AN EXPOSITION WITH Practical Observations CONTINUED Upon the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Chapters of the PROPHESY OF HOSEA. Being first delivered in several LE­CTURES at Michaels Cornhil London. By Jeremiah Burroughs. Being the Fifth BOOK, published by

  • Thomas Goodwyn,
  • William Greenhil,
  • Sydrach Simson
  • William Bridge,
  • John Yates,
  • William Adderly.

LONDON, Printed for Peter Cole, at the sign of the Printing-Press in Cornhil, near the Royal Exchange, 1650.

To the READER.

Reader,

WEE here present thee with a continuation of Expositions and Observations upon other Four Chapters of the Prophet Hosea, deli­vered by that Worthy Man, now with God. Himself in his life-time published the Three first Chapters; These now made publick, were compiled out of the Manuscripts which Himself under His own Hand left, which being short, have been filled up and en­larged out of the best Copies of Sermon Notes taken from His own mouth. We must not undertake for all imperfections or mistakes that haply may be found, though a diligent and a skilful hand had the coll [...]cting of them. We only give Letters of Credence to them, that they are genuinely the Authors, and that they are singularly worthy of all acceptation, especially by such Readers as have their thoughts exercised in observing the waies of Gods proceedings in and towards the Nations of the world where His Name is called. One great piece of His Dis­pensations under the Old Testament, was that towards the Ten Tribes, who remain in captivity to this day,2 Cor. 10 and who were set up (as their Predecessors in the wilderness) as Types [...]f Gods dealing in like cases with us under the New Testament; as we may see in the instance of the Eastern and Gracian Churches that have groaned under the Mahumetan Tyrannies and Op­pressions,Rev. 7. of whom the Ten Tribes may seem to be the livelyest pattern, as the condition of the Saints in the Western European Churches under the Pope was exemplified in the captivity of Babylon which befel the other two Tribes. Yet so, as both in [Page] sins and punishment the one and the other are general exam­ples unto us upon whom the ends of the world are come, in which God acts over with a quick and swift motion, as being the last act, what was done more slowly under the Old. The worthy Author was one of the most accurate spectators in his time, that with a curious and searching eye beheld what God was a doing in the World. He was as one of those Wise men that knew the times, (as 'tis said of Ahasuerus his sev [...]n Counsellors, Esth. 1.13.) and skilled therein, not as they in an humane or political way, but as the transactions in the world do relate unto Gad, who governs this world by the rules and presidents in His Word. He was one of those who as the Psalmist speaks,Psa. 111. had pleasure to seek out the great works of the Lord, and to paralel those in these times with those of old under the Old Testament; and unto that end, in the entrance to these alterations in our times, he pitcht upon the explycation of this Prophesie, which the studious Reader will with much delight reade over when he shall observe how He made application all along to the Dispensations of that time in which He preached them. The Lord bless them to them of this Nation, for which they were principally intended.

  • Thomas Goodwin,
  • Sydrach Simpson,
  • William Greenhil,
  • William Bridge,
  • John Yates,
  • William Adderly.

The Titles of those five Books of Mr. Jeremiah Burroughs lately published; VIZ.

  • An Exposition of the 4, 5, 6, & 7. Chapters of HOSEA.
  • A Treatise of EARTHLY MINDEDNES, &c.
  • GOSPEL-CONVERSATION.
  • GOSPEL-WORSHIP, &c.
  • The rare Jewel of Christian CONTENTMENT.

All Printed for Peter Cole, 1650.

THE CONTENTS.

HOSEA, CHAP. IV.

VERS. I.
  • Observation, 1. THE consideration that it is the word of the Lord, is a spe­cial means to prepare the heart to receive it. Page 1
  • Obs. 2. The nearness of a people to God exempts them not from Gods contending with them. Page 2
  • Obs. 3. The neerer the relation is, the more grievous is the con­troversie. Ibid
  • Obs. 4. Sin causeth a deadly controversie between God and the soul. Page 4
    • 1. God is above the sinner. ibid
    • 2. The controversie is just. Page 5
    • 3. We first began it. ibid
    • 4. It is an old controversie. ibid.
    • 5. It stirreth up all the wrath of God. ibid.
    • 6. It is a deadly controversie. ibid
    • 7. A controversie with God. ibid
    • 8. Only Jesus Christ is able to make it up. Page 6
    • 9. It is against infinit advantage. ibid
    • 10. It is likely to prove everlasting. ibid
  • [Page]Obs. 5. Men should be willing the cause between them and their in­feriors should be pleaded. Page 19
  • Obs. 6. Gods mercies are fruits of his faithfulness. Page 20
  • Obs. 7 God contendeth not with a people without cause. Page 21
  • Obs. 8. God contendeth not against a people for little things. Page 22
  • Obs. 9. It is vain for any man to talk of Religion, and make no conscience of the second table. Page 23
  • Obs. 10. Gods controversie with Covenant-breakers is very dread­full. Page 26
  • Obs. 11. The merciful God sets Himself against merciless men. Page 29
  • Obs. 12. Ʋnteaching Priests and Mans Inventions keep out the knowledge of God from a people. Page 38
VERS. II.
  • Opened. Page 40
  • Obs. 1. The abuse of an Oath is a dreadful sin. ibid
  • Obs. 2. There is no man that makes not conscience of an Oath, that can make any of a Lye. Page 44
  • Obs. 3. When sin is not mortified, though it be restrained for a while it will break out. Page 59
  • Obs. 4. Breaking out is a great aggravation of sin. Page 60
VERS. III.
  • Explained. Page 62
  • Obs. 1. All the glory and pomp of the men of the world is but as a flo­wer. Page 64
  • Obs. 2 Times of affliction take away the jollity of mens spirits ibid
  • Obs. 3 When the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air are de­stroyed, mans comforts are soon gone. Page 65
  • Obs. 4. The good or evil of the creature depends on man. Page 67
  • Obs. 5 When God is in a way of wrath he causeth it to reach to those things which seem most remote from him. Page 68
  • Obs. 6 No creature can help man in time of Gods wrath. ibid
VERS. IV.
  • Obs. 1. Sin cannot be gotten from men without striving. Page 69
  • [Page]Obs. 2 Private men so long as they have hope should strive with their brethren by way of admonition. ib.
  • Obs. 3 It is a great aggravation of sin and forerunner of destructi­on to despise the admonitions of others ib.
  • Obs. 4. Sin doth encrease in places where it is let alone. Page 71
  • Obs. 5. There is a time when men may and should leave their repro­ving of others. ib.
  • Opened Page 72
  • Obs. 6. It is the duty of the Priest to contend against men for their sins. Page 75
  • Obs. 7. When Ministers do contend against the people, they must look to be striven withal by the people. Page 76
  • Obs. 8. To strive against those that come in Gods Name to reprove is a great aggravation of sin, and hastning of judgment. Page 81
  • Obs. 9. If publick means prevail not there is little hope of private. Page 84.
VERS. V.
  • Obs. 1. Those in office must go on though they be striven against. Page 85
  • Obs. 2. When a threatning comes to particulars then it works. ib.
  • Obs. 3 The falls of the Prophets are falls in the night. Page 87
  • Obs: 4. It is a sad judgment for people in affliction to have no Pro­phet amongst them. ibid
VERS. VI.
  • Obs. 1. Ignorance is both father and mother of distruction. Page 90
    • 1. The rational creature is working in the midst of snares ib.
    • 2. The way to eternity is in the midst of a hundred cross waies Page 91
    • 3. Man must not go with his own light. ib.
    • 4. Our work is a most curious work. ib.
    • 5. Ignorance makes men objects of Gods hatred. ib.
  • Use 1. How vile a thing it is to deny the means of knowledg to men to satisfie the humors of others. Page 92
  • Use 2. Hopes for England because the knowledge of God begins to shine in it. ib.
  • Obs. 2. Suffering truths will hardly go down with many Ministers. Page 94
  • [Page]Obs. 3. There is a peculiar way of Gods rejecting wicked Mini­sters. Page 95
  • Obs. 4. Ʋnfaithfulness in service provokes God to cast men out of ser­vice. Page 96
  • Obs. 5. It is a great judgment to be rejected from the Priests office. ibid
  • Obs. 6. It is a blessing for godly children of godly Ministers to suc­ceed them in their office. Page 97
  • Obs. 7. The families of wicked Ministers are many times forgotten. ibid
VERS. VII.
  • Obs. 1. It is a usual thing where there is encrease of number to be encrease in sin. Page 98
  • Obs. 2. It is mens vile disposition to encrease in sin as they encrease in mercies. Page 99
  • Obs. 3. God doth love to stain the pride and haughtiness of man Page 100
  • Obs. 4. It is usual with wicked Priests if they be countenanced by authority, to glory. Page 102
VERS. VIII.
  • Opened. Page 104
VERS. IX.
  • Obs. 1. Evil Ministers in a country are the causes of miseries in the country. Page 112
  • Obs. 2. If Priest and People be alike in sin God will make them alike in punishment. ibid
  • Obs. 3. Look how Ministers are, so usually the people are. Page 114
  • Obs. 4. God hath his daies of visitation wherein he will narrowly enquire into the waies of men. Page 119
  • Obs. 6. God will call men to an accompt for their thoughts. Page 120
  • Obs. 7. Wickedness in thought is the worst wickedness. ibid
  • Obs. 8. Sin passeth away in the act with much sweetness, but God will make it return in the guilt with much bitterness. Page 120
  • Obs. 9. The good works of the Saints shall return again with much comfort and peace. Page 121
VERS. X.
  • Obs. 1. Whatsoever a man undertakes unlawfully, he can never ex­pect to prosper. Page 124
  • Use, It is the best way to keep us to Gods Ordinances.
  • Obs. 2. Idolaters seldom come in and return. Page 125
  • Obs. 3. Take heed of your not taking heed. Page 126
  • Obs. 4. The way to keep the heart and life in order and obedience is to take heed to the Lord. ibid
  • Obs. 5. All things in Gods worship should be according to Gods rule Page 127
  • Use, Take heed of Idolatry. ibid
VERS. XI.
  • Opened Page 128
  • Obs. 1 It is just with God that those that will not seek to satisfie themselves in him should be given over to the sinful lusts of the flesh Page 129
  • Obs. 2. Sensuallity is a besotting sin. ibid
  • Obs. 3. Ministers when once they grow negligent usually grow sen­sual. Page 132
VERS. XII.
  • Obs. 1. Bodily and spiritual whoredom usually go together Page 133
  • Use, We are not to marvail that such as seem to be men of understan­ding are given to Idolatry. ibid
  • Obs. 2. What poor waies Idolaters had to know the minds of their gods. Page 135
  • Use, Let us bless God that we have his word. ibid
  • Obs. 3. There is an eagerness of spirit in men to things that are evil. ibid
  • Use 1. Look to your spirits when you find an eagerness in them to a thing. Page 136
  • Use 2. Labor to be acted by the Spirit of God. Page 137
  • Use 3. Pray to God that he would satisfie us not only in body and in soul but in spirit. ibid
  • [Page]Obs. 4. All false worship doth put a man from the protection of God. Page 138
  • Obs. 5. So far as we are from being under Gods command, so far we are from being under his protection. Page 129
VERS. XIII.
  • Obs. 1. General accusations without particular specification, will not prevail with stubborn hearts. Page 140
  • Use. Godly Ministers must not leave things in general if they would convince. ibid
  • Obs. 2. What seems most specious in our eyes if it be not according to the rule may be most abominable in the eyes of God. Page 141
  • Obs. 3. Ministers ought to present to the people the foulness of those things that they think have least evil in them. ib.
  • Obs. 4. When God chuseth a place, he puts a stamp of holiness upon the place. Page 143
  • Obs. 5. Idolatry is brazen faced and loves to be publick. Page 148
  • Use, Labor to make the worship of God as publick ibid
  • Obs. 6. When the Ordinances of the Gospel come to be publick, then it is time for Babylon to fall. ibid
  • Obs. 7. Idolaters seek to rise to the height of their way in false worship. ibid
  • Use, Let us labor to do so in Gods worship. ibid
  • Why they sacrificed under trees?
    • 1. Because the Heathens dedicated the trees to their gods. Page 149
    • 2. In imitation of the Patriarchs. ibid
    • 3. The shadiness of the place struck some reverence in the hearts of men. ibid
    • 4. They thought the spirits of their Worthies were there. Page 150
    • 5. They were fit places for the committing of filthiness. ibid
    • 6. They conceited God was the more honored by it. ibid
  • Obs. 8. Superstition thinks it hath a great deal of reason for what it doth. Page 151
  • Obs. 9. It is the pride of mens spirits to think Gods Ordinances are too plain ibid
  • Obs. 10. God sometimes punisheth sin with sin. Page 152
  • [Page]Obs. 11. It is a great reproach for any family to have uncleanness committed in it. Page 154
  • Use, Let Governors have a care of their families. ibid
  • Obs 12. Our unfaithfulness with God is made more sensible, when those that dwell neer us are unfaithful to us. ibid
  • Instances.
    • 1. When our children are stubborn. Page 155
    • 2. Ill wives. ibid
    • 3. Friends unfaithful. Page 156
VERS. XIV.
  • Opened. Page 157
  • Obs. 1. It is one of the most fearful judgments in all the world for the Lord not to restrain men from sinning. Page 158
  • Obs. 2. When parents are filthy and unclean what can be expected but their children should be so too. Page 161
  • Use, Take heed how you sin before your children. ibid
  • Obs. 3. Those that are filthy and unclean, will sometimes make shew of Religion. Page 162
  • Obs. 4. Idolaters are no understanding people. Page 165
  • Applyed to our times. Page 167
  • Obs. 5. It is a fearful judgement of God to leave men to perplexed councels. Page 170
  • Obs. 6. When wicked men are fallen they shal be so perplexed that they shall not know what to do. Page 170
VERS. XV.
  • Obs. 1. Ministers should especially look to those whom they are bound unto by office, yet so as to labor to do good to others. Page 171
  • Obs. 2. When we see our labor lost to some, we should try to do good to others. ibid
  • Obs. 3. To be neer Idolaters is very dangerous. Page 172
  • Obs. 4. The neerer a false worship comes to a true one, the more dan­gerous it is. Page 174
  • Obs. 5. Those that enjoy Gods Ordinances in a true way should take heed of doing as other people do. Page 175
  • [Page]Obs. 6. We must not do as others do in point of Gods worship. Page 177
  • Obs. 7 It goes neerer the heart of God when his People offend, than when others do. Page 178
    • Reas. 1. There is more unkindness in their sins Page 179
    • 2 There is more unfaithfulness in them. ibid
    • 3 Gods Name is more polluted by them. ibid
    • 4. The excellency of their graces makes their sins worse. ibid
    • 5. They go neerer the heart of the Saints than the sins of others. Page 180
  • Application to our times. ibid
  • Obs. 8. We must not come neer places that are dangerous to draw us to sin. Page 186
  • Obs. 9. Places corrupted lose their honor. Page 188
VERS. XVI.
  • Opened. Page 192
  • Obs. 1. Liberty may prove to be ones misery. Page 195
VERS. XVII.
  • Opened Page 196
  • Obs. 1. Wicked children are great dishonors to their parents. Page 197
  • Obs. 2. Governors are usually the causes of the evils of the people. Page 198
  • Obs. 3. Idolaters hearts are strangely glued to the waies of Idolatry Page 200
  • Use, Joyn your selves to Jesus Christ Page 201
  • Obs. 4 We must take heed of communicating with Idolaters in their false waies Page 202
  • Obs. 5. It is a heavy judgment upon a people when the Saints with­draw from them ibid
  • Obs. 6 God hath a time to give men over to themselves. Page 205
    • 1 Because he hath no need of them. Page 206
    • 2 He hath another way to fetch glory from them ibid
  • Obs. 7 It is the most woful judgment upon a people or person when God lets them alone in sin ibid
    • 1 It is a testimony of disrespect in God Page 207
    • [Page]2 These are going apace into misery ibid
    • 3 They are in the midst of abundance of dangers Page 208
    • 4 God intends to make way for some fearful wrath to come upon them ibid
    • 5 He will not vouchsafe to hear them speak to him ibid
    • 6 It is a dreadful sign of Reprobation Page 209
    • 7 It is greater than all earthly judgments Page 210
    • 8 It is worse than to be given up to the Devil Page 211
    • 9 It is worse than to be sent to Hell presently Page 212
    • 10 Though he be without grace he must answer for it as though he had it Page 212
    • 11 All means of grace are made improfitable to him. Page 213
  • Use 1 See what poor creatures men are ibid
  • Use 2 Let us fear and tremble at this judgment ibid
  • Object I fear God hath laid this judgment upon me.
  • Answer 1 It is a good sign that thou art troubled with such a fear Page 214
  • Answer 2 It is a good means to keep thee from being let alone ibid
  • Answer 3 If thou hast not a heart to let God alone, God hath not a heart to let thee alone ibid
  • Use 3 Blesse God that he hath not inflicted this judgment upon thee Page 215
  • 2 Blesse God that he hath not inflicted it upon the Kingdom ib.
VERS. XVIII.
  • Opened Page 217
  • Obs. 1 Rulers should be shields to the people where they live. Page 219
  • Application to our times Page 220
VERS. XIX.
  • Obs. 1 Such as are superstitious look upon Gods Ordinances as vile and their own inventions as glorious Page 325
  • Obs. 2 The judgments of God upon wicked men who have been spa­red a long time, come violently ibid
  • Causes of shame
    • [Page]1 Disrespect from those we desire honor from Page 326
    • 2 When a man takes a great deal of pains and it comes to nothing Page 327
    • 3 Disappointment of hope ibid
    • 4 When God discovers that to be vile which a man glorieth in. ib.
  • Use, Admonition to the superstitious to take shame to themselves Page 328
  • Obs. 3 God hath a time to make all Idolaters ashamed of their sacri­fices Page 332
  • Obs. 4 Duties performed with a carnal heart are mixed with base ends ibid
  • Obs. 5 Our sacrifices are defiled by the foulnesse of our hearts. ibid
  • Question What are those sacrifices we should render to God and not be ashamed of?
  • Answer 1 Be sure they be his own Page 333
  • Answer 2 Let them come from faith Page 334
  • Answer 3 Let your ends be high ibid
  • Answer 4 Let your whol strength be taken up in them ibid
  • Answer 5 Offer up your selves a sacrifice to God ibid
  • Answer 6 Be humbled after all your best services Page 335
  • Answer 7 Tender up all in Christ Page 336

CHAP. V.

VERS. I.
  • Opened Page 337
  • Obs. 1 When God comes in judgment he expects we should seriously mind what he is doing Page 338
  • Obs. 2 Generallity in sins is no way to escape judgment ibid
  • Obs. 3. The Priests have usually been the causes of wickednesse in and judgments on a nation Page 339
  • Obs. 4 The people will go the way the King and Priests go ibid
  • [Page]Obs. 5 Kings and Princes must have sin charged upon them as well as others Page 342
  • Obs. 6 Though they are to be reproved for sin, some due respect ought to be given them Page 344
  • Obs. 7 When God pleadeth against us let not neglect ibid
VERS. II.
  • Obs. 1 It is a dangerous thing to venture upon the beginnings of false worship Page 354
  • Obs. 2 It is a dangerous thing to be deeply rooted in superstitious waies Page 355
  • Use This should teach us to deny our selves Page 357
  • Obs. 3 The hearts of Apostates are most deeply rooted in wickednesse ibid
  • Application to our times Page 358
  • Obs. 4 Idolaters are profound and deep ibid
  • Obs. 5 Idolaters are deep in pollicy ibid
  • Use Let us labor to be wise in the worship of God ibid
  • Obs. 6 The Ministers of God must rebuke sin Page 361
  • Obs. 7 When Ministers rebuke in the way of God, then God doth rebuke Page 362
  • Obs. 8 Idolaters hearts are stubborn ibid
  • Use Let not us be troubled at the stoutnesse of Idolaters Page 363
  • Obs 9 It is a greater evil to stand out against Gods displeasure than against his commands ibid
  • Use Let us charge this sin upon our spirits Page 364
  • Obs. 10 Prophets rebukes must be impartial rebukes Page 365
  • Obs. 11 It is a hard thing for a few men to stand out against a State in matters of Religion ibid
VERS. III.
  • Opened Page 366
  • Obs. 1 Gods eye is upon the secrets of mens hearts Page 367
  • Use 1 Then all Hypocrites must needs be Atheists ibid
  • Use 2 Admire at the patience of God Page 368
  • Use 3 Pray to God to make known your own hearts to your selves. ib.
  • [Page]Obs. 2 Gods eye upon our hearts and waies is a special means to humble us. Page 369
  • Obs. 3 God will deal with men according to their present waies Page 370
  • Use. Here's hope for repenting sinners
  • Obs. 4. Defiled worship exceedingly defiles the souls of people. Page 372
  • Objection Doth the mixture of the wicked defile the worship of God?
  • Answer 1 The best Church in the world may have wicked men in it Page 272
  • Answer 2 The Sacrament is not defiled to the receivers for the presence of wic­ked men ibid
  • Question How shall we distinguish mixture of Communion?
  • Answer 1 The Congregation is defiled if they do not use the power Christ hath given them Page 373
  • Answer 2 Particular persons are defiled when they neglect the duty belongs to them Page 374
  • Obs. 5. A defiled Nation is neer unto ruin ibid
VERS. IV.
  • Opened Page 376
  • Applyed to England Page 379
  • Obs. 1. Apostates have seldom any inclination to turn to God. Page 384
  • Obs. 2. True repentance is not only to leave evil and do good, but to turn unto God as our God Page 385
  • Obs. 3. It is Gods just judgment to leave men to the Devil to be blin­ded when they forsake him and his truth Page 386
  • Obs. 4. Impetuousness of spirit blinds the mind Page 388
  • Use, When we come to examin truths let us look to our spirits. Page 389
VERS. V.
  • Obs. 1. Ignorance and pride usually goes together Page 390
  • Obs. 2. Idolaters are proud men Page 391
    • 1 They look upon Gods worship as a mean thing ibid
    • [Page]2 They put more upon the creature than God hath Page 392
    • 3 They prescribe to God which way he shall be worshiped ibid
    • 4 They honor their own waies because they are their own ibid
  • Obs. 3. The spirit of sin is casting down Page 397
  • Obs. 4. Pride goes before a fall ibid
    • 1 A proud man goes from God ibid
    • 2 He goes against God ibid
    • 3 He goes beyond God Page 398
    • 4 He goes above God ibid
  • Obs. 5. It is a great aggravation for any one to think what misery he brings others into Page 399
  • Obs. 6. It is no plea for any to say they follow the example of others Page 400
  • Obs. 7. If Gods people comply with wicked men they must expect to fall with them in outward judgments ibid
  • Use, Why so many fall in these times
  • Obs. 8. The falling of the Saints with wickedmen is of special con­sideration Page 401
    • 1 God would have us take notice how holy he is ibid
    • 2 He would have none presume on former services Page 402
    • 3 God is not engaged to any if they transgress ibid
  • Use 1 God can be without men Page 403
  • Use 2 Admonition to wicked men ibid
VERS. VI.
  • Obs. 1. Those that depend upon duties are in a destraction when their duties prevail not Page 403
  • Obs. 2. God contemneth the services of Hypocrites, superstitious and Idolatrous persons Page 404
  • Obs. 3. It is a sad thing when God will not own as his what we tender up to him ibid
  • Obs. 4. Idolatrous and superstitious people are abundant in their services Page 406
  • Obs. 5. Idolatrus and superstitious people will spare no cost in their own waies Page 407
  • Obs. 6. There is a time when vile and wicked men shall see a need [Page] of God. ibid
  • Obs. 7. The vilest Idolaters that can be pretend to seek God as well as any. Page 408
  • Use, Take heed of such pretenders. Page 409
  • Obs. 8. Superstitious and Idolatrous men are most aboundant in their services, in the time of affliction. Page 409
  • Obs. 9. Carnal professors think to make God amends for former fai­lings by outward performances. Page 410
  • Obs. 10. If God be to be found any where, he is to be found in his Ordinances. ib.
  • Obs. 11. The end of all holy duties should be to find God in them. Page 411
  • Obs. 12. God will not alwaies be found when he is sought. ib.
    • 1. When men seek him in a superstitious way ibid
    • 2. When we seek our selves rather than God ib.
    • 3. When we do not seek God as a God ibid
    • 4. When we seek him too late. Page 412
  • Obs. 13 God delights not in superstitious and formal professors. ib.
  • Obs. 14. It is a sad thing when God withdraws from the creature when he seeks him in distress Page 413
    • 1. God puts a dishonor upon him. ibid
    • 2. No creature can help us. Page 414
    • 3. Some great judgment must be expected. ib.
    • 4. No protection can be expected. ib.
    • 5. Conscience flies in ones face. ib.
    • 6. It is a fore-runner of his eternal withdrawing. ib.
  • Question. Doth not God withdraw Himself from his Saints?
  • Answer. 1. They retain good thoughts of him in his absence. Page 415
  • Answer. 2. He draweth their hearts after him to cry more earnestly ib.
  • Answer. 3. He leaveth some light behind him that they may see which way he is gone Page 416
  • Answer. 4. His bowels yern towards them ibid
  • Answer. 5. Nothing will satisfie them till God come again. ibid
  • Answer. 6. He doth not utterly forsake them ibid
VERS. VII.
  • Opened. Page 417
  • Obs. 1. When wicked men come to seek God, God looks upon the wickedness of their hearts. Page 419
  • Obs. 2 The sins of such as are in covenant with God are sins of treachery Page 420
    • Applyed to our times ib.
  • Obs. 3 Parents have the charge of their children committed to them by God Page 424
  • Obs. 4. Children are usually as their parents are, and education is Page 426
  • Use. 1 To such as are well educated ibid
  • 2 To such as are ill educated ibid
  • Obs. 5. It is a dangerous thing for children to follow the example of their parents in wickedness Page 427
  • Use, Children ought to examin their parents waies ibid
  • Obs. 6 When the succeeding generation is wicked, there is little hope of such a people Page 428
  • Obs. 7 God takes it exceeding ill at mens hands when they corrupt their young ones Page 429
  • Obs. 8 God hath a set time to reckon with sinners Page 433
  • Obs. 9. This set time is the time of their destruction ibid
  • Obs. 10. The more special the providence of God is in mercy, the more severe are his judgments if provoked. Page 434
  • Obs. 11 A carnal man hath his portion in this world only ibid
VERS. VIII.
  • Obs. 1. When a people is in danger of Gods wrath it is high time for them to awake Page 436
  • Obs. 2. When danger is apprehended as present and real, it takes the heart wast Page 438
  • Obs. 3. Ministers of God must make the things they preach as real before the peoples eyes Page 439
  • Obs. 4. Ministers if their ambassage of peace be slighted must de­nounce war Page 441
  • [Page]Obs. 5. Gods displeasure of sin is the cause of war in a land ibid
  • Obs. 6. Superstitious places are in greatest distress in the time of Gods judgments Page 443
  • Obs. 7. In time of trouble superstitious people are in greatest perple­xity. ibid
  • Obs. 8 It is an ill thing to have ill neighbors. Page 444
  • Obs. 9. When the wrath of God is against our neighbors we had need look to it Page 445
  • Question What shall we do in such times?
  • Answer 1 Humble your selves before God Page 446
  • Answer 2 Rise up as one man and help your brethren Page 447
  • Answer 3 Meet your own danger before it cometh ibid
VERS. IX.
  • Obs. 1. The day of Gods peoples affliction is the day of their rebuke Page 448
  • Obs. 2. God hath his set times for rebuke Page 449
  • Obs. 3. When wicked men stand out lesser judgments they have cause to fear greater ibid
  • Obs. 4 It is a dreadful time when God so rebukes a people that he destroies them ibid
    • 1 All the wrath that was treasured up breaks out upon them. Page 450
    • 2 All their sins comes together into Gods remembrance ibid
    • 3 The cries of justice prevail against such men ibid
    • 4 Mercy leaves such a people ibid
    • 5 The Lord intends hurt to them ibid
    • 6 All the creatures dare not own them ibid
    • 7 All their services are rejected Page 451
  • Obs. 5. God smites not a people with judgment before he warns them Page 452
  • Obs. 6 When God threatens he is real in his threatnings Page 453
  • Obs. 7 The revealing of sin before judgment aggravates both sin and judgment Page 454
    • 1 The goodness of God is not honored ibid
    • [Page]2 The truth of God is not honored ibid
    • 3 It aggravates the sin ibid
  • Obs. 8. There is a time when there shall be no help to deliver from judgment Page 455
VERS. X.
  • Obs. 1 We had need pray much for Princes Page 461
  • Obs. 2. The bounds of Religion and Law keep in obedience and keep out judgments ibid
  • Obs. 3. God punisheth according to mens sins Page 462
VERS. XI.
  • Obs. 1. It is a great judgment for a people to be under oppression. Page 466
  • Obs. 2. Idolaters are great oppressors Page 467
  • Obs. 3. God hath a righteous hand in delivering men into the hands of unrighteous oppressors Page 468
  • Obs. 4 A special cause of oppression is peoples following of false wor­ship Page 469
  • Obs. 5. Our giving to much to men God oftentimes punisheth by ma­king them the greatest instruments of our misery ibid
  • Obs. 6. It is Satans course to get false worship backed with authori­ty ibid
  • Obs. 7. Mans authority is not a sufficient warrant for us 470
  • Obs. 8. The more willing men are to sin the greater is the sin. Page 472
  • Obs. 9. Willing obedience in evil things brings guilt upon a people. Page 473
  • Obs. 10. Commands for false worship easily prevail ibid
  • Obs. 11 It is the duty of Christians willingly to obey God Page 474
  • Obs. 12. Bad Princes give liberty to mens lusts ibid
  • Obs. 13. Idolatry is filthy stuff ibid
VERS. XII.
  • Opened Page 475
  • Obs. 1. God may be in a way of wrath against a people and yet mean while be very patient Page 480
  • [Page]Obs. 2. God many times letteth out his wrath against a people in little things Page 481
  • Obs. 3. When God letteth out his wrath in smal things it is con­temptible to carnal hearts ibid
  • Obs. 4. Though carnal men despise Gods wrath in smal things yet it shall eat them out at last Page 482
  • Obs. 5. God is slow in punishing ibid
  • Obs. 6. God hath secret judgments to bring upon a people ibid
  • Use, Beware of secret sins Page 483
  • Obs. 7 Our corruptions within us, breed our trouble and undoing ibid
  • Obs. 8 Gods wrath though secret many times eateth out mens spirits Page 484
  • Obs. 9 Though others go before them yet they shall follow not long af­ter Page 485
  • Obs. 10 What a poor creature man is ibid
  • Obs. 11 How long God condescendeth that he may express his mea­ning to men Page 486
VERS. XIII.
  • Obs. 1 The pride of mans heart will not easily acknowledg the hand of God Page 488
  • Obs. 2 God will force men to be sensible of his hand against them. Page 489
  • Obs. 3 Men are more subject to see their wound than their sin. ibid
  • Obs. 4 Carnal hearts seek to the creature in time of straits Page 491
  • Obs. 5 There is much guilt contracted by resting on carnal helps. Page 492
    • 1 They will infect ibid
    • 2 They cannot pray Page 493
  • Obs. 6 Creature comforts avail little in the day of wrath Page 495
  • Obs. 7 Of all things men rest on for help wicked men are like to prove most helpless Page 496
VERS. XIV.
  • Opened Page 498
  • Obs. 1 When Gods lesser afflictions work not God will be most terri­ble [Page] Page 499
  • Obs. 2 Our seeking out shifting waies in times of extremities, pro­vokes God Page 501
  • Obs. 3 When God in wrath causeth war in a Kingdom than God teareth Page 502
  • Obs. 4 God hath a righteous hand in the worst actions of men. Page 504
  • Obs. 5 The hand of God is more immediate in some judgments than in others. Page 505
    • 1 Thereby the heart is humbled Page 506
    • 2 It is a special means to quiet the heart with patience ibid
    • 3 The soul is the more put upon enquiry Page 507
    • 4 It causeth the soul to receive content in nothing but God. ibid
VERS. XV.
  • Obs. It is a heavy judgment for God to tear, and then to leave a people Page 509
    • Text opened Page 511
  • Obs. 1 Sin desturbs Heaven and Earth ibid
  • Obs. 2 In times of publick judgment God leaves his Majestie in Heaven to set things in order on Earth Page 512
  • Obs. 3 Gods administrations to his people sometimes may be such as if he regarded them not ibid
  • Obs. 4 When wicked men are in perplexity then God enjoyes himself in his perfection Page 513
  • Obs. 5 Sometimes God turns his back upon sinners till they acknow­ledg their sins ibid
  • Obs. 6 God humbles himself to behold what is done upon earth. ibid
    • The words explained Page 514
  • Obs. 7 So long as men prosper in their sins, they will contest with God ibid
  • Obs. 8. Affliction sanctified brings men to see and acknowledg their sins Page 515
  • Obs. 9. It's a sign of a hard heart not to confess when Gods hand is upon us ibid
  • Obs. 10. God will have glory from us Page 516
    • The words opened ibid
  • [Page]Obs. 1 It is not enough to acknowledg our sin but we must seek Gods face Page 517
  • Obs. 2 When God leaves his people he leaves something behind which causeth the heart to seek after him Page 518
  • Obs. 3 True repentance is not so much to seek our own ease as Gods face ibid
  • Obs. 4 Gods Ordinances and Worship are his face Page 519
  • Obs. 5 Repenting hearts solicitous about Gods Ordinances ibid
  • Obs. 6 The worship of God is his Name and Ordinances ibid
  • Obs. 7. What good God aims at in his administrations to his people he will have it Page 520
    • The words opened Page 521
  • Quaere 1 What time doth this seeking of God refer it self unto?
  • Answered 1 When the seventy yeers were at an end ibid
  • Answered 2 In their captivity by the Romans ibid
  • Answered 3 At the calling of the Jews ibid
  • Quaere 2 How did they seek God in any of these times? ibid
  • Answered from several Scriptures ibid
  • Obs. 1 In the sorest afflictions which befals the people of God, he intends their good in them Page 522
  • Obs. 2. God hath little honor in this world Page 523
  • Use, God takes it ill when he seldom hears from us but in our ex­tremities ibid
  • Obs. 3 Times of affliction are times of seeking God ibid
  • Obs. 4. When God is pleased to work grace in the heart, that heart is taken off from all creature helps ibid
  • Obs. 5. We are not to be discouraged in seeking God though afflicti­ons drives us to it ibid
  • Use, Despair not in afflictions ibid
  • Obs. 6 We must seek God early, else not sufficient Page 525
  • Opened in Three particulars ibid
  • Quest. What is it to seek God diligently? Page 526
  • Answered in Five particulars ibid
  • Use: Admonition to England. Page 527

AN EXPOSITION Of the PROPHESY of HOSEA.

CHAP. 4.

VER. 1.

Hear the Word of the LORD, ye Children of Israel; for the LORD hath a Controversie with the Inhabi­tants of the Land; because there is no truth &c.

IN this Chapter we have 1. A suit commenced. 2. God declares. 3. Judgment is pronoun­ced. 4. Exhortation to Jud [...]h to beware she comes not into the same condition. 5. Ex­ecution, the giving up Ephraim to himself, and unto Gods wrath.

For the fi [...]st, Israel is cited, Hear ye the 1 W [...]rd of the Lord, ye children of Israel]

The knowledge of any truth (hard and grievous to flesh and blood) to be the Word of the Lord,Obs. is a special means to pre­pare the heart to receive it with reverence and all due respect. It was a hard Message that Hos [...] had to bring, to tell them of Gods Controversie; he therrefore makes thi [...] preface. [...] [Page 2] Word of the Lord. Hard truths are hardly born; but when the Authority of the Infinite God appears in them, be they either making for us or against us, our hearts must bow to them; they lay bonds upon the conscience and bind over to eternal death if you reject them. 2 Chron. 26.12. Zedekiah, a King, is charged that he did not humble himself before the Pro­phet Jeremiah. Though the Prophet be never so poor and con­temptible in himself, yet if he brings the word of the Lord, Ze­dekiah the king must humble himself before him.

2 Ye children of Israel] In this appellation God puts them in mind of the covenant he had made with them and the [...] with him; you are not Heathens you are the children of Israel, in covenant with me, a people neer to me, yet I have a controver­sie with you.

Obs.The neerness of a people to God exempteth them not from Gods contending with them for sin: Neither should neer­ness to us exempt any from our contending with them. Deut. 13.6. If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daugh­ter, or the wise of thy bosom, or thy friend which is as thy own soul, in­tice thee secretly to worship a strange god, Verse 8. thine eye shall not pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him, but thou shalt surely kill him, thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death. Contro­versies between those that are neare are very grievous, Quid di­cturus es ò Propheta qui tanta diligentia vocas ut audiatur verbū Do­mini. Oecolōp. in locum.

3. The neerer the [...]lation is between any the more grievous is the controversie, if there be a controversie at all. Hear the Word of the Lord ye children of Israel. It is a sad thing for one Nation to have a controversie with another; much more for a people to be at controversie with it self; Yet more when when the controversie comes nearer, into the family, between husband and wife, between father and child, between dearest friends who were before to each other as their own souls, con­troversies there are very sore and grievous, Prov. 18.19. A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong Citie, and their contentions are like the bars of a Castle. Wind within the body is most troublesom and dangerous.

Hear ye.] O Prophet (saies Oecoloppdius upon the place) what is it thou hast to say that with so much earnestness thou [Page 3] callest to have the word of the Lord heard; This is the solemn message of the Prophet to this people, The Lord hath a con­troversie with the inhabitants of the land.

The word translated Controversie, signifies a debate, [...] his expostula­tio judiciū The Sep­uag in t [...] ju­dicium. the same word trā ­slated by them also [...]. Iob 29.16. Ministers must plead for God, take heed they plead not against him. a con­tention, it comes of [...] Contendere vel privatim vel coram judice, to contend privately or to come before a Judge; som­times a cause pleaded in Law. As Exod. 23.3. Neither shalt thou countenance a poor man in his cause. That's the same word with this here, a Controversie. The Lord hath a cause to plead with this people, it is the controversie of the Lord; the Pro­phet stands up for God in his Name to plead against them, he pleads for the King, the King of Heaven: So should all faith­ful Ministers be sure they be on Gods side, pleading his cause; For all Ministers are Gods Sergeants at Law, his Attourneys, his Soliciters. The Kings Lawyers are sworn, they shall ne­ver plead against him, or take fee on the other side; And yet how many even in the exercise of their Ministry shew that they have taken fee on other side! How do many plead against God, against his Sabbaths, against his Ordinances, yea, plead som­times against the power of Godliness, against those things wherein the chief dignitie & glory of God consists! somtimes perhaps pleading for them but pleading more against them at another time. The Devil hath not more cordial Solicitors and pleaders for him than those who would be accounted the Prophets of the Lord.

The Lord.] As if the Prophet should say, Know, you have not to do with me, nor with Amos (who was contemporary with Hosea, & a Prophet to Israel) though you think you can make your parts good with me and with the other Prophets, know God will not now stand pleading with you so much by his Ministers, he will take the cause into his own hand and will plead, by his Judgments he will now take up the contro­versie himself. The Lord tells the people (Gen. 6.3.) that his Spirit should no longer strive with them: what's that? That is, it should no longer strive in the way of No [...]h's Mini­stry, but he would come and strive himself after another man­ner, by bringing the flood upon them.

[...] Gods pleading is, the more dreadfull.It is most dreadful for sinners for God to take the contro­verse into his own hand to contend with them in a way of judgment; It is a fearfull thing to fall into the hand of the living God You think Ministers are hard, they preach terrible things; but if you have to deal with God immediately, if he should not speak to you by man but come himself and plead with you, you would find it harder to deal with him. When Jobs friends were pleadi [...]g with him, he could easily make his part good with them, but Chap, 38. ver. 1, 2. God him­self comes and speaks out of the whirlwind, Who is he that darken [...]th counsel by words without knowledg? and so goes on in a chapter or two; Chap. 42. ver. 5. Job falleth down now and saith, I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye s [...]eth thee, wherefore I abhor my self and repent in dust and as [...]es. Psal. 130.3. is a notable scripture for this purpose, If thou Lord shouldest mark iniquity, Oh Lord who should stand? Mark the words, how Lord is twice here repeated, it would have been full sense thus, If thou Lord shouldst mark iniqui­ty who shall stand? There would have been a mighty empha­si [...] in the word Jehovah, who shall stand, for it is thou oh Je­hovah; but it comes in again, to Note that herein lies the Emphasis, if thou Lord shouldst mark iniqity, Oh Lord who shall stand? This Oh Lord seems to be a pleonasme, one would think that it breaks the sense, but the scope is to shew that the sight of having to deal with God in our sins, is very terrible, If thou Lord ma [...]kest,sin causes a dreadful contro­vercy be­tween God and man. then Oh Lord who shall stand?

But further, that which is the main thing in this, is, That sin causeth a most dreadful controversie between God and the soul, be­tween God and a Nation: For this God comes to strive, to con­tend for his glory, & the siner strives & contends against God.

1 It is God that is infinitely above the sinner, who hath the controversie wi [...]h him, Isa. 45.9. Wo unto him that striveth with his Maker. Let the pots [...]e [...]rds of the earth strive with the potsheards. Yet thus doth every sinful impenitent soul, and every sinful impenitent Nation, they strive with their Maker. The Lord is above them: therefore to intimate the distance between God and us in this controversie; saith the text, The Lord hath a [Page 5] controversie with the inhabitants of the land, poor earth-creeping creatures that have dwellings here below whose houses are h [...]uses of clay, and God is the great God of Hea­ven and Earth.

The controversy that God hath with a sinner is a just con­troversie, 2 God ha h right on his side, and the injury is great that is done unto him.

Thirdly, It is a controversie that we have begun, God did 3 not begin it with us, but we began it with him, we have the worst of it.

Fourthly, It is an old controversie a controversy of our 4 forefather [...], a controversie that God hath had with one gene­ration after another, and we as a wretched generation stand forth to hold up the old controversy. As in England in for­mertimes there hath been wars for hundreds of yeers (as in the Barons wars) and when one generation was gone, the ge­neration after stood forth to hold up that controversie; so it hath been between God and man, God hath had a controver­sy with the children of men ever since the fall of Adam, and one generation after another hath stood forth to hold up the controversie, and thou wretched sinner standest up in thy ge­neration in thy place to hold up the controversie that man­kind hath had with God since his calling out of Paradice.

Fiftly, It is such a controversie as stirreth up all the Power 5 all the Wrath of God against a sinner, if God have any power in him, it shall be put forth in making his cause good against a sinner, Levit. 26. diver [...] places in that chapter, If ye walk contrary unto me I will walk contrary unto you, my Power my Wisdom all mine Attribu [...]es are against you. A man that hath a contro­versy with another imployes and improves all the strength he hath against him that he is at controversy with.

This controversie is a deadly controversie, it is such as 6 strikes at our lives, at our souls, at our eternal e [...]ates.

A controversy with God who is set upon it to h [...]ve satisfa­ction 7 for all the wrong we have done to him, he will have it one way or other.

Such a controversie as only the Lord Christ that great Me­diator, 8 [Page 6] that great Peace-maker is able to make up; None can reconcile God and a sinner but Christ God-Man, He must stand before God to satisfie for the wrong the sin of man hath done unto him.

9 A controversie with him who hath thee at infinite advan­tage, who hath thee under his feet and the point of the sword of his Justice is at thy heart.

10 A controversie (that if thou look not to it) is like to prove an everlasting controversie. Psal. 57.16. I will not contend for ever, neither will I alwayes be wroth, for the Spirit should fail before me. This is spoken to those that are in Covenant with God, in regard of the lesser controversies that after their reconcilia­tion may be between God and them: But with thee if not re­conciled to God in Christ who art yet in the great controver­sie that God hath with sinful man, (I say if thou lookest not to it) it may prove an everlasting controversie to thee: Certainly God will overcome thee, God will have the day of thee, the Lord will overcome when he judgeth. Julian strove a great while against the Lord, but at length Vicisti Galilae vicisti, he was forced to acknowledg with his blood cast up into the air, The Lord hath overcome, the Lord will overcome.

It is a vain thing for thee to stand out striving with this great God. Job 40.2. Shall he that comendeth with the Almighty instruct him? So it is translated in your books, but according to the words in the Hebrew, and so translated by Pagnin and others, Is there any wisdom, or any learning in contending with God? any knowledge shewed in that? No certainly there is no knowledge, no wisdome, no learning in contending with the Almighty: Our greatest wisdome is to fall down, to be humbled before the Lord. The Lord hath appointed a certain period for thy coming in to make up thy peace with him, to satisfie him; if thou neglectest that time thou art lost, undone for ever.

My brethren this is no time to have any controversie with God, to stand out against him in waies of enmity. It is time now when such blackness of darkness is upon us even storms of blood hang over our heads, It is time now (I say) [Page 7] however, to be at peace with Heaven, to make our peace with God. Job. 36.18. There is wrath, beware therefore that he take thee not away with his stroke. The Lord is come forth from his place, he is pleading his cause, and now in the waies of his administration he declares that he will have glory from his creature, he hath sworn by Himself and the word hath gone out of his mouth in righteousness that every knee must bow to him and every tongue confesse his Name, he seems now to re­solve he will have it so indeed, he will have all to bow before him. It is no time therefore now for us to have contro­versies with God, to have controversies with God and man both, with Heaven, and Earth, and Hell, and with our own consciences and all. What shall become us? Be not thou a ter­ror O Lord unto me (saith Jeremiah) for thou art my hope in the day of evil. If God be a terror, and the daies be evil,Ier. 17. what will become of us? It is time to fall down and make peace with God.

Consider of this you who are so often in controversies with your Neighbors: Remember in all your controversies that God hath a great controversy with you; And satisfie not your selves in this that you are able to cleer your selves before men, what is that so long a [...] this controversy continues?

It is a dangerous thing to go on long in this controversy with God; it is wisdom to make an end of it betime, Pro. 17.14. The beginning of strife is like the letting out of waters, where­fore leave off contention before it be medled with. The beginning of strife especially with God is most dreadful, if thou goest on but a little while, thine heart may be most desperately set a­gainst God and for ever left to strive against him, never to come in and be humbled before him. This is the reason (I verily be­leeve) of the most horred wickedness of some men amongst us: we wonder at it that ever any man should dare to venture up­on such horrid wickednesses, one after another; Surely here is the reason, at first it may be when they were young there was some dreadful breach between God and their souls, they fell (though the world perhaps knew it not) into some foul and abominable sin, and having made such a dreadful breach [Page 8] between God and their souls then, they now go on desperate­ly and fight against the God of Heaven in such a desperate manner as never any age can cell us any examples of such de­sperate fighting against God as is in this age. God hath a controversie with Nations also for their sin. Those who are to suit for God may wel charge us, that the Lord hath a con­troversy with the inhabitants of the land at this day. If ever he had a controversy with a people he hath it with us. The Lord hath a fearful controversy with us, he hath most fear­ful things to charge this land with, I might instance in some things that are more peculiar to this nation than to any other upon the face of the earth.

1 As the hatred, contempt, persecution of the power of god­liness; No nation upon the face of the earth hath that guilt in this regard upon it that England hath, nor never had since the world began, Persecution of faithful & godly Ministers, of the same Religion holding all fundamental Truths, yea, all the Articles of Religion, every point of the Doctrine of Re­ligion together with them; (I say) never any Nation was guilty of that persecution as we of this Kingdom are; Silen­cing many for [...]rifles and toyes; Persecuting for keeping the Sabbath: It is true, other countries are loose in their practice or the Sabbath, but no country upon the face of the earth hath ever persecuted the keeping of it as England hath done; and that by the c [...]untenance of those in authority. We are si ner and others are sinners, but the Lord hath a controver­sy with us for these things in a more special manner than with any people upon the fac [...] of the earth this day.

2 This controversy the Lord hath against us, is an old con­troversy too. I may apply that text Jer. 32.31. that God speaks concerning the City of Jerusalem unto us, This Citie hath been to me as a pro [...]ocation of mine anger and of my fury from the day that they built it even unto this day. So ever since the Reforma­tion hath begun have we bin a provocation to the Lord.

3 Thirdly, A general controversy even with all sorts, a controversy with our Kings and Princes, with our Nobles, o [...]r Gentry, our Cities, Countries, Universities, Common [Page 9] people, with wicked people, with godly people, with the Saints, with all.

Fourthly, It is the most unkind controversie in regard of 4 our parts that ever was in any Nation; for God had dealt with us in such a loving way as he hath not done with any Nation in the world besides, he hath made us even as the dearly beloved of his soul, and yet for all this we have con­tended against him. This unkindness goes even to the very heart of God.

Fiftly, The Lord hath sent many faithful Ambassadours 5 to plead his cause with us. He never to any Nation upon the earth sent more faithful Ambassadours that have pleaded his cause with more power and evidence of the Spirit than to us in England, yet we have stood out.

Sixtly, We have had as many offers of mercy as ever peo­ple 6 had. Many a time we have been upon the brink of Judg­ment and the bowels of God have been towards us and he hath said, it shall not be.

Seventhly, The Lord hath been as patient, he hath staied as 7 long as ever he did with any people before he came to execu­tion. Where do we reade of any people that have had a hundred yeers peace? (Ours is not much less;) Never that I know of in all the Scripture.

Eightly, The Lord hath had us at advantages as much as 8 can be; we have broke as many treaties as ever people broke. When we seemed to yeild unto God, we have but flattered him with our lips and dealt dissemblingly with him.

Ninthly, God hath broken the backs of others with whom 9 he hath had a controversy. He hath had a controversy with Germany, and how hath he dealt with them? Thus he begin­neth to deal with us. It is reported that in Germany when the war was but twenty or thirty miles off them, they went on in their trading and followed their businesses, buying and sel­ling and hoped that they should be safe; so it is with us, Is not some part of England at this day as desolate as Germany it self?

Tenthly, Those that knew most of Gods mind, have been 10 [Page 10] so afraid of this controversie that they have fled for fear of the wrath of God, and we have slighted, jeered them for it, thought it was their foolish timerousness and melancholly conceit; The Lord now seems to justifie their fear.

The Lord is now for the present out against us in as dread­ful a way of wrath as ever he was against any people of the earth. I never read in Scripture nor in History of a more dreadful wrath of God against a people all things considered, than is against us at this day. Amos, 7.4. The Lord calls to contend by fire: Surely the Lord doth it at this day, he cal­leth to contend with England by fire, in a most dreadful way, and who knows what the end shall be? That he hath a most dreadful controversy against England at this day, will appear if we further take these considerations.

1 First, That a people complaining of bondage heretofore, yet when God offered deliverance, should be so far left of God as they shall now rather be willing to make themselves and their posterity bond-slaves. Surely God hath a dread­ful controversy against us, it were else impossible that such a thing should be in the hearts of men. Men love liberty, they groan under bondage: We did groan but a few yeers ago, and the Lord was coming to help us, and yet we are now so left of God that we even turn again to our former bondage, and would have our ears to be bored that we might be perpetual slaves,

2 Secondly, It is not only that we wil turn again to bondage, but this is out of a spirit of enmitie against the yoke of Jesus Christ. This is the very ground and bottom of it, in a great part of the Kingdom, whatsoever yoke they have upon them they are resolved they will not have the yoke of Christ out of a spirit of enmity against the Godly party, who desire and endeavor Reformation.

At the beginning of this Parliament, when we began to have hopes of some liberty and reformation, Oh what a joy was there generally in the Kindom! all men agreed together; but when those that were wicked and carnal began to see that their godly neighbours rejoyced & that they blessed God for [Page 11] what was done that they had their minds; now they turn out of a spirit of malice against them, rather than they shall re­joyce, rather than they shall have their minds, we will turn back again to the bondage we were in before, and we will stand and oppose that which heretofore we rejoyced in. Cer­tainly here is the very ground of so much contradiction as there is at this day; They have therefore turned Malignants against that Cause which a man would wonder that ever ra­tional men should be against; But there is a spirit of malice against Christ and his Ordinances, fearing a reformation; they would have their lusts, and they think if reformation come they should not have them with that liberty they have had; here is the very reason that the Gentry and others in the country are opposite; Surely God hath a controversie with us.

Thirdly, That men should so vily desert those whom they 3 have chosen and trusted who have been faithful, those Wor­thies in Parliament, who have ventured their lives for them, basely and unworthily now to desert them; it is one of the greatest judgments of God upon the hearts of men, and there­fore upon a nation that ever was. If they complain of them now, they would much more have complained of them if they had complyed; suppose the Parliament had made up a pat­ched reformation and a crazie peace that uppon any occasion we had bin in danger to have had war broken out again, would not the people of the land have cried out of their un­faithfulness? But now they venture themselves and labour so hard for a sound peace, therefore to be deserted? An un­worthy generation, a generation that we have cause to fear is become the generation of Gods wrath and the people of his curse. People are affected according as success is, we complain of those in Parliament because of some difficulties that are in the work, yet if they had not done what they did they would have complained much more. So of Ministers, sometimes Ministers speak and stir up people because their consciences tell them they should be unfaithful to their coun­try and to the cause of God if they did not; now they cry [Page 12] out as they did of Luther, that they are the trumpets of sedi­tion and rebellion; whereas on the other side if they should say nothing, then people would have cryed out that they had betraied their Country and that they were not so faithful in their places as they should, therefore people were so bad as they were. Thus hard it is for God or man to please peo­ple.

Again. That not only people should desert them, but that so many of Nobles, and some Members of the Parliament them­selves should desert their Brethren there, and joyn with Pa­pists, French, and Walloons; When as not long since a com­pany of vile wretches being gathered together to fight against our brethren of Scotland, and yet those vile people could not be brought to fight against them by any means; But now not the vile ones, but Nobles, Knights, and Gentry can be brought to fight against the Parliament their own Brethren; Is not here a mighty hand of God against us? Could this ever be if God had not a dreadful controversie against England?

4 Fourthly, That men should be so blinded as to think the Protestant Religion should be maintained by an Army of Pa­pists, that the Laws and Liberty of the subject should be main­tained by an Army of Delinquents and strangers, yea, that the King with Papists, Delinquents, French, and Walloons should better maintain the Liberty of the Subject and the Pro­testant Religion, than with the Parliament; That people should come to beleeve this, is not the hand of God upon the people of this land? Are they not infinitely besotted? can we think that men indued with reason should do this? Sure­ly were not the Judgment of God fearfully upon their souls it could not be beleeved that ever this should be done by people that had any rationality in them.

5 Fiftly, God surely calls to contend fearfully with us in that he should suffer such an ill cause to prosper so as it hath done and to get to that height as it is. It is that which is the amazement both of England and the Countries about us that such an ill cause should get so high and prosper so much as it hath done; Surely the Lord is against us or else it could not have been.

Sixtly, When there shall be such a desperate design so long 6 a hatching, drawn forth in such a season and so driven on and now breaking forth in such violence and yet men cannot see it. The tract of the design is a [...] cleer as the Sun at noon day and drawn on from one step to another, by comparing of one thing with another we may see it as apparantly as the light. Would you not think it a besotting thing if there should be a train of Gunpouder laied along in the streets from such a place to the Parliament House to blow it up and yet that men should pass by and say they see no such thing? Cer­tainly the drawing on of the design against our Religion and State, to bring us under tyranny and slavery, the tract is as e­vident and plain as ever there was train of Gunpruder laid to such a place that men would willingly blow up; and yet men see it not. Surely Gods hand is out against us.

Seventhly, That we should have so little fruit of our pra­yers 7 as we have at this day, yea, that God should seem to be angry with the prayers of his people, This argueth a fearful controversy, and in this one particular among others; what prayers in England have been sent up to God for the Pals­graves children, and that now instead of answering our prayers God should send two Arrows as it were out of those loins to do us mischief, that it should come from them for whom England hath done so much to maintain them and sent up so many prayers to God for them, and in recompence of all they should come hither to make havoke of the Kingdom. Surely the hand of God is out against us.

Eightly, That our brethren should be so spoil'd and our 8 selves in such danger of drinking the dregs of the cup, yet where are our hearts? The judgment of God is upon the hearts of men that they stir not and act not like men, but they see their Brethren spoild before them and in the mean time all that which keeps them quiet is only that they hope they shall be the last. Gods hand is upon the hearts of men this could not be else. Could one ever have thought that English men could have born this? If one had told them be­fore that there should be an Army of Papists rise up with [Page 14] French, Walloons, and Irish to spoil the Kingdom, to destroy our Brethren, would one have ever imagined that English men should have born it and stirred no more than they have done? You talk indeed of this and that and of going forth e­very fourth man, but all such resolutions and such great words of men do usually sink and fall down and come to no­thing, a [...] if men were willing and content to lay down their necks upon the block. Surely the guilt of the blood of our Brethren may justly come upon us, and God may have a con­troversie with us for suffering their blood to be spilt.

9 Ninthly, That God should put so many opportunities into our hands and we neglect all, those opportunities of mercy: this is the hand of God against us and a fruit of his controver­sy with us.

10 What shall I say more? That God himself should take a­way our opportunities, that when we are nigh to deliverance that God should drive us back, this is an argument of a hea­vy controversie indeed. Numb. 13. when the people were come very neer to Canaan and were even ready to take posses­sion, God was resolved against them, that none but Caleb and Joshua should enter, they were beaten back again: now Chap. 14.33. it is said that the people when they heard this, mour­ned greatly, they saw the hand of God out against them. The truth is we have been even in Canaan, Oh what an opportu­nity God put into our hands in the West, I say not we lost the opportunity, but there Gods own hand shewed it self against us; Bristol then might have been saved, but God would not; And so when we were even at our deliverance God seemed to drive us back, as if he told us, well I like not the business in hand, for this generation, I have somewhat more to say to them, it may be to their young ones I may shew mercy after­ward, but against this generation my wrath shall be let out. Surely we may be afraid in regard of the waies of Gods pre­sent administration lest this should be in Gods heart. How­soever let us consider it and mourn greatly before the Lord. God hath a controversiy with the inhabitants of the land.

It is no time now to have controversies one with another, [Page 15] to be wrangling one with another, for this opinion and the other opinion. It is time for us now to lay down all our private controversies and fall to the making up the controver­sie with our God. It is no time now for Brethren to strive with Brethren, but to strive and wrestle with [...]od in prayer. If we have any strength with us, let it not be spent in conten­ding one with another, but let all our strength be spent in see­king to make peace with our God. It is said of the Romans that they had a Temple of Concord and none were to go to offer any further sacrifice but those that came first to offer in the Temple of Concord. The Lord looks it should be so with us, we should come and agr [...]e one with another, lay down all our own controversies and then give up our selves as one man to this great work to make up our controversie with him. If two Chickins be fighting and the Kite come neer, they will leave picking one another and run to the Hen for shelter. We stand picking and snarling one at another, and many men that say they will do thus and thus for the publick cause, but they take exception against this man and the other man, and at this thing and that thing, and now their private grudges come in and that draws them away and takes them off; Oh let us not be picking now, the Kite is coming neer, let us run and shelter our selve [...] u [...]der the protection of God, that cannot be but by making our peace with him.

As for the controversie that is this day between the King and us, we can in that appeal to God, that there is no just cause the King should contend with us no hurt ever intended or done by us unto him. Only we desire to deliver ou [...] selves from Tyranny and slavery. Our Priviledges and Libe [...]ties are deer to us, they are our Right as truly as his Honor is his. That which he inheriteth it was his for [...]fathers, & that which his forefathers, his predecessors inherited, it was at first from the People, they set up such a family to rule and govern over them; and certainly they never set it up for any other end but only for the publick good, not for their misery & ruin: We can appeal to God that we desired nothing else but to l ve peaca­bly and to serve God in our land, enjoying only w [...]at God [Page 16] and nature and the Laws of our land had made our own. We know the relation between him and us, and the bond it is mu­tual; and if there be any thing done now that perhaps can­not be justified by any positive explicite Law of the land, let men know that yet it may be justified by the very light of Na­ture and by the Law of Armes. It cannot be imagined but if those that ought to be the protectors of the Law should come against Law so hardly upon us, that we must have recourse then to the Law and light of nature, it is impossible this should be otherwise, and this God himself approves.

Whatsoever therefore becomes of this controversy between him and us, whether reconciliation or not reconciliation, yet we have peace in this, that what we have done in the resi­sting of a deluge of misery that was coming upon us, if we had not done it, our consciences would have upbraided us, the generation to come would have cursed us, the Nations a­bout us and our very enemies would have scorned us and de­rided us for our base cowardliness, for our sordid spirits, for an unworthy generation that should see it self and posterity sinking into misery and brought under slavery, and out of base fear and sluggish litherness of spirit and effeminate soft­ness, should suffer all to be brought into bondage to the hu­mors and lusts of a few men. We can therefore with comfort and boldness stand at Gods Tribunal and plead the upright­ness of our hearts and justness of our cause in this Controver­sie whatever becomes of it. But in the controversie that God hath against us, there we fall down at his feet and acknow­ledg our selves guilty before him, yea, we come with sack­cloath upon our loins and ashes on our heads, with ropes on our necks, and plead only mercy for our lives. And this is the work that we have to do in all the daies of our humiliati­on, to seek to make an Atonement between God and our souls and the Land in regard of that dreadful controversie he hath against us. Now blessed God, because thou tellest us in thy word, Because I WILL do this, therefore prepare to meet thy God O Israel: Thou threatnest hard, great and sore evils, and thou callest now to us, because Thou wilt do this, England, O England [Page 17] prepare to meet God; We come (Oh that this might be our answer) we come Lord and meet thee with our souls bowed towards thee, with our hearts bleeding that we have provo­thee to cause so much bloodshed of our brethren amongst us. O Lord our hearts are open to thee, and with trembling spirits we cry to the Lord, what wilt thou have us do? If thou pro­ceedest against us in thy controversie we are undone, we are undone, Oh Lord forgive, Oh Lord arise and be merciful we beseech thee, for by whom shall Jacob rise for he is small? by whom shall the people arise? by whom shall the power of godliness and thine Ordinances be maintained?

How happy were we think some if the controversie between the King and us were at an end, that we might have peace. Oh if the people were happy that were in such a case, how happy the people that were at peace with the King of Heaven! If the controversie between God and us were at an end we should be happie indeed. The Lord and the Land is at a con­troversie, and this controversie makes us cry out unto God; but yet wo unto us, here is the misery, we yet keep our sins that make the controversie. Jer. 35. Will the Lord reserve his anger for ever? will he keep it unto the end? Mark what the an­swer is, Behold thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldest. Thus you have said, but what is the fruit of this? You have done evil as you could. We in the daies of our Fasts cry, Lord wilt thou reserve thine anger for ever? wilt thou keep it unto the end? Behold thus we speak, but yet we continue to do e­vil as we can. Isa. 59.9. We looked for light (saith the text) but behold obscuritie, for brightness but we walk in darkness, we grope for the wall like the blind: We indeed grope as if we had no eyes and we stumble at noon day as if it were night. Men to this day are ready to cry out and say, what shal we do? as if the way were not cleer before us what we should do; The way is cleer enough if we had hearts, but we grope as if we had no eyes and we stumble at noon day as in the night. In many places of the Kingdom they roar out as bears, and they have cause to do so, For they are miserably spoiled, their wives ravished, their houses plundered, themselves imprisoned; and [Page 18] for the rest of us we mourn like doves night and day, and we look for judgment and there is none, and for salvation but it is far from us; Mark what follows, For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, (there is the ground of al the controver­sie between God and us) and as for our sins they testify against us, and our trangressions are with us. Surely my Brethren God is willing to be at peace with England again; the controversy is great and sore, yet we may confidently speak that the Lord is yet willing to be at peace with England, and the sufferings of England go as neer the heart of God as ours. Oh that we knew then what it is that is the great make-bate between God and us that we might get rid of it! Would you know it? 2. Sam. 20.21. saith Joab there, Deliver us Sheba the son Bichri and we will depart from the Citie and go every one unto his tent. If amongst us Delinquents were punished as they ought, if the hearts of people were prepared to have the remainders of su­perstition and Idolatry cast out, if they were willing to receive Jesus Christ as King among them, the sound of retreat would soon be heard, the controversie would soon be at an end; and except this be the foundation of our peace, either there will be no peace at all, or it will not hold long. In our raising of forces therefore to help our selves and our brethren (seing we pretend we will do more than before, and it is time we should if we be not a people destinated to destruction and ruine) be sure we begin here, let us do more than ever we did before to make up this controversie with God. It is reported of Achior one of Holopherness his Captains that he counselled Holopher­ness to enquire first whether the Jews had offended their God before he attempted to make war against them, for if they had, he then assured him that that would be their ruine and he might go up and overcome them, but if he could not hear that they had sinned against their God it was in vain for him to strive against them. Truly it concerns us neerly to make up our peace with God that when our adversaries come out against us they may not indeed be made use of to avenge Gods quarrel upon us, for then they will easily improve all their advantages this way, and say indeed that they are not [Page 19] come out against us without the Lord; Every victory they now get they are ready to please themselves in this and say that God fighteth against us, and God approveth them, they tell us the reason they prevail is because God is against us, and so we know Rabshekah did though a foul railer, yet saith he, Are we come up without the Lord? And the enemies of David Psalm, 71.12. Mine enemies have said, God hath forsaken him, now persecute and take him, for there is none to deliver him: Thus they will be ready to say upon any occasion, now the Lord hath left them, now let us take them: And certainly if the Lord should suffer them to prevail many of them would think they do God good service to slay and to root out that genera­tion of Gods people that is here in England, and they would be confident that it is the mind of God that they should be rooted out. Therefore we had need look to it to make up our peace with God that the controversie between him and us may not prove to be their victory.

The Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the Land.

There are only two notes to be further observed hence. God having to deal with poor earthen creatures, he might present­ly have let his wrath out against them and destroyed them: But Mark, God is willing to have his cause pleaded with vile creatures, so that all the while he is pleading there is time and space for them to come in. This teacheth us this excel­lent lesson:Observ. [That men should be willing that the cause that is be­tween them and their inferiours should be pleaded, and not stand so much upon their superiority, and scorn to humour an inferiour so much as to have any matter debated between them.] As husband and wife if a controversie be between them, though the one be superiour and the other inferiour, think it not much to debate it between themselves with meekness and love, Job, 31.13. profest he did not despise the cause of his man-servent when he contended with him, but he would have that pleaded and made out. Jehovah, the mighty God condescendeth to put his cause to a suit, he will not pass sentence upon poor crea­tures til it come to a tryal. Be not surly and scornful towards your inferiours.

Another Note, [The inhabitants of the Land] lies a little more couched. The inhabitants of the Land, what Land? The inhabitants of the Land of Canaan, a controversie with them. Mark, God fulfilled his promise in bringing them into the Land of Canaan, and now he pleadeth with them for the for­feiture of their promise. Psal. 105.44, 45. he tells them that he had given them the lands of the Heathen, that they might observe his Statutes and keep his Laws, that was their condi­tion. God fulfilled hi [...] part, he bringeth them into the land, but when they were in the land they minded not their part. You know God often gave them charge when they came into the land to do this and this, they promised they would do it, but when they were once brought into the land they forgot it, they forsook God. God now comes and pleads with the in­habitants of this land; As if he should say, I have done my part in bringing you into the land, now I come to plead with you for breaking your promise and covenant. Take this note from hence. [Whatsoever mercy you have from God you are to look upon it as a fruit of Gods faithfulness to you (if you be Gods) and as a ground of your obedience to him, Observ. and his pleading with you if you walk not answerable to it.

The inhabitants of the Land.] Hierome hath another note upon it, but that is further off, I will only name it. Rightly saith he are they called to answer and to judgment that are the in­habitants of the land, and do not look upon themselves as sojourners and strangers in the land; But he that can truly say with the Prophet, I am a pilgrim & a stranger here, such a one can never do that which may cause God to have a controversy against him. This is the reason men do that which causeth God to have a controversie with them, because they look upon themselves as possessors of the land, and not as pilgrims and strangers. But this is too far off.

The second part followeth. [God declareth.] A sute first is entred against such a man, when the Court day comes, there is calling for a declaration, the Lawyer declares: God doth so, and the Prophet is Gods Lawyer, and here are three Articles put in thi [...] declaration, Because there is no Truth, no Mercy, no knowledg of God in the land.

First in general, that there is a declaration, take these two useful notes from thence.

First, God contendeth not with a people without a cause. How many are there that strive and contend one with another without any cause at all! they vex and rage, contend and sue and great controversies there are, but if we come to examin the cause we can find nothing at all; great dull is raised but whence is it? if we look to the bottom and examin where­fore it is, we can see just nothing, they themselves know no cause, they can give no rational account of all their pleading, one against another. As David said to Eliah his eldest bro­ther, 1 Sam. 17.29. when Eliah came and wrangled with him, saith David, What have I now done? is there not a cause? Eliahs spirit was up through his envy, chiding and wrangling with David; but what have I done saith David, have not I cause for what I did! Thus many have their spirits up, chiding and wrangling, but examin the cause, and they can show none at all. How many are there of bitter spirits, who even go about like mad-dogs, snarling at every one, even at those they know not, with whom they had never any thing to do, yet cry out against them, railing upon them every where! Ask them, do you know the man? can you prove any hurt against him? The truth is they know him not, they are not able to make good what they say, only there is a general noise of such and such men that they do thus and thus, and so they bite and snail, and rage against them, but when all comes to all they know no cause. Such and such men they say disturb the Kingdom and trouble the people, a grea [...] deal of cry but little wool, the foundations of the earth are out of order, but what hath the righteous done? You would think when you hear such railings and cryings out against such and such men, that they were the most monstrous men upon the earth, but examin what it is that they have done, there is nothing. God doth not so with you, God never contendeth with man but for a just cause.

Secondly, Because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledg of God in the land, but by swearing, and lying, and stealing &c. [Page 22] From whence in the general there is this, God contendeth not against a people for little things,Ob [...]. when God saith he hath a controversie with the inhabitants of the land it is not for tri­fles, for ordinary infirmities, for dayly excursions, but for great notorious things. Not that little things do not deserve a controversie, but it is from the vertue and fruit of the Cove­nant that this comes to passe; in others that are not in Cove­nant little things make a controversie, but between Gods children and himself they are not little things that make a controversie. But men are of froward spirits, every trifle is enough to make a controversie between them. Yea, usually th [...] greatest controversies between neerest friends is some trifle or other. Is there a man and his wife live lovingly and sweet­ly many yeers, do they fall out afterwards? Is there a bitter controversie? Examin it, it is but about some toy. So be­tween one brother and another. I could give you examples in Histories of great and bitter controversies that have been be­tween neerest friends upon small and trivial grounds. I re­member Camerarius tells us a story of two brethren, these two walking out in a star-light night, saith one of the brethren would I had a pasture as large as this Element, and saies the o­ther would I had as many Oxen as there be Stars; saies the other again, where would you feed these Oxen? in your Pa­sture, replied he; what whether I will or no? Yea said he whether you will or no; what in spight of me? yes said he; and thus it went on from word to word till at length each sheath'd his sword in the others bowels. This verifieth that saying of James, Chap. 3.5. Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth! So it is in many families, sometimes perhaps a look is the beginning of a great controversie, one thinks such a one doth not look lovingly upon him, and then he begins to suspect that things boil within him, perhaps afterward some words come forth that may seem to argue discontent, and then that word begetteth another, and that other a third, and so a miserable breach cometh to be in a family. It is an argument that these people have Gunpouder spirits that a little spark of fire can so quickly blow them up. Truly the [Page 23] controversie here in England the ground of it at the first begin­ning was little enough on our parts; Only were it not that there had bin a desperate design in our adversaries, it were im­possible that such a little beginning should ever come to that height. But God doth not so, they are great things for which he hath a controversie with the inhabitants of the land.

But what is it? what is the declaration? No truth, nor mer­cy, nor knowledg of God in the land. These three especially, the first doth exceeding neerly concern us.

First, No Truth. God is a God of Truth, he is true in all his waies. He justly pleads with them that have dealt falsly with him. No truth; No reality in their Religion, that is something, but that is not all. God comes upon them for the breaches first of the second Table; for they ar [...] more con­vincing; we have greater advantage against a natural man to convince his conscience in those than in matters of Religion. If you speak to them concerning sins in matters of Religion, they will say they acknowledg the true God and they wor­ship him. Well, therefore the Prophet begins first herein the matters of the second Table, concerning the want of truth between man and man; As if he should say, Talk what your will concerning your worshiping of the true God, there is no truth between one another, you deal falsly and cruelly, and are merciless to your brethren, never therefore talk of Religion and of acknowledging the true God.Obs. Thence the Note is this. [That it is in vain for any man to talk of his Religion, if he make no conscience of the second Table as well as the first.] For a man to talk of praying, and hearing Sermons, if he be cruel and hard hearted, and false in his dealings, the Lord rejecteth all let him talk what he will.

No truth in your dealings one with another. First there is abun­dance of flattery amongst you. You flatter one another in your sin, you do not deal unfainedly one with another. You flatter your Princes, and your Princes have little truth in their Courts. It was once a speech of one, All things were plentiful in the Court but only truth. And this is the un­happi­ness of great men that those that are about them usually deal [Page 24] falsly with them. You shall seldom know one that deals truly with great men, they tell them that their bloodshed­ding and ruining of Kingdoms is but the maintaining of their just Honor and Prerogative. I have read of Dionisius his flat­terers, that when he spit upon the ground they would lick it up and then tell him that that spittle was sweeter than any Ambrosia and Nectar, the sweetest that ever they tasted, meerly to please him: And so you have many that are neer to great men, though they see them do things never so abominable; things that make never so great breaches between God and them, between them and people, yet they tell them that they do more bravely than ever any of their Ancestors did. There is no truth.

Truth here some take for Justice. Thus it is sometimes ta­ken in Scri [...]ture. Zech. 8.16. Speak ye every one the truth to his neighbor, execute the judgment of truth and peace. As if he should say, you do not execute justice upon Malignants that are in your power; you speak of raising Arms to fetch in Delin­quents, but you execute not judgment upon those that you have in your hands, you will have God in a solemn manner to be blessed because he hath delivered you from them, but judgment is not executed in truth as it should be. Nor No Mercy: That is, you shew no mercy to the innocent; you talk of indulgence, your indulgence to Delinquents is cruelty to innocents, Oh how many of our brethren in Oxford and other places suffer most dreadful things because these here enjoy so much liberty and have so much favour as they have. So there is neither mercy to the Innocent not justice to the Nocent.

But the special thing here intended is, That you are not true in your dealings nor in the trust committed to your charge; There is no equitie in your dealings. Isa. 59.14. And judgment is turned backward, (it is turned upon those that it should not be exe­cuted upon) And justice standeth a far off. If one be greater than another, the meanest shall come under the stroke of ju­stice and be executed, and the greater not: And truth is fallen in the streets; how comes that in? Thus, as if he should say, It is true, they that are in place of Authority will not execute [Page 25] judgment and justice, but are not the common people faith­ful in their dealings one with another, No, Truth is faln in the streets: this seems to refer to the multitude; And equity cannot enter; the word that is here translated Equity, comes of a word that signifies a thing that is just before one; As if he should say, those very things that one would think were as plain (as we say) as the nose on a mans face, things that are so evident, that are just before us, that have so much equitie and reason in them, yet those things cannot enter, those things cannot be entertained, there is such a general confusion a­mongst the people, such a corruption among them, they are so set upon wickedness, that things that are equal and plain according to common sense and reason, yet it cannot enter in­to their hearts, they will not receive it. And is not this in a great measure our condition at this time?

There is no Truth, they are false in the trust committed to their charge. Oh here is a controversie indeed that God may have against us. Was there ever a time that either England or any other country knew when there was so much falsness in men in the trust committed to them? All things in Israel at this time were come to that confusion, that through the fals­ness of men any thing of the greatest consequence that might be was betrayed. It is a sign of Gods fearful wrath upon our Nation that there is no truth in men, when people are lest to the treachery and perfidiousness of others; that such whom one would think one might be confident of their truth, nay venture their lives upon it, yea, such as a long time before were trustie; yea, trustie to admiration, yet at last when they think they may suffer, [their own ends are not so clear to attain to as at first] they will betray all that trust that is committed to them and venture even their own undoing ra­ther than endure further hazard in that way of trust. Such cursed selvishness is there in the hearts of men that have not the grace and true fear of God to ballance their hearts; they will even betray God himself and a whol Kingdom for their own private ends. But what an unworthy thing is this for men to betray publick trust when so much mischief may come [Page 26] upon it meerly for their own ends; It is as if a man should set an house on fire to roast an egg: what are mens own particu­lar ends in comparison of a Kingdom? not so much as an egg in comparison of an house. This was the complaint in Mi­cah's time of Judah as well as of Israel here, Micah was con­temporary with Hosea, Mic. 7.5. Trust not in a friend, put ye no confidence in a guide, keep the doors of thy mouth from her that li­eth in thy b som: A mans enemies (ver. 6.) are the men of his own house. But though there are many of them thus corrupt and there is no truth in them, you cannot tell how to put any trust in them, are there not some of them better? Mark the 4. verse. The best of them is a bryar, the most upright is sharper than a thorn hedg. In evil times you shall find those whom you most confide in to be so froward in some of their waies, so per­verse, that if you go to them for shelter, they will prick you; even those men that you cry most up, those whom you think to receive most from, yet when evil times come their spirits will be so stirred that if you come to them for shelter you shall find them extream perverse: And this indeed is the day of the perplexity of a Kingdom, what sh [...]ll we do in this case? Mark the 7. verse Therefore will I look unto the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation, My God will hear me; As if he should say, If I look unto man I have little help there, little comfort there, the best of them is a bryar, if I trust in men and look for any help from men, I see what they will do, verily every man is altogether vanity; therefore our condition is very sad and miserable, Lord what shall we do? I will look to the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation, My God will hear me; Men cannot save me, God will hear me though they will not.

