Altum Silentium: OR, SILENCE THE Duty of Saints, UNDER Every sad providence AN Occasional SERMON Preached after the Death of a Daughter, by her Father: viz.

By John Durant Preacher of the Gospel in Christ's-Church Canterbury.

What shall I say? He hath both spoken to me, and Himself hath done it?

Isa. 38.15.

London, Printed by J. Streater, and are to be sold in Popes-head-Ally, near Corn-Hill. 1659.

TO The Reader.

Christian Friend,

THe Book of Job (saith Au­gustine) is the afflicted man's Scripture: And I may say, this little Book is the af­flicted man's duty; A little pearl may be of great of price, and such is this little Treatise that now is put into thy hand.

The waves did but lift Noah's Ark nea­rer to heaven, and the higher the water rose the nearer the Ark was lifted up to heaven: sometimes such an operation, afflictions have [Page]upon Noahs, upon Preachers of Righteous­nesse; And if they have not had the same operation upon the Authour of the ensuing discourse, I am much mistaken. Afflicti­ons to some, are like the prick at the Nigh­tingals breast, that awakes her and puts her upon her sweet and delightfull noats; And whether they have not had such an operati­on upon the worthy Author, I will leave the Reader to judge. The more, precious O­dours, and the purest Spices, are beaten and bruised, the sweeter Scent and Savour they send abroad: Had not God bruised to death one of the choisest and sweetest flowers in the Author's Garden, he had not sent a­broad this sweet and savoury Sermon.

We try Metall by knocking; if it sound well then we like it well. That's a tryed Christian, a thorough-Christian indeed, that gives a pleasant sound when under the knocking-hand of God: If thou layest thine Ear, thy Heart, close to the following Tract thou wilt hear such a sound as will be swee­ter to thee then the hony or the Hony-comb.

That Christian is worth a world, who under the sorest and sharpest afflictions, is like the stone in Thracia, that neither burneth in the fire, nor sinketh in the wa­ter. Whose silence and patience is invin­cible and impregnable. None are such an honour to God, such a glory to the Gospel, such a shame to Satan, and such a wonder to the World as these; who can lay their hands upon their mouths, when God's Rod layes heavy upon their backs. That this is every Christians duty and glory, is fully and sweetly evinced in the following Dis­course.

Happy are we when Gods Corrections are our Instructions, His lashes our lessons,Isa. 26.9. Psal. 94.12. Prov. 3.12, 13. Chap. 6.23. His scourges our School-Masters, His chastise­ments our Advertisements. And to note this, the Hebrews and Greeks both, expresse Chastening and Teaching by one and the same word. ( [...]) because the [Page]latter is the true end of the former, accor­ding to that in the proverb, Smart makes wit, and, Vexation gives understanding. That this happinesse the Reader may attain to, is the thing endeavoured by the Au­thor.

Reader, thou hast much wrapt up in a little, 'tis more to be admired than to have Homer's Iliads compriz'd in a Nut-shell; 'Tis a mourning Sermon, and Mourning should be plain. The Reverend Author knew right well, that 'twas better to present Truth in her Native plainnesse, then to hang her ears with counterfeit Pearls. He knew that the King of Nineveh was a King as well in his sack-cloth, as in his Royal Robes: The Author is known to be a Master workman, and one that could easily shoot his arrowes over his hea­rers heads;See his pre­cious works in Print, and then Judge. but he had ra­ther shoot them into his hearers hearts: He dares not affect sublime notions, obscure expressi­ons, [Page]which are but mysterious Nothings. He dares not do as many, who make plain truths difficult, and easy truths hard, and so darken counsell by words without know­ledge, Job 38.2. If thou wilt but tast and try, thou wilt find this little Treatise to be a heavenly Hony-hive to thy Soul.

If thou shalt say, Oh! 'tis sweet, 'tis sea­sonable, 'tis suitable to my condition, and to God's dispensations abroad in the world; but, why have we no more of this sweet Wine, no more of this Water of life, no more of these Clusters of Canaan? I must tell thee, that the honoured Authour buried his dear and hopefull daughter on the Friday, and preached this Sermon the Sabbath day following; and therefore thou hast more cause to blesse the Lord, and admire the Lord for his goodnesse, assistance, and pre­sence with the Authour, that has inabled him to bring forth a truth of so great weight and concernment to us, even then, when he was under such sore and sharp rebukes of God. 'Tis not every ones happinesse to [Page]have such a presence of God with them, when the Rod of God is heavy upon them.

Reader, the point insisted on, is a point of speciall use to Christians; especially to such as are under the afflicting hand of God, whether in spirituals or in temporals: And if storms should fall upon us from abroad, or at home, it will be found (in the use of it) more worth then Gold. I have read of the stone Garaman [...]ides, that hath drops of Gold in it; many a golden drop wilt thou find in the f [...]llowing Lines. As Moses laid up the Manna in the golden Pot, and as Alexander kept Homer's Iliads in a Cabinet embroidered with Gold, so do thou [...]ay up this Sermon in the golden Cabinet of thy heart. If troubles at present are not upon thee, yet thou must remem­ber that thou art born to them,Job 5.7. John 16. ult. 14. Acts 21.22. as the sparks fly upwards. God had but one Son without sin, he hath no Son without sorrow; he had but one without corruption, he had none without correction; [Page]he scourgeth every Son whom he receives, he can quickly turn thy Summer day into a Winter night, and then this Sermon may be to thee a sutable and an invaluable mercy. I shall onely take leave to hint a few things to the Author my Reverend Bro­ther, and to my dear Sister his virtuous yoakfellow, who are above all others con­cerned in this sharp and smart dispensati­on, and so conclude.

