PROV. 15. 23.

A word spoken in due season how good it is.

Preached June 15. 1641.

Published by order from a Committee of the Honourable House of Commons.

LONDON, Printed by J. D. for Henry Overton, and are to be sold at his shop at the entrance into Popes-head Alley out of Lumbard street. 1641.

To the Reader.

GOd hath layd the foundation among us long agoe, and God be thanked we have held it hitherto, though with much adoe, and some hazard, for Pioners both with­in us and without us have beene digging at it, but could never undermine it, to blow it up (for thereby wee have beene comely though blacke) and therefore they have gone another way to worke, and built upon it: to wit; wood, hay, stubble, so that though the power of godlinesse hath preserved us, yet this combustible matter hath kindled such fires amongst us, as have almost ruined, us. For it's dangerous to separate what God hath joyned together, though Power may give as a subsistence, yet never a bene esse without Purity, to which wee now hope wee draw neere by the marriage of these two together amongst us, but then they must have these properties of marriage, they must not only joyne hands but hearts, and that for ever for Cordiall unanimity, and constant perpetuity, make up such a Reformation, as only will make us.

[Page] But I will not prevent the Sermon by preaching it in the Epistle, only borrow so much, as may shew how needfull it is for Ministers, to ioyne with Magi­strates, and to imploy the Word, as they the Sword this way, that so it may not bee done by halves, but throughly, and that not only in Action, but affection, For God sayes, give me thy heart, which is the summe, and substance of this Sermon, and that it may bee the practice of us all, so prayes.

Thine in the Lord, T. F.

REFORMATION Sure and stedfast, or a sea­sonable Sermon for the present times, &c.

ZEPHANIAH 1. 1.‘The word of the Lord which came unto Zephaniah the sonne of Cushi, the sonne of Gedaliah, the sonne of Amariah, the sonne of Hizkiah, in the dayes of Iosiah the sonne of Amon King of Judah.’

THree things there are exprest in the Text; and a fourth implyed. First, The authority of the Pro­phet. Secondly, The Prophets qualitie. Thirdly, The time of his Prophecy; and fourthly, The Argument, or substance of it; which is the thing implyed in the Prophets text, and ful­ly opened in his Sermons.

1. The authority: The word of the Lord: And therefore you are to take notice, I am not now opening to you mens opinions, or reading a Lecture to you out of a Philosopher, or an Hi­storian, which you may like where you will, [Page 2] and leave where you list, heare, or beleeve ab libitum; But the word of the Lord, who must be beleeved, when he speakes most above our apprehensions, or crossest to our present wills, and affections.

2. The Quality of the Prophet; Which came unto Zephaniah the sonne of Cushie, &c. His Fa­ther and Grandfather, and great Grandfather and great great Grandfather are named: Whence it appeares, that Zephaniah was a man of an honourable House, because his Ancestors are mentioned to the fourth generationBesides, the names of his Ancestours tell him to be honoura­ble. And hence wee see, that Almighty God hath made use of men of all degrees, to bee Ministers of his Word. Isaiah came of the bloud Royall; Jeremiah, of the stocke of Aaron; Daniel and Zephaniah, of honourable Families. Amos, a heardman; Elisha, a husbandman; and other Prophets, as Malachi, Obadiah, Haggai, and Ha­bakkuk, whose naked names wee have without their Pedegrees. And thus we see, that as the Lord doth send his Word to all sorts of men, so he sends it by all sorts of men. And hereby the most true God does the more cleare his Word from jelousie, and suspition. Here also wee see, it is calling honourable enough, for men that are most honourable by birth, to bee Ministers of Gods Word. As Zephaniah a No­ble man by birth, was not undervalued, but ad­vanced by his calling to be the Lords Minister. A Ministers Calling is honour enough to him without other accumulations.

[Page 3] 3. The time of his prophesying: In the dayes of Josiah King of Judah: and therefore one of the last Prophets before the Captivity, and a Contemporarie with Jeremiah.

4. For the substance, and subject of his pro­phecy, we shall find; It is composed of very reproving, and very threatning Sermons: part­ly indeed against some others, but principally against Judah.

I, but what should such a Prophet,Quest. a repro­ving Prophet, a threatning Prophet doe in Josi­ah's time, a time of great reformation, and a ve­ry reforming Prince?

