Vmbra viri facies haec, est Surgentis in altum
Effigiem melius pagina culta dabit,
Ingentes animae superant virtutibus
Artem Vostermanne tuam, vel, Titiane tuam.


Delivered in a Sermon Preach'd in St. Paul's Church LONDON, in the mid'st of our late Sore VISITATION.

By Rich. Kingston M. A. and Preacher at St. James Clerken-well.

Numb. 16.46. There is wrath gone out from the Lord, and the Plague is begun.
Numb. 16.48. And Aaron stood between the Living and the Dead, and the Plague was stayed.

LONDON, Printed by W. G. for Edw. Brewster at the Crane in St. Pauls Church-yard. 1665.

To the Right Honourable Sir JOHN KEELING Knight and Baronet, Lord Chief Justice of ENGLAND.

Right Honourable,

WHen I lift mine Eyes from the low and hum­ble valley of my obscure fortunes, to that bright shining and Eminent hill of Honour, on which the Favour of His Majesty, the Nobleness of Birth, and your many Excel­lent Virtues have seated you; I cannot but lay a sharp and rigorous Censure upon my own [Page] Presumption, that I, so much a stranger to your Lordship, should thus boldly adventure to press into your presence, and to crave your Honourable Patronage of so mean a Work; but when your Honour is pleas'd to consider that Di­vine Truth's are Subjects worthy of acceptation, though presented in an Earthen Ves­sel; and David's comfort (in rescuing his Wives, and reco­vering the spoils from the Amalekites) was no whit the smaller, although a young man of Egypt made way for [Page] the discovery. I hope to obtain (what I humbly beg) your Honours Pardon.

My Lord, this Sermon was Compos'd and Preach'd in the very height of our late dread­ful Visitation, when Thou­sands dy'd on our right hand, and Ten Thousand on our left; at which time my imployment by day was visiting the Sick, and by night burying the Dead; having no time allowed for study but what I extracted from my natural rest which may make this Tract more guilty of failings than at [Page] another time; my humble re­quest therefore to your Lord­ship is, that you would be pleased to lay the finger of a charitable construction upon the Scar of my imperfection, and favourably accept this first fruit of my labours. So in all humility imploring the God of Majesty and Mercy to Sanctifie your Heart, Rectifie your Hand, Justifie your Soul, and lastly Crown your Head with eternal Glory; I take the honour to Subscribe my self,

Your Lordships daily Oratour Rich. Kingston.

To the Right Worshipful Joseph Ayloff and George Walsh Esquires, two of his Majesties Justices of the Peace for the County of Middlesex. And to the Worshipful Henry Dacres and William Cole Esquires; as also to his much respected friend Mr. Henry Knight, R. K. wisheth the dew of Heaven and the fatness of the Earth.

Right Worshipful,

TUtelar Angels are a controverted Theme amongst Schoolmen, but the favourable influ­ence of a just defence from your Worships, hath been an unquestionable matter of my experience: which tran­scendent favours, if buried [Page] in Oblivion, would be an high impeachment of vera­city; and not to acknow­ledge them, having this oc­casion, could plead for no distance, from down-right sordidness and plain Ingra­titude.

The Work is too small, and the Author too mean to equalize your worth, or merit your Patronage; only 'tis the height of my Ambi­tion to let the world know that your favours (which as far excel my deserts as my power to retaliate) have [Page] not been bestowed on an ungrateful Servant. I am not ignorant, that cunning Bezaliahs and Aholiahs may carve and pollish the Tem­ple, yet I am glad that I can but lay one little stone: though men of brighter Souls bring their Gold and Jewels to it, yet I hope God will accept of my young Pigeons and Turtle Doves. I may say with St. Peter, Silver and Gold have I none, but what I have I give you; in all humility beseeching you to consider my years, [Page] which are but few, and the time I had, which was but short, and my many other sad occasions, wherewith in the mean time I was interrupted; and then ac­cept of this for tryal, as if it were the extract of some purer and better wit. The Lord prosper your days, direct your hearts, and bless all your undertakings, to the glory of his Name, and your own eternal felicitie: So ever Prayeth

Your Worships in all Duty and Service Rich. Kingston.

To the Church-Wardens of the Parish of St. James Clerken-Well for the time being, and to the rest of the Officers and Inhabi­tants of the same Parish: R. K. Wisheth health and happiness in this life, and Eternal blessedness in that to come.

Loving Friends,

IT pleased the wise Dispo­ser of all things, to cast my lot among you in one of the most dreadful Vi­sitations that ever Eng­land knew, when the black Horse of the Pestilence, with Pale Death on his back, pranc'd our Streets at Noon day, and Midnight; at which dreadful (and never to be forgotten) time our sense of Seeing was [Page] well-nigh glutted with beholding the sight of our Diseased and Deceased Friends, enough to have extinguish'd the optick faculty.

No Papers then over our Dores were set
With Chambers ready furnish'd to be Let;
But a sad Lord have mercy upon us, and
A Bloody Cross, as fatal marks did stand
Presaging th' noisome Pestilence within,
Was come to take revenge of us for Sin.

And as our Eyes might well be dim'd so might our Ears be deaf'd with the doleful cryes of the Poor, for Food to keep them from Starving; of the Sick, for Physick to keep them from Dying; and of them that were Marked, for Spi­ritual helps to preserve them from Perishing.

We well might hear of Death there was such plenty,
One Bell at once, was fain to Ring for twenty:
No Clocks were heard to strike upon their Bells,
Cause nothing Rung, but Death-lamenting knells.

[Page]Which dreadful noises so terrified some, and affrighted all, that men knew not what course to steer to pre­serve themselves from this wounding shaft.

Some by their fear to go to Church deburr'd,
Anon are carri'd Dead into the Yard:
And Churches new with too much Burial fed,
Fear'd they should have no meeting but of Dead▪

This Poyson'd Arrow of the Pestilence (especially when it was first foot among us) wounded so suddenly and sharply, that we could scarce be resolved whether 'twas Sickness or Death it self that assaulted us; for many lying down to repose in the Evening, made their sleep true kin to Death, by dying before the Morning.

—Ah who would then defer
A preparation for this messenger!

But not to detain you longer with a large Epistle to a little Book, be pleas'd to accept thereof as a Testi­mony [Page] of my sincere love to you, which shall always be accompanied with my hearty Prayers for you, that our mer­ciful God would be pleas'd to with­draw his Sin-revenging Scourge, which is still amongst us, and charge his Angels to guard your persons from future dangers; and give you his holy Spirit to guide your Souls in the Path of Holiness here, and bring you to the Palace of Happiness hereafter.

So prayeth The earnest desirer of your Souls welfare Rich. Kingston.


2 Chron. cap. 7. v. 13, 14.

—If I send Pestilence among my people.

If my people which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways: Then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their Sin, and will heal their Land.

GOD, that from all Eter­nity was happy in him­self, created the World and Man the most glorious part [Page 2] of it, not out of necessity, but a diffusive Goodness, by which he would have some Beeings repre­sent his Supremacy, and receive the Style of the Sons of the most High. Other Artificers either out of Ambition or Profit, transmit to the World their Skill and Knowledge, only He (induced by a charity propor­tionable to his own Nature) re­solved to bring light out of dark­ness, and constitute a Lieute­nant upon Earth that should largely speak the grandeur of his Maker. Thus Adam sprung bright and glorious out of the Chaos, imbued with those per­fections which We (his poste­rity) since his transgression can never hope for. His Patrimony [Page 3] was large, and he might have left it to his Heirs, who now by sad experience find, that he not only became bankrupt him­self, but entayled his misery up­on them. He came into the World its Lord and Master, and left his children Peasants and Vassals; and the truth is, with so much unhappy fertility they have improved his Crime, that being but one at first, the Eating the forbidden Fruit, it's now become infinite, and able to puz­zle the Arithmetick of Angels. Upon this score one might justly wonder that God should say, IF I send the Pestilence amongst my People. If is a Word of Uncer­tainty, and argues an irresolu­tion: One would rather have [Page 4] expected the Lord should have sworn by himself, that since this Darling, this Pe [...]ker of his divine Excellencies, will ever be abasing them, and choose rather the Livery of the Devil, than that beautiful Vest of Inno­cence, with which he came clo­thed into Paradice, that there­fore he would send his Plenipo­tentiary the Plague, and without compassion cut off his Favourite. But by this doubtful way of Ex­pression, we are taught how un­willing he is to give his justice a full draught, which he will and must do where Impenitency stops the Progress of his Mercy. The Heathen could say,Val. Max. Lento gradu ad vindictam sui divina pro­cedit ira, tarditatemque supplicii [Page 5] gravitate compensat. We shall find this Truth cleer, if we consi­der the Series of his proceed­ings against Sin. Adam no sooner sins, but is whipp'd out of Eden. Cain kills his brother, and becoms a Fugitive. Sodom grows luxu­rious and burns with un-natural Lusts, and fire descends from heaven to extinguish those hellish flames. Jerusalem, a City grac'd with more privileges than any in the World, as being the place in which God would have his name in a more particular man­ner called upon; the Seat of the Temple, and the Metropolis of that Nation which he owned above all others; Jerusalem, I say, that heard the Prophets, yea Christ himself preach, and saw his Mi­racles, [Page 6] is now, for her Sins no­thing but a heap of Rubbish; and as Adrichomius observes, One may seek Jerusalem in Jeru­salem and not find her. The Eastern Church, whose coura­grous Martyrs, whose General Councels, whose Prelates (those burning and shining lights) are so highly celebrated, is now for her Arrian Heresie and other Sins with which she abounded, en­slaved under the Turkish Yoke, and hourly tormented with the Impieties of the Impostor Maho­met. Neither can We of the Latin-Church here in Europe, say our Sins have been hid, and Divine Justice as it were asleep during their Committing. In what a field of Miseries hath the [Page 7] whole German Empire been this last Century? Nay, if we have a mind to look nigher home, what a calamitous Scene can Great Britain and Ireland show you for twenty years, where ful­ness of Bread and a long Peace, begot stiff Necks and obdurate hearts; and these pull'd down the former, and this present destruction: so that We may well conclude, that there is no Nation or Countrey so graced with privileges, so crowned with blessings, and so beloved by God, but Sin will beget a deadly quarrel between them, and cause the Subversion of the most flou­rishing States and Empires. Let the Epicure ascribe the alterati­ons unto Fortune; the Stoick to [Page 8] Fate; Plato and Pythagoras, with the learned Statesman Bodin, to Number; Aristotle to a Sym­metry or Disproportion; Coper­nicus to the Motion of the Cen­tre; and Cardane, with the Gene­rality of Astrologers, to the Malig­nant Influence of the Errattick Stars. We that have bin otherwise built up in the most Holy Faith, are taught by the Divine Oracles that Sin only causes this Controver­sie between God and Man, and therefore whilest they (like Ixion in the Fable) embrace on­ly a Cloud of palbable darkness instead of the Juno of bright and clear Truth, let us, since we know the True cause of Gods wrath, endevour to avoid it by newness of life, which is holy­ness [Page 9] in the Inward Man. And in­deed it is but fit if we will offend, that God should right himself.

