A SERMON Preached the 11. of May 1652. IN TAVNTON, UPON The Occasion of their great Deli­verance, received upon that Day.

BY GEORGE NEWTON Master of Arts, and Minister of Gods Word in that Place.

LONDON, Printed for William Roybould at the Ʋnicorne in Pauls Church-yard London; and are to be sold by George Treagle in Taunton. 1652.

Ezra 9.13, 14.
Seeing that thou our God hast punished us lesse then our, &c.

THe wickednesse of Israel in matching with the daughters of a strange God, after the Lord had sharply punished them, and then delivered them again by a miracle of Mercy; was the occasion of these words. The whole story certifies us, that when the time of their Captivity in Babilon was expired and run out, God wonderfully stirred up the heart of Cyrus first, and after of Darius, to make a Proclamation and Edict, by which the Jews (who then were Captives under their Dominions) were permitted to return, to setle in their own Country, to repair the desolation of the Temple, and therefore to re-erect and re-establish the worship of the Lord amongst them. An incomparable mercy if we consider whence they were delivered, and to what they were restored, and such as should have been a strong en­gagement, and mighty obligation to obedience. But alas! it proved not strong enough for their Corruptions, for they no sooner were again replanted in the Land of Ca­naan, but they turned aside from God, and waxing wan­ton with their Peace and Mercy, joyned themselves in Marriage with the people of the Lands, that were about them, and mingled the prophane and holy Seed together, which Ezra being made acquainted with, he was excee­dingly affected with it, so that he rent his cloaths and [Page 4] tore away the hair of his head and of his beard, and ha­ving spent his spirits in a holy passion, he sate down a­stonished; untill at length returning out of this amaze­ment, he betakes himself unto the Lord in prayer, and there exceedingly bewailes the peoples sin, and manifests withall a horrid apprehension of it, if they should yet a­gain return to their old abominations, which it seems he much feared; Seeing that thou our God hast punished us lesse then, &c.

Two things we have especially to be considered in the words, First, a rare and eminent Mercy acknowledged, Our God hath punished us lesse then our Iniquities deserve, and given us such a deliverance as this. And then a hor­rible abuse supposed, should we againe break thy com­mandments: in the same kinde, and in the same degree, in such a manner and in such a measure as before. I doe not say we shall, but if we should, what then? Why then our condition would be desparat, there would be no pos­sibility almost of an evasion? Wouldst not thou be angry with us, till thou hadst consumed us, that there should be no remnant nor escaping? There are a remnant of us yet, but then thou wouldst destroy that remnant too, and so there would be none left. In the mercy acknow­ledged you may take notice with me of these two parti­culars.

First, something Negative or Privative, the withhold­ing of evill: Seeing that thou our God hast punished us lesse then our iniquities deserve? Punished us thou hast indeed by our cruel enemies, but not to the extent and latitude of our deserts. Then something positive, the bestowing of good, and given us such a deliverance as this: Not bare­ly a deliverance onely, but such deliverance, such as can­not be exprest.

[Page 5]So that you see my Brethren, here is mercy upon all hands, mercy in the punishment, mercy in the delive­rance from it; mercy in the punishment, that it was such, so little, mercy in the deliverance from it, that it was such, so great: Mercy in the punishment, that it was infinitely lesse mercy in the deliverance, that it was infinitely more then they deserved. All the wayes of God are mercy and truth, mercy not onely when he saves, but mercy when he strikes his people: When he strikes he doth so little, and when he saves he doth so much: when he strikes he is so gracious, and when he saves he is so glorious, that he is wonderfull in both these.

Well then my brethren, here is a Treble and a Base, to make you musick on this solemn Day of Joy; the one is very low, and the other very high: The punishment is very low and flat, abundantly below their sins, beneath their merits and deserts. But the deliverance on the o­ther side is high and shril, indeed above Ela, Such as the Prophet cannot reach in his expression; and therefore mentions it in such a manner, that he leaves it rather to be wondered at, then distinctly understood. And given us such a deliverance as this. These two my brethren will doe very well together, though they be of divers sounds, yet if we joyn them, they will make a good concord. And therefore that I may not marre the musick, you shall hear them go together; and out of both, I shall raise this observation.

