A SERMON PREACHED Before the Right HONOURABLE, THE LORDS Assembled in Parliament, In the Abbey Church of St. Peters, Westminster, Upon the Fast-day appointed April 10. 1678.

By WILLIAM, Lord Bishop of St. Davids.

LONDON, Printed by Tho. Newcomb for Tho. Collins, at the Middle Temple Gate in Fleet-street; and William Leach, at the Crown in Cornhill near the Stocks Market▪ 1678.

Die Jovis 11o Aprilis, 1678.

ORdered by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament Assembled, That the Thanks of this House be given to the Lord Bishop of St. Davids, for his Ser­mon preached yesterday in the Abbey Church at Westminster, before the House of Peers; it being appointed by His Majesty to be observed as a Publick Fast-day in the Cities of London and Westminster. And his Lordship is de­sired by this House to Print and Publish the said Sermon.

JO. BROWNE. Cleric. Parliament.

A SERMON Preached before the Right Honorable, The HOVSE of PEERS, At the Abbey Church of S. Peters Westminster, on April 10. 1678.

S. Luke 13. ver. 5.‘I tell you, Nay; but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.’

OUr blessed Saviour hav­ing, in the close of the former Chapter, treated of the disconsolate close of life, of the dismal state of Man dying unre­conciled to God, in security, impenitency; (it being a symptom of the most irreco­verable misery, not to commiserate ones [Page 2] self;Nil miserius misero, non miserante se­ipsum. Aug. to be upon the brink of the greatest peril, and not to dread the least.) Some Passengers that accidentally intervened, boulted out the fresh Tragical Intelligence of the destruction of the Galileans.

This is the Novel (and for ought I find) single conjecture of Maldonate.

It is more credibly and generally assert­ed, that some of Christs set Auditors here, took the hint, and mentioned the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their Sacrifices; as if a singular impiety had ren­dred them liable to this singular cruelty; as if God had cull'd them out for vessels of his indignation to be poured into; as if he had set them for Brands of an unparal­lel'd unremitted guilt.

Our humane corrupt Nature is no less prone to impeach, to doom wickedness at distance, than to espouse, embrace it at hand.

Christ, the true Oracle, teacheth the Is­raelites better Divinity, not to usurp Gods Throne of Judicature, to pass Sentence of Condemnation upon others, but to erect a Tribunal in their own bosome, to arraign themselves.

[Page 3] Christ reproveth their erroneous senti­ment touching the Galileans, embrued in their own Oblations (the Offerer being become the Offering.) And touching the Eighteen persons, shivered to their first Principles, by the sudden demolition of the Tower of Siloam. As for both, the esti­mate, the measure of their vices is not to be taken by their calamities.

I tell you, Nay; but except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.

The Text is chequer'd with Clemency and Severity; it blunts the edge without, to restrain our censure; and sharpens it within, to excite our repentance.

It is a Pillar of Cloud by day, to en­wrap the offences of others in an ob­scure concealment; it is a Pillar of Fire by night, for the discovery of our own, to enlighten our judgments, to enflame our zeal: not to be Satyrists, Criticks; but Pe­nitents, Converts.

The Text is twice recited within the compass of five verses; it is a reiterated smart admonition, the same sacred adver­tisement [Page 4] upon a double dysaster; the one permitted by God, executed by Pilate; the other hath the aspect of a more immediate stroke of the Divine Justice.

The Text brancheth it self to two Pro­positions.

The one negative, implicite, wrapt up; I tell you, Nay.

The other, positive, explicite, unfolded; Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish.

The first may be thus unvailed.

Neither the Galileans slaughtered amidst their Sacrifices, nor those Eighteen Persons crush'd at the Tower Siloam, were greater Transgressors, than the other Israelites. It is Debtors above others, [...], Luke 13. 4. in the immediate precedent verse. It is a frequent Syriack Idiom: They were not more chargeable for the Talent misemploy'd, embezel'd, than other accomptants in Israel.

The Proposition admits a double sur­veigh, Historical, and Doctrinal.

In our Historical consideration, there is an harmony among Expositors touching those that perish'd at the Tower of Siloam. A Narration scarce any where else ex­tant [Page 5] in Sacred or Prophane Records.

Touching the former Calamity (that of the Galileans) there hath been started varie­ty of Opinions.

Some gloss the Title Galileans to be a disguise for Samaritans; Galilee (being out of the Verge of Pilat's Jurisdiction.) St. Cy­ril of Alexandrina, and others in his Track, unmasque the Galileans to be the Disciples of Judas the Gaulonite, a grand turbulent Incendiary, who had trained his Scholars in a Lecture of the blackest grain of Sedi­tion, (Nigriani in the primitive style) who instructed them to withdraw their obedi­ence from the Roman Empire,Nec Nigri­ani, nec Cassi ani. Tertul. and their intercession for the Emperour. Whereof Pilate being certified, surprised, massacred these Galileans, as they were celebrating their Sacrifices.

Samaritans they might be for Climate, for extraction; and yet denominated Gali­leans for their Sect, for their Tutor.

There is a third Relation of a famous, or rather infamous Magician of Galilee, who, in the notion of a Messiah, had incouraged multitudes (saith Aegesippus) conducted them to Mount Ge [...]izim, alledging he [Page 6] would thence ascend to Heaven. Which Imposture, Pilate blasted in the bud, con­futed their blasphemy, not by the Tongue or Pen, but by the Sword.

To decline the Historical view of the Proposition, the Doctrinal may be thus dis­played.

The greatest pressures, the sharpest mi­series, the saddest periods of this Life, are no demonstrative Arguments, to conclude the greatest sinners.

The Clouds distil their soft dew, pour down their fertil showers; the Sun darts its warm beams, its benign influences to all sorts of men.