—Nec enim Lex aequior ulla est,
Quam necis Artifices Arte perire sua.

We have Sinned, and God justly strikes our heads with gid­diness, drawes paleness on our faces, and dyes our Skins with purple. The Prophet Amos saith,C. 4. v. 10. God sent the Pestilence among the Israelites after the manner of Aegypt, and he hath now sent the Plague amongst the English after the manner of Israel. Is­rael's Calamity in the time of King David, is England's Case in the Reign of King Charles.

—Facta est narratio de te
Anglia mutato nomine cum numero.

[Page 10]Change but the Names of the Countrey with the Circuit, to­gether with the time that Plague lasted, and the number of peo- it consumed in that space, and we are parallel; Repentance was their only Balsam, and it must be ours, for as the great Bishop of Hippo sayes,St. August. ‘Mutet vitam qui vult accipere vitam.’ We must by resolution of better obedience, blunt the Edge of that Sword that causes so great a Mortality amongst us.

And thus I come to the words of my Text, If I send the Pesti­lence amongst my people. In which Words we have a Gracious pro­mise of God unto his Church, or [Page 11] a direct Answer to Solomon's Pray­er which he made at the finish­ing of the Temple, assuring Pe­nitent Souls, that if they turn from the Evil of their ways, he will turn from the Evil of his wrath, and free them from de­struction; I will hear from heaven and forgive their Sins. Where we may observe four particulars;

First, a Disease, the Pesti­lence; si miserò Pestilentiam in Po­pulum meum.

Secondly, The Cause of the Disease, Sin; implyed in these words, and turn from their wicked ways.

Thirdly, The Medicine to be used, which is Compoun­ded of three Ingredients.

  • [Page 12]1. Humility.
  • 2. Prayer.
  • 3. Repentance.

Fourthly, The Physician pre­scribing this Medicine, God. I will hear from heaven, &c.

I begin with the Disease, of which I need say but little, since it speaks so much for it self. But something I must say, lest I seem to pass that over that passeth by few in a house or City where it comes. The word is some­times rendred Pestilence, and sometimes Plague; from the La­tine word Plaga, which signi­fies a Stroke: but by reason of the Streightness of our English [Page 13] Tongue, they are promiscuously taken. The Plague in other Languages extends further, and notes any extraordinary Stroke that comes from God; the Pro­phets under that Word contain these four, Famine, Pestilence, Wild Beasts, and the Sword; which per eminentiam, are called the four plagues of God. 'Tis true, God creates every thing, both light and darkness, Isa 45.7. good and evil, as the Prophet speaks; but because Strokes, if they be pri­vate, particular, or ordinary, have no great operation on us; we observe their second, and not their first causes, and so we nei­ther reverence God's Justice, nor discern his hand, nor fear his pow­er: Upon this Score, when mens [Page 14] sins cry aloud, and (peircing the Heavens) mount to the very throne of God; it is fit likewise that God's loud Justice should peirce the heavens,Heb. 1.21. descend up­on man, and like the voice of Sinai, make poor mortals quake and fear. The plague is a Stroke able to extort from any man the confession of Pharaoh's Enchan­ters,Ex. 8.19. This is the Finger of God; It's an Arrow of his own shooting, 2 Sam. 24.15. and may better be called Morbus Sacer, then the Falling Sickness. And therefore in our Language we style the Pestilence the Visita­tion of God, and the Tokens thereof God's Marks, and upon our Dores write LORD HAVE MERCY ƲPON ƲS: By which we clearly confess, whilest the [Page 15] Angel executeth divine wrath, we all stand at God's Mercy.

And thus I come from the Disease it self to the Cause of it, which is God's anger, enflamed by Sin. I know there are some, that following the Sentiments of Physicians, will needs ascribe it to the Infection of the Aire, to gross and unwholsome Diet, or to the predominancy of corrupt hu­mours: But Physicians may be excused if they say something when they see an Angel. As I will not deny but in all Diseases there may be something of natu­ral, so I may likewise affirm, there is in this something divine and above nature.

[Page 16]1. For the natural part.

First, The Infected Aire may contribute very much, and therefore we read that by casting the Ashes of the Furnace towards heaven, Ex. 9.8. the Aire became Infected, and the plague of Botches and Blains spread it self over Aegypt.

Secondly, Corrupt humours may do the like, for to them doth King David ascribe the cause of his Malady, when he complains that his Moisture in him was corrupt, Psal. 32.4. dryed up and turned into the drought of Summer.

Thirdly, The contagion come­ing from the Sick. Thus we see by the Jewish Law, the Leprous person for fear of Infecting others was commanded to cry aloud Ʋnclean, Lev. 13.45, 46, 52. Ʋnclean; by which [Page 17] he gave the Sound warning they should not approch nigh for fear of Contagion. He was besides to have his dwelling alone; and the garments he wore, were to be washed, and if the plague was spread in them, the Priest was to burn them. Yea, the very house walls in which the Leper dwelt were to be scraped, and in some cases the house it self to be pulled down.

The Learned Fernelius more judiciously confesses this Disease hath a hidden beginning, some secret principle that occultly wounds; and we may assure our selves, that though things ab extrâ contribute to its progression, yet the real cause is the latent Corruption within us.

[Page 18]
Sir Tho. More Epigr.
Nugamur mortem (que) procul, procul, esse putamus,
At mediis latet haec abdita visceribus.

But let us come to the super­natural Cause of this Disease, and that will not require a Phy­sician so much as a Divine: And I suppose many of them think it a difficult point, that they go into the Country to study it, and by their absence expound S. Paul's words thus, We preach not our selves, i. e. our Curates (or who else will) preach for us. But to the supernatural Cause, the Scripture observes it as a crime in King Asa, that in the time of his Sickness he look'd more after the Physician than after God. He did not consider the Infirmity of his Soul was to be healed as well as that of his body, and there­fore [Page 19] look'd for natural remedies only. But if we would avoid his fault, we must acknowledge the hand of God in this Sickness, and something above nature. For if we observe the way of inflict­ing it, we shall find it oftentimes done by Spirits: Thus we see an Angel, a destroying Angel in the plague of Aegypt, Exod. 12.13. Another in the plague that de­stroyed the host of the Assyrians under Senacherib: We find a third in the plague at Jerusalem under King David, and St. John in the Revelations brings in a fourth pouring his Vial upon Earth,Rev. 16.2. and there fell a noisome plague upon Man and Beast. So that God is the great Agent in this Ca­lamity. But how? Not willingly, [Page 20] his anger must first be enkindled by our Sin; for as the Psalmist saith,Psal. 106. They provoked him to anger with their Inventions, and then the plague brake in amongst them. Thus Deut. 28.21. God says, Because of the wickedness of thy doing, whereby thou hast forsaken me, the Lord shall make the Pesti­lence cleave unto thee. And Ho­sea cries,Hos. 14.6. O Israel return unto the Lord thy God, for thou hast fallen by thine Iniquity! The perdidit te in the Prophet doth not proceed from neighbours become Enemies, or from the Locust, Caterpiller, Mildews, and such other things, as cause Famine and Pestilence; but from the corruption and Sin hatch'd in these Israelites; and therefore in the second verse he [Page 21] counsels them as the only way to recover their former happi­ness, to Take with them words and turn to the Lord, and say un­to him, take away all Iniquity, and receive us graciously. So that sin which is the plague of the Soul, begets the Plague of the Body. This viperous Mother brings forth a child so like it self, that it's hard to know the one for the other. I shall shew you in a few particulars their Similitude and Agreement.

First, They are alike in Na­ture: The Corporeal Pestilence aims not at the more ignoble parts of the body, but at the very Source of Life, the vital Spi­rits, and by its contagious quality oppresses them: The like doth [Page 22] Sin by its secret Malignancy to the Soul. It blinds the understand­ing, corrupts the Will, and so poisons all our Intellectual faculties that we cannot see the light of Faith, or ardently love God, or do any other Act that may speak us living Christians, and in a State of Grace.

