A Fast-Sermon, Preached to the LORDS IN THE High-Court of Parliament Assembled, On the Day of SOLEMN HUMILIATION for the continuing PESTILENCE, Octob. 3. 1666. And by their ORDER Published.

By GEORGE Lord Bishop of Chester.

London, Printed for Timothy Garthwait, 1666.

Psal. vii. 9.

O let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end, but establish the just.

THat our Plague-sick Land may be healed, That the destroying Angel after his slaughter of so many thou­sands and Ten thousands, may be bidden to return his Commission as sufficiently exe­cuted, This is the aim; and business of our solemn convention and posture of Humi­liation this day, a Humiliation, which as long as it hath been continued, I wish it were yet well begun, we are both called, and con­cerned to seek the face of our infinitely in­censed God; and we have answered, Thy face, Psal. 27.8. Lord, will we seek. But that we may seek him not in vain, we must seek him in earnest; and the holy Prophet is our ready Monitor,Isa. 21.12. If you will seek him, then seek; do it to pur­pose: And he seems, me thinks, to pull us on, whom he sees negligent and dilatory, Re­turn, [Page II] come, Isa. 21.12. seek him in earnest? But so we may, and yet in vain, if we seek him not in a right order: we know there was a breach of God upon his people once for this, That they sought him, 1 Chro. 15.13. but not in a due order: And cer­tainly, the right order of removing judgments is, a causa ad causatum; beginning with the cause; taking away that, that the effect may cease: That a fire may be put out, the fuel which feeds it, must be withdrawn, or well quenched: That there may be no foul wea­ther, there must be no condensed clouds, no foul vapours exhaled: That there may be no Plague to be deprecated, there must be no plague of the heart cherished, for there it be­gins,Psal. 60.2. That the sores and breaches of a Land under which it mourns and shakes, may be healed, the backslidings of that Land must be healed,Jer. 3.22. Here is a short course, and a sure issue; Let wickedness come to an end;—let pestilen­tial manners cease, and the pestilence hath no­thing to seize upon; Pray down the one, and you pray off the other. Now you see the Text is proper, natural, and right to our purpose; God make my sudden thoughts upon it as kindly operative upon all our hearts, [...],2 Tim. 1.13. healing, sound, wholsom words should be spoken by us at all times, but at such a time especially, that they may be medicinal and [Page III] preservative to drive away, to keep off infecti­on, to restore health to the daughter of Gods people, the cure is much in our selves, as the cause of the disease is altogether in us.

Wickedness to come to an end? This is not i­niquum petere, but is it not in auditum petere? Well might this be the option, the wish rather then prayer of David the good King; but the pre­diction of David the Prophet sure it could not be; For to what time could it be calcula­ted? or when should these things be? Not till there be a new Heaven, and a new Earth, a more pure, holy and happy age then ever yet was, and much less is like to be. Let the wickedness of the wicked come to its heighth, so as to reach up to Heaven; let the measure of iniquity be filled up, and running over; let the manners of men be so superla­tively and profligately vicious that they cannot be worse. If the Text had been thus, this age would bid fair for the fulfilling of it, but not otherwise; and to any one who will mea­sure the acceptableness and energy of a prayer, by the likelihood of its success and return, this looks like a prayer quite lost, and sounds like that strange Absolution which was pro­nounced over a great sinner, Deus tui misereatur si vult) & condonet (quod non credo.) But God forbid we should cast all those prayers as vain [Page IV] and unacceptable, which do not obtain their expressed effect: We pray in our Letany, That God would have mercy upon all men; We know he will not, or rather, in honour he cannot; yet it is a very acceptable piety, and duly exten­sive charity, to pray so; For would God have all men to be saved, and would not we? Is it a scruple to put as many into our prayers, as our Lord Christ did own dying for? Or are we afraid, lest the many prepared mansions in Heaven should be over-filled, though there were as many blessed Saints as Men? My prayer returned into my own bosom, (said this man af­ter Gods heart, Psal. 35.13.) such a return and reserve at least there is of every good mans Prayer, if it obtain no more; I do not say, this Prayer here did onely return into Davids bosom; I know the contrary, His enemies did feel the force of it.