First, That well grounded hope, confi­dence and assurance, that you and others had of the buddings and blossomings of grace in her, in her tender age, and of her being now at rest in the bosome of the Fa­ther, should not onely quiet and silence you,Heb. 11.4. but also joy and re­joyce you. Why may you not think that you hear her, though dead, yet speaking thus unto you?

When God has stampt his Image upon a mite,
'Tis meet that God should have his right:
After a few years past, a wearied breath
I have exchanged for a happy death.
Short was my Life, the longer is my rest:
God takes them soonest whom he loveth best.
She that is born to day, and dies to morrow,
Loses some hours of joy, but Years of sorrow.
Other diseases often come to grieve us,
Death strikes but once, and that stroke relieves us.
Therefore (my parents dear) take heed of weeping Crosse,
And mind my happinesse, more then your own great Losse.
This is all I'le say, to make the reckoning eaven,
Your dearest mercy, is not too good for heaven.
Hasten to me, where now I am possest,
With joyes eternal, in Christ my onely rest.

Secondly, The designes of God in all the sharp afflictions, He exercises his Children with, are glorious, As

  • (1.) the pur­ging away of their sins, Isa. 1.25.
  • (2.) The making of them more partakers of his holinesse, Heb. 12.10.
  • (3.) The tryal of their graces, Job. 23.10.
  • (4.) The commu­nication of more of Himself, and of his love to their souls, Hosea 1.14.
  • (5.) The mul­tiplying of their spiritual experiences, 2 Cor. 1.4, 5.
  • (6.) The cruci­fying of their hearts to the world,
    Now finis dat ama­bilitatem & facili­tatem mediis.
    and the world to their [Page]hearts, Gal. 6.14.
  • (7.) To draw them to look and six their souls upon the great con­cernment of another world, John 14.1, 2, 3.
  • (8.) That heaven may be the more sweet and precious to them at last, 2 Cor. 4.16, 17, 18. Rom. 8.17, 18. How sweet is a calme after a storme, and summer dayes after long win­ter nights!
  • (9.) To make them more and more conformable to Christ their Head, Rom. 8.17.
  • (10.) That sinners may at the last be found dumb and speechlesse, 1 Per. 4.17, 18. Now, Is there not enough in these glo­rious ends and designes of God to make his people sit mute under the sharpest tryals? Surely there is. Why then, don't they sit si­lent before the Lord?

Thirdly, All the mercies you enjoy, were first the Lora's before they were yours; and alwayes the Lora's more then they were yours, 1 Chron. 29.14. All things come of thee, and of thine own have we gi­ven thee. The sweet of mercy is yours, but [Page]the Sovereign right to dispose of your mer­cies is the Lora's. Quicquid es, debes creanti; quicquid pores, debes redi­menti; Bern. Whatsoever thou art, thou owest to him that made thee, and whatso­ever thou hast, thou owest to him that re­deemed thee. Say, as Hierom adviseth a friend of his (in the like cause), Thou hast taken away whom thou hast given me: I grieve not that thou hast taken them, but praise the Lord that was pleased to give them. You think it but just and rea­sonable that men should deal with their own as they please: And is it not much more just and reasonable that God should do with his own as he pleases?

Fourthly, That God that has taken one, might have taken all; there are several left, though one be taken. Job, you know, was a none-such in his generation, and yet the sentence of death was past upon all his Children at a clap: and under this sad clap, Job does not blaspheme, but blesse; He does not murmur, but worship's: He ac­cuses [Page]not God, but cleares God of injustice, under the saddest and severest stroaks of justice, Job 1. Geographers write that the City of Syracuse in Sicily is so curiously s [...]ituated, that the Sun is never out of sight. The Sun of mercy is never out of your sight: though one mercy be gone, yet you have se­veral that remain, and this should make you mute.

Themistocles invited many Philoso­phers to supper; the owner sends for one half of those necessaries that he was using: Can you endure this disgrace, said the Phi­losophers. Yes (said he) very well, for he might have sent justly for them all: the ap­plication is easie, Oh! let not nature do more then grace.

Fifthly and Eastly, Under sharp afflicti­ons, we ought, carefully to look that natural affections don't hinder the exercise of gra­cious dispositions: though we may weep,1 Thes. 4.13. yet we may not weep out either the eye of faith, or the eye of hope: though you may water [Page]your flowers, yet you may not drown your flowers. They that wep't, yea that wep't much, Acts 21.13, 14. yet said, The will of the Lord be done. Jacob doted too much upon his Joseph, and his affections were too strong for his Judgment, when upon the sight of the bloody coat, he refused to be comforted,Gen. 37.33, 34, 35. and said, I will go down into the grave unto my son, mourning. And David was too fond of his Absalom, when like a puny-baby, he wept and said, O my son Absa­lom! my son, 2 Sam. 18.33, 2. my son Ab­salom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom my son, my son. The Egyptians mourn­ed for Jacob 70 dayes, but Joseph (though he had more cause) mourned but 7 dayes; because he had more grace, and better hopes of Jacob's eternal welfare, then the Infidels had. In the midst of all your tears, keep up the exercise of grace, and [Page]then you shall not mourn, that you have mourned.

That your own is no sooner in your hand, is onely from the remisness and delatoriness of him into whose hands you had ordered the Coppy.

To conclude; That you and I, and all others (into whose hands this Sermon may fall) may live up, and live out, the follow­ing discourse, under all the changes that has or shall pass upon us, is the earnest desire and hearty prayer of him who is your entire friend and servant in our dearest Lord,

Tho. Brooks.

THE Silent Soul, UNDER Sorest Tryals.

The tenth Chapter of the book of Le­viticus, the last clause of the third verse.‘And Aaron held his peace.’

