A SERMON PREACHED AT Grays-Inn Chappel Novemb. the 26th. 1691.

BEING The Day of Thanksgiving, For the Success of Their Majesties Forces, and Reducing of IRELAND.

By GEORGE STANHOP, Vicar of Lewisham in Kent.

Publish'd at the Request of that Honourable Society.

LONDON: Printed for Sam. Smith, at the Prince's Arms in St. Paul's Church-yard, 1692.

A SERMON PREACHED AT Grays-Inn Chappel Novemb. the 26th. 1691.

ISAIAH xxvi. Ver. 4.

Trust ye in the Lord for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting Strength.

IN order to understand the true Meaning of this Chapter, it will be convenient to cast our Eyes back, as far as the 24th. where, after having foretold a general Destruction and Desolation in the Land, the Prophet comforts his People and himself with the escape of a Remnant; but that Remnant so few in comparison, and in such apparent danger of being swept away in the same common Ruin, that they are with great elegance represented, under [Page 2]the figures of the shakings of an Olive Tree, Ch. xxiv. ver. 13. and the gleaning Grapes when the Vintage is done. And in re­gard this Deliverance was to be terrible to their Ene­mies, no less than wonderful in it self, therefore Isaiah, according to that loftiness of stile, so peculiar to him, breaks forth into Songs of Joy and Triumph, such as might at once both magnifie the Goodness of Almighty God, and make that people duly sensible how safe and happy they were under his gracious and powerful Protection.

And if some of the best Interpreters are not mistaken in referring that Calamity to the Ten Tribes led Cap­tive by Salmanesor, and this marvellous Deliverance of God's People to the rescue of Jerusalem from Sennache­rib's Army; the potent Adversary of this Kingdom, from whose Rage God hath in some measure delivered us already, and against whom we still implore the con­tinuance of his Defence; bears so near a resemblance to that insulting Assyrian, that the Application is most easie, and the Parallel naturally draws it self. His grasping Ambition and haughty Cruelty, which are so well known to have render'd him a Terrour both at home and abroad, abundantly prove the fitness of this Hymn, being made a part of our Thanksgiving Ser­vice, and the necessity of my exhorting all that hear me to day, to a firm and devout Confidence in God. And therefore, Though your Enemies be mighty, and they that hate you wrongfully are many in number, yet still, Trust ye in the Lord for ever, for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting Strength.

The Text plainly perswades to a Duty, and backs that Perswasion with an Argument, drawn from the Power and Providence of Almighty God; for the en­forcing whereof, I shall, First, say something to the Pro­phet's [Page 3]Arguments, and shew how secure a Ground of Dependence that Power and Providence of God is to us.

Secondly, What this Duty of trusting in him for ever implies. and when we may be said truly to discharge it. And,

Thirdly, I shall bring these general Considerations home to our selves, and to the particular occasion of this present Solemnity.

1.] First, I am to speak to the Prophet's Argument, and shew, how secure a Ground of Dependence the Power and Providence of God is to us. It requires but very moderate Reflection, and no extraordinary Depth of Thought to convince men, that the Successes of their Undertakings, and Accomplishment of their Hopes, are not perfectly in their own power: The vast and surprizing variety of Accidents that attend human Life, demonstrates most sensibly to each particular person's experience, the truth of the Preacher's Observation, That the Race is not alwaies to the swift, Eccles. ix. 11.nor the Battel to the strong. And this teaches us, at the same time, the extream [...]olly of depending upon our own Abilities, and most probable Endeavours, when we frequently see the events of things so little correspondent to them. But though this perplexing Consideration have driven some to impute all to the undistinguishing hits of blind Chance, because of the great disproportion be­tween Mens Merits and their Fortunes; and though others have been carried into a very distant but alto­gether as unaccountable an Extreme, and bound up eve­ry thing in the Fetters of a necessary Fatality, yet we are to remember, these were such as knew not [Page 4]God, nor had any just Apprehensions of his wise and steddy Government of the World; and that we may and ought to possess our Souls in much more patience. We can take more effectual Methods, both for the conducting our Actions, and for sa­tisfying our selves with the different Conclusions of them to us. We, I say, who have learned from the unerring Oracles of God, where our Confidence is to be placed, from whence we must expect the last Results of all, and, that what St. Paul has told us in another case, is true also in this; That it is not of him that willeth, Rom. ix. 16.nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth Mercy.