Doctr. It is the manner of the Lord when he punisheth his people, to abate and to be very moderate, when he de­livers them and shews them mercy, to exceed and to transcend all measure.

Both these you see are set together in my Text, that so the one of them might sound the better for the other: Seeing thou our God hast punished us lesse then our iniquities [Page 6] deserve, and given us such a deliverance as this: The pro­phet layes the punishment and the deliverance side by side, that you may look upon them both at once, and compare both together, that you may see the smalnes of the one and the greatnesse of the other: For if you mark it well, he sets a speciall emphasis on the Deliverance, no emphasis at all on the Affliction. The punishment is spo­ken of by way of diminution and abatement in a lessen­ing way, lesse then our iniquities deserve: But the deliver­ance on the other side, is spoken of by way of augmenta­tion and enlargement, such a deliverance as this. I shall proceed with both the branches of the text and point in order.

It is the manner of the Lord when he punishes his peo­ple to abate and to be very moderate. There hath been a question started in these latter dayes, whether the Lord at any time in any case doth punish his people. And true it is, he doth not neither can he punish them in a way of Vindication or revenge, for Christ hath fully satisfyed for them.

But he is often said to punish then in scripture in a way of castigation and correction: So the Original, is renderd in my text thou hast punished us saith Ezra. And for my own part, because I am not so farre skilled in the Hebrew, as to adventure to controule the translatours of the Bible; I allow of that expression in the sense before mentioned. And so I should advise all those to doe, who have no better skill then I have.

Well, when the Lord doth punish or correct, or chasten his people (call it how you will) it is his manner to abate, and to be very moderate; to do too little, rather then too much; to do rather lesse then more; Lesse then their iniquities deserve, as you have it in my text. He often laies on many stripes under, never one stripe over. Never [Page 7] more then we deserved: When he is sharpest, we must acknowledge with the Church, that he hath not rewar­ded us according to our sins. Psal. 103.10. Never more then we can bear, for the Lord knoweth whereof we are made, remembreth that we are but dust. He understand­eth very well how weak we are, and therefore he debates with the affliction, as the Prophet speakes, Isa. 27.8. whe­ther it be too heavy for us, yea or no, and if he finde it be, if he perceive the storm of wrath to blow too rough up­on his people, he staies his rough wind, in the day of the East-winde, as it is added there in that place. Nay, my beloved, as he never gives us more in a correcting way, then we deserve, never more then we can bear, so never more then we do need. If need be, we are in heaviness, as the Apostle in that known place, 1 Pet. 1.6. God never laies a stroak, a trial, an affliction more then needs upon his people. He alwayes keeps himself within compasse: And therefore he is said to spare his people according to his promise, Mal. 3.17.

There is a twofold mercy opposed to the strictness of a twofold Justice, with which the rigour and exactnesse of it is qualified and allayed. Either misericordia parcens, or, remunerans, either sparing, or remunerating mercy. The exactness of Justice in dispensing recompences, is tempered with remunerating mercy, when there is more bestowed on men then they deserve: The rigour of Ju­stice in dispensing punishments, is qualifyed with sparing mercy, when there is lesse inflicted upon men then they deserve. And this God alwayes exercises in the corre­ctions that he laies upon his people, he tempers them with sparing mercy; he staies his hand, and refrains his indignation. It is his manner to abate, and to be very moderate, as you have heard. That Phrase of the Apostle in another case, may be applyed to God in [Page 8] this particular, his moderation is known to all men. And it is singularly known to you the people of this place, how he qualified his wrath in all the late afflictions, that have been upon you: so that you must confesse with Ez­ra in my Text, That he hath punished you far lesse then your iniquities deserved. And there are many reasons of the point, I shall touch the principal.

1. And first of all, to say the truth, he hath no minde to punish or correct at all; so that it is no wonder, though he be very moderate in his corrections, he afflicts not wil­lingly, nor grieves the sons of men. Lam. 3.33. He hath no will at all to do it, no of himself he delights in shew­ing mercy, Mich. 7.18. The act of Justice is a little strange to him, what the act of Mercy is? for he is rather, though not more mercifull then just; and hence he stileth it, his strange act, which he is not so well acquainted with, Isa. 28.21. It is not with our heavenly, as it is often, with our earthly parents; they correct us for their pleasure, as the Apostle speaks, Hebr. 12.10. to satisfie their humour, and their passion, and the like. So doth not God, he takes no pleasure to afflict us; no, his delight and pleasure is ra­ther to be shewing mercy. You may observe how loath he is to deal against us, and how unwillingly he takes us up to lash us, Hos. 11.8. How shall I give thee up Ephraim, how shall I deliver thee Israel, &c. That hand cannot be cruel in correction, that takes the rod with such abun­dant reluctation.