And whoso looks into the occasion of this Psalm, and considers how it was with this best of Kings, and Men, will see particular urgent reason for this Prayer, That wickedness might come to an end; For was he not hard beset with inveterate, irreconcilable Enemies? with false, treacherous Friends? Of his Council, of his Houshold, of his own Loins? Plotters against his Person? Disturbers of the peace of his Kingdom? There was no end of the malig­nity, [Page V] nor like to be, unless the Divine Provi­dence would give a strange check and stop un­to it; therefore as if he did point at such par­ticular persons, (the perpetual thorns in his side) at Achitophel, (saith Theodoret, but there is no good synchronism in that) at Saul, (say Caje­tan and Lyranus) he devotes them to the Justice of God, and in their destruction assures and foretells his own establishment: It may be the unhappy Fate of the best of Princes, That all the most obliging graciousness of his Govern­ment, shall not endear him to ungracious Sub­jects; his Golden Scepter shall gain no more to his obedience, then the Iron Rod of a Usur­per did: Wickedness will still have its Attempts, and there is no security from them;Isaiah 7:4: smoaking Firebrands laid together, will be quickly ready to take fire, and set all in combustion; but as happy is, the issue may help all, That wicked­ness, shall come to an end; it shall be taken off, and shall not be able to hinder the establishment of his Throne; and that it may be so, prayer must be made to the righteous Punisher or Restrainer of the wicked, and establisher of the just, O let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end.

But what? do we find David here de­voutly cursing his Enemies on his knees? —Tantaene animis Coelestibus Irae? Consumet nunc malum impios, so the Interlinear. He wishes a [Page VI] present Consumption upon them, destruction upon them, (as the Chaldee) They who thus understand him, do suppose his aim to be onely at the more malicious, implacable Enemies of Gods Kingdom, and his, according to that o­ther passage of his,Psal. 59 5. Be not merciful, O God, unto them who offend of malicious wickedness, (to men of Saul's spirit.) But you may also (if you please) find some charity and tenderness ap­pearing through all that anger; for as elsewhere he said, Psal. 141.6. I will pray yet against their wickedness, or against their mischiefs, not against their persons; so here he doth no more: It is (if you observe) destructur malitia, not let them, but let their wickedness be destroy'd, and come to an end; and to confirm this, when David seem'd most exasperated, so that he could not contain from a Confundantur, Let them be confounded; yet he did not curse, but bless the men, even in that, as he interprets himself, Confound them (that is) in their imaginations; and Psal. 83.16. Let their faces be filled with shame, but eo consilio, that they may seek thy Name; as if he did strike pur­posely at their wickedness, and yet would save their persons if he could: And the charitable gloss which Sr. Basil puts upon this prayer of his, is, That they may repent of their wicked­ness, and be reclaimed, and not infect others. But how St. Austin, Jerom, and some others [Page VII] with them, primae Cerae, could think that David here look't as far as to the Jews, Crucifiers of Christ, praying, That they might accomplish their wickedness, and so hasten the accomplish­ment of the redemption of Mankind, I con­fess I am too purblind to see so far off: Well, in praying, O let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end. 1. This supposition is clear:

Wickedness (if let alone) will be intermi­nable and Infinite; there will be no end of the provocation, nor of the mischief of it.

2. Upon this the Inference will be strongly inforced, In Policy as well as in Piety; it should not be let alone, but provided against, and pray­ed against.

You have heard it often said by Divines, That every ungodly person sins in eterno suo; the passage was St. Gregory's, Justum ut qui in suo eter­no peccavit contra Deum, in Dei eterno puniatur: If the man we speak of, might live so long as his wickedness would live, and be continued, it would be to the days of Eternity; for so saith he again, Iniqui voluissent sine fine vivere, ut sine fine potuissent in iniquitatibus permanere: O God (cries out our holy Psalmist) shall the Enemy blaspheme thy Name for ever! for ever and ever­more; or for ever and yet (for so the He­brew loves to exaggerate) as if it would [...] a term of duration longer then eternity, in [Page VIII] that he implies, Let them alone, and they will cer­tainly blaspheme thy Name for ever.

Our Masters in the Metaphysicks do easily de­termine, Non dari actu Infinitum, That God him­self cannot make another Infinite; but if sin could be fitted with a subject to perpetuate it self in, it would prove the contrary; nay it doth also (it is no Paradox) prove an actual In­finity; For, when doth this leave a man? when it hath corrupted and worn out his miserable body, and brought him to the grave? Is this the last mischief of it? Alas no, the bad works as well as the good, do follow men into the o­ther world; the sin is as immortal as the soul which it hath polluted; and what but that in the guilty Conscience, becomes the gnawing worm that never dyes? As the torments of the damned can be no other then eternal, so are their sins also; they can no more cease to sin, then to suffer; Culpa quae est irreparabilis de se, ha­bet quod perpetuo duret, & ideo ei debetur paena eterna, (saith Aquinas.)