Observ. Gods controversie with Covenant-breakers, with those that betray their trust, is very dreadful. I will shew you an example or two out of the Scripture and out of History.

First that notable place in 2 Sam. 21. when there was a fa­min in the daies of David three yeers together, David would know what the matter was, God gave him this answer, That twas for Saul and his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites; [Page 27] Because Saul would not keep that trust to the Gibeonites that was promised them, God therefore brings a famin upon the whol Land for three yeers together: And I beseech you mark the aggravation here of Gods displeasure against any that break trust; first this promise was not made by Saul, but by Sauls Progenitors, and it was made above three hundred yeers before his time, And then to whom was it made? unto a Heathenish people, to the Gibionites; And this promise they got deceitfully, they deceived Joshua and so got it by craft; further it was a promise made them without asking counsel of God, so the text saith, Josh. 9.14. Again, this promise was against the mind of the congregation, verse 18. All the congregation murmured against the Princes: Again, Saul when he slew the Gibeonites he did not do it out of a perfidi­ous spirit, but out of a good intent, for so the text saith, 2 Sam. 21.2. He slew them in his zeal to the children of Israel, be­cause he thought that the Gibeonites remaining amongst them would perhaps prove some hinderance to the good of Israel. Further, this work of God comes not upon Saul then when he broke the trust, but upon his posterity afterward, and that shews it to be greater wrath. Lastly it comes so upon them as it will not be appeased till it hath their lives: you may see then how God is set upon it to revenge promise-breakers.

Another example as notable as that, is in Ezek. 17 15. when Zedekiah the King of Judah had made a Covenant with the King of Babylon, and broke it, he rebelled against him in sen­ding his Ambassadours into Egypt that they might give him horses and much people; Shall he prosper saith the Lord? shall he escape that doth such things, or shall he break the covenant and be delivered? This covenant was made with a wicked man with a Tyrant, and yet God calls it his Oath and his Covenant, ver. 18. And then with what an Emphasis doth God speak this. He despised the Oath by breaking the Covenant when lo he had given his hand yea ver. 16. God professeth it shall cost him his life, Surely saith the Lo d, in the place where the King dwelleth that made him King, wh [...]se Oath he despised, a [...]d whose Covenant he brake, e­ven with him in the middest of Babylon shall he dye: yea further, [Page 28] God sweareth against him and that by his own life, ver. 19. Therefore thus saith the Lord God, at I live surely mine Oath which he hath despised, and my Covenant which he hath broken, even it will I re [...]ompense upon his own head: Then further, God tels him that all the strength that he had got to him and all his policie and all his cunning devices should not help him, ver. 20. I will spread my net upon him and he shall be taken in my snare, and I will bring him unto Babylon and will plead with him there for his trespass that he hath trespassed against me: And lastly, the wrath of God shall not only be upon him, but upon all those that joyned with him and a bet him in the breaking of this covenant, ver. 21. All his fugitives with all his hands shall fall by the sword, and they that remain shall be scattered towards all winds. I know not two scriptures more full for Gods being set to contend with men for breach of promise. Oh take heed all you that are intrusted in any publick trust that you break not covenant.

And as you have examples of this in the Scripture, so there is also an example or two in History which are exceeding full for this purpose. I suppose that is known unto you of Rodolphus, who having set his hand to a Covenant with Hen­ry the fourth which he afterward brake, and his right hand co­ming to be cut off, his conscience accused him, Oh saith he, This is that right hand that subscribed the Covenant, and now God re­vengeth the breach of it upon this right hand. But above all that is the most remarkable that is in the History of the Hungarians, concerning Ʋdislaus the King of Hungary, and Amurath the great Turk; they report that Ʋdislaus making war with A­murath, having before promised the contrary; in a battle between them the Turk had the worst of it, AMURATH being there and having with him the Covenant made between the King of Hungary and him, and seeing himself put to the worst, he plucked forth the Covenant out of his bosom and with his eyes fixed toward Heaven he speaks thus, This Oh Jesus Christ is the Covenant that thy Christians have struck with me, O holy Jesus they have done it in thy Name and sworn by thy Ma­jestie, and yet they have violated it, they have perfidiously denied their God; Now Oh Jesus if thou beest a God as they say and as we guess thou art, revenge this wrong that is done unto me and unto thy [Page 29] self upon these that have violated their faith and promise, and do thou shew unto us that do not know thy Name that thou art an avenger of such as betray their trust, and then we shall know thee to be a God. Now just upon this God so ordered it that the Hungarians ha­ving the better of the day, they through covetousness of the prey broke off the fight & fel upon the loaden Camels, where­upon the Turks totally routed the Hungarians, Ʋdislaus their King was slain, and a famous Victory left unto Amurath.

Thus you see how God will be avenged for the breach of trust, certainly God will follow those that have been guilty of it; we see it apparantly how God follows them already. And indeed if we have to deal with men that are popishAs Ro­dolphus & Vdislaus were. how is it possible that we can confide in them in any thing they promise, in any thing they agree to? For we know it is their very opinion, that fides non servenda hereticis, faith is not to be kept with hereticks; This Is their opinion they hold, that for the Catholick Cause they may break al their trust, promises and covenants. Certainly that people are besotted that shal so depend upon those that are Papists and carried away by Pa­pists, as to lay their lives, their liberties, and their outward comforts at their feet, at their mercy; for certainly there is no truth in them. The Nations of the earth are even besot­ted in this, that they will ever make any covenant, any league with Papists who hold such an opinion that they may break all their Covenants for the Catholick cause. What a case should we be in if we lie down at the mercy of those that have no truth in them, when afterwards we shall find they break assunder al their bonds of agreement and all their covenants, & then we our selves know that this was their opinion before, and that they would enter into league and make peace with us meerly to serve their own turns, and when they have what they would have then to make our estates, lives, and liberties to be a prey to them? But we must let that passe, only this in a word added to it.

Nor no Mercy.] The Merciful God sets himself against Un­merciful men, and hath a dreadful controversie against them; And when this controversie cometh to be pleaded, Unmerci­ful men will be confounded before the Lord; For God will [Page 30] lay his plea thus, What you that stood in so much need of mercy every moment to keep you out of Hell; You that lived upon mercy continually as you breathed in the air; You who are begging at my gates every day? You who are undone for ever it you had not mercy supplied every hour, and yet You unmerciful to your brethren? This plea wil stop the mouths of all Unmerciful ones. It was the controversie that God had with Sodom it self, bec [...]use they were Unmerciful: Much more than hath God a controversie with the inhabitants of the land of Israel if they be unmerciful. Ezek. 16.49. there God laies his charge, his plea against Sodom, That they did not strengthen the hands of the poor. Unmercifulness it is a sin against the very light of nature. Josephus in his 15. book of Antiquities, Chap. 12. reports this of Herod that wicked and ungodly king that we reade of in the Gospel, That there be­ing a great famine in Judea, he melted all his movables of Gold and Silver that were in his Pallace, he spared nothing of his Plate either for the preciousness of the matter, or for the excellency of the fashion of it, no not so much as those vessels wherein he was daily served at his table, but he melted them all and made money of them, and sent this money into Egypt to buy Corn, which Corn he distributed unto the Poor, and he appointed Bakers to provide bread for such as were sick, and he provided raiment for the naked, because the sheep were likewise dead and the poor had no work; yea he sent to his neighbors the Syrians Corn that might be Seed-corn for them to sow the ground with. This was that wicked Herod, and yet in time of publick calamity thus merciful was he to the poor. Surely God must needs have a controversie with Israel then, with Christians then that have received so much mer­cy from the Lord if they shall be unmerciful in times of com­mon calamity. And if ever unmercifulness were a vile sin and provoked God against a people, it must needs do now at such a time as this, when there are so many objects of pity and com­miseration daily presented before us: If this should but prove to be our charg, that there is no mercy in the land at this day, God must needs have a fearful controversie against us. The [Page 31] whole land cannot be said to be charged now as at some time it might have been. Not long since in England there hath been crying out of violence and wrong, those which ruled o­ver us have ruled over us with violence, rigour, and cruelty, according to that complaint Ezek. 34.4. With cruelty and force have ye ruled my people. They have turned judgment to wormwood, Amos, 5.7. Their Courts of Juducature that should have been for right judgment have been turned into bitter wormwood and have been full of cruelty. What have many of them ca­red for the lives, for the comforts of thousands, for the extre­mitie of all misery they shall suffer, so be it their own humors and their own lusts might be satisfied, as if all other men were but as dogs except themselves? The Lord doth at this day charge this upon some of them, and will charge it more. I remember once a speech of a reverend Divine in this, Citie, now with God, whom you all honored when he was alive, being put into that Court, the high Commission, when he came home one day from thence he tells this story of what he observed there. I heard (saith he) crying out much of Grace, and please your Grace, and much crying out of peace, if there were any noise, then peace peace, but I saw no MERCY th [...]re saith he, nothing at all but Cruelty.

Jer. 50.17. you may see in what indignation God doth take it, for men though the greatest upon earth to be cruel to his people, This Nebuchad rezza [...] King of Babylon hath broken his bones; Who was this Nebuchad rezzar? A mighty great Prince, yet God looks upon him with indignation when he sees him breaking the bones of his people. We have amongst us those who as Psal 27.12. breath our cruelty, and indeed they act nothing less, there is cruel hatred in their hearts and waies, according to that Psalm, 25.19. No marvel therefore though heretofore our brethren left the Kingdome, because they found such cruelty here there was no mercy in the land; they did but according to that which the Church calleth the members of it to, Cant. 4.8. Come with me from Labanon from the Lyons dens, from the mountains of the Leobards. When they went from us, they went from the Lyons dens, and from the moun­tains [Page 32] of the Leopards; No marvel now the Lord is so severe against our Land, because there hath been so little mercy in the land. That is the second Article against Israel, That there was no Mercy.

The third is, Nor no Knowledg of God in the land.] In the Hebrew it is, And no knowledg; but now Vau that is there for And, it signifies sometimes quia, as well as et; And so it may indeed be well rendred here, Because there is no knowledg of God in the land; the reason why there is no mercy is because there is no knowledg of God: The knowledg of God will make wicked men to be merciful men. Cruel men know not God. These two are put together and joyned most elegantly in Psal. 74.20. The dark places of the earth are ful of the habitations of crueltie (saies the text.) The knowledg of God will make men civil and humane at least, but when there is no knowledg of God men grow cruel and savage. And do we not find this to be true at this very day? From what places are men that do now rise up to be plunderers, to shed blood, to be cruel in most desperate outrages, from what places are these men beholden for their assistors and abettors this way? Are they not behol­den to places where they are in ignorance, where they have no knowledg of God, where there is no preaching? In the Countries round about observe those Parishes, those Towns, where there hath been least or worst preaching, where they have had least knowledg of God, there you have most malig­nants, that are bloody and cruel. No mervail then that our adversaries are such enemies to the faithful preachers of the word of God; no marvel then they are made the But of their malice; for indeed if they bring the knowledg of God into the land they will bring humanitie, civilitie, they will bring mercy and love, and there wil be few or none that will be fit for their turns. Indeed it is their complaint of the Parliament that they set ignorant men in places, but certain­ly this complaint is but a pretence, for it were better for their turns that all the congregations in England had but ignorant men, had no men to bring the knowledg of God amongst peo­ple; but they know well enough what ever they say, that [Page 33] those that are sent are such as do bring the knowledg of God among people, and there is nothing does them more hurt than this knowledg of God.

No knowledg of God.] This is a heavy charge indeed: Powr out thy fury upon the Heathen that know thee not, Jer. 10.25. Though they be Heathens and yet know not God, the wrath of God is to be poured forth upon them, surely then Gods wrath must be upon Israel that know not God. And Isa 2 [...].11. They are a people of no understanding, therefore he that made them will not have mercy upon them, he that formed them will shew them no favour. 2 Thes. 1.8. The Lord Christ shall come in fla­ming fire to render vengeance upon those that know him not. What no knowledg of God? what glory then can God have from such a people? God hath done great things in the world, he hath manifested himself an infinite and a glorious God, and his end in all that he hath manifested himself in is, that An­gels and men might behold this, might adore, admire, wor­ship, fear, and praise him; but where there is no knowledg of God, there all Gods glory passeth by and there is no notice taken of it, to what purpose is the world made? such an one can never sanctifie the Name of God in any duty of worship. in the use of any creature: where there is no knowledg of God, there al good is kept out, there the unclean spirit a spirit of darkness dwels: when the Crow hath picked out the eyes of the Lamb then it makes a prey upon it; As in dark vaults there are toads and filthy creatures, so in dark soul there are crawling and filthy lusts; As in blind Alehouses there is a­bundance of disorder, so in a blind heart, there is abundance of distemper and disorder.

No knowledg of God.] The Septuagint turn this word Know­ledg [...] by a word that signifies acknowledgment, there is no acknowledgment of God in the land. People should walk so in all their waies as to hold forth the glory of that great God they do profess. If they know God to be such as he is revea­led in all his Attributes and works, they should in their lives (I say) so walk as to hold forth this before the children of men. I appeal to you in this: Perhaps some of you can [Page 34] speak concerning God, and tell us what God is, and concer­ning his Attributes, yet are your lives in your families, in your conversations, so as that one beholding them may see written the glorious Attributes of God upon them, that you hold forth these glorious Attributes, that in all your waies you carry with you the glory of the great God holding forth your fear of this God, your love of this God, and giving up your selves to this alsufficient God who is worthy of all. There should be thi [...] acknowledgment of God as well as knowledg, and God hath a controvers [...]e with a land with a-familie, with a particular soul when there is not an acknow­ledgment of God in their waies.

But no knowledg of God in the Land.] In the land, here is the Emphasis. Oh this is a very sad thing: What not in the land of Israel no knowledg of God? Psal. 76.1. In Judah is God known, his Name is great in Israel. It is expected that God should be known in their land, and for God not to be known there; he was not known to any people in all the world but Judah and Israel; and here ten Tribes are charged for not ha­ving the knowledg of God in their land. Surely they refused to know the Lord, they shut their eyes against the knowledg of God, they say to God, depart from us we desire not the knowledg of thy waies. Men may live where there is the means of knowledg and yet be ignorant all their daies. How many men of excellent parts in respect of all outward affairs, in the country and Citie, come and speak to them about mat­ters of State, they will speak understandingly about them, they have deep reaches for State affairs; speak to them about the affairs of Merchandize, of their trades, they will speak un­derstandingly; but speak to them about God, about Christ, about the things of eternal life, how poorly, how weakly, how childishly, how sottishly shall you have them speak about those things! Men of parts and living under much means yet may be very ignorant of the knowledg of God. Howso­ever the want of knowledg may seem to be a little matter, e­ven in pl [...]ces where there is means, yet let men know that it is a fearful brand of reprobation for people to live under the [Page 35] means and not to have the knowledg of God, 2. Cor. 4.3. If our Gospel be hidden, it is hidden to those that are lost. And it is pronounced as a great curse for a man to live without know­ledg, Job, 36.12. They shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledg. Oh how many at this day do perish by the sword and die without knowledge? It concerns us now to get the knowledg of God because the sword may be neerer us than we are aware of, and what will become of us if it fall out to be our portion to perish by the sword and to die with­out knowledg?

But though they had some means of knowledg, yet their means did grow very short. And there are two special reasons why Israel at this time was without knowledg, why there was no knowledg of God in the land of Israel.

First, Because that Jeroboam had in the defection of these ten Tribes of Israel, set up the lowest of the people in the place of the Priests Office. Any man that desired to be a Priest though never so base and vile, Jeroboam would set him up. In the 1 of King. 12.31. there you shal find it, He made an house of high, places, and made Priests of the lowest of the people which were not of the sons of Levi; no mervail then they had not the knowledg of God amongst them. Thus it hath been in Ire­land, and therefore no mervail so little knowledg of God there, any tradesman that scarce understood right reason, les [...] divinity, he was set up there to be a Priest, and what hor­rible cruelty hath been there! So in England: howsoever some of them complain of ignorant men that are in the Mi­nistry, the truth is they have set up men of far less understan­ding in former times: for a little money to a Bishops Clark might not any tradesman, any cast butlar from a gentlemans house, any cast servingman, might they not come into orders and reade their prayers and so become a Priest? This hath been the cause of much ignorance. How many cast Serving­men have had places in doing what they can do, when as learned and godly Divines must be cast out of the Kingdom and denied to have any libertie to preach the knowledg of God unto his own people! Here is the reason of our ignorance [Page 36] even that which was Jeroboams sin, the letting of the lowest of the people in the Ministrie; And now that there is an exami­nation of men, we find what abundance of vile men there are in places, and those people in those places are alike to them, such Prophet such People, and the truth is people love to have it so. That which is complained of, in 2 Chron. 15.3. that for a long season Israel had been without the true God, and without a teaching Priest. This Israel includeth both Judah and Israel, for sometimes it doth so in Scripture. Israel had been (saith he) without the true God and without a teaching Priest: thi [...] was a sad condition indeed that Israel should be without a teaching Priest, and without the Law; And mark how they are joyned, and without God; A people are without God that are without a teaching Priest, without the Law. If they have not means to instruct them in the knowledg of God they are a people without God. But now ma [...]k what follows up­on this, ver. 5. In th [...]se times the [...]e was no p [...]ace to him that went out, n [...]r to him that came in, but great vexations were upon all the inhabitants of the countries, and Nation was destroyed of Nation, and City of City, for God did vex them with all adversity. Truly our condition comes to be almost like to the condition of Israel at that time. And here we may see what the fruit of this contro­versie was, they were without a teaching Priest and without Law, and in those time; there was no peace to him that went out and to him that came in, but great vexation there was, Citie destroying Citie, and Nation destroying Nation, for God did vex them with all adversity. Oh how doth the Lord e­ven vex us at this very day! and this as a fruit of Gods con­troversie with us, because there is so little knowledg of God in the land.

And the second reason why there was so little knowledg of God in that land at that time, is this, Because the pure Worship of God and his Ordinances were s [...]ut out of doors, and mens inventions were brought in in the ro [...]m of them. For so it was, after the ten Tribes defection from Judah, then they left the right worship of God, to worship in the Temple at Jerusalem, and they set up their Calves in Dan & B [...]thel, and so brought in their own [Page 37] inventions instead of the true worship of God; And no mer­vail though there came dismall darkness upon the land when this was. That is certain my brethren, ‘When ever the pure Ordinances of God and the right way of his worship is shut out from a Kingdom, there will come wofull darkness upon that Kingdom.’ The right knowledg of God vanisheth when mens inventions in his Ordinances come to be honored. As painted glass in your windows hindereth the light, you may daub your glass by paint, but you will have the less light by that; so the more inventions of men there are in Gods worship the less light comes into the heart of the people. As some not contented with ordinary plain letters they make such flourishes about them that you can scarce tell what they are; you shall have some write their names with such flouri­shes that you can not tell what to make of them; so many men that will not content themselves with plain Ordinan­ces, with the Ordinances of Christ, but they must have flouri­shes of their own inventions, at length you know not what to make of them, they come to darken the right understanding of the mind and truths of God. To the Law and to the Testimo­ny, (saith the Prophet) if they speak not according to these it is be­cause there is no light in them. If they will leave the Law and the Testimony and will go according to their own inventions in Divine Worship, it is because there is no light in them, they are in darkness, and they will bring darkness upon the peo­ple. Colos. 2.22. it is said of the rudiments of the world and the Ordinances of men, th [...]t they perish in th [...] use: that is, there is no efficacy at all in them to do any good unto the souls of men. Our adversaries call Images and Pictures lay mens books to teach them; but the Scripture tels us they teach a lye; And if they be lay mens books, there are many Erra­taes in them, they are full af Errataes in every Page and more Errataes than true lines. The best that we can say of any Ceremonies brought into the Church by men, (because peo­ple would strive and study to excuse the first Reformers) that they thought at that time there was some use of them in re­g [...]rd of the dulness of men, for so they say in the Preface to [Page 38] the Common Prayer Book, that it was to stir up the dull minds of men. But mark, if it could possibly be imagined that there could be any use of them at the first, in the first Re­formation (which indeed there was not, but rather they did hurt and made mens minds more dull, as I dare appeal to you, those that have lived continually under such inventions of men in Gods worship.) But if possibly (I say) there could be imagined any use of them at the first, the best is that they were but as Horn book, and fistcue [...] for the childhood and in­fancy of the Church. They say themselves that they needed such things, but to put the best glosse on them, they needed them but as children need Horn books and fistcues. And is it seemly alwaies to learn upon them? what knowledg shall be got if when you set your children to learn to reade they shall be kept ten, twenty, or thirty years to their Horn books? Now thus would our Prelates have debased people to keep them continually to learn the knowledge of God by their Horn-books and fistcues.

Now take these two reasons together, Unteaching Priests, and Mans Inventions, they keep out the knowledge of God from a people; And they are brought on purpose to bring blindness, because that is most fit and sutable to the design that men have to bring people under slavery. So it was here, Jeroboam at that time when Hosea prophesied, his design was to bring the people under slavery, to keep them from the house of David to be his slaves, and what course doth he take? He first sets up the basest and lowest of the people to be their Priests: and secondly he introduceth false worship, and that brings in blindness and ignorance, and so by this means he knew he should soon bring them under slavery. And nothing is more cleer than this, that it hath been the design of many that would have been Rulers of the Church, they have la­bored with al their might, (as servicable unto others) to b [...]ing blindness and ignorance into the Land, that so they might bring the land under sl [...]very and there is nothing hath vex­ed them more, than that there is so much knowledge in the land, therefore their spiries were so enraged at peoples floc­king [Page 39] unto Sermons? it was even matter enough to silence any Minister to have people flocking to hear him preach; so they were enraged at peoples repeating of Sermons in their private families, because it was a way to bring in knowledge. Any thing that was a way to bring in knowledg, their hearts were enraged against it, why? Because they knew knowledg would keep men that they would never bear slavery; And truly it is a very strange thing, that though in some Countries (as in Wales and in other places) where men have not knowledge they are contented to come under slavery; but that in these parts where there is, though not so much as should be, yet such a degree of the knowledg of God as there is, one would think it impossible that men should suffer themselves to be brought into slavery here; and that they fear most. We reade of the Philistims that when they had taken Sampson, they put out his eyes, and then they made him to grind in the Mill. So these men would fain make us to grind in the Mill, (as it is said some have threatned to make the Dames of London to work for a peny a day in Bridewel) They would fain make you al slaves, but first they would put out your eyes, they would take away knowledge and then they know they shall soon make you slaves. Well, the Lord hath promised, Isa. 25.7 That he wil destroy the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all Nations; And mark: In that day (ver. 9.) it shall be said, Lo, this is our God, we have waited f [...]r him, and he will save us. O come Lord Jesus, come quickly and destroy the cove­ring, the vail that is upon the eyes and hearts of a great part of the people of this Lrnd. The work would soon be done if the Lord would but destroy the vail of darkness that is upon the eyes and hearts of people, and we should triumph in our God and say, Lo, this is our God, we have waited for him, and he will save us, yea he hath saved us. And thus much for that third Charge of this people here, That there was no know­ledge of God in the land. Now we come to the second Verse.

Verse 2.

By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and com­mitting adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.

YOU see what a Catalogue of gross sins are here mentio­ned. And indeed when Idolatry doth prevail in any Country, there will be all manner of wickedness. We found it so here in England, that the more superstitious wai [...]s pre­vail'd amongst us, the more abominable wickedness there was generally spread about the country.

First, For Swearing. The word here translated Swearing, it is of [...] and signifies Maledicere, Execrare; and likewise P [...]rjurare. It signifies these three things, to Curse, and to be Perjured, and to Swear. Any of these three this word impor­teth. And likewise it signifies sometimes to howl out, Eju­lare, [...] Joel 1.8. Lament like a Virgin girded with sackcloth &c. It is the same word, Lament, or howl out. So that the same word that signifies cursing and swearing and forswearing, signifies to howl and cry, for God hath a time to make cursers and swearers and forswearers to howl and cry out. An Oath is a sacred thing, a part of Gods worship, and therefore the a­busing of this is a dreadful sin; Especially if it be abused to swear to that which is false.In Aegypto siquu juret per Caput Regn & non praestet, morte ple­ctitur, nec permititur ut auto vel aliâ revitā redimat. Paulus Phagius in his Com­ment upon Genesis, 42. saith it is reported of the Egyptians, that if any man did but swear by the life of the King and did not perform his Oath, that man was to die, and n [...] gold or any thing in the world could redeem hi [...] life, so did Heathens hate that sin of per [...]urie. Yea we have found others that have not had much Religion in them, yet have extreamly hated the sin of ordinary swearing. I have read of Lewis the 9. of France, that he punished that sin by searing the lips of swea­rers with an hot Iron which Law being executed upon a Citiz [...]n of Paris, some said it was two cruel, which he hearing of, gave this answer, I would to God saith he, that with sea­ring mine own lips with an hot Iron, I could banish out of my Realm all abuse of Oaths. He could be willing to sea [...] [Page 41] his own lips that he might banish the abuse of swearing. Chrysostom in some 16. Homelies together if not more, [...]. Hom. 11. Ad pop. Antioch. what­soever his text was he alwaies concluded against swearing, as being such a vile and notorious sin: And amongst other things because some pleaded custom, he putteth them upon this, saith he, if you would but punish it thus, that if there were an oath sworn in your house, he that swore should but ab­stain but from one meals meat; that that servant or that child that swore an oath should not dine that day, that would do somewhat, yet saith he, the command of God will not do so much as that. Divers other expressions I might name, but I must hasten. That place Jer. 23.10. is remarkable for this and sutable to this text, For because of swearing the land mour­neth, the pleasant places of the wilderness are dried up, and their course is evil, and their force is not right.

It is a sin that hath more malignancy in it against God by how much the less the temptation is unto it. I verily beleeve that if God had never made the third Commandement, there would never have been so many Oaths in the world, but it springs from a meer malignancy of spirit that is in men against God because he hath forbidden it; For there is no profit that can come by it.

If men be guilty of thi [...] sin meerly thorough a vain custom, what high indignitie is this against God? what slighting and neglect of God is there? As if sinning against God were an argument of no more weight but that the using of a thing without any reason, when nothing can be got by it, could down-weigh that argument. Custom indeed is enough to prev [...]il in things that are of no moment, a now, some man that hath by custom gotten such a kind of posture of his body, or taking hold of hi [...] beard and the like, such a kind of gesture he hath gotten by custom and he cannot leave it, why? be­cau [...]e the thing in its own nature hath no great consequence in it, and so custom prevaileth; But that custom should be e­nough to be set against the high displeasure of the blessed God or be set [...]gainst his solemn professi [...]n that he will not hold that soul guiltless that takes his name in vain, this argu­eth [Page 42] a most insufferable vilifying his sacred Majestie.

Secondly, To swear that thereby the words of men may be graced, this is more horrid impiety; As if the polluting of the holy Name of the most holy God were the best ornament of thy speech, as if the dishonour put upon God were the best grace to thy language.

Thirdly, To swear out of a conceit that this argueth brave­ness of spirit, a braver spirit than other men have, a spirit of valor and courage, as if according to the fulness of mouthing of Oaths there were a braveness of spirit, this yet is more hide­ous wickedness; As if that were the courage and excellency of our spirits to fly in the very face of God. Whence it is that many men if any anger them, what do they do? they fall a cursing and swearing, that is, when others displease them they will fly in Gods face, that is the language of it though you will not dare to say so, but that is the language of your practice, others displease and anger me and I to revenge my self will fly in the very face of God. A hiddeous wickedness there is in this that you do not think of. You that are passi­onate spirits when you come home and your wives and chil­dren or servants anger you, you fall to cursing and swearing, Know you do no other but this, this is the language of your practice, they displease me and to revenge my self I will fly in the very face of God; And whence it is that Gentlemen and Noble-men and those that belong unto them are such great swearers, because they imagine that it is an argument of some braveness of spirit, and that thereby they express a spirit of a higher strain than other men. Oh hiddeous and abomina­ble wickedness! This is all the valour that many men have that they da [...]e sin against the glorious God and never be trou­bled at it; wherea a godly man is described in Scripture, Eccles. 9.2. To be a m [...] th [...]t feareth in Oath; but for these it is not for them to fear, it is for tim [...]rous melanch [...]lly poor spi­ri [...]s, but they are m [...]n of b [...]ave spirits, [...]nd they would have men know th [...]t they can swear and not be troubl [...]d at it, they have stronger spirits than o her m [...]n h [...]ve. Thu [...] is the bles­ [...] God di [...]honored by this sin more than we are aware of.

There is a fourth sort that are higher than these, and those are they that swear that they may not be accounted Puritans or of the number of such a faction; Because where they go if they be but suspected to be savorers of such kind of men as were heretofore named by that nick-name and now are by a­nother; (I say) if they go into company where they think they may be suspected to be inclined to that partie, what do they? They do, to give evident demonstration to the contra­ry, swear lustily, and rap out Oaths one after another. Oh what horrible opposition unto God and unto the Spirit of Christ is this, Christ saith, That our light must so shine before men that they seeing o [...]r good works m [...]y glorifie our heavenly Father; Now they let their wickedness appear before men that they may be known what they are: And hereby they give testi­mony that they can be brought to yeild unto any thing, that is the very ground of it, they do (I say) by that give testimo­ny to the other party, that they can be brought to yeild un­to any thing and that they can serve their turns; and this is the reason why willingly they would entertain no other than such as these, for if they hear a man swear lustily then they think thus, such a man surely either hath no conscience at all and then he is fittest for our turn he will not be a scrupulous fool, or if he have a conscience he hath broke his conscience and now his conscience cannot prevail over him, therefore now l [...]t us put upon him what we will if it may sute with his own ends and with his own profit, this man will do it; but as for your Puritans that are so consciencious we cannot have our own ends by them, therefore we will have none of them, that is the reason why they do so much hate them and others that they might be entertained by them and give full testimo­ny that they are fit for their turns, therefore they will swear. Oh how black are mens mouths at this day by their cursed Oaths new execrations newly invented, that the world never before heard of! Wherefore then, though God might ma [...]e these men as scorpions for a while to scurge us, ye [...] if our spi­rits were up we need not fear them, for certainly they are the people of Gods curse, those that are so full of curses in th [...]ir [Page 44] mouths. Thus much for the first.

I [...] follows, By swearing,

And Lying.] These two go together: There is no man that makes not conscience of an Oath, that can make conscience of a Lye; though the world would think to part them and say, Oh you will not swear but you will lye; but God saith otherwise. Swearing and Lying go together, those that will swear, certainly will lye. But for Gods own people, God frees them from this sin, from lying though the world would cast it upon them, for there is no sin more a­gainst godliness than lying. Isa 63.8. saith God of his peo­ple, Surely they are my people, children that will not lye. God en­gageth himself for his people, these are the people that will not lye saith God. Are you in profession any of Gods peo­ple? God doth engage himself for you in this, that certainly you will not lye. It is said of the Devil, that he is a Lyar and the father of lyes. And women that carry false tales up and down and are slanderers, in Scripture they are called Devils, 1 Tim. 3.11. Women must he grave and sober, not sl [...]nderers; Diabo­lus, not Devils; A women that is a slanderer, that carries false tales up and down to the prejudice of her neighbor, the Scrip­ture cals that woman by the name of a Devil; And the word that signifies Detractor in the Hebrew it is Rachil, [...] and some think our English word Rake-hel comes from that word, one that makes no conscience to speak falsly.

This sin of Lying is the breaking of all society, there can be no converse between man and man where this i [...]. Augustine writing to his friend that sent to him to have his Judgement concerning an Officious lye (that is, a ly that tends not to the hurt of any but of him that tels it) he writes back his answer, That a man must n [...]t tell a lye to save the whole world, If it were (saies he) to save thy father or thy mother out of Hell, if p [...]ssibly it could [...]e, thou must n [...]t tell a lye; if it were to s [...]ve Kingdoms from destruction, th [...]u must not tell a lye. That is his opinion: And certainly there is a truth in it, for God will never be behol­den to the Devil to do good through his means. Surely then thou must not tell a lye to gain a groat, or to gain a shilling, [Page 45] or to gain a good bargain, or to prevent the displeasure of thy Master or Mistris, but rather willingly open the truth than to think to cover the fault by a lye. The ground of that is Atheisme that servants and children when they have done a­miss seek to cover it by a lye. God is exceedingly displeased with this sin, and hath a controversie against a Nation, and a­gainst a family, and against a particular person for this sin of lying, and therefore Prov. 6.17. and so on, you shall find if you read divers verses together, that the Lord saith, That six things he hateth, yea seven is an abomination unto him; now a­mongst those seven things you shall observe that he repeats lying twice, though under seveval terms;Prov. 6.17 Opened, And that place i [...] famous that we have in Revel. 21.8. that lyars shall have their portion in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone; Take that home with you, you servants, and children, and tradesmen that will tell lyes for gain; God doth rank and chain up lyars together with notorious sinners that shall all have their portion in the lake of fire and brimstone which is the second death.

There are none in the world that make such advantage of lying as the Antichristian party doth, either to draw a party to themselves or discourage those that are against them, in­venting all manner of lyes that possibly can be. And because they invent so many themselves, wh [...]tsoever is said against them, you presently hear in m [...]lignants mouths, That's a lye; they think all men are lyars because they are conscious unto themselves, that they themselves are continually so. And no mervail that the Antichristian party are so full of lyes for the very Doctrine of Popery, take the lump of it. it is altogether call'd a lye, 2 Thes. 2.7.2 Thes. 2.7. Ex­pounded. God gave men over that did not en­tertain the truth in the love of it to bele [...]ve a lye that they might be damned. Do you ask the question why so many Learned men, Schollers, understanding men turn to the Popish party? Mark the reason here, because they enter [...]in'd not the truth in love, God gave them over to beleeve a lye, A lye, what is that? that is the Doctrine of Popery; So the very quintessence of it, it is a lye. That being therefore the great lye in the [Page 46] world it must have a company of little lyes (as I may say) to underprop it, to uphold that great Lye of Popery, a compa­ny of lesser lyes, Esa. 28.15. they make lyes their refuge. It is a text as notable for our times as any I know, it shews the pra­ctice of our times, when they cannot get any thing by any fair way, then they invent lyes and make lyes their refuge. It is the Maxim of the Jesuites, C [...]lumniare audacter, aliquid herebit, Calumminate and ly stoutly to purpose and somewat will stick, for every one that shall hear of the report shall not come to hear of the answer that can be given to it. And that is their policie, to spread abroad lyes as much as they can, and especially to invent lyes of those that are most eminent and a­ctive in publick affairs; and that is the reason of those strange inventions that are raised of such as are most active in Parlia­ment, and also in the City and in the Ministry, things so hi­deous, that if they were true would render men altogether unfit to be entertained in a Common-wealth. But you will say, what can they get by it when it proveth to be false? Yes, because their lye [...] spread a great way further than the answer to them can spread: And those in Jer. 20.10. do fully set out the condition of these men; I heard the defaming of many (saith the Prophet) how? Report say they, and we will report it. This was their plot against Jeremiah; the truth i [...] we must defame Jeremiah, we see he hath got a great deal of credit and pre­vails with the people, and we know not how to help our selves, only if we can but defame him, if we can but raise up something that may take away his esteem with the people, we may then have our end,Ier 20.10. Opened. therefore devise somewhat, report and we will report it, we will spread it abroad, we will put it into a frame and print it: As now, if a company of Malig­nants get into a Tavern, there they wil talk against this Mini­ster and the other, against thi [...] Parliament man and the other, against this Citizen and the other, what shall we do say they? we see they prevail, let us devise somewhat that may defame them, report somewhat and we will spread it. This hath been the way to this day to maintain that Antichristian par­tie, that great Lye. Jer. 9.3. They bend their tongue like their [Page 47] bow for lyes, and ver. 5. They have taught their tongue to speak lyes; They are now become artificial in it, and they do it the ra­ther because they know it will please some great ones. It was so in former times, Pro. 29.12. If a Ruler hea ken to lyes all his servants are wicked; If any Officer, or any that are about him see that it will humour him to raise ill reports against Gods servants, the servants of such a Ruler will be wicked and raise lyes enow. And amongst other places that is famous, Hos. 7.3.Hos. 7.3. the text saith there, They make the King glad with their wickedness, and the Princes with th [...]ir lyes. Opened. It is spoken of J [...]roboam and the other Kings that followed him, that set up false wor­ship; How there were a great many in Israel whose consciences would not give them leave to follow that way of false worship; upon that there were a company of Promoters and Appari­tors and Baylifs, and some Courtiers, they would invent lyes against those that would needs go up to Jerusalem to worship and would not content themselves with the Calves that the King set up; Now when they had invented lyes of some of the most zealous men amongst the people, they brought these tales to the King, and said thus, Did your Ma­jestie hear such a thing? There are such men in your Majesties dominions that dwell in such To [...]ns, and they are forsooth so scrupulous, they will not be content with that Religion that the Law hath established, but they must go up to Jerusa­lem to worship, yea, and at s [...]ch a [...] m [...] they get into a corner and there they commit s [...]ch and such wickedness, and they live in these and these wicked waie [...]; And thus they came and told the King t [...]les of them, and the text sai [...]s, They mad [...] the King glad with their tales, the King was tickled with it and rejoyced at it, and he gave them his hand, gave them encou­ragement. Cert [...]inly amongst u [...] there hath not been wanting men that have endeavoured this, that w [...]ld have accounted this their happiness to get a t [...] i [...] [...]o tell of a Puritan or of a godly Mini [...]er, though it were never so false. Thus we have briefly pa [...] over this second charge in this second verse, [...]wea­ [...]ng, and Lying.

The next follows. The Lord hath a contr [...] [...] with [...] [Page 48] of the land for Murder, for Killing. Murder, that is a provoking sin, God seldom suffers it to go unrevenged in this world. Whence are all those discoveries of Murders; scarce any one but can tell strange stories of the discovery of murder. We have a vain distinction of murder & man-slaughter as 'tis call'd, that forsooth if a man be angry and in a passion kills a­nother, thi [...] is man-slaughter and no murder: God will not own that distinction, for if you shall by your passion make your self a beast, and so kill a man, God will require this at your hand, for Gen 9.5. God saith that he will r [...]quire the blood of man at the hand of every beast, much more at the hand of a man that by his passion makes himself a beast. The life of a man is precious to God and God will not suffer any creature to have absolute power over it, he keeps the dominion of mens lives unto himself. Mr. Ainsworth upon Gen. 9.6. citeth the the Jewish Doctors, affirming that a Murderer though it were possible for him to give all the riches of the world, yet he must be put to death, because the life of the murdered is the possessi­on of the most holy God; this is their argument. Certainly it is not in the power of any man upon earth to save a murde­rer be he what he will be. The greatest man upon earth hath no liberty from God, no prerogative to save a Murde­rer, but he that sheds blood by man must his blood be shed. God avengeth the blood that Manasseh shed a long while after his death, 2 King. 24.4. And for innocent blood that he shed which God would not pardon. Though Maness [...]h did repent and so we have cause to hope wel in regard of his soul and his eter­nal estate,Though Calvin seems to be of the contrary opinion. Deut. 28. yet the Lord came upon the Nation after his daies and would not pardon his shedding of innocent blood. What adoe do we find in the Law concerning the killing of a man? When a man was found dead in the field nigh unto a City the Elders of that City they must come to the dead body, wash their hands over the heifer to be slain and [...]ake a solemn Oath that they had no hand in the murder and so clear the City from the guilt of it. This shews how precious the life of man is in Gods esteem and that God hath a controvers [...]e with a land for shedding of blood.

And if this be so, what a controversie think you hath God against many in this Kingdom at this day? How fearful is Gods controversie against some that must feel it for that blood that hath been shed in Ireland? There is upon record one hundred and forty thousand that have been murdered there since the beginning of this rebellion, and every body wil say, it is plain murder. And they whosoever they are that have had a hand in this, and abetted it, and strengthened the hands of the Murderers, what will they be able to answer unto God? Shall the blood of one righteous Abel cry loud in the ears of God and never leave crying untill it hath had vengeance, and shall not the blood of one hundreth and forty thousand inno­cents? (I mean innocents in this regard, in regard of the cause for which they were murdered:) We now in England begin to be somewhat sensible of the guilt of Murder what it is to have it lie upon a Nation. In the last Declaration of the affairs of Ireland, the Parliament giveth an intimation of some fear they have that possibly the guilt of the blood of King James may some way be upon US. God hath a contro­versie for murder wheresoever it lies, if it be not punished ac­cordingly. And for all that blood that hath been shed here of late, where ever the cause lies, God will find it out one day. Oh the blood that will be upon the head of some! Jer. 51.35. The violence done to me and to my flesh, be upon Babylon, shall the inhabitants of Zion say, and my blood upon the inhabitants of Caldea, shall Jerusalem say. So let all Christians (they may do it and they have warrant from God to do it) let all Godly people in this Kingdom that have had their Husbands kill'd, their Children kill'd, their Apprentices kill'd, their Friends kill'd in these unhappie wars, let them say, the violence done to my flesh be upon the Babylonish party, the Popish partie, and the blood that hath been shed of our husbands, of our chil­dren, of our servants, of our friends be upon the inhabitants of Caldea, the inhabitants of the Popish partie that are risen up and shed so much blood as they have done. Oh how vile and cursed are mens hearts even in this thing, that are so set upon their designs, that to attain them they will go thorough [Page] streams of blood that lie in their way, and no matter for the liv [...]s of thousands of men so their lusts may be satisfied! How are men vilified in this thing, that their lives and bodies must go to be servicable unto the lusts of a few other [...]! Certainly God never made such a difference, he never put such a distance between one man and another.

But now in the waies of execution of justice there we must not account the shedding of blood to be killing. God hath not a [...]ontroversie with a land for bloodshed in the execution of Justice; nay on the contrary the Lord hath a controversie against a people when there is not shedding of blood that way Jer. 48.10. Cursed be the man that withholds his hand from blood. such a case may be. And 1. King. 20.42. when Ahab let Ben­hadad go, the text saith that a Prophet came to him, in the name of the Lord saying, Because thou h [...]st let go out of thy hand, a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore thy life shall go for his life, and thy people for his people. So when we have men in our hands whom God hath appointed to destruction, who are guilty of death, who have sought not the blood of some few but the massacring of a Citie, if for private ends of our own we let them go, God may require our lives for theirs. And this is the cause it may be amongst others, that there is so much bloodshed at this day amongst us, because there is no execution of Justice upon offenders, and God requires the blood of many for many. It is true, Papist [...] for their Religi­on are not to be put to death: that we acknowledg, but the Lord because he intendeth the ruin of that partie, will leave them to those waies that they shall be guilty of death by the Law of the Land, and by the Law of Arms, and then the put­ting them to death in that kind is the execution of Justice and not the breach of the sixth Commandement.

Quest. But will som say, Oh killing is a grievous thing, we never were acquainted with killing as we have been of l [...]te; were it not better we were all at peace than that still so much blood should be shed?

Answ. God forbid any of us should be bloody men or desire the shedding of blood. No, let us all labour to have peace tha [...] [Page 51] there may be no more bloodshed. Take this speech barely considered and it is a good speech, and we are all I hope of the same mind, Cursed be that man I say that shall not yeild to this. But certainly peace though upon hard terms, it were to be desired, if that peace would save blood; though half our estates went for it; But what if it prove that that peace we talk of should be a means of more bloodshed? If you should let in such men into your City as bloody Papists, French, Wal­loons, and Irish Rebels, and that meerly upon their bare word that they would do you no hurt, do not you think if they were once in, that you would every night be in danger of mas­sacring? and would there not be much more bloodshed than yet hath been? Therefore let not men say that those are bloo­dy men that will not yeild up their throats to bloody men, that will stand up to defend their brethren from being massa­cred; but they stand up and take up Arms, not to shed blood but to prevent the shedding of blood: For certainly if the Citie and Country had in the beginning of these wars rose up as one man and gone into the field, they might have saved a­bundance of blood that hath been shed. Many thousands that have now lost their lives might have been preserved if you had took up Arms to more purpose sooner than you did: But when every County looks to it self, and the enemy goes to such a County and there sheds blood, and then to another and there sheds blood, and you sit still and do nothing, God may require the blood of your brethren at your hands; and you cannot clear your selves from being guilty of the sheding of the blood of your Brethren when you do not appear to the uttermost you are able to subdue the power of those that shed their blood. We cannot see any way to keep the blood that i [...] now in our veins, but by subduing the Malignant and Anti­christian partie that have already tasted so much of the blood of the Saints, that they are like the Country-mans dog—

And so those Irish Rebels that in Ireland have tasted so much blood, and now are come over hither to joyn with Papists, you cannot in any way of sense and reason imagin any safety but by subduing that partie. Is that a way to prevent the shed­ding [Page 52] of your blood to lay your necks upon the block, for that which commeth under such a specious name, may be in truth no other but a laying your necks upon the block, and giving up your wives and children to be a sacrifice to their ma­lice.

The Lord hath a controversie for Blood. We know when we have to deal with Papists what they have been of old, and therefore we hope God hath a controversie with that partie, that as they have drunk the blood of the Saints, so they shall at last swell and burst themselves in pieces. In France they had as good terms of Agreement as we can expect in the time of that Massacre, and yet Histories tel us of more than ten thou­sand Protestants that were murdered in one night in Paris, and that at that time when they were in as fair a way of peace as possibly could be, and there was a Marriage solemnized and a great deal of rejoycing for the Union of one partie with another, and yet (I say) in that night so many were slaine; and you may expect no other if the Malignant partie get po­wer. You will say, They have not done so to other Cities which they have taken. No, they have not got the day yet, they are but in their design yet if once they get this Citie, then they have got the day, and having gotten the day, you may expect all manner of cruelty from them. And this Mas­sacre in France went on to other Cities, for within a few daies after there were fourty thousand more computed to be mur­dered. I remember that Historie of France tels us of that King Charls the 9th by whose Commission this was done, that af­terward God struck him with such a disease, as that there is­sued out of his body at several places nothing but blood, so that in that sickness he would sometimes fall down and wal-himself in his own blood, Be men great or small, yet being guilty of blood, at one time or other the Lord will manifest that he hath a controversie against them. And so much for that third Charge.

The fourth follows, and that is, [Stealing.] God setteth bounds as to mens habitations, so to mens estates, and he will not have one break, in upon another; no not so much as to [Page 53] covet that which is anothers. In seeking therefore an encrease of our estates, to get in any sinful way, in that we do as it were say Gods care is not over me to provide needful things for me, seeing I cannot have them from God I will see if I can have them from the Devil. This is the language of all kind of gain that we get by any unlawful way; you do not say so in words indeed, but this is the language of your actions. Saith a poor body, well, I see I am in want, I want bread for my family, and cloaths, and many outward comforts, money to pay my Rent &c. I see in Gods providence he doth not pro­vide for me, well, I will go unto the Divil then, I will see whether the Devill will do more for me than God; I cannot have it by Gods allowance, for if I might have it by his allo­wance I might have it by lawful means, therefore saith he I will have it whether God will or no. This is the language of all kind of stealing; And the curse of God is upon that that is got so unjustly, and all the repentance in the world is not sufficient for such a man as hath gotten his estate unjustly, un­less he make restitution of it again to the uttermost of his po­wer.

And this stealing is not only meant of your Pilferers or Robbers by the high way, or such as cut purses, but any wrongful gain that is gotten by way of trade. If I were preaching of this argument at large, much might be said to those that live by a way of trade. But for the present take that one Scripture, Ezek. 28.18. Thou hast defiled thy sanctua­ries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick. Let Merchants and Tradesmen that have gotten any thing un­lawfully, take this text home with them, Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries, by the iniquitie of thy traffick. It may be by trafficking unjustly you have gotten such an estate, and you come to Gods sanctuaries as if you were very holy, and no bo­dy should suspect you for your false books and gettings that way, God saith in this Text that you defile all the Ordinan­ces by the iniquitie of your Traffick. Perhaps you think af­ter you have gotten unjustly, to give somewhat to adorn such a place as this 'tis well enough; but you do defile them.

So for all kind of oppression, that is meant by stealing too. Latimer in one of his Sermons before King Edward, saith, that the greatest man in the Kingdom cannot hurt an oppressing man, so as a poor widdow may; and with what arms I pray saith he? Can he bring the Judges skin over his ears? The arms are these, the tears of the poor run down from their cheeks and go up to Heaven and there cry for vengeance. So that the text here speaks not of the meanest but of the greatest theeves. Saith Calvin upon the place, those that had the most power by their honor and riches and were oppressors of the people, they are the theeves here spoken of. And Isa. 1.23. Your Princes are rebellious and companions of Theeves. And Isa. 33.1. When you shall cease to spoil you shall be spoiled: This is a text for our spoilers at this day, it may be God will let them go on till they have done their work, and then God cometh upon them, and then, not at the first when they begin to spoil, but when they have done spoiling they shall be spoiled. Oh this controversie seems to be upon England that was threatned and was upon the people in that place we reade of, Isa. 42.22. This is a people robbed and spoiled, they are all of them snared in holes. If they had come into the field, perhaps it had been better with them, but they crept into holes and they are snared and spoi­led: They are a prey and none delivereth them, they are for a spoil and none say, restore; Who amongst you will give ear to this? Mark what the text saith, Who amongst you will hearken and hear for the time to come? Who gave Jacob to the spoil and Israel to the robbers? Did not the Lord, he against whom you have sinned? for they would not walk in his waies, neither were they obedient unto his Law; there­fore he hath powred upon them the fury of his anger, he hath set them on fire, and who hath laid it to heart? We are a people robbed and spoiled, and it is upon this, because we have not walked in the waies of God nor been obedient to his law, and the Lord hath powred his fury upon England at this day, and his fire burneth, and who hath laid it to heart? No body stirs, be­cause the fire is not kindled in the City you lay it not to heart and you suffer your brethren one Country after another to be spoiled. Take heed, if you stir not more than you have done, [Page 55] as many of you may answer for the blood of your brethren, so for the spoiling of their goods, because you do not lay to heart this heavy judgment that is upon the land at this day, The execution of this controversie.

But yet in times of war you must know, that the taking away of all mens goods otherwise than meerly by the positive Law of the Land, is no stealing, nor no breach of the eighth Com­mandement, for it is against common sense and reason that in times of war we should be wholly tied to those positive Laws of a State that are made for times of peace: But it is accor­ding to the Law of Nature, to the Law of God, to the Law of Arms that our enemies should be deprived of what may strengthen them against us. Therefore let none cry out of stealing and robbing in these times; Indeed it is not fit that any should be suffered to be as robbers, but yet it is just that those that will not be on one side should be taken as enemies to the other; and (I say) it is agreeable to the Law of Nature, and to the Law of God, and to the Law of Arms, that in times of war, when the war is just (in which I hope you can­not but be fully satisfied) that what may strengthen the ene­my, may be taken away. Indeed they plead for Law who wholly break it themselves, because they would have all the priviledg they can to strengthen themselves by our goods and the goods of others; but certainly God giveth us allowance, being in a lawful war, to strengthen our selves by the estates and goods of those that appear enemies unto us, without breach of peace or the positive Law of the land, or his own Commandement. Thus much for the fourth charge.

The fifth is, [Committing Adultery.] The generation of a rational creature who must live unto all eternity, is a work that God challengeth a special hand in, to appoint it to all at his pleasure, therefore the breach of Gods Order in this, and the casting filth upon this to satisfie the brutish lust of a man or woman, it is a most cursed evil, against which God hath a most dreadful controversie. It is a breach of the bles­sed Covenant of God, and a sin that is most opposite to Gods Nature. And take that text all you that are guilty of this; [Page 56] for perhaps many seem not to be guilty, that are professors of Religion and live fairly amongst their neighbors, & yet may be secretly guilty of it too; take that text home with you, Prov. 22.14. That the abhorred of the Lord shall fall into the pit of the whore. Go thy waies in that condition wherein thou art, thou canst know no otherwise by thy self but that thou art the man or the woman that art abhorred of God. Thou art beloved of thy Whore, but God abhorreth thee. And Tertullian spea­king upon that place Eph. 5.6. Let no man deceive you with vain words; Nunquā mac [...]o aut fornicatori secundam paenitentiā esse per­missā. Dui mae­chiam con­cienatur esse remis­sibilem. He admitted but 1. repentance after bap­tisme. See lib. de peniten­tiâ, & de pudicitiâ. he that expression which I confess I would not dare to have; These are (saith he) vain words, be that preacheth of repen­tance to adultery, especially adultery in a forcible way, he deceiveth men with vain words. You may see how he apprehended the sin; we dare not justifie what he saith in that, but only shew you how dreadful he apprehended the sinne to be. And in another place, speaking of the sin that is unpardonable, in Heb. 6. he hath this expression, We never read, (saith he) or ever knew a second repentance promised to an adulterer or fornicator. These were his thoughts of Adultery. The Athenians made a law, That if any man found his wife in the act of adultery, he might presently kill her. And I have read of a people among the Heathens, that have punished this sin for the filthiness of it, by putting the adulterers head into the panch of a beast where the filth of it lay, and so stifled him. If Heathens hated it so much, surely God must have a controversie with those that profess themselves Christians because of this sin. And the greater controversie because it is so little punished by men. And though many great ones can get beyond punishment by man, yet they cannot get beyond this controversie. I remember Mr. Cleaver reports of one that he knew that had committed the act of uncleanness, and in the horrour of cons­cience he hung himself, but before when he was about to hang himself, he writes in a paper and left it in a place, to this ef­fect, Indeed saith be, I acknowledg it to be utterly unlawful for a man to kill himself, but I am bound to act the Magistrates part, be­cause sin punishment of this sin it death. God would have that sin punished with death, but the Magistrate did not punish it [Page 57] accordingly, therefore he in horrour of conscience laies vio­lent hands upon himself. We justifie not his act, but it shews what a controversie God hath with men that commit this sin. Thou committest that abominable sin, and thou hast some pleasure and delight in it, Go thy way, thou art a dead man in Gods eyes, look to thy self, one way or other God may bring death upon thee, and though mans Law take not hold upon thee, God may thou knowst not how soon. I have read of a King of Navarre that by adultery had weakned his body very much, and in regard of that, his Physitians caused his bo­dy to be wrapt about with a Cerecloath dipt in Aqua-vitae, and the party that sowed the Cerecloath, having done, went to burn off the threed with a candle, which presently took hold of the cloath and consumed both it and the King.

And as God hath a controversie for this sin which is so lit­tle punished by mans Law, which by Gods Law is death; so the rather hath God a controversie for this sin if it be commit­ted by men of knowledg, by learned men, by men that are in publick places, by men that carry a shew of holiness, by men that are in the Ministry, If they commit it God hath a dread­full controversie with them in a special manner. Jer. 29.23. The Lord make thee like Zedekiah and like Ahab, whom the King of Babylon rosted in the fire, because they committed villany in Israel, and have committed adultery with their neighbors wives. It was a proverb,Jer. 29.32. opened, The Lord make thee like Zedekiah and Ahab whom the King of Babylon rosted in the fire: This was not King Zedekiah and King Ahab, but two false Prophets that were called by that name, and they were unclean wretches, and though it were the King of Babylon, a Heathen, yet he so hated that sin of adultery that he caused them to be rosted in the fire, for that was the punishment of that Nation for capital offences, to burn or rost the offenders in the fire. Therefore those who are Ministers that are learned men, that have any shew of ho­liness more than others, if they be guilty of this sin God hath a most dreadful controversie with them.

And see how we should have a controversie too ag [...]nst this sin of uncleanness, especially when it is in a forced way. Judg. [Page 58] 20.27. you shall reade there that there was four hundred thousand men, all men of war that were raised up as one man, and they all said (vers. 8.) we will not any of us go to his t [...]nt, neither will we any of us [...]urn into his house: And upon what did all these men rise? Chap. 19. the cause was only this, that there was a Levite that had a Concubine, which C [...]ncubine had plaid the harlot and had gone from the Levite, he going to fetch hi [...] Concubine whom the men of Gib [...]ah a City of Ben­jamin, came in a violent way and ravished his Concubine until she died, upon thi [...], the Levite took the dead body and divi­ded it into twelve several pieces, and sent them into all the coasts of Israel, and wisht them to consider what i [...] don [...]. Up­on this the hearts of all the men of Israel were rais [...]d a [...] one man, and covenanted among themselves that they [...]ould none of them turn into their houses untill they had brought those Delinquents that had committed that horrible offence to condigne punishment. Mark now, that the hearts of people should be so set upon it and think it cause enough to gather an Army of four hundred thousand to bring to condigne punishment those that had but ravished a whore (for she was no other) and resolved never to go home til those Delin­quents were punished. Have not we heard of worse than this amongst us? Oh what adulteries, what rapes have there been wheresoever the Soldiers come! what horrible villanies are committed that way, taking not mens concubins and whores, but grave m [...]trons and on purpose those whom they think to be most godly, and defile them before the eyes of their hus­bands, and then when they have done murder them! And yet we stir not for all this to fetch in these Delinquents. Now we have rapes and ravishments of thousands amongst us, and yet our hearts stir not, though no question the same thing is intended against us here that is done to our brethren in other Countries, for you can expect little else from such as these, Judg. 5.20. it is the speech of Siseras Mother, Have they not di­vided the prey, to every man a damsel or two? They aim as much to satisfie their lusts upon you as upon your goods, you must not think your lives wil satisfie them, but their lusts must be [Page 59] first satisfied; Yet O Lord the deadness of mens hearts, that though there hath been such horrible villany committed in Ireland, in England, which certanily if there were no more but that, God requireth the people of the land should rise up to a­venge such a thing as that is, that there should not be such hor­rible wickedness committed in Israel, but that the offenders should be brought to condigne punishment. If you regard not your lives and estates and liberties, yet regard such a hor­rible villany as this, as is committed in the open heavens. These here resolved not to go to their tents nor to turn into their houses till this was done; ‘Be content to shut up your shops for a while, and to leave your trades and to lie in the fields untill you have brought these Delinquents to their just punishment. Be not discouraged with a little ill suc­cess; there were forty thousand of the better side slayn here before Israel got the victory, until they had thoroughly humbled themselves, and then they had the better of it.’ Though our adversaries meet with success in their waies, let us not be dis­couraged, they that [...]ood to defend this horrible wickedness of the Men of Gibeah, they got the first day and the second day; yet they went on in their way till they had brought the offen­ders to condigne punishment; We should resolve never to follow our business, nor regard our houses and private estates untill we have got this wickedness punished in this land and wiped off the guilt from the Kingdom. So much for that fourth charge. A word of the last.

They break out and blood toucheth blood.

They break out.] Erumpunt; That is, like the erruption of waters; As waters break over the banks wh [...]n it hath been kept in a while, so they break out thus, they overflow all bounds. When sin is not mortified, though it be restrained for a while, it will break out: As many young men that have lived in good families and have had good governours, then their sin was restrained, but afterward when they come to live at their own hand then they break out, Erumpunt then; sin groweth to that strength that nothing can res [...]rain it, like that man that had an unclean spirit and lived among the [Page 60] graves (Mark, 5.) no man could bind him no not with chains.

Secondly, Breaking out is a great aggravation of a mans sin. It argueth strength in sin, impudency in sin, desperatness in sin. And this breaking out of sin is not breaking out only as water in an overflowing time or tide or so, but like breaking out of the fire indeed rather, or if you will like water breaking out of some fountain; now you know if a water break out of a fountain, there is not the less water in the fountain, but ra­ther an increase of it. And as the fire when it breaks out, the breaking out makes it not less but more, as when an house is on fire it will keep in a long while, but when it breaks out at the roof or so then it flames the more and increaseth with more violence; So it is no diminution to sin that it breaks out, as many foolish people are ready to say, that will speak hor­rible wickedly in their passion, I will let it go, as good out as in; they foolishly think there is so much less corruption with­in, and that is a diminution of sin, but it is an aggravation of sin, and noteth impudence in sin.

And blood toucheth blood.] That is, as some will have it, one gross and abominable sin, that is accounted a bloody sin, fol­lows another. But some take it thus, one murder follows another, one oppression follows another; Blood toucheth blood, now thy wickedness is broken out there is no end of it, but one murder follows another. Pareus thinketh it hath refe­rence to those times in the 2 King 15. where you may reade what murders there were and how blood touched blood at that time, as if the Prophet here had said, they being used to murder, there is now nothing but murders, you hear of mur­ders in this place, and in that place, and in the other place. Thus we may soon have it amongst us, if the Lord did not raise up means to keep in and subdue the rage of ungodly men, if it get head and overcome the opposition that it hath, blood will then touch blood, one messenger shall not have done his relation of one horrid and cruel murder, but another messen­ger will be at his heels to tell you of another more horrid and vile than that. So it is in some countries, there comes one [Page 61] and saith in such a place such a man and all his family were murdered, there comes presently another and tels you in such a Town such a friend of yours was murdered: Thus the messegers come at the heels one of another and tell the relation of blood touching blood. So some carry it.

But I rather thus, they defile themselves incestuously (So that this is somewhat more than bare adultery) not regarding the neerness of blood, but blood toucheth blood, they that were neerest in blood one to another they mingled themselves one with onother in filthy and abominable lusts. So the Sep­tuagint they translate it [...] they mingle; so Jerome San­guis sanguinē tetigit, they mingle and touch blood with blood, those that are neer of kin yet they come neer one another in filthy lusts. Now this was a sin that God cast the Heathen out of Canaan, out of that good land for, and therefore well may God have a controversie with the people of the land now; for God cast out the Heathen even for this very sin; As you may find it Levit. 18.6. None of you shall approach to any that is neer of kin to him to uncover their nakedness: And so in many ver­ses afterward he shews what degrees of consanguinity we must not come neer, and then ver. 24. Defile not your selves in any of these things, for saith he in all these the Nations are defiled that I cast out before you, and the land i [...] defiled, therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land it self vomiteth out the inhabitants of it. This the rather stil hath God a controversie with a people for this sin, because there is so little punishing of it. I would but know at thi [...] day what punishment there i [...] for Incest, or for any uncleanness among us only the man must keep the child; And what ever punishment hath been it was that which did as little good a nothing at all, they were to come to the Court and that would enjoyn them a white sheet which they could take off with a very little money. That was the most then, and little it is that is now, and in that regard we may fear that Gods controversie is so much the more against us, and pray to God that speedily the land may deliver it self from this guilt by having severe Laws for the punishment of this horri­ble wickedness lest God come and punish it himself, and then wo unto us.

Now it follows upon all this charge; Thus God hath de­clared: and then follows, the Land mourneth. Well may a land mourn when God hath such a controversie with it.

Verse 3.

Therefore shall the Land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, yea the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.

4. Yet let no man strive; nor reprove another; for this people are as they that strive with the Priests.

5. Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the Prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother.

6. My pe [...]ple are destroyed for lack of knowledg; because thou hast reje [...]t [...]d kn [...]wledg, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no Priest to me: seeing thou hast forgot the Law of thy God, I will also forget thy Children.

YOU have heard that God in this Chapter commenceth a suit against the ten Tribes. He putteth in his Action, and he declareth, and then judgeth. The Articles of his Decla­ration or Charge against them we had some of them the last day. Hereupon Judgement is past, upon this Declaration, Therefore shall the land mourn.

The Land.] How can the Land be said to mourn? As when the Land is fruitful it is said to laugh and sing. Meadowes that are green and fruitful laugh: And it is the Scripture phrase, Psal. 65.13. The valleyes are covered with corn, they shout for joy, they also sing. So when a land is desolate and God brin­geth famine, then it is said to mourn. Jer. 12.4.Jer. 12.4. How long shall the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither for the wickedness of them that dwell therein? The beasts are consumed and the birds, be­cause they said, Explained. he shall not see our last end: I warrant you as long as his eyes are in his head he shall never see that fulfilled that he speaks of, therefore shall the land mourn, and the herbs of every field wither. And likewise when a place is left disolate of peo­ple that were the beauty of it before, then it is said to mou [...], Isa. 3.26. Her gates shall lament and mourn: Lament. 1.4. The [Page 63] waies to Zion mourn, because n [...]ne come to her solemn feasts. As now in time of Plague, the streets of your City may be said to mourn because they are desolate, they look in a desolate way when the grass grows between the stones; her gates s [...]all lament and m [...]urn. The end of thi [...] expression here is to upbraid the hardn [...]ss of the hearts of the ten Tr [...]bes. As if God should say, Notwithstanding al their d [...]eadful sins that should break their hearts and make them howl and cry out, yet they will not mourn, therefore their Land shall mourn. When God will upbraid men for stopping their ears and refusing to hear, and th [...] they were not obedient, he cals to the Heavens, Isa. 1.2. H [...]r, O He [...]ens, and give ear, O E [...]rth: to upbraid the deafnes of men that will not hear: And Jer. 2.12. Be astonished O ye Heavens: Because men will not fear, therefore for their upbraiding God calls to the Heavens to be astonished; so be­cause mens hearts are hard, therefore God calls to the Land to mourn, yea saies, it shall mourn: The ugly gastly face of your sin (that is the meaning) shal appear in the miserable desolati­on of your Country. There is an ugly face of sin, and it were well if you saw it as it is in your own hearts, the guilt that you have brought upon your own spirits? but seeing you wil not apprehend that ugly face of sin in your own hearts, you shall see the sad face of it in all things of the land. God will have sin appear vile and ugly unto us one way or other. The Lord this day is making our Land to mourn because we have not mourned, because we do not mourn. Many Countries know what this expression meaneth, their Country mourns, their Land mourns. The very sight of the dreadful effects of sin upon many parts in England is that which would break a­ny mans heart: As it hath been formerly in Germany, Travel­lers that have travelled there and have seen Towns and places of great riches and traffick, now to be over-grown with nettles it breaks their hearts, they see the Land to mourn: And it be­ginneth to be so amongst us in many places of England, in York-shire, and so in the West. ‘Oh that we all could mourn in the bitternes of our spirits, that our land might no further mourn, that our Cities might not mourn.’ But wee must [Page 64] not give liberty to our selves in pathetical or affectionate waie, but keep our selves as neer as we can to an Explicatory course.

And every one shall languish.] That follows. The word tran­slated languish here, signifieth the withering of a flower, or the withering of hearbs and trees; And so it is in Nahum, 1.4. The flower of Labanon languisheth; it is the same word with this here, Every one shall languish. and the signification of the word doth hint us this useful Note, That all the glory and the pomp of the men of the world it is but as a flower, Obs. and even as soon as a flower withereth so soon doth it pass away.

Again, Times of affliction they take down the jollity and bravery of mens spirits, and make them fade, wither, and pine away.

The word it is translated by some, infirmabitu, they shall be made weak. When wicked men are in prosperity their hearts are stout and strong to sin, they can stand out against God and against all threats, but when the hand of God is up­on them then their spirits are poor, they are weak, they are presently down. Oh the difference between the jolly, brave, stout spirits of wicked men in their prosperity against God, and their poor, weak, withered, dejected spirits in the time of their adversity, In Ps. 39.11. When with rebukes thou corrects man for iniquity thou makest his beauty c [...]nsume away like a moth, surely every man is vanity, Selah.

And a notable expression we have of the withering, the lan­guishing of the spirits of wicked men in the time of their ad­versity, that whereas now in their prosperity their tongues are their own and they must speak and will speak, who is the Lord? &c. they are loud then in their Oaths and blasphemies, but mark now in their adversity how they are, Esa. 21.4. Thou s [...]alt be brought d [...]wn and shalt speak out of the ground, and thy speech s [...]ll be [...]w out of the dust, and thy speech shall whisper out of the dust This is the fruit of the languishing of their spirits in the time of their trouble. As many a riotous and boisterous g [...]llant that would so mouth it when he wa [...] in prosperity, yet set God but lay his hand upon him in sickness and his [Page 65] conscience then accusing of him, he whispers and speaks low out of the dust. It follows,

With the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of Heaven, yea the fishes of the Sea shall be taken away.

Hierome here allegorizeth it, and would not take it litterally, but to be the expressions of several sorts of men sutable to this. But we must not stand to that, but rather take the words at they are literally. Only for the reading of them a word or two first.

With the beasts of the field] In the Hebrew [Be] which is translated with, is as much sometime as, for, in that tongue, for the beasts of the field; so it is in the 5. chapter and the 5; vers. Israel and Ephraim shall fall in their iniquity, or, [...] for their iniqui­ty, there it is Be too. So that if we should translate it so, for the beasts of the field, then we might have this Note;Obser. ‘Here we may see the poor condition that we are in, that when but the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air are destroied, our comforts are gone quickly.’ The comforts of natural men depend upon poor things, upon the beasts of the field, the fishes of the Sea, the fowls of the air, if Gods hand be but upon them, they languish for them; Now the cups are taken from their mouths and their full dishes from their tables, now they languish. It is otherwise with a gracious heart, according to that in Habak. 3.17. Although the figtree shall not blossome, nei­ther shall fruit be in the vines, the labour of the Olive shall sail, and the fields shall yeild no meat, the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls; yet I will rejoyce in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. A gracious [...] doth not languish because the beasts of the field and th [...] [...] of the air are taken away: let them be taken away yet he can rejoyce in God, his spirit will be kept up.

Another word in the re [...]ding is to be observed, [they shall be taken away.] The word in the Hebrew is, they shall be gathered, [...] for it is observable both in fowls and in fishes when they per­ceive any thing noxious unto them or that they are in any danger, they gather themselves together: And that is the reason that fishes at some time of the yeer are in such sholes as [Page 66] they are; they going from one place to another, finding one place noxious and hurtful and perceiving some danger, they gather together: And so it is observed in countries where there are fowls, that in the winter time they go to some other place. I have heard many in Holland say of the Storks that in one week they all of them go away together, they gather them [...]elves in the space of a week or there abouts and go away from that countrey, gathering first al together and so fetching their [...]ight: from thence I take the word here, they shall be gathered together, that is, there shall be such times of danger, and there shall be such infection in the air, and in the very waters of the Sea, that the fishes and fowls shall perceive it and so shall be gathered together, as they use to be gathered (when they perceive any such thing) to go away;Text o­pened. and being so gathered together they shall be destroyed. ‘It is good for men in times of danger to gather together and to joyn one with another and not be scattered one here and another there, as the crea­tures many times use to do in the time of their danger.’ This only for the reading of the words.

The scope of the holy Ghost here in the threatning the ta­king away the beasts and the fowls and the fishes, it is this, To shew the severity of Gods wrath against the ten Tribes, that as a King doth not only execute a Traytor but pull down his house and burn all that i [...] in it, so the great wrath of God shall be upon these ten Tribes, that he shall not only destroy them but for their sakes he shall bring even destruction upon the creatures. And this seems to be a threatning of greater wrath tha [...] [...] let out when he destroyed the world: In de­stroying the ol [...] world the w [...]ath of God was not so great as that here threatned against these ten Tribes, for then the fishes of the Sea we do not reade of any hurt unto them; but here the beasts of the field the fowls of the air & the fishes of the Sea shall be taken away. It referreth unto some fearful plague, wherein not only the air but the waters are pestilential and the cattel and the fish die. So it hath been in other Coun­tries, even in England, in the time of Edward the third, our Chronicles report of such a pestilential quality that was in [Page 67] the air and water that birds and fishes were found with botches upon them,A strange plague in London. And then there were in one Church-yard in one yeers space (I think it was about the Charter house) fifty thousand buried of pestilential diseases. Such advantage hath God us at and can let out his wrath by such waies as these, and such plagues are very fearful fruits of Gods wrath upon a Countrey. What cause have we to bless God that he hath delivered us from the infection of the air! If God should have but brought a plague upon London the last year, Oh it would have been a plague indeed, we had been in a sad condition; it would have been the heaviest plague that ever was upon any Kingdom in the world, if we had had but such a plague that should have caused men to have fled and the Par­liament not have set and even by that should have been dissol­ved, and so all the Kingdom would have been in a lamenta­ble estate at this day. Bless God for that.

And the fish of the Sea.] I remember upon this text a Jesuite that wrote but very lately; Cornelius a Lapide, hath a most au­dacious lye, saith he, since Scotland and Ireland hath departed from the Catholick faith (that is from Popery) Gods judg­ments are out against them, and whereas they were wont to be such plentiful countries for fish, God hath curs'd their ve­ry waters, and now their trade of fishing is nothing like to what it was wont to be. Upon this text he observeth such a judgment to be upon those Kingdoms, he observeth it not of England at all, for he was one that wrote lately, and he had it seems some hope that England was coming to them again. But through Gods mercy both Ireland and Scotland and Eng­land have found it otherwise in this regard.

But for Observations from hence, thus.

First, The good or evil of the creature dependeth on man; Observ. beause it was made for man, man i [...] punished or blessed even by the crea­ture, and the creature comes to feel good or evil according as mans behavior is towards God. Let then mercy & pity toward the creature be an argument to keep us from sin. If you have not cruel hearts towards the creature keep from sin, for you do not only undo your selves but undo the world, undo the [Page 68] creatu [...]e by your sin. And when at any time we see the hand of God out against any creature, let us reflect upon our own hearts, and say, My sin is the cause that this creature feels that evil that it doth, and say as Judah said unto Tamar, She is more righteous than I. So do you say of the creature, Indeed Gods h [...]nd is out against it, but the creature is more righteous than I.

Obs. 2 Sec [...]ndly, God when he is in a way of wrath can cause his wrath to r [...]ch to those things that seem to be most remote from him; As the fishes in the Sea seem to be most remote, therefore this is na­ [...] [...]re, yea and the fish in the Se [...] also: As if he had said, my [...]th shall burn, burn fiercely, and shal reach not only to your selves and houses and Cities and your Land and Cattel, but to the very fish in the Sea. God can let out hi [...] wrath as far as he pleaseth.

Obs. 3 Thirdly, No creature can help man in the time of Gods wrath; Why? for every creature suffers as well as man doth. How vain then are the hearts of men who comfort themselves in hope of the enjoyment of comfort from this or that creature in the day of God wrath; If you cry unto the mountains and hils and say, help us, they will give an Eccho, help us, for they had need of help as wel as you, their Eccho will be, help us too, for the wrath of God is upon the creature in the day of his wrath, therfore the creature cannot help in the day of wrath.

Verse 4.

Yet let no man strive nor reprove another, for this people are as they th [...] [...]rive with the Priest.

Yet] The Hebrew word is, [...], Vere, as if he should say, truly it is in vain for any one to stand striving or reproving his neighbor, or seek to convince or admonish him, it is in vain for one friend to meddle with another,Text opened. for they are so violent in their wicked waies, they are so far from hearkning to privat admonition, that they wil contend with the Priest, even with him that is set by God, and designed by special office to teach and reprove. Some carry it thus, They are so vile as no man [Page 69] is fit to reprove one another, being their wickedness is gene­ral no man is fit to reprove his brother of his sin. But I rather take it the other way.

It doth first import thus much unto us in the general,Obs. That sin cannot be got from men without striving. Such is the pervers­ness of mens hearts, that they take fast hold of deceit Jer. 8.5. and you cannot get them away without striving; like men in a frenzie, you cannot get them off from that which will mis­chieve them without strugling with them. When you admo­nish and reprove men for sin, you must make account afore­hand that they will strive with you, strugle with you, yet af­terwards perhaps they will blesse God for you; If you come indeed at the first you shall have rugged usage, What you come to judge u [...], as they said to Lot? Who made you a Ruler? So you have very ill language usually from men at first when they are reproved, yet be not be discouraged, they will bless God for you afterwards, they wil say as David unto Abigail, Blessed be God, and blessed be thy advise, and blessed be thou for thy counsel.

Secondly (which is imployed in the former,) Even private Obs. 2 men, so long as there is any hope, they should strive with their brethren by way of admonition and reprehension to bring them from their sin. We must not say, Are we our brothers keepers? that is the lan­guage of a Cain. There is much striving and contending one with another for our own ends; Oh that there were more striving and contending for God and his glory! It is a sign that the Glory of God and the Souls of our Brethren are not precious in our eyes when we can so strive and contend to have our own wills, and though God loseth his Glory, and our Brothers Soul is like to perish, we cannot strive and contend there, not even those that are too too full of strife otherwise.