God freely communicates secular bles­sings to Saints and Miscreants; he is thus kind to the unthankful, and to the evil; gracious to the ungrateful, to the ungra­cious, notoriously vitious, [...]. as the Original imports. The accommodations of this World are bestowed upon good men,Luke 6. 35. Dantur bonis ne putentur summa mala, dantur malis, ne putentur summa bona. August. lest they should be deemed, branded to be ab­solutely evil; and upon evil men, lest they should be reputed, magnified to be abso­lutely good.

As the prophanenest Wretches have [Page 7] some commendable qualities to be recom­penced. So to poise the Scale of the Do­ctrine, the severest Votaries have some in­firmities to be corrected; being pure Bul­lion from the Oar, not the Furnace, to be refined by afflictions, which are their pur­gations. Christ doth not vindicate the slaughtered Galileans, nor those mangled at Siloam from being offenders.

Their calamities were the transcript of their vices.

Death is the stipend of guilt, [...]. Rom. 6. 6. (in the Apo­stles phrase) it is the vilest wages of the vilest warfare of sin. The denial is fastned on the Comparative, not the Positive, they were not greater sinners. If Gods Spiritual favours were to be proportion'd by Tem­poral, Mahumetans must be preferred before Christians, Babylon would shine with a brighter lustre, than Jerusalem or Antioch.

No Countrey hath been more polluted, branded with Idolatry, with Sorcery, than Egypt; and yet none more abounded with plenty; it was the Granary of the Roman Empire, the Sanctuary of the Israelites in their exigencies of a Famine.

It was the blasphemous Argument of [Page 8] Cicero, to extol the false Roman gods, and to vilifie the true Deity, the holy One of Israel; because the Jews were distrest, in eclipse, in umbrage; whereas the Romans flourish'd in grandeur and splendor.

It was the bad Logick, and worse Di­vinity of Jobs pretended Friends, his un­commission'd Judges, who made his tribu­lations Topicks to prove, to infer his crimes.

By this Test, the Bible must vail to the Alcoran, Martyrs must pass for Male­factors, the name of the first Christian Martyr St. Stephen signifies a Crown.

This is the state of Triumph in Heaven. The Ensign of Conflict on Earth is not a Throne, or Sceptre; the Standard is a Cross. We must not fancy to be translated from Carnal delicacies to Spiritual, to Eter­nal; from a Mahumetan Paradise to a Chri­stian; from depraved sensualities below, to untainted Felicities, to unbounded Glo­ries above; that we should frolick, revel with the World,Nimis deli­catulus sil­vis gaudere cum seculo, & regnare cum Christo. Hier. and yet rejoyce, reign with Christ.

The Israelites passage, as to that earthly, so to that heavenly Canaan, was through a [Page 9] Wilderness of Briers. The path of Bliss is not strowed with Roses, but with thorns.

Our travel to that Jerusalem that is above, is pester'd with difficulties, incumbrances; like Hannibals march to Italy, over the Alps, over Rocks, to be wrought with Fire and Vinegar.

If we surveigh the whole Catalogue of Gods faithful Servants, recorded in Sacred Writ, their character will appear like Pi­ctures drawn in dim and sullied Co­lours.

To produce some instances therein, to take our rise from Adam: To deny his re­pentance, his acceptance with God, was the Heresie of the Taciani, no less destitute of truth, than candor.

The more charitable Tenet of the Justi­fication, the Salvation of the First Adam, by the merits of the Second, hath been as­serted, vindicated in the purest antiquity of the Church.

And yet his calamities were multiplied, in the Consort, the Mate of his bosom,Ne contri­staretur de­litian Hieron. be­come the Engine of Satan, to inveagle him; he swallow'd her poison (more fatal than that of Messalina to Claudius) to prevent her melancholy.

[Page 10] Afflicted he was in his Off-spring, in all succeeding Ages, by an irreversible Entail of misery, of mortalit [...].

Distrest in his Person, his Possession; ejected out of Paradise, garrisoned against him with a flaming Sword.

The whole Earth doomed upon his ac­count; its verdure withered, its fruit im­bittered, to render his diet a penance more than a repast,Gen. 3. 17. (In sorrow shalt thou eat of it.) The delicious Flowers of the Field trans­formed to venomous Weeds, to noxious Thistles.

Being, by a Sentence of Proscription, not to be repealed, banish'd out of Eden; to continue, to compleat his anguish, he la­mented three hundred years upon the Indi­an Mountains (if the Eastern Tradition may be credited.)

His most gracious Son Abel was least pros­perous; his fate was legible in his name, which denotes sorrow: Though his Obla­tion was accepted in Heaven, (an Incense, a Perfume of Piety) yet his Person was wounded on earth, wallowed in blood: the slaughter sudden, without provocati­on, and, for aggravation, acted by a Bro­ther, [Page 11] who murdered whilst he courted him, during the infancy of the World, snatch'd away in the maturity of his Grace, ren­dring him in his life a Saint, and in his death a Martyr, in vindication of Gods present Providence,Targ. Hie­rosol. and future Judgment, in oppo­sition of the Atheistical Tenet of Cain.

The Ark, the Type of the Church, (in the judgment of the Fathers) was in a float­ing condition, exposed to fierce surges, to blustring storms.

Noah, the Pilot of it, like Janus with two Visa [...]ds, who saw two Worlds, the Old and the New, was (in Helvicus's ac­count) the most afflicted man interested in either: Origen reckons him the middle per­son betwixt Adam and Abraham; he abun­dantly shared in the miseries of both.

Even Abraham, a greater Believer before the Law (in the opinion of St. Jerom) than the Centurion in the Gospel, applaud­ed by Christs Elogy of a Non pareil, S. Matth. 6. 10. no such faith found, no not in Israel Abraham, not onely a Dignitary in Gods Court, but a Privado in his Closet, link'd, associated with the complacencies of a Friend, whose bosome on Earth was the seat of Grace, [Page 12] and being in Heaven,S. Luke 16. 23. is the phrase, the eloquence, for the receptacle of Glory; he who had large Promises of a prosperous Progeny, had ample Experiments of ad­versity in himself.