2. When he is forced to correct us, he doth it in a good temper, and that is another reason, why he is so mode­rate: He corrects us not in anger, at least not in the heat of his anger, which hath no measure in it, no mixture of compassion with it, which is the thing the Prophet prayes against, Jer. 10.25. but with judgement, that you [Page 9] with serious counsell, and mature deliberation, as is ad­ded, &c. he is not like a furious man striketh, and on a suddain and in a rage, and felleth to the ground, never considering with him self, whether the blow be is about to reach, be fitted and proportioned to the strength of him that is to under go it, yea or no: No he chastens his with judgement and advice: He doth it in a settled and composed way, he is not angry, at least, but a little angry. When he deals against the wicked, he is sore dis­pleased at them, as his own expression is, Zech. 1.15. but he is but a little angry with his own people, as is added, &c. and because he is angry but a little, he corrects them but a little.

3. The Lord is very moderate; because as he corrects his people in little anger, so in great love: They may look up and see him smiling, when he layes upon them; when he is most severe and bitter with his people, his kindenesse to them works still, according to that sweet and precious promise, Psal. 89.31. If his children forsake, &c. Then will I visite their transgressions, &c. If he be in a little heat at any time, he recollects himself again, and in the midst of wrath remembers mercy, as the Prophet speaks, and tempers it with this allay; he considers with himself, as once he did with Ephraim, Jer. 31.20. Is not this my own son, is he not my pleasant childe, whom I am lay­ing on upon. And shall I use my own sweet child thus? Shall I shew him no compassion? With that his bowels turn within him, and he saith, that he will surely have mercy upon him.

4. When he punisheth his people it is his manner to abate, and to be very moderate, because he aims not at revenge, but reformation. Indeed revenge will have the most in a busines, it will have full and perfect satisfaction, [Page 10] he will not spare in the day of vengeance. And hence it is that when God deals against ungodly men in such a­way, he payes them home; because he doth it, as his own expression is, to satisfie and ease himself, and not to be­nefit or profit them. So that the Lord may say, when he is laying on them in the heat of his displeasure, as Isay 1.24. Ah, I will ease me of my enemies! Now I shall ease my self of such a drunkard, of such a swearer and blasphemer, of such a lewd prophane and vitious liver that was alwayes vexing me. Now I shall hear him swear no more, now I shall have him rend my wounds no more; I shall be pressed with his sins no more; I shall be quiet now I see, I shall be eased of him forever.

But now (my brethren) when he deals against his own people, it is a greater trouble to him, to make them suffer his corrections, then for himself to suffer their indigni­ties and provocations: Nor doth he aime a whit at sa­tisfaction (for that he hath received from Christ to the extremity of Justice) but onely at their reformation: So that he gives correction to them, as physick to recover, and not as poyson to destroy. And hence it is, that he deals moderately with them, according as he findes their strength and case to be; yet he may not kill, but cure them: He doth so chastise his people, as that he doth not loose the weakest of them by the extremity, or length of the affliction that he layes upon them. The rod of trou­ble shall not rest upon them, least they put forth their hand to evil, Psal. 125.3. I will sift the house of Israel saith the Lord, as corn is sifted in sive, Amos 9.9. But yet the least grain shall not fall upon the earth. I will not loose one grain of good wheat, as it is added, &c. and this for clear­ring of the former member of the point. It is the manner of the Lord when he punisheth his people to abate and to be very moderate.

