the Point, in several informing Consectaries, and Deductions of truth from it.

SECT. I.

Consect. 1. FRom the whole of this Discourse, we may be informed, What a miserable, and shiftless People all those will be, in times of trouble, who have no special interest in God or the Promises. Sad and lamentable was the case of Saul, as it is by himself expressed, 1 Sam. 28. 15. I am sore distressed, for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more. It is a wonderful, and unaccountable thing, how carnal men and women subsist, and bear up, when their earthly props, and hopes, sink under, and fail them; so long as any creature-comfort is left, thither they [Page 265] will retreat, for relief, and succour; but if all fail, as quickly they may, Whither will they turn for com­fort, having not a God, nor a Promise to flee to? which the people of God can do, when all things else fail them, Heb. 3. 17. Their different conditions in the day of trouble, is clearly expressed in Zeph. 2. 3, 4. Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment, seek righteousness, seek meekness, it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lords anger. There is Gods may be, which is better security than mans shall be, for their temporal deliverance; But what shall become of others, that have no refuge, but in the creature? Why, the mi­sery and shiftlessness of their condition, follows in the next words; Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation, they shall drive out Ashdod at noon-day, and Ekron shall be rooted up. i. e. All their earthly se­curities shall fail them; their strong hold shall not secure them, they shall find no shelter in the scorch­ing heat of the day of trouble. Moab, Ashdod, and Ekron, have no more benefit, by the Promises made to Sion, than the Inhabitants of Rome, can claim by the Charter of London. If a wicked or hypocritical person cry to God in his distress, he will not hear him, Prov. 1. 25, 26. Iob 27. 9. but will bid him go to his earthly refuges, which he hath chosen; if he go to the promises, knock at those doors of hope, they cannot relieve him, being all made in Christ to be­lievers; if to the Name and Attributes of God, all the dores are shut against them, Psal. 34. 16. There are Seven dreadful Aggravations of a wicked man's troubles; (1) When troubles come upon him, the Curse of God follows him into his carnal refuges, Ier. 17. 5. Cursed be the man, that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth [Page 266] from the Lord. Trouble is the Arrow, and this curse the venom of the Arrow, which makes the Wound incurable.

2. When troubles fall upon him from without, a guilty conscience will terrifie him from within. So that the mind can give no relief to the body; but both sink under their own weights; it is not so with the people of God, they have inward relief un­der outward pressures, 2 Cor. 4. 16.

3. The gusts and storms of wicked mens troubles may blow them into Hell, and hurry them into eter­nal destruction: if Death march towards them up­on the pale Horse, hell always follows him, Rev. 6. 8.

4. If troubles and distresses overwhelm their hearts, they can give them no vent or ease by prayer, faith and resignation to God, as his People use to do, 1 Sam. 1. 18.

5. When their troubles and distresses come, then comes the hour, and power of their temptation, and to shun sorrow they will fall into sin, having no pro­mise to be kept in the hour of temptation, as the Saints have, Rev. 3. 10.

6. When their troubles come they will be left alone in the midst of them; these are their burthens, and they alone must bear them. Gods gracious, comfortable supporting presence, is only with his own people,

7. If trouble or death come upon them as a storm, they have no Anchor of Hope to drop in the Storm, The wicked is driven away in his wickedness: but the righteous hath hope in his death, Prov. 14. 32. by all which it appears that a Christless person is a most helpless, and shiftless creature in the day of trouble.

[Page 267] 2. Consect. Secondly, Hence it follows, That Christians ought not to droop like other men in the day of trouble. A Wicked mans boldness, and a Christians cowardliness in times of affliction, are a­like ungrounded and uncomly; Why should thy heart Christian despond and sink at this rate, upon the prospect of approaching troubles? Are there not safe and comfortable Chambers taken up, and pro­vided for thee against that day? Is not the name of the Lord a strong Tower into which thou mayest run and be safe? The heart of a good man, saith Chrysostome, should at all times be like the higher Heavens, serene, tranquil and clear, whatever Thun­ders and Lightnings, Storms and Tempests, trouble and terrifie the lower World. If a man have a good Roof over his head, where he can sit dry and warm, what need he trouble himself, to hear the Winds roar, the Lightnings flash, and the Rains pour down without doors? Why, this is thy priviledge, Christian, A man (to wit, the man Christ Jesus) shall be as an hiding place from the wind, and a co­vert from the tempest: as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land, Isa. 32. 2. Art thou in Christ and in the Covenant, give me then one good reason for thy dejections in a day of trouble, or if thou hast none to give, hear­ken to these Reasons against it.

