Set forth in the first SERMON Preached upon that Occasion, By NATH: HARDY, Master of Arts, and Preacher to the Parish of S. Dionis Back-Church.

PSAL. 118.17, 18, 19.

I shall not die, but live, and declare the Works of the Lord.

The Lord hath chastened me very sore, but he hath not given me over to death.

Open unto me the gates of righteousnesse, I will goe into them, and I will praise the Lord.

Basil. Mag. Hom. 9.


Aug. in Psal. 41.

Quia magis crebra sunt mala, dulcior [...]rit misericordia tua. Etenim scriptum est quodam loco speciosa misericordia Domini in tem­pore tribulationis, sicut nubes pluviae in tempore siccitatis.

LONDON, Printed by J. G. for Nath: Web and Will: Grantham, at the Black Beare in St. Paul's Church-yard, neere the little North-Doore. 1653.

Sermons Preached and Printed by Mr Nathanaell Hardy M.A. and Preacher to the Parish of St Dyonis Back-Church.

  • JVstice Triumphing, or The Spoilers spoiled: A Sermon preached on the 5th of November in the Cathedrall Church of St Pauls.
  • The Arraignment of licentious Liberty and oppressing Ty­ranny, in a Sermon at a Fast before the Lords in Parliament; In the Abbey-Church at Westminster.
  • Faiths Victory over Nature, A Sermon preached at the Fu­nerals of Mr John Rushout Junior.
  • The safest Convoy or The strongest Helper, A Valedictory Sermon before the Right Honourable Sr Thomas Bendish Bar­ronet, his Majesties Ambassadour to the grand Seigniour at Constantinople.
  • A Divine Prospective representing the Just mans peacefull End, A Sermon at the Funerall of the Right Worshipfull Sr John Gayr Knight.
  • Love and Fear the inseparable Twins of a blest Matrimony, A Sermon occasioned by the Nuptials between Mr William Christmas and Mrs Elizabeth Adams.
  • Divinity in Mortality, or The Gospels excellency and the Preachers frailty, A Sermon at the Funerals of Mr Richard Goddard Minister of the Parish of St Gregories by Pauls.

Printed, and are to be sold by Nathanaell Webb and William Grantham at the black Bear in St Pauls Church-yard near the little North-door, 1653.

To the Right Worshipfull, Worshipfull, and Wel-beloved, The Inhabitants of the Parish of S. Dionis Back-Church, Health and Wealth, not only in this life, but chiefly in that which is to come.

Worthy Friends,

IT is a full Decade of yeers since I first was called by Divine Providence to begin the work of my Ministry among you: and it is not yet half so many months, since in humane probability both my Ministry and life seemed to be at an end: But the wise and gracious God (in whose hands all our times are) hath mercifully lengthned my dayes (blessed be his name) for the greater good of my own,Psal. 31.15. and (I hope) of your souls.

These Sermons which upon this comfortable occasion I lately preached, were by some of you desired to be made more publique, which I have fulfilled, so much the more willingly, that I might testifie before the world, first, my infinite obligation to Almighty God for so remarkeable a deliverance; and withall my manyfold engagements to a great part of you for your affectionate love, and multiply­ed courtesies.

And now (my Dearely Beloved, and longed for in the Lord) give me leave (having this opportunity) to acquaint you with my serious thoughts and earnest de­sires, and I trust through Gods grace that the transcript of them before your eyes, will helpe to make a deeper im­pression of them upon your hearts.

And first, I thanke my God through Jesus Christ for your stedfastnesse in the faith, and your mutuall amity, whereby you become exemplary to many parishes in this wavering and contentious age. Oh that not onely you, [Page] but all the people of this Land were alike minded, one towards another according to Christ Jesus.Rom. 15.5.

Next, let me in the bowels of our common Saviour beseech you,2 Tim. 4 1. and if this will not prevaile, charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall Judge the quicke and the dead at his appearing and his King­dome; that as you drinke in the heavenly raine which commeth oft upon you, so you endeavour to bring forth herbes meet for the great husbandman who dresseth you. I beare you record (and that without flattery) you are at­tentive hearers,Heb. 6.7. oh that you may be all forward doers of the word.Jam. 1.22.

There are some amongst you whose love towards me hath been, not onely in tongue and in word but in deed, and that in a more than ordinary measure.1 Joh. 3.18. But yet, let me freely tell you. There is nothing (if I know my owne heart) would so rejoyce me as to see the fruit of my weake labours, in the holinesse of your lives. Beleeve it, this is the greatest Kindnesse a people can show to their Mi­nister, since whereas by a liberall contribution they adde to his comfortable subsistence upon earth, by a religious conversation, they increase his eternall reward in hea­ven.

And now Brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace which is able to build you up,Act. 20.32. and to give you an inheritance among them which are sanctified,Rom. 15.30. humbly intreating you to strive together with me in your prayers to God both for me and your selves, that I may so preach and live, you may so heare and doe, as that we may behold each other, and all of us our Re­deemer with joy in the last day. So prayeth

Your faithfull servant for Christs sake in the Gospel, NATH: HARDY.

Phil. 2.27. the former part. For indeed he was sick, nigh unto death, but God had mercy on him.

IF you please to peruse the five last Psalms of David, you shall finde them begin­ning and ending with an Hallelujah: Praise ye the Lord, being the Alpha and Omega, the Prora and the Puppis, the first and the last words of each. Not much un­like is Saint Pauls practise in the Epistle to the Romans, Rom. 18.16, 17. who almost in the very en­trance placeth an [...], I thanke my God through Jesus Chrict, and closeth with a [...], To God onely wise bee glorie through Jesus Christ. In imitation of these patternes I shall place Thanksgiving, both in the Front and Reere of my Discourse. Indeed what fitter Prooemium to a gratulatorie Sermon than a Benedictus? Blessed therefore be God, who kept his unworthie Servant from falling into the Grave, a Land of Silence and Forgetfulnesse, and hath now vouchsa­fed him the libertie of entring into his House, the place of Prayers and Pr [...]yses. Blessed be God, who hath brought my feet from lying in a sick bed to stand in this holy Mount. Fi­nally blessed be God, who hath given me a joyfull occasion of handling, and just cause of applying this Scripture to my selfe, by changing the third Person unto the first; For indeed I was sick nigh to death, but God had mercy on me.

This Text naturally spreadeth forth it selfe into two maine [Page 2] boughs, each of which have three branches sprouting from them.

Here is observable a Distresse, and a Deliverance; a Danger, and an Escape, an Affliction, and a Liberation: the former in those words, He was sick nigh to death; the latter in these, but God had mercy on him.

In the Distresse we have observable, the

  • 1. Quality of the Danger what it was, in the word Sick.
  • 2. Extremity of the Measure, how great it was, in those words nigh unto death.
  • 3. Eminency of the Person, whom it befell, in the relative hee.

In the Deliverance we have considerable, the

  • 1. Efficiency of the Author, by whom it was conferred, in the Word God.
  • 2. The excellency of the Benefit, how expressed, in those words had mercy on him.
  • 3. The opportunity of the Time, when vouchsafed, in the ex­ceptive but.

These are the severall Branches of this [...]acred Tree, into which I have climbed by the Ladder of humane industry, from which by the hand of Divine assistance I have gathered, and by the same hand shall now scatter among you such Fruit as hath refreshed my owne, and (I hope through Gods blessing) will nourish your soules; and so I begin with the

Distresse, He was sick nigh to death; and therein the quality of the danger in that word sick. Gen. 1.

The Philosopher, observing the property of mans constitution, describeth him by risibile, to be a reasonable living Creature, that hath the onely power of laughing; but the Divine con­sidering the misery of mans condition no lesse, aptly chara­cterizeth him by flebile, an unfortunate wretch, that hath the most cause of weeping:Vagilu (que) locum lugub [...]i compl [...]t ut aequum' [...], cui tantum in vit [...] r [...]fiat tra [...]sire malorum. Lucr. In this respect it is not unfitly taken notice of, how the new-born Babe commeth into the world crying, as if by the language of its present tears, it would fore­tell the sadnesse of its future sorrowes.

Among those many evills with which the life of man is be­set, this of sicknesse is one.

Aug in Ps. 111 One to which all are subject, quis non aegrotat in hac vitâ? [Page 3] quis tanguorem [...]on experitur? nasci in hoc corpore mortali in­cipere aegrotare est: Who in this life doth not more or lesse tast of sicknesse? yea from the Cradle to the Crutch, Birth to Death, Wombe to the Tombe, we are continually liable to it.

One of which we may say, as Leah of Gad, Gen. 30.11. Mark 5.9. A Troop com­meth, and to which that Devils name in the Gospel may fitly be applyed Legion: The Poet instancing in one kind of disease, speaketh of a band of Feavers,

Nova sebrium,
Horat. od. 3.
Terris incubuit cohors:

And Galen reckoning up the diseases to which one part of mans body, the eye is subject, [...]. Pythag. Apo. in Iambl. [...]. Greg. Naz. Orat. 16. numbreth 112. how great an Army then must this Commander have, who begirteth this Castle of the Body in every part and corner, and that with severall Souldiers! No wonder if the holy tongue, as it cal­leth men [...] which signifieth dying men, because they are continually under the power of death, so it styles them [...] sickly men, because they are exposed to such variety of sicknesses.

Finally one which exceedeth all those other miseries of this present life, what dissention is in a City, discord in a Family, surfetting to the Stomach, ignorance to the Minde, that is sicknesse to the Body, disturbing and oppressing it; yea, it is the worst evill of cold, hunger, and nakednesse, of heat, thirst, and warmnes, that they hasten upon us sicknesse and death.

That I may the better open this distresse, give me leave to delineate it both in the effects that flow from it, and the cause from which it floweth.

There are two grievous attendants which sicknesse com­monly bringeth along with her, namely paine and weaknesse; by paine it taketh away the comfort of all enjoyments, even of life it selfe; Barzillai being old, said to the King, 2 S [...]m 19.35. Tria haec in [...]mni m [...]rbo g [...]avia sunt, m [...]tus mor­tis, dolor corporis, intermissio vo­luptatis. Sen. Ep. 77. Can thy Servant taste what I eat, or what I drink? Can I heare any more the voice of singing men, and singing women? wherefore should thy servant be a burden to my Lord the King? Not much unlike may it be said of the sick man, Can he eat, or can he drinke? Can musick, or any other pleasures then delight him, [Page 4] when he is a burthen to himselfe? And as by reason of paine, it renderth life uncomfortable, so by reason of weaknesse, un­serviceable, disenabling the body from the performance of any work: Alas, how can the Clock go when the Weights are plucked off? or the Watch move right, when the Wheels are out of order?