Discomposed he was, disquieted with the ejection of Hagar, of Ismael; with the dissatisfaction, the Pett, the animosity of Sarah; endangered in her endearments, her attractive ravishing beauty being the bait for his destruction.

Sequestred he was from his Family, his Countrey, translated, not for preferment, but peregrination, an Exile without a Trope.

His Ten Temptations (as the Rabbins account them) were sharp afflictions, though sacred Exercises of his Virtues, yet severe evidences of his miseries.

With what yearning, bleeding bowels, with what piercing conflicts betwixt carnal and spiritual Interests, was he travelling three days towards Mount Moriah, to effect (as to the estimate of the World) a most inhumane, unnatural, prodigious cruelty, to make his most ingratiated Son an Holo­caust, a whole Burnt-offering: His darling [Page 13] Son Isaac, no less the Issue of his Faith, than of his Loins, did but equivocate with de­light; it was varnish'd in his name, not im­printed in his bosome; his eyes were dim, not darkned with years,Augustinus Totius homi­nis debilitas oculos perdi­disse. Quin­til. but diseases; (the deprivation of sight being the infirmi­ty, not of one Member, but of all.) This af­fliction was aggravated by the duration of it above forty years.

His heart was chilled and dampt by the depravation of Esau, the dissimulation of Jacob.

That Jacob, who did inherit his Fathers Graces, though not his Incomes; his Piety, though not his Fortune; andScholast. Hist. Optimum contemplati­vae & activae vitae exem­plar. Bern. consecrated in his Mothers womb, that most accom­plish'd pattern of a contemplative and of an active life, mournfully confest, that his days were evil not in a notion of Morality, but in the dress, the style of an Haebraism, not for crimes, but calamities; days o'ercast with mists of tribulation.

In the flower, the vigour of his age, his condition was servile, his service debased to a vassalage, that vassalage imbitter'd by imposture: His Wedlock not a solace, but an anguish; his Progeny a scourge.

[Page 14] His nearest Relatives were the procure­ment of his sharpest anxieties; chased, persecuted by Esau, by Laban; rack'd in spirit by the carnal defilement of Dinah, the heinous Incest of Reuben; the treache­rous rage, the monstrous cruelty of Simeon and Levi, more wounded by their impie­ties, than the Shichemites were by their Swords.

His most honoured Son Joseph, in whom the blessing of all his Progenitors were ac­cumulated, was maligned by his Bre­thren, a Merchandise of distress, sold to the Midianites, Egyptians; he was de­fam'd, impeach'd, imprison'd; he had his three years Manacles before his Robes.

Moses, more exalted than Joseph, not onely in the Court of Pharaoh, but on the Mount of God; more ingratiated to God than Abraham, (in the opinion of S. Gre­gory advanced above a Humane conditi­on, in the judgment of S. Ambrose) I had almost said, above an Angelical perfection, not without a Divine Warrant,Exod. 7. 1. (Thou shalt be a God to Pharaoh) and yet his whole life was a black Scheme of varied, continued distresses. His birth was attended with [Page 15] the doom, though not the fate of death. As if his entrance into the World were to resemble that of Cato to the Thea­tre, onely to depart. He was many years banish'd in Midian, oppress'd in Egypt, re­viled, affronted in the Desart by those whom he obliged, protected, who requited the prudence, the courage, the success of his Conduct, with the gall of reproach, his Miracles with regret; taunted by Aaron, by Miriam, by Zipporah, (the wound of the Tongue being more invenom'd, than of the Sword.) It is related of Sylla, That he had been happy if he had not married; and of Adrian, if he had not Reigned.

Moses (King of Jeshurum) was alike dis­consolate in the Nuptial Bed, and in the Regal Throne.

After the toils, the troubles, the conflicts of many years march in the Desart, not ad­mitted to set his foot in the Land of Ca­naan. No Scutcheon of Descent, no Titles of Honour, no Revenues of Manors derived to his Posterity; no Monument for a Me­morial erected for himself, but interr'd in obscurity,Deut. 34. 6. his Sepulchre unknown to this day.

[Page 16] The Royal Prophet David, stampt with a Divine Transcendent Impression, (A man after Gods own heart) was squinted at by Eliab, worried by Saul, scoff'd by Michol, curb'd by Joah, tortured by the foul ra­vishment of Tamar, the fierce revenge upon Ammon; rebelled against by Absalom, as­pers'd, accurs'd by Shimei: His miseries were like the waves, the surges of the Sea, one rolling upon another.

I am here straitned with plenty, variety of matter.—Inopem me copia fecit.

It was the slur of Demosthenes, that he was expert what to speak, but was to learn what to omit, to wave in silence.

Justin Martyr selects Josiah as most con­spicuous for the eminent mixture of Piety and Calamity.

Not to muster up the Prophets, despised, detested, persecuted; Elijah scared to a flight, (unless Ravens had been his Cate­rers) famish'd; Isaiah sawed, Jeremy ap­prehended, arraigned, traduced, pent up in a Dungeon, stoned; Ezekiel slaughtered in Babylon, Amos club'd to death, Micah cast headlong from a Precipice, Zacharias slain in the Temple, (the Priests being [Page 17] become the Sacrifice) leaving an impres­sion of his innocent blood in the Pave­ment The Baptist beheaded, treated by Herod as a Prisoner, a Captive, was by Flaminius (in the Roman History) to gra­tifie at once an impure dalliance, and an im­placable fury.

I shall not fix on these Fix'd Stars of the Firmament of Israel, since the brightest Lu­minary (the Sun of Righteousness) was Eclips'd.

The purity of his Doctrine, the inno­cency of his Conversation, (whose sole Crimes were his Virtues, and his Miracles) did irritate the malice of the Scribes and Pharisees, did expose him to the vilest in­famy, the smartest torment of the Cross.