But now (my Brethren) on the otherside, when he de­livers them, and shows them mercy, it is his manner to exceed and to transcend all measure: Then he takes his full scope, and doth not bound and stint himself as in the former: No he bestows upon his people superlative and matchlesse mercies, and salvations; he gives them such a deliverance as this, such as hath no parallel, no equall, with which it may be sampled or compared: Of which that may be said, which the Holy Ghost affirmeth of the spice, which the Aethiopian Queen presented to King Solomon, 2 Chron. 9.9. There was not any such spice; so there was never such mercy. In delivering, the Lord sometimes out-dares himself in shewing mercy, does rare and singular, and extraodinary things, such as he is not wont to doe at other times; such as his people are not able to expresse, as David speaks, Psal. 106.2. Who can ut­ter the great and mighty acts of God? who can shew forth all his praise? Such as they are not able to believe; no, they seem like men that dream, as Israel did, Psal. 126.1. such as they are not able to imagine; he doth abundantly a­bove all that they can think, as the Apostle speaks, Eph. 6.20. nay to go higher yet, such as they are not able (in some sort) to bear: As it is said of Jacob, when they told him that his son Joseph was alive, and that he was made governour over all land of the Aegypt; his heart fainted, Gen. 45.26. so God sometimes gives such transcendent mercies and deliverances to his people, that their hearts faint within them, they have not strength enough to bear the sudden flush of joy, that comes breaking in upon them. He loadeth them, yea, over loadeth them with benefits, powers out upon them such a heap of mercy as they can­not stand under. And whether the deliverance of this Day, were such a signal one, such a deliverance as this, [Page 12] such as you are not able to expresse, such as you were not able to believe, nor to imagine, nor to bear almost, I leave it to your selves (my brethren) to consider. Ah my be­loved, when you were first informed that reliefe was come, and that the Enemy was drawing off the Town, tell me how it fared with you, was not the joy too great for you? too large for those poor hearts of yours to hold? did it not stretch them, and dilate them overmuch; so that your spirits even fainted in you? I know when you reflect upon those daies of old, you will seal to this truth; That when the Lord delivers his, and shews them mercy, it is his manner to exceed, &c. And this he doth for ma­ny reasons; I shall name a few of them, &c.

1. The condition of his people may be such, that in respect of them it may be necessary, that God stretch him self a little, and go beyond himself (I mean his ordi­nary course) in their deliverance: Unlesse the Lord be pleased to exceed, it will not reach them to be benefi­ciall to them. As there are sins of divers sizes and punish­ments of divers sizes, so there are mercies and deliverances of divers sizes too, and one of them must be proportio­ned to the other. If the affliction and distresse be of the large size, so must the deliverance be. And hence it is that God sometimes makes the salvation of his people out of measure great, because their troubles and afflictions have been so: Such a distresse must have such a deliverance.

2. When God delivers his, and shews them mercy, it is his manner sometimes to exceed, &c. that he may make them recompence for their former miseries. And even as Joseph, when he had dealt somewhat roughly and unkindely with his brethren for a while, and used them so, as if be had forgotten all affection and relation to them; yet in the end, his bowels yearned upon them, so that he was not able to contain himself; and then he [Page 13] opened all his heart, and shewed his love more fully to them then he had ever done before: So when the Lord hath dealt a while severely with his people, as they think (though it be alwayes lesse then their iniquities deserve) and when he sees them likely to be swallowed up of sor­row and dispair, then his bowels work within him, and he can hold no longer, but is overcome: And out he breaks into such sweet and melting declarations of his love, as come not from him at another time; when he perceives his people at the point to sinck, and to be over­come in their afflictions, he labours to revive and chear them up again, with more then ordinary revelations and discoveries of his mercy: He sees the spirit would faile before him, and the souls that he hath made; if he should be alwayes wroth, and if he should contend for ever, Isa. 57.16. And therefore as the loving father when he per­ceives the child about to swound, while he is laying on upon it, presently lets fall the rod, and fals a kissing and embracing of it, and speaking very kindly to it, to fetch life in it again: So deals God with his people, when they faint in their distresses, and sinck away under his hand, away he flings the rod, and fals upon their necks, kisses away their tears, and makes them know how dear and precious they are to him, notwithstanding this sharp­nesse.