Both these sad effects are fitly expressed by two words, the one in the Hebrew, the other in the Greek tongue, and it is the word which our Apostle here useth. The Hebrew word— [...] signifieth both doluit and aegrotavit, to be sick, and to be sorry: well are they expressed by one word; since they commonly go together, both smarting paine in the [...]dy, and dolorous anguish in the Mind being caused by sicknesse; in this respect the English word disease, is very apposite, because it diseaseth and disturbeth the person; of this David complained in his sicknesse, Psal. 6.2, 3. when he saith, My bones are vexed, and my soule is also sore vexed. The Greek word [...] implyeth both aegrotari, and imbecillem esse, to be sick, and to be weak, Mat. 9 17. Psal. 38.8. and therefore the Noun of this Verbe is elsewhere rendred infirmity: this inconvenience likewise David found by his disease, when he said, I am feeble, and sore broken; weaknes being the inseparable concomitant of sicknes. Quando haec tam gra [...]ia fa [...]iet vicino jam exitu, etiam à medi [...]c [...]ium actione exclusus fa [...]isc [...]te jam corpore ubi ex [...]r­cebit districtio­nis officium cen­sor animus Salv. ad Ec [...]l. Cathol. [...]. 1. Iam. 5.

Meditations, wch (I would to God) were more deeply imprinted on the mindes of men, those especially, who put off their repen­tance, and the Working out of their salvation till a sick bed, as if when they are in pain, they could repent with the more ease, or when they are weakest, they were strong enough for this work: Alas, doe you not know how unfit such a time is for any, but much more a religious employment? This no doubt is one reason why Saint James, who in other afflictions adviseth men to pray for themselves, in sicknesse counselleth them to call for the Elders of the Church to pray over them, because then for the most part they are unable to pray themselves: in this re­spect it was (as I have read) the saying of a vertuous Gentle­woman upon her sick bed, Let none defer their preparation nor their prayers unto the bed of their sicknesse, Langhorn's [...]un. Se [...]m. of M. s Mary Swaine. for then the minde is too much troubled with grief of body to be employed, as they ought, in spiritual exercise. Tell me, whoever thou art that delayest till this time, how knowest thou, but such a sickness may seize upon [Page 5] thee as in a moment, may take away thy life? or if not,Quia deus non irridetur, ipse se decepit qui mortem multis temporibus vixit & ad quaeren­dam vitam se­mivivus assurgit & tu [...]c offici­o [...]us app [...]rct quando domini­ca saervituti omnia corporis & anima sub­t [...]huntur officia. Faust. Epist. prma. Mat. 19.8. Gum omnes ho­mine [...] velint poe­vitentiam in sine vitae suae ac­cipere, v [...]x pau­eo [...] videmus [...]am secundum quod desiderant adi­pisci. Elig. de caex. dom: hom. sext. be­reave thee of thy senses? or it may be so painfull, that it is all thou canst do to wrestle with the paine; nay, let me tell thee, for the most part such procrastinators, when that time com­meth▪ either repent not at all in their sicknesse, or it proveth but a sickly repentance. Oh then (my Brethren!) be wise in time, doe not lay the greatest load on the feeblest horse, put not the weakest servant to the hardest labour, put not off the maine businesse of thy soules health to the dolefull time of thy bodies sicknesse.

You have heard what sicknesse doth, or rather undoeth; it would not be amisse to enquire whence it came, and how it was brought into the world. Indeed (as Christ saith in another case) it was not so from the beginning. Man in innocency was created with a body of so equall and lasting a temperature, that (had he not sinned) it had neither been taken downe by death, nor put out of frame by sicknesse. Sinne it is which is fons Ma­li, morbi, mortis, hath brought in evill instead of good, death of life, and sicknesse of health. The Physitian being asked the cause of Diseases, answereth, and most truly, mali humores, evill humors in the body. But the Divine resolveth it more fully, mali mores, ill manners in the life. Phylosophy teacheth, and Experience confirmeth it, that passiones animae sequuntur temperamentum corporis, the mindes passions much follow the bodyes temper. Divinity preacheth no lesse truly, that the dis­order of the body followeth upon the distemper of the minde; Mans soule was first sick of sinne, and so the body becommeth infected with sicknesse for sinne. It was the first sinne of Adam which brought forth, and it is our owne actuall sinnes that nourish this degenerate Brat, wherewith mankinde is so mise­rably infested.

A Meditation, which (if well pondered) would learne us to beare sicknesse whensoever it commeth upon us without mur­muring, and yet with mourning.

1. Why shouldst thou repine at God when any disease seizeth one thee? True, he is the efficient, Nihil est quod de calamitatibus nostris Deo im­putare possumus, nos calamitatum nostrarum au­ctores sumus. Salvide Gub. l. 8 à Deo punimur sed ipsi facimus ut puniamur. id ibid. Jerem. 4.18. but thou art the meritori­ous cause; he inflicteth, but it is sinne that deserveth; he puni­sheth, but it is not till thou hast provoked him, blame not his [Page 6] justice, but thank thy owne wickednesse, the Moth that frets the garment is bred of it; the Tree giveth life to that Worme which killeth it. Thy sicknesse, oh man, is of thy selfe, and thy owne wayes and doings are they which procure these things to thee.

2. When sicknesse smiteth thy body, let repentance smite thy thigh; when the disease rageth in thy members, let thy soule be angry at thy sinne, and as thou complainest of the effect, so labor to be sensible of the cause:Gr. Naz Epist 70. [...] saith the Divine excellently, sicknes is an wholsome Disci­pline, it is so when it teacheth us to know our folly. Happy disease which openeth our eyes at once to see, and weep for our sinnes; Oh my soule, it is sinne hath caused thy body to feele sicknesse, let sicknesse cause thee to feele the weight of sinne; it is wickednesse hath brought this weaknesse, let this weaknesse bring thee to a sight and sense of thy wickednesse, why shouldst thou hold that sword in thy hand, which hath so sorely wounded it? or hug that serpent in thy bosome, which hath so painfully stung thee? rather since the fruit is so bitter, pluck up the root, and let not sin reigne any longer in thy mortal body, seeing it hath made thy body so mor­tall. And so much for the quality of the danger: I pass on to the ‘Extremity of the measure, nigh unto death.’

Mort [...]m omni aetati commu­n [...]m [...]ss [...] sentio. Cic. de Sen [...]ct. tun [...] [...]repida [...] cum pr [...]pè a vo­bis credimus [...]sse morte [...], à quo propè non [...]. parata omnibus lo [...]is [...]. Sen Ep [...]st 30. Tres sunt nun­ [...]ii [...]rtis, c [...]su [...], infirmit [...]s, se [...]ctus, casus nuntiat mortem late [...]tem, infirmit [...]s ap [...] [...]tem, senoctus p [...]aescut [...]m. Hugo de. S. vict. de claust. An.It is that, which in some sense is true of every man alive, this world is a region of Ghosts, dying men, yea, young men in the prime of their dayes, strong men in the full vigour of their age, are nigh to death, because death may then be neer to them. The Philosopher being ask'd what he thought of life, turn'd him round and vanished out of sight, thereby intimating, how easily and speedily life may be taken away: and some of them have no lesse truly than aptly represented the distance between life and death by oculus, apertus and clausus, an eye open and shut, which is done in a moment. But though this in some respect be verified of all men, yet it is more especially true of two sorts of persons, to wit, old men, and sick men, since old age is [...] a naturall disease, and a disease is [...] an accidentall old age, both must needs tend and hasten to death.

[Page 7]As for old men, they are so nigh to death, Nihil habet qu [...]d spere [...] quem senectus ducit ad mortem Sen. Ep. 30 Quemadniodum s [...]nectus adole­scentiam s [...]qui­tur, ita mors se­nectutem. i [...]. ibid ped [...]te [...]m mo­rior dixit Ale­xis [...]en [...]x lente incedens. Ch [...]ron me mo­mordit dixit Daemonax sen [...]x pro cane, innu­ens s [...]nectutem morti vicinam. Erasm. Apoth. l 6. & 8. [...] Crat. Antiph. Juvenibus in­cer [...]us hujus vi­tae terminus in­sta [...], senibus vero cunctis maturior ex hac luce [...]xitus breviter concor­dat Cypr. de 12. abus. saec. [...]. Diog laert. l. 1. that the Proverbe saith, they have one foot in the grave, young men may dye soon, but they cannot live long; the dimnesse of light in their eyes, and vapours that sometimes are drawne up into their braines, argue the Sun of their life to be setting, the hoary frost, or rather white snow upon their heads, proclaimes that the winter of their deaths is approaching. The more strange it is to see them doting on, who are going out of the world, and as if they could set up under ground, their mindes are most earthly whilest th [...]ir bodies are ready to drop into the earth: the more sad it is to think how both unwilling and unfit they are to die, who yet are so unlikely to live; and as if with the Eagle they could renew their youth, they flatter themselves in hope of life, when yet they are as it were within sight of death; how short are such men of that heathen Seneca, who said of himselfe, ante se­nectutem curavi bene vivere, in senect ute bene mori, my care in youth was to live, but in old age to die well, then no doubt perceiving his death to be at hand.

As old men, be they never so well, so sick men, by they ne­ver so young, are nigh to death; what Anacharsis said of Sea­men, that he knew not whether to reckon them among the living or the dead, is no lesse true of sick men, who indeed are not dead, because they breath, and yet not living because not lusty; every man carrieth death in his bosome, but the sick man at his backe, or rather in his armes before his face.

In summe there is a three-fold propinquity of death, possible, probable, certaine; it is possible the healthiest, strongest, and youngest may dye quickly; it is certaine old men (though they out-live far younger) cannot live long; and it is probable that the sick mans death is at hand.

But yet this in the proper sense is not true of all sicknesses, that distinction of sinne cannot hold in Divinity, according to the Popish acception, that some are veniall, others mortall, since S. Paul saith indefinitely, and meaneth it universally, that death is the wages of sin, but Analogically it is true in Physick of diseases; some are onely painfull, others mortall, the Gout in the Toe, a pain in the Teeth, a prick in the Finger; these, though they cause pain, yet are not in their owne nature dead­ly, [Page 8] nor is the patient accounted the neere [...] death for them.

Besides, of mortall diseases there is a difference, some are a long time untwisting, others in a short time cut asunder the thread of life: thus the Dropsie is a great while in drowning, the Palsie in shaking downe, and the Consumption in drying up the body, whilest the Feaver in a few dayes burneth, and an Apoplexie, or Aposteme in a few houres suffocate it.

And yet once more in violent diseases, there is a difference, we do not say of every man whom a Feaver smiteth, that he is presently nigh to death; whilest the body is vigorous, the Physick prosperous, [...]. G [...]. Naz. O [...]at. 19. Forsita [...] quia verberatus est ab infi [...]elibus in m [...]nisterio. Anselm. in loc. Ch [...]ysost. in v. 29. we account the patient hopefull; but those, in whom the virulency of the disease so farre prevaileth, as that both the strength of Nature, & skill of Art seem unable to grapple with it, are only and justly looked upon as nigh to death.

Such, no doubt, was Epaphroditus his case, for though some conceive this danger might arise from stripes and scour­ges, which Nero should command to be inflicted on him at Rome, yet it is more rationally and generally concluded, that some violent sicknesse, by reason of a long Journy, had seized upon him; and though it is likely this good man was not neg­ligent (according as ability and opportunity was afforded) to use meanes, yet the disease did so increase, that as to life his condition was desperate, and therefore S. Paul saith of him he was nigh unto death.