The petulant and ever-importunate nature of sin, how far it would be from giving over, and coming to an end, the daily practice of men gives Demonstration enough. As God said concerning those mad designing Babel-builders, Gen. 11, 16. This they begin to do, and now nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined [Page IX] to do: So may it be said of all other active sons of wickedness, As men begin to do, ac­cording to the visible wildness of their actings, nothing would be restrained from them, there would be no end of the mischiefs and confu­sions they would make. The Evil which is done, is with both hands, earnestly, Micah 7.3▪ as the Pro­phet most emphatically expresses the impiety. By the way, Why should not we put both our hands, as earnestly, (the strength of the Bra­chium Seculare added to our weaker Ecclesiasti­cal Coercions) to manacle and hamstring those mighty men in outragious wickedness, [...] who every where confront, not us, but God, being engaged in a continual and open Theomachy? In short, so far would ungodliness proceed, as the not bounded malignity of a Devil could set it on, until Heaven it self were turned into a Hell, I am quite confounded to think of it. It is vul­garly said of the Crocodile, That he knows no Maximum quod sic, he is alwayes growing bigger, and never comes to a certain pitch of Mon­strosity so long as he lives: Every habituated wicked man would (if he were let alone) be such a Monster, perpetually growing worse; for sin doth never cease from him, but he from that. There is a known expression in Scripture, Rom. 2. Treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath; doth not that import a perpetual labour of Cu­mulation, [Page X] and adding to the heap so long as the Divine Justice will permit? whence the Apostles [...],2 Tim. 3.6. mulieres peccatis cumulatas. We read of an Ephah going forth, a full measure of iniquity,Zach. 5.7. Joel 3.13. (by this token, A Woman was seen sitting in the midst of it) and of Fats so full that they overflow'd; I do not suppose such a full measure intimated there, that no more would be added, but no more is permitted to be added, the Actors being taken off. We read of Trans­gression sealed up in a bag, Job 14.17. and iniquity sowed up: That Seal is not put upon the bag, nor is it sown up by the transgressors themselves, but by the righteous God, whose wearied long-suffering cannot hold out to endure their transgressions a­ny longer; and it is so expressed, My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sowest up mine i­niquity; I acknowledg also the damning phrase of Fulfilling lusts, yet I do not think that ever any man did plenarily fulfil his lusts, so that they required no more service of him; that he could ask, [...], and supererogate this way; but that being wholly devoted to them, he doth his devoir, and spends himself in their service. For are lusts ever to be fulfill'd and sa­tiated? Come to particulars, I would know when Covetousness will think it self sufficiently crammed and served? That Daughter of the Horse leach crying always,Prov. 30.15. Give, give, certainly [Page XI] as soon will Hell and the Grave say, It is enough. Though a sordid avaricious wretch should sit brooding on his Bags to multiply them, though he could wallow among his heaps of Gold, and could grasp as much as his eye can reach, and would take the Devil to his word, as he is ready to do, All these things will I give thee, is it possible he should yet account himself full, and well-pleased? No, it is quite otherwise, The eye is not satisfied with seeing, 1 John 2.16. This [...] is never to be glutted. Sacriledge (whose mouth is an open Sepulchre) Would this ever leave swallowing up and devouring, while the Church hath any remaining Patrimony, God any house in the Land to be impropriated and taken into possession?

Will Lust think it hath had gratification enough, so long as there is any Marrow left in the bones? What God said by his Prophet, of the spiritual whoredom, is more experienced of the bodily;Ezek. 16.29. Thou hast multiplied thy Fornicati­ons, and yet thou art not satisfied.

VVhen will Schism sit down, as thinking it hath made the rupture wide enough in the Garment of Christ? Certainly not till it hath torn all into small pieces, so that Lots may be cast for it; not till the Church of God be all in fractions, quite dis-churched by it. There is without all question, an infinity of wickedness, [Page XII] of it self it would never come to an end.

VVhat then remains, but that it be shortned and cut off, that a Providential violence be u­sed upon it?Psal. 76. The fierceness of man shalt thou, O Lord, restrain; so the rage of mans wickedness shalt thou restrain. Thou who dost put a hook into the nostrils of the Leviathan, a bridle up­on the Sea, and saist, Hitherto shalt thou go, and no further, and here shall thy proud waves be stayed; Thou by the interposal of thy Mighty, Over-ruling, Coercive Power, canst, and wilt do this, which else will never be done.