Trac'd he was by his select Retinue, the Apostles, hurried to their Executions. St. Peter, Andrew, Philip, Simon Zelotes, crucified. St. Paul, Matthew, Matthias, James the Brother of John, beheaded. St. James (the Just) hurled down from the pinnacle of the Temple. St. John (the Evangelist) Bartholomew, cast into boiling Oyl. S. Mark and Barna­bas endured the fiery trial, (without a fi­gure) [Page 18] burnt to cinders. This was the por­tion of the Primitive Saints, Confessors, Martyrs they were in the first Ten Per­secutions of the Christians: Lectures they are of Patience, Charms of Consolation, to Candy the bitterest Pills of Calamities; disgusted they may be by a Natural Palate, not by a Spiritual.

They serve as pregnant Presidents to cor­rect the fancy of Augustus, of a calm recess, a serene departure out of a miserable world.

Devout Souls may be wafted to a smooth Port, by a rough tempestuous Gale.

In a higher Key, they who are piously qualified, may be transported in extremi­ties of Fevers, and other violent Diseases; to utter loose, vain, phrantick, prophane expressions; yet are they not to be branded for reprobate Miscreants.

These undecencies, impieties of Lan­guage, may be interpreted the effect of sickness, not of sin; to be ascribed to the indisposition of the Body, not the Soul; to the distempered humours of the one, not to the depraved affections of the other.

The habit of Grace may be reteined, where the acts are not exerted, evidenced.

[Page 19] The exercises of Virtues may be obstru­cted, obscured, like sparks of fire smothered in embers. Though we may yearn with unrighteous Balaam, that we may die the death of the righteous, ‘—▪ Sic sic juvat ire sub umbras,’ yet the distinct character of the Sons of God and Belial, is not to be taken from our dissolution, how plausibly, fairly, we quit the Stage of this World; but from our deportment, how we act our part, how exactly, how uprightly, we acquit our selves upon it.

How ever the distresses, the dysasters of others, ought not to excite our virulent dooms, but our contrite sorrows: Which conveys me to the Second, the Positive Explicite Proposition in my Text, ‘Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.’

This Proposition, at the first blush, dis­covers a Duty to be discharged, and a Pe­nalty to be inflicted, in case of defailance.

Before I insist on either, there is a re­marque to be set on the restrictive, adver­sative [Page 20] Particle, [But.] This conduceth to link the parts of the Text, and to regulate our Censures

Sometimes the Hand of God avenging, is within the Ken of familiar observation.

As in Antiochus, Herod, not subdued by Legions of Soldiers, by powerful Armies, but by despicable Vermin.

Eusebius records Gods just indignation against Pilat, Euseb. Hist. Eccles. l. 2. c. 7. who condemned our Blessed Saviour (against the dictate of his own Conscience) he became his own Judge, his own Executioner.

He who would be impious, injurious, to be popular, was justly impeacht by that People, whom he gratified by injustice.

Nebuchadnezzar, who was not content­ed to be homaged as a Sovereign, but would be adored as a God, was degraded below the station of men, sorted among Beasts; not in a Parable, (as Origen assert­ed) not imaginarily onely, (as others would mince it to a Phantasm, a Dream) but really, visibly his inward endowments perverted, his Rational Faculties alienated; as for his outward Members,Dan. 4. 33. his hair be­came [Page 21] like Eagles feathers, his nails like Birds claws.

Two signal Characters there are of the Divine destructive displeasure;

The first is, When the Judgment reteins the feature, the complexion of the Guilt; as face answers face in water.

Thus the unnatural heats, the impurities of the Sodomites, were punish'd by unna­tural flames;Gehenna è coelo descen­dit. Salv. Hell descended from Heaven, (in a Fathers expression.)

Pharaoh, who decreed the Male-children of the Israelites to be drowned, himself, and the Males of Egypt [...] of martial, vigorous years) were plunged, swallowed up in the Red-Sea.

Absalom's hair was the subject, the mo­tive of his arrogance, wherewith he was enamoured; this became the Engine, the Instrument of his bane, wherewith he was entangled fettered.

God threatens to walk contrary to those,Levit. 26. 21, 24. who walk contrary to him.

He will baffle their enterprises, who trans­gress his Precepts.

He will deride their anxieties, who spurn [Page 22] at his summons:Prov. 1. 26. I also will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh. It is expressed after a corrupt humane man­ner (in condescension to our infirmities) it is to be apprehended in an unblemish'd Divine notion. [...]. Theodoret

Julian the Apostate, who shot poison­ous Arrows, scurrilous indignities against Heaven, was himself pierced with an enve­nom'd Dart from Heaven; with that mouth he acknowledg'd Christ a Conqueror, an Avenger, wherewith he blasphemed, denied him a Redeemer.

The damned rich Caitiff in the Gospel,S. Luke 16. 24. was most tormented in his tongue, whereby he had most offended.

Those Donatists who,S. Optatus te­stifies it. in the Primitive Church, did cast away the Sacramental Ele­ments of the Eucharist, were themselves torn in pieces by Dogs.

The second eminent stamp of the Di­vine Justice, is, when the trespass and the scourge are like the Twins of Rebecca's Womb, the later, like Jacob, a Supplanter, taking hold of its elder Brother by the heels.

[Page 23] Thus when Nebuchadnezzar raised his Crest,Dan. 4. 3. Is not this great Babylon that I have built for the house of my Kingdom, for the might of my po [...], the honour of my Majesty? Built, erected it was by Nimrod, fortifi'd by himself; whilst he o'er-spread his plumes, whilst the word was yet in his mouth,Dan. 4. 31. Statim puni­tur à Deo. Hier. in Dan. he was terrifi'd, thunder-struck with a voice from Heaven, The Kingdom is de­parted from thee.

So quick, so fierce is God's resentment of arrogancy, of vain-glory.

Whilst Balthazar riotously frolickt it in the Vessels of the Sanctuary, the Wall be­came a Tribunal to condemn him; He saw a hand-writing on the wall, Dan. 5. 5. (proceeding out of the Wall, according to the Arabick Tran­slation) a visible Character of an invisible Scribe.

In that room, in that house, he was an­xiously shivered, wherein he presumptu­ously transgressed.