Thirdly, ‘It is a great aggravation of sin and a forerun­ner of destruction to a people, not to regard the strivings, ad­monitions, Obs. 3 and reprehensions of others.’ Let no man strive; It is in vain to strive now, (thats the meaning) Indeed so long as there was hope there might be st [...]iving, but now they are past striving. This was their height of wickedness that they [Page 70] were grown unto, and the fore-runner of that wrath of God that was now ready to fal upon them, because they were now past all reprehension and admonition. I will give you for that two or three notable texts of Scripture to fatten this up­on your hearts, that it is a most fearful thing for people to stand out against admonition and reprehension. That place in 1. Sam. 2.25. is a notable one, the text saith of Eli's sons, that they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, why? Because the Lord intended to destroy them. Oh you children do you hearken to this Scripture, turn to it, reade it over, you [...] stout rebellious children, and your parents they are [...] [...]ving you for your sins and admonishing you, but you will not hearken to them, and in the pride of your hearts and stoutness of your spirits you refuse admonition; but if you read that Scripture and beleeve that it is the Word of God, Oh tremble at it, They hearkened not unto the voyce of their father, because the Lord would slay them. Here is a stuborn child, regards not the voice of his father and mother reproving him, it is a fearful argument that God intends to destroy that child. An­other text you have in 2 Chron. 25.16.2 Chron. 25.16. it is a speech of the Pro­phet to Amaziah; when the Prophet came to rebuke him for worshiping the gods of that people whom he had overcome in battel (Here is the infinite vanity and sottishness of Idolators, Amaziah falls to worship those very gods that could not deli­ver themselves nor their people out of his hands;) when the Prophet (I say) came to reprove him for it, in what a rage was he? One would have thought that there was so much the more reason fo [...] [...] [...]rit to have yeelded to the Prophet's reproof, but saith the King,Opened Art thou made of the Kings Counsel? forbear; it may be he hath other fetches, other intentions, what have you you to do to meddle? The Prophet did forbear indeed, but mark what he saith, I know that God hath determined to de­stroy thee, because thou hast done this, and hast not hearkened unto my counsel. Here was his collection, because the King would not regard admonition and reproof, certainly God had a pur­pose to destroy this King; here is the forerunner of his de­struction. And it is observable of this King, that he should [Page 71] now stand out so: for in the Chapter before you shall find him seem to be of a yeildable spirit though he was a naughty man; when he had hired an hundred thousand out of Israel to [...]oyn with him in battel, and had given them all pay, yet when God did but send to him by the Prophet to send them back and to loose those hundred talents that he had paid the Soldiers withal, upon the very word of the Prophet he sends back a hundred thousand of his Soldiers and looseth all their pay; and yet this Amaziah that was so yeildable at that time how stubborn was he against the Prophet at another time! And therefore at that time when he did so yeild to Go [...] [...] prospered him in the battel, and he overcame his enemies [...] had a glorious victory, and after that victory he falls a wor­shiping the Idols he had overcome, and was stout against the Prophet, and so soon after he was destroyed accordingly. The last Scripture is that in Pro. 29.1. He that being often reproved hardneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without reme­dy. It is a dangerous thing to stand out against reproof and admonition.

Again, Let no man strive with his brother.] You may see that this people were grown to a worse pass than they were before, for in the second Chapter of this prophesie, Say to your bre­thren Ammi, and to your sisters Ru [...]hamah. There those that were godly amongst them were admonished to speak to their brethren and their sisters, though they were naught yet the godly that were disperst amongst them must be admonishing those they lived withal; but now it is come to such a pass that there must be no more striving, no mo [...] [...] [...]monishing. Here we may take this note, That sin doth increase in [...]aces where Obs. 4 it is let alone. Those that were capable of admonition one while, going on in sin and hardning their hearts, grow quick­ly past all admonition.

Fiftly, ‘There is a time when men may, you men should Obs. 5 leave their striving and admonishing and reproving of o­thers, when they should let them alone.’ Especially in these two cases; when those that they should admonish scorn their admonition, when they grow scorners; when they trample [Page 72] their admonitions under their feet as swine, or turn again up­on them and rend them as dogs. There are two sorts not to be admonished or reproved, Swine, and Dogs. When they grow to be swine and dogs then you may leave, yea you ought to leave admonishing them. For admonitions and reprehen­sions are precious things, they are pearls, they must not be cast to swine, Mat. 7.6.Mat. 7.6. Give not holy things to dogs, neither cast pearls before swine; they are holy things and precious things; For I do not take that place to be meant of the Sacrament only, it may be by an argument a minori ad majus applied to it, but that place, Give not holy things to dogs, and cast not pearls before swine, is meant of admonition and reprehension.Opened So that admo­nition is to be looked upon as a holy thing, as a pearl, you are to prize it and therefore not to be angry when we come to admonish you, but you are to look upon the holiness of God in it & so reverence it, and look upon it as a mercy of God and bless God for it. There are many in Heaven now blessing God for the admonitions which they have received from o­thers, as David blessed God for Abigail and her counsel. Ma­ny think it a great happiness unto them that they can re [...]ect admonition and counsel, and when they are gone from such as have admonished them and are among their companions they can boast and say, Oh such a one came and reprehended me, but I said thus and thus to him, and so rejoyce how they have re [...]ected admonition. But if they knew all they have cause to mourn, it is a great m [...]sery for them when as it comes to that, that God shall bid those th [...]t have to deal with them to strive no more with them; when as men have rejected the admoniti [...] of others, that they think they have stopped their mouths, I'le warrant you say they, such a one wil ne­ve [...] come to me more; Oh your misery is the greater. F [...].

[...] [...]st, You have deprived your selves of a special Ordinance of G [...]. Admonition and reprehension, even brotherly ad­monition and reprehension is an Ordinance of God.

Secondly, T [...]ose who strive thus, who admonish and re­prove you, they must give an account unto God what beco­meth [Page 73] of their admonition and reprehension. You must give an account to God one day, and so must they give an account unto God too; yea they should do it for the present, thus, After they have done they must go to God and tel him how it hath sped, for they have done it in his Name when they have done it right; And when they go unto God if their admoni­tion and reproof have prevailed with you, they are to return to God with blessing, to bless God that he hath been pleased to bless their admonition to such a one. And on the other side if you reject their admonition they are to tell that too when they go unto God, they are to tell a lamenting of your condition and to intreat God to look upon you, and to tel God, Lord I have been thus and thus admonishing such a one; it hath been in thy Name, but Lord he contemns it, he rejects it: When you are laughing at it that you have rejected such a friends admonition, then he that hath been faithful to you he is telling God of it, and do you not think there will come somewhat of this one day?

Lastly, You are left to Gods striving and rebuking, and it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. It is bet­ter when God striveth with you by men than that he should come and strive with you himself. As now, if a father send his servant to go and fetch in a child, to rebuke a chile, and he comes and tells the father, he cares not what I say; No saith the father, I will go my self, and then it is worse with the child, the child then smart [...] for it; So God sends thy brother to rebuke thee, and to fetch thee in, thou carest not for him, thou lookest upon him as thy fellow-creature, and so thy bro­ther goes to God, Lord he doth not regard what I say, No saies God? I will rebuke him my self, and Gods rebukes in this case will be furiou [...] rebukes; Ezek 5.15. When I shall [...]x [...] ­ [...]te judgments in anger and in fury and in fur [...]us rebukes, Mark it. furious rebukes; The rebukes of a brother are loving re­b [...]kes, but if thou reject them Gods rebukes may com [...]nd they wilt prove furious rebukes, The rebukes of a brother are out of [...]e but Am [...]s 7.4. The Lord calls to contend by [...]e. When [...] friends did strive with him they could not pr [...]vail, but [Page 74] Job. 38.1. God calleth out of the whirlwind to answer to him, and who is this that darkneth words without counsel? The Lord out of the whirlwind calleth to contend with Job and so overcometh him. If thou regardest not friends contending with thee, the Lord himself out of the whirlwind may come and contend with thee. Take heed how thou rejectest the strivings of a brother with thee, tor God may not only say he shall strive no longer, but my spirit shall no longer strive with thy soul.

This people are as one that striveth with the Priest.] That is the reason why they must not strive one with another. Here are only these two things by way of explication;

Quest. 1 1. Why it is said with the Priest rather than with the Pro­phet?

Quest. 2 2. Why it is said, For this people are [as] they that strive with the Priest? did not they strive with the Priest? why then is it not said this people are a people that strive with the Priest?

For the answer to these two briefly.

Answ. 1 First, It is said that they strive with the Priest rather than with the Prophet, though the Prophet did rebuke them and strive with them, upon this reason, Because the Priest was a standing office in the Church of God; the Prophet that was an extraordinary office, and they could not be sure of the Prophet whether he were a true Prophet or no but according to the event of the Prophesie; Quere but the Priest they acknowled­ged him to be an officer of God, and that is the reason that the Priest is here named rather than the Prophet.

Answ. And then, As those that strive with the Priest. It may be the Priests were generally so bad that there was scarce any Priest that did strive with them at all, those Priests being Jeroboams Priests they did joyn with them in their wickedness, therefore he could not say they did strive with the Priests, but yet thus their hearts were as vile, God saw this in their hearts that if there were Priests to strive with them they would strive with them.

Or secondly thus, As those that strive with the Priest; because indeed those Priests of Israel at this time they were not such [Page 75] as were called of God, for in 1 King. 12.31. the text saith of Jeroboam, that he made Priests of the lowest of the people which were not of the sons of Levi, and chap. 13. ver. 33. Whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the Priests of the high places. But the people received them as Priests still, for indeed they thought that the Kings authority was enough for all, because the king would have them to be Priests they would receive them, as it the King had the absolute power to make all Church Officers, if they were sent by the Kings Authority they must be acknowledged to be Church Officers. So it was then, and that may seem to be the reason of that expression, as those.

Now from hence the Notes are these, for you must take it that this is imploied here, that suppose there were Priests faith­ful and godly that did strive with them, yet their hearts were so hard that they would strive against those Priests, and this sets out the grossness of the hardness of their hearts. Take then the sense thus and here we may have these Notes

First,Observ. That it is the work of the Priest to contend against men for their sin. That is the proper work of a Priest, to strive with men against their sin. They are the salt of the earth and so they should have some acrimony in them. In 1 Tim. 3.3.1 Tim. 3.3 It is said indeed of the Minister of God that he should be [...] mo striver. A Minister of God should be one that is in office to look to the souls of people and he should be no striver; How will you say then that he should strive? That is,Opened he should never strive with men for his own ends, for his own waies, no braw­ler, no striver, no adulterer but one of a quiet and gentle spi­rit, that should pass by wrongs done unto himself; but when he comes for God he should be a striver; ‘All faithful Mini­sters should be strivers when they come in Gods cause.’ Oecolamp. Oe­colampadius writing to his fellow Ministers, I remember he hath a notable expression, Let not our zeal and anger (saith he) burn when we are scorned our selves and reproached our selves, but when the Truth is in danger, and the Name of God i [...] in danger, then let our heat arise, then let us strive. This indeed is the Character [Page 76] of a true godly Minister, that he is in his own cause, gentle, yeildable, but when it comes to the cause of God, the heat riseth in his face, and there he hath zeal and fervencie, there he will strive and contend with men in the waies of their sin.

Obser.Secondly, When Ministers do reprehend and strive with people, they must expect to be striven withal by people. These are as a peo­ple that strive with the Priest, they have such vile hearts that had they never such faithful and godly Officers that were set over them by God, they would strive with them. And in­deed all faithful Ministers must expect that if they strive with men for their sins, men will strive with them. If there had at any time any faithful ones been sent amongst them by God, they would have been ready to have cried out of them and have told them, ‘You are the cause of our misery, for you will not yeild to Jeroboam, you are so strict and precise, and 'tis you that make this disturbance, you threaten us that there will judgments come upon us but you are the cause of our misery, were it not for you we should have al the people yeild to what the King hath set up, but you stir up the peo­ple against it and so our disturbance comes from you.’ Thus no question but they would be ready to strive with the Priest at that time. And thus they did with Amos, chap. 7. ver. 12. Go to Judah and prophesie there; they strove with Amos that was contemporary with Hosea, prophesying at this time unto this people, the land say they cannot bear Amos his words, let him go to Judah, he were best be gone, he tells us we are a su­perstious people, and that we do not worship God in the right manner and in the right place, let him go thither, we wish he were out of the Country; he and such as he is raise a fire in the land. Thus when Ministers discharge their consciences shewing people their sins and the mind of God, this is ordina­rily the recompense that they have. Thus it was with Jere­miah, chap 15. ver. 10. We is me saith he, that my mother ever bear me, for I am (saith he) a man of strife and of contention to the whol earth, and every one curseth me. Jeremiah a grave and holy Prophet, yet a man of contention to the whol earth, and eve­ry man cursed him: A strange thing that he should meet with [Page 77] such hard dealing, and yet he appealed to God in the matter of his sincerity, he desired not the evil day, and he prayed for the people so long til God bid him pray no more; when thy were railing upon bim he was praying for them. This was the ill condition he was in for that respect. And so it was with other Prophets besides him. I might name other texts in Jeremiah, as chap. 20. ver. 7.8. I am in derision daily, every one mocketh me, for since I spake I cried out, I cried, violence and spoil, because the Word of the Lord was made a reproach unto me and a derision daily; After I threatned that there should come some judgment upon the Nation I cryed out of the violence and spoil that they for the present made in the Nation, and then they mocked and scorned me. The like we have in Esa, he had the same dealings from the people. Esa, 28.13, 14.Isa. 28.13.14. But the Word of the Lord was to them precept upon precept, line upon line, here a little and there a little, that they might go and fall backward, and be broken, and snared and taken. You will say, how do they strive against the Prophet in this? I take it this Scripture is of­ten mistaken, and the scope of these words are to shew how the people did jeer and mock the Prophet in his preaching. But the Word of God was to them precept upon precept, that is thus,Opened they scorned at Gods Word, What we have nothing but pre­cept and precept, one precept after another, in a scorning lan­guage, the word of the Lord, and Commandement one after a­nother, and one Prophesie after another, a line upon line, and now you would have a little more; it is spoken in a contem­ning way; And I rather take it to be thus, because in the He­brew the sound of the words do carry it in a mocking, in a jeering way, as thus: trar letrar, kar lekar; [...] precept to precept line to line. As mocking people will jeer in the nose at men, so they did at this time with the Prophet, the very sound of the words in the Hebrew is such as noteth a mocking and jee­ring of the Prophet, and they pronounced the same words a­gain and again, as mockers and jeerers use to do, nothing but precept and precept, and when will the fellow have d [...]ne? And I take this to be the meaning because the threatning fol­lows after, that they might fall backward and be br [...]ken a [...]d s [...] ­red [Page 78] and taken, wherefore (saith the text in the very next words) hear the word of the Lord ye scornful men; They manifested a scornful spirit in such kind of expressions, retorting upon the Prophet in such a manner; And Gods anger riseth in his face Wher [...]fore [...]ear ye the word of the Lord ye scornful men. It is the u­s [...]al way of many scornful men that if they can get any thing that Ministers speak and get a sound of it, they will by sounding of it double express their jeering and scorning; So did they with the Prophet who was one of the most admirable elegant, and eloquent Prophets that ever was, a man that spake in hi [...] time so as never man spake, for he spoke in a most high stile, he was himself of the Kingly race, a great man, a Noble man born and a most admirable eloquent man, yet when he came to prophesie to this people in the name of God, thus they jeered and scorned him. And Esa. 30.10. Which say to the seers, see not, but preach smo [...]th things to us, tell not us of such and such things as these are. Thus they contemned him. Yea and in Christs time we find that when Christ himself preached, one time assoon as ever he had done his Sermon the people got him up to the brow of a hill that was upon the side of the Citie and would have thrown him down and broke his neck; that was the reward he should have had. And Paul that was one of the excellentest preachers that ever was (It was one of Austins wishes that he could but see Paul in the pulpit) yet when he came to preach, What will this babler say? and, he is a pestilent fellow, one that is of a furious spirit and an incendiary, and where ever he goes he turns the world up­s [...]de down. Such kind of entertainment had the Apostles. And Luther I remember hath such an expression, Quid est prae­dicare Evangelium? What is it to preach, unless it be this, to derive all the fury of people upon ones self? if one would preach conscienciously. And Mat. 5.12. there Christ tels his Disciples what they were like to meet withal, how they were like to be reviled and persecuted, for so saith he persecu­ted they the Prophets which were before you. Acts, 7.53. Which of the Prophet h [...]ve not your f [...]thers pe [...]secuted? Thus those that are in office those that are sent to speak unto the people, [Page 79] they must expect if they would be faithful in their administra­tions to be striven withal.

But though wicked men do strive, yet as Samson said unto the men of Judah that came to binde him that they might de­liver him into the hands of the Philistins, Do not ye fall upon me your selves. It were well if faithful Ministers were not striven withal many times by those that are godly. It is not so much for a faithful Minister to have wicked and ungodly men to strive with him. Though they bind them, Oh brethren do not do not you bind them: after that in conscience of their duty and in love to your souls they have hazarded all the hatred and malice that may be of the adversary, even to stand in the fore-front as the But to their mallice, yet in requital of all, even many that are godly, if they see them grow troublesom, they are ready to strive with them; because wicked men are ex­asperated by the Word of God preached, therefore they could wish that even such Ministers had never come amongst them, and this even such as make profession of godliness do. Is here a requital of he hazard that faithful Ministers undergo? I ap­peale unto you, Are there any people in the Kingdom that stand as a But against the malice of the Adversary, so much as godly and faithful Ministers do? Do not think that it is out of that precipitancy, that ra hness that we do not consider what danger we stand in in doing what we do; yes, we con­sider it beforehand, ‘But out of conscience of our duty and in faithfulness unto your soul [...] we hazard our lives, we ha­zard all the rage and malice of the Enemy.’ Now when we have done all this, we expect a far better r [...]quittal from many people than we find. When Moses and Aaron came unto the people of Israel when they were in Egypt to deliver them, (for that was their message) but because for the present their bon­dage was increased and the wr [...]th of Pharaoh more incensed, therefore they were weary of Moses and Aaron, and they fall to striving with them as if they were the cause of their misery, Why 'twas better with us before than three you came, if you had never come amongst us it would have been better with us. So it is now, because those that are faithful, out of con­science, [Page 80] labor to declare to you the mind of God, and to draw you to those duties that God calls for, (this indeed enrageth the adversary, they are the more incensed when you follow what your Ministers teach,) and you are ready to think, they h [...]ve brought us into this way, they have kindled the fire, they have told us it is the Cause of God, they have exhorted us to come in with our Estates, and now the King is exaspered a­gainst u [...], and our adversaries are enraged against us and we are like to be in some misery; And so even all the strivings of the better sort are ready to devolve upon the Ministers, and they strive with them as the only incendiaries and troublers of the places where they come. Well, howsoever Ministers may meet with hard dealing from some, even from professors, yet their way is with the Lord, and their judgment is with the Almighty: As there is a most admirable promise to help those that have been most forward to rebuke sin & in a zealous way for God, though men are enraged against them. Isa. 49.2.Isa. 49.2. He hath made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shaddow of his hand hath he bid me. This text is true of every faithful Minister: Mark it, He hath made made my mouth like a sharp sword; why if I did speak smooth things I were not like to be in so much danger, but if speak sharp things do not I hazard my selfe much?Opened I shall incur the rage and anger of all kind of people; but mark, He hath made my mouth as a sharp sword, But in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me. Ministers whose mouths are as sharp swords they are in a great deal of danger, yea but let such be comforted, here comes a promise presently, in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me. So that those Ministers whose mouthes are sharpest in the Name of God, and who speak but the Truth of God, those are under Gods protection more than any other Ministers that have held their peace, they are in more safety, they are hid in Gods hand, in the shadow of his hand more than any other. So God comforted Jeremiah, Chap. 10. vers. 15. after he had cryed out, wo is me, I am a man of strife, wel saith God, Verily it shall be well with thy remnant, I will cause the enemy to entreat thee well in the time of evil and in the time of affliction. It may be many of you think it is a weaknes [Page 81] in Ministers to appear so much as they do and discover them­selves, for they endanger themselves, and cannot they be qui­et as others are? there are many of more moderate spirits and deal wiselyer for themselves, they keep in and say nothing, and so they may scape of either side, looking which side will prevail; May not these scape? No, they are in more danger than the other, for the other are under a promise, these are not, they are so studious for themselves and for their owne safety that God will take no care of them. Our Savior Christ takes care to encourage his Disciples against the st [...]ings of people with them; we have in Luk. 6. many blessings pronoun­ced, blessed are the poor, blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, blessed are they that mourn &c. But they that un­derstand the Original shall find that the word [ye] is not in, only blessed are the poor, and blessed are they that mourn &c. But when he cometh to his Disciples vers. 22. there is an Este put more than in the other, Christ speaks more particularly to his Disciples: when as people shall speak evil of them and cast out their name as filth, then there is a blessed are ye, [...]. with an este, more than there was in all the other blessednesses; That shews God hath a special care of his Ministers when men speak evil of them and strive with them. But on the other side,Luke, 6.22. Opened Wo to you when all men speak well of you; It is meant most of Ministers, it is true indeed of all Christians, but I take it that the scope of Christ in that place is concerning Ministers that were to go and preach, and wo to you when all men speak well of you. The word that is translated well, it is [...], that speak of you so as to commend you for a spruce curious neat Teacher; I there are such and such fiery men, but here's a Preacher, a quaint man, an Eloquent man, a dainty man, a man that hath brave language with him, and they will never persecute such as these. The other are pronounced blessed when they are re­viled and cast out as evil.

These are they that will strive with the Priest] The next Note is this, That though the Ministers of God must expect striving withal, Obser. yet to strive with those that come in Gods Name to reprove, it is a great aggravation of sin and a hastning of judgment. God expects when [Page 82] he sends his Ministers that you shovld obey them in the Lord and not strive with them. 2 Chron. 26.12. God took it ill that King Zedekiah did not humble himself before Jeremiah the Prophet; And in ver. 16. of the same chap. it is said, They moc­ked the Prophets, and contemned them until the wrath of God arose a­gainst his people and there was no remedy; No remedy when once they strove with those that God sent amongst them. Those that are sent by God they are the special witnesses of God: Revel. 11. It is said of those two witnesses that if any do them hurt and contend with them, fire shal go out of their mouths and devour their enemies. Those that are sent by God and come in Gods Name they have the power of Jesus Christ with them, Mat. 28.Matt. 28. All power is given to me &c. Go and teach &c. As if he should say,Opened. know as I have all power given to me, it shall go along with you to do good to those that obey your Do­ctrine and to execute revenge upon all those that strive with you. The Apostles were to shake off the dust of their feet in contempt of those that contemned their Doctrine.

Quest. But you will say, May we not in any case strive with the Mini­ster?

Answ. I confess in Popery they would so exalt their Priestly Of­fice as that all people must be brought into a blind obedience unto them, and the people must receive whatsoever Doctrine they preach; The Priests lips only must preserve knowledg, the people must not so much as examin it, they must obey and not contradict whatsoever is said; It is one of the Popes Ca­nons concerning him,nullus mor­taliū prae­sumat re­darguere, quia cun­elos ipse judicaturus à neminè est judi­cundus Lex Ca­nonic. that though he should carry down with him by heaps souls to Hell, yet no mortal man must presume so much as to rebuke him or find fault with him, for he being spiritual as they say (for so they abuse that Scripture) he jud­geth all men and no man judgeth him; and in a proportion all their Priests would fain have that power. And this cer­tainly hath been the policie of our Priests of late to bring the people into ignorance that so they might not be able to con­tend with them let then) do what they will. They cry out there was never such a time when every Taylor and every Shop keeper hath had so much knowledg that they can con­tradict [Page 83] their Minister as now, and try the Doctrine of their Minister. They vex at this that poor men have so much knowledg as to be able to trye their Doctrine they preach, they would fain so preach as that you must be led like a com­pany of sheep what way they would lead you and beleeve what ever they preach. Certainly so many gross errors and doting conceits of Popery could never have prevailed except they had prevailed with people in their blind obedience. Therefore there may be some striving with Ministers and that according to God, though here their striving is forbidden; As thus, Christ requires that his sheep should know the diffe­rence between his voice and the voice of a stranger: Yea we know that there is a charge that if any preach any other Do­ctrine he should be accursed; even people should look upon those that come to them to preach any other Doctrine as ac­cursed; Therefore they are required to know; And they are commanded to try every thing and not to beleeve every spirit, yea not to bid them good speed that bring other Doctrins; And they are to say to Archeppus, Take heed to thy Ministry which thou hast received that thou fulfil it; so far people have leave. Yet still it must be done in waies of respect to them. If they look upon them as true Officers (whether they be or no yet if they look upon them as such) the rule will take hold of them, Receive not an accusation against an Elder without two or three witnesses, You must not be so ready to strive with those that you look upon as officers. And rebuke not an El­der, but intreat him as a father; It must not be in a male pert way but with respect and reverence; And when you have done that, contended by witnesses, and spoken to them with reverence as owning the place wherein he standeth, you have liberty then if he bring ill Doctrine, or if his life be naught, to strive with him and contest with him in the Name of the Lord, and not to suffer your selves to be under such bondage as to beleeve what ever they would have you, and they never to be called to any account at all. There was wont robe cry­ing out of people if they went from their parish Churches (as they called them) Oh it could not be suffered, and yet they [Page 84] themselves would be away a whol yeer together, as if the re­lation were not mutual, and they bound as much to continue with their people as the people tyed to keep unto them; If the Minister may have leave to go away, certainly the people may have the same freedom; whereas indeed neither of both ought to go away, so long as the one is looked upon as an Of­ficer and the other as under that Officer. But I speak of that bondage that they would have brought you into whereby in time they would wholly have freed themselves that you should have had nothing to do with them in Church power. And then they would be t [...]e Clergie, whereas it is an absurd thing that they should be accounted the Clergie, for the Scrip­ture speaking of the people in distinction from the Ministers, calls the people the Clergie,1 Pet. 5.3. [...]. which in the same verse is called the s [...]ock. Let them not lord it over Gods Cler­gie, so the word is there. But they would be accounted the Church and the Clergie, as if the people were no part of the Church at all, all Church power must come into their hands. And then they endeavoured to free themselves from all Civil power too, as the Papists you know do, so they aimed at it and were going many steps in it; therefore they would send forth things in their own names, and in time they would have wrought themselves free from all Civil power and have had all Church power in their hands, and so indeed you could not strive with them. Bless God for the deliverance he hath now given you.

Obs.Yet further, If publick means prevail not there is little hope of private. Why should one man strive with another, these are they that strive with the Priest? Though they had never so good publick means, they resist that, surely then they wil resist private. Therefore publick means is to be preferred before private; When a man can speak as an officer to another, that is more to be regarded and will be more efficacious to those God hath a love unto, than private means. If this be so, let parents take heed how they teach their children to deride pub­lick means: When you have been at a Sermon, perhaps you will despise what you have heard; It is just with God they should, despise your admonition and reproof, for you have taught them to despise publick means.

Again further, To reject those that we look upon in Office, though their calling be not good, yet it is a wickedness that God will revenge, (I say) though their calling be not right, if you look upon them or think them to be true Officers, so long if you despise what they do that is according to Gods will, so long God will avenge it. If they come in Gods Name and you know nothing to the contrary but that they are true Officers, you must not oppose them, so long as you have any apprehensions that they are true Officers, though perhaps if they were examined they have no true calling, yet if you can­not see but they have a true calling, you are to have such reve­rence and respect unto them, that you are to be subject to them.

Verse 5.

Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the Prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will d [...]stroy thy mother.

Mark, Though private men are here bid not to strive one with another, or reprove one another; yet Hosea he goes on in his striving and reproving. Therefore shall they fall in the day and the Prophet also shall fall with them in the night. Obser. So that those in office must go on though they be striven against; so long as they remain in office they must still go on though people strive against them. It is a speech I remember Latimer Latimer hath in one of his Sermons, Many Ministers (saith he) they will not preach, and if they be a [...]ked the reason it is this, because they can do no good to people; Oh this (saies he) is a naugh­ty answer. Certainly so long as you continue in that place whether you do good or whether you do not good, you must go on in your work.

Therefore shalt [thou] fall. He directs the judgment to the par­ticular, Thou every particular of you, in the singular num­ber. Perhaps some might think, well though the generality suffer I may escape; No, look to your selves every one of you.Observ. When a threatning comes to particulars then it works.

The word translated, thou shalt fall, [...] it is a word that signifies the falling ofa man by stumbling in the dark, sutable to their sin, [Page 86] they had no knowledg therfore they shal stumble in the dark.

Thou shalt fall in the day, Thou shalt stumble as a man in the dark, but it shall be in the day to thee, and yet thou shalt stumble. [In the day;] that is, First in thy prosperity, for in the latter times of the second Jeroboam (which was a little before the destruction of the ten Tribes) they were in a better case than they had been in before, yet from thence they began to fall. I say, not long before their ruin they were in more prosperity than they had been in many yeers before, there­fore it is here said, thou shalt fall in the day, even when thou art in a prosperous condition. Or secondly, thou shalt fall in the day, that is, you shal see your misery before you yet you shal fall, you shall not be able to prevent it; it shall be in the day time, at noon day, you shall see plainly where your misery lies, yet you shall be as if you were in the night you shall stumble and fall.

Oh my brethren this is a Scripture that doth neerly con­cern us here in England as much as any I know. If England falleth and perisheth now,England it falleth and perisheth in the day. We see apparently our evil before us; we see means to prevent it, God doth not bring night upon us in this sense, that is, he doth not bring misery so upon us as that we do not know how it comes or by what means, or how we should prevent it. No we are not so in the night, but in the day; we have seen the misery that hath come upon us by a continued design, we know almost the very bottom the very beginning of that de­sign, how it hath gone on by degree, step by step; we see now the reason of the breaking of it out, because the stream is stopped it violently breaks out: We know who are the causers of our evil, what their counsels, intentions, what their waies are notwithstanding all their protestations, we see what we are like to be brought into if we do give but a little way and do not appear to quit our selves like men; And we see apparantly what God would have us to do; we see waies to help us and power to help us if we will, we have power to help our selves, and direction to help our selves too; we all of us know or may know cleerly what we should do, and [Page 87] what in an ordinary course of providence would help us. Yet Lord how do we fall, we fall notwithstanding this, we fall even in apparant day light: so that if this Kingdom of England be brought into slavery, it will be the heaviest wrath that ever fell upon a Nation. There was never any Nation fell in a cleer Sun-shine day as we are like to do if we perish now having such means for our help.

Again, You shall fall in the day] Hodie, that is, soon, pre­sently, your destruction shall not be long.

And the Prophet shall fall with you in the night] There seems to be some difficulty in this. How cometh this in, you shall fall in the day, and the Prophet shall fall also with you in the night?

First, The Prophet shall fall with you] The blind lead the blind and they both fall into the ditch. You gave your selves up to false Prophets to be guided by them, and here is all the good you shall have, both you and they shall perish together, the Prophet shall fall as well as ye. This is observable here, ‘The falls of the Prophets are the falls of the night,’ Obser. For in the captivity of the ten Tribes they had no Prophets, nor ne­ver had since. Judah was carried into captivity yet they had Prophets among them, as there was Ezekiel, and Zechariah, and Haggai, they had Prophets to direct them though they had a great deal of misery. But Israel shal be carried into captivity and shal have no Prophet to help them. Here is a Note of great use from hence,Obs. ‘It is a most sad judgment for a people to be in affliction and to have no Prophet at all amongst them; no Prophet to tel how long, to tel them any part of Gods mind.’ Look to your selves that you regard the Prophets of God now, otherwise when you shall be brought into misery, under the power of your adversaries, you shall have no Minister a­mong you, none to shew you Gods mind, none to open his will. It was so with Israel, they never had any Prophet since the captivity to tell them the mind of God.

Thus the Prophets shall fall, but why in the night? Some therefore because they think hard of the different expression, they reade it thus; You shall fall in the day with the Prophet, in [Page 88] the night your mother shal be destroied, and so do but point it diffe­rently. It may be fairly read so, You shall fall in the day with the Prophet, in the night your mother past be destroyed. But I had ra­ther reade it as we have it, You shall fall in the day, and the Pro­phet with you in the night. Upon these two reasons, the Prophet shall fall in the night, false Prophets, so they are meant, they shall fall.

Observ. ‘First, Because God would inflict a greater darkness upon them in his just judgment, than upon the people.’ Those that abuse most light they come into most gross darkness, and therefore it is a usual expression in Scripture when Prophets are threatned, to threaten, that darkness shall be upon them, Micah 3.6. To you (saith he, speaking of the Prophets) it shall he dark, night shall be upon you, the Sun shall go down over the Prophets, and the day shall be darkened over them; over the Pro­phets in a special manner. And Zech. 11.17.Zech. 11.17. His right eye shall be utterly darkened, the chief understanding that he hath, the pregnancy of parts that he hath he shall be besotted in,Opened e­ven in his very parts. Do we not see it even at this day that the Prophets fall in the night? There is more darkness upon wicked Ministers at this day amongst us than upon ordinary people. Ordinary people they understand more what God would have them to do than ill Ministers. Ill Ministers God doth besot them in their very parts and abilities, and they do nothing but cry out still for that which wil bring themselves and us into slavery. Were it not for them, people would see competently well what to do, and the great darkness that is upon people commeth from the Prophets, they bring dark­ness upon the people, therefore their darkness is more than the darkness of the people. In divers Towns are there not many people that know the mind of God and see need of, and desire a Reformation in Gods worship? and yet notwithstan­ding wicked Ministers will see no need of any Reforma­tion.

But there is a second reason and that is more evident yet, [The Prophet also shall fall with you in the night] That is, the di­stress that shall be upon the Prophets shall be greater than shall [Page 89] be upon other people, it shall be night to them indeed, not on­ly shall there be more darkness upon their understandings, but more darkness in regard of their afflictions, they shall be in greater horror of conscience and distress than any other people, for they shall see that they have brought you into all misery. And the truth is at this day the great misery that is come upon England it is through false Prophets, through wic­ked Ministers, through that Doctrine that they have taught. We had never been in such a condition as we are had not they flattered at Court and told at Court that all was at the Kings power and pleasure, and there ought to be no resistance, and that whatsoever he would have, to refuse it is rebellion. Had they not taught such things as these we never had had such times. Now if this Kingdom be destroyed, it may be God may bring horror upon their consciences, how ever they would put it off unto others, yet those that have any light re­maining in them, the Lord wil cause horror to be in their consciences and distress in their spirits as the cause of all that evil that shall be upon us. They shall fall in the night, a black dismal night shall be upon them when judgments co­meth. Therefore in tims of publick judgment, Gods Mini­sters are to look upon Gods hand as especially against them, and more horror and distress of conscience shall be upon them than upon others.

I will destroy their mother] They boasted of their mother a [...] the Papists do of their mother the Church, that is, their Church-state and Civil state shall be destroyed, and so there shal be no hope of this people, both children & mother shal be be destroyed; it seems to have some allusion to that in the Law where we are forbidden to take the dam with the young ones because of the preservation of succession; but here saith God my wrath shall be so hot, that I will not only take the young ones, but the dam, they shall be destroyed together with their mother.

The word that is here translated destroyed is a word that sig­nifies shall be brought to be silent, [...] for indeed this word signi­fies silence, as noting thus much, in times of Gods judgments [Page 90] wicked men shall have nothing to say for themselves, but their mouths shall be stopped, and they shall be forced to lay their hands upon their mouths and be silent. It follows.

Verse 6.

My people are destroyed for want of knowledg, because thou hast rejected knowledg I will reject thee, &c.

For want of knowledg] As if he had said, if they had the knowledg of God they might have prevented all this, but they were ignorant and sottish people and this was the forerun­ner of their misery and destruction.Quos per­dere vult Iupiter de­mentat prius. Obs. The Heathens were wont to say, If their god Jupiter would destroy one, he would first besot him; so these people were first besotted and then destroy­ed: ‘Ignorance is not the mother of devotion but rather the father and mother too of destruction.’ How diametrically cross is the language of the Scripture and the Doctrin of Pa­pists! Ignorance is the mother of devotion say they, Igno­rance is the mother of destruction saith God, they perish for want of knowledg. In the beginning of this Chapter we have the sin of ignorance set forth, here we have the danger of ig­norance set forth. There we had the charge, that they had no knowledg of God in the land, here we have the judgment, that they are destroyed for want of knowledg.

Ignorance is not only the deformity of the soul as blindness is the deformity of the face, though a man or woman have never such a comely visage otherwise, yet if they be blind it mars their comliness, if they have but one eye it takes away their beauty; so ignorance takes away the beauty of the soul, and not only so but it is dangerous; it is destructive; And that in these regards.

1 The rational creature is very active of it self and will al­waies be in motion, alwaies working, and it is in the midst of pits and snares, if then it be blind how dangerous will it be for it! As now if you have a metteld horse that is in the mid­dest of deep snares and pits, and blind, and he will be curvet­ting and dancing and will not stand still, in what danger is [Page 91] he? no creature is so ful of activity as the rational creature is, he will be active in the world, and then wanting knowledg, in what danger is he?

Further, Mans way is for eternity, and there is but one 2 way that leads unto eternity of happiness, and that way is in the midst of a hundred cross waies and by paths. If he have not light, if he want knowledg what shall become of him?

But you will say, Though he be dark himself yet he may have some others to guid him and so he may do well enough.

Therefore consider in the third place, That man is not only 3 going unto eternity and in dangerous & by waies, but he must go with his own light. All the light of all the Angels in Heaven nor of all the Ministers in the world cannot help a soul in his journey to eternity, except this light be conveyed into his own eyes. It is true, a man that is corporally blind he may have help though it be but by a dog, but the soul that is ignorant no Angel in Heaven can help it, except it be an in­strument of God to bring sight into his eyes, so far it may. But (I say) he must have light otherwise or he must perish, for he must go in his way to eternity by his own light.

Fourthly, The work we are to do about our souls and e­ternal 4 estates it is a most curious work, the most exact piece that ever was done in the world, and we must do it by our own light. Surely if a man were to make a most curious piece of work, as a curious Watch or the like, he need have light, put such a one in the dark and what can he do? The work of grace, God must enable us to do it, but we must work together with God; God enableth a man to make a Watch, he gives him skill, but he must work with God: so it is with the work of grace, we must have light in our own souls, there­fore ignorance is dangerous.

Further, ‘Blindness in this world makes men objects of 5 pity and compassi [...]n, but this ignorance and blindness makes men to be the objects of hatred and the curse of God.’ When you see a poor blind man here, what is he loathsom in your eyes because he is blind, do you hate him? No, you pity him. But now the blindness of your souls makes you abominable in [Page 92] the sight of God, and it is that which God will be avenged on you for. But you will say, How can we help it? We have put out our own eyes, God gave us light at first and we brought ignorance upon our selves.

Use If ignorance then be so dangerous that people perish for want of knowledg, How vile is it to deny the means of knowledg unto men meerly to satisfie the humours of others! How many hun­dred congregations are there that have been deprived of their Ministers, for a Surplice or a Cross, &c.

Quest. But you will say, Obedience unto a Church is a great mat­ter?

Answ. The answer is, Therefore it is the fault of a Church or go­vernours, to require such things as God never required, and after the requiring of them it is a greater fault for them to stand so much upon them as that many thousands must perish rather than their humours must be not satisfied.

Use 2 ‘If this be the ground of perishing for want of knowledg, then though divers countries have felt the hand of God most fearfully, yet we hope that England shall not perish, for the knowledg of God is begun to shine among us, and never since the word began hath the knowledg of God and of Christ shined more brightly upon a Kingdom than upon us. We hope therefore though God intendeth to chastise us we shall not perish.’

Because thou hast rejected knowledg,] Only let us take heed that we do not reject knowledg and despise it. The word [reject] signifies contemning, [...] despising, thou hast cast it off with despight and contempt, it is, Ignorantia non merae negatio­nis, sed pravae dispositionis, affected ignorance. Thou hast reje­cted knowledg; these two waies. First when the means of knowledg is rejected then knowledg is rejected. Secondly when the directions of our knowledg are rejected, when we refuse to be guided by our knowledg, upon this our knowledg doth decay and so knowledg is contemned.

Now this is a great sin in any but especially in the Priests. When others think that the knowledg of God and his truth is too slight too mean a thing to take up their thoughts, this is [Page 93] vile. When Merchants and Tradesmen shall think they must busie thei [...] heads about some other matters, but for this know­ledge of the Scriptures, it is no great matter, they may be hap­py without that, let them have their tradings and bargai­nings and houses and comings in stand that is that which is sutable unto them) let them have their cables spread and their dishes full, and for this Scripture and these points of Religion these are too mean things for them: These men now despise knowledge, for so the word here signifies, it is rejecting with a vile with a contemptible esteem of knowledg. But I say when the Priests shall reject knowledg, the Priests that should have laboured to have fill'd their souls with knowledg, if they shall seek to live bravely, to be gallant, to grow rich, to pam­per the flesh, and care not either to have the knowledg of God in their own souls or to bring the knowledg of God unto the people, but look upon them as not worth the regarding, this is in a more special manner a most grievous sin. How many are there amongst us at this day that study to get preferment &c. and then sell away their books and never after any more mind knowledg! And others if they have knowledg and lear­ning and prize it in some respect, yet in this they contemn it, they prize knowledg meerly as servicable unto their lusts. It is not for the beauty and excellency of the knowledg of God that they prize it so much, that sweetness that they find in the knowledg of Christ that they do search to know, but that they may be accounted Scholers, understanding men, learned men. This is to despise knowledg, when we seek for know­ledg but in a way of service unto our lusts, and such men may be charged for men that despise knowledg.

But further, These Priests and such as were eminent in Is­rael rejected knowledg, because they had their houses and goods and comings in amongst the ten Tribes. (I beseech you observe it for this concerns us) I say the Priests that were amongst the ten Tribes, they were setled there and had their houses and in comes and their estates there; but now there was this taught, that we must worship God at Jerusalem, at the Temple, they rejected this knowledg especially, they saw [Page 94] that if they did imbrace that truth of worshiping God in his own way, then farewel our incomes, farewel our livings, farewell our houses, we must leave our brave dwellings and all our maintainance and go from Samaria, and we must go to Judah, and how shall we live there? Upon this they shut their eyes against the knowledg of that very truth that should have brought them to the true worship of God; Rather than they would lose their estates they would reject that knowledg; And that I think to be the meaning of the holy Ghost here, They despised as other knowledg, Text o­pened. so that knowledg of the true worship of God; so it is turned by some, Scientiam illam, that kind of knowledg they rejected; For they knew that these truths were suffering truths,Obser. ‘Now suffering truths are truths that wil hardly go down with men nor with many a Minister, they had therefore rather be ignorant of them;’ as the holy Ghost in Ezekiel speaks of men that shut their eyes against the Sabbath, so they shut their eyes against those truths that should have brought them to the true worship of God. And in this case it is not enough for a man to say, God knows I go not against my conscience, if my conscience were convinced that such and such things must be in the worship of God, if my conscience told me than this were the Word of God, I would obey it: But the reason they see this not to be the Word of God, why their consciences tell them not so, is, ‘Because they have no mind to know it, they reject that knowledg, it is against their case and preferment, and it is suffering truth, and therefore they shut their eyes against it.’ This is no excuse, Mark the judgment follows upon this.

Therefore I will reject you.] You despise knowledg, I will despise you, so the words may be read as well as re [...]ect you; God scor­neth wicked men as much as they scorn him,Psal. 18. with the fro­ward he will deal frowardly, and with the scornful he will deal scornfully, that is, he will laugh them to scorn: What do you look upon Gods waies and worship as a vile thing? Are the thruths of God vile in your eyes? You are vile in Gods eyes, God looks upon you and your spirits as base and con­temptible as you can look upon his Worship and his Saints [Page 95] and Ordinances. You despise knowledg and I will despise you saith God.

And I will r [...]ject you.] The word here translated reject, that is for despising, [...] pro [...] it hath a letter in it more than it hath in any other place in all the scripture. It is a Note of Tremelius from thence, there is a letter in this word in the Hebrew that is re­dundant, that is beyond the ordinary forme of it, and this is his note upon it in his Comment upon this Text, It noteth saith he, the extraordinary manner of Gods rejecting them,Temelius. he will cast them out of the hearts of his people; as he doth apostate Ministers, above all others God casts out apostate Mi­nisters out of the hearts of people: There is a peculiar way of Gods rejecting wicked Ministers, an extraordinary way,Obs. more than despising and rejecting any other, and there is that shame and contempt cast upon them more than any in the world; That is his note upon this; he will reject them with contempt: Yea for ever. You heard before in Luk. 6. that Christ pronounced his Disciples, faithfull preachers, blessed when their names were call out as evil, when they were vilifi­ed by men. But now mark, when a Minister goes on faith­fully in declaring the mind of God unto people, and there be shame cast upon him, blessed be that Minister; but if the Mi­nister be wicked and there be shame cast upon him, that shame is a part of the curse, for then he is cast out as unsavory salt and men tread upon it saies Christ. Wicked men would cast out the godly, but God and Gods Saint [...] they embrace them, and they bless God for them; but if you be wicked and men cast you out as unsavory salt, then men contemn you, then you are troden upon. Yea so rejected as never to be received again. Ezek. 44.13. the Priests there that did forsake the Lord when Israel forsook him, most never again come neer unto God, no not so much as neer unto the Priests Office. A notable text that concerns you to know for your direction a­bout receiving in wicked persons that have been wicked in ill times. ‘Perhaps now they preach good Sermons, but you are to enquire what they were when others were superstiti­ous and evil; and although we are not utterly to reject them, [Page 96] yet until there be further evidence of their repentance they are not to be received.’ God threatneth an utter rejection of those Levits that forsook God when Israel forsook him.

Now the observation that I should have noted from hence is this,Obser. That unfaithfulness in service provokes God to cast us out of service. I cannot stand to set an edge upon it.

And then another Note is this, That it is a great judgment to be rejected from the Priests Office, Obser. from the Office of a Minister. I will reject thee that thou shalt be no Priest to me. To be rejected from any imployment it is a great judgment, Neb. 5.13. So God shake out every man from his house and from his labor that per­formeth not this promise. It is a judgment to be shaken out of our labour, but to be shaken out of such an office whereby we draw so nigh unto God as to be the mouth of God unto the people, and the mouth of the people unto God again, this is a sore evil.

Again, whereas it may be said, Israel had no true Priests therefore it was no judgment for them to be rejected out of that Office. But to be cast out of what we seem to have, that is likewise a judgment of God, Luk. 8.18.

—Seeing thou hast forgotten the Law of God, I will also forget thy children.

You have forgotten the Law.] You live so as you shew that you never think of the Law, of the holiness, equity and autho­rity of it, and the threats annexed unto it, for if you remem­bred these you could not go on so quietly in a sinful way, but you have cast off all the remembrance of the Law, it is even worn out of your memory. The book of the Law of God was lost for a long time in Judah, surely in Israel much more.

I will forget] Eti [...]m Ego, even I. It is a sad thing to be for­gotten by our friends when we are in misery, [...] Oh that such a deer friend, such a father or such a mother should forget me! but how sad a thing is it for God to forget you!

Yea, I will forget your children] That is, there shall be no succession in the Priestly office. This was threatned against Eli his house 1 Sam. 2.20. ‘It is a blessing for children of [Page 97] godly Ministers being godly to succeed them in the Office;Observ. and the contrary is a judgment.’ Your children shall not succeed you in this Office, but they shall be forgotten by me. ‘The families of wicked Ministers thorough Gods judgment are many times forgotten.’ You have forgotten me,Obser. I wil forget you and your children. I will not here speak how the child may suffer [...]or the fathers offence, we often meet with it; On­ly now as it concerns the posterity of wicked Ministers, they are thorough Gods judgment often forgotten. But let not the families of Godly Ministers especially if their children be godly too, Oh let not them be forgotten. It is a judgment threatned upon these wicked Priests that God would forget their children, therefore though men forget them it is not so evil; but if there be any that have been faithful Ministers, God forbid their children should be forgotten after they are dead. This City hath been honored for their respect to god­ly Ministers, but have you never forgotten their children, their families that have been left behind? When they were with you and preached among you, you seemed to give migh­ty respect unto them, but are there not many that belong un­to their families now with you that live in a hard condition, yea their children and families that are godly, their widdows too? how are they forgotten! ‘If the children of godly Mi­nisters that are godly too, should go unto God and complain thus, would it not be a sad thing?’ Lord thou threatnest I­dolatrous Priests that forget thee that thou wouldest forget their children, but Lord my father in the City was a faithful Minister, he remembred thee, and he was a faithful remem­brancer for thy people, yet we are forgotten, is this according to thy Word? shall the judgment that is threatned upon the children of Idolatrous Priests be the judgment upon us that are the children of faithful Ministers that we are thus forgot­ten though our fathers forgot not thee? Look therefore into the families of godly Ministers, look after their children, for their fathers did not forget God, do not you forget them, let not the judgment that is threatned upon the children of wic­ked Ministers be upon them but let there be a distinction made [Page 98] between the children of faithful and godly Ministers and the children of Idolatrous Priests.

Verse 7.

As they were encreased, so they sinned against me; therefore will I change their glory into shame.

THe Lord is here further charging these ten Tribes, but e­specially their Priests, he aimeth at them most in this his Charge. They had before rejected the knowledg of the Lord, and the Lord threatned rejection of them. The knowledge [...] that knowledge, Scientiam illam, that knowledge of God in the way of his worship, that he was to be worshiped at Jerusalem alone, that truth was a suffering truth, therefor [...] that truth they did reject, they rejected others but especially that; And in this seventh verse here is some ground of their rejection of the knowledg of God, As they were encreased, so they sinned against me. God had encreased them, they were grown first into a great multitude, and as their number encreas'd so their sins encreas'd. But especially that which I take to be the meaning of the holy Ghost here is, ‘As their prosperous condition encreas'd; they were grown up to an height of prosperity, and that was the thing made them sin against God and reject the knowledg of God.’

The first is not to be rejected viz. As they encreased in multi­tude: [...]: so the Seventy turn it, according to their fulness. And it may be turned both waies, fulness of number, or fulness of their prosperous estate.Obser. It is a usual thing where there is encrease in number to be encrease in sin. The more meat there is in the pot the more scum ariseth.simile So in 1 great Cities what a great deal of filth is there, filth of sin, mo­ral 2 filth: Where there is any confluence of people at Fares and 3 Merkets in the Country, or in any Corporation, what abun­dance of filth is there continually? As there is any encrease in number usually there is encrease in sin. In Churches, though when they are but small, at their first beginning, a few called Saints, they can agree wel together, and go on sweetly in their [Page 99] way, but ordinarily as they increase in number, when Chur­ches grow to any number, they begin to corrupt and increase in sin. They should encrease so much the more in godliness, but this is the corruption of mans heart, every one bringing in some corruption, Therefore as there is an increase in num­ber, so in sin.

But because that is not the scope, but the second, to speak to that a little; As they encreased in their prosperous estate. For we are to know that at this time the ten Tribes were in a very prosperous condition; they were grown rich and great and so they were increast, and especially the Priests for they had the favour of Jeroboam and of the Princes; For their main design was to uphold their false worship, and the Priests served for their turns most, therefore they countenan­ced those Priests of Dan and Bethel, the Priests of the Calves, and they flourished at this time in the Court and in the Coun­trey, and were much increast in their prosperous estate; And as they increast so they finned. This is mans vile disposition,Obser. that encrease of mercies should be the encrease of their sin, Thus was it with the Church, when the Church was in a lower condition, then there was more holiness and more sin­cere love to the truth, when it began to flourish in outward prosperity it began to decay in true Piety. And therefore Ecclesiastical histories tells us, that when the Church received their donations from Constantine of great preferments, then there was heard a voyce in the air: Hodie venenum infunditur &c. To day poyson is powred forth into the Church; when great livings and great estates were given to the Ministers of the Church, then poison was powred forth into the Church. It was a good speech of Boniface the Martyr,Boniface. when one asked him whether it were lawful to receive the Communion in woodden Chalices, his Answer was, Time was when in the Church there were woodden Challices and golden Priests, but now there are golden Challices, but woodden Priests. And the answer of Aquinas Aquinas was fit for this to Innocent the third, when he shewed him a table of gold and silver saying, we have no need to say as Peter once did, Silver and gold have we none; Aquinas answe­red [Page 100] presently, neither can ye say, Arise and walk, as you have more money than they had, so you have less gifts than they had, you have not so much of the Spirit of God as they had. It was so in the encrease of the prosperity of the Church; And usually it is so in the encrease of their prosperity.simile spleen. As it is with the spleen the greater it grows the less the body is, so the more prosperity the leaner and lanker are the spirits of men. Deut. 32.15. Thou art waxed fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness, then he forsook God which made him and lightly esteemed the God of his salvation. How many when they were low and poor in their estates were more holy and gracious and more spiritual than now they are? It is true in particu­lar persons, in Churches and Countries, but most true in Mi­nisters. It was once a complaint that was made to a Prelate here, that he had a kinsman that was a very zealous preacher in the Countrey, well saies he, I'le silence him, and his silen­cing was this, he gave him two livings and that stopped his mouth;Jerome. Quando Ecclesia ad Principes christianos venit, fa­ctam fuisse opibut ple­niorem, sed virtutib. minorem ait. when he came once to have fatted livings then his zeal quickly abated. And Hierome in the life of Malachus hath this expression, when the Church saith he came to Chri­stian Princes, and there had countenance, we may well say of it that indeed it was fatted with riches but it was less a great deal in vertue and godliness.

God threatneth here that seing they did abuse their prospe­rity, as they did encrease they sinned more, that therefore he would turn their glory into shame, he would cast dirt into their faces. God doth love to stain the pride, the haughtiness of men. He would turn the glory of the people and the glory of the Priests, but especially the glory of the Priests (for so it is meant, but we must take in all) into shame; Either first he would in stead of glory bring shame, or secondly he would make that wherein they did most glory to be their shame.

First, That he would bring shame in stead of glory. So God useth to do. If any one glory in beauty, God brings that which makes them contemptible many times in stead of that beauty. That is a notable text for women that glory in their beauty and in their bravery, Isa. 3.16.24. Because the daugh­ters [Page 101] of Zion are hauty &c. therefore there shall be destruction upon them; and ver. 24. There shall be burning in stead of beauty, and instead of well-set hair, baldness, and in stead of their brave dressing, sackcloth. If any will glory in parts, the Lord justly brings shame upon them, blasting of their parts,Albertus magnus nec literas sciret, ita ignoramus fuit. as it is said of Al­bertus Magnus that great Scholer, that for five yeers before his death he did dote and was so ignorant that he did not know letters, he could not reade. God can soon blast the parts of men that glory in them and turn that to shame. If any glory in riches, God can soon turn that into shame too, As histo­ries tells us of an Earl of Exceter Earl of Exceter that married the sister of King Edward the Fourth, and yet Philip de Commines reports of him, that he was seen begging of his bread in the Low Countries barefoot. God can soon take away the riches of men and turn that their glory into their shame. And then if any boast in honor, glory in that, God can soon turn that into shame, as in that example of Herod that gloried in the applause of the people when they cried out the voice of God and not of man, and presently he was consumed by worms.

And much shame comes unto men that glory in these things, Mark it, according to the glory of men in external things so is their shame when God takes them away. Here is the difference between the Saints losing these outward things and wicked men. When the Saints lose these outward things there is not much shame comes to them, because they did not much glory in them when they had them; but carnal hearts because they know no higher things than these things are therefore when they are taken from them there is much shame comes upon them, for their glory was in them when they had them.

Secondly, God makes the very things they glory in to turn to their 2 shame. He doth not only take away their parts and bring ig­norance and dotage instead of their parts, but he makes their parts to be their undoing, he makes use of their parts to bring them to shame. He makes their very riches and honors to be their shame, and their glorying in their success, he makes that thing turn unto their shame; As now, when men [Page 102] shall glory in this that they had such success such a victory upon such and such a time, and upon this they gather an ar­gument, surely God is with us and blesseth us and owneth us; in this they glory; well, God turns this into their shame when he comes to be against them, and blasts them that they shall not have success, that it shall appear unto all that though they have outward means for advantage yet they go by the worst; now where is the argument of Gods owning their cause,success where is the argument of glorying with them if that were a good argument that God was with them because of their success? Those that shall make that the only or prin­cipal argument that God is with them, how doth God turn their glory into shame when he doth apparantly deny them success and that when they have most outward advantages for success? The Saints shame is turned into glory, but the wic­keds glory is turned into shame. When the Saints suffer any shame for God, they can glory; the Apostles they account it their honor, they rejoyce that they were worthy to suffer, that they had the honor to suffer dishonor, [...] so the words in the propriety of them signifie, they gloried that they bore a­bout them the marks of the Lord Jesus. Thus what the world accounts their shame is their glory,Act. 5.41. and that which the world judgeth to be their glory is their shame.

But it is especially meant of the Priests, for so the Prophet is speaking of them. God will turn their glory into shame. The Priests though they did reject the knowledg of God and their duty, they never regarded to do that wherein the true glory of their office was; That blessed knowledg of God that might have made them glorious indeed, that was despised by them, and the faithful administration of their office, that was neg­lected by them; Yet they would glory for all this, they would bear it out as if they were THE men; why, they were countenanced at Court,Obs. they had good livings and they could lord it over their brethren; and they gloried in that. It is usual with wicked Priests if they can have but countenance from them that are in publick place, and can have but estates and livings, though they be never so negligent of their office [Page 103] and never so ignorant, yet to glory. How hath it been a­mongst us thus of late? How have they carried their heads on high and accounted themselves the triumphant Church, and all must be made to come under them; The land was not able to bear the pride of Prelates and Prelatical men. It is a speech of Cyprian, Ambitio et superbia suaviter dormit in sinu Sacer­dotum Cipr. de jejun. &c. Ambition and Pride doth sweetly sleep in the bosom of Priests; And there are none indeed so much puffed up with vain pride as they are, and as such as are most ignorant and do neglect that which is the true glory of their office. God threatneth to turn their glory into shame, that is, the glory of their Priestly office, for that I think especially to be the meaning of the words, to cast shame and contempt upon the Priests. And God doth take much delight in this, to cast shame and contempt upon wicked Priests and Prophets, there­fore in Esa. 9.15. God saith, The Prophet that speaks lyes is the tail, he speaks contemptibly of them; And Malac. 2.9. There fore I will make them (speaking of the Priests that had been par­tial in the Law and had not kept the waies of God) base and contemptible before all the people; And Rev. 3.16. I will spue them out of my mouth, as loathsom. And Mat. 5.13. When salt hath lost his favour, it is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and to be troden under foot of men, as a contemptible and vile thing. Thus God casts shame upon wicked Priests. So much for that seventh verse. It follows.

Vers. 8.

They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity.

THey eat up the sin of my people] There is some difficulty in these words. To eat up sin, to eat up the sin of people, what is that? There is much in this to be learned.

The word here translated Sin, [...] in Scripture hath three ac­ceptions.

First, It is used for that which is properly sin, the trans­gression of Gods Law. That I need not give you any Scrip­ture for.

Secondly, It is used for the punishment of sin; He shall bear his sin, his punishment of sin. Christ was made sin. And

Thirdly, It is used for the sacrifice that was offered for sin, Levit. 10.17. why did you not eat the sin in the holy place? so the words are to be read, that is, the sin offering.

The observation from hence (by way of allusion at least) that one hath is not to be neglected:Audiant hoc sacer­dotes &c. Let Priests hear this, They did not eat the sin-offering in the holy place: Let those Priests that spend their time in playing, in pleasures of the flesh, in Ta­verns, and make their houses to be very sinks of vice, Let them hearken unto this, They should eat the revenues they have by their Office in an holy place, that is, by way of Analogie and proportion, their houses in which they spend the allowance they have for their office, should be holy places; for the offe­rings of the people were such as the Priests had in lciu of their office, and they were to eat them in an holy place. So Mini­sters now should eat their means they have coming in, in holy places, their houses should be Sanctuaries, and not Taverns or stews, or sinks of wickedness and sin. (But that by the way.)

For the meaning here, They eat up the sin of my people.

Where lies the Charg?

First here, in that they did flatter them in their sin, and so got advantage thereby:Greg. Cur pecata poopuli co­medere di­cuntur, nisi quia pecata deliquen­tium &c. So Gregory hath it, Why or how are they said to eat up the sin of people, but because they do nou­rish the sins of those that are delinquents for their own advan­tage? So all your Court-flatterers and others, that flatter men in their sin for their own advantage, they may be said to feed upon the sins of the people.

Secondly, They eat the sins of the people in this regard, Because they were negligent in their office, and took all the profits, the advantages that came in by their office, but negle­cted their charge, and so let people go on in their sin, and ca­red not what became of them in that regard, so that they might have their tythes and means coming in they cared not: These Ministers may be said to live upon, or to eat the sins of the people, and to wear the sins of the people, their very backs [Page 105] are covered and their tables spread with the sins of the people. A Writer upon this place relates a story of one in Charles the fifths time, a Prelate,Ob hos ci­bes ego ad­dicor gebe­nua poenis, & vos da­pos that inviting his friends unto his house and preparing good cheer, they did not eat of it; What faith he, wil you not eat of dainties that are bought at so dear a rate? this meat which I have prepared for you and you wil not eat, it is like to cost me the pains of hell: He was convinced in his conscience of the neglect of his duty, and so looked upon his very dyet that was on his table as the sins of his people, and that which was like to cost him eternal misery.

But further, to open it far more clearly, [They eat up the sins of my people] That is, the Sacrifices which were offered for sin.

But you will say then, Quest. how is this so deep a charge that they should eat of the sacrifices that were offered for sin? for God allowed the Priests to eat the sin offering, as that place Levit 10.17. shews.

This therefore was the evil that was in it, Quest. that they were greedy of the peoples sacrifices, but why? Not that God might have honor; but that themselves might have advanta­tages. It is true God had honor by the peoples offering of sa­crifice, but they looked not to that so much as unto their own advantages. Hence they put on people as much as they could to sacrifice, teaching them to rest in their sacrifices, and indeed making light of their sin; though you sin, Come and I will offer for your sins and they shall be pardoned. Just as the Papists do at this day, they teach the people though they sin yet by so many Masses, and Pater-nosters, and Indulgences, and Dirges they shall be delivered; and by this means they get the wealth of Kingdoms and eat up the sins of the people. The Priests in those times were images of the Papists now.

Again, They were glad when people did offend and sin a­gainst 3 God, why? because then their sacrifices must be multi­plied, and so their gains would be encreased: And so it is a rebuke of the covetousness of Priests. It is a most abomina­ble thing for those that are to watch over souls that they should regard their own profit and sensuality more than the good of souls; Just like your Chancellors and Commissaries Courts that were wont to be, they cated not what offences [Page 106] there were,Bern. Populi mei peccata co­medunt; quasi licat, peccatorū prelie exi­gunt, & peccantib. debitā sol­licitudinè non impen­dunt & rursum: Quam da­bis mihi numero prepositorū qui nō plus invigiles subditorū [...]acuandis marsupijs, quam vitijs extirpancis they rejoyced at long presentments, all brought griest to their Mill. And Bernard in his 77. Sermon upon the Canticles quoteth this place, (It seems there were such then in his time) and saith he, They eat upon the sin of my people, as if he should say; they exact the price of their sin, but take not due care for the sinners. And again, Give me (saith he) any one of those that are Governors in the Church that doth not watch more to empty peoples purses than to save their souls: How many Commissaries and Chancellours of late grew extraordinary rich, and went up and down in their silks and sattins and in their Coaches, and all this was the sins of the people.

It is then a most cursed thing to desire or rejoyce in the sins of others because of our own advantage. That is the special observation here. How many are there that watch for the falls of their enemies, and rejoyce in their sin? I appeal unto you, had you an enemy to you, when you heard of his fall, though it were a sin against God, yet if it tended unto his disgrace, did not you rejoyce in it? were you not glad of it? because the more an enemy is disgraced the more you think your self justified and honored. Oh this is horrible! Oh be humbled before the Lord for this, and seek unto God that if it be possible he may pardon the thoughts of thy heart in this thing. What, to rejoyce that the infinite blessed God is dis­honored because thou thy self hast an advantage, it is a most horrible cursed thing. How many are there that looking up­on the professors of Religion whom they think to be adversa­ries unto them, do rejoyce when they see them fall, why? be­cause they think by their disgracing, themselves to be thereby justified. This is to feed upon the sins of people. You shall have vermine and swine rooting in filth and in dung,simile swine. so there are many that feed upon the filth and dung of others, upon the filth of their sins. It is a vile and cursed wickedness to be glad of the afflictions of our neighbor for our own advantage, much more to be glad of his sin. When thy neighbour falls into affliction thou shouldst not rejoice at his affliction though thou hast advantage by it; but when thy neighbor falls into sin, to be glad of it for thine own advantage, this is a most [Page 107] cursed thing indeed.Chyurgion For a Chirurgion to be glad of another mans wounds and to prolong the healing of them be­cause he thereby shall have some advantage, would not every one cry out of him? And truly this were wickedness. So for Soldiers to love war,Souldier and to lengthen out war, and care not what becomes of the lives of men and the woful miseries of a Kingdom so they may have long pay, (I say) for them wil­lingly to lengthen out war because of their own advantage, this you will all account a great wickedness: But this is not so bad as to be glad of the sins of people for our own advantage. Certainly as Chirurgeons that shall lengthen out the afflicti­on of their Patients for their own advantage may be said to feed, upon the matter and filthy stuff of the wound; and Sol­diers that shall lengthen out war for the encrease of their own pay may be said to drink the blood of people; those cups of wine that go down so merrily and those dishes of meat that they are so jovial with, may be said to be the flesh and the blood of people; but this is not so bad as to feed upon the sins of others. Thou that feedest upon the sin of thy brother do thou know that this diet of thine must needs breed diseases, It is no wholsom diet to feed upon the sins of people, it is such a diet as will breed Worms, breed the worm of conscience one day, and thou wilt get such a surfet as will need a strong purge of humiliation to purge thee from that surfet. It was once an expression concerning a Prelate that was very fat, one being asked the reason why such a Prelate was so very fat? why furely (saies he wittily) he grows so fat by so often eating of his own words; but no mervail though men grow to have fat hearts that feed upon the sins of people. As this is the or­dinary diet'of many, meerly to feed upon the sins of others, so especially of Ministers, and for Ministers to feed upon the sins of people so as to keep them alive by their flatteries & con­nivence, that is evil; but if by their faithful preaching they did first slay the sins of the people and then receive maintai­nance for their work, this is allowed by God, and this they may do; when God bad Peter arise and eat, he first bid him slay, Arise Peter slay and eat; Allusion so Ministers if first they would a­rise [Page 108] and slay the sins of the people by their preaching, they may eat, that is, they may comfortably then receive maintai­nance and allowance for their work; but if they keep their sins alive, then their diet is ill diet for they feed upon their sins.

What, is there such wickedness in the hearts of men as to re­joyce in the sins of others for their own advantage?Conseg. ex opositio. Oh how much more then should the Saints rejoyce in the graces of God in others for Gods glory? In Ezek. 8.17.Ezek. 8.17 you have an expres­sion that seems hard to be understood.Opened God chargeth the people there as with other notorious evils so with this among the rest, that they did put the branch to their nose; In these words the people are charged with a most notorious wickedness, this may be often read and little understood what it is, I conceive the meaning to be this, It is a charge of this people for Idola­try, that they worshipped the Sun, or Vesta the goddess of the earth, either of both, because by them the sweet flowers and branches of trees came forth from the earth, they attributed the flourishing of trees and of the plants wholly unto the Sun whom they worshiped as a god,Sol & ho­mo, gene­runt hom­mem. or unto Vesta whom they wor­shiped is a goddess, and when they worshipped either of those in the acknowledgment of the honor due to them, they took a branch and put to their nose, thereby shewing their respect and their homage unto them as rejoycing in that good and sweet fruit that was caused by the Sun or by Vesta their god or goddess. So that God chargeth them here for so rejoycing in these creatures as to worship the Sun or the earth as the cause of it. To apply it to our purpose; As I­dolaters because they looked upon the Sun or the earth as causes of such flourishing of plants and sweetness of branches and flowers, did put them to their nose and delighted in them and thereby shewed their honoring of the Sun and of the earth;simile so should we take the graces of the Spirit of God in our brethren that are the fruits of the Sun of righteousness, for the Sun of righteousnes causeth them to flourish in the hearts of our brethren, and we should put them to our nose, smell at them, account them fragrant and thereby do honour unto [Page 109] Jesus Christ as the Author of them, this is quite contrary to this of rejoycing in the fins of people. Thus much for that phrase they eat up the sin of my people.

And they set their hearts upon their iniquity.] The words are [...] not [...] They lift up their hearts, every ones heart. Calu. It may be interpreted either of the heart of the Priests or the heart of the people, both waies, and according to the scope of the Spirit of God either way.

First the heart of the P [...]ests, they lift up their hearts to the 1 iniquity of the people, so it may be understood, for so this phrase, lifting up of the heart to a thing, doth note in Scrip­ture the earnest desire that there is in the heart for the attai­ning of such a thing; as in Deut. 24.15. speaking of poor men He is poor saith he, and sets his heart upon his wages. A poor man that wants provision for his family, he sets his heart upon his wages, Oh when shall I have my wages that I may provide for my family! now the word is here in this text of the poor man, he lifteth up his heart to his wages, Oh my wages that it might come. And Jerem. 22.27. the land whereunto they desire to return, thither shall they not return, that is, the land whereto they lift their hearts; so the word is the same here in the text, they have an earnest desire unto the land; And Ezek. 24.25. I will take from them the desire of their eyes and that whereupon they set their minds, their sons and their daughters; it is spoken of their love unto their children, they lift their minds or their hearts to their children. So that then it notes thus much, the earnest desire the Priests had unto the sins of the people, that they might have the greater advantage by them; As it is noted of some who are of poor servile spirits and whose greatest means comes in by burials,simile Sextons. that they are glad and rejoyce when they hear the bell ring, and they are ready to desire the death of men out of respect to their own [...]ees, because the more die and the richer they die the more ad­ [...]age cometh in to them. So the Priests at this time they [...] [...]he multiplying of the sins of the people that they [...] have [...]he more sacrifices thereby.

[...] rather think, according to other Interpreters, the [Page 110] scope to be more principally in regard of the lifting up of the hearts of the people, that the Priests did lighten the hearts of the people, that is thus, that they might have the more ad­vantage by their sacrifice, they do make the sins of the people nothing & encourage them in their sins, & lighten their hearts; they lift up their hearts above their sins, perswading them that if they offer sacrifice all should be well, they should be fully cleared, they need not be further troubled: Whereas indeed the Priests ought to convinc [...] mens consciences of the evil of their sins, when they came to sacrifice they ought to have shewed them how they deserved death for their sins, whereas this poor beast dies, and you are to lay your hands upon the head of it, know that your sins deserve the death of your souls eternally;the sacri­fice what it taught and they were to instruct the people how the sacrifices typified the blood of Christ, they were to tel them, you come now to offer sacrifice and to have the blood of the beasts shed, this typifieth out the Messiah that is to come into the world, the Son of God that is be made Man and to shed his precious blood to pacifie the wrath of God for your sins, and you are to exercise your faith upon this Messi­ah that is to come: they should have told them that no sin could be pardoned but by the blood of Christ, they should have loaded their consciences with their sins, they should have made their sins heavy upon their consciences, but they lightned their minds by putting such apprehensions into them that if they did but offer sacrifice all would be well, they might take their liberty then, and though they committed sin again yet still there was a sacrifice for it, and so they lightned the sins of the people that way.

This was a most abominable sin of the Priests, Calvin up­on this place brings in Plato himself that Heathen,Calvin. Plato. inveighing against the absurdity and ridiculousness of peoples offering sacrifice thinking thereby to pacifie their gods and then take liberty to sin again, Even Plato thought it an abuse of an Heathen god for people to think it enough to offer sacrifice. And yet is not this the distemper of the hearts of many people amongst us, that they commit sin and take liberty to them­selves [Page 111] to satisfie the lusts of the flesh, and what will they do? They will pray to God to forgive them, and some go so far that they will fast, and then sin again, and then pray and fast again, and then to it again, thinking to put off God with such kind of sacrifices as these are; It is true, we are all linners and we must repent, and so tin, and repent, and sin and repent again, and so make repentance that should be the death of their sins a means to nourish their sins. The Priests here did abuse the type, the sacrifices, they lighten the hearts of people by telling them that there was a sacrifice to expiate their sin, and have you not at this day many that abuse the Antitype as much, that tell the people with such kind of ex­pressions as there, ‘Sin at fast as you can, there is a sufficient sacrifice for sin, it is but to beleeve in Christ, Christ hath shed his blood for the greatest sins of all, and sin as fast as you can yet there is a price paid for sin. It is true there may be some truth in the words some matter in them without cloathing them with such absurdities, that is, that there is a sacrifice for the greatest sin, but now to speak to people upon this in such a manner, sin as fast as you can there is a sacrifice for sin, for it is the manner, the Modus, that doth either en­courage or keep back people from sin. I appeal unto you, whether have you not many that do reveal Christ in such a way and manner and open the rich and glorious free grace of God in Christ as is an encouragement to people unto sin. It is true when they come to be examined they deny it, no God forbid, they do not encourage men to sin, they only tel them of Gods free grace: Yea but they tell them of it in such a manner without such cautions as prudent wise cons­cionable Ministers use to do; And therefore you find that all your lewd and looser sort of Professors close with them because they have such a way of preaching of free grace.’ It appears that in Hierome his time there were such a kind of people, for he hath this expression of some in his daies;Ierom a­gainst the abusers of Free-grace when they saw any to live wickedly they would say thus to them, you sin and offend, but God requireth nothing else but only abide in the truth of the faith, do but beleeve and that is e­nough. [Page 112] And again he hath a further expression, which faith if you do but keep God doth not so much regard your lives what they are, only looks that you do beleeve: And by this means faith he men repent not neither are they humbled, but they walk up and down with a stretched out neck; you shall find them by their very gate, they walk so peartly abroad and cast up their heads, because they think they hold the true faith and so take liberty to sin. The Church hath been continually troubled with this generation, and no mervail there be such men now amongst us, for there being not yet a full Reformation (for we are but in the way tending toward it) and all things cannot be reformed at once, therefore some kind of liberty for the present is permitted to such men, and therefore I say no mervail that we have such among us that are of such spirits to abuse the free grace of God and lighten the hearts of men in their sin by telling of them there is a sa­crifice in Christs death sufficient to pay for all. And so much for this eighth verse.

Verse 9.

And there shall be like people like Priest; and I will punish them for their waies, and reward them for their doings.

THE Lord threatning of the ten Tribes, especially points his threats against the Priests, as the great cause of the evil both of the sin and punishment of the people, as ever they have been; Evil Ministers in a countrey have been a chief cause of the sin and of the misery of the Countrey. Divers of Gods threats against them we saw before and still it fol­lows.

There shall be like people, like Priest.] Here is a mixt threat, both against Priest and people. They have made themselves like one another in sin,Obser. God will make them like one another in punishment. They joyn themselves together in sin and were alike there; God wil joyn them in judgment and they shal be alike there too. There is a likeness between people and Priest upon two grounds, I mean in evil especially.

First, They are like in sin one to another usually from the 1 just judgment of God upon people. When people dislike the powerful Ministry of the word,Obser. when their hearts cannot bear a spiritual and lively Ministry God in just judgment sen­deth unto them Ministers according to their very lusts; Mi­nisters that shall be sutable unto that very disposition of their hearts to harden them in it. And this is a fearful judgment upon a people. They may rejoyce and bless themselves in it and think themselves now quiet and in safety, and say they have got a very honest man, a brave man, a quiet man amongst them; but while they are rejoycing the wrath of God is in a most dreadful manner let out against them, in sending them a Minister according to their lusts; As God threatneth in Ezek. 14.4. If a man set up an Idol in his heart, God will answer him accor­ding to his Idol; so when people set up Idols in their hearts, their hearts are bent unto such and such lusts and wicked waies, God in his just judgment will answer them according unto their own hearts and lusts, they shall have such Ministers sent amongst them as will harden them in those wicked waies.

Again secondly, [Like people like Priest] In evil in regard 2 of the great influence that there is mutualy from the Priests to the people and from the people to the Priests, so they come to be like one another in evil. Sometime from the people to the Priests. If people be Malignants and superstitious and loose and vain, the Priests that are among them being carnal, they will seek to humour them; they love to be made of by them and therefore they preach such things as may suit with such kind of humours. But this is a very vile thing. It is an ex­tream dishonor to the Ministry of the word to subject it unto the lusts of men. It is this that makes it so contemptible in the eyes of wicked men. Though they be pleased with it yet the truth is the suiting of their lusts makes the Ministry of the word contemptible. How is that you will say, they are pleased with it, commend such men and like them well? While they commend the men and like them well, yea like what they say yet they contemn the Ministry, upon this ground, [Page 114] because they come to see that even their ministry is under their humours, and it is to please their humours; upon this they look upon themselves and their lusts as above the Ministry, and so despise any authority in it: They are pleased with the suiting of it to their lusts, but they despise it in regard of any authority, for they see apparantly it is under their hu­mors. In Revel. 19.10.Rev. 19.10. When John did but fall down to worship an Angel,Opened the Angel cometh to him and saith, O see thou do it not, why? for I am thy fellow servant and have the te­stimony of Jesus. What you a Minister that have the testimony of Jesus to fall down to an Angel; An Angel, what is an An­gel? The glory of an Angel it is to be a fellow servant with you and to have the same testimony of Jesus that you have. A Minister must not in hi [...] ministry fall down under the lusts of any man living, upon this ground, bccause he hath the testi­mony of Jesus with him. It is true those that are Ministers in regard of themselves should be willing to be under all, servants unto all for Christ; they should I say be willing to put their persons under every man for Christ, but they should keep their Ministry above every man. Their Ministry and the au­thority of that is to be kept above the greatest and that for Christ too.