I answer,Answ. that though Josiah himselfe had a right spirit in way of Reformation, yet the spirits of the greatest part of the Nobles of Ju­dah, and also of the Commons, inclined to their old superstitions in worship, and corruptions in government. The Idolatrous wayes of their former corrupt Princes, were still in their hearts; And however the King was sound, yet the greatest part of the Subjects, both Rulers, and People, were rotten-hearted towards Jo­siah's Reformation. Which appeares both by some expresse places of Scripture, and by good consequence from other.

In the 2 King. 22. 17. and Chro. 34. 25. It was absolutely charged, upon the Inhabitants of Judah, that they burnt Incense to other Gods; which charge was in Josiah's time: So that notwithstanding the religious reformation, hee had endeavoured amongst them, yet they [Page 4] had their old haunts of superstion, and there­fore then censured, as well as charged.

If it be put to Case, and objected, that this charge might have relation to Iudah's Idolatrie, in Manasse's time, as might seeme from that pas­sage in 2 King. 23. 26. Let this Question be put upon this Objection: Why should such a diffe­rence be made, in that charge, and censure, be­twixt Josiah, and his people, saving that he was sound, and they still corrupt? I confesse it hath reference to Manasse's time; yet not only thi­ther: for its plaine to Josiah's also. And this will be without scruple, upon the view of some passages in the Prophet, Jer. 3. 6. and 10. The Lord also said unto me, saith Jeremiah, in the dayes of Josiah the King. Judah hath not tur­ned unto me with her whole heart, but feigned­ly, or in falshood, saith the Lord. Though the King, and happily some few of his Nobles, and People were very Cordiall in reformation, yet the major part both of Nobles and Commons, had reformed faces, but not reformed hearts.

Again, by consequence it is cleare. For wher­as Josiah, though young, was upright-hearted himselfe, and likewise towards the reformati­on of his Kingdome; Why yet it seemes, it was the twelfth yeare of his Raigne, before he could get the Kingdome in any readinesse to a Refor­mation. So it is recorded in 2 Chro. 34. 3. That in the twelfth yeare of his Raigne, he began to purge Iudah and Ierusalem from the high places, and the Groves, &c.

[Page 5] Againe, after he set upon Reformation, wee find it was six yeares, before he had purged the Land, and the Temple, which was but a part of his Reformation intended: for the repaires of the Temple were still behind, vers. 8. And what should be the Reason, that he should be twelve yeares before hee began to reforme, being so pure a Prince, and six yeares in one part of Re­formation, the casting out of Corruptions? But because he found it a mighty difficult matter, to new mold the People from old wayes, and to take the generality of them off from their wonted superstitious customes.

It is observable againe, that when the Peo­ple were brought to an outward Conformity, to the Reformation, yet their hearts still han­kered another way, and so much as they durst, for the Lawes, the Reformation had establish­ed, they declared their idolatrous spirits: as in that 3. Jer. 10. Judah hath not turned to mee with her whole heart, but feignedly.

And we are moreover to marke, that after their outward Conformitie to Reformation, came the threatning of their Captivity. Com­pare the 8. and 25. Verse, of the 34. Chap. 2 Chro.

There is still another thing more notable for the case in hand, which is this; When upon the Lords threatning Judah, for the superstitious bent, and byas of their spirits still; Josiah to the end he might make them as sure as he could for God gathers them together, to enter into a sure [Page 6] Covenant with the Lord, to serve him only, and to worship him truly; It is observable that the king was forced, to force them to stand to the Covenant, that he himselfe had entred into. Verses 32. 33. They did not willingly, and free­ly enter into the Covenant with the King, but it's said, Josiah caused, and made all that were present, or that were found in Jerusalem, and Benjamin to stand to it. Againe, neither did they keepe this Covenant any longer then Josiah's life, as the last words of the Chapter, and the Peoples practice in the beginning of the next King doe manifest.

Now if the commendations of the Passeover in Josiah's life, and the great lamentation of the People at Josiah's death, should bee an Argu­ment to any for the integritie of Iudah in Iosiah's time; They must needs in serious, and secon­ded thoughts, apprehend the carriage of the people in the generality, but a Ceremony, and no substantiall point of their soundnesse.

Therefore upon all this that hath beene said, I say in Answer to the Question; That there was a necessitie of this sharpe, and threatning Prophecy, even in Iosiah's time, though a time of Reformation: howbeit, not in respect of Prince, yet of People for the major part. And then this is the first Doctrine.

