A SERMON Wherein is shewed that the Church of God is sometimes a Subject of GREAT PERSECUTION; Preached on a Publick FAST At Boston in New England:

Occasioned by the Tidings of a great Persecution Raised against the PROTESTANTS in FRANCE.

By INCREASE MATHER, Teacher to a Church of Christ.

Psal. 122. 6, 8.
Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem, for my Brethren and Companions sakes I will now say, peace be within thee.
Jer. 51. 50.
Ye that have escaped the sword, stand not still: Remem­ber the Lord afar off: Let Jerusalem come into your mind.
Sanguis Martyrum, semen Ecclesiae,
Persecutio est pignus futurae felicitatis.
Sanguine fundata est Ecclesia, sanguine crevit,
Sanguine succrevit: Sanguine Finis erit.

BOSTON IN NEW-ENGLAND: Printed for Samuel Sewall, in the Year, 1682.


To the READER.

THat there will a Time come, when the Church of God upon Earth shall enjoy gloriose Prosperity and Dominion, is a great, and a Scripture-Truth. The greatness of the Kingdome (not in, but) under the whole Heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High. Dan 7. 27. There shall be no more a pricking Briar, or a grieving Thorn to the Hous of Israel, of all that are round about them. Ezek. 28. 24. The Man of the Earth shall no more oppress. Psal. 10. 18. It is not said that we do, See Dr.Good­win's Sermon on Rev. 5. 10. but that we shall reign on Earth. Rev. 5. 10. But to expect this before the creation of the New world (that New Heaven and New Earth, wherein Righteousness shall dwell) So much celebrated by the Holy Prophets and Apostles & in the Book of Revelation; seems to be unscriptural, & Irrational. It con­cerns us in this Age, not to dream of an Earthly Kingdome (as the Disciples sometimes did, & we are too apt to do.) but rather to think of going by the Cross unto the Crown; as we see others are doing before us.

That the Protestant Cause (and consequently the Church of God in this world) is now in a more hazardous State, than hath been known, for above those Hundred years; is a Truth, that cannot bat affect those who have their thoughts Exercised in Di­scerning things of this nature. When matters are reduced to the lowest ebb, they shall revert again. Nor shall the Churches Per­secutors, be any more able to prevent it, than they are able to make the Sea stand still; or to change the Ordinances of Heaven. In the mean time, the Lord knoweth how to preserve His little Flock, in the midst of millions of Wolves, and Tigers, that seek to devour it.

The Spouse of Christ, is now in the Lions Dens, and in the mountains of the Leopards: He knows how to preserve it there and how to bring it out from thence. Cant. 4. 8. It was a [Page] great Sight; and well might Moses wonder at it, when the Bush burned with fire, but was not consumed. The Church of God at this Day, is that Bush; which it threatened with the Fire of Persecution; and some part of it begins to burn: But we have this to comfort us, We know it shall never be consumed. God hath wonderful wayes to save His servants; when the grea­test Dangers do attend them. He maketh the Earth to help the woman. The Philistines must invade the Land, that so David might not be swallowed up by Saul. Senacherib must hear a Ru­mor that the Ethiopians are preparing war against him, that so his design against Jerusalem may be diverted. Notable is that passage which Scultetus relates; that when the K. of France was become a prisoner to the Emperour of Germany (Charles the 5th.) He was set at liberty upon Condition that he would do his utmost to root Protestantism out of his Dominions. But soon after, they fell at variance again (the Pope blowing the bel­lows of contention) by which means, the Church in that part of the world, escaped the fury of those oppressors. Memorable also is it, That about the close of the Tridentine Council (or rather Conspiracy) there was a consultation in Italy, by the Pope & his Cardinals, for an utter extirpation of the Reformed Churches throughout Europe. Every Prince in Europe had a certain part designed, where this project should be put in practice. But the death of that Pope (Plus V.) hindred the prosecution of the Design until the Time of Clement VIII. when it was revived, and the bloody Resolution confirmed, by him, & his Cardinals, under their Hands, & Seals. A Kinsman to Cardinal Baronius, was chosen to carry those bloody Letters to the Princes aforesaid: but whilst he was in his Journey, the Lord awakened his conscience, that he retired into an obscure Village, and there spent three Dayes in Fasting, Fullfilling of Scriptures. P 465. & Prayer to God: After which, in stead of going to Spain with the Popes bloody Commissions for the Distruction of the Protestants; He went into France, and there disclosed the whole Design to Mr. Figureus, an eminent Protestant-Minister; and in stead of shedding the Innocent blood of the Protestant Churches, he himself became a famose Protestant: by which means [Page] the designed mischief was diverted. This was not altogether un­like Pauls Conversion; after which the Churches had rest, & were edified. The like is to be said of Vergerius, (the Popes Legate) who designing to write a Book against the Protestant Re­ligion, was, by reading those Books which he intended to refute, Converted, to the acknowledgement of the Truth; so that of a per­secuting Papist, Dr. Fuller of English Wor­thyes. In West­merl. P. 137. & Mr. Crane's Prosp. of Pro­videnc. P. 317 He became a preaching Protestant. And there comes to mind, a very remarkable providence, which Dr. Fuller somewhere relates; viz. That about the Third of the Reign of Queen Mary, a Pursevant was sent with a Commission in to Ireland, to impower some eminent persons to proceed with Fire, and Fagot against the poor Protestants. And it happened by Divine providence, this Pursevant, at Chester, lodged in the House of a protestant Inn keeper, who having gotten some inkling of the matter, secretly stole his Commis­sion out of his Cloakbag; & put a Card (the Knave of Clubs in the room thereof. Some weeks after, he appeared before the Lords of the privy Council at Dublin (of whom Bp. Goren a principal) and produced a Card for his pretended Commission. They caused him to be committed to Prison for such an affront, as if done on design, to deride them. Here he lay for some Moneths; till with much ado, at last he got his enlargement. Then over he returned for England, and quickly getting his Commission renewed, makes with all speed for Ireland again. But before his Arrival there, he was prevented with the Newes of Queen Maryes death: and so the Lives of many, & the Liberties of more, poor servants of God, were preserved.