And, after we have brought our selves to this general acknowledgment of God's over-ruling Pro­vidence, there are several Attributes in his Nature, which may strongly move us to take off our Confidence from all other, though never so pro­mising Objects, and place it entirely in that alone. Such, for instance, is his Goodness, which ever in­clines him to grant what is most advantageous, and make all things work together, Rom. viii. 28.for the benefit of them that love him. Such his Wisdom, whereby he defeats all the most politick Contrivances of Men, and manifests to the whole World, how vain and inconsistent, how thin and slight, how like the wild sick Dreams of Feaverish men, all their fond Imaginati­ons are; and such his Power, which, in despight of any opposition to the contrary, effects the whole good Counsel of his Will, and performs all his Pleasure. Of this last more especially the Text takes notice, and has recommended it, from the Greatness [Page 5]and the Eternity of it. In the Lord Jehovah is strength, and that strength is everlasting.

What this Strength is originally, and in it self, we cannot comprehend, but that it is inherent and essential to the Nature of God, the Prophet hints, by mentioning him under the Appellation of Jeho­vah; which, above all other his Titles, doth most significantly set forth the Glory of His Majesty, and the unchangeable Constancy of those Perfections we ascribe to him. The external Operations then of this Strength, are the most powerful Inducements to rely upon it: And though, even of these too, a great part is a Secret to us; nor can we pursue Providence through all the Labyrinths of its dark and wonderful Dispensations towards Mankind, yet is there so much of it visible and evident, as most justly commands our observation, and is proper to fix our Confidence; as particularly in these three Instan­ces that follow.

  • 1.] First, The gracious Concurrence of Almigh­ty God with Second Causes, and his enabling them to produce their usual effects.
  • 2.] Secondly, His more wonderful transcending or superseding those Causes, so as upon some oc­casions, either to make them act beside their Natural Power and Order, or to produce such things without them, to which, according to the common course of the World, they are ne­cessarily required.
  • [Page 6]3.] Thirdly, The occasion of his exerting these Powers in such a manner, which is generally, for the sake of all, or part of Mankind.

1.] The first Evidence of this Power, is his gracious Concurrence with Second Causes, and enabling them to produce their usual Effects. In all Employments and Designs of Life, particular means and instruments are chosen for particular and distinct purposes, and every thing will no more serve for every use, than every Sence can perceive every Object. He that would expect Moisture out of Iron, or Heat out of Ice; and he that hopes to hear with his Eyes, and to see with his Ears, were equally ridiculous. Now, the bestowing these several Dispositions upon things, the determining them at first to their several Faculties, and limitting their Powers to such peculiar uses, ra­ther than others, is manifestly the wise disposal of a Superiour Mind. And after that these Disposi­tions are thus bestowed and restrained, yet still his Concurrence is necessary, to bring these Abilities he has given to a good effect: For, even the most pro­per and likely means do sometimes fail of compassing their ends, which they could never do, if they had an absolute Sufficiency in themselves, and did not de­pend upon some Higher Being for Perfection and Success. As therefore the Ax is fitted for cutting, but yet can only do it in such a place, and at such a time, and to such a degree as the Hand of the Artificer directs; so are these lower Causes, which this World contains, no more in truth, than so many Aptnesses and Tendencies, able to perform on­ly [Page 7]such things, and in such proportions, as the Great Maker and Mover of all is pleas'd to give Leave and Assistance. If He but hold his Hand, the whole Engine stands still; if He withdraw the Powers derived from him, then the Work is not only interrupted, but all the Fabrick falls to pieces. The swiftness of Pharaoh's Chariots could do him no Service when the Lord clogg'd the Wheels with new weight, and made them drive heavily: Exod. xiv. 25. And all Creatures attend so entirely upon his Plea­sure, that, as the Psalmist observes very well, Psal. civ. 29. He need only hide his Face, and they are troubled; when he taketh away their Breath they dye, and are tur­ned again to their primitive Dust. Of such absolute Necessity is the Almighty's continual Concurrence, and so clear an Evidence of his Strength it is, even when the most ordinary things are effected by even the most ordinary means.

2.] But, because our Observation is wont to rest too soon, and pursue things no farther than the lowest Causes and most immediate Instruments, by which our Senses shew them perfected to us; and because, according to the common method of Na­ture, effects are usually, though not alwaies the same when the same course is taken to bring them a­bout: Therefore Almighty God does sometimes awa­ken mens Minds by the more sensible Tokens of his Presence, and extort an acknowledgment of his Providence by some more wonderful and surprising Instances. These are such as my second particular mentions, when he either transcends, or wholly su­persedes these next Causes. The former is done [Page 8]when he makes them act beside their Natural Power and Order; the latter, when he produces such things without them, as they are necessarily re­quired to the production of, according to the settled course of the World.