Secondly, They are alike in their Infection; The reason why we shut people up that are Infe­cted, and avoid their Company, is, because they easily commu­nicate their Disease, to those that are in health; it is so with sin, it insensibly creeps upon us. The often seeing wicked men re­peat their crimes, first takes from us the hatred we should bear them, and afterward by undis­cerned [Page 23] progressions so far work on us, that we begin to love and commit the same. The Historian observes, That Augustus soon perceived the Inclination of his two Daughters by the Company they kept: The one affected none but the grave Senators and worthy personages of Rome; and the Other none but the loose and debauch'd Gallants. We cannot touch pitch but we must be defi­led; and we cannot converse with wicked men, but we shall be tainted with their Impurities.

Thirdly, They are alike dif­fusive. Thucidides in his Descrip­tion of the Plague of Athens, tells us it began in Africa; march'd from Aethiopia into Aegypt, and so took its course for Athens, [Page 24] which was a vast progress. And hath not Sin done the like? Hath not the Sin of Adam in Paradice spread it self over the whole World, and so seized upon the mass of Mankind, that we must all confess we are Ʋnclean, and there is none of us righteous, no not one.

Fourthly, They are both ter­rible. What a dismal sight is it to see an Army enter by force in­to a pleasant City, and there in a moment by the licentious fury of the Soldiers, view those streets floating with the blood of the Inhabitants, which in time of Peace used to be strewed with flowers? Yet when heat of blood is over, some mercy is usually hoped for, and many times ob­tained. [Page 25] But the Plague, like ano­ther Attila, the Scourge of God, sweeps all before it, and seldom gives Quarter. Sin does the like, yea, in a more terrible manner, for it erects its Trophies upon the ruine of Souls: The destruction of the body is but a momentary pain, but that of the Soul is commensurate to the duration of it, which is to all Eternity. How much reason have we therefore to pray to be delivered from this Executioner, that like another Nero loves to perpetuate misery, and strikes a wretch, ut sentiat se mori.

Fifthly, They are alike in their Symptomes. When a man begins to feel some distemper in his head, stomach, belly, or other [Page 26] parts, though we apprehend some danger, yet we think him not past the benefit of Physick, and a possibility of Recovery; but if once his body begin to be pur­pled, and the plague spots disco­ver their dismal hue, we then quit all hopes, and think no­thing less than a miracle can re­cover him: Sin also hath her spots, and they are as ill boad­ing to the Soul as the other to the body; V. 23. and therefore St. Jude in his General Epistle styles wick­ed men [...] spots in their feasts of Charity.

Lastly, They are both of a quick dispatch. Other Diseases seem to give us some warning that we may set our house in order, and by repentance blot out the [Page 27] Score of our sins prodigality; but the pestilential sword, like the Italian Stilletto, carries death up­on the point, and at its first en­trance, summons the wounded to his Funeral; so that we may now sing in a mournful Dirge

Our pleasures cease, our joys are flying,
Death is alive, but Life is dying.

Hence it is that Galen calls it [...] because of its Mortal qua­lity; and Hippocrates [...] be­cause of its spreading nature. This deadly disease, we see, lays heaps upon heaps, and if the Almighty power puts not a stop to its vio­lent proceedings, it will in a short time scarce leave living e­nough to bury the dead. Where [Page 28] God gives it a Commission it runs like fire in a Corn field. That passage in Samuel is very remark­able,2 Sam. 24.15. where it is said, So the Lord sent a Pestilence upon Israel from the Morning even to the time appointed. Some think this ap­pointed time was six hours, and of this opinion is St.Super Psal. 37. Ambrose; quaest. 37 Theodoret, and the Jewish Hi­storian Josephus: Others think this appointed time was until night, and that at the beginning of the Evening Sacrifice it ceased, which St. Hierome followes:V. Casp. Sanctium in [...]l. Others (with Tostatus Abulensis) think it lasted three dayes. However all agree that it was but a short space, in which this Tragedy was acted, although the quamdiù is not cer­tain. Upon this account the [Page 29] Septuagint reads the Words [...], If I send Death amongst my people; to signifie, other diseases by Medical herbs and the skill of Physicians may be Cured, but this is an infallible Executioner, as sure as death it self. And doth not Sin do the same with the Soul? Gen. 2.17. In the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt dye; not a year after, but in the very day thou breakest my Comman­dement thy sin will prove deadly. So Annanias and Sapphyra no sooner lyed to the holy Ghost, but at St. Peter's Examination their Consciences became their condem­ning Jury, and their Sentence a sudden Death.

[Page 30]We have now seen their agree­ment: I shall only say there is this happy dissimilitude, that whereas the Cure of the Bodily plague is uncertain, that of the Soul plague is infallible, if we fly to Christ with a due sense of our misery, and seek from his Me­rits that Alexipharmacon, that is, an Antidote against the greatest Crimes.

But I shall desist from speak­ing any longer indefinitely of Sin, and come to those particular ones that in so high a degree have drawn this plague upon us.

First then, The sin that leads the van is our Sabbath-breaking. How loud doth this cry in the Ears of God! A sin more fre­quent, impudent, and unpunish'd, [Page 31] than in those late black days when the greatest were justified by a Law. This blessed day is now as much mangled and broken as once the Lord of it was: And as the Poet, deriding the immode­rate dress of a wanton Girl, told her that she was minima pars sui; so is this day so divided, that it is now become the least part of it self, and you may seek for a Sabbath in a Sabbath and not find it. And whereas it ought to be the greatest Festival and holy Rest, now other days are more inno­cent then this. Those we spend upon our Callings, and this (the more is our shame) on our sins. In the Primitive times sanctify­ing the Lords Day was an emi­nent Character that Christians li­ved [Page 32] in the purity of their pro­fession. When the Question was asked, Servasti Dominicam? The Answer returned was, Chri­stianus sum, intermittere non pos­sum; I am a Christian, and may not do otherwise. How are we fallen from our first love? by prophaning the Sabbath either through Schismatical Petulancy, or Idleness and Security, snorting on a Bed, or walking in the fields, forgetting that he which on this day gathered sticks was paid home with stones. Considering there­fore the judgement of God that hangs over our head for this par­ticular sin, it is Christian Prudence to pray, Lord have Mercy upon us, and encline our hearts to keep this Law.

[Page 33]Secondly, Another Sin that pulls down God's vengeance on us, is that of Pride. Boetius sayes excellently well, Cum om­nia vitia fugiant à Deo, sola Su­perbia se Deo opponit; When all Vices flye from God, Pride alone opposes it self to God. In o­ther vices men seek some imagi­nary good, but in this they ende­vour to dethrone God: it is an opposition to his very Being, as he is Alpha and Omega the first Ef­ficient and last End; no wonder therefore if he blasts the persons and designs of those that harbour this Monster, which beginning first in heaven will never forget its old Attempt. And therefore St. Prosper in his Excellent Epistle to the Noble Virgin Demetrias, [Page 34] says finely, Cum aliae cupiditates ea tantum bona quibus adversantur imminuant; haec dum omnia ad se trahit, simul universa corrumpit; That whereas other Lusts waste only that Good and Virtue to which they are contrary, Pride whilest it arrogates all to it self, corrupts all at once. God there­fore scatters the Proud, he ma­keth them like Smoak (to speak with the Psalmist) which perisheth in ascending, and vanisheth in dilating of it self. I shall not need to tell you how he hath punish'd it in Wicked men, as in Nebuchadnezzar, Herod, and Antiochus; for he will not allow it in his own people. And there­fore if Corah, Dathan, and A­biram will be holier than Moses [Page 35] and Aaron, and tempt the Jewish Congregation to a Contempt of their Superiours, he will presently open the Earth, and bury them a­live. They were ante Sepulti, quam Mortui, as the African Fa­ther (Optatus) speaks. If David out of pride will number the Peo­ple, (and sure it was so, for the Text saith,1 Chr. 21.14. his heart was lift up to number the People) God will send his Plague and sweep away seventy thousand of them.

3. A third sin is that Cur­sed one of Swearing so much in Practice. Because of Oaths (saith the Prophet) the Land Mourneth: Jer. 3.10. And how can we but expect that God will send the lightning of his judgements from heaven, when we do so thunder [Page 36] out Oaths on Earth. This is a Reigning Sin, not only amongst the Basest, but those that would be thought the Ornaments of the Age, as if Gentility consisted in belching out blasphemy.

If the King be spoken against, it is high treason, and deservedly punish'd with Death; if a Noble man be traduced or slandered, it is punishable by the Statute of Scandalum Magnatum; yea, a private man in cases of Obloquy hath his remedy by Action: only the name of God, though dear to him, is not so tenderly regarded, but is most grievously rent and torn by this common and Soul-ruining Sin of Swearing. But let me advise the black mouthed Swearer, to have a care of swear­ing [Page 37] in jest (as men are apt to pre­tend) lest he go to Hell in ear­nest; for every Oath he swears, gives his Soul a wound, and that wound will be vocal enough to peirce heaven, and call for ven­geance on the Swearer. Have not many of us uncharitably and blas­phemously wish'd, that the Plague of God would light upon our Bre­thren? How justly now hath it overtaken us. Curses and Exe­crations have proceeded from us like Arrows shot against heaven, and now they are returned back upon our own heads.