As for our parts, whom the Lord hath made to dwell alone in this wilderness, when we hear of the afflictions of the Churches of Christ, though at a remote distance from us; There are two things which God doth certainly expect from us: 1. That we should Sympathise with them in all their sorrows. Melchior [...] Christ himself doth so Isa. 63. 9. and so shall we, if the Spirit of Christ be in us. It is Recorded concerning the excellent Calvin, that he was more af­fected with the miseries of the Church, than with any of his own [Page] concerns. So was the great Melancthon. When Luther reproved him for his sollicitude about the protestant Interest (which in those Dayes also was in eminent Danger) he mildly replyed Sinon Curarem non Orarem. If I should have no Care in my Heart concerning that matter, I should not Pray about it, so much as I do. 2. The Lord expects that we should also prepare our selves to drink of the same cup. Are there not with us, even with us also, sins against the Lord our God, which may deserve it? The Lord planted us a Noble Vine, wholly a Right Seed. Well it were, if it could be said, we are in no re­spect degenerate, And did ever degenerate Churches continue long wi­thout smarting under the Rod of Persecution? It is a weighty word, which a great Worthy of our own hath, in a Book lately published. ‘There hath been (saith He) no Nation in the World, which pub­lickly received the Christian Religion; Dr. Owen, of E angelical Churches. In Prefa. P. 16.but it hath been wasted, & de­stroyed by the sword of Pagan Idolaters; or such as are no better than they—And I pray God, that the like Fate doth not at this Day hang over the Reformed Nations, as from their profession they are called.’

If it should go ill with the Reformed Nations, we have little Reason to promise our selves nothing but Halcyon Dayes. Security will be like to hasten, but a serious Preparation for it, may be a means to prevent, misery from coming upon us. So may we hope that God will conti­nue to be gracious unto this Remnant of Joseph; And the Lord grant that the good will, & Blessing of Him that dwelt in the Rush, may still be upon this His People, who are separated from their Brethren.

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At that Time there was a Great Persecu­tion against the Church which was at Jeru­salem, &c.’

THe Evangelist having in the preceding Chapter sett forth the History of Stephens Martyrdome, proceeds in this Chapter to relate what things were contemporary therewith, and consequent there­upon. In this Verse there are Three things mentioned as Re­markeable Events which happened either at, or immediate­ly after Stephens Death.

1. Sauls Consenting thereunto: So the Verse begins. And Saul was consenting unto his Death. Gr. [...], It pleased him well. The expression intimates that others li­ked it; and that He liked it also. He did indeed manifest his Approbation of it, both by Words, & Actions. And this is here mentioned as a thing very Observeable; that the Grace of God in Converting that Saul; in causing a perse­cuting Saul, to become a preaching Paul, (of which in the next Chapter there is a large Account) might be rendred the more gloriose, and illustrious.

2. A great Persecution against Christians. The chief Per­secutors had for some Time been restrained from doing what they had a mind unto, doubtless for Fear of the multitude: but when they saw the people patiently bear with Stephens Death, they were encouraged to go on in that way of Vio­lence, and Persecution.

3. A Dispersion of the persecuted Christians at Jerusa­lem, into other places. Thu's the last clause of the Verse. [Page 2] They were All scattered abroad thorowout the Regions of Judaea & Samaria, Piscator, [...]ig [...] ­foot, & alii in locum. except the Apostles: which words Intimate a Ge­neral Dispersion. ALL does not imply that all, and every Christian in Jerusalem did leave the City: but that very ma­ny did so; and that all the Preachers of the Gospel, (upon whom persecution is wont to light most heavy) except the Apostles, did remove. Therefore it is said in v. 4. They that were scattered abroad, went every where preaching the word.

It is the second of these particulars which falls under our present Consideration; viz. The Persecution which happe­ned at the Time of Stephens Death; which in the words be­fore us, is described,

1. From the Subject of it; viz. The Church at Jerusalem; which was then the only Christian Church in the World; the Gentiles not having as yet received the Gospel: So that the whole Interest of Religion, or Christianity, was here Strook at, & endangered.

2. From the Greatness of it; There was a GREAT Perse­cution against the Church. It was so in respect of the Kind of persecution, which the Enemies of the Chnurch were now come unto. Before this, they had persecuted onely with Words, and Threats: but now they proceeded to bloody Blows, Banishment, & Death. And it was so, in respect of the Number of them that Suffered. Dorotheus writes, that at the Time of this persecution, there were Two Thousand Christians that lost their Lives. And it is evident from the Scripture, that there were many (thò the particular Number be not expressed) that then suffered Imprisonment, Death, or Banishment. Compare Acts, 26. 10, 11. where Paul con­fesseth; Many of the saints at Jerusalem did I shut up in pri­son; and when they were put to Death, I gave my Voice a­gainst them; and I punished them oft, in every Synagogue. So that it might well be called a great persecution.

The Doctrine from hence is,

Doct. That the Church of God in this World, is sometimes a Subject of GREAT PERSECUTION.

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Three things should be spoken to, for the cicaring of this Truth.

1. When men may be said to be perscuted.

2. What Kind of persecution the Church of God in this world may be subject to.

3. The Reasons, whence it comes to pass that the Lords people in this world are sometimes persecuted.

Q. 1. When may a man be said to be persecuted?

Ans. This is, When a Christian doth suffer in the cause of Christ. There are three things necessarily implyed, in order to Mens being among the Number of the Lords persecuted ones.

1. They must be exposed unto Sufferings. Persecuted ones are passive ones. They suffer some Evil or other from the world. The Greek word ( [...]) properly signifieth a Fol­lowing of another: And it is sometimes used in a good sence: Thus, 1 Thes. 5. 15. Follow that which is good. and Thus, Heb. 12. 14. Follow peace, & holiness. But usually, the word is taken in an evil sence: even To follow another to do him Hurt. When a man does pursue another with a resolved mind ne­ver to cease, until he hath obtained his evil desire on him. Here is the persecutòr, & the persecutéd. In such a way did Saul, & those with him, follow David; and therefore does he say, Ps. 119. 157. Many are my Persecutors, & my enemies. & Ps. 142. 6. Deliver me from my Persecutors: for they are stron­ger than I.