1. If thou be in Christ, thy Sins are forgiven thee, and why should not a pardoned Soul he a chearful Soul in adversity? Afflictions may buz and hum about thee, like Bees that have lost their Sting, but they can never hurt thee.

2. If thou be in Christ, thy God is with thee in all thy troubles, and how can thy heart sink or faint [Page 268] in such a presence? Let them that are alone in trou­bles fail under them, but don't thou do so, that art surrounded with Almighty Power, Grace and Love, Isa. 43. 1, 2.

3. If thou be in Christ, thy greatest afflictions shall prove thy best Friends and Benefactors, Rom. 8. 28. Sure then, thou art more afraid than hurt, thou mistakest thy best Friends, for thy worst Enemies; thou and thy Afflictions shall part more comfortably than you met.

4. If thou be in Christ, thy Treasure is safe, thy eternal happiness is out of the reach of all thine Ene­mies, Luk. 12. 4. Luk. 10. 42. And if that be safe thou hast no cause to be sad; to droop, and tremble at the hazard of earthly comforts, whilest heavenly and eternal things are safe, is as if a man that had got­ten his Pardon from the King, and had it safe in his Bosom, should be found weeping upon the way home, because he hath lost his Staff or Glove. These reasons are strong against the dejections of Gods peo­ple under outward troubles; but yet I am sensible that all the reasoning in the world will not prevent their dejections, except they will take pains to clear up their Interest in God against such a day, Psal. 18. 2. and will act their faith, by way of adherence and dependance upon God in the want of former light and evidence, Isa. 50. 10. And lastly, that they keep their consciences pure and inviolate, which will be a spring of comfort in the midst of troubles, 2 Cor. 1. 12.

3. Consect. Thirdly, It hence appears to be the greatest folly, and vanity in the world to make any thing but God, our refuge in the day of trouble. This practice as you heard but now, is under Gods curse, [Page 269] and that which is cursed of God, can never be com­fortable to us. It is an honour peculiar to God, the right of Heaven, and therefore cursed Sacriledge to bestow it on the Creature. We read of some that make lies their refuge, and hide themselves under Falshood, thinking when the overflowing Scourge comes it shall not come nigh unto them, Isa. 28. 15. They will trust to their wits and policies, they will fawn and flatter, lye and dissemble, cast themselves into a thousand shapes and forms to save themselves; but all in vain, the Flood shall sweep away their refuge of lyes. Others make Riches their trust and confidence, Prov. 10. 15. The rich mans wealth is his strong city. If Enemies come their money shall be their ransom; but oh, what a poor refuge will this be? It may betray but cannot secure them, Behold, saith God, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver, and as for gold, they shall not delight in it, Isa. 13. 17. Riches profit not in the day of wrath, Prov. 11. 4. Iob blessed God in the day of his adversity, that he had not made Gold his Hope, or the fine Gold his Confi­dence, Iob 31. 24. Bless not thou thy self that thou hast such things to bestow thy hope and trust upon. Others make Men their Refuge, especially great and powerful Men, but to how little purpose is it! Put not your trust in Princes, nor in the Son of Man, in whom there is no help, Psal. 146. 3, 4. They cannot keep their Crowns upon their Heads, no, nor their Heads upon their Shoulders, the greatest Men are but Dust, and what can Dust do to Dust? Three things aggravate their misery, who misplace their Confidence by bestowing it on any Creature. 1. That Creature will certainly deceive them, men are deceitful men, Psal. 62. 9. Riches are [Page 270] deceitful, riches, 1 Tim. 6. 17. Every thing you lean on, beside God, will start aside, like a deceitful bow, Psal. 78. 57. (2.) The disappointment of your hopes from the creature, will enflame your af­fliction, and greatly aggravate your sorrow, 2 King. 18. 21. The broken reeds of Egypt will not only fail, but pierce you. (3.) In a word, God will take none into his protection, who make any thing besides himself their hope and confidence; if we fly from God to the creature, God will say to the creature, thou shalt go, except I have thy dependence, thou shalt never have my protection; where I have no ho­nour, thou shalt have no comfort.