3 Again, A great influence as from people to the Minister so from the Minister to the people. Look how Ministers are, so usually the people are. Like Priest like people, especially in e­vil, they have an influence there. You know it almost in all places where you have malignant superstitious Ministers you have accordingly such kind of people. Jerem. 23.10. The land is ful of adulterers (saith the text) then in the next verse, For both Prophet and Priest are prophane, that is the reason. And again vers. 14. I have seen (saith God) in the Prophets of Jerusa­lem an horrible thing; they commit adultery and walk in lyes; they also strengthen the ban [...] of evil doers, that none doth return from his wickedness. Here we [...]ee how they harden others in sin, they walk in lyes, they tell people we need not be so strict, we may take more liberty, it is but the fancies and humors of such and such men, they walk in lyes and so they strengthen mens [Page 115] hands in wickedness and none returneth from his wicked waies. And then verse 15. From the Prophet there goes prophaness quite thorough the land; if they be prophane and wicked they have an influence quite thorough the land to make the whol countrey wicked and prophane. And on the other side, there is a great influence in the Ministry of the word upon people for good many times. If Ministers continue painful, faithful, conscionable, it is very rare but that they bring people to some kind of obedience or other. Very few godly, conscio­nable, powerful Ministers that have lived any time in any place but they leave some savour of their spirits behind them, that in their people you may find the savour of such a Mini­stry. It was wont to be said, Da Ambrosios et habebimus Theo­dosios let us have Ambroses and we shall have Theodosius's. Let us have godly Ministers at Court and we shall have godly Princes; that is the meaning; The reason why Theodosius was so good, it was because he had an Ambrose. So we find it in 2 King. 12.2. that Jehoash so long as Jehojada the Priest li­ved, did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, so long as he had a godly Minister with him that instructed him, he did that which was right in the eyes of God. No mervail then so much evil at Court and other places because we know what kind of Ministers they ever have had. And because of the influence that a Minister hath upon people, hence it is that the evil and malignant party ever desire to nourish these Mini­sters; and the force of their rage and malice is against godly Ministers, for like Minister like people they think; and indeed supposing their principles it is but that which is prudential for their ends; for when they cry out and say that these Mi­nisters are the cause of al, they say true, & there is some kind of truth in it, that is, they are the cause to discover to people their evil and wicked waies, and to cause those to whom they preach to cleave to the truth, and that is it their spirits do vex and rage at, that they see the Ministry of the Word pre­vail so much upon the people as it doth. Therefore I remem­ber a pulicie that I have read of Xerxes, that when he was in straights by reason of Agiselaus who prevailed much in his [Page 116] countrey, he took this course, he sent men with good store of money to corrupt the Towns in Greece, and they went and corrupted Athens and Thebes, and so caused great disturbance in Greece, by reason of which Agiselaus was sent for home to look to his own Countrey. They went especially for the U­niversities Athens and Thebes and there corrupted the Orators and so thought to prevail much. It hath been the policie of our men in these daies to corrupt Universities much, thinking by Scholers and others there to prevail most. There is a sto­ry of the Wolves that they would make a league with the Sheep, but they would by any means have one article gran­ted, that was that their Shepheards must be delivered up unto them and then they would be at peace with the Sheep and do them no hurt. I make no question but if our adversaries should come to article with us, there is no one thing they would stand more upon than the delivery up of the shep­heards and then there would be good peace between the Wolves and the sheep. Like people like Priest.

They are like in evil and they shall be like in punishment, they shall be involved in the same punishment, I will make the Priests as contemptible and as miserable as the vilest of the people; their places exalted them above others, and their sin hath made them as vile as others, and so they shall be dealt withal accordingly. You will say, what great judgment is here threatned that like people like Priest? Yes certainly to them the judgment was very bitter and grievous, was most against the hair, for the Priests have at all times been puffed up with their callings, so that they looked upon themselves as above the people abundantly, looked down to the people with scorn and contempt. The Pharisees in John, 7.49. This peo­ple (say they) who know not the Law are cursed, this same vulgar sort are they that are accurst; so these Priests here, though the truth is they were made of the vilest of the people (as they were in Jeroboams time, for it is spoken of those) yet being once got up into that place they were puffed up as if they had been of another kind of mould than the people were. It is usual for wicked Ministers though never so base and vile o­ther [Page 117] waies either in birth or breeding, yet when they get up a little and are come to preferment, to look upon others as very contemptible in their eyes. This i [...] a Master design in Pope­ry, to advance Priesthood and make them to be great above the people; and we know what a way they were going in of late; what were your Gentry in the Kingdom but even slaves and vassels to every Popish Priest in the Countrey, but especially unto Prelates; And we cannot imagine (but we must look at the hand of God in his dreadful judgment besot­ting men) why the Gentry should desire to have prelacy come in again, knowing how they were contemned and despised of them before. There was scarce any Vicar in the Countrey but if he were Filius Ecclesiae as they called him, a child of the Church, a ceremonious man but he was able to vaunt him­self above any of the Gentry whatsoever; and it was an evi­dent argument of the coming in of Popery upon us, a too much extolling of their Priestly Office, although that where­in the true honour of their office consisted, the faithful Prea­ching of the word, was not regarded. I have read of some of the Papists, (to give you an instance or two that you may see what way they went, ju [...]t as they did here of late) one Riconi­us hath this passage,the pride of popish Priests. The Priest ex [...]elleth the King as much as a man a beast; yea as much as God is above a Priest so is a Priest above the King; these very words he hath. And Pope Innocent the second, he would have Lotharius the Emperour painted in his pallace as a vassel lying down at his feet. And so Becanus he calls the Pope the chief Priest their Shepheard,Emperors & Kings the Popes dogs. and Emperors and Kings are their Dogs and Curs saith he, and if they will be faithful and be at the hand of the Shepheard well and good, they must be made of, but if they will be lazie and troublesom, they must be removed. Is it possible now that Kings and great ones should ever love Popery and think to bring in that for their honor when as they do advance their Priesthood far above themselves; only for the present they would puff them up to procure what lies in them an Arbitra­ry government, but stil that that Arbitrary government of theirs must be Arbitrary under them, and then it suits very [Page 118] well with their ends. There is a spirit of fornication (as fol­lows afterward) upon men, or otherwise it were impossible they should be so besootted as they are.

But though they lifted up themselves above the people thus yet saith God, I will make them in punishment like to the people, God is no respecter of persons, to spare any for their place a­bove another; So neither should we, we should not say, Oh it would be a disgrace unto the calling, therefore it must be past over; rather because he is a Priest or because he is a Magi­strate, let him be what he will be, let him be in place of Ma­gistracy or Ministry or of Parliament, yet proving to be a De­linquent and an enemy unto the State, certainly he must be dealt withal and be made an example in judgment as well as the meanest of the people, and for those that be under to be executed and for them to be spared in that regard, God for­bid ever such a thing should be. God is no accepter of persons in regard of place neither should men be.

Quest. Yea but it may be you will say, Like people like Priest, one would rather think that God should say, I will make their judgment greater than the judgment of the people, for the sin of the Priests is far greater than the sin of the people.

Answ, 1 To that I answer first, It is true the sin of the Priests is grea­ter than the sin of any of the people, but it is not greater than the sin of the whol Congregation. In Levit. 4. com­pare verse 3. with verse 13. and you shal find that the same sa­crifice that was offered for the sin of the whol Congregation, it is offered for the sin of the Priest, so that the sin of the Priest it is equivalent to the sin of the whole Congregation: So there is a parallel here, like people like Priest, that is, I will deal with the Priests as with the whol Congregation.

Answ, 2 Yet further for a second answer, As the condition of the person aggravateth the sin, so the condition of the person ag­gravateth the judgment. It is a greater punishment for a man of an high condition to suffer the same thing that a man that is of a lower condition doth suffer.

And I will punish them for their waies.] The reading you have in your books of punishing them for their waies, it is other­wise [Page 119] in the Hebrew [...] I will visit them for their waies, and so it is I think translated in some of your books, Super vi­as ejus: I will visit them upon their waies, or visit their waies upon them, so the words are. God hath his daies of visitation wherein he will narrowly enquire into the waies of men, Observ and call to an account for sins long before committed; that's the Note from thence. Exod. 32.34. In the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them; I will spare them for the present, but I have a day to visit, and then I will come upon them even for this sin. God spareth sinners now, why? because the day of his visi­tation is not yet come, but when that is come then look to your old sins; look that now your repentance be thorough, for otherwise you may be spared a while, but when the day of visitation comes then all your old sins shall be call'd over. In some mens visitations of late, the more conscionable men were and godly, the more were they aimed at, and it alwaies went worst with them in their visitations; But it shall be o­therwise in this visitation of Gods, God will visit the visitors, and visit them for their visitations, and then as Esa. 10.3. What will you d [...] in the day of visitation? You knew what to do in the day when you your selves did visit, but what will you do in the day of Gods visiting of you? As Mic. 7.4. The day of thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh, now shall be their perplex­ity. Certainly those visitors did begin to be in perplexitie, for their day was coming, and we hope their day is yet co­ming.

But in the day of Gods visitation mens own waies will come upon Obs. 2 them; that's the second Note. I will visit their waies upon them. Men may have shifts to put off God for a while, but when God shall visit, then they shall see that all the evil that is come upon them it is from their own waies; And that will be the very torment of the damned in Hell, that they shall cleerly see that all the evil that is upon them it is but their own waies.simile As it is reported of some birds that lime is made out of their dung by which they are taken, so out of the dung of mens sins doth God make his limetwigs to take them withal, that is, the judgment that comes upon them it is no other but [Page 120] their own waies, they have procured this unto them­selves.

And reward them for their deeds.] The word that is here tran­slated deeds, [...] it signifies Cogitationes, studia, their studies, their thoughts as well as opera, their works: From whence there may be these two Notes, First that God will call men to ac­count Obs. 1 for their thoughts; the uncleanness of your thoughts, the vanity of your thoughts, the envy, the malice of your thoughts;Thoughts. you must look to your thoughts, they are not free before God; that's the first point. Then, that studied Obs. 2 wickedness, thoughtful wickedness is the worst wickedness; when men shall plot wickedness in their thoughts, that is the wickednesse that above all wickednesse God will come to visit.

And reward them.] There is a great elegancy in these words that in your English you pass over very lightly. Reward them their doings: We know that God will reward every one according to their doings; [...] but I say in the Original in the Hebrew it signifies Redire faciam, I will make to return your doings, that is the propriety and elegancy of the word, I will make your doings return back upon you. From whence there is this Note,Obser. ‘Sin passeth away in the act of it with much sweetness, but God will make it return back again in the guilt of it with much bitterness.’ As Gideon said in Judg. 8.7. unto the men of Succoth, When I return, (saith he) I will tear your flesh with t [...]e thorns of the wilderness and with briars; How many men and women have past over the act of their sins very pleasantly, but within a month perhaps or a quarter of a yeer, or it may be within a yeer or two or sometime seven yeers after, God hath made their sin return upon them, and it hath returned as Gideon did return upon the men of Succoth and hath torne them with briars and thorns that they have lien roaring in the anguish of spirit for the horror that hath been upon them for their sins. You sinners that have not re­turned unto God in the way of repentance, do you expect that all those pleasant delightful sins of yours will one day return upon you and that in a dreadful way.

And from the propriety of this word Redire faciam, I will make to return, I may give a hint of a meditation the other way too. Surely the good works of the Saints shall return upon them, return upon them with comfort and peace. It may be you have some troublesom afflictions in the flesh in some works and services you are exercised in, yet know they shall return with abundance of peace and joy. Do not think that what you do for God shall be quite lost and that there is an end of it, If you venture any thing of your estates for a good use in the cause of God, as never since you were born nor since your forefathers were born, that there was a more full oppor­tunity to glorifie God than is at this day; that which is cal­led upon you to venture for the calling in of our brethren the Scots into the Nation,Scots com­ming in it i [...] such a thing that hath so much in it, such an opportunity of serving God, that you never had nor never are like to have the like so long as you live, For it is not the bringing in of so many men into the Kingdom, but the engaging of a Kingdom for us; and not only an engage­ment, but the greatest testimony of the goodness of our cause before all the Nations that are about us; for though now the Nations about us know not which part to take there ha­ving been such protestations on both sides, but when they shall hear that such a Kingdom that heretofore did carry themselves so loyally though being here in England with an Armie yet went away in so much peace, so that the King himself by proclamation declared they are his faithful and good Subjects, when these I say that had such an opportunity in their hands, yet have shewn themselves so loyal and so faithful, shall now engage themselves on one side, certainly this will be a mighty high witness before all the Nations a­bout us, and no question cannot but gain many amongst our selves. Therefore I say, it is the highest and largest and ful­lest opportunity for the service of God and good of your countrey as ever you or your forefathers had; And though you have done some what and much already, yet you never had such an opportunity as this is which you may bless God you are imploied in. And do not think now that what you [Page 122] do is quite gone and lost, Oh no, the Lord will make it re­turn, you shall have a good return for it. You that are Mer­chants are you not willing to venture your stock at Sea upon expectation of a good return? you will venture the winds and waves and seas and venture your servants that may prove unfaithful. You never ventured any thing in all your lives that you could have such assurance of a good return as what you venture in such a case as this is. It is not adventured, God will certainly make your good works to return as he wil make the doings of the wicked return upon them. It fol­lows.

Verse 10.

For they shall eat and not have enough.

Some would carry these words, They shall still grow worse and worse in eating the sin of my people, and so would refer to the eating of the sin of the people in that sense you heard be­fore, that is, they shall never think they have advantage e­nough from the sin of the people; they desire the sin of the people for their own advantage, wel, they shal eat their sin in that respect, but they shall never have enough, they shall ne­ver be satisfied, but still desire that people may sin more and more that they may have more advantage by their sacrifices.

But I rather take it thus, more plainly according to the words, They shall eat and not have enough, howsoever they think to provide for themselves by that which they get in such a base sinful way, yet they shall find no satisfaction unto them­selves in i [...], they shall be deceived. The truth is, if they should find satisfaction, it were a great matter, seeing they shall come to answer for it after wards; but they shall not on­ly be judged for it afterwards, but for the present they shall find no satisfaction in that that they promised unto themselves satisfaction in, They will get an estate perhaps, get money and get riches this way, and be brave in the world, but I will curse that which they have got. Take goods that are lawfully got yet there is a vanity in them, a vanity in goods got by good means, though we have them we cannot enjoy them except God give us to enjoy them, God is the God of all [Page 123] consolation, it is the mercy and goodness of God conveyed thorough creatures that can bring any comfort in the use of them. If a man should think to fill his be [...]ly with wind, it were a poor satisfaction; but it were worse it he should open his mouth to fill his belly with air infected with the plague: When thou thinkest to satisfie thy self with goods never so well got, it is but opening thy mouth to the wind, but when thou thinkest to satisfie thy self with goods unlawfully got, it is opening thy mouth to draw in pestilential air, there is no satisfaction there. Ecceles. 5.10. He that desires silver shall not be satisfied with it. Howsoever men think with themselves if they had such an estate what brave lives should they live; but when they have it they find it otherwise. Those that hun­ger and thirst after righteousness shall be satisfied, but they that hunger and thirst after any thing in the world they shall find it to be an empty thing unto them. It is true, there is a kind of satisfaction that God gives sometimes unto wicked men, but it is a cursed satisfaction, a fearful judgment of God. Prov. 14.14. Wicked men shall be satisfied with their own waies, that is, they shall have enough of them; as when a man will go on in his own waies and he suffers much for it, we say, what have you not enough of it, enough of such a course, so he shall be satisfied, he shall have enough of his waies, that is he shall find such plagues and miseries that follow them as he shall be satisfied, he shall be filled with them. It is spoken of an Apostate, a backslider in heart, one that will apostatise from God and think to provide for himself better in the waies of his Apostasie, he shall be satisfied but it shall be with his own waies.

And they shall commit whoredome and shall not encrease.

If we understand this of bodily whoredom, then the sense must carry it thus, that God will cross them in that, even in the way of their whoredom, they shall commit whoredom and not encrease. You will say what great judgment is that, Whoremasters do not care for encreasing? It is true now whoremasters do not desire encrease, only to satisfie their lusts, [Page 124] and in this thing they resemble evil and wicked Ministers as much as in any thing;Whore­mongers & plausa­ble Mini­sters alike as many Ministers desire only to please the fancies of their Auditors and never look after begetting a­ny unto God; they are like harlots or whoremasters in this, they love to please the fancies of men and their own fancies too, but to get children unto God, that they look not after; as whoremasters & harlots when their lusts are satisfied, they have their ends, for to bring forth, that they care not for. This is now, but in former times, in the time when the Pro­phet did prophesie, encreasing in a numerous of-spring was a special thing that all gloried in, therefore they sought it any way, not only by marrying many wives, but by their concu­bine [...] and whores too. But God threatens to send out a curse upon them that they shall not encrease. And for this it is ve­ry observable (for you may take it more general) Gods curse upon a man in any thing he undertakes unlawfully, he can never expect to prosper in it;Obser. that is the Note from it, What­soever a man undertakes unlawfully he can never expect to prosper in it. And that is very observable for this one particular con­cerning Sol [...]o [...] you know he had seven hundred wives and three hundred co [...]cubines a thousand in all, yet we reade but of one son that Solomon Solomon le [...] b [...]hind him, and that son was but a foolish son neither, Re [...]ob [...]m, whom the Scripture calls a child when he was above forty ye [...]rs old, 2 Chron. 13 7. When Rehoboam was young and tender hearted, he had a childish foo­lish heart though a rugged and churlish heart. Solomon was not blessed with a numerous progeny notwithstanding he gave himself liberty to satisfie his flesh so much as he did. But on the other side,Isaac of al the fathers in the old Testament we reade of Isaac from whom came the promised seed that were to be as the stars of Heaven and as the sand of the sea shore for nu [...]ber, yet he had but one wife, he took not that course that many of the Patriarche [...] did to marry many wives, but contented himself with one wife and yet from him came the promised seed so many as the stars and the sand for number. From which we may infer that it is the best way for us to keep to Gods Ordinances, Use. we shall prosper more in what we would [Page 125] have, to keep to Gods waies than to go out into our own sin­ful waies.

They shall not encrease] The words are read otherwise by some, Hierom Hierom hath this Note upon it, they have committed whoredom and have not ceast, so he reades it, his note upon it is this (I think that which hath been delivered unto you is the main scope, but I will only present what he notes upon it, and it is of good use) saith he, they have committed fornication & whoredom till they have spent all their strength yet they have not ceast, their hearts are stil that way; just as it is with many old whoremasters they have committed whoredome and spent their strength in their young time, yet they cease not, they have unclean hearts, their lusts boil within them notwith­standing their strength is spent. And if you reade the words so and then either take it for bodily or spiritual whoredom, they have committed whoredom and have not ceast, that is, they still go on and on in the waies of Idolatry,Observ. Idolaters seldom come in and return.

Tarnovius he hath another expression in the reading of it, [...] Non per rumpant eximent legibus aut paenis, they shall not break forth, for so the word in the Hebrew doth wel carry it, that is, they think to take liberty in their whoredom and idolatry, they break forth from Gods Laws and punishments and think still to escape Laws and punishments, to break forth from al bonds whatsoever, no saith God, they shall not break forth, God will lay fetters upon them that they shall not break forth. But I take the first to be the more special, and so we shall leave that expression, they shall commit whordom and shall not encrease. Why?

Because they have left off to take heed to the Lord.

There is a great de [...]l of elegancy in this expression. [...] They have left the Lord to take heed (so you may read the words, ad cu­stodiendum) to keep themselves within any bounds of the Commandement of God. They run wild (as if the Prophet should say) [...]nd have le [...]t off [...]o take heed of God or any of his [...] Perh [...]ps the [...] hav [...] not le [...] the Lord wholly, for they will wo [...]p God in some ex [...]ernal waies of [Page 126] worship, but God cares not for that, they have left the Lord in this to take heed of him. Though we think to follow the Lord in any external duties, if we leave to take heed of God in all his waies, he takes no notice of it: that may be one Note.

But the special thing is this, [They have left off to take heed to the Lord.] At first though temptation may prevail against a man, yet the Truth of God will be working in his conscience (I speak to one enlightned and a professor of Religion, as these were) Though at first a temptation prevail against a professor of Religion, yet he having an enlightened conscience the Truth of God will be working still in his conscience and in his heart; but now if he still give way to that lust, at length his lust will so far prevail as that he will wholly leave min­ding and regarding that Truth of God that is against his sin and give himself fully up unto the waies of his own heart; and this mans condition is very dangerous. Oh take heed of this, take heed of this not taking heed; you that begin to de­cline and you find some secret lust prevailing in your heart;Observ. wel, yet you have the Truth of God boiling and bubling in your hearts and will not let you go on quietly, but yet your lusts strive against that truth, well, if this lust be not mortifi­ed, if you give way to it that it continue a while, you will come to be weary of that truth that is against that lust and you will turn your eyes from it, Use. and you wil leave off to take heed further to think of that which should make against your sin; and when you are come to this pass your condition is very dangerous.

They have left off to take heed.] The way to keep the heart and life in order, in waies of obedience,Obs. it is, to take heed to the Lord, that is the special Note, to take heed to the infinite glorious blessed Majesty of the holy and great God, to mind God in his soveraignty, in his authority, in that infinite worthiness that is in him of all obedience from all his creatures, to look upon God the only Jehovah, the high and eternal God: This is the way to keep our hearts and lives in order, to take heed of God thus, to have God in our thoughts and hearts and to heed him diligently and his waies.

But yet there is a further note from hence and that is espe­cially intended. The evil that they are accused of is, That they did leave off to take heed of God in point of worship, for that is the thing that God especially charged them for, that they did corrupt his worship, and they did leave off to take heed of God in things of his worship, that is thus, that kind of wor­ship that they thought to be most sutable to their own reason and politick ends, that worship they set up; but now to take heed to God for the rule of worship, to look up unto God,obser. that whatsoever they had in his worship should be ac­cording to the rule he setteth, that they left off, they min­ded that no more now but altogether what was sutable to their own ends. And that is an evil thing in any Kingdom that men should leave off so to take heed; as it is almost come to that now. Use. I make no question at first but that for the go­vernment of the Church the primitive Christians had a speci­al eye to the rule, to Apostolical institution, but it is come to pass I know not how, it is almost a general conclusion a­mongst men, yea amongst good men, amongst Divines and good Divines, that we can scarce have a rule, a rule of insti­tution, they think it needs not at al, and we can find no such thing at all in the word, and so they have quite left off so much as to examin things in the word: I say they have done so. It is an evil thing for any in matters that concern the worship of God not to take heed of Gods word in it; Though in civil things we are left to prudence and reason, but when we come to matter of worship we must take heed to the word, in every particular that is properly Ecclesiastical, that is pro­perly Church-work, we must I say in every thing take heed to the Word of God. It is a notable expression that Luther hath about this, It is not saith be so much in Religion to look at what is the thing as who commands it; and he citeth Seneca, Seneca saith he gives this rule, observe not who com­mandeth but what is commanded, but in the Church and in Religion it is to be turned quite another way, it is not so much Quid but Quis and Q [...]alis and Quantus, but the Devil saith he changeth this into quid quale quantum, that is, he changeth [Page 128] this who, and what manner of person, and how great a one commandeth; into this; what, what manner, and how great a thing. So that this is the reason why many despise some Ordinances in the Church, why what great matters are there in these things? So they look to the thing and not to the in­stitution; whereas did we look to Christ the Institutor which we should do, we should look more to the institution than unto the thing it self. Let the thing commanded be never so low and poor, never so mean in it self, yet the institution must be honored. Take heed to God especially in the point of worship. So we have done with the tenth verse. It follows.

Verse 11.

Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.

Still the holy Ghost envyeth especially against the Priests; for their whordom, their wine and new wine did take away their hearts. [...] Take away, The words are translated diversly, either Take the heart, or, Take away the heart.

Take the heart.] So I find some turn it, and there is a good sense of it, that is, these lusts do take possession of their hearts. It is one thing for a man to be overtaken with a lust, and ano­ther thing for a lust to take a man. It is said of the godly that they are overtaken, but it is said of these that their lusts take them; but now when it comes to this that you do not only yeild to a temptation but a temptation takes you, when you are taken captive, whoredom and wine they have taken their hearts. So some.

But I rather think the other more proper, these lusts take away the heart. It is true, of any one lust there is not one lust harboured in the heart of a man but in time it will take away his heart, will eat out all the juyce and strength and vigor of any thing that is in him. That is the reason that ma­ny professors grow so sapless, so heavy, so dull, so de [...]d in the way of Religion, there is some secret lust or other that they have a haunt after and that doth take away their hearts, that now their hearts are like to dead beer, all [Page 129] their spirit and life is quite gone and their lust hath eaten it out; And that, man is in a sad condition whose vigor and strength is gone and eaten out by some lust in his heart.

But to speak of these lusts as they are here set forth unto us, these two sins, whoredom and drunkenness. I shall not speak of the nature of the sins, I have spoken somewhat of that in the beginning of the Chapter, but I shall only speak of them in the expression of the holy Ghost here, to shew you a little how these take away the heart.

First, For both the sins in general, as they are sins of sensu­ality, 1 joyning them both together. Only one Note first from the connexion, they left off to take heed of God in point of his worship, now it seems they are left to the sins of whore­dom and drunkenness; the Note therefore is, It is just with God that they that will not seek to satisfie their souls in him­self they shall be given over to base filthy delights of the flesh,Obser. that they shall never have any other comforts but those. Let them have those comforts saith God, there is all the comfort that ever they shall find. So we reade in Rom. 1. that when they did not glorifie God as God he gave them up unto unna­tural affections and unclean sins.

Sensuality it is a besotting sin (that is the Note) sensuality either in whoredom or intemperancy in drinking.Obser. Unclean­nesse. You know how it took away the heart of Solomon Solomon (who was so wise) as that his wives did trun away his heart from God, and turned him to Idolatry. And so it did Sampson Sampson who was so strong, when Delilah had first taken his heart then she took away his heart, for you know in the story though she sought his destru­ction many times, he saw it apparantly that she sought his life, to give him up into the hands of the Philistines, yet for all this Sampsons heart could not be taken off from Delilah. The Scripture speaks of the sin of lust for this most fully. Prov. 2.19. None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life; None that go unto the whore returneth, or as some would read it interogatively, do any return that go un­to her? It is a rare thing for any one to return whose heart is taken with a whore, or ever to enter into the paths of life. [Page 130] The holy Ghost speaks this, make of it what you will. And again 2 Pet. 2.14.2 Pet. 2 14 Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; Opened when as eyes come to be full of adultery they cannot cease from sin; their hearts are so taken off from all good. And Prov. 23.27 A whore is a deep ditch, and a strange woman is a narrow pit; It is hard to get out of a deep ditch, e­specially if the mouth be narrow too; those that are got in there are like to Jeremiah that was put in the dungeon where there was no water but filth and mire so that he sunk in the mire; and except the Lord send from Heaven long cords of his mercy, it is unlike they should ever come out but they must die and perish, and how many thousands do die and perish? Nothing ever deaded Davids heart more than that sin of adultery; Psal 51. he cries out Oh establish me with thy free Spirit, as if he should say, Lord I was wont to have more power over temptation, but now I am weak and quickly overcome, Lord stablish me. And as the sin of uncleanness takes the heart away from God and from truth, therefore in that place of Peter verse 18. the professors were assured thorough the lusts of the flesh unto much wantonness, even such as had e­scaped, vertually escaped the pollutions of the world and from them who live in error; So drunkenness,Drunken­nesse that likewise takes away the heart, wine takes away the heart exceedingly. When Solomon gave himself to wine, he took hold of folly at that time,Opened Eccles. 2.3.Eccles. 2.3 though somewhat of his wisdom re mained, yet wine took way his heart in a great measure. He gave himself liberty (as appeareth by that Scripture, though we reade not of drunkenness) yet he gave himself liberty to satisfie himself with wine and then he took hold on folly. Those that give themselves liberty in drinking wine and strong drink they are besotted in their very parts,simile as you know by experience, they are as a snuff of a candle in a soc­ket, drowned in the tallow, a while since it gave a good light over the room, but now being even drowned in the tallow there is nothing lest but a little smoke and a stinking snuff and little or no light remaining; so manie men when they were young were like a candle upon the table that gave light [Page 131] to all about them, but now having given themselves up to the satisfaction of that filthy and vile lust of drinking,simile all their parts are become like a snuff of a candle in the socket, almost drowned in the tallow. Or rather they are become as a quag­mire, we know if the husband man should sow never such pre­cious seed in a quagmire, what fruit will it bring forth? Au­stin hath this expression, just as when the ground hath too much rain it grows miery and dirty and is not fit for seed, so do those that ingulge themselves in drink. Therefore in Ezek. 47.11.Ezek. 47.11. it is said the waters of the Sanstuary did not heal the miery places and the marishes,Opened miery hearts are seldom healed by the waters of the Sanctuary.Basil, Serm. de Ebrietab. Basil in a Sermon of his up­on intemperancy, makes drunkenness as the Idols spoken of in the Psalms, that have ears and hear not, and eyes and see not, and feet and walk not, it takes away their standing and their understanding likewise, their very parts are taken away and they are left at liberty unto all kind of wickedness. How many are therethat were excellent when they were young, yet being taken with that lust, how are they grown like Esau that sold his birthright for a mess of pottage, so these will sell Heaven for a cup of wine; yea they are more prophane than Esau, for he was in a straight, he came out of the field and be was very hungery and he thought he should die if he had not the pottage, so that he sold his birthright for a mess of pottage out of a kind of necessity, which he might plead; but these will sell their souls and Heaven and all meerly to please that humor, that lust, venture the health of their bo­dies, the consuming of their estates, the loss of their friends, the shaming of themselves, the ruin of their names and the damnation of their souls and all for a little drink. Oh how doth this besot men that otherwise have excellent parts!

Well, But these two are applied here unto the Priests, and so we must make use of them especially, That whoredom and Wine and new wine did take away their hearts, for these Priests (as before we have heard) they did reject the knowledg of God, and so left off the work they were appointed to do, to instruct the people, therefore the people were brought up in [Page 132] ignorance; now they leaving their office, their duty that they should perform in the place they were set in, they gave themselves up to sensuality, to whoredom and to wine. From hence this may be the note, ‘That Ministers when they are negligent in preaching usually they grow sensual.Obser. We find it so in experience, we need not go about to prove it. Have there not been many that in their younger time have been forward preachers, and when they have gotten livings and preferment, never minded their studie and preaching any lon­ger, but gave themselves to satisfie the flesh in uncleanness and filthy lusts and grew to drinking? do we not know some that have had excellent parts when they were young and having gotten preferment fell to drinking and uncleanness? People are but in an evil case when they have such Ministers. Esa. 56.9. Ye beasts of the field come to devour, yea all ye beasts of the forrest, what is the matter? the 12. verse shews what kind of Priests and Prophets they had, Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill our selves with strong drink, and to morrow shall be as this day and much more abundant; such kind of Priests they had, and then all ye beasts of the field come to devour, you lie open to all kind of misery. Paul would have Timothy when he was weak drink a little wine for his stomachs sake and often in­firmity; he good man out of conscience it seems would drink but water, though he were but a weak young man, yet for fear least it might do hurt he would drink but water till he had a commission from Paul; he was fain to exhort him to drink wine and yet it was but a little, drink a little wine. Oh those in publique places especially should take heed of intem­perancy. I have read of some Heathens that they have made it death for a King or a Magistrate to be drunk. It follows.

Verse 12.

My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them.

There is a little more difficultie in these words than in the former. Only first from the connection there is this useful [Page 133] Note,Observ ‘That bodily and spiritual whoredom use to go toge­ther.’ Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart, and then, they ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth un­to them. First they are besotted with these lusts and then they fall to the most gross waies of Idolatry, for these words in this verse seem to express the most gross and stupid Idolatry that ever was in the world, to ask counsel of their stocks, and their staff to declare unto them; but when they had given up themselves to the lusts of their hearts then they grew most sot­tish in their way of Idolatry. Use. ‘Therefore we are not to mer­vail though men that seem to be men of understanding yet will worship stocks and stones, as your Papists; why? they give themselves up to their lusts and. then they grow to be s [...] and the most gross Idolatry in the world will go down then.’ I remember I have read of one that law one go to Mass and presently after go to a house hard by where a whore was, he hath this speech upon it: A lupanari massam tantum esse passum: that is, there is but one step from the Mass to a whorehouse. Spiritual whoredom and bodily go together, their hearts are taken away by their whoredom, and they ask cousel at their stocks. Jewel Jewel. in his Apologie relates this that by very credible report search being made in the yeer 1565. for harlots belonging to the stews in Rome, there was found in Rome to the number of 28. thousand women of that sort. Thus bodily and spiritual whoredom you see how they go to gether; 28. thousand of such kind of women found in one City,Rome in that City which we know is called the City of whore­doms, it is not only in regard of spiritual whoredom, Idola­try, but of bodily whoredom likewise, for those two as I said usually go together.

Now for opening this, They ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff doth teach them.

Their stocks,] That is their Images, God puts that contemp­tible name upon them; they ask counsel of them. And that is to be observed too, My people, there is the emphasis; Mine by profession, not wholly call off yet, yet these ask counsel at their stocks, their Images, which perhaps they beautified [Page 134] with Silver and Gold, yet God calls them their stocks.

And their staff teacheth them.] Here is a peculiar way of Ido­latry to be taught by their staff. Vatablus and others inter­pret it thus, their false Prophet upon which they leaned as up­on a staff, and so they they think by staff here is meant their false Prophets. But I rather think it is to be meant litterally, There was a kind of Idolatry which the Jews had and like­wise the Romans after this, a way to ask counsel by the staff, which the Prophet here charged them with, which they cald [...] or [...] Divinatio ex virgis, Divinatiō by staves. divination by rods, or sticks, or arrows, or staves; And there were four 1 waies by which they did divine by these. The first was to put arrows or staves into a close thing having the names writ­ten upon them of what they divined about, and then drawing out one or two, according to what they found written the staves they determined any business; thus their staff de­clared to them either good or bad; And thus Nebuchadnezzar seemed to do Ezek. 21.22.Ezek. 21.22. there Interpreters shew that the business was,Opened that Nebuchadnezzer being in doubt whether he should war against Philadelphia or against Jerusalem he took two arrows and wrote the name of Jerusalem on the one and Philadelphia on the other [...]nd so came to divine which way he should go. And this is the first way of declaring by the staff. 2 A second was by casting up staves or arrows into the air, and according as they did fall, on the right hand or on the left, before or behind, so they did divine their good luck or their 3 ill luck as they call'd it. A third way was this, they used to peel off the bark of some part of a stick and then cast it up and divined according to which part of the pith either black or 4 white appeared first. A fourth was (which we find in the Ro­man antiquities) that their Augures or South-sayers used to sit upon the top of a Tower or Castle, and the air being very cleer and fair without any clouds, having a crooked staff in their hand which the Latines c [...]ll Li [...]uus, there they quartered out the regions of Heaven, so much as was for their purpose, & when they had quarter'd them out they did reach forth this staff (having first offered sacrifices and prayers to their gods) [Page 135] upon the head of a person or a thing they would divine for, and so they came to have good or ill luck to be shewed accor­ding to what at that time they observed in the Heavens, the birds flying &c. when that staff was upon the head of the par­ty. This the Romans did, and it is like they had it some­what from the Jews, they did ask counsel of their staff.

By all this we may see what poor waies Idolaters have had to know the mind of their gods.Obs. When men forsake the right way of knowledg of Gods mind, what poor waies do they go to know the mind of God. Use. Oh by this how should our hearts be raised up to bless God that we have such a way to know his mind, that we have his Word, that we have his Son that come out of his bosom to declare the eternal counsel of his fa­ther unto us. These are the poor waies that Idolaters have to know the mind of their gods.

Now follows the ground of all: ‘For the spirit of whore­domes hath caused them to e [...], and they have gone a whoring from under their God.’

For the spirit of whoredoms.] Some would have it thus, that 1 look as there are particular sins, so there are particular Devils 1 to attend upon them; As there is a devil especially to attend upon Idolatry, another to attend upon whoredom, another upon drunkenness, another upon envy, another upon pride, another upon passion and the like; and so the spirit of whordom that is (say they) that devil that especially attended upon this sin caused them to er. But I think this not to be the scope, 2 but this rather, the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to er, the spirit, that is, that impetus of spirit that was in them; there is an impetus an ardency, a vigour, an activity of their spirits to such a kind of sinful way, it is that which hath carried them on and caused them to er. The Scripture oft speaks of several sorts of spirits, as sometimes the spirit of perversness, Esa. 19.14. it is translated in your books, a perverse spirit, but the words are Spiritus perversitatum, a spirit of perversness, there is an impetus of spirit that hath caused Egypt to er in every work there­of. So the spirit of uncleanness Zech. 13.2. it is translated in your books the unclean spirit, but it is [...] the spirit of [Page 136] defilements or uncleanness, so the spirits of lying, 1 King. 22.22. the spirit of error, 1 John, 4.6. He that knoweth God heareth us, he that is not of God heareth not us, hereby know we the spirit of truth and the spirit of error, that is, there is an Impetus, a strength of spi­rit that carries men on unto such an erronious way. Use. And the consideration of that will be of mervailous use unto us. Let us look to our spirits my brethren,strong in­clinations of spirit. and consider what spi­rit we are of, especially when we are carried with an Impetus of spirit to a thing, that is, when we find an eagerness of spi­rit that way, to such a thing we would fain have, let us then take heed to our selves: when you find I lay your spirits very eagerly and strongly set upon such a thing, examine then what spirit you are of, that it be not a spirit of lust, of envy, of malice, as sometimes there is in mens hearts when they are carried with a more than ordinary strength after such a way. There is many people when they find themselves carried on with such an impetus, and ardency, and fervency, they can­not endure that any body should cross them in it, no, but they must have it; As they in Samuel that would have a King, when they heard all the reasons that could be to perswade them against it, they would not answer one reason but held to their conclusion, No, but we will have a King, say they. So a man that hath a spirit of such an evil, A spirit of envie, a spi­rit of error, a spirit of Antichrist in him, a spirit of dominee­ring in him, a spirit of crueltie, a spirit of bitterness in him, first he will rush upon such a thing without examining of it, and further, if there come any thing against it, any truth, he slights it presently and casts it off and thinks there is nothing in it, why? because he hath a spirit that carries him that way, and if the truth come more strongly that he is convinced by it, yet he hath a spirit that carries him on, and though he meet with many difficulties in the way he will break through them all. Oh it is a dangerous thing when men have a spi­rit of errour, or a spirit of bitterness. You shall find some men that have much remaining of Antichristanisme in them, do but speak to them of any thing that concerns an Ordinance of Christ, of Christs institution, of the will of Christ in the [Page 137] word, assoon as it is but mentioned, you shall not hear any answer to the argument, but you may perceive a spirit of bit­terness, a spirit of envy, a spirit of frowardness and passion presently to rise in them. So in other things you shall find men, and some that have good things in them, that if you do but discourse with them of some things that you know are according unto the mind of Christ, yet they have been brought up otherwise and have drunk in other principles, and they have a spirit of bitterness and anger and vexation that pre­sently will appear in them to cast off any truth that is sugge­sted unto them.

But let us labour on the other side rather to be acted by the Use 2 Spirit of God, the Children of God are led by the spirit. And it is true, the Saints of God have a Spirit of holiness in them, as wicked men have a spirit of uncleanness in them so Gods children are carried on with a spirit of holiness, the love of Christ hath taken hold of their hearts, and perhaps they are weak and cannot reason out the case with some subtill Sophi­sters, but they have the spirit of Christ, an Impetus of spirit that carries them on. But take heed, the Spirit of Christ is joyned with much humility and holiness; do not say you are carried with the Spirit of Christ and yet bitterness and pride is mixed with it; but if there be humility and holiness, then perhaps though you cannot answer every objection of e­very Sophister yet there is the Spirit of Christ in you; that as wicked men have a byas upon their hearts that swaies their judgment, so the godly have a byas upon their hearts, the truth and love of God doth byas their hearts and carries them on with strength in the waies of God; as the poor man,Fox Act. Mon. the Martyr that said, I cannot dispute for the truth, but I can die for it; There was such a spirit of love in him unto Jesus Christ that carried him on and made him savour and relish holy things though he could not dispute for them.

We are to pray unto God that he would satisfie us not on­ly Use. 3 in body and in soul but in spirit, that that Impetus of spi­rit may be sanctified, for great things depend upon that Im­petus, that force, that activeness of our spirits; almost all [...] [Page 140] fell down under the dreadful authority of those commands, then it was well with them, but now you have got from un­der this, you do not fear Gods word as you were wont to do, you will not tremble at his commands as'you were wont, now you run wilde and frisk about in your own waies; Oh poor creature whither art thou gone thou art got from under the protection of the Lord.

Verse 13.

They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills under Oaks, and Poplars, and Elms, because the shadow thereof is good; therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery.

In the former verse the Prophet in the Name of God had charged Israel for having the spirit of fornication, and accu­sed them for going a whoring from under their God, And now shews to them wherein,Obser. and in what particular. ‘Ge­neral accusations without particular specification will not prevail with stubborn hearts.Observ. Above all Idolaters must be convinced wherein they have committed Idolatry.’ They will stand it out exceedingly if you charge them only with I­dolatry in general, of going a whoring from God, except you demonstrate wherein. It is so with many sinners. Mal. 1.6. Ye have despised me, and yet you say, wherein have we despised thee? verse 7. Ye offer polluted bread upon mine Altar, and yet you say, wherein have we polluted thee? Stubborn hearts will stand it out with God a great while untill it be shewn in particular wherein they have done such and such evils. And it is wis­dom therefore for all Gods Ministers not to leave things in ge­neral,Use for Ministers but if they would have their Ministry a convincing Mi­nistry they must not only charge people that they are wicked and naught in general, but they must instance. Instancing preaching it is the most convincing preaching.

Now the Prophet doth instance in that kind of Idolatry that seems to have the most specious shew and fairest intention of any thing in the world, and one would have thought that [Page 141] there should have been as little evil in that which he instanceth in as in any thing we can imagine. Why what great matter is it they might say? You accuse us for going a whoring from under our God, what is the matter? we offer sacrifice upon mountains, we sacrifice under trees, is that so great a matter? It is sacrifice, and you cannot say but we sacrifice to the true 1 God, we do not sacrifice to Idols, why do we go a whoring from God then? Nay the shew of this is very specious that they should sacrifice thus upon mountains and under trees, in this they seem to be more devout than Judah was; the people 2 of Judah they sacrificed only in one place, they sacrificed on­ly in a Temple, and did as it were confine and limit God to that place, and they sacrificed only upon one Altar; Now say they, we think God worthy of a great deal more than so, we think it is fit to sacrifice unto him every where, in every place, and especially upon mountains, for it is to the high God that we sacrifice, therefore we go to mountains to express the high esteem we have of God.Papists Just as the Papists at this day, they will have their Images in every place and their Cros­ses in every high way as they travail, that by them they may be put in mind of God continually. What a specious shew is this? Yet the Lord by the Prophet chargeth them with go­ing a whoring from under their God, and he instanceth in this which they thought they had most plea for.

From whence we may note first, Whatsoever seems to be most Obs. 1 specious in our eyes, yet if it be not according to the rule, it may prove most abominable in the eyes of God. And,

Secondly, That for a thorough conviction of people in their sin, Obs. 2 Ministers should especially labour to present to them the foulness of those things that they think have least evil in them. for Min. To come to people and to cry out of notorious wickedness that they them­selves cannot but acknowledg to be notorious, this will ne­ver so convince as thoroughly to humble: but to come and close with them and to open the evil of their waies in those things that they bless themselves most in, and shew how they make themselves abominable unto God even in those things, that is the way to have our Ministry a convincing & an hum­bling [Page 142] Ministry indeed. Thus the Prophet doth, you sacri­fice upon the mountains and high places and under the sha­dow of every tree. Hierom Hierom. upon this place hath this Note, Israel, saith be, loveth high places, for they have forsaken the high God, and they love the shadow, for they have left the substance. It is thus with men, ordinarily when they have left the high God, forsaken him, then they have somewhat or other that they set up high in their hearts; they forsake the shadow of the wings of God and then they seek after vain shadows to be their protectour.

But to open this Scripture yet more cleerly, to shew where­in their sin lay here, that they sacrificed upon the mountains and hills and under trees. For that, we are to know that in former times before the Ark and the Tabernacle and the Tem­ple was built, it was lawful to sacrifice in any place, and God approved of sacrificing in mountains, and did direct Abraham to go and sacrifice his son upon a mountain, upon Moriah, Gen. 22.2. And we reade of Abrahams planting a grove when he called upon the name of God, Gen. 21.33. So that the forefathers did sacrifice upon mountains, and they planted groves and trees by the places where they sacrificed; there was no hurt then in such things. But afterward God prohi­biteth this, Deut. 12.13.14. Take heed to thy self that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest, but in the place which the Lord shall chuse in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings. God would limit them the place of his worship. When the Ark was made and the Tabernacle they were bound to come to that and sacrifice there and no where else, and so when the Temple was built they were bound to come thither and to sacrifice there and no where else. Yea then the Lord commanded them to pull down the high pla­ce, and to cut down the groves and trees, Deut. 12.2. Ye shall utterly destroy all the places wherein the Nations which ye possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under e­very green tree. When once God had appointed a place of worship then they were to destroy the other places where the Heathens were wont to worship their gods.

The Note is this from it, When once God chuseth places or things, when God once putteth a stamp of holiness upon places or things, Obser. then no men may chuse places or things and put such a stamp of holiness upon them as God hath put. If God appointeth a way of wor­ship of his own, this stops us from all other of our own. If God makes a place holy this stops us that we must never make any place holy but that; so it is true of things, of ceremonies, any thing, if once God sets a stamp upon a thing to make it ho­ly, we must confine our selves to that, and not think to immi­tate God in it, to make any thing of the same kind to be holy as God hath done. It was now a sin for them, and God stands much upon circumstances we see in his worship. You shall have many men plead why should men be so strict and scrupu­lous to stand upon circumstances? what must we have every circumstance in the word of God commanded? My brethren, that which is natural and moral and may be subservient to religious things, may be left (it's true) unto prudence, but whatsoever hath any Religion in it, though it be but a cir­cumstance, God stands much upon it, and we must have a Divine rule for it. ‘Natural circumstances, moral, civil, circumstances, prudence is enough to guide us in, but any religious circumstance we must have a rule for it.’ Here they are not accused for sacrificing the things they ought not to sacrifice, no question but they offered those sacrifices which they were commanded, sheep and beeve [...] and the like, but only in the circumstance of place, they did not sacrifice where God would have them sacrifice, therefore God charged them in this thing that they went a whoring from under their God. It is true, we reade sometime of some godly mens sa­crificing else where, Gideon under an Oak, Judg. 6. and Sa­muel upon an high place, 1 Sam. 2. and so David in the thre­shing floor of Araunah, 2 Sam. 24. Now to all those instan­ces the answer generally is given by Divines, that they could not be any way lawful for them to do thus but by some speci­al dispensation of God himself, some special revelation from God to give them order to do it there or elf it could not but be a sin. For the Kings of Israel and Judah they also are charged [Page 144] for their sacrificing in the high places; Even Solomon himself in 1 King. 3.3. where when he is commended for loving the Lord and walking in the Statutes of David his father at first, yet the text saith, Only he sacrificed and burnt incense in high pla­ces. And amongst other high places we re [...]de in 2 Chron. 1.2. that Solomon went to Gibeon, that was a great high place. And though some excuse him because it is said the Tabernacle was there therefore he might go to Gibeon that great high place to sacrifice yet for al that Austin in his Questions upon Judges he thinketh Solomon is to be blamed though the Tabernacle was there,Austin for he it seems sacrificed in other high places besides, and though the Tabernacle was there yet it seems he put a more than ordinary respect upon that high place, wherefore else is it called the great high place? and he went there not only for the sake of the Tabernacle, but became it was that great high place, therefore he is to be blamed. So that we may go to Gods Ordinances, but if we do go to the Ordinan­ces of God where yet there are other mixtures, and we do the rather go and esteem of them because there is some addition of mans inventions,Obser. this is a sin against God. And further, this is observable, though Solomon were blamable for going unto that high place though the Tabernacle were there, ha­ving some more than ordinary respect unto that high place, yet we find that God revealed himself unto Solomon in a won­derful gracious manner even in that place, and bad Solomon ask what he would. Solomon had very graci [...]u [...] manifestati­ons of God unto him when he went to that high place though there was evil in it and he put more respect upon it than he should: So certainly many of Gods people have found God so far indulge them that though sometimes they have been in the use of Ordinances where there hath been such mixtures as they have sinned against God, that Ordinance hath been pol­luted unto them by those mixtures, yet [...] Lord hath been so gracious unto them that he hath accepted of the uprightness of their hearts, and they have had many sweet manifestations of God unto them even in these Ordinances: they can remem­ber those times when they have been at Sacrament, and they [Page 145] have known how they offended against God by reason of some pollutions, yet they have found for all this God letting out of abundance of mercy unto them, refreshing their souls with comfort and joy in the holy Ghost. This was Gods me [...]cy. Do not you think therefore that there was no evil in it because God let out himself so far unto you? Use. There was evil in Solomons respecting this high place so much, yet God let out himself a­bundantly unto him. Other Kings there were that are excee­dingly blamed that they did not take down the high places, which were all one with these mountains here spoken of.

Yet there were some of the Kings that were very careful in this thing, As amongst the rest Hezekiah and Jehosaphat. He­zekiah in 2 King. 18.22. where he is charged by Rabshekah for taking down the high places, Is it not he that hath destroyed the high places and Altars of God saith he? God approveth of it well though Rabshekah thinks he hath done ill; Oh saith he, He­zekiah, do you trust in him? he hath taken down the high places. He thought that Hezekiah had been an enemy unto Religion and to the worship of God for taking down the high places. Thus it is with ignorant people at this day that do not know the way of Gods worship; because some in autho­rity (as the Parliament) seek to take away corruption in the worship of God,Parliam abundance of people cry out that they are e­nemies unto all Religion, that they will take away all Reli­gion. Thus it is reported by your countrey people that dwel far off, as in Wales and in other places, the people are there perswaded that the Parliament are a company of vile men that seek to take away all Religion out of the Kingdom. But this is so but in the understanding of a Rabshekah that thinks the taking away of high places to be the taking away of Religion.

The other King is Jehosaphat that is commended for taking away the high places, and it is noted of him, that his heart was lifted up more than ordinary in the waies of God when he did it; For this sacrificing upon the high places was such a thing that the people were so set upon it, what say they, is it not a brave decent thing that we should go up to a high place [Page 146] to offer unto the high God? therefore when Jehosahhat took them away the text saith, his heart was lifted up in a more than ordinary manner. So it should be with Governours when they see corruptions in Gods worship, though the peo­ple stick close to them, yet they should have their hearts lifted up with courage and zeal to go on in the work. Use. In 2 Chron. 17.6. there you have it, His heart was lifted up in the waies of God, Moreover he took the high places and groves out of Judah. Here is two things that Israel is charged for, the high places, and the groves, Jehosaphat took away, and he took them away out of Judah. He was of a lift up mind and his heart took boldness for the waies of God, so the old Latine hath it. But mark, what course, what way did Jehosaphat take to remove the high places and the groves? In the 7. verse of that chapter you find this, He sent to his Princes to teach in the Cities of Judah. Mark here, Princes are become Preachers; He sent to his Princes to teach in the Cities of Judah, Princes preachers and with them Levites and Priests, and they taught in Judah, and had the book of the Law with them, and they went about all the Cities of Judah and taught the people. This is the course to take them away. If he had only by an Edict removed them he could not have done so much, but he took this wise course, he sent faithful Preachers thoroughout all the Countrey, in all the great Cities especially. He was careful they should have faithful Preachers and then the work would be easily done. So that it appears it was because of the ill Preachers they had before or because they had no Prea­chers at all that the high places were so hard to be taken a­way. How easie would it be in England at this day to make a Reformation,preaching the way to remove superstitiō to take away corruptions from the worship of God, if in all Cities and Towns there were faithful Prea­chers! For we see apparantly that people that have been brought up in ignorance they stick most to these things. Let a faithful Minister come into a Congregation and take pains, so that the people may see and be convinced that he takes pains, and expound the Scripture unto them, they will begin to confess we get more by this than by all the reading of pra­yers all this while, and this is more painful to the Minister. [Page 147] They would I say be convinced of this if they had teaching. This was Jehosaphats way, and Oh how happy were it if we took the same course? But there is one thing more observable it is said in this 7. chapter that Jehosaphat took away the high places; but in Chap. 20. ver. 33.2 Chron. 17. with cap 20.33 reconci­led, it is said he took them not a­way; but how is it? It is put upon the people, the text saith, The high places were not taken away, for as yet the people had not pre­pared their heart unto the God of the [...] fathers. The people were the cause. Now for the reconciling of these two places, it seems Jehosaphat did what lay in him, In chap. 17. therefore God accounts it as being done for his part, but because when he had done what he could yet the people were so stubborn and stout and would not yeild to the command of the King, there­fore in this 20. Chapter it is all layed upon the people; As if God should say, they were not taken away because the peo­ple had not prepared their hearts, but as for Jehosaphat he did what lay in him for the taking them away. God will accept of the intention of Governours, Let them do what they can in it and if it be not done the fault will lie where the cause is. You may see by this that people may hinder the work of Re­formation much, their hearts were not prepared, that is, they were not fit to receive such instructions as were sent unto them. And truly in England many people are not yet prepa­red to receive the work of Reformation. We never read (that is observable too) of any difficulty of any of the Kings either of Judah or Israel to bring in any false worship, observe it in all the stories of the Kings or Chronicles when there was any King that would bring in any false worship there was never a­ny difficulty in it;Obser. But when good Kings did seek to bring in true worship and to cast out false, it was too difficult a work for them. Thus mens hearts do cleave more to false worship than they do to true.

And this is one thing further observable for the high pla­ces, that it is not said here in the Text only that they sacrificed upon the Mountain [...], but upon the top of the mountains. There are two things very observable from hence.

1 First, It noteth the publickness of their way of Idolatry. They would not do it in a corner, in a hole, but they would go to the mountains,Observ to the top of the mountains and were not ashamed. Idolatry is brazen faced, it is impudent and loveth to be publick. Use. Oh why should we not have the true worship of God as publick! It is a lamentable case when the true worship of God must get into holes and corners and dare not appear in publick; yea when they are persecuted because they are in corners and they say they get into holes and cor­ners and there they do thus and thus. Well my brethren, let us pray and endeavor what we can to bring in the true wor­ship of God to the most publick way that may be, that we may not be ashamed of it in publick before the world. In Revel. 14.6.Revel. 14.6. there is mention of an Angel flying in the midst of Heaven having the everlasting Gospel in his hand to preach unto them that dwell on the earth; Now it is ordinary in the Revelation to set out the Ministry of the Gospel by an Angel, and so it is a prophesie of the Ministry of the Gospel, that it shall fly in Heaven, aloft, publickly, that all the world shall see it. And mark what follows upon this, verse 8. And there followed another Angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen. So that the Note from thence is,Obser. ‘That when the Ministry of the Gospel and the Ordinances of the Gospel comes to be made openly publick, then is the time for Babylon to fall, and so long as Babylon stands and Antichrist stands so long is the Gospel fain to be preach'd in corners, but when the time of Babylons fal cometh then shal the Ministry of the Gospel be in Heaven, above, in the eyes of all the people, in a pub­lick way.’

2 Secondly, They sacrificed not only upon the mountains, but upon the tops of the mountains.Obser. Idolaters they seek to rise to the height of their way of false worship, they would do it unto the uttermost; they content not themselves with hills and mountains, but the very uppermost of hills and mountains, if there were any higher than other, if they could get up to Heaven they would do it. Idolaters do not content themselves with a lower degree of false worship. Use. How much [Page 149] less should we in the way of Gods worship? we should not content our selves in a mean way but get up to the top of god­liness, and labour to gain the very height of the worship of God; Not content our selves in one Ordinance, but get all Ordinances, and get them in the full exercise of them as much as may be. That place in Ephes. Walk accurately, Eph. 5.15. circumspectly not as fools but as wise, the word is [...] as if he said, walk to the top of godliness, to the height, if there be any higher degree than other labor to get to it, as Idolaters will get up to the tops of the mountains. Thus for their sacrificing upon the mountains.

The next is, Their sacrificing under Oaks, and Poplars, and Elms. Why the Heathens sacrificed under trees. And these trees that are here named are such whose leaves are broad and did abide longest upon them. But why did they seek to sacrifice under trees and such trees as these? There are five or six reasons why the Heathens and these peo-were so set upon sacrificing under trees.

The first was this,Populus Al­cideo, grais­sima, viti [...] Iacho, for­mofio myr­tus Veneri, sua Laurea Phoebo, Virg. Aeneed. 7. The Heathens did consecrate many trees 1 to their Idols. The Poplar to Herculus, the Vine to Bacchus, the Mirtle to Venus, the Bay to Phoebus. They consecrated several trees to their several gods and therefore sacrificed un­der those trees.

Secondly, They sacrificed there in imitation of the Patri­arches, as I shewd before, Abraham built a grove by the Altar he made; and so many of the Patriarchs had groves and trees by their Altars, and in imitation of them they did it, and so did the Heathens, for the Devil did strive much to imitate the way of the true worship of God, but now when they came once to abuse the ancient practice of the Patriarchs, God re­moves it.

Thirdly, They thought that dark and shady places, dark 3 by the shadiness of these trees, might strike some fear and re­verence in the hearts of men when they came to worship, there is a kind of dismalness as it were, and it doth cause a kind of reverence in coming into woods where there are high trees and shady places, there is a kind of solemness in it, and they thought it was a means to put reverence into the hearts [Page 150] of the worshippers. Even Heathens themselves when they worshipped their Idols they sought to have the hearts of the worshippers to be fild with reverence. And,

4 Fourthly, They thought that the spirits of their Heroes were up and down in the woods and groves. It was the tra­dition of the Heathens, they were taught it by their Priests, that the ghosts of their great men, their Heroes were in woods and in groves:Vi [...]g. Aeneed. 6. Nulli certa domus, lucis habitamus opacis. So you have it in Virgil, that they themselves have no certain houses to dwel in, but they dwelt in dark and solitary places, in woods and groves.

5 Fiftly, They were fit places for committing of filthiness when they came to those places, which many of them did. The sacrifices of the Heathen many of them were mixed with fil­thy and abominable uncleanness, and those places were fit for such uncleanness, and therefore the Devil liked well of them. So Philo, and Sozamen in his history he tells us of this reason of their sacrificing there, because of the filthiness that was there commmitted.

6 Lastly, It was the conceit of many of the Heathens that it was too much to the dishonor of God to be worshipped in any place covered above head or to be circumscribed within any limits. Even the Heathens, some of them looked upon God as infinite, and for him to be worshipped within any place covered above head they thought it was a dishonor, there­fore they would worship him in the open fields and un­der trees. This was the reason of their sacrificing under trees.

Now the holy Ghost saies they did this, because the shadow of them was good. The holy Ghost instanceth only in one reason; the shadow was good, that is, they pleased themselves in their own waies, they thought there was more solemnity in this way of worship than to go to the Temple to worship there. The shadow was good, Oh it was brave to go to the open fields, and it was more solemn they thought to go there than to worship in the City. The shadow was good, they applauded and blest themselves in this way. ‘Ʋsually superstition thinks it [Page 151] hath a great deal of reason for what it doth,’ Obser. that is the Note from hence. Therefore it is observable of the Papists, the way of their worship it is most rediculous and absurd, yet they write whol volumns of their Rational, of Divine Service to shew reason for what they do, as if it were a reasonable service,Rationale divinorum officiorum and in Colos. 2. ult, it is spoken of will-worship, that it hath a shew of wisdom. Now the words in the Greek are [...] it hath the reason of wisdom, for so it may be turned, for is used for Ratio, it hath the reason of wisdom. So that word your Reasonable Service, it is [...]. So that Idolaters think that it is not only wisdom, but that they have the very reason the very quintessence of wisdom in their way of false-worship, they can give such account of it, the shadow is good; And espe­cially in that very thing that they think their worship is more sumptuous and brave and hath more solemnity in it than the Ordinances of God have: This is the vanity and pride of mens spirits, to think that the worship of God appointed in his word hath not solemnity enough in it: That is the point na­turally rising from thence. ‘It is the pride I say of mens spi­rits to think that Gods Ordinances are too plain,Obs. too mean for them, they can find out a way that sets out the worship of God thus and thus, they will shew more reverence of and respect to God than others shall.’ But certainly if it be not Gods own, whatsoever outward respect can be given unto God in it, he [...]bominateth it and abhorreth it.A Lady in Paris. I have read of a Lady in Paris, that when she saw the bravery of a Proces­sion to a Saint, she cried out, Oh how fine is our Religion beyond that of the Hugonites, that is such as those who in England they call Puritans! They have a poor and mean and beggarly Religion, but we have a fine and brave Religion; so your Papists with decking up their Churches and their Altars and their crings and bowings, they have a fine and brave Re­ligion, their shadow is good, there is bravery and solemnity in it. Oh take heed of this in any point of Gods worship, to think that any addition of mans makes it more solemn and more reverent. It is the worst argument you can use, to say can we do things in Gods worship with too great reverence? [Page 152] Is it that which you have warrant out of Gods word for? doth God enjoyn it? Have you not either some rule or ensample at least for it? If you think by your own addition to do it with more reverence, this very argument spoils it, though it were lawful in other respects. Take some gesture, suppose it were indifferent, suppose it were lawful some way; but if you take it up thus, to think that by it you put more reverence and respect upon Gods worship than there is, there you spoil it; upon some other grounds it may perhaps be granted, but upon that ground you spoil it quite. Therfore the Lord [...]orbad his people when they were to make an Altar to him, to lift up a tool up­on it, for then saith he, you pollute it: They might have said, Lord we would fain have thine Altar not so plain as other things,simile we would fain bestow carving and some cost upon it and so shew some respect to it: No saith God, If you lift up a tool upon it, you pollute it. So if you think to put more reverence and solemnity upon Gods worship by any inven­tion of your own, certainly you defile it. That was the sin of Israel at this time, they would sacrifice here, why? because the shadow was good. So much for that, for their high places, and their worshiping under trees.

Now follows the judgment threatened: ‘Therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall com­mit adultery.’

You commit adultery in going a whoring from m [...], you shall be punished in the like kind, your daughters and your spouses shall go a whoring from you.

They shall commit adultery.] Take it first under this conside­ration, as a judgment of God upon them.

Secondly under this, As that which they themselves were the occasion to produce.

1 Observ.First, It was the judgment of God upon them. Hence note, God sometimes punisheth sin with sin, he punisheth spiritual adultery with corporal uncleanness; Corporal pollutions are the fruit of spiritual filthiness. So Rom. 1. They worshiped not God as God [Page 163] but in an Idolators way, after the s militude of an Ox that eateth gras [...], therefore God gave them up to [...]ncleanness. If men be not careful to maintain purity in Gods worship, God care [...] not for their bodily ch [...]stity. If you [...]ol [...]u [...]e my wor­ship, be unclean then [...]aith God. Not that he doth permit it as lawful but in ju [...]t [...]udg [...]ent he leaveth them unto it. What care I for all y [...]ur unclea [...]ness otherwise in your bodies if you pollute [...]y w [...]s [...]ip.Roma Amor in­versio. That is preposte­rous love because of the unna­tural fil­thinesse there pra­ctised. Iohannes à Casá Arch Bishop of Bendnutū, wrote a Book in commen­dation of Sodomy. And it is usual for bodily and spiritu­al adultery to go together. The word R [...]ma, turn the letters and it is Amor, there is a deal of unclean filthy love in Rome, as I shewd b [...]fore W [...]e th [...]re is most Idolatry there is most adultery.

But secondly, The sin of Parents is punished many times in the children and in the family. Your daughters and your spouses, I will leave them saith God, and mine hand shall be upon them. When a parent or a husband sees the hand of God a­gainst his child or against his wife he should consider, how doth God meet with me in this? is it not a s [...]gn of Gods dis­pleasure against me in this particular? It is observable, that of the woman of Canaan, Mat. 15.22. when her child was vexed with an unclean spirit, saith she, Have mercy upon me, O Lord, my child is griev [...]usly vexed with a Devil; she did not say Lord have mercy upon my child, but Lord have mercy upon me, for my child is vexed with an unclean spirit, as if she should say, O Lord, my sin may be this unclean spirit, it may be the punishment of my sin, therfore Lord have mercy upon me & forgive me my sin that hath caused such a thing as this, yea Lord it may be I have had an unclean spirit, and this my child did imitate me in somewhat that was evil, and so thy hand is come upon it, I am the Original, therefore Lord have mercy upon me, for my child is vexed with an unclean spirit. So should you, when you see the hand of God upon your children, not only outwardly upon their bodies, cry out, Lord h [...]ve mercy upon me for my child hath such a dis­ease, hath such convulsion fits, hath such pain and such extre­mity, Lord pardon my sin. And doth God leave your chil­dren in wickedness? do you see unclean spirits in your chil­dren, the spirit of filthiness? Cry out, Lord have mercy upon [Page 154] me; perhaps it was by imitating of you that they came to have such unclean spirits.

Obs.Thirdly, It is a great reproach unto any family to have unclean­ness committed in it. Fornication and adultery is a great reproach unto a family, especially when the daughter or the wife is un­clean. It is a reproach unto a family if a servant prove naught, especially to some families more than others, the family of a Minister, or of a Magistrate, or a man in publick place and esteem,Use for Governors to have a servant prove naught: which by the way should teach Governours to be more careful of their families than they are, for many times thorough their care­lesness God sends such a judgment, puts this disgrace upon their families. Many of you for your pleasure and delight can go to your countrey houses,Country houses. and while you are there your servants are doing wickedness. You should have an espe­cial eye over your families in this, lest God as a just judgment upon you for your neglect bring this reproach upon your fa­milies. But especially your children, your daughters and your spouses, and above all, the children of Ministers, Levit. 21.9.Ministers daughters it is said there, if the daughter of any Priest profane her selfe by playing the whore, she shal be burnt with fire; Now fornication was not punished with death in any other, though adultery was, but the fornication of a Priests daughter was to be puinshed with death, she was to be burnt with fire.

Obs. 4The fourth note is this, which is the note I specially aymed at from these words. Our ill dealings with God, our unfaithful­nes towards God is made more sensible when those that are neer unto us deale ill with us, and are unfaithfull to us. Well saith God here, you goe a whoring from me, your spouses they shall goe a whoring from you, you have beene unfaithfull to me, your children shall be unfaithfull to you, they shall goe a whoring too, and then by that anguish and trouble that you have when you see this in your wife, or in your child, you shall be made sensible how grievous this is to my Spirit, that you go a who­ring from me. You have many Parents if they should hear that their daughters were grown strumpets and have played the whore, Oh how would they beat their hands [Page 155] upon their brests, and tear their very haire, and stamp up­on the ground and cry out, I am undone, I am undone, and though they had never such great estates they would think they had no comfort in any thing but would even look upon themselves and their family as ruinated and undon; And if you should hear that your wife had played the whore, how would it be as a dagger in your hearts. Are you so sensible of this? then by that extremity of grief you would have in such a case, know such is the extremity of the grief of Gods heart when a child of his goes a whoring from him. If his people go on in waies of superstition and Idolatry from him, yea though it be in things that otherwise seem to be but small (it is but a circumstance of place I told you here) yet it goes as neer to the heart of God to have his people set upon superstitious waies in his worship, as it doth to the heart of any husband or father to have his wife or daughter play the whore. Use Oh that you would consider that there is this grief In Heaven when God looks upon his people forsaking the true way of his worship. We think indeed that murder and blasphemy pro­voke God, but we little think how the corruption of his wor­ship provokes him. Let us know that the great provocation of the most high God is the corruption of his worship, I mean when his people shall corrupt his worship any way.

And further, As in this particular so we may take occasion to make use of it other waies. Do your children prove stub­born, stout to you? Oh how many times doth the father or mother get alone into their chamber and fall a bemoning of themselves, Oh what a stout,Instances stubborn child have we, nothing will reform him, no admonition! It may be the mother goes 1 alone and wrings her hands and cries out because of the stub­borness of her child. Well, are you so sensible of this when your children prove stubborn towards you? Oh consider how sensible God is if you carry your selves stubbornly towards him. If a husband have an ill wife that is froward and trou­blesome, 2 that grieves his spirit and loves him not, he goes a­lone and laments his condition and thinks himself one of the miserablest men upon the earth. Is this so grievous to you? [Page 156] Oh how grievous is it unto Jesus Christ to have his Church so to him? And have you any friend that hath dealt unfaithful­ly 3 with you? Oh such a friend hath dealt unfaithfully with me, was ever any served so? Oh consider how you have dealt unfaithfully with God, and as it goes to your hearts to have a friend deal unfaithfully with you, so it goes to the heart of God when you deal unfaithfully with him. This is the note then,Obser. Our ill dealings with God and our unfaithfulness to him, is made more sensible when those that are near unto us deal unfaithfully with us. And thus much for the words under that considera­tion. I will make you sensible saith God of your dealings with me, if nothing will do it, it shal be by this way of mine, to bring this judgment upon you, your daughters and your spou­ses shall commit adultery.

But the next is under the other consideration, as they were causers of it. Now the people of Israel we [...]e the causes of the uncleanness of their daughters and wives by this their way of false worship in two respects.

1 First, By going abroad from their families to hills and mountains to worship, in the mean time they committed fil­thiness and adultery. Calvin Calvin. hath this note upon the place, As it is in Popery when they go a Pilgrimage,Pilgri­mages. that is the opor­tunest time for filthy places, places of bawdry to have the most trading. So it was here, when they went unto the hils and mountains to worship, then the unclean places had most tra­ding.absent frō the family So when husbands and parents go up and down with­out any lawful call, then their wives and families do oft mis­carrie. Therfore it should teach them to be as little from their families as they can be, to abide at home until God cals them out, if they have a lawful call they may trust God with their families, if not, they may have some mischief befal them be­fore they come home.

2 Secondly, They were the causers of it thus, By carrying them into those places, mountains and groves and under trees, because (as I said before) those places were chosen on purpose for the committing of filthiness as being most fit for it. It is dangerous for young women to go into places that are fit for [Page 157] filthiness, and parents and husbands are exceedingly to blame for that, and it is to be charged as a great evil upon them,Play-houses. when they shall venture to carrye their daughters or wives in­to places that are sit for filthiness. But this shal suffice for that thirteen verse.

Verse 14.

I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery.

This is as severe an expression as any we have in the Scrip­ture, They shall commit whoredom and adultery, yet I will not punish them. It is strange, God hath threatned whoredom and adul­tery with death, and threatned the Priests daughters that com­mitted fornication, with fire; and this is spoken here of the Priests especially; but here saith he, I wil punish none of them when they commit whoredom or adultery.

These words are read by some interogatively, Will I not pu­nish 1 them? and then they carry another sense. But I think that is not the scope.

Others reade these words comparatively, and that I confess 2 hath some probability in it, I will not punish them,] that is, I will not punish them in comparison of you, for your exam­ple makes them such as they are, you should restrain them, and though the sin be great in them, yet in comparison of you they shall not be punished at all. Wicked parents they look upon their children when they are wicked, as swearers, lyars, unclean &c. they look upon them as those that it will go very ill withal. Well, it shall go ill with them indeed, but if you be so too, it shall be worse with you: Many wicked parents are loth their children should be wicked: I have known some drunkards and whoremasters, have put their children to be e­ducated by Puritans; they are wicked, yet their consciences tell them it is not good for their children to be so. But the truth is, if you be wicked and your children too, though they may perish in their sins, yet you shall perish with a seven-fold destruction.

3 But thirdly it is read plainly by most thus, I will not punish them when they commit adultery] that is, I will shew my wrath against you in this that I will even give up your children and your wives, let them do what they will I will not restrain them by any punishment. And this is many times a way of Gods judgment against wicked ones, that the Lord will not restrain them in their evil waies, that's the especial Note from these words,Obser. ‘That it is one of the most fearful judgments of God in the world, for the Lord not to restrain men from their wicked waies but to let them go on and to have their will in them for a while.’ Hierom Hierom. upon those words in Ezek. 7.4. I will not spare. God doth not spare saith he that he might spare, he hath not mercy that he might have mercy upon people, that is, when God intends any good then he will not spare, that is, he will afflict and chastise, those that he loves he will chastise, but if you be bastards and not children he doth not care for chastising of you.simile All the while a parent hath any respect to a child and intendeth he should inherit, he doth correct him, but when once he hath cast off a child and is ful­ly resolved he shal never inherit one penny of all that he hath, he lets him go on and take his course. A Phisitian doth so with a patient, he will give him potions and bitter potions all the while that there is hope, but if the disease be grown too strong and there is no hope,Hom. 8. in 20. cap Exod. vis indig­nantis Dei terribilem vocem au­dire, &c. Luther Vae illi ad quorū pec­cata conni­ [...]eo Deus. he lets him alone; thus God deals with sinners many times in this world. Origen Origen in one of his Sermons upon Exodus quoting this Scripture he hath this expression, Will you hear the terrible voyce of a provoked God! I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom nor your spouses when they commit adultery, this is the most terrible thing this is the most extream thing of wrath and judgment that can be imagined, here is a terrible voice of God indeed, I will not punish you. So Luther, Wo to those men at whose sins God winketh. It is a fearful judgment to fall into the hands of the living God, but it is a more fearful judgment to fall out of the hands of the living God in this regard. Many men bless themselves in this that they can go on in the world and sin and sin and still prosper and thrive, they do not pray in their families as [Page 159] others do, they are not so scrupulous in their consciencces as others are, they are not so strict to walk exactly as others, yet they thrive in their trades as others, they are as rich as others, as healthful as others, they have as fine bodies, as hansom children as others, and upon this they are hardened in their sin. Oh but know, though thou mayest bless thy self in this thing, yet it is the heaviest curse of God that can bee up­on thee unless he should send thee quick unto Hell. There is no such brand of a reprobate as this for God to suffer a wic­ked man to prosper in his sin.

Hierom hath this Note upon these words,Hierom Quando videris pec­catorem divitijs af­fluentem jactare se potentia & sanitate a­bundare delectare conjuge co­ronâ cir­cundare li­berorum, dic in illum commina­tionem compleri. when thou seest saith he a sinner flow wth wealth, when thou seest him boasting and braving of his power, when thou seest him very healthful and hail and have a lusty body, when thou seest him deligh­ting in his wife, when thou seest him to have a company of brave children, bravely arraied, then say the threatning of God by the Prophet Hosea is fulfilled upon that man.

Thy judgment is very great in this, for the less punishment thou hast now the more thou art like to have hereafter. The less punishment the more sin and so the more misery. Know that Justice will have somewhat and much too for the forbea­rance of her act, of her stroke, and certainly it were better for thee that art a wicked and ungodly man that thou shoul­dest beg thy bread from door to door. Perhaps now thou hast much coming in, thou liest soft and farest daintily, while others are put to miserable extremities and have scarce a rag to cover them, or a bit of bread to put in their bodies, and in cold weather have no fire to warm them, and yet thou art un­godly and wicked, know that it were better for thee, and thou wilt one day say it and wish it thy self, that thou hadst been in such a case as the poor beggar that hath begged a far­thing at thy door, and it is Gods wrath upon thee that thou art not now as miserable as they. Let us therefore stop the troubles of our thoughts in this, we see the wicked how they prosper in the world and how vile men are exalted, and though they undertake causes that we know are abominable in the eyes of God, and we know their waies are loathsom [Page 160] before God, and they provoke the God of Heaven in their wicked waie [...] and tempt him to his very face, yet they pro­sper. They are indeed ready to take this their prosperity as an argument that God approveth of their waies, and that God loves them. Oh let us not (I say) be troubled at their pro­sperity, for it is so far from Gods shewing it as an argument of his approbation of their waies, that it is one of the greatest judgments that can possibly befall them in the world, when God shall say let them go on and fill up the measure of their s [...]ns, they shall have their hearts desire for a while and so shal be fatned up to their destruction. This few will conceive of but such who have spiritual eyes. Carnal hearts are ready to call the proud happy, and to think those to be in the best condition that are most prosperous in the world; but this text teacheth us the contrary. It follows.

For themselves are separated with whores.

For themselves.] Ipsi. Here God chargeth the persons (your daughters and your spouses, for they are separated with whores) per modum indignationis, so interpreters note upon the place,Text Opened God chargeth the persons by way of indignation. As when one man is speaking to another and his anger riseth, he turns from him and speaks to some body else, so God seems here to have his anger so arise against his people, that he turns as it were from them as if he did speak to some body else, though indeed he meaneth them; themselves are separated, or divided themselves,

Junius Junius. reades it only so, they have separated; and so addeth to it Res opimas, they have separated fat and plentiful things, their choice and rich things that they had at home, so he car­ries the meaning and not improbably, the best meat they had or any precious thing they had at home, they would set it apart under pretence of consecrating it to a religious use, and then when they went to sacrifice they would eat that a­mong their whores, and so deceive their spouses at home, and say they would set this apart for their gods and so carry it [Page 161] and spend it among their whores. That is the interpretation he makes upon the word Seperate.

Others I confess carrie it thus, They have seperated themselves 2 from their God: first in spiritual whoredom: and then from their wives in bodilie uncleanness.

Or else thus, Separated: That is, gone alone in secret where 3 they might not be known, as the filthiness of that sin causeth men to desire to be hid, and when they have got into a secret place or separated themselves from all that know them, then they commit that bodily uncleanness; as many men when they are gone abroad from their own houses, in their journies in their Inns, that is a fit opportunity for their filthiness.

Thus God gives the reason why their daughters and their wives commit this uncleanness, because they themselves do so. Thence the Note is, When parents are filthy and unclean, Observ. what can be expected from the children but that they should be so too? Take it either in bodily or spiritual uncleanness. In bodily, Da­vid commits adultery, and Amnon commits incest; and in spi­ritual, Jer. 7.18. The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead their dough to make cakes to the Queen of Heaven. If fathers and mothers be Idolaters children will be so too; so it is at this day, in superstitious places, take any that are superstitious that stand upon the old way, if the father and the mother do so, the children will do so too, any that are Malignants, if the parents be so, the children though young it is strange to hear in what a way they will speak, be­cause their parents are so. Which should be a good caveat unto all parents to make them take heed what they do before their children, he that sins before a child sins twice, Use. for the child will do as his father doth, he thinks it enough that my father said so, or my father did so. T [...]ke heed how you sin before your children.