THese word's they are a hint to us of the holy Carriage of Aaron, under the hand of God. The Lord had laid upon him an affliction very sad; [Page 2]but the Lord gave him a carriage very sweet and sutable to it: I think I may say, God spake to Aaron bitterly, but He made no reply at all: Nay, the Text saith, Aaron held his peace. I shall shall make no other preface: Three things you may consider in the verse.

  • 1. The person, which was Aaron, the Lord's Minister. But remember this, by the way, that Aaron must be look't upon not as a Minister, but as a Saint, so that what he did, we must all do.
  • 2. The action, which was this, He held his peace.
  • 3. The occasion, which is contain'd in the former part of the verse, And, which you may translate, Then. And truly the occasion is that which gives most light to the action. Aaron had lost two Children at one blow, and God told him, He would be sanctified, He would be glorified; Aaron, upon this message, and upon this occasion, layeth his mouth in the dust, and held [Page 3]his peace. So that there is this plain Point ariseth from the words.

Doct. That under the saddest afflicti­ons that can befall us, we must hold our peace; or thus, It's the duty of the Lord's people, whatever He doth to them, to be silent▪ Aaron held his peace: Afflictions are of two sorts, spiritual and temporal: Tem­poral likewise are of two sorts publick & private, Now this was no spiritual affli­ction, but rather temporal. And it had in it something of a publick nature, but as to Aaron more of a private. And truly as to a private temporal affliction this of Aarons was very heavy. You all know that, As Children are sometimes great Comforts: So, often times sad af­flictions. The sin of our Children's lifes, and the suddennesse of our Chil­dren's deaths make sore afflictions. Aaron might at present reflect upon both, and that reflexion (no doubt) was his affliction: But although he was troubled, yet he carryed it wisely [Page 4]and well; He covers his sadnesse with silence. His practise is our Pattern, upon it I build my Point: And 'pray now mind it, Let the dealings of Gods provi­dence be never so sad, we must be silent, we must hold our peace. What Aaron did now, David did afterwards in Psal. 39.9. I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, because thou didst it. This there­fore I would stand upon (and oh, that God would strengthen me to speak it to you!) That it is our great duty under the saddest providences, to hold our peace. I shall onely speak one word of cauti­on to prevent a mistake about the Point, and so go on. And the Caution is but this. I am not now speaking of all our duties that are incumbent upon us, in the day of adversity, in the hour of afflictions; no (my Brethren), there are many duties besides this: when the Lord affl [...]ct's, there are many du­ties to be done. Indeed here are two duties, that I find are to be done in this [Page 5]Chapter, in our afflictions, and, in a desire & endeavour to do these duties, by the light and strength of the Lord in this Scripture, am I this day pre­sent (which otherwise I had not been) to Preach unto you. For I find, it was Aarons duty in his affliction to do his work, and to be submissively silent be­fore the Lord. These are the duties I meet with here, as I said in this Chap­ter, the one in the Text, the other in the 12. ver. where it is said; and Moses spake unto Aaron, and to Eleazar, and unto Ithamar his sons that were left, Take the meat-offering that remaineth of the offering of the Lord made by fire, and eat it without leaven besides the Altar, for it is most holy. The meaning of it, is, They are dead, but go thou about thy work, do not keep off from the Lord's service, do not let God lose that which thou owest to him. This is a great duty indeed, for us to go about the work of God in our place, whether [Page 6]Minister or Magistrate, or other. It's our fault and folly; under our afflicti­on we are apt, Child-like, to lye down and cry. Joshua lay upon his face, when he ought to have been up, and doing his businesse, Josh. 7.10. O Sirs! what­ever God layes upon us, let not us lay aside our duty. Let us strive to do while we suffer: Cast not off any duty that God requries, and which our place calls for, even under the greatest affliction. This is one maine peece of Satans poli­cy, by affliction to make us cast off du­ty: But certainly we must not say as it is, Verily, I have cleansed my heart in vain, & washed my hands in innocency, for all the day long I have been plagued, and chastned or (as it is in the Hebrew), my chastise­ment was every morning, Psal. 73.13; 14. No, we must not entertain such thoughts. But whatever affliction the Lord brings, morning or evening; we must do our work all the day long. That, besides others, is a great part of [Page 7]our duty in the day of adversity. But I shall speak to this in the Text. Two things I would do: First,

  • 1. Shew you wherein this duty lyeth, what it is to be silent, and to hold our peace under sad providences: And,
  • 2. Why this is so great a duty? For the first, what's this silence? what's this holding our peace? We have, menti­on'd in the Scripture, a two fold silence: the Phrase is used in a bad sense, & in a good sense, there is a sinful, and there is an obediential silence. There is a sinful si­lence, and a sinful holding the peace, which is not our duty but sin, and so is not required of us; and this is four-fold,
    • 1. A sottish silence,
    • 2. A sullen silence,
    • 3. A Stoical silence,
    • 4. A self-soul secret af­flicting silence.
    But you, and I, must take heed of these: and therefore I will shew you the rock that you might not come near it.