What was the time that God did so abundantly reveal his love to Hezekiahs soul, as himself expresseth it, Isa. 38. but after that extream affliction, when in stead of peace, his soul was full of bitternes; so that he could not speak in prayer, but chatter'd like a Swallow, and mourned like a Dove. You have heard of Jobs affliction, how un­parallel'd it was in all respects, and what end the Lord made, James 5.11. and that end was all mercy, God did [Page 14] exceed in that businesse, and transcend all measure: So that me thinks, I see Job even ravished to an extasie of joy, and I am confident that God had never shewed him so many choise and pregnant tokens of his favour all his life before, as in the end of that affliction. And verily the Lord is never wont to manifest such singular and extra­ordinary mercy to his Church and People, as when they have been dead and buried as it were; when they have been in a remediless and desperate case but just before, that he may make them full requital to the utmost, for all the trouble that hath been upon them.

3. When God delivers his people, it is his manner sometimes to exceed, &c. that he may lay upon them mighty Obligations. The Lord delights to have his peo­ple much engaged, exceedingly endeared and bound to him; and upon this account sometimes, he doth over and above for them, that they may see how much they are beholding to him, and how much they ow him. That by this means he may oblige and binde them strongly to obedience: And therefore this is made the scope and aim of God in all the great things that he did for Israel, that they might keep his statutes and observe his laws. The Prophet makes a Catalogue before of many rare, choise, and precious mercies, which he followed them withall: And then at last, he shuts up all with this, which shews the end of God in all; That they might keep his sta­tutes and observe his laws, Psal. 105. last verse.

4. When God delivers his people, it is his manner som­times to exceed, &c. that he may raise the greater trophie to his own honour, and make his name be remembred in all generations. The Lord sometimes is pleased (my bre­thren) to erect pillars, to set up monuments of mercy, that the memorial of it may not die for ever. He builds [Page 15] a None-such, by the greatnesse of his power, and for the honour of his majesty: He gives his people such a deli­verance, talis that you cannot finde a qualis, it is not to be matched again. And even as Princes when they have a minde to make their greatness known and spoken off, are wont to do some extraordinary act; so God execeds in wayes of kindnes to his people, to this end, that he may appear the more glorious, and that he may shew forth to the ages to come, the unsearchable riches of his power and mercy. Its true, that both of them appear, even in his common works, and the least and lowest of his favors; But in such rare and choice deliverances and salvations that transcend all measure, they sparkle forth with daz­ling lustre.

Ʋse 1. Is it the manner of the Lord when he punishes his people to abate, &c. Then let us be exact observers and admirers of the rich mercy of the Lord both waies: When his work is in his hand, let our eyes be in our head, and let us diligently look to one side and the other, when he strikes, how he refrains; when he saves, how he exceeds. The Prophet Ezra very acurately notes them both, Thou hast punished us lesse then our iniquities deserve, and given us such a deliverance as this? and we should strive to doe as he did. But alas we use to be quite upon the other hand, our manner is to amplifie crosses, and to deminish mercies; when God afflicts, we tell over; when he deli­vers, we tell short: We look on our afflictions in a multi­plying glasse, which represents them more and greater then indeed they are: But when we look on our salva­tions, we turn the other end, which makes them to ap­pear as nothing: When we speak of our distresses, we ag­gravate them to the utmost; we rise, we grow in our dis­course, as he in the Poet, I am twice, thrice miserable, nay [Page 16] ten times, nay twenty times, nay a hundred times miser­able. But when we speak of our deliverances, we exte­nuate; we are miserably short, low and flat: we are quite contrary to God, we exceed where he abates; and we abate where he exceeds: Oh my beloved, let us not be so cross to God, who is so kind to us; but let us learn of Ezra here, to think and speak of our afflictions in a way of diminution; and on the other side, of our salvations, in a way of augmentation: And this let me apply a little to the business of this Day.