Sometimes we find him transcending these Causes, by stretching their Efficacy farther than Nature and Use have done; as, when a Barrel of Meal, and a Cruise of Oyl, 1 Kings, xvil, 11. &c. Joh. vl. 5, &c. sustained several persons for a good while without wasting; when five Barly Loaves and two small Fishes satisfied five thousand people; when a raw unarmed Youth, as David, slew an experienc'd mighty Champion, 1 Sam. xvii. Goliah the Great, infinitely his Superiour in strength and all the advantages of War; when Jonathan and his Armour-bearer attack'd the Garrison at Mickmash, 1 Sam. xiv. and a whole Army of Phili­stines were put into disorder by two men. In all these cases Nature outdid her self, and the Event was very much above what we commonly find it, or what Prudence and a well-weigh'd Judgment can fairly pro­mise from any human means. Upon other occasi­ons he puts a Restraint upon Nature, and sets a Bar to its Dispositions and Faculties; as, in shutting up the Lions mouths, and faming that Hunger and Na­tive Rage to Daniel; Dan. vi. which when this miraculous Confinement was taken off again, returned with all its ravening force upon his Accusers. And that yet more amazing preservation of the Three Chil­dren in the Furnace, Dan. iii. upon whom not so much as the smell of Fire had passed, tho' the persons that bound and cast them in, perished at a distance, with the Ex­tremity of its Heat.

Again, as Nature is sometimes thus disjointed and put out of course, so is it at others wholly laid aside: And this happens either when God produces things without any contribution of Second Causes; as, when he rained Manna upon the Israelitish Camp, Exod. xvi. Numb. xi. Psal. lxxviii. Ver. 25, 28. Numb. xxii. and feathered Fowls as the Sand of the Sea; when he impower'd the dumb Ass with Man's voice, to rebuke the madness of the Prophet; and when he sustained Moses forty days and forty nights, Exod. xxxiv. 28. without eating or drinking in the Mount: Or, which seems still to be a greater Violence, when he makes those Causes subservient to quite contrary Effects; as, Exod. xiv. in gathering the Waters of the Red-Sea together, and fixing them like Walls and Rocks at one time, and at another, cleaving the hard Rock, and melting it down, so that the Waters gushed out, xvii.and Rivers flowed in the dry places. These, and infinite other Examples the Scriptures furnish us with, wherein the Lord Jehovah shewed his everlasting Strength; which will appear to be most fitly laid by the Prophet here, as a sure Foundation for our Trust in him, if we proceed to consider,

3.] Thirdly, That that which gives occasion for the exerting this Duty, is generally the Benefit of all, or part of Mankind. We cannot think at all, and at the same time continue insensible, what a cherishing and constant Care is taken of the whole World, and how liberally our indulgent Creator extends his Mercy over all his Works. Now both our Saviour and his Apostle have given us Au­thority to improve this Consideration to our own comfort and very great advantage: That if God [Page 10] cloth the Grass of the Field, Mat. vi. 26, 30. 1 Cor. ix. 9, 10.and feed the Fowls of the Air, and take care for Oxen, he does it for our sakes. That he cannot in reason be supposed to neglect a Creature that wears his own Image, and consequently of much more excellence and value with him than they: So that Men seem to have the first Title to his Affections; they are justified in expectations of a peculiar Tenderness and most immediate Protection: And every unworthy Di­strust of this is often reproved in the Gospel, as arguing either great Ignorance or little Faith in them.

But even among Men we may discern some difference made; for, though His Concern descend to all, even the most minute-circumstances of Hu­man Life, and the very Hairs of our Head are all numbred before him, Mat. x. 30. yet where we meet with a per­son of extraordinary Piety and Worth, or such a one as he has chosen, and mark'd out for an In­strument of doing some Great Work, and mani­festing his Power to the World, there it is easie to observe, how Providence charges it self after a more signal manner with that persons's Preser­vation and Success. 1 Kin. xvii. Such was the feeding Elijah by Ravens, and hiding him with his own hand in the hollow of a Rock; 1 Sam. xix. xx, &c. such the frequent Rescues of David, from the Malice of that blood-thirsty Tyrant, that hunted him like a Partridge upon the Mountains; 2 Sam. 11. and at last the exaltation of him to the Throne of his unnatural Enemy; and such the Refreshment of Sampson, Judg. xv. 19. when just expiring with [Page 11]Thirst, by turning the Jaw-bone of an Ass into a springing Well.