That though the Prince,Doct. 1. and some Rulers of a Nation, be strict Reformers in Religion, yet if the People generally continue corrupt, the Nation is still in much danger. As we may take [Page 7] notice of it in Gods angry words against Iudah, in Iosiah's time, the purest of Reformers before the Captivity; So also, as clearly in the pure reformations after the Captivity, by the con­fessions, of the Reformers themselves: Wit­nesse Ezra, and Nehemiah their solemne Fasts, to prevent sad things, which they feared might befall their Nation, through the peoples cor­ruption, Ezra 9. and Nehem. 9.

Now when I say, when the people are cor­rupt in Religion, I meane not their open pro­fession, or confessed practice of superstitions, and crosse-wayes, to the purity of Religion: But even then, when the people have out-sides to Reformation, yet still hearts and insides to corruption. For this was the case of the Iewes in Iosiah's time. As the purest Elements now are so impure as subject to change in part into contrary Elements; such was the temper of these Jewes, that as they went to Zoar, their fa­ces were towards Sodom.

And the danger of such a Nation,Reas. that hath such a people appeares in this; Because such a People, though they may bee conformers, to godly reformation for the present, yet for pre­sent it's against their wills to be for God, and so soone as ever they have opportunity, they will be for Baal. Just as your men that stay at shore till wind serve, they keepe upon the Land, be­cause they cannot get upon the Sea; but so soone as the winds turne to their opportunity, fare well Land.

[Page 8] Thus we may conceive it was in that happy Reformation of King Edw. 6. though unhap­py in respect of his surviving Subjects. Who in reason would have thought, that, that Re­formation should have had such a Metamor­phosis, and that so suddenly; yet the issue gave in evidence that the generality were but meere Formalists in that reformation, and did but waite for a wind, to carry them to Rome a­gaine.

And as this hath beene the issue of the Peo­ple, so Vice versa; Sometimes with the Prince: as in Joash King of Judah, a good King not from inward principles, but from outward mo­tives; Hee made true Religion the fashion whilst Jehojada lived: For all the dayes of Jeho­jada it's said, he walked in the godly paths of his godly Predecessors, and maintained the refor­mation, made after Athalia deposed, and hee crowned, 2 King. 11.

But so soone as Jehojada was in his grave, the Princes of Judah came, and made obeisance to the King, and with flattering speeches motio­ned to the King, the renewing of Baalitish worship, and he hearkened unto them, 2 Chro. 24. 17.

To make Application of the point for our owne particular use.Vse. And hence wee gather that there is as great necessitie to pray, and en­devour, that the hearts of the People of the Land, may bee prepared for Reformation, as that the Lord would prepare Reformers: That [Page 9] Prince, and Peoples spirits, may move in the same orbe in this point, and that the people may not be carryed on in Reformation, as the Sunne, and starres are by the Primum mobile, have a violent motion from it, and another naturall motion of their owne, quite contrary. For certainly though the people of the Land move after the motion of superiour Orbes, King, and Rulers that doe reforme, yet keepe another crosse inclination, and motion of their owne, surely, I say, our hopes at most, can be but for an Age, even the lives of Reformers; and so soone as a Josiah is gone, so will his Reformati­on too.

It's true, for the age of Reformers, the Scrip­tures warrant us, Truth and Peace in their dayes; Nay, and according to Scripture evi­dence, an externall complying of the people with Reformation, is a Supersedeas to the Land from Nationall iudgements. We find in Josi­ah a Reformer, he must goe to his grave in peace, and his people must bee secure till then too. And so there must be peace and truth, all Hezekiah's raigne, being a reformer of Religion, though we find many heavy prophesies against Judah, even in Hezekiah's time, as wee see in the Prophets, Isaiah, Hosea, and Micah. And so Je­hoshaphat, a maintainer of his fathers Reforma­tion, and something a mender of it, though in­deed once he was affrighted with a great Ar­mie, yet saith the Scripture; The Realme of Iehoshaphat was quiet, and God gave him, and [Page 10] his People rest in his Raigne, 2 Chro. 20.

But then here is usually the non ultra of hopes, of happinesse, when the peoples hearts move not in the same Orbe after the Princes in re­forming. The Scripture is cleare in president for it: That when in time of Reformation, the peoples spirits are not prepared for puritie in Divine worship, as the Governours are (thus the case was with Iehoshaphats people, the hearts of the people were not prepared, to the taking away of the High-places, 2 Chro. 20. 33.) then the Land hath beene secured, and happie but that Age. For wee find that when Iehoshaphat slept with his Fathers, even that good Prince, whose peoples hearts were not prepared, as his, for perfect Reformation, the next King, was a King after the corrupt peoples owne hearts: A man that walked in the wayes of the Kings of Israel, and house of Ahab, 2 Chro. 21. 6.