Humana [...]rugae­lita [...]is nimia in pr [...]sp [...]ris r [...]bu [...] oblivio est. Q [...]. Cu [...]t. l. 4. [...]. Greg. Naz. To this low and weake estate is God pleased many times to bring men among others, chiefly for a double end, and that he may minde them of their dissolution, and quicken them in their devotion.

Of all things we are very prone to forget our latter end, and therefore God by sicknesse puts us in minde of it, we are apt to put death farre from us, and therefore by some grievous disease God bringeth us nigh to death; a presumption, we shall not dye yet, maketh us not think of dying at all, and whilest mar­row is in our bones, colour in our faces, appetite in our stomachs, strength in our joynts, health in our bodyes, we easily perswade our selves we shall not dye yet; no mervaile, if to fixe our eyes upon the Grave, God chasten us with paine upon our Bed, so [Page 9] that our life abhorreth bread, our flesh consumeth away, Iob Omnes (inquit Alexander sa­gitta ictus) ju­rant me Jovis esse fili­um, sed hoc vul­nus homin [...]m esse me cl [...]mat. [...]en. Ep. 59. [...]. Plut. Apoth. and our soule draweth neare to the grave. It was the confession of Ale­xander, when let bloud with an arrow: All men call me Jupiters Sonne, but this wound proclaimes me a mortall man: and yet more divine was that of Antigonus, who acknow­ledged his disease to be sent as a Monitor, lest otherwise he might have growne insolent through the forgetfulnesse of mor­tality. Sicknesses especially, when desperate, are warning peices to tell us the murdering peice of death is ready to destroy, every ach tolls the Bell, but these, as it were, dig the grave, and cry dust to dust; and good reason it is, that when we cast the thought of death behinde our backs, death it selfe should by these diseases looke us in the face, and as it were, pluck us by the throat.

2. In health we are no lesse apt to forget God than our selves, but sicknesse mindeth us of him, in prosperity perhaps we mumble over a Pater Noster, but adversity teacheth us to cry Abba Father: Lord, saith the Prophet, in trouble have they visited thee, they who before were strangers, now would bee familiar with God, and give him a visit; they poured out a prayer when thy chastening was upon them, it may be before they did say a prayer, but now they poure out a prayer. Is [...]. 26.16.

Though man by the formation of his body be made with an erect countenance, yet he seldome looks up to heaven till some disease hath laid him upon his back; nor yet many times will a slight sicknesse prevaile: God promiseth himselfe concer­ning his people, in their affliction they will seeke me early, Hos. 5. ult. Luk. 8.43. Luk. 15.16. [...]. Chrys. in Psal. 119. [...]. Suid. but for the most part it proveth otherwise; ubi desinit medicus, ibi incipit Theologus, the Divine's work begins not with many till the Physitian's is done, it is late enough not to seeke God till affliction comes, and yet we seeke God not early, but late in affliction. The Woman in the Gospell sick of a bloudy Issue, goeth not to Christ till she had spent all (and that to no pur­pose) upon Physitians, the Prodigall thinketh not of going home to his Father, till he is brought so low, that he would faine be fed with husks, but cannot get them: nor doe many lift up their eyes or hands to heaven, till they are scarce able to lift up either. Indeed necessity is an excellent Mistris, especi­ally [Page 10] of Devotion: Most men will not pray till they must, it is misery, which like Jonahs fish, puts them upon humble sup­plication, who never thought of God under the gourd of Prospe­rity. In which respect, that Latine Proverb was not taken up without just cause, Qui nescit orare, discat navigare; he that knoweth not how to pray, let him turne Mariner: and no doubt those violent stormes, which make the Seas to roare, will teach him to pray. When those young Persian gallants being beaten and pursued by their enemies, Dr. Jer. Tay. Sermon. [...]. Chryso. in Psal. 129. [...]. Greg. Naz. Orat. 17. came to the River Strymon, which was so frozen that their Boats could not launch, and yet it began to thaw, so that they feared the Ice would not beare them, then (though the day before they re­viled both God and his providence) most timorously they fall upon their faces, and ardently beg of God that the River might beare them over from their enemyes pursuit. The smart lasues of Gods rod drive them home, and draw them neare to him, who before were farre from him.

The Greekes aptly expresse the declining estate of a King­dome by [...] falling upon the Knee, and its ruined estate by [...] falling upon the Mouth; expressions, which though they principally referre to the condition, yet withall intimate the disposition of men in an afflicted condition, they whose knees in health were like Elephants, without joynts, could not, or rather would not bend, in sicknesse fall upon their knees, nay, when nigh to death, fall upon their mouthes in humble adoration and earnest invocation upon God. And for these causes, that men may both looke forward to their end, and upward to their God; he is pleased to bring them downe­ward, almost to the Gates of Death, and Chambers of the Grave.

To end this, let us all make account of, and prepare for straights. In health, expect sicknesse, in sicknesse looke for death, or to be brought nigh to it. Diseases may come unsent for, let them not come unlook'd for; if they happen not, thou art not the worse, and it is labour well lost; if they doe, thou art the better fitted, and it is time well spent. Doe not flatter thy selfe in health, as if the mountaine of thy body were so strong that it could not be moved: Alas, one blast from heaven can­not [Page 11] onely move, but remove, shake, but overturne it, rather even then when thou art fed with fat pastures, cleare waters, thy Table spread, thy Cup full, thy Body hayle, often thinke of walking through the valley of the shadow of death:Psal. 23.4.Happy is that man, whom when sicknesse arresteth, and death approa­cheth to, can say, and say it truly, This is no more then what I have looked and provided for all my dayes. And so much be spo­ken of the second particular, pass we now to the third.

3. Eminency of the person, whom this extreame disease be­fell in the relative He. If you would know who this He was, be pleased to cast your eyes on the 25. verse of the Chapter, Ver. 25. where you finde his name to be Epaphroditus, one that was not onely a good Man, but a Man of God, not onely a Servant, but a Minister of Christ, and one so eminent, Ibid. as that Saint Paul dignifies him with the titles of his Brother, and Companion, and fellow-Souldier; and yet of him it is here said that he was nigh unto death.

Saints as well as sinners, Ministers as well as the People, are liable to desperate diseases. In respect of temporall evills they have no more priviledge than others: And no wonder, since

1. That which is the cause both of sicknesse and death, re­maineth in them, to wit, sinne: Indeed the power of sinne is weakened, therefore they cannot be hurt of the second death, P [...]ccatum sepa­ran [...] inter nos [...] & Deum peni [...] [...]us auferri non pot [...]st, donec libe­remur a corpo [...]e. B [...]rn. de 3. in adv. Serm. 6. but the being of it remaineth, and that necessitateth the first: they are so freed from the guilt of it, that they shall not taste the torments of hell, but yet they may drinke deepe of the mise­ries of this life: sinne will not leave the best man till it hath brought him to his grave, well may it bring him to his sick bed.

2. In respect of their bodily constitution, they are earthly houses, that will moulder away, till at last they fall: earthen vessels subject to flawes and cracks, till at length they breake. The Saints are the Sonnes of God by grace, but still the Sonnes of Adam by nature, the Ministers are Angels in respect of their office, but still they are Men in regard of their per­sons, and being of the same mould, and subject to the same dangers with others.

[Page 12] [...]. Oecumen. ib. Causa morbi su­it n [...]mia dili­gentia in me cu­rando, in doc [...]n­do evangelio, in d [...]f [...]nd [...]dá m [...]á causá, in vigil [...]is j [...]jun [...]o, lucub [...]a­tionibus, &c. Aret. ibid. [...]. Greg. Naz. Orat. 19. 1 Cor. 11.30. 2 Cor. 12 7. [...] 3. More specially, the very calling and employment of Mini­sters is such, as exhausteth their spirits, weakeneth their bodyes, and accelerateth both diseases and death: our Apostle saith of Epaphrodit ▪ that for the work of Christ he was nigh to death; v. 30. the worke he there meaneth is most probably conceived to be the travelling of this good man to Rome, with supplyes for his wants, (to relieve a Christian, especially a Messenger of Christ, is the work of Christ) but it is no lesse true of the worke of Christ, which is p [...]culiarly the Ministers, since the pains they take in preaching, oft times Christ brings them nigh to death. It was said of Archimedes, studiis quibus obtinuit famam amisit vi­tam, the studies which got him credit lost his life; and it may be said of many Ministers, the fastings, watchings, labours preachings, by which they profit the peoples soules, hurt their bodyes. Thus like the candle they waste themselves that they might enlighthen, yea, like the salt they dissolve themselves that they may season others.

4. Finally, God hath choice and singular ends at which he aimeth, when he bringeth his owne Servants or Ministers into such desperate sicknesses, and that both, in regard of sinne and grace.

1. In regard of their sinnes, that they may be either purged or prevented, by which means their sicknesse becomes their Physicke, and the Malady it selfe a spirituall remedy. It may be they have fallen into some grosse sinne, and therefore they fall into some grievous sicknesse: So was it with those unwor­thy Communicants, concerning whom Saint Paul saith, for which cause many of them were weake, many sick, and some slept. It may be God seeth them prone to commit some hainous fault which he restraineth them from by some dolorous sicknesse, as S. Paul had a prick in his flesh that he might not be puffed up in his minde: so God sometimes wounds his Servants bodyes, as knowing, that otherwise they would have wounded their consci­ences.

2. In respect of their graces, that the truth of them may be tried, the acts of them renewed, and the strength of them en­creased. God hath many wayes to try men, among which sick­nesse, especially if dangerous, is a sor [...] tryall, and therefore [Page 13] when the Devill, [...]. Chrys. T. 7. de Morb. & Med. Quo [...]dam p [...]c­scicus Deus pec­care posse, in sa­lutem flagellat cos infirmitate co [...]poris, ne pec­cent: ut cis u­tilius sit fra [...]gi languoribus ad salutem, quam remancre in [...]o­lumes ad d [...]m­nationem Bern. de Int. Dom. cap. 46. Probationes di­versae sunt cre­dentium, alius por aegritudi­nem, alius amis­sione charorum, alius per damum pecu [...]iae proba­tur. Ambr. in Loc. by Gods leave had tryed Job in the losse of his Cattell, Servants, and Children, he obtaineth licence to inflict sores upon his body, making this his last (as accounting it his fiercest) onset, Indeed then is the triall of a mans faith, when God seemeth as if he would slay him, of his hope when all things are desperate, of his love when God frowneth upon, nay beateth him, of his patience when the paine is sharp, of his courage when the sorrowes of death compasse him, of his perse­verance, when he holds fast his integrity to the death.

To close up this, let it be a lesson of comfort, of charity, and of diligence.

1. Of comfort, when any sicknesse seizeth on thee, remem­ber whose lot it hath been as well as thine, and be not discoura­ged. When Christ would encourage his Disciples against suf­ferings, he useth this argument, for so persecuted they the Prophets which were before you: Mat. 5.11. it is that meditation which may revive us when we are in pain and misery, so it fared with others of Gods faithfull ones before me. That argument of Eliah indeed was somewhat passionate, 1 King. [...]9.4. It is enough now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am not better than my Fathers; but it is a pious reasoning for every Christian to say, I am content Lord, if thou take away my health, exercise me with diseases, I am not better than Job, David, Hezekiah, Epaphroditus, and others of thy faithfull Servants and Ministers; who am I, that I should think much to pledge those holy men of God, though in a bitter Cup?