Fourthly, I must name that of Ʋncharitableness to one ano­ther, upon occasions that should rather administer grounds of Re­pentance then of Malice. The [Page 38] Apostle tells us Charity covers a multitude of Sins, but we (as if we were true Children of Noah) delight in our Relations Nakedness. What heart-burnings are between us upon small dif­ferences of Judgement? The Turk cannot hate a Christian with a more Vatinian hatred then we persecute one another, though baptized into the same Faith, and equally professors of the same Gospell. Is not the Plague come upon us, that our Lord fore­told, that Father should be against Son, and Son against Father? will an Independant endure a Presby­terian, or the Anabaptist and Fifth Monarchist one of the Epis­copal persuasion? No, no, we have known to our grief what [Page 39] blood hath been shed upon this account, and that their mutual animosities have boyled to as great a height as those at present be­tween Turk and Persian. Con­stantine the Great, when he sum­moned the first General Councel at Nice, to extinguish the Arrian Heresie, concerning the [...] of Christ with his Father, cau­sed all the private Contentions and Strifes that were enflamed amongst the Bishops themselves to be drawn up into a Compen­dium of Articles, before they should deliberate about that grand Affair, which being done, he sealed them up with his own Royal Signet, and kept them in his bosome for a while as a Se­cret; afterward in his Speech, ex­horting [Page 40] them to unity of Spirit, and a serious discussion of those things that concerned the Cause of Christ, he burnt all those en­vious Libells together,Car. in Nice. Conc. Appar. pag. 45. in 16. Ne inno­tesceret ulli odium & sugillatio Sa­cerdotum, as Caranza informs me. Let us that serve at the Altar, imitate this Pious Prince, and if there be any unchristian, unchari­table fends amongst us, bury them in Eternal Oblivion, left they hinder us in the prosecution of the Cause of God, and not only prove our shame, but a stumbling block of Offence to the Enemies of the Faith. Our Lord and Saviour at his departure left us this New Commandement, that we should love one another, but we have so affronted this Injunction, [Page 41] that it is no marvel if he says he is come not to send Peace but a Sword; a Sword that shall draw out our vitals, and render us the victims of his fury.

Fifthly, That Rebellious mur­muring humour with which we have outraged Prince and Priest. The Sacred Scripture never gives us an Account of Murmurers, but it tells us likewise their Pu­nishment; Pharaoh murmured at the Israelites, and God entombed him and his hoast in the Red Sea. Joseph's Brethren murmured at him, and their reward was vas­salage, they became his Servants. Saul murmured at David's ten thousands, and God left him to be his own Executioner. Judas murmured at the Box of Oyle [Page 42] that was poured on his Masters head, and what was his reward? he hang'd himself. And is not this our Case? When King Charles the first lived, (though we may say of him as Homer said of Greece, that it was [...] the Pap and Dug of the Earth, He the Cream and Excellentest of Princes) how did our un­godly and malicious humours load him with all those Obloquies and Reproaches which St. Paul would not have flung even at Nero him­self. And what I pray was the Issue of this? These discontented murmurings begot a Rebellion, and that Rebellion, though it occasion­ed the Ruin of the most blessed Prince, yet by God's just judg­ment disgorged its Venom upon [Page 43] our own heads: from being free Subjects to a King of a Glorious Race, it made us vassals to one of low degree, and took from us the felicity they enjoy, whose King is the Son of Nobles; The same we may affirm of the Church of England: When was it so flourishing as in the afore­named Prince's Time? Yet ei­ther our discontentedness at his Fatherly Indulgence to it, or our Avaritious designs to engross its Patrimony, brought us to that Insolence, that we must needs make her the Young Whore of Babylon; and under pretence of correcting her Errors, not only commit the greatest Sacriledges and Rapes upon her, but fling down all her Fences, that the [Page 44] Wild Bore of Schisme and Here­sie might root her up. And God knows at this very day, the dis­mal Effects of murmuring are too too visible, although our now Gratious Prince, endevours to his utmost the extinguishing these unhappy differences, that like so many Phaetons if not stopp'd in their Motion will burn both Church and State.

An hour is too short a time to discourse of the Sins that swarm in this Land. What Mercy do we shew to our Poor? doth not the Extortioner take damnable Interest, and the Oppressor use violence? Do they not eat like a canker into the Reversions of the Poor? The Italians proverbially say of the Viceroyes of Naples and Milan, [Page 45] that the one fleeces and the other fleas the Subject. I am afraid we have too many amongst us that put this in practice, and make it their only study to be Ingeni­ous in oppressing and ruining their poor neighbours.

What temperance do we pra­ctice in the use of the creatures? How many are there that study to be nothing more then accurate Gluttons? They cannot dine or sup except they rob the Aire of its rarest fowle, and the Rivers and Seas of its most exquisite Fish; and yet will scarce afford the Poor, those living Temples of the Holy Ghost, a Morsell of Bread to keep them from Starving; they can swallow down whole flaggons of the richest Wines, and [Page 46] yet have scarce a thimble full of cold water for their thirsty neigh­bour. And indeed, if ever drunkenness had an impunity, it is in these days; although it be a most detestable Sin, and so pro­lifical that it begets a thousand others, yet it is now so much in vogue, that I am afraid reeling in the Streets will be al'a mode, and this Vice which metamorphoseth a Man into a Beast, rather be the Subject of Mirth then detestation. But let these bon-companions know there was a curse long ago pronounced against those that are strong to drink, and that God is now putting it in Execution. Since with their Teeth they will be digging their own graves, and pour down into their Throats like [Page 47] sluces, floods of Liquor to drown their Souls, it is but Just the Pestilence should save them a la­bour and give them a quick dis­patch.

And as with Excess in Eating and Drinking we have provoked God; so likewise in our Apparel and Cloaths. The Garments which God made our first Parents, were to hide their shame, but ours are so fantastically shap'd, that instead of covering they discover it. In a word, There is nothing We have endevoured so much as the advancement of the Kingdome of Satan. Our Eyes have wholly been employed upon lust­ful Objects, and lewd Women: Infelicissimae publicarum libidinum victimae, those unhappy Sacrifi­ces [Page 48] of common Lust, as Tertullian speaks, more grateful to us than virtuous Company: The debau­chery of Ʋnclean Songs and vila­nous discourse, have been more acceptable to our Ears than a good Sermon, or wholsome admonitions. Our Smell hath been caress'd with effeminate perfumes; Our Tast with luxurious Viands and Sauces, made to heighten an Appe­tite beyond the Necessity of Na­ture. And lastly, Our Touch hath been tainted with Lascivi­ousness. With so little care have we guarded these Cinque-ports of our Soul, yea rather left them as so many open avenues free for Sin to enter: That it is no won­der if death tread upon the Heels of Sin, and snatches us away in the flagrant fact.

[Page 49] Object. But you will say, Since God is all goodness, and cannot be the Author of Evill, how comes it to pass that he so severely punish­eth Sin, and sends such plagues amongst men for it.

Answ. To this I answer with the Learned Bishop of Marseilles Salvianus in his 8 Book de Pro­videntia, where he saith, A Deo quippe punimus sed ipsi faci­mus. Cui dubium est quin ipsi nos nostris criminibus puniamus; vim Deo facimus iniquitatibus nostris, & ipsi in nos Iram Dei armamus. God indeed punisheth us, but we cause, and after a sort force him to do it. God inflicteth stripes, but we deserve them. God striketh, but we provoke. God poureth out the Vials of his wrath, but we fill them up to the [Page 50] brim, by our overflowing Iniquities. If we have any thing that is good in us it is from God; but in a true sense we make him just even by our Injustice; for if we were not unjust in Sinning, he could not be just in punishing; neither would he desire any way to exalt his glory by the ruine of his Crea­ture. Mic. 7.18. Mercy is his delight, and good­ness is his Nature. He there­fore never sendeth Evil upon us, before we have it in us; he ne­ver fills a Cup of Red wine be­fore the measure of our Crimson sin is full. Let us therefore lay the blame upon our selves, and with mournful Jerusalem say, The Lord is righteous, but we have rebelled against him: Let us in flying to his Mercy, yet still adore [Page 51] his justice; and let the conside­ration of his unwillingness to pu­nish us, so work upon us, that hereafter we may not force him to it. For he is slow to anger and of great Compassion.

And thus from the Disease we pass to the Remedy, which consists of three Ingredients;

  • 1. Humility.
  • 2. Prayer.
  • 3. Repentance.

If my People that are called by my name, do humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear, &c.

1. If my People humble them­selves. It seems God will have [Page 52] humility be the first Ingredient in this Plague-Antidote. Lofty Spi­rits are like wheels, St. Basil. in Ascet. [...] 4. in St. Basil's phrase, [...] They move not to any Spiritual height, but run a vain Circle and endless round. They are so far from attaining any good end, that they embar all the passages to it. The old Marquiss of Worcester being asked in Queen Elizabeths Time, how he continued Fa­vourite to three Princes of such different humours? Answered, He was made of a Willow not of an Oke, and had learn'd the Art of Submission. But proud men make it their business to withstand Thunderbolts, and had rather perish then not attempt. Had [Page 53] they fully known what the meaning of that passage is, God resisteth the proud and giveth grace unto the humble, they would easily have understood, that the only way to avoid the fury of the Lyon of the Tribe of Judah, is to lay prostrate before him; not to contend, but yield the buckler to him, that never kills persons disarmed of their Sins, and hum­bly begging quarter. The Royal Prophet saith, A broken heart and a contrite Spirit, oh God! thou wilt not despise. The Ninivites found the Truth of this upon the pronouncing of that fatal Sentence against them, Yet forty days and Nineveh shall be destroyed. What? did they fortifie their City? did they frame of their [Page 54] old men a Councel of War, and of their youth raise a puissant Army? did they send for the help of their Allies, and pro­vide for a long Siege? No, they understood a better method of disarming divine wrath, they clo­thed themselvs with Sackcloth and sat in Ashes; they humbled them­selves before the Lord, and by this holy policy brought the Lord to repent of the Evil he intended against them. Here it is worth observing, that humble Submission, is more prevalent with God, than our fellow Crea­ture. Niniveh humbles it self, and God repents of the designed ruine: But Jonah grows angry, and thinks he doth well to be so. This humility must not be [Page 55] like that which the Prophet com­plains of, a holding down our head like a hulrush: We must have a deep sense of our unworthiness, that has caused this fire to go out against us, and having truly con­sidered the greatness of that Majesty we have offended, cry out in confusion of face, that we are but dust, and cannot endure everlasting burnings.