1. There is a sottish silence. Some hold their peace, because like fools they [Page 8]know nothing, observe nothing, can do nothing; This doth not become the Lord's people, they should be sensible, not sottish. Jeremiah complaines of such a sottishuesse in the 4. Chap. 22. vers. For my people are foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish Children, & they have no understanding, &c. What was this sottish silence? will you look back to the 19. vers. and that will open it, where saith Jeremiah, My bowels, my bowels, I am pained at the very heart, my heart maketh a noise within me; I can­not hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul! the sound of the Trumpet, the Alarme of Warr. Jeremiah observed God, he saw a Storm, understood a Judgment, he was not sottish, his bowels melted for it, but my people are sottish, &c. As if he should fay, Though I am sensible, they are sot­tish. There is a sottish silence be­ware of that. If the Lord smite, be not as a Sott that sees nothing; who therefore does not speak, because in­deed [Page 9]he cannot: we must hold our peace not as dumb-men, but as duty-men. He is not wise nor dutiful that cannot speak, and is therefore silent; But he is both, that can, but yet refraines. Sottish silence is a sin, not a duty. But then there is,

2. A sullen silence. A silence that, as we say of some, they are dumb, because they are dogged; they do not speak, be­cause they are sullen and will not speak: That should not be our frame, a sullen silence when we refrain from good word's, that was David's fault in the 2 verse of the 39. Psal. When he said, I held my peace, even from good. We may say, The Lord hath given, and the Lord hath taken; and say, Lord what's my duty, &c? But to say, as Jeremiah once said in the 20. Chap. 8, 9: I'le speak no more in his name, because the people took on, at what he said, that was a peece of his failing. And truly its a great fault under our affliction not to speak at all; we may and must [Page 10]speak to God and Man: To God in duty; to man both to ask advice, and to open our case for counsel and com­fort. He that holds his peace as sullen and dogged, sinneth, and this silence is to be avoided. I presse it not upon you. Nay, I advise you against it: But,

3. There is a Stoical Silence. Schol­lars know, what was the opinion of the Stoick's. They were silent; shall I say out of a high humour, it was an hu­mour, an earthly humour; they must mind nothing. I do not think it a good speech of that Heathen, who when he heard of the death of his Child, said▪ I begat him mortal. No my Brethren, God hath given us affections, that we might make use of them, for he hath made nothing in vain, we may mourn▪ we may weep, we may be sensible of the hand of God. There are a compa­ny of poor Creatures amongst us (you call them Quakers) that are much in­fected with Stoicism; most of ther [Page 11]principles, and much of their practise is but a reviving of what some Philo­phers counted their glory long ago. But truly, it is the shame of Christians to turn Stoicks, I may say Stocks: To mind nothing, be affected with, or for nothing, is a shame, and not a glory. I therefore reckon that, as a sinful si­lence. The Stoicks silence, is the Saints shame; Aarons was, and ours must be of a higher, a holier nature. But to passe on.

4. There is a secret soul-afflicting silence. There are deep souls that run like deep water's, they make no noise, they are very silent. I am apt to think it was He­zekiah's failing, when he said, He hath done it, I shall go softly all my years in the bitternesse of my soul, Isa. 38.15. It was well, he eyed God; but, to say, he would go softly, that is, he would bleed within, and not open the wound, was his failing. I know that speech: Ille dolet verè, qui sine teste dolet, Secret [Page 12]silent sorrow is truest, but not best: It is sorrow with a witnesse (as we say), because without a witnesse. To mourn in a corner silently, to weep, and not to word it: To let Grief swal­low up Language; and not to speak but to be drowned, and silent in a depth of grief, this is an evil silence. The Lord keep you and me from it: I do mention it (as the other three) to be a voided, not to be practised. Aaron was not, we must not, in any of these sen­ses be silent: for this silence is an evil; and therefore noted, that it may be avoided. Well, this is the first silence, and this sinful holding our peace, is not our duty under any hand of God. But Secondly,

2. There is an obediential silence, a silence that is founded in wisdome, and manag'd with reverence, and this silence is our duty. It is said of Saul when the Children of Belial flouted him, he held his peace, in the 1 Sam. 10. ult. that [Page 13]was a silence of wisdom. And in the 13. Job. 5. saith Job to his friends, O that you would altogether hold your peace, and it should be your wisdom. My Brethren, such a holding our peace as is our wisdom, that's our duty indeed under every providence, a wisdom-silence, a re­verential silence. Job speaks of this in 29. Chap. 9, 10. where saith he, The Princes refrained talking, and laid their hands on their mouth; the Nobles held their peace, and their tongue cleaved to the roof of their mouth; that is, out of reverence. And what saith the Prophet in the 2. Zech. ult. Be silent O all flesh before the Lord. Saith God to Moses, I'le be sanctified, I'le be glorified: And, Aa­ron held his peace; but wherein doth that lye? I'le open that but in three words. An obedientiall silence, or holding our peace, doth eminently lye in 3 particulars.