And what became of the Kingdome then, that was so secure and quiet, whilst Iehoshaphat lived? Why, we find there, that first the Edo­mites, they revolt from the Dominion of Iu­dah, and set up a King of their owne; and Libna also revolted from the government of Iudah. And the reason of this change in the State, is given in the tenth verse of the Chapter: Because Iehoram had forsaken the Lord God of his Fa­thers, Iehoshaphat and Asa, both Reformers of Church and State.

It's true, we find in Scripture, that Asa's Re­formation continued not only his, but his suc­cessours [Page 11] time; But then wee find with all in Scripture, that there is no such thing laid to the peoples charge, as not being prepared for his Reformation. And this I conceive to bee a Reason of the succession of Queene Elizabeths reformation through King Iames his Raigne, and our gracious King Charles; namely, besides the Integritie of their Royall spirits, the hearts of the people were prepared for that Reforma­tion of Religion. Which appeares to be so, in this, That no Baalam's; though there have beene many, could yet curse England so farre, as to Adulterate a considerable part, either of No­bles, or Commons, from the former Refor­mation; though from perfection in Reforma­tion, we have beene often stopped.

Moreover, it's beyond all this observable concerning Hezekiahs Reformation; That though he was very pure in it, and his peoples hearts prepared for it, 2 Chro. 29. 36. The peo­ple were much taken with Hezekiah's reforma­tion at first, and forwarded it with all expediti­on; For the worke was done suddenly, saith the Scripture. Why yet this lasted but Heze­kiah's life; Truth, and Peace only in his dayes: for after he was gathered to his Fathers, Reli­gion was more corrupted then ever by Manasses his sonne, and the Kingdome never in greater straits, and exigents. Now what should be the reason of this? That he so pure a Reformer, and his peoples hearts so prepared for Refor­mation, yet the Kingdome happy herein, but for his time.

[Page 12] I answer, That we shall find in the search of Scripture in this case; That for all this forward­nesse of the People in Hezekiah's reformation, yet alas, they were but for a spurt, their be stat first, their courage soone cooled this way, and they quickly weary of the life of Religion. For this complaint the Lord made of Judah, in the Prophet Hosea: who prophesied in Heze­kiah's time against Judah, Hos. 6. 4. O Judah, what shall I doe unto thee? for your goodnesse is as the morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away. And if haply this was spoken to Judah in another Kings time, and not Hezekiah's, (for Hosea prophesied in foure Kings raignes of Ju­dah, Uzziah, Jothan, Ahaz, and Hezekiah) yet the very last thing in the Prophesie against Ju­dah, must in all reason bee in Hezekiah's time, Chap. 12. 2. I have a controversie also with Iudah, and will punish Jacob according to his wayes. Nay, and that which God spake in Iudah's commen­dation compared with Ephraim, Chap. 11. 12. intimates, as it were, that the Lord was jealous of Iudah's declining, and returning to Idols; Ephraim compasseth mee about with lyes; but Iudah yet ruleth with God. Yet, as if he did expect that they would fall off at last.

It's manifest againe by the Prophet Micah, who prophesied in Hezekiah's dayes, that even then there was a defection in the People, the Magistrates become corrupt, and the Ministrie too, Chap. 3. 9. and chap. last, and beginning of it. Besides this, it's more then probable that [Page 13] corruptions crept into Iudah, even in Hezekiah's dayes; because we find there was such a corrupt Minister of State nigh to the King, and in the Kings house, Shebna by name, both Treasurer, and also over the Kings house, Isa. 22. 15. A man of a mighty proud spirit for himselfe, as is seene in the 16. verse, and a mighty dangerous man to the State of Iudah, as appeares in his no­table end, in the 17. 18. verse, &c.

To put on the use againe in conclusion of these premisses. We see and cannot see; That besides the stirring up of the spirit of Iehosha­phat, or Hezekiah, or Josiah, or Zerubbabel, or Ne­hemiah, or Cirus, I say, besides the stirring up of the spirits of Rulers to reforme, there are these two things to be looked unto, if any continued comfort be expected in Reformation.