4. Consect. Fourthly, The former discourse, yields us also this comfortable conclusion, That what ever confusions, desolations, and troubles be in the earth, the Church and People of God can never be wholly exterminated, and destroyed, seeing such a secure refuge is prepared for them of God, Psal. 102. 28. The children of thy servants shall continue, and their seed shall be established before thee. Which is assigned as the true reason of its perpetuity and safety, Psal. 48. 3. God is known in her palaces, for a refuge. The Church's Enemies have tried the utmost of their policies and powers in all Ages against it, but to no purpose: whilest they have been plotting and perse­cuting, the preserved Remnant have been singing their Song upon Alamoth, even praises to their great preserver; though they have no external visible de­fence, yet are they as safe, as salvation it self can make them, for salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks, Isa. 26. 1, 2. Four things are ex­ceeding remarkable in the Churches preservation: (1.) No people were ever so fiercely opposed by the [Page 271] powers of this world, The Kings of the earth have set themselves, and the Rulers have taken counsel to­gether, Psal. 2. 2. All methods and artifices have been tryed, sometimes to jeer and scoff them out of the Religion: so did the Apostate Iulian, and some­times by cruel tortures, to affright them from their Religion; the variety and more than barbarous in­humanity, whereof the Church Histories give us a sad and amazing account. (2.) Under these cruel Persecutions, they have seemed to be utterly lost, to the eye of sence and reason; I am left alone, said Elijah, and they seek my life, 1 King. 19. 10. By whom, Lord, shall Jacob arise, said Amos, for he is very small? Amos 7. 2. (3.) Notwithstanding all which, the Church hath overlived all its dangers; it is the true Phoenix, which hath outlived the Deluge. (4.) Such deliverances are proper and peculiar to the Church alone: no people, besides the people of God, have such salvations upon record. The great and famous Monarchies of the world, have dashed one another to pieces, like earthen Potsheards

—Sic Medus ademit
Assyrio, syro (que) tulit moderamina Perses.

And all this by vertue of that promise, Ier. 30. 11. For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee, though I make afull end of all Nations, whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee. [...]

5. Consect. Fifthly, to conclude: If this be so, then it is a deep and dangerous policy of Satan, to shut up our refuge in God against us, as much as may be in times of trouble. Satan, like a cunning Fowler, de­spairs of getting the birds in his net, except he can beat them out of their coverts; it is therefore his great Design, to estrange and alienate the Saints [Page 272] from their God, as much as he can, thereby to cut off their retreat to him in times of trouble; a mischief which the people of God have always vehemently deprecated, Psal. 102. 2. Ier. 17. 17. And O that we would be ware of it! and shun this mischief, by our seasonable preventing watchfulness. There are, among others, Three special Projects of Satan, where­by he manages this mischievous design against the people of God.

1. By drawing their Consciences under guilt, on purpose to destroy the liberty, freedom, and child­like confidence of their souls, in their addresses to God. This, if any thing in the world, will do it, Iob 11. 14, 15. What a loss will that poor soul be at, in times of trouble, whose grumbling and condemning con­science will not suffer him to look up chearfully and believingly in the face of its God, and Father, having lost its ancient freedom at the throne of grace?

2. By prevailing with them to neglect and inter­mit the course of their daily duties, and thereby to let down their communion with God, and in a great measure lose their acquaintance with him. This is a dangerous policy of the Devil, and an unspeakable prejudice to the soul: Oh Christian, take heed of a lazy sloathful spirit, or a vain and earthly heart, which will easily suffer the duties of Religion to be jostled aside, and put by for every trivial occasion; especially beware of slight, formal, superficial, and dead-hearted performances of duty, which is little better than the intermission of them, it may in­deed prevent the scandal, but can never give thee the comfort of Religion.

3. By beclouding their interest in God, and darkening their titles and evidences, by thick clouds. [Page 273] of doubts and fears. This is the sad case of many a poor Christian, in a day of trouble, with out-fight­ings, with in-fears. Brethren, I beseech you, think often what those things are, which usually put men into such frights and streights, when eminent dan­gers stare them in the face, what it is that daunts and damps the hearts of Christians at such times; and as you value the peace and freedom of your souls with God, give not matter for your consciences to re­proach you with mis-spent time, indulged sins, neg­lected duties, formality or hypocrisie in duties, sini­ster, and by-ends in your transactions with God or man: preserve the purity and peace of your consci­ences, as you would preserve your two eyes; if by such wiles the Devil cannot bar you from your God, or shut up your refuge in him, your outward troubles can do you no hurt.