2. Of Charity, and that both to thy selfe and others.

1. Condemne not thy selfe as if God hated thee, because he corrects thee, or as if he were more angry with thee than others, because he chastiseth thee more severely then them. Indeed it is good in a time of sicknesse to reflect upon thy selfe, [...]. Chrys. T. 7. do Morb. & Med. examine thy wayes, and if conscience accuse of some great misdemea­nour, to humble thy selfe, and acknowledge thy disease the just reward of thy offence, but otherwise, do not conclude thy owne guilt or Gods hatred meerely from the premisses of sick­nesse, though virulent.

2. Censure not others as if they were therefore the worst of sinners, because in their bodyes the greatest sufferers. This is [Page 14] (indeed) that hard measure which Gods people and Ministers often meet with: When the Barbarians saw a Viper upon Paul's hand, Act. 28.4. Psal. 38.13. Quàm praepo­sterum judicium corum qui ex variis malis, qui­bus nonnulli magni viri & doctores ecclesiae laborare non­nunquam solent, finistre de illo­rum doctrina & salute judi­care. Zanch in Loc. Eccles. 9.2. Psal. 91.10. they presently condemned him as a murtherer; and David complaineth of his enemies, that when he was sick, they spake mischievous things against him: nay Job's friends (though good men) were deceived with this fallacy, and ac­cuse Job of hypocrisie because of his calamity. And thus it is still, If a zealous Christian, or faithfull Minister be visited with a dolefull sicknesse, his Religion must be no better than Dissimulation, and his Doctrine Heresie: But surely it is either Ignorance, or Malice, or both, that filleth mens mouthes with such censures.

It is true, there never was sicknesse without sinne, but the sicknesse is not alwayes proportioned to the sinne: these things come alike to all, was the wise mans Observation, nor doth any sicknesse befall any man which may not befall the best man. I know some assert a Saint to be Plague-free, grounding it upon the Promise in the Psalme, that no plague shall come nigh his dwelling: But you must know, this is onely a temporall Promise, and therefore (as indeed all such) hath a double con­dition annexed unto it. The one ex parte personae, on the Saints part, which is to make the Lord, even the most high, his habita­tion;Ver. 9. if then good men, in pestilentiall times, through a distrust­full feare, make the Creatures their refuge, no mervaile if the plague infect them and their dwellings. The other ex parte rei, in regard of the thing it selfe, which is onely assured so far as it may make for Gods glory and his Peoples benefit. We read in the former part of the tenth verse there shall no evill befall him, whereby is intimated that the plague shall not then come nigh to, when it is evill for a good man, but if at any time God see it good, either for the manifestation of his owne glory (to wit, of his justice in so severely punishing his owne, of his power and mercy in delivering from so deadly a disease) or for the spirituall advantage of his people (in humbling them for some scandalous sinne by so smart a chastisement, in exercising the strength of their patience by so sore a tryall) not the holiest person is in such cases exempted from the plague, nor is it improbably conceived that Job's botches, Hezekiah's [Page 15] boyles, Davids sores were not much different from, if not altogether the same with the plague, who yet all of them were choice and eminent Saints. Oh then, let us take heed how we lay the load of heavy censure upon the backs of Gods Ministers and Servants.

3. Of diligence, that

1. We who are Ministers, improve the time of our health in feeding the flocks of Christ, since when sicknesse cometh, we shall be disenabled from our employments: nay perhaps we that have taught others, may then have need to learne our selves.

You who are the People, get all the good you can from us, whilest we are in a capacity of doing good to you, ere long the Candle of our lives may burne dimme by reason of some sick­nesse, yea, be blowne out by death, and then we can no longer give light unto you. Oh therefore walke in the light while you have it, be willing to learne while we are able to teach, account our labours precious, and let them be profitable to you, whilest God maketh us able to bestow them among you, which we shall not be, when that befalls us which did Epaphroditus in the Text, to be sick nigh unto death: And so I have given a dispatch to the first generall, namely the distresse: I now pro­ceed to

2. The deliverance, Gen. part. and therein the

1. Efficiency of the Author, God. Indeed both life and death, health and sickness, are in Gods hand: That of the Poet, ‘Vna cadem (que) manus vulnus opem (que) tulit,Ovid. may in this respect be fitly made use of; the same hand of Di­vine Providence is that which maketh and closeth the wound: He killeth, and maketh alive, he bringeth downe to the grave, and bringeth up, so singeth Hannah. I forme light, 1 Sam. 2.6: and create dark­nesse, I make peace, and create evil, I the Lord doe all these things, is Gods owne saying by the Prophet. Isa, 45.7. Thy head cannot ake without his leave, nor leave aking without his help; but though both are from him, yet with some difference. Of sicknes, he is onely the efficient, sinne is the meritorious cause. Of health he is so the efficient, as that his mercy is the impulsive cause, for which reason perhaps it is here said, God had mercy; that [Page 16] which moveth him is his pitty, and that which helpeth us is his power.

Sunt aliqua me­dia divinae pro­videntiae, nox propter defectum suae virtutis, sed propter abundan­tiam suae bonita­tis, ut dignita­tem causalitatis etiam creaturis communicet. Aquin. part 1. q. 30. a [...]t 3. Luk. John 5.8, 9. 2 Kings 5.14. Isa. 38.21. Iohn 9, 6.True it is, God is for the most part pleased to make use of meanes in effecting health, but this ariseth from the greatnesse of his goodnesse, not any defect in his Almightinesse, as Aquinas pithily.

That he needeth not meanes, appeareth in as much as he sometimes worketh without any. Such were the Cures Christ wrought upon Peters Wives Mother, the Centurions Ser­vant, and the Impotent Cripple, whom his Word onely resto­red to health. Nay many times the meanes he useth are im­probable, yea, of their owne nature apt to produce a contrary ef­fect. What vertue could there be in the waters of Jordan to cleanse Naamans leprosie? or in the lump of figgs to heale Hezekiah's sores? yea, the Spittle and Clay which Christ made use of, were more likely to put out a seeing, than recover a blinde mans eyes.

He standeth not in need of meanes; but the most probable meanes stand in need of him. It is to put honour on the creature that God vouchsafeth to use it as an instrument ▪ and when the creature becometh an instrument of any good, it is onely as in the hand of God, working with, and by it. For, tell me, when any are recovered, who is it that put the medicinall quality into the drugs which heale them, but the God of Nature? who giveth that wit and skill to man which findeth out their quali­tyes, and accordingly maketh use of them, but the God of Knowledge? Finally, who is it that commands a blessing up­on, and giveth successe to the meanes, but the God of Power? Man liveth not by bread onely, nor is the Patient cured by Physick onely, Mat. 4.4. or chiefly, it is a word proceeding from the mouth of God that maketh the one effectuall for continuation, and the other for restauration of health.

To apply this in a three-fold admonition:

1. Art thou wicked? As thou desirest health to be preser­ved, or renewed, make thy peace with God by repentance: it is the ground upon which the Jewish Converts mutually exhort each other to this duty,Hos. 6.1. Come let us returne unto the Lord, for he hath torne, and he will heale us, he hath smitten, and he will [Page 17] binde us up, though it be that indeed, which God out of his Phi­lanthropie sometimes vouchsafeth,Creatorem nobit p [...]pitium redda­ [...]us, qui pot [...]s est nos cum mor­bis [...]ffligere, tum sana [...]e. Ephe. de vi [...]. spirit. T. 1. Isa. 57.13. Iu [...]ges 10.14. Isay 36.7. yet it is a fond presumption for any to expect that he should be a Physitian to them who are enemies to him. Me thinks an ungodly wretch should imagine that God speaketh to him in the words of the Prophet, when thou cryest let thy companions deliver thee; or, as he saith to the children of Israel, when they committed Idolatry, Goe and cry unto the Gods which you have chosen, the lusts which you have served, let them deliver you in the time of your tribu­lation. Had that accusation of Rabshakeh been true, his ar­gumentation was solid, when he sent that message to Hezekiah, But if thou say to me, we trust in the Lord our God, is it not hee, whose high Places, [...]. Chrys. in Psal. 4.6. and whose Altars Hezekiah hath taken a­way? And surely the conscience of a wicked man (if not seared) cannot but check him in the like expressions, Wilt thou say I trust in God for health, or recovery? Is it not he whose Name thou hast blasphemed, Patience thou hast abused, and Wor­ship thou hast neglected? Be wise therefore, oh ye sinners, and instructed ye wicked of the earth! make him your friend who must be your refuge, offer the sacrifice of righteous­nesse, and then, not till then, put your trust in the Lord. Your life, your health is in his hands; looke that your do­ings be right, [...]. Chrys. T. 7. de Morb. & Med. and then your persons shall bee precious in his eyes.

2. Art thou sick? learne whom to invocate, and on whom to depend for health, upon no other than God.

Far be it from any of us in sicknesse (with Saul in danger) to run to the Pythomise, and seek help of the Devill. Satans best cures are deadly wounds; it is far better to continue sick, then by such meanes to get health. Since whilst thy mortall body is for a time restored, thy immortall soule is desperately endan­gered.

Nor yet let us with the Papists seeke to any Saints as Me­diatours with God for our recovery. Whilest They have their severall Saints for severall Diseases; Sebastian for the Plague, Anthony for the Gangreen, Patronilla for Agues, and Benedict for the Stone: Let us have recourse to the one God in all Diseases. Whilst they thinke it too great saucinesse to [Page 18] be their owne spokes-men to God; and therefore go to saint somebody to preferre their Petitions for them: let us hold it the best manners to go our selves of our owne errands to God, not doubting but that he, who bids us come, will bid us wel­come.

2 Chron. 16 12.Finally, let us not [...]read in Asa's foot-steps, who sought not to the Lord, but to the Physitians; nor yet let us tread Anti­podes to him in seeking to the Lord, and not to the Physitians, whilest he affoards them: but as Gideon commanded his Soul­diers to cry, the sword of the Lord, and of Gideon; so let us ever say, the blessing of the Lord, and the skill of the Physitian. Indeed where opportunity is vouchsafed, those two must not be severed. God will not usually help without meanes, and there­fore they must be used; the meanes cannot possibly help with­ [...]ut God; and therefore in the use of them his blessing must be implored. They are equally bad to neglect and to rest on second causes, to expect succour either from them originally, or without them instrumentally, to rely on God without meanes, or trust to meanes without God. Surely, what the King said to the woman, 2 Kings. 6 27. If the Lord doe not help thee, whence shall I help thee? that all creatures say to us in any distresse, If the Lord help not, whenc shall we? except the Lord build the house, they labour in vaine that build it, except the Lord keep the City, the watchman watcheth but in vain, Psal. 127.1. Frustra [...]st [...]mul [...] humana d [...]lig [...]ntia nisi divina a [...]dat provid [...]ntia. M [...]c. ibid. saith the Psalmist. Indeed he doth not say quia, because the Lord buildes the house, but uisi, as excluding [...]umane diligence: but except the Lord build, thereby including divine providence: nor doth he onely say, nisi d [...]minus consenserit, adjuverit, but nisi aedificaverit, custo­dicrit, unlesse the Lord consent, (a word which onely implyeth his will) or unlesse the Lord help, Id ibid. which extendeth to any kinde of assistance (the meanest thing that concurreth to any work, being causa adjuvans, an auxiliary cause) but unlesse the Lord build and keep, which imply the concurrence of his power, as well as will, and that as the principall agent in the buil­ding and keeping: the same assertion is no lesse true in this pres [...]nt case,Luke 4.23. except the Lord heale the patient, the Physitian ad­mnistreth but in vaine. Heal thy self, is only true of that Physiti­an, to whom it was spoken: no other Physitian can of himself [Page 19] either heale himselfe or others. Tangit te Rex, Sanat te Deus, was no lesse truly than humbly spoken when the Royall touch was given, The King toucheth thee, God cureth thee. It is so here, the Physitian prescribes the medicine, but God by that commands health. Oh therefore that Physitians in admini­string, patients in receiving, would onely depend upon, and sue for divine Benediction, when the one writes a recipe with his pen, let him pray with his heart; when the other receiveth the potion into his stomach, let him lift up his eyes to God, Ezod. 15. [...]6. who saith of himselfe, I am the Lord that healeth thee.