And that we may the better do thus, let us first consider the Justness of the Act. If we have offended a temporal Prince, we spare no labour, leave no stone unturned to find out this Cour­tier, that Favourite, yea at the very expence of our Estates to mediate with him our reconcili­ation; when many times it is to [Page 56] no purpose: And shall we be less sedulous in appeasing the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, by a due acknowledging our own vileness and the enormity of our Actions that have provoked his just displeasure? Had he de­manded the fruit of our body, our Estates, or our Lives, by way of Expiation, and after all this left us in an uncertainty, whether he would pardon, whe­ther he would heal us or no, the Case had been hard; but when he that is Truth it self assures us our humble Submission shall make amends, surely we must be the most wretched people in the World if we want a heart and a knee to appease his fury.

[Page 57]Secondly, It is the most ad­vantagious Act to our selves; and this will appear three ways.

First, It prevents Substraction of Grace, and falling into grie­vous Sins. Without this gra­cious frame of Spirit even the greatest Saints have fallen into horrid sins: We may observe this in St. Peter himself, in a vain glorious humour he began to tell Christ, Master though all the world forsake thee, I will not; yet when his Lord and Master was seized by the Jews, upon the accusation of a silly Damosell, he was the first that not only de­nied his Master, but forsware him too: Had he been as low and humble in his own Conceit when the Maid said unto him, Thou [Page 58] also wast with Jesus of Galilee, Mat. 26.69. as he was immediately after his denial, when he went out and wept bitterly, his Lord would not have suffered him so foully to fall; And therefore his fellow Apostle St. Paul tells us of a Thorn in his flesh, or a buffetting Sathan to keep him humble and in a due sense of his nothingness, lest (says he) I should be exalted above mea­sure through the abundance of Re­velations. Sup. Cant. Serm. 52. St. Bernard observes, that sometimes grace is substra­cted, not for Pride which alrea­dy is, but which would be, if it were not substracted. Here St. Augustine in his Book de Civi­tate Dei; C. 14. c. 13 Audio dicere superbis utile esse cadere in aliquod apertum manifestumque peccatum unde sibi [Page 59] displiceant qui jam sibi placendo ce­ciderunt, i. e. I dare boldly af­firm, That it is requisite for the Proud to fall into some open and hainous Sin, that so at last they may fall out of Conceit with themselves, that fell by stand­ing in their own Conceit. It is humility then that shuts up all the passages to Sin, and is as St. Bazil speaks, [...], The Magazine of Virtues.

Secondly, It is the characteristical note of our Christianity, it is a virtue peculiar to it. Learn of me for I am meek and lowly, is a Do­ctrine which Christ first taught, and Doctor humilitatis in St. Au­gustin's opinion is his proper Stile; His whole Life and Actions were the great Examples of it. Hu­mility [Page 60] is a piece of that Celestial Philosophy the Gentiles never knew, it is much above their E­thicks; for though amongst them a [...], a Moderation to know and keep our measures, be commended for virtue, yet that this should be performed in hum­ble dependance on God, by Grace derived from him in our Redeemer, was above their Learning: And therefore Cle­mens of Alexandria said well, That Natural men may do the same good that a good Christian, [...]. i. e. But not from the same cause, nor with the same Intention, for they make not God in Christ either their beginning or end. So that the acting Virtues in a super­natural [Page 61] power, and referring them primarily, to his honor in Christ (which is the Quintes­sence of humility) is above the reach of Philosophical Specula­tion.

Thirdly, It is the readiest way to saving knowledge. The humble thou wilt teach thy way, says the royal Prophet. Proud per­sons will never make good Scho­lars in Christ's School; he will never put the new wine of his Grace into their old musty bottles; the reason is, they are so full with their own airy Conceptions, with the bubbles of their own blowing, that there is no room for solid and real Truths, with which the Holy Ghost ever fills humble Souls. On the contrary, [Page 62] the humble person that considers the vileness of his natural condi­tion, and how poor and naked he is, places all his hopes of strength and knowledge only in God, and by that resignation of himself, ea­filer receives those divine exami­nations of Truth, that can make him wise to Salvation: The great end of Christianity (to use the Words of Hierocles concerning the Pythagorean discipline) is, [...]· That we may be made all wing for the pur­suit of Divine things; but Pride puts weights of Lead upon the Soul, that She cannot soar in­to the Region of Divine Truth; and so muffles her with self-con­ceit, that like hooded Hawkes if [Page 63] she could flye, yet she would want an eye to pursue her game. Let us therefore, if we would be taught by this great School­master, approach him with all humility, and he will not only teach us those things which are of Eternal Import, but cure the Wounds which Sin hath made in our Souls, in our Bodies, in the Church, in the State. And so I come to the second Ingredient, which is Prayer. If my People pray, and seek my face, &c.

First then, Being to speak of Prayer, it will not be amiss to enquire in the first place, what Prayer is?L. 3. de Fide c. 4. St. John Damascen an­swers the Question, and says, It is the Elevation of the mind to God. And St. Austin, In Ps. 85. Your Prayer [Page 64] is a speaking to God. When you read, God speaks to you; when you pray, you speak to God; there­fore Prayer is the Souls Colloquy and conversation with God. So that when we pray, we Elevate our spirit to God, and famili­arly (yet with all reverence) communicate our Condition un­to him with a greater confidence than any Child can do to his Mo­ther: To him we unbowel our selves, and lay before him what is most dear unto us, and what most oppresses us in our Spiritual combats; our failings and our desires, the temporal blessings we would have, and the Evils we would eschew, as one friend doth to another in whom he most confides. And this is that [Page 65] which the Divine Writ terms a pouring forth the heart like water before the Lord; the Text doth not say like Oyle, some of which will ever be sticking to the vessel that contained it; but like Wa­ter, to signifie, That all our thoughts, our whole heart, must go out of it self and ascend to God. And truly (if ever) now we have need to make this self-examination; for, when our Souls have (as it were) quit­ted their Mansion, and travelled to the throne of Grace to beg Mercy, and a ceasing of Judg­ments, we may be confident, Plagues will be crippled, and not suffered to infect our clayie tene­ments in our spiritual absence: For the truth of this we have our [Page 66] Lord and Saviours own Word, If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you; ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you. So powerful is fervent prayer with God, that it binds his hands, and (to speak with reverence, as it were) fetters the Omnipotent one. We see it likewise in the case of the Israelites, Moses was gone up to the Mount to receive the Law, and his stay being longer than the peoples expectation, they gather themselves together, and will needs have Aaron make them new Gods; He, out of their golden Earings, to gratifie their importunity, made them a Calf. This accursed peice of Idolatry, God (resolving to punish) says unto Moses, Now therefore let me [Page 67] alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, &c. whilest thou prayest thou bindest me; do not thus manacle me, let my hands be at liberty, that I may cut off this stiff necked generation. Suitably to this, Salvianus commenting upon Psal. 33.18. Oculi Domini super justos, & Aures ejus in preces eorum; says, when the Scripture affirms the Ears of the Lord to be always on the prayers of the just; not only his readiness to hear, but a kind of Obedience in God is pointed at, as if God were so ready to hear the prayers of his faithful ones, that he seems wil­ling, not only to hear, but to Obey; not only to grant what they desire, but ready to perform what they command. Thus, though [Page 68] the Sun comes forth like a Giant and rejoyces to run his race, yet He, and his fellow Luminary the Moon, the bright Mistress of the night, by the force of Prayer, are arrested and made to stand still till Joshuah and the Israelites had avenged themselves upon their Enemies, Josh. 10.12. Yea, at the prayer of Hezekiah, attended with the Divine Rhethorick of Tears, the same Sun must re­coyle back. It might have been enough for Hezekiah's faith, to believe the words of Isaiah with­out any Sign: But God, to let us see how much he was pleased with the King's earnest Address, stops the very course of Nature, and by no less than a miracle declares, That he had heard and accepted [Page 69] the voice of those Royal Tears; for behold, I will bring again the Shadow of the degrees which is gone down in the Sun-Dial of A­haz ten degrees backward. Isa. 38.8. And as Prayer hath a power to invert the Course of Nature, so likewise can it make Nature act contrary to its own self. For fire which naturally towers up­ward, at the Prayer of Elijah descended downward, and con­sumed a Captain and fifty men, 2 Kings 1.12. Neither is Prayer the weapon with which we only wound our Enemies, but it is (to speak with St. Ambrose) telum quo vulneramus Cor Dei, a weapon with which God himself is woun­ded, as the Spouse in the Canti­cles speaks, Charitate vulneror; [Page 70] no other Artillery but this can batter the Cittadel of the great King. This is a Truth so evident, that the dim light of Nature taught the very Heathens it, and therefore (as Clemens Alexan­drinus tells us) they called their God [...],In Protr. from [...], as if one should say, a God who de­lighteth in the humble Prayers of hearty Petitioners. So that we may well say with Luther, Ora­tio hominis res est potentissima; It overth ows Armies, turns the course of Nature, obtains the greatest blessings, averts the grea­test Evils, and even conquers God himself. Let us therefore offer this incense offering, this Spirituale thymiama. In Matth. Carthusian (to its honour) observes, That [Page 71] the Style of Incense is attributed to no other Theological virtue, so truly as to Prayer. Nulla justitia thymiamati comparatur nisi sola O­ratio; for as Incense fired in the Censor mounts in perfumed Curls, and casts a grateful odour about the Altar; so our Prayers pro­ceeding from hearts fired with holy Zeal, ascend to the throne of God, and make a sweet smell in his nosthrils: But to speak more particularly, since prayer is of such a power;

First, Let us pray, that we may show our selves Christians. Tertullian calls Christians, the Candidates of the Celestial King­dom: He alludes to the custome of those Roman Senators that stood for the Consulship, who [Page 72] ever visited such as had any votes in their Election, and by fair en­treaties endevoured to win them to their Side. The same we do by Prayer, we acknowledge the Supremacy that Christ hath over us, and that all our felicity de­pends upon his only Vote. Now as among the Gentiles some were called Platonists, others Aristo­telians, and from the Masters, they acknowledged their Instructors; so by practising this excellentest of virtues, we justly wear the name of him that taught it us.