1. Learn to lessen your afflictions, at least with refe­rence to your deserts: Acknowledge with the Prophet, in my Text, That they were lesse then your iniquities de­served. Its true, you suffered sharp and bitter things, when you were shut up by the Enemies, and many of you more then others: Your feelings, I confesse, were much, your fears were more: But what were all these to your sins, if God had dealt in rigour with you? Some of you I suppose lost your most choice and precious friends, which next to God were dearest to you in the world; Why, it is a mercy that you have one friend left: Some of you lost your goods and your estates; why, it is a mer­cy that you have a peny left: some of you lost your limbs; why, it is a mercy that you did not lose your lives: some of you lost your houses, you saw them flame and burn till they were raked in their own ashes; why, it is a mercy that your selves are not at this instant burning in the flames of Hell it self: Many of you were swept away by the Bullet and Sword; why, it is a mercy there was any remnant or escaping; that there is one left to tell the news of this deliverance, to magnifie the Lord for it. In death there is no remembrance of him, in the grave, who can praise him? Where are they that lost their lives in the [Page 17] sieges of this place? they are not here to joyn with us in the solemnity and chearfull celebration of this happy Day; to magnifie the Lord with us, and to exalt his name together: some of them, were they here no doubt, would be as forward as the best of us: But we may say to God concerning them, as sometimes Hezekiah did, The grave cannot praise thee, &c. Isa. 38.18. or as Heman sometimes did, Psal. 88.10. Wilt thou shew wonders to the dead, shall the dead arise and praise thee? No, this is our Prerogative who are preserved from the grave, and rescued from de­struction: And it is an extraordinary mercy of the Lord to us, that while others are gone down into the place of silence, our lives are lengthened out to sing his praises, and to speak good of his name, to keep another day of of thankfulnes to him, who is the God of our life: O let us say, as Hezekiah did in such a case; The living, the living, they shall praise thee, as we do this day. And thus if you survey your sharpest troubles and afflictions; you shall finde a mixture and allay of mercy in them, and so be for­ced to acknowledge, that God hath punished you far lesse then your iniquities deserve.

2. Learn hence to amplifie deliverances and salvations, to raise them to the very height, above expression with the Prophet in my Text, such a deliverance as this, as hath no words to set it forth: such as posterity will not be able to believe: and truly (my Beloved) even such a one was yours; it was a None-such in the land, God dealt not so with any other people, so that it shines among de­liverances, even as the Moon among the lesser Stars: Sur­vey the great things that the Lord hath done in these late years of wonder, and you shall finde that the salvation of this place was the greatest of them all, none to be compa­red with it; it had an asterisme of mercies in it, body mercies, soul mercies, estate mercies; which conspired [Page 18] altogether to make it out of measure glorious: Among the rest, this excellency was peculiar to it, that it turned the scales of the whol busines in these late wars: Oh my beloved, look round about this rare deliverance, and am­plifie it all the wayes that you can think upon; remem­ber how you prized it, when you were pleading for your lives, before the Lord, in the day of your distresse, what you would have done or given to be assured of a delive­rance, from that cruel death, which with amazing thoughts you looked for, when you were ready to be ta­ken by an enemy, whose rage and malice was boiled up to the heigth against you, &c. who would in probabili­ty have spared neither age nor sex; I say, remember how you prized it then, and do not let the price to fall again: Then it was valued at the highest, when you were reach­ing after it with fainting souls; now it is nothing with a­bundance of you: Oh loath your selves, for this basenes, and make it your great busines of this Day, to raise and to keep up the price of this incomparable mercy, to make the most of such a rare deliverance as this.

Ʋse 2. It is the manner of the Lord when he punish­eth his people, to abate and to be very moderate; when he delivers them and shews them mercy, to exceed and to transcend all measure; and do we finde that he hath so exceeded as in other mercies, so specially in the deli­verance of this Day. Then let us seriously consider, what a weight of duty lyes upon us, and how we ought to transcend and to exceed in our returns to God again. Be­lieve it (brethren) ordinary matters will not serve the turn; as God hath done more for us, so he must have more from us then from any other people: we must do singular and extraordinary things; if he exceed in mer­cy, we must accordingly exceed in duty, there must be some proportion of the one unto the other; we must strive to render to him according to the benefits [Page 19] that he hath done us, and to come up as near as it is possi­ble to his measure; such a deliverance must have such re­turns, and here to pitch upon particulars.

1. Such a deliverance must have such a remembrance, it must have some memoriall answerable to it. As for our selves (my brethren) we must ingrave it on our hearts, and keep a Register of all the mercies that concurred in it. As David had an inventory of the Gold and Silver that he provided for the temple, but the iron and the brasse he numbreth not, because it was without weight, 1 Chron. 22.14. So though we cannot reckon all the mer­cies of the Lord, his dayly, and his hourly mercies, be­cause indeed they are without number, yet we must be exact in numbring and setting down his Golden and his Silver mercies. Such a deliverance as this, with all the circumstances of it, must not be forgotten by us.