Yet after all this, it must be acknowledged, that as the dignity and consequence of the Occa­sion does best justifie such Miracles of Mercy, so the care and kindness of our God is then most eminent and illustrious, when employed in the pro­tection of whole States, and Religious Kingdoms, People that have undertaken the profession of the Truth, and devoted themselves to his Service. What a continued Chain of Wonders do we read in all his dealings with the Children of Israel? in forming them at first into a Nation; in redeem­ing them from their Bondage; in sustaining them in the Wilderness, in the midst of Scarcity and Drought, of Serpents and Scorpions; in disposses­sing the Canaanites, and subduing their foreign In­vaders; and when their incorrigible Offences and inflexible Hardness of Heart provoked his Justice, then, by an astonishing mixture of Kindness and Severity, at once preserving his People, and puni­shing their Perverseness. No History in the World could ever furnish out such memorable Instances of God's tender Regard; and yet, every Christi­an Country is as truly his Darling and Peculiar as they were; every such Community is as deeply interested in his Favour, except, like them too, they obstruct the Current of his Grace, and forfeit their own Advantages.

The Sum of my first Head is briefly this: That Almighty God, like a wise Ruler, hath fixed a Law and regular Method in Nature, yet in such a man­ner, that nothing should be perfectly independent, but the very Success of common and probable means should be still owing to his Blessing and gracious Permission, and the Divine Power shew it self eminently, even in this point; That there are besides and above these Rules, some special and re­served Cases, which appeal from, and are Excepti­ons to them, and that for the more awakening and conspicuous Demonstrations of his Power, up­on solemn and emergent occasions: To which, when we have added one Reflection more, viz. That the Good of all or some part of Mankind is generally the occasion which calls forth this Power into exercise; nothing can be wanting to establish our Hearts by a stedfast Trust in God.

Which Duty, what it imports, after all that has been already said, will very easily appear, and that by three Particulars, with respect to each of the three former Considerations.

1.] As, first, the Concurrence of God's Power with ordinary Causes, implies, that, as a Testimo­ny of our Trust in him, we should make use of proper and pertinent means, and that this be done with Diligence and Submission to his wiser disposal of us and our Affairs.

[Page 13] 1.] With Diligence, because these inferiour Helps are the Instruments he usually works by, and hath promised to prosper Mens Undertakings in propor­tion to them. For, though the Race be not al­waies, yet is usually to the Swift, and the Battel for the most part to the Strong; and he that should assault an Enemy without any Regard had to the Strength and Number, the Conduct and Counsel on either side, deserves to stand in Histo­ry a lasting Monument of Infamy and Reproach, for Folly and Irreligion. To cast all our care upon God, in this sence is not Confidence, but Presump­tion; and those who have the vanity to expect he should break the Scheme of his Government, and do things out of the common Road of Nature, meerly to patronize their Sloth or Enthusiastick Madness; that plunge themselves in apparent and unnecessary Difficulties, in hopes that, when they are entangled in the Snare, an Almighty Hand should come down in Thunder and cut it, and set them free; these men do not trust in God, but tempt him. David, 'tis true, hath taught us, That no King can be saved by the multitude of an Host, Psal. xxxiii. 15 if the LORD of Hosts think fit to interpose and disappoint him; Luk. xiv. 31, 32. but yet a greater than David condemns the Imprudence of that King, who being to wage War, does not first sit down and consult, whether he be able with Ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with Twenty thou­sand; or else, if he find himself hard pressed, does not send and sollicite a Treaty of Peace, [Page 14]rather than hazard his own and his Peoples Safety upon unequal and disadvantageous Terms.

But to this prudent Care we must add Sub­mission too; for, if the want of our own Dili­gence be an abuse of God's Power, the resting en­tirely upon that Diligence is a disowning of it. This tends directly to the shutting out Providence from any Right or Interest in human Affairs, and strikes at the very Root and Bottom of all Re­ligion. This is a sort of Idolatry to our selves, for which reason the Prophet calls it very elegantly, Habak. i. 16. sacrificing to mens own Net, and burning Incense to their own Drag: For, nothing is more certain than this; That if there were no Superintendency of an Higher Being, to assist or oppose, to crown or to defeat our Endeavours, all Devotion and Prayer for temporal Blessings, all Thanks and Praise, (and this days Assembly, to be sure, in a particular man­ner) would be not only an unnecessary Trouble, but the idlest and rudest Mockery of God, the most sensless Hypocrisie, and ridiculous piece of Pagean­try in the whole World. When we have therefore done all within the power of Counsel and Strength, still this is but preparing our business for Perfe­ction. Ours is the rough Draught, but the finish­ing strokes must be received from another Hand: And, except He ratifie all with his Royal Assent and Confirmation, our most auspicious Beginnings are as if nothing had ever been begun at all. This then is the short but true state of our Con­dition: If any Failings on our part hinder the Suc­cess, [Page 15]we have been our own Defeaters; if our Wishes and Attempts have found a fortunate Con­clusion, this is the Grace of ours and the Worlds Governour; if our Desires and Endeavours prove abortive, and Dangers at any time grow upon us, and all this too, notwithstanding the discharge of a sincere Conscience and prudent Application, the next step of our Duty is, a free and humble re­signation of our Persons and Interests, into the Hands of our merciful Creator.