But this word translated Whores, and the other that follows Harlots, have a further signification than our English here ex­presseth it. According to most Interpreters it hath this mea­ning. It presents to u [...] those women that worshiped B [...]al Pe­or, or Priapus that unclean god. In 1 King. 15.13. it is said [Page 162] of Asa that he took away Maachah his mother from being Queen,ne [...]sse [...] princeps in sacris pri [...]pi. now it is interpreted by some that he removed her that she might not be a special Queen in the solemnity of that unclean god Baal Pe [...]r, which Idol she had set up in a grove. So then those women that were devoted to the service of that unclean god, in whose worship there was most abominable filthy uncleanness, yet these people did seperate themselves to those women, not to ordinary whores, but to those that were consecrated to the service of that unclean god, and so went to worship that unclean god, and committed uncleanness with the women devoted to that service.

And the other word, Sacrificed with harlots, if we were to take it meerly according to our translation, harlots, then the Note is only this,Obser. That those that are filthy and unclean, yet they will sometimes make some shew of Religion. Harlots and yet sa­crifice? how can these two stand together? One would think harlots should cast off all sacrifice. No, many times such as are filthy and unclean will make a shew of Religion, to think to satisfie al their filthiness with some Religious action; as the harlot in the Proverbs she had peace-offerings, and the rather she had them, she made her peace-offerings but preparations for her committing of uncleanness. What horrible wicked­ness is this! yet this is ordinary for many that are very devout in some Religious duties, and upon that they think they have served God well, God hath had his turn and so they think they may take the more liberty to the flesh afterward; It is true we are sinners, we cannot serve God alwaies, we will serve God sometimes and so take the more liberty because of that. It is an abominable thing to joyn filthiness and sacri­fice both together.

But this word translated harlots here, hath a great deal fur­ther meaning I suppose than our English can express or bear. The word [...] translated harlots, [...] it is meant of the Priests with the consecrated ones. This doth more justifie the in­terpretation of the other word whores, for I told you by that was meant those women that worshiped Baal-Peor, for there the word signifies the consecrated ones, the holy ones. You [Page 163] will say, holy ones, how can it be translated harlots then?per Anti­phrasin. Lucus quia minimè lucet. Yes, meerly by way of contrariety, for so the Scripture ex­presseth things and words, and so doth other languages too, as wood is called wood by a name that comes from light. So here, holy ones, that is, devoted to filthiness as others do con­secrate themselves to God and therefore are called holy ones in a quite contrary sense, because they rather devoted them­selves unto all manner of filthiness. And that I think is the meaning of this place, the Priests of Baal. Peor they are here those that are meant that this people did separate them­selves for.

Hierom upon the place hath this Note,Hierom he saith that the Ro­mans in disgrace of the French used to separate Priests of that Nation for that Idol and to make them Evnuches, from whence all such Priests to that Idol that they had (which was the like to that of Baal-Peor the Jews had) they used to call Gallos, French-men to put an ignominy upon that Nation for some especial revenge they had to them, and they would have them to serve that Idol being first made Eunuches.

Take it thus then and it will afford us a very profitable in­struction. These people were grown so corrupt that they had forsook the true Priests of God and the Prophets of the Lord and separated themselves from the Lord to joyn in sacrificing with these filthy Priests of Baal-Peor, that unclean Idol that is sayd in Scripture to be that shame.

But only here is a Scruple how can it be meant of Priests when the word in the Hebrew is in the feminine gender? Quest. Answ. That is answered thus, because of the effeminateness of these Priests, some of them were made Ev [...]ukes and so might be put into the feminine gender in that regard, and they were grown to be so sottish and filthy that they lost the very name of men. There­fore Aquila he turns it, Cum mutatis, Aquila [...]. sic vocal ef­feminatos. so he calls those that were effeminate, they were changed from men into women, and so the Scripture speaks of men that have lost their true fortitude and are changed from it, they are called women or men of womanish spi [...]i [...]s; And so the Heathen Poet Virgil, he calls the Trojans women not men, which he had from Ho­mer, [Page 164] Oxe [...]e phrygia, neq, enim phryges. Virg. lib. 9. [...]. Hom. because they were rather to be of the feminine than the masculine gender.Women shall rule over thē, Isa. 3. vid. Hier. Therefore the Priests here of that unclean Idol had the feminine gender put upon them.

Or as Cyril and Theophilact and others think that these Priests seemed to be men, but were indeed women. So that then by this text is meant such notorious prostituted filthy ones that were consecrated to be as Priests to the service of this unclean Idol. Now then here riseth the Note from hence this was their abominable vileness, to forsake the Priests of the Lord, to separate themselves from them and to joyn with such unclean Priests as these Priests of Baal-Peor were. Here were Separates indeed. Have we not many amongst us at this day [...] vile and wicked, of as wicked spirits as these, whose hear [...] [...]re against the faithful Ministers of God, against the purity of Gods Ordinances, & they separate themselves to any drunken unclean filthy Malignant Priest? It was just so here for all the world, there were the true Priests of God in Judah, they had the true Ordinances of God there, and yet these men ra­ther than they would joyn with them in the true service of God, they will separate themselves to the Priests of Baal-Peor, to these filthy and unclean and base Priests, and they think there is more good to be had in joyning with them than with the true Priests of God. How hath God of late discovered the filthiness and malignancy of out superstitious Priests who cared not what became of our Liberties of Religion, of our Liberties as men, of our Religion as Christians, so they may have their lusts; yet how vile are mens spirits stil that though faithful and conscionable Ministers are sent amongst them who would reveal the mind of Christ and the way of Heaven unto them, that they may now know more in one month than before they knew in many yeers if they had hearts to hearken to them, yet they will separate themselves and joyn rather with such as are manifested to be of most vile spirits, not only malignant but filthy and wicked in their lives, and commend them for the only men, these they love with their very hearts. Heretofore when they had but some Sr. John that could only reade prayers sent by the Bishop, and [Page 165] godly Ministers were thrust out, yet if men did then go from their parish Church to hear a Sermon, how did they cry out upon such then, they were called Sectaries and Schismaticks presently; but now when men of vile and malignant spirits are by a better Authority put out for their wicked lives, and godly and holy men are put in their rooms, yet these they will not hear though it be in their own parish Church, but if a malignant Preacher be in the City, to him they will flock: Who is the Separate or Schismatick now? they separate them­selves now to such men, and now they think they may hear those men they can most profit by, that is those that preach things sutable to their spirits. When the case come [...] to be mens own how partial are they in their judgments? I know nothing sets out the condition of these men as these words do, though as they are read in your books there is no such thing appears, but the words according to the Original signifies se­parating themselves to unclean Priests.

Therefore the people that do not understand shall fall.

This is the close of the verse. Well might he say that they are a people that understand not indeed,Observ Idolaters are no un­derstanding people, they do not understand, they are igno­rant people. You will say, ignorant, many of them are Scho­lers and learned? But they are ignorant of the waies of God, even their Priests are and for the most part the people are, and their very design is to bring ignorance into places, that their Idolatrous waies may be the sooner imbraced.

The people that do not understand shall fall.] Understand what? what did not these people understand that was the cause of their fall? They did not understand these things.

First, They did not understand the design that Jeroboam had and 1 those Princes that followed him. Poor simple people they were led by vain pretences, Jeroboam he pleaded this, that he was for the true Religion, he was for the worshiping of the true God, on­ly he would not have the people so tired as to go up thrice a yeer to Jerusalem, that was not so necessary. But the truth [Page 166] is, that the design that Jeroboam had under al his pretences of worshiping the true God and being a friend to the true Religi­on, it was to bring them under his own government, to ty­rannize over them, and to keep them from that right way of government that they should have had. Now this people they did not understand this, they were carried away with fair words, if Jeroboam did but pretend Religion and profess that he did it meerly out of respect and love and in favour unto them, and that for his part he intended to set up the wor­ship of God as much as any, though his design was another thing, yet this people were led away and did not understand. They did not understand the design of Jeroboam and his Prince [...]

2 Secondly, They did not understand that the acceptation of Gods worship did not depend upon the outward pump and bravery of it, but upon the rule, according to what God had required. They under­stood not this. They were led away meerly with the fair shews and pomp of Religion, but they did not understand that al the acceptation of divine worship cometh from having a divine rule. Most people at this day understand not this, and that is a great evil.

3 Thirdly, They did not understand this, That their safety did more depend upon the true worship of God than upon all the poli­tick wisdom that possibly could be. They understood not that their protection depended upon Gods service and worship, but they thought to go politickly on to provide for their own safety, and they thought their safety depended upon their wise men that understood better than they. And then,

4 Fourthly, They did not understand, that whatsoever was com­manded by their Governours or taught by their Priests, yet if it was against the mind of God it would not excuse them from judgment and deliver them from the wrath of God, though their Migistrates did command it and their Priests did teach it.

They did not understand these four things, and for not understanding these four things they shall fall. This was that which brought them down and did ruin this people.

There are divers degrees of not-understanding.

First, When people do not understand meerly for want of the means of knowledg. This excuseth not wholly, but they shall even fall though they have no means.

Secondly, When men have means yet thorough their negligence in the use of the means they do not under­stand.

Thirdly, When they are not only guilty of negligence but they oppose and shut their eyes wickedly against that means of knowledg. Then they shall fall indeed.

Fourthly, When having knowledg heretofore, now they lose it by their often resisting of knowledg and so come to fail in their understanding.

Lastly, When they so provoke God as that he hath given them up unto a sottish spirit so [...] at they shall not understand. Now these people fall deepest. Where all these five are (as they are in many places) surely that people must needs fall. My brethren have we not cause to fear our not understan­ding at this day in these five degrees?Applic. And in a great part even in those four Generals, The not-understanding the vain pretences of our adversaries of what our Cavaliers say.

First, That they fight for Religion, and they make such and such kind of protestations, and they intend nothing but the liberty of the subject, many people are led away with these pretences and understand not that their design is to bring them under slavery and to take away their Religion. And this want of understanding is like to cause us to fall.

Secondly, People understand not that the worship of God must have the word of God to be the rule, and that the go­vernment of the Church must be according to the word. They think what shall be most sutable to the reasons of understan­ding men that is best. Because men understand not this we are in danger to fall.

Thirdly, People at this day think there is too much to do about Religion, and let us rather go in a way of policy to provide for our selves, as for that why should we injure or [Page 168] trouble our selves so much? we have troubled our selves too much already. People think not their safety is in Religion therefore they shall fall.

Fourthly, people think if they be taught so by their Mini­sters that's enough for them. Is it not so with us now? Therefore we have cause to fear that the Lord intendeth us a grievous fall.

Yea as those four Ojects, so the four degrees of want of un­derstanding.

In many places they have no means, many Towns and Countries have scarce a Sermon in half a yeer.

In many places where there is most means there they are negligent of it, they rebel and shut their eyes against it and are weary of it.

And others that have had knowledg heretofore, have resi­sted their light, are grown sottish: yea it is to be [...]eared that God hath delivered many amongst us over to a sottish spirit, it is impossible they should remain so ignorant as they are if God in his just jugment had not delivered them up unto a sot­tish spirit. To instance in this, Is it not a sottish spirit of men that after all their oppression and misery that they have suffe­red, yet they will not understand, but joyn with those that have opprest them and lay all the blame upon them that ven­ture their lives to deliver them. Surely this is most gross sot­tish ignorance, that when men shall come and spoil them of their goods and ravish their wives and children, yet in the mean time they rather cry out of those that venture their lives to do them good as if the cause of their misery was from them. Surely these people do not understand, can it be expected but that these people should fall, themselves and their posterity, into the depth of misery to be made slaves for ever?

They shall fall.] Idolatrous people shall fall; that's the next note. An Angel proclaimeth this, Babylon is fallen, is fallen. It is fallen already (my brethren,) how ever Idolaters seem to lift up their heads high yet they are falling, and fal they shal, God hath pronounced it, and the time is at hand; they have fallen off from God, and fall they shall by the hand of God, [Page 169] and the prouder they grow the nearer they are to their fall; Pride goes before a fall: while the Gospel of Christ and his pure Ordinances that are now so opposed, they shall stand; and all superstitious waies, and persons, they shall fall. That is obser­vable that place before named, Revel. 14.6.Rev. 14.6 Opened An Angel flye [...] in the midst of Heaven and preacheth the everlasting Gospel; and with­in a vers. or two, another Angel cryes out, Babylon is fallen, is fall [...]n. When Babylon with all their Idolatrous wayes shall be fallen, then shall the everlasting Gospel be preached; the Gospel and the Ordinances of Christ shall be everlasting, shall continue for ever when all superstitious vanities shall fall. We find it so; how ever they thought to bear up all their supersti­tious waies by all the means that ever the devil or wicked men could devise to keep them up to perpetuity, yet have we not found that God hath blasted them, and many of them are fal­len? and though God bring his people into affliction, yet they shall rise, the wayes of God shal rise, Zion shall rise, Babylon shal fall: the people that understand not, they shall fall.

A word or two about the meaning of the word in the ori­ginal: The word is from [...] shall fall. [...] It is nor often in scri­pture, very rare, and I find divers translations of it. Shall be beaten, so some. Shall be brought into captivity, so others: And others again give this the meaning of the word, and so it doth properly signifie, Shall be perplexed. The word signifies to be brought into perplexity and doubtfulness of ones counsels, and waies, that they do not know which way in the world to go; that is the propriety of the word: I say, by their doubt­fulness of their way, not knowing which way to go, being per­plexed in their counsels, thereupon they come to stumble and fall. This people that do not understand shall thus fall. Indeed it is more proper and sutable to the words before, they do not understand, therefore they must needs be perplexed in their waies and not know which way to go, and therefore must fall; as a man that is in the dark and knows not which way to go he must needs fall; so when men have left the true light and are in the dark they shall fall, and when they are fallen they shall be perplexed in that misery into which they ate fallen. From whence these two Notes.

Obs. 1 First, That it is a fearful judgment of God and a forerunner of a grievous fall, for him to leave men to perplexed counsels. When men are perplexed in their counsels, one is for this way, and another is for that way, and then carry it back and then for­ward again, Oh this i [...] a forerunner of falling into grievous misery. In Esa. 19.14. the Lord threatneth Egypt that he wil send a perverse spirit in the midst of them & they shal er in every work as a drunken man staggereth in his vomit; they shall er in their counsels and this comes from a perverse spirit. The Lord many times sends a perplexed spirit and a perverse spirit in judgment upon men, and what then? then they reel and stagger up and down in their counsels, first they will go one way and then another, and so bring a great deal of sor­row and trouble upon a people. The Lord grant our ene­mies these perplexed counsels, and deliver us from them.

Obs. 2 Secondly, It notes thus much, That when they are fallen and are once down and have brought misery upon themselves and others by their ill waies and counsels, then they shall be so insnared and most dreadfully perplexed that they shall not know which way to go or what to do. Men that are Idolatrous and superstitious, and men that God leaves to themselves they are in miserable perplexity when they are fallen, they are as those poor blind men in 2 King. 6. that Elisha led to Samaria in stead of Dothan, what miserable perplexity were they in when they found themselves in Samaria among their enemies?simile So when men are left unto themselves and God hath brought them into those perplexi­ties, when they shall see the fruit of their perplexed counsels, how grievous will it be? On the other side, when a man goes according to the rule of Gods word, and in the upright­ness of his heart desires to be directed according unto that rule, though such a one should meet with trouble and fall into affliction for his trial, he need not be perplexed, there shall be quietness and peace to his spirit in the midst of his affli­ctions, why? because he hath followed God, he hath gone according to his rule. It may be he knows not Gods end in bringing him into affliction, he understands not the depth of Gods waies, yet having endeavoured in the sincerity of his [Page 171] heart to walk according to Gods will, you that have done so, you understand much, though you should fall into affliction yet you shall not fall into perplexity.

Verse 15.

Though thou Israel play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend, and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Beth-aven, nor swear, The Lord liveth.

The close of this Chapter is a warning to Judah to take heed that she doth not do as Israel did, in regard of the vile­ness of their sin, the fearfulness and suddenness of their judg­ment.

Though thou Israel.] Thou wretched, wicked, stubborn, stout hearted Israel, that no means wil reclaim, though thou play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend.

The word translated Offend, that is from [...] it signi­fies desolare likewise, because sin brings desolation. The He­brews have divers words to express sin and punishment both in one, because they are so neer a kin. Israel playeth the har­lot and so is like to bring desolation unto her self, but let not Judah likewise offend and bring the same desolation likewise upon her self.

The Prophet Hosea was especially sent to Israel, to the ten Obs 1 Tribes, but here we see he turns his speech unto Judah.Ministers ‘Mi­nisters should especially look to those whom they are bound unto by Office, but yet so as to labour to do good to o­thers as occasion is.’ And not only Ministers but others likewise. We should all intend good, especially to those that are under our charge, but yet neglect no opportunity to do good unto any.

Secondly, ‘When we see our labor lost upon those we de­sire Obs 2 most good unto, we should be desirous then to try what we can do unto others.’ If this or the other get not good by our Ministry, by our Admonition, by our Exhortations, by our Counsels, yet it may be the Lord may bless our endea­vors upon such and such; let us try what we can do there.

Thirdly, Let not Judah offend] Let not Judah do as Israel did.Exposit. There was a great deal of danger that Judah should be insnared and polluted with Israels Idolatry, and that in ma­ny regards, which are the ground of this seasonable admoni­tion of the Prophet. Though Israel do thus and thus yet let not Judah do so, as if he should say, the truth is Judah is in great danger to be defiled by Israel, and why so?

Reas. 1 First, They lived neer unto them, and there is a great deal of danger in living neer unto Idloaters or wicked ones. All sin, especially Idolatry is as leaven that will spread, and you may see the danger that there was in living so neer them, in Ezek. 16.46. and indeed afterwards it proved to be dangerous, one special reason of the iniquity of Jerusalem is there given,Ezek. 16.46. Opened Thine elder sister Samaria, she and her daughters dwell at thy left hand; and thy younger sister that dwells at thy right hand is Sodom and her daughters; That was an especial reason of the iniquity of Jerusalem, their elder sister Samaria, that is the ten Tribes, were on the left hand, and their younger sister, Sodom, were on the right hand, and so they came to be sinful. To be neer I­dolaters and wicked ones is very dangerous; then much more to be in the same Town,Obser. in the same family where su­perstitious and wicked persons are, there we had need to take heed to our selves, for there is much danger.

2 Again, This was not only dangerous that Judah should be defiled by Israels Idolatry because of their neerness, but secondly, because they were brethren, and so the dan­ger was the greater to be drawn aside by them.Obser. If you have a kinsman, if you have one that is neer to you, not only in place but in nature or affection, that is superstitious, take heed of being defiled by such. Oh how many have suffered shipwrack of their faith by this means, that they have had some kinsman, some Uncle, some acquaintance that have been very neer unto them, and they have drawn them aside from the waies of God. Hence is the reason of that severity that God would have used against a brother or a friend that seeks [...]o draw away from God unto Idolatry, because the Lord sees [Page 173] there is so much danger in it, Deut. 13.6.Deut. 13.6. If thy brother, or the son of thy mother, or the son of thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend which is as thine own soul, Opened entice thee secretly to go from God, thou shalt not consent unto him, neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him, but thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death. Though he be thy brother, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend that is as thine own soul thou shalt not pity him, but thou shalt seek the very death of such an one if he seek to draw thee unto [...]aies of Idolatry. Because God saw what danger there was in this; that is the reason of the severity.

Thirdly, Judah was in great danger to be drawn aside by 3 Israel, because that Israel was the greater number. Israel was ten Tribes, but Judah and Benjamin, those two Tribes, little Benjamin together with Judah were but a few in comparison of Israel. It is a great argument that Idolaters use to draw others unto the waies of Idolatry because of the number of those that go that way.Obser. The whol World admire after the Beast; the World doth, the Nations do, and that is a mighty argu­ment to draw; the greater part of people they think that [...]is way of worship is the best way, there are but a few an [...] considerable number that are in another way. No question but it was their argument here, as if they should say, what, do not ten Tribes know the mind of God as well as those two? Is there any reason why we should think that the greater part of the children of Abraham, of the Jews, ten Tribes should not know the mind of God? It is the argument at this day (say many that are superstitious and would go on in their old way of Idolatry) They that are against such waies they are but a few, an inconsiderable party, but the chief, the great ones and the most of all sorts you see which way they go. We are to take heed of this. Oh let not Judah though Israel be the greater part follow a multitude to do evil.

Fourthly, Israel was rich and in a flourishing estate, there­fore 4 there was danger that Judah might be carried away by them. Israel carried things before them in outward pomp and glory, and we know that way that thrives in the world, [Page 174] men will soon be brought to close with;Obser. and the way of Isra­el when Hosea prophesied did much thrive and prosper, Israel prevailed mightily in the world, When Ephraim spake there was trembling, therefore it was a wonderful grace of God to keep Judah from following their example. We find it by ex­perience, let a way be persecuted yet let it be but once counte­nanced in the world, men will cry it up; do we not see at this day that those things that heretofore men would not profess, because of persecution, that now on a sudden their minds are changed and now they cry it up? The same thing that heretofore have been persecuted, if they once be but coun­tenanced by great ones and by multitudes, how will men cry it up! Things that their hearts were against, things that they would argue and reason against, yet now because they have more publick countenance, their judgments are changed; here is the deceit of mens hearts, that way that hath most counte­nance in the world, that way they will go on in, especially in the worship of God.

5 Fiftly, Israel had many colours and pretences for what th [...] did, and that might endanger Judah to be led aside by t [...], for Israel they did not profess themselves Idolaters and superstitious, No, they profest that they did serve the Lord, the true Jehovah, and the difference was not great be­tween them and Judah, they would tell you it was but cir­cumstances in place, you must worship God at Jerusalem, and we would have you worship at Dan and Bethel, and those I­mages that are set up are but to put you in mind of the same God you worship.Obser. The neerer any come to you in what is the right worship of God, yet if they retain any corruption, there is so much the more danger that they should draw you from that which is right; for Israel did come neerer to the true worship of God than the Heathens did, now the Prophet doth not say, though the Hea­thens be Idolaters, yet let not Judah be so too, but though Is­rael play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend. There was more danger that Judah should be drawn aside by Israel than that they should be drawn aside by any of the Heathen. And so there is more danger that we at this day should be drawn aside [Page 175] by those that joyn with us in many things that are right than by Papists, they are hateful to us,Applic. we see their waies to be a­bominable. Papists and Heathens there is not so much dan­ger (especially for those that profess godliness) to be drawn aside by them, but the danger is in this, to be drawn aside by their brethren, and that by their brethren that joyn with them in many things that are right, and that come very neer to the true worship of God.

Well, Judah must not do so though Israel doth. As there were many things wherein Judah was in great danger to be drawn aside by Israel; so there were many arguments why Judah should not do as Israel did.Exposit. As

First, God had graciously differenced Judah from Israel Reas. 1 in abudance of mercy, Judah must not now make himself like Israel in sin, seeing God had made them unlike in mercy. God had in mercy made a difference between Judah and Israel, let not then the wickedness of their hearts make themselves to be all one. God had kept Judah to the house of David and to his Temple, to be his own people.

Secondly, Judah had more means than Israel had, there­fore Reas. 2 Judahs sin would be more vile than Israels was: For Ju­dah had the true Priests of God to teach them; Judah had the Temple among them; Judah had the Ordinances of God in the right way with them; therefore for Judah to be drawn a­side to the waies of Israel, this would be a greater sin in them. Whatsoever Israel doth that have none but superstitious Ido­latrous Priests amongst them, Priests made of the lowest of the people, Israel that hath but the Calves and hath not the right Ordinances of God among them, whatsoever they do, yet let not Judah offend that have the true Ordinances of God and the true Priests and Ministers of God among them.Observ. ‘Oh those that enjoy Gods Ordinances in his own way and the Ministers of God in a right way of calling they should take heed of doing as other people do.’ And then,

Thirdly, Judah was not compell'd by her Governours to Reas. 3 do so as Israel, for Israel you know by Jeroboam and other of the Princes was compeld to do what they did, and they might [Page 176] pretend that it was for their own safety, to save their lives and to save their estates: but there was no such necessity for Judah to do it, for God many times sent godly and gracious Prin­ces to Judah, and there was not such waies there to compel them, they were not so necessitated to that way of false wor­ship as Israel was, (if we may call it any necessity to that which is evil.Obser.) When people have liberty and are not forced but God doth give them liberty that they need not (except they will) be Idolaters, yet for them to close with waies of I­dolatry and superstition, when they need not, this is more sinful. It is true, heretofore there might have been some ex­cuse, we were forced to it, it was as much as our estates were worth, we must have been cast into prison and persecuted, and that made us do that we did. The Lord be merciful to us for that we rather than we would suffer would joyn in those superstitious waies that were amongst us. But now thorough Gods mercy we are delivered from that bondage, we are not so compel'd, yet that now for all this our hearts should yet cleave to those old superstitious waies, this makes our sin so much the greater.

Reas. 4 Fourthly, Let not Judah sin, for what then should become of Gods worship? For God had no other people upon the face of the earth but Judah and Israel to worship him; well, Israel is gone from him, and will Judah go too? what will become of the worship of God? A mighty argument to those that make profession of godliness to keep them from the waies of false worship and wickedness in any kind.Obser. If you depart from God too as others do, what honor will God have in the world? what will become of the service of God in the world? Is not God worthy of all honor and of all service from all his creatures? It is pitie there should be any creature in the world that should not honor and serve the blessed and infinite God; But we see most do not, and there are but a few, a handful of people that regard to worship God aright, and shall this few this handful forsake God? where then shall God have any honor in the world? Shall Judah go away too? then the Lord will have no Church, no worship, no service in the world.

Fiftly, God had much mercy in store for Judah, more than Reas. 5 for Israel, therefore let not Judah offend: For Christ was to come from that Tribe of Judah, and the Lord promised that he would shew mercy unto Judah when he had said he would reject Israel as indeed he did. Though Judah was carried in­to captivity as well as Israel, yet God was with Judah in their captivity and promised them a return from it, but he never promised Israel a return in the like manner as Judah. There­fore since God had the more mercy in store for Judah, let not Judah offend.

From hence these Notes are to be observed.

First, We must not do as others do, especially in point of Obs. 1 Gods worship; we must not make the example of men, not of any sort of men, not of our brethren, not of those that pro­fess Religion, not of those that prosper in the world, we must not make them an exemplar or rule in any thing; especially in the matters of Gods worship. Indeed the considerati­on how others sin against God should be so far from being an argument to draw us unto sin, as it ought to be the greatest argument to draw us from sin; Thus, every sin against God it is a striking at God.simile It's true if there be a common enemy come into a City or Town, every one desires to have a blow at him, and when men make this an argument for their sin be­cause others do it, they deal with God as those in a Town would deal with a common enemy, that is thus, why such and such and such go on in such wicked waies, they strike at God, therefore let me strike at God too, when thou pleadest that argument and saiest because such and such do sin there­fore I may sin, thou doest in effect as much as say such and such strike at God let me have a blow at him too. Is there any force in this argument? For ever take heed of pleading the example of others in waies of wickedness, and remember this one expression that thou doest in effect as if thou shouldst say, others about me they strike at God and I must have my blow at him too as well as they. In any sin we must take heed of example, but above all in matters of worship. Hence Deut. 12.30. Take heed to thy self that thou be not snared by following of [Page 178] the Nations after that they be destroyed from before thee, and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these Nations serve their gods? even so will I d [...] likewise. Take heed saith God, thou dost not so much as enquire how these people serve their gods and say, I will do so likewise. God would not have us use that argument. Take heed therefore of pleading thus, other people do so and so and other Nations, why may not, we do as other Nations do? It is a very ill argument to plead example in matters of worship, I mean that worship that here Judah is forewarned of, that is, worship that is by institution, and above all things the examples of men are not to be fol­lowed in points of institution. In any thing in the world there may be more plea for example than in instituted worship and the reason is this,Note Because that other things have some­what of them written in the Law of nature in mans heart, all matters of morallity are in some degree or other written in mans heart by nature, every man hath somewhat of the moral Law written in his heart, but institutions they are such things as depend meerly upon Gods revealed will and are not written in the heart of man: Therfore though we might have a plea to follow the example of others in point of morality, yet there can be no just plea to follow the example of others in point of Institutions, there we must be sure to keep to the rule of Gods Word, to look above all things in points of Institution, to what is written and never to make it an argument that such or such people do so and so. And,

Obs. 2 Secondly, a second Note is, That it goes neer to the heart of God when his people offend much more than when others offend. Yet let not Judah offend: Judah was the only people of God, the only true Church of God that remained in the world. When Gods own people offend, Oh that goes nee­rer unto the heart of God than when others do offend. As Christ said to his Disciples, Will ye also go away? and as Juli­us Caesar said to Brutus in the Senate that came with a dagger to stab him, What and thou my son Brute, what thou amongst all others? so saie God, when those that are professors of Religi­on, that are his people, that are neer unto him, when they [Page 179] sin against the Lord, what and you also? will you also come and strike me?

First, There is more unkindness in the sins of Gods people than there Reas. 1 is in the sins of others. This grieves the Spirit of God, others do provoke God, do anger God, but Gods Saints do grieve his Spirit, for grief is out of love, Note and the more God loves any the more grievous is it unto his heart that they should offend him. The more you love a wife, or a child or a friend, the more doth it go to your heart that such a one should do any thing that might justly offend you.

Secondly, There is more unfaithfulness in the sins of Gods people Reas. 2 th [...]n there is in the sins of others, for they have given up themselves unto God in another way than others have done, and the heart of God confideth in them more. What thou my friend that hath eat bread at my table, wilt thou lift up thy heel against me? And Esa. 63.8. I said, they are children that will not lye. God confi­deth in them, and for them to be unfaithful, for Judah to sin, this goes to the heart of God indeed.

Thirdly, Gods Name is more polluted by the sins of his people than Reas. 3 by the sins of others. Others, wicked ones offend the will of God, but they do not pollute the Name of God so much as his own people do.

Fourthly, The excellency of the graces of the Saints and the ex­cellency Reas. 4 of the state wherein they are, makes their sins to be worse than the sins of others; As spot of dirt in a sackcloth is not so great an evil as spots of dirt and stains in a piece of Cambrick or Lawn,simile if you have fine cloathes and fine garments and there be but a stain comes upon them, a spot of dirt, then you will think that a great evil; but there are some course garments (as your safeguards) that you make of course things, you care not so much though they be solid and dirty; So the wic­ked they are of a course thread, their spirits are little worth, therefore though they be sullied and defiled it is not so much; but the spirits of the Saints they are renewed, they have the Image of God upon them, therefore a spot in them is a great deal worse; As a spot of dirt upon an ordinary Deal board is no great evil,simile but if there be a curious Image and Picture drawn [Page 180] upon a table, to have that besmeared is a great deal worse: so if thou art godly thou hast the Image of God drawn upon thy soul, and a sin, a spot in thee is worse than in others. There­fore what ever others do, yet let Gods people take heed to themselves that they do not offend.

Yea, the Saints of God they are the very salt of the earth, the very light of the world, they are those for whose sake God continueth the world in that way he doth, they are the sup­porters of all, and if they depart from God also what will be­come of the world?

Reas. 5 Fiftly, As the sins of the Saints go neerer the heart of God than the sins of others, so they go neerer to the heart of the Saints. The sin of one Saint goes neerer the heart of another Saint than the sin of any other man doth. Offences of brethren amongst brethren they are the greatest of all. As Sampson said to those that came to bind him,simile do not you bind me, I care not for the Philistines so much, only do you not bind me: so all the railings and persecutions of ungodly men are not so much as the unkindness of the Saints. Unkindnesses from such as we look upon as godly, go neerer to the heart of those that are godly than all the railings and persecutions of ungodly men. If others of the Saints, such as are godly, should suffer oppo­sition, yea if it should come to this that they should suffer per­secution from such as they look upon as godly, Oh how would that cut their hearts! Their complaints to their father of this would be sore complaints indeed.

Applic.The force of this, Though Israel do thus, yet let not Judah of­fend, if it were applied unto us at this time, it would come to thus much, ‘Though Prelates, though such as were super­stitious and corrupt, though they were bitter against and did persecute my servants, yet let not such as have professed godliness, let not such as have been painful and consciona­ble Ministers, let not such whose consciences have been here­tofore tender in many things, let not them offend in any bit­terness in any harshness against their brethren; This will go more to Gods heart and to the heart of the Saints than any offences of any other that ever was heretofore.’ All the [Page 181] persecutions of all the Prelates and Papists and of all your Po­pish Priests and such kind of men, they would not be the thou­sand part so much as any bitterness or harshness from the spi­rits of those that are looked upon as godly against the Saints; Especially such as heretofore have profest so much tenderness of conscience, and have suffered so much for the tenderness of their consciences because they could not do what they were enjoyned to do, and now if they after they have gotten liberty to their own consciences should once come to be harsh and bitter against others that are godly, Oh how sad would this be unto God and unto his people! Oh let not Judah offend what ever Israel do.

Come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Beth-aven.

There are two things to be enquired here.

  • 1. What this Gilgal, and what Beth-aven was.
  • 2. The reason of the prohibition, why they must must not come to Gilgal, nor go to Beth-aven.

The words are ordinarily read and past over without any great observation, but there is much of Gods mind in them.

For the first, Gilgal, Gilgal it was a most famous place in the bor­ders of Israel, famous heretofore for many things. I know no one place that there are more glorious things spoke of than of Gilgal, except Jerusalem it self. It was famous for these things.

First, There was that great Circumcision after Israel 1 came out of the wilderness, when God rold away their re­proach, from whence it had the name Gilgal. For we are to know that all the fourty yeers wherein Israel was in the wil­derness, none of their children were circumcised, God was so indulgent to his people for that time, because they were to remove up and down according as God should require, they knew not how soon, now if their children should then have been circumcised they could not have carried them up and down so readily. But yet it see [...]s it was an affliction, for God saith he would roll away the reproach of Egypt from off [Page 182] them and therefore commanded that they should be circum­cised. Now when they came over Jordan, assoon as ever they came to set foot upon the land of Canaan, or presently upon it, then God required them to circumcise their children. And if we observe it, it was a strange command, for they were now come into the very mouth of their enemies, and all the people of C [...]n [...]an, all the Kings and Princes of the Countrey were gathered together to fight against them, and yet now they must circumcise even their fighting men, those that had been in the wilderness so long, all those that were under fourty yeers old must now be circumcised, and though they were e­ven in the very mouth of their enemies and by reason of their forenes [...] after their circumci [...]ion they could not be able to stir out against them, yet they mu [...] come to it. Thus we see God will have his worship regarded rather than our own safety when he pleaseth.Note And upon this the place was called Gil­g [...]l, the text gives the reason, J [...]sh. 5.9. This day (saith God) have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you, wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day. The word is from [...] that signifies to roll, the Hebrew letter Gimel being doubled and interposed, it is Gilgal. That is the first thing observable of this place, that there was the great circumci­sion.

2 Secondly, There was the first Pass-over that was ever kept in the land of Canaan, as appears Josh. 5.10.

3 Thirdly, In Gilgal there the Mannah ceased, and the [...]eo­ple were fed with the bread of the Wheat of the country of Canaan; there God gave them that first possession of Canaan to eat of the fruit of the Land, that they should not have any need of such extraordinary providence of God to feed them b [...] Manna, but they should eat of the fruit of the land; this was in Gilgal as appears Josh. 5.12.

4 Fourthly, There did Jos [...]ua pitch those twelve stones which they took out of Jordan for a memorial & perpetual remem­bra [...]ce of that great deliverance given them by God in dry­ing up the waters of Jordan from before them until they were passed over, as appears Josh. 4.20.

Fiftly, Joshua himself together with the Camp kept much 5 in Gilgal, and that after Jericho was taken, after Ai was taken, after the five Kings were slain, yet Joshua kept there, Josh. 10.6. Yea after the whole Countrey was possest yet still he kept at Gilgal together with the Camp, as appears Josh. 14.6.

Yea in the sixth place, At Gilgal the Angel of God appea­red 6 unto Joshua, Josh. 5.13. and told him he was Captain of the host of the Lord, and bad Joshua loose his shoes from off his feet for the place whereon he stood was holy. The Angel of God appeared to tell him that he went before as the great Captain of the host of God to give them possession, and the place was holy.

Seventhly, At Gilgal Saul was anointed King and thither 7 he and Samuel often repaired, 1 Sam. 21.15.

Eightly, Gilgal was the place for sacrificing, the Taberna­cle, 8 the Propitiatory was much at Gilgal, as appears 1 Sam. 10.8. and 1 Sam. 15.21. And verse 33. of that Chapter when Sa­m [...]el hewed Agag in pieces, it was in Gilgal, and the text saith, It was before the Lord.

Ninthly, At Gilgal Elijah and Elisha came often, and there 9 they prophesied as 2 King. 2.1. and chapter 4. verse 38. You see how famous Gilgal was, and yet though Gilg [...]l in these Nine particulars was such a famo [...]s place, God gives his peo­ple a charge that of all places they must not come to Gilgal. I will give you the reason of the prohibition by and by, only I must first cell you what Beth aven was.

Beth-aven Beth aven was no other than that Town which so often in Scripture was called Bethel, which Bethel signifies the house of God, and it had that name given unto it by Jacob upon Gods extraordinary appearing to him when he fled because of his brother Esau, Gen. 28. This place was before called Luz, and it had that name from the abundance of Almond trees which were there, which that word Luz signifies; but upon Gods appearing unto Jacob it changed the name and it is called Be­thel, the house of God; And a very sweet NoteNote we may have from thence, and that is this, ‘That Gods appearing to his people in any place puts a more honorable respect upon it [Page 184] than all the pleasant fruits that can grow in a place.’ A Garden or Orchard, if they were fill'd with Almond trees and the most pleasant fruits that can be, yet they are not so delight­ful, they should not be so delightful to our hearts, nor would not be if our hearts were right, as the house of God, where God appears to us. If God appear to us in any place though it should be a wilderness, it should have the honor rather than the most pleasant Garden in the world where we have not the like appearance of God to us. Gods appearing makes that place the house of God: where ever God appears, there is the house of God, and that will make a place far more delightful than all the beautiful and pleasant fruits in the world possibly can do. Thus you see what both places were; but now they are charged they must not come thither.Applic. Beth-aven it is no other place than Bethel, and if you will know the reason of the change of the name from Bethel to Beth-aven, I shall shew you presently in giving you the reason why they must not come to Gilgal nor to Beth aven.

Now the reason why they must not come thither, it was, Reas. 1 because though they were such famous places before for Gods true worship, yet now they were become the primest places for Idolatry in the whol land, therefore there is a charge here not to come to Gilgal nor to Beth-aven. So in Amos, 5.5. there you have the like charge almost in the same words, Seek not Bethel, not enter into Gilgal; there it is called Bethel; though (saith God) it hath the name from my house, and once there was a glorious appearing of mine there, yet now do not seek to Bethel, do not so much as enter into Gilgal.

That both these places were now very corrupt by Idolatry, I will make that appear too. As I have shewed you how fa­mous these places were before, so I will shew you how cor­rupt these places afterward were made.Corrup­tions of Gilgal. For Gilgal, that place was abominably corrupt, it appears plainly in Hos. 9.15. All their iniquity (saith God) is in Gilgal, above all places there is the greatest iniquity committed, and there I hated them saith God. It was the place where God loved his people and mani­fested himself unto them, but now, there I hated them, I saw so [Page 185] much wickedness in Gilgal that made me hate them now. And it quickly grew to be corrupt, for in Ehuds time the third Judg from Joshua Idols were then begun to be set up in Gilgal; Judg. 3.19. the text saith, that Ehud turned again from the quar­ries that were by Gilgal, [...] of dolore, sculpere. now that word translated quarries [...] some turn it, he came ab Idolis, from the Idols, and so the word may be translated; And it signifies to engrave, he came from the engravings. There were Idols at Gilgal then. And the reason of the corruption that there was in Gilgal was this, because it had been an eminent place, and that place was accounted very holy because of the great things that had been done there, upon which they set up their Images there, and put much superstitious respect and honor upon the place. They took the rise of their respect to the place from Gods much appearing there and the great things that had been done there, and now they began to think that place was holy and so abused it:Note ‘As men are subject to abuse places and to put holiness in places more than God doth because of some spe­cial things that have been done in those places;’ As we see Papists do at this time, at the Sepulchre of Christ, Oh what a deal of stir was there about going to visit the Sepulchre of Christ! And the very Cross whereon Christ was crucified what a stir was there about that as if it were more holy than a­ny other piece of wood! One chip of it was counted worth I know not how much; And the Sepulchres of the Martyrs and Cels of the Munks, men have gone many a sore journey to vi­sit those places. This is the old vanity of spirit that was a­mongst the people of the Jews. Whereas the truth is that it is not the place that can sanctifie a work except it be appointed by Gods insti [...]h [...]on therunto, but if there be any sanctity in a place it is san [...] [...]h [...]y the work, & not the work by the place; and if the work do sanctifie it, it is but for the present while the holy duties are in exercising. We may say this is the house of God, where the Congregation meets for performance of holy duties, but it is only in regard of the work, when the work is done there remains no impression of holiness upon the place, as if Gods worship were not so well accepted in any o­ther [Page 186] place as in that. This was the vanity that was amongst the Jews, they did therefore abuse the place, Gilgal, because there had been don so great things there, and God hated it so much the more now, I charge you saith he, come not to Gil­gal that superstitious place. They thought because it was a place so eminent for many appearings of God, it was there­fore the more holy; I do therefore abhor it saith God.

Come not to Beth-aven] The reason why they must not come to Beth-aven appears from the change of the name, it was once Bethel, Corrup­ [...]ons of Bethel. and now it is Bethaven, and the difference betwixt these two names Bethel and Beth-aven is wide and great, Bethel is the house of God, and Bethaven is the house of iniquity, the house of vanity, the house of labor, and the house of affliction, for it signifies all these. That which was my house, which I did once own, being corrupted it is no other but the house of ini­quity, and vanity, and the house that brings affliction. Beth­aven was one of the places where Jeroboam set up one of his Calves, one of the eminentest places for the Calves, and he took the advantage of the conceit that the people had of the holines of that place to set up one of hi [...] Calves there, & thought thereby to prevail with the people so much the more: now God chargeth them that they should not come there. There was indeed another Town as in Josh. 7. that before was cal­led Beth-aven, but generally that by Interpreters is made ano­ther Town, not that of Bet [...]el, but this Town here is no other than that Bethel of which we have such often mention in the Scripture. And some, as Aquila, Aquila and Symachus, they turn the word B [...]thaven, Note Domus inutilis, an unprofitable place, for indeed sin and Idolatry make places unprofitable.

Come not to Beth-aven.] From whence we a [...] to note, First, We must take h [...]d of coming to places that ar [...]ew-goous to draw us into sin, Obser. especially to false worship. Those places that are dange­rous for bodily pollution we must take heed of. Prov. 5.8. Remove thy way f [...] [...]m [...]her, and com [...] not near the door o [...] her house. Do not come so much as nigh her door. Say not, why [...]y not I go such a way? may not I go by he [...] [...] mu [...] not go by her house nor [...] [Page 187] house. This is a strange admonition you will say; Mark the very words before the admonition, in the seventh verse, Hear me now O ye children, and depart not from the words of my mouth; what are the words of his mouth? Remove thy way far from her, and come not nigh the door of her house. Thus wisdom her self counsels us, Use. howsoever many think they may take liberty to themselves to come neer a temptation, neer to such a place, many have come so neer that they have been taken with the temptation;simile As you shall see it sometimes in your houses, when you light up a candle, you shall have some gnats and flies that will flutter up and down the light and at first they will keep at some distance, and then get nee­rer, till at length they singe their wings and lose their lives too; so it is with many, at first they think, they will not do such a thing, Oh God forbid they should do so and so; but they will come nigh a temptation, and be tampering with a temptation and at length they are taken with it and destroyed by it. It is dangerous to take liberty out of Curiosity to go to see places of Idolatry, with pretence only to see Mass,Curiosity To see supersti­tion the danger of it. and to go abroad to see the fashions of the Countrey. Dinah went a­broad to see the fashions of the Country, but she came deflou­red home; so there are many that will go abroad to see the fashions of Countries out of Curiosity; I speak not of going when God calleth us to it, but to go meerly out of curiosity, it is just with God that we should come home maimed and not whol as we went. In the Lords prayer we pray that God would not lead us into temptation, How do men mock God when they pray to God daily, Lead us not into temptation, yet they will venture upon temptations, go to brothel houses, to many places where they know there will be wicked company, yea even thrust themselves into wicked company needlesly, on­ly with this pretence, Oh they will take heed to themselves, and they mean no hurt; Let not that excuse you,Play-houses. when you have a temptation to go to wicked places, to play houses, to brothel houses, to wicked company, satisfie not your selves with this, I mean no hurt; but have you any call from God, can you approve it before God and say, Lord thou hast call'd [Page 188] me hither?Tertullian I suppose you have heard of that story that Ter­tullian hath of a Christian woman, who being at a play was possessed of a Devil, and other Christians coming to cast him out, asked the evil spirit how he durst possess one that was a Christian? He answered, I found her saies he in my own place; so if we would take heed of the Devil, take heed of wicked places.

Obs. 2 Secondly, Whatsoever places have been heretofore, yet when they grow corrupt in Gods worship they lose their ho­nor. Rome heretofore hath been a famous Church, as in Rom. 1. Use. we find that the faith of Rome was spread abroad tho­roughout the world, and so they will yet plead for the glory of Rome, because once it was famous. But it is no matter what it hath been, what is it now? suppose it hath been the seat of Peter, what is it now? If once they are corrupt in them­selves they lose the honor of what once they had. Oh let us take heed unto our selves in this. It is true, England England. hath also been a famous place for Religion, and Travellers that have come hither have blessed themselves, and blessed God for seeing what they have done, they never saw so much of God as in England: But if we shall corrupt our waies and grow to be Idolaters and superstitious we may by Gods just judgment be made at infamous and vile as any people upon the face of the earth. And so it is true of particular persons, of persons that heretofore have had much honor among the Saints, have been men of admirable parts and have been useful to the Church, it may be temptation prevails so much with them, I have had such a name, I have done such and such things, I now may be quiet, I cannot but be esteemed of for what I have done. But let a man in his younger time or afterward do never so worthily in the Church of God or Common­wealth, if he decline afterward he loseth all his honor both with God and men, and may be as unsavory salt, and spurned out and troden under foot of men; As Gilgal and Beth-aven though honored before, yet now the people are charged not to come to them. Some men one would have blest themselves before to be in their company in their families, but now grown [Page 189] so loose, so sapless in their spirits, so carnal, so malignant, so superstitious, so vain,Note that it is dangerous now to come into their company, so that now we may even hear a voice from God calling to us, go not into such a mans company, as here, go not to Gilgal. Thus you have these words opened unto you and what the mind of God is in them. Come not to to Gilgal, neither go ye up to Beth-aven. It follows.

Nor swear the Lord liveth.] Swearing in it self is lawful, yea it is a part of the solemn worship of God, when God calls for it; And it is such a part of Gods solemn worship as sometimes it is put for all the worship of God in Scripture, Psal. 63.12. Isa. 19.18. Therefore oathes are to be esteemed so much the more sacred; For as God puts an honor upon prayer, that sometimes all the worship of God is called prayer, He that calleth on the Name of the Lord shall be saved; My house shall be called the house of prayer &c. So God puts this honor upon Oathes, that all his worship hath sometimes the name of an Oath. Therefore the abuse of Oaths is much the more vile; & when swearing is called for, it should only be by the Name of Lord,An Oath what it implies. we should swear by the Lord when it is lawful to swear and no other way, for by this we acknowledg the Lord to be the searcher of all hearts, the Judger of the heart, the All-seeing God, fit to witness to al mens waies, and to be an avenger of all their unfaithfulness, this we hold forth in an Oath. And here is the reason that we must swear by none but by God, because in swearing (I say) we do acknowledge him we swear by to be the searcher of our hearts, the witness of all our secrets, and the supream Judge if we be unfaithful; Now this honor is only due to God whether secret or open. God accounteth much of this his honor and will not give it to another. And when we do swear by the Name of God, the Life of God is the greatest title we can give to God in an Oath. It is the greatest Oath of all,Living God what it implies. God himself doth often swear by his life, and the Angel sweareth by the living God. God loveth that his creature should acknow­ledge him to be the living God for ever, that is to live to reward that which is good, and to revenge that which is [Page 190] evil. And therefore Jer. 4.2. there is an injunction, Thou shalt swear, the Lord liveth, but it must be in truth, in righteousness, and in judgment. And indeed it is Gods mercy to us that he will grant us the use of his Name, that he is willing to be called to witness to our affairs.

But then you will say, why doth God forbid it? In that place of Jeremiah you see it is, Thou shalt swear, the Lord liveth; and here,Ierem. re­conciled with Hos. You shall not swear the Lord liveth. How shall we re­concile these? Thus, because God would not have his Name and this his solemn worship abused by Idolaters; When they were before their Idols yet still they would make use of Gods Name and would seem to honor God; Oh Jehovah liveth, we acknowledg him and honor him as a living God. This was the guize of those Idolaters, though they forsook the true worship of God and his commandement, yet they would seem to honor God much, the Lord liveth, and we desire to honor this living God. Now saith God, what do you go on in such waies of Idolatry as these and take my Name into your mouths? what have you to do to take my Name into your mouths seeing you hate to be reformed? I will have none of this honor from you saith God, you shall not swear any more, the Lord liveth. Applica. Many superstitious people they will make much use of the titles of God in their mouths, and have many expressions about God that carry much devotion with them, they will cry out, our blessed Saviour, our Lord and Saviour, and the blessed God, and honouring the Lord and the like, they will I say have many titles of God in their mouths and expressions that carry much devotion with them, but God cares for none of these all the while they worship him accor­ding to the traditions of men, after their own inventions, God care [...] not for all their seeming honouring him, for all their devotion, let them appear to men to be never so devout, God rejects those devotions when they reject his pure and sincere worship. God loves not to have his worship mixed. Zeph. 1.5. there God chargeth them for swearing by the Lord and by Malcham, that they would put both together; what is the meaning of that? Malcham there signifies, a King, for so the [Page 191] Hebrew word doth, and it seems that this people, though it is true they would sometimes call their Idols by the name of King, Honoris gratia, to give respect unto them, yet there is some probability that in this place more is intended, namely that they would worship God, yea but they would worship their King too, they would swear by God and by Malcham, Zeph. 1.5 Opened they made their honor of their King come too neer the honor of God; that is one thing (I say) that seems to be specially in­tended here, they would not reject the true God, but they would set the honor of their King too too neer the honor of the true God. It is true, both are to be honored, but one is to be honored more than the other, and the true distance be­tween both in giving honor is duly to be observed, and not to jumble them both together, to swear by God, and to swear by Malcham, & not observe the true distance between them both; Much less to prefer the will of their Malcham their King be­fore the will of their God.Note God cares not for any honor that is given unto him if we make any Competitor with him. It is true indeed God rejects not the worship of his Saints because of some mixtures of evil,Caution for there are none that do worship him so but they do mix some sin with it; But now such as chuse to themselves some way of sin, that set up in their hearts and lives some way of sin, and then think it sufficient to give God some outward service and to put off God so, while at o­ther times they follow their own [...]usts, such worship God re­jecteth, therefore saith the Lord here to these Idolaters, You shall not swear, the Lord liveth. It follows.

Verse 16.

For Israel slideth back as a back-sliding heiser.

Here first Israel, the ten Tribes, is compared to a heifer, and to a back-sliding heifer. A heifer,Heifer. that [...]red the wantonness of Israel. And here is one argument why Judah must not of­fend a [...] Israel doth, let not Judah offend as Israel doth, for Israel as [...] back sl [...]ding h [...]ifer Israel through his sin hath [...] to be a vile, a wanton heifer, but the emblem [Page 192] of Judah is to be a Lyon, Gen. 49.9. Judah is a Lyons whelp, he stooped down, he couched as a Lyon, and as an old Lyon; who shall rouse him up? It is true that Judah should not refuse the yoke thorough wantonness and perversness, but through a magna­nimous spirit, he should not be willing to be brought under the yoke of bondage. Israel is as a heifer that through wan­tonness doth refuse to be brought under the yoke, but let not Judah do thus, for Judah is as a Lyon, and although Judah be a Lyon, yet he should come under Gods command, to be subject unto him; but when it comes to be in bondage unto men and that in matters of Religion, Judah should have a magnanimous spirit, a Lyon like spirit and should cast off the yoke of men in that regard, Let not Judah be like Israel; Judah is as a Lyon, Israel as a heifer.

And the word that is translated back-sliding, commeth of [...] [...] It signifies perversness as well as backsliding. It is translated in Scripture stubborness, rebellion, as in that place of Duteronomy about the stubborn and rebellious child,Exposit. there is the same word that is here, and many other Scriptures might be shewen how this word is taken otherwise than here for back-sliding: Israel is a stubborn, a rebellious, a perverse peo­ple, therefore let not Judah be so. And I find the Seventy translate it thus, [...]. Israel, the ten Tribes, they were like a stung Bullock, Juvenca oestro percita, as if so be they had by a kind of witchery, or by the byting of some venemous thing been put into a fury or madness; that is the force of the word according to the translation of the Seventy, they translate it (I say) by such a word whereby they would signifie that Israel was not now like a Heifer only wanton, but like a Heifer that was bit with some venemous thing, and ran up and down like a mad thing. There is a great deal of dif­ference between the wantoness of a beast, and a beast that runs up and down in a fury and madness as being bit with a mad­dog. Thus this people was. Ephraim goeth on madly: As many wicked men go on in waies aparantly against light and conscience, and against the Word, though they know it will prove to be their eternal ruin and destruction, Conscience tels [Page 193] them so, yet they go on in a madness violently in a rage even down to the pit. This was Ephraims condition here

And that which made Ephraim do so, it was his prosperity. Reas. Ephraim was grown prosperous and had plenty of food, was fed full and large, and that made them go on in such a fury and rage in the waies of wickedness and sin. That was now fulfilled of Ephraim that was prophesied of him Deut. 32.15. Thou art waxed fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he fors [...]ok God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Ro [...]k of his salvation. Note Oh when a people is waxen fat and grown prosperous, then they kick and spurn and forsake God that made them, and lightly esteem the Rock of their salva­tion; God and his Truth and his Saints and his Ordinances, they are nothing with them, they lightly esteem them, why? because they are waxen fat, they are in their prosperity.Applic. You shall have many men upon their sick beds highly esteem of the Ministers of God and of the waies of God and of his word and worship, and then, Oh send for such and such to come to us; but when they are in prosperity they lightly esteem God and all that concerns God. This was the condition of Ephraim. Where have you a man almost but if God let him prosper, ex­cept he come in with abundance of his grace, but he grows wanton in his prosperity? Judah was almost in the same way, though here the Lord would not have Judah to be like Ephra­im as a wanton heifer spurning and kicking with the heel, yet it appears in Jer. 2.24. that Judah was not much unlike them, Judah is there compared to a wild Ass used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure, all they that seek her will not weary themselves, but saies God, in her month they shall find her; take her when she is full of spirit and strength and there is no dealing with her, but in her month, when she is more weakened then they shall find her; So many men, take them at some times when they are in the ruff of their pride and prosperity, there is no dealing with them, but when God hath tamed them by affliction then you may talk with them and then they will hear you.

Israel is as a back-sliding heifer.] The word that is translated [Page 194] heiser here, it is in the feminine gender, though it is spoken of the ten Tribes, because being stubborn and raging mad in wickedness, though they did seem to themselves and others to be of brave spirits, yet the Lord looks upon them as people of base and effeminate spirits, of poor and weak spirits. There is none that are stubborn and proud but they think them­selves to be of more than ordinary spirits, they are the only brave spirits;Obser. but the Lord looks upon those that are stub­born and proud as base and weak spirits, and therefore speaks of them here in the feminine gender.

Now the Lord will feed them as a Lamb in a large place.

I find some, Mercer and Vatablus, they would carry it thus: Lautè ut Agnus pastus, mox mactatur. As a Lamb when it hath large food it is soon slain, so God threatneth Ephraim here that he will soon make an end of them, only he will let them prosper for a while and feed them largely, but it shal be for the slaughter. Many men that are fed largely and are in their pro­sperity, they think themselves blessed, God intends them only for the slaughter; But I think that is not the meaning of the place,Obser. they shall be fed as a Lamb. But thus,

As a Lamb.] They are as a heifer raging mad, but I will make them as a Lamb, I will bring such affliction upon them as that I will tame the pride of their hearts. Have you not seen experiences of this kind? did you never see a ruffianly, blasphemous, proud, stubborn spirit, when the hand of God was upon them, tamed?

Fed as a Lamb.] Parce ac tenuiter, not fed as a heifer, that noted their prosperity, but fed as a lamb, that notes their ad­versity, for the food of a lamb differs from the food of a hei­fer, that which will feed a lamb will starve a heifer. Now saith God, they have been proud and wanton by their pro­sperity, but now they shall have short Commons, I will bring them down, I will lay them low, they shall be but as a lamb that picks up the grass in the wilderness.

As a lamb in a large place.] That is, dispersed among the [Page 195] Countries, amongst the Assyrians and Medes in their captivity, which was a very large Countrey. They, would not be satis­fied with Canaan (which was a narrower Countrey) and with that Sheep-fold of mine that was there, they shall have more room saith God, they shall go into a large place, but it shall be into their captivity.

Or rather, which I conceive to be the full scope of the ho­ly Ghost in these words, I will feed them as a lamb in a large place, That is, as a lamb that shall be alone; one lamb, he speaks of a lamb singly, because they shall be scattered. They had so­ciety and might have made good use of their society where it was, but they did not regard to make good use of it, to edifie themselves in the fear of God, they shall be scattered one in one place and another in another, and they shall be as a lamb alone in the wilderness, succourless, helpless, shiftless, bleating up and down in the wilderness, in the wide vast wilderness, and none to have any regard unto them.simile As now if you should see one poor lamb in a vast wilderness, in a mighty great heath, and in a wilderness where there are a great many Wolves that are ready to devour it, and there is no body neer it, no shepheard to look after it, none that regard it, but it goes bleating up and down alone and none takes any care of it; what will become think you of this lamb? what a suc­courless condition is it in? So saith God, they have been wanton heifers, but I wil feed them as a lamb in a large place, their condition shall be just thus, they shall be carried into captivity and there they shall be bleating and howling and crying out, and in danger of Wolves, but there shall be no bo­dy to regard them and succour them. It is a great deal safer for a lamb to be in the flock though it be more pind in, than to be thus alone in a large place. ‘We love our liberty,Obser. and we may have liberty enough, but this our liberty may prove to be our misery.’ To keep within the compass of Gods commands is the best liberty of all, as David professeth Psal. 119. Then shall I have liberty, when I keep all thy commandments. As for all other liberty it will certainly bring us into straight­ness, therefore Rom. 2.4, 5. where tribulation and anguish is [Page 196] threatned to be upon the head of every one that worketh wic­kedness, the word translated anguish is straightness of place, they shall have straightness of place; you would have elbow room and would fain get out of Gods limits: though God may for a time let you have such liberty, yet the conclusion will be anguish of spirit.Applic. Oh my brethren there is largeness, there is room enough in God, our souls may expatiate themselves in God, we need go no further for liberty, If we would have li­berty out of God out of his bounds, our liberty will prove our undoing and utter destruction.society of Saints to be im­proved. Let us make much then of the to society of the Saints while we are not yet through Gods mer­cy scattered up and down in other Countries as some of our brethren have been, though thorough Gods mercy some in strange Countries have met with Gods fold, and have been in Gods fold there, but others have been scattered about and have walked up and down in the streets and have known no body, and have had none to help them in any strait; but now we may meet together, we may be in Gods fold and have our hearts refreshed, we may go into our families and pray toge­ther and sing together; Our condition is not yet as it is here threatned against Israel, that they should be as a lamb in a large place bleating up and down and none to regard them. If one should be in some parts of Germany and there see an Eng­lish man in some great straight,simile wring his hands and making grievous complaints, and no body succouring of him or hel­ping him, there he remembers what he hath been in England, in what fashion he hath lived, and now there is none regards him, this were a sad condition. This is the condition here threatned, They shall be fed as a lamb in a large place.

Verse 17.

Ephraim is joyned to Idols; Let him alone.

You have heard before that God gives warning unto Judah to take heed of the sins of Israel, of the ten Tribes; And ma­ny arguments are used; some you have heard, and others re­main.

This 17. verse hath two strong arguments for it.

First, Ephraim is joyned to Idols, Ephraim engaging him­self 1 in that way of false worship is now so in wrapped in that sin and guilt that he cannot tel how to get out, he is joyned to it:Note As it is the way of Idolaters and the curse of God upon them, that when they are once got into that sin it is very hard ever to recover them out of it. Take heed Judah that you come not into it.

Secondly, As he is joyned so, being strongly set upon his 2 Idols, so the Lord hath given him up to his Idols. There is this curse of God upon him to say, Let him alone. Oh Judah take heed what you do then. So that these words are brought in as two arguments to perswade Judah not to do as Israel hath done, and indeed all the remainder too of this Chapter is brought in this way.

To speak then of these:

Ephraim is joyned to Idols] Ephraim, why Ephraim was dead long ago, Ephraim was one of the Patriarches, the child of a Patriarch at least, he was the grand-child of Jacob, and he had a great blessing upon him, Gen. 48.20. In thee shall Israel bless, and shall say, God make thee like Ephraim. Ephraim had a special blessing upon him, such a blessing as that the rest of the Tribes should say, God bless thee, and make thee like Ephraim (for Josephs tribe was in Ephraim and Mannasses:) and yet now it is said, that Ephraim is joyned to Idols.

Why Ephraim?

Because that the chief of the ten Tribes that were now joy­ned to Idols were the children of Ephraim, Exposit. 1 for Ephraim and Mannasses stood in stead of Joseph, that Patriarch, and the children I say of Ephraim were those that were joyned to I­dols, which were the chief of the ten Tribes. From whence the first Note is this. That

Children that are wicked they are great disgraces and dishonors un­to their parents. Obs. 1. Ephraim that was dead long before suffers dis­honor by his children that are now joyned to Idols. Use. Let children out of reverence and respect to their parents take heed what they do.

Secondly, All the ten Tribes were joined to Idols, why then Exposit. 2 is Ephraim named rather than any of the other? The reason is this, because that Jeroboam and the Princes were all of the tribe of Ephraim, and therefore all is put upon them. He doth not say the ten Tribes are joyned to Idols, but Ephraim is, because indeed the Idolatry of all the other nine Tribes was from the Idolatry of Jeroboam and the Princes that were of the Tribe of Ephraim. From whence another Note is this, That,

The Governours of people are usually the causes of the evil of the Obs. 2 people, and especially in the point of false worship. If Governours be superstitious and Idolaters, if they will favour Idolatry, all the people usually or the generallity of them will go that way. They contract the guilt of the Idolatry of all the false worship of the people. Ephraim doth, Jeroboam and the Prin­ces that were of that Tribe contracts all the guilt of the Idola­try of all the ten Tribes, therefore it is said Ephraim only, as if only Ephraim was joyned to Idols. Governours therefore that are superstitious and Idolatrous have woful guilt upon them, and we have cause to lament their condition exceedingly. We reade in that second of Matthew where the wise men came to enquire after the King of the Jews, they came from a far Countrey, they said they had seen his star and they desired to know where the place was that he should be born in: It was a mighty work, & such a work as did trouble Herod, and al Jerusalem with him was in a mighty trouble what this should be, a strange thing, that such wise men should come so far, from a far Country, and tell us of a star that appeared, and that a King of the Jews should be born, all the people were troubled together with the King, so as that they called a counsel of all the chief Priests and the Scribes and such as were expert in the Law, to know where Christ should be born, and this Counsel told them that the place was to be in Bethlehem, and upon that the wise men according to their direction or according to the star,Note went to find out the place; But mark, you do not reade of any one of all the people of Jerusalem that went with the wise men; Although they were stirred at it and thought it a [Page 199] wonderful work that a star should thus appear, and that these wise men should come and enquire for the King of the Jews, and that their own Teachers should tell them that he was to be born at Bethlehem and thereupon they went to Bethlehem to search it out, yet (I say) we do not reade that any of the peo­ple went with them; No, they durst not because of Herod, He­rod that was then their Prince he did not frame that way, and therefore not one of the people would follow after the wise men to search after Christ. So it is usual, that when Gover­nors discountenance the waies of God, the people generally do as they do; And especially Governours that are in waies of superstition and Idolatry, and together with those waies shall give people liberty to satisfie their lusts, then they will cleave unto them indeed, as Jeroboam and the rest of the Prin­ces did, they set up a false way of worship and together with that they gave libety unto the people to satisfie their lusts, as appeared partly before and will further appear in this prophe­sie; And this was one special way by which they gained the hearts of the people to them in their false worship because they gave scope and liberty to their lusts. Let any Princes and Go­vernors set up and countenance any false way of worship, and together with it give liberty to the people for the satisfying of their lusts and they will gain enow unto them, there is no cause to wonder that such Princes should have so many to cleave unto them, seeing the people know that by cleaving un­to them they shall have liberty to enjoy their lusts. That is a second Note.

Thirdly, Ephraim is j [...]yned to Idols. Expos. 3.] The word is [...] and it signifies in the Par [...]iciple, Incantatus, such a kind of joyning as your Inchanters in the waies of their conjuration joyn their unclean spirits to them, that is the propriety of the word; so Ephraim is joyned to his Idols, cleaveth to his Idols, or (as some turn it) is glued to his Idols, and that unclean spirit that carries him on to the waies of Idolatry, he comes to be one with him; as it is said of Beleevers, that they are joy­ned to the Lord Christ, and so they are one spirit; so Idolaters are joyned to the Devil and are become one spirit, that is the mea­ning, [Page 200] they are glued to that unclean spirit and so they come to be fastened to their Idols, that is the propriety of the word. From thence the Note is, That,

Idolaters hearts are very strongly glued to the waies of Idolatry, so that it is very hard for any to get off their hearts. Obs. 3 Jer. 8.5. They take fast hold of deceit; they will not easily be taken off. And Jer. 2.10.11. Pass [...]er unto Kedar and consider diligently, and see if there be such a thing; Hath a Nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? Ked [...]r was one of the vilest places of all: Wo is me saith David, that I have my habitation in the tents of Kedar: yet saith God, go thither and see whether they have changed their gods. Those that are the most vilest Idolaters yet they will not change their gods, their hearts are joyned to their gods, let their hearts be never so base and their gods never so vile; as the Egyptians, they would worship Leaves, and Garlick, and Cats, base and vile things and yet they would not be taken off from their Idolatrous waies. I have read of a people in India in the Isle Zolon, that worshiped an Apes Tooth, and when it was taken from them they offered an unconceivable sum of treasure to regain that their Idol again,An Apes tooth. they are set upon their waies of Idolatry though it be never so foolish, never so sottish.

And especially if Idolaters have outward prosperity, to be as the glew and cement, to joyn their hearts to that way of false worship, then they are joyned indeed. Take men that are superstitious and if they do prosper in their waie [...], this their prosperity is the glue and cement to joyn their hearts strongly to those waies, there is no getting of them off from them. And though they have been long in that way of false worship, they do nor like it ever a whit the worse. I beseech you observe this note.Note. ‘In any thing that is false worship an­tiquity will make it venerable, and they will plead for it by antiquity, and say, it is thus and thus ancient, and their forefathers did thus and thus.’ But observe it, in waies of the true worship of God men are quickly weary, and because they have had it a great while they desire some novelty, some new thing. You shall have many people much affected with [Page 201] the truth when it is first revealed to them, and when they com to hear Sermons or such exercises their hearts are much taken with them, but within a while they loath this Mannah and so fall off quickly from it! ‘So that in the worship of God that is true and right, there the continuance in it makes it to be less esteemed; but in false worship the longer people con­tinue in it the more they esteem it, and there antiquity makes it to be venerable, they do argue frō antiquity to make it the more honorable.’ This is the wickedness of the hearts of men.

But will Idolaters thus joyn to their Idols? will their hearts be glued to them? are they willing to be one spirit with them: Oh how much more should we joyn to the Lord our God, joyn to Jesus Christ, to be as one spirit with him? Use. That exhortation of Barnabus Act. 11.23. that with full purpose of heart they should cleave unto the Lord, is a seasonable Exhor­tation even at all times. Oh let us cleave unto God and his worship so as whatsoever arguments are used yet our hearts may never be taken off from the love of the truth; but let us say as once that Martyr did, Though you may pluck my heart out of my bowels, yet you shall never pluck the Truth out of my heart. 2 Martyrs saying. And the less there is between God and our hearts the more firmly shall we be glewed to him. Those that are godly, gracious, they need not the glue, the cement of outward prosperity to joyn their hearts unto God, but godliness alone, the sweet­ness that they find in God alone is enough to joyn their hearts unto him even in an everlasting covenant. Those men who seem to be joyned to God and his worship, yet if it be the glue and cement of outward respects that joyns their hearts unto God they will quickly fall off from it; But those that are im­mediately joyned to God they will for ever keep to him, when there is nothing but God and their hearts together, nothing between God and them.

Ephraim is joyned to Idols] The word that is translated Idols, it is by some translated Angusti, and so indeed it signifies, [...] dolore officere. Expos. 4. it signifies pain and trouble, for their Idols did in the conclusion bring them to pain and trouble. There are two reasons why it signifies pain and trouble:

Reas. 1 First, Because that Idolaters were willing to endure much pain and trouble in the worshiping of their Idols;Applic. which should teach us not to account the worship of God tedious though it be somewhat hard to the flesh; Idolaters would endure pain and trouble to the flesh in the worshiping of their Idols.

Reas. 2 Secondly, Such worship will bring pain and trouble to them in the conclusion.

But this is not the principal thing intended here, but the force of the argument is, Ephraim is joyned to Idols, therefore meddle not with him, do not you do as they do. So that when we see people set up false waies of worship in any place, Obs. 4 and they are set upon those false waies of worship, we must take heed of communicating with then in these false waies of worship; But this Note, to enter into it will take up a great deal of time.

Let him alone] Demitte eum, Let him go saith God, he is joyned to his Idols, let him go. First, This is a speech to Judah, let Expos. 1 Ephraim go saith God to Judah. Ephraim, they indeed are the ten Tribes, the most of the people of the Jews, but yet see­ing they set up false worship, let them go, have nothing to do with them, do not converse with them. ‘It is a heavy judg­ment of God upon a people when the Saints shall let them alone,Obser. when they shall withdraw from them.’ If God had any Saints in the world they were in Judah, and saith God to these Saints of his, let Israel alone and withdraw from them have nothing to do with them, though they be your brethren and Countrey men yet let them alone. Many wicked men they make nothing of this, and say when as Gods people that are the most strict, and holy, and gracious, shall withdraw from them, and as heretofore they went out of the land be­cause they saw it so defiled with superstitious vanities, let them all go say they,Applic. we are well rid of them; And who knows but you may meet with such expressions before you die? that you may have many that will be willing to be [...]id of those that are most godly and gracious. Well, whatsoever men think and say, let them know it is a dreadful curse of God [Page 203] upon a Nation for the Saints of God to withdraw and go from them, for so God threatneth it as one of the most, dread­ful curses; Judah, let them alone, have nothing to do with them: so when God shall speak to his Saints that they shall withdraw from others of their brethren, (I say) it is one of the most dreadful judgments of God upon a people whatever they think of it. You know that expression that you have of the most fearful curse of God upon those that are wicked in the 1 Cor. 16.22. He that loves not the Lord Jesus, let him be Anathe­ma Maranatha. Anathema, let him be accursed,Maran Atha opened but Maran-atha the meaning of that is, the Lord cometh; Maran it sig­nifies the Lord, in the Chaldee and Syriack; therefore in Dan. 4.19. and Dan. 5.23. there that word is translated Lord, My Lord the dram be to them that hate thee, and Thou hast lifted up thy self against the Lord of Heaven, the word is Mari there, from whence that word Maran in the Syriack comes; Daniel living in Chaldea used that phrase for the Lord, And atha signifies to come, Deut. 33.2. The Lord cometh with thousands of his Sains, the word in the original there is atha or you may take it as a Sy­riack word signifying to come. So that you have in Scripture these two words Maran and atha; what then is the meaning of that, Let him be Anathema Maranatha? That is thus, when men shall forsake Christ and the waies of his wor­ship after means have been used with them then Anathema Maranatha, that is, let all the Saints of God leave them to the coming of Jesus Christ, let them alone, do not meddle with them, when you have used all means you can then withdraw your selves from them and leave them unto the coming of Christ, and Christ will deal with them well enough; Let them not only be excommunicated, Use. for some when they were excommunicated though the Saints withdrew themselves from them yet they sought to gain them again, but some were so direfully excommunicated that they were to be let alone to the coming of Christ; so when those that are godly shall first labour to deal with such as are wicked and ungodly by ad­monition, and perswasion, and counsel, and they shall be re­fractory, and stout, and stubborn, and be as swine to trample under feet those pearls, or as dogs to turn again and rend [Page 204] them, they are then to let them alone, that is, to let them alone to the coming of Jesus Christ; and even in their own hearts say, wel we see no means can do them any good, Maranatha, the Lord cometh and he shall deal with them himself when he comes.

Expos. 2 Let them alone.] The Lord speaks to the Prophet, as if he should say, Hosea, you can do n [...] good upon them, it is in vain for you to meddle with Ephraim, Let him alone; Just as Christ gave order to his Disciples when he sent them forth to preach the Gospel, that if any place rejected them they should go a­way and shake the dust off their feet, it shall be a testimony a­gainst them saith he; So saith God here to the Prophet, let them alone, spend not your strength any more upon them. The exhortations that come from the Saints, but especially from Ministers of the Gospel, from Ministers of God, be they what they will be, they are pearls and precious things, and God will not have them despised, he will not have them spent in vain;Obser. therefore there is a time even for the Ministers of God to let people alone. In Exod 33.7. we reade that when the people had notoriously sinned against God, Moses took the Tabernacle of the Congregation and pitched it without the Camp, he went away from the people and did separate from them till they did repent, and would not come amongst them, he took the Tabernacle and went away from the Camp at a great distance from them, more than ordinary; So there is a time even for the Ministers of God to hold their peace and let people alone. Use Many people think they are troubled with Ministers, and they could wish they would let them alone, why do they trouble us? we were quiet enough before they came, we would they would let us alone. There are many guilty consciences that cannot come to a powerful Ministry but they find that the Minister hath in every Sermon to do with them, and he will not let them alone in their wicked waies, and this troubleth them and they had rather be let a­lone; had you so? It is one of the most dreadful judgments in the world for God to say, let such a Ministry let a man a­lone. It may be some of you may be weary of the faithful Mi­nisters [Page 205] of God; you may be rid of them perhaps, God may take them away and you may be let alone, but yet know it is the brand of Gods wrath upon you.

Thirdly, This letting alone, it shews that God himself Expos. 3 would let them alone too, it is an evidence of Gods rejection of this people;simile It is as if a father that had used means to re­claim a rebellious child, and he regards nothing that is said, at length saith the father, let him alone: what do you think is the meaning of this if the father should say so? it is as much as if he should say, I have done with him, I will own him no more, I will meddle no more with him:simile If a servant should be stubborn and rebellious and after much means used to re­claim him should not be reclaimed; the Master saith, let hi [...] alone let him take his own course, I will have no more to do with him; So here when God faith, Let them alone, it is as if he should say, let them take their own waies, let them have their lusts to the full, let them joyn and joyn and joyn to their Idols and satisfie themselves with their own devices, Let them alone. From hence there are these two Notes that are of mervailous use.

First, That God hath a time to give over men to themselves, to say Obs. 1 that his Spirit shal no longer strive with them. Oh many a man hath felt the Spirit of God drawing, strugling, striving with him to draw him from such and such a wicked way; he hath felt (I say) Gods Spirit mighty and strong, what will you still go on in this way of wickedness, uncleanness, drunken­ness, oppression, injustice, profanation, hypocris [...]e, self-see­king and the like? but he hath been striving against the Spi­rit of God and his lusts have even gotten the victory over the Spirit, so that God saith, My Spirt shall no longer strive, I will not struggle in vain, but let him go on and have his own waies; Oh it is dreadful when the Lord shall say of a drun­kard, of an unclean person, of an hypocrite, I have been strug­ling so long with them but yet their hearts have been opposite to me, let them alone in that wicked way and let them go on and satisfie themselves in their wicked devices, Psal. 81.12. They would none of me saith God, they would none of my waies, [Page 206] So I gave them up to their own counsels. Oh this is a dreadful gift! Many men that will set their counsels against Gods counsels, and will do it so long as that God at length gives them up to their own counsels: You will set your thoughts against my Truth, your counsels against mine, well, take your counsels, satisfie your selves in your own waies. And you know that place in the latter end of the Revelation, He that will be filthy, let him be filthy still: Saith God, Let him alone; wil you be filthy? be filthy then. And that in Ezek. 24.13. Because when I would have purged them they would not be purged, therefore they shal be pur­ged no m [...]re saith God; I will let them alone, I will never seek either by my word or by my works to do them any further good, they shall be purged no more.

And the reason of this is:

Reas. 1 1. Because God hath no need of men. God doth this to shew that he hath no need of you; Indeed he seeks by his Word to draw you to obedience to his service, and you stand off and draw from him and will not come on; At length God will manifest himself that he hath no need of your service, he can honor himself without you, though you perish as filth and dung everlastingly.

Reas. 2 2. God therefore will let men alone in their sin, because he doth know how to fetch out glory to his own Name from their sinnes. You will go on in your wicked waies, you will be stubborn and stout saith God, do you think to hinder me of my glory that way? well, do you take your fill of your lusts, I know how to glorifie my self out of that sin of yours that you do so much against my glory, therefore take your fill of it.