And yet this is not all my berthren: we must not one­ly keep these rare and extraordinary mercies in our minds our selves, but we must take some course that o­thers may be mindfull of them, and that while the world lasts, that the Lord may have his glory kept afoot in fol­lowing ages, A duty much commended to us in the Scri­pture, upon such occasions. When God had wrought a great salvation for his people Israel, Moses commanded them to write a song, and to teach it to their children, that it might be a witnesse for the Lord against them, viz. if they should prove unthankfull, Deut. 31.19. When the Lord shall build up Sion, he shall appear in glory, saith the Psalmist, Psal. 102.16. And what then, must they keep one day of thankfulnesse, and so an end? No there is some­what further to be done, this shall be written for the gene­rations to come, and the people that shal be created shall praise the Lord. Indeed there is an Ordinance of the high Court of heaven, to this purpose, Psal. 78.5. He appointed a Law [Page 20] in Israel, which he did command our fathers, and what did he command our fathers? That they should make the praises of the Lord his strength and wondrous works, that he had done, that they should make them known unto their children, and to the generation that was yet to come. And therfore I be­seech you (my beloved) let us think upon it, let us inde­vor to perpetuate the praise of God, let us use some means or other to transmit it to posterity, to make succeeding generations know what God had done for this Land, for this place, that he may have the glory of it as long as the sun & moon indureth. Brethren we have a great task in this kind, we have very much to do, because the Lord hath done so much: truly I think, that there was never any ge­neration that had such a weight of duty lay upon them. It was the saying of a wiseman, that troublesom times were good for the writer, & il for the liver, he that lives in them shall have sorrow enough: He that writes of them shall have matter enough; & certainly these times of ours, yield matter of transmission to succeeding generations more then any former ages. Let us take care as much as lies in us, that nothing be lost, not a scrap of any thing that God hath done for this Land, or for this Town, in plague, and in the sieges, but that it may be all conveyed down intire and whole and undiminisht to following ages; that the generations that are yet to come may praise the Lord; And to this end I shall set before you two things.

1. God will be a gainer by it. Alas (my brethren) it is little glory, we can bring him in our selves, and in our own time, if we should spend all our dayes in praising him, they are short and will be done upon the sudden. But if we can take course that all the generations, that are yet to come, shall praise him for the mercy which we have received, as long as the world lasts: this will be a great advantage, and truly if we love him, & be affected [Page 21] with his mercy as we ought to be; we will endeavour what we can to raise, and to advance the little tribute of glory and thanksgiving, which he is like to have among us, after so many rich and precious favours heapt upon us. And seeing we our selves who have received so much, can pay so little; we will be so honest yet, to charge our heirs, with what is comming from us to the Lord. And even as David layes a tax on all Nations, all Angels, all Creatures, to come in and to attribute what they can to the praises of the Lord, so we will lay a tax on all succeeding generations, while the world continues, that God may not lose all; but that he may in some proportion have the glory that is due unto his name.

2. Succeeding generations will be gainers by it too; me thinks the Prophet mentions it as advantage and priviledge to them of those times, Psal. 44.1. We have heard with our ears, O God, our fathers have told us, what works thou didst in their dayes, & in the times of old: He seems to be affected very much with the relation; And truly (my beloved) it may be very beneficiall to after ages, to be acquainted with the work of God, to know what he hath done in former times; it will bind them and engage them, to walk in some proportion an­swerable to them; or if they do not, it will be a witnesse for the Lord against them: As Deut. 31.19. It will testifie what God hath done, and what they ought to do; that they will not be able to be quiet, if they be unthankfull. And there­fore I beseech you (my beloved) let us think of something in this kinde or other, after such a rare deliverance. The peo­ple of the Lord of old, were wont to set up monuments of the great works of God, as Jacobs El Elohe Israel, Gen. 33.20. Moses his Jehovah Nissi, Exod. 17.5. and Samuels Eben Ezer, 1. Sam. 7.12. And shall there be no monument of such astrange salvation as ours was? No memoriall of such a deliverance as this? Truly (my Brethren) if you will set up some re­membrance of it, some work of Piety or Charity, to be a [Page 22] stranding monument of this deliverance; you would doe something worthy of your selves, and of the Lord who hath been so gratious to you.