SECT. II.
The Second Vse, Of Direction and Advice.

THe providence of God in these days, giving us such loud warnings of approaching judgment; How are all that are wise in heart, and of understand­ing of the times, now more especially concerned to clear their interest in these blessed Attributes of God, which have here been opened, as their only refuge in the evil day. Let me therefore persuade, and press you to betake your selves to God, your refuge, and strong hold in trouble, and that more especially in these two great duties: viz.

  • [Page 274]1. Of Fervent Supplication.
  • 2. Of Universal Resignation.

1. Betake your selves to God by fervent Prayer and Supplication. Let me say of these times, as Holy Mr. Perkins did of his, Non sunt ista litigandi, sed oran­di tempora, These are no times for Christians to con­tend and strive one with another, but with their united cryes to strive with God, and, among other re­quests, strongly to enforce and follow home, that of David, Psal. 71. 2, 3. Deliver me in thy righteous­ness, and cause me to escape, incline thine ear unto me, and save me, be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort. That's a true and weighty Observation of Austine, Non facilè inveniuntur prae­sidia in adversitate, quae non fuerint in pace quaesita. A refuge is not to be found in trouble, except it be pro­vided before-hand in peace. For this, saith the Psal­mist, shall every one that is godly, pray unto thee, in a time when thou maist be found, surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him, Psal. 32. 6. Had not Noah prepared and secured him­self in the Ark, before the floods of great water came, he had not sate, as he did, Medis tranquillus in undis: Sleeping quietly, when others were perishing in the waters. Gather your selves therefore together, before the Decree bring forth; seek the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, be more frequent, and more [...]ervent in Prayer, now than ever; you have all the encouragements in the world, to incite you to this duty: the nature of your God is exceeding pitiful▪ tender, and compassionate, Iam. 5. 11. The en­deared relations betwixt God and you, gives singu­lar encouragement of success: Shall not God hear [Page 275] his own Elect, which cry unto him day and night? Luk. 18. 7. The sweet returns and answers of for­mer Prayers, are so many motives and encourage­ments, to follow close that thriving trade, Psal. 52. 1, 2, 3. And above all, your prevalent Advocate in the heavens should encourage you, to come fre­quently, and boldly, to the throne of Grace, that you may obtain mercy, and find grace, to help in the time of need, Heb. 4. 16. In two things, I shall briefly offer a little Direction here: viz.

of Prayer.
  • 1. As to the matter
  • 2. As to the manner

1. As to the matter of Prayer, I mean such as the state and condition of the times, now more espe­cially suggests.

(1.) Unite your Prayers, and cry mightily to the Lord, that if it be his good pleasure, this cup of wrath which seems to be mingled and prepared, may pass from his people. Now cry to God, as they are directed to do, Ioel 2. 17. Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach, that the hea­then should rule over them: wherefore should they say among the people, Where is their God? O pray, That England may not be delivered into the hands of blood-thirsty Papists, that the golden Candlestick may not be removed, that Idolatry may not return into those places where God hath been so sweetly Wor­shipped; that a Land so peculiarly blessed with Gospel-Light, wherein so many thousand sons, and daughters, have been born to God, may not at last become an Aceldama, a great Shambles, to quarter out the Limbs of his dear Saints; that the pleasant Plant of Reformation, planted with his own right [Page 276] hand, and watered with so many tears, yea with so much blood, may not at last be rooted up by the wild Boar out of the Forrest!

(2.) Pray indesinently, That you may be kept from the sins and temptations of the times. O watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation; if you cannot prevail with God, to turn away his anger, yet be importunate with him, that you may be kept from sin, that if you lose your outward peace, you may be able to keep inward peace, that you may never sacrifice your consciences, to save your flesh, that you may never fall under the displeasure of God, to avoid the rage of men. Ah friends, we little think what a fearful havock an hour of tempta­tion will make in such a professing Nation as this is; then shall many be offended, Matth. 24. 10. O pray, that you may never give offence to others by scandal, or take offence your selves at the ways of God, whatever sufferings and sharp tryals shall come.