  • 1. It is a Soul-quieting silence. I think, so that phrase is to be understood [Page 14]in the 2 Kings 2.3. where it is said, The sons of the Prophets which were at Bethel came forth to Elisha, and said to him, Knowest thou that the Lord will take away thy Master from thy head to day, and he said, yea, I know it, hold your peace. As if they should say in our Language, Do you know that the Prophet will dy to day? Do you know your Wife, your Child, your Husband, will dy to day? Hold your peace saith the Prophet, as if he should say, Be not distracted. O my Brethren, We are ready to take on, like frantick people, but here's our duty to hold our peace. You know the story of Ammon and Tamar in 2 Sam. 13.20. where, saith Absolom to Tamar, Hath Ammon thy brother been with thee? but hold now thy peace my Sister; he is thy Brother, regard not this thing. It is in the Hebrew, do not fix thy heart: the meaning is, Sister it is a sad thing, but hold thy peace; do not distract thy Soul, do not set thine heart upon this thing. [Page 15]Such a silence as to quiet our Spirits, not to torment our souls, that is our duty. This silence is the Soul's quiet, in it the heart rests, not tormenting its self with tumultuous thoughts, nor foam­ing forth tempestuous words: certain­ly Christians should in quietnesse pos­sesse their Souls with patience. A pa­tient Soul-quieting silence, is both commanded and commended: So to be silent, as not to stirr to our distraction, but in our silence to quiet our Spirits, is our duty, and therefore I mention it. Aaron was thus silent, his chil­drens death was not his distraction. But this is not all; For I add,
  • 2. There is a sincere submitting Si­lence. Silence (you know) is consent, and to hold one's peace is a great phrase in Scripture, to consent to what is done; you have it twice in one Chapter, in Numb. 30.4, 12. And surely my Brethren, this is our duty, such a hold­ing our peace, such a Silence which giv­eth [Page 16]our consent to what God doth, is an o­bedientiall one. Unto me (saith Job 29.21.) men gave ear, and waited, and kept silence at my Counsell; Job was ac­counted a wise man, and what he did, they did, viz. held their peace, and gave their consent: and that's our duty, God is a wise God, when he strikes or speaks we must hold our peace, at least our si­lence should be so submissive, as not to wrangle. You have a phrase in Tit. 2 9. It is spoken to Servants, that they should be obedient, not an­swering again. You account it a fault if your Servants grumble; O what a great fault is it in us, when a God smites, for us to grumble. Without doubt silence in this sense is a great part of our duty in affliction: Thereby we shew we consent to what the Lord dorh. Will God take? By silence, give consent: Doth God by providence say I'le have that Child, that Creature, that Relation? Oh! let us by silence [Page 17]declare our assent and consent to what the Lord doth, Our silent suffering is an yielding to the Lord's doing, and 'tis our duty so to do. But lastly,
  • 3. There is a studying silence. A great Schollar was wont to say, when he would study such a thing, I must be silent. In our studies, we don't use to talk; a man cannot study and talk: therefore one of the first Lessons Pytha­goras gave to his Schollars, was Si­lence. Affliction is a School: when the Lord brings an Affliction upon us, and puts us into that School, we must be si­lent as Scholars, if ever we intend to learn. And thus I think the speech of Elihu to Job is to be understood Cap. 33. ult. Hearken unto me, and hold thy peace, and I shall teach thee wisdom. You know what the Scripture saith elsewhere, in Psal. 94. vers. 12. Blessed is the man whom thou Lord chastens; and teach­est him out of thy Law. Would you learn? How will you learn unless you [Page 18]be silent: we must be silent to study to understand the Lord's mind. Thus you see what the duty is; wherein es­pecially this obediential silence lyeth: In the day of affliction we must be si­lent. But how? Not as Sotts, or sullen Stoicks, not as those that are silent, mour­ning in the Grave. No, but consider: Truly, in the day of adversity we must con­sider, (as it is Eccles. 7.14.) And a­mongst many things we must consider How to hold our peace; how to be si­lent, so as not to distract our Souls; nor to grumble against God; nor to hinder our learning in the affliction: So to be silent as to compose our spirits, and consent to the Lord's dealings, and so as to study to hear the Rod, and who hath appoynted it, to learn our lesson in the school of affliction: This is our duty, and thus did Aaron here. I have now opened the point and our practice, What it must be. Let me now inforce and establish it by Arguments, Why this must be. To come to it:

2. Why must this be? I shall give you the reasons of the Point very briefly: My beloved, though the Lord might deal with you and me, upon term's of supream Majesty, and bid us do a thing without a reason; yet God bath laid no com­mand's, but there's the highest Reason for them. I'le offer you three head's of reason, why this is our duty, let the providence be never so sharp. If we do but soberly consider a little with our selves, even under the saddest pro­vidence,


  • 1. God, or
  • 2. Our selves, or
  • 3. Saran;

we may from each of these particu­lars see, and be satisfied in the ground of this duty of silence. I shall be short in opening; but do you consider it by your selves, more at large.

1. Consider God. Saies David in Psal. 29.9. I held my peace, because 'twas Thou didst it. He hath done it, what shall I [Page 20]say? was Hezekiah's saying. Affliction doth not arise out of the dust. What­ever befalls thee, let the Tool be what it will, it'; God that strikes. Truly, my brethren, this is a large head of reason; God doth it. Why, He may do whatsoever he will, both in heaven and earth. God doth it; He is wise and just, and holy, and honourable. God doth it, pointing at the supream diety, silences all: Let all flesh be silent, be­fore the Lord. But I' [...]e carry the rea­son onely upon one foot, and that is this, You cannot testifie your subjection to a God, if you be not silent at what he doth. You chastise your children, you will not have them prate and take on while you are chastising. Whenever God afflicts, he doth but chastise, and wilt thou reverence an earthly Father, and not reverence the Father of Spirits? Observe, how the Apostle carries on this argument, Heb. 12.9. Saith he, we have had Fathers of our flesh, which [Page 21]corrected us, & we gave them reverence shal we not much rather be in subjection to the Father of Spirits, and live? A fine child, a sweeet child, reverences a Parent; it speak's quietly under every dealing. Do you deal thus with men, and will not you deal so with God? My bre­thren, I said even now, that this is a reverential silence, and we can't shew our subjection unto God, if under eve­ry providence we be not silent. Veri­ly, our silence is our reverence: To take on and fret, to groan and grum­ble, to be as a wilde bull in the net (as the Scripture phrase is) to roar and to bel­low; It is to dishonour God. If we will acknowledge Him to be (as he is) a God, we must be still, as it is, Psal. 48. last. In the day of adversity they do not consider, but forget God who are not silent. Nay, men forget them­selves, who under affliction (in the sense opened) do not hold their peace. For,

2. Will you consider yuur selves, and you will see there is reason you should be silent. My brethren, Self-knowledge in most points hath abundance in it to carry us through all lessons; if ye do not hold your peace, you will hurt your selv's. To be silent is good for Self, and self-love is a good motive. You will say, What good is it for me to be silent, it is an case to take on? I an­swer, that which is easie, is not al­wayes best.