2. They must suffer in a good Cause. A man may suffer, & yet, Non Toena, sed Causa facit Martyrem. Cyprian. not be pèrsecuted; if the Cause that he suffers for, be not a Good, but an Evil Cause. Several persons may be exposed to the same sufferings, at the same time; and yet the one be persecuted, and the other not so; according to the Cause which they suffer in, or for. We know that in Smithfield, six persons were put to death on the same day: Fox's Acts & Monum, Vol. 2 P. 529. three of them being Protestant Martyrs, and the other three, miserable Pa­pists. Fuller Hist. Cent. 16. Lib. 5. P. 235. When our blessed Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, others were at the same time crucified also: They received but the due Reward of their Deeds, so did the penitent Theef [Page 4] acknowledge, Luc. 23. 41. We suffer justly, for we recive the due Reward of our Deeds: when Jesus Christ (as tis added) had done nothing amiss: but was exposed to His sufferings for the sake of the Truth: because He did bear witness to the most gloriose Truth that can be mentioned: because He said, He was the Son of God, & the King of Israel.

If men suffer for evil Deeds, they are not persecuted. The Apostle saies Gal. 5. 12. I would they were even cut off that Trouble you. They are not persecuted, who are exposed to Trouble, for unjustly causing Trouble to the Churches of Christ. When Achan had troubled Israel, and God by brin­ging him forth to condign punishment, troubled him; that was no persecution. And if men suffer for an evil Opinion (as well as an evil Practice) they are not the Lords persecuted ones. If the Churches in Asia had Censured those that held the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, they had pleased the Lord Christ; who would not have looked upon the Nicolaitans as a persecuted People. When Jehu put all the worshippers of Baal to death, and when that godly Prince Josiah, in an holy zeal caused the Priests of the High places to be slain; (2 Ki. 23. 20.) they were not Martyrs; none of them were so. There are indeed some erroneous Opinions, which if any be exposed unto cruel sufferings from men for them, they that afflict them are not to be justified. Nevertheless, such suffe­rers are not Martyrs. Others do ill so to punish them: & they do ill in maintaining an Errour. Of so great Concernment is it, for men to have their Consciences rightly informed by the word of God, when they embarque themselves on the suffering side. Nay more, a godly man suffer from men, and yet not be persecuted in the Notion which my Text re­fers unto; h. e. if he suffer in a cause not justifiable by the word of God. Hence the Apostle Peter, gives such a caution as that 1 Pet. 4. 15, 16. Let none of you suffer as an Evil doer; yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed. A Christian may suffer; and yet not suffer as a Christian. A godly man [Page 5] may fall into sin; yea, into scandalose Errors and Transgres­sions, and be justly punished on account thereof. To suffer Persecution, is to suffer in the cause of Christ. When for Gods sake, a man does suffer from the world. According to what the Church saies, Ps. 44. 22. For Thy sake we are killed all the day long: we are counted as sheep for the slaughter. Or, For Righteousness sake. Thus Mat. 5. 10. Blessed are they which are persecuted for Righteousness sake. Or for the Gospels sake Mar 10. 29. Or, for Christ's sake 2 Cor. 12. 10. Upon which ac­count, Martyrs are called the Martyrs of Jesus, Rev. 17. 6. A man suffers in the cause of God, & so is persecuted, when he suffers for his godliness. As 1 Joh. 3. 12. Cain slew Abel his brother, because his works were Righteous. Or, for bearing witness to any Truth contained in the word of God. As in Rev. 1. 9. & 6. 9. & 20. 4. We read of them that were slain for the word of God. Hence one of the Martyrs when he came to die, held his Bible in his hand, before the people, saying Behold! Here is that which has brought me hither. In such a case, Suffering is a blessed Testimony. Or, for opposing, & testi­fying against any thing that is condemned in the word of God. He is persecuted, that suffers for opposing any corrupt Opinion in matters of Faith, or Worship: which was the case of Daniel, & the three Worthyes; and of the Christians in the Primitive Times: and in these latter Ages also, the Churches of God have been subject unto horrible slaughters for opposing Antichristian Superstitious Doctrines; especial­ly, when the Lords faithful witnesses began boldly to declare against the Pope, & Church of Rome, they were exposed un­to great & grievous persecution, on that account, as the Scri­pture foretold it should come to pass. Rev. 14. 9, 13. He also is persecuted, that suffers for bearing witness against any sinful Practice. If a man set himself against the sins of the Times, for that his Life and Blood may be taken from him; Heb. 12. 4. & Then is he persecuted, Then is he a Martyr. Such an one was Zechariah the son of Jehojadah; who was sto­ned [Page 6] to death for his faithful Testimony against sin, 2 Chron. 24. 20, 21. And John Baptist, who was beheaded for bearing witness against the Uncleanness which some great persons in those Dayes Lived in, Mat. 14. 3.

But, 3. (one thing more) They must suffer from a Right Principle, h. e. from a principle of Faith, and true obedience to the will of God: a principle of Love to God; of Fear of His great Name; of Conscience to His will; and that they may keep their Consciences pure in His sight. If a man for Conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully, 1 Pet. 2. 19. If Conscience toward God; Respect, and obedience to His will, carry a man out in suffering, then is he persecu­ted. Indeed, there are, in a more strict and Scripture-sence, No Persecuted ones, but such as have the fear of God in their hearts: Hence such are pronounced Blessed, Mat. 5. 10. and called Saints, Rev. 17. 6. and 13. 6. which does imply their being in a state of grace. It is possible a man may suffer unto the loss not only of Liberty, but of Life it self; and that in a good cause also; and yet not be a true Member & Martyr of Jesus Christ: not having a true principle of Love to God in him, 1 Cor 13. 3. Socrates, an Heathen, suffered Death ('tis said) for maintaining that there is but one God; and the poor Jews have sometimes been exposed unto great sufferings, be­cause they will not comply with Popish, or Mahometan Su­perstitions. Arians, and other Hereticks have sometimes lost their Lives in the common cause of Christianity, when Pa­gan enemies have prevailed over them: yea, so have some po­pish Idolaters done. There have been, that out of pride and vain glory, did suffer not a little. Ecclesiastical History speaketh of those that would Murder themselves, out of a vainglorious ambitious desire to be accounted Martyrs. But if men are acted, and carried out in sufferings from no better principles than those, the Lord will not own them for his persecuted ones.

Q. 2. What Kind of persecutions may the Church of God in [Page 7] this world, be subject to?

Ans. There is a threefold Persecution.