Dissert. 4. [...].The ingenious Max. Tyrius hath a grave Dis­sertation of the [...], The many, and those everlasting Torrents of wick­edness, so multiplied, and so strong, that they might require, and puzzle many Oracles, ( [...] is his word) to tell men when there will be a stop of them; and no man (saith he) in my opinion, can be blamed for asking inquisitively this Question of the Oracle (the very Question of the Text) [...]? what the end of wickedness will be? or, whether there will be any end at all? To this (as he adds) Socrates could answer, as well as Apollo Pythius; and therefore did Apollo adopt and take him in as his Colleague and Assessor, — [...], because he had as good skill as himself: The only way that I know to [Page XIII] give an Oracular Answer to this Question, will be this; When iniquity is full ripe, and ready for vengeance, then it shall have an end; as when the Corn is ripe and yellow, the Sickle is called for,Joel 3.13. Put ye in the Sickle (saith God to his Reapers the destroying Angels) for the Harvest is ripe, for the wickedness is great. It was the sad greeting of unhappy Zedekiah—And thou— whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end. Ezek. 21.25. And when is that, in a full and proper sense, but when it hath passed all its gradual Acts, so that it is now consummate, perfected and com­pleated; [...],James 1.15. (as the Apostles word is) sin finished, and so the Sept. renders Davids sense here by a pregnant word [...], signi­fying both consumatur and consummetur, when it is got to its height, acting all the parts of an Imperial Usurper, being grown despotical and Absolute, Legislative and Imposing; and when the Dominion of it is so extended, that it is become National and Universal, so insolent, that it tramples and glories over all Laws of God and Men; so impudent, that it hath steel'd its forehead, and is openly shameless, boasting of its exploits; They declare their sin as Sodom, I [...]a 3 9. they hide it not: So wanton also, that it racks the brains of men to devise new modes of wild­ness: And indeed, to proceed Professors in Vice in the Devils Academies now, doth require [Page XIV] more Art and improv'd ingenuity in ungod­liness, then those duller and less studied sinners our fore-fathers, could attain unto. Simply to commit sin, in an ordinary vulgar way, is small demerit; but to search out iniquities, and to ac­complish a diligent search, Psal. 64.6. our holy Psalmist notes this as a proof of a fair advance of the De­vils Vertuosi. The Sept. have in an elegant kind of Reduplication exprest the industriousness of men more studiously wicked, by their resear­ches of new ways, and mysteries of iniquity, in that place, [...], but mens practice out-doth the ex­pression, they studying some more new, and formerly unknown ways of ungodliness, to ac­complish themselves, and as if a consultation had been had with the French, Italian, and all outlandish Devils, to advise us of all their se­veral Modes and Fashions of Vice, we are so good at following them, that indeed we are more compleat in them then our Patterns. And what? when the hearts of men are so full of im­piety, that they cannot contain from venting [...],James 1.21. the superfluity or overflowing of the gall of wickedness, in Atheistical droling scoffs at whatsoever is most Sacred, and to be trembled at; and our ears tingle to hear such high and frequent darings of Divine vengeance, that the most deeply damned in Hell could ne­ver [Page XV] be guilty of worse, when wickedness is come up to this heigth, Is it not near coming to an end? Wonder not if this be the cordo­lium of all who are faithful and sensible in the land; if it put them into the lamenting Pro­phet Jeremy's Iliaca passio, his fit of the Cho­lich, to cry out, My bowels, my bowels, Jer. 4.19. I am pained at my very heart, my heart maketh a noise in me, I cannot hold my peace:2 Pet. 2.8. It is enough (shall I say) to vex the soul of a righteous Lot? to make a zealously affected Ezra to rend his Garment, and his Mantle; to pluck off the hair of his head, and of his beard? Ezr 9 3. [...] Acts 17 16. To raise a Paro­xisme of grief and indignation in the holy Apostle? Yea, truly, to make the hearts of all good men to sink and die in them; to see how prodigiously lewd and impudent men are grown, since that most obliging mi­racle of our Restoration; Seneca declaimed sufficiently as he thought against the vices of his time, when he said—Certatur ingenti quodam nequitiae certamine, Men do play prizes in wick­edness; as if he were the gallantest man who could be most wicked: and Undique velut signo dato; that is the phrase of the Scripture too:Jer. 8 6. As the Horse rusheth into the battle upon the signal given, so do men fearlesly run upon the Pikes of divine wrath, through whatso­ever wickedness is before them. It was bad [Page XVI] when he observed such was the generality of all kind of Iniquity—Ut Innocentia non rara sit, sed nulla. He did there in effect cry out with our holy Psalmist,Psal. 12. Help, Lord, for the godly man ceaseth, the fidelities fail from among the Chil­dren of men, such also it seems was the pub­lickness and impudence of vice then—Ut sce­nam desiderent, They want onely (saith he) open Theaters, or Belconies to be seen acting their lewdness upon—Omnem omnino pudorem, &c. Mo­desty is put out of countenance; nay,—Adeo lupanar quoque verecundum est, a very Brothel house is modest in comparison. Tertullian thought he had complained enough (and he never wanted expressiveness) when he said—Delicti durior frons est, & ab ipso delicto impudentiam docto, &c. and when he taxed some of the other sex, calling them—Pudoris sui interemtrices, & infe­licissimas publicarum libidinum victimas; I am loth to English it. The holy Bishop and Martyr Cypri­an thought himself no doubt a sowre and severe Reprover when he complained to the Procon­sul of Africa that there was no shame of wicked­ness remaining;Cyprian ad De­metrianum. and men did so offend—Quasi per ipsa peccata placeatur, and so Salvian —Quasi liceat, quasi oporteat: but truly all those were soft and gentle redargutions, like old Eli's (Nay my sons) which Reverend Du Moulin call'd whip­ping them with Rosemary: they were not smart [Page XVII] enough for this Brawny Age; those Times brought forth but Punies and Pigmies in com­parison of our Anakims in wickedness: Now sure when it is come to such a formidable height, it is time for good men to be upon their knees, to pray that it may come to an end.