2.] And this makes way for a second Argu­ment of our Trust in God, that as his Strength is everlasting, so our Trust should be for ever too: For, from the Consideration, That he can transcend or supersede all second or common Cau­ses, we are obliged not to cast away our Consi­dence in him, no, not though all human and pro­bable Prospects should have forsaken us. Thus we find Hezekiah upon his Knees, in the Distress to which this Prophecy is supposed to referr, infla­ming his Zeal with the greatness of the Danger, and his utter Inability to disingage himself from it: He laments it as a day of Trouble, and Rebuke, Ch. xxxvii.and Blasphemy, and compares his condition to the pangs of a Woman in Travail, when the Children are come to the Birth, and there is not strength to bring forth: And then is the proper Season for the Divine Power to glorifie it self; then the Mercy is enlar­ged to them that confess its kindly Influences, and its Honour best asserted to those who prophane and deny them, when the Impotence of Human Methods has made us ripe for Miracles, and no [Page 16]Interposition less than Divine can retrieve us: And accordingly the Answer of Isaiah presents us with a lively and beautiful Image of God's over-ruling and invincible Strength; for, though this insulting Tyrant might slounce and kick, like a wild Bull in a Net, or an untamed Horse, yet God would put his Hook in his Nose, V. 29.and his Bri­dle in his Lips; would break and manage this head­strong rebellious Beast, and like a skilful Rider, turn him his own way, i. e. command him immediately home again. And certainly he, who rather than desert his Servants, is used to engage the very Elements on their side, that slew multitudes with a Storm of Hailstones, Josh. x. Judg. v. and marshall'd the Stars in their courses to fight against Sisera; can never want Methods, though to us unknown, to rescue his People from their Calamities. Whether it be by turning their Enemy's Counsels into Foolish­ness, 2 Sam. xvii. 14. Ch. xxxvii. 36. 2 Kin. vli, 6. as he did Achitophel's, or by blowing up Dissentions among themselves, as between the Three Kings combined against Jehoshaphat; or by confounding them with a sudden panick Fear, as he did the Host of the Syrians; or by giving them some Diversion; or by a swift Messenger of Vengeance and Slaughter; as in this very Case, when the Assyrian hasting to preserve his own Country against Annoyances from a Neighbouring Prince, 2 Chron. xx. 23. left Fourscore and Five thousand of his Army behind him, slain by an unseen Hand. These, and many other the like Instances, will condemn all mean Thoughts and unworthy Di­strusts of God's Everlasting Strength, all the Mea­surings of his Mighty Arm by our own weak [Page 17]Arm of Flesh; for, then it is that our Hearts speak noble and becoming Apprehensions concer­ning him; when, though our Enemies are daily in hand to swallow us up, and many continually fight­ing and troubling us, yet we are not dismayed at what Man can do unto us. And though Flesh and Blood will recoil, and we be sometimes afraid, yet may we conquer all the Surprizes and A­mazements of frail Nature, and buoy up our sink­ing Souls with this single but most powerful Re­flection; That if God be for us, it signifies little, but very little, who can be against us.

3.] Thirdly, From God's exerting his Power for the Good of Mankind, and among them distin­guishing between his faithful Servants and the rest of the World, we may plainly perceive, that the Duty of trusting in God implies a Care to lead such Lives, as may fit us for his Mercy, and recommend us to his more peculiar Favour and Protection. The distribution of Worldly Blessings is not so confined to good and holy men, as that Prosperity should be a mark of Piety; very far from that, God knows: But yet these Happi­nesses are much more reasonably expected, and may be more securely depended upon, by such as study to please God, than those that make it their constant business to provoke and affront him. However, the publick Peace and Safety will hard­ly fail a Nation truly zealous in the Promotion and Practice of Religion, because these Societies being dissolved and lost hereafter, there can be [Page 18]no common Reward then for men considered in their publick Capacities. And this makes a very remarkable difference between the Fortunes of Kingdoms and those of private persons. In one of these Cases there is a very fair account to be given of that promiscuous Providence, so observa­ble in the World, because we know there is still a future Judgment in reserve, and God can make any single man ample amends in another World, for any the severest Tribulations in this: But, there are no politick Bodies of Men in the other World, and therefore there seems to be a Necessity that such Communities should receive their Re­compence at present, because otherwise they can never be in a condition of receiving any Re­compence at all. I add too, That this Reflecti­on, by the same reason, must needs prove the Necessity of such Societies being punished in this World, and, by consequence, the abominable Im­piety and Prophaneness of imploring National Blessings, without serious Resolution and strict En­deavours of better Obedience. In this case it is not meerly a Perswasion of God's Power, though never so strong and sanguine, but it is a Con­scientious Care to engage that Power on our side, that is trusting in him. Else we may lament our Distresses to no purpose, so long as that Reproach lies against us, in the 59th. of this Prophecy, at the first and second Verses. Behold, the Lord's Hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor his Ear heavy, that it cannot hear; but your Iniquities have separated between you and your God, [Page 19]and your sins have hid his Face from you, that he will not hear.