1. There is the persecution of the Heart: when men do se­cretly hate the Image of God in His servants; and therefore malign them, and wish evil to them: It is said, Ps. 129. 5. Let them all be confounded, & turned back, that Hate Zion. Here persecution begins: There is an Hatred of Zion, which is no better than persecution. Joseph was persecuted by his Bre­thren, when they Hated him for his godliness, Gen. 37. 2, 4: Micajah was persecuted by Ahab; when he said, I Hate him, 1 K. 22. 8. And thus, the Lords people are alwayes the subjects of great persecution: being much hated in the world, because they cannot comply with the evil manners of it. The world hateth you, Joh. 15. 18, 19. And, Ye shall be hated of all men for my Names sake, Luc. 21. 17. Saies our Lord Jesus to His Disciples. & This Now is persecution, yea, bloody persecu­tion in the sight of God: For, whosoever Hateth his Brother, is a Murderer, 1 Joh. 3. 15. If the Lord did not wonderfully restrain them, the wicked would serve the godly, as Cain did Abel. Inasmuch as they hate them, they would destroy them: For hatred doth not rest, but in the destruction of the thing hated.

2. There is the Persecution of the Tongue: when the Lords servants are Reproached, and Reviled, because of their Zeal for, and their Faithfulness unto God. We read that Ishmael mocked Isaac, Gen. 21. 9. Now Paul saies, Gal. 4. 29. He that was born after the flesh, Persecuted him that was born after the spirit. So then in such Mocking there is Persecution. Thus Christ saies, Mat. 5. 11. Blessed are you, when men perse­cute you: Persecute you! How? Tis added; And Revile you; & shall say all manner of evil against you, falsely, for my sake. When Reproaches are cast upon the servants of Christ, on the account of their Zeal for Christ; then do they suffer per­secution. Arians of old, would call the great Athanasius by the Name of Satanasius; and Papists used to call their Dogs [Page 8] Calvin; that so they might vilify that great Reformer. Names of Reproach are commonly gives to the Lords ser­vants: Hugonots, Fanaticks, and what not? And unto this kind of persecution, the Church of God is alwayes subject; more or less. It is said, 2 Tim. 3. 12. All that will live godly in Christ Jesus, shall suffer Persecution. Be sure, the persecu­tion of the Heart; and the persecution of the Tongue, they shall suffer; however it may be with them, as to a further per­secution. Therefore

3. There is the Persecution of the Hand; when Violence is of­fered to Christians, because they are Christians; when they are deprived of their civil Libertyes, for professing the Faith of Christ: which was the case of those Christians my Text hath reference unto: and of the Church in Smyrna; concer­ning whom 'tis said, Rev. 2. 10. The Devil shall cast some of you into prison. Or, when their Estates are taken from them for that they are faithful to the Lords Cause, & Interest. As it was with the Chrstian Jews, who took joyfully the spoilng of their goods, Heb. 10. 34. Most of all, when they Lose their Lives for their bearing witness to the Truth. They who so suffer, are by way of Eminency called Martyrs, i. e. Witnesses: (Rev. 2. 13.) because this is the Highest witness­bearing that can be, when a Christian doth Seal the Truth he hath professed, with his Blood. Great persecutions of this sort, have sometimes (and many a time) been raised-against the Church of God. Thus in the X. Primitive persecutions (under the Heathen Emperours) especially the last of them, the whole Church of God, and Interest of Christianity was persecuted. And after this, the Arians; who indeed called themselves Christians, did persecute the Orthodox as much as the Heathen had done before them. And last of all, Anti­christ hath made it his Design to destroy those that have born witness for Christ: It is given unto him to make war with the Saints. And the Antichristan persecution must continue, more or less, for forty two moneths, h. e. for the space of [Page 9] twelve hundred & sixty years, Dan. 7. 21, 25. The Pope of Rome (successively considered) is that Antichrist, Rev. 13. 5, 7. V. M [...]de in Ap [...]. 13 6. & W [...]llet's Synops. Papism. Pag. 1175. Papists have been the most bloody persecutors in the world; they have shed Rivers of blood. Among the Albigen­ses, & Waldenses, they murdered above a Million. In the last Century, within the space of fourty years; viz. between An. 1540. & 1580 in Europe, they slew Nine Hundred Thousand Protestants. About forty years ago, they slaughtered Three Hundred Thousand Protestants in that one Kingdome of Ireland: and according to the computation which some have made, V. Alsted Encyclop. in Chro­nol. C. 8. ad Annum 1540. they have, since the setting up of the Inquisition, shed the blood of more Protestants in Europe, than there are Pa­pists at this day alive upon the face of the Earth.

Q. 3. Whence comes it to pass that the Lords people in this world are thus persecuted?

Reas. 1. Sin is the cause of it. Be sure, that sin which is in the hearts of the persecutors themselves, even the Natural Enmity, which they have against godliness, and godly men, is the Reason of the persecution caused by them. There is en­mity in the seed of the serpent against the seed of the woman Gen. 3. 15. and from that enmity persecution does arise. Cain (the first persecutor) persecuted Abel to death because of this. Sore eyes cannot bear the light: Nor can guilty sinners endure the light of Gods Image appearing in the spirits, and in the conversations of His Saints. Tigres (they say) are put in a Rage by a fragrant Smell brought near unto them: Tru­ly, the fragrant graces of the Saints, put the Tigres of the world into a cursed Rage at them.

Yea, and many times the sins which Gods people them­selves are subject to, are the procuring cause of great persecu­tion. By their own sins they provoke the Lord to put a sword into the Hands of their Enemies. The sins found a­mongst the Churches of Christ, do this. For indeed, their transgressions do most of all dishonour, and displease Him. If his Sons, and his Daughters provoke him, He will surely [Page 10] scourge them in the open sight of others. For Three sins e­specially:

1. Apostasy. When Solomon did forsake God, the Lord rai­sed up these, and those Adversaryes against him, 1 Kings, 11. 9, 14. The Babylonian persecution came on the Jews because their backslidings were increased. Therefore were they torn in pieces by Evening-wolves, by Lions, and by Leopards, Jer. 5. 6. And in the Dayes of the Judges, Enemies made havock of the Israelites, because of their going a whoring from God. By their Apostasies, they provoked the Lord; that He sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, Judg. 2. 13, 41. When the Lord strengthened the King of Moab against Israel, it was because Israel had done evil in his sight. So when the Lord left them to be oppressed, and scat­tered by the Midianites, Philistines, Ammonites; It was be­cause they had left G od, in departing from his holy and righ­teous wayes. We need goe no further than our own Nation, for the confirmation of this. The Saxons (from whom we are generally Descended) became great Idolaters, serving gra­ven Images, Canonizing Saints, and worshipping them; in stead of God in Christ alone. For which cause, God punished our forefathers with the Danish Persecution; and after that with the Norman Conquest.