The general Concernment for this, is so great, that (interim ut fit) they being let alone, nothing could be imagined to follow, but the worst that can be imagined. We will dispute no longer in the Schools, whether sin be a meer Privation? Whether it hath any Positive Entity? Be it a privation, it is such a one as hath very real influxe, and is the efficient of most hor­rdi mischiefs, being enough to bring Heaven and Earth together.

Lord! what dismal and amazing changes will this make? What Elijah's powerful prayer did for the better, this will do for the worse; when there is a clear skye, like a Molten Look­ing-Glass, Job 37.18. (as it is most elegantly called) not a Cloud to be seen of the bigness of a mans hand, all on the sudden this shall overspread with black Clouds the whole face of the Hea­vens, and make a Meridian night, the Sun go­ing down at noon-day.

What effects will it not have upon Nature it self? upon every Element?

Upon the Air to corrupt and poyson it, till [Page XVIII] it become Pestilential, and make the breath we draw, and live by, the savour of death unto us, (our present case and complaint.)

Upon the Earth, to make it quake under the Inhabitants, or open its mouth to swallow them up.

Upon the Water, to make such an opening of the Windows of Heaven, and the Fountains of the deep, as shall let in a Deluge to drown a world.

Upon the Seasons of the Year, to make them so unkindly and interfering one with another, as if Nature had quite forgot it self.

Upon the Soyle, making a fruitful Land barren.

Upon the very Name of a People, changing it from Ammi, to Loammi; as it changed Pa­shur's Name to Magor Missabib, of which Da­vid was the Interpreter, Fear on every side; was it his Name?Psal. 31.13. or is it not ours?

Upon Cities; O thou Enemy, thou hast destroyed Cities;Psal. 9.6. their memorial is perished with them: [...] is a terrible word, importing plucking up by the roots, utter destruction—ipsae periêre ruinae, and so that their memorial is perished with them, unless it be in the Stories of their ruine, there are no remainders of them; nay, there is more also in it, if the Seventy did not mistake; for they read [...] with a sound; The ruine [Page XIX] is so made, that the World rings of it.

Upon a Church, what disorders will it not bring?Psal. 78.49. what evil Angels or Asmodei will it not send? the raisers of all our storms, the Authors and Fomenters of all our intestine Divisions, Factions and Schisms; the setters of all the Close Juncto's for the carrying on of endless Commotions.

And now if such a world of mischiefs as I cannot name, do follow upon wickedness, and that also is so far from coming to an end; what shall I say or think of our condition?