First, that the hearts of the people be prepa­red 1 for Reformation.

Secondly, that the hearts of the people be 2 settled, when they are prepared. First that the hearts of the people be prepared for Reforma­tion: that is, that their opinions, and affections may bee quite taken off, of all wry wayes in Gods worship, and byased with right Rules, and principles in Religion. And hence wee see the necessitie of the Ministers industry, as well as the Magistrates, in reforming times. For though it bee the power of the Sword which must conforme the outside, yet it is the power of the Word, which must reforme the inside of the people. Though the Magistrate must cast [Page 14] all externall performances, yet the Ministery properly casts the heart, and inclinations into a reforming temper.

And therefore Brethren now King,Note. and Mi­nisters of State are discharging their parts in commanding, if Ministers of the Church doe not discharge theirs in informing, and exhort­ing; Surely, as it was said of the Priests to their disparagement in Hezekiah's reformation, 2 Chro. 29. The Levites were more upright in heart to sanctifie themselves than the Priests; So will it doubtlesse bee charged on the Mini­stery in ours; That the Magistrates were more upright in heart to performe their parts in Re­formation, than the Ministers theirs.

We see also what here is for private men to worke upon in their prayers, viz. the hearts of the people of the Land, as well as the heart of the Prince of the Land in the day of refining. Though the head be never so well, and in tem­per, yet if there be an ill heart, or a corrupt li­ver, or ulcerated members in the body, a mans life is still in hazard: So that if Christians do not levell as well in their prayers, and humblings, to the sincerity of the Subjects, as the puritie of Prince, as well to the preparation of the people, as the reformation of Rulers; the Kingdome is not yet out of danger. For how­ever it be a happinesse to a Kingdome, when Rulers are willing to reforme, as to Iudah in Iehoshaphat. Yet if the people be not prepared for Reformation, marke, and it goes on with [Page 15] much difficulty, and every motion of it pinches much. As, this being the case of Iosiah six years could scarcely get out rubbish from Church and State, that they might come to repaires. For it was the twelfth yeare before hee could pull downe Baal, and the eighteenth before he could build for God.

Secondly, there must be care had by the Ma­gistrate in their sphere, and the Ministery in theirs, and all the people of God in theirs too, to get the hearts of the people setled, in the rules of Reformation: that they bee not wave­ring, and of a changeable spirit, except Gover­nours change any forgot, or unseene errors: that their goodnesse may not bee as Iudah's, as the morning cloud, and early dew which passeth away; that they may not bee for Antichrist a­gaine, when an opportunity tempts them; but religious when Iehojada is dead, and righteous when Iosiah is fallen asleepe. In a word, that they may be implanted into a Reformation, as the Medes and Persians were into their Law, which altered not. And if this bee not, then this may be; nay, this will be the mischiefe, and inconvenience, viz.

Though the worke of Reformation goe on apace for a time, as it is said of Hezekiah, he bles­sed God, that the hearts of the people were so prepared, that the worke was done with speed. I say, though the worke may goe on with speed for a time, yet in time there may come a pause, and long demurre: and this was their case in the [Page 16] building of the Temple, upon the weakning of the hands of the people of Iudah and Benjamin, Ezr 4. The People were extraordinary busie, and zealous at the foundation of the Temple, but shortly after, by some wiles, and plots of Ante-reformers, their hands were weakned, their zeale abated, and the worke of building the Temple, received intermission many yeares, Ezr. 4 Compare the fourth verse with the twenty fourth.

Thus you have seene cleared, that when the Magistrates of a Land are serious in separating betwixt the pretious, and the vile, if the peo­ple of the Land, I meane the considerable part of them be peccant; the Land is still in danger, especially for future. For if the hearts of the people be not prepared for reformation, then it comes on with much difficulty: If prepared, and not settled, there may come in dangerous delayes, and besides little hopes to last long. As the Israelites at first comming out of Egypt, in one quarter of a yeare they got as farre as to the wildernesse of Zinai, the third part of their way from Egypt to Canaan, and count all their Compasses in their journey: they staied not there much above the yeare compleat, to take their Lawes along with them, and yet after they removed from Mount Sinai, they were nine and thirtie yeares before any of them got to Ca­naan. Whereas had their progresse beene like their beginning, they might have beene at the Land of promise within fix moneths more.