(3.) Pray earnestly for the sanctification of all your troubles, to your eternal good; an unsancti­fied comfort never did any man good, and a sancti­fied trouble never did any man hurt; be more earnest therefore with God, rather to have your troubles sanctified, than prevented; to get the blessing, than to avoid the smart of them; if they cannot be turned away from you, pray they may be turned to your salvation.

2. Betake your selves to God your refuge by Faith, resigning and committing all into his hands, Now the just shall live by faith, Heb. 10. 38. The more you can trust God, the more you secure your selves from danger; he that can live by Faith, shall ne­ver [Page 277] die by Fear, and be sure to inform your selves well in two things, viz.

  • 1. What it is to trust God over all.
  • 2. What grounds you have so to do.

1. Be well instructed in the Nature of this duty, there are six things imported in such acts of Resignation.

1. An awakened sense of our dangers and hazards. At what time I am afraid I will trust in thee, Psal. 56. 3. Suffering times are resigning times, 1 Pet. 4. 19. Let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing; as unto a faithful creator. And the greater and nea­rer our dangers are, the more frequent and vigorous should the actings of our faith this way be; Be not far from me, for trouble is near.

2. Resignation to God necessarily implies our re­nunciation, and disclaiming of all other refuges. Ashur shall not save us, we will not ride upon horses neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, ye are our Gods, for in thee the fatherless findeth mer­cy, Hos. 14. 3. He that relies upon God, must cease from Man; resignation to God excludes not the use of lawful means, but it doth exclude dependence up­on them.

3. Resignation to God is always grounded upon an interest in God, we have no warrant, nor en­couragement to expect protection from him in trou­ble, except we can come to him as Children to a Father: It is the filial relation that gives encourage­ment to this fiducial resignation, and the clearer that relation and interest is, the more bold and confident those acts of Faith will be, Psal. 86. 2. Preserve my soul, for I am holy, O thou my God save thy servant that trusteth in thee. And again, Psal. 119. 94. I am thine, save me. I speak not here of the first act [Page 278] of Faith, which flows not from an interest; but gives the Soul an interest in God. Nor do I say that poor doubting and timorous Believers whose interest in him is dark and dubious, have no warrant to re­sign themselves and their concernments into his hands, for it is both their right and duty to do it: But certain­ly the clearer our interest is, the more facile and com­fortable will those acts be.

4. The committing acts of Faith imply a full ac­knowledgement and owning of Gods power to pro­tect us, be the danger never so imminent, Psal. 31. 15. My times are in thy hand, deliver me from the hands of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me. q. d. O Lord I am fully satisfied, my life is not at the dispose of mine enemies, 'tis not in their hands, but in thine; all the traps and snares they lay for it shall not shorten one minute of my time, I know thine hand is fully able to protect me, and therefore into thine hands I resign my self, and all I have.

5. Resignation involves in it an expectation of help and safety from God, when we see no way of security from men. O Lord, saith Iehoshaphat, We have no might nor no strength, neither know we what to do, but our eyes are unto thee, 2 Chron. 20. 12. So David, Psal. 62. 5, 6. My soul wait thou only upon God, for my expectation is from him, he only is my rock and my salvation, he is my defence I shall not be moved.

6. Resignation to God implies the leaving of our [...]elves and our concernments with him to be disposed of according to his good pleasure; the resigning Soul desires the Lord to do with him what he will, and is content to take what lot Divine pleasure shall cast for him, 2 Sam. 15. 25. And the King said unto Zadok, [Page 279] carry back the Ark of God into the city, if I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, he will bring me again and shew me both it and his habitation; but if he thus say, I have no delight in thee, behold, here am I, let him do to me as seemeth good unto him. And so much of the Nature of this Duty, that we may under­stand what to do.

2. Next let me shew you what encouragements you that are the people of God, have to this duty, and they will appear to be great and many.

1. The Sovereignty and Absolute Dominion of God over all Creatures, is a singular encouragement to commit our selves into his hands and trust him o­ver all, Psal. 59. 9. Because of his strength will I wait upon thee, for God is my defence. If a man were in danger amidst a great Army of rude and in­solent Souldiers, and were to put himself under the protection of any one, it should be the General of that Army, to chuse in such a hand he cannot but be safe, all the Souldiers being at his beck. Christi­an, the God into whose hands thou committest thy self, is Lord General of all the Hosts and Armies in Heaven and Earth; how safe must thou then be in his hands?