We will give glory to God this day, though to the confusion of our own faces: It was time for thee, Lord, to lay to thine hand, to take hold of Vengeance, to spend thine arrows up­on us, as thou didst once threaten, Deut. 32.23. I will spend my Arrows upon them; and didst bid the Archers to spare no arrows against Babylon, Jer. 50.14. to shoot at her, for she hath sinned against the Lord. One of those arrows (the first commonly of the three which God makes use of) and of which we have frequent mention, (Warre) hath been not onely upon the string, but drawn and shot, so that it sticks still in us, and— ( [...] God onely knows, who is the Lord of Hosts, and great Arbiter of War, what the issue will be. As happily as we have been engaged against our Enemies, being blessed [Page XX] with glorious Successes (under an excellent Conduct:) The Apostles counsel is good and proper for us, Be not high-minded, but fear. The Alternations of the success of VVar, have been every Ages Experiences; Homer's— [...], and his— [...], was not more elegant than certain.

And suppose the best, I cannot but sadly think, what a lost labour, what a damp we may put upon all those most hazardous and valiant Engagements of our Friends at Sea, if while they do their work to the heighth of our wishes and prayers, making themselves formi­dable to the flying Enemy, we being at such an unhappy distance from God by our unrepented wickedness, do seem to enter prohibitions in heaven against our enjoyment of our Successes, Alas! what is it to prosper and prevail at Sea, where the Righteousness of our Cause (in the hands of our just God to whom we appealed) makes us Victors, if in the mean time the un­righteousness of our persons and practices do so continue to provoke God by Land, that he cannot but set his face against us, and break out upon us? We may possibly still beat and Ma­ster them, but God, I am sure, will be too hard for us; they may flee before us one way, but we may be put to flee, if we could, from Gods wrath seven ways; we may be potent abroad, [Page XXI] but feeble and undone at home; God give us hearts to consider it.

The other poysoned Arrow of Pestilence, is that which we now sigh and groan under, which fires our blood, and kills us, —Haeret lateri lethalis arundo: How this hath flown by day and night, on this hand of us, and on that, lighting a little short of us, and beyond us; how it hath never missed its mark, though it could never glance aside to hit any but its mark; Thousands have faln beside us, Psal. 91.7. and ten thou­sand at our right hands, Our hearts do yet bleed with the thought of it; the perpetual doleful Passing-Bells both day and night in your ears who continued here during the heat of the Con­tagion, did (I am afraid) make Death too fa­miliar to you, so that you have ever since less regarded and consider'd it; it being perhaps with you, as it is with the Birds which Nest in your Steeples, so used to the noise of Bells rung by them, that they hear them not Alas! how did people fall then by the righteous, but dread­ful hand of God, as leaves beaten down by a vehemet wind? such heaps upon heaps, that it might be reasonably hoped, the force of this deadly Arrow was spent, and it had done its worst; it was suspended at least, and superse­ded by that late dreadful Calamity of our Mo­ther City; then one Rod of God swallowed [Page XXII] up another; A strange Cure and Remedy of that Disease was brought by a more fearful Judgment: Fires had been formerly made in the Streets of the City, to purge the Contagi­ous air; but here the activity of the fire upon, and within the houses, was most unhappily over experimented; as if like that old fretting Plague of Leprosie, Levit 14.45. when it was so got into the house, that it was spread in the walls, and no scraping of it within and without could cleanse it, there was no cure but demolition, all the Stones and Timber were to be pulled down. So it seemed here, as if there had been no other way to free and prevent infected houses, but by firing and destroying them; the labour was then saved of shutting up the doors of the in­fected, and setting the Red Cross upon them, the Red Cross was all-over; and that which o­pen'd the Prisons, and (without fear of an In­dictment either of a Rescue, a Riot, or Burgla­ry) did give a Liberate to poor unresponsible Prisoners of Debt, yea, to Malefactors also, that would not do less for Gods Prisoners, who were shut up for the Pestilence. I would not anticipate any thing of the Work of the ap­proaching Fast Day for that Astonishing Conflagra­tion. But how can I forbear to drop some tears as I pass, to weep over this our Mother-City, as our great Example our Lord and Saviour did o­ver Jerusalem.