1. For first, If you be not silent, you will never exercise any grace: If a man's hand shake, he will not write well; when the man talk's, he can't study well: So, except we be silent, we can­not shew any grace, no grace of faith, no grace of patience, no grace of hu­mility. All these graces are exercised, and appear eminently in an obedienti­al silence. He that believeth, speaks not much: He that is patient holds his peace: And the humble soul in eve­ry [Page 23]affliction lies in the dust, submissively silent. You forget your selves (Oh Saints!) as to the exercise of these graces, if, with Aaron, you do not hold your peace. Besides consider,

2. If you speak, you will sin, and will you afflict your selves by speaking. Now, my brethren, mark it; Under affliction we are apt to speak more sinfully, and God observes it. You have a great evi­dence of a good man, who in the way of his affliction spake sinfully, and the Lord took notice of it, in Jer. 45.3. Thou didst say, wo is me now; for the Lord hath added grief to my sorrow, I fainted in my sighing, and I find no rest; here is the passionate speech of a man under affli­ction. I remember a very fine obser­vation of Dr. Stoughton long ago from this very passage: saith he, It is very facile, very easy, but not free to offend in word's. Thou didst say, (saith the Lord to Baruch). We are apt to say, and forget what we say in sorrow: But [Page 24]saith God, Thou didst say thus or thus. The Lord minds our sinful sad words. It is good therefore to hold our peace; mark that: Thou didst say, &c. Oh soul! the Lord observes all our words, in a day of affliction; and because we are apt to forget our selves, to speak sin in a passion, certainly, if we consider our selves, we shall hold our peace. Mind what David saies, I said, I'le take heed to my wayes, that I sin not with my tongue, Psal. 39.1. If you consider your selves you'l be silent: for if you speak much in the multitude of speech, there will be sin; and that is to be avoided, especi­ally under suffering. But,

3. You will but increase your trouble, at least you will not decrease it that way. Sorrow hath bin compared to a great flood, and if you draw up the hatch it will run. Unlesse we hold our peace, submit, we shall but encrease our sorrowes; at least there is but little hope to decrease it. In Lam. 3.27, [Page 25]28, 29. you have a great speech, and a good speech: Saies he. It is good for a man to bear the Yoke in his youth. If God will put it on, do you bear it, Why so? he putteth his mouth in the dust, if so be there may be hope. My brethren, there is hope, the parent will give over when the child is silent; and there is hope a God will forbear, if we hold our peace. But thirdly,

3. You have reason to be silent, if you consider Sathan. Sathan your adver­sary goes alwayes about; Nay, I had almost said, he is never more busy, then when we are under some sad dis­pensation; busy to watch you, that he might accuse you; busy to watch you, that he may tempt you; busy to watch you, that he may disgrace Religion for your sake. If you overrun the bound's, he will accuse you of immoderate sor­row. And if Aaron shall misbehave himself in sadnesse, Satan will misim­prove that misbehaviour to disgrace [Page 26]his place and profession. Did but Christians consider, how Satan watch­eth their words in a day of affliction, they would be wary what they say; and for Satans sake they would be si­lent. But I shall not inlarge this, nor add any thing more by way of reason. We shall make some Use of this Point.Use. Indeed the Point is large, but I'le only satisfie my self with one Use, and that is to presse upon mine own heart and your's, under all providences, this example to hold our peace: Truly my brethren, silence is still a great gift. The Rabbins have a proverb, that If speech be silver, silence is gold. And this I'le tell you from a better Author than the Rabbins, If in all conditions you look not to your tongue, you have no Religion, Jam. 1.26. Well therefore I would presse it upon you, whatever the Lord hath done, or whatever the Lord shall do publik or private, Be si­lent before the Lord, hold your peace, I [Page 27]would presse that which I have to say under a few particulars.

  • 1. First I would answer a few Ob­jections, that the soul may make against this.
  • 2. Give you a few special Cauti­ons. And,
  • 3. I would give in a few Directions. For the first, Do not think, thou hast occasion to speak. Whatever you ob­ject, there is enough to silence you. Aaron might have spoke more, than, through mercy, I hope any of us: His son's were cut off both at once. Shall I answer a few objections in mine own heart, it may be they may be in your's? Why?

1. Object. But the Lord hath af­flicted me so grievously, that I cannot hold my peace. For, saith the soul, He hath taken away the best thing I have, and that's a great thing: I had a posie in my hand, a nose-gay of flow­er's, and the Lord came and snatch't [Page 28]away the best of my flower's, and shall I not speak? I answer, Who should have the best, if not God? Would you say to any friend that should come into your Garden, Here are flowers, take any of these, but do not take the best? O my brethren, though God lay never so sharp an affliction upon you, and take away the very best; yet remember this, that the best God may have the best. The best child among all, the best thing which is in your keeping, if God take it away. Do not grutch God the best, for whom nothing is good enough. If the Lord take the Jewel out of the Ring, remember, God is most precious: And best is for best. Hold thy peace.

2. Object. I but, saith he, the afflicti­on comes into my soul, and can I be silent under a soul-affliction? Alas, the dag­ger that smote the Creature, is now come into my soul. Mark ye, Is it not said, The Irons went into the soul of [Page 29]Joseph? I answer, God smites thy soul now, that he may not smite thee in hell hereafter. O therefore be silent! God doth chastise thy soul now, that he may not condemn thy soul hereaf­ter. And, hast not thou then reason to hold thy peace? But,

3. Object. Alas, I must speak, I must cry out of my own fear; I have not done my duty, and God punishes me for failing therein. Had I done my duty, in such a case, for such a child, such a relati­on, I could be silent. But I have sin­ned, &c. I answer, If thou hast neg­lected one duty, wilt thou neglect another? Thou hast failed in thy carriage to that relation, and this condition, and there God smites thee: Because thou hast sinned once, wilt thou sin again?