3. Art thou recovered? know whom to praise, and to whom to ascribe the cure: could the ingredients of thy medi­cine speak, each would say of health, as the depths and the Seas, Iob 28.14. of wisdome, It is not in me: It is, I am sure, the voice of all pious Physitians, non nobis, not to us (oh man) not to us,Peter 5.1.but to God be the praise of thy recovery. And therefore whilst the Atheist looketh no further than nature and art, let the Chri­stian look higher at God and his blessing: and as he must not for­get that respect which is due to the Physitian, as the Instrument, so let the chiefest honour be given to God as being the princi­pall efficient. The truth is, for the most part, such is our foo­lishnesse, Faciem quoda­modo ponentes ad ea quae fecit, dorsum ponimus ad artificem qui fecit. Si quando nobis prosperi aliquid praeter spem no­stram & meri­tum deus tribuit, alius ascribit hoc fortunae, alius [...]ven [...]t, alius confilio, nullus d [...]o. Salv. de Cub. l. 7. that whilest we fix our eyes upon the blessings we receive, we turne our backs upon the God that bestoweth them, and we are more ready to father them upon any other than him, who is the true donor of them. Oh let not onely gratitude but justice, teach us to give God his due, when we gather the fruit let us cast downe our eyes on the root from which they sprout, when we feed upon the acornes, let us lift them up to the tree from whence they fall, and being refreshed by the flowing streame, let us reflect upon the springing fountaine. Oh my God, it is in thee that I live, let me live to thee; from thee I have received health, to thee I returne praise; I have the comfort, take thou the glory of thy great mercy. And so I passe forward to the

2. Excellency of the Benefit, how expressed, in those words, Had mercy on him.

In mercy there are two things considerable, affectus, and effectus, the passion, and the action, the inward pitty, and the [Page 20] owtward bounty, that is in the heart, this in the hand; that the bowels of mercy, this the works of mercy; that called by the Greekes [...], and this [...], and both these, though not in the same sense,Misericordia nonnullis quod mi [...]rum cor fa­ciat. Aug con [...]r. adv. leg. l. [...]. c▪ 20. Misericors dici­tur aliquis si qua miscrum cor hab [...]ns. Aquin p [...]r. prim q. 21. art. 3. Isa. 63.6. I [...]rem 3 [...].20. Psal. 10 [...].16. N [...]bis non sibi loquitur, atque ideo nostris u [...]i­tur in loquendo. Hil [...]r. in Ps 126 [...]. Greg. Naz. Orat. 16. Mise [...]icord [...]a est ali [...]rae miser [...]ae in co [...]d [...]ostro comp [...]ssi [...] qu [...] uti [...] (si possi­mus) subven [...]e compellimur. Aug. de civit. dei. l 9. c. 8. are attributed to God, and here to be understood.

1. In mercy there is a laying of anothers misery to heart, The Gre [...]ke word [...] is derived from the He­brew [...] which signifieth Ejulare, plangere, to bewaile and lament: a condolency with our Brothers calamity, being a choice ingredient of mercy. This is that which the Holy Ghost asserteth of God in Scripture, where it is said, in all their af­flictions he was afflicted: And againe, My bowels are troubled: And againe, Like as a Father pittyeth his Children, so the Lord pit [...]yeth them that feare him: But withall, we must know, that in these Phrases the most high is pleased to condescend, and speaking to men, to speak of himselfe, as if he were a man. There is not then any sorrow or compassion in him who is impassible, but by this is represented his good will towards his people, whereby he is propense to succour them. And because the afflicted person findes oft times much ease and solace in that sympathie, which another expresseth towards him, that we may know the like solace is to be found in God, this compas­sion is attributed to God; and indeed is, though not formally, yet aequivalently, nay eminently verified of him. To bring this home, in that God is said to have mercy on dying Epaphro­ditus, it implyeth thus much, that God beholding and taking notice of, was as it were affected with his imminent danger, having after a sort a friendly pitty, and motherly yearning, or rather a fatherly good-will towards him. But this is not all that mercy includeth, and therefore know,

2. In mercy there is an indeavour to relieve him whose mi­sery it condoleth, as she suffereth with, so she doth for, and (ac­cording to her ability) either helpeth him to beare the bur­den by putting under her shoulder, or wholly [...]aseth him of it by removing it from his shoulder. Hence the definition of mercy is well given to be such a compassion of anothers misery, as puts upon a cheerfull imploying our power for the sustaining him under, and delivering him [...]ut of it. This is that which [Page 21] in a proper and genuine sense agreeth to God, whose property is to deliver his out of their afflictions, Tristari de mi­seriâ alterius non competit Deo, sed rep [...]l­l [...]re miseriam alicri [...]s hoc m [...]ximè ei com­petit. Aquin. par. prim. qu. 21. a [...]t. 3. Nomen miseri­cordiae pro op [...]re. Zanch. in loc. Dicitur miseri­cordia, quod mi­seriae [...]jusdam est Remotio, Est. ibid. [...]. &c. Greg. Naz. Orat. 16. [...]. Athanas. qu. 15. de parab. [...]. Greg. Naz. Orat. 16. A Ch [...]isto dicti es [...]is Ch [...]istiani; [...] eá viá qua Christus ambularet, & vos d [...]betis ambulare. Bern. Ser ad p [...]st. Pr. 20.6. Sep [...]. V [...]re Magnus qui divini [...]peris interpres est ut imitatur Amb. in Ps. 118. [...]. Greg. Nys. de Beat. Or. 5. [...]. Greg. Naz. Orat. 16. and preserve them from destruction: and this no doubt, is that which our Apostle here especially intends in this expression, God had mercy on him, that is, he did remove his misery, and prevent his death by curing him of that sicknesse which had brought him nigh to it.

Let the same minde be in us that is in God: when our bre­thren are under sicknesse, or any other distresse, to have mercy on them. It was our blessed Saviours reasoning with the Ph [...]risees, though not altogether to the same purpose, Which of you shall have an Asse or an Ox fall into the pit, and will not straightway pull him out? Surely one man is of more worth then many Asses; and shall we not, in what we may, succour him when fallen into some grievous sicknesse?

That good Samaritan in the Type is no other than Christ in the Truth, who pityed and healed man when dangerously wounded by sinne, and as it was the designe of his death to cure mankinde of his spirituall sicknesse, so his practise in the course of his life to go about doing good and healing. If we call our selves Christians, whom should we imitate but Christ, by per­forming all offices of love to the sick ▪ which lye within our Spheare? and if we have no o [...]le but that of compassion, no wine but teares and prayers, let them be poured into the wounds and diseases of thy neighbour; so shall we bee Disciples of Christ. But the Text leads us yet one step higher from Christ, as man, and as God-man, to Christ as God, acquain­ting us with Gods mercy to a sick man: and what more befit­ting man then to imitate God by practising this God-like worke of mercy. [...], a mercyfull [Page 22] man is great and honourable, and that for this reason chiefly, because he is like to God, in which respect Gregory Nyssen, and Nazianzen call such a man a God, as having stampt upon him the Character of a Deity. Bee yee therefore followers of God as deare Children, Eph. 6.1. Luke 6.36 N [...]hil digniu [...] quam u [...] homo sit autoris sui imitator, & se­cundum modum propriae faculta­tis div. ni [...]it [...]pe­ris executor. Leo de quadr. Serm. 5. Psal. 41.3 Prospicit p [...]upe­ri, aegro aegroto, attenuato. Vatabl ibid. Improbus petito [...], qui quod aliis negat sibi postu­lat, Homo esto tibi misericordiae forma, si [...] quomo do vis, quan [...]um vis, quam cito vis m [...]sericor­dia [...] tibi sieri, tam cito alii, tantum, tali [...]r ipse m [...]sercre. Chrysol. Serm. 43. Mat. 15.7. Vita mari est similis, namque ut mare vita pro [...]cllas: Haec habet & v [...]ntos naufragiumque f [...]equ [...]s. An [...]h sacr. is Saint Paul's counsell in generall, Be you mercifull, as your Father also is mer­cifull, so our blessed Saviour adviseth in speciall: and yet more particularly, as God had mercy on sick Epaphroditus, so let us on our sick neighbour, by visiting him, (if we can by our skill or counsell doe him good) however by compassiona­ting him, and interceding with God in his behalfe.

And because this duty is that which (though so honourable) we are averse from; give me leave to carry it a little further, & let you see it is profitable, as well as honourable. Not only that you may follow God in mercy, but that you may upon the like oc­casion obtain mercy from God, shew mercy to ot [...]ers. It is a sweet promise to feed on in a time of sicknesse. The Lord will streng­then him upon the bed of languishing, thou wilt make all his bed in his sicknesse. That bed must needs be easie which God maketh, nor can he faint, whom God strengtheneth, but to whom is it made? him and none but him who considereth the poore, so our Translation, b [...]t the Hebrew word [...] may as well be rendered sick, one that is weakned by a disease: he who considereth others in their sicknesse, shall be supported by God in his. Which of us, beloved, doth not desire that God may shew that mercy to us in our distresse, which he did here to Epaphroditus? But how can we except God should grant that to us, which we deny to others? Blessed are the mercifull, saith Christ, for they shall obtaine mercy: Be then oh man to thy selfe, a patterne of mer­cy, and shew with that speed, and in that degree, mercy to thy sick, weak, languishing neighbour, which thou wouldst have God vouchsafe to thee in the like condition. But a little more to unbowell this Clause.

The mercy here intended (as you have already heard) was the prolongation of life, and restauration of health to Epaphro­ditus: and here a double question falls in to be resolved,

How this can be called a mercy? And
If a mercy in it selfe, yet how a mercy to him?