Secondly, Let us pray, That we may not only show our selves Christians, but good and pious Christians. How many are there in the World that pass from month to month, yea, from year to [Page 73] year that scarce ever pray! as if there were neither a God to re­ward, nor a Devil to be his Ex­ecutioner; and yet, if you tell them they are not Christians, they will esteem you the most injuri­ous persons in the world. But we must not be content with the bare name of Christianity, and think it is enough that our Pa­rents brought us to the Font, and that there we received our Chri­stian Livery: We must come up to the life of christianity, which is Prayer; it is that in the Soul which Springs are in Clocks and Watches, if they be broke, the motion of all the Wheels ceases; and if we devote not our selves to prayer, all our Theological vir­tues are idle, and as it were pin­nion'd [Page 74] in us; and therefore St. Chrysostome says excellently,Tom. 1. de fide. as, when a Queen enters a city, not only a great Retinue, but an a­mass of Wealth comes along with her; so likewise, when the Soul is enflamed with a love of prayer, all other virtues croud and throng in upon her: Of Men it makes us the Temples of Christ. Now as gold and precious stones, and the richest Marbles constitute the Palaces of Princes; so Prayer builds up these Temples of the Son of God, that he may dwell in our hearts as in a Sanctum Sanctorum, the noblest Seat of his Residence. That we may there­fore pray aright and like good christians, that God may cease the plague and heal our wounds, [Page 75] I shall show you what qualifica­tions are necessary.

First then, Our Prayer must 1 be an earnest fervent Prayer, it is St. James his character, The effectual fervent prayer of a righte­ous man availeth much; indeed, it peirceth heaven, and is Clavis Coeli as St. Bernard speaks, the Key that unlocks the Treasuries of heaven, that it may showre down its blessings upon us. We may learn the Nature of this effectual Prayer from the Royal Prophet, when he says,Ps. 141.2. Dirigatur Oratio mea sicut incensum in conspectu tuo: Let my prayer be set before thee as Incense; in which words, he briefly comprehends all the requi­sites of a fervent prayer by com­paring it to Incense.

[Page 76]First, In the Incense was Fran­kincense, Onyx, Galbanum, Oyle of Cinnamond, or Myrrh and Mastich; so our Prayer, if it be effectually fervent, must be mingled with Faith, Humility, Charity, Confidence in God, and Patience; these, as lesser Stars, must wait upon this Queen and Mother of virtues, this Breviary of the Gospel.

Secondly, This Incense was appropriated to the Temples, and lodged in the Holy of Holies; so likewise the Soul of Man is the Temple and House of God, as St. Paul speaks,1 Cor. 3.16. Know ye not that ye are the Temple of the Holy Ghost? we therefore must burn this In­cense of Prayer in the inward'st and purest part of this Temple.

[Page 77]Thirdly, This Incense was to be offered by none but the High Priest; so likewise all our pray­ers must be offered up by our High Priest Christ Jesus, if we hope they shall prevail; for upon this account the Church teaches us to conclude all our prayers with this clause, Through Iesus Christ our Lord.

Fourthly, This Incense was to be fir'd, before its grateful per­fume could be sented: If the High Priest flung never so many handfuls of it on dead coals there came forth no odour; so our Prayers are altogether frigid and no way pleasing until kindled by the flames of the Spirit: where heat and fervour is wanting in him that prays, the very Soul of prayer is absent.

[Page 78]Fifthly, (says David) Diri­gatur Oratio mea, &c. let it mount, let it tend towards thee; he that will pray fervently and effectually, must have a good end, a sincere intention, and a constant attention; he must not pray like Pharisees to be seen of men, that he may purchase the Repute of Religious and holy; he must make God and his interest his ultimate end; and therefore our Lord the Great Master of Prayer, says, When thou prayest enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy dore pray to thy Father which is in Secret: By which he would teach us rather to acquit our selves to God than Man, God only being able to reward our Integrity with better blessings than vulgar applause can afford.

[Page 79]Secondly, But in the second 2 place, as our Prayer must be earnest and fervent, so it must be without ceasing: If we would have a Truce with God's judgments, it is an argument of an evil heart to proportion our Prayers to the increase or decrease of Judgments; for though the rule in Philosophy be, That Oratio is quantitas dis­creta, yet in Divinity it is most certain, That Oratio ought to be quantitas continua, according to the Apostle's Maxime, Pray continually; and indeed now,1 Eph. 5.17. if ever, we had need to be con­stant in Prayer, when thousands dye in a week, and every parish, yea every street is the fatal Thea­tre of so many sad Tragedies. Is not this a time of trouble, when [Page 80] the rich and abler sort are fled, citè, longè, tardè, and the poorer through necessity are oblieged to tarry, notwithstanding infinite dangers surround them, their Servants, and their poor chil­dren! Is it not a time of trou­ble, when Tradesmen become poor, and poverty enforces beggary, and that unhappy profession cannot keep them from Starving! Is it not a time of trouble, when trade in general is so Dead that the Sex­ton and the Grave-maker have the most Employment in the parish! Surely this is a time of trouble, and this time is our time. O there­fore! let us take up holy David's Resolution, and give neither sleep to our eyes nor slumber to our Eyelids, till the Lintells of [Page 81] our dore-posts are annointed with the blood of sprinkling, that the destroying Angel may pass over our habitations. Ask (and give not over) till you find, seek (and leave not) till you find, knock (and cease not) till a dore of Salvation be opened unto you.

3. But thirdly, We must lift up pure hearts and holy hands un­to God in Prayer. It is the work of the Seraphims to be continu­ally crying, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of Sabbaoth, to express the ardent affection in them, and the ready adoration of the Ho­lyness so repeated by them, it being that noble attribute that indeed is only proper to God. Now if we would take a part in [Page 82] this Seraphick Consort, we must endevour to have holiness and pu­rity in our hearts and hands, and then our addresses will be musical in God's Ears. To this purpose the Schoolman Victorinus observes, That a reasonable Soul is the chief and principal glass wherein to see God: Ric. Victor. lib. de Pa­triar. This the Israel of God must continually hold, wipe, look on; hold, lest falling down it sink to the Earth in love; wipe, lest it be sullied with the dust of vain thoughts; look on, that it divert not the eye and intention to vain studies. Can we hope that that Man's prayer should be accepta­ble to God, whose heart in stead of being lifted up to the throne of Grace, is sunk into the Earth by the love of Terrene pleasures? [Page 83] No, we must have hearts purifi­ed with the fire of Divine love, and hands wash'd in innocency be­fore we can be acceptable. Under the Law the burnt offerings were to be flea'd, and cut in peices, and their Legs and Inwards were to be wash'd: Upon which Saint Cyril of Alexandria says, [...] The fleaing off the Skin was a riddle of naked discovery, Hom. Pasc. 22. p. 240. for nothing at all in us is hid or veiled from the Di­vine and pure eyes of God. We must not be content with the su­perficies and out-side of a good life, but we must flea our Sacrifices and look to the Integrity of our inwards; we must as it were cut our selves in peices by a strict ex­amination of the particular actions [Page 84] of our whole life; whatever be­longs to us, our desires, our thoughts, all must be purified, if we would have our Sacrifice Grateful. How many are there in the World that make long prayers, yet devour Widows hou­ses? How many that have no­thing in their mouths but Gospel light, and the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ, yet, do but flea them, and you shall find them full of Avarice, Pride, Faction, and the greatest uncharitableness. Godfrey of Bulloine being asked by the Ambassador of a Sarazen Prince how he had his hands, tam doctas ad praeliandum, so able to fight? returned this answer, Quia manus semper habui puras ab impu­ris contractibus peccati; Because [Page 85] I never defiled my hands with any notorious Sin. Our Prayers will never be prevalent with God until we first combat and foyle our own Sins. [...]. Plato defines Purity a Separation of the worse from the better. We must in a good sense be Separatists, and come out of Babylon, before we can be fit company for the Lamb; and when we have once done this, we may confidently hope a relaxation of our miseries, and that God will hear from heaven, forgive our Sins, and heal our Land.