2. Sinful Divisions and contentions; If Gods people fit loose from him, or if they fit loose one from another, the Lord lets loose persecuting enemies upon them. When a shepherd sees his sheep scattered one from another, he sets his Dogs to drive them together. Persecutors are called Dogs in the scripture, Ps. 22. 16. When the Lords people are scattering, and dividing, the Shepherd of Israel lets loose those Dogs upon them. That was the case of the Primitive Christians: especially with reference to Aurelian's Persecution They were exposed unto the Scorn of the Heathen, and that on public Theaters, for their Contentions; and then perse­cution followed. If Christians will not have peace with their [Page 11] Brethren; then they shall have war with their Enemies.

3. Formality in Religion. When professors are generally grown cold, and lifeless in Religion; God casts them into a fiery furnace of Persecution: that life, and heat might be brought into them again. Thus does the Lord Jesus say to the Church at Sardis, Rev. 3. Init. Thou hast a Name to live, & art dead: Therefore I will come on thee as a Thief. h. e. Sud­denly. Storms of persecution arise suddenly for this. The truth is, Formalists in Religion, are many times the most bit­ter persecutors. Though Formalists may be professors of the same Religion with the sincere; (as Cain & Abel were of the same Religion; only Cain was a meer Formalist, when Abel had the power of godliness) yet the former sometimes persecute the latter to the Death. And it is just with God to punish His degenerate people by those that they are become like unto. And if we search the Records of former ages, we shall find, that an eminent Persecution, whether of the Church in general, or of the Churches in this or that particular Land, have seldome hapned, except great decayes as to Zeal, & the power of godliness amongst professors, have gone before it, and made way for it. The British Churches of old, retained the Name, and Form of Christianity, (just as some in these dayes, have the Name of Protestants) but they were, many of them, persecutors of those that had the power of godliness in their profession, and coversations, (as Gildas a faithful preacher of their own, Gildas de Ex­cid. Britanniae. Testifieth) therefore the Lord first plagued them by the Picts, (a sort of men not unlike our In­dians) and after that, rooted them out of their own Land by those Saxons & Angles which came out of Germany.

Reas. 2. The power, & malice of Satan, is another Ground of the persecution suffered by the Saints. Satan hath an Hand in all those persecutions which are raised against the Church of God. In Rev. 3. 10. it is said, The Divel shall cast some of you into prison. If the people of God are cast In o Prisons, for the Truths sake; It is the Divel that does it; whoever are [Page 12] the Instruments. And therefore in Rev. 12. end, we read of a Flood cast out of the mouth of the Dragon. When floods of persecution arise, they come out of the Dragons Mouth. And there are especially two wayes, whereby Satan brings about his Design of persecuting the Churches of God.

1. By Slandering of them. He is called [...] (i. e. a Slanderer) in the Scriptures. He raises evil Reports; cau­seth this and that Evil to be believed, concerning the Lords servants: as if they were Seditious, and Rebellious, & what not? So 'twas said of Jerusalem, Ezra, 4. 1 [...]. This City is a Rebellious City; & Hurtful to Kings, & they have of old time mo­ved Sedition within the same. Yea, so 'twas said of the blessed Lord Jesus Christ Himself; Luc. 23. 2. We have found this Man perverting the Nation, & forbidding to give Tribute to Casar. Or, as if they were Hereticks, and held blasphemous Opinions, Acts, 24. 14. Stephen was accused for speaking blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. Acts, 6. 11. In the Primitive Times, Christians were traduced, as if they did not wish well to the Emperours under whose Gover­ment they lived: yea, they were charged with most monstrous both Opinions and Practices; as we see by the writings of Justin Martyr, Tertullian, and others; who were necessitated to publish Apologies for Christians, vindicating them from the malignant Slanders, which Satan and his Instruments had raised against them. They would put them into Bears skins, and then Dogs would devour them.

2. By stirring up the Powers of the world-against them. The Divel, for the most part, (though not alwayes) hath the Powers of the world on his side. Hence we read of the Pow­er of the Enemy, Luc. 10. 19. And when it is so, he causeth great persecutions. When wicked Men, and those that are bitter Enemies to the wayes, and servants of God, have great power in their Hands, this is as Satan would have it; & these he stirrs up to persecute. Where wicked Rulers are, Satan has his Throne. 'Twas said of Pergamus, Rev. 2, 13. There [Page 13] it the Seat (or throne) of Satan: because there was a wicked Ruler; a general Governour over that Province, who did reside in the City of Pergamus; and was Satans chief Instru­ment in persecuting the Saints. See Rev. 13. Its said v. 2. The Dragon gave the Beast his power, & his seat, & great autho­rity; and then, tis added, v. 7. It was given to him to make war with the Saints. If the Dragon gets power into the hands of the Beast, bloody persecution is raised against the Church of God. And yet, neither Sin, nor Satan could cause the Church to be persecuted, without another Reason: without the Lords permission they could do nothing. Wherefore,

Reas. 3. The Lord hath an holy hand, & glorious ends in all the Persecutions which befall his people. The Lord aims herein