4. Object. But wo is me, I must speak, I have reason to speak, I cannot hold my peace. Why? In my affliction God is gone, God is clouded, God is departed, and shall I not speak then? [Page 30] Answ. O beloved of the Lord! what said Mr. Burrows to this, If God be gone a little, wilt thou drive him farther? If God be departed a little, wilt thou make him depart more? Doth mur­muring, doth repining, doth a passio­nate taking on, bring God nearer to you? You will never help your selves under the fear of God's departing, by your taking on; you had better hold your peace; God will be in the still voyce. You may see by this, whatever you can object, there may be abundantly said to silence your Objections. Therefore I say, In all afflictions hold your peace. Secondly, I would presse it on in a way of Caution. And I beseech you take heed what you say in the day of affliction; let the affliction be what it will, take heed what you say. May not I say any thing, saith the soul? I did not say so: You may speak, but not sin­fully; you may say as Job, The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, Bless­ed [Page 31]be the name of the Lord, Job. 1.22. you may say, God gave me such a Creature, such a Relation, he hath lent him me many a year, and now he hath taken him away; I blesse God, he lent him me so long. Such speeches you may use; they are not spoke against. But 'tis such a Speaking as is inobedientiall, which I caution against. I said, it was a fault to refraine from good speech; it was sullen silence. Therefore I deny not all speech: Only, whatever you say, take heed of sinful speech. And besides others at present, what ever words you use, My brethren, there are but four things I would caution you against. First,

  • 1. Whatever you say, be sure you do not charge God foolishly, whatever thou speak'st do not write Folly upon the hand of God. It is said in Job 1.22. In all this Iob sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. We charge God foolish­ly, when we say, If God had done so, I [Page 32]could have born it: Me thinks, if God had taken away that, I could have born it. This is to charge God foolish­ly, as if God did not know what he had to do. If God had lent it me a lit­tle longer, I should have been well e­nough, this is to charge God foolish­ly. I have heard one say, Any loss but such a one! Another, Had I been af­flicted in any thing but this! A third, In case my tryall had been so, I should not have misliked it: Many such spee­ches there are, but I pray beware of them. Doth not the wise God do all? And is not infinite wisdom found in e­very divine action? Providence in all things is understanding; Oh, avoid these speeches, which charge the most Wise with foolishness.
  • 2. Be sure thou do not say, God could not afflict me worse. O we are apt to cry out, The Lord could never have af­flicted me worse, O beware how you speak so; What saith David, Psal. 90.11. [Page 33] Who knoweth the power of thine anger? You do not know my Brethren how a God can strike: Some have said, God could never have afflicted me worse: but, in a very few years, he hath given them such an affliction, which hath been far worse. Beware how you provoke God to strike sorer, whil'st thou sayst, God could not afflict thee worse. Thou provokest the Lord, to silence and confute thy speech by sen­ding a sharper affliction: and thou maist feel to thy sorrow the folly of thy speech. If God smite a second time, thou wilt find he can afflict thee worse than he hath done. But
  • 3. Beware how you say, There is no affliction like to this. We are apt to be prating, and, as the ordinary phrase is, Never any bodies affliction is as mine, beware of such a speech: Will you re­member this? It argues a proud heart for us to say, No body can be worse than us; Is no bodies Jewel so rich as [Page 34]thine, no bodies losse so great as thine? Thou overvaluest thy self, and under­valuest others, & thereby provok's God. He that saies, No body could lose such a child, such a yoke-fellow, &c. doth he not proclaim his pride, in thinking himself a None-such? and in prefer­ring his things before and beyond all others. Take heed therefore of such speeches. Thou knowest thine own losses, not anothers. Never aggravate thy grief by pride, in over-valuing your own, and under-rating anothers losse. 'Tis a sinfull speech, No sorrow like mine; you were better hold your peace. But then,
  • 4 Beware how thou saist, You cannot bear it. Beloved, God loves not, that we should return a Cannot. If thou saiest, Thou canst not, God will try thee. I cannot hold my peace: God will give thee two blows, to make thee hold thy peace. Do not say, I cannot, Non posse praetenditur, non velle in causa [Page 35]est. It may be, you can but you will not, and God is purposed to compell you. Certainly, God is resolved to make the whole World to bow; and if thy proud heart say, It cannot, God will say, I'le make thee; and better submit to a little blow, then to make God to make us submit by a greater. But,

3 ly. I would give you a few direct­ions, and I shall conclude: The great Question now is, How shall I do this? Aaron held his peace, but alas! I am not Aaron: David held his peace, but I am not David. Let me say but this word, You little know what you say, when you speak so. I would not speak to make you proud, but this I say, Gospel dis­pensations carry little Saints as high as David: Is it not said, A little one shall be as David? Suppose we are lesser Creatures, we have higher Hills to stand upon. But know, There are some things which David did not as a strong Saint, but as a Saint: It is a [Page 36]mistake to think David is not to be imi­tated because he was great. I told you, Aaron here, is not to be considered as a Minister, but as a Saint. There are some duties common to all. And this amongst the rest. You know, It is said that David was a man of Prayer: I am no David: therefore shall not I pray? Yes. But, How shall I be able to come up to do as Aaron did, and as David did, To hold my peace? I'le give you but three heads of direction.