Thus I have done with the Text in its compre­hensive Sence, and as propounding a general Duty with the Ground of it; I beg Leave now only to bring these Considerations home to our own Case, and so conclude.

1.] And, First, For the Almighty's favourable Concurrence with Human Means and Second Cau­ses, we all stand here as so many living Monu­ments of Joy, for his Power and Goodness in it. And sure it were too vile, too impious an Indig­nity to the just Honours of this Day and Place, not to commemorate with a most sensible and fervent Gratitude, those Mercies, to which we owe the very opportunities of addressing our Thanks to GOD in this religious manner; for, not only our Liberties and Civil Rights, but, in all human prospect, our very Lives too, and which to every good man is infinitely dearer than both, the Purity of our Faith and Worship, have been preserved to us by these Successes. What words then shall we find expressive enough of the Acknowledgments due to our Gracious GOD, for all those prosperous Events, which either our own Strength and Policy, the Courage and Conduct of our Defenders and Allies, or the Cowardice, Cruel­ty, Imprudence, or Misfortunes of our Enemies, have been the Instruments of to us? For, even these are His, and could avail us nothing, till he [Page 20]was pleased to perfect and form them into Bles­sings. But especially, What Incense, what Sacrifice of Praise can be too much for his reserving to us, and to our Age, an Age that so much needed him, a Prince of that indefatigable and generous Valour? For, inspiring his Royal Breast with a vigorous and active Fire, not such as wasts away ingloriously, in the soft Delights and Luxuries of Courts, or is kindled by devouring Avarice, and preys upon all about it; but which exerci­ses it self in Arms and Dangers, for a Check to mighty Oppressors, and the seasonable Relief of Distressed Mankind. And more particularly yet, while he despis'd his own for the sake of our com­mon Safety, for the watchful Care, and many eminent Preservations of that Royal, that most Important Life, by the single Thread of which the present Happiness and future Hopes, I say not of these Kingdoms, but of all this Western World, seem at this juncture to hang. Thus far we have tasted the Bounties of an Indulgent Providence already, a foretaste, I hope, of many more and greater; for into more and greater we may and must endeavour to improve them. And if this be not done by a cheerful Fidelity and unanimous Diligence, an humble Submission to, and a beco­ming Entertainment of the Divine Dispensations toward us, our Blood must lye upon our own Heads; and all our future Fears and future Miseries may be justly esteemed no longer our Fate, but our foolish and perverse Choice: For, Whence shall we fetch Arguments strong enough to smooth the [Page 21]roughness of our Minds at home, and cement us close in Peace and mutual Affection to one ano­ther, if the universal Apprehensions of the same formidable Common Enemy will not do it, and the being engag'd for the same publick Cause a­broad, in which, as in one common center, all our most distant Opinions and divided Interests are united and concern'd? Or, What can quick­en our Diligence, and confirm our Resolution, if the bright Example of a Royal Leader, so un­usually lavish of Toyl and Blood, will not awa­ken the old English Gallantry, and warm our frozen Zeal, and provoke us to a decent imita­tion? But, above all, How shall we answer to God and our own Consciences those desponding Murmures and unreasonable Complaints, which are more than whisper'd in our Streets? We deal with Providence like greedy insatiable Traders, who compute their Advantages only by clear Gains, and never allow the Goods that are saved to them any place at all in the Account. For, Is it (I am sure it ought not to be) a small thing with us, that we have seen safe, when al­most despaired, arrivals of rich Cargoes from a­broad; that the Clouds, which so often were ga­thering in our sight, have not broken upon our Heads; that we are not reduced to the last shifts of Poverty and Exile, nor ask our Food and Rai­ment in a strange Land; but, while other Coun­tries have been the Unhappy Scenes of Violence and Confusion, Ours, whose Interest is yet equal in the Quarrel, continues calm and composed, a [Page 22]peaceful Habitation for Natives, and a Sanctuary and sure Retreat for afflicted Strangers? Blessed therefore be that good Providence, by which we only hear and read those distant Tragedies that others languish and dye under. And much too coldly are they heard and read, if we have not the Grace to grow thankful by the Comparison. Blessed be his Name, that we have lived to see the British Monarchy once more balancing King­domes, restraining exorbitant Power and Oppres­sion, giving Life to a noble, numerous, and most just Confederacy, putting a stop to proud trium­phant Armies, full of Blood and Conquest, and stemming the Torrent of that still-growing Am­bition, which else would bear down and swallow all before it. These are something more than the Beginnings of Victory and Happiness; and if such considerations cannot prevail with Men, not to be peevish, and dissatisfied at least, it is from a nar­row Spirit of private Discontent, or because they want Bowels for their Brethren's Calamities, and have too faint a sense of the near approaches of their own. If Losses and Disappointments have been sometimes mingled with such signal Pre­servations, this is but a human and very ordi­nary thing, agreeable to the Condition of War, in which there are so many Contingencies, so many seeming-little Accidents, which yet draw vast Consequences after them, that a clear and uninter­rupted Conquest cannot in reason ever be expect­ed; but agreeable especially to the Justice of GOD, who often deals thus with Men; and [Page 23](as he imposed upon the murmuring Israelites a Forty Years sojourning in the Wilderness) so makes the crossing of our Expectations, and the de­lay of future Mercies a punishment for being ungrate­ful, and insensibly of the present ones.