1. At the glory of His own Name; which is his principal end. Peter was to die a Martyr: and tis said, Joh. 21. 19. Christ signified to him by what Death he should glorify God. A man by Suffering, may possibly bring more glory to God in one hour; than by Doing never so much for Him all his life-time before. In this way, the Lord attains the propagation of his Church. The Church never thrives more than when (like a Vine) watered with its own blood. The more the Egyptians afflicted the Israelites; the more they multiplyed, and grew: Exod. 1. 12. The Borders of the Church were enlarged by the persecution in my Text. Usher de Eccl. Brit. Primord. P. 15. It caused a Dispersion of Chri­stians, and so an Increase of Christianity; so that by this oc­casion, the Samaritanes, Fuller's Hist. of Brit. P. 6, 7. Mr. Clark's Martyrol. Pag. 78, 134, 231. & Gentiles came to have the Church of God among them. Some write, that a persecution raised by the Jews against Christians, caused Joseph of Arimathea, and others to come over into England (then called Britain) by means whereof, the Gospel, and Christianity was first planted in the Land of our Forefathers sepulchers. When the Waldenses were persecuted, some of them fled into Picar­dy; others into Germany: whence also the Doctrine of the Go­spel was spread abroad, & embraced in those places. When the Papists raised a great persecution against the Bohemian [Page 14] Brethren, they grew in numbers; many of the Peers of the Land joyning with them. And when some of their Ministers were banished, they carried the Gospel into Moravia, and to the remotest parts of Prusia. The Church of God in France wonderfully increased, when above an hundred years agoe, they were persecuted, and miserably oppressed by Popish Ad­versaries. Though the Divel, and his Instruments design the Destruction of Christianity by persecution, yet the only wise God does outshoot him in his own Bow, and cause it to tend to the Inlargement thereof. The constancy, and pati­ence of the Lords servants in their sufferings, does gain o­thers over to the truth; perhaps, convert many thousands to the wayes of God. This made the Heathen in the primitive Times, cry out, Verè Magnus est Deus Christianorum. Truly! Great is the God of the Christians. Sometimes their cruel E­xecutioners, have been thereby Converted. And because of this, a popish Adversary advised that no more Protestants might be burnd to death: for (said he) The Smoke of such a Sufferer infected all it blew upon; and made them Turn Prote­stants too.

2. At the Trial of his servants. The Lord Jesus said to Smyrna, Rev. 2. 10. Behold! the Divel shall cast some of you in­to prison; that you may be Tryed: and ye shall have tribulation ten Dayes. There was the persecution under Trajan, that la­sted ten Dayes; viz. ten prophetical Dayes: h. e. ten years. And this was for the Trial of those Christians. Persecution is to try whether men will cleave to God, or no; to try the sincerity of their Faith, and Obedience; to try what Mettal they are made of: whether pure, or base: and whether they are Gold, or Dross. Grapes come not to the proof, until they come to the press. Alas! Many professors of Religion are like the Stony-ground hearers, See Mr. Bur­roughs's Ser­mons on Matth. 5. 11, 12. Mat. 13. 21. that having no Root in themselves, endure but for a while: and when tri­bulation, or Persecution ariseth because of the word, by & by they are Offended. Persecution tryes who are such. When a [Page 15] Storm comes, withered leaves fall off; but green leaves abide: Even so sincere Christians will stand; but withered, unsound professors fall away, when a Strom of persecution blowes. For this Reason the Lord sends persecution on His Church, that so men may discern between the righteous and the wic­ked, between those that truly Fear God, and those that Fear him not.

3. The Lord hereby aymeth At the Good of his people. They are bettered as to their spiritual estates, by all those sufferings which in this world they are subject unto. God's children are like Starrs, that shine brightest in the darkest night; like Spices, that smell sweetest when pounded. It is noted of the persecution under Antiochus, Dan. 11. 35. It should be to Purge the saints, & to make them White. Their temporal losses are made up in Spirituals. Mar. 10. 29 30 Whoever does leave or lose any thing for my sake (sais Christ) shall receive an Hundred fold now in this time with Persecuton. If persecutors prevail so as to deprive them of their Estates, then god gives them spiritual Mercyes, that shall an Hundred fold make up their outward Miseryes. Yea, at the last they are partakers of the greater glory in the highest Heaven for ever; because of the persecutions which they have endured. Their light affli­ctions work for them a farr more exceeding, and eternal weight of glory. 2. Cor. 4. 7. See 1 Pet. 1. 17. There is indeed a special crown of glory, which the Lord hath prepared, and reserved for them that suffer for His sake, and are Martyrs in His Cause. It is said to such, Great is your Reward in Heaven Mat. 5. 12. Hence were the Christians in the primitive times most desirous to suffer Martyrdome. How did they e'en long to be exposed to the utmost sufferings: because they knew there was a special crown of glory that such sufferers should receive!

4. The Lord in those persecutions which come upon his people, aymes At the Ruine of His, & the Churches Enemies; that way may be made for that. Persecutors must prevail, [Page 16] that they may be fit for the Destruction which the Lord has reserved them for. If we hear of great persecutions raging a­gainst the Church of God, 'tis a sign, and we may con­clude that there is great Destruction, and Desolation on the Enemies of God's people, near at hand. Consider the In­stance of Pharaoh: and see Phil. 1. 28. unto this purpose. It is an evident token that destruction from God is hastening upon those that Trouble his people. The sin of persecution has alwayes been a Fatal, Ruining sin to them that have bin guilty of it. The four great Monarchyes, to their cost, have found it so. Persecution has been the Ruine of the Babyloni­an; the Ruine of the Persian; and the Ruine of the Grecian Monarchy. This was the Ruine of Rome Heathen: Rev. 6. 9. See Dr. Good­win's Sermon on Psal. 105. 14, 15. & this will be the Ruine of Rome-Antichristian also: Rev. 18. 24. Yea, tis seldome seen that the Lord bears long with this Iniquity: And notorious persecutors seldome escape re­markeable strokes of the Judging-Hand of God upon them in this world: besides the Vengeance of Eternal Fire, in the world to come.

The Application of this Truth remains, Wherefore Use. 1. Let us be Exhorted to prepare for Times of Persecution.