[Page 17] You conceive our owne case without parti­cular application; and you cannot but conceive how much it concernes us all to see to it, to our power, that the hearts of all be not only prepa­red to reforme, but settled in their preparations. And sure it lyes hard upon Gods people (O that they would heartily take notice of it) not to ebbe a jot in the course of Prayer, and humiliation, or in the way of personall refor­mation, or exercise of faith, and activenesse of spirit every way, which is proper for the times, and their conditions in them. So much for this first Doctrine from the Argument of the Pro­phesie.

Secondly, the Prophesie is also to threaten them, that keepe corrupt, and rotten hearts, in times of reformation. And hence this se­cond Doctrine.

That Anti-reformers are sure of ruine.Doct. 2. There are sure judgements kept for them, that keepe corrupt minds under times of reformati­on. For why Iosiah's people should be punished for this temper, and any now escape, I can find no reason; So that to such, ruine will come, though haply, it may be a whole, or a peece of an Age before: as it was with the multitude of the Jewes in Iosiah's dayes, his dayes they were respited, but after ruined. And if in this case the generality of the people bee thus tain­ted, the whole Nation is at stake, if but an in­considerable part Almighty God can fift out the accursed thing, and I beleeve will cull out [Page 18] Achans, and save Israel.

My Brethren, when in times of reformation and puritie, men will not leave their vanitie and superstitions, what the Word cannot take away, the Sword of the Magistrate must, or Gods will. Men of spirits crossing reformati­on, are our Moabites, and Ammonites: We shall observe that the Moabites, and Ammonites in Israels time, were by Gods law, the most accur­sedst men, of all men; the very Edomites and Egyptians, were not so hatefull a people as they, for the children of an Edomite, or an E­gyptian, might enter into the Congregation of the Lord in the third generation, but the Moa­bite, and the Ammonite might not come into the Congregation of the Lord, to the tenth gene­ration, no not for ever. See Deut. 23. 3. and 8.

Now what was the nature and disposition of the Ammonite and Moabite, that they above o­thers must bee thus accursed? Why, because they hindered Israels passage to Canaan; thus will it be with the men who hinder the Church of God from the enjoyment of her promises of Puritie and Peace, they are, or God will make them the hatefull'st of men.

And O that some in these times, would take this into thought, who had rather in their pra­ctice in Religion bee conformable to Rome in the Popes time, then reduced to Rome in Saint Pauls time, and choose to imitate her in her corruptions, rather then in her puritie. Rome is sure to be ruinated, if the generalitie o [...] [Page 19] pure Divines in all ages since Antichrist knowne to be there, doe not faile us; nay, and the Scrip­tures themselves, which wee are sure will not. And if shee be sure, as sure are all they that come not out from her, else what meanes that place of Scripture, Rev. 18. 4. Come out of her my people, that yee bee not partakers of her sinnes, and that yee receive not of her plagues.

Againe, thirdly the Argument of the Pro­phesie is to shew to all Ages, what necessitie there is, of fidelity, and throughnesse in under­taking the reformation of States, and Churches, for otherwise they are still indanger. Though it be no error to take away some corruptions, yet it is an error not to take away all.

What hath beene the spring of the miseries of some of Christs Churches (as in Germany) since they were reformed, but their partiall re­formations. Gualther, and other judicious Ger­mane Divines were in this note whilst they lived.

There is no perfect peace in a State, with­out full Puritie of the Church. The times of laying downe weapons, of beating Swords in­to plow-shares, and Speares into pruning hookes, and of learning warre no more, and of every mans sitting under his Vine, and under his Figge-tree without feare, Micah 4. 3. 4. are the purest times of the Gospell. The times when the Gentiles shall be earnestly calling up­on the Jewes, that they may walke together in the glorious light of the Gospell compare that of Micah with 2 Isa. 4.

[Page 20] And againe, Churches are very subject to relapses, when not throughly healed, and relap­ses are dangerous; the last error is worse then the first. New Idolaters after a reformation, are more dangerous then former; Consider the Idolatrous times of Judah after reformations, and it is plaine, Idolaters were more dangerous after Hezekiah's reformation then before, wit­nesse Manasses time, and still more dangerous after Josiah's reformation then before, witnesse the Captivity. And it is not in vaine to looke upon the next Idolaters after King Edw. refor­mation. And if wee be not blind, we may see in our owne dayes, that popish spirits are more deepe, and desperate then ever yet. But I am not preaching to reformers, therefore to you my Auditors I commend, and in the name of God may command, these three things careful­ly to bee looked unto by you, even in these times wherein the Lord doth dispose the spirits of Prince and Governours to a Reformation.