Obs. 2 Secondly, which is the chief, It is the most wofull judgment of God upon any people, upon any person, when God shall say in his wrath, Let him alone, go on. The word is [...] and it is as much as to say, Let him be quiet, and Tranquillus; that quiet will prove a dreadful storm. You know what the wise man saith, Wo to him that is alone, Oh wo to him that God saith, Let him alone, that is thus alone. Many men bless themselves when they are let alone, and desire it, Let us alone say they: Oh but when God shal say, Let them alone, this is a most dread­ful [Page 207] thing indeed. It was a fearful evil, it proved at least to be a fearful evil to Adam in Paradise when God let him alone, when God left Adam to himself what became of him? he undid himself what in him lay and all his posterity, when he was but left to those natural abilities he had it proved in the conclusi­on dreadful enough. Yea and when God shall but leave his own Saints, that have grace in them, shall but leave them for a little while unto themselves, Oh what mischief comes of it! As in 2 Chron. 32.31. Hezekiah was left to himself but a while and what a deal of misery did he bring upon himself, when God did but leave him to himself to try what was in his heart? What, are there such evil consequences upon Adam in Paradise left alone, and the Saints left alone here, Oh what a dreadful thing is it then when God shall leave a sinner alone, I mean one that hath nothing else but sin in him, a wicked wretch that hath no grace at all in him?

First, This is a testimony of very great disrespect in God of Reas. 1 his creatures, in this, that he accounts them not worthy of any further medling with, he loves them not so well as to meddle any further with them; it is a sign I say of great dis­respect of God unto them, as if God should say, well there are others indeed that are ill enough, that are very great sinners, but I have mercy for them, I intend to draw them to my self, I intend to shew them th [...] evil of their waies and to turn them to me that they may be saved, but as for these I have nothing to do with them saith God, I have no mercy for them, let them alone, let them shift for themselves as well as they can.

Secondly, The evil is great, because they are then let alone Reas. 2 when they are going a pace unto misery. To let a man alone when he is at home in his house and all things convenient a­bout him, is not so much,simile but if you should see a man in a mad humor running to the water to drown himself, and then to let him alone this were a great judgment. Though when a man walks in the street in an ordinary way no man will med­dle with him but let him alone, but if you should see a man [Page 208] running into the fire, or running to cast himself into a Well or a Pond, no one then would let him alone: But now the Lord sees sinners running headlong into misery, in [...] the bot­tomless pit, and even then God saith, Let them alone.

Reas. 3 Again, They were in the midst of abundance of dangers and yet God saith, Let them alone. When a man is in safety among his friends and you let him alone it is not so much, but suppose you should know of one that were invironed round about with adversaries, or that them were wild beasts round about him ready to devour him, and this message were brought to you, Oh there is such a friend of ours in great danger and you should say, what if he be, let him alone, l [...] him shift as well as he can: So we are to know that all sin­ners that are going on in their evil waies they are in wo [...]ul danger, dangers on every hand, and the Lord sees and takes no [...]c [...] that they are in the midst of dangers, yet saith God, Let them alone, they shall not have my protection and help. And this is a just punishment of God upon wicked sinners that will go on in their wicked waies.

Reas. 4 Fourthly, When God saith, Let them alone, he intends this as the making of way unto some fearful wrath that is to follow after. Let my mercy and goodness let them alone but it is that they may fall into my wrath, and that will not let them a­lone, that will trouble them, howsoever they cannot endu [...] to be troubled by my Word, by m [...] Messengers, by my Spirit, but my Wrath shall trouble them afterward, that shall not let them alone; as in that place Ezek. 24.13. before quoted, Thou shalt not be pur [...] from thy filthiness any more till I have caused my fury [...]o rest upon thee; they shal not have any means to trouble them for a while, but at length my fury shall rest upon them. When the Lord shall seem to be quiet toward men and let them alone; it is but to make way for fearful wrath that is coming after.

Reas. 5 Fiftly, If God once inflict this judgment upon sinners to say, Let them alone, if God will not vouchsafe to speak unto them any more, he will not then vouchsafe to hear them speak unto him any more. If God once shall take away his Word [Page 209] from them. If once the Lord shall say, they would not hear me, they shall never hear me more, Let them alone, God will then likewise say, I will not hear them, let them cry in the anguish of their spirits I will let them alone; that is certain; When God shall let sinners alone in regard of his mercy then he will let them alone too when the greatest wrath shall be up­on them, As thus, when they shall come under the greatest affliction, the most dreadful miseries and torments in this world and eternally in the world to come, when they shall then be crying, and roaring, and yelling out in the anguish of their spirits unto God, Oh that God would now have mercy upon us! God will let them even then alone, I will bring them into the fire saith God, and then I will leave them there; Oh think of this when you feel that there was a time when God was stirring and striving with your hearts, but now it is not so as before, yet you are worse in your lives than be­fore.

And then further, It is a dreadful sign of reprobation Reas. 6 for God to say of a people or of a person thus, Let them alone.

For first, What is reprobation?Reproba­tion what Reprobation certainly is not for God to decree to damn men, you mistake in that, that is not the first act of God upon any man; but thus, reprobati­on is this, for God to decree whereas there are some that he hath set his heart upon, he is resolved to do them good, there are others, he doth not presently decree to damn them, but he doth decree to leave them unto themselves, that what they Earn they shall have and no more,Earnings. he will deal with them according to their works, he will do them no wrong, he will not be unjust to them,Justice. he will not damn them but for their sin. he never decrees to damn any but for sin; but he decrees this, he will leave them to a course of justice, I will give them what is sit for them to have in creation, I will make such a covenant with them, and then I will leave them unto them­selves, and what they work for they shall have; this is then another kind of reprobation, and worse than that first;Reproba­tion. that is reprobation for God to decree to leave a man to himself [Page 210] when he had no sin in him, as God did not make man with sin at first; suppose you were now made according to the I­mage of God without sin, yet if God should decree to leave you fully and eternally to your self, you were but a reprobate, but now when God sees a man in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity, now for God to leave him to himself, this is reprobation of the second Edition, this is a most dread­ful reprobation indeed,

2 Secondly, There is a reprobation in it in this regard, That God now doth manifest that he doth intend to fetch his glo­ry from this sinner out of his ruin, he manifesteth no o­ther now; for thus, Certainly God will have glory from e­very creature, howsoever you may resist God in his glory, God will have it, he will fetch it out from you; Well, but now on the first hand, God he would have his glory from his crea­ture in the waies of obedience and service, but they deny this to God, they will not give him this glory, they will have their own will, they will set up themselves in Gods Throne: Well saith God, I have used such and such means to draw their hearts from those waies to my self, but they stand out, Let them alone now, As if he should say thus, I have thought now of another way to fetch out my glory from them, as he reasoned in the Gospel, when he could not pro­vide for himself one way, I know what I will do saith he; so saith God, I am denied my glory one way, well I know what to do, I have another way, that is, to glorifie my infinite Ju­stice and the power of my infinite wrath; they have refused to give me glory by obedience and coming in to me, I will not have my glorie that way, but now I will rather chuse to have my glorie from them in their everlasting misery, they shall be spectacles of my wrath and justice, and it shall be known to Angels and men unto all eternity what my infinite justice and power is able to do, therefore let them alone to that saith God.

Reas. 7 And further, When God shall say of any, Let him alone, it is a greater judgment than if he should inflict all the outward judgments of this world upon them: Too many of you are a­fraid [Page 211] of sickness, of being spoild of your goods, that God should let the enemy in upon you and all should be taken from you, this were a great judgment, Oh but this judgment here in the Text is a greater judgment than if you were strip­ped of all the comforts in the world and brought into the mi­serablest condition that ever any creature was upon the earth in regard of outwards, you were not under such a dreadful judgment as thi [...], for God to say, Let them alone; better any judgments than spiritual judgments; As the spiritual blessings of God bestowed upon the Saints are the greatest blessings, Ephe. 1.2. Oh blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ that hath blessed us with al spiritual blessings in heavenly things; so the judgments of God that are spiritual judgments they are the most dreadful judgments of God in the world. Oh that we could have our hearts possest with a fear of those to fear spiritual judgments more than all the judgments in the world!

And yet more, This is not only worse than all outward Reas. 8 judgments here in this world, but it is worse for a man to be given over by God to himself, than to be given up to the De­vil. If God should give up any man to the Devil and say,Note Worse to be given up to ones self than to be gi­ven up to the Devil De­vil take him, possess him (as once he did possess many in Christs time) it were not such a fearful judgment as this, to say, let lusts take him and rule him, let him be given up to his own hearts lusts, let him alone to them. And that is appa­rant out of that place where the Apostle gives order for the incestious person to be given over unto Satan for the destructi­on of the flesh, that his soul might be saved: When one is given up to the Devil in Excommunication or any other way, it may prove to the salvation of his soul; but this judgment of God saying Let a man alone, it is for the destruction of his soul, not of the flesh, it tendeth directly to the destruction of the soul though it may be in the mean while the flesh may be saved. It is so with many, There are many that God letteth alone and that proveth the destruction of the soul, but perhaps the saving of the flesh; As thus, perhaps many that went on in wickedness, God was chastising them and afflicting them, well [Page 212] this tended to the destruction of the flesh though to the saving of their soul; yea but they would rather live in prosperity and ease and have their sin; well saith God, you shall do so, you shall have ease and prosperity and have your sin, that is, your flesh shall here be saved, but your soul shall eternally be destroyed. Therefore it is worse than to be given up unto the Devil.

Reas. 9 Yea further, For God to say, Let him alone, it is worse than to be sent down to Hell presently,or then to be pre­sently damned. for when one is left alone to himself he will encrease his sin most dreadfully all the time of hi [...] life, and as his sin doth encrease, so his torment doth encrease; therefore it is a most dreadful thing to be let alone.

Reas. 10 Yea further, When God saith, Let a man alone, you will say, God should pitie him then, alas what can a man do? No but his condition is thus, when he is let alone though he be without the grace of God, yet he must answer for as much as he might have done if he had had that grace which he hath justly deprived himself of;And must answer for all that the might have don, with the grace he might have had. there lies the evil of it further; When God leaves a man alone he must not think but he is to answer still for the motions of Gods Spirit though he hath them not, and for the means of grace though he enjoy them not, for he hath deprived himself of them; For look what means of grace we thorough sin have deprived our selves of, we must answer for them; and there is none of your reasons but may be convinced of it; I will give you a plain instance; Suppose you send your servant to market to buy a commodity you give him money whereby he may do it,simile but he goes into an Alehouse or Tavern and drinks it away, he cannot bring you that you sent him for, but you may justly require it, and punish him for not doing of it; he may say, what would you have me do that I cannot? I cannot bring it you without mo­ney; yea but the Master may say, I gave you monie, it is your fault you have bezelled it away: So God may justly require of these men all that they might have done by all the means of grace they should have had, God gave you that means you have bezelled it away by your sin [...].

Again further, When God shall say, Let him alone; his Reas. 11 condition is dreadful in this,Al means encrease his con­demnatiō that now all the means of grace are made unprofitable to him, yea cursed to him, and they are turned to the quite contrary end; For the word will work one way or other, either to be the savour of life unto life or of death unto death; and so the Sacrament, either to be the seal of Salvation or the Seal of damnation. Now all means are not only unprofitable, those means that do other souls good; It may be the poor child of a wicked parent comes unto the word, and there he finds God revealing himself unto him; and the Spirit of God drawing his heart unto himself; but there is his parent of whom God hath said, Let him alone, he sits under the means and gets no good: So perhaps the Ma­ster, he is one upon whom this judgment is past, Let him olone, he sits under the means and gets nothing, and his poor ser­vant he comes and his soul is enlightned, his heart is enlarged because this judgment is not upon him.

Oh my brethren, upon this (because the point is of so great consequence I could not passe by it lightly) you may learn from hence,

First, what poor creatures we are all. God need not say, Use. 1 Let my power, and wrath, & justice come upon them to make them miserable; if God do but say, Let them al [...]ne, we are mi­serable presently, we are lost and undone presently,simile As in nature, If God should say to any of you as soon as you are born, Let this creature alone and let none help him, what poor shiftless sucourless creatures had we been? So for our souls, take one that hath the most excellent gifts in all this Congregation, yea take one that hath the most excellent gra­ces, if God should but say, Let him alone, he would quickly bring himself to misery; It is through the strength of that grace in the Covenant that God will never say to those that are members of his Son, Let them alone for ever.

Secondly, Oh let us fear and tremble at this judgment. E­specially Use. 2 let them take this to heart that have felt the Spirit of God stirring in their hearts, and the Word coming to their consciences, yet they have gone on, directly against Gods [Page 214] Word and the motions of his Spirit; Oh that this day the fear of this great God may fall upon them, lest God should say, Let them alone! Perhaps God hath not said so yet, but who knows but that upon the next wilful sin thou committest, God may say concerning thee, Let him alone? and then thou art undon for ever; Oh fear and tremble.

Perhaps some of you may say, God hath surely said this of me already,Caution I should not be so unprofitable under the means else, I should not hear such powerful Sermons and get so lit­tle good, I should not have such and such corruptions pre­vail over me; I am afraid this is pronounced already against me.

I am loth when I speak of this dreadful judgment (which is indeed the most dreadful in all the Book of God) to let any poor soul go that hath need of comfort without receiving what is due to him.

To answer thee then:

1 First, It is a good sign that God hath not let thee alone when thou art troubled in the fear of thy heart lest God should have let thee alone. Commonly those men that God hath left alone they go on and are quiet and are never troubled about it, but please them­selves in their own hearts lusts.

2 Secondly, It is a good means to keep thee from being let alone. Those that are afraid lest God should leave them alone, and upon that can say in the uprightness of their hearts, Oh I tremble under this judgment, I had rather God should give me up to all the Cavaliers, to all the Devils in Hell than to my own hearts lusts, it is a signe that this judgement is not upon thee, and it is a means to keep it from thee. And,

3 Thirdly and lastly, If thou hast yet a heart not to let God alone, God hath not a heart to let th [...]e alone. So long as thy heart keeps up to God that thou wilt not let him alone, (you know it is the Scripture phrase, when Moses was so earnestly seeking God in prayer, let me alone saith God to Moses) though thou findest not God coming to thee as thou desirest, thou attendest upon God in the word, and in reading, and [...]ditation, and [Page 215] all the means thou knowest, and yet thou dost not find God come, and yet for all this thou art not weary of Gods service and art resolved thou wilt not let God alone but if thou perish thou wilt let it be thy last breath to be crying unto God and never let him alone, peace be unto thee, God hath not let thee alone so long as this frame of heart doth abide in thee. Those of whom God saith, let them alone, usually they begin to be more sluggish in prayer than before, to break off prayer in their families in their closets, and then perhaps to fall obje­cting against it, why,Note What is there for it to prove such things must be done and the like? and so by degrees they will come to have no heart unto any holy duty; but if thy heart be kept in quickness and activity and life to be seeking God and re­solving not to let him alone, surely God will not let thee alone.

Lastly, Ob bless God if thou findest that he hath not inflicted this Use. 3 judgment upon thee. Though perhaps thou hast many out­ward 1 judgments in the world, it may be some of you are spoi­led of all your goods and have great afflictions upon you, Oh let this be a means to quiet your hearts that though God hath taken from you many comforts in this world, yet blessed be his Name he hath not left me alone, yet I find his Spirit within me, I find his Grace within me, I find his Word working in my heart, there are many other men that have outward com­forts, they have fair houses, great possessions and lands, and brave cloathes, Oh but the Lord hath let them alone; though I have afflictions upon me yet blessed be God he hath not in­flicted this judgment upon me, he hath not let me alone.

And let us bless God in regard of the Kingdom. Surely the waies 2 of God toward this Land are such that we have hope that God hath not pronounced this judgement upon England. God might have said unto England, England hath been joyned to Idols, let him alone. One would have thought that some three years since and a little more that we were in a conditi­on fit to be let alone, but in this time the Lord hath been so stirring and working for England as it may appear evidently that God will not let us alone, and blessed be God that he [Page 216] will not let us alone, that he will scourg and afflict us sorely rather than not purge out our Idols. And that people, and that soul that had rather have God purge them soundly than let them go on in any sin, surely God doth not let that people and soul alone. It is true indeed, great chastisements are up­on us, but stil they al hitherto tend to our purging, not our ruin, it is because the Lord will not let us alone. It may be many think it would be better if it were with us now as as it was four years since, then we had no such noise and rumours of war, there was no such spoiling and killing as now; what is the English of this but thus much? Oh it was well with us when we were going on in superstitious and idolatrous waies, going to Rome as fast as we could, that God might have said then, Let England alone: If God should have said let them go to Rome, let Idolatry be set up there, this would have been a greater judgment than al the blood-shed in England at this day: but in that the Lord is yet striving with us, though we be strugling against him, let us bless his Name.

Verse 18.

Their drink is sowr: they have committed whoredom continu­ally: her Rulers with shame do love, Give ye.

Their drink is sowre.] I find some Interpreters carry this word thus,Exposit. 1 faedé cra­pulantur. Luther as if it noted their excess in drunkeness and luxu­ry, as if they powred down drink till it sowred in them, and then they vomited it up; So Luther translates the words, they do most filthily and vildly gormondize drink, and eat and pamper themselves. I remember Luther upon the place hath this note, saith he, Idolaters they love to pamper the flesh, they drink even to vomiting again, but for the true worshiping of God, that saith he, is cut more short in these outward things, and it is hun­gry and cold. We find that the false prophets were pampered at Jezebels table, when poor Micaiah was fain to be fed with bread and water of affliction. So Luther and divers other In­terpreters carry the word. But I think there is more in it.

The word that is here translated drink, it carrieth with it their festival meeting, Convivium recess [...]t, that is, [...] their feasts and their meetings, it is as wine that is sowr and hath lost the spirit and savor of it; For drink they understand their drin­kings, that is, the comforts that they have in this world, that these Idolaters do so much satisfie themselves in, as your su­perstitious Idolatrous people they alwaies seek to pamper their bellies and to be sure to have outward comforts: Now saith he, all this is sowr. And indeed all the comfort of this world when God is forsaken, it is but as sowr drink, the sweetness and quickness, and life of all is taken away when God and his worship is forsaken: So you may take their drink by a Se­nechdoch, for al the comforts of this world, even al those car­nal things they seek to satisfie their flesh withal, it is all sowr, for God is gone when his worship is gone. Perhaps if you had had superstition and Idolatry set up amongst you in Eng­land, Applic. you might have had your drink and your wine at your tables more pentifully, but if God and his Worship had been gone, all had been sowr no sweetness in any thing. I appeal to those that have proved Apostates though they have aposta­tized to enjoy comforts to the flesh, how sowr and unsavory have the comforts of the flesh been unto them? whereas let a people keep close to God and his worship and then their drink if it be but water it will be sweet unto them; As in Acts 2. the Saints that beleeved they did eat their bread with single­ness of heart and with gladness. We were wont to say, Brown bread and the Gospel is good cheer; let us have but bread and water so be it we may have the Gospel and the Ordinan­ces and the Worship of God, and it wil be sweet unto us; but let us have wine and all manner of drink at our tables, if we have not the Ordinances and Worship of God, it will be all sowr to us. The ten Tribes had as good drink as Judah had, yet all the drink of the ten Tribes was sowr.

Thirdly, Their drink is sowr.] it notes thus much, Their 3 society is unsavory and sowr, for so their C [...]vivium their meetings tog [...]ther for feasting and drinking noteth many times communion and converse and familiarity, as the drin­kings [Page 218] of people together you know it is a means to keep their converse and maintain familiarity one with another. So the meaning is, that their converse one with another when they met together at one anothers tables and were drinking toge­ther, what savor, what rellish can any gracious heart take in it? You may observe it of all your superstitious people that have heretofore lived amongst you, how unsavory have they been in their converse? Perhaps heretofore they have been forward in the waies of Religion and then converse with them and there hath been some life and quickness in them, but when they have yeilded once unto superstitious vanitie, all their converse is become unsavory. It would have been so with you if these times had not come, perhaps you might have met together and have had brave cheer and drinkings of all sorts and have had many merry meetings, but the truth is all your merry meetings would have been sowr and sapless, there would have been no sweetness in your converse, and those of your brethren that had been gone from you into the howling wilderness would have found more savour in their water there than you could have had in all the drinks you could have devised to your selves.

4 Fourthly, Their drink is sowr] That is, even all their wor­ship and their sacrifices, for so their drink is taken by others, for all their drink offerings, they were wont to have feasts in their sacrif [...]ces, saith God, all their offerings be sowr, the sa­vour, and sap, and life of them is taken away. These are the four hints by which we may come to understand what the scope of the holy Ghost is in these words, Their drink is sowr. It follows.

They have committed whoredom continually.

Expos. 1 They are unwearied in their wickedness, continually they go on in their way of whoredom, of their bodily whoredom but especially of their spiritual whoredom, that is, when they are worshiping of their Idols they are never weary, continually they commit whoredom. Oh what a shame it is for those that [Page 219] are godly that they should be weary of the service of God when Idolaters are not weary of the service of their Idols? What rebuke is this to you that if you come to a Sermon you are weary (perhaps some of you) if the glass be but out a lit­tle; but if you were in company in a Tavern to sit up al night you are not weary at all? They commit whoredom continually, they are at the service of their Idols and satisfying of their lusts never weary there, but they are soon weary of my service.

But I take it there is somewhat further meant, [...] Fornicantur in furnicando, they commit fornication in committing forni­cation, that is the propriety of the word in the Hebrew, that which they do they do it intensively, in doing they do it. As the Apostle saith of Elijahs prayer, Jam. 5. In praying he prayed, that is, he did pray intensively, he prayed strongly, he praied powerfully with his whol strength put out in prayer; So the words are here, in committing fornication they committed fornication, that is, they give up their strength to their Idols, they are mightily intent upon their Idols. And therefore have nothing to do with them (still the argument goes on) Have nothing to do with them for fear that fearful judgment 1 be upon you before spoken of: Have nothing to do with 2 them because their society and converse is unsavory: Have 3 nothing to do with them because they give up themselves to their lusts. Use How should we give up ourselves to the service of God, to pray in praying, to hear in hearing &c. seeing I­dolaters in committing Idolatry do commit Idolatry.

Their Rulers with shame do love, Give ye.

The word that is translated Rulers, it is [...] her shields, that is, their protectors, so the word in the Hebrew s [...]gnifies. And there is a very special note to be learned from hence, it is this, That Magistrates and Rulers they should be the shields of the people where they live, for their defence; Obser. And so in Scripture phrase they are called, Psalm, 47.9. The Princes of the people are gathered together, the shields of the earth belong unto God; That is, the Governors and Rulers of the earth (so I find Interpreters [Page 220] carry it) they belong unto God:Psa. 47.9. Opened they are in Gods stead, and they govern in Gods Name. Rulers, Governors are to be the shields of the people, for they are to bear off al dangers; Al dangers that may come upon the people they are to be willing to put themselves forward to bear them off.Applic. The Par­liament. Have not our Worthies in Parliament shewen themselves to be shields in this thing? Have not they put themselves next us and our dangers, next us and our harms? And do you not think if the Adver­sarie prevail they wil first swallow up them, I mean those of them that are faithful? Whereas those that were before in Parliament when they looked upon it as an honor to be Par­liament men and there was no danger, Oh they were brave Parliament men then, and they made brave speeches, but when they saw things come to be hot and that there were darts shot against the people, and that they must be the shields to keep off the hurt of those darts from the people, away they go; they love to be brave golden shields, enameled shields fit for no service, but when it came to service away they go. We are therefore to honor these that still stay, and though they are not perhaps so brave and gilded as those, yet they are proved to be shields of good mettal that will not break, but will keep off the darts that are shot against the people. And indeed Rulers and Governors should be men of good mettal, willing to bear off much hardship from the people; And they should not think to be honored only but they should take their honor as a burden also. Use. We are not therefore to think upon our Rulers as too much honored, Oh consider of their danger together with their honor. So for the Gover­nors in Armies, it is true they have pay more than others, but if they be faithful they hazard their lives more than others, and they are the shields of the people. It is an evil thing when a Common-wealth have none but wicked Magistrates, they have then nothing but as if they had shields to defend them that are made of rotten wood.

They say with shame, give ye.

Expos. 1 They love this, so it is in your books: And I find that it is turned by some, they love to bring shame, they love not to say, [Page 221] bring ye, but they love to b [...]ing shame; [...] and if you should tran­slate it thus it is, the words in the Hebrew only altering the points of them, and so they may be read, they love to bring shame, that is, they being of vile spirits themselves they do not care what becomes of the people, they care not for putting the people upon any shameful waies, what care they so they may have their ends, let them perish as dogs and let them do that which shall be a perpetual reproach to them to all poste­rity, so they may have their lusts satisfied.

Secondly, Others translate them thus; with shame they call, Expos. 2 bring ye, that is, with shame they call for pleasure to the flesh,Arias Montan. so Ari [...]s Montanus, Let us have our pleasure, our tables fur­nished, let us have our honors and what care we what becomes of the people, let us have our minds, do you our service what we would have done, and what becomes of them it is no mat­ter. Such kind of Rulers and Governors had the ten Tribes when they were such Idolaters; And it is just with God when people forsake the true worship of God that he should send them such Governors as these are.

But I rather take the scope of the Spirit of God to be accor­ding Expos. 3 as we reade them, to rebuke them fo [...] [...]heir bribery, They love with shame to say, Give ye. They will not only take liberty privatly but they are grown so impudent that they wil sel all the good of a Kingdom, the liberty of the Subject all for their own gain. They say with shame, gi [...]e ye. It is a great judgment of God upon a people when Magistrates and Governors are given to bribery, to regard gift and the encrease of their e­states more than the publick good. Pro. 17.23 A wicked man takes a gift out of the bosom to pervert the waies of judgme [...]t. It is a sign of a wicked man to take a gift though it be but secretly, out of the bosom, but if he take it openly it is a sign of more impudence. A wicked man takes a gift out of [...]he bosom, he is loth to be seen at first, and he doth it to pervert judgment; these men that should be as shields to the people, for b [...]se ends they will betray them. What, to subject such a glorious thing as Justice to base end; Justice which is the glory [Page 222] of God, the glory of a Kingdom, and the glory of a man, which he should be cloathed with as a robe, as a diadem, to subject it to base ends, for gain, to say, Give ye, this is abo­minable.Justice stricken dumb with the apearance of angels. For a Justice of peace to be strucken dumb with the appea­rance of Angels, Oh it is an evil thing: For Jus [...]ices to be bound to the peace by a gift in a basket, this is a most abominable thing. Exod. 33.8. A gift blindeth the eyes of the wise and perverteth the words of the righteous. Though men are of excellent parts, men of understanding, that can speak exceeding well, yea though they seemd heretofore very honest men and just in their waies, yet when they come to high places a gift will blind their eyes, or as some turn it, pluck out their eyes, irradiate their eyes that they cannot see.Gregor. Naz. in distichis. Au [...]o loquente, iners omnis oratio, saith an Ancient, Let gold be speaking in the language of gold, and other speeches are to little purpose. Therefore Magistrates of all men should be without covetousness, fearing the Lord. When God would have Magistrates chose, this is one character of them, That they should be men fearing God, and hating covetous­ness. In 2 Chron. 19.6, 7. Take heed what you do, for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord; wherefore let the fear of the Lord be up­on you, take heed and do it, for there is no iniquity with the Lord, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts. Justice must run down as a river, it must not be pal'd in as a pond for private advan­tages. Magistrates they must shake their hands from bribery, and despise the gain of oppressors Isa. 33.15.simile As we reade of Paul that when a Viper came upon his hand he shook his hand and the Viper fell into the fire: So should Magistrates do, when any one brings them gifts to pervert Justice, they should look upon it as as a Viper and shake their hands of it and let it even fall into the fire, and say as Peter to Simon Ma­gus, Thy money perish with thee: They should look upon such as bring them gifts with indignation, and even say, thy mo­ney perish with thee in this wicked enterprise.Cecero E­pist. ad Quint. frat Even Cicero an Heathen in his Epistle to Quintus his Brother, a Magistrate in Asia, he hath this expression, That he should not only shew himself an enemy unto them that received gifts, but to them that gave them, he should account them his enemies. And Isa. 5.23. [Page 223] Woe to him that justifies the wicked for reward, and takes a­way the righteousness of the righteous from him. Many righte­ous men come before you, some of you, and their cause is true and good, but you will be speaking bitterly against them to give content to others from whom you expect a reward. Deut. 27.25. There shall be a curse pronounced against such as take gifts, and all the people shall say Amen. If any Ma­gistrate s [...]ould love to take gifts in this kind, the curse of the people is upon him, and God requires that all the people should say Amen. Law of the 12. Tables And I have read of the Romans that if it could be proved against any Magistrate that he had taken bribes, he was to be punished with death, without any deliverance. And Psalm, 15. in answer to that question, Who shall dwell with God in his tabernacle? it is said, he that taketh not a reward a­gainst the innocent. If you would ever dwell with God either here in his Church or in Heaven hereafter, you must not take bribes against the innocent. I have read of that Saint which you call St. Edmond, in his life, That he was wont to have this speech, There is little difference between these two words, to Take, and to Hang, the words are even the same in the Latin,Prendere & pendère signifying thereby, that those that would take gifts shewed what their desert is. Prov. 15.27. He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live. It is not enough for a Magistrate not to take gifts, but he must hate gifts, for the other troubleth his own house, though perhaps you may think to provide for your house by gifts.

Verse 19.

The wind hath bound her up in her wings, and they shall be a­shamed because of their sacrifices.

The word that is here translated Wind, [...] it signifieth also a Spirit,Hierom. and so I find Hierom takes the meaning of the words to be, that the evil spirit hurries them up and down and carries Expos. 1 them on violently in their wicked waies. As in Deut. 32.11. God is said to carry his people upon his wings; so the Devil here carrieth Idolaters who are set upon their wicked waies, [Page 224] as it were upon his wings, in a violent hurrying man­ner.

But rather we are to take the expression Metaphorically to signifie the power, the suddenness, the violence, the swiftness of Gods judgments, carrying them into captivity and into misery. The wind hath bound the people of Israel, the ten Tribes up in her wings, that is, the judgments of the Lord shall come upon them with power, suddenly, swiftly, vio [...]ently and take them away from their own Countrey and carry them in­to captivity and misery. The power and violence of the judgments of God are set out in Scripture by the wind, by storms and tempests often times. There is a mighty power of the wind, 1 King. 19.11. A strong wind that rent the mountains and t [...]re in pieces the rocks. Job. 38.9. That overturneth the moun­tains by the roots. The winds are the voice of the Lord, that breaks the Cedars, even the Cedars of Lebanon, and shakes the wilderness Psal. 29. Sabelicus Sabelicus. telleth us that Camtyses his souldiers being in a wilderness, in a sandy place, suddenly a violent wind came and drove the sand with such force as that thousands of them were buried in it. There is a great deal of strength and power in winds. And here by the way we may have hinted unto us a very profitable meditation. Oh how great is the glory and the power of the infinite God then!Obser. For the wind what is it but a vapor? and what more weak than a vapor? We use to say, what is weaker than wa­ter? but many drops together will make the waters terrible, and the Seas are call'd the mighty waters; But vapour is wea­ker than the water, and yet the winds are nothing but a com­pany of vapors joyned together, and many being joyned toge­ther what a mighty power have they to re [...]d the rocks and turn up the mountains by the roots? Oh then what is the po­wer of the Mighty God? for in him there is nothing but infi­nite, and nothing can be added unto him. If a weak vapour being multiplied have such strength, what power then is there in God that hath nothing in him but infinite, so as nothing can be added to him.

The wind is of great power and so is the judgments of God. [Page 325] The observation from it shall be this,Obser. ‘That the judgments of God toward wicked men who have been spared a long time, when they come they come swiftly, and violently, and suddenly, carries them as it were in a Hurry-cane.

And they shall be ashamed of their sacrifices.

So long as they prospered in the way of false worship they were not ashamed, but they gloried in their way, and the ten Tribes, Israel, rather despised Judah, and sought to cast shame upon Judah who worshiped God in a right way, as appeareth plainly Amos, 7.12. Go to Judah (saith Amaziah there to A­mos in a scorning way,) go your waies thither, and prophesie there. They scorned and contemned Judah and gloried in their own way of false worship.Obser. ‘Such as are superstitious and Idolatrous they use to look upon Gods Ordinances as vile and contemtible, and their own inventions as the most glorious things; But God hath a time to honor his Ordi­nances and to cast shame upon their sacrifices.’ That is the Note. The true worship of God is many times in such a low esteem amongst men as that they that go th [...] way are excee­dingly vilified, and many are kept off from the waies of God because they cannot bear the shame of it, there is so much shame cast upon it, none but a company of mean, poor, un­wise people that take such a course: But God hath a time to honor his Ordinances, to set up the beauty of them before all the world, and to cast shame and dirt upon all waies of superstition and idolatry, They shall be ashamed of their sacrifices; a time to make even those that did glory most in them to be a­shamed of them. Isa. 2.20, 21. They shall cast their Idols of silver and of gold, which they have made each for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats, to go into the clefts of the rocks, and into the tops of the ragged rocks. And Isa. 30.22. They shall defile the covering of their graven Images of silver, and the ornaments of their Images of gold, they shall cast them away as a menstruous cloath, and they shall say unto it, Get thee hence. They thought they were curi­ous ornaments, but the time shall come when God shall make [Page 326] Idolaters see them to be filthy clothes, and cause them to cast them away with indignation and say, Get ye hence. That place in Esa. 66, 5.Isa. 66.5. opened is notable to this purpose. You that trem­ble at my word (saith God) your brethren that cast you out said, let God be glorified; but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed There are a company of you that tremble at my Word, and dare not do any thing in my Worship but what my Word requires; others have more loose consciences and they can venture upon things that they have no warrant for in my Word, but you tremble at my Word, and you are scorned for nice scrupulous consciences, and your brethen cast you out because you will not be of the same judgment as they are, because your hearts, your consciences are more tender they cast you out from them, they would willingly be rid of you and think it would be better with the land when you are gone, and they say, Let the Lord be glorified, they have pre­tences that they desire nothing but the peace of the Church and the glory of God; they say, even your brethren that cast you out, they say, Let the Lord be glorified, but God shall ap­pear for your glory, and for their shame, the Lord will honor you in that way of his Worship that you take up which is ac­cording to his Word, though you suffer for the present much ignominie and contempt for it, and though they may ruff it out for a while and seem to carry al before them having that which is countenanced more publickly, but the Lord will ap­pear at length to their shame, the Lord will make them asha­med of their sacrifices.

Causes of shame.There are four things that principally cause shame.

1 First, Disrespect from those we desire honor from, that is shame: When one comes to any, to a superior, and expects respect from him, and finds that he is cast out, this is a great shame. So they shall be ashamed of their sacrifices, they make account that I should honor their sacrifices, that they should have ho­nor from me by reason of their sacrifices, but I will cast shame upon them, they shall have nothing but arguments of disre­spect from me. In 1 King. 2.16. when Bathsheba came to Solo­mon to ask a Petition of him, deny me not saith she; the old [Page 327] Latine hath it, Ne confundas faciem meam: do not confound my face, do not make me ashamed, & the Hebrew is, Ne avertere faciem meam, do not cause my face to be turned, that is, do not make me ashamed by giving me such disrespect when I expect such honor from thee. When God doth cast off the sacrifices of men and shews disrespect unto them, that cau­seth shame, it doth confound or should confound their faces.

Secondly, When a man takes a great deal of pains and it comes 2 all to nothing, that causeth shame; and so all superstitious waies will bring shame at last. In Colos. 2. it is said of all su­perstitious ceremonies that they perish in the use of them, there comes no good of them. Idolaters take a great deal of paint in their waies of false worship, but all will come to no­thing; when they shall stand in most need all their waies of superstition and Idolatry will leave them shiftless and suc­courless, and helpless, and so cast shame upon them.

Thirdly, Disappointment of hope brings shame. Psal. 119.116. 3 Let me not be ashamed of my hope saith David, If I hope for good and be disappointed, this will bring shame. Divers Scrip­tures we have to shew this. So when those that are supersti­tious and Idolatrous shall raise up their hearts with great ex­pectation of good from God in their waies of false worship and shall be disappointed of all their hope, in this God will cast shame upon them.

Fourthly, When God discovers that to be worthless and vile 4 which a man hath gloried most in; that causeth shame. So Ido­laters that glorie in their Idolatrous waies, the Lord in time will discover them to be base and vile and worthless things, for indeed they are all but poor apish and beggarlie things, and they ate fitter to please children than God. God will dis­cover this.

If it be objected, Object. Oh but they seem not to be such poor and weak things, they seem to be more glorious and pompous a great deal than the waies of the true worshipers of God; The true worship of God in it self seems to be a poor and mean thing?

The answer is, Answ. That the institution putteth a glory upon the [Page 328] waies of worship; now they not having an institution upon them they are looked upon as apish and foolish and beggarlie things. And then a word of promise and an engagement of Gods presence in his Ordinances puts an honor upon them which the waies of superstition have not.

Use. Admoni­tions to the defi­led with superstiti­ous wor­ship to take shame to them­selves.It is good for those who have been guilty in this kind of superstitious waies of worship, even to prevent God by ca­sting shame upon themselves; for if they do not, God will cast shame upon them, he will make them to be ashamed. That is our best way, to come in and to prevent God and to lie down in our shame, to take shame unto our own souls & to lie down therein. God knows how we have defiled our selves, even all of us, in waies of superstitious worship; and the truth is, God is casting shame upon all those waies at this day, and doth cast shame upon them. Happie are those that be­fore these times did take shame to their own souls for all their defilements in the waies of false worship. Howsoever, before God doth yet further force it upon us it will be our wisdom to take shame to ourselves. Ezek. 43.11. that text is a famous text for this purpose, first in the tenth verse, Shew them the bouse that they may be ashamed, shew them the true way of my worship that they may be ashamed. The truth is, if we did but understand the beauty, the excellency, the true beauty of holiness in the waies of Gods Ordinances, in the purity and simplicitie of the Gospel, that were enough to make us asha­med if there were nothing else, we would even be very vile in our own eyes to think that while our hearts have been taken up about such vain and vile waies of false worship, that such glorious Ordinances of God, that beauty of holiness that is in his Ordinances hath been neglected by us; shew them the way of my house that they may be ashamed; But further, in the 11. vers. If they be ashamed of all that they have done, shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the Ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, (again) and all the Laws thereof, and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whol form there [...]f, and all the Ordinances thereof and do them. First shew them my [Page 329] house,Ezek. 33.10, 11. opened Let them have some kind of knowledg of my waies and Ordinances in the general, perhaps that will make them asha­med: And at this day we know though there be but a little light let out unto us, to shew us a little more of the waies of Gods worship than we saw before, we do begin to be ashamed of what we have done:Note But now if indeed we be throughly ashamed before God of all our false waies of worship, of all our sacrifices, then mark what a promise here is, then saith the text, if they be ashamed of what they have done, then shew them the forms of the house, and the fashion of the house &c. Note Thus here is one word heaped upon another to shew, that this is the mercy of God to people when they understand not only the way of Gods worship in the lump, but they understand the form, and the fashion, and the Ordinances, and the Laws, the circumstances and all the several waies, the exactness of the worship of God.Note For we must not look upon any thing in the worship of God as worthy to be neglected, but we must have respect to all the forms, and fashions, and Ordinances of Gods house, God standeth much upon his worship in every punctilio; and it is a great mercy of God to reveal to us every point of his worship. It is true, man stands much upon form, and God standeth much upon form; Many deny the power of godliness, but keep the form of it, they are much set upon their forms, and God is much set upon his forms. If you be set up­on forme for worship, look upon Gods worship he is much set upon forms in his wo [...]ship. And mark, then when we are ashamed of what we have done, then we shall understand the Laws of the house; but first we must be ashamed and through­ly humbled for our former superstitious sacrifices, and then we shall come to understand the right way of Gods worship in his own Temple, we must not expect it before. Many people they cry out we are at a loss, we know not what to do, we have rejected indeed false worship and in some measure we see that that is vile, but we know not what way to set up in Gods house, what are the forms and fashions thereof; and the hearts of people tremble to think what may come to be de­termined, fearing lest things will not be found out, fearing [Page 330] dissentions and disagreement. Would you but know how you should come to understand the right way of Gods house in the worship and government of it? Be ashamed of your sa­crifices, be ashamed of what you have done.

And above all men those that are betrusted to find out the Laws,Ministers and forms, & fashions, and Ordinances of Gods house, above all men they are to be ashamed of what they have done, to be ashamed first of their sacrifices. And that should be your prayer, that God would humble them for all their former su­perstitious sacrifices that so they may come to have revealed to them the form and fashion of Gods house, and being revealed to them they may reveal it to you. There is a necessity that those men that have been guilty of superstitious waies of wor­ship, that they should be ashamed first of that before they can come to understand the right way of the house of God; Let them be men of never such excellent parts and abilities,Note. yet except they be first ashamed for what they have done and tho­roughly humbled, they cannot expect to understand the waies of Gods house in the forms and fashions and ordinances of it. In Ezek. 44.10, 11, 12, 13. there God threatneth those Priests that did depart from him when Israel dedarted, that did de­part from him to false worship, that they should beare their iniquity, that they should never come neare to him; seeing they departed in the general departure and did not keep close to the true worship of God, they must bear their iniquity, they must not come near unto God; only God would be content they should be imployed in some meaner out-services:Applic. And therefore it may be that God will not use some men of choice parts in any great work of his, to do him any great service, that's the meaning of the text, that those that did depart from God when there was a general departure of the Nation, when Israel did depart they would comply with them to save their skin, and they would conform to those superstitious waies, then did the Lord swear, lift up his hand against them, that though they shall be imploied in some meaner services, yet they shal not come near him. And (I say) it ma [...] be feared that the Lord may do so against some of us. How ever except [Page 331] there be extraordinary repentance & taking shame unto them­selves; though they may be men of excellent parts, the Lord may remember what they have done when Israel departed from God, what their compliances were; And though the Lord may make still use of them in some ordinary work, yet he may lift up his hand against them, that they shal never be imployed never blest in any choice work he hath to do: God may justly leave them to such waies as that they shall cast themselves in a great measure out of the hearts of the Saints ‘because he doth not delight to use them in any special ser­vice and so their shame shal stick upon them while they live; and the more honor they seek the more shame will God cer­tainly cast upon them.’ Jer. 3.25. saith the Church there, We lie down in our shame: Oh there is cause that such men should lie down in their shame, those that are of discerning spirits, and observe the waies of men and the waies of God, they can­not but see that those men should lie down in their shame, for so long as yeilding to superstitious vanities and submission to false power was useful to them to save their estates, their li­berties and livings, they would yeild and they would sub­mit, and then their judgments alter when times alter, when other waies come to be countenanced publickly then they are of other judgments than they were before: so long as they could not make use of another way they were not of that judgment; now when they can make use of it, and there is more countenancing of it, how soon is their judgment altered? yea and so altered as presently to grow even bitter against their brethren of another judgment.Note Surely a great deal more cause there is that they and we, all of us, should take shame to our selves, lie down in our shame a while and so carry things in all humility in all meekness, in suspition of our selves and of our own judgments in love to our brethren, remembring that we our selves were of another judgement and opinion not long since; And therefore our hearts (I say) should be very low and gentle and very tender and meek even toward all with whom we have to do.

And further, God hath a time to make al carnal men asha­med Obs. 2 [Page 332] of their sacrifices. We will a little raise up our medita­tions somewhat higher, from this, They shall be ashamed of their sacrifices. All sacrifices, not only supersti [...]ous and idolatrous but all other sacrifices that come short of the rule will at length cause shame. ‘As carnal men that tender up many services unto God, and that lay such weight upon their ser­vices, as to lay their claim to Heaven and interest in God up­on their sacrifices, God hath a time to make them ashamed of all these sacrifices.’ Al now, when God shal discover the vanity of their prayers, if God should but shew to us al and to the whol company here, each others hearts in time of prayer, when we have been offering up that sacrifice unto God, and we have seemed to be very devout in our prayers, yet Oh the vanity of our hearts, Oh the vile thoughts, unclean, wicked, ungodly, foolish thoughts that have run up and down tho­rough our hearts in the time of our prayers! If God should write our prayers before us and interline our prayers with all our vain thoughts, and then bid us reade our prayers, and bid others reade our prayers interlined with such vain thoughts, would we not be ashamed of our sacrifices? the best sacrifice that ever we tenderd up to God in al our life we would be ashamed of it. God hath a time (except al be par­doned in Christ and covered in him) to make men that lay such weight upon their prayers, to shew them such an ugly form and fashion of them, as to make them ashamed of them.

Obs. 3 Again, In al our duties performed with a carnal heart there are many mixtures of our own base ends. We seem to draw near unto God, and we would honor and worship God, Oh but the hypocrisie of our hearts! what vile and base ends are there, to give content to this and the other, to set forth our parts and abilities in services; these things have been plain before God, and except we be ashamed of them now and re­pent and get them pardoned in Christ, God will set all our base ends before Angels and men together with our sacrifices, and shall we not then be ashamed of our sacrifices?

Obs. 4 Again, How foul and vile have our hearts been in our ser­vices, and how have our sacrifices been defiled with them! Not [Page 333] only by actual sin mixed with them, by base thoughts and ends, but our services have come from unclean hearts, we have had very filthy and unclean hearts, our hearts have been as sties and sinks of evil, and it is impossible that out of such unclean hearts there can come any thing that is clean; our sacrifices have been extreamly defiled by our filthy base and worldly hearts. And then when God shall shew the infinite holiness of his Majesty and how infinite just and righteous he is, and how infinitely worthy of other manner of sacrifices than ever we have tendered up unto him, Oh then how shall we be ashamed!

How will our hearts be overwhelmed with confusion and shame, Use. when apprehending the infiniteness of the glory of the great God, when we shall see how infinitely unworthy all those duties were that we have tendered up unto him of that infinite excellency and Majestie of his, Oh that will make us ashamed. Men think highly of their sacrifices that they ten­der up unto God because of their parts they shew in them, but they do not know with what a God it is they have to do: when the Lord shall shew unto us the lustre of his glory and the greatness of his Majestie (as it will appear unto us one day when the glorious appearing of the great God will be) then we shall see how unworthy all our services were of such a God as he is, and that will make us ashamed if we have not been ashamed heretofore; nothing will be more grievous and more confound the hearts of men than to be put to shame for their sacrifices; Oh the miserable perplexity that their hearts will then be put unto!

You will say then, Quest. What are those sacrifices we should tender up unto God that we shall never be ashamed of? God will mak super­stitious people ashamed of their sacrifices, and all carnal peo­ple shall one day be ashamed of their sacrifices, this will be a dreadful thing one day when it comes; Oh then what are those sacrifices the Saints of God shall never be ashamed of?

First, If you would offer such sacrifices unto God as you Answ, 1 would never be ashamed of, Be sure they be his own, worship [Page 334] God in his own way; It is not what you think wil please God what you think is brave and excellent, but look to the word, be sure it is his own.

Answ, 2 Secondly, Let your hearts be acted by Divine Principles, let it come from faith, and whatsoever comes from you to be tendered up unto God, look to your principles; rest not in the action that is done but consider from what principles those services come you tender up unto God.

Answ, 3 Thirdly, Let your ends be high in all your services, Oh take heed of base and low ends in all your sacrifices. It is too too much that men should have base and low ends in their outward affairs, they should have their hearts high upon the glory of the great God in their natural, in their civil actions, but when they come to their sacrifices and holy duties, then sursum Corda, then lift up your hearts indeed, be sure then your ends be high and holy.

Answ, 4 Fourthly, Let your whol strength be taken up in those sa­crifices so as to sanctifie the Name of God, Let the whol soul be carried unto God, for God is worthy of the whol, if you had ten thousand times more strength than you have God is worthy that it should be put forth in the services you tender unto him.

Answ, 5 Fiftly, Offer up your selves as a sacrifice unto God do not content your selves to offer up a prayer unto God as a sacri­fice, or alms or such duties only, but be sure together with these sacrifices to offer up your selves as a living sacrifice to God, as the Apostle speaks Rom. 12.1. I beseech you by the mer­cies of God that you offer up your bodies a living sacrifice unto God. God cares for none of your sacrifices except you offer your selves to be a sacrifice unto him. That is a very observable place in 1 King. 8. the latter end of it, there you shall find that Solomon offered two and twenty thousand Oxen and one hun­dred and twenty thousand Sheep, here was a great sacrifice to be offered at one time unto God, but mark, (though this sa­crifice was great) what God saies unto him in the 9. chapter presently so soon as the sacrifice was done, verse 4. If thou wilt walk before me as David thy father did to do according unto all [Page 335] that I command thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments &c. God puts it to an If for all this, for all these sacrifices If thou thy self in the constant obedience of thy life wilt be a constant sacrifice, then will I do thus and thus, but verse 6. If thou at all turn from following me, if notwithstanding all these sacrifices thou at all turn from following of me, I will do thus and thus. Many of us think when we have been in a day of fasting and spent a whol day in it, and our hearts have been let out and we have been enlarged and have offered up a great sacrifice to God, that we may take the more liberty afterward; No, though you offer twenty two thousand Oxen and an hudred and twenty thousand sheep yet if after this at all thou shalt forsake me, all that thou hast done shall be rejected. There­fore those sacrifices that are not joyned with offering up of our selves as a sacrifice, are such as God will make us ashamed of; But if together with our sacrifices we offer up our selves as a sacrifice, you shall never be ashamed of that sacrifice. Therefore you that are poor people and weak parted, and have but little grace, yet if you have true grace, though you cannot offer up such large prayers, your heart is not so en­larged perhaps as others are, and you look upon your sacri­fices as poor and mean and as unworthy to be tendered up un­to the great God, but dost thou then offer up thy self unto God as a sacrifice? It is true my parts are weak and my abili­ties are poor and mean, but Oh Lord what I am and what I can do I tender it unto thee, here Lord, take soul, body, life, estate, liberty and all I do enjoy, I tender it up all unto thee as a sacrifice; I say then peace be unto thee, those sacrifices thou lookest upon as being ashamed of them, God will not make thee ashamed of them, but he accepts of thy poor, mean, and weak services when together with them thou offerest up thy self as a sacrifice unto him; whereas if thou didst not ten­der up thy self as a sacrifice, though thy services were ten thousand times more glorious than they are, they would be all cast back as dung in thy face.

Sixtly, Be humbled after all your best sacrifices, take no Answ, 6 glory unto your selves, but be vile in your own eyes after you [Page 336] have done the best duty that ever you have done in your life; when you perform any duty that seems to have any excellency in it, and perhaps others look upon it as having much excel­lency in it, if your hearts be puffed up with it, the glory of it is gone, and it is that which you must be ashamed of though Answ, 7 now you be honored for it, and pride your selves in it.

Lastly, Tender up all in Christ, in the worthiness of his infinite sacrifice. Christ is that sacrifice that is pleasing unto God, and all sacrifices are pleasing unto God only thorough the merit and worthiness of the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, who hath tendered up himself unto God the Father as a Sacrifice to heal all our sacrifices and to take away all the shame of our sacrifices. 1 Pet. 2.5. Ye also as lively stones are built up a spiritual house, an holy Priesthood to offer up spiritual sa­crifices, how? by Jesus Christ. Mark, you are as lively stones, and lively stones built up, not only stones lying here one and there another, but lively stones built up in a holy communion, that is the meaning, built up to offer sacrifices, and that spi­ritual sacrifices: But mark, though our sacrifices be never so spiritual, yet they cannot be acceptable to God but by Jesus Christ, by Jesus Christ that great Sacrifice they come to be acceptable unto God, that is the sacrifice the Saints shall glo­ry in and bless God for to all eternity, and never shall be asha­med of their sacrifices when they are tendered up unto God thorough the merit of that sacrifice. And thus through Gods good hand of providence we are come to the end of this fourth Chapter.

CHAP. V.

Vers. 1.

Hear ye this, O Priests; and hearken ye house of Israel, and give ear Oh house of the King, for judgment is towards you, be­cause ye have been a snare in Mispah, and a net spread upon Tabor.

IN this Chapter we have the summoning of all sorts unto judgment.The sum of the Chapter A heavy charge laid and condemnation pronounced against Israel, and Judah too brought in as guilty and sentence past upon her also; And at last the good effect that the judgments of God should produce is shewed. That is the summe of the Chapter.

This Chapter is the beginning of another Sermon of Hosea. Coherence It seems to be preached (as some think) in the reign of Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel, that you reade of in 2 King. 15.The time and especially toward the end of his reign, which was the same time that Ahaz reigned in Judah, when that horrible confusion was brought into Religion, much defilement in the Worship of God, he having placed the Altar that he brought the fashion of from Damascus in the house of God; therfore the Lord enveigheth by his Prophet not only against Israel, but against Judah here.

The summons to judgment you have in the first verse. The accusation and condemnation of Israel by themselves,Analysis to the end of the 5. verse. The accusation of Judah, at the end of [Page 338] the 5th and 6th verses. Then Israel and Judah together, to the 15th verse. And at last the close of the Chapter shews the issue of all, what all shall come to.

SumōnsIn the summons observe these three several words.

Hear ye. Hearken. Give eare.
  • Hear ye Priests.
  • Hearken ye house of Israel.
  • Give ear O house of the King.

Obser.When God cometh in waies of judgment he expects we should seriously mind what he is a doing. We should not on­ly Hear, but Hearken, and Give ear: God will force audience 1 then. We are bound to hearken and to give ear to Gods com­manding 2 Word; But if we refuse it, he will have us to hear 3 and give ear to his threatning Word; and if that be refused, he will force us to hear and give ear to his condemning Word; for so it is here, Hear ye, Hearken, Give ear, for judgment is against you all.

There are Three sorts named here.

  • Priests.
  • People.
  • House of the King.

All sorts are cited to judgment, for corruption was gone over all, and judgment cometh against them all. From thence the Note is, That Obser.Generality in sins is no means to escape judgments.’

It is true, Generality of offences with men may be a means to escape punishment; One and all with men is a word of se­curity. When Souldiers offend if there be multitudes of them in the same offence and they cry, One and al, there is no med­ling then with any of them. But it is not so with God, God regards not multitudes and generality of all sorts, when all sorts are involved in the offence. Men think, I do but as others do, and I shall scape as well as others: With men it is som­what, but it is nothing with God; though all sorts offend yet there is never a whit the more security thereby unto any. We have a notable Scripture for that, Nah. 1.12. Though they be quiet, and likewise many, yet thus shall they be cut down when he [Page 339] shall pass thorow. Though they be many, yes thus shall they be cut down.

He begins here with the Priests, Hear O ye Priests.] They were the principal cause of all the evil; first of the evil of sin, and then of the evil of punishment, and therefore he begineth with them. They are called Priests, not that they were true Priests, for they were not of the tribe of Levi, Observ Priests. but they were so reputed to be. The Priests have usually been the causes of all the wickedness in, and judgments on a Nation. Jer. 23.15. Prophaness is gone throughout the Land, from the Prophet and the Priests. Multitude of Scriptures are evident before us that layes the evil of Nations upon Priests. And hath it not been so with us? and is it not so at this day?Applic. There was never a more filthy sink of scandalous superstitious Priests in a King­dom than of late amongst us, as hath begun and will yet fur­ther appear unto you. There hath been an accusation against our Parliament, that orthodox, grave, godly Divines have been put out of their livings;See the first Cen­tury of malignant Ministers ejected I suppose you begin to see what those grave, orthodox, godly Divines were that were put out, under evident and plain proofs it is made known to the world to the satisfaction of them, and you have but the beginning of it, you will have a great deale more afterward. Heare ye Priests:

And hearken ye house of Israel] that is the next.Exposit. The house of Israel, by that is meant the common people. Priests first, the house of Israel next, and the house of the King, that is last. And the house of Israel is set between the Priests and the house of the King upon this ground, because by these two, by the cor­ruption of the Priests and the house of the King all was swai­ed: the cause of the evil of the people came from them both, partly from the Priests and partly from the house of the King: It came both waies to the people and between them both the people were undone.Obser. ‘Let these two join in any sinful way in a Kingdom, the Priests and the house of the King, let them joyn and set up what they wil in worship, the people will go that way they go.’ If but one of them be right there is a great deal of hope of much good, but wo to a [Page 340] people when both of them are corrupt, when both Priests and the house of the King too are corrupt. If the house of the King should be corrupt, yet if the Priests and so the Ministers, if they kept up the truth and vigor and life of Religion, things would go reasonably well in a Kingdom, though Religion might be persecuted yet the life of it would not be taken away. Whatsoever Laws Magistrates did enact against the waies of God except Ministers be brought to comply those Laws will not be brought to prevail with the consciences of people, nor with their practices. Jeroboam and the other Princes saw it was in vain for them to think to prevail with the people ex­cept they could get the Priests to be for them, therefore it was the great de [...]gn of Jeroboam to get the Priests of his side, which he easily did, for all preferment came by him, he rai­sed whom he would, and then because that their means and preferment lay upon him they would joyn with him in what way he went.

Object. But mark, Might not the people excuse themselves and say, what should we do? On the one side authoritie enjoyns us, on the other side our Ministers teach us to do thus and thus, what shall we do? they might think to excuse them­selves.

Answ. No, judgment is against you Oh house of Israel; notwithstan­ding the Priests and the house of the King have done thus and thus, yet you are not to be excused. A great many reasons may be given why the people may not be excused though they be commanded thus and thus.Arias Montan. I remember Arias Montanus upon this Scripture, gives this reason why men are not to be excused though they be commanded by the King;Kings. for he laies down this for a rule, That no King can make any Law but by the people, they cannot saith he make Laws by themselves alone, the people must consent to th [...]m some way or other; therefore the peo­ple are involved in al the wicked Laws in a Kindom: It is not enough therefore for you to say such and such Laws are made and we cannot help it; we are to know it is not meerly the wil of a King that is a Law to a Kingdom, but Laws enacted is, where people have their hands one way or other in them. [Page 341] This answer he gives, and he quoteth an Heathen to shew that people must have their hand in the Laws that are made, espe­cially some people, for some Kingdoms are otherwise gover­ned than others;Not alike Absolute as som in Scripture. therefore there is no reason for people to say, in the Scripture such Kingdoms did so and so: We know in one Countrey the Kings authority reacheth so far, and in ano­ther so far; in one Countrey Kindoms are by Election, in ano­ther by Inheritance; in one Countrey the female inherits, in another none but the male, therefore the power of Kings and their limits is not what hath been heretofore in such and such a place, but what is the constitution of that Kingdom of which he is King, for many are limitted in their power in one Countrey more than in another; Therefore the people are not to be excused because of their evil especially in these times.

Now this sheweth evidently that God would have every one examine what is taught him and what is commanded him by his superiours. It is cleer from hence; The people art here cited to judgment, and placed between the Priests and the Kings house, though the Priests taught them super­stitious waies, though the Kings house commanded them, yet they must be judged, then I say it is cleer that God would have every one examine what is taught him and commanded him by his superiours, and himself to know the rule of his own actions. It is no answer for God, to say I am taught thus, or I am commanded thus, you must know the rule of your own actions your selves, for you your selves must give an account unto God.

But you may say, Quest. Shall it be left to every one to judge of the truth of what is taught, and of the lawfulness of what is commanded? If every one shall judg of what he thinks in his conscience lawful, what order can there be?

For answer unto that, Answ. Whatsoever the inconvenience may be, it appears evidently to be a truth, for we must answer unto God for our actions, therefore we must know the rule of our actions; therefore, First, let the inconveniency be what it wil, the truth 1 is good. But secondly, I say this, that every one must judge 2 [Page 342] so far as it concerns his own act, he cannot judge so far as it concerns the Magistrates act what is fit for the Magistrate to command,Note nor the Ministers act what is fit for him to teach, but he may and he ought to judge so far as it concerns his own act; what I am to do so far as I must answer before God, I must judg it so, but if I be taught and commanded by autho­rity one thing and I judg another, I go upon mine own peril, that is, if I do not judge right I sin against God and incur pu­nishment from God and I must run the hazard; but to judge that which must be the rule of my act, that is a certain truth belonging unto every man.

Give ear ye house of the King.] And there is put an Ob unto this besides the other, Give ear Oh house of the King, for though it comes in last yet that's the principal indeed, for what can superstitious and Idolatrous Priests do? what hurt? except they be countenanced by the house of the King; Give eare therefore, Oh house of the King.

Oh house] that is, the King himself with, all his Courtiers: Kings and Princes must have sin charged upon them and be made to know that they are under the threats of God as well as any. Obser.

For judgment is against you.] Mark it, he doth not put all this evil upon ill Counsellers that got into the house of the King, but he puts it directly upon the house of the King it self. Ill Princes may be as great a cause why there are ill Councellors, Note. as ill Counsellors why there are ill Princes. Ill Counsellors usually see what the design of a Prince is, and what is sutable to his dispo­sition, and they blow up, nourish and help that with their e­vil counsel. But were it that the design of Princes and their dispositions were right they might have Counsellors about them to further that which is right too. Certainly it is no excuse for Princes to cherish flatterers and wicked ones about them, & then to say they were advised to such a way; For if the teaching of the Priests, and the cōm [...]nds of Princes do not excuse people but they must see a rule for what they do, then Counsellors about Princes connot excuse them, but they ought to see the rule for what they do too. It is the unhappiness of Princes to have none about them to charge them personally [Page 343] with their sins, I mean in the Name of God, to shew them the evil and the danger of their sins. It was wont to be said (as heretofore I have told you) Da Ambrosios & plur. habebimus Theodosios. Let us have Ambroses and we shall have Theodosius's, because of his freedom of spirit with that Emperor; And be­sides to another Emperor, Valentinian, saith he, Noli te extolle­re Imperator, si vis diutius imparare, esto Deo subditus. Do not lift up thy self Oh Emperor, if you will be Emperor longer, if you will reign longer, be willing to be subject unto God. And we know with what freedom of spirit the Prophets in former times spoke even to Kings houses. You know that of Samuel, 1. Sam. 12. ult. If you do wickedly you shall perish both ye and your King; So Elijah to Ahab, Thou art he that troublest Israel: So Elisha to Jehoram, 2 King. 3.13, 14. What have I to do with thee? (and yet Jehoram came to the Prophet in an humble way) what have I to do with thee, Get thee to the Prophets of thy father, And were it not that I regard the presence of Jehosaphat the King of Judah, I would not look toward thee nor see thee. This he said to a great King. Great liberty have others had in the Primitive times to speak thus unto Princes; And a great cause of the evil of these latter daies hath been the flatteries of those that have been at Court, therefore saith the Prophet here, Hear ye Oh house of the King. Kings are great indeed above other men, but what are they before the great God? Psal. 76.12. He shall cut off the spirit of Princes, he is terrible to the Kings of the earth. Psal. 105.12. When they were but few in number, yea very few and strangers in the land, when they went from one Nation to another, from one Kingdom to another peo­ple, he suffered no man to do them wrong, yea, he reproved Kings for their sakes; He reproved Kings for the sake of his own people when they were but few in number and went wandring from one Nation to another, & said, Touch not mine anointed, that is, touch nor my Saints. He gave Kings warning that they should take heed how they did so much as Tou [...]h his Church, touch his own people; Gods people are there called his Anointed, and it is said unto Kings that they should not [Page 344] touch his anointed that were so few and wandered up and down from one Nation to another. Say thus even to the house of the King.

Expos. 2.But yet further, The house of the King is named last here, is named after the house of Israel, why so? Not that the house of Israel were more guilty than the house of the King, but because the house of the King could least endure reproof, that is one reason given of it, they could hardly bear repre­hension, therefore in wisdom so far the Prophet would go, he would begin with the other and being in a way of repre­hension with the other, then he comes in with the house of the King.Obser. ‘Though they are to be reproved for evil yet some due respect ought to be given unto them.’

Judgment Judgment is toward you saith the Prophet. Judicium here 1 is taken either actively or passively. Actively, pro actu Judi­cij, so Junius, it was their part to judg out of the Law, and so he would reade it thus, Judgment is yours, Oh house of the 2 King, you ought to judg the people in righteousness. But I rather think that here it is to be taken passively, that is, that God calls you to judgment, to suffer Judgment, judgment is toward you,Note or against you. And observe I beseech you the difference between the beginning of the fourth Chapter and the beginning of the fifth. In the fourth Chapter it was but a controversie, a strife that God had with them, Hear the Word of the Lord, ye children of Israel, for the Lord hath a controver­sie with the land: But here you have another word, now it is come to judgment; that which before was but a contending with them is now come to a judgment of them, to a passing of sentence upon them, judgment is against you, sentence is out upon you. The former was Gods pleading against them, and this now is Gods judging of them. ‘When God pleadeth a­gainst us (that is the Note from thence) let us not neglect his pleas,Observ. Gods pleadings for they will come to a sentence and then we are gone.’ If we neglect when he begins to plead his cause with us, if we neglect it because judgment is not upon us, it will proceed to a sentence. God hath laid his plea against many a man in his Word, and perhaps some of you see it and know [Page 345] it that God hath laid his plea against you; and God laies his plea against many a man in his conscience, but he nelgecting this plea of God laid against him in his Word and in his con­science, he hath afterward received the sentence of death in his soul which hath sunk his heart into dispair. Many a man hath had God speaking against him in his word and in his conscience I say, and there hath been Gods controversie, God hath been laying his plea there, thou hast gone on in thy sin, and at length it may be there comes the sentence of death up­on thy soul, that thou doest as it were feel, som have said it,The sen­tence of condem­nation felt that they have felt God passing a sentence of death upon them, and ever after that speech they have roared out through de­spair and so have died. There hath been such works of God heretofore, yea and many times continued that those that go against their consciences and have had Gods plea against them often, they have as it were felt God passing a sentence of death upon them in this world and that hath sunk them into despair; it hath been a particular day of judgment unto them, they have heard as it were God speaking from his Throne this sentence upon them, thou art a dead man, a lost man. Oh take heed of neglecting Gods pleas lest they come to judgments.

Judgment is against you; why? what is the cause?

You have been a snare upon Mispah and a net spread upon Ta­bor.

Mark,Expos. Obser. God passeth not judgment but he gives the cause for it. Men are rash and they will pass judgment upon such and such that they know not: When you come sometimes into a Tavern or Inn, or into a Shop you shall hear men railing up­on such and such, Ask them, do you know them? No: What have they done? they know not neither, only there is a gene­rall noise of them that such men do thus and thus disturb the peace of the Kingdom. But in this they deal not righteous­ly. God he passeth nor judgment but he gives a full and suf­ficient cause why he doth it; You have been a snare saith he on Mispah and a net spread upon Tabor.

There is much of the mind of God in these words. Some [Page 346] take that first, Mispah, appellatively pr [...]speculatione, you have been a snare upon the watch, for so [...] (Speculor) from whence the word cometh signifies, and Speculatio they take to be for those for whom they should watch over, as Congregatio pro Congreg [...]ti [...], Circumcisio pro Ci [...]cumcisis, so Speculatio pro Cu­stoditis: As it God should charge them thu [...], You should have been Watch men you Priests and you of the Kings house, but you have been a net to ensnare them, you should have been Speculatores but you have been Venatores & Aucupes, you have been fowlers and hunters of my people. Theodoret The [...]dor. hath it pro Speculatoribus, that is thus, you spread a net for the watch­men, you superstitious Priests, you house of the King, and you people generally, you spread a net for your faithful Watch­men, if you have any Watchmen that are more watchful than others you seek to ensnare them what you can. So they car­ry it.

2 But though this doth hint at the meaning of the words, yet I think it cannot be taken from the word Mispah, therefore as the word Tabor is taken properly, not appellatively, so I think is the word Mispah. Therefore we are to remember that both Mispah and Tabor were the names of two mountains that were in the land of Israel. Indeed the first signifies a Watch, and the other, Tabor, signifies a high place, and because it was a fa­mous & high mountain it is called Tabor by way of eminency.

Now both these Mountains, Mispah and Tabor were very eminent among the people of Israel.Mispah. Mispah, so Judg. 20.1. The children of Israel were gathered together unto the Lord in Mispah, an eminent place. It was that mountain where Laban and Jacob met Gen. 31.49. so some think it to be, and called Mispah by Laban, For (saith he) the Lord watch between me and [...]hee when we are absent one from another. That for the mountain, Mispah.

Tabor.So Tabor, that was very ancient too, Psal. 89.12. Tabor and Hermon are joyned together. Hermon was famous too, as C [...]nt. 4.8. Come with me from Labanon my spouse, look from the t [...]p [...]f A­mana, from the top of Shenir and Hermon: Therefore it is very ill turned in your meeter in the Psalms, (as there are a great ma­ny [Page 347] ill places in the meeter in the Psalms, that are not only poor kind of rime;The common singing Psalms, They are now much better done by Mr. Rowse, that learned a pious Mem­ber of the H. of Commons in Parliament, and by them Authorised for the Press. but are turned against the very sense of the text, against the meaning, as may be shewed in many places, so in that one) in Psal. 42.6. The little hill Hermon; whereas the truth is, He [...]mon was an high and famous hill; A mistake in the reading, for in the reading Psalms it is, I will remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mister, that signifies smal indeed; but they make it as if Her­mon and Mister were all one: but the Psalm i [...] rather to be in­terpreted thus, I wil remember thee O Jerusalem where ever I am, in all quarters of the world, from Jordan, that was east­ward from Jerusalem, and Hermon, that was an high moun­tain in the North, and Miss [...]r, that is, of the South, because the mountains of the South were small; As if he should say,psal. 42.6. illustrated. whether I be East or North or South from the Te [...]ble I will remember Jerusalem where ever I am. that the meaning of that Psalm is not as if Misser and Hermon were one and the same, as if it should be turned the little hil Hermon, for it was a high and famous hil joyned with Tabor, that famous moun­tain Psalm 89. And Tabor was so famous, that it was a prover­bial speech among them to say, As Tabor am [...]ngst the mountains. It was the mountain on which Christ was tran [...]figured, a most brave stately mountain every way equal. J [...]phus in his 4th book, cap. 21. of the wars of the Jew [...], saith it was 30.3. mile and three quarters Stadiums or Furlongs high, and on the top, twenty; Now aPlin. lib. 2. cap. 23. Stadium is 125. paces as I remember, or 625. feet; and on the top it was so plain that there wa not one place of it higher than a­nother, but it lay so equal as if it had been made by the art of man; And a mountain that was very fertile and full of trees, a very pleasant and delightful place.

Now God chargeth them, that they had been a snare on Mis­pah, and a net up [...]n m [...]unt Tabor. According to some these mountains are taken senechdo [...]hically, that is, for all high pla­ces, and these Metenymically, for all their superstition and Idolatry committed upon those high places, and then the Expos. 1 meaning is this, Your Idolatry upon these high places hath been a net and a snare to the people.

Expos. 2 But I think rather the sense to be Metaphorical, thus, These mountains were places very delightful, and places where was much hunting, and the Gentry of the kingdome took much delight in hunting in these mountains, and there they were wont to spread their nets and set their snares for fowls and beasts. Now saith God, You have been a snare on Mispah and a net upon Tabor, that is thus; Mispah and Tabor are two moun­tains where there is much hunting for fowl and beasts, and the truth is, you watchmen and other people that joyn with you, have been huntsmen that have laid snares for the souls of my people as they lay snares on Mispah and Tabor; because they were eminent places for hunting, therefore God chargeth them for laying snares for the souls of his people, and hun­ting them and catching them in their waies of superstition and Idolatry. The Gospel is called a Net in the Scripture, and the Ministers of the Gospel are to spread it, but the cords and twists of that net are precious, they are the blessed truths of the Gospel, the mysteries of the Gospel, and happy are those that are caught in that net: But the net of superstitious Priests and Governors it is made of other manner of stuff, they have their ness too that they spread and catch the souls of the people in. And the net that is here meant they had to catch the souls of the people (for at the first,Note. Jeroboam and the rest of the Princes would not go on in a violent way to force people to a false religion, but would seek by their cunning devices to catch the hearts of people in their love of false worship, and they would spread their nets for people before they were aware, and) the threads and lines it was woven withal were these.

Method of Princes & Priests to delude the people about the worship of God.First, The plea of Authority. Doth not authority com­mand you to do thus and thus?

Secondly, The Priests, the Authority of the Priestly Office. Do not the Priests, the holy fathers do thus and thus? and have you more wit than they? more wit than all the States­men and the Kings house? and more wit than all your Tea­chers too?

Thirdly, We worship God, we do not alter our Religion, [Page 349] we hope we worship Jehovah that you worship.

Fourthly, The things required of you are not very much; it is but a circumstance of place; you worship at Jerusalem, it is but worshiping at Dan and Bethel here before these two Ima­ges, you shall not worship the Images, but worship in this place.

Fiftly, We intend nothing but that which is for your good, all that we aim at is for your benefit, for that was Je­roboams pretence, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem, to go twice a year so great and tedious and dangerou [...] a journey, no saith he, I tender the good of my people more, therefore let them worship here.

Sixtly, Why should you be so curious and strict; The most, the ten Tribes do thus, there is but only Judah and Benjamin that go another way, the multitude go this way, and why should you when only a poor handful go another way desire to do as they do?

Seventhly, We have prospered a long time in this way. Hath not Israel prospered as much as Judah? hath not God been with us as much as with them? Judah pretends he wor­ships God in the right w [...]y, we are sure God is with us.

Eightly, They would raise reproaches upon the true wor­shipers of God, as in the 7. Chapter of this Prophesie, vers. 3.Cap. 7.3. Opened They make the King glad with their wickedness, and the Princes with their lyes. That is, this was their cunning devise, to raise all the reproches that possibly they could, against those that were true, forward, and zealous worshipers of God, especially a­gainst the Prophets and Ministers, and therefore in Amos you shall find (and he prophesied at the same time) that Amaziah said, the Land could not bear his words, they are a company of seditious men, that the Country could not bear their words, but they were even enough to set the people together by the ears, yea what are these men that oppose the Kings Laws but such and such? These were the snares that they set to catch the people, to make them out of love with the true worship of God. Thus they were a snare set upon Mispah and a n [...]t up­on mount Tabor.

Applic.Thus it hath been with us, how cunningly have men l [...]id their nets amongst us to catch souls? Say they, it is but yeel­ding thus far, to this thing and the other thing; and autho­rity enjoins it, if it were more it were no great matter, and o­ther learned and godly men they do thus and they think thus; yea, and why should you hinder your self of the good you may do? It is but a matter of circumstance, it is but for decency and order, and there is much devotion this way, we may gain Papists in yeilding as far as we can unto them, there is none but a company of simple pleople against it, this is anci­ent, the Fathers of the Church have done thus, yea many Martyrs that have shed their blood did thus. Thus many have been caught as a bird in a snare, with these lines and twigs thus cunningly twisted together how have they caught souls?simile and so caught them that they could not tell how to get out, but being once in they were ensnared more and more; as a bird that is once caught in the net it beginneth to flutter a while but at length it is caught so much the faster; so men when they yeilded to one thing they could not tell where to stay but at last they have been so deep in and so far ensnared that they could not tell what to do; and the truth is, at length they have even given up their consciences to those things; as a bird that perhaps at first when the net is but stirred it is shie of it, but being once got in it is ensnared all over, so many men at first, being of tender consciences, have been shie of su­perstitious vanities, but with cunning arguments and devices they have been caught, and they thought they should never hear of them any more, but being once caught so as that they have power over them, they have come upon them with more violence than before, and so have been made to yeild so far that at the last their consciences have wholly been given up to those things; They have been vexed and troubled with their consciences at the first, but at length they have been resolved to trouble themselves no more but to yeild to whatsoever shall be enjoyned. Oh how many have been thus ensnared! This was the plot of the adversary, if possibly they could they would break the consciences of men. Oh it was the most de­villish [Page 351] plot that ever was in the world that was lately among us. When they were together in their Taverns, or jocundly sitting together, then they were plotting & studying what it was that such and such men did scruple most at, and oh saies one, this, no saies another not this but this will catch such a one; Let him have it said they. It may be the old ceremonies 1 would catch some; others perhaps would break through the 2 old, therefore there must be new ones devised; others again 3 it may be would break through the new ones, Oh but the book of liberty on the Sabbath, that would catch them; and 4 if they break that through, then the Oath of cannonical obe­dience that would catch them. Thus they laid nets to break the consciences of men, and they knew that if they could but once break their consciences they might do with them what they would; certainly they saw that there was no way to make them to be their own, to be filij Ecclesiae as they call'd them, but to crack their consciences at first. Many men have found this to be true by experience, and we have seen it: For otherwise what is the reason when they have come with all the flatteries they could to some (that have stood out many yeers and perhaps God hath done good by their Ministry) to draw them but to any thing, and when they have but once prevail'd (they imagined that there was so much the more in it against their consciences, they saw men look pale and trembled and were loth to yeild, but) when they had got them once, they concluded that certainly they did that which was against their consciences, and now said they, we have got them, and then they would heap all their injunctions upon them one after another until they had broken their conscien­ces all to shivers.simile And as it is with some birds and beasts that when they are caught they are presently fatted up, so it was with some Ministers and others, when they were once got in their nets, presently they had livings and preferment and some got to be Bishops Chaplains and the like; And as some other birds when they are caught they are presently nipped in the head or their limbs are broken: so when they had caught some others, they would deal ruggedly, severely, ma­liciously [Page 352] with them, and would never leave until they had broke them all to pieces. These were our men that have been a snare upon Mispah and a net spread upon Tabor; But blessed be God that their snare is broken and our souls are escaped as a bird out of the hands of the fowler,Note Psal. 124.7. My bre­thren when so many have been caught in such nets and snares that were laid, do not you think you would have been all caught one after another? It is likely every one of you would have been caught in their superstitious waies, for see how they prevailed in a few yeers. But God looked from Heaven and pittied the souls of his people and heard their groans and sighs. Oh many a poor Minister hath gone home to his wife, and having no other way of maintainance he hath out of fear of loosing his living yeilded to their superstitious injun­ctions, do but you think how he hath wrung his hands and could not sleep that night but lay tossing upon his bed with a dismal conscience. Well, the Lord hath heard these cries and broken our snares and our souls are delivered. God for­bid such a judgment should ever befal us again, as that God should bring these fowlers amongst us to ensnare our souls as they have done!