And so I come to the third In­gredient in the Text, Repentance: If my people humble themselves, and pray, and turn from their evil ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their Sin, and will [Page 86] heal their Land. In the Pythian and Olympick Games, the Conten­ders for honour and renown had their way chalk'd out with two white Lists, out of which they were not to salley; so it was with Adam in Paradice, his via morum was rayled in with In­nocence, aswell as his via pe­dum adorned with Flowers and other delightful Objects; but he having leap'd over the pale, by eating the forbidden fruit, took upon him the Trade of wandring into by-paths, and his children (like so many Gypsies) have ever since exercised the same Profes­sion. I have heard of some that they have been so much in love with the wandring humour, that though they have been heirs [Page 87] to good fortunes, yet they have consorted themselves with the begging Crew, only to have the Liberty of roving up and down: And thus it is with man gene­rally as to his Spiritual condition; though God hath elevated us to the dignity of Sons-ship, and Christ accepted the Title of our elder Brother, yet we have strayed a­way from his blessed Company, and that heavenly inheritance he pur­chased for us with his blood: We have taken more delight in the meanders of Sin and folly, that can afford us nothing of sollid worth, than in those durable and eternal riches of Grace and Holyness. Upon this score it is that the Text saith, If my people turn from their evil ways, (which implyes [Page 88] they were out of the way of God, and altogether journying the Mazes of Idolatry and Sin) that God would heal and redress the miseries that for such deviations were come upon them. But because I will speak more distinctly of Repentance, I shall consider it in its three parts;

  • 1. Compunction: or Contrition for Sin.
  • 2. Confession of Sin.
  • 3. Conversion from Sin to God.

First, Compunction or Contri­tion: And now how happy should I be, if my discourse to you at this time could have the same operation on your hearts that St. Peter's Sermon had upon [Page 89] his Auditors, as St. Luke describes it in the second of the Acts and the 37. vers. where it is said, Now when they heard this they were pricked in their hearts, and said unto Peter and the rest of the A­postles, Men and Brethren what shall we do? A true and holy Sorrow, like so many Needles, peirced them thorough; as Eupolis recounts of Pericles's Oration to the People of Athens; Cicero de Clar. Orat. In animis auditorum aculeos reliquit, it left stings in his Auditors minds. Now that we may a little consider the phrase, we must make a diffe­rence between spiritus compuncti­onis, and compunctio spiritus, [...] & [...] a Spirit of Compunction, which St. Paul complains of in the un­believingRom. 11.8. [Page 90] believing Jews, and Compunction of Spirit or of the heart, men­tioned in this place of the Acts, St. Paul says, God hath given them a Spirit of Slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear unto this day; as if he would say, they are possest with a Spirit of stupidity and ob­stinacy in Sin, that slash and wound them never so, yet they will not be sensible; but this compunction or pricking of the heart, which St. Peter's Auditors endured, was a godly Sorrow for their Sins, and sight of their miserable Condi­tion. Now Lorinus affords us a ternary of reasons why godly Sor­row for Sin is called compunction of the heart. Act. C. 2.

  • [Page 91]1. Quia vel aperitur Cordis apo­stema.
  • 2. Vel quia vulneratur Cor amore Dei.
  • 3. Vel quia daemon dolore & invi­dia sauciatur.

Either because the corruption of the heart is discovered, as an Aposteme or Ʋlcer is opened by the prick of a Launce.

Or because the heart is woun­ded with the love of God, as the Spouse in the Canticles cries out, I am sick of Love.

Or because thereby the Devil is wounded with Indignation and Envy, as knowing the ruine of his Interest and Kingdome must needs be caused, when Sinners return to God, the Centre of their happiness, from which they re­coyled. [Page 92] But if any one ask me the reason why they were thus pricked, thus wounded at the heart, the 23. & 24. Verses of the second of the Acts will tell us, him, being delivered by the de­terminate counsel and foreknowledg of God, Ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. It was high time for the Jews to be touched to the quick that had put to death the Lord of Life, their Messiah, and Saviour of the World. And truly, if we reflect aright upon our selves, we shall find it high time for us to be thus wounded, if we consider that the Jews did but once cru­cifie him; but We, by the commit­tal of fresh sins and Impieties, cru­cifie him every day, and grieve his [Page 93] holy Spirit. It is therefore infinitly necessary we should have this due sense, this holy wounding of heart, if we expect God should repent of the evil done unto us and heal our Land.

2. The second branch of Re­pentance is Confession.

As we must be sorrowful for sin, so we must make a true confession of sin: Now in confession we must observe these Rules;

First, Our confession must be humble and self-accusing, Non vis ut ille damnet? Tu damna. Vis ut ille ignoscat? Tu agnosce. Wouldst thou not that God should Condemn thee? condemn thy self. Say with the Publican, Lord have mercy upon me a sinner. Wouldst thou have God pardon? [Page 94] Do thou crye guilty. We must not imitate our Grandfather A­dam, that cryed, The Woman thou gavest me presented me the fruit, and I did eat. We must take the sins we have com­mitted upon our selves; it being altogether unjust we should file that Evil on anothers score of which we have been the Authors. How many are there in these days that when they are accused of any Ʋncleanness, lay the fault upon Nature, as St. Austin com­plains, many in his time did, and consequently accuse God him­self. We ought rather, with the Prophet David, to cry out, Lord, it is I that have done this Great Wickedness; and, with Jeremiah, confess our ways and our Evil do­ings [Page 95] have brought all these mi­series upon us.

Secondly, We must not put our sins to the Devil's Account. He may tempt us, but he cannot force us to sin. The Devil might have offered Eve a thousand of those beautiful Apples without prevailing, had she not been as willing to tast that forbidden fruit as he ready to perswade her it was good. If he could force us to sin, we might justly lay the fault at his dore, and make the very necessity of sinning our Apology. But the Apostle St. James bids us resist the Devil and he will fly from us: to teach us we have a pow­er to combat, and through Grace baffle his pernicious temptations.

[Page 96]Thirdly, Neither must we make God the Author of our sins: He is a God of purer eyes than to behold iniquity; and what blasphemy would it be in us when we have committed sins (that even some natural men would ab­hor) to father them upon God, the source of all purity and goodness. The Psalmist steers another course, when he says, I will confess my sins unto the Lord; Psal. 32. He doth not say he will accuse God as the author of his Lust to the Wife of Ʋriah, or of his Pride in numbering the people; no, but I will confess to him against my self, he is righteous, and I have done wickedly. God cannot be tempted to evil, neither tempts he any man, it is a principle of [Page 97] corruption within us, that brings forth this viperous brood, and we must wholly acknowledge God righteous when he punisheth for Sin.

Fourthly, Our Confession must be Integra & perfecta. There are many that will be ready to acknowledge those Sins which they see the best of Men are obnoxious to; but their Dalli­lah's, their darling Sins, like the true name of Rome, they keep concealed. But this is not the Confession that will do our work; a lame half-confession is no more acceptable to God, than if we should offer him half our heart, when he requires the whole; Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart; which he can never [Page 98] truly be said to do that leaves some Sins unconfess'd, and as it were hid in the inward recesses of his Soul; because God being a profess'd enemy to every Sin, such a concealment is a taking part with that which he most hates.

Thirdly, The third part of Repentance is Conversion: Now there is a two-fold Conversion.

1. A Turning and total Conver­sion of a Sinner from Sin to God, and in this Signification is com­prehended the whole work of Grace, Psal. 51.14. And Sinners shall be converted unto thee; this is passive Conversion, wherein God is the Chief Agent, but our selves by our natural power work no­thing, unless it be to hinder the work of Grace.

[Page 99]2. There is a turning from some particular Sin or Sins, whereby we have offended God or Man; Luke 22.32. When thou art converted; and Jer. 31.18. Convert thou me and I shall be converted: This is an active Con­version performed by men, who being already renewed by Grace, do work together with this Grace. Now this conversion is a turning of the heart unto God, whereby we contract a perfect aversion to those things which we formerly delighted in, and have such an alteration in our will and affections, that we de­sire nothing, and affect nothing but what we find agreeable to his blessed will. It is not a turn­ing of the Brain, an alteration [Page 100] of this or that opinion; that is Vertigo Capitis, not Conversio Cordis: but it is a meer altera­tion and turning of [...] of our hearts. So that the perfection of this conversion consists in the turning of the whole heart. This true turning is a thing no way pleasing to the Devil. If he could, he would not have us turn at all, he sowes pillows under our Elbows, and perswades us we are in a blessed condition: but if we will needs turn, he will persuade us to Turn any whether, rather than unto God. If he cannot effect this, yet his Arti­fice and cunning is to make us leave our hearts behind. Now if that will not do, but we will Turn with our heart in Corde, yet [Page 101] he labours all he can it may not be in toto: he would have us have some private ends, some Lusts to gratifie; he would have our affections broken, and not en­tirely subservient to the Divine Will. But (Beloved) if we would remove these judgments that lye heavy upon us, we must not divide our hearts between God and the Devil, but must turn to God with our whole hearts for he is the great Physician that only can heal our diseased Souls.

And thus I come to the fourth and last Branch of the Text, the Physician prescribing the Medicine, GOD; in these words, I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their Sin, and will heal their Land. [Page 102] St. Chrysostome tells us, that Christ the second person of the Trinity, ( [...]) by his death became Physician of the Dead; in his very humility and state of Exinanition he baffled Sin, and Death, and the Balsam of his Blood shed upon the Cross, closed up the Serpentine wound received in Paradice. If this be true of Christ (as without doubt it is) whilest he was in the form of a Servant, we ought not to que­stion the performance of the promise made us in my Text by the whole Trinity. I will hear from heaven, &c. I, God the Father, I, God the Son, I, God the Holy Ghost; I one, yet three, at whose presence the Angels veil their faces, by whose only Fiat [Page 103] the Chaos was un-masked, and to whose bounty all the several spe­cies of creatures owe their Beeing: I will hear from heaven; forgive, and heal your Land. Other Physi­cians, either out of hope of gain, or to buoy up their credits and repute in the World, promise those cures which they can never perform: But here is one whose Word is his Deed, that Archety­pal verity, who having the Issues of Life and Death in his hand, when he promises Life cannot be guilty of a Lye, and when he threatens death upon impeni­tency will surely inflict it. So then, here is a Conjunction of the whole Trinity in the Cure promi­sed, the perfection of which will appear in three particulars.