Whilst Herod owned the flattery, the blasphemy of the People, not rejecting, not reprehending it; there appeared not a Screech-Owl (according to Josephus) to presage a Judgment, but an Angel was em­ploy'd [Page 24] to inflict it; not a damned Fiend,Acts 12. 25. (according to Lorinus) but an Angel of the Lord, both an Assertor of his Honour, and an Executioner of his Sentence.

Not to pursue this Meditation too far: It will become us to be nicely critical, to be strictly inquisitive within the precinct of our own bosoms, to apply Gods parti­cular scourges to our particular offences.

But when the Scene of Gods judgments is laid at distance, they ought not to elate, to swell, to leven, to imbitter us, but to deject, to envenom our spirits.

Not to be Lamia's, putting on the Spe­ctacles abroad, but putting them off at home.

Monitors they are to mortifie, reclaim us, to keep aloof from their iniquities, Quo­rum vestigia terrent, Whose judgments we tremble at, lest we close in the same Tra­gical period. To this end they are punctu­ally recited, distinctly sorted by the Apo­stle, [...]. 1 Cor. 10. 11. recorded for examples to deter us, (according to the Original, as Types figu­ratively to instruct us.) Repentance is the sole expedient to rescue us from perdition, to be like brands snatch'd out of the fire. [Page 25] Which casts me on the Tasque in my Text.

Except ye repent.

Though Origen, in too wide a candor, hath extended repentance to the damned Spirits; yet others have confined it to too narrow bounds: the Montanists not admit­ting it to those that offend after Baptism; the Novatians not allowing it to a recidi­vation of transgression, to a relapse, a re­turn of guilt.

Happy it is for us, that the Book of Life of a merciful God, is not subject to the ra­zures of opinionated men.

That the Keys of Heaven are not within the restraint of Heresies or Sects on earth. The experience of all Ages manifests, that where Truth hath been deserted, Charity hath been discarded also. The Divine Good­ness commiserating humane frailties, hath ordained repentance to be a continual Phy­sick for a continual malady, a reiterated Me­dicine, for a reiterated wound.

A Cure that exacts not so much the Lamp of the Sanctuary, the Glosse of the [Page 26] Pulpit, as the practise of the Chamber; without which, the devotion, the humilia­tion of the Temple this day, is but a Pagean­try of Piety; without which, repentance may be sought in our repentance, and not found, as Florus complained of Samnium demolish'd.

Confession is but a scanty essay of this duty, the first step of repentance.

Pharaoh acknowledged himself and his People wicked,Exod. 9. 27. when they were plagued; but they relented not, the festered wound of the Soul was unmask'd not lanced; the veil withdrawn, not the putrefaction. In a further gradation, Esau was pensive, not penitent:Heb. 12. 17. He found no place for repentance, (saith the Apostle) though he sought it with tears. Tears they were of indignation, of bitter wrath; not of contrition, of an hum­ble sorrow; he had a flood, yet not the grace of tears,Da gratiam I [...]chrymarum. Aug. which St. Augustine sued for. He had a melting eye, but not a bleeding heart.

God doth not pour the oyl of his mercy,Deus non in­fundit oleum misericordiae nisi in vas contritum. Be [...]n. but into a broken Pitcher, into a contrite heart.

Our hearts, like our Spices, are the sweet­est [Page 27] fragrance of Oblation, when they are bruised. The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit; Psal. 51. 17. a troubled spirit, that in it self is afflicted; not a troublesom spirit, that is an affliction to others.

The Vulgar Latine renders it in the Plu­ral Number, Sacrifices; all other Sacrifices are comprehended, completed in this.

The trouble, the grief of Attrition will not serve, though eek'd out, assisted with the absolution of the Priest.

God will not set his Seal of Remission to a Blank, not to a defective or defaced character.

A true penitential sorrow is not attrite, (in the Schoolmens style) merely the pro­duct of our miseries; but primarily, sin­cerely contrite; it accrues from the due re­collection, the deep impression of our sins: When we are more dejected, saddened, that we are depraved, than that we are distrest.

The most impenitent Malefactors in their Executions, will mourn for their suf­ferings, not for their crimes.

The Original phrase in my Text denotes not the piercing of the mind with anguish, [...] (this is preparatorily requisite) but the re­newing of it with grace.

[Page 28] The remorse of Conscience for any guilt will not bestead us, without the recti­fying it. The most obdurate sinners, in their recesses, exigencies, have their bosom qualms, their secret damps, their piercing regret.

Judas resented, bewailed his horrid of­fence,Judas defle­vit crimen non correxit. Ambr. but he renounced, corrected it not.

There is a Worm to corrode, there is dread and anxiety, there is weeping and gnashing of teeth in Hell. There is a Probe to search the most rankled corruptions of the heart, but there is no balsam to heal them.

Aquinas's definition of Repentance is Concise and Orthodox. Repentance is a sorrow for sin, with a purpose of amend­ment.

St. Austin's counsel corresponds herewith; Mourn for past sin,Dole de pra­terito pecca­to, cave de futuro. Aug. beware of future. Let not our resolutions, like Embrio's, perish in the womb.

Let not these cords be untwisted, un­ravelled by the opportunities, the blan­dishments of inveigling darling vices.

The repentance of life, is the life, the power, the lustre of repentance; without [Page 29] which, the profession of it is but a collusion.

We do but personate repentance this day in the Church, our Religious Exercises are but scenes, disguises; if whilst we so­lemnly deplore our offences, we do not sincerel desert them. It is the sorrow of a Crocodile to lament for that mischief we yet indulge, pursue; secretly to embrace, caress that wickedness, which we openly declare to nauseate; not to abandon that guilt, which we profess to abhor.

Our Fasts, our Austerities, are proper Auxiliaries of repentance; our reformed practises are the choice accomplishments of it.

Our mortification initiates, begins this duty; our reformation consummates, per­fects it.

In this notion, the Thesis of Luther, so much bogled at, That true repentance is a new life, is opposed by Invectives more than Arguments, confuted by Satyr more than Logick.