Expos. 3 But there is another interpretation of this text and it is somewhat sutable to this and may well stand with this, and I think it is that which is intended by the holy Ghost here. Mispah and Tabor were two eminent mountains (I take them in their own proper sence, You have been a snare upon Mispah and a net spread upon Tabor, that they did spread snares and nets upon those very mountains) that did stand between Isra­el and Judah, between the two chief Cities, Samaria that be­longed to the ten Tribes, and Jerusalem that appertained to Judah and Benjamin. Now Jeroboam and the other Princes his successors, they placed Watch-towers upon these two mountains, and there they set men to watch, to be as Spies to see who went from Israel to Judah. There were a compa­ny of precise people that would not be contented with that worship that was set up by authority, but they must have o­ther manner of worship and they must now and then be stea­ling [Page 353] to Jerusalem at the times appointed: Now the Priests they counselled those that were in authority, say they, we shall never be quiet till we catch these men, they must be going to Jerusalem, therefore let there be some device to apprehend them: then comes another and saith, most of them when they go they go by Mispah and Tabor, and there are two con­venient places, if you will set some watch-towers there and place men in them they may take every one of them. Now this counsel pleased the Princes very well, and upon it (as I find in Arias Montanus, Arias mon. who cites it out of the Jews histories) there were two Towers set upon these mountains and were intended to this very purpose. This God chargeth them withal, and judgment is against you for this. Oh you set snares upon Mispah: They were convenient places for such a business, and so they did catch poor people that sought to worship God in his own way. Oh this is that which pro­vokes God exceedingly and will bring fearful judgment upon a people when Magistrates and Ministers will seek to catch poor souls that would worship God in his own right way. And hath it not been so in our late High-commission Court?Applic. when there was but a poor Reader in a Countrey Town, that could do nothing else, and if there were any eminent Prea­cher neer hand, poor souls that were hungring after the bread of life would go to hear that Preacher, they would set men on purpose with pen and ink to take notice of the names of such men, just as Jeroboan did here. The Lord hath a special eye upon poor souls that are opprest and are thus catched, to re­leeve them in due time; and blessed be his Name He hath done much for us this way, in releeving us and delivering us from these men, and the judgment of God is this day out against those that have been these catchers. What is become of those Proctors and Sumners and of all that rabble rout that were catchers and hunters of such poor souls as were desirous of worshiping God in his own way?

VER. 2.

And the revolters are profound to make slaughter, though I have been a rebuker of them all.

THE Lord by hi [...] Prophet proceedeth in his [...]harge against Israel for their Idolatry; And in the latter [...]nd of the 5. verse, he pronounceth the sentence against them.

1. The continuance of their charge. The revolters are pro­found to make slaughter.

The revolters.] The Apostates, those who once worshiped me according unto what I required in the way of true wor­ship; But they are revolted. The brand of a Revolter is an ignominious brand; Especially when God himself chargeth this upon any; Once you were thus and thus forward in the waies of God, but you are revolted, you are an apostates; there can be on blacker brand upon a people, upon a man than this is,Exposit. he is an apostate, a revolter. We must understand this their revolting especially in reference to their falling off from the true worship of God to their Idolatry: And so the next words.

[...] They are profound.] Profunda verunt, they are grown very deep in this their way of Idolatry. At first they began but with a little, but by degrees they are grown into the very depth. When men begin in the waies of Idolatry they know not whether they shall sink. They think perhaps at first to go but thus far and thus far, but before they are aware they are sunk into the very depth.

Obser. beginings of false worship It is a dangerous thin [...] to venture upon the beginnings of false worship, especially when the tide is flowing in. If a man stand up­on the shore of the Sea when the tide is coming in, and thinks the water is but shallow now, I may venture to stand here, it is but a little depth here; The Sea still comes in more and more,simile he thinks it is not much deeper than it was: but if he venture too long he may soon be swallowed up and sunk in­to the very depth of the Sea.Applica. Thus it hath been with many; They have been deceived in their waies of superstition: They [Page 355] have thought they might yeild thus far, and yeild thus far; but they little thought of the tide that was coming. It is true if the tide had been going out, it had not been so much danger. Therefore they are deceived in that their opinion of the first Reformers; First Re­formers. they would yeild for peace-sake thus and thus far; but then the tide was rather going out; and yet it was not without danger that they yeilded so far as they did: But of late times the tide was coming in;late Inno­vations. and then the yeil­ding but thus far and thus far, hath swallowed up many in­to the very depths of those waies of superstition, they have e­ven been choked and drowned by them.

Secondly, Profunda verunt radices in sua malitia. Calvin in loc. Their 2 hearts are got very deep in these waies: (so I find some Inter­preters carry it, and not improbably) they are grown deep, that is, they are deeply rooted in these waies, so that there is little hope ever to get off their hearts from them; They have con­tinued in them a great while, and now they plead their fore­fathers, and custom; so they are deeply rooted in these their waies of Idolatry.

‘It is a dangerous thing for a people to be deeply rooted in superstitious waies;’ Obser. What a great deal of stir is there in dealing with them that are deeply rooted in false waies of worship? By custom in them they grow to be deeply rooted in them.

Thirdly, Profunda verunt, they are grown profound, that is, 3 they have revolted from God exceeding much, deeply revol­ted. It noteth the greatness of their revolting. In Esa. 31.6. there is such an expression. They have deeply revolted, they have not only forsaken somewhat of my wo [...]ship, but they have deeply, exceedingly, largely, very much revolted from me. So in the 9th of this Prophesie, verse 9. They have deeply cor­rupted themselves, They have exceedingly, very much corrup­ted themselves:

Fourthly, Profunda verunt, they are grewn deep, that is (as 4 some would have it) they grow deeper in [...]eir waies of Ido­latry than God doth in the waies of his worship: As thus, They will punish more the breaking of any of their rules in [Page 356] their invented worship, than God punisheth the breaking of his rules.Mercer. Rab. Jar­chi. So I find Mercer that learned Interpreter quoting Rabbi Jarchi as having this expression, Qui non asscendit trans­greditur, qui offendit occidetur. He which ascends not (to the feast) transgresseth; but he that offendeth (so) shall be slain. God only accounteth him a transgressor that comes not up to the feast at the appointed time; but they say, whosoever doth not come shall be put to death. They will go further in the punishment of the breach of their superstitious Laws, than God doth in the punis [...]ment of the breach of his holy Law. So they are grown deep. Yea they would seem to go further, to be more zealous and earnest for their waies of Idolatry than God himself is for his waies of holy worship.

Applic.And have we not found this, that Revolters, superstitious Idolaters they have grown deep thus? that is, they will pu­nish the breach of their superstitious waies more deeply than God punisheth the breach of His [...]aw; they will stand more upon time, and will be more eager to have their Laws fulfild abundantly than the true worshipers of God are eager to have the Law of God fulfild.

But (though I think the holy Ghost hath a reference to di­vers of the things) the main and principal scope of the holy Ghost in this word I take to be this, according as you have it in your translations, They are grown profound; that is, They are very subtil in their waies of idolatry, they lay their snares deep.

We spake before of the snares of Idolaters; now here the holy Ghost chargeth them for being profound, that is, They are subtil, they lay their snares very deep: As fowlers and hunters (to follow the metaphor) they will go into low pla­ces and into ditches, that so they may deceive the fowls, and that the birds may not perceive them: So the Holy Ghost here follows this metaphor:Exposit. they are content to go deep, they are deep in their plots, they will deny themselves in any thing almost, and will be content to lie very low so be it they may further their own ends. You find it in many great Promoters of superstition and idolatry, they wil crouch and seem to be [Page 357] very affable and courteous to gain people,Obser. and in many things deny themselves, and all to further their own ends. Thus they are profound in their subtilty; according to that expres­sion we have in Psal. 10.9, 10. He lieth in wait to catch the poor, Psal. 10.9, 10. opened he doth catch the poor when he draweth him into his net; he croucheth and hambleth himself that thee poor may fall.

Oh it should teach us to be willing to deny our selves in our own end [...] that we may promote the true worship of God; Use. for Idolaters will crouch, and bow, and deny themselves in their ends for the promoting of their Idolatry. There are many depths, many subtilties in their waies; their parts are imploi­ed to the utmost to maintain their superstition; And men that have strong parts and good wits, what a glosse are they able to put upon the worst things in the world!Men o [...] parts. If there be any a­bility in any parts or strong wit that the Devil can assist them withal he shall be imploied in putting of glosses upon their false waies of worship; and so they grow deep. The Scrip­ture telleth us of the depths of Satan, Rev. 2.24. Satan in his instruments hath deep policies and doth go beyond many poor weak and simple people. And sometime we have in Scripture exprest, the devices of Satan, 2 Cor. 2.11. [...] the reasonings of Satan. And then the methods [...]f the Devil, Eph. 6.11. [...] the deep policies of the Devil; and in nothing more exercised than in the maintainance of the waies of false worship;& gravity There they appear with their gravity and profound learning (seeming profound learning) to coun­tenance this their way of false worship. This was just the way of Idolaters at these times, they were grown profound in thi [...] their way.

First,Obser. That the hearts of Apostates are the most deeply rooted in wi [...]edness.

No men are so deeply rooted in wickedness as Apostates are. The [...]evolters are grown d [...]ep, that i [...], are deeply roo [...]ed in this their way of wickedness, and amongst o [...]her wickedness, above all in the waies of supersti [...]ion and Idolatry. Apostates if th [...]y grow superstitious and Idol [...]trous they are the most de [...]ply rooted in those waies, yea and the most profound and [Page 358] subtil in them. Hence you might observe in your own expe­riences the practices of our Prelates,Applic Prelats of late. they would chuse to themselves Chaplain to be their Agents such as had bin here­tofore Puritans, and so falling off and apostatizing from that strictness that they seemed to profess in former times; they made account that these would be thei [...] choicest and best A­gents of all men; they thought their sittest men were such as did arise out of the as [...]e of a Puritan, as they themselves were wont to express it: they knew that such men as those that were formerly seemingly strict in their practice, were best ac­quainted wherein the consciences of godly men were most tender, and that they knew their waies and what would pinch their consciences most, and therefore these were the fittest A­gents for them.

Obs. 2 Idolaters (especially Apostates) are profound and deep.

We had need therefore to beware of those that are supersti­tious Use 1 when they come with the greatest shew of arguments: They are deeply rooted and can hardly be gotten off from Use 2 their superstitious waies; we had need likewise be deeplie rooted in the truths of God or they certainlie will undermine us. The Scripture telleth us, that the Spirit of God searcheth the de [...]p things of God, 1 Cor. 2.10. revealeth the mysterie [...] of Christ; Those that have that Spirit of GodSpirit of God. that searcheth those deep thing of God, they are the only men and women that are like to stand out again [...]t the deep policies of Idolaters.mean gif­ted Be­leevers. And the truth is, every godly man and woman though never so mean parted, yet they are more profound than the greatest Scholer in the world that is wicked and superstitious; for they have the Spirit of God that searcheth the deep things of God: and this it is that ke [...]ps their hearts from being taken with greatest profoundness of false worship.

Obs. 3 Id [...]laters they are deep in their policies.

Use. It should teach us then to l [...]bor to be wise in the worship of God.Christian policy. When we would maintain God in his worship it should teach us to learn to seek to out plot them; they are full of their plots, why should not the Spirit of God teach us wisdom as well as the spirit of Satan teacheth them? Why [Page 359] should we not exercise our parts as strongly in the true worship of God, as they theirs in the way of superstition and Idola­try? But we see it ordinarily otherwise, That the men of the w [...]rld are wiser in their generation than the children of light, they are deeper in waie [...] of policie and so deceive such as are sim­ple If you take them upon the first presenting of things, the first shew of things, they will seem to come with such colour of arguments as will certainly deceive you. Therefore you should beg wisdom of God that you might not be deceived through the subtilty of [...]atan through these men.

I find diver [...] of the Anci [...]nts have other intepretations of these word [...]; I will not spend further time in telling you what those are, because I think already we have had the meaning of the holy Ghost in these words; therefore we will pass on. They are profound,

To make slaughter] To make slaughter! what doth God intend by these words? By these he doth express their way of superstition and false worship. He meaneth by their ma­king Expos. 1 slaughter, their sacrifices unto their Idols, and so by the sacrifice [...] which was the principal part of their false worship he m [...]aneth all their false worship they were deep in all their false worship, naming the chief for the rest.

But why doth He call their Sacrifices, making slaughter.

It is in way of reproach. Reas. All their sacrifices were no bet­ter than slaughter, their Temple was no better than a sham­bles, and their Priests no better than Butchers. God will not give them the honour as to say, they offered me sacrifice; No, but it is, to make slaughter. As if God should say, I look upon all your sacrifices as no other than upon slaughter, your Temple no otherwise than upon a butchers shambles, and your Priests no otherwise than butchers. Thus contemptibly doth God spe [...]k of the sacrifices of those that chuse their own superstitious waies. Isa. 66.3. He that killeth an Ox, is as if he slew a man; (saith God) he that sacrificeth a Lamb, as if he cut off a Dogs ne [...]k; he that offereth up an oblation, as if he offered Swines blo [...]d: and yet there, God speaks of the sacrifices of Judah, not of Israel. Let the sacrifices be for the matter of them, what [Page 360] God requireth, and offered in the place that God hath ap­pointed, yet when men make their sacrifice, their own righ­t [...]sness and think to put off God by them, saith God, I re­ga [...]d them no more t [...]n the cutting off of a dogs neck. But these sacrifices of Israel had a twofold error in them. First, 1 they were no [...] off [...]red in the place that God would have them: 2 Secondly, they rested upon them likewise; therefore God called these sacrif ce [...] no other than slaughter.

Obser. Will-worship.From thence the note is, ‘That whatsoever worship is ten­dred up to God, if it be not his own worship, or if in that worship (though it be his own) we chuse our own waies, whatsoever s [...]ew of devotion there may be in it, God accoun­teth it a dispicable thing.’

Expos. 2 Or secondly, The word [making slaughter] God useth not only to shew the contempt He hath of all their sacrifices, but by that He doth secretly insinuate the cruelty of the Priests and of the Princes to those that would not yeild unto their Idolatries, their grievous persecution of them, even unto blood. They are profound (saith God) they are grown deep in their Idolatry, they are grown to the depth of malice, so as their hearts are enraged against those that will not do as they do, even unto blood; no matter what becomes of them, no matter if they were all hanged, a company of precise and scrupulous fools, that pretend conscience, and do nothing else but trouble the State, Doth not Jeroboam and the Coun­cel command these things? The Kingdom can never be well till it be rid of them.

Though I have been a rebuker of them all.] Though I have been an instructor, or corrector so the word may be turned as wel as a rebuker. And have been, or am, or will be, you may put it which way you will, it is not in the Text, neither have been, nor am, [...] nor will, but, Though I a rebuker, Eruditor, Cor­rector of them all. As if God should say, they cannot plead ignorance, indeed were it that they never had any means, then they might have some pretence for what they do, but I have been an instructer and rebuker of them all.

This particle [I] hath reference either to the Prophet, or to God Himself.

1. The Prophet, and then, either

  • Actively, or
  • Passively.

I have been a rebuker, or, I have been rebuked: [...] So some turn it.

For the first, I the Prophet have been a rebuker: 1. Active. From thence the note i [...],

The Ministers of God they must rebuke sin. Obser. They must not su [...]er sin to go without rebuke.

2 Ti [...]. 4.1, 2. I charge thee before God and the Lord Jesus Christ (saith Paul to Timothy.) And among other charges, this was one, That he should rebuke the offendors. And Tit. 1.13. Rebuke the [...] sharply, [...], cuttingly, so the word is. Tit. 2.15. Rebuke with all authority

This is the work of the Ministers of God, to rebuke with authority, to rebuke cuttingly, when there is cause for it.

And indeed, the spirits of sinners are base and vile, and a Minister of God coming in the Name of God, i [...] above them, let them be what they will be;Ministe­rial rebuke And if the rebuke be admini­stred in a gra [...]ious way it wil make the pr [...]dest si [...]er to shake under it; [...]et them seem to be never s [...] s [...]ornful ou [...]rdly, yet I say let a Minister of God come in G [...]d [...] Name, and carry the rebuke in a gracious way, and s [...] as the Oracle of God, he may make the proudest and [...]est sinner to shake under his rebukes, for their spirits are vile. And those that are un­der the charge of such, though i [...] seems to be a hard work [...]nd grievous for the present unto tho [...] th [...] are rebuked, yet they will bless them af [...]erward, if God bles [...] the rebuke and others will curse them that would not [...]buke them in their evill waies.

2. If we refer this Rebuker unto God himself, I have been a Rebuker, that is, Not I the Prophet only, but I the Lord have been a rebuker of them all. From thence the Note is, That God doth rebuke people in his Word, in his Ministers.

Observ.When the Ministers of God rebuke in a way of God, God doth then rebuke sinners. And if there be any means in the world to humble the heart of a sinner,Gods re­bukes. 1. by words. it is this, To see that God rebukes him in his Word. You may put these two note to­gether. God rebukes in his Word: and, This is a great means [...]f humbling the heart of a sinner to see, that God rebukes him in his Word Thou comest unto the Word, and [...]ndest thy self re­buked for such and such evils that thou art conscious unto thy self of: know it was God rebuked thee that day, and He will call thee to account for those rebukes He gave thee there. Thou camest perhaps to hear what the Minister would say, but thou foundest before thou wentst that thou wert rebuked for such and such secret evils thou art conscious to thy self of; Know (I say) God rebuked thee at that time, and look to it, God will call thee to an account for His rebukes.

God rebukes not only by His Word, but sometimes by His works too;2. by works. When He doth appear against sinners, when He suiteth His works so as He doth evidently shew that he sets Himself against such and such sinners, then (I say) God re­bukes them for such and such evils, howsoever they will not see it. Isa. 26.11, 12. Lord when thy hand is lifted up they will not see, but they shall see. God li [...]teth up his hand to rebuke wic­ked and carnal men, and evidently sets himself against them, and they will not see, but they shall see.

Obser.Again further, Hence note the stubbornes [...] of mens hearts, especially of Idolaters; they were profound to make sl [...]ugh­ter in their waies of superstition, though I was a rebuker of them all: they cared not for My rebukes, they regarded not My words, their hearts were s [...]ubborn and stout against them. Verbi contemptus, Idolatriae comes, saith Mercer Mercer. upon the place, The contempt of God [...] Word,the spirit of Idola­te [...] and superstiti­o [...] per­son [...]. To hu­m [...]n wri­ters. is the companion of Idolatry. You shall find by common experience how your superstitious false worshi [...]ers slight the Word of God: they are above it, they spe [...]k jeeringly of the Scripture and of warrants from Gods Word; Oh you must do nothing but you must have Scripture for it: They cry up Fathers and antiquity, and such and such Writers, but for the Word of God they usually con­temn and scorn it.

Thus it was here, they regarded not what God said in his Word. Idolaters are very stout [...]gainst the Word of God and contemn it. There are no commands no commands no rebukes of God in his Word, but they stand out against them; Poor vile worms that they are! who are they that they should dare to stand out against the rebukes of the infinite holy God? Know, howsoever thy spirit swels against this Word of God, it will certainly cast thee. The Psalmist in Psal. 76.6. saith, At thy rebukes O God, the Chariots and Hors-men are cast into a dead sleep; And so Psal. 80.16. They perish at the rebuke of thy counte­nance; And Psal, 104.7. At thy rebuke they fled, And Psal. 18.15. The foundations of the world were discovered at thy rebukes. The rebukes of God they have a great deal of power in them, and Heaven & Ea [...]th cannot stand before the rebukes of God, how then can that stubborn heart of thine stand out against them?

Let us not be troubled my brethren, Use. nor discouraged at the stoutness of Idolaters. They have been alwaies stubborn and stout against the rebukes of God in his Word, and there­fore let us not think it much though they stand it out now a­gainst the evident truth of God and aginst the works of God that apparantly make against them. Revel. 16.9. They were tormented with the wrath of God, but repented not to give Him glory. Many men are ready to think that their cause is good because their spirits are so stout against all that appear against them, and sligh [...] them. Let not us have higher thoughts of them be­cause of this, for it hath alwaie b [...] the course of Idolaters to stand out stoutly against all the rebukes of God in His Word and Works, because the Lord ha [...]h an intent to destroy them.

Observe, Sin after [...]ebukes is very s [...]ful.

It is too much [...] stan [...] out agai [...]st Gods commands;Observ Sin after rebuke but to stand out against any intimation of God displeasure, is a greater evil. God expects that the heart of sinners should mel [...] before him upon an [...] expression of his displeasure: And it was the commendation of JOSIAH, That when the LAW was read, his [...]ear [...] melted; And indeed an ingenious spirit is soon rebuked. But when the heart of a sinner is got above all rebukes then it hardneth ex­ceedingly [Page 364] and then it treasureth up wrath against the day of wrath. We our selves cannot bear it in others to standout a­gainst our rebukes, we cannot bear it in a child or in a servant; if we rebuke a child or a servant, and they care not for it, and their spirits rise against it, how do we hate such, how do our spirits rise up against them? Nay if we rebuke a dog and the dog cares not for it, we cannot bear it. How shall the Infi­nite God bear our slighting of his rebuke.

Use Oh let us charge this sin upon our spirits! How often hath God rebuked me in his Word and in his Work [...], and yet the Lord knows this wretched and [...]u [...]born heart of [...]e hath stood out against it Certainly this standing out [...]in [...] re­bukes will lie heavy upon thy conscienc [...] one da [...]. Nothing will make sin m [...]re heavy upon thy conscience than this, that I have sinned and that in my [...]n [...] have stood out against the rebukes of God: As in Pro 5.12, 13. At the last, when thy flesh and thy ho [...]y is co [...]sume [...] t [...] u st [...] mourn and say, How have I h [...]ted instruc [...]i [...]n, and my [...] [...]spised reproof? The words are spoken of a gallant, a brave [...]o [...]ing gallant, that blu [...]ereth it out in the world, and carries all before him and cares for no­thing that is said; but when the hand of God is upon him and his flesh and body is consumed, then he falls a lamenting his condition, Oh how have I despised reproof, and have not enclined mine ear to them that instructed me? This is the aggravation of [...]in indeed.

And that we may humble our souls for our standing out a­gainst Gods rebukes, ad but this consideration to it, That God hath such rebukes as will force us to yeild unto him in spight of our hearts. If we stand out against His rebukes in hi [...] Word and lesser chastisements, against his loving rebukes; let us know that God hath furious rebukes; so they are cal­led in Ezek. 5.15. and 25.17. When thou com [...]st to the Word, o [...] when thy parents, or thy gove [...]nors or thy friend rebukes thee for thy sins God rebuke [...] thee in them, and th [...]se are loving rebukes: but thou th [...]t art a child o [...] a servant, or any wicked and ung [...]dly man thou rej [...]ctest those [...]bu [...]s; Know, God hath furious rebukes for thee one day, yea rebukes [Page 365] with flames of fire, so they are called Esa. 66.15.

I have been a rebuker of them all.] This (if you apply it to the Prophet, for he must not be excluded, he is meant here as well as God) shews the Prophets impartiality. And from thence the Note is, That

‘Prophets rebukes must not be like cobwebs to take small flies and to let the great ones go thorough,Obser. Prophets rebukes. they must be im­partial rebukes.’ Oh how many Prophets have sharpned their rebukes against those that have been most conscientious, and have sadned their hearts even out of their Pulpits; but they let those that are loose go quiet away, nay not only qui­et but rejoycing. When the hearts of the Saints have been sadned, they have sharpned their rebukes against these; but the looser of the parish, or many times the great ones have gone away rejoycing. Thus if you take the words actively, I have been a rebuker of them all.

But if you take the words passively (as some do) that is thus; They have rebuked the Prophet; as if he should say,2. Passive. they have been profound in their Idolatrous waies, and I have been faithful in preaching to them, and what hath been my re­compence? All of them have rebuked me. All of them, not only their Priests have rebuked me, cryed out against me, not only their chief and great men have rebuked me; they indeed (their Priests and their Magistrates) would bitterly inveigh against me for pleading against their Idolatry; But all the people have done it too, I have been a rebuke to all the people, they have all been bitter against me, and sharpned their very tongues against me; Oh say they, here is one that likes not our way of worship, he must have another kind of Religion, he tells us that we must all go up to Jerusalem and worship there, and nothing will serve turn but that. Thus they scor­ned him and rebuked him and even flew in his very face. From thence the Note is this.

It is a hard thing for a few men to stand out against a State or multitude in matters of Religion, in matters of the worship of God. Obser. Oppositi­on of a multitude

If there be but some few unto whom God hath shewn ano­ther way, and the generality go a different way; Certainly [Page 366] those few are like to meet with hard measure, and like to be a rebuke, not only to Ministers, but generally unto all the peo­ple; they must expect to be under the rebukes of all sorts. Thu it was with the Prophet and with al that went his way, he was a rebuke unto them all.

VER. 3.

I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from me &c.

I know Eprhraim.] This is, Notitia judicialis, non approbationis. A knowledge to judge, not a knowledge of approba­tion.

Exposit. I kn [...]w Ephraim, that is, I know all his shifts, I know all his evasions, all his cunning devices, all his plots, all his pre­tences, all his base ends. These may be hid from men, but I know them, they are not hid from me. Mark, first, I know E­phraim, and then, I know Israel.

EphraimFirst, Ephraim. By Ephraim (as you have heard hereto­fore) we are to understand, the Princes, the great ones amongst them, because Jeroboam was of the Tribe of Ephraim. I know Ephraim, that is, I know the politick ends of all the great ones amongst them:S [...]e Re­ [...]gion. They bear men in hand that they desire to worship Me, and they say, ‘Oh God forbid that they should change Religion, and they cry out of all men that should raise up such suspitions of them amongst their good people.’ But I [...] Ep [...]r [...]im saith he, I know what his aim is, I know what hi [...] th [...]ughts are, and what his counsels are, and what w [...]s plotted at such a time, and what his Chamber-counsels with such and such Priests were, I know what corre­spondence he hath with such and such that corrupt my wor­ship, and all that [...]e [...]in to him and all that favor him, I know them all, I know all their devices and depths. I know what h [...]th b [...]en working these many yeers; [...]dal reades vers. 2. ther kill s [...] ­crifices on heaps, to d [...]c [...]ive. I know how he seems as it he would serve me, but I know that that he doth is meerly to serve [...] [...]wn ends and no further. I know the poor people they are d [...]lud [...]d by his fair and solemn protesta­tions, they think he means nothing but well, and there are [Page 367] none but a company of precise people that are jealous of him, but I know what they intend and what their waies are what­soever colour they put upon them. Ephraim, that is, the great ones, the Princes, they perswade the people that Jerobo­am and his successors aim at nothing else but to reform things for the best, but I know that things are far otherwise, I know Ephraim.

Israel Israel is not hid from me] That is, the people, they pretend that they do but as they are taught, and they do but submit unto authority, they could be glad indeed if things were bet­ter, but some things m [...] be yeilded unto for peace-sake. ‘It is true, these Prophets and some others are good honest men, and they would have us to do otherwise, but things are not cleer yet, we cannot see but we may do this and this in case of necessity; that way they would have us go may bring us a great deal of trouble;’ Indeed what they say, seems to be like that which is in the Scripture, but then these and these inconveniences will follow; we should be glad if things were better r [...]formed according to the Word, but for peace-sake we must be contented to yeild to the judgment of such and such learned and wise men; and though we yeild to these and these things yet our hearts are right for God. But saith God, Israel is not hid from me.

Israel. That is, The base, cowardly, temporizing, revol­ting, superstitious spirits of the people, they are not hid from me, their being loth to come under my government, their love to their ease and estates, the lothness of their carnal hearts to venture and suffer any thing for my Truth and Ordi­nance [...]. Israel in these his distempers of heart is not hid from me: all these things are plain before Me, he may blind men and battle his own conscience, but he cannot hide it from me saith God.

From whence the observations are these.

Fi [...], Th [...]t Gods eye i [...] upon the se [...]rets of mens hearts, up n t [...]eir Obs. 1 aims, and plots, and all their w [...]ies.

Certainly therefore Hypocrites must needs be [...]; Use. 1 they that think to put off God with outward shews must [...]eeds [Page 368] deny God, as if God did not see the secret turnings and windings, and plottings, and contrivances, and aims, and ends of their hearts.

Use. 2 And then, O the patience of the infinite God, that not­withstanding he sees what villany there is in the world, colo­red over with Religious protestations and professions, yet [...]he bears with them. I know saith he, I know what all their ends are, what they aim at, and what they would have if once they get the day; yet I see that they colour and cover all these vile ends of theirs with such protestations of Religi­on and of setting up the profession of it.Patience of God. Oh the infinite pati­ence of God that can bear with men that colour such vile aims and ends with protestations and professions of Religion in such a sacred way as they seem to do! Here is the patience of God that we must admire at.

Use. 3 Again, God knows all the hearts and secret aims of men; Let us pray unto God to make our own hearts known to our selves. He knows them, and except we be upright in that, to be willing to know our own hearts, and unfeignedly to desire God that he would shew us our own hearts, we possibly after many duties performed may come to perish for some secret sin that we do not know our selves. I say, it is possible for a man or woman to go on a long time in the profession of Religion and to make conscience of all known duties, yet to perish at last for some sin that he doth not know in himself.

A hard s [...]ying.You will say, This is a hard thing, what shall become of us then?

To molifie this therefore a little, take this along with it, that is,Caution. Except thou hast a heart unfainedly willing to know thy own heart, willing to search into thine own heart, and earnest with God that He who knows thy heart would make thy heart known to thy self: If indeed thy heart be thus up­right that thou canst appeal unto God and say, Lord I know I have a vile and false and hypocritical heart, and there may be much evil lie secretly in my heart that I have not known all this while, and such evil as I may justly perish in it; but good Lord make it known to me, let me know the worst of [Page 369] my self, let me know the evil that is in me, and my purpose is to resist it; If thou hast such an heart, thou hast no cause to think that thou shalt perish for any evil that thou dost not know by thy self. But if thou hast any secret evil in thy self, and thou dost not in the uprightness of thy heart unfeignedly desire to know it that so thou maiest forsake it and get thy self rid of it, and canst not appeal unto God that thou art willing to have it made known unto thee, thy condition may be dangerous notwithstanding all the dutyes thou perfor­mest.

But further, This that the Prophet saith [I know Ephraim] is brought in to be a means to humble Ephraim, to humble Is­rael. From thence the Note is, That

Gods eye upon our hearts and waies, Obser. is a special means to humble us.

No more powerful means in the world to humble the heart than to behold God looking upon our hearts and waies. The discovery of our evil to others may be some means to humble us. O how would it abase men if God should discover to all their friends and acquaintance all that evil that is in their hearts. And hereafter at the great day of judgment when the secrets of all hearts shall come to be disclosed, how will the wicked and ungodly be abased before men and Angels! We reade of the adulterer in Job, [...]4.17. that the morning is unto them even as the shadow of death, and if any one know them they are then in the terrors of the shadow of death. Wicked men (especially adulterer [...] for it is spoken of them) they hate the light, and the morning is unto them as the sha­dow of death, and if they come once to be discovered they are terrified as with the shadow of death Now I argue thus, if the knowledg that me [...] h [...]ve of ou [...] sec [...]t wicked waies is so ter [...]ible unto a guil [...] con [...]nce, what is it then when this guilty conscience shall [...] apprehensions of the infinite God? He hath s en thee [...] ha [...]t been s [...]n [...] wretch in such an [...]n, in [...] T [...] in such a se [...]t place. He hath seen wh [...] thou [...] and plotted, yea what thou hast thought and plotted. Look upon God thus seeing thee and [Page 370] try if it will not humble thine heart. Oh labor to humble thy heart by this, How shie was I to know such a truth, how glad was I when I got such a thing out of my conscience, such a thing that would have put me upon that which I was loth to do? and whatever I pretended, love to my self to my case, to my estate, made me decline such a truth of God; and God saw all this. When we feel such base workings of our hearts, such plotting and contrivings of them for our own selves and for our carnal ends and aims, let u [...] cast our eye upon God and consider that his eye is upon us. Let u [...] conceive [...]s if we heard the voyce of God from Heaven saying unto us, ‘I know what you are plotting, I know what your aims are, I know the base workings of your spirits.’ Did we but apprehend God thus speaking from Heaven unto us, as here He speaks by the Prophet, I know Ephraim, and Israel is not bid from me, it would be a special means to humble our hearts for evil present, and to prevent evil for the future.

For now, O Ephraim, thou committest whoredom, and Israel is defiled.

Now] There is somewhat in this word, it is a great Em­phasis: Even still Ephraim goes on in wickedness; he hath gone on a great while, and even now when I am coming a­gainst him, even now he continueth in his wickedness. From thence the Note is:

Observ. God will [...]eal with men according to their present waies.

In what He finds them for the present, He will deal with them for that especially. Not but that when he finds them in evil for the present, He will call them to an account for al things that are past too; but He points Himself at them as they are in their present waies.

Use. I note this the rather, for this end, to shew unto sinners this useful le [...]on. ‘Whatsoever thou wast before, though thou hast continued a long time in thy wickedness, yet if thou hast but now a repenting heart to return unto God, there might be hope and help for thee.’ Oh consider this thou wretched sinner. As if God should say here, Ephraim hath [Page 371] continued wicked a long time, but if he had Now a heart to return unto me, it should be well with him, but Even now, to this very moment Ephraim committeth whoredom. So say I unto the vilest sinner in this place, whatsoever thou hast been, here is salvation if now at this instant thou hast a heart to turn to God; thou canst not tell whether God will ever give thee another Now; God gives thee [a NowA Now.] now, if thou re­turn now unto Him and repent and beleeve thou mayest be sa­ved: But if God come upon thee after this Exercise and find thee continuing in thy sinful waies, and say, Even Now, yet for all this this sinner continueth in his sin, this wil be a heavy thing indeed. So here he cometh upon Ephraim, Now Oh Ephraim! He makes an exclamation against him; O Ephraim after all the means that hath been used to recall thee, yet stil, O Ephraim thou continuest in thy Idolatry.

And, Ephraim, Thou committest wh [...]red [...]ms, Thou doest it, thy sin is greater in this continuing, for thou carriest the peo­ple with thee, and little hope there is of reformation till the great ones reforme; If Ephraim commit whoredom, Israel must needs be defiled, so it follows.

Israel is defiled.] There is a Twofold defilement of the peo­ple of Israel.

First, Defiled morally; that is, by th [...]ir wicked works:Defile­ment. 1. Moral. as here, by their murders, and thefts, and adulterie, that was before in Chap 4.

Secondly. Israel is de [...]ile [...]: that is,2. Spiri­tual. They defile My Wor­ship and that d [...]fileth the [...]. They have de [...] My Worship and by defiling My W [...]rship they come t [...] be defiled. And that I take to be especially meant here. Israel is d [...]f [...]led, that is, among other waies of defilement [...]ey mingle with Hea­then, and they bring them in to d [...] my Worship. In Isa. 47.6. God threatneth to defile His [...]anctuary, and to pollute His Inherit [...]ce: That is when is suffereth by His [...]ust [...]udg­ment, [...]dolaters and He [...] to come in [...] [...] Sanctuary, to mingle with His [...].

And then Israel is d [...] [...]n [...]her way: that is, Israel both mingleth his own inv [...]n [...]on [...] with my Worship & Israel d [...]th [Page 372] bring in or suffer the Heathen to come in to my worship and so my worship is defiled and they are defiled by defiling my worship. From whence the Note is, That

Obs. Defiled worship, exceedingly defiles the souls of people.

Nothing defileth the souls of men more than defiled wor­ship.Defiled worshid And among other defilements in worship, the mixing with wicked and ungodly men in waies of worship, the mix­ing with such as God would not have come into the waies of his worship.

Object. But you will say, Doth the mixing of wicked and ungodly men defile the worship of God, or defile others in it? Is the Sacrament of the Lords supper the worse if there be wicked men partake and mix in that worship? Am I the worse for it, or is the Sacrament the worse, is that worship defiled? How may we refer this defilement of Israel to our defilement at this time? Is there any Church in the world but hath wicked ones in it? And will you say that they are defiled and that the worship is defiled because there are wicked ones amongst them? Then we can go no wherein the world but we must be defiled, and the worship must be defiled?

Many men think they have a good argument of this, to say, all Churches are mixed, there is a mixture in the best Churches, therefore if mixtures make the Communion de­filed, then all are defiled. It comes fully in my way to speak a word or two of this, and it shall be but a word or two.

Answ, 1 First, I know none living on the earth hold any otherwise but that the best Church in the world may have wicked men creep in amongst them, and be amongst them. Who knows the hearts of men when they come in? and therefore the best Churches may have wicked men amongst them. This (I say) all men do hold; therefore this Objection, Will not there be wicked men in the best Church? can have no strength in it, for there is no man denies it, and therefore they that make it fight with a shadow.

Answ, 2 But secondly, I lay this, for another position, which I think all men whatsoever wil grant also, That the Sacrament is not defiled to the receivers meerly for the presence of wic­ked [Page 373] men there. I verily beleeve every one will grant this; I know none in the world for my part, denies this to be a truth, namely, that the Sacrament is not defiled to the right recei­vers of it, meerly because wicked men are present there. No man affirm [...] the contrary to this, but all that I know of, that are the strictest in the way of Church order and discipline will grant this to be a truth, that the Sacrament is not defiled to true receivers meerly because wicked men are there.

But what then, you will say? Quest. How shall we distinguish mix­ture of communion, or mixture of wors [...]ip?

Not meerly because wicked m [...]n are there. But first, then Answ. 1 a Congregation is defiled if they do not use the power that Christ hath given unto them. As he hath given a power un­to every Church (let the Church-state be what it will) to cast out all the scandalous persons that are amongst them. Now if this Church shal (under what pretence soever, as saying they have no power, or that the power is taken from them or the like) neglect the duty of it, viz to cast out those that are un­worthy then the Church cometh to be defiled,when, and how, a Church, and the cōmuni­on of it, is defiled by the pre­sence of wicked men. 2 Cor. 5. opened & aplied. and their com­munion to be defiled. So that their communion is not de­filed because the wicked are there, but because they neglect their duties of casting out the wicked from thence. For let a man be wicked, let him be a hypocrite, it is not the duty of the Church to cast out that hypocrite until he discover himself; but if that hypocrite discover himself, if then the Church perform not her duty as it ought in casting him out, then it cometh to be defiled. And the example of the incestious Co­rinth, in 2 Cor. 5. is a plain place for it; A little leaven (saith the Apostle) leaveneth the whol lamp. What is that lump there? It is the Church communion, and the leaven there is the ince­stious person; and the Apostle gives order to cast him out; now saith he, while this leaven continues, if you do not do your dutie to cast out this scandalo [...]s person, your [...] up, your whol communion will come to be defiled. So Churches come to be defiled.2. How pa [...]icular persons.

Again further, Not only Churches come to be defiled; but [Page 374] secondly, particular persons and communicants come to be defiled in this if they neglect the duty that belongs unto them as Christians. That is thus: Christ requires this, If thy bro­t [...]er offend thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone; but if he will not bear thee, then take with thee one or two more; And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the Church. Now if thou hast done this thy duty to all scandalous persons in the Con­gregation, then the sin be upon the Church, thou maist re­ceive the Sacrament with comfort though wicked men be ad­mitted there. So that though the communion be defiled, that is, defiled to those that are guilty, to those that have neglected their duty (wheresoever the power lies in a Church, whosoever in that Church neglects their duty of casting out those that offend, they defile the communion so farr as in them lieth, and if any of you that are particular mem­bers neglect your duties, so far as in you lieth the communi­on is defiled by you:) but if you do your duty once, then, though wicked men may be there, you may receive the Sacra­ment with comfort; For though the communion may be de­filed in respect of others that have neglected their duty, yet it is not defiled in respect of you that have done your duty. Now then, to conclude this with that place in Psal. 119.1. Blessed is the man that is undefiled in the way. Blessed are those men that in their way, in the course of their lives keep them­selves from defilement, and especially keep themselves from defilement in the waies of Gods worship. Blessed is he whose heart is cleansed from secret filth, that by the vain carnal plots reasonings and cunning fetches of wicked men he doth not defile himself in his way.

Again, A further Note from hence is this:

Obser. A defiled Nation near to ruin. A defiled Nation, is neer u [...] [...]n.

Israel is defiled (He spe [...] srael that is ready to fall, for so it follows verse 5. Israel a [...] Ephraim shall fall, and here just before he tels us, that Israel is defiled.) When cloathes are fil­thy and nasty and wil not be purged, are not worth the clean­sing,simile we usually cast them upon the dunghil; so when there is defilement and filth amongst a people and they will not be [Page 375] purged, and are grown even rotten in their filthiness, the Lord casteth them upon the dunghil.While a Nation is purging there is hope. simile While God is indeed purging of a Nation (I beseech you observe it) there is all that while hope of that Nation. As for example, though a piece of cloath be very soul, yet if you see the servants of the house washing that cloath, you will say, surely this piece of cloath is not intended for the dunghil: It is soul indeed and it is noisom, but you see there is care taken and cost bestowed upon it for the purging of it, and that is an argument that there is an intention for the preserving of it. So while the Lord is taking care and bestowing cost to purge a Nation, there is much hope that the Lord intends to save that Nation. And we may comfortably hope that this is Gods intention to­ward us. God knows we have been a defiled people, Uſe. England. and have defiled our selves; never a one of us but may lay his hand upon his heart and say, I have been defiled and so may deserve to be cast upon the dunghil. But behold, the Lord is bestowing cost upon us, and He is cleansing and pur­ging of us, and therefore we may hope that the Lord will not cast us off.

But no mervail that the Lord letteth us and our brethren lie abroad in frosty nights.Frosty­nights Many complain of much hard­ship, our brethren many of them are sent from their houses where they have had their beds and fire, and now are fain to lie in the fields in the cold. No marvail I say, this Nation hath been defiled. When cloathes are much defiled, it is not enough to wash them and rince them, but you lay them a­broad in frosty nights. Yea there are some defilements that cannot be taken away but by fire,Fire and if the Lord will not on­ly wash us and rince us and lay us abroad, but put us into the fire for to cleanse us at last, blessed be his Name. Israel is defiled.

VER. 4.

They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God.

HERE lies the evil. Though we be defiled, if God be about to cleanse us there is hope; but if the words that follow in this 4th verse, be applied unto us, then we are a lost people indeed. Israel i [...] d filed indeed, but Israel may be brought back again and reg [...]ned to the true worship of God; Oh no sait [...] God, Israel is not only defiled, but he will not fram [...] his doings to turn unto his God.

[...] He will not frame his d ings.] The word is very elegant, you have not such an expression (that I know of) in all the Scripture besides. Some readest,Hierom & vulg. Non d [...]bunt cogitationes, he will not give himself to think of such a thing, of turning un­to the Lord. AndMercer. others they turn it thus,Non dabunt operā. Castell. Non dabunt ope­ram, they will not do their endeavors to turn unto the Lord. And others,Tiemel. Non adhibent actiones, they do not apply any action or theirs any way to turn to the Lord. AndD [...]usius: non s [...]unt, n [...]n per­mittunt. Pagnin, Non permittent ope­ra sua. others, N [...]n permittunt opera, & facta sua; their custom in their waies of sin wil not suffer them to turn to the Lord. AndThe Septuag. Non dant stu­dium. Calv. Non adjicient stu­dia sua. others thus. [...], they give not their counsels, their stu [...]ies to turn to the Lord. These several translations I find of the word. And by all these together we may come to h [...]ve further light to know the meaning of the Spirit of God in th [...]se words; F [...]r the words are some what strange, there­fore we had need of several expressions to find out the sense of them.

Expos. 1 They w [...]ll not fr [...]me their doings.] They will not give their mind to turn to [...]he Lord, they will not put forth themselves into any po [...]ture that way.Though no ability to act but frō God, yet sin lies in our wills, ra­ther than in our power. It is true, we can do nothing with­out the Lord, but yet the sin lies in our wills rather than in our power, therfore the will is charged by God. They can­not turn unto G [...]d of themselves, but yet they may d [...] somwha [...], they m [...] bend their thoughts up [...]n it, they may think of it, they may attend up [...]n [...]he me [...]ns. But saith the holy Ghost, they wil do nothing tending that way, they will not so much as set them­selves [Page 377] into any kind of posture of turning unto me. This is to shew what little hope of good there wa [...] in them for time to to come. They are far enough from turning unto Me saith God, there is not so much as any inclination in them of tur­ning unto Me, they are fully bent another way; though they cannot do it of themselves, yet they will not so much as give their minds to think of what may be a means to do it. Israel will not frame his doings to turn unto his God.

As thus, First,What a natu­ral man may do toward conversion, by the light of nature, of the Scripture, of th [...] Ministry, and common works of the Spirit. 1. Consider his waies. He will not so much as set his heart to think of any thing that will bring him unto God. Not so much as to think thus, Are my waies right or not right? What if it should prove that my waies are not right, what shall become of me then? This were one degree of a peoples or a particular souls turning [...]nto God; if a man did but thus frame his doings to turn unto God; if he had but such thoughts as these, Lord, what am I doing? What is my way? Am I right or no? what if it should prove that my way were not right, what would become of me? This were somewhat. But saith God, they are far enough from any such thoughts to make any stop in their sinful course, they run on violently and he [...]dlesly, and will not so much as frame their thoughts and studies to turn unto Me.

But Secondly, Though a man cannot turn unto God,2. Willing to bear. yet through the common works of Gods Spirit he [...] do this, he may be willing to hear what i [...] s [...]id for the [...] he may c [...]n­sider whether there is s [...]rengt [...] in what is s [...]i [...] [...]: But saith he, they are carried on with pr [...]udice against the waies of God let what will be said, they will [...] [...]me themselves to hear any thing that is said for [...]ods waies and against theirs.

Thirdly, They will not s [...]t themselves b [...]fore God, 3. Wait in the use o [...] means. t [...] wait upon Him in the use of means for His Gr [...]e to turn unto Him. It i [...] [...] we are poor, weak, and ignorant creatur [...]s, but if we [...]ou [...] wait upon God to know His mind, if we would s [...] [...] [...]aces that way, it m [...]y be God will reveal further of hi [...] [...] [...]o u [...]. In Jer. 50.5. Whe [...] [...]od intendeth good unto [...] peo [...]le, it is promise [...], that they [...]ll [...]sk the w [...]y to [...]i [...]n, wit [...] [...] thitherward. A true repenting people and a repe [...] [...] [Page 378] will be enquiring after the waies of God with his face stan­ding thitherward. But saith God, they will not do so much as do this, they will not set themselves to enquire after the mind and wayes of God with their faces thither­ward.

4. Apply [...]he rule.Fourthly, Thy will not apply the rule of the word unto their a­ctions; but whatsoever they see will make for their own ends, that they will follow: but to take the rule and apply it unto their action [...] and waies, they reject that, they will not frame their doings so far.

5. Use the light and power they have in out­ward acts.Fiftly, What light they have they will not use that, so as to do the outward acts that that light doth direct to do, and what they have po­wer to do; As, not to break off gross offences, such things as they cannot possibly but see to be evil. As a people though they cannot fully turn unto God presently, yet there are some things that are so gross that they cannot possibly but see they are evil: saith God, they will not so much as break off from that; though they have power to reform that which they are convinced to be evil, but saith he, they will not im­prove that light which they have, what should they have more light for?

6. Joyn with the work or not oppose. But Rom. 8.7. it is said, The carnal minde is not subject to the law of God, not indeed can be.Sixtly, They will not joyn with the work of God; When he is in his way toward them, when he himself is about to frame them, when he hath them in his hand they will oppose Gods work, they will not join with it to frame themselves to turn unto God. Therefore in 2 Chron. 30.8. Hezekiah exhorteth the Priests and the people, that they should not be stiffnecked, but yeild themselves unto the Lord; mark, the yeilding of them­selves unto the Lord, is contrary to stiffneckedness. But now this people are stiffnecked, they will not yeild the [...]selves unto the Lord, though the Lord by his gracious works toward them be a framing of them to turn them unto himself, they oppose Gods work, they riggle and keep a stir and stand out against it:simile Just as when you have a child that you would fain frame to such a gesture, and you take him and put him into such a way; but now he is so far from doing of it, that he riggles up and down and will not suffer you to frame him; [Page 379] why faith God, I have been a framing of them my self, I have not only shewn them what they should do, but my works have been so toward them, that I have been framing them, but they are stiffnecked, they will not be framed, they will not joyn with my work in framing of them, they will break out in their wicked waie [...] even at that very time when I am framing of them to turn them unto my self;Hos. 7.1. opened. According unto that expression you have in Hos. 7.1. When I would have healed Israel, then the wick [...]dness of Samaria was discovered, that is, when I was about to turn them unto me, then, even at that time they break out in their violence and wickedness.

Seventhly,7. Not adhere to things re­ceived. Whatsoever means is used to turn them unto God, they will stick to their [...]ld customs, to their former waies, to what they have received from their forefathers, to what they have been brought up in, those they will keep to; but to frame themselves to turn unto the Lord, that they will not.

Lastly, What advantage they can have against the waies of God, 8. Not take ad­vantage against the waies of God. that they will take and improve to the uttermost. Those people that are against framing of themselves to turn unto the Lord when God is about to turn thē, they discover it in this thing, if at that time there be any disadvantage that their corrupt hearts can possibly take against the waies of God, they will take that and improve it to the uttermost they can; just as a child that you would frame to such a way, if it be an unto­ward child, he will take any advantage to give you the slip and to run from you:simile so it is with people that have no heart to turn unto the Lord, if they have any advantage in the world, they will take it, to harden their hearts against Gods waies. There is no preparation of their hearts, what then shall I do with them saith God? if their heart [...] [...]ere in any preparation it were somewhat, but they are n [...] We reade in 8 Chron. 20.2 Chron. 20.33. parallel'd that the high places were not tak [...]n away be­cause the people had not prepared their hearts to turn unto the Lord. It is all one with this expression in the text the people were not in a frame, in a teachable,Applic. to England, in a convertible dis­position. The Lord grant that this Scripture may not be [Page 380] true of us at this day, that the reason why there remaineth so much evil in Gods worship, is, because the people have not prepared their hearts, they do not frame their doings to turn unto the Lord, they do not seem to be in any posture that way. It was a charge upon Rehoboam, in 2 Chron. 12.14. That he did evil, Quest. Anſw. we ought to prepare our hearts see Anns. cas. comc. lib. 2. c. 4. bec [...]use he prepared not his heart to seek the Lord: But you will say, what power had he to turn unto the Lord, he was a wicked man? Yea but this wicked man though he had no sa­ving grace, yet he is charged for doing evil in that he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord. God therefore expects that people, though they are not able to turn unto him tho­roughly, yet they should be in a posture that way; And as a people in general, so every soul in particular.

Some that are not yet turned to the Lord, yet are in a way of turning, they are in a readiness to receive what God shall reaveal. This is a happy condition. If God shall see a Na­tion (though it be not fully reformed) ready to receive what he shall reveal, Oh this is a happy thing. As the Scripture speaks,Joh. 4.35. opened. that the regions were white unto the harvest, that is, there was a preparation in the hearts of people to receive the Gos­pel; if God shall see such a frame of heart in a people; it is true this people are not fully reformed, but their hearts are prepared, they are ready to imbrace what the mind of God is when it shall be revealed unto them, Oh that this might be said of thi [...] people, they are willing to entertain what God shall speak, they are listning to it!

God is about to bring us from a way of superstition, both the Works and the Word of God tend that way; but there are multitudes of people that will not frame their doings to turn unto the Lord, their spirits are perverse, they are full of prejudice, froward, and they hang off, and then we know they cannot be convinced. The Apostle Peter bids the Saints in Act. 2.40. save themselves from that untoward generation. Oh let not this charge be upon us, that we are an untoward generation, that God i [...] framing of us for good, but we will not frame our doings to turn unto the Lord: As we see a workman when he hath a piece of timber that is knotty and [Page 381] will not work in his hand, he casts it into the fire; or as clay simile 1 that is not well tempered it will not work in the hand of the workman, he many times casteth it away in an anger, it will simile 2 not work in my hand, what shall I do with it? The Lord is hewing of us by his Prophets, and seeking to frame this Na­tion to his will, Oh let us work in Gods hand, let us joyn with the work of God, and yeild our selves to the work of God, that the Lord may not cast us into the fire.

If we will not frame our doings to turn unto the Lord, he may break us, break that frame that we raise in our own ima­ginations: perhaps we are framing to our selves a strange kind of Common-wealth,State-de­signs. to enjoy our ease and honors and prosperity, and so we build Castles in the air. Oh but let us rather frame our hearts to turn unto the Lord. If we will not frame God may put us into the fire again. A workman you know puts the Iron into the fire because it might be fra­med to such a work as he would have it,simile but still the iron is hard and it will not frame to his hand, then he puts it into the fire again and then falleth a knocking again: So the Lord hath begun to put us into the fire that we may frame our doings to turn unto him, and if the fire we have been in will not bring our hearts to a framable disposition, the Lord may put us into the fire again and again. And let not us com­plain of the heat of Gods fire, but rather let us complain of the unframableness of our own hearts, that we do not frame our doings so as to turn unto the Lord.

But yet through Gods mercy we cannot say but that there are many in Parliament, many in the Assembly,Parliam. Assembly City, Country. many in the City, and many in the Country that are framing themselves to turn unto the Lord; and so far we are gone; Let us take notice of Gods goodness therefore. As.

First, It is one argument of a people framing themselves,Notes of Framing. 1. abolish what is sinful. that they have abolished what is sinful. It was a great plea a­mong us, first let us know what we shall have, and then we will cast out this that we have. This was a ple [...] fomented by the Antichristian party; but certainly it was the way of God; and we have cause to bless God for it that put it into the heart [Page 382] of the Parliament and of the Kingdom, to be willing to put down and to cast out (and that by a solemn Oath, by lifting up hands unto the most High God) whatsoever was naught.The Co­venant.

And further, In that the Parliament hath called an AssemblyAssembly (such as I beleeve never yet was in this Nation, nor scarce in a­ny other Nation) men of more gravity,2. Take advice. and judgment, and holiness, such as they could possibly pick out and whom they thought might best direct them in the waies of God, such they have chosen to help them to know what is the right way of God; and they do profess that whatsoever shall be revea­led to be the way of God, they will walk in it. That is a good frame of heart.

And then, That the Assembly hath begun with a solemn day of humiliation,3. Humi­liation. to humble themselves before God that so the Lord might guide them in chusing a right way to direct those that had called them together for their assistance. There was never such a work in England before that was begun with such a day of humiliation. Did your ConvocationConvo­cation. e­ver keep such a day unto God to beg of him directions in the work.

Peoples discontent.Let not people run away with thoughts of discontent, or lay any kind of slanders and clumnies upon them, because of some failings in particulars: for you must know when God looks upon Kingdoms and States,God looks not at par­ticular fai­lings of a State, but at the pub­lick work. he doth not so much look at particulars as at the publick work; Now that there is so much done in a publick way, that there is so much framable­ness, though there be much failing in particulars, yet we have cause to bless God. It is true, those that would fain have a perfect Reformation they woul fain have men throughly frame themselves presently, and set up all presently without any more ado,Short spirits. and banish all presently. I suppose thi [...] co­meth from a good intention, from love unto Christ and his Ordinances: but we must know it is not so easie to reform a whol Nation that hath been so corrupted and defiled; there­fore though there be not so perfect a Reformation at present, yet let us bless God for what is done, that there is so much [Page 383] framing of the doings of the Nation to turn unto the Lord, and not murmur and repine because all is not done that we desire.

And though perhaps they may never bring the work tho­roughly to the pitch we desire,Though no perfection, yet a foun­dation for posterity yet I make no question but what the Parliament and Assembly hath done, will be enough to lay a foundation for another generation, if they bring it not to perfection themselves. Oh that the Lord would yet further frame our hearts and doings to turn unto him!

Hath God at any time put into your heart a framable dis­position to turn unto the Lord?Applic. 2 to partic. persons. 1. Our selves Hath God begun to make you think of your waies? Hath he begun to stir fear in your hearts concerning your eternal estate? Hath he wrought in you some desires to know him, to attend upon him in the use of means? Make much of this framable disposition, for it is ve­ry much pleasing unto God; God complains where it is not, therefore he likes it where it is, and improve it: O happy had it been with many had they improved that framable dis­position that God hath wrought in them. Cannot you re­member when sometimes you came to the word what a mel­ting frame of spirit had you? and in such an affliction you were as iron put into the fire (and you know then it is in a framable disposition to be brought into any fashion) and hath it not been so with you?simile But what is become of this dispositi­on? Is it not worse with you now than before? Have you not lost it? The time was when the word wrought upon you, and you have had good desires and dispositions, and you have thought, Oh now I hope God will turn me unto himself; Now I hope I shall never be at such a pass again as I have been; and thou begannest to abandon such and such a cor­ruption. This was a good frame, and now if you had gone alone and sought God, and Oh that the Lord would perfect this work and put it on, and so improved this framable dis­position, it had been well with you; but you have fallen up­on other business, and gone into company, and it may be up­on the next temptation you have bin overcome & your hearts [Page 384] have been hardned,Ir [...]n is h [...]d [...]r af­te [...] quen­ching. and iron you know, when it hath been once in the fire and is grown cold, is more unframable than before; so it is with many, after they have had some wor­kings by the Word and after some melting by affliction, they have been more unframable than they were before.

And let us make much of it likewise in others. Is there a­ny friend, or child, or kinsman, or acquaintance of yours brought into this framable disposition? doth the Lord begin to melt them, to soften their hearts? Is the Lord by such a Sermon or by such an affliction beginning to work upon them?Satan Oh let me put it on as much as I can. The Devil doth so, when he see, us in a framable disposition to sin, he setteth tempters on work to improve it; and we know it was the way of Idolaters,Idolaters when they saw England in a framable dis­position to Idolatry, what abundance were sent amongst us to improve it. Oh the mercy of God toward England, that when we were framing our doings to return to Idolatry, the Lord cometh and putteth the frame of England more from thence than before it was! Oh let not us lose this framable­ness; though it is not so much as we desire, yet let not us lose what it is. England would be in a lamentable con­dition if it should lose what it hath got from God al­ready.

Yet further, They will not frame their doings.] The Note from hence is, That

Obser.
Apostates seldom have any inclination to turn unto God.

No meltings of spirit, no yeildings, but their hearts are hardned, and they depart further and further from God (for so he speaks of Israel as an apostatizing people.) I dare almost challenge you all; when did you ever know a notorious A­postate 1 turn unto God? very rarely: (I will not say it is im­possible) 2 but especially for Apostates that are men of parts 3 and have gone far from God, if they have but proceeded so far as to turn to be persecutors of the truth, or contemners of it, (as these Israelites here were) when did you ever know any of them to turn unto God. They will not frame their doings.

To turn unto their God.] Their God: 1. By profession. 2. Their God who hath shewed much mercy to them, and hath done them much good. 3. Their God who is yet willing to be their God. They will not return unto Him.

This is the aggravation of their sin, that they will not turn to such a God. What, not turn unto Him whom they pro­fess to be theirs, whom they flatter with their mouthes, and they say that all their good and happiness is in Him? Not to Him that hath done so much good as He hath done to them all their daies? Not to Him who is yet willing to be reconci­led unto them? O this is a sore and bitter evil indeed that they will not turn unto this God.

But yet there is a furth [...]r thing observable here, [Their God] that is this; That

True repentance, it is not only to leave evil and to do good,
Observ. True re­pentance to turn to as our God.
but to turn unto God as our God.

To turn unto God as a God in covenant with us; as a God in whom is our portion and happiness; as a God willing to be reconciled. Here indeed is the very formality of repentance. A man may by the terors of the Law turn from the practice of a sin, not to live wickedly so as he hath don heretofore; he may by the strength of natural conscience and self ends, set upon good duties, but here is no true repentance. True repentance is this, When we look upon God as a God tendring Himself unto us in the way of a covenant in Christ, and so we turn unto Him. In Jer. 3.22.Jer. 3.22. explained Return ye back-sliding Israel (saith the Lord) and I will heal your back-sliding. Now mark the answer of true penitents; Behold we come unto thee, for thou art the Lord our God. Here is true repentance. When God shall call upon a sinner, O wretched vile sinner, return, O return unto the Lord, for He is willing to be your God in an everlasting covenant, He manifesteth His grace toward you in His Son, and offereth mercy there, yea He is willing to heal all your backslidings, He is willing to be your portion, He i [...] willing to be the hap­piness of your souls: When a sinner shall answer unto this cal of God, B [...]hold we come unto Thee, for Thou art the Lord our God; True indeed, we have sought after vanity, but here [Page 386] is not our happiness and our portion; Our good, our happi­ness is in Thee; We come unto Thee the Lord our God. It follows.

For the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of her.

Here is the reason why they turn not unto the Lord, The spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of her.

Expos. 1 First, That evil unclean spirit that did possess them. So I find divers do take the words. And then the Note is, That Obser. The dan­ger of forsaking the truth.It is Gods just judgement to give men over to the Devil to be blinded and hard [...]ed, when they s [...]all forsake Him and His Truth.’

Do not excuse thy sin by saying it is the Devil that tempts thee, for this may prove to be the agravation of thy sin, that by the just judgment of God thou art now given up to be under the power of the Devil and to be acted by him. As in Eph. 2.2. the scripture speaks of the miserable estate that men are in by nature, Dead in sin, the children of wrath, and amongst o­ther aggravations of their misery this is not the least, they walk according to the spirit that now work [...]th in the children of disobedi­ence. The word translated working, there, [...], signifies the greatest activity that can be; the spirit, that is, the unclean spirit,Satans temptati­on may be an ag­gravation of our sin. the prince of the power of the air that now worketh in those children of disobedience. This is an aggravation of their misery and not any excuse unto them for their sin. Thou hast rejected the good Spirit, the holy Spirit of God, and now the spirit of whoredome, an unclean vile spirit hath possest thee.

Expos. 2 But rather thus, The spirit of whoredoms: A violent inclina­tion of spirit unto uncleanness, to spiritual and bodily un­cleanness, that they have got by custom. We have had this phrase before, in Chap. 4.11. The spirit of fornication; that im­petus of spirit, that violent inclination of spirit. So then, saith the Prophet, they will not turn unto the Lord, for there is a violent inclination of spirit, an impetus with which they are carried on in the waies of wickedness, but there is little [Page 387] hope of turning them unto God. The spirit of whoredoms, that is, that efficacy that there is in that wicked disposition of their hearts that carries them on so violently. In 2 Thes. 2.11.2 Thess. 2.11. the Scripture saith, that because men love not the truth the Lord gives them up unto the efficacy of error; God (saith he) for this cause shall send them strong delusions that they should beleeve a lye; so it is in your translations, but the words, [...], sig­nifie the greatest active efficacy of errours, to carry on with the greatest strength unto error that possibly may be. We find sometimes men that are carried on to erronious opinions, and come to speak with them about them, and you shall perceive such an impetus of spirit, such an efficacy of the error in them,Note that it doth so hurry on their hearts, that they cannot with a, ny calmness, with any quietness of spirit hearken unto any thing that may take them off from their errour. That's a spirit of errour, God gives them up to the efficacy, the spirit, the activity, the power of error, to beleeve a lye.

Is in the [...]lst of them] That is,Exposit. Difference of obss [...]ssion and posses­sion ay Sa­tan in re­spect of sin. it is come into them and sit­teth as a King and ruleth in their hearts. An evil spirit may beset the godly, may compass them about, but it getteth not into the midst o [...] them, they keep it out from the throne, it doth not come to reign over them. The coming into the midst of them, noteth the ful possession that this unclean spirit, that this Impetus and strong inclination of spirit hath over them. And therefore, you find in Prov. 8.20.Pro. 8.20. opened, that it is said of Wisdom, I leade in the way of righteous [...]ess, in the midst of the paths of judgment. [In the midst of the paths] that is, wisdom doth not only bring men to the verge of Gods waies, to be a little taken with the outside of them; but brings them into the midst of the paths of judgment, that is, they come wholly in­to them, so as t [...]y are even possest of them. So here, the spi­rit of uncl [...]nness is in the midst of her. So in the 1. Sam. 4.3. you have the same word, Let us fetch the Ark unto us (say they there) that when it cometh among w it may save us, [...] the words in the Hebrew are, that [...]he Ark m [...]y come in the midst of us, and there have the full opp [...]ation to d [...] us good and save us. They depended much upon the Ark, and yet it failed them. By the [Page 388] way then, we may depend too much upon a good cause, the cause may be good,A good cause may be lost by too much depending on it. and yet depending upon the goodness of the cause and neglecting our own persons in reforming our lives we may fail as they did here: (But that by the way.)

The spirit is come into the midst of them. Many men receive an evil spirit quickly into the midst of them, when God knows the good Spirit of the Lord standeth knocking at the door of their hearts, and can have no entertainment so much as into the outward room. It follows.

Exposit. And they have not known the Lord.] That is, they know not My greatness, My holiness, they know not what a jealous God I am. Idolaters have low and mean apprehensions of God. The right knowledg of God will put the heart upon seeking after the right manner of the worship of God: but when men know not God, see not God in his glory and great­ness and excellency, they think to put off God with any kind of worship. Here is the reason that men do so stick to their own waies, to will worship, to their own fancies and conceits, because they know not the Lord, neither do they understand the glory and holiness of God, nor what a jea­lous God he is. When once the soul cometh to know what God is, such a soul dares not tender up unto God any worship but His own.

Now from the connection of these words, The spirit of whore­dom is in the midst of her, and they have not known the Lord, the spe­cial Note is this, which indeed is very observable.

Obser. strong in­clinations blind the mind. When men have an Impetus of spirit (that is, a strong bent and in­clination of spirit) in any evil way, it is that which blinds their minds.

The spirit of whoredoms is in her; and then follows, they have not known the Lord: Whatsoever is said then against their way they cannot be convinced of it. And men do not consi­der how they come to be blinded. We find it in ordinary ex­perience, when men are stirred in passion, they have a spirit to such and such a thing that they have a mind to, their spirit is strongly set, and they must have it, and I will, and I will, and I will have it; Come then and say any thing to them and they understand nothing, they are blinded: When their spi­rit [Page 389] is up, when there is an Impetus, a strong inclination of spi­rit to any thing, say what you will they do not understand you. So it is true in other affections (of love) when the heart is set upon a thing, to love by an Impetus, a strong bent of spirit, though the love be falsly placed, come and say what you will against their way, they do not understand it, their minds are blinded, they do not know any thing. So it is true of fear, of sorrow, any affection, when it is set with a strong bent and inclination to the object of it, it doth much blind the mind. Some have a spirit of sluggishness and they love their ease; a spirit of covetousness and they must have their estates; a spi­rit of ambition and they must have their honor and respect; a spirit of pride and self-love & they must not yeild themselves as ignorant and mistaken by no means; therefore they can­not see the truths, the waies of God. But now let God hum­ble these men that have such a spirit of pride, self love, cove­tousness and the like, let the edg of their spirits be taken off,A little hint of Truth prevails with a subdued heart. let God come and but mortifie this their lust in them, and then they come to see that which they could never see before, and that with far less ado; then a little hint of any truth prevai­leth with their hearts; whereas before all the means of con­viction could not do it.

Oh my brethren! Use. when we come to examin truths let us look to our spirits, Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord, him will the Lord teach in his way that he should chuse. When a man humbling his soule before the Lord, and being jealous of his own spirit, examineth a truth; and crieth unto God to subdue what is evil in him, and then cometh with a teachable heart to find out the truth; suppose that yet he cannot find it; let such a man walk according to his light, whereunto he hath attained, and he may have comfort, God in due time will shew him more. But that is the thing that is evil in Gods eyes, and in the eyes of the Saints, when men are hindered from seeing a truth, by a spirit of opposition to it. There is no gracious heart can take it ill, if he see one that hath a spirit subject unto God, a spirit wherein the fear of God appeareth, so that he desireth unfeignedly to know what [Page 390] the mind of God is; suppose this man for the present I cannot make him understand what I would, he is not of my mind; yet so long as his spirit is thus under God, I have no cause to be provoked against him, but in all love and meekness and gentleness to deal with such an one, and expect that God in due time will reveal himself unto him. But now when any one cometh and will make profession that they desire to know the truths of God and what his mind is? but when it appea­reth that there is a spirit of opposition, pride, a vain glorious a vain spirit; Oh this is it (I say) which is grievous, is tedi­ous in the eyes of God and of his Saints. It follows.

VER. 5.

And the Pride of Israel doth testifie to his face.

MArk another connexion here. As there is a connexion of a spirit of whoredom and not knowing God, so there is a connection of not knowing God and of the pride of Israel.A double connexiō of the Text. Obser. Ignorance and pride companions They know not the Lord, and the pride of Israel doth testifie to his face. From whence the Note is this, That ‘Ignorance and Pride useth to go together.’

There is no men so conceited of their knowledg as many ig­norant men are: For the truth is, where there is knowledge there a man sees that he knows but little, and he is able to dis­cover his own ignorance; but an ignorant man is not able to discover his own ignorance, and therefore usually he is proud. You shall have many men and women too, that will pretend such abundance of knowledg, and their hearts are puffed up, because they have got some expressions more than others have, as if they were somebody, & had some manifesta­tions of things to them more than others have; yet come and examin things at the bottom, & the truth is they are ignorant of the very principles of Religion. 1 Tim. 6.4.1 Tim. 6.4 applied. He is proud, knowing nothing saith the text, and yet he speaks of those that are full of vain questions and janglings about matters of Reli­gion, that will come with such objections and curiosities of questions, yet the holy Ghost saith he is proud and knows no­thing. [Page 391] And certainly the man that is there spoken of is a man as much conceited of his knowledg as you can conceive a man to be, as appears plainly in the text.

But now wisdom and humility,Use from the con­trary. they likewise go together too. Prov. 11.2. With the lowly is wisdom. If the heart be brought under God, put in a gracious, humble, lowly frame, with the lowly there is wisdom, the Lord delighteth to reveal him­self to the humble.

The pride of Israel doth testifie to his face.] The Seventy they reade the words otherwise than you have them in your books. [...]. The injury and the wrong that Israel hath done unto God, shall be brought down, shall be humbled: for I suppose their meaning in that translation i [...] this, that whereas Israel by his wicked waies hath wronged God, hath been injurious unto God, he shall be humbled for it, he shall be brought down and made to know what it is for him to wrong God so as he hath done. And indeed those that do corrupt Gods worship they are the greatest wrongers of God in the world,Obser. they do the greatest injury unto God that can be.

But we may safely keep unto that which is translated in your books,The English reading. as more suitable to the Original than that of the Seventy, and then the Note is this, That

Idolaters are proud men, and Idolatry is a proud sin.
Obs. Id [...]la­ters proud men.

For that is the scope of the Prophet here, chiefly to rebuke them for their false worship; though he speaks of other sins yet that is the main; O the pride of Israel doth testifie to his face; Israel they will have their own way of worship and forsake God, O proud hearts that they have! Idolatry is a proud sin. In all disobedience against God there is much pride: pride is not only in cloathes and in fine things, but in disobedience a­gainst God, there is the pride of the heart; And as in all sin there is pride, so in a more peculiar manner in the sin of Idola­try. As,

First, Idolaters in their way,1. The despi­sing the true worship of God. they look upon the true wor­ship of God as a mean thing, as a thing below them, beneath them. Oh their way of worship is the pompous, brave, and gallant way; but for the true worship of God that is poor, [Page 392] low and mean. All your superstitious and Idolatrous people look thus upon the simplicity of the waies and worship of God.

2. They put more on the creature than God hath put. Places.Secondly, And then there is pride in it in this, That a wretched worm should dare to presume to put more upon a creature than God hath ever done, to put more upon places than God and nature hath ever done. God hath made them thus and thus, but I will put them higher than God hath done, I will put an excellency, a spiritual excellency, a divine excellency upon them; for so Idolaters take upon themselves to do, and this is horrible pride.

3. They prescribe God in worship.Thirdly, It is pride, because they presume to prescribe God which way he shall be worshiped. The worship of God is the dearest thing he hath in the world; and for any crea­ture to take upon him to prescribe which way he shall be worshiped, this is the most notorious pride in the world.

4. Honor their own because theirs.Lastly, Herein appeareth the pride of Idolatry, that it ho­nors what is a mans own because it is his own, rather than what is Gods. Do not you see it apparantly in all superstiti­ous Idolatrous people? As in that one thing of daies. God hath set one day apart for the honoring of himself and for the celebrating both of the birth,Lords. day. death, resurrection and as­cension of Jesus Christ and of the whol work of our redempti­on. How is that day slighted, neglected, made nothing of! But what a horrible wickedness is it accounted not to keep that which man setteth apart by himself,Holy daies. that day which is a mans own! Men will set apart a day for the honor of Christ, and Oh Christ will be quite forgotten if that day be forgot­ten; and Christ is much dishonored if that day be not regar­ded. I appeal unto you, Who sets it apart? whose is it? Is it Gods or is it yours? Gods? Certainly if there were such a thing so acceptable unto God as men take it to be, we should have some little hint, somewhat in the book of God of such a thing. We have the story of all the Acts of the Apostles, what they did in several places, and there is not the least mention of any such thing, of their honoring Christ, by setting a day [Page 393] apart for the celebration of his nativity: We have the Epi­stles unto several Churches upon several occasions, and we find no notice that they ever took of any such thing in any Church they established. Surely therefore it is mens own, there is nothing in Gods Word for it how highly soever it is honored. But we have enough in Scripture for Gods own day, the Lords day, and it is appointed by God himself to be a day of thanksgiving for the birth, resurrection, and as­cension of Christ, and for the whol work of our redemption altogether; But man, he out of his pride will have another day and so set his post by Gods post; he thinks it is not honor enough unto Christ to put the celebration of his birth, death, resurrection, ascension, all together in one day; no, he thinks it is more for the honor of Christ to have several daies, one for his birth, another for his resurrection, & another for his ascen­sion; whereas God hath put all into one, and would have his Son to be honored by the observation of that one day.

The pride of Israel doth testifie to his face.

Testifie.] In the Original it is, answereth to his face, [...] When any thing i [...] returned suitable to its work, that is said to an­swer that work: that is thus; when the ground brings forth Corn for the husbandman, then it answereth unto the seed and labor of the husbandman. Gen. 30.33. My righteousness shall answer for me saith Jacob to Laban, I shall have that which is suitable to my righteousness. So here, the pride of Israel an­swereth to his face (so you may reade it) that is, the fruit of Expos. 1 their pride shall be (in the punishment of it) fully answera­ble unto the sinfulness of it: so I find many turn it. Mic. 1.2. Let the Lord be witness against you, (testifie against you, it is the same word) or answer you according unto your sins, in the way of punishment; that's the meaning. When the Lord bringeth judgments suitable unto, and full up to mens sins, those judgments do answer to mens sins; yea and they witness against them, they witness to the faces of those men the guilt of those sins.

Well, but we will rather take it (and so it is to be I think) according to what you reade in your books, The pride of Israel [Page 394] Expos. 2 doth testifie to his face: that is, the pride that doth appear in Israel doth fully te [...]ifie that horrible wickedness, stoutness, ob­stinacy that is in Israel, it testifies it to his face. Israel is a stout and an obstinate sinner, and his heart is very wicked, vile, and abominable against God; How do you prove that? His pride that manifesteth it self outwardly doth testifie this his inward wickedness. It is true, you cannot see the heart; but pride doth use to discover it self; pride in the heart seldome lies there long secret; for that is a sin that must be above-board; pride must vent it self; it is the glory of that sin to vent it self; Now that coming and venting it self, what doth it but wit­ness to the face of the sinner what vileness and wickedness is in his heart? You could not see the vileness & wickednes that was in his heart before; but now here thi [...] sin [Pride] that is sent out (and pride is a foolish sin it cannot keep in) and that coming forth it is a loud witness against him of that filth, vile­ness, stoutness, and obstinacie that there is in the heart of this sinner.

There is a secret pride, and a witnessing pride. Isa. 3.9. The shew of their countenance doth wi ness against them, Isa. 3.9. opened. and they de­clare their sin like Sodom; they manifest it outwardly in their very countenance: It is taken from harlots, some harlots that are at first departed from their husbands, they keep things very secretly, and you shal perceive them very demure in their countenance, but at length they come to be bold and impudent in their filthiness, and you may perceive adultery in their very countenance; and they witness apparantly in their words and countenances what the wickedness of their hearts is.Pride dis­covers much sin within. As that sin of adultery, so almost all sins are wit­nessed where pride is discovered. No sin disgraceth men more than pride, and that is the curse of God upon this sin; pride seeks for the greatest honor to a man, and there is nothing that doth more dishonor him; Why? because pride doth testifie that there is a woful deal of evil in that mans heart. As I will instance a little.