[Page 23] Qu. 1. It is a plausible Objection which is made, [...]. Philem. Yant [...] [...]st tribu, lat [...]o h [...] jus mis [...] ­rae vi [...]ae, ut nec vita fit dicenda, sed potius mors, vel qu ppiam aliud morte detertus. Idiot de pati. Qu [...]d est di [...]i viv [...]re [...]isi di [...] torqueri. Aug. de verb. dom. Serm. 17 Chrysost. in loc. Theoph. in loc. O [...]cum. in loc. that life pro­longed is no mercy, because it is a calamitous continuance in an evil world: what is this world but a Coffer of Sorrows, Labyrinth of Troubles, Schoole of Vanity, Market of Fraud, Theater of Tragedyes, Floud of Teares, and Map of Ruines? And can it be a favour for a man to continue long in a place of miseries? The earth we tread on, the aire we breath in, are as a Sea, wherein windes and stormes are ever blowing; and can it be a favour to be still tossed up and downe upon a blustering tem­pestuous Sea? Finally, this life is not a life but a calamity, yea, rather a death then a life, because so miserable: to live long is to be long tormented, and can this be a mercy?

Answ. To all this it is briefly, but fully answered. That though there be many evils in the world, yet the world is not evil, nor is it evil to abide in the world. These miseries are only accidental to life, and so hinder not, but that preservation from death is a mercy. And therefore the Greek Fathers upon this Scripture do hence most rationally confute the Manichees, who affirme the world in its owne nature to be bad, [...] so St. Chrysostome, [...]. So Theophilact in particular. What say­est thou to this, oh hereticall Manich [...]e? If the world be wicked, and the life which we now live in it, how doth the Apostle call this a mercy of God, that he lengthened Epaphroditus his dayes? The other life is better than this, [...]. Theoph. ibid. Aristot. Eth [...]l. 1. c. 8 Plat. in Gorg. Ma [...]t. Ep. 70. l. 6. surely then this must be good, an immature death is threatned, and inflicted as a judgement, surely then the continuance of life must be a mercy, as those forementioned Fathers excellently argue,

Life is a mercy, and yet health is a greater mercy. [...] was written upon the porch of Apollo's Temple, health is the Princesse of earthly blessings: and Plato tells us that [...] was sung by every one to his Harpe at the Schooles, and at Festivals. Beauty, riches, health, were the three things Pythagoras said should chiefly be implo­red of the Gods; but among them health the chiefe: indeed, it is that which maketh life it selfe to be a mercy, since non est vivere sed valere vita, To live is not so much to breath, as to be well.

Mercies then they are (especially) when conjoyned, and being [Page 24] so in their owne nature, ought so to be esteemed of by us: in which respect we ought to pray and give thanks for them as blessings. Una est catena quae nos allig nos ten [...]t, amor v [...]tae qui ut non est abujiciendus, ita miu [...]ndus est. Sen. Ep. 27. It is no lesse a fault to undervalue, then to over-prize our lives and health: this latter (I confesse) is the more common, but the former is no lesse culpable: we must not be so much in love with life as to dote upon it, because it is short, yet we may so farre love, as to desire, and endeavour that it may, yea, with the Apostle here, account it a mercy, when it is prolonged.

I end this, If deliverance from death be a mercy, how great a mercy is deliverance from hell? Corpus infra animam est & quaevis anima vilis excellentis­si [...]o corpore ex­cellentio [...] inve­nitur. Aug in Ps 145. If it be a blessing to have the danger of a mortall disease prevented, Oh what is it to have the guilt of our deadly sinnes pardoned? Finally, if the health of the body be a favour, how choice a benefit is the soules health? Surely by how much hell is worse then death, sin then sicknesse, yea, by how much the soule is better than the body, by so much is the one to be preferred before the other. Oh my soule, thou wast sick, desperately sick of sinne, so sick that thou wast not only nigh to death, but dead in sinnes, and trespasses; but God had mercie on thee, he hath sent his Sonne to heale, to revive thee, by being himselfe wounded, nay, slain: and his spirit to cure, to quicken thee by killing thy sinne, and renewing thy nature. Thou art indebted to thy God for temporall, much more for spiri­tuall: Blesse the Lord, oh my soule, for thy life of nature, health of thy body; but let all that is within thee praise his holy name for thy life of grace, and eternall salvation.

Qu. 2. But it is further inquired, though this recoverie were a mercy in it selfe, yet how could it be so to Epaphroditus a godly man? Had it been deliverance by death, this were a mercy indeed; but deliverance from death seemeth rather an injury than a courtesie, Ch [...]ys [...]n loc. Mors po [...]it finem omnibus, malis in h [...]ic vit [...], da [...] terminum malis in hoc sae [...]ulo, [...]imit omnem calam [...]tatem. Be [...]n. de mod. viv. Se [...]m 30. [...], we may easily refell the Heretick, but how shall we answer the Christians who desiring to be dis­solved knoweth not how to esteeme the deferring his dissolut­tion a mercy? Had Epaphroditus been a wicked man, it had been a great mercy to spare him, that he might make his peace with God by the practice of faith and repentance; but to him, whose peace was alreadie made, what advantage could the pro­longing [Page 25] of his life afford? Death it selfe to a good man is a de­liverance, a totall, finall deliverance from all sorrow and mi­sery for ever: And can that be a deliverance, M [...]ritur quide [...] justus sed secure, quippe c [...] ­jus mors ut praeso [...]t [...] exitu [...] est vit [...], ita i [...] ­troitu [...] meli oris. id. Ep. 1 [...]5. Erit janua vitae, initium refri­gerii erit, sanctae illius men [...]is sca [...]a & ingres­sus in locum tabernaculi. Id. in serm. which keepeth off our deliverance? per Augusta pervenitur ad augusta, This red Sea leads to Canaan; through the valley of death we passe to the mount of glory: And can that be a mercy which retardeth our felicity? Is it a courtesie for a man to be detained from his wages, and held to labour? to be hindred from rest, and called to worke? to be withheld from his country, and wander in a wildernesse? Finally, to be kept out of a Palace, and confi­ned to a Prison? And yet, all this is true of a godly man, who when nigh to death, is called back againe to live longer in this world.

Answ. To answer this, though upon those forementioned considerations, it cannot be denyed but that death is a mercy to a Saint; yet those hinder not, but that in other respects the con­tinuance of life is a mercy, even to a godly man.Chrysost. in loc Theoph. in loc As for that [...], which the Greek Fathers speak of, as if Saint Pauls language were more according to custome than truth, and that when he calls recovery a mercy, he rather speaketh as men doe account, than as it is indeed, Chrisost. ibid. [...]. Oecu. in Loc. Phil. 1.24. Hieron. in loc. it seemes to me somewhat harsh, that to [...], the opportunity of gaining more souls to God, which this preservation afforded him, is a farre more rationall solution. Upon this account it was Saint Paul looked upon the prolongation of his owne life as needfull: So he expresseth it in the former Chapter. And here, for the same reason, he calleth the restauration of Epaphroditus to health a mercy. To this purpose Saint Hieromes note upon the Text is very apposite, Misertus est ejus ut majorem docendo colligat fructum, God had mercy on him, that he, being a Minister, might by the preaching of the Gospel, gather in more soules, and doe more good.

Obj. But you will say, this seemes not to be a full Answer: Indeed, had the Apostle said, but God had mercy on you, name­ly the Philippians, this would be very suitable; the recovery of a faithfull Minister is, no doubt, a mercy to the People; but still it remaineth a doubt, how the Apostle could say, as here he doth, God had mercy on him, to wit, Epaphroditus.

[Page 26] Repl. To which I reply, That the opportunity of this service was not onely a benefit to the Church, but a mercy to him, in as much as by this meanes.

1. He became a greater instrument of Gods glory; It is an high honour, Considerandum est non esse par­vam dignationē quum se Deus in nobis glorifi­cat. Calv. in lo. which God vouchsafeth to that man, whom he makes use of to serve and honour him; and to a pious soule no­thing is dearer than Gods glory, desiring rather to glorify God than to be glorifyed with him: this Saint Paul declares to his hope, yea, his earnest expectation, that Christ might be magnify­ed in his body whether by life or death. No wonder then, if considering how much Epaphroditus his life might conduce to Gods glory, Phil. 1.20. he reckoned it as a mercy. Besides,

Qui Christo vi­vunt, salicit [...]r in spem gloriae coelest [...]s exercen­tur. Calv. ibid. Dan. 12.2.2. He increased his owne reward; the longer a good man, especially a goood Minister liveth, the more sinners he conver­teth, and they that turne many to righteousnesse, saith Daniel, shall shine as the starres for ever and ever, nay, every soule that a faithfull Minister winnes to God, is as a new gemme added to that Crown, which shall one day be put upon his head.

Thus then the case stands; Epaphroditus indeed, by dying, had received his reward, but by living he did the more service; by dying he had obtained glory from God, but by living he brought glory to God:Act. 20.35. and our blessed Saviour saith, It is a more blessed thing to give than to receive; by dying he had en­joyed his recompence sooner, by living he made it greater, that would have accelerated, but this augmented it, so that even in respect of his owne future happinesse he was no loser but a gainer by the prolonging of his life, and therefore most justly doth Saint Paul say, God had mercy on him.

Briefly, and yet clearely to state the whole matter.

Life and death may be considered and compared foure wayes,

1. In their formall nature, and so death is a privation, life a position of good; and therefore death evil, and life good,

2. In their Causes, death is a fruit of sin, life an effect of love; our wickednesse deserved the one, Gods goodnesse conferreth the other; in which respect, death is threatned as a punishment, life promised as a reward.

3. In their naturall and proper effects, death bereaveth as [Page 27] well godly, as wicked men of the society of friends, possession of their estates, yea, all the comforts which this world affords, whereas by life we have the fruition of them continued to us, so that in this regard also, life is farre better than death, even to a good man.

4. Lastly, in their accidentall consequents, when a wicked man dyeth there followeth torment, but whilest he liveth there is hope of his repentance, yea, many times it so falls out, some come into the Vineyard at the eleaventh houre, and to such life is a choice mercy indeed: when a godly man dyeth he is carri­ed into Abrahams bosome, placed in a state of blisse; but by living longer he honoureth God, edifieth the Church, worketh out his salvation; he gaineth both the more time to prepare him­selfe for, get assurance of, yea, make an addition to his future glory, and therefore in this likewise, and so in all comparisons life hath the preheminence, and the continuance of it is justly called by the Apostle a mercy.