  • 1. I pray, Before an afflicting providence com's, take heed that you do not make it to yourselv's and others more afflicting than it would be: My beloved, before the sad providence com's, you may do that which may make it worse when it comes. As it is with sick men, in a Feaver or Ague, men do that before the Fit comes, which makes it worse when it comes. They eat and drink, do t [...]is and that, which, when the Feaver comes, or Ague comes, make's the Fit [Page 37]more tedious, and worse then it would be otherwise. So it is here: Before an affliction, we may do that which may make it more bitter, then else it would be. We do that often, which makes the afflictions of God the grea­ter. I have two heads in this, if you mark it,
    • 1. That it may not be the worse for others,
    • 2. Nor for our selves.
    Do that under an affliction which, in regard of thy self, may not make it worse then it would be. I'le open it in an instance thus, Thou art it may be a Relation, a Husband, or a Wife, a Child, &c. When ever God takes thee away, it will be a sad businesse to thy Relation which is left behind; Now live so, as when you die, you may not encrease the affliction of thy Yoak-fellow, or of thy Parent. I will put it to Husbands and to Chil­dren. Husbands, So carry it, that when ever God snatches you hence, your wives may know, you are in the Lord's [Page 38]bosome. O ye little ones before the Lord, Live so, that if the Lord make your death an affliction to your Pa­rent's, it may not be so great as other­wise it would be; when the Parent can hope through grace, my Child lived so, that it is now with my God. It is not in the Father's bosome, but in Abraham's bosome: this lessens the affliction. You that are little ones, Live so, that if thy death be thy Parent's affliction, thy life may make it lesse. And well I know, that nothing more silenceth a parent, or a yoke-fellow's spirit, under the loss of Child or Husband; I say, nothing more silen­ceth, and quieteth the heart, then some good hopes that the Husband or Child is in heaven. So then as to others labour that way, to make the afflicti­on lesse. And secondly, for your selves. Whatever affliction God may lay up­on you, beware that before hand, you do not make it worse. A passionate spi­rit, [Page 39]a proud heart makes an affliction very sad when it comes. A passionate man, one given to passion, a little thing disturbs him. A proud man before it comes, he cannot stoop to it when it comes. Live so, as whatever afflicti­on shall befall you, it may be lesse then otherwise it would be.
  • 2. Lay up something before hand, that may silence you in the day of affliction: There are many things which will si­lence a soul, in the Language that I am speaking of silence. There are sweet thoughts which beger silence. I have not time nor strength to open so many as I should do. Lay up but two thoughts.
    • 1. Lay up this thought, that what­ever God doth, he will give you a good rea­son for it. You are in affliction, if need be: He doth not willingly afflict the Children of men. I pray, mind these two Scriptures, Lament. 3.33. and 1 Pet. 1.6. It may possibly be, we see [Page 40]not the need; but there is a need for every affliction: and that's the reason why God sends it. I pray remember it: though you nor I do not see the rea­son of an affliction, yet God will give a reason. The wise God he can, and the loving God he will give you and I a reason for every affliction, that we shall say, It was good for us that we were afflicted. Another thought, is this;
    • 2. That whatever the Lord doth in his providence, he will never break a promise; I mean a spiritual promise, that in any thing he hath made to thee. And of all promises, I shall instance in that great promise, the Covenant, in Psal. 89.32, 33. where saith God, If they break my Statutes, then will I visit their transgressions with a Rod, and their ini­quity with stripes; neverthelesse my lo­ving kindnesse will I not utterly take from them: nor suffer my faithfulnesse to fail, my Covenant will I not break, &c. If I [Page 41]take away that which was their be­loved, I'le never take away my own Love. I'le snatch away what you love most, but I'le never take away my own love. Though the Sun set in the firmament, yet the Sun of Righteous­nesse shall never ser. A third head is this.
  • 3. If you would hold your peace, Pray; And if you cannot tell what to pray, turn to David, and learn of him, in Psal. 141.3. Set a watch (O Lord) before my mouth: keep the door of my lipps. My Bre­thren, bad speeches are like rebellious Ene­mies, they will break out of doors, what shall keep them in? A good Watch. O but, saith the Soul, I am not strong enough to keep a watch: Why then pray, Lord keep a watch for me. O my beloved, if the Lord would but help you to be more in prayer, speaking to him, you would be more in holding your peace. I have now hinted, what is our duty, and offered to help you in [Page 42]it. Aaron did, and we all must, hold our peace. I would say no more, But me thinks I hear some body ready to say, But what is this Sermon to us, Whoever have lost, saith one, I have lost nothing, I have all my Children, all my Cattell, and I am flourishing and green. O Friends, I beseech you (as the Prophet Isaiah speaks in another case) hear for the time to come; you can­not tell what a day may bring forth: You cannot tell what a day may bring forth in private; nay, what God may do in pub­lick we cannot tell. Doth God begin with Beasts, and may not he end with men? Doth God take away our Cattell, and may not he take away our Chil­dren? You know what Zephaniah saith in chap. 1. v. 7. Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord, for the day of the Lord is at hand. My Beloved, there may be a day of the Lord at hand, a day of blackness, a day of darknesse, and a day of gloominesse; God may smite us in [Page 43]the winter, and in the Summer-house, God may smite us in publick relations, and in private relations. I would ra­ther help your faith, then create fears. Therefore I will not tell my private thoughts (which possibly may be my melancholy) upon publique accounts. Yet this I'le say, God hath put us to si­lence by strange providences: and if he put us to silence by sad, dismal, suffer­ing, providences, it is no marvel, for we have provoked the Lord unto it. It is therefore a word of advice before a storm come, before afflictions do over­take you, learn your duty. It is good to know, we must hold our peace at the Lord's presence; and if ever the Lord comes to your house, as he did to Aa­ron's, in any sad, sore, sharp, provi­dence: here is your duty, do as Aaron did, He held his peace.

In Parentalia charissimae Sororis.

SArcophagus tenerae juvenilia continet ossa,
Durantis (que) piae semper memoranda Mariae.
Quamvis descensa est et ad interiora sepulchri,
Nil aliud resonat, quin ad suprema resurgat
Coeli coelorum: cecidit jam argentea stella;
At coelis oritur stellae melioris origo.
Plandite Coelicolae adventum nunc hospitis hu­jus
Et gratum numero Sanctorum reddite vestro.
Sic deflet Johannes Durant, frater.

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