Neither the Divinity, nor the Grammar of the Text, will warrant or dispence with the dilatoriness of the Task; to resemble the Cir­cassians, not to be devout till impotent, decre­pit; [Page 30] not to resort to the Temple, till we are upon the brink of the Grave. The Powers of Darkness are not stagger'd with a sigh, nor o'er-whelmed by a tear; they are not vanquish'd by a faint, languishing, gasping breath.

Could Satan, having fortifi'd his interest by vitious habits and customs be so easily ejected out of possession,Qui promisit poenitenti ve­niam, non prom-sit pec­canti poeni­tentiam Aug. dethroned out of his Dominion; yet that God, who hath promised remission to him that repenteth, hath not promised repentance to him that sinneth, especially voluntarily, deliberately. We are not ascertained of future grace, to excite, to promote this duty; nor of time to actuate, to exercise it.

In all the pomps, the jollities of life, we are upon the border of death.

Drusus received a deaths wound by a pear, Adrian by a hair.

An excessive delight hath, to some, by a sudden dilatation, dispersion of the spirits leaving the heart unguarded, ushered in the terror of death.

Gods sharpest judgments, inflicted or dreaded, are the most piercing motives of penitential duties.

[Page 31] That there is wrath to come,S. Matth. 3. 7. 8. is the Ba­ptists rousing Topick to awe the repentance of his Auditors.

My Text produces a more powerful Spel to conjure it.

You shall all likewise perish.

This short menace is more piercing, than Ehud [...]s Dagger. This is no pannick terrour. This Prophecy was reduced to a History in Sacred and Secular Interests, to the impeni­tent Israelites. It imports not a particular, personal; but a National, Universal destru­ction, of Temple, City, People.

They perish'd before they perish'd, (as Salvian observes of his Gallican Contempo­raries) being divided,Perierunt an­tequam peri­erunt. Salv. depraved, before they were destroyed.

Crumbled they were into factions, Pha­risees, Sadduces, Essenes, Herodians. Their Civil dissentions were more fatal than For­reign Invasions; whilst they were attack'd, storm'd by the Roman Soldiers, they were bandi'd, engag'd against themselves, sheath­ing their swords in one anothers bowels, under the conduct of fierce Zelots, of Re­ligious Assassinates.Joseph. lib. 6. c. 11. de Bel­lo Judaico. They drank to one an­other the blood of the People. The edge of [Page 32] the famine was yet sharper than of the Sword, more dismal than that of Athens, wherein a Father and a Son fought a duel for a prise, the provision of a Mouse.

In a more prodigious instance at Jerusa­lem, Joseph. l. 7. de Bello Jud. cap. 8. Aegesip. de Exc. Hieros. an eminent Matrone, of a Noble Ex­straction, of an ample Fortune, butchered and cook'd her own Child; made the Issue of her womb, the repast of her stomach; a savage unnatural Sacrifice to her keen ap­petite.

This is no Tragical Romance, but an Hi­storical truth, solemnly asserted by Josephus and Aegesippus.

As there was a general Convention from all parts of Palestine, to celebrate the Feast of the Passover, when the Jews crucified Christ; so also when the City was surroun­ded by Titus.

The Judgment was as diffusive, as the guilt. The multitude of those that perish'd in the Siege of Jerusalem being computed to amount to 110000 persons, besides 90000 prisoners.

No Nation more perversly impure, none more irrecoverably miserable.

Christ (the Mirror of Candor) patheti­cally [Page 33] lamented, when he denoun'cd their destructi­on; and Titus (renowned for singular clemency) when he inflicted it; and yet the obdurate Jews relented not, when they sustained it: more im­penetrable than Iron, not softned in the fiercest Furnace of affliction. And the extent of the Fate is observable, You shall all perish; so is the simili­tude, You shall likewise perish.

Some, like the Galileans in the Temple, were mixt, mangled with their Sacrifices. Others, like those crush'd, shatter'd at the Tower of Siloam, were covered with the rubbish of the demolish'd, batter'd Structures of the City. The Inhabitants and the Habitations were, in the same devouring flame, consumed to ashes.

Their crimes were yet greater than their pu­nishments;Humiliati. non humiles. Bern. vile, despicable they became, not contrite, humble; like Ivory blackned, sullied they were by that fire (that tribulation) which should have refined, beautified them.

Their state of living, dying impenitents, shar­pens the doom in my Text with two edges, (in Lyrd's gloss) You shall perish temporally, you shall perish eternally. The distresses of the Earth are, to persevering, unrepenting sinners, the Prologue to the black Scene, the succeeding torments of Hell.

The impenitent Aegyptians, that pursued the [Page 34] Israelites, were transmitted from the fierce surges of the Red Sea, to the fierce flames of the burning Tophet.

Having thus accomplish'd my first Task, the Explicatory part of my Text; said I, Accom­plish'd it? rather hudled it undigested, unpo­lish'd; as the Israelites did their dow, unkneaded, unleavened at their sudden departure out of Egypt. There remains a requisite Applicatory Meditation, without which, I should entertain this great Assembly with an Harangue, rather than a Sermon.

In order hereto, to recapitulate, to summe up what I have enlarged;

I have unclaspt my Text to two Propositions. The one Negative, Implicite; the other Positive, Explicite. The Negative, Implicite, being thus unveiled: Neither the miserable Galileans, nor those unfortunate Wretches at Siloam, were greater offendors than other Israelites.

I have offered at a double surveigh of the Ne­gative Proposition, Historical, as to each instance severally, Doctrinal joyntly, in this tenor. The greatest pressures, the sharpest miseries, the sad­est periods of this life, are no demonstrative ar­guments to conclude the greatest sinners.

In the second Proposition, I have pointed out [Page 35] the restrictive, adversative Particle, [But▪] that links the parts; regulates our censures.

Every man,Si stultum quaeram me­ipsum repe­rio. Sen. upon an impartial scrutiny for a sinner, like Seneca's inquest for a fool, (both be­ing of the same lineage) will return the same Verdict with that Stoick, I find my self.