To awaken hereunto

Consider. 1. What ground we have from the Scripture, to expect such Times as the Exhortation mentions. It is evident from the Scriptures of Truth, that great persecutions against the Church of God, are at Hand. It is said, 2 Tim. 3. 1. This know also, that in the last Dayes, (& how much more then, in the last of the last Dayes?) Perillous Times shall come: Times perillous especially on account of the great persecutions that the Church of God shall then become subject to. Indeed we expect gloriose Times for the Church of God on Earth: and we have ground from the Scripture so to do. But we have so much the more reason to expect great commotions in the world; yea, great, & dismal persecutions on the Church: For, relating to the Revolutions immediately preceding the [Page 17] great glory promised to the Church upon Earth, it is said, Numb. 24. 23. Alasl who shall Live when God doth these things? It is the Lord's usual way to prepare his people for glorious Times, by great persecutions. What a distressing persecuti­on was there, a little before the children of Israel were deli­vered out of Egypt? The greatest of the Ten persecutions: (that under Dioclesian) was it not just before the Lord raised the Great Constantine to advance Christians in all places of the world. In order to the ascension of the Witnesses, there is first a most horrible slaughter of them. And we know what is said, Rev. 12. 12. The Divel hath great wrath, because he knoweth he hath but a short time. It is so at this Day. Ere long, the Angel with the key of the bottomless Pit, & with a great chain in his hand, will come down from Heaven, and lay hold on the Dragon, that old serpent, which is the Divel, & Satan; and bind him, & cast him into the bottomless pit. Therefore the Divel hath great wrath; & Therefore the Church of God may expect great persecution. A dying Beast will bite cruelly: so is Antichrist, a dying Beast, His Day is comeing; his Time is well nigh expired: but, since he is going out of the world, we may expect that he will give a cruel Bite at the Church of God. Some of the Lord's Wor­thyes, have often spoken concerning the last Conflict with Antichrist; which will be indeed, a short, but a sharp Trial. That Learned, & Holy Usher, was, not long before his death exceeding confident, that the greatest persecution on the Protestant Churches, was yet to come.

Consider 2. What solemn Warnings the Lord hath given unto us, to prepare for Times of Persecution.

God has given us Warning, by letting us know what bloo­dy designs are on foot among the Antichristian Party against the whole Protestant Interest: A Design, the like whereunto has not been, since the Dayes of Haman. God has given us dreadful warning by Signs in Heaven: especially by that fearful Sight, & great Sign which we, & all the World saw [Page 18] the last year blazing among the starrs of God. Such things have sometimes presaged great persecutions on the Church. There was a Comet went before Nero's persecution:. The Arian persecution likewise was preceded, & presaged by Blazing Starrs. God hath given us yet more solemn war­ning by what is already come upon the professors of the Truth in other parts of the world. There is a great persecu­tion raised against the Churches of God, in diverse parts of Europe: especially, in the Kingdome of France: which hath occasioned our being thus before the Lord this day; and which, I cannot but look upon as one awful Consequent of that Portentous Blaze which was seen in the Heavens this time Twelvemoneth. Many thousands of French Protestants lose their Estates: Many thousands of them fly into other Lands; being forced to leave their own. And there is an E­dict come forth concerning them, more bloody than what came from the Court of Pharaoh: Pharaoh's Edict was to de­stroy onely the Bodyes of Israelitish Infants: But now there's an Edict that reacheth further: An Edict for the destruction of the Souls of the Children of Protestants. An Edict to make Idolaters of them. Behold! Our Neighbours House is on Fire! It behoves us to look about us! The Protestants in France, were once (viz. in the Dayes of their King Hen­ry IV.) as unlikely to be oppressed by their enemies, as we are. V Mr. Clark's Examples Vel. 1. Pag. 91. Yea, in the judgement of man, it was supposed no Pow­er could wrest their Libertyes from them. Many of their greatest Nobility were on their side. They had great Armies and brave Commanders to stand up for them. They had a­bove two hundred walled Towns in their possession, for their safety, & security. But trusting too much to an Arm of flesh they soon lost all, and lay at the mercy of their Enemies. We have no reason then, meerly because we are Protestants, and have the Truth with us, to think that we shall not feel the Cross, as well as our Brethren in the world have done. We have escaped it a great while. Our Land hath had rest above [Page 19] forty years: It is therefore Time for us to think of, and pre­pare for sufferings. Our predecessors, the Auntient Britans, living in a remote corner of the world, felt little or nothing of those general persecutions, which other Christians bled under. Nevertheless, the last of the primitive persecutions, fell heavily upon them. And whether the last of Antichrist's Persecutions, will not reach both Englands, the Lord God knoweth. It will be wifedome for us all to prepare for it. In England's peace, we shall have peace. That there are special Designs against the Protestant Interest there, we are all assu­red. Neither are we ignorant how awfully God has threa­tened us with Changes among our selves; as if He would pluck up our Hedge: and then the wild Boar would soon break in upon this Vine. If the Lord should be provoked to bring a Change upon us as to our Civil State: If that wall of Government, which hath hitherto been such a mercy to this people, should be removed; there are three Evils, that would quickly follow; viz. Superstition, Prophaneness, and Persecution. If the raines of Government should fall into Hands that are enemies to the wayes of Christ; we can in rea­son expect no better.

Consider. 3. What Sins there are among us that call for such a scourge at this. Those very sins that are wont to be the Forerunners of persecution, are to be found in the midst of thee, O N-England. I shall not inlarge, but is there not a great decay of First-love? See Rev. 2. 4, 5. Thou hast left thy first Love. What follows? I will come quickly, & remove thy Candlestick out of its place. How was the Ephesian Candle­stick removed, but by a storm of persecution, which blew it down? This is the Issue of leaving First-love! And have not we done so? It is indeed seldome known that an Apostati­zing people are brought home to God, but in such a way as this. We may then fear it; especially considering that other means have not prevailed unto our Reformation. Are there not Contentions? Have not we been like foolish little Birds, [Page 20] Pecking at one another, until the great Kite be ready to come, and devour one as well as another? Of late God hath let loose Indian Wolves upon us; in part, for this very sin, no doubt. And what further He may do unto us, is known unto himself. Is there not Formality? Oh! what Formali­ty! I remember tis observed, that a little before the great Parisian Massacre in France, wherein thirty thousand Prote­stants perished, there was a great Decay of the power of god­liness among them: Formality was grown upon them. Notwithstanding the extream dangers attending them; there was little earnest seeking unto God: but their minds were taken with worldly matters; the great concernments of Eternity in the mean time neglected. Oh that it were not too much so, with the generality of Christians amongst us! We have then cause to fear, and to be awakened.

But what shall we do, that we may be prepared for suffering Times?

I would say but two words by way of Direction. Labour for true Faith, and for Assurance, and you'll be Well prepa­red for the greatest sufferings.