2.] Secondly, As the Successes received by or­dinary means, call for our Thanks, so our very Difficulties and Disasters, were they infinitely blacker, and more ghastly than even Discontent can paint them, would not justifie any repining Distrust of God's Strength and Providence; be­cause we observ'd before, that he does not bind himself up to the common Laws of Nature, nor alwaies rest in usual means, but hath left a Power of dispensing with those Laws at pleasure, and acting by methods superior to them. This I have shewed he often does upon solemn and urgent occasions, when the Necessities of his Servants, or the Provocations of his Enemies, are grown above all common Remedies, and require a mira­culous Redress. And truly, if we compare the present state of Affairs with some Instances, in which he hath formerly thought his Honour con­cern'd, many circumstances seem to call aloud for his particular and more immediate Vindication: For, if the Sighs and Tears of Widows and Fa­therless, and the Cry of the Blood of Innocents have not lost their ancient Faculty of piercing the Clouds; if Cities laid in Ashes, whole Coun­try's depopulated; if Oppression and Sacriledge, Broken Faith with Subjects, and Leagues with In­fidels, [Page 24]to assist in the Destruction of Christians; if these be as much the God of Justice and Pity's Care now, as he once declared them to be; again, if the Martyrdome and Flight of some, whose only Crime was a stedfast Belief of the Truth, and a just Abhorrence of Idolatry and Su­perstition, and the dissembled Retractations of o­thers, extorted by Violence and Human Frailty, be not negligently overlook'd by that tender Sa­viour, who suffers in his afflicted Members, hun­gers and thirsts in their Wants, is cold in all their Nakedness, bleeds in all their Wounds, and is op­pressed in all their Persecutions: Lastly, If extra­vagant Insolence, and blasphemous Pride, even Medals and Statues, with Inscriptions peculiar to GOD alone, can awake the Jealousie of Hea­ven, we may, without incurring the imputation of Enthusiasm, expect that the Divine Judgments will not alwaies linger, but in some eminent man­ner discharge it self, upon this bold Defier of GOD, this Christian, and for that reason, the blacker and more provoking Sennacherib of the two.

These are, in plain terms, the due Praises of that Glorious, that Invincible Monarch; these the Noble Topicks, that have exhausted all the nauseous Flatteries of so many mercenary Tongues and Pens: As if they would fain make us be­lieve, that Christianity and Human Nature have both forgot themselves, and neither now know any Quality so Great and Godlike as that of be­ing [Page 25]a Terrour to Subjects and Neighbours, and a mighty Murderer of Mankind. It is with a very ill Grace that these barbarous Excellencies are Dei­fied, since the gentle and peaceable Doctrine of JESUS was sent abroad to reform and com­pose the World. Nor could such Glories ever be proper Ornaments in a Prince's Character, since those dark and wretched days of Superstitious Ig­norance and Slavish Fear, when Men burnt In­cense to that roaring Lion, who goes about continually, seeking whom he may devour.