A man that differs in judgment from his brethren in divers things; he differeth and he pretendeth this, he cannot see the [Page 395] truth of God which he would fain see; he cannot do as his brother for his conscience bindeth him otherwise.How to dis­cern differing from others out of pride or conscience But you will say, every man pleads conscience, how shall we know whether it be the stoutness of his heart or the tenderness of his conscience? Thus, If this man behaveth himself humbly, and the rather humbly in all other things because he cannot see what his brother doth in such and such particulars, and so is in danger to be an offence to his brother, and therefore his soul is humbled: This is a good witness that it is meer con­science and not stoutness that makes him differ. But now if his behavior be high and proud when he differeth from his brother, he doth not take it to be an affliction to him that he cannot see what his brotheror that his brother doth not see what he doth. This passage must be un­derstood, 1 Of lesser diffe­rences. 2. Not absolutely nor alwaies, but in things where­in one is not cleer; for if he be, he can­not but think it is at least weakness in that particu­lar (though in others hee may judg him stronger than himself) that he doth not see the same with him. doth, but censureth him and thinks that it is either through his weaknes [...] or through his wilfulness, that he will not see, and so carries himself high and proudly before his brother, this witnesseth to his face that it is stubborness and singularity. Thus his pride testi­fies to his face the inward wickedness of his heart.

And as in a Church, this is a principle and maxim, That though a man be guilty of many and great sins, yet he is not to be cast out but upon obstinacy. You will say how shall we know that, for obstinacy is in a mans heart? I know many observe such and such rules for it, as, if you do not reform when such and such learned men tell you what they would do &c. But we have another rule; if after an offence and admonition there be a proud behaviour of any one in a Con­gregation, if he carries himself proudly; this his proud be­havior witnesseth to his face that it is not out of tenderness or scruple of conscience that he yeildeth nor to what his brethren would have him, but through the stoutness of his heart. His pride testifieth to his face.

O the pride of mens hearts witnesseth much against them. I remember I have read in Beda a story of a Synod, an Assem­bly of Divines that were in England, Austin the Monk. in the time of Austin that was then Bishop of Canterbury; And they assembling together they go to a holy man, an Anchorite, to advise with him whe­ther they should yeild to what Austin did impose upon them? [Page 396] (who was then the Arch Bishop) This holy man answereth 1 them, If he be a man of God yeeld unto him, if not stand out against him. They reply, A man of God? How shall we know that, whether he be a man of God or no? He answers, 2 If he be humble; for Jesus Christ saith, Learn of me, for I am meek and humble in heart: if he be an humble man, he is a man of God saith he, and then learn of him. But how 3 shall we know that say they? He answers, You shall perceive it by his behaviour; when he i [...] come to the place of assembly, let him be there before you, if you perceive him to beh [...]ve himself churlishly, imperiously, proudly, not so much as to rise to you, to give no respect to you, then take it for granted that he is a proud man and reject what he imposeth; but if he behave himself meekly, humbly, and lowly to you, then re­gard what he saith. So when they came to the Assembly, Au­stin he sitteth in his chair in a proud imperious way and would not stir to any of them: upon that they rejected what­soever he said, for according to the counsel of that holy man, his pride did witness to his face that he had a vile and a wic­ked heart and did not come unto them in the Name of Christ.

HumilityOh it is much that is to be regarded that comes from those that are humble and lowly. Humility doth witness to the face of a man that he doth know much of the mind of Christ; and pride witnesseth to the face of a man that he is not acquainted with the mind of Christ.

Expos. 2. [...] Livelius.The word here translated [Pride] I find by a learned Inter­preter, Livelius, that because in it self it signifies Excellency, he thinks it to meant of God, who sweareth by the Excellency of Jacob, Amos. 8.5. and so he carries it thus, That God who is the Excellency of Israel, in whom Israel should glory, it is He that doth witness against them. And I find some inclinable to this. But the other I conceive rather to be the scope of the Holy Ghost, taking the word as it i [...] translated for Pride, and the testifying to his face, for an open witnessing, apparantly wit­nessing, so as it may easily be seen. It follows.

Therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity.

Ephraim, is the Princes of Israel, they were proud because of the honor they had: And Israel, the People, they were proud because they had great men to bear them out, and they could plead Authority for what they did. But they shall both fall, both Ephraim and Israel. The Note is, That ‘The fruit of sin is casting down.Obser.

It is rather here said, They shall fall, than that they shall be pun­nished, in reference unto what went before; for before, he speaks of the pride of Israel, and from thence a further Note is, That ‘Pride goes before a fall.Obser.

God will cast down the proud,Pride be­fore a fall, and certainly when those that are proud fall they must needs fall very low because a proud man lifteth up himself so high, and you know accor­ding to the height a thing falls from so i [...] the fall of it: now a proud man lifts up himself on high,Proud mē fall low. so high indeed as he lifts himself up above God, therefore he must needs fall down very low: And upon that I remember Bernard hath this Note,Bernards wity speech Here is the reason (saith he) why a proud man can have no grace, from God; why? God is the fountain of grace, and it is a rule in nature that the stream that cometh from a fountain, it ascendeth no higher than the top of the fountain is. (You may find it in all Aquaeducts, according to the height of the fountain so high may the stream be carried, but it will go no higher.) Now saith he, God being the fountain of all grace, surely grace cannot rise higher than God himself; but a proud man lifteth himself above God, therefore he is above grace, grace cannot reach him.

1. A proud man goe [...] from God,Prid goes 1. from God. as if he could live without him: for that is the pride of mens hearts, when they have out­ward prosperity they go from God as if they could live with­out him.

2. He goeth against God,2. against him. as if he were able to resist him.

3. [...] and [...]m.3. He goeth beyond God, [...]a [...] if he made himself the end of all his actions.

4. above him.4. He lifteth up himself above God, as if there were more excellency in him than in God. He lifteth up his will above God, and that two waies:

1. Saith he, My will shall be followed rather than Gods.

2. Whereas God is contented to have his will only in just and good things; saith a proud man, I will have my will whether it be just,But it is just be­cause God wills it. whether it be good or no. Come and deal with a proud man and say, do you well in this? Is this fit? I will have my will saith he. This is more than God chal­lengeth unto himself. God will have his will in nothing but in that which is good and just; thou wilt have thy will whether it be just or no: thus thou goest beyond God and liftest up thy self above him, therefore surely thou shalt fall.

I need not shew you any example of the falling of proud men.Applic. This our age manifesteth it cleerly enough. How hath God cast dirt upon proud superstitious men? You know what a height of pride they were grown to two or three yeers since; and now two Kingdoms if not three have lifted up their hands to the most high God to extirpate them. Their pride did testifie to their faces, and no mervail that they are fallen; and the Lord cast them so far down as they may ne­ver be able to rise up in their pride again!

Ephraim and Israel shall fall in their iniquity.

[...] In their iniquity.] The Hebrew [Ba] signifies for, as well as in: fall for their iniquity, as well as in their iniquity. But to Expos. 1 keep to the word, They shall fall in their iniquity. Surely they Expos. 2 fall hard who fall in their iniquity, they fall so as to break their bones, yea oft times their necks.

Use. My brethren, these are falling times, let us labor to remove our iniquities beforehand, and then if we fall we shall fall soft and not hard. If we fall in our iniquities we shall fall hard; but if our iniquities be removed by faith and repen­tance, though we should fall in these times, yet we shall fall into the bosom of our Father and into the arms of Jesus Christ. How much better is it seeing that men are like to fal, [Page 399] to take such a course before their fall cometh, that when they do fall they may fall soft, fall into the bosom of their Father and into the arms of Jesus Christ, and not fall in their iniqui­ty; And if we fall thus, if our fall be not in our iniquity, but in the cause of God, and rather for our grace than for our iniquity, then we may be of more use in our fall than we were in our standing. As it is with the Corn,simile the Corn that falls into the ground doth fructifie, and is of more use when it is fallen than it was when it was in the granary;Young men fal­len in this war. And so many godly men, many young ones that are fallen within these two or three yeers, (but God knows it hath not been in or for their iniquity, but in the Cause of God and in the ex­ercise of their graces) they are fallen, but they are fallen into the arms of God, and into the bosom of Christ, and they are as fruitful in their fall as they were in their standing, for no question but there is much fruit to be reaped from their falls, and God hath a plentiful harvest for England that will come out of their falls.

Judah also shall fall with them.] Mark,Exposit. first Ephraim shall fall and then Judah, for indeed Ephraim was first in sin; the ten Tribes they first forsake the true worship of God and they brought in Judah together with them, and the text saith, that Judah shall fall with them. This is here mentioned to ag­gravate Ephraims sin and the judgment of it, thus. Oh this shall lie heavy upon Ephraim one day, that not only he hath ruined himself, but he hath ruined Judah too, he hath brought Judah into his sin and involved him in plagues together with himself. From hence the Note is, That ‘It is a great aggravation for any one to think what misery be Obs. 1 bringeth others into.’

If God do but enlighten any ones conscience; it may be Gods hand is upon thee for thy sin: This is grievous: Oh but toge­ther with the sin have not I by my counsel, by my exam­ple, by my countenance brought others into s [...]n? and I have brought them into misery as well as my self: It may be there be many in hell at this time that I have holpen thither. It is true Gods hand is upon me, I am falling, and whither I shall [Page 400] fall I know not; I see hell open and I may fall into it; how ever I am afraid of this that there are some fallen into hell al­ready of whose sin I was the cause, and is it possible that I should be preserved out of it? must I not follow them and fall thither too when they are already fallen thither through my wickedness? You therefore that have been Company-keepers and ringleaders to wickedness, and many of your companions are dead and gone, without any manifestation of repentance; you had need to be throughly humbled.

Obser. 2 Further, It is no plea you see for any one to say, I will fol­low the example of others. If you will follow the example of others you must perish with others. Judah followeth the ex­ample of Ephraim and Judah must fall with Ephraim.

Obs. 3 And further, If Gods people (even Gods people I say) if they comply with wicked men,Gods people suffer if they sin with o­thers. & defile themselves with their pollutions, they must except to fall with them in outward judgments. Judah was the only people God had upon the earth, and as Israel is a type of the Apostate Church, so is Ju­dah a type of the true Church, yet it seems that Judah though the true Church and the only people of God that did preserve the worship of God in the greatest intirenes that was in the world, yet I say Judah, they did very much comply with Is­rael, and complying with Israel in false worship they must fall with them. Come out from amongst them my people, lest being partakers of their sins you be partakers of their plagues too. And this I make no question is the reason why so many of Gods servan [...]s fall at this day,Use why so many fall in these times. they have complied with the times and defiled themselves; though we cannot say so of every one of them that fall in this Cause, yet it is to be feared in ma­ny: And it may be (though we dare not determin of Gods waies, for the thoughts of Gods waies in mercy, are higher than our thoughts, higher than the Heavens are above the Earth, yet we have cause to fear) that many if not most of this generation shall fall before God bringeth forth this glo­rious work of his in saving Zion.

Chap. 1. 7. and chap. 5. 5. reconcil'dBut here is a difficulty; In the first Chapter you heard there that God though he threatned Israel, yet he saith, I will [Page 401] have mercy upon Judah; but here he saith, Ephraim shall fall and Judah also shall fall with him: Now for the reconciling of that we are to know that, though Judah fall with Israel, yet there shall be a great deal of difference in their falling. Israel, the ten Tribes shall fall, be brought into captivity, so as never to return again, I mean never to return from their captivity in that way as Judah did; Judah was to return again after seven­ty yeers; so Judah fell with them,Observ. but they fell not as they fell. Though the Saints therefore may be scourged with rods, yea with scorpions as they are at this day, as well as wicked men, yet the Lord doth not, he will not, take his lo­ving kindness from them.

There is yet one particular more to be observed, and it is from the Hebrew particle Gam, Judah [also] shall fall with them; and I make no question but the Spirit of God holds forth this Note from it, viz. That ‘The falling of the Saints together with wicked men it is of special consideration.Observ

There is much in it; some special matter to be considered of in the falling of Gods people together with the wicked. In­deed it is that which in these daies puts us to a stand, we ad­mire at the waies of God, his judgments are past finding out; we must adore them in what we do not understand; That the hand of God should be stretched out against wicked ones, a­gainst such as have corrupted his worship by their own super­stitious waies, it is no mervail; but that so many of his dear Saints, so precious in his eyes, in all Countries about, should suffer such hard things and fall together with the wicked; we are at a stand, and we know not what it meaneth. What, Judah fall also with Israel, when God had no other people up­on the face of the earth, surely there is some great matter in it; It is I say of special consideration: And indeed there are many things that God would have us to observe in the fall of his people together with wicked men.

First,Reasons 1. Gods holiness, He would have us take serious notice how holy a God He is. He spared not His own Son, and He spareth not His dearest Ones. He will give the dearly beloved of His soul in­to [Page 402] the hands of His enemies. God had but one Son that never sinned against Him; but He hath not one Son that never was afflicted by Him. And therefore we have no cause to wonder that the godly sometimes suffer, for His own Sonne did.

2. None presume on former services.Secondly, God would have us take into deep consideration this meditation, That none must bear themselves upon any former services they do for God. When Israel forsook God, Judah did cleave unto Gods true worship, and in that God was much honored: But Judah must not bear himself upon that, Oh I have done service for God, when others did for­sake Him I did cleave unto Him; and so think to take more liberty afterward: No saith God, though Judah hath much honored Me and cleave to My worship when Israel the ten Tribes forsook Me, yet if Judah shall afterwards comply with Israel, Use Judah shall likewise fall. None must bear them­selves upon former services. It is usual with men that if they have been useful in some things; they begin to presume, and to beheady and take liberty to themselves to do what is not con­venient; thinking that because they have done some service, they must not now be contradicted in any thing they do. Thus we find it many times among men; and upon this bold­ness many amongst us have fallen. How many have there been that in the beginning of this Parliament and in the be­ginning of these Wars,Servants to the Publick have done good service for the Com­mon-wealth; and afterwards begin to be high, and malipert and proud, and they must have what they will and none must contradict them but every body must submit unto them; and so through their pride though they have done good service yet afterward they fall? Let every one take heed of this both in regard of God and also in regrd of man: you that have been most forward in the publick Cause, never think to pre­sume because of what you have done, but walk humbly now, and be serviceable still,3 God not enga­ged to any if they transgress for otherwise you may fall notwith­standing your services as Judah did.

Again, Another thing that God would have us take into consideration is, That he tieth himself unto no people, if they [Page 403] offend, be they what they will be, God can be without them.

Judah also shall fall: By that God declareth that there is no men though never so useful but he can be without them. Per­haps you may think, Use if you desert the Cause where will there be any to stand up in your room? Take heed, though you may think you are the most useful man either in the Ministry, or in the City, know that God can be without you, and you may fall as well as other men.

Lastly, God would have us take notice of this,4 Admo­nition to the wicked That if His own people fall with the wicked, what then may wicked men expect? If such things be done to the green trees, what shal be don to the dry? If judgment begin at the house of God, where shall the wicked and ungodly appear? It follows.

VER. 6.

They shall go with their flocks and their herds to seek the Lord.

SHall they fall? No they have a way to prevent it, they wil passifie God with the multitude of their sacrifices, their flocks and their herds,Expos. 1. they are content to spend those all in sacrifices unto God, and shal this people fall? They wil make God amends with these, they will make up their sins with these, with the multitude of their sacrifices. There is much to be observed from every word here; the difficulty for inter­pretation is not much, and the Observations I shall passe briefly.

They shall go] Ibunt huc & illuc, modo ad hunc, modo ad illum montem, as Interpreters render it, They shal run up and down from one place to another, from one sacrifice to another, in a kind of hurrying of their spirits. And from that word there may be this noted, That ‘Those who depend upon duties,Obs. dan­ger of de­pendance on duties. are in a hurry and distraction of spirit, when they do not prevail with their duties in that they desire.’

They often change their duties, but they do not change their hearts. Many think, Well, I have done thus and thus, yea but if I shal ad to what I have done and do thus and thus, [Page 404] then I shall prevail: whereas those that do their duties in o­bedience unto God, and go out of themselves and depend for their acceptance upon a higher sacrifice, upon Jesus Christ; these go on with much sweetness and quietness of spirit, though for the present they see not the thing performed which they aim at in their duties: their spirits are not in a hurry and in a distraction so as the spirits of others that depend upon their duties are. This is to be noted from the clause, They shall go; Cursitando, running up and down.

They shall go with their [flocks with their flocks. and herds.] He meaneth, with their sacrifices, but he gives them not the name of sacrifices, but only their flocks and herds, for they are not worthy of that name. From hence the Note is.

God contemneth the services of hypocrites, of superstitious and I­dolatrous apostates.
Obs.

Their Their. flocks and their herds.] Mark, They make use of their own, according to their own mind, in their own waies, to worship me as they list, and therefore God doth not call them His, doth not own them as His, but he calls them their flocks and their herds; What they do saith God, what they offer, it is their own, their flocks and their herds, I will not own them. From thence the Note is this, That Obs.It is a sad thing that what we tender up unto God, God will not own as His.’

When in our sacrifices (that are typified by those legal sa­crifices) in our prayers, there we seem to tender up unto God our parts, our abilities, our inventions, our expressions, our wits, our memories, and the strength of our bodies: But now when we have done all, saith God, All these parts and all that is come from you all this while in your prayers, I do not own them, these are none of mine, they are al your own. This is a sad thing.

There is no such way to put an excellency upon any thing we have, upon our parts, and abilities, and estates, as this, To tender them up first unto God, and if God shall please to own them, then to receive them again out of Gods hands; we shall [Page 405] then receive them with abundance of sweetness and excellen­cy. But here, he calleth them, Their flocks and their herds, though they were tendered unto God in sacrifice, yet He will not say, they are His, but their own. Thus it is with all Hy­pocrites and formal and superstitious persons in what they tender unto God.What is done out of selfe-love is our own. Self is the principle of what you do and therefore all your services remain your own, you serve your self rather than God in them.

Herein lies the sweetness and true comfort of a mans estate, and of his credit, and parts, or of whatsoever he hath, when he shall consecrate and devote them unto God so as they re­main no longer his own. This is a sacrifice that God is well pleased with. These are my parts saith God, this is my estate, here I give them back to you again: And when a man shall take what he hath as having first consecrated and devoted it unto God and taking it out of Gods hand again, Oh this ad­deth a sweetness and a blessing to his estate. All we have is Gods as He is the first cause of all; but mark, God rejoyceth as well,God de­lights most in his se­cond right. if not more in a second right that He hath to what we have (namely by our tendring up all unto Him in a graci­ous manner) than He doth in the first right of being the cause of all. I beseech you observe it, God hath a twofold right to the estates, parts, and abilities of His people. First, He hath a right to them as He is the cause of them; I gave them to you therefore they are mine. But Secondly, There is a se­cond right that God seemeth more to rejoyce in, and that is this, When His servants by an exercise of grace, shall tender them up again and give them back again unto Him; Now saith God, they are mine by a second right; and this second right unto them, they being tendered up unto me in a holy way, is the right that I rejoyce in: and this will be most comfortable unto you. Oh my brethren, let us not deprive God of this second right to all we have or are or can do; for this will not at all weaken our right of our own to what we have, we may enjoy our estates and parts and abilities; but this will strengthen, and sweeten, and bless them abundant­ly.

They shall go with their flocks and their herds.] Another Note is this, That Obs. Su­perstiti­ous abun­dant in services.Superstitious and Idolatrous people they are abundant in their services.’

They are content to go with all their flocks and their herds to seek after God; thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of oyl, any thing to offer up unto God, but mark, it is in this, their own way of worship, and whatsoever is mens own that they will be abundant in their worship, but what is Gods that they will be scant enough in;Holydays as might be again instan­ced in in regard of setting of daies apart for God.

Reason.Natural conscience telleth us that when we have to do with God in our services, that great things are sutable to a great God. Your Papists,Papists. in times of straights, they have a kind of praying that they appoint for fourty hours together; but it is in their own way, they will be abundant enough in that. Many of you think much to spend a quarter of an hour in a morning or in an evening in seeking God in your families;Family Duties when superstitious and Idolatrous people are abundant in those services, in seeking God in their own way.

But observe it, though superstitious and Idolatrous people be abundant in their services to their Idols, yet they are not infinite in their services to them. But the Saints of God if their spirits be right, they are enlarged to a kind of infinitness in Gods service. As thus, still they would know more of Gods mind, they would do more, and are never satisfied with what they do. There is no Idolatrous and superstitious per­son, but there are some limits that he puts himself to, and he thinks that when that task is over, when the fourty hours is over, the work is done: But now here is the difference be­tween a natural work and a spiritual; A natural work is al­waies a limited work;supernatu­ral works unlimited. but a spiritual work hath alwaies an infiniteness in it; Thus, though I am not able to do what is actually infinite, yet my heart is infinite in this, that it is ne­ver satisfied, but it would fain have more, and if I were able to do ten thousand times more than I do, yet my heart would be as eager to do more as it was at first, I should not think I am [Page 407] any neerer to the end of my journey than I was at the first day; for I am to deal with an infinite God, therefore let my services be never so great and many, yet still, Oh that I could rise higher, Oh that I could do more. Here is the superna­tural work of grace which doth go beyond all Idolatry in the world.

Again observe, Obs. Su­perstiti­ous spare no cost in worship. ‘Superstitious and Idolatrous people they will spare no cost in Gods service in their own way.’

They will go with their flocks and with their herds, bestow all their estates upon the service of their Idols. How shame­ful is this for us to be so sparing and scant in the true service of God? Use. Never men had more large opportunities to honor God with their estates than at this present we have. And cer­tainly men should rather rejoyce that they have an opportu­nity to serve God with their estates, than murmur that the service of God is so chargable to them as it is. Although some men think themselves wise in appearing little in what may be chargable unto them, yet they lose the chief comfort in and blessing upon what they do, in withdrawing themselves from such a service as God requireth at that time.

They shall go with their flocks and their herds and seek the Lord.

From whence the Note is, That ‘There is a time when vile and wicked men shall see need of God.Obs. Wic­ked men shall need God

Though wicked men when they have all about them suita­ble to their carnal desires, they slight and neglect God, yet there is a time when they shall be brought into such a condi­tion as they shall see their need of him. Oh let us remember this in the midst of our prosperity! We find by experience that God doth bring men to times wherein they see need of Him, Oh therefore now the love of God, now the mercy of God and pardon of our sins, and peace with God, how preci­ous should it be in our eyes! It is good to make God our friend whom we are sure one day we shall have need of. We all conclude that it is a point of wisdom to make such a man our friend of whom we can certainly say, we shall one day have need of him: Oh let us be sure to make God our friend, for [Page 408] certainly one day we shall have need of Him. Blessed are those souls who have an interest in that God whom all the world shall see one day they have need of.

Further, They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the Lord; Thence this Note likewise, Obs. All pretend to seek God.The most superstitious and Idolatrous and false worshipers, they will pretend to seek God as well as any.’

Whatsoever they do, Oh they do it for the honor of God, and for the service of God, and out of respect unto Him; and why should not we do this and this, we have good aims and good intentions, do we not seek to honor God in what we do? When those Idolaters of Israel set up the Calf, they proclai­med a day unto Jehovah, a day for the honoring of God, they pretended that what they did was out of respect unto God and to honor Him. The worst men and the most superstiti­ous will yet pretend the honoring of God. So it is again in regard of those daies that men have set apart for God, Use and it is that which hath setled men in the superstitious observation of them,Christ­masse. that it is for the honor of Christ; what (say they) shall we not honor the birth of our blessed Savior? what a profaness, what a disrespect is this unto Jesus Christ? well let others do what they will, for our parts we will do it, for hereby we shall do honor unto our blessed Savior. So the Papists for the adoration of Images,Images say they, What not re­gard not to reverence the Image, the Picture, of our blessed Sa­vior,Holydays & Images have the same ground. and of the holy Saints? And the truth is if it be duly weighed, there is the same reason of Images of Christ and the Saints, and of daies set apart for the honor of Christ by mans invention; and there is as fair a pretence of honoring Christ by setting up His Image before me to put me in mind of Him; as of honoring of Him by keeping a day of mine own ap­pointment. There is (I say) the same reason of both, and whatsoever argument any man shall bring me against the one, I dare undertake to make it good to be against the other. As now,simile is not natural reason as strong to set up the picture of the King to honor him (and you do it for that end) is not this as much as to keep a day once a yeer to remember him? So the [Page 409] reason may be as strong to honor Christ by way of picture, as to honor Him by observing any day set apart for that end by the inventions of men.

We are (my brethren) to take heed of men that are preten­ders to the honor of God.Admoni­tion. These here will seek the Lord though in a false and superstitious way. But those that are pretender [...] to the honor of God they prevail much with weak spirits and with such as are mo [...]t conscientious: As your grea­test Hereticks that have ever been in the Church, have been great pretenders to godliness; and many there are at this day that out of pretence to honor Christ have leavened the hearts of people with dangerous errors, and especially leavened young converts; for your young converts assoon as ever God is pleased to work upon them,Young converts and weak Christians soon de­ceived. to convert them first unto himself, Oh they love Jesus Christ, their hearts are taken with Christ and inflamed with love unto him, and they honor free grace that hath pardoned the sins of their youth of which they have such fresh sense: Now false teachers they take ad­vantage of this, and therefore if they shall bring any thing unto them that hath the Name of Christ, and the Gospel,with pre­tence of Christ, Gospel, free grace and free grace, they know they will greedily drink it in; and many dangerous errours that are sweetened with such pretences are strongly maintained. By this means their leaders attain their own ends, and they see it not.

Again,Observ. Superstitious and Idolatrous men in time of their afflictions and straights, then above all they are abundant in their services.

They will go with their flocks and their herds, when th [...] are in extremity; O then God shal have any thing from them. Self-love drives men far and enlarges them much. Men in a storm are content to cast out much of that which is precious to them. Isa 29.16.Self-love. sinful. Isa. 26.16 opened. They powred out prayer when thy chastening was up­on them. They are straitned in prayer before, it commeth our by drops before, but when thy chastening is upon them, then they powre it out. And this is the baseness of our hearts that we can find enlargment for God only then when it is sutable to our own ends. Those whose hearts are more enlarged in ad­versity than in the enjoyment of mercies, had need to examin their hearts.

Further, Superstitious formal professors, think to make God a­mends for former and present evils of their hearts and lives, with outward performances.

Obser.If they bring their flocks and their herds, much sacrifice, they think that will do it. But let us learn to take heed of this; take heed of this vanity, to think to make God amends for former or present sins by any sacrifice thou performest to Him thus. Some of you perhaps that are negligent in the du­ties of your relations, you are wicked in your waies; servants, children,Applic. stubborn, stout against parents and governors, and wives neglecting their duties to their husbands, and so they theirs to their wives; and you think though you take liberty in those things, yet if you pray much, and hear much, and speak of good things, and be forward in the profession of Re­ligion, that will make amends for the neglect of your duties. Oh take heed of that for ever you that are forward in your profession, and abundant in the performance of holy duties: take heed of this deceit of your hearts, to think to put off God with these things, & that that shal make up the neglect of your duties: Other kind of people are accused for injustice and un­cleanes & much wickedness, & yet they think to put off al this, by going with their flocks and their herds. Here is their sin­fulness, they rest in the bare duties. But the Saints they have a further sacrifice to offer to God, to be a sweet savour in His nostrils.Saints. They have first the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that these sacrifices typified. And then they have their souls and bodies which they tender up to God as a reasonable sacrifice.

But mark, They shall go thus with their flocks and their herds, but they shall not find him. Observe from hence, Obs. God found no where if not in du­ties. The Ta­bernacle a type of the Ordi­nances of Gospel. First, If God be to be found any where he is to be found in his Ordinances, in the performance of holy duties.’

These sacrifices they were materially good, but yet they should not find God in them. Exod. 29.42, 43. When the Lord appointed the Tabernacle to be erected (a type of the Ordinances we now enjoy) saith he, There will I meet with thee, and there will I meet with thee again the second time. If God be [Page 411] to be found any whereit is in the performance of holy duties.

But secondly, The end of all holy duties we perform unto God, it should be to find God in them.
Obs. 2. End of duties to find God in them.

It should be so. They pretended that end here. When either God is coming unto us in mercy, or when we are draw­ing neer unto God in duty, we must be restless till we find him; Especially in the latter. Many men and women (I beseech you observe this one thing) perform duties, but they do not look at finding God in them. They do not examin after the duties are done, Have I met with God in this or that duty? Have I met with God this day in the word? I have been in my closet and there I have prayed, have I found God in pra­yer? Found God? what is that? You should never be qui­et in the performance of holy duties till you meet with God one of these two waies. Either that you find God coming to you in the communication of himself and the sweetness of his love and mercy to you; Or at least till you find your hearts got neerer unto him. And either of these waies we find God.

Thirdly, God will not be alwaies found when he is sought. Obs. 3. God will not be al­waies found. 1. when supersti­tiously sought.

They shall go with their flocks and their herds, but shall not find me. As thus. Men are never like to meet with God.

First, When they seek him in any superstitious way. These kind of formal superstitious worshipers of God, they did much, they spent much time in Gods worship, I appeal to their own consciences, and unto all men that knew their lives, did any thing of God appear in them? It may be manifested in their frothy, vain, and carnal conversations, that they never met with God in those worshipings. When God is sought and not in his own way, he will not be found.

And then secondly, When we seek our selves rather than God, 2. when our selves chiefly. 3. when not as God then he will not be found.

And thirdly, When we do not seek God as a God; that is, when we tender him only external services and not soul-services al­so; when we seek him not with the uprightness of our hearts, when we seek him not with our whol heart, when we seek him not with those high and reverent apprehensions of him, when we have not that fear of his Name as is sutable to such [Page 412] an infinite God as the Lord is, then God will not be found.

4. when too late.And then lastly, When we seek him too late. There may be a seeking of God too late. Seek Him while He may be found. Oh then we had need lose no opportunity of seeking God, for He will not be alwaies found. And this is just with God; for God often seeks unto us when we will not be found, and therefore it is just that He should not be found when we seek Him.

And then it follows, He hath withdrawn Himself from them.

Exposit.When the Saints of God seek Him in a holy way, He is presently found. Esa. 58.9. They shall cry and he shall say, here I am: Perhaps they do not take notice of God, he is many times with us and standeth by us, He is present and we do not know that he is there; But now that we may know that he is there, he makes that promise, that when we seek him as we ought to seek him, he will say, here I am.

[...] He hath withdrawn himself. The word that is here transla­ted [withdrawn himself] may as well be translated, Divisit se; or Eripuit se; He hath divided himself, yea snatched himself from them: that's the propriety of the word; they go to seek him and cry after him, God snatcheth himself from them, as one that refuseth their friendship, he turns his back upon Obs. 1 them. This noteth, That God hath no delight in the services of superstitious and formal professors. God de­lights not in formal professors But to the humble and con­trite heart, he delighteth to be with them. The flocks and the herds of the wicked are rejected and God withdraweth himself from them; but small things from the Saints are ac­cepted. As you shall observe in 1 Sam 7.9. when holy Sa­muel there did but offer a sucking lamb for a burnt offering unto the Lord, presently followed that the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistins and dis­comfited them, and they were smitten before Israel. Here are herds and flocks and yet God withdraweth himself; but Sa­muel there offers but a poor sucking lamb, and presently the Lord thundereth with a great thunder upon their adversa­ries. [Page 413] So you have it Revel. 8.4.Rev 8.4. opened, after the the Incense with the prayers of the Saints were offered up there followed voi­ces, and thundrings, and lightnings, and an earthquake. Great things are done by smal services of the Saints, when done in uprightness, but the greatest services of Hypocrites and formal Professors God regardeth not but withdraweth himself from them.

And then observe, It is a heavy and sad condition when Obs. 2 God withdraws himself from his creature seeking him, yea seeking him and that in a time of distress. As in 1 Sam. 28.5. when Saul was seeking God, and God was departed from him, mark what Saul saith, I am sorely distressed, for God is de­parted from me. And in the 9. Chapter of this Prophesie, vers. 12. Wo unto them when I depart from them saith God. Oh that is a sad condition. It is a sign,

First, of a dishonor that God puts upon a people (as I Reas. 1 shewed you more largely when I spake of the rejecting of their sacrifices.) What greater dishonor can it be unto a people, than for God to take more pleasure in their howlings under his wrath than he doth in their cryings unto him for mercy? And yet to such a condition may a people, a particular soul be brought into, I say that God may take more pleasure in your howlings un­der his wrath than in your cryings unto him, and that in your Temples, if you do not reform as well as cry unto him: and for that you have that evident place in Amos, 8.3.Amos. 8.3 opened. In that day saith the Lord, shall the songs of the Temple be howlings; As if he should say, the songs of the Temple were loud, but I will take more pleasure in their howlings than in their songs. And that place is very famous, Esa. 29.1. Wo to A­riel the City where David dwelt &c. and vers. 2. Yet I will di­stress Ariel, and there shall be heaviness and sorrow, and it shall be un­to me as Ariel. The Text seemeth to be obscure at the first reading, therefore the meaning is this. By Ariel, Isa. 29.1. opened. is meant Je­rusalem, the City where David dwelt, the place where the sa­crifices were offered unto God; And Ariel Ariel. signifies an Altar of God, Gods Altar that did devour the sacrifices like a Lion: Now saith God, Thou shalt be to me as Ariel, thou Jerusalem [Page 414] where my famous Altar was, where so many famous sacrifi­ces were offered, thou shalt be to me as Ariel, that is, you indeed offer many sacrifices unto me, and you continue still in your hypocrisie, in your wicked lives, know saith God, I will make that City as an Altar upon which your blood shall be offered, and I will take as much pleasure in the sacrifice of your blood offered upon this Altar, as in all the sacrifices that were offered upon the Altar from whence the City had its name, your name shall be Ariel, that is, your City shall be stained with your blood as the Altar was with the blood of the sacrifices. God rejecteth and casteth out the services of such as are superstitious and ungodly.

Reas. 2 And certainly my brethren, when God withdraweth him­self no creature can help us; they will say, how can we help for God will not?

Reas. 3 And some great judgment must be expected when God withdraweth himself; As when a poor Petitioner goes to the Prince with a Petition, and the Prince turns his back upon him; surely thinks he now some evil is nigh me.

Reas. 4 And no protection from any evil can be expected when God withdraweth himself.

Reas. 5 And then conscience flies in thy face and terrifies thee, Oh the blessed God is gone, and mercy is gone, and Christ is gone, and that for such and such sins of mine, and such and such lusts of mine that lay so neer my heart. Oh how terri­ble will it be to conscience when God shall appear to with­draw himself!

Reas. 6 And this withdrawing of God is but a forerunner of Gods eternal withdrawing himself from the soul, and from the bo­dy too.

The Saints had rather have Gods presence though angry, than God withdrawing himself from them. When God withdrawing himself but a little, Oh they could never be at quiet, till God returned again, O cast me not from thy presence saith David.

Applic.My brethren, when we perceive God withdrawing him­self in any degree from us, Oh let us stir up our selves and [Page 415] cry mightily, as the Church doth, Jer. 14.9.Jer. 14.9. opened. O leave us not, the Church gives a shrike as it were, she saw that God was go­ing, as God is said, first to go to the threshold; God goes by degrees from a people, and Jeremiah a holy Prophet, he saw God going from them; Carnal hearts they do not percive how God withdraweth himself from a people by degrees, but those that are acquainted with the mind of God and search into the word, they are able to discern God withdrawing himself from a people, and they cry, Lord leave us not, if thou be gone all is gone.

Yea, but doth not God withdraw himself from his Saints? Quest. how then is this a judgment peculiar upon Idolaters and wicked supersti­tious persons?

The answer is this, It is true, Answ. God withdraweth himself sometimes from his Saints, but his withdrawing himself from them is not like unto his withdrawing himself from the wicked. As

First, Though God withdraw himself from the Saints, yet 1 they retain good thoughts of him in his absence; whereas the wicked pine, and vex, and fret against him.simile a wife. A husband may be gone abroad about his business from his wife a great while; yea but if she be a faithful wife, she still retains good thoughts of him as of her husband and loveth him still. But another, when her husband is gon and hath withdrawn him­self, she beginneth to have hard thoughts of him. So wic­ked men do upon Gods withdrawing of himself, in judge­ments and afflictions, they begin to have hard thoughts of God, and to say, I this is to serve God & to walk in his waies, what good have we got by all that we have done? But now you shall observe in the Cant. when Christ had withdrawn himself from the Church, she still calls him her King, and her Beloved, still gives him honorable titles.

Secondly, Though God withdraweth himself from his 2 people, yet so, as he draweth their hearts after him to cry more earnestly. As a mother wil withdraw her self from her child, she gets behind the door and hides her self, but to this end, that the child may be more earnest to come into her [Page 416] arms, that the child may cry after her to come to her, and the mother loves it. So the Lord loveth to hear his children cry after him to come to him. The Lord shall hear none of our cries in Heaven, for there we shall alwaies be with him; but here he somtimes withdraweth from us that he may hear us cry after him.

3 Thirdly, God though he withdraw Himself from His Saints, yet so as He leaveth some light behind Him that they may see which way he is gone and so follow him. As when a Torch or Candle is taken out of a room, yet you may see some glimmering light which way they went; so when God withdraweth Himself He useth to leave some glimering light that his people may see which way to follow him.

4 Fourthly, God withdraweth Himself from His People, yet so as his bowels yern toward them. Jer. 31.20. Is Ephraim my dear son, &c. I thought of him and my bowels yerned saith God, or my bowels were troubled. He hath an eye toward them for much good in all his withdrawings.

5 Fifthly, When God is withdrawn from the Saints, nothing will satisfie them till God come again. When God with­draws Himself from others, they will seek after vanities to make up the want of Gods presence; As an Adultress in her husbands absence will seek other loves. But the Saints say, if God be gone I will enjoy nothing else, at least I will be sa­tisfied in nothing else until I have Gods presence again.

6 Sixthly, Though God withdraw himself from the Saints, yet he doth not utterly forsake them, as David praies, Psalm, 119.8. I will keep thy precepts, O forsake me not utterly. It seems that then God had somewhat withdrawn himself from Da­vid, yet mark, his heart was toward God, I will keep thy precepts, thou hast forsaken me in some degree, yet I wil keep thy precepts still, O forsake me not utterly. If thou canst say thus, Indeed God hath withdrawn himself from my soul, yet though I have not that comfort in him that my soul de­sires, I will keep his precepts as long as I live, I will do what I can to honor him: Thou mayest pray with comfort, Lord do not utterly forsake me.

As those that are godly may depart from God,Saints de­parting frō God. but yet as in Psalm, 18.21. I have not wickedly departed from my God; they do not depart from God as other men do. So God may de­part from the godly, but yet not so as he departs from the wicked.

Let us take heed of withdrawing from God,Admonit. of withdra­wing our souls from any way of truth. If we in prosperity withdraw from God, and think we can live without him, he will make us know in adversity that he can be blessed with­out us too. It is usual for men in prosperity to rub out with God wel enough, but when thou comest into adversity, the Lord wil make thee know, though thou perishest as dross and dung from the earth, yet he will remain a blessed God with­out thee to all eternity. God hath no need of us. If thou thinkest thou canst do well enough without him, he wil shew that he can do well enough without thee. And thus much for this Sixth Verse.

VER. 7.

They have dealt treacherously against the Lord; for they have begotten strange children: now shall a month devour them with their portions.

IN the words before, the Lord threatneth to withdraw him­self from Israel. When he shall be seeking of him with his flocks and herds, he shall not find him. A dreadful sen­tence, that the God of mercy shall withdraw Himself in a time of mercy from his creature that seeks unto Him for mercy.

But what is the cause of all? Why will God withdraw Himself from them though they seek Him with their flocks and their herds?

There is reason enough for it,Conexiō. They have dealt treacherously against the Lord.

The word that is here translated, Dealing treacherously, [...] significat. of the word. sig­nifies Perfide agere, to deal perfideously, they have been per­fideous.

2 And it signifies likewise, Decipere, they deal deceitfully. And it signifies especially that fraudulent dealing that there 3 is in breaking of covenants (that's the propriety of the word) and it is often applied unto men breaking of covenant with their wives, as in Mal. 2.14, 15.

4 And I find Luther translate it, they have contemned the Lord, (and so according to some it is divers times translated, Sper­no, to contemn God) And from thence Luther hath this note. What (saith he) do they seek the Lord with their flocks and herds and yet despise God how can this stand together? They seem as if they would honor God exceeding much, yet here they are charged for contemning and despising God? He an­swereth it to this effect. Whatsoever men pretend (saith he) in honoring of God, yet if they do not obey and keep to his word, and that especially in the way of His Worship, these are guilty of contemning and despising God. We may be plentiful in outward services, and yet in the mean time our hearts despise God, despise the Authority and Majesty of God.

English translat.But the word ordinarily is used according to that we tran­slate it here, they have been treacherous, they have been false with me.

And mark the connexion: They come to seek Me with their flocks and their herds,Conexiō. but I have withdrawn My self from them, for they have dealt treacherously. Hence the Note is briefly this, That

Obser.
When ungodly men come to seek God, then God remembreth all their wickedness that they have formerly been guilty of, and looks into the wickedness of their hearts as it is for the present.

They have dealt treacerously.] As if God should say, Here comes a company of wretches, base, false-hearted hypocrites, treacherous, perfideous, ungodly wretches to seek Mee with their flocks and herds. Are they like to be heard? are they like to be regarded in all their services? No, they are base, perfideous wretches, they have vile, wicked, and cursed hearts.

Oh consider this you that have not yet done away your sins in the blood of Christ, and made up your peace with God:Use of Admonit. The guilt of your sin is yet upon you, and the filthiness of it yet doth stick: you will come to God in prayer, and seek Him, and cry unto Him for mercy: Know that all the wic­kedness that ever you committed in all your lives, is fresh in the presence of God; God looks upon all as if it were now present. Here cometh saith God, a filthy old whoremaster,Prosopo­poeia. an unclean wretch, he cometh now to pray unto me: and here comes an old drunkard, a wicked scorner and blasphe­mer. When thou comest to seek God, then all thy wicked­ness is remembred before him; and upon this, God justly doth cast thy services back again in thy face. Thus it is here. Oh learn therefore to cleanse thy heart in the blood of Christ by faith in Him and by repentance, and then though thou hast been vile heretofore, when thou comest to seek the face of God, thy sins shall not be remembred before Him. That for the connection.

But for the words Themselves, and first in that proper signi­fication Expos. 1 of them. [They have dealt trecherously;] the meaning is, they make a great deal of shew of Religion, but it is only for their own ends, and under that shew of Religion they do that which dishonoreth me, they betray my glory. Here is treacherous dealing indeed, treachery against the God of Heaven; these are treacherous spirits, to make profession of Religion, to make protestations, to make any use they can of Religion, so far as it wil sute with their own turns, but when it will serve their turns no longer, to cast it off; yea if it prove cross to them, to persecute it. This is trerchery against God in a high degree.

Again, Treacherous, in that they break their Covenant Expos. 2 with God: that is the special treachery here intended, they have broken that Covenant in which they were engaged.Treache­ry against God, as our KingHus­band. They did give up themselves to be the Lords, O but they have basely forsaken the Lord and dealt treacherously with him. So that this treachery relateth either to the Oath of allegiance unto God as our King, or to the Covenant that we make with [Page 420] him as our Husband. And from thence Note, That Obs.The sins of such as are engaged unto God in Covenant, are sins of treachery. They are sins of a more deep dye than other mens sins are.’

Other mens sins are transgressions against God, they are disobedience to the will of God; yea but they are not so pro­perly treachery: but the sins of those that are engaged unto God in Covenant have another stamp put upon them than the sins of other men, their sins are treachery against God. And we know there is nothing accounted more vile amongst men than treachery;Trechery the grea­test sin. It is the highest expression of our indig­nation against a man that can be, to say, such a man, take heed of him, he is a treacherous man. Certainly the sins of those that have engaged themselves unto God, go nearer to the heart of God than any mens sins do else; they are more dishonorable to him, they provoke the eyes of His glory more than any sins whatsoever.

Use O let us then look back to what we have done ever since we entred into Covenant with God; ever since our first Cove­nant, when we first gave up our names to Him, And let us charge our souls with this aggravation of our sins, Oh my soul what hast thou done? Thou hast not only trespassed and disobeyed as others have done, but thou hast been treache­rous against the Lord. Let us keep our selves from sin and awe our hearts and strike fear upon our spirits with this me­ditation, what, shall I that have so deeply engaged my self unto God now forsake Him and deal treacheously with Him?

Take we heed of this evil of dealing treacherously with God, not only in regard of the particular Covenants be­tween God and our own souls; but in a more special man­ner, let us take heed of breaking our publick Covenants. England hath been guilty of great sins against God, but Eng­land was never so engaged unto God as it hath been of late; We never entred into such solemn Covenants with God as we have done of late, therefore if we keep not our Covenants with God now, Englands sins will prove to be greater than [Page 421] they were before, they wil prove to be treacherous sins. Do not account your entring into covenant with God any at time to be a slight matter; do not dally, do not trifle with Him: When you come to the Sacrament there you renew your Co­venants; Perhaps in your closets in the day of your affliction you renew your Covenants; but especially when you come in a solemn way to joyn with the people of God, to bind your selves in a Covenant with God to amend your lives, and to enquire after the true worship of God, and to conform your selves according to his Word; Oh now take heed what you do; now to walk as formerly you have done, Oh this is a treachery against the God of Heaven. Certainly God ex­pects much from us after such a Covenant as we have lately entred into, the most solemn Covenant one of them that ever was taken; for people to come and lift up their hands to the most high God as they have done; And a National Covenant, and therefore more to be regarded than a private: yea an u­niting Covenant, that uniteth two Nations if not three toge­ther; And a Covenant that is more for the Kingdom of Christ, and more directly against the Kingdom of Antichrist, against the Antichristian party than ever yet was taken since the world began. Antichrist quickly did arise and there hath bin much opposition of him; but for two Nations so solemnly to lift up their hands to the most high God to oppose all An­tichristian government, it is that, wch if it be kept as careful­ly as it was made solemnly, is the greatest honor that ever yet Christ had in regard of his government here upon earth. And we had need look to it, because it is such a mighty work as should take our hearts, that ever we should live to see that God should bring about such a strange thing in our generati­on. I appeal unto you, was it possible four yeers since for a­ny man in the world, yea for an Angel to conjecture such a thing as this, that two Nations shall joyn together, the Re­presentative body of the Kingdom, and Assembly of Divines, in one day should be lifting up their hands to the most high God, to do what lies in them to extirpate Prelacy, that is, government by Archbishops, Bishops, Archdeacons, Deans, [Page 422] &c. Now the more miraculous the work of God is in brin­ging this strange thing about, the more bonds lie upon us, to keep that Covenant with God. Oh therefore let us not now ad treachery unto all our former apostacy, our sins now will prove sins of treachery.

Object. But if it be such an aggravation of our sins, to be Cove­nanters with God, if we neglect our engagement, then we were better (perhaps some will say) never to enter into Co­venant; for it seems if we had not taken the Covenant there would not have been such an aggravation of our sins.

Answ. 1 The answer to that is this, None but a carnal heart is sor­ry for his engagement unto God, neither because of afflicti­ons that are in the waies of God, nor because the bonds of o­bedience unto God are stronger, nor because the danger of breaking them is greater. Perhaps when thou art engaged to God and his waies, thou meetest with many afflictions that are in those waies, take heed of repenting of thy engagement because of those afflictions. Perhaps thou seest thy self so strongly bound that thy conscience will fly in thy face if thou doest go but a little awry more than before; Oh take heed of recenting from thy engagement notwithstanding that. For one whose heart is gracious, certainly will never repent of his engagement though there be more danger of his sin now than before; why? because he hateth his sin: Now let there be ne­ver so much danger to keep me from that which I hate, I will never be sorry for that; as for instance, suppose there be a deep gulf, that if I fall into it, wil destroy me, I tremble to come neer it, well there is a fence to keep me off from that gulf full of shap iron pikes, so that if I should but try to get over it,simile they will gore and prick me; shall I be sorry that the sence is so full of sharp things that will gore and prick me if I en­deavor to get over, when the fence is but set there to keep me from destroying my self? So a gracious heart will never be sorry that it is engaged in the waies of God, and that if it should break the engagement there would be an aggravation of his sin, for why? this my engagement is but as a fence full of pricks to keep me from that which I would be loth to [Page 423] come to, which would destroy me. And those that begin to think their engagement to God and his waies, to be a hard thing and could wish more liberty, these kind of men will certainly deal treacherously with God, yea their hearts are e­ven already departing from God. Take heed of this it is a great degree of Apostacy (remember it my brethren it is an argument of marvellous use) it is I say a great degree of apo­stacy for any man to begin to be sorry that he is so deeply engaged to God and His waies.The [...] degree of apostacy. All that are the Saints of God, when they are engaged, they bless God that ever they were engaged.

Again, They have dealt treacherously against the Lord.] Against Jehovah. This is the vileness of mans heart. Though God be never so gracious, so merciful, so faithful; Though He be never so blessed, so glorious in himself and worthy of all ho­nor, yet so vile is mans heart that it will deal treacherously with God Himself. To deal treacherously but with a friend, with a fellow creature is an evil; but to deal treacherously with the infinite and blessed God is a far greater evil. Use. When others therefore deal treacherously with you, and you are vexed at them, and you go to your friends and complain, was ever any dealt so with as I am? Oh consider how treacherou­sly God is dealt withal in the world. Thou thinkest none was ever so dealt with, ever so wronged, as thou art; God is more wronged, more contradicted, more treacherously dealt withal than ever any was. And how many are there that think it a dishonor to them to be suspected to deal treacherou­sly, and will often say, what, deal treacherously with my friend, I were not worthy to live if I should; yet these men deal treacherously with God every day.

Thus much for this charge, For they have dealt treacherously against the Lord. Next he shews wherein.

They have begotten strange children.
Expos.

That is a further agravation, that they have not only sinned themselves, but they have sought to propagate their sin and [Page 424] their wickedness: For it might otherwise be said, It is true, Israel hath sinned very grievous against the Lord, but may there not be hope of another generation coming on? No, for they bring up their children in the same way of superstition, Idolatry and wickedness that they themselves walk in. That is the meaning, They have begotten strange children; they should beget children unto God, but they beget them unto Idols, and so this wickedness, this treachery against God is propa­gated from one generation to another, there is a succession of it; as are the old so are the young.

When any draw others to evil waies, they are said in Scrip­ture to make them children of the Devil, to beget them as children of the Devil. Mat. 23.15. Ye compass Sea and Land to make one Proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of the Devil than your selves, you beget him to the Devil. So parents, first by way of natural generation they beget children to themselves, and then by educating their children in waies of wickedness they beget them the second time to the Devil. [...]eas. And they are called strange children, be­cause God will not own them, they are none of mine saith God, they are strangers from me, I will have nothing to do with them.

The words being thus opened, the Notes are these.

Obser.
First, Parents, have by God committed to them the charge of their children.

That is implyed here, That is, it is their duty to look to beget their children unto God, and to take heed that their children be not begotten to the Devil: For Ephraim here, the ten Tribes are charged, that whereas they should have brought forth their children for God, and so they should be­long to Gods Inheritance and God should have owned them, now they beget them to their Idols, and they are strange chil­dren. God certainly doth not give you children to beget them for the Devil and for Hell. It should be a sad thing to parents to think here is a child coming from my loyns, con­ceived in my womb, and what, shall an enemy unto God come out of my loyns? shall a firebrand of Hel be conceived in my [Page 425] womb? Certainly it should go to the heart of a parent to see his child to be estranged from God, though he were not the cause of it: But much more when a parent shall come to be convinced, this child is thus wicked and ungodly, and as he hath received the seed [...] of his corruption from me at the first, so those seeds were nourished up by my example, and encouragement, I have led him to such wickedness. Wo to such parents, and such children may even curse the time that they were born of such parents, and rather wish they had been of the generation of Dragons, and off spring of Vipers, than begotten of such parents. God when he gives you chil­dren, expects that you should labour that there may be a suc­cession of godliness in the world, that not only you should be godly, but that you should bring up your children to be so too. Psal. 78.5. He established a testimony in Jacob, and appoin­ted a Law in Israel, which [...]e commanded our fathers; that they should make them Known to their children, that the generation to come might Know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children. This is the way of God, He commandeth you to make known His Statutes and Laws to your children, that the generation to come might know them, and not that you should bring up your children in waies of wickedness and superstition. I have read of the Romans, Roman Custoro, that it was wont to be their way to sue such parents as were not careful of the education of their children. The educating of children amiss bid bear an Action amongst the heathen Romans. Therefore Cicero inve [...]gh [...]ng against Verres hath this expression, Quod filium tuum &c. You have not only done thus and thus your self saith he, but you have educated your son amongst those that were intemperate in ri­otousness, in feasting, in drinking amongst wantons and un­clean persons, and by this means saith he you have not only wronged your child, but the Common-wealth. Thus he laid his action against him. Now how might Heathens shame us in this thing, they account those men to deserve pu­nishment not only from God but from men that are not care­ful of the education of their children? There is a great de [...] [Page 426] of reason for it, and it were very good now that there might be a Law enacted to that purpose, upon this ground, because the Common-wealth hath a part in the children as well as the parent, and the parent not being careful to bring up the child in the fear of God, he wrongs the Common-wealth as well as the child, therefore to be punished by the Common-wealth.

The second is this. That Obser. 2.Children usually are as their parents are, and as their educati­on is.’

The parents they were Idolaters, they were ungodly and strangers from God, their children are so too. In many fa­milies we see that the father is an enemy unto God, and the son an enemy unto God, and his son is an enemy unto God, and his son after him is an enemy unto God, and so there goes a line and a succession of wickedness and profaness and enmi­ty unto God. It is usually so.

Use for those that are well educated.Therefore let those children that are born of, and brought up under godly parents, bless God that they were not born and brought up by wicked parents. It may be if thou hadst been born and brought up of Papists, thou wouldst have been a Papist thy self. If thou hadst been born of one that is a stranger to God, of a Malignant, of a contemner of God, thou wouldst have been so too.

And seing this is ordinary for children to be as their parents, Oh then what a mercy is it for any child that is born of wic­ked parents,2. to those that are born of wicked parents. yet that God should work His grace in him. This is not any ordinary mercy. There are some that are born of godly parents that do bless God that they are kept from wickedness that way: but there are some that are born of wicked parents, and so brought up by them in the family; yet so gracious is God unto them, that in a more than ordi­nary way, He goes further in mercy to them and works grace in their hearts notwithstanding. This is His extraor­dinary mercy, a mercy that thou art to admire at unto all eternity, that notwithstanding thy birth and education, yet God should reveal himself unto thee.

But how vile are they that being born of good parents, are wicked! It is ordinary for such as are born of wicked parents and have wicked education, for them to be wicked, to be strange children; but for those that have godly parents, and godly education, for them to be wicked and strange children, this noteth a notorious height of wickedness.

The third Note is this, That ‘It is a dangerous thing for children to follow the Example of their parents in wickedness.Obser.

It is from hence that they are called strange children, they are strangers to God. It is not enough for them to plead, I did as my father or as my mother taught me. No, if thy pa­rents be wicked and superstitious, and they bring thee up in wickedness and superstition, and so thou art wicked and superstitious thy self, know that notwithstanding this ex­cuse, God looks upon thee as a strange child, thou hast no part nor por [...]ion in God, thou art an Alien, thou art estran­ged from God.

Children therfore had need to examin their parents waies and actions: And above all, Use. the children of superstitious peo­ple, for there is nothing more natural in succession, in a line, than Idolatry and superstition. Never plead thus then, we do but as our forefathers have done. That place we have in Peter, one would think should be a Scripture for ever to stop the mouth of that plea, 1 Pet. 1.18, 19. We are not redeemed by gold and silver, nor such kind of things, from our vain conversation, received by tradition from our fathers; but by the blood of Jesus Christ that imaculate Lamb. Mark the text; that the being redee­med, from our vain conversation received by tradition from our fathers, is so great a mercy that it cost the blood of Jesus Christ.1 Pet. 1.18. appli­ed. If God accounteth it such a mercy as that He is wil­ling to lay down the blood of His Son to purchase that mer­cy for a poor creature, shall not this creature prize this mer­cy? And yet you think it rather to be a mercy to go on in these waies that you have received by tradition from your fa­thers, and you think it a great plea because you have this by tradition from your fathers: Mark what you do, I say those [Page 428] men or women, whether young or old, that shall plead for any superstitious way upon this ground, because they had it from their forefathers, they do in effect say, we look upon the blood of Jesus Christ as a common, as a worthless thing. He shed His blood to redeem thee from that which thou thinkest is worth nothing to be redeemed from. Thou thinkest it a good thing to go the way of the traditions of thy fathers; and Christ saith, I account it so great an evil, that rather than any that doth belong to Me shall go on in that way, I will lay down My blood, My life to deliver him from it.

The fourth Note is this, That Obser.When the succeeding generation is wicked, there is little hope of such a people, of such an Nation’

I have withdrawn my self saith God, I have done with them, and afterward he telleth us, that they shal be desolate, and this is the reason, they have begot strange children: The children, the generation that is coming after they are idola­ters too, they go as their fathers did, and what hope is there of them?simile When in a Vineyard or an Orchyard not only the old trees are rotten, but the young trees, they likewise come to be corrupted and blasted by them, then there is little hope of any great cost to be bestowed about it, but it is likely to be digged up for the beasts to be let in up on it.

Use. Much care is to be had therefore of the succeeding genera­tion. And there is no better argument whereby we may come to divine (as we may say) what God intendeth to do with a Nation,The way to divine what shal become of a Na­tion. than this; look how the children are, how the yong ones are that are coming up in that Nation, and by that you may come to divine what God intendeth to do with the next. We have much cause to bless God for His mercy toward us herein, in that He hath in a great measure (we hope) taken away that sign of His dreadful wrath upon us in this parti­cular. I say in a great measure; though the truth is, we have a great many of the young generation extream rude, a­bundance of Apprentises and others that are fit, prepared, and ready to make riots and tumults to maintain their Fathers, their Masters old superstitions; and if ever there be any stirs [Page 429] in a Kingdom about such things (as seldom superstition and idolatry can be banished from a Kingdom but some stirs will be) usually they are begun by the young ones, What,stirs upon the put­ting down of super­sti [...]ion. they are begun by young ones usu­ally. if you take away their Holy-daies from them, you take away their lives. I make no question but so far as is fit, times of recrea­tion will be allowed them, and there is good reason for it; though such kind of superstitious daies be taken from them. But because they find liberty in those daies, and their masters and many of their parents stick to the old waies of superstiti­on therfore many young ones they do accordingly, and had almost rather lose their lives than lose them, and being hea­dy and naught they wil soon be brought to raise tumults and make seditions for them. But though there are many that are very vile that way, and such as they are, are the saddest Omen of God [...] displeasure against a Nation; yet on the o­ther side we should wrong the grace of God if we should not observe His goodnesse towards us in the workings of His Spi­rit upon. Young ones. Yea many whose parents have been su­perstitions, wicked and ungodly, and their masters have bin so too, yet we find that the Lord hath delivered a great num­ber of the young generation from those old superstitions, and they are not willing to fully themselves with such vanities as their parents and masters before them did; they do begin to know the Lord, and to enquire after God;Young ones the hope of a Nation. And blessed are you of the Lord, you are our hope, that God intendeth good unto us, and that He will not let out the wild beasts to devour us, but will rebuke them for your sakes. And al­though perhaps many of these gracious young ones may pe­rish, yea many have been slain already in this Cause, yet let not others that remain behind be discouraged at it, for it is in argument that there is some great and special mercy that God intendeth for us, in that He is willing to venture such precious ones for the procuring of that mercy. We may well reason so, that if so much precious young blood that might have lived to serve God, be shed in this Cause, if God come to grant unto England mercy, He wil grant such mercy as wil be worth al their blood; and that mercy must needs be great [Page 430] that shal be worth all the blood of those that are so precious, which might have lived to serve God so many years here in this world.

And seeing God makes use of them, it is because the mercy that is to come for the next generation is so precious, that in­deed such as have defiled themselves with superstitious vani­ties are like to have no share in it; and as they are not like to live to see it, so God will not make use of them to prepare that mercy for the next generation: But because God hath a love unto the young generation that are godly, therefore He hath reserved much mercy for many of them that are like to see and enjoy it; and others of them that are not like to see it, yet he will be so gracious to them as he will imploy them in making way for that mercy: And whether it is bet­ter to be made instrumental for the glory of God and the good of another generation, or to live to see the fruit of this, it is hard to determine. Certainly those that in one generation are made so instrumental, as to lay the ground work of mercy for another generation, they are as happy as that other gene­ration that comes to reap the fruit of their labours and suffe­rings; and those that do come to reap the fruit of their la­bors shall bless God for them, and when they enioy the good and liberty of the Gospel, they shall say, Oh blessed be God that stirred up such a generation of young ones to shed their blood, and now we reap the fruit of it, and blessed be God for them; they will bless you to all generations. Therefore let there be no discouragement to godly young ones though it pleaseth God to cut of many by death in this Cause, for God hath some excellent end in it beyond all our reaches. Thus much for these words; Only one Note more, and that is this, That Obs.God takes it exceeding ill at mens hands, that they should cor­rupt young ones.’

This Note is as full in the words as any other. God takes it exceeding ill, it is a part of treachery against God for any to be a means to corrupt young ones. Take heed what you do in corrupting of young ones. Those young people that [Page 431] are coming on and beginning to enquire after godliness, take heed what you do, that you hinder them not; Especially parents and governors; Oh let your consciences flie in your faces when you begin to curb them for their forwardness: Many times your consciences cannot but misgive you when you think, I have been wicked and naught most part of my daies, I spent God knows many of my yeers in vanity and profaness, here are young ones that begin betime to enquire after God, and yet wretch that I am my heart riseth against them.

And as these people that hinder young ones are to be rebu­ked, so such as seek to corrupt them by false opinions. Cer­tainly it is that by which God is much provoked at this day; and as on the one side there is hope of mercy in regard so ma­ny young ones begin to enquire after God, so I know no such dreadful argument of Gods displeasure against this Nation as this, That assoon as young ones begin to come to know Je­sus Christ, there are presently corrupt erro [...] infused into them, and that under the notion of honoring Christ and free grace and the Gospel so much the more; whereas indeed they do no other than infuse principles of libertinisme and loosness and such as will even eat out the heart of godliness. Certainly the Lord hath a quarrel against such as corrupt young ones by their false principles: for there are none so ready to drink in false principles as young ones, especially young converts, who begin to enquire after the waies of God: and these men that are their corrupters, they have this advan­tage, they come not to them to perswade them to profaness, but they come to them with seeming pretences of giving ho­nor unto Christ and of magnifying free grace, and in the mean time sow seeds in them that will eat out the power of godliness. Oh to corrupt children and young ones and when they begin to enquire after God and to know him, for you to do that which may estrange them from God, this is that which God will have a quarrel against you for! And it is a greater argument of Gods displeasure against us,A com­mon evil. that it is so common and frequent at this day, than any one I know; [Page 432] there is not any one argument (that I know) that is a greater discouraging argument to us of Gods displeasure, than this thing. But so much for those words, They have begotten strange children. It follows.

Now shall a month devour them with their portions.

Expos. A month] I find Interpreters have a great deal of do about this expression. Many think that God aims at one special month, and they tell u [...] of one month in the yeer which an­swereth to our July, that there were many grievous things to befal the Jews in that month in former times, and in latter times too, as if that were a more Ominous month than any other. I will not spend time to speak further of that.

But there is certainly somewhat else in this expression. I find an expression paralel to this in Zech. 11.8. the holy Ghost there speaks of three Shepherds that God will cut off in one month; these Idol Shepherds, saith he, My soul loa­thed them, and their soul also abhorred me, I will cut them off in one month. There is the most exact description of your supersti­tious Idol Shepherds, even such as we have at this day amongst us in many places, saith God, My soul loathed them, and their soul abhorred me. Who do more hate the power of godliness than those kind of men, and against whom is the soul of God more than against those kind of men? And I will destroy them in a month saith God. Wherefore by this Month I take the meaning of the holy Ghost to be in these two things.

First, It seems to have some reference to the way of the Jews in those times, they were wont to have their daies of rec­koning with their workmen and with their debters, usually at the beginning or ending of every month, and this expres­sion seems to allude that way of theirs; A month shall devour them, that is, the time of their month shall come when I will reckon with them, and when that fixed time shall come of my reckoning, they shall be undone, they shall be devoured and destroyed.

So that it noteth, ‘First, That God hath a set time to reckon with sinners. Though Obs. 1 He be patient for a long time, yet He hath a month, a set time that He appointeth, and He will not go beyond that time.’ ‘Secondly, When God cometh to reckon with wicked men, that is Obs. 2 the time of their destruction. The time of their reckoning will be the time of their destruction.’

Secondly, A month shall devour them.] I find yet many In­terpreters Expos. 2 go this way, that is, a little short time shall devour them, it shall not be long, it shall not be an hundred and twenty yeers, as it was when He threatned the old world, but it shall be very speedy; As if God should say, when once I begin with them, a month shall make an end of the work. And indeed what will a month do when God letteth the sword come upon a Nation? (for that (the sword) was the judgment here threatned.) As in many parts of England, what a great deal of havock have the enemy made in a month? How many that were rich and had great estates, yet before a month went about, into what a miserable condition were they brought? so that God seemeth to have reference to the Assyrians that were let out upon them, let them but once come saith He, and they will not be long about the work, a months time shall devour them.

Luther, Luther hath another Note, and so some agree with him, Expos. 3 by the month, he thinketh is here meant, their Solemnities and new Moons, and so it hath reference to their superstition and Idolatry. But that I think to be too far from the mea­ning: I rather conceive that by a month is meant the short time of their destruction when once the adversary cometh in upon them.

And their portions.] I find the Seventy translate it, Cleros, [...] [...] their lots. And it may be turned, their lots, upon this ground, because in the division of the land of Canaan, that which they had for their estates, was given unto the ten Tribes at first by Lot. Well saith God, I did give you your estates by such a special providence of mine, by lot; but though I did in ano­ther [Page 434] way measure out your estates than I do measure out the estates of any men upon the earth, yet a month shall devour your Lot, all that you had in that way of my special provi­dence it shall now be devoured. From thence then the Note is this, and of exceeding use to us, That Obser.The more special the providence of God is toward us, in brin­ging any mercy to us, the more grievous is it after, if God be provoked in his judgment to come and take that away from us.’

That mercy that I had by a special hand of Gods provi­dence, that I can relate Gods providence how it wrought a­bout from this passage to the other passage, how strangely the Lord did work about His ends, to bestow such a mercy and such a mercy upon me; Well, thou canst speak of Gods pro­vidence and bless His Name, thou dost well in it, but take then heed thou dost not abuse that mercy that thou enjoyest by the special hand of Gods providence; take heed of provo­king God to come and devour that mercy. So it is threat­ned here, a month shall devour their portion, their estates that they had by special lot it shall now come to be destroyed be­cause of their sin.

Expos. 2 But then secondly, Take it according as we translate it in your books, and so likewise it is sutable to the Original, A month shall devour their portion, that is, all their portion that they have here in their outward estates, all their riches, all their outward comforts, what ever they have, that which they account to be their portion, a month, a little time shall destroy it. And from thence there are these two Notes.

Obs. 1 First, That all the portion of a carnal heart, it is the enjoyment of a few outward things in the world.
Carnalists portion outward.

Here is his portion, he hath his portion in this world. And then,

Obs. 2 Secondly, Here we may see the poor condition of the grea­test in the world;poor con­dition of the worldly rich. for why? his portion is no other, but a month may devour it. If thou hadst the whol Kindom and many Kingdoms for thy portion, if this were all, thou hadst a poor [Page 435] pittance for thee that hast an immortal soul, who art made for eternity, a month may devour it. That man is but a poor man that hath no other portion but that which a month may devour. But now the Saints they have God Himself for their portion, that portion that neither month can devour nor time destroy, but that portion which they shall enjoy fresh, and green, lively, and full, and that unto all eternity; that portion which liveth for ever, and that portion which will keep them safe to live for ever too.

VER. 8.

Blow ye the Cornet in Gibeah, and the Trumpet in Ramah; Cry aloud at Beth-aven; after thee, O Benjamin.

THE Prophet seeing how little impression his words of threatning made in the hearts of this people:Conexiō. O these are but words of wind, that we should be devoured &c. therfore in the Name of the Lord, he putteth upon himself another person. He speakes now in this verse rather as a Captain, as a General of the field, calling an Allarm presently as if the enemy were now come to the gates; Blow ye the Cornet in Ra­mah, and the Trumpet in Gibeah: as if he should say, you have often heard that the Lord would bring the sword upon you, now it is come, it is come, the enemy is even ready to break into your Cities, to riflle your houses, to ravish your wives, to murder your children, Blow ye the Cornet in Gibeah, and the Trumpet in Ramah, and howl ye and cry out, O ye of Beth-aven; after thee, O Benjamin. It is a summoning of them, as if one should come to the City and cry, The enemy, the enemy is come to the gates, Arm, Arm: So the Prophet here, that he might strike into the hearts of those that are stupid and sence­less, saith he, I have often in the Name of God threatned His wrath, that He will bring the sword upon you, I see you are a stupid and senceless people; Know, that the Lord is upon you in wrath, the enemy is come, now is the time come of your destruction; Blow ye the Trumpet and resist it as well as you can, set your selves in battel aray as well as you can, [Page 436] for now wrath and misery is upon you. That generally is the scope of the words.

Expos. partic.But yet there are Three things to be considered for the fur­ther opening of these words. (The Cornet and the Trum­pet, those you know were instruments of war, the one was made of horn, the other of brass.) But why in Ramah and in Gibeah? that's the first thing: And then, why Cry aloud at Beth-aven? And thirdly, what is the meaning of that, after thee, O Benjamin?

1. Ramah and Gibeah; 1. Ramah & Gibeah. I find many take these words not as proper names for Cities, but to signifie the hils and high­places of the Country. And the Seventy indeed translate the words, [...]. Ʋpon the hils, and upon the high places; for so Ramah doth signifie an high place; and Gibeah doth signifie by way of excellency, an Hil. Now then they would carry the mea­ning thus, [...] as if the Lord should say to the Prophet, Go to the highest places that are in the Country, the highest hills, and there let the Cornet and the Trumpet be blown as an Al­larm to awaken the whol Land. And then the Note would be this: Obs. 1 When a people is in danger of Gods wrath, it is fit for all the people of the Land to be awakened.’

It is fit that it should be made known to them. Not only that they should go to the Governors and those that are in high places of authority, but go where they may make kno­wen the danger to all the people of the Land. It is true, in the first place it is fit the Governors should be awakened, but if they be awakened and not the people it will prove to little purpose. It is that which many men of vile spirits of late could not endure, that Ministers should tell people of dan­gers, or tell them of the fore-runners of Gods displeasure a­gainst a Nation; to preach such things in publick Auditories, this their spirits mightily rose against: But it is the way of God, in times of publick dangers to have the people made ac­quainted.

Obs. 2 But further, Ramah and Gibeah, they were two eminent Cities, and they did belong both to the Kingdom of Judah. [Page 437] Indeed they were in the Tribe of Benjamin, but Benjamin and Judah were joined in one Kingdom under the house of David, and the other ten Tribes were rent away under Jeroboam. Now these two Cities (I say) were in the Kingdom of Judah and e­minent Cities, and it is likely they were fortified Cities, and two of the strongest Cities in the Kingdom. Now God is here threatning of judgment against Judah as He did before when He said, Judah also shall fall with them. Therefore saith he, Blow ye the Cornet in Ramah, and the Trumpet in Gibeah, in the eminentest places of Judah, in the most fortified, and let us see how they are able to resist the miserie that is coming upon them.

And further, I find this to be the translation of the Chaldee paraphrase, that they would import as if the meaning were because that Gibeah was the Citie of Saul; and Ramah was the Citie of Samuel, therefore that God did threaten judg­ment for their making of a King against his mind, and for their disobedience to the words of Samuel. So they pa­paraphrase the text. But I think that to be somewhat too far fetched. The other two I conceive are the mind of the holie Ghost here, in the high places of the Countrie, and e­specially in those eminent Cities that were the most fortified, that though they were in the Tribe of Benjamin, yet belonged to the Kindom of Judah.

2. Cry out, O Beth aven.] Beth-aven 2. Bethavē I find was another Ci­tie different from that of Bethel where one of the Calves were; But there are neer ten Interpreters to one, that make it to be the same City Bethel wherein one of the Calves were set, and this belonged unto the ten Tribes.

Now this Bethel, which signifies the house of God, is call'd Beth aven here, which signifies the house of vanity, because of the Idol that was there. Therefore mark the emphasis, when he speaks of Ramah & Gibeah, saies he, blow the corner and the trumpet, but when he speaks of Beth-aven saith he Cry aloud, or as the latin signifies, howl out, O Beth-aven, [...] for that was the great place of superstition. He nameth this Citie rather than Dan (where the other of the two Calves was placed) because [Page 438] it was so neer unto the Kingdom of Judah.

3. After thee, O Benjamin. 3. O Ben­jamin] That is, Benjamin was upon the back of this Beth-aven, it was next unto the Kingdom of Is­rael. Now saith God by the Prophet, the wrath of God shall come out against Israel, Ephraim shall be left desolate, and Beth-aven shall howl and cry out, and you Benjamin that are so neer them, take you heed to your selves, after thee, O Benjamin, thy turn will be next. You have reason to look to your selves when your neighbors house is on fire; so saith God here, Howl Beth-aven, after thee, O Benjamin; Benjamin li­ved hard by Beth-aven, and when Benjamin saw the wrath of God against the ten Tribes and in that City of Beth-aven that was so neer to it, Benjamin should look to it self. That's the meaning of the holy Ghost in these words.

Now for the Notes of observation from them. The first is this, Obser. 1 When danger is apprehended as present and real, then it takes the heart most.’

The Lord had threatned the sword many times by the Prophet, and their hearts were secure, stupid; but now he comes and presents it as present and real unto them, Blow ye the trumpet, the danger is now at hand, here it is saith the Prophet. There is a great deal of difference between mens hearing of wars and rumors of wars, and the very reallity of the evil it self when that cometh before their eyes. This judgment of war,Use to England. of the sword, it hath been threatned against this Nation long ago. I dare appeal to you, for a matter of twenty yeers since (you that remember the way & the com­mon strain,godly mi­nisters preaching almost of all the godly Ministers in the Kindom) was not their usual theam about such an argument as this, to shew what were the forerunners of Gods judgments against a Nation?Ministers duty to search what sins bring publick judgment Ever since I was a youth and took any notice of Ser­mons, I know no argument that kept the sound in mine ears more than that: Usually it was the theam almost of all the places in the Kingdom, of all your eminent Ministers to search into Gods word to see what were the sins that brought publick judgments upon a Nation and apply them unto Eng­land; [Page 439] what were the forerunners of destruction upon a Na­tion and apply them unto England: But this was ordinarily slighted. Some indeed of our brethren that feared the Lord and feared his judgments, and thought that they did foresee a storm, upon that they withdrew themselves, and they were scorned and contemned for their labors. But now we see the thing that was feared and threatned is come, it is upon many Countries: & do we not apprehend it after another manner than we did when we only heard of it? In those Countries where the sword hath been raging, do not they apprehend the evil of war in another manner than ever they did when they heard it threatned in Sermons? O when it is come indeed and made real it works after another manner than it doth when it is spoken of.Warre. Those men that continually have their ears fil'd with the noise of the Drum and Trumpet, with the neighing of Horses and roaring of the Cannon, they will tell you that war is a dreadful thing indeed. So it is in all other afflictions that are threatned; how little are they regarded in their threats? but when they come indeed, Oh then how do the hearts of men sink within them! Oh now God is coming against me, now wrath is upon me saith the guilty soul, how far it may go out I know not; I heard often of such and such things, now it is come, it is come. Oh the dreadful appre­hensions that are in mens hearts of the wrath of God when it is come! whereas before when it is threatned it is never feared.Obs. The lesse a threatning is heard, the more the judg­ment is felt when upon us.

And this is a rule, an everlasting rule, That the lesse a judgment is feared when it is threatned, the more dreadfull apprehensions there are of it in the heart when once it cometh to be executed. That's the first Note.

The second is this, ‘The Ministers of God they must make the things they are Obser. 2 to preach to the people as real before their eyes as possibly they can.Sermons must re­present to the life what they presse.

They should study all waies and means they can to make what they preach to the people to be real to them, not to be as notions to them. So the Prophet here, he had preached [Page 440] often times of the judgments of God, of the Sword, but this would not do it, therefore now he strives to make what he had delivered to appear in the most real way that possibly he could to the eyes and hearts of the people, & he saw that to be the only way to do them good. It is not therfore enough for a Minister barely to tel the people truths, to tel them what danger they are in, but by all means of expressions that may be to make this appear in the reallity of it unto them. We know how Ezekiel was wont to do, he threatned their carry­ing away, and he went and made before them a kind of siege to make it real to them. So Jeremiah and other Prophets. Now though Ministers cannot do so as they did, yet they are to study all manner of expressions that possibly they can to present things in the greatest reallitie that may be. And in­deed this is a great part of the skill of a good Minister, not barely to tell truths unto people, but to be able to make things appear real to them.Wherein especially consists the Art of preaching The art of preaching I say lies especially in this, to make things appear real to the souls of an Auditory. As now, when we come to tell you of the dan­ger of sin and of the wrath of God that is due to it; we tell you this and we quote Scripture for it, this perhaps stirs not the heart; but now if we can so present Gods wrath to you, to make it real before your eyes, to put you upon this, to be­think your selves in what a case you would be if now all crea­tures were taking their leaves of you, if now you were stan­ding before the great God to receive the sentence of condem­nation,