[Page XXIII]Lord! What an incredible change have three days made of the Metropolis of England, and most famous Emporium of Christendom? It might be said, but a few days since, as, Walk about Sion, and go round about her; Psal. 48 13. tell the Towers thereof, mark ye well her Bulwarks; Con­sider her Palaces: See and observe O ye Tra­vellers, the stateliness and convenience of the Halls of her several Companies, the comeliness of her many Churches, the libe­ral accommodation of her Hospitals, the ful­ness of her rich Shops and Warehouses, the Royalness of her Exchange; and is all this glory so suddenly confounded and buried in a common ruine? a new sad comment upon that word which was threatned to proud Wo­men, not Cities, Burning, instead of Beauty; Isa. 3.24. no­thing remaining but a strange maze and laby­rinth of naked Steeples, useless Chimneys and pitiful fragments of ragged Walls, amidst per­petual heaps of Ashes, Stones and Rubbish; We have here no continuing City (said the Apostle;Heb. 13.14.) Now we find it so indeed; Forgive this little turning aside, to see that sad sight; we hoped, I say, that the force of this deadly arrow of Pe­stilence had been spent, and (blessed be the good hand that sent it forth) it is not so fatal, so hot, and formidable now in this place, as when Moses said, Go quickly, take a Cencer, Numb. 16.6▪ and [Page XXIV] make an Atonement, stand between the living and the dead. But how it hath diffused its venome in many parts abroad—Telum volat, & incan­descit eundo; What a circulation it may make, and how long it may be, before both the Head and Body of the Kingdom may be sound and whole? or whether ever it shall recover? is worth our solicitous thoughts, and the pro­pitiating of our angry God, is our great and present concernment. But suppose the best here also, That our supplication this day is heard on high, Take away this plague onely, Are we ever the more secure from after judgments of some other kind? Do we not know, that God hath many other Arrows in his Quiver, as quickly to be drawn? Many other ways to ease and avenge himself of his Adversaries? Great plagues remain to the ungodly; great both for weight and variety,Psal. 32.10. [...] is plural; many plagues, or sorrows. In the hand of the Lord is a Cup, and the wine is red, it is full of mixture, &c. A bitter composition of many deadly ingredients, and the Dregs of this are reserved, you are told for whom; The wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them. Not some one great Fluctus decumanus onely, but all God's waves and bil­lows shall go over them; and in conclusion, the evil of men (which will be sure to find them out) shall inevitably pursue them to [Page XXV] their fearful end, if they use not a timely Pro­lepsis, to bring that to an end, and break it off by Righteousness.

Now I know, I should not need to make use of any other Rhetorick to deterre Impenitents from their sinful course, than those many an­gry and judicial passages in Scripture, though sounding like so many Tolerations and Licen­ses; as wherein they are bidden to go on, and fill up their measure, He that is unjust, Prov. 22.11 let him be unjust still; and he who is filthy, let him be filthy still, ( [...]) still so, and still more so; let the grinders of the faces of the poor, still keep their Mill going; let extorting corrupt Officers go on to pluck off the skin from their indigent suf­fering fellow subjects,M [...]cah 3.2. and the flesh from off their bones; Our Daemone Daemoniores, God-damn-me Miscreants may proceed in their affrighting Hellish Rantings; all the various uncontrol­led (and in former ages unexampled) wicked­ness must come to an end, Damnation (which slumbreth not, will much less sleep away from them whose proper portion it is; it shall, I am sure, at last, though not presently, overtake them. The Greeks used to say, — [...], God is not hasty to animad­vert, so as to punish the provocations of men; and we cannot say he hath been quick with us in the Judgments now upon us, he had waited [Page XXVI] long enough for our repentance, and given us many fair warnings before his answering by fire in that dreadful manner; but though his wrath be slow-footed, it is heavy-handed, —Tum gravior, cum tarda venit, Men may be re­prieved and respited for a while, but how is that?Psal. 94.13. Until the pit be digged up for the ungodly; they may frolick and dance jovially upon the brink of that bottomless pit, but their foot shall slide in due time, Deut. 32.35. for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste: What was said of a son of vio­lence,Prov. 28.17. he shall flee to the pit, let no man stay him, will be the infallible fate of all other impenitent trespassers of the Divine Justice: But though by that Justice thus provoked, and sure to be re­vealed, I may menace and dare men to conti­nue in their course at their utmost peril, yet I would much rather use a softer and more inge­nious way, thus therefore:

If there were no such Judgment in the way to be seen or fear'd, as this which we now de­plore;Isa. 14.23. no such Besom of Destruction (the Plague is most properly call'd so, making clean work, depopulating and sweeping away whole Streets and Cities) if this were quite laid aside as use­less; if this Rod were not held over us, as it is; or if it had no voice to preach Repentance to us, and we were not required now especially [Page XXVII] to hear it, Hear ye the Rod, Micah 6.9. and who hath appointed it, [...] was Sophocles his known Epi­thet, and the Plague is more peculiarly so,Numb. 16 46. cal­led therefore wrath from the Lord; and [...] the word for the destroying Pestilence, some will needs fetch from [...] locutus est, this being the loud-speaking word from heaven of Gods wrath against men. If God had no particu­lar nor National Controversie (as our guilty hearts do smite and tell us he hath a great Con­troversie with us;) if that (which is the long­ing and prayer of all good people) an honora­ble, well-condition'd, and well-setled Peace were concluded (which is now so far off, that it is not within our prospect;) if this our Jeru­salem were established and made again the praise of the Earth for outward splendor and prospe­rity: In short, if all were well with us, and no Temporal inforcement lay upon us to become penitent and religious; yet that all such wic­kedness as is now in fashion, should come to an end, and resolutions should be taken up to this purpose, I humbly offer to your thoughts upon this onely consideration, and in this onely name, because it is the wickedness of the wicked; for what is not imported in that? Enmity a­gainst God, deicidium (in will, though not in effect:) What but this is the great make-bate between God and his people? The disquieter, [Page XXVIII] as I may say, and griever of his Spirit? That which makes him humanum pati, to be affected, filled (modo puriori) with hatred, with jealou­sie, not onely smoaking, but burning like fire: That which provokes him to have recourse to his full Magazine of Weapons of Warre, his sharpned, furbished, and glittering Sword, his Battle-axe, his Rod of Iron, his Threshing-Instrument with teeth, his Wine­press, his hot Thunder-bolts; That which makes him press his Stars to fight in their cour­ses,I [...]a. 28.21. which puts him upon strange work, (the work of Judgment is so) and will not suffer him (without most unsufferable trespasses upon the Honour of his Justice and Righteousness) to keep his right hand in his bosome,Psal. 74.11. to for­bear smiting and punishing; Do not I hate them, O God, which hate thee? Should not I set against that (with all animosity) which sets so hard a­gainst thee, and makes thee set thy face so se­verely against men? None who now hear me, (if the whole Nation could be supposed with­in hearing) but should take up this Resolution.

But in a more particular manner, You the [...], the Peers of the Kingdom to whom I am called to speak, should take it to heart: You well know, the due Honour of your No­bility cannot priviledg or exempt you from the common Obligation and Law of Religion, [Page XIX] no more then it can from common Judgments; your houses may be entred by a Pestilence, or a Fire, as soon as others: And need I be your Monitor, That the greater your Persons and Honours are, the more pressing is your obligati­on to be Religious, because your Examples are more leading, and imperative, and influ­ential; The City-houses were not more catch­ing of the flames from one another, than your Inferiors are, and will be, of any Exorbitan­cies which they can see in you. And what is it that Illustrates and Ennobles your Nobility it self, making you to shine more gloriously and more serviceably to God and the King, but Piety and Religion; Religion, I say, not made your umbrage or praetext, nor your diversion and entertainment of leasure hours, but your great work and business. You have a Proverb, (I wish there were no worse going) Bonus sanguis non mentitur: O let it appear so by your vertuous and honorable actions answering the Nobility of your Blood; That you who are [...], (that was your Name in Athens) should [...], (a rich and noble word in Homer) ever contend to excel in what is most excellent and laudable: You who are Optimates, should be Optimi, the Best wheresoever you are, is so necessary and essential to your high Quality, that it will make a Solaecisme and contradiction [Page XXX] to be otherwise; As therefore you will not en­dure any filthy spots upon your Robes of Ho­nour, upon your Stars, your Coronets, your Escutchions, disdaining any thing that can leave a stain and blemish upon your Names and Families; so generously detest and abominate any thing which hath the Name of wickedness named upon it. Take heed also, I beseech you, of the iniquity of your Heels (your Attendants) that it compass you not about.

We are cast to live (wo the while) in the ve­ry dregs of Time; The world lyeth (rather is steep­ed) in wickedness, was never so demonstrated a Truth as now: But Tu ne cede malis, is a good Reserve of holy Wisdom. If we cannot make others better, yet to be sure—hic murus abaeneus, that they make not us worse.

To stem, and set vigorously against the stream of high-swelling and over-bearing wic­kedness, is a proof of Noble Christian strength; To be Vertuous and Religious, Chast and Pure, Regular and Exemplary, (even in this Generation) when it is so much the Fashion to be otherwise; This will be true singular honour, fit to be upon Sacred Record; and if your Faces shine not here among men, yet you shall assuredly shine as Stars in the Firmament among the Blessed An­gels hereafter: Which God grant unto you all; To whom be all Glory, and Honour, and true Obedience now and for ever. Amen.


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