2. Such a deliverance must have such a celebration, as is answerable to it; and truly for the outward part, I must ac­knowledge you exceed in this place; you do well that you triumph and Shout, Ring, make Fires, and feed upon the Creatures, and that liberally too: but yet you must not think that this is the main businesse (for bodily exercise profiteth little) nay which is worse, you must not suffer it to be a hin­drance to the main businesse. Truly (my brethren) I have observed heretofore, that there hath been too much flesh, too little spirit, in the observation of this Day. The bodily and fleshly part, hath been very high indeed, but the spiritu­all part which God alone regardeth, for it self, hath been ve­ry low and flat. Mens Tables have been better furnished, and their bodies finer drest, but for their prayers and their prai­ses in their Families, or in their Closets, they have been either none at all, or all one as at other times. There are too many of us, who have taken too much liberty upon such dayes as these, in a carnall fleshly way, and have been over-charged, and made unfit for spiritual service: I say, as the Apostle, Such rejoycing is not good; rejoycing is good, but such re­joycing is not good. Oh my beloved, I beseech you, let not the mercy of the Lord have a return of sin instead of a return of praise; yea under the shew and colour of praise: do not make this blessed day an occasion to the flesh; let this be such a feast as follows a holy convocation, and is agreeable and suitable to it. While we are at it, let us do as birds do, sip a little and look up, take the creature moderately, and and look up with thankfulnesse, to the God of our mercies; let us rejoice with trembling, tremble to sin against God on the day of our rejoicing.

3. Such a deliverance must have such a Reformation, as is [Page 23] answerable to it, a choice and singular and extraordinary re­formation, such a one as is not to be matcht again in all the Land. As there was no deliverance like ours, so there must be no Reformation like ours, it must be high and full, beyond any other people, that it may be said of us as of Josiah once, with reference to the exact and glorious Reformation that he made, like unto him there was no King before him, nor after him arose there any such. So there was never any people like to Taunton for thankfulnesse and for obedience, nor after them shall there be any such, that they that look upon us, and observe us, may say to us as they did to the vertuous woman, Prov. 31.29. Many people have done vertuously, but you have ex­celled them all. Never did God exceed in mercy to a People, as he did to Taunton, and never did a people excell in holi­nesse as they have done. Ah my beloved, think upon it after the Lord hath given us such a deliverance as this, shall we again break his commandements? as you have it in my Text. Shall we do it, who have been so signally delivered by the na­ked arm of God? and shall we do it in the self same kind, that we have done in former times? As Ezra speaks expresly here, shall we again break thy Commandements, by joyning in affinity with the people of the Land? after this, shall we return to our old corruptions, and our wonted wayes again? shall those which have been heretofore the sins of Taunton, be the sins of Taunton still? Beloved, look a little back upon your for­mer practises, and see what alterations this signall mercy of the Lord hath made among you, especially those which are the publick known and noted; evil of this place. Not to speak of pride or covetousnesse, or Sabboth prophanation. Some say the Taverns and the Alehouses, were never so fre­quented, that Drunkennesse was never so common, and so rife amongst us, as it is at this day. Ah (my beloved) what will become of this in the latter end? why verily if God be still provoked thus, he will exceed in wrath as he hath done [Page 24] in mercy, he will be angry till he hath consumed us, that there will be no remnant nor escaping: He saved a remnant last, but now he will destroy that remnant too, and make an utter desolation.

Oh (my beloved) let us who are before the Lord this day, remember, that we are the remainder that are left, the residue that are escaped from the late judgements that have been upon this place, to tell the world how sharp God hath been to others, and how mercifull to us. And therefore let the fear of the great God of heaven be upon us the remainder of our dayes, let us consider why he hath preserved us, not to be instruments of his dishonor, but monuments of his praise: That present and succeeding generations, may say of us, as the Prophet did of Israel, Deut. 33.29, Happy art thou O Taunton, who is like to thee, O people saved of the Lord: None have been like to thee in mercy and salvation, and none are like to thee in holinesse and Reformation.


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