1 First, to your utmost abilitie, the preparati­on of the peoples hearts. For Jehoshaphat tooke not away the High places, because the people as yet had not prepared their hearts to seeke the Lord God of their fathers, 2 Chro. 20. 33. And your primest way for this is powerfull prayer.

2 Secondly, the strengthening of your owne, and their hands, whose hearts are prepared; the holding up, and out of your, and their courage, and zeale for reformation. For the weakening of the hands of the people of Judah, was a lon [...] [Page 21] stop to the perfecting of the Temple, Ezr. 4. 4. And lastly, And the surest way for this is to enter into a sure Covenant, the way is lead for us.

Thirdly, it must be your speciall care, that 3 you neither Idolize the Instruments of refor­mation, nor under-value them, or bring up an ill report of them. For the first branch; Wee our selves know, the Churches of Germany have had a sore checke from God, for too much con­fidence in manI have heard and read, that the Renow­ned King of Sweden I­tem'd so much unto them before his death.. When, whilst wee lay our pipes directly upon the Fountaine for derivati­on, we are sure to have our pipes full, if once we set the Cisterne in the Springs place, we are sure to find emptie vessels. This may bee an er­ror; But that which certainly is the error, is an undervaluing of the Instruments of Reformati­on. It is likely there are many Belials that mut­ter against Reformers now, as Sheba did of Da­vid, a Reformer of Israel, 2 Sam. 20. Wee have no part in David, neither have wee inheritance in the sonne of Jesse, every man to his Tents, O Israel. Some such base spirits no question wee have a­mongst us, whose hearts rise against Reformers of Church and State, and had rather every man, should walke by will in both, then by rule in either.

We shall observe it usually in Reformations in Scripture, the Devill hath stirred up Anti­reformers, whose designes have bin to contrive the disgrace, and basest esteeme of the Instru­ments of Reformation. Thus Korah and his [Page 22] company plotted amongst the people, to cast an aspersion upon Moses and Aaron, that they tooke too much upon them, Num. 16.

In Zerubbabels reformation Rehum the Chan­cellour, and Shimshai the Scribe, insinuated to the people; That Zerubbabel and Jeshua in their reformation, and restoring the Temple, wrong­ed the King, and Countrey, and signified as much to the King also by politique, but lying Letters, Ezra 4. And in Nehemiah's reformation Sanballet, and Tobia, enemies of the same spirit. When our Saviour was in reforming the state of the Church in his time, and preached against the errors, and superstitions of the Jewes, and their Church, then the high Priests and Scribes Et cetera, insinuated to the people, that Christ was but a Wine-bibbet, a companion of Pub­licans, and though he did strange things, yet the cast out Divels, by Beelzebub prince of Divels.

Beloved, as the case is with us, your cure must be great against carnall reason. For carnall reason might have disputed against Josiah's re­formation, he was but a Child, and medled also with the very rooting out of things, that his godly Ancestours left standing, both in state and Church. So carnall reason might have ob­jected more in Hezekiah's reformation; That he did not only pull downe the High places, set up by men, but the Brazen Serpent, formerly ap­ponted by God. And thus it may bee some men, if they conferre with carnall reason, may cavill at our present Reformers, As that they [Page 23] make themselves wiser then their Fathers, and remove things out of Church, and State, which their Predecessors found no fault with. And had they beene men of such spirits as these, so might the people have stumbled at Asa's taking away some things in his latter reformation, which he left in being in his former fifteene yeares be­fore, 2 Chro. 15.

My Brethren, I conclude with this Paralell, in this point, and I beseech you take it to heart. As those Israelites, that brought up an ill re­port of the Land of Canaan, whither Israel was going, were not only barr'd from comming thither, but dyed of the Plague in the Wilder­nesse, Numb. 14. So let those Cavellors against the Canaan, whither this Church of Christ is going, expect assuredly, that they shall never enjoy the sweetnesse of it.

And for a farewell word; If any feare, lest the enemy should hope, to strengthen them­selves, by seeing here, where our strength lyes. I must tell them, they feare where no feare is. For the mysteries of the Kingdome of Heaven, made knowne to us, are made Parables to them. And be confident in it; That God does never discover duty to us, to ensnare us, but to keepe us out of snares that are laid for us.


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