2. The unsearchable and perfect Wisdom of God is a mighty encouragement to commit our selves in­to his hands, with him is plenteous redemption, Psal. 130. ult. i. e. Choice and variety of ways and me­thods to save his people; we are, but God never is at a loss to find a door for our escape, 2 Pet. 2. 9. The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation.

3. The infinite tenderness and compassionateness of our God is a sweet encouragement to resign and commit our selves and all we have into his hands, [Page 280] his mercy is incomparably tender towards his peo­ple, infinitely beyond whatever any creature felt stirring in its own bowels towards another that came out of its bowels, Isa. 49. 15. This compassion of God engageth the two forementioned Attributes, viz. his Power and Wisdom, for the preservation and relief of his people: as often as distresses befall them. Yea,

4. The very distresses his people are in, do, as it were, awaken the Almighty power of God for their de­fence and rescue; our distresses are not only proper sea­sons, but powerful motives to his saving power, Deut. 36. For the Lord shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servant, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up or left. God makes it an argument to himself and his people, Plead it as an argument with him, be not far from me, for trouble is near, for there is none to help.

5. We have already committed greater and weightier concernments into his hand than the dear­est interest we have in this World, we have intrust­ed our souls with him, 1 Pet. 4. 19. 2. Tim. 1. 12. Well therefore may we commit the lesser, who have intrusted the greater with him; what are our lives, liberties, estates, and relations, compared with our Souls, and the eternal safety and happiness of them?

6. The committing act of Faith is the great and only expedient to procure and secure the peace and tranquillity of our minds, amidst the distractions and troubles of the present World; the greatest part of our affliction and trouble in such days, is from the working of our own thoughts; these torments from within are worse than any from without; and the resignation of all to God by Faith is their best and only cure, Proverbs 16. 3. Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be esta­blished. [Page 281] A blessed calmness of mind, a sweet tran­quillity and settlement of thoughts follows immediate­ly hereupon, Psal. 94. 19. Oh then, leave all with God, and quietly expect a comfortable issue; and for the better settlement, and security of thy peace in times of distraction and trouble, I beseech thee Reader, carefully to watch and guard against these two evils.

1. Caution.

Beware of Infidelity and distrustfulness of God and his Promises which secretly lurks in thy heart, and is hugely apt to bewray it self; when great di­stresses and troubles befall thee, thou▪ wilt know it by such Symptomes as these. 1. In an over hasty and eager desire after present deliverance, Isa. 51. 14. The captive exile hasteneth that he may be loosed, and that he should not die in the pit, nor that his bread should fail. The less Faith, always the more impatience, and the more ability to believe, the more patience to wait. 2. It will discover it self in our readiness to close with and catch at sinful mediums and methods of deliverance, Isa. 30. 15, 16. And this is the handle of temptation and occasion of Apostacy. But he that believeth will not make haste, Isa. 26. 18. No more hast than good speed. 3. It will shew it self in distracting cares and fears about events which will rack the mind with various and endless tortures.

2. Caution.

Beware of dejection and despondency of mind in evil times, take heed of a poor low spirit that will presently sink and give up its hopes upon every ap­pearance [Page 276] [...] [Page 277] [...] [Page 278] [...] [Page 279] [...] [Page 280] [...] [Page 281] [...] [Page 282] and face of trouble; it is a promise made unto the righteous, Psal. 112. 7. He shall not be afraid of evil tidings, his heart is fixes trusting in the Lord. The trusting of God fixes the heart, and the fixing of the heart, fortifies it against Fear, but I know what many poor Christians will say in this case, their timo­rousness and despondency arises not so much from the greatness of outward evils, as from the darkness and doubtfulness of their Spiritual and inward condition, which doubtless in the very truth of the case, which brings me to the last use of this point.

Vse the Third.

Search and examine your hearts Christians, whether those graces and qualifications to which God hath promised protection in evil times may not be found upon an impartial search in your hearts, amongst which I will single out three principal ones as the pro­per matters of your self examination, viz.

  • 1. Uprightness of Heart and Way.
  • 2. Humiliation for your own and others sins.
  • 3. Righteousness in doing and meekness in suffering the Will of God.