1. Labour for Syncerity. O let us look to that, that we are built upon a right foundation; and then the House will Stand though the Floods come against it. Yea, though never such winds, and waves, & floods of Temptation, and Persecution should arise; He that is by a true Faith built upon Christ, af­ter all is done, shall stand. I know it is a Thought, that often times cometh into the heart of a child of God, If suffring Times should come, shall I be able to hold out? If my pro­fession should cost me the loss of all that's dear to me in this world, what then should I Doe? And it is good for Chri­stians, to maintain an holy Jealousy over their own hearts. Self-jealous Mr. Saunders, endured the fire; and died a Martyr at the Stake: when Self-confident Dr. Pendleton tur­ned Papist, and served the Times, to avoid persecution. But this is the way, to be sure to hold out, (come Life, come [Page 21] Death)even to be sincere in the Lord's sight; To believe on the Lord Jesus Christ with faith unfeigned. All the gates of Hell, all the persecutors on Earth, in conjunction with all the powers of Darkness, shall never finally prevail against any true Believer. Mockings, Scourgings, Bonds, Rackings, Tortures, the worst that Satan, and his bloody persecuting children can devise, will be endured, rather than Sin will be committed, or the Truth denied, where there is true Faith, Heb. 11. 35, 36, 37. For Faith maketh a man couragious; and willing to venture himself in the Cause of Christ. It maketh him to fear God more than men. The sincere Be­liever will say, as sometimes that great Confessor told his per­secutors, You may pluck my Heart out of my body: but you shall never pluck the Truth out of my Heart.

2. Labour for Assurance. In the Primitive Times, Assu­rance was not so rare a thing among Christians, as now it is: for those were suffering Times; and believers did need Assu­rance; that so they might be, at a Minutes warning, ready to be called forth to die, and to suffer for the Truth. If a man be called to part with his Estate; and he has no assurance of that which is better: how sad, and miserable will he be? When otherwise, he might be as joyful as they in Heb. 10. 34. Where there is Sincerity, there will be constancy in suf­ferings: but Assurance is necessary, in order unto comfort in sufferings. It will tend much to the honour of Christ, when his servants are exceeding Joyful in all their Tribulation: For which cause, He doth sometimes bestow the grace of Assurance upon them at the Time when they are called to suffer for his Name; though before that, they had it not. One of our English Martyrs, that suffered in those Dayes when Pópery sat in the Throne, as He was going to burn & die at the Stake, cryed out in an Extasy of Joy, O the Com­forter is come, He is come, He is come into my soul. O then Labour for this Grace. They that know in themselves, that they shall be rewarded in Heaven, if they be persecuted on [Page 22] Earth; will not be much Troubled, though they be deprived of their Estates, Liberties, Lives, & All, in the Cause of Christ or for the Gospel's sake.

Use. 2. Let us endeavour to Prevent this evil which I have been discoursing of.

For although it be true as hath been said, If persecution do come, the event of it will, by the overruling Hand of di­vine providence, be good; God will have glory; the Church will have spiritual advantage: yet it is not, in it self, a thing to be desired; but to be greatly deprecated. Wo to them that desire the evil Day: that Day is dark, and not light. When a storm of Persecution comes, what woful Desolati­ons come therewith! How many Churches are thereby laid most desolate! How many Lives are lost therein! especially of the Ministers of God; and most of all, of those that are most faithful, able, and useful. Look for that! If a storm of persecution blow over into America, Some Ministers of God whom you now hear preaching, will be made a Sacri­fice: A sacrifice to confirm the Faith of this His people. The Lord Jesus hath placed them in the forefront of the hottest battel. And such of them as are most dear to Christ, shall be singled out to be his Champions, and to lose their lives in his Cause.

But what shall we do, that this Evil may be Prevented?

I Answer.

1. Let us be Humbled for those sins that might provoke God to let loose Persecutors upon us. Some may think, the best way would be, to comply with the Adversary: But I am sure This is a better way; even to be Humbled for our sins. The wise man sales, When a mans wayes please the Lord, his Enemies shall be at Peace with him. Prov. 16. 7. O Let us be Hum­bled for the sins already mentioned: For that Apostasy; for those Divisions; for that Formality, & Lukewarmness in Reli­gion, which is too general among us. And let us be Hum­bled for one sin more. That is, Our great Unthankfulness for [Page 23] our precious Libertyes. Never any people in the world, had greater cause of Thankfulness unto God, than we have had. In respect of our Civil Libertyes; wherein we have been ad­mirably priviledged; and which God his to a wonderment, continued to us. And in respect of our Spiritual Libertyes; The Libertyes of the Gospel of Christ, and of the House of God; which we have been blessed with. But certainly, we have not been so Thankful, as we ought to be: O be Hum­bled for this!

2. Let us Pitty, & Pray for the Lord's suffering servants.

To pray for the peace of Jerusalem, is the way to prosper. Psal. 122. 6. To be grieved for the Afflictions of Joseph, Amos, 6. 6. is the way to prevent the like sufferings from co­ming upon our selves. The Lord give us much of that pub­lick spirit. Perhaps carnal Reason will say, It is not good to be so open in espousing a suffering Cause: we had better be more private. But Moses, who was a wise Man, was of a­nother mind: Choosing Rather to suffer affliction with the peo­ple of God. Heb. 11. 25. And let ûs give the world to see, & know that we are not ashamed to own His suffering saints. Let us remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being our selves also in the body. So that if Enquiry be made of those that are going from us, to other parts of the world, What are they doing in New-England? The Reply may be, They are Fasting, & praying for the persecuted people of God in the world. I say, if any ask of you, What are they doing in New­England, Tell them, that in New England, they did no soo­ner hear of the persecuted Condition of the Protestants in France, but they set themselves, to Past, & Pray to the God of Heaven, for them. We shall not repent of what we have done; when God appears to take Vengeance on the Enemy. If we sympathise with the Lord's people in their present suf­ferings, and sorrows; In the Day when Jerusalem shall Re­joice; we shall be glad, and rejoice with Her: Even in that [Page 24] Day, which is not farr off; when the Lord will be Jealous for Jerusalem, and for Zion, with a great Jealousy.

Tibi Domine.


Pag. 11. L. 19. for (have) Read (hath)

P. 15. L. 24. Read 2 Cor. 4. 17. & 1 Pet. 1. 7.


There is intended shortly to be Published, a Treatise of this Authors, about the Duty of PRAYER, also concer­ning the SACRAMENTS of the New-Testament; & several other Subjects.

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