When Christ advertised his Apostles, that one of them should betray him; they impeach'd not, defam'd not one another, but each suspected the corruption of his own heart, wherewith he was best acquainted, most strictly examined,S. Mark 14. 19. [...]. They said to him one by one, Is it I? According to the Ori­ginal, Is it not I? A good man being a rigid In­terpreter of no defailance but his own.

He who with a contrite severity will put his hand into his bosome, will, like Moses, take it out white as snow, not for innocency, but leprosie.

I have observed two evident symptoms of the Divine destructive displeasure, when the sin and the doom are like parallel lines, and when the latter is the close train of the former.

I have, in the second Proposition, recommend­ed the Duty to be discharged, Repentance, to be­wail that guilt we have committed, not to com­mit that guilt we have bewailed; not to be scan­ty, dilatory in the exercise of it, but expeditely, vigorously to rectifie our judgments, to refine our [Page 36] affections, to reform our lives; to crucifie those lusts that have crucified our Redeemer, that these Scorpions may afford medicines for their own stings. To abstain from our Viands, and not ini­quities, is the Fast, not of sacred Converts, but of damned Fiends.

It is a disconsolate severe determination of St. Augustine, plures perie­runt poeniten­tia, quam pec­cato. Aug. which I can never recollect without anguish of spirit, More have perish'd by repen­tance, than by sin.

This Restorative hath degenerated to a Bane; this Balsam of Life, misapprehended, misappli'd, hath wounded multitudes to death.

To promote an accurate unblemish'd repen­tance, I have set out the penalty to be incurred upon the neglect of it. A Sentence like Elijah's little Cloud scarce discernible at first aspect, but being dilated, blackens the Heavens, teems with showers of perils, disasters.

I have pointed out the extremity of the Judg­ment, not a decay, but a period, [You shall perish] the Universality [All] the Similitude [Likewise] enwrapt in the same dismal fate. It was an inter­val of forty years before this doom was fulfilled. Christ thus long protracted the Execution, af­ter he pronounced the Sentence. Nebuchadnez­zar had a years respite after Judgment was past, [Page 37] for transforming him from a humane to a brutish shape. The Ninivites were reprieved forty days, and they repented in sackcloth and ashes.Non mutat voluntatem, sed vult mu­tationem. God then reverst his Judgment, without any stain of instability, inconstancy; not by changing his will, his purpose in himself, but willing, pur­posing a change in the effect, as the School-men state it; whose decision not apprehended by Jonah, excited his peevish regret. He preferred the imaginary reputation of a Prophet, before the real preservation of a populous Kingdom; being discomposed, that God was more merciful than himself.

Let not these Ninivites rise up in judgment against us. If we do not seasonably dread the menace, arrest the judgment, we shall irrecove­rably sink under the pressure, the horrour of it.

We have of late years enjoy'd tranquillity, plenty, the delicious fruits of peace, whilst other Countreys have been Aceld [...]ma's, fields of blood, exposed to the rapines, the outrages of War; Cities besieg'd, batter'd, storm'd, defac'd, rifl'd: Proprietaries, Masters, treated as Aliens, not on­ly as strangers, but prisoners, vassals in their own houses; (the Edict of insulting Soldiers, being no less unmerciful, unreasonable, than Egyptian Task-masters) whilst populous Territories, furnished [Page 38] with the choicest accommodations, have been depopulated, wasted, even reduced to Desarts.

They have been subjects of intelligence, of discourse; no motive of commiseration towards others, of reflection upon our selves. Who less afflicted, have been more depraved. I wish from my Soul it were a scandal to assert it.

Our ingratitude, clogg'd with our impeni­tence,Vna cadem­que dies vi­dit civitatem magnam, & nullam. Sen. Evagr. l. 4. c. 5. may reserve for us the dregs of the Vi [...]l of Gods indignation. Our safety may be least, when our security is greatest. One and the same day was the computation of a great City, and of none at all, as of Antioch; part buried in an Earth­quake, and the rest made its own Funeral Pile, burnt to ashes.

That day that produced fire and brimstone to Sodom and Gomorrah, might shine with as clear, as bright a morning-dawn, as any other.

The intemperance of the inhabitants of the Old World, did serve to introduce, to usher in the Deluge. They were eating (the Original im­ports rioting with brutish appetites) and drink­ing; [...] ▪ S. Matth. 24. 38, 39. their sensualities indulged, pursued, till the Flood overwhelmed them.

When enormities of vices, prodigies of crimes, pass for garbs, for ornaments; when it is gene­rous to be intemperate, courteous to be de­bauched, [Page 39] modish to be unchast, fashionable, re­putable, to be prophane; gallantry of humour, elegancy of style, to blaspheme; a Master piece of wit to carp at, to deride the wisdom of God; when Theatres are more resorted to, more re­garded, than Temples; when mortification of body is ascribed to distraction of mind; when Prayers and Fasts become incitements of Drol­leries, of Scurrilities; when there is not so much piety as hypocrisie; not so much beauty of holiness, as the paint, the varnish of it, even to out-strip the spirit of darkness, not to regard to appear Angels of Light. We may then imagine God pathetically expostulating the case, Shall not my Soul be avenged on such a Nation as this? When the indignation of that God is inflamed who is a consuming fire; when all the expedients, the methods of the Discipline of Heaven, prove in­effectual for reclaiming a People; then a day, an hour, a moment may suffice to blast the most flourishing Dominions of the World, to deprive the greatest Peers and Potentates of lustre and of life.

When Phoc [...]s raised Walls and Bulwarks to out-brave Heaven, he was advertised, There is wickedness within; which being inclosed, im­mured, will demolish the firmest Structure, un­cement [Page 40] every stone, lay Turrets flat and level with the ground. The Fabricks, the Houses, the Palaces of impenitent sinners can fall no lower, themselves may:

The Poets solace is a fallacy in Divinity, ‘Qui cadit in terram, non habe [...] unde cadat.’