[Page 104]1. God will cure us corporally. When he sent his beloved Son to preach the Gospel of Eternal Life, many heard him, but were little moved with the Excellency of his Embassie; but when he came to those sensitive and ocular demon­strations of his power, the heal­ing of the Sick, and feeding the Multitude by miracle, many then were induced to believe in him: S. Matthew tells us, that he healed all that were Sick. At his word the Blind found eyes, the lame flung away their Crutches, the Paralytick and such as were troubled with an effusion of Blood, found that virtue proceeding from him which effected their cure. If the touch of his garment were so bal­samical, that of his voice had a [Page 105] greater power; for Lazarus though rotting four days in his grave, at Christ's first call quitted his cold Mansion, and conquered Death surrendred his Prisoner, at the Command of this great Prince. The Platonist say, Lumen est Ʋm­bra Dei, Light is but the shadow of God; and I may very well affirm, that the Learned'st Phy­sicians are but shadows of this Sun of righteousness, when he ap­pears with healing in his wings. Have we the plague spots upon us? If God will be our Physician their very redness shall serve for a blush to confess their impotency when he bids them vanish. Does a Feaver burn us, or a Dropsie drown us? One word of his mouth will prove a Julip to cool [Page 106] our veins, and a Sluce to let out that Lake of humours which would engulph us. If we be once penitentially quallified, He will hear us, He will heal us. Let us therefore look upon this Visi­tation with a Spiritual eye; Let us, that God yet spares, learn to be better, lest those Princes of Pe­ru in America (meer Heathens) at the day of Judgment, rise up against us, who accounted Sick­ness, Nuncios coeli quibus se ad Deos acciri dicebant, God's Mes­sengers by which he would draw them to himself, (as Nierember­gius reports) He brings us into the School of Affliction, Hist. Nat. that we might learn Wisdome. And as he will heal us, so he will the diseases in the creatures that [Page 107] contribute to the maintenance of our Lives. Is the Air infe­cted? He will purge it. Is the fruit blasted? He will stop Mil­dews, and what ever hinders a plentiful Vegitation. Doth the Murrain consume Cattle? That shall likewise cease. In a word, whatever impleads our temporal enjoyments, upon our Repentance, like Dust, shall be driven away before the Wind.

2. God will cure us Spiritully. The wounds of the Soul are in­finitely more considerable than those of the Body, and there­fore David, who (as St. Chry­sostom speaks, was [...], One that lived as strictly in his Kingly Pallace, as in a Cloyster) [Page 108] cries out,Ps. 41.4. Heal my Soul for I have sinned against thee. And indeed, he had great reason to do so, for he that had victoriously encoun­tred the Lyon, the Bear, Goliah and an host of Men, was now broken by a feminine temptation, and become guilty of those Soul-wounding Sins, Adultery and Murther. Now as David made his Address to God, the only Soul-Physician, so let us, for he can certainly restore and heal.

This Soul-cure he will per­form.

First, By healing our irregular affections, which can by no less powerful means be effected, than the communication of his Grace. For if Adam in Paradice, richly furnished with supernatural gifts, [Page 109] continued but a poor while in that purity and excellent condi­tion; how much less can nature, wounded with Sin, without the assistance of supernatural endow­ments, recover her former puri­ty? I shall not deny, but a vigo­rous reason may help a man to ac­quire those virtuous habits which may cause a promptitude in the affections to virtuous actions, yet those Acts of virtue will be so poor and imperfect, that they can never bring him to eternal felicity. Actions that spring from Grace, do as far excel those that are the Issue of Nature (though never so morallized) as fruits that are ripened in the woods and fields by the beams of the Sun, do those that are brought forth by [Page 110] artificial fires. Grace changes the affections powerfully, and ren­ders them as it were new affecti­ons, according to St. Paul, If a Man be in Christ he is a new crea­ture. Not that our affections in this life are totally healed by grace, there will be lusting of the Flesh against the Spirit, in the most gracious persons; but those In­surrections and Tumults are ra­ther suffered by God as a Tryal, than a destruction to his children. Inordinate affections shall be so healed in this life, that they shall lose their Empire, though not their Beeing; when they begin to rebel, Grace will be able to sub­due and triumph over them.

Secondly, By healing our Ʋn­derstanding. At first, when man [Page 111] enjoyed his Integrity, the Ʋn­derstanding did naturally appre­hend truth with the greatest fa­cility; and as when our eye looks upon some curious piece of Pain­ting, Sculpture, or any other beautiful object, it is highly plea­sed; so the Ʋnderstanding, when it look'd upon Truth, received great Satisfaction, and the more sublime and excellent the Truths were, the nobler caresses she found in the contemplation of them. But novv alas! a dismal chaos hath invelop'd the Ʋnderstanding, yea that Science, that vvas so brisk and sparkling in our first Parents (and should have been the inhe­ritance of all their posterity) is utterly lost. Our ignorance is such, that vve are not able to [Page 112] judge of supernatural Truths, and therefore God vvill cure this defect in us by Divine Illumina­tion. He vvill set up in our Souls the bright Tapers of his grace, vvhereby the fogs and mists of Infidelity shall be dispell'd, and such a certainty vvrought in us, as is essential to true Faith.

Thirdly, By healing our Wills. The Phylosopher's Maxim is here true, Corruptio Optimi est pessima: The Will being the supreme fa­culty of the Soul, had once a natural power to love God, but being novv wounded by Sin, the wounds in it are of a deadlier na­ture than those of the other fa­culties. Thus Sins of Malice are deeper wounds than those of Infirmity or Ignorance, and there­fore [Page 113] one excellently said, That nothing fri'd so much in Hell as the perverse wills of Men. God will heal this wounded part also by his supernatural Grace; for Grace hath fire for the Will, as well as light for the Ʋnderstanding. His Grace shall so enflame our Wills, that whereas we formerly affected no­thing more than the Transitory and earthly fruitions of this life, Riches, Honours, and Pleasures; now we shall love nothing, desire nothing so much as God in Christ, and with St. Paul, account all things but dross and dung in compa­rison of them.

Fourthly, By healing our con­sciences. I will hear and forgive, &c. In Scripture-Language heal­ing of Sin and forgiving of Sin, [Page 114] are aequipollent terms. So Jer. 3.22. Return ye back-sliding children, and I will heal your back slidings. Now God, when he says in my Text, I will forgive, speaks to the con­science a healing word. Grace may heal the spots and stain of Sin, but it cannot heal the guilt. It is for­giveness of Sin, must take away the guilt of Sin, and then the Obligation to punishment ceases. Those fears, which (like so many furies) continually tormented us, shall lose their sting, and be turned into gladness, when he says, I will forgive. It is the saying of wise K. Solomon, That the Spirit of a Man may bear his Infirmity, but a wounded spirit who can bear? which words, though in the garb of a Question, yet are to be fil'd in [Page 115] the number of those [...] (to use the Philosopher's phrase) questions which have the energy of affirmative and nega­tive propositions; so that the Sense is, No man can bear a woun­ded Spirit. And indeed, if we consider the unspeakable tortures that they suffer, whose conscience is troubled and tempestuous, we must needs acknowledge it an in­supportable burthen. What great comfort then have we in this pro­mise, that God will forgive? that is, not only efface and blot out the stain, but pardon the guilt of Sin, which so often anticipates Doomsday, and begets a Hell on Earth.

3. But thirdly and lastly, God will heal us Politically. When Sin [Page 116] hath so highly distemper'd a Na­tion, that it is come to the very brink of destruction, then God many times comes with healing in his wings, he will make Good that of his Prophet, Jer. 30.17 They that spoil thee, shall be a spoyl, for I wil restore health unto thee, and heal thee of thy wounds; he that could make the Assyrians level their Swords at one anothers Breasts, can make us English-men (that have been too much in this Case Assyrians) sheath our Swords and run into mutual embraces. He said, By me Kings Reign, and it is as true, by me Kings fall. When he hath a mind to punish a Nation for Sin, he many times takes away excellent Princes, as he did Josiah and glorious CHARLES [Page 117] the First. And when he intends to heal a Nation, he makes those animosities that begot the first troubles, the ground of the en­suing Peace. For though the Devil's Maxim be, Divide & im­pera, yet God can make use of it to serve his most holy intentions. In the Building of Babel he made confusion of Languages the ruine of the work; and in the Restau­ration of King CHARLES the Second, he made those of diffe­rent opinions and judgments in Re­ligion, draw in the same Yoke, and as subservient Instruments, cause that Serenity which we now enjoy. I do not speak this, as if we were now as well disci­plin'd in the School of Christ as we should be: For the truth is, [Page 118] whatever secular happiness we enjoy, yet if we do but reflect on the malicious designs that are menaged at present by those that profess Christ, and the peaceable temper which he commanded all good Christians to use, when he said, My Peace I leave with you; we shall find the Kingdome is ve­ry sick, and stands in need of this Physician; who can with one word of his Mouth rebuke the madness of the people; who can teach Prince, Nobility, Clergy, and Commons, their true Interest, who can make the most inveterat hatreds end in a vigorous friend­ship; and who out of the leaves of that Tree of Life, that hath twelve manner of fruits, can make a Balsam for the healing of [Page 119] the Nations. Upon our Repen­tance he hath promised our Cure, and he both can and will be as good as his Word.

To summe up all: Let every one of us here present clap his hand upon his heart, and not only cry, I have sinned: But by a serious amendment of Life, and humble walking before him, en­devour as much as we can to be capable of his healing Influence; for he that hath promised is God, all knowledge that cannot erre, and God all truth that cannot Lye, and we ought to believe him, when he says, If my People which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways: Then will I [Page 120] hear from heaven, and will forgive their Sins, and will heal their Land.


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