To close up this, life continued, health restored, are mercies;Qui [...] hoc crede­re queat, muta­mus naturam rerum iniquita­tibus nostris, &c. Salv. de Gub. l. 6. Paris. de Uni­verso prim. part pars tertia. c. 9. Petrarch dial. de valet. corp. Est perniciosa s [...]nitas qu [...] ad inobedientiam ducit. Bern. de inter­dom. oh let not us by abusing them to sinne turne them into judge­ment, who can believe it? and yet we may often see it, men change blessings into curses by their iniquities, and as Parisi­ensis excellently expresseth it, Ipsa beneficia sibi faciunt poena­lia & instrumenta contra seipsos divinae justitiae, They make be­nefits to become punishments, and the fruits of Gods mercy instru­ments of his justice. The truth is, it was not so much life as the right use, Saint Paul conceived Epaphroditus would make of his life, which moved him to call it a mercy, Multis periculo & pestilens sanitas fuit qui tutius aegrotassent: Indeed these things are good or evill to us according as we imploy them. It had been a greater mercy to many impenitent sinners that they had con­tinued sick, or dyed, then that they were recovered. Let us therefore lay out our life, our health, according to our severall places, in Gods service, so shall it prove glory to God, benefit to others, and a mercy to us: Oh my soule, thou hast received, as it were, a new life, improve it in new obedience; health is resto­red to thy body, imploy it in the service ef thy God: why should thy honey be turned into gall, thy shield into a sword, thy delicates into poyson? Oh let thy life be expended by thee, as it was intended [Page 28] by God; so shalt thou have cause to take up the Apostles language; God had mercy on me. And thus much shall suffice for the second particular, I hasten to the

3. Opportunity of the time, which is the last branch implyed in the ex [...]eptive But. And a comfortable But it is; indeed, the sicknesse, like a floud was carrying him away, God puts in a But and stops its current; Epaphroditus was falling into the pit, But▪ God reacheth forth an hand to uphold him. God doth not so preserve him that the sicknesse should not come, nay, when it is come he doth not hinder it from increasing, but when it is come to the height, then he rebuketh the disease, and saith, hitherto th [...]u shalt come and no further. All hopes of his recovery in mans eyes are perished, and lo, he is raised by the hand of God. Means either are not afforded, or however unable to help. God becommeth his Physitian, and commandeth the cure. It lets us see thus much, that

Jo. 5.7. En horam tuam domine, ades enim deus cui homo deest. Velasq. in Phil. Herodes g [...]ntis judai [...]ae invasit regnum, liberta­tem sustulit, prophanavit s [...]ncta; quicquid cultu [...] est, abole­vit, merito ergo genti sanc [...]ae quia [...]umana desunt, divina succur­rant. Chrisol. serm. 116. When all hopes are livelesse, and helps seem fruitlesse, then is the season of Gods deliverance. That childs condition is very sad, whom the father and mother forsake; but then the Psalmist finds God ready to take him up: And the causall particle in the Originall is very considerable, not onely when, but because he was as a forsaken babe, God vouchsafeth to protect and provide for him; our extremity being not onely the opportunity when, but a motive why God will deliver. It was a dolefull complaint which the poore Creeple made to Christ, [...], I have not a man to put me into the poole, but even that narration is an efficacious prayer; The absence of mans help, being the season of Christs presence and succour. Saint Paul speaking of our blessed Saviours Incarnation, saith, it was when the fulnesse of time came; if you will know when that full time was, the Evangelist answereth, it was in the dayes of Herod the King: and if with Chrysologus you looke into those dayes, you shall find them dayes of extreame misery to the Jewis [...] Na­tion, their Temple profaned, Liberty suppressed, Worship abo­lished, and the whole State full of confusion. In those dayes was the fulnesse, because indeed the fitnesse of time come for him, who was the Redeemer, to appeare ▪ and the horne of salvation to be raised up. In which respect the Messiah is called by Moses a [Page 29] fit man, or according to the Originall, a man of opportunity. Thy way oh God is in the sea, and thy paths in the great waters, Psal. 77.19. saith the Psalmist. By which expressions no doubt he chiefly in­tends (as appeares by what followeth) to note the impercepti­ble secrecie attending upon many of Gods dispensations, so that we can no more discerne the reason of them, than we can any im­pression of a ships passage in the Sea, but yet withall it is not an improbable allusion to understand Sea and great waters repre­senting doleful and perillous distresses: Gods usual course being to manifest himself not in the shallow river of a slight trouble, but the deep sea of some desperate calamity. The Disciples enter into a ship, but Christ come not, the sable mantle of the night covers them, and Christ cometh not, the winde bloweth, the storme rageth, the waves arise, and yet Christ appeareth not, but when they have rowed 25. or 30. furlongs, Ioh. 6.19. [...]. Cy. Alex. in Joh. being farre from land, and in the depth of danger, then they see Jesus walking on the Sea, and drawing nigh to the ship to succour them. To this purpose is S. Cyrills observation upon this storie, Christ doth not presently at the beginning of the storme appeare to his Disciples, but when they had rowed far from land. Christ is not alwayes at hand upon the first onset, but when through pre­vailing fear, & almost over-whelming danger, our spirits begin to fail, then he breaks forth as it were in the midst of the waves, calming the storm, expelling our feare, and preventing our ruine.

It is very observable in that hundred and seventh Psalme, when the Prophet celebrateth Gods goodnesse to severall sorts of men in their dangers, that their deliverance was not vouch­safed till their danger appeared remediless: of travellers it is said, they wandered so long in the wildernes, Psal. 107.3, 4, 5. [...]. Greg. Nyss. Tract in Ps. till by reason of hunger and thirst their soule fainted in them, and then, not till then upon their crying the Lord delivered them; The Captives are said to sit in darknesse and the shadow of death, by reason of their b [...]nds, yea, to fall downe and none to help them, and then this want of help obtaineth help, at their earnest cry God saveth them out of their distresse; when sick, men are brought so low that their soule abhorreth all manner of meat, and they draw nigh to the gates of death, then God sendeth his Word and healeth them: ver. 10, 12, 13. ver. 1 [...], 20. finally, the Seamans soule is melted because of trouble, they reele [Page 30] to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man; yea, are at their wits end, Ver. 26.27, 28, 29. not knowing what course to take, ere God begins to make the storme a calme, and so bringeth them out of their distresse. Thus God, as he can, so usually he doth help at a pinch, when Jacob wants bread at home, Joseph is heard of abroad: when the Prodigall wants abroad, he is minded of going home; and when we looke with David on the right hand, Psal 142. [...]4. and there is no man, yea, on the left hand, nay round about us, and all refuge faileth us, ‘Restat iter coelo,’ we may looke up to God, and God is ready to looke downe from heaven and help us.

And now if you shall inquire why God is pleased to cull out such a time of succour, when in extreame perill, of curing, when sick nigh to death: I answer, it is both in reference to himselfe and us.

In regard of himself,

1. Partly that it may appeare to be his worke, Those effects in the production of which, God is as it were causa socia a copartner, making use of probable meanes, too often the in­strument is more looked upon than God ▪ but those effects wherein he is causa solitaria, the sole agent (effecting them as it were by his owne hand) enforce men to acknowledge it is his doing. Velasq. in Phil. Permittit deu [...] crescere pericula ut periclitan [...]i­um merita aug­eantur: extremè autem pericli­tantibus opem f [...]rt ut suam po­t [...]ntiam demon­stret. Mend in lib. 1. Reg. cap. 2. n. 6. Psal 17.7. [...]. Sept. Mirifica misericordia [...] tu [...]. Vulg. Quando humana omnem spem negant, tune divina di­spensatio clare fulget, In the day-time, when other starres ap­peare not, we know the light which shines is onely from the Sun; so when secundary meanes succeed not to whom but God can the patient ascribe his recovery? and for this reason, ne opus coelestis dextrae assignaretur virtuti humanae, that the creature may not rob him of his glory, he chuseth that time to de­liver when the creature can afford no succour.

2. Chiefly, that in such works he may appear to be a God, in as much as his Almighty power and mercy, hereby become illu­strious: it is the prayer of David, shew thy mevailous loving kindenesse; the Septuagint and vulgar (agreeing in this with the Hebrew) render it, make thy mercyes wonderfull, and surely when our misery is most dolefull, Gods mercy is most wonder­full, and therefore, saith Saint Gregory, we most admire Gods [Page 31] benignity, when we call to minde our calamity: Tunc nol is m [...]sericordiae dei mirifica [...]tur cum nobis ad memoriam miseriae nostrae revocantur. G [...]eg hom. 18. in Ezech. N [...]h [...]l extat quod Dei pot [...]n­tiam vincat, ni­h [...]l quod omni­potenti illi nutui obsistere v [...]leat. Sophr. Arch. hom. in Bible pat. [...]. Greg. Naz. Orat 32. Isa. 52.7. Te [...]tul. contra. Mar. l. 5. c 2. Psal 4.5.3. Isa. 30.18. [...] indeed God bringeth us nigh to death, that we may know our selves how fraile and mortall we are, that he may know us, or rather make knowne to us and others our graces, and when we are nigh to death he hath mercy, that we may know him, not onely specu­latively, but experimentally, how great and mighty, how good and gracious he is: The truth is, Omnipotenti medico, nullum vul­nus insanabile, No wound is incurable to this omnipotent Phy­sitian: and that he may appeare to be so, he often deferreth the cure till humane skill and helpe faileth. In such delive­rances, the characters of Gods almighty goodnesse are plainly written so, that the blind Egyptians can read them; and therefore seeing the Israelites escape an imminent danger they acknowledge the Lord fighteth for them.

In respect of us, that the deliverance may be the more ac­ceptable to us, as well as honourable to him, To every thing, saith Solomon, there is a season, and indeed it is the season that putteth a beauty upon every thing; in this regard, that of the Prophet quam speciosi, how beautifull are the feeet of him that bringeth good tidings, is rendered by Tetullian, quam tempestivi, how opportune, that which is seasonable being ever beautifull; indeed in every opportune mercy there is a double beauty, the one in the thing conferred, the other in the time of conferring it. It is the prayer of the Church to God, Gird thy sword upon thy thigh with thy glorie and thy majesty, which latter words the vulgar latine reads cum specie tua & pulchritudine tua, that is to say, with thy beauty and thy beauty: and this is then most fully verified, when God girds his sword to defend his Church in her lowest misery, and offend his enemies in their highest insolen­cy. It is a sweet and choice expression of the Prophet, The Lord will wait that he may be gracious, which though it be chiefly intended of his forbearing judgement, yet it is no lesse true of his withholding mercy: God therefore oft times delaying, that he may appeare the more gracious in bestowing deliverance; so true is that of the Father, Deus cum differt non negat sed com­mendat dona, God in suspending intends not to deny, but onely to commend his mercy. Abrahams childe was more welcome at seaventy, than if he had been given at thirty, and the same [Page 32] Isaac had not beene so precious, [...]. Cyr. Alex. in Joh. 6.19. had he not been as miracu­lously restored as given. In fine, the language of a depopulating warre is the best rhetorick to extoll the blessing of peace, how welcome is a calme to the Marriner after a blustering storme? and health is never so amiable, as when it brings letters of com­mendation from a long and dangerous sicknesse.

To apply this, It is a meditation which should encourage us, to trust in God, even when things are at the worst, and though all other succours faile, not to let goe our hold of him: As Appelles striving to paint a drop of foam falling from a Horses mouth, after long study, despairing, let his pencill fall, and that fall did it,Erasm. fimil. Quod assequi non potuit casus expressit, effecting by chance what he could not by art, and when both nature and art can goe no further, divine providence undertaketh, nay, effecteth the worke, and therefore, as the Apostle saith of joy, I say of hope, Phil. 3 1. Flor. l 4. c. 8. hope alwayes in the Lord, indeed, magnae indolis est sperare semper, it is an argument of an heroick minde, to hope alwayes, and of a pious minde to place that hope on God; David saith of himselfe, Just [...]s s [...]mper sperat & in ad­versit positus & fre [...]ibus afflictu [...] [...]rumni [...] d [...]spera [...]c [...]o [...] [...]ovit▪ Ambr. in Ps. 118. oct. 19. [...]. &c. Chrys. in Psal. 117. I have hoped in thy word, the Septua­gint read it [...], and the vulgar Latine accordingly super-speravi, which as S. Ambrose interpreteth it, is ad sperandum sem­per crescere & spem spei adjungere, to add hope to hope, & that even then when affliction is added to affliction: Excellent to this pur­pose is that counsel of the Greeke Father, When externall means are least, let thy confidence be greatest, for then God displayeth his power most, not at the beginning, but when things are desperate, for this is the season of divine help. It is our great fault that in dismall dangers we open the eye of sense, and onely pore upon the extremity of the trouble, whereas it becometh a Saint, even then to open the eye of faith, and lo [...]ke upon the energy of Gods power.