There is a lower descent than the grave, than being inmates with wretched Worms, in being consorts with the damned Spirits; lower than the putrefaction of the earth, the damnation of hell.

But I forbear. I must start back from this dreadful dungeon, lest I be taxed, as Oecolompadius was, that I am Commission'd to Evangelize, to preach the glad tidings of the Gospel; not the terrors, the thunder-bolts of the Law. That I am sent, not to be a Herald, to denounce fire and sword; but to be a Legate for reconciliation, to be a Factor to negotiate the best Merchandise, Peace; to promote the best Peace, not with Earth, but Heaven.

The Romans would not treat with Pyrrhus, Plut. in vita Pyrrhi. unless he would first depart out of Italy. There is an Italy of Transgression as well as Climate.

There can be no League, no Correspondence betwixt a carnal, polluted Italy below; and a spi­ritual refined Jerusalem above.

When a grave Athenian Ambassador repaired [Page 41] to Corinth to agitate a Confederacy, observing a greater Traffick there of Vices than of Commo­dities, their arrogance plumed with their wealth,Strabo Geog. l. 8. a riot, a debosh, being their civility, their lasci­viousness being their pietie, above a thousand beautiful Damosels being Votaries of Venus, not consecrated, but prostituted in the Temple; he resolved to desist from his Embassie, apprehend­ing so vitious a place not worthy of the close ami­ty of Athens. The holy One of Israel will unite, confederate with none that persist to be prophane, impure. Though God will heal the bleeding wounds of a contrite disobedience, yet he will not cure the fester'd ulcer of an obdurate heart, an unrelenting spirit.

That I may not close my Sermon with my Text, in perdition, in perishing, lest I seem to de­part hence, not with the benign influence of a Star,Non commi­naretur non poenitenti nisi ignosceret poe­nitenti. Ter­tul. de poen. c. 8. but with the malignity of a Comet; I shall, in the last place, invert the Scene. God would not threaten to doom, to destroy the impenitent, unless he would remit and save the penitent. Gods mercies are intermingled with the severi­ties of his menaces, like the Sun-beams in showers of rain. He denounces his judgments, that he may not inflict them. He shews his Ax before he wields it; 'tis like that carried before the Ro­man [Page 42] Consuls, wrapt up for an abatement of seve­rity: When he lays it to the root of the tree, he expects we should prevent the fatal stroke. It is the Prophets insinuating address, his cajoling eloquence,Isa. 1. 16, 17, 18. Wash ye, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes, cease to do evil, Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red as crimson, they shall be as wool. O that this rational overture might not onely convince, but convert the pretended Ora­cles of Reason, the modern Gnosticks, who out­vigh the Antient for intellectuals and impurities, for wits and vices. An unhappy faculty, to be in­geniously ungracious, acutely prophane and mise­rable. To stagger such Sophistry of Miscreants, the Prophet Amos sets out Gods fierce displeasure, as the Painter did Agamemnon's deep sorrow (for Iphigenia) covered with a vail: having impeach'd their impenitence, more obdurate than Marble, (not to distil a tear in a reiterated storm) not to relent in varieties of distresses, it being the sharp accent of every judgment, the tragical aggrava­tion of each affliction,Amos 4. 6, 8, 9, 10, 11. (five times recorded in one Chapter) Yet have ye not returned to me, saith the [Page 43] Lord. God at length pronounces a Maze, a Rid­dle of a doom, to perplex and scare untractable offendors, Therefore thus will I do unto thee, O Israel. It is a clap of thunder, without a flash of lightning, a Relative without an Antecedent, a lock'd Cabinet without a Key. No judgments ex­press'd, that all may be expected; all to be dread­ed, that none may be sustained. It is the Pro­phets practical inference in the same verse,ver. 12. Pre­pare to meet thy God, O Israel. This is the best re­fuge, as in National, so in Personal anxieties, di­stresses. Let us meet the Lord of Hosts in his fiercest marches, in the approaches of his judgments; that either with Ahigal's prostrate submission,1 Sam. 25. 35. we may prevent, or with Hezekiah's devout hu­miliation we may reprieve,Isa. 38. 5. or at least with Elias entire resignation of himself, his Family, his Po­sterity, to the Divine Pleasure,1 Sam. 3. 18. (It is the Lord, let him do what seemeth him good) we may, if not unsting, yet unvenom the sharpest tribulation, we may render this Viper a Restorative.

I shall conclude with the borrow'd Rhetorick,Parcite regi, parcite popu­lo, pascite animabus ve­stris. the Sacred Charm of a former Age, o'ercast with clouds, the wombs of tempests, Spare your Sove­reign. A vitious person is no less an enemy to his Prince, than a Rebel against God.

A Religious Joseph did support the dignity of [Page 44] Pharaoh's Throne; did preserve, secure the pro­sperity of his Dominion for his time. Spare the people. A wicked man is a pest to the generation wherein he lives, his private mischief (like Achans) may produce a publick calamity.Kings 2. 12. Elisha account­ed Elijah the Chariot and the Horsemen of Is­rael. St. James the Just was called,Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 2. [...] 24. Oblias, as be­ing the Fence, the Bulwark of the City of Jeru­salem, of the Region of Palestine. The justice, [...]umb. 25. 8. the zeal of Phineas, did restrain the contagion of a spreading, pernicious Pestilence. Let our de­vout repentance stand in the gap, to divert a de­stroying Angel.

Lastly, Spare your own Souls, since they are ransomed by no corruptible treasure; let not them again be captivated by any vile secular interest, nor yet by a more vile, impure, sensual delight, since they are the purchase of Christs precious Blood; let them not become the prize of his and our malicious Enemy: Let us shun his baits, his snares here, that we may eschew his fetters here­after.

From which; God of his infinite mercy preserve us, for the Merits of his blessed Son, by the Graces of his holy Spirit. To which Sacred Trinity be ascribed Glory and Honour, Might, Majesty, and Do­minion, this day and for evermore. AMEN.


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