1. Uprightness and Integrity of heart and way. To this qualification belong many sweet promises of protection, such is that Prov. 2. 7. He is a buckler to them that walk uprightly, Psal. 7. 10. My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart. If your hearts be true to God, these promises shall be truly performed to you, but beware you deceive not your selves in so great a point as this is; thy heart cannot [Page 283] be an upright heart, except 1. it be a renewed heart; the Natural heart is always a false heart, 'tis only regeneration that gives the heart a right tem­per and frame; all the duties and labours in the world can never keep that heart right in its course, which is not first set right for God by a principle of renovation. (2.) We cannot judge our selves up­right, except uprightness be the setled frame and standing bent of our hearts, Psal. 119. 112, 117. It is not our integrity in one or two single actions, but in the general course, and complex frame of our lives and ways, that will prove our integrity to God. (3.) Then may we reckon our selves upright, when the dread and awe of God's all-seeing eye keeps our hearts and steps from turning aside to ini­quity, Gen. 39. 9. 2 Cor. 2. 17. That's a sincere and upright heart indeed, that finds it self at all times, and in all places overawed from sin, by the eye of God upon him. (4.) That man's heart also is upright with God, who purely aims at and designs the glory of God, as the scope and end of his life and actions, who lives not to himself, neither acts ultimately and principally for himself, but lives to God as a person dedicated and devoted to him, Rom. 14. 7. (5.) That heart also is upright with God, which governs it self and its ways by the directions and rules of the Word, Psal. 119. 11, 24, 133. Happy is that soul that finds such evidences of integrity in it self, when it is brought to the trial of it at the Bar of the Word, Heb. 4. 12. At the bar of conscience, 2 Cor. 1. 12. at the bar of afflictions, Psal. 119. 87. and at the bar of strong temptations, Gen. 39. 9. The eyes of the Lord shall run to and fro through the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of such whose hearts are thus perfect towards him.

[Page 284] 2. Another gracious qualification, intitling the soul to God's special protection in the worst and most dangerous times, is the true humiliation for our own and other mens sins; Go, set a mark, saith God, upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof, Ezek. 9. 4. These that thus mourn, when others laugh, shall laugh when others mourn. Lot was the only mourner in Sodom, and he was the only person exempted from destruction in the ruine and overthrow thereof, 2 Pet. 2. 7. That's a sweet and blessed priviledge, mentioned in Isa. 66. 10. Rejoyce ye with Jerusalem, and be glad with her all ye that love her, rejoyce for joy with her, all ye that mourn for her, that ye may suck, and be satisfied with the [...]reasts of her consolations, that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory. Be contented, Christians, to bear your part in Sions groans and sorrows, you may live to bear your part in her triumphs and songs of deliverance; it is an ar­gument of the true publickness, and tenderness of your spirits for present, and as sweet a sign as can ap­pear upon your souls, That you are reserved for bet­ter days.

3. Righteousness in doing, and meekness in suf­fering the will of God, is another mark or note, di­stinguishing and describing those persons whom God will preserve in the evil day. You have both these together, in Zeph. 2. 3. Seek ye the Lord, all ye the meek of the earth, which have wrought his judg­ments, seek righteousness, seek meekness, it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lords anger. The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their Prayers, 1 Pet. 3. 12. If righte­ousness bring you into danger, the righteous God [Page 285] will take care of you in that danger, and bring you out of it. O 'tis a singular comfort, when a man can say, it was not my sin, but my duty, that brought me into trouble; this affliction met me in the path and way of my duty; 'tis for thy sake, O Lord, that I am in trouble: as the Martyr that held up the Bible at the stake, saying, This hath brought me hither.

To conclude, Manage all your Sufferings for Christ, with Christian meekness; as righteousness must bring you into them, so meekness must carry you through them: if you avenge your selves, you take the cause out of God's hand, into your own, but the meek Christian leaves it to the Lord; and shall never have cause to repent of his so doing. If thou have an upright heart with God, a tender and mournful heart for sin, and thou suffer with meekness, for righteousness sake, thou art one of these souls to whom that sweet Voice is directed in my Text,

Come, my People, enter thou into thy Cham­bers, and shut thy doors about thee; hide thy self, as it were, for a little moment, until the indignation be over-past.

FINIS.
Mr. Flavell's Two Treatises,
  • 1. A Teatise of Fear.
  • 2. The Righteous Man's Refuge.

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