3.] These Reflections are but too just upon our Adversary; but alas! while we indulge them, do not our own grievous Offences give us check, and will hardly suffer us to believe, that Ven­geance, though fit to be taken, is yet likely to be taken for our sakes: And therefore, un­less, according to my Third Observation, we fix Almighty GOD in our Interests, by sincere amend­ment of Life, all other Encouragements will prove at last no better than imaginary Delusions; Luk. i. 51, 52 He scatters the proud indeed, and puts down the migh­ty, but it is, that he may exalt the humble and meek, those that, as the Prophet says here, wait for him in the way of his Judgments; that is, v. 8. re­ceive all his Providences with a pious and beco­ming Temper of Mind, and make the true and best improvements of them. When our Behaviour has distinguish'd us first, then there is a good Hope that his Mercy will do so too: For, the wise Ammonite's Advice to Holofernes is very re­markable [Page 26]to this purpose; (Judith, v. 20, 21.) Now therefore, my Lord and Governour, if there be any Errour in this People, and they sin against their God, let us consider, that this shall be their ruin, and let us go up, and we shall overcome them: And if there be no Iniquity in their Na­tion, let my Lord now pass by, lest their Lord de­fend them, and their God be for them, and we be­come a reproach before all the World.

Thus the Sins of a Kingdom enfeeble and expose it; these give an Edge to their Enemies Swords, and deal more certain Deaths than Fire and Gunpowder; but Innocence fences a People in, and renders them invincible. This then is the true method of loving our Country, and preserving the common Safety, by just and holy Conversations to prevent and remove our greatest and most fatal Danger, to become, even at home, a secret Shelter and impregnable Bulwark to those Fleets and Armies that are our Defence abroad: For, without Repentance and Virtue, to help forward the Success, their Strength is vain, and our Fastings and Thanksgivings are also vain: But if Reformation be our serious Care, then they may have boldness in the day of Battel, and we at the Throne of Grace, to which Throne we are all, I hope, now come full of this holy Reso­lution, and therefore let us approach with that plea­sing importunity recommended in the second Les­son for this day; Luke xviii. and may the God of Heaven mer­cifully incline his Ear to our Prayers.

May whatever Evils the craft and malice of the Devil or Man worketh against us be scattered and brought to nought; may the Almighty still im­mure the King's Person with a Guard of Angels, and continue him a successful Instrument of his wise and gracious purposes; may these joyful Solemnities of Thanks and Triumph for his and our Deliverances, make frequent returns upon us; and may he daily erect new Trophies in the Hearts of his Subjects, till all the glad Presages of our Souls be fully confirmed and accomplish'd, till Peace and Happiness, Truth and Justice, Religion and Piety, be establish'd among us for all Generations. And let all the People say, Amen.


BOOKS printed for Samuel Smith, at the Prince's Arms in St. Paul's Church-yard, 1691.

A Sermon preached at the Assizes at Horsham in the County of Sussex, Aug, 23. 1691. before the Honourable Sir William Dolben, Knight, one of the Justices of the Court of Kings-Bench. By Richard Lucas, D. D. Vicar of St. Stephens Coleman­street, London. In 4to. Price 6 d.

Enquiry after Happiness. Vol. the First, in 8vo. Price 3 s. 6 d.

The true Notion of Human Life; or, a Second Part of the Enquiry after Happiness. In 8vo. 1690. Price 2 s. 6 d.

The Duty of Servants. Containing, 1. The Parents Duty, how to educate their Children, that they may be fit to be employed and trusted. 2. What preparation is needful for such as are entring into Service, with some Rules to be observed by them, how to make a wise and happy Choice of a Service. 3. Their Duty in Service towards God, their Master, and themselves; tegether with suitable Prayers to each Duty; and some Directions peculiarly to Servants, for the worthy receiving the Holy Sacrament. Published for the benefit of Families. In 8vo. Price 1 s. 6 d.

All written by the same Author.

A Sermon preached at the Assizes held at Chelmsford in the County of Essex, Sept. 2. 1691. before Sir William Dolben, Knight, &c. By Stephen Thornton. A. M. 4to. 1691.

The Wisdom of God manifested in the Works of the Creation. By Jo. Ray, M. A. Fellow of the Royal Society. In 8vo. 1691. Price 2 s. 6 d.

A New History of the Roman Conclave: Containing the Rites and Ceremonies used and observed at the Death, Election, and Coronation of the Pope. As also an exact Description of the state of Rome, during the Vacancy of that Chair. Together with a brief account of the Life of this present Pope Innocent XII. 4to. Price 6 d. 1691.

The Triumphs of the Holy Jesus; or, a Divine Poem of the Birth, Life, Death and Resurrection of our Saviour. By J. Salter formerly of St. Mary Magdalen-College in Oxon, now Vicar of St. Marys Church in Devon. 1692.

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