And to carry it one step further, Let even the depth of misery be an incouragement to our confidence, in as much as that is a time of deliverance: when the night is at the darkest, we know day-break is nearest, the lownesse of the ebbe argueth the flowing in of the tide to be at hand: so may we conclude divine succour approaching from the premisses of a grievous calamity encompassing. [...]zek. 1.16. We read in the vision of the wheel, which Ezekiel [...] [Page 35] laid him by the rivers brinke with no other shelter but an arke of bulrushes: Quid mirabili­us [...]ll [...]inger [...] po [...]uit illa, quae cum dolor [...] pne­rum [...]xposucrat, nunc cum gaudio cum recipit. Fer. Com. Exod 2 8. Exod 14 21. Aquae quae time­bantur dextr [...] laevâ (que) famulis dei murus eff [...] ­ctae, non solum perniciem nesci­unt, sed & mu­nimen exhibent. Orig. hom. in Exod. Patien [...]er susti­ [...]uit abs [...]rb [...]ri Jonam à ceto non ut absorbe­retur & in totum periret, sed ut evomitus ma­gis, subigeretur Deo, & plus glorificaret deum qui i [...]sperabi­lem salutem ei d [...]ss [...]. [...]raen. adv. haer. l. 3 c▪ 22. O martyrium & sine passione per­fectum, satis p [...]ssi satis exusti sunt, quos prop­t [...]rea D [...]us texit, ne potestatem ejus [...]en [...]ri vi­d [...]rentu [...] Tertul. Scorp. cap. 8. Venit Leo & l. b [...]ravit leonem [...]b or [...] l [...]onis: Rab. in Lap. super loc. [...]. Chrys. in Act. Quod genus morbi & naturae vires attinet prorsus esset moriturus nisi singulari dei consilio servare­tur. Musc. in loc. Solo jussu salu [...]ë reddidit qui vo­luntate omnia creavit. Greg. Mag. in Evan. hom. 28. Post certamina desperata medi­corum post medi­cami [...]a sumptu­ [...]sa, post inanem & e [...]tiquissimā curam ubi ars et peritia dese [...]rat jam curantum ubi languentis omnis jam con­sumpta fucrat substamia ipsi authori reveren­dum vulnus non casu sea divini­tus occurrit, ut quod humana arte tot annis curari n [...]n potu­it, sola fide & humilitate cura retur. Chrysol. Serm. 33. Videtis quem­admodum dat locum morti, licentiam dat sepulchro, cor­ruptioni posse permi [...]tit, negat nil put edini, nil foe [...]tori: atque ut Tartarus vapiat, trah [...]t, [...]abeat, admittit, atque agit, ut hum [...]a spes tota pe eat, et tota vis mun la­nae d [...]speration [...]s accedat, quatenus qu [...]d facturus est divinum [...], non humanum. Chrysol. serm. 63. 1 Sam 20.3. June the 10. my disease was at the highest. how likely is this helplesse Babe to be starved with cold, or tumble into the river, or be devoured with a wild beast? But behold, whilest the childe is in this imminent dan­ger, and the parents in perplexing feare, providence so or­dereth it, that Pharaoh's daughter becometh as a mother to the child, and the childes mother is appointed to be his nurse, where­by his life is preserved.

How nigh in all probability was the Israelites destruction, when before them a Sea, through which there could be no wa­ding, on either side mountaines, over which there was no climbing, behinde them a mighty hoste, with whom there is no contesting, and yet from whom no meanes left of escaping. But loe, in this depth of misery God hath mercy on them, even to a miracle; the sea divideth, and at once becometh the Israelites passage, and Egyptians grave.

How small did the distance seeme betweene Jonah and death, when the mercifull marriners were enforced for saving their owne lives to cast him into the mercilesse Sea, and yet there he sinketh not, a divine hand as it were holding him by the chinne, when in the Sea swallowed by a greedy Whale, and there hee dyeth not; God would not deliver him from the tempest, he will from the Whale; that which was most likely to consume him becometh the means to preserve him, within three dayes the Whale delivereth him safe, whole, and alive upon dry ground.

Who ever thought to have seene those three worthies alive after they fell downe bound into the midst of a fiery burning fur­nace? But behold a martyrdome effected without dying, whilest a fourth like the Sonne of God appeareth, at whose command the fire forgetteth to burne, or so much as scorch.

Who did not expect but that Daniel being cast into a denne of ravenous Lions, should be devoured before the next morning, nay, the next houre? But see, the Lyons mouthes are stopped by an Angel, and since they cannot feed Daniel, are forced to keep a fast with him.

Were not Paul and his company in great jeopardy of death, when the thick clouds had for many dayes obscured the light of [Page 36] Sun and Starres from them, the violent stormes exceedingly tossed the Ship, enforced them to cast out the goods, yea, every moment they expect themselves to be made a prey to the roring waves, all hope that they should be saved being taken away? but behold, that night an Angell of God standeth by Paul, and from God assures him of his and their preservation.

To come yet nearer to the instance of the Text:

It was no slight sicknesse afflicted David, when he said, My heart panteth, my strength faileth me, as for the light of mine eyes it is gone from me; the disease (it seemeth) had seized upon all his spirits, his animals in the dimnesse of his eyes, his natu­rall in the failing of his strength, his vitall in the panting of his heart; and surely then it must needes bring him very nigh to death; yea, it seemeth David feared it, which made him so ear­nestly pray against it in another Psalm: But when death is near, God is neare too, hearing his prayer, and preserving his life.

It is said of Hezekiah, that he was sick unto death, the disease was such that he reckoned his bones should be broken, and an end made of him, yea, he received a sentence of death from God by the Prophet, Set thine house in order, for thou shalt dye and not live: But that threat was onely like Abrahams precept, not a declaration of what God intended to doe, but onely a probation to try what Hezekiah would doe; and therefore notwithstan­ding the disease was deadly, God becometh his Physitian, pre­scribeth a plaister of figgs, and Hezekiah is healed.

The Centurions Sonne is visited with a Feaver; that Fea­ver bringeth him to the very point of death, when as at the Centurions intreaty, Christ with a word commands his reco­very.

That womans condition was desperate, when she was at once brought low in estate and body: her goods are gone, her disease continueth, the Physitians have emptied her purse, but cannot stay her flux, nor is there any likelyhood but that this sickness will at length bring her to her grave. But her deplorable state is a fit occasion for Christ to magnifie his mercy, whilest by a believing touch of his garment he maketh her perfectly whole.

Finally, Martha sends Christ word [...]hat Lazarus is sick; Christ delayeth to come, onely lets her know this sicknesse should [Page 37] be for Gods glory: being sick he dyeth, dying is buried, and ha­ving been some dayes buried he rotteth, nay stinketh in the grave; and now is the time come for Christ by his powerfull voice to raise him from the sleep of death, and bed of the grave.

Loe here, more than a Jury of textuall witnesses, to which many more might be added (besides this in the Text) all asser­ting this truth, and thereby assuring our faith of Gods delive­rance in the worst extremity. To all which give me leave to adde one more, even my owne late experience of Gods marvailous kindenesse vouchsafed to me.

It is not many weekes agoe since it pleased the wise God to vi­sit me with a sore and violent Feaver; that Feaver so exhausted my spirits, and enervated my body, that I might well take up Davids expression, There was but a step betweene me and death: Much about that time when the dayes of the yeare are at the longest, the dayes of my life seemed to be at the shortest. Thus was the first part of this Text verified, I was sick nigh to death, indeed so nigh, that I was as a dead man in the opinion of the learned, yea, actually dead and buried in the report of the vul­gar, and truly I had ere this beene not onely foure dayes with Lazarus, but more than four weeks putrifying in the grave, had not divine goodnesse prevented: But God had mercy on me, and so the other part of my Text is likewise fulfilled: when the sicknesse had almost weighed me downe into the pit, God was pleased to put a graine of mercy and turne the scale, so that I am here (beloved) this day, before God, Angels, and men, as a bird escaped out of a strong snare, as a prey plucked out of the jawes of a devouring Lion, as a brand snatched out of the fire of a burning feaver.

What therefore remaineth, but that as in the beginning, so now in the close of this discourse I take up a gratulation, Bless the Lord oh my soul, and let all that is within me praise his holy name;Psal., 6. when I forget to mention this deliverance, let my right hand for­get its cunning; when I cease (as opportunity offereth it selfe) to publish this mercy, let my tongue cleave to the roofe of my mouth; nor yet would I be [...]one, in this work of praise; do you (all you here present) joyne with me. I doubt not but many, the most, [Page 38] nay all of you in some kinde, at some time or other, have had experience of eminent deliverances: oh call them now to mind, & let your gratefull remembrance come up as a memoriall before the Lord: I doubt not but many of you, yea, very many, did put up prayers, fervent prayers at the throne of grace for this mercy (which I now celebrate) my recovery. Indeed brethren, I look upon my health, as S. Paul on his preservation, as a gift bestowed on me by the meanes (to wit,2 Cor. 1.11. for the sakes and prayers) of many; and surely as prayers have been made, so fit it is thanks­giving should be returned by many on my behalfe, it were a shame to be zealous in begging and cold in blessing; to cry aloud give us our dayly bread, and onely whisper hallowed be thy name. Blessed therefore be the Lord God of his unworthy servant, who alone doth wondrous things;Psal. 72.18, 19. yea, blessed be his glorious name for ever, and let all that have beene petitioners for me say with me at least in their hearts, Amen, Amen.

And now my Dearly beloved Parishioners, and freinds in the Lord, what is my desire, but that you may have cause in allusion to the following words of this verse, to say, God had mercy, no [...] on him onely, but us also; that my preservation may be for your edification, as well for my consolation: that you, who have alrea­dy found benefit by my weak Ministery, may be more strength­ned; and those, who have heretofore been unprofitable, may now be bettered. Which that it may be so, it shall be my endea­vour ▪ let it be your prayer for me, that I may doe this worke of Christ more diligently and faithfully than ever; it shall be my prayer for you, let it be your endeavour to heare the Word of Christ more attentively and obediently for the time to come. So shall you have cause to blesse God for me, and I to blesse God for you. Yea at that last and great day you shall have joy in me, if my preaching become a means of your conversion and salvation; and I shall have joy in you, whose conversion and salvation shall prove an increase of my reward, and an addition to my glorie. Which God grant, &c.


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